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jfount

jfount

Joined June 2016

review
jfount
Tiger in the Smoke | Margery Allingham
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Pickpick

A slow start for me, being the first of these books I‘ve read and there were a lot of characters from previous stories who I didn‘t really know. That said, once I got into it I found a thrilling, surprising, suspenseful book that makes the most of a postwar setting. It made for an excellent companion by this fire in Mayo, certainly.

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jfount
Hold | Michael Donkor
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Pickpick

Billed as the story of two (or three) Ghanaian girls, really it‘s Belinda coming to terms with herself and how others might see her (I thought, anyway). Some of the physical description of life in a female body didn‘t quite ring true to me, and some sequences were hard to picture. But I appreciated the perspectives on race, sexuality, culture, etc, and found the characters interesting and engaging.

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jfount
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Pickpick

This was very good as a Victorian murder book, but outstanding as a story about storytelling about crime. I found it very interesting as a kind of historical parallel to present-day concerns about the craze for ‘true crime‘ today. I would definitely recommend it.

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jfount
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Pickpick

I was only in the library to return books—REALLY—but was to excited to see this not to take it home. It‘s been on my list for years. A fascinating tale of a Victorian scammer, although I have to say the storytelling is not as good as some historical crime books I‘ve read. Stay tuned for the other library find I didn‘t mean to get ☺️

thegirlwiththelibrarybag Hahaha. The books the library throws up at you when you are not looking are always great ☺️ 1mo
4 likes1 comment
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jfount
Sittaford Mystery | Agatha Christie
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Another Shedunnit read - I thoroughly enjoyed this and gasped at the solution. Absolutely fantastic golden-age mystery with a hilariously self-assured young woman doing much of the sleuthing. 📚 A very satisfying book to be my 50th of 2019!

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jfount
The Maker of Swans | Paraic ODonnell
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Mehso-so

There were bits of this where I thought I knew what was going on, but definitely not as much of it as I could hope 😕 Not for me in the end; although I‘m told his second novel is a little more straightforward so I don‘t rule out reading more.

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jfount
The Maker of Swans | Paraic ODonnell

I‘ll be the first to admit this was a very slow starting book for me. The language seemed unspeakably precious, especially for a book set in the... 60s? 70s? The poncy faux-Jeeves butler was not endearing either (or believable given he‘s apparently meant to have a rough, seedy past). That being said, I‘m halfway through and enjoying it much more.

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jfount
Panpan

Will this be the book that finally breaks the spell and teaches me that I don‘t actually enjoy translated crime fiction?? 😂 This book was 60% the inspector lusting over young women and lamenting his age, 30% post war Italian politics and society, and 10% mystery. I chugged along with it steadily enough but the ending was brutal and upsetting, hence the big thumbs down. Che triste!

blurb
jfount

So, I picked this up at the library because I wanted something light. Turns out the central crime is the gang rape and murder of a child. Caveat lector, I guess; and if you want an Agatha Christie just check out an Agatha Christie!

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jfount
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Pickpick

The best review I can give this is that it inspired me to pick up my knitting again after several months of slump...! As with any collection, the essays are uneven; the best ones are concrete stories rather than generalized musings. There‘s enough texture in the collection not to get (too) samey. A nice read and would make a good gift.

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jfount
French Exit: A Novel | Patrick DeWitt
Mehso-so

An odd, dark book about a deeply dysfunctional family. Probably a little better than “so-so” to be fair. Very funny in places and eminently readable.

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jfount
Pickpick

This is such a funny book - and informative. There are a few letters from her advice column but mostly this is a primer on cleaning everything in your life. It‘s all very practical, with brand names galore (ironically not practical for me living outside the US but oh well).

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jfount
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Pickpick

Roughly 60% historical fiction and 40% mystery, this book kept me engaged to the end. It‘s not a hardcore mystery written as a puzzle, which I appreciate; although I think the clues were there, it‘s much more focused on storytelling. I would happily read the next one in the series. This was my “souvenir” from visiting my brother in Minneapolis, where we stumbled across this great little shop.

