Fourpawz2 reads 75 in 2009

Discussão75 Books Challenge for 2009

Aderi ao LibraryThing para poder publicar.

Fourpawz2 reads 75 in 2009

Este tópico está presentemente marcado como "adormecido"—a última mensagem tem mais de 90 dias. Pode acordar o tópico publicando uma resposta.

Editado: Dez 4, 2008, 12:41 pm

Just staking out my spot in the group and then symbolically peeing on it to establish ownership. Will come back later to set out goals - if any.

Dez 5, 2008, 4:55 am

Well, I for one am glad it was just symbolic peeing!

Dez 29, 2008, 7:26 pm

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.

Jan 2, 2009, 3:46 pm

OMG - so many threads to catch up on!!!! I am SO far behind. (And way behind on the 2008 threads as well) This being out of a job crap is using up valuable LT time.

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.

Jan 2, 2009, 9:33 pm

#4: Don't feel bad about books on your TBR shelf growing roots - some of mine have been sitting there so long they have turned back into full grown trees.

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.

Jan 3, 2009, 12:12 pm


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.

Jan 3, 2009, 2:20 pm

I wish I knew too, MusicMom. It would make life more enjoyable for my aunt is a HUGE mystery fan. Very often she wants to talk about some book or other that she's reading and I want to show interest, but then my eyes start glazing over and she quits. I thought that trying historical mysteries might take care of the problem because I am just a big ol' historical fiction fan, but I find I have the same problem there. Even when the book is set in the juciest of historical settings, after a while I just don't care who done it or why. I know I like grisly American murder mysteries not at all and that I have read a few of Agatha's that I had a liking for (The Mirror Crack'd From Side to Side in particular, comes to mind) so that is why I've set this mission for myself. If anyone can cure me surely she can. I hope.

Jan 3, 2009, 2:32 pm

>7 Fourpawz2:: Fourpawz2

Try Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis? Set in ancient Rome (with a side trip to Britain), mystery not as important as the characters.

Jan 3, 2009, 3:00 pm

Thanks for the rec, TadAD. On to the wishlist it goes! (I will get well! I will!)

Jan 4, 2009, 7:26 am

Fourpawz2: I'm working my way through Christie's bibliography in order too! I agree with MusicMom - I've come to love her characters, and her books are easy reads without being easy to guess the ending. I look forward to reading what you think of them as you go along!

Editado: Jan 4, 2009, 12:04 pm

Esta mensagem foi removida pelo seu autor.

Editado: Jan 11, 2009, 10:47 am

No. 2 - The First Man in Rome by Colleen McCullough - Have had this book forever and I think I've not tackled it before because of its great length. While reading it I sort of came to the conclusion that probably one-tenth of the length was caused by the extraordinarily loooong names everyone had and McCullough's choice to (very often) use the whole name. Not complaining, mind you - I understand that it was the correct form for ancient Romans - I just think that it made for probably 45 more pages of text. I thought it quite good and also very illuminating for I know precious little about ancient Rome. I did enjoy it very much. Above and beyond the story itself there is a really great Glossary in which so much about Rome is explained. Giving this one four stars.

Jan 14, 2009, 7:18 am

I'm wondering why you bother with Christie at all if she's not your thing. There are so many wonderful books out there just to enjoy...

Jan 14, 2009, 10:09 am

I guess, Suze, that it's just a stubborn desire to make myself more well-rounded (mentally speaking that is - I'm plenty well-rounded otherwise). So many people on LT love mysteries - I keep thinking that I can force myself to at least like them. As for Christie - well, I have read probably 10 or so of hers and have tolerated them pretty well, so I figure that Dame Agatha would be the best writer to help me in my attempt to get over my condition.

Editado: Jan 14, 2009, 10:28 am

well, ok, but... That just hurts!! How about Ellis Peters' Cadfael series? You like Hist novels and these are delightful (my opinion, of course). Christie can be such a dry stick!

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!

Jan 14, 2009, 10:55 am

Thanks for the recs, Suze. I just ordered A Place of Execution - there goes the last of the Christmas Gift Certificate!

Editado: Jan 14, 2009, 11:12 am

Well in that case, I really hope you like it! :)

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.

Jan 14, 2009, 4:29 pm


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)

Jan 15, 2009, 10:25 am

Thanks MusicMom - I just added it to the giant wishlist.

Jan 16, 2009, 10:41 am

No. 3 - The Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barrett - ia story about an Arctic exploration in the middle of the 19th century that ultimately ends in failure. The story focuses primarily upon Erasmus Wells, a naturalist who goes along on the voyage, headed by his sister's fiance, Zeke. Of course Erasmus wants very much to further his research, but he has also promised his sister that he will look out for Zeke. That promise keeps him from challenging Zeke's wrong-headed decisions throughout much of the voyage. I did not like Zeke. Almost from the beginning I found myself shouting at Erasmus to stop paying attention to Zeke - if he wanted to kill himself, let him, but Erasmus and the rest of the crew should get the heck out of there. And then when the voyage was over, Zeke really and truly became detestable. The awful thing that was done to Annie (the Esquimaux - I love this spelling)! Apalling! I did want Erasmus to get himself a backbone some of the time, but he was mostly well-intentioned.
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.

Jan 16, 2009, 10:48 am

I think I'm going to take your lead and add a few Agatha Christie books to my list as well. Mystery books have never been a favorite of mine, but I've never touched one of her books. I've been hearing a lot of good things about them here and it has turned my curiosity up a bit. I'll read a few and see if maybe she is the one that can change my mind.

Jan 16, 2009, 2:50 pm

Thank you for the review of The Voyage of the Narwahl. It has been on my shelf a while, and I'm going to try to get to it this year. I read Ship Fever a few years back, and enjoyed it very much, even though short stories is not my favorite genre (I feel like I'm just getting into the story when it ends).

Jan 16, 2009, 3:05 pm

Fourpawz2, You're not alone in your aversion to mysteries. I don't like them either (along with detective stories), and lord, how I have tried! I've tried a number of different authors, and very specifically tried "classic" stories, like Christie's The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and just don't enjoy them. (I liked P. D. James the best.) Even stories that are "disguised" mysteries bog me down. I realize I'm missing out on a whole massive, beloved genre, but I don't know what to do about it. I guess just feel relieved there are multiple-thousands less books to add to my TBR. In any case, I've tried to figure it out, and I guess its simply the form of the thing. All these characters get introduced, all of whom might have "done it", and the reader is supposed to puzzle it out. That structure just bores me to tears; I don't care. (Although I do enjoy a puzzle of the jigsaw variety.) I do acknowledge there is probably something wrong with me (I've suspected it a long time now; just further proof), but I am heartened to know I'm no longer alone.

Jan 16, 2009, 4:49 pm

Fourpawz2 and alaskabookworm, I have the same problem with the horror genre. I have tried reading books from 'masters of horror' and just cannot. Maybe each person is missing a gene for a particular genre?

Jan 16, 2009, 5:08 pm

re -- reading mysteries

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 :-)

Jan 16, 2009, 5:18 pm

Whew, finally found ya!! Glad to see your stepping out of your comfort zone by reading mysteries. You may never end up liking them but at least you will know that you gave it a fair shake. Also you may one day discover a particular author whose mysteries may appeal to you(or not).

Editado: Jan 16, 2009, 7:09 pm

#24 alcottacre - I'm also not particularly a fan of mysteries, but i loved dashiell hammett (he of the maltese falcon) when i was growing up... gangsters, hard drinking, blunt prose...

Jan 16, 2009, 9:56 pm

>24 alcottacre:: I also can't really stomach horror, but bizarrely went through an intense Stephen King period in my teens (just about the time I was also reading Virginia Andrews, Danielle Steele and Judith Krantz. Is this the book equivalent of disclosing you have spent time in rehab??). Nothing else though.

Editado: Jan 17, 2009, 5:15 pm

No. 4 - The Believers by Janice Holt Giles - this is an old one (1957) that I last read, oh, probably 20+ years ago. It is the story of Rebecca Cooper of Kentucky in the first decade of the 19th century. She is married to Richard, a super serious guy, who, over the years of their marriage, becomes more and more religious. At last Richard falls under the influence of The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Coming (i.e. The Shakers) and insists that he and Rebecca turn over everything they own to the Shakers and join in with other Believers on the communal farm where everyone lives and works together, keeping to a life of chastity for all. Rebecca is never really on board with this, but goes along with it because Richard is her husband and that is what women of her day do. She never gives up hope, however, that she will one day be able to persuade Richard to go back to their farm and take up their old life. Giles is kind to the Shakers - she gives them credit for being well-intentioned and esentially good people - but recognizes that this was a life that was always doomed to failure - if for no other reason than that their refusal to procreate left them in a position where they had always to take in impoverished people who did not necessarily believe as they did, but rather needed the charity that the Shakers could and would provide to them. She does deal with the few black slaves in a rather Gone with the Wind way - they are just so devoted to their white folks and are depicted as being rather dull - but they are very minor characters and this failing, I feel, can be overlooked. Over all I guess I still like this book.

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.

Jan 21, 2009, 4:10 pm

No. 5 - A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe - I found this very readable, something I was not expecting from a book written 287 years ago. It was not written in a particularly journal-like way and I am not really very sure if it should be categorized as fiction or non-fiction. The writer - H.F. by name - is a fictional character, but the book is written in a non-fiction kind of way and I came away with the impression that everything in it was fact. One odd item - Defoe tells about the great number of "Women and Servants that were turned off from their places" and had to go to work as nurses of plague victims. A goodly number of them died of the plague (to the tune of 30 or 40 thousand) and Defoe believes that it was a good thing that they did or else they would have been, by their poverty, a terrible burden to the City of London. Wouldn't be able to sell that point of view now!

Jan 21, 2009, 5:36 pm

Book number 4 & 5 sound really interesting. I do not know much about the Shakers and did not realize that they did not believe in procreation. You learn something new everyday!

