Thursday, May 28, 2020

What Are You Reading?

What are you reading this week? I have nothing new to report since Monday, as you can tell from my blog and my use of Sandie Herron's reviews. Thank heavens for Sandie! I'm still reading Cursed, the anthology featuring fairy tales and folktales centered on a curse. This is one of the strongest story collections I've read in quite a while.

What about you? Have you read anything good, or have you been disappointed in your latest books? I hope you've found books to read even if your public library is still closed.

NOTE: Monday is June 1. We would normally talk about distractions, but Treasures in My Closet will run on Monday, and I have an author's piece scheduled for Tuesday. So, I'm moving Distractions to Sunday, May 31. Please drop in on Sunday to let us know how you're doing, and if you found distractions this week.

38 comments:

Art Taylor said...

Spending so much time in my office at home, I keep glimpsing books on the shelf that I picked up and never read--so I picked up one to finally read! Carol Shields' SWANN is terrific--written with grace and insight. It's about a murder, and there are some mysterious things going on, but it's not a murder mystery--not quite. I'll report more when I'm done!

Rosemary said...

Hi Lesa

I am still reading Debbie Macomber's The Little Bookshop of Promises, so nothing Literary to report I'm afraid! I think this is one of her better ones - still predictable and full of Family Values of course, but I am enjoying it. Not convinced that anyone turning up in small town Texas - or indeed ANYWHERE these day - could make a success of a small independent bookshop and receive the undying gratitude of all the ranchers and their families for bringing books to the culture-starved, but this is fiction, right? (Do indy bookshops still thrive in the US? Very few do here, even though many many people read, and blog about it - I'm afraid books tend to come from Amazon for most of us, the libraries for many of us, and charity shops for everyone like me.)

I finally finished my review of The Unreliable Death of Lady Grange by Sue Lawrence, which I would definitely recommend - a real page turner, very well written, and, amazingly, based on the true story of Rachel, the wife of James Erskine, Lord Grange - she was violently kidnapped at the behest of her husband and his associate Lord Lovat, and taken, bound and gagged, to the remote Monach Isles and later to St Kilda. And this was in the 1730s - imagine what it was like there, especially for a woman used to living an aristocratic life of luxury in Edinburgh.

When I finish the Debbie Macomber I have two more Saraband Books publications to read and review, (The Nature of Summer, and Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Vampire Menace), plus I still need to write about Ghost Trees and also Joan Smokes. And I have several books that my son kindly sent me, including The Last Hillwalker, This is Going to Hurt, and Lion. As I may have mentioned, we are trying to widen our reading tastes by sending one another books outside the other person's comfort zone. So I have plenty to do.

Also still watching the repeats of Monarch of the Glen (very loosely based on Compton McKenzie's Highland novels, but set in the pesent day). I had watched maybe 3 or 4 of the first series when I came up to Deeside - last night I decided to continue with them. I was surprised to find that time seemed to have moved on at least 2 years, and many of the original characters were missing. Only realised this morning, when I was setting the recorder up for something else, that I had in fact recorded all those back episodes in three batches, and the first series was of course way up the list - yesterday evening I had actually started watching the final series - no wonder I was confused, what an idiot. Now I will need to go back to the first series and try to forget all the things I learned last night!

I hope you're having a good day,

Rosemary

Lesa said...

I know just what that's like, Art, to spy books you now want to read. We'll look forward to your comments later!

SandyG265 said...

Good morning,

I finished HEXING WITH A CHANCE OF TORNADOES by Mandy M Roth. It’s part of a series of paranormal romances featuring main characters in their 40s.

A LIME TO KILL by Summer Prescott. It’s a short mystery set in Key a West.

FATED KISS by Darcy Devlan is a short paranormal romance set in Cat’s Paw Cove. The main characters have to correct an error made by the fates.

An ARC of GOODNIGHT MOO by Mollie Cox Bryan. It’s the newest book in her Buttermilk Creek mystery series. I enjoyed it but hope they re-edit it before the final copies get printed.

