karenmarie ROOTs around her shelves - I

Discussão2021 ROOT CHALLENGE

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karenmarie ROOTs around her shelves - I

Editado: Nov 9, 2021, 7:50 pm

Welcome to my first ROOTs thread of Twenty Twenty-one.

It is a new year, and I’m so glad to see the back of 2020. Biden/Harris will be President/Vice President, thank God, but it’s still heads down, still in lockdown, and still trying to stay safe until the vaccines have been widely distributed enough for me to feel comfortable being out and about more. Frankly, I think that won’t be before late spring or early summer. However, I hope I’m wrong.

I still love being retired, and am beyond grateful that I don’t have to venture out to work to earn a living ever again. It is scary about how easily I’ve adapted to staying home and not seeing people face-to-face.

I read and am a charter member of the Redbud and Beyond Book Club, started in 1997. We haven’t met since March of last year, and I’m not at all certain when we’ll be able to meet again. I am President for our local Friends of the Library (henceforth abbreviated FoL), and am sad that our Tuesday morning FoL book sale donations sorting meetings are still on hold, the Library is still closed, and we’ve now had to cancel three book sales because of Covid-19. Depending on how things go, we might have a The Library’s Open! The Vaccines Are Effective! Post-Pandemic Book Sale sometime in the summer.

I have been married to Bill for 29 years and am mother to Jenna, 27. Bill and I live in our own little corner of paradise on 8 acres in central North Carolina USA. Jenna is currently working as a tutor for her community college and as she settles into that will try to find other work to cover her expenses. We have three kitties. L-R: Inara Starbuck – 13 1/2, Zoe Rose - 2, Washburne Ryder – 1 year.

This is one of my favorite pictures of Jenna even though you can’t really see her face. This is with her horse Dolly in 2011 in our pasture.

Last year’s goal worked well for me – 30 non-re-read ROOTs – and I will have the same goal this year even though I exceeded last year’s goal by 8 books.

New this year: With Julia’s blessing, I’ve taken over the Dick Francis Shared Read, now in its 3rd year. Here’s the link: Third Race at the LT Racetrack: A Dick Francis SHARED Read Come join us! One book every 2 months reading mysteries by a master.

Every year I buy a new Lett’s Week to View Desk Diary. I always include the two following quotes. The first I think I found in an old Ann Landers column and I don’t remember where I found the second one. But I’ve had both for decades and read them often.
On This Day

Mend a quarrel.
Search out a forgotten friend.
Dismiss a suspicion and replace it with trust.
Write a letter to someone who misses you.
Encourage a youth who has lost faith.
Keep a promise.
Forget an old grudge.
Examine your demands on others and vow to reduce them.
Fight for a principle.
Express your gratitude.
Overcome an old fear.
Take two minutes to appreciate the beauty of nature.
Tell someone you love them.
Tell them again,
And again,
And again.


Whatever you do, death occurs. But if you have lived with a sense of reality and gratitude towards life, then you can leave the dignity of your life behind you, so that your relatives, your friends, and your children can appreciate who you were.


2021 – a new normal with lots of books.

edited to add on January 3rd:

I count a book as a ROOT if it was on my shelves or on my Kindle before 1/1/2021.

I was not thinking on the 1st and didn't leave a message for books read/current books reading. So they'll be appended to this message.

Books Read:
1. Washington's Farewell Address and Webster's Bunker Hill Orations, Introduction and Notes by William T. Peck 1/8/21 1/9/21 172 pages hardcover added to catalog 7/20/2016.
2. Christmas Beau by Mary Balogh 1/16/21 1/18/21 224 pages mass market paperback
3. The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths 1/28/21 2/2/21 352 pages hardcover, Kindle
4. The Distant Echo by Val McDermid 2/5/21 2/10/21 450 pages mass market paperback
5. Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn 1/15/21 2/15/21 373 pages hardcover
6. And Four to Go by Rex Stout 2/13/21 2/16/21 150 pages mass market paperback
7. A Promised Land by Barack Obama 11/20/20 2/17/21 701 pages hardcover
8. A Wealth of Pigeons by Harry Bliss and Steve Martin 11/25/20 2/28/21 272 pages hardcover
9. Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman 3/9/21 3/9/21 59 pages hardcover
10. Little Black Sambo and the Baby Elephant by Frank Ver Beck 3/9/21 3/9/21 57 pages hardcover
11. Fup by Jim Dodge 4/5/21 4/6/21 51 pages trade paperback 1983
12. Life of Pi by Yann Martel 4/12/21 4/15/21 325 pages trade paperback
13. An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine 4/29/21 5/2/21 291 pages trade paperback
14. The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks 5/8/21 5/13/21 418 pages hardcover
15. The Mother Hunt by Rex Stout 6/2/21 6/4/21 213 pages mass market paperback
16. Case Pending by Dell Shannon 6/9/21 6/12/21 215 pages trade paperback
17. Trio for Blunt Instruments by Rex Stout 6/12/21 6/13/21 200 pages mass market paperback
18. Death of a Doxy by Rex Stout 6/18/21 6/19/21 155 pages mass market paperback
19. The Father Hunt by Rex Stout 6/19/21 6/20/21 182 pages hardcover 1968
20. Bonecrack by Dick Francis 6/14/21 6/20/21 240 pages mass market paperback
21. Death of a Dude by Rex Stout 6/20/21 6/26/21 200 pages mass market paperback
22. The Murderer's Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers 7/2/21 7/7/21 307 pages hardcover
23. A Promise of Spring by Mary Balogh 7/13/21 7/15/21 183 pages mass market paperback
24. Night Film by Marisha Pessl 7/17/21 7/24/21 599 pages hardcover
25. Three Doors to Death by Rex Stout 8/16/21 8/17/21 136 pages hardcover
26. The Cabinet of Curiosities by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child 9/17/21 9/22/21
27. The Book of the Dead by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child 10/6/21 10/10/21 597 pages mass market paperback
28. Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart 11/4/21 11/9/21 408 pages hardcover

Currently Reading:

Jan 1, 2021, 12:00 pm

Welcome back, Karen! I hope things will improve so that you can get out and about, and see Jenna too.

Love the kitty photos! :D

Jan 1, 2021, 12:04 pm

Thank you, RP!

Jan 1, 2021, 12:15 pm

Looking forward to seeing what 2021 holds for all of us, Karen. Happy ROOTing!

Jan 1, 2021, 12:29 pm

Hi Karen, good to see you back for another year. Love the names of the kitties. And such a lovely photo of Jenna.

Love the quotes too. Happy New Year and Happy ROOTing

Jan 1, 2021, 1:01 pm

Hooray, Karen's here! I don't think I realised you had two new kitties, I only remembered Inara Starbuck. They're all fine cats, with excellent names!

I wish you an infinitely better 2021 than 2020. Happy reading!

Editado: Jan 1, 2021, 1:09 pm

>4 rosalita: I hope it holds lots of good things for all of us, Julia. Thanks.

>5 connie53: Hi Connie, and thank you. Picking kitty names is always a total family effort - we had several stressful days trying to be tactful with each other about Awful Kitty Name Choices, and the three of us were very happy with Zoe Rose and Washburne Ryder last year. We all chose Inara Starbuck in the summer of 2008, too.

>6 Jackie_K: Hi Jackie, and thank you for your enthusiasm! Yes, we got Zoe and her son Wash on December 19, 2019.

We all need 2021 to be better than 2020.

I haven't cracked a book yet today - setting up threads here and there, starting to catch up on everybody's threads, and spending a teensy bit of time with my husband!

Jan 1, 2021, 2:02 pm

Happy 2021 Karen! Your kitties are beautiful and I can't wait to see what you're reading this year!

Jan 1, 2021, 7:20 pm

Happy New Year, Karen. Great photos. Glad to see you here and I look forward to following along the threads more this year. Between the pandemic and moving house my ability to focus went MIA!

I've been catching up on 2020 threads and gather you've been super-sensible, stayed safe and managed to reach your goal! Loved the pic of your daughter in her cool sweatshirt ;)

Jan 1, 2021, 10:18 pm

Hi Donna!

I'm so glad to see you back, I can understand the pandemic and moving putting a damper on your focus.

Super sensible yes - fear of making my daughter an orphan and fear of doing some criminally stupid that I could have avoided. The last carefree errand/visit was early March 2020 and everything since then has been calculated and careful.

You might not believe it from my participation on LT, but I'm quite an introvert and have done quite well without actually having to interact in person with people.

Jan 2, 2021, 3:59 pm

I love quotes like those!

One of my favorites that I got from a book many years ago is....
"Lord, you know there are many things you have given me for which I am grateful. Today is not one of them."

I have tried not to use it too much, but last year it really got a workout!

