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skibby_gw

May Reading

I hope I'm not duplicating but I didn't see a May thread yet so here it is. I've had two fails so far, reading-wise. Giver of Stars - Jojo Moyes. I just didn't take to it. So back it went. The other, much more to my disappointment, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand - Helen Simonson. I couldn't engage with this one either. This one I'll chalk up to "right book, wrong time". It sounds like something I'd just love so, another time.

Successes - The Sentinel - Lee Child, Andrew Child. I had trepidations about the duel writing but I loved the book and didn't notice any differences. The other was Have You See Luis Velez - Catherine Ryan Hyde. Sheri recommended this one so thanks very much. A good book full of good guys. Can't beat that.

What's on your reading agenda?

Comments (72)

  • vee_new
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    I waited several months for my library copy of Rose Tremain's Islands of Mercy but found I was really quite disappointed with it.

    Set in the mid 1860's with many different strands going on . . . from the spa town of Bath, to London, Ireland, the Malay peninsular and Borneo in particular. At least the chapters were short but this didn't make up for the disjointed character portrayal. An Irish woman sets up a tea-shop in Bath. A respected Dr's daughter becomes a nurse at the Spa. The Dr's young assistant has 'feelings' for the nurse, which are rebuffed. So far quite straightforward . . .but nurse visits an arty relative in London and within two seconds of meeting a hot-blooded Italian woman becomes a determined lesbian . . . while in Borneo an elderly 'white rajah' has a native boy as his live-in lover who becomes jealous when a plant/insect hunter (brother of the spurned Dr) stays at the 'palace'. Lots of death scenes which I suppose were quite common in Victorian times.

    It doesn't get easier, plus being a bit of an accuracy nerd, I was bothered by the continual mention of beech trees growing in Borneo (I thought they were temperate plants?). Travelling across Ireland by horse and cart; surely they had railways then? And I don't believe the bodies of the starving were seen floating in Dublin's River Liffey as the 1845 famine, horrible as it was, was in the West of the country . . . nor was it caused by the wicked English as Tremaine suggests.

    Of course all the pundits loved this book so perhaps I'm out on a limb, which wont be for the first time.



  • yoyobon_gw
    4 months ago

    Donna, I tried to read Addie but found after a few chapters that I really didn't like the story so I sold it on Amazon ! No time for mediocre books.

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  • Carolyn Newlen
    4 months ago

    I'm reading The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths; it's not a Ruth Galloway but follows her Stranger Diaries. In it, the murderee is a mystery writer with an agent whose coffee table is stacked books that are her TBRs. I found that really funny.

  • sheri_z6
    4 months ago

    msmeow, I read Addie LaRue for my book group and really liked it. As a thought experiment -- how would you survive as an immortal if no one ever remembered you? -- I liked the way the author explored the possibilities.

    Netla, thanks for the review of A Heart of Blood and Ashes. I've really liked that author writing as Meljean Brook, I wasn't sure what she'd be like as Milla Vane. I will give it a try.

  • skibby (zone 4 Vermont)
    Original Author
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    I read How to Make as American Quilt by Whitney Otto. This had all the makings of a classic, as far as I'm concerned. Just loved it. What a wonderful contribution for a debut. I looked at summaries of her other books but none jumped out at me. Any thoughts about this book or author?

    I'm now reading The Troop by Nick Cutter. I thought this was a psychological thriller but at a third of the way in I think it's more horror than thriller. I have a sneaking suspicion that it's about to turn stupid. I'll keep going for a while longer.

  • friedag
    4 months ago

    Skibby, The Troop is just horrible, in my opinion. I didn't finish it so I don't know if it got 'stupid'. I didn't thank the person who recommended it to me.

  • woodnymph2_gw
    4 months ago

    I finished "Becoming Mrs. Lewis" by Patti Callahan: a fictionalized version of how American Joy Davidson met and eventually became the wife of the renowned C.S. Lewis. Afterward, I read (my own copy) "Through the Shadowlands" on the same subject, by Brian Sibley, which I greatly preferred. The Lewis connection with Tolkien and the other writers, known as the Inklings at Oxford is quite interesting to me.

