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The lion roars while we settle down to read

Posted by rosefolly (My Page) on
Sat, Mar 1, 14 at 23:59

I am reading the latest in the Flavia de Luce series, The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches. So far it is full of surprises. I had expected something quite different from the end of the previous novel. Don't know yet if I am pleased or not.

Rosefolly


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: The lion roars while we settle down to read

I have nearly finished my library book, The Counterfeit Spy by Alex Berenson, it is really good and I still haven't figured out who is behind the events. This is the 7th book in his series about CIA Agent John Wells IMO a great series.

I am reading Deadly Deceit by Mari Hannah on my kindle which is the 3rd book in her British mystery series.

Pat


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Finished Flavia. This was the sixth in the series, originally intended to be the last, but I read somewhere that the author is now planning to write four more. The story takes a turn, not what I was expecting, and it seemed like a lot happened all at once. I'll say no more so as not to spoil it for other fans of this series.

Now I have begun a fantasy novel by a new author, Moth and Spark by Anne Leonard. The title reminds me of Joni Mitchell's album Court and Spark every time I read or say it. So far it is pleasantly readable but at this early point I am not deeply engaged. A few more chapters will tell me if it lives up to its enthusiastic reader reviews.

Folly


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I've started Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan. This is the first of her books that I've read from the library instead of buying it, and wouldn't you know, I'm liking it much more than the last couple.


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Carolyn, do keep us posted on this one. I haven't enjoyed Amy Tan's last few novels and pretty much stopped reading her, despite liking the first two or three very much.

Folly


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I got stuck indoors for this last very hot (100F) weekend, a long one as Monday was a local Public Holiday. I had a P&P fest. Read the book and watched the Colin Firth DVD, swishing around in a long house dress! Pity I have mislaid my fan!


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Annpan.....

Hmmm....Colin Firth would only add to the heat for me !

He is so luscious in movies....it's when he speaks off the cuff in real life that the illusion crumbles.
His appeal for me is that glowering , serious look.
When he actually smiles it's an entirely different creature and not in a good way.


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After a slow February I am now reading The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic - and How it Changed Science, Cities and the Modern World by Steven Johnson. It exemplifies everything I love about good science writing: a good central story, lucid writing, easy to follow explanation of the science (epidemiology in this case) and good scene setting.


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I seem to be in a bit of reading slump. I think I may be protesting the persistence of winter by not doing anything constructive.

But I think I may be still experiencing the afterglow of Doctor Zhivago, which was such a rich reading experience. It even surpassed my expectations for it. I also finished Miriam Toew's memoir of her father's lifelong battle with mental illness and suicide, Swing Low. Toews is a well-known writer of Mennonite heritage, though she often is highly critical of that community. I have known Mennonites most of my adult life, but on the whole, they are a very closed community and not very welcoming of outsiders.Swing Low is a sad, but beautiful book about forgiveness, family, faith, and community. Since finishing the book, I have learned that Toews's sister also took her own life. By a weird coincidence, I recently learned that a distant relative, who lived in New Zealand, committed suicide last year. Her cause of death is likely why no one in the family heard anything about it.

But am looking forward to something a bit more cheerful in March.


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I finished the last part of E M Delafield's collected 'Provincial Lady' books set in 1939 at the outbreak of war.Perhaps less amusing than the earlier works. She moves up to London to offer her unpaid services to any organisation that will take her only to find thousands of other people have the same idea. She lands up working in a canteen serving ambulance crews . .. in an adjoining station to the one my late Mother served in during the 'Phoney War'.
With the benefit of hindsight we know that all the idle gossip about bombing raids on London or how long before the French capitulate would all happen within a very few months of the end of her book.
Another read was Corduroy by Adrian Bell. A young man is sent to 'train' in agriculture by his father a newspaper editor who doesn't believe in young men lolling about at university.
The book, written in quite lyrical prose, traces his first year on a Suffolk farm, where he finds he knows nothing about the rural life, has difficulty in understanding what is being said to him, and realises that yokels have much to teach him about 'country ways'. He went on to buy his own small farm and has written other books on the subject. He is/was the Father of BBC war correspondent Martin Bell who we, in the UK, were familiar with as the reporter in the white suit in the 'thick of it'.


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Vee - I like the sound of Adrian Bell's book - you'll have to let us know if it continues as well...

