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countrylife counts her reads in 2012

75 Books Challenge for 2012

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Edited: Jan 20, 2012, 9:20am Top

Hello and welcome to any who happen upon my thread. My name is Cindy and I am a middle-aged reader from the midwest part of the States. Married for 31 years, and mother of five, I have three in college and two in high school, all voracious readers. BC, I was an executive secretary. I've been a member of LT for almost five years, but was slow to find the 75; this is only my second year with this group.

My Favorite Genres:
My reading taste runs to historical fiction, biographies and memoirs, though between this lively bunch with your great recommendations, and SqueakyChu's TIOLIs, my reading horizons (and Mt. Toobie) have greatly expanded.

My Books:
We moved just before Christ-mas last year from a large house (with room for a library) into a tiny house, and are still trying to get enough book cases built, so books can finally be unpacked. Basically, my library is still in boxes, so I've become a habitue at my 'local' (15 miles away) library. My library in the picture above is pre-move.

Jan 3, 2012, 12:18pm Top

About my '75 Books Challenge for 2012' Reading List:

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

Ratings are purely arbitrary, and subject to change. I seldom return to a post to change a rating after further thought has prompted me to do so in my catalog. Discrepancies abound!

Reviews are one of my favorite things on LT, so for my own amusement, I try to add a short review to my books. For fun, watch me get flustered trying to catch up with myself.

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

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

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

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

Past Challenges:
(Because if I don't keep everything together, I'm bound to lose it.)

75 Books in 2011:
..........Thread One and Thread Two.

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

The 11 in 11 Category Challenge:
..........The group. and My thread. (I had a hard time keeping up with everything I wanted to do on LT in '11, so I'm skipping 12 in 12 while I concentrate on getting more moved in, and hope to participate in 13.)

Edited: Jan 4, 2012, 1:59pm Top

2011 Summation:

Books read: 153
Pages read: 38,466

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

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

Edited: Feb 2, 2012, 3:36pm Top

January Reads:
1. Oblivion's Altar by David Marion Wilkinson (historical fiction) 5 stars
2. A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel (memoir) 3.3 stars
3. Mrs. Mike by Benedict Freedman (novel based on a true story) 3.9 stars
4. A Thousand Years of Good Prayers by Yiyun Li (short stories) 2 stars
5. The Sisters by Nancy Jensen (fiction) 3.5 stars
6. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen 3.5 stars
7. Persuasion by Jane Austen - 4 stars
8. Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Stewart - 3.3 stars
9. True Believer by Nicholas Sparks - 2.8
10. Why Did Cherokees Move West by Judith Pinkerton Josephson - 2
11. Home to Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani - 2.3

Books Read: 11
Pages Read: 3106
Favorite January Book: Oblivion's Altar by David Marion Wilkinson

Edited: Mar 8, 2012, 11:29am Top

February Reads:
12. The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott - 4
13. All I Want by Shayne Parkinson - 3.8
14. Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim - 3.7
15. February by Lisa Moore - 3.4
16. Jezebel's Daughter by Wilkie Collins - 4.3
17. I See You Everywhere by Julia Glass - 2
18. Searching for David's Heart by Cherie Bennett - 2.8
19. Change of Heart by Fran Shaff - 1
20. A Week's Tramp in Dickens-Land by William R. Hughes - 2
21. The Making of the African Queen by Katherine Hepburn - 3
22. Alice's Tulips by Sandra Dallas - 3.3
23. Still Life with Murder by P.B. Ryan - 3.9
24. The Personal History of Rachel Dupree by Ann Weisgarber - 3.5
25. After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson - 3
26. The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry - 3.2
27. River of Earth by James Still - 3.7

Books read: 16
Pages read: 3,807
Favorite book from February: Jezebel's Daughter

Edited: Apr 3, 2012, 4:09pm Top

March Reads:
28. A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl's Journal, 1830-32 by Joan Blos - 4.2 stars
29. Why Do Men Have Nipples by Mark Leyner - 2.2
30. A Place of Secrets by Rachel Hore - 3.7
31. Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay - 4.2
32. Juliette Gordon Low : Founder of the Girl Scouts of America by Deborah Kent - 3
33. The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill - 4.7
34. The Lilac House by Anita Nair - 4.5
35. Sergeant York and His People by Sam Cowan - 3.2
36. The Druid by Frank Delaney - 3
37. Violets of March by Sarah Jio - 3.5
38. Superfoods : Simple Breakfast Recipes - 2
39. March Violets by Philip Kerr - 4.1
40. Olivia's Touch by Peggy Stoks - 2.5
41. Consumption by Kevin Patterson - 3.6
42. March Toward the Thunder by Joseph Bruchac - 2.8

Books read: 15
Average rating: 3.41
Pages read: 3,548
Total shared TIOLIS: 2 (#21 and #23)
Favorite book from March: The Lilac House by Anita Nair

Edited: May 22, 2012, 1:11pm Top

April Reads:

43. The Secret Keeper by Brea Brown - 1 star
44. Once On This Island by Gloria Whelan - 3.5
45. On Little Wings by Regina Sirois - 3.7
46. When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man by Nick Dybek - 3
47. Horse Boy by Rupert Isaacson - 3.6
48. Daisy Miller by Henry James - 2.7
49. The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman - 3
50. Hana's Suitcase by Karen Levine - 3.5
51. Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin - 3.9
52. The Illuminator by Brenda Rickman Vantrease - 4.5
53. April Lady by Georgette Heyer - 2.8
54. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - 3.9

Books read: 12
Breakdown: eBooks-5, audio books-3, paper-4
Average rating: 3.26
Pages read: 3,657
Total shared TIOLIS: 3
Favorite book from April: The Illuminator by Brenda Rickman Vantrease

Edited: Jun 9, 2012, 11:22am Top

May Reads:
55. Song of the Crow by Layne Maheu - 2.5
56. Incentivize by Tom Spears - 3.4
57. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson - 4.2
58. As We Are Now y May Sarton - 3
59. 13 Rue Therese by Elena Mauli Shapiro - 2.2
60. Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott - 2.8
61. The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne - 3.5
62. A Country Year : Living the Questions by Sue Hubbell - 3.5
63. Cry Dance by Kirk Mitchell - 3.8
64. A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters - 3.9

Books read: 10
Breakdown: eBooks-2, audio books-4, paper-4
Average rating: 3.28
Pages read: 2,794
Total shared TIOLIS: 3
Favorite book from May: The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Edited: Jul 3, 2012, 4:14pm Top

June Reads:
65. Moloka'i by Alan Brennert - 3.9
66. Fire and Ice by Dana Stabanow - 3.2
67. Burnt Mountain by Anne Rivers Siddons - 3.2
68. Next to Love by Ellen Feldman - 4.2
69. Between Seasons by Aida Brassington - 2
70. The Branch and the Scaffold by Loren Estleman - 3.5
71. Found by June Oldham - 3.8
72. Justin Morgan Had a Horse by Marguerite Henry - 5
73. The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner - 3.5
74. Beachcombers by Nancy Thayer - 3.2
75. Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb - 4.5
76. The Edge of Winter by Luanne Rice - 3.7

Books read: 12
Breakdown: eBooks-2, audio books-5, paper-5
Average rating: 3.64
Pages read: 3,687
Total shared TIOLIS: 2
Favorite book from June: Justin Morgan had a Horse

Jan 3, 2012, 12:32pm Top

I want your shelves, waah!


Jan 3, 2012, 1:04pm Top

Hi Cindy. I look forward to following your reading this year. And I'm also looking forward to seeing your new bookcases when they're done. :)

Jan 3, 2012, 1:16pm Top

New bookcases or more bookcases!

Jan 3, 2012, 1:20pm Top

What a gorgeous library, Cindy! You must miss it very much.

Jan 3, 2012, 1:39pm Top

we all want that library!!!!

Jan 3, 2012, 2:24pm Top

Hi Cindy, I'll echo everyone else's comment: How could you leave that library? I hope your books find good new homes in your new home. My books are scattered throughout my house. I long for a BIG library to hold them -- and me!

After seeing your list of groups in Msg. 2, I'm not feeling as overwhelmed as I did when I logged on this morning and had to talk about one book in three groups! Small potatoes for you. ;-)

I'm really glad to see you back again, Cindy. Happy new year of reading to you.

Jan 3, 2012, 7:27pm Top

14> LIKE

I would LOVE to have that many bookshelves! I desperately need more!

Jan 3, 2012, 8:01pm Top

Hi Cindy - Nice shot of your well-stacked shelves. Hope this year gives you plenty of opportunity to sample from those shelves and add to them at your heart's content. Belated happy new year!

Jan 3, 2012, 8:47pm Top

Welcome back!

Jan 4, 2012, 12:17am Top

Glad to have you back with us again, Cindy! I hope to get to see you in Joplin again this year.

Jan 4, 2012, 2:01am Top

Happy New Year!

Jan 4, 2012, 10:01am Top

Thanks for stopping by. And a Happy New Year of reading to you all!

Jan 4, 2012, 10:04am Top

Making my way through the threads...
Happy New Year!

Jan 4, 2012, 3:00pm Top

Hi Cindy, looks like you are all set up for 2012 business. Looking forward to hearing about all your good reads this year!

Jan 4, 2012, 10:08pm Top

BTW, I was just wondering, are you planning on setting up a separate thread for your TIOLI Challenge - you know a place where we can post our covers?

Madeline has suggested a vote at the end of the month and she has offered a prize as well.

Jan 5, 2012, 10:45am Top

Whoops, I didn't check my own thread before posting on the main Take It or Leave It Thread. But, yes, I finally got around to it earlier this morning. Thanks for the prod! Thread's here: http://www.librarything.com/topic/130377

Jan 5, 2012, 3:08pm Top

Thanks Cindy. (See what whining gets you ...)

Jan 10, 2012, 12:58pm Top

Because I've been enjoying everyone's answers to the current meme, I decided to play, too.

