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kathy_tt

What are you reading in July 2020?

kathy_t
3 years ago

I finished reading the very short and enjoyable Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler. Nothing particularly profound or earth-shattering, but a nice light-hearted pandemic read.

Comments (97)

  • msmeow
    3 years ago

    Ann, my DH and I have talked about doing a European river cruise. The boats are small and many only carry 100 passengers. I told him with my luck it would be 99 people I can't stand LOL. He got all huffy so I amended it to 98, since I can usually stand him pretty well. :)

    I've read a long string of homicide detective novels and have been feeling I need a break. I just got an email from the library that my digital copy of The Gown is available, and a few minutes later finished my latest James Patterson. What great timing!

    Donna

  • kathy_t
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    Reader - Thanks for reposting your and Yoybon's comments about Letters to the Lost. Funny, I don't remember them at all. I suppose I just didn't pay attention since I had not read the book. But now, I'm happy to see what others thought about it.

    As I was reading along, I did not think about how taxes were being paid on the house in London, but at the very end of the book, Dan was able to transfer ownership of the house to Jess in very short order before he died, and at that point, I thought, "Well I guess Dan must have maintained ownership of the house" (and thus his lawyer would have kept paying the taxes) - but that surprised me since earlier in the book, I am pretty sure the house was presented to Stella as a gift.

    Well, whatever the case, I think we can all agree that although it was an enjoyable book, there were a few loose ends in the plot. And though it's a little late in the game for me, I would like for someone to buy me a nice little cottage.

    Vee and Annpan - Thanks for your info about passports and taxes in the U.K. What would we do without you two? There are so many novels set in the U.K.

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  • reader_in_transit
    3 years ago

    Kathy,

    You're right about that discrepancy. I remember clearly he gives Stella the house as a gift, so how could Dan "transfer" it to Jess at the end? Or did he retain ownership in case Stella's husband found out about the house? That guy would have taken the house from her in a New York minute. Since it's been a couple of years, I don't remember those details.

    The novel is enjoyable, and these little niggling implausibilities should not stop anyone from reading it (are we too persnickety, paying attention to them?)

    BTW, another novel by the same author was published last year, The Glittering Hour. Carolyn read it recently and liked it.



  • Carolyn Newlen
    3 years ago

    I did like it a lot. I usually just read for the story and am not bothered by details that don't quite fit unless they are glaringly obvious.

    I finished the Aline Templeton and started a Stella Rimington I found I had already read. I received the online copy of The Order by Daniel Silva yesterday, so that will be next up, of course, although I have two others downloaded ahead of it. I used to check out too many books in person, and now I'm getting too many on line. Fortunately, the library will only allow five downloads at a time. As they say, so many books . . .

  • Kath
    3 years ago

    Ann, I'm interested to know (but of course you are under no obligation to say) why you have retained British nationality. From memory, you have lived in Australian for a long time.

  • annpanagain
    3 years ago

    Kath, it is difficult to explain! I hung on for several reasons, one being that I wanted my children to have the right to stay in the UK if they wanted. There was a change of rules several times regarding work. Then I went back to the UK and lived there for 13 years until 2003. Now I am living in Perth and I shall probably stay but I still keep my British nationality. You never know!

    My husband and the children are Australian by birth. Their families might be glad of the link at some time if they want to live or work in the UK. My husband was able to as his mother was Scottish and she held both passports!

    In spite of living in Australia for a long time, on and off, I still think of myself as English.

  • vee_new
    3 years ago

    Just checked the passport stats and whereas in the US 46% of the population hold a passport in the UK it is 76%.

  • annpanagain
    3 years ago

    Vee, thanks for that. I had an idea that it would be quite a high number.

    Travel to the Continent is so easy, or was when I lived there. We got a freebie to go through the Chunnel to France and did it as a day return visit. It was around Xmas and I still have Joyeux Noel baubles I bought as a souvenir as well as a tripe dish to reheat in the micro-onde. A new word to me, they weren't in existence when I studied French some forty years earlier but what I could remember came in handy for that day!

    The tripe was for my husband. He belonged to a Tripe Club in Australia and they had a different one at their monthly meetings. I can take it or leave it!

    I am not reading new books at present as I am waiting for mysteries I requested from the library. I am dipping into old favourites and watching a sudden burst of new TV programs or newish like "Les Miserables".

