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January 2023 - What are you reading?

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We shall start the January thread with this comment on the "Best Books Read in 2022" thread. (It's January 3, 2023 and Carolyn has already finished a book!)


Carolyn Newlen our "RP's Most Prolific Reader of 2022" says:

P.S. I'm currently reading An Irish Hostage by Charles Todd. This is the most recently published and may be the last one. I was sorry to learn that the mother of this mother-son combo died last summer, and no one knows if the son will continue. I have liked the Ian series better than the Bess ones (he a damaged WWI soldier returned to his detective job and she a battlefield nurse}. I had hopes the two of them would get together!

Someone needs to start a January reading thread. I am unable to start RP threads; they will only let me to go to Garden Web.

Comments (77)

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    I've just started listening to The Act of Oblivion by Robert Harris via the 'Book at Bedtime' slot on the BBC. It is about the regicides who signed the death warrant and were responsible for the beheading of King Charles I. A couple of them had made their way to New England where they hoped to find safety in the Puritan colony around Boston.

    I think it is time I actually started on some of Harris's work as he is considered an excellent writer.

    Has anyone here read anything by him?

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    I just finished Sweep of the Heart, the latest installment of Ilona Andrews' Innkeeper Chronicles and loved it. This is the penultimate book in a fantasy series about a woman named Dina who is an innkeeper at one of several magical intergalactic "inns" that dot Earth. Earth is considered a neutral zone where creatures from all over the galaxy can meet, pass through, or stop and cause problems. Because she is a new innkeeper and her inn is struggling, she gets stuck with the most difficult and dangerous visitors and must use all her skills and resources to avoid disaster. At the same time, she is searching for her lost parents and brother who vanished with the family's original inn. It's funny and sharp and I've enjoyed all the books so far. They write several different fantasy series, and their latest entry into the Kate Daniels world, Magic Tides, is due to arrive today and I can't wait to get to it.


    I'm also nearly through Bill Griffeth's Strangers No More, a sequel to his memoir A Stranger in My Genes. After taking a DNA test, the author discovered his father was not his father. The first book dealt with his reaction to that news. This short book provides an update, with more information about both his biological and biographical (I like that term) families. It is also padded out with interesting stories from other people who have contacted him after discovering one or both of their parents were not their biological parents. As a genealogist, I find all this fascinating.

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    I've started The Omega Factor by Steve Berry, but so far (10% in) it's failing to grab my interest. I'll give it another chapter or two then move on if I'm still not interested.

    Donna

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    I read Augusta Hawke by G. M. Malliet yesterday. I like his books a lot. This one begins a new series with a character who lives in Old Town, VA, a suburb of Washington, D.C. She is a successful author of mysteries who isn't very self-confident and gets involved in the disappearance of neighbors into whose windows she can see from her own townhouse. The other Malliet series I read was set in a small English village with a young and handsome vicar as the main character.

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    One of my sisters and I were recently discussing criteria for whether to read or not read a book and we both agreed that one of the top criteria is that if there is a pet in the story that the dog (or cat) can not die. So, based on recommendations both from here and another site I visit, I downloaded Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews and what happens in the first pages…? a neighbor’s dog dies, nastily!

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    I wish HOUZZ had a variety of reaction buttons like Facebook does. I would like to acknowledge Rouan's post with something other than a "Like." An "UGH" would be handy.

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    I am never trusting a certain author again as she killed off a dog! If an animal is put into danger even I have to skip until it is rescued!

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    Rouan, my apologies! I didn't remember that was how the first book started. I should have added that this series does have monsters, magical battles, and some violence, and to proceed accordingly. I will also reassure anyone who decides to read this series that Dina's dog, Beast, makes it through all the books just fine.

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    I am really enjoying The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael by Beth Morrey.


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    Spiky and defensive, Missy knows that her loneliness is all her own fault. She deserves no more than this; not after what she's done. But a chance encounter in the park with two very different women and one lovable dog opens the door to something new.

    Another life beckons for Missy, if only she can be brave enough to grasp the opportunity. But seventy-nine is too late for a second chance. Isn't it?

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    I'm reading Courting Dragons by Jeri Westerson. I just loved her previous medieval series featuring Crispin Guest. The main character in this one is the jester at Henry VIII's court at the time Henry is trying to divorce Catherine of Aragon. I wonder if this will be a series of all the wives.

    Well, I just went to Google and found that Will Somers was a real person, court jester not only to Henry but to all his children including Elizabeth I.

