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December: What are you reading?

netla
8 years ago

Another month, more books. I was going through my stack of partially read books and discovered I have about 10 books in some state of being read, some dating back a couple of years. So what did I do? Started another one, of course.

My current read is The Places in Between by Rory Stewart. It describes his walk across Afghanistan from Herat to Kabul in 2002 in the dead of winter. I think I will probably finish this one.

Comments (78)

  • carolyn_ky
    8 years ago

    Vee, I agree about the main character in Dark Corners. I had the same impulse to just shake him as I did with Ms. No Name in Rebecca. I'm not sure about the decision to make that book a bedtime story! I am enjoying The Lake House much more.

  • annpanagain
    8 years ago

    I am reading "Miss Ruffles Inherits Everything" by Nancy Martin and have had to look up some of the Texan references.

    The picture on the dust jacket looks different to the Googled ones of Texas Cattle curs. Anyone know what dog it actually is?

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  • pat m
    8 years ago

    I am reading "drinking in america" by Susan Cheever, after I saw her being interviewed on TV . Fascinating to hear how much the Pilgrims drank, even children. By 1830, she says we were the drunkest country in the world.

  • annpanagain
    8 years ago

    I finished "Miss Ruffles" and decided to check on the dust jacket dog picture. Frieda, you are an inspiration for me, the way you look into things!

    I think it has more of an Australian Queensland Blue Heeler look about it and was probably chosen because the colour and markings are more attractive. As a cattle working dog, they are not really pretty, they don't have to be!

    Reading of her antics, I was itching to train her! Digging indeed...BAD dog!!

  • woodnymph2_gw
    8 years ago

    I finished "And the Dark Sacred Night" by Julia Glass. But I cannot say I would recommend it. It is a long, convoluted, multi-generational family history about a dark family secret. There were so many, many characters that I could scarcely keep up, so that it became burdensome to read. The same story could have been told, I think, with about 150 pages omitted. Julia Glass is a fine writer. I enjoyed her "Three Junes." I simply think she needed a better editor for this one. Also, there are a lot of cutsie, "in" jokes which I found detracted from the narrative.

    So it is with great relief that I am now beginning "Circling the Sun" about the life of Beryl Markham, by Paula McClain.

  • reader_in_transit
    8 years ago

    Finished The Bells by Richard Harvell, a novel about the early years of an 18th century castrato opera singer, who has an extraordinary sense of hearing. It takes place in St Gallen, Switzerland and Vienna. It is a sad--but not depressing--beautiful book. The best parts are the description of sound and the singing scenes.

    I wish it would end after he becomes a famous opera singer, but it ends just before that. Still a very good novel.

  • irisgal_z9
    8 years ago

    In Nov. I fell in love with Barbara Pym's writing. First one I read was 'Crampton Hodnet' (1940, published posthumously 1985). The humor hooked me. Next was 'Less Than Angels' (1955) and just finished 'An Unsuitable Attachment' (1963, posthumously 1982) which was not my favorite.

    The other notable Dec. read is Daniel Woodrell. Excellent writing in the vernacular of some residents of the Ozark Plateau in Missouri. (whew, was that politically correct?) 'The Maid's Version' (2013) was gut wrenching. Unflinching account of life for the poor and the well-to-do. An unsolved explosion at the dance hall continues to haunt the community.

    'The Vancouver Stories: West Coast Fiction from Canada's Best Writers' was nostalgic for me. Alice Munro was one of the many authors I enjoyed in it. Consequently read 'Runaway' by her and very impressed with her mastery of the short story. Always liked Chekov too. Some critics see a parallel.

    Thanks to the people who recommended these. Doubt I'd have found them by myself. Finishing up another Joe Sandilands mystery by Barbara Cleverly. 'Not My Blood'. Think I've read it before? Can't remember the ending!

  • woodnymph2_gw
    8 years ago

    I finished "Circling the Sun" by P. McClain. I really enjoyed her take on the life of Beryl Markham, as it intersected with Isak Dinesen and Denis Fynch-Hatton. A great portrait of life in Colonial Kenya was presented, as well as all the odds a woman alone was up against, in a rigid society. Frieda, I think you would like this one, although it is fiction based on fact.

