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It's the occasional reading thread!

Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


Oct 16, 2:12pm

Post #1 of 9 (314 views)
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It's the occasional reading thread! Can't Post

I hope everyone in the northern hemisphere is enjoying autumn: colorful trees, cooler weather, pumpkins. Lots of pumpkins! We're finally having (relatively) chilly weather here. I'm wearing sweatpants this morning for the first since May.

I finished listening to The Hobbit, read by Andy Serkis. (Do I need to name the author?) Andy does a great job of reading the story, really capturing its feel as a tale of wonder told at a comfortable fireside. I thought more than once, this must be what it was like listening to the village bard reciting some much-loved old story. I will definitely go on to Fellowship, even though I listened to the Rob Inglis version of all three books about a year ago. I wonder if Andy's very vivid narrative style works as well with the less vernacular prose of the trilogy, whether it might be just a bit over-the-top.... Well, I won't know until I try, will I?

I also finished listening to P. D. James's Jane-Austin fanfic, Death Comes to Pemberley. It's a good idea---the main characters of Price and Prejudice are entangled in a murder mystery---but even so distinguished a mystery author as James can't pull it off. As an Austen pastiche it's tedious, and as a James novel it's a disappointment. But there is a cute reference to Emma right at the end.

On paper I read a novel titled The Right Sort of Man by Allison Montclair. Set in London in 1946, it concerns two very different women who meet at a party and together form a matchmaking business, only to have one of their clients murdered. The author spent more time on witty dialog than was necessary, I think, and.... Well, I ended up skimming the latter half of the book. A couple of my friends started it and didn't get past the first two-three chapters, finding the main characters unlikable, but I wouldn't go that far.

I also skim-read A Colourful Death by Carola Dunn, who is also the author of the okay-but-nothing-special Daisy Dalrymple stories set in the twenties. This is one of her contemporary series set in Cornwall. It starts out nicely enough, with the older heroine's artist-nephew accused of killing a local artist found dead in his own studio. But once the plot is set in motion, it grinds along so slowly I didn't have the patience to read every word.

I also read an anthology titled Sword Stone Table: Old Legends, New Voices, edited by Swapna Krishna and Jenn Northington. Its purpose is to bring the universal themes of the classic Arthurian legends into different times and places, using a much greater diversity of characters. On this count the anthology succeeds brilliantly---each author's vision was intriguing, to say the least. And the stories are all well written. But I wasn't always able to get into the author's vision and honestly didn't find any single story particularly compelling.

I started A Galway Epiphany by Ken Bruen, which takens place in contemporary Ireland. Itís not so much that this is a very dark story, with a severely damaged and unsympathetic hero saying f--- in every paragraph, itís written in a jaw-dropping herky-jerky style, each paragraph only one or two sentences, with line breaks between a line of dialog and the dialog tag, and words descending down the page in stairsteps! I suppose I could have followed the story even with the very sparse and mannered writing, but I just didnít want to spend the energy on it, so I gave up.

I did read and enjoy all of The Heron's Cry by Ann Cleeves, author of the Vera and Shetland mysteries. This is the second in her new Matthew Venn series, which takes place on the north coast of Devon. Venn is a quiet, repressed man, still finding his way in the world after rejecting his very strict religious upbringing. It's his quiet intelligence that makes him a good cop, and, to me, a good character, but I do have a friend who finds him "colorless". To each her own, right? I did feel that the end of this installment went on too long.

I've started Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer's Guide by Cecily Wong and Dylan Thuras. This is a beautiful book, a heavy tome with lots of short articles, illustrations, and sidebars, all about the more unusual and offbeat food items from the world around us, both present and past. I'm thoroughly enjoying it. It's put out by one of my favorite websites (aftter TORn, of course!), Atlas Obscura.

So what have you been reading?

Where now the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?
Where is the hand on the harpstring, and the red fire glowing?
Where is the spring and the harvest and the tall corn growing?
They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow;
The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow....


Annael
Immortal


Oct 16, 3:57pm

Post #2 of 9 (291 views)
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completely agree [In reply to] Can't Post

about P.D. James's Death Comes to Pemberley.. I wondered, when I read it, if she was afraid to take too many liberties with the source material. A big disappointment.

I've finished The Splinter King and now just have to wait for the final in the trilogy, due out next summer I believe, to see how Mike weaves all his threads together.

A friend recommended Paula Munier's "Mercy Carr" series, about an ex-Marine MP who has come home to Vermont to grieve the loss of her fiance and take care of his bomb-sniffing dog Elvis, who also has PTSD from the attack that killed the fiance and wounded both Mercy and Elvis, and who gets drawn into solving murders in the woods. Great premise. TERRIBLE execution. Munier apparently wrote down two or three phrases to describe each character, and . . . that's who they remain. She tells us every time they come on scene that, for example, Mercy's mother is very well-groomed and wants her daughter to go to law school, or that another character's Newfie mix has "a pumpkin head" and is very friendly. Plus, Munier--who is from Georgia--seems bent on establishing her Vermont cred by naming Vermont brands every single chance she gets. Mercy doesn't put maple syrup on her French toast, she puts Vermont [brand name] syrup on it. Mercy also, despite being repeatedly told by everyone that she needs to stay away and let the professionals do it, investigates every murder by searching people's homes, talking to everyone and somehow getting permission to read private files like school and medical records by just walking into offices and asking to see them, and is the only one ever to guess who the murderer is. I tried the first two books but after Mercy in the second gets somehow put in charge of an autistic boy who seems to be totally neglected by his own family and the school system, and is able to bond with him for no reason I could see beyond the fact that she feeds him massive amounts of sugary food at every opportunity, I lost patience. Plus, there are stupid mistakes that should have been caught in editing, like naming a character a paragraph before she introduces herself. I could go on. For a long time. These are poorly written books!