Good luck in 2021!

Jan 3, 2021, 10:34 am

Hi Chèli!

I don't 'collect' quotes as much as I used to, but still do so occasionally.

I like the quote you shared, and of course last year it really did get a workout.


Jan 3, 2021, 3:09 pm

Welcome back, Karen! >1 karenmarie: I can practically hear purring, and this is how I pictured your pasture based I think on some tasks you posted about last year. Beautiful pics!

Jan 3, 2021, 3:47 pm

Thanks, MJ! I really enjoy this group and although my ROOTing is a small percentage of my total reading, I like to have a reminder to Read My Own Tomes.

Lots of pasture work last year for sure, and the kitties are a purring joy.

Jan 4, 2021, 11:03 am

Wishing you a great year of reading with the kitties and just a better year in general. I see you are off the starting line, juggling multiple books. I own the audio version of Hamnet so I'll be interested in your thoughts. Well, I hope it is good. :-)

Jan 5, 2021, 9:13 am

Hi Karen! Wishing you all the best for 2021. Love the kitty pictures! Washburne Ryder is such a bright-eyed charmer...

Jan 5, 2021, 9:27 am

Thank you, Birgit! Wash is absolutely a bright-eyed charmer. He's bigger than that pic makes him look, with huge paws.

Jan 5, 2021, 9:32 am

I love the way he looks like he's smiling all over his face.

Jan 5, 2021, 10:59 am

I couldn't resist - I took this photo yesterday. You just can't make these things up and he was just sitting there purring like a mad thing.

Jan 5, 2021, 12:37 pm

Love that picture! Was the printer on and warm? That explains the ecstatic expression on his face.

Jan 5, 2021, 2:48 pm

Thanks, Connie! I'd been using the printer for scanning book covers into LT. It may have been warm. I usually have the red towel he was on over the printer when not using it. He's just our sweet boy.

Jan 5, 2021, 4:49 pm

Such a contrast between his ecstasy and the Grumpy Cat picture on the wall! He is a handsome boy, and obviously knows it!

Jan 5, 2021, 6:28 pm

>19 karenmarie: Awwwwwwwwww! He looks so content! Give him a snuggle for me :)

Jan 5, 2021, 8:09 pm

>22 Jackie_K: Ah yes, Grumpy Cat. Jenna got that for me years and years ago.

>23 rabbitprincess: I will definitely give him a snuggle from you, RP! I snuggle him as much as he'll let me, which isn't as often as I'd like.

Jan 6, 2021, 8:54 am

>19 karenmarie: What a blissful face!

Jan 9, 2021, 1:12 pm

Thank you, Birgit.

Jan 9, 2021, 1:13 pm

1. Washington’s Farewell Address and Webster’s Bunker Hill Orations, Introduction and Notes by William T. Peck

1/8/21 to 1/9/21


Introduction and Notes by William T. Peck. Includes biographical sketches of both men, a discussion of both of them, historical sketches of The Battle of Bunker Hill and the Bunker Hill Monument, the Farewell Address, both Bunker Hill Monument orations, lesson preparation, bibliography, chronological tables, and Index.

Washington's Farewell Address is "a letter written by American President George Washington as a valedictory to "friends and the fellow-citizens" after 20 years of public service to the United States. He wrote it near the end of his second term of presidency before retiring to his home at Mount Vernon in Virginia. The letter was first published as The Address of Gen. Washington to the People of America on His Declining the Presidency of the United States in the American Daily Advertiser on September 19, 1796, about ten weeks before the presidential electors cast their votes in the 1796 election. It is a classic statement of republicanism, warning Americans of the political dangers which they must avoid if they are to remain true to their values. It was almost immediately reprinted in newspapers around the country, and later in pamphlet form." Wikipedia

Webster’s The Bunker Hill Monument Oration and The Completion of the Bunker Hill Monument Oration were speeches given by Webster. The first in 1825 at the laying of the cornerstone, the second at the dedication of the Bunker Hill Monument.

Why I wanted to read it: Washington’s Farewell Address was mentioned by Mamie the other day, and I thought, “I should read that!” My copy, published in 1916, has the Farewell Address and two Orations by Daniel Webster so I thought I might as well read the whole thing. My copy belonged to my husband’s paternal grandmother before she married, as it’s got her maiden name written in pencil along with the date – Feb. 9, 1917 – in the front cover. She also clearly used it in school, as there are penciled notations throughout. I love reading something a family member, even if by marriage, held in her hands and studied.

The Farewell Address is beautifully written. The first draft was written by James Madison in 1792 as Washington contemplated not running for a second term. Near the end of his second term he started from the first draft, and re-wrote it with the help of Alexander Hamilton, publishing it in 1796. It is self-serving in that Washington says he’s done his duty for 45 years to America and now deserves retirement. But it also lays out his philosophy of how the United States should interact with other nations, abjuring foreign entanglements among other thoughts.

The Orations started irritating me right away. They are flowery and convoluted and much too long for their purpose to these modern eyes. The second one particularly, reviewing English conquest of North America, paints a picture of lofty commercial and religious goals implemented by good, sober, Englishmen. Spanish conquest of South America, on the other hand, is described as the lust for gold and silver, ”…earth ravished from its rightful possessors by every possible degree of enormity, cruelty, and crime –“. The blindness and double standard evinced added to my dissatisfaction at the style of writing.

I have been known to forgive things that were written in previous decades and previous centuries because a person is always a product of her/his culture. Webster’s “savage tribes” and rightness of conquest are understandable to a point. However, there always people who rise above cultural influences and arrive at humanistic and noble truths regardless of the pressures to conform to current prejudices. Webster doesn’t qualify for this approbation. He is a product of his times, which is perfectly fine, but I can’t see how these Orations should be considered usable and ennobling today. Had they been short dedications to the Monument and people who fought at Bunker Hill I might have been more inclined to consider them as necessary usable documents; however, they grated on my sensibilities.

The 4 stars are mostly for the arrangement of the text and the Introduction and Notes.

And, new feature!

Six word review:

Farewell Address still meaningful to read.
Oration 1 probably boring to hear.
Oration 2 objectionable rewriting of history.

Jan 9, 2021, 1:16 pm

Very elaborate, Karin. I love the way you give structure to your reviews.

Jan 9, 2021, 1:21 pm

Thank you, Connie! It took me quite a while to settle on a structure I like, and even then I've added the new Six Word Review feature for this year's reviews because it sounds like fun.

When I don't want to review a book I add it to my Lightning Round file then post all Lightning Round books read the previous month. I've never thought to do that here. If I don't write a review here I'll Lightning Round it.

Jan 9, 2021, 1:27 pm

I noticed the Six Word Review. And it is fun.

I'm not sure what a Lightning Round is. Never heard of that expression or program.

Editado: Jan 9, 2021, 1:29 pm

It's what Mark calls brief mentions of books without an in-depth review. I stole his idea last year and love it. It frees me up from feeling obligated to review every book I read but lets me put my thoughts down.

Jan 9, 2021, 2:21 pm

I like the Lightning Round idea too. I won't use it myself, as I tend to just write a paragraph review which is never very onerous (unless it inspires a mini-essay, but that doesn't happen very often!), but I can see how useful it could be.

You've got off to a great start! Sorry the Orations haven't stood the test of time.

Jan 9, 2021, 7:52 pm

Off to a good start, Karen - excellent review - those double standards seem to jump out at us so starkly nowadays. I really like your structure too; feel inspired to revamp my approach. And love the Six Word Review idea!

Jan 10, 2021, 4:46 am

>27 karenmarie: Off to a great start. Nice!

I also enjoy reading books which have been in the family for a long time. I start thinking about what might grandmother might have thought when she read it, and I would love to read comments in the margins, but I haven’t found any yet. You should really hold on to that one.

Jan 10, 2021, 9:27 am

Thank you, Henrik!

I told my 27-year old daughter about this book the other day and said that when she saw it on my shelves to remember it was her great-grandmother's. I've put a little notecard in it that has her g-grandmother's name on it and the date, Feb. 9, 1917.

Jan 10, 2021, 9:28 am

Ohh, that's really a nice idea. You want to keep such a book in the family.

Jan 11, 2021, 6:31 pm

>31 karenmarie: I often find myself writing less-wordy reviews now. Maybe 6 words is a little too brief for me but I like your reviews.

Jan 11, 2021, 8:25 pm

>36 connie53: I wish that Bill's ancestors had done something like that with some of the books I have inherited from his mother and his father/stepmother. If the name's in it, all's well, but some of them don't have names but are from the 19th century and I'm curious. No chance of finding out now whose they were or how they came down to me, alas.

