Monday, 19 August 2019

Read in 2019 - 16, 17, 18

# 16: The Scotch Twins
by Lucy Fitch Perkins

It is actually Monica's "fault" that I downloaded and read this free ebook from Amazon's kindle shop: She reviewed it on her blog here, and her review made me interested enough in looking for some of the series myself.

This childrens book is set in late 19th/early 20th century Scotland, somewhere in the highlands. There is a small house where a widowed shepherd and his twelve year old twins live, a village with church and school, and of course a "big house", the manor or castle where the lord resides who owns everything, including the shepherd's house.

The twins are of course the book's heroes. The girl does all the household work, with a little help from her brother every now and then. In their free time, they are pretty much free to roam the woodland around them, often with a friend or two.

Their life is perfect for them - but there is talk of the lord of the manor wanting to transform all his land into hunting grounds, not renewing the leases of his tenants, forcing them to find accomodation and make a living elsewhere. It worries the small family and their friends and neighbours, but they feel helpless about it.

One day, the children meet a stranger while they play near the river, a boy their age. They soon include him in their circle of friends, and have many adventures together, even winning an informal "war" against the game keeper with the help of the newcomer.

Then the old lord dies, and nobody knows what is going to happen next. Will the heir carry out the plans and force those who have been living here for generations to seek their fortune elsewhere?

Needless to say, all ends well. I enjoyed the book for its simple and clear message, and the old-fashioned language (it was published in 1919).


# 17: The Heavenly Italian Ice Cream Shop
by Abby Clements

My mother-in-law often sends or gives me books she has enjoyed particularly, and this one was accompanied by the words "You'll love it". And while it certainly was a very pleasant and undemanding read, to "love" it would say too much; I simply did not care enough for any of the characters, and I can not even tell you why.

The author has done nothing wrong - the people, places and situations are described well and most of their actions are credible. Many readers can probably relate to what it means to lose a beloved aunt, mother or grandmother; to start a new chapter in life, moving to a new place or even a new country; to be young parents or new shop owners; to deal with overbearing in-laws and suprise encounters with ex-boyfriends or -girlfriends.
All of this and more happens in the book, and all of it is of course solved to satisfaction, after some obstacles are overcome.

On the cover, it says "The perfect summer read - love, secrets and sorbets!" which pretty much sums it up. 

I have only just discovered that this was not my first book by Abby Clements; I read a Christmas-themed one back in 2013. You can find the short review here.

Extra points for good editing - I don't think I noticed any typing or editing errors. 


# 18: This Green and Pleasant Land
by John Andrews

The contrast between this and my previous two reads could hardly be greater - the settings, the cast of characters, their problems and how they go about to solve them.

Out of laziness, I am copying here the summary from Google Books:
Set around the northern city of Leeds, the main character Alex Roberts, an ex-soldier, has everything in life he wants, in his mid-thirties with a beautiful, pregnant wife and young son he loves dearly, he owns a successful business and has a happy contented lifestyle, which is shattered by the tragedy of his wife and child dying in a motorway accident. His life and his business collapse in a haze of sleepless, nightmare ridden nights and excessive drinking. As he attempts to rebuild his life, a spiteful character from his past comes back to haunt him and contributes to his downfall. With his home repossessed he moves to a flat on a council estate where through a series of random unrelated incidents Alex finds himself in violent conflict with the gang who control the area and most of the drug dealing in West Yorkshire. The story centres on the fight of good against evil and explains how each of the individual characters involved developed into the people they've become and how they interact with each other.
I suppose the Leeds-based setting was what originally made me download this free ebook, but maybe I should not have bothered. Even for a free ebook, this one is particularly badly written and edited. There was hardly a page without errors; grammar was mostly absent, and the only reason I kept going was that I wanted to know how Alex manages to win his one-main fight against an army of drug dealers and other criminals without it sounding too unlikely (it still DID sound rather unlikely).

Also, I must admit the author seems to know a lot about how organised crime works, and that in itself was interesting; a bit like reading an article explaining the business-like approach behind so much of what makes our world a dangerous and brutal place; a glimpse into a parallel universe I knew does exist but hope never to come into close contact with.
At least a tiny bit of editing would have done some good, but I guess one can not expect that from a self-published (?) free ebook.

17 comments:

  1. Three very different books! I have The Scotch Twins on my Kindle from years ago. Also The French Twins and The Dutch Twins. I think we talked about them on a book discussion group I'm on. What three different books you write about here! I might have read the second one, or something else by that author. And the third one I believe I will skip.