Jan 21, 2009, 5:48 pm

Well, to be absolutely clear, the Shakers did not believe in it for themselves. That's what all the dancing and singing was about - better than a cold shower I guess. As far as I can gather, they were perfectly happy in getting new recruits from amongst the non-Shakers whom they convinced to join them and a lot of those people brought their young children with them. Also, they were often given orphans to take care of and raise as Shakers. I think that a number of the last of the Shakers from the 20th century fell into that category.

Jan 24, 2009, 4:27 pm

No. 6 - Jack Absolute by C.C. Humphreys - historical fiction concerning the career of one Jack Absolute of the Bristish forces in America during the American Revolution. Jack is both a first class soldier and undercover agent for Gen. Burgoyne. He is also, in this book, the model for the character of Jack Absolute in Sheridan's play "The Rivals". (Sheridan makes a minor appearance as one of Jack's friends.) I was only kind of so-so about this book in the beginning, but by the time I was done I'd gotten rather fond of Jack. I especially liked what Humphreys did with Jack's lady love (can't tell you what it is here, lest I spoil it for those who care) as it was not at all what one expects to have done with such women. Truthfully, I liked his The French Executioner which I read last year better, but this was a pleasant read that won't keep me from reading the next in the series.

Jan 25, 2009, 11:17 am

Trish, I finally read Bone By Bone by Carol O'Connell which is Book No. 7. I see what you meant, last year, about this book. It does have a plethora of oddball characters and every one of them has a back story that is decidedly odd. I bet there isn't one single 'normal' person in this little town. Even the Hobbs family's beloved dog is dead and stuffed! I must confess that I really enjoyed all the eccentricity for a very long while, but by the end of the book, that aspect of it, way overshadowed the 'mystery'. I kind of thought the revelation of who exactly killed poor Josh was almost sort of glossed over in favor of resolving what ultimately happened to all the book's weird characters. All in all, I think that I liked it better than you did - probably because of my mystery book affliction - but I intend to pass it on to my aunt who is a giant mystery fan so that I can get her take on it. Giving this puppy 3.5 stars.

Jan 26, 2009, 10:34 am

No. 8 - The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. Le Guin - Well, I got my wish. Last year when I read A Wizard of Earthsea I hoped that I would find out what the story was with the sad old brother and sister couple and the ring of Erreth-Akbe and the answer was in this book. The bulk of the story, once again is dark - very dark - and beautifully written. Ged from AWoE shows up again, but this book is mostly concerned with the story of Arha, the Eaten One, a young priestess and her life that is spent mostly underground in the labyrinth serving The Nameless Ones. TNO never show up - even when the labyrinth is breached by unbelievers - and Arha eventually concludes that they do not exist which is quite depressing for her because she knows now how pointless her life is. This was just as good as the first in the series and now I will be tracking down the next one.
Four and a half stars
146 pages

Jan 26, 2009, 10:44 am

>35 Fourpawz2:: I think the third is also as good. The others, written much later, did not quite measure up, in my opinion.

Jan 27, 2009, 9:25 am

How many others are there, Tad? Also, in your opinion, (since you seem to be more familiar with Ursula than I am) what Le Guin books should I read after I'm done with this group? I really like how she gets a story told in a nice tidy, well-written way that doesn't go on and on and on. I love George R.R. Martin's giant novels and he is the best IMO, but I think that some of the fantasies out there just go on way too long.

Editado: Jan 27, 2009, 9:45 am

>37 Fourpawz2:: There are three more: Tehanu, Tales from Earthsea and The Other Wind. There are also four or five short stories published here and there.

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.

Jan 27, 2009, 10:02 am

Duly noted and many thanks, Tad.

Jan 27, 2009, 12:08 pm

I am happy you liked the book. I nearly died laughing cause when I read your line about the stuffed dog. I had totally forgotten about that. Hey at least you never need to look for the family dog, he is always there and you can pet him till he has no hair cause he can't run away. LOL!! :) You are totally right that the mystery/resolution of the crime was just glossed over and I felt cheated.

Jan 27, 2009, 6:18 pm

>35 Fourpawz2:: The Tombs of Atuan was always my favourite (I could never really get into The Farthest Shore - is that the same as Tehanu, Tad?). Glad you liked it.

Jan 27, 2009, 6:32 pm

No, The Farthest Shore is 3rd, Tehanu is 4th.

I loved the ending of The Farthest Shore. For me, it was the perfect way to bring the story to a close. Of course, a couple decades later, the story suddenly isn't ended!

Jan 28, 2009, 5:20 am

>42 TadAD:: ah! Don't think I can have read Tehanu then. I have three ancient Puffin paperbacks, then a shiny hardback of Tales from Earthsea but not the others.

Jan 29, 2009, 4:24 pm

No. 9 - Avalon by Anya Seton - is a historical fiction novel of the 10th century, taking place in Wales, England, Iceland and Greenland. From the title, I’d expected something about King Arthur, but instead Avalon, in this book, is more of a goal to be striven toward. The main male character, Romun, is a Provencal prince who travels to England to strike up acquaintances with his cousin King Edgar. He waffles back and forth through the whole novel trying to decide what he should do with his future. He has something of a vocation and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dunstan, wants him to join the Benedictine order for which he is well-suited, but Romun is also interested in women – two women to be exact – and he spends years in unhappy pursuit of first one and then the other. The main female character, Merewyn, is a Welsh peasant girl who believes herself to be descended from King Arthur (she isn’t) and is in love with Romun. Romun is faintly attracted to her, but then he falls for Queen Alfrida, the king’s wife. When that ends (very badly) his attention turns back to Merewyn, but he bungles matters and Merewyn leaves him. These two people are dreadfully out of sync throughout the whole story. They never can manage to be free and in love with one another at the same time. The Vikings and an unexpected voyage to the New World don’t make things any easier.
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.
436 pages

Jan 30, 2009, 11:26 am

Thanks for that delightful post -- you got a chuckle out of me and put Seton on my list :)

Fev 2, 2009, 10:27 am

Always happy to provide a chuckle, suze.

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.

Fev 2, 2009, 11:55 pm


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!

Fev 2, 2009, 11:59 pm

I confess that I've never read any of Agatha Christie's books. 2009 will be the year to begin!

Fev 3, 2009, 6:33 am

>45 suslyn: & ff: I could never really get into T&T. I think Miss Marple is my favorite of her series characters.

Fev 3, 2009, 6:35 am

#49: I am the same about T&T, but I love Miss Marple.

Fev 3, 2009, 9:05 am

I agree - Miss Marple's the best. Hope I get to one about her soon.

Fev 3, 2009, 2:58 pm

No. 11 - Bog Men by Joyce Keller Walsh. I read the first book in this series, Juckets, late last year and enjoyed it. In this book, a teen-aged, Cambodian, cranberry bog worker has disappeared and the town vet and his psychologist girlfriend try to get to the bottom of his disappearance. A subplot concerns the attempted seizure of homes and businesses by eminent domain in order to build a hotel/casino/resort complex in the little town.
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.

Editado: Fev 7, 2009, 4:53 pm

No. 12 Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand - No need to summarize this story I'm sure. An inspiring read that while I marveled at the horse's accomplishments and the bravery of the jockeys it also reaffirmed my feelings about virtually all other American athletes and sport. For a number of years I've found it impossible to route for grossly overpaid, excessively lionized athletes. The idea of cheering on some character who is making thousands of dollars a minute strikes me as ludricrous. What possible difference does it make if he is successful or not? In the end he'll certainly have waaaay more money to comfort him than I can ever hope to see in a lifetime. Four and a half stars for this book
399 pages

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.
272 pages

Fev 7, 2009, 7:42 pm


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.

Fev 10, 2009, 10:50 am

O.K., I've thought about Black Girl/White Girl for a few days now. On the down side, I did not like anybody in this book. Genna was so spineless, her father was detestable, likewise her mother and Minette - aaargh! Minette was one of those people who, even though I knew that the things done to her were reprehensible, I could not help thinking that she brought on some of it herself. I'm not talking about the harassment, but she was just so unlikeable, self-involved and superior and she seemed to revel in her annoying qualities that it was easy to see why no one liked her and nobody outside of Genna, wanted to be her friend. I just wanted her to go away. And Genna was even worse. After a while I wanted to slap her. Get over it. Minette is not likeable and you do not have to spend so much time trying to like her or making excuses for her. Sure, having to fraternize with unpleasant people can't be helped some of the time, but beyond trying to make the best of it, time spent trying to convince yourself that you have to make a friend out of someone, when they've done nothing to merit the effort, is time wasted. On the other hand, in Genna's defense, she was raised with a giant helping of liberal left/guilt thinking, forcefed to her by her parents (her father especially), so she was, to some degree, unable to keep herself from acting as she did. It's hard to know yourself - to know what you think and feel - when raised by such people. And I'm not talking about liberal 60's parents only. I was raised by a 60's conservative parent of the same stripe, personality-wise, and it was some time before I was able to think for myself.
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.

Fev 10, 2009, 11:31 am


loved your comments. You hit the nail right on the head re. Oates. You have to love and hate her works!

Fev 10, 2009, 11:12 pm


"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!

Fev 11, 2009, 10:14 am

No. 14 - Peony In Love by Lisa See - Not what I expected it to be. It is historical fiction - my genre of choice - and it started out in predictable fashion - young girl, arranged marriage with unknown young man, descriptions of her pampered, though cloistered life - and then wham! It takes an unexpected turn that I was not expecting. This is not to say that I am in love with this book. All the ghost stuff. And the rituals and the icky "medical" care. And the womens' endless humility and patience. A little tedious after a while. But still it kept me interested until the end. The one part I really could have done without were the descriptions of foot-binding. See does not defend the practice - she just kind of lays it out there because, truthfully, it does belong in anything about upper class Chinese women of this time period, but OMG. It was disgusting and horrific. Whatever could have impelled the first footbinders to think that it was an attractive or a good thing to do? How kindly I now think of my giant, size 8 feet!
Three stars for this one.
273 pages

Fev 11, 2009, 10:17 am

It takes an unexpected turn that I was not expecting.

