Ron Reads in 2023

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Ron Reads in 2023

1RBeffa
Jan 2, 2023, 10:20 pm

As the subject title says, I'm Ron. I'm 69 years old and have loved books from the day I first learned to read (which I can actually remember). My wife and I had our first date in June 1978 so I think I made a good match. I have a few too many interests and hobbies which can get in the way of reading. One of those is jigsaw puzzles which really became a thing for us during the pandemic. I may post a few pix during the year of puzzles done which I have done in prior years, although I did not do it last year, mostly because I wasn't doing a whole lot of puzzles. A big chunk of time and love is spent herding cats. I also spend time volunteering with the friends of the library which I find very rewarding.

I read a variety of things.

My 2022 reading adventures can be found here: https://www.librarything.com/topic/338323# and at the end of that thread you can see my favorite books for 2022.

This year I plan to read some of what I liked in recent years - Japan and Australia as a focus. What my big plan to do is focus on series. I have said it before, but this year I will really focus on reading books in series I have been enjoying, one or two new series and possibly a few re-reads, but. I have so many incomplete series reads to get to I won't even name them. You will see them here as I work through the year.

I've been on LT since early 2009 and my activity here has varied ( I generally do a lot more lurking than posting), but I do keep this thread up to date as it serves as a great reading diary for me. I joined the 75 book challenge in 2013 which means 2023 is my eleventh year with the group. Prior to 2013 I was a member of the 50 book reading challenge. Links to all my prior threads can be found on my profile page. I welcome visitors and hope to see some old and new friends here this year. I welcome comments on books.

To start off the year I am going to dive head and hands and feet first into the January American Author challenge. Children's classics. The definition is what we the reader thinks is classic. I plan to visit books from my childhood as well as books from my children's childhood and ones from before my childhood. I have assembled a very large stack on the shelf to choose from. I have a very old copy ( just shy of 100 years) of A Girl of the Limberlost which I might get to this month. It has an inscription dated 1924 and the lovely book includes illustrations from a 1924 photoplay. I'm not sure that silent film still exists.

I have not started a book yet in 2023.

2PaulCranswick
Editado: Jan 4, 2023, 7:13 pm



Happy reading year, Ron.

I look forward to following along with you again in 2023.

3drneutron
Jan 3, 2023, 9:37 am

Welcome back, Ron!

4laytonwoman3rd
Jan 3, 2023, 11:56 am

I'm glad you're getting right into the January AAC, Ron. "The definition is what we the reader thinks is classic." I wish I'd just said that, instead of droning on!

5ronincats
Jan 4, 2023, 10:11 am

Happy New Year, Ron!

I love A Girl of the Limberlost, even better than Freckles, which was the better known book. And the author is so interesting too. Maybe I'll reread Girl for the challenge?

6RBeffa
Jan 4, 2023, 2:15 pm

>5 ronincats: I saw a documentary on the author many many years ago and it piqued my interest enough to pick up Limberlost when I ran across the book some years back. I have browsed the book but never read it.

7Whisper1
Jan 4, 2023, 2:17 pm

Ron, I also joined the American Authors thread. I look forward to seeing your posts there, as well as here. Happy New Year!!!

8RBeffa
Jan 4, 2023, 5:49 pm

>2 PaulCranswick: Thanks for the notes Paul, Jim, Linda, Roni and Linda.

I'm reading Big Red by Jim Kjelgaard. I think it the sort of story I loved watching on Walt Disney or reading when I was maybe 9-12. I have only the faintest memory of the film so don't know how true to each other the story and film are, but there are a few pieces of the book that feel familiar. I like the story so far but thought I would like it more. I have a lot more to read before it is done.

9RBeffa
Jan 9, 2023, 7:58 pm

This is the first of several planned reads for the Janaury American Author challenge.

1. Big Red by Jim Kjelgaard, finished January, 2023, 2 1/2 stars



I enjoyed two of Kjelgaard's novels when I was about 10-12 years old. Hadn't read one since and looked forward to this story.

I was disappointed for several reasons and I'll leave it at that. I will add that this isn't exactly the same story as the Disney film of the early 60's and I don't recall the dog ever referred to as Big Red in the book. I'm sure it coulda been in there somewhere when I blinked.

10ronincats
Jan 9, 2023, 8:41 pm

Glad to know you have power and haven't washed away out there, Ron!

11RBeffa
Jan 9, 2023, 11:43 pm

>10 ronincats: doing ok but it is a bit scary at times. One night the roar above our roof was unreal. Lots and lots of rain but some of the worst has missed us. The coast has it pretty bad.

12Whisper1
Jan 11, 2023, 2:46 am

Ron, I also joined the American Author challenge. I own quite a lot of Children's and Young Adult books.

13FAMeulstee
Jan 12, 2023, 8:53 am

Happy reading in 2023, Ron!

14RBeffa
Jan 13, 2023, 2:42 pm

>12 Whisper1: You should be in your element this month Linda!
>13 FAMeulstee: Thank you Anita.

------------------------

Two more books for the American Author January challenge

2. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, finished January, 2023, 4 stars



I've been trying to think of something poignant to say about this book but have failed. I loved reading this fairy tale because it felt like the author was reading it to me. But like many Grimm fairy tales there is a real darkness in here. Betrayal writ large.

3. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, finished January, 2023, 3 stars



This children's book is really just sort of a poem by Silverstein with spare pen and ink illustrations. To me this was a very sad story about giving until you can't give any more, but still you love.

15RBeffa
Jan 21, 2023, 1:50 pm

4. The Woman in Blue by Elly Griffiths, finished January 21, 2023, 2 1/2 - 3 stars



I have really wanted to continue reading the Ruth Galloway series even though I found the prior entry, The Ghost Fields, a bit of a disappointment. This story however was a disappointment. For an Elly Griffiths book in particular.

I almost, but not quite, gave in to skimming the book. I did find myself repeatedly looking ahead then going back. I'm not going to overanalyze it.

16RBeffa
Jan 29, 2023, 4:10 pm

5. The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo, finished January 2023, 2 1/2 - 3 stars

Pulled this one out of our saved kids books and it was one from the scholastic book fair sales 20+ years ago. Read for the January AAC. Probably abut a 5th grade level book, and one I didn't care for. I don't think it would have appealed to me even if i was ten years old again. Sad story.

17PaulCranswick
Jan 30, 2023, 12:25 am

>15 RBeffa: A bit worrying that her standards are dropping - first few entries in the series were strong ones.

18Whisper1
Jan 30, 2023, 1:09 am

>14 RBeffa: Ron, Kate DiCamillo is one of my favorite authors of YA and children's books. In February, I hope to be more present in the American author challenge. How very kind of you to remember that I very much enjoy children's books. I agree with you about The Tiger Rising. It is a sad book, and usually I think the author is not as negative.

The Giving Tree has always nagged at me because I continue to have the same view as the day I first read it. The concept of giving until there is no more, seems so sad and self defeating.

19RBeffa
Jan 30, 2023, 11:56 am

>17 PaulCranswick: Paul, It is the very rare author who doesn't have a slump somewhere in a series. I'm not too worried and will have a go at the next book in the series very soon. I'd like to finish the whole series this year. When I thought more about The Woman in Blue vs the earlier books in the series I realized that numerous things that had appealed to me and were part of the fabric of the prior books just weren't present in "The Woman in Blue". At least we had some Cathbad who is by far my favorite and most interesting character in the books. I just won a review copy from Goodreads of the final Ruth Galloway series book 'The Last Remains' so I need to really get going on them!

>18 Whisper1: Thanks for your note Linda. All the bullying started The Tiger Rising poorly for me. I guess this is meant as some kind of message book, but like The Giving Tree I didn't see the positive in the book.

20laytonwoman3rd
Jan 30, 2023, 12:13 pm

I just looked at my "place" in the Ruth Galloway series, and was surprised to see that I didn't read any of them in 2022. I read the first 2 in 2019, none in 2020, and 8 of them in 2021. I think I'll get back to Ruth and the gang soonishly, especially since I know there is now a final installment.

21RBeffa
Jan 30, 2023, 1:00 pm

>20 laytonwoman3rd: Linda, I think it was your early enthusiasm for the series that got me to give it a try - and I was happily hooked. I think I'm being a little cranky because I enjoyed earlier books so much (and Stranger Diaries in another series). I've glanced at a handful of reviews here and elsewhere and can see that my bothers have been shared by some others. At least this book wasn't about murdered children which was my one bother of the earlier books, even though it was handled so well.

I only started this series in August 2021! No books in 2022 for you however. Hmmm

22laytonwoman3rd
Jan 30, 2023, 9:47 pm

>21 RBeffa: I was actively trying not to buy too many books in 2022, and my library does not have the Stone Circle, which is the next title in the Ruth Galloway series for me. (I actually went in and looked today, and asked, but no.) I did, however, read the first two Harbinder Kaur novels last year.

23RBeffa
Fev 1, 2023, 11:33 am

>22 laytonwoman3rd: My local library has an excellent collection of Elly Griffiths books and other nearby libraries have some too. Still, there are holes or ones that are only available as ebooks.

24RBeffa
Editado: Fev 5, 2023, 12:34 pm

Read for the February American Author challenge

6. The Seventh Event by Richard Powers, short story from Granta, The Magazine of New Writing 90, Summer 2005, finished February 1, 2023, about 3 1/2 stars



I cannot really describe this but I thought I was reading an excerpt from a memoir sort of thing where Richard Powers is talking about the literary achievements of a childhood friend and acquaintance and maybe lover who is making a name for herself in the literary world. Have you ever heard of Mia Erdmann? I think this is entirely fiction. This is how it ends, with a note from the dead Erdmann to the author:

""Hey Powers. I have a new story for you. Okay, it's not new." and it continues.

This is a strange piece but intriguing in an odd way.

25PaulCranswick
Fev 4, 2023, 11:53 pm

Listening to a lot of music from 50 years ago February, Ron.

Fairport Convention, Rory Gallagher, Blue Oyster Cult, Temptations, Dusty Springfield, Camel, Traffic and David Ruffin.

26RBeffa
Editado: Fev 5, 2023, 12:14 am

>25 PaulCranswick: I posted to FB a week or two ago, where I was 50 years ago - in college at an Eagles/Linda Ronstadt concert at Univ of California at Davis. I was really into California folk-rock at that time - singer songwriters were everywhere and that was what I was listening to my second year in college. Early Fleetwood mac as well. I had been a big fan of Rory Gallagher's Taste a few years before but never followed him afterwards to my loss. I did really enjoy Camel for several years and have a couple of the early albums which i played a lot in the 70's. Traffic and low spark provided some ideal slow dance music I can tell you. Here is where I was November 15, 1972: https://randymeisnerretrospective.com/2021/02/26/freeborn-hall-uc-davis-november...

27PaulCranswick
Fev 5, 2023, 2:19 am

>26 RBeffa: That is fantastic Ron, thanks for sharing it.

28laytonwoman3rd
Fev 5, 2023, 12:29 pm

>24 RBeffa: I think you've called Mr. Powers Mr. Ford...story sounds intriguing, though.

29RBeffa
Fev 5, 2023, 12:33 pm

>28 laytonwoman3rd: I certainly did! Will correct. Teaches me to not use my tablet on the fly - I had to correct numerous things in the few sentences and now one more. Thank you.

30RBeffa
Fev 6, 2023, 10:07 pm

>27 PaulCranswick: Since you like music stories Paul I am going to share a story I wrote long ago, October 2005 - I originally shared it with some music friends and then put it on Facebook. all these years later I'll share it with you. One of my very favorite music moments with roots in your early 70's. 1972, my first year in college, and you, much younger, might have been listening to the new Tony Joe White album with songs like "Even Trolls Love Rock n roll". You can listen to it here: youtube.com/watch?v=6r9kJGmZOQQ

So here's my story about the real swamp fox



Thursday October 6, 2005 was the night I died and went to heaven. I'm still there I think. I'm not sure how long it takes to fall to earth.

For about 5 years, roughly '69-73, Tony Joe White was by far my favorite artist. Tony Joe was the guy I searched the records store for, for every new release.

I've been waiting maybe 35 years to finally see Tony Joe live. He just doesn't come to the west coast - he may play 20 dates a year in Australia, but not California. I've been waiting to see and hear TJ live since around 1970, when he came to the Lion's Share over in Marin, but I was 17 or 18, and under age and so I just got to listen to the muffled music floating in the ether. I've been waiting ever since.

He just played Santa Cruz the night before - I heard someone say they thought it was the first time he had ever played there. Maybe not true, but true of modern times I bet.

So here just last Sunday Melanie sees this article in the San Francisco Chronicle and says to me "Who is it you say never comes to California?" 4 nights later after 35 years of waiting, I get to see Tony Joe. I honestly had modest expectations - I told Melanie we would probably get an acoustic set, in keeping with the subdued work of his last two albums. TJ is no young boy either.

In words best left unspoken regarding bay area traffic and parking we got to the club door of the Cafe du Nord on Market street in San Francisco at 8:25, 5 minutes before the show. Someone hates me I figure. But we walk down the steps and discover this cool little place. Instantly I start relaxing - a long club kinda like the Sweetwater, but better. Kinda like the old Chuck's Cellar. Maybe a lot like it. The seats were long taken - the dance floor was SRO. But for whatever the reason, maybe cause it was just the opening set, there was plenty of room and we walked up and people were drifting away and got to the front left maybe 10-12 feet from the stage with only a few people in front of us. Wow. I'm thinking why am I so lucky. We had a great view.

First group was a decent opener, a singer in the round sort of thing, guys with acoustics and tenor guitar playing originals and Townes songs, a little Don Williams and early Neil Diamond. They weren't bad - maybe a 40-45 minute set. A good warmup.

After the set the people in front of us head for the bar or something - they don't come back. We kind of wait politely for a few minutes and then step forward, front and center. There's a 20ish Chinese kid who steps up next to us - Melanie asks him if he's ever seen TJ - only on DVD he says. He's really excited to be there. This security guy comes up, steps up on the stage and pulls down the four stools the last singers were using. He slides one over to Melanie - here he says. She laughs and says to me "See it pays off to have grey hair" He slides two more over to me and the kid. "Here, pull them right up front" he says, leave an aisle here, otherwise people will just move in front of you. We sit front and center, 3 feet from the stage. The room is soon packed, back to back, belly to belly behind us. wow I'm thinking. this is cool.

They pull the curtains. Set up the stage very fast. maybe 10 minutes. Curtains open again. The side door opens, TJ strolls out kind of snakey, dressed in black, black felt hat, walks slowly by us and steps up onto the stage. He sits down in a chair, no acoustic in sight, harp stand around his neck, pretty electric guitar around his neck. Interesting - half the guitar strap is a snake, fangs dipped in gold biting into the leather. He puts on some shades, looking even more the bluesman. The gold rattlesnake hypnotizes Melanie. He's also got this soft bag full of harps. I can't remember the opening song, a slowish number and then he went straight away into a great "Rainy Night in Georgia". He then calls out the drummer, tells us he just liberated "Jeff" from the state mental hospital for a few weeks, 'cause he's a good drummer, but he'll drop him off afterwards. He tells us he doesn't have a setlist - he wants to play what we want to hear - give him your requests.

Man the crowd comes alive calling out dozens of songs (TJ has quite a catalog of tunes). 99% of the requests are off of his first few albums. I call out a couple but I have a rather quiet voice unlike the big voices hollering for Stud Spider, or High Sheriff of Calhoun Parish and the Migrant. Even trolls love rock and roll a guy on the side belts out. You'll get that one he says. I'll play all of them he says. Roosevelt and Ira Lee a guy behind us hollers. TJ smirks and lets loose.

I guess there's a reason the phrase "guitar god" was invented. I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like this night. TJ ignored the requests for the quiet songs - he played the swamp rockers, bluesier undercover agents for the blues, willie and laura mae jones, and the "cute" ones like "Organic Shuffle" and "Polk Salad Annie". He was stomping his signature whomper-stomper. Later we get "Steamy Windows" that he wrote for Tina Turner. He was in a great mood and wanted to play. Could barely keep a smile off his face and kept trading looks and hooks with the drummer. He made the guitar look so easy and I'm 5 maybe 6 feet from him. Melanie can't wipe the smile off her face - isn't this great she says as he's ripping through songs showing people where ZZ Top and Mark Knopfler musta cut there chops. It's just TJ and this fantastic drummer who could lay down a beat behind anything and anywhere he went. An hour and a half whizzed by before I knew it.

So there's this pregnant pause. A couple songs get called out. TJ's pondering. My little voice says "Lake Placid Blues". TJ looks over at me. He leans back and looks at the ceiling "Man I love that song" TJ says. His fingers start flying. It's a great song from '95, TJ at his most Mark Knopflerish. But this one is different - he takes a 5 minute song and extends it - like he's telling the story of his life -

"At the time I was too young for the meaning
But it's become much clearer through the years
We gathered round the boy in his army clothes
Said goodbye and his mother shed her tears

Every day she watched for the postman
But the long awaited letter was overdue
It's not the silence that makes you crazy
It's the sound of a heart breaking in two

Then it came across the ocean
It was hard to understand the awful news
And I don't know why I still remember
I guess it's just the Lake Placid Blues

I turned 18 and left that part of the country
Went down on the Padre Island coast
Of all the hard times I still remember
The repossession of the guitar hurt the most

The paupers stood in line outside the mission
And I huddled there beside them in the rain
A priest came to the door with empty eyes
I could see he no longer felt their pain
Some were searchin' for forgiveness
And others only wanted food
I needed more than I could ask for
There is no comfort with the Lake Placid Blues"

- and he's heading for the finish and ... woooooosh. he blows out the amp.
Dead silence.
He looks at it. He looks at me. He gives me a finger check and says "Lake Placid Blues". He says he smoked an amp in LA two days before. He jokes that they can't handle swamp rock. I'll go rustle up an acoustic he says, or maybe another amp - just wait and I'll be back. He steps off the stage, walks over to me sitting there, reaches out and shakes my hand. The crowd does a little rush but he keeps going and leaves the room. Melanie looks at me "He just came and shook your hand!" I'm dumbstruck.

Musta been those lake placid blues.

It wasn't a long break - a few minutes later a guy with the first band comes out with a small fender amp - sets it up quickly - the drummer comes over with this sheet of paper adjusting all these settings. TJ comes back - no acoustic. TJ is off rocking again, but just maybe two more songs. The crowds warmth has clearly touched him. He tells us he's not used to this outside of his home area. He gives us a "Thanks y'all" and he's off the stage. There's a rather subdued start of hollering for an encore - not loud, but it doesn't stop and after a few minutes it gets quite a bit louder. No TJ I say - that's OK. What a show. But the lights are still dim and no ones moving, except the couple beside us leave. TJ comes out with guitar and glass of wine. But he sets the wine down and drinks a water bottle. And then he plays "even trolls love rock and roll" - the crowd loves it. He looks
over at me, gives me a finger check and says "I owe you a finish" and starts an entry back into Lake Placid Blues. He had already been at the end of it, but he goes riffing off for another 5 minutes and does the last verse.

"It's hard to find good friends in a lifetime
You can usually count 'em on one hand
I shivered by the fire and the dawn was breakin'
And I scattered his ashes on the sand

And the silver cranes came over in formation
In a sacred manner they flew
And I will always remember
The sky, a Lake Placid blue
Lake Placid blue"

What an incredible show it was.

31laytonwoman3rd
Fev 6, 2023, 10:37 pm

>30 RBeffa: What an incredible story it is. Thanks so much for sharing it here.

32drneutron
Fev 7, 2023, 8:19 am

Wow, what a cool evening!

33RBeffa
Fev 8, 2023, 9:26 pm

>31 laytonwoman3rd: >32 drneutron: Thanks Linda and Jim.

34RBeffa
Fev 12, 2023, 1:29 pm

Have not been actively reading but I am almost midway through the next Elly Griffiths book, The Chalk Pit. Seems a bit better than The Woman in Blue and I hope it holds up. I gave up on an older Stephen King book, The Gunslinger and deleted it from my books. I had read part of it long long ago and it quickly reminded me of why I stopped reading King in the 80's. I have other King books to nibble on if I feel the urge. I was pleased with the Gwendy books last year.

35RBeffa
Editado: Maio 11, 2023, 5:17 pm

Sort of a series read - it is #23 of 55 annual collections through 2021. I've read at least six of these already.

7. Nebula Awards 23 various authors, edited by Michael Bishop, finished Feb 19, 2023, 3 1/2 stars



These stories, with one exception, are from Nebula award winners and nominees from 1986-1987. This was a year in a period where I was really enjoying science fiction/fantasy and several of these stories I have read and enjoyed before. There was only one really disappointing story that I DNF'd - and it was a story that the editor thought should have been considered or nominated. hmmmm. That isn't the usual way these collections work, but there are a number of also-rans included here.

Anyway, some excellent stories as well as some hit or miss, and intros and discussions of things 1987. My favorite story in here is probably "Rachel in Love" by Pat Murphy. Of note is the inclusion of one of the first "Wild Card" stories in George R R Martin's long running series, titled "Witness" by Walter Jon Williams. The story had a very strong start but ended for me with almost a kerplop. Intrigued me but not enough to read others in the series. Interesting alternate history idea though. Several of the stories were just a little too strange for me and very forgettable.

ix • Introduction (Nebula Awards 23) • essay by Michael Bishop
1 • The World Renews Itself: A View on the SF and Fantasy of 1987 • essay by Ian Watson
22 • In Memoriam: Alfred Bester 1913 1987 • essay by Isaac Asimov
28 • Forever Yours, Anna • (1987) • short story by Kate Wilhelm
44 • Flowers of Edo • (1987) • novelette by Bruce Sterling
74 • Schwarzschild Radius • (1987) • short story by Connie Willis
97 • Witness • Wild Cards • (1986) • novella by Walter Jon Williams
155 • Judgment Call • (1987) • novelette by John Kessel
176 • The Glassblower's Dragon • (1987) • short story by Lucius Shepard
185 • Rachel in Love • (1987) • novelette by Pat Murphy
220 • Rhysling Poetry Award Winners (1987) • essay by Michael Bishop
222 • Before the Big Bang: News from the Hubble Large Space Telescope • (1986) • poem by Jonathan V. Post
223 • A Dream of Heredity • (1986) • poem by John Calvin Rezmerski
225 • Daedalus • (1986) • poem by W. Gregory Stewart
227 • Angel • (1987) • short story by Pat Cadigan
247 • Freezeframe • (1986) • short story by Gregory Benford
255 • The Blind Geometer • (1986) • novella by Kim Stanley Robinson
308 • Spelling God with the Wrong Blocks • (1987) • short story by James Morrow
323 • DX • (1987) • poem by Joe Haldeman
332 • Science Fiction Movies of 1987 • essay by Bill Warren
363 • About the Nebula Award • essay by Michael Bishop
367 • Past Nebula Award Winners

36PaulCranswick
Fev 19, 2023, 7:32 pm

>30 RBeffa: That is a fantastic story, Ron, thanks for sharing it.

Lake Placid Blues will be on my mind for a while now!

37RBeffa
Fev 19, 2023, 8:18 pm

>36 PaulCranswick: I am glad you enjoyed it Paul. Special memory for me.

38PaulCranswick
Fev 19, 2023, 8:26 pm

>37 RBeffa: We are so similar, Ron, in our likes that I was bound to enjoy your story.

39RBeffa
Editado: Fev 28, 2023, 10:28 am

I have edited my original post

8. The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths, finished abt Feb 23, 2023 4+ stars



9th book in the Ruth Galloway series - I've read the first nine plus a short story.

I finished this a few days ago. I liked it much better than the previous novel in the series (though this one isn't perfect). It has a very good finish and I liked seeing one of the minor characters from prior novels, Judy Johnson, have a much bigger part in this book. Quite different from earlier entries in the series. Never enough Cathbad however and he is becoming quite the domesticated partner of Judy Johnson.

Reflecting on this book for several days I came to the personal conclusion that it is one of the best in the series. I went back and read the last 40-50 pages or so of the book which is chock full of surprising developments for our characters. The book does a great job creating sympathetic characters who are "rough sleepers", called homeless or unsheltered people in America.

Always enjoyable to learn some hidden history. The author has dropped a few things in this book which I read as hints of where the overarching relationship story might be going.

40RBeffa
Editado: Mar 1, 2023, 3:04 pm

Although I have several series I want to read this year I am going to read my third Elly Griffiths book, The Dark Angel next. This one looks quite different than the others.

ETA: I am happy to say that although The Dark Angel will be different, it starts off exactly where The Chalk Pit stopped, at Dave and Cassie's wedding. I get a little bothered at times when series make leaps forward in time.

41RBeffa
Editado: Maio 7, 2023, 12:20 pm

9. The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths, finished Mar 5, 2023, 4 stars



First thought is that this is the first book in the series to really surprise me and shock me. For that alone it gets 4 stars. I had to race through the latter part of the book and feel like I should go back and read parts at a more normal pace. So I will do that before I start or get too far into another book. I had ideas where this story might go based on the ending of the prior book and I was very wrong. This series sure has hooks in me now.

I went back and re-read much of this book. It is different than the other books in the series because the setting is not primarily on the Norfolk coast, but instead in Italy. The mysteries in here had me wondering throughout the book. I'll confess to not really trying to "solve" the mysteries, but instead just enjoyed the narrative. We get inside the heads of various characters and see things that we have not seen before.

42kaida46
Mar 6, 2023, 4:16 pm

Hi Ron, I've never read Elly Griffiths, but I might have to add this author to my suggestions list.

Would your suggestion be to start with the first book of the series?

Happy reading!

43RBeffa
Mar 6, 2023, 6:46 pm

>42 kaida46: yes, you should really start with the first, The Crossing Places. The books are all mysteries with an archaeological side to them which really adds a nice touch. There can be a bit of romance and slight soap opera to them, but the author seems able to pull it off. The author has other series as well now, and I have only read one of those, The Stranger Diaries which has different characters and is a bit of a modern gothic mystery. All the stories in the series I am reading are set in the present. I am looking forward to see how she handles the pandemic in the future books I have yet to read.

44RBeffa
Mar 24, 2023, 12:33 pm

I have not done much book reading this month. Been busy with other things and I'm nibbling away at two large short story anthologies. One by Louis L'Amour will be finished soonish The Chick Bowdrie Short Stories Bundle - the other will keep me busy for a few weeks - It is called Unknown Worlds Tales From Beyond. I had this book for several decades and never finished it. 25 small print stories. I suspect the small print kept me from devouring this but I remember it as one of many anthologies I had that I would read a little bit now and then. I thought I had given it away but I found it in a miscellaneous box set aside for giveaways years ago that never got given away. It has a really great story in it that is an Edgar A Poe pastiche/tribute by Manly Wade Wellman called When It Was Moonlight. Reading that story again has prompted me to read/re-read these stories from 1939-1943 before it finally is given away to the library.

I also have some series read novels lined up for when I get my groove back.

45RBeffa
Mar 27, 2023, 4:42 pm

A self contained series read of Louis L'Amour short stories

10. The Chick Bowdrie Short Stories Bundle by Louis L'Amour, finished March 26, 2023, 4 stars



This ebook from my library is a collection of 19 short stories featuring Texas Ranger Chick Bowdrie. I really enjoyed this collection, reading one or two at a time. A perfect book for when I don't want to tackle a novel.

46RBeffa
Editado: Mar 29, 2023, 3:31 pm

11. Bloodless by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, finished March 29, 2023, 3 stars



I started this novel a while ago and the book starts with the exciting D B Cooper skyjacking of 1971 - when that chapter closes, well, I got bored and disappointed for many pages. Of the Pendergast novels I have read this one is the weakest even though it starts right up where the preceding novel 'Crooked River' ends. When I think back I wasn't overly thrilled with Crooked River either, in some ways, although I still found it entertaining.

The story takes some bizarre turns even for a Pendergast novel as this turns into a science fiction horror thriller. I enjoyed the latter part of the novel and especially the way Pendergast solves the D B Cooper mystery. I'm even more interested in reading the latest book as we got some character information in this story that was new to me.

edit: I got this one from the library - I'm glad I didn't purchase it! With one or two exceptions the peripheral characters in this story really are lacking.

47kaida46
Mar 30, 2023, 5:14 pm

Hi Ron,
As a usual Pendergast fan myself, I have to agree with you, Bloodless was pretty 'out there' and a bit of a disappointment. The Cabinet of Dr. Leng is better.

48RBeffa
Mar 31, 2023, 12:10 am

>47 kaida46: I like that the beginning of Dr. Leng repeats the end of Bloodless with Constance. I'm not sure they could possibly evoke 1880's New York the way Jack Finney did in Time and Again, but I will be hoping.

49PaulCranswick
Abr 7, 2023, 11:40 pm

Just a quick stop by and catch-up, Ron.

I am listening to an album from each year of the 1970s this weekend: Van Morrison, Barclay James Harvest, Jethro Tull, Jim Croce, Billy Preston, Al Stewart, Fairport Convention, Doobie Brothers, Blondie, Police.

50RBeffa
Abr 7, 2023, 11:54 pm

>49 PaulCranswick: I find myself repeatedly playing Ryuichi Sakamoto's Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence. I always thought it one of the greatest soundtracks. I am also doing a bit of a Cowboy Junkies review with bits across many albums with the goal of creating a playlist that pleases me.

51PaulCranswick
Abr 8, 2023, 12:35 am

>50 RBeffa: I will give that a listen, Ron. I do like Cowboy Junkies and I remember buying a couple of their albums in the mid-90s

52RBeffa
Abr 8, 2023, 12:54 am

>51 PaulCranswick: if you have seen the film the music will be more evocative, if that is the right word. Ryuichi and David Bowie, among others, turn in outstanding performances in the film.

Junkies songs can be rather depressing. Listen to Shining Teeth for example. They are a great band tho and YouTube has plenty of examples.

53RBeffa
Editado: Abr 11, 2023, 7:10 pm

A series read for me

12. The Last Remains by Elly Griffiths, finished April 11, 2023 3 1/2 - 4 stars



15th and appears to be the final mystery novel in the Ruth Galloway series.

I received an advanced uncorrected proof of this novel through the Goodreads Giveaway Program.

I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. This is not a bad book by any means and there were parts that I really liked. For a potential wrap-up of the Ruth Galloway series this did a pretty good job. I think of it as a better than average book, but not really a better than average Galloway mystery. In many ways it is a retread of prior books - some intentional to give continuity to the journey we have taken with the characters. There is some folklore and history and (very little) archeology, the stuff that really attracted me to this series initially. The mysteries in these books, and this one in particular, were rarely the reason I read this series - I read for the characters, the Norfolk coast setting and as I noted the history, archeology and folklore. Most of the mysteries seem to have an out of the blue character ofttimes barely mentioned through the book turn out to be the guilty party. That happens here and the reason behind it seems rather weak to me. At least in this one the creepy person who was heavily painted with suspicion wasn't entirely innocent. But how many times did Ruth, an intelligent woman, put herself in a rather obvious danger through this series?

Well, I shouldn't complain, i enjoyed this including the slightly sappy end. I think potential readers new to the series should start off with "The Crossing Places", the beginning of the series, rather than the end.

54laytonwoman3rd
Abr 12, 2023, 8:27 am

"Most of the mysteries seem to have an out of the blue character ofttimes barely mentioned through the book turn out to be the guilty party." I really hadn't notice that so clearly as in Harbinder Kaur's last venture, where the "other things" I enjoy so much in Griffiths' work just weren't there. I enjoyed the first two in that series much more, but now I couldn't tell you much about their plots. Like you, I find the characters, setting and interesting information shared with the reader make the Galloway series a favorite.

55RBeffa
Abr 12, 2023, 10:58 am

>54 laytonwoman3rd: I was reading back over portions of the book last night and the author does drop in things that I viewed as descriptions but were clues in a way for who would be the guilty party. I suppose I am the odd bird who doesn't read mysteries to play detective, but rather to see how the author has constructed a believable mystery. I was reading this one more for how Ruth and Nelson would resolve themselves as well as the other characters. I didn't want to mention it in the review as a spoiler but there is an excellent and surprising touchback to the first novel. I suppose I should add a comment to that effect in my posted review.

56RBeffa
Editado: Abr 14, 2023, 9:48 am

I'm dropping two books here as markers - they were both DNF

NN The Magic of Recluce by L. E. Modesitt, Jr

This is a part of a long series of books and this one was the first published book in the series. I had tried reading it once before and gave up. Same reaction this time. Just not very interesting overall. I read another in the series long ago and liked it quite a bit, but I have decided not to commit to this series. I "might" try later books in the series at some point.

NN Unknown worlds : tales from beyond multiple authors

This is a very large collection of old stories in the fantasy/mild horror/supernatural vein. I read most or possibly all of this collection many years ago. I found it in a box I had thought given away and decided to re-read it at least in part. I read half a dozen stories not in any order and felt like I recalled them all by the time I finished. This anthology was just something I didn't want to redo after all. I did really like Manly Wade Wellman's When It Was Moonlight. I discussed this story and the book up at >44 RBeffa:

Both books have now been donated

57RBeffa
Abr 15, 2023, 11:26 pm

A couple weeks ago I ran across a book by Truman Capote, a Vintage edition of Breakfast at Tiffany's. I have never read a Truman Capote story before, as far as I can recall. I figured, why not? So here goes. I saw the film once, long ago.

58RBeffa
Abr 18, 2023, 1:12 pm

Currently reading:



The original novella of Ender's Game which I thought was amazing the first time read about 1978 or 1979, plus 3 other stories which will be new to me.



Can you say wackadoodle?

59RBeffa
Abr 20, 2023, 3:39 pm

Sort of a series read for me

13. First Meetings in the Enderverse by Orson Scott Card, finished April 20, 2023 3 1/2 stars



This is an attractive nicely designed book that includes four stories from 1977 and 2000 to 2003, the year of publication. In order, the stories are "The Polish Boy", "Teacher's Pest", "Ender's Game" and "Investment Counselor". There are numerous pen and ink illustrations throughout the book which, unfortunately, I disliked.

The novella "Ender's Game" from 1977 is famous and I first read it when it was nearly new. I was very impressed then and pleased that it holds up reasonably well. The three additional stories in this book I'd rate as very good (Polish Boy), fair to poor (Teacher's Pest) and interesting (Investment Counselor)".

My interest in Card's writing faded as the Alvin Maker series progressed in the 1980's and I never read any of the Ender follow-up novels, except I did read the novel version of Ender's Game. I tried one more Card novel, the political thriller "Empire" in 2009 and was disappointed.

I am not planning to read further in the Ender series.

60RBeffa
Abr 22, 2023, 11:31 am

14. Breakfast at Tiffany's : a short novel and three stories by Truman Capote, finished April 21, 2023, 4 1/2 stars



Breakfast at Tiffany's surprised me. My brief initial impression when I began to read the story was 'wackadoodle'. Holly Golightly was very kooky. Paul, the narrator, I envisioned as a version of Truman Capote. This 1958 book would not be for everyone, but I came to love it. I am utterly charmed by it. I really do not recall the film at all, but the novel would not really translate to 1961 cinema without changes. Holly is a wild thing. She is a call girl of a different sort.

I thought I had not read Capote before, but there are three additional shorter stories in the book and one of them I recognized. It was quite memorable.

4 stories here, all excellent, with Breakfast the star of the show.

I have been thinking that there are a great number of classic works of 20th century fiction that I have never read. This made me want some more.

61m.belljackson
Abr 22, 2023, 11:51 am

>60 RBeffa: Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory is one of his that I enjoyed.

62RBeffa
Abr 22, 2023, 1:06 pm

>61 m.belljackson: 'A Christmas memory' was one of the three extra stories and it was the one I recognized. Fruitcake!

The other two stories were 'House of Flowers' and 'A Diamond Guitar'.

63RBeffa
Abr 26, 2023, 12:58 pm

A series read

15. Blue-Eyed Devil by Robert B Parker, finished April 26, 2023, 3 stars



This is the 4th book in Robert Parker's Cole and Hitch series. I read the first book, Appaloosa, in late 2017 and read the next two, Brimstone and Resolution in short order. I had trouble finding this book. Eventually I did locate a copy our library had but I could find no record in my LT library that I read it. I can scarcely remember the storylines of these books, although Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch are very memorable characters. Anyway, I picked up a paperback copy of Blue-eyed Devil several months ago and finally sat down to read it. These books are very quick reads. The stories also have some similarity. Even though it had been 5 years since reading Brimstone I had no trouble stepping into this story. Almost immediately I recognized I had already read this and so my re-read went very quickly until about 3/4 way and there I did not recognize things. I can only guess I never finished the story back in 2018 and so never recorded it.

I think this may be the weakest book in the series so far. It did not really capture my interest like the earlier books. The series was continued after Parker's death by Robert Knott. I do not plan to continue.

64laytonwoman3rd
Abr 26, 2023, 6:29 pm

>63 RBeffa: You're wise to stop here. Knott's first effort wasn't terrible---I listened to the audio version, and Titus Welliver read it well. But the second Knott outing, Bull River, was just awful. I hated to leave Vergil and Hitch, but nobody has successfully "done" Parker since he died.

65RBeffa
Abr 27, 2023, 12:19 pm

>64 laytonwoman3rd: I almost think that Parker was done with the series with this book. I can wonder if he was really finished with this story at the time of his death. Seemed like he was tying up a few strings and the duo are back in Appaloosa. I would have been happier if Virgil could have been done with the troublesome Allie.

66laytonwoman3rd
Abr 27, 2023, 5:50 pm

>65 RBeffa: In my review I said "Not the least of his {Parker's} gifts is that he has never left his readers hanging. Surely he did not plan for Virgil and Everett's story to end here, but it's OK that it does. There are no questions unanswered, nothing to wonder about forever more."

Virgil needed to cut loose from Allie, just as Jesse Stone needed to free himself emotionally from his ex-wife.

67RBeffa
Abr 28, 2023, 11:09 pm

>66 laytonwoman3rd: Your review and comments are spot on Linda and I'm inclined to raise my rating to 3 1/2 stars from 3, the more I think about it. Although part of the book felt like a retread, and I was a little underwhelmed, the finish was very good. Funny thing is when I read the books before and now, in my mind's eye is a mashup of Ed Harris with Robert Duvall as Virgil and Viggo Mortensen as Hitch. I can never fit Renee Zellweger as Allie - Allie to me is a young Kathy Bates.

68laytonwoman3rd
Abr 29, 2023, 10:46 am

Did you see the movie version, Ron? I did, and I thought Harris and Mortensen were well cast. Funny, I don't remember a thing about Zellweger's performance. Just this morning, I said to my husband "What's the word I want, Virgil?" (His name isn't Virgil, and he didn't know either.)

69RBeffa
Editado: Abr 29, 2023, 1:19 pm

>68 laytonwoman3rd: yes, saw the movie years ago, but I cannot recall if it was before or after reading appaloosa the novel. I thought it was great casting for the two leads. The patter between Hitch and Cole is priceless. It wasn't until late in this last book that it seemed Parker remembered to have Hitch repeatedly correct Cole's word choice. Or give a definition or suggest an alternate word.

A friend handed me copies of two Knott books after I praised these. I might give one a go after all. I am very fond of the duo. I will think on it. (Ironhorse and Blackjack)

70RBeffa
Maio 3, 2023, 12:12 am

I think Parker's Blue-eyed Devil and L'Amour's Chick Bowdrie stories spoiled me a little.

16. Silver Canyon by Louis L'Amour, finished May 2, 2023, 2 1/2 - 3 stars



At one time I had a bunch of Louis L'Amour novels that I had collected at used shops and library sales. I think I picked them up because of the Sackett movies and would would read one now and then but mostly they just sat there so I gave them away. LT tells me I have read or still have 19 Louis L'Amour books so they all didn't go away.

The Chick Bowdrie stories I read in March really impressed me. They must be among L'Amour's best short fiction. Silver Canyon which I just finished is a typical sized shorter novel. 164 pages in my 1981 hardback. At the front of the book it says it was first published in a shorter version under the title "Riders of the Dawn" in June 1951. This novel version came in October 1956.

When I started reading this my first impression was not a good one at all, but the story did improve even though the original premise did not. I don't think I ever liked or rooted for the main character although I did like a couple other characters in the book. Being an ex boxer L'Amour seems to love including detailed fight scenes in some of his stories such as this one and they bore me to tears. However, L'Amour is always good with vivid descriptions of landscape and this one is no exception to that. I'll consider it an OK read.

71RBeffa
Maio 4, 2023, 4:19 pm

I'm kind of in a western mood but don't feel like tackling another novel at the moment. What I decided to do last evening was re-read the last third of the final Ruth Galloway book, The Last Remains which I read at the beginning of April. This last part has some quite emotional moments in it. I actually re-read parts of books somewhat often in the last couple years. My brain thinks on them a bit and I go back to certain chapters, or like this one, just want to experience again what looks like the end of the series. I've been pondering re-reads of some of my favorite books.

I'm also tempted to restart the Dr Siri series by Colin Cotterill. The next book in that series for me, ten years on now, would be I Shot the Buddha, #11 in the series.

72RBeffa
Maio 10, 2023, 6:05 pm

#11 of 15 in the Ruth Galloway series of mystery.

17. The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths, finished May 10, 2023, 2 1/2 - 3 stars



This Ruth Galloway series book is probably my least favorite of the run. It is a deliberate echo of the first novel, The Crossing Places, and it lacks the freshness and mystery of it. I don't mean to be crabby about this one, but it just didn't interest me like almost every other Elly Griffiths novel has. The story begins February 12, 2016. There are some background bits on the characters dropped in here, as there always are. I don't think I ever knew exactly how old Ruth Galloway was - approximately, yes, but if her year of birth was specifically mentioned in the early books I don't recall. Here though Ruth mentions she was 13 on July 31, 1981 the date of Charles and Diana's wedding. That would mean she was born probably in 1968, maybe late 1967. Later she says she is approaching 50 years of age, and then states she is 47.

This story covers my least favorite aspect of the Galloway mysteries, the discovery of a 12 year old girl buried in the saltmarsh in a new henge near the wooden henge that was the focal point of the first book. Henge stuff = good. Dead children = not good for me.

I don't think any regular reader of the series would want to skip this book. There are important developments to the story arcs. The next book in the series, The Lantern Men, begins June 2018.

73RBeffa
Maio 11, 2023, 10:55 am

I really seem to have lost my reading mojo this year, although it has been coming on for a while.

74m.belljackson
Maio 11, 2023, 1:49 pm

If you are up for a fine and challenging political non-fiction,
from The Spanish Civil War to Joseph Welch,
David Maraniss' A GOOD AMERICAN FAMILY might do it.

Otherwise, there's the fun of Jonathan Tropper.

75RBeffa
Maio 11, 2023, 5:23 pm

>74 m.belljackson: Thanks for the book mentions Marianne. I'm not really lacking for books or ideas though.

76RBeffa
Editado: Maio 13, 2023, 3:29 pm

#8 novel of 15 (soon to be 16) in the Bruno, Chief of Police series of mysteries. A bit of a comfort read.

18. The Patriarch aka The Dying Season by Martin Walker, finished May 13, 2023, almost 3 stars



I haven't read one of the Bruno books since August 2021 when I read 'The Children Return'. Time to return to the French countryside. I have several of these on hand and my library has more. I read these not so much for the mysteries but for the characters and the French countryside, culture and food. There is always some good history, usually related to World War II, sort of hidden history, woven into the stories as well. You learn things you probably would never have known. This particular book was first published in 2015. It was a pretty quick read for me.

Walker eases the reader into the story by giving us something new wrapped with some of the old. Very well done to start this off without feeling a bit lost. (ie who was the Red Countess, etc.) I would not jump into the series with this book - this is a series that builds on the stories before. Bruno, the chief of police of St. Denis has quite a love life through these books. His relationship with Pamela had begun to deteriorate at the end of the prior book and we see it completely unravel and pretty much end here. But never say never.

The premise of this book hit me as a little strange (OK, let me say highly unlikely) with cold war espionage, for the small town area that Bruno appears to know so well. This was probably my least favorite and weakest book of the series so far. It lacks the sparkling spots of earlier books. I hate when that happens to a series. Like the author was just going through the motions. There are lots of things happening with characters I didn't care about. That sounds harsh but I really didn't enjoy this one.

77laytonwoman3rd
Maio 13, 2023, 2:51 pm

I've read three of the Bruno books, and really want to get back to the series. In my last review I said Bruno was "up to his ears in women"! Unfortunately my library only has an e-book version of No. 4, The Crowded Grave. But there's a book sale coming up in about 3 weeks...maybe I'll get lucky.

78RBeffa
Maio 13, 2023, 3:36 pm

>77 laytonwoman3rd: I was hunting the library sales pretty hard for these books before the pandemic. Our library has a mixed availability of these books in paper. There are a few ebooks too, but those can disappear. I hope you have good luck. I was a little slow to warm to this series and it never became a must read, but obviously since I got to #8 I have enjoyed them well enough.

#8 just didn't really click with me.

79laytonwoman3rd
Maio 13, 2023, 4:32 pm

I don't think I've ever found a Bruno, or a Dr. Siri, or a Montalbano at a library sale. (And I've donated a few of them myself!) But one can hope.

80RBeffa
Maio 14, 2023, 1:55 pm

>79 laytonwoman3rd: I have donated all the ones I have read. I see the first Bruno now and then. I have seen Dr Siri and Montalbano years ago. I suspect people hold on to them. Elly Griffiths books are dang rare as well.

81RBeffa
Editado: Maio 18, 2023, 1:59 am

>79 laytonwoman3rd: While doing some cleanup work with the friends yesterday after the weekend sale I noticed there was still a newish looking Montalbano book on the shelf for sale (Potter's Field). No Cotterill or Martin Walker's tho.
---------------------

I have been ignoring my collection of fantasy and science fiction magazines. In the past I read half a dozen or so a year. They can be very entertaining. I'll try and read at least 6 this year, hopefully more.

19. Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, Vol. 2, No. 3, May-June 1978 by various authors, edited by George H. Scithers, finished May 17, 2023, 3 stars



As I type this Asimov's science fiction magazine is on issue #569. This is issue #7 from the second year. The magazine started as a quarterly in 1977, then went to a bi-monthly in 1978, then monthly in 1979. In later years things changed on occasion. Currently the magazine is on a bi-monthly six issues a year schedule. I no longer read the current issues as I let my 30+ years subscription lapse when the story quality and selection significantly declined.

So, the May-June 1978 issue was edited by George Scithers and had settled into a roughly 196 page format that would continue for many years (It would drop to 180 pages in August 1991 and change format and size periodically thereafter. The rather unremarkable cover by Vincent di Fate illustrated the lead-off story in the digest, "The Last Full Measure" by George Alec Effinger which I found to be modestly entertaining. An alien has captured some earth people and is studying them supposedly to evaluate for how they can be conquered at some point in the future. He makes Corporal Bo Staefler relive his death 4 times on Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Staefler gives the last full measure and dies for greater things than can be imagined.

In addition to an editorial from Asimov, letters to the editor, artwork, a puzzle and some brief book reviews, the fiction content is:

•18 • The Last Full Measure • shortstory by George Alec Effinger
•29 • Pièce de Résistance • shortstory by Jesse Bone
•37 • A Choice of Weapons • shortstory by Michael Tennenbaum
•38 • Polly Plus • shortstory by Randall Garrett
•53 • $tar War$ • poem by John M. Ford
•54 • Wolf Tracks • poem by Donald Gaither
•58 • Guilt • novelette by James E. Gunn
•80 • Star Train • shortstory by Drew Mendelson
•88 • Born Again • shortstory by Sharon N. Farber (AKA S.N. Dyer)
•105 • Into the Cold Blackness of Type • poem by John M. Ford
•105 • First Time • poem by Jeffrey Haas
•108 • The Man Who Took the Fifth • shortstory by Michael Schimmel
•115 • Sun Burnt • poem by S. Dale (Steven Utley)
•117 • A Child of Penzance • novelette by Tony Sarowitz
•137 • Lipidleggin' • LaNague Federation • shortstory by F. Paul Wilson
•146 • Singularity • novella by Mildred Downey Broxon

Some of these stories and all the poems were borderline fluff. On the other hand a few such as 'Guilt' by James Gunn have something to really chew on and think about - just as relevant today as it was 45 years ago when published. 'Star Train' by Drew Mendelson was a very good far far future story. This issue also has the first published science fiction story by Sharon Farber who became a frequent contributor to Asimov's and other magazines over the years. Her story was a vampire story of all things. Overall the fiction here was pretty decent. I thought the final story, the novella 'Singularity' was the most science-fictiony of these stories, and it was also my favorite.

82fuzzi
Maio 18, 2023, 7:41 am

>63 RBeffa: the only Robert Parker books I've read are the four books in this series, and I liked them quite a bit. My father recommended the Spencer books which I've not yet tried though they remain on my "Recommended to Me" to read list.

83fuzzi
Maio 18, 2023, 7:44 am

>70 RBeffa: I've read almost every L'Amour book there is, and I was underwhelmed by my reread of this one (don't recall when I first read it). It's fine, better than a lot of other books in the genre, but not one that I'll keep and reread.

I'm at the point that I skip over the fist fight scenes, I'm not missing anything.

The Bowdrie books are superb. L'Amour really excelled at short story writing. Most of his novels are pretty good to very good, some not so much.

84RBeffa
Maio 18, 2023, 11:41 am

>83 fuzzi: I have enjoyed L'Amour's short story collections much more than his novels. Even the Sackett novels were uneven to me although some were excellent.

85RBeffa
Editado: Jun 5, 2023, 3:26 pm

20. Moonferns and Starsongs by Robert Silverberg, finished May 21, 2023, 3 stars



This is a collection of 11 stories published in paperback in June 1971. 52 years ago. The stories within were originally published between 1956 and 1970. Most were 68-70. They haven't aged well. Several are cringeworthy where Silverberg was pushing the sex buttons of the wild and crazy 60's, but in some cases quite oddly. I recognized 6 or 7 of them from prior anthologies. The opening story became part of Silverberg's novel The World Inside. Two of the best stories in here were Nightwings and Passengers, which both won science fiction awards. The novella Nightwings was the first of three novellas that would be released in novel form as 'Nightwings', but the story as presented here from 1968 stands on its own as a very far future story set in the city of Roum. Almost a little too creepy for me to really enjoy, I still appreciated the imagination that created it. I also liked 'Collecting Team' which is an old-fashioned land and explore the planet adventure. But just suppose you find a planet with so many critters and then you find out that the collector has been collected!

1 • A Happy Day in 2381 • (1970) • short story (first appeared in the anthology Nova 1)
2 • After the Myths Went Home • (1969) • short story (first appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, November 1969)
3 • Passengers • (1968) • short story (first appeared in Orbit 4) won 1970 Nebula short story
4 • To Be Continued • (1956) • short story (first appeared in Astounding Science Fiction, May 1956)
5 • Nightwings • (1968) • novella (first appeared Galaxy Magazine, September 1968) won 1969 Hugo novella
6 • We Know Who We Are • (1970) • short story (first appearance in Amazing Science Fiction, July 1970)
7 • The Pleasure of Their Company • (1970) • novelette (first appeared in anthology Infinity One)
8 • The Songs of Summer • (1956) • short story (first appeared in Science Fiction Stories, September 1956)
9 • A Man of Talent • (1966) • short story (variant of The Man with Talent 1956) (first appeared in the anthology New Dreams This Morning)
10 • Collecting Team • (1956) • short story (first appeared in Super-Science Fiction, December 1956)
11 • Going Down Smooth • (1968) • short story (Galaxy Magazine, August 1968)

86RBeffa
Maio 26, 2023, 7:34 pm

21. Variable Star by Robert Heinlein and Spider Robinson, did not finish, May 26, 2023

A friend told me I really had to read this book and put it into my hand. Robinson wrote this based on an outline Heinlein created in 1955. At first I thought I might really enjoy it altho I was not crazy about Robinson's writing style. Eventually both the story and the style did me in.

Not the book for me

87RBeffa
Editado: Maio 28, 2023, 12:02 pm

22. A Fantasy Medley 3 by Kevin Hearne, Laura Bickle, Aliette de Bodard, and Jacqueline Carey. Yanni Kuznia (Editor), finished May 28, 2023, 3 1/2 stars



1 • Goddess at the Crossroads • The Iron Druid Chronicles • 4.2 • novelette by Kevin Hearne
2 • Ashes • Anya Kalinczyk • novelette by Laura Bickle
3 • The Death of Aiguillon • Dominion of the Fallen • novelette by Aliette de Bodard
4 • One Hundred Ablutions • (2015) • novelette by Jacqueline Carey

I have a hard time passing up a Subterranean Press book for sale on the used shelf. This slim anthology has 4 novelettes that don't have a theme but seem to represent a selection of 2015 darkish fantasy. Three of the stories are set within the framework of existing stories by the authors with the 4th story being the exception. I am not a Kevin Hearne fan (have tried 2 of his novels in the past, both DNF) but his story here was entertaining and irreverent enough, especially if you want to see Willy shake. All four stories were OK to very good. I imagine favorites would vary quite a bit by individual reader. These aren't my sort of stories so I won't look for other books by these authors but I would think regular readers of fantasy would enjoy these. Also, readers who are already familiar with the author's series would have an advantage over me.

Books from this publisher often have nice interior illustrations but this anthology only had a fancy cover illustration.

88RBeffa
Jun 4, 2023, 9:44 pm


One of the better collections of stories I have read

23. The Best American Mystery Stories 2018 (The Best American Series ®) by 20 authors and edited by Otto Penzler and Louise Penny, finished June 4, 2023, 4 stars



I have to say that I was impressed with this from the start including the intro by Louise Penny. A number of these stories are not what I would think of as traditional mystery stories (there are plenty of those too), but mystery stories can encompass a lot of things. There are old tropes here wearing new clothes, but that is fine with me when it is done very well. I have never been a fan of Joyce Carol Oates scary stories and the one here ... young women going off to college and dying is not what I ever want to read about.

There are numerous excellent stories in here by excellent writers, Here's a breakdown:

1. Banana Triangle Six by Louis Bayard, 4+ stars, orig from Ellery Queen's Mystery Mag
- This one could almost be too scary real, sort of near future science fiction
2. Y is For Yangchuan Lizard by Andrew Bourelle, 4 1/2 stars, from an anthology D is For Dinosaur
- A triple cross drug deal for the rarest drug of all.
3. The Designee by T C Boyle, 3+ stars
- all too believable story of how one of those Nigerian type let's scam the elderly things plays out
4. Smoked by Michael Bracken, 4+ stars
- Motorcycle gang comes for vengeance. One of my favorites from this collection.
5. The Wild Side of Life by James Lee Burke, 4 stars
- I liked this dark bayou type tale
6. Too Much Time by Lee Child, 4 1/2 stars
- Another one of my favorites of the collection, a multilayered Reacher novella that keeps the reader guessing
7. The Third Panel by Michael Connelly, 5 stars
- a great short piece playing off the artwork of H Bosch
8. Gun Work, by John M. Floyd, 5 stars
- a very good story set near Dodge in the old west where a former gunman, now a PI, is tasked with solving a mystery from over 20 years before.
9. Cabin Fever by David Edgerley Gates, 4 stars
- The start of this story lets you know it will be one tense, nail biting ride. A deputy is stranded in the Montana wilderness when his truck breaks down. Two escaped extremely deadly cons are on the loose, unknown to the deputy. Not a terribly original idea but you can read a story like this and it can go many different ways. The dialog gets a little confusing with a few too many actors in such a short story. Good though.
10. Small Signs by Charlaine Harris, 2 - 2 1/2 stars
- Almost my least favorite story
11. Takeout by Rob Hart, 2 1/2 stars
- Sub-par story for this collection, a gambler in New York is being manipulated by a 'friend' and the Chinese mob
12. Death in the Serengeti by David H Hendrickson, 3 1/2 stars
- Not good to be a game warden when the rhino and elephant poachers are at war with you.
13. All Our Yesterdays by Andrew Klavan, 3 stars
- a WWI English soldier is sent home to recover after being very badly hurt and runs headlong into a slasher horror story not of his making. Rather unbelievable.
14. PX Christmas by Martin Limon, 3 stars
- Bad things happen to the Korean wife of a GI in Seoul in the 1970s.
15. Windward by Paul D. Marks, 3 1/2 stars
- unlike some of the stories here, this one was a mystery to be solved. Begins in Venice Beach, California. PI is hired to find a missing wife. The mystery gets solved.
16. Phantomwize: 1972 by Joyce Carol Oates 1 1/2 stars
- Death of a co-ed. Claustrophobic, trying to be stylish, yet dull, too drawn out maybe, and the creepy subject of 'seduction' by the professor is not my cuppa. Skimmed sections. I'll confess to not liking Oates.
17. Rule Number One by Alan Orloff, 2 1/2 stars
- a triple cross and then a double cross on top - but a bland thing all around
18. The Apex Predator by William Dylan Powell, 2+ stars
- sigh
19. Waiting on Joe by Scott Loring Sanders, 3 stars
- not a good marriage for Steven and Deborah
20. Breadfruit by Brian Silverman, 3 1/2 stars
- to the island, an imaginary St. Pierre in the caribbean. It is a lovely place for a new life until the drug smuggler comes.

The 20 stories here appear alphabetically by the author's last name but somehow I liked the first 9 stories much more than those that came after. Strange, that. By the time I finished this I was tired of "mystery" short stories!

89RBeffa
Editado: Jun 12, 2023, 2:08 pm

24. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, finished June 11, 2023, 3 stars



I saw the film adaptation so many years ago that I could scarcely remember anything but the broad storyline. Anthony Hopkins apparently impressed me to such an extent however that as soon as I began reading this the character he portrayed, the butler Stevens, was the image in my mind while reading. I was not expecting such a sad story though. Stevens was so dedicated to his profession that he made himself miss out on love and to ignore the growing flaws in character of his employer Lord Darlington. The novel seems richer in detail than my faint memory of the film, though I miss the visuals. There are also some long boring (to me) passages about Butlers and running the big house. Stevens knew that he had missed something in life.

I come away from this book with a rather melancholy feeling. I do not think I would recommend this book even though it has something of a reputation as a great book. Whole chunks of this book could put me to sleep.

I read an original Vintage trade paperback and as noted by at least one reader here on LT, the typeset and page layout leaves something to be desired.

90RBeffa
Jun 16, 2023, 12:11 pm

I just learned of the death of George Winston on June 4th. In my 'new age' music days Winston and Michael Hedges were my favorites. I played George Winston's albums a lot, mostly for relaxation and contemplation. I particularly liked him covering my favorite jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi. Here is George playing cast Your Fate To the Wind: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_etFsZ72Mk

91laytonwoman3rd
Jun 16, 2023, 1:13 pm

>90 RBeffa: We saw George Winston in concert back in the day. He came onstage in his sockfeet. He was wonderful. I first heard him over the PA system in a bookstore, asked the clerk what they were playing, and bought his Autumn album on the spot.

92RBeffa
Jun 16, 2023, 2:01 pm

>91 laytonwoman3rd: That would have been a treat. I do not recall now the first time I heard him but I seemed to buy one of his lps every time I went looking. I did get to see Michael Hedges perform his amazing guitar work at a concert in the summer before his accidental death.

93drneutron
Jun 16, 2023, 9:05 pm

Like Linda, we saw Winston play in his socks, for us at the Kennedy Center. December was our first of his, but pretty much any of his are great.

94PaulCranswick
Jun 18, 2023, 9:22 am

George Winston is a big loss, Ron. Have spent many hours soaking up his music.

Have a great Sunday my friend.

95RBeffa
Editado: Jun 18, 2023, 4:36 pm

>93 drneutron: >94 PaulCranswick: George Winston was a rather unique and eccentric talent.

NN The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson, June 2023, DNF

This was my second attempt at reading this ambitious alternate history novel - a novel made up of ten parts that begins with the supposition that the black plague in the 14th century killed not a third but as much as 99% of the population of Europe. This is a big hardback book and I didn't quite make 10% of it. I was rather lost.

ETA: I just noticed there is a one star review from May 2023 that captures a lot of my frustration with the book and that reader seems to have bailed out at about the time I did.

96PlatinumWarlock
Jun 18, 2023, 9:18 pm

>90 RBeffa: I hadn't known of Winston's passing - I'm sorry to hear that. I had never heard of him until I started college in 1985, but "Autumn" was on fairly constant rotation in my dorm when people needed "music to study by". I came to really love it.

97RBeffa
Jun 18, 2023, 10:43 pm

>96 PlatinumWarlock: Thanks for dropping by Lavinia. As Linda noted in >91 laytonwoman3rd:, Autumn was the album that got her attention also. It was the first one for me as well I think and the one I played the most, although I can't recall exactly when I first heard it. George Winston was certainly one of the pillars of Windham Hill records.

98RBeffa
Jun 19, 2023, 2:00 pm

I have gone back to an old series - with A Superior Death by the lovely Nevada Barr. It had been quite a while since I read one but the author's skill let me step right into this - plus there was a small excerpt of the prior (and first) Anna Pigeon novel. I am hoping to read this series through here and there, in order.

99laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Jun 19, 2023, 5:24 pm

>98 RBeffa: I've been reading Anna Pigeon too. Barr has a knack for creating situations that give me nightmares, and A Superior Death was the worst so far in that regard. But I keep going.

100PlatinumWarlock
Jun 19, 2023, 6:31 pm

>98 RBeffa: I think I read Track of the Cat many, many years ago - before I was tracking my reading - and never followed up, but I love the idea of mysteries starring a park ranger. I'll add it to the (oh, so bloated) TBR list. Thanks for the reminder!

101RBeffa
Jun 21, 2023, 2:39 pm

>99 laytonwoman3rd: >100 PlatinumWarlock: I read Track of the Cat before I tracked all of my reading on LT, so probably 2009 or maybe 2010. Or maybe a little earlier. I've read several of Nevada Barr's other stories but not for a while. I might have finished Superior Death yesterday but it got so intense I had to set it down even though I was nearing the end. Barr's writing is very good and she uses phrases that are familiar to me that I never hear anymore. Sturm und drang. Ha! I missed whatever clues there were to who the bad person is. I am going to reread part of Superior Death before I make myself read the end. This is one of those books where it might have been smart to make a few notes about who the characters were as you encountered them. There must be at least 15 major and minor characters who play a part in this story and I had to refer back more than a few times to earlier in the book to remind myself. I maybe also should have re-read Track of the Cat, but I didn't. I did read her prequel book The Rope in 2017 however.

102RBeffa
Jun 23, 2023, 5:47 pm

I've been reading short stories in a big anthology I am working on, plus a few random books off my shelf. Notably, I pulled out John Cheever and reread "The Swimmer". That story gets me every time.

25. A Superior Death by Nevada Barr, finished June 23, 2023, 3 1/2+ stars



For a murder mystery story that is nearly 30 years old this holds up well. I have a few frustrations with the book, most notable that there are too many characters and too many suspicions of all these people. It took me quite a while to sort the characters out and what they were up to. Otherwise I might have rated this as 4 stars but I can't quite get there. Still, I was very glad to return to this series and I hope to read a couple more by Nevada Barr this year. The author can really grab the reader with suspense and dread when she is at her best.

103RBeffa
Editado: Jun 24, 2023, 12:42 pm

Here is one of the non-novel stories I have been reading

NN. Farewell To The Master novelette by Harry Bates, finished June 23, 2023, 3+ stars

This story originally appeared in the October 1940 issue of Astounding magazine. I read it in a 1000 page anthology titled Adventures in Time and Space which was first published in 1947. That book is heavy to hold and read!

This remarkable story was adapted into one of the classic science fiction films 'The Day The Earth Stood Still'. The written story is quite a bit different. A spaceship doesn't land in Washington DC, it just instantly appears there one day. Eventually the Smithsonian builds an annex extension that completely encloses the spacecraft and hosts tours. There is still a Klaatu, but the robot is an 8 foot green tinged humanoid form named Gnut, not Gort. Gnut is indestructible and he does have those piercing eyes, red in the story. He stands guard at the ship just as he does in the film, but no one sees him move. The bulk of the story is told very differently but there will be a few scenes that are recognizable such as the tanks. At the end of the story a newspaper photographer is talking to Gnut pleading for the robot to tell the master not to judge humanity poorly. The last sentence of the story is "You misunderstand," the mighty robot had said. "I am the master."

104RBeffa
Jun 28, 2023, 2:16 pm

26. Ill Wind Anna Pigeon book 3 by Nevada Barr, finished June 28, 2023, 2 1/2+ stars



What I like best about Nevada Barr's novels is the settings for the stories and the way she vividly describes the environment. This novel is set in Mesa Verde park (where the Anasazi lived until 700 years ago). I feel like I have been given a personal in depth tour of the parks where these mysteries are set. What I don't seem to like is most of the characters who populate the stories. This book was no exception to that.

This is a fairly quick read. My copy was signed by Nevada Barr so i read it very very carefully. It still looks almost new except for some light, inevitable spine creases.

105RBeffa
Jun 30, 2023, 9:56 pm

Half the year is over. This has been one of my most uninspired reading years. Just a couple books I really liked. Maybe I should get back to a steady diet of jigsaw puzzles ...

I'm currently struggling with Jeff VanderMeer's Annihilation. I started reading it because a Netflix show has been made of it which comes out today. I think I am going to have to watch the film to understand the book, which is told in a very odd manner.

106RBeffa
Editado: Jul 4, 2023, 7:16 pm

27. Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer, finished July 4, 2023, 3 stars



I am at a bit of a loss on how to describe this book or even rate it. It took me a while to appreciate it and it should have been a quick read, except that it wasn't. I guess I would call it an end of the world as we know it story. I have not seen the new Netflix film yet. Once I do it might help me understand this story. This is the first part of a 3 book series.

ETA: This book is strange and so strangely written that I did not really enjoy the experience. I will get to the film one day but I have no plans to read further books in the series.

107RBeffa
Jul 8, 2023, 1:57 am

>106 RBeffa: Watched the movie on Netflix. It tells the same strange story in a different way. Many things are different but the essence is there. Did not like it.

108RBeffa
Editado: Jul 13, 2023, 7:23 pm

I'm doing a re-read of a book that I read last year because one of the stories popped up into my head. I realized that I had been a bit brusque and unfair in my evaluation. I hope to finish it up today or night. It is Jim Harrison's The Woman Lit By Fireflies which contains three good sized novellas.

109RBeffa
Jul 15, 2023, 1:06 am

28. The Woman Lit By Fireflies by Jim Harrison, finished July 13, 2023, 3 1/2+ stars



This is a re-read of a book I read last year. There are three good sized novellas within the book. The three stories are "Brown Dog", "Sunset Limited" and "The Woman Lit By Fireflies". Jim Harrison is a very talented writer. Brown Dog still strikes me as an underwhelming story although some readers really like it. The two stories that grab me more now than before are the 2nd and 3rd ones, although Fireflies loses me a bit in places. Still, overall, pretty darn good.

110RBeffa
Editado: Jul 23, 2023, 2:58 pm

29. The Taking of Jemima Boone: Colonial Settlers, Tribal Nations, and the Kidnap That Shaped America by Matthew Pearl, finished July 18, 2023, 3 1/2 stars



I think I am not a big fan of Matthew Pearl's style of writing and presentation. The information in the book is excellent even though I am not enamored with some of the style. I read this non-fiction book because I am very interested in Boone history. The westward expansion of colonists into the Kentucky area bothers me on a basic level. Daniel Boone and many other colonists and politicians wanted a piece of the action. They wanted to get rich by taking the Indians lands and Kentucky was a crucial hunting ground. Boone may have been more honest and fair minded than most settlers but it seems nothing could hold him back from exploring and mapping areas that did not belong to him or any of the colonials. The British royal governors before the revolution took place did not want settlers doing this. They had made an agreement with the Indians to hold back. Unfortunately it seems that part of the War of Independence was because of a desire to keep taking Indian lands.

It felt like I already knew much of the information in this book from reading Robert Morgan's biography and other readings. So I think someone unfamiliar with this would like the book more. Still, there is a lot of really good information in here. There is a long discussed question of whether Daniel Boone was Jemima's father, and it is discussed on page 129 of the hardcover edition. Daniel accepted Jemima as a Boone but more or less acknowledged he was not the physical father. That was probably brother Ned or Squire while Daniel was gone for a year or much longer and in other accounts was thought to be dead.

This author and others shed an interesting and important light on Colonial America, the taking of the Kentucky area from the native tribes, trapping and killing the wild life, and shifting loyalties during the revolutionary war. I've developed a rather sour view of colonial America over the years. I don't celebrate July 4th.

The kidnap that shaped America? I guess so, but the title rather exaggerates things, and the book is much more than a kidnap. "The Last of the Mohicans" popularized a fictional sensationalized version of the event.

111laytonwoman3rd
Jul 19, 2023, 8:03 am

I've tried reading Matthew Pearl, and I know what you mean about his style. Too bad, because this is a story I'd like to explore. We have a couple of locally famous "kidnapped by Indians" stories, and none of them are particularly well written about.

112RBeffa
Jul 19, 2023, 11:34 am

>111 laytonwoman3rd: I don't think narrative non-fiction is the easiest thing to do well. The two Candice Millard books I've read show me that it can be done very well, however.

I can't even put my finger on what bothers me about Pearl's writing. But it does. I wouldn't skip this book however if you are interested in the topic. There is a competing book on the subject that also came out last year. I'm sure it has faults of its own but I will probably seek it out at some point Blood and Treasure: Daniel Boone and the Fight for America's First Frontier

I should have noted that Jemima never spoke badly about her captors, although she told and retold her story throughout her life. Her official telling of her story in detail was lost when the boat carrying her manuscript sank.

113RBeffa
Jul 23, 2023, 5:56 pm

Sloopy should have been a cowboy's cat
with prairies to run
not linoleum
and real-live catnip mice.
No one to depend on but herself.
I never told her
but in my mind
I was a midnight cowboy even then.
Riding my imaginary horse
down Forty-second Street,
going off with strangers
to live an hour-long cowboy's life,
but always coming home to Sloopy,
who loved me best.
-Rod McKuen

114RBeffa
Jul 26, 2023, 10:24 am

30. Worlds of If Science Fiction August 1974 various authors, edited by Jim Baen, finished July 25, 2023, 2 stars



An artifact of another time that suffers primarily from second rate stories that are utterly forgettable. It caught my eye because it had a story by Raccoona Sheldon in it. If you know who she is it might catch your eye also. The best story in here was by Bob Shaw. The novelette by Fritz Lieber was dated but entertaining and set in San Francisco.

115RBeffa
Editado: Ago 24, 2023, 5:29 pm

31. The Daydreamer by Ian McEwan, finished July 28, 2023, 3 1/2+ - 4 stars



In January I planned to read many more children's books for the American Author challenge. I still have the short stack of extras sitting on a shelf. Here is one of them.

I imagine most people would be surprised that the author of Lessons, Atonement and many more wrote a children's book years ago, but Ian McEwan did. It is called The Daydreamer from 1994. It almost feels like a half memoir in disguise where the narrator tells the reader daydream stories. This would be a good read aloud to a child book or else good for 8-10 year old on their own.

It is a set of 7 daydream chapter stories with a first chapter that introduces the reader to ten years old Peter Fortune and his family. Peter is a constant daydreamer. Several of the stories within the story are really excellent and I was very touched by the story of Peter's cat. Some of the stories are really just fun and others are serious. This is a very good book that I enjoyed reading, and I think it is one of my 2 or 3 favorite books of the year so far.

116RBeffa
Editado: Ago 5, 2023, 12:59 am

32. Inconstant Moon by Larry Niven, finished Aug 1, 2023, 3 1/2 - 4 stars

7 good stories including a novella that I was very happy to discover. I read a Sphere Great Britain reprint edition from 1977. The individual stories date to 1965 and 1966 for 5 of them and 1969 and maybe 1973 for 2.

For stories 50 to almost 60 years old, these were very good. I am pretty sure I have read three of them before. The title story is an excellent end of the world as we know it tale that started the collection off well. It was made into an Outer Limits episode which may be why I vaguely remembered it. The majority of these are space or colonizing Mars stories, one of which would be quite at odds with modern social sensibilities.

What especially pleased me was rediscovering a story I read in a 1969 science fiction magazine that really helped a young me get hooked on the genre. The original title in the Galaxy magazine was 'The Organleggers' although it was renamed here and in other republication.

I eventually grew away from reading Larry Niven stories but I enjoyed his earlier novels like Ringworld and Protector and stories like these.

117ronincats
Ago 7, 2023, 9:45 pm

I hope you have been having a great birthday today, Ron! Wishing you all the happiest.

118RBeffa
Ago 7, 2023, 11:49 pm

>117 ronincats: Thank you Roni. We have had several days running just under 100 degrees and it saps your energy. So no big partying! We have been enjoying some nice meal treats however.

119RBeffa
Editado: Ago 16, 2023, 11:38 pm

33. The Moon and Sixpence by W Somerset Maugham, finished August 16, 2023, 2 stars



I did not like this novel. I was bored with the beginning of it (and I remembered after about 50 pages I had tried to read it last year and stopped). Then I found it ugly and repulsive.

It is a fictionalized account of the life of Paul Gauguin.

120RBeffa
Editado: Ago 27, 2023, 8:16 pm

34. Firestorm by Nevada Barr, finished August 24, 2023, 3 1/2+ stars



I think this is the 5th, maybe 6th, Nevada Barr books I have read over the past decade in the Anna Pigeon National Parks series. I continue to have mixed feelings about the author's books. Her settings and descriptions of the environment are excellent, but I never like her characters. It is simple as that I think. I am pretty familiar with Lassen Volcanic National Park, having camped and visited it probably a dozen times since the early 60's and spent time backpacking there as well. Our family even summited Lassen peak. Lots of love for this place. So I should have loved this book instead of liked. The dark nature of the books in this series bother me. There are two returning characters from the prior book, Ill Wind. One is a coworked with ranger Anna Pigeon, the other is developing as a possible romantic interest (though why is beyond my figuring). How this story plays out with these unlikeable characters is a little unbelievable. I'll still give it 3 1/2+ stars, better than average, for the setting and good parts of the story.

There are some great scenes and excitement in this particular novel but my plans to work through this series this year I am putting on pause.

eta: I remembered something I wanted to say about these books. Nevada Barr is just a bit older than I am. She grew up in Northern California not terribly far from Lassen park (40 miles east of the peak). So she was probably very familiar with this park at a young age like me. She also went through school and college in California. When she writes her characters she uses expressions and figures of speech that I very rarely if ever hear anymore. They aren't everywhere, just here and there. I get a little internal smile as I run across them. She never uses something like 'back in the day' although that may not have even existed in 1996 when this was published.

Here is my wife and I at the summit of Mt. Lassen, back when we could make that hike!

121RBeffa
Ago 28, 2023, 11:30 pm

DNF Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey, dnf August 2023, no rating



Leviathan Wakes is the first book in what became a 9 book series, as well as an Amazon TV series called The Expanse that ran for 6 seasons but was cancelled for financial reasons. I gave the book a good try reading a hundredsome pages of this large book and skimming ahead and reading the end. Basically I just didn't like the story enough to invest any more time in it. The author is actually 2 different authors and I could tell a difference as the story changes chapters.

The series is very popular.

Deleted from my catalog

122RBeffa
Ago 31, 2023, 11:10 am

35. Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock, finished August 31, 2023, 3+ stars



Glancing at a few reviews before reading this I could see that this was one of those books that was polarizing - some people love it, many people don't. I had nibbled on this many years ago but never got going. Gave the book away after it sat on my shelf a long time. Always felt a little guilty about not tackling what I thought was a classic of '80s fantasy. It won the World Fantasy award in 1985. I saw a nice copy recently and picked it up. Started reading it and liked the premise, even if everything is more than a little murky. Large bits of this are incomprehensible mixed with stuff one can understand and be drawn into. Maybe one needs to be more knowledgeable of myths beyond Arthur and Robin Hood to have an appreciation for what is going on in the book. I like the idea of this small ancient forest that has survived since the last ice age but all the strange mental myth creation or whatever it is, was just weird.

Read some of the reviews if you are curious. I have a hard time trying to describe this but overall I am glad I read it, but couldn't quite enjoy the strangeness of it all.

123RBeffa
Set 5, 2023, 10:04 pm



Looking at and nibbling on several book series I decided I would finish one. I have begun Hit Me the fifth and final book in Lawrence Block's Keller's Greatest hits series. I read the first four between 2015-2018 and did not intend to wait so long to start this. The series had really ended with book number 4 Hit and Run so it was unexpected that a fifth book would come 5 years later. Block's hit man is a murder for hire guy, but also a serious stamp collector as is the author Lawrence Block. Block has upped the ante on the stamp stuff included here. This 'novel' is a sequence of longish short stories. A couple of the prior books were really good. We will see how this plays out. Wish I had not waited so long to read this.

124RBeffa
Editado: Set 7, 2023, 10:59 pm

36. Hit Me by Lawrence Block, finished Sept 7, 2023, 3 1/2 -4 stars



I made some comments about the Keller hit man series just above. These stories are sort of a comfort read for me. Some are novella length and I think most or all were published in mystery magazines like Ellery Queen, but get assembled together into a novel form. I was comfortable with the series ending with the book Hit and Run, but I think Block wanted a new life for Keller. I was a little iffy on this book at the start but soon fell into my comfort zone and I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would. Block is really showing off his stamp collecting knowledge in here. As someone who collected stamps earlier in life I could appreciate this part of the book probably more than most people, but it is really a very large part of the book and might irritate some readers. It was more than a little over the top but I was OK with it.

I'm glad I read this final Keller book.

eta: I forgot to mention that the short story at the end of the book (almost an epilogue) was a rather sweet way to finish this book (and the series).

125RBeffa
Set 8, 2023, 1:53 pm

inspired by one of Paul Cranswick's recent reads I pulled out a Nevil Shute novel from 1940 that I have not read. Shute is one of my favorite authors. The novel is An Old Captivity. Shute is such a descriptive writer.

126RBeffa
Set 9, 2023, 2:48 pm

37. Legion by Brandon Sanderson, finished Sept 8, 2023, 3 stars



I nibbled on an audiobook version of this novella about a decade ago but I did not get far. I seem to just nibble on Sanderson. He is a hugely popular author in the fantasy realm and he writes these immense books that look appealing but it better hook me hard to commit to a fantasy monster. They don't.

The novella Legion has an interesting idea and an unusual protagonist. And it is quite short. Instead of a time machine someone may have invented a time camera. I read through this and got to the end and I thought - why didn't he finish this? We have part of a story. Well, there were at least 2 books written later but whether they continue where this one drops off I just don't have the interest ...

127PaulCranswick
Set 11, 2023, 7:58 am

>125 RBeffa: I don't have that one, Ron, but I am definitely up for reading more of his work soon.

128RBeffa
Set 11, 2023, 10:07 am

>127 PaulCranswick: Paul, An Old Captivity is an odd one. I'm not sure if I would recommend it, but I am sure some people would like it. I'll probably finish it tomorrow. I'll give some kind of report!

129RBeffa
Set 12, 2023, 1:01 pm

38. An Old Captivity by Nevil Shute, finished Sept 12, 2023, 3 1/2+ stars



Often when I select a book to read I already have some sort of idea what the book is about. But not always. This is one of those not always times. All I knew was that it was about early seaplane aviation and an exploratory trip to Greenland for some archeology, to find a connection to Celtic ruins. I was not expecting the book to turn into some sort of time travel reincarnation dreaming thing. This book was published in 1940 and is set in the late 30's I am guessing, but in a world where WWII was not happening. I dunno why. That alone kept me off balance for quite a bit of reading time. The archeology stuff in here, like all the details of everything, was detailed in typical Shute fashion and I wondered how much of it was true, or at least true enough at the time. Details about things is sort of a Nevil Shute signature.

There is a decent adventure in here, as well as a nice romance that develops. I was slow to warm to the story which got quite good once the expedition finally got going. I felt like I was experiencing some of the vivid scenes. Great descriptive writing of peoples and places. I was not expecting this to turn into a fantasy. I may add a few more thoughts on this later.

One glitch I noted as an attentive reader. A big deal is made early in the book about the bright orange color of the seaplane when it first arrives. The pilot points out that he chose the brightest color possible on purpose so that it would stand out in the event a rescue was needed. Several times much later in the book the seaplane is described as yellow. I'm surprised this was never corrected.

Author Jo Walton, I discovered, has done an outstanding job of discussing the good, and strangeness of this book. Let me refer you:

https://www.tor.com/2012/01/31/a-trip-to-greenland-and-a-dream-of-vikings-nevil-...

130RBeffa
Editado: Set 14, 2023, 8:53 pm

39. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, finished Sept 14, 2023, 4 1/2 stars



I rarely read a big novel in 2 1/2 days but this one I did. It will easily be one of my favorite books of the year. Much of this is set in the Amazon city of Manaus, Brazil which adds an exotic extra character to a novel dealing with complex lives and relationships. An exciting discovery has been made in the rainforest which drives the novel but in some ways is unimportant. The richly detailed characters are what the novel is about. It is also great to have a very satisfying end to a story.

Recommended

Next I may get back to the Nevada Barr series with the book Endangered Species for the September American Author challenge. After a shortish reading break.

Eta I seem to not have made a note of it but earlier this year I tried to read Patchett's celebrated novel The Dutch House. I just did not get very far and gave up. Twice as I recall. Such a different reaction with this older novel, and as a result I will try some others.

131RBeffa
Set 17, 2023, 11:06 am

>130 RBeffa: Patchett's novel was such an immersive read that my brain was still living in the amazon jungle with the story. Instead of starting my next book I set it down and re-read about the last 80 or so pages of State of Wonder. It is a very good finish to the book.

132RBeffa
Set 20, 2023, 4:43 pm

40. Endangered Species by Nevada Barr, finished Sept 20, 2023, 3+ stars



At the start I thought I was really not going to like this. Then it got slightly more interesting, and then the end. Ugh. Really? Well Barr is a very descriptive writer as I've said before but this book under-impressed me. I did like the progression of character stories through these first books and there were some nice surprises here.

Not sure how much longer I'll do this series.

133RBeffa
Set 20, 2023, 4:50 pm

>40 RBeffa: I should have mentioned that this book was chosen for the American Author mystery challenge for September. I have not been following the AAC closely but always glad when I drop in.

The accidental death of a nearly lifelong friend has put me in a funk. It probably colored my reading of Endangered Species, but maybe not. I think I am just not fond of most of the characters that Barr puts in her novels.

I may have a reading pause for a bit here.

134RBeffa
Set 27, 2023, 11:04 pm

41. The Sky-liners by Louis L'Amour, finished Sept 27, 2023, 3 stars

The Sky-liners was a pretty quick read. I'd give it a solid 3 stars, maybe a nudge higher, but there were a few elements that detracted and the end of it all came pretty quick after seeming to be really drawn out. Until the last couple quick pages I thought we'd end with a cliffhanger, but it is more left open for the story to continue if the author chose to at a later date. I liked how the story touched base with other characters from prior novels that I recognized. L'Amour lays the Tennessee/hillspeak/cowboy/whatever vernacular on pretty thick esp at the beginning. Or else I got a little used to it.

This is #12 of 17 in the Sackett series. I've read 6 or 7 of them, but none later than this one.

135RBeffa
Out 1, 2023, 11:12 pm

42. Analog science fiction & fact, Volume XCII, numbers 5&6 (May/June 2022) various authors, edited by Trevor Quachri, finished October 1, 2023, 3 stars



These double digests are quite large. This one has a novella, 4 novelettes and 12 short stories, as well as a couple poems, short & flash fiction, science fact and other articles, plus book reviews.

Slow start with the lead-off novella by Adam-Troy Castro. He is a prolific author who I have not read before and based only on this story, 'Burning the Ladder', I'm not eager for more. Later stories I found more interesting, such as 'Boy in the key of Forsaken' by Eric Del Carlo and the novelette 'Planetfall' by A. C. Koch. I wish Planetfall was fleshed out more as there are missing pieces of this story and an unknown end. A note after the story says "Planetfall" is adapted from a collection of linked stories, Spaceship Days, about a multi-generational mission to settle humanity on a new world. A little internet browsing reveals that this story is one chapter of many. Well, this happens but I felt a little cheated. There is an interview with the author about this interesting story which I also browsed at https://theastoundinganalogcompanion.com/2022/05/25/qa-with-a-c-koch/. As this stands alone I saw potential but the result disappointed.

Other stories I thought noteworthy were 'Bounty 1486', a rather exciting space rescue mission by Wendy Nikel, 'Firebreak' by Alice Towey, and 'Now We're Talking' by Jerry Oltion. The novella 'Beacon' by Sean McMullen was about a starship mission to respond to a Seti beacon. Pretty good but the ending was confusing to me. I know what the words said but the idea they were trying to convey wasn't clear. I did give up on some stories here, but most were interesting in one way or another.

136RBeffa
Out 1, 2023, 11:19 pm

October has arrived and that means it is time for some Ray Bradbury. I intend to re-read Fahrenheit 451 and one other collection I have never read. Maybe 2 of them, all sometime this month.

137PaulCranswick
Out 1, 2023, 11:31 pm

>136 RBeffa: Strangely beautiful and disturbing photo at the same time, Ron!

138RBeffa
Out 2, 2023, 10:45 am

>137 PaulCranswick: The end of September is when the lovely and interesting sunsets start here. This is one in a series I took several years ago that I called "The witches in the wind".

I have started my first Bradbury, one I have been saving A Pleasure to Burn is a special collection of stories that show the fictional path of Ray Bradbury stories that culminated in Fahrenheit 451. The first sentence of F451 is "It was a pleasure to burn". Some of the stories have appeared in other Bradbury collections and a number are quite rare and I am looking forward to this, a little at a time. I read the first story last night before bed.

139drneutron
Out 2, 2023, 8:26 pm

That’s a cool pic! Perfect for October.

140RBeffa
Out 6, 2023, 11:54 am

43. A Pleasure To Burn Fahrenheit 451 Stories by Ray Bradbury, finished October 6, 2023, 4 stars



It seemed a pretty good idea to put together a fictional timeline of stories that led to the creation of Fahrenheit 451. What is missing here is some author or editor's commentary. Several of these stories will be familiar to longtime readers of Ray Bradbury like me, but there are a number I had not read or even heard of before this collection. Some I think were story fragments. What struck me here was that some of Bradbury's themes were used repetitively. I have noticed that in the past - it sort of is what helps create Bradbury's style - but one after another kind of decreases the original impact these stories may have had when you read the same words two, three times or more. “For the love of God, Montresor!” the words of Edgar Allen Poe used repeatedly as an example. It felt like Poe and others were invoked in virtually every story.

Fahrenheit 451 was first published in 1953. It was 1968 or so when I first read it. These first 13 of 16 stories give us an idea of how the novel came about and some of these ideas espoused 70 and more years ago are frighteningly familiar in today's world. Truly, it is rather disconcerting when reading things Bradbury wrote 70some years ago describing the future that what he is describing, some of it, is all around us today.

I really wish there was some editorial framing here. There are some very fine novellas with 'Long After Midnight' and 'The Fireman', also the 5 pages of 'The Smile' will break your heart.

After the first thirteen stories up to 'The Fireman', the novella that was the predecessor to Fahrenheit 451, there are three bonus stories. I had read the third story before in 'The Illustrated Man', but the three loosely connected short stories were different than the rest and very good. They imagine that in a dark future, such as 2155, a machine exists to allow tourists to travel back in time. In the third story a couple escapes into 1938 Mexico to avoid working on the creation of plague viruses and a super hydrogen bomb for a world at war. These were truly a good bonus.

The included material is, adapted from ISFDB:
9 • The Reincarnate • (2005) • short story
25 • Pillar of Fire • (1948) • novelette
63 • The Library • (2006) • short story
67 • Bright Phoenix • (1963) • short story
75 • The Mad Wizards of Mars • (1949) • short story (variant of The Exiles)
89 • Carnival of Madness • The Martian Chronicles • (1950) • short story (variant of Usher II)
105 • Bonfire • (1950) • short story
111 • The Cricket on the Hearth • (2002) • short story
121 • The Pedestrian • (1951) • short story
127 • The Garbage Collector • (1953) • short story
133 • The Smile • (1952) • short story
139 • Long After Midnight • (2006) • novella (not the same as the short story with this title)
203 • The Fireman • (1951) • novella
275 • The Dragon Who Ate His Tail • (2007) • short story
279 • Sometime Before Dawn • (2004) • short story
287 • To the Future • (1965) • short story (variant of The Fox and the Forest 1950)

I will be re-reading my 1967 edition of Fahrenheit 451 shortly. I note in passing that it is one of the most cataloged books on Librarything, coming in at #21.

141RBeffa
Editado: Out 8, 2023, 12:40 pm

44. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, finished October 8, 2023, 4 stars



I am very glad I read the prior book of Bradbury stories A Pleasure to Burn before re-reading Fahrenheit 451. The two long novellas Long After Midnight and The Fireman were similar versions of the core of the novel to be, but the other stories had their place too, whether it was thoughts on things in a future society or realizing that the protagonist in 'The Pedestrian' was the uncle of the family next door to the Fireman Guy Montag's house. The free thinking neighbor girl Clarisse was presented slightly differently in each version but her essence and importance was clear.

Bradbury made some changes to the stories putting together Fahrenheit 451. Name changes, clarifications where I had noticed something wasn't completely clear. There were a few bits that I thought were slightly better in the earlier versions (the hound in the Firehouse comes to mind among others). Each version of the story is very good. This is generally considered a book about censorship, but I don't agree with that. It is more about a society being brainwashed by television and radio advertising and being fed pablum. People can still read but they gave up on knowledge and books. The english professor who had only one or two students show up for class 40 years before and then the school was closed. Burning the books becomes a real oddity when looked at in the context of the book as a whole. War is always coming and then it becomes meaningless that the fireman was burning books. The war burns everything.

The first words of this novel are classic: It was a pleasure to burn. I'm glad to revisit it after more than 50 years.

142RBeffa
Out 9, 2023, 7:52 pm

I keep thinking about the last two books I read and going back and re-reading parts. I think Bradbury made a mistake with the 451 novel. He changed the Firechief named Leahy into one named Beatty. Was he afraid of insulting Irishmen so went with Beatty? Irregardless he changed the nature of the character and made Beatty more combative, a nastier piece of work and gushing forth with endless exposition - and obviously someone with much more book knowledge than anyone as he endlessly spews quotes from everything at Guy Montag. I'm guessing he also wanted the murder of the Firechief to be more justified to the reader. I think either of the endings in the two prior novellas are better and that the novel as a whole, short as it still is, got padded. Perhaps more importantly, the ultimate points that may or may not be made by the story are muddled. Written when it was the book is heavily influenced by two world wars and the start of the atomic age and the cold war. War without end. The dumbing down of America.

143RBeffa
Out 11, 2023, 12:05 am

Spent some time on a book that shall remain nameless. Maybe 130 pgs into a 550+ page monster and it wasn't working. Picked up a library copy of Ann Patchett's Bel Canto. Started reading. I couldn't stop. But I made myself. patience. patience. Very glad I switched.

144RBeffa
Editado: Out 15, 2023, 9:41 pm

45. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, finished October 14, 2023, 4 1/2 stars



Sometimes reading a book you know nothing about works if you feel like you can trust the author. I was aware of Bel Canto long ago when it came out and was popular - I think I even owned the book at one time - but I picked this up from the library solely on the strength of my reaction to State of Wonder. Started reading this and I was instantly hooked.

I'm not going to talk about the book - it will either work for you or not. My daughter worked in Peru for a short while and it was a dangerous time. The unnamed country in the book might be Peru or an analogue to the Japanese embassy crisis that occurred in Lima, Peru in December 1996. Bruce Cockburn had a song ... Lovers in a dangerous time. That's a bit of this.

What I will say... I think this is my favorite book of the year. It isn't perfect and maybe it isn't meant to be. It continually surprised me, pleased me, and it was the rare immersive experience where I felt for a time that I was living inside the book. There is also an epilogue that surprised me and made me smile yet again, being one more unbelievable thing.

Highly recommended.

ETA, the day after finishing ... The book has a powerful and shocking end ... we were forewarned in the last few pages but it hit this reader hard. The book pretty much HAD to have an epilogue to create some kind of closure, but even tho it is a surprise it doesn't help all that much in hindsight.

145RBeffa
Editado: Out 21, 2023, 6:49 pm

A little tough to make this list this year, but here we are so far. I probably won't get much past 50 books this year, although I have half a dozen in progress. Those don't always get finished.

Top Ten Fiction novels or novellas for 2023 roughly in order (excluding re-reads):

1. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
2. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
3. Breakfast at Tiffany's : a short novel and three stories by Truman Capote
4. The Woman Lit By Fireflies three novellas by Jim Harrison
5. An Old Captivity by Nevil Shute
6. Hit Me by Lawrence Block
7.
8.
9.
10.

Honorable mentions:

Favorite Reads that are part of a series, and not listed elsewhere:

1. The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths
2. The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths
3. The Last Remains by Elly Griffiths
4. A Superior Death by Nevada Barr
5. Firestorm by Nevada Barr

Top Non-Fiction for 2023

1. The Taking of Jemima Boone: Colonial Settlers, Tribal Nations, and the Kidnap That Shaped America by Matthew Pearl

Five Favorite anthologies/ short story collections for 2023:

1. A Pleasure To Burn Fahrenheit 451 Stories by Ray Bradbury
2. The Best American Mystery Stories 2018 (The Best American Series) by 20 authors and edited by Otto Penzler and Louise Penny
3. The Chick Bowdrie Short Stories Bundle by Louis L'Amour
4. Nebula Awards 23 various authors, edited by Michael Bishop
5. Inconstant Moon by Larry Niven

Honorable mentions:

Best fiction re-reads in 2023:

1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
2.
3.

Favorite Young Adult or Children's reads in 2023:

1. The Daydreamer by Ian McEwan
2. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
3.

146RBeffa
Editado: Out 18, 2023, 4:26 pm

46. The Book of Dreams edited by Nick Gevers, stories by Robert Silverberg, Kage Baker, Lucius Shepard, Jay Lake and Jeffrey Ford, illustrated by J K Potter, finished October 18, 2023, 1 1/2 - 2 stars



This is a short thematic anthology that I should have liked more than I did. Probably partly my mood after several excellent books my expectations rise. The first story struck me as a dud of sorts - a lot of boring buildup for the result. There are five stories and they got darker after the first one. Mostly this collection was not my cuppa even though I normally like several of the authors. I would call it dark fantasy horror mostly, not what I want to read.

Included:
•The Book of Dreams • cover and interior artwork by J. K. Potter
• The Prisoner • novelette by Robert Silverberg
• Dream Burgers at the Mouth of Hell • novelette by Lucius Shepard
• Testaments • novelette by Jay Lake
• Rex Nemorensis • shortstory by Kage Baker
• 86 Deathdick Road • shortstory by Jeffrey Ford

Not recommended

147RBeffa
Out 18, 2023, 10:03 pm

47. Phases of the Moon: Stories from Six Decades stories by Robert Silverberg, finished October 18, 2023



I have been reading this very large anthology over the course of the year and I did not make any notes on favorite stories so I feel unable to assign a star review. What I can say is that it is a condensed journey through Silverberg's career and the most valuable thing to me was the commentary he included about different eras he was writing in. One of the tidbits was that he stopped writing in 1974 for a period of about 6 years. There was a revolution of sorts in science fiction and fantasy in the late 60's and he jumped into it, and he ended up by 1974, he felt, on the wrong side. He didn't want to write again until he was enticed by OMNI magazine editors around 1980. What I found interesting about this is it coincided with a disinterest of my own in the new literary experimental stuff that was eventually given the boot. I don't recall Silverberg calling it the new wave, but that was the stuff that was momentarily exciting (Dangerous Visions et al), and then it wasn't, for me. When the publishers and writers got back to basics and a new more traditional style thing in the early 80's I found myself slowly interested again. I read very little science fiction from about 74 to 82.

Silverberg gives a discussion for each of the stories as well as eras. This book is almost 20 years old now and Silverberg continues to write infrequently.

148RBeffa
Editado: Out 23, 2023, 8:06 pm

48. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, finished October 23, 2023, 1 1/2 stars and probably should be one



Just before the start of the prior century this short tedious novel showed up. Here I am reading it 125 years later. My time was better spent raking up leaves in between chapters. I have no idea why this would be a classic, horror, or otherwise.

149laytonwoman3rd
Out 23, 2023, 9:45 pm

>148 RBeffa: Its classic status puzzles both me and my husband...he read it first, a few years back, and then gave it to me with a request to read it and tell him what he was missing. I think my response was "you're missing the hours you spent reading it". I believe I called it "revered yet wretched". But I really like your "short tedious novel" description.

150RBeffa
Out 24, 2023, 9:51 am

>149 laytonwoman3rd: wretched is what it is. short, tedious wretched novel. It was about 150 pages that felt like 250. The writing in places is so poor and dense I'd read sentences and paragraphs and pages multiple times. According to the foreword in my copy Henry James writing style fell very much out of style. I would imagine so. Usually I pearl rule books I am not enjoying, but I think this is the worst book I have read in many years.

151RBeffa
Out 25, 2023, 1:34 pm

49. The ocean at the end of the lane by Neil Gaiman, finished October 25, 2023, 3 1/2 stars



I needed an antidote to the Henry James dreck.

Neil Gaiman gives us a modern fairy tale, and I enjoyed the detail in this story quite a bit. It is actually rather creepy scary. I think this had the potential to be a great book but I can only say it was very good.

152RBeffa
Editado: Jan 3, 7:11 pm

50. An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro, finished October 29, 2023, 3 1/2 - 4 stars



An excellent novel, although a little slow in presentation. Historical fiction that brings to life post-war Japan and a time of upheaval and change in society seen and expressed through the eyes of a very unreliable narrator who the reader will not like but will appreciate what is around him. I had a little trouble with some peripheral characters when a name comes back up after many pages. This is reminiscent of Ishiguro's later novel 'Remains of the Day' in that our primary character is either unwilling or trying hard to not remember correctly his past with respect to World War II. Here the main character is actively dissembling through the book and is the "bad" person whereas in Remains we spend the book with the butler who served the "bad" person. This book actually heightened my appreciation for The Remains of the Day. I had a very melancholy feeling the whole time I was reading.

Don't know why I waited so long to read this.

153RBeffa
Editado: Nov 4, 2023, 5:31 pm

Reading a Canadian author for the Novemeber American author challenge

51. The Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles de Lint, illustrated by Charles Vess, finished November 2, 2023, 3 1/2 - 4 stars



Lillian meets the possum witch


This book is described as for young readers. Not too young I would say, maybe tweens. I thoroughly enjoyed it. There are many full color illustrations throughout the 23 chapters. The title is a bit of a misnomer. There are plenty of reviews here for those curious about the story. There is a sequel which I hope to find.

154RBeffa
Editado: Nov 6, 2023, 10:57 pm

Reading a Canadian author for the Novemeber American author challenge. I read Three Day Road by this author 9 years ago and was impressed enough to give it a rare for me 5 star rating. The Orenda sat on my shelf after revelations that the First Nations status claimed by the author was probably untrue.

52. The Orenda by Joseph Boyden, DNF November 5, 2023, unrated



The Orenda is the Huron word for spirit or soul and all creatures as well as things possess it. Joseph Boyden may or may not be a first nations descendant. He may be playing Indian like Buffy St. Marie appears to have done. But he has connections to indigenous peoples even if they aren't blood ones. DNA tests would likely be useful for pretendians but are noticeably absent.

In any event Joseph Boyden had crafted a very impressive first novel and The Orenda, his third novel, had the potential to be equally as good or better. Unfortunately the Huron and especially the Iroquois (the Haudenosaunee) were very violent warring peoples and the graphic descriptions were more than my present state of mind wanted to deal with. The story is primarily of Huron peoples impacted by disease, a Jesuit priest, the coming French at a time maybe 400 years ago.

Readers with a higher toleration for torture, mutilation etc might appreciate this novel more than I could.

Eta I read the majority of this novel but increasingly was repelled by the graphic depictions in the book. It began to really upset me. This story kind of echoed a book and film many years ago, a powerful one called Black Robe. I have also read other books on this period of time around Quebec but never encountered something so vivid as this. My spouse has distant French Canadian and native ancestry and it encourages my interest in this period of time.

155RBeffa
Editado: Nov 13, 2023, 10:11 am

53. Asimov's Science Fiction, January 2000 various authors, edited by Gardner Dozois, finished November 12, 2023, 2 stars



My reading came to a crawl as the year 2000 began. My life and job was very demanding, the internet was still rather new and using a lot of my free time, and my interest in what was coming out in science fiction and fantasy really flagged. The stories I loved in the 80's and most of the 90's became a thing of the past. I would still read a story here and there in science fiction magazines, but not much. I didn't get back into science fiction until I joined Librarything in 2009 and was exposed to lots of readers and recommendations. Still, modern fantasy rarely appeals to me when I read it especially highly praised stuff. I would much rather read and older title or have some of Haruki Murakami's magical realism. I was enjoying modern science fiction for a time but that sort of died about a decade ago.

So I am having a go at some science fiction magazines again and decided to start with January 2000. It has one novella, 3 novelettes and 2 short stories along with the usual book reviews and various columns. A readable but entirely forgettable novelette by Kristine Kathryn Rusch won the Hugo in 2001. I didn't really 'like' any of the stories in here but I thought Stephen Baxter's short story "Behold Now Behemoth" was the one I enjoyed. Some of this stuff, esp the novella, was incomprehensible.

I'm not giving up. I'll be reading more of these in short order and hope something clicks. (I read the following issue, Feb 2000, about a decade ago and liked it fairly well).

156laytonwoman3rd
Nov 13, 2023, 10:35 am

>154 RBeffa: I recently picked up a used copy of The Orenda. I wasn't sure whether I'd try it now or not, but your reaction to it pretty much assures I'll shelve it for "later". We've been streaming 1923, and its realism runs heavily to brutality, so I am already at my limit. I can take it better on the page than on the screen, but still...

157RBeffa
Nov 13, 2023, 1:25 pm

>156 laytonwoman3rd: I have always had a low tolerance for graphic violence in films and books. I can't help feeling that the author or filmmaker is glorifying it in a world that already has too much violence. I generally grant leeway with historical fiction or even non fiction with a film like Saving Private Ryan. They were showing it like it was. A vet I knew at the time of that film who had landed on Omaha beach said the film was the most realistic depiction of what it was like that he had ever read or seen.

A lot of the Orenda is really really good. At some point I could no longer skim over bits because the story won't let you do that. I suppose the author wanted to show how bloodthirsty and brutal the Iroquois really were. I don't regret reading what I did of the book - I regret that the story was what it was and that the author felt the need to depict some scenes in the story as he did. I certainly got a feel for what life was like for the Huron people and how they ultimately got it from every side and mostly perished. So, save your book for later.

158RBeffa
Nov 14, 2023, 9:34 am

Working on the year 2000 magazines again, reading the ones I didn't get to in prior years.

NN. Asimov's Science Fiction, Vol. 24, No. 3 (whole Number 290), March 2000 various authors, edited by Gardner Dozois, finished November 14, 2023, 2 stars



Another disappointing issue from the year 2000, but marginably better than the January issue. Some stories had interesting parts but failed to deliver on the premise or promise, or, for me at least were boring or uninteresting. 5 novelettes, 2 short stories and 2 poems as well as assorted extras and book reviews. 'Moon dogs' by Michael Swanwick was probably the best of the bunch for me. I'm not counting this as a finished book because I abandoned too many of the stories.

I sampled and read stories from the June 2000 issue also. For the most part the stories of this time do not interest me.

159RBeffa
Editado: Nov 16, 2023, 4:01 pm

54. Monument Rock: Stories by Louis L'Amour, finished Nov 16, 2023, 3 stars



These were stories unpublished at the time of L'Amour's death and were part of a group that were put out a decade later by son Beau. There were no duds in this group of six short stories plus a short novel (the title story). I read these stories over a period of time and just finished the title story, which was the one I liked the best, but felt it could have been written better and I thought the same of one of the short stories. Overall this was an enjoyable read.

160RBeffa
Nov 19, 2023, 5:10 pm

55. Asimov's Science Fiction, December 2000 various authors, edited by Gardner Dozois, finished November 19, 2023, 4 stars



Well, this is the way excellent issues of the magazine could be at times. The cover story, "Path of the Dragon" at this point in time is probably an excerpt from the soon to be published novel in the Game of Thrones series Storm of Swords. I was familiar with the series primarily from the television show which gave me the advantage of immediately stepping into the novella from the first words. This story about Daenerys Targaryen and her young dragons where she gives up a dragon to acquire command of the unsullied was very good. However, stepping into this without any foreknowledge might be a less than successful read.

There were some other good stories as well. Mike Resnick wrote a number of alternate histories with Teddy Roosevelt, I've read a few (there were at least 7) starting with the first one "Bully" from a 1991 issue of Asimov's that I re-read in 2009. The story here "Redchapel" was very entertaining where a young Teddy Roosevelt is tasked with finding Jack the Ripper in Whitechapel. Richard Parks presents a well told and touching "ghost" story set in Japan with "The God of Children". Kage Baker has a pleasant timeslip story set on the Northern California coast. 'Balance Due' was an enjoyable story of cryonic preservation and rebirth 400 or so years in the future. I liked the robot helper the man has. The only story I disliked was "I Love Paree".

Here are the contents:
•4 • The Grand Masters • Reflections essay by Robert Silverberg
•8 • Redchapel • novelette by Mike Resnick
•8 • Redchapel • interior artwork by Steve Cavallo
•34 • The God of Children • Eli Mothersbaugh • novelette by Richard Parks
•34 • The God of Children • interior artwork by June Levine
•48 • Merry Christmas from Navarro Lodge, 1928 • shortstory by Kage Baker
•48 • Merry Christmas from Navarro Lodge, 1928 • interior artwork by Janet Aulisio
•60 • I Love Paree • novelette by Cory Doctorow and Michael Skeet
•60 • I Love Paree • interior artwork by Alan Gutierrez
•85 • Iggy Guards Her Secrets • (1998) • poem by Keith Allen Daniels
•86 • Balance Due • essay by M. Shayne Bell
•86 • Balance Due • interior artwork by June Levine
•98 • Path of the Dragon • A Song of Ice and Fire • novella by George R. R. Martin
•98 • Path of the Dragon • interior artwork by Darryl Elliott
•132 • On Books • essay and reviews by Paul Di Filippo

161RBeffa
Nov 21, 2023, 3:09 pm

Reading a Canadian author for the Novemeber American author challenge

56. Jack in the Green by Charles de Lint, illustrated by Charles Vess, finished November 21, 2023, 3 1/2 stars



I wanted to read another of Charles de Lint's stories after enjoying the Tanglewood cats story earlier this month. This short novel is also illustrated by the same artist as before, Charles Vess. Lovely cover but the interior pictures are b&w sketches.

This story is a bittersweet fantasy fairy tale which has a sort of happy ending. Set, I think, in New Mexico it contrasts the haves and have nots, and was more than a little moralistic, but still enjoyable. Not a fairytale for children.

162PaulCranswick
Nov 22, 2023, 7:58 pm

Dear Ron - my pal in books and music,



Happy Thanksgiving from an appreciative non-celebrator.

163RBeffa
Nov 22, 2023, 9:58 pm

>162 PaulCranswick: Thank you Paul.

164RBeffa
Nov 24, 2023, 12:56 pm

57. Asimov's Science Fiction, January 1998 various authors, edited by Gardner Dozois, finished November 24, 2023, 2 1/2 stars



This collection of stories starts off with an impenetrable story about a dive into a black hole. A sub-par issue for this magazine although I enjoyed Silverberg's column about his search for grey whales and there were a couple OK stories. The issue gets an OK because of the intriguing novella "Mother Earth" by Robert Reed. This story as well as other novellas were later assembled into the novel Sister Alice. A far far future on Earth and elsewhere with humans being something besides human.

165RBeffa
Editado: Nov 26, 2023, 2:05 pm

58/59. The Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum, illustrated by Greg Hildebrandt, finished November 25 and 26, 2023, 4 stars







I probably watched the film version of the Wizard of Oz ten or more times over my lifetime. Probably more like 20 times. It was such a TV tradition when I was young. But, unbelievably, I never read the book (or books) even after we got several for our own children. When I was about 9 I wanted to read them. a
A neighbor girl had a collection of them in her bedroom which I thought was so awesome. She had a whole library of books that I admired. We were much too poor for that and I was a little jealous but mostly I was just happy for her.

So I read The Wizard of Oz version from 1904 and enjoyed it a lot. There are differences to the film version and I can appreciate how it was adapted. The flying monkeys are much scarier in the film. Also no ruby slippers. Silver. The book itself is rather dark for a children's book, but so are Grimm's fairy tales which the author indicates in his introduction were in need of updating for modern times. 120 years ago modern times. After reading the novel I thought we must have an illustrated edition by one or both of the Hildebrandt brothers and I rather quickly found our copy of a totally lovely 1988 abridged edition with fine illustrations by Greg Hildebrandt. So I read it again, and it was very fine.

166RBeffa
Editado: Nov 27, 2023, 8:37 pm

60. Pollyanna by Eleanor H Porter, illustrated by Judy Mastrangelo, finished November 26, 2023, 3 stars



Another book I pulled from our children's books - this one includes an introduction from Hayley Mills. This story is enjoyable and the basic message is be glad about things. Sort of a sad part towards the end but overall a happy story.

167RBeffa
Editado: Dez 7, 2023, 10:09 am

61. Asimov's Science Fiction, April 1996 various authors, edited by Gardner Dozois, finished December 6, 2023, 3 stars



This collection of 6 stories appeared to be just another mediocre batch until the novella that takes up half of the digest. Lucius Shepard was a favorite author of mine when I first encountered him in the mid 1980's and I've read numerous stories of his over the years. The novella here, "Human History" is a different sort of dystopia set maybe 700 years into the future, and is told as a story by one of characters. Not a perfect story and rather violent in parts, it nevertheless was clearly the best here and merits the 3 star good rating from me.

168RBeffa
Dez 6, 2023, 11:09 pm

Before the read just above I had started on The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson and then I realized I should save it for Paul Cranswick's War reading in 2024. I was quickly caught up in the book and I look forward to reading it next year.

169PaulCranswick
Dez 6, 2023, 11:56 pm

>168 RBeffa: But you don't need to wait for next August to count it for the challenge, Ron. January is fine too - My only rule with rules is that they are in place to be broken!

170RBeffa
Dez 7, 2023, 10:09 am

>169 PaulCranswick: Well that is good news Paul! I can be flexible. I actually have a large number of WW2 related books on hand, the more I looked the more I found. I'm warming to your challenge.

171RBeffa
Dez 9, 2023, 5:04 pm

62. Age of Aquarius by William Barton, finished December 8, 2023, 4 stars

This May 1996 story was classed as a novelette and came in at 5th place in the 1997 Hugo awards. I considered it more as a novella when I read it. It could be classed either way I think. It is an alternate fiction story that appeared in the May 1996 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction and I am surprised that editor Gardner Dozois did not pick it up for his annual year's best collection.

The story begins with some 12 year old boys at school doing a duck and cover drill in October 1962, the time of the Cuban Missle crisis. In this story however, the Russians launch nukes and we are told that 275 hit North America including those that are dropped from bombers. When the launch began the Strategic Air Command and NATO allies went immediately into the air and when it was over more than 5000 had been dropped across eastern Europe, the soviet union and into China. After eighteen months there were perhaps 600 million people left in the world primarily in 4 countries. Most of the world was demolished and dead.

I am surprised that the story didn't come with trigger warnings. There are graphic depictions of rape, murder, an abused child, eating cats and dogs for food ... realistic in a way although the story as a whole seems un-realistic because after 5 years or so things are beginning to recover and there will be 1968 Presidential elections to replace martial law President Robert McNamara. There are hard winters but nothing like a nuclear winter that I have to believe would occur with most of the planet wiped. So this quick of a recovery is

The story is told from the viewpoint of one of the children and some of his friends in places. It is a very moving tale of survival, with a story full of elements that would bring about a bit of nostalgia for some readers. The dark elements made this a rough read in places but the storytelling was excellent and vivid.

172RBeffa
Dez 14, 2023, 11:29 am

63. Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin, finished December 14, 2023, 4 stars



This story, the first Inspector Rebus novel, was published in 1987. Nearly 37 years ago. I note a number of readers pooh pooh this as weak. I do not read a lot of crime fiction, but I found this to be an excellent novel and I am glad my impulse read paid off. Very descriptive writing, good characterization, complex main character that we begin to know. I will be reading more in this series in the future. The abduction and murder of preteen girls could have been a hot button rejection for me, but this was handled well here.

173RBeffa
Dez 17, 2023, 7:01 pm

NN The Cabinet of Dr. Leng by Douglas J. Preston and Lincoln Child. DNF 12/17/2023

This starts up where Bloodless, which I read in March, ends. I didn't get terribly far and decided this was going to be too dark and I would not enjoy spending time with it. Dropped it back off at the library.

174RBeffa
Dez 18, 2023, 12:26 pm

I have found that after I read a very good book I want more of the same. It is like my expectations are suddenly raised. I managed to solve that problem by pulling an unread Elly Griffiths book off my shelf and read 40some pages before bed last night. This did the trick and made me happy.

175RBeffa
Editado: Dez 22, 2023, 10:32 am

64. The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths, finished December 20, 2023, 4 stars



I was very glad to revisit the Ruth Galloway series even though I had read several in the series earlier this year. Kind of a comfort read. This story ended up with quite a few too many twists for my taste but I really enjoyed revisiting the characters in the series. So this is above the average for these stories. I'm ready to read more Elly Griffiths before year end.

176RBeffa
Dez 24, 2023, 12:23 am

65. The Death of Captain Future by Allen Steele, finished December 23, 2023, 3 stars



I wanted to read this story for a number of years after being on an Allen Steele kick years ago reading his Coyote novels and novellas. This novella is a homage to the stories of Edmund Hamilton circa 1940.It is pure pulp fiction with a few modern touches, but does not pretend to be anything more than that. Good for a few chuckles.

177ronincats
Dez 24, 2023, 1:23 pm

178PaulCranswick
Dez 25, 2023, 7:23 am



Thinking about you during the festive season, Ron

179RBeffa
Dez 26, 2023, 7:18 pm

>177 ronincats: >178 PaulCranswick: Thank you Roni and Paul. Both of you have gotten clever photos there!

66. The Man in Black by Elly Griffiths, finished December 26, 2023, 3 stars

This was a shortish story that follows "The Lantern Men" and may precede "The Night Hawks, and was available online for a time in late 2020 at least. I found it to be a pleasant read. It begins "Ruth loves the bookshop at Jarrolds." The mystery here is six missing cats which daughter Kate helps solve, as does the Man in Black, sort of.

180RBeffa
Jan 1, 12:22 am

I've only read about a dozen pages these last few days of 2023 so this is a wrap. Will be a bit before I get something started for 2024 but I do have several books nibbled on.

My summation for the year. Ann Patchett really perked up this year for me. I will be reading more of her.

Top Ten Fiction novels or novellas for 2023 roughly in order (excluding re-reads):

1. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
2. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
3. Breakfast at Tiffany's : a short novel and three stories, “House of Flowers,” “A Diamond Guitar,” and “A Christmas Memory” by Truman Capote
4. Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin
5. An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro
6. Hit Me by Lawrence Block
7. The ocean at the end of the lane by Neil Gaiman
8. An Old Captivity by Nevil Shute
9. The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths
10. Age of Aquarius by William Barton

Honorable mention:

The Orenda by Joseph Boyden

Favorite Reads that are part of a series, and not listed elsewhere:

1. The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths
2. The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths
3. The Last Remains by Elly Griffiths
4. The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths
5. A Superior Death by Nevada Barr
6. Firestorm by Nevada Barr

Top Non-Fiction for 2023

1. The Taking of Jemima Boone: Colonial Settlers, Tribal Nations, and the Kidnap That Shaped America by Matthew Pearl

Favorite anthologies/ short story collections for 2023:

1. A Pleasure To Burn Fahrenheit 451 Stories by Ray Bradbury
2. The Best American Mystery Stories 2018 (The Best American Series) by 20 authors and edited by Otto Penzler and Louise Penny
3. The Chick Bowdrie Short Stories Bundle by Louis L'Amour
4. Nebula Awards 23 various authors, edited by Michael Bishop
5. Inconstant Moon by Larry Niven
6. Monument Rock by Louis L'Amour

Best fiction re-reads in 2023:

1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
2. The Woman Lit By Fireflies three novellas by Jim Harrison

Favorite Young Adult or Children's reads in 2023:

1. The Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles de Lint
2. The Daydreamer by Ian McEwan
3. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
4. The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
5. Jack in the Green by Charles De Lint

181RBeffa
Jan 5, 8:11 pm

My reading in 2024 will be found on this thread https://www.librarything.com/topic/356789#n8344070