Sunday, September 30, 2018

Reading My Way Out of a Reality Funk

LUCY BURDETTE: The news has been so distressing and depressing lately that I’ve made a conscious effort to spend more time reading and less time obsessing about social media. Here’s what I’ve read recently—much of it colored by my trip to France and also the need to escape reality. I’d love to hear what you’re reading too!

THE ART OF INHERITING SECRETS by Barbara O’Neal: I am a huge fan of Barbara O'Neal and this book was no exception. She packed it with food, a fascinating English countryside setting, romance, family drama, and a female lead figuring out what her authentic life and self should be. (Yes, there were a few unrealistic plot threads, but who cares when the rest of the strengths kept me turning the pages deep into the night?)

THE LOST VINTAGE by Ann Mah: As a lover of France and food and family secrets, I very much enjoyed this novel from travel writer Ann Mah. Sommelier Kate travels from San Francisco to France to study Burgundy wines in advance of attempting to become a Master of Wine. In her extended family's vineyard and home, she finds terrible secrets buried in the past along with hope for happiness with the man and world she fled from years ago.

THE CROW TRAP by Ann Cleeves: You guys got me started on Ann Cleeves, and I am crazy for her Jimmy Perez Shetland series. Except I have only two left to read so I’m hoarding. On my trip I took along this first book in the Vera Stanhope series. It was the perfect book for a long journey (over 500 pages!), easy reading, complex characters, and a brooding landscape. So far I prefer JimmyJ, but I’ll definitely read more in this series.

COMING TO MY SENSES by Alice Waters: I read this memoir to get ready for Paris, as Alice Waters was a major Francophile and the founder of Chez Panisse. We grew up in a similar part of New Jersey, with similar non-gourmet food experiences. But that’s where the similarities end. She spent a year in Paris and had a food conversion experience that eventually led to her founding of the local food movement in California and the iconic restaurant she scratched out from nothing. She lived in Berkeley in the thick of the 1960’s—I found these descriptions fascinating.  


And currently reading THE LOST CAROUSEL OF PROVENCE by Juliet Blackwell. How about you?

74 comments:

  1. Recently I’ve read an ARC of “The Shotgun Lawyer” by Victor Methos; James Patterson's “Juror #3;” Chris McGeorge's “Guess Who;” An ARC of “A Thousand Doors: An Anthology of Many Lives” edited by J. T. Ellison; Riley Sager's “The Last Time I Lied;” Stuart Turton's “The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle;” and I’m in the middle of Rea Frey's “Not Her Daughter” . . . .

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    1. You're on a binge Joan! What have you loved most?

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    2. Actually, Lucy, all but one of them are books I would recommend . . . "The Thousand Doors" was an interesting concept . . . several authors wrote the middle of the story, each describing one of the different lives the main character might have lived, then the story was concluded. Very nicely done.
      “The Shotgun Lawyer” was a compelling character study based around a school shooting; “The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle” was very different, extremely well-done, and difficult to set aside . . . .

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    3. I LOVED Evelyn Hardcastle. One of my favorites this year.

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    4. I'm looking forward to The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. So glad to hear you liked it, Joan.

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  2. I am reading Another Side of Paradise by Sslly Koslow— it’s an imagined biography of Sheilah Graham, the paramour of F Scott Fitzgerald. It’s completely great, and I keep having to remember that Sally wrote it, and not Sheilah herself! And again, welcome home, Lucy/Roberta , your trip sounds amazing. It is about 630 in the morning, and I am in the Indianapolis airport… See you all again when I get home … XO

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    1. Sounds fascinating Hank, like one of Paula McLain's books? I will have to add it to my list. Safe travels home!!

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    2. Exactly! She said she was inspired by The Paris Wife.

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  3. Joan, I am eager to hear about the Evelyn Hardcastle book!

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    1. It’s quite intriguing and very different; definitely one to add to your to-be-read list . . . .

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    2. It's SO good. I couldn't put it down.

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  4. I, too, have been fleeing reality, Roberta. Back in the way-back I spent many years working with cops and prosecutors, and have been deeply disgusted by recent political developments. So I have been reading fictional "comfort food," including J.D. Robb's "Leverage in Death;" Catriona McPherson's Dandy Gilver series; Sparkle Abbey's "Desperate Housedogs;" and Jenn's "Hitting the Books." I'm sorry to say that I've been too angry to dig into Hank's "Trust Me." I'll save it for a happier day.