Describe yourself: A daughter of the land
Describe how you feel: Joy for beginners
Describe where you currently live: Home
If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Latitudes of melt
Your favorite form of transportation: The horse and buggy doctor
Your best friend is: Great son
You and your friends are: Not becoming my mother
What’s the weather like: Icefields
You fear: The winter ghosts
What is the best advice you have to give: Please look after Mom
Thought for the day: All things wise and wonderful
How I would like to die: private peaceful
My soul’s present condition: The memory of love
... and because I thought the meme needed something about food ...
I'd like to have a little taste of: The sweetness at the bottom of the pie

And to include the other 'welcome' thing that's going around:

The #1 hit the year I was born:
Young Love by Tab Hunter

Edited: Jan 13, 2012, 1:32pm Top

Book #1

Oblivion's Altar by David Marion Wilkinson

===== My Review: =====

Oblivion stalks the Cherokee, and great men must rise and slay it at all costs.

Fascinating read! History brought vividly to life. The times, the settings, the people – wow! – the author did it all beautifully. In short, this is a story of courage – of Kah-nung-da-tla-geh, “The Man Who Walks the Mountaintops”, “Ridge Walker”, or “The Ridge”, chief of his clan, along with his son, John Ridge, and his nephew Elias Boudinot, both educated in the east.

Georgia was after the rich Cherokee land for their growing population. Jackson, placating Georgia to prevent it from uniting with South Carolina in civil war, chose to sacrifice the Cherokee nation.

Through every American president, the Cherokee had taken their advice: instituted elections and a government similar to the whites, sought education for their children as the whites did, became farmers, craftsmen, merchants and law men. “The Cherokee did everything we could. We exceeded all the American's expectations. We beat them in their own courts. Jackson let us play the game only because he hoped we'd lose it. Now that we've won, things will only get uglier.”

John and Elias, the first truly educated Cherokee, having come to manhood in the east, knowing how the whites think, and speaking both English and Cherokee, being asked to join the delegations to Washington, had a unique perspective on the politics of the time. They tried to convince Ridge that their lands were already stolen; it was just a matter of time before they were forced off. Better to go now. Choose the people over the land. A hard choice, since Cherokee revere their land. But the more The Ridge ponders their predicament, the firmer his realization that there is no alternative. This is the story of the Eastern Cherokee from 1776-1839, of the whites who took advantage of them, of some of their own with ulterior motives, and of these three courageous men who “chose the lesser of two unjust evils”. As The Ridge said, “The soil was never important. It's the Cherokee who are precious. The Ridge laid down his life to see his people endure.”

The only thing with which I found fault was that the story felt a little thin towards the end, even at 376 pages. Having read some of those documents, I found that some of the biggest indictments on the character of the principal chief, especially during the time of emigration, were not introduced into the story line. But even missing those, this was still a very compelling history of the times.

It seems unreal to me that the Cherokee still harbor ill will toward the one, through whose tough decisions, their nation was kept intact. Their website makes much of the chief who actually caused his people to have to march the Trail of Tears instead of taking the faster, easier water route, all in order to divert the government money intended for their transport to himself, and it has very little to say about Chief Ridge, who was actually the means to their nation enduring. The people of the nation that he saved still do not see the big picture. That is sad.

===== January list: Read #1– NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: historical fiction
Setting/Era: 1776-1839
Read: 1/10/2012
Pages: 376
Challenges: TIOLI #1, book set in a state mentioned in MLK speech
Stars: 5

Jan 13, 2012, 5:51pm Top

Oblivion's Altar looks very interesting, Cindy, this is one I will definitely be adding to my wishlist.

Jan 15, 2012, 5:48am Top

I'm just popping in to say thanks for stopping over at my thread, Cindy.

Love the photo -- it must have been hard to leave a house with a lovely library like that! Good luck with finding spots for all your books in your new home.

Oblivion's Altar looks fascinating; I must check to see if our library has it.

Jan 21, 2012, 4:26am Top

Oblivion's Altar looks just the sort of book I love Cindy. Straight onto the hitlist. Have a great weekend.

Jan 23, 2012, 3:04pm Top

Book #2

A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel

===== My Review: =====

I was charmed by this little memoir, and glad I chose the audio version, which was narrated by the author. Hearing her memories through the various shades and timbre of her speech put just the right zip in the vignettes from her childhood. Thoughtful and humorous and altogether winning.

===== January list > Read #2 – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: memoir
Read: 1/2/2012
Pages: 282
Challenges: #8 a title word can be a verb + another form of speech (named/adjective)
Stars: 3.3

Edited: Mar 8, 2012, 11:25am Top

Book #3

Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman

===== My Review: =====

“When little things are so important, it’s because there aren’t any big ones.”

This is the story of sixteen- year-old Katherine Mary O’Fallon, sent from her home in Boston to her Uncle’s in Canada for her health, where she falls in love with a Mountie. Presented as a novel, this book is based on a true story. Life in the wilderness of the north, with the mostly friendly people, in the mostly harsh weather, and the events they live through, make a fascinating story of the times (early 1900s). This is a love story, not just of husband and wife, but of love for people, and love for a place.

On losing a friend: ”She had had sorrow: her family, all her children, gone. But death does not stand at the end of life, it is all through it. It is the fear of losing, the knowledge of losing that makes love tender.”

The author’s writing was perfect for this story, from the setting of northern Alberta, Canada, to the local people, especially Oh-Be-Joyful, a young girl in their settlement. I found it a very interesting story, well-told.

===== January list (#3) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: fiction (based on true story)
Setting/Era: 1905-1914
Read: 1/6/2012
Pages: 302
TIOLI #4 – winter scene cover
12 in 12 - January/1st book by an author
Stars: 3.9

Jan 23, 2012, 3:49pm Top

32: now that you've read Zippy, you'll have to read She Got Up Off the Couch. I should take my own advice as I haven't read the sequel either. Think of what a great meme answer it would be. ;-)

Jan 23, 2012, 5:27pm Top

Mrs. Mike was a beautiful read, I was very impressed as I had heard about this book most of my life so I was afraid it had been over-hyped.

Jan 23, 2012, 8:45pm Top

HI Cindy

I started to read Zippy last year and then got sidetracked. Your review prompts me to try to find it on the shelf and start a new.

Jan 23, 2012, 11:22pm Top

I'm your fellow TIOLO shared reader of Zippy. I'm also listening to the audio version and like you, enjoying Haven Kimmel's reading of her story very much. I'm almost done. I've enjoyed the humor which sometimes make me LOL while I'm driving. Sometimes I feel that her outspokeness make her a modern version of Scout; other times I find her a bit annoying. All in all a fun journey.

It's nice to know about the sequel, and when I get through with my self-imposed ban on acquiring new books, I'll look for it.

Jan 23, 2012, 11:42pm Top

Zippy has been on my radar for awhile now. I just put a reserve on it for the audio version.

Edited: Mar 8, 2012, 11:24am Top

Book #4

A Thousand Years of Good Prayers by Yiyun Li

===== My Review: =====

Short stories set in China and the midwest United States. Topics: castration, suffering marriage, mental retardation, frigidity, crowded living conditions, death of a child, gender issues, murder, estranged children. Hopelessness. Not for me.

===== January list Read #4 – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: short stories, Chinese and Chineses Americans
Setting/Era: contemporary
Read: 1/13/2012
Pages: 205
Challenges: TIOLI #3: about China or Chinese immigrants
Reading Through Time: January theme: number in title
Stars: 2

Edited: Mar 8, 2012, 11:26am Top

Book #5

The Sisters by Nancy Jensen

===== My Review: =====
”Whatever we carry inside us shapes everyone we touch.”

The Sisters, young teens growing up in 1920s Kentucky, are suddenly separated. Hurried decisions and misunderstandings hem them in to lives they would not have chosen. Yet time marches on, and they go on to have daughters and grand-daughters of their own, each of them coming in to her own kind of strength, though none of them really understanding the other.

”They had all been raised up on secrets, things never expressed but linked through time to all the other members. . . . the tangled secrets and what they had wrought.”

Reading this story was to be carried along on a river of pain and poignancy, hoping for something around the next bend, not finding it, and still being swept along with hope filling your sail. Making something with what you have - it’s all any of us can do. Watching these women make their lives was an emotional reading experience. The characters, setting and story are full and nuanced; a well written first novel.

===== January list (#5)– NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: fiction, family secrets
Setting/Era: 1920s – 2000s
Read: 1/20/2012
Pages: 324
TIOLI #19: beverage mentioned on page 10 (coffee)
12 in 12: January/1st book by an author
Stars: 3.5

Jan 25, 2012, 6:54pm Top

Cindy, I like how you put a picture with your reviews. I might try that myself, sometime. :)

Jan 27, 2012, 11:51am Top

Book #6

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

===== My Review: =====
There’s a lot to like in this book: Sara Gruen wove her extensive research about the circus and events of the time into full and relevant threads of the story. (As opposed to something like Ahab’s Wife, which had the author’s research stuffed into every cranny she could find, whether it fit the story or not.) The seediness of train circus life, interplay between performers, workers, and bosses, day-to-day life with the animals, the difficulties of keeping a traveling circus alive during the Great Depression, health and societal issues of the time – Ms. Gruen made all that very real in Water for Elephants. It’s a man’s first-person voice, but written by a woman; I thought she did a decent job of that. In a dual time-line, one who was connected with a travelling circus in its waning days is reminiscing in a contemporary nursing home setting; she wrote the elderly Jake very convincingly also. I enjoyed the main character, and most of the story, with the exception of the cooch tent, which I thought could have been handled less graphically.

===== January list (#6) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: Fiction / circus, Great Depression, love triangle,
Setting/Era: 1930s / 2000s
Read: 1/23/2012
Pages: 350
Challenges: January TIOLI #5: form of transportation in title
Stars: 3.7

Jan 27, 2012, 12:00pm Top

I'm incredibly envious of that room above. I can picture spending hours there. Sad to have had to leave it!

Jan 30, 2012, 7:26am Top

43 Agreed! Are you making any progress with getting bookshelves up in the new house, Cindy? Even with a good local library, it would drive me crazy to have my books in boxes for long -- especially after leaving that!

Great reading and reviews here -- you're off to a great start for the year!

Jan 30, 2012, 7:15pm Top

I'm getting ideas for bookshelves on the walls, above the doors, along the ceilings, etc...

...too bad my husband is not much of a carpenter. Neither am I. Maybe I can get my dad to visit again. :)

Edited: Jan 31, 2012, 7:37am Top

My library now:

Or at least part of it. Many more tubs are in the garage; I just had to get the cardboard inside for storage. Downsizing is a laborious process! Strange house and strange dormer-cubby. Why my 15 year old helper decided to put the small box under the large ones, I have no idea.

