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countrylife attempts 75 in 2011, part 2

75 Books Challenge for 2011

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Sep 22, 2011, 9:07am Top

Continued from my first thread.

About my '75 Books Challenge for 2011' Reading List

I'm going to consider this my main reading list, with anything read for other challenges to be included and tallied up here. Dates for my reads will be attributed to the date I finished the book. My monthly-reads posts (at the beginning part of this thread) will be edited to keep my running list, with any book notes/reviews added in new posts. (From monthly-reads list, the book number links to its book notes/review post.)

My Current Challenges:
(Because it makes so much sense to have everything listed in one place, and this shall be that place for me.)

Fifty States Fiction:
..........The group. and My thread.

Canadian Fiction/Non-Fiction Reading Challenge:
..........The group. and My thread.

37 Oldies in 2011:
..........The group. and My thread.

Reading Through Time:
..........The group. and My thread.

The 11 in 11 Category Challenge:
..........The group. and My thread.

My 11/11 categories:
FROM THE LIBRARY – Categories 1 through 10:
Goal: 32 books which garnered favorable reviews from 10 favorite reviewers here on LT.

FROM THE BOXES – Category 11:
Goal: 30 books (as in – just moved, must read and reduce)

Sep 22, 2011, 9:08am Top

2011 Reads so far:

(To reduce clutter in the touchstone list, I'm not going to touchstone these past reads. The book number links to its respective post with my thoughts/review/notes on the book. Books listed in bold are my favorite books of the month.)

1, The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain. 3 stars
2, Latitudes of Melt by Joan Clark. 3.7 stars
3, Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson. 3.5 stars
4, Book Lust by Nancy Pearl. 3.8 stars
5, The Browns at Mt. Hermon by Isabella Alden. 2.7 stars
6, The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse. 3.5 stars
7, The Language of Trees by Ilie Ruby. 4.5 stars
8, Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. 3.8 stars
9, Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos. 4 stars

10, The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards. 3 stars
11, Tisha by Robert Specht – 3.8 stars
12, An Acquaintance with Darkness by Ann Rinaldi – 3.2 stars
13, Freckles by Gene Stratton-Porter – 3.5 stars
14, Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson – 3.8 stars
15, The Quilt by T. Davis Bunn – 2.3 stars
16, Tying the Knot by Susan May Warren – 3.25 stars
17, Daughter of the Land by Gene Stratton-Porter – 3.2 stars
18, Friendship Bread by Darien Gee – 5 stars
19, The Horse and Buggy Doctor by Arthur E. Hertzler – 4 stars
20, Look to the Hills : The Diary of Lozette Moreau, a French slave Girl by Patricia C. Mckissack – 3.6 stars
21, Objects of Our Affection: Uncovering My Family's Past, One Chair, Pistol, and Pickle Fork at a Time by Lisa Tracy – 4 stars
22, Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty & The Beast by Robin McKinley – 4 stars

23, Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend by Robert James Waller – 2 stars
24, The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico – 5 stars
25, The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig – 5 stars
26, A Lifetime of Secrets by Frank Warren – 3.4 stars
27, Someone Cry for the Children by Michael Wilkerson – 3 stars
28, Mothers and Daughters by Rae Meadows – 3.6 stars
29, Red Dirt: Growing Up Okie by Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz – 0.5 stars
30, At Home : a Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson – 3.8 stars
31, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – 5 stars
32, Fantomina : Or, Love in a Maze by Eliza Haywood – 3 stars
33, The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields – 4 stars
34, All Things Wise and Wonderful by James Herriot – 4 stars
35, Celebrating Oklahoma by Mike Klemme – 3 stars
36, Sophie's World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy by Jostein Gaardner – 3 stars
37, The Food of a Younger Land by Mark Kurlanski – 3 stars

38, Icefields by Thomas Wharton – 3.8 stars
39, Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen – 3.6 stars
40, The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger – 3.8
41, The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs by Betty G. Birney – 3.9
42, The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa – 4 stars
43, The Various Flavors of Coffee by Anthony Capella – 2.5
44, My Garden by Kevin Henkes – 3
45, The Trail of Blood by J. M. Carroll – 3.3
46, The Parable of the Lily by Liz Curtis Higgs – 2.8
47, How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn – 5
48, Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden – 4.1
49, The Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland – 3.3

50, Home by Marilynne Robinson – 4.5 stars
51, Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister – 5 stars
52, Defiance by Nechama Tec – 3.8 stars
53, Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah – 2.8 stars
54, Notes from the century before by Edward Hoagland – 3.0 stars
55, The riddle of the river by Catherine Shaw – 3.6 stars
56, Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott – 3.2 stars
57, The Endless Steppe by Esther Hautzig – 4.2 stars
58, My name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira – 4.5 stars
59, Silent Letters Loud and Clear by Robin Pulver – 3.0 stars
60, Murder at midnight by Avi – 3.6 stars
61, The infamous Burke and Hare by R. Michael Gordon – 3.0 stars
62, Whose body? by Dorothy L. Sayers – 3.4 stars
63, The Haunted Room by A.L.O.E. – 3.2 stars

64, What to do with a dead lawyer by Bill Berger – 1 star
65, The Postmistress by Sarah Blake – 3.7 stars
66, The Tide in the Attic by Aleid Van Rhijn – 3.5
67, The Red Umbrella by Christina Gonzalez – 3.5
68, Edward's Eyes by Patricia MacLachlan – 3.6
69, A Weekend in September by John Edward Weems – 4
70, The Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright – 2.8
71, The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen – 4
72, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe by Fannie Flagg – 2.5
73, Hospital Sketches by Louisa May Alcott – 4
74, Broken Arrow: City of Roses and Pure Water by Donald A. Wise – 2.5
75, The View From Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg – 3.8
76, Bulletproof George Washington by David Barton – 4 stars

77, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier – 3.8 stars
78, Town in a blueberry jam by B.B. Haywood – 3.5 stars
79, ABC by David Plante – 0.1 star
80, Down From Cascom Mountain by Ann Joslin Williams – 3 stars
81, Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden – 4.2
82, American Beauty by Edna Ferber – 3.2
83, Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson – 4
84, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by C. Alan Bradley – mystery, 4.4
85, Death by Deep Dish Pie by Sharon Gwyn Short – 3.2
86, Far North by Will Hobbs – 4
87, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin – 3.8
88, The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean – historical fiction, 4.5 stars

Edited: Oct 23, 2011, 9:44pm Top


89, Great Son by Edna Ferber – 2.8
90, The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman – 3.5
91, Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say – 4.5
92, Ashes of Roses by Mary Jane Auch – 3.4
93, The Girls in the Velvet Frame by Adele Geras – 3.6
94, Tea With Milk by Allen Say – 4.3
95, Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo – 5 stars
96, Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna – 4.1
97, Town in a Lobster Stew by B.B. Haywood - 3
98, Arsenic and Old Paint by Hailey Lind - 3
99, The Legend of the Cranberry by Ellin Greene – 3.7
100, Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner – 4.4

Books read: 12
Pages read: 2,774

Fiction: Private Peaceful
Nonfiction: Grandfather's Journey

Edited: Oct 23, 2011, 9:55pm Top


101, Little Black Dress by Susan McBride – 3.5
102, The Day the World Came to Town : 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim Defede – 3.6
103, The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee - 3.2
104, Outwitting History by Aaron Lansky – 3.7
105, Rules of Civility by Amor Towles – 4.4
106, Lick Creek by Brad Kessler - 2.5
107, Not Becoming My Mother by Ruth Reichl - 2.7
108, The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti - historical fiction, WWII - 4
109, Signers of the Compact Who Left Descendants by Esther H. Lindsey - 2.5
110, Wildthorn by Jane Eagland - 2.2
111, The Arrival by Shaun Tan - 4

Books read: 11
Pages read: 2,652

Fiction: Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
Nonfiction: Outwitting History by Aaron Lansky

