Witchyrichy (aka Karen) Wades Into Reading In 2023 - Thread #3

Discussão75 Books Challenge for 2023

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Witchyrichy (aka Karen) Wades Into Reading In 2023 - Thread #3

Editado: Out 1, 11:10 am

Welcome to my third thread! I am Karen Richardson, aka Witchyrichy, and this is my 9th year in the 75ers group. I am mostly retired from public life although I do a bit of teaching related to educational technology and instructional design for a few clients. Otherwise, when I wake up on Monday mornings, I can pretty much do what I want. And, often what I want to do is read!

Fall has arrived here at the farm. It is my favorite time of year: just warm enough for read on the porch without so much gardening to do!

I live with my husband of 31 years, Bob, and Circe the cat, in a 19th century farmhouse on 18 acres in rural southeast Virginia. The picture above is the view from our front porch. The former owner was working on making the front yard into an arboretum so there is an interesting collection of trees including a gingko.

Bottle Tree Farm, as we call it, is our own little bit of paradise and came with a library for my books, which helps make up for the challenges of living in an old house. The books also spill out into every other room of the house. My major goal this year is to read the books I already own (lots and lots of ROOTS) and start clearing the shelves a bit.

Besides reading, I garden, crochet and play music as my main hobbies. I reignited my blog last year when I retired and plan to publish more posts in 2023. My husband and I share a love for the outdoors including birding.

I am looking forward, once again, to sharing my life and reading with this wonderful group of people!

Out 1, 11:07 am

Editado: Out 30, 8:02 pm

A book about a topic you don’t usually read: Alex's Adventures in Numberland by Alex Bellos
The next book in a series you started: Friends in High Places by Donna Leon
A book that taught you something: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
Switched or stolen identities: The Third Girl by Agatha Christie
With a book on the cover: The Words Between Us by Erin Bartels
A book rated above 4 on LT: The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama
Book is set on a plane, train or ship: The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith
A bestseller from 20 years ago: Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik
STEM topic: Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
Inn or hotel: Christmas at the Island Hotel by Jennifer Colgan
Journalist or journalism: Like a Rolling Stone: A Memoir by Jann Wenner
Small town or rural setting: The Day the World Came to Town by Jim Defede
Read a CAT: I Must Betray You by Ruth Sepetys (January GEOCat)
Title contains a number or quantity: The 1619 Project
Book by a local/regional author where you live/have lived: The Virginia Plan by Robert Gillette
Author who shares your zodiac sign: Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
A popular author’s first book: Light a Penny Candle by Maeve Binchy
Art or craft related: Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature by Linda Lear
Written by an author under 30: The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
A memoir: Dinners With Ruth: A Memoir on the Power of Friendships by Nina Totenberg
Features a cat (cats) or member of the cat family (leopard, lion, tiger, etc.): The Cat Who Could Read Backwards by Lillian Jackson Braun
Involves an accident: The Endless Beach by Jennifer Colgan
More than 1000 copies on LT: The Silver Branch by Rosemary Sutcliff
With a plant in the title or on the cover: Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey
Music or musician: The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb

Editado: Out 2, 12:41 pm

January - March 51

January - 21
Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn
The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff
The Christmas Shop by Jennifer Colgan
A Murderous Grudge by J.M. Roberts
I Must Betray You by Ruth Sepetys
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
The Silver Branch by Rosemary Sutcliff
The Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliff
South to America by Imani Perry
The Third Girl by Agatha Christie
The Day the World Came to Town by Jim Defede
Christmas at the Island Hotel by Jenny Colgan (audio)
Bloodlines by Fred D'Aguiar (analog)
Book Lovers by Emily Henry
The Virginia Plan by Robert H. Gillette
Friends in High Places by Donna Leon (audio)
The Words Between Us by Erin Bartels
Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall
The Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle (analog)
I Should Be Extremely Happy in Your Company by Brian Hall
A Sea of Troubles by Donna Leon (audio)

