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sheri_z6

February 2023 - What Are You Reading?

sheri_z6
last year

I have finally finished Counting One's Blessings: The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother edited by William Shawcross. I wandered into this book after reading the biography Do Let's Have Another Drink, and it is a doorstop of a book, 621 pages plus index, family trees, footnotes, etc. Frankly, I was surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did and actually finished it. She was a prodigious letter writer and had a habit of calling things "delicious" and "angelic" which I found charming.


What are you reading in this shortest month?

Comments (72)

  • ginny12
    last year

    I'm an American and no fan of H&M. I won't go on but I think they are both dreadful. When they were engaged, I read Andrew Morton's biog of M as I had never heart of her. It was upbeat and positive but I saw a portrait of an extremely ambitious woman who'd climb over anyone to get what she wanted. Failed relationships everywhere. Even so, the unfolding saga has been a continuing shock. What a pair.

    On to the plague. When the pandemic started, I re-read Daniel Defoe's A Journal of the Plague Year, an adaptation of his uncle's journal in London in 1665 when the plague occurred. Defoe was a child at the time. It was gripping and very accurate. I recommend it highly.

    sheri_z6 thanked ginny12
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  • vee_new
    last year

    laceyvail, re A Parcel of Patterns it's publication date is given as 2022 but Paton Walsh died in 2020, so maybe it is a re-print; it does look interesting.

    Another of hers which I highly recommend is Knowledge of Angels set during the Middle Ages on a Mediterranean island at the time of the Inquisition.


    sheri_z6 thanked vee_new
  • vee_new
    last year

    Annpan, we have also been hearing/reading about the young woman who relived PH of his virginity and although I live in Gloucestershire (where it is claimed the deed was done) I must admit to being unfamiliar with the pub mentioned; let along the field. We have had more than our fair share of unnecessary speculation. And yes the young woman does admit to 'smacking him on the rump'. With hindsight maybe she should have kneed him in the groin.

  • Carolyn Newlen
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Tee Hee, Vee. I'm not a fan of kiss and tell, bare your soul, me, me, me books and won't read this one.

  • annpanagain
    last year

    Vee, I choked on my morning coffee at your comment.

    There is a saying that "an upright prick has no conscience" and there are a lot of pricks about!

    Are there some who want to find that field to "do a Harry" copycat in? Yuk!

  • sheri_z6
    Original Author
    last year

    Vee, I'd be shocked if Harry made an appearance at the Coronation, but who knows? I feel like bridges have been utterly burned at this point. I read Margaret's Goodreads review and thought she had several good points, particularly about William being unable to respond. Harry definitely comes across as very immature, and he was an utter idiot to mention a body count -- where were his editors?!? I wish somebody had provided some serious therapy for him after his mother's death, it might have made a vast difference in his life. I feel for all of them; I would certainly never want to be famous and live in a fishbowl like that.


    I've started Lessons in Chemistry and so far it's very engaging and I can't wait to get back to it.

  • vee_new
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Sheri, I listened to the few final installments of Lessons in Chemistry on the BBC's 'Book at Bedtime' slot. I don't know if it would be worth getting the book from the library to read it from the beginning. Perhaps you could let us know what you think when you have read it.

    I feel PH and MM may well be invited to the Coronation by his father, but it will surely be a lose-lose situation. If they do attend there will be inevitable "We didn't sit in the best seats" "I had to wear drab colours so I didn't stand-out" Someone may have made someone cry. Who is going to pay the plane fare? Westminster Abbey sure could do with a make-over. It's so old.

    IF they are invited but don't attend similar comments to the above may follow.

    IF they are NOT invited . . . lookout for a trumpet-blast/SCUD missile across the USA and Atlantic.

    Which ever way it goes a book and a TV series is bound to follow.

    sheri_z6 thanked vee_new
  • sheri_z6
    Original Author
    last year

    Vee, I agree! No matter what happens, there will be issues. How does the British public in general feel about them attending? I'm guessing there won't be a very warm welcome?

  • vee_new
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Sheri, it is ALL so very sad and unnecessary. When MM first arrived over here, she appeared to be welcomed with open arms. Generally people had no problems with any race issues. A lovely wedding, the sun shone, the crowds waved, but all too soon it turned sour.