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jfount
The Western Wind | Samantha Harvey
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Mehso-so

Kind of an inside out and backwards murder mystery, really cleverly written; but I have to say it felt less historical the more I read of it. “So-so” is probably too harsh but this was ultimately a little meh for me.

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jfount
The Infatuations | Javier Maras
Mehso-so

Between this and “Via Merulana” I‘m starting to think paragraphs are not valued on the continent. This is a pretty much as described - a kind of mediation on murder, love, and what we know and can‘t know about other people. There is a lot of ruminating going on, so if you‘re like me and just want a plot, you‘re probably missing the point.

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jfount
A house in the country | Jocelyn Playfair
Bailedbailed

Time to admit that this is on the back burner. I will probably try to circle back later in the year.

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jfount
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Pickpick

This is an absolute must-read if the title appeals to you even a little! Written almost like a detective story, the author takes you along as she researches the elusive Maud West, real-life “lady detective” in the early 20th century. I couldn‘t put it down. Aside from the fascinating life uncovered along the way, I enjoyed the vicarious research process immensely.

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jfount
A house in the country | Jocelyn Playfair

“Absurd how true all those trite old sayings were. And yet they meant nothing unless you learnt their truth from experience.”

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jfount
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Mehso-so

Most of this book struggled with focus, in my opinion; lots of interesting detail but it was up to me to figure out why it mattered. It snapped into place at the end, though, with fascinating results, and again, lots of interesting detail, so I can‘t say I didn‘t enjoy it at all.

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jfount
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Pickpick

Have I hassled you to read a Lissa Evans book yet?! This is her first, and it‘s more complex than the other two. There are more characters and storylines, and darker darks, so to speak, although still very funny. I loved it (needless to say). There‘s a Singing In The Rain type quality to the film production story, if you need another reason to give it a try.

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jfount
We Are All Made of Glue | Marina Lewycka
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This bears more than a passing resemblance to the Ukrainian Tractor book. Middle class woman from a humble background who is dragged into an old person‘s squalid life and struggles, discovering along the way atrocities of the 20th century lurking close under the surface of modern British life. But it‘s not just a retread, and the various storylines and mysteries are interesting and compelling. I read it in about two days, so it was a page turner!

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jfount
Golden Hill | Francis Spufford
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Pickpick

Not without its flaws of course (and I‘m not sure it‘s “the best 18th century novel since the 18th century” as the cover claims) but an enjoyably different novel. The story centers on whether the central character is trustworthy despite refusing to disclose why he‘s come to New York with such a large sum of money. The great part is, even the reader isn‘t told what the secret is until the very end.

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jfount
Trent's Last Case | E. C. Bentley
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Pickpick

This was a good little companion for a day waiting to see the doctor. Now that it‘s done I‘m stuck between about five things to read next — eep!

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jfount
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Pickpick

Another translated mystery that shows how different fiction in other languages can be! Sister Pelagia is only about 50% of this book, and there‘s a whole chapter dedicated to the characters discussing ways to clear up corruption in government. It was slow going at first but once I got the rhythm of it I enjoyed the characters as well as the foreignness of it all.

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jfount
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Pickpick

Ok, yes, yes, I did buy this book to a large degree because the cover art is gorgeous. (I have a thing for wrap-around artwork, I am starting to realize.) But I thoroughly enjoyed the book itself so hopefully all is forgiven? It‘s a tale that gains real tension and suspense as it goes, but the writing is poetic and almost peaceful.

jenniferw88 I've just bought this book today too! Glad to hear you enjoyed it! 5mo
Herschelian My brother-in-law recommended this to me, saying it was the best book he‘d read this year. Thank you Alan, it is a stunning book, and definitely my best book of the year so far. The writing is superb; the plot covers some fascinating events, and I really could ‘see‘ the characters and what was happening to them. My sister and I were in two minds as to what really happens in the end. 2mo
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jfount

“Medina did not think Calley disliked him, or disliked him particularly, it was simply that he loved his country. Or it was not love he felt, but a feverish insistence that seemed to Medina not easily told apart from despair.”