Edited: Nov 1, 2011, 9:05am Top


112, The Dress Lodger by Sheri Holman - 3.2
113, tent number eight by Gloyd McCoy - 1
114, The Dragon Prince by Laurence Yep - 3
115, Bloodroot by Amy Greene - 3.8
116, The Technologists by Matthew Pearl - 4.2
117, Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton - 4.2
118, Please Look After Mom - Kyung-sook Shin - 3.9
119, The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - 3.5
120, How to be an explorer of the world by Keri Smith - 2
121, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi - 2.7
122, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell - 3.2
123, Beasts of No Nation by Uzodinma Iweala - 3.5
124, Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen - 4
125, The Quotable Will Rogers by Joseph H. Carter - 2.5
126, The Devil Amongst the Lawyers by Sharyn McCrumb - 3
127, Summer by Edith Wharton - 4

Books read: 16
Pages read: 3,418

Fiction: The Technologists by Matthew Pearl

Edited: Jan 5, 2012, 12:28pm Top


128, Baba Yaga, Katya Arnold - 2
129, Baba Yaga and the Little Girl, Katya Arnold - 2
130, Thank You, Sarah: The Woman who Saved Thanksgiving, Laurie Halse Anderson - 3.5
131, The Hundred Dresses, Eleanor Estes - 3.5
132, Sarah's Ground, Ann Rinaldi - 3.5
133, A Light in the Storm, Karen Hesse - 3
134, The Enchanted April, Elizabeth von Arnim - 4.5
135, The Night Journal, Elizabeth Crook - 4
136, The Secret Adversary, Agatha Christie - 2.5
137, 84, Charing Cross Road, Helene Hanff - 3.5
138, The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, Helene Hanff - 3
139, Anacaona: Golden Flower, Edwidge Danticat - 3
140, Iron Lake, William Kent Krueger - 4
141, Prayers for Sale, Sandra Dallas - 3.5

Books read: 14
Pages read: 2,520

Edited: Jan 5, 2012, 12:29pm Top


142, Grass Dancer, Susan Power - 3
143, Red, White, and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass, Natalie MacLean - 3
144, The Butterfly's Daughter, Mary Alice Monroe - 3.5
145, The Very Picture of You, Isabel Wolff - 3.5
146, Malice Aforethought, Francis Iles - 4
147, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Charles Wesley - 3
148, The Road, Jack London - 2
149, Angels at Christmas, Debbie Macomber - 2.5
150, Parnassus on Wheels, Christopher Morley - 3.5
151, The Haunted Bookshop, Christopher Morley - 2.5
152, Cooking Outside the Pizza Box, Jean Patterson - 3
153, Keeper of the Light, Diane Chamberlain - 3.5

Books read: 12
Pages read: 2,983

Edited: Jan 5, 2012, 12:32pm Top


Books read: 153
Pages read: 38,466

Ratings - high: 19 books at 4.5-5 stars
Ratings - low: 19 books at .5-2.5 stars
(How strange!)

My 5-star reads from 2011:
The Whistling Season, Ivan Doig
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen
Joy for Beginners, Erica Bauermeister
Friendship Bread, Darien Gee
The Madonnas of Leningrad, Debra Dean
Private Peaceful, Michael Morpurgo
How Green Was My Valley, Richard Llewellyn
The Snow Goose: A Story of Dunkirk, Paul Gallico

Edited: Sep 22, 2011, 10:56am Top

Book #89

Great Son by Edna Ferber

***** My Review: *****
The history of Seattle is shown through the lives of one fictional family. The Melendy family matriarch was born as the boat came ashore in 1851, when there existed no state of Washington, no city of Seattle, no anything other than wilderness, water, and Indians. The story ends in 1944 as her great-grandson prepares to join the air force. In between, the Melendy family story reflects Seattle's ups and downs, social history, people and events:

Old Chief Seattle - … Why should I mourn at the untimely fate of my people? Tribe follows tribe, and nation follows nation, like the waves of the sea. It is the order of nature, and regret is useless.
The Klondike gold rush - which re-energizes the city.
The Mercer Girls – Civil War widows and spinsters, brought from New England by Asa Mercer, 12 of them in 1864 and 47 in 1866. (One hundred years later, the television program Here Come the Brides would be based on this event.)

The Seattle of 1866, which the Mercer Girls arrived to:

Surprisingly enough, there are photos of Asa Mercer, of loggers, and of Seattle itself, but I could find only a drawing of the Girls together:

I enjoyed Ms. Ferber's depictions of Seattle through the years. And I enjoyed her early characters, but people later in the story I thought were monotonously drug out. Overall, though, I found it an interesting way to see a city's history.

***** August list (#89) – NOTES: *****
Genre/Subject: historical fiction / social history, generational saga, Mercer Girls, Klondike gold rush
Setting/Era: Seattle, Washington / 1851-1944
Read: 8/1/2011
Pages: 281
Challenges: August TIOLI #20 = history of a city

Sep 22, 2011, 10:50am Top

Book #90

The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman

***** My Review: *****
The old midwife, Jane, a homeless waif, called 'Beetle' by all who abuse her, and a cat make up the main characters in this story. Beetle has kept herself alive by begging jobs in exchange for food and sleeping in haystacks or dung heaps throughout her young life. Jane seems to have plenty for her to do, so she sticks there, and while sticking, she watches. Unknown even to herself, Beetle is learning.

Life in medieval times was interesting to read about within this story. Beetle's gradual coming into herself was also very well written. (3.5 stars)

***** August list (#90) – Notes: *****
Genre/Subject: young adult fiction, coming of age,
Setting/Era: Middle Ages/England
Read: 8/2/2011
Pages: 128
Challenges: August TIOLI #2 = pig boy/girl trope
Stars: 3.5

Edited: Sep 22, 2011, 10:55am Top

Book #91

Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say

***** My Review: *****
Grandfather's Journey is an autobiographical story-in-picture of the author's forbears. As a young man, his grandfather journeys to the United States to visit the country and settles in San Francisco. He returns to Japan to marry, but takes his wife back to his new home in California. When in one country, he yearns for the other.

After his death, his grandson carries on, and makes the trip back to America, that the old man did not get to make. And like his grandfather, ... the moment I am in one country, I am homesick for the other.

This is a beautiful story of family and of place. (4.5 stars)

***** August list (#91) - Notes: *****
Challenge: August TIOLI #12 = holiday/travel words in title

Sep 23, 2011, 12:34am Top

Hi, I've dropped my star and I'm looking forward to reading about all your great reads as you catch up with yourself! Grandfather's Journey has caught my attention, it looks like a book I could savor.

Sep 23, 2011, 9:35am Top

Book #92

Ashes of Roses by Mary Jane Auch

***** My Review: *****
Ashes of Roses is the color of Rose's best dress, stitched by her own mother, before the family left Ireland to immigrate to America in 1911. Finally arrived at Ellis Island, baby Joseph is rejected because of an eye infection, and Da must take him back home to Limerick. They cannot all afford the travel back, so Ma and the three girls make their way to the home of Da's brother. There they find a cold welcome from his wife and her daughters. When things come to a head, Uncle Patrick purchases tickets for the four of them to return to Ireland. At the pier, Rose, 16, asserts her young adult-hood and her mother finally bows to her oldest child's desire to become an American. Her headstrong second daughter, Maureen, 12, wins her way as well, and Ma, with her remaining child, a toddler, get on board.

The girls find a room for rent with a Russian Jewish family. Gussie takes Rose under her wing and finds her a job where she works, at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.

Working at the Factory:

There Rose makes other new friends, two other Roses among them. The Roses take their lunches together, and with them, Maureen and Rose see their first moving picture at the nickelodeon. Waiting in line for the elevator, as she leaves work with her first pay, there are screams of 'fire'.

Their working area after the fire:

(Source: Kheel Center Labor Photos, Cornell University.)

The horrors of the disaster at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory on March 25, 1911, are handled well; not too gory for the young reader, yet with a solidly rendered impact of the catastrophe and the causes of it. The issue of unions is discussed via the character of Gussie, who is trying to better working conditions in these sweatshops. Homesickness, split families, immigration, the daily workings of the sewing trade, and of Ellis Island all figure in this story. The author lists some of her sources in her 'Author's Note', including online resources.

