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Lori's attempt at the 11 in 11 Challenge - Part 4 and Overflow

The 11 in 11 Category Challenge

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1lkernagh
Edited: Dec 6, 2011, 8:34pm Top

Welcome to my Fourth Quarter AUTUMN and OVERFLOW reading!

Previous threads:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3



Crisp autumn days and nights make for great reading weather and is probably my favorite season when I get to pull out my favorite scarfs, sweaters and boots from summer storage. It also is the revival of 'comfort foods' - shepherd's pie, beef stew, lasagna, jalapeno cheese garlic bread, oh I could just go on and on.........




1. "New to me" Canadian Authors CATEGORY COMPLETED!
2. I Don't Remember THAT From History Class: - Historical Fiction (pre-1945) CATEGORY COMPLETED!
3. Follow Thy Author: - More books by authors I have recently discovered CATEGORY COMPLETED!
4. What a Debut!: - Author debut novels CATEGORY COMPLETED!
5. The Envelope Please...: - Prize winners and shortlisted CATEGORY COMPLETED!
6. Lost in Translation: - Foreign language novels translated into English CATEGORY COMPLETED!
7. What is Stephen Harper Reading: List found at Here - explanation found below at message #8. CATEGORY COMPLETED!
8. Steampunk CATEGORY COMPLETED!
9. Next in Series CATEGORY COMPLETED!
10. Off the Shelf CATEGORY COMPLETED!
11. Grandma's Amazing Button Jar CATEGORY COMPLETED!

OVERFLOW - for all the books I will read for the remainder of this year after the challenge is completed.

2lkernagh
Oct 1, 2011, 4:03pm Top

1. "New to me" Canadian Authors:
I think I went a little overboard when I came up with my Trans Canada Journey last year. The goal of reading one author from each of the 10 provinces from coast to coast became a bit of a challenge for me so this year the only restriction will be that I haven't read books by any of the 'new to me' authors' before.

1. Unless by Carol Shields
2. Still Life by Louise Penny
3. Snowmen by Mark Sedore
__________________________________
Completed First Quarter 2011 - see Part 1 thread

4. Letters to Omar by Rachel Wyatt
5. Into That Darkness by Steven Price
6. Kalila by Rosemary Nixon
7. The House of All Sorts by Emily Carr
__________________________________
Completed Second Quarter 2011 - see Part 2 thread

8. The Legacy by David Suzuki
9. Joyner's Dream by Sylvia Tyson
__________________________________
Completed Third Quarter 2011 - see Part 3 thread

CATEGORY COMPLETED!

3lkernagh
Oct 1, 2011, 4:04pm Top

2. I Don't Remember THAT From History Class: - Historical Fiction (pre-1945)

1. What Alice Knew: A Curious Tale of Henry James and Jack the Ripper by Paula Marantz Cohen
2. The Maquinna Line: A Family Saga by Norma MacMillan
__________________________________
Completed First Quarter 2011 - see Part 1 thread

3. Mr. Shakespeare's Bastard by Richard B. Wright
4. The Daughter's Walk by Jane Kirkpatrick
5. Belle by Lesley Pearse
__________________________________
Completed Second Quarter 2011 - see Part 2 thread

6. Bride of New France by Suzanne Desrochers
7. Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary 'Jacky' Faber, Ship's Boy by L. A. Meyer
8. Breakthrough: Elizabeth Hughes, The Discovery of Insulin, and the Making of a Medical Miracle by Thea Cooper
9. The Twice Born by Pauline Gedge
__________________________________
Completed Third Quarter 2011 - see Part 3 thread

CATEGORY COMPLETED!

4lkernagh
Edited: Nov 2, 2011, 12:56am Top

3. Follow Thy Author: - More books by authors I have recently discovered

1. You Went Away by Timothy Findley
2. The Lost Garden by Helen Humphreys
3. Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
__________________________________
Completed First Quarter 2011 - see Part 1 thread

4. The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
5. Irma Voth by Miriam Toews
6. Aiding and Abetting by Muriel Spark
7. Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
__________________________________
Completed Second Quarter 2011 - see Part 2 thread

8. Looking for Jake: Stories by China Mieville
__________________________________
Completed Third Quarter 2011 - see Part 3 thread

9. The Reinvention of Love by Helen Humphreys

CATEGORY COMPLETED!

5lkernagh
Oct 1, 2011, 4:04pm Top

4. What a Debut!: - Author debut novels

1. The Sherlockian by Graham Moore
2. The Patterns of Paper Monsters by Emma Rathbone
3. Words by Ginny Yttrup
4. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
5. The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean
__________________________________
Completed First Quarter 2011 - see Part 1 thread

6. Mr. Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt
7. The Ministry of Special Cases by Nathan Englander
8. The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard
9. When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman
__________________________________
Completed Third Quarter 2011 - see Part 3 thread

CATEGORY COMPLETED!

6lkernagh
Edited: Nov 7, 2011, 10:01pm Top

5. The Envelope Please...: Prize winners and shortlisted

1. Digging to America by Anne Tyler - 2007 Orange Prize shortlist
2. The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields - 1995 Pulitzer Prize winner and 1993 Governor General Award winner
__________________________________
Completed First Quarter 2011 - see Part 1 thread

3. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson - 2005 Pulitzer Prize winner for Fiction
__________________________________
Completed Second Quarter 2011 - see Part 2 thread

4. Small Island by Andrea Levy - 2004 Orange Prize winner for Fiction
5. Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O'Neill - 2008 Orange Prize shortlist
6. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett - 2002 Orange Broadband Prize winner for Fiction
7. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt - 2011 Booker Prize shortlist for Fiction
__________________________________
Completed Third Quarter 2011 - see Part 3 thread

8. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters - 2009 Booker Prize shortlist
9. Empire Falls by Richard Russo - 2002 Pulitzer Prize winner

CATEGORY COMPLETED!

7lkernagh
Oct 1, 2011, 4:05pm Top

6. Lost in Translation: Foreign language novels translated into English

1. The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martinez
2. Frida's Bed by Slavenka Drabulic
3. Limassol by Yishai Sarid
4. A Dead Man's Memoir by Mikhail Bulgakov
__________________________________
Completed First Quarter 2011 - see Part 1 thread

5. Comedy in a Minor Key by Hans Keilson
6. Margherita Dolce Vita by Stefano Benni
7. The Moon Opera by Bi Feiyu
__________________________________
Completed Second Quarter 2011 - see Part 2 thread

8. Liquidation by Imre Kertész
9. Exit by Nelly Arcan
__________________________________
Completed Third Quarter 2011 - see Part 3 thread

CATEGORY COMPLETED!

8lkernagh
Edited: Nov 7, 2011, 10:02pm Top

7. What is Stephen Harper Reading:
Canadian author Yann Martel (Life of Pi, Beatrice and Virgil) has created a website (What is Stephen Harper Reading) that tracks Martel's vow to send a book, and accompanying letter, to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper every two weeks as of April 16, 2007 and for as long as Stephen Harper is Prime Minister of Canada, to remind Harper of the importance of funding culture and the arts. It is an interesting mixed bag collection of books along with the accompanying letters. Call it the Yann Martel version of the '1001 Books before you die'.

1. Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan
__________________________________
Completed First Quarter 2011 - see Part 1 thread

Nothing read in Second Quarter 2011

2. By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Elizabeth Smart
3. The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy
4. Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
5. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
7. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
__________________________________
Completed Third Quarter 2011 - see Part 3 thread

8. Candide by Voltaire
9. To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

CATEGORY COMPLETED!

9lkernagh
Edited: Nov 2, 2011, 12:56am Top

8. Steampunk:
I haven't come up with a catchy title for this one yet. I discovered Steampunk as a genre when I read Elizabeth Bear's New Amsterdam. I am not a big fan of sci-fi or fantasy but as a lover of historical fiction and the mechanical age, I feel as though I have now found something I can completely immerse myself in. This challenge is the test to see if that is true or not.

1. The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook
__________________________________
Completed First Quarter 2011 - see Part 1 thread

2. The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia
3. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
4. The Buntline Special by Mike Resnick
__________________________________
Completed Second Quarter 2011 - see Part 2 thread

5. Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
6. Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding
7. The Affinity Bridge by George Mann
__________________________________
Completed Third Quarter 2011 - see Part 3 thread

8. Goliath by Scott Westerfeld
9. Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

CATEGORY COMPLETED!

10lkernagh
Edited: Dec 6, 2011, 8:35pm Top

9. Next in Series:
Self explanatory. The 1010 challenge was great for introducing me to a number of new series so I wanted to make sure I had a category put aside to capture those books.

1. A Murderous Procession by Ariana Franklin
2. Dead Cold a.k.a. A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny
3. The Bohemian Girl by Kenneth Cameron
__________________________________
Completed First Quarter 2011 - see Part 1 thread

4. A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley
5. Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld
__________________________________
Completed Second Quarter 2011 - see Part 2 thread

6. Curse of the Blue Tattoo by L. A. Meyer
7. Under the Jolly Roger by L. A. Meyer
__________________________________
Completed Third Quarter 2011 - see Part 3 thread

8. I am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley
9. Seer of Egypt by Pauline Gedge

CATEGORY COMPLETED!

11lkernagh
Edited: Nov 12, 2011, 1:26am Top

10. Off the Shelf: - Books I own TBR

1. A Sin of Colour by Sunetra Gupta
2. French Milk by Lucy Knisley
3. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
4. Building the Pauson House edited and introduced by Allan Wright Green
__________________________________
Completed First Quarter 2011 - see Part 1 thread

5. In the Company of Angels by Thomas E. Kennedy
6. Hotel Angeline by 36 writers
__________________________________
Completed Second Quarter 2011 - see Part 2 thread

7. Concerto by Sandra Miller
__________________________________
Completed Third Quarter 2011 - see Part 3 thread

8. Secrets of an Old Typewriter by Susie Duncan Sexton
9. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audry Niffenegger

CATEGORY COMPLETED!

12lkernagh
Edited: Nov 22, 2011, 1:01am Top

11. Grandma's Amazing Button Jar: - Overflow and Everything else.
My Grandma had the most amazing button jar, where she stored every button that ever fell off, was ripped off, taken off or was just found on the floor in passing. To this day, it contains the most amazing surprises and even my teenage nieces have learned when they lose a button off of an item of clothing they ask my Mom, the current keeper of the jar, 'Where is the button jar?" and they always manage to find the perfect replacement button in that huge gallon jar. Books, like buttons, can be the perfect find at the perfect time which is why I have named my catch all category 'Grandma's Amazing Button Jar".

1. The Lace Makers of Glenmara by Heather Barbieri
__________________________________
Completed First Quarter 2011 - see Part 1 thread

2. Brunelleschi's Dome by Ross King
3. Box Bottle Bag by Andrew Gibbs
4. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
__________________________________
Completed Second Quarter 2011 - see Part 2 thread

5. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
6. Pao by Kerry Young
__________________________________
Completed Third Quarter 2011 - see Part 3 thread

7. Havemercy by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett
8. The Birth House by Ami McKay
9. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

CATEGORY COMPLETED!

13lkernagh
Edited: Dec 31, 2011, 10:13am Top

OVERFLOW - Where the reading continues. No limits, no restrictions.

1. Queen of Babble in the Big City by Meg Cabot
2. A Burial at Sea by Charles Finch
3. The Staircase Letters by Arthur Motyer, with Elma Gerwin and Carol Shields
4. The Third Reich by Roberto Bolano
5. Sushi For Beginners by Marian Keyes

14lkernagh
Oct 1, 2011, 4:06pm Top

.... and, this thread is open for business!

15GingerbreadMan
Oct 2, 2011, 5:51am Top

Checking in, starring, waiting eagerly.

16katiekrug
Oct 2, 2011, 8:43am Top

Hi Lori - Just dropping a star...

17cammykitty
Oct 2, 2011, 12:11pm Top

... and for the home stretch ...
I loved your top 5 list.

18DeltaQueen50
Oct 2, 2011, 2:51pm Top

I've placed my star. It's hard to believe that the year is winding down. I do have to admit that I am eager to finish the challenge as I would like some "free" reading time before starting the 12 in 12.

19lkernagh
Oct 2, 2011, 6:36pm Top

Hi Anders, Katie, Katie and Judy - Thanks for stopping by. Last quarter was a good quarter for reading and I am a little surprised that we are already in October. This year has flown by!

20lkernagh
Edited: Oct 2, 2011, 7:24pm Top

Book #86 - The Reinvention of Love by Helen Humphreys
Category: Follow Thy Author



When writer Charles Sainte-Beuve meets Victor's Hugo's wife, Adèle, their star-crossed love affair becomes the talk of Paris and changes the lives of all those around them.

Helen Humphreys is a favorite author of mine and I looked forward to reading this one. Relying heavily on actual events Humphreys has provided, from an historical perspective, an interesting examination of what love is, covering ground she previously provided insight into with her previous novel, The Lost Garden. I started this book and for the first 150 pages treated this book for what I thought it was - a historical fiction of the star-crossed lovers Charles Sainte-Beuve and Adèle Hugo, told from their perspective. The Parisian literary world of the period is captured here as we are introduced to Charles's friendship with George Sand and his acquaintances with the greats of the period - Dumas, Balzac and yes, Victor Hugo. I enjoyed the easy reading style presented here that still captures the essence of the period and the shifting perspectives of Charles and Adèle. I love epistolary novels and was happy to discover that the love and mindset of Adèle's youngest daughter - also Adèle, but known as Dèdè - is captured in a series of correspondence between family and her lover.

By the end of the story, I realized that this was more than a historical fiction piece. It really is a examination of love, in all it's forms - the passionate mutual affection of Charles and Adèle; the stifling, controlling and self-centered love of Victor; the consuming yet misguided love of Dèdè, Adèle and Victor's youngest daughter; the sacrificing love of Charles Vacquerie for Léopoldine, Adèle and Victor's eldest daughter and of course, the love of a mother for her children.

Two of my favorite quotes from the book are below:

It was all I could do after the affair ended. I let my work consume me, feed off my bones. I have nothing else. But writing feels entirely fraudulent in comparison to love. The moment one writes about something is the moment one ceases to understand it. To write is to control experience, and to control experience is to lose its meaning. I am not saved by my work. It is just hard proof that I have lost my way.

Who we are is determined not just by the choices we make, by how we sew events together into narrative. What gives us the true measure of ourselves is how undone we can become by a single moment. And what that moment is.

Overall, a beautiful story I enjoyed reading.

Rating: 4 Stars

Next Up: I have the following mixed selection of books planned as next reads: Secrets of an Old Typewriter by Susie Duncan Sexton, To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf and The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

21tymfos
Oct 2, 2011, 10:09pm Top

Hi, Lori! I've starred your thread.

BTW, I loved the "closed" sign you put at the end of your old thread! Great idea! Very cute.

