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kathy_tt

January 2022 - What are you reading?

kathy_t
last year
last modified: last year

I feel like I threw akilter our monthly "What are you reading?" tradition by posting my "Turning the page on the new year" thread. I didn't actually intend it as a replacement, though it's been used like that a bit. No problem with that, but to set things back on track, I'm starting this "official" monthly thread to return us to our usual path. (Yes, in case you are wondering, I have a bit of OCD about me.)

I have started reading The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles and am enjoying it.

Comments (72)

  • woodnymph2_gw
    last year

    I'm in the beginning phases of "The Perfect Meal: In Search of the Lost Tastes of France" by John Baxter. It is a gastronomic tour of Europe, mostly France. The author is from Australia, married une francaise, well-traveled, and is truly a gourmand. In this tome he researches the origins of certain traditional foods and beverages, giving their histories. He seems to know of many famous authors, whom he quotes at length. It's a quite lively read, but builds my appetite....

  • Carolyn Newlen
    last year

    I'm reading Icy Clutches, another Gideon Oliver book by Aaron Elkins. Gideon is the famous "Skeleton Detective" who can read bones the way we read books.

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  • kathy_t
    Original Author
    last year

    Icy Clutches - That's a great title! I hope the book lives up to its title, Carolyn.

  • annpanagain
    last year

    I have come across a query that puzzled me when an ex-military character says to someone "Arizona is to New Mexico as.."and gets the immediate reply "Donald Duck is to Daffy Duck" which wasn't the expected answer but was satisfactory.

    Does anyone know if this is a well-known recognition code?

    From Tender is the Bite by Spencer Quinn.

  • friedag
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Annpan, I don't know anything about recognition codes, but I have heard the analogy "Arizona is to New Mexico as Donald Duck is to Daffy Duck." In other words, Arizona and New Mexico are side by side, sharing a boundary on a U.S. map, but the citizens of each state get annoyed when outsiders don't know which is which and can't distinguish what is Arizonan and what is New Mexican. They like to rag each other -- sometimes in good humor but often sarcastically -- by saying, "We're not related."

    Donald Duck, created by Disney, and Daffy Duck, created by Looney Tunes, are not related either, despite both being cartoon ducks. Thus the analogy works on that level and could be used as a code for persons who recognize the distinction. I have heard and read similar analogies with different places named.

    Does that fit the context in your book? It's really just a guess on my part, but that's the way I would probably interpret it, coming onto it without warning.

  • yoyobon_gw
    last year

    Just finished The Secret Life Of Violet Grant and REALLY enjoyed it !

    It was one of those rare books that I could not put down .

  • Carolyn Newlen
    last year

    I'm reading Spook Street, a Slough House mystery. Slough House is where failures or people who have had too much in MI5 get sent in the hope they will resign. They're a goofy bunch with problems, but they manage to solve some crimes in some unusual ways. This is Book 4 of the series by Mick Herron. You have to persist awhile before they get good.

  • annpanagain
    last year

    Friedag, thanks for that.

    I am wondering why that code was used. I think it was to let the people who used it in the story identify themselves as former military.

    Perhaps I should write to the author. I have been gratified by replies when I have tried that.

  • annpanagain
    last year

    I got a reply right away from the author! He said the question was to do with an old SAT verbal test and not a code at all! No wonder the reference went over my head.

    The only verbal tests I ever did was for French conversation.

  • friedag
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Wow! One bit of the mystery solved. Annpan, good thinking on your part to go directly to the source. Thanks for doing it. I am impressed by the author's speedy response, as well.

    I didn't know the analogy was used on an SAT test (probably long after I took my SATs), but I can see how the test could have caused it to spread, in a meme-like way. What I learn from sharp-brained but perplexed readers! That's what I like most.

  • annpanagain
    last year

    Friedag, I am hopeless with some quizzes, like "spot the difference" visual ones but I pick up discrepancies in books. They are like splinters sticking out for me! The couple of authors I have written to have been very kind with replies. I thought they might be too busy but perhaps they could welcome a distraction if they are stuck!

  • Rosefolly
    last year

    Annpan, I think sometimes they are just grateful that readers are engaged enough to care. After all, they put a huge amount of effort into writing their books.

  • annpanagain
    last year

    Rosefolly, I once wrote to ask an author if he would write another book in a favourite series of mine. He said he wasn't planning to but did a couple of years later. I was so pleased!

  • Rosefolly
    last year

    As well you should be!