    Now, I am engrossed in "Paper Love" about an American Jewish woman who traces her ancestors back to the times of the Holocaust and before.

  • vee_new
    8 years ago

    Just finished a book with the most unusual subject matter I have probably ever come across.

    Glittering Images by Susan Howatch. It is the first in a fiction series dealing with aspects of the Church of England. This one is set in the thinly disguised cathedral city of Salisbury during the 1930's where a young C of E academic is sent by the Archbishop of Canterbury to investigate the rather irregular household of the Bishop. Before long it appears most of the characters are in need of spiritual/psychological counselling which leads to many chapters of 'conversations' between those being helped and a charismatic monk who supports them in their fight with various 'spiritual demons'.

    Having no experience of this sort of thing it would appear that a great deal of time is spent in navel-gazing and attention-seeking. And as for hang-ups about the opposite sex . . . I'm sure Muscular Christians of that era were advised to go for a long run followed by a cold shower.

  • pat m
    8 years ago

    One Small Candle. I just finished this book by Evelyn Tidman and it is a good one. It`s about the Pilgrims and William Bradford, who came over on the Mayflower in 1620. It starts before the voyage when the Pilgrims are exiled in Holland and goes on to their voyage and the settlement of the Plymouth colony in America. It stayed interesting from start to finish.

  • rouan
    8 years ago

    I finished reading Newt's Emerald a few days ago. It was okay but didn't live up to my expectations (which were probably higher than they should have been after I read his blurb explaining that the book was inspired by Georgette Heyer's books with a little magic added that n). I think it's a light, fun, read but if you are looking for something in this vein, try Patricia Wrede's Sorcery and Cecelia, or what Happened to the Chocolate Pot or her Mairelon the Magician. Those I would re-read (and have done so), this one I probably won't.

  • carolyn_ky
    8 years ago

    Vee, I have read some of Susan Howatch's Church of England series and enjoyed them. I wish I had known the setting was supposed to be Salisbury. We made a day trip there two years ago when we were in Britain and had an older man who loved his job as a Cathedral guide and Magna Carta explainer. It was a lovely day with afternoon tea at Valerie Patisserie.

  • carolyn_ky
    8 years ago

    I meant to add that I have just finished Entry Island by Peter May and liked it very much. I believe most people rank it lower than his Lewis trilogy, but I found it equally intriguing.

  • vee_new
    8 years ago

    Carolyn, we are spoilt for beautiful cathedral cities here in England and specially in my more Western parts of the country with Gloucester, Hereford, Worcester, Wells, Exeter etc. I feel had much of the land not been owned by the Church many of the old buildings would have been torn down long ago and replaced by modern monstrosities of office blocks and shopping malls.

    I should add that these places usually run a good selection of tea shops!

  • vee_new
    8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    I have been reading Rosemary Sutcliffe's Sword at Sunset as mentioned in another thread by Carolyn. It follows up her other books dealing with the time in Briton after the Romans left the country, but unlike the other books is really not suitable for children.

    She set out to search for the most ancient texts/stories/legends of King Arthur, before the mention of Lancelot, knights of the Round Table, jousting etc. Her hero Artos leads a group of Romano British warriors against the Saxon invaders.

    I am finding the whole book rather doom-laden and the text very turgid. So much so that I am giving myself a rest and am indulging in a pleasantly light read of a collection of stories by Miss Read in her 'village school' mode.

  • msmeow
    8 years ago

    I finally gave up on The Quality of Mercy by Faye Kellerman. One of the main characters is Shakespeare. It was too full of graphic descriptions of life in the 16th century, which in general seems to have not been pleasant. I made it about halfway through (300 pages) before giving up.

    So now I'm back to Point of Origin by Patricia Cornwell. I'm about halfway through it, too. Maybe I'll finish it this time!

