Friday, June 28, 2013

June Reading

I had such a good month of reading. Every book was a winner.

37. The Penderwicks - book 1 in the Penderwicks series
A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy

by Jeanne Birdsall
middle grade fiction, 2005
Kindle book
library book
finished 6/27/13




I bought this book six years ago, and actually made note of it here on the blog. I began reading it, and didn't continue. I don't know why. I gave my copy to the library book sale. When I saw it available to borrow from the state library's downloadable books I thought I'd try it again. I'm so very happy I did. Let it be a lesson to me. I loved this book. It had an old-fashioned feel to it, and actually reminded me of the Trixie Belden book (see below) a bit. There is a strong, happy family. There's a boy who is in need of support. And there's a country setting. The book exhibits such kindness between four sisters, whose mother had died a few years ago. The older girls miss her, while the youngest never really knew her. The father is one of those wonderful, gentle types who lives mostly in his studies, in this case botany. But he is most loving and wise when it comes to his girls. In this book, the family rents a cottage for a few weeks in the summer, and has many adventures. Nothing bad happens, though the boy has a somewhat difficult family situation which he overcomes in quite a fine manner. I thought the writing was great, the characters well-drawn, and the story just perfect. I'm happy there are two more ahead for me to read, and I hope there are more coming.

36. Lady Molly of Scotland Yard
by Baroness Orczy
mystery, 1910
Kindle book
finished 6/23/13



I didn't love Lady Molly as much as The Old Man in the Corner but I did still enjoy it immensely. I got tired of the narrator always calling Molly 'my dear lady' but other than that, the mysteries were great, the solver a genius, the solutions unique. As with the other book, this is a collection of stories.

35. Father and Son - book 2 in the LS9 series
by John Barlow
mystery, 2013
Kindle book
finished 6/23/13



In my experience it is rare to find a modern-day mystery/detective fiction/thriller that doesn't objectify women in some way. Father and Son does not. John Barlow's women, and his men, are people not types. He doesn't feature vulgar descriptions of women's bodies, dead or alive. That alone would recommend the book. As much as our main character John Ray would like to keep himself separate from his criminal father, he can't. Now his dad is in a nursing home, and the man John visits is not dangerous, nor is he the cheerful, exuberant father he once knew. But though Tony Ray has lost his strength and power, the past doesn't go away. At one point John thinks, Will this never end? And the answer of course is no. We cannot forget. We have to come to terms with both the good and bad. I'm finding it hard to say much about the book in terms of characters and details because there really is a terrific, and surprising, story here that I don't want to spoil. Is it enough to just say that this is a good tale, well told? I was so pleased when the author emailed me to say it was available, and now I eagerly wait for the next. There are to be nine in the series. 

And here's something really fun! Guess who has a blurb about Hope Road in the 'Praise for Hope Road' section of this book. Yep, me! Along with many others, of course. It was quite a surprise and thrill for me to read:
I don't know when I've read anything quite so visual. Hope Road would make a great [TV] program. Letters from a Hill Farm. 
Here is my review of Hope Road.

Just now it is available only as an ebook, but my guess is it won't be long before there are great print editions of both these books. John Barlow wrote to me and said:
The novel is exclusive to Amazon at the moment, but I'm happy for you to tell readers that I will mail anyone an ePub version if they forward me a purchase confirmation email for a Kindle edition. I checked with Amazon and they're OK with this, and think it is a reasonable compromise. 
His address may be found here.

34. The Golden Calf - book 5 in the Inspector Huss series
by Helene Tursten
mystery, 2003; English translation by Laura A. Wideburg 2013
Kindle book
library book
finished 6/18/13



The last Tursten book I read wasn't a big hit with me, but still I wanted to continue reading her. This book was more like the first one in that we see the really hard, long work that goes into a police investigation. The title is odd, but here is its meaning:
The press often called Philip Bergman "the Golden Calf." His name came from his phenomenal ability to attract investors without needing to lift a finger. Everyone had fought to have the chance to dance around the Golden Calf.
We get a look at the time of dot com failures, and people who make and then lose loads of money. Very good story. A life in the police is not an easy one. The job must always come first. 