Jan 31, 2012, 10:27am Top

Cindy - your "library" photo unspeakably sad. Hope you get the chance to upsize them back to a prominent display place as soon as poss.

Edited: Jan 31, 2012, 1:15pm Top

(46) You could put up bookshelves in that little hallway where the boxes of books are stored right now....


Re: your 15 year old helper: keep in mind that the brain of an infant does not acquire reason until it is at least 30-35 years old... ;)

Jan 31, 2012, 4:23pm Top

I'd love to have shelves, but not there. It's a strange, little, odd house. That is just a little floor space in front of a dormer window. The area on this side of that little fence is a stairwell, where I'm standing to take the picture. There is no way to get into that itty space aside of a 15 year old boy's agility. I don't know who planned this little layout, but look at how far it is from that window to the interior wall - they wasted a lot of tucked-in wall space that would have been better served as book shelf space.

Jan 31, 2012, 6:58pm Top

I hope you made a list of what is in each box and numbered the box! That's the trick to finding the books when you need them!

Jan 31, 2012, 7:41pm Top

Prior to this, I've always been able to baby my books for a move. I could pack and label 'em myself, while the movers did all the stuff that didn't matter. But this time, we had to move ourselves. That is a whole 'nother animal! I had to allow the munchki to do the library, while I did the kitchen and other breakables. It was a big job all around. I'm just glad my books came with me, even though they're unlabeled. It'll be like a nice surprise when we finally get to open a box or two.

Feb 1, 2012, 12:11am Top

Wow, Cindy it will be like a couple of Christmas rolled together when you finally get to open all those boxes. Should be fun.

Feb 1, 2012, 12:20pm Top

Cindy, is the house you're living in a rental or do you own it?

If *I* owned it, I'd take down that silly rail and put up bookshelves in that little 'hall'.

Feb 1, 2012, 1:42pm Top

Book #7

Persuasion by Jane Austen

===== My Review: =====
As far as Jane Austen movies go, Persuasion (the version with Amanda Root) is my second favorite Jane Austen film (after the six hour Pride and Prejudice). I found the ending of the book to be tediously drawn-out, while the film captured much the same territory more succinctly. I’m still in love with Miss Austen’s witty dialogue showing the ridiculous against the sensible. The thoughts of the two main characters as they so gradually come to their realizations seem so real, yet so lovely. And the letter scene! One of my favorites; and equally wonderful in book and film. A very enjoyable read!

===== January list (#7) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: fiction, British literature /romance
Setting/Era: contemporary early 1800s
Read: 1/27/2012
Pages: 272
Challenges: #7 : A posthumously published book
Stars: 4

Feb 1, 2012, 1:42pm Top

Book #8

Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinor Pruitt Stewart

===== My Review: =====
”To me, homesteading is the solution of all poverty’s problems, but I realize that temperament has much to do with success in any undertaking, and persons afraid of coyotes and work and loneliness had better let ranching alone. At the same time, any woman who can stand her own company, can see the beauty of the sunset, loves growing things and is willing to put in as much time at careful labor as she does over the washtub, will certainly succeed; will have independence, plenty to eat all the time, and a home of her own in the end.”

Elinor Pruitt takes her future into her own hands and heads to Wyoming with her young daughter. While proving up her own homestead, she keeps house and cooks for the bachelor at the next homestead, in this way making an income meantime. Her letters back home to her friend are full of the beauties of her surroundings, and accounts of encounters with neighbors, Mormons, wild creatures, and weather. The saved letters cover her years in Wyoming from 1909-1913. I would love to have letters such as these in my family history. They are full of emotion and fact and held me rapt for the duration of the book.

”Did you ever eat pork and beans heated in a frying-pan on a camp-fire for breakfast? Then if you have not, there is one delight left you. But you must be away out in Wyoming, with the morning sun just gilding the distant peaks, and your pork and beans must be out of a can, heated in a disreputable old frying-pan, served with coffee boiled in a battered old pail and drunk from a tomato-can. ”

===== January list (#8) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: memoir / homesteading, American west
Setting/Era: 1909-1913
Read: 1/28/2012
Pages: 320
Challenges: TIOLI #17: 3 or more letters of the same vowel
Stars: 3.3

Feb 2, 2012, 3:26pm Top

Book #9

True Believer by Nicholas Sparks

===== My Review: =====
Just a beach read, somewhat lame and predictable. A writer, whose best work involves debunking, is invited to come investigate mysterious lights in a cemetery in North Carolina, where a romance develops. I wasn’t enamored of any of these characters, and can’t abide stories where people fall in love with no other underlying attraction than looks. And speaking of that little problem, this was better than Twilight, but not by much.

===== January list (#9) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: Fiction, Romance / debunking, small towns, library, cemeteries, seers
Setting/Era: North Carolina / contemporary
Read: 1/29/2012
Pages: 322 in paper
Challenges: TIOLI #17 : 3 or more letters of same vowel
Stars: 2.8

Feb 2, 2012, 3:26pm Top

Book #10

Why Did Cherokees Move West by Judith Pinkerton Josephson and Susan Bivin Aller

===== My Review: =====
This is quite a nice looking book, full of pictures and interesting side notes. Looks like it would capture the eyes of its young readers. It gets a lot of its facts right, but like so much of what’s out there, it still has three big problems in its scholarship. (1) It ignores the contributions of The Ridge and the others who sacrificed their lives to ensure the continuation of the Cherokee race as a separate nation. (2) It ignores the devious, underhanded dealings of Principal Chief Ross, who negotiated with the government to grab for himself the contract for moving the remaining Cherokees west, with duplicity to both the American government and his own people, and who, instead of using the faster, easier water route which the American government had previously been using for their transportation, himself consigned them to the Trail of Tears for his own personal enrichment. And (3), on page 36, it says, “John Ross wanted to heal the Cherokee Nation.” The Old Settlers were perfectly willing to incorporate the new arrivals into their peaceful structure. But John Ross wanted to usurp authority to himself. It was because of his divisiveness that violence, conflict and murder was so rampant after the new arrivals joined the Old Settlers. Although it is a pretty book, it only garners two stars from me.

===== January list (#10) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: Children’s Nonfiction / Indians
Setting/Era: 1830s
Read: 1/31/2012
Pages: 48
Challenges: TIOLI #17: 3 or more letters of same vowel (e)
Stars: 2

Feb 2, 2012, 3:27pm Top

Book #11

Home to Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani

===== My Review: =====
Drawn to the cover on the thrift store shelf, I stood there and read a couple of pages. It passed the test, so I bought it. As it turns out, this is number four in a series. And apparently, not a series that works too well stepping smack into the middle of. Too many characters with too much backstory both implied and hurriedly trying to catch the reader up with. (Amn’t I a great review writer – two sentences in a row ending with prepositions!) There was good depth to the main characters, a married couple, but otherwise, too many straggling story lines that belonged to the series as a whole. It is not a series that I’ll continue with, though bits and pieces of this particular book were enjoyable.

===== January list (#11) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: southern fiction, / mountain life, small town life, married life, Italian Americans, recipes
Setting/Era: Virginia / contemporary
Read: 1/31/2012
Pages: 305
Challenges: TIOLI #4 : winter scene cover

Feb 2, 2012, 3:42pm Top

Hi Cindy, I recently read Cheyenne Autumn and found it so sad. These people were pulled this way and that at the whim of politicians, the army, the ever expanding growth of America, and the corrupt Department of Indian Affairs. It seems whether it was Cheyenne, Cherokee, or Apache - all Native American culture was doomed from the moment it came into contact with white people.

Feb 2, 2012, 6:22pm Top

Persuasion is one of my favorite movies. I seem to like it better every time I watch it.

Feb 2, 2012, 6:26pm Top

Cindy/Judy - one of my favourite subjects is the sad history of the native americans - studied it as part of an American history module at Warwick and hooked ever since.

Feb 2, 2012, 7:18pm Top

Letters of a Woman Homesteader sounds really interesting. I might add it to my TBR/Wish List!

And the pile goes ever larger.... ;)

Feb 3, 2012, 8:52am Top

Paul and Judy, you both used the word "sad" about the history of native Americans, and that is so apt. Aside from a vacation to Yellowstone 10 years ago, with a side trip to Little Big Horn, which included museums at our various stops, I really don't know much about Cheyenne or Sioux, or any of the other western tribes, beyond the little taught in grammar school. My heritage is Cherokee, and so has been most of my reading. It was so sad that this tribe jumped through every hoop set before them, in order to try to keep their homeland and live as neighbors, and yet were still forced out. There were good people (and bad) on both sides. The bad whites prevailed at the end (the governor of Georgia, especially) forcing their removal. And the bad Cherokees (especially principal chief Ross - only 1/8th Cherokee, by the way) turned that removal into a tragedy by keeping the money which was given by the government to move the tribe, and forcing them to walk it, instead. Judy, I followed your link to Cheyenne Autumn to refresh myself about the story (and found that I'd already thumbed your review!). I decided to add it to my wishlist; about time I expanded my reading to other tribes.

Feb 3, 2012, 8:53am Top

fuzzi, I REALLY enjoyed Letters of a Woman Homesteader. Yet, I see that I gave Letters a middling rating. That just seems wrong to me now. I have a hard time with ratings. How does one rate the various kinds of books? Do these letters sent to a friend deserve the same rating as a story crafted with the skill of an author like Jane Austen? As far as pure enjoyment factor, to me they were equal. One of these days, I can see myself sorting through my catalog by ranking, and tweaking things according to a bottom line of nothing more than pure enjoyment. How do you figure your stars?

Edited: Feb 3, 2012, 9:26am Top

I have Letters of a Woman Homesteader on Mt TBR. It's been sitting there several years so it's definitely one that I want to get to very soon.

If you're interested in the Sioux, my first audiobook this year was The Journey of Crazy Horse. The author is a Sioux tribal member. He drove home the humanity of this great leader in a way I haven't felt before. And his voice with his slight accent was perfect for the audiobook.

My ex-husband and kids have a small amount of Cherokee (the remnant of the tribe that ended up on the Oklahoma reservation). He has at least one cousin who is a tribal member.

Feb 3, 2012, 12:47pm Top

I star according to how much I enjoyed it, no matter if it was a children's picture book or a Jane Austen tome.

