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Book mags and The No.1 Ladies' Det. Agency

Magazines about books with reviews and info seem to be very thin on the ground. Waterstones put out a good one every few months but, unless you subscribe, you have to be lucky to catch it: they sell out very quickly. The newspapers also do various weekend supplements which are quite good - we get The Telegraph on Saturday and their Arts supplement is not bad at all. And I spotted a copy of a new one (I assume) in the library a few weeks ago. It's called 'newbooks' and their website is here. They'll send you a free sample copy of any of their three book magazines; you do have to print out the form and send it snail-mail but it works. (Though, sadly I think it may only apply to Brits.) Mine arrived this morning after a wait of only a couple of weeks. Haven't had a chance to read it yet but it looks excellent. I'll probably subscribe and possibly get their children's book magazine for my grand-daughter.

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Okay, well here it is. :-) The book that elicited quite a bit of chat on my last post. Given that I respect the opinions of the folk who didn't care for The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency, and tend generally to agree with them, I was fairly sure I wouldn't care for this. Wrong. I loved it. Oh dear... I'm going to account for this by saying that a) if you're not much interested in Africa this book is unlikely to appeal and b) it isn't really a traditional crime book. For me, having recently read Botswana Time by Will Randall, it resembled that more than anything. A kind of a travel book with a few interesting stories thrown in, a bit of intrigue, and some nice humour. Also, interestingly, it brought a real lump to my throat twice - and that's unusual for me. I have the second one from the library and I'm wondering if I'll like that as much.

We caught the market at South Molton today and found a very nice secondhand book stall lurking there. Here's what I picked up:

Sea Dragon Heir by Storm Constantine. First of a fantasy series by an author I haven't read but seems well regarded.

West With the Night by Beryl Markham. A Virago Travellers book, biography, about the author's life in Africa.

Storm Chaser by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell. YA fantasy book. Total coincidence but this is part two and part one is sitting on my library pile. I didn't recognise the connection until I got home and really looked at it.

Poems for 7 Year Olds and Under chosen by Helen Nicoll. Okay, this isn't for me. *G* The little grand-daughter is displaying a real taste for poetry and this looks delightful. I know she'll love it.

And nabbed from Amazon Marketplace this week:

Zennor in Darkness by Helen Dunmore. Saw mention of this on toomanybooks, looked it up on Amazon, liked the sound of it and nabbed a copy. The wonderful power of book blogs. :-)


The book that elicited quite a bit of chat on my last post.

Ha! Well, I'm glad you enjoyed it, anyway ;D
Thanks. It would so boring if we all liked the sames things. :-)
Wow! ::Falls over in shock::

Well, I'm glad that you enjoyed it, I really am.

Having said this, I must confess that at the moment I'm not impressed with Fingersmith - not really - not thus far. Given your rave review, I was expecting to be caught up in it immediately, but I spent the first chapter not really liking the main character and thinking 'this is okay, but...' The second chapter was a little better, but thus far... Put it this way, unless it suddenly perks up, I doubt if I'll bother ploughing through the rest of it. Unless it does start a bit like that and then suddenly pick up. I meant to ask you that yesterday. Did you get into it from the first page?
unless it suddenly perks up, I doubt if I'll bother ploughing through the rest of it.

Heresy! That's one of my favourite books ever :-)
Heresy! That's one of my favourite books ever :-)

Ooops. Sorry :-) I shall give it another chapter or two and see what happens. Not quite ready to throw in the towel.

But just shows one person's best ever or really liked is someone else's... And often it can be for just one or two things, which makes it more surprising when there's so much you have in common ;-)
Nowt so queer as folk ;-) So much depends, too, on things like the frame of mind you're in when you pick up a book. I've given up on books I didn't like, only to attempt them months or years later and something suddenly 'clicks' and I end up loving them - I remember doing that with 'Brideshead Revisited', amongst others.

I've done that with a couple of books, David Eddings Belgarid for one. Read the Prologue when I worked in a library, hated it. Came across a copy of the book a few years later and loved it!

Mostly though my instincts are good. If I'm going to like something, I'll like it on first reading and vice versa.

I tried Shadowmacer three times - actually managed to finish it the third time (purely out of stubbornness) - but I shouldn't have bothered. I should have stuck with my instincts. But it was a case of it having such rave reviews, etc. I thought it had to be me, my mood, etc. etc. Sadly, it wasn't.
Yes! I'm as surprised as you that I like the book and you don't but there you are, tastes differ even if it's just occasionally.

