Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Something Light by Margery Sharp

I'm trying to get back into my reading groove, alternating between mysteries and novels.  I make a distinction between the two.  My bookshelves are finished, but I'm letting the paint cure until this weekend or next week.  Then I can put away my books.

I moved all the boxes out of the closet in the library and, today, I arranged my collection of classical LPs, blues, jazz, and musicals in the armoire where my little all-in-one (record player, tape player, CD player, and radio) lives now.  And my boxed set of Walt Disney's Treasury of Dog Stories:  The Incredible Journey, Savage Sam, Big Red, Old Yeller, Greyfriars Bobby, and Nikki, which I don't remember ever seeing (Half-dog, half-wolf...his courage and cunning made him a legend in a vast untamed land).  Six liquor boxes emptied and on their way to being recycled.

When Something Light came up on a bargain e-book site, I bought it.  The author's name rang a bell and then I realized she had written The Rescuers, a childhood favorite.  I read Something Light in two days.  It was just the break I needed.

Louisa Datchett is Datchett Photographer of Dogs, a professional, independent woman in the 1950s  -  who photographs dogs.  She suddenly decides that she should marry.  Unfortunately, Louisa doesn't know how to go about it.  She likes men and they like her.  But that usually means that she takes care of them and that they expect her to take care of them.  They don't want to marry her.

She decides to marry a wealthy man.  A very wealthy older man she met abroad sends her a letter asking her to meet him.  She thinks he's planning to ask her to marry him and she's ready to accept.  But he wants her to be a buffer between him and the woman he's pined for for years and who's now available, a widow.  Disappointed but up for a week of good food, she accepts.  She and the man  become great friends but she has to leave.

Then she decides to marry a steady man, someone responsible.  She looks up a former boyfriend but realizes that he doesn't want to get married, even though he likes her and they share fond memories.  What she finds is that many men like the idea of marriage, the idea of romance, but they don't want the reality of it.

Finally, she thinks she wants a family.  Through a babysitting job, she meets a widower with three teenage children.  She ends up liking the children and not liking the man at all.

She gives up on marriage and decides to devote herself to her photography.  Until a man she dislikes, and who dislikes her, complicates things.

This book was just what the title promised:  Something Light.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Spending Time in France

No, I haven't been out of the country, not using my passport anyway.  I've accidentally spent three books worth of time in France.  I didn't plan to read three books that take place in France, but that's what happened.

  A friend recommended the mystery The Bookseller by Mark Pryor.  I'm not sure I realized that it was set in Paris.  Even odder, one of its characters shares a name with a character in Chasing Cezanne, another of the books set in France.  Coincidences are so, well, coincidental.  I liked The Bookseller, but I don't feel compelled to read the next in the series right away.  Booksellers who sell used books from  kiosks along the Seine begin to disappear and reappear dead.  One is Hugo Marston's friend.  Marston is head of security for the American embassy in Paris.  He saw his friend Max abducted at gunpoint and is determined to find out what happened to Max and why.  He has help from a beautiful (and rich) journalist and an old friend who is ex-CIA.

I didn't read Le Road Trip next.  I just can't figure out how to move the picture around on my blog.  I read When Wanderers Cease to Roam by Vivian Swift several years ago.  I was enchanted by Swift's watercolors and her direct and descriptive writing.  Le Road Trip is the story of the trip her late-in-life-new-husband and she took in France.  She'd been all over the world before she met James and he had, too.  Seasoned travellers, but new to each other.  Her watercolors are just as enchanting.  Their adventures and her thoughts about travel and love make the book fun to dip in and out of.

I had read two of Peter Mayle's books, A Dog's Life and Toujours Provence.  Chasing Cezanne is one of his novels, which takes place mostly in France.  A photographer happens to see a Cezanne being removed from a house in a plumber's van.  That didn't seem right.  When he contacted the owner, the owner didn't seem to be very concerned.  That was odd, too.  The photographer, his girlfriend, and an art dealer discover a plot to sell forged art, but they don't uncover the entire plot.  This one took me a while to finish.  I was interested, but it wasn't gripping.

If you've made it this far, you should know that I'm writing this while the carpenters are running a sander, finishing the installation of the bookshelves in my new library.  My books have been living in boxes in the sun room and I can't wait to shelve them (ever the little librarian!).  But after the shelves are painted, they have to cure.  I've been too eager in the past and had books stick slightly to painted shelves that felt dry to me.

The carpenter's helper is my old high school friend, Bruce.  His friend Ryck is the carpenter and he / they are doing a terrific job.  Jack's pleased and if you can please Jack ....

And Smokestack Masonry just left after lining our fireplace chimney and installing a gorgeous copper chimney cap.  If you live in the Lancaster area, we can highly recommend Smokestack.  Brian and Courtney are prompt, professional, and careful to leave your house they way they found it, except for a safer chimney.

