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woodnymph2_gw

Under April skies....

woodnymph2_gw
7 years ago

What are you reading this glorious month?

I'm in the middle of Ian McEwan's novel: "Nutshell". This is one of my favorite writers. The story has me enthralled, as it is a tale of deceit and murder plotted, but with an unexpected witness....

I've just finished "House of Twenty Thousand Books" by Sash Abramsky. This is a memoir of the author's grandfather, who grew up in a Jewish village in Soviet Russia, only to be driven out by the pogroms. The grandfather was son of an Orthodox Rabbi, but turned into a completely different direction, as an atheist. He settled in the East End of London and operated a rare book store for years. During that time, he became an ardent supporter of the Communist party, even writing propaganda for their cause. After the Stalinist purges, he utterly rejected Communism and turned his energies into collecting rare examples of Judaeica. Although an autodidact, he was sought after by scholars, University professors and Sotheby's as a lecturer and expert on the value of rare books and manuscripts. The title derives from his London house, which was floor to ceiling books, until the day he died.

Comments (80)

  • vee_new
    7 years ago

    Donna, it sounds like quite a leap of Faith!

  • ci_lantro
    7 years ago

    Finished Billion Dollar Brain. Early Len Deighton and not one of his better efforts. No where the level of the skill he demonstrated in Berlin Game, Mexico Set and London Match, all of which I liked.

    Started another one from the pile. The Bone Walker by Kathleen O'Neal Gear & W. Michael Gear. I'm about 100 pages in and not liking it much. I'm just not 'into' fantasy stuff. Witches, mysticism not my cup of tea. I've never read the authors before but was tempted to read it because the setting is in New Mexico and the Anasazi culture. Twin storylines with one set in the past when Native Americans occupied the cliff dwellings and the other in the present. So far, the book is confusing--many characters in the Anasazi storyline and is muddling around like the writers don't know where they want to go with the story. I opted to read it hoping that I would learn a lot of factual interesting stuff because the authors are archaeologists. So far, not much.

    woodnymph2_gw thanked ci_lantro
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  • Kath
    7 years ago

    Do not read Ragdoll by Daniel Cole unless you like poorly edited, confusing crime books. It was originally written as a screenplay, and it reads like it, except it's been padded out by using a thesaurus.

    I have moved on to the next Bill Slider by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles and am enjoying it.


  • woodnymph2_gw
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    I just finished Robert Helenga's "Confessions of Frances Godwin." I think it is his best work thus far. Hard to describe the plot without giving it all away but it is surprising and elegantly written. The book asks important questions about spirituality and aging and family issues. This is an author I really, really like, yet I never hear his works mentioned.

  • kathy_t
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Woodnymph - I read The Confessions of Francess Godwin a couple of years ago. Here's what I wrote in my book journal about it:

    I’m torn about this book. There was a whole lot in it that I liked, but
    also decent-sized chunks of it that I didn’t enjoy at all. I thought it was creative and well-written, but
    for me, the long, erudite and extremely detailed passages about things like how
    to set a telescope to view certain stars and the inner-workings of a grand
    piano interrupted the flow.

    After that comment, I described the plot in some detail. It is indeed quite a book. I had actually forgotten about the "decent-sized chunks" that I didn't care for. Over time, I mostly just remembered that unusual plot.

    woodnymph2_gw thanked kathy_t
  • woodnymph2_gw
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    Kathy, when I read your comments, actually, I agree with you about the distractions which interrupted the narrative.

  • reader_in_transit
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Finished The Garden of the Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng. Wow. Very well written. The main characters are not neccesarily likable people, but the story is so good, at times sublime, at times heartbreaking. Based on a period of Malaya history: the occupation by Japan during WWII and its aftermath. The author spins a tale of survival, violence, the beauty of life, a Japanese garden and broken people who get a second chance at life because of that garden.

    I learned about a place and period in history about which I did not know. The story stays with you. Highly recommended.

