Book Reviews

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Characters 

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This week’s topic is “bookish characters.” This was a harder topic than it first appeared. I’ve read lots of bookstore books, books set in libraries or in universities or colleges, books about book clubs, writers and editors, but, to me none of these are automatically “bookish characters.” For example, I wouldn’t call either of the professors in David Lodge’s hilarious Changing Places “bookish” though they are scholars. It’s a job, a career to them–not a passion. I see bookishness as a passion.

The First Two–the Ones Everyone Thinks of

Hermoine Granger in Harry Potter and Jo Marsh in Little Women

Sorry fans, but neither Gilmour Girl makes my list. I didn’t like the show–especially Lorelei. Rory was ok, but a tad smug to me. Mea Culpa.

My All-Time Favorite Bookish Characters: One real, one fictional

Helene Hanff who wrote to 84 Charing Crossroads Marks and Co for all those years. And dear Frank.

Helene Hanff was the bookish, real-life, character who got me to look beyond popular authors of the ’70s. I discovered Pepys fabulous diary through her. And, she started my life-long love affair with epistolary novels, published diaries, and collections of letters. Thank you, Helene. Plus the movie of this book was so wonderful. (Did you spot Judi Dench in it? A little extra fun).

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Katherine Hepburn, as Bunny Watson, in Desk Set

You just know Bunny has a Commonplace Book, as vast a home library as her little apartment can hold, and books that she treasures–many with notes stuffed in them or even, (yes, even!) comments written in them. I suspect she has a card file of reviews with ratings and errors noted. I love her. Sadly, 70+ years later, people are still trying to replace us (librarians) with computers. Sigh.

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Professor Godfrey St. Peter in Willa Cather’s The Professor’s House. He is so attuned to his world of books–the world of his home “study” [room] that when his family moves to a new house he retains use of his room in the old one. I took down pages of quotes from this book in my Commonplace Book.

Cussy Mary and her adopted daughter, Honey, are both book lovers. So, too, are the many folks on their pack horse librarian routes in the back hills of Eastern Kentucky in the 1930s and 1950s. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek and The Book Woman’s Daughter by Kim Michele Richardson.

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Ritaro’s Grandfather loves books and is devoted to keeping them available via his bookstore. When he dies, Ritaro and his friend, must continue to save books with the help of a cat. The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa is an amazing story for all ages.

 

Evie Stone is another type of bookish person. She saves, catalogs, and protects books and cares deeply about an author’s legacy. She promotes obscure, but deserving books. She is a fictional soulmate of mine, even if I have never enjoyed cataloging in my professional life. The Jane Austen Society and Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner.

Ashley Wilkes is the very definition of a bookish aristocrat. He adores beauty, peace, tranquility, his library, his gardens, his art collection, his memories of his Grand Tour and all the beauty he steeped himself in while in Europe. That he owns slaves actually bothers him–he wanted to free them all when his father died. He is bookish to the ends of his very slender fingers. His wife, Melanie, is the very same. They are a very, very bookish couple. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. (Be wary of cheap Kindle editions of this book).

Why not join in the Top Ten Tuesday fun next week?

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Book Reviews

Top Ten Tuesday: One-Word Reviews for the Last Ten Books I Read

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Thank you to Susan @ Bloggin’ ’bout Books for comin up with this topic.

My Last 10 Books

I’ve done this list in using the actual last 10 books I read in the order I finished them–not in the order the reviews appeared here on my blog.

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Poisonous

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Entitled

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Tragic

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Familial

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Embracing

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Renewing

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Friendly

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Grifting

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Plagued

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Discriminatory

Why not join in the Top Ten Tuesday fun next week?

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Book Reviews

Top Ten Tuesday: My Posts of Books With X On the Cover

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I’ve done a lot of book cover posts! So, since I didn’t have an idea ready to research–a cover with x on it–I decided I’d give you the opportunity to pick one (or more) of my previous book cover posts to look at instead this week. Click the list title to go to the post.

