Thursday, September 24, 2020

What Are You Reading?

First, how are you doing? Politics, work, Covid, fires, too many tropical storms. I know it's all becoming too much for some of us. I also know you're doing the best you can. We all are. We're not superhuman, no matter how much we try.We may only bring it up on Thursdays, but I think about you throughout the week. That means all of you who normally respond here, and also those who only occasionally comment. Take care of yourself. Let us know how you're doing.

I'm a little nervous. I'm moderating a panel for an online event tomorrow for thousands of librarians. I hope everything goes well on my end - in other words, that I can keep us on time, and that all the technology works. That's really my job. Keeping my fingers crossed.

In the meantime, I'm back to reading a book I didn't have time for earlier. Hopefully, I can actually finish Ann Cleeves' latest Vera Stanhope mystery, The Darkest Evening. Vera gets lost in a snowstorm, but, before she can get her bearings, she comes across a stranded car with a baby in the backseat. The front door is open, and the driver is missing. When she finds her way to a cousin's house, she calls around, looking for a parent. But, just as she thinks she's identified the mother, a neighboring farmer reports he found a body in the snow, a woman who had been hit on the head and killed. Vera delights in a good murder investigation.

And, you? What are you reading this week? Is there something that's keeping you distracted so you don't have to think about the state of the world?


Jeff Meyerson said...

Well, nothing keeps me that distracted, unfortunately, but I try to stay away from watching certain divisive persons on television, at least. Jackie finally came around to the obvious, that Florida this winter is just not going to be safe or practical for us, so we will be hunkered down here.

But to happier things, books. I've been mostly reading short stories again this week, finishing THE LONE PILGRIM, Laurie Colwin's second collection of stories, which was fine, if not as engaging as the first. I will let a little while pass before I read the third collection. I'm close to finishing Joe Hill's first story collection, 20th CENTURY GHOSTS, which I am enjoying. Not as much gore as some of his later work. Still have other collections ready to be read.

I am a fan of William Shaw's mysteries, first the Breen and Tozer books set in late '60s London, and now his later work. THE BIRDWATCHER introduced Sgt. Alexandra Cupidi as a secondary (but pivotal) character, who transferred out of London to the Kent coastal area after a love affair with a married co-worker. She lives with her teenage daughter. The 450 page SALT HILL is considered the first in the Cupidi series, and I liked it quite a bit, despite the seemingly ubiquitous British topic these days of the exploitation of immigrants. A homeless woman shows up at a man's house in London claiming to be his long-lost mother. The next morning she is gone. Then a woman identified as the same Hilary Keen turns up dead in the water in Kent, clearly there for a week or more. I also liked Cupidi's spunky young assistant.

Almost done with Peter Turnbull's FALSE KNIGHT, another in his Hennessey and Yellich police procedural series set in and around York. A piece of a woman's leg is discovered in a garbage bag in a bin. She is quickly identified as a woman reported missing, a woman who fought constantly with her husband, but is he guilty?

Stay safe, everyone.

SandyG265 said...

Good morning. It was nice enough yesterday to eat lunch outside yesterday so that was good. I’m trying to enjoy our last few days of warm weather before we get back to highs in the 60s next week.

I read TALES FROM THE ANT WORLD by Edward O. Wilson. A retired Harvard professor tells story from his life spent studying ants. It was interesting but there were way too many Latin names.

An ARC of WILL YOU LOVE ME? by Barry Keel. An abused Greyhound who’s near death is dumped at the gate to an animal rescue in England.

A MURDEROUS MISCONCEPTION by Lorraine Bartlett. I usually enjoy her Victorian Square cozies but this one didn’t quite work for me.

APOCALYPSE COW by Michael Logan. Zombie cows

Sharon said...

Good morning. These certainly are strange times. My brother-in-law in Glendale CA says the fires are getting closer to him, my brother in Houston had 14" of rain on Monday, and my husband and I are trying to decide if October will be safe enough to leave our bubble to look at property in Knoxville for retirement.

Lesa, I've watched some of the Vera movies that air on AcornTV but I've never read any of the books.

Jeff-I've read Laurie Colwin's novels but not her short stories. I also loved her cookbook. She is the one who taught me to add a squeeze of lemon to my chicken soup :)

If I were to grade my reading this week, both books would be solid B's.

