As the pandemic marches on, what are you reading in August 2020?

kathy_t

By now it's clear that hot summer weather has not slowed the pandemic as predicted, but we who love reading are fortunate indeed as we continue to self isolate.


I'm currently enjoying The One-in-a-million Boy by Monica Wood. My secondary book, White Fragility by Robin Diangelo, is a struggle. It's not exactly written in layman's language - very erudite IMO.

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skibby (zone 4 Vermont)

I'm reading This is Chance! about the 1964 earthquake in Anchorage, Alaska. Genie Chance is the radio news reporter featured and the author is Jon Mooallem.

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yoyobon_gw

A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn ( 2nd in series of Veronica Speedwell ).

I am really enjoying these books and have already order #3 in the series.

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annpanagain

Sadly the second wave has hit the State of Victoria which is doing worse than before. In Western Australia we still have closed borders and are defying a court case brought by a businessman to open them. Imagine his popularity!

The "law's long delay" means we are safe for the next few months before there is a verdict. The bad news from Victoria may favour us.

We are still being careful and doing well within our State and the local Public Library finally opened on Sunday afternoons again. As the buses aren't plentiful on Sundays I didn't go but intend to visit soon and get some Barbara Pym books I have not read. I re-read the two I own over the last few days and was reminded of her works.

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Carolyn Newlen

I'm reading Good Bait by John Harvey, back and forth between London and Cornwall which are both places I love.

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msmeow

Ann, I'm sorry to hear you are having a resurgence of the virus. I'm sure you've heard on the news that Florida is a major hot spot in the US. My hubby and I are both going to work full time, but other than work and grocery shopping, mostly try to stay home and away from others.


I finished The Museum of Desire, a dark and bizarre story by Jonathan Kellerman, and am now on number 14 in the Women's Murder Club series by James Patterson.

Donna

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friedag

The pandemic isolation has certainly caused me to read -- and finish -- a lot of books that I ordinarily would have abandoned after only a few pages.


Kathy, an acquaintance dropped The One-in-a-million Boy on me declaring, according to her, that I should read it because it is one of the most hopeful, life-affirming, and perfect stories ever written. Oh dear, it is a book so poignant it almost makes me feel guilty for not liking it better. However, I felt emotionally manipulated by the author instead, and I seldom like that sort of authorial ploy. The differences in my taste and those of others probably apply as this type of storytelling has a wide appeal for many readers.


And talk about being manipulated: I suppose White Fragility may be described as erudite. But it strikes me as an exercise for spotting logical fallacies. I counted about ten before I flung it across the room. I might finish it after treading on it a few more times, though I doubt I will accept the gaslighting. Most likely it is the sort of book that many readers will not feel comfortable enough to discuss.

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annpanagain

Donna, I am fortunate that the opening up in this State has not affected us so far but the situation in the Eastern States has reminded us to continue to be very careful.

I have been watching the DVD of Jane Austen's Lady Susan which has the title of "Love and Friendship". It was made in 2016 but I have only just become aware of it. Such fun! I must get the Lady Susan book to read again. There is also one written by the movie maker based on his script, I think.

When looking up Jane Austen at my local library, I was surprised to see the number of spin off books that have been written. I recall I tried a few some time ago and disliked them.

I wish the wet weather would ease up so I could go out! We had the coldest day for 15 years today. I had saved the DVD for a rainy day and today was it!

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sheri_z6

The newest Gaslight Mystery, Murder on Pleasant Avenue, finally arrived at the library and I was able to pick it up. (I'd requested this via interlibrary loan back in early March. Frankly, I'm amazed it arrived at all.) I'm reading it very slowly as the next book (Murder on Wall Street) isn't due out until April of 2021.

I also received the newest Veronica Speedwell mystery, A Murderous Relation, and I'm looking forward to that next. Happily, Deanna Raybourn also has another book in the works, and An Unexpected Peril is due out in March of 2021.

My book group will be reading Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad for our Zoom meeting at the end of the month. I've heard good things about it, I just hope it's not too grim.

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kathy_t

Freida - Thanks for your comments on my two current reads. I don't disagree with anything you said. Yes, One-in-a-million is manipulative, as are most novels that elicit emotional reactions from the reader. I'm only about half-way through, but I do like the characters of the boy, his somewhat wayward father, and the elderly woman, so I am still enjoying it.

And I can certainly understand your reaction to White Fragility. It's a difficult read for a lot of reasons. I'm disappointed because I thought it was promising that there might be a good, understandable, inoffensive book we white folk could read that might lead us to a better understanding of how we come across to our other-race fellow earth-dwellers. But this book is just not very accessible at all. I think the fact that it is a best-seller speaks volumes about how much people want change though, which is encouraging. But please, someone provide a better book for us to read.

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vee_new

Kathy, Covid 19 is far from over in the UK (England in particular). We have had higher rates than most countries in Europe and those areas where large concentrations of what is know as 'ethic minorities' along with men, overweight people, diabetics etc are the worst hit.

