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badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Sharlene has the Mr Linky this week.

Jane’s Country Year by Malcolm Saville – I trust Kate’s taste so asked the library to purchase this as soon as I saw Handheld Press was releasing it earlier this year.  Since then, I also listened to an old episode of Ramblings with the members of the Malcolm Saville society, which has me even more intrigued by him.

The Naked Don’t Fear the Water by Matthieu Aikins – A first-hand account of travelling the refugee route from Afghanistan to Europe.

Taken by the Hand by O. Douglas – I love this quiet, cosy novel about a young woman who, after a lifetime of being guided by her adored mother, is left adrift following her unexpected death.  This is my favourite of O. Douglas’ novels and everything I wrote about it back in 2012 remains true.

Mika in Real Life by Emiko Jean – a recent release about a woman in her mid-thirties who tries to mask her chaotic life when the daughter she gave up for adoption sixteen years before re-appears.

Spring in September by Essie Summers – my approach to Summers is to get whatever I can via ILL, in whatever order the library gods decree.  This is from 1978 and linked to several earlier books, at least one of which I’ve read, which makes it enjoyable to see familiar characters again.

Our Hearts Were Young and Gay by Cornelia Otis Skinner and Emily Kimbrough – this delightful comic memoir about two young women touring Europe in the 1920s was a favourite of mine in my teens but I let go of my copy years ago and haven’t reread it in at least a decade.

What did you pick up this week?

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

I always forget how much I love September until it arrives again.  The days are annoyingly short, yes, but after a long hot summer how nice it is to feel a chill in the morning, and know that it will soon be time to wear sweaters.  Glorious!  And my optimism for the season is complimented further by a great selection of newly arrived library books.

Just William by Richmal Crompton – I have a read a fair amount by Crompton (generally the same story told over and over and over again under different titles) but have never tried her most famous creation.

Keeping Up Appearances by Rose Macaulay – Between Simon and the British Library Women Writers series and Kate and the Handheld Press releases, there is no shortage of things to read by Macaulay!  I’ve only read a couple of her books so far but I’m intrigued by this one.

Ravenna by Judith Herrin – I’m getting ready for my second visit to Ravenna later this year and eager to learn more about it’s history before I go.

The Lovers by Paolo Cognetti (translated from Italian) – a beautiful short novel about two lovers and mountain life in Northern Italy.

The Last Goddess by Kateřina Tučková (translated from Czech) – Last in a centuries-old lineage of healing women, Dora Idesová was raised by her aunt Surmena in the White Carpathians. Resistant to superstition, Dora grew up hearing stories of the “goddesses” who were said to conjure love and curses and, through divine connection, cure the spirit and the body. Now an academic, Dora is researching the tales that for generations spellbound the hillside where she grew up. As the mysteries become truths, they reveal a stunning discovery that reaches back from the witch trials of the seventeenth century through Nazi-occupied Germany. Embarking on an emotional journey, Dora is about to find out how deeply and fatefully she is entwined with secret tradition.

The Tower of Fools by Andrzej Sapkowski (translated from Polish) – the first in a historical fantasy trilogy set during the Hussite wars.

Square One by Nell Frizzell – Sarra Manning flagged this as one of the best July releases.

Double Lives by Helen McCarthy – a fascinating cultural history of working women’s lives since the 19th Century.

Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater – “It’s difficult to find a husband in Regency England when you’re a young lady with only half a soul.”  Who wouldn’t want to read more?

What did you pick up this week?

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

I’m in obsessive travel research mode.  Can you guess where I’m planning to go next year?

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Princess Puck by Una L. Silberrard – the highlight of having Covid in June was having just the right book to hand: Desire by Una L. Silberrard.  I loved it and am intrigued to read more by Silberrard so tracked this down via ILL, despite having no idea what the story is about.  Time for a surprise!

The Giant’s House by Elizabeth McCracken – I mentioned in my last post that I had picked up a collection of McCracken’s short stories (The Souvenir Museum).  They were excellent and I’m now keen to read this, her debut novel from 1996 about a boy growing into the world’s tallest man and the librarian who falls in love with him.

Prague by Chad Bryant – I’m so intrigued by Bryant’s way of approaching Czech history here: “A poignant reflection on alienation and belonging, told through the lives of five remarkable people who struggled against nationalism and intolerance in one of Europe’s most stunning cities.”

