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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vee_new

A most enjoyable read has been Grandmothers by Salley Vickers. A story about three women of a 'certain age' who care for children and the interplay between the relationships of young and old. All these people are quite believable . . . so often not the case in books written by writers who seem to dwell on a Higher Plain than us mere mortals.

Some time ago I remember some of us read Vickers' Miss Garnet's Angel about an elderly woman, with Communist sympathies, who settles in Venice. Another good, thoughtful read.

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kathy_t

I finished reading the mystery, The Cemetery Yew by Cynthia Riggs. In the book, when the local cemetery receives a request to disinter a body so it can be moved to a different location, the casket is not found in its designated burial plot, and when finally located, does not contain a body. This sets off an interesting and quite satisfying mystery which is solved by 92-year-old Victoria Trumble, an active police deputy on Martha's Vineyard.

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Rosefolly

I'm nearing the end of Leonardo da Vinci, one of my two book club selections of this month. I'm not a fan of biography, but this was well worth reading. The other book club is reading William Kent Krueger's This Tender Land, a story of some ill-used orphans in the Midwest during the Great Depression. It sounds as though it would be, well, depressing, but I actually liked it very much. I've just ordered a copy of Krueger's Ordinary Grace. Has anyone in this group read it? I hope it is as good, since I purchased it. Normally I would get it from the library first but I took a leap of faith based on how much I liked the newer book. Krueger also writes a series of mystery novels which my husband Tom enjoys.

As soon as I finish LdV, I'm going to pay some attention to my long neglected TBR pile. It's getting tall and wobbly. Almost embarrassing really. And I'm going to keep out of the library. I have enough to read here.

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vee_new

Rosefolly I read Ordinary Grace when it was first mentioned at RP. A slow burning story and possibly a teenage rite of passage that no-one of that age should have to face. Well written but the subject matter can't be described as enjoyable.

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kathy_t

I thought Ordinary Grace was a terrific book. I liked it better than This Tender Land, in fact.

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Rosefolly

Thanks for the feedback! And I hope to read a book or two from the bedside stack before it arrives.

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reader_in_transit

Rosefolly,

Ordinary Grace was among my "Best Books of 2017". I hope to do not build up your expectations, though, as reading tastes are so individual.

BTW, another of my "best books" that year was The Garden of the Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng, which you had recommended at some point.


Donnamira,

Another of my best books that year was Sound of Snow Falling by Maggie Umber, which I then recommended, and you (birdwatcher and art lover) "read" too, as I learned from your comment on the "Best Books Read in 2017" thread:

Reader-in-transit: so it must have been your comments about Maggie Umber's book that led me to it! I bought it, and enjoyed it so much that I sent it to another bird-watching friend as a Christmas present.

I write "read" with quotation marks because as Kathy pointed on that same thread, it was the best book I didn't "read": the book has not text at all.

BTW, yesterday, at the library, I saw George Takei's They Called Us Enemy, which I will read eventually, based on your recommendation above.

In case any of you want to reminisce a little, here is the link to the "Best Books Read in 2017":

https://www.gardenweb.com/discussions/5021120/best-books-read-in-2017#n=28

All the books above are still highly recommended.

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woodnymph2_gw

I'm re-reading "Loving Frank" by Nancy Horan. This is a well-written story of architect Frank Lloyd Wright's extra marital affair with a married mother of two. They run away to Europe together and the woman takes up translating the work of Swedish feminist Ellen Key. They return to the States and Wright builds a prairie house for his paramour in Wisconsin. I won't give away the ending -- only to say it is shocking. I had read this just after relocating a decade ago and found I had forgotten almost everything about the plot and characters. I suppose I was so distracted by the move that the details never sunk in....

Has anyone else here read this; if so, what did you think?

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yoyobon_gw

I haven't read that book but I saw a documentary on his life on Amazon Prime.

Pretty depressing for a man so gifted. I've always wanted to visit Falling Water ,his home in Pennsylvania.

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donnamira

I read Loving Frank about 10 years ago, and it depressed me, not only for the shocking ending (which of course is what actually did happen to Mamah), but for the impact of the scandal of her affair with Wright on the legacy of her own intellect and capabilities. I thought the author did a very credible job of recreating Mamah when so little is actually known about her.

I would love to visit Fallingwater some day as well. It's a 3.5hr drive from my home, close enough that I'm sure I'll get around to driving up there one day.