Some areas have had mini-spikes and gone back into partial close-down, it is thought partly because young people seem to be congregating in large groups ignoring Govt advice. A 'rave' had to be broken up by police at the w/end in our nearby Forest of Dean where much noise, booze and drugs was taking place with youngsters from miles away notified of the 'event' via mobile/cell phone aps. Roads had to be closed to clear them away.

DD now living in Manchester (NW England) had hoped to visit us in a couple of weeks but the whole city has been partially relocked down so she may not be allowed to make the journey.

And on a literary note: I just got an email from the library saying that an ordered book was available to pick up. What followed was four pages of instructions then a calendar of times 'pick up' could happen. Our library is being staffed on two mornings a week and only in the foyer not near the shelves and I have managed to get a slot at 10am this Thursday. I just hope the book is worth waiting for . . . something by Jojo Moyes, entertaining but not too demanding for the remaining grey cells.

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annpanagain

The rain stopped today so I was able to pop into the local library for a couple of Barbara Pym books. I also ordered a book by Walt Stillman about the Lady Susan movie he made.

The library is fully open and the stacks rearranged to allow plenty of space to move around. I had to get help to find the Large Print section which was in the old non-fiction space! The big reading tables have been taken away.

There is a sanitiser at the entrance and plastic shields at the desk but otherwise our own dear place! I rely on borrowing books a lot especially these days and am so appreciative that ours is open again.

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friedag

Vee, as I've probably said too many times, I love reading about archaeology, but I have to admit that I can no longer remember very well what I've read, or keep straight in my mind what I do recall. I would like a simple overview of British Isles archaeology to refresh my memory and add to my knowledge. I think I am still capable of learning. :-)


I am willing to watch some television documentaries, as pictures and videos do complement the greater detail available in books. So I wonder what you can recommend in that line. What about the BBC shows presented by Scottish archaeologist/historian Neil Oliver? I have seen a few clips of A History of Scotland: Behind the Mist and Myth of Scottish History and A History of Ancient Britain: The Epic Story of a Nation Forged in Ice, Stone and Bronze.


The videography makes me gape at the scenery and artifacts, and Oliver himself is easy on my eyes and his style of presentation is pleasing. Unfortunately I have noticed in the tie-in books that Oliver or the BBC staff has a rather vague sense of geography outside the United Kingdom; e.g., 1) the Scablands scoured by the ancient draining of the glacial Lake Missoula are in what is now eastern Washington State, not Montana, and 2) Krakatoa is NOT east of Java in spite of the mistitled disaster movie. I assume the sense of geography encompassing the British Isles is more accurate. True?

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vee_new

Frieda, this is a tall order.

Archaeology has become very popular over here with many TV programmes given over to it in the last 15 plus years.

Originally Time Team followed a group of hairy archaeologists/historians as they hunted for artifacts in fields, caves, under water . . . all within a three day 'window'.

This led to many other TV series with follow-up books (as you mention). I feel that Neil Oliver stretches himself rather thinly although good on Scotland and the Vikings.

Have you read anything by Francis Pryor? Very knowledgeable on pre-history the stuff about the Seahenge (excavated a few years ago) is fascinating.

He has written Home and another The Making of the British Landscape which might fill in some of your gaps . . .I haven't read them.

A historian I always enjoy is Michael Wood and his series The Story of England was recently re-shown on TV. Through archaeology and the use of records he traces the history of one English village; Kibworth in Leicestershire more or less in the centre of England. I imagine there is a book to go with the series but the programmes if you can get them really held my attention as he delved into the pre Roman, Anglo Saxon, Norman onwards, helped by records from the days when the village was owned by Merton College Oxford.

I loved that there were still a few villagers who could trace their ancestry back and had the same surnames as those in the 14th, 15th centuries.

I don't know anything about geographical accuracy . . . I just hope they have done their homework.

Wood also made many programmes about other characters/places . . . I
enjoyed Eric Bloodaxe and Alfred (the Great) and his daughter . .who's
name I can't spell.

Frieda, if you read this . . . let us know how you get on!

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friedag

Vee, it may be a tall order, but you filled it admirably. I now have a lot of avenues to explore. Thank you so much!


I have read some of Francis Pryor's work, but don't recall seeing anything of his on TV. Michael Wood is a long-time favorite of mine, I think ever since I caught his In Search of . . . programs. I'll look for the history of Kibworth, as I really like that sort of investigation. The collective penchant for 'archivism' is another reason to appreciate the English.


As for my disappearances, they are not intentional. I only have intermittent internet service. It seems every time it gets cloudy or the wind blows our local provider mainly gives us outages. Also, sometimes I can't get any of the Houzz buttons to work except, for some reason, the "Like" button.


Fingers crossed, hoping this post appears.

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rouan

I have been MIA for a while. As I told Rosefolly, I have been in quite a reading slump for several months, mainly re-reading old favorites. The local library only opened up for curbside pickup a couple of weeks ago and both books I thought looked interesting enough to request went back unfinished.