22cammykitty
Oct 3, 2011, 3:39pm Top

I love the quotes from The Reinvention of Love. I'm going to put it as a possible in my 12 12.

23KiwiNyx
Oct 3, 2011, 6:56pm Top

Great review, onto the list it goes.

24SouthernKiwi
Oct 4, 2011, 4:53am Top

Onto my list it goes. Might be a nice candidate for my 12 in 12 as well.

25Bcteagirl
Oct 4, 2011, 1:06pm Top

Starring your new thread :)

26lkernagh
Edited: Oct 5, 2011, 12:03am Top

Hi Terri, Katie, KiwiNyx, Alana and Janice - Thanks for stopping by! I did enjoy The Reinvention of Love. It made me examine further the characters - Charles Sainte-Beuve, Victor Hugo, Adèle Hugo and the literary greats of the time period mentioned in the book.

I am less than 24 hours away from some long over-due vacation/down time from work. Reading will continue - of course! That is a given - but my on-line LT activity will be sporadic at best for the next little while. Reviews will be posted when I am able or in an onslaught, depending on my mood, the computer(s), technology in general, the phases of the moon, the tide levels, the oracles of wisdom and the ever important throwing of the rune stones,....

;-)

27AHS-Wolfy
Oct 5, 2011, 4:29am Top

Enjoy your time off Lori!

28GingerbreadMan
Oct 5, 2011, 4:30am Top

Have a great vacation, well deserved I'm sure!

29katiekrug
Oct 5, 2011, 9:51am Top

Enjoy yourself!

30DeltaQueen50
Oct 5, 2011, 5:41pm Top

Have a great vacation, Lori. Looking forward to reading all about your great book finds when you get a chance.

31cammykitty
Oct 6, 2011, 9:56am Top

Have a fantastic time!

32-Eva-
Oct 6, 2011, 1:54pm Top

Hope you're having a great holiday. I'm at work right now, quite a bit envious... :)

33KiwiNyx
Oct 6, 2011, 7:21pm Top

Have an excellent break!

34SouthernKiwi
Oct 7, 2011, 1:25am Top

Hope you have a fabulous holiday!

35lkernagh
Oct 14, 2011, 10:05pm Top

Hi Everyone..... Thanks for the great vacation wishes! I am back, reasonably rested and fully recovered from a minor but annoyingly persistent head cold I woke up with back on Oct. 6th.

Canadian Thanksgiving - I made the trip over the mountains to Alberta to spend time with family - was great and involved multiple dinners over multiple nights with rooms and rooms full of family members talking and laughing, enjoying copious amounts of food and wine! A great trip that ended all too soon, but it is nice to be home again.

Yes, reading did occur since my last post, with new reviews to follow!

36lkernagh
Oct 14, 2011, 10:07pm Top

Book #87 - The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
Category: The Envelope Please...
Alternate category: Off the Shelf



From the book backcover: In the dusty post-war summer in rural Warwickshire, a doctor is called to see a patient at lonely Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayers family for over two centuries, the once-grand house is now crumbling while all around, the world is changing. The family - elegant, widowed Mrs. Ayers, her war-damaged son Roderick, and daughter Caroline - are struggling to adjust. As Dr. Faraday becomes increasingly entwined in the Ayeres' lives, troubling events start to occur at Hundreds, and he begins to wonder if they may all be threatened by something more sinister than a dying way of life.

I picked up this book for a number of reasons: it fit the October theme read over on the Reading Through Time group, slotted nicely into my prizes category as a 2009 Booker Prize shortlist, covers off as an Orange read for October as a 2010 Orange Prize longlist and last but not least, as an introduction for me to the works of Waters as I haven't read any of her books before now.

Told from the point of view of Dr. Faraday, I loved this gothic 'atmospheric' tale of the life, family and curiously baffling events that occur at Hundreds Hall over the course of one year. The story has a beautifully slow, suspenseful build to it and watching the events unfold through Dr. Faraday's eyes with his deeply rooted scientific-based rational mind kept me reading late into the night. Not that I agreed with Dr. Faraday and his viewpoints of the events but this was one of those times where my disagreement with his assessment motivated me to read further. I felt there was a nice balance to the story with the characters, the scenery and the plot blending perfectly. Waters maintains her control over the story - some may find the story too controlled and as such, not to their liking - but I found the slow, steady, almost ploddingly build worked really well for me as a reader and added to my overall enjoyment of the story. I am now on the hunt for similar books to this one and The Thirteenth Tale, another favorite of mine.

A book I enjoyed and left behind on my trip with my sister for her to enjoy.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

37lkernagh
Edited: Oct 14, 2011, 10:12pm Top

Book #88 - Secrets of an Old Typewriter: Stories from a Smart and Sassy Small Town Girl by Susie Duncan Sexton
Category: Grandma's Amazing Button Jar
Alternate category: What a Debut!



This book caught my eye because of the cover art and the blurb posted on LT under the Early Reviewer's Program, in particular the statement that Anyone who has ever lived in a small town certainly knows that secrets are sometimes not so secret. I thought to myself, now this has potential for an interesting read!

Interesting it is, but probably not geared towards myself as the target audience. Comprising of 4 parts and a total of 44 chapters, Sexton provides the reader with her personal trip down memory lane of growing up in Columbia City, Indiana; her collegiate years; and adult life in the same town as a Language Arts instructor, animal rescuer and all around civic citizen. One could call the book a collection of vignettes, opinions, and insightful words of wisdom wrapped up and delivered with Sexton's personal flourish.

As previously mentioned, while interesting, I wasn't taken with this one. I found the trip down memory lane chapters to either contain references to movies, books, and famous people I had only a passing knowledge of, and references to local town folk that I had no knowledge of at all and no hope of gaining any knowledge of. Context, to a large extent, is assumed here, which left me wondering sometimes while reading if I was the outsider to a private joke. I also found the use of quotations. colloquialisms, cliches and the italicizing of words and phrases a bit on the excessive side, which didn't help with some of what i found to be a series of run-on sentences.

Overall, the story does deliver what it claims - a view of small town life in America from the 1950's and '60s through to current day, with opinions on a number of diverse topics (religion, politics, etc) told from the perspective of the writer. Sadly, I had a lot of trouble developing interest in the majority of the snippets provided by Sexton and came away feeling that the book would probably fair better in the hands of more localized readers or possibly a generation that grew up during the 50's and 60's.

This book was courtesy of Librarything's Early Reviewer Program.

Rating: 2.5 Stars

38lkernagh
Edited: Oct 15, 2011, 1:54am Top

Book #89 - Empire Falls by Richard Russo
Category: The Envelope Please...
Alternate category: Off The Shelf



From the Book back cover: Miles Roby has been slinging burgers at the Empire Grill for 20 years, a job that cost him his college education and much of his self-respect. What keeps him there? It could be his bright, sensitive daughter Tick, who needs all his help surviving the local high school. Or maybe it's Janine, Mile's soon-to-be ex-wife, who's taken up with a noxiously vain health-club proprietor. Or perhaps it's the impervious Francine Whiting, who owns everything in town - and seems to believe that "everything" includes Miles himself. In Empire Falls Richard Russo delves deep into the blue-collar heart of America in a work that overflows with hilarity, heartache, and grace.

New to me author Russo closes out my prizes category on a high note. His presentation of blue collar society in the formerly booming and now quickly deteriorating fictional mill town of Empire Falls, Maine is a funny, sad and poignant portrayal of people and a society trying to hold on and survive in what by all appearances is nothing more than no-escape lives in a dead-end town. While Miles Roby is the predominant character the story revolves around, there are interesting chapters told from the point of view of Janine, Tick, Father Mark, and local school sports hero Zack interspersed with memory flashbacks to Miles' childhood years. The plot and sub-plots flow from the pages of this book. This is a book that made me ponder, along with Miles, the 'what ifs' of the past.... something a book doesn't usually do. The characters are vibrant, rich and real to life. I will go out on a limb here given how long it has been since I read Dicken's Great Expectations but the matter of fact, incisive nature of Francine Whiting had visions of Miss Havisham running through my mind as I read Russo's story. Note to self: need to think about revisiting Great Expectations sometime soon. End note. On the flip side, Miles' father Max Roby was a breath of fresh air as part comic relief, part reality check for perspective. Every time Max would surface, I just knew something interesting, and possibly outlandish, was going to transpire.

As I mentioned above, this one has plots and sub-plots. Empire Falls won the Pulitzer Prize in 2002 and a well deserved win it is. This review is just scratching the surface of the book with my main thoughts. Russo writes it like it is with such purity of language I consider him the American twin to Canada's David Adams Richards, another favorite novelist of mine who focuses his stories on the blue-collar segment of society, example being his novel Mercy Among the Children. While Richards' stories, at least for me, have a darker feel to them, both Richards' and Russo convey an understanding of their subject matter that rings true with the reader.

Overall: Brilliant, and I will be looking for more books by Russo.

Rating: 5 Stars

39lkernagh
Oct 14, 2011, 10:18pm Top

Whoops - just realized I haven't posted what is next:

Havemercy, book one in the series by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett to fit my steampunk category. Yup, I am still working on that one!

40vancouverdeb
Oct 14, 2011, 11:43pm Top

Hi Lori! Thanks for the review re Secrets of an Old Typewriter. Thanks- I won't be needing to get that particular book. Like you, the cover art and title caught my eye, sorry to read that it does not live up to the great cover art and title.

41GingerbreadMan
Oct 15, 2011, 7:04am Top

Welcome back, glad you had a good time! >36 lkernagh: I've read and enjoyed most of Sarah Waters books - she's one of Flea's favorites - but not yet The little stranger. I pondered it for my little Ghost story category for the 12 in 12, but in the end I chose something else as a canditate because I felt I had too many bricks. I might reconsider though! Oh, and the Russo book sounds fascinating, thank you!

42katiekrug
Oct 15, 2011, 11:28am Top

Hi Lori - Glad you had a good vacation! I love Richard Russo and Empire Falls is an all-time favorite. He wrote a great satire on academia in Straight Man - if you ever come across it, it's pretty hilarious. I finally read Sarah Waters for the first time this year, too - Fingersmith is fabulous! I have The Little Stranger and a couple of others on my TBR shelves and look forward to getting around to them :)

43DeltaQueen50
Oct 15, 2011, 1:56pm Top

Hi Lori, glad to see you back. The Little Stranger is on my wishlist and I am pretty sure I am going to love it as well.

There was an excellent mini-series done on Empire Falls a few years back. Both Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman were in it as well as Ed Harris. I think it was shown on HBO, I remember because my husband and I were travelling in the States at the time and every night while it was on, we had to be sure that our motel came with a HBO connection.

44lkernagh
Oct 16, 2011, 11:58am Top

>40 vancouverdeb: - Hi Deb, the occasional reading dud happens and when it does I am always surprised, wondering how that could have happened!

>41 GingerbreadMan: - Hi Anders, I am now looking forward to reading more of Waters books. You are right, The Little Stranger is a bit of a brick - so is Empire Falls, consider yourself warned ;-) Both are well worth the time invested but reading them while on vacation made it easier.

>42 katiekrug: - Hi Katie, I will keep FingerSmith in mind as my possible next Waters read and thank you for the recommendation for Straight Man, that does sound good!

>43 DeltaQueen50: - Hi Judy, I had no idea Empire Falls had been an HBO miniseries. A quick search of my local library and I am happy to report they have the movie (circa 2005) so I have placed a hold. Thanks!

45cammykitty
Oct 16, 2011, 2:56pm Top

I'm definitely going to have to try Sarah Waters. Interesting review. Looks like you got a lot of good reading in during your vacation! Good to see you back.

46-Eva-
Oct 16, 2011, 4:11pm Top

Lovely! A holiday with family and good food as well as time for reading - what could be better?!

47Smiler69
Oct 17, 2011, 10:17am Top

Argh! Just when I think I've finally caught up with my starred threads, I realized I missed a whole new one! I'll have to come back and read all your reviews here, as the Humphreys book is on my wishlist, the Waters on my shelf, have read Empire Falls and look forward to seeing what made it a 5-star read for you... in other words, I'll be back! :-)

Oh, and, Hi Lori!

48lkernagh
Oct 17, 2011, 9:01pm Top

>45 cammykitty: - Hi Katie, Thanks! I did approach Waters with a little bit of trepidation and was happy to discover just how 'readable' her writing is - which is always a bonus in my opinion!

>46 -Eva-: - Hi Eva, it was without a doubt - minor head cold included - one of the best vacations I have had in a while..... you have now discovered my formula for a great holiday: food, wine, family/friends and reading!

>47 Smiler69: - Hi Ilana, thanks for the drive-by visit! ***Waves*** I know how crazy busy things get over on the 75 group so it is always a pleasure when you manage to make it over here.

49lkernagh
Edited: Oct 21, 2011, 11:42pm Top

Book #90 - Havemercy by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett
Category: Grandma's Amazing Button Jar
Alternate category: What a Debut!



Description from the book: Thanks to its elite Dragon Corps, the capital city of Volstov has all but won the hundred years' war with its neighboring enemy, the Ke-Han. The renegade airmen who fly the corp's mechanical, magic-fueled dragons are Volstov's greatest weapon. But now one of its more unruly members is at the center of the city's rumor mill, causing a distraction that may turn the tide of victory. With Volstov immersed in a scandal that may have international repercussions, the Ke-Han devise an ingenious plan of attack. To counter the threat, four ill-assorted heroes must converge to save the kingdom they love: an exiled magician, a naive country boy, a young student - and the unpredictable ace airman who flies the city's fiercest dragon, Havemercy.

I am going to start this review off by stating that I cannot remember when I have EVER been so disappointed with a book. To avoid my disgruntled rant, ignore the rest of this post.

I am partially ticked by the fact I feel as though I was taken in by the tagging here in LT and the book page on Wikipedia calling this one Steampunk. IMO, this is not Steampunk.... it is fantasy. Magician 'Magicked" mechanical dragons and nothing else of any import does not make a novel Steampunk. For readers of world builds, this may have some attraction as the authors do go into some detail describing this alternate world. My main gripe with this book is that - at 388 pages - I really don't enjoy spending the first 250 pages in character introductions and scenery background. Plot - what Plot?!?! When the story FINALLY exhibited signs of delving into the plot of the story - see description from book above - even then it was only a half baked attempt at driving the story forward. That, and I am trying to understand how two female authors could have written such a testosterone, cliche-based story where the only female characters appear to be the mechanical dragons, or at least the title-named dragon Havemercy, the limpid palace wallflowers looking for a shag at every ball, and the three districts of Volstov - named Molly, Charlotte and Miranda. Yes, they gave the different districts female characteristics, and not all in a good way with Molly being the bottom of the community, Charlotte the fun, entertainment sector and Miranda where the mucky-mucks reside. I think the authors spent way too much time focusing on the voices and inner thoughts of the four main characters - the exiled magician Margrave Royston, the naive country boy Hal, the young 'Versity student Thom and the unpredictable ace airman Rook - and left everything else to develop on its own.