Even though this is a young adult book, having everything falling into place for the girls in finding a room, food, and jobs, didn't feel 'real', when history shows that much of the immigrant experience did not go so smoothly. All-in-all, though, I found this book to be a good introduction to the subject for the young reader.

***** August list (#92) – Notes:*****
Genre/Subject: historical fiction, young adult / immigration, triangle shirtwaist fire
Setting/Era: New York / 1911
Read: 8/3/2011
Pages: 256
Challenges: August TIOLI #4 = 3 word title with middle word “of”
Stars: 3.4

Sep 23, 2011, 9:36am Top

Book #93

The Girls in the Velvet Frame by Adele Geras

***** My Review: *****
The girls in the velvet frame are five sisters, aged 3 to 13. Their 17-year-old brother has immigrated from Jerusalem to the United States and they have not heard from him. With an indulgent aunt's help, they have a photograph made for their widowed mother's birthday, and secretly send a copy overseas, hoping that it will find their brother and bring their family news of him.

The cover of my book showed a painting with the five sisters, and as I read the book, and kept looking at that painting, I thought what a remarkable job the artist did, of portraying the expressions of the girls – they perfectly matched their personalities as the author described them. But then. When I entered the book on LT, I noticed that other editions had the same picture, but as a photograph. So I sought information online and found an interview with the author, who said that this, her first novel, is based on an actual photograph of her mother and her aunts. So – it was the author who did a remarkable job of writing her subjects to fit the pictured expressions!

This was a very sweet story.

*****August List #93 – Notes: *****
Subject: Jewish family traditions, courting, photography
Setting/Era: Jerusalem/1913-1914
Genre: YA historical fiction
Read: 8/5/2011
Pages: 149
Challenges: August TIOLI #1 = 'w' adjective tag (warm)

Sep 23, 2011, 9:37am Top


Tea with Milk by Allen Say

***** My Review: *****
I fell in love with Allen Say's paintings in his book Grandfather's Journey. Tea picks up more of that story. When Grandfather takes his family to return to Japan, his daughter, May, finds herself very homesick for San Francisco, and misses her American friends and customs, including tea with milk and sugar. This is another lovely book, sparsely written, but poignant.

***** August list #94 – Notes: *****
Genre/Subject: historical fiction, picture book / immigration, homesickness
Setting/Era: Japan
Challenges: August TIOLI #5 = word in title sounds like a letter (T)

Sep 30, 2011, 9:10am Top

Book #95

Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo

***** My Review: *****
Private Peaceful is Charlie Peaceful, about 17 years old, when he is forced to enlist in Britain's army. Private Peaceful is Tommo, 14, who lies about his age and enlists with his brother.

The book begins with a countdown of one eventful night in the life of Private Thomas Peaceful. Five Past Ten. As he waits out the long night, Tommo purposes to remember everything about his past. His home life; his widowed mother; his oldest brother, Big Joe, who is mentally handicapped; his brother, Charlie; his school; his favorite class-mate, Molly; pets; fishing; song – the past is written by the author in beautiful colors, with perhaps harsher strokes for the sad or bad times. His recent past, in Belgium during WWI, is painted in mud, with perhaps softer strokes for the few better times. Tommo's life is revealed in chunks of time throughout the night. The story is completed, the injustice revealed, and the book ends at One Minute to Six.

Written with a beauty in relationship and place, and a force in the harshness of war, weather and often, people – this is an outstanding book of historical fiction. Highly recommended.

***** August list (#95) – NOTES: *****
Genre/Subject: historical fiction / WWI
Setting/Era: Belgium / 1914-1918
Read: 8/6/2011
Pages: 202
Challenges: August TIOLI #16 = every word in title = same # of syllables

Sep 30, 2011, 9:17am Top


Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna

August list (#96) – NOTES:
Genre/Subject: historical fiction / civil war
Setting/Era: Sierra Leone / 1980s, 1990s
Read: 8/16/2011
Pages: 445
Challenges: August TIOLI #8 = read with a friend from your profile

Sep 30, 2011, 9:17am Top

Book #97

Town in a Lobster Stew by B. B. Haywood

My Review:
I really enjoy the Candy Holliday mystery series. I can't get enough of coastal Maine, so if the only way to get there is through a book, I'll take that trip. On this return trip to Cape Willington in downeast Maine, I enjoyed getting to know Candy and her father better, along with their friends and neighbors. While in town, we solve the theft of a famous lobster stew recipe, and a murder mystery.

The Haywood team's characters are engaging, their setting wonderfully depicted, the mystery fun to read. And at the end of the book – lobster stew recipes. What's not to love!

August list #97 – Notes:
Genre/Subject: mystery, small town life
Setting/Era: Maine / contemporary
Read: 8/22/2011
Pages: 384
Challenges: August TIOLI #15 = food item in title

Edited: Sep 30, 2011, 9:20am Top

Book #98

Arsenic and Old Paint by Hailey Lind

***** My Review: *****
Annie Kincaid. An acquaintance considered my endless store of Fun Facts about Fine Art to be “eccentric” because she was too polite to call it “freakish.” I suspected what bothered her most was the contrast between my expertise in art and forgery and my dearth of common sense in other areas: cooking, balancing my checkbook, staying out of jail...

Annie grew up with an uncle and grandfather, famous artists and art forgers, from whom she learned much. A gifted artist herself, Annie has given up forgery and is now running a faux finishing home decorating business. An interesting and well written cast of characters surround her.

There are several mysteries to solve here: a missing statue, a stolen painting, her uncle's arsenic poisoning, and the goings-on at the Fleming Union (aka F-U), the rich-old-mens' club where a body was found in a bathtub, staged to look like a famous painting. Along the way, we wander underground tunnels beneath San Francisco, learning about early prostitution; visit Chinatown and learn about early Chinese laborers, the building of San Francisco, and fireworks; and we learn much about art in general – the chemical makeup of certain paints, painting techniques, how-its-done by certain forgers, and about art trafficking. Although I considered it a fun and fluffy read, there is really a lot packed into these pages.

The series is written by Hailey Lind, the writing team of two sisters, Carolyn J. Lawes, a professor of history, and Julie Goodson-Lawes, a Bay area artist. At the end of the book, they provide: Annie's Guide to Antiquing with Craquelure, a recipe for crackle-finish. I picked up this title solely to fit into the periodic table element challenge. But I enjoyed it enough, that I plan to read the preceding books in the series.

August list #98 – Notes:
Genre/Subject: Mystery / art, forgeries, dangerous chemicals
Setting/Era: San Francisco, California / contemporary
Read: 8/26/2011
Pages: 265
Challenges: August TIOLI #10 = periodic table element in title

Sep 30, 2011, 9:21am Top


The Legend of the Cranberry by Ellin Greene

My Review.

The Legend of the Cranberry is a Delaware Indian legend concerning early animals and people. In this legend, mastadons or mammoths were created by The Great Spirit to be used by The People as helpers to carry their goods, to clear forests, and for their food, clothing and tents.

When the creatures rebelled, a great war erupted and many people and animals were trampled into the ground, creating a bog. The next summer, The People saw pink flowers there, followed in the fall by bitter red berries.

The blood-red berries were a gift from the Great Spirit to remind the People of the battle. From that time on the berries were eaten at feasts as a symbol of peace and of the Great Spirit's abiding love for the people.

From the author's note: The source of my retelling is “A Delaware Indian Legend, and the Story of Their Troubles, by Richard C. Adams, published in 1899. The name “Delaware” was used by the early English settlers to identify the native people who lived along the Delaware River. Adams was the great-grandson of William Conner, a white man, and his Delaware Indian wife, Mekinges. His advocacy for the Delawares is related in “The Delaware Indians: A History”, by C. A. Weslager, Rutgers University Press, 1972.

This is a beautifully illustrated children's picture book, sensitive to early peoples and immigrants both. (3.7 stars)

August list (#99)

Edited: Nov 6, 2011, 9:25am Top


Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner

===== My Review. =====
Lyman Ward, an older man with health problems is working on a book about his grandparents, reaching 100 years back from his wheelchair in 1970s California, to their lives in Idaho, Mexico, and Colorado.

