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brenpike reads

This topic was continued by brenpike reads--part 2.

75 Books Challenge for 2012

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1brenpike
Edited: May 31, 2012, 10:59pm Top

Back for a second year . . . Bring on the challenges!

January, 2012

1. January's Sparrow Patricia Polacco
2. The Marriage Plot Jeffrey Eugenides
3. The Wednesday Sisters Meg Waite Clayton
4. The Buddha in the Attic Julie Otsuka
5. Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President Candice Millard
6. White Ghost Girls Alice Greenway
7. Century Girl: 100 Years in the Life of Doris Eaton Travis, Last Living Star of the Ziegfeld Follies Lauren Redniss
8. Eugenie Grandet Honere de Balzac
9. Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef Gabrielle Hamilton
10. Sorry Gail Jones
11. The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance Edmund de Waal
12. Letter from the Birmingham Jail Martin Luther King, Jr.
13. In the Heart of the Country J.M. Coetzee
14. Keats's Neighborhood Ezra Jack Keats
15. The White Woman on the Green Bicycle Monique Roffey
16. Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock David Margolick
17. Sister Rosamund Lupton
18. Balzac's Omelette: A Delicious Tour of French Food and Culture with Honore de Balzac Anka Muhlstein
19. Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House Elizabeth Keckley
20. Confessions of an Art Addict Peggy Guggenheim
21. The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Childhood Among Ghosts Maxine Hong Kingston

February, 2012

22. February Lisa Moore
23. The Ghost in the Little House: A Life of Rose Wilder Lane William Holtz
24. The Angel Makers Jessica Gregson
25. Out Stealing Horses Per Petterson
26. A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France Caroline Moorehead
27. The Wandering Falcon Jamil Ahmad
28. The Bells Richard Harvell
29. Drawing from Memory Allen Say
30. Dresden: Tuesday, February 13, 1945 Frederick Taylor
31. The Odds Stewart O'Nan
32. A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers Xiaolu Guo
33. Last Night I Dreamed of Peace Dang Thuy Tram
34. A Long, Long Time Ago & Essentially True Brigid Pasulka
35. Why the Dreyfus Affair Matters Louis Begley
36. Twelve Minutes of Love: A Tango Story Kapka Kassabova
37. Hard Times Charles Dickens

March, 2012

38. The Coldest March: Scott's Fatal Antarctic Expedition Susan Solomon
39. Art Lover: A Biography of Peggy Guggenheim Anton Gill
40. A Ball for Daisy Chris Raschka
41. Goodnight iPad: A Parody for the Next Generation Ann Droyd
42. Aya Marguerite Abouet & Clement Oubrerie
43. Why Read Moby-Dick? Nathaniel Philbrick
44. Gillespie and I Jane Harris
45. Aya of Yop City Marguerite Abouet & Clement Oubrerie
46. Aya: The Secrets Come Out Marguerite Abouet & Clement Oubrerie
47. The Misremembered Man Christina McKenna
48. Salvage the Bones Jesmyn Ward
49. My Name is Mary Sutter Robin Oliveira
50. There But For The Ali Smith
51. The Cruelest Month Louise Penny
52. Snow Angels Stewart O'Nan
53. Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle Fiona Carnarvon
54. The March E.L.Doctorow
55. The Buffalo Soldier Chris Bohjalian
56. Bertrand Russell's Best: Silhouettes in Satire Robert Egner
57. Horton Hatches the Egg Dr. Seuss
58. One Hundred Names for Love: A Stroke, A Marriage, and the Language of Healing Diane Ackerman
59. In the Bleak Midwinter Julia Spencer-Fleming
60. Heart and Soul:The Story of America and African Americans Kadir Nelson
61. Lysistrata Aristophanes.
62. Inside Out & Back Again Thanhha Lai
63. The Worst Journey in the World Apsley Cherry-Garrard

April, 2012

64. The Enchanted April Elizabeth von Arnim
65. Sita's Ramayana Samhita Arni & Moyna Chitrakar
66. Island of Wings Karin Altenberg
67. The Night Circus Erin Morgenstern
68. Between Shades of Gray Ruta Sepetys
69. The Sisters Brothers Patrick DeWitt
70. Letters of a Woman Homesteader Elinore Pruitt
Stewart
71. Last Dinner on the Titanic Rick Archbold, Dana McCauley
72. Voyagers of the Titanic: Passengers, Sailors, Shipbuilders, Aristocrats, and the Worlds They Came From Richard Davenport-Hines
73. Halsman at Work Yvonne Halsman
74. Dali's Mustache Salvador Dali, Philippe Halsman
75. Foreign Bodies Cynthia Ozick

****************************************
76. The Girls of Slender Means Muriel Spark
77. The Forgotten Waltz Anne Enright
78. The Lover's Dictionary David Levithan
79. Woe to Live On Daniel Woodrell
80. The Song of Achilles Madeline Miller
81. April in Paris Michael Wallner
82. Clair de Lune Jetta Carlton
83. A Rule Against Murder Louise Penny
84. Jaguar of Sweet Laughter: New & Selected Poems Diane Ackerman
85. Dead End in Norvelt Jack Gantos

May, 2012

86. At Home: A Short History of Private Life Bill Bryson
87. Down and Out in Paris and London George Orwell
88. Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father John Matteson
89. Painter of Silence Georgina Harding
90. A Monster Calls: Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd Patrick Ness
91. Missed Connections: Love, Lost & Found Sophie Blackall
92. The Jump Artist Austin Ratner
93. Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea Barbara Demick
94. Sala's Gift: My Mother's Holocaust Story Ann Kirschner
95. Remarkable Creatures Tracy Chevalier
96. Fieldwork Mischa Berlinski
97. Heft Liz Moore
98. Missing May Cynthia Rylant
99. The Brutal Telling Louise Penny
100. Through Black Spruce Joseph Boyden

2ronincats
Jan 2, 2012, 12:41am Top

Found you!

3brenpike
Jan 2, 2012, 1:06am Top

Hi Roni. Welcome to my brand new thread! And Happy New Year, by the way . . .

4alcottacre
Jan 2, 2012, 1:33am Top

Glad to see you back with us again for 2012, Brenda! I would have had to hunt you down if you did not show up here, you know :)

5Donna828
Jan 2, 2012, 8:19am Top

Hi Brenda, It won't be long before your clean slate is filled with good books. What's up first?

6brenpike
Jan 2, 2012, 12:24pm Top

Morning Stasia and Donna. I'm having a hard time deciding which of my 13 (!?) plans read for the month to start with . . . The first book of the year has taken on extra significance since it's the first thing I see when I visit the page and because I may want to end the year with the same author. So many things to consider! : )

7alcottacre
Jan 2, 2012, 1:50pm Top

Flip a 13-sided coin? Toss 13 dice? I am sure there must be some way to decide: alphabetical? which book has the prettiest cover?

8brenpike
Jan 2, 2012, 4:47pm Top

Good suggestions all!

9drneutron
Jan 2, 2012, 7:35pm Top

Welcome back!

10Whisper1
Jan 2, 2012, 7:43pm Top

Happy New Year!

11alcottacre
Jan 2, 2012, 9:37pm Top

#8: So did you pick yet?

12brenpike
Jan 3, 2012, 1:17am Top

Stasia, I just gave up and started The Marriage Plot since its dieback at the library first. How's that for simplifying things?!

13alcottacre
Jan 3, 2012, 1:20am Top

At least you made a start!

14katiekrug
Jan 3, 2012, 9:44pm Top

Hi Brenda, I was a major lurker on your thread last year. I'll try to make a comment occasionally this year!

15brenpike
Jan 4, 2012, 10:18pm Top

Hi Katie. I'll look forward to hearing from you...

16tloeffler
Jan 4, 2012, 11:53pm Top

>7 alcottacre: random number generator?

Hi, Brenda! Good to "see" you here again!

17brenpike
Edited: Jan 7, 2012, 6:22pm Top

1. January's Sparrow by Patricia Polacco

Chosen as my first completed read this year because it has January in the title,and well, because I really like anything by Patricia Polacco. This wonderful story, about a real family, centers around Sadie the youngest child of Adam and Sarah Crosswhite, who were slaves in Kentucky. Their good friend, January Drumm, was beaten and assumed dead after making an attempt to flee the Giltner plantation. Within the next few days, the Crosswhite family made the daring decision to cross over into Indiana and make their way to Canada. The family ends up in Marshall, Michigan, a relatively safe community for runaways, and settles in for several years. The appearance of Sadie's carved wooden sparrow, left behind when the family fled, indicates trouble is imminent.
I loved this book. Polacco's storytelling and illustrations are wonderful and at 94 pages, makes a short and pleasant read.
Highly recommended.

5 stars
Jan TIOLI #20
12 in 12 category #12

18tloeffler
Jan 7, 2012, 6:27pm Top

Brenda, that sounds great. Is is a YA book, or just short? And you say it's true? Might be one for my list....

19brenpike
Edited: Jan 7, 2012, 6:43pm Top

2. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

The eagerly awaited newest novel by Eugenides did not disappoint. The story revolves around and is told from the perspective of three young adults as they finish their degrees at Brown University and begin their post-college years. Eugenides tells a good story with well developed characters and interesting topics. Recommended.

4 stars

Jan TIOLI #10
12 in 12 #8

20brenpike
Edited: Jan 7, 2012, 6:47pm Top

Terri, Polacco is an author of children's books. At our library, this was catalogued under picture books for older readers.
Definitely worth looking up . . .

21alcottacre
Jan 7, 2012, 9:00pm Top

I need to get my hands on a copy of January's Sparrow. Thanks for the recommendation of that one, Brenda!

22brenpike
Jan 8, 2012, 10:58pm Top

3. The Wednesday Sisters Meg Waite Clayton

Selected by a member of one of my reading groups, a novel about 5 young women who meet in the children's park and end up becoming friends who write together. Stereotypical and predictable, way too fluffy for my taste.

3 stars
Jan TIOLI #19
12 in 12 #9

23brenpike
Jan 10, 2012, 2:16am Top

4. The Buddha in the Attic Julie Otsuka

An interesting book . . . Beginning with a group of young picture brides through the encampment of the Japanese during WWII, Otsuka never develops individual characters, but rather speaks from the collective point of view. The writing is more poetry than prose and it's uniqueness made it interesting, but I tired of the style before finishing the book. While it does lend insight into the plight of the characters, I ultimately just wanted a character I could latch onto.

3 1/2 stars
Jan TIOLI #10
12 in 12 #8

24brenpike
Edited: Nov 15, 2012, 12:20am Top

5. Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President Candice Millard

Another great book by Millard (River of Doubt), this time about the assassination attempt on the life of President James Garfield in July of 1880. Though Garfield did succumb several months after the shooting, it seems obvious it was not Charles Guiteau's bullet, but the inept medical practices in use that ultimately killed the president. A biography of Garfield, yes, but so much more. Millard adeptly covers politics, inventions, and the horrifying state of medical practice in the late 19th century. Highly recommended.

5 stars
Jan TIOLI #11
12 in12 #3

25katiekrug
Jan 14, 2012, 12:40am Top

I'm currently listening to the audio of the Millard book and enjoying it a lot. There is so much interesting information packed into the story and so much I didn't know. I think it's really well done, too. I've already added River of Doubt to my WL.

26brenpike
Jan 14, 2012, 1:21pm Top

Hi Katie. Glad to hear you are enjoying Millard. I think she is an extraordinary author. . . Her books are really fascinating. You will love River of Doubt.

27brenpike
Jan 14, 2012, 1:34pm Top

6. White Ghost Girls Alice Greenway

A debut novel, longlister for the Orange in 2006, Greenway's story is about two young sisters living in Hong Kong with their mother while their father, a war photographer, commutes in and out of Viet Nam. Told from the perspective of Katie, the younger sister, the bonds of family and unmet needs of it's individuals are unmistakable and sobering.