I've reading another title off my TBR pile - Annie Dunne by Sebastian Barry. Irish author and story set in rural Ireland. Extremely lyrical writing, and I would not be surprised to see if this guy is a poet... It's lovely writing.

And then still reading Volume I of In Fact: The Best of Creative Nonfiction edited by Lee Gutkind. Gutkind is known as the godfather of creative nonfiction, and he runs a scholarly literary journal on this type of writing. There is some excellent writing here, and I am learning lots about how to structure such a narrative. Good stuff.

Oh, and a graphic novel called Zahir's Paradise about the 2009 Iranian elections and the protests that the results elicited. The narrator's brother goes missing during these protests and it's how the family overcome bureaucratic obstacles to try to find where he is or if he still alive. We've just had state elections here in Texas, and it's sickening to me how few people take advantage of their right to vote. (Especially when one contrasts with other countries in the world where people are fighting to have that right. Only 15% of TX election population bothered to get to the polls during early voting.)


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We have compulsory voting in Australia, although one can get an exemption, citing various reasons.
Because a small number of votes were mislaid In the Western Australian Senate poll, during a recount, we all have to do this again next month! The lost votes could have altered the result and changed the position for some Senators who were elected in the first count with very close majorities. Hence the recount.
It is indeed a privilege to have the freedom to vote without fear.


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Just finished The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. Great storytelling with wonderful characters, I couldn't put it down.

Not sure what I'm going to read next, but I have a big pile to choose from.


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I've begun The Particular Sadness of the Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. On her 9th birthday, Rose Edelstein discovers she can taste other people's emotions in the food they prepare. It's okay so far, if you can deal with magic realism.

It takes place in Los Angeles, and there is a lot of sunshine and warm weather, which sounds so nice, given that in just the first 6 days of March we have had 3.80 inches of rain, more than the average for the month (am not complaining, considering than most of you are buried under feet of snow).


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I finished Wild: Lost and Found on the PCT. I've started Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan. This is a reality check!


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I've almost finished J. Maarten Troost's "Lost on Planet China." I've been enjoying this wonderful, candid travelogue. In my opinion, the author's descriptive skills and humor rival those of Paul Theroux and Bill Bryson. I've learnt a lot about China I did not know: parts of it are being gradually swallowed up by the Gobi Desert, for example. I want to find the other books Troost has written, about his life in the South Seas.


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About a fifth of the way into The Making of Middle Earth by Christopher Snyder. The first section was a brief bio and nothing I had not read before. The rest focuses on the books and their sources and influences. Probably not worthwhile to someone who as read extensively on the topic before, but so far I think it is a good overview to those who (like me) have greater ambitions than follow-through.

Rosefolly


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I recently finished The Silent Wife by A.S.A.Harrison and thought it was a waste of my time and I only read it because I promised another reader that I would...never again!

I am currently reading After I'm Gone by Laura Lippman, I usually enjoy her books, but this one isn't really grabbing me, but I keep on reading hoping .....

Pat


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Wood - I'm another reader who also enjoys Troost's work. I read "The Sex Lives of Cannibals" (very fun to read) and have been contemplating whether to read another. I think I will now that you're reporting a positive experience.... Thanks!


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I finished Amy Tan's The Valley of Amazement and liked it as much as anything else she has written. It begins with a seven-year-old Chinese-American girl who creates some havoc in her American mother's courtesan house for both fun and attention. The book deals with her life after she is mistakenly abandoned in Shanghai when her mother sails home to San Francisco. The usual theme of mother vs. daughter is there but didn't seem to me to be as prevalent as in the first books. I may have forgotten, though; it has been a long time since I read them.


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I have set aside the book on Tolkien. A wealth of my requests have come in at the public library and they are all appealing to be read. I settled on The Ghost Map which Netla liked so much and I am liking it too. I have plunged deep into it already.

