January 2020 reading

msmeow

I finished Glass Houses by Louise Penny last night. I was so wrapped up in the story I went right to the library’s website to place a hold on the next book, and discovered it was available! I checked out a digital copy but decided to read something else in between. I started The Inn by James Patterson & Candice Fox, but haven‘t gotten far enough to have an opinion yet.


Happy New Year, everyone!


Donna

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yoyobon_gw

Donna...no spoilers !!!

I am reading The Nature Of The Beast...*sigh* ...back in Three Pines :0)

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skibby (zone 4 Vermont)

My first read of the New Year was a children's book I ordered on-line. I was a little reluctant because of the $20 price tag but once it came it was so nice that all was forgiven. The book is The List : A Christmas Story - Gene Natali & Matt Kabala. It's the story of a young reindeer who is afraid to fly. It features beautiful illustrations that I love. (Mike Dean).

I read many children's Christmas books over December and had so much fun that I'm going to keep going. I'll need the children's Librarian to help me most likely since I don't know much about this genre. If you have any recommendations to offer for good stories and/or nicely done illustrations I'd love to hear them.

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reader_in_transit

Skibby,

The Complete Brambly Hedge, by Jill Barklem, is delightful. This volume contains all the stories Barklem wrote and illustrated about the charming mice population of Brambly Hedge, 8 stories in total, if I remember correctly . Your library may have just the individual stories.

If you like nature, these 3 books, illustrated beautifully by Jim La Marche are recommended:

The Pond and The Raft, both written and illustrated La Marche. Winter is coming was written by Tony Johnston. There is not a lot of text in this last one, but that fits the quiet atmosphere of the story.

These are just from the top of my head, I may remember more later.

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skibby (zone 4 Vermont)

RinT - thanks so much, those look wonderful. I'm making note of them all. I appreciate the suggestions.

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msgt800

By Donna Tart
I enjoied the Secret History, than I was disappointed by The Little Friend, too
long and boring, so I swore I wont ever reading somethingelse writing by her, When the
Goldenfitch came out I didn’t give even
a thought about to read it. But maybe I
saw the movie-trailer something stirred inside of me. I saw it in a library I pick it up and read a
few pages, I liked her writing style so I got it, and I am in love with the writing
of her. Line and sentences flow one inside the follow one as a quiet river, and
I am enchant by the landscape. The novel is very long my edition flexible cover
has 957 pages, I am only at 197, maybe I won’t finish it, but so far so good.

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woodnymph2_gw

I'm back on line again. Over the holidays I finished "Woman at the Window" by A.J. Finn. It was a dark thriller and at the end, I must say I did not see that coming. I won't give it away, but I liked the way the author kept the narrative going and all the surprises therein.

I wanted to revisit Three Pines, so had to re-read "A Great Reckoning" by L. Penny. I liked it even better the second go-round.

Now I'm just finishing up Donna Leon's "Death at La Fenice." I really like her Brunetti series and descriptions of Venice. She also has a wicked, subtle sense of humor which I greatly apppreciate.

I checked out "The Dutch House" but found myself unable to get into it, so I have put it aside.

msgt800, I am a great fan of Tartt's "The Secret History". I purchased it and periodically re-read it. I have not read any of her other work, however.

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astrokath

I am one of the few who didn't like The Secret History I think. I found all the characters obnoxious and drew the line at the twins called Charles and Camilla :)

I have been reading my Christmas gift, Me by Elton John. It is quite well written and very interesting.

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sheri_z6

I started the new year with the newest Elizabeth Hunter novel in her Elemental Legacy series, Night's Reckoning (yup, more vampires ;)) and followed it with Anna Quindlen's How Reading Changed My Life, which was short, sweet, and inspirational.

I received a lovely stack of books for Christmas, and now I'm dithering over what to read next. However, the minute the next two books in the Gaslight Mysteries series arrive for me at the library, they will jump the line.

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skibby (zone 4 Vermont)

Woodnymph - re: The Woman in the Window. I liked it too. My favorite thing about it was that it mentions so many movie titles since the protagonist was a film noir buff. I looked them all up and added many to my list. Fun!