Annpan, I re-read pride & Prejudice a couple of weeks ago and am watching the Jennifer Ehle /Colin Firth production each Sunday on PBS. For contrast, I am in the middle of watching the BBC production (1985) with Elizabeth Garfield and David Rintoun. Both are decent and both have features I like as well as those I thought didn’t work well. I thought Jennifer Ehle’s Elizabeth smirked too much and Mr Collins, in the 1985 version was portrayed as a bit too much of a buffoon. But those are minor criticisms.

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annpanagain

Rouan, yes it is interesting to watch different productions and the interpretations. I liked the public dance scene in the movie version where Mr. Darcy makes his appearance. I thought it was the most authentic version of what a dance like that would be like.

Vee, I think you commented on the candles in productions. I was amused to see in the Love and Friendship movie that the actors were reading by candle light but daylight seemed to be streaming through the open windows of the room where the scene was shot and a footman actor was gazing out!

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msmeow

I finished the 14th Women's Murder Club book and I have to say I didn't like it so much. It seemed like Patterson & Paetro were in a rush to meet a deadline and just threw the story together. Kind of like movies that blow a lot of stuff up just to blow stuff up.

I've just started Murder 101 by Faye Kellerman. I've been reading her novels about Pete Decker in order, too.

Donna

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Carolyn Newlen

I just finished the Mickey Haller book The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly. I like his Harry Bosch books better and for the first half of TGOG I wondered why I was reading it, but it had a smashing end. Mickey is a defense lawyer, while Harry, of course, is a homicide detective. The two of them are half-brothers who never knew of each other until adulthood.

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astrokath

I recently finished This Tender Land by William Kent Kreuger and enjoyed it very much. It is set in the Midwest during the Depression and gives a very good picture of what it must have been like. The characters are well-drawn, with the main ones being teenagers, and it really held my interest.

I am currently listening to The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, which is a retelling of the Arthurian stories with the emphasis on the women. I remember buying and reading this book in 1983 (just after it came out) while on holiday in Hong Kong and liking it a lot. Now I am finding it wordy and slow, and I would like to give several of the characters a good slapping.

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annpanagain

I had a sudden influx of requested library books and rushed out to pick up all four for the weekend. Three are light mysteries and one is about the Jane Austen "Love and Friendship" movie with the Austen "Lady Susan" letters included which the movie is based on. Has anyone seen it?

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Carolyn Newlen

I have read So Pretty a Problem by Francis Duncan today, a 1947 mystery set in Cornwall. It is a Mordecai Tremaine book. Is this one of your authors, Annpan?

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annpanagain

I have checked his output on SYKM and cannot recall any of those titles. I'll look in the local library catalogue for one. They would be reprints.

I am catching up with a couple of Marian Babson mysteries at present. I had forgotten her! I found one of her books buried in one of my bookshelves and couldn't even recall Whodunnit!

I also have "Careless Whiskers" by Miranda James. I had requested it months ago but the library closed for a while. My D got it out from her library ages ago and has been holding in her thoughts about the book until I read it! We both like Diesel the Maine Coon cat and Googled the noise they make, which is mentioned frequently.

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msmeow

Carolyn, I prefer Harry Bosch over Mickey Haller, too. Though the first M Connolly book I read was The Lincoln Lawyer and I liked it enough to keep reading him.

Donna

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Carolyn Newlen

Today I started The Corners of the Globe, only to find it is the middle book of a Max Maxstead trilogy by Robert Goddard. It's a good book, gave enough background of the first of the series to catch me up, and now, of course, I will have to read the other two. I've read a couple of Goddard's stand alones and like him enough to keep a list of his books for the future. This one is set at the end of the Paris meetings after the end of WWI with Japan angling for keeping part of China. Portents of the future.

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kathy_t

This morning I finished The One-in-a-million Boy by Monica Wood. I didn't fall in love with it, but I did enjoy it quite a bit. The character of the boy's father was my favorite. Right away, I couldn't help but picture a younger Jeff Bridges playing this part. I don't even know if a movie is in the works. It's not about Jeff Bridges's looks, but about his film persona as the easy-going guy who is not quite the husband or father or provider his wife would like him to be, although he tries in his way to please.

I did not feel the same as Frieda about this book. I think it was a cut above the typical "young and old people come together for the betterment of everyone" novel. But then, I don't automatically feel manipulated by heartwarming stories. Some of them, yes, but this one not so much.

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Carolyn Newlen

Well, The Corners of the Globe was a bit of a Raffles type tale but not so tongue-in-cheek and ended with "To be continued . . ." leaving our hero with another gun pointed at his head. On checking, I had read the first of the series some time ago, and the last one is not a library e-book. I have requested it as a hold in your hands kind, and the public library does now have outside pick up available, so I guess I will find out how he escapes from this predicament.

I have begun an old Gideon Oliver called Where There's a Will that is set in Hawaii that I am enjoying very much. I haven't read one of those for some time.

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sheri_z6

We've been without power for the past week following tropical storm Isaias, so I had plenty of time to read. Happily, the power (and the AC) came back on just before the heat wave, so I'm very grateful!

