Little Taiko's 11 in 11 Challenge
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The step method is definitely called for this year as there is no way I would ever be able to read 11 books in 11 categories - at least not if I wish to remain gainfully employed. I really liked the step challenge method that SqueakyChu set up and will use that for my own list.
1. Bios - 3
2. Non-Fiction - 4
3. Science Fiction - 5
4. Classics - 6
5. Mysteries - 7
6. Fiction - 8
7. Agatha Christie - 7
8. Favorite Authors - 6
9. Leftovers - 5
10. Historical - 4
11. Plays or Poetry - 3
Biographies - hopefully I can make a dent in the presidential biographies I have piled up. At the very least, I'd like to finally finish the William Henry Harrison one.
1. Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff January 3 stars
2. Old Tippecanoe by Freeman Cleaves March 3 stars
3. John Tyler by Gary May June 4 stars
4. James K. Polk by John Seigenthaler October - 4 stars
5. Rafa by Rafael Nadal October - 3 stars
Non-fiction - this will be easy since my book club will read four non-fiction books this year.
1. Dirty Sexy Politics by Meghan McCain January 3 stars
2. The Bucolic Plague by Josh Kilmer-Purcell April 4 stars
3. Just Kids by Patti Smith May 4 stars
4. Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach August 4 stars
5. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell August 2 stars
6. My Korean Deli by Ben Ryder Howe October 3 stars
7. The Man in the Rockefeller Suit by Mark Seal November 4 stars
Science fiction - this will be more challenging since I am not a huge science fiction reader. However, I read a book by Connie Willis this past year and would like to read more.
1. The Little Book: A Novel by Selden Edwards February 3 stars
2. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis July 4 stars
3. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline August 5 stars
4. Blackout by Connie Willis November 4 stars
5. All Clear by Connie Willis November 4 stars
6. All About Emily by Connie Willis December 5 stars
Classics - four of them should be easy due to my book club, but the other two will be the challenge. Maybe I'll finally finish Martin Chuzzlewit this year.
1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte April (5 stars)
2. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys April (1 star)
3. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins June (4 stars)
4. East of Eden by John Steinbeck October (5 stars)
5. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut November (4 stars)
6. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe December (1 star)
Mysteries - piece of cake!
1. An Impartial Witness by Charles Todd January - 4 stars
2. A Most Contagious Game by Catherine Aird February - 4 stars
3. Green for Danger by Christianna Brand March - 3 stars
4. Bookplate Special by Lorna Barrett March - 3 stars
5. The Bar on the Seine by Georges Simenon April - 3 stars
6. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin June - 3 stars
7. Chapter and Hearse by Lorna Barrett July - 3 stars
8. I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman September - 3 stars
9. Faithful Place by Tana French September - 3 stars
10. The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton September - 4 stars
11. The Unfinished Clue by Georgette Heyer September - 4 stars
12. Naughty in Nice by Rhys Bowen October - 4 stars
13. Death Comes to Pemberley by PD James December - 2 stars
Fiction - should be attainable with four of the books coming from my book club and the other four to be of my choosing. Definitely lots to choose from based on the piles of books at my house.
1. The Sherlockian by Graham Moore January - 4 stars
2. The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine January - 2 stars
3. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson February 4 stars
4. Great House by Nicole Krauss February 3 stars
5. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender March 3 stars
6. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman April - 3 stars
7. The Engineer of Human Souls by Josef Skvorecky May - 3 stars
8. Left Neglected by Lisa Genova June - 3 stars
9. Room by Emma Donoghue August - 3 stars
10. The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman October - 3 stars
11. The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht December - 2 stars
12. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes December - 5 stars
Agatha Christie - it's been ages since I've read one of her books. I'd love to reread all of them but will settle for at least seven this year.
1. Mysterious Affair at Styles February - 4 stars
2. The Secret Adversary April - 3 stars
3. The Murder on the Links April - 3 stars
4. The Man in the Brown Suit July - 4 stars
5. Poirot Investigates August - 3 stars
6. The Secret of Chimneys October - 4 stars
7. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd November - 5 stars
Favorite Authors - one of my favorite categories since I get to read something new by my favorite authors.
1. Live Wire by Harlan Coben March (4 stars)
2. One was a Soldier by Julia Spencer-Fleming April (4 stars)
3. Mrs. Jeffries Forges Ahead (A Victorian Mystery) by Emily Brightwell May (4 stars)
4. Nowhere to Run by C. J. Box May (3 stars)
5. Running on Empty by Sandra Balzo June (3 stars)
6. Cold Wind by C. J. Box June (5 stars)
7. Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos October (3 stars)
8. A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny November (5 stars)
9. Mrs. Jeffries & The Mistletoe Mix-up by Emily Brightwell (3 stars)
10. Triple Shot by Sandra Balzo December (3 stars)
Leftovers - not sure what will end up here, most likely overflow from the other categories.
1. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen July - 2 stars
2. Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister July - 4 stars
3. The Coffins of Little Hope by Timothy Schaffert August - 3 stars
4. Dancing with Mr. Darcy by Sarah Waters August - 3 stars
5. The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma August - 5 stars
Historical - this can cover almost anything, fiction or non-fiction. I'm interested to see where this one takes me.
1. As Always, Julia by Joan Reardon March (5 stars)
2. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot March (5 stars)
3. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain September (4 stars)
4. Fall of Giants by Ken Follett September (3 stars)
#1 - What a fun and interesting book to start the year with - The Sherlockian. It is the story of Arthur Conan Doyle and a missing diary as well as a modern day Sherlockian trying to solve the murder of a fellow Sherlock Holmes enthusiast. Told in alternating chapters, it offers a fascinating look at early 1900 England as well as a lot of Sherlock Holmes information. Makes me want to get out my Sherlock Holmes book and start reading!
Glad to see you enjoyed The Sherlockian! I am 50 pages into the book so far and while it hasen't grabbed me so far, I am not compelled to abandon it either. I am more encouraged now to follow through with the book!
The Sherlockian sounds like a book I would love. It's now on my list of TBRs to get from the library.
#2 - Even though I don't agree with all of her beliefs, I really enjoyed Dirty Sexy Politics by Meghan McCain. This was a fun, light, and refreshing political read. She makes some good points while being entertaining. Obviously, she isn't completely biased but her opinions on the 2008 election are insightful and refreshingly honest.
#3 - The only reason I actually finished reading The Three Weissmanns of Westport is because it was supposed to be a modern day twist on Sense and Sensibility. I suppose in some way it is, but unfortunately, the story doesn't work in today's world. Back when women had no other choice to support themselves than through marriage, this story would make sense. Today though, there isn't a good reason why these women should be so unable to care for themselves. I would be hard pressed to find a more self-involved unlikeable group of women in one story. Annie came the closest to being the most likeable but even then she got on my nerves. There were so many other things that didn't make sense, but I would be typing all day.
#4 - Love the Bess Crawford series by Charles Todd. The second book in the series, An Impartial Witness follows Bess, a nurse during WWI, as she solves a murder involving one of her patients. Bess is an interesting character with lots of spunk. It's also an interesting look at WWI which is an area of history I'm not as familiar with. I'm looking forward to reading more in this series.
I received an Early Reviewers copy of the first Bess Crawford book and really liked it. The second book is on my wish list but I haven't managed to pick up a copy yet. I do intend to read it at some point. Glad to hear that the second one lives up to the standard set with the first book.
#5 - Overall Cleopatra: A Life was a fascinating look at Cleopatra's life with all of the violence, romance, and intrigue that was a huge part of her life. Until now, I hadn't really known much about Cleopatra and was surprised to find out how strong of a woman she was. From the sounds of the times she lived in, she had to be tough. It was also surprising to see how women were treated back then. In Egypt they were given so many opportunities to learn, lead, and be independent. Sadly, the Romans seem to have put an end to that.
#6 - A Most Contagious Game has so many things that I enjoy in a mystery - it's set in an English village, there is a hidden room, and fun characters. This is a stand alone book by the author of the Inspector Sloan series. It being a stand alone book is my only complaint. I really enjoyed spending time with these characters and want to learn more about what happened to them.
#7 - Loved Major Pettigrew's Last Stand. It is the very enjoyable story of a very proper retired Major who is happily living in small English village. While trying to deal with his brother's death he has to also manage coming to terms with a changing world, disappointing relatives, while maintaining his very definite views on how people should act. It's also a very sweet love story and shows that you never know when or where love will find you. While I didn't always understand the Major's point of view, I admired his ability to hold firm to his beliefs regardless of what others might think. It's a rare thing to really know and be yourself.
#8 - One of my goals for this year was to reread some Agatha Christie books. It has been so long since I last read anything by her and I have kind of missed them. First up was her first book The Mysterious Affair at Styles which I remembered as being one of my favorites. I'm happy to report that that is still the case. It's so interesting to reread Agatha Christie in my 30's as opposed to when I was a teenager or in my early 20's. There are things that I notice and appreciate more. I had a vague recollection of who the murder was but still was able to enjoy the story especially since some of the clues became more obvious. She's such a great writer though, that even having an idea of where it was going, I didn't pick up on everything. I'm really looking forward to reading more by her throughout the year.
#9 - I was so torn on what rating to give Great House, but finally settled on 3 stars. The premise was intriguing - a desk that is somehow at the center of three different stories, yet the stories themselves were a bit pretentious. However, I still couldn't help but be interested in where the book was going and to find out how/if their lives overlapped. I remain haunted by their stories, even if the majority of the characters didn't make sense to me - their reactions and how they lived their lives were a bit too melancholic for my taste. So many times I wanted to shout at them to grow up and stop feeling sorry for themselves. At the very least, this is a book that I will continue to think about.