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carolyn_ky

I read Anne Perry's annual Christmas novella, A Christmas Gathering, yesterday, did some more de-Christmasing of my house today, met some friends for lunch, and am ready to start Now You See Them by Elly Griffiths when I finish playing with the laptop. This book is one of Griffiths' Magic Men series, nothing like as good as the Ruth Galloways.

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carolyn_ky

Actually, I'm finding Now You See Them pretty good. Don't judge a book . . .

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annpanagain

Carolyn, I notice that people are de-Christmassing earlier than we all used to, when we waited for Twelfth Night to be over. I unhooked my sole effort of a door wreath on the day after New Year's Day.

BTW, I get confused about what is referred to as "New Years" in movies set in the USA. To me the days are New Year's Eve and then New Year's Day. I am not sure about the apostrophe either! If someone asks you to lunch on "New Years" when do you go?

I once turned up for a dinner because I was told "Next Friday." but the appointed day was really "Friday next." The Friday of the following week! No one was home when I arrived and I went hungry. My hosts second language was English, which they spoke well but I should have mentioned the date for clarification.

I have no new book to read yet with the library closed over the holidays so I have been re-reading a favourite author, Kate Fenton. I have all the six books she has written and hope she writes another some time.

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astrokath

Ann, we have had that confusion too. In my family, the upcoming day is 'this Friday' and the one after is 'next Friday'. You might have gone hungry at our place too :)

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donnamira

Skibby, I am a huge fan of well-illustrated picture books and have a collection that is probably in the hundreds by now, and would be the envy of most families with children, I think! I have over a dozen picture-book versions of The Night Before Christmas (which I stand around the Christmas tree in lieu of the more traditional train set), as well as many many more Christmas-themed books alone. For the holiday, btw, check out Snowmen at Night (Caralyn and Mark Buehner), or The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey (Susan Wojciechwoski and PJ Lynch).

Another favorite which I've given as a gift to several friends is City Dog, Country Frog (Mo Willems & John J. Muth). Illustrations are gorgeous and the story poignant - a wonderful meditation on friendship and time.

One that was totally captured our friend's 5 y/o daughter was King Bidgood's in the Bathtub, by Don and Audrey Wood. Lush, beautiful paintings and a very funny story of a king that refuses to get out of his bath.

And of course, don't forget the Caldecott winners. :) I listened to a talk from the author/illustrator of the most recent winner (Sophie Blackall for Hello, Lighthouse) at the National Book Festival last summer, and I was amazed at all the small things she brought to the design and layout of the story that I didn't pick up on during my reading of it. For example, the lighthouse is shown in the same location on the page from the same perspective in order to illustrate the constancy of the lighthouse and its safety function. A small thing you don't think of consciously, but adds so much to the story.

I could go on and on.... but will stop here!

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reader_in_transit

Please, go on!

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skibby (zone 4 Vermont)

Yes, do!

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kathy_t

We're sitting in a circle all around you, waiting for more of the story.

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yoyobon_gw

I brought the hot cocoa ( with homemade marshmallows ) and sugar cookies to pass ( of course they are decorated ala Martha Stewart ).

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donnamira

LOL! OK, I will!

How about pop-ups? Anyone love the ingenuity and engineering in really good pop-ups? Some of the best science-for-kids books are done as pop-ups - I received one as a gift last year, This Book is a Planetarium, by Kelli Anderson, which turns into about a dozen interactive experiments which are really cool! In the title experiment, the book opens to a paper pyramid poked full of holes; you turn on the flashlight of your cell phone, then in a dark room, set the phone inside the pyramid, and the constellations appear on the ceiling. The ultimate in pop-ups though are the ones by Robert Sabuda - very intricate laser-cut figures that are really too delicate for young kids, but totally jaw-dropping. Such as The Night Before Christmas one where 4 pairs of reindeer spring open about 4 inches from the book, face front to the reader, or the Wizard-of-Oz tornado that actually twirls as you open the page.