I finished the newest Gaslight Mystery, Murder on Pleasant Avenue, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I also finished the latest Veronica Speedwell Mystery, A Murderous Relation, which was terrific. I love the witty banter and the Victorian language - I can't wait for the next one.

I also finished two new-to-me urban fantasy books in the Jane Yellowrock series, Skinwalker and Blood Cross. It's very much a mash up of Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson series and Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels series, though it's well written and has some original elements that make it a separate animal. I'm glad I tried it, there are 12 more books in the series, but I doubt I'll continue.

Finally, I read Letters to the Lost, which has been mentioned here quite a bit. It was very good, though in hindsight I felt particularly bad for one character (no spoilers as to who) who really endured more than one's fair share of suffering, IMHO.


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msmeow

Sherri, I’m so glad you got the power back on! It’s really miserable in the summertime south with no electricity.

Donna

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kathy_t

Last night I finished D-Day Through French Eyes: Normandy 1944 by Mary Louise Roberts. I can't remember what brought this book to my attention but I found it very interesting. It is made up largely of small sections of Norman people's diaries, and memoirs based on diaries, written by French people who lived in the northwest portion of Normandy (the Cotentin Peninsula) where the D-Day landings took place - areas in and around Cherbourg, Sainte-Mere-Eglise, Saint Lo, and Caen. They describe the early days of their liberation as a mix of joy at finally being liberated and the horror of their cities being bombed and so many civilians being injured and killed in the wake of the invasion. They also describe the amazing scenes of many-colored parachutes falling from the night sky, and how big and tall and strong the American soldiers in appeared to them. (This was the section of France where American forces landed. British and Canadian forces were further east.) They saw many horrible things that I'm sure a person never gets over.

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Carolyn Newlen

Sheri, have you read Victoria Thompson's second series, the Counterfeit Lady books? They are of a similar time period with a youngier, feistier heroine.

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merryworld

I just finished The Falcon Thief: A True Tale of Adventure, Treachery and the Hunt for the Perfect Bird by Joshua Hammer. It's a true crime book about a man who steals falcon eggs and sells them to falconers in the Middle East. Lots of interesting information about the little known underworld of the bird and egg obsessed, as well as a good story about a fearless criminal and a determined detective. I liked it better than H is for Hawk.

This month's book club pick was The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson. I enjoyed it but it's pretty standard fare.

Last month's book club pick was White Fragility. I thought, "Oh this is short, I should be able to knock it off in a few days." But, no, as others have said it's quite dense and as a result I hadn't quite finished it when we had our meeting. (Our club is more social so it's OK to not have finished a book as long as you don't mind spoilers.) I was surprised that the discussion wasn't more lively about it, but it's difficult to have a good discussion when half the people are on zoom and half are sitting six feet apart in a garden at night being bitten by mosquitoes.


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rouan

It’s been a very hot summer here in upstate NY (for upstate NY, that is, at least 15 days of 90F + and counting). I was in the mood for a lazy summer day kind of read so picked up Thale’s Folly by Dorothy Gilman. It’s a quick, light read which suited my mood admirably.

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skibby (zone 4 Vermont)

Merryworld - The Falcon Thief sounds good. Thanks. Since you liked that you may enjoy The Feather Thief, another true crime book. If you haven't read it already.

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sheri_z6

I just started The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow, and 45 pages in I'm hooked. It definitely reminds me a little of The Night Circus, which I loved. I can't wait to get back to it.

Carolyn, I have not read the Counterfeit Lady books, but if they're as good as the Gaslight Mysteries I will have to try them. Thanks for the recommendation!

I just finished Opium and Absinthe by Lydia Kang which was set in turn-of-the-last-century NYC. In addition to a good story -- a murder mystery with a somewhat unreliable narrator -- it was fun to see the same historical references and descriptions that also set the scene for the Gaslight Mysteries.

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vee_new

Jojo Moyes' Still Me is her third following the life and career of her heroine Lou. Rather a 'girly' book so not my usual reading, but Moyes writes well and my brain as been fried by very un-English temps in the low 90'sF. As AC is unknown in our houses and only in the bigger stores, we have become as troglodytes forced to live in Stygian gloom, just coming up for air after darkness.

Still Me takes Lou to New York City where she becomes a 'gofer'/social secretary/companion to the latest wife of a very powerful businessman. The woman, originally a masseur from Poland, is looked down on by the society matrons of the city and the book gives an interesting insight into the pointless lives of corporate wives with their huge spending power and their days full of hairdos, facials, fittings, 'charity' events and acting as arm-candy for their wealthy husbands, who's interest in the well-being of their staff and mankind in general revolves round themselves. All very superficial; I was reminded a little bit of a certain First Lady . . . .

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annpanagain

Vee, I do sympathise about the heat. It was very hot in 2003, my last year in the UK. I bought a cheap pedestal fan and carried it around to each room I was in. Good training for the weather back in Australia!