    One unexpected pleasure that washed a lot of the filth out of my mouth was stumbling onto the David Tennant/Catherine Tate version of "Much Ado About Nothing" on YouTube. It is clever, creative, joyful, and laugh-out-loud funny; a perfect tonic for what ails me just now.

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    1. That sounds like a perfect antidote to reality, Gigi. Will go look...

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  5. Today I am just beginning "Lilac Girls" but I've recently read 3 books that I really loved: "The Immaculate" and "Buried Troubles" by Marian McMahon Stanley and "Almost Sisters" by Joshilyn Jackson. All of these books were recommended here so thank you very much!

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    1. Oh yes, we love Marian Stanley here at JRW. And ALMOST SISTERS is one of my favorites...thanks Judi

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  6. When I flee reality, first stop is the familiar: "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. This wonderful story has been with me through personal and well as public crises. Have lost track of the number of times I've read it. This time around I've added your "Death on the Menu", Lucy (read twice) and am just beginning Jacqueline Woodson's "Harbor Me". If I had not given her "Brown Girl Dreaming" to a dear friend, I'd be re-reading that. Of course, Jungle Reds is a daily escape. ;-)

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    1. So happy to make it to your reread list Elisabeth. I'm going back to The Guernsey Literary too--have you seen the Netflix version of it? that's on my list. And now I'm going to look up Woodson...

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    2. Loved the Netflix version. I may have to watch that again this week....

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    3. Oh, the NEtflix is SO GOOD. Even Jonathan loved it.

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    4. I just read it for the first time last month, for my neighborhood book club. Loved it! No idea why it took me so long to get there.

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    5. If I have read a book, I avoid seeing a film or TV version. The places and the people just don't "look right". The opposite is not true: seeing film or TV, I'll go find the book. That is how I truly fell in love with Morse!

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  7. I love it when we share our reading.

    I'm working my way through the Shetland double quartet after weeping my way thru the last one, WILD FIRE not because it was sad but because I was. Life without Jimmy Perez is unspeakable.

    I also just finished the newest Kate Atkinson, TRANSCRIPTION. Whoa, almost couldn't put it down. It's the story of a young English girl, recruited by MI5, to listen in on and transcribe conversations among fifth columnists and an MI5 operative, or is he? As with all her stories, there isn't a spare word in the whole book.

    And I've started MIRROR, SHOULDER, SIGNAL, by Dorthe Nors, shortlisted for the Man Booker. It's pure delight. I think the translation must be good because I'm not noticing that it IS a translation unless I really overthink it.

    I read TRUST ME as soon as it hit the Kindle shelves, and trust me, you'll love it. I also read ALMOST SISTERS, liked it very much as well as CLOCK DANCE BY Anne Tyler, another favorite who couldn't write a bad book if someone held a gun to her head.

    MERCY'S CHASE, by Jess Lourey, whom I adore, is on the top of my pile, already to go.

    And Deb, I'm tapping my finger, waiting for your next one. Elephants have shorter gestation periods you know.

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    1. Ann Mason What!?! "life without Jimmy Perez." What does this mean? Spoiler Alert, for God's sake Ann, spoiler alert.

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    2. Not a spoiler. Well known that this is the final book in the Shetland series. Although she does leave the door open. Ann Cleeves said she wanted to go out on a high, has a new series in mind.

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  8. I have been alternating between reading and piecing quilt-tops to surround myself with positive moments and joy and laughter. I too just finished Wild Fire and said good-bye to Jimmy. I recommend The Lost for Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland. And squeaked in Last Call by Paula Matter and am now reading Charmed Bones by Carolyn Haines.

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    1. I'm a quilter, too, Flora, so I have to ask what pattern you are piecing. Can you tell me the history of the block? Is it one you chose, or a block challenge/mystery block thing? I have failed miserably in pulling together my piecing project for this season. I generally have quilt blocks to work on in every rehearsal but so far I haven't gotten my act together.

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    2. Gigi, I am doing scrap-quilts, inspired by fabrics 'found' in my stash, and quilts built around the nine-patch (3" blocks in the nine-patch). So no intricate patterns, it's just whatever fabrics/designs take my fancy as I put them together.

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    3. I love scrap quilts! I think my next project, when I get to it, will be the same--pulling lots of jewel tones and whites out of my scrap collection. Good luck with yours. The nine-patch can go lots of interesting ways.