Are you enjoying Lynley? I missed the first ep but have enjoyed the others so far apart from bloomin' Helen returning to haunt us. :-(

Fingersmith. Well, Sue is not completely likeable. I guess she's struggling to survive and having to make some hard choices. I hope the mystery will suck you in and that aspect of it becomes more and more apparent as you read on; things are not at all as they seem. I couldn't put it down but it may well not be to your taste, though I hope it will be. :-)
Yes! I'm as surprised as you that I like the book and you don't but there you are, tastes differ even if it's just occasionally.

So very true.

Are you enjoying Lynley? I missed the first ep but have enjoyed the others so far apart from bloomin' Helen returning to haunt us. :-

So far, all I've done is to record them all ::sigh:: Yes, I did see that Helen had come back. I'd hoped we'd got rid of her.

I'm persevering with Fingersmith and it's getting a bit better, but it hasn't grabbed me as a 'oh, wow, I must read more of this now.' It's more 'oh, right, end of chapter, I can stop here'. I'm getting a little intrigued by the gloves and the uncle, so maybe... I'll keep trying.

It's not just a case of not liking or not liking Sue, that actually doesn't really matter one way or another, in the first chapter or two I actually didn't care what happened to her, and that does matter. I've read other books where I didn't like the main character, in fact I disliked them strongly, but I cared what happened (be it good or bad).
"Yes, I did see that Helen had come back. I'd hoped we'd got rid of her."
Well, I don't want to spoil it too much for you but there were considerable plot developments in last night's ep! Is that vague enough, girls, those who watched?
Sounds as though you have some good winter evening viewing lined up, keeping the whole series to watch, and not having to wait for the next week either. Good thinking!
Oooh. Sounds intriguing.
I saw the last ep of Inspector Lynley last night... oh my! Won't say any more than that but you have to watch it, nakeisha!!! 8-S
Definitely! Oh my!
I haven't watched the latest Lynley yet... hoping to tonight. Wonder what happened? 8-S It's been a good series so far - one set on the Essex coast was particulary good I thought.

So, how are you getting on with Fingersmith? I'm almost afraid to ask... ;-) It does indeed matter when you don't care about a character and it's intriguing how some authors can make us care, and others can't.
I really must find time to watch the Lynley eps that are happily sitting on tape.

Fingersmith? Well, I've got the end of part one, and am now seriously questioning whether I'm going to bother going on. I'm now about 130ish pages in and am still thinking of it as a 'I should read this book' rather than a 'I really want to read this'.

I also find myself not caring that much for her style, but that's not as important as the characters. I still can't say I really care what happens to any of them; none of them seem particularly worth caring about for good or bad characters.

I'll probably plough on, as you enjoyed it so much, as did others, but... I think had it not been for you praising it so much, I would have given up by now.
and am now seriously questioning whether I'm going to bother going on.

Well you know, if I got that far into a book and wasn't enjoying it, I'd be inclined to stop. Could be that this really isn't for you. It happens. :-) So don't think I'll be upset if you abandon it, I understand perfectly. Life's too short to be reading a book you dislike and it's not as if it's a short one...
It's rare for me to give up on a book - very rare! I'm stubborn like that.

Unless there's a food/sex scene, then I stop immediately :-)

I know you won't be upset.

We'll see how I feel later tonight.
It's rare for me to give up on a book - very rare! I'm stubborn like that.

Likewise. And I'm not sure why really. I suppose I like to think I'm not a quitter.

Unless there's a food/sex scene, then I stop immediately :-)

LOL!!! Luckily for us those are pretty rare.

What a nice icon.

And I'm not sure why really. I suppose I like to think I'm not a quitter.

Indeed! It's daft really, as you say 'life's too short', and there are a heck of a lot of books out there, so...

Luckily for us those are pretty rare.


What a nice icon.

It is, it's one of eyesthatslay's.
I enjoy the #1 Ladies Detective Agency series -- the quiet leisurely pace and the (presumably authentic) glimpse of a different culture.

He has two fairly new ongoing series set in Edinburgh, one of which again I enjoy, the other (the Philosophy Club one) leaves me cold, unable to finish. Very strange, that!