  • annpanagain
    last year

    I am sheltering at home from the 40C/100+F outdoors. My Support Worker drove me to the local library so that I could collect the requested "Agatha Christie's Poirot The Greatest Detective in the World", a couple of quick reads and an audiobook to tide me over the next few scorching days. I notice that the jacket cover has dropped the " 's" of the title. Ooh!

  • vee_new
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Annpan, it is almost impossible to think of temps in the 100's F . . . here it is hovering around freezing but with sun and blue skies; a rare colour in a UK Winter's day!

    I've just finished The Night in Question by Laurie Graham. Ms Graham is a very talented writer and manages to 'get into' the speech patterns of her characters whether English or American idioms/dialects.

    This book is set in the East End of London in the later part of the 19th century as seen through the eyes of a female Music Hall 'artiste'. She performs comic songs and has much to say about her fellow performers and their talking birds, women jugglers, Latvian plate-throwers etc. It wasn't until well into the book that I realised we were in Jack the Ripper territory and LG has done considerable research into the cases as they would have been understood at the time . .. not with benefit of hindsight and as witnessed through the eyes of those 'on the scene'. Wisely she reaches no conclusions as to whodunnit although she brings in a real character, a so-called doctor of Irish-American background in whom the police have an interest as a possible Fenian suspect rather than the mutilator of women of the streets.

  • annpanagain
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Vee, I recall my Grandmother talking about those times but not much around us as we were children and "Little pitchers have big ears!" I think that there was a wariness of men carrying black Gladstone bags. I suppose it was because of the instruments, possibly surgical, that the murderer used.

    I don't know if he was referred to as Jack the Ripper generally or that was a media thing. I expect your author would know.

    Regarding the heat, it will be with us for several days yet.

    At present Covid isn't a problem much as we take precautions but I am waiting on a TV Press Conference in five minutes to find out if our borders are finally opening or not.

    We expect trouble if they do and the medical advice has been to stay closed for a while longer.

    Later...yes we are to stay closed with extended special exemptions. It is a better situation than a Lockdown. A friend is trying to get me a better mask for breathing in for when I go shopping!

  • sheri_z6
    last year

    I just finished Night of a Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn, a 1920s continuation of her Lady Julia mysteries series featuring the next generation of Marches taking to the espionage and adventure business. I always enjoy her books and this was no exception. I discovered I should have read City of Jasmine first, so that book has been ordered. I'm also eagerly awaiting her next Veronica Speedwell, The Impossible Imposter (coming mid-February).


    I also finished a Victorian romance by Mimi Matthews, who always writes a good story, The Sussex Siren. She's an expert on Victorian clothing (see her non-fiction book, A Victorian Lady's Guide to Fashion and Beauty - interesting and quite detailed if a bit dry IMO) which I think adds an additional layer of period accuracy to her books.


    I have another Scotland Street book to pick up from the library today, The Importance of Being Seven. As I've mentioned before, these are the perfect bedtime books with their short chapters and soothing plot lines. I'm also completely invested in Bertie, so I know I will be reading them all eventually.


    It is 32F and sleeting/snowing in Connecticut today. Temps will be dropping as the day goes by, down to 16F if my phone app is accurate. I can only imagine 100 F!


  • yoyobon_gw
    last year

    Foreign Affair by Alison Lurie

  • annpanagain
    last year

    Sheri, it depends on the conditions, if it is humid, it is like going into a sauna! We are fortunate in having an ocean breeze come in the afternoon to stir the hot air around.


    I like to open up all the doors and windows when I get up until it gets to around 28C/ 82F indoors then I use the Air Conditioner, which I put on at Full Fan to start with then drop to Slow Fan at 24C/68F and keep it there all night. I have an open plan one level place so one A/C provides for all the rooms if I leave the inside doors open.

    I got a fright last week when the A/C malfunctioned but the helpful Retirement Village Manageress, when contacted, came by with new batteries for the remote control, which was all it needed. I didn't want a breakdown at present!

  • woodnymph2_gw
    last year

    I've just started "The Huntress" by Kate Quinn, and so far so good. The only thing I object to is the use of certain slang words in the 1940's speech. I find that questionable.


    Here in sunny South Carolina, we are awaiting a major ice storm to arrive tomorrow and last for 2 days.

  • kathy_t
    Original Author
    last year

    Last night I finished reading The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles. I won't say too much because spoiler opportunities abound. I will say, however, it's nothing at all like A Gentleman in Moscow, but if you enjoy crazy adventures, you'll like it ... in a different way than ... well I think Amor Towles will have to abide constant comparisons between his latest two novels for a long time.

