rainpebble reads in 2015

Snak100 Books in 2015 Challenge

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rainpebble reads in 2015

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Redigeret: jan 19, 2015, 4:39pm

dec 31, 2014, 2:40pm

Welcome back! Looking forward to following your reading again.

dec 31, 2014, 3:37pm

Love the picture! Is that Jesse Wilcox Smith?

jan 2, 2015, 1:53am

Welcome back! Looking forward to your reading in 2015.

jan 2, 2015, 6:34am

Happy 2015! Good luck to the new reading year

jan 2, 2015, 10:15am

looking forward to your 2015 reviews!

jan 4, 2015, 12:25am

Thank you all. It is fun to be back for another year of reading.
I wish you all the best in your reading challenges of 2015.

Redigeret: jul 22, 2015, 10:47pm

(I did not count most of my rereads, which were all pretty awesome of course.)

The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman; short stories; (5*)
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, (Currer Bell); VMC; (5*)
Drink to Yesterday by Manning Coles; Great War Theme Read; (5*)
The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper; Y/A; bk 2 in Omnibus; sci-fi/fantasy; (5*)
We That Were Young by Irene Rathbone; VMC; Great War Theme Read; R/B; (5*)
The Love-Child by Edith Olivier; VMC, (#46); (5*)
In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden; VMC, (#579); (5+*)
Not So Quiet by Helen Zenna Smith; VMC, (#305); Great War Theme Read; (5+*)
Uncle Silas by J. Sheridan Le Fanu; (5*)
The Knight of Cheerful Countenance by Molly Keane; VMC; (5*)
The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West; VMC; Great War Theme Read; (5*)
Lila by Marilynne Robinson; (5*)
Flush: A Biography by Virginia Woolf; Persephone; (5*)
The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye; Y/A; (5*)

MY BEST READ OF 2014 GOES TO THE INDOMITABLE Virginia Woolf FOR FLUSH. An absolutely beautiful read.

So out of my 184 reads in 2014, these are most of my 5 star reads. I had an awfully lot of 4 1/2s but just too many to mention here.

In 2015 I am going to attempt to dial back my reading. Last year there was so much grief and worry in my life that I just buried myself in my books. I am going to try to live a little this year.

Redigeret: sep 22, 2015, 1:17pm


Burial Rites by Hannah Kent; (A first novel and so good that I must say I may have already read my best of the year.) *
The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker
The Jewel in the Crown by Paul Scott
A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie *
Night by Elie Wiesel
Family Circle by Mary Hocking; no proper touchstones for this book
The Dying Animal by Philip Roth
Evening by Susan Minot
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz; (bk 1 of the trilogy)
I Love You, I Love You Not by Wendy Kesselman

Redigeret: jul 20, 2015, 3:55pm

(2015 winter in the Pacific Northwest--Tacoma, Washington--to be exact)


1. The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge; (3 1/2*)
2. Never No More by Maura Laverty; VMC 2015 Theme Read: The Seven Ages of Women: Childhood; ROOT; (4*)
3. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent; ORANGE JANUARY; S/L, 2014; (5+*)
4. The Goldfinch by Donna Tarrt; ORANGE JANUARY; BFB, 784 pgs; S/L, 2014; (3 1/2*)
5. Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver; ORANGE JANUARY; S/L, 2013; BFB, 610 pgs
(2 1/2*)
6. Gut Symmetries by Jeanette Winterson; ORANGE JANUARY; L/L, 1997; (1*)
7. Ursula, Under by Ingrid Hill; Orange JANUARY; L/L, 2005; (3*)
8. A London Child of the 1870s by Mary Vivian Hughes / Molly Hughes; VMC 2015 Theme Read: Childhood; (4*)
9. The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker; (5*)
10. Honor by Elif Safak; ORANGE JANUARY; L/L, 2013; (4 1/2*)

jan 4, 2015, 4:12am

Hope you are enjoying Burial Rites Belva, one of my favourite reads from last year, and Flush is straight on to my TBR pile after your esteemed recommendation !
I haven't thought that much of the Woolf I have read, I'll try not to dis her (or Jane Austen) !

jan 4, 2015, 12:06pm

Glad your going to live it up more this year. Sometimes we do get buried in our books. I've done this at times too!

jan 4, 2015, 9:45pm

>11 bryanoz::
Bryan, I am really loving Burial Rites from the way it is written to the rounding of the characters to the dialogue; I think it nearly perfect at this point. I am glad to hear that you thought so much of it.
I rarely read contemporary fiction excepting for those Orange/Baileys listed. Were it not for that I would have missed this gem.

>12 swimmergirl1::
Thank you for the support swimmer. I just need to be more aware. I find I am missing my husband and children.

jan 7, 2015, 12:43am

Glad you liked Burial Rites, Belva! We did that for book group, and it was a very good read.

jan 16, 2015, 12:35pm

OK, you can ignore my post in your old thread...I found you without help! And I'm relieved to see I'm not too far behind. Just wanted to note that I managed to find Strawberry Girl at the library and had a re-read. What a wonderful trip down memory lane. I'm so happy to find Lenski holds up well. I hope kids are still reading her.

jan 16, 2015, 10:05pm

>15 laytonwoman3rd::
I hope so too Linda. I am so happy you were able to find SG at the library. I ended up having to scour the net several years back but if memory serves I paid way more for the shipping than for the book. Glad you were able to enjoy it again.
(Sorry, I really wasn't hiding from you.)

Redigeret: feb 19, 2015, 1:45am

1. The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge; (3 1/2*)

I enjoyed this book; a very quiet book with beautiful charm. The author shows a great understanding of the upheaval of retirement and how to deal with real life problems.
However I have come, over the years, to expect more from this author, one that I do find immensely talented. I think that in this particular instance the storyline & writing fell down toward the latter part of the book. Still and all I find Goudge is always quite wonderful.

Redigeret: feb 12, 2015, 2:10am

2. Never No More by Maura Laverty; VMC; 2015 VMC Theme Read; The 7 Ages of Woman: Childhood: (4*)

No review; just my thoughts & comments:

Yesterday I finished Maura Laverty's Never No More. I found it to be a rather comforting read. And while not a five star read for me it was excellent. I love how Laverty talks about cooking, about food in general, sewing, and all of the things that go into the making/creating of a home along with farming information.
And she grows her characters so nicely; both the nice ones and the not so nice. There is a great deal of living in this book and I think a lot of it might be based on the life of Laverty. At least that is how it felt as I read it. It is all written into the book in a very comfortable way. Her writing actually reminded me of L.M. Montgomery and her Anne of Green Gables.
I did not expect to enjoy it nearly as much as I did. But I do think the book is much more to the coming-of-age period than the childhood period of Delia's life. I am so looking forward to the author's No More Than Human.

Redigeret: feb 12, 2015, 2:09am

3. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent; ORANGE JANUARY; S/L, 2014; (5+*)

This is an amazing historical novel. I will be remembering this one for a long time. The story is so heartbreaking that I wish it wasn't true. The writing is beautiful and just everything about this book is wonderful except the horror of the truth.
The book is well written, interesting, emotional and informative. It is a very compelling read about a woman who was abandoned at an early age by her unmarried mother. She was left to take care of herself and defend herself while working as a servant girl. The coldness throughout the story made me feel a chill even as I read the the book, as though I were in the croft itself.
The protagonist fell in love with a cruel man who owned a very isolated farm (though all the crofts seem isolated in this story) and went to live with him there where murderous and manipulating individuals greedily decided her fate.
This is strong fiction based on fact. Iceland is fascinating. The way the people live is fascinating. The story is compelling and the characters very well developed.
This book is so amazing that it may well be my best read of the year. I very highly recommend it.

Redigeret: jul 20, 2015, 3:04pm

4. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt; ORANGE JANUARY; S/L, 2014; BFB, 784 pgs; (3 1/2*)

No review; just my thoughts & comments:

I adored this book and was totally fascinated by it until about 7/8 into it and then suddenly it all went to hell on me. I had to force myself to read the last bits of the book. Had it continued in the same vein as the former part of the book, it would most likely have been a 4 1/2* or 5* read for me. But sadly this was not to be.
I love how Tartt grows her characters but the characterizations did not seem to follow through til the end and it just threw me.

Redigeret: maj 16, 2015, 6:32pm

5. Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver; Orange January; Orange S/L; 2013; (2 1/2*)

The summary for Flight Behavior and the first part of the story made me look forward to an unusual and interesting read. I was disappointed when the unusual turned out to be the mundane life of Dellarobia Turnbow and her impoverished family. However the book did hold my interest only because of the information regarding the life cycle and migratory habits of the Monarch butterfly. Other than that the book became boring very quickly.
I have read more than one book on this subject matter that was much better written and far more interesting.

Redigeret: maj 16, 2015, 6:34pm

6. Gut Symmetries by Jeanette Winterson; Orange January; L/L, 1997; (1*)

Well, I hacked up a hairball with this one and am sitting here showing my ignorance.
Giving this read 1 star and that is simply for originality. Reading this book, I felt that Winterson was writing for the shock factor & to just write something over-the-top. I can understand the brilliance of the author's mind but not of her writing.
I have read her before and really enjoyed her writing but not here.
My unwanted advice: put it in a textbook. But then again, perhaps I simply prefer a plot-driven novel.

Redigeret: feb 12, 2015, 2:13am

7. Ursula, Under by Ingrid Hill; Orange JANUARY; L/L, 2005; (3*)

This was a very good book. Not great but good. It is the story of 2 1/2 year old Ursula Wong who, while visiting the Upper Peninsula with her parents, falls down an abandoned mineshaft. While her parents and rescue workers scramble to rescue her the story goes back into time to tell the story of her ancestors. We learn that they came from China, Sweden, and Finland. All of them lived with secrets and heartache. Combined and now at the epicenter of all of this ancestral genealogy is this little girl No one knows if she has survived the fall.
Inter-chaptered with the ancestor's stories and the current events are the stories of the lives of Ursula's parents. The story of how Ursula came to be is interesting and moving. The underlying theme of the book is that we are all interconnected and the actions we take and the choices we make in our lives affect far more and reach out further than our lives.

Redigeret: jan 16, 2015, 10:56pm

The Goldfinch. My favorite book I read all last year. Just recommended to some people today.

Redigeret: feb 12, 2015, 2:14am

8. A London Child of the 1870s by Molly Hughes; VMC 2015 Theme Read: Childhood; (4*)

My thoughts and comments:

I began this one in bed last night and now, well into it, I am absolutely charmed by this little memoir of 5 siblings told in the voice of the youngest & the only daughter of the family. Even though I grew up some 80 years later, my siblings like she & her brothers, made do with what we had for entertaining ourselves & learned a lot by doing so. We did not know it nor would we have agreed with that at the time. The remark that they benefited by their upbringing much more so that the wealthy children of that era really struck me and I think that perhaps she is quite right.
This is a charming memoir and I was quite taken with it.

Redigeret: feb 19, 2015, 1:46am

9. The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker; (5*)

My thoughts & comments:

I just read and quite fell in love with The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker. I was more than ready for something like this.
The daughter of New York parents (a Burmese father and an American mother) abruptly decides to leave her law practice and return to her father’s birthplace. Her attorney father disappeared of his own volition four years previously and items her mother recently sent her make her eager to search for him.
In making this journey she meets with her unknown half-brother and goes in search of their father, learning about her ancestors (and his) along the way. She learns that her father had an entirely separate and lovely life before emigrating to America.
I found this book to splendid in all areas and beautifully written. The end of the story left my mind open to what the young woman will do with the remainder of her life. I found that to be a very satisfying end to this book.
I loved the writing and am eager to see if I can find other novels by this author and perhaps find information on the author, himself. Highly recommended.

Redigeret: feb 12, 2015, 2:25am

I am enjoying this slowing down, lifting my head up a bit more and taking a bigger part in the life of my family. So much has already happened this year. Great grandbabies taking their first steps, 2 great nieces expecting their first babies this month or perhaps early next month and a niece having her first in May. Exciting stuff and I get to enjoy it.

Redigeret: maj 16, 2015, 6:44pm

10. Honor by Elif Safak; ORANGE JANUARY; L/L, 2013; (4 1/2*)

This is a beautifully written book of a Turkish family that comes to be separated by those going off to England & other places in an attempt to make a better life for themselves and their families. One daughter, one of a pair of twins, remains behind and eventually grows into becoming a midwife. Her twin lives in England with her family.
This is a difficult book for me to review in that there are so many story lines within these covers. But they were all easy to follow and very interesting. The book contains many incidents of great beauty and also many of horrific events. I learned about the Turkish/Kurdish cultures and appreciated the knowledge & sharing of this author.
I rated the book 4 1/2 stars and fully intend to read more by Safak. She is a beautiful writer. I highly recommend this book to any who are interested in reading about cultures other than their own.

Redigeret: maj 16, 2015, 6:45pm

(2015 winter in the Pacific Northwest--Tacoma, Washington--to be exact)


1. The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge; (3 1/2*)
2. Never No More by Maura Laverty; VMC 2015 Theme Read: The Seven Ages of Women: Childhood; (4*)
3. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent; ORANGE JANUARY; S/L, 2014; (5+*)
4. The Goldfinch by Donna Tarrt; ORANGE JANUARY; BFB, 784 pgs; S/L, 2014; (3 1/2*)
5. Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver; ORANGE JANUARY; S/L, 2013;
(2 1/2*)
6. Gut Symmetries by Jeanette Winterson; ORANGE JANUARY; L/L, 1997; (1*)
7. Ursula, Under by Ingrid Hill; Orange JANUARY; L/L, 2005; (3*)
8. A London Child of the 1870s by Mary Vivian Hughes / Molly Hughes; VMC 2015 Theme Read: Childhood; (4*)
9. The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker; (5*)
10. Honor by Elif Safak; ORANGE JANUARY; L/L, 2013; (4 1/2*)

Redigeret: sep 16, 2015, 2:15pm

(a wintery February day near Leavonworth, Washington)


This is the month that I typically catch up on any ARC/ER books that I have put off. Also I tend to read a lot of library books in February & March. Don't know why.......... I just seem to do that a couple of times a year.

11. Ruby by Cynthia Bond; ARC/ER; (3 1/2*)
12. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou; ROOT; (4*)
13. Gather Together In My Name by Maya Angelou; ROOT; (4*)
14. Singin' & Swingin' & Gettin' Merry Like Christmas by Maya Angelou; ROOT; (4*)
15 The Heart of A Woman by Maya Angelou; ROOT; (4*)
16. All God's Children Need Travelling Shoes by Maya Angelou; ROOT; (4*)
17. A Song Flung Up to Heaven by Maya Angelou; ROOT; (4*)
18. Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou; ROOT; (4 1/2*)
19. Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now by Maya Angelou; ROOT; (4*)
20. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante; (4*)
21. Impunity Jane by Rumer Godden; Y/A; (4*)
22. Miss Happiness and Miss Flower by Rumer Godden; Y/A; (4 1/2*)
23. Elsewhere: A Memoir by Richard Russo; (4 1/2*)
24. The Valiant Chatti-maker by Rumer Godden; Y/A; (4*)
25. Good Behaviour by Molly Keane; VMC, in memory of englishrose60; ROOT, {acquired 8/16/2012}; (4 1/2*)

Lost in the Forest by Sue Miller; Orange L/L, 2006; ROOT, {acquired 9/23/2008}; (3 1/2*)

feb 2, 2015, 9:42pm

#28 Another book bullet ?? Thanks !?

Redigeret: maj 16, 2015, 6:47pm

11. Ruby by Cynthia Bond; ARC/ER; (3 1/2*)

Ruby is a book that is devastating, wonderfully written, and for this reader well worth the read. It was tragic and powerful at the same time.
The son of a preacher, Ephraim has been in love with Ruby for most of his life. Ruby was once the town beauty but when she returns from New York City she falls into a life of horrors which she thought she had left far behind.
As the story moves forward the reader learns the dark secrets hidden in small-town life. Ruby and Ephraim attempt to find comfort within one another.
This is not a book for the weak of heart. There are parts of it that are devastating, including child rape. Can there be redemption from a life of horror? The author's words ask tough questions and the argument goes back and forth between 1940s and the 1970s. This reader found the climax of the story to be devastating but I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to read Ruby. It quite took my breath away.
I do not recommend this book to those who are faint of heart.