3 1/2 stars
Jan TIOLI #3
12 in 12 #2
Orange LL 2006

28brenpike
Jan 14, 2012, 4:02pm Top

7. Century Girl: 100 Years in the Life of Doris Eaton Travis, Last Living Star of the Ziegfeld Follies Lauren Redniss

My second book by Redniss, an author/illustrator of graphic books. This biography, as the title aptly explains, covers the life of Doris Eaton, fifth child of Charles and Mary Saunders Eaton. Born in 1904, she became the youngest star of the Follies at age 14. 5 of her 7 siblings were also involved in show biz, encouraged by their mother, whose own dreams of performance were squelched by religiously fanatic parents.
An interesting and amusing book . . . The graphics include wonderful photos of the siblings throughout their lives. Redniss is a talented artist.

4 stars
Jan TIOLI #14
12 in 12 #4

29Soupdragon
Jan 14, 2012, 4:30pm Top

Hi Brenda. You've read lots of really interesting books already this year! I hope to get to White Ghost Girls before too long.

30GCPLreader
Jan 14, 2012, 4:30pm Top

Brenda, I'm new to the 75 group and am enjoying following your reviews. I can't wait to get to Destiny of the Republic. I saw the author speak on cspan's booktv and she was just terrific. -- Jenny

31countrylife
Jan 14, 2012, 10:13pm Top

Hi, Brenda. Love your reviews of January's Sparrow and Destiny of the Republic. Do you not post your reviews on their work pages? I went to put thumbs on those two and did not find yours there. The.site is missing out!

32brenpike
Jan 15, 2012, 2:35am Top

Hello Soupdragon, Jenny and Cindy. Nice to have you visit. . . Thanks for your comments.

Welcome to the 75 group Jenny. You are in for some fun!

Cindy, I prefer just posting comments here on my own thread. . . chicken, I guess! : )

33tloeffler
Jan 15, 2012, 6:36pm Top

I went to put Destiny of the Republic on my TBR list, but it was already there! I did add January's Sparrow, though.

34brenpike
Jan 15, 2012, 8:04pm Top

Terri, I think you will really enjoy both . . .

35brenpike
Jan 17, 2012, 5:34am Top

8. Eugenie Grandet Honere de Balzac

A 19th century classic, the story centers around Eugenie, daughter of a kind mother and miserly,tyrannical father. A small cast of characters in few settings, the tale is ultimately one of love, loss and obligation.

4 stars
Jan TIOLI #17
12 in 12 #5

36brenpike
Jan 17, 2012, 1:55pm Top

9. Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef Gabrielle Hamilton

A terrific memoir by the owner of Prune restaurant in New York City . . . Hamilton very candidly writes about her lifetime of kitchen experiences, beginning with her (French) mother's, through some of NYC's grittier restaurants as an under-age server, European restaurants as a patron and staff, her own restaurant (which she opened at age 34) and the kitchens of her Italian mother-in-law. It is, however, not only about her work, but also her search for meaning and purpose in life. Very interesting, very well written.

4 1/2 stars
Jan TIOLI #8
12 in 12 #4

37GCPLreader
Jan 17, 2012, 8:05pm Top

oh, goodie-- really want to read BB&B now. Lord knows I watch enough FoodNetwork to prove that I have an interest in the food world.

38brenpike
Jan 18, 2012, 12:56am Top

Hi Jenny. I hope you like BB&B. It was recommended to me by a member of one of RL book groups. Took awhile to get it from the library, but definitely worth the wait.
I jumped over to your profile page to take a look at your library. I noticed that several of your favorite reads were favorites of mine as well. . . I'm going to keep an eye on you!? : )

39Donna828
Jan 18, 2012, 8:57am Top

Hi Brenda, from Balzac to Blood, Bones, & Butter. I'm glad to see your eclectic reading choices continue in 2012. It's always fun to see what you are reading! I'm going to be Dull Donna with all the C. S. Lewis books on my plate. ;-)

40brenpike
Jan 18, 2012, 10:21am Top

Donna, I'll be following your C.S. Lewis journey, and am sympathizing with your months of Lewis heavy reading at the expense of other books. I've never read CSL, but suspect he would not be a favorite of mine, so I eagerly await your reports . . .

41brenpike
Edited: Jan 18, 2012, 6:26pm Top

10. Sorry Gail Jones

A compelling story set in outback Western Australia during WWII. The story centers on Perdita, only daughter of a self-absorbed father and an emotionally unstable mother. Her friendships with a neighbor boy who is a deaf/mute, and an Aboriginal girl brought to help out after her mother is hospitalized, are the only real human bonds she has. A catastrophic event separates the trio, but their loyalty to each other remains. Beautifully written. A powerful story with intriguing characters. Highly recommended.

4 1/2 stars
Jan TIOLI #6
12 in 12 #7
Orange LL 2008

42AnneDC
Jan 19, 2012, 2:10am Top

Wow you've been busy this month. Great book list, great reviews. I'd lost your 2012 thread but now I've found it.

43brenpike
Jan 19, 2012, 6:19pm Top

Hi Anne. Welcome and thanks . . .

44ronincats
Jan 19, 2012, 6:33pm Top

So much reading going on! You've twice my total to date.

45brenpike
Jan 19, 2012, 9:34pm Top

You've been busy organizing. You'll catch up in no time. . .

46alcottacre
Jan 19, 2012, 9:37pm Top

#24: I have got to read that one! I loved Millard's book on Teddy Roosevelt.

47brenpike
Jan 19, 2012, 11:10pm Top

Hi Stasia. Do read Destiny . . . I think you'll really like it.

48alcottacre
Jan 19, 2012, 11:18pm Top

#47: My local library has a copy and I have put a hold on it. Hopefully I will be able to get to it soon.

49brenpike
Jan 20, 2012, 12:50am Top

Eager to hear your thoughts, Stasia.

50brenpike
Edited: Jan 20, 2012, 11:35pm Top

11. The Hare with the Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance Edmund de Waal

A fascinating memoir about the Ephrussi family who were wealthy bankers in 19th century Paris and Vienna. The story centers around a collection of 264 netsuke, or miniature Japanese wood and ivory carvings, originally collected by Charles Ephrussi (1849-1905). The Jewish family lost everything as a result of political upheavals, but the netsuke collection remained intact and is in the possession of the author today.
I loved the book, beginning to end, but was most intrigued by the section on Charles who was friends with many painters and writers of Paris in the late 1800s. He is one of the figures in Renoir's "Luncheon of the Boating Party" and is the individual upon whom Marcel Proust's Charles Swann in Swann's Way is based.
Highly recommended.

5 stars
Jan TIOLI #13
12 in 12 #1

51alcottacre
Jan 21, 2012, 7:24am Top

#50: I know I already have that one in the BlackHole. Glad to see you liked it so much, Brenda!

52AnneDC
Jan 21, 2012, 9:44am Top

#50 I have that one on my shelf--Time to move it up on the "list". Great review! And more votes for Sorry and Destiny of the Republic, both already on my wishlist and rapidly moving into the "get now!" category.

53brenpike
Edited: Jan 22, 2012, 12:15am Top

12. Letter from the Birmingham Jail Martin Luther King, Jr.

King's letter in response to a group of ministers explaining why the actions taken in Birmingham were necessary.

4 stars
Jan TIOLI #1
12 in 12 #11

54brenpike
Edited: Jan 23, 2012, 4:28am Top

13. In the Heart of the Country J.M. Coetzee

Second novel by Nobel winner Coetzee, a strange story about a girl/woman living on a remote South African farm with her father and several servants. Written from the perspective of Magda, the daughter, it is dark, bitter and eventually a bit insane. Challenging because you can never get a grip on real time and place or what is real or imagined. I enjoyed Coetzee's Disgrace much more.

3 stars
Jan TIOLI #15
12 in 12 #12

55GCPLreader
Jan 22, 2012, 2:43pm Top

Brenda, did you mean to say Booker winner? thanks for the reminder that I must get to Disgrace soon!

56brenpike
Jan 23, 2012, 4:29am Top

Thanks Jenny. I actually meant Nobel, but he is also a Booker winner for Disgrace, which I think you will like.

57brenpike
Jan 23, 2012, 5:12am Top

14. Keats's Neighborhood Ezra Jack Keats

An exceptionally good compilation of Keats children's stories, including comments from several of the best author/illustrators in children's literature today. The book also includes a brief biography on Keats, which was very interesting. 2012 is the 50th anniversary of the publication of Keats's Caldecott winner, the wonderful, Snowy Day. Highly recommended for children and adults alike.

5 stars
Jan TIOLI #17
12 in 12 #12

58countrylife
Jan 23, 2012, 8:54am Top

That sounds like a fascinating book. I'd never heard of The Hare with the Amber Eyes, but put it straight onto the wishlist. While I was on it's page and reading some of the other reviews, I followed the link in one of them to see pictures of these little figurines. Beautiful and intricate! Looking forward to this read!

59brenpike
Jan 23, 2012, 4:28pm Top

Cindy, I hope you like The Hare with the Amber Eyes as much as I did. I'm still thinking about and probably will for a long time. The passages about the treatment of Jewish and the hardships of citizens in countries at war made me wince. I've always been fascinated by the Impressionist artists, read a lot about them, and to have another significant character from that group is intriguing. I started Swann's Way as a follow up read, so I can (maybe) learn more about Charles Ephrussi. My first Proust, so we'll see how it goes!

60brenpike
Jan 23, 2012, 7:57pm Top

15. The White Woman on the Green Bicycle Monique Roffey

When newlyweds, George and Sabine, arrive in Trinidad (1956) from England, the plan is to stay for 3 years. Three years become a lifetime and Trinidad is politically changed from it's colonialism and dependence on the UK to an independent nation struggling to make a go of it.

3 1/2 stars
Jan TIOLI #5
12 in 12 #7
Orange SL 2010

61brenpike
Edited: Jan 24, 2012, 1:30pm Top

16. Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock David Margolick

Sept,1957, Little Rock, Arkansas. A group of nine black students are poised to enter Little Rock Central High School. National Guard have been called and stand at attention outside the school, along with hundreds of Little Rock citizens. One lone girl, Elizabeth Eckford, approaches the school, is turned back by the Guard and walks toward the nearest bus stop to return home. As she walks, she is taunted every step of the way by adults and students. Several photographers catch the event on film, but the most famous was taken by Will Counts, an alum of LRCHS himself. The iconic photo shows Elizabeth, head held high, followed by a mass of angry people, one young girl whose face is full of hatred spewing a stream of verbal assaults.
Margolick takes us there and into the lives of these two women in the years following this historic day. This is a sobering look at how far we've come with respect to civil rights, and how far there is still to go. Also, unmistakable, is the message about how a single moment can shape a life.

4 1/2 stars
Jan TIOLI #11
12 in 12 #6

62brenpike
Jan 27, 2012, 12:19am Top

17. Sister Rosamund Lupton

A debut novel for Lupton, the story revolves around two sisters, one of whom goes missing and is later found dead. The surviving sister is convinced the death could not have been suicide as the doctors and police have decided and launches her own investigation into the murder. Although the book was recommended to me, I found the plot to be contrived and never really cared about the characters.

3 stars
Jan TIOLI #4
12 in 12 #2

63brenpike
Jan 27, 2012, 11:42pm Top

18. Balzac's Omelette: A Delicious Tour of French Food and Culture with Honore de Balzac Anka Muhlstein

A witty book about the ways food and the art of the table feature in Balzac's writings. After Balzac, Flaubert, Zola, Maupassant and then Proust went on to incorporate meals and gastronomy in their novels. Interesting reading and ties well with the Balzac and Proust I'm reading.

3 1/2 stars
Jan TIOLI #17
12 in 12 #1

64brenpike
Jan 27, 2012, 11:47pm Top

A note about #17 Sister in message 62 . . .
This was a book club read and after discussing the book this morning, I feel compelled to report that the other members of the group really liked Lupton's writing, praising the story and the characters. Different strokes . . . !

