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vee_new

Flaming June: What Hot Books are you Reading?

vee_new
5 years ago
last modified: 5 years ago

After a monsoon-like end to May a day of sunshine has cheered us up, but the latest book Hetty's Farmhouse Kitchen by Cathy Bramley is leaving me cold.

Too much 'conversation' of the most trivial sort and descriptions of "my lovely auburn hair" "my husband's strong arms" "my caring and beautiful teenage daughter" who she is always stroking and cuddling . . . It is all too much for me and although I've reached page 50 nothing of note has happened, except our heroine has made about 75 assorted meat and fruit pies.

Comments (96)

  • carolyn_ky
    5 years ago

    I'm reading Holy Orders by Benjamin Black, pseudonym of John Banville. It is a series set in Ireland in the 50s and featuring Dr.Quirke, a troubled pathologist who assists the chief of police in solving the murders of some of his cadavers. Quirke grew up in an abusive church orphanage and drinks a lot. This isn't my usual cup of tea, but the books are fascinating in a dark Irish sort of way, and the writing is very good.

  • vee_new
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Finished Painting Ruby Tuesday by Pauline Yardley. A strange 'book of two halves' . .. 'now' not so good, and 'then' more entertaining if that is the word, as it deals with several gruesome murders in which the child 'heroine' is somehow involved.

    A highly-strung girl she feels responsible for the various events in a small Essex village during the Summer school holidays (and ours only last end of July/August much shorter that the US!) Not easy plot-lines to follow, but what made it interesting was that the child has the condition synaesthesia which, to a very small extent, I had when very young . . . with me Mondays were green, Fridays red etc. In extreme eg's it can be linked to the senses of smell, taste etc.

    I presume the author also 'suffers' from the same thing.


    Synaesthesia an Overview.

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  • kathy_t
    5 years ago

    Vee - How interesting. I've never heard of synaesthesia before.

    vee_new thanked kathy_t
  • kathy_t
    5 years ago

    I finished reading News of the World by Paulette Jiles. I kind of wonder why this book has become so popular. Admittedly it provides an of interesting picture of the Old West; and yes, a sweet relationship develops between a kidnapped ten-year-old girl and the old codger who is tasked with returning her to her family (sweet if you don't mind that their big bonding moment is when she assists him in killing a bad guy or two). But what else? Surely there is more here that I'm not seeing. Any opinions?

  • woodnymph2_gw
    5 years ago

    Vee, thanks for posting the article on Synaesthesia. When I was a child, learning the alphabet and numbers, I believe I had a slight version of this. I can recall the number 2 as being blue, for example. Various letters of the alphabet each had a color, as did words. It is interesting that this is linked with creativity.

    It's fascinating to me how our brains work. For example, why do I recall that a quote or a picture is to be found on the lower left hand corner of a page, for example? The placement of objects in space is essential to my memory, it would seem.

    vee_new thanked woodnymph2_gw
  • msmeow
    5 years ago

    Vee, David Baldacci’s character Amos Decker has synesthesia. He also has idetic memory. Both were the result of being killed and resuscitated while playing a pro football game.

    Donna

    vee_new thanked msmeow
  • yoyobon_gw
    5 years ago

    Regarding how our minds/memory works.....I visualize what a calendar year looks like. Not in pages as an actual calendar but rather in a misshaped curved rectangle sort of thing. I can draw it very clearly . It makes no sense to anyone but me, of course. When I taught 8th grade, for fun I'd tell the students to take out a sheet of paper and draw what a calendar year looks like to them in their mind. More than half the class would just stare at me like I was crazy, while the rest would get right to work drawing out their image of a year. I'd assure them at the start that they will either know exactly what I'm talking about or they wouldn't.....and that was perfectly fine.

    vee_new thanked yoyobon_gw
  • vee_new
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Donna, re eidetic memory . . . I had to look that one up and it seems to be a first cousin of photographic memory. I read somewhere (and whether it was 'true' or not I can't now remember) that a certain man could look at a clock-face and see the time was eg. 12 midday, but that 'sight' became so fixed in his brain that when he next checked the clock he still saw the hands as pointing to 12. His visual memory had become 'stuck'.