What interests me in all these papers is not Susan Burling Ward the novelist and illustrator, and not Oliver Ward the engineer, and not the West they spent their lives in. What really interests me is how two such unlike particles clung together, and under what strains, rolling downhill into their future until they reached the angle of repose where I knew them. That’s where the interest is. That's where the meaning will be if I find any.

The book is filled with allusions to engineering concepts from his grandfather's world, and literary and cultural references, for that was the world of his grandmother.

Remember the one {reporter} who wanted to know where you learned to handle so casually a technical term like “angle of repose”. I suppose you replied, “By living with an engineer,” but you were too alert to the figurative possibilities of words not to see the phrase as descriptive of human as well as detrital rest. As you said, it was too good for mere dirt; you tried to apply it to your own wandering and uneasy life. ... I wonder if you ever reached it. There was a time up there in Idaho when everything was wrong; your husband's career, your marriage, your sense of yourself, your confidence, all came unglued together. Did you come down out of that into some restful 30 degree angle and live happily ever after? … We shared this house all the years of my childhood, and a good many summers afterward. Was the quiet I always felt in you really repose?

This was not so much a generational saga, as a tale of two sets of characters juxtaposed within the story - the wheelchair-bound older man, constrained to accept help with his daily needs and his book project, and his grandparents in their pioneering lives.

Mr. Stegner says, “My thanks to J.M. and her sister for the loan of their ancestors. Though I have used many details of their lives and characters, I have not hesitated to warp both personalities and events to fictional needs. This is a novel which utilizes selected facts from their real lives. It is in no sense a family history.”

Every location this couple lived in came alive under Mr. Stegner's pen. Their actions, thoughts and feelings revealed in a suspenseful unveiling chapter by chapter. At 569 pages, it was a long book, but a fascinating story, beautifully told. I loved this author's writing.

===== August list (#100) – NOTES:=====
Genre/Subject: historical fiction / marriage, mining
Setting/Era: American west / 1870s-1880s and 1970
Read: 8/31/2011
Pages: 569
Challenges: August TIOLI #13 = read a western

Sep 30, 2011, 9:34am Top

Book #101

Little Black Dress by Susan McBride

***** My Review: *****
I am both, and I have both, so I am drawn to stories about mothers and daughters. Toni is a wedding planner living in St. Louis. When her mother, Evie, has a stroke, she returns home to their small town near Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Sitting in the hospital with her mother, helping family friend and housekeeper, Bridget, with the clutter accumulated since Evie's husband passed, gradually coming to know her mother's background better, all these begin to ease the strain of their none-too-perfect relationship. And then there's the little black dress.

The story is charmingly written in alternating chapters, mother Evie's in first person, and daughter Toni's in third person, with a weaving of time lines, contemporary and back some forty and fifty years, to Evie's young adult-hood, and the eve of her sister's wedding. Set in the vineyard lands near the boot-heel of Missouri, across the river from Illinois, this is a lovely and fertile area, very nicely described by the author. The family business is a vineyard; I enjoyed the descriptions of the business, but thought that part could have been more fleshed out. Also too short, though especially nice, was the scene of the ice grape harvest. I have a darling soon-to-be daughter-in-law, who brings me ice wine whenever she returns from Canada, so that scene brought a tender smile of reminiscence.

This is chick-lit, nicely done. And if you like your little black dress to be a bit magical, this is the book for you. (3.7 stars)

***** September list (#101) - Notes: *****
Genre/Subject: chick lit, mothers and daughters, magical realism
Setting/Era: dual time lines, contemporary & 40-50 years ago
Read: 9/6/2011
Pages: 295
Challenges: TIOLI #5 = author never read for any TIOLIs
Stars: 3.7

Sep 30, 2011, 9:42pm Top

I hope that I find a copy of Town in a Lobster Stew the next time I make it to the used bookstore. I enjoyed the first in the series and can't wait to try this one. Like you, I have a weakness for mysteries set in coastal Maine (or just about anywhere in New England).

Oct 12, 2011, 11:00am Top

Book #102

The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede

===== My Review: =====
This was a very interesting telling of the repercussions of the events of 9/11 on the town of Gander, Newfoundland and on the 6,595 passengers and crew which were diverted there that day. I didn't find the book all that well written, or without typos, but the stories were what stood out, and the author did a nice job of that. (3.6 stars)


On September 11, 2001, when the order was given to close air space over the United States, where did all the planes go? International flights considered the halfway point and either returned from whence they came, or proceeded on to Canada.

There were 4,546 civilian aircraft over the United States at the time, from private Cessnas to jumbo jets, and they all scrambled to find a place to land. Closing airspace had its most disorienting effect, though, on approximately four hundred international flights headed toward the United States, the majority of which were coming across the Atlantic from Europe. More than 250 aircraft, carrying 43,895 people, were diverted to fifteen Canadian airports from Vancouver in the west to St. John's in the east.

This book is about the 6,595 passengers and crew members from the 38 planes which were diverted to the central highlands of Newfoundland to an air base in Gander, a town of barely 10,000 people.

Gander International, “The lifeboat of the North Atlantic”. Every pilot who flies to the United States from Europe knows exactly where Gander is located. If there is a serious mechanical problem over the ocean or a passenger has a heart attack or goes berserk with a case of air rage, the pilot makes an emergency landing in Gander.

Facing intense security and very lengthy processing, the passengers were processed one plane at a time, and then taken by bus to local schools, churches and community buildings which had been prepared to receive them.

The relief effort was joined by every business in Gander, and by its citizens:

…...The local fast food and pizza places sent carloads of food to the airport for those stranded on the planes.

…...The telephone company set up banks of tables with phones and computers so passengers could contact their families.

…...The local cable television provider ran lines to every shelter to provide cable service so the passengers could keep up to date on news coverage.

…...Town pharmacists filled over a thousand prescriptions, at no cost, just in the first 24 hours.

…...When some passengers noticed that certain ones were not eating, it was discovered that they were Orthodox Jews, so the school set up a kosher kitchen for them to use.

…...The local Canadian Tire Store donated $20,000 of its own merchandise and then spent another $10,000 in other stores (including its chief competitor, WalMart) to provide for the passengers' needs.

…...Veterinarians and their helpers crawled through the cargo holds to tend to animals stranded there, then went through channels to get permission to remove them to a hanger, where they set up a temporary vet clinic.

…...The townspeople donated everything they had to share: toilet paper, blankets, clothing, food, and volunteered their showers and rides, to boot. They even used the ice rink to keep perishables fresh.

…...Locals made themselves available as impromptu cabbies, taking the passengers to stores or wherever they wanted to go. Hundreds of them asked to be taken to “The Silent Witness”, erected by a local group as a memorial to the 248 members of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division that were killed in a 1985 airplane crash. The cover of the book pictures one view of this memorial. Here is another, which shows the American, Canadian and Newfoundland flags:

Responding to the comment that everyone in Gander had been so wonderful, the wing commander for the Canadian Air Force base in Gander said, “We're all Americans tonight.”

No money was asked for or accepted. On one of the flights home, “the plane people” put their heads together and came up with the idea to provide a scholarship for the school where they stayed. (After note: Over a million dollars has been raised so far, and 134 scholarships provided.)

Among the passengers detoured to Gander were:

…...U.S. Army brigadier general Barbara Fast – director of intelligence for the United States military command.

…...George Vitale, a New York State trooper in charge of security for the governor's headquarters, which was formerly in the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

…...Dennis and Hannah O'Rourke. Their son, Kevin, was a New York firefighter, and was missing.

…...Gordon Conway, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, who didn't say who he was when he asked permission to use the computers at the school where he was staying, to do some business. Before their time there was done, they had offered a donation to replace the school's computer lab.

…...Werner Baldessarini, chairman of Hugo Boss, who was sent a private jet so he could get back to business, which he canceled. He tried explaining that flying home while the others were left behind would have been an act of betrayal of everything that had happened over the last seventy-two hours. Wherever his fellow passengers went, that's where he would go. However long it took them to get home, that's how long he'd be gone. He was in this until the end.

