Sunday, October 25, 2020

Summer Reading Wrap

Well, if there's one thing summer and Covid precautions combined will do for a person, it's ramp up the reading time! Here are a few I've enjoyed this past summer as I work my way toward my goal of 60!

 

 In "The Bookseller," author Mark Pryor follows an American detective associated with the U.S. embassy in Paris as he tracks the disappearance and possibly murder of one of his favorite bouquinistes in the City of Lights. What did the man know that made his life so valuable? I found it well written and of course with a Paris theme, much to love! I would read more by Mark Pryor.

Ann Hood's "Kitchen Yarns" is a collection of essays related to food and to the author's life. She includes many of her favorite family recipes, most of which look very good and pretty easy to make. 

Blogger Erika introduced me to the "Ruth Galloway" mysteries by Elly Griffiths. I read several of these this summer and two more are on the pile! Set in northern England, Ruth is a forensic archaeologist, specializing in very old bones. Needless to say, one who can identify bones can often get mixed up in murder. They are very atmospheric and while contemporary, have a historic focus, given the archaeological slant.

 I also read several books by Donna Leon. Her Commissario Guido Brunetti books are set in Paris Venice (thanks, Mae!) and combine intricate mysteries with a delightful narrative. Oh, when Guido and his wife Paola dine, you'll be wanting to cook Italian food too. (No recipes included, darn it!) The mysteries are complex and I've yet to figure one out but they are most intriguing. I've never been to Venice, but Guide makes me think about putting it on the itinerary.

"Every Contact Leaves a Trace" is another mystery (I love mysteries!) and this one is set on the grounds of Worcester College, Oxford. A husband and wife, both former students if the college, attend a reunion, but when the wife is murdered, her husband is caught in a mystery that draws in former students and tutors and even his wife's godmother. 

Rhys Bowen's "Royal Spyness" mysteries are an easy, fast read. After reading something heavy and you want something to breeze through, these are fun. Set in the 1930s, "Crowned and Dangerous" finds Lady Georgina's surprise elopement derailed when her beau's father is arrested for murder. As he goes to attend to it, Georgie returns to London but realizes she can't leave him to the case alone. It's just fun. 

 I usually love everything Ann Patchett writes. But I didn't love "Commonwealth." It follows the children of two families whose lives are disrupted when they become blended following their parents' divorces. The book follows them through time. You may love the saga. I was just bored and didn't much like the kids. Ann can do better.

 Back to mysteries. Why did I wait so long to read Josephine Tey's "The Daughter of Time"? This one reads like history in its way. Detective Adam Grant is in the hospital and in traction and as his friends bring him books and things to occupy his time, he becomes intrigued by a portrait of Richard III, England's king noted for the murder of the princes in the tower. But Grant is not so sure Richard is guilty and sets out to prove his thesis. I loved it. 

 

 If you watched the original "Grantchester" series on PBS, you'll have met Canon Sydney Chambers and his Cambridge police detective buddy, Geordie. The series was based on James Runcie's books and this summer I read two of them. The books take the series far beyond the episodes seen and read more like fiction than a regular mystery -- and yet, something is always happening and Geordie almost always needs Sydney to help solve the case. These are fun.


"Mudlarking" by Lara Maiklem may have been one of the more fascinating summer reads. Maiklem is a mudlark, one who goes digging through the mud when the tide is out on the Thames, searching for treasures of times past. This book follows her adventures at various sites on the river and combines her seeking and finding with history of the river and its people. It is intriguing and while I might not be wanting to dig in the mud with her, I'm was fascinated and learned plenty!


I learned a lot from "The Wild Remedy" by Emma Mitchell, too. Mitchell lives in England and like many must deal with the depression that comes from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Her lifesaving antidote is to dig deep into nature, following the cycles of the seasons with the eye of an acute observer and then recording her impressions both in words and through art. The book takes readers through a calendar year -- through her most glorious moments and most troubled times. It is exquisitely illustrated.


I have to say I was quite disappointed in Julian Fellowes' period novel, "Belgravia." It has recently been made a mini-series. I didn't watch. I could hardly get through the book. The premise is that a young woman becomes pregnant by her finacee right before he leaves for war in the mid-1800s. He is a nobleman and she is the daughter of a well-to-do merchant -- a fine woman but not for a man of his standing. The plot involves the hiding of the pregnancy from his family after he is killed in the war. Two families are brought together over another generation in a story of manipulative family politics. Julian ("Downton Abbey") can do better.