Redigeret: feb 15, 2015, 1:30pm

I am sticking to my guns and reading a lot less this year. Gauging by January reads I will probably average 6 to 10 books per month. My family is happy and I am feeling a bit more relaxed. Though it is funny.......if I get stressed, the first thing I do is grab a book & head for the bedroom. However I am more engaged with hubby and family and that is my goal. So success is at hand.

feb 6, 2015, 6:36pm

Burial Rites was also my top read last year. Like you, I thought it was close to perfect. The author is a wonderful speaker as well. I heard her on TV speaking at a writer's festival in South Australia, she told the best stories! And thank you for reminding me of Ursula Under. Although you weren't blown away by it, I remember reading it and loving it at the time. Ruby sounds interesting. I love a good dark small town story :O) On to the wishlist it goes.

feb 8, 2015, 4:47pm

Judy, it does kind of suck however, to feel in your bones that the third book of the year is going to be the best book of the year!
later babe,

Redigeret: maj 16, 2015, 6:48pm

12. I know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou; ROOT; (4*)

Written in such lyrical language, this is a very powerful story. It explains much about the end of the segregation era. Angelou rises to heights unreachable by other autobiographical writers.
It is a wonderful story telling of life as Black woman supported by family and dismissed by society. She warns of future times that may present the same challenges.

Redigeret: maj 16, 2015, 6:48pm

13. Gather Together in My Name by Maya Angelou; {acquired 08/14/2013}; (4*)

I sincerely enjoyed this book. For a person to be able to express true & real human emotions through simple words is so moving. I was truly moved by Gather Together in My Name and its realistic approach to the rawness of human emotions. This book will lift you up even as you learn about the true human condition.

Redigeret: maj 16, 2015, 6:48pm

14. Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas by Maya Angelou; {acquired 08/22/2013}; (4*)

I thought the book very interesting especially in the beginning and the end. I like the way it started out. She was shy about her entertainment career. She entertained many with her song and dance. And that is not how many of us see Maya Angelou.
At the end of the book the story becomes very dramatic as to the fact that she was about to kill herself and her son because her life wasn't going the way she wanted it. The white community despised her and couldn't accept the person that she was. This book really caught me in it's headlights. I highly recommend it.

Redigeret: maj 16, 2015, 6:49pm

15. The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou; {acquired 10/12/2007}; (4*)

This book is wonderfully inspiring for women. Maya Angelou had many obstacles to overcome in her life and not one stopped her. She has done so much in her life and this book takes you through a glimpse of it. It is an amazing journey and well worth the read.

Redigeret: maj 16, 2015, 6:49pm

16. All God's Children Need Travelling Shoes by Maya Angelou; {acquired 08/28/2009}; (4*)

Maya Angelou has 6 volumes of her autobiography books out and this is #5.
All God's Children Need Travelling Shoes is a very well written piece, as are all of her works. It is informative, colorful, interesting, full of bigger than life characters and small events that color the book and seem large.
She wrote this volume about her time in Ghana, when she "wanted to go home" to Africa. It is rich in detail, rich in friendships, and I love her descriptive phrasing in this book.
She took her 17 year old son and moved to Ghana planning to stay. It didn't turn out that way but the story of her stay there is very interesting and I enjoyed this work of hers very much. It helped me to understand the woman she has become. However, I would probably only recommend it to loyal fans of Angelou.

Redigeret: maj 16, 2015, 6:49pm

17. A Song Flung Up to Heaven by Maya Angelou; {acquired 08/08/2009}; (4*)

This is a great quick read for anyone interested in Maya Angelou and the Civil Rights Movement. The book gives an insight into what life was like for Maya while she struggled through the loss of her close friends and fellow civil rights activists, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. This book was written in a way that makes it seem as if she is sitting with you telling you about her life.
This book is for anyone who is interested in reading about the civil rights movement from the perspective of someone who lived through it. The only disappointment I found about the book is how short it is. I would have liked for the book to cover a longer period of time in Maya's life. But overall this is a book that I can highly recommend.

Redigeret: maj 16, 2015, 6:50pm

18. Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou; ROOT; (4 1/2*)

What a lovely way to remember what is important to focus on in life. I love Maya Angelou and her words can guide any lost soul through the storm of life.

Redigeret: maj 16, 2015, 6:50pm

19. Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now by Maya Angelou; ROOT; (4*)

A treasure of a book filled with the lessons of life.

feb 20, 2015, 2:12pm

Wow, you've been on an Angelou binge, haven't you? She took me that way when I discovered her years ago...I think I read three of her books back to back. And at the time, I had never heard her speak, so that wonderful voice of hers wasn't in my head. I need to fill in with the last couple autobiographies she wrote.

feb 21, 2015, 1:55am

>44 laytonwoman3rd::
I have been on a binge. Sick in bed, I found they quite suited. They are well worth the time to read. She wrote so beautifully and it is sad to know that her voice is now stilled & no longer with us.

Redigeret: maj 16, 2015, 6:50pm

20. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante; (4*)

This proved to be an entertaining summer read in the midst of winter. Ferrante presents wonderfully complex characters and provides an intimate view of the characters in this coming of age story.
My Brilliant Friend is the story of two girls, Lila and Elena, in Naples during the 50's. The book spans their friendship from first grade to age 16.
With great detail Elena Ferrante portrays life in a Naples working class neighborhood with all of the kids coming of age. We read of the troubles in families and of neighborhood feuds. Social hierarchy and family status is set by occupations amongst the neighbors. Railroad worker, porter, shoemaker, pharmacist, fruit and vegetable grocer, baker and more are portrayed in this study of the human character.
Weddings are an opportunity for the families to splurge extending themselves beyond economic reasonableness for wedding preparations, clothing, and gifts. Education plays a key role in the book and sets the path of life choices for some of the young characters.
The protagonists, Elena, and Lila are brilliant girls. Opportunities and choices carve divergent paths for them and adolescence separates them more as they both struggle to fit into their world. One will find a way to fit in and the other will stands half in and half out of the world of plebs.
I am looking forward to the second in this series of three books.

Redigeret: maj 16, 2015, 6:51pm

21. Impunity Jane by Rumer Godden; (4*)

I love Rumer Godden, anything Rumer Godden and this children's book is no exception.
Impunity Jane is a pocket doll who goes through generations of belonging to little girls with a doll house and she sits and waits in the doll house for some kind of exciting life to come to her. With each new owner she attempts to communicate this desire but none of the little girls hear or feel her.
One day after many generations of little girls a boy comes to play with the current little girl who owns Impunity Jane. He hears & feels the needs of this little pocket doll so he takes her, stuffs her in his pocket and when he leaves, she goes with. He has all sorts of adventures and so, of course, does Impunity Jane. The little pocket doll is thrilled to say the least.
This is a charming little story.

Redigeret: sep 16, 2015, 2:16pm

22. Miss Happiness and Miss Flower by Rumer Godden; (4 1/2*)

I loved this little Y/A story about two little Japanese dolls sent from a great aunt to her great nieces in England.
The family have taken in a niece of their own from India to raise along with their own four children. She is a very unhappy little girl until the little Japanese dolls arrive. Then she becomes so enamoured of them and so attuned to them that she wants to make them happy by building them a traditional Japanese home with gardens and all. She gets books from a shop that tells about the architecture of the Japanese home and along with the one boy in the household, the man from the bookshop, the mother of a friend from school and the family she builds the little dolls a home and as she does, she becomes a happier little girl.
This story is absolutely charming and the hardback book I read has all of the plans, etc. for the house in the back along with the notes. A 'child' of any age would adore to read this book.

Redigeret: maj 16, 2015, 6:51pm

23. Elsewhere: A Memoir by Richard Russo; (4 1/2*)

After his mother's passing Russo wrote the memoir that focused primarily on his lifelong relationship with his mother. The story is low key as the author reflects upon his mother's puzzling behaviors during his childhood while he watched her quickly alternate from a depressed state to that of being intense and manic. He relives the confusion that riddled his entire childhood and early adult years through this narrative. The story is slow paced and unravels gradually.
Although the mystique of his mother's tendencies was hidden from the author for most of his life the behaviors of her are spelled out in detail during the memoir. The strong family bonds that were formed between the author and his mother provide a backdrop for the threads of this family's life struggle to survive, prosper and to be 'normal'. Their sense of love and loyalty is felt throughout the memoir.
This is an excellent example of how mental illness can affect the emotional development of children. Especially when the children absorb too much of the responsibility that is entailed in caring for a parent. I don't wish to give away details but suffice it to say that Russo writes by recounting his memories before he became aware of the complexities of his mother's behaviors.
The writing is not compact enough to create emotional tension but it does convey the idea that something is amiss. The reader will not know what it is exactly until the book is completed. The story is a personal narrative by a Pulitzer Prize winning author and will be especially revealing for any one who has dealt with similar issues.

This one hit so close to home with me. At times I thought I was looking into a mirror. Highly recommended.

Redigeret: feb 28, 2015, 2:16pm

23. The Valiant Chatti-maker by Rumer Godden; Y/A; (4*)

This is the tale of a most improbable hero, the maker of pots or chatti as they were called in the time of the British Raj.
There is a tiger on the loose outside the Palace walls where the small village lies. He is feeding on the stock of the villagers. The villagers go to the Raj and ask him to deal with the tiger but as he does with so many things the Raj puts them off.
The little pot maker likes to make his last delivery of the the day to the seller of spirits who pays him in drink. On the night of a most terrible storm with torrential rains, thunder & lightening, the chatti-maker drinks a great deal. His little donkey tires of waiting & in fear of the storm, breaks away & scurries home on his own leaving his owner to make his way home alone.
Later as the little chatti-maker drunkenly arrives at home he finds what he thinks is his donkey tied in his usual place, beats him and wraps him in a net. The next morning all of the village, including the Raj in the Palace, see the little pot maker as a hero and bestow all kinds of riches & goods upon him.
There are a great many more accidental heroic events committed by the little guy. You will need to read the book to learn of all of them.
Another great tale by Rumer Godden. Highly recommended.

Redigeret: sep 16, 2015, 2:16pm


(a wintery February day near Leavonworth, Washington)

11. Ruby by Cynthia Bond; ARC/ER; (3 1/2*)
12. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou; ROOT; (4*)
13. Gather Together In My Name by Maya Angelou; ROOT; (4*)
14. Singin' & Swingin' & Gettin' Merry Like Christmas by Maya Angelou; ROOT; (4*)
15. The Heart of A Woman by Maya Angelou; ROOT; (4*)
16. All God's Children Need Travelling Shoes by Maya Angelou; ROOT; (4*)
17. A Song Flung Up to Heaven by Maya Angelou; ROOT; (4*)
18. Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou; ROOT; (4 1/2*)
19. Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now by Maya Angelou; ROOT; (4*)
20. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante; (4*)
21. Impunity Jane by Rumer Godden; Y/A; (4*)
22. Miss Happiness and Miss Flower by Rumer Godden; Y/A; (4 1/2*)
23. Elsewhere: A Memoir by Richard Russo; (4 1/2*)
24. The Valiant Chatti-maker by Rumer Godden; Y/A; (4*)

Lost in the Forest by Sue Miller; Orange L/L, 2006; (3 1/2*)

I guess it proved to be a Maya Angelou & Rumer Godden month for me with a couple of others thrown in.

Redigeret: maj 16, 2015, 7:19pm


25. The Far Cry by Emma Smith; VMC 2015 Theme Read: The Seven Ages of Women: Coming of Age; (4*)
26. Good Behaviour by Molly Keane; VMC, in memory of englishrose60, chosen from her library; ROOT, {acquired 08/16/2012}; (4 1/2*)
27. Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende; ROOT, {acquired 5/09/2013}; (4*)
28. No More Than Human by Maura Laverty; VMC 2015 Theme Read: The Seven Ages of Women: Coming of Age; ROOT, {acquired 05/21/2013}; (4*)
29. Nora: The Real Life of Molly Bloom by Brenda Maddox; (3 1/2*)

A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie; S/L, 2015; (5*)

mar 1, 2015, 5:08pm

Great review of Elsewhere. It's been on my list for a good long while and maybe this is the nudge I need.

Redigeret: maj 16, 2015, 6:54pm

25. The Far Cry by Emma Smith; Persephone; ROOT; {acquired 02/01/2013}; (4*)

The Far Cry is a very understated book and I assume underrated and not read expansively. While reading it I had moments where I thought that way, but this book, when completed & returned to the shelves, clings to the mind of the reader and I found myself in such contemplation of it that I was unable to pick up another book for a time.
The story is of a young girl who is uprooted by her father from an unhappy existence with her aunt in England and taken to India by boat and train to the home of her half sister. It turns out to be an arduous journey but there are adventures to be had for the girl and she finds herself enjoying India.
Once they arrive at the sister's home on a Tea Plantation the young girl finds her sister to be very ambivalent whereas she was expecting to be welcomed with open arms. But she is used to such treatment from her aunt and she adjusts. They have a few good times but the story-line is much more about what each of them is thinking and feeling.
This is a difficult one to explain for as I read the book I felt at time rather ambivalent but once having completed it, the book takes on a whole new look and fresh thoughts.
The next time I read this one I will read it with a contemplative mind rather than expecting a plot driven story. On those terms I highly recommend it.

I am very curious now to read another by the same author.

Redigeret: maj 16, 2015, 6:54pm

26. Good Behaviour by Molly Keane; VMC, in memory of englishrose60, chosen from her library; ROOT; {acquired 08/16/2012}; (4 1/2*)

Good Behaviour is a very well written book. It is a dark comedy of manners which is narrated by a totally unreliable narrator, the almost delusional and pitiful daughter of the house, Aroon. It is Keane’s great strength that she can give us a tale told by a tall, heavy daughter of privilege which is completely misinterpreted by the narrator but is clear and sad to the reader. In the end Aroon wants what all humans want which is to love and be loved. Unfortunately, she has a mother who is cold as ice, a father who hunts and shoots six days a week and does not attend properly to the dwindling family fortune and a handsome, charming, & intelligent brother whose sexual orientation is obvious to the reader and yet is completely missed by Aroon.
Yet Aroon is not completely unaware. The chapter where she goes to the grand holiday party of wealthy neighbors demonstrates that Aroon can read many social cues quite well. There is a central significant tragedy and loss in the first half of the book that the reader will recognize as the most tragic loss of Aroon’s life. This loss is central to Aroon’s later life but somehow she never comes to grips with the gravity of this loss upon her family, a family with good behavior, and thus the inability to grieve. How does someone who is unattractive and is never nurtured by her parents make it through life? Keane portrays Aroon as taking every tiny bit of affection or regard and expanding it in her mind as meaningful. This romantic illusion keeps her going. Whereas this can be comic, it is dark comedy, carefully constructed and revealed bit by bit, but a tragedy nevertheless.
Highly recommended to those who do not feel the need for a lot of action to embellish their reading material.

Redigeret: maj 16, 2015, 6:54pm

27. Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende; ROOT, {acquired 5/09/2013}; (4*)

Island Beneath the Sea is set in the late 18th century on the island of Saint Dominique. The book focuses on a plantation owner, Toulouse Valmorain, and his slave Zarite, with whom he develops an interesting relationship. This book started rather slowly, but in true Allende fashion it quickly became very interesting. Toulouse Valmorain is dissatisfied with everything. He got dragged out to the island from Paris at the age of 20 when his father died. He had married a young woman named Eugenia, who over the years was driven mad with events of the island and the madness which ran in her family.
Valmorain began to rely more and more on Zarite. There is the 'typical' relationship of female slave and male master between them but there is also something else. Toulouse genuinely cares about Zarite though he is often unkind to her and he certainly couldn't do without her.
The story is set on the Caribbean Island of Saint Dominque which eventually becomes Haiti. The island is rich with sugar cane. On the one hand it's very beautiful and the whites live in big mansions but on the other hand field slaves must do backbreaking work all day long in the cane fields under the heat of the sun. Two very different worlds on the same island.
Island Beneath the Sea is also about the brutal revolution which changed the rule of the island and after long years of horrors it became Haiti. Most whites were very cruel towards their slaves. But when the slaves rose up they were just as cruel toward whites.
As with everything Isabel Allende writes, the characters in Island Beneath the Sea are developed so the reader is enabled to envision images in of their persona, their dress, their day to day lives, their world and the people around them. These characters bring to life a world often foreign to anything the reader has ever experienced. Allende has a gift for bringing this to her writing.
While the book is mostly written in the third person, specific chapters switch to the first person perspective from the main character which brings even more life to the story. But this reader found this book to be more than a story. I found it to be very well researched and the events that occurred seemed accurate for the place and time in which this story is set.