  • friedag
    last year

    Kathy, I agree with what you say about the two books by Amor Towles. For me, I wish there was a way to appreciate the attributes of both books without constantly comparing them. Too many readers, I think -- myself included, often -- tend to want 'more of the same'. There is pleasure and comfort in a fulfilled expectation of a certain amount of sameness, after all. IMO, at least Towles is willing to stretch his writing in different directions.

  • kathy_t
    Original Author
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Good point, Frieda. I am starting to think that perhaps most male authors (being sexist here) have a Huckleberry-Finn-like adventure story rattling around their brains, and a financially successful novel allows them to write it down and get it published. The other example I can think of beside Amor Towles is William Kent Krueger. I, and many others, loved his Ordinary Grace which he then followed up with his Huckleberry-Finnish novel, This Tender Land.

    Weather update in Mid-Missouri: We woke up to 4F (-15C) degrees this morning, and at 1 PM we are now at 13F (-10C). Brrrr....

  • vee_new
    last year

    Annpan, I have wondered if the W Australian weather was a shock to your system when you first arrived 'Down Under'. Poms often refer to it and the array of flies and other insects as the most difficult aspects of life after arrival. I suppose I'd feel more at home in Tasmania!

  • annpanagain
    last year

    Vee, I first went to Melbourne which is known as a four seasons in one day place. I was more shocked at the Winter with it's bone-chilling cold winds from the Antarctic than the Summer heat as I had been on a ship for weeks and had got used to warm days.

    My landlady thought I should be used to cold weather but as I came from the South rather than Northern UK, I wasn't really. Sure, we had cold weather but not like that!

    I don't remember flies bothering me as I mostly lived in city areas but learned to stay in at twilight to avoid mosquito bites. The worst bite I ever had that sent me to hospital was from something that crawled up my leg and bit me in the High Wycombe bus station! I don't know what it was but the bite went septic and my leg swelled up. After all the dangers in Oz, I got an insect problem at Home!

  • vee_new
    last year

    Thanks Annpan! Re you insect bite tale (spend as little time as possible in bus stations) reminds me of a Canadian friend back in the '70's who 'did' South America.

    On her return people questioned her as to getting food poisoning etc and she was able to tell them that she only got it in once . . . from dodgy chowder while in Cape Cod on the journey South.

  • annpanagain
    last year

    Sheri,I thought about you when I went to get the washing in. It was on the clothes lines for only a short time before it was dry and I unclipped the plastic pegs very carefully as they were quite hot!

    Another hazard is treading on a basking goanna on the paving under the lines. I asked the gardener who came this morning to blow away the heaps of dead bottle brush flowers as the goannas lie on them and I don't always see them. They mostly stay in the small shady area of wilderness next to my place but come out to sunbathe in the warm weather.


    I am enjoying the book about the Poirot stories and other depictions. It is a dip-in kind of book where you can find bits that would interest you more than others.

    I see that there is a new "Death on the Nile" movie with Kenneth Branagh coming soon. I don't like the dead rat moustache he wears although it fits the Christie description better than that sported by David Suchet.

  • sheri_z6
    last year

    Annpan, it's still quite cold here, and happily, even in the warmer months, there are no carnivorous lizards about. I don't mind lizards per se, but I'm happier knowing they live further south, LOL (we do have salamanders, but they're tiny and I've rarely seen any).


    Despite your being bitten in England, what sprang immediately to mind was Bill Bryson's In A Sunburned Country which included a line that read something like (I'm paraphrasing from memory), "Australia has spiders that make grown men cry."


    I tried to look up the exact phrase (with no luck) and came across this excerpt, which also applies: "(Australia) has more things that will kill you than anywhere else. Of the world's ten most poisonous snakes, all are Australian. Five of its creatures - the funnel web spider, box jellyfish, blue-ringed octopus, paralysis tick, and stonefish - are the most lethal of their type in the world. This is a country where even the fluffiest of caterpillars can lay you out with a toxic nip, where seashells will not just sting you but actually sometimes go for you." Yikes!


    My daughter and her now-fiance spent three months in Melbourne in 2017 and absolutely loved it there. They're getting married soon and wanted to go back for their honeymoon, but with Covid, of course, that's just not happening. However, they are determined to return eventually, and my husband and I want to visit too, spiders or not!

  • yoyobon_gw
    last year

    I didn't care for Kenneth Branagh as Poirot in Murder On The Orient Express. Perhaps it is just a matter of who best fits the image you have of the character. I felt like I constantly knew it was Branagh playing someone else !

