Discussion

Book Club

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I have read, or heard, that residents of Victoria (and outside) have a favourite hobby: reading. So here is your chance to let us know about the books and authors you have read and enjoyed, or hated. My name is Cynthia and I will be your moderator, checking into this site at least twice a week to read what you have to pass on about the books you are reading or have read, what you recommend, etc. and so exchange ideas with fellow readers. Just type in your ideas in the space below, copy what you see under "security key", hit submit and you are on your way. Your email address will not appear in the discussions (its only for SeniorLivingMag) and is quite safe. So let's get started. First, Jane. You asked about medieval historical fiction (Brother Cadfael, Simon Scarrows books and others). Has anyone read any of these books? Any suggestions? I have just finished the saddest book: A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines about a young lad caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, a shoot out, is accused of murder tho innocent. The story takes place in the US South in the 40s and gives the feelings ripe then between the races. Tho fiction, it reads like non-fiction. To cheer me up after that sad book I am now reading Nick Hornby's "About a Boy", light and cheery. You may have seen the movie. Look forward to your ideas and suggestions. Happy reading.

Posted by: cynthia | August 26th, 2009

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Hi, Cynthia, good to have you as our moderator. My name is Wendy. Sorry, Jane, I have not recently read any medieval history books so do not have any to recommend. I have, however, read "A Lesson Before Dying" Cynthia, and, like you, found it very sad. One of my favourite authors is Alexander McCall Smith. He has written several series -- "The Ladies #1 Detective Agency," set in Botswana, S. Africa, a "44 Scotland Street" series (aboot life in Edinburgh, Scotland, ye ken?), Isabel Dalhousie, another series set in Edinburgh, and other books. Mr. McCall's stories are gentle, tolerant, wise and witty comments on human foibles and life situations. If I feel the need to unwind, I pick up one and read one of AMS's books. Anyone else a fan of AMS?

Posted by: J. Wendy Winter | August 31st, 2009

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Welcome to the Book Club, Wendy. Glad you are here. It's been years since I read one of McCall Smith's books but must get one from the library. Here is some information about this author: He is a Zimbabwean-born British author of mysteries based in Africa and in Scotland, and has also written delightful children's books. As well as a prolific writer of books, he is a Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh. A busy man. Another British-African born author you might enjoy is William Boyd and also Peter Godwin who wrote the non-fiction "Mukiwa".
If you read this, Jane, you might be interested in the medeival mysteries by Barry Unsworth. I hope you will join this discussion group. Future suggestions could be on travel books, biograpies and autobiographies, history, general fiction....... Anything goes. Let's hear from all you readers out there. What are you reading? What have you read?

Posted by: cynthia | September 1st, 2009

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I too really enjoy AM Smiths books,I have purchased,as far as I know all of the ones he wrote for adults,at last count 22.

Posted by: Audrey Black | September 3rd, 2009

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Wow, Audrey, 22 of AMS's books. What a wonderful collection. I have only four; the rest I borrowed from the library. I try to keep up, but AMS can write them faster than I can read them! Recently, I read and very much enjoyed "The Book of Negroes" by Canadian author, Lawrence Hill. A historical novel, it is about smart, courageous Aminata Diallo, an eleven-year-old girl who, captured in her native Africa and sent to America as a slave, not only survives the abysmal cruelty of her captors, but transends adversity.

Posted by: J. Wendy Winter | September 3rd, 2009

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I have added 'The Book of Negroes' to my must-read list, Wendy. Sounds interesting. You might like to try Adam Hochchild's history of slavery, "Bury the Chains". It is a fascinating, horrendous, eye-opening but not dry history of how slavery spread all over the world and how it ended.
For anyone who enjoys reading n/f or fiction stories based in India these might be of interest: Ruling Caste by David Gilmore (n/f), Great Hedge of India by Roy Moxham (n/f), White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (f) and many books by Paul Scott. I will cover other authors/stories (f and n/f) from different countries on another posting. Any suggestions from readers in this Book Club?
Mysteries anyone? Here are some authors: Michael Connelly, Leslie Thomas (Dangerous Davies series), Ian Rankin, Patricia Cornwell ......
(do fill in the blanks!).
Now that the children/grands are back at school, I am sure we will all have time to get back into those books. Look forward to reading your suggestions.

Posted by: cynthia | September 6th, 2009

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Lovely to be able to chat about books. I have a new skill as a mature retired librarian/avid reader. I no longer feel the need to finish a book if it doesn't capture my attention within the first 2 or 3 chapters. A few years ago I would been horrified to NOT finish a book once started!I am also a lover of Alexander McCall Smith's books. The variety of themes and writing styles impresses me. Audrey, have you read 'La's orchestra saves the world?' I think this is his most recent book and a complete departure from his others. You might also enjoy 'Botswana time,' by Will Randall, a true account of the author's years as a teacher in Botswana. You will find it in the library at 916.88304 RAN.

Posted by: Julie Adamson | September 6th, 2009

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Glad you found the Club, Julie! Another fan of McCall Smith too. His books really are popular. Yes, it's great to find the time to read just what one facies now we have entered the golden years, and thank goodness for libraries. With suggestions coming through these discussions, I have got myself a notebook in which I have been entering the books I must read as time goes by.
You must all know of many of our good Canadian authors and you have read many of their books. I want to mention three of them here: Joe Schlesinger who wrote Time Zones, his autobio. His story about his escape by train from Czechoslovakia at the start of WWII was mentioned on the news lately. Michael Ignatieff (yes, the one) has written scores of learned books but also a couple of novels. Scar Tissue (have a box of kleenex beside you) and Charlie Johnson in the Flames (Kosovo, where he was during those troublesome times) both read like non-fiction. And The Pullet Surprise (say it fast) by Michael Kluckner about his trials and tribulations while setting up a chicken (pullet) farm in B.C. Good for a chortle.
I am looking forward to more discussions and reading suggestions.

Posted by: cynthia | September 9th, 2009

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I read The Pullet Surprise years ago - what a wonderful read that was. It doesn't sound like it from the title, but it's a fascinating story. I read another book years ago about someone who raised pigs - the same kind of story - I think it was a girl that raised the pigs but it was so long ago, I'm not sure of that detail. I was amazed at how sensitive pigs are and what their care consists of. Animals are so interesting and have such unique personalities. If anyone knows the name of this book, I'd love to read it again.

Posted by: Brandi | September 9th, 2009

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I love all these suggestions and I have a couple for you Cynthia. I also enjoy Michael Ignatieff's writing and most especially two books about his family, 'The Russian album,' and 'True patriot love.' Family history is always fascinating, especially when it covers life in several countries, which is often the case for Canadians.

Posted by: Julie | September 10th, 2009

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Cynthia, A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, is a fascinating, eye-opening read about India in the mid 1970s. Also, two well-written books about war-torn Afghanistan: The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hossieni. The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth Madness and Greed by Canadian author John Vaillant, is a riveting, historical read, set right here on the Northwest Coast.

Posted by: Wendy | September 10th, 2009

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Julie, I too enjoy biographies and autobios and have Ignatieff's Russian Album on my list - I have read excerpts and the book should be interesting as you say. You have more suggestions, Wendy, Great!. I enjoyed Mistry's book, as well as Hossieni's two books, and especially enjoyed A Thousand Splendid Suns. I wonder if he has written any others. I would like to make a list of all these books/authors that you have all read and recommend, to post here - no promises, but will attempt that soon. Enjoy your reading ....

Posted by: cynthia | September 13th, 2009

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Brandi, welcome. Pigs! I hope someone knows the author/title of the book you mention. Since seeing the movie about that sweetheart of a piglet (what is the title? My memory .....) I have adored pigs. A piglet would make a great pet, but unfortunately a piglet grows up into a huge pig and would not fit into an apartment. Anyone know of any pig books? Or stories?

Posted by: cynthia | September 13th, 2009

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Mention of the book about pigs reminded me of "My family and other Animals" written by Gerald Durrell. His books were very popular some years ago (he died years ago), many about his childhood in Corfu. Check out his biology in Wikipedia. A very interesting life. Has anyone read his books? What do you think of his life and stories?

Posted by: cynthia | September 16th, 2009

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Here is my list of authors suggested by you all - adding titles would take too much space, so do check in at the library for those.
GENERAL FICTION: Ernest Gaines, Nick Hornby, William Boyd, Lawrence Hill, Aravid Adiga, Paul Scott, Michael Ignatieff, Rohinton Mistry, Khaled Hosieni.
MYSTERY: Barry Unsworth, Michael Connelly, Leslie Thomas, Ian Rankin, Patricia Cornwell.
NON-FICTION: Peter Godwin, Adam Hochchild, Roy Moxham, David Gilmore, Will Randall, Michael Ignatieff, John Vaillant, Joe Schlesinger, Michael Kluckner.
....... more to come?

Posted by: cynthia | September 16th, 2009

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Cynthia, the movie about the piglet was 'Babe,' later followed by 'Babe : pig in the city.' I know these well as my daughter was one of the visual artists who worked on the second film. As for pigs as pets, have you considered a Vietnamese potbelly pig? They are adorable, can be house trained and are the size of a smallish dog. Another lovely movie starring a pig and other creatures is 'Charlotte's web,' (which my daughter also worked on.) The spider is the real star but the pig is so sweet.

Thankyou for the author list - good idea.

Posted by: Julie | September 17th, 2009

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'Babe"! Of course, Julie. Thanks. I'm not sure about pb pigs - perhaps I should just keep a goldfish as a pet. About pets: I was casing the joint at Chapters (made sure my credit card was at home) and here's a pet book I saw - "Homer's Odyssey" by Gwen Cooper. It's all about the adventures and misadventures of her pet, a cat named Homer. Of course, all the books from "Best Seller" lists were lining the shelves. I have always felt that 'best seller' means just that - books that are selling well or that the bookstores want to move. They are not always great books or popular for that reason, or so I believe and have found. Am I cynical? Perhaps. What do you think?

Posted by: cynthia | September 20th, 2009

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For all of the Alexander McCall Smith admirers there is a new book out, in the Isabel Dalhousie series, called 'The lost art of gratitude.' The waiting lists in the library are not too long yet, especially if you prefer large print. A treat to look forward to.

Posted by: Julie | September 23rd, 2009

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Cynthia, your thoughts on 'best sellers' are interesting and valid, to me anyway. If a publisher has unlimited money to promote a book and get the author on a talk show or two, suddenly you have a best seller. This doesn't necessarily mean that it's not a good book, but it may be a fast seller for a while then fade away, (until the author can be persuaded to produce more of the same.) This seems to happen a lot in novels which are part of a series - a bit like a TV soap opera although leaving more scope for the imagination! But there are worthwhile books among the best sellers too due to many discerning readers (like all of us in this forum! Haha!!)

Posted by: Julie | September 27th, 2009

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How true, Julie. Publishers AND Oprah included. It behoves us all to continue to be discerning readers. Thanks, Julie, for the McCall Smith news for many happy fans.
For anyone who is planning a trip to Europe now or in the future, I have found two books that might be of interest. Rick Steve's Europe 101, which like his PBS series, gives lots of helpful info on art, history, trip planning, hotels etc. The second book is one of the Idiot books - Complete Idiot's Guide to European History. Too heavy as a take-along, it is an excellent reference book for your bookshelf. Like other Idiot books, it is fun to read with many jokes and cartoons yet has serious informative content and covers European history practically from 0 to 2000+.

Posted by: cynthia | September 27th, 2009

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I too don't finish books I don't like anymore, so empowering isn't it?
'Three cups of tea.' and 'Eat, Pray, Love' are books I have truly enjoyed lately.

Posted by: Moira Tait | September 29th, 2009

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I, too, enjoyed "Eat, Pray, Love." I really like Elizabeth Gilbert's natural style.

Posted by: Wendy | September 30th, 2009

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Moira, you are another who likes to enjoy reading. I recently picked up 5 library books and returned 4 I had not read past chapter 2. The good thing about an online Book Club like this is that one does not HAVE to read a chosen book, unlike offline Book Discussion Groups where one HAS to have read the book in order to join in a discussion. Of course, we want to discuss books too!

Posted by: cynthia | October 2nd, 2009

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Moira, you recommended Three Cups of Tea. The author, Greg Mortenson, writes about his mission to promote peace and build schools, through Taliban country in Pakistan. At last count, 55 schools had been built. He was a courageous man and a compassionate one.
I am not familiar with the book you and Wendy enjoyed reading, Eat Pray Love. Could you give us some information and a review? Is it a memoir and was it recently published?

Posted by: cynthia | October 2nd, 2009

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Re Book discussion groups. I belong to one which gives me a great deal of enjoyment, both for the company and the 'book talk.' Unlike most groups we don't allocate a book which must be read and then discussed. Instead, we take turns in telling the group what we've read since last meeting, brief description, and whether we recommend it or not. As we each tend to like a different genre, it means that I get to hear about books that I might not have given a second glance in the library but prove to be well worth reading. On one occasion we did all read the same book ('Snow falling on cedars') then watched the film together. That led to a very interesting discussion and we may repeat the exercise sometime. This type of group might appeal to you Cynthia.

Posted by: Julie | October 3rd, 2009

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Oh Julie, your book discussion group sounds great, unlike a couple of others I belonged to over the years. I also like the idea of watching the film of the book on occasion and that would certainly make the discussion all the more interesting. Being among others who also have a love of books makes a Book Discussion group (on or offline) well worth joining. Thanks for your input, Julie.

Posted by: cynthia | October 4th, 2009

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Cynthia, Eat, Pray, Love is a memoir, the story of author, Elizabeth Gilbert's, journey of self discovery through a year travelling to Italy, India and Indonesia in pursuit of pleasure, devotion and balance after a devastating divorce. A New York bestseller, the tone of the book is friendly, confidential, as if the reader is one of Gilbert's best friends. "If a more likable writer than Gilbert is currently in print, I haven't found him or her, writes by Jennifer Egan in a New York Times book review,...Gilbert's prose is fueled by a mix of intelligence, wit and colloquial exuberance that is close to irresistible, and makes the reader only too glad to join the posse of friends and devotees who have the pleasure of listening in."

Posted by: Wendy | October 4th, 2009

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Thanks for the info, Wendy. Another book for my list. So much reading, so few days, so little time!
News for all the Alexander McCall Smith fans - he is having a break from writing while he produces an opera in Botswana, Macbeth, with the local people performing. Isn't that wonderful?

Posted by: cynthia | October 7th, 2009

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I want to go to Botswana. And I want to see the opera. I do. But I would be very disappointed if I didn't see Precious Ramotswe, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni and Mma Makusi (wearing her blue shoes, of course) in person. I might have to create a mystery for Mma Ramotswe to solve in order to visit Speedy Motors and the #1 Ladies Detective Agency on Tlokweng Road. I just finished reading "The World According to Bertie" (Scotland Street series), and loved it.

Posted by: Wendy | October 8th, 2009

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I have read many of the books mentioned and my favourite is Three Cups of Tea. I keep a file of the books I have read or plan to read then order my books at the local library using the internet. I have just finished the "S" section. Some that I enjoyed were: Alice Sebold- The Lovely Bones, Rebecca Shaw's Barleybridge Series, Deborah Smith- A Gentle Rain, all of Mariah Stewart's books, and a delightful read by Warren St. John called Outcasts United. I also enjoy nonfiction and am reading We Know What You're Thinking by Bricker and Wright which tells what pollsters reveal about what Canadians think.

Posted by: Vivian | October 8th, 2009

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I donated all of my 22 books by Alexander McCall Smith to our local library and last week bought his new one,I buy books because it is hard for me to get to the library and as I dont smoke or drink ,books are my one vice.I moved here 2 years ago from NWOntario and I love the mountains.I sold my home and now have a nice apartment,got rid of a lot of stuff!!Since my husband passed away in Sept 2006I have lost 5 more close relatives and as arthritis prevents me from going out a lot,I spend a lot of time reading.I also like Alice Munros books,she is not to everyones taste I know.Thank you for new book ideas.

Posted by: audrey | October 9th, 2009

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If you like Rebecca Shaw you will like Miss Read,she has written many books .The Fairacre series is one of many,they are not always easy to find but well worth the effort.Also Jan Karon is quite a prolific author.

Posted by: Audrey | October 9th, 2009

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Audrey, I like your description of reading being your vice. Mine too! I think the Fairacre books (I've read them all some years ago) are around in used book stores. My very favourite author, out of print now unfortunately except in large print format, is Scottish writer Jane Duncan. Her first novel was 'My friends the Miss Boyds' and all the subsequent titles started with 'My friend.' Over the years I have collected them all, 20 or so, mostly from library book sales or online, and I re-read them every couple of years. The stories are based in Scotland or the West Indies where the main character, Janet, lived with her husband, an engineer. I think you might enjoy them.

Posted by: Julie | October 9th, 2009

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Audrey. I'm sorry to hear of your losses, and hope you have other friends and relatives in the area to keep you company. Where do you live? I don't know if the same applies to Vancouver Island, but in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver the library offers free delivery and pick up of books. Outside of Vancouver one would use the Fraser Valley Regional Library system ( www.fvrl.ca Check Library Access and Services). I'm sure the Vancouver library Outreach programme delivers books too ( www.vpl.ca Outreach Services)

Posted by: Wendy | October 9th, 2009

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Thank you,I live in Cranbrook and the Friends of the library do offer a delivery service,my problem is that I never know exactly what I want until I see it,the best part of the library for me is wandering around looking at everything.I am quite alone most of the time,so I buy books and then pass them on.I go on line at Chapters-Indigo and order.

Posted by: Audrey | October 10th, 2009

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It is great to find that this Book Club covers many parts of BC and not just the Island. So many book lovers and so many reading suggestions. Our 'Must Read Lists" must be filling up and all we need is time to read. But winter is coming (unfortunately) and we will have an excuse to stay indoors and curl up with a good book. A warm fireplace, a glass of wine, a book.......... Heaven.

Posted by: cynthia | October 11th, 2009

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Romani people, the Rom, Children of the Wind, The Wanderers -- these are the Gypsies. So many romantic films and stories have been written about them; we have heard their music, seen their dancing, paintings and pictures of their colourful caravans. They have captured our imagination. Yet they have endured hardships, segregation, genocide and thousands died in the Holocaust of WWII. Why? What is the mystery behind these unfortunate people? In 1990 Roger Moreau quit his job and went to India, believed to be the origin of the Gypsy tribes where they had been incarcerated in what was, a thousand years ago in an Afghan desert, the first concentration camp. His quest was to unlock the ancient mystery and discover the origins and earliest history of this wandering race. I highly recommend his fascinating book "The Rom - walking in the paths of the Gypsies".

Posted by: cynthia | October 11th, 2009

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Wow! What a huge response to the Book Club! Thanks, Cynthia, for taking this on! I'm a voracious reader and always have been ever since my mother taught me to read at 4 years old! She was very gifted as a teacher and what would now be called pre-school, then kindergarten, followed by first and second grades were under her able tutelage as we lived in remote camps & other locations, so I was 'home-schooled" at that time.

Right now I'm reading "Germinal" by Emile Zola (translation by Havelock Ellis). It's about the horrific living & working conditions of coal miners in 19th century Europe but applied on this side of the pond as well. I stumbled upon it in the course of research on the mining industry in general and coal mining in particular from that period to the present day. I've known several miners and, oddly, none of them ever said they hated their jobs; often the opposite was true, & they felt they were performing a very important work, dirty though it may be, and with a certain risk attached. But if I live to be a thousand I'll never forget at my tender age of 10 the 1956 Springhill disaster (it dominated the news at the time), followed 2 years later by the "bump" of 1958.

Anyway, I digress; this is supposed to be about books. Even though the people in this fictionalized story are long dead (as are those who actually lived this type of existence at that time), I am almost reduced to tears at the human toll and suffering; even children ended up working underground & that is well documented (still do in Third World countries). Not an easy read, to be sure, but definitely thought-provoking and part of our collective history.

A second book I'm reading right now is called "Surveillance" by Jonathan Raban (1990) set in Seattle at a not to distant future date where everyone is even more obsessed by security than they are now and fifty percent of the population is spying on the other fifty percent and vice versa, also quite interesting, as it adds a human touch--how this paranoiac obsession has mutated to a point where it pervades (and invades) every facet of life.

Heavy reads, both of them. I think I need to take a breather with something light hearted next.

Posted by: Tara | October 12th, 2009

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Cynthia, the Rom book looks interesting. I have added it to my list. I always thought the gypsies were from Romania -- hence the name Romany. A group travelled around England in horse-drawn covered wagons when I was young, camping on the moors and selling clothes pins and sundry items door-to-door. Audrey -- thoughtful of you to pass on your books for others' enjoyment. I am sure you are always a welcome visitor at the Cranbrook library. For stay-at-home readers who enjoy a rollicking sea-faring adventure, I suggest you join Captain Illiam Quilliam Kewley and "The English Passengers" (by Matthew Kneale) aboard the not-so-good-ship "Tranquility" (or is it "Serenity"?) on her voyage to find the exact location of the Garden of Eden. A mid-1850s historical novel, told from the viewpoint of each of the strange mix of characters, including Captain Kewley himself, the story moves along at a cracking pace. Adventure, comedy and high-seas drama intertwine in a highly entertaining, thought-provoking look at Australian history.

Posted by: Wendy | October 12th, 2009

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Wendy, Oooh, I was saying I need light, fun read after the heavy slogging I've been and still am doing (my post just above yours). "The English Passengers" sounds like just the ticket. I love books written around the mid-19th century, too. I hope I can run it down at the library ...

Posted by: Tara | October 13th, 2009

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You shouldn't have a problem, Tara. I borrowed it from the library (Fraser Valley Regional Library). I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Posted by: Wendy | October 13th, 2009

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And Tara, don't forget to wear your life-jacket. You're gonna need it!

Posted by: Wendy | October 13th, 2009

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My list of books to be read is growing by the day, thanks to this forum. I like to have 2 books on the go, like you Tara. Unlike you though, I need one to be light hearted. My daytime reading is for the serious thought-provoking subjects, and the lighter novel is for bedtime. I tend to dream about what I read so I need to fall asleep with happy thoughts. Does anyone else do this?

Posted by: Julie | October 13th, 2009

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WENDY: Excellent! Fraser Valley Regional (Clearbrook Library) is my stamping grounds too! Thanks. And I'll keep my life jacket handy for this read.

JULIE: I definitely think you have a point...I'm a vivid dreamer, too, and it would probably help to not read the heavy stuff at bedtime.

Posted by: Tara | October 13th, 2009

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Brandi, in your September 9 entry, you were trying to recall the name of a book in which a young woman raises pigs; you said you read it many years ago. I am wondering if it might have been the book,Judith, written by Aritha Van Herk in 1978. She won the Seal First Novel Award for this novel which launched her writing career.

Posted by: Rosemarie | October 13th, 2009

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Cynthia. Another interesting book about The Roma is Bury Me Standing by Isabel Fonseca. Audrey, at www.virl.bc.ca , you can roam the stacks just like in the library. You can search your favourite authors and find out what new books they have written. You can look through all recent library purchases of both fiction and nonfiction and if you have a library card, order as many as you want. When they come in, they will email you and also email you when they are due. You can also renew over the net if no-one is waiting for the book. You can check the summary of the book ( just like reading the back cover ). I admit to spending way too much time just looking. If anyone wants to see a different side to John Grisham, try Playing for Pizza. This is a "makes you feel good kind of book". I loved it and I don't like all of his books.

Posted by: Vivian | October 14th, 2009

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Hello Cynthia
I have just jumped into this area and am looking fwd to sharing books with so many wonderful suggestions. I belong to a very small book club in Victoria (new members most welcome) and have found many suggestions for our next year's reading list already.
This month we are reading "Butterflies Dance in the Dark" which is very captivating. Another fun one was "Cooking Crazy with Curry". "The Book of Negroes" was very good also. I also loved "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" by David Wroblewski and it is worth re-reading.
Looking fwd to many more suggestions here.

Posted by: Ahnne Colins | October 14th, 2009

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Vivian thank you for that informatiom,I didnt know that site existed,now I will get nothing done around the house.I also read 2 books at once,lighter reading beside the bed.

Posted by: Audrey | October 15th, 2009

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I am so very pleased to find new members who have just joined us - welcome Rosemarie and Ahnne - and that the Club is flourishing. You need to scroll a long way down now to follow the discussions (Whoops! Will it run off the edge? Thank goodness for computers. How did we live without them?)
Brandi, did you recognize the pig book Rosemarie mentioned? Wendy, the book English Passengers will make good holiday reading. Such fun. Thanks, Vivian, for the book on Roma. I will certainly try to find it as I am interested in Gypsies. Tara, you are reading Emile Zola and that reminds me of a saying by Joubert which I found:
"The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones". Perhaps we should all go back to the classics occasionally.
Your book club, Ahnne, chooses some interesting titles. For those who need to know: Butterflies Dance in the Dark is a novel by Beatrice MacNeil. Tell us about it, Ahnne. And Cooking Crazy with Curry? I cant find an author. In an early post Wendy mentioned the Book of Negroes, which she enjoyed, and I must warn you that it involves a lot of reading - it's a tome! The Story of Edgar Sawtell has an intriguing storyline, but I could not get far into it at the time. I find that I sometimes start a novel but have an urge for n/f or the other way, so perhaps I was trying that book when I was in a n/f mood. That happens, but I find I can return to the book in a few months and enjoy it. I have just found Eat Play Love in paperback at the library, and that will be my weekend read. Moira and Wendy recommended this book in earlier posts. I like to know something about the authors whose books I enjoy reading and hope to post the occasional biography for those who are interested.
Here is an old saying by Oliver Wendall Holmes:
"There are a thousand new books to read while life is only long enough to read a hundred". Let's all hope for a long, long life!

Posted by: cynthia | October 15th, 2009

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Cynthia, I also gave up on The Story of Edgar Sawtell. I really wanted to read it but couldn't get into it. It may be because I had about 5 other library books waiting to be read. I plan to try again when I have more time. For those who liked The Book of Negroes, you may also like his earlier book: Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada. Laurence is the brother of the singer Dan Hill. I believe they have a few sisters as well. I remember reading about this interesting family but can't remember all the details.

Posted by: Vivian | October 15th, 2009

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I have just ordered Butterflies Dance and The English Passenger and would really like to reccomend a book called The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows strange name I know but very good.There is a lot of history of Guernsey Islands.Mary Ann Shaffer died of cancer before it was published.A strange name but really worth a read.

Posted by: Audrey | October 16th, 2009

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Black Berry could be good reading, Vivian. Audrey, I had Guernsey Literary .. book on hold at the Library for months and then gave up, but will look for it again now it is off the list. I decided to read Eat Pray Love though I hesitated because the blurb mentioned spirituality, God etc. and I am not into bible-thumping books! Well, by the end of Chapter 1, I was hooked. I put it down reluctantly this morning to come here to the Book Club, but I am off now to continue reading. Bye.

Posted by: cynthia | October 18th, 2009

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To all those who enjoy Alexander McCall Smith - I am reading 'The lost art of gratitude,' the latest in the Isabel Dalhousie series, and enjoying it, as I have all the others. I have lived in Edinburgh so the descriptions of the city resonate with me - almost like another character. I also have 'Corduroy Mansions,' a new book by the same author but this one is based in London. Looking forward to it! Both are from the library and have waiting lists.

Posted by: Julie | October 18th, 2009

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I am looking forward to reading both those books, Julie. I'm going to be out of town for a couple of weeks and can only take one book with me. So many fantabulous books. How am I going to choose which one? Cynthia -- so glad you are enjoying Eat, Pray, Love. I couldn't put it down until I'd finished, either. A book I read some years ago and found to be different and very interesting is, "The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester. A whimsical, strange and fascinating tale.

Posted by: Wendy | October 18th, 2009

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Wendy, have a good two weeks away with good weather too. I wonder which book you have chosen to take with you. Simon Winchester's books are all very interesting, all non-fiction and informative. I too read The Prof .. and found it, as you say, a strange and fascinating story of how the OED started. Of course, the "Madman" would not be considered that these days. A great book to read, as are all Winchester"s.

Posted by: cynthia | October 19th, 2009

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He is one of my favourite authors, so I must tell more ...! He was a geologist at Oxford and worked in Africa and on offshore oil rigs before becoming a globe-trotting correspondent and writer. Two of his other books, both fascinating reading, are "Outposts" (about travelling around the world to find what was left of the British Empire - and it is amazing what he finds), and "Krakatoa" about the explosion of that island and the aftermath (very descriptive and scary).

Posted by: cynthia | October 19th, 2009

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I too greatly enjoy Simon Winchester's books. I read 'The professor and the mad man' some years ago, in Australia but it was under a different title. When I later (here in Canada) came across 'The professor and...' I was excited , thinking I had found a new book! Big disappointment. Have others had this experience, especially with books published in the U.K. then having a name change for the U.S. market? It even happened with the first Harry Potter book.

Posted by: Julie | October 19th, 2009

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Hi Cynthia
I am truly surprised at the reluctance to read The Story of Edgar Sawtelle....everyone I know has loved this book. I have read it 2-3 times and was sad it was over. Such descriptive passages and wonderful way with words from an incredible author's first novel. Wish I could find another I could enjoy as much as I did this.

Cooking Crazy with Curry was written by Amulya Malladi. It is the story of an immigrant family in America. Daughter Devi loses her Silicon Valley job, attempts suicide, moves in with parents and refuses to speak. She expresses her emotions through intense cooking experiments (recipes included). It is a comical and entertaining book with some strong characters.

Butterflies Dance in the Dark takes place in Cape Breton and tells the story of Mari-Jen. In a community where religion dominates everything this 5 yr. old child struggles to find acceptance
as she starts school. It is relentless in its cruelty with Sister Superior. She has 2 brothers and a kind neighbor that try to help her. It has some beautiful passages but the ending leaves something to be desired.

Our book club read David Baldacci's The Christmas Train last year which was light and fun.
Are there any suggestions for an adult Xmas story we can read this year without religious overtones? Suggestions please.

Posted by: Ahnne Colins | October 22nd, 2009

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Oh Ahne! The story of Edgar Sawtelle book really intrigued me and the chapters I read made me want to read more, but at the time I had to put it aside and read it another time, to appreciate it. I have it on my 'must read' list. For those who have not read the book, the story is about a boy born mute whose parents are devoted to him. A murder takes place and Edgar takes to the woods, with his dogs, for refuge ....... Very descriptive, as Ahnne says, and the author has a great way with words.
Thanks Ahnne for the other book titles and descriptions. I can't recall reading any adult Xmas books but perhaps posts with suggestions will come in.

Posted by: cynthia | October 24th, 2009

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I am reminded now of books I have read where the story involves children: "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time" by Mark Haddon, which was very popular recently and perhaps many of you have read. It's about an autistic boy's quest to solve the mystery of a dead dog - funny, sad and very convincing. "Hope and Glory" by John Boorman tells the story of children during the last war. It was made into a movie. "Spies" by Michael Frayn is the childhood memory in war time London of two boys who engage in a game of espionage which turns sinister.

Posted by: cynthia | October 24th, 2009

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Ahnne, a book that has been around a while (since 2000 in fact) that includes Christmas is 'Winter Solstice' by Rosamunde Pilcher. The story takes place mostly in Scotland, with a varied mix of characters. I reread it occasionally for the beautifully descriptive writing.

Posted by: Julie | October 26th, 2009

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I found out today that there is a sequel to 'Three cups of tea' by Greg Mortenson which many of us have enjoyed. It is called 'Stones into schools' and will be released sometime in November. Good news indeed!

Posted by: Julie | October 28th, 2009

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Ahnne, Here are a few Christmas books that I recall: M.C. Beaton - A Highland Christmas ( a Hamish Macbeth mystery, Carolyn Hart- Sugarplum Dead ( a Dealth on Demand mystery),Miss Read- Village Christmas, Susan Wiggs-Lakeshore Christmas, Righard Paul Evans-The Christmas List, Anne Perry- A Christmas Grace, Patrick Taylor- An Irish Country Christmas. I look forward to "Stones into Schools", Julie.