Rosefolly


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I finished The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls and it was amazing


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On the 'Acquired Taste' thread below, Frieda made the comment
"I remember what the Mitford girls (Nancy and Jessica) wrote about their father: He had a huge library that he inherited, though he claimed he had never read a single volume in it. But he was smug because of who he was. What a philistine! "
This reminded me that I had picked up, at a church fete, a weighty tome The Mitford Sisters by Mary S Lovell. I initially started looking through it to see if I could find the reference to the 'library' and have found myself reading it in bed.
Frieda, I don't know if you ever check out these 'what I am reading' items . . but although David Mitford (Lord Redesdale) was probably an intellectual philistine I don't feel he should be catagorised as smug. He claimed with true English understatement to once have read 'White Fang' and found it to be so enjoyable he never felt the need to read another book.
SO many books have been written about the various Mitford sisters that one wonders if their stories are not saturating the 'minor aristocratic/in-bred/slightly batty' section of the publishing industry.
Between them they were related to, married to, friends with some of the most influential people of the day . .. the Churchills, the Guinness', Oswald Moseley, Adolf Hitler, the Kennedy's . . . to say nothing of Lord's R's work on the sewage system at the House of Lords.
Six bright and beautiful sisters brought up in the very narrow confines of their aristocratic circle, with the minimum of schooling, little money (by the standards of their 'class') and, mostly bored out of their minds, spending most of their time teasing and being teased, behaving badly and waiting to leave their extended childhoods to marry and suddenly become 'grown-up'.
Nancy, the cruel tormentor and tease and well-known writer, Diana, the most beautiful, married into enormous wealth and became a Fascist, Pam (the normal one) interested in farming and country matters. Unity fixated on Hitler (with whom she had a genuine friendship), Jessica a Communist supporter, who made her later life in the US and Deborah, the only one still living, married to the Duke of Devonshire and so, related to and a friend of JFK.
I don't know if I will ever bother to read all the 500 plus pages as it is too easy to become cross with these females and their endless nicknames (which changed regularly) their Darlings and Too Divines and So frightfully Heavenly nor will it lead me to open a copy of Letters Between Six Sisters which a friend 'lent' me but doesn't want back(!) but parts of it have been interesting.


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I am nearing the end of The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic - and How it Changed Science, Cities and the Modern World which Netla admired. I admire it as much as she did and heartily recommend it. Thank you, Netla!

Also thanks Carolyn, for the review of the latest Amy Tan. You did not rave over it, so I think I will let it pass by, at least for now.

Not so pleased with Jared Diamond's latest effort, The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? I loved his books Collapse and Guns, Germs, and Steel, but I simply cannot get into this one. Frankly it is just dull. It is now off my TPR pile and in a bookcase, but I suspect it will go the next time I do a clearing our for the Friends of the Library book sale donation.

Next up, not sure. There are about a dozen books calling my name from the aforementioned TBR pile. One of them will win.

Folly


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Rosefolly, if you liked the early Tan books, you will like The Valley of Amazement. I didn't rave, true, but I really did like the book. I read a lot of it with dread of what was coming, but I thought it ended well (necessary for me). Don't pass it by forever.


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Wow! Things sure look weird at this site. Must be some tinkering by the power gods.

Vee, I usually do check in on the monthly 'what I'm reading' thread, although I don't post much to it because what I read is of limited interest to most and I know it.

I read that book about the Mitfords by Lovell. The bit about the father's library may have been in it or it could have been in one of the other books I read about the family or in the individual biographies of Nancy, Diana, and Jessica. I got the impression of Lord Redesdale's smugness from one of the writer daughters, the two aforementioned. Jessica especially seemed to harbor some bitterness toward her father and his unwillingness to educate his daughters properly. The 'normal one', Pam, probably didn't care as much, and who knows what pathetic Unity thought even before she turned herself into a vegetable. Deborah seems to have been well-adjusted. Although I find Diana fascinating, I cannot like her, but I don't know if it's because she was so sure of herself with her beauty or it's her ideology that rubs me the wrong way. I don't find Jessica's ideology attractive either, but there's something I find sympathetic about her. Maybe it was the loss of her firstborn daughter because of Jessica's and first hubby's ignorance of measles or the tragic death of her son on his bicycle. Yes, caricatures of aristocrats, including the Mitfords, are too prevalent in publishing, but they brought a lot of it on themselves by airing their eccentricities.

I'm glad to see The Ghost Map is still intriguing readers like Netla and Rosefolly. I read it about six years ago and flogged it a bit at the time.