    In the Ruby Tuesday story the child was also able to keep lists of numbers within her brain and call them up when necessary. She was also very musical . . . as I think is the author Pauline Yardley who has written about what she knows/experiences.


    yoyo, your calendar eg is interesting but not something I 'see'.

  • msmeow
    5 years ago

    I finished Still Life by Louise Penny last night. I really enjoyed it! As Woodnymph said, the characters are interesting and the plot intriguing.

    Now I'm back to Deep Freeze by John Sandford.

    Donna

  • carolyn_ky
    5 years ago

    I'm reading The Skeleton Room by Kate Ellis, part of her archeology
    graduate, police detective Wesley Peterson series set in South Devon.
    While remodeling a former manor house cum girls' school to be a resort
    hotel, the workers find a skeleton tied to a chair.

  • vee_new
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Carolyn, I don't know how long a body takes to decompose but that chair must have had serious woodworm.

  • sheri_z6
    5 years ago

    Yoyo, I know exactly what you mean re: the calendar. I've always had an image of the year in my mind, but mine is a circle with December at the top and August at the bottom, something like a lop-sided clock face. Interesting!

    Woodnymph, I once read an article that claimed we use the same parts of our brain for reading that we do for mapping the physical space around us. That may account for recalling where a quote or photo is within a book. I find that I can do that easily with a physical book, but I can't do it at all on a Kindle.

    I just breezed through Captial Gaines by Fixer Upper's Chip Gaines. If you've read their other book, The Magnolia Story, there's not a lot new here, autobiography-wise. It was a rather rambling inspirational book about getting out of your comfort zone and working hard with plenty of examples from his life. It was definitely fluffy, but I do like them and the show, so it was an entertaining way to spend a (very hot) afternoon indoors.

  • woodnymph2_gw
    5 years ago

    Donna, glad to hear you liked "Still Life" by L. Penny. I have yet to read that one. I thought her "A Great Reckoning" was really, really good. I'm now on my third L. Penny Gamache mystery. Somehow this one I'm finding a bit harder to get into.

  • carolyn_ky
    5 years ago

    Started the third Harry Bosch book by Michael Connelly, The Concrete Blonde. Poor troubled Harry is on trial for shooting a suspect in this one.

  • yoyobon_gw
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I had to stop reading French Illusions by Linda Kovic-Skow . It is a memoir and her debut as a writer. Unfortunately her skills as a writer are pedestrian at best. She overuses references to her heart/stomach/guts to describe emotion: " my heart lurched " " my guts clenched " " my pulse raced " ...all used in what feels like the wrong context. After a short time I began wondering if she was an OR nurse with all the organ references. I could not force myself to finish the book.

    Have you ever had a writer's style or lack of skill prevent your enjoyment of the book?

  • msmeow
    5 years ago

    Carolyn, Harry Bosch does get himself into a lot of scrapes, doesn't he?

    Bon, I felt that way about "Folly Beach" - she was far too quick to use exclamation points! Nearly every sentence! After a while it got to where all I noticed were "!" I took a break to read something else, and I did go back and finish the book. I can see why you gave up on yours, though.

    It's like the old James Taylor song, "Shower the People." Once you notice that he always pronounces "the" with a long e (shower THEE people you love...) then that's all you hear. :)

    Donna

  • kathy_t
    5 years ago

    Yoyobon - I can't remember a specific experience like you're describing, but I know what you mean. I guess I'd say my deteriorating brain says no, but my still-beating heart says yes.

  • woodnymph2_gw
    5 years ago

    Yoyo, yes, I definitely have experienced reading an otherwise decent novel but being turned off and irritated by the author's style. For me, the perfect example is the work of Ann Rivers Siddons. I recall liking the first two novels I read by her, but after that, I picked up patterns of word usages that were less than original. One example is her love of the word "spavined." I found that dubious adjective used in every single book thereafter. It really was irritating. One of my oldest and dearest friends was the typist for her books and I often wondered if she, too, got a bit piqued.