    I'm not a big Royalty follower and haven't noticed much info on the Coronation Guest List, but anyone of my fairly ancient generation just roll their eyes when the PH/MM names are mentioned. I really feel none of this would have happened if HMQ and the Duke of Edinburgh had still been here, At the very least he would have been sent to the Naughty Corner and maybe keel-hauled by the D of E.

    As you say some of his remarks (both book/TV) show a very immature man not just with the 'body-count' but the 'body part'; way too many laddish mentions of his todger . .. a word spellcheck doesn't recognise!

    sheri_z6 thanked vee_new
  • sheri_z6
    Original Author
    last year

    I finished Lessons in Chemistry and really enjoyed it. Set in California in the 1950's and early 60's it's the story of Elizabeth Zott, a chemist who knows her self worth and doesn't hide it - which is a recipe for disaster in a male-dominated world and field. While the tone of the book is light, there are darker events (no spoilers). There is also romance, tragedy, logic, rowing, chemistry, kindergartners, and a cooking program. The story is quirky, in a way that I liked. I found the characters charming and the dog is wonderful! I'd recommend it.

  • yoyobon_gw
    last year



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  • annpanagain
    last year

    Yoyobon, that is charming!


    There was a big effort today by current affairs and TV news programs to warn about Romance scams. It is costing duped lonely people not only money but emotional problems. The sad thing is that some know that it is a con but like the attentive participant.


    I am trying to like a Wodehouse homage "Jeeves and the Leap of Faith." but it is ringing hollow to my ears! Trying too hard to get a light tone but not succeeding IMHO!

    Clang!!

    sheri_z6 thanked annpanagain
  • Carolyn Newlen
    last year

    I finished City of Fortune, the new Counterfeit Lady book by Victoria Thompson which was the usual romp, and have barely started The Last Party by Clare Mackintosh, a new author to me. It is set in Scotland and is a murder mystery.


    sheri_z6 thanked Carolyn Newlen
  • donnamira
    last year

    I finished up Monica Furlong's Wise Child today, which was pleasant enough but unimpressive to me. I read it because it was listed as an influential book in fantasy literature in Melissa Albert's The Hazel Wood, along with many others I had read and liked. I figured that if I liked all those other ones, then I should like this one too, but it didn't work for me. Hmm, maybe I'm just finally outgrowing YA literature? Anyway, I moved on immediately to Claire Keegan's Foster, which was very short but memorable, a small jewel of a book.

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  • vee_new
    last year
    last modified: last year

    I have just finished Recipe for Life by Mary Berry well-known UK TV cook and something of a 'National Treasure' over here. For years, after training in domestic science, she appeared on day-time TV magazine type programmes but became really well-known as a judge in the series of Great British Bake Off TV shows (I think you get them in the US) The book is written in a chatty down-to-earth style and it makes a pleasant change to find a cookery celeb who doesn't feel the need to swear, throw tantrums etc but is unfailingly polite and very English. And is still going strong in her late 80's!

    sheri_z6 thanked vee_new
  • annpanagain
    last year

    I do enjoy watching shows like that where everyone is so polite. I love Tipping Point because the contestants even congratulate their opponents when they get a good counter drop!

    I watched the latest Pursuit of Love DVD but it stuck to the original story too much and I got bored with some scenes. One thing I learned, thanks to subtitles, was the correct version of John Peel. I always sang at school "Bellman AND True" instead of "Bellman SO true". I thought that True was another of the hounds. The actors did a fine gallop dance.

    sheri_z6 thanked annpanagain
  • yoyobon_gw
    last year

    Vee.....I really enjoy all of Mary Berry's specials on PBS. She has such a comforting spirit.

    Watching her through the years I assumed she suffered from arthritis and was quite surprised to learn that she had polio as a young child and spent many months in an iron lung. Now when I see her left hand it represents a "badge of courage and triumph" to me.

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  • yoyobon_gw
    last year

    This novel is coming out in early March......looks intriguing :


    1873. At an abandoned château on the outskirts of Paris, a dark séance is about to take place, led by acclaimed spiritualist Vaudeline D’Allaire. Known worldwide for her talent in conjuring the spirits of murder victims to ascertain the identities of the people who killed them, she is highly sought after by widows and investigators alike.