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  9. Last week I finished Julia Spencer-Fleming's IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER, my review on my blog tipthewink.net up tomorrow, also IRONTOWN BLUES by John Varley, which was wonderful. Finished BAD BLOOD, which was both scary and fascinating, and STARSHIP TROOPERS, a Heinlein classic from 1959 that I was curious about. How would it stand up today? Pretty well, for what it is: early military SF. Now reading AGE OF WAR by Michael Sullivan, then next up is Hank's new one, TRUST ME.

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    1. Is that your first Julia SF read? If so, we are all so jealous!!

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    2. It is, I always like to start at the beginning of a series of possible. I'm kind of overwhelmed with books just now, but will get on to the second one soon!

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    3. My daughter has all Julia’s books both in download and on her iPad. When she has business travel these are her ‘bed’ books after a long tiring day. So happy to think of the pleasure ahead for you.

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    4. Molly Weston has a good take on not having to start at the book one of a series. When we meet new people, we aren't meeting them at the beginning of their lives. So it is with reading a series out of order.

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  10. Fabulous reads, Lucy! Thank you! I just finished Crazy Rich Asians (so good!) and am now enjoying Eleanor Oliphant Is Just Fine.

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    1. I have Eleanor on my nightstand. Maybe I will try her next. Never was intrigued by Crazy Rich until the movie reviews were so good. I will add it!

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  11. I have been on a Charles Todd binge. First, the new Bess Crawford novel, A Forgotten Place, which I loved (Caroline will be visiting the blog to talk about it on Thursday) and then the ARC of the next Ian Rutledge, The Black Ascot, which comes out in February (and that's fabulous, too.) Now I've started the new Robert Galbraith, Lethal White, which is really good so far. And at 650 pages, should at least get me through another week of trying not to read the news...

    Lucy, I have the new Julia Buckley on my Kindle.

    Oh, and the new Deb Harkness, Time's Convert, which I meant to buy in hardcover and accidentally ordered on Kindle. Grr. I have the trilogy in hardcover and wanted to add the new one. Also, my Kindle has stopped giving me any kind of progress markers or percentages. Anyone know how to fix that?

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    1. Oh, green with envy here--an ARC of the next Ian Rutledge??! ;-) I'm number 1 on the waiting list for A Forgotten Place in the library queue.

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    2. Deb, I’m having the same issue with my Kindle. I thought maybe I had accidentally hit something on the screen that changed settings.

      DebRo

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    3. I thought that, too, Deb, but can't figure out any way to fix it. So aggravating.

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    4. Definitely! It must be a Kindle thing. (Or a
      Deb thing?)

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    5. Debs, I got to read both ARCs - A Forgotten Place by Charles Todd and the Black Ascot by Charles Todd. Loved them both!

      Diana

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    6. The progress line/information on my Kindle will appear or disappear if I tap in the middle of the page I am reading . . . .

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    7. Joan, I tried that, but all it did was change to the next page.

      DebRo

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    8. Deb, for your Kindle problem, click on the Aa font thingie. Then you will see a couple more choices besides adjusting font size. One of them will let you choose reading progress, whether by page or percentage, time left in chapter or time left in book. For some reason this setting keeps getting turned off on my Kindle too, some sort of glitch but easily remedied.

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  12. Lucy/Roberta, We are watching the Shetland movies. They are visually breath taking.
    But I wonder...Each story seems to have elements that are not tied up by the end. Not things that are critical to the story solution, but odd bits just left.
    Is that the case with the books?
    One example is "Blue Lightning" on Fair Isle. The character who is caught in the burning building...No explanation is given for how he got there, why, and how he was injured.

    Libby Dodd

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    1. I haven't watched the TV show so can't compare. But I don't remember a bunch of loose ends. anyone else?

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    2. Libby Dodd...I just watched "Blue Lightning" last night and thought the same thing. And why don't those people wear some clothes with bright colors! Get rid of the drabbiness.

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    3. Lucy, I hoped you had read the book and might know the answers.

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  13. Lucy,

    I have the Alice Waters book and I have been meaning to read her Coming of Age this month. I am behind on my reading and I plan to catch up on my reading soon! I have been reading many ARC books, including Marilla of Green Gables, which I just finished. Your book choices look wonderful. I have an Instagram account and I focus on books. I discover new books through bookstagram recommendations.