Sheesh! I guess I get a failing grade in creative writing!!!

Fev 11, 2009, 11:42 am

#59 I must not be a very observant reader because I didn't notice until you pointed it out! Then LOL!

Fev 11, 2009, 3:05 pm


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

Fev 13, 2009, 10:38 am

No. 15 - Dickens by Peter Ackroyd - Began reading this for the Go Review That Book group back toward the end of November, but as I read most of it in '09 I am counting it here. And my review is here:

1,083 pages

No. 16 - O Pioneers! by Willa Cather for the Monthly Author Read group. I so wish that I wrote like this.

180 pages

Fev 13, 2009, 4:18 pm

#62: Charlotte, have you read any of Cather's other works? If not, I highly recommend (well, just about everything she wrote) My Antonia, my favorite of hers, as well as Death Comes for the Archbishop.

Fev 14, 2009, 11:33 am

I did read My Antonia (super good) last year and I still have The Song of the Lark making its way to the top of the pile. I've been wanting to read DCftA for a while - tried pushing for it in the Literature Group without success. Guess I'll have to do it on my own.

Fev 14, 2009, 12:36 pm


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!

Fev 14, 2009, 1:01 pm

I've never read Willa Cather, but I do have My Antonia in the TBR pile. I think I'll bumb it up.

Fev 14, 2009, 1:08 pm

>35 Fourpawz2:, 36, 37, and 38 - I read the first four Earthsea books last year. The Tombs of Atuan was by far my favorite, probably because it was so much smaller and more emotional than the others - I really am a chick, aren't I? ;) I think you will find Tehanu very interesting, Fourpawz. Its not a spoiler to say that its set many many years after the adventures of the first three books & we find Ged and Tenar are very different people in their older years. Apparently it was controversial because people accused LeGuin of "revisionist history" in her universe - her feminist tendencies really come out in this one.

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!

Fev 14, 2009, 2:13 pm

I just borrowed My Antonia from the library after several fervent recommendations from this group....not that I'm going to have time to read it for a while, I suspect.

Fev 16, 2009, 2:26 pm

No. 17 - The King's Commission by Dewey Lambdin - Another first rate book in the Alan Lewrie series. You can keep your Hornblowers and Aubreys. I prefer the irreverent, randy, roguish Lt. Lewrie any day of the week.
Four and half stars
362 pages

Fev 16, 2009, 9:34 pm

#69: Sounds like one I would enjoy, Charlotte (even though I am a Hornblower fan). Thanks for the recommendation!

Fev 17, 2009, 10:05 am

You'll like it, Stasia - I guarantee it.

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
381 pages

Fev 17, 2009, 1:54 pm

#71: Charlotte, there is a sequel did you know? The Serpent's Tale is the title of the sequel and there is a third book in the series coming out in March of this year entitled Grave Goods.

Fev 17, 2009, 2:43 pm

Fourpawz2. Your review is a powerful one. I'm adding your book number 18 to my tbr pile.

Fev 17, 2009, 4:03 pm

I've added Mistress of the Art of Death to my wish list. I love your enthusiastic review Fourpawz.

Fev 18, 2009, 1:03 am

Whoa Four, that was a ringing endorsement of you book #18. I gotta check it out.

Fev 18, 2009, 9:41 am

Thanks for the info, Stasia She heaves another one onto the giant Amazon wishlist. It sways ominously (in a virtual kind of way) - buuuut - phew, we're o.k.
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.

Fev 19, 2009, 7:48 pm

Realized I've been doing a lot of lurking and not much posting... *pops up to say 'hi'*

Fev 19, 2009, 7:51 pm


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!

Fev 19, 2009, 9:43 pm


I got mine on a sale table at Border's and now I think I will make it the next mystery I read. It will be a little while, though--I have to finish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which I got from the library. Art of Death should make a real contrast to that one!

Fev 20, 2009, 10:06 am

Hey suze.!

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.

Fev 21, 2009, 6:05 pm

No. 19 - Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie This Hercule Poirot mystery was published in 1923 and it reads like a really old book - naturally. It very much resembles The Mysterious Affair at Styles in tone. There were a number of likely suspects and a whole bunch of folks gathered at the scene of the crime -all intent upon solving the murder. At the beginning I meant (once again!) to do my best to pay attention and solve the mystery before the end on my own, but there were so many clues and theories offered up that about half way through I realized that there was no hope of my managing the solution myself unless I stared all over again. Being pretty certain that even that would probably not work, I gave up trying to figure things out and kept on reading. By story's end, it seemed to me that almost every character in the book was, at some point or other, a suspect in the murders. Confusing!
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)
224 pages

Fev 21, 2009, 9:19 pm

I think you might like Miss Marple better than Poirot. Have you read any of hers yet?

Fev 22, 2009, 3:34 pm

Yes, MM, I have and you are right - I do prefer her. But, as I have made this stupid resolution to read everything in order, I haven't gotten to Miss M yet. Must go and check on how soon that might be.

Fev 22, 2009, 3:39 pm

... and that would be 7 books into the future - The Murder at the Vicarage.

Fev 22, 2009, 7:44 pm

I love Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson and their unusual friendship - and I see a lot of similarities in Poirot and Hastings. Poirot is really fond of Hastings but he doesn't often admit it, and often insults him. However, Hastings usually ends up saying something completely normal that helps Poirot solve the crime.

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

Fev 22, 2009, 10:16 pm

#83 Fourpawz2

"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!

Fev 22, 2009, 10:29 pm

# 85

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. :-)

Fev 23, 2009, 11:07 am

No. 20 - Green Darkness by Anya Seton - Read this for the Go Review That Book group and my review is here:

I thought the first and last sections were crap. Such a shame.
Part 2 - 3 and half stars
Parts 1 and 3 - one a half stars
626 pages

Fev 23, 2009, 11:35 am


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..

Fev 23, 2009, 3:08 pm

Don't get me wrong, Linda - the middle part is good and I thought it was worth the read, but the rest gets a big, fat MEH.

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.

Fev 23, 2009, 3:51 pm

Congratulations! This is great, good news!

Fev 23, 2009, 4:46 pm


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

Fev 23, 2009, 4:51 pm

Way to go and congrats, Fourpawz!

Fev 23, 2009, 5:35 pm

Congrats, Fourpawz - that is really great news!

Fev 24, 2009, 12:02 am

Thank you guys. Your good wishes (and the musical salute) mean a lot to me.

Fev 24, 2009, 8:49 am

Yes, congrats! And my condolences on the resulting reduction in reading...

Fev 24, 2009, 2:08 pm

How cool is that?! Happy for you :)

Fev 24, 2009, 2:18 pm

Congratulations on your job Fourpawz!!

...and Mistress of Art and Death is just about to be added to my 'to read this year' list...

Fev 25, 2009, 12:34 am

Woo Hoo!!

More money for more books!!

Fev 26, 2009, 1:27 am

My thoughts exactly, Stasia. Though I do intend to reform a little bit and keep on test driving books I am not sure about at the library. Reading fell into the abyss in just the last two days - I think I've read, maybe thirty pages - tops. Probably when I get used to the discipline of having to be someplace again, I will get more read. For the first time in ages I am looking forward to the weekend and the time that I can devote to my vice.

Mar 1, 2009, 2:41 pm

No. 21 - Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn - I won’t review this one as I am probably very late to the ball with my reading of it. This book, IMO, is what libraries were made for. I’ve wanted to read it for a while because so many people here had so much to say about it, but I wasn’t sure that I really wanted to own it. Picked it up at the library yesterday, finished it today and my reaction is a qualified - Meh. It’s clever, but I thought it was mostly silly without being really funny. The most interesting thing was finding out how the author was going to deal with writing around the problem of the banned letters. However, I found the word substitution, which, perforce, required him to come up with some obscure or imaginatively made-up words, held up the process as I kept having to stop reading in order to think what idea it was that he was trying to convey. For me, this book was only somewhat amusing.
Three stars
208 pages

Mar 1, 2009, 7:33 pm

>101 Fourpawz2:: Fourpawz2, I almost don't want to say it out here in public on your thread, but I felt kind of the same.... I found the slightly arcane speech of the Nollopians put me at arm's-length well before things got really messy.

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).

Mar 7, 2009, 3:13 pm

No. 22 - Unravelling by Eliabeth Graver - the story of the life of Aimee Slater, it moves back and forth between Aimee as a woman in her thirties in mid-19th century New Hampshire and her life as a teenager - first on her parents' farm and then in the mill town of Lowell, MA. I was expecting it to focus more on Aimee's life in the textile mills, but instead the story had much more to do with Aimee and her mother and their inability to get along and Aimee's guilt concerning her relationship with her dead brother, Jeremiah. Aimee messes up in a big way once she is on her own in the mill and she and her mother never come to a meeting of the minds when she is forced to return home to New Hampshire. Things are so bad between them that eventually Aimee goes to live in a little shack next to a bog on the very edge of parents' property, remaining there, it seems, permanently. She sees few people - only her one-legged lover, Amos and a little girl called Plumey who has been orphaned in a fire and very nearly lost her ability to speak. The adult Aimee is self-sufficient, making yarn from the fur of her rabbits and constructing brooms and little twig baskets that her lover sells for her in the town. She is virtually solitary and she likes it that way.
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.
294 pages

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.
Three stars
154 pages

Editado: Mar 8, 2009, 7:41 pm

Hi Fourpawz

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.


