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text 2018-06-22 17:59
Reading progress update: I've read 33 out of 368 pages.
The Hazel Wood - Melissa Albert

 

I'm already entranced with this book, only a few pages in.

 

But I have miles to go before I sleep (or read) this evening.  Groceries to buy, supper to cook (Tandoori Chicken), a rhubarb apple crisp to make, charging my camera battery and getting all packed & organized for my mountain adventure tomorrow.

 

At least the desire to get back to The Hazel Wood will keep me motivated to get all the tasks done.

 

 

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review 2018-06-22 09:46
Bodies in a Bookshop (Professor John Stubbs Mystery)
Bodies in a Bookshop - Cassandra Campbell,Peter Main

A re-issue of a 1940's mystery written by Ruthven Todd; I have to say that in general, I did not like this book.  It probably deserves 2.5 stars but the bookshop setting and plot surrounding books keeps me from doing it.  This is an instance when I know I'm being too kind though, because the writing had me skimming from just about the mid-way point.

 

The book (and series) is hyped to be witty and humorous and in the forward Peter Main mentions that Ruthven Todd wrote these only in order to make money; he felt that they were vastly inferior to his poetry.  I put these two disparate ideas together because I can only think that what is considered funny to others is what I felt was a complete lack of respect for the genre.  Of the three main characters, one is a constantly fatigued Scotland Yard detective, another is a corpulent Scotsman, and the third, our narrator, a botanist and assistant to said corpulent Scotsman, who does not hide his complete disdain for both from the reader.  It's a disdain attached to grudging affection and respect, and I suspect it is supposed to be read as acerbic wit, but it just sounded petulant to me.

 

Never thought I'd say this but: there's such a thing as too much Scottish vernacular.

 

The plot was ok, but too strung out and would have benefited from an editor with fascist work habits.  Dover says upfront that the text is from the original published manuscript as it was printed, so fair enough to them, but that just means the original had many flaws, including a niece that becomes a sister and is then demoted back to niece in the span of 2 pages.

 

Dover have reissued a few others of his work, but I won't be searching them out.

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url 2018-06-21 05:00
Author Of The Month - Isobel Starling - Week Three

Join us once more as we continue our celebrations for this fabulous author! 

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review 2018-06-19 17:15
Dora Doralina / Rachel de Queiroz
Dora Doralina - Rachel de Queiroz

"What kills you today is forgotten tomorrow. I don't know if this is true or false because all that's real for me is remembrance." In her old age, Dora reflects on the major influences in her life: her mother, her career in the theater, and her one true love. Set in Brazil in the early part of the century, Dora, Doralina is a story about power. Through her fierce resistance to her mother and her later life as a working woman and widow, Doralina attempts to define herself in a time and culture which places formidable obstacles before women. Married off by her mother to a man she does not love, told what to wear and eat, Dora's reclaiming of herself is full of both discovery and rage. For her, independence is the right to protect herself and make her own choices. From a life confined by religion and "respectability," even her passionate attachment to a hard-drinking smuggler contains an act of free will previously unavailable to her. Dora, Doralina is an intimate, realistic, and vivid glimpse of one woman's struggle for independence, for a life in which she owns her actions, her pleasure, and her pain.

 

I read this book to fill the Q position in my quest to read women authors A-Z in 2018. I will honestly tell you that it is not a novel that I would naturally pick up so I probably didn’t appreciate it as much as someone who regularly reads literary fiction.

This is a character driven story which reads very much like an autobiography. It is basically a window into the world of women in Brazil in the first half of the twentieth century. Brazilian society, as in many societies at the time, is extremely macho and women don’t have all that much latitude.

The book is divided into three sections, representing three stages in the life of our narrator, Dora. The first section is Dora growing up and struggling with the control of her domineering mother. Dora refers to her as Senhora, not mother, and seems to be one of the only people in the household who longs for freedom. Dora ends up in a marriage which was more-or-less engineered by Senhora, and while she doesn’t mind her husband, she’s not desperately fond of him either. When he is killed, Dora takes a page from her mother’s playbook and uses her widowhood to give herself more freedom in the world.

The second section is Dora’s adventures in the world outside her mother’s farm. She finds employment and eventually ends up on stage, despite her shyness. She is both fiercely independent and highly reliant on her friends in the acting company, a duality that she freely acknowledges. And it is during her travels with the company that she meets the love of her life.

Part three is her life with The Captain. He reminded me of her first husband in several ways (his drinking, his macho possessiveness) but Dora’s feelings for him make the marriage an altogether different experience from the first.

Documenting women’s lives is an important pursuit, filling in the blanks of previously ignored reality. The novel also shows the particular barriers that many South American women are up against culturally.

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review 2018-06-19 07:58
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand - Helen Simonson

A pleasant, well-written, if sometimes heavy-handed, story of love and romance after 60.  That sounds a bit milquetoast, but that's not what the book is; it may not have stirred my soul, but it was easy to pick up and hard to put down.  

 

Small village, small minds, race relations and a dying class system set the scene for a plot that is not unpredictable. But Simonson excels at writing rich characters that come alive on the page; the only time she failed for me was Roger.  Roger had no redeeming qualities and should have been disinherited posthaste.  Otherwise, the characters are what make the story.

 

A very solid 4 stars.

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