My reading this month went off track for a couple weeks: I'm about halfway through Nnedi Okorafor's Who Fears Death, and there's so much about the protagonist's eventual death that I had to put it aside for a while. I have no idea whether the outcome will be as described, so I know I will pick it up eventually in the hopes that it will end better. Meanwhile, I devoured Cherryh's latest Foreigner novel, Resurgence, in a day.

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msmeow

I finished A Better Man and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s the most recent book by Louise Penny, which is good because I need a break from Three Pines. 🙂. I’ve read four or five LPs in the last several months.

Now I’m engrossed in Lethal White, the fourth Cormoran Strike novel by Robert Galbraith (aka J K Rowling).

Donna

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woodnymph2_gw

I, too, would love to visit some of F.L. Wright's architectural stunners. As is so often with genius, it would seem there were certain sad personality defects within the man. I wonder what would have happened with the couple if Mamah and Frank were living in our post-modern times....

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lemonhead101

I adore FLW, although I only learned about his work about ten years ago or so. Since then, I've learned more about his architectural approach, although know little about him as a person. I love MCM interiors!

Back to reading, I'm enmeshed in the interconnected short stories of Bernadine Everisto's characters in Girl, Woman, Other, the 2019 Booker Prize winner. Crikey. This book is an excellent read and I'm quite certain it will make the Top Ten list at the end of the year.

(Another recent 2020 Top Ten potential was my read of Elton John's autobiography, Me. That guy (and/or his ghost writer) can write!!)

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Rosefolly

I'm not a fan of FLW - I find his houses grim and unappealing. I've visited several, including Fallingwater twice a couple of decades apart, one of his Usonian houses (intended for the professional class), and the buildings he designed for Florida Central University. Honestly, I think I'd rather live in a cave. Well, a nice cave, anyway.

Reading Loving Frank was interesting, but only served to confirm my opinions. Isn't that always the way? It is so satisfying to have one's preexisting opinions confirmed. I found him and Mamah both to be quite selfish people, and would not have enjoyed knowing them in real life.

On the other hand, I do rather like Prairie School architecture, a kind of offshoot of the Craftsman style. I just don't like his interpretation of it.

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kathy_t

Woodnymph - I also read Loving Frank several years ago, and did not care for it. I was surprised that you are reading it a second time. Perhaps I'm not remembering what is good or enjoyable about it? I checked my reading journal and discovered that I failed to record my impressions there. (I hate it when I do that.)

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donnamira

I love the look and setting of Fallingwater myself, but I understand that there were structural failures in the design right from the beginning, and there's been a fairly continuous repair/modification effort to keep it intact. I think the only FLW structure I've been in is the Monona Terrace convention center in Madison, WI, and it seemed like any other convention center. It does have a beautiful view of the lake though. Perhaps it is really the setting, and the enhancement of the landscape that I admire in an FLW building, more than the buildings themselves? At Monona Terrace, what I liked the best was the gift shop - it had several signed David Macauley books for sale. :) (back to the picture book discussion! )

I've read a couple biographies where what I learned of the person was that I wouldn't have liked them at all! I remember putting down a well-regarded biography of Thomas More (or was it Martin Luther? maybe both!) because I decided I didn't like him as a person, and being a bit disappointed when I learned more of Garth Williams (the Little House illustrator).


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carolyn_ky

I am reading Bright Hair About the Bone by Barbara Cleverly. This is the second book featuring a different character, Letitia Talbot. I've enjoyed reading her Joe Sandilands books for years.

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kathy_t

I just finished The Confession Club by Elizabeth Berg. At first I thought, well this is just chick lit, and I didn't like the snide remarks made about men in the first chapter, but when one of the women fell in love with a homeless man, it kept me reading. That's a storyline you don't stumble on very often. I admit the man was presented in a rather idealized fashion, but it was still interesting.

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Rosefolly

Leonardo is done; I've moved on to the TBR stack; and now I am halfway through Bringing Nature Home by Doug Tallamy. The premise of the book is that we should plant a generous portion of native plants in our gardens because exotic plants disrupt local food webs. Local insects can't eat them, which is partly why we have fewer insects, and local birds require insects to raise their young, which is partly why we have fewer birds. Very interesting. He just despises the popular Bradford (Callery) pear. It is becoming an invasive weed in many areas. Actually I've always disliked it too, but as a carrier of disease to plants I prefer.

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skibby (zone 4 Vermont)

Thank you for posting that Rosefolly. I think now that I've dismissed the whole idea about growing native plants a bit too soon and without much consideration. Somehow I missed the import of doing that despite that fact that I try to be open and thoughtful about such things. As a gardener and nature enthusiast I obviously need to read more about this. I appreciate you sharing your viewpoint. If you have any suggested reading about this topic I'd love to hear it. I'll certainly look for the Tallamy book you mention.