>37 This-n-That: My reviews always have the same structure - I have a template that I pull up, edit appropriately, and copy/paste into LT. The six word review will not replace my full review but will augment it.

Jan 19, 2021, 1:09 am

>1 karenmarie: Such handsome kittehs!19 And so happy!

>27 karenmarie: I don't think I'm capable of a six-word review. Sometimes I manage to restrain myself to 6 paragraphs.

Washington getting Hamilton's assistance with the second draft just makes me automatically leap into the Hamilton soundtrack.

And the Bunker Hill speeches sound pretty horrible to modern sensibilities. I'm reading The History of White People right now (currently on chapter 12), and Dr Painter has spent several chapters illustrating American intellectuals' lovefest with English/Anglo-Saxon identity and presumed superiority and empire-building because of innate "energy and enterprise," while critics point to the success of English/Anglo-Saxon political ambitions to violence and plunder (exactly what Webster derides about Spanish colonizers). I guess that just shows that Webster is a product of his times in terms of the chauvism/white identity formation (white supremacy, really, and framing being American as being WASP and only WASP).

Jan 19, 2021, 1:57 pm

>39 justchris: Thanks, Chris. We love our furballs. It's a fun challenge to try to come up with just 6 words.

Yes, I was not impressed with very much in them at all. I don't quite understand why they were paired with Washington's Farewell Address, frankly. Webster wasn't even born until 1782, clearly not of the Revolutionary generation. I agree with everything you say about Webster being a product of his times.

I try to cut a lot of slack to people for being a product of their times. Only a few people ever truly rise above their nature and upbringing, even when we revere them and admire their accomplishments. Both Washington and Jefferson had slaves, as did many others of their generation. Indentured servants were also a normal part of the time period. It's quite complicated and I could come down on one side or another on any given day as to their worth as human beings.

Editado: Fev 4, 2021, 5:29 pm

3. The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths
1/28/21 2/2/21

From Amazon:

International Bestseller

Winner of the Edgar Award for Best Novel

"This lively whodunit keeps you guessing until the end." —People

“Utterly bewitching…As unforgettable as it is original.” —A.J. Finn

“Goose-bump spooky, smart, and haunting…I loved this book!” —Louise Penny

Death lies between the lines when the events of a dark story start coming true in this haunting modern gothic mystery, perfect for fans of Magpie Murders and The Lake House.

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. A high school English teacher specializing in the Gothic writer R. M. Holland, she teaches a course on it every year. But when one of Clare’s colleagues and closest friends is found dead, with a line from R. M. Holland’s most famous story, “The Stranger,” left by her body, Clare is horrified to see her life collide with the storylines of her favorite literature.

To make matters worse, the police suspect the killer is someone Clare knows. Unsure whom to trust, she turns to her closest confidant, her diary, the only outlet she has for her darkest suspicions and fears about the case. Then one day she notices something odd. Writing that isn't hers, left on the page of an old diary:

Hallo Clare. You don’t know me.

Clare becomes more certain than ever: “The Stranger” has come to terrifying life. But can the ending be rewritten in time?

Why I wanted to read it: The first in a series I’ve read the second of. It turns out that I’ve had The Stranger Diaries on my Kindle since last October.

Whew. It also turns out that it didn’t matter much that I didn’t read this before The Postscript Murders. This is a solid, tight, scary, and atmospheric stalker/murder mystery.

I particularly liked that the short story that wove Clare, the murderer, and the school together was doled out in bits and pieces throughout the book, alternating with the story told from the perspective of Clare, her daughter Georgia, and DS Harbinder Kaur. Only at the very end is the entire short story revealed. It’s a very satisfactory layout and appeals to my sense of logic.

The mysterious additions to Clare’s diaries are spooky, as are the mysterious lights in the abandoned factory. Almost gothic.

DS Harbinder Kaur is as strong in this outing as in the second book, The Postscript Murders. She’s intelligent and dedicated and snarky.

Well paced, grabbed my interest immediately.

Six word review: Three narrators, atmospheric, an unexpected murderer.

Fev 4, 2021, 5:11 pm

>41 karenmarie: Nice review, Karen! I liked that one, too. I'm looking forward to picking up the next one when it's published.

Fev 4, 2021, 5:22 pm

>41 karenmarie: Ooh, you did your six word review in five! Awesome.

Sounds like you’ve found yourself an enjoyable series. I love when that happens.

Fev 4, 2021, 5:31 pm

>42 rosalita: Thank you, Julia. I didn't realize I got hold of the second one only because friend Rhoda got it sent to her from London and loaned it to me. You'll like the second one, too, I think.

>43 floremolla: Hi Donna! I fixed it... added an. Six is supposed to be six, right? I love finding good series, too, but am always unhappy when I finish the most recent in the series and have to wait upwards of a year or two for the next one. That's the case here.

Fev 4, 2021, 5:43 pm

>44 karenmarie: When I read The Stranger Diaries I thought it was a standalone. I'm surprised Griffiths is taking on a new series, since she already has two going — I hope this doesn't mean she's going to end the Ruth Galloway series!

Fev 8, 2021, 10:20 pm

Hi Julia! There's at least one more Ruth Galloway - a new one already published in the UK, called The Night Hawks, released on February 4th. It will be released in the US on June 29th. The same friend who loaned The Postscript Murders to me will probably be getting The Night Hawks from the bookshop in London she uses and will loan it to me as soon as she's finished it.

Fev 9, 2021, 8:31 am

>46 karenmarie: Thanks for the heads-up, Karen! I've gone ahead and placed a pre-order for The Night Hawks with Kobo. This series is one of the few I'm willing to buy at full price, now that I've lost access to the library I could count on getting new entries promptly. My local library is hit and-miss, often not buying new books in series until months after they are released. Most series I'm willing to wait for, but not this one.

Fev 9, 2021, 9:46 am

You're welcome, Julia!

Fev 10, 2021, 1:31 pm

4. The Distant Echo by Val McDermid
2/5/21 to 2/10/21

From Amazon:

Bestselling, award-winning author Val McDermid delivers her most stunning story yet in The Distant Echo---an intricate, thought-provoking tale of murder and revenge

It was a winter morning in 1978, that the body of a young barmaid was discovered in the snow banks of a Scottish cemetery. The only suspects in her brutal murder were the four young men who found her: Alex Gilbey and his three best friends. With no evidence but her blood on their hands, no one was ever charged.

Twenty-five years later, the Cold Case file on Rosie Duff has been reopened. For Alex and his friends, the investigation has also opened old wounds, haunting memories-and new fears. For a stranger has emerged from the shadows with his own ideas about justice. And revenge.

When two of Alex's friends die under suspicious circumstances, Alex knows that he and his innocent family are the next targets. And there's only way to save them: return to the cold-blooded past and uncover the startling truth about the murder. For there lies the identity of an avenging killer...

Why I wanted to read it: Beth, BLBera, mentioned one of the books in this series on her thread and I discovered I had this first in the series on my shelves. I was intrigued with the back cover description.

It's written in two parts. The first is in 1978, with a shocking end. The second is in 2003-2004. A thought-provoking, dense, detailed, and suspenseful read. I was left twisting in the wind until the denouement. This was a highly satisfactory thriller/mystery and I’ve just ordered the second in the series, A Darker Domain.

This is the first in the Karen Pirie series, but Karen Pirie is barely mentioned and doesn’t play much of a role, frankly. It’s told almost entirely from the point of view of the original 1978 players. I’ll be interested in seeing if she plays more of a role in the second book.

Fev 10, 2021, 1:34 pm

>49 karenmarie: As you know this isn't my kind of read at all, but that was a great review! Val McDermid is a national cultural treasure :)

I hope you're keeping well and safe, Karen.

Fev 10, 2021, 2:13 pm

Hi Jackie!

Thank you. I've only read one other by McDermind, The Grave Tattoo, a standalone, and am happy to change that this year.

I am doing pretty well, all things considered. Masking, social distancing, minimizing contact with people outside my bubble, and, joy of joys, I got my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine Thursday Feb. 4th. Second dose is scheduled for the 24th, one day short of the 3 weeks, but I can't see one day making much of a difference. The only side effect seems to be that I'm more tired than usual.

It's quite emotionally freeing in a way although I realize that it won't get rid of the need for masking, social distancing, and minimizing contact with people outside my bubble. I don't know when it will make sense to see Jenna. It's been 13 months and a day. We talk all the time, but it's not quite the same as knowing she'll be home for her birthday, or Thanksgiving, or Christmas.

Other than that I'm not reading as much as I find myself still somewhat hungover from the election, the insurrection, the inauguration, and now the impeachment trial. Only 8 books so far this year, 4 of them ROOTs.

I need to visit my ROOT-friend threads - will get started on that today. I'm way behind here and on the 75ers.