My son just phoned to tell me he is fleeing the humid heat in the North. "Shut up!" I replied. I am sitting in a room with the heating on full and I don't want to hear that! We are due to have more storms this weekend.

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kathy_t

Vee, 90+ degrees without air-conditioning ... oh my, that's terrible. I hope the weather changes for you soon. Can't be soon enough, I imagine.

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annpanagain

Vee, can you hang wet sheets etc. in the opened windows? We didn't have A/C in our first home and did that to cool the place down.

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masgar14

I am mentally packing my bags. I think I'll bring a couple of Le Carre, a Johnathan Coe, a couple of McEwan, one by Atwood, the collected short stories of William Trevor, jusin case, but the main game should be.”Midnight Children” by Salman Rushdie. I have never read anything by him, moreover in this novel also magical realism is involved, which never attracted me much, but a couple of mornings ago, I woke up thinking that I had to read it.

The number of books I take with me on vacation has always been a source of discussion with my wife. It is clear that I will not be able to read all the books that I carry , but if I carried only one and I wouldn't like that one? I want to have more than one choice.

Oh yes, I must also remember to take shoes, socks, underwear, trousers long and short, shirts and a sweater.

And I promise this year I won’t forget my wife in a gas station.


https://www.amazon.co.uk/Midnights-Children-Vintage-Classics-Rushdie/dp/0099511894/ref=sr_1_1?crid=33127L7C9DB9E&dchild=1&keywords=midnight+children+by+salman+rushdie&qid=1597147057&sprefix=midnight+childre%2Caps%2C167&sr=8-1

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msmeow

LOL Masgar! Where are you traveling?

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merryworld

Skibby, I've put it on my list. I was in the middle of The Ballad of the Whiskey Robber when The Falcon Thief became available from my library. I seem to have unintentionally gotten myself on a gentle true crime kick.

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masgar14

msmeow. Valle D'Aosta mountain 's Italy

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yoyobon_gw

Buona fortuna e buon viaggio !

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Carolyn Newlen

I've just finished Murder Is My Neighbor, an Ellie Quicke mystery by Veronica Heley. Popcorn reading, but enjoyable. Ellie's daughter is a piece of work, and Ellie finally seems to have worked up enough spunk to say no to giving her more money to squander plus solving another murder for her unbelievably dense detective.

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Carolyn Newlen

Now on to Curtain Call by Graham Hurley. I'm not sure how I heard about this one. It isn't a mystery but is the first of a series featuring Enora Anderson, an actress who is in the process of divorcing her husband who has enticed their 17-year-old son to go away with him. It's a good story. Set in Portsmouth, England.



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Carolyn Newlen

Curtain Call is a really good book, and there are two more to follow. I've just finished it and look forward to the others, but I have some more checked out to read first.

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msmeow

Masgar, have a wonderful trip!

Carolyn, I may give Curtain Call a try. I could use a change of genre.

I’m just keeping on with the Women’s Murder Club series and the Decker/Lazarus series by Faye Kellerman. I’m nearing the end of both.

Donna

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yoyobon_gw

A Treacherous Curse , Veronica Speedwell Mystery #3. Just love this series.

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Carolyn Newlen

Devil's Fjord, David Hewson

New author for me. The setting is the Faroes, off Denmark, and it is too stark for me. I will finish it, though. What else is there to do? A year ago yesterday, we left for our Switzerland & Austria tour. This year we can't even fly into Hawaii with a 14-day quarantine, not that I would want to fly anywhere right now. About all I do is read and eat.

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sheri_z6

I just finished The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow. I loved it. It was a good story with a wonderful heroine (and her dog), interesting world-building, and beautiful writing with an occasional incandescent turn of phrase. Definitely among the top ten books I've read this year. If you liked The Night Circus, you'll like this book.

Carolyn, I was able to get all three of the Victoria Thompson Counterfeit Lady mysteries from the library and that's what I'll be reading next.

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annpanagain

Carolyn, same with me! Excepting I am not eating a lot and have lost 10kgs over the last few months when everyone else seems to be complaining about gaining weight!

I am getting tempting brochures from the travel agent I went with once for trips within the State as we can't go past the border still. However, I am taking trips vicariously with my son who is touring up North, sightseeing and getting gigs, playing the guitar and singing at various venues on his travels. He is sending photoes and calls regularly to commiserate on our bad weather down South!

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Carolyn Newlen

Ann, so that's where my extra weight came from! You know, if someone loses weight, it has to go somewhere.

I meant to say above that I can't fly to Hawaii without a 14-day quarantine after arriving there. Right now, that ban is supposed to be lifted on September 1, but I still don't think I will want to be on a plane.

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annpanagain

Carolyn, you don't have my lost weight, that has been claimed already by an i'net friend in Sydney!

I agree with you about going on a plane. We can go to some off-shore islands in a "travel bubble" but I am sticking with a ten-mile radius! That takes in the shops and local library. One good thing for me from the Covid programs is that I now have the Support Worker who cleans for me once a fortnight taking me to the shops afterwards. This saves me having to use buses and lugging heavy shopping home. I was finding it a bit much but too short a trip for a taxi-driver.

