Library Book Sale

It must have been more than a year since there was a library book sale in Kirkcaldy so I was really looking forward to last Saturday’s at the Adam Smith Theatre. I could have bought a lot but I find I’m getting quite choosy in my old age. Apart from anything else, I have so many books in my TBR pile, so I’m really trying not to add too many more, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to buy these ones.

Agatha Raisin and Love, Lies and Liquor by M.C. Beaton

Loving and Giving by Molly Keane

The Gravedigger’s Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates

Sleeping Tiger by Rosamund Pilcher

How We Built Britain by David Dimbleby

Josephine – A Life of the Empress by Carolly Erickson

How To Be A Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson

AA Leisure Guide to Scotland

Jack didn’t buy anything at all, he did see three which he had just bought online a few weeks ago, Sod’s law of course. The same thing happened to me when we were in the Lake District.

Anyway, that lot should keep me busy for a wee while. Having just read the blurb, I’m now not sure about the Joyce Carol Oates book, has anybody read it?

I think the book I’m most chuffed with is the Dimbleby, How We Built Britain. We both enjoyed watching his TV programme with the same title.


Library Book Haul

I hadn’t intended going into the library but after going for a walk along the esplanade where we ended up having our skin blasted by very sharp snowflakes, the library in the high street was calling to us as a place to get warm and dry – for a wee while anyway.

I ended up borrowing Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham by M.C. Beaton. I had wanted to read all of these books in order but that would mean requesting them all one by one so I’m just going to get them as I can, so long as they aren’t too recent. This one was published in 1999. Doesn’t that number look weird and so old-fashioned, I’m obviously getting used to the 20 numbers!

I also picked up The Lake Shore Limited by Sue Miller. This has a sticker on it saying that it’s by the author of The Senator’s Wife which apparently was a Richard and Judy bestseller! That’s the sort of thing which usually puts me right off a book but I think that Peggy Ann read this one recently and enjoyed it so I’ll give it a go as I’m trying to read some more up to date fiction now and again.

I stopped looking then as I had thawed out a bit and was ready to brave the weather in the street, and at least I’ve done a bit towards keeping the library numbers up.

As if that wasn’t enough, when we got back home I started having a wander around Project Gutenberg and came across the name Isabel Anderson in their lists. Such a Scottish sounding name – I thought, so I had to have a look and see what I could find out about her and her writing. It turns out that Anderson was her married name, she was previously Isabel Weld Perkins from Boston and at one point she was apparently the wealthiest woman in the world. The upshot is that I downloaded her book The Spell of Japan as I thought it might be interesting and the original cover looked lovely, she also wrote one called The Spell of the Hawaii Islands and the Philippines and one about Belgium as well as one fiction book.
You can see her books here if you’re interested.

That should keep me busy for a while!

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M C Beaton

This is the first book in the Agatha Raisin series. I enjoyed reading Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage previously but I decided to read the whole series in order. No problem I thought as there are always a lot of M C Beaton books in the library, but the first one just wasn’t popping up.

So, when I spotted a copy in a charity shop I snapped it up. They were doing two paperbacks for a pound so I also bought Josephine Tey’s To Love and Be Wise, which means I now have all of her books.

Anyway, back to Agatha. This is an enjoyable light read, perfect for when you don’t want to have to concentrate on anything too deeply. The sort of book which you can read whilst waiting to hear your name being called at the doctor’s or when you’re on a train and keeping one eye cocked on the landscape so that you don’t go past your stop inadvertently.

Agatha has just sold her very successful PR business in London and has moved to an idyllic cottage in the Cotswolds. It has been her ambition to do this ever since she was a child, but it isn’t long before she’s wondering if she has done the right thing and is pining for London life. When she makes an effort to join in with the social events of the village she becomes embroiled in a murder.

All jolly good fun which I found especially enjoyable because all of the towns and villages mentioned had been visited by us on our last British road trip so I could envisage the scenery.

Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage by M.C. Beaton

I borrowed this book from the library and it’s the first Agatha Raisin book I’ve read, I’ve wanted to start at the beginning of the series since Jo at The Book Jotter has been enjoying reading the books. Unfortunately this one is fifth in the series but I decided to read it anyway. These books are set in the Cotswolds, and as there are quite a few mentions of towns which we visited during our recent road trip, it did add to the reading experience, it’s nice to be able to picture the actual locations.

I enjoyed this one, I think you could call it a good book for a bad day. There’s nothing at all intellectualy stimulating about it which makes it perfect for taking your mind off things or reading on a journey or hanging about in a queue, good holiday reading too. It only took a couple of hours to get through.

Agatha Raisin is getting married to James Lacey, her next door neighbour, and she is keeping her fingers crossed that her previous husband is dead, otherwise she’ll be committing bigamy. As you can imagine – things don’t go well and murder and mayhem ensue. It’s a bit daft really, what I call ‘marshmallow reading’ but sometimes that’s just what you need.

I had heard a bit of the first book in this series on BBC Radio 4 Extra one night when I was doing the dishes. From what I heard then, Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death seemed to have had more humour in it. I think that the books might turn out to be a bit samey but I’ll definitely read a few more of them, I can’t see myself ploughing therough all M.C. Beaton’s output though, they’re churned out at quite a rate.

One thing did strike me as funny, which wasn’t supposed to be amusing. M.C. Beaton was a wee bit economical with the commas early on in the book, page 7 to be exact, where this is written:

Such men as James Lacey were for other women, county women with solid county backgrounds, women in tweeds with dogs who could turn out cakes and jam for church fetes with one hand tied behind their backs.

