What are you reading the week of November 30, 2019?

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What are you reading the week of November 30, 2019?

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Nov 30, 2019, 7:37am

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving!

I had a busy week so there wasn't a lot of time for reading. I generally celebrate the holiday with a themed all day movie festival, but this year I elected to sleep as much as possible. Either way, I didn't have a lot of time for reading. I'm about halfway through Sumer and the Sumerians by Harriet Crawford which I hope to finish this weekend.

I've been watching a lecture series on The History of the English Language from The Learning Company, and now I really want to read The Canterbury Tales. The lecturer does such a wonderful job of reciting it in the original Middle English that I would love to hear the entire thing as an audio book. But I'll settle for a good annotated edition if anyone knows of one.

Nov 30, 2019, 8:47am

I movied a bit over the Turkey Day holiday as well: I rewatched Indiscreet, a Cary Grant/Ingrid Bergman vehicle, and read the play it was based on, Kind Sir by Norman Krasna. I don't much enjoy reading plays. I wanted to read this one because it gave rise to a film I've always enjoyed, directed by Stanley Donen whose fame as a director has faded. He was part of the semi-mythical Freed Unit, and after Indiscreet in 1958 he directed Charade among other delights.

It was a pleasant Friday-night occupation for after my Young Gentleman Caller went back to the city.

Editado: Nov 30, 2019, 10:37am

Catching up on posting my vacation reading. The first book I read during the 3-weeks in Argentina and Chile that my wife and I recently returned from was Rampart Street by Everett and Olga Webber.

First published in 1948, Rampart Street is part swashbuckler, part romance that takes place in New Orleans from the years just after the Louisiana Purchase, through the War of 1812 and up into the 1830s or so. Woven into the intrigue, murder and passion, however, are lots of interesting historical threads about life in New Orleans during that time, provided in matter-of-fact exposition that lets us see the conditions as the characters would have seen them. For example, we observe the cultural conflicts between the older Creole society and the upstart American newcomers. When the Yellow Fever epidemic hits it is noted that the rise in the mosquito population is a good thing, as mosquitoes are known to help clear the miasma over the swamps that causes the illness.

As we begin our story, the brave and noble merchant captain John Carrick has just fought off an attack in the Gulf of Mexico by a Barbary pirate ship. Carrick is an American is trying to win the hand of the beautiful young Elizabeth, from a Creole family and already betrothed to a rich but (of course) dastardly Creole adventurer. Adventure and intrigue ensues. This book is a lot of fun, if one is in the mood for this sort of thing.

Since getting home, I've been reading through a few rounds of my "between books." Here's yesterday's set:

* "Too Queer: Caitlyn Jenner" from Too Fat Too Slutty Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman by Anne Helen Petersen
* "Clara Driscoll" from American Heroines: The Spirited Women who Shaped Our Country by Kay Bailey Hutchison
* “Stars and Saints” from A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin
* “Freight” from Blues Poems edited by Kevin Young
* The “Talk of the Town” section from the December 2, 1967, issue of The New Yorker

Nov 30, 2019, 12:26pm

I finished Unto Us a Son is Given by Donna Leon. Now I'm reading Quantum Spy by David Ignatius.

Nov 30, 2019, 1:33pm

I finished Regeneration, liking it enough that I've ordered the other two books in the trilogy.

I've just begun The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, which I've wanted to read for years. I'm only about ten pages in, so I haven't formed an opinion yet.

Editado: Dez 1, 2019, 7:00pm

Enjoying these OverDrive audiobooks ~

Merchant's Daughter (Fairy Tale Romance Series, book 3) by Melanie Dickerson
(England, 1352/a 'Beauty and the Beast' tale/YA Christian lit)


Christmas Revelation by Anne Perry
(Dickens-type tale)

Dez 1, 2019, 8:32pm

Fred, have you read Our Marvelous Native Tongue by Robert Claiborne? I read it years ago and it started me on an interest in history via language. Also the large 2 volume edition of the Oxford English Dictionary is great for the history of words.

Dez 1, 2019, 8:52pm

I finished the novel The Music Shop. What a gem. It has a collection of quirky likable characters, an interesting plot, and love affair with all genres of music. The descriptions of the music had me playing the whole playlist that the author has posted on Spotify.

Dez 1, 2019, 8:53pm

I have been reading Antony Melville-Ross's submarine warfare books Trigger and Command. They are good stories and don't take very long to read. I enjoy the characters and I feel that I have learned a lot about WW2, especially life on their subs and their shore leave. I'm going to look for more of them.

Dez 1, 2019, 9:38pm

Finished Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. Liked it but just a smidge less than the other Austen's I've read.

Added Maggody and the Moonbeams by Joan Hess to my reading rotations.

Dez 1, 2019, 10:24pm

Summer At the Little Beach Street Bakery – Jenny Colgan
Digital Audiobook performed by Allison Larkin.

Book two in the Little Beach Street Bakery series

From the book jacket A thriving bakery. A lighthouse to call home. A handsome beekeeper. A pet puffin. These are the things that Polly Waterford can call her own. This is the beautiful life she leads on a tiny island off the southern coast of England.