First was THE LAST BATHING BEAUTY by Amy Sue Nathan. It was a pleasant story but rather predictable. Betty lives with her grandparents at their resort and becomes the winner of the local beauty pageant in 1951 which ends after she is crowned. Present day Boop is now in her 80's navigating a crisis with her granddaughter. With the support of her two friends she shares the secrets of the 1951 summer in hopes of helping her granddaughter.

Next I finished THIS IS HAPPINESS by Niall Williams. I enjoyed the story of 78 year old Father Noel Crowe reminiscing about his home in rural Ireland in the 50's when the rain stopped and electricity was installed. The writing was beautiful but the action was slow. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it and cared about the characters. It was recommended by author Libby Page on her blog.

I am not sure what I will pick up to read next.

Happy Reading!

katstev said...

I am currently reading The Coast to Coast Murders by James Patterson.

Lesa said...

I think it's going to be a rough winter for a lot of us, Jeff. More difficult to get out to pick up food and groceries, not being able to go to Florida or Arizona, or wherever we thought we'd go to escape the cold. Tell Jackie I'm sorry.

Sometimes, I get a little tired of the topics that appear constantly, such as Europe's issues with exploitation of immigrants. And, there are some topics I just don't care enough to read when they come up. I don't care about the Mexican cartels. I didn't care when I was in Arizona. We just had an enormous bust here that was related to Mexican cartels. I'm sorry. I don't want to read about the violence and the drugs. I'm not interested.

Lesa said...

I know, Sandy! There was no gradual end to summer. Fall weather was just here. Scares me as to what to expect with winter.

Zombie cows! Some of you have interesting topics in your reading.

Lesa said...

Good luck with your retirement plans, Sharon. I've never been to Knoxville, but I have a friend who loves it.

This is Happiness sounds wonderful. I don't know if I could handle the slow pace right now, though.

I hope you find just the right book for your next one.

Lesa said...

Katstev, I'm always curious as to who James Patterson's co-author is. I'll have to look that one up to find out.

Mo Jones said...

Lesa, I want to thank you again for your wonderful book review emails. Seems at least weekly something to make me think "I want to read that".
I'm currently reading MURDER AS A FINE ART by David Morrell. I'm fascinated by the details of late 1800s England that the author incorporated in the story. But a bit gory and the plot wanders about causing me to think it could have been better.
Here in Western Nevada, we've had a couple days reprieve from the smokey skies. Night time temps near freezing with a fifty degree temp swing during the day. Perfect for getting at some of the deferred yard work.
Happy Fall

Margie Bunting said...

I had a lovely 2.5-hour phone conversation with my childhood friend Judy on the opposite coast yesterday. I met her when I moved into her street when I was 6, and we lost touch after college. I looked for her online about 5 years ago and found her through her "baby brother." Such a fulfilling renewed friendship.

My county (El Dorado County, CA) was upgraded to orange this week, meaning restaurants can be 50% full inside, and schools will now be part-in person, part-online. I'll continue to do what feels comfortable to me.

Here's what I read this week:

In THE HUMANs by Matt Haig, Cambridge math professor Alan has solved a long-standing theorem related to prime numbers but hasn't yet made it public. An extraterrestrial, whose planet's earlier solution of the same theorem has unlocked eternal life and other amazing benefits, is sent to Earth to impersonate Alan (who has already been killed) and to eliminate everyone else he has told about his discovery, including Alan's wife and teenage son. There are many comic elements to the story, especially since the alien regards humans as hideous, clueless, and impossibly primitive. But as the story progresses, he comes to understand, then treasure, many aspects of human life, including family bonds, dogs, and peanut butter. I've never read anything else that defines so well what it means to be human. This is an extraordinary book, written by the author of a previous favorite, How to Stop Time. I can't recommend it highly enough. I've already ordered Haig's next book The Midnight Library, releasing later this month.

THE ANSWER IS . . . by Alex Trebek is exactly what I expected of a Trebek autobiography, covering his life superficially and his game show experience in a little more depth. I didn't learn much of anything I didn't already know about Alex (I am a Jeopardy faithful) so I often found myself speed-reading through it. It was a pleasant read.

Since I recently read the first in the Key West Food Critic series, I felt I could now read the most recent entry, THE KEY LIME CRIME. Oddly enough, key lime pies figured prominently in both plots. Food critic Hayley Is about to write an article on the best key lime pie on Key West, as a judged contest will take place later that week. But one of the chefs is found dead in a Santa Claus suit on her doorstep after hitting the contest organizer with a pie--he had disqualified her entry because it was a pastry, not a pie. Hayley's new husband is a police detective, and his mother, Helen, who hadn't attended his wedding to Hayley, comes for a visit that same week. She isn't a foodie in the least, and Hayley finds her a cold fish, but she can't refuse when her mother-in-law asks to "ride along" as Hayley asks some pointed questions of the townspeople to help her husband figure out whodunit. I was surprised that I came to like Helen eventually, and I found it a fun read. Of course, there are 8 more books in the series!