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yoyobon_gw

FYI......Louise Penny's latest book will be out in September 2020 !

She seems to write one every year. How can she have a life ? Either that or she has a very gift ghost writer !

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Rosefolly

Skibby, I recommend Doug Tallamy and also Rick Darke, with whom he co-wrote another book, The Living Landscape. I'd been hearing about using natives for some years before I ran into his work and it never fully caught my attention until then. He also has a number of YouTube presentations, some a few minutes long, some an hour or even longer.

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skibby (zone 4 Vermont)

Thank you Rosefolly. My Library doesn't have anything by either of those two authors. I'll look further. YouTube as well. I appreciate the referrals.

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annpanagain

Yoyobon, a quiz question on a TV show mentioned that Dame Barbara Cartland has written over 700 books! She had a long life and wrote a lot of light romances with the aid of two secretaries apparently. She is not the only person with a prolific output either, I believe. Cartland did a lot of social work too and had a fascinating life!

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vee_new

Annpan today Barbara Cartland is possibly best remembered as the step Mother-in-Law of Diana P of Wales, as her daughter had married Earl Spencer, D's father.

An interesting obituary on B C below. She was quite a girl and I always 'see' her clad in clouds of pink with a lap-full of yappy pekinese dogs.


Dame Barbara Cartland


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msmeow

I went through a Barbara Cartland phase in high school and had several shelves of her paperbacks. They did seem to have the same plot, though - lower class girl comes to the attention of the local higher class man and sparks fly. She redeems him from his womanizing lifestyle and they live happily ever after.

Donna

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woodnymph2_gw

"Loving Frank" is not a book one can deem "enjoyable". But it is well written. What I most liked about it was the time period it evoked, in the Europe before WW I, and the same time period in America. I envisioned the far reaches of the "prairies" before Wisconsin became such a populous state. As well, I had never heard of the early feminist "Woman Movement" in Scandinavia at the turn of the century. So it was interesting to me to read of feminist Ellen Key, who was influenced by Ibsen's play "The Doll's House" and whose work Mamah translated into English. The violent ending was evocative and prescient, re: the Jim Crow era in America.

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kathy_t

Woodnymph - I admire your reading style!

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annpanagain

I was interested to note that a republished edition of a 1969 mystery I have just read has a foreword from the Publishers mentioning that they wish to disassociate themselves from words and views that could be offensive today. I couldn't see what they were getting upset about unless it was a mention of a dead coloured chef as a "darkie"?

I get upset about the snobby attitudes of writers towards the lower and working classes in some Golden Age mysteries but have to ignore it. I remember a critic mentioning in a foreword to a reprint that the maidservants who screamed about finding a body in the Thirties were the ones who managed to hang on to their nerves and get on with things during the Blitz.

Jolly good show, girls!

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vee_new

Annpan, what has it come to when publishers have to apologise for the content of the books they produce?

Is this part of the 'snowflake' generation where folk who's sensibilities are so delicate they cannot deal with how things were 'back in the day'? We are seeing this all the time over here. One eg was of a young man from an African country who was studying at Oxford with the help of a Rhodes Scholarship, who insisted that a bust of Cecil Rhodes be removed from his college as he saw C R as an example of the evil that was Imperialism. Of course there is no doubt that Rhodes exploited the natural wealth of the continent and maybe one could argue that without 'white' exploration the peoples of Africa could have just gone on as they had been doing for millennia. Maybe that young man would have gained no advantage from obtaining a law degree, or even been better off never having the chance to read and write. I don't know the answer but don't think we should try and re-write history.

Don't you have the same problem in the US with many claiming that statues to Southern Civil War generals etc should be torn down?


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msmeow

Vee, I don't understand all the fracas about statues of Confederate generals, but then I'm a southern white girl from a southern white family. I don't see the statues as symbols of white dominance over other races, or aggression, or any of those things. To me they are memorials to men who gave their all defending what they believed in.

I am really enjoying Lethal White. I liked the first three Cormoran Strike books a lot (JK Rowling can really tell a story!) but they all had a really gruesome murder at the center of the story. This one didn't have a death until nearly halfway through, and maybe it's suicide... Anyway, I'm really enjoying it.

Donna

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yoyobon_gw

Unless a person has been born and raised in the South, it is difficult to understand their feelings about this issue.