Posted by: Vivian | October 28th, 2009

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Wow, thanks Julie and Vivian..so many Xmas stories I didn't know about! I will be be busy trying to locate some of them. Cynthia, I am reading Eat., Pray, Love and am enjoying itvery much.
Also, just finished a talking book "Playing for Pizza" which was a light, fun story about a football player that ends up in Parma, Italy...my husband has it now.

Posted by: Ahnne | October 29th, 2009

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Julie, I chased after info about Mortenson's new book "Stones into Schools". It will be released in November, as you say, or December. It is the continuing story of 'Three Cups of Tea', "promoting peace with books not bombs in Afghanistan and Pakistan", and should be as interesting as his first book.
Ahnne, Playing for Pizza is, I believe, by John Grisham? I enjoy his books but have not read this one. As for Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert - I would like to know what you think of it after you have read it. I loved the first section on her stay in Italy (a laugh on every page) but India and Indonesia.....well, I had reservations. I would enjoy a discussion with you, as well as Wendy and Moira who also read this book, about how you felt about the author's way of handling her personal 'problems'. She has a new book coming out: Weddings and Evictions, a memoir about her marriage to ------ guess who!

Posted by: cynthia | October 30th, 2009

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I am very interested in the entries about 'Eat, pray, love,' and have been hesitant to comment as I know so many readers have enjoyed it. However, I didn't finish it as I found that the writer just didn't interest me, as a person, and I was very impatient with her and found her way of dealing with problems unrealistic. However, I have seen her giving a talk (saw it on Youtube I think) and found her likeable and more practical than she seemed in the book. Will I read her next book? Undecided as there are so many books I REALLY want to read - but I might be tempted. I'm thankful that I no longer feel the need to finish a book if it doesn't grab me within a chapter or two.

Posted by: Julie | October 30th, 2009

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I too had a hard time with Eat Pray Love,I got past the first part but could not finish.My daughter,however thought that it was wonderful.Why???I had decided that it was me,maybe not.

Posted by: Audrey | October 31st, 2009

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Thanks Julie and Audrey. EPL is such a popular book and I wondered why, so I was glad to get your comments. I had a problem understanding why the author wrote with so much self-pity when she had so much going for her (I did finish the book). For those who have not read Elizabeth Gilbert's book, it is a memoir of her "pursuit of worldly pleasure, spiritual devotion and what she really wanted out of life", to quote a review. I hoped her next book would be well researched to cover the plight of too many unfortunate women who do not have all the advantages she had, but it will be a memoir of her marriage with Filipe.
Two books I would like to mention, and wonder who has read these and what they think of the author/book. The first is very sobering and suspenseful, but also enlightening. A journalist, Ted Conover, applies and gets a job as a prison officer in Sing Sing and writes about what he finds. "Newjack" is a look inside this most dangerous of America's prisons. Not to be read before bedtime!
The Copenhagen Papers by Michael Frayn. During the run of his play "Copenhagen" in London, he gets a curious package from a London housewife that contains faded papers of German type which she apparently found concealed under floorboards. With a fellow playwright, in his book Frayn follows the mystery behind these papers. Intriguing.
A true story too.

Posted by: cynthia | November 1st, 2009

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Cynthia, hello and yes John Grisham did write Playing for Pizza.

I found Gilbert's EPL to be a funny engaging memoir. I learned some Italian words, some spiritual insights and enjoyed travelling with her. My regret is that I don't know her personally as I would like to call her friend.

Posted by: Ahnne Colins | November 1st, 2009

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I enjoyed Gilbert's honesty ( she doesn't paint a picture of herself as always being the "good" girl, and she doesn't want children) I liked her fresh, open writing style. EPL provided me with insights into the fast-paced lifestyle of a New York writer. Yes, Gilbert is privileged, but I enjoyed that perspective; privilege does not always add up to personal happiness. However, having her problems all wrapped up and a new romance within a year, despite the advantages of all-expense-paid travel, seemed less that realistic.

Posted by: Wendy | November 2nd, 2009

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I join the group that was less than impressed with Eat, Pray, Love although I enjoyed the Eat part. I read it right after reading Three Cups of Tea so the contrast between the attitudes of the authors was great. I just got bored with her after a while. I thought she could benefit from reading Craig and Marc Kiekburger's " Me to We." I have also read Craig"s "Free the Children". There was a recent TV special about "Me to We". Does anyone else read Barbara Wood. I especially liked "The Dreaming" and "Virgins of Paradise". Her novels are historical.

Posted by: Vivian | November 2nd, 2009

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Great! A discussion on a book - I am pleased to get the other side of the coin. On the whole it seems that we must agree to disagree about EPL, but life would be pretty dull if everyone agreed with each other wouldn't it? Thanks for your input Vivian, Wendy and Aahne. Are there any other suggested books anyone would enjoy discussing?
Welcome back from your trip, Wendy (Botswana?). I have not come across Babara Wood, Vivian, nor the titles you mention. Could you let us know about the Kiekburger book and the TV special? I did not see it.

Posted by: cynthia | November 2nd, 2009

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Botswana, Cynthia? No...I wish.. My husband and I arrived back from England Saturday night, flying in with the Halloween witches and other assorted spooks, tired and jet-lagged. We brought back coughs, heavy chest colds and books and magazines we had taken to read, but never did. Mine was a library Book Club book, Any Human Heart by William Boyd.
Atonement by Ian McEwan might be a book suitable for discussion (recently made into a film), and Angels and Demons by Dan Brown (also made into a film).

Posted by: Wendy | November 3rd, 2009

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I wanted to say that when I say I didn't like or finish a book, it is never meant to be taken that the book itself is not a good book or worth reading. The lack of quality could be in the reader and not the reading material. In reading novels I tend to like a fast-pace with a strong plot and appealing characters. For deeper or disturbing topics, I usually prefer non-fiction which I read at a slower pace so that I can think about the issues presented. Free the Children has become a worldwide organization started by 12 year old Craig Kielburger of Toronto in 1995. Young people are its heart and soul. The follow-up Me to We is mostly made up of young people with a philosophy of volunteerism and social involvement with others. As an older Canadian it is very inspiring to find these young people finding themselves through service to others. Free the Children has now more than one million youth involved in more than 45 countries and it all stated with a 12 year old Canadian boy who didn't believe that one person couldn't make a difference. www.metowe.org and www.freethe children.org.

Posted by: Vivian | November 5th, 2009

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Has anyone read the "The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon? This book which spent more than a year on the Spanish bestseller list is an engrossing part love story and part thriller with many plots, puzzles and characters. Ten year old Daniel is awakened one night and taken by his father to "The Cemetery of Forgotten Books" where he is allowed to choose one book to keep which is the The Shadow of the Wind". Daniel starts on a mission to find the author and any of his other published books which are being destroyed for unknown reasons. An interesting and hard to put down book.

Posted by: Ahnne Colins | November 6th, 2009

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Ahnne, that Zafori book has a very different and intriguing story. Thanks for telling us about it. Wendy, have you quite recovered? Shame you had to return to Canada with the horrible sniffles. Take care. I enjoy Boyd's books (especially Brazaville Beach) but havent yet read Any Human Heart. Dan Brown's book, Da Vinci Code, was a best seller for so long (even longer than the Harry Potter books?) and I do believe the whole world was reading it at the time. Then, of course, the movie came out. Have any of you read that one and if so, do you think it lived up to the hype? Has anyone read Atonement? What do you think of it?
I agree, Vivian, that there are many reasons for not finishing a book as you say, and not always because it may not hold one's attention. In my case, I put holds on books I want to read - sometimes my choice could be 1 of 100+ on the hold list - and then two or three books come up for me, with a 2-week reading time. So what do I do? Read one and return the others and put another hold, or read them and let the fines pile up? Decisions, decisions.
I read a review about the book Virgins of Paradise by Barbara Wood, that you mentioned, Vivian. For those of you who want to know more, Virgins of Paradise is the name of a street in Egypt, and the novel is about the coming of age of two girls in search of identity in a society where women are of no account.

Posted by: cynthia | November 7th, 2009

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I dont know if anyone has read anything by Miriam Toews,I read the Flying Troutmans awhile ago and all the time I was reading it wondered why,but couldnt put it down,now I have purchased two more of her books,I really should not be let out alone in book stores.I love books,have since I was a little girl.

Posted by: Audrey | November 7th, 2009

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I read A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews, Audrey -- all about the complications of life in a small Mennonite community. I enjoyed the book and certainly recommend it. Toews is an excellent, natural writer and the Flying Troutmans has been on my reading list for some time. Cynthia -- I have been staying close to home and have almost recovered from my cold, although a tough one to shake. Thanks for your concern and good wishes. I didn't read Any Human Heart yet (next on my list), but being home all week provided plenty reading time and I read a book given to me by my sister in England -- "The Private Patient" a mystery by P.D. James. James is a highly skilled writer. I don't usually read mysteries, but the book was multi-layered, the characters convincing and James retained my interest and maintained tension throughout. I would certainly recommend it, or any of her books, to anyone who likes a good
mystery story. Atonement I read, but with mixed feelings. Somehow, although I read it to the end and the premise of the story was good, it seemed somehow rather flat, dispassionate, and I found the ending rather vague. I read and enjoyed both Dan Brown's books, The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons as much for the history and descriptions of Italy and the Vatican as much as the fast-moving plots. However, Brown does stretch credibility to the reader's limit.

Posted by: Wendy | November 8th, 2009

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I too read 'The Da Vinci Code' and 'Angels and demons' and preferred the latter and thought it would have made the better film. I didn't see the Da Vinci film as, however much I admire Tom Hanks, for the life of me I couldn't picture him in the role. Decided I'd stick with my own mental pictures. The illustrated versions of both books have some beautiful pictures.

Miriam Teows is such a gifted writer. She writes about the small things of life and before you know it you are caught up in the lives of her characters even if, in real life, you might have nothing in common with them.

I understand your feeling about bookshops Audrey - it has been said that I have to be dragged out kicking and screaming but I do think that that is somewhat of an exaggeration!

Posted by: Julie | November 8th, 2009

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Ahnne, you mentioned Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Zafon (he also writes as Carlos Ruiz Zafon) which is a translation from Spanish. He has a new book which will be released in May 2010, and this again is about a boy and an adventure with books, a story of intrigue, romance and tragedy.
As you know, Audrey and Wendy, Miriam Toews writes beautifully and her characters are so believable. Another book by her, the non-fiction "Swing Low: a Life" was written as her father's memoir (from his perspective) from his hospital bed while he was waiting to be transferred to a psychiatric facility. He had an unhappy childhood and at the age of 17 he was diagnosed with manic depression. Sadly, he killed himself in 1998. She wrote the book to face her pain.

Posted by: cynthia | November 11th, 2009

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I am sure you all know that Linden MacIntyre, a journalist with the CBC, has won the 2009 Canadian Giller Prize for fiction. The title is 'The Bishop's Man' and the book, written like a detective novel, covers the subject of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The runners up on the short list are:
Kim Echlin for 'The Disappeared'. It tells a story of freedom, loss and love in Cambodia.
Anne Michale's 'Winter Vault' covers a story during World War II.
Colin McAdam's 'Fall' is about teen angst and obsession in a boys' school.
Annabel Lyon's 'The Golden Mean' is a story of Alexander and his tutor Aristotle, a tale of familial love mixing history and fiction.
All winners have written very serious fiction. Would there ever be a Giller Prize for humour?!!

Posted by: cynthia | November 11th, 2009

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I am really going to have to stop reading these posts,every time I do I find a new book to get,as of now I am all stocked up for winter but still keep buying,there goes their inheritance.Oh well!!

Posted by: Audrey | November 11th, 2009

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How about discussing an author? Does anyone read Margaret Atwood? I must admit she lost me with "The Blind Assassin," I never did finish it, but I loved her historical novel "Alias Grace," and futuristic "The Handmaid's Tale" and "Oryx and Crake." The latter changed forever the way I look at fast-food chicken and scientific change. It took me a while to get used to Atwood's style and "Surfacing," when I read many years ago, was a little deep for me, but later came to admire her as the gifted writer she is, bravely and brilliantly tackling tough social issues through the written word.

Posted by: Wendy | November 12th, 2009

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No dont you dare leave us, Audrey. Keep reading these posts and forget the inheritance! What are the kind of books you like to read and what are you reading now?
Wendy, I tried and tried to read Margaret Atwood starting with Surfacing but could never get far into her books. She gets such great reviews and she has made her mark in the literary world so I would like to understand her style and try again to read one of hers, perhaps Oryx & Crake which impressed you.
Has anyone else here read Atwood? If so, what do you think of her writings?

Posted by: cynthia | November 12th, 2009

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Oryx and Crake is rather weird, Cynthia, you might like Alias Grace better. A historical novel, it is based on the true story of Grace Marks, a young, enigmatic Canadian woman who spent 30 years in jail for the death of two people. The book follows Grace's life before and after jail. Was she guilty, or not? Regardless, Grace captures your heart. Of the Atwood books I have read, Alias Grace is the one I liked the best.

Posted by: Wendy | November 12th, 2009

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I read almost anything,right now I have the English Passenger in the living room and Have a Little Faith by Mitch Ablom in the bedroom,I find that as I age I dont have the patience for a book that doesnt grab my attention right at the start.When I was young I would wade through anything.I do not like Margaret Atwood and believe me I have tried,also Eat Pray Love lost me after the eat part.Friends tell me that they loved Late Nights on Air but I coldnt read that either.
Years ago it was a matter of pride to say that I finished every book I started,but no more,now I read for pleasure not education,if I learn something on the way,good.I really enjoyed The Book Of Negroes.I like Alice Munro and Miriam Toews,but I also like Miss Read and Rebecca Shaw.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was a recent favourite.

Posted by: Audrey | November 13th, 2009

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Our reading tastes sound similar Audrey, although I did enjoy Late Nights on Air, perhaps because it was based in the north, a region I hope to see sometime where the way of life is influenced by the climate and landscape. Margaret Atwood puzzles me. I enjoyed Alias Grace and I did read (and finish) The Blind Assassin, but all the time wondering what kind of a brain has these thoughts and plots brewing away. In general her themes don't interest me and I can't help but wonder if the more obscure the story, the more critics praise it, as they don't know what else to do. Or am I being cynical?

Posted by: Julie | November 13th, 2009

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I have never been able to read Margaret Atwood. I also don't find her themes interest me. It's not that I don't like serious topics although I prefer them in nonfiction. I just finished reading The Flying Carpet of Small Miracles by Hala Jaber. Hala who grew up in Lebanon married a British photographer and became an award winning foreign correspondent for the Sunday times. While working in Bagdad, she became engaged in an effort to save two little girls who were the only survivors of a missile strike that killed their parents and five siblings. As I read this book on Remembrance Day, I was reminded that we should also remember the innocent victims of war who are unfortunate to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I read the book in one sitting so it kept my interest. Besides being an insider's picture of war, the book is a fascinating look at both Hala's strengths and her weaknesses. Like Audrey, I need a book to capture my interest soon. A lighter book (mystery) that I recently finished was Sailing to Capri by Elizabeth Adler. Believing that he was going to be murdered by one of 6 people, a wealthy man leaves directions to have them invited on a cruise in hopes of finding his murderer.

Posted by: Vivian | November 13th, 2009

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Mmm, it seems I am the only one who likes Margaret Atwood, although I haven't read all her books. How about Anne-Marie MacDonald, another Canadian author? I loved her play Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet), but it took me quite a while to get into The Way the Crow Flies. There seemed to be so much description to set up the story at the beginning (about 60 pages), but I stayed with it and evenually enjoyed the book. For me, Fall on Your Knees was a real page turner. A rather dark book, but cleverly written.

The Flying Carpet of Small Miracles sounds interesting, Vivian. I must add it to my list.

Posted by: Wendy | November 15th, 2009

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Vivian, I too think of the innocent civilians, men, women and children, each time a bomb is dropped from the air or by a suicide bomber. War is a horrible thing but there will always be a war somewhere in the world. Baghdad Burning is a book published for a young woman trapped in Iraq during the early years. Or Google that title for her blog.
However, back to our Book Club:
We have a discussion about Margaret Atwood's books (did you know she has also written 15 books of poetry) and I quote from the Economist magazine: '...her logic does not match her prose'. She has said that Oryx and Crate is not science fiction but 'speculative fiction' and other books are 'historiographic metafiction'. Her latest book "Year of the Flood" is already on the best-seller list. The subject of this one is an imagination of the future (like Handmaid's Tale). Disaster obliterates most of human life but spares 2 women. Have others survived?
Other Canadian authors I have enjoyed in the past are: Robertson Davies, Margaret Laurence, Farley Mowat and Modecai Richler (I loved Duddy Kravitz). Contemporary Canadian books: Joseph Boyden's Three Day Road, Steven Galloway's The Cellist of Sarajevo, Alistair MacLeod's No Great Mischief, Guy Vanderhaeghe's The Last Crossing, and who does not know Yan Martel's Life of Pi. All have been on the best-seller list. I have only read Life of Pi, which I enjoyed.

Posted by: cynthia | November 15th, 2009

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What the heck is "histriographic metafiction?" I think the Economist writer is being just as obscure as she claims Margaret Atwood to be, although speculative fiction might describe Oryx and Crake; I can't remember what genre it was published in. I have read and enjoyed Margaret Laurence's books, Farley Mowat's (I thought his Never Cry Wolf and The Dog That Wouldn't Be were so humourous), can't read Modecai Richler (the book I started to read of his , not Duddy Kravitz, seemed too blunt, totally lacking respect), enjoyed No Great Mischief, The Last Crossing, and absolutely loved The Life of Pi.

Posted by: Wendy | November 15th, 2009

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Don't you love it when a book, chosen almost at random by an author you've never heard of, turns out to be a delight? I always like to read authors who are based in the Pacific Northwest as the locations often seem like characters in themselves. I've just finished 'The school of essential ingredients' by Erica Bauermeister who lives in Seattle and this is her first novel. I chose it because I liked the title and I so enjoyed the story - about a cooking class in Lillian's restaurant and the people who attend. Lillian believes in slow cooking and slow living and every character, in one way or another needs this in their lives. No big dramas, no violence, just people coping with their lives and enriching them through the cooking. A lovely story to go to sleep to.

Posted by: Julie | November 19th, 2009

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Julie I know what you mean about titles,that is exactly how i happened to read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie.The title interested me and it is such a good book,I read it again the other day. One wonders if we can really live long enough to read all these great books and how do people that dont read get along.

Posted by: Audrey | November 20th, 2009

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How do you all feel about the latest electronic gadget that has just come to Canada: Kindle? You can hold 400,00 books in the palm of your hand - no more trips to the library, no more browsing in bookstores. But can you curl up in an armchair with a Kindle?

Posted by: cynthia | November 20th, 2009

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A mistype, of course. It holds 400,000 books, I should have typed (and magazines and papers too).

Posted by: cynthia | November 20th, 2009

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Julie, the book you found sounds delightful, a must read. It is worthwhile trying an author unknown to you as the book could turn out to be a gem, and I know I for one often pick out a title that appeals to me. A title like The Guernsey .... that you mention, Audrey, tho this was also recommended to me. I am waiting for the hold list to get smaller before putting my name down for it.

Posted by: cynthia | November 22nd, 2009

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A friend has a Kindle and I was interested to see it. It definitely is not for me but I can see a number of advantages. For readers who have arthritis or similar in hands and wrists, the Kindle is very light weight so easy to hold. For those with sight difficulties the font size can be adjusted to suit. Some folks (such as my friend) likes it for when she's travelling as she loves to read and the Kindle provides her with more than enough reading material but no extra weight in her luggage.

For me, a book is more than the words on the page. It's the feel, the smell of new pages, the pleasure of turning those pages, the illustrations and more. Good to know that the Kindle is there should I ever need it - but I hope that's not in the foreseeable future!

Cynthia, get your name on the hold list for 'The Guernsey...'as it may not get shorter for a long time yet.

Posted by: Julie | November 22nd, 2009

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I have taken your advice, Julie, and reserved The Guernsey … (and that makes 146 holds, but I can wait). I agree that there's nothing like the feel of the 'crackling' pages of a new book - no dog-ears, no pencilled notes - knowing you are the first one to hold the book in your hands!!
Right now I am on the last pages of "When a Crocodile Eats the Sun" (an African saying), the memoir of Peter Godwin's visit to his elderly parents caught in the chaos in Zimbabwe. It is an account of the fate of pioneering white farmers whose land is confiscated, and of the plight of Zimbabweans who are struggling for survival as refugees in their own country. Set against a backdrop of Mugabe's tyranny, brutality and hatred he writes about the courage of a people in their country's dissolution. A fascinating and heartbreaking memoir, beautifully written. For anyone interested in books on Africa, I highly recommend this contemporary true story. Peter Godwin has also written "Mukiwa - a White Boy in Africa", his memoir of growing up in what was Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.
Waiting in the wings I have "Bury Me Standing" which was recommended by Vivian, but first I need to relax with light reading and I have a mystery by Ian Rankin.

Posted by: cynthia | November 23rd, 2009

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I have heard about Kindle, but haven't seen it yet. For me, the idea doesn't appeal any more than computer e-books do, although there may be advantages for shut-ins, in lightness, and being able to adjust the font size. I'm a curl-up-on-a-comfy-couch-with-a-good-book person myself. In a recent article I read about Kindle, the author, an avid 3-4 book a week reader and library borrower, pointed out that at the US$10 per unit Kindle price, e-books would cost her approximately $1560 a year, and that's excluding intitial cost of the Kindle unit, batteries and replacement batteries. I like to borrow books from the library, love to browse book shops (new and used), buy books with interesting titles or because I'm interested in the subject; I like to give and receive book tokens as gifts and buy books for my grandchildren (my five-year-old grandson reognises favourite authors -- "Ooo -- Robert Munsch, Grandma. My favourite!"). Would a Kindle copy provide the same pleasure for him? I don't think so. I don't think I'm ready for the Kindle idea yet.

I have just finished reading William Boyd's Any Human Heart, a made-up memoir of a writer living in the 20th century. Although somewhat X-rated in places, the book is well-written and interesting as the protagonist lives his life to the full, travelling around the world, mixing with the movers and shakers of his time; he finds great happiness, and suffers tragic personal loss. Some of my reading group thought the book absolutely fabulous, the best we have ever read, they said.

Posted by: Wendy | November 23rd, 2009

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Hello Again
I have just finished reading "A Ministry for Special Cases". This is a book about the 'Dirty War" of 1976 in Argentina when thousands of children disappeared under a corrupt Government..
Kaddish, the father with good intentions spends his evenings erasing names in a Jewish cemetary to protect the identity of the living community who do not want to be related to the pimps and whores who are buried there.
Lillan, his wife, who works in an Insurance agency, keeps saving him from him his good but misguided intentions.
When their son disappears they end up at The Ministry of Special Cases, trying to locate him.
There are many more characters and themes happening and some excellent writing. There is also much joy, despair and horror. Google this for more in depth reviews,

Posted by: Ahnne Colins | November 26th, 2009

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I too cannot work up any enthusiasm for Kindle, especially at that price. However, when there is some competition in the future the price should go down - as happens with other electronic 'gadgets'. Like you, Wendy, I enjoy browsing the library and bookstores, especially second hand ones. No, not Kindle for me, but then long, long ago I did say "Why should I want a computer".
Ahnne, the book Ministry of Special Cases sounds like my kind of reading and it will go on My List. I will Google it.
Does anyone wish for any special book from Santa this Xmas? And have you decided on books as gifts? Any special ones?

Posted by: cynthia | November 26th, 2009

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I don't see a Kindle in my future as I also read too much to afford it...also, I think I would find it hard on the eyes as I can only read for a while on a computer. I have just finished Six Suspects by Vikas Swarup. He is a member of the Indian Foreign Service and the author of Slumdog Millionaire. This is the most unusual murder mystery I have ever read and also an informative satire on Indian politics and society. It's often funny, always clever, and full of surprises....well worth the read. When a Crocodile Eats the Sun sounds like a book I would like to read. Thank-you, Cynthia.

Posted by: Vivian | November 27th, 2009

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Six Suspects, Vivian,and When a Croc, Cynthia both sound like books I would like to read. I have added them to my list. If Santa brings all the books I have on my list (I have been good, so I'm hoping!), he'll need a special sleigh.

Posted by: Wendy | November 28th, 2009

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If you enjoyed The School of Essential Ingredients you will also like The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs,she has since written other books.I liked them all so far and have ordered her latest.This book business is going to put me in the poor house,it is like an addiction.Oh well,could be worse.The library likes .

Posted by: Audrey | November 30th, 2009

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There was a book on Oprah called Half of the Sky,has anyone read it or heard about it?A friend said that it was good,but I have not had much luck with Oprah books.Authors are Kristof andWu Dunn.

Posted by: Audrey | December 4th, 2009

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Audrey, I have not read Half of the Sky, but if you like light, humourous reading about cooking you might enjoy "Eat Cake" by Jeanne Ray. She also wrote "Julie and Romeo" and "Step-Ball-Change". I read the latter and "Eat Cake" and found both very entertaining.

Posted by: Wendy | December 4th, 2009

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Audrey, the Oprah book is "Half the Sky - turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide" by co-authors Nicholas D.Kristof and Sheryl Wu Dunn.
I am reading 'Ministry of Special Cases' by Nathan Englander, Ahnne. It is a very complex story with so many unfamiliar names so it has taken me a while to get into it, but I am now beginning to enjoy reading the book, tho it is a sad story. Vivian, I read 'Bury me Standing' by Isabel Fonseca and found it a fascinating account of the author's life with gypsies in Europe - very descriptive and detailed more so than 'The Rom' by Roger Moreau, which was the history of these unfortunate people.
I have had thoughts about some books that have been recommended by us which have covered stories, fic and non-fic, about the people in countries such as Africa, Afghanistan, Argentina. They give me an understanding of the past and present situations of these people and makes me feel thankful to be in a safe country like ours. The media covers little overseas happenings which leaves us rather isolated and in some cases ignorant of the outside world and how other folk are suffering.
Escapism is what I needed so I turned to an Ian Rankin mystery. Though I have enjoyed some of his, this one is very slow reading (not enough dead bodies perhaps?).
Have you been reading any good mysteries lately?

Posted by: cynthia | December 4th, 2009

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Wendy, mysteries are my favourite reads and my very favourite character is Amelia Peabody who is featured in 18 mysteries which take place in the early 1900's in Egypt and England.You can learn more about Amelia at www.ameliapeabody.com. Elizabeth Peters earned her PhD. in Egyptology and also writes under the name Barbara Mertz. If reading about Amelia, her husband Emerson and her adventures, start with the first book and read them in order: Crocodile on the Sandbank, The Curse of the Pharaohs, The Mummy Case, Lion in the Valley, The Deeds of the Disturber, The Last Camel Died at Noon and so on. Wendy, I have read Step, Ball, Change by Jeanne Ray and enjoyed it. Another mystery writer I like is Sharyn McCrumb. I love her title: If I'd Killed Him When I met Him..but I think her best books are The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter and The Ballad of Frankie Silver. The master of quick-moving mysteries is James Patterson. The books he wrote alone like Along Came a Spider and Four Blind Mice are much better than his recent many titles written with other authors...almost like a factory.

Posted by: Vivian | December 4th, 2009

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Thank you Vivian for the list of mysteries. I dont read many mysteries but will look out for these titles when I need to relax with a who-dunnit. You mentioned a book you had read, Six Suspects by Vikas Swarup, which I have not read but I did read his first novel, Q&A, a charmer. A British film and a musical is in the works. Another book about India I'm sure you will enjoy is 'The White Tiger' by Aravind Adiga. I do recommend it. This novel is the first person confession of a boy in India who grows up using his wits to become a success in a corrupt world. An eye-opener, it's quite a compelling tale, and it is suspenseful and funny.

Posted by: cynthia | December 6th, 2009

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I have just read 'The lacuna' by Barbara Kingsolver. I consider her book 'The poisonwood bible' one of the best novels I've ever read, and this new one is the first since then so my expectations were high. I was not disappointed and could hardly put it down. Briefly, it is about the son of a Mexican mother and an American father, the family's return to Mexico from America to live and the circumstances that brought the boy (Harrison) to work for Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. He subsequently met their friend Trotsky which is a crucial part of the story. It covers a period of American history that many of us will remember, whether we lived there or not, the anti-communist era, HUAC investigations etc. Historical figures are named and there are some direct quotes from newspapers of the time. I enjoyed it and learned a lot - a very satisfying read for me.

I'm enjoying all the suggested titles - wish I could make reading my permanent occupation!

Posted by: Julie | December 10th, 2009

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I think The Poisonwood Bible was a great book as well. I hadn't heard of The Lacuna so thank-you, Julie, for suggesting it. I will also be putting The White Tiger on my list to read.

Posted by: Vivian | December 10th, 2009

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Julie, I am very pleased to get your review of the Lacuna. I have seen it in Chapters and, because I so enjoyed Barbara Kingslover's Poisonwood Bible, I wanted to read this new one too. Will reserve it if its in the library.
I am an armchair traveller these days now that my travel days are history, and I enjoy reading about other people's travels especially if history is involved. I want to mention some of the light ones I have enjoyed in the past and you may too. "Driving Over Lemons" by Chris Stewart. Like many UK and US residents who have renovated old houses to make second homes in Europe, Stewart finds a rundown peasant farm in Southern Spain and persuades his reluctant wife to join him. They tackle the work involved, including feeding and housing the former owner who is reluctant to leave. He writes too about the countryside, the people and the adventures he and his wife have. Canadian Ann Vanderhoof wrote "An Embarrassment of Mangoes". She and her husband say goodbye to the rat race and set sail on a 2 year discovery of the Caribbean from the Bahamas to Trinidad. They encounter sun-drenched landscapes, enchanting characters, secluded beaches and delicious food. Recipes are included. You will want to pack your bags and go sailing. "Uncle Boris in the Yukon" by Daniel Pinkwater is a tale of the author's colourful uncle Boris who sets off on a trek from his town, Warsaw, to the Yukon in search of gold. He stirs up a friendship with a malamute dog named Jake, who just happens to speak Yiddish. This book is a series of canine anecdotes, a funny mix of memoir and fancy. Lots of fun.
Just one more I cant resist mentioning. "Travels of a Fat Bulldog". George Courtauld is a retired civil servant living on a farm in England with his wife. When the Foreign Office in London calls him, he takes a train there, picks up a diplomatic bag containing top secret documents (including the Queen's correspondence) which is strapped and locked to his wrist, is driven by diplomatic car to the airport and travels lst class, two seats for privacy, to the destination in various parts of the world, never unlocking the diplomatic bag from his wrist. On arrival at the airport he is met by the secret service who drive him to the UK Embassy. At last he is relieved of The Bag and then has a few days and more to explore the countryside or the country before he is called back to pick up The Bag and return with it, strapped to him, to London. Finally he can return to his poor suffering wife and work on the farm, until the next call on Her Majesty's Secret Service. His travel adventures are fascinating. I dont know how top secret documents are sent these days, surely not by email.

Posted by: cynthia | December 11th, 2009

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Hello
Sorry, but:

Posted by: Big bonus | December 15th, 2009

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Cynthia, do you review books?

Posted by: Ida M Temple | December 17th, 2009

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Hello Ida. Do I review books? Well, all members can review any books they have read, write about any author/title they have enjoyed/hated, start a discussion. Are there any books you would like to recommend? Please do join us, Ida.

Posted by: cynthia | December 17th, 2009

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I will be away until the new year ( taking Six Suspects with me, Vivian)..
HAPPY CHRISTMAS
HAPPY HANUKKAH
HAPPY HOLIDAYS,
to you Wendy, Audrey, Julie, Moira, Vivian, Tara, Rosemarie, Ahne, Brandi and to you Ida. Also to all those looking over the fence and reading these posts - jump in, join us and 'talk' books. Until next year . . . .

Posted by: cynthia | December 18th, 2009

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Thank you so much, Cynthia. All my very best wishes to you, too, for happy holidays, and a New Year of Love, Peace and Joy.