…...Clemens Briels, a renowned Dutch artist, who was one of the official artists for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. In the school where he stayed, a discovery was afterwards made. Using various colored chalks and crayons, someone had drawn a picture depicting a human body in flight. It was at least three feet by four feet and at the bottom of the blackboard it was signed, Many Thanks, Clemens.

One hundred and twenty-six hours passed between the time the first plane landed in Gander on Tuesday and the last plane departed on Sunday. During that time, fast friendships were made. Some passengers still travel to Gander periodically to revisit their hosts.

===== September list (#102) – NOTES:=====
Genre/Subject: nonfiction / 9/11
Setting/Era: Gander, Newfoundland / 9/11/2001
Read: 9/10/2011
Pages: 244
Challenges: September TIOLI #11 = inspired by, about, or aftermath of 9/11
Stars: 3.6

Oct 12, 2011, 11:04am Top

Book #103

The Piano Teacher by Janice Y. K. Lee

===== My Review: =====
The author made real the years of the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, the years of colonialism leading up to that time, and the aftermath. As far as a picture of the time – 1940s and early 1950s Hong Kong – I thought it well done. None of the characters were likeable, though, and the story started off in such a strange way, that I almost gave it up before getting to the historical part of this fiction.

===== September list (#103) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: historical fiction / Japanese occupation, romance
Setting/Era: Hong Kong / 1940s and early 1950s
Read: 9/11/2011
Pages: 326
Challenges: September TIOLI #5 = 5 words or less opening sentence. (It started as an accident.)
Stars: 3.2

Oct 12, 2011, 11:35am Top

Book #104

Outwitting History by Aaron Lansky

===== My Review: =====
In this book, the author chronicles how he and a small dedicated group went about the process of rescuing the literature of a tongue from passing away.

Like it or not, Yiddish literature is finite, bound to a specific time and place. But precisely because Yiddish literature is finite, it is enormously important, a link between one epoch of Jewish history and the next. Its world's having been ferociously attacked and almost destroyed only serves to underscore its significance. The books we collect are the immediate intellectual antecedent of most contemporary Jews, able to tell us who we are and where we came from. Especially now, after the unspeakable horrors of the twentieth century, Yiddish literature endures as our last, best bridge across the abyss.

Well written and interesting.

===== September list (#104) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: nonfiction, memoir / yiddish books
Setting/Era: contemporary
Read: 9/15/2011
Pages: 316
Challenges: September TIOLI #2 = Jewish main character

Oct 12, 2011, 5:16pm Top

I've added The Day the World Came to Town to my library wish list. I've been on a plane that landed in Gander. I'm sure it was considered an emergency landing, although there was nothing wrong with the plane's engines. There was some sort of problem with the fire extinguishers in the cargo hold, and all of the plane's combustible cargo had to be off-loaded before we could head out over the Atlantic. We couldn't see much from the plane. It was dark when we landed, and still dark when we took off.

Oct 12, 2011, 10:04pm Top

The "Gander" book sounds interesting. Somehow though, the phrase, "What is good for the goose is good for the gander" comes to mind when I see that word, even if it is a town name!

Oct 13, 2011, 2:24pm Top

Book #105

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

***** My Review: *****

...life is less like a journey than it is a game of honeymoon bridge. In our twenties, when there is still so much time ahead of us, time that seems ample for a hundred indecisions, for a hundred visions and revisions – we draw a card, and we must decide right then and there whether to keep that card and discard the next, or discard the first card and keep the second. And before we know it, the deck has been played out and the decisions we have just made will shape our lives for decades to come. . . . I have no doubt that they were the right choices for me. And at the same time, I know that right choices by definition are the means by which life crystallizes loss.

This is a book about choices and consequences, relationships and life. It is 1938 in New York City, when two young working girls, Katey and Evie, meet Tinker Grey, a banker. Katey narrates this eventful year in their lives and tells the story of the years following.

The book takes its name from Washington's 'Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation', a copy of which Tinker kept as a keepsake from his mother, with an aspirational list composed by the founder in his teenage years: . . . There were 110 of them! And over half were underlined – one adolescent sharing another's enthusiasm for propriety across a chasm of 150 years.

The book is punctuated by pictures from the 'Many Are Called' exhibit, portraits taken by hidden camera by Walker Evans in the late 1930s, which opened at the Museum of Modern Art in 1966.

The Rules and the Portraits frame the story, but the focal point in this picture is this group of friends superimposed on the City. ...from this vantage point Manhattan was simply so improbable, so wonderful, so obviously full of promise – that you wanted to approach it for the rest of your life without ever quite arriving.

This is a character-driven story, with sharp writing, characters written with insight, and a superbly descriptive setting. I loved it.

===== September list (#105) =====
Genre/Subject: fiction / relationships, high society, choices
Setting/Era: New York City / 1930s
Read: 9/19/2011
Pages: 335
Challenges: September TIOLI #5 = author never read for any TIOLI challenges
Stars: 4.4

Oct 13, 2011, 2:26pm Top

Book #106

Lick Creek by Brad Kessler

=====My Review: =====
As a child, Joseph had caught his father's passion for tinkering and electricity. But father had to leave home to find work in America. Joseph eventually follows him there, but finds his father broken in spirit, the immigrant experience having beaten him. The time is right, though, for Joseph.

In mountainous, rural Falls County, West Virginia, Emily Jenkins lives with her mother in a poor mining community. Mad at the world, Emily meets Joseph when he is working on the rural electrification project nearby.

I wasn't crazy about this story. Parts of it were ok; but some parts elicited 'good grief's. Except for Joseph, I didn't like the characters; they didn't feel real. The setting, however, was beautifully written. It seemed like a great premise for a story, but the execution didn't grab me.

===== September list (#106) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: fiction, electrification, mountain life
Setting/Era: West Virginia / 1930s-1940s
Read: 9/21/2011
Pages: 297
Challenges: September TIOLI #7 = 9 letter title
Stars: 2.5

Oct 13, 2011, 2:29pm Top

Book #107

Not Becoming My Mother by Ruth Reichl

===== My Review: =====
Sifting through a box of her mother's papers, Ms. Reichl's remembers her growing up years and what her mother taught her. The bottom line: don't settle for what I settled for.

And so today, when people ask, “Why do you work so hard?” I think of my mother, who was not allowed to do it, and say, “Because I can.” . . . In her own oblique way Mom passed on all the knowledge she had gleaned, giving me the tools I needed not to become her.

Short, somewhat repetitive, but a sweet memoir.

===== September list (#107) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: memoir / mothers and daughters, life lessons
Setting/Era: 1950s on
Read: 9/22/2011
Pages: 120
Challenges: September TIOLI #9 = LT work number ends in 9
Stars: 2.7

Oct 18, 2011, 4:15pm Top

Book #108

The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

***** My Review: *****
In 1941, a teenager in Hamburg turns on a forbidden foreign radio and listens to BBC newscasts late at night, learning what the rest of the world hears, comparing it with what comes through the state radio and what he sees happening around him, and gradually coming to the decision to share his new knowledge with everyone he can. He makes and distributes fliers in the dark of night, but is eventually caught.

His trial comes six months later: The infamous Blood Tribunal. The highest, most feared court in Germany. And then he discerns more bad news: Helmuth's heart sinks. His lawyer doesn't work for him. He works for the Nazi government.

His sentence: ”On the eleventh of August 1942 the court found Helmuth Hubener guilty of listening to a foreign radio station and distributing the news heard in connection with conspiracy to commit high treason and treasonable support of the enemy.”

From the author's note: This story is a work of historical fiction: Helmuth Hubener was a real person and his character is based on extensive research – all filtered through my imagination in order to create a dramatic meditation on what Helmuth, his family, and friends lived through.