Fev 10, 2021, 5:37 pm

>49 karenmarie: Yay, glad you liked The Distant Echo! The Karen Pirie series is my favourite of McDermid's. The cold cases are interesting and not terribly gory or creepy. The Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series requires sterner stuff than I possess.

Glad to hear you got your first Covid vaccine! I will probably not get mine before 2022 :-/

Fev 11, 2021, 3:20 am

I love her writing too!

Fev 11, 2021, 9:18 am

>52 rabbitprincess: Hi RP! I've ordered the second, A Darker Domain. And I have The Mermaid's Singing, the first in the Tony Hill/Carol Jordan series.

I'm sorry it's looking 2022 for you and the vaccine.

>53 connie53: Hi Connie. Yay.

I've gone and done it, though - started a new series by a different author, Linda Castillo. The series is the Kate Burkholder series. Long story short, I took in a donation of books for the Friends. We're not officially accepting donations but I was enticed by "300 hardcover mysteries in excellent condition". In and amongst those were a whole slew of Linda Castillo books. I gave Louise the mass market paperbacks since the Friends doesn't deal in MM paperbacks any more. She read 4 and 5 and still has 7 and 8. Turns out that I also have 2, 3, 6, 9, and 11.
I've offered to buy things on Amazon for Louise and she can reimburse me. She only does it rarely, but wanted me to get her book 1 and said I could read it first. Having just finished the first Karen Pirie and waiting on the second (and forgetting that I'm working on the Nero Wolfe series and have #30, And Four to Go, on my shelves.

Part of the December donation that was Friends approved and the complete January donation that I took it upon myself to give a home to. The books on the sofa are my personal donations, things I've culled.

Fev 12, 2021, 11:02 am

Karen, yay for being on your way to immunity. Also love the pic of all those bags of books, oh the possibilities!

Fev 12, 2021, 11:22 am

Hi MJ!

I'm happy to be less than two weeks away from my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

I have every book in every brown paper bag on one of two spreadsheets (December donation, January donation), with bag #, author, title, and additional info for the December donation.

There were quite a few in the December donation I wanted for my own self, but only took 11 books on the day we took the books and only after we were officially done with a section for Friends purposes.

Since I'm a member of the book sort team in addition to being the President of the Friends, I can borrow any book I want to from donated materials, which includes the bags here at the house. We have absolutely no clue as to when the Library will reopen and even then there won't be room in there for the 70 bags I have here at the house. Lots of time to read any of those if I want to.

Fev 12, 2021, 2:41 pm

>51 karenmarie: Wow Karen, only 8 books? That really demonstrates what a torrid time the last few years (and particularly the end of 2020) was. I'm really happy to hear you're close to being fully immunised. If only more people were as thoughtful and careful as you though, and put health before personal wants, maybe we'd get through this pandemic quicker.

Still another few weeks before I get my second dose. Having had my first dose at the end of December, I was due to have the second 4 weeks later, but then our medical powers-that-be decided that the gap between the two doses should be extended, so that more people could at least get the first dose. So my second dose will be in mid-March, 11 weeks after the first.

Fev 13, 2021, 3:01 am

>57 Jackie_K: That's a long time between doses, Jackie. Here the max is 6 weeks I think. I suppose every country has it's own rules according to the medical powers-that-be (love that expression).

I don't know when I get my first dose. Every time new groups are mentioned I'm not categorized for them. I just have to wait and see.

Fev 13, 2021, 10:10 am

>57 Jackie_K: Hi Jackie. Now I'm up to 9, having just finished the first in the Kate Burkholder series, Sworn to Secrecy last last night. Still only 4 ROOTs though; it's my friend Louise's book. I bought it for her on Amazon and she said I could read it first, so I have done so. The January books included most of the series, so I can happily continue now for a while. I've read that some places have been delaying second doses. 11 weeks must still be within the effectivity range, but I'll bet you'll be glad when you actually get it.

I'll be happily surprised if I get my second dose on the 24th. The hospital system I'm part of has been communicating via my on-line-chart messages feature. I get an email if I get any new messages, so won't accidentally miss out hearing anything about my second dose.

>58 connie53: Hi Connie. I hope you can get vaccinated soon.

I'm not changing anything I'm doing, and if anything I've upped my game by wearing 2 masks if I go grocery shopping, the eye doctor, or, as I will do on the 18th, my dentist. And, I'll be double-masked when I go into the pharmacy sometime soon to take advantage of a $25 gift card from my Medicare supplemental insurance provider. It has to be used by March 31. And, I get one for each quarter of 2021 and can use it for over-the-counter medications and other health aids.

Fev 15, 2021, 2:38 pm

5. Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn
1/15/21 to 2/15/21

From Amazon:

In 1995 Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, on a rare family vacation, seven-year-old Nainoa Flores falls overboard a cruise ship into the Pacific Ocean. When a shiver of sharks appears in the water, everyone fears for the worst. But instead, Noa is gingerly delivered to his mother in the jaws of a shark, marking his story as the stuff of legends.

Nainoa’s family, struggling amidst the collapse of the sugarcane industry, hails his rescue as a sign of favor from ancient Hawaiian gods―a belief that appears validated after he exhibits puzzling new abilities. But as time passes, this supposed divine favor begins to drive the family apart: Nainoa, working now as a paramedic on the streets of Portland, struggles to fathom the full measure of his expanding abilities; further north in Washington, his older brother Dean hurtles into the world of elite college athletics, obsessed with wealth and fame; while in California, risk-obsessed younger sister Kaui navigates an unforgiving academic workload in an attempt to forge her independence from the family’s legacy.

When supernatural events revisit the Flores family in Hawai’i―with tragic consequences―they are all forced to reckon with the bonds of family, the meaning of heritage, and the cost of survival.

Why I wanted to read it: The title intrigued me and the Amazon blurb pushed me over the edge. Someone on LT must have mentioned it, but I forget who. Whoever you are, thank you!

The story of the Flores family is told by mother Malia and children Dean, Kaui, and Nainoa. Each voice is distinct, yet each voice is clearly of this family. There are sad times and desperate times. Mother Malia and father Augie work feverishly to pay for their children to get to the mainland so that they can ‘better’ themselves, yet this outside influence breaks apart the bonds of the family and each of the children are broken by it.

Hawaiian gods, plants, culture, land, and mysticism flow freely. The lyricism of the writing comes from the non-haole outlook on life that this poor haole loved getting a glimpse of.
”I never thought I’d be the type of person who would do that to someone,” I say. “Now it’s exactly what I am. Forever.”
Mom nods. “It’s always like that.”
“What do you mean?” I ask.
“Whenever I’ve made a choice in my life, a real choice…” She leans back from my head. Touches my shoulder just for a second. “I can always feel the change, after I choose. The better version of myself, moving just out of reach.”
The broader truths of humanity, family, love, and introspection underlie the admittedly deep veneer of being Hawaiian.

I was moved by this book, liking some parts more than others, and seeing how my upbringing and life goals are not the end all and be all in this world. It is eye-opening and a strong reminder that there are many ways to look at the world and be raised in this world, all equally valid.

Six word review: Family whole, family broken, family whole.

Fev 16, 2021, 4:45 am

>60 karenmarie:
This sounds so good - when I was a kid, my parents used to try to find a book of local fairy tales whenever we would travel, and as an adult, I love books that include mythology / folklore and a different perspective.

Fev 16, 2021, 8:38 am

It should be right up your alley - mythology/folklore and a different perspective.

Off to visit your thread, which I will star!

Fev 17, 2021, 11:59 am

12. A Promised Land by Barack H. Obama
1/15/21 to 2/15/21

From Amazon:

In the stirring, highly anticipated first volume of his presidential memoirs, Barack Obama tells the story of his improbable odyssey from young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency—a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil.

Obama takes readers on a compelling journey from his earliest political aspirations to the pivotal Iowa caucus victory that demonstrated the power of grassroots activism to the watershed night of November 4, 2008, when he was elected 44th president of the United States, becoming the first African American to hold the nation’s highest office.

Reflecting on the presidency, he offers a unique and thoughtful exploration of both the awesome reach and the limits of presidential power, as well as singular insights into the dynamics of U.S. partisan politics and international diplomacy. Obama brings readers inside the Oval Office and the White House Situation Room, and to Moscow, Cairo, Beijing, and points beyond. We are privy to his thoughts as he assembles his cabinet, wrestles with a global financial crisis, takes the measure of Vladimir Putin, overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to secure passage of the Affordable Care Act, clashes with generals about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, tackles Wall Street reform, responds to the devastating Deepwater Horizon blowout, and authorizes Operation Neptune’s Spear, which leads to the death of Osama bin Laden.