It's amazing that I could string four words together with all the activity and noise, at least I hope I've written something that makes some sort of sense!

C'est vrai!  Mais non!  Parapluie!  

Friday, March 2, 2018

February Books Read

I believe I've set a new low for myself:  I only finished four, count 'em, FOUR books in February!  I''m still trying to get settled in our new house, unpacking boxes (where did all these boxes come from?!), and trying to find the best places for things.

We solved one problem, very nicely, I think.  The decor of our house is sort of Art Deco.  The living room has a large slightly bay window with rectangular panes of glass.  I treasure the openness of the house, the views of the trees and the landscapes, so I didn't want to hang curtains or put up blinds.  I decided Japanese screens would be the thing and my husband found the perfect ones on-line.  They sit on the window sill and cover only the lower part of the windows.  We can see out over them if we're standing, but they give us some privacy if we're sitting on the sofa.  I love the way they look and am pleased with my brainstorm and his ability to find just about anything on the Internet.  I don't have that patience.

The books I finished are:

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Death of an Airman by Christopher St. John Sprigg

Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child

Past Tense by William G. Tapply

My favorite of the four is the last one.  It takes place on Cape Cod and in Massachusetts, places I know well.  It was also a tense (was the title a play on words?) murder mystery.  It's part of the Brady Coyne series by the late author.  I've read a few of them but now think I'd like to catch up.

In a Dark, Dark Wood is the kind of book that makes you rethink a quiet vacation in the woods.  Do you really want to be that far away from other people?  Especially when creepy, murderous things are happening?

I read Death of an Airman because Katrina had read it and enjoyed it.  It's one of the British Library Crime Classics.  I love reading about or watching movies about the birth of flying, the old planes, the dinky airfields, the excitement of solo flight.  This one had all that  -  plus murders!

Gone Tomorrow was a disappointment.  Jack Reacher didn't seem to be as compelling as he often is.    He's riding the NY subway late at night and sees a woman who fits almost all the criteria for a suicide bomber.  She's not, but mayhem follows.  The book only got exciting at the very end.

My library has one unit of shelves up and the man making the shelves e-mailed that he has three more units ready for installation on Monday.  This means that our weekend will be spent painting the walls in the room, getting them ready for the shelving.  It's a very bright room, not too much direct sunlight, I hope, so I've chosen a very, very dark green (Valspar Blackened Pine) to tone things down a bit.  When we're finished, I'll post a photo.

I'm off to the library this morning to use my new library card for the first time.  I've requested Le Road Trip by Vivian Swift and The Bookseller by Mark Pryor and both are waiting for me.  I hope you all have a lovely reading weekend.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Books, Books, and More Books

That's what my husband titled the two photos he took of yesterday's purchases.  He's right.  I had no business buying books when I have 50+ boxes of books waiting for shelves to be built.  They can't wait to get to their new home, or maybe I can't wait to have them there.  Why is it that when your books are right there, on the shelves or stacked on the floor, your bedside table, etc., you can ignore them for months, but when you can't see them, can't touch them, you need them?

If you've been reading my sporadic blog, you know that we've been moving since last October.  We bought a house just outside Lancaster, PA, where I was born.  We did some updating, some painting, and loaded the car with smaller items to move on each trip from Philadelphia to Lancaster.  In January, we put our Philadelphia house on the market and sold it in 24 hours.  Amazing and wonderful.  The sale closed this past Thursday, so we have cut ties with Philly and have become Lancastrians.

But there are still boxes and boxes of household items to unpack.  It's difficult to decide where things go.  Some are easy, but which drawer or cupboard is the best place for the bowls that seldom get used or the oversized utensils?  The blender doesn't fit on the counter under the cabinets.  Where can it live so it's available for the smoothies we plan to make?  I've been culling clothes and 'stuff' as I unpack.  I have two bags to go to Goodwill or some charity organization.  We've been stashing boxes in what will be my library, the guest room upstairs, and another room.  At least we can relax in an uncluttered living room, bedroom, and dining room.  But the boxes are waiting, or lurking.

We haven't used the stove or dishwasher yet, but I did laundry last week in the big, old washer and dryer.  I'm holding my breath because the dryer didn't roll the sheets up like cigars, one of my greatest frustrations with the new dryer we had in Philly.  I hope this one continues to just fluff up the sheets until they're dry.

Back to the books.  Lancaster Public Library has several book sales each year.  I saw the notice in the newspaper and a friend e-mailed me about the sale.  So, yesterday, Jack dropped me off at the sale while he went to fight with Comcast (no winners in that one yet).  I'm only in the market for paperbacks these days, books to read and pass along.  At the sale, they were $0.50 each.  At that price, I bought quite a few authors I'd never read, mostly mysteries.  I've never read the Peter Mayle book or anything by Richard Russo, so I'm looking forward to those.

