A – Z of TBRs: U, V and W

I’m now up to U, V and W in my A – Z of TBRs, a series of posts in which I take a fresh look at some of my TBRs to inspire me to read more of them, or maybe to decide not to bother reading them after all. These are books I bought full of enthusiasm to read each one – and mainly because I wanted to finish books I was already reading, they have sat on the shelves ever since. And then other books claimed my attention.

U V W books

– is for The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joycea novel I bought five years ago. It appealed to me because it’s about a man, Harold Fry, who walks from Kingsbridge in South Devon to Berwick-upon Tweed in Northumberland and I liked the idea of following his journey – on paper, that is.

Harold receives a letter from an old friend who is dying from cancer, writing to say goodbye. Feeling he can’t say what he wants to say in a letter he decides he needs to speak to her in person and phones the hospice where she is a patient:

‘Tell her Harold Fry is on his way. All she has to do is wait. Because I am going to save her, you see. I will keep walking and she must keep living. ‘ (page 28)

~~~

Harold Fry was a tall man who moved through life with a stoop, as if expecting a low beam, or a screwed-up paper missile, to appear out of nowhere. The day he was born his mother had looked at the bundle in her arms, and felt appalled. She was young, with a peony bud mouth and a husband who had seemed a good idea before the war and a bad one after it. A child was the last thing she wanted or needed. The boy learned quickly that the best way to get along in life was to keep a low profile; to appear absent even when present. He played with neighbours’ children, or at least he watched them from the edges. At  school he avoided attention to the point of appearing stupid. Leaving home when he was sixteen, he had set out on his own, until one night he caught Maureen’s eye across a dance hall and fell wildly in love. It was the brewery that had brought the couple to Kingsbridge. (page 36)

V – is for The Various Flavours of Coffee by Anthony Capella. I’ve had this book for nearly 10 years and started it not long after I bought it. My book mark is at the start of chapter twenty seven, so I’ve read about a third of the book. I can’t remember now why I stopped reading it. If I am going to read it I’ll have to start again.

It’s historical fiction and a love story beginning in 1896 in London where a struggling poet, Robert Wallis, accepts a commission from a mysterious coffee merchant, Samuel Pinker, to compose a ‘vocabulary of coffees’ that can capture their elusive fragrances. Robert is then dispatched to Africa in search of the world’s finest coffee.

In this extract Robert is considering how to describe black coffee beans:

… ‘these ones over here are as black as despair, whereas these are as golden as virtue -‘

‘No, no, no,’ Pinker interjected. ‘this is far too poetical. One man’s despair is another man’s gloom, and who is to say whether gloom and despair are the same colour?’

I saw his point. ‘Then we shall have to decide on words for several different shades of black.’

‘Exactly, sir – that is my purpose entirely.’

‘Hmm.’ I considered. It was, when one thought about it a rather vexing issue. ‘We shall begin,’ I declared, ‘by fixing the very blackest form of black there is.’

‘Very well.’

A silence fell upon us. It was in fact, quite hard to think of a word to describe the pure blackness of the darkest beans. ‘The pure black of a cow’s nose, I said at last. Pinker made a face. ‘Or the glistening black of a slug at dawn -‘

‘Too fanciful’ And if I may say so, hardly appetising.’

‘The black of a bible.’

‘Too objectionable.’

‘The black of a moonless night.’

Pinker tutted. (page 38)

and so it goes on, until they finally settled for ‘jet’.

W– is for The Water Horse by julia Gregson, a book I’ve had for nine years. This is a historical fiction based on the true story of a young Welsh woman, Jane Evans, a Welsh woman who in 1853 ran off with Welsh cattle drovers and volunteered as a nurse with Florence Nightingale in the Crimea.

The title refers to the story of the Water Horse

‘And God help you if you find the Water Horse,’ said Eleri, ‘he looks so lovely and he’s deadly.’

‘Do you believe in him?’ Catherine was interested at last. ‘I think about him every time I see the sea. ‘

‘No.’ She put down her pipe. ‘No, I don’t. but I do believe he shows us what we fear.’

‘What?’

‘Well, there he is: beautiful, extraordinary. he stands placidly by the water’s edge. We try to mount him, and sometimes you can ride him and feel so powerful, so wonderful, and the next time he bolts back into the sea with you and you die a horrible and frightening death. What could be clearer?’ Eleri’s eyes were shining in the dusk. ‘It’s our fear of being out of control. He’s the one who tells you, stick with the ordinary, don’t move, everything else is dangerous and nothing possible, but the problem is that if you fear everything you can’t control, you’ll never do anything that matters to you.’ (pages 58-9)

Looking at them this morning the one that appeals most is The Water Horse.

What do you think? Do you fancy any of them? Would you ditch any of them?

My Friday Post: Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Book Beginnings Button

Every Friday Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader where you can share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

This morning I have just started to read Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson.

It begins:

Major Pettigrew was still upset about the phone call from his brother’s wife and so he answered the doorbell without thinking.

Also every Friday there is The Friday 56, hosted by Freda at Freda’s Voice.

30879-friday2b56These are the rules:

  1. Grab a book, any book.
  2. Turn to page 56, or 56% on your eReader.
  3. Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
  4. Post it.
  5. Add the URL to your post in the link on Freda’s most recent Friday 56 post.

Page 56:

‘We may have to be a bit more bound by the rule book these days, but you can be sure that Tewkesbury and Teale will always try to do the best for you.’ The Major thought that perhaps after all this was settled he would do as he should have done in the first place and find himself another solicitor.

Description (Amazon):

Major Ernest Pettigrew is perfectly content to lead a quiet life in the 
sleepy village of Edgecombe St Mary, away from the meddling of the 
locals and his overbearing son. But when his brother dies, the Major 
finds himself seeking companionship with the village shopkeeper, Mrs 
Ali. Drawn together by a love of books and the loss of their partners, 
they are soon forced to contend with irate relatives and gossiping 
villagers. The perfect gentleman, but the most unlikely hero, the Major 
must ask himself what matters most: family obligation, tradition or 
love? 

Funny, comforting and heart-warming, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand proves that sometimes, against all odds, life does give you a second chance.

