Category: What I’m Reading Lately

100 Day Project – Day 36, Book mail is the best mail

We don’t get a lot of mail. Even though I foolishly check the mailbox at least twice a day we can go weeks without getting anything. When we do it is usually appointment notices from the Tom Baker Cancer Center (I know, I know, they are very much behind the times on that front) or letters from our Member of Parliament. But the last two weeks have seen a windfall of kindness arrive in our mailbox. I keep telling our girls that if they want to get mail they have to send mail but that doesn’t seem to motivate us to write more letters – something I am hoping to remedy soon.

What is even better than regular mail you ask? Why, book mail of course!

The first parcel to arrive came last week. A woman I have kind-of known for years through knitting and blogging circles asked if I wanted an extra pair of circular needles for sock knitting because she had too many. I said yes, of course, and eagerly awaited them. Then she saw my Literary Witch post about not having any Virginia Woolf books in the house and added a copy of A Room of One’s Own to the package. Of course the day after she went to the post office I wrote about having found a copy of this book on our bookshelf but, to be honest, this version is prettier so I will keep it and pass my other copy along to someone else. (Or return it to a Little Free Library where I think is how I got it in the first place.)

Ingrid from Gladstone Press – a new (2018) Canadian publishing company whose tagline is Old Books, New Looks – contacted me and asked if she could send me a copy of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. This arrived yesterday and reader it is luscious. The paper is so nice I made everyone in the house touch it (with clean hands of course) and kept rubbing it on my face so I could feel the softness. Mister said it was the paper equivalent of 300 Thread Count sheets. (Do we even know what that feels like? I’m not sure). Ingrid is not paying me to tell you all this as she gifted the book to me out of kindness but I’m just THAT into paper that I feel justified in rambling on about it. (As a child I had a large paper collection. I just really like pretty paper.)

There is even a map of Clarrisa Dalloway’s journey through London. I don’t know if this is a normal thing for copies of Mrs Dalloway to have but I was suitably impressed. I compare this new publishing house to such high quality imprints like Persephone Books and Virago Modern Classics – except it is Canadian which makes a big difference to the pocket books of those of us who would like to be collectors of high quality classics but can’t actually afford to be. (Although I do spend an inordinate amount of time on the Persephone and Virago websites window shopping.)

The Gladstone Press blog also linked to a really interesting article about The joy of reading Mrs Dalloway during lockdown which is well worth the read and has put this book at the top of my reading pile (I won’t lie, the feel of the paper helped a lot with that decision).

Last week I also received a copy of Winter Wren by Theresa Kishkan whose blog I have been enjoying for years. Theresa and I recently had a couple online conversations about the joys of novellas and she kindly sent me this one. I didn’t realize until she sent it that she and a partner have their own small publishing house called Fish Gotta Swim Editions that specializes in novellas. I’m not going to talk about this much yet because I plan to do a full review once I have read the book.

(These current blog posts are part of my #100dayproject and are written quickly and posted without significant editing. They are what they are, mistakes and all. Much like me.)

100 Day Project, Day 24: Books – April Finished Reads

There were two things I really got into this month. One happened when Fionnuala started reading The Belgariad series by David Eddings to herself and one night I read a chapter to her aloud. As far as my children go she is probably the least into reading – usually she is just too busy to be able to sit down for a long period of time and devote her entire day to a book (also she doesn’t want me to read to her anymore). She still reads though and reads well so it isn’t a big deal. But I was pleased when she picked up this series, it is definitely a good one for her age and her temperament. Probably considered wholesome by today’s standards I’m really okay with that as reading material for my 9-year old. This is the Mister’s favourite series from when he was younger and so I read it years ago but hadn’t picked it up since. I’m currently on the fifth book in The Belgariad and then there are another five books in the continuing saga.

The other thing I stumbled across were the books of Scottish author Josephine Tey who wrote after World War I and, in relation, a newer historical mystery series written by Nicola Upson with Josephine Tey as the main character. If that sounds confusing that is because it is a bit.

I read Tey’s A Shilling for Candles last month and this month read The Franchise Affair which I think was one of the best books I have read so far this year. It was one of those books with observations so astute that I kept reading bits out to the Mister (whether he enjoyed me doing that or not I don’t even know.) I enjoyed it so much I would like to get my hands on a physical copy if I can find one – especially since Moira wants to read it as well.