    Donna

  • woodnymph2_gw
    8 years ago

    Vee, the Sutcliffe book sounds exactly my cup of tea. I must look for it. I used to be enamoured of the Miss Read books. Somehow, they are so comforting to read, with such a feel of cosy villages with friendly residents.

  • J C
    8 years ago

    I am sad to say that I have read very little this year. (Hanging head in shame.) However, I have busy with romance, so that is probably the one valid happy excuse. I am making my way through Alexander McCall Smith's The Novel Habits of Happiness as my beloved in Australia does the same. Not crazy about it. I'm wondering if Smith is going to tie anything together or come to a satisfactory conclusion. I'm 2/3 of the way through and the plot is barely started!

  • vee_new
    8 years ago

    Mary, I think you would enjoy all the books by Rosemary Sutcliffe. Although most of them were aimed at bright 'older children' (before the term 'pre-teen or teenager had come into general use in the UK) they can be read with pleasure by adults and, of course they are are in excellent English!






    Books by Rosemary Sutcliffe

  • woodnymph2_gw
    8 years ago

    Thanks, Vee. What a prolific writer she was!

  • carolyn_ky
    8 years ago

    I finished Home by Nightfall by Charles Finch this afternoon. Victorian England crime solver and not at all gory. The writing is pretty true to period, but I noticed one anomaly--a character used the expression "very fun." One of my pet peeves is either using the word fun as an adjective or using adverbs as modifiers.

  • annpanagain
    8 years ago

    Carolyn, I have heard the expression " That was absolute fun!" which was meant in a colloquial way, by English speakers. Perhaps "very fun" is similarly used by the character?

  • bigdogstwo
    8 years ago

    Reading The Golem and Jenni for book club. Slog, slog, slog... oh when will this book mercifully end? What nonsense. I read such positive reviews and had such high hopes. As always, it could certainly be my frame of mind. My DH calls it my "nap book" because every time I try to read it, morning, noon, or night, I fall asleep.

    PAM


  • carolyn_ky
    8 years ago

    Ann, but wouldn't absolute be an adjective? Not to nitpick, of course.

  • annpanagain
    8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Carolyn, I am absolutely hopeless about grammar! I wish I had been taught a more understandable way of defining words as I could never get the hang of which group they fell into.

    I read once that the US way was different to the UK way of teaching this so if I had lived there I might have been able to grasp the subject and understand an adjective from an adverb!

    I gather that you are not happy about something but I don't know quite what!

    I believe that I speak grammatically (apart from a tendency to split infinitives!) but that is from listening to good teachers and the BBC radio when announcers were well spoken, unlike announcers one sometimes hears these days, sadly.

  • User
    8 years ago

    bigdogstwo, I had the same reaction to The Golem and the Jenni and didn't finish it. Maybe I should keep it handy for some insomnia filled night. :)

  • friedag
    8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    One of my pet peeves is either using the word fun as an adjective or using adverbs as modifiers.

    Carolyn, the battle against using 'fun' as an adjective has been lost -- in the U.S. at least. A fun game, a fun time, a fun person, and other fun things are all considered acceptable these days by grammarians. I was taught that 'fun' is properly a noun only -- formally, that is; but since associating 'fun' and 'formal' seems to be a bit of an oxymoron, using it informally seems quite all right to me. ;-)

    As for the other part of your pet peeve, "using adverbs as modifiers", I thought that is exactly what adverbs do: modify. They can modify verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, and even noun phrases, clauses, and whole sentences. Like Annpan, I will have to ask for clarification.

    However, I gather it's the use of 'very fun' by what is supposed to be a Victorian character that bothers you. The 'fun' part should be all right since the earliest known documentation dates to 1846. Maybe it's that special adverb 'very' being right before fun that bothers you? I probably would not have noticed whether it would have been appropriate for a Victorian Age speaker.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I believe that I speak grammatically (apart from a tendency to split infinitives!)

    Annpan, split infinitives all you want! That infinitives should not be split is a bit of nonsense imposed on students by some grammarians who tried to make English fit the rules of Latin. To boldly split infinitives has been a capacity of English from its very beginning and remains as valid as it has always been!