A Promised Land is extraordinarily intimate and introspective—the story of one man’s bet with history, the faith of a community organizer tested on the world stage. Obama is candid about the balancing act of running for office as a Black American, bearing the expectations of a generation buoyed by messages of “hope and change,” and meeting the moral challenges of high-stakes decision-making. He is frank about the forces that opposed him at home and abroad, open about how living in the White House affected his wife and daughters, and unafraid to reveal self-doubt and disappointment. Yet he never wavers from his belief that inside the great, ongoing American experiment, progress is always possible.

This beautifully written and powerful book captures Barack Obama’s conviction that democracy is not a gift from on high but something founded on empathy and common understanding and built together, day by day.

Why I wanted to read it: I was intrigued with the One LibraryThing, One Book group/shared read started by our beloved founder, Tim. The group/shared read petered out and I couldn’t keep up with the aggressive schedule, but I knew I’d finish it. It’s taken 3 months.

Here’s what I wrote after reading the Preface and Part 1.
First Impressions - I found Part 1 to be a very good summary of the first 46 years, mostly his philosophical growth and political aspirations. I was not surprised to read about Michelle’s unhappiness at his time spent in politics from the earliest days of their marriage and her initial No to his running for President; however, it is only because of what he’s said since he left office. He makes a compelling argument for the outside support/pressures to run and his internal drive and acknowledgement that he ran at the right time for himself and the country.

It’s always a pleasure to read a book that’s interesting from the start, holds my attention, and is intelligent and forward moving. He needed to put to rest his biracial, abandoned-as-a-child-by-his-father, and insecure emotional sense of self. Michelle and the girls were and are a huge and positive part of who/what he is, but all of her wanting him to not be in politics didn’t override his listening to the people who told him he should be in politics along with his personal desire to be in politics. I wonder how early he truly thought about running for President?

Favorite passages - way too many. However, I see the following passage as one which highlights the family dynamic, one of the first times he was recognized and mobbed, page 60.
”I think you need an alias,” Malia declared from the backseat.
“What’s an alias?” Sasha asked.
“It’s a fake name you use when you don’t want people to know who you are,” Malia explained. “Like “Johnny McJohn John.”
Sasha giggled. “Year, Daddy… you should be Johnny McJohn John.”
“And you need to disguise your voice,” Malia added. “People recognize it. You have to talk with a higher voice. And faster.”
“Daddy talks so slow,” Sasha said.
“Come on, Daddy,” Malia said. “Try it.” She shifted into the highest-pitched, fastest voice she could muster saying, “Hi, I’m Johnny McJohn John!”
Unable to contain himself, Mike burst out laughing. Later, when we got home, Malia proudly explained her scheme to Michelle, who patted her on the head.
“That’s a great idea, honey,” she said, “but the only way for Daddy to disguise himself is if he has an operation to pin back his ears.”
Events I remember - It’s a sad thing to have to admit, but I remember Obama in light of a happy background to my busy-ness working/wifing/mothering. I don’t watch the Conventions so didn’t see his 2004 speech and watched the inaugurations on YouTube after the fact. Things were going ‘my way’ politically, the world was safe for democracy, and I rarely followed politics in detail.

There are so many eloquent passages, interesting thoughts, and insights into how a real government works. To sum it up, here are the types of things I learned from this book.

1. A marvelous history lesson. Incidents/policies/actions of past administrations and pretty much all of Obama’s political career, up to and including Operation Neptune Spear, the operation to kill Osama Bin Laden.
2. Perspective on past and current political players.
3. Obama’s interpretation of political trends and how the government works.
4. The first mention of the disastrous 45th President of the United States on page 672 of 701, with mere hints at his toxicity and the personality traits that have landed us in so much hot water.
5. Insights into the sacrifices his family has made – time away from them, the relentless intrusion into their personal lives to protect them.
6. Insights into the wonderful experiences the family had by Obama being President.
7. Moments of patting himself on the back, moments of self criticism. I realize that he cannot be honest about everything done in and by his administration, but I truly got the sense that he told us as much as he could, positive and negative.

Obama is an introspective and intelligent man. This volume reflects the person I think I know from his time on the public stage.

Six word review: Eloquently written Apologia, warts and all.

Fev 17, 2021, 1:17 pm

>63 karenmarie: Excellent review Karen! I got this book for Christmas and look forward to reading it (although I want to read Becoming first - also on Mt TBR).

Fev 28, 2021, 10:49 am

Hi Jackie!

Sorry for the delay in replying, and I'm way behind on visiting ROOT friends threads. Sigh.

I have Becoming on my shelves but have no immediate interest in reading it. I do not know why I haven't read it yet, but I rarely force myself to read a book I "think" I should, so it's just biding its time.

Mar 31, 2021, 1:18 pm

>65 karenmarie: I'm sure its time will come :) Hope you're OK, and managed to get your 2nd vaccine dose. I got my 2nd one the other week, and Pete got his 1st, so I'm happy about that.

Mar 31, 2021, 1:56 pm

Hi Jackie!

I've been very remiss in visiting threads. I got my second dose of vaccine on February 24th. Bill got his first on the 25th and the second on March 18th, so tomorrow he'll be fully vaccinated + 2 weeks.

Jenna's scheduled for her first dose on April 6th - Hurray! - and although I've been doing a lot of reading very little of it has been off my shelves. Sigh.

Thanks for checking in with me. I'm very glad that you've gotten your second dose and that Pete's gotten his first. It's been a long time coming, but we'll all get there, sooner than later, I hope.

Mar 31, 2021, 9:57 pm

>67 karenmarie: Hurray! I am so glad to hear that you and Bill are vaccinated and that Jenna's getting hers soon!

Abr 1, 2021, 12:34 pm

Thanks, RP!

I haven't gone crazy wild since getting vaccinated, but I have gone, masked, into a total of 5 thrift stores/used book stores and one doughnut shop since being fully vaccinated + 2 weeks. Plus the normal stuff, of course, which is bare essentials. Thank goodness for Amazon. I know some folks won't use it, but it's been a godsend to me since 1999 and even more so in the last year.

Abr 3, 2021, 1:34 pm

So glad to hear you have had your second vaccination and your husband too, Karen! And you can see Jenna in a few weeks. That's really good news. You can visit stores again if you want too!! I feel a bit of envy.

Abr 8, 2021, 3:44 am

Hi Karen, it's great to hear that you can go out again if you wish to. Any nice acquisitions in the thrift store?

Abr 12, 2021, 10:54 am

>70 connie53: Hi Connie! Yes, I can expand my visits to stores and can see Jenna sooner than we expected. I'm still hardly going out at all beyond the essentials. I'm leery of the variants, frankly. I think being such an introvert has really helped me get through this. Of course I don't have 2 children/partners and 3 grandchildren that I can't hug and smooch on, and in the best of times we visited with Jenna, always here, only about 3-4 times a year.

>71 MissWatson: Hi Birgit. I've only acquired one book amongst all the thrift shop and second hand book store visits and find it quite disappointing, frankly. I'm acquiring books via Amazon and the occasional curbside pickup at the Library.

Our Libraries re-opened last week, with reduced hours and no Saturdays yet. Browsing is limited to 30 minutes and public computer use to one hour. I'm proud of them for working through the pandemic AND an October 2020 cyber attack.

Tomorrow will be my first day out and about since last Friday. I plan on going to the Library to get Never Caught by Erica Armstrong Dunbar and say hi to the Librarian, go to the pharmacy for Claratin-wannabe (allergy medicine), and then the every-week-or-so grocery shopping.

Abr 13, 2021, 2:34 am

>72 karenmarie: That's disappointing. Not enough people donating stuff they found while uncluttering?

Abr 13, 2021, 8:50 am

>72 karenmarie: I'm so happy to hear you can see Jenna sooner than expected! That will be a lovely reunion! We are still hopeful that we can go down to England in the summer and see both sets of families. It's been far too long. A will be beside herself if she can see her cousins again.

Abr 15, 2021, 7:09 am

>72 karenmarie: Good to hear you can see Jenna sooner! That must be a joyful event.

I need to get a new bin for dirty laundry but I keep postponing my visit to a store that sells them. I don't feel save enough to go there. But I did visit my local bookstore (near to the supermarket) and bought 3 new books.

Abr 15, 2021, 8:30 am

>73 MissWatson: I have no idea, Birgit. I had envisioned coming home with a bag or two of books.

>74 Jackie_K: Cautious optimism, Jackie, eh?

>75 connie53: I really want to see my daughter and each day brings me closer. Is the store that sells bins not practicing social distancing or are people not wearing masks or ? Yay for 3 books at the bookstore, though.