February 15

Switchboard Soldiers by Jennifer Chiaverini
21st Century Balance by Mark H. Law
The Café by the Sea by Jennifer Colgan (audio)
The Killing At Badger's Drift by Caroline Graham
The Endless Beach by Jennifer Colgan (audio)
The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama XIV
An Island Christmas by Jennifer Colgan (audio)
Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
The Falcon's Malteser by Anthony Horowitz
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Two Old Women by Velma Wallis
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
The Librarian of Crooked Lane by C.J. Archer (audio)
The Last Kingdom by Steve Berry

March 15

An Island Wedding by Jennifer Colgan
Honeycomb by Joanne M. Harris
Wilful Behavior by Donna Leon
The King's Inquisitor by Tonya Ulynn Brown
A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell
The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell
A Feather on the Water by Lindsay Jayne Ashford
The Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Cogan
Summer at the Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan
Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier
Clock Dance by Anne Tyler
The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
Uniform Justice by Donna Leon
Doctored Evidence by Donna Leon
The Goddess Effect by Sheila Yasmin Manikar

Editado: Out 13, 11:00 am

Apr - June 53

April 15

Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz
Murder on the Pneumatic Railway by Lisa M. Lane
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
The Head Trip: Adventures on the Wheel of Consciousness by Jeff Warren
The Book of Esther: A Commentary and History by Benjamin J. Segal
Socrates by Francesco Barilli and Alessandro Ranghiasci (I don't think this one has made it into LT yet so I may need to add it. It is a graphic book from Comixology.)
Wondrous Encounters: Scripture for Lent by Richard Rohr
Blood From a Stone by Donna Leon
Mystic Tea by Rea Nolan Martin
Garment of Shadows by Laurie King (audio)
The Trackers: A Novel by Charles Frazier
Final Chapter by Pam Stucky
Why Woo Woo Works by David R. Hamilton
At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier
The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz

May 20

Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King (audio)
A Conventional Murder by Pam Stucky
The Overstory by Richard Powers
Through a Glass, Darkly by Donna Leon (audio)
Freeing Jesus: Rediscovering Jesus as Friend, Teacher, Savior, Lord, Way,… by Diana Butler Bass
Real Life: The Journey from Isolation to Openness and Freedom by Sharon Salzberg
Suffer the Little Children by Donna Leon (audio)
The Forest Unseen by David George Haskell
Paper Cuts by Ellery Adams (audio)
Someone Else's Shoes by Jojo Moyes
The Library of the Dead by Tendai Huchu
The Girl of His Dreams by Donna Leon (audio)
About Face by Donna Leon (audio)
The Shunning by Beverly Lewis
The Confession by Beverly Lewis
The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths
The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths
The House At Sea's End by Elly Griffths
The Reckoning by Beverly Lewis
The Medici Manuscript by C.J. Archer

June 18
Soul Boom by Rainn Wilson
Long Summer Day by R. F. Delderfield
Alex's Adventures in Numberland by Alex Bellos
The Matter of Wales by Jan Morris
Drawing Conclusions by Donna Leon (audio)
The Marriage of Mary Russell by Laurie R. King (audio)
Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer by Richard Rohr
Bees and Their Keepers by Lotte Möller
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
Courage, My Love by Kristin Beck
The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt
Beastly Things by Donna Leon (audio)
Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey
The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett
The Venice Sketchbook by Rhys Bowen
Elektra by Jennifer Saint
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim

Editado: Out 13, 11:01 am

July - September 40

July 13

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
The Murderer's Apprentice by Daryl Anderson
The Little Italian Hotel by Phaedra Patrick (audio)
The Messy Lives of Book People by Phaedra Patrick (audio)
Small Rain by Madeleine L'Engle
Ghosts Walk The Shenandoah by Daryl Anderson
The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick (audio)
Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan (audio)
Light a Penny Candle by Maeve Binchy
The Golden Egg by Donna Leon (audio)
The Porcelain Maker by Sarah Freethy
The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani
Back to Yoga by Steve Kelley

