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text 2020-04-04 19:05
Yet another reason why I miss Inter-Library Loan
British Aviation: The Pioneer Years, 1903-1914 - Harald Penrose
British Aviation: The Great War and Armistice, 1915-1919 - Harald Penrose
British Aviation: The Adventuring Years, 1920-1929 - Harald Penrose
British Aviation: Widening Horizons, 1930-1934 - Harald Penrose
British Aviation, The Ominous Skies, 1935 1939 - Harald Penrose

Lately I have been on a First World War aviation reading kick. I don't know why, but the topic is engaging me more than others. I read a couple of books back in February, and I've been searching for some others that can fill in some of the gaps in my knowledge.


That's how I found about Harald Penrose and his five-volume series on British aviation. Penrose was an amazing individual, a test pilot who later in life wrote several books on flight and the history of it. I have no doubt that I've seen his books on shelves before, only now my interests have aligned with his work, and I wouldn't mind trying him out.


Only I can't. My usual starting point after a brief confirmation that my local libraries don't have a book is to request it through Inter-Library Loan. Then after a week or so the book shows up for me to peruse, after which I start it, buy my own copy, or pass on it and move on. But I can't do any of those this because well, you know why.


At this point, I'm deciding whether to take a plunge on one of the first two volumes, which are the ones that currently interest me the most. This would be easy if the price were right, but while I'm willing to spend $70-80 on a book that I want, I'm much less willing to do so to decide whether it's a book I want. So I'm bidding on a copy on eBay to get it to a price I can live with. Fingers crossed that the seller is either reasonable or desperate!

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2019-11-01 15:27
A Certain Type of Trouble
The Other Typist - Suzanne Rindell

This intriguing story captures the tone of New York City in 1924 and has a great premise: Rose Baker, a young female stenographer works in a Manhattan police office, taking the confessions of witnesses and criminals. The arrival of glamourous and independent Odalie, 'the other typist' adds flavour to Rose's otherwise routine life; spicing it up with exotic characters at underground speakeasys/bars. Rose falls right into this lifestyle as her obsession with Odalie grows. But, who is Odalie and will her life irrevocably damage Rose's?


Rindell has a clean, concise writing style that is engaging. Rose's first person narrative is enticing in that you're not quite sure what's going on and what is going to happen. The mini-cliffhangers make for a page turner. There were a couple of plot lines that I thought were going to be the focus for the story, but they ended up not really developing.


What I loved: The style of the book that captures the stylistic feel of the 1920s, and the way Rose speaks and observes.

What I didn't love: The ending. I won't ruin it further except to say that I felt it was a bit too vague and easy to read in a number of ways -- hence the "WHAT?!?" rating.


Reviews compare 'The Other Typist' to "Hitchcock, with a flourish of Great Gatsby"; Patricia Highsmith and Gillian Flynn's 'Gone Girl.' 

I might recommend this to lovers of psychological thrillers and book groups who like to lively discussions on open-ended finales - there are also book group discussion questions in the back.


I didn't realise until writing this post that this was made into a movie by the same title, in 2015 and stars Keira Knightley.


Favourite quote (this reference is to the telephone/landline telephone back in 1925):

"It is interesting to me how technology has in many ways facilitated and refine the practice of deception."




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review 2016-08-16 03:08
Death in the Library
Death of an Avid Reader - Frances Brody

It took me a while to read this because school was keeping me so busy. This is a solid historical mystery with an intrepid female detective in the 1920s. There is some very dark aspects to this story that are surprising for a genteel historical mystery. Well-plotted and populated with interesting characters.

Reviewed for Affaire de Coeur Magazine. http://affairedecoeur.com.

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text 2015-11-01 20:32
U.S. Kindle Sale: Miscellaneous
Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920's - Frederick L. Allen
Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen - Laurie Colwin
The Duke and I - Julia Quinn
Casino Royale - Ian Fleming
Edward III: The Perfect King - Ian Mortimer
The Making of the President 1960 (Harper Perennial Political Classics) - Theodore H. White

Currently $1.99: The Making of the President: 1960, by Theodore H. White.  Home Cooking, by Laurie Colwin.  Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920s, by Frederick Lewis Allen.  The Duke and I, by Julia Quinn.


Currently $2.99: the James Bond novels, by Ian Fleming.  (It looked to me like all of them.)  Edward III: The Perfect King, by Ian Mortimer.

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text 2015-02-04 21:07
Bright Young Things Trilogy Review
Bright Young Things - Anna Godbersen
Beautiful Days - Anna Godbersen
[ { THE LUCKY ONES (BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS) } ] by Godbersen, Anna (AUTHOR) Jun-18-2013 [ Paperback ] - Anna Godbersen

I've been horribly slacking on writing up reviews, even quickie short ones. But no more! I resolve to stop being lazy (well, sometimes it’s because I’m busy, but usually it’s pure laziness) and at least post my general thoughts and feelings on my reads. Pretty much the sole reason I made this account was so I can go back and remember my opinions on books because I have a horrible memory. I know some people who can give the most specific details about a book they read 10 years ago, but I forget main character names (even in books I absolutely loved) in a couple of months.


So, I’ll start off with a series I started and finished in the month of January – the Bright Young Things trilogy by Anna Godberson. This is a YA historical fiction series following three girls living in New York City in 1929. Books set in the 1920s are my historical fiction weakness. I love everything – the fashion, the flappers, the women’s liberation, prohibition, speakeasies, jazz – all of it. These books really transport you back in time. I felt like I was hanging out in these clubs, drinking sidecars and chain smoking and doing the Charleston. The descriptions are lovely and detailed but not too flowery. I loved that the author described the character’s outfits almost every time they changed – I love fashion through the ages, and it made each scene even more vivid.


The three main characters were all likable, but I didn't absolutely love any of them. Two of the girls ran away from home in Ohio to follow their dream of living in the Big Apple. One hopes to find her birth father, and another hopes to become a star. The third girl is a rich flapper, growing up on an estate, spending lots of money and also spending lots of time with her boyfriend. In true YA fashion, these girls all have problems and insecurities to work through, and sometimes you want to slap the them in the face. But I came to like all the girls and they all had a relatively happy ending, even with one of the main characters dying (not a spoiler – this is mentioned in like the second page of the first book).


I would have preferred a little more intensity with this trilogy. Some things that should have been major events were just brushed over, and most of things just fell into the girls’ laps a little too easily. I love the glitz and glamour of the 20s, but there was a lot of darkness to this time as well –the Wall Street crash, and bootleggers and mobsters, for example –and this series made everything a little too perfect. But I will say that when these girls screwed up (which they did pretty frequently) they did suffer the consequences and learn their lessons, which I appreciated. One thing that frustrates me about YA is the fact that the characters do the STUPIDEST things over and over and never learn from it. Not the case here.


If you like books set in the 1920s, Godberson’s “Luxe” series, or just books with pretty girls in pretty dresses on the cover, check these out.

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