65brenpike
Jan 28, 2012, 11:10pm Top

19. Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House Elizabeth Keckley

Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley (1818-1907) was born a slave in Virginia, but purchased her freedom at age 37 and set up a successful dressmaking business in Washington D.C. in 1860.
She became the modiste for Mary Todd Lincoln, shortly after her husband was inaugurated in 1861. She spent much of the next four years in the White House where she became a friend and confidante to Mrs. Lincoln. After the President's assassination in 1865, Mrs. Keckley remained a trusted friend when the former first lady returned to Illinois. Stung by public criticism of her efforts to help Mary Lincoln raise funds by selling her expensive wardrobe, Keckley tried to defend herself in her autobiography which was published in 1868. The book was considered "indecent" based on her intimate perspective of the Lincolns and the publication of personal letters from Mary Lincoln. Keckley returned to her dressmaking business in D.C. before moving to Ohio in 1892 to serve as head of Wilberforce University's Domestic Science Dept. She died in 1907 at the National Home for Destitute Colored Women and Children in Washington D.C.
Fascinating first person account of the Lincoln household from an extraordinary woman.

3 1/2 stars
Jan TIOLI #21
12 in 12 #4

66countrylife
Edited: Jan 29, 2012, 8:50am Top

That one's been on my radar for awhile. Great review!

67brenpike
Jan 29, 2012, 10:33pm Top

20. Confessions of an Art Addict Peggy Guggenheim

Peggy Guggenheim writes candidly about her life and her art in this informative and humorous memoir. Visiting her museum on the Grand Canal in Venice was one of the high points of our family vacation in the summer of 2006.

4 1/2 stars
Jan TIOLI #13
12 in 12 #4

68ronincats
Jan 30, 2012, 12:40am Top

I drop by every time you post, but often don't have anything to add about the good books you've been reading. Just decided I'd better de-lurk to let you know I haven't been ignoring you, Brenda!

69brenpike
Jan 30, 2012, 8:08am Top

Thanks Roni. Good to "hear" from you . . .

70AnneDC
Jan 30, 2012, 10:20am Top

>20 brenpike: I've been to that museum twice, Brenda, and you have me picturing the view onto the Grand Canal. After our family visit in 2010, my daughter announced "Mom, I don't think I really care for modern art."

71qebo
Jan 30, 2012, 10:56am Top

65: I'd never heard of Behind the Scenes, but it's available through Project Gutenberg, so it goes onto the Nook. Elizabeth and Hazel is already on the wishlist.

72brenpike
Jan 30, 2012, 7:48pm Top

>70 AnneDC: Anne, Understand, totally, your daughter's remark. Some modern pieces I really like, others not, and some just strike me as weird! My daughters, who were both art history students at the time, were enthralled.

>71 qebo: quebo, hope you like the books you are adding to your list. . .

73brenpike
Jan 30, 2012, 8:07pm Top

21. The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Childhood Among Ghosts Maxine Hong Kingston

My expectations, based on it's 1976 National Book Critics Award for nonfiction, and on the fact that I really like the work of Chinese female writers, were not met here. This is a book that has been my list for a long time, but I just did not enjoy the story. Just too "other worldly", for lack of a better term, for my taste.

2 1/2 stars
Jan TIOLI #3
12 in 12 #11

74sjmccreary
Jan 31, 2012, 7:12pm Top

Brenda, I guess we were like ships in the night - I hadn't found your thread either until today! Got you starred now and will catch up soon.

75sjmccreary
Feb 1, 2012, 12:38am Top

Ok, I came back to read more closely only to discover that you've read 21 books in 31 days! An incredible pace! Too many books for me to consider this late in the evening. I'm off to bed and will try again tomorrow. So many of them look good!

76brenpike
Edited: Feb 1, 2012, 2:12am Top

22. February Lisa Moore

Just finished the terrific fictionalized account of a family dealing with the aftermath of the real Ocean Ranger Oil Rig disaster off the coast of Newfoundland in February, 1982. Moore's story, told from the perspective of (widowed) Helen, is told from different points in time, allowing the reader to understand her relationship with husband, Cal, and each of her four children, and how Cal's death has changed them.
Moore's writing is straight forward and compelling, and I will definitely look for more work by this author.
Recommended.

4 stars
Feb TIOLI #1
12 in 12 #10
Booker LL 2010

77countrylife
Feb 1, 2012, 7:12am Top

Really? Two o'clock in the morning? Wow, I wish I was so energetic!

I've ordered February from the library; from your notes, it looks like I'm going to enjoy it.

78Donna828
Feb 1, 2012, 7:47am Top

Brenda, I see Sandy and Cindy have caught on to your secret of not sleeping so you can fit all these wonderful books in. Lol.

I'll be reading February this weekend. My Mondays through Thursdays will be spent in Narnia this month.

79sjmccreary
Feb 1, 2012, 9:42am Top

I've got February a little lower in the pile for this month. On top is The Ghost in the Little House for the Missouri Readers.

80brenpike
Feb 1, 2012, 10:18am Top

CIndy, Donna, Sandy, I finished my Jan books Monday and read enough of February yesterday to know I was going to finish it early this morning. A very good read, I thought. I also googled "Ocean Ranger" and read about the actual rig, accident, claims, memorials, etc. Interesting and sad . . .

81brenpike
Feb 4, 2012, 10:28pm Top

23. The Ghost in the Little House: A Life of Rose Wilder Lane William Holtz

Chosen for the Missouri Readers Group selection, this biography is thoroughly researched and yields very detailed information on Rose Wilder Lane. Though an author in her own right, well traveled, and independently successful, she is remembered for her contributions to her mother's "Little House" series. Discussion begins Feb 13 on the Missouri Readers thread.

3 1/2 stars
Feb TIOLI #7
12 in 12 #8

82brenpike
Feb 6, 2012, 5:04pm Top

24. The Angel Makers Jessica Gregson

A great debut novel which is based on actual events . . .the story set in a remote Hungarian village during and after WWI. Italian prisoners of war housed in the village give the women there a glimpse of life previously unknown to them. Everything is going well until the end of the war and the men of the village return home. Sari, a healer/midwife, is accused and abused by her fiancé Ferenc and decides to protect herself and her unborn child. Her decision sets off a series of murders which were undetected for years. A compelling read. Well written, interesting characters and story. Recommended.

4 stars
Feb TIOLI #3
12 in 12 #2

83brenpike
Feb 7, 2012, 3:01pm Top

25. Out Stealing Horses Per Petterson

" Petterson's spare and deliberate prose has astonishing force, and the narrative gains further power from the artful interplay of Trond's childhood and adult perspectives. Loss is conveyed with all the intensity of a boy's perception, but acquires new resonance in the brooding consciousness of the older man." from The New Yorker (I couldn't have said it any better!). Highly recommended.

4 1/2 stars
Feb TIOLI #5
12 in 12 #9

84countrylife
Feb 8, 2012, 10:00am Top

Nice review f The Angel Makers, Brenda. I love historical fiction, and stories about midwifery, so that one went right on my wishlist!

85brenpike
Feb 9, 2012, 1:31pm Top

Thanks Cindy. . . Hope you enjoy it.

86ronincats
Feb 9, 2012, 1:39pm Top

You are a reading machine!

87brenpike
Feb 9, 2012, 1:48pm Top

I could (should) be cleaning,like you are my friend, but, alas, NO!

88brenpike
Feb 10, 2012, 1:26am Top

26. A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France Caroline Moorehead

A powerful story about 230 French women, most arrested for their resistance related crimes, who were transported Jan 24, 1943 via le convoy des 31000 to Auschwitz/Birkenau in Poland. Of the 230, 49 survived to the end of the war and returned to France. When Moorehead started research in 2008, 7 were still living. The accounts of their experiences are chilling, of course, but the remarkable camaraderie and friendships among the women are really inspiring.
Recommended.

4 stars
Feb TIOLI #14
12 in 12 #6

89brenpike
Feb 11, 2012, 10:40pm Top

27. The Wandering Falcon Jamil Ahmad

A debut book by 81 year old Ahmad, who worked for the Civil Service of Pakistan, serving mainly in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The story (actually short related stories) center on Tor Baz, who moves between the tribes of Pakistan and Afghanistan, revealing the traditions and ways of the people who populate those lands.

3 1/2 stars
Feb TIOLI #1
12 in 12 #2

90Soupdragon
Feb 12, 2012, 12:36pm Top

What interesting books you've been reading, Brenda. I think I want to read all of them!

91tloeffler
Feb 12, 2012, 12:59pm Top

My goodness, Brenda! You're rocking! I've added several of the above books to my TBR (one of which I own, so I need to get on it).
Some years ago, someone suggested a book to me that has been on my TBR since then, called Mrs. Keckly Sends Her Regards, by Tim Jorgenson. I never got around to reading it, but it's on my Wish List (library doesn't have it). I may try to read the two back to back.

Hope all's well with you! "Chat" with you on Monday about the Rose Wilder Lane book!

92ronincats
Feb 13, 2012, 1:28am Top

The Wandering Falcon sounds really interesting--why only 3-1/2 stars?

93brenpike
Feb 13, 2012, 5:40am Top

Hi Dee, Terri, Roni. Thanks for checking in . . .

Terri, I read an amazing book several years ago, Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Keckley by Jennifer Fleischner. It was my introduction to the friendship and the fact that it was non-fiction met my need for historical accuracy. Since then I have come across several books on the same subject. I'm eager to see what you think of your Lincoln/Keckley read.

Roni, The Wandering Falcon was an interesting book, but I was sometimes confused as the chapters/stories were subtly connected. I was expecting a single story with more of a common thread and had trouble staying focused. But, I've thought about the characters and their individual stories since finishing the book, so may consider re-reading. I don't think I've ever read about that area of the world and it is fascinating.

94brenpike
Feb 15, 2012, 9:04pm Top

28. The Bells Richard Harvell

A debut novel for Harvell, this book came highly recommended by a book group member and received a 4+ rating here on LT. So I looked forward to finally getting to it, however, I was disappointed. The story, set in 18th century Europe, is about a boy, born to a poor woman, rescued by monks, castrated by an over zealous music teacher, loved by a rich girl, etc., etc., etc... Just a little too unbelievable for me!

3 stars
Feb TIOLI #15
12 in 12 #9

95brenpike
Feb 15, 2012, 9:59pm Top

29. Drawing from Memory Allen Say

A YA memoir by Caldecott author Allen Say writing of his life as a young boy in Japan and of his mentor Noro Shinpei, Japan's most famous cartoonist of the time. Wonderful drawings, touching story. Recommended.

4 stars
Feb TIOLI #15
12 in 12 #5

96brenpike
Feb 18, 2012, 12:29am Top

30. Dresden: Tuesday, February 13, 1945 Frederick Taylor

An intriguing book about the fateful air attack on Dresden at the end of WWII. Extremely well researched, Taylor covers everything from Dresden's history to the skills of the aircraft crews responsible for carrying out Allied orders. Interesting and thought provoking. Highly recommended.

4 1/2 stars
Feb TIOLI #3
12 in 12 #6

97brenpike
Feb 18, 2012, 10:37pm Top

31. The Odds Stewart O'Nan

After 30 years of marriage, affairs and the loss of jobs, Art and Marion return to Niagra Falls (the site of their honeymoon) in a last ditch effort to save their finances and their marriage. Great story telling and interesting characters make this a very pleasant read. Recommended.

4 stars
Feb TIOLI #11
12 in 12 #12

98GCPLreader
Feb 19, 2012, 7:19pm Top

Yeah, I remember The Bells started out with a wonderful almost fairy tale-like opening and later on got a bit out of hand. Interesting story of the castrati (sp?) though. Wasn't The Odds a great read? Loved the Heart concert scene.