Abr 15, 2021, 8:41 am

>76 karenmarie: Yes, they do wear masks and there is a click & collect system or you can make a appointment for 10 or 20 minutes of shopping with only 1 person per 25 square meters. This is a rather big shop so I could visit. When I am doing my walk tomorrow I will go there and ask for an appointment on Monday. You showed me I'm just silly not to do that. I will even wear latex gloves!
Thank you for the encouragement, I needed that nudge.

Abr 16, 2021, 8:37 am

It's a fine balance between prudence and fear, isn't it, Connie? We've all had to do quite a bit of balancing in the last year and month or so. You're welcome for the encouragement.

Abr 16, 2021, 8:39 am

11. Fup by Jim Dodge
4/5/21 to 4/6/21

From Amazon:

Start with Granddaddy Jake Santee, a cantankerous, ninety-nine-year-old coot with a taste for gambling and whiskey; add in Tiny, his gentle giant of an adopted grandson, whose passion for building well-crafted fences on land with no livestock borders on obsessive; then add Fup, a twenty-pound mallard with an iron will and a fondness for hooch and romantic movies. What do you get? You get Fup—a wildly eccentric modern classic that invites you to sit a spell and wet your whistle while it regales you with tales of teaching Fup to fly, the Sunday morning pig hunt, and the Great Checker Showdown of '78. First published in 1983, this hilarious, heartwarming, magical tale has sold over 100,000 copies since its debut. Fup is a contemporary fable that inspires an evangelical fervor in all who read it. As Granddaddy Jake says: It just ain't possible to explain some things, maybe even most things. It's interesting to wonder on them and do some speculation, but the main thing is you have to accept it—take it for what it is, and get on with your getting.” So, get on with your getting and read Fup—it's all it's quacked up to be!

Why I wanted to read it: At loose ends, checking out one of my shelves in the Sunroom and saw Fup and knew this was the right time to read it.

Laugh out loud humor, vivid, endearing. If I tried to share quotes, I’d pretty much have to share the entire book, and it’s only 52 pages. It is a prime 52 pages, however, whimsical and magical.

Thank you to Jenn for sharing it with me. I’ll be happy to pay it forward to the first person who asks for it.

Six word review: Endearing tall tale, deep philosophical underpinnings.

Editado: Abr 16, 2021, 8:41 am

12. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
4/12/21 to 4/15/21

From Amazon:

The son of a zookeeper, Pi Patel has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior and a fervent love of stories. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes.

The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days while lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them "the truth." After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional--but is it more true?

Why I wanted to read it: I’ve had this book on my shelves for 14 years, meaning that I had it sometime before I joined LT. I have never felt the urge to read it until Paul Cranswick mentioned it on his thread. It seemed like the right time to either read it or abandon and deaccesion it.

This review is an indication that I’ve read it. I cannot believe that it took me this long to get to a 4.5 star book.

There are many excellent parts, starting with Pi’s introduction to and believing in 3 major religions – Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. He does not find any reason to disavow any of them, which perturbs his family and all religious authorities he comes in contact with. This thrilled me, since it smacks of liberal theism, which I embrace.

The second interesting part is Pi’s discussion of animals in zoos vs. animals in the wild. I found this fascinating.

And, of course, the story of the sinking of the Japanese-owned, Panamanian-registered freighter Tsimtsum and Pi’s being cast adrift in a lifeboat for 227 days are the heart of the book.

But there are two stories about Pi’s time on the lifeboat. Which one to believe? The one with Richard Parker or the much more brutal one? I know which one I believe.

Even with all the gruesome details of mayhem and death on the lifeboat and Pi’s ordeal, I found this book sweet, emotionally gritty, and honest. The style immediately drew me in with wry humor.

Definitely re-readable.

Six word review: Tigers and brave boys, phantasmagoric, epic.

Abr 16, 2021, 2:28 pm

>79 karenmarie: That sounds like fun!

>80 karenmarie: I have this one on my own shelves. Perhaps I'll move it up the TBR list.

Abr 16, 2021, 3:46 pm

>79 karenmarie: Yes, I think it sounds fun too! If you've not had any takers I'd be happy to take it next (and then send it on its way somewhere else!).

Editado: Abr 25, 2021, 5:10 am

Update on the shopping. I had to make an appointment online and I visited the shop last Friday. Loved it and that was really doable. Got all things on my list.

Abr 23, 2021, 7:13 am

>81 rosalita: Hi Julia. Fup was one of those sweet, acerbic little books that made me laugh out loud. And my long-time prejudice against Life of Pi is now banished and I heartily recommend it.

>82 Jackie_K: Hi Jackie. Fup is now on its way to Scotland, having previously been in New Zealand and the US. Well-traveled little book - seeing more of the world than I am these days.

>83 connie53: I'm so glad to hear that, Connie. I'm glad you were able to get what you needed safely.

Abr 23, 2021, 4:58 pm

>84 karenmarie: Oh I love that! I wonder where it will go next once I've read it? :)

Editado: Maio 5, 2021, 8:37 am

13. An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine
4/29/21 to 5/2/21

From Amazon:

Winner of the California Book Award

Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award

Finalist for the National Book Award

“Beautiful and absorbing.”—New York Times

An Unnecessary Woman is a breathtaking portrait of one reclusive woman’s late-life crisis, which garnered a wave of rave reviews and love letters to Alameddine’s cranky yet charming septuagenarian protagonist, Aaliya, a character you “can’t help but love” (NPR). Aaliya’s insightful musings on literature, philosophy, and art are invaded by memories of the Lebanese Civil War and her volatile past. As she tries to overcome her aging body and spontaneous emotional upwellings, Aaliya is faced with an unthinkable disaster that threatens to shatter the little life she has left. Here, the gifted Rabih Alameddine has given us a nuanced rendering of one woman's life in the Middle East and an enduring ode to literature and its power to define who we are.

“A paean to the transformative power of reading, to the intellectual asylum from one’s circumstances found in the life of the mind.”—LA Review of Books

“The novel throbs with energy…Aaliya’s inventive way with words gives unfailing pleasure, no matter how dark the events she describes, how painful the emotions she reveals.”—Washington Post

Why I wanted to read it: Restlessly scanning the shelves in the Sunroom, I wanted something different. I’d like to think it found me.

Oh my, oh my, oh my. I was hooked from the first two sentences.
You could say I was thinking of other things when I shampooed my hair blue, and two glasses of red wine didn’t help my concentration.
Let me explain.
And with those sentences, the author, 54 years old at the time the book was published, somehow absolutely captures the voice of the 72-year old female narrator.

If you’re looking for exciting action, this isn’t the book for you, although subtle life-altering dramas take place. The richness of the book is in its oblique look at Aaliya’s life, and through her memories and feelings, the people around her.

Here’s a wonderful bit of Aaliya’s internal dialog:
We all try to explain away the Holocaust, Abu Ghraib, or the Sabra Massacre by denying that we could ever do anything so horrible. The committers of those crimes are evil, other, bad apples; something in the German or American psyche makes their people susceptible to following orders, drinking the grape Kool-Aid, killing indiscriminately. You believe that you’re the one person who wouldn’t have delivered the electric shocks in the Milgram experiment because those who did must have been emotionally abused by their parents, or had domineering fathers, or were dumped by their spouses. Anything that makes them different from you.
When I read a book, I try my best, not always successfully, to let the wall crumble just a bit, the barricade that separates me from the book. I try to be involved.
I am Raskolnikov. I am K. I am Humbert and Lolita.
I am you.
If you read these pages and think I’m the way I am because I lived through a civil war, you can’t feel my pain. If you believe you’re not like me because one woman, and only one, Hannah, chose to be my friend, then you’re unable to empathize.
Like the bullet, I too stray.
Forgive me.
When I re-read this book, possibly next year, I will make sure to take notes from the first page. There are references to authors, books, quotes, artists, composers, performers, historical figures, philosophies, and so much more. Everything Aaliya is derives from her strong sense of self, her love of the written word and of beautiful music.

Six word review: A splendid life without external trappings.

Maio 5, 2021, 3:46 pm

>86 karenmarie: Wow, great review! That's going straight onto the wishlist.

Maio 6, 2021, 8:16 am

>86 karenmarie: I've got his on the TBR. Thanks for the review!

Maio 11, 2021, 2:17 pm

>87 Jackie_K: Hi Jackie! Thank you. I hope you love it when you get around to it.

>88 MissWatson: You're welcome, Birgit.

Maio 13, 2021, 8:37 am

14. The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks
5/8/21 to 5/13/21

From Wikipedia:

Hicks became fascinated by the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee, a major battle which occurred in the final months of the Civil War. During his many years working at Carnton, he began to develop a book idea, and during an accidental meeting with civil war historian and author Shelby Foote, he received further encouragement to complete a historic novel about the battle.