I've enjoyed all of Viola Shipman's (aka Wade Rouse) books, but THE HEIRLOOM GARDEN is one of my favorites. Iris hasn't left her home for decades, after her husband was killed in the war (and his body never recovered) and her young daughter died of polio. Her only passion is her amazing garden, where she creates new flowers by cross-breeding some of her favorites. The house next door used to be her grandmother's, but that once-lush garden hasn't been cultivated for years. When a couple with a young daughter (Lily) rent the house, Iris initially resists their attempts to be friendly, not knowing that the husband has PTSD after losing a friend while in the military, and the marriage is seriously threatened. This is an absolutely beautiful story. I'm not at all a gardener, and there is lots of detail about flowers and gardens, but I consumed it eagerly. The human story is quiet, heartfelt, and tear-inducing, with unforgettable characters. I was sorry to see it end.

Lesa said...

Mo, You couldn't have given me a nicer compliment than saying there seems to be something you want to read on a weekly basis. Thank you.

Fifty degree swings in temperature! Wow!

Those fires and the smoke are terrible. Take care of yourself.

And, thank you.

Lesa said...

Margie, You're right about Alex Trebek's book. Superficial, but those of us who are faithful readers still wanted to read it. My Mom and I both enjoyed the book.

Viola Shipman is a favorite of friends and family. My best friend, and my mother, have read all the books.

Isn't it wonderful to find someone you lost? My college roommate found the "girl" who lived next door from us for two years. It's been so good to be back in touch with Andi.

SallyM said...

I've been freezing in Kentucky this week - my house just doesn't warm up when the weather changes. I was stubborn but finally turned on the heat yesterday for a couple of hours. It's better now and supposed to get warmer then way colder. I, like some of you, am not looking forward to winter.

I've recently finished THE GEOMETRY OF HOLDING HANDS (Alexander McCall Smith). Just as good as all his books always are. I don't understand how he can write so well so fast. Also, read THE DAUGHTERS OF ERIETOWN (Connie Schultz) which takes 3 generations of women through their lives - mostly concentrates on the middle one and how women's lives changed in the latter part of the 20th century. I liked it very much. Next was WHAT TO WISH FOR (Katherine Center). Celebrate whenever possible and always choose joy make this a good read for our current situation.

But - Ta Da! - I'm finally reading ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE (Louise Penny) and those of you who've already awarded it your "best book of the year" prize are definitely right. I miss Three Pines but am enjoying Paris (one of my favorite cities). I feel that she writes the best mysteries - make that best books - I read in any year.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

You will knock it outta the park on your panel, Lesa! I can't wait to hear all about it.

What I've read this week:

nk and Shadows by Ellery Adams (ARC)
The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams (ARC)
Watch Her by Edwin Hill (ARC)

All excellent - all recommended.


Lesa said...

Sally, I own a copy of The Daughters of Erietown, but I've heard mixed reviews about it. My sister keeps asking if I've read it, but it's formidable, and those reviews...

I'm so glad you're enjoying All the Devils Are Here! Definitely on my top ten list this year.

Lesa said...

Kaye, I always like to see that your selections are excellent, and know you're enjoying them. I think a box is waiting for you the next time you and Donald stray into town.

I'll let you know! At least it's early, so I'll get through it early.

Rosemary said...

Hi Lesa and everyone,

I have been at the dentist today for the first time since February - it was actually a lot easier than I thought, my dentist is lovely and although they have had to take more precautions it still felt quite relaxed and not at all rushed. The good news is that for some reason any treatment covered by the NHS is at the moment totally free! Even the dentist doesn’t know why, as usually everyone has to pay part of the NHS charge for dentistry (whereas we don’t have to pay anything for the doctor) unless they are on benefits. So I came out quite cheerful!

It’s a lot cooler here, which I prefer - the current temperature is around 45F (at 5.30pm).