August 15

The Echo of Old Books by Barbara Davis
Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros
Murder in the Book Lover's Loft by Ellery Adams
Firefly Summer by Maeve Binchy
Fearless Jones by Walter Moseley
By Its Cover by Donna Leon
Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik
The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemison
The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb
The Southern Lawyer by Peter O'Mahoney
Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor
Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker
The Cat Who Could Read Backwards by Lillian Jackson Braun
Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gould
A Question of Belief by Donna Leon

September 12

September by Rosamunde Pilcher
Like a Rolling Stone: A Memoir by Jann Wenner
The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith
What Makes Us Human by Jasmine Wang, Iain S. Thomas, and GPT-3
The Dark Vineyard by Martin Walker (audio)
Black Diamond by Martin Walker (audio)
The Crowded Grave by Martin Walker (audio)
The Murmur of Bees by Sofia Segovia
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
The Last Devil to Die by Richard Osman
The Devil's Cave by Martin Walker
Dinners with Ruth by Nina Totenberg

Out 1, 11:49 am

I hope I am not too early to wish you a happy new thread, Karen.

That is a lovely topper up above.

Out 1, 8:22 pm

Happy new thread!

>1 witchyrichy: What a beautiful topper!

Out 2, 9:22 am

Happy new thread, Karen. I love the photo at the top! What a lovely setting.

Out 2, 10:58 am

>9 PaulCranswick: You are just fine, as always! Thanks for the welcome!

>10 figsfromthistle: Thank you! I do love my front yard.

>11 BLBera: Thank you! Hope all is well.

Editado: Out 2, 1:21 pm

Happy New Thread, Karen!

Beautiiful front yard!

I really learned a lot (enjoyed may not be quite the right word!) and gave it one of my rare 5 stars. Hope you love it, too!

Out 2, 8:30 pm

Happy new one, Karen!

Out 2, 10:46 pm

Such a beautiful view you have from your porch!!

Happy new thread, Karen!

Out 3, 4:15 am

Bottle Tree Farm looks lovely ,Karen. Happy New Thread!

Out 3, 10:52 am

>13 streamsong: >14 drneutron: >15 Copperskye: >16 vancouverdeb: Thanks for the good wishes! I am looking forward to "falling into" lots of good books!

Editado: Out 3, 11:01 am

I started reading the Lighthouse Library series by Eva Gates when my family spent summer vacations at the Outer Banks. I bought most of them from Island Bookstore in Corolla and then read them in the winter when I needed a breath of the beach. We haven't gone for several years but I have kept up with them and was happy to see the 10th offering in the series, Death Knells and Wedding Bells. It is the epitome of a cozy mystery series, set in Nags Head, North Carolina, where the real Bodie Lighthouse is now imagined as a library. Lucy Richardson is the main character and a transplant from Boston where she was escaping her impending society marriage. We have followed her progress and this book features her wedding to local boy and Nags Head mayor Connor. There is a cat, of course, and lots of quirky characters who are on full show for the wedding and its aftermath. I figured out the murderer at some point but didn't mind as I was enjoying the sites and sounds and food.

And...my sister rented a place in Duck for November. Can't wait to get back to the OBX.

Out 3, 4:28 pm

Hi Karen my dear, Happy New Thread dear friend.

Out 4, 3:50 pm

>19 johnsimpson: Thank you for stopping by! Hope all is well!

Editado: Out 13, 11:39 am

I am a Phaedra Patrick fan, and Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone did not disappoint. I listened to it as I have for many of hers and the narrator did a good job of capturing various characters. It was a nice surprise to have a male main character. Benedict Stone is middle aged, overweight and coming to realize his dreams of children are not going to come true. His wife is moving away from him, pursuing a new path, and he is at a very low point in his life. That's when his teenaged niece arrives on his doorstep from America. He has never met Gemma as he is estranged from his younger brother and over the course of the novel, we learn Benedict's devastating secret. Benedict is a jeweler just as his parents were and Patrick uses gemstones and their meanings to organize her chapters and form a major element of the plot. I enjoyed learning more about them. A lovely, light but meaningful story.