Posted by: Wendy | December 18th, 2009

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Happy everything to you too Cynthia. Look forward to more discussions in 2010 (can't believe that!) Don't get snowed in, but if that is likely make sure you have a good pile of books. Seasons greetings to all the readers - happy New Year for peace and good health.

Posted by: Julie | December 18th, 2009

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Have a great Christmas season, everyone. All the best reading in 2010.

Posted by: Vivian | December 22nd, 2009

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Thank you, Vivian.

Posted by: Wendy | December 22nd, 2009

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All good wishes for a joyful Christmas season, everyone. And happy reading!

Posted by: Wendy | December 22nd, 2009

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A very happy new year to all. And happy reading!
Did you have time for reading over the holiday? Can you remember more books you have read over the years that you enjoyed (or not), have you news of any new books to be published or news of any author you enjoyed? I'm looking forward to reading posts from members, new and old!

Posted by: cynthia | December 31st, 2009

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Happy new year, to you, too, Cynthia! No, I didn't have time over the holidays to read, but am just starting to read, "Three Cups of Tea," and finishing up "The Assassin's Song" by M.G. Vassanji, a Book Group book I should have read before the holidays. My husband gifted me with Alexander McCall Smith's "La's Orchestra Saves the World," which I am very much looking forward to reading.

Posted by: Wendy | January 1st, 2010

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Happy new Year everyone. I read something special over the holidays - 'Stones into schools' by Greg Mortenson. For those who have read 'Three cups of tea,' you won't want to miss this. It is inspirational. Greg and his Foundation have built 131 schools (at the time of publication) in the most remote and isolated regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Village elders request a secular school which their girls will attend, beside the boys. How about that?!! It sometimes takes years for the plan to come to fruition, due to difficulties of access in the region and other problems, but no-one gives up and eventually a school is built. The Foundation also provides grants for students (especially girls) who want to go on to higher education with the aim of helping their people.

I couldn't put this book down and I felt encouraged and better informed by the time I finished it.I knit woolen garments for children in Afghanistan (for those interested check up Afghans for Afghans on Google) so the school projects warmed my heart.

Posted by: Julie | January 4th, 2010

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A quick post - my world has been topsy turvy and I am just coming back down to earth. Have had company which has left me no time to read since before Xmas, and as my pc is in the guest room . . . . . .. But I will be back to chat in a couple of days so don't go away will you?!

Posted by: cynthia | January 6th, 2010

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I know what you mean,had my great grandaughter and gg grandson for a few hours on the30 th.Hee is at the pull yourself up flop down stage and nothing was sacred,getting to old I guess,however I am now reaing Alexander McCall Smiths The unbearable lightness of scones,also the fourth book of the Friday night knitting club, not ready for heavy reading just yet,Life is good.Audrey

Posted by: Audrey | January 10th, 2010

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So glad to be back here! Julie, I have just googled Afghans for Afghans. What a great idea to knit (socks, blankets, vests etc.) for the poor Afghanis. Why not keep one's hands busy while watching tv? Do check that website for information on how you can get involved. Greg Mortenson's books have had very good reviews and I will soon reach Three Stones on my reading list. He is a very courageous man and a good humanitarian. How did you enjoy Assassins Song, Wendy? Perhaps you could tell us about this book? Audrey you are another McC Smith fan, like Wendy. I'm sure you need the light reading to wind down after your busy days! Have you read Friends, Lovers, Chocolate? I have this book waiting in the wings for light reading after I finish Ignatieff's Blood and Belonging, which I am enjoying - lots of European history and an understanding of how nationalism tears countries apart . His journey across the different countries is very descriptive and easy reading.

Posted by: cynthia | January 10th, 2010

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I also keep busy knitting touques and mitts in the long evenings but donate them to Salvation Army

Posted by: audrey | January 10th, 2010

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Good to hear that there are other knitters on the forum. Reading and knitting go together very well. Now for something a little different : today I went to the movie 'Invictus' and was very impressed with every aspect of the film. I had read and enjoyed the book on which it is based ('Playing the enemy' by John Carlin) and was interested to see how well the film followed the story. It tells of how Nelson Mandela determined to unite the people of South Africa through support of their rugby team in the 1995 World Cup. The acting, direction, scenery, music, and above all the story are excellent and quite inspirational.

Posted by: Julie | January 10th, 2010

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Sorry, Cynthia, I haven't finished reading "Assassin's Song" yet. I switched to "Three Cups of Tea," my Book Club book, which I hope to have finished soon so I can resume reading "Assassin's Song," but for a week or so I will have little time for reading.

Posted by: Wendy | January 11th, 2010

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Look forward to your comments on 3 cups, Wendy, when you return.
Audrey, a good cause for your toques and mitts. One way to keep hands warm too! Yes, Julie - Playing the Enemy by John Carlin is an amazing true story about Mandella's far-fetched plan to use the national Rugby team to bring South Africans together. Good to hear that the film stayed with the story, which movies of books too seldom dont do.

Posted by: cynthia | January 11th, 2010

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I am also a knitter---Mostly for our Hospital Auxiliary---I'm in charge of our knitting as a fundraiser. Cynthia, I read The White Tiger over the holidays and enjoyed it. I am still waiting for Stones Into Schools. For anyone who liked Lawrence Hill's Book of Negroes, I just finished his earlier book, Any Known Blood. The characters are very appealing and I became quite involved in their stories. It is the account of 5 generations of a black family. Langston Cane V,
Canadian son of a white mother and black father, begins a search of his family background in both Canada and the US. He has a light touch that makes the novel very easy reading.

Posted by: Vivian | January 11th, 2010

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Good project you are on, Vivian. I'm glad you enjoyed The White Tiger - I found it a very interesting novel about India. Any Known Blood is now on my must read list. I have not yet finished Ignatieff's Blood and Belonging but am enjoying it very much. I was going over my list of Books I Have Read, and one that I would recommend, if you are interested in circuses, is Sara Gruen's novel 'Water for Elephants', a story of life in a travelling circus and the inrtrigue and murder . Another great book I enjoyed was The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean - the fascinating history of orchids and how collectors would vie with each other to find and grow special orchids.

Posted by: cynthia | January 13th, 2010

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Our Book Club for book lovers and avid readers has been going strong since September. I am sure by now we all have a book filled with lists of "Books to Read or Have Read" and there will be more to add to your lists. There is no need for a moderator now so I am just going to get a cuppa, pull up my favourite chair and chat with you about books and authors. Read any good books lately?

Posted by: cynthia | January 17th, 2010

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I am just finishing up reading 3 Cups of Tea -- an amazing, inspirational story about an amazing man. Did any of you know Greg Mortensen was in the Vancouver Lower Mainland this weekend, promoting his newest book Stones into Schools? He was at Southridge School, Surrey on Saturday afternoon and at Kidsbooks, Vancouver in the evening. Unfortunately, I couldn't attend any of his presentations; all except the book signing Sat night were sold out.

Posted by: Wendy | January 17th, 2010

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Wish I could have been there, Wendy. Vivian and Wendy, you both enjoyed Three Cups and I am wondering if you watched Bill Moyers Journal on PBS TV on Friday? He interviewed Greg Mortenson about his life and books. You can read the interview, and watch the video, on www.pbs.org/bill moyers journal/greg mortenson. A quote from Moyers: "Three Cups of Tea has become required reading for our (U.S.) senior military commanders and special forces in Afghanistan....." because of Mortenson's wide knowledge of Afghanistani culture and needs, which the forces know so little about. There should be more Greg Mortensons in this world.

Posted by: cynthia | January 17th, 2010

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I'm thoroughly enjoying 'My life in France' by Julia Child. It's been around for a few years and after seeing 'Julie and Julia' I had to read it. But oh! That rich French food with masses of cream, butter and eggs! Mouth-watering but...!

Posted by: Julie | January 19th, 2010

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Thanks, Cynthia, the Bill Moyers interview was excellent. I am now looking forward to reading Stones into Schools.

My Life in France sounds yummy, Julie, but as I'm trying to watch my weight, maybe shouldn't read it. ;-)

Posted by: Wendy | January 20th, 2010

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I am still waiting for Stones Into Schools. I am off to Mexico for a few weeks so my reading will be used paperbacks which I take and leave behind when I leave. I am going for a totally relaxing break from winter. I'll get back to my reading list when I return.

Posted by: Vivian | January 21st, 2010

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I'm enjoying a delightful memoir,'Thank Heaven' by Leslie Caron. Interesting life story from childhood in occupied Paris, an ambitious mother who 'guided' her into ballet lessons where she excelled, and a dancing career which led to Hollywood and films. (Anyone remember 'Gigi?') Lots of photos in the book and Leslie,now 78, is still very beautiful, and an innkeeper in France. Who would have thought?

Posted by: Julie | January 25th, 2010

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"Thank Heavens for Little Girls"!! The wonderful Chevalier. Is Leslie Caron only 78?! I am sure I saw Gigi in another life eons ago when Caron was a young miss. Loved the movie and the music. Will definitely read the book, Julie.

Posted by: cynthia | January 25th, 2010

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I have just finished reading The Flying Troutman's by Miriam Toews, and liked it even better than her first book A Complicated Kindness. A fast-paced story, one feels like one is in the van, a nailbiting onlooker on the road with Hattie (the protagonist) and the children in her care as they motor south to find the children's father. Toews is a whiz as she captures the pain and confusion and love of people caught up in a rapidly disintegrating family. Still grieving over a failed romance, Hattie takes over the care of her hospitalised psychotic sister, Min's, children -- eleven-year-old chatterbox, Thebes, and silent teenage boy, Logan. Toews writes in short, somewhat zany style in keeping with the family's chaotic situation; her descriptions ring true and her dialogue with the kids is compassionate and hip -- a truly gifted writer.

Posted by: Wendy | January 29th, 2010

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Wendy, you have described this book so well. I found that the story stayed with me long after I finished it, more so than Miriam Toews' other books, all of which I enjoyed. Her writing style is unique and very appealing I think.

Posted by: Julie | January 29th, 2010

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I too enjoyed this book,it is not my usual and all the time I was reading I kept wondering why,but I could not put it down.Very strange

Posted by: Audrey | January 30th, 2010

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Thanks, Julie. Yes, Miriam Toews has a very unique writing style, a sharp wit, and understanding of human frailties. She hooks the reader in with a cast of hurting, vulnerable characters that the reader comes to really care about (hence you not being able to put the book down, Audrey). I couldn't put it down either; I had to know if the problems were resolved and how the story ended.

Posted by: Wendy | January 30th, 2010

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It will be a while before I can be in touch again with you all - an eye problem is preventing me from doing any reading (can you imagine anything worse?!!) but I will certainly be back with all of you in this Book Club as soon as I am able.

Posted by: cynthia | January 31st, 2010

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So sorry to hear about your eye problem, Cynthia. I hope it's not serious, that you'll heal quickly and be back with us again soon. If the problem persists -- I saw yesterday that our library has a much bigger and better selection of audio books. Listening to audio books might be a workable solution for you until your eye is better; you can relax and not even have to turn pages. :-) Take Care. We'll miss you!

Posted by: Wendy | January 31st, 2010

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I wonder if anyone has read the Shack by WM.Paul Young,my daughter gave it to me and said it was wonderful,I am trying to read it but so far dont find it wonderful.I thought perhaps some one else out there had read it and maybe had a different perspective than I do.I know it is fiction but find it very odd.

Posted by: Audrey | January 31st, 2010

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Do hope you'll soon be back with us Cynthia and in the meantime make use of audio books. It is wonderful that often a new title is released in audio form and large print at the same time as regular print. We used to have to wait months for alternate versions. All the best for your eye treatment. May the force be with you!!

Posted by: Julie | February 1st, 2010

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Hello everyone - I am back and reading like mad, thanks to a great Vancouver doc who stabilised my eye after a laser problem. Thanks Wendy and Julie for your advice. But this is a BOOK discussion group so here goes. I have finally finished Ignatieff's Blood and Belonging about his travels across Europe trying to explain why, because of nationalism, a country becomes so divided that neighbour kills neighbour. He visits the ordinary folk in their villages (not Politicians) even a Kurd guerilla leader in a cave, in some places where bombs are going off close by (N.Ireland, Kurdistan). Very descriptive and a good enlightening read of the countries and their histories, and of the author.
Audrey, I looked up The Shack by Wm Paul Young and it does seem to be a strange story, a mystery "that leads to a dark nightmare". I read that the author was born a Canadian and raised among a stone age tribe, by missionary parents, in what was New Guinea. He now lives in the Pacific Northwest. What could his childhood have been. That would make an interesting auto bio.
After months of waiting I have finally got The Guernsey LAPP Pie. It seems I will have a fascinating story to read. I am also looking forward to reading your posts, as always.

Posted by: cynthia | February 7th, 2010

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Good to know you are able to read comfortably again Cynthia.
After reading of P.K.Page's death I read her 'Brazilian journal' and loved it, especially the descriptions of flora and fauna. Today I finished her 'Hand luggage,' a memoir in verse, which continues the story. Such an interesting and full life - she certainly was a national treasure and I regret not having read her work earlier.

Posted by: Julie | February 7th, 2010

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Glad to have you with us again, Cynthia. I have just finished reading Alexander McCall Smith's, La's Orchestra Saves the World. I enjoyed it, it described a different kind of heroism in WW2. I borrowed Assassin's Song from the library again, but I don't think I'll be able to finish it. I have lost momentum in the story and can't seem to pick up interest again. It's Amy Tan's fault. I started reading Saving Fish fron Drowning, and can't put it down.

Posted by: Wendy | February 9th, 2010

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Audrey, there is a biography on Wm Paul Young and his book The Shack in Wikipedia, which gives a lot of interesting information. I'm sure you will find it revealing of the author and his book. Also, to quote another source: "The Shack has stirred up controversy in its casual and modernized depiction of God and Young's occasional disregard for Church orthordoxy". Perhaps that's one reason it was on the best seller list at one time.
Wendy, did you know that Amy Tan is a member of the Rock Bottom Remainders - a rock and roll band of published writers and musicians? Other band members are Stephen King, Maya Angelou, Barbara Kingsolver, Dave Barry etc. From USA Today, "Saving Fish ... a rollicking, adventure-filled story ... packed with the human capacity for love". I have added it to my List.

Posted by: cynthia | February 9th, 2010

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No, Cynthia, I hadn't heard about Amy Tan and the Rock Bottom Remainders band. Rock and Roll yet-- somehow I can't imagine Stephen King or Barbara Kingsolver rockin' and rollin', although I think the name of the band is brilliant. Thanks for the info -- very interesting.

Posted by: Wendy | February 10th, 2010

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For the Alexander McCall Smith fans: "The Unbearable Lightness of Scones", the follow up to "The World According to Bertie" in the Scotland Street series. Have you read this? I don't know the series.

Posted by: cynthia | February 13th, 2010

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Yes, Cynthia. I have read it and enjoyed it, as I have all this series. Young Bertie is quite a memorable character. Important to read them in order I think.

Posted by: Julie | February 13th, 2010

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I have discovered the world of ereaders (Kindle etc) and for all of us over 50 it is wonderful. Much easier to read with larger font available, no glare (able to read in the sun), very light, easy to use. I have written a web site with all the information of this new and exciting device. Readers may go to www.eebsnews.com if they want to learn more. It has changed my enjoyment of reading and I can't imagine not owning one.

Posted by: Janet | February 14th, 2010

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Thank you, Janet. Some of us did discuss Kindle in earlier posts and there were some fors and some not, but from what you write, and reading the website you mention, we can be better informed. I tried my son's Kindle over Xmas and though I was impressed with the technology, my problem was with having to buy the books I wanted to read and yet not have those books on my bookshelf. However, Kindle I know is something I would definitely want to pack in my case when I am able to travel again.

Posted by: cynthia | February 16th, 2010

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I have just read 'Remarkable Creatures : a novel' by Tracy Chevalier and enjoyed it a lot. You might have read 'Girl with a pearl earring' by the same author and she has written several others.This book is the of Mary Anning, the fossil hunter who's remarkable finds in the cllffs in Lyme Regis set the scientific world on it's heels. Also vividly portrays the social prejudices against women in the 19th century. Historical characters are factual and events interpreted by the writer. A good read and I learned a lot as well.

Posted by: Julie | February 20th, 2010

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Thanks, Julie, I must read that book. I loved "Girl with a Pearl Earring" I like Chevalier's style --of interpreting events around the life and times of a historical character.

Posted by: Wendy | February 20th, 2010

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I finally got and read Stones Into Schools and found it as inspiring as Three Cups of Tea. The only problem is I am dying to know what happens next. I am amazed at how many schools they have built. Audrey, I read The Shack by Wm Paul Young . I found the first part (before he meets up with God) really good and thought I would like the novel but the middle really bogged down for me and I thought I would never get through it...then the end improved again so it was so-so for me. I'm now reading some Dixie Cash ...light reading but I love her titles--Don't Make Me Choose Between You and My Shoes, Since You're Leaving Anyway, Take Out the Trash, I Gave You My Heart, But You Sold It On Line. Since I'm watching the Olympics, I need something to pick up during breaks.

Posted by: Vivian | February 23rd, 2010

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Anyone interested in Emagazines? For seniors who would like to write up their memories, or read other's: www.yesterdaysmagazette.com
This site has mostly stories submitted by seniors.

An Australian and worldwide magazine for seniors: www.bonzer.org.au
is full of stories by seniors, poems, reviews, puzzles (some mind boggling), jokes and lots more to keep you glued to your pc. Lots of fun.

www.goodreads.com This is not purely for seniors but has discussions and book reviews. You can catalogue books, read other readers' ratings of books, search for titles - like a library.

Posted by: cynthia | February 24th, 2010

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I must follow those sites up. Thanks Cynthia.
Despite being glued to the tv during the Olympics I still fitted in some reading and one book was particularly special, called 'Running for the hills' by Horatio Clare. It is the true story of his childhood, spent mostly on an isolated hill farm in Wales. The descriptions of the land and the weather, especially the winter, are beautifully written, and especially touching when he returned to see the farm as an adult, having left it many years before.

Posted by: Julie | March 2nd, 2010

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Hello there. Where is everyone? I'm looking forward to more book news!

Posted by: Julie | March 6th, 2010

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We're here, Julie, just starting to read again after the Olympics. I'm half-way through reading Michael Ondaatje's "Divisadero." My thoughts about it so far are somewhat divisadero too, but I'll throw in my two cents and let you know what I think of it when I'm done.

Posted by: Wendy | March 7th, 2010

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Thank goodness the aliens have not spirited you all away! Hello again Julie and Wendy. I have family staying until April so my books are inactive tho I check in here when I can get my hands on MY computer. Will be back to join you all. Happy reading.

Posted by: cynthia | March 7th, 2010

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I have finished reading "Divisadero" by Michael Ondaatje. Did I like it? Yes, a beautifully written novel, but the style is very different. The narrative follows the lives and passions of its characters in a calm and dispassionate way, a 'calm probing of life's most turbulent and devastating experiences' to quote Jhumpa Lahirl's review on the cover. It's an interesting look at how a single happening or experience can change the course of many lives, and how the present is reflected and influenced by the past.

Posted by: Wendy | March 12th, 2010

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As a past book store owner and avid reader, I would love to hear what others are reading, but I must admit, that reading fiction to me is becoming less and less appealing.

As I am typing, I am surrounded by hundreds of books and every year we give away most if not all of the fiction we buy, but rarely dispose of the none fiction.

some of my recent favorites.
Agathe Christy "the Notebooks" a review and histroy about her found notebooks and some never published stories

Going Dutch, a very interesting book about how The Dutch and English Societies in the "Golden Age" co-existed. It is easy to see how we all could have been speaking Dutch rather than English........ hmmm.
The history of the Papacy, amazing book.
A short history of South America,

I guess I like history and in particular the topics of which we hear little or nothing about in the traditional sources. Specifically history about areas that have had significant impact but seem underestimated (at least in my mind) the more I read about the past, the more it explains the present, and what the future will possibly look like.

Happy reading and live a Pfanntaastic Life
Peter and Linda Pfann

Posted by: Peter Pfann | March 14th, 2010

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Welcome, Peter and Linda.

I like a good mixture of fiction and non-fiction - the latter for daytime reading and learning, then light fiction at bedtime to give me sweet dreams. My most recent non-fiction is 'Inside the Kingdom' by Robert Lacey, about Saudi Arabia. In 1981 he published 'The Kingdom' which was enthralling. The latest book, published in 2009, is about Saudi Arabia now, in light of recent world events and entering a new century. The author lived in Jeddah (and may still do so,) knows the country very well, and has access to many people of influence there. It's not a place we hear much about, other than occasional headlines in the mass media and I enjoyed getting a more balanced view.

My current 'sweet dreams' book is 'Notwithstanding : stories from an English village' by Louis de Bernieres (best known for 'Captain Corelli's mandolin') and it is delightful. Short stories but characters move from one to the other to give a certain continuity. Delightful, with humour and emotion.

Will look forward to more of your suggestions.

Posted by: Julie | March 15th, 2010

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Hi Julie,
Thank you for your suggestions, speaking for my self, I tend to go through these periods I want to read about a certain topic, and then move on to something totally different.

Most of the time I have about 4 to 6 books on the go, of which 2 or 3 will be related or in research of something to do with our real estate practice, the rest will be for fun and general interest. for example right now I have a few books about creating and preparing workshops, seminars and public speaking on my desk, yet I am also reading Nelson Mandela's auto biography as well as a book about the greatest explorations in history and a few books about seniors, aging and the law.

I fool myself by thinking that by reading lots, I will actually understand things better. It appears that logic and common sense has long left society and the more you read the more obvious that becomes.

As A "Dutch Guy", I tend to favour books based on reality, facts and common sense, today's flavour of the month in publishing and TV as well as movies is moving further and further in to the area of fantasy, horror and obscure alternate worlds, although the settings are different, the story lines are mostly taken from what sold in the past........

Nothing new in the world of writing, and publishing.

Have fun reading and live a Pfanntastic Life

Peter and Linda Pfann

Posted by: Peter Pfann | March 16th, 2010

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Julie, I am presently reading Inside the Kingdom. I am also reading Women in Islam by Anne Sofie Roald who is an Associate Professor at Malmo University in Sweden and a converted Muslim of Norwegian origin. The book is interesting but heavy going which is why I am reading both books as well as a few Agatha Christie novels when I need a break. I usually have a non-fiction book on the go as well as a novel but finish several novels in the time I read the non-fiction.

Posted by: Vivian | March 16th, 2010

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Pre retirement I read fiction to relax after work; since retiring my brain has yearned for stimulation. Reading non-fiction has been one remedy.
One must not cast fiction aside - Thomas Mann, Tolstoy, Dickens, Koestler etc. were all novelists. There are still many great novelists of all nationalities writing well-researched stimulating books that can add to one's knowledge and add to one's vocabulary. A mix of fiction and non-fiction with a good sprinkling of mystery makes a good brew. Cheers!

Posted by: cynthia | March 23rd, 2010

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Here are some interesting sites you might like to browse, all involving books:

www.literaturepage.com (classical books you can read online)
www.quotationspage.com (just that, quotations on many subjects)
www.gutenberg.org (free ebooks you can download to your PC,
iPhone or Kindle --- BUT free in the US. However
you can read the books online)

Have fun!

Posted by: cynthia | March 27th, 2010

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Happy Easter and lots of chocolate to all the readers. I'm enjoying 'Lakeland : journeys into the soul of Canada' by Allan Casey. He travels to lakes all over the country (excluding the Great Lakes) and tells of history, ecology and local anecdotes. Beautiful descriptions leave me wanting to see them all.

Posted by: Julie | April 1st, 2010

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Okay -- I've stopped sniffling, wiped my tears and can now move on with my life after finishing "Change of Heart," by Jodi Picoult. A many-faceted book, rich with twists and turns and an interesting cast of flawed but appealing characters (Shay Bourne, the arsonist and two-time murderer on death row who apparently performs miracles -- is he really a present-day Messiah?; will June, grieving for her family, ever be able to overcome her rage and forgive him? And Father Michael, a Catholic priest, has he totally lost his way and become a Gnostic? Will Maggie, the smart, but Bridget Jones-like civil liberties attorney, be able to get Shay's sentenced changed from lethal injection to hanging, so he can become an organ donor?) The book keeps us guessing to the end, and Picoult, true to her calling, presents the many sides of some difficult social issues, love, hate and redemption; she makes us laugh, cry and re-examine our deepest convictions.

Posted by: Wendy | April 2nd, 2010

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I have just joined the book group and am delighted to see many of my favourites mentioned but one is missing. "The English Patient" is, I think, the best book I have ever read (at least three times) and the best book that the author,Michael Ondaatchje, has written. The people and situations are completely absorbing.

Posted by: joan moody | April 6th, 2010

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Hello Joan, and welcome to the book club. I haven't (yet) read The English Patient but it will be waiting on my list. Has anyone else read this book by Michael Ondaatchje? Or any other books by this author? Any comments?

Posted by: cynthia | April 7th, 2010

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Yes, I have read The English Patient. Didn't quite get it at first reading but then saw the film and reread the book, and loved it. I have read other books by Ondaatje but none impressed me as much as this one.

Have just finished Joanna Trollope's latest, The Other Family, and enjoyed it. Interesting story about 2 families linked by one man and his piano. Excellent portrayal of characters and life in 2 different parts of England. This author captures family situations so accurately and I remember the characters for quite some time.

Posted by: Julie | April 7th, 2010

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Just discovered an excellent debut novel by Farahad Zama ( born in India , now living in India).If you like McCall Smith, you will like this book - The Marriage Bureau for Rich People. I read it in one sitting which meant a late night. Called "a novel of warmth and hopefulness with all the color and detail of an Indian miniature and a romance as sweet as Jasmine." Bored with retirement, Mr. Ali decides to open a marriage bureau which leads the way for the best novel I have read all year..and since I average 300 novels a year, that's a high rating. Did I mention that I loved this book?

Posted by: Vivian | April 12th, 2010

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mistake--Farahad Zama now lives in London. I have had a copy of The English Patient for years and still haven't read it so I must get to it. I haven't read The Other Family but I enjoyed The Best of Friends and Brother and Sister by Joanna Trollope.

Posted by: Vivian | April 12th, 2010

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Thanks for that Vivian. I've immediately reserved it from the library. I love book clubs! I am hosting my own book group this afternoon so will tell everyone about your recommendation.

Posted by: Julie | April 13th, 2010

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After months of waiting, I finally got Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity For Women which was mentioned earlier by Audrey and Cynthia. It was very informative. Made me realize how lucky we are to be women living in Canada. I had never even heard of fistulas
( after childbirth especially for very young mothers without medical attention.) However, I ended up with immense respect for the way many of these women turned their lives around after enduring horrible things. It was humbling and made me really appreciate my own situation. Also enjoyed McCall Smith's Tea Time for the Tradionally Built.

Posted by: Vivian | April 18th, 2010

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There has been a lot of chatter about Stieg Larsson's book The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo since the movie came out. One 'interviewee' suggested that this book should be read before Hollywood's movie version appeared and he lauded the book (in pb at Chapters, it is a mighty one of nearly 700 pages). Larsson's other book at Chapters is The Girl who played with Fire, another very popular book in his country, Sweden. Sadly Larsson died in 2004, before his books, and the film, became so popular. I would love to know what you think of these books, if you have read either, or if you have seen the movie.

Posted by: cynthia | April 19th, 2010

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For McCall Smith lovers: The Double Comfort Safari Club. In this latest of his books, Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi travel north to solve a demise. Great descriptions of beautiful countryside.
Deception by Jonathan Kellerman is a "spellbinding tale of mystery that promises an uphill climb for truth and a dirty fight for justice". Sounds like a good read for mystery fans.
Yann Martel's new book Beatrice & Virgil again uses animals to examine our humanity. "An extraordinary feat of story telling".
To be released in August 2010 is a book that might be difficult reading for some: The Auschwitz Violin by Maria Angels Anglada (translated). It is the unforgettable story of one man's refusal to surrender his dignity in the face of history's greatest atrocity. Just translated, it was already an international sensation.

Posted by: cynthia | April 19th, 2010

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I am reading Double Comfort Safari Club,great as usual.I just finishedMajor Pettigrews Last Stand,a first novel by Helen Simonson,if you liked The Guersey Literary Society,you will love this,also have The Help, have not read yet but it looks good.I know they may be light reading,but a change from all the horrors of the news and books.Have ordered The Book of Awesome,I do like to try first books by new authors.

Posted by: Audrey | April 27th, 2010

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It seems our Book Club has run out of puff. Seems to be a lot of competition now but hopefully we will get back into exchanging book news and reviews again before too long. In the meantime, happy reading.

Posted by: cynthia | May 2nd, 2010

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I am reading what I should have read years ago, according to my daughter! 'Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy' by Douglas Adams. Probably all of you have read it but somehow it slipped by me. I'm loving it and laughing aloud. It has aged well - still delightful and way ahead of it's time. I've read the first two and looking forward to the others in the series. Any comments on this?

Posted by: Julie | May 3rd, 2010

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Like you, Julie, I have not read 'Hitchikers..' but whenever I come across the title I have thought "I must read that"! And I will. At present I am reading "Sixpence House" by Tom Collins, an American/Brit who moves to the UK with his family to live in Hay-on-Wye. This is a book-lovers dream cobble-stoned village on the Wales-Britain border with one pub, a ruined castle (with a self-proclaimed book-loving King) and 40 book stores (at last count), many of them antiquarian books published in the last couple of centuries. He writes about the books he finds, the people and the countryside etc. I passed through many years ago and would love to have spent time just browsing. I remember just off the street there were shelves and shelves of books (in the open air) and a tin can. You could help yourself to one or more books and donate whatever you like.

Posted by: cynthia | May 3rd, 2010

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Hay-on-Wye sounds like book lover's heaven! I have read 'Sixpence House' and enjoyed it very much.

I wonder how many of you loved 'Little Women' in your youth? I did and read it many times. Now I am enjoying 'Louisa May Alcott : the woman behind Little Women,' by Harriet Reisen, and published in 2009. What an amazing life she led in changing times. Her family was active in the anti-slavery movement, and a lot of the liberal thinking which was spreading. She had contact with many of the great writers of the time, such as Whitman, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Longfellow and others. Many of her experiences became fictionalized and long before it was acceptable to do so, she had poems, stories and novels published,( by Anon!), all to help the meagre family finances. It's a fascinating story, very readable and I know I'll soon be re-reading 'Little Women.'

Posted by: Julie | May 3rd, 2010

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I am nearly finished The Help byKathryn Stockett and it is a really good read,it is a first novel and is about the 60s in Mississippi.

Posted by: Audrey | May 3rd, 2010

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I've just finished reading The Wet Nurse's Tale by Erica Eisdorfer which, I believe, is a first novel. It is set in Victorian England. It tells the story of Susan Rose whose bosom is her furtune and her search despite numerous set-backs for personal happiness. It is very readable. I am now reading The Elephant Keeper by Christopher Nicholson. Has anyone else read it?

Posted by: Vivian | May 3rd, 2010

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Vivian, I have just read a review of that book and it is a must read for me. Have a hold on it at the library. Here is the review for those who might be interested in getting the book:
"The Elephant Keeper is the story of Tom and two elephants, in Tom's own words, which moves from the green fields and woods of the English countryside to the dark streets and alleys of late-eighteenth-century London, reflecting both the beauty and the violence of the age. Nicholson's lush writing and deft storytelling complement a captivating tale of love and loyalty between one man and the two elephants that change the lives of all who meet them".

Posted by: cynthia | May 4th, 2010

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Just discovered this site and have enjoyed reading some of the comments, just wish to say I too love books and reading is a passion of mine, I also want to let people know there is a great little library in the James Bay Community Project in Victoria BC. It is entirely run by volunteers, I am one of the volunteers myself and love the interaction with the patrons, we get great books donated to us and you can have them on loan for 3 weeks. So if you are living in Victoria please come and visit us Mon - Fri and surprise yourself.

