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vee_new

November: what are you reading?

vee_new
8 years ago

I get suggestions for books from the strangest places.

This one Peggy by Pauline Neville came from the obituary column of the 'Telegraph'.

Neville grew up in Western Scotland as a daughter of the manse, her Father having left Ulster to study at Glasgow University, but the family travelled back to the 'Kingdom of Mourne' every summer to stay with their relatives.

Peggy was her favourite cousin and the book takes the form of recollections while PN sits at her bedside in a nursing home.

In no-way mawkish or sentimental she 'talks about' their shared childhood, the strong influence of her Father, the often narrow beliefs of the Protestants in that area and the increasing tensions between the two communities during the Troubles (this was written in the early 90's) How members of her family needed military protection . . . one clergyman was targeted for being a chaplain to an army-base, a bomb was planted by their front door and the old Catholic servant picked it up and threw it into the sea . . . the thin line that had to be walked between 'friend' and 'foe' and the basic goodness of the ordinary Ulster people and their sense of sadness against the lack of hospitality displayed by all the warring parties.

This, though, is about much more than the politics of the time as PN, despite travelling the world, had a great love for the country and her extended family there.

Comments (65)

  • msmeow
    8 years ago

    Speaking of giving up on books, I just can't get into Stealing Athena again. I'll try a little more of the Patricia Cornwell. It's one of four books I bought recently at a library sale with my mom. It's about the investigation of a fire that burned a home and a stable full of horses, plus a serial killer who has escaped from the mental institution. As I said, it's grim. Funny thing - the fourth book (which I haven't started yet) is apparently also about a fire caused when a plane crashed into a house.

    Donna

  • carolyn_ky
    8 years ago

    I'm reading The Frozen Shroud, another Daniel Kind book by Martin Edwards. I read the first of the series last year while on vacation in Cornwall. It was a paperback in the B&B's bookcase of "take one, leave one," and I'm so glad I did. I have really enjoyed the series and just have one more to read, which was published this year. He has another, older series. Guess I'll see if my library has them.



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  • michellecoxwrites
    8 years ago

    Harborrose - sorry to hear you didn't like A Confederacy of Dunces! I read it years ago and found it very funny. Ah, well, as you said, life's too short. Am almost finished with The Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig! Anyone else read this series? I am currently in love with it.


  • bungalowmo
    8 years ago

    The last 3 weeks...reading my A+ Certification training.

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  • lemonhead101
    8 years ago

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  • vee_new
    Original Author
    8 years ago

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    Part of me was wondering if Molly would turn out to have a terrible secret and all would be revealed in the last page . . . but no . . . the hot summer's day in Dublin just draws to a close.

  • msmeow
    8 years ago

    Bungalowmo - I hope you finish your certification soon!

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  • reader_in_transit
    8 years ago

    Vee,

    Re: Molly Fox's Birthday. Like you I expected some secret to be uncovered or climax to occur. And they do happen, IMO. Within this soft-spoken novel, the events revealed by the visitors are tantamount to secrets and in the case of one of them traumatic. About the only thing I didn't like about the novel was the unnecessary coupling of the narrator and the friend.

    Michelle,

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  • michellecoxwrites
    8 years ago

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  • reader_in_transit
    8 years ago

    Thanks, Michelle, for the info.

  • annpanagain
    8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Michelle, I see what you mean about Goodreads and the Pink Carnation! My head spun as though I were watching a tennis match with opinions veering from awful to wonderful reviews! Will I try it? Probably, as I like to "form me own opinion".

    At present I have wrenched myself from the 19th Century books to a modern novel " Second Chance Summer" by Jill Shavis from the library "Grab and Go" shelf by the door. What a change of language and style!

    Although set in the Colorado Mountains, I can see one resemblance to Australia. Don't pick up wood from a woodpile without checking for snakes and spiders!

  • msmeow
    8 years ago

    Ann, the same goes for Florida!

  • carolyn_ky
    8 years ago

    And Kentucky.

  • annpanagain
    8 years ago

    All this talk of creepies and crawlies sounds like a line from "The Teddy Bear's Picnic"

    "If you go into the woods today you're in for a big surprise!"