Out 6, 11:02 pm

>18 witchyrichy: Oh, I love the Outer Banks! I might give that cozy mystery series a try.

Out 7, 5:31 pm

>22 EBT1002: There is another series set specifically in Corolla that features a local firefighter named Colleen McCabe. The author is Kathryn O'Sullivan. I enjoyed them as we usually stayed near Corolla.

Out 7, 5:45 pm

Nijay K. Gupta's book is a celebration of women in the scriptures. While she is mainly interested in the early Christian communities, she begins with the Deborah, the celebrated Old Testament judge and also explores the life of Mary. From there, she moves into the history of the early church and tells the story of Phoebe, Prisca, and Junia. I learned about the women and the world in which they lived.

The last section of the book addresses the Biblical scriptures that limit the participation of women in the church. Gupta combines translation and interpretation to make her argument that these scriptures should not rule our lives in the contemporary world.I understand why she needed to include these chapters but also appreciate that she put them at the end. Her arguments are compelling but at the end of the day, we all negotiate with the Biblical text to support our beliefs.

I enjoyed this exploration of the early Biblical women. I received an Early Reviewer copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Out 8, 4:43 am

Belated happy new thread, Karen!

>1 witchyrichy: What a lovely view.

Out 8, 9:24 am

>25 FAMeulstee: Thanks! October is hurrying along, isn't it?

Editado: Out 8, 1:22 pm

I bought The Cloisters by Katy Hays because of the museum and the use of tarot cards as part of the narrative. I have been learning about and using tarot cards for almost 30 years. I think I missed the fact that it was a psychological thriller. Not my usual fare but I ended up enjoying the book partially because of the setting of the Met's Cloisters in New York. Hays includes the wider city in the setting as well with its nooks and crannies and wealth and poverty sitting side by side. One speech towards the end reminded me a little of the ending of The Devil Wears Prada where Miranda Priestly insists that we always have choices and that Andrea, her assistant, really is just like her. That was the underlying theme of the whole novel: Hays plays with the idea of tarot cards being used for divination and whether characters want to know the future or not. I found myself wondering if Ann, the narrator, was reliable. She tells the truth, including a shocking past, but her actions make you consider whether she was completely trustworthy.

Editado: Out 13, 10:10 am

I finished The 1619 Project and am stunned, for lack of a better word. Nikole Hannah-Jones and her colleagues wove together the stories of Black people past and present through essays, timeline entries, poetry and photographs, showing how racism is part of the fabric that makes America. The language is deliberately provocative; they call plantations forced-labor camps and, indeed, that's what they were. They tie slavery and its accompanying racist narratives to the wealth and health gaps between Whites and Blacks in our country, and they make a good case. I know they came under some criticism but I don't think anyone could quibble with that fundamental truths. They do not apologize for approaching history from a lens of the enslaved and former enslaved. In the end, they call for reparations and make a solid case there as well.

I'm not going to lie: this was not an easy book to read. It's all here from massacres to bombings in more recent memory to the torture, murder and institutionalized rape during the centuries of slavery. I read slowly, partially to absorb it all and partially because it was often overwhelming.

Editado: Out 13, 6:49 pm

Last week, I participated in my second Handmade Book Club challenge. We made a Coptic stitch gratitude journal. I like the book I made although I think some of my interior pockets may be upside down. Oh well, live and learn. This book used wrapping paper for the front and back covers and the signature covers with the pockets.

This is the front cover. Click the picture to see the full album.

Out 13, 9:32 pm

>29 witchyrichy: What a gorgeous Coptic Stitch journal! I’m looking for something spooky for October. Perhaps The Cloisters would be for me .