  • msmeow
    3 years ago

    I don't know how popular cruising is (or was) in the UK, but many, many people in the US go on cruises (or we did pre-virus). Within the last few years the US started requiring passports for cruising, which may be one reason why more US folks have them.

    Reader-in-transit mentioned being persnickety, and I confess I tend to be! LOL Does it annoy anyone else when an author writes something like, "He picked up the empty bottle of soda"? To me it should be "the empty soda bottle". If it's empty, it's not a bottle of soda. I know....very nitpicky. :)

    Donna

  • vee_new
    3 years ago

    Donna, cruising has become very popular with the 'older generation' over here. It used to be considered a holiday for the upmarket/wealthy but its appeal seems to have widened and there appears less emphasis on dressing for dinner etc, although I understand there is still a scrum to be seated at the captain's table!

    We have watched TV shows following a US cruise ship who's bemused passengers disembarked in the Orkney Islands (off the North Scottish coast). One woman remarked "So this is Dublin." Another demanded a flight down to Edinburgh having no idea it was quite a few miles away and she would never get 'there and back' before the ship left port. Many of the passengers made the most of the visit to the woollen-goods shop and the local tea-rooms and seemed to enjoy the experience and they certainly help to boost the trade of these remote communities.

    I think I would instigate a short Q and A before each port so passengers had, at least, some idea of where they were going!

  • msmeow
    3 years ago

    Vee, they do give port talks (if you choose to attend). Mostly it's letting you know which shops are recommended by the cruise line, though they do tell you about the area (while also plugging the available shore excursions).

    We took a Mediterranean cruise for our 25th anniversary, and they billed one port day as Rome. The bus ride from the actual port (CIvitavecchia) to Rome was several hours and we had to leave very early in order to have any time in the city. But we did manage to visit St. Peter's, the Coliseum, the Spanish steps and the Trevi fountain.

    Donna

  • Carolyn Newlen
    3 years ago

    I've just finished The Order, of course. I do enjoy Gabriel Allon. I'm not sure what I would do with myself were it not for books. I did do a little weeding this morning before it got hot, and went to the drugstore to pick up a prescription, and made a banana pudding to use up bananas that were becoming overripe, so the entire day wasn't spent reading, (But most of it.)

    I've never been on a Caribbean cruise, popular in my area, saying I was saving cruising until I got old. Now a cruise ship is the last place I would want to be, and besides I can still walk!

    My driver's license doesn't expire until 2022, and I don't want to pay for the new "Real ID" one until I have to, so I may be using my passport for identification if I have occasion to fly inside the U.S. or need ID for some other reason before '22.

  • Rosefolly
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    We had booked a river cruise on the Douro River in Portugal for this summer, but postponed it for a year. We're counting on a vaccine being available by then. I don't think I want to go otherwise, assuming we're allowed in Europe at all.

    Done voting on the Hugo awards, so I went back to finish The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte. I had set it aside about halfway through to tackle the SF reading. Now it is complete. Very informative, though just a bit gossipy about the bright lights in the world of paleontology. I'm not sure how I felt about that aspect, but on the whole, I thought it was an excellent overview of the present understanding of dinosaurs, understandable and enjoyable even to non-scientists like me.

    Next up for me to read is this month's book club book, which coincidentally is Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I haven't cracked it open yet, but it certainly is a hefty volume.



  • masgar14
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    After having read The Seventh death of Evelyn Hardcastle. A
    brilliant mystery room, buti t is more than that , is a maze of mirrors and the
    figure who is reflected always change.

    Now I can finish the trilogy by Margaret Atwood. Read “Oryx
    and Crake” where the Snowman alias Jimmy thinks to be the last human being on
    earth,and he fougth about at the old times, when he used to live in the
    compund, where the elite lived. Then “The Great Flood” the novel is
    contemporanuos with the first, buti t is seen from the peebland point of view, where the
    humble people lived. Human were toying with genetic a little too much, and
    something went wrong.

    Now I am going to start “Maddaddam” (a new start) can’t say
    much because I haven’ read not even a line, but I trust Mrs Atwood.

  • msmeow
    3 years ago

    I finished The Gown this morning and I just loved it! Being a needleworker myself, I was very interested in the work done at the Hartnell studio. Thanks to all who recommended it!

    Donna

  • yoyobon_gw
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    Donna, did you google a photo of the gown !? It was my bookmark :0)

    Currently reading Carnegie's Maid and enjoying it.

    I've also been watching Million Dollar American Princesses on Amazon Prime which kind of feeds into the story and certainly the era showing how the industrialists' endowed daughters became bartering chips.....titles for money via a big dowery.