    Lenna Wickes has come to Paris to find answers about her sister’s death, but to do so, she must embrace the unknown and overcome her own logic-driven bias against the occult. When Vaudeline is beckoned to England to solve a high-profile murder, Lenna accompanies her as an understudy. But as the women team up with the powerful men of London’s exclusive Séance Society to solve the mystery, they begin to suspect that they are not merely out to solve a crime, but perhaps entangled in one themselves…

    "An explosive, immersive, time-bomb of a novel. Vengeance is never sweeter than in Sarah Penner’s hands.” —Laurie Lico Albanese, award-winning author of Hester

    Read less



  • yoyobon_gw
    last year

    Another intriguing novel also coming out in early March :


    "A spellbinding story about what may transpire when the natural world collides with a legacy of witchcraft."
    ––Sarah Penner, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Apothecary

    I am a Weyward, and wild inside.

    2019: Under cover of darkness, Kate flees London for ramshackle Weyward Cottage, inherited from a great aunt she barely remembers. With its tumbling ivy and overgrown garden, the cottage is worlds away from the abusive partner who tormented Kate. But she begins to suspect that her great aunt had a secret. One that lurks in the bones of the cottage, hidden ever since the witch-hunts of the 17th century.

    1619: Altha is awaiting trial for the murder of a local farmer who was stampeded to death by his herd. As a girl, Altha’s mother taught her their magic, a kind not rooted in spell casting but in a deep knowledge of the natural world. But unusual women have always been deemed dangerous, and as the evidence for witchcraft is set out against Altha, she knows it will take all of her powers to maintain her freedom.

    1942: As World War II rages, Violet is trapped in her family's grand, crumbling estate. Straitjacketed by societal convention, she longs for the robust education her brother receives––and for her mother, long deceased, who was rumored to have gone mad before her death. The only traces Violet has of her are a locket bearing the initial W and the word weyward scratched into the baseboard of her bedroom.

    Weaving together the stories of three extraordinary women across five centuries, Emilia Hart's Weyward is an enthralling novel of female resilience and the transformative power of the natural world.


    sheri_z6 thanked yoyobon_gw
  • kathy_t
    last year

    Well ... I just finished Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: & Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty. I am glad to be done with it. (A good friend's book club selection, so I pushed myself to get through it.) It's nonfiction, written by a young woman somewhat obsessed with death rituals, whose first job out of high school was in a crematory - a job she sought out, then wrote a book about. There is nothing wrong with the topic, and I did learn some interesting things; but I also learned some things I would have preferred not knowing. A fellow book-club member encouraged me to stick with it, saying the author is "quite sensitive about the people she handles and their families," but I'm here to tell you that's not exactly true. In my opinion, the author enjoys using morbid humor to shock the reader. Needless to say, it will be an interesting book club meeting next week.

    sheri_z6 thanked kathy_t
  • Carolyn Newlen
    last year

    I have read The Island Brief by Pippa McCathie, a Christmas stocking gift. It is a love story/bit of a mystery set in London and Maritius. It was a good read. I am also reading online Perestroika in Paris by Jane Smiley. The main character is a French racehorse who gets loose in Paris and makes friends with a dog and a raven. Quite different!

  • vee_new
    last year
    last modified: last year

    I must be the last person standing to have read Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl after I picked up a copy in a charity shop . . . where most of my books comes from these days.

    I must say I did read it to the last page and once I got into the story, unbelievable as much of it was, it did hold my attention. My main gripe is with the ending. What a cop-out! After hundreds of pages dealing with one very nasty psycho and one weak, self-centered character. both born-again liars, surely some Dreadful Day of Reckoning should have been meted out to them?

    Will any of you fess-up to having read this and tell me what you thought?

    sheri_z6 thanked vee_new
  • yoyobon_gw
    last year

    Kathy.......when someone urges me to " stick with " a book that usually doesn't bode well .

    If I don't feel connected with a story, or feel uncomfortable with it in any way, I won't continue reading it. Too many good books on my TBR pile !

  • msmeow
    last year

    Vee, I confess I read Gone, Girl. All I remember is I didn’t like any of the characters and wondered why it was so popular for a while.

    Donna

  • sheri_z6
    Original Author
    last year

    Vee, I also read Gone Girl and felt exactly as you do. After all that manipulation, I expected either a huge twist or at least an explosive ending. I felt that the author didn't know how to wrap it up and so it just fizzled. Very disappointing, but as you said, a page-turner for sure.

