General Bookishness and a Catch-Up…

catch_upSo – life has been throwing a few curve balls lately, and I thought I might maintain the illusion of control if I caught up with some mini-reviews of what I’ve been reading. There’s nothing wrong with these books just because they didn’t receive a full review – sometimes you just have nothing more to say about one book than another, but it’s not a quality thing (in this blog post, at least).

So –onward:

Wickham bookA Desirable Residence –Madeleine Wickham (1996)

Another very light read, this one picked up in a charity shop in England on a trip home and written by Wickham (which is another name for Sophie Kinsella of the Shopaholic books which I haven’t read).  This was a fluffy story concerning a middle class family with financial problems complicated by infidelity and a real estate transaction gone badly. (Reminded me rather of Joanna Trollope et al.) Absolutely nothing deep and meaningful in this book, but it’s not marketed to be any different so it does just what it says on the tin. Not a bad read, not a great read – just cleansed the palate, really. (And – another off the TBR pile. Hooray!)

Flavia5Speaking from the Bones (Flavia de Luce #5) – Alan Bradley (2012)

I have enjoyed the very light reads so far in the series, but either I have had enough (as a reader) or the standard is going down, but I have not enjoyed this one as much. I seem to have been much less patient with this volume and quick to pick it apart with my Editor Mind, but that might be my fault as much as the author’s. He’s a best-selling author, so obviously he’s on to a winning combination, but I think I’ve had enough of Flavia.

One of the cringe-inducing face-palming characteristics of this book is that the author will keep mentioning things that are blindingly obvious to anyone who has a brain and who has been keeping up with the story, and then he mentions them again and then again (just in case…) Wow. Give your readers some credit to keep up with a story. It’s a simple mystery – not quantum physics – so let the reader work things out for him/herself.

I’m also less patient with some of the comments and actions that Flavia says and does. I comprehend that she is an 11-year old science prodigy, but come on – would she *really* know so many esoteric details about everything when she’s had little formal education? Hmm.

So – although I see that the actual story, and its narrative arc are good, I think this is the end of the line for Flavia and me, but I might be the odd duck out there. However, I must say that the ending blew me away – what a twist!

I dug around a bit more on-line wrt Bradley: some of the storyline seems to be quite autobiographical (single parent home, read as a child in cemetery etc.) but then again, who’s to know what’s true (says the cynical PR side of me). He was born in Canada, and had not visited England until his first book won that big crime writer prize and he flew there to pick it up at the awards ceremony. It’s hard to find much about him on-line that’s different from his official marketing biography, but I did notice in his Acknowledgements of this book, he thanks a “Bill Bryson” who I wondered whether he was the “Bill Bryson” the author, but on further reflection, the author Bill Bryson was born in Iowa  (not in Canada) so maybe not.

Apparently, the Flavia books are a six-part series so this was #5. One more perhaps?

Benson5Mapp and Lucia #3 – E. F. Benson (1931)

And another entry in the ongoing saga of village politics with Miss Mapp and Lucia… Fun stuff.  For example, this quotation rather sums up one of the two characters who are vying for the supremacy of the village:

She [Elizabeth Mapp] passed, as she neared Grebe, Lucia’s four indoor servants and Cadman coming into the town, and, remembering that they were going to a whist drive at the Institute, wished them a merry Christmas and hoped that they would all win. (Little kindly remarks like that always pleased servants, thought Elizabeth; they showed a human sympathy with their pleasures, and cost nothing; so much better than Christmas boxes.)

Reminds me a bit of the witty asides that the Dowager (Maggie Smith) on Downton Abbey would throw out every now and then…

And – big announcement – after talking and thinking about doing it for ages, I have actually rearranged and moved around the furniture in the back room which was rather a Black Hole of Calcutta. I couldn’t easily access my books and it was a messy shared space with SuperHero. So – I moved things around, carried extra stuff out to the garage (where it more belonged) and went through my books. I love going in there now, and I have much more space to breathe when I’m choosing a book from the shelves.  I had not realized how much difference a simple reorganization of shelves and things would make. Worth doing for realz.

And as part of the outburst of furniture-rearranging, I saw that there were quite a few books which mentioned houses and/or domesticity in title or topic, so thought it would be entertaining to put together a pile of these books since I had them all off the shelves anyway…

Ta-daa.

house books

(And yes – I quite obviously had too much time on my hands, and need to get a life. 🙂 )

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