Everything is terrible

November 18, 2016

Please recommend to me your favorite book that I haven’t read. Free ebooks a bonus, obviously.


  1. Have you read the
    BLue Castle by L.M.Montgomery? A great comfort read. Also girl of the limberlost by gene Stratton porter.

    • I’ve read both. The Blue Castle really is a great comfort read, but I think I’ve already read it this year. I like A Girl of the Limberlost too, but I think I prefer Freckles.

  2. Hello Melody, I feel you may have read these but: Blue Castle, LM Montgomery Saint Martins Summer, Rafael Sabatini And, not written in the write time zone, but Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, Anne MacCaffery All of Georgette Heyer (always a safe and happy place)

    Thank you for your reviews and commentary, Take good care of yourself, Meg Evans

    Sent from a galaxy far, far away


    • The Blue Castle is kind of the ultimate comfort read, isn’t it? But Saint Martin’s Singer might be my last favorite Sabatini–I haven’t read it in a long time, but I think I found the villains too over the top.

      Heyer is a good suggestion. I vaguely recall borrowing a McCaffrey from someone at summer camp, but it didn’t make an impression.

      Thanks for the suggestions. I’m hoping to get back to reviewing soon, but. Well, it’s been a weird year.

  3. Would love to recommend but no idea what you’ve read. Talk a little privately? Kris tortoisecalicocats@hotmail.com.

  4. I think that this has been recommended before, but I loved quite a lot of stuff by BM Bower – The Ranch at the Wolverine particularly. I’m not sure if you ever had a chance or sufficient interest to read it?
    It’s the kind of book that you really think you could step into that life and be pretty happy – although the reality is no flushing toilets, of course :-)
    Another of her really good ones is Starr of the Desert, and then there’s Good Indian – it must have been pretty unusual for the time it was written, because (as the name suggests) the hero is either half or a quarter American Indian (sorry, I’m from South Africa so I’m not sure what the preferred term is). Although he faces prejudice from quite a few of the other characters, it’s clear that all the “good” characters totally like and respect him.
    I’ll try to think of more in the comfort reading line :-)

    • I’ve read a couple of her books, but not any of those. I’ll add them to my list. Thanks!

  5. I don’ t know if it qualifies as my *favorite*, but pleasant and entertaining reading can be found in “Busman’s Honeymoon” by Dorothy Sayers. In this mystery, Harriet Vane and Lord Peter Wimsey have finally married and they are off on their honeymoon in an old house when an unfortunate body is discovered in the basement. It’s witty, literate, urbane and a wonderful bedside companion.

    • Busman’s Honeymoon competes with Murder Must Advertise to be my favorite Sayers. I’m actually in the middle of Clouds of Witness at the moment.

      • Yes to both of those, and Gaudy Night is also a top choice!

  6. How about “Country of the Pointed Firs” by Sarah Orne Jewett—with a strong background of Nova Scotia and plenty of perfect touches of local color in the dialects and conversations of the residents. Strong women, great characterization qualities. In an introduction Willa Cather named it one of the three greatest American novels . . .

    • That sounds great. Thanks for the recommendation.

  7. Yes, I’ll second the choice of Girl of the Limberlost! How rare to find a man who *also* collects moths! unbelievable but comforting.

  8. I second the Bower recommendation—my favorites of her public-domain books are Chip of the Flying U, Her Prairie Knight and Skyrider.

    Booth Tarkington: The Magnificent Amberson and The Turmoil are excellent; or if you’re looking for light fluffy comedy, Gentle Julia or Seventeen. (Might want to go to Gutenberg for The Turmoil, since some Amazon reviews say there’s bits missing in the Kindle edition.)

    Also, Kathleen Norris—I think you’ve read some of hers before, but my personal favorites are Saturday’s Child and the short story collection Poor, Dear Margaret Kirby and Other Stories. Saturday’s Child is 99¢ on Kindle, but you can get it free at Gutenberg.

    • I have no idea why, but I’ve avoided Booth Tarkington. Probably I should stop. And I think I started Poor, Dear Margaret Kirby one. I’m not always good with short stories.

      • I listened to both “Penrod” and “Penrod & Sam” on Librivox and couldn’t stop laughing.