Then there are the famous artist/illustrators that you can depend on for something memorable no matter what they do: Maurice Sendak, Don and Audrey Wood, David Wiesner, Jon Scieska, David Wisniewski, Chris Van Allsburg, Graeme Base are a few that come to mind. Sendak of course did the classic Where The Wild Things Are, but his illustrations of the George MacDonald fairy tales (e.g. The Golden Key or The Light Princess) are worth looking for. Wiesner does wordless picture books of fantastical subjects, such as his Three Little Pigs where they step out of their story and go wandering through other tales. Scieska also does the fractured fairy tale, with a sly sense of humor that pokes fun at traditional versions; he's probably best known for The Stinky-Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales. His frequent collaborator, Lane Smith, also did a great one called It's a Book, where a monkey is reading a book and his friend, a donkey, can't understand why he's spending so much time with something that isn't electronic (look for the audio read-aloud with animation on YouTube). From Van Allsburg, go for the original Jumanji, better than all of the movie versions, or his The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, a book of unconnected images, each one illustrating a line from a 'lost' story. By the end of the book, I'm certain you will be making up stories to go with each illustration! Like most of the ones I've listed so far, the Graeme Base books are also eye-poppingly beautiful, and most very complex - Animalia is his famous one, an ABC book.

There are also a couple of older picture books you probably can't find anymore, but were originally created for the author/illustrator's children, as the Winnie-the-Pooh stories were: Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor, from Mervyn Peake (the Gormenghast guy) and Letters from Father Christmas, from Tolkien. The Peake book is as bizarre and eccentric as his Gormenghast story, while the Tolkien letters are beautifully crafted in great detail and include a unique character, Polar Bear, which adds a lot of fun to the stories. Several years ago, I went to hear his daughter, Priscilla Tolkien, speak and her favorite of all his work was The Father Christmas letters with the Polar Bear character.

Finally, I want to mention a book that I first read about here, I think from Rosefolly: The Sound of Snow Falling, by Maggie Umber. Another wordless book, this one follows a winter cycle, primarily through a pair of great horned owls. And if you haven't yet read George Takei's graphic memoir, They Called Us Enemy, I recommend it!

Anyone else ready to chime in?


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skibby (zone 4 Vermont)

Hardly - you're a hard act to follow. I will say that I bought Anamalia in November and have enjoyed it many times already. Nice job Donnamira - thanks very much. Pass me a bon-bon, Bon.

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yoyobon_gw

Robert Sabuda's earlier books are some of my favorites. He is arguably the king of pop-up art.

I have an antique humpback trunk filled with nearly 75 copies of The Night Before Christmas all by different illustrators. One of my favorites to read aloud every year is a paperback titled The Night Before The Night Before Christmas. It always makes me tear up at the end !

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carolyn_ky

Donnamira, I hadn't thought of putting my Christmas books out under the tree. That's a wonderful idea. And Yoyobon, homemade marshmallows? I'm in that circle.

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donnamira

Yoyobon - more than 75 versions!? Be still, my heart! When can I come visit so I can see them all? :) Are you the person I remember telling us how you put them throughout the house during Christmas for the kids in the family to discover the new ones? That gave me the idea for putting my copies underneath the Christmas tree.

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kathy_t

Donnamira and Yoyobon - Such creative uses for those books - both of you!

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sheri_z6

Donnamira, thank you for that wonderful list! I had forgotten Animalia and I need a gift for a child - that will be it! I had also forgotten Robert Sabuda.

I love the idea of Christmas books scattered around the house or under the tree. We used to have several children's Christmas books that only came out at holiday time and the kids really looked forward to reading them. As the aforementioned kids are now in their twenties and we had a basement flood and then moved house, I haven't thought about the Christmas books in ages. Time to go hunting -- when we moved we put several miscellaneous boxes in the storage area at my husband's office, and since I know they're not in the house, I hope they're still there!

As far as illustrations go, I've always been a fan of Arthur Rackham. Rackham's Fairy Tale Illustrations is an old favorite.