Out 14, 7:56 pm

>28 witchyrichy: Thanks for that review. I have this on the shelf and I really want to read it.

Editado: Out 17, 10:57 am

Happy Belated Thingaversary to me! My 18th anniversary was October 13. I *thought* it was today. I have yet to indulge in my 19 books but I am making a trip to Pennsylvania this week and can usually find at least something to buy at their community thrift shop.

Editado: Out 17, 1:10 pm

>27 witchyrichy: As a Berks County native, any reference to the Cloisters brings to my mind the Ephrata Cloisters. Not the same. I also note that a lady in Hanover, PA, who was giving tarot card readings, was visited by police. An old law, still on the books, outlaws such mischief. Good grief.

>28 witchyrichy: Yours is the first review that makes me want to add The 1619 Project to The WANT!! List™. I shall do it.

>29 witchyrichy: Lovely. "The Handmade Book Club challenge"? Is this an LT thing?

Out 17, 2:18 pm

>33 weird_O: I am a Lancaster County native and know about those Cloisters, still drive past them every so often on my visits to family and friends.

As for the tarot: wow! Who knew?! The Today Show has started featuring astrologers and tarot seems to be everywhere.

Be prepared to 1619: it is a must read but it can be brutal.

The Handmade Book Club is sponsored by Ali Manning, the founder of Vintage Page Designs. It is not associated with LT but another virtual group to which I belong. Much more recent than LT but I have done a few of her open challenges.

Out 17, 2:19 pm

Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger by Lisa Donovan is a slim volume I bought because of the focus on food and cooking. But Lisa Donovan explores so much more from her troubled personal life to the challenge of being a woman in the restaurant business. It is a powerful tale with a few jarring scenes including rape and animal harvesting. She doesn't pull any punches. But, she also brings a joy and hope to her story: she knows she can take what life hands out and has fought hard to be able to call herself, in the acknowledgements, the luckiest woman on earth.

Out 19, 4:30 am

>32 witchyrichy: Belated happy 18th Thingaversary, Karen!

You came to LT early!

Out 20, 11:24 am

>36 FAMeulstee: In 2005, I was neck deep in educational technology and had been trying to create my on database using Access. Fortunately, I discovered LT before I got too far down the database rabbit hole! I mostly used it to track my books and only got involved in the online communities about 10 years ago.

Out 22, 2:55 pm

The Last List of Mabel Beaumont by Laura Pearson came up as a recommendation for me in Hoopla. The main character is an elderly lady who must face her life on her own after 60 years of marriage. She manages to collect a group of younger women who support her. Mabel, whose husband was a list maker, finds his last one and his cryptic "Find D" sends her and her new friends on an adventure. Mabel writes her own list, with many of the entries focused on helping her new friends, efforts that rarely end the way she imagines. Ultimately, however, the book is about Mabel, who seems to finally come alive at 86 years old. The book began very sadly and as someone with two elderly parents, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to continue. Pearson captures the grief, sadness and depression that often accompany the elderly as they watch their friends and loved ones pass on and face their own end as well. But Pearson also shows how life can change even for someone who had thought her life was over. Pearson has three more novels and I have added them to my TBR list. Her style is very much like Phaedra Patrick, another author I enjoy.

Out 25, 5:14 pm

Exactly Nineteen Books!

I wasn't planning to formally buy my Thingaversary books. I've been buying both analog and digital books pretty regularly and really *don't* need to add 19 more to the shelves. Then..I decided to stop at a Barnes & Noble on my trip north to Pennsylvania. They have coffee, restrooms and, of course, book. I bought four:

The Secrets of Love Story Bridge by Phaedra Patrick
The Whalebone Theatre by Joanna Quinn
The Librarianist by Patrick DeWitt
The Vanished Days by Susanna Kearsley

My parents live in a retirement community that has partnered with the Rodale Institute to set up a small farming operation. They provide vegetables to the dining room and host a farmer's market. They were having an open house when I was there and the thrift shop was open. And...wait for it...they were selling books for $3/bag. I loaded up two bags:

The Plantagenet Prelude by Jean Plaidy
Summer Hours at the Robbers Library by Sue Halpern
The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich
The Love Knot by Elizabeth Chadwick
The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick
The Simple Truth by David Baldacci
The Grace That Keeps the World by Tom Bailey
The Witch Elm by Tana French
Citizen Washington by William Martin
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
This Poison Will Remain by Fred Vargas
Poland by James Michener
At The Water's Edge by Sara Gruen
A Walk Along the Thames Path by Gareth Huw Davies
A Voyage Long and Strange by Tony Horowitz

That makes 19 books! I didn't count as I filled the bags. I don't always record my purchases in LT but I think I will do this lot with my Thingaversary tag.

Out 27, 11:56 am

I read Project Hail Mary as part of the fall Kindle challenge to read spooky stories or mysteries. This was definitely leaning towards the mystery side rather than spooky as Andy Weir takes us on another interstellar adventure with an erstwhile hero, middle school science teacher Ryland Grace, and his alien sidekick Rocky. I read until I couldn't keep my eyes open on Wednesday night then settled in the next morning. The book moves between present and past with Ryland struggling to survive even as his memory returns of the events leading up to the present. And it easily filled in the Bingo card about a STEM related topic: there was science, technology, engineering and lots and lots of math.

P.S. One book to go to finish the Bingo card. Beatrix Potter's biography should do the trick!

Out 28, 10:59 am

Hi Karen!

>28 witchyrichy: I agree this was not an easy read, but necessary, I think.

>29 witchyrichy: I love your handmade books. I need to start that.

>39 witchyrichy: Nice book haul.

>40 witchyrichy: This sounds like a fun read.

Out 29, 8:42 am

>41 BLBera: Thanks for stopping by. I need to do some thread visiting myself and wish everyone a happy fall!

Out 30, 8:06 pm

Bingo! I was thoroughly entranced by Linda Lear's biography of Beatrix Potter. Lear obviously had affection for this extraordinary woman but wasn't above describing her occasional rudeness or imperiousness. Lear deftly connects the three periods of Potter's life: her work in natural science, her work as a writer, and, finally, her work as a farmer and conservationist. Throughout it all, she found her inspiration and personal peace in the country, amongst the animals and their keepers. Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature is a wonderful tribute to this amazing woman.

Nov 5, 4:30 pm

>18 witchyrichy: I really like the lighthouse library books, and I read that one in October also. I remember thinking when the character was introduced that I hoped it was him. Then, like you, I became convinced at some point in the story that it was him.

Nov 12, 9:15 am

>44 thornton37814: I am SO excited to be heading to Duck on Wednesday! It will just be my sister, my husband and me and we have planned absolutely nothing except a little shopping. Bob and I will drive to Hatteras to do some birding as well.

Sometimes, with a longer cozy series, it can be pretty obvious who the killer is as the other characters are so well known and part of the general plot.

Nov 12, 6:59 pm

Sounds like a great time!

Editado: Nov 12, 7:15 pm

Maeve Binchy tells enchanting stories but her real strength is in her characters and their communities. The Lilac Bus, Dublin/4 and The Copper Beech all tell their stories through the characters. Every Friday, a small group of people from Dublin board a lilac painted mini-bus for the trip to the small town of Rathdoon. Over the course of the novella, we learn their stories and their secrets. My copy of the book included the four stories in Dublin/4, which was just as the title suggests, four short stories set in Dublin. The Copper Beech is Binchy at her best. The small schoolhouse and the copper beech in its yard form the center of the Irish village of Shancarrig. Characters are the focus of each chapter but Binchy uses these individual portraits to also tell a tale.