If we all went around demanding the removal of everything that offended us I'd have to raise my hand in favor of eliminating all Hooter's and Waffle House establishments !

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vee_new

Donna and yoyo. My grandfather and all his extensive family came from VA and while visiting in the early '70's I was interested/surprised to see that several Great Aunts still went to meetings discussing the finer points of the Civil War. I never felt that it was a black v white issue . . . but then I was only a looker-on.

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woodnymph2_gw

As a southerner, Donna, I understand your point of view.

Vee, it is tragic when these statues lead to violence as happened in Charlottesville, VA a couple of summers ago. An innocent young woman was killed and several bystanders hurt. The peaceful university town was invaded by outsiders, prepared for a fight. On MLK day, last Monday, a similar crowd threatened Richmond's capitol, in VA. This time, the fracas was over gun laws.

Here in Charleston, there is a statue to John Calhoun, former slave holder and defender of that way of life. However, in another park, there is a statue of Denmark Vesey, a Black who led a slave uprising, and there is also a slave museum, as well as a plantation that tells the southern way of life from the point of view of the slaves. Much of the older parts of downtown Charleston was built by slave labor. An African-American museum is now under construction also.

If all the statues in the 14 European countries I visited that offended many viewpoints were taken down, there might be little left to see.

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vee_new

Woodnymph/Mary the BBC TV showed the crowd in Richmond. Over here we find it impossible to understand why people feel it is their right to be armed with guns and are truly shocked that someone would carry a gun into church . . . as described by a participant in Richmond.

Of course we have plenty of baddies over here but as guns are virtually unobtainable they resort to stabbing each other . . . I should add this is among the communities of non-white males who join gangs for so-called protection; often drug related.

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carolyn_ky

Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, was born in Kentucky, his family moved to Mississippi when he was three, and then his father sent him back to KY to school when he was seven. He later went to Transylvania College in Lexington, KY.

From 1896 until 2016, his statue stood outside the entrance to the University of Louisville, at which time it was moved to a town further down the Ohio River because of protests. KY was the birthplace of both Davis and Abraham Lincoln which seems reason enough to me to have memorials to both of them left in situ.

We have another controversy, not yet settled, of a statue of John B. Castleman astride his horse in one of the large city parks in Louisville. He was a young Confederate officer, later pardoned and served as a General in the U.S. Army and very active in the development of our beautiful city parks designed by the famous park developer, Frederick Law Olmstead. Poor old Castleman, who advocated for no segregation in the park system, wears a big splash of orange paint that has been removed several times and evidently given up to the hoodlums. The discussion of what to do with him continues because the "agitators" won't listen to the end of the story.

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annpanagain

I prefer to see something useful like a fountain erected to a person rather than a statue. A memorial park is good too.

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vee_new

Annpan, I think the high-water mark of statue erecting must have been in the Victorian era with all those monuments put up in large industrial cities to commemorator local 'worthies', also in Westminster Abbey which seems over-run with marble/stone often of people, of whom, we as a Nation, have no memory.

Carolyn. We have the same problem over here in Bristol our neighbouring large city where a long-dead philanthropist Edward Colston's name is being reviled.

He was a wealthy merchant born in the late sixteen hundreds who's many ventures included the trading of slaves. At his death he left a huge fortune to the city which went to founding churches, schools, almshouses, hospitals etc and his name is on many street signs and so on. Today a very vocal group feel his name should be removed from the history of the city as though, for better or worse, he and the institutions he caused to be founded are of no relevance.

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yoyobon_gw

As a northern I think of it as a hunk of concrete/bronze/whatever.....if it offends you avert your eyes . People will always find "issues". I say choose your battles.

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astrokath

I have recently finished American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins, and thought it was very good. I read the Power of the Dog trilogy by Don Winslow last year, and this book fits in with that as it tells the story of a woman and her young son running from a Mexican drug cartel. There has been some controversy as Latin writers have claimed she has no right to tell their story, and that their own books have been ignored while this has been lauded. It's also an Oprah pick, but don't let that put you off :)

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carolyn_ky

I'm reading A Snapshot of Murder by Frances Brody. Have you read her books, Ann? They are cozies set post WWI.

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annpanagain

Carolyn, I don't recall her but will check her out. I am still catching up on Campion books. Rigby has done a good job but perhaps Campion and Lugg are easier characters to copy than Poirot. I didn't like the books with his character development..

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msmeow

I finished Lethal White on Saturday. It's my favorite of the four Cormoran Strike stories, I think because there wasn't a really grisly murder at the center of it. It kept me guessing right up to the end. And there were still some unresolved issues so I suspect a fifth Strike book is in the works.