  9. Have you ever read anything by Mrs. Oliphant? I have just been through the first two books of her Chronicales of Carlingford (The Rector, The Doctor’s Family) and have found them very charming. A bit like Anthony Trollope, but easier—no politics, simpler stories, and gentler criticism of society. Tons of her books are avaiable in free Kindle versions, so they must be at Gutenberg too. Hope things start looking up for you.

    • I read one of her books a very long time ago–it was left in a bedroom where I was staying. Probably time to take another look. Thanks!

  10. Have you read anything by Ethel Turner? ‘Seven Little Australians’ and its sequels make an interesting read, if just for the picture of late Victorian Australia, and they can be found online for free. Also, the Pearl Watson trilogy – ‘Sowing Seeds in Danny’, ‘The Second Chance’, & Purple Springs’ – by the early Canadian feminist Nellie McClung. McClung tends to be a bit preachy about temperance, but there are interesting sections in her books, like the Women’s Parliament scene, a fictionalized account of Nellie McClung’s own performance in a mock parliament as part of women’s suffrage movement.

    • I’ve never read any of those and they sound really interesting. I’ll check them out. Thanks!

      • Oh, I just remembered another good one, ‘Leave It to Doris’ by Ethel Hueston. I originally read it years ago as a serial in a old magazine collection from the early 1920s called ‘The Girl’s Own Annual’ but some of the pages were missing from the story, so I was delighted to find it online and finally read the missing pages.

        • Ooh, that looks cool. I’ll take a look.

  11. Have you read any Margery Allingham? Same era as Dorothy Sayers, also a gentleman detective, quirky and fun and very well written. Ian Hay (not all his stuff – avoid the war stuff). Josephine Tey. PG Wodehouse (particularly if you’re down – every time I pick one up I’m astonished again at what an effortless comedian he is). Elizabeth Goudge (very religious, but strangely enough in a fashion that I don’t mind as someone who is largely indifferent to whether there is or isn’t a creator of any kind). Madeleine Brent (plucky heroines overcome impossible odds due to their unique skills and life circumstances – a pen name for Peter O’Donnell who wrote the Modesty Blaise series). Mary Stewart (love).
    Many of these are my chicken soup books when feeling down :-)

    • I’ve read a little of Margery Allingham–probably not enough. I was pretty into the amnesia one. P.G. Wodehouse is a little tricky for me because I’m not always up for the mess before everything gets sorted out. I’m unfamiliar with Elizabeth Goudge, and Mary Stewart has been fun for me, but I should definitely check out Madeleine Brent because I LOVE Modesty Blaise.

  12. Hmm, she’s not in the,public domain, but Mary Stewart might be good. My favorite is The Ivy Tree. Or Elizabeth Peters!

    • I’ve gotten into Mary Stewart a little over the past few years, and I should read more. Elizabeth Peters is the one with the heroine who’s an art historian, right?

      • Yes, but she also has a series where the heroine is a Edwardian lady who goes to Egypt. Crocodile on the Sandbank.

        If you want a free book, I think Elizabeth Peters based her character on Amelia Edwards travel journal, A Thousand Miles up the Nile.

        If you want a 1915-1920 girls series – I just finished Marjorie Dean and found her and her friends so much less annoying than Ruth Fielding.

        I just lost the Kindle (sob) so there’s a couple of others who I can’t look up.

        • Ooh, that sounds like fun.

          I’ve read most of the Marjorie Dean books over the years–for me it’s the most standard school series of that era. I like it more than Molly Brown but less than Grace Harlowe.

          Condolences on the loss of your kindle–I hope you’re able to replace it soon.

      • One of them is—Vicky Bliss. Another one is an Egyptologist (Amelia Peabody), and there’s also a librarian (Jacqueline… something).

  13. I don’t see First Violin by Jesse Fothergill in your archives… It’s marvelous, I do hope you’ll read it. Your blog has given me a lot of enjoyment over the years and introduced me to some of my all-time favorites: Patricia Brent, Spinster; books by the Williamsons, the Rose Garden Husband, etc. Based on that, I think you’d love First Violin!

    • Any book recommended on the basis of those is one I should definitely read. Thanks!