I had to read it again as it didn’t make sense – who’s doing the baking – the women or the dogs? Surely if dogs they should have a paw tied behind their back!

Then I realised it was just the lack of a comma or two which caused the confusion. Sad really because I did have a vision of a dog doing the baking and jam making, and do admit, it would have been funnier!

Anyway I want a dog like that, especially for baking the things that I’d still be marked F for Fail on, like scones and bread, but I’m thinking it would have to be a poodle because they don’t cast hairs!

Beatrice Goes To Brighton by M.C. Beaton

I had no idea that M.C. Beaton was a Scot, never mind a fellow Glaswegian until very recently, about five minutes ago actually. I haven’t even seen Hamish McBeth on TV, she wrote those books too. I’ve been meaning to start reading her Agatha Raisin/crime series but I want to start it from the beginning and I haven’t got a hold of the first one yet. So when I saw Beatrice Goes To Brighton in the library I thought I might as well give it a go, even although romance is not my favourite thing.

If you’re looking for holiday/bedtime reading or just something which you don’t have to concentrate on too much then this is the perfect choice. Good light reading and a bit of a laugh now and again. The funniest bits for me were when the characters get all romantic – a la Mills and Boon, it reminded me of when I used to work in a library and to cheer ourselves up in the morning, just before we unlocked the door to let in the public, we used to take turns at opening a Mills and Boon and reading the very last page out loud – in a very plummy voice. Such fun!

In this one Miss Pym, who has had some success as a romantic matchmaker in the past is travelling to Brighton by stage-coach and comes into contact with the 28 year old Lady Beatrice who has recently become a widow, much to her relief. Beatrice had been married off to an older man who was a gambler and boozer, unfortunately it took him 10 years to slowly drink himself to death, by which time he had gone through most of his money.

It wasn’t long before Beatrice’s parents were trying to marry her off again to the ghastly Sir Geoffrey. Can Miss Pym help Beatrice?

Thanks again to Jo at The Book Jotter for pointing me in M.C. Beaton’s direction.

Library Haul and Scones

I had another bash at baking scones today. They’re something that I just can’t get right, usually they could be used as ice hockey pucks. This afternoon’s date scones are edible but they aren’t the lovely light consistency that I’m looking for and they didn’t rise much as usual, I think Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood would say that they’ve been ‘overworked’ – don’t know what else it can be.

Anyway to cheer myself up I went to the library. The main library is going to be closed for a year I think, whilst it’s refurbished so I haven’t been to a library for about six weeks. One of the many empty shops in the high street has been turned into a small library for the duration, it’s better than nothing! Actually I think it’s a good idea as the original library building isn’t exactly central and there are loads of people in the town who have never darkened its door. They just may get some new readers in Kirkcaldy!

I came out with:

The Odd Women by George Gissing. I think it was Anbolyn of gudrun’s tights who read this one recently and it was recommended in the introduction to Patrick Hamilton’s Slaves of Solitude. By the way, in case you don’t know yet, Anbolyn has done another ‘flit’ actually and virtually and her new place is looking spiffing!

Star Gazing by Linda Gillard – I’ve enjoyed her previous books.

Beatrice Goes to Brighton by M.C. Beaton – which I hope is going to be a hoot. I think this is one which Jo at The Book Jotter enjoyed.

Midsummer Night in the Workhouse by Diana Athill. I know nothing about this book and I chose it simply because it’s a Persephone, so it’ll be interesting to see what it’s like.

Now why did I borrow four books when I have loads of books of my own which I should be reading?! Oh yes, it was to cheer myself up after yet another scone failure. Does anybody have a foolproof scone recipe?

Library Haul

I freely admit that I’m a real coward when it comes to reading new authors and that’s just one of the reasons why I read Jo @ The Book Jotter. Jo definitely comes under the category of brave reader because she’s happy to try out unknown quantities.

So when I saw a Carola Dunn book in my library called Manna From Hades I was happy to borrow it in the knowledge that Jo is quite keen on her books. This one is set in Cornwall and that’s always a plus for me too.

I also chose a book by M.C. Beaton called The Skeleton in the Closet for the same reason. I hadn’t realised that Beaton wrote the Hamish Macbeth series, mind you, I didn’t even watch that when it was on TV.

The Skeleton in the Closet cover

Then I got to the reason why I was at the library at all – Alexander McCall Smith, he’s writing his books too damn fast as far as I’m concerned, with the result that I have some catching up to do in the Scotland Street series. I borrowed the two which I haven’t got around to yet – The Importance of Being Seven and Bertie Plays the Blues. So I’m going to be busy with library books when I should be making inroads on my book piles at home. I’m looking forward to them though.

It seems that there are a few libraries around which are being refurbished at the moment. I spotted a small notice on the library door which said that it is going to be closed for more than a year!

You know what it’s like when a favourite tasty-bite has that dreaded slogan on it New Improved Recipe – well my heart always sinks when I read that because it’s almost always a change for the worse, probably because they’re using inferior and cheaper ingredients. I bet something similar happens to my library, it’ll be gutted and modernised and what is left of its original Victorian character will be scrubbed out, and all at great cost. I thought that local councils were supposed to be trying to save money in these dire economic times!

It has occurred to me that I might not have to see the effects of the modernisation because if everything goes to plan we’ll be living in another part of Scotland by then. Meantime a couple of the many empty shops in the High Street are going to be turned into a library for the duration of the refurbishment, I suppose it has the advantage that it will be central.