    I also often felt Conroy's books were a spin off from Siddons'. It was almost as if they were living in each others' minds. I do know that they were very close friends.

    vee_new thanked woodnymph2_gw
  • merryworld
    5 years ago

    I zipped through Circe by Madeline Miller. It is the story of the famed witch who enchanted Odysseus, told from her point of view. I enjoyed how Miller built the characters and particularly Circe's view of the world. It's a great story.

    I've got Terry Pratchett's The Wee Free Men on audio, and it's wonderful.

    Still working on the Mo Yan, and just started Still Life. It seems to be Louise Penny month on RP.

  • vee_new
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    I must agree with yoyo and Mary that a good story can be ruined by poor 'style' . . . or total lack of style.

    When I pick up a book in a charity shop (I almost never buy a new one these days) I do a check on Amazon, or similar, to get an overview ie. Is it really worth reading? Sometimes there is great praise lavished on works "I read it all night" "I can't get enough of Merebella Anchovy's work" . . . and here I am thinking "Boring" "Too much dull repetitive conversation" "story-line going nowhere." Often I find the characters of particular authors are almost identical . . . only the names have been changed. Perhaps I am just too picky.

    Donna, you mention exclamation points (we call them 'marks') We have a small local history group that produced a quarterly newsletter. It is Full of !!!. One edition had seven of them on the cover alone.

  • yoyobon_gw
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I suspect that readers who enjoy good books have a hightened sense of an author's strengths and weaknesses, or is it just common sense.

    In French Illusions she begins the book with a copy of a note she wrote in her diary as a college student and she misspelled "foriegn" ( sic) . I was compelled to circled it and put " sp" after it ! I should have known that this did not bode well for the rest of the book.

  • msmeow
    5 years ago

    Wow, Vee! That's a lot of exclamation points on one cover!!!! :)

  • yoyobon_gw
    5 years ago

    Woodnymph.....spavined. What a strange and rarely seen word. In fact, until you noted it, I'd never seen it . Am I the only one ?

  • woodnymph2_gw
    5 years ago

    I had never seen it either, YoYo, until I read Siddons.

  • vee_new
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    re spavined. I think it was originally a 'condition' found in horses, especially old nags. Used over here (or used to be) about thin weedy men with sallow skin and hollow chests.

  • yoyobon_gw
    5 years ago

    hmmm......sort of Ichabod Crane-ish.

    vee_new thanked yoyobon_gw
  • rouan
    5 years ago

    I have been re-reading a couple of favorites as my library books didn't hold my interest. I just finished all 4 books of Sharon Shinn's elemental series. I do hope she writes the fifth book to finish the series. I picked up The Gate of Ivory by Doris Egan and Withering by Sea by Judith Posselt; both recommended on another site I visit. So far, neither has held my interest but I intend to try both again over the weekend. The weather is supposed to be wet and gloomy so I won't be tempted to go outside instead of reading.


  • carolyn_ky
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I'm reading Murder on Union Square by Victoria Thompson. Her books are set in New York City just prior to and at the turn of the 20th century, and the main character is a midwife.

  • reader_in_transit
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Currently reading Jade Dragon Mountain by Elsa Hart. Set in the southwest of China in 1708, an imperial librarian in exile arrives in Dayan a few days before a total solar eclipse. The city is expecting the Emperor for this event. Then a visiting Jesuit is murdered.

    I don't read a lot of mysteries, this is the first one I read this year, but the period and locale in which it takes place, and the eclipse, interest me. So far, it is a little slow, but otherwise okay.

  • woodnymph2_gw
    5 years ago

    After finishing three Louise Penny mysteries, I am taking a break and have started a work by Freya Stark: "Alexander's Path." Stark was renowned for her travel memoirs and traveled widely in the Middle East in the 5o's and after. It's quite a job to figure out which ancient names for countries and regions parallel those of modern day nations, such as Syria, etc.

  • rouan
    5 years ago

    I am currently reading Chasing Horizons by Alan Stern & David Grinspoon. It's about the mission to send an exploratory spacecraft to Pluto. I heard the authors discussing it on NPR so requested it from my library system. So far, I am finding it quite interesting.