I am reading an old Virago crime novel - Virago (feminist publishers) had a spate of putting these out in the 1980s and early 90s (I suppose that is when they started publishing my beloved Amanda Cross/Carolyn Heilbrun Kate Fansler books in the UK). This is one I’d never heard of - “Georgia Disappeared’ by Ellen Godfrey. It is set in the world of computer software development in Toronto. The female head of a computer team is about to compete the development of a brilliant new programme when she disappears at a party. Her friend Jane investigates her disappearance - is is something to do with industrial espionage, marital problems, or what? I’m quite enjoying it, the characters are good - apart from, unfortunately, the main character, Jane herself, who is very dull, whinges on endlessly about her personal problems, and says “I just don’t understand you’ or ‘I just don’t understand what you are saying’ every 5 minutes. But I’m keen to see who did commit the crime, so I’ll carry on.

As I’m spending this week down in Edinburgh, I’ve been visiting all the charity shops that I haven’t had a chance to trawl for months. I think I’ve bought at least 15 books already - including a PD James (The Private Patient), an Ian Rankin (The Black Book), an Ann Cleeves (Blue Lightning) and an old Joan Smith novel - she also wrote feminist mysteries in the 80s - Don’t Leave Me This Way. I also bought a Lilian Beckwith book ‘An Island Apart’ - Beckwith wrote about her experience of life on the islands of Skye and then Soay, which she moved to in the 1940s, but this one is a novel set on a remote Hebridean island. I think her most famous book is The Hills is Lonely.

Jeff, I like the sound of both the William Shaw and the Peter Turnbull books - I’ve not read any of them. More for the list! And Margie, those Key West Food mysteries sound great, I will look for them.

And Lesa, I’m sure we all second Mo’s appreciation of your posts - I always see something I’d like to read in them, but more than that, I enjoy checking in with you and everyone else here, you bring us all together and - at least for me - it’s a lovely supportive time of my day. And I like it that you do give us your opinions sometimes, whether it’s about Blogger or American politics! I also agree that many UK writers do get fixated on certain fashionable topics - drives me round the bend. Every year the Edinburgh International Book Festival is full of whatever is the latest fad - refugees, mental health, gender issues, etc. Of course they are all important things, I would never disagree with that, but I read a novel to escape, not to listen to even more Politically Correct misery. I like quirky books that just do their own thing, and I especially enjoy good social comedy - the observation of all of our funny little habits and ideas, which are, after all, what make up our day-to-day lives.

Very best of luck with your panel! You’ll be a star, OF COURSE!

Margie Bunting said...

Kaye, I envy you for being able to get highly anticipated books so early! I already had Ink and Shadows on my TBR list, but I just added The Book of Lost Words--sounds wonderful!

Lesa said...

At least you know, Rosemary, that it's not the UK writers who get fixated on a topic. American authors do as well. For several years, it was the unreliable narrator who was a "girl". Aarrrgghhh! There's my opinion. I'm not a fan of the unreliable narrator. I guess it's because I prefer a straightforward mystery, and I want to find out whodunnit or why. I'm not a fan of those suspenseful woman in danger novels, or the ones that hinge on the narrator's personality, or lack thereof. Usually a lack, in my opinion. There. I gave you my opinion more than you really wanted to know!

I enjoy it when people check in as well. I'm learning a little bit about your Scotland, the fires and issues out west in the U.S., the work situation for some of us.

I really just want to provide everyone with a blanket and a good book, and wish we could all settle in to read.

Mark Baker said...

Monday at 7PM, I got sucked into a work meeting that doesn't end. Literally. We are only breaking to sleep. I'm barely getting any reading done, and I'm stressed out completely.

It sounds like we are going to be going until Monday, but I don't think I'm going to last that long.

Lesa said...

I was waiting for you, Mark. I'm worried about you. I hope you're getting some sleep, even if you can't read. I hope you don't crash and burn.

I'm sorry.

Glen Davis said...

The smoke's clearing up some, but we're still in the "purple" tier, but a lot of places are opening up in defiance of the governor. I still do what I do.


Conspiracy in the Street by John Wiener; Hopelessly biased history of the Chicago 7 trial.

Biscuits and Slashed Browns by Maddie Day; The owner of a Breakfast place investigates the murder of a jerk. Too easy.

Cobblered to Death by Rosemarie Ross; A TV chef whines about authenticity while investigated the death of a reporter. Without the whining it would be lot better... and a lot shorter.


Greybeard; An old hippie takes on the refugee crisis in Germany. Not for the woke.

Actress Slash Criminal; Former child star becomes a violent criminal, and gets in over her head.