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  • Posted by veer SW England (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 13, 14 at 5:47

Thanks for the input Frieda. I wonder if the Mitford girls 'translated' into our modern day would have been pop-star groupies, political leaders or on the TV celeb. circuit . . .possibly all three. I think Pam would have remained the same living in the country, attending county shows and mucking out the horses.
After reading the intro to my copy of the Lovell book and also her A Rage to Live about Richard and Isabel Burton, the explorers, I now realise why I got them SO cheap. I paid 30 pence each for the copies, brand new hard-back American editions from the second-hand book tent at the local church fete. The stall-holder was trying to get rid of all his stock to save him having to take everything home again. It appears that until very recently Mary Lovell lived a couple of miles down the road from us and must have given the books to friends . . . I know authors usually receive a number of free copies of their work . .. but they certainly didn't look as though they had been opened. ;-(


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I've just started The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. I agree with Merryworld, it's very good and I'm also having a hard time putting it down.

Next up is Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple for my book group, and I'm really looking forward to it.

Vee and Frieda, your discussion of the Mitford sisters makes me want to pull out The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate for a re-read. I also have a copy of Hons and Rebels somewhere in the house, and have been meaning to read that, too.

This post was edited by sheriz6 on Thu, Mar 13, 14 at 11:04


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Whittington - Alan Armstrong (YA)

This Newbery-Honor winning YA novel was one of the best reads this year -- honestly, and as an adult reader, I loved it. As a younger reader, I think I’d love it even more. It’s narrated (on and off) by a stray cat called Whittington who wanders into the barn of a small farm in New England. (Whittington is also perfectly imperfect as he has a bent and broken ear…)

After a few days, Whittington becomes accepted and close friends with the Lady, the hen who’s in charge, and when he meets the two young human siblings who visit the farm, he flourishes. It is through Whittington’s narration that the reader learns about the long-ago English folk tale of Dick Whittington and his cat…

This is an extremely well written book which frequently (but not overwhelmingly) introduces large vocabulary which would challenge most young readers (“Obsidian” any one?) However, the writing is done in such a way that these more complicated words are just part of the story narrative. It’s very naturally written so that it shows respect for the reader, young or old, without being intimidating to the less confident folk. There is also a strong female lead and an ongoing message about the importance of reading.

In addition to all those positive points, there are also talking birds and animals who have friendships and who have issues just as humans do: how do the hens teach the rats to not hog all the food and not see the birds as food at the same time? What about an unexpected love that happens and then what happens when that love leaves unexpectedly? How do we all stay safe from the ravens? And, as a good extra detail, one of the characters struggles to learn how to read with a learning disorder…

At the same time as introducing these more complex issues, Whittington tells his life story as a reward to the young brother for completing his reading homework during vacation, and in this way, readers are introduced to life in England in the sixteenth century and the history of seafaring exploration. It’s a very smooth way to teach “accidentally” through storytelling.

This was a super read, and I would love any kid to pick this up. It underscores Big Life Lessons such as the importance of being a good friend and doing the right thing, and at the same time, the writing is so well done that readers will learn about topics along the way pretty painlessly. I just really liked how the author seems to respect young readers without talking down to them or over-simplifying things.

This was an excellent read about how reading can change your life, and I highly recommend it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Newbery Honor Award


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Carolyn, thanks. I'll come back to it later. Right now I have an embarrassment of riches. Every book but one that I had on my request list at the library came in all at once, an unusual situation. No need to add anything at the moment.

I have settled down to read Diana Setterfield's latest, Bellman and Black. I'd heard disappointing reports that it was not as good as The Thirteenth Tale, but a friend whose reading taste I respect loved it. I decided to give it a try.

Folly


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  • Posted by veer SW England (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 13, 14 at 13:22

Sheri, I read the books by Nancy and Jessica Mitford many years ago and I'm sure they have stood the test of time. Apparently the 'Father' is not entirely based on their own 'Farv' (as they called him), except that he did have the occasional violent outbust and did refer to Nancy's young men friends as 'sewers'. She deliberately introduced him to the most outrageous queens (am I allowed to say that?) who wore pink suites and doused themselves in scent.
I checked on Amazon uk and notice that the book by Deborah Devonshire Wait for Me comes highly recommended, although someone remarked there was too much 'name dropping'. Difficult to avoid if you are related to everyone of any note!