Redigeret: maj 16, 2015, 6:55pm

28. No More Than Human by Maura Laverty; VMC 2015 Theme Read: The Seven Ages of Women: Coming of Age; ROOT, {acquired 05/21/2013}; (4*)

There's an engaging buoyancy to these experiences of a young Irish girl in the rigid, double standard milieu of Spain of the 1920s. A naive untutored young lady under eighteen, Delia Scully of Ballyderrig, arrives as a governess in a wealthy Spanish household where she quickly learns the loneliness and humiliations of the imported spinster governesses. Not without spirit and impetuosity, she loses two posts over Rafael, a handsome Spaniard, a cigarette and a red bathing suit. She is branded in the profession and decides to give lessons instead and then works her way up to an office position. She loses her heart to Rafael who does not have marriage in mind but wants her as his mistress. She then becomes engaged to a Hungarian but before the wedding she returns to Ireland to see her family and finds that all along she has been confusing herself.
Exuberance, humor & charm, this book has them all, and was a very enjoyable read for me.

Redigeret: maj 19, 2015, 3:11pm

29. Nora: The Real Life of Molly Bloom by Brenda Maddox; (3 1/2*)

I found this to be a fascinating peek into the personal life of the writer James Joyce and his wife Nora, who was also his muse. A lot of passion is to be found and a lot of quirkiness. A side of Joyce I had never thought to read about. I liked the book and found it quite interesting.

Redigeret: maj 16, 2015, 7:28pm


25. The Far Cry by Emma Smith; VMC 2015 Theme Read: The Seven Ages of Women: Coming of Age; (4*)
26. Good Behaviour by Molly Keane; VMC, in memory of englishrose60, chosen from her library; ROOT, {acquired 08/16/2012}; (4 1/2*)
27. Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende; ROOT, {acquired 5/09/2013}; (4*)
28. No More Than Human by Maura Laverty; VMC 2015 Theme Read: The Seven Ages of Women: Coming of Age; ROOT, {acquired 05/21/2013}; (4*)
29. Nora: The Real Life of Molly Bloom by Brenda Maddox; (3 1/2*), library book

A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie; S/L, 2015; (5*)
(listed in April)

Redigeret: sep 16, 2015, 2:17pm

30. Broadchurch by Erin Kelly; (4 1/2*)
31. Gently Go Man by Alan Hunter; (2 1/2*)
32. The Jewel in the Crown by Paul Scott; (5*)
33. The Guards by Ken Bruen; (2*)
34. A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie; Orange/Baileys S/L, 2015; (5*) (a March read)
35. The Bees by Laline Paull; Orange/Baileys S/L, 2015; (4 1/2*)

Redigeret: maj 16, 2015, 6:57pm

30. Broadchurch by Erin Kelly; (4 1/2*)

This suspenseful mystery takes place on a small coastal island in England. It is the story of a little boy found murdered on the beach at the base of a cliff and the following investigation. The community is abound with suspects and no one trusts anyone. The main characters are the Detective Inspector and the Detective Sergeant on the case.
The book is a real page-turner. I think the author did a very fine job of this one. Very fine indeed.
I was unable to put the book down. It kept me guessing throughout. I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy suspense and mystery novels.

Redigeret: maj 16, 2015, 6:57pm

31. Gently Go Man by Alan Hunter; (2 1/2*)

This is an interesting little mystery in the George Gently series. A quick read, it covers several murders and uncovers several corrupt cops. Another seaside mystery.

apr 12, 2015, 6:16pm

Enjoyed your review of Broadchurch. I watched the TV adaptation and hadn't realized it was based on a book. I'm not much for modern crime/mystery books, but I'll pass it on to my mom who always needs new mysteries.

Redigeret: maj 16, 2015, 6:57pm

32. The Jewel in the Crown by Paul Scott; (5*)

"The Jewel in the Crown", the first of The Raj Quartet, is a novel that takes place primarily in British-controlled India in the 1940s. The central story is that of a young British woman named Daphne Manners who is living in Mayapore, a fictional Indian town. Daphne falls in love with an Indian man named Hari Kumar, who was raised in England but returned upon the death of his father. Their relationship is controversial in the small town where the Europeans, Indians, and those of mixed race are all segregated into separate parts of town.
Daphne and Hari meet one night in a secluded park called the Bibighar Gardens where they make love for the first time. Afterward they are attacked by a group of drunken Indian thugs. Hari is tied up and Daphne is raped.
Fearing Hari will be blamed for the rape Daphne makes him promise to say nothing about being with her in the gardens. He is later arrested along with some other young men by Ronald Merrick, a British police superintendent, who has designs on Daphne himself. Hari says nothing in his own defense except that he was not at the gardens that night. Daphne refuses to cooperate in identifying the other young men in fear of implicating Hari.
With no strong evidence the rape charges are dropped against Hari and the others but they are found guilty of political crimes against the British occupation and sent to prison. Daphne and Hari never see each other again. She becomes pregnant after the night in the garden and later dies in childbirth.
It is a time of political unrest in India. The British have promised to leave India to govern itself for many years, but when World War II breaks out Britain fears that the Japanese will invade India if they leave. Indian leaders like Mahatma Gandhi call for the British to leave and the British administrative and military establishment actively try to suppress any unrest in the towns.
It is against the backdrop of a short period of public protest and unrest that most of the events of The Jewel in the Crown take place. The tensions between the native Indian population of the town and the British civil and military authorities are high. Political, racial and religious differences create a dangerous and uncertain environment when the long standing traditions of British rule begin to unravel.
The novel is written in several episodes and Scott frequently changes the point of view, letting the same story be told through the eyes of different characters. Events are not presented in strict chronological order, and the actual facts of what happens on the night of Daphne's rape are not revealed until the final pages.

I loved this book and was enthralled by the writing style of Scott. I liked how he grew his characters and was fascinated by even the ones I came to hate, specifically Merrick. But reader beware: the reading of this book may just cause you to fall in love with India as it did me. I am looking forward to reading the other 3 books in The Raj Quartet.

Redigeret: maj 16, 2015, 6:58pm

33. The Guards by Ken Bruen; (2*)

A Jack Taylor mystery with few props. I won't stick around for the others.

Redigeret: maj 16, 2015, 6:58pm

34. A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie; Orange/Baileys S/L, 2015; (5*)

Stretching from the ancient Persian Empire to the waning days of the British Empire, this novel has an enormous span that immediately captured this reader.
It begins on the eve of World War I, with Vivian Rose, a young British archaeologist on a dig in Turkey with an old family friend, a Turkish man, Bey. He is searching for an artifact from the earliest days of the Persian Empire, a silver circlet once belonging to an early Persian king, which Alexander the Great himself supposedly carried to India. Vivian falls in love with both man and profession and becomes smitten with every part of this foreign world.
As the war overtakes such civilized practices as archaeology, Vivian returns to England never to see Bey again. Years later she travels east again, this time to the Peshawar Valley as an independent new woman but inside she is still on a quest for the circlet that had so obsessed the man she had loved. Her vision is still deeply bound to the landscape and the light of India.
On her long train ride through this fabled territory she encounters Qayyum Gul, a young Muslim man from Peshawar. He is a soldier of the English Crown, who lost an eye in combat at Ypres. She was the nurse who gave him a cloth in which to keep his glass eye but they do not remember one another from those days.Both Qayyum and his mountainous home become part of Vivian's life as does his younger brother Najeeb.
Najeeb becomes an archaeologist and one of the directors of a small museum in Peshawar. In the spirit of E.M. Forster and his own attempt at fusing east and west in A Passage to India, Shamsie portrays Najeeb as the successor to the Englishwoman's vision of the region. The past has its glories and its beautiful images.
Meanwhile, in the novel's present-day Peshawar, tension between the occupying English and the militant Indians, Hindu and Muslim, grows more menacing by the day. But even as disaster looms, so does our fascination with these characters. — the possibility that British forces may massacre peacefully demonstrating civilians — seems imminent, our empathy for the Gul brothers and their civilized British friend grows. As does the novel's breadth.
From the far distant past of the Persian Empire to the British massacre in Peshawar, we can see the outline of that ancient circlet boldly portrayed, representing a bond between times and peoples that brings to mind Forster's famous edict about linking people, places, histories: "Only connect." In this way, Najeeb looks at the circlet and sees "a greeting across centuries."

I highly recommend this novel to anyone who, as I do, has a fascination with the time of the Raj or Indian history. I love the storyline, the way it was written (though if it had one falldown that would be it), the characters and most everything about it. I will be reading more of her work.

Redigeret: sep 16, 2015, 2:18pm

35. The Bees by Laline Paull; Orange/Baileys S/L, 2015; (4 1/2*)

I read this one in bed in two nights. What a fascinating read. I was enchanted by the storytelling and the characters of the bees.
The only thing I can find myself comparing this book to is the movie Bugs and I loved it even more.
The Bees is a very nicely done bit of fiction on the life of the hive and all of the workers & the queen therein. I loved reading about the hierarchy of the hive and all of the different jobs of the workers told in the voice of a sanitation worker. I realize that this is a work of fiction but it has spurred me on to find a good nonfiction book on bees.
I can definitely see why this one is on the short list for the Bailey's Women's Fiction prize.

Redigeret: sep 16, 2015, 2:18pm


30. Broadchurch by Erin Kelly; (4 1/2*)
31. Gently Go Man by Alan Hunter; (2 1/2*)
32. The Jewel in the Crown by Paul Scott; (5*)
33. The Guards by Ken Bruen; (2*)
34. A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie; Orange/Baileys S/L, 2015; (5*); (for March)
35. The Bees by Laline Paull; Orange/Baileys S/L, 2015; (4 1/2*)

Redigeret: sep 16, 2015, 2:19pm

36. The World Below by Sue Miller; ROOT, {acquired 03/26/2010}; (4 1/2*)
37. The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye; BFB, 1191 pages; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (4 1/2*)
38. Night by Elie Wiesel; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (5*)
39. The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter; ARC/ER; (1 1/2*)
40. Lost in the Forest by Sue Miller; Orange L/L, 2006; ROOT, {acquired 09/23/2008}; (3 1/2*); (for February)
41. Outline by Rachel Cusk; Orange/Baileys S/L 2015; (1 1/2*); library
42. Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey; Orange/Baileys L/L 2015; (2*); library
43. Dear Thief by Samantha Harvey; Orange/Baileys, L/L 2015; (2 1/2*); library
44. Spinsters by Pagan Kennedy; Orange S/L 1996; (2 1/2*)
45. How to be Both by Ali Smith; Orange S/L 2015; (1 1/2*); library

46. The Meeting Place by Mary Hocking; (4 1/2*)

Redigeret: maj 16, 2015, 7:36pm

36. The World Below by Sue Miller; ROOT, {acquired 03/26/2010}; (4 1/2*)

The World Below was nearly perfection for me. I was unable to put it down. It is a multigenerational story about of the women in a family, namely the grandmother and granddaughter. But all of the rest of them do come into the story with their important bits as well.
While the book may be short on plot it is full of small rich moments which make the reader sit up and take note. So many identifiable moments in a life are gorgeously painted in the exquisite language of this book. The honesty with which failed relationships are described, new relationships are considered, children's hurts are borne, parents mistakes are repeated; all are beautifully illustrated in Miller's simple tale of two generations of women looking at their lives. Her small ephipanies are delivered so subtly and unadorned that sometimes the reader does not know what has hit him. This is quite a lovely thing to find in a quiet book.
I was especially taken with the love story of Georgia, the grandmother, and her doctor husband. If I had one criticism of the book it would be to say that I found the story of Georgia and Seward's romance at the sanitorium rather flat. I felt no passion in their relationship and thought the book would have been better without it. On the other hand I found Georgia's and her husband's relationship to be tender, painful, very real and beautiful.
Once again Sue Miller has taken me away and outside of myself. A beautifully written book, as I find all of Miller's to be.

Redigeret: sep 16, 2015, 2:19pm

37. The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye; BFB, 1191 pages; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (4 1/2*)

This is an amazing read. The tale follows the life of Ashton also known as Ashok, a man who straddles several cultures in nineteenth-century India. He is the son of aristocratic English parents and is born in the hills of India. His mother dies at his birth and his father dies a few years later of cholera. He is raised by his Hindi nursemaid who raises him as her son to protect him when revolution breaks out.
The child grows up as a servant in the royal palace of the small kingdom of Gulkote, near the Himalayan mountains, ie: The Far Pavilions. He develops a special friendship with Anjuli, the out-of-favor daughter of the Raj, whose mother died and was supplanted by a dangerous schemer. Anjuli and Ashok tell each other magical stories and dream daydreams together when they can get away. These stories and dreams help sustain them through the cruel intrigues of the royal court.
When those intrigues almost cost Ash his life he is smuggled out of Gulkote and returned to England to claim his birthright, only returning many years later as an adult in the Royal army. With his special understanding of the cultures, his command of so many languages and perspectives of India, he still finds his birth culture alien and insensitive, and he discovers that perhaps nothing can stop the revolutionary movements that are battling more and more violently against the rule of the British Raj.
A chance assignment reunites him with Anjuli, now a grown woman who has managed to survive the intrigues of the court. Ultimately, as India ignites around them, they will have to flee together to seek out the kingdom of their childhood dreams, but the journey along the way is memorable, astonishing, and will keep you awake into the night reading this marvelous book.
Kaye's story is vivid, detailed and very well researched that's made all the more accurate by the fact that Kaye herself was born in India and educated in England. The story actually derives from a tale she heard in India of a strange wedding. When she found the diary of an English officer who had been involved in the real life incident she realized she had the makings of a fascinating story. It's a rare writer who can take such a story and weave it into something this epic and beautiful and not to be missed. It is a wonderful adventure and I was sorry when it came to an end. There was not one part of the book that I was not fascinated by; so many details of a world unknown to me.

Redigeret: jul 20, 2015, 3:29pm

38. Night by Elie Wiesel; ROOT, {acquired prior to LT); (5*)

I knew that Elie Wiesel's Night was was not going to be a happy book. That is a given considering the subject matter. I was surprised at the total lack of optimism found within it though I find it understandable.
I have read many other Holocaust memoirs which end with an uplifting light and I think I was more surprised at those endings than this one.
The foreward makes it clear that this novel illustrates both the literal death and the death of faith in those interned in concentration camps. These people are forced through their extreme deprivation to live for no one but themselves because to do else is to hasten their own death.
The bleakness is so difficult to accept but it is reflective of the feelings experienced by the author. This book itself serves as the author's answer to experiences and reflections within it's covers. A chronicle of sorrow so deep it speaks for itself. Any explicit solace written for the reader would take away from the story and is not needed for it would take away for the experience of the book.
And though this is a chilling account of the Holocaust it is such an important little book. Children are reading this for school and I am so thankful that it is written in a manner which makes it easy for them to understand the memories being shared. It's all there. In fact I read this on the recommendation of my grandson who read it for a class. And though I have read many, many books on this subject matter, none were written as simplistically as Night. I think it is all the more powerful for that.

I highly recommended recommend this book.

Redigeret: maj 16, 2015, 7:37pm

39. The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter; ARC/ER; (1 1/2*)

Fifteen year old Jane is caring for the five year old Lily out on the trails where the youngster's father is gathering botanical samples of plants and such. Lily disappears and is never found.
Jump ahead to a thirty five year old Jane working in a London museum which is in the process of selling off it's valuables and artifacts and closing its doors. She flees London and returns to the village from whence Lily disappeared.
Jane has a project she has worked on for many years. She learned of a woman identified only as 'N' who disappeared from an asylum in the late 1800s with two men. The men returned but the woman was not with them and at this juncture the reader does not know who she is nor what happened to her.
Jane's story in the present alternates with the Victorian story told by a series of disembodied Victorian voices that surround her.
The book just felt incomplete to this reader and also very easy to lose interest in. There are simply too many things unresolved. The central query of what happened to 'N' is resolved but still in the end I felt unsettled and unsatisfied with the read. It seemed very disjointed to me as did the 'voices'.

Redigeret: jul 8, 2015, 6:23pm


40. Lost in the Forest by Sue Miller; Orange L/L, 2006;
(3 1/2*); ROOT, {acquired 09/23/2008}

I thought this to be a brilliant novel in many ways. It's also frightening in that it begins with a with the death of a husband and parent. Miller wrote this first part so well that I physically felt an unrelenting sense of doom.