~~~

A change for me from crime fiction and historical fiction, I’m hoping this will be a good choice.

What do you think? Have you read it – or are you planning to read it?

 

My Week in Books: 18 April 2018

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next.

IMG_1384-0

A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I’ve made some progress with Little Dorrit, my Classics Club spin book. I’ve met the Meagles family with their spoiled daughter, Pet and her maid and companion, the wonderfully named Tattycoram, and also Arthur Clennam, recently returning to England from China. Arthur goes to his family home, a dark decrepit house in London where his mother lives, his father having recently died. But I haven’t met Little Dorrit yet – still a long way to go in this book.

Little Dorrit

I’m also reading Portrait of a Murderer by Anne Meredith, which is what it says in the title. I’ve nearly finished this book, which is fascinating, even though it is so long winded.

Description:

‘Adrian Gray was born in May 1862 and met his death through violence, at the hands of one of his own children, at Christmas, 1931.’

Thus begins a classic crime novel published in 1933 that has been too long neglected – until now. It is a riveting portrait of the psychology of a murderer.

Each December, Adrian Gray invites his extended family to stay at his lonely house, Kings Poplars. None of Gray’s six surviving children is fond of him; several have cause to wish him dead. The family gathers on Christmas Eve – and by the following morning, their wish has been granted. 

This fascinating and unusual novel tells the story of what happened that dark Christmas night; and what the murderer did next.

I’ve recently finished  A Dying Note by Ann Parker, her latest book in the Silver Rush Mysteries, which was published on 3 April 2018.

I loved this book, set in the autumn of 1881 in San Francisco, where Inez Stannert is making a new start in life, managing a music store. All is going well until the body of a young man, Jamie Monroe, is found washed up on the banks of Mission Creek canal.

I posted my review on Monday and gave it 4 stars.

What do you think you’ll read next:

Will it be Time is a Killer by Michel Bussi, which was published on 5 April 2018 and in last week’s post was the book I said I might read next? Or will it be something else? I still don’t know.

Description:

‘One of France’s most ingenious crime writers’ SUNDAY TIMES

‘Bussi breaks every rule in the book’ JOAN SMITH

It is summer 1989 and fifteen-year-old Clotilde is on holiday with her parents in Corsica. On a twisty mountain road, their car comes off at a curve and plunges into a ravine. Only Clotilde survives.

Twenty-seven years later, she returns to Corsica with her husband and their sulky teenage daughter. Clotilde wants the trip to do two things – to help exorcise her past, and to build a bridge between her and her daughter. But in the very place where she spent that summer all those years ago, she receives a letter. From her mother. As if she were still alive.

As fragments of memory come back, Clotilde begins to question the past. And yet it all seems impossible – she saw the corpses of her mother, her father, her brother. She has lived with their ghosts. But then who sent this letter – and why?

Have you read any of these books?  Do any of them tempt you? 