A COLD CASE IN SPELL by J.L. Collins. It’s a mystery set in town full of paranormals which has been cursed by Mother Nature. No one has been able to enter or leave the town for 11 year until Indie shows up. As the newcomer, she’s blamed for the murder and has to clear her name.

Lesa said...

Oh, Rosemary. I had to laugh at you watching Monarch of the Glen out of order. That really would throw you off.

To answer your question about independent bookstores - they've done better in recent years & a lot of them have opened in recent years. Here in the U.S., some are struggling right now, and some, like the one I work for as their blogger, The Poisoned Pen, is actually flourishing right now. Most of their customers really are online, and they've done better with sales since doing the virtual author chats. It's all kind of weird. Shipping and the pipeline of books has been the problem right now with these times.

It's interesting that you and your son are sharing books you might not normally read. What did you send him?

Lesa said...

Sandy, I notice you read a lot of paranormal books. Favorite authors or series?

SandyG265 said...

Less,

My favorite paranormal series are the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs, the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire, Jim Buthcher’s Harry Dresden series, Kristen Painter’s Nocturne Falls series and pretty much anything by Neil Gaiman. Unfortunately I read faster than any of them can write

Sharon said...

This week I finished THE BRIGHT SIDE OF GOING DARK by Kelly Harms. It was interesting to read about the effort that goes into being a social media influencer. It also dealt with some darker issues like suicide. I liked it but did not love it.

Now I am reading RULES FOR MOVING by Nancy Star. Another book that is a little of a downer. Laine is an advice columnist whose husband is killed in a car accident. She is left raising 6 year old Henry who only speaks to her after his father's death. It is interesting watching Laine navigate single parenthood when she seems so clueless in how to deal with people. Ironic considering her profession. I can't say I am loving this one either but I care enough to see how it ends.

Perhaps next week's choices will elicit more reading happiness.

And Rosemary, we watched all The Monarch of the Glen episodes. We loved it best before all the cast changes. I can see why you were so confused.

Happy Reading!

Jane R said...

Just finished Charleston Green by Stephanie Alexander. It was a fun read, with quirky and charming characters, along with a few ghosts. I especially liked the setting and I learned a bit about the culture and traditions of the Lowcountry. I'm ready for a road trip!

Now I'm racing through Perfect Little Children by Sophie Hannah. So far I'm enjoying it immensely.

Margie Bunting said...

In Brooke Fossey's debut, THE BIG FINISH, Duffy and Carl are octogenarian roommates in an assisted living facility, trying not to give the owner any reason to evict them, as that would mean transferring to the nearby dreaded nursing home. But when Carl's twentyish granddaughter Josie, whom he has never met and whose mother has recently died, comes through a window in their room, everything is turned upside down. Duffy, a recovering alcoholic, realizes instantly that Josie is an alcoholic herself, but in denial. She also has a black eye, perhaps administered by her boss, who comes looking for her. The story plays out over a week and involves other residents and one or two facility employees. I found it mildly entertaining, but I was expecting more. I did like the ending, though.

Despite quite a few lower ratings than usual for Jennifer Weiner on Amazon, BIG SUMMER fulfilled my need for some easy, escapist reading. It is quite different from, and not nearly as ambitious as, her recent "big book," Mrs. Everything, but I liked it a lot better most of her books of the last decade, perhaps reminiscent of her much earlier books. Daphne and future-debutante Drue were friends in middle and high school, until Drue tried to fix Daphne up with a loser, claiming she and her other friends felt sorry for her full-figured friend. So Daphne is stunned when Drue pleads with her, years later, to be maid of honor at her socialite wedding with the recent star of a "Bachelor"-like reality show, despite the fact that he had proposed to one of the show's contestants. Daphne is a plus-sized social media influencer, and she knows the Cape Cod wedding will give her the chance to promote her sponsored clothing, so she consents, never suspecting what lies ahead. I liked Daphne and all of the ridiculously over-the-top wedding plans, but I was surprised when the story unexpectedly turned into a whodunit more than halfway to the end.

