Where You Once Belonged

Ken Haruf

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Jack Burdette was once Holt’s Golden Boy. High School football player, hail-fellow-well-met, he seemed on the road to success. Then he disappeared, taking a large amount of other people’s money with him. Now nearly 10 years later, he’s back. The impact of his life and crimes has hurt many people, and they want revenge.

Kent Haruf turns his eye on this man and the lives of people he has hurt. An almost detached. clinical view, but with the compassionate, empathetic vision that has to be teased out of his spare prose. A lovely book.

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Run

Ann Patchett

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The story of family, family secrets, and love. Tip Doyle, ambitious Boston politician, wants to share his ambitions with his two adopted son. Unfortunately, they want nothing to do with politics. One snowy evening, their lives change forever when an automobile accident brings their sister into their lives.

Ann Patchett has the marvelous ability to write about family relationships  in a way that the end of the book is always a surprise. I have loved her writing since reading Bel Canto, and this book will be added to my list of favorites. Highly recommended.

Tamara Drewe

Posy Simmonds

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Take a quiet little farm in the countryside peopled with writers on retreat, mix in one made-over lovely, and watch the sparks fly. Loosely based on Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd, this book tells the tale of one Tamara Drew, a girl who just wants to have fun. Unfortunately, she breaks hearts and ruins lives in her wake.

Beth Hardiman, the dumpy, faithful, hard-working wife of best-selling novelist Nick Hardiman, watches as all her hard work to create a quiet work space for husband and the group of wanna-be writers, begins to crumble when Tamara starts disturbing the peace. Even Alex the gardener is drawn to her beauty. When Ben, her rock-star boyfriend leaves, she turns her attention to Nick. Mix in two disturbed, bored teenagers, and you have all the elements of a real disaster in the making.

I don’t understand people who say “I don’t read graphic novels.” When they are this good, they are really missing out.

The Gipsy in the Parlor

Margery Sharp

The Gypsy in the Parlour: A Novel by [Sharp, Margery]

The first Margery Sharp novel I read was Cluny Brown, and I’ve been hooked ever since. It could have been any one of them, really. They are all witty and  insightful. Her character descriptions are so sharp, the people live in your memory.

This story tells of a young, impressionable girl who is easily taken in by a sharp young woman who is willing to take advantage of the good will of others. Of course, she gets her comeuppance in the end, but the delight is in reading of her unmasking.

Most satisfying.

Wise Virgin

A. N. Wilson

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A.N. Wilson is better known for his biographies and works of popular history, but he also wrote novels. Among them is this amusing tale of Giles Fox, a medieval scholar who has lost his eyesight during his long career devoted to the transcription and translation of The Treastise of Heavenly Love, a nod to the 13th century Ancrene Wisse. Along the way, has has managed to marry and survive two wives and has a third woman on the string, much to the dismay of his seventeen-year-old daughter, Tibba.

Although not to everyone’s taste, I found this mordantly funny story very amusing.

 

 

Wild Seed

Olivia Butler

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I used to read science fiction by the ton, then I drifted away. I had heard about Olivia Butler, and when her Patternist tetralogy turned up on one of my subscription lists for  $1.70, I decided to take a chance. I mean 4 books for $1.70 is quiet a bargain. Well, not only was it a smokin’ deal, the books are mind-boggling.

This is the first book in the series and introduces Doro and Anwanyu. He is a being thousands of years old, who extends his life by taking over another’s body. She is a 300-year-old healer and shapeshifter.  He is trying to breed individuals with psychic powers, and she is attempting to prevent him. This book is their initial struggle for mastery.

I am deep into the second book now, and it just keeps getting better. I’m glad I took a chance on an author new to me.

A Book of Bees: And How to Keep Them

Sue Hubbell

 

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My grandfather kept bees on his property in Nevada. When we went to visit, I would spend hours lying in the grass by the hives just watching the bees. I was too young to be afraid, and no one knew what I was doing, so there were no warnings. It was a remarkable time of freedom for a young child. When my mother expressed worry if I had been gone so long, my grandfather told her not to worry. His dog Queenie, my constant companion, would keep me safe. And so she did.

I have always been fascinated by bees. I have never lived in a place that would accommodate keeping them, so it was always an unrequited love. I have read so many books about bees, fiction and non-fiction over the years that I feel I know them. I will pick up any book with bees in the title, and I have learned much about them. Ms Hubbell’s book is the latest in a long series.

Keeping and maintaining more than 300 hives is far beyond anything I had imagined. It is a full-time, year-round occupation with periods of intent activity. She describes her year from the high of a honey flow to the relative down-time of winter. Each season brings its own work to fill the hours. There is no vacation for a large bee-keeping/honey producer.

If you are at all interested in keeping bees, this book is full of valuable, if dated, information.