  • Rosefolly
    last year
    last modified: last year

    I just read the loveliest book. It was The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa. Not at all my usual fare, but beautifully written and poignant. I glanced over the author's other books and don't see anything else that appeals to me, but I heartily recommend this one. I'm not exactly sure why I picked it up. Amazon recommendation, perhaps? At lot of those make me snort, but this time they hit the target.

    sheri_z6 thanked Rosefolly
  • donnamira
    last year

    Laceyvail, thanks for your comments on Jill Paton Walsh's A Parcel of Patterns. Because of them I put the book on hold at the library, and read it through when it came available a few days ago. I agree with all your comments! I also wondered at the YA label. I only know JPW through her Lord Peter Wimsey books; this book is much different and definitely strikes true as historical fiction (as you say, no modern people dressed in costumes).


    That makes 2 wins this month: I read Claire Keegan's Foster just before this one, and liked it well enough to pick up a copy of my own after returning it to the library. Very short (a novelette, barely more than a short story), and told sparely in a first-person narrative where little is overtly stated, but much is plain to see.

    sheri_z6 thanked donnamira
  • Rosefolly
    last year

    Going back to the publiation date of the Jill Paton Walsh book A Parcel of Patterns, I found reference to a 1983 edition. Odd that a new publication date has been given to this specific edtion. Usually that means there is something different about it - format, notes, an introduction. But mysterious are the ways of publishers.

    sheri_z6 thanked Rosefolly
  • Carolyn Newlen
    last year

    I have begun the new Deborah Crombie book, A Killing of Innocents. I have read it all afternoon despite having begun a Raymond Chandler e-book last night. After the first couple of pages of AKOI, I was hooked. I just love Crombie and only wish she wrote more frequent books.

    The Chandler book is The Long Goodbye, which you would think I had already read, but I haven't. I like all those old Bogart movies, though.


    sheri_z6 thanked Carolyn Newlen
  • msmeow
    last year

    Several folks here liked Demon Copperhead so I got on the library wait list for it several weeks ago. A copy became available the other day. I read the first chapter and it’s going back. Not for me.

    Donna

    sheri_z6 thanked msmeow
  • kathy_t
    last year

    Donna - I'm on a waiting list for Demon Copperhead also, but I've started hearing comments like yours and I wonder if I should continue to wait for it. What made you decide to stop reading it?

  • msmeow
    last year

    Kathy, I was put off by the style, I think. And the talk of snakes. 😊 The opening sentence is, ”First, I got myself born.”

    Is the whole book about snakes? I guess that would explain the title.

    Donna

  • Rosefolly
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Well, I can only hope I like it! I am going to be reading Demon Copperhead for my book club. Perhaps I'll get the audiobook instead.

  • yoyobon_gw
    last year

    I'll chime in........snakes + books = no bueno !

    Nope.....nope......nope.


    My mother was born and raised in Louisiana on a strawberry farm where they all had to go out early and harvest. Down there they have a whole menu of snakes that are poisonous. Her fear/horror of snakes was neatly passed down to me.

  • kathy_t
    last year

    Whoa - Donna - THANK YOU VERY MUCH for telling me about the snakes! I'm getting off that list as fast as I can. Snakes have long been my biggest phobia in life. I go to great lengths to avoid them. That means I don't want to read about them either. Or see pictures of them. (Why do people want to photograph snakes in their yards so they can post them on Facebook? That kills me! )

    I suppose the title should have raised my antennae, but knowing the book is a retelling of David Copperfield, I overlooked the literal sense of Copperhead. Anyway, I owe you a big one, Donna!

    sheri_z6 thanked kathy_t
  • Carolyn Newlen
    last year

    No, no, no! The book is not about snakes. It does deal with the opiate problems in Appalachia, but it ends well. It's a five-star for me.

    sheri_z6 thanked Carolyn Newlen
  • kathy_t
    last year

    Oh my - wildly varying opinions again. Makes our little forum interesting, doesn't it?

  • vee_new
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Donna, "First I got myself born" refers to the opening page of David Copperfield . . . "To begin my life with the beginning of my life. I record that I was born . . ."

    And snakes are a big No No for me as well!

    Back to the library, unfinished, has gone Angela Thirkell A Writer's Life by Ann Hall.

    The most positive thing about it was the expensive glossy paper and well-presented layout with many prints, copies of portraits etc,

    Not so good for me was the very boring style in which it was written. The author has gone to much trouble using letters, diaries, magazine articles etc about AT but never did I get a feel for the woman/what made her tick.