In Marisa de los Santos' I'D GIVE ANYTHING, Ginny (sometimes called Zinny) adores her older brothe,r Trevor, does everything with her best friend, Kirsten, plans to marry her high school boyfriend, Gray, and dotes on their nerdy friend CJ. But things don't turned out as she planned. Trevor can't wait to get away from their emotionless mother, and Kirsten and CJ abandon Ginny because she isn't there for Gray when he most needs her. Fast-forward to adulthood, and Ginny and her husband, Harris, part ways when he is fired over a workplace scandal, leaving Ginny and their teenage daughter Avery to pick up the pieces. Secrets are revealed and big changes occur. But what I like most about all of the author's works are her characters, in whom we can see ourselves and those close to us. And, of course, there's a great story. Comfort food for me.

As I approach my move date (next week), I find myself relaxing by not only reading, but by bingeing on some Netflix series. Maybe it's because I know I will not have a working TV or internet service for several days. I watched all 10 episodes of the new "Sweet Magnolias" and didn't even notice till episode 9 that it is based on Sherryl Woods' series of books, which I haven't read. It's pleasant, unchallenging fare with some decent acting. On the other end of the spectrum, I finished watching season 2 of "Dead to Me," a dark "comedy" starring Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini, whose characters bond over the hit-and-run death of one's husband and a later murder. Can't say more without spoilers, but I enjoyed it.

Rosemary said...

Lesa, the books I bought for Freddie (my son) were 'Never Somewhere Else' by Alex Gray, 'White Teeth' by Zadie Smith. 'Lamb: A Novel' by Christopher Moore, 'The Road' by Cormac McCarthy, 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest' by Ken Kasey and 'To Kill A Mocking Bird' by Harper Lee. I have to confess I have not read most of these - they were variously recommended by friends and/or on lists of 'top 50 books for men'! I tried to choose things I thought he would like, whereas I think he has also sent me things that he likes. Serves me right! But if I had sent him favourites of mine like 'The Towers of Trebizond' 'The Fortnight in September' and 'Excellent Women' I can guarantee they would never have been read. Also my daughter-in-law is also a great reader, so at least they can share these.

I know that my friend's publishing company Saraband is doing well in the current situation - she says her house is full of books waiting to be posted - but I am not sure that people are (even when they could that is) going into bookshops to spend money these days. I have to say when I do so I usually go just for gifts, or for ideas for myself that I then look for in the library. Also our chain bookshops like Blackwells and Waterstones are so predictable, only stocking the latest bestsellers which they are obvioulsy given incentives to push - despite all those little handwritten notes on the shelves that purport to be the personal recommendations of the counter staff. I notice that more and more of them are also now charging to attend book launches, which I kind of object to as we are just there to hear the author publicise his/her book. But I am old and cynical.

Mark Baker said...

I'm almost half way through a middle-grade book today - CITY SPIES by James Ponti. It's a lot of fun.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

I love seeing what everyone's reading.
Here's what I've read:
The House on Fripp Island by Rebecca Kauffman (ARC) - Like it. Not at all the light beach read I was expecting.
Hide Away by Jason Pinter. Loved it. Everything you said about this book was spot on, Lesa and I'm looking forward to #2.
Someday in Paris by Olivia Lara. This was a book people are going to love or hate. I loved it, but I admit there were some loose ends that didn't make sense once the book ended. It was a real soap opera. I'm a fan of books that have elements of art, and this fit that nich.
Pale Morning Light with Violet Swan by Deborah Reed (ARC). This was a beautiful, beautiful story. Another art niche book.
Happy Thursday!
xxoo

SallyM said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Margie for mentioning Jennifer Weiner's BIG SUMMER. I had it on hold via Overdrive and today was the last day I could borrow it - I think I would have forgotten without the reminder. Right now I'm reading THE LAST ROMANTICS (Tara Conklin) and enjoying it. It's about a family after the father dies - the relationships among the children as they grow up. I know there's a crisis coming but I haven't gotten to it yet. Before that I read Sara Paretsky's latest, DEAD LAND. She never lets me down. I just checked and this is the 20th book by her that I've read - maybe that's all of them? In this one some crooked politicians are trying to change the Lake Michigan shoreline, there's a now-homeless songwriter, several murders and attempted murders, and a connection to the Pinochet regime in Chile. And, of course, V.I. ties everything together in her inimitable manner.