    Diana

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    1. What is your Instagram handle? Would love to follow you! I am there as @LucyBurdette. We have a @jungleredwriters account too...

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    2. My Instagram handle is wonderwomandbookish.

      Diana

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    3. And thank you in advance for following me :-)

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  14. I feel your pain on the news angle. I've got a deadline so haven't been reading as much, but I did finish an arc of THE DREAMERS by Karen Thompson Walker. Such a lush and beautifully rendered book. Makes you think about how temporary we are as human beings.

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  15. Shalom Reds. Thank you all. I always find here so many marvelous “to be read” books for my list. Just yesterday, I had a two and a half hour bus ride that I had to endure. So instead of fighting with the bus’ wifi, I opened a book which was on my tablet. I think I may have mentioned these books here already. I have taken them off the shelf as part of looking for some stories that might be good for reading around a campfire at a camping trip which we have planned for the second weekend of October.
    So yesterday evening, on the bus, I read the first chapter of a short story called The Willows, by Algernon Blackwood. I have a hardcover book entitled Famous Ghost Stories edited by Bennett Cerf. The other story is a marvelous piece of satire or humor, called The Reluctant Dragon. I that’s the one I will pick. It can be read in under an hour and it’s good and suitable for all ages adults and children alike. I am not sure, but I think both of these stories are in the public domain.

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  16. I finished reading an advance copy of Michael Connelly's Dark Sacred Night which I'm reviewing for Mystery Scene.

    I also finished the Barbara Venkataraman mystery Engaged in Danger. I'm reading the Jon Land "Murder She Wrote" novel A Date With Murder.

    I just picked up (Thanks to this blog) the Kellye Garrett novel Hollywood Homicide. I'd like to say that I was reading the new Mary Daheim Emma Lord books but recently found out that her publisher is only putting the new books out via e-book, a decision I find both ridiculous and revolting.

    I'm also reading back issues of Classic Rock magazine. And for a break from reading (and the start of the new fall TV series), tonight I'm heading out to see a concert featuring Steve Grimmett's Grim Reaper.

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    1. Lucy, you could've knocked me over with a feather when I saw that I'd received it in order to review.

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  17. Yes, reading is comforting. I just reread the All Souls' Trilogy so I could remember the characters and then read Time's Convert. Loved all of them. I have reread all of Julia and Deborah and was going to do all of Harry Potter but I just opened Rhys' newest Georgie so I will be safe from the news for a while. I also got the Paula Munier from the library and I appreciate the recommendation. French Exit is next in my pile, then who knows. Maybe Harry, maybe Eudora Welty's short stories. Thank you all, Reds, for writing so I that I may have comfort.

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  18. Oh, I do so love seeing what everyone else is reading and sharing mine. September was a slow reading month because of going to Bouchercon and then coming back sick, but what I missed in quantity, I sure made up in quality. I've recently finished two ARCs, November Road by Lou Berney and Go to My Grave by Catriona McPherson. These two books are going to knock your socks off. Both stand-alone reads and deserving of the buzz they have created. Then, one of my favorite series and authors and friends has a new book out, Murder in Spite by Anne Cleeland. It's #8 in the outstanding Doyle and Acton series and, as always, I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. I just finished Murder in an English Village (Beryl and Edwina Mystery #1) by Jessica Ellicott. The title and the cover of this book grabbed me, and I was charmed by the story and characters. Last night before I went to bed, I picked up a Young Adult book by one of my favorite YA authors, Out of the Wild Night by Blue Balliett. It's a ghost story, so it fits in perfectly with October reads. I'm not sure if I'll read it or not yet though, as there are several books I'm itching to get to. First is the ARC of Elly Griffith's/Domenica de Rosa's The Stranger Diaries, which is her first stand-alone that everyone is waiting for. Dom is one of my favorite authors and people in the world, and I've been saving this read for October, as a special treat. It's going to be amazing, I know. Then, Martin Edward's much anticipated Gallows Court arrived on my doorstep this morning (I still can't get used to a Sunday delivery, but was thrilled). Martin and I spent some time together at Bouchercon, and I can't wait to crack Gallows Court open. Then, I just received Kate Atkinson's Transcription the other day, and I'm so excited about it. I also have Lethal White by Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling waiting for me in my TBR short stack.