99brenpike
Feb 19, 2012, 11:10pm Top

Agreed about The Bells . . . And, yes, I really liked The Odds. This was the first fiction by O'Nan for me. I read The Circus Fire last year and thought it was really good too. The Bookmarks magazine that came yesterday has a feature on Stewart O'Nan and gives a summary of everything he's written. I'm intrigued by the fact they are so varied in topic and look forward to reading more by him, sooner rather than later. The article mentioned that he left a career as an aeronautical engineer to become a writer, completing his MFA at Cornell. Interesting guy . . .

100Donna828
Feb 20, 2012, 10:28am Top

Good morning, Brenda. Stewart O'Nan is on my radar. I read another good review on BookPage this morning of The Odds. Maybe between that you your review, someone is trying to tell me to read this book first.

Darn, you've made me regret that I let my Bookmarks subscription lapse. I did like how they analyzed an author's body of work. I think I just got tired of reading about books that I already knew about. It's another case of the internet keeping us instantly updated on topics of interest.

101brenpike
Feb 20, 2012, 3:27pm Top

Hi Donna. This is the second year of my BOOKMARKS subscription, and while there are many books I've already read (and I get a kind of positive stroke seeing those titles), there are so many I haven't read. I enjoy their focus on individual authors, that they include old as well as new books, and include books from many different genres. It is also interesting to me to read the recommendations from individual readers and to read about book groups which have endured.

I hope you enjoy the O'Nan book as much as I did. . . I'll definitely be looking for more of his books soon.

102brenpike
Feb 20, 2012, 3:42pm Top

32. A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers Xiaolu Guo

Though this is Guo's third novel, it is the first one she wrote in English. This knowledge made the book much more relevant and interesting to me. The story is about a 23 year old woman from rural China who is sent to London to study English. She almost immediately meets, and falls in love with, a man 20 years her senior. She learns over the course of her year in the UK that love does not mean the same thing in the West as it does in China. I loved the author's use of words with definitions at the beginning of each chapter. The character's steadily improving language skills are reflected in the writing. An interesting look at how language and culture create identity. Recommended.

4 stars
Feb TIOLI #3
12 in 12 #7
Orange SL 2007

103brenpike
Feb 24, 2012, 10:05pm Top

33. Last Night I Dreamed of Peace Dang Thuy Tram

Dang Thuy Tram was 24 when she volunteered to leave her home in North Vietnam to serve as a doctor in a National Liberation Front (Viet Cong) battlefield hospital in the Quang Ngai Province in South Vietnam. She was killed two years later by American forces not far from where she worked. Her diary entries from 1968-1970 speak poignantly of her love for family and friends, loyalty to her homeland, sadness for losses experienced, frustration and yearning for peace. An important read for me, as it is an introduction of sorts into the lives of the Vietnamese. Even though the book includes many very good footnotes (translation by Andrew X. Pham), I feel compelled to read more to better understand the history and culture of the country, and the reasons for military action there.
Recommended. I would suggest keeping a list of names and places as you read. I had trouble keeping track of the names mentioned and of their relation to the author.

4 stars
Feb TIOLI #10
12 in 12 #4

104thornton37814
Feb 25, 2012, 7:29am Top

>103 brenpike: I enjoyed that book when I read it also. Very compelling.

105brenpike
Feb 25, 2012, 10:54pm Top

>104 thornton37814: I find myself thinking about the passages from this book. . . I think it will stay with me for a long time.

106brenpike
Feb 25, 2012, 11:10pm Top

34. A Long, Long Time Ago & Essentially True Brigid Pasulka

Winner of the 2010 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for a first novel. The book really is two interwoven stories. The love story of Pigeon and Anielica from the 1940s rural Poland, and the story of their granddaughter, Baba Yaga as she emerges into adulthood in Krakow almost 50 years later.
Pasulka has created compelling characters and given them a compelling story. Recommended.

4 stars
Feb TIOLI #6
12 in 12 #2

107brenpike
Feb 27, 2012, 7:35pm Top

35. Why the Dreyfus Affair Matters Louis Begley

In 1894, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a brilliant French artillery officer of Jewish descent serving on the army General Staff, was court-martialed for selling secrets to the German military attaché, a crime he did not commit. Five years later, the case was overturned by the highest court in France, and Dreyfus was officially exonerated. But not before France was polarized on the subject of anti-semitism, militarism, and elitism. The case has been an example to subsequent generations of how crucial it is to safeguard our liberties and honor.

3 1/2 stars
Feb TIOLI #8
12 in 12 #6

108brenpike
Feb 29, 2012, 12:54am Top

36. Twelve Minutes of Love: A Tango Story Kapka Kassabova

When Bulgarian New Zealander Kassabova met tango, she was smitten! Her compelling story covers ten years of her life and her passion for tango. I really liked this book alot. . . I love tango music, have many CDs, (some of that mentioned), and am eager to track down more of the music listed in her playlist and to search for films mentioned in the book. Highly recommended.

4 1/2 stars
Feb TIOLI #12
12 in 12 #4

109avatiakh
Feb 29, 2012, 5:26am Top

Must pull the Kassabova book out and get reading. I listened to Begley's Venice for Lovers last year, I think it was co-written with his wife.

110brenpike
Edited: Feb 29, 2012, 11:27am Top

Kerry, I pulled up the information on Venice for Lovers . . . It was written with his wife, Anka Muhlstein. Sounds like a book I would really like . . . onto the list it goes!

111brenpike
Feb 29, 2012, 2:28pm Top

37. Hard Times Charles Dickens

A lesser known novel by Dickens, Hard Times is set in Coketown, a fictitious industrial town north of London. As are all Dickens novels, the story is crowded with the good, and not so good citizens, trying to make their way in Victorian England. Questions of social and utilitarian aspects of life are raised and everything turns out well in the end for the good, the not so good, not! At times the book's title aptly described my reading experience . . . Slowed down in some portions with lengthy descriptions, I found myself looking for quotation marks indicating conversation, and hopefully, forward momentum in the story.

3 stars
Feb TIOLI #17
12 in 12 #9

112brenpike
Edited: Mar 5, 2012, 12:02am Top

38. The Coldest March: Scott's Fatal Antarctic Expedition Susan Solomon

The compelling story of Scott's race to the South Pole in the winter of 1911/12. Told from the perspective of a meteorologist, Solomon uses current and historical weather data to confirm the unusually harsh conditions which contributed to the deaths of the last four of the five men who ascended to the pole in Feb, 1912. Sad, of course, but fascinating . . . I was intrigued by details about cold weather gear, food, the stories of individual expedition members, severe cold weather effects, etc. and ultimately about the men who push themselves to make these kinds of ventures into unknown regions for the sake of adventure and science at great personal sacrifice. Highly recommended.

4 1/2 stars
Mar TIOLI #17
12 in 12 #1

113brenpike
Mar 6, 2012, 1:46am Top

39. Art Lover: A Biography of Peggy Guggenheim Anton Gill

Peggy Guggenheim (1898-1979) became one of the 20th century's foremost collectors of modern art. She led an interesting life filled with colorful characters and died alone in Venice, her last home and the site of her modern art collection. Gill's book is well researched and readable.

3 1/2 stars
Mar TIOLI #5
12 in 12 #4

114brenpike
Mar 6, 2012, 9:52pm Top

40. A Ball for Daisy Chris Raschka

The 2012 Caldecott winner . . . A charming picture book written and illustrated by Chris Raschka about a dog and her favorite ball. Loved the story and the art. Recommended. A welcome respite from the heavy adult books I've been immersed in!

4 stars
Mar TIOLI #6
12 in 12 #3

115brenpike
Mar 6, 2012, 9:55pm Top

41. Goodnight iPad: A Parody for the Next Generation Ann Droyd

A hillarious parody of Margarite Wise Brown's classic Goodnight Moon reset for today's kids, and anyone who is addicted to their electronics. Very fun! Recommended for everyone!

4 stars
Mar TIOLI #13
12 in 12 #12

116brenpike
Edited: Mar 6, 2012, 10:09pm Top

42. Aya Marguerite Abouet & Clement Oubrerie

A YA graphic novel . . . Just like reading comic books as a kid, but with slightly more adult themes. Set in 1970s African Ivory Coast, a story about a studious Aya, her light hearted friends, Adjoua and Bintou, their families, friends and neighbors. AYA won the 2006 award for Best First Album at the Angouleme International Comics Festival. Again, a wonderful story with compelling characters and interesting, colorful illustrations. Recommended by Kerry
(avatiakh). . . Thanks Kerry!

4 stars
Mar TIOLI #15
12 in 12 #2

117ronincats
Mar 6, 2012, 10:15pm Top

Sounds like you've been reading a couple of funny ones of late!

118brenpike
Mar 6, 2012, 10:22pm Top

The last three were all this afternoon . . .gotta love Children's and YA literature . . . They were great fun!

119Donna828
Mar 7, 2012, 12:24am Top

115: Brenda, I'm snuggled in bed with my iPad now thinking that Goodnight iPad would make the perfect bedtime story!

You are having a fantastic reading year!

120brenpike
Mar 7, 2012, 12:54am Top

Check out Goodnight iPad if you get a chance . . . Took me about 30 seconds to read - may be a good balance for your Infinite Jest behemoth! And it's a very clever little book. . .

121brenpike
Mar 7, 2012, 3:57pm Top

43. Why Read Moby-Dick? Nathaniel Philbrick

Philbrick is one of my favorite authors, so his essay on why Moby-Dick still deserves reading and re-reading was a definite choice for me. The 127 page book is a tour through Melville's classic and a look into his life as well.

3 1/2 stars
Mar TIOLI #6
12 in 12 #12

122countrylife
Mar 8, 2012, 8:53am Top

The Coldest March sounds really interesting. Love your succinct reviews, too, Brenda.

123brenpike
Mar 8, 2012, 9:30am Top

Thanks Cindy. The Coldest March was fascinating . . . I am still thinking (and talking to whoever will listen) about it a lot. Heading over to your thread to see what you've been reading . . .

124brenpike
Edited: Mar 8, 2012, 2:10pm Top

44. Gillespie and I Jane Harris

Selected for the Orange LL for 2012. A cleverly written novel about a woman and her time in Glasgow with the family of artist, Ned Gillespie. Harriet Baxter is one intriguing gal. By her recollection, and the story is told from her perspective as she writes her memoirs in 1933, she was and is a perfectly reasonable, caring, friend. Until the end of the book, I went along with that, but after the trial (?), the reader is left in doubt. Interesting and compelling characters and writing.
Highly recommended.

4 1/2 stars
Mar TIOLI #10
12 in 12 #7
Orange LL 2012

125brenpike
Mar 11, 2012, 2:27pm Top

45. Aya of Yop City Marguerite Abouet &
46. Aya: The Secrets Come Out Clement Oubrerie

Guilty pleasure reads. . . More of those crazy girls from 1970s Ivory Coast. (See #42 above)

3 1/2 stars
Mar TIOLI #15
12 in 12 #12

126brenpike
Edited: Mar 12, 2012, 1:39pm Top

47. The Misremembered Man Christina McKenna

A sweet story about a lonely man who at the urging of his good neighbors, seeks female company via the lonely hearts ads in a local newspaper. Although Jamie's backstory is wrenching (orphanage/abuse), the chapters on his current life and those of Lydia, the woman he meets, are charming. The Irish dialect and personalities are very well rendered and make the book quite enjoyable. Recommended.

3 1/2 stars
Mar TIOLI #6
12 in 12 #5

127brenpike
Mar 12, 2012, 1:36pm Top

48. Salvage the Bones Jesmyn Ward

Framed in 12 days leading up to and including landfall of hurricane Katrina, this is ultimately a story about a family who has nothing but each other. Original and interesting characters, compelling story and well written. Highly recommended.

4 1/2 stars
Mar TIOLI #6
12 in 12 #5

128avatiakh
Mar 12, 2012, 10:26pm Top

I'm just reading Aya of Yop City now, good to see you enjoyed the three books. I finished the Kassabova book and am all tangoed out right now. I have to listen to her playlist though and have a tango concert to go to on Thursday. And I'm keen to read some more of her work.