33. Sins of the Fathers - book 2 in the Chief Inspector Wexford series
by Ruth Rendell
mystery, 1967
library book (ILL)
finished 6/15/13



I continue to be wowed by Ruth Rendell. She writes like no one else. The reader gets to know her policemen very slowly, just as it would be in real life. I like that. The story in this book is that the son of a minister is going to marry a young woman whose father was hung for murdering someone. The girl insists he didn't do it because her mother told her so. The minister, much to his chagrin, is worried about the tendencies of this girl. Is murder in the blood? Anyway, the son asks the father to look into this murder from sixteen years ago. It was interesting to read about parent - child relationships in the 1960s, and I thought there was an excellent solution to the crime.

32. The Secret of the Mansion - book 1 in the Trixie Belden series
by Julie Campbell
middle grade mystery, 1948
Kindle book
library book
finished 6/9/13



I don't know how I missed Trixie Belden in my childhood, but I never read any of the books about her. I read Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames but that's it. If you are interested in these series books from an older time, there are a couple great sites here and here.
It was Kiirstin's review of The Secret of the Mansion which led me to borrow it from the library's downloadable books.  I liked it even better than she did, and in fact, I'm quite sure I may say I loved it. I enjoyed every minute of my time within the pages of this book. Trixie's family is stellar. Simply wonderful parents, a goofy younger brother, and two older ones we don't meet because they are away at summer camp. The book offers one of the older themes of literature - that living in the country can strengthen one's health and mind. The kids in this book really live. No electronic screens. They're outdoors all the time. Trixie does important work in the household, both indoors and out, as well as taking care of her brother sometimes. Trixie's parents love and support her, yet let her be on her own to make her own mistakes and learn from them. Trixie is by no means perfect. She does things she shouldn't and often pays the price. There are horses, and a dog who runs free. And in the middle of all this is a plot about a creepy, falling-down old place, a young boy who moves in, a young girl who has everything but fun. We read of real problems: a man so saddened and guilt-ridden by his wife's death that he becomes a hoarding hermit; a boy whose mother has died, and who runs away from a step-father who beats him; and a girl whose parents are very rich but seldom home. Her nanny/governess is the one who is there for her every minute. There is suspense and fun, and the book ends with a lure to the next one in the series. I thought it was just great. There's a nice piece here about the history of the series and the author. It was fun to learn that her childhood home was the basis for Trixie's own Crabapple Farm.

31 comments:

  1. I have a copy of THE PENDERWICKS hanging around somewhere in my apartment, too. I've read about 50 pages, but put it down... you've inspired me to pick it up again and see what I'm missing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are such nice girls; each one an individual with her own personality. I hope you enjoy it as I did on the second try.

      Delete
  2. I think I have the Penderwicks on my to-read list, and how you describe the book here makes me want to nudge it more towards the top of the list. I hadn't heard of Lady Molly and would like to look into that book (I've also never read the Scarlet Pimpernel, but it made it's way on my Classics Club Challenge list, so maybe soon I will).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've not read the SP and probably won't but I do enjoy her detecting books. Orczy should be way more famous.

      Delete
  3. I loved Trixie Belden even more than I loved Nancy Drew growing up. So glad you've made her acquaintance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She's a great character - not perfect by any means, but still a girl with good intentions. And that countryside is wonderful. I'd love to have ridden horses there when I was a girl.

      Delete
  4. Oh, and if you haven't read them yet (although they are older titles so perhaps you have), I thought the Penderwicks worked nicely as summer reading with Gone-Away Lake and the Edward Eager books about magic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've not read G-AL, and just the first magic book. I did like it, and should read some more. And then there are the Melendys. Love that family too. And have you ever read the All-of-a-Kind Family series by Sydney Taylor? Wonderful, wonderful books.

      Delete
  5. Thanks for these recommendations
    I love your header pic, what a beautiful place to sit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm still hoping to read some of the Welsh titles you told me about. I wrote them all down.

      Delete
  6. I love when every book is a winner (rarely happens though). Ruth Rendell is usually very good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It mostly happens to me because I ditch the ones I don't like. :<) I wonder if you've written about her. I'll search your blog and see. I'm so interested in this Wexford series.

      Delete
  7. It's been a few years since I read The Penderwicks (reviewed here) and I appreciate the reminder to give the follow-up book a try later this summer.

    I read a few Trixie Belden books back when I was a young girl, probably when I was in 5th or 6th grade. I found a couple at a used bookstore many years ago and planned to give them a read, but as it goes, something else has always caught my attention first. Might be fun to read with my granddaughter...