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yoyobon_gw

Donnamarie......yes, I tried to place as many of them as I could without lining the walls end to end ! What is delightful about the collection is that some are as tiny as a postage stamp and range upwards in size to regular or oversized books. Some are new and others are antique. The whole idea was to find as many interesting illustrators as I could. About a dozen are pop-up versions which were always the favorites with the children. What I discovered is that each illustrator puts their own twist to the tale via their drawings. Some are quite funny as you "read between the lines" with their images. One library discard copy I found had an illustrator who set the story in NYC in an old brownstone which gives it an interesting city version . Another version is illustrated entirely with mice in their underground home. Library book sales are a great place to discover the different editions.

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donnamira

Yoyobon, you've inspired me to resume looking for more versions! Of the ones I have, I do have a few that have a special twist, as you say: one where the family visited is one of little green, pop-eyed goblins in a forest home; a Pennsylvania-Dutch version, and a beautiful one where the setting is a prairie farmhouse. The rest are all traditional, plus I have an annotated version as well.

Sheri, I have a a volume of Andersen's fairy tales and a copy of Dickens' Christmas Carol, both purchased just for the Rackham illustrations. Edmund Dulac and Kay Nielsen are another 2 of my favorites from the 'golden age of illustration.' I have multiple copies of East of the Sun, West of the Moon with Nielsen's illustrations - I haven't found a version that seems to include them all. I have one copy with a funny story attached: I won it in a closed auction during my freshman year at college. Being a student I had no money, but wanted that book so much that I ended up going back to increase my bid and commit a week's lunches to it. Well, I won it (obviously) but when I went to pick it up the next day, I was told that I almost didn't get it: a bookseller had swiped the book, but another dealer had seen him and snitched on him, so they got it back. :) I have no idea what it is about this edition that made these 2 dealers want it so much - it has no date on it, but appears to have been printed in the US sometime in the 30's, so there doesn't seem to be anything special about it.


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vee_new

yoyo and Donnamira do you have copies of Allan and Janet Ahlberg's The Jolly Christmas Postman? The illustrations might not be up to the standard of Arthur Rackham but the book is delightful for small children, particularly girls, who seem to be more careful than boys.

As the postman goes through Nursery Rhyme land the letters he delivers are actually within the pages of the book, along with some very small puzzles and games and can be taken out and read or played with.

I would have loved a book like this when young!

The info. below is for the US edition.



The Jolly Christmas Postman

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yoyobon_gw

I do ! My grandson loved that book so much.

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donnamira

So do I! I knew I had the original Jolly Postman, which is up on a top shelf with several other picture books of similar dimensions, but I had to climb up to see if I had the Christmas version as well, and I did find it up there, along with another "Night Before Christmas" that I didn't realize I had: a repro of the 1912 version with Jessie Willcox Smith illustrations.


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carolyn_ky

You all are really collectors! I once had to do a college paper on Dickens' illustrators. It wasn't much fun.

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vee_new

Oh dear Carolyn, I would have found that tremendous fun! For a long time I was planning to be a famous book-illustrator . .. or even just an ordinary book-illustrator . . . but my parents refused to let me study Art; they didn't think it was 'suitable' and I didn't have the gumption to defy them.

However I have always continued my interest in the subject and very many years ago I remember looking in at a sale of books and bits and pieces in the dusty shop of a well-known antiquarian book dealer in my home town. I browsed through a folder of old prints and tatty sketches and found a grubby pen and ink wash by John Leech of Spring and Summer from a drawing of 'The Seasons'. The owner let me have it for 5 shillings!

Carolyn will well remember Leech as being the illustrator of A Christmas Carol among many other books and cartoons for the famous magazine 'Punch'.


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annpanagain

Oh, Vee, that is so sad. I have always felt a bit disappointed that my parents took little interest in what I was to do when I finished school but at least they never stopped me from doing anything!

They left it up to me to speak to what passed as a careers mistress (in the days when girls didn't really have careers, just jobs until they got married usually!) and to an Aunt who gave me some financial assistance but not enough for a domestic science (cooking) teaching course as suggested by the careers mistress.

I eventually used her money to rent a shared flat when I migrated to Australia!