First Chapter First Paragraph: The Three Evangelists by Fred Vargas

Every Tuesday First Chapter, First Paragraph/Intros is hosted by Vicky of I’d Rather Be at the Beach sharing the first paragraph or two of a book she’s reading or plans to read soon.

This week I’m featuring The Three Evangelists by Fred Vargas, one of my favourite authors. I’ve read some of her Commissaire Adamsberg books and loved them. This one is the first in the Three Evangelists series.

The Three Evangelists (Three Evangelists, #1)

It begins:

‘Pierre, something’s wrong with the garden,’ said Sophia.

She opened the window and examined the patch of ground. She knew it by heart, every blade of grass. What she saw sent a shiver down her spine.

Blurb from the back cover:

The opera singer Sophia Siméonidis wakes up one morning to discover that a tree has appeared overnight in the garden of her Paris house. Intrigued and unnerved, she turns to her neighbours: Vandoosler, an ex-cop, and three impecunious historians, Mathias, Marc and Lucien – the three evangelists. They agree to dig around the tree and see if something has been buried there. They find nothing but soil.

A few weeks later, Sophia disappears and her body is found burned to ashes in a car. Who killed the opera singer? Her husband, her ex-lover, her best friend, her niece? They all seem to have a motive.

Vandoosler and the three evangelists set out to find the truth.

∼ ∼ 

This looks so different from her Adamsberg books – and yet at the same time so similar – quirky, with eccentric characters and with a mystery to solve.

What do you think – would you read on?

My Friday Post: A Dying Note by Ann Parker

Book Beginnings Button

Every Friday Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader where you can share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

This week’s book is A Dying Note by Ann Parker, her latest book in the Silver Rush Mysteries, which was published on 3 April 2018. I’ve just finished it, so my review will up soon.

 

It begins:

Not my hands!

Throat crushed, blood gurgled, words choked so they screamed only in the mind.

A dramatic opening to this novel set in 1881.

Also every Friday there is The Friday 56, hosted by Freda at Freda’s Voice.

30879-friday2b56These are the rules:

  1. Grab a book, any book.
  2. Turn to page 56, or 56% on your eReader.
  3. Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
  4. Post it.
  5. Add the URL to your post in the link on Freda’s most recent Friday 56 post.

56%:

Inez allowed herself to consider what life might have been like if she, her then-husband Mark Stannert, and their business partner, Abe Jackson, had come all the way to San Francisco as originally planned. Perhaps they would have built a drinking and gaming establishment to capture some of the fortune from gambling fever that clutched the golden city.

But that was not what happened. Seduced by the possibilities in the silver mining boom town of Leadville they had lingered in the city in the clouds, then settled in.

Description (Goodreads):

It’s autumn of 1881, and Inez Stannert, still the co-owner of Leadville, Colorado’s Silver Queen saloon, is settled in San Francisco with her young ward, Antonia Gizzi. Inez has turned her business talents to managing a music store, hoping to eventually become an equal partner in the enterprise with the store’s owner, a celebrated local violinist.