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    1. You do well to skip the third one, Kristi!
      Interesting how the "Twins" series by Lucy Fitch Perkins is still being read and talked about, 100 years after most of the books were published. I have one more of the series on my kindle but will read other books before I'll go back to the simple pleasure of an old children's book.

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  2. I cannot abide reading books where proof-reading has been thrown out pf the window. As soon as I find more than one or two glaringly obvious spelling and/or grammatical errors I switch off and usually am unable to finish the book. I admire you for persevering!

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    1. Ha...just seen my own mistype there. Oops.

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    2. If I had been reading the book in longer stretches and not just for a few minutes on the train to and from work, I doubt I'd have persevered!
      And a typo on a blog comment is not like an entire book that has obviously not been proof-read :-)

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  3. It will soon be my turn to choose our Book Group choice for the month and when I saw youe heading I thought you might have something to recommend. Alas no. If you have anything then I would appreciate you telling me about it.

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    1. You are right, none of the three reviewed here would be fit for your Book Group. Have you read "The Little Stranger" by Sarah Walters? You can click here for my review.

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  4. What fun to be reminded of the Scotch Twins. Thanks for the link :) I don't think I ever (yet) got round to reading any of the other twin books by the same author, although I think I may have downloaded one or two more.

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    1. The wikipedia list of the author's complete "Twins" series is impressive - but there are no German Twins, which is maybe for the better, as I would have possibly cringed at some of the clich├ęs :-)

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    2. Haha. Yes, as with most old classics one really has to keep in mind when they were written and that the world has changed a bit since then :) I have an old reader (school book) of my grandfather's from 1910, and among other things it tries to describe characteristics of people living in the various provinces of Sweden... Some prejudices may still linger in colloquial language but would be a scandal in any serious context now!

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    3. I know what you mean!
      Speaking of how things have changed, on the other hand, I am sometimes surprised to find certain expressions in books that were written so long ago I would not have thought that certain way of saying something was already known back then. For instance, in a book from the early 1900s, I came across the expression "red letter day", meaning exactly the same as it does today.

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  5. I come here to your book reviews not only to find out what might interest me but also what definitely won’t. Your current selection is among the latter category.
    I was told by those who know (or should know) these things that ‘Scotch’ is properly used to describe Scotch as in Whiskey and that Scottish is the correct term for inhabitants of Scotland. Maybe that wasn’t so when the book was written.
    Okay, I am a bit of a snob/nerd/pedant.

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    1. Friko, I am not just a bit of a snob/nerd/pedant when it comes to using correct terms, grammar, ortography and punctuation. And believe it or not, when I was sitting down to write these three reviews, before looking up the "Twins" book to remind myself of the name of its author, in my mind I had the title down as "The Scottish Twins". But yes, we have to consider the book's age, too; the English language has changed in some ways since then.

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  6. These books don't interest me, and, like Friko, I find the use of 'Scotch' instead of Scottish annoying. (I'm half Scottish.) Can you put a book down once you have started to read it? It has to be REALLY bad before I abandon any book, even if I'm not enjoying it I have to find out what has happened. Book covers matter to me and are often a reason for my choosing what I will read- these ones are rather grim! I've posted some of the books that I'm reading this month on my Miss Cellany site. http://storiesinwood.blogspot.co.uk My best read this month was 'Olive Kitteridge' by Elizabeth Strout.

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    1. Same here - it is rare for me to abandon a book once I've started on it, but there have been a few over the past 10 years. Of course, I don't write a review of those.
      The use of Scotch instead of Scottish may be annoying, but that's what the book was called; maybe 100 years ago, that was the normal use of the word, maybe it has to do with the fact that the author was American.
      Miss Cellany? That's a fun name! I'll pop over to that blog in a bit, thank you for pointing it out for me!

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  7. I was so pleased to see one of the "Twins" books. I discovered them as a child and was really hooked on them. I think I must have read every one, although I have forgotten them now. They were dated even then, although I didn't realise of course, but now they are sufficiently long ago to have a period feel to them. I really must think about them for my twin grandkids who are a boy and a girl. They are just a bit young at the moment.

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    1. On my kindle, I have the Irish Twins waiting to be read but none of the others. Wikipedia has a complete list, so you can check which ones you remember and if there are maybe a few more you have missed when you were a child.

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