My reactions
This is an enjoyable chick-lit romance with food. There’s the usual drama one expects from new-adult relationships, life choices, career moves, etc. Wonderful cast of supporting characters! I do love Neil, the puffin – or more appropriately, I love how much Polly loves Neil. And I really like the recipes at the end of the book (and the editorial comments gave me quite a chuckle).

I read book three last year, so I was a little confused at first about some of the relationships until I realized I was reading the series “backwards.” My bad. It’s still and fun, fast, light read. Perfect for a vacation read, or anytime you want something entertaining.

Allison Larkin does a fine job narrating the audiobook. She sets a nice pace, has clear diction, and enough skill as a voice artist to differentiate the many characters.

Dez 2, 2019, 9:21am

I'm almost done with The Bookshop on the Shore also by Jenny Colgan (see message above). It has been a great escape for me and I look forward to reading more by the author.

Dez 2, 2019, 11:56am

The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World
Abigail Tucker
3.5/5 stars
This is the fascinating history and evolution of the rise of cats and their dominance in the animal world. Tucker talks about their popularity as pets and the extremes humans will do to take care of them. Definitely for cat people but others who love animals will also enjoy this book.

Editado: Dez 2, 2019, 6:15pm

I was in the mood for a family saga. Boy did I find one! Reading The Wheel of Fortune by Susan Howatch; it's a doorstop and makes me grateful I'm reading it on Kindle instead of lugging around 5 lbs. of processed trees.

What I'm especially enjoying is how she uses a different character in the family to relate succeeding periods of time. It all begins in the Edwardian era, with the eldest son's story, WW I was taken over by his obsession and wife, now the era of the 20s is being "told" from the younger son's p.o.v., who is nothing alike in character to his brother, the first narrator.

"Tour de force" may be overworked when used to describe the scope of a book. But in this case, no better phrase exists.

Dez 2, 2019, 6:00pm

Done with The Mysterious Affair at Olivetti by Meryle secrest. Not my cup of tea.

Dez 2, 2019, 7:42pm

I spent my day putting up three blog reviews of Lisa Henry space opera novels: Dark Space, Darker Space, and Starlight. All are on their respective books' pages now.

It's a medium-future Earth-at-war series with gay male leads. They prove to be uniquely compatible with the task of making Earth's attackers, the Faceless, acknowledge Humanity's right to exist...in deeply surprising ways. Trigger warnings for non-consensual alien/human sex; in general, the more eww-ick your idea of gay-male sex is, the less likely you are to enjoy the reads.

The world-building is on a par with that done in the 192pp novels of the past, before book-bloat took hold with its good and its bad side effects.

Dez 3, 2019, 7:07am

The Prisoner Of Heaven – Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Audiobook performed by Peter Kenny

Book three in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series.

Just before Christmas 1957 a mysterious stranger appears in Barcelona’s Sempere bookshop. He knows much more than he lets on but it’s clear he poses a threat to Fermin Romero del Torres. Fermin is about to be married and the secrets the stranger threatens to reveal will destroy him. Daniel pledges to help but first he must understand the events of 1940s Barcelona during the Franco regime.

Oh, I love Zafón’s writing! The book is very atmospheric; I can feel the chill of a wintery wind, smell the candlewax and dust, practically taste the delicacies offered at 7 Portes restaurant (a dining establishment I have, in fact, visited in real life), or feel the pain of blows inflicted by a ruthless prison guard.

There are twists and turns and changes in time line that confuse, obfuscate, tease the reader and illuminate the plot. I caught references that helped tie in the first two books, though, in fact, any of them can be read as a stand alone novel, and they do not need to be read in any particular order.

Peter Kenny did a fine job of narrating the audiobook. He had many characters to deal with and managed to give them sufficiently unique voices to differentiate them. HOWEVER, he chose to use British accents for everyone and that drove me nuts. The book is Spanish, the characters are Spanish, NONE of them should have a Cockney accent! Lost a star there.

Dez 3, 2019, 1:47pm

>15 Limelite: What a blast from the past- I read Susan Howatch years ago and enjoyed her.

Dez 3, 2019, 2:01pm

Oh gosh, I forgot about Gaia, Queen of Ants. That review's up as well.

Editado: Dez 3, 2019, 3:35pm

>18 BookConcierge: and >19 JulieLill:

Zafón is my favorite living European novelist. I fell in love with him when I started the "Sempere Quartet." It had been a long time between love affairs with favorite authors. Before him, there was only Dorothy Dunnett.

Sadly, my pursuit of the entire series was interrupted and I haven't found the reading opportunity to get back into the saga again even though I have all the books and yearn to find the time to take it up and subsume into the Master of Atmosphere's fairy tale like world that explores fictionally the human horror of Spain under Franco.


Blast from the past -- LoL! Wheel of Fortune is a masterpiece of novelistic construction. I am in awe of her integration of plot, character and theme that recurs in elegant and graceful transitions from narrator to narrator and scene to scene. The development of order from chaos and linking it to English-ness vs Welsh-ness, and also inauthentic roles vs authentic lives is jaw-droppingly good.