#10 - I ended up being a bit disappointed in The Little Book: A Novel. It started off interestingly enough, with Wheeler Burden waking up in Vienna in 1897 with his last memory being from 91 years later. However, the characters were a little too incredible for words - nobody is that perfect. It was interesting to get a sense of Vienna at that time though, where music and art were so important, Freud had yet to become well known, and Hitler was a young boy of 8. However, as Wheeler tries to come to terms with his new present as well as his past, the story just went in a direction I wasn't entirely comfortable with. Overall though it was an entertaining enough read.
#11 - Green for Danger was an interesting and good mystery set in England during the Blitz. One of the old-fashioned kind of stories with six potential murderers and really no opportunity for any of them to have done it. The clues are there if you look hard enough.
#12 - Some days you just need a good quick fun read and Bookplate Special was just that book for me. The third book in the series of a small town that has several book stores as their main tourist attraction (sounds like heaven to me!). Once again, the owner of the mystery book store finds a dead body and tries to track down the killer. I have to give credit to the writer for her use of the side characters. She has manged to develop several of them over the course of the three books and you never know what could actually happen to them. Looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
What a great thread! For whatever reason I hadn't seen it before today, but I'm really enjoying what you've read and your thoughts on those books, LittleTaiko. I like how you write, and I just wanted to let you know.
#13 - A couple of years ago I read Julie & Julia and became fascinated by Julia Child. I vaguely remembered her from my youth, but learning more about her was really interesting. After that, I moved on to My Life in France which was even more interesting. Most recently, I discovered As Always, Julia a compilation of the letters between Julia Child and Avis DeVoto which can only be described as fascinating. Reading the letters between these two amazing women that spanned quite a number of years was a real education. Not only were you able to see the development of a great cookbook, but you were able to see history from the perspective of the people living at the time. Learning about new household conveniences, the politics of the day, and various other issues made for a very enjoyable read.
#14 - Always happy when the latest Harlan Coben book comes out. Even happier when the book is a return to Myron and Win. Live Wire does what Coben does best - it entertains, explores Myron's humanity and Win's supposed lack of it. Fans of the series will enjoy another visit with Myron and his friends and family.
#15 - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was such a compelling read. The story of one lady's cancer cells who have been used for decades for research and have in fact helped cure various diseases. Yet, for many years her family was unaware that her cells were being used for anything. It explore the ethical issues of who really owns our tissues or cells when they are no longer part of our body. The author did an excellent job of alternating between the science and the family. She explained the science of cells in a way that made it easy to understand. You could also sense the compassion she has for the lacks family and how important they were to her as people. It really opened my eyes to what life was like for a poor black family in the 50's and why there could be such distrust for the medical profession at that time.
#16 - Oh, how I really wanted to like The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake more than what I actually did. The premise started off strong, a nine year girl discovers on her birthday that she can taste what people are feeling in the foods they prepare. However, the book went in a different direction than what I wanted and in fact went into a territory I found downright strange. Maybe it's the incredibly logical part of me that couldn't quite appreciate what the author was trying to do. The moral of the story I suppose is that we love our families and friends both for their good and bad points. It just seems that the story could have been told in a better fashion and still had the same message. The mother/daughter story didn't ring true to me with the father being the most sympathetic character in the book.
#17 - I did it! I finally finished Old Tippecanoe!!! For some reason it has taken me over a year to finish this book. I should be clear that this is in no way a reflection on the quality of the book. In fact, it was a really interesting read, though at times a bit over my head. Amazing that a biography on a president who was only in office for a month should be over 300 pages, but it's only because William Henry Harrison at such a full and interesting life. It would have been interesting to see what his presidency would have looked like.
#18 - What's not to love about The Bucolic Plague? The tale of two New York city boys who buy a mansion & farm in the country and become weekend farmers was funny, entertaining, and despite what the author said in the beginning a little inspirational and though provoking. The story about the goats had me laughing so hard. A wonderful book!
@32 -- I have to admit, the premise doesn't sound that interesting to me, but the title is kind of selling me! :)
33 - I grew up on a dairy farm so I could appreciate their problems. Now that I am a city girl, I could relate to the back and forth between the worlds. It really was a charming book - funny and real.
#19 - Perfect day off of work book to read - The Bar on the Seine. It was short, old-fashioned, entertaining. Set in France during the early 1900's, it is one of the early Inspector Maigret mysteries. A convict set to die gives Maigret evidence regarding a cold case. How he solves the case gives you insight into the character and shows off various parts of the Paris social scene.
#20 - Love rereading the Agatha Christie books. This time around was book #2 - The Secret Adversary, the first book to introduce Tommy & Tuppence. Outside of her ridiculous name, Tuppence is quite the independent woman which I always adore. Tommy is a the perfect English gentlemen. Together on their first adventure they show ingenuity and a certain fearlessness. The inscription to the book reads "To all those who lead monotonous lives in the hope that they may experience at second hand the delights and dangers of adventure."
I love the Tommy and Tuppence books! I wish Christie had written more of them.
#21 - You read one Agatha Christie and then you immediately want to read another! Next up was The Murder on the Links, the third in the series and the second featuring Hercule Poirot. A very solid mystery considering she was at the beginning of her writing career. Lots of twists and turns, though maybe one too many for my taste, which lead you to an exciting ending.