Once I realized that this was book one in what is currently a four book series, I had frightening visions that I was going to drag my way to the end of this one only to be informed, "stay tuned next week folks for the next installment of...." Now, thankfully, that didn't happen here. As the copy I read was a library book, I really didn't want to return a damaged book to the library after bashing it against the wall a few times.

**** No book damage has occurred during the reading of this book or in writing this review. ****

Overall, what a huge, HUGE disappointment and I will now need to line up another replacement book for my Steampunk category.

Rating: 1.5 Stars

Next Up: Well, after that bombshell, I have decided to venture into different waters and plan to read The Birth House by Ami McKay.

50SouthernKiwi
Oct 22, 2011, 12:01am Top

I hope The Birth House is more to your liking, Lori!

51DeltaQueen50
Oct 22, 2011, 1:23pm Top

Havemercy sounds like one to avoid. Sorry you had such a disappointment, Lori, but thanks for the warning.

52lkernagh
Oct 22, 2011, 4:14pm Top

>50 SouthernKiwi: - Hi Alana, I finished the first 4 chapters of The Birth House and find myself happily reading a book that I am confident will not disappoint me!

>51 DeltaQueen50: - Hi Judy, a dud every once in a while tends to happen.... just not often, which is a good thing!

53AHS-Wolfy
Oct 22, 2011, 7:34pm Top

Reading a bad one every now and then makes you appreciate the good ones all the more.

54cammykitty
Oct 24, 2011, 12:09am Top

What a debomb! Thanks for the warning.

55lkernagh
Oct 24, 2011, 1:17pm Top

Book #91 - The Birth House by Ami McKay
Category: Grandma's Amazing Button Jar
Alternate categories: "New to Me" Canadian Authors and What a Debut!



Set predominantly during the turbulent years of World War I, this is a great story about the collision of traditional medicine and midwifery with the advancing modern science of obstetrics and modern medicine as a whole. Young Dora Rare is the first daughter to be born in five generations of Rares, raised in the isolated village of Scots Bay on the coast of Nova Scotia. Miss Babineau is an outspoken Acadian with a gift for healing and a kitchen filled with herbs and folk remedies. Miss Babineau is the midwife the women of Scots Bay turn to for cures and to birth their children. While a lot of people in Scots Bay view Miss Babineau to be a witch of sorts, - Never break bread with midwives and witches: your skin'll soon crawl with boils, hives and itches - Dora is drawn to Miss Babineau's kitchen and becomes the midwife's apprentice, helping the women of Scots Bay through infertility, difficult labours, breech births, unwanted pregnancies and even fulfilling sex lives.

It is the arrival of Dr. Gilbert Thomas with the support of the Farmer's Assurance Company and promises of fast, painless childbirths and statements that Pituitrin and chloroform are a mother's two best friends that sets the stage for this collision of traditional and modern medicine. Dr. Thomas is determined to stop the midwife practice of childbirth as illegal and have all mothers of Scots Bay make what in the winter would be a difficult trip down the mountain to his new birthing house in Canning. Facing growing opposition, Dora struggles to protect the birthing traditions that have been passed down to her.

I found this story to be a fascinating read. As McKay mentions in the author's note at the end of the book, news of World War I dominated the newspapers at the time with stories of woman's suffrage, fertility awareness, birth control and the science of obstetrics were mentioned briefly if at all in only the large city papers. A woman's struggle to gain the right to choose what happened to her own body was a silent issue discussed quietly in knitting circles and around the kitchen table. The viewpoints of some learned medical/scientific professionals of the time period are shocking to say the least. Dr. Thomas' view of a pregnant woman and her condition is a dim one: "You must understand Mrs. Jessop: like you, the majority of pregnant women are neurotic." The use of The Swedish Movement Generator in the treatment of neurasthenia.... well, I just don't know what to say about that!

Interspersed with letters and newspaper clippings - adverts, articles, etc - I felt the story captured the essence of an isolated community, folklore traditions, temperance societies and the war effort along with details of the aftermath of the Halifax Explosion and the influenza outbreaks of the period. Dora's struggle to defend the midwife tradition in the face of opposition makes for a great story. My favorite quote is this one: Each day brings another handful of opportunities. It's up to you to make the best of what you're given. At the end of the book are notes from the Willow Book - the herbal remedy bible of Miss Babineau.

Overall a wonderful rich story and an amazing debut novel. I now look forward to reading McKay's second novel, The Virgin Cure which I believe has just released.

Rating: 4 Stars

Next Up: Candide by Voltaire.

56SouthernKiwi
Oct 25, 2011, 12:46am Top

The Birth House sounds wonderful, Lori. Another one for the wishlist!

57lkernagh
Oct 25, 2011, 10:00pm Top

>56 SouthernKiwi: - Hi Alana, it was a good one!

58lkernagh
Oct 25, 2011, 10:04pm Top

Book #92 - Candide by Voltaire
Category: What is Stephen Harper Reading
Alternate category: Lost in Translation



Summary:
Candide, Voltaire's masterpiece, according to the inside cover of the Modern Library edition I read, is a brilliant satire of the theory that our world is "the best of all possible worlds." The book traces the picaresque adventures of the Guileless Candide, who is forced into the army, flogged, shipwrecked, betrayed, robbed, separated from his beloved Cunegonde, tortured by the Inquisition, et cetera, all without losing his resilience and will to live and pursue a happy life.

My Thoughts:
As fables go, this was a fun, quick adventure down a rabbit hole of metaphysics, philosophy and the examination of human nature. The best way to approach this story is to treat it as the fable it is - a lesson with the hopes of educating the reader that facile optimism has its downfalls. The edition I read, Random House's seventy-fifth anniversary illustrated edition added to my reading pleasure. It was obvious reading this that Voltaire was not afraid to express his opinions through his writing and knew how to express displeasure through well delivered punchlines. This was my first time reading Candide and had to remind myself 'its a fable' when characters would 're-appear' in the story at the unlikeliest of times and places.

The reason Martel sent a copy of this book to Stephen Harper:
Candide is the 7th book Martel sent to the Canadian Prime Minister. After taking the scenic journey to comment on the six degrees of separation between Martel and Harper, and referencing Voltaire's dismissing of Canada as "a few acres of snow", Martel does explain the Lisbon Earthquake of November 1, 1755, the ensuing tsunami and the fires that combined killed over sixty thousand people. Martel explains that Voltaire wrote Candide in part as a reaction to this cataclysmic event as defying the reasoning of philosopher Gottfried Leibniz that our world "is the best of all possible worlds" as God is good and all powerful. If God is good and all-powerful, how could such a catastrophe as the Lisbon Earthquake occur in a city piously Catholic and on All Saints' Day, of all days? Martel presents the position that Voltaire wrote Candide with the view that to be eternally optimistic in the face of great evil and suffering was not only insensitive to its victims, but morally and intellectually untenable. Interesting food for thought and one of Martel's better letters to the Prime Minister that I have read so far. The letter Martel sent to Harper along with this book can be viewed here.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Next Up: Goliath, book three in Westerfeld's Leviathan trilogy!!! Can you tell I am excited to be starting this one.... ;-)

59-Eva-
Edited: Oct 26, 2011, 1:36pm Top

It's been ages since I read Candide (at Uni a long, long time ago...) and I remember it as quite funny - although I am a huge proponent of sarcasm as a great form of humor (not all will agree with me on that) so that is a big part of my enjoyment. :)

I'm half-way through Goliath myself - quite exciting!! :)

60Smiler69
Oct 26, 2011, 12:48pm Top

Hi Lori, am all caught up with you again. Something tells me you'll enjoy Goliath, if only because you've enjoyed the first two so much. I have yet to plunge into Leviathan. I'ts been on my reading list almost every month, but other books beckoning louder so far...

61lkernagh
Oct 26, 2011, 9:20pm Top

>59 -Eva-: - Hi Eva, I will join you in the sarcasm as a great form of humor camp. Wordplay, witticisms and banter has always been huge in our family and I usually need to remind myself at work or in other settings that some comments I may feel are apt are just not... shall we say... à propos....;-)

As for Goliath, I am flying through this one and loving it as much as the previous two books in the trilogy. Bovril has had me in stitches.... soooo adorable and sooooo funny!

>60 Smiler69: - Hi Ilana, I understand about the beckoning of books. On the bright side, if and when you do decide to make the plunge you won't have to go through the annoyance of impatiently tapping your foot waiting for the next book to be published!

62-Eva-
Edited: Oct 26, 2011, 9:38pm Top

MR. Sharp. *chortle* ♥

63cammykitty
Oct 27, 2011, 9:17pm Top

I remember loving Candide. Wish I had had an illustrated edition though. I'm just imagining the wood carvings he would've chosen to go along with it.

The Birth House looks like one for the wish list.

64lkernagh
Edited: Oct 29, 2011, 11:20am Top

Book #93 - Goliath by Scott Westerfeld
Category: Steampunk
Alternate categories: Next in Series



Alek and Deryn are aboard the Leviathan, when the ship is ordered to pick up an unusual passenger. This brilliant/maniacal inventor claims to have a weapon called Goliath that can end the war. But whose side is he really on?

Book three in Westerfeld's fun, adventure steampunk trilogy set in an alternate reality of our World War I time period picks up where book two Behemoth left off. I am always a little leary of trilogies - can the author maintain the caliber/balance of storytelling that captivated the audience of the earlier books? - Well, I am happy to report that Westerfeld has managed, IMO, to maintain the pace of his continually moving plot and has incorporated great tie-ins to actual historical facts to work with his interesting alternate reality of a world of Darwinists and Clankers.

My favorite character, Bovril - if you haven't already guessed from the previous posts on this thread - is back and providing entertainment along with insightful observations for our two young adventurers. This time Westerfeld has brought the following interesting historical figures into the story - the scientist/inventor Nikola Tesla, the newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst and the Mexican Revolutionary Francisco "Pancho" Villa - while still having beasties, machines, secrets, missions and battles abound.

As for Alek and Deryn, our main characters, the story does provide for further character development, which I won't go into here, you will have the read the trilogy. The ending felt a little flat after three books and some 1,500 pages of adventure and excitement. This is my only - and very minor - downside comment with trilogy. As Christina (christina reads) mentioned in her review that can be found on her thread, I do hope Westefeld has another trilogy - along similar lines as this one - in the works!

Rating: 5 Stars

Next Up: I am not in the mood right now for the book I had lined up as next so will need to ponder this for a bit... possibly while standing in front of my bookselves.

65christina_reads
Oct 29, 2011, 12:22pm Top

MISTER Sharp!

66lkernagh
Oct 30, 2011, 12:45pm Top

> 65 - That still cracks me up!

I have decided on my next read - Cherie Priest's Boneshaker which will close out my steampunk category. Not sure if I will have it finished in time for inclusion in the October re-cap though....

67-Eva-
Oct 30, 2011, 9:19pm Top

I just finished Goliath as well (haven't written my review yet, though) and am agreeing with what you said.

And, of course, I too ♥ Bovril!!

68GingerbreadMan
Oct 31, 2011, 6:13pm Top

Not reading your review of Goliath for fear of spoilers (I've yet to read Behemoth, see), but note the five stars with satisfaction. Enjoy Boneshaker! A fun read I thought, even if the ending went a little over the top for me.

69lkernagh
Edited: Oct 31, 2011, 10:25pm Top

>67 -Eva-: - Hi Eva - It really was such a fun trilogy to read! Glad to see you enjoyed it as well!

>68 GingerbreadMan: - Hi Anders - When you do find time to dive back into Westerfeld's trilogy - Yup, already paid a visit to your thread! - I think you will enjoy it. I hope to finish Boneshaker tomorrow and will post my thoughts soon after.

70lkernagh
Edited: Oct 31, 2011, 10:28pm Top



October Re-Cap

# books finished this month: 8
# books read so far this challenge: 93
Minimum # books to read to complete challenge: 99
# books left to read for this challenge: 6
Favorite book for the month: Tie between Goliath by Scott Westerfeld and Empire Falls by Richard Russo - both at 5 Stars
Least favorite book for the month: Havemercy by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett - 1.5 Stars

'New to me' Canadian Authors (9/9 read) - CATEGORY COMPLETED
I Don't Remember THAT From History Class (9/9 read) - CATEGORY COMPLETED
Follow Thy Author (9/9 read) - CATEGORY COMPLETED
~ ~ The reinvention of Love by Helen Humphreys - 4 Stars

What a Debut! (9/9 read) - CATEGORY COMPLETED
The Envelope Please (9/9 read) - CATEGORY COMPLETED
~ ~ The Little Stranger by Sarah Wateres - 4.5 Stars
~ ~ Empire Falls by Richard Russo - 5 Stars

Lost in Translation (9/9 read) - CATEGORY COMPLETED
What Stephen Harper is Reading (8/9 read) - 1 to go!
~ ~ Candide by Voltaire - 3.5 Stars

Steampunk (8/9 read) - 1 to go!
~ ~ Goliath by Scott Westerfeld - 5 Stars

Next in Series (7/9 read) - 2 to go!
No books finished this month
Off the Shelf (7/9 read) - 2 to go!
No books finished this month

Grandma's Amazing Button Jar (9/9 read) - CATEGORY COMPLETED
~ ~ Secrets of an Old Typewriter by Susie Duncan Sexton - 2.5 Stars
~ ~ Havemercy by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett - 1.5 Stars
~ ~ The Birth House by Ami McKay - 4 Stars

With 6 books to go I should be finished in November and the free reading will then commence in the overflow category I have added to this thread for the rest of my 2011 reading.

And for those that celebrate.......

71Smiler69
Nov 1, 2011, 12:40pm Top

Congratulations on doing so well with your challenge Lori. I was pretty laid back about mine, and wasn't so assiduous about posting books form the 75 books challenge, not wanting to finish too early, but now with over 20 books short of the mark, it's looking like I might not make it after all! I may have to go back to my reads throughout the year and include some for this challenge I hadn't considered before... is that cheating?

72lkernagh
Nov 1, 2011, 10:06pm Top

Hi Ilana - Cheating..... what cheating? No, you can do what you want to make it so if it means adding books you read earlier this year, or allowing for repeats (same book in more than one category) I say go for it!

73lkernagh
Nov 2, 2011, 1:02am Top

Book #94 - Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
Category: Steampunk



Seattle, Washington circa 1880. The city of Seattle is a walled in fortress, and not to protect its inhabitants from outside terrors. The wall is to protect the residents outside from the rotters and the Blight that are contained behind the walls. An experiment/test gone awry 16 years previous tore an underground tunnel that collapsed part of the central business district and, even worse, released an underground toxic gas that killed by contamination but was too heavy to climb too far above the earth's surface. The dead killed by breathing in this gas... well,.... don't exactly stay dead.