Posted by: Maura | May 9th, 2010

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Glad you found this site, Maura, and thanks for letting us know about the James Bay library. What are you reading now and have read in the past that you would recommend? Look forward to hearing from you.

Posted by: cynthia | May 9th, 2010

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I'm enjoying Elizabeth Berg's latest novel, 'The last time I saw you.' It is about a 40th high school reunion and the expectations and life experiences of those attending. It combines the memories of school and fellow students with the impressions of them all 40 years later. I love the way this writer can so clearly voice the thoughts of individual characters - almost like a different writer in each chapter but it's all Elizabeth. I think I'm enjoying this the most of all her novels, or those I've read anyway. Has anyone else read it?


I'm enjoying Elizabeth Berg's latest novel, 'The last time I saw you.' It is about a 40th high school reunion and the expectations of those attending. It combines the memories of school days and fellow students (not always good) with their lives now. I admire the way this writer can speak in so many different voices so that the individual personalities are very real. I think I like this best of all her novels, or those I've read anyway. Has anyone else read it?

Posted by: Julie | May 20th, 2010

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Sorry! Don't know how I came to do this twice!

Posted by: Julie | May 20th, 2010

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I read the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie book in early May while in England visiting family. Written in letter format, and lightweight, it was an excellent choice for travelling. I enjoyed the unusual subject, written in an unusual way, and learned much about the island of Guernsey. I had no idea the people there suffered so much in WW2.

Posted by: Wendy | May 21st, 2010

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I have finally recovered from a family reunion in the UK and hoping the Book Club is still alive. Anyone out there with reviews and suggestions? For light mystery/thriller lovers, here is a writer I discovered - Henning Mankell, who is Sweden's bestselling author and has won numerous awards worldwide. His Detective Wallender mysteries have been serialised on British TV and have been very popular.

Posted by: cynthia | June 22nd, 2010

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Hi Cynthia. Welcome back. For various reasons, I have missed all my book group meetings except two this year, and haven't had time to do much reading. I have been trying to catch up Alexander McCall Smith, and have read three of his most recent books -- The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday and The Lost Art of Gratitude (Isabel Dalhousie series) and Tea for the Traditionally Built (Boswana series). I find all his books light and entertaining, although some facts a bit of a stretch. For example, at sixteen weeks, baby Charlie (in Comforts of a Muddy Saturday) eats mashed egg and toast, crawls, and sits in a high chair. Very precocious! But as almost all first-time parents produce "miracle" babies, perhaps Jamie and Isabel produced a superbaby.

Posted by: Wendy | June 26th, 2010

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Wendy, as a A.McS fan you, and other fans, would be interested in his opera that I had mentioned in a previous post.

The Opera called "The Okavango Macbeth" - libretto by Alexander McCall Smith - premieered in May in Edinburgh. Two haunting notes heralded a procession of hornbills, oryx, flying owls, buffalo, impala, elephant, giraffe, warthog and porcupine. The stage was bare and the actors costumes just detailed enough for the audience to recognize the species and the baboon troupe gives full vent to its coughs, whoops and screams. The animals recall the time when there was peace and harmony but then came drought and pain, and greed was born. "Mr. McCall Smith knows about strong women and his Lady Macbeth is a female baboon with a powerful voice. Macbeth as a young male is weak and lacks ambition. She urges him to kill the dominant male, Duncan, and replace him as the number one primate…..A marvelous piece of dramatic entertainment……the opera opened up its dark and unforgettable animal heart".
He is a prolific writer and now seems to have a new interest! This after reading a book titled "Baboon Metaphysics". What next?

Posted by: cynthia | June 28th, 2010

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Wow, Cynthia, I would have loved to have seen it. I was in Britain in May, too, and could have gone to Scotland, but my mother was ill and I needed to spend time with her. Time well spent. In her 100th year, she passed away soon after we arrived back in Canada.

AMS is a brilliant author, scholar and teacher. He has an incredible breadth of knowledge about a great many things. What he has accomplished in life is absolutely amazing, so it's not surprising that he's taken up yet another new interest. Below is only part of his amazing bio:

Biography
Alexander McCall Smith
Bestselling Author of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series

Alexander McCall Smith has written more than 60 books, including specialist academic titles,
McCall Smith was born in what is now Zimbabwe and was educated there and in Scotland. He became a law professor in Scotland, and it was in this role that he first returned to Africa to work in Botswana, where he helped to set up a new law school at the University of Botswana. For many years he was Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh, and has been a visiting professor at a number of other universities elsewhere, including ones in Italy and the United States. He is now a Professor Emeritus at the University of Edinburgh.

In addition to his university work, McCall Smith was for four years the vice-chairman of the Human Genetics Commission of the UK, the chairman of the British Medical Journal Ethics Committee, and a member of the International Bioethics Commission of UNESCO. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including The Crime Writers' Association's Dagger in the Library Award, the United Kingdom's Author of The Year Award in 2004 and Sweden's Martin Beck Award. In 2007 he was made a CBE for his services to literature in the Queen's New Year's Honor List. He holds honorary doctorates from 10 universities, most recently from Southern Methodist University, Dallas.






Biography
Alexander McCall Smith
Bestselling Author of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series

Alexander McCall Smith has written more than 60 books, including specialist academic titles, short story collections, and a number of immensely popular children's books. Referred to as our new P.G. Wodehouse, he is best known for his internationally acclaimed No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, which rapidly rose to the top of the bestseller lists throughout the world. The fifth novel in the series, The Full Cupboard of Life, received the Saga Award for Wit. The ninth book in the series is The Miracle at Speedy Motors (April 2008), and the tenth book in this series is Tea Time for the Traditionally Built (April 2009). The series has now been translated into 45 languages and has sold over 20 million copies worldwide. The first episode of a film adaptation, directed by Anthony Minghella, and produced by the Weinstein Company, premiered on HBO in March 2009. Another series, beginning with The Sunday Philosophy Club, about an intriguing woman named Isabel Dalhousie, appeared in 2004 and immediately leapt onto national bestseller lists, as did sequels, Friends, Lovers, Chocolate, The Right Attitude to Rain, The Careful Use of Compliments, and The Comfort of a Muddy Saturday. The sixth Dalhousie novel is The Lost Art of Gratitude (Fall 2009). McCall Smith's serial novel, 44 Scotland Street, was published in book form to great acclaim in 2005, followed by Espresso Tales and Love Over Scotland, and then by The World According to Bertie (Fall 2008) and also The Unbearable Lightness of Scones (Fall 2009). In late 2008, the serial novel, Corduroy Mansions, depicting the lives of the inhabitants of a large Pimlico house, began to be published and podcasted in 100 daily web episodes by the UK's Daily Telegraph prior to its hardcover release in 2009. Alexander McCall Smith published a solo novel, La's Orchestra Saves the World, in December 2009.

In addition, McCall Smith's delightful German professor series, Portuguese Irregular Verbs, The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs, and At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances were published in the US in January 2005. He is also the author of several children's books, including the Akimbo series, about a boy in Africa, the Harriet Bean series, the Max & Maddy series and The Perfect Hamburger and other Delicious Stories. Akimbo and the Baboons, the fifth book in the Akimbo series, will be published in November 2008. Pantheon has published Alexander McCall Smith's collection of African folktales, The Girl Who Married a Lion. McCall Smith is also the author of Dream Angus: The Celtic God of Dreams, a contemporary reworking of a beloved Celtic myth and Heavenly Date and Other Flirtations, a collection of short stories examining the mysteries of dating and courtship.

McCall Smith was born in what is now Zimbabwe and was educated there and in Scotland. He became a law professor in Scotland, and it was in this role that he first returned to Africa to work in Botswana, where he helped to set up a new law school at the University of Botswana. For many years he was Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh, and has been a visiting professor at a number of other universities elsewhere, including ones in Italy and the United States. He is now a Professor Emeritus at the University of Edinburgh.

In addition to his university work, McCall Smith was for four years the vice-chairman of the Human Genetics Commission of the UK, the chairman of the British Medical Journal Ethics Committee, and a member of the International Bioethics Commission of UNESCO. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including The Crime Writers' Association's Dagger in the Library Award, the United Kingdom's Author of The Year Award in 2004 and Sweden's Martin Beck Award. In 2007 he was made a CBE for his services to literature in the Queen's New Year's Honor List. He holds honorary doctorates from 10 universities, most recently from Southern Methodist University, Dallas.

Posted by: Wendy | June 28th, 2010

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Not much you can say is there. Can't think of many writers who have such an impressive CV, and he stills seems a modest man. Hope he never gets tired of writing.

Posted by: Julie | June 28th, 2010

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Sorry to hear of your loss, Julie. How fortunate, however, that you were able to visit your Mother before she passed away.
Thanks for the AMS CV which all his fans will be very impressed with. Now if only he would research and write a Baby Care book. Right, Wendy?

Posted by: cynthia | June 28th, 2010

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Too funny, Cynthia :-) Charlie, the superbaby of The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday, has slowed down to being very slightly developmentally delayed by the time he crawls into The Lost Art of Gratitude at eighteen months with a one-word vocabulary -- "Olive." But, he's going to be another brilliant Bertie (Scotland Street series). I'm sure of it.

Posted by: Wendy | June 29th, 2010

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'My Traitor's Heart' by Rian Malan. This is an encounter between S.African history and an ordinary man who has inherited the burden of apartheid. He leaves his country but finally returns to the ghosts of his ancestors to seek answers not just in the way black and white live, but the way they die at one another's hands.
" 'I ran because I wouldn't carry a gun for apartheid, and because I wouldn't carry a gun against it.' Malan, the product of a well-known Afrikaner family, returned to South Africa and produced My Traitor's Heart, which explores the literal and figurative brutalities of apartheid. Death is a constant presence on these pages, and the narrative is driven by Malan's criminal reportage. This acclaimed book intends to illuminate South Africa's poisonous race relations under apartheid, and few books do it this well."
If you are interested in S.African history and answers to the questions of apartheid, you will be mesmerized by this passionate, beautiful and profound biography. I could not put it down.

Posted by: cynthia | July 4th, 2010

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It is an AUTObiography, of course, but Malan writes also about his ancestors who were so pro-apartheid, including his father who was at one time the Prime Minister.

Posted by: cynthia | July 4th, 2010

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Alexander McCall Smith fans -- did you know he will be in Vancouver in August for the Writers Festival? He will talk about his forthcoming book, "Corduroy Mansions" with Steven Galloway at St. Andrew's Wesley United Church, 1022 Nelson Street (at Burrard) Monday, August 16.

Posted by: Wendy | July 27th, 2010

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Thanks for that, Wendy. No chance of me getting to Van, unfortunately!
This Book Discussion Club started with a bang and seems to have fizzled, which is a shame but I can understand why. (Strange things are happening on the site!!). I am backing away, but to all of you who posted so many good reviews and suggestions, I wish you great books and many happy reading hours.

Posted by: cynthia | July 31st, 2010

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Thank you, Cynthia. And thanks for your input and Book Discussion Club leadership. We'll miss you and hope you'll drop by from time to time? There may be more discussion during the winter months. I haven't been reading much myself, except AMS books in an effort to catch up before the launch of Corduroy Mansions. I've read all the Botswana series, except one, I think, all the Isabel Dalhousie series and I'm presently reading "The Unbearable Lightness of Scones," which may or may not be the last of the Scotland Street series. I'm not sure if "The Importance of Being Seven" is out yet.
My book group doesn't meet in the summer so nothing to report there.
I'll try to get in touch with The Powers That Be with a view to cleaning up the site, which appears to have been invaded by aliens.
All good wishes. Enjoy the summer.

Posted by: Wendy | August 2nd, 2010

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I have just finished reading " The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley -- and loved it. Flavia de Luce, the main character, is an eleven-year-old chemistry whiz (poison is her passion), who sets about solving the mystery of the man she happens to find dying in the cucumber patch -- a precocious Sherlock Holmes/Miss Marple pre-teen sleuth. Far from being horrified, lonely, bored Flavia thinks finding him is by far the most interesting thing that has ever happened to her The book's strong, lively plot includes philately, ornithology, prestidigitation and, of course, chemistry. I would recommend it to anyone who is curious about the contents of Mrs Mullet's custard pie, and who enjoys a sweet, entertaining read.

Posted by: Wendy | October 9th, 2010

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I'm new to the group, but would like to ask if anyone has read a Barbara Pym book. About life in an English village, with the parish church and parishioners lives the focal point. Very light reading, some set during and after WW11. After "Quartet in Autumn" I got hooked and have read them all.

Posted by: Meg Evans | November 3rd, 2010

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Welcome, Meg. I think the group had a summer vacation from reading, as we haven't had anyone posting for awhile.

No, I haven't read anything by Barbara Pym, but as I grew up in England during and after WW11, I think I would find her books interesting reading. I'll add her to my list. Thanks for joining us.

Posted by: Wendy | November 4th, 2010

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I enjoyed reading your posts and jotted down some titles for the library. Would it be improper for me to mention a book I just published as a 60-year-old retired criminologist?

Posted by: Christina Johns | November 5th, 2010

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"The Jade Peony" by Wayson Choy. Set in Chinatown, Vancouver it is the story of a family of Chinese immigrants, set in the 1930s and 40s. A sensitive story, told from the view point of three young children who, depending on age and sex, see the world through very different childhood experiences.

Posted by: wendy | November 9th, 2010

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Following is a list of the 10 best first lines from novels as decided by the American Book Review, a nonprofit journal published at the Unit for Contemporary Literature at Illinois State University

1. Call me Ishmael.

2. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

3. A screaming comes across the sky.

4. Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.

5. Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. - Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (1955)

6. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

7. riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs

8. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

9. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair

10. I am an invisible man.

I thought I would share this with you (from famous novels) - first lines to catch a reader's interest, dont you think?

Posted by: cynthia | November 14th, 2010

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Interesting, Cynthia. Some are familiar; some not. First lines are important, not only for for grabbing the reader's attention, but for setting the tone of the book.

Good to see you here again. Hope you're going to stay.

Posted by: Wendy | November 14th, 2010

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Hi, Wendy. Good to know you are keeping up the good work. It's been a busy, busy summer including an address move and I have finally found where I packed those books to be read. Perfect weather for curling up with a book, a glass of wine ....
Meg, I remember reading Barbara Pym many years ago - thanks for the reminder. Will look for a title at the library.
Christina - no, it's quite proper for you to mention your book and please tell us more. As a criminologist- that- was, you should have lots of interesting stories to tell - is your book an autobio? Where can we find it to read?

Posted by: cynthia | November 24th, 2010

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I have just finished reading the first book Alexander McCall Smith's Portugese Irregular Verb series. It is cleverly written and humourous, as are all AMS books, but it had none of the warmth and colour of the Botswana series, or the strong characters of Isabel Dalhousie and the Scotland Street. I will read the other two books in the series, but so far I like the PIV series the least.

Posted by: Wendy | December 13th, 2010

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I have just finished reading Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom. It is a moving story of a student re-united with his college professor, when the latter is dying. I saw the movie and the play years ago, but like the book much better. One feels involved, at Morrie's bedside, part of the story. Also, one can read and consider Morrie's wise aphorisms at leisure; I don't remember hearing them in the play or movie, although no doubt they were there. It is a book of love and compassion, courage, clarity and wisdom, I couldn't put it down.

Posted by: Wendy | December 30th, 2010

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Hooked by Mitch Albom's style after reading Tuesdays with Morrie, I read another of his books--For One More Day, and I liked it even better. It's a ghost story, with a difference. A story about a washed-up, down-and-out baseball player, who messes up even his attempt at suicide. He started unravelling the day his mom died (he botched that too) and he wishes he had just one more day with her. It's a skillfully told tale about damaged relationships, love and forgiveness.

Posted by: Wendy | January 8th, 2011

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Hi Wendy,One more day was made into a movie also.I think you would like his Have A Little Faith and The 5 People That You Meet In Heaven

Posted by: Audrey | January 14th, 2011

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Thanks, Audrey,

I have The Five People...on order at the library. I will add Have a Little Faith to my list.

Posted by: Wendy | January 15th, 2011

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I have just come across "Book Essays" under 'Other' and am so glad you brought up the spam etc. problem, Audrey, and as an entry separate from the Book Club. Shayna is doing a great job.
And you have hung on, Wendy. I missed our discussions and want to resuscitate our Club so let's give it a go, old members and new. There are well over 3,000 folk reading the posts in this forum so let's hear from anyone out there: what have you read or are reading, what books did you enjoy or not? Just type in author/title and join in a discussion or start one.
Howdy 'old' members. I am looking forward to hearing from you all. I am now reading a popular book, The Book of Negroes and find it very interesting. However, I might be enjoying it more had I not already read the fascinating history of the slave trade, Bury the Chains. Well worth reading before or after reading The BofN. Has anyone read either of these books? Or any other about the slave trade, fic or nf?

Posted by: cynthia | January 25th, 2011

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Good idea, Cynthia. I have missed our Book Club, too, so thank you for offering to resuscitate it. With input from everyone and a little TCL, it will be up and running and as good as new,

I enjoyed The Book Of Negroes, which I read about a year ago. I have other books by Lawrence Hill, who I think is an excellent writer, on my reading list, and also Bury the Chains.

I am presently reading The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. It's interesting and very different, told in 1st person throughout, in the voice of an English butler. I'm only half way through. Will let you know what I think when I'm done.

Also just read another Alexander McCall Smith book -- The Charming Quirks of Others. Entertaining, as always, although in this novel Isabel Dalhousie's red herrings are more like smoked kippers!

Posted by: Wendy | January 27th, 2011

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Wendy, I read The Remains of the Day some time ago and enjoyed it very much - it was fun to read then and I would like to read it again. There was a movie too, very good, with ????? (that English actor who was 'Hannibal' - it is scarey what my brain remembers and what it cannot) who played the butler. I tried other books by Ishiguro but they did not match The Remains..
I am going to write something controversal now: I must be the only reader in the Universe who cannot get into the McCall Smith books (Oh, Wendy - what have I said!) Though I have tried so many of them, I could only get as far as chap 3 or so, though I did progress with the one I received for Xmas. I find the characters interesting and the stories very descriptive but I guess it is the pace that loses me. Perhaps I am looking for action? My daughter tells me "It is Africa dummy (my choice of words) where the pace is slow". Please enlighten me, fans of AMcCS.

Posted by: cynthia | January 27th, 2011

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As one fan of AMS, I would say that pace is the very reason why I like him. He's sort of an antidote to the rush and push of everyday living. No murder or mayhem in his books. No sex or violence. For me, it's the interesting cast of characters acting out their everyday lives at a leisurely pace; stories of people and their foibles, their culture and customs, told with humour, kindness, and "ethics" (Isabel Dalhousie). Perhaps his appeal is that one feels reassured that there is still much goodness in the world, despite its apparent chaos.

Posted by: Wendy | January 28th, 2011

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Wendy, you encouraged me to look into AMS's books with a less jaundiced mind! I have to say his descriptions are so clear, so well written, that I can picture Precious and the surroundings. In fact this weekend in Van I described what I can see of her to my daughter (a great fan) and she had the same Precious in her mind. The Portuguese Irregular Verbs series was recommended to me and I have a copy to read. Did you, and other fans, know there is a new series set in London, "Corduroy Mansions"? Ian Rankin is one of my favourite mystery writers and he, Irvine Welsh and AMS joined forces to write "One City", short stories about their city, Edinburgh. You see, I have done some homework. Watch this space .... I am sure I will become a fan of AMS.

Posted by: cynthia | February 1st, 2011

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As I wrote in a previous post, I believe the "Bestseller List of Books" published in the media means just that: the bookstore's best sellers, not necessarily the best written or popular books. Having said that, here is MacLean's Best Seller List for January:
FICTION. Some well-known authors and their new books.
Room by Emma Donoghue; Dead or Alive by Tom Clancy; The Girl who kicked the hornets' nest by Stieg Larsson; Our kind of traitor by John le Carre; Freedom by Jonathan Franzen; Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan; Fall of Giants by Ken Follett; Luka and the fire of life by Salman Rushdie; The help by Kathryhn Stockett; Nemesis by Philip Roth.
NON FICTION. Many recognisable names here.
Atlantic by Simon Winchester; At Home by (laugh a minute) Bill Bryson; Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff; The civil war of 1812 by Alan Taylor; Life by Keith Richards (remember him?); Squirrel seeks chipmunk (an adult book, really, and lovely sketches) by David Sedaris; The paper garden by Molly Peacock; Must you go? by Antonia Fraser; As Always, Julia - ed.Joan Reardon; Hero (Lawrence of Arabia bio) by Michael Korda.

Posted by: cynthia | February 1st, 2011

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So glad to hear you're on your way to becoming a AMS fan, Cynthia. We recently borrowed the #1 Ladies Detective Agency TV series from the library. Set in Botswana, the scenery was stunning. Jill Scott was fabulous as Precious and the supporting cast amazing. The DVD also showed AMS on location with the movie crew and gave a little of his background.

I went to hear AMS speak when he was in Vancouver (September, I think), and he was just as entertaining as in his books. St. Andrew's Wesley church was packed; there must have been at least 500 people. There, I not only heard about "Corduroy Mansions," I bought a signed copy and spoke for a moment with AMS himself. There is also another book in the Scotland Street series coming out in Jan 2012 -- "The Importance of Being Seven." But I hadn't heard about "One City." I absolutely have to read that one.

I have just finished reading "The Remains of the Day" by Kazuo Ishiguro and really liked it. Amazing how the author maintained the measured pace and tone of the book throughout. One could almost see Steven's as the dignified English gentleman's butler, and hear his polite, carefully enunciated speech.

Thanks for posting the Bestseller List.

Posted by: Wendy | February 1st, 2011

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Thank you Wendy. Meeting an author face to face must be the cherry on top of the pie! And especially when one enjoys his/her books so much.
John Grisham is an interesting man and has written some great legal thrillers. Before becoming a writer he had practiced law for a decade and had also won election as a Democrat in Mississippi State. In 2007 a libel suit was filed against him claiming that the plaintiffs had been libelled in his non-fiction book, The Innocent Man. The case was dismissed.
In his latest book, The Confession, he again reveals his strong anti-death penalty convictions although this book is a novel. A 19-year old is found guilty of murder and the trial makes a mockery of the justice system. He has been on death row for eight years and then four days before his execution the real killer wants to confess. In three days of last-minute acts, Attorneys fight to convince lawyers and judges that they are about to execute an innocent man. Lots of tension in this book, and one has to remember that there have been too many innocent men incarcerated for years for crimes they did not commit. Others have been executed.

Posted by: cynthia | February 6th, 2011

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I like John Grisham, but have not read many of his books, Cynthia. Three or four perhaps, but "The Firm" was the most exciting, fastest moving book I have ever read; a real nail-biter. Jodi Picoult's book "A Change of Heart" has a similar theme to "The Confession," with Maggie, a civil liberties attorney, trying to change a death row hanging to death by lethal injection.

I am reading Yann Martel's "Self" at the moment, but am finding it less than riveting. I loved "Life of Pi" and "The Facts behind the Helsinki Roccamatios" and other short stories. Although the book "Self" is well written, so far it hasn't grabbed me. I can take it or leave it.

Posted by: Wendy | February 6th, 2011

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Julie, back in Oct 2009, mentioned the My Friends series by Scottish writer Jane Duncan as her favourite books, then out of print. You may be interested to know that the first, My Friends the Miss Boyds, set on the Black Isle near Inverness in 1918, was republished in 2010, to mark the centenary of the author's birth, and a new edition of My Friend Monica will come out in summer 2011.

Posted by: Vivien Cripps | February 11th, 2011

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Hello Vivien. Good news for Julie and I hope she will be back here again soon.
Wendy, I too enjoyed Life of Pi, so different, but have not read any of his other books.
Our Kind of Traitor by John leCarre is about a young English couple who become pawns in a game between the Russian Mafia and the British Secret Service. Lots of ingrigue and many, many flashbacks in this complex story. Reading it is like playing chess and doing a crossword at the same time. By the dialogue I can clearly visualise the character of a player in the story, one of whom is "going to save the world before he leaves it if it kills him". The book is very leCarre and, as always, a great read.
These are books recommended to me that I hope to read, and I wonder if anyone has read or has any reviews about them:
Avi Steinberg's Running the Books - which is the memoir of a prison librarian. This could be quite revealing.
Peter Godwin's The Fear. I have read his previous books about Zimbabwe and his recollections. Grim true stories but well worth reading.
Any book by Colm Toibin. I am not familiar with this author.
Linda Barry's One Hundred Demons.

Suggestions anyone? What are you reading?

Posted by: cynthia | February 13th, 2011

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Hi Everyone, Glad to see recent posts. I have just started reading Ian Rankin's The Falls and ( nonfiction) Thrive- Finding Happiness the Blue Zone Ways by Dan Buettner. I recently finished Miss Chopsticks by Xinran, a nonfiction story of 3 rural Chinese girls moving to the city to find new opportunities in the new China which I found very interesting. I recently started reading Daniel Kalla, a Canadian author and Vancouver doctor. His novel Cold Plague deals with the finding of a under the ice lake. He writes Medical suspence novels. I just read in the newspaper that an under the ice lake has been discovered in the south pole regions. Other books of his I have read are Pandemic and Resistance. I find his books fast-paced, riveting, and a little frightening as you can't help wondering if it could really happen. Vivian

Posted by: Vivian | February 17th, 2011

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Welcome, Vivian. Glad to have you with us again. I have never heard of Daniel Kalla, but his books sound interesting. I'll add his name to my reading list. Also, Miss Chopsticks. I have read several books about Chinese girls in Canada, but not in New China.

I have just started to read Mitch Albom's "The Five People You Meet in Heaven. Like all his books, it has a very different story line, but I'm enjoying it so far.

I went to a Book Discussion group at the library today. About a dozen people attended and we talked about Kazuo Ishiguro's book " The Remains of the Day." Surprisingly, everybody loved the book. We rarely have a book that everyone likes. Some said it was the best book we have ever read and rated it a 10 on a scale of 1-10. For those who haven't read it, it's about a staid, ultra-conservative English butler who takes his job very seriously. It's written in a measured, unhurried, unemotional pace and tone. No action to speak of, no plot, no sex, no violence, just the story of one man's life. But everyone agreed it was a riveting read. Ishiguro did an amazing job of keeping the reader's attention from the first to the last page.

Posted by: Wendy | February 17th, 2011

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Good to hear from you Vivian and you mention some authors I dont know, except Daniel Kalla - I read something about him quite a while ago but have not read any of his books. Must do that soon. I do like Ian Rankin. Have you seen the tv series "Rebus" based on his books?
Wendy, how interesting to read about your book group's ranking of Remains. I would agree. This was his 3rd book and was very popular some years ago and the movie (Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson) was nominated for 8 Academy Awards. Never Let Me Go was also made into a film. I had to do some research into this author: he was born in Nagasake in 1954 and was 6 when his family moved to England. As an adult he got his UK citizenship and attended Uni. He is married to an English woman and has 2 children. His novels are written in the first person and they usually end with no resolution, like 'Remains ..' And there you have it. When I read 'Remains ..' I remember thinking that this author (thinking then that he was Japanese) well knows his British upstairs/downstairs.

Posted by: cynthia | February 19th, 2011

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Hello all book lovers. Sometime last year we discussed the E-book Kindle and did not all agree on the need for it. I was one of those. However I am now having second thoughts, especially as I am snowbound, short of reading matter and building up fines for overdue books. My considered cons re E-books? Having to buy them, albeit the low price, and not being able to add them to one's own bookshelf or loan to friends. The pros? Not being, for instance, 144 on the Library reserve list and then having to read and return the book within two weeks or mounting fines; being able to obtain and read books (including brand new ones) whenever and wherever one wants, viz., availability. There are now many E-books, apparently the most popular being Kobo, Kindle and Sony ( Kindle has newspapers and magazines too). The Public Library now has E-books on loan, mostly classics, but 3week loans and $5 fines for overdues.
Tell me more. Has anyone tried E-books? I look forward to any comments, recommendations from E-book readers, and those who might be contemplating venturing into these/wont touch them with a 5-foot pole.

Posted by: cynthia | February 26th, 2011

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I have just read Mitch Albom's book The Five People You Meet in Heaven. It provides an interesting look at what a different kind of heaven might be like. Sensitively written, it follows Eddie, just an ordinary guy, after his death in an amusement park accident. I liked the book; Albom points out the value of every person, regardless of their seemingly empty lives.

As yet I do not have any experience with E-books, Cynthia.

Posted by: Wendy | February 26th, 2011

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I was browsing a 2nd hand bookstore, Wendy,and found "The Five People..." which I will read next. It sounds like a good read. I am now reading "The Silk Road" by Sven Hedin about his ten thousand miles motorized expedition through central Asia in 1933. In that bookstore I saw, but did not buy, a fascinating book I read many years ago, which would interest readers who like travel/history: "In search of Genghis Khan" by Tim Severin, who has written many great travel books. This book about Genghis Khan tells the story of the brutal Mongol conquests from Mongolia through Asia and as far as Europe. Then, surprisingly, the hoards on their horses suddenly packed up and returned to their own country. What would the world be like had they continued their conquests - but could the English Channel have stopped them? Severin's book is a fascinating read, very descriptive of the country and its people and of the history. I can still hear the sound of hundreds and hundreds of horses pounding towards a village or town while terrified townspeople ran for cover to hide from the oncoming Mongolians, whose conquests and massacres were brutal, and are now considered to be the bloodiest in human history.

Posted by: cynthia | March 6th, 2011

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This week's Globe & Mail's Bestsellers (I am just listing the first four in each category):
FICTION
Sing you Home by Jodi Picouolt
Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya
The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
Room by Emma Donoghue
NON-FICTION
Little Princes by Conor Grennan
The King's Speech by Mark Logue
Justin Bieber by Justin Bieber
Life by Keith Richards

Posted by: cynthia | March 14th, 2011

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Two books you might like to read before they are released as movies (or perhaps you would prefer to see the movie first):
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. (starring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon). I loved this book about a young man about to graduate as a vet who finds himself broke and disinherited. By accident he finds himself on a circus train and gets involved with Rosie, an untrainable elephant, lovely Marlena and her brutal husband and other circus personnel and animals of the circus. Love, murder, intrigue! And a Canadian author.
The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connolly (starring Matthew McConaughey). This is a mystery about a slick and semi-shady attorney who conducts his business from his Lincoln car. Michael Connolly writes good, edge-of-your-chair mysteries worth reading.

Posted by: cynthia | March 14th, 2011

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I have just finished reading Gail Parkin's, Baking Cakes in Kigali. Set in Rwanda, the story centres around Angel, who not only bakes delicious cakes for all occasions, but hears the stories and secrets of her clients. In helping her friends, Angel finds the courage to face up to the sadness in her own life. Lighthearted in tone, the book describes the harshness of life in Africa as the country and its people struggle to cope with the devastation caused by Aids/HIV.

Posted by: Wendy | March 19th, 2011

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The Bishop's Man by Linden MacIntyre. The Globe and Mail says about this book "Engrossing...a serious examination of the theme [the sexual abuse of children] with the page turning energy of a thriller." Father Duncan is a Catholic priest, a good man struggling to find meaning his life. He hates his job as the bishop's Exorcist, the Purificator, sent to eliminate child abusers and perverts from the priestly ranks. Events veer out of control as he tries to deal with community, his own and his family's painful memories, obsessions and guilt.

Well written, with brilliant imagery. Dialogue [down home Cape Breton, between clergy, and Father Duncan's own careful, practiced responses] is spot-on. I found the book disturbing, joyless, but I couldn't put it down.

Posted by: Wendy | March 30th, 2011

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The subject matter does sound disturbing, Wendy, but when a book is well written, as I have heard this one is and you confirm that, it is well worth reading. It was on the G&M Best Seller List. As you know, Linden MacIntyre is host of the CBC programme W5 and they delve into some serious subjects.
I am reading The Confession by John Grisham which, like many of his books, covers a subject he believes in passionately: the fate of 'blacks' in the US criminal system. This book could easily be a true story. Readers might find it sad and disturbing but would want to follow the story to the very end to know if the innocent youth is saved from the death penalty by the last minute confession of the dying murderer. Grisham gives a sad and horrific inditement of the Texas justice system.