The novel is set in the wine country of the Napa Valley in California of the 1980s. The story is drawn against the this backdrop. The stories within the novel are written exquisitely and lives are lived and torn apart. I thought the book to be quite good but in the end it got away from the author in a way that was disheartening for this reader but I find Sue Miller's books always worth the read.

Redigeret: maj 25, 2015, 4:21pm

41. Outline by Rachel Cusk; Orange/Baileys S/L 2015; (1 1/2*)

no review, just my thoughts and comments:

While Cusk's writing is very good this book felt like an opportunity for her to attempt an experimental writing style. It's body consists of a series of conversations, with the only links being the narrator and Greece, where most of the 'novel' takes place. There is no story nor is there a plot and I guess I favor plot driven novels.

The book could not hold my interest. I thought there were too many uninspired thoughts to pull it together and lastly I guess I just didn't like it.

Redigeret: maj 25, 2015, 5:14pm

42. Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey; Orange/Baileys L/L 2015; (2*)

no review, just my thoughts and comments:

Thought to be brilliant, this book just did not work for me.
I was unable to stay in the story/narrative. I found no interest, no fascination and no curiosity. My brain must be dead.

Though a very interesting and timely premise (I am a 67 year old woman with a 97 year old mother who suffers from dementia) yet I could barely get through it. I found it extremely slow going. For me the concept was better than the execution. Certainly the pace and writing mirrored the internal life of the protagonist. Slow, frustrating, and confusing. The book quickly became tiresome for me.

Redigeret: maj 25, 2015, 5:12pm

43. Dear Thief by Samantha Harvey; Orange/Baileys L/L 2015; (2 1/2*)

no review; just my thoughts & comments:

I gave this book 2 1/2 stars for the writing, which I thought lovely.
But here again, I have chosen a book (3 in a row) to read that is not plot driven but instead a letter to an old friend. I engaged with the beginning of the book but lost any bond between myself and the narrative about a third of the way through. From that point on I simply felt as if I was flailing in the River Thames where our protagonist found the beautiful bones.
Perhaps I will revisit these books again one day. My head is just not in the right place for this type of book at this time.

Redigeret: maj 27, 2015, 9:49pm

44. Spinsters by Pagan Kennedy; Orange S/L 1996; (2 1/2*)

Spinsters is a story about two single sisters in their thirties who head out on a road trip after the death of their father who had suffered a lingering illness.
Being used to caring for him, it takes them a few days to shake off the feeling of freedom and the knowledge that their time is their own. It is a short and simple story that reads well and easily but is nothing to write home about. I did find it to be a good and a comfortable book to curl up with.

Redigeret: maj 27, 2015, 9:40pm

45. How to be Both by Ali Smith; Orange S/L 2015; (1 1/2*)

I will give this one 1 1/2 stars for originality. How to be Both perhaps put more words on the written page that seemed to be there for the benefit of the author's psyche than for the/this reader but talk about strange................ This book felt & read so strangely for me.
I know a lot of readers thrilled to this book and indeed at the beginning it comes off charming and fresh but it quickly became overly wordy and boring. I can see what would draw some readers in but I was not one of them. The duel nature of the novel could have been fascinating but I didn't find it so in this case though I can understand how some would love it. For me, it was a waste of my precious reading time.

maj 27, 2015, 9:47pm

I must say that I have never felt more illiterate or more unintellectual than while reading this year's Orange/Baileys listed books. While I do have many more to read, after reading six of them with four of them being short listed, I have found only 2 of them to be worthy contenders. Most of them have felt like experiments in writing.

maj 27, 2015, 11:16pm

That's too bad about so many dud-books in a row. Hope you have an all-star read soon!

maj 28, 2015, 12:12am

Thank you Meredith. I appreciate the encouragement.

maj 29, 2015, 2:15pm

Finally something to write home about. I am reading and loving Mary Hocking's The Meeting Place for "Mary Hocking Reading Week hosted by HeavenAli on her blog. Much more my style.

Redigeret: jun 23, 2015, 12:41pm

46. The Meeting Place by Mary Hocking; (4 1/2*)

no review; just my thoughts & comments:

The Meeting Place: near perfection. A bit of suspense, a bit of the supernatural and a lot of comfort. Not really a book of time travel but I would say more like parallel lives of the protagonist. Like Mary Hocking’s other books I have read, I know it will be even better when I reread it.

Redigeret: jul 8, 2015, 6:08pm


46. The Meeting Place by Mary Hocking; (4 1/2*)
47. Family Circle by Mary Hocking; (5*)
(no proper touchstones for the book)

48. The Human Stain by Phillip Roth; (4*); library
49. Evening by Susan Minot; (4*); library
50. Strange Fits of Passion by Anita Shreve; (4*);
ROOT, {acquired, 9/14/2007}

Redigeret: jun 20, 2015, 6:23pm

47. Family Circle by Mary Hocking; (5*)
(no proper touchstones for the book)

no review, just my thoughts & comments:

I loved this story of a young woman who returns to a family of friends that she, as a child growing up, thought nearly perfect. As she spends more time with them and helps to bring comfort and stability to the daughter who had a nervous breakdown, she comes to realize that there is no such thing as familial perfection.
I didn't want this one to end. Very, very good.

jun 17, 2015, 1:10am

Taking a sabbatical.................................

jun 17, 2015, 3:12pm

From READING????

jun 20, 2015, 6:22pm

Pretty much......

jun 21, 2015, 6:29pm

Come back soon!

Redigeret: jul 6, 2015, 1:50pm

I have been unable to read of late but night before last something made me pick up The Human Stain and I completed it this morning as I lay in bed.

48. The Human Stain by Phillip Roth; (4*); library

With the story of Coleman Silk and the notations of the misadventures of Bill Clinton, Roth succeeds in showing us the irony of political correctness, relationships, and the impulsiveness of life. The characters in this novel are multidimensional and complex. Roth's ear for dialogue and insightful descriptions make them whole. His diction and accounts complete the world of Athens and East Orange perfectly by capturing nuances and details.
The book kept me engaged.

Redigeret: aug 22, 2015, 4:51pm

49. Evening by Susan Minot; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (5*)

I enjoyed and appreciated this novel.
It is about a woman suffering a lingering death and her transitioning out of this life. We share her thought processes as she goes through the dying stages. With her mind altering moments she wanders back to her youth and to happy times. Her focus is mainly on a young man whom she met at her best friend's wedding. They were drawn to one another by a mutual attraction and passion. But first loves rarely, if ever, last and this one is no exception. They are torn from each other but he has never left her mind nor her heart though the years have moved her through a life which many would see as fulfilling.
I had a hard time putting Evening down. I was intrigued by this deep love that never amounted to anything and yet was her most treasured memory. It was both sad and nostalgic. One never loses true love. It's always there buried in our memory, to be taken out when one needs it most as Ann does when she is dying.

jun 28, 2015, 4:46pm

Glad you've had two good books to (hopefully) get you back into reading mode!

jun 30, 2015, 5:28pm

Thank you Meredith. I think my head is back in the game as long as I choose lighter reading material. They are great for summer reads anyway. :-)

Redigeret: jul 8, 2015, 6:09pm

50. Strange Fits of Passion by Anita Shreve; ROOT, {acquired, 9/14/2007}; (4*)

Chick lit, summer read; for what it is, this book is very well done. Domestic abuse, rape, stalking, suicide, murder, romance..........it's all here. I couldn't put it down.

Redigeret: sep 16, 2015, 2:21pm


51. A Well-Tempered Heart by Jan-Philipp Sendker; (4 1/2*); library
52. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde; (4*); ROOT, {acquired 1/31/2013}
53. Star Dust by Neil Gaiman; (3 1/2*); ROOT, {acquired 9/15/2007}
54. The Wings of the Dove by Henry James; (4*); ROOT, {acquired prior to LT}; BFB, 768 pgs
55. The Last September by Elizabeth Bowen; ROOT, {acquired 3/9/2010}; (4*)
56. A Most Wanted Man by John le Carre; (4*); library
57. The Boys Are Back in Town by Simon Carr; (3 1/2*); library
58. The Nun by Denis Diderot; ROOT, {acquired prior to LT}; (2 1/2*)
59. Tracks by Robyn Davidson; (4*); library
60. My Life So Far by Denis Forman; library; also entitled Son of Adam;
61. The Physician by Noah Gordon; BFB, 768 pgs; (4 1/2*)
62. The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy; ROOT, {acquired prior to LT}; (4 1/2*)
63. Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick; Y/A; ROOT, {acquired prior to LT; (4 1/2*)
64. The Attack by Yasmina Khadra; (4*)
65. Scaredy Cat by Mark Billingham;
66. Ward Allen: Savannah River Market Hunter by Jack Cay; (3 1/2*)
67. Tainted Evidence by Robert Dailey; (2 1/2*)
68. The Royal Physician's Visit by Per Olov Enquist; (4*)
69. Tear This Heart Out by Ángeles Mastretta; (3*)

Redigeret: jul 3, 2015, 2:45pm

jul 3, 2015, 8:57pm

Our summer days are at about 109 temps these days. Wish it was more like the picture above. From Las Vegas.

jul 4, 2015, 1:31pm

Oh my goodness, swimmer. I am in Washington State on the West side and it is so dry here. Temps are hanging in there from 86 to 97 degrees. Cannot keep the house cool enough even with air. It is supposed to hit 103 on Sunday.
I found that photo very soothing in these hot days.
Hope you are reading something good and thanks for popping in.

Redigeret: jul 8, 2015, 3:17pm

51. A Well-Tempered Heart by Jan-Philipp Sendker; (4 1/2*); library

This book is simply beautifully written.
A story that describes the inner world; the soul, the capacities of people struggling with their histories and with their hearts and loves. This is a wonderful sequel to The Art of Hearing Heartbeats. I didn't want it to end.

Redigeret: jul 8, 2015, 6:05pm

52. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde; ROOT, {acquired 1/31/2013}; (4*)

The Importance of Being Earnest seems to start as a play about truth but quickly becomes a play about the false through the classical "simply a misunderstanding". The two male leads, Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, use imaginary friends they invent to avoid the boring and weekly family engagements. These imaginary friends lead to eventual confusion between them and the women they love. This misunderstanding is only half the fun though. Wilde mocks the ill portrayed English Aristocracy of the late 19th century; poking fun at not only their etiquette but also their stubborn and unpractical tendencies, their immoral behavior, and their exploitation of the lower classes. Very rarely do comedies strike to the heart of the matter and say something as meaningful as Oscar Wilde did with this great play of his.
Wilde gives new meaning to the terminology irreverence and farce.
His views on the virtues of having a satirically empty head
as written by one understanding this is the funniest I have ever read. His characterization of the English upper class as both idle and clueless most likely came very close to the truth.
But he wraps it all up happily (for most) and leaves us with a great laugh.
Well done, Wilde!

Redigeret: jul 8, 2015, 7:57pm

53. Star Dust by Neil Gaiman; ROOT, {acquired 9/15/2007}; (3 1/2*)

My first Gaiman, this story was a delightful fairytale. It is perfect for older readers and also appropriate for younger ones. I think it good for anyone looking for a good story full of fantasy and magic but compelling enough to keep older readers hooked. It's hard to find good fairytales that aren't either slow paced or childish.
I found it charming with some scary parts and can say that from my POV Stardust is a very enjoyable read.

Redigeret: jul 14, 2015, 4:23pm

54. The Wings of the Dove by Henry James; (4*) ROOT, {acquired prior to LT}

The reader must read Henry James carefully, closely and slowly. One must also read between the lines.
The Wings of the Dove is made up of characters so subtle and so intelligent that even a careful reader will be challenged to keep up. The story follows a young man and woman, Densher, and Kate, who are in love and want to be together. But her guardian disapproves as there is not a bright financial situation ahead for Kate.
Kate devises a plan to improve their prospects and asks Densher only to be patient. Her intelligence and moral flexibility allow her to adjust her original plan when the possibility of an even better outcome presents itself in the person of her dear friend Milly. (ie: "the Dove") What the process will do to Milly is of little importance to Densher at the outset. However as he gets to know Milly better, Densher's conviction begins to crumble. Despite his best efforts to turn a blind eye to his own part in a terrible deception, he feels his character eroding and needs constant reassurance from Kate that it all will be worth it in the end. By the end, however, he has to come face to face with what he's done and the price he, Milly and his relationship with Kate have paid.
This was not an easy read for me but I found it well worth the time and effort I put into it.

Redigeret: jul 9, 2015, 2:15am

55. The Last September by Elizabeth Bowen; ROOT, {acquired 3/9/2010}; (4*)

Elizabeth Bowen’s The Last September is a thoughtful, internal, and deep novel about Anglo-Irish identity during the Irish War of Independence. I sometimes find Bowen to be a difficult read but always worthwhile even if it’s just for her marvelous language.
I was struck by the fact that nothing much seems to happen during the first three quarters of the book . Lives go on as usual, interpersonal tensions flare and subside unrelated to political events. Parties are held, visits are made, engagements are made and broken. The underlying tensions run in the background but are unremitting. The mood is one of stasis, a kind of intolerable suspension that is ever present at the edge of one’s field of vision. Bowen has deliberately cultivated a sense of relative banality hovering over an abyss, and as the novel moves forward without this tension being resolved, it inexorably builds. Additional tensions arise as one becomes aware of the differences between the Anglo-Irish and the British military, each of which misunderstands the other.
Bowen writes convincingly and beautifully. Her prose flows and is evocative of both Irish civilization and Irish wilderness. She is sensitive to the nuances of dialogue and class, convincingly portraying the differences between her characters.

Redigeret: jul 16, 2015, 2:21pm

56. A Most Wanted Man by John le Carre; library; (4*)

A top notch thrilling story from a spy-master. Intricate plot, fascinating characters, all the twists and turns to keep you guessing and then hoping until the end. I loved it!

jul 16, 2015, 9:16am

>105 rainpebble: The movie was great, too.

Redigeret: jul 16, 2015, 2:21pm

>106 jfetting:
I hadn't realized that a movie had been made of this one. I will have to check it out because I certainly was carried along by the book.

jul 16, 2015, 1:51pm

>107 rainpebble: It was one of Philip Seymour Hoffman's last films. Been meaning to watch it.

jul 16, 2015, 1:54pm

Ohhhhh, I love/loved Philip Seymour Hoffman! He was such an intriguing actor and just so good at his craft.

Redigeret: jul 16, 2015, 2:13pm

57. The Boys Are Back in Town by Simon Carr; (3 1/2*); library

Nice but sad little memoir about a man & his young son whose wife & mother dies from cancer. The father attempts to keep things on track but finds it understandably all but impossible. I liked how Carr's writing was not sentimental tripe but actually showed the hardships of what he and his son went through.
It was a good read.

jul 16, 2015, 2:05pm

58. The Nun by Denis Diderot; ROOT, {acquired prior to LT}; (2 1/2*)

This was just an okay read for me. The writing was fine as far as that goes but I found myself remaining quite outside the story. I hope it was not actually based on a true occurrence. It would be very horrific if it was for the story is quite barbaric from family to convents, alike.