Sometimes I go back and adjust the star rating, upon second thought. I just did that with Irish Red, which I liked better than Outlaw Red. I gave the latter 3 1/2 stars, so I upped Irish Red to 4. And as far as I am concerned, it deserves 4. Others might not enjoy it as much.

Feb 4, 2012, 8:48am Top

I have a little bit of Cherokee from Oklahoma, too. In fact, I was born in OK. I think I'm 1/16th...which is pretty much nothing. :) But it's nice to feel diverse, anyway.

I agree that rating books is really difficult. Most of the time I rate based on how much I liked the book. But sometimes, I rate based on what the book was supposed to be (regardless of how much I liked it). For instance: I get less enjoyment out of dense historical tomes, but I can recognize good scholarship and think it's inappropriate to give a low star rating for that. Also, I read a lot of Christian Fiction for my bookclub. Most of the time, the quality of these books is lower than for books from mainstream publishers. These, I also give a little extra star buffer to. But I generally say in my review that I'm giving it a rating based on it's quality as a Christian Fiction book and not as, say, suspense, fantasy, etc. :) I want to be fair to the authors...and to the potential readers.

Feb 4, 2012, 10:14am Top

True Believer is for sure one of my least favorite Sparks books. He really took a nose dive there for a while.

Feb 4, 2012, 2:01pm Top

kreiman, True Believer was my first Nicholas Sparks read. I chose it for two reasons: I needed an audio book for a trip, and it fit a TIOLI! How discerning was I? Glad to hear that he has better ones out there.

Feb 6, 2012, 9:48am Top

streamsong and The_Hibernator, my blood is only 1/16th Cherokee, also. I guess it's fitting that, after living in five different states, I'm now basically retired and living just a couple of hours away from where I was born in Oklahoma. There is a lot of tribal and Indian news here. And the five civilized tribes museum is not that far away; I should visit there.

My son who went to university in Oklahoma was hoping to take advantage of one of the scholarship opportunities available to registered tribe members. Alas, he had to find other scholarships to pursue. My Cherokee forbear refused to register with the tribe after having been abandoned as an infant on a wood stack of a home which the trail of tears passed by.

Feb 6, 2012, 10:10am Top

Wow--think of that poor woman who was probably struggling to keep her baby alive during the march and had to rely on the kindess of the unknown (possibly enemy) white person she abandoned her child to.

XDH 's family story goes as follows. Apparently, his last name is very common on the Oklahoma res. His white male ancestor and said ancestor's Cherokee wife had 12 kids together. When it was time for the allotment of land in Oklahoma, the kids had to decide whether to register as tribal members and get the land, or to choose their father's heritage and live as whites. Half the kids chose one way, half the other. Most of the kids that chose to be called white broke off ties with their tribal member relatives and denied they had any Indian blood at all. XDH's grandmother was one of the stout deniers.

Feb 6, 2012, 12:15pm Top

Interesting story, streamsong. Wouldn't you love to get a chance to talk with all of them 150 years after the fact to hear how each side's stories played out?!

Feb 9, 2012, 7:35am Top

I've been lurking but I haven't said hello in awhile. Interesting stuff here, homesteaders and Cherokees. Thanks for the history lesson in post 57; I know only the vaguest outlines.

How does one rate the various kinds of books?
I'd twist myself into a pretzel trying to devise a fair and consistent system, so I don't rate books.

Feb 10, 2012, 3:46pm Top

Book #12

The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott

===== My Review: =====
This story caught and held my attention with its tale of a young woman yearning to do what she knows she excels at, while yet stuck in the drudgery of servitude. Tess takes the only way out that she can see and offers herself in service among the crowd waiting to board the Titanic at Cherbourg. So begins this fictional story of a young dressmaker working her way across the ocean for Lady Duff-Gordon, a real personage of the day, famous in the clothing design world, and for her actions at the time of the ship’s sinking. With a strong backbone of actual happenings upon the Titanic, in the sea after the tumult, and in the aftermath of the trials, the author’s story of Tess and her aspirations is woven through with an education of the times. Further enriching this story are the glimpses into the life of women journalists and other working women.

This was a very nicely done debut novel. Kate Alcott’s characters, both the real and fictional, were fully realized and felt true to their times and history. The lifeboat scenes seemed to be correctly portrayed, though, to my mind, they came across with more of a sense of detached emotion, and not the depth of feeling to the extent that the breadth of the story demanded. Her depictions of the ship and of New York felt quite real.

If you enjoy historical fiction, and have an interest in the Titanic, this is a book that I am happy to recommend.

===== February list (#12) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: historical fiction / Titanic, trials, classes
Setting/Era: Titanic, New York, Washington / 1912
Read: 2/3/2012
Pages: 320
Challenges: TIOLI #11 : 2 word title, first letter of first word coming after first letter of 2nd word.
Stars: 4

Feb 10, 2012, 10:54pm Top

Meet your categorisation of likely reader for The Dressmaker Cindy so I will try to get to it soon.

Feb 11, 2012, 12:53am Top


Like you, I was not impressed with Big Stone Gap, however, reading The Queen of the Big Time was fascinating for me because Trigiani based the story on a small Italian town (Roseto, PA) which was located a few miles from where I lived as a child.

Many of my friends lived in Roseto. The Big Time was an Italian festival held each summer.

Feb 11, 2012, 5:28am Top

I don't abandon many books, but Big Stone Gap is one that I abandoned before I reached the end. I've spent a lot of time in southwest Virginia over the years, plus I work with someone who lived in Big Stone Gap for several years, and I still couldn't finish it. I haven't been motivated to try any of the other books in the series since I didn't like the first one.

Feb 11, 2012, 10:32pm Top


I simply want to thank you for your lovely outreach. You are a kind, dear person and I appreciate you!

Edited: Feb 13, 2012, 11:39am Top

Book #13

All I Want by Shayne Parkinson

===== My Review: =====
This was a bittersweet story about a couple in New Zealand after the Great War, trying to make their farm and start their family. In such a short story, the author managed to bring their little corner of the land to life, and to weld your sympathies with her main character. I really liked this story and look forward to reading more from Shayne Parkinson.

===== February list (#13) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: historical fiction / marriage, childbearing
Setting/Era: 1920s – 1940s
Read: 2/5/2012
Pages: 39
Challenges: TIOLI #10 : first person title
Stars: 3.8

Feb 13, 2012, 11:39am Top

Book #14

Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim

===== My Review: =====
A yellow crocus heralds the coming of spring. Born into privilege, Miss Elizabeth is taught to look for that first flower by Mattie, the slave who has cared for her since birth. This story follows Lisbeth’s life from her growing up years in Virginia and into her adult life after her own first child is born. A parallel thread shows the life of Mattie and her family. I enjoyed the way the author wove those two stories together and thought she did a particularly skillful job of allowing her characters to remain true to their time, while yet showing how Lisbeth gradually came to realize what slavery was to slaves.

===== February list (#14) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: historical fiction / slavery, abolition
Setting/Era: Virginia, Ohio / 1830s – 1860s
Read: 2/6/2012
Pages: 238
Challenges: TIOLI #11: 2 Word Titled Book with 1st Letter of the 1st Word Coming After 1st Letter of the 2nd Word
Stars: 3.7

Feb 13, 2012, 12:21pm Top

Good job, keep up the good (reading) work! :)

Feb 14, 2012, 12:31am Top

HI Cindy

Congratulations on reading 14 books thus far!

Edited: Mar 8, 2012, 11:23am Top

Book #15

February by Lisa Moore

===== My Review: =====
A husband dies. Children, a wife, left behind. Chaotic thoughts. Random memories. Ifs. The author said how the rig went down, barebones telling. She said how a widow felt. How she went on with life. Or how her life went on anyway. How her children coped. Or didn’t.

Lisa Moore didn’t spare her saids and ors in telling this story. I suppose part of that is local speech pattern, and part of it is to show the chaos of sudden widow-hood. Her storytelling approach was very effective in showing one widow’s life in the aftermath of an awful tragedy. If, however, this is her normal way of writing, I don’t know that I would care for another dose in a different kind of story. For this one, though, it suits.

Life barrels through; it is gone. Something rushes through. The front door slams and then a door slams in the back; something burns on the stove; birthdays, brides and caskets, babies, bankruptcy, huge strokes of luck, the trees full of ice; gone.

February is built around the disaster of the sinking of the Ocean Ranger, a mobile offshore drilling unit, which sank in February 1982 in Canadian waters east of Newfoundland in the Grand Banks area, in a Perfect Storm kind of scenario which left no survivors. This was another educational read for me, as I do not remember this incident. Recommended historical novel.

===== February list (#15) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: historical fiction / disaster, widowhood
Setting/Era: 1982 – 2000s
Read: 2/10/2012
Pages: 310
Challenges: TIOLI # 1: Read a book with an animal on the left hand page, a beverage on the right hand page, and the number 3 in both page numbers. (34/wallabies, 35/water)
12 in 12: "February" challenge
Stars: 3.4

Feb 14, 2012, 2:28pm Top

Hi Cindy, I found you from Pinterest and just wanted to say hello! Looks like lots of great reading going on in your thread, plus I love looking at how people use TIOLI.

Feb 14, 2012, 8:00pm Top

Hi Cindy, Loved. Your review. Of February. Her choppy sentences reminded me of the choppy waters that sunk her husband's boat. Maybe that was the intention. Maybe. Still, I thought it was a pretty good picture of grief.

Feb 15, 2012, 9:38am Top

Greetings to all my visitors. And
>84 RosyLibrarian:. Hi, mbellerose. Two great Things, huh! LT and Pinterest!

>85 Donna828:. That's a great mind picture for it, Donna. And I agree - it was a very effective way to picture grief.

>82 Whisper1:. Linda, looks like we're about even on our number of reads so far again this year. If I didn't spend so much time lurking on your thread and adding books to my wishlist, maybe I'd actually pull ahead of you for once!

Edited: Feb 15, 2012, 9:42am Top

Book #16

Jezebel’s Daughter by Wilkie Collins

===== My Review: =====
Ah, the innocent love between man and maiden. What matters it that the man’s father is rich and above reproach, and the maiden’s mother is a poor widow and suspected of evil doings.