Posted by: cynthia | April 1st, 2011

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There are many readers who are fans of Bill Bryson and might wonder if he will be writing another of his hilarious travel tales. This is part of an interview with Time Magazine when asked if he had moved past the category of 'travel writer':
"Not necessarily. The one country I would love to do is Canada. I love that when you open a weather map in an American newspaper, above the U.S. there's just a blank grayness. I find the way we kind of ignore Canada fascinating",
In his latest book "At Home: A Short History of Private Life" Bryson goes on an historical journey around his house, built in 1851.

Posted by: cynthia | April 3rd, 2011

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Has anyone read The Language of God, by Francis Collins, the rebuttal to the two atheist Books, i.e. Christoper Hitchens et al. I would like your opinions about both books.

Posted by: Meg | April 25th, 2011

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Sorry, I haven't read "The Language of God", Meg, but I'll add it to my reading list.

Cynthia, I just finished reading, "Water for Elephants" and loved it. Thank you. Good timing -- the movie is in theatres now and I'm hoping to go see it Thursday night. I prefer to read a book first and see the movie later. Books include so much more detail and one can then make the judgement call as to how closely the movie makers followed what was written in the book.

Posted by: Wendy | April 27th, 2011

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Wendy, did you enjoy the movie "Water for Elephants"? How do you feel about it compared to the book? I really enjoyed the book so am not inclined to see the movie. I feel the same about the movie of the book "The Lincoln Lawyer".
Has anyone else read either of these books?

Posted by: cynthia | May 12th, 2011

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Cynthia, in the movie "Water for Elephants" two of the main male characters were made into one, which meant some scenes and action were left out. It did not affect the storyline too much, but I thought the book way better.

I haven't read the "Lincoln Lawyer" yet. I am currantly reading "The Cellist of Sarajevo," written by Steven Galloway, who lives in New Westminster. A chilling read about conditions in war-torn Sarajevo, but I'm only halfway through so haven't yet formed an opinion about it.

Posted by: Wendy | May 12th, 2011

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Like more online book discussions? Browse these:


SeniorNet
SeniorNet Books, the internet's oldest continuing books discussion site, features a wide range of book discussions. The participation of notable authors in discussions of their books and SeniorNet's own Readers' Guides of books discussed have been hallmarks of this site.
Utne Reader's Book Club
The Utne Reader, a bi-monthly magazine consisting primarily of compilations from the "alternative press," has message board discussions about books. You need to be a member of the parent site to participate in discussions (books or otherwise), but registration is free.
Salon.com Table Talk - Books
Salon has gotten quite a name for itself as an online magazine. There are ample opportunities to discuss books in their Table Talk area (monthly fee required for posting access to Table Talk; reading posts is free).
Reader's Paradise Forum
Described as a forum "for the discussion of all topics related to reading and literature," this site has an eclectic and eccentric charm.
Constant Reader Message Board
Constant Reader has a large message board system discussing a wide variety of books. Readers also have the option of participating via email.
Shakespeare High Cafeteria
This online discussion forum is part of a site called "Surfing with the Bard," a website dedicated to helping readers understand and appreciate the works of Shakespeare.
BookWire Discussion Forum
BookWire is a resource for information related to the book industry, and the forum section of their website includes a place for general book discussions.

Posted by: cynthia | May 16th, 2011

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And also worth browsing:
:
LibraryThing

Posted by: cynthia | May 16th, 2011

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Thanks for posting the online book discussions list, Cynthia. I dropped out of one online group a week or so ago, so your list is well timed. I printed it out so I'd have it for future referance if I decide to join another.

"The Cellist of Sarajevo" was very well written. A sad and very visual commentary on the terrible destruction of war and its effects on people, ordinary people, who try to maintain a sense of normalcy amid the chaos. It speaks to the courage and resilience of the human spirit.

Posted by: Wendy | May 19th, 2011

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Hi there! I saw that this discussion and thought it might interest you to check out Penn State's Conversation with Alexander McCall Smith. He talks about his personal relations to his writings as well how his fans react. You can check it out here : http://youtu.be/UeSllEZjcnE

Thanks!

Posted by: Johnny | May 25th, 2011

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Many thanks for the link, Johnny. AMS is as knowledgeable and entertaining a speaker as he is a writer. The Penn State Conversation is particularly informative. How did you hear about it? Are you a student at Penn Uni? I am looking forward to reading AMSs most recently released book in the Botswana series (the only one I haven't yet read) and had planned to reserve a copy at the library -- until I heard I would be about the 360th on the list.

Posted by: Wendy | May 26th, 2011

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A little late Meg (from April ), just read comments. Yes I too have read both Hitchens, and Collins. I think Francis Collins presents an unbiased view of both religion and Science. Whereas Hitchens although presenting a valid viewpoint about religions, omalso comes through as an angry man regarding the possiblility of a God. I do feel sorry for him, especially now when he is suffering from cancer. A faith may help him through his present turmoil, whether believers are right or wrong. I am now reading a wonderful book by Hugh Ross, who juxtaposes scientific discoveries with the bible. The most intelligent expose I have ever read on this subject.

Posted by: Meg Williams | June 18th, 2011

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Interesting subject to read about, Meg, and sad about Hichens' health.
Those readers who are interested in travel books, as I am, and would like to read a book on Irish history mixed with the misadventures of a Canadian hiker, do read Beyond Belfast by Will Ferguson. The history, especially the modern, will horrify you and Ferguson's adventures along the 500 miles around Northern Ireland will keep you in stitches. A Canadian with a wonderful sense of humour, especially when he is MAD.

Posted by: cynthia | June 20th, 2011

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I am currently reading "The Girl Who Married a Lion and Other Stories" by Alexander McCall Smith. And I have just finished his "The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party." When I have finished "The Girl Who Married... I will have read all 30 of AMS's books. Also, after reading Sara Gruen's "Water for Elephants" a month or two ago, I found and bought a copy of her "Riding Lessons" for $2 in a library sale. I finished it, and am now reading her book "Ape House" (borrowed from the library). A Book Discussion group choice, I also read and enjoyed "A Cure for Death by Lighting," a coming of age book, by by Canadian author Gail Anderson-Dargatz, set right here in B.C. during WWll. Next on my list is Jean M. Auel's "The Land of Painted Caves," the last in her Earth's Children series. It's a big book, over 700 pages, so will make perfect summer reading. In early June, I was fortunate to be in Oregon in when Jean was giving a talk and doing a book signing ("Painted Caves" was just released at the end of March). Unfortunately, the bookseller who sponsored the event ran out of books so I was disappointed not to get a signed copy, however, by a stroke of good fortune I met and had a chat with Jean and her husband, Ray, while dining at a nearby restaurant. Jean is so knowledgeable, a kind and gracious lady; the chance meeting more than made up for my disappointment about the signed copy.

Posted by: Wendy | June 24th, 2011

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Cynthia: I am shortly having a book published on a young girl's indentured servitude in the Ireland of the early 20th century. I shall let you know when it is published. You may enjoy it if you like Irish history. Although perhaps you are more interested in the present Ireland.

Posted by: Meg Williams | July 6th, 2011

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Hi Meg. Your book would definitely interest me. Do please let me know when it is published and where I can find a copy. I am always interested in history (wish I had taken more interest during my schooldays!). I have just finished reading Craig Ferguson's book on his travels in Northern Ireland and though it was mostly on his travels, and quite hilarious at times, he writes a lot about the history of the area going back some decades and also about the Troubles. Good luck with your book. Look forward to more news from you. Stay with our Book Club!

Posted by: cynthia | July 7th, 2011

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The author of the book on Ireland is, of course, Will Ferguson.
Wendy, you have read/are reading so many interesting books! And quite an experience meeting Jean Auel. Are there any of AMS' books you have not read? I really enjoyed Water for Elephants and am looking forward to reading Gruen's other books. I am now reading Man and Boy, a novel by Tony Parsons (no, not our TP) which is a mix of funny and sad about a father trying to bring up his young son when his wife leaves him.

Posted by: cynthia | July 7th, 2011

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Thanks your interest Cynthia. Publishing is a tedious process, so many edits etc. but I am getting there shortly, and will inform you as soon as it is ready for the bookshelf!

Posted by: Meg Williams | July 16th, 2011

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Good luck with the publishing process, Meg. I look forward to hearing from you again.

Posted by: cynthia | July 24th, 2011

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Just finished reading Sarah Gruen's novel, Flying Changes, a sequel to Riding Lessons, which I read earlier this year. I really like Sarah Gruen's style. Her books have humour, in her sometimes inept Bridget Jones-style protagonist, an obvious love and knowledge of horses, riding, dressage and show-jumping. And she captures perfectly the conflict between a mother and her angst-ridden teenage daughter.

Posted by: Wendy | August 19th, 2011

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Two years ago on August 26, 2009 this Book Club was born. Congratulations to us!
It is always good to see you are keeping in touch, Wendy. Where have all our original members gone? There's a song there . . .
This is not reading weather, this heat, and also I am in the midst of a tiring move to a new abode but I will be back. However, I do read these entries and look forward to lots of suggestions for future reading. So, welcome back old members and hello to new members this new year.

Posted by: cynthia | August 26th, 2011

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Two years already, Cynthia? Wow, how quickly the years fly by! Yes, congrats to us, the Book Club has generated and maintained much interest on the SL forum. Now, if only we could find those missing members...

Every year our library holds a book sale, or has a book sale table. I hadn't realized how many retired books I have bought until I started to go through them with a view to sending some to a friend in Puerto Rico, who is starting a used book donation centre. She will think I have a terrible history of not returning library books when she receives them, :-( Some are too heavy to send, but I do have a number of children's books and dictionaries and paperback novels that can go. Inevitably, in sorting through, I found some books I haven't read myself. At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks was one such book. I have read some of his books, but the last one (can't remember which one it was) I found less than riveting. I thought At First Glance might be the same, but it wasn't. It held my interest from beginning to end, and I learned about an illness I had never heard of before (I love learning new stuff), which was a bonus. Basically, it's a sweet, simple love story that, like most love stories, runs anything but smoothly.

Glad to hear you're going to stay with us, Cynthia. I hope the move goes well, and that you are soon rested up and happily settled in your new abode...with lots of time to relax and read. Hurry back!.

Posted by: Wendy | August 29th, 2011

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Sorry, I am one of the 'lost' members, due to my book coming up for publication, and illness in my family. Thxs Wendy and Cynthia for your interest, I will not forget to let you know when it is on sale. In the meantime, Did anyone read The American Prometheus? About the life of Werner Von Braun. Does any of the group read military history, in particular WW11? As a child at that time, I find the real facts behind the strategy most interesting, now that secret documents are finally revealed and made public..

Posted by: Meg | September 9th, 2011

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Good to hear from you, Meg, and I will be looking forward to news of your publication. Do keep us informed. W.V Braun had an interesting history but I have not read that book. Just the other day I read a review of a new book, Leningrad: The epic siege of World War II by Anna Reid. It is the story of how determined Soviet citizens held out against the German siege for 900 days and when some 750,000 Soviet civilians were killed. It is a horrendous story, but I would like to get the book when it is available. Another book I hope to find is : Nancy Wake, by Peter Fitzsimons. Nancy Wake, born in New Zealand, was a beautiful young saboteur and special agent who joined the French underground and, with sheer guts and courage, fought Nazis in occupied France. It is a fantastic story about this fearless young gal, named the White Mouse by the Nazis. Nancy Wake died last month, aged 98. She wrote her autiobiography, White Mouse, and a movie with that name is in the works.

Posted by: cynthia | September 12th, 2011

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Cynthia,
I am on old duffer over 90, but I do read a lot. There are two books I have read recently I feel many people will find interesting.
First: The Mind That Changes Itself by Dr. N Doidge. This a refutation of the old thinking that our minds are hard wired and cannot be able to change as we get older. Mind Plasticity is now being accepted by the top scholars or the medical profession. The book is an over view of present information up to about four years ago. It is not difficult to read for the lay person.
Second: is the The Man Who listenes to Horses, by Monty Roberts. Monty ks the man who can take a wild stallion off the range and have a saddle on him in 30 minutes and monty has not touched the animal with any sort of whipp or tool. The wild stallion will walk up to him and stand to have the saddle put on then be ridden Monty speaks the language of horses in perfectly silent way and is very good at it. It is now the way to treat animals... all animals... including humans.
Well worth reading by anyone.

Posted by: Denham Meek | October 31st, 2011

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Cynthia, thanks yr interest in my book. It is now with the publishers, so will inform you when it is completed. It will be available on Amazon and Kindle and hopefully in the bookstores. My publisher is Createspace in SCarolina. In the meantime, I must read the book about Nancy Wake. My family tease me about my avid interest in WW2 history. Is it perhaps that it has formed such an impressive part of our lives as we are the older generation.? I remember so well her name just after the WW2. Do any other members of our group have memories of growing up at that time, and how they were affected by it.? I have been fortunate in my life to have met different nationalities involved, and heard their stories, Germans, Italians, Americans and French. That piqued my interest in learning the truth of their individual experiences. . Forgive my going out on a tangent, when this is a book club, but maybe other members can suggest other books that would interest me.

Posted by: Meg | November 7th, 2011

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Oh, Denham, I am sorry I have not replied to your post before this, but welcome to the Club. Always great to find new members and I hope you will stay with us (other old duffers!). I have not read either of the books you mention but found a review on Monty Roberts' memoir, The Man Who Listens to Horses, which tells how Roberts transformed the brutal practice of horse-breaking. This book is a Must Read. Has anyone read it? I have not been able to find any information on Dr.Dodge's book but will try to find the book. I think we all have to agree with the author's belief that the mind can be active as we grow older, but one has to keep that brain exercised. Reading is one way.

Posted by: cynthia | November 9th, 2011

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Meg, congratulations and I will be looking out for your book when it gets to the stores and kindle. Let us know the title (and author if you want to mention your name here, but if not, you can be traced by the title of your book).
So very many of the older generation have tales to tell about war-time experiences and their memoirs should be published somewhere before it is too late. In too many cases their children and grands do not know, which is a shame. Many war time memoirs and biographies have been written and if anyone can recommend any, do please post your comments here. In my next postI will list some I have read and enjoyed reading,

Posted by: cynthia | November 9th, 2011

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As promised, here are some nf books on WW2, three of which were mentioned in posts last year.
Copenhagen Papers by Michel Frayn; Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer; Time Zones by Joe Schlesinger; Clara's War by Clara Kramer (survival under the Nazis); War Brides by Melynda Jarratt (lst hand accounts of British war brides around the world).
I am sure other readers can suggest other titles.

Posted by: cynthia | November 11th, 2011

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As you know, the Giller Prize was won by Esi Edugyan for her book "Half Blood Blues", the second novel by this talented young writer. It is the story of a jazz musician, a German citizen, arrested by the Nazis and never heard from again. It is (I quote) 'an entrancing, electic story about jazz, race, love and loyalty and the sacrifices we ask of ourselves . . . .'

Posted by: cynthia | November 11th, 2011

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Hello Denham. I have found a book with a similar title: The Brain that Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumphs . . . by Norman DOIDGE. Could this be the one you mentioned in your post?
The author travelled the country to meet people whose mental limitations, or brain damage, were seen as unalterable. A new science called neuroplasticity overthrows that centuries old notion. In this moving and inspiring book Dr.Doidge tells the stories of the people he meets in his research. As you say, Denham, it is not a difficult book to read for the layman. A fascinating read.

Posted by: cynthia | November 16th, 2011

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JaneZ - Your post seems to have taken a wrong turn and landed in this BOOK CLUB! Please note, all you BOOK lovers!

Posted by: cynthia | November 18th, 2011

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Thank you for the list of books about WW2, Cynthia. I have read The Guersey Literary... one and will add the others to my reading list.

Four books read recently: Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. A good read. In Picoult's well researched style, the book is based on the Columbine and other U.S. high school shootings, and addresses the issues of bullying and abuse of kids that don't fit in.

The Mermaid Chair by Sue Mon Kidd. Different and rather gruesome (one character cutting off her own fingers), it is a coming of middle-age story of love and redemption.

ThE HELP by Kathryn Stockett. Offering the point of view and voice of coloured people employed by whites in U.S. south. An informative and well written book.

Under My Skin by Sarah Dunant. Although a fast-moving, who-done-it mystery, the book is a must read for anyone considering cosmetic reconstructive surgery.

Posted by: Wendy | November 19th, 2011

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Thanks, Wendy, for the book suggestions. I have not read any of those. It is always interesting to know something about the author when I read a book, so I looked up info on these authors:
Jodi Picoult is from Long Island, born 1966, and describes her family as "non practising Jewish". She is married and has three children. Many of her books have been on the New York Times Best Seller List.
Sue Monk Kidd, born Georgia in 1948, is currently the writer in residence at Phoebe Pember House in Charleston. She started her career in nursing. The Secret Life of Bees was also on stage and a movie as was Mermaid Chair. Travelling with Pomegranates, a travel memoir, was co-authored with her daughter.
Kathryn Stockett, born 1969 in Mississippi, divorced with one child, was raised by an African-American domestic worker in lieu of an absentee mother. Her book This Life, is about her childhood in the Deep South.
Sarah Dunant, born Linda Dunant in 1950 in London U.K., is a journalist and critic. She has worked in theatre, radio and tv and hosted many BBC shows. She writes detective fiction to historical thrillers and created the private detective Hannah Wolfe who is featured in some of her crime series.

Posted by: cynthia | November 25th, 2011

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Interesting info about the authors, Cynthia. Thank you. Another book that might interest you is Matthew Kneale's, "When We Were Romans." (remember Kneale wrote the rollicking seafaring tale, "The English Passengers"?) "When We Were Romans" is very different. It's told throughout in the voice of a nine-year-old boy as he tries to take care of his mom, his little sister and his hamster, while trying to figure out what the heck's happening in the crazy break-up of his family. An interesting and somewhat scary point of view about the loss of innocence.

Posted by: Wendy | November 27th, 2011

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Wendy, the Kneale book you mention sounds intriguing and I will try to get it. I remember you mentioning the English Passengers by the same author, which you so enjoyed.

Here are some of the books mentioned in the Economist Magazine's "Books of the Year" (it is a long list and I am just mentioning a few).
NON-FICTION
Pakistan: A Hard Country by Anatol Lieven. The author travelled through Pakistan talking to generals, shopkeepers, farmers etc. "The book captures all the drama and colour of this complex Muslim nation".
Hemingway's Boat: Everything He Loved in Life and Lost by Paul Hendrickson. "The author, an accomplished storyteller, interprets myriad tiny details of Hemingway's life and through them says something new about a writer everyone thinks they know".
Blue Nights by Joan Didion. A memoir about her hard life, the sudden death of her husband followed by the death of her only daughter. "This is a beautiful book, tragic and profound".
Ghosts by Daylight: A Memoir of Love, War and Redemption by Janine di Giovanni. "A beautifully written memoir .. about the pain of adjusting to normal life after being exposed to the intensity of battle".
The Sugar Barons: Family, Corruption, Empire and War in the West Indies by Matthew Parker. "A tale of wealth, bravery and debauchery and how the foundations of the modern globalised world were made of sugar".
Is That a Fish in Your Ear? Translation and the Meaning of Everything by David Bellos. "A wonderful, witty book about words, language and cultural anthropology".
FICTION
Other People's Money by Justin Cartwright. The author "casts a sharp outsider's eye on the City of London and its shennanigans. A novel that is both funny and wise".
The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje. "A personal story of dislocation ... by this Canadian novelist ... superbly poised between the magic of innocence and the melancholy of experience".
The Afrika Reich by Guy Saville. "A rich and unusual what-if historical thriller that is politically sophisticated and hard to forget.
Snowdrops by A.D.Miller (shortlisted for the 2011 Man Booker prize). This is an "amorality tale that unfolds during a Russian winter".

Posted by: cynthia | December 15th, 2011

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To all of you Book Club members, whether old or new, past or present, those who have posted comments, suggestions and reviews and those who have just dropped by to read, I wish you all a very merry Ho Ho. May all your Santas bring you those books you have asked for or wished for. For the coming new year, I wish you an abundance of time to enjoy all those books and all the others that came as a surprise.

Posted by: cynthia | December 15th, 2011

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Thanks, Cynthia, and all good wishes to you too.

My Christmas Poem for 2011

"Silent Night "

As we celebrate Christmas
And ring in the New Year,
I'm quite deaf in one ear --
With the other, can't hear.
Can't hear choirs singing,
Only ears, not bells, ringing.
My thoughts are befuddled,
My brain is all muddled --
Feel ill with a bad case of flu.
Tho' I'm coughing and wheezing,
Sniffling and sneezing
I wish Berry Christmas to you.

Happy reading for 2012. I just read The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold. It's a startling book true to Alice Sebold's style, a daring and deeply moving exploration of the ties that bind us all.
The opening sentence reads," When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily."

Posted by: Wendy | December 24th, 2011

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Thxs Cynthia for your xmas whises, and the same to you and all our group. Yes, I shall inform you re my own novel as soon as the publishing is finished. Hapy New year to everyone.

Posted by: Meg Williams | December 27th, 2011

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Happy, healthy and peaceful 2012 to all Book Club readers.
I hope you will ALL be back here, this 3rd year of the B.C., with book news - what are you reading/have read/recommend etc.? I am looking forward to getting posts on this forum and exchanging reviews and recommendations.

Posted by: cynthia | January 11th, 2012

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hELLO AGAIN. I am now re-reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I find it is now so much nearer to reality than when it was written in 1932. How did that author know what lay in the future? In particular the use of the petri dish for embryos which is in use today. I am happy to have lived in the 20th century as the future disturbs me! Anyone else feel the same way?

Posted by: Meg Williams | January 29th, 2012

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Thanks for your input, Meg.
Interesting novel but it also gives a scary vision of the future. Huxley died of cancer in 1963, aged 69. He lost most of his eyesight in his teens after an illness but got some of it back, which he attributed to living in the States as an adult. It is believed that Brave New World, published in 1932 and set in London of 2540 AD (Gregorian calendar), was inspired by Orwell’s 1984 and Wells’ Men Like Gods. Must have been a frightening novel to read when it was published and it was actually banned in some countries. A movie of his novel came out in 1980.
Meg, you might like to follow up with: Brave New World Revisited. In this, Huxley’s non-fiction, he concludes that the world was becoming more like Brave New World much faster than he thought. (Not the frightening parts, I hope!)

Posted by: cynthia | January 31st, 2012

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How nice to find a site to discuss my favorite hobby-reading. I'm now in the middle of "Freedom" by Jonathan Franzen, and have restarted-after many attempts in the past-James Joyces "Ulyssess" now that there are so many sights to help explain the difficult parts I might actually get through it.

Posted by: Geraldine Zaccaro | February 3rd, 2012

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Welcome to our Book Club, Geraldine. We will look forward to suggestions from you to add to our Must Read Lists! Franzen's book has had good reviews but I have not read it. Did you enjoy it? It seems to be quite a tome. James Joyce's books are always worth re-reading but not on holiday on the beach!
"Let the Great World Spin" by Colum McCann is a very well crafted book and difficult to put down. These are short stories all beautifully woven together so that a character in one story turns up in another story. It has been hailed as an American masterpiece.
One of the stories, about a tightrope walker who walks the "rope" between the Twin Towers in 1974 and causes a media sensation, struck a cord. I faintly remembered something about that so googled and foound the true story of the French man, Philippe Petit. This high-wire artist walked between the Towers, high above cheering and awestruck crowds below, taunting the police and helicopters trying to pluck him away ........ but you should read the bio of this amazing, fun loving and daring man in Wikipedia. I am sure he gave God good belly laughs because Philippe Petit is still very much alive.

Posted by: cynthia | February 4th, 2012

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A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books
by Nicholas A. Basbanes

"The passion to possess books has never been more widespread than it is today; indeed, obsessive book collecting remains the only hobby to have a disease named after it. A Gentle Madness, finalist for the 1995 National Book Critics Circle award, is an adventure among the afflicted. Richly anecdotal and fully documented, it combines the perspective of historical research with the immediacy of investigative journalism. Above all, it is a celebration of books and the people who have revered, gathered, and preserved them over the centuries."

Posted by: cynthia | February 15th, 2012

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Thanks, Cynthia. Being one of the afflicted, I have added A Gentle Madness to my must-read list.

Young and naive Bob Dollar is sent to the Texas panhandle by his boss, Ribeye Cluke, to scope out hog farm sites for corporate Global Pork Rind. Bob's a sweet and lovable guy trying to please the boss, but finding properties with pork potential is easier said than done. Old but savvy farmers are not going to part with their land that easily, troublesome tho' it may be. A whiz with words, Annie Proulx provides a colourful history of the panhandle and it's equally colourful characters in That Old Ace in the Hole. To follow Bob's hog-farm adventures mosey on down to Texas. But don't forget to take a hankerchief to cover your nose, the smell is appalling.

Posted by: Wendy | February 17th, 2012

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I have read only one of Annie Proulx' books (Shipping News) which I enjoyed. That Old Ace in the Hole will be my second. Thanks, Wendy.


Who has not heard of Michael Moore? Oscar-winning filmmaker, best selling author and provocateur? He has published his autobiography: Here Comes Trouble: Stories from my Life. There are 24 stories from his early life, not in chronological order, stories that will surprise you about the Michael Moore many of us didn’t know. It is funny, eye-opening and moving. “I had an unusually large-sized head, though this was not uncommon for a baby in the Midwest. The craniums in our part of the country were designed to have a little extra room for the brain to grow in case one day we found ourselves exposed to something we didn’t understand, like a foreign language, or a salad.”
Reading the foreward, I was amazed to find that he had had so many death threats, so serious that he needed security guards outside the family home and wherever he went. I am enjoying reading this book. Funny in parts, serious and 'concerning' in others, and interesting vignettes on well-known people he has known - and clashed with.

Posted by: cynthia | February 21st, 2012

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I was lucky enough to find this group through Senior Living about six weeks ago, and then lost it again. It has given me a new slant on some authors I know, and offers new reading from many I don't.
It is a great forum, and when I told my 50+ daughter she was most intrigued. So I had to rediscover it. I thank all the Posters for your insights.
I read a mix of fiction and non, and compose limericks and haikus as my only writing forms. For some reason I need a definite limit to create anything.
I'll have some book comments in my next post, assuming that I can cope with an open-ended writing form.

Posted by: Geoff | March 31st, 2012

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Hello Geoff and I am sorry I have not replied and welcomed you to the Book Club. I have had some problems with my Web browser and have been trying to find a solution through Senior living Magazine. Hopefully all will be well soon and I will be able to post again without problems. This is just a test for now.

Posted by: cynthia | April 3rd, 2012

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Test

Posted by: Darryl Ring | April 3rd, 2012

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All is well again and I am glad to be back. We should not have any more problems.
Welcome again, Geoff and I do hope you will let us have your comments on your readings - what have you read lately? Perhaps your "50 year old daughter" will join us and suggest readings. This Club has been in existence for nearly 3 years and seems to be popular. Although a huge number of folk hit this forum, the number who actually post comments has dropped drastically. So, let's hear from all of you book lovers. What are you reading? What have you read? What do you recommend (or not)? In my next post I am going to chat about E-books, so get ready to join in.

Posted by: cynthia | April 4th, 2012

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Just testing -- problems with my browser, too.

Posted by: Wendy | April 4th, 2012

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Another test. With Internet Explorer this time.

Posted by: Wendy | April 4th, 2012

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Hi everybody, and welcome to the forum, Geoff.

Like you, Cynthia, I have been unable to post for awhile, but the glitch, whatever it was, appears to have been fixed.

I have just finished reading Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner. The story opens
with wheelchair-bound historian, Lyman Ward, who has lost connection with his son and living family, and who has decided to write a novel about his frontier-era grandparents. Although the book won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1972, I had mixed feelings about it at first, finding it rather slow moving for the first 100 or so pages. However, once I became accustomed to the author's wry humour, his leisurely but brilliant way of weaving the stories of four generations and three failed marriages back and forth between the difficult and painful present and the difficult and painful past, I couldn't put it down. The story is based largely on the letters of Mary Hallock Foote of Milton, New York, a talented, cultured artist and writer, and her happy/challenging//sad but colourful life as the wife of a mining engineer. Together they try to forge a life for themselves and their children in the American West during the mid 1800s,. I thought the book cleverly constructed, effectively blending history and the struggles of human endeavour, the highs and lows, successes and failures, and human emotional frailties in any era.

Have any of you read Angle of Repose? What were your thoughts about it?

Posted by: Wendy | April 4th, 2012

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Wendy, good to hear from you. Yes, it seems to have been an IE problem, but all is well now. Long may it continue.
Wallace Stegner! I haven't come across that name for years.Thanks for your very clear review of Angle of Repose. No, I have not read that one. A very long time ago I read his autobiography "Wolf Willow". He was an American historian and wrote many books about the American West, and he received many awards in his lifetime. He died in 1993, at the age of 84, of injuries from an auto accident. A big loss to the literary world.

Posted by: cynthia | April 6th, 2012

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Sometime ago in this forum we brought up the subject of E-books and at that time I was not particularly keen on this “new” technology that would replace the printed books (how can one curl up in a recliner with an e-book, a glass of wine and thou?). Last Christmas I received a fully loaded Kindle as a gift – and here are my pros and cons about that e-book, remembering that this one is an older version Kindle; with Kindle, books are bought and downloaded through Amazon, unlike the Kudo from Chapters in BC.
The FORs:
1. The type can be made as large as I find comfortable for my eyesight, a problem I have with paperbacks and magazines.
2. I can download a chapter or two as a free sample. If I decide to buy and then am disappointed in the book, it can be returned (within 7 days) and I get a refund.
3. A hardback is far cheaper than a paper version. For example, I paid $12 for an e-book. The hardcover cost $30 at Chapters.
4. I can pay subscriptions and download magazines and newspapers from around the world.
5. If I am 200 on the Library waitlist for a favourite book, I can download that book from Amazon and get it within minutes.
6. I can fit the E-Reader (with all its present downloaded 40 books) in my purse and read a book on the bus or ferry, or even in a restaurant while waiting to be served.
7. I don’t need to find a bookmark to hold my place (never would I dog-ear). The last page I was on is automatically bookmarked.
The AGAINSTs:
1. Though cheaper than new books, one can browse secondhand bookstores for cheaper ones.
2. E-books are so easy to purchase, with just a click of the mouse, so a credit card
Payment can soon mount up.
3. It is not possible to share, to loan, en e-book unless you have a shared account.
4. Graphics and formatting features are minimal, and these are essential, e.g for art books. But this might change in the future. There might even be colour one day.

There are many E-books one can download for free. These are the Classics and books that have expired copyrights. Library books can be borrowed with a Kudo (Chapters) but not with Amazon’s Kindle. For more information about BC Library E-books try this search engine: BC Library To Go. And for lots more information about free books, reviews and tips, google: Project Gutenberg.

Seven Fours to four Againsts. The winner? The jury is still out. I look forward to hearing from the lovers/haters of E-books.

Posted by: cynthia | April 6th, 2012

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My kids are telling me that E-books are the wave of the future. GVPL has some to loan out, with a long waiting list. I want to know how many titles they have available before I commit to one of my own.

My own recent reading has included the following.
THE ALBATROSS AND THE FISH, Robin Doughty and Virginia Carmichael. GVPL # 333.95842 DOU.
Who knew there was once an albatross race, with bets on the outcome? Not me!
(I also didn’t know that they can go round the world up to three times a year, nor that many ancient mariners caught them and cooked them.)

WRITING HISTORY, Michael Bliss, (A Professor’s Life). Fairly heavy reading, but quite fascinating. He taught history at U Toronto, and wrote about it as it happened. Very strongly in favour of Pierre Trudeau and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In my opinion, it have should included responsibilities, and has made fortunes for lawyers and caused huge delays in the courts.
I hope personal views are permissible?