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Carolyn Newlen

Ann, that's great that you can get taken for shopping.

I have just barely started reading Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz. My daughter gave me a birthday gift of a three-month membership in Mr. Holmes where I will receive one letter a month directed to Sherlock Holmes asking for his help in solving a problem. I have received the first one, which is four handwritten pages about the background of a man's father who is aging and has begun to play the stock market upon the advice of a medium who tells the father that his deceased father is offering advice on investing. The request is that Mr. Holmes stop the medium. I have no idea what the clues are much less how to solve the problem. I'm supposed to get another letter telling me what should be done.

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skibby (zone 4 Vermont)

How fun!

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kathy_t

Carolyn - Yes - fun! Please keep us apprised of your future correspondence regarding you and Sherlock.

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friedag

I just finished the ninth installment in the Martin Beck police mystery series by writing 'partners' Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo. It is called Cop Killer which is not a good title, in my opinion, because that crime is a late-developing one and is misleading. Instead a different crime occupies Martin Beck, chief of the National Homicide Squad of the Swedish police, through most of this story set in November 1973.


First, I must acknowledge that the characters of this series about the Stockholm police have grown on me. I feel that I now know all of them very well, and for the most part like them, although they are ordinary, flawed human beings. The flaws, however, were intentionally created by Sjowall/Wahloo. Intentional too are the commentary and criticisms of Swedish society, interwoven by the authors into the ten parts of what could be called a magnum opus of about 3,000 pages with the embracing title "The Story of a Crime". Sjowall and Wahloo mapped out who and what they wanted to portray and depict in Sweden starting in 1964/1965 and ending ten years later. Sadly, Wahloo died in 1975 before the final book was completed, but Sjowall knew the story and her husband's style so intimately that she was able to bring the series to a conclusion in The Terrorists.


I am procrastinating in starting the final book, because I have the feeling I will be bereft when it's over.


I am glad, though, that I stuck with this series. I have discovered many more writers whose work, hopefully, I will find compelling. Each of the Martin Beck books has an introduction by a writer I have heard of but have never read. Some of them are Henning Mankell, Jo Nesbo, Colin Dexter, Jonathan Franzen, and Michael Connelly.


Other well-known writers such as Val McDermid, Nicci French, and Michael Ondaatje wrote blurbs that have been cited. Nearly all of these writers say that Sjowall/Wahloo were major influences on their own storytelling style. I imagine Carolyn and Donna have read some (or all) of these authors, or at least know more about them than I do since I'm not much of a fiction series reader.


One writer whose books sound very intriguing to me is Arnaldur Indridason whose series (I think more than one) are set mostly in Reykjavik. Maybe Netla can inform me about his books.

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vee_new

Have just finished the last book ordered from the library Life Among the Savages: Raising Demons by Shirley Jackson who is better known for her 'horror' stories.

The chapters first appeared as articles in US magazines back in the '50's so are rather repetitive and deal with her early married life moving from NYC to rural Vermont where her husband got a job at Bennington College. SJ is polite about the locals, regards her husband as the typical helpless-about-the-house male and gives the rest of the book over to her four children and their many foibles . . .some of which become rather tedious, so much so I felt they could all have done with a good slap and an early bedtime.

As I have never read anything else by Jackson I looked her up and found in 'real life' her husband, who earned much less than she did, was controlling and had numerous affairs with his women students. This caused much distress to SJ who 'let herself go' compensating by over-eating, drinking, smoking and a reliance on prescription drugs possibly leading to her sudden death in her '40's.

Is anyone here (Frieda/Skibby?) familiar with her other work?

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merryworld

When I was in school we read The Lottery. It was brilliant, though now might seem cliche as her idea has been used many times for tv and movies. I'm not a horror fan so haven't read any of her other works.


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Carolyn Newlen

I remember seeing The Haunting of Hill House on TV and maybe read We Have Always Lived in the Castle, but I'm not a fan of horror either and don't remember the plots. Probably blocked them out!

Frieda, I am in the process of reading Michael Connelly's books and like them a lot. I read a little Colin Dexter, Nicci French, and Val McDermid, liking some of their work but not all. I seem to remember that Dexter tried to be funny, which I dislike in mysteries, and I have become tired of Scandinavian angst. With your enthusiasm for Sjowall/Wahloo, though, I may try a couple of them.

I have just received the new Ruth Galloway e-book, The Lantern Men, from the library and will start it later today.

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friedag

Vee, I remember the titles of the Shirley Jackson horror books Carolyn mentioned and the short story Merryworld read in school because it was a set text in my junior high school, too. I don't recall liking any of them.

I remember Life Among the Savages: Raising Demons only somewhat better. There was one part that really stuck in my mind: it's about when Shirley was dealing with an estate agent and a potential buyer for the house she was selling. The customer was criticizing the sheer number of bookcases and books in the Jackson home, saying something like this:

"The rooms would be spacious without all the books."

