Monday, April 1, 2013

Book Notes on Four Months of Reading

In the time I wasn't writing the blog, I still kept a list of the books I read in an email folder, though I jotted down some notes only about the January books. In the time since, I've found that I really like to have something in writing about the books I've read. Otherwise it is easy to forget just what I felt about them.

March - 8

22. Getting Old Is Criminal - book 3 in the Gladdy Gold series
by Rita Lakin
mystery, 2007
Kindle book
library book
finished 3/31/13

21. Getting Old Is The Best Revenge - book 2 in the Gladdy Gold series
by Rita Lakin
mystery, 2006
Kindle book
library book
finished 3/28/13

20. Getting Old Is Murder - book 1 in the Gladdy Gold series
by Rita Lakin
mystery, 2005
Kindle book
library book
finished 3/26/13


My newest cozy mystery love. These books are so good. The author herself is older, so knows whereof she writes. And she's an excellent writer, with a long list of television writing credits to her name. More here. Gladdy Gold lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and along with her pals investigates deaths of older people. These deaths were assumed to be 'natural' because the victims were old. Not so. Snappy dialogue, good characters, inspirational and encouraging about people in their 70s, 80s, and 90s. 

19. 97 Orchard
An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement
by Jane Ziegelman
nonfiction, 2010
Kindle book
library book
finished 3/23/13


Such an interesting idea. The building is now the site of The Lower East Side Tenement Museum. I learned so much about the different nationalities who came to America in earlier days. Fascinating. Not a bit dry. The author brought the times and the people alive to me. Loved it. You can tour the museum online

18. Death of a Cozy Writer - book 1 in the St. Just series
by G.M. Malliet
mystery, 2008
Kindle book
library book
finished 3/17/13


I tried Malliet's Wicked Autumn, and couldn't get into it. But this one, a different series, was most appealing. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and plan to read the next ones.

Update: I tried the second in the series in May - Death and the Lit Chick, and couldn't get past the first few pages. Didn't like it at all.

17. Moon Over Manifest
by Clare Vanderpool
middle grade fiction, 2010
Kindle book
library book
finished 3/13/13


Have you heard of this Newbery winner? It is such a good story of an earlier time in US history. It is a book that goes back and forth between two periods, which I always love. More here.

16. Harry Lipkin, Private Eye
by Barry Fantoni
mystery 2012
Kindle book
library book
finished 3/8/13


I hope the author writes more about this older Floridian. He's a great character. I just read a very good review at Marys Library. Time was I would have thought it impossible for an 87 year old to have such a vibrant, full, interesting job and life, but now I know people in their 80s who are just like him. Bright, aware of and involved in current events, great readers, who have a social life much busier than my own.

15. Strong Poison
by Dorothy L. Sayers
mystery 1930
finished 3/1/13


How have I lived my life without ever reading or watching the Harriet Vane books in the Peter Wimsey series? There are beautiful new editions of the four books, and I'm buying them all! This was a slow, quiet book with such good writing. Oh, how I loved it. Then I watched the televised version with Edward Petherbridge as Wimsey and Harriet Walter as Harriet Vane. As perfect an adaptation as I've ever seen.

February - 3

14. Cabin: Two Brothers, A Dream, and Five Acres in Maine
by Lou Ureneck
nonfiction, 2011
Kindle book
library book
finished 2/18/13


Really enjoyed this book. I think he originally had a blog (gone now), and then wrote the book. Lots of interesting information about the natural world, and the process of building a house. More here.

I am amazed as I think about the fact that I read three non-fiction books set in Maine in three months without any plan whatsoever. They came available through the state's downloadable books, and I read them. Each different from the other.

13. Dear Enemy
by Jean Webster
fiction, 1915
Kindle book
finished 2/14/13

12. Daddy-Long-Legs
by Jean Webster
fiction, 1912
Kindle book
finished 2/10/13


Dear Enemy is a sequel to Daddy-Long-Legs. Both epistolary novels, though with different letter writers. I was so interested reading about life 100 years ago. When I was a girl I read about Jane Addams and Hull House. I was so impressed by it that I can still remember where the book was in my library. These books are set during that same Progressive Era in the US. Loved, loved, loved these books. I couldn't stop talking about them. They make one feel that all good things are possible.