A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You by Amy Bloom – a collection of short stories recommended by Nancy Pearl.  

Lady Baltimore by Owen Wister – aside from reading Desire while I was sick in June, I also spent significant time combing through the archives of a couple of my favourite bloggers.  I came across Kate’s old review of this and was so intrigued I placed an ILL hold immediately.

The Exhibitionist by Charlotte Mendelson – a new novel from the always funny and observant Mendelson.  

What did you pick up this week?

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Some Body to Love by Alexandra Heminsley – I loved Leap In, Heminsley’s memoir about embracing swimming and IVF treatment, and have been looking forward to this further memoir about how her family changed when her husband announced he was transgendered and going to transition.

The Souvenir Museum by Elizabeth McCracken – Nancy Pearl is a great fan of McCracken and I chose to start with this collection of short stories.  I read it over the weekend and thought it was excellent.

The Beloved Girls by Harriet Evans – I used to love Evans’ light books but she is getting more and more gothic with every new one.  I picked this up reflexively when I saw it on the shelf and we’ll see how I get on with it.

The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler – The best thing about Tyler is that she has such a huge backlist to work through!

Dear Reader by Cathy Rentzenbrink – always game for a bookish memoir.

Grounding by Lulah Ellender – a well-reviewed and unique-sounding gardening memoir.

What did you pick up this week?

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

It finally feels like proper summer has arrived here: things are slowing at work as people take vacations, the sun is shining not just once a week but every day, and it’s warm enough to laze in parks or the backyard morning, noon and night – with books, obviously.  Perfection.

The Rim of the Prairie by Bess Streeter Aldrich – this has been my year for discovering Bess Streeter Aldrich.  I’ve loved what I’ve read so far (A Lantern in Her Hand and A White Bird Flying) and look forward to reading more.

A Lady’s Guide to Fortune Hunting by Sophie Irwin – a newly released Regency romance about a young woman on the hunt for a rich husband to save her family.  This came out a few months ago in the UK and lots of my favourite fellow readers have had only good things to say about it.

A Year of Living Simply by Kate Humble – it’s always good to be reminded that it’s only the simple things that matter.

Alice, I Think by Susan Juby – Nancy Pearl is fan of this YA novel about fifteen-year-old Alice as she makes the transition from homeschooling to high school.  There’s usually a lengthy waitlist for this during the school year (it’s by a BC author so I assume it’s on school reading lists) but apparently teens become illiterate during the summer so I was able to grab it on a whim.

The Suitors by Cécile David-Weill – a French comedy of manners about two sisters on the hunt for a husband wealthy enough to purchase the family’s summer estate that means so much to both of them.

Fake It Till You Bake It by Jamie Wesley – a cupcake-baking football player, a reality tv star, and a fake dating ploy – clearly the stuff of summer reading.

What did you pick up this week?

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Sharlene has the Mr Linky this week.

Accent on April by Betty Cavanna and In a Mirror by Mary Stolz – two retro teen reads recommended in Nancy Pearl’s Book Crush.

My Place at the Table by Alexander Lobrano – I don’t officially participate in Paris in July but it strikes me this memoir by food writer Lobrano about his life there would be a perfect pick!  I started it as an e-book a few months ago but only just before it expired.  What I read then was excellent and I’m looking forward to getting back into it.

Legacy by Thomas Harding – Harding’s excellent history of his family’s one-time holiday home outside Berlin, The House by the Lake, looked at his father’s German branch of the family.  In Legacy, he turns his attention to his mother’s far more famous family, the Salmons and Glucksteins who started as tobacconists and then founded J. Lyons and Co, of the famous tea rooms, food brands, and hotels.  I read this in one day and found it absolutely fascinating.

Anna of Strathallan and No Roses in June by Essie Summers – more Summers!

What did you pick up this week?

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

I have this week off work so have stocked up on lots of interesting things to read, with my only goals for my vacation being to read, swim, walk, sleep, and repeat as often as possible.  Living the dream.

What did you pick up this week?

credit: Inigo Real Estate Listing (via rightmove.co.uk)

After slacking off a bit with my non-fiction reading earlier in the year, May saw me stepping up my game (also receiving a number of much-anticipated library holds – truly the deciding factor when it comes to what I read) with seven non-fiction titles.  But it was still balanced by many, many rom-coms.  