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    Sheri, that’s okay; the book was also recommended on another site I visit. I knew Ilona Andrews had a lot of gore etc in her books so I should have checked the blurb more closely. I just thought it sounded like a fun to read story. I may try it again to see if I can get through it without cringing.

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    Carolyn, he is included in a painting of Henry and his family.


    A bit seasonably late but I finally got a library book "Dalziel and Pascoe Hunt the Christmas Killer" by Reginald Hill. It isn't about Christmas anyway. It features a collection of short stories previously published in magazines with an interesting foreword by Val McDermid.

    She reminded me of how much I enjoyed his books and why I needed a dictionary handy!

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    I'm nearly through Under Another Sky: Journeys in Roman Britain by Charlotte Higgins. I love reading about archaeology, the more ancient the better, and this fits the bill. Her writing is lovely, and it has been my bedtime non-fiction book for a few weeks now. I was delighted to find the TV show Digging for Britain as part of our new Acorn subscription, and the first episode we watched dovetailed perfectly with her chapter on Vindolanda, the Roman fort at Hadrian's Wall.

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    I finally got caught up with all my library books and was feeling proud of myself, when BAM! 6 holds came in within a week of each other. I am currently reading White Nights, #2 in Ann Cleeves's Shetland series (I wonder how much teasing Cleeves has gotten about her name; I surely can't be the only one to notice), which I hope to finish today, so that I can drop off at least one when I pick up the next 2 still sitting on the holds shelf. Next up will be West With Giraffes, since that one has a long waiting list and won't be renewable. Someday I may actually get to Mt TBR, which has continued growing......


  • last year

    Donnamira - I may end up feeling very ignorant, but I want to ask, what is there about Ann Cleeves's name to tease her about?

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    Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII's 4th wife. :) Maybe I was more aware of it, having recently seen the musical Six.

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    Well, I AM feeling ignorant, because I should have known that! Thank you, Donnamira.

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    I didn't know there was a new Cleeves book, so thanks donnamira. I'm now No 2 on the library request list.

    And thanks, Annpan, for telling me about the Somers pictures. I found many of them on Google. What a big gap in my knowledge base!

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    Carolyn, this is an old one (only #2, from a few years back). As it is a new series for me, I started with #1, since so many series today follow developments in the recurrent characters' lives, and I didn't want spoilers. Sorry to disappoint!



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    Carolyn, I watch many Tudor docos, even the ones put on by a presenter who irritates me by dressing in period for her shows! I would have loved to have gone to SIX but it isn't advisable for me to mix in a crowd at present while the plague is still around!

    I notice that the Stephen Colbert audience is masked. We get the show here a day late but it is topical.

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    Well at least Anne of Cleves kept her head! Think back to those days when as a female your marriage was arranged for you by your parents or politicians. Poor A of C must have known that a previous wife had lost her head. Perhaps what saved her was that the King found her so plain/ugly they (according to legend) spent their wedding night playing cards . . . hardly a beheading offence . . . even by the King's low standards of what constituted treason (the looks not the cards).

    Sheri, glad you can get the 'Digging for Britain' series on your TV.

    There was a very popular show on a few years ago Time Team which followed a group of archeologists undertaking a 3-day dig in various locations in the British Isles. Of course it couldn't be very detailed in such a short time but I think it introduced the public to the possibilities of the huge number of 'possible' sites dating from prehistoric to remains as recent as WWII ie digging up shot-down planes.

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    Regarding digging up the past, I have been watching some episodes of "Detectorists" which show was recommended on a BBC site. Gently amusing rather than funny and IMHO suffering a bit from being a one-man effort. A few out-of-character moments that a co-writer might have shut down!

    I have yet to borrow the second series and Xmas Special DVDs from the library as they will have to be obtained from other branches. I have long complained about the random purchases of books and DVDs in a series by different branches!

    I have never tried to discover anything from the past but I did find a half a crown coin in the beach sand when I was a child. This would buy ten ice cream cones and probably did!

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    I watched The Detectorists and found it to be a strange mix of characters and plots....for sure !

    I enjoy the youtube episodes of Mudlarking ( on the Thames ). It always interests me to see what people find from the past.

    Years ago I loved to metal-detect on old sites and found many interesting items : old sterling "friendship rings" ( remember those from 1950's ?), many religious medals lost in the end zone of a football field , lots of old silver coins and a whopping Walking Liberty silver dollar !

    In an old local park I once unearthed a tiny ancient Hasmonian dynasty coin which was identified from a rubbing I made and sent to a coin specialist in NYC for identification. Not sure how something like that ended up in a local park !