Some of My Book Cover Posts

  1. Books With Nesting Dolls on the Cover
  2. Books With Nature on the Cover
  3. Books With a Ferris Wheel on the Cover
  4. Books With Matches or Matchbooks on the Cover 
  5. Springy and Summery Book Covers 
  6. Books With Recorded Music on the Cover I
  7. Books With Recorded Music on the Cover II
  8. Books With Red, White, and Blue Covers 
  9. Books With Cute Covers 
  10. Book Covers I’d Like to Live In 

Bonus

A few new book covers I love

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Book Reviews

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Read but do not review here on my blog

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This week’s topic is: “Books I Enjoyed, but Have Never Mentioned On My Blog,” but I’ve tweaked it a little. I don’t always “enjoy” books I do not review here. You’ll see in a minute….

Church Books

I dread being handed things like The Purpose Driven Life of The Story for an all-church read. (No I did NOT vote for him….). The Bible is “it” as far as I am concerned. It’s enough for many a lifetime. The stories, the people, the contradictions, the unexplained stuff, the beauty, the glory!! Wow! I don’t care to read vapid re-tellings of it or the inane and usually dead obvious thoughts on it from some celebrity pastor.

C.S. Lewis and a few others are NOT included in this, but I still will not be reviewing them. The Screwtape Letters is one of the best books I’ve ever read.

NOTE: I do not mind if you do not read the Bible. I do not mind if you have no faith or hold to a different faith. ALL are totally welcome here at this blog. ALL means ALL of humanity.

Series Books

There ARE exceptions to this, but mostly I do not review series books because it is too hard to review them without spoilers. I love a number of series, but have quit listening to one series I loved, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency because the reader was dropped after 20+ books. Why it was necessary to drop the white read of a series set in Botswana written by a white Scotsman, I have no clue. But for many, many, many fans of this series it was cruel.

When the longtime reader of Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series died, Louise Penny herself broke the news to her fans and introduced Robert Bathurst as the new reader. I didn’t quit that series because it was handled beautifully.

I also didn’t like the “other” reader in the Stephanie Plum by Janet Evanovich because she made a favorite character seem brainless.

Books for Work

I make exceptions for business or self-help books that are for a general audience. No one on the planet wants to read a review of a scholarly work on librarianship. Trust me.

Royal Books That I Just Skim

I usually can skim a new royal bio in an evening. I just look for the new or different stuff. Much of what is sold as “new” or “shocking” or whatever isn’t–I’ve known about it long before. Hence not being even remotely shocked by a new book detailing the “scandalous” marriage of a prominent relative of the Prince Philip’s. Old news.

Cookbooks that are not also Foodie books

I love to look at and read thru new cookbooks, but I don’t review them. I don’t make enough of the recipes (one or two usually) to adequately judge the quality of the recipes and how they turn out.

Political Biographies

I skim them and move on. I no longer wade through doorstop political biographies. Life is too short.

Art Books

I enjoy art books too–big lavish coffee table ones. I love looking through them and reading the parts about the artist’s life. I do not have a BFA or MFA, so I do not have the knowledge to really judge and comment on the text or the selection or works.

Once I again, I’ve come up short! Oh well….next time.

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Book Reviews

Top Ten Tuesday: Dynamic Duos

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Name your duo? Scarlett and Rhett? Popeye and Olive Oil? Who cares! Dynamic Duos are the topic today!

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1. Stephanie Plum and Lula

Or should that be Stephanie Plum and Grandma Mazur? Or Stephanie and Joe? Or Stephanie and Ranger? I’ll stick with gal pals for this one–Stephanie and Lula, all the way. Let’s hit Cluck in a Bucket and the doughnut joint first though, ok? Funeral home cookies don’t cut it.

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2. Miss Benson and Enid Perry

An unconventional duo on an unconventional mission.

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3. Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir

Part Chief/deputy, part father/son, part bromance. Love these two.

 

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4. Alex Claremont-Diaz and Prince Henry.

I didn’t know what I’d think when I started reading this book. I came to [heart] both.

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5.  Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd and Johanna.

A good man takes care of a dumped kid. Sam Elliott should have gotten the role in the film.

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6. Precious Ramotswe and Grace Makutsi.

