Best Books

The Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday’s book critic posted his list of 100 books that changed his life.  Fifty of these are non-fiction and fifty are fiction.  Just thought I would share some of these.  Let me know what you think and what you might add if you were listing your favorites.

Classics that Craig Brown lists:

Tess of the D'Urbervilles (Clothbound Classics) by Hardy, Thomas (2008) HardcoverTess of the Durbervilles:  I have read this and was very drawn into Hardy’s world.  Hardy does not write novels with happy endings but they are very involving.

Middlemarch: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)Middlemarch:  I read this in college and also went back to it last year.  The setting and characters are so well and deeply portrayed.  I feel as if I know Dorothea with her literal and figurative short-sightedness and she is just one of many who live in this novel.

Cousin HenryCousin Henry:  This one by Anthony Trollope I have not read.  I  read this author’s Can You Forgive Her once when I was home sick and it took my mind off my woes.

Crime and Punishment (Vintage Classics)Crime and Punishment:  I have not read this novel but always feel that I should.  Thoughts on this one??

Great Expectations (Clothbound Classics) by Dickens, Charles (2008) HardcoverGreat Expectations:  This may be my favorite Dickens.  I was glued to it when I read it.  Great plot and characters.

Alice Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-GlassAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland:  Not just for children.  I read this when I was about fourteen and then again about two years ago.  A whole world is created.  It does not operate by the usual rules but gives new perspectives including “Off with her head!” and a unique game of croquet.

Anna KareninaI think that I would include Anna Karenina in my list.  I will blog on that one soon.



For National Poetry Month

How to Read Poetry Like a Professor: A Quippy and Sonorous Guide to VerseI learned about this one from BookPage.  It sounds like a great resource for learning more about poetry in a very non-intimidating way.  Seems like one worth thinking about during poetry month.

From the Back Cover

An essential primer to reading poetry that unlocks the keys to enjoying works from Lord Byron to the Beatles

No literary form is as admired and feared as poetry. Admired for its lengthy pedigree—a line of poets extending back to a time before recorded history—and a ubiquitous presence in virtually all cultures, poetry is also revered for its great beauty and the powerful emotions it evokes. But the form has also instilled trepidation in its many admirers mainly because of a lack of familiarity and knowledge.

Poetry demands more from readers—intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually—than other literary forms. Most of us started out loving poetry because it filled our beloved children’s books from Dr. Seuss to Robert Louis Stevenson. Eventually, our reading shifted to prose, and later when we encountered poetry again, we had no recent experience to make it feel familiar. But reading poetry doesn’t need to be so overwhelming. In an entertaining and engaging voice, Thomas C. Foster shows readers how to overcome their fear of poetry and learn to enjoy it once more.

How to Read Poetry Like a Professor examines a wide array of poems and teaches readers:

• How to read a poem to understand its primary meaning. • The different technical elements of poetry such as meter, diction, rhyme, line structures, length, order, and regularity, and how to learn to see these elements as allies rather than adversaries. • How to listen for a poem’s secondary meaning by paying attention to the echoes that the language of poetry summons up. • How to hear the music in poems—and the poetry in songs!

With How to Read Poetry Like a Professor, readers can rediscover poetry and reap its many rewards.

An important read (Diaz) with the highest recommendation I can give

You may know Junot Diaz from his novels which include The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Drown and This is How You Lose Her.  He has just published a piece, The Silence: The Legacy of Childhood Trauma,  in The New Yorker Magazine.  It is about his having been a victim of childhood sexual abuse, the profound impact of this, how he both avoided and tried to come to terms with the abuse and how it has impacted his life.  This is a riveting, heartbreaking and incredibly important article about how we can create ways to seemingly survive when we are breaking on the inside and how we might slowly get better.  You should not miss this one!!

Two good E-book deals (Bryson and Gee)

  Bill Bryson’s take on life in England is humorous and fun.  This one is perfect for the  curmudgeonly armchair traveler.  If you enjoy Notes…, I would also recommend his more recent book, The Road to Little Dribbling.  Yes, it is a real place in England!

The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking SocietyI also enjoyed The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society when I read it years ago.  I recall it as good women’s fiction with likeable characters.  A blurb:

From Booklist

Isabel Kidd is having enough trouble getting over her cheating almost-ex-husband’s death without the interference of her busybody neighbor, Bettie Shelton, cajoling her into hosting a scrapbooking party. Ava is struggling to make ends meet for her and her son, Max, making bottle-cap jewelry. Frances Latham and her husband discover some troubling news about Mei Ling, their prospective adoptive daughter from China. And there’s a goat loose behind Madeline’s Tea Salon. There are many threads to this story (including a female plumber with a secret past), but, like a good scrapbooker, Gee puts them all together beautifully. Bettie is the glue that holds the residents of Avalon together—whether they like it or not—and as she seems to unravel, the town comes together. This funny, moving book is the follow-up to Friendship Bread (2011), although The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society can stand on its own. A welcome addition to any women’s-fiction collection and a good choice for fans of Debbie Macomber’s knitting series. Recipes and scrapbooking tips are included. –Susan Maguire
Happy reading!