The result was Hicks' first novel, The Widow of the South. In writing the novel, he hoped to bring national attention back to this moment in American history, the impact those five bloody hours played in making us a nation, and in the preservation of the sites tied to the story. The Widow of the South was launched September 1, 2005 to overwhelming critical success, entering the New York Times Bestseller List after only one week out.

The novel is centered around the Carnton Plantation and mansion which was commandeered by officers of the Confederate States Army as a hospital during the Battle of Franklin II. Hicks creates a cast of characters including the Madame of the mansion and soldiers wounded during this monumental battle. The novel has been critically acclaimed as comparable to other literary works on the Civil War including Gone with the Wind, and The Killer Angels.

Why I wanted to read it: It caught my eye while looking over my shelves in the Sunroom when I wanted a change from mystery/thriller/suspense.

This is an amazingly powerful novel. Short chapters alternate among third person reporting, Carrie, Sergeant Zachariah Cashwell of the 24th Arkansas, Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest, Carrie’s slave Mariah, and a host of others.

The emotions are from the heart. We watch Carrie come out of the years-long, profound, and debilitating grief over the deaths of three of her five children to manage the horrors of a field hospital in her home after the Battle of Franklin.

The strongest relationship in the book is between Carrie and the Sergeant, as she overrides his express desire to die by ordering the field surgeon to amputate his leg. This relationship helps Carrie and Cashwell understand themselves and each other in the immediate aftermath of the battle and over the course of the following 30 years.

The combination of historical fact and novelization breathes life into an event whose power has faced over the decades. There are portraits and photos in the back of the book of Carrie, her husband John, her three dead children, and Mariah. There is a photo of the cemetery in 1866 and another more recently. 1481 markers, 1481 names, 1481 lives commemorated by the determination of one woman aided by her family and people in Franklin.

If I ever get a chance to go to central Tennessee, I want to visit Carnton and the cemetery.

Six word review: Out of the crucible of war…

Jul 2, 2021, 7:07 am

Hi Karen, sorry I've not been here sooner, but RL got in the way.

>90 karenmarie:. That sounds like a powerful read!

Jul 2, 2021, 7:59 am

Hi Connie!

I've been busy with RL, too, between Jenna visiting as she moves from one end of the state to the other, Bill's cataract surgery, and a new fiscal year for Friends of the Library.

It was a wonderful read. I devoured it.

Jul 7, 2021, 10:32 am

I'm not going to post a full review, but I want to say how much I loved this book:

The Murderer’s Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers 7/2/21 7/7/21
One of my rare forays into contemporary fiction, this is a beautiful novel about two sisters growing up after their father murders their mother and almost kills the younger sister. Emotions ring true, characters are beautifully developed. Chapters move forward in time from 1971 to 2003, alternating between the two sisters, sometimes from the same years, other times skipping ahead quite a bit. This did not make the novel disjointed, rather it focused on what was important for this story. A jewel.

Jul 17, 2021, 9:03 am

Hi Karen - I hope you're doing well! I'm back from a trip to England to see parents/in-laws (what a treat to hug them after 2 long years!), and slowly making my way round the threads again. Looks like you've read a couple of crackers since my last visit! :)

Jul 17, 2021, 9:21 am

Hi Jackie! I'm so glad you had a chance to visit and hug parents and in-laws after two years. I got to hug my daughter after 16 months in May.

I've read two more books that I reviewed, but alas! They're not ROOTs - Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller and Killing Lincoln by Martin Dugard and (gasp, blech) Bill O'Reilly. The book was great, I must say, even if I despise O'Reilly. Maybe I'll just pretend the series is by Martin Dugard - I have Killing Kennedy on my shelves.

Jul 24, 2021, 2:42 pm

Hi Karen, luckily I visit your 75 books group thread too. So I know, kind of, what you are up to.

Jul 24, 2021, 4:31 pm

>95 karenmarie: I've no idea who Bill O'Reilly is - sounds like that's possibly a good thing!

Jul 29, 2021, 5:23 pm

Hello, Karen! I’m pretty new to the group, and while I’m catching up on everyone’s threads I just wanted to say that I appreciate your reviews.

Jul 29, 2021, 10:13 pm

>96 connie53: Hi Connie. Yes, I do most of my posting over there and basically just chat with a few ROOTers over here.

>97 Jackie_K: Well, Jackie, Bill O'Reilly is a sexual predator who also happened to be a high profile conservative commentator. He is personally despicable, and I'm conflicted about reading any more of his books, although I did buy Killing Kennedy, also co-authored with Martin Dugard. It's not a ROOT, though, because I bought it at a thrift store this year.

>98 Charon07: Hi Charon07! Welcome to the group, and I'm glad you like my reviews. I see that you've already added quite a few books in the 2 weeks since you joined - what are your favorite genres?

Jul 30, 2021, 9:59 am

>99 karenmarie: I like “literary fiction” (though I really hate that description) when I’m reading tree books, but I listen to a lot of audio books in the car, and for those I prefer something easier to multitask to, so I listen to a lot of mysteries and horror. As a teenager I loved science fiction, and the burgeoning afro-futurism subgenre has rekindled my interest, so I have a bunch of SF in my TBR list. I don’t read a lot of nonfiction, but I’m a fan of Sy Montgomery and Mary Roach. I’m trying not to keep adding things to my TBR list and instead focus on my ROOTs, but you’ve reviewed several books that I’ve been on the fence about, so I’m afraid Mt. TBR will continue to grow.

Jul 31, 2021, 8:42 am

I firmly believe there should always be at least a few unread books on your shelves... you wouldn't want to run out completely!

Jul 31, 2021, 8:50 am

>99 karenmarie: OK, yeah that is off-putting at best. Ugh.

>100 Charon07: >101 rabbitprincess: agreeing with rabbitprincess - it's important to have books available for every mood!

Jul 31, 2021, 10:10 am

>100 Charon07: I like literary fiction, but if it has even a hint of self-importance or constant use of this to represent that, I bail. Mysteries are my favorite genre hands down. I have also been reading more fantasy recently.

It’s hard not to adding to Mt. TBR, isn’t it? I try and try to NOT buy new books, but Amazon is my friend and I have no discipline. So far this year I’ve acquired 179, although 43 were from a woman who donated books to the Friends of the Library (I’m President again this year) last January. We aren’t taking donations, but she was frantic to give the books to us so I said bring them to my house as along as I get first dibs. She said that was fine, so I was self-indulgent. But that still leaves another 136 that I’ve acquired from Ammie, thrift stores, and friends, more than all of last year. Plus, I’ve only culled 63 books. And regarding the Friends, between that donation and another donation last December where 43 bags of books came to the house, I’ve got 70 bags of books here for the Friends. We have no room in the book sort room at the Library and with 3 book sales cancelled and possibly this September’s sale (which we thought we’d be safe holding) cancelled, the situation is getting dire.

Here are this year’s reads by category:
Adventure 3%
Biography 0%
Chrestomathy 0%
Contemporary Fiction 7%
Fantasy 8%
Historical Fiction 6%
Humor 1%
Informational Nonfiction 10%
Memoir 1%
Mystery 42%
Poetry 0%
Science Fiction 0%
Suspense 0%
Thriller 22%

I post my YTD statistics on my 75ers thread, but here's the link to them to show how much info I keep about what I read:

YTD stats

>101 rabbitprincess: I have 2,225 books tagged ‘tbr’, RP. At ~100/year, what I have on my shelves now will get me to age 90.

>102 Jackie_K: Yes. Repugnant. However, Martin Dugard deserves his place in the sun and I’m fascinated by the Kennedy assassination, so I’ll probably read it sooner than later.

I do think that with 2,225 books to choose from, I pretty have every genre/mood covered. I even have a couple of Zane Grey westerns, a genre I don’t recall ever reading.

Ago 3, 2021, 3:47 am

>103 karenmarie: Hi Karen. I'm so happy to see you have 179 books added to your shelves. That makes me feel rather good about adding to mine. I'm expecting a delivery any minute now!

Ago 17, 2021, 11:10 am

Hi Connie!

Yay for book deliveries. It's so wonderful to be with like-minded people.

Ahem. I'm up to 195 now, and annoyed and vexed that because of the new Covid Delta variant wave have chosen to hunker back down, avoiding thrift shops and the used book store in town, again. We have also cancelled an August 7th Children's and Audiovisual Friends of the Library Book Sale and our huge September sale.

Basically I'm back down to Amazon and gifts, with no gifts anticipated before Christmas.

On the upside, however, I have 2,233 books tagged tbr.