Or maybe Precious Ramotswe  and Charlie? Or Precious Ramotswe  and Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni? Until they abruptly changed performers on the audio (They do know this series is written by a white, male, Scot– right?) I LOVED this series. Precious and Grace are the ultimate dynamic duo, but Charlie and a few others make duos with both on their own, too.

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7. Noah Selvaggio and Michael

This pairing does strain the bounds of credulity, but I loved it anyway. Noah and Michael are IT!

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8. Vish Puri and his “Mummy Ji”

Where would he be without Mummy to solve the crimes and make him think it was all his own brain power?

Sorry, that’s all this week! I’ve done more than 10 many weeks so I’ll just stop here.

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Book Reviews

Top Ten Tuesday: Things I’m tired of in novels

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ONE

The Woke Bingo Card of Story Telling. Read the book, mark the spots. It’s fine if the story is set in, say, Harvard 2021. But a story of women in 1937? Nope.

TWO

Female spies in WWII. Yes, it IS way past time they earned recognition. But a slew of “meh” novels isn’t how to reward or remember them.

THREE

The “hints” and “notes” of a man’s cologne. When did this even become a thing? I first encountered this in Meet Me In Monaco, which, after all, included a perfumer, but since then? Off the charts how many times its come up.

FOUR

Men tenderly tucking a lock of a girl’s hair behind her ear. Women in fiction never have short hair.

FIVE

People biting their lower lip. It’s an epidemic in current-day fiction. I never see this in real life. I do understand the emotion this phrase tries to convey, but find a new way to convey it.

SIX

People concentrating by chewing on a pencil or sticking out their tongue. Again, never see this in real life. Before the 5th grade a few kids chewed on pencils. Same crowd ate their paste, too. After the torture that is Middle School the either started smoking something, drinking something or popping some kind of pill for their nerves instead.

SEVEN

No one ever has a normal job. Insurance claims adjuster? Receptionist at a podiatrist office? Nameless call center person listening all day to irate customers? Gas station mini-mart cashier? Nameless cog in a bureaucracy with an inflated title and a salary that’s never kept up with inflation? And, if they have some cute job like dog groomer, they somehow can afford a perfectly furnished Craftsman bungalow in the movie version. [Coming soon: Review of a book that disproves this one].

10 More from October 2021

Click here to read last October’s version of this list.

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Book Reviews

Top Ten Tuesday: Love Freebie: Cross-Generational Romances: The Best Older Man, Younger Woman love stories

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The older man! He’s always attracted me. But not the “Sugar Daddy” type. The genuine article.

Gone With the Wind, in addition to the things people criticize it for being (all deserved except the absurd marital rape accusation), is at heart a romance. Scarlett O’Hara is in love with an older man–Ashley Wilkes. But she is really in love with Rhett Butler. She kids herself all along until she looses Rhett that it is really the lovely, dreamy, blonde-haired, cultured Ashley that she loves. Ashley knows the truth but has moments of weakness. Rhett knows the truth but gets his gut full. Sad, because Scarlett was made for Rhett and Rhett, who grew up exactly the same way and in the same generation as Ashley, was made for Scarlett. Gone With the Wind, absolutely provided my gateway to the older man and probably proved the Victorians right–reading romances ruins girls for what is really available. I’d rather have Rhett!

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New to me in 2021 was the work of Shirley Hazzard. Aldred Leith and Helen Driscoll meet innocently but come to fall in love when in occupied Japan. I loved this book. You can read my review here: The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard.

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In a fictionalized version of a real affair, an over-the-hill Hemingway write of an over-the-hill Colonel enjoying a last fling with a lovely young woman in Italy. I loved this one, too, though I can see why many people do not. My review: Across the River and into the Trees.

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New to me in 2021, this lovely Victorian tale captures the true heart of romance and of a woman’s beauty being her character. How could Lord Walderhurst think of marrying and begetting a late-in-life heir with anyone but the very moral, very generous Miss Emily Fox-Seton? Unthinkable. She was made to comfort a loving husband and to proudly wear the ermine and velvet. The Making of a Marchioness (my review is linked).

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A good woman wants to be taken care of; a good man wants the job. That’s the story in essence. A Virtuous Woman was oh so good–and so believable.