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Vee, the thing that always stuck with me re: the father in those books was his drawer of paper slips on which he wrote the names of people he hated and the dire fates he envisioned for them (if I'm recalling this correctly -- perhaps it was just the names, it's been at least a decade since I read these) and his phrase "thin end of the wedge." I am definitely going to have to dig them out.


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This afternoon I started Blood Orchids by Toby Neal, a mystery set in Hawaii and mentioned by Frieda. I had to order it via interlibrary loan, and it has taken weeks to get here from a Missouri library. ILL is a great idea, and I'm ordering the next of the Neal books now.


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I just started The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. We're taking a trip to Gettysburg this summer,so it seemed a good time to read a novel about it.


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Artiste8 (who posted way back on Tuesday) - I agree with you about The Glass Castle - amazing indeed.


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I had to put aside The Particular Sweetness of the Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. It began interesting, but in the middle it becomes outright depressing, with the main character (Rose) increasingly isolated with a dysfunctional family and hardly any friends. At present I'm studying for a big exam related to work, I cannot deal with all this postmodern angst right now.


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I finished The Ghost Map and it's a candidate for the best book I have read this year.

I am currently reading another candidate, Slow Boats to China by Gavin Young. It's the best kind of travel book, one about travelling in its purest form: not for the sake of the destination but purely for the journey and the joy of travelling, by an author who was fortunately neither trying to find himself nor to prove something.


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I'm reading "The Year 1000" by Lacey & Danziger. It begins in Anglo-Saxon England, and describes the ordinary lives of the average yeoman during the Viking and Norman invasions. It's filled with well-researched and interesting details.


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I'm well into Saints of the Shadow Bible, a new Rebus book by Ian Rankin. I've missed Rebus and am glad to see him back with us. He couldn't stand retirement and has gone back to work as a lowly DS with Siobhan as his boss, the DI, and they are working with the other Rankin character, Malcolm Fox from the Complaints Department. It's vintage Rankin but it's a hoot, as well.

My daughter and I met him once at a London bookstore where he was signing books. There wasn't a line so he chatted with us several minutes, more than usual when we found out we were from Kentucky since he was doing a personal survey of bourbons.


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I just finished Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which most of you have likely already read. There seems to be a bit of a current revival for this book, particularly amongst younger readers.

I loved it of course, though it was so much more darker than I expected. I assumed it was a very sentimental book, perhaps even a bit precious and twee. But yikes! There is so much sadness and appalling grownup behavior in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Of course, it is a bit sentimental, but Betty Smith never lets the story become maudlin. Some of her experiences recalled stories told by my grandmother, who was born in 1893 into an extremely poor family.

Unfortunately, it made such an impact on me that I am having a hard time picking up another book. I can this the "afterglow". This sensation usually means a book made a really strong impression on me, and I am not quite ready to leave the world created by the author.


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I've been reading a lot of NF recently. So now I'm taking a break and reading "Midwives" by Bojalian, a work of fiction. So far, so good.


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I've been picking up and putting down books lately, having a hard time deciding what I'd like to read next. Luckily, I have lots of choices so it's not like I don't have plenty of variety in the stacks. :-)

I did try to read the new non-fiction about Scientology and Hollywood by Lawrence Wright, but tbh, the writing was so wooden and pedestrian that I had to put it down after struggling through 150 pages or so. I don't recommend this read (although Wright won the Pulitzer Prize for an earlier non-fiction). I don't understand how this writing got him that, but then I haven't read that book ("The Looming Towers" about 9/11). If you're looking for a good investigative journalism book about Scientology (which is so weird as to be interesting), then I suggest the Janet Rietman book which was published a few years back.

For my fiction, I'm reading Marling Hall, one in the long Barsetshire series by Angela Thirkell. You just can't go wrong with one of them when you're in the right mood.

So - casting my eyes around for a non-fiction. It might be the history of Samba schools in Rio de Janiero (sp?) or it could be something different. Have to see what flings itself into my little hands off the shelves tonight...!


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I just finished The Golem and The Jinni by Helene Wecker and it was fabulous. It was original and engrossing and I had a hard time putting it down. I thought it was outstanding, especially considering it was a first novel.

I also flew through the newest Mercy Thompson book by Patricia Briggs, Night Broken. She's a very consistent writer, and I've really enjoyed this series and am looking forward to more.