Gillespie and I is on my tbr pile, just need to clear a few from the top before I can read it.

129brenpike
Mar 12, 2012, 10:40pm Top

Hi Kerry. I'm jealous. . . I want to go to a tango concert! I had to make due with watching a bunch of You Tube tango shorts . . . Definitely not the same. Enjoy your concert! And yes, I also will read more by Kassabova.
Eager to hear what you think of Gillespie and I.

130brenpike
Mar 16, 2012, 2:20am Top

49. My Name is Mary Sutter Robin Oliveira

A successful debut novel about a young midwife whose desire is to become a surgeon. Olivier created an interesting character in Mary, the stubborn, head-strong protagonist. Additional characters were not as interesting, but the story was compelling enough to keep me reading.

3 1/2 stars
Mar TIOLI #14
12 in 12 #9

131countrylife
Mar 16, 2012, 8:27am Top

I read My Name is Mary Sutter last year, though my rating was higher. Historical fiction is my preferred genre, and another draw for me are books which have a midwifery element, which I thought the author handled well. I can see what you mean about additional characters not being as interesting; they weren't as well fleshed-out as Mary, were they.

132brenpike
Mar 16, 2012, 8:55am Top

I was a little irritated that every male practically every male character was in love with Mary! I did, however, almost cheer when she delivered her wagon full of medical supplies.

133brenpike
Mar 19, 2012, 6:57pm Top

50. There But For The Ali Smith

Longlisted for the 2012 Orange list. Let's just I must not have been in the right frame of mind for this book!? The reviews ranged from confusing, hard to read, brilliant, intelligent. I loved the opening premise, a dinner guest who locks himself in a guest bedroom of his hosts, but the lack of plot and the various narrators made it's reading a chore for me.

3 stars
Mar TIOLI #7
12 in 12 # 7
Orange LL 2012

134brenpike
Mar 20, 2012, 4:00pm Top

51. The Cruelest Month Louise Penny

Third installment in the Three Pines Mystery series, same lovable characters, witty and plot driven writing. Ironically, each time I pick a book from this series, I manage to jump into exactly the right season . . . i.e. Thanksgiving setting in November, Christmas in December, Easter/spring in March. Purely by accident, but kind of cool! Enjoyable, light reading.

3 1/2 stars
Mar TIOLI #19
12 in 12 #1

135ronincats
Mar 20, 2012, 10:42pm Top

I just finished The Cruellest Month a few days ago, Brenda, and enjoyed it as well.

136brenpike
Mar 21, 2012, 7:46pm Top

52. Snow Angels Stewart O'Nan

O'Nan's debut novel from 1994, he is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers. This story, narrated by an adult Arthur Parkinson, recalls the winter of 1974. His adolescence was complicated enough with the divorce of his parents, but the deaths of a former beloved babysitter and her daughter are upsetting and haunting. A compelling story with well developed characters.

4 stars
Mar TIOLI #7
12 in 12 # 2

137brenpike
Mar 23, 2012, 12:30am Top

53. Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle Fiona Carnarvon

An interesting biography of Almina Victoria Marie Alexandra Wombwell, who at age 19 (Jun, 1895) became Countess of Carnarvon when she married the 5th Earl of Carnarvon. She was the illegitimate daughter of Alfred de Rothschild and Marie Wombwell. Almina's marriage to the Earl was a win-win for both parties. She gained a secure social standing and the Earl gained a wife who could financially support his family home at Highclere Castle. They lived lavishly, entertained, and traveled, as was customary for people of their standing and wealth during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Almina, always energetic and committed to helping turned Highclere Castle into a hospital during WWI, and in doing so discovered her passion for nursing and hospital administration. Her husband, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon is best known for his discovery, with Howard Carter, of Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922.
Through shrewd dispersal of assets by Almina, the family home has been maintained. Though some filming was done at Highclere for "Downton Abbey", fans of the popular series may be disappointed. Many characters are fictionalized and while the book does refer to the upstairs/downstairs aspect of the household, it is primarily a biography of Almina, Countess of Carnarvon.

4 stars
Mar TIOLI #5
12 in 12 #4

138brenpike
Mar 24, 2012, 1:53am Top

54. The March E.L. Doctorow

The March refers to Sherman's march through Georgia and the Carolinas toward the end of the Civil War. Along with the 60,000 soldiers, freed slaves, and other civilians joined the march as their own homes were destroyed. Doctorow adeptly tells the story through a variety of narrators, giving a well rounded view of the horrors of the war and the impact on people, black and white, free and slave, educated and uneducated, officers and soldiers, civilians and military, men and women. Obviously well researched, written in spare, straight forward prose, totally believable characters. A good read.

4 stars
Mar TIOLI #1
12 in 12 #10

139brenpike
Mar 24, 2012, 12:07pm Top

55. The Buffalo Soldier Chris Bohjalian

Bohjalian is one of my favorite authors. He tells a good story - believable characters, great writing, good pacing. In this novel from 2002, Laura and Terry Sheldon have taken in a 10 year old black boy to foster, two years after the deaths of their own 9 year old girls. The story is about how they become a family. Interestingly, Bohjalian has included excerpts from diaries of George Rowe, a buffalo soldier, his Native American wife, and other military men. The excerpts tie the unwinding stories together nicely.

4 stars
Mar TIOLI #15
12 in 12 #12

140tloeffler
Mar 24, 2012, 8:42pm Top

Brenda, I read The Buffalo Soldier several years ago, and I really found it interesting. I always like stumbling upon historical things that I never knew about.

And thanks for cluing me in on the KC meetup. If no one else can wait till the 14th, maybe you and I can at least have dinner again at that great Mexican place we went to last time!

141Donna828
Mar 24, 2012, 10:53pm Top

138: The March was a "keeper" for me, Brenda. Maybe I'll read it again next March if I do the monthly theme read again next year. Oh dear, I have to come up with something for April.

140: I love Mexican food, Terri. ;-)

142brenpike
Mar 24, 2012, 11:58pm Top

Jose' Peppers for three it is! I'm already getting excited about the prospect of our meet-up and it's months away . . . : )

143brenpike
Mar 25, 2012, 1:21am Top

56. Bertrand Russell's Best: Silhouettes in Satire selected and introduced by Robert Egner

Selected writings from Russell's books and articles on sex, religion, marriage, education, politics, psychology and ethics.

3 1/2 stars
Mar TIOLI #9
12 in 12 #12

144brenpike
Mar 25, 2012, 9:29pm Top

57. Horton Hatches the Egg Dr. Seuss

Lovable, reliable Horton . . .

4 1/2 stars
Mar TIOLI #16
12 in 12 #12

145brenpike
Mar 26, 2012, 12:22am Top

58. One Hundred Names for Love: A Stroke, A Marriage, and the Language of Healing Diane Ackerman

Both wordsmiths, Diane Ackerman and husband, Paul West, lived in a world inhabited and defined by language. A stroke left him aphasic, unable to speak, understand the simplest of words, concepts or symbols, or to care for himself. Having researched brain activity for her An Alchemy of Mind, Ackerman understood the damage to his brain and to their lives. Her insight led to an unconventional therapy tailor made to find Paul and to unlock the language still in his brain. This memoir, written five years after Paul's stroke, is testament to their love, to resilience and vulnerability, and the enduring gift of language. Beautifully written and highly recommended.

5 stars
Mar TIOLI #6
12 in 12 #4

146countrylife
Mar 26, 2012, 7:58am Top

That was probably my shortest time between reading a review and throwing the wishlist lever. One Hundred Names for Love sounds like a great book. Nice review, too!

147brenpike
Mar 26, 2012, 11:00am Top

Thanks Cindy. Hope you enjoy it . . .
Have you read anything by Diane Ackerman? My first was The Zookeeper's Wife and I have really liked everything else I've read by her. She writes in beautiful, almost poetic phrasing. Her choice of words is creative and thoughtful. And I love an author who writes in many different genres . . .obviously so intelligent, skilled and talented.

148ronincats
Mar 26, 2012, 11:36am Top

Hope the celebrations didn't keep you awake last night!

Do you know that I had to memorize and recite Horton Hatches an Egg in its entirety for a school program in third grade? Yes, I did.

149brenpike
Mar 26, 2012, 11:26pm Top

Hi Roni. I was awake anyway . . . Reading, as usual. : )

I'm trying to picture you as a third grader in from of an audience reciting Horton Hatches the Egg . . . (That image is definitely making me smile.) I'm sure the applause was deafening!

150brenpike
Mar 26, 2012, 11:47pm Top

59. In the Bleak Midwinter Julia Spencer-Fleming

A debut book which won Spencer-Fleming an Agatha Award in 2002. For anyone who hasn't read this mystery, a newborn is found on the steps of a church. The lady priest and chief of police work together to solve the mystery of the baby's parentage and the murder of two citizens of the small upstate New York town. I enjoyed the dialogue between Clare and Russ, but found both characters pretty unbelievable and the plot predictable. I kept thinking of Mrs. Fletcher of the old "Murder, She Wrote" TV series . . . Why was this priest (or author, in the case of Mrs. Fletcher) allowed to become involved to the extent she was? Didn't anybody in Miller Kills just want to say "It's really not your business to . . . ". Kind of drove me crazy - repeated rolling of my eyes nearly gave me a strain!

3 1/2 stars
Mar TIOLI #3
12 in 12 #2

151brenpike
Mar 29, 2012, 1:15pm Top

60. Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans Kadir Nelson

Selected as the Coretta Scott King Award for author and illustrator. Nelson's history book, written in the voice of everywoman, tells America's story from pre-Revolutionary war to the present. The highlight of the book for me was the remarkable art. Recommended for children in upper elementary grades.

4 stars
Mar TIOLI #6
12 in 12 #3

152brenpike
Mar 30, 2012, 1:48am Top

61. Lysistrata Aristophanes., Jack Lindsay

Classic Greek humor (5th Century BC) about a group of women who decide to withhold sex from their husbands until they (the husbands) end their involvement in the Athens/Sparta wars. Funny stuff!

4 stars
Mar TIOLI #13
12 in 12 #5

153brenpike
Mar 30, 2012, 9:01pm Top

62. Inside Out & Back Again Thanhha Lai

A funny and heartbreaking novel told in verse form by a ten year old Ha over the course of a year (1975). Her mother, 3 older brothers and herself leave Saigon as it falls under Communist control, leaving their homeland and her father who has been missing for 9 years. Their decision to take residence in America (Alabama) brings about harsh realities as the family adjusts to a new country and a new life. I don't typically feel emotional about books, but this had me very nearly in tears. Lai, remembering her own flight from Vietnam as a child, has perfectly captured the emotional turmoil in her character. Highly recommended.

5 stars
Mar TIOLI #15
12 in 12 #5

154qebo
Mar 30, 2012, 10:09pm Top

145,147: It's because I read The Zookeeper's Wife a few years ago that One Hundred Names for Love goes onto the wishlist.

155brenpike
Mar 30, 2012, 11:52pm Top

quebo, It's beginning to look like a Diane Ackerman fan club! : ). I just requested An Alchemy of the Mind and am quite eager to receive and read it. Several reviewers on that listing describe Ackerman as having a poet's soul and a scientist's mind and as a scholar-artist. All apt descriptions as far as I'm concerned.

156brenpike
Edited: Mar 31, 2012, 12:37am Top

63. The Worst Journey in the World Apsley Cherry-Garrard

A first person account of the Anarctica expedition of 1911-12. Cherry-Garrard was the youngest member of the ill-fated Scott expedition to the South Pole. He and two others* made a Jun 22 - Aug 1, 1911 journey across the Barrier to retrieve scientific data (penguin eggs), enduring some of the worst temperatures and conditions ever recorded. Though he was not selected by Scott as part of the 5 man team to make the Polar ascent, he was a member of the party that discovered the bodies of Scott and his two close friends, Wilson and Bowers*, along with their last notebooks, letters and effects.