  • annpanagain
    last year

    Sheri, I try to avoid all these pests! I am a city person usually but we did live in a rural area once and had a lot of pets. We had to stop the Deerhounds from chasing kangaroos, they can rip a dog open if cornered and the cats sometimes brought in small poisonous snakes to show off what clever hunters they were! We all survived the dangers.

    I am sorry your family can't make it here. Covid has changed everyone's lives. Because I now spend a lot of time at home resting, my sleeping patterns have changed and I have restless nights. It is 5am and I am still awake! I will drop off eventually...

  • Carolyn Newlen
    last year

    I bought the new Elizabeth George book, Something to Hide, today with my Christmas Barnes & Noble gift card. It's another doorstopper, and I have some library ebooks to read first, but I'm looking forward to it.

  • Carolyn Newlen
    last year

    Reading A Line to Kill by Anthony Horowitz, the third of his books featuring former DI Daniel Hawthorne and himself, this time investigating the first murder ever on the island of Alderney.

  • yoyobon_gw
    last year

    Well into Foreign Affair by Alison Lurie (1984) and am really enjoying it !

    What a good writer .

  • Carolyn Newlen
    last year

    Now reading Tell Me a Story by Cassandra King Conroy, the story of her courtship and marriage to Pat Conroy, and it is wonderful. I have several of his books; never did read The Great Santini because I had enough of the family dysfunction in Prince of Tides, but I do like his writing even if the events are hard to read about sometimes. This book, though, is a delight.

  • sheri_z6
    last year

    I just finished two books, Battle Royal by Lucy Parker and Fuzz by Mary Roach. Battle Royal is a contemporary romance set around a Great British Bake-Off-type TV show, and also involves the main characters competing to provide a wedding cake to the (fictionalized) British royal family. She writes enemies-to-lovers plots so well, the dialogue is witty without being over the top, and supporting characters are colorful and occasionally snort-coffee-out-your-nose hilarious. I've read several of her other books and thoroughly enjoyed them all, so her books are an automatic purchase for me when a new one comes out.


    Fuzz is a non-fiction look at animals run amuck among humans and how we handle them. Her tales range from funny to horrifying. From bears breaking into cars and monkeys causing general mayhem, to jaguars and tigers actually hunting people, back to the reason deer stop dead in their tracks as headlights approach, she covers a lot of animals-causing-problems ground. Roach writes her genre really well and I've enjoyed all her other books (Stiff, Spook, Packing for Mars, etc.) but this one just wasn't that interesting. The writing was fine and she's very funny, but the subject matter simply wasn't compelling IMO. Still, it's always nice to have another book by an author I like, so I slogged through it.


    I'm back to AMcS-land now, with book #7, Bertie Plays the Blues.


  • annpanagain
    last year

    I know, I put my recent reading choices in the wrong thread! The Submit box keeps disappearing but I found that it can pop up if I start to write in the Comment box.


    Since I had the cataract operations my eyesight is better but I get sore eyes reading for too long as I still get constant flickering. I was given a CD player some time ago and have now got it out to use with audiobooks from the library. It is smaller than my ancient tape, CD and radio combo and more portable. After playing the recommended and excellent Unknown Ajax by Heyer read by Daniel Philpott, I am listening to rather than reading old favourites.

    This is mainly at meal times and saves juggling page turning with not getting them soiled!

    I like company when I dine, even fictional.

  • vee_new
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Annpan, I don't 'do' tapes/CD's of books but have been listening via the BBC to Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway part of a 'modernist' theme by the Beeb who are celebrating a century since gaining its charter.

    On the reading front I gave myself a Christmas present of Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell and am just settling in to it.

    And my optician said if I had a spare £5000 and had I got cataracts, I could get them done easy-peasy. I am not inclined to have an op that I don't yet need!

  • annpanagain
    last year

    Vee, I rarely listened to books but am starting to do this now I am at home more.


    That fee for a cataract operation is higher than here. Going private cost me around $Aust.3000 per eye but I did get some Government rebates. The second op would have been a lot cheaper done in a Public hospital but the surgery was suddenly cancelled in a Lockdown which forced me to go to a private hospital again. I had some money from a Govt stimulus and didn't hesitate to get the second op done as my vision was poor at this half completed stage.

    I didn't think I needed any eye op but suddenly noticed that I had no vision in my right eye when I got something in the left one and went temporarily blind as I closed it to rub. Quite a shock! I get an annual eye test so this deterioration must have happened in a matter of months.