    I had a pleasant surprise in the bookshop today as I found a new Maeve Binchy short story collection "A Few of the Girls". I didn't expect to see any more of her books.

  • bigdogstwo
    8 years ago

    Reading Dead Wake by Erik Larson. It is about the sinking of the Lusitania and typical of Larson, I have already learned more about both the ship and WW1 than I previously knew. Bowing head in shame at my ignorance since I am only on page 82, and expecting to be brilliant by the end of the book. (tongue firmly placed in cheek)

    PAM

  • msmeow
    8 years ago

    Pam, I read Dead Wake a few months ago. I also learned a LOT! You hate to say you enjoyed a book about such a tragedy, but I don't know what other word to use.

    Donna

  • bigdogstwo
    8 years ago

    Donna,

    Thanks for the positive comment. I will keep you posted. Since I have enjoyed everything else he has written, chances are that this one will also be intriguing.

    PAM

  • maxmom96
    8 years ago

    I also read Dead Wake, in fact got it the first day it hit the stores. I've always enjoyed everything he's written and have seen him interviewed several times. he's quite a wit.

  • sheri_z6
    8 years ago

    I just finished the newest Nora Roberts, Stars of Fortune. I hate to admit it, but I've been reading her books for so long now she's gone rather flat for me. I've been a fan since she started writing in the 80s, and at this point I can pretty much predict most of the story, which doesn't mean it's bad, just that I've read too much of her work. The plot was OK and the characters are a mash up of her standards, though each does have a little supernatural something extra, so it's not a straight-up romance. I'll read the next two books of this series, but I won't be awaiting the next book quite as impatiently as I might have done in the past.

    I have Dead Wake in my TBR pile, time to move it up!

  • msmeow
    8 years ago

    Sheri, I feel very much the same about Stuart Woods. I've read nearly all of his books, and the last few fell flat for me. I think there was one I didn't even finish! I think sometimes when a writer uses a character for a long time they get stale.

    Donna

  • carolyn_ky
    8 years ago

    I am reading Corridors of the Night, the latest William Monk mystery by Anne Perry. I have been feeling much like Sheri and Donna about both her series, but this book is better. (Just as I felt like quitting . . . )

  • Rosefolly
    8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    I remember reading The Vines of Yarrabee years ago, back in my teens. I actually found it depressing and disturbing. I never read another book by that author. However, I never forgot it, so I guess the author did something right.

    As for The Princess Bride, it was absolutely a book first, written by William Goldman. It had a serious cult following. When they announced that it was being made into a movie, I was worried that the book would not live up to the novel. I was very thankful that they were so respectful of the source material. The movie turned out great.

    Lately I've been reading books and short stories by a new author named Rosamund Hodge. Her work is based on a blend of fantasy, history, and classical mythology. One novel was called Crimson Bound and the other Cruel Beauty. I find them emotionally rich and powerful in the use of language. She also has a novella I downloaded and some short stories posted online. One of my sisters recommended her books to me. (Not Rouan; there are five sisters in our family as well as a brother.) I'm so glad she did!

    Rosefolly

  • reader_in_transit
    8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Finished Visible City by Tova Mirvis. A stay-at-home young mother, overwhelmed by taking care of her young children, spends evenings spying on an middle aged couple across the street. Then she meets them and their lives entangle. I didn't care much for any of the characters or the story.

    The book wickedly mocks modern parenting , mothers who talk to the children in sedate controlled voices, not matter how angry they are, and feel guilty if they feed them junk food.

    There is side story about a missing John La Farge stained glass window and another one about ghost subway stations. Those stories were for me the most interesting parts. However, the author says nothing about the inspirations for these side stories. I checked and there certainly are abandoned/closed subway stations, some of them must have been pretty impressive in their time. Link below to some of them:

    https://www.google.com/search?q=ghost+subway+stations&biw=1280&bih=878&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&sqi=2&ved=0CCgQsARqFQoTCPH9qaGWm8kCFYujiAodrj4IIg&dpr=1

  • msmeow
    8 years ago

    I finished The Burnt House by Faye Kellerman last night. Wow, did it have some interesting twists! I enjoyed it so much I've downloaded two more of her books from the library. (One is a collaboration between her and her husband Jonathan Kellerman.)