I bought these books for Jack, hoping that, as an ex-competitive sailor who misses his boat very much, he could get a sailing fix from reading them.  In case the photo's too fuzzy to read, they're eleven books in Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series set in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars and two stand-alones by the same author.  Truthfully, I've only read Master and Commander and am looking forward to reading the series, too.  Twenty-eight books for less than $15.00.  Really.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

January Books Read

This is the best I can do at the moment.  We're still in the middle of moving house.  We bought a house in late October and thought how great it was that we'd have time to paint and renovate and move things before we sold our house in Philly.  Well, I'm not sure moving slowly is the way to do it.

The house in Philly sold the day after the Open House.  It's 99% a done deal, all the preliminary papers signed and inspections completed, just one thing to clear up and then the closing on the 22nd.  Movers are coming on the 13th to move the big furniture that we can't move and my many, many boxes of books.  I've already apologized to them twice.  We moved some of my more fragile or valuable books ourselves.

But, in just a few weeks, we get to sort out the chaos that is our new house.  How did we get all this 'stuff' and where are we going to put it?!  But there are gardens, a fireplace, huge mature trees, a fenced yard, a large patio, peace and quiet.  And good and old friends very close.  And family close, too.

In the meantime, here's what I managed to read in January:

Blackbird Fly  -  Lisa McClendon

Death Walks the Woods  -  Cyril Hare

Between the Pages  -  Kathleen Adelaide

The Wanted  -  Robert Crais

Dirge for a Dorset Druid  -   Margot Arnold

Nine Coaches Waiting  -  Mary Stewart

Blackbird Fly was sort of a combination of those 'ex-pat moves to village in France / Italy / some other European country and has trouble with the natives.  Except that this one is a suspense novel and includes more than one murder.  It didn't grab me and whirl me along, but I liked it enough to keep going.

I've always liked Cyril Hare and this one didn't disappoint.  There's a murder in a small village, there are quirky characters, there's even some humor.

Between the Pages is exactly what I expected from one of my favorite book bloggers, mirabile dictu. She write erudite blog posts about her love of Latin and books, and, sometimes, Latin books!  None of the books she writes about in Between the Pages are Latin books, though.  I love people who love books, but isn't that why you're reading this?  I recommend both her book, available on Amazon, and her blog.

The Wanted was good, but there wasn't enough Joe Pike!  More Joe Pike!  More Joe Pike!

With Dirge for a Dorset Druid, I've realized that although I like this series, my enjoyment is marred by the size of the type in the copies I've been able to find.  It's small and crowded on the page.  I'm at the age where my eyes blur and cross when confronted with too much small, crowded type.  It takes me forever to read.  That said, I like the archeological and murderous adventures of Sir Toby and Dr. Penny (I think she's a Dame now).  They're characters themselves and they're often in interesting locations to solve crimes.

Nine Coaches Waiting is a reread.  It's not on my list of Books Read, but I know I read it back in my teen years.  I wasn't as compulsive about keeping my list then as I am now.  Maybe I need to keep order in my life more now than back then.  Mary Stewart always delivers an exciting, romantic, suspenseful book.  At least that's my experience.  This one takes place in near the French / Swiss border, at an estate on the side of a mountain.  It involves a young boy set to inherit the estate when he comes of age and his uncle, who is his trustee.  Maybe his uncle thinks he should inherit the estate.      The new governess thinks the boy is at risk.

That's all folks until I get moved and settled.  I hope after that happens, someone will return my mind!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

December's Books

Not that anyone's been clamoring for more, but I hope to get back to more frequent and chattier posts after 2018 gets underway.  We're still in the middle of moving, painting and overseeing a few updates to the new house and decluttering the old one.  Next Sunday is our first and only open house for the sale.  Fingers crossed that someone falls in love with all the old woodwork, the swinging kitchen door with stained glass, and all the other little and big things.  We're hoping that someone will be as happy in this house as we hope to be in our new one.

Before I get to the books I read, I'm so sad to read that Sue Grafton has died.  I love the Kinsey Millhone books and was eagerly waiting for the 'Z' book.  Grafton's husband says that she didn't get to write 'Z', so, for some of us, the alphabet will forevermore be incomplete.  I heard Grafton interviewed several years ago and she seemed like someone who was down to earth and would be fun to know.  RIP.

I didn't have time to read much in December, but I took a break from cleaning today and finished two books.  Here's what I read in December:

I Know a Secret  -  Tess Gerritsen

Life from Scratch  -  Sasha Martin

Double, Double  -  Ellery Queen

Death Overdue  -  Mary Lou Kirwin

Poison in the Pen  -  Patricia Wentworth

Harcore Twenty-Four  -  Janet Evanovich

Anne of Avonlea  -  L. M. Montgomery

A Little Neighborhood Murder  -  A. J. Orde

One day soon, I hope to be lying on the sofa in my new library, listening to the birds and watching the trees sway in the wind.