    I re-read a biographical work by Madeline L'Engle: "Two Part Invention: A Portrait of a Marriage" which I liked very much.

    Also read "Where the Forest Meets the Stars" by Glendy Vanderah -- not sure what category of fiction I would place this one in but it was different and calming.

    Now, I'm finishing up "The Paris Secret" by Lily Graham. It's the story of a family mystery during the German occupation of France in WW II. Fiction, but well researched and I am sure could be true of many who survived that time. It spans the years from the early 1940's up until 1962. The only issue I have had is that the character from the '40's used slang such as "deal breaker" that I doubt would have been in use that early.

  • Rosefolly
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    Vee, I don't know about Borneo, but there are beech trees in New Zealand that are completely different species from the beech trees in Europe and North America. I would imagine they were called that by homesick settlers because the leaves are similar. An analogous case would be the American robin. It has a red breast like the European robin, but it is actually a kind of sparrow.

  • vee_new
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    Thank you Rosefolly. I know that Tremain had done considerable reading-up on S E Asia and found it surprising that she mentions beech without giving some explanation. I would have had no problem with teak as it was widely grown and chopped down for export (OT my brother has a boat-building firm and was hoping to restore a teak-built river boat but couldn't get an import licence as it is now an endangered species in Malaysia, but could have bought an old 'long house' made with teak felled many years ago. Luckily the plans came to nothing there by saving himself many £$£$K's.

  • kathy_t
    4 months ago

    Earlier this week I finished The Paris Hours by Alex George. I was attracted to it, and yet had some trouble following it. It is the story of a single day in Paris in which we learn about the actions of four individuals who are not acquainted, in rotating chapters. The characters do not know one another but all have sad pasts and current problems to resolve. As expected in this type of novel structure, by evening, they all end up at the same place, where much is revealed to all of them. I had trouble keeping track of the characters and resorted to taking notes as I read. But it was worth it because the author attended our book club meeting. He was very gracious and explained so much about the writing of the book that I came away wanting to reread the book with new eyes, or more informed eyes anyway. I probably will, but not immediately.

  • annpanagain
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    How good to be able to talk to an author like that. I have sometimes wanted to ask one what they meant in a favourite book.

    I am struggling with the language in Mansfield Park, working through the old style manner of describing things. I misread "confidence" thinking it meant being sure when Austen meant confiding in someone! "Genius" is used in a different way too and "resources" seems to mean hobbies or interests. I was amused by Fanny needing a cordial after getting a shock. A good stiff drink did seem like an excellent idea!

    After reading this, I reread Sense and Sensibility and I was pleased to find an old videotape of a BBC production to watch. I still have an old VCR/DVDplayer which is used mainly as a clock these days!

  • Rosefolly
    4 months ago

    Ann, there are at least two, and probably more, annotated versions of Jane Austen's books, explaining the change in language that has occurred in the two centuries since she wrote her novels. I have greatly enjoyed the ones I have. You might check your public library to see if they have them.

  • vee_new
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    After reading Netla's comments here about Josephine Tey I picked up one of her early works A Shilling for Candles. Written the mid-30's the language and attitudes were very dated . . . she keeps describing a US song writer as "a little Jew" and calling a young woman of 17 a 'child' . . . it was a quick read. I did find it difficult to get to grips with so many characters and suppose no-one could see the end coming after so much wading through buckets of red herrings.

    Edited to add: Above annpan mentions how the meaning of words has changed over the years.

    In the movie clip below of the 1937 pre-Hollywood Hitchcock film of "A Shilling for Candles" renamed "Young and Innocent" (and almost totally 'replotted') our hero disagrees with the statements given to the police by a couple of young women, describing them as fantastic . . . the correct use of the word and not the casual way it is used today.


    Young and Innocent

  • annpanagain
    4 months ago

    Rosefolly, thanks for the suggestion. The book I have is a huge paperback I got from a charity shop which has all the novels as well as Lady Susan but no annotations.