#22 - When a new book by Julia Spencer-Fleming comes out, I immediately stop reading all other books so that I can read the latest in the Clare Regusson/Russ Van Alstyne series. This seventh book in the series did not disappoint. One Was a Soldier is not only a mystery but it does an admirable job of showing the difficulties soldiers have adjusting to life after combat. The beauty of her stories is how all the characters major and minor continue to develop. Her characters are some of the most realistic to be found in mysteries today.
#23 - Wow! I had forgotten how much I loved Jane Eyre. It was a book I remembered liking but sadly it had been 20 years or so since I had last read it. It was interesting to read this as an adult and happily I found the book to still be meaningful. Jane's strength of character is to be admired. In this day and age many people would do well to try and follow her lead. Yes, there are a few flaws (one coincidence that is a bit contrived) but I'm willing to overlook that since there are so many good qualities.
#24 - The title of the book The Imperfectionists really sums up well what you are going to get. A collection of short stories regarding a declining newspaper in Rome, it is told through the perspectives of various employees and readers of the paper. Unfortunately, only a couple of the people are really likeable and all are rather sad and pathetic in their own special way. Thinking about it more, it's no wonder their newspaper is failing. However, despite all that, I did enjoy reading the book and it gave me a better understanding of the newspaper world. Not really sure what this book was getting such rave reviews though.
32: Darn you! I just had to add The Bucolic Plague to my wishlist now :P
#25 - All I can say about Wide Sargasso Sea the imagined prequel to Jane Eyre is that thankfully it was really short. Enough said.
#26 - Just Kids was a fascinating look at the life of two artists in New York during the peak of all the famous artists like Andy Warhol, Janis Joplin, etc...I read this not really knowing anything about Patti Smith or Robert Mapplethorpe and upon finishing the book, I must say I have no desire to see his art work. Yet, even though his style isn't my taste, I couldn't help but admire their devotion to what they believed in. It's not something my little accounting brain can easily wrap itself around. It made me think that maybe when an artist strikes me as being pretentious and weird just for the sake of making a statement that maybe it's not always the case. It is quite possible that they are just marching to a much more interesting beat than I am.
#27 - Always enjoy the Inspector and Mrs. Jeffries series and the latest book didn't disappoint. Mrs. Jeffries Forges Ahead finds Mrs. Jeffries and the rest of the gang doing what they do best. A proper mystery with plenty of clues. It was the perfect read for the few hours I was stuck on an airplane.
#28 - I really don't know what to say about this book. The Engineer of Human Souls was an interesting and yet confusing book. Honestly, I'm not sure I understand everything that happened in this tale of a Czech immigrant now living in Canada. The story jumps around frequently and requires the utmost concentration. Characters names change and/or overlap at times. It is almost like reading somebody's journal but with the pages all out of order. The stories are interesting, though at times, like in a journal, maybe more interesting to the person writing than to the reader. The reviews of the book made me think it would be a much funnier book than what it was. I chuckled a couple of times but never had a laugh out loud moment. With all of the being said though, I found myself enjoying the book and looking forward to reading more. I can't wait to discuss this book with my book club in the hopes of gaining a better understanding of the book.
Your review of The Engineer of Human Souls has intrigued me enough to go and investigate this one further. Thanks!
#29 - Catching up on the C. J. Box series now - Nowhere to Run was a solid entry in the Joe Pickett series. However, this one was a bit disappointing compared to some of the others. Don't get me a wrong, a slightly off book by C. J. Box is still a really good book, I just felt that something was off this time around. Part of the problem was the ending which felt rushed and was fairly unsatisfying. As usual, Joe finds himself in rather dangerous and unusual situation that is never as cut and dried as he would like. The moral dilemmas are always thought provoking and timely.
#30 = I have loved the Maggy Thorsen series by Sandra Balzo so was interested in her new series. Running on Empty did not disappoint. Set in a small North Carolina town, AnnaLisa comes home for a weekend to check up on her mother and finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. One of the things that the author does best is create characters that feel real to me. They have real jobs with real problems but also have real friendships and conversations. They are the sort of people that I would love to be friends with. I'm really looking forward to reading more in this series as I find myself missing these people.
We've got Nowhere to Run at the library, and I hope to get to it soon. I've seen others who felt this one wasn't quite up to Box's usual standards, but I've enjoyed the installments I've read. I haven't tried the other series. I'll investigate it a bit more!
#31 - Now this is the C. J. Box I know and love. Cold Wind was such a good book. The premise was a bit different this time since the murder being investigated isn't necessarily related to Joe's job as a game warden. The very timely subject of using wind as a source of energy serves as the backdrop to the murder as well. As usual, Box does a good job of presenting both sides of an issue through the eyes of his characters. As an added bonus, the story also spends more time with Nate and sets up some interesting possibilities for the next book.
