VivienneR's 2020 reading
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Pond hockey, an everyday sight in Canadian towns. If the pond isn't accessible, any icy surface such as streets and back lanes are good substitutes. This painting is by Canadian artist, Doug Laird.
I've participated in Club Read since 2013. Mysteries are my go-to reading choice but actually I'll read just about anything. This year I hope to reduce my collection of mid-20th century women authors. Now that I"ve put it in words, I may have jinxed the plan.
Originally from Northern Ireland, I now live in the eastern side of British Columbia surrounded by snowy mountains.
I can also be found at the Category Challenge here and if some of my reading choices seem odd, they were probably chosen to fill a challenge.
Eustace and Hilda by L. P. Hartley
The case of the missing servant by Tarquin Hall
Read in January:
1. Behind the beautiful forevers by Katherine Boo 4★
2. Victoria the Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire by Julia Baird 5★
3. The Breathing method by Stephen King 3★
4. A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote 4.5★
5. Lucky Us by Amy Bloom 1★
6. The word is murder by Anthony Horowitz 4★
7. This boy by Alan Johnson 5★
8. Nothing Ventured by Jeffrey Archer 2.5★
9. Transcription by Kate Atkinson 4★
Happy new year, Vivienne! Dropping off my star - glad to see you set up a CR thread after all!
Behind the beautiful forevers by Katherine Boo 4★
A harrowing account of a Mumbai slum. The appalling poverty is matched by ubiquitous corruption as India's capitalism soars and the poor pay. Sadly this includes children who take their lives of scavenging for granted. Boo, a Pulitzer winning journalist, has written a page-turner, no matter how abhorrent the topic. The title is taken from advertisements posted on a wall for tiles that will be "beautiful forever", not than any Annawadians will ever own them.
>7 VivienneR: I have this on order from the library, Vivienne, so I expect I'll be getting to it this month or next (depending on when it comes in). Glad to hear that it's a good read.
>7 VivienneR: It seems to be a tough book, but really interesting. Thanks for putting this on my radar!
>7 VivienneR: The library has it, so I may get to this one. It sounds interesting, but tough to get through. I’ll have to pick my time.
>11 rachbxl: Thank you, it's good to be starting another year of reading and visiting the threads of other readers.
>12 AlisonY: I found that it was necessary to raise a mental protection barrier of sorts.
>13 raton-liseur: Yes, a tough book but worthwhile to understand the culture.
>14 NanaCC: Good idea to pick the right time.
Victoria the Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire by Julia Baird 5★
Well-researched and well-written, this sweeping biography held my interest throughout. I've read other books about Victoria and her ministers but this one puts them all in the shade. The social and cultural history of the era is a combined naturally with the Queen's story. What impressed me most was that Victoria abhorred race and class discrimination, and cruelty to children and animals, not qualities common at the time. Highly recommended.
The cover image is the portrait she placed in Albert's hands before his burial.
>16 VivienneR: I'm going to note this one, as I've got several Queen Victoria books on my wish list but have never known which is the best one to start with.
I'm thinking that the cover portrait is particularly kind to her - no wonder she wanted Albert to be buried with it!
>16 VivienneR: I’m looking forward to the new season of Victoria on Masterpiece. Your five stars is putting this book on my wishlist.
>17 AlisonY: My first thought about Victoria is that her mourning went on forever. In fact she went on working just as hard, but just didn't appear in public. Baird's book is so well-researched that I'd put it at the top of your list.
>18 NanaCC: I think I read that the Masterpiece series was taken from Baird's book. I don't watch tv but will watch out for that show.
When in Bath (UK) recently our (unreliable) tour guide told a funny story about Queen Victoria that made me realize I don’t know anything about her. Noting this book.
>20 dchaikin: A funny story about Victoria? Intriguing!
I've been looking for your thread but it seems you haven't started yet. I look forward to seeing your reading list.
It’s coming. I have had trouble deciding how to go about it...and I haven’t finished a book yet. So, just reading other threads now.
A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote
Not really a children's book, but one that can be enjoyed by anyone. This is a beautiful autobiographical story from Capote with fabulous illustrations by Beth Peck.
I placed a hold on this in December and it just arrived, which is ok, because this book is a worthwhile read anytime.
>25 auntmarge64: Thanks for dropping by. I haven't managed to visit all threads yet but I'l make it soon! Happy New Year!
>27 VivienneR: I really liked this one too, Vivienne. I should read another. I think he’s quite clever.
This boy by Alan Johnson 5★
After a childhood that makes the reader redefine the word poverty, Johnson went on to become a leading and popular politician and cabinet minister. That he survived the severe hardships of his childhood is amazing in itself, that he was unscarred by it and able to succeed in politics sends my admiration soaring. I'm looking forward to the second book in his autobiography, Please, Mr Postman, which I already own, followed by The Long and Winding Road. He was a devoted Beatles fan and used the song titles as appropriate book titles. A memorable book, memorable individual.
I had never heard of Alan Johnson (apologies UK), his memoir sounds terrific.
>31 dchaikin: I had never heard of Johnson either, although it's been a while since I lived in the UK.
>32 kidzdoc: I've had it on my wishlist since it won the Orwell Prize and at last I decided it was time to spring for a copy. My husband read Please, Mr Postman and thought it was just OK, although I don't think that was the right book to read first.
Having grown up in the UK in approximately the same era, I've seen families in poverty, but was shocked at the level Johnson experienced.
>32 kidzdoc: IIRC I also purchased This Boy after it was chosen as the winner of the Orwell Prize. One of my British friends who read that book also felt that Please, Mr Postman was good, but nowhere near as strong as the first book in the trilogy.
The poverty described in This Boy was surprising to me as well.
Nothing Ventured by Jeffrey Archer 2.5★
I believe I've had my fill of Jeffrey Archer. In this novel Archer has followed all the rules for creating a bestseller yet it fell flat for me. My copy was an audiobook narrated by George Blagden whose girlish voice was all wrong for the novel. As well, he had to strain to get something close to an upper crust accent, a painful experience for the listener. My rating was reduced even though it wasn't high to start with.
I suspect that this one will get better when he writes the next volumes - it has too much of a "first volume" feeling to it, doesn't it? :) I read it late last year and I liked it better than you did apparently but it is not his greatest...
>38 VivienneR: Nope - read it on paper. I rarely listen to books - I prefer to listen to audiodrama when I am listening to something or to a few very special combinations of narrators and authors... I can imagine how an inept narrator will make a disaster of it though... - it is a period novel after all. Oh well - I am planning on picking up the next one when it is out so we will see.
>39 AnnieMod: A "disaster" is exactly what it was. I don't know why I stayed with it. I'll watch out for your opinion of the next one before I consider it.
>30 VivienneR: It usually would never even occur to me to read a memoir from a politician, but it sounds like I might have to consider this one. Also glad to see another positive review of the Horowitz book, since I've been trying to decide whether I want to read it.
>43 VivienneR: I enjoyed this one too, Vivienne. I remember getting to the twist at the end, and thinking I should read it again to see what clues I must have missed. I didn’t, of course, too many books....
>44 NanaCC: I know what you mean, Colleen! I kept the book so that I could read it again sometime knowing the twist was coming. I have a feeling I'll enjoy the second reading more.
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