The No-Show by Beth O’Leary (2022) – Three women are stood up by Joseph Carter on Valentine’s Day: Siobhan, who enjoys their hotel hook-ups when she’s visiting from Dublin; Jane, who Jospeh had promised to partner as a fake date for an event she dreaded; and Miranda, his girlfriend.  None gets a straight answer as to why she was stood up and so their doubts begin to grow.

O’Leary treads a line here between slick and smart and I’m still not entirely sure which I think she pulls off but it’s fundamentally a fun book, even if Joseph remains a (necessarily) distant figure throughout and therefore not an ideal romantic hero.

Free by Lea Ypi (2021) – a wonderful memoir about growing up in Albania in the dying years of communism and in the desperate 1990s.  Ypi provides an interesting glimpse into a country I know little about and her memories of helped me understand all the modern stereotypes I’ve absorbed – of gangsters trafficking people across the Adriatic and illegal workers in Italy – and how they came to be.  A good country to leave, sadly.

The Authority Gap by Mary Ann Sieghart (2021) – the subtitle for Sieghart’s entertaining and enraging book is “Why Women Are Still Taken Less Serious Than Men, and What We Can Do About It”, but it’s hard to get excited about the (very practical) actions she outlines when you realise just how many of them there are.  I suspect there won’t be many surprises here for most women, especially those in the corporate world, but it’s helpful to have the facts.  A book you’ll want to make every man in your office read (but will they take it seriously?).

One More Croissant for the Road by Felicity Cloake (2019) – Reread.  A joyous foodie memoir about Cloake’s bicycle journey through France to explore regional specialties.

Goblin Hill by Essie Summers (1977) – After Faith’s parents die, she discovers she was adopted with only just enough time to reconnect with her dying birth mother.  Now knowing the identify of her birth father, she looks for a job near his New Zealand farm until she can work up the courage to present herself.  She starts work as a family historian only to discover that the women who have hired her are her great-aunts.  Soon she is caught up in the family (especially with Gareth Morgan, her stepbrother) while waiting for her father to return from his travels.  There are many silly secrets and the overall effect is classic Summers but far from her best.

The Wedding Crasher by Abigail Mann (2022) – an enjoyably slow-moving romcom about a woman who finds herself swept up into the wedding chaos of her university housemate years after last seeing him.  It’s a bizarrely complicated set up but Mann makes it work with fundamentally relatable characters.  This is her third novel and I’ve enjoyed all of them.

Twelve Days in May by Niamh Hargan (2022) – jumping from one novel about two university friends contemplating what-might-have-been, I fell straight into another.  I guess we know what people were musing about during Covid lockdowns.

Twelve years after meeting in Bordeaux, Lizzy and Ciaran reconnect at the Cannes film festival where his film is debuting and she is working for the Scottish Film Board.  With allegations of plagiarism against Ciaran, his PR team pulls her in to the media whirlwind to attest to the originality of the film, based on their Erasmus experience.  But the film – and being together – brings back memories of their intense friendship all those years before and its abrupt ending.  Soon Lizzy is wondering how well she really remembers what happened and if there is a chance to start again.  Thoroughly enjoyable.

Under One Roof by Ali Hazelwood (2022) – Hazelwood has a trio of linked novellas that have come out before her second novel is released in August.  They’ve been released first as audiobooks and I did listen to the other two but this was the only one I read.  About three friends in STEM fields, I honestly found all the characters very annoying and the romances frustrating, though this one – about two unwilling housemates who eventually fall in love – was…the least frustrating?  Faint praise, indeed.

The Temporary European by Cameron Hewitt (2022) – For North American travellers, Rick Steves is a dependable and practical travel guru, inspiring others with his passion for European travel.  Cameron Hewitt is his right-hand man and equally excited about sharing his love of Europe.  I’ve loved reading his blog posts over the years, especially since his main area of focus is Central and Eastern Europe, so it’s no surprise I loved this collection of travel essays.  Like Rick, Cameron is funny, generally optimistic, and candid about his likes and dislikes.