16 years after that fateful incident/disaster, single mom Briar Wilkes and her teenage son Ezekiel ("Zeke") live in the scrabble for survival community that established itself outside of the wall. Life is tough, especially when you have a past and a family connection people won't let you forget. Briar doesn't like to discuss with Zeke the past so when he decides to go on a secret crusade to redeem his family's reputation which involves entering the walled city teeming with ravenous undead, criminal overlords, air pirates and heavily armed refugees, it is up to Briar to go after him to bring him out alive.

While I enjoyed this story for the zombie-filled steampunk adventure that it is, even though I am not a zombie fan, but I wasn't blown away by it. Yes, the emphasis on the zombies - the rotters - was part of the problem. While the world of the living within the walled city is fascinating, and as much as I liked the inventions - the Drilling Engine, Daisy, etc - and the interesting inhabitants, I had a difficult time connecting with characters that have a habit of running head-on into danger and pick the most inopportune moments to want to question things and demand explanations. The sky pirates added to my enjoyment, even if they were a bit predicable,... they are pirates after all! I also found the ending to be a letdown.... one of those "eh?" moments.

Overall, a decent steampunk adventure if you like your adventure stories to have zombies, some gratuitous violence added in with the violence and don't mind if the characters occasionally make some really bad choices. It was the last bit that irked me and while I will probably read the next book in the series, I am not in a huge rush to pick up a copy.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Next Up: To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf to close out my What is Stephen Harper Reading category.

74AHS-Wolfy
Nov 2, 2011, 5:56am Top

Boneshaker hadn't quite made my wishlist but it was edging closer. Think I might wait to hear views for the next book before choosing either way.

75GingerbreadMan
Nov 2, 2011, 8:02am Top

Good review of Boneshaker! I also found the charcters to pretty hollow, but to me the overstated ending was really what did it (The "Fool! I would have given you everything!" bit). I ended up giving it 3,5 as well.

76clfisha
Nov 2, 2011, 8:45am Top

Nice review. I think I will be reading Boneshaker next year (as its languishing on my TBR). I have been suitably warned by several people now so hopefully being aware of the faults going in will make it a better read/

77GingerbreadMan
Nov 2, 2011, 9:13am Top

A fast-paced and fun read - despite the flaws!

78lkernagh
Nov 2, 2011, 9:22pm Top

Hi Dave, Anders, Claire - Thanks for stopping by. I agree with Claire, sometimes it helps to be suitably warned about a book before picking it up. I wasn't expecting to be blown away by Boneshaker and was happy that I found enough good things I enjoyed while reading this one to keep me interested.

A fast-paced and fun read - despite the flaws!
Now, that is a perfect, succinct review of Boneshaker!

79cammykitty
Nov 4, 2011, 4:44pm Top

Great review of Boneshaker. I'm still a bit on the fence though. ;)

80lkernagh
Nov 7, 2011, 10:43pm Top

>79 cammykitty: - Thanks Katie! Not sure when I will get around to the next book in that series.... maybe next year.

81lkernagh
Edited: Nov 7, 2011, 11:02pm Top

Book #95 - To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Category: What is Stephen Harper Reading
Alternate category: Off the Shelf



Summary:
Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse explores the subjective reality of everyday life in the Hebrides for the Ramsay family. Taken from the Introduction: 'Examine for a moment an ordinary mind on an ordinary day' receiving 'a myriad impressions... let us trace the pattern... which each sight or incident scores upon the consciousness'.

The back cover of my book mentions that To The Lighthouse is the most autobiographical of Virginia Woolf's novels. It is based on her own early experiences, and while it touches on childhood and children's perceptions and desires, it is at its most trenchant when exploring adult relationships, marriage and the changing class-structure of its time.

My Thoughts:
My exposure to Woolf's works are limited to this one and Mrs. Dalloway, both books written as 'streams of consciousness'. I did enjoy this one - great descriptive prose written with an artistic eye for light, colour and presentation in a stream of consciousness style that for the most part worked well for me and really captured the essence of the time period, which if I am not mistaken was right before the start of World War I. This one also took some time to get through as Woolf crams a lot of description and meaning into the pages. With such well written prose, it was easy for me to want to just sit back and enjoy the writing and glaze over the examination Woolf presents of the human psyche. I am pretty sure I missed some of the meaning - in particular the blustering manner of Mr. Ramsay, which I am still at a loss to explain - and will keep this one on my shelf for a future re-read.

My favorite quote from the book: The spring without a leaf to toss, bare and bright like a virgin fierce in her chastity, scornful in her purity, was laid out on fields wide-eyed and watchful and entirely careless of what was done or thought by beholders.

The reason Martel sent a copy of this book to Stephen Harper:
To The Lighthouse is the 27th book Martel sent to the Canadian Prime Minister. The book was sent with a suggestion that one enter slowly, mindfully, taking one's time the many rooms of Virginia Woolf's prose. Good advice as I cannot see how anyone can fly through this one. One thing I did like about Martel's letter is that he mentions that Woolf is probably exploring two things: 1) the mind and how consciousness interacts with reality and 2) time, the effect and experience of it. The letter Martel sent to Harper along with this book can be viewed here.

Rating: 4 Stars

This closes out my What is Stephen Harper Reading category but I will continue to read from the list next year for the 12 in 12 - poetry and plays are also on this list. ;-)

Next Up: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, a book for my "Off the Shelf" category and as a 2004 Orange Prize longlist, fits in as my Orange read for the month of November.

82Smiler69
Nov 7, 2011, 11:48pm Top

I enjoyed your review of To the Lighthouse Lori. I read it this year and really enjoyed it in some parts (parts 1 and 3, to be more specific) and not so much for part 2, which I found incredibly confusing. But it's a book I will revisit more than once, I'm sure. I'm glad you're continuing with this category in the 12/12 challenge, as it's one I find particularly interesting and just might take up someday.

83GingerbreadMan
Nov 8, 2011, 11:29am Top

To the lighthouse is my favorite Woolf. Can't wait to hear your thoughts on Niffenegger's book. I really liked it when I read it a few years back - a very well executed idea, taken all the way.

84-Eva-
Nov 8, 2011, 1:10pm Top

Ah, To The Lighthouse, on which I wrote a paper in 15 minutes (hyperbole) for a Modern Literature class and have no idea what it's about (I still have the paper, but no recollection of writing it). Some semesters at Uni were clearly too crammed to even register what I was reading.

I'll second Anders' comment about The Time Traveller's Wife, a very well executed idea indeed!

85katiekrug
Nov 8, 2011, 7:55pm Top

Very nice review of To the Lighthouse which I read for a British Lit class in college but barely remember. I plan to revisit it sooner rather than later, as I have a vague memory of liking it...

86lkernagh
Nov 8, 2011, 10:00pm Top

Hi Anders, Eva and Katie, To the Lighthouse is beautifully executed. I did confuse some of the transitions from character to character and the last 30 pages had me struggling to resist the urge to speed read, but overall, a very good story that requires further examination on my part.

As for The Time Traveler's Wife, I am 56 pages in and realize that I shouldn't expect anything in the norm while reading this story! It should prove to be a captivating page turner at this rate.

87craso
Nov 8, 2011, 10:40pm Top

The Time Traveler's Wife is one of my favorite books. It's one of those books that I have spoken to people I notice carrying it and said "Isn't that a wonderful book?" and they all agree. I think you will really enjoy it.

88-Eva-
Edited: Nov 9, 2011, 12:03pm Top

->86 lkernagh:

It's definitely a fasten-your-seatbelt kind of story! I thought, with that premise, that it would be incredibly messy, but it wasn't at all. Hope you end up liking it too!

ETA: From what I have been told, do not watch the film. Apparently that one is messy. :)

89lkernagh
Nov 12, 2011, 1:30am Top

>88 -Eva-: - From what I have been told, do not watch the film. Apparently that one is messy. :)

After watching the trailer, I will agree with that assessment!

90lkernagh
Edited: Nov 12, 2011, 1:34am Top

Book #96 - The Time Traveler's Wife by Audry Niffenegger
Category: Off the Shelf



Clare: When I was a child I looked forward to seeing Henry. Every visit was an event. Now every absence is a nonevent, a subtraction, an adventure I will hear about when my adventurer materializes at my feet, bleeding or whistling, smiling or shaking. Now I am afraid when he is gone.

Henry: Our love has been the thread through the labyrinth, the net under the high-wire walker, the only real thing in this strange life of mine that I could ever trust.

LT shows way too many members with this book in one of their libraries/wishlists, and way too many reviews posted so I will just jump in with my thoughts on the book.

I really enjoyed this interesting, unique story. I know some readers have been put off with how the story jumps around but I liked the lack of linear writing and the jumping back and forth in time and between the different perspectives of Henry and Clare, allowing the story to slowly weave together. Clare and Henry are an interesting pair but my favorite character is Kimy - practical, unfazzing 'tell it like it is' Kimy - and my favorite sections of the story involve Henry's encounters with himself and the awkward experiences he faces at the Newberry. I had a fun time travel of my own reading this story courtesy of the laundry list of songs and musical artists mentioned throughout the story I haven't listened to in a Long time, bringing back fun memories. While I was able to predict how the story would end, that knowledge did not interfere with my enjoyment of the story.

About two thirds of the way through the story I made the mistake of watching the movie trailer. While I loved the story, I will not be watching the movie. The trailer was enough to convince me I will not be reasonably smitten with the movie adaptation.

Overall, I am glad I finally took this one down off the bookshelf and read it.

Rating: 4 Stars

Next Up: The Night Circus because I really, REALLY want to read this one, came across the group read for the book and cannot wait to finish this challenge before reading it. To make this one count here, I have decided to move my last LTER book from my catch-all category "Grandma's Amazing Button Jar" to my "Off the Shelf" category. As the book was in my library and I did need to read it, I have decided that this is a justified category move.

91lkernagh
Nov 12, 2011, 1:33am Top

With this shuffling of one book and the completion of The Time Traveler's Wife, I have now completed my Off the Shelf category and have the following 3 books left to read to complete this challenge:
~~ Next in Series: 2 more books
~~ Grandma's Amazing Button Jar: 1 more book - The Night Circus

;-)

92DeltaQueen50
Nov 12, 2011, 5:22pm Top

You are getting really close to the finish, Lori.

You've brought The Time Traveller's Wife to the forefront of my thoughts again. This is a book I keep planning on reading but then something always comes along to distract me.

I am also going to be taking part in the group read of The Night Circus and I think from all the buzz around LT that we are in for a treat.

93-Eva-
Nov 14, 2011, 12:35am Top

Pleased to hear you enjoyed Time Traveler's! Night Circus is quite a lovely read too, if a bit distanced in its narration. Hope you like that one as well!

94lkernagh
Nov 14, 2011, 9:10pm Top

Hi Judy and Eva - The Time Traveler's Wife was good and well worth pulling of the bookshelf. It's not the 'cutesy' love story like I kept on thinking it was.

So far I am enjoying The Night Circus, although I am finding the place and time shifts in this one a little more difficult to keep track of in my mind. I do like the artistic presentation of the story - and having a hard time slowing down my reading. The group read is scheduled to span over two weeks but I am pretty sure I will be finished reading before this weekend!

95VictoriaPL
Edited: Nov 15, 2011, 8:50am Top

TTTW is one of my favorite books. I enjoyed the movie too, but I'm not sure I think of them in the same way. The film brought out different reactions from me in some scenes, which I found interesting - especially where young Clare and older Henry are concerned. And Alba. The ending to the film just tore my heart to shreds. The book seems more full of hope.

96DeltaQueen50
Nov 15, 2011, 11:51pm Top

Hi Lori, I am also enjoying The Night Circus and I will probably also end up reading ahead, if I really get into a book, I find it hard to slow down.

97tymfos
Nov 18, 2011, 7:46am Top

Good morning, Lori! You are really close to finishing this challenge.

Thanks to your reviews, I'm once again thinking about adding The Birth House and Empire Falls to my ever-expanding list . . . but there are already so many books on the list . . . the book lover's dilemma.

98lkernagh
Nov 19, 2011, 6:29pm Top

>95 VictoriaPL: - Hi Victoria, interesting observation about the movie and the book. I always worry about seeing the movie when I love a book as I tend to be easily disappointed when the movie doesn't match the version that played in my head while reading the book. Now that in have made this comment, there have been exceptions where I have been pleasantly surprised!

>96 DeltaQueen50: - Hi Judy, My reading of The Night Circus has stalled slightly over the past few days but I am looking forward to diving back into the book tomorrow and will probably finish it. So far, loving it!

>97 tymfos: - Hi Terri, thanks for stopping by! I agree, with so many books out there, it is really hard to decide what makes the read it soon cut and what has to wait for some time later. ;-)

99Smiler69
Nov 20, 2011, 1:31am Top

I saw TTTW movie version a couple of years ago, not having read the book and thought it was quite great. I guess I'll move the book up the TBR.

100lkernagh
Edited: Nov 23, 2011, 9:06pm Top

Book #97 - The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Category: Grandma's Amazing Button Jar



The circus arrives without warning.
No announcements procede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newpapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.


So begins Morgenstern's stunning debut novel, a literary feast for the senses. The story is about magicians, the public venue of a magical challenge, Le Cirque de Reves - The Circus of Dreams - and its many performers and patrons but I would be remiss if I did not mention that for me, the sensory presentation of the setting, the costumes and the cornucopia of circus venues/attractions is what sold me on this amazing story. The story shifts place, time and characters but the artistic visual feast remains strong, vibrant and absolutely fantastic from the opening page to the closing paragraph. If you think the cover art is great, you really do need to read the book to see Morgenstern's ability to paint a picture in a reader's mind!

While not a full 5 star read for me - I have some quibbles about some character and plot development that didn't quite work for me - this is an amazing reading experience. While I didn't feel as though I had walked directly into the pages of Morgenstern's world while reading this one, I did feel as though the story was occurring before me within a gigantic snow-globe or looking glass.... something to watch with rapt attention but not touch.

Excellent, imaginative debut novel.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Next Up: I am Half-Sick of Shadows, book four in Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce series.

101DeltaQueen50
Nov 22, 2011, 3:03am Top

A great review, Lori. It's quite a debut for this author, it will be interesting to see how she follows this book up.

102katiekrug
Nov 22, 2011, 2:16pm Top

Excellent review of The Night Circus, Lori! I have a copy and had hoped to join the group read of it but decided instead to save it for Christmas break at my in-laws when I may very well need an escape :)

103-Eva-
Nov 22, 2011, 2:31pm Top

I too am looking forward to see how she follows this one up! It is very much like watching a beautiful film and I hope that for her next book, she'll get under the skin of the characters more. I accepted it in this book since, in the beginning, the narrator speaks to the reader as if we're visitors to the circus, but I hope she doesn't repeat that for the next book.