    And what fun to see your blurb in a book! And your pretty header. Love your header, Nan. Such a lush, green yard. Very inviting with the table and chairs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just went and read your review. Boy did we feel differently about it! But isn't that the way we mostly are. And yet, still great friends!
      It probably depends on the parents how much kids from 4-12 are on screens.
      I'm going to try and find some print copies of Trixie Belden. I'd like to see the old ones, not reprints, but the originals.
      I fear I didn't do Mr Barlow's second book justice, since I'm just writing monthly book notes now, but honestly I love both his books.
      It really is very lush. It seems to rain almost every day. :<)

      Delete
    2. Yes, we rarely agree on the books we've read, but we're still wonderful friends. :)

      Let me know which TB books you find. Maybe I'll read one along with you. Never know. It may be a hit with both of us. )

      Delete
    3. Actually it begins with the choices. We rarely even read the same books, but when we do, I think we mostly agree. It's so very interesting. Whereas with music, we almost always agree!!

      Delete
  8. When I was 10-12 years old, I did read some Trixie Belden books (back then, in the German translation), and liked them well enough, just not enough to want to read the entire series.
    The Penderwicks and John Barlow I've looked up on Amazon now, and will put the kindle editions on my wish list.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do think you'll like Hope Road and Father and Son. He tells a good story.

      Delete
  9. Nan, great reviews and thanks for the intro to new Children's authors! Have gotten the Penderwicks on ebook for my granddaughter from the library! I'm looking forward to reading John Barlow!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, thanks! I know you will like the Barlow books. As I said to Les, I fear I didn't do this book justice, but it is really a great story.

      Delete
  10. I loved Trixie Belden too and am so glad you admire her. How I wish I'd saved my old copies. Time to get reacquainted with them. I've never read any of the other books you mentioned. Not even Ruth Redell although I've heard her name for years. I must give her a try. Not too gory, I hope? I'm past my blood and gore days!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. RR isn't too gory. Very psychological stories. Serious. But I've read only two so far, so I can't say definitely.

      Delete
  11. I loved the Penderwicks - have you read The Exiles by Hilary McKay? Another sweet family series.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't and I thank you for the suggestion. I looked it up (and saw there are sequels!) and it sounds great.

      Delete
  12. Nan I've had the same experience with THE PENDERWICKS, though I haven't fully read it yet. I have the hardcover which I bought a few years ago. It's on my TBR list officially after reading your wonderful post.

    I'm also going to get my hands on the John Barlow book and the Trixie Belden book. I don't remember ever reading any Trixie Belden when I was a kid. But it sounds like just the sort of thing for a nice lazy summer day. I'm also going to be attempting my first Enid Blyton which I downloaded for peanuts from Amazon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know why I wasn't interested the first few pages I read earlier, but I sure loved it this time. So eager to read the next two.
      SO glad you're going to get the John Barlow book. As I wrote to others, I don't think I did this one justice. It is very, very good. And Trixie is so enjoyable. We listened to The Far Away Tree on tape with our kids when we were driving in England, and it is one of our fondest memories. I own a couple other Blyton books. I'll be interested to read what you read and what you think of it.

      Delete
  13. Love your header now, it's hard to imagine it all covered in snow with it all so bosky now.
    Carole

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had to look up 'bosky' - you make me smarter!!

      Delete
  14. I read The Penderwicks a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it, kind of like time travel back to a simpler time. I don't remember reading many Trixie Belden in my younger years either. Might be fun to revisit in summer when I spent so many hours of my childhood reading in the basement (where it was cool & quiet). I've only read the first Inspector Huss mystery but need to look for more. I've loved your spring/summer photos.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really is like that, isn't it. Though I think there are kids who still play outdoors. I sure hope so. I used to read in the cellar too. It was (mostly) finished with a linoleum floor. And it was cool in the summer.
      Huss is a good character. In this book she acknowledges that she takes her husband for granted. He really does do most of the family related work.
      I'm pleased you like the pics. Everything is so beautiful just now.

      Delete
    2. Our basement was the laundry area and still had uncovered concrete floor back then, I think, because we roller skated there in winter. I would set up a holding cot down there and read under the ceiling light in the summer. Now the basement in my childhood home has been "refined" with indoor/outdoor carpet in the laundry area, which has cabinets and sink, extra refrigerator, pantry, ironing board, plus a seating area off the garage with a sofa where readers could now hide out.

      Delete

I am really going to try and respond to your comments as soon as they come in! Please do come back if you've asked a question.
Also, you may comment on any post, no matter how old, and I will see it.