    Thank you, Rosefolly, for recommending this book.

  • carolyn_ky
    7 years ago

    I have started Bone Box by Faye Kellerman. I think I like her books best for the information on the Jewish way of life. I don't collect them but read them from the library as they come out.

  • msmeow
    7 years ago

    I finished Woman of God yesterday. At the risk of sounding like a pop fiction reviewer, it was a gripping, page-turning story! I could hardly put it down. I haven't read a story that captivated my interest that much in a long time. I highly recommend it!

    Donna

  • friedag
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there. --

    the first line of The Go-Between by L. P. Hartley

    I was reminded of Hartley's perceptive opening sentence while I was reading White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg. Sometimes it is very hard for a reader (in this case, me) to accept the ways people thought and did things in the past. For instance, I was flabbergasted when I read of Richard Hakluyt, the Younger's advice to the adventuring, colonizing Virginia Company after two less-than-successful all-male expeditions to North America. The criticism that there seemed to be too many gentlemen and not enough common laborers was apparently correct, because the men fell to squabbling and jockeying for position with violence often breaking out. Meanwhile, not enough attention was paid to adequate shelter, felling trees, growing food, fishing, etc. because the gentlemen didn't know how to do these things, and the men/boys swept up in London to be laborers didn't know how, either. Captain John Smith said of this lot: "For the most part, they were worthless." Three quarters of them died.

    The proposed solution: On further expeditions, men should bring their wives, children, and servants. There would be less tension among the men when they had outlets for their frustrations: instead of quarreling with each other, they could go home to beat their wives, children, and servants! And if worse came to worst, they could kill and eat 'em! (a joke?) One man did just that to his wife. The man was hanged, but not before much ribaldry about "salted wife" was passed round.

    The result: The colonists' efforts improved. Thanks to women . . . or not. But to Hakluyt the Younger and other men it was proof enough of the usefulness of women. And they didn't mind saying it out loud or in print.

    Isenberg includes many historical attitudes in her study of the class system in North America, including examples right up to 2016 when she revised the earlier edition and gave it a new Preface.

    I have been alternately fascinated with this history and bemused -- and angered, I have to admit -- but I was never bored. I hope to read more cultural history that is presented as well or even half as well as Isenberg managed it.

    woodnymph2_gw thanked friedag
  • kathy_t
    7 years ago

    I just finished reading Setting Free the Kites by Alex George. At its core it's about the very close friendship of two boys in a small town on the coast of Maine - a "coming of age" story, I suppose, though I've never liked that term. But it's much more than that. Some very big themes are intertwined with the story of these two boys, and my goodness, heartbreak and tragedy abound. And yet, it is a sweet book - even though an early bullying incident was quite distasteful. Do I sound conflicted about this book? I am, a bit. But overall I liked it a lot and would recommend it, even though "coming of age" is truly not my thing.

  • ci_lantro
    6 years ago

    I finished Bone Walker a couple of days ago. Very mediocre. The authors have a weird obsession with hair. I don't think two pages went by but what hair was mentioned.

    Then I started and have almost finished Heartbroke Bay by Lynn D'Urso. It's one of two books that my son picked out of a 'Leave a book, take a book' exchange at the college. This book is pretty good. Set at the turn of the century during the Alaskan Gold Rush. Love triangle. Not a 'feel good' story but interesting nonetheless. Things are not ending well. The book is written in present tense which I found kinda' irritating (for some reason) for the first 100 pgs or so but settled into it and doesn't bother me so much now. Quick read.

  • Rosefolly
    6 years ago

    Present tense narration drives me crazy. Most of the time I abandon books written that way. I understand there is a current trend for it, but it reminds me of teenaged girls recounting the events of last night's party. An author I know defended her decision to write a novel that way. Her motive was reasoned and valid, but I suspect I'll never read that book.