    (I do have an annotated Vanity Fair which is very helpful with 19th Century terms.)


    I have been looking up links to interesting discussions and study notes of Mansfield Park.

    I wanted to find out some explanations of things Edmund didn't like about what Mary Crawford talked of. She didn't sound disrespectful of her "honourable"uncle in her words, for example, but may have used a sarcastic tone which would be lost in a printed report.


    I think she was genuinely trying to help him with his sister's situation, offering her influence with Henry to get a marriage outcome. He thought she went red at his reproof but it could have been anger at the way he lectured her. He saw things in his own light!


    Spoiler.

    I do love delving into stories beyond the books! I wondered about how Betty Kane got her earlier sexual experience in The Franchise Affair as mentioned by a character and think she probably seduced Leslie, her foster brother! It would have amused that little horror!

  • Rosefolly
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    I have just finished the long awaited 8th book in the 10-book City Between contemporary urban fantasy series by W. R. Gingell. It is set in the Tasmanian city of Hobart. The series spans a year long story arc. The tension has been building with each volume. This particular novel, my favorite so far, was both eventful and suspenseful, and having finished it I am feeling emotionally wrung out, also wondering how I will make it the penultimate book in the fall. (I have always loved the word "penultimate" and am delighted at any opportunity to use it.) The central character is a spunky 17 year old girl (now 18) who is living secretly in the abandoned house where her parents were murdered some years ago, and then her life gets complicated. I highly recommend it to those who read fantasy and who enjoy strong, quirky characters.

  • sheri_z6
    4 months ago

    I just finished Network Effect by Martha Wells, the 5th book in the Murderbot Diaries (again, thank you for these, Rosefolly) and it was fabulous. Hard sci-fi with great humor and tremendous heart. I'm waiting for the newest one, Fugitive Telemetry, to arrive from the library.

    I'm currently reading the newest Gaslight Mystery by Victoria Thompson, Murder on Wall Street. I think this is book number 24 in the series, and it's fun to revisit the familiar characters.

    My book group will be reading Brit Bennett's The Vanishing Half for our June meeting, so that has been moved up in the TBR pile (which, oddly, doesn't ever seem to decrease in size ... can't imagine why).

  • masgar14
    4 months ago

    Starting re-reading "Amsterdam" by Ian McEwan

    Two old friends – Cline Linley and Vernon Halliday – meet at the funeral of gorgeous, witty Molly Lane. Both men had been Molly’s lovers years before their dazzling success; Clive is Britain’s most eminent modern composer and Vernon is the editor of the respected broadsheet, The Judge. In the weeks that follow, Clive and Vernon’s lives become bound together in ways neither could have imagined. Two dubious moral decisions and a pact made in extremis lead them both to the heart of Amsterdam.

    All I remember from my first reading, about 30 years has gone by,is I liked it a lot. That's why I'm re-reading




  • woodnymph2_gw
    4 months ago

    Masgar, I, too, have a habit of re-reading works by Ian McEwan. He is such a gifted writer, his complex characters and nuanced plots easily draw me in. Have you read his "Saturday"? It is one of my favorites. Also, "The Comfort of Strangers".

  • msmeow
    4 months ago

    I read 21st Birthday by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro. I‘ve enjoyed the series so far, but this one was kind of flat. The police jumped to the conclusion on the murderer and never investigated anyone else, and the whole story seemed rushed and lacking in depth.

    Now I’m nearly done with Mad River by John Sandford. Virgil Flowers is on the trail of two people who are on a killing spree.

    It’s a good thing I’m nearly done, because a copy of The Rose Code became available today and I‘m eager to read it.