    My son took up the same interest when he was young and continues to enjoy it when he has time and opportunity even now as an adult. He has found relics from the Civil War , jewelry and all kinds of coins as well.

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    Thanks for the info, Donna. I took the Cleeves book off my request list.

    I'm now reading The Drop, a Harry Bosch book I somehow missed.

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    My husband and I really enjoyed The Detectorists. There was a new one-off episode quite recently that we were happy to find, which led to the Acorn subscription and now our binge-watching Digging for Britain. We would both like to try metal detecting, but have yet to do anything about it. His brother has a metal detector, purchased when he lost his wedding ring in the shallows of a nearby lake. He has yet to locate the ring or find anything of interest, but I'm sure there are better places to go hunting!


    Vee, I will be on the look out for Time Team. Yoybon, Mudlarking sounds good, too.

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    Sheri.....if you try detecting, use the best detector you can. Otherwise it can be frustrating.

    Search places that were used by lots of people : old school yards, football field end zones, old parks, picnic areas, fair grounds........the area should be relatively untouched so that there isn't new soil added. Good luck ! My son found his friend's mother's wedding ring lost in her backyard several years before.

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    Carolyn, I just read The Drop last week!

    Donna

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    Re metal detecting . . . in the US are there strict rules regarding where you can 'hunt' and about when/if you find something to whom does it belong?

    Over here there are many regs. as to who 'owns' what . .. no 'finders keepers' allowed and if valuable stuff is to be sold privately or to a museum is the 'finder' able to keep the money, it is 'treasure trove' or perhaps it belongs to the Crown?



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    Vee......not to my knowledge.

    Then again, we don't find Roman coins and relics like you can in the UK !!

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    Thanks Yoyo. Some years ago we had a family friend who was having a new house built. One day she was wandering around the construction site and noticed something shining in the mud. It turned out to be a very rare coin minted towards the end of the Roman occupation of Britain. It went to auction and the huge sum of money raised paid towards the house-building!

    Several finds by detectorists have added to our knowledge of times-long-gone.

    One such is the 'Staffordshire Hoard' found in a field by an amateur searcher.


    Staffordshire Hoard



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    Someone mentioned The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser so I put in a library request as I like bookshop stories. I started it this weekend and could only manage half. IMHO It is dreadful! The Goodreaders didn't like it either.

    It started well but then I began to dislike the detailed descriptions of everything and then I disliked the male characters, so juvenile . The heroine has a class chip/boulder on her shoulder too.

    You have to like something to feel engaged and I didn't find anything!

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    Yoyobon, considering that the woolly mammoth went extinct about 10,000 years ago, that find sounds exciting to me! Especially a complete skeleton - wow!


    I've moved onto West With Giraffes, hoping to finish it off before the library due date. I'm not sure why I chose this one to read - did someone here recommend it? It had a slow beginning (at least to me, after the excitement of surviving the hurricane), but Woody has now finally connected with the giraffe caretaker and has taken over the driving, so I expect things to pick up a little??


    And of course, 2 MORE on-hold books came in over the weekend. Plus, based on my place in the holds list and the number of copies available, I expect another one (Foster) to show up soon as well.



  • last year

    Donnamira - It can be so difficult to manage holds at the library. It's a little slice of life over which it's hard to gain any control. Drives me nuts!

  • last year

    I read Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus and enjoyed it very much. The main character is a woman in the 50s who, rather than being a 'feminist', just doesn't understand why men treat women as if they are only capable of cooking and cleaning. It has lots of fun characters, including a dog called Six Thirty (who doesn't die!). My DIL said she was hesitant to read it as it is one of those books which attracted a lot of general attention, but she enjoyed it also.

    DH and I are currently listening to Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir, and absolutely loving it! I think this may be one book that is better listened to than read, for reasons I won't go into to avoid a spoiler. I enjoyed the previous one I read of Weir's, The Martian, but this is better.

    We also finished listening to Sarum by Rutherfurd, all 54 hours of it! Like all his books, it has a lot of interesting history told via family groups, but it's hard to keep track of who is who, especially as some families change their names!

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    I'm reading A Death in Chelsea by Lynn Brittney. Set during WWI, a group of friends that include a real police detective band together to solve a crime. It's a hoot.