For entertainment, the Puzzle Lady series by Parnell Hall, and MC Beaton’s stories with both the Agatha Raisin books the Hamish MacBeth series being great reads.

I have always felt that those book clubs which pick one book and discuss it in depth are too restrictive, and have been looking for something like this one for years.
I now have a future list culled from all your posts, and thank you all for your contributions.

Posted by: Geoff | April 7th, 2012

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I think E-books would be great for folks travelling and a blessing for those unable to reach a library or bookstore, Cynthia. I haven't purchased one yet. Mostly because I haven't needed to, and technology changes so fast that any I bought would probably be obsolete before I needed to use it.

Yes, personal views and reviews are permissible, Geoff. I happen to like book clubs and have been member of one for many years. Its at our local library and I enjoy the social hour and many and varied viewpoints of readers. I haven't read any of the books you mentioned, but my husband bought me an Agatha Raisin mystery (Busy Body) for Christmas, the first of M.C. Beaton's books I've read. I found it highly entertaining.

Posted by: Wendy | April 10th, 2012

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You are right, Wendy. E-books are useful for some occasions, especially for travellers. I find mine handy to have, especially to bypass the long library waitlist and for easier reading because of the print. Beside my recliner I have a 2nd hand paperback, two library books and my E-reader - a hand in every pie as it were.
Geoff, I think of this forum as a Book Club, rather than a Book Discussion Club, where book lovers can post reviews of books they have read and liked/disliked (personal views always gladly accepted, of course). We have also discussed books (always good to have a discussion) and one book in particular comes to mind: Love, Eat, Pray (right, Wendy?). I always like to know something about the author of a book I am reading and I sometimes post a note on an author of any book mentioned by our readers.
I am frascinated by the title, and subject, of the book you mention, Geoff, 'Albatross and the Fish' and will try to find it in the library. Thanks for adding the dewey number.

Posted by: cynthia | April 11th, 2012

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Book Marcg Forth - wonderfuly written account of Trevor Green and his wife - he is our Canadian soldier who was struck with an axe while in a tribal meeting. He is a marvelous journalist and the story before his accident is as fascinating as after and his recovery. I could not recommend this book more highly. If you are in Victoria Bolens had an autographed copy I bought. Nice to think you can do soethign for them.

Posted by: judyjudyevelyn@telus.net | April 12th, 2012

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Thanks for that, Judy. That was a savage attack and it is amazing that Trevor Greene survived. The book is 'March Forth' by Trevor Greene and Debbie Greene, Trevor's wonderful wife who worked so well to rehabilitate her then fiance. They were married in 2010 with their daughter Grace beside them.

Posted by: cynthia | April 14th, 2012

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Here are some of the books on the Globe & Mail's list of best sellers. The stars are given by the G&M.
Endless Forest by Donati Sura **** I've Got You by Sophie Kinsella ****
Calico Joe by John Grisham ***** The Lucky Ones by Nicholas Sparks ****
Chasing Fire by Nora Roberts **** Now you see Her by James Patterson ****
The Help by Kathryn Stockett ***** Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer ****
Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo **** The Big Miss by Hank Haney ****
Quiet by Susan Cain **** Steve Jobs by Walter Isaason ****
Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg **** Moe and Me by Lorne Rubenstein ****
New American Haggadah by Jonathan Safran Foer ****
Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo ****
Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer **** Book of Awsome by Neil Pasricha ****
From this Moment On by Shania Twain **** Something Fierce by Carmen Aguirre****
Bossypants by Tina Fey **** Grand Design by Stephen Hawking *****

Posted by: cynthia | April 22nd, 2012

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Some names I have read in there.

I don't suppose you know of a review site? I'll have a hunt around to see if I can find anything.

Lately I have read THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY, by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows. Life in Guernsey under the German occupation in WWII. It is told as a series of letters by various people, and so realistic that I had to check partway through to check whether it was fiction or non.
Also Christopher Ondaatje, who I found at this book club, THE LAST COLONIAL, had me searching the web for "the beast of Exmoor" and Glenthorne house, on the coast of Exmoor.; after his blend of fact and fiction in the last short story.
Ondaatje again, JOURNEY TO THE SOURCE OF THE NILE , retracing the steps of the great explorers of the "Dark Continent". It covers historical practices by the native groups, and the influence of European colonization.

These books alone (usage?) have made me glad I found this group.

Now to get at at the Globe best seller list.

Posted by: Geoff | April 26th, 2012

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I have just finished reading "The Elegant Gathering of White Swans" by Krish Radish. Not my favourite book! About a group of eight Wisconsin women, who decide at midnight to up and go on a group therapy walkabout (for about a week -- with no change of clothes, appropriate footwear, not even an extra sweater etc), away from their past lives and respective families, I found rather difficult to believe. As they walked, the women told their stories, some of which were quite interesting. But the book never really grabbed me, and I didn't like the author's writing style. I finished reading it only because it was my book club selection for the month of April.

Posted by: Wendy | April 28th, 2012

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Thanks for the warning, Wendy! It is useful to get the good and the bad reviews. I wonder how your book discussion members will rate the book.
Geoff, I loved the Shaffer book which one of our members mentioned in this forum some months ago. A really good read. If you want to check on a book and/or find a review, try Chapters or Amazon web sites. You can get a synopsis and also click to read comments by readers. Amazon also lets you "open" the book to read the first few pages.

Posted by: cynthia | April 28th, 2012

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Tangier, Fez, Marrakesh, Casablanca. Exotic names from the Arabian Nights. Tahir Shah, born into an Anglo-Afghan family, moved to Morocco with his wife and two children to escape their dull life in London. In Casablanca he buys an old house which he renovates with the help and advice of an entertaining cast of characters, including jinns (genies) which he has to exorcise. He discovers a house filled with secret gardens, mysterious rooms, mosaics and fountains and Islamic art. Shah’s book “The Caliph’s House” is a delightful exotic journey through a land of a different culture, customs and way of life of a generous and alive people. He writes with sharp humour, hilarious at times, well written and highly entertaining. Reading this book I felt I was really there, but well away from the tourist track. There are delightful line drawings sprinkled through the book.

Still in Africa, “Angry Wind” is written by Jeffrey Tayler, a journalist, travel writer and linguist fluent in six languages. He travels by truck, bus, boat and camel through an isolated and forbidding region of Africa, the Sahel of the lower Sahara where slaves are still traded and Sharia law rules. Tayler uses his fluency in French and Arabic to connect with the local people he meets while traveling in crowded buses, dilapidated trucks, bush taxis and angry camels.

And now for something completely different: The American writer Janet Evanovich has been a best seller for years and I discovered her series recently when a friend gave me a paperback “Four to Score”. The books in the series are light-hearted, first person narrative mysteries starring barely competent bounty hunter Stephanie Plum. “Four to Score” starts with a bang, is fast paced and sprinkled with funny one-liners and hilarious, lovable characters including her spirited Grandma and hamster Rex. Perfect to relax with on a wet and chilly B.C. Spring day.

Posted by: cynthia | April 28th, 2012

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Cynthia, you wanted me to advise when my book was published. It will be available on Kindle and Amazon in 3-4 weeks. The title is MAGGIE'S DREAM - Escape from Ireland. Any reader interested in Irish history, particularly the early 20th century would probable enjoy, as it covers the social and political scene at the time, while a young girl is growing up as an indentured servant. Let me know what you think if you decide to read it.

Posted by: Meg | April 30th, 2012

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Thanks for letting us know about your book. Congratulations on having it published. I will certainly check it out on Kindle. It will be of particular interest to history buffs.

Posted by: cynthia | April 30th, 2012

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Here is an item from CBCnews/arts & entertainment dated Apr.30. It would interest those who enjoyed Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools by Greg Mortenson.
"A federal judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit against author Greg Mortenson, calling claims "flimsy and speculative" that the humanitarian and his publisher lied in his best-selling Three Cups of Tea and Stones Into Schools to boost book sales.

The civil lawsuit by four people who bought Mortenson's books said they were cheated out of about $15 US each because the books were labeled as nonfiction accounts of how Mortenson came to build schools in Central Asia.

The lawsuit by four readers from Montana, California and Illinois was filed after 60 Minutes and author Jon Krakauer reported last year that Mortenson fabricated parts of those books.

The plaintiffs said Mortenson, co-author David Oliver Relin, Penguin and Central Asia Institute were involved in a fraud and racketeering conspiracy to build Mortenson into a false hero to sell books and raise money for CAI, the charity Mortenson co-founded.

Haddon wrote in his ruling that their racketeering allegations "are fraught with shortcomings" and the plaintiffs' "overly broad" claims that they bought the books because they were supposed to be true aren't supported in the lawsuit."

Posted by: cynthia | April 30th, 2012

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That's odd! I have just started THE SEARCH FOR KING SOLOMON'S MINES, by Tahir Shah. I got there via the Kinsol Trestle, near Duncan. There was actually a King Solomon's mine on the Koksilah River, and also a King Solomon Basin over near Alberni. So I got curious about the original. I just re-read KING SOLOMON'S MINES, by H Rider Haggard. About 50 years ago I found that one fascinating, but it is almost adventure fantasy. Tahir Shah refers to it in his book.
Shah's SEARCH, reads more like creative non-fiction, it definitely has it's funny moments, but I had to wonder when there was a reference to people being robbed of bags of gold dust when the mine was supposed to be a hard rock mine.
However, it is amusing enough to continue reading, albeit with tongue in cheek.

Posted by: Geoff | May 3rd, 2012

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I have never read any Janet Evanovich booksm, Cynthia, so thanks for the heads up. I'll add them to my list.

Glad the Greg Mortenson case got thrown out of court. If the plaintiffs didn't like his books, they should just have asked for their money back,

Here's what my Book Club thought of The Elegant Gathering of White Snows: The stories of individuals were good and interesting - the women's behaviours were not - everyone found them to be a bit sickly and not credible,

Posted by: Wendy | May 4th, 2012

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Interesting post from you, Geoff, about In Search of King Solomon's Mines. Thanks for that. I read that Shah says he tends to embellish his tales, but I am sure most authors do to a point. Artistic licence?
Wendy, I have just read comments from readers about Elegant Gathering ... (on the Amazon Books site) which go from "...my soul was touched ..." to "Huh?" and from a 62-year old, "This book aint the real world, baby".

Posted by: cynthia | May 5th, 2012

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King Solomon's Mines:
A bit of research revealed that Shah has got all his geology right, and even his hyena-man actually exists. So I got an education about Ethiopia, and all my preconceptions about placer mining and the country turned out to be invalid.
Now I am about a third of the way in to the book, and will gladly accept a bit of embellishment and see what else I can learn.

re Mortenson. Now my curiosity is aroused, and I'll have to read it.

Posted by: Geoff | May 5th, 2012

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I am reading (very slowly) "Mrs Dalloway" by Virginia Woolf. Written in 1925, it was a style breakthrough in its time, but I am finding it hard to read. Half way through, I have at last wrapped my head around Mrs. Dalloway and her supporting cast of characters, but I find the stream of consciousness technique difficult to read. Woolf make us work hard with her impossible 130+-word sentences (I just counted one). And she uses words like, "irreticences" and "benignant," for example, that are not in my dictionary. Even Maureen Howard, who wrote the Foreward for Mrs. D, says of Woolf, "her style makes great demands on us, exacting as the demands of the present." She's got that right! Cynthia? Geoff,? anyone? have you read Mrs Dalloway. What did you think of it?

Posted by: Wendy | May 15th, 2012

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I have not abandoned the Club - no way. Family visitors are taking my reading/book club time. What more can I say! I will be back.

Posted by: cynthia | May 17th, 2012

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I haven't read Woolf at all, but i think she must be a tough read, even without her coined words.
I thought Umberto Eco was the hardest author I had ever read. ( I gave up after a few pages).
I heard him on the radio one day, and he said that the price for the book at the store is basically a down payment, and you have to work through the first 100 pages as the price for reading the rest of the book. I felt this was very pretentious, as I have always believed that the purpose of writing is to communicate! Unless one is keeping a private journal.

I have been picking up some of the classic literature at the library, stuff that I missed on my way to having lots of leisure time. In my view, Steinbeck has great stories, with a lot of room for thought. Hemingway, not so much, and I don't care for his style of short sentences describing things that don't contribute to the story, as In RETURN TO THE RIVER.
The one that really shook me up was MOBY DICK. I got about six pages in before I got bogged down in absolutely glutinous prose.
There is a web site (search Bulwer-Lytton} dedicated to turgid prose, named for the author who began "It was a dark and stormy night ---", and they make awards each year for the most florid passages in new works.
One year they had 100 readers reading Charles Dickens and Bulwer -Lytton in unidentified clips, assigned to attribute the text to one or the other. Half of Dickens was attributed to B-L, and half of B-L was attributed to Dickens.
Anyway, the site does have lots of interest for me as a life-long reader. I hope others will also enjoy it.

Posted by: Geoff | May 17th, 2012

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Many thanks for your comments, Geoff. I love Steinbeck. I have read several of his books and even visited his home town of Salinas, Calif, where there is a Steinbeck museum. Only read one of Hemingway and I can't remember much about it. But you are the second person I have heard a complain about Moby Dick in a week. And it's supposed to be a classic.
My next book club book is A SUITABLE BOY by Vikram Seth and it has 1,474 pages. Fortunately, the library has given us all summer (three months) to read it. A bit daunting, but at first glance the author appears to have a sense of humour and starts with this quote from Voltaire: "The secret of being a bore is to say everything." The book is about India apparently. The last book I read about India was A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. I loved the book, but it made me cross India off my bucket list. Have you read it?
Will Google Bulwer-Lytton and ahve a look-see.

Posted by: Wendy | May 17th, 2012

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Good to be back but I am way behind!
Wendy, no I have never read Virginia Wolf and you were brave to tackle her! One of my very favourite writers is Wm Faulkner but when I first encountered him I found his stream of consciousness style very difficult. However, after learning about that style (my interpretation was: when you think, then words flow through your mind - with or without pictures in glorious technicolour - but when you speak or are spoken to, then you naturally question? exclaim! pause, or stop.) I began to enjoy his books, great characters and wonderful stories taking place in the deep South. If anyone has never read his books, I highly recommend them perhaps starting with "The Reivers" (the movie starred Steve McQueen). Although Faulkner never graduated from High School, he received the Nobel Prize for Literature, the Pultizer Prize twice and other literary awards. He died after a horse riding accident in the 60s.
Geoff, like you and Wendy I have enjoyed Steinbeck. I found Wells' stories interesting but cant say I really enjoyed them. His biography certainly was interesting. I have not yet checked the Bulwer Lytton site but will do soon.
Let us know how you get on with A Suitable Boy, Wendy. Dont remove India from your bucket list - it is worth a visit especially the north. The new movie (..Marigold Hotel) might be worth seeing.
I am reading a travel book, "Turn Right at Machu Picchu" which I am enjoying.

Posted by: cynthia | May 21st, 2012

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Bulwer Lytton. The entries for the worst story beginnings contest are fun to read. Poor Bulwer Lytton must be turning in his grave – he is such a figure of fun on the internet yet in his time he was considered a leading man of letters and among the most influential authors of his time. Apparently one of his books was adapted by Wagner as an opera, he persuaded Dickens to alter the ending of Great Expectations, he influenced Hitler (not so great) and has had towns named after him in Australia --- and in B.C. (where?). He is even buried in Westminster Abbey amongst the greats.
Good websites on him, Geoff. Thanks.

Posted by: cynthia | May 21st, 2012

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"The secret of a bore --- " I hope that doesn't mean that it applies to his 1474 pages.
Cynthia says pictures flow through her mind, and that exactly describes my own reading experience, I just never thought of like that.
I haven't read or seen THE REIVERS, and didn't even realise Steinbeck wrote it.
Further on Steinbeck, Doc, in CANNERY ROW, was actually based on a real marine biologist, Ed Ricketts. I read a partial bio on him, and he was actually the first biologist to understand that small, specialised, eco-systems exist everywhere. At the moment, I don't remember author or title.
Bulwer-Lytton actually had one town in Quebec, and Lytton, BC (from their web site) named for him. He was the British Secretary for the Colonies when BC was established.
It hardly seems fair that his memorial site is dedicated to overflowing paragraphs.
Thanks for future reading, Woolf and Evanovitch have gone on my library hold list.
Cynthia says she found Wells' stories interesting but not really enjoyable. I didn't see a previous reference to a Wells.?

Posted by: Geoff | May 27th, 2012

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I think Seth is making fun of himself, Geoff. Part of his poem of thanks at the front of the book says: And, gentle reader, you as well,
The fountainhead of all remittance
Buy me before good sense insists
You'll strain your purse and sprain your wrists.
His book is pretty weighty to handle, tho' not to read. I like his writing style, which is light -- conversational with a subtle humour.
Interesting about Bulwer-Lytton, Geoff. I found the site and read some of the terrible turgid clips. I found it difficult it imagine that readers could mix up the B-L and Dickens. I like Dicken's books. It's amazing that Dickens never had much of an education (he worked making shoe polish before starting his job as a court clerk), yet he could write so well. I haven't had time to read much of late, but I, too, have been a reader all my life.
Cynthia -- India came off my bucket list because I hadn't realized how hot and humid the country is until I read about it in Mistry's book. My metabolism is such that I cannot take extreme heat. I think I'd be ill if I went to India.
Geoff, Salinas, where Steinbeck lived is pretty close to Monterey, the setting for Cannery Row, (if I remember correctly, it's a while since i read it) and, being a coastal town is possibly where Steinbeck met Ed Ricketts while Ed was studying marine biology. Sea otters put on a great show for us when we visited Monterey.

Posted by: Wendy | May 28th, 2012

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I should explain, Geoff: Like Wendy, I do like Steinbeck's writing. I should have continued, (moving on to another author): 'As for H.G.Wells, I found his stories interesting but cant say I really enjoyed them'. Sorry for the confusion. Also: The REIVERS was written by William Faulkner, the author I had mentioned.
Like you, Wendy, I cant tolerate heat unfortunately as there are many countries I would like to visit if not for the heat. On the other hand I find cold weather gets to me. A fan in one hand, a hotwater bottle in the other?

Posted by: cynthia | May 28th, 2012

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This is from an article I found in the book section of the Economist magazine which would be of interest ('How to publish a bestseller'):
"....Readers have more power than ever, says Joel Rickett, an editor at Penguin. Publishers used to be able to create winners by flooding stores with their picks. The bestseller lists of the 1980s and 1990s were dominated by brand names such as Stephen King and Danielle Steel. Industry mergers and bookstore monoliths made hype easy. But now readers can go online to berate overhyped books that fail to thrill. ....... Thanks to social media, word of mouth spreads faster than ever before, giving unknown writers a better shot. Today, a bestseller must usually appeal either to young people (who use social media a lot) or women (who dominate reading groups)".

Posted by: cynthia | May 28th, 2012

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I can't tolerate extreme cold, either, Cynthia. I'd love to visit Africa, but think I would not be able to handle the heat.

Thanks for the excerpt about publishing. Interesting.

I'm only 100 pages into A Suitable Boy and so far am finding it rather slow moving, Perhaps it's the author's many references to the heat and characters having naps that makes me feel so drowsy when I read it. Only 1374 pages to go.

Posted by: Wendy | May 31st, 2012

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Hang in there, Wendy!


Here are some ‘new’ novels by authors who have written best sellers in the past (….) with reviews I have found. I have not read any of these new books but have enjoyed other books by these authors:
Anne Tyler (The Accidental Tourist) THE BEGINNER’S GOODBYE. This book has “timeless characters and ageless problems ….. a refreshing readable take on one of life’s most important issues”. “A moving story of grief and loss”
Russell Banks (The Sweet Hereafter) LOST MEMORY OF SKIN. The author explores “the deeper ironies of a culture that condemns pedophiles while turning its children into dehumanized sexual commodities”. It is about “profound loneliness and alienation …”.
“Does a very young man, who is not terribly bright, deserve the same fate as a serial pedophile offender?” Heavy stuff.
Mark Haddon (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time) THE RED HOUSE. This is the story of “two dysfunctional families with a myriad of psychological neuroses” who are on vacation in Wales. Apparently not an easy book to read, according to reviews, “it is a bit disjointed”. Some loved the book; some did not. “..quirky characters, strange points of view, frenetic activity…. stuff happens but the plot is secondary to the characters”.
Sebastian Faulks (Charlotte Gray) A WEEK IN DECEMBER. This novel is set in London the week before Christmas 2007 and follows the lives of seven characters, their hopes and loves. “… the novel moves to a gripping climax, the characters forced to confront the true nature of the world they inhabit”. Intriguing?

I will find lighter reading another time!

Posted by: cynthia | May 31st, 2012

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Thanks, Cynthia. I have read some of these authors -- I enjoyed Mark Haddon's "The Curious Incident..." but the books listed look like they might be pretty heavy reading. The Russel lBanks in particular won't make it on to my must read list.

Posted by: Wendy | June 1st, 2012

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Just reading back over recent posts. I love Wendy's idea of asking for your money back if you don't like a book, but I don't believe you would get it.

I hesitate about tackling extremely long books, as I like to have two or three concurrently. In fact, I tend to reject library books of over 500. pages.
I hope we will get a review of Seth's long book. I am open to conversion on my long book hangup.

Recent reading:-
Beyond Words, John Humphrys

“How language reveals the way we live”

All about how words and their application have evolved in recent times.
Evolved may be the wrong word, as it generally suggests improvement, while this book is very close to proving the meanings have become corrupted almost to the point of meaninglessness. (I hope that last one is actually a word?)
Entertaining and thought-provoking.

LAKELAND, Allan Casey, “Journeys into the Soul of Canada”
I found this a fascinating book. Casey talks of the lakes place in Canadian lives, and visits lakes across the country looking at their history and local customs.

THE VET IN THE VESTRY, Alexander Cameron
This is an odd book. A vet actually becomes a minister. It is hilarious in places, and deeply thoughtful about love and the death of a partner in others.

I see a poem in a previous post, Wendy's "Berry Christmas". I'm not sure that limericks qualify as poetry:-

COSMOS

A poet of talent quite terse
wrote poems of only one verse.
He condensed while at home,
and at last penned a poem,
of one word for the whole Uni-verse.

Posted by: Geoff | June 5th, 2012

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I like your limerick, Geoff. Very creative. I'm terrible at poetry generally, but every once in awhile I'm inspired to write a stanza or two..

All the books you mentioned have appeal. I'll add them to my reading list, although I think I might be stuck forever with A SUITABLE BOY. Only 200 pages read so far, mostly because besides being 1474 pages in length, the print is small. I can only read it for a short time then have to move on to something else. It does hold my interest, now I've sorted out all the characters, and I am learning much about the Indian culture.

Posted by: Wendy | June 7th, 2012

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Very interesting posts from you, Geoff. Thanks for passing on the book reviews. They all sound interesting.
You have got us wondering about A Suitable Boy, Wendy! You have got caught up in a marathon. I wonder what your other Book Club members think of that book.

Posted by: cynthia | June 10th, 2012

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For those who have wanted to visit Machu Picchu, for those who have visited Machu Picchu and would like to visit again by the route taken by the discoverer, or for those who just want to read an amusing non-fiction book, travel to Peru with Mark Adams and his book “Turn Right at Machu Picchu”. You will avoid the snakes and other hazards including the thousands of tourists who now visit the site.
Adams is a travel magazine copy editor who had never roughed it in a tent or knew how to light a campfire, but he wanted to walk in Hiram Bingham’s footsteps and “discover” Machu Picchu the way Hiram Bingham had done a century ago. Bingham was considered by some to be the inspiration for Indiana Jones.
Adams hires a seasoned, and serious, Australian explorer as his guide, John Leivers, suits himself for the adventure and starts off with mules and bearers. He asks if you have ever seen Mr.Travel Guy,”the fellow who strides through airports dressed like he’s flying off to hunt wildebeests … I could have been trick-or-treating as Hemingway”.
His book is part travel journal, part adventure story and part history lesson and beliefs of the Incas. His writing is woven together, paralleling Bingham’s expedition. Sometimes I found the back and forth between Adams’ adventures (and there’s plenty of comic relief there and witty asides about himself) and Bingham’s writing a little confusing which meant turning back a page to get my bearings. And there were place names I would never remember again such as Phuyupatamara. On the whole I found this a great adventure/travel book and I learnt a lot about Peru and its history.

Posted by: cynthia | June 10th, 2012

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Project Gutenberg
This is an interesting site to browse. It lists 39000 books that have expired copywrites and although they are listed as ebooks that can be downloaded, they can be read online. Of course, because of the thousands of authors/titles, many obscure, it is easier if you know a particular author you want to find. So, once on the site, click 'browse catalogue' on the left and then click 'top 100'. This will list well known titles (and authors) such as Anne of Green Gables, Don Quijote, Time Machine, Peter Pan, Oliver Twist, My Man Jeeves, Uncle Tom's Cabin .......... and you can read the whole book. Or just browse through books you always wanted to read but never got around to.

Posted by: cynthia | June 24th, 2012

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OMG !. . . . . copyrights. Of course. Never let one's fingers get ahead of one's thoughts?

Posted by: cynthia | June 24th, 2012

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I started Mrs Dalloway, but gave up on it. If the story is intended to be a satire on society at the time, I guess my lower class upbringing did not qualify me to appreciate it. The incredible detail of Mrs Dalloway’s thoughts as she walked until she got to the shop where she got an “almost perfect pair of gloves”, and her preoccupation about other people doing the correct thing at social events put me off.

Tamar Myers , AS THE WORLD CHURNS, is one of a mystery series featuring Mennonite innkeeper Magdalena Yoder, who is wonderful at rationalizing uncharitable thoughts. I have found them very enjoyable.

THE WAVE, by Susan Casey, mixes extreme surfers (think 60 ft waves), and oceanographic research into ships lost without trace. Would you believe that a 285,000 ton ship sank after being hit by a rogue wave? And many others disappear each year.

Posted by: Geoff | July 7th, 2012

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I found Mrs. Dalloway a difficult read too, Geoff, and only read it half way through the first time. Bur then our library was showing the movie (made in the 1950s, I think) so I decided to make a special effort and borrowed the book again. I did read it to the end, but enjoyed the movie much more. It was much easier to follow without all the stream-of consciousness detail of the book. Our book group made the last meeting before the summer break a social occasion, so we enjoyed cookies and good conversation afterwards (Mrs Dalloway style).

I'm still toiling through A SUITABLE BOY, and will be all summer, but now that I'm familiar with the characters, I'm liking it better.

Has anyone seen the movie THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, based on the book THESE FOOLISH THINGS? (can't remember the name of the author). Haven't read the book yet (now on my must-read list) but the movie is excellent. Starred with the best of British and Indian actors (including Judy Densch and Maggie Smith), a young inexperienced proprietor of an aging hotel in India sets out to attract a clientele of seniors. The result is fast-moving, humourous and hugely entertaining. If life is a little dull and you you need a lift, I suggest you go see THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL. It's positive, upbeat and made for us seniors.

Posted by: Wendy | July 8th, 2012

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I saw the movie, Wendy, and loved it. I want to read the book "These Foolish Things" by Deborah Moggach but there are over 100 holds at the Library (this is where an e-book would be useful). I have been trying to find information about the book and here are a couple of reviews I found:
Ravi Kapoor, the over-worked Indian doctor in charge of the elderly woman gets a lot of bad publicity. He himself knows the truth, Muriel Donnelly, the old lady, did not want to get treatment from "those darkies". This whole affair comes at a very bad time for Ravi. His father-in-law, a typical "dirty old man" is staying at his house, after being thrown, again, from another retirement home. Here however comes the unexpected twist. Ravi's cousin comes out with a genius idea: move a group of British senior citizens, just like Ravi's father-in-law to India where labor is cheap and elders are treated with respect, and create a Little England in India. The old folks will never know the difference. The cousin is very convincing, he knows just the right place and the right people to manage the establishment...he is a man who dwells on "arranging". What if the ends are not loosely tied...Ravi is captured in his enthusiasm.


Although the film of the same name is very good and the actors are worthy veterans of the stage and movies, the book is so much better.
The characters are well defined and interesting while full of life and humour. There is so much more in this book than in the film and there is never a dull moment. The characters are real and India is well represented, all in glorious colour. In fact, I read the book first and saw the film after and found the film as a different story altogether.

Posted by: cynthia | July 10th, 2012

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In 1996 in the U.K. there were 3000 places for 76,000 acoustic kids. This left parents having to cope with at-home care for the other 26,000 kids classed as severely autistic. With little help from local authorities a number of parents with autistic children set up a private school, Tree House, to meet the needs of those children, to train teachers to educate as many as possible and to enable schools like Tree House to sprout in all areas. To make the public aware of the problems and to help fund Tree House, the British author Nick Hornby (About a Boy, Fever Pitch, High Fidelity) asked twelve of his friends – 12 contemporary British writers including an actor – to each contribute a short story for a book to be published in the cause of autism. Proceeds of the book would go towards Tree House. SPEAKING WITH THE ANGEL is the result. Authors include Zadie Smith, Dave Eggers, Roddy Doyle, Nick Hornby etc. and the actor, Colin Firth (Mama Mia, The King’s Speech). A similar institute is now established in New York.
Most of the stories are quite humorous (imagine the UK Prime Minister having to stop his limo urgently to find a loo and then getting lost on foot in London), most I rate PG and fun but one I definitely rate X!!

Posted by: cynthia | July 14th, 2012

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Sounds like THESE FOOLISH THINGS would be a very entertaining read, Cynthia. Also, SPEAKING WITH THE ANGEL. I have added both to my reading list, although I haven't had time to read much during the summer. However, we have holidays coming up soon. I plan to park myself in my new zero-gravity chair (purchased today) and indulge in some serious R,R and R -- that's resting, relaxing and reading.

Enjoy your summer everyone.

Posted by: Wendy | July 16th, 2012

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Thanks Wendy. Have yourself a good R,R and R. Happy reading

Posted by: cynthia | July 18th, 2012

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QUOTES TO PONDER.

The covers of this book are too far apart. (Ambrose Bierce 1842-1914)

You can cover a great deal of country in books. (Andrew Lang 1844-1912)

This paperback is very interesting, but it will never replace a hardcover book – it makes a very poor doorstop. (Alfred Hitchcock 1899-1980)

It was a book to kill time, for those who like it better dead. (Dame Rose Macaulay 1881-1958)

Most new books are forgotten within a year, especially by those who borrow them. (Evan Esar 1899-1995)

I think it is good that books still exist, but they do make me sleepy. (Frank Zappa 1940-1993)

From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it. (Graucho Marx 1890-1977)

A good novel tells us the truth about its hero, but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author. (G.K.Chesterton 1874-1936)

This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force. (Dorothy Parker 1893-1967)

Posted by: cynthia | July 18th, 2012

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I am seeking some witty comments on Cynthia's Quotes to Ponder, but not ready as I put so much time on INTO THE SILENCE, by Wade Davis. The Great War, Mallory, and the conquest of Everest. The IMax movie triggered my interest, but fortunately omitted some horrible details. It took three years to get climbers within striking distance of the summit, with huge numbers of porters and yaks. One man died the first year without even getting close enough to see the mountain.
A great read, but rather heavy in places. I still can not understand why people go to such altitudes. One man, alone, found he could not inhale, and coughed up a piece of his own windpipe.
I found an odd parallel with mountaineers and Tibetan holy men. Both seem driven, in their own way. As of 2011, one in ten climbers on Everest have perished, often in agony. The lamas compete for holiness, living alone for years in a frigid cave, their only human contact a food delivery once a month. Both groups gain status among their own kind for performing useless activities.
At 571 pages, this is a real challenge as a Fast Read in seven days. A real eye-opener was to discover that the Indian Survey measured Everest from 150 miles away in the late 1800s, and were accurate within a few feet.