Who among us knows the capacity for wickedness that lies dormant in our natures, until the fatal event comes and calls it forth.

This was my first Wilkie Collins, and I thoroughly enjoyed his story and his characters. Although you know “whodunit” from the title, and from the early pages, you know the “how”, the story runs its course and takes you along for a ride in an 1880s suspense novel.

===== February list (#16) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: British literature, mystery / chemists, psychiatric treatment reform, workplace integration,
Setting/Era: London, England and Frankfurt, Germany / contemporary 1880s
Read: 2/11/2012
Pages: 238
Challenges: TIOLI #11: 2 Word Titled Book with 1st Letter of 1st Word coming After 1st Letter of 2nd Word
Stars: 4.2

Feb 15, 2012, 9:39am Top

Book #17

I See You Everywhere by Julia Glass

===== My Review: =====
I really MUST learn to abandon books that look, in the early stages, as if they’re not going to suit me. This thing kept not suiting me, yet I kept plowing through it. Starting in their young adulthood, this story follows two sisters with their history of sibling rivalry, and going their separate paths in life. Whining, bellyaching, bitching, moaning and complaining – that was basically the story here. I listened to the audio, and it wasn’t the two narrators’ voices, but the author’s words that felt like a screeching blackboard to my brain. Really – this thing kept screaming “abandon me”. I should have listened. I’m giving it an extra star, though, because maybe I just wasn’t the right reader for this book.

===== February list (#17) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: contemporary fiction / sisters, suicide, wildlife research, cancer
Setting/Era: Wyoming & Canada & someplace on the ocean, blech, who cares / contemporary
Read: 2/13/2012
Pages: 304
Challenges: TIOLI #10: First person title
Stars: 2

Feb 15, 2012, 9:44am Top

The Wilkie Collins book sounds like fun -- the Julia Glass book, not so much! I, too, have been working on giving up on books when they don't work for me. I always used to finish -- now, it's gotten a little easier to set something aside.

You've been reading some interesting stuff -- thanks for the reviews!

Feb 16, 2012, 10:27pm Top

Nice reviews. The one of February is pushing me a little closer to adding it to my list.

Feb 16, 2012, 10:34pm Top

88: a screeching blackboard to my brain... someplace on the ocean, blech, who cares

And you seemed like such a nice person... :-)

Feb 16, 2012, 11:20pm Top

>>#87 I keep meaning to get to more of Wilkie Collins' lesser-known works, and it keeps not happening. (Mary Elizabeth Braddon, too - I love sensation novels!)

Feb 17, 2012, 12:25am Top

>91 qebo:. Qebo, I could have phrased that better. My intent was to list all the various places where the different parts of the story were set. But there were so many of them that I gave up trying to keep up and just recalled the first and last and one location mid-book was someplace on the ocean. So, my "blech " had not to do with the ocean, but with the hated story and its too many settings.

Actually, the ocean is my favorite vacation spot, though my chance at it comes very seldom. Twice leaving Vancouver for the Inside Passage, if that counts, once on Cape Cod, and once on the coast of Maine, wonderful vacations every one. I finally have another trip upcoming - Cape Cod in the fall. My mother is afraid she's getting too old to travel, so wants one last trip to the ocean, and she chose the cape.

So all the ladies in the extended family who can, will be meeting up at this cozy, quaint little beach house that we found several years ago, to have a girls vacation. I'm hoping that there might be the chance of an LT meetup somewhere along the way.

Feb 17, 2012, 9:06am Top

93: So, my "blech " had not to do with the ocean, but with the hated story and its too many settings.
I assumed this. :-)

93: My mother is afraid she's getting too old to travel, so wants one last trip to the ocean, and she chose the cape.
My parents chose an educational Mediterranean cruise as their last real travel a few years ago, both in decent health but in their 80s now, and travel is more exhausting than it's worth to them.

Feb 17, 2012, 9:37am Top

Oh Cindy, that planned vacation for the "girls" in the family sounds divine. Cape Cod sounds like a perfect destination. I've never been there unless you count my dreams. ;-)

Feb 17, 2012, 9:49am Top

qebo, a Mediterranean cruise sounds wonderful, but like Donna said - in my dreams. After almost a year's unemployment, we have to do whatever we can on the cheap.

Feb 21, 2012, 10:13am Top

I should be crying tears of shame – I am such a book hog! I needed to travel six hours away for a bridal shower, so it was convenient for me to take my mother along, who wanted to visit with a friend in that area. This friend’s husband just retired, and they are in the process of selling everything they own to disencumber themselves in order to take as long as they please to hike the Appalachian Trail. Such a house! Book shelves everywhere! And every book one dollar. Needless to say, I did not leave empty-handed. And on top of that, when I got home, I found an envelope from an LT friend who shared some of her duplicate books with me! A greedy book-hog – that’s what I am!

Edited: Feb 21, 2012, 10:19am Top

Book #18

Searching for David’s Heart by Cherie Bennett

===== My Review: =====
The brother she looked up to dies suddenly and the whole family dynamic changes. Twelve year old Dee Dee suffers the most, for she was the cause of it all. Bereft without her brother, David, she decides to find whoever received his heart, for then she wouldn’t have lost all of him. Aided by her best friend, Sam, they search to discover who the recipient was, and then travel to find him – from Wisconsin to Florida – two fifth graders alone, over Christ-mas time. This was all too implausible and too melodramatic for me, but I can see how it would be a compelling story to emphasize the need for organ donation to a younger audience. For this reader – 2.8 stars.

===== February list (#18) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: YA contemporary fiction / siblings, death, organ donation
Setting/Era: Wisconsin, Florida / contemporary
Read: 2/15/2012
Pages: 220
Challenges: TIOLI #12 : Book with a cover that depicts love
Stars: 2.8

Feb 21, 2012, 10:32am Top

Book #19

Change of Heart by Fran Shaff

===== My Review: =====

”…he couldn’t help aching for another glance into her emerald eyes. He wanted to inhale the lilac scent of her. He needed to touch her. The last time he’d seen her, he’d longed to lace his fingers through her cinnamon hair.”

===== February list (#19) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: historical fiction, romance / pioneer life, melding families
Setting/Era: Fort Kearney, Nebraska / 1800s
Read: 2/16/2012
Pages: 108
Challenges: TIOLI #3 : 5 letter anagram (Heart/earth)
Stars: 1

Feb 21, 2012, 10:36am Top

I'm sorry your last two books weren't better -- but on the plus side, there are bound to be a few wonderful books from the AT sell off! Congratulations on your haul!

Feb 21, 2012, 11:05am Top

Book #20

A Week’s Tramp in Dickens-Land by William R. Hughes

===== My Review: =====
This book was published in 1891 after the author’s rambles through the areas where Charles Dickens lived throughout his life-time. Along the tramp, he also accumulates many an anecdote from those who knew the author, including accounts of the doctor who attended him at his seizure and death. The author compares personalities, local names, town characteristics, and surrounding countryside to the descriptions found in Dickens‘s books, attempting to match real locations to Dickens’s various stories.

“Charles Dickens was born, at twelve o’clock at night, on Friday, 7th February, 1812. He was the second child and eldest son of a rather numerous family consisting of eight sons and daughters. … About the year 1821 pecuniary embarrassments beset and tormented the Dickens family, which were afterwards to be “ascribed in fiction” in the histories of the Micawbers and the Dorrits, and the family removed to the House on the Brook. … Dickens’s little sister, Harriet Ellen, died, a circumstance that no doubt in after years inspired the Child’s Dream of a Star.”

About Dickens’s will: ‘It states: - “I conjure my friends on no account to make me the subject of any monument, memorial, or testimonial whatever. I rest my claim to the remembrance of my country upon my published works...”

I am not that familiar with Charles Dickens’s books, but nonetheless, found this a sufficiently interesting read.

===== February list (#20) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: books about authors / Charles Dickens
Setting/Era: England / first published 1891
Read: 2/20/2012
Pages: 182
Challenges: TIOLI #17 : a book by or about Charles Dickens
Stars: 2.2

Feb 21, 2012, 11:49am Top

>100 Dejah_Thoris:, Dejah: I know why my recent reads aren't great. It's all my husband's fault! ;) He's kind of a paradox: he likes me to sit with him after he gets home from work while he's vegging to mind-numbing stupid-stupid-idities on tv, but he won't let me read a book during. And yet. He knows I love to read, so he bought me a kindle for Christ-mas and THIS he allows me to read from while I'm stuck in numb-mind-land. But I've been too cheap to download anything that costs money, so my reads during those times have been generally less than stellar. You get what you pay for!

Feb 21, 2012, 11:57am Top

(97) You're not a book hog, but a book lover who wants to give unwanted and under-appreciated tomes a good home!!!!

Our local ASPCA is looking for donations for a book sale. Since I'll probably be buying some (go figure...), I think I can weed out a few that I doubt I'll read anytime in the near future and donate them to a worthy cause!

Feb 26, 2012, 6:41pm Top

87: I read other books by Wilkie Collins some years ago, but not this one. Available for the Nook for 99 cents. Hmm...

Mar 2, 2012, 11:56am Top

Book #21

The Making of the African Queen, or, How I went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall and Huston and almost lost my mind by Katharine Hepburn

===== My Review: =====
A fun and quick read about the making of the Bogie/Hepburn movie. Lots of pictures, and rich descriptions of the setting, weather, hazards, and people, movie people and locals, both.

===== February list (#21) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: memoir / movie making, African Queen
Setting/Era: Africa / 1952
Read: 2/21/2012
Pages: 129
Challenges: TIOLI #10. Title written in the first person
Stars: 3

Mar 2, 2012, 11:56am Top

Book #22

Alice’s Tulips by Sandra Dallas

===== My Review: =====
Me living with a sour old woman while Charlie is out having his fun.

Young newlywed, Alice Bullock, is deposited at her mother-in-law’s Iowa farm, when Charlie leaves for a Union soldier in the Civil War. Though she is a hard worker, Alice is immature and selfish, her mind dwelling on dancing and other fun pursuits, and how to get around Mother Bullock, such as daily moving the marker in her Testament so Mother will think she’s reading it. This is a story told entirely in letters which Alice writes to her sister, Lizzie. Ms. Dallas wrote Alice’s growing up with a perfect tempo. Through much of the book, I just wanted to throttle the girl, but her comeuppance tempered her, and eventually brought about a satisfying conclusion.

