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July booklist

1.      The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman (audio)

I would have preferred the actual book for this one (my mind wanders during audios and I don’t want to miss a thing when it comes to Gaiman) but my library got the audio version in a full month before we were going to have the print, so audio it was.

So many people have reviewed this at length, so I’ll just say: Gaiman says it’s his most personal work to date, and I think it’s his most affecting and touching work precisely for that reason. It’s Important-with-a-capital-I, and about so much more than just a mysterious trio of ageless, magical women and a duck pond that’s an ocean. The book wouldn’t work nearly so well without the fantasy elements, but it’s not really about them, if that makes sense.

2.      Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François

Normally I wouldn’t count a cookbook in these lists, but I did read it cover to cover – and there’s a fair bit of introductory how/why kind of info included. I tried three of the recipes. They were all good and made bread comparable to some of the recipes I’ve used that take a full three days, so that’s good. The drawback for me currently: who has enough fridge space to store enough dough for 2-3 weeks?! With a family full of hearty eaters, not us. When I’m in a household of one it’ll probably be different.

3.      Serving Victoria, Kate Hubbard

This one explores the lives of various servants and staff of Queen Victoria, primarily through their letters and diaries. As I recall, it includes many ladies in waiting, one of her doctors, her pastor, and the head of her nursery, plus others I’m forgetting. The picture it paints of Victoria is not very flattering: a micromanager prone to melodrama, and very self-centered, though often generous … when it suited her.

4.      The Dutchess of Bloomsbury Street, Helene Hanff

I didn’t know there was a sequel to 84 Charing Cross Rd until I stumbled upon this, which might be even more charming. In fact, I’m sure it is! In this one, Helene finally – with much fear and trepidation – ventures across the pond to England herself. The writing is just so precious and wonderful. I want to be her friend so badly, except that I’m sure she’s probably dead by now.

5.      Outlander, Diana Gabaldon

Commence Great Epic Gabaldon reread! There are few authors that can bring me headlong into a story as well as Gabaldon. History, a wee bit of time travel, tall red-headed Scotsmen … all my favorite things, right here. I don’t recommend them to everyone because of some of the content, but if you need a good story, it’s hard to beat this.

Unless you’re some people, I suppose. I did see some complaining Goodreads reviews that were all “THERE IS TOO MUCH DETAIL.” I don’t think there could be such a thing in this books, but of course that’s a matter of opinion.

In fact, I often wish for more details - I think it’s almost unrealistic that Claire doesn’t remark more on the different sanitary conditions, for instance, or even anything else that she finds strange – no matter what kind of  20th c. rough living she’s used to, 18th c. is still really different and she seems to adapt with supernatural ease. I’m also surprised that more comment isn’t made of her sounding different/having a different vocabulary than the 18th century folk.

6.      Tripwire, Lee Child

Continuing the Great Epic Lee Child Read – another great one. The writing continues, thank goodness, to improve.

7.      Dragonfly in Amber, Diana Gabaldon

The whole book feels tinged in sadness, since you know ahead of time what the end will be. And I didn’t really get a good feel for how much time was passing (which may be the fault of my reading, not the author); I was surprised to read later than she and Jamie were married three-ish years before *cough cough spoilers*.

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Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
kiwiria
Aug. 1st, 2013 08:54 am (UTC)
I need to do a Diana Gabaldon reread... perhaps when the next book comes out???
eattheolives
Aug. 7th, 2013 04:56 pm (UTC)
I had forgotten SO much about the series! I can't remember when the next book comes out, but I figure now I'll be more prepared. :)
katharhino
Aug. 1st, 2013 11:55 am (UTC)
Yeah, I'm one of the people who can't take Outlander. It IS absorbing, until the graphic content pulls me out. And I don't normally consider myself a squeamish person, but wow. It's not the sex, for the record, it's the violence. Too yucky for me, even if it IS historically accurate.

Also probably way too epic a series - I never would have stuck with it for that many thousands of pages anyway.

I'm glad the Bread in 5 Minutes a Day worked for you! I'm a big believer in that method, though I like to change it up when I'm in the mood for a really proper bread recipe with lots of getting your hands in the dough. But as an everyday staple it's the only way I can commit to making all our bread. But yeah, you're right on the fridge space. It's kind of an annoyance.
eattheolives
Aug. 7th, 2013 04:56 pm (UTC)
She has a very ... *realistic* way of writing, for sure!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )