April is the cruelest month...what are you reading?

skibby (zone 4 Vermont)

I'm not prepared to post just yet but please go ahead and tell us about what you're reading!

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yoyobon_gw

Where'd You Go, Bernadette? - Maria Semple

I have really enjoyed this . I think there is a movie supposed to come out this summer.

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msmeow

I finished The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny. This is the fourth book of hers I have read and I think I liked this one the best. I was very surprised by the identity of the killer!

I've started The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian. The flight attendant's lifestyle is to get pass-out or black-out drunk and sleep with any man she can find when she is on layovers. On the first day of this story she wakes up in Dubai to find the man she slept with murdered in the bed.

Donna

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vee_new

Donna layover obviously has several meanings in this book!

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woodnymph2_gw

I'm dipping into "My Exaggerated Life: Pat Conroy as told to Katherine Clark" (2018).

Although from SC where I now live, Conroy is not a favorite author. However, he was a colorful character with an adventuresome lifestyle. The true life tales are amusing at times, but also the prose is a bit heavy and turgid, given the penchant for so many details and repetitions.

For my class in English literature, I'm trying to get through Milton's Paradise Lost.

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msmeow

Haha, Vee, I thought that, too! The author hasn't used the term "layover", but I think that's what it's called when a flight crew stays overnight in a location other than their home town.

Donna

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skibby (zone 4 Vermont)

I finished The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Exploration - Caroline Alexander. What a book. This took place in 1914 and it's known what the outcome was. Still, it was one of those edge-of-your-seat reads. Helpful diagrams, beautiful photos, well written. The crew/sailors were all so skilled and smart, the excerpts from the diaries so well written and candid. I can't say enough good about this book. I'm so glad that I made a promise not to dismiss any genre out of hand, as this is far different from anything I've read before. It's on the list of my top ten lifetime reads. If this is the kind of thing I'm to discover by dipping into different genres, then I'm all over it. This book came out in 1998 so I'll be looking for it at FofL sales and similar for my permanent library.

Next onto The Red Leather Diary - Lily Koppel. Not too far into it yet but I like it very much so far. Thanks Yoyobon! After, I'll be reading Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. Boy do I dread this one.

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yoyobon_gw

Regarding Miss Peregrine......as I got into the book I started to get the feeling that she had the stack of photos and decided to write a story incorporating them.....even if the character wasn't relevant. Not a fan. But if it's any consolation, the movie was worse !

Glad you're liking the Red Leather Diary. It's quite a story.

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reader_in_transit

Yoyobon,

The Where'd You Go, Bernadette? movie is scheduled to be released Aug 9 (the release date has been pushed back several times). Cate Blanchett has been cast as Bernadette. Maria Semple is one of the producers.

I read the book in 2015. In general, I found the book okay, but I didn't like Bernadette that much (she needed professional help).

There are many insider jokes/comments about Seattle that probably only those familiar with the city will get. Many of the places the author mentions exist: Queen Anne neighborhood, Galer Street (although not the school), the restaurant Lola, its owner-chef Tom Douglas, the Chihuly lamps. There are five-way intersections. It is also true that people are crazy about: the environment, parents being involved in the community, and THE weather, which is an endless topic of conversation.

When the author moved to Seattle from Los Angeles, she hated it, and Bernadette's loathing of the city was actually the author's:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/16/books/maria-semple-author-of-whered-you-go-bernadette.html?_r=1


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siobhan_1

Just finished The Book of Hidden Things by Francesco Dimitri. Started out well - four friends agree to meet in the same bar on the same day every year...and one of them does not show. Where is he? But I didn't like the book and don't recommend it, although I know that many would enjoy it. Heads up - cruelty to animals and a child, silly teenage-level gratuitous sex...no thanks.

So I'm onto Lynne Truss's The Lunar Cats, which is silly and ridiculous and thoroughly enjoyable. (Truss wrote Eats, Shoots & Leaves, however this book is fiction). You won't look at cats the same way...

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Rosefolly

Having enjoyed three of Tom's favorite Bryant and May series, I thought I'd give his other current favorite series a try. I am about a quarter of the way through Ian Rankin's first Inspector Rebus novel, Knots and Crosses. So far I don't like it at all. I don't like any of the characters. They only vary in the depth of my dislike. Wait, not exactly true; there are a couple for whom I feel a tepid pity or a neutral disdain. I thought at least I could bond to the so-called hero, but he seems to be a resentful, self-absorbed alcoholic and a neglectful father.

Still, I'll work my way through to the end before making a final judgment. After all, Tom really likes these books. It is possible that Rebus will reveal hidden gold buried deep in his character.

It could happen.