Inez’s carefully constructed life for herself and Antonia threatens to tumble about her ears when the badly beaten body of a young musician washes up on the filthy banks of San Francisco’s Mission Creek canal.

~~~

This is a fascinating historical mystery – I loved it.

What do you think? Have you read it – or are you planning to read it?

My Week in Books: 11 April 2018

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next.

IMG_1384-0

A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I’m reading three, Little Dorrit, Saint Thomas’s Eve, but my main book – the one I’ve been read most of the time this week is

 A Dying Note by Ann Parker, her latest book in the Silver Rush Mysteries, which was published on 3 April 2018

Description:

It’s autumn of 1881, and Inez Stannert, still the co-owner of Leadville, Colorado’s Silver Queen saloon, is settled in San Francisco with her young ward, Antonia Gizzi. Inez has turned her business talents to managing a music store, hoping to eventually become an equal partner in the enterprise with the store’s owner, a celebrated local violinist.

Inez’s carefully constructed life for herself and Antonia threatens to tumble about her ears when the badly beaten body of a young musician washes up on the filthy banks of San Francisco’s Mission Creek canal. Inez and Antonia become entangled in the mystery of his death when the musician turns out to have ties to Leadville, ties that threaten to expose Inez’s notorious past. And they aren’t the only ones searching for answers. Wolter Roeland de Bruijn, “finder of the lost,” has also been tasked with ferreting out the perpetrators and dispensing justice in its most final form. Leadville’s leading madam Frisco Flo, an unwilling visitor to the city with a Leadville millionaire, is on the hook as well, having injudiciously financed the young musician’s journey to San Francisco in the first place.

Time grows short as Inez and the others uncover long-hidden secrets and unsettled scores. With lives and reputations on the line, the tempo rises until the investigation’s final, dying note.

I’ve recently finished 

The Fire Court by Andrew Taylor, published on 5th April 2018

Description:

Somewhere in the soot-stained ruins of Restoration London, a killer has gone to ground…

The Great Fire has ravaged London, wreaking destruction and devastation wherever its flames spread. Now, guided by the incorruptible Fire Court, the city is slowly rebuilding, but times are volatile and danger is only ever a heartbeat away.

James Marwood, son of a traitor, is thrust into this treacherous environment when his ailing father claims to have stumbled upon a murdered woman in the very place where the Fire Court sits. Then his father is run down and killed. Accident? Or another murder…?

Determined to uncover the truth, Marwood turns to the one person he can trust – Cat Lovett, the daughter of a despised regicide. Marwood has helped her in the past. Now it’s her turn to help him. But then comes a third death… and Marwood and Cat are forced to confront a vicious and increasingly desperate killer whose actions threaten the future of the city itself.

I’ll post my review soon – I loved this book, following the story that began with The Ashes of London.

What do you think you’ll read next:

Now the difficult part – what to read next! I say difficult because I often change my mind when the time comes to start another book. At the moment I’m thinking it could be:

Time is a Killer by Michel Bussi, which was published on 5 April 2018

Description:

‘One of France’s most ingenious crime writers’ SUNDAY TIMES

‘Bussi breaks every rule in the book’ JOAN SMITH

It is summer 1989 and fifteen-year-old Clotilde is on holiday with her parents in Corsica. On a twisty mountain road, their car comes off at a curve and plunges into a ravine. Only Clotilde survives.

Twenty-seven years later, she returns to Corsica with her husband and their sulky teenage daughter. Clotilde wants the trip to do two things – to help exorcise her past, and to build a bridge between her and her daughter. But in the very place where she spent that summer all those years ago, she receives a letter. From her mother. As if she were still alive.

As fragments of memory come back, Clotilde begins to question the past. And yet it all seems impossible – she saw the corpses of her mother, her father, her brother. She has lived with their ghosts. But then who sent this letter – and why?

Have you read any of these books?  Do any of them tempt you? 

I Spy Book Challenge

I saw this on Cleopatra Loves Books blog and immediately wanted to do it too – after all I love lists as well as books. It’s not as easy as I hoped!

Find a book on your bookshelves that contains (either on the cover or in the title) an example for each category. You must have a separate book for all 20, get as creative as you want and do it within five minutes!! (or longer if you have way too many books on way too many overcrowded shelves!)

Links, where they exist, are to my posts on the books.

1. Food

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck – a TBR

The Grapes of Wrath

2. Transportation

Girl on a Train by A J Waines – I haven’t read this yet, although I have read the ‘other’ book The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

Girl on a Train

3. Weapon

The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman – the second book in His Dark Materials trilogy. I loved these books.

The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, #2)

4. Animal

The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney – my review post is on its way!

The Tenderness of Wolves

5. Number

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, one of my TBRs

6. Something you Read

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

 The Nightingale: Bravery, Courage, Fear and Love in a Time of War by [Hannah, Kristin]

7. Body of Water

The Sea Detective by Mark Douglas Home

The Sea Detective by [Douglas-Home, Mark]

8. Product of Fire

The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by Umberto Eco – another TBR

9. Royalty

The King’s Evil by Edward Marston

The King's Evil (Christopher Redmayne Book 1) by [Marston, Edward]

10. Architecture

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

11. Item of Clothing

The Boy with No Shoes by William Horwood – one of my TBRS

12. Family Member

Sins of the Fathers by Susan Howatch – a book I read pre-blogging days

Sins Of The Fathers by [Howatch, Susan]

13. Time of Day

4.50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie

14. Music

Exit Music by Ian Rankin

15. Paranormal Being

The Ghost by Robert Harris – TBR

16. Occupation

The Gravedigger’s Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates

17. Season

Winter in Madrid by C J Sansom

Winter in Madrid by [Sansom, C. J.]

18. Colour

The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards

The Golden Age of Murder by [Edwards, Martin]

19. Celestial Body

The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Penman

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20. Something that Grows

The Daffodil Affair by Michael Innes

Wow all twenty items found quite quickly but it took much than five minutes to compile this post …

How many are on your bookshelf? Consider yourself tagged if you enjoyed this post!