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jfount
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Pickpick

An intriguing book about things that can‘t be known, really. It‘s not just about a murder case, or why Harper Lee only wrote one book, or even just the south and how outsiders and natives do or don‘t understand it. It‘s about all those things together and separately I guess I‘d say.

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jfount
Pickpick

Look, I‘ll be honest, “WWII homefront novel” conjures up visions of twee, nostalgic blather. This is so, so far from that. Genuinely rooted in an understanding of the time, and of people, it‘s a book about people on the edges and the scams they‘re willing to try to find some way forward. Funny and wonderful.

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jfount
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There‘s a quote on the back of this from the Sunday Express asking why Lissa Evans isn‘t more famous, and I have been thinking something similar. I‘m kind of amazed that this came out before Old Baggage, given the affection and perfect characterization of Mattie already in evidence.

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jfount
Foxglove Summer | Ben Aaronovitch
Pickpick

I have now run out of the books in this series that we own; there are two more on order so hopefully they hurry. Might give the graphic novel a spin next...!

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jfount
Foxglove Summer | Ben Aaronovitch
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Years ago, a friend disrupted her own party to try and find her copy of “Rivers of London” to shove it in my hands when she heard I hadn‘t read it. She couldn‘t find it, and I forgot about it. Unpacking my husband‘s copy seemed like as good a reason to follow up on that recommendation as any! I‘ve absolutely flown through the first four now and have #6 and 7 on order 🥳

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jfount
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Pickpick

Phew! It‘s been a while since I‘ve updated here, mostly because life got turned upside down while we moved. Perhaps the best thing about this apartment is that it fits all our books! 🙌 This book was very interesting, and involved a really wild twist at the end. If you think sociopathic killers are a 20th century thing you‘ll think again after reading this tale — the doctor of the title is a real piece of work, as they say.

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jfount
Pickpick

Short and amusing; although I admit I was reading the introduction afterward to really “get” it...

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jfount
That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana | William Weaver, Carlo Emilio Gadda
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Mehso-so

This was not a book for me, unfortunately. I‘m willing to believe it‘s a masterpiece — I felt vindicated when I read in the introduction that it‘s been compared to Joyce — but I found it hard to understand, and thus appreciate.

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jfount
Pickpick

This was a charming mystery which took several unexpected turns (unexpected by me anyway). The college students who do some of the investigating were lots of fun although the police solve the crime, really.

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jfount

“Respectable publicity was bad enough because newspaper reporters, however carefully instructed, were liable to break out into some idiocy about ‘undergraduettes‘ or ‘academic caps coquettishly set on golden curls.‘ But shameful publicity!”

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jfount

“Conscious of the brevity of their college life, [undergraduates] are ready to seize every opportunity to assert their individuality. The easily acquired label of ‘originality‘ is so much more distinguished than the ‘naughtiness‘ of their out-passed school days, and quite a lot of wildness may be mixed with a modicum of work and form a sound basis for a highly respectable later life.”

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jfount
Midnight Blue | Simone van der Vlugt
Panpan

This is like Dutch golden age fan fiction; the main character invents Delft pottery (and the teacup), meets Rembrandt and is pals with Vermeer (who admires the way she looks in that yellow jacket standing in the light...). It doesn‘t feel very ‘historical‘; among other things there‘s little sense of social status making any kind of difference. It was a quick enough read though.

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jfount
Old Baggage | Lissa Evans
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Pickpick

I loved this book; I was glued to the last 50 pages, and it might be the best thing I‘ve read so far this year. There is a very slight element of Interwar Britain Bingo but only slight. On the whole it was so well executed, a really lovely story about a range of women and relationships.