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reader_in_transit

Rosefolly,

Loved your pithy description:

...for whom I feel a tepid pity or a neutral disdain.

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annpanagain

I haven't read any Reginald Hill books writing as Patrick Ruell but found one at a Seniorcentre book sale for 50c and thought I would try it. Then I didn't want to put it down!

The Only Game starts off similarly to Bunny Lake is Missing and that nearly had me looking at the end to see if the missing child was all right! I didn't though and read it in proper order but fast!

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yoyobon_gw

Reader....yes, Bernadette is quite a character and at the end I wasn't entirely certain whether it was because she was portrayed from a child's point of view or if , as it turned out, she was just trying to find her way through a difficult period in her life . I rarely enjoy a movie-from-the-book so I hold no great hopes for this one :0)

Did you read Eleanor Oliphant ? She is another very flawed woman, but somehow endearing.

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kathy_t

Yoyo - Like Reader, I also read Where'd You Go, Bernadette in 2015, and like you, I loved it. So funny! After reading it, I had the intention of trying another book by Maria Semple, but I haven't done that … yet. I do, however, have Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine on my TBR list.

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reader_in_transit

Yes, Kathy, we were reading Where'd You Go, Bernadette? at the same time! I remember that. I remember also we both felt that the complication the author created for Bernadette's husband was unnecessary. Thinking about it now, I wonder if that was from her own experience too!

I liked Where'd You Go, Bernadette? better when I read it, but as time went by, I liked it less (I called it a book's aftertaste). I felt angry at Bernadette for putting her husband and daughter through all of that. Maria Semple wrote comedy (maybe she still does), so these quirky characters are up her alley, but, IMO, one relates differently to characters on the small screen that you do to characters in books. Or maybe it's just me...

No, Yoyobon, I haven't read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, though I may read it down the road (right now it has 62 holds at the library).

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kathy_t

Reader - Your comment that "..one relates differently to characters on the small screen than you do to characters in books" is a new concept for me - but it rings so true. How insightful of you! That is quite possibly the main reason why we readers hardly ever like the movie as well as the book.




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carolyn_ky

Rosefolly, the first Rebus book I read was Black and Blue which involved abuse and is a subject I despise, so I didn't read any more of them for quite awhile. Then with all the favorable comments coming from everywhere, I began with the first one, have continued through the whole series, and now I anxiously await anything new by Rankin. Good luck!

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reader_in_transit

Kathy, that cartoon is hilarious!

Elaborating on my comment above: We get to know characters in books better than we know a lot of people in real life, as we are privy to their interior lives, their innermost thoughts, feelings, motivations, desires, emotional scars, insecurities and struggles. In our lifetimes, how many real people do we get to know that thoroughly?

TV shows (and movies) are more about showing than telling, so we know the characters by what they say and do (their behavior), and their exteriors (clothes, hairdos, jewelry, tattoos, cars they drive, etc). Occasionally, they reveal their true selves in a brief scene, especially in comedy, where they usually keep up their façade until their backs are metaphorically against the wall.... or they are triumphant in a particular situation. Which works fine in that medium, you know the characters and identify with them, without having everything spelled out. Well, in long running series, like Friends and The Big Bang Theory, eventually you learn where they are coming from, the traumatic incidents of their lives, what has shaped them. And one can argue that even in books, not everything is spelled out, but, in general, you have better glimpses beyond the characters' public personae.

Also the absurd situations that we accept in a sitcom, without thinking much of it, are more difficult to pull off in a book.

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yoyobon_gw

The Lost Girls Of Paris by Pam Jenoff.

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tackykat

Just read (and loved!) Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Had our neighborhood book discussion last night.

Now reading (and liking!) The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent.

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kathy_t

Reader_in_transit - Gosh, you are so insightful. That is all so true about how much we actually know about characters. But I've not thought this thoroughly about it myself before. I believe this will help me in my own critical thinking about books and films, so thank you.

Do you teach a course in this stuff? I might just sign up!

Tackykat - Though I haven't read it yet, I've heard nothing but good things about Where the Crawdads Sing. Did you happen to see the Delia Owens interview on CBS Sunday Morning? She's an incredibly interesting person.

Delia Owens interview

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tackykat

Yes, I saw it and was about to start reading the book at that point. The plot is good, the writing is beautiful at many points throughout the book.

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skibby (zone 4 Vermont)

Kathy T, thank you for posting that interview. Wonderful! Already on my TBR pile, Crawdads has come to the top.

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carolyn_ky

I'm reading Death in the Stars, a Kate Shakleton mystery by Frances Brody. Kate's husband didn't come home from WWI, so she took up detecting to fill her time. The times and settings seem good, but Maisie Dobbs she isn't. Still, the books are a pretty good time filler.