3 1/2 stars
Mar TIOLI #4
12 in 12 #1

157ronincats
Mar 31, 2012, 12:45am Top

I think tomorrow evening, around 6 or 7, if you ever wanted to go to the movies or go shopping without a million other people around, might be a good time to get out and do it. ;-)

158brenpike
Mar 31, 2012, 12:48am Top

I think you are right . . . However, I do think the Liberty Hall Theater might not be a good choice! Massachusetts street is actually being closed tomorrow night . . . : )

159brenpike
Apr 4, 2012, 9:32am Top

64. The Enchanted April Elizabeth von Arnim

A charming story about 4 women who decide to vacation in Italy for the month of April. A love story, for sure. Wonderful descriptions of the Italian gardens, great character development . . . A very pleasant read. Recommended

4 stars
Apr TIOLI #2
12 in 12 #5

160brenpike
Apr 4, 2012, 4:17pm Top

65. Sita's Ramayana Samhita Arni & Moyna Chitrakar

"War, in some ways," muses Sita, the heroine of this book, "is merciful to men. It makes heroes if they are victors. If they are vanquished - they do not live to see their homes taken, their wives widowed. But if you are a woman . . . "

Sita's Ramayana shifts the perspective of the Ramayana to bring a woman's perspective to the timeless epic from India presented in graphic novel form with visually stunning artwork.

3 1/2 stars
Apr TIOLI #9
12 in 12 #5

161brenpike
Edited: Apr 7, 2012, 10:27pm Top

66. Island of Wings Karin Altenberg

A fictionalized account of the historic lives of Rev. Neil McKenzie and his wife Elizabeth. The Scotland natives arrive at St. Kilda in July, 1830 to minister to the primitives of the island. What they find is a people who live in squalor, scrabbling to survive and losing 60% of their newborns. The landscape though stark, and brutal is beautiful and they make their home there for the next 13 years. Altenberg skillfully describes the hope turned to hopelessness for the young couple as they struggle to keep their family and their faith alive and how a life of desperation changes an individual.

4 stars
Apr TIOLI #18
12 in12 #2
Orange LL, 2012

162countrylife
Apr 8, 2012, 4:29pm Top

I'd never heard of St. Kilda, so had to google it. Found a St. Kilda in both Scotland and Australia. Now, how silly was that?!!! If I'd just stayed on LT to begin with, the tags told the location! PS: Sounds like a good book.

163brenpike
Apr 9, 2012, 11:49pm Top

67. The Night Circus Erin Morgenstern

A debut novel from Morgenstern which has garnered much attention. . . Every once in awhile I need a good fantasy book. This was it. Loved the characters and the images created by Morgenstern. Maybe overly long, but enjoyable. Recommended.

4 stars
Apr TIOLI #18
12 in 12 #2
Orange LL, 2012

164ronincats
Apr 10, 2012, 12:17am Top

Glad you enjoyed The Night Circus--my first book of the year and one of my best.

165brenpike
Apr 10, 2012, 2:10am Top

Hi Roni! How are you?

166ronincats
Apr 10, 2012, 5:34pm Top

I'm good. I only dressed in mourning for one day, since the team exceeded all of our expectations anyway. I am sorry that Robinson won't stay for his senior year, but I never expected him to, so that wasn't a shock either.

Congrats on being #7 in books read on Paul's stats, with 67 books. And these were meaty books, too!

167tloeffler
Apr 10, 2012, 9:13pm Top

>142 brenpike: I'm getting excited about Jose Peppers!

>150 brenpike: I am SO glad to see that I wasn't the only one who felt that way about In The Bleak Midwinter. Those were my reactions EXACTLY, but so many people liked it that I thought maybe I missed something. Good to know it's not just me.

>152 brenpike: Brenda! I'm reading Lysistrata right now too!

Popping in to say Hi and looking forward to June!

168brenpike
Apr 11, 2012, 1:35am Top

Hi Roni and Terri. So happy to see your comments. Roni I agree that it was a good go for the team. Made for some exciting times in Lawrence this spring! I don't know about "Paul's stats". Where would I find them?

Terri, Interesting that we both had the same reaction to In the Bleak Midwinter! And that we were reading Lysistrata simultaneously! Weird . . . I mean Lysistrata is not one of those books one just picks up!? : )
And yes, I am also looking forward to June and having your company at my favorite mexican restaurant. What are your plans for Friday, June 15? Maybe we should plan two days of meet-up activities . . . The book sale on Thursday, Prospero's in Westport or The Dusty Bookshelf in Lawrence on Friday with appropriate meals thrown in for good balance, of course! What do you think?

Roni, Are you sure you can't arrange a trip to visit your mom around the middle of June? We'd love to see you!

169brenpike
Apr 11, 2012, 1:42am Top

68. Between Shades of Gray Ruta Sepetys

A YA novel, Sepetys' first, about a fifteen year old Lithuanian girl who along with her mother and brother are arrested by the Soviet NKVD and transported to work camps in Siberia. Compelling story and well developed characters made this a good read. Heartbreaking, as so many war stories are, but well worth the time and effort. Recommended.

4 stars
Apr TIOLI #3
12 in 12 #2

170ronincats
Apr 11, 2012, 1:43am Top

My original plans had been to be back there in June. Then I found out that my high school class is holding a 45th class reunion on July 21, and I had to miss the 40th, so that took precedence. I'm so sorry, too.

Here's Paul's current thread. You'll find the latest stats there.

http://www.librarything.com/topic/135619

171brenpike
Apr 11, 2012, 1:48am Top

Thanks Roni. Maybe a quick lunch as you pass through Lawrence on your way west in July?

172brenpike
Apr 12, 2012, 12:12am Top

69. The Sisters Brothers Patrick DeWitt

Though I just read this last August, I read it again for a RL group. Still love it's dark humor and lovable characters.
Highly Recommended.

4 1/2 stars
Apr TIOLI #19
12 in 12 #9
Booker SL, 2011

173brenpike
Apr 13, 2012, 12:19am Top

70. Letters of a Woman Homesteader Elinore Pruitt Stewart

A collection of letters written 1909 - 1913 by Stewart to a former employer/friend from Wyoming. The author's voice comes through so clearly I feel like I knew her personally. I loved her descriptions of the landscape, people and experiences. An important memoir from a remarkable woman of integrity, grit and spirit. Recommended.

4 stars
Apr TIOLI #8
12 in 12 #11

174Donna828
Apr 13, 2012, 10:28am Top

I'm beginning to look forward to mid-June too! I'll probably head home on Thursday after lunch to get ready for a big family week end.

Brenda, you're in for a treat if you haven't visited Paul's thread before. And, yes, you are to be congratulated for all the books you've read and commented on in the first quarter. I'm glad I'm not trying to keep up with your numbers. You've put the emphasis on WISH on my groaning WL!

175brenpike
Apr 13, 2012, 11:26pm Top

71. Last Dinner on the Titanic. Rick Archbold, Dana McCauley

Menus and Recipes from the Titanic. The book also includes photos, drawings, passenger commentary from Titanic and her sister ship the Olympic. A reread for me of a visually interesting book from my shelves.

3 1/2 stars
Apr TIOLI #4
12 in 12 #6

176brenpike
Apr 13, 2012, 11:34pm Top

Hi Donna. Sorry to hear you will have to rush off after lunch on the 14th. There are so many other sources to explore! Oh well, we'll take what we can get . . .

I went over to check out Paul's thread after Roni mentioned his stats. . . I am honored to have been mentioned in the company of the heavy duty readers of TIOLI/75 Book Challengers. : )

177brenpike
Apr 16, 2012, 4:49pm Top

72. Voyagers of the Titanic: Passengers, Sailors, Shipbuilders, Aristocrats, and the Worlds They Came From Richard Davenport-Hines

My copy was an uncorrected proof purchased at a used-book store, and as such did not include the photos mentioned and may account for the touchstone's insistence the name of the book is Titanic Lives. Davenport's research was extensive covering a wide range of survivor statements, newspaper accounts, etc. The most interesting section of the book for me was the last section covering the arrival of the Carpathia in New York with the survivors and the terrible truths of those lost in the sinking of the Titanic. I was also interested in the section which reported the effects/aftermath of the tragedy on it's survivors.

3 1/2 stars
Apr TIOLI#4
12 in 12 #6

178brenpike
Edited: Apr 16, 2012, 5:20pm Top

73. Halsman at Work Yvonne Halsman
74. Dali's Mustache Salvador Dali, Philippe Halsman

Two very enjoyable books featuring the photography of Philippe Halsman (1906-1979). Thank you, Kerry (avatiakh), for bringing them to my attention.

4 stars, 4 1/2 stars
Apr TIOLI #8
12 in 12 #1

179tloeffler
Apr 16, 2012, 7:35pm Top

My current "plan" (if you want to call it that--I'm generally pretty flexible) is to leave home Thursday morning some time, drive till I get there, and leave sometime on Saturday. I have to be home Sunday for Fathers Day-my Dad is picky about those things. And I may be bringing a friend! We're planning a little casino getaway in Oklahoma in early May, and I mentioned that I'd be doing this in June, and she asked if she could come, and of course I said yes. We're all about buying books and eating...we hardly gamble on our casino trips. Just take the motorcoach ride, eat at the buffets, and spend a little time at the slots, in between our reading! Good times...

180brenpike
Apr 16, 2012, 10:59pm Top

Sounds like your friend will fit right in!

181brenpike
Edited: Apr 18, 2012, 2:05am Top

75. Foreign Bodies Cynthia Ozick

Middle aged and single, Bea is "ordered" by her estranged brother to locate and send back his wayward son who has run off to Paris. Before long, Bea is ensconced in the problems her brother's dysfunctional family is experiencing.
What is interesting about this book for me, is that none of the characters are likable, the plot silly, but it is, nonetheless, a page turner, especially the last half. Not sure how Ozick managed that, maybe it was part of her intent, but still just a good book.

3 1/2 stars
Apr TIOLI #18
12 in 12 #7
Orange SL, 2012

182alcottacre
Apr 17, 2012, 4:03pm Top

*waving* at Brenda

183brenpike
Apr 17, 2012, 5:36pm Top

It's STASIA! Hi Stasia. Are you rejoining the land of LT?
Assuming your workload has eased up . . . True?

184alcottacre
Apr 17, 2012, 8:07pm Top

For 2 weeks, it is true. Then I start my next session of school.

185brenpike
Apr 18, 2012, 1:17am Top

Nice to "see" you. How are you?

186avatiakh
Apr 18, 2012, 1:33am Top

Good to see a positive review for Foreign Bodies, I got hold of a copy late last year but still haven't read it. I've enjoyed the little Ozick that I've read so far.

187Donna828
Apr 18, 2012, 11:25am Top

181: Hmmm...silly plot, unlikeable characters. Foreign Bodies sounds a little bit like The Enchanted April in those respects. I've been curious about it since the Orange longlist was announced. Making the short list really got my attention. Thanks for your comments, Brenda. I do like a good "page turner" -- don't we all?

188brenpike
Apr 18, 2012, 5:29pm Top

But, wait . . . I liked The Enchanted April. Those characters were likeable and I can totally go with a month long vacation in Italy for the plot. Foreign Bodies, set in the early 1950s, just didn't ring true in some ways. The 50 something protagonist actually took orders from a brother she'd not been around for years to look for a nephew she had never met . . . Did women of the mid 20th century still follow their brothers orders? I just kept thinking "why is she putting herself out to do what her brother wouldn't do himself!"

As far as being selected for the Orange Short List . . . There were other long listers I thought better.

189brenpike
Apr 18, 2012, 5:57pm Top

76. The Girls of Slender Means Muriel Spark

1945, London, May of Teck Club, First rule of Constitution: The May of Teck Club exists for the Pecuniary Convenience and Social Protection of Ladies of Slender Means below the age of Thirty Years, who are obliged to reside apart from their Families in order to follow an Occupation in London.
A (mostly) funny story, with a sad ending, about the residents of the house trying to recover a life after the horrors of the war.