Book Lovers by Emily Henry (2022) – when literary agent Nora’s sister insists they take a holiday together to a small town in North Carolina, Nora can’t refuse.  Ever since their single-parent mother died twelve years before (and even before that), Nora has felt responsible for Libby’s happiness.  Seeing how harried Libby is now – pregnant and with two young daughters already – Nora goes along with the plan.  She’s less willing to go along with Libby’s romance-novel-esque list of things to do while there (ride a horse, go skinny dipping, date a local).  But when Nora finds a familiar face in the small town – Charlie, an editor she’s crossed paths with in New York – things begin to look up.

Henry is very, very, very good at romcoms and this may be her best so far.  Nora is the anti-Hallmark heroine.  She feels cast as the evil urban ice queen, whose boyfriends go on business trips to quirky small towns and find love with peppy girls trying to save their family companies.  When she finds herself in a small town…that does not change.  And I loved that.  Nora gets to be who she is throughout – a successful, competent, in-control woman.  And she gets a successful, competent, in-control love interest who doesn’t need to challenge or change her, just be there for her to rely on and let her feel comfortable enough to relax a little.  Truly, the dream.

We Don’t Know Ourselves by Fintan O’Toole (2022) – a superb blend of history and memoir in which journalist O’Toole looks at the changes in modern Ireland over the course of his life, from his birth in 1958 to the present day.  Reviewed here.

Borders by Thomas King (2021) – a graphic novel adaptation of an old short story by King about a boy and his mother trying to cross the Canada-US border.  When his mother is unwilling to identify her nationality as anything other than Blackfoot (whose lands straddle the border), the boy and his mother find themselves stuck in a no man’s land at the border crossing.

The Meet Cute Method by Portia MacIntosh (2022) – Still enjoying my discovery of MacIntosh’s romcoms.

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler (2016) – Reread of Tyler’s retelling of The Taming of the Shrew.

After the Romanovs by Helen Rappaport (2022) – another fascinating history from the always reliable Rappaport about the Russians who found their way to Paris both during the early years of the 20th Century and after the revolution.  Reviewed here.

A White Bird Flying by Bess Streeter Aldrich (1931) – excellent sequel to A Lantern in Her Hand from the perspective of Abby Deal’s granddaughter Laura.  Laura is determined to fulfil the genteel aspirations her grandmother never achieved but, ultimately, like Abby she finds herself tempted by love and the promise of friendship and a family.  Aldrich poignantly tracks the decline of the first generation of pioneers and reflects on how quickly the country has changed, that the grandchildren of those early settlers now take going to college for granted and have the whole world at their feet.

New Zealand Inheritance by Essie Summers (1957) – this was Summers’ first book and she certainly began as she meant to go on.  Roberta returns to her grandfather’s Otago farm in her mid-twenties, after travelling the world with her artistic parents and nursing them through their final years.  Now she is looking for roots and feels drawn back to Heatherleigh, where she spent one idyllic summer as a child.  When she arrives, it seems as though her grandfather’s one-time shepherd and now neighbour, Muir Buchanan, is paying her attentions with an eye to her inheritance.  Roberta, fighting her attraction, decides to lead him on a merry dance.

Roberta is the worst kind of heroine: a sensible person doing absolutely bonkers things to serve the plot.  And Muir is uselessly uncommunicative and struggling a bit with the chip on his shoulder.  Backed up by some absurdly melodramatic stories for secondary characters, it’s all a bit much.

How We Met by Huma Qureshi (2021) – a short, gentle memoir about Qureshi’s experiences growing up in a family and culture that shaped her approach to finding a romantic partner – and how she eventually chose a different path and a very different sort of husband.

Holding Her Breath by Eimear Ryan (2022) – I loved the writing in this story of a young woman starting a new life at university in Dublin, growing away from the swimming that defined her teen years and delving into her family’s past and the suicide of her famous poet grandfather. But…there are too many buts to count.  The plot and characterization are bog standard and I’m sure I’ll forget everything within a month or two.

See You Yesterday by Rachel Lynn Solomon (2022) – Extremely good YA novel about two university freshmen who find themselves stuck – à la Groundhog Day – reliving the same day over and over.  When they realise it’s happening to them both, they band together and start trying to break out of the loop and move forward with their lives.  As days turn to weeks, they have time to get to know one another, go a little loopy, work through some issues, and, very sweetly, fall in love.  It’s all delightful, funny, and poignant, and the characters, both dealing with baggage they don’t particularly want to confront, are highly relatable (if a little too emotionally evolved for eighteen year olds).