What a good bargain you got! I love bargain hunting but it has got more difficult as people know more about the value of bric-a- brac from TV programs!

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carolyn_ky

I am reading Paper Son by S. J. Rozan. It is a new (2019) Lydia Chin-Bill Smith book, the first she has written since 2011, and she picks up right where she left off. I've always loved her books. The Lydia-Bill books are a series and a good one, but after 9/11 she wrote a stand-alone called Absent Friends that I thought was great.

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vee_new

An unusual subject for a book was My Life in Houses by Margaret Forster. She describes in some detail the various houses in which she has lived, starting with the council house ie social housing, in the far NW of England where she was born. A clever girl she won a scholarship to Oxford and writes about her 'digs' then flats and shared houses in what are now very expensive parts of London. On to a first home, holiday cottages etc. with brief details of her marriage, children and fight with cancer.

She was married to journalist Hunter Davies, better know as the writer of a book about the Beatles!

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laceyvail 6A, WV

I have been rereading much of Rosemary Sutcliff, a magnificent writer of books mostly for young adults (though certainly worth reading by adults) and a few books just for adults. I have never traveled to England, but since I was a child, post Roman Britain up to the conquest (the period in which much of Sutcliff's work is set) has always felt like home to me--whether Celts, Saxons, or Vikings. It's home.

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vee_new

laceyvail, I also enjoyed Rosemary Sutcliff as a young teenager and have just checked her books and found several I haven't read. I know some have been reissued as paperbacks.

Her autobiography Blue Remembered Hills was interesting as she talks about her love of history and the crippling disease she suffered all her life (Still's a rare form of childhood rheumatism ) and how as a child the bones in her fingers were broken and re-set in an effort to help her. This didn't help, all it caused was terrible pain. She spent the rest of her life in a wheelchair.

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woodnymph2_gw

I've been re-visiting Hellenga's "The Sixteen Pleasures." He is one of my favorite authors and I think his work is underrated. ("The Fall of A Sparrow" was also excellent). This one is set in Florence, Italy, after the flooding of the Arno River, when book restorers from all over the world came to rescue damaged books, some of which were extremely rare. Hellenga's descriptions of Italy are so vivid, I have the feeling I've just been on vacation there.

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sheri_z6

I'm half way through The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, The Dresser and the Wardrobe by Angela Kelly. I had enjoyed Dressing The Queen: The Jubilee Wardrobe, particularly the jewelry photos, so I asked for this one for Christmas. It's sedate and understandably fawning, no surprises or shocking revelations, but it's a fun look "backstage" at the many dressy events the Queen attends.

I follow several blogs that focus on English and European royal jewels, hats, and fashion (a wonderful guilty pleasure for an American who lives in blue jeans), so these books fit the bill perfectly.

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yoyobon_gw

woodnymph......I really liked The Sixteen Pleasures and it's one of the few books I've reread.

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msmeow

I just finished Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny. I could hardly put it down! I always enjoy her books but this one was great.

Donna

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yoyobon_gw

Donna......you are far ahead of me.....remember that saying :

" Silence is golden....Duct Tape is silver " !!

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skibby (zone 4 Vermont)

I'm continuing with my children's lit project but in the meanwhile I've been reading Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan. I don't know why I was dragging my feet starting this as I'm really liking it. I won't finish it in time for my club meeting but I'm going to finish it anyway. In fact, I want to own it. I placed a post on our Front Porch Forum asking for a copy. This week is a contest there for all participants to enter. All you have to do is have the word "marshmallow" in your post and you are entered into a drawing to win a $350 gift certificate at the local business of your choice. My post included: there's nothing like sitting down with a good book, and a mug of cocoa with marshmallow. Hee. My choice of businesses? Well, there is only one bookstore in town. Drawing is Friday - wish me luck!

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carolyn_ky

I have only read one Rosemary Sutcliff book and that one three times, Sword at Sunset which is one of her books for adults about what the real King Arthur might have been like. I bought into it hook, line, and sinker. I've always had a crush on Arthur.