  • ci_lantro
    6 years ago

    So it isn't just me being irritated w/ the present tense! But, since you mentioned another author having a reason for using it, Rosefolly, I think I can see the reason why D'Urso used it for this novel. Before, I was thinking that since the one that I'm reading is a debut novel, the author didn't have a lot of experience--but, that doesn't make sense because there are such things as editors. (Editor definitely was a no-show for Bone Walker, though.)

  • msmeow
    6 years ago

    The current fad for present tense drives me crazy, too! I hear it so much on the news. Someone will be talking about an event far in the past (the Civil War, for example) and say, "They see the enemy..." or "The President says..." It drives me absolutely batty.

    Donna

  • yoyobon_gw
    6 years ago

    Just finished In This Grave Hour, the latest in the Maisie Dobbs series.

    It was wonderful !

    I hope there is another book coming :0)

  • carolyn_ky
    6 years ago

    I've just started In This Grave Hour, Yoyobon. I always look forward to a new Maisie Dobbs book. I also like the WWI nurse books by Charles Todd. Of course, this Maisie starts off with the beginning of WWII on page 1.

  • annpanagain
    6 years ago

    Carolyn, have you come across the Nell Bray series by Gillian Linscott? They are set at in the early 20thC. I read them some years ago but recall that I enjoyed them.

  • ci_lantro
    6 years ago

    I've begun reading Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. The setting is early 1950's rural Louisiana & rural Texas.

  • kathy_t
    6 years ago

    Reader_in_transit, Sheri_z6, and Maxmom96,
    Last night my book club was needing one more book to get us through until our next book selection meeting in June, so I slipped Tell the Wolves I'm Home in on them as our May selection. I think they'll like it.

  • reader_in_transit
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Kathy,

    Let us know how the discussion goes.

  • reader_in_transit
    6 years ago

    Reading The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain, translated from the French. A man finds an abandoned handbag without any identification inside it. From the handbag's contents, which includes a red notebook where intimate thoughts are written, he tries to find out who is the owner.

    Yoyobon, I think you read this book and you liked it.


  • vee_new
    6 years ago

    Just finished The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Simon Mawer. A good WWII espionage story along the usual lines of half-French girl being trained and sent into occupied France from where she has to 'bring out' a nuclear physicist who can be put to better use helping the Allies. The story gets rather bogged down with descriptions of atom-splitting etc but otherwise goes at a fast pace and is well written.

  • carolyn_ky
    6 years ago

    Ann, I am not familiar with Linscott, but I checked any my library has lots of them. Thanks; I'm always on the lookout for new-to-me mysteries.

  • ci_lantro
    6 years ago

    Finished Same Kind of Different... Emotionally grueling.

    Need something light-hearted for a change after these last two books.

  • kathy_t
    6 years ago

    Reader - I'll let you know how the Tell the Wolves I'm Home discussion goes. Amusingly, a book club friend who missed our recent meeting (and thus did not know I was the one who suggested the book) sent me an email saying:
    "I read the synopsis of 'Wolves' and hope it’s better than it sounds..."

  • reader_in_transit
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Kathy,

    ... a book club friend who missed our recent meeting (and thus did not know I was the one who suggested the book) sent me an email saying:
    "I read the synopsis of 'Wolves' and hope it’s better than it sounds..." ....

    LOL at her faux pas. What was your reply?

  • kathy_t
    6 years ago

    Reader - My reply: "I
    predict you will like 'Wolves.' I was the one who suggested it."

    We're pretty good friends, so I think she'll find her faux pas amusing also.

  • msmeow
    6 years ago

    I just finished The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connolly and enjoyed it very much. There were two distinct story lines and I liked how both of them came out.

    Next up is Fatal by John Lescroart.

    Donna

  • ci_lantro
    6 years ago

    Started How We Lived Then: A History of Everyday Life During the Second World War by Norman Longmate.

    It is a history of how British civilians survived WWII, the mundane nitty gritty of life. Very interesting; I'm learning a lot. Kirby grips? Barrage balloons? Thank goodness for Google!