  14. Hi Melody,
    I like a lot of Josephine Tey, but “The Franchise Affair” is probably a good introduction, and “Brat Farrar” the absolute best…

    • I love Tey when she’s not being antisemitic or xenophobic. Those two and The Daughter of Time are my favorites, plus I have a special fondness for The Singing Sands.

  15. Yup, she’s one of those authors who seem too sensitive and intelligent to harbour stupid prejudices – but then they pop out. I quite like Dornford Yates, but you have to read them almost as caricatures, the racism and classism is often so bad…..

    • Agree about Dornford Yates – when he’s good he’s very, very good, but when he’s bad he’s really nasty and small minded :-)

  16. Have you read anything by Harold McGrath? He can get formulaic but not necessarily in a bad way. The Man on the Box is almost like a precursor to the Williamson’s; I think you’d enjoy it.

    Bobs: A Girl Detective is a light-hearted 1930s Little Women retelling (at, least, the similarities are too much to be coincidental). It’s about four impoverished sisters who lose their estate and move to NYC.

    Also, I second the recommendation for Elizabeth Goudge. The Little White Horse one of my all time favorite books. I think it was also made into a movie as Mysteries of Moonacre.

    Sorry things are tough right now!

    • Also, I can’t remember if you’ve read Eva Ibbotson or not. She has some kids books and some featuring young women; the latter were rereleased as YA books not too long ago. A Song for Summer and The Countess Below Stairs are particularly good.

      • I read one of her kids books, and I’ve heard really good things about the YA stuff–I think that’s the kind of thing that I won’t seek out, but will happily end up reading if I’m near a copy at the right moment.

    • I’ve read one McGrath–something about a mask? I wasn’t crazy about it, but I could definitely give him another try.

      I think I downloaded Bobs: A Girl Detective once, and I’m pretty sure the reason I never read it is that I came to associate it with Bab: A Sub-deb.

  17. I see you read The 39 steps but I don’t see any mention of the other Buchan books. Some of those are on Gutenberg.

    And Neville Shute’s Ruined City in on Gutenberg Canada which I think you gave us the link to.

    • I can never remember whether I actually finished the 39 Steps, which means that I can’t read any other Buchan until I reread it. It’s very inconvenient.

      And yes, Nevil Shute, PG Canada: perpetually near the top of my reading list but never quite there.

  18. From the Bestsellers List (1912) : Fran, by John Breckenridge Ellis

    • Thanks–why do you recommend it?

      • I find it hard to categorize the book. It has a sympathetic heroine and hero, and a happy ending, but it is written for adults. Fran is a strong character but not one of those impossibly wonderful types. I found the book to be surprisingly modern for its period. Why recommend it? Because I enjoyed reading, and re-reading.

  19. Everything IS terrible.

    Not in your genre here, but my favorite book of the year is A Gentleman of Moscow, by Amor Towles. Super beautiful read!

    • I am both glad and sorry you agree.

      I just looked that up and it sounds super fun. I’ve reserved the ebook from the library, but a lot of people are ahead of me.

      • The only consolation I have is that there are so many like-minded people in my internet echo chamber. We all have each other when things are terrible. And books!

  20. Any of Ethel Lina White’s mysteries except perhaps Put Out The Light. Most of them are free at Gutenberg Australia.

    • I loved The Wheel Spins, so I should really check those out.

  21. I just re-read “Understood Betsy” for the thousandth time and it really cheered me up. It’s such an uplifting “things get better because of rational people” book.

    • It’s a great comfort read, and that’s a great description of it.

  22. And another recommendation: Maurice Walsh.
    He writes stories set in Ireland – they’re delightful adventure / romances and all round perfect escapism.
    The link above is to a book of short stories – not too short, as there are only five or six in total. I’m not a huge short story fan – if they’re good I find it frustrating that they end so soon. But these – while not leading into each other – are definitely connected, and some of the characters appear in other books as well, so there’s definitely a feeling of a bigger picture. They’re fantastic.
    I hope you’re starting to get your reading mojo back again and that things are looking up!

    • That sounds like fun. I’m not really a short story person either, but having them be loosely connected does always help.

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