Two of the books I greatly enjoyed were from the British Crime Library classcs series. Both are closed-doors or "locked room" mysteries, books where the murder has occurred in a room in which there is only one exit -- and no one was seen entering or leaving. "The Division Bell Mystery, " by Ellen Wilkinson (herself a member of Parliament) is set in England's Parliament. "It Walks by Night," by John Dickson Carr, is set in Paris. And "Death Has Deep Roots" by Michael Gilbert is yet another that did not disappoint. I have to say, I love the British Library Crime Classics. Some of the writing may be a bit dated, but the plots are always intriguing. (And they have fabulous covers!)

 
And finally, "Love and Ruin" is a fictional biography. This is a genre I have a love-hate relationship. I love biography and this story of journalist Martha Gellhorn and her relationship with Ernest Hemingway is interesting. I'm sure it's quite well researched (it's author, Paula McLain, also wrote "The Paris Wife," about Hemingway's first wife.) But still... where is the line between fiction and the real deal? I considered it an excellent intro to Gellhorn and would like to read a "real" biography of her.

 

Most all of these I would recommend. Meanwhile, my stack is very large indeed.

I won't be short of reading material during our next lockdown!

Sharing with:    Pink Saturday     /     Let's Keep in Touch    

46 comments:

Pam Richardson said...

Jeanie, you have been busy reading, which is definitely one of my favorite pastimes. Thank you for sharing your reviews on what you have read. Happy Sunday!

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

You are a prolific reader - it's always fun to see what's in your reading stack.

Mae Travels said...

You just added two books to my amazon wish list (which I use for my own planning, not to make any gift suggestions to friends!) Thank you.

And I have an add for you

"Brunetti's Cookbook"
by Roberta Pianaro and Donna Leon

Many recipes from the earlier books in the series! Note: you typed "Paris" when you meant "Venice" in your summary of the series. As you know, I'm a big fan! And I agree that Ann Patchett has done better than "Commonwealth" -- especially the most recent one, "The Dutch House." Finally: I don't trust Rhys Bowen because she's very sloppy on food history research! I'm never reading another of her books.

be well... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Martha said...

You've read lots of good ones! I started the year off with the goal of 52 books in 52 weeks. I was already at 20 books read when Covid came around. I haven't been able to concentrate on reading since unfortunately. Happy reading Jeanie :)

Laurie said...

You and I have the same choice in books! I’ve read a couple of these and have now added the rest to my list! If we lived closer I’m quite certain you and I would become real life friends quickly lol, we both paint, craft , cook, love the outdoors, yup, thank you for the book suggestions! I’m Audio commenting so hopefully no surprise auto correct,,,

Linda Sue said...

Thank you so much, some of those look like they would be right up my alley! We have loads of books to read here but most have been ordered by Dennis from the evil Amazon - political books- no escape! Because my vision is compromised I have to be sure that what I am reading is worth the physical effort!

ashok said...

Great list of books!

DUTA said...

It should be interesting to read the diary of how Nature helps us. I believe in Nature's remedies.

Joanne Huffman said...

I always love your book reviews. You have given me many ideas (and one happy memory - I may have to reread The Daughter of Time, which I enjoyed over 40 years ago).

Jenny Woolf said...

Looking at your photo of your bookshelf, I thought there were so many that I'd like to take off the shelf and read. Thanks for your reviews and comments. I'm getting to enjoy old fashioned detective stories too. One on your shelf which also caught my eye was "Big Sky" I have enjoyed many of Kate Atkinson's books, though I definitely like the Jackson Brodie ones the best.. so I'll look forward to your review of that.

Barb said...

You've been busy Jeanie! I've been reading some mystery/thrillers too. I made note of some of your titles to put on my own list.

R's Rue said...

Send Belgravia my way.

Valerie-Jael said...

Reading is a good way to pass the time. In this year I have already read 209 books, and there's still 2 months to go! Have a good, new week, Valerie

creativeseconds.com said...

Wow ~ You have completed a lot of books this summer ~ That's great! and you have a large stack ready to still read which is nice ~ Enjoy cuddling under a blanket with something warm to drink ~ Love, Karen

Susan Kane said...

Great stack of books there. Happy reading!!