Vee, I dug out my Nancy Mitford books to revisit and also found an inexpensive second-hand copy of Wait for Me. I'm looking forward to it.


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Sheriz6, I'm so glad you liked it, too. I loved so many of the characters, both major and minor.

I've just finished The Pecan Man by Cassie Dandridge Selleck for book club. It was billed as a The Help and To Kill a Mockingbird hybrid. It kept my interest, but it did not live up to either of those books, and it was a bit formulaic.

Not sure what's next, possibly The Clover House by Henriette Power.


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With the crazy Spring wind that we've been having in our area, I ended up choosing the early Texas classic, The Wind by Dorothy Scarborough. It's a psychological thriller (?) novel about a young woman who comes west to Texas in the late nineteenth century. She is woefully unprepared of what to expect when she comes here, and I think the wind ends up driving her crazy. We'll see.


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Sheri, I have found an inexpensive copy of Wait for Me by Deborah Devonshire; a hardback copy for only a penny(!) plus postage for which I will send off. On further reading of the Mitford Sisters I am finding out how very much involved were Unity (in a obsessive way) and Diana with Hitler/fascism and how hated they became during WW11 by the British public, or that is was Nancy who 'shopped' Diana to the police leading to her imprisonment and Decca (from the US) writing to Cousin Winston, demanding he keep her there . . .


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I am picking bits out of the Georgette Heyer biography by Jennifer Kloester, reading about the books she wrote, first and was pleased to find that she thought of "Penhallow" as her tour de force and even planned a follow up novel about Bart, the twin who marries his mother's maid to the consternation of most of his family. Unfortunately she didn't receive the critical acclaim she longed for so we have more of the Regency novels!
I started "High Spirits" by Alice Duncan, part of a mystery series that was recommended but I couldn't get into it. The main character is forever moaning about how guilty she feels about her behaviour and what a bad wife she is and I gave up on her!


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Following Frieda's suggestion from six years go I am now deep into The Great Influenza: The Story of the Greatest Pandemic in History by John Barry. I am liking it, if anything, even better than The Ghost Map. It has less of a feeling of a novel, but it is even more fascinating.

Rosefolly


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I am reading King's Mountain, the latest Ballad novel by Sharyn McCrumb. It is a really great book, a fictionalized story of the Revolutionary War battle at King's Mountain, North Carolina, by an army of then-frontier mountain men following the leaders of their communities against the Redcoats. Ms. McCrumb incorporates real people into the book, e.g., the main character, John Sevier, first governor of Tennessee; Isaac Shelby, first governor of Kentucky; the brother-in-law of Patrick Henry; Davy Crockett's father; Robert E. Lee's father; and the grandfather of NC's Civil War governor, Zebulon Vance.

There were a thousand men who came from the mountains of North Carolina, South Carolina, north Georgia,southwest Virginia, and the territories that would become Tennessee and Kentucky. They were not soldiers in the Continental Army. They had no uniforms, no food, no horses, and no weapons supplied to them. They never received any pay, and didn't expect it; and after the battle, the army dissolved and its soldiers went home to their farms to defend their families from the Indians.

I think it is her very best book to date. I thought her Elizabeth McPherson books were fun and liked most of the Ballad novels, although some of them are too ghostily unbelievable for me. Before this one, I liked If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-O the most.

As you can tell, I highly recommend this, especially if you have an interest in the Revolutionary War. I have seen the grave of my fourth-great grandfather who fought in the Rev War, but we don't know anything about him except that the cemetery is in a part of KY where land was awarded to soldiers of the War in lieu of pay.


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Thanks, Carolyn. I'd like to read that one myself. Sometimes series decline, so I was hesitating over that one, but now I'll pick it up next time I'm in the library.

Folly


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It seems I'm going on an historical fiction jag. Bring Up the Bodies was finally on the shelf when I visited the library and then I had a B&N coupon, so I bought Bruce Hollsinger's A Burnable Book. I also picked up How the Scots Invented the Modern World(obviously, not fiction, but historical).


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RE: The lion roars while we settle down to read

I've just picked up a brand new library copy of Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant. Set in Renaissance Italy it is the story of the Borgia family. Rodrigo who became Pope Alexander VI and his children. The dangerous Cesare a cardinal at seventeen and the beautiful Lucrezia. I have yet to reach the possible murders/poisoning of lovers and with only a couple of weeks to read it there is no time to lose as a queue is forming . . . the downside of borrowing the 'latest book' from the library.