#32 - I had such high expectations for Lisa Genova's second book after the wonderful Still Alice, that I was probably destined to be disappointed with Left Neglected. While it was overall enjoyable, it was nowhere near as good as her first book. In fact, it was only the memory of her first book that kept me going through the first part of Left Neglected. The main character is one of those ridiculous people who insist upon working 70 plus hours while trying to raise three kids. Oh yeah, she and her husband are also living beyond their means which is sort of glossed over. It's only once the accident occurs does the book become more interesting, especially since I had never heard of this condition before. Her road to "recovery" was interesting and filled with some humorous moments. Her thoughts sometimes echoed what I imagine mine would be during that situation. The ending was a bit predictable and contrived. In a way, the book tried to cover too much and didn't give enough attention to the various issues it was trying to discuss. That being said, I did enjoy the time I spent reading the book.
#33 - Considered to be one of the first mysteries ever written, Moonstone is an interesting tale told through several different character's perspectives. To be fair, I tend to love books that are told from multiple points of view since it makes the story more interesting to see how different people perceive the actions. Written in 1868, some of the characters and prejudices are quite dated and seem a bit silly now. Overall though, the theft and search for the title object was an interesting character study full of red herrings.
#34 - It seems that Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter has been nominated for so many mystery awards this year that I just had to read it. Overall I enjoyed the book but didn't love it the way I expected to based on all the high praise that had been given to the book already. The story of a white boy who becomes friends with a black boy during the 70's in a small Mississippi town was depicted fairly realistically. The language and grammar accurately reflect the way people in a lot of small southern towns communicate. The scandal that haunts the two boys seemed a bit simplistic and I found it hard to believe that the repercussions were as severe as they were. The ending seemed a bit predictable too.
#35 - Really glad that I have been able to keep plugging away at the presidential bios. John Tyler was an interesting read since I really didn't know that much about it. Surely somewhere in the Texas history classes I was forced to sit through, I learned that he was president when Texas was annexed. However, that somehow had slipped my mind. So many firsts happened during his presidency - first person to become president that wasn't elected, the first to be be considered a traitor after he left office, the list goes on. The author did a nice job of telling you what you needed to know in a way that made sense. I doubt that Tyler will ever be considered a great president but he was a man who knew what he wanted and acted accordingly.
#36 - Cyrano de Bergerac was different than what I expected since my only point of reference was the Steve Martin movie, Roxanne. I really enjoyed the play, especially Cyrano's speech about the many ways to insult his nose. Cyrano was such an interesting character and I admired the way he handled himself. Roxanne's character was a bit weak to me and it was hard to understand how she could inspire such passion from two men.
#37 - The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie has always been one of my favorites. I read it for the first time when I was a teenager and loved the adventuresome spirit of the heroine. The book has humor, adventure, romance, and of course murder. It's too bad she didn't write any other books featuring Anne Beddingfeld.
> 51 The Man in the Brown Suit is one of the best Christie novels. I too wish she'd written more with Anne (and a few less with Poirot).
#38 - I am very glad that I read about Connie Willis a few years ago since I would have been missing some really good science fiction books. Doomsday Book was an interesting and fast paced book about a girl sent back in time to the Middle Ages while the team that is responsible for her find themselves fighting a modern day epidemic. The narrative alternates between the two times and helps provide enough tension to keep you reading more. Her books have enough humor in them as well - loved the character of Colin since he provided quite a bit comic relief. This books was also an interesting look at what life could have been like in the Middle Ages and how much things have changed.
#39 - Chapter and Hearse was a welcome break from the rather long and depressing book that I'm currently reading (more on that later once I actually finish said book). Another murder has occurred in the small town that is fortunate to have multiple book stores (my idea of a great place to live). The main character seemed to finally have a little personal growth in that she screwed up a couple of times and at least admitted she was wrong. Also, she's finally realizing that trying to be perfect all the time might not be necessary. Aside from that, the mystery itself was decent and I still like the characters.
I've still got a book or two before I get to Chapter and Hearse in the series, but I'm sure I'll eventually get there!
#40 - So, the long and depressing book that I mentioned in my review of Chapter and Hearse was Freedom by Johnathan Franzen. There was enough interesting things in the book that compelled me to keep reading. That and the fact that it's a selection for my book club and I always try to finish those books. But, really - am I supposed to believe that these people are that messed up? That it never occurs to them to grow up and act like an adult for once? While I understood some of Patty's thoughts, they became quite repetitious and therefore very frustrating. Walter was the closest to a likeable character I suppose, though that kind of comes undone in the second half of the book. I gave it two stars solely because of some of the psychological insights that the author seems to nail, but why oh why did he have to get his point across with such unlikeable people and so many pages?
#41 - What a relief to read Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister after the tedious affair of Freedom. The story of a cancer survivor who is about to embark on a challenge given to her by her daughter. Celebrating her recovery with friends, she decides that if she is going to take on a challenge, that all of them need to do something that scares them too. She selects something for each of them to tackle. The book consists of a chapter for each character which is nice and frustrating at the same time. It's nice that you don't get too bogged down in their stories, but each one left me wanting to know more about the character. All in all a really enjoyable book that makes you remember that life isn't about just settling in, but about challenging yourself to do new things sometimes.