Lesa said...

Just curious, Sandy. I like the Harry Dresden books. Have been reading them for years.

Lesa said...

Sharon, Well, you certainly picked some interesting reading for an already dark time. That doesn't mean you have to have something lighter next week. It's just what you were in the mood to read.

Lesa said...

I like the sound of Charleston Green, Jane. Quirky characters, setting & a few ghosts. Sounds like something I'd enjoy.

Lesa said...

Margie, That's interesting about The Big Finish. I just gave a copy to my best friend, thinking she'd like it & I just didn't have time to get to it. Guess I didn't miss much.

Good luck on the move! Sounds as if you're ready, though!

Lesa said...

That's interesting, Rosemary, how you said the shelf talkers "purport" to be from the staff. It would be more evident in an independent bookstore, when you get to know the staff and their reading taste.

You were wise in sending books you thought your son would read rather than just ones you love. Good idea!

I agree. The only time I can see charging for a book event is when you get a copy of the book, so that makes sense. Otherwise, you're just getting to know an author, and might not want to buy a book or pay to hear them.

Lesa said...

And, we all need fun now and then, Mark. Maybe more than ever now.

Jeff Meyerson said...

Sorry I didn't get here until now, but we went this morning to Senior Hour (8-9 am) at Costco. It really worked, for those of you who might have that option. We went right in (people waiting for the 9 am opening were already starting to line up outside at 8:15), the crowds weren't bad, and the checkout lines were non-existent. And other than Clorox wipes and a couple of other things (Super Chunk Peanut Butter, for some unknown reason), we got most of our list.

Then I was reading the stories of some of the 100,000 deaths in the Washington Post.

OK, then, books! Yes, I read some. I didn't have much luck when I tried a Joe Hill novel a few years ago, but with one exception I really enjoyed his short story collection, Full Throttle. Two of the stories were written with his father (Stephen King), and one of them was the one I disliked, but otherwise, good stuff and I have taken a second collection out on Kindle.

As mentioned previously, I am a big fan of Nick Petrie's Peter Ash series, but this latest one pushes the envelope of believable plots past its limit (IMHO). Nevertheless, I must confess that I kept turning the pages (so to speak, it was an ebook on the Cloud) of The Wild One as fast as I could to get to the end. This one takes the claustrophobic PTSD-suffering ex-Marine on several flights all the way to Iceland in December, in search of a child and his father, who appears to have murdered his wife and fled the country. Ash doesn't even have his usual backup here, and his survival in a blizzard - half the time without a coat on - is what makes the plausibility factor low. But the action never flags, and you know (as you do in these books) that our hero will not only survive but win out over the bad guys in the end.

I am reading a weird collection of James Sallis stories, as mentioned last time, though more out of inertia and because they are short than through any enjoyment. The other book I'm reading is David Quammen's Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic, which a friend recommended as very prescient for the situation we are all in now. THe book was published in 2012.

Jeff Meyerson said...

Sandy, my wife reads a lot of paranormal series too, including the Mercy Thompson (and her Alpha and Omega series). I'd say her favorites are J. R. Ward and Christine Feehan, among many others (Chloe Neill is another).

Jeff Meyerson said...

I think our taste is similar, Lesa, in that we both read the Harry Dresden books (although the most recent ones I've read have been the short story collections) and Simon R. Green's series.

As for Jennifer Weiner, Jackie liked her early books, but then she did something she considered unforgivable - she killed off a major character for what Jackie considered ill-conceived reasons. She vowed never to read another of her books, and has stuck to that.

Lesa said...