  • Carolyn Newlen
    last year

    Ann, I commiserate with you on your eyes. I had no problem with cataract surgery but began to develop the "wet" kind of macular degeneration in my right eye. (No treatment yet for the dry kind which my sister has.) I can't remember if I wrote about it here, but my eye doctor sent me to a retina specialist who said "we" had caught it at a good time and began shots IN my eye, one for each of three months and then one every other month. It makes one cringe to think about it, but actually they numb it so that it's not like a prick but rather a dull thud that's over in a couple of seconds and doesn't hurt much. And with my glasses I can see as well as ever. It's very expensive, so thank goodness for Medicare.

    I've just started reading The Vanished Days by Susanna Kearsley, written in 2021 which I was not aware of. I love her books.


  • annpanagain
    last year

    I have just finished a murder mystery written in 1957 where a burned corpse is identified by his cuff links and false teeth plate. How simple life was back then! Everyone in the story smokes too. Pipes and cigars for the men and coloured perfumed cigarettes for the ladies.

    I found it hard to believe that a character disguised by greasepaint could dance a fast hornpipe wildly and not have it running down his face. I recall sweating while onstage in my bygone drama student performances.

  • rouan
    last year

    I just finished re-reading the first two Murderbot books (by Martha Wells) in preparation to reading the third one. Now I am ready to begin Rogue Protocal.

  • Rosefolly
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Finishing up the month by reading Charles de Lint's latest novel. For those who are not familiar with this writer, he was the one who started the urban fantasy subgenre. I liked several of his earlier books, especially Moonheart, The Wild Woods and Memory and Dream. After a while I lost interest. I thought I'd check out his latest to see if my interest had re-ignited, so I bought Juniper Wiles. Unfortunately I'm finding it dull. I do plan to finish it, but then pass it along. It just doesn't engage me. I wish it were otherwise.

    When I am done, I plan to begin The Vanished Days by Susanna Kearsley, which I got for Christmas.

    I am also listening to Sailing to Sarantium by Guy Kavriel Kay. So far I am enjoying it.

  • yoyobon_gw
    last year

    On my TBR pile :


    The Truth About Lorin Jones by Alison Lurie ( 1988)


    Tiny Little Things by Beatriz Williams


    Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind by Ann B. Ross

  • woodnymph2_gw
    12 months ago

    I'm greatly enjoying "When the Stars Go Dark" by Paula McClain. It is quite different from the 2 previous books I've read by this excellent author. It is a psychological who-dun-it with very personal, autobiographical overtones. Once I got into it, I could scarcely put it down.


    I started "The Huntress" but doubt I will finish it. I do have, on my TBR pile "The Rose Code."


    I want to thank Carolyn for mentioning "Tell Me a Story". I will definitely look for this! Pat Conroy is quite popular here in SC for good reason, although I am not really a fan. I have read several of his books and always found them to be derivative of those of his good (late) friend, Ann Rivers Siddons.

  • msmeow
    12 months ago

    Woodnymph, I read The Rose Code and really enjoyed it, so I read The Huntress. I didn’t like it at first but it grew on me about halfway through. I was glad I read all of it.

    I’m reading While Justice Sleeps by Stace Abrams. It involves a Supreme Court case to decide whether to allow a merger between a US biotech company and an Indian genetic research firm. The justice with the swing vote has a rare brain disease and when he falls into a coma we discover he has given one of his clerks legal guardianship and power of attorney for him. It’s pretty good.

    Donna

  • Carolyn Newlen
    12 months ago

    I stayed up really late last night finishing The Vanished Days and am now ready to start The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams. I've forgotten who recommended this.

    Mary, I'm glad you will read the Conroy book. I had not heard of it until recently, but a friend who, before Covid, spent some time every summer on Fripp Island and is a big Pat fan who knew about and had read it.


  • yoyobon_gw
    12 months ago

    Just finished Foreign Affairs and feel like I've just spent 400 +- pages inside the heads of two very self-absorbed characters ! They had polar opposite opinions of themselves and their relationship with the world around them and in that it was an interesting tale.....I guess.

  • woodnymph2_gw
    12 months ago

    Donna, thanks for the encouragement re "The Huntress." I am going to give it another try.


    I stayed up almost all last night engrossed in the final chapters of "When the Stars Go Dark". I could not put it down and found myself re-reading certain parts. It is a bit "dark" as are the mysteries of Susan Hill, but I find the author superb. I had also liked her previous work, "The Paris Wife" which is very different in theme and style.

  • yoyobon_gw
    12 months ago

    Woodnymph....I really enjoyed The Huntress, as I do all her books, especially because it is based on a real person during WWII. Her actions ( no spoilers ) bothered me at first very much but I let the story unfold .


    Bon

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