    Before diving into one of those, I'm going to give Point of Origin by Patricia Cornwell one more try to see if I can get into it.

    Donna

  • kathy_t
    8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    I just finished About Grace by Anthony Doerr. I chose it because I so enjoyed All The Light We Cannot See and because I found the author so interesting when I watched an interview with him that appeared on Boise
    Public Television. I liked About Grace a lot in spite of the fact that it's pace is agonizingly slow. Lots of detail, lots of descriptions about
    snowflakes (yes, a snow book!), the water cycle, and a protagonist (a hydrologist) who takes his time about carrying out his intentions. The plot hinges on the fact that he sees very detailed (and sometimes horrifying) scenes of the future in his dreams. Witnessing the accuracy of his premonitions affects his personality and the decidedly odd course of his life.

  • carolyn_ky
    8 years ago

    Donna, I have just picked up The Theory of Death, the latest in Faye Kellerman's Decker/Lazarus books. I have read them all and think what I find most interesting about them is the information about the Jewish traditions that they observe in their home.

  • msmeow
    8 years ago

    Carolyn, I thought it was interesting that Decker tells people he is vegetarian rather than telling them that he keeps kosher. :) The cover of The Burnt House says "Decker and Lazarus are back", but there wasn't a character named Lazarus in it, at least not that I recall. The three detectives were Decker, Dunn and Oliver.

    I thought she had some pretty interesting plot twists. A couple of times I thought I had it figured out, then discovered I was wrong!

    Donna

  • msmeow
    8 years ago

    Oh, another funny thing (tagging on to the poor grammar thread). The copy of The Burnt House I have is a former library book. Toward the end someone had made a couple of very neat corrections of typos in red ink. What was funny was that there were other typos before them, and after, but the previous reader had only corrected a couple of them.

    Donna

  • carolyn_ky
    8 years ago

    Donna, Rina's former name was Lazarus. The first books go through Peter's and her courtship.

  • socks
    8 years ago

    Just wrapping up My Antonia (Willa Cather). Beautifully written, a nice but not gripping story.

    I picked one up at the library: The Race for Paris (Meg Waite Clayton). It's about female war correspondents in WWII. I'm looking forward to starting it.

  • vee_new
    Original Author
    8 years ago

    I have been hunting through several heavy boxes of books left in our house by daughter and s-in-law, first while they travelled round S America and now . . . because they still have no-where to keep them. ;-(

    These are mainly 'modern' or 'important' works from s-in-l's university days, so thinking to improve my mind I chose Crow Road by Iain Banks but found it unengaging, tedious and obviously written for a generation (or two) younger than me. I am not interested in the makes of fast cars, booze or drugs and although it gets many 'stars' and praise on various book-related sites, I have given up on it.

    Another book from the same box was Winesburg Ohio by Sherwood Anderson, an author of whom I had never heard. A collection of short stories set in the 1900-ish small rural town where nothing much happens. The men are dullards, rough or wild and the women seem to go mad! Meant to be based on Anderson's own life . . . the usual drunken father, TB ridden mother, many odd jobs, eventual newspaper work, periods of insanity and four wives. Not a book to raise the spirits.

    In contrast an easy quick read Indian Summer by Marcia Willets. The sun is always shining, the characters are well-heeled and constantly drive between London and Devon: the edges of Dartmoor must be teeming with these types. They live in beautiful old farmhouses/restored cottages and the women give supper parties for 10 unexpected guests without throwing a tantrum. At the same time the hostess is caring for several beautiful grandchildren, sorting out the marital problems of the neighbours and walking packs of dogs. These animals often sleep/share the beds of the pale, beautiful but clever heroines and are allowed to lick the faces of the delightful children/poppets . . . someone should warn Miss Willets about the dangers of dog spit generally, and especially on eyes/optic nerves.

    I should add that it was/is written in the present tense, possibly because much of the 'action' takes place in the past. Takes some getting used to!