January - 11

11. The Pigeon Pie Mystery
by Julia Stuart
fiction, 2012
Kindle book
library book
finished 1/30/13


Very unusual, in a good way. Some might say quirky. But I did enjoy it. Though the title says 'mystery' it is really a fiction book with a mystery inside. Fascinating idea that the King or Queen of England used to give apartments to people at Hampton Court.

10. The Story of Charlotte's Web
by Michael Sims
nonfiction, 2011
finished 1/30/13


As kindly a book as EB White himself. I love Charlotte's Web, and I loved reading about Mr. White, 'Andy.' The title is a tiny bit misleading since Charlotte's Web isn't really discussed until later in the book, but I am drawn to anything connected with the man so the whole book was fine for me.

9. The Man in the Brown Suit
by Agatha Christie
mystery, 1924
Kindle book
finished 1/21/13


Very early Agatha, and I so liked it. I love her spunky heroines. Romance and adventure. Great fun.

8. Why Didn't They Ask Evans?
by Agatha Christie
mystery, 1934
Kindle book
finished 1/19/13


One of my favorite Agatha books so far. And such a good title.

7. Miss Buncle's Book - book 1 in the Miss Buncle series
by D.E. Stevenson
fiction, 1934
reread (first read 2005)
Kindle book
library book
finished 1/17/13


Loved this, as I did the first time I read it. Miss B. writes a thinly disguised book about her own village. Great story. I so enjoy Stevenson's work.

6. Night Rounds - book 2 in the Inspector Irene Huss series
by Helene Tursten
mystery, 1999
English translation by Laura A. Wideburg 2012
library book (ILL)
finished 1/16/13


I do wish that Scandinavian and Icelandic publishers would get it together and bring the series books out in order. Story was okay. I'm not a fan of ghosts so didn't really enjoy that facet of the book. I'm not sure I'll read more of this author. Liked the first book, and the second one a tiny bit less only because it was quite grisly. Third I tried and couldn't go on because of subject matter.

5. Sad Cypress - an Hercule Poirot mystery
by Agatha Christie
mystery, 1940
Kindle book
finished 1/14/13


I had started this before and put it down thinking it was too dark, but this time I stayed with it, and it really wasn't. Another unique story from Agatha. Very interesting.

4. The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection - book 13 in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series
by Alexander McCall Smith
fiction, 2012
Kindle book
library book
finished 1/9/13

I am so happy in the company of Mma Ramotse et al. In this book, the author of Precious' guidebook for her work comes to Botswana. He is surprised at the esteem she feels for his book. Excellent, as always.

3. When We Were the Kennedys: a memoir from Mexico, Maine
by Monica Wood
nonfiction, 2012
Kindle book
library book
finished 1/5/13


This is a book I really loved. Beautifully written, honest story, has some similarities to Rick Bragg's The Most They Ever Had which I wrote about three years ago. It tells of a mill town, and a family trying to make it after the bread-winning father dies. More here. It is written about a time when there weren't very many families lacking one parent. I can't praise it highly enough. Wonderful.

2. An Impartial Witness - book 2 in the Bess Crawford series
by Charles Todd
mystery, 2010
Kindle book
library book
finished 1/4/13


I liked this as I did the first in the series. But there's something lacking and I can't put my finger on what it is. I skipped the third because the setting was too gloomy. May read fourth. May not.

1. A Box of Matches
by Nicholson Baker
fiction, 2003
finished 1/1/13


Very so so, yet I finished it. Odd book. I think men might like it more than women. Don't think I'll read any more of his work.

December - 11

73. Elsewhere
by Richard Russo
nonfiction, 2012
Kindle book
library book
finished 12/27/12

I did finish this book, which says I didn't dislike it entirely, but I wasn't all that fond of it either. Sad story of a mother with mental issues which weren't recognized as such, or understood, in the time of author's childhood. I felt that attending to his mother took precedence over his wife and children. Not an easy book.

72,  Murder in the Calais Coach (US title for Murder on the Orient Express)
by Agatha Christie
mystery, 1934
finished 12/26/12

I have somehow managed to live all these years not knowing the plot of this most famous mystery, and I found it fascinating. Really enjoyed this book.