  • Carolyn Newlen
    3 years ago

    I read my first Phil Rickman book over the last couple of days, Wine of Angels, about an English village's first female priest, Merrily Watkins, and set in the 1950s. She is widowed, has a 15-year-old daughter, and is moving into a large parish house and having bad dreams. There are past and present strange happenings including the supposed suicide of a 1600s priest buried in an old apple orchard back when the town was famous for its cider. I stayed up late last night finishing it and will be reading more of the series.

  • vee_new
    3 years ago

    Carolyn, I was introduced to Phil Rickman's work by Dido (late of RP) who knew him and I read the first Wine of Angels book. It is set in Herefordshire a county full of apple orchards, cider-making, spud growing . . . and all things agricultural . . . and just a few miles 'up the road' from us. And many ancient churches; some pre-Norman.

    I enjoyed the story although I found it a tad over-long and wondered how Merrily managed to go on with her everyday work without some respite in therapy.

    I think the stories are set in the present day as female Anglican priests were not ordained until the 1990's.

  • msmeow
    3 years ago

    Bon, oh, yes! I studied lots of photos of THE gown, as well as other Hartnell gowns I saw online. I believe he designed her coronation gown as well.

    Donna

  • Carolyn Newlen
    3 years ago

    Vee, I will enjoy the Rickman books more now knowing that the setting is near you. I was probably wrong on the time of the story. It was such an idyllic place that it read like an earlier period. It was published in 1999.

    I've now begun The Lady Chapel, the second Owen Archer book by Candace Robb.

  • vee_new
    3 years ago

    From my son-in-law's pile of books, which I think were 'required reading' when he was at university I picked up Love in a Blue Time by Hanif Kureishi. A selection of short stories and not really my thing! Mostly about multi-racial characters, many of them film directors, writers etc and silly young women hangers-on. People lolling around all day taking drugs, doing sex and swearing. Most tedious; made me feel very old and in need of a sensible cup of tea.

  • skibby (zone 4 Vermont)
    3 years ago

    Finally! I was able to read and finish a book. It's been a couple of months now. The book was A Children's Bible - Lydia Millett. (not a bible story book) Enjoyed this - and the fact that I could read it. Just starting The Operator by Gretchen Berg. Wish me luck to get through it. I like it so far.

  • msmeow
    3 years ago

    I'm slogging through A Curious Beginning, the first Veronica Speedwell book. I've read about 1/3 of it. I'll try to finish it, though I don't care for Veronica at all.

    Donna

  • yoyobon_gw
    3 years ago

    I enjoyed Veronica's wit and sass.

  • Carolyn Newlen
    3 years ago

    I've started another Joanne Kilbourn book, A Killing Spring, by Gail Bowen. I really like Joanne. I like Veronica, too.

  • msmeow
    3 years ago

    Bon, I have no problem with wit and sass, I just think it's overdone in this book.

  • Carolyn Newlen
    3 years ago

    I finished another Vera book, Harbour Street, by Ann Cleeves. I don't have very many more to go and will miss her.

  • yoyobon_gw
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    Donna, lol, yes she really drives it home. I see it more as a "burning loins" sort of story where their "foreplay" of choice seems to be their sarcastic banter. After a bit I'm yelling at them " Get a room !! ".

    I am going to read Good Night From London by Jennifer Robson, who also wrote The Gown.

  • msmeow
    3 years ago

    Bon, I’m nearly done with A Curious Beginning and I‘m liking it more. I’m also reading Somewhere in Time by Richard Matheson. I read it years ago and remember really loving it, but it’s not doing much for me this time. There was a movie of it with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour.

    Donna

  • yoyobon_gw
    3 years ago

    I remember the movie well.......I like that kind of tale .

    As far as the Curious Beginning......I had to laugh because I felt the same way for the first third of the story. But once they get out of the traveling road show and on their own it's much more enjoyable. There is something about a book that involves a circus which completely turns me off. I could not read The Night Circus for that reason. I feel the same about vampire stories.

  • kathy_t
    Original Author
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    I finished The Gown a couple of days ago. (Been too busy stimulating the economy to find time to report this important news until now.) I really enjoyed it and thank everyone here for putting me on to it. None of my local friends seem to have heard of it ... until now, of course. I'll be suggesting it for my book club when we resume our pandemic-interrupted meetings. It is such a great topic to build a novel around. Kudos to Jennifer Robson for doing so.