Kaye! I'm so glad you enjoyed Hide Away. I had a little problem with the protagonist's actions at one point, but the cop pointed out she was out of control. She just didn't realize it. So, I felt even that was handled well. I'm sorry about the latest Paris suggestion, though, that it didn't work out. As you said, eventually.

Lesa said...

Don't you love it, Sally, when someone else's comment triggers something for you? I'm glad you were still able to get Big Summer. I'm also glad Sara Paretsky never disappoints you.

Mo Jones said...

I'm reading the American debut of Canadian author Cherie Dimaline. I've never read a werewolf book, but find this fable inspired by the traditional Metis legend of the Rogarou captivating. Good writing and an interesting tale. But my TBR pile doesn't seem to get any smaller.

Lesa said...

Jeff, I read two different articles yesterday, one by Mitch Albom, about all the deaths. One said if we had shut everything down just two weeks earlier, 54,000 deaths could have been prevented. I mentioned that my hometown is 7,000 people. That could be shown as 8 of my hometowns just wiped off the map. That's so hard to imagine. And, I can't imagine the pain right now for family survivors.

I go to senior hour at my local grocery store, and it works beautifully. Yes, they're out of some odd things at times (sweet pickles?), but everyone is wearing a mask in that hour, and I like it that way.

I do think you and I read similar in the paranormal vein. I'm with Jackie, though, not with the Jennifer Weiner books. But, I've been known to hold a grudge and not forgive an author. That topic comes up once in a while, and you know how mystery readers feel about animals!

Lesa said...

Mo, Isn't it interesting how so many cultures have similar legends under a slightly different form? I'm not familiar with the Canadian werewolf story or the Metis legend, but I've read several books involving the Rogarou in Louisiana.

Glen Davis said...

I read some disparate books this week:

Union: A Democrat, A Republican, and a Search For common Ground; Just like it sounds. I wind up reading a book like this almost quarterly, even though they are almost all exactly alike. This one is a little different in that it's written by millenials who have no idea what they're talking about.

Wilderness of Mirrors; a Biography of the CIA spy James Jesus Angleton who was brilliant and paranoid, which does not make a good combination.

Ebu GoGo; This appeared on my kindle, but I'm sure I didn't buy it. Did I win it somehow? Sleaze novel about a search for Little People in Indonesia.

The Lottery Winner by Mary Higgins Clark; Anthology of humorous short stories. I don't remember anyone ever thinking Tip O'Neil was good looking.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Even though I am 58 and very much disabled, the senior hours here are restricted to 65 and older. One gets carded by DL to verify and a letter from the doc about your medial issues and need to shop during the protected hours is ignored because our so not wonderful governor said that was okay. So, shopping is pretty much not an option without massive risk. We are still doing Amazon Fresh and that has worked. I remain scared to even try to do anything in public as so many folks are going about unmasked. Regardless of what you see on social media about the fragility of the male ego, here the unmasked are split fairly even between the genders.

We had our physicals last week and the immediate prognosis was the kid was fine and I am going to be around to be a cranky dude awhile longer. Suppose to get my results by way of some sort of online conference deal Tuesday morning.

I have been reading and reviewing some short story stuff on my blog these past three days if anyone is interested and Aubrey Hamilton still does her Monday guest reviews deal.

Last Saturday, I received an ARC of ONE LAST LIE by Paul Doiron who had seen my recent review of his short story and my lament about the local library system being closed. So, he sent me his new book coming out in July. And Lawrence Block sent me an ARC eBook of his new one coming out soon.

I have started reading ONE LAST LIE and am enjoying it. The widespread rains have tapered off as they always do this time of year and the heat is on here in NE Dallas. I am a native and hate summer. 105 with 85 percent humidity is an evil to be endured so that in January one can sit in the yard in his shorts as it is 75 and sunny with a bare wisp of a breeze.

Kevin

Mo Jones said...

Lesa
I wasn't aware of the Louisiana legend, but was reminded of the same type legend in William Kent Krueger's Minnesota stories - one of which happened to be featured in your email this morning.
I appreciate your email/book reviews.
Thanks

Lesa said...