Ms. Bartoletti made her characters very believable, especially Helmuth's growing up and dawning realization that there was wickedness growing, which everyone around him seemed to deal with by shutting up just to get by. Helmuth and at least 2,200 other Germans chose the hard road of trying to make a difference, and were executed after being branded “enemies of the state” because they – like Helmuth Hubener – fought for human rights, political freedom, and truth.

***** September list (#108) – NOTES:*****
Genre/Subject: historical fiction, young adult / WWII, Nazi Germany, Hitler youth
Setting/Era: Hamburg, Germany / 1933-1942
Read: 9/25/2011
Pages: 192
Challenges: September TIOLI #1 = Less than 5 words opening sentence. (It's morning.)
Stars: 4

Oct 18, 2011, 4:15pm Top

Book #109

Signers of the Compact Who Left Descendants by Esther H. Lindsey

===== My Review: =====
This is a small (55 page) work of short biographies of the signers of the Mayflower Compact and their descendants, just as the title says.

I suppose a great many Americans can trace their lineage back to the Mayflower. Mine was through the 21st signer, Edward Fuller. So I found it interesting, though not very thorough.

===== September list (#109) – NOTES:=====
Genre/Subject: biographies / Mayflower Compact
Setting/Era: New England / 1620 on
Read: 9/23/2011
Pages: 55
Challenges: September TIOLI #6 = cover with a prime color (red)
Stars: 3

Oct 18, 2011, 4:16pm Top

Book #110

Wildthorn by Jane Eagland

===== My Review: =====
I didn't at first realize that this was a young adult novel, and had expected it to give a more thorough treatment of the insane asylum situation during Victorian times. I found it too heavy on the lesbian romance side and too light on the historical fiction side.

===== September list (#xx) – NOTES:=====
Genre/Subject: historical fiction, young adult / insane asylums
Setting/Era: Victorian England
Read: 9/26
Pages: 352
Challenges: September TIOLI #6 = 9 letter title
Stars: 2

Oct 18, 2011, 4:17pm Top

Book #111

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

***** My Review: *****
I don't remember ever reading a graphic novel before, but, WOW, this was excellent! The drawings were stunning; the story compelling and life-like, even though set in a fantastical time and place. It is the old story – during hard times, one member of the family leaves to find work. The immigrant misses his family, and faces the hardship of not understanding language or custom in his new surroundings. He encounters the kindness of strangers, who share their own immigrant story and help him to find lodging and work. Seasons pass, strangers become friends, and he is finally able to send for his family. The author did a marvelous job of portraying many ethnicities and cultures converging in the new world, most helpful to newcomers, who themselves learn and help others. Beautiful!

***** September list (#111) – NOTES:*****
Genre/Subject: graphic novel, fantasy/immigration, community
Setting/Era: old-fashioned-past-styled future setting on another world
Read: 9/30/2011
Pages: 120
Challenges: September TIOLI #3 = tagged with a word reminding of “school” (old school)
Stars: 4

Oct 20, 2011, 11:42am Top

Book #112

The Dress Lodger by Sheri Holman

===== My Review: =====
The abject poverty of life for those without means in 1830s England is described so vividly that you feel yourself in the midst of the wretchedness with Ms. Holman's characters. The cholera epidemic of 1831, grave robbing for medical research, and prostitution all figure into this work of historical fiction. The plight of workers in that era – matchstick painters with phosphorous poisoning, potters with potters' cough, pottery painters with lead poisoning, dock workers and prostitutes and the pitfalls awaiting them – are also graphically pictured. I wouldn't call this an enjoyable read, but it was definitely well written and educative.

===== October list (#112) – NOTES:=====
Genre/Subject: historical fiction / cholera epidemic, grave robbing, prostitution
Setting/Era: Sunderland, England / 1831
Read: 10/2/2011
Pages: 291
Stars: 3.2

Oct 20, 2011, 11:43am Top

Book #113

tent number eight by Gloyd McCoy

===== My Review: =====
This is the second book I've read which examines the Girl Scout murders of June 1977 in the state of Oklahoma. It did not change my mind. One way in which this book differed was in the author's (a criminal defense lawyer for 25 years) notes about everything that the lawyers for the two sides did wrong. I could actually buy much of that.

What this book is best at, though, is to show the miserable state of education in the state of Oklahoma. The text is full of clunky phrasing and errors in grammar and spelling, especially in the sections narrated by the author. The court records were either badly transcribed or show poor education on the part of the lawyers quoted. There are so many typos, and editing mistakes, including misspelling a victim's name and misnaming in the end notes, the previous book on this subject.

So, who is at fault for errors like these?

The author?
The girls met on the bus. When they arrived at camp, they became tent mates. The girls were assigned to tent number eight. The tent and the area around it would be their place of doom. … They would need a good night’s sleep as their next day was full of planned activities, so they thought. They did not know or anticipate that soon they would be dead. . . . defense counsel had so diligently went through the process of selecting jurors.

The defense and prosecuting attorneys?
You know counsel has interfered to you and taking inventory is just a whole – the whole thing. Oh, thank God, you can take the form and your – your oath and do it. If he were right you would feel guilty for doing right? You would feel guilty for following your oath as jurors. No. If you were the other party and saying rise that protest is wrong.

The editors?
Cochran said supposedly told he was told he would receive assistance in securing a parole if he helped.

Oklahomans all. Whichever you choose, the state is shown in a poor light educationally. I submit that if you're going to be in the publishing business, even one in Oklahoma, you ought not to let such poor work out your door, even if it means that you don't take on the book of someone who obviously has a poor grasp on language issues, even if he did manage to pass the bar.

===== October list (#113) – NOTES:=====
Genre/Subject: nonfiction, true crime / Girl Scout murders
Setting/Era: Oklahoma / 1977 - 1979
Read: 10/4/2011
Pages: 329
Challenges: October TIOLI #11 = author's first and last name have same number of letters
Stars: 1

Oct 20, 2011, 11:43am Top

Book #114

The Dragon Prince by Laurence Yep

===== My Review: =====
This is a beautifully illustrated fairy tale, a Chinese Beauty and the Beast. While the sweet maiden sacrifices herself to the beast on her father's behalf, this story goes further. Her hard-hearted sister, on finding that this brought her sweet sister good fortune, underhandedly takes her place. Though they look alike, the prince sees their hearts through their actions and knows that this is not his lady. A morality tale wrapped up in a fairy tale. Very nice.

===== October list (#114) – NOTES:=====
Genre/Subject: children's fairy tale / beauty and the beast
Setting/Era: China
Read: 10/5/2011
Pages: 30
Challenges: October TIOLI #12 = monster in the title
Stars: 3

Oct 20, 2011, 7:17pm Top

The Dress Lodger certainly has a striking cover. Too bad that the topic is not one that makes it an easy read.

Oct 20, 2011, 9:55pm Top

Cindy, you have a cornucopia of excellent reviews on your thread. I enjoyed your comments and the pictures you included.

I'm glad you got to The Dress Lodger. I have Slammerkin to read on the same subject matter, but it's still too soon for me. It is a striking cover!

I've been dithering about Rules of Civility. However, after your review, I'm going to my local library page and put a hold on it right now. Thank you!

Oct 21, 2011, 8:49am Top

Lori and Donna, yes that is a "striking cover"! When I won the contest for my entry in the Striking Cover Art contest back in April, the prize was a book, so I chose one from amongst the other entries. I think The Dress Lodger was your entry, Donna. With the "From Where" in my catalogue, I know it was your review that landed it on my wishlist in the first place.

About Towles' Rules of Civility - I am not a sophisticated reader, so see Smiler69's review for another take on the book. For myself, though, I really enjoyed it, and it was the perfect book to cross off New York from my Fifty States Fiction challenge, to boot!

Edited: Oct 21, 2011, 1:54pm Top

Hey Cindy!

I just had to comment on how lovely and organized you've set this thread up. I am really enjoy your books and the great reviews you post for them. I will have to come back in the future to see what other books you will be reading.

Oct 24, 2011, 7:41am Top

I had to grimace at those quotations from Tent number eight - what awful writing!