71. Curse of the Pogo Stick - book 5 in the Siri Paiboun series
by Colin Cotterill
mystery, 2008
Kindle book
library book
finished 12/26/12

This might be my favorite in the series with its focus on the Hmong people. Began the next one, but was didn't like it enough to finish. Tried the one after that, and somehow just felt I had spent enough time there. Might go back to the series someday.

70. A Duty to the Dead - book 1 in the Bess Crawford series
by Charles Todd
mystery, 2009
Kindle book
library book
finished 12/21/12

I liked this, though it has a tone, a feeling about it that didn't draw me in.

69. The Four-Pools Mystery
by Jean Webster
mystery, 1907
Kindle book
finished 12/16/12

Very interesting portrayal of life in the south after the Civil War. When I was a girl, forty years after an event seemed like forever, but now forty years ago is no time at all.

68. Anarchy and Old Dogs - book 4 in the Siri Paiboun series
by Colin Cotterill
mystery, 2007
Kindle book
library book
finished 12/12/12

Old dogs, as in 'you can't teach an old dog new tricks.' Siri is in his seventies, and lives in a Laos that isn't what he hoped for in his younger days. It is sure not a place and time I'd like to live in. Very good book.
67. A Lesson in Secrets - book 8 in the Maisie Dobbs series
by Jacqueline Winspear
mystery, 2011
finished 12/11/12

I loved this book. Maisie goes undercover in a college. Gives good sense of political climate of the time.

66. Disappeared
by Anthony Quinn
mystery, 2012
Kindle book
finished 12/8/12

I really liked this first mystery set in Northern Ireland. This is a part of the world, I like learning about. On my father's side, I'm of Scots-Irish lineage. You may read more at the author's website. I'm hoping there will be a series.

65. Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers
by Kathi Appelt
illustrated by Joy Fisher Hein
children's book, 2005
finished 12/5/12

Wrote about this here.

64. Disco for the Departed - book 3 in the Siri Paiboun series
by Colin Cotterill
mystery, 2006
Kindle book
library book
finished 12/4/12

I do like the 'other-worldly' elements to these books. The idea of dead people meeting and dancing is quite wonderful.

63. Outsider in Amsterdam - book 1 in the Amsterdam Cops series
by Janwillem van de Wetering
mystery, 1975
library book
finished 12/1/12

Not like any mystery I've read before. Gives good sense of mid-seventies life. I like the detectives, and want to read more.

28 comments:

  1. Gosh, you ave been busy reading - some interesting titles there I think.

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    Replies
    1. Lots of variety, that's for sure. :<)

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  2. I love Rita Lakin's Gladdy Gold books. I've read 5 of them, but I think there is at least one more. Is she still writing them? I wrote her a note and told her that she did Alzheimer's very well. Didn't hear back from her though.

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    Replies
    1. That's too bad you didn't hear back.
      If you go here, you may see a list of her books:
      http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/l/rita-lakin/
      There are seven. She has written a couple of other non-Gladdy books more recently.

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  3. Thanks for listing, Nan - but my wishlist is long enough now! Still will have to read the Gladdy Golds if I can get hold of them though.

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  4. Goodness, I need to write some of these down as quite a few sound very good indeed, psrticularly the Gladdy Gold series. I enjoyed the Jean Webster books very much when I read them several years back.

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    1. Weren't the Jean W. books just wonderful?!

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  5. I love Sayers and Christie! The book about E. B. White sounds interesting. I loved Russo's Nobody's Fool, but haven't read any of his other books...

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    Replies
    1. So nice to see you! I'm with you on S & C. If you like E.B. White, the man and writer, I think you will enjoy this book. I did read Nobody's Fool years ago, but I think I liked the movie better. :<)

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  6. Sounds like you've been reading some great stories!!!

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  7. I haven't read the Harriet Fane books in decades. Must hunt them out in my shelves. I remember loving the one that is before their marriage, can't remember the name. And Busman's Holiday was a favorite Sayers book of mine.

    I've tried Richard Russo, just not happy while reading them. Too many other books that make me happy. I love anything about E.B. White. I have his wife's book on gardening and I have one about them by their secretary that I've read many times just to visit that dear man.

    I've never heard of Gladdy Gold and will jot that down on my book list.

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    Replies
    1. You may see the new Bourbon Street covers here:
      http://poesdeadlydaughters.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-immortal-harriet-vane.html
      I so love them.
      Maybe RR is more a 'man's writer??'
      I'm quite sure you will like the Sims book.
      And you will love Gladdy and her crew.