    Donna

  • masgar14
    4 months ago

    woodnymph I've got "Saturday" on my TBR for ages, but for some reason , not even me know I keep put off the reading. I found "Comfort for Stranger" terrific, together with "The Cement Garden" and "Atonement". I found , one of his latest "A Machine Like Me" weak and also far-fetched. I have no interest in reading "The Cockroach", probably because I'm not English

  • yoyobon_gw
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    It All Comes Back To You by Beth Duke


  • msmeow
    4 months ago

    Rosefolly, I like the word "penultimate," too! I'm glad you were able to use it. :) in Addie LaRue the author used "palimpsest" over and over (too many times over, IMO). I don't think I've ever seen it used in a novel before, but this one made up for it!

    Donna

  • woodnymph2_gw
    4 months ago

    Donna, I adore the word "palimpsest", which I first encountered in a mystery by Ruth Rendell years ago. I have deliberately used it in some of my own creative writings. I will have to look into using "penultimate."

  • Carolyn Newlen
    4 months ago

    I'm reading a new Joanne Kilbourn book by Gail Bowen, The Gifted. I'm halfway through it and we haven't even had a murder yet. I like reading the ongoing family life in this series. They are nice people.

  • donnamira
    4 months ago

    I'm slowly reading A Gentleman in Moscow, way behind most of you. So far, it hasn't really caught my interest, but everyone seems to love it, so I am persevering through one more renewal from the library.


    Sheri, I didn't think Fugitive Telemetry was quite as good as the other Murderbot entries, but it's still fun and worth the read, providing more of the setting and background of Preservation and the Corporation Rim. It's basically a murder mystery, with the subtext of Preservation security staff getting to know Murderbot, set chronologically between Exit Strategy and Network Effect. But definitely look for the short story, Home, which is told from Mensah's POV, and takes place shortly after their return to Preservation (and before Fugitive Telemetry).

  • sheri_z6
    4 months ago

    Donnamira, thank you! I will look for the short story. I didn't realize Fugitive Telemetry was out of sequence, but I had noticed that some events were referenced in Network Effect that I didn't recall from the previous books. Interesting! I was expecting the next book to be a new adventure with ART.

    I just finished The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix, which I know was mentioned here at some point. I thoroughly enjoyed it, it was a fun fantasy romp with all the elements I like: adventure, magic, an alternate-history England, a main character who had to grow into her inherited powers, a mystery, and loads of books and book references. And left- and right-handed booksellers, of course (the right-handed ones handle the magic, the left-handed ones handle security and any necessary battles that might crop up from time to time). It also reminded me how much I like Garth Nix (I adored Newt's Emerald) and that I have Sabriel and sequels in the TBR bookcase.

    I've just started Andy Weir's newest, Project Hail Mary. I'm looking forward to seeing what he does with this. I thought The Martian was amazing, but IMO his sophomore effort, Artemis, was just good, not great. It must be incredibly hard to write anything after having a super-popular best-seller. I'm looking forward to getting into this book.

  • yoyobon_gw
    4 months ago

    Donna, you may not like as much as others did. And that is okay !! In my world you are allowed a differing opinion :0)

    Bon

  • msmeow
    4 months ago

    Donamira, I gave up on Gentleman from Moscow on the first try, but decided to try it again, and I ended up really enjoying it. Maybe you just have to be in the right frame of mind for it.

    OTOH, I have a friend who loves Atlas Shrugged. I’ve started it three or four times and still hate it. :)

    Donna

  • Carolyn Newlen
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    This afternoon I started The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish. It is set in the discovery in an old house in Richmond, England, of an old rabbi's writings from the 1650s in 2000 and goes back and forth between the two sets of characters. So far it is intriguing.

  • yoyobon_gw
    4 months ago

    Carolyn, I'll be interested to hear what you think of it . The book has always intrigued me but not enough to crack it open !

  • woodnymph2_gw
    4 months ago

    I just finished "White Mischief" by James Fox. Among unsolved mysteries, this remains unique. An unsolved murder in Kenya, in "Happy Valley" (legendary for its decades of debauchery among English White settlers). In 1941, a murder was committed at the height of the African involvement in WW II. There was a trial and the chief suspect was acquitted. Two journalists, James Fox and the inimitable author Cyril Connally spent decades interviewing many of those involved, and some suspects, in an attempt to ascertain who the murderer was, given that so many had motives and opportunities. This was superb journalism and I was enthralled until the last sentence. It is also an incredible portrait of a long vanished, self indulgent, wealthy expatriate society in the Africa just after the time of Isak Dinesen, et al.

