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text 2018-08-05 14:15
Women Writers Bingo / Project: Tracking Post

 

Read:

A - Margery Allingham: The Crime at Black Dudley, Mystery Mile, Look to the Lady, Police at the Funeral, Sweet Danger, Death of a Ghost, Flowers for the Judge, The Case of the Late Pig, Dancers in Mourning, The Fashion in Shrouds, Traitor's Purse, and The Tiger in the Smoke (all new); The Man With the Sack (revisited on audio);

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Half of a Yellow Sun (new);

Margaret Atwood: The Penelopiad (new) and The Blind Assassin (both audio)

B - Anne Brontë: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (revisited on audio)

C - Helen Czerski: Storm in a Teacup (new);

Agatha Christie: The Moving Finger, One, Two, Buckle my Shoe, Murder Is Easy, They Do It With Mirrors, N or M?, and Ordeal by Innocence (all revisited on audio), Crooked House (revisited on audio and DVD), Destination Unknown and They Came to Baghdad (both new)

D - Margaret Drabble: The Red Queen (new)

E -

F -

G - Elizabeth George: For the Sake of Elena, Playing for the Ashes, and Well-Schooled in Murder (all revisited on audio);

Elizabeth Gaskell: Cranford (revisited on audio) and Cousin Phillis (new)

H - Radclyffe Hall: The Well of Loneliness (new);

Mavis Doriel Hay: Death on the Cherwell (new);

Patricia Highsmith: The Talented Mr. Ripley (revisited on audio);

Kathryn Harkup: A Is for Arsenic (new)

I -

J - P.D. James: The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories (new), Original Sin, Death of an Expert Witness, Unnatural Causes, and The Skull Beneath the Skin (all revisited on audio)

K - Rosalie Knecht: Who Is Vera Kelly? (new)

L - Valerie Plame Wilson & Sarah Lovett: Blowback (new)

M - Val McDermid: The Distant Echo and Trick of the Dark (both new);

Ngaio Marsh: Death in a White Tie, Off With His Head (aka Death of a Fool), Clutch of Constables, Death at the Dolphin (aka Killer Dolphin), Hand in Glove, and Death in a White Tie (all revisited on audio);

Francine Mathews: The Cutout (new)

Helen MacInnes: Above Suspicion (new)

N -

O - Emmuska Orczy: The Old Man in the Corner (new) and The Scarlet Pimpernel (revisited on audio)

P - Anne Perry: A Dangerous Mourning and The Whitechapel Conspiracy (both new);

Ellis Peters: The Sanctuary Sparrow and Dead Man's Ransom (both revisited on audio)

Q -

R - J.K. Rowling (writing as Robert Galbraith): The Cuckoo's Calling, The Silkworm, and Career of Evil (all new);

J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (all on audio);

Stella Rimington: Secret Asset and Open Secret (both new)

S - Dennis McCarthy & June Schlueter: "A Brief Discourse of Rebellion and Rebels" by George North -- A Newly Uncovered Manuscript Source for Shakespeare's Plays (new);

Dorothy L. Sayers: Unnatural Death (revisited on audio)

T - Josephine Tey: Brat Farrar and The Franchise Affair (both new);

Amy Tan: The Chinese Siamese Cat (new);

Jane Thynne: Black Roses (new)

U -

V -

W - Ethel Lina White: The Lady Vanishes (aka The Wheel Spins) and The Spiral Staircase (aka Some Must Watch) (both new);

Patricia Wentworth: Miss Silver Intervenes, Latter End, Poison in the Pen, The Watersplash, and The Traveller Returns (all new);

Kate Westbrook: The Moneypenny Diaries: Guardian Angel (new)

X -

Y -

Z - Juli Zeh: Schilf (English title: Dark Matter) and Unterleuten (both new)

 

Free / center square: [???]

 

On the card, I am only tracking new reads, not rereads.

 

Read, to date in 2018:

Books by female authors: 81

- new: 53

- rereads: 28

 

Books by male authors: 41

- new: 37

- rereads: 4

 

Books by F & M mixed teams / anthologies: 1

- new: 1

- rereads:

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review 2018-07-05 16:30
The Name of the Star / Maureen Johnson
The Name of the Star - Maureen Johnson

Jack the Ripper is back, and he's coming for Rory next....