Most interesting to me was the portrayal of home life with the absence of men during the war. And, as always with Sandra Dallas, the quilting - each chapter is prefaced with a bit about quilt patterns and quilt making.

===== February list (#22) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: historical fiction / Civil War home life
Setting/Era: Iowa / 1860s
Read: 2/22/2012
Pages: 256
Challenges: 8. Read a blurber (on The Sisters/Nancy Jensen)
Stars: 3.3

Edited: Mar 8, 2012, 11:22am Top

Book #23

Still Life with Murder by P.B. Ryan

===== My Review: =====
”…he was taken, at the age of twenty-five, and in a way that no man should have to . . . But in my more philosophical moments, I’ve thought perhaps it was almost a blessing. He’ll always be young, always good. He won’t ever be ruined by that hollow gold-plated world we were born into.”

Gilded Age Boston. Four wealthy sons, two lost to the Civil War. An educated Irish nurse, who crosses paths with the mother of the family. Between the mother and the nurse, the mystery is gradually unraveled. The author’s setting skillfully showed the great divide between the Gilded mansions and the seedy side of Boston. Between freedom and suffering in the infamous Andersonville camp. Setting, characterization, and mystery – all well done. Looking forward to reading more P.B. Ryan.

===== February list (#23) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: Historical mystery /
Setting/Era: Cape Cod and Boston / Gilded Age
Read: 2/25/2012
Pages: 320
Challenges: TIOLI #15. Read a book that has the Letters in TIOLI (T,I,O,L) as doubles in the title or Author's Name (title-LL)
Reading Through Time: Gilded Age/February
Stars: 3.9

Mar 2, 2012, 4:19pm Top

Ooh, Still Life with Murder sounds fascinating!

Mar 8, 2012, 10:12am Top

Cindy, I enjoyed catching up here. I was also born in Oklahoma, grandparents on both sides still lived in homesteaded properties in the Oklahoma panhandle. My grandmothers both had Native American ancestors, to what extent and which tribe (Cherokee, I think) I am unsure.
I understand your grief over leaving your "big house" . . . We moved to a much smaller home almost seven years ago now and I still have some rarely used items in boxes in the attic. Fortunately, my husband has a good handle on what, exactly, is in all those boxes! Though I have way fewer books than it appears you do, they did all eventually find their way to shelves or out the door. Initially, I hated the idea of moving from "our home", but in retrospect, it's been a good thing. Our "new home" requires much less upkeep allowing for more reading!
Your trip to the coast in the fall sounds wonderful. . . so fun to anticipate! I look forward to hearing about it . . .
On the subject of books (!?), I appreciate your detailed notes and cataloging. You are a whiz at getting in and around LT website to make it work for you. I admire those folks with great computer skills, as I have really very perfunctory use of my electronics! Oh, well . . .

Mar 8, 2012, 11:16am Top

Book #24

The Personal History of Rachel Dupree by Ann Weisgarber

===== My Review: =====
This must be the most hardscrabble of all the hardscrabble books I’ve read. Having visited The Badlands, I cannot imagine trying to make a living there, especially during a drought. This novel plainly and startlingly tells a story about homesteading in the 1910s by a black family in South Dakota. Ann Weisgarber makes you feel the desolation of the area, the hopelessness of the situation, and the strength of character it takes to endure. Water. You won’t take it for granted after reading this book.

===== February list (#24) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: historical fiction / black Americans, homesteading
Setting/Era: Badlands of South Dakota / 1910s
Read: 2/26
Pages: 336
Challenges: TIOLI #6. Read a book whose author's surname has a "Scrabble value" of 12 or more (16)
Stars: 3.5

Mar 8, 2012, 11:17am Top

Book #25

After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson

===== My Review: =====
In a working class neighborhood in Queens, two young girls make friends with D Foster, a girl who happens to get off the bus on their block. This is the story of “Three girls. Three the hard Way.” They bond over the music of Tupac Shakur, and during the time of their friendship, from 1994-1996, “I felt like we’d grown up and grown old and lived a hundred lives in those few years that we knew her. But we hadn’t really. We’d just gone from being eleven to being thirteen.”

After Tupac and D Foster is a Newbery Honor Book about a foster child and the various ties of friendship and community, tenuous or strong.

===== February list (#25) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: YA Fiction / coming of age, friendship, foster care, black families
Setting/Era: Brooklyn, NY / 1994-1996
Read: 2/28/2012
Pages: 151
Challenges: 15. Read a book that has the Letters in TIOLI (T,I,O,L) as doubles in the title or Author's Name (name-oo)
Stars: 3

Mar 8, 2012, 11:17am Top

Book #26

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

===== My Review: =====
Salem, Massachusetts - much ado about witches and the magic arts, touristy. But the psychics, readers, fortune-tellers and witches are the good guys in this story. The Calvinists are the bad guys - Calvinists, the followers of local guy, Calvin, not Calvinists, the Protestants. Still.

The author’s sense of place was spectacular; the town, the water and islands, the rugged coast. The history and tidbits about lace-making were interesting. And so were parts of the story line, a mystery with the main character a woman with a mental illness. But still.

I just didn’t like it.

===== February list (#26) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: fiction, mystery / psychics, twins, mental illness
Setting/Era: Salem, Massachusetts / contemporary
Read: 2/28/2012
Pages: 400
Challenges: 8. Read a blurber (on The Sisters/)
Stars: 3.2

Mar 8, 2012, 11:19am Top

Book #27

River of Earth by James Still

===== My Review: =====
’Mother was on the rag edge of crying. “Forever moving yon and back, setting down nowhere for good and all, searching for God knows what,” she said. “Where air we expecting to draw up to?” Her eyes dampened. “Forever I’ve wanted to set us down in a lone spot, a place certain and enduring, with room to swing arm and elbow, a garden-piece for fresh victuals, and a cow to furnish milk for the baby. So many places we’ve lived – the far side one mine camp and next the slag pile of another.”’

A refrain that was probably heard in many homes in 1940s Appalachia. Coal mining and its faster money supplanting farming as a way of life, but though the money was faster, living was uglier in a coal town. And the need was diminishing, diggers being let go, mines shutting down. Life decisions. A hard life, whichever route you took, births, deaths. The narrator is a young son of the family in this story. The author, James Still, lived his whole life in Appalachia, and it makes me wonder if this story isn’t somewhat biographical. I found this a fascinating slice of life from a not-too-distant time and a place changed, for better or worse, by coal mines. From Brother Mobberly’s sermon:

”Oh, my children, where air we going on this mighty river of earth, a-borning, begetting, and a-dying – the living and the dead riding the waters? Where air it sweeping us?”

===== February list (#27) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: American literature / life in Appalachia, coal town life
Setting/Era: Kentucky / 1940s
Read: 2/29/2012
Pages: 256
Challenges: 7. Read a book published by a University or College
Stars: 3.7

Mar 8, 2012, 11:58am Top

>112 countrylife:

You had me going with your review of The Lace Reader - I'm thinking I'll have to try this one, and then I get to:

I just didn’t like it.

Hmm. Maybe not! Thanks for the reviews.

Mar 8, 2012, 1:33pm Top

Dejah - You may like The Lace Reader. It did have good writing, and I liked the sense of place. I just can't abide an author who makes fun of a whole segment of the population, which I felt was what was going on under the guise of her fictional Calvin-ists. And the whole mentally ill/unreliable narrator thing never caught me, either. You can tell by the ratings that a lot of people like it, so don't be put off by what I say! Those are just my personal feelings.

Mar 8, 2012, 2:16pm Top

Cindy, I am another reader who did not like The Lace Reader much.

Mar 8, 2012, 2:19pm Top

Very interesting reading and enticing reviews Cindy. Haven't read or got any of your last 7 reads and the P.B. Ryan and the James Still in particular look well worth trying out.

Mar 8, 2012, 9:00pm Top

The Lace Reader is a book I like less now than when I read it. I think I gave it 4.5 stars or something at the time, but it's one that I think of as a 3 or 3.5 star book now.

Mar 9, 2012, 7:37am Top

Lori, Isn't it interesting how our thoughts of a book change over time. Just yesterday, I sorted my recent reads by rating, and seeing them lined up that way, some of those just didn't belong in their current position in relationship to my feelings about the other reads in the list and some ratings just had to be changed. But I have trouble with rating, anyway. Something like The Lace Reader, with such an evocative sense of place, which is very important to me, but with a story, most of which I quite disliked - those things warred in my thoughts until I ended up with just a middling rating.

Mar 10, 2012, 8:40am Top

I'm sure the New England setting is what made me rate it as high as I did. I also think I read it about the time it came out in the summer of 2008 right after I made a New England trip and had spent quite a bit of time researching some of my families including one that had a connection to the famed "witch trials." That was probably good timing for it to make a better connection with me and for me to rate it higher. I looked over my review of it, and I'm certain it would not have received as high a rating if it hadn't occurred right at that time. I think a few months later, it would have been a bit more along my current thoughts on it.

Mar 13, 2012, 6:24pm Top

I found that timing can be everything as far as how I perceive a book.

Mar 14, 2012, 9:38am Top

119: Rating is too difficult, a single number for multiple dimensions. I appreciate when others take the trouble.
120: Yeah, a book can be enjoyable at the time but prove to be unmemorable, or be tough going but ultimately worth the effort.

Mar 14, 2012, 11:10am Top

Book #28

A Gathering of Days : A New England Girl’s Journal, 1830-32 by Joan W. Blos

===== My Review: =====
“It was an apt choice, . . . for are we not, all of us, wand’rers and strangers; and do we not, all of us, travel in danger or voyage uncharted seas?”

Father speaks of the quilt, her Mariner’s Compass, that Catherine, 14, is piecing, under the guidance of her new stepmother. This novel, in the form of a diary, covers two years of Catherine’s life in rural New Hampshire. Running the house after her mother’s death, school days, friends, marriages, death and life, a runaway slave - seasons and times, and a young girl, change.

”This year, more than others, has been a lengthy gathering of days wherein we lived, we loved, were moved; learned how to accept.”