104vancouverdeb
Nov 22, 2011, 5:12pm Top

H Lori!! Enjoy your new Flavia De Luce book! I was watching a trailer for it on the web, and it looks to be a good book for the Christmas season! I'm glad you enjoyed Night Circus. I have it on my kitchen table, waiting to be read - but my husbands foot healing took precedence over the group read.

Hmm - I loved The Birth House and her new book, The Virgin Cure. I've got The Little Stranger on the shelf... It looks like we read a fair number of books in common.

105Smiler69
Nov 22, 2011, 5:23pm Top

Will have to come back for that latest review as I'm just a quarter of the way through The Night Circus right now, but I'll look forward to your take on it Lori!

106lkernagh
Nov 22, 2011, 11:42pm Top

Hi Judy, Katie, Eva, Deb and Ilana - The Night Circus was well worth the read. I was running errands in town over the weekend and was reading it on my e-reader at one point while waiting in a line up. A gentleman in the line behind me at one point asked me what I was reading as I appeared to be so engrossed with it. When I mentioned The Night Circus he said "Read it, Loved it. A great book" and promptly left me alone to continue my reading!

Deb, to give you a laugh, I have The Virgin Cure ready for pick-up at my local library so I will be reading that one soon!

;-)

107GingerbreadMan
Nov 23, 2011, 3:51pm Top

Flea just put Night Circus on her wishlist for Christmas (she's always getting books from her parents), so there's a good chance I'll have it waiting on a nearby shelf soon :)

108tymfos
Nov 23, 2011, 7:28pm Top

I look at The Night Circus and think, "that just doesn't sound like something I'd enjoy," but everyone is so enthusiastic about it, I'm thinking of trying it.

109ivyd
Nov 24, 2011, 1:33pm Top

>108 tymfos: I've had the same thoughts, Terri! I'm really wavering...

110lkernagh
Nov 24, 2011, 10:15pm Top

> 107 - Hi Anders, I love this time of year. I request books on my wishlist too, and 'Santa' usually delivers the very specific books listed! ;-)

>108 tymfos: and 109 - Hi Terri and Ivy, I went to check the book description posted on Amazon as I recently saw someone commenting on LT (cannot remember which thread) that the book description on Amazon had turned them off the book. After reading the book description posted there I can understand why some might not be so keen to snatch up a copy of the book to read:

Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

I have to say that the whole love angle between the two characters wasn't quite as prominent and in-your-face as the above italicized statement seems to imply. If I had based my decision to read the book just on the book description, I probably would have passed it by and listed it as a 'maybe later'.

111lkernagh
Edited: Nov 27, 2011, 1:26am Top

Book #98 - I am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley
Category: Next in Series



Oh, how I do enjoy my visits to good old Buckshaw to see what Flavia, the de Luce family and the locals of Bishop's Lacey are up to. I am not giving anything away by saying that murder is a foot once again.

It is mere days before Christmas and while Flavia is preparing an experiment to ensnare Jolly old Saint Nick - kids and their chemistry laboratories, I tell you **laughingly rolls eyes** - the crumbling and decaying family heap Buckshaw has been invaded by a film crew. When a dead body is discovered, the house is full of potential suspects and Flavia, once again on hand to uncover the pieces to this mystery.

As already mentioned, I do enjoy these visits with Flavia. I liked the Christmas theme of this one and loved how a number of characters from the previous books in the series have made a return appearance. All the more reason to read a series in book order!!!

The three previous books have all received a solid 4 star rating from me. For this one, I have to drop it down a half star. If I was giving it a decimal rating I would give it a 3.7 - still a solid read and great fun, but somewhat lacking in the sparring I have grown to enjoy between Flavia and the Hinley constabulary. That being said, Bradley still delivers a fun, delightful mystery for pure escapism purposes and I look forward to the next book in the series when it comes out.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (3.7 decimal rating)

Next Up: The last book to complete this challenge.....

112AHS-Wolfy
Nov 27, 2011, 6:36am Top

Last book! Woo-hoo!!!

113DeltaQueen50
Nov 28, 2011, 2:10am Top

Way to go, Lori. I'm waiting to see what your last book is going to be.

114VictoriaPL
Nov 28, 2011, 8:44am Top

Yay! Only one more!

115GingerbreadMan
Nov 28, 2011, 9:23am Top

Squinting past your review of the new Flavia De Luce as I still haven't started that series, and instead focus on cheering you on as you come through the last curve and head into the final stretch! Wee-haa!

116SouthernKiwi
Nov 28, 2011, 7:03pm Top

Congrats on getting to your last book, and with so much time to spare!

117lkernagh
Edited: Nov 28, 2011, 9:58pm Top

>112 AHS-Wolfy:-116, Thanks Dave, Judy, Victoria, Anders and Alana, it feels good to have the end in sight.

Just realized I never mentioned what I am reading for my last book. Sorry about that. My original plan was to close the challenge off by reading the next in series in another one of my favorite go-to comfort mystery read, in this case Charles Finch's A Burial at Sea, the newly released book five in the Charles Lennox Victorian amateur detective series. Unfortunately, I am position 3 of 3 books on the holds list at my local library which means I won't see this one until probably the second week in December, unless someone doesn't pick up their hold sitting on the hold shelf. I figure I will be able to enjoy this one mid-December, just in time for fun Christmas reading!

As anyone with groaning shelves of unread books knows, there is always a Plan "B". Plan "B" to close out the challenge is Seer of Egypt, book two in the King's Man trilogy by Pauline Gedge. At 575 pages, I won't finish this one before we switch into December.... although I might pull it off if I follow the 2011 calendar I have posted on my wall which I just noticed states November has 31 days in it.......Oh well, I only paid a buck for the calendar but still, talk about a funny error!

118-Eva-
Edited: Nov 29, 2011, 1:35pm Top

->111 lkernagh:

When I read it I was wondering if he kept the dialogues a little more feel-good to make it a "Christmassy" story. I agree, it was a little less sharp than the others, but absolutely lovely as the others have been.

If you could put that extra day on the weekend, I'm in!!

119cbl_tn
Nov 29, 2011, 1:15pm Top

"November 31st" sounds like it would make a good title for a book. It would have to be science fiction, of course!

120ivyd
Nov 29, 2011, 1:25pm Top

How funny! I could really use that extra day this month!

121lkernagh
Nov 29, 2011, 10:12pm Top

Well, I have decided there is just no way I will finish my last book before the month is out so might as well post the re-cap now.

November Re-Cap

# books finished this month: 5 - Wow, that is like the lowest number of books I have completed in one month. I was busier with non-reading activities than I originally thought!
# books read so far this challenge: 98
Minimum # books to read to complete challenge: 99
# books left to read for this challenge: 1 - Seer of Egypt by Pauline Gedge
Favorite book for the month: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - 4.5 Stars
Least favorite book for the month: Boneshaker by Cherie Priest - 3.5 Stars

'New to me' Canadian Authors (9/9 read) - CATEGORY COMPLETED
I Don't Remember THAT From History Class (9/9 read) - CATEGORY COMPLETED
Follow Thy Author (9/9 read) - CATEGORY COMPLETED
What a Debut! (9/9 read) - CATEGORY COMPLETED
The Envelope Please (9/9 read) - CATEGORY COMPLETED
Lost in Translation (9/9 read) - CATEGORY COMPLETED
What Stephen Harper is Reading (9/9 read) - CATEGORY COMPLETED
~ ~ To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf - 4 Stars

Steampunk (9/9 read) - CATEGORY COMPLETED
~ ~ Boneshaker by Cherie Priest - 3.5 Stars

Next in Series (8/9 read) - 1 to go!
~ ~ I am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley - 3.5 Stars (3.7 decimal rating)

Off the Shelf (9/9 read) - CATEGORY COMPLETED
(Moved Secrets of an Old Typewriter to this category during November)
~ ~ The Time Traveler's Wife by Audry Niffenegger - 4 Stars

Grandma's Amazing Button Jar (9/9 read) - CATEGORY COMPLETED
~ ~ The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - 4.5 Stars

122tymfos
Edited: Nov 30, 2011, 7:36pm Top

November 31? Is that a new kind of leap year? ;) Good grief!

123Smiler69
Nov 30, 2011, 7:41pm Top

Hi Lori, mostly lurking this evening, but just wanted you to know I'm reading. And congrats on just one book to go!

124lkernagh
Nov 30, 2011, 9:53pm Top

>118 -Eva-: - Hi Eva, I think you are right, Bradley probably toned down the personality clashes in line with a more peace on earth and good will towards men/ladies approach to the story. I am curious to see what he has in store for us next as his website ( http://www.flaviadeluce.com/ ) lists the titles of the next two books in the series, but no details.

Eva, cbl_n, Ivy and Terri - 1), I agree, November 31st would make a great title for a novel; and 2) I am with everyone else that feels we need an extra day this time of year!

>123 Smiler69: - Hi Ilana - Nice to see you delurk. I know you have been super busy for the past while (from lurking on your 75 group thread) so I appreciate the stop by!

125vancouverdeb
Dec 4, 2011, 3:43am Top

Wow, Lori!! 98 books and counting! Good for you! I finished off I am Half- Sick of Shadows and really enjoyed it! Now I'm onto Out Stealing Horses which I'm enjoying. Just thought I'd stop by and say hi!

126-Eva-
Dec 4, 2011, 2:48pm Top

I saw that someone had added two more titles in the Flavia-series here on LT and got very excited, until I realized they couldn't possibly be published yet... :)

127mathgirl40
Dec 4, 2011, 6:55pm Top

I've enjoyed your latest reviews, especially the one for Night Circus. That's definitely going on my wishlist!

128casvelyn
Dec 4, 2011, 7:38pm Top

>126 -Eva-: That was probably me, since there's only three of us on LT with the fifth and sixth Flavia de Luce books in our catalogs. Sorry for getting your hopes up.

129-Eva-
Dec 4, 2011, 8:09pm Top

->128 casvelyn:

LOL!! Not at all - after getting over the disappointment I was quite elated that we'll be getting (at least) two more!!

130KiwiNyx
Dec 5, 2011, 3:21pm Top

Hi Lori, just saying Hi and congrats on only having one book to go for your challenge.

131lkernagh
Edited: Dec 5, 2011, 4:54pm Top

>125 vancouverdeb: - Hi Deb, Happy to learn you have enjoyed your Flavia-thon! It can be such a treat to join a series late and being able to read the stories back to back, something I have been meaning to do with a number a series.... just need to find/make the time and convince all the other books that they just have to wait their turn!

>126 -Eva-:, 128 and 129 - LOL! Well, at least we know the publishers committed to a six book deal!

>127 mathgirl40: - Hi Paulina, I hope you enjoy The Night Circus when you get to reading it!

>130 KiwiNyx: - Hi KiwiNyx, Thanks for stopping by!

****************

Trust me to pick a rather large book as my last read for this challenge.....with all the work and busy activities in the lead up to the holidays, my reading has been taking a backseat (and I thought I didn't accomplish much reading in November!). I am still managing to get some reading in and at 418 pages so far I hope to finish my last book for the challenge sometime later this week.

Don't think I will get in much 'free' reading time before January 1st but the good thing is this is helping me decide how many books I want to commit to for the 12 in 12 challenge. I am really leaning towards only 6 books in each category for a total of 72 books as I am committing to reading some tomes like 2666, Great Expectations, and will probably join the group read of Middlemarch as well as any other massive doorstops that I come across.

132lkernagh
Dec 6, 2011, 9:14pm Top

And now..... the unveiling of the review for book 99 and the last book to complete my challenge of 9 books in 11 categories:

Book #99 - Seer of Egypt by Pauline Gedge
Category: Next in Series



Picking up where book one, The Twice Born left off, this second book in Gedge's thrilogy continues to follow Huy, Great Seer of Egypt as per the Pharaoh Amunhotep the Second. Egyption life continues to be depicted in vivid detail and I loved the fact that Gedge was able, within the first 15 pages of this one, to draw me back into the characters and where book one left off.

On the downside, I felt this one lacked some of the excitement of the first book. As much as I appreciated Gedge's ability to bring me quickly up to speed with the story, I found she repeated herself from time to time in what I can only consider to be a forgettful refreshing of the reader's memory. That repeatition became a little annoying but not enough to oveshadow my enjoyment of the story. While there is a plot to this one, it is more of a slow build to carry the reader in preparation for book three, which I can only hope will have more excitement in store.

Overall, a well researched but rather slow paced story for book two in the triology. I will probaby get around to reading book three The King's Man at some point, to see how everythig plays out, but not this month.

Rating: 3 Stars

CHALLENGE COMPLETED!!!!

133cbl_tn
Dec 6, 2011, 9:17pm Top

Congratulations on finishing your challenge!

134lkernagh
Dec 6, 2011, 9:21pm Top

Now that I can put my 11 in 11 behind me - I will post some closing stats in the coming days - I am looking forward to 'fun reading' time. Currently on deck are the following two books:

Queen of Babble in the Big /City by Meg Cabot - which I am hoping will be frivolous fun and as a bonus, qualifies as the "Q" book so that I can finally finish my Alphabet Challenge that I started a few years ago..... *** hangs head in embarrassment ***

Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig - more fun reading!

135lkernagh
Dec 6, 2011, 9:22pm Top

Thanks cbl_tn! it feels good to be done!

136christina_reads
Dec 6, 2011, 9:37pm Top

Congratulations Lori!

137-Eva-
Dec 6, 2011, 10:15pm Top

Congratulations on finishing!!!!!!

"'fun reading' time"
I do hope that applies to all of it! :)

138DeltaQueen50
Dec 6, 2011, 10:56pm Top

Congratulations Lori. Enjoy your fun reading, I'm enjoying the same and will be ready to launch my 12 in 12 come January!

139SouthernKiwi
Dec 7, 2011, 12:00am Top

Congratulations on finishing your challenge, Lori! I hope you enjoy your fun reading.

140AHS-Wolfy
Dec 7, 2011, 6:34am Top

Congratulations Lori! Will look forward to your round-up.

141mathgirl40
Dec 7, 2011, 8:41am Top

Congratulations, Lori! Have fun with the rest of your December reading!

142katiekrug
Dec 7, 2011, 2:25pm Top

Congratulations!

143VictoriaPL
Dec 7, 2011, 2:42pm Top

Well done! Congratulations!

144ivyd
Dec 7, 2011, 4:21pm Top

Congratulations, Lori!

145lkernagh
Dec 7, 2011, 11:41pm Top

Thanks everyone! This was a great challenge and I enjoyed it a lot.... time will tell if I have pushed the barrier a little to far with my 12 in 12 but, hey, that's okay too!