Redigeret: jul 18, 2015, 12:16pm

59. Tracks: A Woman's Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback by Robyn Davidson; (4*)

I found this memoir to be a wonderful tale of a very courageous young woman's phenomenal adventure across 1700 miles of Australian desert. Davidson wrote with a great balance of her journey, both the physical and emotional aspects. She took with her 3 camels that she trained (& a baby one) along with her dog, Diggity, who sadly did not survive the trek.
This was a months long journey during which she was mostly alone with her animals and she endured much, physically, mentally & emotionally. At times I felt I was there with her and reading this memoir made me wish that I had been much more adventurous during my younger years.

jul 19, 2015, 11:53am

60. My Life So Far by Sir Denis Forman; (3*)

This memoir is about the author's upbringing which is filled with eccentric persons, both children & adult and quite a rollicking, frolicking read. I enjoyed it with it's many escapades. He was especially fascinated with entertaining the family, having much fun and learning all he could from whatever sources. A fun read.

jul 20, 2015, 2:52pm

61. The Physician by Noah Gordon; BFB, 768 pgs; (4 1/2*)

Gordon takes the reader back to the 11th century and recounts the story of Rob Cole who, as a young boy, sees the life slip away from both his parents. As a result he and his younger siblings are separated and he has to take care of himself at a very youthful age. He is apprenticed to a barber, who in those days served as a combination entertainer/barber/surgeon. Barber's knowledge is scant but he shares it with the young boy. Rob discovers that he has an uncanny gift of placing his hand on a patient's chest or taking his hand and knowing if the patient will live or die. This gift burns within him and motivates him to become a real physician.
He learns that the best place to study the practice of medicine is in Persia, but religious differences and sheer distance make it seem like an impossible dream to study there. Through a variety of circumstances, one being masquerading as a Jew,he is able to travel to Persia and petition to become a student. Gordon's tale continues through Rob's life and gives a fascinating background into the religious and political life of the times as well as the infancy of the science of medicine. This is a wonderful book and I highly recommend it

Redigeret: jul 27, 2015, 2:52pm

62. The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy; ROOT, {acquired prior to LT}; (4 1/2*)

This is the eleventh novel by Thomas Hardy. He takes us to an obscure village in his mythical Wessex. The novel portrays the beautiful Grace Melbury, a lovely young lady spoiled and well educated by her parents, eager for glamour and disdainful of the boredom of woodland folk. Grace is courted by Giles Winterbourne, a local woodsman, but casts him aside to wed Dr. Edred Fitzpiers, the local doctor. The marriage turns out poorly for Grace as the doctor is a womanizer and quite ignores his wife.
Fitzpiers flees to the Continent while Grace seeks reconciliation with Winterborne. The couple hope to wed under a newly passed Parliamentary law dealing with the right of women to obtain a divorce.
However it all goes wrong. Accidents occur as chance and fortune always play a part in the Hardy world. The novel does end happily which is a rarity for Hardy.
Hardy knew the English countryside as it moved from spring to winter and describes it so beautifully that we come to know it as well. His description of nature is beautifully written. He also knew the south of England as it was moving from the rural nineteenth century to the modern world of the coming twentieth century.
This novel is one of the lesser known Hardy novels but it is well worth your time and attention. The story is well told with many interesting and exciting plot developments which will hold the attention of the reader.
I highly recommend it.

Redigeret: sep 16, 2015, 2:22pm

63. Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick; ROOT, from prior to LT; (4 1/2*)

I loved this Y/A book about a boy, large for his age but slow, and a boy, small for his age, physically handicapped & ill with Morquio syndrome but extremely bright & imaginative.
I loved how the they met, slowly became friends and eventually became 'one'.
Max and Kevin, to become Mighty & Freak, became friends over the book & reading of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
This is a heartwarming book with a bit of the coming of age. It is happy and yet sad at the same time. I cannot recommend it highly enough. The ending will grab you by your heartstrings. It did mine.

jul 25, 2015, 12:24pm

64. The Attack by Yasmina Khadra; (4*)

I found this book impossible to put down.
A Palestinian physician living and working in Tel Aviv is forced to confront the reality of the Palestinian/Israeli problems when his beloved wife takes her life and those of several others, including a number of innocent Israeli schoolchildren, in a suicide bomb attack in a cafe. The book paints a deeply moving and saddening portrait of the festering wound of stateless & often powerless Palestinians daily confronting the fear of military reprisals and the absence of real hope. At the same time the senseless deaths of innocents was visceral and horrid. The book, which is beautifully written and translated, reads well and will challenge any reader's assumptions about the intractable mess in the Middle East.
It could as easily have been the other way round.

Redigeret: jul 26, 2015, 2:17pm

66. Ward Allen: Savannah River Market Hunter by Jack Cay; (3 1/2*)

Ward Allen was a very interesting character. He was an eccentric, living life his way. From Savannah, Georgia, he was born before the beginning of the Civil War and raised on a plantation. Allen's family was wealthy and he wanted for nothing. His best buddy (for his entire life) was born a slave. Allen attended college, finishing his studies at Edinburg University with a law degree.
But instead of returning home to be a lawyer he became a professional duck hunter, living on a houseboat on the Savannah River. He and Moultrie, his best buddy & fellow hunter, often operated outside the law and Allen at times would have to defend them in court.
This is a very short memoir and I would like to have learned more about this man whom I found to be a fascinating character. But I found the writing beautifully done though the placement of bits seemed a bit awkward at times. However I thoroughly enjoyed this little volume.

(I must see the movie based on this memoir and hopefully can find a more informative bio on the man!)

Redigeret: jul 28, 2015, 1:43pm

67. Tainted Evidence by Robert Dailey; (2 1/2*)

An okay police procedural & courtroom drama story.
It is about a badly botched over the top attempt to arrest a big time drug dealer who has a lot of cops in his pocket. Five police officers are shot amongst the many in on the action.
When the dealer is finally arrested the assistant D.A. chosen to prosecute the case is a woman.
I thought the story could have been told much better but did stick with it because I wanted to know how it turned out.

Redigeret: jul 28, 2015, 3:11pm

68. The Royal Physician's Visit by Per Olov Enquist; (4*);
beautifully translated by Tiina Nunnally

This work tells of what comes to be known as the 'Struensee Era of Denmark' in the 1770s. During this time the unassuming doctor finds himself appointed as Royal Physician to the mad King Christian.
Johann Struensee quickly becomes the de facto ruler of Denmark and begins to pass a litany of reforms in line with his Enlightened philosophies. The King rarely questions the documents he is asked to sign, as he is mad as a hatter and has few days of clarity.
Struensee and the Queen begin a love affair. When she becomes pregnant they both know it is the beginning of the end. The Danish Court and society have had enough of the scandalous behavior. Struensee's unlikely role of reformer and the most powerful man of Denmark comes to a very quick end. He is coerced into a confession and is ultimate beheaded, though King Christian attempts to stop his death.
The book is written beautifully and melodically. These tragic figures come alive as we read their innermost thoughts and doubts.
This is historical fiction at it's best and I highly recommend it to those of whom this time period is of interest.

jul 28, 2015, 10:48pm

>120 rainpebble: I love your thread--you read the most interesting books, and have the best reviews--a short summary and your own reactions/recommendations.

Tiina Nunnally is a wonderful translator--I read her translation of the first book of Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset and she did a fantastic job--so readable.

jul 29, 2015, 1:36am

Kathy, I have had that one waiting in the wings for ever so long. I really need to get to it one day. I have heard nothing but wonderful things about it. It was recommended to me by my therapist many years ago & I immediately purchased it.
Thank you for stopping by.

Redigeret: jul 30, 2015, 11:54am

Tear This Heart Out by Ángeles Mastretta; (3*)

69. (Based on the true story of the wife of powerful Mexican General Maximino Ávila Camacho, who is named "Andres Ascencio" in the book. The accounts took place in Puebla, Mexico.)

It is an interesting bit of fictionalizing an actual account of what happened with Catalina, our heroine and her husband, Andres Atencio, a sadistic, masochistic self aggrandized but important general in the military during the years following the Mexican revolution.
They marry when Catalina is but a teenager and he is already near middle age. She performs her duties as his wife well, learning quickly. But she doesn't learn so quickly what a beast her husband can be. She begins to guess when she is asked to raise some of his bastard children. Then she learns that he is accused of murder, assassination attempts and of his continuing womanizing. And yet she doesn't play the pity card. Instead she gets even, becoming involving herself in extramarital affairs of the heart & body.
By the end of the book Catalina is alone but free. I didn't love this one but I liked it.

Redigeret: jul 30, 2015, 11:56am

70. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende; {acquired prior to LT}; (4*)

The House of Spirits is quite an odd novel covering four generations of the same family. (The character of Clara is so very fascinating.)
Yet although there are things that require a stretch of the imagination there are very real aspects in it such as the revolution and the conflicts that the characters experience. A reader will truly get what they want out of it. One may read it strictly superficially in order to follow the plot which is capitivating. Another may choose to be open minded enough to notice that it is rich with symbolic detail. Or the reader may perhaps gather it all in. I highly recommend it. Allende always comes off well.

Redigeret: sep 16, 2015, 2:24pm

71. Off the Road: A Modern-Day Walk Down the Pilgrim's Route into Spain by Jack Hitt; (4*)
72. Queen Margot by Alexandre Dumas; (4 1/2*); ROOT, {acquired prior to LT}

74. The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector; ROOT, {acquired 11/16/2009}; (4*)

76. Passing by Nella Larsen; ROOT, {acquired 8/28/2009}; (4*)
77. A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan; Orange L/L, 2011; ROOT, {acquired 8/16/2011; (1*)
78. Northern Borders by Howard Frank Mosher; (4 1/2*)
79. The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom by Slavomir Rawicz; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (4 1/2*)
80. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume; ROOT, {acquired wayyy before LT}; (3 1/2*)
81. Son of Hamas: A Gripping Account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue, and Unthinkable Choices by Mosab Hassan Yousef; ROOT, {acquired in 2011}; (4*)
82. The Lady Vanishes by Ethel Lina White; ROOT, {acquired prior to LT}; (4*)
83. The Dying Animal by Philip Roth; ROOT, {acquired in 2002}; (5*)
84. If I Stay by Gayle Forman; Y/A; ROOT, {acquired 07/2010}; (4*)
85. Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov; Kindle; play; (3 1/2*)
86. Labor Day by Joyce Maynard; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (4*)
87. Serena by Ron Rash; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (4 1/2*)
88. Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones; ROOT, {acquired 2008}; (4 1/2*)
89. Tell No One by Harlan Coben; ROOT, {acquired 2009}; (3 1/2*)
90. Simon and the Oaks by Marianne Fredriksson; ROOT, {acquired 2001}; (4*)
91. Shadow Dancer by Tom Bradby; ROOT, {acquired 2000}; (3 1/2*)
92. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides; ROOT, {acquired 2010}; (5*)

94. Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult; ROOT, {acquired 9/22/2008}; (2*)

73. Mary Lavelle by Kate O'Brien; VMC; ROOT, {acquired 8/05/2009}; (4*)

75. The Making of a Marchioness (a Persephone) by Frances Hodgson Burnett; ROOT, {acquired 3/26/2010}; (3 1/2*)

93. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston; VMC; ROOT, {acquired 10/12/2007}; (5*)

Redigeret: aug 1, 2015, 11:32pm

71. Off the Road: A Modern-Day Walk Down the Pilgrim's Route into Spain by Jack Hitt; (4*)

Something different for me, I found Hitt's book to be a refreshing mix of personal experience, philosophy, history and psychology. I enjoyed it a great deal.
I learned about the Romanesque churches and why they are different not only in appearance but in function from the Gothic style.
It was interesting to glimpse into group dynamics as strangers form friendships. Hitt spoke of the bonds and alliances made on the road through shared experiences. I found his perspective true and insightful.
This book is a good read, not only for those who walk the Camino but also for those who, like myself, are interested in history, philosophy, psychology, pilgrimages and/or the Camino de Santiago.

aug 1, 2015, 11:37pm

72. Queen Margot by Alexandre Dumas; ROOT, {acquired prior to LT}; (4 1/2*)

This book is filled with intrigue, conspiracies, treachery, violence and even a bit of romance. I found it to be exhilarating, gripping, suspenseful and quite a page turner. It is an amazing piece of literature but then I find everything by Dumas to be more than wonderful.
It is based on history, two years of the history of France from 1572 to 1574. Events seem to come to life under the hand of this author.
At the forefront of the story itself is Queen Margot of France and her new husband King Henry of Navarre. She is the sister of the King of France, Charles IX. We begin with their wedding at a time when there is a "truce" between the Catholic French and the Protestant Navarre. The truce is false and within days of the wedding thousands of Protestants have been brutally killed in the streets of Paris which sets off the two years of deceit and treachery that Dumas details so thrillingly.
Because it has been an arranged marriage there is no love between the Catholic Queen and her Protestant King but the two of them form an alliance to protect one another.
My favorite (though she was quite despicible) character was the Queen Mother, Catherine de Medicis, who wants King Henry dead
This is a novel rich in the telling.

Redigeret: aug 4, 2015, 12:19am

73. Mary Lavelle by Kate O'Brien; (4*); AV/AA; ROOT

I quite loved this book and all of the emotional changes that the main character went through. The colorful people that she interacted with, including her lesbian friend, made it interesting. I also liked the wonderfully descriptive phrasing that O'Brien used. Her love of Spain comes through in her works so clearly.
The story is about an Irish girl who comes to Spain for a governess/nanny job with a family of 3 girls. Their older brother fills in the romantic story and the political atmosphere is rife with tension.
I found it a great read and I think any romantic or O'Brien fan will enjoy this book.

Redigeret: aug 4, 2015, 8:37am

I'm going to try hard to get to at least one Virago in August, Belva. Maybe I'll try one of the Mary O'Brien titles on my shelves.

aug 4, 2015, 2:56pm

>129 laytonwoman3rd:
Have you yet read O'Brien's The Land of Spices or her Farewell Spain? Those are two of my favorites by her. The latter is a Virago/Beacon Traveler. I simply love her writing and though she was Irish, her love for Spain shines through.

aug 4, 2015, 3:01pm

I don't believe I've read any of her work yet. I do have a copy of The Land of Spices, though. Thanks for the recommendation!

Redigeret: aug 4, 2015, 4:15pm

74. The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector; ROOT, {acquired 11/16/2009}; (4*)
Translation by Giovanni Pontiero

In The Hour of the Star, Lispector speaks through an affluent, sophisticated but angry narrator to tell the story of Macabéa, a poor, undernourished, unattractive, inexperienced nineteen year old girl from Northeast Brazil who struggles to survive in the slums of Rio de Janeiro.
Lispector's final and best known work brings together all of the philosophical themes that she considered over her writing career. The nature of truth, the meaning of existence, the power of language, the finality of death and the role of spirituality.
The real story of this poor and starving girl, desperate for love and attention, is actually the real story of millions of others just like her in the world. You don't need a degree to understand The Hour of the Star. All you need is a heart.
The narrator is paralyzed by wondering not just who he is but who Macabéa is. She is a nineteen year old girl struggling to survive in the slums. She is poor, starving, ugly and alone but not unhappy. In fact she is full of a kind of inner grace that even the urbane and sophisticated narrator can't achieve. As he watches her go about her short and tragic life he can't help but wonder what is the point? But as she has never had anything, it literally has never occurred to her to question why life has to be the way it is. She's too poor and hungry to think about anything beyond the next meal and the next day.

"(There are those who have. And there are those who have not. It's very simple: the girl had not. Hand't what? Simply this: she had not. If you get my meaning that's fine. If you don't, it's still fine. But why am I bothering about this girl when what I really want is wheat that turns ripe and golden in summer?)"
~a quote from the narrator: Rodrigo

This is an excellent little book. One very worthy of the reader's time and attention.

Redigeret: aug 6, 2015, 4:43pm

75. The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett; (3 1/2*)

Frances Hodgson Burnett is one of my favorite children & Y/A authors. I love The Secret Garden, Little Lord Fauntleroy and A Little Princess is my ultimate favorite book for the young, bar none! So I was a little surprised to find that I did not actually love this book though I liked it a great deal.
I found it to be a beautiful period-piece love story. The main character is a strong woman.....for her life and times. She overcomes hardships in her early years and treachery later for the love of her life.
I do think that I will want to read it more than this once in order to appreciate all of the little nuances. (And I may appreciate it more on a reread.) In what seems to be a world of misery and chaos this mid-century novel provides a safe place to hide for a while.
I does have one weird moment but I don't want to spoil that for you. However in the end it all comes together.
I enjoyed the story with it's wee yet surprising twists & turns. I found it an interesting study of the times. It, IMHO, is not brilliantly written but it is a captivating read.

aug 6, 2015, 4:53pm

76. Passing by Nella Larsen; ROOT, {acquired 8/28/2009}; (4*)

I found this to be a beautifully drawn character study. It is the story of two girls who were childhood friends but lose touch with each other as they grow up. Both of them biracial, they end up settled in New York. One married to a man of color with 2 children, 1 light skinned and 1 dark skinned and the other married to a very prejudicial white skinned man with 1 light skinned child. This is a very fortunate turn of events for her as she has not informed her husband she is part black. She has been "passing" all this time.
The two ladies meet accidentally one day while having tea at a rooftop cafe. They reacquaint themselves with each other and begin to meet socially. As time goes on the one "passing" becomes more and more brave about her lifestyle and begins to yearn for the life of the Harlem Renaissance. She gets careless about where she goes and the company she keeps. What occurs next this is a shocking turn of events.
I found this book to be very intelligently and subtly written. It is sad that Nella Larsen didn't write more than she did for she was a brilliant writer. I highly recommend this book and I think it is one that will stay with me long past my reading of it. I rated it four stars and find it difficult to understand why Virago Press has not found to publish it unless it is simply that it is still being published.