Nov 12, 9:41 pm

I just checked -- I've read 6 Maeve Binchys. But neither of these, so more good reading ahead for me! : )

Editado: Nov 14, 5:00 pm

>48 Berly: And I somehow missed Circle of Friends, which seems to be one of her major ones! Already on the Kindle waiting for the perfect moment for Maeve.

Nov 22, 6:43 pm

I enjoyed Linda Lear's biography of Beatrix Potter and followed up with Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life by Marta McDowell. I loved the biography and absolutely adored the gardening book. I do wonder if I was able to enjoy the second one more having delved deeply into Potter's life. I am not sure it matters: McDowell provides the details we need to understand Potter's connection to the natural world and her love for her farm and the surrounding landscape and inhabitants.

The first half of the book provides biographical detail related to her purchase of Hill Top Farm and other properties in the Lake District along with her preservation work. The second half moves into the garden and the life of it caretaker as we move through the circle of seasons. I had just finished covering my hydrangeas in hopes of blooms next year and felt an instant connection to Beatrix Potter, a kindred spirit who loved nothing better than gardening and reading and wasn't concerned about a solitary life in the country.

Editado: Nov 29, 5:10 pm

The Lonely Hearts Book Club by Lucy Gilmore came by way of Hoopla and was probably recommended because I listened to The Last List of Mabel Beaumont. Both books share an elderly main character who is befriended by younger people and they find that they can all help each other to face their lives. In this book, the character is Arthur, a truly mean old man who despite his best efforts cannot seem to keep the quirky young people out of his life and his house. He meets some of them at the local library and the group eventually finds themselves forming a book group. The book is told from multiple perspectives so we are able to experience the richness of all the characters' lives. I loved the focus on books with Anne of Green Gables, a favorite of mine, playing a central role.

Editado: Nov 29, 5:11 pm

I never read Gourmet Magazine with any regularity so I am not sure what attracted me to Ruth Reichl's memoir about her decade-long tenure as its editor, right up until it ceased publication. But it has been sitting on the shelf for some time along with a few other food-related books and memoirs and it seemed like an easy read for a recent vacation at the shore.

While Reichl does cook and includes recipes in the book, she is primarily a food journalist and was writing restaurant reviews for the New York Times when she was asked to join Gourmet. While I wasn't as familiar with the food publishing crowd, I certainly recognized the names of many famous and infamous chefs. She knows how to tell a good story and how to make your mouth water with her descriptions of food.

She has written several books and I have her older memoir of being a restaurant critic on my iPad and may read it sooner rather than later.

Editado: Nov 29, 5:12 pm

The Windsor Knot is the first in SJ Bennett's series of mysteries featuring Queen Elizabeth II as the detective, although she is careful to give the credit to others. It was a fun, behind-the-scenes look at life as a monarch, and her sidekick(s) were all women who, as they moved on, served as mentors for the next generation of personal assistants. Philip is present as a supportive, thoughtful spouse, the corgis are always under foot, but the rest of the family is only referenced in passing. I have the next two books in the series waiting for me. Again, perhaps sooner rather than later, while I still remember the characters and could actually be caught up with the series.

Nov 22, 8:07 pm

Dear Karen,

Happy Thanksgiving from an appreciative non-celebrator.

Nov 23, 8:01 am

>54 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul! I seem to be posting just behind you on other threads. Have a wonderful non-celebratory day. I am grateful for you and my LT community!

Nov 23, 3:54 pm

Hi Karen my dear, Happy Thanksgiving dear friend.

Nov 23, 7:06 pm

I caught a BB from you yesterday, Karen. I was just doing a quick browse and I thought The Last List of Mabel Beaumont sounded just like my thing, so I ordered it from amazon last night. It will arrive on Sunday. So thanks for that. I read Maeve Binchy maybe in my 20's and 30's and just loved her books. They are good! Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 24, 9:25 am

Hope you had a good, safe Thanksgiving.

Nov 25, 4:04 pm

>56 johnsimpson: Thank you for taking the time to stop by. I am keeping you close to my heart, my friend.