 

Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school just as a series of brutal murders mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper killing spree of more than a century ago has broken out across the city. The police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man believed to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him - the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target...unless she can tap her previously unknown abilities to turn the tables.

 

Another example of really enjoyable YA literature. It reminded me of Paul Cornell’s London Falling (although it is not nearly so dark) what with the Jack the Ripper references and ghostly presences. But the main character, Rory Deveraux, made me think of Karen Marie Moning’s MacKayla Lane (the Fever series)—both are Southern girls with professional parents who go to school in the U.K. Both girls are capable of seeing things that ordinary people can’t—MacKayla sees the Fae, Rory sees dead people. However, Rory is much less self-absorbed & she is smarter and funnier as a main character.

I really enjoy this author’s sense of humour! I adored her descriptions of Claudia, the school’s house mother: “Something about her suggested that her leisure activities included wrestling large woodland animals and banging bricks together.” She is, in fact, the field hockey coach and very devoted to that sport. Later, Rory says, “She introduced herself to my parents with one of her mighty, bunny-crushing handshakes. (I’d never seen Claudia crush a bunny, to be fair, but that’s the approximate level of pressure.)” Perhaps she’s a bit of a female Hagrid, despite the fact that this is not a school for wizards.

The real details of homework, living in residence, cafeteria meals, etc. grounded the novel for me. Rory gets drawn into the paranormal gradually, but still has to cope with reading assignments and essays like a regular student. Rory has just the right amount of snark in her soul to make all these tea-drinking, field hockey-dreading moments highly entertaining. She also acquires a small circle of reliable friends, reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I’m not sure when I’ll be able to pick up book two, but I am very much looking forward to it!

 

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text 2018-07-04 16:59
Reading progress update: I've read 28 out of 384 pages.
The Name of the Star - Maureen Johnson

 

Rory meets Claudia:

 

"Something about her suggested that her leisure activities included wrestling large woodland animals and banging bricks together."

 

 

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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 2018-05-30 17:04
The Borrower / Rebecca Makkai
The Borrower - Rebecca Makkai

Lucy Hull, a young children's librarian in Hannibal, Missouri, finds herself both a kidnapper and kidnapped when her favorite patron, ten- year-old Ian Drake, runs away from home. The precocious Ian is addicted to reading, but needs Lucy's help to smuggle books past his overbearing mother, who has enrolled Ian in weekly antigay classes with celebrity Pastor Bob. Lucy stumbles into a moral dilemma when she finds Ian camped out in the library after hours with a knapsack of provisions and an escape plan. Desperate to save him from Pastor Bob and the Drakes, Lucy allows herself to be hijacked by Ian. The odd pair embarks on a crazy road trip from Missouri to Vermont, with ferrets, an inconvenient boyfriend, and upsetting family history thrown in their path. But is it just Ian who is running away? Who is the man who seems to be on their tail? And should Lucy be trying to save a boy from his own parents?

 

I’m not sure yet why I didn’t love this book as much as I expected to. Perhaps it’s because I never have read Mary Norton’s The Borrowers , and therefore couldn’t appreciate the parallels that Makkai was making.

The main character, Lucy Hull, is a children’s librarian, who becomes overly concerned with the welfare of her favourite library patron, Ian Drake. Being in library work myself, I usually adore books involving libraries and librarians. This one also references many books of childhood, another characteristic that I generally appreciate.

Although I tend to prefer ambiguous or realistic endings, I had problems with the wrap-up of this novel. The whole plot line of a run-away boy with the librarian who aids and abets him just didn’t work for me as it has for other readers. Your mileage may vary, perhaps I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to enjoy it right now. At any rate, I had to really push myself to finish the book and was left less than satisfied when I turned the final page.

But I truly did love some passages in the book, such as Lucy’s description of The Wizard of Oz:

And second, everyone is so weird, but they’re all completely accepted. It’s like, okay, you have a pumpkin head, and that guy’s made of tin, and you’re a talking chicken, but what the hell, let’s do a road trip.


That is one of the great pleasures of literature, its ability to make the unusual seem absolutely normal.

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