  • msmeow
    8 years ago

    Ah, thank you, Carolyn! I'll go back and read the earlier books and "catch up" with the characters.

    Last night I started Capitol Crimes by Jonathan and Faye Kellerman. The main detective is Will Barnes, who was the boyfriend of Detective Dunn in The Burnt House.

    Donna

  • kathy_t
    8 years ago

    Vee - I love your description of Indian Summer!

  • lemonhead101
    8 years ago

    LOL, Vee. Your post was pretty hilarious to read!! Good one.

  • kathy_t
    8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Last night I finished reading my first recommendation from the Snow Books thread: Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason, an Icelandic author, suggested by Netla. It was very interesting. A police detective in Reykjavik was investigating a suicide that he personally considered suspicious. Since it was not an official police investigation, he had to conduct it privately and on the sly. At the same time, he investigated and solved two missing-person cold cases which were not known to be related, but turned out to be. I had to read the book kind of fast so I would not forget the multiple plotlines and the many characters with Icelandic names between my reading times. But it was a fast read so it went well and kept me entertained. And I learned about the Icelandic dish, Seared Sheepshead, which was pretty interesting also. Thanks, Netla!

  • carolyn_ky
    8 years ago

    I'm reading Jade Dragon Mountain by Elsa Hart, her first novel. It is a murder mystery set in 1708 China on the Tibet border. The victim is an old Jesuit priest, and the investigator is an exiled librarian. I can't remember where I heard about it, but if it was one of you, I thank you.

  • msmeow
    8 years ago

    I just finished Capital Crimes, a pair of novellas by Jonathan and Faye Kellerman. The main character in one was Will Barnes, who was a character in The Burnt House, that I just read. The other one was set in Nashville with a different pair of detectives. I enjoyed both stories.

    This book got me thinking, what makes a book a "novella" rather than a "novel"? Each story was around 150 pages, and I've read many books termed "novels" that were no longer than that. I'm sure many of you well-read people can enlighten me. :)

    Donna

  • sheri_z6
    8 years ago

    I'm reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and I'm very surprised to say I really like it. I had no interest initially, but it's for book group so after hemming and hawing for a month I finally buckled down to read it over Thanksgiving. Once I got past the 80 page mark, I was all in. Now at the half way point I do think it's a bit bloated and she could have easily lost about half of the Las Vegas section without harming the story line (yes, I understand the relationship between Theo and Boris, I do, I don't need 40 more pages of it, thank you anyway), but she does write beautifully, and has an uncanny understanding of teenage boys. I'll be interested to see how the second half goes. A friend told me to think of it as a Dickens book, and that has helped. Now to finish it in the next four days ...

    I have a new Ilona Andrews book, Sweep in Peace, waiting for me when I'm done :)

  • Rosefolly
    8 years ago

    Re-reading The Rosie Project. I had read it previously as an airplane book, then gave it away when I was done. It was actually a pleasant read, but I did not expect to read it again. However, my book club chose it for this month so I checked it out of the library. Certainly I was not going to buy it a second time!

  • woodnymph2_gw
    8 years ago

    harborrose, I highly recommend "In the Garden of Beasts" by Erik Larson. It really made that period in Germany come alive for me. Larson is fast becoming one of my favorite authors.

  • reader_in_transit
    8 years ago

    Donna,

    I was thinking exactly about that yesterday, how long is a book called a novella as opposed to a short story or a novel. Well, according to Wikipedia, it is "longer than a short story but shorter than a novel".

    This Australian writer is more precise:

    http://askville.amazon.com/Word-count-long-novella-matter-short-story/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=6153729

  • msmeow
    8 years ago

    Ha! Love that Wikipedia definition! LOL The information from Lee Masterson is very interesting, though. Thanks!

    Donna

  • bigdogstwo
    8 years ago

    harbor rose,

    I second what Wood said above re: Larson and In the Garden of Beasts. I read it and all of Larson's other works. He is a writer who just does not write FAST enough for me! Looking forward to whatever he writes next.