Here is a link that might be useful: Blood & Beauty NZ TV Discussion


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RE: The lion roars while we settle down to read

I finished Where'd You Go, Bernadette? for my book group and liked it very much. It somehow wasn't what I expected, but it was original and funny and kept me turning pages to find out what crazy thing might happen next. The book group discussion tomorrow night should be interesting.

The newest Nora Roberts, Shadow Spell, is due to arrive tomorrow so that will be next.


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RE: The lion roars while we settle down to read

I've started reading The Gathering by Anne Enright for my next book group discussion. So far, I don't like it one bit.


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RE: The lion roars while we settle down to read

Just picked up "Orange is the New Black" by Piper Kerman, a memoir about a woman's year in women's prison to pay for a crime that she did 10 years ago. (She is very WASPy as a person.) Riveting so far, and as I'm a fan of the TV show (coming in June, I think), this is enjoyable.

And then, working on my TBR pile, I am reading a NF called "Wesley the Owl" by Stacey O'Brien (different O'Brian than Downton! :-) ). It's about a biologist who ends up adopting a baby owl and how both of their lives change... Very sweet so far.

And then, for fiction, I'm reading the rather overwrought prose of Dorothy Scarborough in "The Wind"...


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RE: The lion roars while we settle down to read

I've been trying to delve into unread books on my own shelves, recently. I found two about Russia that I am reading for the first time, although they have sat there for decades: "The Russian Artist" and the prose poems and short stories of Alexander Solshenitzyn.


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I had never read anything by fantasy author Anne Bishop before, so when I saw a newish novel called Written in Red, I picked it up. It was the perfect contrast to the two nonfiction books on epidemics that I had just finished. Those who do not like fantasy would not enjoy this book, but I do and I did. I found the characters interesting and sympathetic. The situation, while using traditional fantasy motifs, used them in an unusual way. Janalyn, you might like this one.

Rosefolly


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My most recent read was the novel A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews. It caused a bit of a sensation when it was published about 10 years ago. The plot concerns a smart and sarcastic teenage girl growing up in a Mennonite prairie town in Western Canada. The girl's mother and older sister have disappeared, but due to the town's repressive atmosphere, no one is allowed to talk about them.

The Mennonite community is rarely depicted in fiction, but Toews is a wonderful writer. Highly recommended!


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Thanks Rosefolly, I will look for that one. I haven't been reading much lately, too busy outside and at the garden nurseries...I'll be back when things all get planted. :)


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I have finished Night Falls on the City by Sarah Gainham after Frieda's mentioning that she writes similarly to Helen MacInnes. I didn't really see the similarity and felt bogged down for awhile by all the group conversations and landscape descriptions--it is a very long book--but it redeemed itself by the end.

The main character is a beautiful actress and her politician husband who embody the enlightened brilliance of pre-war Vienna. But the husband is Jewish, and the Nazis are just across the border. He must be concealed, and she must strike hateful bargains.

The book covers the time period from 1938 to 1945 and ends with the Russians taking over the city. There are two follow-up books, and I have requested the second one from the library.


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Carolyn, I think the writer I thought similar to Helen MacInnes was Evelyn Anthony (The Tamarind Seed and Mission to Malaspiga). E. Anthony also wrote historical novels before switching to contemporary (when published) espionage novels. I also read Sarah Gainham's novels that you mentioned around the same time, and I probably had them confused in my mind because of the Vienna setting of Night Falls on the City -- Vienna being a favorite city in espionage stories, it seems.

Sorry, I misled you! I hadn't thought of Gainham's books in decades and would like to read them again, because I recall liking them. I'm glad the book redeemed itself for you.


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RE: The lion roars while we settle down to read PS

Oh, Carolyn, I meant to mention that I've never read Blood Orchids by Toby Neal, but I got the recommendation from my son's fiancée. The setting of Ms. Neal's first mystery is Hilo (maybe some of the others, too, but I don't know). My son and almost-DIL have lived in Hilo for several years, and I think they approved of how Neal incorporated Hilo as the setting of the mystery. Ms. Neal is from Maui and I've seen her books blurbed on local TV. Did you like Blood Orchids?