Team One; A trio of Sci fi heroes go to various planets, then get involved in a cosmic battle. Quite a shift in the middle.

Our First Locomotive; A new company buys and refurbishes a steam locomotive.

Sandie Herron said...

I'm deeply distressed about how Trump is almost promising to cause problems following the election. What will we do if he won't leave? The experts will need to handle this one, but it's hard to sit still and watch.

I finished the last entry in Victoria Laurie's psychic series. It was a good police procedural yet couldn't be solved without some psychic intervention.

I'm back to Kent Krueger's series on audio - this time Copper River which picks up where Mercy Falls left off in a tremendous cliff hanger.

Reading is my salvation when the news gets to be too much, which is often. I'm trying to pay attention to what is going on yet not be overwhelmed, a tricky balance!

Lesa said...

I love your comment, Glen, about Cobblered to Death. It would be shorter and better without the whining. I get it. It does sound, though, as if a couple of your e-books came through for you.

Stay safe.

Lesa said...

Sandie, I know. I just don't know how we ever got to this position. And, I blame the media for quite a bit of it. They just let him go on and on. It is hard to watch, and I have to turn away at times, although I do read newspapers and catch it on social media. I just can't stand to watch him.

Reading is ALWAYS a salvation!

Jeff Meyerson said...

Lesa, I totally agree! If I'm watching television and he comes on, I grab the remote and mute him as quickly as possible.

Rosemary, Turnbull started out with a 10 book series of procedurals set in Glasgow, then switched to a series set in York (City) and environs, both areas we know fairly well, especially the latter. Every time he makes a reference to the Holgate area and says it is not an area of York the tourists know, I think, "Not this tourist!" We stayed in that area several times as it is just a short walk to the city walls. The Shaws I've read have been very good so far.

Lesa said...

Right there with you on that mute, Jeff!

Lesa said...

Margie, If you're reading this, would you email me your mailing address? I have a book I promised to send to you, and I don't have your address.

SallyM said...

Rosemary, I, too, loved the Kate Fansler books. According to my records I read nine of them. Were there more?

Sandie, Jeff, Lesa, and others, put me in the worried, muting club. I'm reading more than ever. Some nights I just don't want to turn on the TV (except for Cubs baseball).

Lesa said...

Sally, I find my biggest problem is Twitter. I don't read "his". I use Twitter for both blogs, and then I end up getting caught reading news. (sigh) Too much of it.

Rosemary said...

Sally, according to Fantastic Fiction there are 14:

I think I’ve probably read the first 9 at some point over the years, but not the later ones. I think I’ll try to complete my collection if they’re not too expensive. I’ve re-read some of them recently & was glad to find that I still loved them - though oh my goodness, Vietnam war or no Vietnam war, life was so much simpler then.

Carolyn Heilbrun was a wealthy, well educated, successful woman. I wonder if she based Kate on herself or on the person she would have liked to have been?

Which books have you read?

lsmoore49 said...

This covid scares me something awful. I dread the winter months as I believe it will get worse.

I read THE DARKEST EVENING but I just didn't like it a whole lot. I'm sure it was me as it seems many loved it.

I'm finishing up PLAYING NICE by JP Delaney now. It's pretty good. A deep subject matter for sure. Set in London also.

Thank you for sharing and if you would please follow me I sure would appreciate it so much. The link is:

Rick Robinson said...

It’s always a pleasure to read your blog, though I rarely comment. By this time your talk has been a success, I’m sure.

I’ve been reading many of the British Library Crime Classics books, most recently SETTLING SCORES, edited by Martin Edwards, as always. Quite enjoyable. Just got Julian Symons THE COLOR OF MURDER, which will go near the top of good old TBR stack.

Otherwise, glad the smoke has cleared here in Portland, and we’re having rain. Ahh. Plenty of indoor time (is there any other kind?) to read, watch the kittens antics and try not to order pizza too often.

Lesa said...

No, Rick. I don't think there's anything other than indoor time in 2020, unless you live in the wilderness, and, right now, that's not California or Oregon.

Thank you! Yes, the talk's over, and it went well. Good slate of authors.

And, thank you for commenting this time.

SallyM said...

Rosemary, thanks for the list of Amanda Cross books - it's simpler to tell you what I haven't read - the first four and Honest Doubt. Apparently they're available on Amazon (in US) at a reasonable price. I think I'll order Honest Doubt. The last one I read was The Edge of Doubt in Nov 2002. Thanks for the reminder