  • yoyobon_gw
    3 years ago

    Kathy, check out some of her other books. They sound like she has done her historical homework for those as well.

  • vee_new
    3 years ago

    I have just enjoyed a book sent by a US friend Whisky Kilts and the Loch Ness Monster by William W Starr.

    Starr travelled to Scotland to follow the route taken in 1773 by Dr Johnson and James Boswell on their tour of the country, but he makes the journey in the opposite direction (N then W) and takes in some extras locations via Orkney and the Outer Hebrides.

    He has certainly studied the works of the men and consulted dozens of modern guides and gives a remarkably even-handed overview of the history of that country and the many castles and 'places of interest' along his way. I could, however, have done without any mention of 'Brave Heart' and Mel Gibson (NOT true history folks!) I think many American writers could well follow Starr's lead when pontificating about neighbouring Ireland and its history; most are so biased and reliant on folk tales.

    Starr does get confused over Mary Queen of Scots death which did not take place in the Tower of London and the fact that Westminster Abbey is not the 'national cathedral of the UK' . . . it is a 'Royal Peculiar' (too complicated to explain). The C of E cathedral in London in St Paul's.

    https://www.englishcathedrals.co.uk/cathedrals/royal-perculiars/

  • annpanagain
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    Vee, oops! I have seen a necklace in Arundel Castle that once belonged to Mary, Queen of Scots. She had a very small neck! Wasn't she supposed to be tall for a woman in that age?

    I just checked, 5'11''. Yes that was tall!

  • vee_new
    3 years ago

    My goodness, 5'11' is tall for these days let alone the 16C.

    When poor silly Mary Queen of Scots met her inevitable end at Fotheringhay Castle her poor neck took quite a battering as, apparently the executioner was so nervous he made three attempts at it. And Queen Elizabeth who had refused to have her bumped off for years (they were royal cousins) once she had signed the document of execution retired to her bedchamber for several days raging at what she had had to do.


    Fotheringhay Castle

  • kathy_t
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    Vee, you sure know your history! I found the link about Royal Peculiars very interesting. I'd always wondered why St. Paul's and West Minster Abbey where both in London. I like the use of the word "peculiars" in this sense also.

  • Carolyn Newlen
    3 years ago

    I have started Lethal White by J. K. Rawling. It picks up right where the last one left off--at the wedding.

  • Rosefolly
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    I just finished the entire 800 pages of The Labyrinth of Spirits, Carlos Ruiz Zafon's final novel in his quartet The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. I read it for my book club, and would not have chosen to read it on my own. I didn't love the first one,The Shadow of the Wind. Fortunately I liked this one somewhat better, maybe because I knew how dark it was going to be and wasn't caught off guard. There was enough action and a complex enough plot to keep me engaged for the entire 800 pages.

    Now I'm off to something more fun, Network Effect by Martha Wells. This is the latest of the Murderbot series. If you have any interest in science fiction you would probably love these. The main character is a self-aware security cyborg with an interesting opinion of humanity and its quirks.

  • msmeow
    3 years ago

    Carolyn, I really like the Cormoran Strike books. I am eagerly awaiting the next one!

    Donna

  • vee_new
    3 years ago

    Yet another book from Son-in-Law's stack (can he really have read them all I ask myself?) Art and Lies by Jeanette Winterson which I have found to be totally incomprehensible. I could make neither head nor tail of it so tried 'looking up' various learned remarks about it on Good Reads where it received many 5 stars.

    " . . . this is not a novel but an extended riff on art, sexual realism, religion, social repression . . . " or another " . . . this is not a novel in the Aristotelian sense . . ."

    It appears to be required reading set by pretentious English lecturers for students who wouldn't dare to say they hadn't understood it and might be more at home with Harry Potter . . .

    As you might say in the US "Enough Already"

  • vee_new
    3 years ago

    Kathy, re St Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey . . . St Paul's is in the City of London, the oldest 'original' part of the capital whereas Westminster Abbey was built back in the day (9C?) on a swampy piece of land by the Thames a few miles upstream and was the church of the monastic community there. It grew in importance as the Royal Palace of Westminster was 'next door', which was used by Parliament in its early days. Westminster Hall, the only part to survive a fire in 18?? is still used by visiting Heads of State to 'address' the Lords and Commons and is where monarchs 'lie in State' before their funeral.

    kathy_t thanked vee_new
  • donnamira
    3 years ago

    Rosefolly, I think you'll enjoy Network Effect; I pre-ordered the Kindle version, and it was one of the few books that captured my attention during the pandemic shutdown. I think Murderbot has become my new favorite series. :) I have already pre-ordered the next one, Fugitive Telemetry, which isn't due for release until next April.