Thank you, Mo! And, I'm going to answer you first because I think the rougarou story is interesting. And, of course, because it's Louisiana, it came from French Canada.

The stories of the creature known as a rougarou are as diverse as the spelling of its name, though they are all connected to francophone cultures through a common derived belief in the loup-garou (French pronunciation: ​[lu ɡaˈʁu], /ˈluː ɡəˈruː/). Loup is French for wolf, and garou (from Frankish garulf, cognate with English werewolf) is a man who transforms into an animal.

American folklore

A traditional Cajun Courir de Mardi Gras costume based on a Rougarou (figure on left)
"Rougarou" represents a variant pronunciation and spelling of the original French loup-garou.[1] According to Barry Jean Ancelet, an academic expert on Cajun folklore and professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in America, the tale of the rougarou is a common legend across French Louisiana[citation needed]. Both words are used interchangeably in southern Louisiana. Some people call the monster rougarou; others refer to it as the loup-garou.

The rougarou legend has been spread for many generations, either directly from French settlers to Louisiana (New France) or via the French Canadian immigrants centuries ago.

Lesa said...

Glen, I think Mary Higgins Clark was always kind, from what I've heard. I just love your editorial comments about the books. Things like "This one is a little different in that it's written by millenials who have no idea what they're talking about."

Lesa said...

Ah, Kevin. That heat, and tornadoes, and storms. What you put up with for the 75 degrees and shorts in the winter.

I know. I'm still not comfortable going anyplace but work and the grocery store, and I'm more nervous at work than the grocery store because SO FAR, people are wearing masks at the store.

Aren't you glad we have books as a distraction? What would we do if we weren't readers?

Carol N Wong said...

Late again, I suddenly realized what day is! Hope to remember on Sunday to drop in for
Distractions. I live to the Northwest of Kevin so I have the same weather.

My husband does the grocery shopping on Thursday and he told me that everyone wore masks today. I love a little bit of diet pepsi each week, and so this is my 2nd week of Diet Lemon Twist. Next Monday I have to go for a blood draw at the cancer clinic. I have had a dry cough
since October of last year and I am so afraid that they will tell me come when it is gone

I am reading Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland. It took me a few days to figure which characters are who? But I am enjoying it and now have the females down pat but not the males. It is a book to savor. Also will be starting a book for children to preteens on Anti-racism. I have an author telling me that he is going to send me a book that he has been working on for ten years. I also have finished a book off my TBR
bookcase. Loved it because it was historical about one of my direct ancestors. In June, we plan to get into a walk in closet and find out the names that I can read about.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Carol, it is probably medication induced and the cancer clinic knows and will let it go. My late wife would get that deal from time to time and the folks at Texas Oncology at Medical City Dallas Hospital used to track that. My personal doc said last Friday when we did our physicals that they were not worried about allergy cough or drainage---I have that--and the focus is on temp checking and whether or not the patient has been around anyone confirmed to have COVID-19.

For what that is all worth.

By the way, Dallas has announced "Library To Go" is coming with curbside pickup. This is not going to work for the old guys who look at Russian Brides on the library computers, but, for those of us who get books, the news is that they have started processing holds. The City Manager is going to brief the Council and the public on June 3rd and explain how this is going to work. 16 libraries across Dallas will participate in this step and our branch, LOCHWOOD, is one of them as we now have books on hold. We do not yet know if they will also be opening the book drops so we can return the sixty plus books we have here that we have read.

Lesa said...

Carol, I hope you came back, and read Kevin's comment about your cough. It sounds as if there's not much you can do about it. Take care of yourself.

Lesa said...

Kevin,

The returns are a big issue because we're quarantining them for 72 hours, so you need space to put them, and to sort them. We can handle it right now because the libraries are closed, and we can use our meeting rooms. I have no idea where our three extremely small libraries are putting their returns.

New books! Yay! My sister's complaint was that the branch she normally uses is opening for curb side, but none of her holds are available there.