3 1/2 stars
Apr TIOLI #22
12 in 12 #5

190brenpike
Apr 20, 2012, 10:49pm Top

77. The Forgotten Waltz Anne Enright

Like her Booker winner The Gathering, Enright's latest book focuses on relationships under stress. Here Gina, a married 30-something woman, embarks on an affair with a married man she met through her sister's family. The story is told out of order chronologically as the relationship to Sean and to other members of their families develop. Enright's writing is sparse and raw, making the characters, their emotions and their experiences very believable.

3 1/2 stars
Apr TIOLI #1
12 in 12 #7
Orange SL, 2012

191brenpike
Apr 20, 2012, 11:01pm Top

77. The Forgotten Waltz Anne Enright

Like her Booker winner The Gathering, Enright's latest novel is about relationships under stress. Here Gina, a married 30-something woman embarks on an affair with a married man who she met through her sister's family. The story, told out of chronological order, focuses on how the developing affair effects their connection to each other and to other people in their lives. Enright's writing is spare, raw, and effectively conveys the emotional strain of her characters.

3 1/2 stars
Apr TIOLI #1
12 in 12 #7
Orange SL, 2012

192brenpike
Apr 20, 2012, 11:05pm Top

78. The Lover's Dictionary David Levithan

A very clever little novel which reads more like poetry. Levithan structured the story into a dictionary format allowing the reader the piece together the history of the narrators relationship to his lover. Recommended.

4 stars
Apr TIOLI #1
12 in 12 #10

193lkernagh
Apr 21, 2012, 1:45am Top

I wasn't a fan of The Gathering so I am happy to see that I can safely pass on The Forgotten Waltz and not feel like I am missing out on anything.

194brenpike
Apr 21, 2012, 10:50am Top

Hi Lori. Welcome! I think you are right in thinking you will not enjoy The Forgotten Waltz if you did not like The Gathering. She is definitely not a "feel good" writer . . .

I'm off to look at your threads . . .

195drneutron
Apr 21, 2012, 7:51pm Top

Congrats on 75!

196ronincats
Apr 21, 2012, 8:30pm Top

How did I miss that? Congratulations on passing the 75 book mark. You are on a roll this year!

197brenpike
Apr 21, 2012, 9:47pm Top

Thanks Jim and Roni.

198feca67
Apr 22, 2012, 1:25pm Top

wow 75 in four months - what's your secret?

199brenpike
Apr 22, 2012, 11:00pm Top

Retired empty nester . . . : )

200brenpike
Edited: Apr 23, 2012, 12:18pm Top

79. Woe to Live On Daniel Woodrell

I love this book! It was the first of Woodrell's work I read, probably 15-18 years ago. Since then I have read most, if not all, of Woodrell's other novels and stories. He always tells a compelling story with well-developed characters, but what I appreciate most about his writing is his writing! The voices of his characters are so authentic and his prose is almost lyrical. I was privileged to meet Mr. Woodrell years ago when I served on a library committee which awarded him a literary prize. He was as likeable as his books are.
Highly recommended.

5 stars
Apr TIOLI #21
12 in 12 #8

201brenpike
Apr 24, 2012, 3:06pm Top

80. The Song of Achilles Madeline Miller

A great debut novel for Miller. A retelling of the Iliad from the perspective of Patroclus, the exiled prince who would become Achilles life long friend and companion. Very well written, well paced, a page turner, definitely. Highly recommended.

4 1/2 stars
Apr TIOLI #11
12 in 12 #2
Orange SL, 2012

202Donna828
Apr 24, 2012, 3:14pm Top

Great review of Woe to Live On, Brenda. Daniel Woodrell is indeed a gifted writer. I almost jumped up and down when I found his Tomato Red at the book sale last night. I hope I score some more of his books in KC in June.

Adding my congrats to your 75+ books read this year. You are amazing!

203kidzdoc
Apr 24, 2012, 6:54pm Top

>201 brenpike: I think we'll have everyone buying and reading The Song of Achilles by the end of the month!

204brenpike
Apr 25, 2012, 12:01am Top

Thanks Donna. I enjoyed my re-read of Woe to Live On so much, I'm considering revisiting his other books again. I remember loving Tomato Red. Maybe a choice for an upcoming Missouri Readers selection?

Hi Darrell. I enjoyed The Song of Achilles very much. As you said in your review, I have not read the Iliad and am basically naive about this classic. I also thought Miller did a great job of making it "accessible to the masses." It is definitely my favorite of the shortlisted books so far. I have ordered Painter of Silence to finish up on the list . . . It's going to have to be pretty great to surpass TSOA for me.

205brenpike
Apr 26, 2012, 7:33pm Top

81. April in Paris Michael Wallner

This novel, set in Paris during the German Occupation in WWII, is a story about a young German soldier who falls for a French Resistance worker. Roth worked as an interpreter for the Gestapo during the day, but in his off hours he dressed as a civilian and lost himself on the streets of Paris. Predictably, he meets a young French resistance member and is arrested by his own soldiers after a bombing in a nightclub. The story was somewhat thin as was character development and the writing was uneven. Not a book I would recommend.

3 stars
Apr TIOLI #9
12 in 12 #12

206tloeffler
Apr 26, 2012, 8:19pm Top

FYI, Brenda, Tomato Red is already in the MO Readers hat!

207brenpike
Apr 26, 2012, 9:19pm Top

Good . . . Donna reported she bought a copy at her library's book sale last week, so she's set! I'm keeping my eyes peeled for any Woodrell book at this point . . . For me, you, Donna, whoever . . .

208sjmccreary
Apr 26, 2012, 9:57pm Top

Brenda - you've been doing some heavy-duty reading lately. I've only skimmed your list. I want to go back and read more carefully, but I'm worried about the impact on my wishlist!

I'm looking forward to the meet-up in June. I love Jose Peppers - it's one of my favorite lunch places when I want a treat. Do you know if BJ or Cindy will be able to drive up from Okla?

209brenpike
Apr 27, 2012, 12:00am Top

I haven't heard . . . Donna mentioned some time back she would post a formal LT meet-up notice, but I'm not sure when. I did notice she'd mentioned it to Cindy on one of the threads. It would be nice to have a large group again. Terri is planning to come for the 14th and 15th. I thought maybe we could do the JoCo book sale on the 14th and maybe revisit Prospero's or even come to Lawrence on the 15th. The Eldridge (referred to in Woe) is still in business and a very nice place to meet and eat. It is directly across the street from a (bulging at the seams) used bookstore and just down the block from The Raven, a very cool independent book store. Does your work schedule allow you two consecutive play days?

210Donna828
Apr 27, 2012, 7:49am Top

209: Brenda, I always knew you were a book temptress, but now you are tempting me to revise my June schedule. It will probably be early June before I know for certain what's going on then, but I'd love to visit Lawrence. Mike Davis will also be at the JoCo book sale meetup. Haven't heard from Cindy or BJ about it.

211countrylife
Apr 27, 2012, 9:11am Top

I've put it on my calendar, but haven't spoken to hubs about it yet. The potential book buying may be too dangerous for me and my slim pocketbook, but it sure sounds like fun. If we (I'd probably invite my mother again) come to this one, it is far enough that we'll need the overnight, anyway, so we'd do both days.

212brenpike
Apr 27, 2012, 9:58am Top

Woo Hoo . .

213brenpike
Apr 28, 2012, 4:11pm Top

82. Clair de Lune Jetta Carleton

Carleton's newly published novel is set in Missouri, 1941. Young, single Allen Liles is hired to teach at a small town junior college. She is grateful for the job, highly encouraged by her mother (a teacher), but really yearns for a life as a writer in a metropolitan setting. The story does have a romantic component, but is more about her resistance to the role she is being asked to play based on her gender. As in The Moonflower Vine, Carleton's writing very aptly conveys the thoughts and emotions of her characters. This story is pegged as innocent, but I thought it more naive, perhaps due to the era in which it was written. The notes at the end of the story indicate Carleton worked on this manuscript for many years, sharing it with a friend who led to it's "discovery" after Carleton's death in 1999. Based on Carleton's own career in the publishing industry I wondered if (1) the story was somewhat autobiographical and if (2) she was never quite happy enough with the book to let it go.

3 1/2 stars
Apr TIOLI #20
12 in 12 #8

214sjmccreary
Apr 28, 2012, 6:19pm Top

#208 So, I did go back through this thread and ended up with 10 new books on the wishlist. Thanks. ;-)

215brenpike
Apr 28, 2012, 8:49pm Top

Sandy, Which ten did you choose?

216sjmccreary
Apr 29, 2012, 1:09am Top

1. The Coldest March by Susan Solomon
2. Gillespie and I by Jane Harris
3. My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira
4. Island of Wings by Karin Altenberg
5. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (I thought this one was already on my list, but it wasn't)
6. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
7. Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick
8. The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark
9. The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
10. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

There were a couple of others that looked interesting, but I couldn't find them at the library. And there were some that I already have. And, of course, I didn't read your comments about Clair de Lune since I already know I'll be reading that one soon.

Now, what I REALLY need is more time for reading!

217alcottacre
Apr 29, 2012, 1:16am Top




A belated celebration of the 75!

218brenpike
Apr 29, 2012, 1:44am Top

Good choices Sandy . . .

Thanks so much Stasia!

219Donna828
Apr 29, 2012, 10:39am Top

Those are some interesting comments on Clair de Lune, Brenda. I don't expect to love it as much as I did Moonflower Vine but I'm still looking forward to reading it. I wonder if they'll find another one of her books in the proverbial attic? Lol.

220brenpike
Apr 29, 2012, 4:27pm Top

Or in someone else's barn or attic . . . Apparently a manuscript was lost in a tornado! Yikes!

221brenpike
Apr 29, 2012, 9:42pm Top

83. A Rule Against Murder Louise Penny

Installment #4 in the Three Pines series. This setting is a nearby lodge (rather than Three Pines itself) where Inspector Gamache is vacationing with his wife. We become more familiar with Clara and Peter Morrow and learn something of Gamache's own past as this story unfolds. I am not a huge fan of mysteries, but I am attached to the characters Penny has created, so I will keep reading.

3 1/2 stars
Apr TIOLI #1
12 in 12 #10

222brenpike
Apr 29, 2012, 10:51pm Top

84. Jaguar of Sweet Laughter: New and Selected Poems Diane Ackerman

"Ranging from a backyard colloquy with a deer to an anxious hospital vigil, from the exploding abundance of the Amazon rain forest to the icy wastes of Anarctica, Diane Ackerman's poems are passionately felt and precisely observed."
(From the book jacket)
I am fascinated by Ackerman's adventures and her writing.
Having read her prose, I thought it time to sample her poetry.

4 stars
Apr TIOLI #15
12 in 12 #12

223brenpike
Apr 30, 2012, 10:39pm Top

85. Dead End in Norvelt Jack Gantos

This year's Newbery Medal winner. An amusing story about a 12 year old boy who is grounded for the summer. He does, however, end up learning a lot about life as he assists an elderly neighbor with her obituary writing (and other) chores.
Funny and heartwarming.

4 stars
Apr TIOLI #19
12 in 12 #3

224alcottacre
Apr 30, 2012, 10:41pm Top

#223: I will have to look for that one. Thanks for the recommendation, Brenda!

225brenpike
Apr 30, 2012, 10:47pm Top

Hi Stasia. Nice to see you around. Hope you enjoy the Gantos book.

226alcottacre
Apr 30, 2012, 10:48pm Top

Thanks!

227brenpike
May 1, 2012, 4:41pm Top

Woo Hoo! Got notification today that I've won my first Early Reviewers book The Red House by Mark Haddon . . .

228countrylife
May 9, 2012, 4:10pm Top

Congratulations! I"m in love with E.R.!