  • annpanagain
    8 years ago

    Friedag, thank you for that! I disagreed with my late husband about split infinitives. He was a purist but I think they can make a sentence sound less awkward.

  • vee_new
    8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Carolyn, John and I discussed this last night. Had we got nothing better to do you may ask?

    He came to the same conclusion as Ann, that 'how' a character in a book speaks is just that, whether bad grammar or not.

    We both agreed that very fun sounds odd. 'Such fun' 'great fun' would have been correct.

    I then looked up via the Amazon site, the author Charles Finch and his series of Victorian whodunnits. Apparently he is from the US and the books have been commented on by only a very few UK readers who take issue with his constant use of 'Americanisms'. Someone has listed about fifty of them (!). . . eg sidewalk, gotten, he took a left, how do you figure?, railroad, pants, fix a drink..... I'm sure English writers using a US setting do the same. But for all that, I don't think very fun is correct in either English or 'American'.

    Ann I agree with you about the grammar, or lack of it, in 'English' teaching. DH is far better at it than I am having 'done' Latin for many years. He had never heard of a modifier either so I checked it out and came across 'diagramming' of sentences . . . new to both of us . . .'though I think Frieda has mentioned it somewhere . ..

    I wonder it doesn't put American children off reading/writing for life.

    And as for infinitives; give me one and I'll split it.

  • msmeow
    8 years ago

    Ok, Vee, now you need to tell us in the US what the British would say instead of sidewalk, gotten, etc. :)

    Ann, the grammar I remember from school was incomprehensible to me, too. I can tell you if something is correct or incorrect, but I can't tell you why (such as it's a split infinitive).

    Donna

  • vee_new
    8 years ago

    msmeow sidewalk is (in a city or town) 'pavement', in the country it would be 'footpath'.

    gotten is just 'got'

    railroad/railway

    pants are trousers (unless underwear)

    'he took a left' he went/turned left

    'fix a drink' might be 'he poured himself a drink'

    I expect you knew this anyway!

  • msmeow
    8 years ago

    Thanks, Vee! So I guess y'all don't say you're "fixing" to do something, i.e. "I'm fixing to go to the grocery store"? Oh, y'all probably don't say "y'all", either. LOL

    Donna

  • vee_new
    8 years ago

    Donna, you're right. We don't!

  • carolyn_ky
    8 years ago

    Okay, yes, Frieda. I should have said adverbs modify a verb, an adjective, or another adverb, but do not modify nouns directly. Sorry, but fun will always be a noun to me. Can I help it if my mother was a teacher?

    Vee, I laughed to think of you and your husband discussing American grammar.




  • reader_in_transit
    8 years ago

    Carolyn,

    Is Home by Nightfall a Charles Lennox mystery? A few years ago I read the first 2 books and enjoyed them, but I had forgotten about the series.

  • msmeow
    8 years ago

    I finally finished Point of Origin by Patricia Cornwell last night. It will be a while before I read another one of hers - I had to skip the sections of graphic autopsy descriptions, and graphic murder scene descriptions, and the story was okay but not interesting enough for 400 pages, IMHO. :)

    Today I'm starting Calico Joe by John Grisham. It's only 227 pages, and it's about a baseball player so it should be a nice, refreshing change from crime dramas.

    Donna

  • blue_jean_baby
    8 years ago

    Hi all, I confess that from Thanksgiving to New Year's I will read any amount of silliness so long as it's set at Christmas!!

    However, there were some choice bits among all the fluff : The Body In the Transept by Jeanne M. Dams. Set in England, but Our Heroine is American, recently widowed, and when she mentioned her favorite Christmas mysteries I was tickled to have read all except Dorothy Sayers' Nine Tailors, which is on my list for next year. It's also the beginning of a mystery series.

    Non-fiction : God Rest Ye Merry, Soldiers: a true Civil War Christmas by James McIvor. Very interesting. at one point he referred to a diary kept by a clerk in Richmond, and I found out (Google is my friend) it is available through the Gutenberg Press free ebooks!

