Tuesday, 1 July 2008

May/June books round up

Recent acquisitions...

I keep hoping that I will get back into my stride after a difficult spring, in which there has been even less time for writing than I expected, but each time I say that normal service will shortly be resumed there has been a setback. There have been a further two in the past week and, once again, I don't really know what the immediate future will hold - very trying, as I like my routine. However, a brief round-up of books read and challenges un-met is in order now.

The Red House Mystery was my contribution to the Obscure Book Challenge. I was very pleased with my choice, and will post about it in the next few days.

My reading for the Canadian Book Challenge suffered badly earlier in the year, but I have managed to catch up a little, with seven books completed and posted on. Thanks are due to Steve Zipp for sending me a copy of the intriguing Yellowknife, which I really enjoyed. And thanks also to John for hosting the challenge. I'm looking forward to the second, and my choice of books will be the subject of my next post. I had hoped I might have time to complete an eighth book over the weekend, Douglas Coupland's The Gum Thief. About half-way into it, I decided that it would go on hold for the time being – too great an identification with Coupland's dysfunctional families being less than ideal for me at the moment, as I find myself brooding on our fragile hold on mortality.

I'm way behind, too, on posts for the Young Adult Challenge, though I have actually read 6 books. I'll try to keep up for the second half of year, though.

For the Anything Agatha Challenge, which ran until the end of this month, I have completed and posted about three books. To celebrate the end of the challenge we watched Marple: At Bertram's Hotel last night; I find Geraldine McEwan's portrayal of Miss Marple too birdlike, too spry. The trouble with television adaptations which follow a really good version is that they introduce quirks to make them different. We should have watched Joan Hickson instead.

I'm equally behind on the Short Story Challenge, but there's still time to rectify that, as it runs throughout 2008 and, while I have given up on the Graphic Novel Challenge, since trying to complete it was making me feel a bit pressured, I am still making my way slowly through my planned reading; my younger son went off with a pile of it, too, but it will come back eventually, and the site offers a means of finding others I might like to read, which was the point of starting it in the first place.

Below are the books read in May and June. I've linked to those I've already written about here, and those in bold I plan to post about over the coming month. I have reluctantly conceded that I don't have time to write posts about everything I read, which was my intention when I started this blog. I meant to write at least a few lines on anything I completed, but I find it hard to keep to that. On occasion, I post a brief comment on Library Thing.

Thanks are due to Susie Vereker for suggesting that I might like Hazel Holt's genteel mysteries – I do, very much – and I warmly recommend Susie's own book Pond Lane and Paris, which was delightful company on my last Devon trip; it's so pleasant to read about grown-up people with whom one can identify. Very much in the Mary Wesley mould, but a little more plausible!

(If I haven't highlighted a title here, it doesn't mean that I won't write about it, but just that it's not at the moment on the list of posts that I have committed myself to.)

  • My Turn to Make the Tea by Monica Dickens
  • The Gum Thief by Douglas Coupland
  • The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith
  • The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne
  • The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
  • Saplings by Noel Streatfeild
  • Pond Lane and Paris by Susie Vereker
  • Zoology by Ben Dolnick
  • Pelagia and the White Bulldog by Boris Akunin
  • The Good Good Pig by Sy Montgomery
  • The Tomb of the Golden Bird by Elizabeth Peters
  • The Remains of an Altar by Phil Rickman
  • Love on the Borders by Martin Bax
  • Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
  • Yellowknife by Steve Zipp
  • Salal by Laurie Ricou
  • A Death in the Family by Hazel Holt
  • The Private Lives of Pippa Lee by Rebecca Miller
  • The River at Green Knowe by Lucy M. Boston
  • The House of Arden by E. Nesbit
  • A Dubious Legacy by Mary Wesley
  • Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
  • The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
  • Before Lunch by Angela Thirkell
  • The Angel in the Corner by Monica Dickens


  1. Thank you very much, GC. Delighted you enjoyed Pond Lane and Paris.

    But I haven't read any Hazel Holt. The book I suggested was the Costa-winning The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney, which is set in Canada even though the author has never been there. I don't know what Canadians think but I reckoned it was a good read.

  2. Sorry, I now see your earlier reply a couple of days ago, in which you say you have already read and blogged about The Tenderness of Wolves.

  3. Hello, Geranium Cat!
    Just saw a mention of Hazel Holt and pricked up my ears, cat-like, as you do ... I know Hazel, indeed, I interviwed here for Exmoor - The Country Magazine and I have read each and every one of her 'cozy' crime novels featuring retired academic amateur sleuth, Sheila Malory, which are real page-turners. So glad we share a delight in these books, best read with a saucer of cream to lap up!
    I also enjoy Susie Vereker's novels, and hope she will have a third one published sooner rather than later.
    Margaret Powling

  4. Huge apologies to you both! It was Margaret who suggested Hazel Holt - so thank you very much, Margaret, I shall be reading my way through them all, I expect.

  5. What did you think of Sorcery and Cecilia and The Remains of an Altar? I really love the Merrily Watkins books and keep giving them to other people to read, with mixed results. Surprising to me, because I love the mix of faith and religion and ghosts. and I really enjoy the Sorcery and Cecilia books - I have to get the third, but devoured the other two. I think the first one is my favourite.

    I haven't read Hazel Holt yet but she is on my shelf to read (my mother enjoyed her too). I might have to pick up the Tenderness of Wolves just so I can tell everyone what a Canadian thinks!! :-)

    Sorry things have been so hectic for you, too. It seems to have been a difficult spring for many people, myself healthwise. I'm so glad it's summer!

  6. Susan, I want to write about Sorcery and Cecelia, I really enjoyed it. Remains on an Altar is exactly what you'd hope for from a Merrily Watkins book, I simply can't put them down.