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  8. Wonderful list! Several books are now on request at my library.
    I am looking forward to digging into them.
    hugs,
    Niki

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    Replies
    1. So nice to hear from you! I see your blog is closed now. I'll miss reading it.

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  9. Goodness, Nan, what a lot of reading you have done. Thank you for sharing your list here; some I know, some I've heard of, some new, and all enticing. We are always looking for books for our book group. I may just print this out for quick reference. Don't you just love the way spring pushes through leaves?

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    1. That's so great that you might print it out!

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  10. My goodness, what a list. I think we share the same likings. There are some there, which I am not familiar with and one I'd like to pass on to you. Have you tried the Agatha Raisin books? They are light reading, mysteries and very enjoyable to pick up and put down.

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    1. I have tried AR, but couldn't read her. Just didn't like the character. I have, however read the Hamish Macbeth books, and enjoy them immensely.

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  11. What an awesome list of books you've been reading,Nan! I've read the Jean Webster - loved Daddy-Long-Legs as a girl! The Dorothy Sayers, and most of the Agatha Christies long ago. I think I might wnat to reread them again, to refresh my memory. How lovely that you didn't know the plot of The Orient Express until getting to read the book! I have the first books in the Colin Cotteril, Charles Todd, and Helen Tursten series on my shelf to read. I have to get back to the Precious and Maisie series, I'm way behind now! So glad you enjoyed most of what you read, too. That is so satisfying, isn't it?

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    1. Loved reading this! Thanks for responses.

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  12. Oh, Nan - such a l-o-n-g post and so much I want to respond to!

    Your 2012 reading: have added Disappeared to my TBR list; just read the first of the Dr. Siri books and have decided it's not for me, too much mysticism; do like Bess Crawford but know what you mean about something missing. Perhaps it is that Bess has lived a privileged life. Maisie Dobbs really is the best series with a heroine of this era.

    2013 Reading:
    I am also "so happy in the company of Mme Ramotse" (and what a charming way to phrase that!) Thanks for the reminder to get reading some more of this series.

    A couple of years ago I also read several early Christies: The Man in the Brown Suit, Why Didn't They Ask Evans? (aka The Boomerang Clue), Sad Cypress (I had the same initial reaction you did) - and enjoyed them all. And, yes, everyone really should know the plot of Murder on the Orient Express (I loved Ingrid Bergman in the movie, but there were so many stars who were good!)

    These I already had on my TBR list but have moved up due to your recommendation: Miss Buncle's Book, 97 Orchard (THANK YOU for the link to the museum), The Pigeon Pie Mystery, and Daddy-Long-Legs.

    Yes - I thought Moon Over Manifest was wonderful. http://www.exurbanis.com/archives/7377#manifest Newbery Medal winners are consistently good, I find.

    And, finally, am going to add both Harry Lipkin and Gladdy Gold to my PI TBRs!!

    Thanks for the opinions, recommendations & overview of your reading!

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    1. And I thank you for taking the time to respond! The Boomerang Clue?? Oh, I so like Evans better! :<) The 97 Orchard was a wonderful way to read about early NYC, and how different cultures brought their own foods and lifestyles. I think you'll like all the ones you want to read.

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  13. Saved this post on purpose until I got a little caught up on too many TBRs.... So many good suggestions (and enjoyed your thoughts on the few I'd already read).....- I'm going directly to the Library and Amazon sites to order some of these..and am bookmarking this post for future. Thanks so much, so glad you're back. (Oddly, the two new series I learned about here are both set in Florida; how could I not have read about them already. Not so surprisingly, they're both about older people! Lots of us here!)

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    1. When I visited Sarasota in 1999, I found it delightful to see older people (probably my age now!) working at the Gap.

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  14. Well this is a HUGH surprise. You are still blogging. This is great. Hope you've been doing well Nan.

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    1. I should have let you know. I sort of quietly came back. :<)

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I am changing how I post your much appreciated comments. Since I began the blog, I've waited to post them until I had the opportunity to respond. Sometimes that has taken a while, so I've decided to moderate them and post them as soon as possible, and then I'll respond when I get a chance. Please do come back because I will answer all your notes to me.
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