Monday, December 01, 2014

What I've Been Reading

The Best of November

What's not to love here? A working-class family who lived large, but responsibly, who loved each other and played well together, but also weathered bumps in the road. I like "normal people" memoirs. No one was molested (It IS tragic, I'm not belittling it), no one descended into heroin addiction (ditto) and everyone made it thru each day. Grandparents were people to be loved and enjoyed, food was a crucial part of family life and there was always the Legion for Friday nights. This is the best of the best of non-fiction. If you enjoy books like this then I also recommend fellow blogger Susan Barnett Braun's I Love to Tell The Story. Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good by Kathleen Flinn.Highly Recommended.

I just plain enjoy David Nicholls style. I enjoyed his earlier novel, One Day, but liked US even more. This was one of three family stories I read this month told from the husband/father's perspective. While Connie and I had our moments and I did not resolve that, I liked everyone in this story to some degree--even the hitchhiking teen with the accordion. I also loved how this book quickly "told" me who should play which character in the sure-to-be-movie. Bill Nighy MUST play Douglas in the movie and Julie Walters as Connie. Love it when perfect cast presents itself! Don't skip this one! US by David Nicholls. Highly Recommended.

A 50-something school teacher finds himself widowed and back "on the market." He does NOT set out to meet women. He doesn't have to--the kids do that and word-of-mouth. Too funny on the way an "available man" of that age [my age] is pounced on. A guy who had to beg for a date in college will be over run with would-be suitors at this age. I loved Edward's sweet memories of his wife, Bee and his gentle care for her elderly mother. I loved, too, another character in this book who is a champ and that's all I can say without a spoiler! An Available Man by Hilma Wolitzer.
The Rest of November

A high-powered New York couple and their resume-built-from-birth teenage daughter escape to Spain for a two week vacation with family and friends. I liked the gay man who was ambivielnt about starting a family with the man he loves. I also thought the girl friend was a cut above the son. The Vacationers by Emma Straub.

UGH! I LOVE this series, but Patrick Taylor you are BORING ME TO DEATH with stuff that should have an asterisk and a footnote! I don't want stilted conversations that are lifted from a medical text book or, this time, from the Royal Navy handbook for officers. And, jeeze Pete! is there a literate human being who doesn't understand "Davy Jones Locker?" Need we have a Welsh Royal Navy Doctor named, you guessed it! Davy Jones TELL us the meaning? UGH! And if Dr. O'Riley is so smart he can become a doctor why is it he's suddenly forgotten every bit of navy terminology he ever knew? Oh please.....

And why must GREAT series get bogged down in telling us who everyone is and how they met? Are editors really so stupid that they think readers can't consult a "Cast of Characters" in the front of the book????? Subtract all of this garbage and eventually you get to our beloved Kinky, Fingal, Barry, Kitty, Arthur Guiness and Lady MacBeth. What a shame we have to wade thru the bogs to find them. Give us what we love and skip the endless rehashes and jargon already--we don't have to know every silly detail of the ship to understand he's in the Navy.

Please give us the STORY!! I love the interplay of these characters who are now like beloved old friends. Sadly each "new" part of the story recently has been jargon, definitions, newspaper headlines etc. Just write the story. If we don't understand, we'll Google it!

Sadly, we barely get to know Diedre and why Fingal liked her! That's the NEXT book. Please, Patrick Taylor, PLEASE, PLEASE go back to ONE story at a time and STOP with all the definitions and dialogue like [paraphrased] "She's in the Women's Land Army....Oh? Is that what they're now calling the women who work on the land..." Give us the people we love--the people that make this series so delightful. Not specifics of naval guns. THERE IS a wee bit of story in here that's really worth it, but boy do you have to dig to find it. Please stop trying to be trendy and confusing us to death with shifting time periods. Fingal and Deirdre or "current" Ballybuckebo. If we want technical details of ships we can use Jane's Fighting Ships like the story mentions again and again. I miss the series as it was before it took off and made money. Now it feels like he's just milking the money........Let us LOVE this series again!!! If you are new to this series, start here with An Irish Country Doctor. An Irish Doctor in Peace and War by Patrick Taylor.

I also enjoyed two new(er) installments in other series I love: Anne Perry's William Monk in Death of a Stranger and Alexander McCall Smith's wonderful 44 Scotland Street [though Bruce's story was just plain idiotic] Sunshine on Scotland Street. Both of these authors have to also bring their "new" readers into a series at any point, but the do so with a very light touch. I greatly appreciate that.

Threw Back in November:

Just could not get into a book told from the child's eyes. Cute for a few minutes, but by the end of the first audio disc I was rigid with boredome. I may try this one again since I DO really like her other writing.

It wasn't the story it was lines like [an American character] having a "row" with his wife or doing the "washing up." It's fine to tell a story in your non-native country but get natives to pre-read it and save yourself this embarrassment. Like the book above, I may try it again.

1 comment:

Susan said...

Darn you, Hopewell ... each month my to-read list grows and grows thanks to your reviews, and I can't keep up! I want to read each of the first three of these. Even your "bad" reads make entertaining reading for the reviews alone! Keep it up :)