Rounding Up and Looking Forward ~ October – November 2017

1106623932_58e6ad3de8October turned out to be a month complicated by illness. I started it laid low by the after effects of just three antibiotic tablets and finished it in a similar state as the result of a feverish cold.  Normally when I’m ill I eschew anything new and instead return to old favourites, usually series books, where I can spend time with old friends who will appreciate my predicament and not demand anything too taxing of me.  At the beginning of the month, too ill even to read, I took advantage of the fact that I had the audio version of The Lord of the Rings downloaded onto my iPad and turned that on to play through what I knew was going to be a long and difficult night. I reasoned that if I did manage to sleep at any point it wouldn’t matter because I know the books so well I would just be able to pick up wherever in the story I resurfaced. And, that’s precisely what happened, although predictably what sleep I did get coincided neatly with my favourite parts of the tale. The epilogue to this story is that two days later I discovered Audible had awarded me my Nightowl Badge.  How they know at what time of the day I am listening, given that the book had been downloaded not streamed, I have no idea, but I have to say that I am inordinately proud to be acknowledged a Nightowl.

At the other end of the month I did, in fact, read something new in the midst of my cold, or at least a new episode of an old favourite.  The arrival of the sniffles coincided with the delivery of my copy of Philip Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage and there are some books which simply can’t be put off. It was the perfect read for the situation, especially as it is nowhere near as intellectually demanding as His Dark Materials. I shall probably return to it over the Christmas period to be sure that I’m not underselling it, but I really don’t think so.  I enjoyed it very much, but I hope the other two volumes give me a bit more to chew on.

In between I had two re-reads for books groups, Linda Grant’s The Dark Circle and Sebastian Barry’s Days Without End.  As I said in my post about the Grant novel, the group was split.  Two thirds of us had very much enjoyed it, while the others had severe reservations. Not so the Barry.  Everyone of us had been knocked sideways by it.  As one of our most critical members said, she had been waiting and waiting for him to let the voice slip just once, not believing that anything could be so perfect.  She waited in vain.  Once more, the Booker judges left us dumbfounded.

I’ve also read a number of crime novels, some of which I have reviewed here and some not.  These comprise: Louise Penny’s Glass Houses, Quintin Jardine’s State Secrets, Sarah Ward’s A Patient Fury and Beneath the Surface by Jo Spain. Plus, in preparation for the 1968 project, I’ve re-read two of the marvellous children’s novels published that year, Joan Aiken’s The Whispering Mountain and A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin.

IMG_0245Looking forward to November, both my book group selections will again be re-reads, this time Helen Dunmore’s spy novel, Exposure and A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler.  The first is my choice and I will almost certainly write after the meeting about how the discussion went and why I chose this particular book. The second was a last minute change of heart on the part of the person leading the group this month. We were supposed to be reading Roddy Doyle’s The Woman Who Walked into Doors, which would have been new to me, but the person who had selected it suddenly got cold feet about the bad language it apparently contains and so I have, as I say, another re-read.

I also have Frances Brody’s latest Kate Shackleton novel, Death Among the Stars, waiting for me, as well as Laura Wilson’s latest standalone mystery, The Other Woman. I’m not a great fan of standalone mysteries, but I make an exception for Wilson, who is an excellent writer and this has come very well recommended. In addition I’ve picked up the first novel by crime writer Angela Marsons, Silent Scream. I don’t know how I’ll get on with this. It is set almost within walking distance of where I live and the last local crime fiction I tried got so much wrong about the locale that halfway through I tossed the book away in disgust. Still, nothing ventured and all that.  Then I want to read at least one book for the Years Of My Life project. I’ve managed to get hold of Blyton’s Rockingdown Mystery, which will probably wile away a rainy afternoon at some point and I’d like to also get round to The Third Man.  I’m putting off choosing between Laski and Mitford until December. If there isn’t much new around over Christmas, I might even treat myself to both of them. But that’s for next month.

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25 thoughts on “Rounding Up and Looking Forward ~ October – November 2017

  1. I hope the cold will be gone soon. It seems to have been impossible to avoid catching one recently. I read – and enjoyed – the Grant but preferred Joan London’t The Golden Age on the same subject.

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  2. Sorry to hear you were so poorly. Hope it’s all cleared up now. I had a subscription to Audible for about 5 years but cancelled it last year when I found I wasn’t making best use of the credits now that the library gives me free audio books.

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  3. Sorry about the cold. It’s miserable when you don’t feel up to reading – audio books stand in well though. I’m quite a bit behind with Frances Brodie’s books but I really enjoy them and it’s so annoying when you know a location and the author’s got it wrong, so I hope Silent Scream has got it right!

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  4. Sorry you’ve been ill – I hope you’re feeling better now. I would be interested to hear how your discussion of Exposure goes. I read it last year and was very impressed.

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    1. I’ve just finished my re-read, Helen and will be spending tomorrow getting my ideas together. I am even more impressed by it this time than last. I don’t know how it will go down with the group though. I’ll definitely let you know.

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    1. Oh yes, Ali, I definitely agree and even better on a re-read. I’ve found far more in it this time round, having really just read it for the story the first time. I only hope the rest of the group enjoy it too.

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  5. Sorry you’ve been so ill but hooray for Audible – I’m an addict – but use the sleep timer at night, though I can see why you didn’t. Days Without End is an amazing novel – the only person I’ve met who didn’t like it was my son-in-law – not sure why,as he’s usually a Barry fan. I’ve read Exposure and loved it – hope you will too.

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  6. I was using Audible for company as much as anything that night, Harriet. Mind you, it was annoying to wake up and discover I’d just missed a favourite part of the story. I slept right through the Birthday Party! I loved Exposure the first time round but on a re-read I’ve decided it is an even better book than I originally thought. I’m amazed it didn’t pick up more accolades.

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  7. That’s quite a rave for Days without End! I haven’t heard anything about it, I don’t think, but you’ve definitely convinced me to pick it up sometime soon. I hope you feel better! A cold is miserable enough without it messing with your sleep as well!

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    1. I’ve read it with two very different book groups, Jenny, and it is the only novel that everyone has agreed about. I really can’t think of a better book I’ve read since I started blogging.

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    1. That’s why I went for something I knew, Smithereens. I supervised so many dissertations on The Lord of The Rings (as well as having read it assiduously myself as a teenager) that I can practically recite it word for word. It didn’t matter where I woke up I could always pick up where we were.

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  8. I am so sorry you were ill! Fall is beautiful, but it is a time for colds and sickness. I’m hoping the flu shot will be magic, but it doesn’t prevent common colds, alas. The Lord of the Rings sounds perfect for sickness. And I have bought a copy of Sebastian Barry’s book on your recommendation and look forward to reading it.

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    1. I hope the Barry lives up to my recommendation, Kat. At least I know that everyone else to whom I’ve recommended it has loved it. The cold is gone now but it’s left one of those annoying coughs. You can’t take me anywhere at the moment.

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