Mar 8, 2009, 3:39 pm

The Great Deluge by Douglas Brinkley is an excellent and comprehensive book about Katrina, its causes and its aftermath. The author was a Tulane University professor at the time Katrina struck. This is a large book, but it was so engrossing that I read it in 2 or 3 sittings; I couldn't put it down.

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.

Mar 8, 2009, 4:07 pm

Ask and ye shall receive....
Thanks for the recs, guys!

Mar 8, 2009, 7:43 pm


I agree with you. One Dead in Attic was one of the best I read re. Katrina. And, thanks for the information regarding another book to read on this subject. I'll add Nine Lives to my list. Can you please tell me the author?

Mar 9, 2009, 12:42 am

I second the recommendation of The Great Deluge. The book covers all aspects of the hurricane, both before and after it hit.

Mar 9, 2009, 12:44 am

#107: Whisper, the author of Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans is Dan Baum.

Mar 10, 2009, 12:31 am

Thanks Stasia.
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.

Editado: Mar 14, 2009, 3:44 pm

No. 24 - In the Shadow of the Sun King by Golden Keyes Parsons - historical fiction (Christian) concerning the persecution of one particular Huguenot family and Louis XIV. Lent to me by a friend, I am afraid that it was mostly just one giant snore. There is a sequel, but I won't be reading it.
2 stars
360 pages

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.
317 pages

Mar 20, 2009, 11:51 am

I'm simply stopping by to say I hope you have a wonderful birthday tomorrow! May you receive lots of great books!

Editado: Mar 22, 2009, 1:17 pm

Thanks Linda, (and to you too, Stasia)it was very, very nice. The haul was not huge, but the fam is kind of poorish these days. Received the following:
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
422 pages

Mar 27, 2009, 7:22 pm

Sorry I'm late! Happy bday and glad you got some books :)

Mar 29, 2009, 10:59 am

No. 27 - Killing Mister Watson by Peter Matthiessen - concerns what happens to a mysterious fellow named Edward J. Watson, prosperous planter/businessman, and takes place in the Ft. Myers region of Florida at the end of the 19th/beginning of the 20th century. Watson is reputed to have been Belle Starr's killer as well as the trigger man in a number of other killings in Florida, but whether or not he is guilty of these murders or not is not the important part. The part that matters is, instead, what his neighbors think and how they react. By the title alone you can tell that they do not take it well.
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.
372 pages

Mar 30, 2009, 12:23 am

I just put this one on the Continent the other day. Thanks for verifying my choice, Charlotte. It looks pretty good!

Abr 1, 2009, 1:44 am

#115 Fourpawz2

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.

Editado: Abr 4, 2009, 9:22 am

I believe you are right MusicMom, but the names of the other two escape me just now. They are on the wishlist somewhere.

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
295 pages.

Abr 4, 2009, 9:31 am

#117/118: The three books in the trilogy are: Killing Mister Watson, Lost Man's River, and Bone by Bone.

Abr 5, 2009, 8:59 am

No. 29 - The March by E.L. Doctorow - Enjoyed this one ever so much more than I did Ragtime which I read about 6 months ago. Am still annoyed by the no quotation marks thing, but the story overcame that irritation for me. Loved his characters and what he did with them. At the end I am left wondering what happened to everyone in their post-war worlds and wishing that there was a way to know.
Four stars
363 pages

Abr 5, 2009, 10:44 pm

#120: I promised Joyce I would not read that one due to glaring historical inaccuracies which would drive me nuts. Glad you liked it! I will never know, lol.

Abr 5, 2009, 11:02 pm

Missed those comments by Joyce - unfortunately her thread is one of those I've stopped reading because of the sheer size of the thing. Look away for a day or two and the thing grew by 30 or 40 messages.
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.

Abr 6, 2009, 12:18 am

#122: You are a better woman than I, Charlotte. I really cannot read historical fiction if they get the history wrong (one of my pet peeves with Philippa Gregory). I tend to chuck those books at the wall, lol.

Abr 6, 2009, 11:22 am

I'm not really that virtuous, Stasia, but with this one those two items did not appear until well into the book and I was far too hooked by then to not finish the book.

Abr 6, 2009, 11:26 am

Ah, OK. Well, Joyce did not tell me that part. Since I already promised her I would not read it, I guess I won't. It's not like Continent TBR is not already overflowing . . .

Abr 6, 2009, 12:02 pm

Too true. I know that if I ever hear of a house in your part of Texas exploding for no immediately apparent reason I will have to conclude that it is your house and that it finally reached maximum capacity.

Abr 6, 2009, 12:10 pm

#126: Charlotte, I am just going to add rooms on rooms so that I never reach maximum capacity, lol.

Abr 7, 2009, 12:08 am

No. 30 - The Crofter & The Laird by John McPhee - is about the people of Colonsay, an island in the Hebrides. McPhee's family came from this island in the 1800's and he decided in the late 1960's to move there with his family for a time.
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.
159 pages

Abr 7, 2009, 12:11 am

#128: I will give that one a try! Thanks for the mention, although if I start mooning over properties I cannot afford, my hubby will set me to rights very quickly.

Abr 7, 2009, 8:46 pm

This one is going on my list. I love islands (even cold islands). :)

Abr 7, 2009, 8:54 pm

I'm adding it to my list as well. I really liked your description. And, Stasia, I frequently check websites for properties in Northern Maine. I dream a lot. While the cost of the houses there can be affordable, to heat the darn thing would be way too costly.

Abr 7, 2009, 10:58 pm

Oh my gosh, a crofter, a Laird, someone get Archie and Lexie in here. You just made me nostalgic for Monarch of the Glen. Miss that show.

Anyway I believe I will be adding this one to the wish list as I love to read stuff about Scotland and its isles.

Abr 8, 2009, 12:13 am

Hope you guys enjoy it as much as I did and am looking forward to hearing what you think of it.

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.
Three stars
234 pages

Editado: Abr 8, 2009, 8:46 am

>132 TrishNYC:: That was a fun show...they shouldn't have ended it. I had never heard of it and found it while channel surfing one day. It was the episode where Donald gets into trouble over his driving license. I was hooked immediately.

ETA: Has anyone read the Mackenzie books? Are they as good as the show?

Abr 8, 2009, 12:22 pm

I haven't. Thanks for asking - I needed the reminder to check those out.

Abr 12, 2009, 1:37 am

No. 32 - Husbandmen of Plymouth: Farms and Villages in the Old Colony, 1620 - 1692 by Darrett Bruce Rutman a tiny book, but interesting to me as I am always in search of non-fiction about 17th century Massachusetts and, in particular, anything about how the colonists lived.
72 pages
3 stars

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
277 pages

Abr 12, 2009, 5:38 pm

>134 TadAD:: Tad, I think that ran for several seasons in the UK... never watched it myself but it always seemed to be in the TV guides.

Editado: Abr 15, 2009, 1:09 am

Found these questions on Stasia's thread and thought I would give them a whirl.

1) What author do you own the most books by?
Bernard Cornwell

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?
Not really.

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?
No idea.

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

24) Play?
Not really much of a play person – forced to choose I guess it would be Romeo and Juliet

25) Poem?
None. Don’t like poetry

26) Essay?
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?
Stephanie Meyer

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

Abr 15, 2009, 1:09 am

Charlotte, maybe we can fight over Jamie? I am sure my husband would not mind, lol.

Abr 15, 2009, 1:18 am

You're on!
(Hmmmmm. Now what shall I use to win the day? My wit or my devastating beauty? So hard to decide!)

Abr 15, 2009, 1:36 am

#140: I plan on using poison, since I have neither wit or devastating beauty, lol.

Abr 15, 2009, 12:24 pm

Thank goodness I don't lick my index finger when reading as I would never be able to look a gift book in the mouth so I'm safe on that front. And I won't be eating any mysterious baked goods that might arrive in the mail. What else you got?

Editado: Abr 15, 2009, 12:48 pm

Actually I was thinking poison darts launched from Texas. They would never trace them back to me, lol.

ETA: I think it is ultimately a fruitless exercise - we will never get him away from Claire :)

Abr 15, 2009, 1:37 pm

This is true.
Have you placed your order for the next book yet?

Abr 15, 2009, 1:40 pm

I think I placed the order for it the day Amazon announced it was available for preorder!

Abr 16, 2009, 6:54 pm

Sorry to interrupt all this Outlander talk ;-) but re >138 Fourpawz2:, interested in your hearty recommendation for A Scots Quair - read a piece somewhere recently in response to this lunatic idea in the UK that students must study a piece of literature "from their own country", which made a compelling case for reading this book. And our booksellers put it in their Scottish book selection last summer too. Making a note...

Abr 16, 2009, 7:13 pm

>138 Fourpawz2: my answer to question 11 was almost identical to yours ;) Filmmakers SHOULDN'T be allowed to just take their scripts from books! They should come up with their own stuff.

Abr 17, 2009, 12:49 pm

Re: No. 146 - I don't know what it is about the book, Floss, that makes me like it so much. I guess, it just feels very real to me. I read it over a couple of years because I hated to consume it all at once.

Editado: Abr 20, 2009, 1:24 am

No. 34 - In the Courts of the Crimson Kings by S.M. Stirling - science fiction concerning Mars and its inhabitants as well as the Terrans (read Earthlings) who are stationed there. This started off slowly for me - I expect that is because I am not a huge reader of SF - but eventually came around. (The Martian civilization never develops machines in the Earth sense - everything they have that we might make out of metals, plastics or wood, has a biological form - for example a pair of binoculars that is alive and when not clamping itself to the user's upper face, obligingly crawls off into its carrying case, snapping the top shut behind it. Ick!) I did not realize when I put this on my wishlist (and my good friend promptly bought it for my birthday last year) that it was the second in a series. However, in the end I don't think that took away much of anything from this second book as the first concerned Venus about which only a very few references were made in ItCotCK.
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
304 pages

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
164 pages

Abr 22, 2009, 12:45 am

No. 36 - Courtesan by Dora Levy Mossanen was a colossal waste of time. There's a not very inspiring love story and a mystery concerning a murder and some red diamonds (which I don't think even exist in real life, though I could be wrong), some courtesans (natch) and mysterious Persia at the turn of the 20th century. There was also some twiddle about the grandmother courtesan being haunted by the ghosts of various of her old lovers - such as Liszt and Oscar Wilde - and one passage in particular really icked me out, to wit: And now he (Wilde) clambered into her cleavage, going to work on her breasts, flexing them as though he were still alive and training his biceps.
Two stars. Maybe less.
290 pages

Editado: Abr 22, 2009, 4:53 am

Charlotte, you are going to want to move Villette up on your TBR stack. I just finished it and it is excellent - definitely going on my memorable reads list for the year!