I just picked up Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich from the library -- she's always a rowdy, undemanding entertainment for me.

Also preparing to re-read Poppy Z Brite's Ricky-and-G-man New Orleans restaurant series, The Value of X, Liquor and Prime. I'm so glad she got away from the horror genre.

Also in the pile: Minotaur by Barbara Vine and The Passion of Mary Magdalene by Elizabeth Cunningham (sequel to Daughter of the Shining Isles).

I enjoy the #1 Ladies Detective Agency series

Yaaaay! I'm not a freak after all. ;-) Yes, I would say authentic. A recent travel book set in Botswana had exactly the same laid back atmosphere to it.

Will check out some of the ones on your tbr pile. The only Poppy Brite books to be found over here are her horror ones. I didn't know she wrote anything else. One of your recs. A Vision of Light is sitting on *my* tbr pile, btw.
I enjoyed Drawing Blood, the first Brite I read, but the others were a bit too extreme for me. I remember thinking at the time, if only she'd do something everyday, but didn't have much hope of it. I was surprised and delighted to discover Liquor via a review in the NY Times.

For horror I think the early Ramsey Campbell takes a lot of beating, particularly Parasite, The Claw and Incarnate -- the later ones either don't have the same impact or I'm just too jaded.

Oh, something else you might enjoy: Unicorn's Blood by Patricia Finney. I have the first book, Firedrake's Eye, scheduled for re-reading, but I find I forget it completely between whiles. And I recently did a second reading of Gloriana's Torch.

I own one Ramsey Campbell and that's The House on Nazareth Hill. No idea where I picked it up from or what it's like. Will keep an eye out for the ones you mention. My horror reading tends more towards the Victorian and Edwardian stuff and Lovecraft's Mythos. Haven't read a lot of modern horror apart from some Brian Lumley whose short stories I like.

Will check out Patricia Finney too.
I've been avoiding No. 1 as it just didn't seem my thing, but I'll give it a go. :)
I'd be very interested to hear what you think!
When I pick it up, and read it (LOL), I'll let you know!
My library didn't have the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency so I tried the Philosophy club one instead but I couldn't get into at all and found the characters pretty flat and not people I cared anything for.

Have you tried any of the Alphabet series by Sue Grafton? (A is for Alibi, B is for Burglar), I used to gobble them up but haven't read one for a while. The introductions describing the main female detective's life get a bit repetitive after you've read a couple, but I've never *not* enjoyed one yet and they're always fast, funny, pacey reads with good additional characters *and* I really like the main character - in fact I want to *be* her! (They're all set in Santa Barbara).

(Reply to this)
The Philosophy club book might be the one people haven't like. Mind a lot don't seem to care for the No1. Ladies' Det. Agency either! LOL. Depends I think on whether you're interested in Africa. I must admit my interest was piqued a bit by that Antony Sher autobiography, even though it's very much a different face of Africa you see in these 'crime' books.

No, I don't know the alphabet series by Sue Grafton. To tell the truth I'm not really a crime book reader though I do dabble in historical crime from time to time. Which is why I was really surprised to like the Ladies' Detective series.
Maybe I should look out for the No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency as I quite like books set in Africa (e.g Graham Greene and A. Sher).

I just thought you might like the American setting of the Sue Grafton books....mind you, it sounds as though your reading list is long enough!
I can recommend the Sue Grafton books. Just what I shall do when she gets to Z I don't know! I love the series and didn't think I would. I also like the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich, and have just read 11.

I haven't read any of the McCall Smith books, although I have the lot on mount TBR. I like reading series back to back.....obsessive & quirky! I know!
I keep seeing Sue Grafton's book in charity shops so perhaps I'll grab one when I next see it.

I now have five more of the McCall Smith books on mount tbr. Some folk don't seem to like the books but I found them a gentle, relaxing read. I tend to spread series out but used to do as you do... read them all one after the other. Not sure why I changed.
I have a omnibus edition of A, B & C which I am happy to lend to you.
I did have the rest of the series, but set them free at the UnConvention in July.
Suddenly realised I hadn't answered this. Apologies.

I'm hoping to make it to one of the Devon meets sometime this winter so if I do perhaps I'll have the A,B and C books to borrow then. When is the next meet, do you know?
As far as I know there isn't anything planned, but perhaps we can spur the others on by arranging a meet soon. I'll bring the book with me (3 in 1!)