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vee_new

A book recently finished:

A Voyage by Dhow by Norman Lewis, a well-respected journalist and travel writer. The first section deals with a trip into the then little-know areas of what is now Eritrea and the Yemen (think the Red Sea) places today of extreme poverty and near starvation of millions of people as a result of the Saudi 'intervention'. Lewis made the boat journey, just before WWII, and found a people 'ruled' by primitive superstition, fear of ghosts/spirits, extreme punishments . . . little has changed and certainly not for the better.

The next part of the book details travels in Western Mexico with the Huichol people who's tribe was so remote that they were largely left along by the Spanish and still spoke in a form of Aztec but, as this was written in 1970 their way of life has probably disappeared.

The final part deals with the Guayaki peoples of Paraguay an 'almost white' and much persecuted tribe who's forest homes are being decimated by loggers and farmers. These peaceful folk have come under the malign influence of US Evangelical so-called 'missionaries', who treat them as no better than slaves, often selling the children to tourists. The Head Honcho of the mission said none of these natives had been converted to Christianity as he hadn't learnt their language but through interpreters he had made it clear that they were condemned to Hell as they couldn't be 'saved'.

As this section was also written in the '70's I imagine these peoples are no more.

In all a very sad indictment of our World in general and missionaries in particular.

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msmeow

Vee, have you seen Huichol art? It is still created today. They make beautiful sculptures covered in beads worked in intricate designs. We were able to watch an artisan at work in Puerto Vallarta last year.

Donna

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friedag

Vee: Norman Lewis sure got around, didn't he? I haven't read A Voyage by Dhow, but I've read five or six of his other travel books. I think my favorites are Naples '44 and A Dragon Apparent: Travels in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam which Lewis undertook in 1950 in the last years of French Indochina. I particularly like his views because they capture bygone eras as they were understood at the time of his writing.

As follow-ups to David Reich's Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past which I read and reported on a couple of months ago, I have read the following:

Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia by Christina Thompson -- I found this detective story enthralling! Thompson combines anthropology, archaeology, biology, folklore, linguistics and several other studies to plumb the great mystery of who were the ancestors of the Polynesians, where did they come from, when did they settle the various islands, and how did they do it? DNA has provided some answers, but not everything has been explained!

I am currently reading She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity by Carl Zimmer. The case studies Zimmer has included are beyond fascinating to me. The story of Pearl Buck's daughter, called Carol, is just one. Carol seemed to have been born okay, but within weeks Pearl suspected something was wrong. Pearl and her husband had to institutionalize Carol, where their child lived until she died at age 72, long after her parents themselves had died. I didn't know that the author of The Good Earth was grateful that her book was a bestseller and a Pulitzer Prize winner because it meant that Carol would receive lifelong care. What was wrong with Carol? I will just say it was a genetic abnormality and not give away the answer in case others want to find out with their own reading.

Right now I'm reading about mosaicism (e.g. Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man), chimeras (people, usually fraternal twins -- one female, one male who actually exchanged DNA across their separate placentas; for example girls who have a Y chromosome although in other respects are completely female), and why Tasmanian devils have been dying of facial cancers. A lot of this blows completely out of the water what I learned in biology classes!

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vee_new

Frieda, I have read Naples '44 and have A Dragon Apparent in a bookcase somewhere.I think Lewis's writing represents journalism at it's best with good clear writing and no unnecessary add-on frills. His autobiography also makes fascinating reading.

I think I told you that my American Grandfather knew Pearl Buck. She taught at the College where his Mother (my G Grandmother worked) G G'mother wasn't a Professor, but a much more modest 'House Mother' a job she had to take when her husband died leaving her with five daughters and two young sons to bring up. My Grandfather the eldest, was by this time in England, married with two small children but was expected to send money home each month . . . rather resented by his wife who was left short of funds.

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vee_new

Donna, Norman Lewis mentions the art of the Huichol people, but worried that they had started selling T shirts and tourist 'tat'. It is good to know their traditions have continued.

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astrokath

I have just finished a new (not yet released) Jackson Brodie novel by Kate Atkinson, called Blue Sky. It's a long time since I read the previous ones, but I really enjoyed this. The characters were great, the mystery was well solved and it was quite funny along the way.

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vee_new

Kath, thanks for the tip. I too have enjoyed the Jackson Brodie series although I don't think I have read them in 'order' . . . or maybe it doesn't matter?

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carolyn_ky

Annpan, have you read Catherine Aird's books? I've just started one called Losing Ground. I have read some of them in the past but not for a long time. This one is about a listed building someone has set on fire, and bones have been discovered.