    I should admit I have never read anything by AT, very popular main-stream writer in the 30 - 40's with her 'Barsetshire' novels.

    She came from a family of Arty/writery types. Her grandfather was the eminent artist and pre-Raphaelite Edward Burne-Jones, cousins Rudyard Kipling, Stanley Baldwin (UK Prime Minister) Godfather J M Barrie . . . so plenty of names to be dropped. And Ann Hall drops them by the cart load. People are mentioned that AT might have met at a party, on the boat to Australia, at Lady So-and-So's daughter's Ball ad nauseam.

    Hall also mixes up the characters from the novels with possible 'real' people so I never knew who was who. In the end I stopped caring. I did realise that Thirkell (from her portraits) was a very attractive woman but as to her character . . . . nothing.

    sheri_z6 thanked vee_new
  • yoyobon_gw
    last year

    Kathy.......and let's not forget the frequent photos posted of snakes coiled up in toilets.

    They swim up the sewer pipes. ( my toes are curled into a fist ! )

  • annpanagain
    last year

    I have never had a snake in the toilet bowl ...yet! However I have had big cockroaches pop up and startle me. My cat used to put half ones next to my bed, proudly saving me the trophy heads.

    I have had one come out of my steam iron when I was heating it up. They pop out of drawers, take rides on a knife I pulled from the block and get taken for a whirl when I spun the kitchen paper roll. It was hiding in the cardboard tube.

    I don't kill insects if I can help it so I knock them out with spray then collect them in a glass jar to take outside.

    sheri_z6 thanked annpanagain
  • msmeow
    last year

    Thank you, Carolyn and Vee. I have no idea of the plot of David Copperfield so didn’t know that’s where the first line came from.

    Anyway, I doubt I will go back to Demon Copperhead. I’m now reading Girl, Forgotten by Karin Slaughter and I’m enjoying it.

    Donna

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  • Carolyn Newlen
    last year

    I'm reading The Body in the Garden by Katherine Schellman. It is set in London during Queen Victoria's reign, and the heroine is an attractive, intelligent, and bored young widow who witnessed a murder during a ball and is determined to solve the crime.



    sheri_z6 thanked Carolyn Newlen
  • Rosefolly
    last year
    last modified: last year

    On this, the last day of the month, I finished Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. I find her to be a powerful writer, and fortunately she came to be recognized before her sudden death in her late 50's. This is the first of two novels from a planned series about a declining America, written about 30 years ago but eerily prescient. I'll probably read the second book in a while. She never finished the others she planned for the series - apparently too depressing! Nonetheless, there is enough hope in this novel that I was able to enjoy it. In turn, I am glad she was able to enjoy the recognition she deserved. She is probably best known for the time travel story Kindred, which I read with my book club a few years ago.

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  • Carolyn Newlen
    last year

    Well, it was a pretty good book until it quit with ~100 pages to go. I've had that happen two or three times with e-books. I'll check with the bricks and mortar library to see if I can get the rest of it somehow.

    Meanwhile, I'm reading Two-Way Murder, a fairly newly discovered book by E.C.R. Lorac and one of the Golden Age mysteries.

    sheri_z6 thanked Carolyn Newlen
  • Rosefolly
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Carolyn, I have never had that happen. How awful! It sounds to me as though only part of the book downloaded. I would contact the vendor. Or the library, if it is a library book.

  • yoyobon_gw
    last year
    last modified: last year

    I've read The Book Charmer and it's sequel A Cup Of Silver Linings and enjoyed them.

    Now I'm on to Lessons In Chemistry .

    sheri_z6 thanked yoyobon_gw
  • Carolyn Newlen
    last year

    Rosefolly, I tried the book one more time before heading off to the library, and after the little circle spun around a couple more times, it loaded the rest of the book. Mysteries abound in the electronic world. I finished it as well as the substitute I had gone to last night.

  • msmeow
    last year

    Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen. I loved this book! From the synopisis: ”…an enchanting tale of lost souls, lonely strangers, secrets that shape us, and how the right flock can guide you home.” I highly recommend it!

    Donna

    sheri_z6 thanked msmeow
  • reader_in_transit
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Thanks, Donna, for your review. I'm hardly reading fiction, but Other Birds sounds interesting. It has 33 holds at the library, so I put in my "For Later" list.

    sheri_z6 thanked reader_in_transit
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