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jfount
Old Baggage | Lissa Evans

Two things I discovered about this book while looking for the acknowledgements: (1) this is not the first book about this character, which I never would have guessed. The opening pages are exquisite and have none of the tells of a series. (2) this author wrote the book “Their Finest Hour” was based on (it was based on a book apparently). So many unknown unknowns!

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jfount
Secret Adversary | Agatha Christie
Pickpick

I picked this up after the relevant episode of the Shedunnit podcast. It‘s an outlandish plot involving international Bolshevik conspiracies and lots of eeeevil schemes, all thwarted by the two title sleuths who wouldn‘t be much out of place in a Wodehouse novel. I enjoyed it a lot and will be keeping an eye out for more in the series.

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jfount
Anderby Wold | Winifred Holtby
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This was a slow start for me but I don‘t think that was the book‘s fault. As with Holt‘s other work, this is a story about political enlightenment as much as romance. The ending was genuinely surprising, and I greatly enjoyed the level of observation around the dynamics between the female relatives.

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jfount
Like a Sword Wound | Ahmet Altan
Pickpick

A man in the present day is visited by the ghosts of his ancestors and their associates, who detail their political and personal dramas in the declining days of the Ottoman Empire. In the first 75 pages, this mostly looks like a guy watching his great grandfather‘s first wife experience sexual awakening... but the book quickly expands and becomes an absorbing and compelling set of intertwining tales. The ‘ghost‘ framing is interesting; it‘s >>

jfount >> not obtrusive (mostly the story is narrated like any omniscient third person novel), but the frame allows for a degree of hindsight to be introduced as events are happening. I enjoyed this and will probably be interested in the next of the series whenever it comes out in English. 9mo
1 like1 comment
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jfount
Like a Sword Wound | Ahmet Altan
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Pg. 122-3.

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jfount
Like a Sword Wound | Ahmet Altan

“When he reached the age of twenty-four, his father decided he should marry. Naturally, when the Sultan said, ‘How is your dear son, Pasha, apparently he hasn‘t married yet, the young should be made to marry,‘ it played an important role in the making of this decision; the Sultan believed that unmarried people were more dangerous, and he was correct in this belief.”

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jfount
Lagoon | Nnedi Okorafor
Pickpick

I enjoyed this; it‘s a real mix of elements, sci-fi, fantasy, even a touch of superhero stuff. The first half of the book is mostly the reaction of Nigerians to the arrival of the aliens, and you start to see what the aliens want and what their plan is in the second half. Really creative and interesting both as fantasy story and as a commentary on modern Nigeria.

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jfount
Lagoon | Nnedi Okorafor
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I‘ve been enjoying the Shuri comic and knew the author was a Big Deal but hadn‘t actually read any of her work, so the last time I was at the library I decided to address the situation. I‘m enjoying this so far — the fantasy elements are in the back seat for the first part of the story at least, as the focus is on how an event like an alien landing would be received in Nigerian society.

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jfount
The Body in the Silo | Ronald Knox
Pickpick

This was very enjoyable; very much of its time with a sort of stunt party game at the center. The ending is ingenious. In the final chapters, as the solution is revealed, there are footnotes to where the clues first appeared in the story, a feature I actually quite enjoyed! NB however that the page numbers are off by 10 in this reprint edition.

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jfount
The Body in the Silo | Ronald Knox
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Angela, the sleuth‘s wife in this book, is kind of a sassy dame, and I like it.

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jfount
The Potter's Field | Andrea Camilleri
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My instinct has always been to bolt through a series of books in strict order, leaving nothing behind. In contrast, I‘ve only read a couple of these, in a completely haphazard way, and I think I might enjoy them more like this. These are intensely Sicilian in content (the crime, the approach to detection, the food...) and style (it‘s really interesting reading books in translation). I look forward to reading another sometime.