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annpanagain

Carolyn, yes, I have some of her books too. I love the amusing interaction between the two policemen although I am not usually fond of police procedural mysteries.

I have just bought "Look Alive 25" by Janet Evanovich for the joint collection my D keeps at her place. I was going to stop reading after 21 , being over-stretched by the length of the series, but this one is quite amusing.

I get this way with some series but come back later.

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woodnymph2_gw

I'm just finishing the Clark biography of the late Pat Conroy. It turned out to be more interesting than I had expected, in the end. Conroy knew personally just about anyone who was famous in the literary world of America for the past 50 years or so. There are a good number of anecdotes, some rather funny, about the writers and editors he was acquainted with. His descriptions of life in Rome, Italy and San Francisco I found interesting, not to mention Fripp Island SC, where he cloistered himself to write his colorful novels.

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yoyobon_gw

Skibby ...if you think April is the cruelest you need to come down to the Southern Tier of New York state in August !! Humidity like none you can imagine.

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carolyn_ky

I finished Losing Ground and found it confusing and unsatisfactory with a non-ending. What else can I say?

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netla

I have mostly been listening to podcasts lately and only reading briefly in bed before I go to sleep. There are so many good podcasts out there, but I haven't found many about literature, so if anyone can recommend some good book/literature podcasts, I'd appreciate it.

I'm in the process of setting up a book wall in my office and I expect to both find books to read I've forgotten I have and books to cull when I start emptying my bookcases prior to incorporating them into the wall. Until then, I'm reading some of the "reading in
progress" books that have lain stacked near my bed for weeks,
sometimes months.

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annpanagain

Yes, I too have books I had forgotten I had and haven't even read!

My D told me that she had picked up a book by P.D. James featuring Dalziel from the series by the late Reginald Hill but it didn't have Pascoe in it and wasn't in the usual style. I was puzzled but when she said "Adam" I clicked and said gently that she was talking about Dalgliesh!

How disappointing, I had hoped for a continuation of the series. That lead me to checking my shelves for character confirmation and I found a P.D. James I hadn't read, which brings me to the opening of this post!

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kathy_t

Yoyo - April is also far from the cruelest month in the Midwest - humidity being the issue here also - but I'm guessing Skibby's thread title is a nod to the Louise Penny mystery, The Cruelest Month, which takes place around Easter.

Skibby - Am I on the right track?

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yoyobon_gw

Kathy....no doubt, although it might be "mud season" for Skibby right now

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kathy_t

Yoyo - LOL, so true! Though it's not bad here, the nearby Missouri and Mississippi Rivers recently hit flood stage, and I'm waiting, waiting, waiting for my lawn to be dry enough for a tractor to drive a heavy, large tree into my back yard for planting. (At my age, you can't buy a sapling and expect to benefit from the shade.)

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skibby (zone 4 Vermont)

It's from T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land. That line has always stayed with me for some reason. Mud season is just beginning here - it's long and drawn out since it's so cold at night that the dirt (mud) roads freeze and harden up. During warm or sunny days it dissolves again into a gross mess. Good luck if you get stuck in a rut on the road. Sometimes it's feet deep.

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kathy_t

Interesting! I suppose Louise Penny must have borrowed her title from The Waste Land also. Does anyone happen to know?

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woodnymph2_gw

I am certain Penny must have borrowed that well-known line from Eliot. In fact, many have used the famous poet's words; e.g. I have a recording of "Lilacs out of the dead land", also a line from the same poem.

If there is a "cruel month" here in coastal SC, I think it must be September, when we are always bracing ourselves for damaging hurricanes and tornados.

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vee_new

I borrowed The Horseman by Tim Pears on the strength of several weekend paper reviews. It is the first part of a just finished trilogy.

Set in the Somerset countryside just before WWI, with some beautiful writing, but might not appeal to city-dwellers with little or know knowledge/interest in agricultural life. Many descriptions of the way to harness a horse, the workings of a plough, reaper, binder and how to 'build' a strawstack. The writer has done his homework and acknowledges the many books on farming methods he had studied.

Less good was the 'story'. Leopold, the carter's son, seems almost mute around people but notices 'nature' and wants to work with horses. An unlikely , though innocent, relationship develops between him and the daughter of the Squire. You know for the next two and seven-eighths of the following books it will not go well for the boy.

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carolyn_ky

I've begun The Crow Trap, the first Vera Stanhope by Anne Cleeves. I haven't read any of the Vera books but loved the Shetland series.

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reader_in_transit

Went to the library tonight to return a book, and browsing around saw this book, The People in the Photo by Hélène Gestern (translated from the French). In a short time I read 32 pages while there at the library, so I checked it out.

Kathy, regarding your question above:

Do you teach a course in this stuff? I might just sign up!