The data geek in me has been number crunching my 11 in 11 challenge stats to create my overall challenge wrap-up and to create mini-category wrap-ups. Tonight I am unveiling the overall challenge stats. Category stats/summaries are still a work in progress! ;-)

146lkernagh
Dec 7, 2011, 11:47pm Top

The Challenge Wrap-up Stats:

# Books read: 99
# Calendar days to read all 99 books: 340 days
Total number of pages read: 31,048
Average number of pages read per day: 91.32

Busiest reading month - by # of books: January with 12 books read
Busiest reading month - by # pages read: July with 3,832 pages read

Top five largest books - by page count:
Perdido Street Station - 640 pages
The Twice Born - 624 pages
Belle - 588 pages
Seer of Egypt - 575 pages
Small Island and Goliath - both at 560 pages

Top five 'quick reads'- by page count:
Building the Pauson House - 96 pages and mainly visuals
Little Prince - 96 pages
By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept - 112 pages
Candide - 120 pages
Chronicle of a Death Foretold - 128 pages

Category rankings - by total pages read:
1. Steampunk - 3,857 pages
2. Next in Series - 3,839 pages
3. Don't Remeber THAT From History Class - 3,572 pages
4. The Envelope Please.... - 3,536 pages
5. Grandma's Amazing Button Jar - 3,096 pages
6. What a Debut! - 2,709 pages
7. Follow Thy Author - 2,667 pages
8. Off the Shelf - 2,448 pages
9. "New to me" Canadian Authors - 2,352 pages
10. Lost in Translation - 1,600 pages
11. What is Stephen Harper Reading - 1,372 pages

Category rankings - by average star rating:
1. "New to me" Canadian Authors - 4.3 Stars
2. Don't Remember THAT From History Class - 4.1 Stars
2. What is Stephen Harper Reading - 4.1 Stars
3. Steampunk - 4.0 Stars
4. The Envelope Please... - 3.9 Stars
5. Lost in Translation - 3.7 Stars
5. Next in Series - 3.7 Stars
5. Off the Shelf - 3.7 Stars
6. Follow Thy Author - 3.6 Stars
6. What a Debut! - 3.6 Stars

I wasn't expecting to find the same overall average rating for three categories. Interesting.

Overall Top Five Reads:
I actually had 11 books ranked as 5 Stars. For me, the following five books are the most memorable reads from those 11 (and the ones that I would read again):
Perdido Street Station
Snowmen
To Kill a Mockingbird
Empire Falls
Behemoth - Upon reflection, book two in Westerfeld's trilogy is my favorite one.

The Stinkers for me anyways
Havemercy - 1.5 Stars - thought maybe I was being rather brutal with this rating... thought about it and decided Nope, the raspberry stays with Havemercy!
Digging to America - 2.0 Stars - some people like Anne Tyler's works, I have decided I am not one of those people.
The Buntline Special - 2.5 Stars
Liquidation - 2.5 Stars - try as I might, I just could not get into this one.
Secrets of an Old Typewriter - 2.5 Stars (just not for me as the audience)

Now for the strictly subjective part of the overall stats:
Favorite Covers:



Least Favorite Covers:

147SouthernKiwi
Dec 8, 2011, 12:03am Top

Wow, I love your wrap up! I might just steal some of those stats for my own wrap up :-)

148lkernagh
Dec 8, 2011, 12:41am Top

Well, considering I borrowed/stole some of these stats ideas from others in the group it shouldn't be a problem.... ;-P

149AHS-Wolfy
Dec 8, 2011, 7:04am Top

Very thorough (and excellent) summary, Lori.

150lkernagh
Edited: Dec 8, 2011, 9:36am Top

"New to me" Canadian Authors - Category Summary

# Books read: 9
# Calendar days spent reading the 9 category books: 27
Total number of pages read: 2,352
Average number of pages read per day: 87

Busiest reading month - by # of books: May with 2 books read
Busiest reading month - by # pages read: May with 496 pages read
Largest book read - by page count: Still Life at 416 pages
'Quick Read' - by page count: The Legacy: An Elder's Vision for Our Sustainable Future at 128 pages

Books read (ranked by star rating):
Into That Darkness: A Novel by Steven Price 5.0 Stars
~ ~ post apocalyptic novel set in my home town. An amazing story for a debut novel, and written by a poet!

Snowmen by Mark Sedore 5.0 Stars
~ ~ examination of sibling rivalry set against the backdrop of the unforgiving Arctic Circle. Short, yet still full of depth.

The Legacy: An Elder's Vision for Our Sustainable Future by David T. Suzuki 5.0 Stars
~ ~ Can we save the planet from ourselves and our thirst for consumption of the planet's natural wealth/balance of nature? Is there still time or has the sand already run out?

House Of All Sorts by Emily Carr 4.5 Stars
~ ~ Entertaining vignettes written by one of Canada's well known artists - who would have thought running a boarding house in turn of the century Victoria BC would produce such jaw-dropping examples of what you don't want as a tenant!

Unless by Carol Shields 4.5 Stars
~ ~ In a word, Beautiful.

Joyner's Dream by Sylvia Tyson 4.0 Stars
~ ~ Historical family saga that spans generations and two continents. A treat to read.

Still Life by Louise Penny 4.0 Stars
~ ~ Dare I call this a police procedural? A good mystery, and first in series, some interesting characters with room for development.

Kalila by Rosemary Nixon 3.5 Stars
~ ~ An emotional read and a rather hard hitting debut novel.

Letters to Omar by Rachel Wyatt 3.0 Stars
~ ~ The Golden Girls meet chick lit. Crazy fun and good for a few giggles.

Favorite Cover:


Least Favorite Cover:

151lkernagh
Edited: Dec 8, 2011, 9:39am Top

I Don't Remember THAT From History Class - Category Summary

# Books read: 9
# Calendar days spent reading the 9 category books: 35
Total number of pages read: 3,572
Average number of pages read per day: 102

Busiest reading month - by # of books: July with 2 books read
Busiest reading month - by # pages read: July with 656 pages read
Largest book read - by page count: The Twice Born at 624 pages
'Quick Read' - by page count: The Maquinna Line: A Family Saga at 288 pages

Books read (ranked by star rating):

Maquinna Line, The: A Family Saga by Norma Macmillan 5.0 Stars
~ ~ Loved this one as a great family saga with roots to my home town.

Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy by
Louis A. Meyer 4.5 Stars
~ ~ Entertaining high seas YA adventure with a feminine lead and book one in a series.

Breakthrough: Elizabeth Hughes, the Discovery of Insulin, and the Making of a Medical Miracle
by Thea Cooper 4.5 Stars
~ ~ Great, highly readable historical examination of the people behind the discovery of insulin and the time period.

What Alice Knew: A Most Curious Tale of Henry James and Jack the Ripper by Paula Marantz Cohen 4.5 Stars
~ ~ Fun historical mystery based on Jack the Ripper with the James family as the minds behind
analyzing the crime.

Bride of New France by Suzanne Desrochers 4.0 Stars
~ ~ 17th Century France and Canada captured well in this story.

The Twice Born by Pauline Gedge 4.0 Stars
~ ~ First book in a trilogy set in ancient Egypt.

Belle by Lesley Pearse 3.5 Stars
~ ~ A story of prostitution and human trafficking set at the start of the 20th century.

Mr. Shakespeare's Bastard by Richard B Wright 3.5 Stars
~ ~ Interesting female focused story set in 17th century England, the time of bards, plays and
puritan values. Like mixing oil with water!

The Daughter's Walk by Jane Kirkpatrick 3.0
~ ~ A novel of suffrage and the fur trade that spans the continental US (from coast to coast) at the turn of the 20th century.

Favorite Cover:


Least Favorite Cover:

152Smiler69
Dec 8, 2011, 1:37pm Top

Fun stats Lori, must feel good to be all done!

153DeltaQueen50
Dec 8, 2011, 2:40pm Top

Wow, you really are thorough with your stats, really interesting, Lori.

154lkernagh
Dec 8, 2011, 11:07pm Top

>149 AHS-Wolfy: - Thanks Dave! I love analyzing and this way I also gain a snapshot of my reading in review that I can easily refer back to. Excel is my friend!

>152 Smiler69: - Thanks Ilana, I does feel good to be done.... I am already itching to package up my 12 in 12 and get that ready to go for Jan 1st... and then there is launching the Orange thread for 2012 reading and..... I think I will be exhausted by the time December is finished!

>153 DeltaQueen50: - Hi Judy, this dive into the stats has been a bit of an eye-opening experience, I can tell you!

++++++++++++

A few more category stats are now ready for posting.....

155lkernagh
Dec 8, 2011, 11:11pm Top

Follow Thy Author - Category Summary

# Books read: 9
# Calendar days spent reading the 9 category books: 31
Total number of pages read: 2,667
Average number of pages read per day: 86

Busiest reading month - by # of books: May with 2 books read
Busiest reading month - by # pages read: June with 496 pages read
Largest book read - by page count: Revolution at 496 pages
'Quick Read' - by page count: Aiding and Abetting at 176 pages

Books read (ranked by star rating):

The Lost Garden by Helen Humphreys 4.5 Stars
~ ~ Another World War II novel by Humphreys, examining what it means to love... which I am starting to see as a trademark of hers for the books I have read so far. A great period piece.

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova 4.5 Stars
~ ~ I love Genova's stories focused on characters with medical conditions, this time following a woman as she struggles to adjust to having a neurological syndrome where her brain ignores the information on the left side of her body and her visual world.

You Went Away by Timothy Findley 4.0 Stars
~ ~ Another great story by Findley, this time focused on a family struggling to hold together on the Canadian home front during World War II.

Aiding and Abetting by Muriel Sparks 4.0 Stars
~ ~ A witty story of con artists, blackmail and skullduggery! Wickedly fun!

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly 4.0 Stars
~ ~ Interesting story that flips back and forth between present day and 18th century Paris, but IMO not one of Donnelly's best works but still a good read.

The Reinvention of Love by Helen Humphreys 4.0 Stars
~ ~ The world of Parisian literary artists Victor Hugo, Dumas et al and the lives of two star crossed lovers are captured in this easy to read period piece, where love is once again the underlying theme.

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen 3.5 Stars
~ ~ One of my favorite go to authors still delivers but with a darker feel to the story from previous.

Irma Voth by Miriam Toews 3.0 Stars
~ ~ A bit disappointed with this one as pretty much felt like her previous novel A Complicated Kindness but with the additions of a film crew and a desert backdrop.

Looking for Jake: Stories by China Mieville 3.0 Stars
~ ~ As already noted in my thread, I doubt I gave this one the attention it deserves and will plan on re-reading it again sometime soon.

Favorite Cover:


Least Favorite Cover:

156lkernagh
Dec 8, 2011, 11:16pm Top

Grandma's Amazing Button Jar - Category Summary

# Books read: 9
# Calendar days spent reading the 9 category books: 42
Total number of pages read: 3,096
Average number of pages read per day: 74

Busiest reading month - by # of books: May and November with 2 books each
Busiest reading month - by # pages read: October with 800 pages read
Largest book read - by page count: The Help at 544 pages
'Quick Read' - by page count: Brunelleschi's Dome at 184 pages

Books read (ranked by star rating):

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern 4.5 Stars
~ ~ Loved the visual imagery and imagination of this debut novel!

Brunelleschi's Dome by Ross King 4.0 Stars
~ ~ Interesting informative examination of the time period and the architectural feat of creating and erecting the dome, still considered an achievement by today's standards.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs 4.0 Stars
~ ~ Good debut novel with gothic creepiness, Victorian Weirdness an YA adventure all thrown in.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett 4.0 Stars
~ ~ A good debut story that evoked strong emotions/opinions in me about the issues and the characters.

The Birth House by Ami McKay 4.0 Stars
~ ~ A novel focused on the females of Scots Bay during the turbulent World War I years and the clash of traditional with modern medicine. A great debut novel.

The Lacemakers of Glenmara by Heather Barbieri 3.5 Stars
~ ~ A charming debut story to curl up in a chair with on a rainy afternoon.

Box Bottle Bag by Andrew Gibbs 3.5 Stars
~ ~ Great eye candy for marketing geeks, or anyone else like me that enjoys looking at aesthetically pleasing and creative product packaging.

Pao by Kerry Young 3.0 Stars
~ ~ An examination of Jamaican history seen through the eyes of a Chinese immigrant. Good but not great debut novel.

Havedmercy by Jaida Jones 1.5
~ ~ I just can't. Sorry.

Observation: It wasn't until I started preparing this category summary that I realized 8 of the 9 books in this category are debut novels, which means I read enough debut novels to fill two categories this challenge - a category I did not carry over into my 12 in 12. Oh boy......potential problem....

Favorite Cover:


Least Favorite Cover:

157lkernagh
Dec 8, 2011, 11:18pm Top

Lost in Translation - Category Summary

# Books read: 9
# Calendar days spent reading the 9 category books: 25
Total number of pages read: 1,600
Average number of pages read per day: 64

Busiest reading month - by # of books: March with 2 books read
Busiest reading month - by # pages read: March with 368 pages read
Largest book read - by page count: Exit at 224 pages
'Quick Read' - by page count: The Moon Opera at 128 pages

Books read (ranked by star rating):

Frida's Bed by Slavenka Drakulic 5 Stars
~ ~ Brilliant fictional examination of the artist Frida Kahlo and her battle with her inner demons.

Exit by Nelly Arcan 4.5 Stars
~ ~ Witticism, clarity of vision, examination of life and custom suicides all captured in a neat 224 page package. Excellent read!

Comedy in a Minor Key by Hans Keilson 4.0 Stars
~ ~ I think it is important to keep in mind that this book was originally published in 1947 and mostly impacted by the social norms of the time period when portraying the situation the characters find themselves in. Overall a decent story.

The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martinez 3.5 Stars
~ ~ Good murder mystery set in Oxford with a mathematical theme. I look forward to reading more or Marinez's works.... if I can get my hands on them.

Limassol by Yishai Sarid 3.5 Stars
~ ~ A different type of espionage story and a bit of sleeper but still an interesting read.

A Dead Man's Memoir by Mikhail Bulgakov 3.5 Stars
~ ~ While an entertaining dark comedy I found it somewhat surreal and difficult to keep track of the various characters. Not in a huge hurry to rush out and attempt The Master and Margarita, not yet anyways.

Margherita Dolce Vita by Stefano Benni 3.5 Stars
~ ~ Ah, now this was a fun read, even if it's satirical approach to politics, consumerism and environmental decimation was more fable than reality.

The Moon Opera by Bi Feiyu 3.0 Stars
~ ~ A novella about opera and diva jealousy set in post revolution China sounds intriguing but was more of a operatic history lesson than anything else, and possibly lacked the energy and skill of a good translator.