    And, October has so many wonderful new books out in addition to the ones I mentioned above. The new Agatha Raisin, The Dead Ringer by M.C. Beaton, is out this Tuesday. My friend Terrie Moran has a new book out with Laura Childs in their Scrapbooking Mysteries, The Glitter Bomb Kate Morton's The Clockmaker's Daughter is out on the 9th, as is Tana French's The Witch Elm. Sharon Bolton's The Craftsman is out on the 16th, and I have been a fan of her books for years. And, Jeff Abbott's The Three Beths is out on the 23rd. All of these books plus the special Halloween reads I want to fit in and an out-of-town trip present quite the challenge, but being overwhelmed by books is a great place to be.

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  19. Lucy, "The Crow Trap" was my least favorite of the Vera books. Keep reading, and Vera may grow on you as much as Jimmy. I just finished "I Know You Know," Gilly Macmillan's latest. It was a page turner!

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    1. I'm glad to hear that! I had the feeling she was writing her way into the character, as we often do with a first book in the series. And it was weird that the named character didn't show up until page 230 something...as though no one had realized it would become a series with her at the center

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  20. When the news gets to be too much for me, I turn to books of humorous essays. A year ago August I started reading Laurie Notaro’s books of essays. I think I’ve read everything except her first couple of books. I’m constantly rereading them and have probably read exact one about six times. They are hysterically funny! With each rereading I laugh as much as I did the first time.

    I just started reading From This Day Forward, by Cokie and Steve Roberts.

    Fiction I have recently finished includes Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding by Rhys Bowen, Death on the Menu by Lucy Burdette, Hollywood Ending by Kellye Garrett, Low Country Bookshop by Susan Boyer. I’m currently reading Hank’s latest, Trust Me. The suspense!!! Reading that book has required lots of chamomile tea!

    I have numerous new books these days because I spent retirement gift money on books for myself. I’m having trouble finding room for them.

    Back to reading now.
    DebRo


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    1. Forgot to spell check: “each one”, not “exact one”.

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  21. Death on the Menu was one of my recent reads. I really enjoyed it. I'm even tempted to try the recipe for black beans. Usually I pass on the recipes in books since I'm mostly vegan, but this one reminded me of when my Cuban friend made me black beans and rice about 20 years ago. They were the best beans I've ever eaten, hands down. On my ereader I'm enjoying Lisa Q. Mathews's Permanently Booked, a fun cozy bound to lighten your spirits. I've also been working my way through my Bouchercon books, including Hank's fabulous Trust Me.

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  22. Deborah Crombie, for some reason I can't reply to your comment (I've been having commenting issues lately), but I know on my Kindle app if I tap the bottom of the screen where the progress marker and percentage line is it will toggle to the next display option. Not sure if it's the same on an actual Kindle, but you could try tapping where your progress bar normally shows up to see if it comes back.

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  23. I, too, have been hiding from the news by reading books. I have been devouring mysteries. Thanks for sharing what you are all reading these days. I love that some of you are rereading books that you love. I am a chronic re-reader. This month I am rereading all of James R. Benn's "Billy Boyle, World War II Mysteries" in preparation for his new book, "Solemn Graves," which is sitting on my night table. Now that I've been bitten by the "mystery bug,", I've begun reading Louise Penny's series featuring Inspector Gamache. In August, I finished the latest Christine Carbo book, reading all 4 of her Glacier National Park mysteries this summer. Many thanks to Deborah Crombie for recommending her just before my husband and I left on a trip to Glacier National Park. He loved her books. He's read all my Deborah Crombie books, too, which are sitting at my best reading buddy's house 1200 miles from here. She has finished them all and loved them. We are all eagerly awaiting the next Gemma/Duncan story.

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  24. I too always love the days when everyone shares what they are reading. My recent reads include "the Reluctant Fortune Teller " by Keziah Frost; The Cake Therapist " by Judith Fertig; and "London Rules " by Mick Herron. Currently reading "Murder in Hindsight " by Anne Cleeland and "The Gifts of Imperfection" by Brene Brown. Queued up next are "The Immortists" by Chloe Benjamin; "Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine" by Gail Honeyman; and "Trust Me" by Hank. And I had not realized the new Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling book was out!

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  25. Finishing 'The Vanity Fair Diaries' by Tina Brown, midway through a book I found in the pile of unread books by my bed "The Tale of Murasaki' by Liza Dalby & just started 'The Year of Living Danishly' by Helen Russell - bit of an eclectic list but I'm coping!

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