A cozy mystery (Chapman)

Date with Malice is the second book in Julia Chapman’s series, following on last year’s Date with Death which I read and enjoyed. Best in this novel are the recurring characters and the setting in the English countryside/Dales. This time, there are suspicious goings on at a residential community for seniors. Who is creating havoc and threatening the residents? Samson, a former undercover cop, and Delilah (yes, the names) are protagonists who spar, care for one another and have a history. Of course, there is a romance brewing. The mystery itself was not that hard to solve but all in all, this is an easy, pleasant novel for cozy lovers. Thanks for letting me read this NetGalley!

#DateWithMalice #NetGalley

A great cozy-ish series (Albert)

Thyme of Death (China Bayles 1)Queen Anne's Lace (China Bayles Mystery)I have been spending time in Pecan Springs, Texas for over twenty years.  Pictured are the first and last books of the series with over twenty novels in the middle. In these books, Susan Wittig Albert has created a place that feels real, peopled with characters that feel genuine, decent and real while also having a central mystery in each book. The characters grow over time as we learn more about their histories.  China Bayles, the protagonist, is a Texas lawyer who did not want to pursue that career any longer.  She moves to small town Texas where she opens an herb and plant shop. China meets a number of folks along the way, including the crystal reading Ruby who owns a shop nearby.  There is also Mike McQuaid and his son, Brian along with their dog.  Mike represents the police in the early books.  Each of the novels has a self-contained mystery with the author bringing in enough information that you do not have to read the series in order (though I recommend reading in order).

SPOILERS:  Ruby had a baby for whom she planned adoption; China’s mother has a complex history while what happened to China’s father and half brother?

SPOILERS DONE:  You will want to know what happens to each of these characters. I am eager to begin the latest novel which came out last week.  I have not missed a single one and will continue to read about China and Co for as long as the author lets me.  Please keep writing Ms. Albert!


thanks for this, criminal element website-a look at last year’s winners before the new winners are declared

2017 Edgar Award Winners

BEST NOVELBefore the Fall by Noah Hawley is a heart-pounding thriller that raises questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us together. Read Deborah Lacy’s review!
BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHORUnder the Harrow by Flynn Berry is a riveting psychological thriller and a haunting exploration of the fierce love between two sisters, the distortions of grief, and the terrifying power of the past—Ardi Alspach reviews!
BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINALRain Dogs by Adrian McKinty is the 5th novel in the Detective Sean Duffy series, winner of the Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original. Read Dirk Robertson’s review!
2017 Agatha Award Winners

BEST CONTEMPORARY NOVELA Great Reckoning by New York Times bestselling author Louise Penny is the 12th mystery featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. Read Katherine Tomlinson’s review!
BEST FIRST NOVELThe Semester of Our Discontent by Cynthia Kuhn is the 1st book in the Lila Maclean Academic Mystery series. Read Dirk Robertson’s review!
BEST HISTORICAL NOVELThe Reek of Red Herrings by Catriona McPherson is the 5th book in the Dandy Gilver Mystery series. Read Katherine Tomlinson’s review!

A pub day re-post

Twenty-One Days (Signed Book) (Daniel Pitt Series #1)Twenty-one Days is an offshoot of Anne Perry’s Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series. I read the first book, The Cater Street Hangman, in 1979. I can still remember not wanting to arrive at my destination on the subway because I wanted to keep reading.
So, it was with much anticipation that I began this novel in which Charlotte and Thomas’s son, Daniel, is the protagonist. He is all grown up, has attended Cambridge and is a newly qualified lawyer. Daniel is assigned several cases in this story, the 21 days has to do with the number of days it will be until a man convicted of murder will be hanged…or will he? Is he guilty? Read the story for a somewhat complex and engrossing solution.
It was lovely to see Thomas and Charlotte as peripheral characters and to read about Jemima, Thomas’s sister, who is now in New York. Victor Narraway and Aunt Vespasia also are mentioned. There are also new and very likeable characters as well.
If you like Anne Perry, read this! If you don’t know Anne Perry, read this and then work your way through the series starting with the book mentioned above. Highly recommended by me.