No, I wish!

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yoyobon_gw

The Lost Girls Of Paris ....afraid it's a mediocre read at best. The author defaults to the over-used " girl initially hates the hot guy but we know they'll end up together" situation in this story. *sigh* It is immediately out of tune in an otherwise serious story about female spies in WWII.

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reader_in_transit

Thanks, Yoyo, for the warning. I have a book by this author, The Things We Cherish, somewhere, but haven't read it yet.

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kathy_t

Carolyn, I'll be interested to hear what you have to say about The Crow Trap by Ann Cleeves. I read it a couple of years ago because I liked the idea of Vera Stanhope, the detective introduced in that novel. But I was underwhelmed. However, wanting to give Ann and Vera another chance, a few months later I read Harbour House and I liked it much better.

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yoyobon_gw

Reader, give it a try and see what you think. I prefer writers with a bit more depth and although this is a good story line, she really muddles it with the love affairs that become "serious" after two days or a one night stand !

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reader_in_transit

From your comment, I gather you have read other novels by her. Even though I haven't read anything by her, I've noticed most of her books have to do with WWII.

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vee_new

The True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey. Knowing little more than that Ned Kelly was a 'bandit' in 1870's Australia who got his comeuppance when confronting the police wearing a suit of home-made armour, this book put some flesh on the subject.

It is written in the first person so there is plenty of slang, expletives, lack of grammar and almost no punctuation.

Heavily weighted in favour of what Ned considers as his misunderstood and cruelly treated family, it paints a picture of a totally corrupt police force and justice system of Melbourne and surrounding areas. The wild Kelly family and their relations, although in and out of prison for horse stealing, shooting the police etc were regarded by the local population as an Australian answer to Robin Hood.

Had the books been any longer my interest would have lessened as it was very much of a muchness. Nothing but fighting, escaping from or hiding from the police and family and gang feuds. The one unlikely element is that Kelly is described by friends as being a 'Mummy's boy' . . . surprising as this woman seems as tough as old boots, in and out of prison and the mother of many children by different men.


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yoyobon_gw

Reader, this is the only book I have read by her and I won't be reading any others. She's an okay writer but the stories lack something . I would suggest reading The Secrets Of A Charmed Life if you like WWII stories.

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reader_in_transit

Thanks, Yoyobon.

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reader_in_transit

Finished The People in the Photo by Hélène Gestern in less than 24 hours, which is unusual for me. A Parisian woman knows very little about her mother, who died when she was four. After her father dies, she finds a newspaper clip where her mother is pictured with two unknown men at a tennis tournament in 1971. She puts an ad in several newspapers, asking if someone recognizes them. A Swiss man replies, his father is one of the men. They begin to correspond by letters, e-mails and text messages. Little by little they unravel the story of each of their parents. Predictable, but entertaining.

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kathy_t

Today I finished The Library Book by Susan Orlean, a simply delightful book about the Los Angeles Public Library and libraries in general. The book is structured around telling the story of the 1986 fire that destroyed 400,000 of the library's books and damaged 700,000 more. It was generally assumed to be an arson fire, and the suspected arsonist was known to many. The author interviewed many library employees, fire and police department personnel, and the accused arsonist’s family members. In addition to this "framework" story, and the restoration of the library, you learn much about the library’s history, including the amazing assortment of big personalities who served as the City Librarian over the years. It’s really, really interesting.

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kathy_t

I've started reading Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, a most unusual book - not yet sure if I like it.

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donnamira

I just finished Robin Oliveira's Winter Sisters, a sequel to her earlier historical fiction novel, My Name Is Mary Sutter, about a 19th century woman who pursues her ambition to become a medical doctor by starting out as a doctor's assistant during the US Civil War. The sequel is centered on a case of child molestation, which is uncomfortable reading, and a theme of the marginalization of women, which makes you want to slap some folks upside the head. But I found the plot was also a bit too melodramatic. It kept me reading to the end, but I preferred Oliveira's first novel.

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reader_in_transit

Reading At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier. So far, it is rather bleak.

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msmeow

Kathy, I'll be interested to hear your opinion of Lincoln in the Bardo. You are correct - it is a very unusual book. :)

Donna

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kathy_t

Donna - I'm glad I already know what Lincoln in the Bardo is about, because if I'd gone in "cold," I'd really be wondering.

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carolyn_ky

I finished The Crow Trap, Kathy, and liked it okay--gave it three stars on Good Reads. On a reading forum, someone said she liked the second Vera book better than this one, so I will continue with the series. I saw on the Stop You're Killing Me site that Ms. Cleeves has written a couple of earlier series, as well. If I should run out of books (joke), I may pursue them, too.