    If you like cookbooks, I enjoyed A Taste Of Cowboy : Ranch Recipes & Tales for the Trail by Kent Rollins with Shannon Keller Rollins. He was apparently on Food Network and actually does have a chuckwagon business.

    My library's bookclub pick was Lisa See's China Dolls. I actually enjoyed it to the point that once I started reading I stayed up until 2:30 in the morning to finish it! well written, good character development. and I learned some things I didn't know.

    Happy New Year!

    Dawn

  • carolyn_ky
    8 years ago

    RIT, yes, Home by Nightfall is a Charles Lennox mystery. There have been several since the two you read, so I think you will benefit by reading them in order. Changes have occurred.

    I have finished reading The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows, the co-author of The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society. It is set in Depression-era West Virginia, a far cry from Nazi-occupied Guernsey. Like GLPPS, it's partly written in correspondence style and with a child narrator. It's quite good--so much so that, like Dawn, I stayed up quite late last night to finish it.

    Today I have begun Crucifixion Creek by Barry Maitland. It's a police drama set in Australia. Unfortunately, it is written in present tense which drives me crazy.



  • yoyobon_gw
    8 years ago

    The Nonsuch Lure by Mary Luke. She seems to go overboard packing the history of it into the first few chapters. Hope the story holds up.


    Just finished The Red Notebook...a delightful read.

  • msmeow
    8 years ago

    Yoyobon, I've read The Nonsuch Lure many times! I just love it. I loaned my falling-apart copy to a friend a couple of years ago - I need to get another copy. :)

    Donna

  • annpanagain
    8 years ago

    I have been reading a couple of OOP mysteries from Betterworld and also bought a copy of "Gimme More" by Lisa Cody to read again as I enjoyed it some years ago.

    It has been very hot, over 100F so I was bunkered indoors with the air-conditioning on, reading and eating Christmas chocolates. I came to a part where a character remembers floating in a swimming pool which sounded enticing and then I thought "Why am I not doing that?" so instead of reading about it, I grabbed my bathing suit and walked for a full minute to the one in our Village.

    Sometimes I let fantasy get in the way of reality. Has anyone else ever done that?

  • kathy_t
    8 years ago

    Annpan - It's amusing to think that your Christmas reading led you to a dip in the pool - especially since I'm not accustomed to 100F or swimming at Christmas time. I can't think of my reading leading me to much more than a cup of tea now and then. I'll have to give it more thought. I'll be interested to read others' responses to your question.

  • kathy_t
    8 years ago

    This morning I finished The Confessions of Frances Godwin by Robert Hellenga, a novel I added to my TBR list after Woodnymph mentioned it in one of our monthly posts some time ago. I found it really creative and fascinating - over all a really good read. And yet ... for me, the long, erudite passages about things like how to set a telescope to view
    certain stars and the inner-workings of a grand piano interrupted the
    flow. So it is with some reserve that I would recommend it.

  • reader_in_transit
    8 years ago

    Yoyobon,

    Is The Red Notebook that you just finished by Antoine Laurain? I have the one by A. Laurain in my TBR list at the library. The premise sounds quite interesting.

  • msmeow
    8 years ago

    Ann, there have been many people in the pool here at the hotel where I work! Our temps are still in the upper 80s, though this weekend we are supposed to only have highs in the 60s. We'll see if that actually happens, and if it does how long it lasts. :)

    Donna

  • yoyobon_gw
    8 years ago

    RIT......yes, the same author.

    I did enjoy it. The story keeps moving along and held my interest.

  • Rosefolly
    8 years ago

    Thank you, Ann!

    As the Christmas season winds away, I just realized that this was the first Christmas in some years that I read no Christmas-themed fiction. We visited relatives for the holidays this year, and it ended up feeling very un-Christmasy to me, despite seeing people we loved.

  • reader_in_transit
    8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Thanks, Yoyobon, for the feedback. I'll bump it up on the list.

    Thanks, Ann, for your warm wishes! Same to you.

  • yoyobon_gw
    8 years ago

    MsMeow.........I found a hardcover on Amazon for just five dollars..........it's an ex library copy but in good reading condition.

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