ETA: A familiarity with French is very helpful.

Abr 22, 2009, 10:48 am

#150 um Oscar Wilde was gay, what was he doing clambering over a woman not his wife?!

Abr 22, 2009, 1:32 pm


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...

Abr 22, 2009, 11:31 pm

I thought that was a little strange too, flissp. And Wilde was not the only weird choice of lover the author made. One of the ghostly lovers who still carried on conversations and maintained a relationship after death with the grandmother was a castrato about whom the author says - "When still alive and at the height of his fame, the castrato had sought her celebrated hands which were reputed to bring any creature to orgasm with their supple acrobatics and without help from the rest of her able self." Huh? A castrato? I don't get it.

Glad to hear, Stasia that you liked Villette so well. I don't have much French, but I will try to muddle through.

Abr 23, 2009, 7:14 am

#154 oh dear Fourpawz2 - it sounds like a disaster of a book! ...mind you, sometimes that can be funny to read... ;) Better luck with the next one...

Abr 29, 2009, 1:16 pm

>133 Fourpawz2: Sheepshanks. I remember you wanted to read it because of her name. Sorry it didn't live up to the intrigue of her name, but at least it wasn't a complete loesr. :)

Maio 4, 2009, 12:14 am

No. 37 - The Red Heart by James Alexander Thom - the story of Frances Slocum who was abducted at the age of five by the Lenapeh (read Delaware) tribe in 1778 in the Wilkes Barre, PA area. Tracing Frances' life among the Indians through to her death in 1847, this is the author's fictionalization of a true story. This is a very well-fleshed out story, particularly with regard to how the Lenapeh and the Miami Indians lived during this time, the rise of Tecumseh and the tribes' constant moving because of the loss of their territory. Thom also writes about Frances' family back in Pennsylvania who never stop looking for her and the resolution of their quest. Classic historical fiction done well.
Three and a half stars
527 pages

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.
Four stars
344 pages

Maio 4, 2009, 12:17 am

#157: I am putting them both on the Continent, Charlotte. Thanks for the recommendations!

Maio 6, 2009, 6:58 am

#157 They do sound superb. Thanks.

Maio 7, 2009, 9:02 am

The Red Heart has gone onto the wishlist, sounds good.

Maio 9, 2009, 2:17 am

Maio 11, 2009, 12:19 am

Stasia, Suze and L-Cat - hope you like it when you get to it. I'm always a little worried that maybe I'm a little off-base with some of my recs. That others will not like them as much as I did.

No. 39 - Boston by Henry Cabot Lodge - Not much to say about this one. It's a history of Boston written in 1891.
224 pages
Two and a half stars

Maio 11, 2009, 12:21 am

#162: I'm always a little worried that maybe I'm a little off-base with some of my recs. That others will not like them as much as I did.

I know exactly how you feel, Charlotte!

Maio 11, 2009, 6:55 am

me too, but as my reads are pretty boring and uninspiring as a rule, I'm pretty safe! LOL

Maio 13, 2009, 1:00 am

I don't think your reads are "boring and uninspiring", suze. I've sought out several of your recs over the past year with no bad results so far. In fact, you've inspired me to take a shot at Regencies - a genre I have steadfastly avoided. Haven't actually read any of them yet, but I'm getting to it.

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

Maio 13, 2009, 9:43 am

Too kind :)

Maio 13, 2009, 3:40 pm

A book with charming "incest, death, abandonment, and insanity". Helen Dunmore must be a very good writer! ;o) I might give it a try, but it sounds like the kind of book you have to be in the right mood for.

Maio 13, 2009, 3:45 pm


Lorie, your first comment made me snort. In future, please don't do that when I'm drinking hot chocolate. Thank you.

Maio 14, 2009, 9:44 pm

hope you like it when you get to it. I'm always a little worried that maybe I'm a little off-base with some of my recs. That others will not like them as much as I did.

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.

Maio 15, 2009, 11:59 am

We are a nice group aren't we? (She takes a moment to preen her feathers) We must promise to stick together, always - or least for next year.

Glad to hear, Linda, that you have so many of my recs on your list. Hope they satisfy.

Editado: Maio 15, 2009, 5:58 pm

>170 Fourpawz2: at "least for the next year" LOL

ETA Must say I'm getting strange images of a feathered four-pawed beast in my mind ...

Maio 17, 2009, 12:58 am

Guess that would make me a Griffin, wouldn't it?

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
276 pages

Maio 17, 2009, 12:58 am

Esta mensagem foi removida pelo seu autor.

Maio 20, 2009, 12:12 am

No. 42 - The Indifferent Stars Above by Daniel James Brown, my May Early Reviewer book. I can't write a review right now as my idiot cat is laying on my right hand as I type this (and I am a righty after all), but I wanted to let you all know how very much I enjoyed this book. Will write the actual review as soon as possible.
This book gets four and a half stars from me.
287 pages

Maio 20, 2009, 12:18 am

I'm looking forward to your review. I love the title!

Maio 24, 2009, 7:36 am

#176: Well, I would add it to the Continent, Charlotte, based on your review, but it is already there. I hope I can get my hands on a copy soon!

Editado: Maio 25, 2009, 11:35 pm

No. 43 - The King Must Die by Mary Renault - the story of the Greek, Theseus, who in mythology, among other things, slays the Minotaur, the half-man, half-bull creature who lives under the Cretan palace at Knossos where he feeds on human beings sent to him in tribute. I read this when I was around 13 years old - my best friend at the time spent the summer in Greece and came back with this book for me to read. Yet as I read it this time, I did not recognize anything about it. Nothing at all. I wonder if I faked it.
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.
332 pages

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
232 pages

Maio 26, 2009, 7:22 am

#178: I have not read anything by Mary Renault before, so I think I will The King Must Die a try. Thanks for the recommendation, Charlotte.

Maio 27, 2009, 11:00 pm

I'm simply stopping by to say hello.

Maio 27, 2009, 11:02 pm

Hey back at you!

Jun 2, 2009, 10:49 pm

No. 45 - Mistress Shakespeare by Karen Harper - is an historical fiction selection crafted around the idea that Wm. Shakespeare was handfasted to another Anne (Anne Whately, a real person) before he married Anne Hathaway, that he loved Anne number 1 best and that his marriage to Anne number 2 was nothing more than a shotgun marriage, loveless and sterile. There was promise in the premise, but I never warmed up to Anne Whately, the primary character in the book and that was fatal to my enjoyment of it. Also, did not care for the way Harper dropped quotes from Shakespeare's plays and sonnets into the story - they all seemed to land with loud clunks. Not natural sounding at all, I thought. By the end of this book I'm afraid that my enthusiasm for it was lukewarm at best.
Two and a half stars
366 pages

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.
311 pages

Now, I've got to buy the book....

Jun 3, 2009, 1:40 am

#182: I greatly enjoyed The Plague of Doves when I read it last year. Glad to see that you liked it too, Charlotte!

Jun 6, 2009, 8:41 am

Ahh Charlotte, I see we are agreed on Mistress Shakespeare. You liked it even less than I did. You are absolutely right, there was a certain something about Anne Whately that made me not really take to her. I did not dislike her but I was not head over heels either.

Jun 10, 2009, 10:53 am

No. 47 - Everyday Life in the Massachusetts Bay Colony by George Francis Dow - concerns many different aspects of everyday life (duh!) in the Boston/Plymouth area in the 17th and 18th centuries. It was written quite some time ago - 1936 - but is only slightly dated. Dow covers houses, clothes, fabric, furniture, money, jobs, food, religion, crime and more, giving examples from Massachusetts probate records and newspaper advertisements that were very interesting. Not a deep book, but it still contained a lot of stuff that engaged me.
Three stars for this one.
226 pages plus 57 pages worth of appendices

Jun 10, 2009, 11:48 pm

This sounds like an interesting book. I'm adding it to the tbr pile.

Jun 11, 2009, 12:37 pm

I will not be counting Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult as I quit reading somehwere around page 65 or so. It was not anything that I found very interesting or engaging (a friend gave it to me to read - she loved it, but it just ain't my kind of book) so I stopped wasting valuable reading time.

Jun 11, 2009, 12:54 pm

Good for you!

Jun 12, 2009, 12:18 pm


I wish I had done the same!

Jun 12, 2009, 3:33 pm

It's really not like me, L-cat. Most of the time I just slog on through to the end, but this time....
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.

Jun 12, 2009, 6:41 pm

oooh, I loved Wives and Daughters! I was devastated that she didn't finish it (although it very nearly is and we know the outcome)... Have you read any other Elizabeth Gaskell? North and South is also wonderful.

Jun 13, 2009, 5:05 pm

No, not yet, but I do have North and South and was pleased to see that she wrote a number of others. I think WaD is going to be among my favorites for the year. Am almost finished - just 30 or so pages to go. Then I'm going to revisit Pride and Prejudice.