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annpanagain

Carolyn, I haven't read the Vera books yet but have occasionally watched the TV series. I have observed here before that the author of a series needs the second book to be read first as they get the characters settled in by then! I can think of a few examples where I didn't enjoy a first book but loved the rest of the series.

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lulu bella

I read Lincoln in the Bardo and thought it was way over my head. I read it, but found it very confusing . Also mentioned above was Secrets of a Charmed Life which I did enjoy.

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msmeow

I finished Holy Ghost by John Sanford yesterday. I enjoyed it very much! It starts with a small, dying town in Minnesota suddenly having an apparition of the Virgin Mary at the Catholic church. After a few weeks, the town is booming, full of visitors. Then people start getting shot.

Lots of twists! It kept me guessing whether it was really a new story or whether the new twist was tied to the main story.

This is the newest (I think) Virgil Flowers story, for those of you who follow that series.

Donna

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carolyn_ky

I'm almost finished with Ghostheart by R. J. Ellory. This is the second of his books that I have read, the first being Candlemoth. Both books are quite different, but both deal with characters set in the second half of the 20th century with some American history thrown in, and both have been big books that keep you reading and reading. I've forgotten if someone here recommended him, but thanks if it was you. His writing is different from a lot of what I read, but I like him.

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skibby (zone 4 Vermont)

Before I get too far behind: I finished The Red Leather Diary by Lily Koppel. Thanks to YYBon for the recommendation. I particularly liked reading about her passion for the arts and fearless approach.

Then, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I was dreading this as I said but wanted to make an effort since it was for my book club. Sailed through the first half and liked it but by the middle it stalled on me and I could tell it was going to take a major turn so I gave up and handed the book in at the next meeting. Interestingly, all but two in the group liked it very much and the discussion convinced me to finish it. I picked it back up from the library yesterday and will attempt to read the second half. ( and relieve the guilt for not completing a book club assignment ). For next month we will be reading poetry of our own choosing. This is not anything I've enjoyed much in the past and will give it a good try since it was my idea anyway. I thought it would be good to try this genre with some guidance - I don't want to miss out on something I may really enjoy without giving it a fair shot. I've been working hard so far. I may attempt to write one of my own.

For an independent choice I'm reading Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. I was going to take this out of the Library but after seeing Ms. Owens being interviewed I was convinced that I'd end up buying this. Skipped the Library and went directly to the bookstore. I don't buy many new books at full price (maybe one or two a year) but I thought this would be worth it. Plus our local bookstore is so much fun. The day I was there an author was there promoting his book. The talk was just concluding as I came in so I don't know what it was. (children's book) The book is about a lamb that he rescued and is raising and he had the lamb with him so I got to see that, and pet him (the lamb). Nice!

And last, as I was leaving the library yesterday I stopped at the sale shelf and found the latest Lee Child book (Past Tense) for $2. It looks like I'm all set for a while.

Sorry this is so long!

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skibby (zone 4 Vermont)

I just found this interview with John Churchman about the book The Easter Surprise mentioned above With Moonbeam, the special needs lamb.

http://www.wcax.com/content/news/Vermont-author-releases-new-childrens-book-for-Easter-508282811.html

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vee_new

Just finished Under a Wing by Reeve Lindbergh. I'm sure all you in the US know far more about the Lindbergh family than I did. Apart from her Father being a famous aviator and possibly/probably having Nazi sympathies and that her Mother was a well-respected author and, of course the tragic loss of their baby, I knew little else.

RL obviously loved both parents and seems to have been almost overawed by her Father who must have been a large-than-life character but . . . the forcefulness cloaked by an ever so reasonable " I am ready to listen to your point of view but I know I'm right" must sap the confidence of a child and some of her brothers seemed to have had difficulty with his attitude.

It was only when I did some extra reading I found CL had three other 'families' in Europe and seven further children, which must have been quite a shock to his 'original' family.

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msmeow

Vee, if you want more on the subject of the Lindberghs, there is The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin. I read it a couple of years ago. I learned a lot (in school we learned about the Spirit of St Louis and I think my Mom probably told me about the kidnapping), though I found the novel a bit tiresome (there are far too many iterations of Mrs. L's "jaunty grin").

Donna

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woodnymph2_gw

I seem to be reading non-fiction these days. I just finished a wonderful memoir: "Heartland: a memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth" by Sarah Smarsh. The author grew up in Kansas, moved around a lot, with her working class relatives. The descriptions of the farms, lands, and small towns are fascinating to this Easterner. It truly is "flyover country" and not well understood by Coastal cultures. The author is also somewhat of a sociologist, in terms of describing what happened during the last 40 years in American politics that affected the vanishing Middle Class. In this, it was similar to "Hillbilly Elegy", but in my view, far better written. I would compare it favorably to Barbara Ehrenreich's "Nickled and Dimed", written some years back.

