Books, life the universe

Monday, 27 December 2010

With Christmas out of the way . . .

. . . it's back to the reading.

John Galsworthy - The Forsyte Saga - all nine volumes of it. I haven't read it since the BBC dramatised the books back in the 1960s with Nyree Dawn Porter and Irene and Kenneth More as young Jolyon. I find I am still seeing all those famous faces as I read!

Patricia Wentworth - The Gazebo - I do love these Golden Age detective story writers and it's great - form my point of view - that some at least are available as e-books.

Books read:

David Austin - Delivered Unto Lions - not my usual sort of book but I found it compelling reading. Daniel is 12 when he is sent to Oakdale - a psychiatric children's unit in the 1970s. It is written in the first person in a matter of fact style which makes it all the more effective. He is suffering from depression and the regime at Oakdale would be more likely to give anyone depression than cure it. Daniel is kept in the dark about just about everything and punished if he asks questions. I really hope children - or adults for that matter - are not treated like this now.

Ngaio Marsh - Final Curtain - Troy is commissioned to paint the portrait of an ageing Shakespearean actor dressed as Macbeth. Naturally he ends up dead which provides another case for Troy's husband Roderick Alleyn.

Anthony Powell's Dance to the Music of Time is starting to appear in e-book format.

Friday, 24 December 2010


I love chocolate. One of my favourite Christmas treats is Cocoa dusted French Truffles from Waitrose. There may be other places that stock them but if so I haven't managed to find them yet. I bought two boxes when I was in Norfolk the other week and started one of them the other day - yumm!!

They are just melt in the mouth gorgeous. I used to buy them quite often when I lived near Waitrose but they're only a Christmas treat now - or they were until I bothered to look at the box on Wednesday and found a web address - They do mail order and have other varieties of chocolates and truffles.

I ordered some more on Wednesday evening and they arrived this morning so I would like to recommend this website to any chocoholics out there not just for marvellous chocolates but also for excellent service. They will be getting more of my custom.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Latest books read and current reading

Ruth Rendell - The Monster in the Box - Wexford and a blast from his past. Much of the story is told in conversations between Burden and Wexford which could make for a boring story but all the ramifications of the past and the present keep the reader's interest. It's a long time since I read any of Ruth Rendell's novels and I enjoyed this one so I shall be looking for more - provided they are e-book format!

M C Beaton - Death of a Maid - in this case maid means cleaning lady. Hamish wins the services of a somewhat aggressive and unpleasant cleaning lady. He and her other customers don't know whether to pleased or sorry when she is found dead - hit over the head with her own bucket.

Hazel Holt - Mrs Malory and the festival Murder - this is the first Mrs Malory book I've read and I shall be looking out for more. They are English village murder stories with a literary and musical background. Crime in a classic mould.

M C Beaton - Death of a Dustman - Fergus is not the most popular dustman in the world and soon becomes even less popular when he is given a new uniform and more power . Is he murdered because he has been brow-beating the villagers into recycling everything or is it something more than that?

Current reading:

Still plodding through Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke - one chapter at a time.

Amy Silver - Confessions of a Reluctant Recessionista - chick lit about Cassie who loses her job and her boyfriend and goes on spending sprees to make her feel better. Clearly she is heading for disaster. Well written and entertaining light reading.

M C Beaton - Death of a Celebrity - those who are bored with reading about Hamish Macbeth will be relieved to know I've almost come to the end of the available e-books in this series.

Julia Cameron - Mozart's Ghost - set in New York - a story about a medium who needs peace and quiet for her job but finds it disturbed by a pianist playing Mozart moving into her apartment block. I've read nearly 100 pages of this and I'm really not sure about it. I shall persevere - it may redeem itself.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

More reading

Sue Moorcroft - Want to Know a Secret? - Diane and Gareth have been married 25 years and live in an isolated Fenland village counting the pennies in order to make ends meet. Then Diane is told Gareth has been seriously injured in a helicopter crash and Gareth's secret life unravels. The characters are well done - the feisty Diane and the controlling and manipulative Gareth. The outcome is not what you might expect for many of the characters and all are changed by the end of the story. I really enjoyed it if you want something more than 20 something heroines with problems revolving around their lack of boyfriends.

Rebecca Tope - A Cotswold Mystery - Thea Osborne has to look after and house and an elderly lady next door who may or may not be as senile as you might think. The fourth novel in this interesting series includes Thea's daughter Jessica but only a very brief appearance by Phil Hollis - Thea's significant other.

M C Beaton - Death of a Scriptwriter - a darker novel in this series featuring Highland policeman - Hamish Macbeth

Currently reading

Shannon Hale - Austenland - Jane's aunt leaves her a 3 week Jane Austen experience when she stays in a country house and has to pretend to be a young lady of the Regency period. Interesting concept though some of the details are not right - the title Sir is used with the person's Christian name not his surname. The author is America - as is the heroine.

M C Beaton - Death of a Dreamer - an artist has her own fantasy life and ends up dead - Hamish thinks it's murder - Blair thinks it's suicide.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Books and a good web site for crime novels

M C Beaton's Death of a Poison Pen - a Hamish Macbeth story. Poison pen letters lead to a suicide or is it murder? I wasn't sure about this series at first but I was sufficiently interested to keep reading and it is definitely growing on me.

Rebecca Tope - A Cotswold Killing - the first in her series about Thea Osbourne - a widow - who takes on house sitting assignments and gets involved in investigating murders. The second in the series is A Cotswold Ordeal. I seem to remember reading one of this series some years ago and wasn't keen but I have gone back to them and found them interesting. Thea is growing on me as a character and the plots are nice and complicated.

Currently reading:

Polly Samson - Perfect Lives - this is a book which has been in the news recently because of some Amazon reviews which were less than favourable. I'm not sure I would have bought it myself but it is quite good. It is a book of interlinked short stories and the writing is a little too self conscious for my taste. I shall persevere and hope when I post a review on Amazon it doesn't attract too much criticism.

Rebecca Tope - Death in the Cotswolds - the third in the series and narrated by someone in the village where Thea Osbourne goes to stay with Phil Hollis - a police superintendent. Pagan undertones, village life and the plot centres round a prehistoric barrow and the pagan festival of Samhain.

Susanna Clarke - Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell - a very long book about magic in the 19th century with pictures and footnotes. I have mixed feelings about this but I will persevere with it.

Web site - for those of us who like cozy mysteries - For the uninitiated - cozy (or cosy if you prefer) are crime or mystery novels which have very little violence and usually feature every day situations and characters often with a theme - such as candlemaking, cooking, knitting etc.. All the above crime novels fall into this category. It is a genre which is perhaps more popular in America than here. The Golden Age authors fall into this category - Agatha Christie, Georgette Heyer, Dorothy L Sayers.