229brenpike
May 11, 2012, 1:19am Top

86. At Home: A Short History of Private Life Bill Bryson

Shock full of fascinating historical facts, Bryson meanders through the rooms of his house and launches into one story after another, all in his inimitable style. At over 500 pages (with over 500 sources listed), not a quick read, but worth the time. I would like to meet Bryson and hear about his creative process. His curiosity is infectious.

4 stars
May TIOLI #3
12 in 12 #9

230brenpike
May 11, 2012, 1:24am Top

87. Down and Out in Paris and London George Orwell

Orwell's first book, a memoir about his time, during the 1930s, in the two great cities. His descriptions of poverty level conditions in both are unforgettable.

3 1/2 stars
May TIOLI #16
12 in 12 #11

231brenpike
May 11, 2012, 10:31pm Top

88. Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father John Matteson

Matteson's double biography of Louisa May Alcott and her father, Bronson Alcott, won a Pulitzer Prize in 2008. Well researched and evenly written, a very readable history of both individuals. Theirs were interesting lives and Matteson ably covers all aspects including their transcendentalism and their friendships with the era's great thinkers/writers.

4 stars
May TIOLI #4
12 in 12 #4

232ronincats
May 12, 2012, 12:33am Top

Aaargh, I'm hit with a Book Bullet on that last one, Brenda!

233brenpike
May 14, 2012, 12:49pm Top

89. Painter of Silence Georgina Harding

Set in Romania before, during and after WWII, and told in sequences from different perspectives, this story is a sad and sweet tale of a deaf/mute boy turned man over the years of the book. Born to the cook of wealthy landowners, Augustin is the same age as their oldest child, a girl, Safta. Theirs is a complex but lasting relationship and forms the core of the story. Harding's ability to create images through her writing is wonderful. I was able to sense a new familiarity with the land and the people of that era.
Highly recommended.

4 1/2 stars
May TIOLI #4
12 in 12 #7
Orange SL, 2012

234brenpike
May 14, 2012, 5:07pm Top

90. A Monster Calls: Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd Patrick Ness

Siobhan Dowd spent twenty years as a human rights campaigner for PEN and Amnesty International before her first novel, A Swift Cry, was published in 2006. She won the Carnegie Medla posthumously in 2009, after dying at age 47. Ness' notes relate that he never met Dowd, except through her novels, and hesitated, when asked, to turn the characters/premise/beginning into what would have been her fifth novel. As readers, we are fortunate he did take on the enormous task. This touching story, complete with illustrations by Jim Kay, centers around Conor, a 13 year old boy, whose mother is dying of cancer. A significant contribution to the field of YA literature.
Highly recommended.

5 stars
May TIOLI #3
12 in 12 #5

235brenpike
May 14, 2012, 5:11pm Top

91. Missed Connections: Love, Lost & Found Sophie Blackall

Award winning artist, Sophie Blackall illustrates her favorite Missed Connection classified ads in wonderful paintings that are accordingly tender, poignant, funny and mysterious. Very fun.

4 stars
May TIOLI #4
12 in 12 #5

236Nancy618
May 16, 2012, 10:21am Top

Hi Brenda! It's about time I dropped in on your thread! And what an interesting and busy thread it is! I am just stunned by the number of books you've read this year.... and now my TBR list is even longer than before. ;-)
I've been asking Donna about a K.C. Meet-Up thread and she said there wasn't an official one yet, but that there was lots of talk on your thread about it. I'm still planning to come to the JoCo Sale, but don't know yet if I'll be able to go to Lawrence. I'm sure looking forward to seeing everyone --and finding lots of good books at the sale!
I've got to go back up and take a closer look at the list of books you've read -- I know I didn't take it all in the first time. Even though I probably won't say much on your thread, I'll be lurking around! See you soon!!

237brenpike
May 16, 2012, 9:33pm Top

Hi Nancy. Glad to see your face/name here! Your message prompted me to get on track with finalizing our Jun Meet-Up plans. The updates are posted on the KC Meet-Up thread and basically report our second day of meet-up in Lawrence on the 15th for more adventures with books, food and friends (maybe a little history thrown in later in the day).
I am really hoping both you and Donna will be able to hang around for day 2 . . .gonna be some fun!
Looking forward to seeing you soon . . .

238brenpike
May 16, 2012, 9:53pm Top

92. The Jump Artist Austin Ratner

Thanks, again, to Kerry (avatiakh) for introducing me to Philippe Halsman. From my earlier reading of his (mostly) photography books, I was becoming familiar with his fascinating pictures. What I did not know is that his early life was so interesting. First time novelist, Austin Ratner, has fictionalized Halsman's biography in an effective and significant book. Latvian by birth, Halsman was accused of murder after his father's death in a hiking accident while the family vacationed in Austria. The year was 1928 and because of the family's Jewish background, young Halsman was essentially railroaded and spent two years in prison. After his release, he moved to Paris to resume his studies in engineering. It was there he discovered photography and became well-known for his work. He (after his wife and children, mother, sister's family) was able to immigrate to America after Einstein interceded on his behalf. Very interesting reading.

4 stars
May TIOLI #15
12 in 12 #1

239avatiakh
May 16, 2012, 10:09pm Top

Good to see a strong endorsement for A monster calls. I loved this and all Dowd's books. Ness is a wonderful talent, can't wait to see what he does next.
I'm reading The Jump Artist right now!

240brenpike
May 17, 2012, 3:20am Top

Hi Kerry. I've not read any of Dowd's work . . . And I agree that Ness is very talented. I was really touched by a monster calls.
Can't wait to see what you think of The Jump Artist! Again, thanks for the introduction to Halsman. I recognize some of his iconic pieces, of course, but am so happy to become more familiar with his work and his life history. Any other books you would recommend about him?

241brenpike
May 19, 2012, 11:58pm Top

93. Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea Barbara Demick

Written by award winning journalist Demick, Nothing to Envy follows the lives of six North Koreans over a period of 15 years when Kim Il-sung died, his son Kim Jong-Il rose to power unchallenged, and famine killed 1/5 of the North Korean population. A satellite photo of North and South Korea taken by night (shown on the first page) is symbolic. What it shows is brilliantly lit areas, some almost solidly, below the 38th parallel demarcation that is the border between North and South Korea. Above the line is total blackness. An impression that will stay with me a long time. Recommended.

4 stars
May TIOLI #21
12 in 12 #5

242kidzdoc
May 20, 2012, 10:39am Top

Nice review of Nothing to Envy; I need to get to it this year.

243brenpike
May 20, 2012, 9:31pm Top

Hi Darryl. Thanks . . . Reading about North Korea was a real eye opener for me. I must have been very distracted during the 90's (with young children at home) to have missed this news!?

244brenpike
May 21, 2012, 2:21pm Top

94. Sala's Gift: My Mother's Holocaust Story Ann Kirschner

In 1991, prior to surgery, Kirschner's mother presented her with more than 350 letters, photographs and a diary. It was the first time Sala's daughter knew about her holocaust experience. She had survived 5 years in 7 different Nazi work camps from the age of 16 when she agreed to take the place of her sister who had been summoned to the labor camp. The remarkable part of the story and of Kirschner's book is the fact that this courageous individual was able to hold onto her own piece of history through the ordeal which left more than 50 members of her extended family dead.

3 1/2 stars
May TIOLI 14
12 in 12 #11

245brenpike
May 25, 2012, 5:10am Top

95. Remarkable Creatures Tracy Chevalier

Biographical fiction about paleontologist, Mary Anning, and her friend and fellow collector, Elizabeth Philpot. Set in Lyme, England during the early 19th century, a well-researched, easy to read, book.

4 stars
May TIOLI #15
12 in 12 #8

246qebo
May 25, 2012, 8:22am Top

I was drawn into the science of Remarkable Creatures, but didn't care for the concocted romance and the portrayal of a real (and apparently decent) man as a cad. As followup, I got a biography of Mary Anning, The Fossil Hunter, which I have not yet read.

Nothing to Envy was a standout among books I read last year. Barbara Demick's book about Sarajevo has been republished, with a chapter bringing things up to date. It's on my agenda for later this year.

247countrylife
May 25, 2012, 8:57am Top

Nothing to Envy has been on my wishlist since I first saw a review here. The more I hear, the more I look forward to reading about it. Missed Connections looks fun. One of the reviews had a link to her blog where I got to see some of the paintings and stories.

248brenpike
May 25, 2012, 11:43am Top

Hi quebo and Cindy. I have to agree about the romance in Remarkable Creatures and always prefer the non-fiction version, so I'll be checking out Thr Fossil Hunter. Thanks for mentioning it.

Nothing to Envy was an eye-opener for me. I didn't realize how bad things were in N. Korea. Her book on Sarajevo sounds interesting.

Cindy, Hope you get a chance to check out Missed Connections. Fun is the perfect description for these quirky mini stories. . . And I really liked the art.

249brenpike
May 25, 2012, 2:37pm Top

96. Fieldwork Mischa Berlinski

An outstanding debut novel! When journalist Mischa Berlinski (also the name of the book's protagonist) gets a tip from a friend about an American anthropologist who has committed suicide in a Thai prison, he has no idea how absolutely obsessed he will become by her and the mystery of her life and death. His search takes him to the family of her victim, a fourth generation missionary, and into the culture of the Thai hill tribes, whose way of life becomes a battleground for two competing ways of looking at the world. Berlinski's writing is compelling, his characters incredibly interesting, an authentic mystery set against a fascinating backdrop of anthropology and religion. Thanks to Madeline (squeakychu) for the recommendation, one I enthusiastically second.

4 1/2 stars
May TIOLI #13
12 in 12 #8

250brenpike
May 26, 2012, 3:52pm Top

97. Heft Liz Moore

A story told from two different narrators whose paths coincide at the end of the book. Set in New York City, Arthur, a 58 yr old, overweight recluse struggles to set his life on the right path again after receiving a letter from a former student asking him to tutor her son. The son, 18 yr old Kel, has his own challenges as he is forced to deal with his mother's dysfunction and finally suicide. Interesting, quick read.

3 1/2 stars
May TIOLI #14
12 in 12 #12

251avatiakh
May 26, 2012, 4:13pm Top

#240: I'm still going on The Jump Artist and am enjoying it. Reading at a slower pace this month. The Halsman books I've come across so far have all been mentioned on my thread, I don't think there's a non-fiction biography of him.

I enjoyed Remarkable Creatures so am adding The Fossil Hunter to my list. Taking note of Fieldwork as well.

252brenpike
May 26, 2012, 5:49pm Top

98. Missing May Cynthia Rylant

Newberry Medalist YA fiction dealing with death, loneliness, companionship.

3 1/2 stars
May TIOLI #18
12 in 12 #5

253brenpike
May 27, 2012, 10:04pm Top

99. The Brutal Telling Louise Penny

5th installment in the Chief Inspector Gamache/Three Pines mystery series. Lots of twists and turns, as usual. Lots of witty repartee by the regulars of Three Pines and the Surete police team. Unhappily, one of the major characters goes down at the end of this book. : (

3 1/2 stars
May TIOLI #10
12 in 12 #12

254thornton37814
May 28, 2012, 8:34am Top

I can't wait for you to read the 6th installment. It's my favorite in the series! I think you'll like it.

255brenpike
May 28, 2012, 12:01pm Top

Hi Lori. I admit I (kinda) scanned the reviews enough to know there will be some kind of reversal or at least a resolution of the unhappy ending in TBT. And, #6 has, by far, the best cover! . . . : )

256brenpike
Edited: May 30, 2012, 4:50pm Top

100. Through Black Spruce Joseph Boyden

Set in northern Ontario, the story centers around Cree natives, Will Bird, and his niece, Annie. Told very effectively in alternating chapters from Annie's perspective and Will's, their history is pieced together. . . my favorite type of mystery. I will definitely read Three Day Road which is the prequel to this novel. Recommended.

4 1/2 stars
May TIOLI #5
12 in 12 #5

This topic was continued by brenpike reads--part 2.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2012

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