Now, I have started "Who Killed Daniel Pearl" (the journalist who was beheaded by the Taliban about 20 years ago).

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vee_new

woodnymph/Mary interesting that you mention the 'vanishing Middle Class' in the US. . . where have they all gone? Over here, apparently almost everyone, discounting Dukes, Earls, Royalty etc describe themselves as Middle Class. ;-)

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msmeow

Vee, in the US the term "middle class" refers to the amount of money you have, is it the same in the UK? When the media use the term "vanishing middle class" they are referring to the growing number of people who can no longer make ends meet, due to rising housing prices and stagnating wages.

When I was a kid, my Dad worked and Mom stayed home with the kids. They owned a mortgage-free (small) three bedroom house and two cars. We weren't in a "ritzy" neighborhood by any means, but I think we were what would have been considered middle class, maybe even upper-middle class.

Now most two-parent families have both parents working, sometimes two jobs. I don't even know how single parents manage, unless they live with one of their parents.

Donna

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woodnymph2_gw

Vee, Donna beat me to it. Her explanation tallies with my own exactly. It also has to do with certain political and economic decisions that were made in the 1980's here. And it has to do with the decline of the Unions and the loss of jobs in the "rust belt". The decline regarding certain jobs continues, and many who were formerly considered to be "Middle Class" have fallen into the realms of "Lower Class" due to rising housing costs and stagnant wages. Not to mention rising cost of health care!

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lemonhead101

I'm in the middle of reading Michelle Obama's autiobiography, Becoming. It's really interested and very well written, so even if you're not in the same political tribe as these guys, she's got a fascinating backstory.

I'm also in the middle of researching for a work trip to Vancouver this summer.

Since you guys are a well-traveled group, do you have any tips or recommendations for what we do when we get there? I'm at the conference for a few days, but then DH is flying up and we're staying on afterwards to play and see the city.

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carolyn_ky

My only experience with Vancouver is flying into it and taking the Rocky Mountaineer train and bus trip. Two days are by train with luxury service, and then the bus goes on to Jasper, Kamloops, Lake Louise, Banff, and ends at Calgary. A drive on the ice fields and a helicopter ride were included. It was a fabulous trip; the night at the Lake Louise hotel was quite an experience for someone who stays at Best Westerns and La Quintas when traveling on my own.

You can just do the two-day train trip, and I highly recommend it.

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carolyn_ky

Vee, I didn't know about Lindbergh's other families. We have just seen Mrs. Wilson on Masterpiece Theater which was based on the true story of a WWII spy and was all new information for me. And they still won't tell his family(ies) what he did after all these years?

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yoyobon_gw

According to Money Magazine :

The definition of ‘middle class’ varies wildly, depending on who you ask. For some, it’s a mindset. For others, it’s simply a function of how much money you money you make.

Because of the fuzziness of the definition, far more Americans consider themselves middle class than the number who qualify based on income.

A new survey by Northwestern Mutual found that 70 percent of Americans consider themselves middle class. However a 2015 report from Pew Research Center shows that the middle class has been shrinking over the past four decades and now makes up only 50 percent of the United States’ total population.

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kathy_t

Sounds a lot like "middle age." As we Baby Boomers age our way toward elderly, we've been stretching middle-age out quite a bit.

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yoyobon_gw

Never admit to being "elderly" ......I prefer " of an age".

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vee_new

Thanks for the 'middle class' input. I think over here yoyo's mindset example would offer the best explanation. More in the way someone has been brought up/raised rather than how much money they have.

In the past 'upper middle class' would have been used for those well-off professional, lawyers, senior army/navy officers, landed property owners and so on. Anything higher and you are in the 'landed gentry' class . . . think of those Jane Austen families.

Of course I'm generalising here.

Back in the '60's in some quarters it was very fashionable to claim to be poor and working class . . . the poorer the better. My DH who used to work in Wales remembers listening to discussions/arguments about the poverty in which the speakers had lived. "We were so poor we had no indoor plumbing" "We were even poorer and only had a ty bach* up the side of the mountain."

*toilet/WC

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yoyobon_gw


Middle class in America post WWII......

Many factors converged to provide unparalleled social mobility in postwar America. Most important, income rose. Between 1945 and 1960, the median family income, adjusted for inflation, almost doubled. Rising income doubled the size of the middle class. Before the Great Depression of the 1930s only one-third of Americans qualified as middle class, but in postwar America two-thirds did.