#42 - The Coffins of Little Hope was a pleasant read. The story of an octogenarian obituary writer in a small town, a missing girl, and anticipation for the final book in a YA series. It combines these stories to show the power of the press as well as the decline of small town papers. It is also a tale of family and aging with overall realistic characters. It is also one of those books that doesn't try to tie up all loose ends and lets the reader come to their own conclusion.
#43 - As a general rule I do not enjoy short stories very often. There never seems to be enough time to get invested in the characters. However in this case, I really enjoyed Dancing with Mr. Darcy. This is a collection of short stories that are inspired by Jane Austen and or Chawton House. The range of the stories kept it interesting as they varied from modern day retelling of a Jane Austen story to actual usage of some of the characters. My personal favorite was the "One Character in Search of Her Love Story" since it involved a modern day character traveling to meet some of the characters from Pride and Prejudice as well as Jane Eyre. Each story has a short blurb at the end that tells of each authors inspiration. I would recommend this book for readers who enjoy Jane Austen and want to experience her stories in a new light.
#44 - Loved this book - Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers. This book in an entertaining, thoughtful, and easy to understand look at the various things cadavers have been called on to do throughout history in the name of science. It also explores the various options for disposing of ones body through traditional means and some new methods that are evolving. This book really made me think about what I want to happen to me once I die and opened my eyes to all the possible options. The authors humorous approach to the book makes the somewhat disgusting and stomach turning stories a bit easier to take.
#45 - I have to admit that I haven't read much poetry but it was one of my goals this year because I find it interesting. My criteria for whether I like a poet is whether I understand the poem, if it speaks to me on some level. In this case, I really enjoyed Karstic Rivers. Most of the poems have a playful nature to them that I found appealing, even the ones dealing with death or sorrow. My favorites are "When I am Dead," "Skies Full of Snow," "Other Room," "Galveston," and "Corpus Delicti." A lovely short collection that I would recommend.
#46 - One thing I am realizing as I work my way through rereading the Agatha Christie books is that I had forgotten or not realized how humorous they could be. For some reason I envision Poirot a little more stern then he really is. He was very humorous in Poirot Investigates a collection of short stories. I'll never be a fan of the short stories over the books, but these were solidly entertaining.
#47 - Loved, loved, loved The Reading Promise! What a wonderful story about a father/daughter duo and their remarkable reading streak. It really highlights the importance that reading plays in the educational process as well as how books can sometimes bring us together when nothing else can.
#48 - What an amazing and fun read!!!! Ready Player One is a fabulous book that should be read by anyone who grew up in the 80's. Set in 2044, the world has become a really horrible place. The only reprieve is OASIS the virtual world that almost everyone participates in. Full of 80's trivia (movies, video games, music, TV shows, etc...) it is also a fascinating look at the virtual lives people lead. Besides being highly entertaining it also makes you think about relationships and what it means to really live a life. Loved this book!!!!
#49 - Room was a frustrating read. The story of a young woman and her son who are being held captive in a hidden room. One of those books that I felt I was supposed to like more and feel slightly bad for not loving it. Quite frankly, having the book told completely from a 5 year-old's point of view became very tiring. It's irrational I know, but I couldn't help but be annoyed by how illogical he was (I know - he's 5, logic isn't his thing). It would have been interesting to get a better feel for how the mother felt or hear her side of the story sometimes. All in all, I'm left with this - very tragic situation but I just never connected to any of the characters.
#50 - There were times I wanted to throw Outliers across the room but instead I calmly kept reading. There were parts of this book that I found interesting and there were parts that I found highly annoying. At the end, I'm not really sure what the point of the book was. The main takeaways for me were that you needed to do something for 10,000 hours in order to be successful and that luck seems to play a huge part in success. Other than that, it's just a lot of stories that while interesting most of the time, don't really do much to explain success.
#51 - Based on several friend's recommendations, I read The Paris Wife. The book completely lived up to their recommendation. I really didn't know much about Ernest Hemingway or his first wife Hadley so didn't know what to expect. The author does a good job of imagining what life in Paris might have been like for them. It also captures the good and the bad of their marriage and their lives. It really made me interested in reading some of Hemingway's books too.
#52 - I'm trying to read the books nominated for the Anthony Awards this year. One of the nominated books was I'd Know You Anywhere. While an entertaining read, I'm not sure if I think it's award worthy. It's the story of a woman who had been kidnapped as a teenager and let go five weeks later. Her abductor had killed a couple of other girls so the question as always remained, why did he let her live. Told through alternating points of view as well as alternating between the past and the present, you get a decent idea of what each character is thinking. However, I just never really got into their story and found Eliza to be a bit too meek for my taste. The book seemed to raise lots of intriguing questions but never really answers them.