    I spent most of July slogging through Color: A Natural History of the Palette, by Victoria Finlay. The topic is the sources of paints, pigments and dyes for Black, White, Brown and ROYGBIV, but it's buried in 400 pages of combined travelogue and innumerable anecdotes of every interesting factoid Finlay uncovered during her research. I finished the book only out of obstinacy.

    I have several library books that have sat around for the past several months, unread during my extended reading slump, but the library has reopened for limited exchanges and they are suddenly all due in a couple days, so I'm finally picking them up. Based on Yoyobon's post last March, I had requested The Uninvited Guests, which I finally read in the last 2 days - I wasn't sure where it was going and was caught by surprise about halfway through (yes, I should have known!). I also finished the book laughing. Definitely worth the time.

    Next up is Ruta Sepetys' Between Shades of Gray. a YA historical novel about Stalin's death camps.

  • msmeow
    3 years ago

    I'm reading The Museum of Desire by Jonathan Kellerman. Four people are found murdered inside a stretch limo and posed in a very strange tableau. I'm enjoying the story but there have been a couple of glaring editorial errors. For instance, the detective Milo texts his friend and consultant Alex at 4 pm and asks Alex to meet him at a witness's house. Then it says Alex arrived at the house at 2:40 pm! I guess good editors/proofreaders are hard to come by these days.

    Donna

  • Carolyn Newlen
    3 years ago

    I'm reading Fatal Games by Mari Hannah. I will finish it, but it isn't my cup of tea--too brutal and graphic.

  • yoyobon_gw
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    Vee...... " enough already ! " is taken from a Yiddish expression. I wonder if it's used widely around the country.

  • vee_new
    3 years ago

    Some spoilers ahead! I bought a cheap copy of Letters to the Lost after recommendations here. Not my usual reading-fare but I felt as a first book it was well-written and held my attention and Iona Grey seems to have done her homework as far as WWII is concerned.

    The main thing that bothered me was that I can't believe that a clergyman back then, even such a nasty one, would ever have married his very young skivvy from the orphanage. . .she would have been much too inexperienced to be a proper 'housekeeper' and just not the 'done thing' in those days, plus once she became the vicar's wife extra 'help' in the house would have been essential.

    I felt that the mention of the conditions described in the 'mental home' into which Daisy was banished as a baby were way over the top and seemed to be more like the places we saw on TV in Romania. I'm sure no kids were tied to their beds, ignored and never spoken to . . . in fact I've never heard of the very young being put into such institutions.

    Also felt that the baby produced by Nancy the racy friend, added nothing to the story and was unlikely to have been welcomed and brought up in the vicarage . . . and no mention of what became of her.

    And that's enough already from me.


  • kathy_t
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    I can't disagree with a thing you said, Vee. It will never make any kind of "Top 100 Books" list.

  • Carolyn Newlen
    3 years ago

    We had a guest minister speak at our church once who had adopted a little boy from Romania. His story of the orphanage was heart rending, but he said it wasn't that they meant to mistreat the children. They just didn't have enough workers or supplies to do an adequate job. His son had a circle on his little bottom for months due to being made to sit on a potty for hours on end in an attempt to keep him from being in wet diapers. He went back a year later, and the child in the next bed recognized him and asked why he took his friend away. It was really a heart breaking situation.

    I'm about to finish Fatal Games, thank goodness.


  • vee_new
    3 years ago

    Carolyn, some years ago before Romania 'opened up' my brother met a group of actors from that country and showed them around the 'Shakespeare sites'. He kept in touch with a woman from the group and went over there on a few occasions. He never knew anything about the orphans but said the sense of fear was everywhere even in the countryside. On the train home just before the R border he noticed the people in the compartment becoming very nervous, an old woman folding and refolding what appeared to be dishcloths, all the elderly men twitching etc. When the customs/police came along the corridor they forced ALL the 'local' passengers out, where they stood in the snow in the middle of 'no-where'. The train went on without them leaving Ed alone in the carriage.


  • Carolyn Newlen
    3 years ago

    Good Heavens, Vee. And never to know what happened to those people. We "first world" countries really don't have a clue, do we?