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    I have been absent from RP since Christmas as I became very ill Christmas night--caught a virus from my grandchildren which became bronchitis and pneumonia. Too sick to even read. I am now recovered and have read a few mysteries, no heavy lifting. I re-read The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers and it was as good as I remembered from many years ago. Her description of that part of England, the Fens, is wonderful if frightening. I do love mysteries that describe a place I'd love to visit, armchair travel.

    I also read Marple, a collection of short stories featuring Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, written by a dozen different writers. I can't recommend it. None even approached Christie and some were just vehicles for the writer's own political or other bias. One of the better stories admits that the writer stole the solution from a Dorothy L. Sayers story. Now that is brazen. The book was a Christmas present so I felt I had to read it.

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    Ginny, sorry to read that you have been ill. I hope you are feeling better now.

    I have Marple on my library request list but I am not surprised by your review. It is so hard to copy a well-known style.

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    It is a Public Holiday today and my usual TV afternoon quiz shows are not on. I started to read "Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village" at 2pm and finished it at 2.15pm! Even after long looks at the illustrations. It was amusing although short.

    Luckily I also had The Detectorists series two DVD on library loan so I had a pleasant day after all.

    It will be noisy this evening with fireworks in the CBD but I can't see them from my current abode, unlike when we had a house by the river and invited family and friends over for the good view. There has been a shift to drone shows these days, better for the environment.

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    Thank you for your kind wishes, Ann! And happy Australia Day! I read that book about how to not get murdered in an English village. Very amusing and so true.

    Has anyone read any books by Bess Streeter Aldrich? Very popular author in the earlier 20c. I read Journey into Christmas, short stories, a few weeks ago and it is charming. I'm going to look for more of her books.

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    I'm reading With a Mind to Kill by Anthony Horowitz, continuing his James Bond books. I miss Ian Fleming.

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    Ginny, glad you are over the illness that laid you low. The English 'Fens' area are no place to be when suffering even in imagination! Miles of rather bleak, flat, watery landscape with a bitter wind off the North Sea.

    I have just enjoyed a very satisfying read Family Album by Penelope Lively. Set around a large very lived-in family house, it follows the six children and the parents who lived there. A distant academic father, a mother who knows 'family' is the be-all of her existence, a rather long-in-the-tooth au pair and, largely from their memories, the looking back of the now grown up and flown-the-nest children.

  • last year

    I read Winter Prey, a Lucas Daveport story by John Sandford, followed by The Black Box, a Harry Bosch story. Just downloaded the next Davenport and also a couple of titles from the NYT list: The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager and Treasure State by CJ Box.

  • last year

    I just started The Book Charmer.....might be a bit too whimsical......

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    I finished West With Giraffes, and although it took a while to get into it, I ended up liking it a lot, I mean, a LOT! :) I'm sure someone here mentioned it, so whoever it was, thank you! The historical setting is rendered so well - Dustbowl, Jim Crow attitudes, pre-interstate highways, train hobo traffic, and more. Then the intertwining of the 3 primary characters, even through the single POV of the first-person narrator, pulls the story together and drags you along. This one will stay with me a long time.


    Now I'm on to Death in Brittany, the first of the series mentioned by some of you in the Best of 2022 thread. Although the comments were for the most recent in the series, I like to start with #1 when checking out a new series. If I can finish it when it's due at the library next week, maybe I can start catching up with my borrowed books again. I've already had to renew Holton's Abigail Adams without even opening the cover yet. Tsk!

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    I am ready to begin London Rules by Mick Herron. I enjoy these Slough House books about misfits in MI6 and where they get sent to twiddle away their days but end up solving cases--but in small doses. I don't want to read them back to back.

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    Thank you, Vee! Tho I'd still love to see the Fens.

    And Donnamira, Death in Brittany and its sequels are definitely best read in order as each book builds on the last, the characters, their lives and stories. I have read and enjoyed them all.

    I see there is a new book in the series coming out in April--The Body by the Sea. Looking forward to that!

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    Right now I am reading Station Eternity by Mur Lafferty. I like it a lot. I read her earlier book Six Wakes when it was a Hugo nominee (it did not win). Both books are rather unique in that they span two genres, science fiction and mystery. It's not that this is never done, but it isn't done very frequently. Long ago Isaac Asimov wrote three novels about a robot detective. I enjoyed then at the time, but I like these better.

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    Well, I think I've given up on The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager. It's supposed to be a psychological thriller. The main character is an actress whose husband drowned in the lake. She's now staying at the lake house to supposedly deal with her alcoholism, and takes up watching the couple in the house across the lake.

    I'm tired of the main character's complete self-absorption and it feels like the story's been done before.

    Donna