Liquidation by Imre Kertesz 2.5 Stars
~ ~ A story wrapped up in circular reasoning of a play portraying the development of a play focused on the elusive hunt for a manuscript. Brilliant? Maybe for some. Mainly confusing and pointless for me.

Favorite Cover:


Least Favorite Cover:

158clfisha
Dec 9, 2011, 3:42am Top

I love the best and least favourite covers, I found that kind of thing fascinating.

159tymfos
Dec 9, 2011, 7:50am Top

Congratulations on finishing! Good work, Lori! And I love all the stats/summaries.

160GingerbreadMan
Dec 9, 2011, 12:54pm Top

Congratulations on finishing! Too bad it ended with a 3 star whimper rather than a bang. GREAT summaries and stats, very interesting reading!

161-Eva-
Edited: Dec 9, 2011, 2:20pm Top

Great wrap-up! I may steal borrow part of the format for my wrap too! I've kept some stats for my reading this year for the first time, so I'm looking forward to next year's wrap-up to compare stats. Oh, I may be a bit dull. :)

"book two in Westerfeld's trilogy is my favorite one"
I'm in absolute agreement!!

PS! I finished Looking for Jake - when you read one story at a time, it's brilliant! :)

162ivyd
Dec 9, 2011, 2:57pm Top

Love your recaps and statistics!

163lkernagh
Dec 11, 2011, 12:45pm Top

>158 clfisha: - 162 Thanks Claire, Terri, Anders, Eva and Ivy I am having fun with the stats.... when I find time to do them!

164lkernagh
Dec 11, 2011, 12:46pm Top

Book #1 - Overflow
Queen of Babble in the Big City by Meg Cabot



Lizzie Nichols, recent college grad, vintage clothing collector/connoisseur and aspiring wedding gown specialist, has arrived in New York City fresh from a summer in France, and is on the hunt for an apartment, a job and a long-term commitment from her French prince, Luke. Yup, you read right.... an actual prince, which Lizzie blames as her own fault for believing in fairy tales. The story is a entertaining bit of fluff read as we follow Lizzie's adventures in employment, friendship and lessons in life.

This is actually book two in the Queen of Babble series. I haven't read book one and really don't think I missed anything by reading the series out of order. As an added bonus, the book is interspersed with pages from Lizzie Nichols's Wedding Gown Guide - informative hints and tips for choosing the correct wedding dress for your body shape along with survival tips to get to and make it through that big day. It even comes with a recipe for postwedding-reception hangovers:

Pour 5 ounces of tomato juice into a tall glass. Add a dash of lemon (or lime) juice, and a splash of Worcestershire sauce. Sprinkle in 2 or 3 drops of Tabasco sauce, then add pepper, salt and celery salt to taste. If you are feeling adventurous, add some ground horseradish. Add ice, then garnish with celery stick and lime wedge. Finish off with 1.5 ounces of vodka.

Don't know if it works but I think the vodka may have something to do with alleviating the hangover.....;-P

A fun, witty story and I can now close my Alphabet Challenge as completed!

Rating: 3.5 Stars

165lkernagh
Dec 11, 2011, 3:27pm Top

And moving along with a few more category summaries:

Next in Series - Category Summary

# Books read: 9
# Calendar days spent reading the 9 category books: 35
Total number of pages read: 3,839
Average number of pages read per day: 110

Busiest reading month - by # of books: April with 2 books read
Busiest reading month - by # pages read: April with 896 pages read
Largest book read - by page count: The Seer of Egypt at 575 pages
'Quick Read' - by page count: I Am Half-Sick of Shadows at 288 pages

Books read (ranked by star rating):

Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld 5.0 Stars
~ ~ Loved it!!!! Seriously, do I have to say anything more????? ;-)

A Murderous Procession by Ariana Franklin 4.0 Stars
~ ~ Book four in this midieval murder mystery series was good, but not as good as the previous books in the series.

A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley 4.0 Stars
~ ~ Book three in the series continued to delight me as a fun murder mystery read.

Curse of the Blue Tattoo by L.A. Meyer 4.0 Stars
~ ~ Book two in this 19th century high seas YA adventure series continued where book one left off as a page turning romp in history.

Dead Cold by Louise Penny 3.5 Stars
~ ~ Book two in the series wasn't as good as book one but still enjoyable.

I am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley 3.5 Stars
~ ~ Book four lacked some of the usual interactions of the lead character with her siblings and the Hinton constabulary but still a fun Christmas themed read.

The Bohemian Girl by Kenneth Cameron 3.0 Stars
~ ~ Book two in the series was a let down after such a great book one. Sad really, I had such high hopes for this series. Love the cover though!

Under the Jolly Roger by L.Q. Meyer 3.0 Stars
~ ~ Book three of this series and the lead character is starting to wear on me a bit. May continue the series after a long enough break from it.

The Seer of Egypt by Pauline Gedge 3.0 Stars
~ ~ Book two in the trilogy still has the great descrptive writing to place the reading in the setting of the story but seemed more of a sleeper, an interlude in the lead up to book three, compared to book one in the trilogy.

Favorite Cover:


Least Favorite Cover:

166lkernagh
Dec 11, 2011, 3:30pm Top

Steampunk - Category Summary

# Books read: 9
# Calendar days spent reading the 9 category books: 41
Total number of pages read: 3,857
Average number of pages read per day: 94

Busiest reading month - by # of books: July with 2 books read
Busiest reading month - by # pages read: July with 1,088 pages read
Largest book read - by page count: Perdido Street Station at 640 pages
'Quick Read' - by page count: The Buntline Special at 321 pages

It would appear that for Steampunk, there were no 'small' books!

Books read (ranked by star rating):

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld 5.0 Stars
~ ~ Loved book one in the trilogy, the characters, the alternate WW II setting, the inventions and the graphics!

Goliath by Scott Westerfeld 5.0 Stars
~ ~ Continued my lovefest with book three and look forward to reading more of Westerfeld's works.

Perdido Street Station by China Mieville 5.0 Stars
~ ~ My first Mieville and loved everything on offer in this one! I mean everything!

The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook 4.0 Stars
~ ~ A great steampunk adventure with a love/romance angle. First in a series I plan to continue with for pure escapism purposes.

The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia 4.0 Stars
~ ~ Loved the idea of the automaton being the primary character in this other world steampunk story.

Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding 3.5 Stars
~ ~ Yes, it has its faults if you don't like swaggering testosterone filled pirates or some cheesy dialogue but hey, it was a fun read and another series I will continue reading!

The Affinity Bridge by George Mann 3.5 Stars
~ ~ Steampunk meets Victorian detectives with an even balance of interesting male and female characters. Again, the first book in the Newbury & Hobbes series that I hope to continue following.

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest 3.5 Stars
~ ~ Decent steampunk adventure for book one in a series but the zombies and the gratuitous violence brought the rating down for this one.

The Buntline Special by Mike Resnick 2.5 Stars
~ ~ This one confirmed for me that Western steampunk is probably not something I will enjoy reading... at least not written along the same caliber of cheesy and repetitious dialogue as in this book.

Favorite Cover:


Least Favorite Cover:

167lkernagh
Edited: Dec 11, 2011, 5:31pm Top

Off the Shelf - Category Summary

# Books read: 9
# Calendar days spent reading the 9 category books: 31
Total number of pages read: 2,448
Average number of pages read per day: 79

Busiest reading month - by # of books: January and March both with 2 books read
Busiest reading month - by # pages read: November with 536 pages read
Largest book read - by page count: The Time Traveler's Wife at 536 pages
'Quick Read' - by page count: Building the Pauson House at 96 pages

Books read (ranked by star rating):

A Sin of Colour by Sunetra Gupta 4.5 Stars
~ ~ A gem of a book covering the lives of three generations of the Roy family in Oxford England and Calcutta India.

Building the Pauson House by Allan Wright Green 4.5 Stars
~ ~ A great book and a must read for anyone fascinated with the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. Very insightful.

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman 4.0 Stars
~ ~ A heartfelt, endearing story about 12 year old CeeCee, social graces, lingering racism and inferiority complexes.

In the Company of Angels by Thomas Kennedy 4.0 Stars
~ ~ Great story with fascinating characters, beautiful writing and one that brought out some vivid emotional reactions in me.

Hotel Angeline by Jennie Shortridge 4.0 Stars
~ ~ An experimental novel - written by 36 authors - that worked well and created a novel with unique characters and unusual plot developments.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger 4.0 Stars
~ ~ A great story and so glad I finally got around to reading this one!

French Milk by Lucy Kinsley 3.0 Stars
~ ~ A fun graphic travelogue of the author's trip to Paris with her mom.

Concerto by Sandra Miller 3.0 Stars
~ ~ A suspense thriller with a music theme that started out great but lost the strength of a good plot as the story progressed.

Secrets of an Old Typewriter by Susie Duncan Sexton 2.5 Stars
~ ~ Interesting premise but sadly not geared towards me as the target audience.

Favorite Cover:


Least Favorite Cover:


168lkernagh
Dec 11, 2011, 6:08pm Top

The Envelope Please... - Category Summary

# Books read: 9
# Calendar days spent reading the 9 category books: 53
Total number of pages read: 3,536
Average number of pages read per day: 67

Busiest reading month - by # of books: July with 3 books read
Busiest reading month - by # pages read: July with 1,248 pages read
Largest book read - by page count: Small Island at 560 pages
'Quick Read' - by page count: Digging to America at 304 pages

Books read (ranked by star rating):

Empire Falls by Richard Russo 5.0 Stars
~ ~ As mentioned in my review. Brilliant!

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson 4.5 Stars
~ ~ I am still surprised how much I loved this one. Beautifully written and insightful.

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters 4.5 Stars
~ ~ MY first Waters book and loved this post WW II Gothic sleeper.

The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields 4.0 Stars
~ ~ Another example of Shields' abilities to capture life, even mundane ordinary life and wrap it in spellbinding fiction.

Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O'Neill 4.0 Stars
~ ~ An insightful, fascinating story of young Baby that really speaks to the plight of children in need in modern society.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett 4.0 Stars
~ ~ The non action suspense thriller that still has the reader in its grips while examining the characters, not the action.

Small Island by Andrea Levy 3.5 Stars
~ ~ A solid piece of writing that captures the historical time periods with interesting characters, voices and perspectives. I am glad I read it but wasn't blown away by it.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick Dewitt 3.5 Stars
~ ~ Fun and I can totally see a movie based on this one but I wasn't a fan of the ending and still don't see it as award winning brilliant, but that is just my take on it.

Digging to America by Anne Tyler 2.0 Stars
~ ~ A slog of a book that I just could not get into.

Favorite Cover:


Least Favorite Cover:

169lkernagh
Dec 11, 2011, 7:50pm Top

What a Debut! - Category Summary

# Books read: 9
# Calendar days spent reading the 9 category books: 34
Total number of pages read: 2,709
Average number of pages read per day: 80

Busiest reading month - by # of books: January with 3 books read
Busiest reading month - by # pages read: January with 944 pages read
Largest book read - by page count: The Sherlockian at 368 pages
'Quick Read' - by page count: The Patterns of Paper Monsters at 304 pages

Books read (ranked by star rating):

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield 4.5 Stars
~ ~ I really enjoyed this Gothic tale and do wish Setterfield will be publishing another book sometime soon.

Words by Ginny Yttrup 4.0 Stars
~ ~ A surprisingly good story that, for Christian literature, really didn't preach to me as a reader, instead focused on delivery of the story. I like that.

The Ministry of Special Cases by Nathan Englander 4.0 Stars
~ ~ A really good story about a dark part of Argentina's past. Sharp, witty and incisive.

The Sherlockian by Graham Moore 3.5 Stars
~ ~ An interesting, refreshing spin on Sherlockian-based stories.

The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean 3.5 Stars
~ ~ An overall decent story that captures a first person perspective of Alzheimer's and a fascinating fictional account of the siege of Leningrad. I just got a little tired of the descriptions of what appeared to be thousands of paintings of madonnas.

Mr. Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt 3.5 Stars
~ ~ The premise for this one really intrigued me. Mr. Chartwell is not your typical character but his presence in this story makes sense and provides a unique way of presenting depression.

The Patterns of Paper Monsters by Emma Rathbone 3.0 Stars
~ ~ The word of juvenile detention seen through the eyes of teenager Jacob was an experience and a decent debut novel.

The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard 3.0 Stars
~ ~ A debut novel that had the potential to be great but was frustrating with its inconsistent delivery of the plot.

When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman 3.0 Stars
~ ~ As much as I wanted to enjoy this one my overall impression was just 'meh'.

Hummm.... As much as I love debut novels and seeing what they have to offer, I found it a bit surprising that I had to remind myself what four of the books in this category were even about. That doesn't say much for their staying power in my mind.

Favorite Cover:


Least Favorite Cover:

170lkernagh
Edited: Dec 11, 2011, 8:43pm Top

And, now.... the last category summary:

What is Stephen Harper Reading - Category Summary

# Books read: 9
# Calendar days spent reading the 9 category books: 27
Total number of pages read: 1,372
Average number of pages read per day: 51

Busiest reading month - by # of books: August with 3 books read
Busiest reading month - by # pages read: September with 452 pages read
Largest book read - by page count: To Kill A Mockingbird at 281 pages
'Quick Read' - by page count: Little Prince at 96 pages

Books read (ranked by star rating):

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee 5.0 Stars
~ ~ A must read and re-read! I thought the story might date itself but I was pleasantly surprised to find Lee's sharp wit and intelligent one lines as true today as when she wrote it. Absolutely brilliant and goes on a routine re-read schedule to remind myself of her skill at story telling and the lessons it contains.

The Death of Ivan Ilyich by L.N. Tolstoy 4.5 Stars
~ ~ Beautiful rich textured prose, easy to read and a delightful examination of the time period through Tolstoy's eye!

By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Elizabeth Smart 4.0 Stars
~ ~ To be read for the beauty of the language and the pain the an all consuming love is. Confusing at first but with time everything did all fall together and make sense. I am mesmorized by the cover of the copy I read....

Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia /Marquez 4.0 Stars
~ ~ This was good.... I mean, I found myself very taken with GGM writing style and enjoyed how he pulled the story together. My first GGM read and will not be my last!

Little Prince by Antoine Saint-Exupery 4.0 Stars
~ ~ One of those truely unique stories that both adults and children can enjoy, for the same and for different reasons! I had forgotten this sotry and enjoyed the re-read!

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson 4.0 Stars
~ ~ A story I really enjoyed that was easy to follow on the surface and has left me - still - pondering a number of thoughts and nuances.

To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf 4.0 Stars
~ ~ Another 'streams of consciousness' novel with great descriptive prose and an artistic eye for light, colour and presentation. Well worth reading.

Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan 3.5 Stars
~ ~ A book about the time and spirit of an era - in this case post WW II France - with a wisdom that is stunning as it was written by a then 18 year old. Still haven't tracked down the movie that is based on the book.... kinda forgot until now.