Shirley thought: "Without the beds [or other furniture] the rooms would be spacious." (I thought, "Room for more books!")

Of course I'm probably not delivering Jackson's words accurately. Did that part make an impression on your mind?

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friedag

Carolyn, if you are tired of Scandinavian angst, I won't recommend the Martin Beck books for you. Sjowall/Wahloo are said to have originated the 'Nordic Noir' subgenre.

I am surprised that I like their version of noir because I disliked Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and did not read the follow-ups. It was too much of a female revenge-on-men fantasy.

IMO, the preoccupation with female sexuality in Scandinavian novels is (or was) authentic to a certain degree. (I remember that from my own experience of living in Europe in the seventies.) Swedish women, particularly, were said to be oversexed -- many were nymphomaniacs. I was always skeptical of that claim. I suspected it was the wishful thinking of some men instead. Some Swedish men, however, developed performance anxiety over the reputation of Swedish women. I think Sjowall/Wahloo brought it up too often.

So, as you can tell, my enthusiasm is tempered. :-)

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skibby (zone 4 Vermont)

No help here Vee. Never read any of Jackson's books. Not even The Haunting of Hill House (yet).

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kathy_t

I'm currently doing a reread of A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles to prepare myself for September discussions and activities that are always part of our town's One Read program. Not sure how the program will differ this year, but I'm expecting a lot of events to be held on Zoom. I'm not a fan of Zoom, but it does provide a way for the people of 2020 to meet ... sigh.

I'm enjoying Amor Towles's writing style again - perhaps paying better attention to it this time around. Here's a favorite sentence from page 98 that makes me want to try a bowl of Latvian stew from the Piazza Restaurant in the lobby of the Metropol Hotel in Moscow: The onions thoroughly caramelized, the pork slowly braised, the apricots briefly stewed, the three ingredients came together in a sweet and smoky medley that simultaneously suggested the comfort of a snowed-in tavern and the jangle of a Gypsy tambourine.

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Carolyn Newlen

I have just found the most delightful, to me, sentence in The Lantern Men: "Shona always thinks that everything's related to sex. It comes from teaching English Literature."

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vee_new

Frieda I am unable to find the passage you refer to in SJ's book although I can quite believe the situation. I mentioned here (RP) a while ago that when discussing the need to 'downsize' to my S-in-L she took one look round and said "Well, all these books will need to go for a start."

Although I felt Jackson over-played her hand with the constant referral to the cute/clever remarks made by her somewhat infuriating children I enjoyed the piece about her oldest son starting kindergarten and reporting back each day about the bad behaviour of a boy called Charles who used 'bad' words, became 'fresh' with the teacher, threw toys about the room and had his mouth washed out with soap* . . .it turned out there was no boy of that name in the class and all the evidence pointed to her own son Laurence.

* A warning to modern-day teachers NOT to try this as a court case will undoubtedly be brought against you.

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kathy_t

Vee - I like that story about there being no boy called Charles.

All - Looking back at the sentence I quoted from A Gentleman in Moscow, I decided to google a recipe for Latvian Stew. I found this delightful little article and the recipe that Amor Towles uses.

Latvian Stew recipe from Amor Towles

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Carolyn Newlen

Kathy, I have copied the recipe to try next winter. Thanks.

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yoyobon_gw

A Dangerous Collaboration by Deanna Raybourn, the 4th of the Veronica Speedwell mysteries. Love this series.

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vee_new

Kathy, the Latvian Stew looks interesting and 'different' in that it is first cooked uncovered for 45 mins . . . rather than in an oven with a lid on. I have always found cooking on top of a stove (we use gas) causes stuff to 'do' rather too quickly as simmering is difficult to control. The combination of pork, prunes etc must give a lovely flavour.

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yoyobon_gw

It sounds a bit German.......fruit and pork. I would do it all in the oven covered because you'd gain nothing by cooking it on the stove first . The oven keeps it at an even temp, especially with cover.

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kathy_t

That makes sense to me, Bon.

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sheri_z6

I just finished all three Counterfeit Lady books by Victoria Thompson, City of Lies, City of Secrets, and City of Scoundrels. All very enjoyable, thank you Carolyn! The main character, Elizabeth, is a grifter, and is a grown-up version of what Maeve from The Gaslight Mystery series might have been had she not gone into private investigating. These books were set in 1917 and 1918 and the historical descriptions of the 1918 'flu were scary and fascinating. There's a fourth book coming out in October, and I've already reserved it at my library.

I also started The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead for my book group meeting on Wednesday. It's an ugly story of American slavery, and the author has a way of tossing graphic violence into a paragraph like he's simply commenting on the weather, powerfully conveying how ordinary and expected absolute horrors were for enslaved people. I'm only a quarter of the way in and I'm hoping to finish it before our meeting. I still have very limited bandwidth for disturbing and upsetting reading, so we'll see how I do.

My reward after this is the newest Ilona Andrews urban fantasy, Emerald Blaze, which should arrive on Thursday.