So in disgust I went looking for another series of woman-and-dog murder investigators and found Margaret Mizushima's "Timber Creek" series, featuring a K-9 officer and her German shepherd partner in a small mountain town in Colorado. Much, much better writing.

I've also downloaded the latest in Lois McMaster Bujold's "Penric's Demon" series, The Assassins of Thasalon. Bujold is a master and reading her is sheer pleasure. I am fascinated by the World of Five Gods she's invented and the premise specific to this series of sorcerers who have managed to tame the demon they've been possessed by and use its magical abilities for good.

I am a dreamer of words, of written words.
-- Gaston Bachelard

* * * * * * * * * *

NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967


Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


Oct 16, 7:04pm

Post #3 of 9 (277 views)
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I wonder... [In reply to] Can't Post

...if James's Death Comes to Pemberley was a book she wrote very early in her life and pulled out of the desk drawer when her publisher wanted something else, anything else. It was sadly amateurish in some respects.

As for Bujold's excellent Penric series, she's just finishing up another (as yet untitled) installment. I agree, the World of Five Gods is an astonishing feat of imagination, beautifully conceived and beautifully presented.

Where now the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?
Where is the hand on the harpstring, and the red fire glowing?
Where is the spring and the harvest and the tall corn growing?
They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow;
The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow....


TintallŽ
Gondor


Oct 16, 7:26pm

Post #4 of 9 (280 views)
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I saw the movie version of "Death Comes to Pemberly." [In reply to] Can't Post

It was quite forgettable - just a bit of mindless entertainment.

I've had a bit of a rough patch with book club selections: A House in the Sky: A Memoir by Amanda Lindhout, about her ordeal at the hands of her Islamist insurgent kidnappers in Somalia; Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart, a well-written but absolutely horrific story of poverty, alcoholism and child abuse; The Plague by Albert Camus (need I say more?), and The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue (author of Room), centered around a trio of women care providers at a hospital in Dublin during the flu pandemic of 1918. For me, reading is usually a bit of an escape from real life, but not so much this past month!

My book club readings also included Deacon King Kong by James McBride. I'm having a lot of trouble getting in to that one - I am not a fan of McBride's writing style, but it's a selection for two of my book clubs so I will stay the course. I'm told it gets better after the first 4 chapters. For some relatively light and carefree reading I've picked up Kate Morton's The Secret Keeper, which is quite engaging and unfolds in a melding of past and present similar to the only other book of hers I have read, The Clockmaker's Daughter. I am finding it quite a relief to read something other than a depressing tale of torment or disease!


Kimi
Forum Admin / Moderator


Oct 16, 8:59pm

Post #5 of 9 (272 views)
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More agreement [In reply to] Can't Post

regarding Death Comes to Pemberley. I read it soon after it came out (so almost ten years ago) but remember being disappointed after very much looking forward to it. Some good patches, but overall it didn't capture or convince me, and on top of that departed in places from Austen canon.

My most recent read was Golden Hill by Francis Spufford, an historical novel set in 1740s New York, a time and place I knew almost nothing of. Very well-written (I've read one of Spufford's non-fiction works and very much enjoyed it), the details felt accurate (with the proviso of my own lack of familiarity) without being heavy handed, and a deliberate and nicely done echo of Henry Fielding's style. A mystery at its heart that remained a mystery to me until close to the end - and that is an unusual reading experience for me! One I think you might enjoy, Lilian.


The Passing of Mistress Rose
My historical novels

Do we find happiness so often that we should turn it off the box when it happens to sit there?

- A Room With a View


Kimi
Forum Admin / Moderator


Oct 16, 9:02pm

Post #6 of 9 (272 views)
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FWIW [In reply to] Can't Post

I heard a radio interview with P.D. James not long before reading the book, and she certainly spoke of it as something she'd only recently written, not a dusted off earlier work. She did imply she was finding writing hard work by that stage, and only wrote a very little every day, so possibly it didn't get the level of rewriting and revision required.


The Passing of Mistress Rose
My historical novels

Do we find happiness so often that we should turn it off the box when it happens to sit there?

- A Room With a View


Annael
Immortal


Oct 16, 9:20pm

Post #7 of 9 (268 views)
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that's rather sad // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

I am a dreamer of words, of written words.
-- Gaston Bachelard

* * * * * * * * * *

NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967


Greenwood Hobbit
Tol Eressea


Oct 19, 10:49am

Post #8 of 9 (196 views)
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I haven't been in the mood to tackle new things lately [In reply to] Can't Post

and am at present re-reading Terry Pratchett's 'Thud!' Beneath the edgy 'Dwarfs versus Trolls/Remember Koom Valley!' theme, there is a lot in it that is relevant to present-day prejudices and problems. Terry Pratchett was so much more than a very clever, funny writer; he was a very perspicacious man and had a way with words that can have you chuckling then send chills down your spine in the blink of an eye.


Aunt Dora Baggins
Immortal


Oct 23, 3:44pm

Post #9 of 9 (164 views)
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Lorna Doone [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm listening to the Librivox recording on my morning walks. It's a good one for that kind of experience: it's very slow and meandering, something you can savor over several days of walking. I saw the movie as a teen, and tried to read the book, and it was just too slow. But I'm enjoying it now. One of the goodreads reviewers said the experience was like sitting by a fireside with an old man telling his reminiscences over the course of several evenings. Not for everybody, but with some patience it's really nice. The hero is a bit of a jerk, but I take him as he is. He means well. And the descriptions of the natural surroundings are really lovely.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
GNU Terry Pratchett
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


 
 

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