Posted by: Geoff | July 20th, 2012

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How interesting Geoff. Thank you. I have been wanting to read 'Into the Silence' but the number of pages made me hesitate; however, after reading your comments I want to put my name down for it at the Library. I have read many of Wade Davis' other books and found them all so very interesting. He is amazing, where he goes and what he does. I believe he lives on the West Coast of BC.

Posted by: cynthia | July 22nd, 2012

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The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony.
This is an amazing book, part memoir part anecdotes. Anthony, a businessman turned conservationist, worked with a herd of “rogue” elephants on a private game reserve in Zululand, South Africa. His book tells the story of saving the herd, categorized as violent and unruly, at the request of an animal welfare organization. He decided that to save their lives he “would stay with them, feed them, talk to them. But, most importantly, be with them day and night”. He communicates with them using the language strategies that humans employ to communicate with each other, and a strong bond is formed with his elephants. Read this book and you will be floored by the incredible communication between Anthony and his elephants, and you may even be in tears as I was.
When Lawrence Anthony died, of a heart attack, the elephants were grazing miles away. They travelled for over 12 hours to reach his house, stayed in the compound for a couple of days and then returned to the reserve. They had not visited the compound for a year. According to Anthony’s wife and his son, “in coming up there on that day of all days, we certainly believe that they had sensed it”, Anthony’s passing.

Posted by: cynthia | July 29th, 2012

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Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it?
Have you enjoyed/hated/couldn't care less any books you would like to comment about or review? Join in, and type away to add your recommendtions to our 'Must Read List of books'.

Posted by: cynthia | July 29th, 2012

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Quotes to ponder. I have pondered.

QUOTES TO PONDER.

The covers of this book are too far apart. (Ambrose Bierce 1842-1914)
He wrote “ The Devil’s Dictionary”, and I believe he is eminently qualified to comment on other writers’ work.

And more and more books are getting fatter and fatter!
Paperbacks used to fit in a pocket, to be read in any spare moment. Now 600 pages and counting. My pet peeve is the author who takes two pages of street names and left and right turns to get his protagonist to the next story point.

You can cover a great deal of country in books. (Andrew Lang 1844-1912)
So true, and I love it.

This paperback is very interesting, but it will never replace a hardcover book – it makes a very poor doorstop. (Alfred Hitchcock 1899-1980)
Progress, paperbacks can now be used as doorstops!

It was a book to kill time, for those who like it better dead. (Dame Rose Macaulay 1881-1958)
Time spent reading is the best possible use of that time.

Most new books are forgotten within a year, especially by those who borrow them. (Evan Esar 1899-1995)
We are downsizing, and I hand out a book and ask that it be passed on, rather than returned.

I think it is good that books still exist, but they do make me sleepy. (Frank Zappa 1940-1993)
Me too, but I usually remember where I left off, even if it fell to the floor.

From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it. (Graucho Marx 1890-1977)
Too hard an act to follow!

A good novel tells us the truth about its hero, but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author. (G.K.Chesterton 1874-1936)
Very witty, but I really wonder if fiction can tell the truth?

This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force. (Dorothy Parker 1893-1967)
Very pithy! But to me Parker was a grandstander, getting laughs from her in-group at the expense of perceived outsiders.

Posted by: Geoff | August 2nd, 2012

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The legendary Gore Vidal has died at age 86. Here are some of the quotes from “The Complete Works on Gore Vidal” by Russell Halley, Joseph Pilcher and Michael S. Lasky, Writer’s Digest, March 1975:
“The reason my early books are so bad is because I never had the time or the money to afford constant revisions.”
“Constant work, constant writing and constant revision. The real writer learns nothing from life. He is more like an oyster or a sponge. What he takes in he takes in normally the way any person takes in experience. But it is what is done with it in his mind, if he is a real writer, that makes his art.”
“I’ll tell you exactly what I would do if I were 20 and wanted to be a good writer. I would study maintenance, preferably plumbing. … So that I could command my own hours and make a good living on my own time.”
“A book exists on many different levels. Half the work of a book is done by the reader—the more he can bring to it the better the book will be for him, the better it will be in its own terms.”
[When asked which genre he enjoys the most, and which genre comes easiest:]
“Are you happier eating a potato than a bowl of rice? I don’t know. It’s all the same. … Writing is writing. Writing is order in sentences and order in sentences is always the same in that it is always different, which is why it is so interesting to do it. I never get bored with writing sentences, and you never master it and it is always a surprise—you never know what’s going to come next.”
[When asked how he would like to be remembered:]
“I suppose as the person who wrote the best sentences in his time.”
Rest in peace, Gore Vidal.

Posted by: cynthia | August 7th, 2012

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Just finished reading THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL by Deborah Moggach. I had mixed feelings about it and think I like the movie better (unusual for me as I almost always prefer a book to a movie of the same name). The movie is very visual and captures the life and colour of India very well. Both are a moving, funny, poignant comment about the trials and tribs of growing old, with scenes and situations we can all relate to.

Posted by: wendy | August 16th, 2012

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Welcome back, Wendy.
Good to hear your comment about the BEMH book - I am on the list at the library and have been looking forward to reading it especially as I enjoyed the movie. The book did have good reviews (see my previous post) and not so good ones. I always prefer to see the movie before reading the book. Too often the movie has been adapted so much that it turns out to be a different story, or I find the characters dont match what I envisage.

Posted by: cynthia | August 21st, 2012

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Sunday August 26th. Start waving flags and cheering. That day will be the third anniversary of the launch of this Book Club - three whole years ago.
I can no longer list the book suggestions as I would like to do, but keep them coming.

Posted by: cynthia | August 21st, 2012

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I'll be waving a flag and cheering August 26th, Cynthia. Can it be three years already? Wow!
I am still trying to finish reading A SUITABLE BOY before September and my first book club meeting after the summer. But I don't think I'm going to make it. I set myself a 25-30 page reading goal, but have already fallen behind. Life has a habit of getting in the way!

Posted by: Wendy | August 23rd, 2012

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You are a dedicated reader, Wendy. Having got so far with A Suitable Boy I hope you will reach your goal before your book club meets in Sept.
I am reading an old book published in the 60s, "Black Like Me" by John Howard Griffin. The author dyed his skin black and then ventured into the Southern US as a "Negro". Racism was rife in those days and the story of his experiences as a white man/black man is quite harrowing.

Posted by: cynthia | August 28th, 2012

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Interesting, Cynthia. I'll add it to my list, although I haven't been reading as much through the summer and now have a huge list of books on my must-read list. I didn't meet my 25-30 page a day reading goal with A Suitable Boy so I have taken the line of least resistance, skipped about five hundred pages and am reading the end four hundred. Having read the first six hundred pages, I should have a pretty good understanding of what the book is all about and be able to join in the book group discussion.

Posted by: Wendy | August 28th, 2012

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A lady I know said she missed several days of other activities, and really enjoyed A SUITABLE BOY. It still sounds a bit much for me.

Then I read these lines, and maybe I will have a go at it:

S. I. Hayakawa Quotes


In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.
S. I. Hayakawa

It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.
S. I. Hayakawa

Posted by: Geoff | September 5th, 2012

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Good sentiment, Geoff. One really can lose oneself in a good book, meeting interesting people, seeing the world . . . . through the author's words.

Posted by: cynthia | September 13th, 2012

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I was checking an earlier Globe&Mail Bestsellers and see that the 'Fifty Shades ..' series by E.I.James have the first three spots. From reviews I have read I gather that these are quite explicit and I wonder if they are popular for their content that seems to have received some notoriety! Any comments?
Here are some Crime Fiction books recommended by the G&M:
Watching the Dark by Peter Robinson. "Peter Robinson's readers know that book to book they always get quality. The plots are clever and well organised and the characters intelligently constructed . . . .".
And When she was Good, by Laura Lippman. "This sperb story by Laura Lippman is more character study than traditional mystery..... There is a murder, and an investigation, but it's not the heart of this book. . .".
Bones are Forever by Kathy Reichs. "The all-Canadian setting .. is perfect for a chase that runs from Montreal to Yellowknife......The sexual sizzle doesn't detract a whit from the terrific story. . .".
Grandad, There's a Head on the Beach by Colin Cotterill. "If you haven't discovered Colin Cotterill, there is no better book than this one. It's smart and witty and set in a village on the Gulf of Siam. Escape doesn't get any better. . .".
The Prophet by Michael Koryta. This author "is emerging as one of the best thriller authors in America. The setting of The Prophet is the requisite mid-American small town where two brothers have been separated by a terrible crime . . .".

Posted by: cynthia | September 16th, 2012

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Greetings Everybody!
I have several Clive Cussler audio books for sale and also the audio book complete series of the Vampire books called Twighlight. I paid 250.00 for Twilight and open to offers. These books have only been read once so would make excellent gifts. Tideshoal@telus.net

Posted by: Linda Matson | September 16th, 2012

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Hello Linda. This is a book discussion group and I am not sure if you should be selling through our group. However, I will leave our members to decide.

Posted by: cynthia | September 17th, 2012

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At last I have finished reading " A Suitable Boy." Did I like it? And was it worth the effort? Yes, I think so. Only one other member of my book group finished the book, so group discussion was light and we ended our meeting in record time (and after our sweet librarian had provided coffee and cookies in anticipation of a marathon session, too). Seth provided so much detail about Nehru's India of the 1950s -- the political climate, the caste system, business practices, the clash between Hindus and Muslims, descriptions of Gods worshiped, many and varied religious festivals, besides a huge cast of characters (about 80), the multi-generational lives of four Indian families, a couple of love stories and, of course, the book's basic premise -- the choosing of a suitable boy for Lata. Whew! Seth is a humorous, skilled writer and poet. I learned much, but am I ready to tackle the sequel, A Suitable Girl, when it comes out in 2013? Another 1,474 pages maybe? Hmm, I don't know...only time will tell.

Posted by: Wendy | September 22nd, 2012

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Wendy, after reading your post I have decided I have to read A Suitable Boy, no matter the length of the book. As a 'child of the Raj' until India's independence, I am always interested in stories of India and this book, especially covering post independence, appeals to me. You seem to have a great book group. What is the next choice? (while waiting for the suitable girl!)

Lovers of Harry Potter's author might like to try J.K.Rowling's first novel for adults, Casual Vacancy which will be on the shelves in time for Xmas. The tale is set in the fictional West Country village of Pagford and examines Britain's middle class, and, according to hype, "could shock many of her fans not least with language that would make a Hogwart pupil blush". That's an idea for Santa's list. Other best selling authors having novels coming out for Xmas are Ian Rankin, Zadie Smith, Ian McEwan and Salman Rushdie. Here's a reminder: On Monday there will be just 86 days to Xmas. Not too early to start dropping hints for gift books is it?

Posted by: cynthia | September 27th, 2012

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Cynthia, A Suitable Boy is like a Sunday afternoon walk in the park ( a very long Sunday afternoon walk). Good humoured and gentle, sprinkled with poetic couplets and poems, the pace is unhurried. There is some violence, but it is written in the same calm, affable tone, which Seth maintains throughout the book.Our next book group read is Jodi Picoult's book " A Change of |Heart." I have already read it, so am catching up with Alexander McCall Smith books published in 2011/2012. His books are only 2-3 hundred pages and larger print; I can read one in a couple of days. Enjoy A Suitable Boy.

Posted by: Wendy | September 28th, 2012

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Thanks, Wendy. A Suitable Boy is waiting for me until I have caught up with my reading. I have not read any Jodi Picoult books, though "House Rules" is on my bookshelf. Any comments about her books?

Posted by: cynthia | October 6th, 2012

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Nora Ephron died in June after struggling for six years with a terminal illness. She was author, screenwriter, director, playwright, producer. Her large and devoted circle of friends included movie stars and writers, but only her family and a few of her closest friends knew she was ill all those years, and few of them knew that she was in hospital the last five weeks of her life. Why did she keep an illness of such magnitude to herself, to not complain? Perhaps she did not want friends to see her falling apart; perhaps she did not want to spend days fending off onslaughts of concerned questions, to spare friends the awful details. These were some theories. According to her son, Max Bernstein, “I think she just kept quiet so the rest of us could keep enjoying being with her as much as possible”.
Some of Nora Ephron’s books and films that so many of us have enjoyed are: When Harry Met Sally – Sleepless in Seattle – Julie and Julia – You’ve Got Mail – Heartburn – Silkwood.

Posted by: cynthia | October 7th, 2012

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Cynthia, so sad about the passing of Nora Ephron. I read Julie and Julia, and saw the movies Sleepless... and You've Got Mail and enjoyed therm all. I think Nora was reticent about her illness because she didn't want it to take over her life any quicker than it had to, that she wanted to take her mind off it with her work rather than be constantly reminded of it on a daily basis by the the people around her, kind and well-meaning as they were, and, most importantly, that her family and friends could get on with their own lives without worrying about her. A great loss to readers and the entertainment industry at large; she had amazing talent.

Posted by: Wendy | October 12th, 2012

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Cynthia, sorry I have not answered your questions sooner. We were away for a week, on Vancouver Island. We stayed at West Bay, but had a very enjoyable day in Victoria. I thought of you, and wished that had I known we were going to be visiting the Island sooner (it was a last minute decision to make the most of the last warm days of summer), I could have brought my copy of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for you. There was such a long waiting list at your library.

Jodi Picoult's books are themed around relationships and ask questions about
life's most difficult social problems. What makes a child go on a shooting rampage at school? (Nineteen Minutes, based on the Columbine shootings) What circumstances contribute to push him/her over the edge? Is it fair and ethical to subject one child to countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots and the extreme pain of being a bone marrow donor to save her sick sister? (My Sister's Keeper). Should a murderer on death row be allowed to be an organ donor? To benefit his victim yet? (Change of Heart) I haven't read many of Picoult's books, but the ones I have read are well written and thought provoking.

Thanks for recommending The Elephant Whisperer. I bought it while on holiday (in Sidney -- home of several fabulous book shops). I just finished reading it today, and loved it. Can't wait to read other books by Lawrence Anthony

Posted by: Wendy | October 12th, 2012

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Hi Wendy - so that was you I passed on the Walkway?! I am keeping my name on the library list for the Marigold book until I can find it in paperback. So glad you enjoyed "The Elephant Whisperer". "Babylon's Ark" is another of Anthony's books. And elephant lovers might also enjoy Dame Daphne Sheldrick's " Love life and Elephants".
Calling all Alexander McCall Smith's fans (you too Wendy): Have you read his "The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection" and "A Conspiracy of Friends"?

Posted by: cynthia | October 21st, 2012

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Here are some non-fiction, including bios and autobios, for your reading lists:
On a Farther Shore by William Souder (Rachel Carson)
Dearie by Bob Spitz (julia Child)
The Redgraves by Donald Spoto
Next by Gordon Pinsent (himself)
Unlikely Love Stories by Mike McCardell (that quirky Global news personality)
My Mother was Nuts by Penny Marshall (yes, her mother)
America Again by Stephen Colbert
The Last Viking by Stephen R.Bown (Roald Amundsen)
Eminent Elizabethans by Piers Brendon
A Nation Worth Ranting About by Rick Mercer
and finally a book with an intriguing title but who knows what is between the covers?
The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe.

Posted by: cynthia | October 21st, 2012

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Thanks, Cynthia. I have already read AMSs "The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection" and I'm on a list for "The Conspiracy of Friends" at the library. Also, "The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds." (Isabel Dalhousie series). In searching the Net to see if there are any other of AMSs books I haven't read, I was surprised to find a cookbook, Mma Ramotswe's Cookbook," and two other new ones I'd never heard about -- "Precious and the Puggies" and "Precious and the Monkeys." AMS can write 'em faster than I can read 'em. At present, I am half way through through "The Wedding' by Nicholas Sparks (a "retired" one I picked up at the library). I find Sparks stories refreshingly light, uncomplicated reading. And I'm just starting Generation A (sequel to Generation X) by Douglas Coupland. I wasn't crazy about Coupland's style in Gen X, but the sequel is supposed to be much better. It's a Book Group book so I'll read it for sure. Thanks for the list of nonfiction. I have reserved "Babylon's Ark" at the library, and I think Anthony wrote another after "The Elephant Whisperer." Oh, dear, so many books, so little time!

Posted by: Wendy | October 22nd, 2012

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I agree, Wendy - so many books, so little time. Not enough days in the week, hours in the day. Anthony's other book is "The Last Rhinos". Thanks for your comments about the 'X Gen' books and look forward to your review on your book club selection.
I have had Julian Barnes waiting in the wings of my Must Read Books but have only just brought out his "The Sense of an Ending" and am finding it difficult to put down. More about this very interesting, and oh so different, book another time.

Posted by: cynthia | October 28th, 2012

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Well, I finished Julian Barnes' THE SENSE OF AN ENDING but it is not a book one can close and forget. You keep trying to answer questions. This is a novella written in first person narrative in two parts. The first part recounts Tony Webster's (the narrator) student years and relationships with three friends and a strange, perhaps unstable, girlfriend. It is a story abut memory and getting old. In the second part Tony is in his early 60s and now the plot thickens. This is not a who-dunnit but it is a mystery where Tony tries to unravel the mystery behind his friend Adrien's suicide. And you, the reader, wonders, "Did Adrian ....?" "Did she ....?", "Did he ....?" and when Tony finally says "I got it" he leaves it to the reader to find the sense of an ending.
Have you read this book? If so, what do you think of the ending? A surprise? A disappointment?

Posted by: cynthia | November 1st, 2012

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http://www.quora.com/Reading-1/Why-do-people-who-love-reading-love-it-so-much#ans1709033

quora is a nice site for odd topics
Lately I seem to have been reading for escapism, as we are downsizing. It seems to be busy! busy! busy! most of the time, and at the end of the particular day we have hardly dented the stuff.

Probably that doesn't qualify for a book club, but perhaps quora can justify it?

Posted by: Geoff | November 13th, 2012

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THE SENSE OF AN ENDING sounds like a perfect book for book club reading, Cynthia. A mystery, with a lot of unanswered questions. Tomorrow. I will suggest it to the group. and to our library so they can round up enough books.

I have just finished GENERATION A by Douglas Coupland. Very well written and ironically humourous, it's a sort of sci-fi fantasy cum comment on today's society. Rather like Margaret Atwood's "Oryx and Crake,'" which I found scary. While the basic premise is a prophesy of life as we might know it down the road, the author also has much to say about the value of reading, language and the origins of words, I'm not really a sci-fi fan so I found it hard to stay focused.

Geoff, I don't envy you downsizing. I'd be escaping into books, too.

Posted by: Wendy | November 14th, 2012

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Downsizing is not much fun, Geoff, and can be quite stressful so enjoy your escapism reading to relax. The quora site is interesting. Thanks for that.
Wendy, the Barnes book covered only about 145 pages and your club members will probably be able to pass copies around. I will be interested to know what they had to say about the book.
The weather we are having lately makes me want to travel, so I am an armchair traveller wrapped up in CRAZY RIVER by Richard Grant, a new author to me. He writes with wit and curiosity and I am enjoying his descriptions of Africa and the people he meets as he makes his way to attempt the first descent of an unexplored river in Tanzania.

Posted by: cynthia | November 18th, 2012

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In a distinguished Club in London, England, the annual Bad Sex in Fiction Award was held in a ballroom rammed with a mix of literary toffs, random lowlifes and everything in between, free gin or champagne in hand. “The historic mandate of the Award is to draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant pages of sexual description in the modern novel and to discourage it” so says Alexander Waugh, grandson of the novelist Evelyn, son of the late Auberon who founded the prize in 1993. “You can’t write just any old rubbish with lots of bad sex. It has to be a good book that’s rather ruined by the bad sex”. Waugh adds about the annual gathering, “We don’t just stand around and titter. We absolutely ROAR with laughter”.
This year was an historic event as it is the first time a Canadian has won the Bad Sex in Fiction Award, Nancy Huston. “You wonder how any self respecting Canadian can write so badly about sex” writes the Canadian journalist in attendance. “You think of the earnest, quietly decent country you came from, a country where literary prizes are unironic and bad sex is neither celebrated nor generally mentioned at all. You feel a pang of homesickness”.
Ms Huston is a Calgarian. But then, she lives in Paris.
All in good fun.

On a more serious note, the Globe & Mail Best Seller (so they say) List will follow. In time, perhaps, for Christmas shopping?

Posted by: cynthia | December 11th, 2012

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In the meantime, while I am doing my Xmas shopping, how about THE BEST BOOKS I HAVE READ IN 2012 LIST. Any suggestions for this List?

Posted by: cynthia | December 11th, 2012

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The Sisters Brothers" by Patrick DeWitt was one of my favourites for 2012. A very different Western, told from the POV of hired killer, Eli. All the hardness, bawdiness and thuggery of the Wild West 1850s goldrush era, juxtaposed with surprisingly gentlemanly dialogue, sensitivity and kindness."The Sisters Brothers" (won tons of awards). is the sometimes hilarious, unlikely tale of a hired killer who is basically sensitive, kind and who hates his job. Eli dreams of going home to visit Mom, retiring, and settling down with a nice girl. But Eli is in a difficult co-dependent relationship with his gun-happy brother, who has no intention of changing his lifestyle. I don't usually enjoy reading Westerns, but as one reviewer said of The Sisters Brothers, "It practically holds a Colt to your head and growls: read me."

You may know Patrick DeWitt, Cynthia. He was born on Vancouver Island, then moved to Oregon.

Posted by: Wendy | December 12th, 2012

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My library had quite a number of copies of The Sisters Brothers, Wendy, and I was able to get one to read over Christmas. It has had great reviews and Patrick DeWitt has received many awards though he has, so far, written only two novels. I'm going to enjoy reading this book. Thanks, Wendy. I have read and enjoyed so many books during 2012 and it was hard to pick one - so I have chosen two in each category!
Fiction: RACING IN THE RAIN by Garth Stein - a memoir by a DOG! Something different. If you are a dog lover you can believe that when a dog dies it comes back as a human. LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN by Colum McCann - lives of different people intertwined and connected to a true happening. Great characterisation.
Non-Fiction: BEYOND BELFAST by Will Ferguson who travels around Northern Ireland with great humour but also grim tales of N.Ireland's history. IVORY APES AND PEACOCKS by Alan Root, his memoir of a dangerous and yet fascinating life.

Posted by: cynthia | December 15th, 2012

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The Globe & Mail Bestseller List has so very many listed so here are just the first three in each category:
FICTION: A WEEK IN WINTER by Maeve Binchy. THE RACKETEER by John Grisham. 419 by Will Ferguson.
NON FICTION: HOW TO TELL IF YOUR CAT IS PLOTTING TO KILL YOU by The Oatmeal an Matthew Inman. WAGING HEAVY PEACE by Neil Young. GRANDMA SAYS by Cindy Day.
HISTORICAL FICTION: WINTER OF THE WORLD by Ken Follett. THE HOUSE I LOVED by Tatiana de Rosnay. 1356 by Bernard Cornwell.
MYSTERY: (not on The Bestseller List, but recommended) THE BLACK BOX by Michael Connelly. STANDING IN ANOTHER MAN'S GRAVE by Ian Rankin. JACK REACHER: ONE SHOT by Lee Child. BEWARE THIS BOY by Maureen Jennings.

Posted by: cynthia | December 15th, 2012

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Thanks for the lists, Cynthia. THE SENSE OF AN ENDING, which you recommended, is next on my reading list.The library is bringing it in for me.

My book group met today to talk about 'The Sisters Brothers'. Nine people showed up, and we had one of the liveliest, most fun discussions ever (when our mouths weren't full of cake and Christmas goodies!). Almost everyone loved the book, and rated it a 9 (we rate them on a scale of 1-10), although some, who'd read the book was about hired gunmen, refused to read it at all. They missed out on a very cleverly written book. I'll be interested to hear what you think about it.

Wishing you, and all SL forumites. a joyous Christmas and a happy holiday season. All life's richest blessings of peace, love, health and happiness for the New Year, 2013.

Posted by: Wendy | December 20th, 2012

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Thanks for your wishes, Wendy. Always so pleased to hear from you! I will certainly post my comments about the Wild West after I have read the book - which may not be until after Xmas, but am looking forward to reading it.

Posted by: cynthia | December 21st, 2012

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A TRA LA LA AND A HO HO HUM to you all. If you have been nice and Santa still does not deliver those books you requested, just go out and buy yourself a few good books. Happy reading. Have a happy turkey day.

Posted by: cynthia | December 21st, 2012

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Thanks, Cynthia. Santa almost always leaves a book for me under the tree, and I think I've been nice -- so here's hoping...

Posted by: Wendy | December 21st, 2012

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A few post-Christmas quotes stolen from Writers Digest Magazine:

“Do give books—religious or otherwise—for Christmas. They’re never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal.”
—Lenore Hershey

“A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.”
—Garrison Keillor

“There’s nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.”
—Erma Bombeck

“In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it ‘Christmas’ and went to church; the Jews called it ‘Hanukkah’ and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say ‘Merry Christmas!’ or ‘Happy Hanukkah!’ or (to the atheists) ‘Look out for the wall!”
—Dave Barry

“This is the message of Christmas: We are never alone.”
—Taylor Caldwell

“What I don’t like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day.”
—Phyllis Diller (yeah, yeah, not a writer, but still.)

HAVE YOURSELF A VERY MERRY NEW YEAR!

Posted by: cynthia | December 30th, 2012

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Thanks, Cynthia, I am halfway through A SENSE OF AN ENDING, and finding it very thought provoking. Can't wait to reach the end to find out who did what.

Have a Merry, Best-of-Health and Happiness New Year.

Posted by: Wendy | January 1st, 2013

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I have finished reading THE SENSE OF AN ENDING,, Cynthia. I found the ending quite disturbing and, as you say, it's not a book one can close and forget about. Like you, I keep thinking -- did she? -- did they? -- was there some kind of bizarre family conspiracy? Very thought provoking and, I'm sure, would give rise to much discussion. as a Book Club book.

Posted by: Wendy | January 8th, 2013

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I agree, Wendy, that THE SENSE OF AN ENDING would be a good book for discussion. There have been many mixed reviews.
The SISTERS BROTHERS – guns, gold, whores and, yes, there’s violence but it’s the Wild West of the l800s. The narrator tells his story in journal form and I found I cared for the two brothers, especially tubby Eli the story-teller. The characters were believable and the story was unique. However at times I wondered how an uneducated gunslinger would write in an educated, sophisticated way using such phrases as: “aesthetic silence”, “fortuitous energy”, “she is a dynamo”, “verbatim report”, “bonafide heat” ….. Perhaps the story should have been “told to the writer by Eli Sister” for it to be more believable. Should I advise the author before the movie comes out? In spite of the bloodshed, I found this different type of Western hard to put down.

Posted by: cynthia | January 13th, 2013

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Interesting questions, Cynthia, and ones nobody in my group asked, although we did comment about the gentlemanly dialogue. I don't remember much about the Sisters brothers childhood, except that the eldest brother was brutalized by his father. Perhaps the mother, who seemed ladylike when described at the end in their tidy, freshly painted house, had seen to it that the boys had a good education. However, you are quite right, some of their expressions did seem over the top for gunslingers.

My Book Club's read for February is THE SENSE OF AN ENDING. It will be interesting to hear what they all think about it.

Posted by: Wendy | January 23rd, 2013

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I am looking forward to hearing your BC's comments, Wendy. After waiting for months to get "These Foolish Things" from the Library, I find myself skipping pages and trying not to give up on it and just to remember the movie (Marigold hotel). It was quite a different and enjoyable story. I have John Grisham's THE RACKETEER waiting to enjoy.

Posted by: cynthia | January 30th, 2013

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“I am a lawyer, and I am in prison. It’s a long story” so opens THE RACKETEER by John Grisham. It is a thriller/mystery that takes endless twists and turns. The protagonist is an innocent man who will attempt to pull off freedom that is seasoned with revenge. This is a good read for entertainment and escape, especially fun for those who would enjoy conning government agents. Some of the plot I found implausible and the violence of Nathan goes a bit overboard. But I enjoyed the book and the unpredictable story line kept me guessing to the end.

Posted by: cynthia | February 11th, 2013

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So you didn't like the book "These Foolish Things, "Cynthia? I have to admit I liked the movie better, too, which is different for me. I almost always like the detail of a book better than the big picture of a movie. The characters in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (especially the irrepressible innkeeper) were amazing, and the strong, visual images of hot, chaotic India brought it to life.

John Grisham is an excellent writer of thriller/mystery stories. I think his book " The Firm" is one of the best of it's genre I have ever read.

I have just finished reading Lawrence Anthony's book "The Last Rhinos." An amazing story of his fearlessness and incredible bravery in trying not only to save the last of the northern white rhinos, but to help end a decades old civil war. So sad that he died at such a young age. Only 61.

Posted by: Wendy | February 17th, 2013

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No, Wendy, I did not enjoy These Foolish Things. That and the movie were two quite different stories, or so I found. I have been waiting a long while for Lawrence Anthony's book BABYLONS ARK and have finally reached the end of the waiting list at the library, so will be getting into it as soon as I finish the last pages of Michael Connelly's THE BRASS VERDICT - quite a gripping mystery/thriller as are all his novels. I have THE LAST RHINOS downloaded on my Kindle and waiting for me. Am looking forward very much to reading that book, which you appear to have enjoyed, Wendy.

Posted by: cynthia | February 24th, 2013

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LIFE OF PI by Yann Martel. Lots of awards at the Oscars and good for Canada. I recommend you read the book before seeing the movie (Wendy?). It's a novel about the power of faith and I found it impossible to put down. Martel won the Man Booker Prize in 2002 for Life of Pi, plus many other awards at other times. He was born in 1963 in Spain of French-Canadian parents and has lived and travelled in many countries. He now lives in Saskatoon where he is the University's writer-in-residence.

Posted by: cynthia | February 26th, 2013

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I read and enjoyed LIFE OF PI some years ago, Cynthia. An amazing book. Can't wait to see the movie, which I hear is excellent.

THE LAST RHINOS was different from Anthony's other two books, He put himself at great personal risk. Huge stress, I would imagine. I enjoyed it, but it was rather sad knowing that he'd died There is a touching tribute to him at the end, written by his co-author, brother-in-law and friend, Graham Spence.

Posted by: Wendy | February 26th, 2013

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The Silmarillion by J.R.R.Tolkien The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
Illusions by Richard Bach The Honourable Schoolboy by John LeCarre
Daniel Martin by John Fowles The Book of Merlyn by T.H.White
Beggarman, Thief by Irwin Shaw The Black Marble by Joseph Wambaugh
Dynasty by Robert S.Elegant The Immigrants by Howard Fast

This was the New York Times Best Sellers List of 1978. So many great books and great writers still remembered now. And what happened to Herman Wouk the author of The Caine Mutiny, War and Rememberance, Marjorie Morningstar and others? Well, at the age of 97 he has just published a new book, Lawgiver. Way to go, Grandpa Wouk.

Posted by: cynthia | March 7th, 2013

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I didn't have much time for reading in 1978 --single mom with kids to raise and a full-time job. I read THE THORN BIRDS, but that was all.

Reading TAMARIND MEM by Anita Rau Badami, and just finished THE HERO'S WALK by the same author. Both excellent in describing complex family life in India. I had read the latter some years ago, but it was a book group selection so I read it again.

Posted by: Wendy | March 13th, 2013

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And now, Wendy, lots of catching up to do - but as we have commented before: so many books, not enough time!
I dont know Badami's books but have just picked up TELL IT TO THE TREES from the library. Her books have had rave reviews and I had to know more about this author so did a search. Anita Rau Badami was born in South India in 1961, educated at the University of Madras and Sophia College in Bombay. She emigrated to Canada in 1991 and earned her MA at the University of Calgary. Tamarind Mem, her first novel, grew out of her university thesis. "Her novels deal with the complexities of Indian family life and with the cultural gap that emerges when Indians move to the west". Her third novel, Can you Hear the Nightbird Call, covers the Golden Temple Massacre and the Air India Bombing that were both so tragic.

Posted by: cynthia | March 16th, 2013

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I have read CAN YOU HEAR THE NIGHTBIRD CALL, Cynthia. Most interesting because half of it is set in Vancouver, on Main Street, where many Indians settled.The other half of the book is set in India.Can't remember which region, but close to the Golden Temple. The book moves between life in both places.