The House at sea's end---that would suit me just fine.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I really loved ‘Commonwealth’ but I think I was drawn in by what mysterious thing happened that keeps getting alluded to but nothing revealed for quite awhile. I also read it was sort of autobiographical as Ann’s parents divorced so she was part of a blended family. But not every book is for everyone! I bet you would like ‘The Dutch House’! I have been on a reading tear this year - just finished my 80th book. I don’t think I will top last year though (105). But I have read a lot of wonderful books. The library was closed for several months in the spring but I was able to read a bunch of ebooks during that time and now that it’s open, I have a steady stream of physical books becoming available. So my reading life is good!

Joyful said...

There is a lot on your list that appeal to me. I'm going to have to return and add them to my already very long list of 'want to reads'. Have a wonderful week Jeanie.

Misadventures of Widowhood said...

You sure are reading a better class of books than I am. Looks like some good ones in that batch.

anno said...

Thanks, Jeanie! My TBR stack could use a little refresh (if I'm seriously considering re-reading The Age of Innocence, I know I'm in trouble), and this has done the trick!

Buttercup said...

Enjoyed seeing your reading. Love Elly Griffiths and I wish this series was longer. Mudlarking is on my infinite to read list. Thanks for great suggestions.

Iris Flavia said...

Oh, Jeanie, you cannot do this!! I have too many books already and you make me wanna add even more!

Rustic Pumpkin said...

I love seeing the selections of others. Sadly, I am a very slow reader and 60 books would take me over a year, and then some! I wonder how many you will read in the long days of Winter ahead of us?

Stay safe and well!
Deb in Wales

eileeninmd said...

Hello Jeanie,

I see many I would like to add to my list at the library, I hope they have them available. I love the mysteries, thanks for sharing your list and reviews. Take care, enjoy your day! Wishing you a happy new week!

crackercrumblife said...

What a great list of summer reading! I have been wanting to read a few of these, The Wild Remedy and Mudlarking. I am glad to hear they were good! And the Elly Griffiths series sounds like one I would really like as well.

Stay safe Jeanie!

La Table De Nana said...

I have been a poor reader during all this ..can't concentrate..I'm afraid I am more IG and block your ears TikTok..lol
Painting etc..the books I have read have just been ok.
My daughter and friends have LOVED Untamed.. Glennan Doyle.Next..hoping to get my reading MOJO back.

shoreacres said...

I always enjoy your book lists, and your reviews. Knowing the reasons for what you like -- or don't -- is helpful. It's something more reviewers should provide!

Anca said...

How peculiar! I'm reading For Whom the Bell Tolls and I previously read in a book about the relationship between Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway, as both of them when to Spain during the civil war and that is the period I'm studying now at University. I wish I had time to read this one too, but my to-read list is huge right now.

Pamela said...

These books look interesting. Usually I enjoy mysteries and biographies, but this year I have read very little. I blame it on the chaos going on in the world. I can’t concentrate on the words right now. For now, my needle and thread are keeping me sane.

Lisbeth @ The Content Reader said...

There is quite a variety of books. Always interesting to see what people read. I loved Josephine Tey's book. I became interested in Richard III when they found his grave, and have read quite a lot about it. I think Tey made very good use of the story.
I love historical fiction books, although I agree you need to check out the facts. I read Paula McLain's The Paris Wife and liked it. I did go on to read a nonfiction book about them. Wanted also to read about Martha Gellhorn and Hemingway so this is a good tip. I have a couple of biographies about Hemingway, one of which is The Hemingway Women by Bernice Kert.

My name is Erika. said...

Sounds like you read some good books, especially mysteries. Thanks for some new suggestions. Funny, I was just looking at the mudlarking book on Amazon the other day. Your suggestion and the fact it looks fascinating makes me think I should order a copy to read. And I have read The Daughter of Time. It's a good one and fascinating. There is a book about how they found Richard's skeleton in the parking lot (nonfiction), which was fascinating. It is called the Kings Grave. And I am glad you are enjoying the Elly Griffiths. I can recommend but it doesn't mean other people find what I like to their liking. Nice summer reading. ANd a book review list is always to my liking. Happy Monday. Hugs-Erika

Regina said...

I love founding out what other ladies are reading and you have quite a collection to read. I'm still doing thst naughty thing of starting a book and then starting another before finishing the previous book.

Victoria Zigler said...