    Relatively short chapters on different subjects so it's easy to read a chapter and set it aside to go do something else.

  • carolyn_ky
    6 years ago

    Ci_lantro, how odd. I just encountered numerous mentions of barrage balloons in the latest Jacqueline Winspear I have just finished.

  • ci_lantro
    6 years ago

    That is weird! I'd never heard of them before and now I come across them twice in one day! (That happens sometimes with words, too.)

  • annpanagain
    6 years ago

    I would have seen those balloons when I went into London to go shopping with my mother. Just a part of normal life to a child during a war!

  • rouan
    6 years ago

    I've been MIA for a bit but am back now. After binge reading some Mercedes Lackey books (re-reading in fact) I picked up a couple of non fiction library books. The first one was Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston. It's the story of the search for a lost city in Honduras. I was quite interested until the author went into full detail about the expedition members contracting leishmaniasis (organisms that get into the system through the bites of sand fleas and cause nasty sores and other horrible stuff) and all the gruesome details of the symptoms and treatments. I really wanted to go to Costa Rica one day until I read this book. Apparently this is widespread throughout Central and South America and I have no desire to go through something like that!

    The other one I read was The Stranger in my Genes by Bill Griffith. He did a DNA test while working on genealogy and discovered that his father wasn't really his father. It's the story of how he found this out and what happened afterwards, including his search to find out who his biological was.

    woodnymph2_gw thanked rouan
  • vee_new
    6 years ago

    Annpan and Carolyn, an impolite rumour used to go around our family that my m-in-law could have been a barrage balloon during the War or failing that she was to be used as the ultimate weapon against Hitler.

  • carolyn_ky
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Vee, Funny, and this will start a spate of MIL stories, I'm sure. As for me, my first one was a dear and the second died before I knew her son.

    I have read ~80 pages of The Tomb of Zeus by Barbara Cleverly. I requested it from the library thinking it was the next in her Joe Sandiland series that I read one of periodically, but it isn't. Instead, it is set in Crete in 1928 with a archeologist heroine who has just arrived only to be confronted by a man she had cared about previously but who either didn't know or didn't choose to acknowledge it. Frieda, if you see this, it reminds me of a Mary Stewart book, and I'm reading when I should be preparing for tomorrow's ladies' luncheon at my house.


  • woodnymph2_gw
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    I have just about finished Cassandra King's novel, "Moonrise." I must say I do not recommend this. The main reason is that it is so obviously a riff on DuMaurier's "Rebecca." There are a few changes in plot and characters and setting is near Ashville/Cashiers NC. I actually have been increasingly irritated while reading it, thinking to myself how much better DuMaurier handled her material.

  • vee_new
    6 years ago

    Laurie Graham's The Grand Duchess of Nowhere is her very original 'take' on the life of Princess Victoria Melita (always known in the family as 'Ducky') brought up among a host of Royals/Grand Dukes/Emperors etc living between Coburg, England and finally Russia, finishing up in exile in France.

    Written in the first person, which gives it a lighter edge, we learn about some of the very complicated family trees of Queen Victoria's descendants and their entwined intermarriages with all the cousins marrying cousins . . . I'm surprised their children didn't have extra fingers and toes. Ducky was the daughter of Prince Alfred, second son of Victoria and Albert, who married into the Romanov family. Her sister became Queen of Romania, her s-in-law/cousin the wife of Nicholas II who's family were murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1917. Ducky caused a scandal by seeking a divorce from cousin 'Ernie' of Hesse (he preferred stable boys and hussars in bed) and eventually married another cousin, Cyril Romanov. Their family escaped the Revolution to Finland and then France.

    Despite the time in which the book is set it is written very much as I imagine a young woman of her class would have felt (not that I have any experience of that way of life!) and with a very necessary family tree it made for an enjoyable read. A bonus would have been a simple map of Russia of that period.

