Fourpawz2 reads 75 in 2009
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Thanks for the laugh.
And welcome back. I was hoping you would join the 2009 75 challenge!
I look forward to digging around in your posts and uncovering the lovely bones.
Glad to see you are here too, Linda (kind of knew you would be). So here goes:
No. 1 - The Mysterous Affair at Styles - by Agatha Christie - My book number 1 for the year (and the first one Christie wrote). I mean to read all of her books - hopefully in order - over the next two years. By so doing, I am hoping to cure my aversion to mysteries. This one didn't do it. It was o.k. and kudos to Christie for playing fair (mostly) and laying out everything in plain sight - but I did not love it. Oh well, Rome wasn't built in a day. Speaking of which, I'm moving on to The First Man In Rome which has been sitting on the TBR shelf so long it was growing roots.
BTW - I am glad you are not giving up on Dame Christie just yet. I think the further along you go, the more you will appreciate them. A lot of mystery writers today still own a nod of thanks to her.
Why do you have an aversion to mysteries? Agatha Christie is a good place to start, especially for "puzzle" mysteries because she usually does play fair and her two main detectives. Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple are classic. Reading them in order is also a good way to see how she developed as a writer and to get to know her stock characters better. I own all her books and have read most of them. As with all writers who have written a lot of books, some books are better than others.
But there are also other mystery writers that might appeal to you more. If I knew why you dislike mysteries I might be able to suggest another author or two to sample. And if I couldn't I know someone else would be willing to jump in and suggest some! :-) Mysteries is one of my favorite genres.
Or why not try Unbreathed Memories which surprised me last year by having me laugh, cry, shudder, anticipate etc., along with the character?
Or some of Heyer's mysteries -- I noticed Stasia has them and might be able to steer you to her fav. Her regency mystery The Talisman Ring comes to mind.
And here are few of the best mysteries I've read over the past few years: McDermid's A Place of Execution, Wilhelm's Skeletons and Walter's Ice House.
You can be well rounded, in the literary sense :), without reading ALL of Christie's mysteries!! LOL At 10 you're ahead of most folks. I say quit while you're ahead. (and, 'Please read something you enjoy' :)
ETA those pesky words which were missing!
LOL -- You'd never guess I had a serious opinion about that, would ya?
ETA one more thing. I met Cadfael through the PBS mystery shows. If you see one and like it, then you'd probably like the books as they're extremely faithful to the written versions.
If you want a Golden Age mystery that's a change from Christie I suggest Ngaio Marsh, a Christie contemporary who does more character development in her stories, especially if they are read in order--which is my current long term project.
Another good author (my favorite!)--is Dorothy Sayers who wrote 11 Lord Peter Wimsey novels which lend themselves very well to reading in order for a multitude of reasons--and there aren't so many of them. More importantly, the quality is much higher literately than most of the genre. The first one, Who's Body? is kind of a set up for the series and should be read, but don't judge the series until you've read some others. I especially enjoy these novels because they give a good picture of England during "the long weekend"--the time between WWI & WWII--when so much of that society changed. These are definitely more than "puzzles"--they are novels that contain mysteries. (IMHO)
All in all a good book - even the Arctic setting in such hideously cold weather (3 degrees here this morning) did not keep me from reading it. Four stars.
Note to self: When beginning a book (in this case About Catherine De Medici by Honore de Balzac) and the book's introduction is at best lukewarm in its enthusiasm, that is a sign that you should not go ahead and try to read that book, but instead, quietly replace it upon the shelf where you found it. This book (at least as of page 108) has some truly great descriptions of Paris and the Chateau of Blois, but otherwise it is confusing as to people and not written like any historical novel that I've ever read. Maybe I'll try it again some day. Maybe not.
For many of us who read mysteries part of their charm is that we like to try to figure out 'whodunnit" and hunt for clues. I feel a sense of accomplishment in a good mystery if I can figure out the solution before the final chapter--assuming it was a real "hunt" and not too obvious. A lot of us also like puzzles, conundrums, etc. I read mysteries differently than I read "straight" novels--and I read more mysteries than novels. I can be entertained if it's a good puzzle--it's a huge bonus when there are interesting characters and a well rounded story.
Perhaps you don't like mysteries because you aren't interested in figuring out puzzles when you read--you just like to get on with the story so you are bored by the devices that are used to drop clues--they have to be buried, you know, and that takes verbiage often. If you dislike them so much, you shouldn't feel obligated to read them. You wouldn't waste time on TV shows or movies you didn't like. In the case of mysteries if it isn't entertaining it isn't worth your time. There are many thing we read because "we ought to"--mysteries are fluff. If you are allergic to them, avoid them. imo :-)
Thanks for all your support and suggestions in my quest to become a real mystery reader. Am still dedicated to reading all of Christie, but now I have a number of others to try as well. Suslyn, I think that there is a Cadfael in the attic, but I am hesitant to go up there to get it. I heard something moving around up there the other day and I kind of don't want to shake paws with whatever it might be. Maybe I'll just keep an eye out for one at the book sales.
Four and a half stars
I like most, though not all, LeGuin. I would definitely give The Left Hand of Darkness a try and then The Dispossessed...they're very good. Some people love The Lathe of Heaven; I merely enjoyed it. I enjoyed Rocannon's World and Planet of Exile. However, I read them 35 years ago, so my opinion isn't that current.
Obviously, she has a lot more, but those are some you might try next to see how you like her non-Earthsea stuff.
ETA: I wasn't saying the last three Earthsea books are bad...merely that they weren't as exceptional as the first three, imo.
There is no happy, tied-with-a-nice-pretty-bow, ending to this book. In this Avalon resembles Katherine, the first Seton novel I read. I am thinking, based on these two books, that this could be something Seton liked to do. (Dragonwyck, the other Seton book I’ve read, was not like this, but it was her first and I expect she hadn’t nailed down her style yet when writing it.) She did great research and wove everything together seamlessly. (I was impressed that she read Edward A. Freeman’s The History of the Norman Conquest of England when researching this book. I have it - 5 volumes - and have always meant to read it myself, daunting though it is. I’ve started the first book now and hope to get it all read sometime before I’m dead.) Four stars for this one.
No. 10 - The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie, book no. 2 in my "Make Myself Love (Like) Mysteries" regimen. Not really a mystery in my estimation, but rather it is more of an espionage/spy/mystery type story revolving around a missing WWI treaty and the efforts of Tommy Beresford and Prudence "Tuppence" Cowley to locate the missing girl who knows where it can be found. A very dated work (1922) and I found it not dreadfully interesting. Guess ol' Dame Agatha must have been pretty much of a Tory, having chosen communists, Labor agitators, Germans in general and Sinn Fein as her bad guys. It was kind of Hardy Boys-like in tone as Tommy and Tuppence - the Young Adventurers, Ltd. (as they call their enterprize) - decide to take up sleuthing, an occupation which they have no experience at, as a way to earn a living. On the plus side I got the wind up fairly early about one of the characters being the "bad guy" and I was right! On to number three - as soon as I track it down.
When i first started read Agatha at about age 12 or 13 Tommy & Tuppence were my favorites of her novels. Now they are my least favorites--they are dated and T&T seem awfully foolish so much of the time!
This is number 3 in a series (so far) of murder mysteries. I suspect that I enjoyed both books as much as I did because they are written about a neighboring town and so I am getting an extra added kick out of that aspect. I have yet to read book number 2 as both numbers 1 and 3 were loaned to me by a friend and she's bought them out of order. Am giving this one four stars.
No. 13 - Black Girl/White Girl by Joyce Carol Oates - My first experience with an Oates novel and I'm not sure what I think about this one yet. Will have to mull it over for a bit.
Your reaction to Joyce Carol Oates is typical. I've read a lot of her books, each one different, yet when I'm finished, I have to take time to really think about them.
So - although I did not like the people, the time-period or much of the story, I still think this was a good book, if for no other reason than that I have continued to think about it since I finished it. For that I give it three and a half stars. I don't think that I will be reading Oates again for a while just yet. Maybe when I feel myself getting too happy I might try her again just to keep everything in balance. But for now - not so much.
loved your comments. You hit the nail right on the head re. Oates. You have to love and hate her works!
"I don't think that I will be reading Oates again for a while just yet. Maybe when I feel myself getting too happy I might try her again..."
That's pretty much how I feel about JCO. She's a great writer--but I can only take so much. Great review!
Three stars for this one.
Sheesh! I guess I get a failing grade in creative writing!!!
I though about saying something, but decided not to--but now that you mention it--this was my first thought when I read it:
It's funny how we never expect those unexpected turns! :-D
No. 16 - O Pioneers! by Willa Cather for the Monthly Author Read group. I so wish that I wrote like this.
Oh, read Death Comes for the Archbishop! I loved My Antonia--and I know it is most people's favorite, but DCtfA was really special for me. Maybe because I love the Southwest, where it is set, and am not so familiar with the Midwest. Sometimes I think her settings are as much 'characters' as the people are in her books. The one I'm looking for now is The Professor's House. People seem to be liking that one. However, I own O Pioneers so that will be the next one I read. oops! The Old Beauty is actually next--I'm on vacation and forgot that is sitting on my bed stand at home!
I love Ursula K. LeGuin - I think she's such a strange and varied writer, though of course there are certainly common themes running through her different universes. I would also recommend The Dispossessed - right now I'm trying to get around to reading The Left Hand of Darkness before the library tries to steal it back from me!
Four and half stars
No. 18 - Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin - Eureka! I've found it! The historical mystery of my dreams. I completely loved this book. It's been on my wishlist forever, but I've not bought it because of that whole mystery element. But, now that I'm using the public library I gave it a try. The only down side is that I have to give it back. (Rats!) This one gets bumped up to the top of the wishlist - I want to give it to my friends to read.
Four and a half stars
I hope, Linda, loriep and Trish, that you guys like it - and that I was not waxing overly-enthusiastically about it, but I really think you will enjoy it.
I found a copy of Mistress of the Art of Death on the sale table at Barnes and Noble and bought it this evening. When I checked it out, the cashier picked this one out of the stack of books I bought and went on and on about it. She said it is one of the best books she ever read.
I look forward to reading it soon!
Linda and MM - glad you found the book so quickly and on sale (yay!) My aunt asked me for a book list yesterday for the upcoming b'day and I am tempted to include it on there, but have not made up my mind yet. Am looking forward to what you-all have to say about it.
I do not care awfully much for Captain Hastings - he seems like such a boob. But, on the other hand, his boobishness makes Poirot a little more tolerable. I do like the little guy's obsession with neatness. This one was better than the last Christie one I read and no worse than the first. On to number 4.
Three stars (provisionally)
I have actually laughed out loud at Poirot while reading - especially where he finds himself in a messy situation or in an unclean house and he just can't stand it. It's just so amusing when he gets 'out of sorts'!
Miss Marple used to give me the creeps but now I like her. I think it scared me that she was not what she appeared to be. It's like she pretends to be a fluffy little old lady and underneath she's a keen detective. Maybe that's why I was afraid of clowns when I was a kid - they are not who they appear to be either! :D
"But, as I have made this stupid resolution to read everything in order,..."
LOL I totally understand. I'm the same way; and when I'm reading a series I will finish a book I'm not crazy about just because it's part of the series!
I like Hastings, also. He does seem sometimes to be a foil--making Poirot appear even smarter--but he also has his moments when he is quite engaging. (Ooops! almost said something that could be a "spoiler!") I actually find Ariadne Oliver to be more annoying than Hastings--although, she, too, sometimes adds to the story.
I like Miss Marple and her finding parallels in her "country life" to solve crimes. Are any of us exactly what we seem to be to others? She doesn't pretend--she is a "fluffy little old lady--she just happens to have great powers of observation, an interest in people, the ability to make connections, and a razor sharp mind. In fact, I wouldn't mind being Miss Marple--except I'd want to keep my husband, so I would probably be to distracted to do what she does. :-)
Two 1/2 stars is not a great rating. I have this one on my tbr pile because others here on LT mentioned it. Perhaps I'll read it in the future...way down the line..
And now I have to share - I GOT MY OLD JOB BACK!!!! happydancehappydancehappydancehappydance ad infinitum
I go back tomorrow so my reading pace will slow down and - I DON'T CARE. Yippee!! (Not that I'm hysterically happy or anything.)
Here's hoping that everybody else who has been where I've been gets back to work soon too - say, like tomorrow, at the latest.
I am so happy for you! I'm doing a Gigue in your honor (by Bach, on the piano, I don't want to sprain an ankle!). :-D
...and Mistress of Art and Death is just about to be added to my 'to read this year' list...
But I have to say I do love the sentences they come up with, and Ella is a great character (or idea of a character, since the whole epistolary form kind of distances you from her too much to get a sense of what she's really like).
I liked this book. I thought Graver dealt well with the lack of communication and misunderstanding between Aimee and her mother. I would still like to read something set in the textile mills, though and wonder if there is something of that nature out there somewhere.
Three and half stars for this one.
No. 23 - 1 dead in attic by Chris Rose - One man's experience and an o.k. read for me. I'd be interested in something a little more comprehensive about the subject.
I attended a conference in New Orleans last year and took a bus tour of some of the areas hardest hit by Katrina.
When I returned, I read the following:
I highly recommend the CNN book.
I liked One Dead in Attic precisely for the reason you didn't like it--it was only one person's experiences. Chris Rose was a reporter for the New Orleans Times Picayune, and the book is actually a collection of his columns written contemporaneously. I thought he captured the feel of New Orleans and its people, and it moved me very much. (I lived in New Orleans for 18 years--my former home was under 8 feet of water).
I currently have on my shelf Nine Lives (wrong touchstone), a just released book which traces the lives of 9 New Orleanians from Hurricane Betsey in the 1960's, when the Ninth Ward was also severely flooded, through Katrina. I haven't read it yet, but my husband thought it was very good. It was recommended on LT by Kidzdoc.
Oh goody..another book on Katrina. The images I saw when I visited New Orleans last June are still fresh in my mind. One powerful thing that haunts me from St. Bernard's parish, is a set of concrete steps standing alone while the entire house was plucked down two blocks away.
No. 25 I am Legend by Richard Matheson - I was asked to read this one by the Go Review That Book group. Not sure what I am going to say yet - it is just so different from the movie (as I remember it) that I am finding it difficult to know what I should say.
My copy had a number of other stories in it. Some of them I did not get and some were just only o.k. for me. However, I was totally creeped out by Prey. It must be my extreme aversion to dolls, puppets, marionettes, etc, etc. They used to sell these three foot high, doll-type things at fairs here in my neck of the woods that were displayed back-to - as if they were ashamed of something they'd done (or perhaps they were supposed to be standing in a corner) and I absolutely loathed them. I think people were expected to think that they were cute or precious or something, but not me! Made me shudder with horror every time I saw them.
Three and half stars overall.
I'm simply stopping by to say I hope you have a wonderful birthday tomorrow! May you receive lots of great books!
Dewey The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron, A Mercy by Toni Morrison and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain. I also got a gift certificate from two of my friends that I will be blowing to the four winds next weekend.
No. 26 - The Road to Avalon by Joan Wolf - Another treatment of the King Arthur tale - boy, there are a lot of them out there aren't there? Enjoyed it very much. In this one Mordred's mother was a good person and Guinevere was sort of pitiful. Seems to me that the character of these two women seems to vary from one telling of the story to the next and that it governs the tack that the tale will take. I think this book is part of a series so I was surprised when Arthur died - thought it would happen in another book.
3 and a half stars
It is the multidinous characters who make this story - quite a smorgasbord of backwoods types who tell the story of Watson in chapter form. I found that the book read very well, though some might find it a wee bit bloody. O.K. - very bloody and sometimes gruesome. However, it was, I thought, well written and it held my interest even though I knew Mr. W's fate before I opened the book. Four stars for this one.
Nice review of Killing Mr. Watson. I bought this book many years ago when we lived in Savannah. I never got around to reading it, but I'm pretty sure it made the trip across country. I will have to dig it out and put it on the "to read soon" list. If I'm not mistaken it is one of a 3 book series, but I can't remember the other titles or where this one would fit in the series. I would suspect 1st since this in the one I have.
No. 28 - Our Mother's House by Julian Gloag concerns what happens to a family of seven young children when their mother dies. Published in 1963 and read by me when I was a child, I found it unsettling back then. Clearly it was another of those inappropriate reads for a child that I was reading at the time.
Mother dies at home with only her children (ranging between ages 12 and 4) in attendance. Violet Hook does not believe in doctors and goes through her final illness with just her children taking care of her. Raised as they have been, the children, who are pretty self-sufficient, and socially isolated from the rest of the world do not tell anyone that Mother is dead. They bury her in the back garden instead. They erect a shoddy little shed over the grave that they call the Tabernacle, furnishing it with furniture from Mother's room in the large Victorian house they live in and there they visit Mother daily - a ritual they call "Mothertime".
Surprisingly they are able to successfully conceal the true state of affairs in the family from the outside world for nearly a year, firing the cleaning lady, Mrs. Stork and forging Mother's signature on her monthly annuity checks that keep the family going. Their success at going it alone is far from perfect however as the stresses of what they are doing eat away at the family fabric and something truly awful happens to Gerty, the youngest girl. Once Charlie Hook, their erstwhile father, shows up six months or so after Mother's death it is plain that although Charlie is a willing participant in concealing what's happened on Ipswich Terrace, it will not be long before everything falls completely apart.
It's been many, many years since I last read this book (the original copy was lost in The Great Basement Flood) but it made enough of an impression on me so many years ago that I wanted to try it once more. It is still creepy and unsettling. And I will probably read it again someday in the future.
Three and a half stars
Of course she was right about about Doctorow's playing fast and loose with history. And she's right about it being unforgiveable. The bit about Beauregard, I suppose could be put down to gross carelessness, but the asassination attempt that never happened was hideously wrong. But all the same -I still liked the story. Weak of me, I know.
One of the things that I really enjoyed about this little book was the way that McPhee hardly mentioned himself or his family, concentrating instead on the people of the island - esp. a fellow known as Donald Gibbie. I felt at the end of the book that I had a real sense of the island and its people. In fact I enjoyed it so much that when I finished this on Sunday morning, I found myself on the island website mooning over properties for sale there that I never will be able to afford.
Enjoyable read that gets four stars from me. I just wish that I could know what happened to the people McPhee wrote about.
Anyway I believe I will be adding this one to the wish list as I love to read stuff about Scotland and its isles.
No. 31 - A Price For Everything by Mary Sheepshanks - a Rosamund Pilcher-esque story about a slightly aristocratic, youngish couple with a deteriorating marriage and a wonderful old, crumbling house in Yorkshire. She paints while he runs the estate. Sonia is in love with the house which she intends to hold onto at all costs while Archie wants to sell their money pit and move into another far less appealing house on the estate. There are clever children, Archie's half sister who is running wild, his mother, Lady Rosamund who is involved with some very sleazy, pseudo-religious characters, a mistress for Archie, a lover for Sonia and sundry other English country types - just the sorts of people Pilcher would have in one of her books.
Sheepshanks (I love this name - the author's photo is only a headshot so I was not able to get a look at her legs in order to determine if they looked particularly sheep-like) does a not too-awful job for most of the book, but it is not really a great story. It stays just entertaining enough until about four-fifths of the way through it when Sonia falls into her lover's arms and then it kind of goes clunk.
ETA: Has anyone read the Mackenzie books? Are they as good as the show?
No. 33 - Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched The World by Vicki Myron - This was a birthday present from my aunt, who was quite insistent about getting this for me. (I think she wants to read it herself.) It was a very quick read for me and when I got to the end of it and Dewey's life it was very sad. I confess - there was blubbering going on. I enjoyed the bits about small-town Iowa, too. Have always been interested in the state, for most of my grandfather's maternal grandfather's family moved there after the Civil War. Interesting to speculate what my life (in whatever form) might have been like if stubborn old Abram had yielded to their persuasion to make the move too.
Three and a half stars
1) What author do you own the most books by?
2) What book do you own the most copies of?
The Bible, oddly enough
3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
Probably Jamie Fraser from Outlander ,
5) What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books read to children; i.e., Goodnight Moon does not count)?
Probably Gone With the Wind – that puppy’s in tatters, followed pretty closely by Rebecca
6) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
It might have been Black Beauty
7) What is the worst book you've read in the past year?
Without a doubt it was Two Brothers – One North, One South
8) What is the best book you've read in the past year?
No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod
9) If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?
No hesitation here - it would be A Scots Quair
10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?
11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
None, - I am beginning to think that movies should come from original screenplays and that there should be a law against turning books into movies
12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie?
I’m with Staisa on this one – Outlander
13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
Strangely, I just had a dream (Sunday night, it was) where I was Charles Dickens, but I was using the alias of Charles Swinburne. I was in trouble – enough trouble that I had to flee in my red automobile, but I got a flat tire and was caught by the police(?) or some such. How strange that I should have Dickens driving!
14) What is the most lowbrow book you've read as an adult?
If this means what is the worst piece of utter crap I’ve read in recent years, I guess that would have to be something that I think is called Tempting the Beast. Oh, my word it was awful!
15) What is the most difficult book you've ever read?
There have been a bunch I’ve started and failed to get anywhere with, but the most recent, difficult, book for me that I finished (finally) was Bleak House
16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you've seen?
In person? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Shakespeare play in person. Seen , probably five or six in movie form, but Shakespeare is just not the kind of thing that gets done in my neck of the woods
17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
18) Roth or Updike?
Have very little experience with Roth, but have read enough Updike to know that I dislike him heartily
19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
Never read either one
20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?
Shakespeare - no contest
21) Austen or Eliot?
As of now I’d rate them about the same
22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
I don’t care for short stories much of any and poetry even less, but am not embarrassed by it – they are just not me.
23) What is your favorite novel?
For right now, I guess it would still be The Winter King
Not really much of a play person – forced to choose I guess it would be Romeo and Juliet
None. Don’t like poetry
Can’t think of one, right now
27) Short story?
Don’t care for them, but there is one Shirley Jackson story that has stuck with me for years that always kind of horrified me. Don’t remember the name of it, but it was about this woman who worked with this literary agent who was bilking his clients – leading them on, promising them the moon, while collecting money from them for his services and never actually doing anything to get them published. The woman and this sleazeball were having an affair that was going nowhere and on some level she knew it. I don’t know what it was about the story – I guess it was just that things were all so hopeless and the woman knew that things were not really going to change for her.. I remember thinking that if I wound up with a lifelike that I would have to jump out of the nearest fifth story window rather than go on.
28) Work of nonfiction?
A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman
29) Who is your favorite writer?
Bernard Cornwell and Thomas Hardy
30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
31) What is your desert island book?
Just one? Couldn’t I take a box – a small one?
32) And... what are you reading right now?
The Woman in White, The Towers of Trebizond and In the Courts of the Crimson Kings
(Hmmmmm. Now what shall I use to win the day? My wit or my devastating beauty? So hard to decide!)
ETA: I think it is ultimately a fruitless exercise - we will never get him away from Claire :)
One thing I just did not get is that this book was written as alternative history science fiction. What, pray tell, is that? At first I could not understand why a book published in 2008 was littered with dates from year 2000. You would think that the story should concern something in the decently distant future. Since SF, by it's very nature, (unless it is classic SF) concerns stuff that hasn't happened yet, why would anyone do alternate history SF? Just don't get that.
Three and a half stars
No. 35 - The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh a re-read from many years ago. Still a clever and quite enjoyable little book.
Three and a half stars
Two stars. Maybe less.
ETA: A familiarity with French is very helpful.
I liked your humorous comments regarding book #36.
Usually I'm adding your books to my tbr pile, but I'll be skipping this one...
Glad to hear, Stasia that you liked Villette so well. I don't have much French, but I will try to muddle through.
Three and a half stars
No. 38 - The Perfectionist: Life and Death in Haute Cuisine by Rudolph Chelminski - is the true story of three star Michelin Chef, Bernard Loiseau who, suffering from the extreme stress of maintaining his three stars coupled with his bi-polar disease, blew out his brains in 2003. I learned a lot about the subject of French haute cuisine and the way it is viewed in France - more like a competitive sport rather than just mere cooking. I also learned that, should I ever find myself in France, I ought not to order anything in a one, two or three star restaurant. I'm sure that I am just a complete dud - gastronomically speaking and that undoubtedly the food that qualifies as haute cuisine is the very finest - but I know I could not face all those organ meats or the seafood. *shudder*
As for poor Loiseau, he was a man who lived for his restaurant (the Cote d'Or in Burgundy) and for his quest to take it to the very top, but with his affliction it could easily be said that his passion for his restaurant killed him.
This was a very interesting book written in a clear and informative fashion. If you've ever wanted to learn about the world of haute cusine, I think this is the book to read.
No. 39 - Boston by Henry Cabot Lodge - Not much to say about this one. It's a history of Boston written in 1891.
Two and a half stars
I know exactly how you feel, Charlotte!
No. 40 - A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore. Am rating this one at four stars. I was thinking of going lower because of its dark and dreary atmosphere, but the more I thought about it the more I could not stop thinking about the book. Decided all that darkness and the depressing story (incest, death, abandonment, insanity) was part of its charm. Upon reflection now, I have to say that I rather liked it.
415 (big print) pages
Lorie, your first comment made me snort. In future, please don't do that when I'm drinking hot chocolate. Thank you.
One of the most special things about LT is the diversity of books we read and the encouragement we provide to each other.
I like the 75 challenge group very much, for many reasons, but primarily because we are kind and sensitive to each other.
And, by the way, my tbr pile is filled with your recommendations.
Glad to hear, Linda, that you have so many of my recs on your list. Hope they satisfy.
ETA Must say I'm getting strange images of a feathered four-pawed beast in my mind ...
No. 41 - while returning a book to the library yesterday I spotted A Spoonful of Poison by M.C. Beaton. Read it in one sitting, but did not like it.
Two and a half stars
This book gets four and a half stars from me.
Theseus, in this book, does not kill the Minotaur of mythology, but he is still a heroic figure, slaying a king, winning a war or two, volunteering to become one of the 7 young men who, along with 7 maidens, are sent to Crete in tribute every year in order to jump bulls and die gloriously in the ring for the entertainment of the Cretans. Theseus figures out a way to keep from dying and plots to overthrow the Cretan king. He is also able to tell when earthquakes are about to strike and uses a massive one to make good his escape (along with his fellow bull dancers) from the palace. Then he returns to Athens where he becomes king. Oh yes, there's a girl who he loves and a Queen who tries to kill him and a long-lost father who is all set to poison him until Theseus proves who he really is. Renault certainly knew her stuff. I enjoyed this one almost as much as I did The Persian Boy that I read last year.
Three and a half stars.
No. 44 - The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie - my fourth Christie of the year. I got side-tracked over the last couple of months and so I guess my resolution to read all of her mysteries is going to have to be over 3 years instead of 2. This is the first mystery of hers that I actually liked even though, once again, it reads a little more like a spy novel than it does a mystery. The main character is new - an impoverished, plucky young woman called Anne Beddingfeld who is in search of the true murderer of a mysterious Russian ballerina. Diamonds, treachery and love are involved as well. Much of the story takes place on an ocean liner going to South Africa and then in South Africa itself, as well as Rhodesia. Of course there are many suspects on the ship with her and once the ship docks the same crew pretty much stays together, travelling around Africa whilst the mystery gets more convoluted. At one time or another I had almost every one of them pegged as the true murderer.
Giving this one three stars - would give it three and a quarter, but I can't
Two and a half stars
No. 46 - The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich. Picked this one up at the library on Saturday when I returned The Man in the Brown Suit. I did not mean to take out another book - I had more - way more - than enough books at home waiting to be read (including the two bought at the book store just before I got to the library), but I succumbed anyway. I have no will power when it comes to books. "Gee," I hear you say, "Ya think?"
Anyway, this was a good book. A very good book. I think that I have seen it tagged as a murder mystery here on LT, but for me it isn't a murder mystery at all. Granted, it does start off with a hint o' mayhem and the truly awful slaughter of a farm family and subsequent heinous reaction by certain members of the community is brought up in several spots, but mostly it's about lives of various people (Indian, white and people of mixed blood) over several generations, in and around a fictional, disintegrating town in North Dakota and is narrated by a number of different characters. In particular, I loved the character of Mooshum, but he was just one among many very interesting people Erdrich writes about.
This woman can write. I'm looking forward to reading the other book of hers that I have sitting on my TBR shelves.
Four, maybe four and half stars.
Now, I've got to buy the book....
Three stars for this one.
226 pages plus 57 pages worth of appendices
Maybe it was because I never had any real enthusiasm for it to begin with.
Am enjoying Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell much more and am almost done with it.
Nothing significant to say about it, but that may be that this most revered book (perhaps the most revered book) on LT intimidates me.
This time around tried to concentrate on Mr. and Mrs. Bennet rather than Lizzy and Darcy. I find that's part of the pleasure of re-reading - focusing on some new area that didn't command my attention before.
Three and a half stars
I just looked at your profile and saw that you like Nigel Tranter - so do I! I was delighted to discover a few years ago that one side of my family originated in the Borders area!
Continuing with a Scottish theme, I see that you have Dorothy Dunnett in your library, I'm planning on reading the Lymond Chronicles Bks2-6 towards the end of this year, I just loved The Game of Kings.
Couldn't sleep tonight so decided I would hit a couple of threads I had not read before and here I have been at your home for over 2 hours enjoying being the fly on the wall whilst you and all your friends just book and chat away. Highly entertaining, I must say.
I got all kinds of recommendations from you all and a lot of -- no, don't read thats. It's been great fun!~!
I really enjoy how you throw out tidbits of the books you have read without giving the whole 9 yards away.
I do hope that you get over you mystery phobia. By the end of your thread it sounded as if you were doing much better than at the beginning.
It was very nice to meet you this evening--Yikes!~! morning. (and I have 3 boys coming at 7:00 that I am watching tomorrow)
I had better head for the old 4 poster.
Anyway, it was very nice to sit in. Thank you.
Mr. Darcy better hope that Elizabeth Bennet never gets hold of his diary – or at least not the version depicted in The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy for then his beloved Lizzy would have incontrovertible proof of his utter priggishness and all would be lost forever.
Not that the author has not done a good enough job here in writing about this near-year in Fitzwilliam Darcy’s life- the year in which he meets, spurns and eventually comes to realize his love for everyone’s favorite Regency-era heroine. Clearly Ms. Slater has done a lot of research of the time-period and she makes good use of that research as Darcy goes hither, thither and yon filling his days with fencing, boxing, riding, the theater, a little bit of wenching, socializing with Bingley (naturally) and Byron (although why the great poet was chosen as one of Darcy’s bosom buddies I could not fathom for he seemed a most un-sympathetic and unpleasant character) and minding wee sister Georgiana’s business without let up. I mostly believe all of that bit. However, this incarnation of Darcy seems to have a major stick up his butt and it did not make me like him awfully well. I’d expected that Slater would have shown me Darcy’s true self – the self he keeps under wraps because that is what a long suffering gentleman of his sort does rather than be tiresome about displays of emotion, but instead she gave me this pompous poop whom I just could not like very well.
Oh, yeah – and if I ever hear the word “nuncheon” again, I think I will break something.
Two stars for Darcy
Three stars for the book.
#200 - Glad you enjoyed yourself, Belva. Hope you got some sleep
#199 - Sorry to say I bogged down in the one Dorothy Dunnett book that I've tried. I've been meaning to try again as she has so many fans and I think I must have missed something. Some of my people came from the Borders too - those incorrigible, cattle-stealing Armstrongs in particular. I wonder if yours and mine ever met up ....
#201 - This was the first Lawrence I ever read, flissp. It worked out for me. Hope you like it.
I want to read more Mitford.
Four and a half stars
#204 - I put that puppy on my wishlist.
See, guys - I'm serious about more Mitford.
Primo deserted-island book for me that still merits the five stars I gave it when cataloging this series.
If the word nuncheon gets in your craw then stay away from Georgette Heyer cause she loves to use that word in her regency romances :)
Perfect escapist kind of book.
No. 56 - Before the Knife by Carolyn Slaughter - Read this one in just a few hours. Picked it up at breakfast on Sunday and had it done just after lunch. Very readable memoir about the author's horrific childhood in Africa. I don't mean to say that Africa was horrific. No, instead it was her family - in particular her father (those of you who are squeamish about child-rape should probably stay away from this one), but Mom was no picnic either. It was riveting.
Four and a half stars
No. 57 - A Skeleton in God's Closet by Paul L. Maier was a "what if" book. What if Jesus' body was unearthed in the Holy Land? In this suspense novel, a body is unearthed in the course of an archaeological dig in Israel - a body that seems irrefuteably Christ's. Jonathan Weber, Biblical scholar and Harvard professor, takes part in a dig being conducted by his old professor and mentor and discovers a tomb which appears to contain Jesus' body.
On the plus side there was a lot of attention to how a dig is conducted and the various criteria and tests used in making any determination about what's been found that I though was pretty interesting. Also, the world-wide uproar and reaction over the find seemed quite plausible to me and was, I thought, the most interesting part.
There was a romance between Weber and the old professor's daughter that I did not think was written awfully well - it all sounded way too much like stones dropping into an empty tin bucket and I did not think it added anything to the story. However, my biggest disappointment with the story was Maier's resolution. I wish he had persisted with the discovery being genuine and how such a thing might affect the world, long term, instead of punting the way he did. Then I think he might really have had something there, provided he could have carried it off. I expected it to go the way it did, but I was still disappointed by it.
Four stars for the first 4/5 of the book - idea-wise
Two and half for the last fifth
and zippo for the ro-mance.
Book #55: That one sounds very good, Charlotte, and one I will have to find.
Book #56: Skipping that one.
Book #57: I read that one several years ago and thought the premise much better than the execution.
Four stars for this one
No. 59 - Diary of a Cat by Leigh W. Rutledge - This was given me by a friend who used it to bridge a serious case of reader's fatigue. Written in diary form, it covers most of a year in the life of the housecat in question with his many observations of his neighborhood - a tiny world of eight houses, eleven families and a number of animals. (There is a helpful map showing the houses and other landmarks such as "Ridgeway's Tree".) The diarist's name is not mentioned, but that makes sense. After all, no one writing in their diary has much cause to write down their own name. However, I think his name might be Pandemonium (this name appears a couple of times when he is quoting Mrs. V, the woman in who's home he lives). It was a nice, sweet little book - funny in some places and sad in others. I enjoyed it very much. Too soon to know if it got Jeanne out of her rut.
don't know about the number of pages for this one - there are no page numbers
No. 60 - The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West This is a tiny book - the story of a man who has come home from the front in WWI with complete amnesia concerning everyone and everything since 1901. He does not remember either his wife or their dead child. He does remember his cousin because, of course, he knew her before. He thinks that his old girlfriend, Margaret, is still his current love, but of course she isn't. Her life has moved on as well and not in a particularly good way. Everyone works to get him to remember, but by the end of the book I did not want that to happen.
This is one of those books that makes me keep on thinking about it well after I am done. I'll want to read this one again after I've had a chance to chew it over in my mind some more.
As for the book - it is a comprehensive history of the first ironworks in America dating back to the mid-1600's - the who, what, when and why of the thing, if you will. It was America's first industry and its first giant flop (relatively speaking). I learned a lot about how to make iron, about bog iron, rock ore, charcoal, smelting, the slitting mill and some other stuff that is really over my head. I also learned about the God-awful financial and legal tangle the place got into after only a very few years in operation and how the whole operation fell irretrievably apart.
Ordinarily I do not read books about manufacturing, but this one had some info about Scottish political prisoners (read slaves, although at the time they were rather inaccurately called indentured servants) who worked at the ironworks during the time it "prospered".
I kind of wish my mother had agreed to visit the Olde Ironmonger's - I think I would have found it interesting.
Being pretty much dry as dust this only gets three stars
No. 62 - Friday's Child by Georgette Heyer - Not a Regency reader, but I've seen so much about Ms. Heyer on LT that I decided she and I must get acquainted. I am told that this is not the best of her stuff and that was good to hear, for there were moments when I thought I might drown in cant. Also, the story is so tame and predictable that I could see how it was going to play out very early on. However, I have another Heyer and I will, in due course, give that one a try and see how it is.
Warning: She is not to everyone's taste. I discovered her several years ago when I spent over a year on chemotherapy. I found it difficult to read books and couldn't possibly keep track of a mystery (my preferred genre at that time) and a friend gave me one of Heyer's books. I found it perfect. I loved the period atmosphere and the witty dialogue and the diverse stories. I've never been a fan of "romance novels" but I found these charming and best of all there was no plot I needed to keep track of--when I turned a page it didn't make any difference if I had no clue what went on in the last chapter. The one advantage that had--I ended up getting pretty much all of them and when I reread them in later years they were all just as charming and I couldn't remember them from my first reading so they were also like new! I still love them and consider them "comfort" reading with "class."
Try one of her "A level" ones (ask ronincats to recommend one--she really know them) before you decide about her--but remember, there will be no "deep thoughts" in these. Just fun. :-)
I don't think I have to add anything more - 'tis cruel to beat a dead horse.
Two stars for this one
MusicMom - thank you for siccing me on ronincats. I got the names of some good Heyer books from her and mean to act on them.
again, no page numbers for this book and I don't feel like counting them just now. I guess Mr. R does not like them or something
No. 65 - The Big Sky by A.B. Guthrie, Jr. - Terrific book! Totally loved it. A great fiction companion to A Life Wild and Perilous: Mountain Men and the Paths to the Pacific that I read last year. Will be reading this one again.
Four and a half stars
No. 66 - Death of an Outsider by M.C. Beaton - nice little cozy mystery that I enjoyed just as much as I did not enjoy the only other Beaton mystery that I've read (earlier this year). I had no idea who did and it did not matter to me (I usually stress over figuring out who did and always fail). The enjoyment of this book, for me, was in the minor characters, the location and, of course, in the main character, Hamish MacBeth. Note to self: get more of these to read.
Belva, I really liked A Life Wild and Perilous when I read it last year. It was on my shelf for literally, years. I don't know why I didn't read it before I did. Must have been because of the random way in which I make my book choices. I hardly ever put any thought into it.
No. 67 - Waiting for the Galactic Bus by Parke Godwin I can't describe this book properly. It's a fantasy that addresses that ol' missing link question here on Earth, but it also deals with White Supremacy, whacko fundamentalism, poverty, the choices women are forced into making mate-wise, true love, Hell, Heaven, the Devil, God and cleaning up after yourself when you've made a really big mess plus a few dozen other topics. Judas Iscariot, Jesus, John Wilkes Booth and St. Augustine also appear. I thought this was a funny book and a deep book. I liked it.
When you get around to reading another Georgette Heyer book I'll be interested to know what you think. Do you know which one it will be? I think I have them all, now.
Three stars for this one.
No. 69 - The Oracle Glass by Judith Merkle Riley - Another super Historical Fiction from Ms. Riley, it takes place in France during the reign of Louis XIV and concerns itself with witches, fortune tellers, poison, infidelity, royal politics and the poison scandal that occured at this time. I read about this scandal a little earlier this year in The Sun King and all the facts seem to match up. Lovers of Historical Fiction should really like this one. I did.
Four and a half stars
No. 70 - Short Girls by Bich Minh Nguyen - this Early Reviewer book was enjoyable despite the fact that it isn't the sort of book I usually read. I haven't written my review because it is just too frickin' hot to write anything very coherent on the topic. Will do that later.
Three and a half stars
Am reading The Oracle's Queen by Lynn Flewelling right now and loving it. That girl writes a mean fantasy.
Four and a half stars for this one.
No. 72 - Charming the Highlander by Janet Chapman - I've no excuse for reading this book other than to plead a case of heat prostration. I wanted something that did not have the least likelihood of making me think and this one certainly fit the bill. A mish-mash of time-travelling and modern romance, it was pretty trashy and dumb, but I read it in a day. I love Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, but oh, the dreadful things she has inspired! Won't be reading the next in the series no matter how crappy the weather.
Have you read the Nightrunner series?
No. 74 - Death on the River by John Wilson - is an Early Reviewer book that I received last week. This is my review:
In June of 1864, teen-aged Jake Clay is bashed on the head at Cold Harbor, the one battle U.S. Grant believed he should not have fought, and, knocked out cold, he wakes up as a prisoner of the Confederates. His participation in the American Civil War as a soldier is over, but his time as a prisoner is only beginning. Sent to the infamous Andersonville prison in Georgia, Jake makes a choice to join, however briefly and reluctantly, the Raiders, a collection of thieves who use violence and intimidation to get what they want – money, wood for fires, material for shelter, food, clothing – from their fellow prisoners. Jake’s time with the Raiders is short – the gang is broken up soon after he joins them – but Jake remains allied with Billy Sharp, a canny, ex-Raider who knows how to survive. There is nothing noble about Billy – he is guilty of terrible things that Jake knows about and, Jake suspects, worse things that he does not want to know about. With Billy’s help and Jake’s blind eye, the teenager survives nine months and some days at Andersonville, before being liberated by Union forces at the war’s end.
After his release, Jake is racked by guilt over the things he did at the prison camp. Naturally, there is a positive resolution of this problem of Jake’s – after all you can’t have youngsters falling into the slough of despair for the rest of their lives when their guilt can be wiped out by a good deed. Jake performs said good deed and his guilt drops away like an old scab.
Being a book written for the 12+ reader, this book, naturally, pulls some punches, but it manages to paint a fairly accurate picture of life in Andersonville. I suppose, being a book for this age group, it is understandable that, eventually, it would try to teach an uplifting lesson.
It is hard for me to judge whether someone from the target audience would actually like this book; I was not a huge reader of books for young people when I was a young person, and now that I am older it seems a tad too simple to me. For the most part, I thought that the bits written about Jake’s time in Andersonville were written pretty well and they did hold my interest. However, after Jake’s release, I could see the uplifting lesson coming a mile away and so I was ready for the book to be over.
Oh yeah - another thing about this book - it smells funny. Not quite sure what it smells of. It isn't barf-some or anything, but there is a definite non-new book type odor there.
Three and a half stars for this one
No. 76 - Bunnicula by James Howe - is the story of a vampire bunny written by Harold, the dog who lives with him and involves the efforts of Harold and Chester (the resident cat) to unmask him. I've been hungering to read this one (which is part of a collection) for quite a while and decided, having completed the challenge, to reward myself. I know it is a kid's book (and a pretty young kid's book), but I thought it was really funny. I laughed a whole bunch.
Five stars for this one
I read The Queen's Bastard earlier this year and was.......vaguely interested but not utterly taken by it. If you have no interest in the family then I would advise you to NOT try The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn as I found it exceptionally boring and not even to the standard of this one.
I remember reading Bunnicula as a kid and loving every second of it :)
Is The Queen's Bastard part of a series?
Love the Tudors!~!
It appears, Belva, that it is book 2 of the Elizabeth I series.
Bunnicula is one that I'm adding to my TBR list. I think that my oldest son is about the right age for it.
Several people seem to have read Bunnicula recently - it sounds very entertaining...
Three and a half stars
No. 78 - Swamp Yankees by Joyce Keller Walsh - book no. 2 of The Pittsley Chronicles a series of mysteries set in Freetown, MA. Am still enjoying these in spite of my mystery aversion, but I am certain now that it is because of the local setting.
Four stars for this one (3 and a 1/2 if it were set elsewhere)
To the good - I like the cover art of the series - that's the best thing about these books - and for such large books they are surprisingly light.
On to book number 3 - not because I really want to, but I'm halfway through and the friends are reading them all so I might as well be done with it.
One and half stars
five hundred something pages
Three and half stars
Book No. 81 - The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie - mostly o.k. Don't know how I feel about the "big surprise" at the end. It almost felt a little like cheating - a writing device, from which, I thought Dame Agatha was immune. (Did I word that right?)
And - I'm sorry jasmyn9 - the excrutiatingly awful Book No. 82 - Eclipse by the unmentionable one. The crying!! The angst!! the feeble dialogue!! The unsurprising surprises!! The no-vampire action in a book about vampires!! The urp-some love story!! Bleech!! I. Can. Not. Go. On. No, really - I'm serious this time.
1 and a half stars for this one (still liking the cover art)
629 dreadful pages
Unfortunately, I have to report that I am ... ah... reading (not very closely mind you) the dreaded fourth and equally crapulous Twilight book. I am doing it under duress, but my so-called friends will not accept anything less than my complete and utter surrender on this score. I have invented a method of skim-reading that makes it possible for me to get the gist of this garbage while not actually having to read the wretched thing very closely. I've got 298 more pages of drivel to get through and am hoping that ......
Don't read this next bit if you really expect to read this colossal waste of time. (Not that I think that anyone here would be planning on it. Your friends are probably a lot nicer than mine.) All set now? O.K. - please continue.
.... Baby Renesmee (How you'd like to go through life stuck with that horse's ass of a name?) keeps maturing at a fantastical rate and tears the throats out of all major and minor characters and emerges the sole vampire survivor. I have, however, little hope that this will happen.
That confession made, I am happy to report that I have been reading some good stuff. I have finished Book No. 83 - The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell and I really, really liked it. I am not a science-oriented kind of person (to say the least), but I was wondering, does anyone out there know if time really does slow down when you're near light speed? I read it in this book and the idea interested me. Also, if this is true, why is it so?
Anyway, it was good and it is definitely a keeper.
Am also reading Old Jules by Mari Sandoz as well. I thought that I really liked Willa Cather when I discovered her a few years ago (well, not discovered, but you know what I mean), but I like Sandoz about twice as much. She is an under-appreciated gem of a writer. At least I think so.
Thanks for the laughter. I love your witty sense of humor when describing some of the books you really don't like!
Good luck with the next books. I hope they are as interesting for you as The Sparrow, which by the way was a book that haunted me. I didn't like what I perceived to be graphic violence. I read it as an early review copy years ago when it first came out. Friends loved it. I was spooked by it.
Will you be reading her other books?
As for the violence, I seem to have a pretty high tolerance for that sort of thing, at least in books, that is. Probably goes hand in hand with my ability to listen to truly disgusting stories when eating with no ill effects. Of course, I am usually the one telling the disgusting stories. For some reason my friends and family members are all a bunch of weinies with delicate stomachs who cannot tolerate tales of what seems, to me, to be pretty mild stuff.
And I must confess I really like writing funny stuff about bad books a lot more than I like writing nice stuff about good books. Probably a reflection on my character, or lack thereof.
I love The Sparrow. The sequel is not nearly as good, IMHO.
1/2 star for this one - the cover art doesn't even help this one
Thanks, Stasia. Now all I have to do is see if I can wrap my mind around the whole concept. Oh, by the way, have you read/are you reading An Echo In the Bone yet????
Five stars for this one
Stasia - I'm on page 298 this morning. I assume you have already finished. My favorite little snippet so far is where she describes Hermione as a "a small filthy flower in the wind." I could see that perfectly.
Yes, Rachel, 754 agonizing pages and not one of them, from page 1 on, worth reading. Those friends of mine owe me big!
BTW - Glad to see another Sandoz book worth reading. I will definitely be looking for that one since I loved the first one of hers (also a recommendation of yours) so much.
Five stars for this one, but I'd give it more if I could for sheer enjoyability
Book No. 87 - The Widow's Club by Dorothy Cannell - was looking for something very different from the book just previous and this one, on the surface of things, fit the bill. However, for me I thought it was a bit too silly. Did not love it.
a bare three stars for this one
You have been reading some goodies and some not so goodies and I must say that your little reviews crack me up!~! Have you pretty much always called a duck a duck?
& thank you.
Book No. 89 Howliday Inn by James Howe - Another amusing tale from the Bunnicula series. Not quite as hilarious as Bunnicula but pretty good just the same.
Book No. 90 - Bunnicula Strikes Again by James Howe - Bunnicula wasn't in book no. 89, but he (she?) is back. Definitely a chuckle-some read.
Four and a half stars
Book No. 91 - The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway - I thought this was a good read, but I was not blown away by it. Made me want to read some non-fiction about the seige. I have to confess that I never quite understood that whole situation while it was going on - who the good guys/bad guys were or the issues. Any suggestions, guys?
Three and half stars
Book No. 93 - The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett - I understand that this is considered a children's classic. Of course, I never read it when I was a child - I read very few children's books back then - so I decided to read it now. I found it a little bit saccharine and I think that, as a child, I would have done the same. It was interesting how there was this focus on Mary and Colin's quest to become fatter - how unlike the present times. Must have been the time period - I remember reading my great grandmother's diary (circa 1890) and at fairly frequent intervals she reported getting herself weighed and how fat she was becoming as though it was a good thing. I did enjoy the Tasha Tudor illustrations.
a lukewarm 3 stars for this one.
Book No. 94 - Across The Endless River - by Thad Carhart - This ER book was worse than a really badly written book for me. It was so bland - a really blah story with blah characters and a very blah era. I can hardly believe that it only took me a month and three days to finish it - it seemed like much, much longer.
300- something interminable pages
Book No. 95 - The Road by Cormac McCarthy -
5 well-deserved stars
Two and a half stars
Book No. 98 - The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst - Good
Book No. 99 - Old Christmas by Washington Irving - Interesting
Book No. 100 - Search of the Moon King's Daughter by Linda Holeman - good
Book No. 101 - Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih - Perplexing
Am pressed for time. Will be back later to say more about these books.
I hope you are joining us again in 2010, Charlotte!
Book No. 97 (see #303) as I said, was crap. Sheer and utter crap. Another dreadful piece of Outlander spawn.
Book No. 98 - was quite good - more about grief than about teaching dogs to talk. The abuse of dogs by the nut job characters that Paul Iverson runs across was truly awful. Why do people treat animals so? Not that I think surgical alteration would enable a dog to talk, but in other ways, every day, human beings do such dreadful things to all kinds of animals.
Three and 3/4 to Four stars
Book No. 99 - wanted to read something appropriate to the season and this was a good choice. I hated Washington Irving back in high school when I was forced to read him, but this was a tiny book and interesting. Learned some things I did not know.
Three and half stars
159 pages (plus notes)
Book No. 100 - I think this is supposed to be a YA book. The story of an impoverished, Lancashire girl of the 1830's who is trying to track down her deaf and dumb little brother who's been sold into chimney sweeping slavery by their drug-addicted mother, I thought that it was very entertaining and grim. It never descended into sappiness (sp?) I enjoyed it a lot.
Book No. 101 - The story of a young Sudanese man who returns to his village where Mustafa - a stranger to the village and to the young man - commits the care of his wife and children to the young man and then drowns in the river. Apparently Mustafa once lived in England where he slept with many English women who were all ga-ga over him and he seems to have killed one of them - or several of them - I think. I don't know - it was always a little unclear to me, but part of that may be because I took months to read this very short book. Anyway, after Mustafa dies, many men of the village want to marry the widow, but she does not want to marry anyone, except maybe the guardian of her children. Her father pays no attention to her wishes and marries her off anyway with dreadful results.
I think that I need to tackle this book again, because I am sure that taking so long to get it done was a mistake. There were bits that were quite well-written. I give it a provisional -
Three stars (expect that rating to go up if I read it again.
There is a surprise concerning Esther's parentage that changes her life, a weasely lawyer (isn't there always), a big bump in the road for Felix and more than one disappointment for Harold. I can't say that this was the best thing I've ever read nor yet the worst. I've had it in the house for many years - I think that it came from my grandparents house where I dug it out of the attic junk after Granny died and we were trying to go through everything.
432 pages of teeny-tiny print
This is my review:
I found this “story of the extraordinary friendship between Winifred Wagner and Adolf Hitler” both frustrating and in the end not too bad. Part of my frustration, I know, stems from the fact that I know just about zippo about opera of all types and this book revolves, more than anything around the operas of Richard Wagner. (In fact, there were times when it seemed to be about Wagner, his work and family more than it was about Hitler and Winnie.) Finally, in order to finish the book I had to just accept that there was a good deal of the story that I was not going to ‘get’ and that made it much easier to finish .
Supposedly the book is written by a man whose name is never revealed to be more than N – a particularly annoying choice on Wilson’s part. He is also very cutsey about Hitler, calling him either Wolf (the Wagner family’s pet name for him) or H. I think there is a point where N tells the reader that he is doing this as it is the custom to do so, but I found it irritating
Anyway, N has written this book for his adopted daughter who he believes is the natural child of Winnie Wagner (Richard’s daughter-in-law) and Hitler. N and his wife, Helga, adopted her at the behest of Winnie, rescuing her from the orphanage where Winnie sent her to live (rather a rotten thing for her to do as she had a horrible childhood in an English orphanage). Senta, the daughter has escaped from East Germany and in the waning days of N’s life he feels the need to explain everything to her via the medium of this book – how things were in Germany before the war, Hitler’s involvement with the Wagners, his love for them and for Wagner’s operas, how no one thought turning the country over to the National Socialists would lead to the horrific things that happened and how Winnie used her ‘friendship’ with Hitler to help various people. It is, in the end, more memoir-esque in tone – N’s story about his life among the Wagners in Bayreuth, working for the Festival Theatre and his marriage to Helga, the Communist horn-player, whom he eventually marries and the long slow slide into WWII (which gets pretty short shrift in this book).
I don’t know enough about the various Nazis Wilson writes about, but I was able to discover that in one instance he completely made up stuff; Hitler executes Ernst Rohm after the Night of the Long Knives and that did not happen. It seems quite possible that more of Wilson’s history here has been deliberately messed with, but I do not know enough about the era to pinpoint other instances.
I do know that as for N, the man is a wishy-washy weakling and I cannot like him. His father and brother, ministers both, who oppose what is happening to Germany as best they can, come across in a much better light.
Toward the end, I came to like this book a little better than I liked it at the beginning. I give it a qualified recommendation.
I gave this 3 stars because I could not give it 2.9 stars - the recommendation is very qualified - an opera lover might like it better
I'm going to give the rest of the series a go, however. At least I'll know what the guys are talking about this way...
#317 Fourpawz2, sorry it wasn't for you - over-hyping is a terrible thing :o)
#318 Stasia, they're pretty quick reads - please don't be put off, it's one of my all time favourites!
#319 but clfisha, the first book is almost word for word the radio series? ;)
#320 Hmmm, amwmsw04, I'm with clfisha, if the first one isn't for you, probably the sequels aren't either (and the first 3 are miles better than the last 2...)