Oct 24, 2011, 8:54am Top

Genny, it WAS awful, beginning to end. My mother has a friend who was there at the Girl Scout camp that week, so she has been interested to read about it. I bought her the first book, Someone Cry for the Children, and told her I would preview this new one. I think she can skip it!

Thank you for your comment about my thread, Valerie. Although I've been a member of LT for 4-1/2 years, I didn't discover the 75ers until this year. I am *so* OCD, that on the day I joined the group, I had to go through and read every single thread, saving those whose organization I liked, to go back and peruse for ideas. So, my set-up is only a reflection of a lot of other 75ers good ideas.

Oct 24, 2011, 12:48pm Top

Book #115

Bloodroot by Amy Greene

===== My Review: =====
All the neighbors thought the world of Grandmaw and her sisters. They was what you call granny women, and the people of Chickweed Holler relied on them for any kind of help you can think of. Each one of them had different gifts. Myrtle was what I've heard called a water witch. She could find a well on anybody's land with her dowsing rod. … Della was the best one at mixing up cures. She could name any root and herb and flower you pointed at. Another thing she was good for was healing animals. . . . Grandmaw had the best gift of all. She claimed she could send her spirit up out of her body. She said, “. . . It don't matter where this old shell is at. My soul will fly off wherever I want it to be.”

Appalachian women, the matriarchs in this generational saga, are painted as people you would like to know. Their poverty does not define them; their life is rich and their landscape richer. Time and progress march on, and a further generation is bound by its poverty of coin and soul, and complicated by trying to hobble the wild. It's odd how the touch moves in a family. You never can tell who'll turn up with it.

The setting here is wonderously written - Bloodroot Mountain with its woods, meadows, streams, and bloodroot flowers. Characters are realistically portrayed, even through the magical realism.

Enjoyed. (3.7 stars)

===== October Read #115 – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: historical fiction, folk magic / romance, poverty
Setting/Era: Tennessee, Appalachian Mountains /
Read: 10/11/2011
Pages: 291
Challenges: October TIOLI #9 = author's first &/or last name begins and ends with a vowel
Stars: 3.7

Edited: Nov 4, 2011, 9:15pm Top

Book #116

The Technologists by Matthew Pearl

===== My Review: =====
A series of mysterious disasters, scientific in design, are visited upon Boston in 1868. Although the new institute of learning, with its emphasis on technology, is at first suspected of involvement, eventually more level heads prevail and come to realize that some members of the first graduating class from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been working, themselves, to solve the case.

Don't mistake this as a dry read; it is FAR from it! Yes, the title is “The Technologists”, and sections are titled Civil and Topographical Engineering, Practical Chemistry, Geology and Mining, Mechanical Engineering, Experimental Physics, and Building and Architecture. Having met the characters whose friendship is established earlier in the book, their areas of expertise are put to the test within these sections. The story never flags, each disaster appearing and the science behind it being investigated during their spare time. I found the history of the school and its founder fascinating; also the rivalry between MIT and Harvard. Characters were engaging, both the good guys and bad. Nineteenth century Boston was very real within these pages.

Mr. Pearl says, “the disasters that plague Boston in my novel are my creation; however, each one has a basis in real technologies developed at the time (often at MIT)...” His afterword also tells which characters are based on real students, and how their after stories played out.

Story, characters, and setting - I loved everything about this book!

===== October Read #x116 – NOTES:=====
Genre/Subject: historical fiction, mystery / MIT, science
Setting/Era: Boston / 1860s
Read: 10/13/2011
Pages: 470
Challenges: October TIOLI #18 = book mentioned in

Oct 24, 2011, 12:52pm Top

Book #117

Ethan Frome by Edith Frome

===== My Review: =====
A melancholy read, with such descriptive writing that the snow on the stark fields of Starkfield glistens as you read, and the countenance of the various characters as they speak, convey their words straight to your mind's eye. The story a tragedy; the writing brilliant.

===== October Read #117 – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: American literature, tragedy
Setting/Era: New England / about 1900
Read: 10/16/2011
Pages: 85
Challenges: October TIOLI #1 = read a novel assigned in an English class
Stars: 4.2

Edited: Oct 24, 2011, 12:57pm Top

Book #118

Please Look After Mom by Kyung-sook Shin

One woman. That woman disappeared, bit by bit, having forgotten the joy of being born and her childhood and dreams, marrying before her first period and having five children and raising them. . . . The woman whose life was marred with sacrifice until the day she went missing.

An elderly woman becomes separated from her husband in a busy city as they prepare to board a train. The family join forces to look for her. I enjoyed my glimpses of Korean culture, from the days of the Korean War, when whole families slept together in one room to stay warm, to contemporary times with the searchers using cell phones. On this backdrop, the thoughts and regrets of her husband and children form the core of the story.

Memories infuse them and leave the pain of regret.

Her husband: The thing your wife said to you most frequently, ever since you met her when you were twenty, was to walk more slowly. How could you have not gone slower, when your wife asked you to slow down your entire lives? You'd stopped and waited for her, but you'd never walked next to her, conversing with her, as she wanted – not even once. Since your wife has gone missing, your heart feels as if it will explode every time you think about your fast gait.

Eldest daughter: Since you heard about Mom's disappearance, you haven't been able to focus on a single thought, besieged by long-forgotten memories unexpectedly popping up. And the regret that always trailed each memory. . . ”Did you like being in the kitchen? Did you like to cook?” Mom's eyes held yours for a moment. “I don't like or dislike the kitchen. I cooked because I had to. I had to stay in the kitchen so you could all eat and go to school. How could you only do what you like? There are things you have to do whether you like it or not.” Mom's expression asked, What kind of question is that? And then she murmured, “If you only do what you like, who's going to do what you don't like?”

Youngest daughter: If I can't live like Mom, how could she have wanted to live like that? Why did this thought never occur to me when she was with us? Even though I'm her daughter, I had no idea, so how alone must she have felt with other people? How unfair is it that all she did was sacrifice everything for us, and she wasn't understood by anyone?

Both sad to read and thought-provoking, this was a very special book. As quoted in the epigraph: O love, so long as you can love. - Franz Liszt

===== October Read #118 – NOTES:=====
Genre/Subject: fiction / missing persons, family
Setting/Era: 1950s to contemporary Korea
Read: 10/17/2011
Pages: 237
Challenges: October TIOLI #10 = 'surprise me' book from Book Browse website
Stars: 3.9

Oct 25, 2011, 1:17pm Top

Book #119

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

===== My Review: =====
I wanted to join in some of the challenge reads for October, but the horror genre is not for me. However, this old classic was just spooky enough – the atmospheric moor, with its swamp, and chill, and fog; the hound and its legend; the sinister designs on the house of Baskerville – all combined to make a great murder mystery.

===== October Read #119 – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: Mystery / murder, detective
Setting/Era: England / Victorian
Read: 10/18/2011
Pages: (audio) (256 pages in most popular print edition)
Challenges: October TIOLI #5 = spooky cover
Stars: 3.5

Oct 25, 2011, 1:17pm Top

Book #120

How to be an explorer of the world by Keri Smith

===== My Review: =====
This book is a bit of a children's how-to manual on becoming a creative thinker. Notice what's around you, create with what you find, journal about it. It has sections of ideas for nature walks, collecting pages, craft ideas, journaling pages, and quotes.

Wasn't really wild about this book; don't know why; it just rubbed me the wrong way. I think I took exception to quotes like this: If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all. -John Cage

On the other hand, there were a few good ones, like: Look with all your eyes, look. -Jules Verne

===== October Read #120 – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: nonfiction / children's nature/art book
Read: 10/19/2011
Pages: 204
Challenges: October TIOLI #19 = book with the letter X in the title
Stars: 2

Oct 25, 2011, 1:19pm Top

Book #121

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

===== My Review: =====
“The Story of a Childhood”. Hmm. So this is what it was like there. Makes me doubly-glad to be born American. (Vague thoughts from one who is now only a little less vague in her knowledge of Iran.)