Candide by Voltaire 3.5 Stars
~ ~ Even with its philosophical themes, this is still a fable. A fable that contains a surprising amount of tongue in cheek satire. I had no idea Voltaire was such a witty, bit. My read of Candide did me in good stead as a month later I was reviewing a philosophy publication that made much mention of Voltaire's Candide!

As a switch from what I mentioned in my What a Debut summary, I can vividly remember every single one of these books.... the writing is that rich in texture. I do have to applaud Martel for creating his "What is Stephen Harper Reading website and this list of books, which I will continue to mine for books that will fit my 12 in 12 Challenge categories!

Favorite Covers:


Least Favorite Cover:

171-Eva-
Dec 11, 2011, 8:45pm Top

You've had quite a lot of great reads this year - here's hoping for more next year! :)

172AHS-Wolfy
Dec 12, 2011, 6:38am Top

Lori, it's been great to read your category summaries and go through and see what I've missed the first time round. Thank you!

173paruline
Dec 13, 2011, 3:40pm Top

I'm catching up on threads and just want to say that I enjoyed your summaries. And add my belated congratulations on finishing your challenge!

174lkernagh
Edited: Dec 15, 2011, 12:55am Top

>171 -Eva-:-173: Thanks Eva, Dave and paruline. The summaries were a lot of fun to do. For the 12 in 12 I think I will try and do category summaries as soon as I finish the category, but I will probably forget and leave it 'til year end again!

My current read as a 'free read' is A Burial at Sea. I won't be finished this one before the weekend as I am finding it - book five in the Charles Lennox series - is taking me a little longer to warm up to. That, and I keep getting distracted by movies right now.

Tonight watched The Lovely Bones. Good movie and with an interesting surreal element to it that I really liked (my other half didn't enjoy the surreal element, but I couldn't help but notice halfway through that he had abandoned what he was doing to sit down and watch the movie with me). My 'Duh' moment for this evening was when I explained that the movie was based on a best selling novel by Alice Sebold that I didn't own only to discover - thank you LT! - that I do in fact own a copy.... it was buried behind a stack of books on my bookshelves. I guess for this one I will be reading the book 'after' seeing the movie, and have moved it up as as soon to read.

175katiekrug
Dec 15, 2011, 2:42pm Top

Hi Lori - Just chiming in on the love of your summaries. I am hoping to do some kind of summary of my reading year while I am off from work starting next week.

The Lovely Bones is a favorite of mine. I know a lot of people didn't like it and a lot refuse to read it because of the subject matter, but I loved it. I wasn't crazy about the movie but probably only because I love the book so much. I am planning a category of re-reads for the 12 in 12 and may include it.

176KiwiNyx
Dec 15, 2011, 3:36pm Top

Hi Lori, fantastic wrap ups for the challenge, really interesting. It's hard to believe there are only a couple of weeks of 2012 left!

177mathgirl40
Dec 15, 2011, 6:41pm Top

I love your wrap-up posts and I especially like your including your favourite and least favourite covers!

178lkernagh
Dec 18, 2011, 7:21pm Top

>175 katiekrug: - Hi Katie, Thanks! I do hope to find time to read The Lovely Bones now that I have seen the movie.

>176 KiwiNyx: - Thanks! It is frightening how quickly this year has flown by!

>177 mathgirl40: - Thanks Paulina! I am such a sucker for cover art that I just had to include those in the summaries!

179lkernagh
Dec 18, 2011, 7:22pm Top

Book #2 - Overflow
A Burial at Sea by Charles Finch



The year is 1873, and it's a perilous time in the relationship between France and England. A string of English spies has been found dead on French soil, and there's the threat of all-out war. Government officials have concerns surrounding the newly dug Suez Canal, and they ask junior member of Parliament Charles Lenox to visit on a secret mission to gather classified information. When murder occurs, Lenox is asked to revisit his skills as an amateur detective to hunt for the criminal.

Book five in Finch's Charles Lenox series took longer for me to settle into then the previous books did. The high seas naval setting was at odds with the series usual landlocked settings of London, Oxford and the English countryside. Also missing are the cast of supporting characters - except for cameo appearances by Lady Jane and Edmund - that have made this series such an enjoyable one for me. Finch has done his naval research and has crafted a good murder mystery set on the high seas, but I found the spy/espionage element attached to the story stretched things a bit too far out in left field for my taste.

Hopefully, the next book in the series - as I assume there is another one in the works as fantasticfiction mentions An East End Murder on their website - will return to the familiar territory of setting and support characters found in the previous books in the series.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

180thornton37814
Dec 18, 2011, 8:41pm Top

I think your slightly higher rating for the book shows that I may have been correct that I didn't enjoy it quite as much because I had not read the others in the series. I had the same problem with the spy/espionage element that you did. I'll have to go back and see if I like the earlier books better.

181lkernagh
Dec 19, 2011, 2:22am Top

>180 thornton37814: - Hi Lori, I can see where having A Burial at Sea as the first book in the series read would make it harder to enjoy the story. Personally, I prefer the first two books in the series best when Charles Lenox was an amateur detective and not a Parliamentarian.....

182lkernagh
Dec 19, 2011, 2:25am Top

Book #3 - Overflow
The Staircase Letters by Arthur Motyer with Elma Gerwin and Carol Shields



"It was after the death of Carol Shields, following that of Elma Gerwin, that I re-read their many emails to me over the previous two years, and realized again how truly special that correspondence was.... These were two extraordinary women, one an established literary icon, the other highly literate but known only to her friends, and their story deserves a wide sharing."

What do you do when a friend of 40 years is diagnosed with cancer and asks you to join her and her friend, also a cancer sufferer, to embark on a journey (via correspondence) to travel together, bear each other company and give a straight account as being someone that can accept and understand what is happening to her? How do you come to terms with feelings of inadequacy when words fail you and you know someone is relying on you to be there?

This slim volume is such a journey. It is a compilation of Arthur's thoughts and various email correspondence between himself, Elma and Carol starting in February 2001 and ending after Carol's death July 16th, 2003. Both Elma and Carol had been diagnosed with cancer - Elma in 2001 and Carol in 1998 - and the correspondence covers a vast array of topics from discussions of medical treatments undergone, the nature of happiness (doesn't everyone what to be happy?), what makes a good death and the importance of celebrating life's small ceremonies all the while interspersed with literary references and poetry fragments.

I loved this one for a number of reasons. It provided new insight for me in understanding the works of Carol Shields and opened my eyes to further literary works of interest. The philosophical approach to examining and meeting death is one that I am continuing to ponder, and will probably continue to ponder the messages contained in this book for some time. On a personal level, the correspondence of Elma and Carol reminded me of some of the emails I had received from my own aunt during the final two years of her battle with cancer and made me feel more connected with what I was reading.

As the book states: "An Extraordinary Friendship at the End of Life".

Rating: 4.0 Stars

183casvelyn
Dec 19, 2011, 9:55am Top

>181 lkernagh: I prefer the first two books for the same reason.

184GingerbreadMan
Dec 19, 2011, 12:55pm Top

>177 mathgirl40: which reminds me: how do you include pictures in posts like that? Someone told me once, but I've forgotten...

185AHS-Wolfy
Edited: Dec 19, 2011, 5:18pm Top

GingerbreadMan, I've starred this thread in one of my other groups just because it has so much useful info on how to do various things. I'm sure it will be in WikiThing somewhere as well but that thread has helped me out quite a few times now.

186GingerbreadMan
Dec 19, 2011, 4:35pm Top

Thanks Wolfy! But there seems to be something wrong with that link...

187AHS-Wolfy
Dec 19, 2011, 5:18pm Top

There, should work now.

188lkernagh
Dec 22, 2011, 10:53pm Top

Well.... I think I am now ready for Christmas... tree up (check), presents wrapped and under said tree (check), cards sent (check), food 'stuffs' purchased and ready for consumption (check, check), no further reason to venture near any mall, shopping plaza or any other establishment that attracts last minute shoppers (check, check and triple check!).

Yup, I think I am now ready for Christmas to commence! ;-P

I seriously doubt I will have my current read finished with review ready for posting until on or after Boxing Day so I want to wish everyone a Happy Holiday!

189katiekrug
Dec 23, 2011, 8:29pm Top

Merry Christmas, Lori!

190mathgirl40
Dec 24, 2011, 7:10am Top

Happy holidays to you too! I enjoyed your review of The Staircase Letters. Looks intriguing.

191AHS-Wolfy
Dec 24, 2011, 8:48am Top

Lori, I hope you have a safe and happy holidays!

192ivyd
Dec 24, 2011, 12:28pm Top

Merry Christmas, Lori!

193Smiler69
Dec 24, 2011, 4:26pm Top

Must come back and catch up with all I've missed. In the meantime...






Wishing you all the very best Lori!

194GingerbreadMan
Dec 24, 2011, 5:25pm Top

God jul (Merry Christmas) to you, lori!

195LauraBrook
Dec 24, 2011, 10:26pm Top

Merry Christmas, Lori!

196lkernagh
Dec 26, 2011, 12:10pm Top

I hope everyone has been enjoying the holiday season! 'Santa' was good to me and gave me the two books I specifically requested: The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers by Thomas Mullen and 2666 by Roberto Bolaño so I am now ready for the group read over on the 12 in 12!

I have finished another book - a Roberto Bolaño no less! - and will probably squeeze in one more book this year.... then I will officially start my 12 in 12 reading. I have posted up my Official 12 in 12 thread which can be found here and I invite everyone to visit me there in 2012 as my home base while I flit around various groups and challenges!

Now for the next review....

197lkernagh
Edited: Dec 26, 2011, 7:09pm Top

Book #4 - Overflow
The Third Reich by Roberto Bolaño



From the book front inside cover flap: On vacation with his girlfriend, Ingeborg, the German war games champion Udo Berger returns to a small town on the Costa Brava where he spent the summers of his childhood. Soon they meet another vacationing German couple, Charly and Hanna, who introduces them to a band of locals - the Wolf, the Lamb, and El Quemado - and to the darker side of life in a resort town. Late one night, Charly disappears without a trace, and Udo's well-ordered life is thrown into upheaval; while Ingeborg and Hanna return to their lives in Germany, he refuses to leave the hotel. Soon he and El Quemado are enmeshed in a round of Third Reich, Udo,s favorite World War II strategy game, and Udo discovers that the game's consequences may be all too real.

When this one showed up in my local library's New Titles listing, I was intrigued to get a glimpse into Bolaño's writing style, keeping on mind that The Third Reich was written in 1989 and published posthumously in Spanish in 2010 and more recently translated and published in English in 2011.

I have to say, this story was not what I was expecting. Told in journal format from the point of view of Udo Berger, the Spanish vacation comes across as only a secondary, minor interest when compared to Udo's passion for war games - board strategy games that is, not physical role-playing - and his fixation on insecurities and melodrama. As Germany's war games champion, his focus is on Third Reich, the board game he has brought with him on vacation and sets up in his hotel room so that he can plan strategies for the paper he is writing for a fanzine. The story is more of a darker examination of a somewhat self-absorbed gaming enthusiast personality with this trip to Spain and the events that occur being the catalyst for decisions Udo makes.

While it is not known when in time the story is set, I believe it is a safe guess that it is set in the mid 1980's. The personalities of the various characters Udo encounters are for a large part a confusing mystery for the reader to understand and it is important to remember that the reader is seeing them through Udo's eyes. The writing style is strong, descriptive and it was easy for me to see the story as it was unfolding, except for the details taken to describe the playing of the war game Third Reich which I have to admit may appeal more to World War II strategy enthusiasts than a reader like myself with a grasp of the major events, not in depth details of battalion numbers, airborne divisions and strengths. I really did try to visualize the game and the closest I could come is to describe it as a complex game of RISK, played on a map gridded in hexes.

Crafted to be a thriller of sorts it really only comes away as an interesting story about a gaming enthusiast on vacation who discovers that his living world is a difficult one to comprehend in comparison to his strategy gaming world. For me, the suspense thriller angle just isn't there to carry the story through.

Unveiling my new decimal rating system I have rated the book as follows:

Decimal Rating: 3.35
2.5 - Plot Development
3.8 - Character Development
4.3 - Writing Style
2.3 - Premise
4.2 - Imagery/Visualization
3.0 - Length

Star Rating: 3.5 Stars

198lkernagh
Edited: Dec 31, 2011, 4:59pm Top

I have finished the last book that I will be reading for 2011 so here is the last book review as part of my 'free' reading that I will be posting here.

Book #5 - Overflow
Sushi for Beginners by Marian Keyes



It has been a few years since I had last visited the written worlds of Marian Keyes and found this one to be just want I wanted to unwind the frantic holiday season with.

Ruthless fashion magazine editor Lisa Edwards thinks she is on the fast track for greatness only to discover that the media empire she works for in London is not promoting her to her position of choice in New York with one of their flagship magazines but deporting her to the fashion backwater of Dublin, Ireland to pull together and launch a brand new magazine called Colleen. Ashling Kennedy is an award-winning worrier in desperate need of a second chance in the magazine industry and a fundamental change to her life. Ashling's best friend Clodagh has the dream house, husband, domestic bliss and is anything but happy.

In true Marian Keyes form, the three main characters are supported by a cast of interesting personalities - Trix, Boo and good old Jack to name my favorites - as they search for love, success and happiness. The characters are not flat cardboard characters but they are not full on dynamic 3-D personalities either, which works great for this type of light reading. We learn about 'tough as steel' Lisa's insecurities, Ashling's strengths and as for 'Princess' Clodagh - well - I think we are just meant to hate her. There is a somewhat even balance of male/female perspective - a nice change for what can be classified as chick-lit. At over 400 pages long it is not a quick read but a very entertaining one as we learn Lisa's horrors of how different things are in Dublin compared to her longed for London and watch as she settles into a rented home cottage in a family-friendly street.

I had forgotton how enjoyable Keyes' stories can be. A nice way to escape the insanities of your busy life.

Decimal Rating: 3.42
3.5 - Plot Development
3.5 - Character Development
3.5 - Writing Style
4.0 - Premise
3.0 - Imagery/Visualization
3.0 - Length

Star Rating: 3.5 Stars

199lkernagh
Dec 31, 2011, 10:27am Top

I look forward to seeing and following everyone's reading in 2012. You can find me over on the 12 in 12 Challenge here where I will be posting my reading going forward.

200-Eva-
Dec 31, 2011, 3:27pm Top

Well, you really ended the year with two very different reads! :) Looking forward to seeing your reads in 2012 - have a great new years!!

201GingerbreadMan
Jan 1, 2012, 6:08am Top

I'm already there in your new thread! Unstarring this one, and eagerly await where you'll be taking me next :)

202ivyd
Jan 1, 2012, 1:10pm Top

Happy New Year, Lori!

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