Donna

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carolyn_ky

I'm reading Hidden Depths, the second Vera Stanhope mystery by Ann Cleeves. I read and very much enjoyed her Shetland books, but I'd never read any Vera's nor has the TV series run in my area. I am liking the books, of course.

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vee_new

Just finishing Margery Allingham's Tiger in the Smoke which has taken nearly a month to get through due to the very very small print making reading only a few pages at a time possible. Written in 1950 the language is, of course, very dated and there is quite a bit of 'psychological discussion' but when M A gets round to describing the scenes where something actually 'happens' she is excellent at upping the tension. It is almost possible to feel and smell the fog getting into the lungs.

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Rosefolly

I seem to be in a nonfiction mode these days. I've always read some but in the past it took a backseat to fiction. Recently it has been holding even. I read a novel, then a NF book, then another novel, and so on. I suspect this pattern is temporary, but I'm enjoying it right now.

Driving in my car I have been listening to Chernow's biography of Hamilton, as I mentioned previously. At home I have been reading The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte. Both are fascinating. My next planned novels are The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (for February book club) and Paragon Hotel by Lindsay Faye, which I started then set aside to finish off some library books I wanted to return. Paragon Hotel in particular intrigues me. It is set in the Great Depression. The main character is a gangster's moll who escaped New York to avoid being killed and ended up in a segregated hotel in Seattle. There her presence is a serious risk to the other inhabitants.

Lots of lovely reading awaits me!

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georgia_peach

I became an audiobook convert several years ago. They're great for my commute (roundtrip, it's around 1.5 to 2 hours per day during the work week), and also while doing housework on the weekends. Two that I listened to and really liked, both YA fantasies: Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson and Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim. Sorcery of Thorns is a stand-alone. Spin the Dawn is the first of a series (not sure if it's going to be a duology or a trilogy, but I think a duology).

Some eBooks that I've read this month:

The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton, a fantasy retelling of King Lear. I had mixed feelings about this one.

Sisters of the Vast Black by Lina Rather, a SF novella that I really enjoyed.



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yoyobon_gw

Just found a copy of The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley at the library book sale shelf......it goes to the TBR pile for sure.

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carolyn_ky

I really like Susanna Kearsley's books.

I finished Hidden Depths and have started Saints of New York by R. J. Ellory. I'm not very far into it yet, but it is going to be a good book--in spite of the bad language. I have read two other books by him, Candlemoth and Ghostheart, and gave both of them four stars on Goodreads. I have a hard time remembering the plots of what I read, but I do remember those.

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Rosefolly

My husband is reading one of the Frances Brody books which someone gave him for Christmas. We are much amused because we have both a Frances and a Brody in our family.

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msmeow

I finished The Mercedes Coffin by Faye Kellerman yesterday. One of her Pete Decker series. It was okay. I've read quite a few in this series and they're very similar.

I just started Chris Bohjalian's The Guest Room. It opens with a bachelor party being hosted by an investment banker at his home in the NYC suburbs.

Donna

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kathy_t

I just finished reading Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, a comedian who appears on the TV network, Comedy Central. The book is a memoir of his childhood. He was born in South Africa under apartheid, which made the relationship between his black mother and white father a crime. His father did not live with them, and Noah is very light-skinned, which set him apart in the black society in which he lived. Trevor describes his family's life both during and after Apartheid, including descriptions of some of the unintended results of this change in South African society. The book is an eye-opener and is strangely entertaining while describing some tragic situations.

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donnamira

kathy-t, the Trevor Noah book has been sitting on Mt TBR for about a year (along with Brusatte's Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs, mentioned above by Rosefolly, a John Crowley book, Donald Hall's last book of essays, a book of American Indian trickster stories, Gimbutas's book on Indo-European mythology... you get the idea). Someday I'll get to it, once I stop borrowing library books which take priority because of the due date (and yes, there are 2 unread library books waiting for me now). I just finished a library copy of Nnedi Okorafor's Who Fears Death, and heavens, I need something light and fun after that! A powerful story, but so much violence and death. I was interested to see that Tutuola's The Palm-Wine Drinkard is a part of Okorafor's story - I'll have to re-read that now. :)

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kathy_t

Donnamira - I know all about the opposing interplay of library books vs. the TBR stack! My incentive for reading Born a Crime is that my book club will be discussing it in February. Otherwise, I might not have picked it up, but I'm glad I did. It gave me a glimpse into a world I truly knew nothing about.

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