Posted by: Wendy | March 17th, 2013

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WAKE UP by Tim Pears. He has a wry sense of humour and an engaging way of writing (pull up a chair and join me while I tell you my story). I am half way through this paperback I found at a sale table and am really enjoying his tale. However it is going to change. According to the blurb on the jacket it is "a deeply unsettling novel... a tale of a genetic engineering experiment going spectacularly wrong". Haven't reached that part yet. Many years ago I read 'A Place of Fallen Leaves' which I loved. A very different story to 'Wake Up'. His second book 'In a Land of Plenty' was adapted into a major BBC TV series. Tim Pears was born in 1956 in the UK and lives in Oxford with his wife and two children.

Posted by: cynthia | March 28th, 2013

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I will be living in boxes while I prepare for a move and to make sure I keep up with the sorting and packing etc., I have to cut down on reading time and fooling around with my computer. However, there is lots of space here for anyone to fill. Read any good books lately? Or bad ones? What would you suggest? Or not? Let's hear all about your present or past reading.
Until another time, HAPPY READING TO ALL.

Posted by: cynthia | March 28th, 2013

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Hope you enjoy your new home, Cynthia, but don't forget to bookmark the place here and get back to us as soon as you can.

I am reading and enjoying The Soldier's Wife, by Margaret Leroy. Published in 2011, I'm rather surprised that another story about the German occupation of Guernsey (remember the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society?) during WW2 found its way to a publisher, but it describes well the atrocities and helplessness of people at war, and is also a story of love and compassion.

Posted by: Wendy | April 5th, 2013

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Just dropped back in. We downsized, moved to a retirement place, and moved back to our condo after two months. This kind of activity is very disruptive to reading.
Your discussions have given me some more authors to try. Thank you!
We have both tried McCall-Smith, and we enjoyed the Scottish lady very much, but couldn't get into the African series.
I remember the Guernsey L&PPP Society very well, the heroine sounded like a fabulous person, but never actually appeared.
Does anyone recall a book about a letter that a woman wrote after she left town, and left everyone wondering who her (married?) boyfriend had been? That is one I would like to read again. It might have been a movie, too.

Posted by: Geoff | July 17th, 2013

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Welcome back, Geoff. Obviously, you didn't like living in a retirement place. Was it too restrictive? the food? the care? Hope you are happily settled again in your condo.

I am rather concerned about Cynthia. After starting the Book Group and been its constant moderator since 2009, she has never posted anything since preparing for her move in March. Uncharacteristic of her, especially as she was encouraging other posters. So, if you're out there, Cynthia, please post something -- anything, so we know you're okay.

Sorry, Geoff, I don't know the title of the book you are looking for. But Cynthia was a librarian, so she might.

I have just finished reading The Measure of a Man by J J Lee. An interesting and very different memoir in that the author weaves into his life story facts about tailoring and the history of suits. J J Lee is going to be talking about his book to our book club in Ladner in the Fall. I am so looking forward to hearing him speak.

Posted by: Wendy | July 20th, 2013

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Here I am - alive and well, though with a spinning head! Thank you for your thoughts, Wendy (how nice to hear from you), and a very welcome back, Geoff. Hope you have nicely settled into your condo, and happily.
I upsized rather than downsized into a large 2-bedder and ever since my move I have had a string of relatives and friends making use of that extra room. No time for books (as you know, Geoff) but I have been doing quick checks here. I still have company but should be back to "normal" next week and can chat about books. Look forward so much to joining you again.

Posted by: cynthia | July 21st, 2013

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Good to hear you are alive and well, Cynthia. I was beginning to wonder what had happened to you. Worried that someone had locked you in a room somewhere WITHOUT YOUR COMPUTER -- or worse. :-( Thanks for posting -- I look forward to chatting with you soon :-)

Posted by: Wendy | July 21st, 2013

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I remembered the Movie, A LETTER TO THREE WIVES, and found the associated book that way,and now have a hold on it. I'll comment later.
It's good to see the club come to life, I was afraid you had all given up.

Posted by: Geoff | July 24th, 2013

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Given up? Never! We ain't never gonna give up, Geoff. Never! Good that you decided to join us again. Thought you'd given up, too. :-)

Posted by: Wendy | July 25th, 2013

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No, Wendy, never say never. Especially as we are approaching the fourth anniversary of this Club (and your posts have helped keep us going).
How did The Soldiers Wife compare to The GLPPP Society, Wendy? Another novel about a war-time romance is Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum. This one is from the perspective of Anna, a German, who falls in love with an older Jewish doctor, her futile efforts to hide him and how she suffers at the hands of the SS to ensure her daughter's survival.
Geoff, I am looking forward to reading your comments about the book you mentioned, A Letter to Three Wives. Who is the author? How lucky that you were able to track down the book. Good detective work!

Posted by: cynthia | July 28th, 2013

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Hi Cynthia, good to see you here again.

The Soldier's Wife compared was similar to GlPPP Society, descriptions of life on Guernsey, food shortages etc. MC, husband at war, falls in love with a married German soldier, and risks the safety of her family when she tries to hide POW. I have added Those Who Save Us to my reading list.

Have not been reading as much during the summer, although I did read A Girl From the South, by Joanna Trollope. Set in London and Charleston, it is a story about the many choices and indecision of children born to parents of the '60s and 70s.

Posted by: Wendy | July 29th, 2013

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Nor have I been reading much, Wendy, but I have been browsing library and bookstore shelves for books I would like to read. I haven't read any of Trollope's books but might start on A Girl from the South which you mention.
I have had a love/hate relationship with the books of Paul Theroux but because I like to read about Africa, I want to try his latest, LAST TRAIN TO ZONA VERDE which he hints might be his last (book or travel?).
If any of you follow the popular British tv series Upstairs Downstairs and Dowton Abbey, these memoirs by Margaret Powell would interest you. They apparently inspired the tv series. BELOW STAIRS and also CLIMBING THE STAIRS. Powell was in service as a cook in London homes (though not the high society ones) in the 1900s.
Colum McCann who wrote Let the Great World Spin (a great book that I enjoyed and recommend) has a new book, TRANSATLANTIC. This novel is partly based on the true story of Alcock and Brown, WW1 pilots who attempt to fly non-stop over the Atlantic in 1919.
and finally:
INSTEAD OF A LETTER by Diana Athill. Born in 1917 to an upper class English family, this is the memoir of the author's happy childhood in the English countryside.

Posted by: cynthia | July 31st, 2013

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We follow both the Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey series, Cynthia. Love them both so I'm going to try to find the books by Margaret Powell. Julian Fellowes does a fab job of writing the script for Downton Abbey and must have researched it well. Apparently, he is a regular guest of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon at Highclere Castle where the DA series is filmed. I'm from Yorkshire so I love all things English. Are you from England, too, Cynthia? Somehow I gathered you are?

Posted by: Wendy | August 3rd, 2013

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These Foolish Things.

Quite fascinating, with the complex family problems. Interesting bits about the local culture, though I always thought that eunuchs were only in sultans’ harems. Huge coincidence at the end, when Keith arrives without even knowing that his mother is in Bangalore.
I was surprised that Sonny suggested a promotion video with a hummingbird in it, as he was a native of the area, and there are no hummingbirds anywhere in Asia.

Watching the Dark:

Good read. I stayed up until midnight to finish it. I had no idea that a slave labour racket existed
in Britain.

The Soldier’s Wife:

I almost gave up in the first few pages, as Vivienne seemed such a fussy character. The story developed very well, and became horrifying in places. For a respectable lady, she seemed to hop into bed with the German rather hastily, and I am not at all convinced that he was actually in love with her (Maybe just too polite to say NO!). Once again, I learnt some more history.

La’s Orchestra Saves the World, Alexander McCall Smith.

AMS is amazing! Jean and I are well into the Isabel Dalhousie series, and then this one popped up. I do have a tendency to read stories of Great Britain and WWII, as I was a kid in London when it started. Obviously my next step must be the 44 Scotland Yard series. Possibly there will be a male protagonist?

Many thanks for new authors to read.

A recent read was NATURE GIRL, by Carl Hiaasen. Yet another female protagonist, who decides to get revenge on a tele-marketer who interrupts her dinner. This leads to a truly remarkable series of events. Highly amusing!

Re: A Letter to Three Wives.
I could only get the DVD, and it is a good movie. Three women are going to help out at a large picnic day on an island, and just as they get on the boat the letter arrives from a woman who is noted for her style around town. It says she is leaving town, and one husband is going with her. So suspense and red herrings, combined with flashbacks to tell the story.

Posted by: Geoff | August 6th, 2013

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Many thanks for your reviews and comments, Geoff. I have added Watching the Dark to my reading list. If you stayed up until midnight to finish it, it must be interesting. And I had never heard about a slave labour racket in Britain, either.

I was inclined to agree with you about Vivienne's almost instant romance with the German soldier in The Soldier's Wife, until I remembered that she and her husband had not been happy together for some years, that he was involved with another woman. Her loneliness made it believable. The part I found hardest to believe was how she kept the affair secret from her family right inside the house. If the coughing of the POW carried through the walls, their voices would have done so, too. And the Germans next door -- the soldier's disappearances must have been noticed by his comrades.


No male or female protagonist in AMSs 44 Scotland Street series, Geoff, but a whole cast of unforgettable characters. You'll meet Angus Lordie and his not-always-popular dog, Cyril, and Matthew and Bruce, and adorable wee Bertie; Domenica, Pat and Big Lou. The series started as a daily newspaper serial (maybe it still is), and has become hugely popular. I'm sure you and Jean will find the stories entertaining.

As one who hates telemarketers with a passion, I absolutely have to read Nature Girl. Sounds like my kind of story.

Haven't read A Letter to Three Wives, but it sounds intriguing so I have added it to my list too.

Again, many thanks for your comments. Happy reading!

Posted by: Wendy | August 6th, 2013

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Wendy, to answer your question: Yes, Doc Martin country and citizen of the world!

Geoff, I do enjoy reading your posts and it is helpful to have your synopsis and reviews of the books you read. Thanks.
You might be interested in reading BURY THE CHAINS by Adam Hochschild. This is a very readable history of the events that lead to the abolishment of the British slave trade and ultimately the abolishment of slavery in the Colonies. Fascinating and an eye-opener.

Posted by: cynthia | August 7th, 2013

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In April last year there was a post from Meg to let us know Amazon had accepted her book for publication. I have only just tracked it down. A belated congratulations, Meg. Good news.
MAGGIE'S DREAM - Escape from Ireland. By Margaret Williams.

Posted by: cynthia | August 7th, 2013

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Soldier's Wife.
Yes, Wendy, I had forgotten Vivienne's affaire.
I think the other Germans knew, and thought he was lucky. There would no military offense, I believe.

AMS.
Oddly, I remember Big Lou in one book, but nobody else. I guess I should do a memory scan to check for bad sectors?
3 Wives, DVD only, some familiar actors from later TV.

Now I have a couple more books to look for. Thanks.

Posted by: Geoff | August 7th, 2013

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Oops ! A misunderstanding - I read "slave labour" in your and Wendy's posts, Geoff, and thought "slave trade" which made me think of the book I had read, Bury the Chains. Was it WATCHING THE DARK by Peter Robinson that you were referring to?

Posted by: cynthia | August 7th, 2013

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“I was set down from the carrier’s cart at the age of three; and there with a sense of bewilderment and terror my life in the village began”.
So starts CIDER WITH ROSIE by Laurie Lee. This author is famous in the UK for three autobiographical books, especially the first, CIDER WITH ROSIE which dealt with his childhood in a village in the Cotswolds in the West of England. It is a lyrical and haunting story of growing up in innocent times, of the quirky characters living in the village and the superstitions and beliefs of the old folk. He and his 7 siblings play in a ruined cottage “roof-fallen, in a garden run wild … a damp dark ruin in the damp depth of the wood. To this silent, birdless, sunless shambles we returned again and again”.
At the age of 20 Laurie Lee takes a long rambling walk to London with his violin, busking along the way. He recounts his adventures in AS I WALKED OUT ONE MIDSUMMER MORNING. Because Spain is not so far away and because he knows a few words of Spanish, he decides to visit Iberia where he discovers and loves the Spanish living, and the senoritas discover and love him. Franco interrupts Laurie Lee’s Spanish adventure when the Civil War breaks out and he has to return to London. Undaunted, he returns to Spain to join the International Brigade. A MOMENT OF WAR recounts those experiences.
Cider with Rosie was required reading in schools and Universities in Britain.
He and his lyrical writings were revered in England and Spain and he received very many awards. In 1988 a statue was erected in a Spanish village in Iberia. Unfortunately Laurie Lee is not well known in N.America – I was lucky to have found a rather battered copy of Cider at my library and am reading it again.
In 1997 Laurie Lee died at the age of 82. And England mourned.

Posted by: cynthia | August 8th, 2013

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There are avid readers who would like to discuss the books they have read and enjoyed, or not. Unfortunately too many are confined to their homes for various reasons and cannot join a Book Discussion Group, or are hearing impaired and would find it difficult to be in such a group. For all those, especially, this Book Club would be a way to get involved in discussions and reviews about all those books you have read, or are reading.

Posted by: cynthia | August 21st, 2013

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Cynthia -- what do you think of the idea of someone (you perhaps?) suggesting a book we could all read within, say, a month. Many of us could borrow the book from the library, or buy it, or download it on Kindle. We could choose a day, say the second Tuesday of each month, to open discussion and reviews of the given book. At that time someone (you or anyone with a recommendation) could select another book to read for the following month. There may be more interest and discussion if we all read the same book. Just a thought.

Other books read and reviewed always acceptable, of course.

Posted by: Wendy | August 21st, 2013

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Thanks for your good idea, Wendy. This would be like an offline book discussion group? Well worth a try. Perhaps starting in Sept., once holidays are over and there's more time for reading, anyone can post a suggestion for a book to read (or an author in case there are not enough copies of that book available). Then readers can post comments and review the book (or books/author) from the first week of October. Any other suggestions from anyone? Wendy, would you monitor this book discussion? That would be great.

Posted by: cynthia | August 22nd, 2013

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Perhaps, to see how much interest there is, we can ask for book suggestions until the end of September as we are only a week away from the end of August. I will be out of town until mid-September, so can't monitor the discussion group until after that.

Posted by: Wendy | August 22nd, 2013

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Good idea, Wendy. So, starting now: BOOK SUGGESTIONS PLEASE! Let's hear from you and you and you . . . .

Monday the candles come out to celebrate our FOURTH year! Where did the time go? We certainly have a whole library full of books mentioned in this forum. Thanks, Wendy, for your input and support since day one. Have a good "out of town".

Posted by: cynthia | August 23rd, 2013

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The grands and greatgrands will be back in school soon and there will be time to catch up and enjoy all those books that have been waiting. Enjoy!
I will be busy now getting ready for a trip and wont be back until late November, when I will post what the Australians are reading. I am looking forward to finding out. In the meantime, happy reading to all.

Posted by: cynthia | August 23rd, 2013

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I guess my schooling was a bit too soon for Laurie Lee's Spanish Civil War. And we did have our own war going on at the time.

I anticipate more new (to me) authors with the monthly book club suggestions, even though I do have a preference for our current system.

I think I saw a reference to Donald Westlake a while back, with his collection of cleverly inept criminals. Does anyone know of any similar crime caper writers?

A bit of a shock with A. McCall Smith in the last books about Isabel Dalhousie. I think in LOST AFFAIRS OF YOUTH she quotes a limerick, and compares it to Edward Lear's efforts. Hers had far too many syllables, and was very hard to scan. A Limerick’s beats are quite few
Eight or nine in lines 1, 5 and 2
Line 3 and line 4
Have but 5 or 6 more
With the rhyming as in this review Lear's all scan, but appealed much more to me as a teenager than they do now. In THE UNCOMMON APPEAL OF CLOUDS, she starts an unfinished haiku with two four-word lines. It certainly could have become a poem, as her images are always beautiful. I apologize (not very sincerely) for this, but both these forms are almost the only ones I use myself. In this book there is also a discussion about Canadian legislation on the adoption/fostering of First Nations children being restricted to First Nations families on the grounds of cultural disruption. As this was requested by First Nations, the whole discussion seemed to be moot.

Posted by: Geoff | August 23rd, 2013

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I should add that I love books.

Posted by: Geoff | August 23rd, 2013

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Australia, where in Australia, Cynthia? I have cousins in Aussie land that I haven't seen since I was a child. I'd love to visit them so Australia in the spring (I can't take extreme heat) is high on my bucket list. I'm going to be quite a way out of town too. Going to Italy and France -- the Italian Riviera, the French Riviera, Provence and Paris. A self-conducted tour. Should be great fun, and I can find out what the French and Italians are reading too.

Posted by: Wendy | August 23rd, 2013

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Don't worry, Geoff, we won't change the present system too much. We can still discuss and review books other than the book of the month. Many thanks -- I ordered and will pick up tomorrow "Nature Girl," a book you recommended in August. It looks like a light read for travelling, both in weight and subject matter. Light in cost too, only $7.99. I'm planning to write a short review once I've read it, then leave it at an airport or railway station for some other person's enjoyment.

Do you write poetry? A McCall Smith, obviously an admirer of Auden, always has at least one poem in his Scotland Street books. Usually said to be the creation of Angus Lordie, a character in the series, but written by author AMS himself.

Posted by: Wendy | August 23rd, 2013

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Poetry? Doggerel, haikus, and limericks.

CORDUROY MANSIONS, by AMS. Just found this, and thought it must be the Scotland Street series, as it had a dog on the cover. The vegetarian dog is Freddie de la Haye, and the tenants of Corduroy Mansions have a set of complex outside relationships. All entertaining
Agatha Raisin series, by MC Beaton, I find Agatha very amusing. She manages to bumble along, while also being very smart, and getting mixed up in crime scenes. Any violence is usually reported third hand, which to me is an excellent trait.

I was beginning to think I must be searching out only female protagonists, but then I remembered MC Beaton’s other books, with Hamish Macbeth, the only policeman in a tiny village. Lochdubh, on the west coast of Scotland has a large cast of village characters, who can be relied upon to frustrate poor Hamish much of the time.

Corpses occur in these books, but only bloodlessly. I really can’t describe it any better than that.

THE ANDERSON TAPES Lawrence Sanders. Interesting format, the whole story is put together as if recorded by various agencies at assorted criminal hangouts. No coordination to prevent the planned crime, but a great surprise intervention to wrap it up.

VOODOO SCIENCE, Robert Park. It’s wonderful how the snake oil salespeople have adapted to scientific advances. With a perpetual motion machine you can become independent from BC Hydro, and quantum theory can assure you a long and pain-free life, If only they worked!

Posted by: Geoff | August 30th, 2013

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Readers' Thanksgiving Limerick

Many thanks for the authors who pleasure
Day by day in luxurious measure.
We count each as friend
For their gifts without end,
Which add extreme pleasure to leisure.

Posted by: Geoff | October 14th, 2013

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test

Posted by: Dan | October 17th, 2013

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test

Posted by: Anonymous | October 21st, 2013

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Goodbye Thanksgiving, Hello Halloween,
Already the ghosts and the goblins have been
Up to mischief and tricks --
My computer was nixed
Hence my posts and my comments not seen

Contrats on the Thanksgiving limerick, Geoff! Good job!

Posted by: Wendy | October 21st, 2013

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Great one for Hallowe'en, Wendy.
Those spooks are on the phantom drive (Drive OOOH), which runs invisibly in parallel with the D drive. They got at me when I tried to post this a couple of days ago!

DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC, by Paul Offit, M.D.
This has nothing to do with Hallowe'en. It is the story of alternative medicine,and how it fails to meet any standards whatsoever. Anything "natural" is good, any drug that has undergone years of testing is "bad". By this standard, it's OK if your child eats deer poop or drinks from a ditch.
I wouldn't have thought that having needles stuck in you was natural, but is they are in your chi lines, it's good. There are 12 chi lines because China has 12 major rivers, which I don't think can have much to do the health of Westerners. (Stop, Geoff, Enough!)
For the sake of your wallet, you should read this one.

Posted by: Geoff | October 29th, 2013

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Many thanks for the heads-up, Geoff. I am not into alternative medicine, in fact I'm off for a flu shot tomorrow. :-) Don't think I'll even read DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC.

Posted by: Wendy | November 4th, 2013

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The Art of Racing in the Rain, a love story involving car racing, and with a little drama, is told from the point of view of an entertaining and insightful dog. Enzo believes his time on earth is the step to his next life as a human. He is looking forward to having a tongue with which to speak, and thumbs! Author Garth Stein

Posted by: Lee | November 8th, 2013

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I have had trouble posting, but hopefully solved my problem today.

Welcome to the Book Group, Lee. I've added The Art of Racing... to my must-read list. A story told from a dog"s point of view is certainly different. I look forward to reading it.

Posted by: Wendy | November 30th, 2013

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After four years of moderating this Book Club I was suddenly "forbidden" to post because of some technical glitch which apparently cannot be fixed. I am trying to post via a different browser (that I dont even like using) just to let everyone know I have not abandoned the Club - no way. It is unfortunate that this has happened.
You have managed, Wendy, by using your tablet. You have been a staunch supporter of the Club since day one. Thank you.
Geoff, I hope you will be back with your interesting posts and poems.
Lee, I have wanted you to know that I read the Art of Racing .. some time ago and absolutely loved it. Read it with tears and laughter and hoped that all my long departed and loved pets are still around me. Thanks for your posting.
I dont know what will happen with this technical problem but I hope I can get back to the Book Club. I have so enjoyed being a part of it. To all of you, past members and everyone looking in, I am sure you have all been nice this last year and that the Fat Man in Red will deliver all the books you hope to get. A happy Christmas and Hanukah to you all and to all a Very Merry New Year.

Posted by: cynthia | December 8th, 2013

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Welcome back, Cynthia, we've missed you. I guess I have been naughty because Senior Santa has "Forbidden" my posts too. Admin suggested the following. It worked, but only once and then I was locked out again. See if it works this time...

Admin said: What we’d like you to try is clear your browser, so clearing cookies, temporary internet files, history etc. See if that solves the issue. If it doesn’t or if you need help figuring out how to do that please contact me. Here’s an article on how to do it for various different browsers http://pcsupport.about.com/od/browsers/f/clear-cache.htm

Posted by: Wendy | December 9th, 2013

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Okay. It did work today, but only after I cleared the cookies again. Perhaps you could try it and see if it works for you, Cynthia.

I haven't been reading as much this year, but I did read half of Barney's Version by Mordecai Richler. Only half because I ran out of time before my library Book Club met to discuss it. It is very well written, but Barney and his buddies cruisin' through the 50s and 60s, crazily high on booze and drugs most of the time, did not catch my interest until it was too late. The story centres round Barney and his three wives, and there is a murder mystery which is not solved until the last page. The book has won numerous awards and some of my Book Group rated it very highly. Others, like me, found it pretty heavy going in places.

I also read The Spark by Kristine Barnett. A memoir, an amazing true story of a woman's fight for her autistic son. Jake, normal for the first year, is, at eighteen months, unresponsive and regressing into silence. Kristine fights to pull him out of some of his autistic tendencies, coaches him for mainstream education and stays with him as his genius for astrology, physics and the sciences emerges. Jake, it is discovered, has an IQ higher than Einstein. A must-read for all parents or anyone raising a child, typical but especially a child who is autistic, has Asperger's syndrome, or who is different.

Posted by: Wendy | December 9th, 2013

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Hello and a very merry Christmas to all.
I think (just hoping too) that I am back and that I am no longer "forbidden" to post. Will submit and keep my fingers crossed. Perhaps Santa will help.

Posted by: cynthia | December 25th, 2013

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Yep. He helped.
Hope to chat in the new year with you and you and you and .. . ...

Posted by: cynthia | December 25th, 2013

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test

Posted by: cynthia | December 26th, 2013

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Hi Cynthia,
I must share with you about my lovely bookish Christmas surprise. I won a copy of 100 DAYS THAT CHANGED CANADA, Canada's history told in text and pictures in a beautiful coffee table book, courtesy of our library. All I did was guess how many candy canes were in a jar. I was so surprised and pleased when they called to say I'd won.

Wishing you, and everyone, peace, joy and every happiness in the New Year -- and happy reading, of course.

Posted by: Wendy | December 27th, 2013

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Congratulations, Wendy. What a great prize.

Still having problems with posting but hope to solve it.

Posted by: cynthia | December 29th, 2013

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I'm still having problems posting, too, but I'll try again.

I have just finished reading THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN by Garth Stein, a book recommended here by Lee. Set in Seattle, the book has everything: love, a heart-tugging storyline, redemption and danger. Canine narrator Enzo shares his wise and worldly views about himself, his life and the lives of his troubled small but dearly loved human family -- intervening, when he absolutely has to, by offsetting disaster with his own paws. A thoughtful, entertaining and cleverly written book.

Posted by: Wendy | January 21st, 2014

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To see if I can post twice in the same day without clearing cookies.

Just read THE ART OF HEARING HEARTBEATS, by Jan-Philipp Sendker. Set NYC and Burma,, Julia sets out to find her father, who has mysteriously disappeared. A tender coming of age tale, wrapped up in a modern woman's journey to find out the truth about her exotic and ultimately unreachable father, this book will mesmerize you with its many poetic turns of phrase. But in the end you will feel like a better person for having experienced an unconditional love story that spans ages, continents, cultures and families.

Posted by: Wendy | January 21st, 2014

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Another recent read -- SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT, by Beth Hoffman. Also a coming of age story, Cecelia, age twelve, has been living a nightmare for years with a mentally sick mother and an ineffectual, absentee father. After a family crisis, CeeCee is whisked away to live in Savannah with generous great-aunt Tootie, her maid Oletta, and a host of kindly but eccentric friends.

Posted by: Wendy | January 21st, 2014

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Cynthia, Geoff -- anyone. You haven't posted in a while. What have you been reading?

Posted by: Wendy | January 22nd, 2014

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Hmm. I have been able to post for two consecutive days without being "Forbidden." Perhaps the problem with posting has been solved :-) Or maybe the access times out if one keeps the page open too long. Just a thought.

Posted by: Wendy | January 22nd, 2014

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Hardly time to read!!
A stroke in early Dec., sixteen days in VGH no internet. Then home loaded with visiting children and assorted therapists.
Hope to read DRIVING IN THE RAIN soon.
Is there a way to go to the end of the posts without scrolling down?
I've also had "Script" problems with the page on my laptop Win 8.1, and I see others have had some other problems.
It seems possible it is only a problem with the laptop. Did anyone else have "Unresponsive script" alerts?
It,s good to be back and reading.

Posted by: Geoff | January 22nd, 2014

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Oooh! So sorry to read about your stroke, Geoff, but pleased to see you back here.

No, I don't think there is a way to go to the end of the posts without scrolling down. If there is, I haven't found it. I haven't had any "Unresponsive script" alerts, only the " Forbidden" ones. Will be interesting to see if I can post this without clearing cookies again.

Take care, Geoff. Happy reading!

Posted by: Wendy | January 22nd, 2014

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Yay! I was able to post without clearing cookies. If the problem has been solved and we are no longer "Forbidden," many thanks SL techy man.

Posted by: Wendy | January 22nd, 2014

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Re; scrolling down.
I found that the "end" key on the calculator section flips to the end, which I suppose it should.
I thought it only affected the calculator itself.

Posted by: Geoff | February 9th, 2014

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Brilliant, Geoff! We live and learn. Many thanks for passing on your discovery.

I have just finished reading JEST OF GOD by Margaret Laurence. Written in the 1960s, it's about a woman living with her manipulative, gently domineering mother, trying to carve out a life for herself. Very '60s but still relevant today.

Posted by: Wendy | February 10th, 2014

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test - still forbidden?

Posted by: cynthia | February 13th, 2014

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I really enjoyed "The Woefield Poultry Collective" by Susan Juby - a local author who lives in Nanaimo - nominated for a Leacock award for humor - hilarious - her first book for adults though I really enjoyed the Miss Smithers series for young adults as well ( I am 69)

Posted by: Karin Franzen | February 27th, 2014

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Hi Karin, welcome to the book club. Reading and writing helps stimulate the brain for us "youngsters," so they say, and I do think it's beneficial. Reading keeps our wheels turning by providing food for thought and memory. It adds humour (like the Susan Juby book you just read), excitement (whodunits and adventure) and knowledge (non-fiction and fiction with a different point of view or culture). I have loved to read for as long as I can remember.
I must add the Susan Juby book to my reading list. "Alice, I Think" is the only one of hers I have read and that was years ago. A fun coming-of-age story, if I remember correctly. Thank you for suggesting it.

Posted by: Wendy | March 2nd, 2014

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I just found that the "end" key on the calculator pad doesn't work today, but the other one, in the row with the function keys does. Please do not request explanations.

Posted by: Geoff | March 4th, 2014

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Every few weeks I have tried posting only to be slapped aside, and today I tried once more in another forum ---------- surprise, I was accepted. At least for now. Hopefully. Are any of the BC members around? Remember me? Wendy, Geoff? Anyone? I have missed you all and missed reading all the book posts and reviews. Keeping my fingers crossed as I 'submit' . . . . .

Posted by: cynthia | May 5th, 2014

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Hi Cynthia,
Good the hear your voice again :-) I'm still here. I visit the site every once in a while, but I haven't posted anything as everyone had lost interest in the Book Club, or so I thought. I had problems accessing the site too, and may still. . . One thing I have learned (at this and other sites) is to copy my post before I press "send." That way, if it is not accepted, I can do the "clear cache" thing, and then try again. The admin had a serious glitch. Maybe... hopefully, they were able to fix it.

I just finished reading STILL ALICE by Lisa Genova. It's an insightful, professionally written book; a happy, sad, believable story about a brilliant woman, just turning fifty, at the height of her career as a professor at Harvard, who starts to develop symptoms of early-onset Altzheimers. An excellent read. At once a beautiful and terrifying look at what we golden-oldie folks, and the ones we love, might have to face down the road.

Before that I read, A FINE BALANCE, by Rohinton Mistry again. One of my favourite books and very educational about life, traditions and the caste system in India.

I'm still " Fobidden" unless I clear the cache, so I guess the glitch can't be fixed. :-(

Posted by: Wendy | May 6th, 2014

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testng again

Posted by: cynthia | June 29th, 2014

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This BOOK CLUB has closed but is continuing under the title BOOK DISCUSSION CLUB 2.
Please join us there and let us know what you have read/are reading, start a discussion, review a book/author .. .. .. .. anything to do with books. Look forward to hearing from you, and you and you ---

Posted by: cynthia | July 18th, 2014

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Our new Book Discussion Club 2 can be found filed under "Other". Do join us.

Posted by: cynthia | October 4th, 2014

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Like many of you I really Love reading Alexandra McCall Smith and I'm lucky enough to have the complete 44, Scotland Road series. However after completing "Expresso Tales" I have just started reading "Love Over Scotland" and I'm very disappointed to find that the issues resolved in Expresso Tales are now unresolved in the next book. The wonderful anthropologist Domenica, who returned from the Malacca Straits and ends Expresso Tales with a dinner party for friends is back there and unlikely to return for some time. Pat, who left Wolf and who started a relationship with her boss Matthew, in the previous book is only just meeting up with Wolf in the next. I am reluctant to read any more in case I discover that Bertie's trip to Paris didn't happen after all, it was such a wonderful success for him and he so needed to get away from the dreadful Irene for once. Can anyone please tell me that the remaining books do not have continuity problems like this? Otherwise I am not sure I want to continue reading them.

Posted by: Su Davis | October 20th, 2014

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Hello Su and welcome. I know there are many readers who are avid fans of McCall Smith's books and would answer your query. Because this Book Club has closed and will not be active, I have taken the liberty to copy/paste your submit in the on going BOOK DISCUSSION CLUB 2. I look forward to more posts from you about your reading likes and dislikes.

Posted by: cynthia | October 20th, 2014

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