Beautiful. 4.2 stars

===== March list (#28) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: historical fiction, young adult / farm life, growing up
Setting/Era: New Hampshire / 1830s
Read: 3/4/2012
Pages: 144
Challenges: TIOLI #23. Read a book with the word "Girl" in the title
Stars: 4.2

Mar 14, 2012, 11:11am Top

Book #29

Why do men have nipples? : hundreds of questions you'd only ask a doctor after your third martini by Mark Leyner

===== My Review: =====
With chapters like - You are what you eat, Body Oddities, All you (n)ever wanted to know about sex, Can I treat it myself?, Drugs and Alcohol, Bathroom humor, Medicine from the movies and tv, Old Wives’ tales, and Getting older – there were no shortage of cocktail party questions to answer.

Why do you cry when you cut onions? An answer involving enzymes, amino acids, and ending with a reliable remedy of . . . ordering takeout. Is red wine really good for your health? An answer about research, “the French Paradox”, and studies of the health benefits, and ending with … “So drink a whole bottle tonight. Your bed will spin but you probably won’t have a heart attack.”

And there you have it. Mostly real medical-ish answers followed by schoolboy humor. Lame. 2.2 stars

===== February list (#29) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: nonfiction / Medical miscellanea
Read: 3/6/2012
Pages: 217
TIOLI #6. Read a book with a title word that is a heterograph/homonym (same pronunciation, different spelling, different meaning) (do/due/dew, your/you're, have/halve)
12 in 12: monthly challenge: March/3/3rd: title: “third martini”
Stars: 2.2

Mar 14, 2012, 11:11am Top

Book #30

A Place of Secrets by Rachel Hore

===== My Review: =====
Spellbound. I really enjoyed this read. Norfolk, England, and Ms. Hore’s fictional Starbrough estate were so real in my mind, I had a hard time walking back out of her story. Good characterization, too, in that the book was peopled with those whose motivations felt real, (although some felt typecast, from the benevolent adoptive father, to the wicked, conniving sister).

For the auction house where she works, Jude’s current project involves valuing a family’s holdings of antique and rare astronomy books. To heighten appeal for the auction, she researches the history of the family and comes upon a mystery, which leads to another, which leads to another. It didn’t bother me a bit that the coincidences were highly implausible, or that everything wrapped up so tidily by the end. In tying all the threads together, the author created a spellbinding story. In dual time lines from the late 1700’s and the early 2000s, the backbone of the story rests in astronomy, with dreams, sisters, gypsies, a folly, and a journal playing their parts. I was just of a mood to toss aside reality for a while and ride this suspenseful story wherever it took me. And I really enjoyed the ride.

===== March list (#30) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: mystery / dreams, astronomy
Setting/Era: England / 2008-2009 and 1765-1815
Read: 3/9/2012
Pages: 384
TIOLI #1. Read a book whose author was born in a city whose name contains ONLY one letter from the word “March” (Epsom)
75ers Theme: Mystery March
Stars: 3.7

Mar 14, 2012, 3:44pm Top

A Place of Secrets sounds like a good one, Cindy. Onto my list it goes!

Mar 14, 2012, 5:11pm Top

>125 countrylife: Sounds like just the sort of book I like. It's going on my wishlist, too.

Mar 15, 2012, 9:37pm Top

A Place of Secrets sounds great - I'll have to wait a while, though. My local library system doesn't have so it'll be a few months 'til the others let it circulate. Thanks for pointing it out!

Apr 7, 2012, 4:09pm Top

Book #31

Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay

===== My Review: =====
"Or you escaped, like Zoltan. Lived to tell the truth. It was one of the reasons Zoltan’s work mattered so greatly, each poem a message that had jumped a wall, burrowed a tunnel out of prison, survived to tell the rest of the world its news. So many others – other people, other poets – never made it."

Nina Revskaya, a ballerina with the Bolshoi Ballet, having reached old age in the US after her defection from Russia, has decided to auction her jewels to benefit the Boston Ballet. Her life story, and that of her husband, the poet Viktor Elsin, is slowly unveiled. There is a professor in Boston whose specialty is Elsin’s work; he has also become interested in Nina and the story behind her jewels. The woman into whose hands the work of the auction is placed also tries to piece together their history in order to enhance the sale.

This was a learning experience for me as I know nothing about ballet. The behind the scenes look at the life of a ballerina, and life in Stalinist Russia was fascinating. I don’t feel myself equal to discussing the merits of mystery books, as I’m only a recent convert to the genre. But I really did enjoy this one.

===== March list (#31) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: mystery / ballet, Stalinist Russia
Setting/Era: Russia, Boston / late 1940s to 1950s and 2003
Read: 3/9/2012
Pages: 480
Challenges: Mystery March; TIOLI #11. Read a book from your Recommendations filtered by authors held
Stars: 4.2

Apr 7, 2012, 4:13pm Top

Book #32

Juliette Gordon Low : Founder of the Girl Scouts of America by Deborah Kent

===== My Review: =====
This is a juvenile book about the founder of the Girl Scouts. Well designed to capture the interest of young eyes, with plenty of photographs and captions, and full of information about the lady. She was a friend of Robert Baden-Powell, and designed her Girl Scouts after his idea. Nicely done children’s book.

===== March list (#32) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: biography / Girl Scouts
Read: 3/10/2012
Pages: 32
Challenges: TIOLI #5. Read a book about a 20th century woman, group of women or women’s organization
Stars: 3

Edited: Apr 7, 2012, 4:14pm Top

Book #33

The Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotterill

===== My Review: =====
Can you call a book delving into murder, evil spirits, the degradations of communism, and political corruption ‘delightful’? I’ll say, “yes”. Because the writing is fresh, the dialogue witty, the characters interesting. The setting, in Laos, felt real. And the story was fascinating and well told. Yes, it was a delightful book.

Dr. Siri Paiboun, in his 70’s, the coroner in 1976 Vientiane, Laos, and his friend Civilai, lunch on the riverside log every day, discussing their work. And Dr. Siri’s helpers, Mr. Geung, his assistant with Down Syndrome, capably going about his routine tasks, and Dtui, his nurse assistant, are both written with reality and sympathy.

Dtui with her laundry-bin build was off the scale. There were no suitors queuing at her door. They wouldn’t have to dig deep to find her kindness and humor, but they didn’t even bring a spade.

When one of the bodies brought to his office is hurriedly claimed, Siri decides there is a mystery afoot.

“It’s starting to look like somebody wants this case closed in a hurry. We, my children, are no longer common coroners. We are investigators of death. Inspector Siri and his faithful lieutenants. All for one and one for all.

Though a heavy subject, Colin Cotterill has such a deft touch, that it was fast and light reading. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.

===== March list (#33) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: crime fiction / coroner, communism,
Setting/Era: Laos / 1970s
Read: 3/12/2012
Pages: 272 pages
Challenges: March Mystery; TIOLI # 21: Read the first published novel or the first in a series by a new-to-you author, BUT in a rolling order by the first letter of the author's last name.
Stars: 4.7

Apr 7, 2012, 4:18pm Top

Book #34

The Lilac House by Anita Nair

===== My Review: =====
Thank you, Anita Nair, for this riveting story. In the broad picture, this is a novel about families, and the consequences of choices made by individuals in those families. A husband thinks his life is stale; he leaves his wife, Meera, and the family. A wife blames her husband, Jak, for their daughter’s brokenness; she leaves them. The remaining children are caught in the storm.

A cyclone is the mirror image of this story. In its different stages, it parallels what is happening to these families. Jak is a weather expert. His “writings” on “The Metaphysics of Cyclones” structure the book into “stages”, and set the tone for the ensuing chapters, where the storm clouds in the two families continue to build.

Another device which Ms. Nair employs is to repeat a word or phrase from the end of one chapter in the beginning of the next. From Stage III:
Chapter IV: His aunt tells Jak, “…you mustn’t blame yourself for my life. No one is ever responsible for what happens to someone else. You have to accept that. It is the truth. … Jak bows his head. Redemption on a platter. Only, he cannot accept it.”
Chapter V: “Accept this day as a gift. Don’t clutter it up with this and that, Meera tells herself sternly.”

One of the themes in the novel is the universality of parenthood: “How can you cease to be a parent even if your child is determined to shrug off the mantle of being a child.”
Meera: “The glimpse in {her} eyes each time she held her back from an impetuous move. The animosity, the dislike.“
Jak: “As long as I held her close, I thought she was safe. She would come to no harm. How did I forget that? How did I let her go?”

The characterization in this story was complex and rich. The culture was foreign to me, but alive through the author’s words. Never having been to India, the setting as Ms. Nair described it pulled me in as well. Besides families and parenthood, the book covered a lot of territory: divorce, rape, abortion, weather, parenthood, Greek mythology, and a mystery. And all of it carefully stitched together in what was ultimately a beautiful story.

Well, now I’ve gone and made it sound dry. It is not. I found The Lilac House to be one of those rare “unputdownable” books.

===== March list (#34) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: mystery / families, divorce, abortion
Setting/Era: India / contemporary
Read: 3/13/2012
Pages: 331
Challenges: Mystery March; TIOLI # 19. Read a mystery of more than 300 pages
Stars: 5

Apr 7, 2012, 5:03pm Top

I am glad to hear you enjoyed Cotterill's book. I have a book by him on a wish list and will get around to it one of these days.

Apr 8, 2012, 11:28am Top

Cindy - what a great batch you have here . I've seen Russian Winter several times and wondered if it was worth grabbing. Same with Lilac House Must push that one up higher on the list based on your comments.
I just started Coroner's Lunch last night, and so far I'm enjoying it. There is a new bio of Juliette Gordon Low (with several much more flattering pictures) in the adult bio section - just came out in February - Juliette Gordon Low by Stacy Cordery. If you're interested in her, you might try that one.

Apr 9, 2012, 5:45pm Top

Earlier today I added The Coroner's Lunch to TIOLI #1 - there have been too many positive reviews for me to pass it up any longer.

I'm part of the way though the JGL bio Tina mentions. It's quite good and very well researched (loads of endnotes and a great bibliography). I'll finish it and write a review one of these days!

Apr 9, 2012, 6:28pm Top

(135) Is your name based upon a Robert Heinlein character, or someone else?

It is so familiar...

Apr 9, 2012, 6:49pm Top

>136 fuzzi:

You've got the right idea, fuzzi. Dejah Thoris is from the Edgar Rice Burroughs Mars books, which begin with A Princess of Mars, in which Dejah Thoris is a Princess of Helium.