Ago 17, 2021, 12:07 pm

>105 karenmarie: All that choice! How marvellous! :D

I'm sorry to hear about the cancellations of the book sales, but I think it's wise, especially as case numbers are rising again. We will get back to sort-of-normal, but I think we have a while to go before that happens. Stay safe!

Ago 17, 2021, 2:00 pm

>90 karenmarie: Nice review. I'll keep an eye out for that book. FYI, another very good novel about that battle is The Black Flower by Howard Bahr.

Ago 29, 2021, 7:38 am

>105 karenmarie: stealing the Snoopy picture! Love it.

2,233 TBR ??????

Ago 29, 2021, 9:11 am

>106 Jackie_K: Hi Jackie! Yes. You'd think with all the choice I'd have my ROOTs challenge done and dusted by now, but those pesky new books keep intruding. I hope you stay safe, too.

>107 rocketjk: Hi Jerry! Nice to see you here, and thank you. I've added The Black Flower to my wish list.

>108 connie53: Steal away. Yes, I'm afraid I've added 7 to the list, making 2,241. And that doesn't count cookbooks and other books that I've decided I don't want to read but want to keep on my shelves. There are 815 of those, although in looking at that tag just now - dnr - I really need to pull back books that are truly NOT reference.

Set 4, 2021, 3:52 pm

>109 karenmarie: I've been getting ebooks from the library throughout the various lockdowns, and now our local library has reopened I've got my first paper library book out since March 2020. This has been great for reading books that I otherwise might have bought, even though I'm really unlikely to ever reread them. Occasionally I've read a library book that I liked so much I bought my own copy, but mostly I'm trying to use it to limit - slightly - the number of books I'd otherwise be tempted to buy.

Set 7, 2021, 5:07 am

I fear I might go over my limit with the book buying thing. Another three will be arriving today (in fact, the postman came just when I was typing this). I fool myself thinking I 'need' them now to console myself.

Editado: Dez 23, 2021, 9:05 pm

I've been remiss in monitoring my own thread, and apologize, Jackie, and Connie, for not replying in September.

And then November rolled around and on the 10th I had a massive heart attack. It was a really dangerous STEMI heart attack and only because of Bill's quick action in calling the EMTs, the immediate diagnosis of heart attack, the brilliant ambulance ride in half the normal the time to the hospital, and the Cath Lab at the University of North Carolina Hospital in Chapel Hill am I here to tell the tale. I was in the hospital for 4 days after getting stabilized with a stent.

Since then I've been working hard at reducing my sodium intake and started cardio rehab 3x a week for a total of 12 weeks. I'm quite tired by the end of each day, and the statin I'm now taking is probably causing the leg cramps that have intensified during the nights. Sigh. Anyway, I'm actually in a pretty good frame of mind, considering. I did get Christmas cards out but Bill and I had gotten each other our Christmas presents in October and we sent money to Jenna. I did get 60 Christmas cards, 30 with letters, mailed out last week. No decorating, no tree, not much holiday spirit, really... but it's okay.

I'll visit ROOT threads one more time here, but only start up again next year with the same goal of 30 books. I've missed my goal this year by two - there's a chance I'll find a short one or two to get closer, but not necessarily. And that's okay, too.

Here's the picture I put in my Christmas Letter:

The pic of me is the day Bill took me to cardio rehab orientation.


Dez 21, 2021, 12:27 pm

Oh my goodness Karen - I was only thinking of you today and thinking I must bump your thread up in the hope you saw it! And here you are, what a terrifying thing to happen, but I'm so happy that you're doing so well. It sounds like you had excellent care, and thank goodness for Bill having the presence of mind to act so quickly in calling for help.

Take care, my friend. I wish you a happy and drama-free Christmas, and look forward to connecting with you over books well into the New Year!

Dez 22, 2021, 6:19 am

Oh dear, what a nightmarish thing to happen! I am glad to hear you're doing well again. Have yourself a nice, relaxing Christmas!

Dez 22, 2021, 8:57 am

>113 Jackie_K: Thank you, Jackie. Bill's been the best husband possible. He takes care of me when I need taking care of and let's me gain back more and more independence when I want it. BTW, some of our friends have envisioned me going through open-heart surgery, but they only made a small incision in my groin and went up through my femoral artery.

Yes, I hope next year will be as much fun here on LT, with NO MORE heart attacks for this LTer.

>114 MissWatson: Hi Birgit. Thank you - I hope your Christmas is relaxing and fun, too.

Dez 23, 2021, 2:40 am

>115 karenmarie: Thanks, Karen, I hope so! No internet and lots of cuddling the cat.

Dez 23, 2021, 8:30 pm

Yikes! That must have been so scary. I'm so relieved that you're still here with us. Internet hugs!

Hope you have a cozy, relaxing Christmas and that the cardio rehab gets you back up to 100% soon.

Editado: Dez 29, 2021, 7:00 am

Ohh Karen, You scared me with your post. But luckily Bill was there to do the quick and adequate things.

I hope you are still improving and getting better in shape with each day that passes.

I was just trying to catch up on threads (again) when I stumbled upon your news.

I want to wish you and all the people you love

Dez 25, 2021, 1:59 pm

>116 MissWatson: Well, here I am on the internet on Christmas – Jenna won’t be home ‘til Monday and I just finished getting the Library ready for her to set up shop there for the 3 ½ days of her visit. There’s a queen-sized sleeper sofa in there and she prefers to be downstairs. I dusted and am now officially done with anything NOT relaxing and/or kitty cuddling today.

>117 rabbitprincess: It was scary for sure, RP. Thank you.

>118 connie53: Hi Connie! Yes, Bill’s being here probably saved my life. Each day I feel a bit stronger. Of course, right now I’m tired from a bit of housework in the Library. I had 75 bags of books in there from various donations to the Friends since last December, and I’m grateful that a couple on the book sale team had the bright idea of storing the books for me in a trailer. They came out Monday, and took all 75 bags of books, so I have the Library back after a year of being a storage room.

Thank you! I love your Christmas wishes.

Dez 29, 2021, 7:02 am

>119 karenmarie: It must be nice to have your library back and all 75 bags are safely put elsewhere.

Dez 29, 2021, 10:02 am

Oh yes, Connie! We were moving them back and forth to the dining room every time Jenna's visited since May. We didn't have to do that this time.

Instead, I had Jenna look through some boxes in the attic for me, looking for something specific, but it wasn't there. It was in a downstairs dormer, though, so the mission was a success.

Dez 31, 2021, 4:10 am

>121 karenmarie: glad you and Jenna found the missing thing, a book I presume?

Dez 31, 2021, 10:17 am

Happy new year Karen - wishing you nothing but good things in 2022!

Dez 31, 2021, 10:44 am

>122 connie53: Hi Connie. I didn't mean to be mysterious - it's a reprint of an 1896 calendar that I got in 1980 when visiting a friend in Montana. She doesn't have hers any more, didn't remember that I had also bought one, and has been pestering me to find mine so I can get it copied and get one to her. It is one of those things that Stupid Men liked - the art on it was 5 young women lightly clothed, holding kittens in front of their privates - pussies in front of pussies, to be perfectly vulgar about it. We liked it then and like it now because ... men are so ridiculous sometimes.

>123 Jackie_K: Thank you, Jackie! the very same to you.

Dez 31, 2021, 10:46 am

>124 karenmarie:. Hihihi, that's really nice. Put a smile on my face. Reading the spoiler made me laugh!

Dez 31, 2021, 4:13 pm

Dez 31, 2021, 4:46 pm

>125 connie53: and >126 rabbitprincess: Happy to please you both.

Dez 31, 2021, 5:14 pm

Oh my goodness, Karen, what a scare you've had! But hopefully you'll go from strength to strength - especially if you keep up those rehab classes. And kitty cuddling for relaxation! Missed you this year so I (selfishly) hope you feel rested enough to join in the 2022 Rooting challenge and the fun that goes with it. Sending you good vibes in the meantime.

Dez 31, 2021, 5:21 pm

Hi Donna!

Yes, this year has ended strangely, but not tragically. I'm very stubborn, and have every intention of going to every rehab class and pushing myself just a little bit at each one. Oh yes, we love our kitties - here's the latest and greatest of the three of them. Girl kitties on top - Inara on the left and Zoe on the right, and our cuddly fluffy boy Wash in a picture taken by Jenna last monthunderneath.

I'll definitely be having a 2022 ROOTs thread, hope to see you there, and will post this photo of the kitties there, too.

Sending good vibes to you, too.

Dez 31, 2021, 5:23 pm

Thanks, Karen - the kitties are gorgeous!

Jan 9, 2022, 2:06 pm

Oh my gosh, Karen! I'm so glad you got quick, excellent care and now follow-up. Yay for family, and kitties, and lovely rooms to relax in. Take good care! I'll be watching for your 2022 thread.