The growth of the middle class reflected full employment, new opportunities, and federal spending, which contributed mightily to widespread prosperity. During the war, for example, the U.S. government built many new factories, which provided jobs. The federal government also directly aided ambitious Americans. In 1944 Congress passed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, known as the GI Bill of Rights. Under the law, the government paid part of tuition for veterans and gave them unemployment benefits while they sought jobs. It also provided low-interest loans to veterans buying homes or farms, or starting businesses. The GI Bill and other federal programs offered mortgages for home buyers.

New middle-class families of postwar America became suburban families. Of 13 million new homes built in the 1950s, 85 percent were in the suburbs. By the early 1960s, suburbs surrounded every city.

New families of the postwar era created a baby boom. The birth rate soared from 1946 to 1964, and peaked in 1957, when a baby was born every 7 seconds. Overall, more than 76 million Americans were part of the baby boom generation.

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kathy_t

Today I finished Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. It's perhaps the most unusual book I've ever read, and certainly the most original one I can think of. I admire those qualities. But I stop short of liking it due mainly to the very crude situations described and sexual traits the author assigns to many of the spirits who are biding their time in the bardo at the cemetery where Abraham Lincoln's son, Willie, has just been laid to rest. It wasn't the existence of the spirits that put me off, it was their behavior and language.

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vee_new

Kathy what is a 'bardo' please?

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kathy_t

Vee - I had to look it up. I don't even remember the word being used in the text of the book - just in the title. This is the definition from dictionary.com that I clung to as I read the book:

(in Tibetan Buddhism) a state of existence between death and rebirth, varying in length according to a person's conduct in life and manner of, or age at, death.

I read somewhere (but I've totally forgotten where) that George Saunders wanted to use a term that indicated the soul's existence after death and before they moved on to … whatever. He didn't want it to be a specific place, or state of being, that readers might associate with a specific religion.

**SPOILER ALERT**
All of the characters in the book, with the exception of Abraham Lincoln and the cemetery guard, are people who have died and been interred, or placed in a crypt, in this one cemetery. And they have physical descriptions, some of them very weird, with distortions related to the bad things they did or suffered in life. These characters who are "in the bardo," and don't understand that they are dead, call coffins "sick boxes" and graves "sick mounds" and mausoleums "sick houses."

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vee_new

Kathy, many thanks for the information. I don't think the book would be my cup of tea but I'm sure it would have a place in Frieda's 'literary' thread!

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vee_new

Carolyn, I also saw the Mrs Wilson TV series (until you mentioned it above I had forgotten about it) but it was very strange and obviously quite distressing for some members of his various 'families'.

I wonder if the Lindbergh's will have to put up with the same 'treatment'? At the moment two of the women with whom Charles Lindbergh had relationships and children are still alive and it was only after the first 'partner' died that her children started to ask questions about their suspected father.

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socks

I’m reading an older non-fiction book: Skeletons on the Zahara by Dean King, 2004. It’s a historical adventure, 1800’s. Well researched. I like stories of adventure, survival, a little suffering thrown in.

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kathy_t

Socks - I love your description …. a little suffering thrown in. Again, I find myself in need of an LOL button to click.

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msmeow

Kathy, Lincoln in the Bardo was definitely the most unusual book I've read, too, and like you, I can't say I really liked it. :)

I'm reading Silent Scream by Karen Harper. The main characters are a married couple; he's a prominent defense lawyer and she's a forensic psychologist. There are two separate story lines. The lawyer husband has an employee who the police suspect murdered his ex-girlfriend. The psychologist wife has been brought into a project recovering ancient remains from a peat bog in south Florida.

I think the story lines have potential, but for some reason the book just isn't engaging me. It's a little disjointed, jumping between the stories, and even within one story or the other the writing seems jerky or somehow unfinished. Almost like she isn't fully developing her thoughts and ideas before jumping on to something else.

I'll keep with it and see how it ends.

Donna

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Rosefolly

I decided to participate in the Hugo awards again this year and have begun reading. Here is a list of nominees for anyone who is interested.

https://www.theverge.com/2019/4/2/18291920/2019-hugo-award-nominations-science-fiction-fantasy-books

Because the Hugo is a fan-based award there are lots of fan-oriented categories, fun for those involved in that area but not of interest to me. I plan to vote for novel, novella, novelette, short story, and the two "related" categories of New Author (the Campbell) and YA (the Lodestar). As there are six nominees in every category, voting for the best series would mean reading 48 additional books, though perhaps fewer. If I despised a first book in a series, I would not feel honor bound to continue with the others to be able to judge fairly. I'm saving that for last, and will vote in that category only if I get enough time to reach it.


So far I've read three of the Best Novel nominees and am working on two of the YA novels. The only decision I've made so far is the Best New Author.

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