#53 - Another Anthony Awards nominee is Faithful Place by Tana French. An old suitcase has been found believed to belong to a girl who was thought to have run away many years before. This opens up a lot of old wounds for her family and her old boyfriend who is now a police officer. This was a frustrating book to read. I had a hard time getting into the book due to the unlikeable characters and slow paced story telling. However, it picked up nicely around the 100 page mark and I found myself becoming more interested in the story. The ending was a bit predictable regarding who did it. How it was proved wasn't as predictable. My main complaint is with the characters. Who are these people? The main character, Francis, and his family are just some of the meanest and silliest people. They are surrounded by equally mean and silly people. There are a couple of people who were more enjoyable to read about, mainly Olivia and Holly. Overall it was a good story but it has some flaws.
#54 - The Lock Artist was the last book I read of the Anthony Awards nominees. The story of a young "boxman" who can open any safe or lock was an intriguing premise. Add to that the fact that he never speaks and you get an unusual story. It was a very enjoyable story that really made me want to learn how to pick a lock or crack open a safe. Fortunately, I doubt I'll turn to a life of crime since I don't really have the patience!
#55 - Fall of Giants was a very interesting and information story about WWI. It weaves together the stories of different people from Russia, England, America, and Germany. Sadly, I didn't know much about WWI and learned quite a bit. The book was probably mistitled - it should have been called War and Sex since that seems to be what 99% of the book was about. My main complaint was that after a while it became quite repetitive. Maybe that was the point though - even through war, at heart most people are the same. We fall in love, have families, and worry about taking care of the people we love. There were a few too many coincidences and people seemed to fall in love quite easily to be completely realistic. That being said, it was really hard to put the book down and I couldn't help but caring about most of the characters.
#56 - The Unfinished Clue was a delightful read reminiscent of some of Agatha Christie's non Marple or Poirot books with a plucky heroine, a dead body, and lots of clues.
#57 - East of Eden was such an enjoyable read. I was a bit leery of reading it since The Grapes of Wrath was not enjoyable so I was pleasantly surprised by East of Eden. At it's heart it's the classic good vs. evil story with many parallels to Cain & Abel. The descriptions of the Salinas Valley were so picturesque. The characters were varied and I enjoyed spending time with almost all of them, even the despicable and horrible Cathy.
#58 - After two heavyweight books, I desperately needed a return to something lighter and fun and found that in Naughty in Nice. This return to Lady Georgiana's world and capers as she tries to retrieve a stolen item for the queen was just what I needed. The plot was sound and the clues there if you can pick up on them.
Just catching up on your thread, great reviews! Doomsday Book sounds great! I have not read Room yet but I think it would likely have a similar effect on me.
#59 - I vaguely remembered reading The Secret of Chimneys at one point in my life and feeling that I had liked it. Rereading it confirmed the fact that it was a very enjoyable read. Sadly, I couldn't remember who the murderer was and she fooled me as usual. Anthony Cade is a very carefree adventurer who finds himself in a bit of a jam. Even though political intrigue doesn't usually interest me, this book kept me entertained. Love the humor!
#60 - While not a loveable or charismatic president, James K. Polk shows a man of very strong character. It is fascinating to see someone who says they are only going to serve for four years and actually honors that sentiment. Even nicer to see someone set some specific goals, but not too many and actually work to achieve them. Once again, I am struck by the fact that history really does repeat itself. We might light to think we are living in special times, but we are not. The problems we have today and the arguments that are made by both sides are issues that have been around for centuries. We just have faster access to the information now. I would recommend this book for someone looking for a succinct look at what some consider one of the best presidents of all time.
@68 - This was my first Georgette Heyer book and I can't wait to read more! Are there any you would particularly recommend?
@ 70 -- I have only read one of Heyer's mysteries, actually -- Footsteps in the Dark -- but it was very enjoyable in a Christie-ish sort of way. I have, however, read almost all of her romances, and I can confidently recommend them all! My favorites are The Grand Sophy, Cotillion, Sylvester, and Faro's Daughter, but These Old Shades is also a popular favorite.
#61 - I adore Rafael Nadal so was pretty excited to read his autobiography Rafa. It was a little different than I expected but overall enjoyable. As a very amateur tennis player, parts of the book were very helpful in regards to getting my mind in the right spot during a match. The book also provided a nice look into the mind of a champion as well as a behind the scenes look at some of the bigger matches.
#62 - Love the idea of a club similar to the one in The Christmas Cookie Club. In fact, I may have enjoyed the idea more than I actually enjoyed the book. The story of 12 women meeting to exchange cookies and to catch up on each others lives sounds like fun. However, I had a hard time believing that so many women in this group were having affairs or had cheated on their spouses. It seemed a bit much at times. There was one paragraph that really spoke to me though. As the narrator is reflecting on how she met her various friends from different stages in her life, she realizes that "It's hard to put the different stages together as part of one woman's life." So true. It's hard to relate the earlier version of oneself to the present day person sometimes.