    NB all Victoria's female descendants had 'Victoria' as part of their name and many of the boys 'Albert' so nicknames were necessary . . . and many of the sons carried the gene of the bleeding disease which I understand is still present in some 'royals' to this day

    woodnymph2_gw thanked vee_new
  • reader_in_transit
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Finished reading The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain (translated from the French). A man, who is a bookseller, finds an abandoned handbag without any identification inside it. From the contents, including a red notebook, where intimate thoughts are written, he tries to find out who is the owner. Of course, he succeeds. A short entertaining novel.

    I've noticed in recent fiction that booksellers have become a "mainstream" and almost sexy profession (e.g. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, among a few others).

    woodnymph2_gw thanked reader_in_transit
  • kathy_t
    6 years ago

    Reader - I think your observation about booksellers is right. Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Book Store is another recent example that comes to mind.

  • kathy_t
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I've been having trouble getting into "my next book." I checked four books out of the library the other day and rejected them one-by-one after reading just a few pages of each. Last night I scanned my own bookshelves and selected A Patchwork Planet thinking, "Maybe Anne Tyler can get me out of my funk." As I started reading, the book seemed vaguely familiar and yet I had no idea what was coming next. This morning, I checked my book journal to see if I'd read it before. I had to laugh at what I had written: I was disappointed in this book. While
    entertaining, it's pretty forgettable.
    Forgettable indeed!

  • msmeow
    6 years ago

    I finished Fatal by John Lescroart last night. I always enjoy his books! This one is set in San Francisco like his others, but is a stand-alone story with new characters. When I read novels about homicide detectives and/or lawyers I never try to figure out who the murderer is, but often you (the reader) know even if you aren't trying to. I have to say this one kept me guessing right up till the end.

    Donna

  • reader_in_transit
    6 years ago

    <This morning, I checked my book journal to see if I'd read it before. I had to laugh at what I had written: I was disappointed in this book. While entertaining, it's pretty forgettable. Forgettable indeed!>

    LOL, Kathy!

  • carolyn_ky
    6 years ago

    I finished The Tomb of Zeus and will read the others in this Barbara Cleverly series.

    Now have started My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry and am liking it but haven't read very much. I have not read A Man Called Ove by this author.

  • annpanagain
    6 years ago

    I bought a massive book of all the Austen novels from a charity shop for a small sum to give to my daughter as she has never read them and is now old enough at 54 to appreciate the wit, I think! (It took me some years via Heyer!)

    I decided to read "Persuasion" again and borrowed the DVD of the production that has Sally Hawkins running coat and bonnetless through the streets of Bath. Apparently there is a YouTube satire on this but I haven't been able to find it.

  • woodnymph2_gw
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    I just finished "The Gustave Sonata" by Rose Tremain. Her work is a joy to read, as she writes so elegantly. I really liked this a lot and recommend it highly. Basically, it is set in Switzerland and traces the long friendship from boyhood of a Jewish youth with a Gentile, his best friend. I was quite moved by the narrative, and there is a peaceful ending. The last book I read that was this good was "All the Light We Cannot See."

  • msmeow
    6 years ago

    I've been trying to get into Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen. I'm finding that, as with Bad Monkey, something is falling flat with me. It's like he's trying too hard to be witty, or throwing out too many ascerbic lines...I don't know. Anyway, I think I'll stop on it for a while and ready something else.

    Donna

  • reader_in_transit
    6 years ago

    Woodnymph,

    Thanks for the review of The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain. Somehow, I had forgotten about her, and her very good writing. I have added the book to my ever-lengthening list of "books to read sometime".

    woodnymph2_gw thanked reader_in_transit
  • carolyn_ky
    6 years ago

    I'm about half way through News of the World by Paulette Jiles. It isn't my usual fare, but I am enjoying it. Reminds me a little bit of Lonesome Dove--but nicer--and True Grit.

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