Monday, December 9, 2013

Read Alouds 2013

It's been ages since I wrote about the books we have been reading aloud. We hit a bit of a dry spot, or as the crossword puzzles keep suggesting, a sere spot over the spring. We attempted several books and kept hurling them out of the window. I don't wish to speak ill of the hurled. Although, I certainly dissed "Silver" in the past and wished I had hurled it. Mostly, they were so ghastly as read-a-louds that I forgot the titles.

[Apparently full disclosure is required these days. The following links are to or That's because it is easy technically. We buy 90% of our books from our local bookshop, Bookmark, on Spring Garden Road. They are fabulous, have great service and order in anything that I would buy form Amazon dot anything. The other 10% come from Woozles Children's Bookstore on Birmingham, or if out of print, via Abe books. No moolla coming back to me.]

By the beginning of the summer we have had a few books that that worked nicely. An oldie, a goodie and a ghastly was Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep.

"When a dying millionaire hires Philip Marlowe to handle the blackmailer of one of his two troublesome daughters, Marlowe finds himself involved with more than extortion. Kidnapping, pornography, seduction, and murder are just a few of the complications he gets caught up in."( from blurb.)

We liked it. We've each read it a couple of times before on our own. We were a bit desperate too. Chandler has a tight writing style and can really pack a punch with his descriptions of characters and place. The plot holds enough twists that it kept us interested all the way through. I think any Chandler book are good road-trip sorts of books. We had this with us at the camp up until August.

In August, oh wow! We waited a long time for this treat.

Return to the Willows by Jacqueline Kelly, illustrations by Clint Young

One of Steve's favourite books is Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahaem. I love Jacqueline Kelly's writing. Kelly wrote The Education of Calpurnia Tate. I read it on  my own. Very good. So,we were fairly certain she would do a good job of telling a new story. The back of the book jacket says "A riveting tale of bravery, bravado, and hot-air ballooning!" And Toad remains very much Toad. The illustrations are great fun. It took us most of August to read it. I wouldn't give it a full 100%, there was a bit of Toad that gnawed my nerves. I'd have kicked him, instead of rescuing him, but then, I have been known to be a bit impatient with toads.

We switched to two audio books for the fall.

 Three Men in a Boat written by Jerome K. Jerome, read by Hugh Laurie. This version is abridged. Laurie reads all the funny bits and it is a hoot. There is a longer version available, but I wasn't fussy on the reader. Three over privileged, silly men decide to row down a river. Ill prepared in their goods or for the work, chaos ensues. It is in the spirit of a Wodehouse book.

Then, not too surprisingly, we thought of Wodehouse. I'm not sure why we chose to remain with an audio book. I prefer Steve's voice to most voices. I'm not sure what he thinks of mine. We dipped into a variety of voices reading the adventures of Blanding's Castle and the Empress Pig who wins pig competitions.

November we took a brief dip into
The Lord God Made them All by James Herriot. Don't let that cute dog fool you. The first chapter dealt with castrating half grown bulls. I had to skip those paragraphs so Steve wouldn't faint. I also skipped details on a Cesarian section on a cow. He writes well, it is comic and charming, he talks about his young family and yet... I'm not sure if we'll go back to it.

Our visit with Herriot was cut short because we were waiting for this little saucy number to come along.

We have read the entire series and that is something I ordinarily avoid. I like a series to be finished before I get into it in case I love it and then I don't want to wait for the author to be fanny about writing. So far, I love this series and am willing to endure the anticipation. Flavia, an 11 year old chemistry whiz and a torment to her two older sisters seems to discover murders everywhere. She solves them in her own impulsive but logical way. She arrives at a conclusion quite different from that of the Inspector but ultimately, the criminal is caught. Nothing like a good murder story to take us into the Christmas season!

We haven't made any final decisions on our Winter reading list. On the stack are If on a Winter's Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino and the second in the Elizabeth Peter's book, The Curse of the Pharaohs. Suggestions are welcome. Plots are essential.

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