Jun 14, 2009, 2:45 pm

No. 48 - Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell, an unfinished novel (due to the author's death) of life in a small English village in the early 19th century. It would have been oh, so easy, to make the heroine, Molly Gibson a nauseating, little goodie-two-shoes, but the doctor's daughter had just enough by way of flaws to make her loveable. As has been noted elsewhere on LT nothing much happens in this story, yet somehow a whole lot does happen for it is the story of life - love, marriage, sickness, death and the failure to communicate - the whole kit and kaboodle. Although she is truly flawed, Cynthia Kirkpatrick, Molly's step-sister was my favorite character. Given the build-up to her arrival in Hollingford, I expected her to be an unbearable step-sister right out of Cinderella, but Gaskell resisted that stock-character and gave us someone much more interesting. There was also an entertaining undercurrent of humor - principally from Molly's step-mother, Mrs. Hyacinth Gibson, who, I thought, quite resembled the wretched Hyacinth Bucket from "Keeping Up Appearances"
Four stars
585 pages

Jun 14, 2009, 11:51 pm

#193: I have that one on the Planet already to read. I think I need to live to be about 1,000 to get all the books read that I want to read :)

Jun 21, 2009, 2:05 pm

No. 49 - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - Re-read (3rd time around, I think) because of my next ER book Mr. Darcy's Private Diary. After a dozen years, one forgets.
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.
Four stars
367 pages

Jun 27, 2009, 1:37 am

No. 50 - Touch Not the Cat by Mary Stewart which was particularly recommended by Stasia (thanks, buddy!) is a nice little romantic suspense story involving a rapidly going to seed manor house, a newly orphaned young woman who has inherited the family esp gene and a couple of second cousins, identical twins, who though they have inherited the property (it's entailed) want more. I still like Stewart's The Ivy Tree better, but this runs a pretty close second. The only thing I have to complain about is the handling of a third second cousin - Francis - who is not dragged on stage until literally just a few pages from the end of the story. I had suspected that because he is mentioned throughout, Francis was meant to be important to the story - sort of like those characters in mysteries that figure prominently, but because they do not seem involved in the mystery at hand, you know they are most likely the real murderer. Francis, however, serves very little purpose.
Three and a half stars
302 pages

Jun 27, 2009, 2:00 am

#196: I am very fond of Mary Stewart's writing. I am glad you enjoyed the book!

Jul 1, 2009, 12:12 am

No. 51 - Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence - is going to be one of my favorite books of the year. Before reading this, had thought that this classic must be a bit of a sleeze-read, but was very pleasantly surprised to find that it is not. Taking this one to the deserted-island with me.
Five stars
268 pages

Jul 1, 2009, 2:01 am

I reread Lady Chatterley's Lover last year and loved it all over again.
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.

Editado: Jul 1, 2009, 7:08 am

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.

Jul 1, 2009, 9:36 am

#198 I was put off D. H. Lawrence a bit at school, but I plan to give him another go at some point - looks like Lady Chatterley would be a good place to start!

Editado: Jul 4, 2009, 1:12 am

Book No. 52 - The Priate Diary of Mr. Darcy by Maya Slater - my latest ER book, which I have reviewed as follows:

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.
324 pages

#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.

Editado: Jul 7, 2009, 11:49 pm

No. 53 - The Sun King by Nancy Mitford - a history of Louis XIV (of France) concentrating on his life from the time he began the building of Versailles. It is somewhat biographical, but not a true biography, I don't think. Instead Mitford seems to write about Versailles itself, Louis' relatives, ministers and mistresses as well as other notables from that era with Louis as the centerpiece, of course. Hugely informative and it made me want to read more about him and this period in French history. The book has tons of illustrations - very lovely - (a previous owner even ripped out one - the hazards of buying used books!) that made it seem a little like a coffee table book. It isn't, though.
I want to read more Mitford.

Highly recommended.
Four and a half stars
241 pages

Jul 8, 2009, 5:05 am

I definitely recommend more Nancy Mitford - Love in a Cold Climate, The Blessing and Don't Tell Alfred are all wonderful.

Jul 9, 2009, 11:25 pm

#203: If you want to learn more about Mitford herself, you might try Mary Lovell's excellent biography, The Sisters.

Jul 10, 2009, 12:00 pm

#203 - I found a combination book with Love In a Cold Climate and the next book in it at amazon and bought it.

#204 - I put that puppy on my wishlist.

See, guys - I'm serious about more Mitford.

Jul 10, 2009, 12:20 pm


Editado: Jul 14, 2009, 12:29 am

No. 54 - Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon - a re-read (the fourth time) and as enjoyable as ever. Such a massive book that I always find things to enjoy that I'd forgotten about. Had forgotten about the dead time-traveller whose skull Claire finds. Wonder when Gabaldon is going to fill in this story.

Primo deserted-island book for me that still merits the five stars I gave it when cataloging this series.
1,070 pages

Jul 14, 2009, 12:46 am

#208: Be patient - the skull owner shows up in a later book.

Jul 14, 2009, 1:10 am

Really? Hmmm. I don't remember that and I'm current throughA Breath of Snow and Ashes. Wonder if I'll find the time to re-read that and The Firey Cross before October (saving the new one for the vacation). I know you'll have it all read by 9/24, Stasia, so you mustn't spill any beans!

Jul 14, 2009, 1:15 am

I will not spill any beans, I promise, Charlotte. I am sure that the skull owner is in one of the later books, though perhaps I am misremembering . . .

Jul 15, 2009, 11:45 pm

Oh goody! A highly rated series that is long! I must add it to my list.

Jul 16, 2009, 10:56 am

Just chiming in re Nancy Mitford - personally I enjoyed both The Pursuit of Love and The Blessing more than Love in a Cold Climate. I'm curious to see how you like your next read by her.

Jul 16, 2009, 11:36 am

LOL on your review of The Private Diary of Mr Darcy. Cariola read some really good Pride and Prejudice inspired fiction that sound much, much better. Check her thread for the name of the book and author.

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 :)

Jul 16, 2009, 12:20 pm

Horrors! I bought two Heyers this spring (haven't read them yet). Whatever will I do?

Jul 22, 2009, 1:24 am

No. 55 - The King's Privateer by Dewey Lambdin - Read this for the Go Review That Book group (Review is here:
Perfect escapist kind of book.
Four stars
353 pages

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
219 pages

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.
336 pages

Jul 22, 2009, 1:18 pm


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.

Jul 22, 2009, 2:50 pm

I agree, absolutely, about #57 - the writing was not polished, but I just loved the idea of it. A very interesting topic that many writers would not have the courage to tackle. In the end, I think that Maier did not have what it took either, but it was fun while it lasted.

Jul 26, 2009, 10:55 am

No. 58 - Property by Valerie Martin - Enjoyed this one very much. It seemed so very real - not like those highly unrealistic representations of life on an antebellum plantation. It was grim, a little depressing and thoroughly entertained me. I liked Martin's way of writing and mean to look up some of her other books.
Four stars for this one
193 pages

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.
Four stars
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.
four stars
90 pages

Jul 26, 2009, 5:50 pm

>219 Fourpawz2:: The Return of the Soldier is one of my favorite reads so far this year. It was heart-breaking.

If you like that theme, can I recommend you try Random Harvest by James Hilton? I read it during last year's challenge and it was one of my top four for the year.

Jul 26, 2009, 11:59 pm

I'm adding The Return of the Soldier to my tbr pile. If you and Tad recommend it, then that is enough for me!

Jul 27, 2009, 12:01 am

opps...just discovered I added it back in March when Tad read/recommended it. Now, I need to move it up closer to the top.

Jul 27, 2009, 10:30 am

It's on the wishlist now, Tad. Thanks for the rec.

Jul 27, 2009, 2:55 pm

I've just mooched The Diary of a Cat and I know my mum recently found The Return of the Soldier and got it for me, so I have both to look forward to.

Editado: Jul 27, 2009, 11:40 pm

No. 61 - Ironworks on the Saugus by E.N. Hartley - When I was a kid there was a period when my father was always taking little day trips around the state and my mother, who really did not like these trips, would go with him. She dug her heels in when he proposed a trip to the Olde Ironmonger's, refusing categorically, to go there. Forever after, she used to speak feelingly of how she had not gone and would never go to the Olde Ironmonger's (she much preferred a trip to Ye Olde Bar & Grille - esp. the Bar) no matter how much Daddy wanted to go there. I never knew what place it was, exactly, that she was bitching about, but after reading this book, I finally figured out the Olde Ironmonger's was actually the Ironworks in Lynn, MA. (I don't know why you would want to know all this ancient history from my childhood, but there it is.)
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
305 pages

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.
Three stars
376 pages

Jul 28, 2009, 7:50 pm

re Georgette Heyer

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. :-)

Ago 1, 2009, 6:09 pm

No. 63 - Holly River Secret by Ann Durell which was assigned to me by the Go Review That Book group. My review is here:

I don't think I have to add anything more - 'tis cruel to beat a dead horse.
Two stars for this one
224 pages

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.

Ago 2, 2009, 1:39 pm

Congratulations on your hot review listed on today's LT home page!

Ago 9, 2009, 3:19 pm

No. 64 - Cat Love Letters: Collected Correspondence of Cats in Love by Leigh W. Rutledge - Read this for the Go Review That Book group and my review is here:
3 stars
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
378 pages

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.
Four stars
148 pages

Ago 10, 2009, 1:31 am

#229: The Big Sky looks like one I need to read. Thanks for the recommendation, Charlotte.

Ago 10, 2009, 1:35 am

At last; a rec I don't have to go out and buy because I have The Big Sky on my shelf. Thank you for the rec. But I guess I will have to be checking into A Life Wild and Perilous because that one looks really good as well.

Ago 10, 2009, 4:42 pm

I'm surprised, Stasia, that you haven't already read this one and I think that you will enjoy it. It was very genuine, I thought - no heroes, no villains, just real people.

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.
Four stars
244 pages

Ago 10, 2009, 5:08 pm

#232: Unfortunately, Charlotte, there are a lot of books that I have never read. It just is not fair! There are so many more authors than there are of me! OK, on second thought, maybe that is not such a bad thing.