Nov 25, 4:05 pm

>57 vancouverdeb: If crotchety old people are of interest, consider The Lonely Hearts Book Club, too

Nov 25, 4:06 pm

>59 witchyrichy:, Thank you dear friend.

Nov 25, 4:07 pm

>58 fuzzi: Thank you! A lovely, quiet day ended with an easy meal shared with two friends.

Nov 27, 9:52 am

I also have Maeve Binchy to look forward to! I have a couple of her books on my shelves.

Nov 29, 5:06 pm

I have been an Elton John/Bernie Taupin fan all my life with Goodbye Yellow Brick Road being my first foray into their music. I permanently borrowed it from my sister in 1973 and still have it on the shelf along with most of the other albums they created together.

I read Elton's memoir last year (a rollicking tour through the life of an entertainer) and treated myself to Bernie's in hardcover during a bookstore buying spree on a recent vacation. I follow Taupin on Instagram so know a bit about his current state of happiness with a lovely wife and daughters. In fact, in the memoir, he comments that it took a long time, but both he and John found happiness in family and home.

I didn't know much else about him. Rather than a strict chronology, Taupin told stories and, as you might imagine, entranced us with detailed, beautifully crafted prose. It could be over the top sometimes, even florid, but often just wonderful like this description of trail riding near his ranch in California:

Red-tailed hawks gliding on the thermals, solitarily swooping, their flame-like tail feathers catching the sun, their predatory nature intercepted intermittently by blackbirds and crows that dive-bombed them impressively, bravely strafing their aggressive attempts to pick off their young. In a melancholy rain, the murmur of the wind sang softly through the live oaks and drummed the leaves above our heads, the rhythmic tattoo of the heavy late summer drops playing into the fantasy of the fine line drawn between who I once was and who I wanted to be.
Scattershot, p. 322

But, as the heading suggests, my main takeaway was how mean he could be. This, from a man who always seemed so quiet and gentle compared to his flamboyant friend. The book contains more than a few lengthy put downs that sing even more for the figuratively rich language in which they were delivered. It isn't enough to say that the Playboy Mansion was run down. Here's Taupin's description of his visit to the famed estate:

What a dump. Popular folklore might have built it up to be a louche Mecca preeminent in sensual sophistication, but I can assure you it was none of that and a lot less. Like a miniature House of Usher, it was a gray collision of Tudor and Gothic, all faux turrets, battlements, and way too busy in its attempt to be anything more than a kitsch architectural mess...Even glitzed up and lit like Knott's Berry Farm at night, it wasn't hard to tell that maintenance was not a priority and that the efficiency of cleaning crews was lacking. The place was like a courtier in the Palace of Versailles, constantly powered and perfumed to mask the unpleasant odor underneath. The place simply had no style or character, the furniture looked old and ugly, the alcoves were murky, and the carpets were balding and frayed.
scattershot, p. 216

Daggers thrown with skilled syntax and, presumably, delivered in a withering British accent. There were several scattered throughout the book, all delivered with the same snooty tone and, in some cases, was funny despite being mean. I suppose one function of memoir is to air some grievances so Taupin is all ready for Festivus this year. That being said, he could be just as profusive with his praise and self-deprecating about his own talent (he is a songwriter, not a poet he assures us several times) and past reckless, irresponsible behaviors and actions.

I enjoyed the walk down memory lane and can recommend both memoirs. Be warned: There was lots of explicit talk about sex and drugs and, of course, rock and roll in both books.

Ontem, 10:20 am

Maeve Binchy just tells a good story, and Circle of Friends was no exception and possibly one of her best. Bernie and Eve become friends as young girls, and we follow their lives as they move into the world, finding love and joy and heartbreak. Through it all, the two girls support each other. Binchy creates complex characters navigating life's ups and downs while also giving us insight into how ancient social structures still continue to impact life in Ireland. We can usually anticipate a happy ending as well where the good guys triumph. Excellent read!