Looks like you've been enjoying some great books. I'm glad something positive came out of how things had to be this Summer - even if it was only an increase in reading time.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

I imagine that for many, Covid has been a time to renew or expand an acquaintance with books, so at least one good thing came out of the pandemic! I too have been reading a great deal, but I suspect that many of the titles I could offer would induce instant insomnia in most of your readers. At present, I am ploughing through "Moult and Ageing of European Passerines". So far I have not found a plot and I am quite sure that dénouement does not await me either! It's a fabulous book though. You'll have to take my word for it.

R's Rue said...

❤️

Hena Tayeb said...

Wow that is quite a lot of books!
The only one I had heard of is Commonwealth.. will be taking it off my TBR list. Love the first two covers as well as the Wild Remedy.

Karen said...

I didn;t enjoy Julian Fellows book either. I want to read Mud Larking.
What did you think of Edward Rutherfords book? I'm quite addicted to his books. I heard he is working on a new book.

Sandra Cox said...

I have read a few of the Ruth Galloway series.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Enjoyed this rundown ofn some of your recent reads, jeanie. And your goal of 60 books made me recheck my lists and as of today I am up to 56 with so many more months to go, lucky me! Lately, i have been including audio books at the suggestion of a friend and they have come in handy when doing things like house chores, laundry, walking to the post office or CVS.

Now for your suggstions: Thanks for the one on Josephine Yet who I have not read. I tried to find some Dorothy Sayers at our local library with no luck as she is a classic mystery writer like Agatha, who has more library representation (better agent?) I recently finished my first and only Ann Pathchett work, The Dutch House, which I had started before in hardcover but never completed. This time the audio version was read by Tom Hanks and I could definitely listen to him reading to me, so I did and finished it. I have heard pros and cons on Commonwealth so it's off my list, for now.

I enjoyed Belgravia, but did not see the mini-series. And I have also read several of the Elly Griffiths, Rith Galloway books based on Erika's recommendation.

As you enjoy mysteries, here's some recent suggestions: Eight Perfect Murders and All the Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson; The 7-1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (which gets very confusing); The Silent Patient - Alex Michael-ides; The Holdout by Graham Moore.

One thing is certain these days, we all have more time to enjoy reading (and listening).

Arti said...

Amazing how many books you've read over the pandemic summer. I wasn't in the mood to read much except mostly listen to audiobooks (and finish all of Maisie Dobbes series) I follow Emma Mitchell on Twitter and love all her nature artwork. But here's the thing, I don't know how she can pick all those floral and plants for her work. Here, we can't pick / take away anything from the wild, as usually they are within provincial or national park boundary. It's illegal to take away even one stone or one leaf! Let alone all those beautiful nature samples.

Lowcarb team member said...

A wonderful lot of books.
Many thanks for sharing your thoughts and reviews.

Here's to more happy reading :)

All the best Jan

Tracy said...

LOVE your book reviews, Jeanie... and always love these kind of rounds ups, and seeing all you've been reading--you're plowed through a lot of books this summer. I love the range you read! That The Wild Remedy should go on my list... I'm hoping very much to be taking some courses in herbalism, so that good would fit in nicely! Among other reading, I'm just finishing a a year-long re-reading of all of Harry Potter... it's been a great year for escaping to the wizarding world of Hogwarts. I always miss the books when I'm done! ((HUGS))

Divers and Sundry said...

What a wonderful and varied selection! I do sooo miss going to book shops!

Sandra at Maison De Jardin said...

My goodness, Jeanie, you have been busy. I love to read, but seem to get too distracted with other things that require my attention. I so enjoyed your reviews and am working on one of your recommendations ~ "Les Parisiennes." I am enjoying it so far.

Have a great week, Jeanie.

William Kendall said...

You've been a prolific reader!

gretchenjoanna said...

I took Daughter of Time off my shelf and read it for the first time this year. I loved it, too! I'm not "into" mystery or detective stories, but that one had so much history and personality in it. And the theme of Richard and who he was... I saw a documentary a long time ago titled "Looking for Richard," which got me interested, so this book was a sort of review, and prompted me to refresh my memory about the debates over him.

Sort of ties in with your thoughts about fictional biography. Shakespeare seems to have written one of those that has become the accepted story of that historic personage. I'm glad that some people since then have tried to look more into it.

Marilyn Miller said...

I always love your reading list reviews.
I haven't read any of them this time.
My list is growing.

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