Ago 11, 2009, 10:10 pm

I have The Big Sky on my TBR for this year--I bought it 20 years ago because it was a favorite of my Dad's and never got around to reading it. Thanks for the shove--as soon as I get home I'm grabbing it! (My books are more organized now and I know I can find it quickly!)

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.

Ago 12, 2009, 6:11 pm

I'm thinking of getting The Unknown Ajax, MM. But that won't be until I spend my reward certificate from Amazon. I know this doesn't make sense, but I get more pleasure out of getting as many $4 books as I can out of the $25 certificate than I do out of getting one $7 or $8 book for free. I think it's an Aires thing - not sensible folk, I find. (Or maybe it's just me).

Ago 18, 2009, 10:48 pm

No. 68 - The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie - Pretty good, although once again international intrigue seems to figure pretty prominently in this one. I guessed what I suppose was the "big secret" well in advance of the reveal. On to the next Christie, whatever that may be.
Three stars for this one.
232 pages

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
507 pages

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
292 pages

Am reading The Oracle's Queen by Lynn Flewelling right now and loving it. That girl writes a mean fantasy.

Ago 19, 2009, 1:37 am

#236: I will look for The Oracle Glass. Thanks for the recommendation, Charlotte.

Ago 23, 2009, 8:57 am

No. 71 - The Oracle's Queen by Lynn Flewelling - Finally finished this series. I seem to have been holding onto this book for the better part of two years and I wish I knew why. I should have read it a long, long time ago. It is a fitting finish to the series even though I was kind of liking Tobin/Tamir better as a boy than a girl. However, the transformation was, of course, inevitable and I always knew that. All three of the books in the series will go down as favorites.
Four and a half stars for this one.
557 pages

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.
Two stars
375 pages

Ago 23, 2009, 9:01 am

I have 3 of the books in Flewelling's Nightrunner series. If I enjoy them as much as you did The Oracle's Queen, Charlotte, I have some good reading ahead of me!

Have you read the Nightrunner series?

Ago 23, 2009, 9:07 am

No, I haven't - yet. They are at the top of my list of books to get after I finish spending my amazon reward certificate. I am hoping that they are as good as the triology I've just finished. I treasure good fantasy writers like Flewelling because there are a whole pile of not-so-hot to really bad fantasy writers out there. Why, oh why, can't they all be like Martin, Flewelling, and Hobb??

Ago 30, 2009, 11:14 pm

No. 73 - Blindspot by Jane Kamensky and Jill Lepore - historical fiction taking place in Boston in 1764, concerning a deadbeat, Scottish "face-painter" (read painter of portraits) who has fled from Scotland and the apprentice he hires after setting up shop in Massachusetts. There is murder here, as well as slavery, the rumbling beginnings of the American Revolution and above else - a love story. The love story, in particular, I found interesting, because the apprentice is a girl, masquerading as a boy and the face-painter, who does not know about the masquerade, is love in with him (her). I wondered, when I pre-ordered this book last year, if the fact that it had two authors might not detract from its quality and am happy to report that it did not. I hope that Kamensky and Lepore are planning to write something else, because I quite enjoyed this book.
Four stars
500 pages

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.

Three stars
193 pages
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.

Set 6, 2009, 10:08 am

Thursday last was a Red Letter day for me. Broke 100 (finally) at the bowling alley and finished Book No. 75 - The Queen's Bastard by Robin Maxwell. A Tudor Historical Fiction it is about the possibility that Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley had a natural son - Arthur Dudley. Arthur really did exist, says the author's Historical Perspective at the end of the book and I found those few pages more intriguing that the actual book she wrote. This, I am sure, is because I have no fondness for either the Tudor period or family. Having read Maxwell's Perspective I'd have to say she did a good job laying out the story; all of the events she writes about in Arthur's life are justified by the little that is known about him. Definitely makes you wonder, what if... I think I would have liked a non-fiction book on the subject a little better, but given the miniscule bit that is known about Arthur I can see why that was not possible. He is, after all, not much more than a history footnote.
Three and a half stars for this one
436 pages

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
98 pages

Set 6, 2009, 1:26 pm

Well done for reaching your 75!!

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 :)

Set 6, 2009, 2:03 pm

Congratulations on reaching 75! I read Bunnicula this year, and decided to do the series. Real Life and Other Books interfered, and so some of them are still on the short stack. But good, silly fun. I liked it!

Set 8, 2009, 4:55 pm

Set 8, 2009, 6:25 pm

Congratulations!!!!!! You should be feeling pretty good about yourself right now :)

Set 8, 2009, 7:03 pm

Esta mensagem foi removida pelo seu autor.

Set 8, 2009, 7:04 pm

Congratulations on meeting and beating your goal!~! You go!~!~!
Is The Queen's Bastard part of a series?
Love the Tudors!~!

Set 8, 2009, 11:21 pm


Set 9, 2009, 12:20 pm

Thank you, guys!

It appears, Belva, that it is book 2 of the Elizabeth I series.

Set 9, 2009, 5:41 pm

Congratulations! I think that I'm as impressed with breaking 100 at the bowling alley (I'm a horrible bowler) as I am with the great books you've read this year.

Bunnicula is one that I'm adding to my TBR list. I think that my oldest son is about the right age for it.

Set 10, 2009, 4:47 am

Congratulations on the 75 - wow!

Several people seem to have read Bunnicula recently - it sounds very entertaining...

Set 10, 2009, 9:04 am

It is... I have very fond childhood memories of it, and actually went out and bought myself a new copy of the original 3 books last year to try and recapture some of those memories... it's still plenty entertaining as it always was :)

Set 10, 2009, 10:27 am

...and yet more congratulations on reaching 75!

Set 10, 2009, 12:41 pm

...and thank you-all some more. I totally loved Bunnicula - I was reading it aloud to the cat and I just couldn't keep from laughing. I'm saving the other two stories in this book for October, I think.

Set 13, 2009, 10:45 am

No. 77 - Almost French by Sarah Turnbull - an enjoyable read about Ms. Turnbull's early days in France and trying to adjust to a society that she plainly does not fit into.
Three and a half stars
304 pages

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)
210 pages

Set 13, 2009, 11:47 am

>256 Fourpawz2:: Hmmm, mixed reviews on Almost French. Still, I'm a travel book fan, so I'll give this one a try. Thanks.

Set 13, 2009, 9:45 pm

#256: Adding both Almost French and The Pittsley Chronicles to the Planet. Thanks for the reviews, Charlotte.

Set 17, 2009, 1:00 am

Bunnicula is waiting on my tbr pile for a long time. It looks like I need to move it up some notches...

Set 18, 2009, 8:57 pm

Aw, Linda, all the YA you read and you've missed Bunnicula? Maybe not quite the poignant quality of Kira-Kira or Hana's Suitcase, but great fun!

Set 18, 2009, 9:49 pm

I've already made three trips to the library this week, but alas one more won't be a problem. I hope to obtain a cop of Bunnicula tomorrow.

Set 21, 2009, 12:40 pm

Finished reading stupid book No. 79 - New Moon by you-know-who. This book irritated the crap out of me almost as much as the first one did. It was so overwrought! Bella is just not right - I don't know about you, but I sure wouldn't want to cuddle up to someone whose body is so physcially cold that I need to be wrapped up in a blanket lest I get a bad case of freezer burn.
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

Set 21, 2009, 1:02 pm

I think of the two "vampire series" you've mentioned Bunicula looks to be the far superior one to try. :-) Besides I can't stand to be cold at night--I sleep with a quilt even in the summer.

Set 21, 2009, 1:41 pm

>262 Fourpawz2: If you makes you feel better, I just finished the Twilight Saga and they get better as you go along. Never spectacular enough to deserve all the hype they get, but definitely better.

Set 27, 2009, 11:13 am

Book No. 80 - Dreaming In French by Megan McAndrew - a not bad Early Reviewer book. (Will go over and post the review in a bit) Not my kind of book, but eminently readable.
Three and half stars
314 pages

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?)
Three stars
200-something pages

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

Out 4, 2009, 7:03 pm

You crack me up! Sorry I've been awol but I intend to stay with you through year end!

Out 5, 2009, 3:47 am

>265 Fourpawz2:: ROFL! Now there's a review of Eclipse!

Out 7, 2009, 12:32 am

Always happy to provide a chuckle, guys.

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.
Four stars
405 pages

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.

Out 7, 2009, 5:14 am


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?

Out 8, 2009, 12:23 am

Yes, I will, Linda. I put Children of God on the wishlist (with a high Book Lust number) before I even finished The Sparrow.
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.

Out 10, 2009, 4:11 am

Yes, time really does slow down when you approach light speed. See Albert Einstein for details.

I love The Sparrow. The sequel is not nearly as good, IMHO.

Out 13, 2009, 11:28 am

Book No. 84 - Breaking Dawn by the incomparably not talented writer Stephanie Meyer was just a great big BORE! Maybe even worse than all the others. To the good...I am done, with a capital D.
1/2 star for this one - the cover art doesn't even help this one
754 pages

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????

Out 13, 2009, 11:40 pm

Yes, I am currently reading An Echo in the Bone. I am about 200 pages into it.

Out 14, 2009, 4:59 am

>272 Fourpawz2: crikey, is it really that long?? Kudos to you for slogging through. Very noble.