  • vee_new
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Woodnymph's mention of Freya Stark reminds me I have, very slowly, 'on the go' her book A Winter in Arabia.

    Written in the late '30's it is about her travels in an area of S Arabia known as the Hadhramaut, now communist Southern Yemen, then part of the Protectorate of Aden. Very difficult to follow the maps provided; they resemble the route of a spider who has just avoided drowning in an ink-well.

    Before oil was king, this was a 'primitive' area of mud-walled towns, camel trains and armed-to-the-teeth Beduin. Few Europeans had been seen inland, especially white women. Little protection could be offered by the UK Govt so F.S 'just went', telling them where she had been on her return.

    Interesting facts about the treatment of women, proudness of men, the suspicion towards strangers but the kindness and care she was shown.

    As you might know from the news this is now a seriously troubled area with fighting between Saudi Arab and what has become an Islamic stronghold. I believe S Yemen is now the poorest place in the world with many starving inhabitants.

    Sorry if this sounds like a geography lesson . . . !



    Dame Freya Stark

  • msmeow
    5 years ago

    I finished Deep Freeze by John Sandford yesterday. I enjoyed it very much! The reader knows from the first chapter who the murderer is, and it's very following the investigation to see how he finally solves the case.

    Donna

  • donnamira
    5 years ago

    I'm into my second try with Nick Harkaway's Gnomon, which I had to return to the library before I got very far into it last time. I've just finished the second section with the shark and the financier (what a creep! I just want to kick the guy) and I have no idea what's going on! Besides that, I'm constantly looking up words. Anyone else ever heard of 'brinjal' - i had to go to my unabridged dictionary for that one. So what's wrong with 'eggplant'? (Harkaway was describing the walls of a house.) Has anyone else read it - is it worth the effort?

    Rouan, does Stern spend much time in the book arguing for "Pluto is a planet"? :) He was our boss at NASA's science directorate for a few years, and he's definitely a personality with strong opinions.

  • rouan
    5 years ago

    Donnamira, I'm not very far into the book but I have the impression he believes it to be a planet.

  • carolyn_ky
    5 years ago

    It rained all day yesterday, and I sat in a cozy chair and read on Kindle all of Holy Island by L. J. Ross, a mystery set on Lindisfarne Island. It was her first book, and my library doesn't have any of her books at all.

  • carolyn_ky
    5 years ago

    More rain, but it took me two days to read The Memory Game, Nicci French's first book. It was good but not like the Frieda Kleins.

  • vee_new
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    No rain here for about a month and lots of unexpected heat, a good excuse to sit in the cool and catch up on some reading.

    As I'm getting over a most unusual bout of bronchitis leaving me v tired and droopy I'm reading a very undemanding Breath of Fresh Air by Erica James. One of those 'cosy' English village settings where the neighbours know each other's business, the older women are all nosey battle-axes, the younger are hussies and all the men, except the 'hero' are middle-aged lechers. Virtually no plot to hold one's attention . . .

  • annpanagain
    5 years ago

    Vee, sorry to hear you haven't been feeling well. We have had dreadful Winter weather recently, lashed by winds and buckets of rain. I have stayed at home some days. Very unusual for me as I like to go out and shop regularly for exercise and interest!

    I was trying to read a mystery but it had so many characters both human and animals that I kept putting it aside to reread old favourites like the Roger the Chapman series by Kate Sedley. I wish she would write another one but she seems to have stopped.

    This will make you smile, I hope. I have started writing lyrics for Country songs. A new career at eighty-plus! My son has a desire to tour and play solo and was saying that he needs some personal songs as well as "covering", so I wrote a couple for him to put to music. Simple ballads that actually rhyme! Old style...

    He had a band years ago and then came family but he now just performs with his new group as a sideline. He sings and plays guitar and now the family have grown up, he and his wife want to become Grey Nomads for a while, tour around the country and play at festival and pub "gigs". There are a few Country performers who do this and have given him good advice. No harm in trying!

    vee_new thanked annpanagain
  • kathy_t
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Vee - Sorry you're not feeling well. It sounds like you need a different book.