Could you rec what I should read next by her? And what's your fave Howatch?

P.S. Visited your Profile and has a sad -- private.

Dez 3, 2019, 9:42pm

Reading Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix and Still Writing by Dani Shapiro. :)

Still trying to figure my way around this site.

Editado: Dez 4, 2019, 2:15am

I finished up The Island of Sheep, a fun thriller and the fifth and final of John Buchan's "Richard Hannay" series, of which the first book, The Thirty-Nine Steps, is the most famous. I've also read through another set of entries in my "between books" . . .

* “Thinking the Unthinkable about John Lennon” from Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung by Lester Bangs
* Excerpt from Motherwit by Onnie Lee Logan from The Norton Book of Women's Lives edited by Phyllis Rose
* “The War in Asia” from The Secret History of the War, Volume 2 by Waverley Root
* “My Affair with My Landlord” from Laugh with Leacock by Stephen Leacock
* “Justice/Justicia” from It's All In the Frijoles: 100 Famous Latinos Share Real-Life Stories, Time-Tested Dichos, Favorite Folktales, and Inspiring Words of Wisdom by Yolanda Nava
* “Finale (For Bessie Smith)” from Blues Poems edited by Kevin Young – Finished!
* “Passion” by R. Prawer Jhabvala from the December 2, 1967, issue of The New Yorker

As noted above, I finished Blues Poems, a small, very enjoyable collection from the Everyman's Library Pocket Poets series. The first section of the collection is comprised of lyrics from famous old blues songs. The rest of the volume is made up of poems that have been inspired by blues songs and/or by the life and trials from which the Blues arose. Many of the poems here are very moving. My wife brought this book home from her recent cross-country drive with her friend Kathy during which they spent a lot of time in the Deep South.

I've now started Kate Remembered, a memoir about and biography of Katherine Hepburn by noted biographer A. Scott Berg.

Dez 4, 2019, 8:56am

Enjoying this OverDrive audiobook ~

Song of the Lion by Anne Hillerman

(a Navajo nation series/present-day bombing mystery)

Editado: Dez 4, 2019, 1:26pm

Dream City: Race, Power, and the Decline of Washington, DC by Harry S. Jaffe and Tom Sherwood, 2nd ed.
I'm reading a library copy of the book, reissued with a new afterward by the authors, copyright 2014.

Dez 4, 2019, 3:59pm

I finished The Quantum Spy by David Ignatius. Now I'm reading Bittersweet, a 1980 memoir by Susan Strasberg.

Dez 4, 2019, 7:56pm

I started reading The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie to my husband. He's never read one of her books, and he's loving it!

Dez 4, 2019, 9:41pm

Finished His Dark Materials on Tuesday with The Amber Spyglass - so many interesting concepts developed in this trilogy, which came to a satisfying, though bittersweet conclusion. Continuing with Pilgrimage 3 by Dorothy Richardson - about halfway through Revolving Lights - and also started Xenocide by Orson Scott Card.

Dez 5, 2019, 9:14am

Dez 5, 2019, 10:59am

I reviewed Ali Nuri's poetry collection about the immigrant-from-Iraq experience, Rain and Embers.

Dez 5, 2019, 4:11pm

Requiem For A Wren
Nevil Shute
4/5 stars
On return to his parents’ home in Australia after the years following WWII, Alan Duncan finds the family and staff quite upset. Their former maid, Jessie, who was very good with her job had been found dead, possibly by suicide. The family was very fond of her and could not understand why she killed herself; they also can find nothing of her possessions. Alan searches the house and finds hidden in the attic, her suitcase and passport. When Alan sees the name on the passport, he realizes that the maid had used a different name and it was someone he knew personally. But why did she do it? Shute weaves a tale of love and loss and the effects of war on the women and men who served.

There are two titles for this book. The one I listed was the English version but the American version is titled The Breaking Wave.

Dez 6, 2019, 10:08am

I’d Kill For That – Marcia Talley, Gayle Lynds, et al

This is a cooperative / team effort among thirteen women mystery writers, each one writing a different chapter.

I thought the characters were over the top, and there was little character development. I thought there were far too many murders, almost as if each author needed to add a murder in her chapter. I thought the final critical scene where all is revealed was unbelievable, though I won’t outline my reasons here as that would be a major spoiler.

I would have abandoned it but it satisfied a couple of challenges. At least it was a fast read.

Dez 6, 2019, 10:42am

My review of the fun little time-travel to 1954 Paris novel, Vintage 1954, is up.

Dez 6, 2019, 8:06pm

Finished What Have You Done by Matthew Farrell. Enjoyed it even though I did figure out the whos, whats, and hows.

Next up is Fire & Blood by George R. R. Martin.

Dez 7, 2019, 12:18am

The new thread is up over here.

Dez 7, 2019, 12:47am

>8 nhlsecord: No, I hadn't heard of Our Marvelous Native Tongue. I'll at that to my wish list.