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Carolyn Newlen

I finished The Lantern Men and really liked it, as I have all the Ruth Galloway books.

No reading today. I went to see my sister in the country, and she fed me all fresh garden food--corn on the cob, green beans and little new potatoes, beets, cucumbers and onions in vinegar water, sliced tomatoes, squash fried in butter and sugar, meatloaf, and coconut cream pie. Yum!

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kathy_t

Carolyn, I'd like to visit your sister!

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Carolyn Newlen

It would be a good choice, Kathy. She's the best cook in our family.

I am reading another Kelly Greenwood book, Trick or Treat, one of her Corinna Chapman's that makes you hungry reading about the goodies she sells in her bakery.

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vee_new

I've just finished a very enjoyable read The Choir by Joanna Trollope. I don't know why it has taken me so long to find it as it came out in the '80's and it was made into a TV series by the BBC . . . . and shown in the USA. Perhaps some of you saw it?

Joanne Trollope writes well about the English middle class, which for me is a change from the grim and gritty tales of woe, poverty, abuse so many books are filled with these days.

Although the story is fictitious she got most of her settings from our 'local' cathedral and choir school of Gloucester

Gloucester Cathedral

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Carolyn Newlen

What a beautiful cathedral, Vee. Thanks for posting it.


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Carolyn Newlen

I finished the third Max Maxted adventure, The Ends of the Earth, and it was another wild ride. Max's other name is Superman. He has solved his father's murder, meant to look like suicide, at the Paris Peace Conference following WWI, found that he was his father's son but not who he always thought was his mother's, rescued his real mother from the barred room in a Japanese castle in which she has lived for 28 years at the whim of a really bad husband, and flown off with her into the wild blue yonder in an old seaplane.

Now I'm reading Ghost Ups Her Game by Carolyn Hart which is about what I needed after the last one.

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vee_new

Just borrowed from a friend, Hilary Mantel's The Mirror and the Light so I may well be away from RP for about a month. It will also help to build my upper-arm strength.

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astrokath

We have just finished listening to Conclave by Robert Harris, detailing the election of a new pope. I enjoyed it very much, with an interesting twist at the end.

My own listen is The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, which is a retelling of the Arthurian legend through the eyes of the women. I read it not long after it came out in 1982, and liked it. Now, however, it seems very very loooonnng. I'm pretty sure I could take out about a third without affecting the story in any way.

I am currently reading Apeirogon by Cormac McCarthy, which has been long-listed for the Booker. It's the story of an Israeli and a Palestinian, drawn together in a peace movement after the deaths of their daughters, by a suicide bomber and a border guard respectively. It's very interesting, but written in a strange way. The paragraphs are numbered, and some of them are just facts about the area, or stories from the past, so I'm not really convinced it meets the criterion of 'novel'.

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annpanagain

Vee, I still have not read the whole book. It didn't grip me like the first two.

I just read the final chapters to see how Mantel dealt with the ending.

I am also having a problem with finishing my current cosy "Careless Whiskers" by Miranda James. My D agreed that the series is getting repetitive.

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merryworld

Astrokath, I have never read a Cormac McCarthy book that I've enjoyed. That one sounds a bit different than his usual fare but, I bet it doesn't have a happy ending.

I was about to pick up where I left off in my Hungarian bank robber book when the library informed me that another ebook I had reserved months ago was available, The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. It's an entertaining fantasy novel.

My book club has chosen Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts for next month's discussion.

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vee_new

I forgot to mention above that I have been listening to via the BBC a dramatisation of The Alice B Toklas Cook Book I suppose I should know more than I do about Gertrude Stein and Alice B T. Perhaps there is a readable biography of them somewhere out there?

The recipes are so complicated; everything seems to be drowning in cream and butter. I wonder that both ladies and their famous literary guests didn't die of heart attacks . . .or maybe they did?

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Carolyn Newlen

I have started reading the new James Lee Burke book, A Private Cathedral. As always, the writing is superb, but the criminality is very bad.

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astrokath

I need to apologise, and especially to Merry - the book I am reading is by Colum McCann, not Cormac McCarthy. But you can see how I made that mistake :)

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merryworld

Ah, no wonder it's not a bleak, apocalyptic, everyone and everything is awful book. I thought maybe since we seem to be heading into an apocalypse Cormac had decided to go down another road, so to speak.


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msmeow

I'm reading The Law of Similars by Chris Bohjalian. It's about the consequences of people in a small town in Vermont using the services of the local homeopath. I'm about 1/4 of the way through, and I have to say it's too heavy on foreshadowing and too light on actually telling the story. But I have liked his other books so I'll keep with it. I was past halfway before The Light in the Ruins really interested me. :)

Donna

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Carolyn Newlen

I'm glad to report that Dave Robichaux and Clete have survived another saga of murder and mayhem, all couched in lyrical writing.

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yoyobon_gw

A Murderous Relation by Deanna Raybourn ( 5th of Veronica Speedwell series)


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annpanagain

Cute! Chocolate and just a million would be fine. I keep buying the lottery tickets and hoping!

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