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I finally forced myself to finish The Gathering by Anne Enright. I am way out of sync with those who select Man Booker Prize winners. There were so many references to unpleasant sexual experiences. The narrator even shared her speculations about her long-dead grandparents' couplings. Yeah, really.

On a more positive note, I have read the first few pages of A Woman in the Polar Night. Looks like it's going to be extremely interesting. Thank you, timallen, for making me aware of this one.


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I had read and enjoyed The Breach by Patrick Lee a couple of months ago which was the first in a sci-fi trilogy. Upon receiving a refund from the Publisher's lawsuit on my Amazon account I decided that was a good time to buy the other two books in the series. I finished The Ghost Ship yesterday and now am reading the final book - Deep Sky.

Pat


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Hi Kathy, I hope you like A Woman in the Polar Night. It is the best non-fiction book I've read this year.


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Oh, yes, Frieda, I've read Evelyn Anthony and enjoyed her books although not as much as Helen MacInnes.

I liked the Toby Neal book enough to try for the next one, but then I will read anything with a Hawaii setting. My library only has the first book; maybe I'll try for another one through inter-library loan since they didn't have the second. From looking at Amazon, it appears that she sets the series on different islands. Guess that's why there are only six?

I've started the latest Simon Brett, The Strangling on the Stage. They're sort of meh but I keep reading them, sort of like eating popcorn.


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Carolyn, I like that Brett series, Jude is fascinating!
Did I ever mention that I wrote an email to him about resurrecting Charles Paris and asked for a new Mrs. Pargeter? He wrote back and said there is another Paris coming out but probably no more Pargeters.
He lives in Sussex near where I lived and we chatted about that too.


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For anyone interested in new info about old epidemics (such as the Black Mortality (or "Black Death" as it's called right now)), there's new reports out (just out yesterday). Apparently, researchers have the new theory that the bubonic plague wasn't bubonic and wasn't spread by the rat fleas.... (See link for details.)

Interesting that a huge event in the mid-14th century continues to fascinate people...

If you need a booky link, I think Rosefolly is reading about epidemics right now?.. :-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Black Death not spread by fleas (The Guardian)


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RE: The lion roars while we settle down to read

So far, so good, timallen. I'm liking A Woman in the Polar Night very much.


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Liz, interesting article about 'The Plague' pit which was discovered over a year ago.
Another article below from the BBC, it doesn't mention the cause ie fleas versus breathing out germs, but there is a short video and some stuff about the huge Crossrail engineering project which will enable trains to run from West to East . . . and vice versa under London.

Here is a link that might be useful: More Black Death info


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The information about the Black Death is fascinating. Thanks for posting.


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The article (and the two epidemic books I just read) have me wondering if it is time to re-read my favorite novel set in the time of the plague, Connie Willis's Doomsday Book. I have read it several times already, and expect to read it again.

But in the meanwhile I am reading and liking King's Mountain. Thank you, Carolyn! And after that I am considering tackling volume 4 of the Game of Thrones series. I read the first three straight through but when I stumbled on volume 4, I decided to put it aside for a while. Perhaps now it is time to give it another try.

Folly


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RE: The lion roars while we settle down to read

Thanks Lemonhead for the Black Plague link. I am fascinated by this calamity. A few years ago I read John Kelly's The Great Mortality and simply could not put it down. I have Norman Cantor's book but have not got around to it. Maybe this month.

There is a book about an outbreak of the plague in San Francisco in the 1890s (I think). Does this books sound familiar to anyone?


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Tim and anyone interested in plagues and pestilences I have a very interesting book The Scourging Angel: The Black Death in the British Isles by Benedict Gummer. This is not a book about what caused the plague but instead concentrates on the spread of the disease. The author must have studied thousands of ancient records from church archives, town and county courts and even lesser manorial roles which have enabled him to track the plague as it made its way through Europe and up the British Isles.
Amazing to think that a country at the height of medieval prosperity could be so devastated within a couple of years probably losing almost half the population and changing the economy and way of life for virtually everyone. The author argues that the breakdown of the feudal system, church corruption, 'peasant power' etc would have happened anyway, but that the Black Death probably speeded it up.
Lots of useful maps to help you find your way along the 'plague routes'.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Scourging Angel


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