Out 16, 2009, 8:52 am

Book No. 85 - Old Jules by Mari Sandoz - a much better book than the last - in fact I'd rate it as one of my top five for the year. It is the story of Sandoz' father, Jules, a young Swiss man who is meant to be a doctor, who settled in the the panhandle of Nebraska in the 1880's. Once there, being a doctor is forgotten and Jules dedicates his life to bringing people to settle this part of Nebraska and horticulture - particularly orchards. However, Jules is not a loveable man - the emotion he inspired in his daughter seems to have been fear rather than anything else, but somehow she writes this tribute to her father that shows his virtues as well as all his warts. (And believe me, those warts are severe.) The book is not just about Jules but is also about his four wives - I was impressed, in particular, by his fourth and last wife, Mary. Mary worked hard - harder than most men (and certainly harder than Jules). Probably the hardest work she did was to stay married to Jules; this man would surely tax the mostly saintly and tolerant of women. I also found it very impressive that Mari Sandoz had so little education and yet she writes so beautifully and honestly. The book is peopled with a host of interesting characters, but among them all the land itself shines as a non-human character that dominates everything and everyone. Everyone that is with the exception of Jules Sandoz.

Highly Recommended
Five stars for this one
424 pages

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!

Out 18, 2009, 1:47 am

Charlotte, I have not finished An Echo in the Bone yet. Too many library books out to have a ton of time devoted to reading it exclusively.

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.

Nov 2, 2009, 12:29 pm

Book No. 86 - An Echo In the Bone - by Diana Gabaldon - Finished this one back on Oct. 25th. IMO this is probably the second or third best one in the series. Diana certainly managed to come up with a number of surprises, none of which I saw coming.
Five stars for this one, but I'd give it more if I could for sheer enjoyability
814 pages

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
349 pages

Nov 4, 2009, 1:47 am

Charlotte, glad to see that you enjoyed An Echo in the Bone so much. I am still working on it in between library books.

Sorry you did not care for the Dorothy Cannell book. I have read a couple of hers that I really liked, although I have not yet read The Widow's Club.

Nov 4, 2009, 12:30 pm

It wasn't horrible, Stasia, but it did not seem to me to be as good as The Thin Woman that I read last year. Maybe it was because the contrast was just too great between it and the Gabaldon book - maybe I went a little too far. I still have a copy of Mum's the Word on my TBR shelves. Perhaps I will like that better.

Nov 4, 2009, 12:33 pm

Esta mensagem foi removida pelo seu autor.

Nov 5, 2009, 3:21 am

#279: I hope you enjoy Mum's the Word more!

Nov 7, 2009, 3:03 am


I'm simply stopping by to wave hi.

Nov 9, 2009, 12:08 pm

Waving "hi" back. How'd the festivities go the other weekend?

Nov 9, 2009, 12:22 pm

Better than expected. Thanks for asking!

Nov 13, 2009, 10:24 am

Book No. 88 - The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett - I know I promised somewhere never to read this one because of a very amusing review, but somehow the dang thing crawled out from in back of several other books and made me read it. It was, I thought a little over-long and I now know a good deal more about church construction that I ever hoped to know, but in the end, I did enjoy certain parts of it. The raping and rampant sex, although distasteful to a lot of 21st century sensibilities, was, I think, in keeping with the way things were way back in the 12th century. I give this puppy -
Three stars
983 pages

Nov 14, 2009, 6:24 pm

I read The Pillars of the Earth a long time ago. I agree with your assessment!

Nov 15, 2009, 12:06 am

Just wanted to stop by and catch up on your thread and say "hello". Am so far behind on all of your threads that it is almost sinful.
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?
big hug,
& thank you.

Nov 17, 2009, 2:09 pm

Pretty much, Belva.

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.
Four stars
195 pages

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
116 pages

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
231 pages

Nov 23, 2009, 12:38 pm

Book No. 92 - In the Fall by Jeffrey Lent - Where has this guy been hiding? I've never heard of Lent outside of LT and after reading this book, I'd have to say Lent is underrated. He is not just a writer - he is a writer of literature (with a capital L). The only thing I did not love is his persistent use of incomplete sentences - they made things a little choppy. But his story, his characters, his descriptions (esp. his descriptions) and the emotions written about in this book were superior. Will read more of his stuff.
Four stars
511 pages

Nov 24, 2009, 3:23 am

I have In the Fall in the BlackHole already. Looks like I need to bump it up!

Editado: Nov 30, 2009, 11:34 am

I think you do, Stasia. I thought it was awfully good.

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.
311 pages
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
2 stars

Book No. 95 - The Road by Cormac McCarthy -


287 pages
5 well-deserved stars

Nov 30, 2009, 12:47 pm

I never really "got" The Secret Garden either - and I did read it as a child (and one who enjoyed quite a few saccharine classics!)

Nov 30, 2009, 1:31 pm

Glad to see I'm not alone in that, fliss-y. It's surprising that that sort of sugary stuff hasn't resulted in massive book aversion in so many of the children who were subjected to it. I think the more recently written books are a little better than children's books were once upon a time.

Dez 1, 2009, 12:39 pm

Oh, I forgot - Book No. 96 - Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk - A so-so soap opera-ish kind of book. Waaay too long. Got to really not liking Marjorie and just about everybody else well before the end. The object of her great love affair was a pompous poop far too in love with himself to ever commit and Marjorie was a giant dumb head not to see it about two years before she did.

Two and a half stars
565 pages

Dez 1, 2009, 1:08 pm

aw hope your next one is a better read! (and less soap opera-ish :P)

Dez 1, 2009, 3:26 pm

ditto what Eliza said

Dez 2, 2009, 12:58 am

I have The Road home from the library now to read. I hope I like it as much as you did, Charlotte.

Dez 2, 2009, 8:57 am

Oh dear - I'm impressed you made it through 565 pages of that!

Dez 2, 2009, 4:20 pm

>294 Fourpawz2: "Pompous poop" and "giant dumb head"--I absolutely LOVE your descriptions! I may steal them.

Dez 3, 2009, 11:02 am

Consider them my gift to you in this the season of giving...

Dez 3, 2009, 4:44 pm

Why, thank you! Although the best gift of all would be to not know anyone that I could apply those names to. Unfortunately...

Dez 7, 2009, 10:57 am

Finally posted my review of Book No. 96 - my latest Early Reviewer book - here:

Dez 15, 2009, 12:37 pm

Book No. 97 - A Highlander for Christmas by Sandy Blair - Crap.

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.

Dez 15, 2009, 5:12 pm

I have Search of the Moon King's Daughter to be read, so I will be interested in your thoughts on it.

I hope you are joining us again in 2010, Charlotte!

Dez 19, 2009, 10:07 am

I've been hanging around over at the 2010, 75 Book Challenge group and neglecting this group horribly. The number of unread threads here is just abominable. There are thousands, I'm sure. Am looking forward to wiping that particular slate clean.

Book No. 97 (see #303) as I said, was crap. Sheer and utter crap. Another dreadful piece of Outlander spawn.
1/2 star
350 pages

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
264 pages

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.
Four stars
307 pages

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.
169 pages

Dez 19, 2009, 10:09 am


Dez 19, 2009, 3:37 pm

Congratulations on making 100!!

Dez 20, 2009, 12:57 am

ditto what Stasia said.

Dez 20, 2009, 8:46 am

Thanks guys. It's a number I never expected to see.

Dez 20, 2009, 5:06 pm

Another 100 - how fabulous!

Dez 26, 2009, 3:04 pm

Book No. 102 - Felix Holt, the Radical by George Eliot - This pretty obscure novel of Eliot's is the story of a young man (Holt) in 1830's England who, though well-educated, has chosen the life of a working man instead of the doctor that his widowed mother preferred for him. I would call this a political novel in spite of the romance between Holt and Esther Lyon, the daughter of an inpoverished minister which slogs along at a very slow place throughout the story. Felix's main concern seems to be the inprovement in the working man's condition and the education of the sons of working men rather than the pursuit of Esther. He spends a good amount of time discussing the topic (improvement, not romance) with the Reverend Lyon and also going about the fictional county of Loamshire, talking to the men whose cause he espouses. And then there is Harold Transome recently returned from the East to his family holdings with plenty of money, intent upon running as the radical candidate for Parliament. His new politics shock the stuffing out of his mother and sundry other local, died-in-the-wool Tories, but Harold doesn't care.
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.
Three stars
432 pages of teeny-tiny print

Dez 26, 2009, 11:30 pm

I would have to pass on 432 pages of teeny-tiny print! I have not been able to do teeny-tiny print since I was about 6.

Dez 27, 2009, 12:35 pm

Book No. 103 - Winnie and Wolf by A.N. Wilson - my latest Early Reviewer book.
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
363 pages

Dez 28, 2009, 12:34 am

#313: I think I will skip that one. I would not be able to deal with the errors such as the Ernst Rohm one. I hope your next read is more enjoyable for you, Charlotte.

Dez 28, 2009, 8:49 am

ditto what Stasia said.

Dez 28, 2009, 11:20 am

Guys, I think you made a good choice. If I hadn't had to read it for Early Reviewers, I think it might have gone on the back shelf for a few thousand months.

Dez 29, 2009, 1:48 pm

Will not be counting The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxay which I could not finish and have now given up on - hot doughnuts flying up through the pavement were too much for me. I hated to give up - I could appreciate the occasional funny bits, but most of it was just to hard to take.

Dez 29, 2009, 11:57 pm

#317: That does not bode well for me - I was hoping to read the series in 2010. Oh, well, I will give the first one a go and if I do not like it, then I do not have to read the rest!

Dez 30, 2009, 4:41 am

Just de-lurking to say even as a Douglas Adamas fan I am don't think the Hitchhikers books are that great (although I love the radio play). Although if you couldn't stomach the first one it is probably not worth trying any more! :) Just in case you are a glutton for punishment I prefer Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency or the non-fiction Last Chance to See

Dez 30, 2009, 9:52 pm

I read the first Hitchiker's book, and I thought it was okay, funny in spots, but I felt like I was not the target audience. Some of my male friends love the books and the movie, and sure enough, I kept thinking of them while I was reading. "I can see how HE would think this is hilarious!"
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...

Jan 2, 2010, 6:03 pm

Argh!!! All these anti-Hitchhikers people!!

#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...)