    Years ago, here at RP, I believe Frieda mentioned "Happy Valley" and I became intrigued. I found this gem at our little free library just a few blocks from my home.

  • vee_new
    4 months ago

    Am reading The Talented Mr Varg by Alexander McCall Smith. It is the third in his new series about a Swedish detective from the Sensitive Crimes unit in Malmö. I feel I should have started with the first two books to help 'set the scene' but it is a very gentle read with little happening and has been described as 'Scandi-noir meets A A Milne'. Good at bedtime!



  • vee_new
    4 months ago

    Are any of you finding when writing in the 'Comment' book the script comes up very small and the B (bold) and I (italic) are no longer shaded when activated? Perhaps it is just me and my computer.

  • kathy_t
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    Vee - I am not encountering the problems you describe. All appears normal on my computer. Sorry that's happening to you - so frustrating!

  • kathy_t
    4 months ago

    Yesterday I finished a short, quick read that appealed to my sense of humor - The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick. Written in a series of letters addressed to the actor, Richard Gere, it describes the life of a nearly 40-year-old man whose beloved mother has just died. He has always lived with her and devoted his life to her (i.e., no job) and is at a loss of how to move on in life. A kind Catholic priest helps him try to find his way. A warning, however: One character drops the F-bomb in every sentence he utters. It's done in a humorous way, but if the word offends you, skip this book. That said, I thought it was great.

  • annpanagain
    4 months ago

    Vee, I am having this problem too! The size adjusts when the comment gets to the RP page. I am used to having sudden changes of various things on my laptop and just get on with whatever turns up!

  • msmeow
    4 months ago

    I just finished The Rose Code. I have not read a “can’t-put-it-down” book in a very long time! It’s 500 pages and I read at least 300 today. What a great story! I highly recommend it, especially if you are interested in the WWII era.

    Donna

  • sheri_z6
    4 months ago

    I'm nearly through Andy Weir's Project Hail Mary and it's terrific, I'd say on par with The Martian. I read somewhere that the film rights have already been bought, and I'm not surprised, it does read like a movie script. Definitely a page turner with a great initial premise and some surprising characters.


    Donna, I loved The Rose Code too, one of the best things I've read this year.


    Vee, I'm still laughing over 'Scandi-noir meets A A Milne'. I will have to try this series. I read and enjoyed most of Alexander McCall Smith's Isabel Dalhousie series, but as nothing much ever happened in them, I eventually drifted away. Perhaps I'll try Mr. Varg.


    Two library books arrived yesterday, The Windsor Knot by S.J. Bennet and Good Eggs by Rebecca Hardiman. The newest Nora Roberts, Legacy, will be here later today, and The Vanishing Half is still waiting in the wings (thank goodness it's still two weeks until book group!). An embarrassment of reading riches.

  • yoyobon_gw
    4 months ago

    I really liked The Rose Code too and would recommend it .

  • Carolyn Newlen
    4 months ago

    I finished The Weight of Ink last night. It was a long and dense book with three different story lines that went back and forth between the early 2000s and the mid to late 1600s and set in London. The modern-day characters find a cache of old letters hidden away in a house on the river in Richmond that had been the home of an old Jewish rabbi and scholar and his scribe who was a young woman and only used because her brother was killed. The moderns were a teacher, a woman who had loved a Jewish man she met in Israel in her youth, and an unsettled young Jewish man working on his doctoral thesis. The race is on between them and the university History Department to unravel the secrets of the letters. I liked the book a lot.