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vee_new

Donna, I just finished Kingdom of the Blind picked up at random from the library. I have read a couple of Penny's books but not in order . . . so wonder what have I missed in the mention of a child/girl wearing a red hat who pops up in dark places but with no obvious 'context'?

btw I do enjoy all her mentions of good food!

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msmeow

Vee, in LP's recent books she has been filling in more of the backstory of the main characters, so you learn everything you need to know. The little girl is unique to that book.

I hardly ever cook (I really hate it!) but after reading one of LP's books where she mentions beef bourginon (I'm sure that's misspelled) many times I actually made a batch in my Crock Pot. It was pretty good!

Donna

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woodnymph2_gw

I've not been reading Penny's books in order and have had no issues in following the narrative and characters.

OK, maybe I missed one? What is the title of the one where there is a child wearing a red hat?

Carolyn, LOL! I think I've had a crush on King Arthur since early girlhood!

Oh my goodness! I LOVE to cook! In fact, I read cookbooks for sheer pleasure, some times.

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msmeow

Mary, the one with the girl in the red hat is Kingdom of the Blind. I got on the Hold list for the next (most current) LP book, A Better Man.

I've just started The Widow of Rose House which was mentioned by several RP-ers last month. I've only read one chapter but I like it so far! It's a nice change of pace from current-day murder mysteries.

Donna

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annpanagain

Donna, like you, I hardly ever cook. I refer to "preparing" a meal as so much of what I eat comes out of the microwave! My family freeze food from what they have cooked and give me meals in takeaway containers, often unmarked mysteries! Otherwise I buy ready to cook meals from shops. Desserts are usually individual pots of fruit or a sweet like tiramisu and always ice cream. I just can't get enthusiastic in the kitchen!

I have been reading from a collection of Golden Age author short stories. They used to write these for magazines. It is interesting to find loved characters pop up for a quick appearance.

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kathy_t

Woodnymph and Skibby - The Woman in the Window has been made into a film, starring some terrific actors. A link to the trailer is below.

SPOILER ALERT for those who have not yet read the book.

The Woman in the Window Trailer

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carolyn_ky

Mary, I knew I liked you!

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skibby (zone 4 Vermont)

Thanks Kathy t for posting that. It looks much more ominous than I remember the book was. Must have had on my rose colored reading glasses at the time.

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carolyn_ky

I've just finished the new Martha Grimes book, The Old Success. I love the Richard Jury series.

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astrokath

I loved Rosemary Sutcliffe in primary school, and even remember trying to write a story like The Eagle of the Ninth.

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kathy_t

I thought I'd never finish reading The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow, but I finally did. Although it was only 371 pages long, I will always think of it as The Ten Thousand Pages of January. Another title contender might be The Book I thought Would Never End. Um, I'm not recommending it. It's fantasy. It has an innocent young heroine. She has powers she didn't know existed. She goes on a quest. (A lot of people go on quests.) She overcomes unimaginable foes and odds, repeatedly slipping through the fingers of evil at the last possible second. And you can see the ending coming many, many pages before the author decides it's time to reveal it. Other than that, it had some amusing and interesting ideas and passages. The author is very good at using language in magical ways.

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carolyn_ky

Now reading Bryant & May, The Lonely Hour by Christopher Fowler.

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sheri_z6

I just finished two more Gaslight Mysteries by Victoria Thompson, Murder on Mulberry Bend and Murder on Marble Row.

Kathy, I have The Ten Thousand Doors of January on my TBR pile ... maybe I'll move it down a bit!

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kathy_t

Sheri - I have the impression that Ten Thousand Doors is very popular. I'm not a fantasy fan (though I did read all those Harry Potter books - perhaps that's what makes me think they're all alike, come to think of it). If you like fantasy, it's probably a good one? Oh, who am I to say?

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sheri_z6

Kathy, I will get to it eventually, but as there are lots of other books I'd also like to be reading your review helps me prioritize. I am a fan of fantasy, so I probably will like it when I get to it, but if the story drags a bit I can wait :)

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kathy_t

I've started reading a Cynthia Riggs mystery, The Cemetery Yew that is set on Martha's Vineyard and features the 92-year-old Victoria Trumble as the primary sleuth. This is from the series that Carolyn suggested for Annpan's reading pleasure. (I butted in on their conversation.) I'm 70-some pages in and enjoying the eternal nonagenarian's investigation.