Redigeret: aug 6, 2015, 5:27pm

77. The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan; Orange L/L, 2011; ROOT, {acquired 8/16/2011}; (1*)

I have tried to read this novel twice, however I can't seem to make it through. (rather like Moby Dick in that way for me)
I found the writing is just not good enough to carry the story/stories (?). I didn't like it and in the end I was unable to make myself care enough to read the darned thing.

aug 6, 2015, 5:42pm

#135 Agreed Belva, I finished it but don't understand why it is so highly regarded.

Hope all is good with you and your next reads are brill !

aug 7, 2015, 3:56pm

Thank you Bryan & right back atcha!

aug 8, 2015, 9:02am

#135 I'm with you and bryanoz. No idea why that book got so much good press.

Redigeret: sep 16, 2015, 2:23pm

78. Northern Borders by Howard Frank Mosher; ROOT; {from prior to LT}; (4 1/2*)

I loved this work.

This particular author is an exquisite story teller. His words are worth a thousand pictures. The reality of growing up on a rustic farm in northern Vermont during the 40's & 50's is made charmingly clear. Life on the farm is rough, yet idyllic. Where work is its own reward is a simple truth & the path to an honest existence.
The characters are absolutely wonderfully drawn and I do mean drawn. The reader can actually see the characters in the mind's eye.
I was sorry to when this one ended. I look forward to reading more of Howard Frank Mosher.
Highly recommended.

aug 10, 2015, 3:17pm

79. The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom by Slavomir Rawicz; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (4 1/2*)

This book is the amazing and tragic personal account of a Polish Officer named Slavomir Rawicz. His story begins when he was a young cavalry officer in the Polish army.
He grew up near the Polish border. He was also fluent in Russian. When the Germans invaded Russia they became very suspicious of any non-Russian citizen that lived in Russia or spoke the language. They began to hunt for potential spies and traitors. The fact that Slav was fluent in Russian and that he was a Polish Officer made him an obvious target for the Soviet Secret Police.
He was taken for interrogation and held for several months. During that time he was forced to endure long torture sessions as well as starvation and sleep deprivation in an effort to get him to admit he was a spy. Through this he was sent to more than one interrogation facility and eventually convicted and sentenced to 25 years in a Russian labor camp in Siberia.
The trip there was long and very difficult. The prisoners travelled by train and by foot. Many of them died from starvation, cruel treatment and exposure. It was in the Siberian camp, months later, that he and six of his fellow prisoners hatched an escape plan.
Here is where the adventure begins. Their journey to freedom started in the Siberian winter. It continued on foot for nearly eighteen months over two thousand miles through some of the worst terrain and conditions on the planet. They stole farm animals and killed wild game for food. They made shelters for coverage from the elements. They also relied on the kind people they happened across. They moved through the farmlands and the outskirts of the small villages of southern Russia where they travelled at night for their safety. Their journey took them through the Gobi Desert of Mongolia and China, where they pushed through intense heat, starvation, and dehydration. They journeyed over the Himalayan Mountains of Tibet and Nepal, enduring bitter temperatures and biting winds. They overcame oxygen deprivation.
Here they met helpful locals and finally entered India where they met the British army who took them in and deloused and fed them. Not all of them made it to the safety of British held India but all of them tried.
The story the author tells is both joyful and heartbreaking. It speaks of man's triumphant spirit. It is told in great detail and with great insight by the man who endured it himself.
Supposedly it is true though there are those who say: Nay, it is an impossibility for it to be true. Whichever.........it is a great book and one that is very difficult to put down.

Redigeret: aug 11, 2015, 3:22pm

80. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume; ROOT, {acquired wayyy before LT}; (3 1/2*)

Our fifteen year old protagonist has just lost her father in a robbery. He was shot and killed during the hold up. Davey feels so alone in her loss for her brother is young enough to forget most of the time and her mother has sunk into a deep depression and cannot cope.
The story is about how Davey does cope and recover from the loss of her father. Her family travels out to New Mexico to spend some time with an aunt and uncle, that they barely, while the mother recovers enough to care for Davey and her little brother.
While there, Davey goes out into the cliff area near her aunt's home and out there she meets Wolf, a young Indian man who helps her make sense of her grief. As she comes to understand that her father would not want her to spend the remainder of her life dwelling on his death but would want her to grow up to live a healthy, wholesome and happy life she slowly begins to recover from this horrific loss.
I found the book to be a good and a quick read. And seriously, who doesn't enjoy a Judy Blume book?

Redigeret: aug 12, 2015, 2:52pm

81. Son of Hamas: A Gripping Account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue, and Unthinkable Choices by Mosab Hassan Yousef; ROOT, {acquired in 2011}; (4*)

The mid-eastern conflict has always interested me. I am a Christian and do not totally agree with either side in terms of tactics and a means to peace. I don't believe that there will ever be a peace in this part of the world. I do not believe there was/is ever meant to be peace here.
Mosab Hassan Yousef learned the futility of the every day drama of life and death. Instead of sacrificing his life on the alter of Palestine or Israel he chose to lose his prominent place in this struggle and to eventually find his place in Jesus.
His testimony reads sincere and the circumstances are hair raising. The conclusion is a peace such as the world does not give.
I found this bio/memoir to be well written, easily understood and hard to put down. I read it in two sittings. After reading and dwelling on this book, I find that I believe the writer to be a very brave man indeed. Not just in what he lived but especially in the aftermath of it all. He gave up a lot.

aug 15, 2015, 3:46pm

82. The Lady Vanishes by Ethel Lina White; ROOT, {acquired prior to LT}; (4*)

Originally published as The Wheel Spins, The Lady Vanishes was published in 1936.
The story is about a young British tourist on a crowded train. She alone, among the many passengers notices the disappearance of a passenger. She is confronted by persons who, for reasons made very understandable by the author, either ignore her expressions of alarm or don't believe her. It's like the people standing on the sidelines watching something horrible occurring and don't want to get involved.
This story appears to be written as Britain was preparing itself for WWII, which actually began 3 years after this was published.
I quite enjoyed this English mystery. I liked the plot and the characterizations. Recommended reading.

aug 16, 2015, 3:54pm

83. The Dying Animal by Philip Roth; ROOT, {acquired in 2002}; (5*)

The protagonist, David Kepesh's fascination and obsession with Consuela's body, especially her breasts, and his pathetic desire for her when she wasn't with him was a bit unnerving. How long can one really live with a particular obsession? Well, apparently forever. Her body caused him torment and anguish. As for her, their 'meetings became the standard by which she measured other sexual encounters Perhaps being madly desired is a very strong aphrodisiac.
What I found most refreshing is that Roth isn't censored and some of the scenes and lines actually made me laugh. I suppose that is one of the reasons I so enjoyed reading this novella. He really has a knack for showing the reader the inner workings of the human psyche, things most people like to hide.
I was fascinated by this work.

Redigeret: aug 17, 2015, 6:31pm

84. If I Stay by Gayle Forman; Y/A; ROOT, {acquired 07/2010}; (4*)

If I Stay is a perfect example of how a book can take over the reader's life. Once I picked it up I was hooked and read it in just a few hours. It was all I thought about for days.
Mia, our protagonist, and her family are in a terrible car accident and as Mia lays comatose trying to balance between life and death she remembers important snapshots of her life. It is through these vignettes that the reader comes to understand who she is and what is important to her. The book is skillfully balanced so it does not become one giant depressing weeping read. Adam, Mia's boyfriend, compliments her perfectly. His guitar and rock band swag factor compliments her cello and classical demeanor. Their relationship grows slowly and tenderly. You can't help but fall in love with them...and their story will own you.

Redigeret: aug 19, 2015, 11:57am

85. Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov; Kindle; play; (3 1/2*)

I think that perhaps Chekhov may be an acquired taste and I am not truly there yet. And though I enjoyed this play I got lost within the characters at times.
In a world full of whining and complaining about insignificant things it's fun to admire Chekhov and his ability to make this seem imperative to human life. While in the setting of Russian gentry everything is falling apart and the lives of the characters are no more gratifying than the lives of anyone else.

Redigeret: aug 22, 2015, 4:42pm

86. Labor Day by Joyce Maynard; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (4*)

I found Labor Day to be a very well written book. It illustrated the danger of writing people off because of past mistakes or because they have been put into a particular box. I thought the author did a great job of presenting this complex situation through the eyes of a youthful boy named Henry. Henry has both love for his mother and misgivings about the situation in which they find themselves. These emotions tend to color his response to this unknown man's entrance into their lives.
It is a heart rendering story about family dynamics. A boy's coming of age, a mother's depression, a stepfamily and a convict. They are all thrown together, making for a touching read. I was captivated from the start.

Redigeret: sep 16, 2015, 2:27pm

87. Serena by Ron Rash; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (4 1/2*)

Rash has beautifully written a wonderfully compelling tale of greed, murder and destruction. Set in a 1920s Smoky Mountain logging camp during the Great Depression, he tells the story of ruthless lumber baron, George Pemberton and his brutally ambitious bride, Serena. The book opens as the newlyweds arrive at the Waynesville, North Carolina train station. They are met by Pemberton's pregnant former lover and her vengeful father. Their encounter ends violently, with Serena providing a glimpse of her violent and cruel nature.
Greedy for more land and wealth they will do anything, including murder, to expand their vast lumber empire. Aggressively competing for the land is the U.S. government, eager to preserve it as a national park.
As the story unfolds Serena grows even more vicious, encouraging her husband on to violent actions. Rash has brilliantly woven and co-mingled real life historical figures and events with his intriguing fictional characters. His beautiful writing brings this spellbinding story to life. I was truly captivated by the vivid descriptions of the land, the era and the overall feeling of the times. Interesting Appalachian folklore and insights into the local culture enhanced the storyline. The hardships and dangers of a logging camp and its brutal impact on the environment are explicitly described. I found the complex debate over land use to be very thought provoking.
(this is still being debated in my corner of the world; the Pacific Northwest of the U.S.)
I loved this shocking but engrossing slice of life, a gripping story of timber barons who will stop at nothing to gain more land and wealth. I was mesmerized by both the story and the quality of writing. A most excellent story of greed, corruption, murder and mayhem.
It will be a while before I stop thinking about Serena.

aug 22, 2015, 11:17pm

88. Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones; ROOT, {acquired 2008}; (5*)

What a beautifully written coming of age story Jones has given us. A lovely, poetic gift from his mind and hand.
The story takes place on a lush tropical Pacific Isle.
The protagonist, Matilda, is the daughter of a native Christian woman and her father has gone to work on the mainland. For a while Matilda believed her mother when she said they would soon follow him but she came to realize that they were never going to leave the island.
Most of the men from the village have gone but there remain many women and children. One of the men, Mr. Watts, who does remain is the only white man in the village. With the teacher gone Mr. Watts decides to take over the teaching of the children. And he decides to begin with his favorite piece of literature: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. He and Matilda quickly come to share a love of this work and the character, Pip, becomes a great part of this story.
Beautifully written, both lyrically and visually, this book took my breath away. Even the horror of a warring army invading this village numerous times and committing atrocities was unable to take my mind off the beauty of this book.
Highly recommended.

Redigeret: aug 23, 2015, 3:21pm

89. Tell No One by Harlan Coben; ROOT, {acquired 2009}; (3 1/2*)

Dr. David Beck and his wife Elizabeth have a tradition that they have observed since their childhood days. Each year on the anniversary of carving their initials into a tree they return to the tree. During one of these trips as a married couple when they go back to the wooded lake, Beck is beaten up and Elizabeth vanishes.
Eight years pass. Elizabeth's body has been found, her murderer has been jailed, and Beck has tried to get on with his life. However he just can't seem to get past the events of that night. Making it all the more difficult, Beck begins to get emails from an anonymous sender who seems to know things that only Elizabeth could know. As he begins to attempt to locate her he finds out that the police have uncovered evidence that Beck might have had something to do with Elizabeth's death. And they are not the only ones who are coming after him. But he finds ways to keep searching.
This is the first Coben novel that I have read and I enjoyed it. It grabbed my attention from the beginning and held on right through to the end. The book kept me guessing and I never really got a handle on solving the mystery of the dead/missing wife nor the killer. This is a suspenseful thriller that kept me on my toes.

Redigeret: aug 27, 2015, 1:02am

90. Simon & The Oaks by Marianne Fredriksson; ROOT, {acquired 2001}; (4*)

This book, set in Sweden, provides an interesting perspective on familial relationships. With World War II and it's horrors as a backdrop the author has created and grown some really wonderful characters that I hated to let go of at the end of the story.
Much of the book is based on the individual character's thought processes as they assimilate things that are occurring in their lives.
This book contains truth within it's story along with some magic realism and it left this reader sharing the melancholy of the characters. It read like sheer poetry.

Redigeret: sep 13, 2015, 2:37pm

91. Shadow Dancer by Tom Bradby; {acquired 2000}; (3 1/2*)

Set in Ireland and based on the IRA, this story follows the relationship between an informant and her handler. She and her family are members of the IRA with one of her brothers being fairly high up in the organization. She is caught attempting to bomb a London train and is given the option of imprisonment or coming over to the other side as an informant.
The author goes into detail regarding the intricacies of her attempt to be both. I must say that I was better able to identify with her handler than with her and that his life was no picnic either.
A good, gripping novel.

Redigeret: aug 27, 2015, 1:46am

92. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides; ROOT, {acquired 2010}; (5*)

This is, I think, a rather unique story. We never really understand the main characters but we do get to know the minor characters quite well. We do not see growth in the characters within the covers of this book but somehow it all feels right. It seems on the surface to be a simple story, however it is anything but. It is artistic without losing any of its entertainment value.
Eugenides gives us a story with many layers filled with strong undercurrents and quiet symbolism. The book is about the sad fate of the Libson girls but on the other hand the author uses the girls merely as a focal point for themes (often using strong symbolism and light subtext) about the place of religion, the nature of humans, and perhaps even the meaning of life within the book.
There is deep significance in the recurring themes of religious icons and in the fate of the neighborhood's elm trees. The Virgin Suicides is full of symbolism and metaphors but he manages to stay very readable. To have such heavy symbolism and not create a pretentious book is a very difficult balance but Eugenides pulls it off brilliantly. The writing is fluid and the prose beautiful. Eugenides turns the most mundane into the most haunting and beautiful prose and the book is filled with dark humor along with reality.
Though some may find it's ending somewhat unfulfilling but our libraries are full of books that can offer you character growth but few can offer such appealing prose and such powerful emotions and ideas as The Virgin Suicides offers.
Just read it!

aug 29, 2015, 12:37pm

93. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston; (5*)

Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God is a masterpiece. I began this book last evening and finished it this morning. I felt sad when I put it down realizing that this exquisitely gifted author had given us such a small amount of literature. And yet also, when I put it down I sat smiling with joy at the piece I had just read.
Their Eyes Were Watching God is basically a love story, but not. It is basically a coming of age story, but not. It is basically a story of black humanity after their liberation from slavery, but not. This book fits into no category that I know of. It is the story of a young black girl, Janie, growing up in free Western Florida and raised by her "Nanny"; her mother having run off shortly after her birth. She was the progeny of her mother and a schoolteacher who had raped her. Her grandmother raised her with a lot of love, devotion and protected her from all that she could.
When the girl came to her middle teens and became interested in the opposite sex, her grandmother arranged a marriage for her in the hopes of keeping her chaste. It was a loveless marriage to a much older man and as time went on he turned from treating her very well to expecting her to chop wood, plow and work right alongside him. When her grandmother died Janie ran off with another man who came through town and promised her the moon.
Joe Starks did indeed give Janie almost everything she could want; everything she could want but himself. He took her to a new town inhabited only by black people where he decided that they needed a mayor to run things, that they needed more property to build rental housing, that they needed a general store and a post office. And he proceeded to work his way into their hearts as he had done Janie's and he accomplished all that plus he built her a big beautiful home. As time went by she became less and less important to Joe Starks and he became more and more important to himself. Janie's heart began to turn and while she still loved him, she began to see him as he truly was.
Stark became ill and Janie nursed him until he realized that she felt contempt for him and he refused to allow her in his sick room. Others from the community came to nurse and feed him, but his illness continued to his death. He left Janie well off and she mourned for a time and then seemed content and turned all comers away. She had no interest in another man.
Then she met "Tea Cake" and the story from here on is almost pure joy. For me, this was what the book had been building up to all along, though I didn't realize it until I got here.
Hurston's words flow poetically from page to page. Her turn of a phrase is so beautiful that I found myself reading entire passages over and over again just to 'hear' the language and phrasing. Her metaphors are wonderfully fitting to the situation in the story and the book is full of them. The book is very easily read and I highly recommend it and any of her writings.

aug 29, 2015, 1:19pm

94. Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult; ROOT, {acquired 9/22/2008}; (2*)

I was underwhelmed by this work. It is another story of a girl scorned by a man she is smitten with. So she yells: RAPE!~! It has been done many times in many ways over the years and much better than this. Don't waste your time. I want mine back, my time that is.
Usually Picoult is good for a middle of the road guilty pleasure read but when, in the middle of a book, one finds oneself making a mental grocery list, a packing for a trip list or trying to remember the last time one had sex.........I call it a waste of precious reading time.