===== October Read #121 – NOTES:=====
Genre/Subject: graphic novel, autobiography / Iran, Islam
Setting/Era: Tehran / 1970s
Read: 10/19/2011
Pages: 153
Challenges: October TIOLI #11 = author's first and last names have same number of letters
Stars: 2.7

Oct 25, 2011, 1:21pm Top

Book #122

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell

===== My Review: =====
Were she not fiction, one could weep and weep over Esme. Her parents, from Scotland, bearing the formidable climate of India, losing baby after baby, have no patience for Esme's strange-ness. Yet Esme is the only one in the family who acknowledges her feelings and thoughts. Her parents and sister, Kitty, despair of trying to get her to follow the stilted code of society. When, in the course of events, Esme needs her family more than ever, she is instead shunted off to a mental institution, where she molders for over sixty years, while the family pretend that she never was. When the institution closes its doors, Kitty's granddaughter, Iris, receives a call about a relative that she never knew existed.

This book provided a glimpse into life in colonial India, a glimpse into life in a mental institution, a glimpse into high society strictures in Scotland. It was all interesting enough that I wished for more than just glimpses. The author uses Kitty's Alzheimers to advance her clues bit by bit through snatches of Kitty's disjointed thoughts. Not sure what I think about that; it almost seemed like an easy-out way to move the story.

Taken as a whole, though, I found this to be a good book with interesting, believable characters, a setting adequately portrayed, and a good story.

===== October Read #122 – NOTES:=====
Genre/Subject: fiction / family secrets, mental institutions
Setting/Era: 1930s and contemporary
Read: 10/21/2011
Pages: 245
Challenges: October TIOLI #2 = “characteristic work” of the 75ers group members
Stars: 3.4

Nov 5, 2011, 9:37am Top

Book #123

Beasts of No Nation by Uzodinma Iweala

===== My Review: =====
Young Agu lives a regular life in West Africa, with books and a family who loves one another. As civil war encroaches on their existence, Agu is captured and forced into soldier-hood with the ones who ravage their village, under a cruel and twisted leader.

The author skillfully shows the thoughts and feelings of how a young boy would react to finding himself in such horrible circumstances, with his conscience tearing him apart, having always been a “good boy”, now forced to do bad things. The author is from Nigeria, though the nation torn by civil strife is not named. But the setting felt very real, too. Very well done.

===== October Read #123 – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: war, child soldier
Setting/Era: Africa / contemporary
Read: 10/24/2011
Pages: 142
Challenges: October TIOLI #8 = civil war theme/plot
Stars: 3.5

Nov 5, 2011, 9:47am Top

>52 countrylife:: Thank you Cindy for all your lovely reviews. You've made me want to read The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, a book that has been languishing on the TBR shelf for quite awhile. This looks to be a good month for books relating to India for me so I'll try to get to this one.

I also loved your comments on Ethan Frome. You have quite a way with words yourself!

Nov 5, 2011, 1:22pm Top

Book #124

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

===== My Review: =====
The following conversation, which took place between the two friends in the pump-room one morning, after an acquaintance of eight or nine days, is given as a specimen of their very warm attachment, and of the delicacy, discretion, originality of thought, and literary taste which marked the reasonableness of that attachment. This, then, followed by a conversation exactly negating every statement just made, combined to provoke, in this reader, a mirth enjoyed throughout the remaining pages.

My history with Northanger Abbey had only been through the 1986 film. But now I've read the book. You wouldn't take them for the same story! Although I don't think this was Austen's best work, I found it so much more than that dark, brooding view taken by the old film.

Thoroughly enjoyed!

===== October Read #124 – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: classic literature / satire, romance
Setting/Era: England / 18th Century
Read: 10/24/2011
Pages: 110
Challenges: #22 = leading character/subject is inanimate
Stars: 4

Nov 5, 2011, 1:48pm Top

Book #125

The Quotable Will Rogers by Joseph H. Carter

===== My Review: =====
An icon of American homespun political humor, Will Rogers was a much-loved artist at the time he died in a plane crash in Alaska. This small book is written by an expert on the life of Will Rogers. The first half includes a short biography of his life, interspersed with some of his quotes. The second half contains quotes listed under various categories. Reading his quotes, I can see how his brand of humor touched the heart of Americans of that period.

Although I've not read this author before, this book, had the feeling of being but a compilation of pieces of the author's previous works. By the end, I didn't care for the book, and had just lukewarm favor for the artist.

===== October Read #125 – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: biography / quotations /humor
Read: 10/25/2011
Pages: 95
Challenges: October TIOLI #3 = book by/about an artist for National Arts & Humanities Month
Stars: 2.5

Nov 5, 2011, 5:38pm Top

Book #126

The Devil Amongst the Lawyers by Sharyn McCrumb

===== My Review: =====
Based on a real-life murder and trial, this book's portrayal of the event, setting and characters, took an odd direction, with locals pitted against journalists in their ideas about what really happened. Still, I enjoyed this book of historical fiction for its atmosphere and interesting story.

===== October Read #126 – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: historical fiction / murder, courtroom trial
Setting/Era: Virginia / 1930s
Read: 10/28/2011
Pages: 336
Challenges: October TIOLI #21 = book set between 1910 and 1950
Stars: 3

Nov 5, 2011, 6:55pm Top

Book #127

Summer by Edith Wharton

===== My Review: =====
I love character-driven stories. Edith Wharton did not disappoint me in this regard. Her characters were entirely, sometimes even uncomfortably, real. This was a story that you could really see happening, not just some far-fetched plot to drive a book. This corner of Massachusetts was descriptively rendered, from the melancholy small town where Charity lives to the poor mountain dwellings to the gorgeous countryside.

She loved the roughness of the dry mountain grass under her palms, the smell of the thyme into which she crushed her face, the fingering of the wind in her hair and through her cotton blouse, and the creak of the larches as they swayed to it.

In the end, Charity received what her nature had in store for her. It all happened as it ought. The reading was not easy, but the story was perfectly rendered.

===== October Read #127 – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: classic literature / social mores, courtship
Setting/Era: New England / Early 1900s
Read: 10/31/2011
Pages: 144
Challenges: October TIOLI #1 = read a novel assigned in an English class
Stars: 4

Nov 5, 2011, 8:42pm Top

Thanks for your review of The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, it has caught my interest as well.

Nov 5, 2011, 9:24pm Top


Thanks for all your wonderful reviews that are so excellently written. I read The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox a few years ago and it still haunts me.

Nov 7, 2011, 11:37am Top

My word there is a lot to digest here. Very ver good reviews and a reading list that leans to the historical will always find favour with me. Will sneak some of your reads onto my hitlist as surreptitiously as possible. Will have you starred from now on!

Nov 7, 2011, 11:48am Top

You snagged another person with your review of The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox. Will be adding that my wishlist. Thanks!

Edited: Nov 7, 2011, 11:52am Top

Thank you - Lori, Carrie Beth, Donna, Valerie, Genny, Judy, and Linda - for visiting my little corner of the universe-of-75. Almost a thousand members in this group! I don't know how Madeline keeps up with them all!

eta: and Paul! Hi!

Nov 10, 2011, 1:38pm Top

Hi. I haven't dropped in on you in ages, and what a lot of great reviews! I think I need to be a more regular visitor!

Nov 15, 2011, 12:30pm Top

Yay! I finished The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox and enjoyed it. Thank you for the nudge to read it. Such an unremittingly sad story.

On a happier note, I'm glad to see that you and your mother plan to be in Joplin on Nov. 29. I'm looking forward to meeting both of you. We usually hang out at the used bookstore a couple hours and then go down the street for lunch. It will be a good time for sure!

Dec 5, 2011, 12:23pm Top

Just stopping by to say "Hi!" I enjoyed catching up on all of your reviews.

Dec 23, 2011, 9:12am Top

Merry Christmas, Cindy. I guess you've been too busy to post about your reading here. Please say hello to Janice for me. I loved meeting both of you and look forward to seeing you next year in Joplin.

Dec 24, 2011, 1:32am Top

Cindy - happy christmas and a prosperous and peaceful new year. Hope to keep up with you more in 2012.

Dec 25, 2011, 9:24am Top

Merry Christmas!

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2011

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