Carolyn - you suggested in December that I "try the first one and see if you like them." I wasn't able to get the first one from my library, so I just picked a fairly early one. Your December comments were helpful - when you mentioned that Victoria runs a B&B. This book has not stated that fact (that I noticed) and I was surprised by how quickly Victoria offered to let a friend's cousin stay in her house for a few days while he got his own house cleaned up enough for said cousin's taste. The fact that she runs a B&B makes that offer to take in a stranger much less surprising.

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vee_new

An interesting read has been Célestine: Voices from a French Village by Gillian Tindall.

Tindall owns a house in the 'Berry' area of central France and one day found a dusty old box of letters in a neighbouring property. This led her to years of research as to the receiver of those long-ago letters, born in 1844 and how she fitted in to the life of the village, her forebears and those that came after.

I hadn't realised how little I knew about French social history! Learning the dates of wars, kings, treaties in no way make up for the 'background' to the life of the ordinary people up to two hundred years ago.

There were no roads, only tracks between villages, therefore no carts, carriages even horses etc so the people never travelled more than a mile or two from their homes. The villages had no shops, all food was grown for home-consumption, therefore no one needed any money. There was no education so almost everyone was illiterate. Nor did they speak French, just a local patois. Their 'beliefs' were simple and often dated back to primitive times of spirits, ghosts, spells etc. The Church had lost its place after the Revolution and the decayed building was used as the office of the local mayor.

Gradually things improved after the mid eighteen hundreds. A priest came and taught some of the children, a few roads were built, even a railway line. Young men were conscripted to fight in the Franco-Prussian war and realised there was life outside the village. Several of them were the writers of the letters that Tindall found asking for the hand of the young woman of the title, the daughter of the Innkeeper.

This book is in no way a 'page turner' and sometimes the names of the many villagers confused me . . . as the old folk were confused by Tindall's requests for information especially as they had little feeling for 'time'. Everything was either "Before the Revolution" or after.

Tindall also wrote The House by the Thames and the People who lived there which I think Carolyn read and recommended some years ago.



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woodnymph2_gw

Vee, that sounds intriguing; I must look for it.

I've just tried to read a book about the American Civil War that I could not finish: "Searching for Stonewall Jackson: A Quest for Legacy in a Divided America" by Ben Cleary (a Virginian).

The author follows on foot the battlefields of the Civil War in the South, with commentary on his impressions. He intersperses his narrative with updates on current American history, for example, the debates re removing Confederate statues, memorials, etc. Cleary is fair-minded and does not take sides. I was interested in learning more about Stonewall Jackson because I am very familiar with Lexington, VA, where I visited his home and VMI, where he taught. Despite being a slave owner, Jackson actually started a school for slaves, an action which was controversial for that day and time.

I could not finish the book as it is too depressing to contemplate how many families were divided, homes destroyed, and lives senselessly lost in such a long and bloody war. It did cause me to remember my own maternal Quaker ancestors who lived in a pocket of NC that did not sympathize with the Southern cause and did not own slaves.

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carolyn_ky

kathy, I evidently didn't make myself clear. It is the author Cynthia Riggs who runs her ancestral home as a B&B, not Victoria. I'm glad you are enjoying the book.

And, Vee, I have absolutely no recall of The House by the Thames. I looked it up and don't believe I have read it; it must have been recommended by someone else.

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friedag

Vee, possibly you are recalling my various posts about Gillian Tindall's books. I've read about six of them. I first read Celestine over twenty years ago, and I've reread it a couple of times. I've also read The House by the Thames and The Fields Beneath: The History of One London Village (Kentish Town).

My favorite of hers after Celestine is Footprints in Paris: A Few Streets, A Few Lives which is about some of her own family's history in the Latin Quarter. Mary, you would find this interesting since you lived there for a time in the 5th or 6th arrondissement. I lived in the 2nd and 11th, both with interesting histories, too, but not considered quite as colorful as the Latin Quarter.