Now I suppose you want me to tell you how I really feel about this one. lol

aug 30, 2015, 8:47am

I also love Their Eyes Were Watching God. Janie is such a wonderful character.

aug 30, 2015, 10:58pm

Catching up after an absence from the world of LT beyond my thread. Definitely putting Passing on my to-read list.

Have you read Frances Burnett's The Lost Prince? I don't think it's as strong as her Big Three, but she did succeed in making me rather caught up in the story in the best way (and for once a disabled person remains disabled rather than being cured by sunshine and fresh air).

I loved Their Were Watching God too. The end especially was such a celebration of what it is to truly love someone (in terms of being able to see when others are doing something out of love as well). It's one I can't wait to re-read.

sep 7, 2015, 8:15pm

>156 jfetting:
>157 mabith:
Both of you are so right on your take of Their Eyes Were Watching God. I think it is a masterpiece!

And, Meredith, I've not yet read The Lost Prince. I shall have to see if I can find it. It sounds very good. Burnett is such a wonderful writer that I cannot imagine any work of hers not being totally engaging.

Redigeret: okt 18, 2015, 11:21pm

(September Morning)

95. Anywhere but Here by Mona Simpson; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (2 1/2*)
96. An Invisible Sign of My Own by Aimee Bender; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; Y/A; (3 1/2*)
97. The Wives of Bath by Susan Swan; ROOT, {acquired 2000}; (4*)
98. Mystery Ride by Robert Boswell; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (3*)
99. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death by Jean-Dominique Bauby; ROOT, {acquired 2000}; (4 1/2*)

100. The World Unseen by Shamim Sarif; ROOT, {acquired 2012}; (4*)

101. As Cool As I Am by Pete Fromm; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (2 1/2*)
102. Another Bullshit Night in Suck City: A Memoir
by Nick Flynn; ROOT, {acquired prior to L//T}; (2 1/2*)
103. Up in the Air by Walter Kirn; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (3 1/2*)
104. Human Capital by Stephen Amidon; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (4*)
105. White Bird in a Blizzard by Laura Kasischke;
106. Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz; ROOT, {acquired 1990}; (5*)
107. Insomnia by Robert Westbrook; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (3*)
108. I Love You, I Love You Not by Wendy Kesselman; digital ebook; (5*)
109. The Woman in the Fifth by Douglas Kennedy; ROOT, {acquired 2011}; (2*)
110. The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martinez; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (3 1/2*)
111. A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (4*)
112. Diana's Story by Deric Longden; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (5*)
113. John Thomas and Lady Jane by D. H. Lawrence; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (4*)

Redigeret: sep 7, 2015, 8:22pm

95. Anywhere but Here by Mona Simpson; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (2 1/2*)

The author divides the book in an unusual manner. Each section has a different character speaking about past and present experiences. There are chapters written by Anne, Adele, Lillian, and Carol.
Overall the book was a bit over the top which made it difficult to care about what was going on within the story.
The mother is a whack job whose teenage daughter has more sense than she does. Adele thinks her daughter is ready to be a star; which is what she wants for her while the daughter is an academic who wants an education so they move from Wisconsin to California. There they find life difficult but the mother is too dense to realize what is and is not important.
The mother is a pathetic creature wanting, wanting, wanting and all at the expense of her daughter, whether knowingly or not. I could not be sympathetic for her. The daughter is a very strong girl though she does not realize it and is continually picking up the pieces of their lives.
All in all I found this read to be just okay enough to complete it.

sep 7, 2015, 9:29pm

>95 rainpebble: I think I read that one prior to LT...as I recall I wasn't any more excited about it than you are, Belva!

sep 8, 2015, 1:20pm

>161 laytonwoman3rd:
Your comment, Linda, made me feel better about my reflections on this one. I have always trusted your reading instincts & love following your reading.

sep 8, 2015, 2:21pm

For my 8 year Thingaversary I have ordered the following:

Mary Hocking:
1. Checkmate,
2. Ask No Question,
3. The Young Spaniard,
4. Safari West &
5. The Very Dead of Winter, which after 2 readings I had put up on PBS but now find that I want to read it again. Silly me!
6. Stranger in the House: Women's Stories of Men Returning from the Second World War by Julie Summers
Kate Morton:
7. The Secret Keeper &
8. The Lake House on pre-order for Kindle.

For my bonus book I ordered: The Diary of Virginia Woolf, Vol. 1: 1915-1919. I am very excited for this one.

Happy Thingaversary to me!~!

Redigeret: sep 8, 2015, 3:59pm

96. An Invisible Sign of My Own by Aimee Bender; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; Y/A; (3 1/2*)

I enjoyed this story of Mona Grey, a 20 year old introvert whose mathematical mind totally rules her body. If she becomes anxious or nervous she knocks on wood and each knock represents to her a number or a series of numbers.
Mona and her father are both runners and one day while running together, her father collapses. He is diagnosed with an unspecific illness that affects his mind and body. When Mona becomes of age her mother tells her she needs to leave home, that she has to take care of her husband. It feels like abandonment. At first Mona is terribly withdrawn. If she finds herself physically attracted to a man she locks herself in the bathroom and eats soap until all she feels is sickness. But slowly, very slowly, and surely she begins to trust herself and to come out of her shell.
She finds herself employed at the local primary school teaching Mathematics to young students and is rewarded with their enthusiasm to learn. Through the school and classes Mona meets students and other adults and we are drawn into their lives.
Bender has created some very interesting characters. Some are well rounded and some are flat. With reading this book I found that I really like her writing.

sep 9, 2015, 1:11pm

97. The Wives of Bath by Susan Swan; ROOT, {acquired 2000}; (4*)

A coming of age story about a girl who is sent to boarding school and all the quirky and weird things that go along with that. Meeting other girls who live a different and sometimes separate lifestyle can be difficult and off putting. Likewise there are times when a young girl can get sucked right in.
Parts of this book I loved but I found other parts a bit unsettling. It comes down to the power of the imagination and I think we all pull for that.

sep 10, 2015, 11:49am

I might have to pick up The Wives of Bath, being a boarding school girl myself I'm always curious how it's portrayed. My school wasn't the norm, but living with your peers is pretty similar across the board, I think.

Redigeret: sep 10, 2015, 2:33pm

98. Mystery Ride by Robert Boswell; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (3*)

This is the story of a failed marriage which produced a daughter who becomes a teenager filled with angst.
The father remains on his farm in Iowa where he struggles with the business and has many regrets. The mother moves with the daughter to California where she begins a new life. She also has regrets. Dulcie, the daughter, is totally messed up and becomes her own worst enemy. Her mother and father think that some time out of the city and on on her father's farm, in the boonies of Iowa, might help her. But Dulcie always seems to make or find any trouble that is to be had.
I liked the characters and found them to be well written. This is a good story about people, average people who go through troubled times. It's a good read.

sep 10, 2015, 3:15pm

99. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death by Jean-Dominique Bauby; {acquired 2000}; (4 1/2*)

This is a wonderful memoir. Life is unpredictable. We all take it for granted at times. What this small book shows us is the we can all find meaning even in the most unimaginable situations.
This author's courage was amazing, as was his unrelenting spirit and sense of humor.
This is the story of a man trapped inside his body because of a stroke. And yet the life, fun, mischief and spirit that he displayed are truly humbling. It's also funny, lively, and above all true. The author, who died shortly after the book was published, dictated the book one letter at a time. But it reads beautifully and stays with you long afterwards. Whatever your issues; work, life, religion, money, perhaps even health, this will remind you about what it is to be alive at all.

sep 11, 2015, 12:38pm

100. The World Unseen by Shamim Sarif; {acquired 2012}; (4*)

Set during the beginning of apartheid in South Africa, The World Unseen is the story of two very different women.
Amina is an unconventional, rebellious young lesbian Indian woman who has set herself apart from the Indian community in Pretoria. She lives her life the way she wants to. She has set up a cafe with a black male friend.
Miriam is a quiet & traditional young Indian mother. She is hardworking and is trapped in an arranged & loveless marriage with a cold, abusive man. When these two women their lives forever change.
But the book is less about their relationship and more about the time & space they inhabit. It explores the changing social mores, the Indian community, the pervasive social issues, misogyny, racism and complexities of people trying to survive.
I fell into the quiet, evocative yet matter of fact language. I liked the character growth and was easily able to empathize with them. However I would have liked to see their story end not quite so abruptly and for the book to have found more completion in the lives of Amina and Miriam.
I did find it to be a very good read.


sep 11, 2015, 1:06pm

101. As Cool As I Am by Pete Fromm; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (2 1/2*)

At first I thought I would really like this coming of age book. I usually quite enjoy them.
The story teller, a girl who goes from 14 to 16 throughout the course of the novel, seemed at first to be quite a realistically drawn character. The mother was definitely blonde. The Father who is briefly in but mainly out of the story line and the boys the girl becomes involved with, other than Kenny, never really fit the groove.
In the end this book felt very shallow to me and did nothing for me. But it WAS a quick read.

sep 11, 2015, 3:42pm

Congratulations on meeting your goal so early in the year! What an achievement!

Redigeret: sep 12, 2015, 12:30pm

>171 kac522:
Thank you kac522! It feels good.

102. Another Bullshit Night in Suck City: A Memoir
by Nick Flynn; ROOT, {acquired prior to L//T}; (2 1/2*)

I had trouble just getting past the title with this book. But I managed to read what in the end was actually not a horrible memoir. Told in the most unflowery of ways, each chapter seemed to be different in its style of writing. So I felt as if I was constantly adjusting to that, which would pull me out of the book for a bit. This one never got past the feeling of being disjointed for me.
As the memoir begins it appears that it is going to touch on serious issues with the author and the personal relationship, or the lack thereof, with his father. It does succeed in that but in a rather boring narrative sort of way.
I think this would have read much better & been better received had Flynn written a novel based on this part of his life rather than writing it as a memoir. The subject matter, alcoholism & homelessness, are both very important issues. But this was a rather boring read for me.

Redigeret: sep 12, 2015, 12:27pm

A couple of months ago, while cleaning out a corner of the shop, I came across several boxes of books that my brother & sis-in-law gave me some years ago. We tend not to read the same types of books so I just stuck them away. Well, they are now in my closet & I am finally getting around to reading some of them. Most are titles I would never have picked up on my own. I feel out of my reading 'time & space' but it is very interesting to read material that one would otherwise never have touched upon.

Redigeret: sep 13, 2015, 5:28pm

103. Up in the Air by Walter Kirn; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (3 1/2*)

This is a fun book about traveling. At least it starts that way. If you fly on commercial airlines a lot you'll love the main character's flying habits. The book has some laughs. But it seems to wander. The main character is quite a character. I'm not sure, however, what the book is actually telling the reader. Perhaps I am not flight nor corporate America savy enough for this one.
I did find it to be funny and yet sad at the same time. Businessmen who spend so much time in the air only have time for fleeting relationships but business is everything to them. It's an interesting look at the behind the scenes living in airports and cities that business persons fly into.
For our protagonist the airports and airplanes feel more like home than his sterile home. He finds life on the ground chaotic and steers away from personal relationships.
Officially Ryan Bingham, the philosophizing antihero of Kirn's witty and deftly written satire, resides in Denver. There he works as a career transition counselor. In layman's words he fires people for a business management company. But like I said his true residency is the first class cabin of an airplane and the hotel suites and chain restaurants. This is where he is most at home. His hometown newspapers are USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. The climate is always temperate and the currency is frequent flier miles. Bingham's free thoughts usually focus on his ambition of reaching the magical million mile number.
It is an interesting but not fascinating read.

Redigeret: sep 13, 2015, 6:02pm

104. Human Capital by Stephen Amidon; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}}; (4*)

This novel is set in a Connecticut suburb during the 1990s economy and centers around three families whose lives become closely entangled. Drew Hagel runs a failing real estate business which he inherited from his father and daily he struggles to have enough for the lifestyle he wants. His daughter is dating Jamie, the son of Quint Manning, a wealthy man who runs an investment hedge fun. Drew uses this connection to insert himself into the Manning circle and then mortgages everything he has to buy into Quint's fund. Unknown to him the hedge fund is in trouble. He stands to lose everything.
His daughter moves on to a new boyfriend, Ian. Ian is a troubled young man but the two of them click. One evening Hagel's daughter gets a call from Jamie, her ex. He is drunk and needs someone to drive him home. She calls Ian to go with her and while she drives Jamie home, Ian drives Jamie's car home. There is an accident on the way and all of their lives begin to come apart.
Amidon's novel explores territory covered many times before but his detail of these lives and the voices of his characters resonate in our heads throughout the book and well afterward.
I really liked this book and thought it well written.

sep 13, 2015, 6:18pm

Congrats on reaching 100!

sep 14, 2015, 5:53am

Great reading Belva, hope all is good !

sep 15, 2015, 12:34pm

Many thanks to you both.

sep 15, 2015, 1:57pm

105. White Bird in a Blizzard by Laura Kasischke; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (2*)

I kept hoping that my initial assumption was incorrect and that there would be a huge twist. But it simply did not happen. This is one of those books where the reader knows the end from the beginning.
Reading this book was like watching an episode of Law and Order. The characters are rather flat. I think it could have been much better.

Redigeret: sep 16, 2015, 3:05pm

106. Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz; (The Cairo Trilogy (1)); ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (5*)

(Will review when I have completed the trilogy)

sep 16, 2015, 6:42pm

I'm glad you enjoy Palace Walk! I'm such a big Mahfouz fan. That one is my favorite of the trilogy, though the others were good too, and it's interesting to see how their lives change with the times.

Redigeret: sep 17, 2015, 4:46pm

>181 mabith:
Oh Meredith, I am excited to hear from someone else who has read it. I did love it. The writing is superb!


107. Insomnia by Robert Westbrook; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (3*)

Will Dormer, (don't you love that surname Dormer?), a Los Angeles detective is under investigation by Internal Affairs. But nevertheless he and his partner, Hap, have been transferred to the wilds of Alaska to a small village where a teenage girl has been murdered. The local P.D. needs help solving the case and while most of the P.D. has their nose out of joint at the beginning of the joint investigation, rookie detective Ellie Burr is thrilled to be working with the indomitable Detective Dormer.
I.A.D. for the L.A. precinct has been interviewing Dormer's partner regarding Dormer, who has planted evidence before in a child torture & murder case where the perpetrator was going to get off. Internal Affairs suspect that Dormer is a rogue cop turned vigilante and want to make a deal with Hap to expose him. Hap tells Dormer that he has to take the deal. So now Dormer really has a lot on his mind.
He suddenly begins to get phone calls from the man who murdered the young girl. Dormer is able to put a fix on him and locate him. Turns out he is an author of B rated police procedurals and our victim was carrying one of his books in her back pack. More of them are found in her room along with some items they suspect were expensive gifts from an older man.
The police set a trap for the man using the bag as bait and sit in wait. As you know Alaska is famous for it's pea soup foggy days and nights. The suspect shows but they lose him in the fog and with in all the confusion Dormer mistakes his partner, Hap, for the suspect and accidentally shoots him.
With Hap dead, there is now no one to expose Dormer to Internal Affairs. But he must deal with the girl's killer.
There is much more to tell but I will leave it to those of you who may wish to read this one to find out the remainder of the story.
This wasn't a great book and but it was good and it had me glued to my chair for a few hours. It is my understanding that it was written using a movie script as the base for the book. Now I must find the movie for it was definitely interesting enough for me to want to see the film. I believe that the film has the same name.