#63 - I really wanted to like Falling Together more than I did. Not to say that it's a bad book, but whenever you compare it to her first book Love Walked In it doesn't quite measure up. That might not be a fair way to view a book but I couldn't help it. The story of three college friends who were once incredibly close but now are no longer in touch could have been an interesting premise. However, the reason for their "break-up" seemed quite silly. Pen was a difficult character to support because she seemed to be living in some sort of relationship dreamland where everybody stays. The character I ended up enjoying the most was the one most dislike by others in the book - Jason. While boorish he seemed the most real to me and I could understand him better. Even though it sounds like I didn't like the book, I actually felt it was good but not great. It did keep me interested and thinking about the characters even when I wasn't liking them.
70, 71 > The Grand Sophy is my all-time favorite Georgette Heyer. As a matter of fact, I named one of my cats after the lead character in that book.
A co-worker told me that was her grandmother's name, too. Since I was looking for a name for my other cat, I asked what her other grandmother's name was. I thought "Emma" went fairly well with "Sophy," so my other cat is named for my co-worker's grandmother. :-)
#64 - The beginning of My Korean Deli had me worried as I really wasn't liking any of the people. Once they bought the deli and it became more about the crazy stories about running the deli as well as balancing life at the Paris Review, I became more interested. Sadly, the weakest parts for me were the portions involving his wife and mother-in-law. It was an interesting look though at how cultures can be so different.
#65 - Loved, loved, loved the latest installment from Louise Penny. A Trick of the Light continues the stories of the residents of Three Pines and Gamache. These remain some of the most interesting and complicated characters in a mystery series today. I also love the way that art plays such an important part of each story. She also does an excellent job of plotting. It doesn't feel like she's trying to cram a lot into one book, instead she is slowly setting up further stories as people evolve and situations change - much like real life.
#66 - Not sure what I expected from Slaughterhouse-five but it ended up being a very enjoyable and thought provoking read.
#67 - The Man in the Rockefeller Suit was a fascinating look at one mans incredible deception. It's incredible to think that he was able to maintain such a facade for so long. I really doubt that it could be done in today's world of instant information. It would have been nice to find out what really drove him to follow this path, however we are left to speculate. Truly amazing what he was able to get away with.
#68 - It's hard to decide how good Blackout is until I've finished reading the sequel All Clear. Right now, it's a really good book but it had a lot of open questions that hopefully will be answered in the next book. This series really appeals to me since it has all the things I love - time travel, history, and humor. Can't wait to find out what happens next!
#69 - The Murder of Roger Ackroyd will always be one of my favorite Agatha Christie novels. Even knowing how it ends, it is fascinating to reread and see the things one might have missed along the way.
#70 - Overall I really enjoyed All Clear as it helped me understand some things from Blackout much better. Both books could have been a bit shorter simply by cutting out the excess worrying over whether they had changed events or not. However, I still found the story very compelling and it opened my eyes to what life would have been like during the Blitz. Plus, I really appreciated the Agatha Christie and The Importance of Being Ernest references as I love both.
#71 - Ah, nothing like a good cozy murder for the holidays. Mrs. Jeffries & The Mistletoe Mix-up was just what I needed to get into the holiday spirit. The usual cast of characters is there doing their usual thing. The mystery wasn't one of her best but it was still very enjoyable.
#72 - Oh, Robinson Crusoe was boring, too boring to actually finish though I sure tried to keep going. I can see where in it's day, it would have been exciting, but the endless rambling and page after page of nothing much really happening was more than I could take.
#73 - Maybe, I'm just in a reading funk, but I fail to see why The Tiger's Wife is supposed to be such a wonderful book. It was okay but hardly worth all the praise. It really felt like more of a collection of short stories that are somehow related with a tough for fantasy thrown in. I just wasn't interested in the main character and ended up learning more about some of the peripheral characters. Frustrating book - it seemed like it could have been so much more.
#74 - Absolutely loved The Sense of an Ending. It really made me wish I owned a copy so that I can reread it many times and make notes along the way. Part of it's appeal to me is the humor of the narrator as well how well the author captures the sketchiness of memory. It is amazing how events change the older you get and it's only when faced with evidence of the behavior of your younger self that you realize things might not be as cut and dried as you think. Also loved the reference to Dvorak who I recently discovered.
#75 - Really wanted to like Death Comes to Pemberley more than what I did. It had been billed as Jane Austen meets Clue which sounds great as I really like both things. Sadly, it ended up being less of a mystery and more of rather boring story where the main characters are still dwelling on events from six years ago. The murder almost seemed secondary.
#76 - I really need to meet Connie Willis someday as she seems to be incorporating all the things I love into her books. This time it's a story that weaves old movies, especially All About Eve (one of the greatest movies of all time!) into a short novella about an artificial creature who loves the theater. Loved it!!!
#77 - I really enjoyed Mary Oliver's New and Selected Poems. Almost all of the poems were interesting while several are the kind of poems that you want to reread on a regular basis so you can enjoy the imagery.
#78 - Another solid mystery from Sandra Balzo called Triple Shot. They are always an enjoyable read, and I do like Maggie. Would definitely want to sit down to a bottle of wine with her sometime as she seems like she'd be good company. The mystery itself was interesting enough.
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