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kathy_t

Carolyn - My misunderstanding about who runs the B&B on Martha's Vineyard is pretty amusing! Now I'm back to being surprised that Victoria would take in a stranger (and her toucan) so readily.

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Rosefolly

Add me to the list of those reading The Widow of Rose House. I'm about halfway through and so far enjoying it very much. It makes an enjoyable and cheerful break from my usual SF&F. I'm also finally reading Walter Isaacson's Leonardo Da Vinci. Actually I'm listening to it. I own a copy of the book (and a beautiful book it is, too), but somehow it is working better having someone with a beautiful voice and lovely educated pronunciation read it to me. (He never says "processees" when he means "processes".) This one is for my second book club. And just why did I feel compelled to join a second book club, you ask? Because I did feel compelled. The people who formed it are good friends of mine and I failed to say No in a way that would not hurt their feelings. Sigh.

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vee_new

Thank you Frieda and apologies to Carolyn. I wonder if Frieda mentioned the book and Carolyn said she was off on a holiday to London and might make a side-trip to 'Bankside' home of the house . . . and the Globe theatre? I'll put the possible confusion down to that the old gray cells ain't what they used to be!

I haven't been able to get a cheap copy of The Fields Beneath I no longer buy books at 'full price', as I should be lightening the book shelves.

Rosefolly is lucky to have more than one book club to join. There is a total lack of anything like that around here, although I think I might not 'get on' with the choices made. A friend told me her 'club' read Thirty Shades of Grey plus the several 'follow-on' books in the series, which, to me, shows a total lack of diversity . . . and taste.

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carolyn_ky

Vee, I have been to the Globe with my niece who is an English major/teacher. We send each other priceless grammar cartoons and mistakes that appear on Facebook, etc.

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kathy_t

Vee - Rest assured that your friend's book club is not typical - at least not in my experience. I live in a hard-reading town where book clubs abound and I've not heard of single one that has admitted to reading any "shades of grey" books.

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Rosefolly

I enjoyed Ten Thousand Doors of January more than Kathy did, but I have already forgotten most of it, not a sign of an enduring favorite. It's on my shelf for now but if I don't feel compelled to re-read it, I may end up passing it along.

I also finished The Widow of Rose Street. It was spoiled (for me) by two separate long passages of passion. Now I don't dislike sex in books, and you could make a reasonable argument that it belonged in this one, but they just went on and on. I ended up skipping over pages at a time dipping in to see if they were still at it. They were. Sigh. The plot wasn't bad though, and the writing was quite decent otherwise. I think someone told the author she had to put juicy scenes in to get her book read. Alas, it may be true. If you are looking for a period romance you could well do worse. I thought I found an error in fact but it seems I was wrong. The characters discussed electrification of houses and the story is set in the mid-1870's. Apparently the first houses were electrified right around 1880, so it works out better than I thought. I mistakenly thought it took place at least a decade later.

Vee, I once briefly belonged to a club of very nice ladies who read too many Dan Brown books. I pled "too busy" and left the group. Fifty Shades would have been worse. I suppose you could argue for reading one to see what all the fuss was about, but all of them? There was a comic movie called Book Club about a group of four friends who read them all and changed their lives. Perhaps that is where your friend's group got the idea.

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kathy_t

Rosefolly - I had forgotten about that Book Club movie. That actually was a pretty decent chick flick, in my opinion.

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msmeow

Rosefolly, in The Widow of Rose House the first passionate section did go on and on! Two chapters, I think. :)

I've just started A Better Man by Louise Penny. So far it hasn't captured me - she's giving a rehash of what happened in the previous book. I think she (or her publishers) are definitely trying to steer her stories into being more stand-alone.

Donna

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Rosefolly

Donna, one has to admire the characters' stamina, I suppose.

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carolyn_ky

I'm reading The Brass Verdict, a Mickey Heller/Harry Bosch book.

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msmeow

Okay, now that I got past the first couple of chapters I am completely hooked by A Better Man. Off to read some more...

Donna

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