I also read the first two of Nicola Upson’s Josephine Tey Mysteries An Expert in Murder and Angel with Two Faces. These books I can only get via the library ebook app so I have been waiting for more Upson and Tey books to become available all month. I’m rather particular in that I like to read things in order and so I wait. I honestly hate having my face shoved into my phone to read a book – I worry that the girls will think I’m on my phone ALL THE TIME but it really is a convenient way to get books out of the library because I certainly can’t buy every book I ever have an interest in reading. (Also great for days at the hospital since carrying things is hard for me.) I think one of the things I miss most about this whole isolation is not going to the library (which means I obviously have it pretty good).

Current reads include The Order of the Phoenix to Oonagh which we are powering through. Still sloooowly working on War and Peace although it has been mostly on hold since it is heavy and I got sucked into The Belgariad fantasy series.

What are you reading right now?

(These current blog posts are part of my #100dayproject and are written quickly and posted without significant editing. They are what they are, mistakes and all. Much like me.)

What we are reading lately.

I love Fridays. I love Mondays too because the girls all go back to school and I can get back to a routine. But I also love Fridays because the girls don’t come home until 12:30 – and even though they have the afternoon off, that time difference gives me almost an extra hour to myself.

This extra time means I can tell you about this book series we are currently reading:

The Wells & Wong Mysteries by Robin Stevens. (Series is called Murder Most Unladylike outside of North America.) Agatha Christie-esque middle grade detectives set in the 1930s. Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are best friends who attend boarding school together. Moira and Fionnuala are loving these. So much so that I find I’m reading long after my throat has gotten sore. Also, they couldn’t wait for me to finish Poison is Not Polite – which we were reading together – and they both read First Class Murder, the book that comes after it. Now we have finished Poison is Not Polite and I am being forced to skip to reading Jolly Foul Play aloud and read First Class Murder on my own. This is very frustrating when I like things to GO A CERTAIN WAY but I certainly can’t let my stick-up-the-bum-mommishness ruin their enthusiasm about a book series. In fact they are enjoying it so much that they are on the hunt for second hand copies for us to keep and to give away to friends.

Hazel Wong is Chinese. Her family is rich and from Hong Kong. Robins often touches on how Hazel is treated by 1930’s British society. Hazel considers herself a proper English girl – mostly: dad was educated at Eton after all. Her best friend Daisy Wells is from an old aristocratic family that have title but little money (by aristocratic standards – genteel poverty as opposed to real poverty). But of course it is Hazel who often gets mistaken as a servant. I’ve mentioned the series to a couple of friends whose daughters would like to see more representation of themselves in books. I don’t feel I am qualified to make a judgement whether this is well done or not from their point of view. I know we all love Hazel. She is the smart and astute Watson to Daisy’s Sherlock.

I’ve really been enjoying mysteries lately – whether they are genuine old mysteries of Ngiao Marsh and Agatha Christie or the more modern Lady Julia Grey series and Veronica Speedwell series of Deanna Reybourn. We have taken to getting older BBC Agatha Christie DVDs out of the library too (the ones staring Joan Hickson). So far I haven’t been able to play my favourite game “spot the Harry Potter actor” while watching any of them though.

All this mystery reading has me wondering if I could write a mystery novel for the girls but I have so many other things on my plate to finish first. I did what I set out to do this week – submit my completed (or as completed as I can get it at this time, is anything ever really finished?) picture book manuscript to an agent. Now I’m trying to put it out of my head for a while and work on other things.

Other things I am reading:

Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women, by Harriet Reisen. This is in preparation for a trip I am taking in May when I hope to stop off in Corcord, MA.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. I’m listening to this on audio while I knit (almost done the third owlet sweater). It’s unusual that I would watch something before reading it but I finished the TV series recently and wanted to know more. The book is answering a lot of questions.

Anyone else watch A Discovery of Witches on TV? And are you a Miss Marple or a Hercule Poirot fan? I’m a Marple fan.

On finding a new author, reading, and the constant panic that cancer brings

Lately I’ve taken to listening to Roisin Ingle’s Irish Times Roisin Meets podcast in the mornings when I can get out and walk, and the other day I listened to her interview of Irish author Jennifer Johnston. Johnston is now 86 and published her first novel at 42 (oh the hope!) and is one of Ireland’s premier writers that most… Read more →