  • masgar14
    4 months ago

    Finished "Amsterdam" by Ian McEwan. Good story about friendship, and moral choices, that can be just when you choice them, they seems to be the logical choice following seemingly yours beliefs, but some times you realized they were not, and them can have a bad backlash later

    Now I am about to start “The Boarding House” by one of my favourite authors, he was born in Irish, but it is not the typical Irish writer, as a matter of fact he spent most part of his life in London. I like him, because I am a big Fan of Georges Simenon (only the novels , I don’t like the Maigret stories). They are similar because their stories are shrouded in a kind of hazyness, an there are a lot of little but very important details.

    William Bird has always taken in boarders who are on the fringes of society: the petty conman, the immigrant who's never been able to fit in, the blustering officer who really doesn't know what's what , and the just plain lonely. He's built a unique place with a unique atmosphere. But then he realizes he's dying, and he decides to leave the place to the two tenants likely to cause the greatest amount of trouble, and the whole enterprise goes up in smoke.

  • friedag
    3 months ago

    Vee, I'm having rub-my-eyes and scratch-my-head perplexities frequently here.


    An example: earlier this month I posted on this thread about Kate Summerscale's The Haunting of Alma Fielding (I think it was on the 8th). Right after it you commented about listening to or watching a program about Alma Fielding.


    Both my post and your follow-up are no longer visible on any of my devices (tablet, phone, home PC). I wonder whether you can still see them? As I recall, this exchange was just prior to a follow-up you made to Annpan about Marian Keyes.(or maybe it was just after). That post about M. Keyes is still visible to me. I seem to be missing other posts in other threads that I remember from Sheri and perhaps Rosefolly.


    Perhaps those RPers deleted their own comments, but I didn't delete mine! Have you ever noticed anything similar happening to you?



  • reader_in_transit
    3 months ago

    Frieda,


    Your comment--and all other comments-- are still there. You have to sign in. Then underneath the featured answer, it says "Comments (65)" and immediately below it says "See 15 more comments". When you click there you'll see everything.

  • reader_in_transit
    3 months ago

    Now, that I posted my comment, it will say "Comments (66)".

  • friedag
    3 months ago

    Thank you, reader_in_transit!


    I have been assuming that I am signed in when I see "Hi friedag, what are you working on?" in the banner and a 'comments' box after a posting where I can compose a follow-up. Apparently, that's not always the case, though. That could explain why my comments and any edits I make tend to disappear. I'm not always swift about catching on to the subtleties of using this site -- I don't find it user friendly.


    Apparently, for the longer threads. the older posts are hidden with only the fifty newest ones showing. I have to admit that I never paid much attention to the 'featured' answer at the top because I had already read it, so I sailed right past the place that says'17 (or whatever number) more comments'. That will teach me to pay more attention and not be in such a hurry!.

  • reader_in_transit
    3 months ago


    If you marked where it says "Keep me signed in", which seems to be your case, you most likely don't have to sign in. Usually, I don't keep myself signed it, thus I need to sign in and then click on "See __ more comments" to see all comments. But you are right that some of the site's features are difficult to navigate.


  • vee_new
    3 months ago

    Freida, I'm glad reader was able to help you. I never 'sign in' I just arrive here via our book marks tool bar (DH had to look up the correct name for it) Nor do I see the number of Comments by each reply. I only see the total number number under the original post which I had never noticed before!

    Strangely the first comment under Skibby's original post is from Carolyn written eleven days ago. The next comment is from 24 days ago . . .

    And I'm still having to write this in very small script, though I am able to see the comments from everyone else in 'normal size' print.

    Curiouser and curiouser as Alice once said.

  • Carolyn Newlen
    3 months ago

    This site is weird. I never sign out either, reaching it by bookmark as Vee said. I'm not able to start new posts as they go to Gardenweb on Houzz instead. One of you told me how to do it once, and it worked; but I have once again become unable to begin a new post (and have forgotten what I was told, unfortunately).

    Once recently the Bold button didn't work. Who knows? I'm beginning to believe they don't love us.

  • woodnymph2_gw
    3 months ago

    Carolyn, since the changes here, I have not been able to start a new post, either. It is very frustrating. I find it less and less "user friendly."