    I am currently reading And the Sea Will Tell by Vincent Bugliosi. (Thank you to all who recommended it.) Frieda, I have been looking online for photos of the atoll and as I know you have been there, can you offer any insight? While discussing the book with DH, he said, "If we had 'pulled up' to a deserted island and saw four other boats already moored, we would have turned around and left." Now then, this is a man who has no sea legs but is highly aware of his surroundings. How would it had made you feel? Four boats in the middle of nowhere seems quite a crowd, doesn't it? For those who have not read it, no spoilers here... this bit about four boats at Palmyra at the same time is written at about page 60.

    Have to read The Golem and the Jenni for book club. Have yet to crack the front cover open on that one.

    PAM



  • friedag
    8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    PAM, when I was at Palmyra in 2012, I didn't notice any of the boats (4 already there) moored in the west lagoon until we were nearly through the channel, the only ingress, parallel to Sand Island. I don't remember whether that was because I was too nervous watching for the reef or they weren't visible. It was probably the former because I do recall that from where we moored just off the west end of Cooper Island, boats were clearly visible outside the reef, looking southwest toward the channel.

    Nowadays, although there are no permanent occupants on Palmyra Atoll, there are temporary residents, employees of the Nature Conservancy and other U.S. government staff, year round. Any boats making a call at Palmyra have to seek permission to visit, and what with radios and other electronics, the staff at the station have to be contacted so they expect any boat's arrival. I don't know what the protocol is for refusing moorage to unauthorized visitors.

    From what I understand, in 1974 when the Sea Wind and the Iola were there, the atoll, although it was technically private property and permission was supposed to have been sought from the owners in Honolulu, in reality it was hard to keep tabs on what boats came and went. There were no permanent residents since the U.S. military abandoned it after WWII, but Palmyra was a crossroads of sorts for sailing from Hawai'i down to Pago Pago and other South Sea islands and back. Many boats probably stopped over for a few days just out of curiosity and to take a break. Some stayed for a few days and sometimes a few weeks. Apparently it wasn't unusual for several boats to congregate in the west lagoon for short periods, although there were spells when it was completely deserted. What both couples -- Mac and Muff Graham, Buck Walker and Stephanie Stearns - didn't realize was that Palmyra was frequented fairly often, though intermittently. They had expected it to be deserted except for each of the couples alone. Evidently, this caused resentment for those who wanted solitude and complete run of the place themselves.

    I don't think it would be particularly unusual these days to call in at any island or atoll of any size to find one or two boats already there or, if it was deserted, to be joined by other boats after a day or maybe just a few hours. Of course there's no way of knowing whether the occupants of those boats are good sorts or bad, but from my experience (limited to only half a dozen runs south of the equator) and the experiences of my DH and sons, the sailors seem to be mostly good, friendly sorts. The Grahams had the misfortune to meet up with Buck Walker, though. When you have finished the book, PAM, I would like to know what you think of Stephanie Stearns (Jennifer Jenkins in the book).

  • michellecoxwrites
    8 years ago

    Sheri - I will be interested to hear how you like The Goldfinch in the end. I agree that that drug-infested Las Vegas part of the book could have been cut. I'm not a prude, but I got sick of reading drug experiences. I think it is a relatively well-written book, but I did not like any of the characters. At least in Dickens, it's obvious who to cheer for. I kept waiting for something to turn around, but it never did, unless you count the last few pages in which Theo has some sort of epiphany. For me, however, this emotional payoff was too little, too late. Not enough to slog through the other 700+ pages. Would love to hear what you think after finishing, however!

  • bigdogstwo
    8 years ago

    Frieda,

    I will keep you posted. Right now, this book is haunting me. I find it disturbing on so many levels. You are much more well-traveled as a sailor than I ever desire to be. I like the "afternoon lolling around on the water and back on shore by dinner" sailing schedule. And have been known, on many occasions, to just drop sail and read. Or, roll overboard and swim while towing my boat behind me. (obviously it is small and NOT a larger live-aboard.) Thank you for offering so much insight into this island. It has been quite a while since a book has struck me down this deeply and I find myself wishing over and over and over that is was fiction.

    PAM



  • msmeow
    8 years ago

    PAM, I agree! I've read it twice and it affected me both times.