    Annpan - Well it certainly makes me smile to think of you writing country music lyrics. Are you focusing on trucks or rivers or cheating lovers?

    Also Annpan - I'd never heard of Kate Sedley until you mentioned her in your last post. I had to investigate, and have put her on my list to check out the next time I visit the library. According to Wikipedia, Kate Sedley is a penname used by Brenda Margaret Lilian Honeyman Clarke, an author who was born in 1926. So yes, perhaps she has retired.

    vee_new thanked kathy_t
  • annpanagain
    5 years ago

    Kathy, no, none of the above! The first song I wrote is about a man who wants to go travelling and what he thinks he will find. The second is the story of an old man who gets a dog to help him around the place and finds he has picked the laziest dog in the country! I am currently working on the stories of people who go in Winter for the sunny weather in the North of Australia. Which I would like to do!

    You might find that you will have a problem getting the early Sedley books. I had to buy them, mostly library discards from all over the world! It may be she stopped because of her age or because of the discovery of the body of Richard the Third. She wrote that Roger the Chapman saw that he wasn't very deformed but of course we know now that he was. Bit of a back track needed there!


  • kathy_t
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Annpan - I think I'd enjoy your country songs. Let us know if your son records any and places them on youtube.

  • carolyn_ky
    5 years ago

    Vee, sorry to hear you have been feeling bad. Get another book and eat chocolate is my advice.

    Ann, what fun to write songs for your son, and how talented you are. I've read lots of Roger Chapman books but not all of them. My library does have them, or at least they did. I'll have to catch up on the last of them.

    vee_new thanked carolyn_ky
  • annpanagain
    5 years ago

    Kathy, I don't know about him putting my songs on youtube. He does intend to record them onto a CD and hopes to sell copies to the audiences he plays for, as advised by a mentor who has been doing this for many years.

    It is really strange to hear my words being sung! I usually just write the occasional poem to amuse my friends although I did get one published in a London UK magazine when I lived there. That was thrilling to see it in print!

  • vee_new
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Carolyn, thanks but I'm not much of a choccy eater (gasps of disbelief from you) and am now 'on the mend'

    It's not the cough that carried 'im off

    It's the coffin they carried 'im off in!

    eg of dark Victorian humour.

    Annpan, does your son write the music for your 'words' and does his 'group' have a name? Will you get Royalties?!


  • annpanagain
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Vee, my son has written the music for the first song but I only get Royalties when he has recorded it and it is played by someone, as I understand. It was instantly copyrighted when I sent him an email with the text. He may decide to use the lazy dog lyrics as a spoken poem in the "set" he intends to perform. Country singers talk as well as sing, sometimes about their experiences. My lyrics are about what I know and have seen and are meant to strike a chord with people.

    I must check the group's correct name as it is different from the name he used to perform under. We were discussing so much when we last caught up that I have forgotten it!

    vee_new thanked annpanagain
  • msmeow
    5 years ago

    Vee, I'm glad you are feeling better! I am also not a huge fan of chocolate.

    I finished The People vs Alex Cross by James Patterson last night. It was good! Of course, Alex Cross saved the day (I don't think that's giving anything away LOL).

    Did you all see that there is a new novel out written by Bill Clinton and James Patterson? I wonder if it's worth reading...

    Donna

  • carolyn_ky
    5 years ago

    I have just read Die in My Dreams by Christine Green, first published in 1994. It was a good mystery, and I will look for more by her. Set in England, as are most of my favorites.

  • rouan
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I have finished the month of June with a book that was recommended to me on another site I follow and I only have one thing to say about it. Wow! The Q by Beth Brower is only available as an e-book or I can assure you that I would be purchasing it in hardcover.

    It's set in a slightly different Victorian England, no magic or anything like that for those who don't care for it. The main character, Quincy, has a year to satisfy 12 stipulations of her guardian's will in order to inherit the business she loves and runs. The problem is that the solicitor in charge of making sure she satisfies the conditions cannot tell her what any of them are. This does not really give a sense of the story but I finished it with that sense of loss the end of a good story brings. I did have a little trouble getting into it but it caught me by the second chapter.

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