Redigeret: sep 21, 2015, 7:04pm

108. I Love You, I Love You Not by Wendy Kesselman; digital ebook; (5*)

Like Kesselman's Maggie Magalita , this piece deals with a young woman's coming to terms with her ethnic heritage, in her case it is her Jewish heritage. Daisy is visiting her grandmother, Nana, in the country. Daisy is neurotic and unhappy in her home life and is on the verge of a troubled adolescence. Her grandmother offers her an emotional anchor and she teaches her about being an adult by offering gentle advice, good books, and good cooking and by telling Daisy of her life at Daisy's age when she was in Auschwitz where she lost her two sisters.
I absolutely loved this little story.

sep 21, 2015, 9:02pm

109. The Woman in the Fifth by Douglas Kennedy; ROOT, {acquired 2011}; (2*)

I enjoyed this book mainly for its setting in Paris, France. Parts of it are well written and I liked the feelings of Paris that Kennedy brought to us. However I found a great many bits of the story somewhat skewed and far fetched.
I couldn't get a handle on the main character, Harry, who was down and out so he moved to Paris to 'find' a life. Much of the story line takes place in the seedy parts of Paris and I reached a point where I just got tired of his stupidity. I couldn't identify with him at all and I would not have even finished the book had I not been so curious to see how it ended, which was just weird and implausible.
Two stars & I don't recommend it.

sep 21, 2015, 10:11pm

110. The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martínez; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (3 1/2*)

This is a thriller about a series of murders in early 1990s Oxford. What makes it unique is its narration by an Argentine graduate student, modeled on the author, who was a Buenos Aires mathematics professor.
The story and its characters are great and I quite enjoyed this mystery for several reasons. I liked that it hit on a more intellectual note than one typically finds in murder mysteries without coming across as pretentious. I liked that the author kept the theories accessible to the reader without dumbing things down. I liked that the plot made this reader work to keep up with all the academics that the author wrote into the story.
But I think that most of all I liked the twists & turns. It seemed obvious from the first page but Martinez played this reader the same way he played the characters of his novel. He kept my mind working so hard that I kept confusing myself, but in a fun way. Nothing is really what it seems in this story and all the reader can do is hang for for the ride!

Read it. I think you will enjoy it.

sep 23, 2015, 9:48pm

Congratulations on booking it to 100 and beyond!

Redigeret: sep 24, 2015, 1:34pm

>186 swimmergirl1:
Thank you swimmer!

111. A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/t}; (4*)

A Single Man is the recounting of one day in the life of George, a professor, from the moment he wakes up to when he goes back to bed.
Isherwood's prose is beautiful and he writes with the ability of one who sees humanity in and with all of it's blights and imperfections.
This day in the life of George, who is grieving the unexpected and untimely loss of his life partner Jim, proves itself to be mundane and yet moving at the same time. There is a sense of melancholy and loss that pervades this work from George's awakening in the morning through dressing for work. The reader gets the impression of a soul clothed in a body, clothed in a suit, clothed in persona designed to function in a world in which he does not quite fit and does not quite feel accepted. (I found this part of the book to be very relatable to any reader who feels parts of their lives to be rejected or to be a nonentity of society.)
George's only recourse to his bereavement is to keep on going as he always has and find a safety net in that routine. As such the book focuses on the mundane details of George's day to day life. It describes his walk to the university, lecturing the students, the small interactions he has with people. I think that is the strength of the book. The story is a very intimate portrayal of grief, loneliness and how these emotions can touch even the smallest of parts of one's life.
It's a stark narrative. George felt as if he could be my neighbor, my friend, my brother.
I found the book to be engaging, sensitive, and haunting; a very reasonable portrayal of the subject matter.

sep 25, 2015, 11:21am

I thought A Single Man was a very moving book. There was a good movie starring Colin Firth also.

sep 25, 2015, 1:35pm

>188 laytonwoman3rd:
I will have to see if I can find the movie for I liked the book a great deal.

I also found the book moving but not over the top with sentimentality. I liked that about it.

Redigeret: okt 18, 2015, 11:37pm

112. Diana's Story by Deric Longden; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (5*)

A very touching memoir of a couple living through the wife's long & debilitating disease. I found it both funny & extremely heartrending.

113. John Thomas and Lady Jane by D. H. Lawrence; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (4*)

This is a novel the reader can become lost in. It is one of three versions of Lady Chatterley's Lover & this reader loved it. This second draft of the final version of the novel, I found to be even better than the one so well read. It's about two people from different worlds who fall in love & I thought it a lovely story, very sweet, simple & tender without a lot of sensationalism.

Redigeret: okt 19, 2015, 4:06pm

114. Peyton Place by Grace Metalious; VMC; ROOT, {acquired 4/27/2009}; (3 1/2*)
115. The Black Echo by Michael Connelly; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (4*)
116. The Black Ice by Michael Connelly; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (3 1/2*)

Redigeret: okt 19, 2015, 10:35am

>190 rainpebble: Verrrry interesting about the Lawrence. I knew there were multiple versions, but I've never known anyone who read more than one of them. I found Connie more irritating than sympathetic when I read Lady Chatterly's Lover.

Redigeret: okt 19, 2015, 3:50pm

>192 laytonwoman3rd:
Linda, I am afraid that when I read the common edition (which was the only one I knew about back then) in my late teens/early twenties I was very off-put by it. But this one I really liked; perhaps even enough to revisit Lady Chatterly's Lover.


114. Peyton Place by Grace Metalious; {acquired 4/2009}; (3 1/2*)

Back in the mid-sixties I had to read this book at night under the covers & with a flash light. My Pop would not allow this smut to be read by his 13 year old daughter and yet when it made an appearance on television as a weekly series he was the first one to be glued to the set! ;-) Dear ole Dad.

I think we all know or know about the story of a small town with enough sex going on to literally write a book about. Metalious grows her characters with great care and attention. As an adult/senior I came back to revisit Peyton Place and was amazed at how really well written this book is. It is not just smut but a superbly written novel ahead of its time.

okt 19, 2015, 3:15pm

115. The Black Echo by Michael Connelly; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (4*)

A mystery/police procedural with a distinctive 'noirish' twist to it. The first of the Harry Bosch series, I found it to be both enjoyable and frightening.
A body has been found in a reservoir pipe in Los Angeles (Harry's precinct area) and he recognizes the man as someone with whom he served in Nam. As Harry works the case he finds that he is not only fighting the clock to close the case but also fighting some of those within the internal 'blue line'.
Well done, Connelly. You have drawn me into your grasp.

Redigeret: okt 19, 2015, 4:23pm

116. The Black Ice by Michael Connelly; ROOT, {acquired prior to L/T}; (3 1/2*)

This story is another well written tale. This one is about an investigation in Mexico against the drug lord who is making and distributing black ice, the newest drug craze in the U.S.
This novel reads like classic noir & the reader can feel the low reverberating tones of a lonely sax in the 'City of Angels'.
I am really getting attached to this Bosch character and am thrilled that I found this series buried in a box of books that my brother gave me & I stored in our shop. I will have to purchase the more recent two when I come to them.

nov 2, 2015, 10:25am

So very much going on in my R/L in October that I am afraid I did not get much reading of any kind done. We are now settled into our 5 month Arizona wintering site though we have yet to fall into a routine as it is our first year as snowbirds. But I hope to do some reading while here.
Our internet service provider will be out this afternoon to hook us up with our own service as the complimentary wi-fi service here is sketchy at best. That will make both of us much happier. One forgets how much business one takes care of through our computer until one is without.

Happy Reading for November everyone.

Redigeret: nov 27, 2015, 3:47pm

(Our wintering camp site for the next 5 months)

117. The Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly; Root, {acquired 1994}; (4*)
118. The White Queen by Philippa Gregory; ROOT, {acquired 2009); (4*)
119. The Last Coyote by Michael Connelly; ROOT, {acquired 1995}; (4*)
120. The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory; ROOT, {acquired 2010}; (3 1/2*)
121. Trunk Music by Michael Connelly; ROOT, {acquired 1997}; (4 1/2*)
122. A Virtuous Woman by Kaye Gibbons; ROOT, {acquired 2007}; (4*)
123. A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines; ROOT, {acquired 2007}; (4 1/2*)
124. The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory; ROOT, {acquired 2011}; (4*)

Redigeret: nov 9, 2015, 4:04pm

117. The Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly; Root; (4 1/2*)

As I read Connelly's Harry Bosch novels in order they just keep getting better and better. In this novel we return to an incident referenced in the first two books; Harry Bosch's killing of Norman Church, a murderer known as 'The Dollmaker'. Bosch had violated police procedure by going to the Dollmaker's apartment alone and had shot the Dollmaker after incorrectly concluding that he was reaching for a gun. Nonetheless, the LAPD concluded that the Dollmaker had committed eleven brutal murders. Although makeup from nine of the victims was found in the Dollmaker's possession Bosch now finds himself a defendant in a federal court civil trial brought by the Dollmaker's wife. He is accused of having violated the Dollmaker's civil rights.
The description of this trial is fascinating. Mrs. Church is represented by a high profile attorney known for her legal skills and air of righteous indignation. Bosch is represented by a Deputy City Attorney. Nonetheless Bosch is hopeful that given the ample evidence against the Dollmaker the jury will find in his favor.
However just as the trial begins another body turns up, murdered the very same way as the other victims. Known as The Concrete Blonde, she was murdered after Bosch had killed the Dollmaker. Could Bosch possibly have killed the wrong man or is there a copycat killer out there? If that is the case can the police find him in time and will any of this affect the ongoing trial?
I enjoyed The Black Echo and thought The Black Ice to be an excellent read but The Concrete Blonde is the best of the bunch so far.
I'm seriously loving this BOSCH character!

Redigeret: nov 9, 2015, 4:41pm

118. The White Queen by Philippa Gregory; ROOT; (4*)

This is a wonderful historical account laced with fiction provided by the author. A story that is quite believable of the times of the Lancaster and York families in 1400s England.

This story of Elizabeth Woodville, who marries King Edward and becomes Queen of England is a most fascinating study of medieval England. The novel is scattered with moments of laughter, joy, terror, horror, revulsion and even/especially heart breaking sadness.

What a great way to be entertained and at the same time pick up a fairly accurate flow of the history of the day. Within this story the good guys are obvious. The bad guys are clearly bad. The action flows when it should and slows down at just the right moments.

A very nice way to learn of far ago times without actually reading a textbook. I would recommend this book for those interested in the history of the times.

I have read much on the Tudor lines but not the Lancaster/York lines so I quite enjoyed this book.

Redigeret: nov 5, 2015, 12:41pm

119. The Last Coyote by Michael Connelly; ROOT; (4*)

I just love the character of Harry Bosch! He is rough around the edges. He lives and works his job on the edge, giving it his all.
He is our damaged hero and yet we can identify with him and I always find myself cheering him on and wanting him to get the solve in every case he works. I love the 'noir' feeling that goes along with this series and also seeing the 'underbelly' of Bosch's city from his eye.
This book gives additional insights into why Harry behaves the way he does and why he is driven by a desire to see the bad guys get their just reward. The book is well written and has some surprising twists and turns which kept this reader involved until the very last page. As with the other books in the series I am always left wanting more.

Redigeret: nov 9, 2015, 4:10pm

120. The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory; ROOT; (3 1/2*)

It was my great pleasure to read this, the 2nd of the Cousin's War series. This one covers the life & times of the one day to be Queen Mother, Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry Tudor and heiress to the Lancaster line to the throne. She tells the tale in her own words, including her 3 loveless but profitable marriages, her plans and struggles to keep Henry in the lineage & moving up the line closer and closer to the throne of England.

She also talks of her religious ardor and dedication to God even though she, at times feels personally abandoned by God, she never loses faith that it is the will of God that her son one day inherit & sit on the throne of England.

Gregory's writing style makes it comfortable to follow the tale and follow the characters albeit there are a few pages that are a bit of a tedious go. However, it was all worth it to this reader and I enjoyed the novel. I am looking forward to going on with the series.

Redigeret: nov 13, 2015, 1:23pm

121. Trunk Music by Michael Connelly; ROOT, {acquired 1997}; (4 1/2*)

Another most excellent Bosch detective novel. The author has this character well developed & nailed down. I feel as if I understand a bit of what makes Bosch click by now and he is a well rounded character.
This particular story begins with a murder in one of the canyons off Mulholland Drive in Hollywood. Having the ups & downs, twists & turns, flack within the LAPD, as with Connelly's other novels always makes for a great read! And this one adds a nice twist with switching it up between Vegas & L.A.
Keep them coming Connelly. I am liking them.

Redigeret: nov 20, 2015, 11:24am

122. A Virtuous Woman by Kaye Gibbons; ROOT, {acquired 2007}; (4*)

This is a simple but beautifully drawn novel about the love within a marriage. It is the story of Jack & Ruby. They were both migrant workers & Jack fell for Ruby the first time he saw her. Ruby's life was not an easy one and Jack wanted to remove her burdens from her lovely shoulders.

As I read this story I thought often of my own parents & my husband's. Both couples worked their way West from Kansas & Missouri respectively, doing migratory, seasonal work all the way.

The story follows Jack & Ruby and his love for her throughout their marriage & her illness. The sweetness of this tender tale had me in tears more than once. I really cared about both of these characters and for a bit of time I lived their lives with them.

I highly recommend this book by Gibbons. You will be so glad you read it.

Redigeret: nov 20, 2015, 11:26am

123. A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines; {acquired 2007}; (4 1/2*)

A Lesson Before Dying is set in a small town during the 1940s. It is the story of two black men; one wrongly accused of murder and the other convinced by family to share knowledge and pride with the accused during his last days before being executed. It is a wonderful story about the friendship created between two black men in a racially charged society.
Grant Wiggins has returned to his home town to teach children in a village school and while he is in the process of making his own life changing decision, his aunt & the convicted man's grandmother persuade him to visit Jefferson in jail. With all of his own problems in mind he visits and attempts to help Jefferson. During the story the author shows the many difficulties and problems that Grant faces as a black man and the author expresses this in the novel through Grant's thoughts.
The weekly visits give Grant a chance to share some knowledge with Jefferson but he is also reluctant to get involved in a situation he has no control over nor any patience for. His aunt and Jefferson's grandmother have coerced him to go but he doesn't realize how much this will help him. He is taken through his midlife crisis partly by the experience and views on life he received from Jefferson. So he gains as well as gives.
The plot of this story revolves around the two main characters who are completely different in every way but who come together because of family ties. The novel is a great story about life's struggles and the problems that we all go through in day to day living. It conveys morals, values and a sense of humanity that are noble and should be used by all of us in life.
Gaines creates a setting of cruelty and prejudice throughout the events in the story and despite this the two men forge a bond and together find a way to overcome the power of racism in their lives. Without each other they would not be able to cope with the events of their lives.
I very highly recommend this book to every reader out there.

Redigeret: nov 27, 2015, 4:41pm

124. The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory; ROOT, {acquired 2011}; (4*)

The story of Jacquetta (Lady Rivers) is so interesting that it is surprising she has been quite lost to history. She was a Frenchwoman who married the most powerful Duke in England and goes to live in the country which was the enemy of her homeland. Jacquetta goes on to break every rule and marries for love, influencing the kingdom as one of the Queen's ladies-in-waiting. And all of this before her daughter became Queen of England.
Jacquetta was the mother of Elizabeth Woodville and is a fascinating woman to read about. She appears right in the middle of the War of the Roses & history dictated the role she was to play. I had never heard of her before reading The White Queen. I felt I wanted to know more about her as she has been my favorite character in this series. This book describes a time in England's history that is difficult to imagine and fills in a good deal of information missing from the other books of the series.
I quite enjoyed it.

Redigeret: nov 20, 2015, 10:04pm

>204 rainpebble: I've read this book twice, and got so much out of it each time. It blew me away the first time I read it, in particular the dialogue scenes with Jefferson, who gradually goes from stony silence to finally opening up. An amazing work.

nov 27, 2015, 3:40pm

>206 kac522:
Kathy, I so agree with every word you said except that I've not yet read it twice. However I am sure that I will read it again at some point. Gaines is a most wonderful author.

nov 29, 2015, 12:30am

Yes, he is. I'm hoping to read more of his work in 2016.

dec 18, 2015, 11:39am

Haven't read a thing this month.......... **sad face**