 

Other than GWTW, I hold Cary Grant responsible as well for my older man fixation. That, and the afternoon movie on whichever channel it was in the 1970s on which my Mom, my brother and I sat out the Central Indiana summer heat watching classics like:

These movies made Cary Grant the darling of women of all ages–even a teenager like me.

You can read my posts on real-life cross-generational romances here:

Lady Kitty Spencer and Michael Lewis

Lady Charlotte Wellesley and Alejandro Santo Domingo

Anthony and Clarissa Eden (Lord and Lady Avon)

Pierre and Margaret Trudeau

Andrea Mitchell and Alan Greenspan

President Grover Cleveland and Frances Folsom

Princess Mary and Viscount Lascelles (later the Earl of Harewood) –Ignore the stupid storyline in the Downton Abbey movie. They were not forced to marry, the had many interests in common, and were quite happy!

Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart

Book review: Margot in Love and War: Love and Betrayal in Downing Street

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Book Reviews

Top Ten Tuesday: Books with Names/Character Names In the Titles

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This week’s topic are those books I call “The Something, something life of somebody somebody.” Here are some of the ones I’ve read and enjoyed. So many had to be ignored! Mr. Rosenbaum Dreams in English, The Secret Life of Mrs. London, Bill Warrington’s Last Chance, Entertaining Mr. Pepys, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage,–so many more even! I had to include Bridget Jones so I picked my favorite of the books.

My Reviews

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

The Likely Resolutions of Oliver Clock by Jane Riley

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman (my review was lost on my old blog)

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Miss Pettigew Lives for the Day by Winifred Watson

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (scroll down to the review)

The Marrying of Chani Kaufman by Eve Harris (my review was lost on my old blog)

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding (my review was lost on my old blog)

A House for Mr. Biswas by V.S. Naipaul (I read this years ago in the Peace Corps).

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Book Reviews

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Recent Additions to My Book Collection

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Believe it or not, last year (when I was employed) I set the goal of buying more books–not only for the topics on which I collect, but to support fiction authors! I did buy a few more, mostly for Kindle and mostly from Dean Street Press (a total of 7 books). Here are some of my most recent purchases and one gift (which I requested).

Hardback

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My grown-up kids gave me this one–God bless the Amazon Wish List! One child hates to figure out gifts and demands a list. I was picky about the two books I put on that list and she chose this one. Great choice. Review coming soon.

These are some of the hardbacks I bought myself. I failed to buy any hardback fiction. I bought the UK edition of the Churchill book which is now out in the USA and titled The Churchill Sisters. The collection of Ann Fleming’s letters is due to my love of society letters. Ann was the wife of James Bond creator, Ian Fleming.  You can read my reviews of Survivors and Windsor Diaries by clicking on the linked titles.

Paperback

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I know next-to-nothing about Spain, so I bought this book to read during Spanish lit month over the next few years. It is enjoyable prose, but I am limiting myself to reading it at that time only. Roads to Santiago by Cees Nooteboom.

Kindle

I have not yet read The Far Country, and I threw back The Sanatorium, but my reviews of the other two books are linked. Like many Kindle owners, I also purchased several bargains that will likely never be read.

Wintering by Katherine May

Rain: Four Walks in English Weather by Melissa Harrison

 

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Book Reviews

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books I Read In 2021

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One of the joys of unemployment is never know what day it is. So…without further ado…here is LAST week’s TTT.

“Best” is a difficult word. “Best” writing? “Best” writing in its genre? “Best” fun? Hmmmm. Here are 10 books I enjoyed in 2021. It doesn’t matter why I enjoyed them (you can click to read my review for that). They are here because I simply enjoyed them.

Yes, ELEVEN, but one is a diary, so that’s not really the same–is it? I didn’t include the Christmas books–too different from my usual reading and I’ve very recently reviewed them. I doubt I’ll ever read or listen to that many of them again in one year! They were perfect for this year. I dithered over inch including another Dean Street Press/Furrowed Middle Brow book, but decided to let the one stand for all. I’ve loved them all. A few very popular titles “almost” made the cut, but in the end I enjoyed other books more.

You can find my reviews using the blog’s search feature.

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