However, Heinlein uses names from that series for several characters in The Number of the Beast including one Dejah Thoris "Deety' Burroughs who marries Zebadiah John Carter.

Actually, more than anything, my user name was chosen to honor of my late cat, Dejah Thoris, Empress of the Known Universe.

Now back to our original programming....

Apr 10, 2012, 12:37pm Top

(137) Aha! That explains it.

There are two Robert Heinlein books that I liked so much that I have kept copies for years. One is Friday, and the other is The Number of the Beast.

Apr 12, 2012, 5:51pm Top

Hi! You've read some interesting books here. I liked The Coroner's Lunch. You described it perfectly. I had never heard of The Lilac House or Russian Winter, but they sound interesting. . .

Apr 12, 2012, 8:31pm Top

Like Terri I haven't heard of The Lialc House or Russian Winter, both do sound fascinating.

I'm sorry to be so far behind. You are reading some great books.

Apr 13, 2012, 9:05am Top

131: I've been hearing good things about Dr. Siri. Your comments may seal the deal. I don't think I've ever read a book set in Laos.

Cindy, we are tentatively planning a meetup in Kansas City centered around the Johnson County Library Booksale in Overland Park for June 14. Are you and your mother up for another road trip? We'd love to have you join us.

Apr 16, 2012, 7:09pm Top

Hi Cindy, I am slowly catching up on everyone's threads after being away. I too have added the Colin Cotterill series to my wishlist but I can see it will be some time before I get to it. If i was ever to get a tattoo (and I'm way to chicken to do so) it would have to be a version of SMB - NET (So Many Books - Not Enough Time)!

Apr 23, 2012, 11:04am Top

Book #35

Sergeant York and His People by Samuel K. Cowan

===== My Review: =====
”This is not a war-story, but the tale of the making of a man. His ancestors were able to leave him but one legacy – an idea of American manhood.”

I found this to be an endearing story of the life of the WWI hero, Alvin York, the history of his family and background, and the surrounding area of their home place. This is one of the earliest biographies, coming very shortly after his return home from war, so is written in the style of the time. I did not find that a distraction, but rather a support to such a story as his.

”He came from a cabin in the backwoods of Tennessee but he was raised under influences that make real men. A boy’s ideal, in his early life, is the father who guides him, and Sergeant York had before him a character that was picturesque in its rugged manhood and honestly, and inspiring in its devotion to right and justice. . . . This little mother in the mountains, unread and untutored, with only the dictates of her own heart to guide her, had early adopted as her guiding philosophy the belief that the greatest thing in life is love.”

The author obviously believes that this American hero deserves the praise heaped upon him, not just for his heroism in war, but the character underlying it, for he ends his work with:

Let him bear the palm who has deserved it.”

I agree. And I enjoyed this book

===== March list (#35) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: biography / Sergeant York
Setting/Era: Tennessee, France, Forest of Argonne / 1918 and previous
Read: 3/16/2012
Pages: 116
Challenges: TIOLI #18: Read a book where the author's name or a word in the title has a military connection
Stars: 3.2

Apr 23, 2012, 11:05am Top

Book #36

The Druid by Frank Delaney

===== My Review: =====
Not my usual fare, but a quick, enjoyable read about a crafty druid who makes a living off others’ superstitions, being bested at his own game.

===== March list (#36) – NOTES: =====
Read: 3/18/2012
Pages: 34
Challenges: TIOLI # 7. Read a book with a title that contains 2,4,8 or 16 words
Stars: 3

Apr 23, 2012, 11:05am Top

Book #37

Violets of March by Sarah Jio

===== My Review: =====
With the beautiful setting of Bainbridge Island, Washington, and an uncovered old diary, I was bound to like this book. It is 2005 and Emily, an author, leaves NYC, the scene of her recent divorce, to spend the month of March with her Aunt Bee on the island, hoping to get out of her writing funk. There she runs into a new neighbor and an old flame from a teenage summer on the island, and even better, a mysterious old diary from 1943. March dwindles away, as she enjoys the harbor, while reading the diary, unlocking its mystery, and her own heart. A very nicely done beach read.


===== March list (#37) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: contemporary fiction, mystery / family secrets
Setting/Era: Bainbridge Island, Washington / 2005, 1988, 1943
Read: 3/18/2012
Pages: 293
Challenges: 75 theme: Mystery March, 12in12: March,
TIOLI #15. Read a book where the number of letters in the author's last name is divisible by three
Stars: 3.5

Apr 23, 2012, 11:06am Top

Book #38

Superfoods: Simple Breakfast Recipes by Julie Richards

===== My Review: =====
The Table of Contents includes chapters on: Breads, Muffins and Sandwiches, Cereals, French Toasts and Crepes, Fruits, Omelets, Smoothies and Shakes, Vegetables, and Waffles and Pancakes.

Some recipes I’d like to try, like the Cranberry Walnut Pumpkin Bread, and some that I’d never try in a million years, like Cauliflower and Feta Omelet. Although it looks like a good mix of recipes, I confess that I haven’t made any of them yet, but did enjoy reading them. Each recipe is prefaced with information about the beneficial ingredients included.

===== March list (#38) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: cookbook
Read: 3/19/2012
Pages: kindle edition
Challenges: TIOLI #7. Read a book with a title that contains 2,4,8 or 16 words
Stars: 3

Apr 23, 2012, 11:07am Top

Book #39

March Violets by Philip Kerr

===== My Review: =====
March Violets is my first ‘noir’ read, and I have to say that I really enjoyed this stark, dark crime fiction tale set in 1930s Berlin. The aura of the place and time swirled like fog through the story. I enjoyed the audio version and found the narration very well done. I will definitely read more of the Bernie Gunther series.

===== March list (#39) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: mystery / crime fiction
Setting/Era: Berlin / 1930s
Read: 3/20/2012
Pages: 256
Challenges: 75 theme: Mystery March, 12in12: March,
TIOLI #18: Read a book where the author's name or a word in the title has a military connection (march)
Stars: 4.1

Apr 24, 2012, 2:31pm Top

What an interesting blend of books you have been reading! :)

Apr 28, 2012, 7:49am Top

Cindy, Just read your TIOLI challenge for this month . . . Congrats to your son and to you. You must be very proud!

Apr 28, 2012, 8:20am Top

Congratulations to you and your son on his impending graduation from medical school - and on that original National Merit Scholarship!

BTW, great books you've been reading - I'm tempted by March Violets.

Apr 28, 2012, 6:30pm Top

Hi Cindy, just adding my congratulations regarding your son's graduation from medical school. I love the TIOL challenges that have a personal reason behind them, you must be a very proud Mom, indeed.

Apr 30, 2012, 11:24pm Top

What a neat story behind your TIOLI, Cindy! Congrats to your son on his graduation from medical school. Kudos to him for all his hard work through the years. (And I strongly suspect you had a positive influence and contributed your own motherly work in helping him to achieve so highly! So kudos to you, too!)

I thought it was neat that my brothers (twins) both made it to the National Merit Scholarship Finalist level. But for your son to actually have been a winner of a National Merit Scholarship -- wow, you must be so very proud!

May 1, 2012, 12:12pm Top

Thank you all, for the kind thoughts about our son. Yes, we're proud of him, and of all our children. This one is our oldest. He's both a hard-working and hard-playing guy, and looked for a way to go to school without incurring a huge debt load, so he could still 'play'. He accepted the offer from the University of Oklahoma, which has the highest number of National Merit Scholars per capita at any public college or university in the country. If you've ever watched an OU football game on tv, the first thing that you hear President Boren speak about is his National Merit program. It is a very big deal to him, to the university, and to the scholars involved. And for our son, it was a magical college experience. With the largest financial worries aside, he was able continue his backpacking vacations, and take an occasional ski trip.

For med school, he competed for the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP), and also won one of those. In exchange, he does his residency at an army hospital, and serves a certain number of years. But even with such a great start, the days leading up to Match Day were very stressful, because there aren't as many hospitals to match to as regular med students would have for choices, plus superior officers can override the outcome, which doesn't happen with non-military students' Match Day programs. In the end, though, he received his first choice program - Emergency Medicine - and location - Washington state (eying those mountains for backpack and ski trails, I'm sure).

May 1, 2012, 1:00pm Top

I'm so glad your son received his first choice. I work in a medical school, and we hear all about Match Day for the graduating seniors, but we also have a Match Day for those residents who are going into a Subspecialty Fellowship.

You must be such a proud momma!

May 1, 2012, 4:26pm Top

Cindy, Thanks for posting the background on your son's educational choices and accomplishments. Sounds like a super smart guy! My new son-in-law graduated med school last spring and I remember well the anxiety of Match Day. He (and my oldest daughter : ( ) ended up in Ohio. His first year of pediatric residency has gone very well and we're looking forward to (maybe) getting them back here in a couple of years.
Enjoy all the graduation celebrations coming up this month - a very special time for the whole family!

p.s. Hope all that celebrating is done by mid-June so you can meet-up with us in KC. . .

May 1, 2012, 9:59pm Top

Yes, he's smart, but as his engineer father keeps reminding him, he needs to count his blessings - he could have turned out exactly the opposite - he could have gotten his mother's math skills and his father's English skills.

May 2, 2012, 12:35am Top

: )

May 2, 2012, 12:44pm Top

Book #40

Olivia’s Touch by Peggy Stoks

===== My Review: =====
Olivia is a healer, with her gifts and knowledge passed down through her grandmother’s line. The small town of Tristan, Colorado relies on her for all their medical help – until a doctor from the east hangs his shingle in their town. The audio version of this book was nicely read, the setting decently drawn, the story predictable.

===== March list (#40) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: western, historical fiction / women doctors
Setting/Era: Colorado / 1800s
Read: 3/22/2012
Pages: 288
Challenges: March TIOLI #7. Read a book with a title that contains 2,4,8 or 16 words
Stars: 2.5

May 2, 2012, 12:44pm Top

Book #41

Consumption by Kevin Patterson

===== My Review: =====
There is a spectacular sense of place in Consumption by Kevin Patterson, a Canadian author. One of the tags on the book says 'Alaska', but that's incorrect. The setting is Rankin Inlet in Nunavut, Canada. Patterson’s characters are very well done, flawed but true to their character. When a nickel mine opened in the late 1950s, Inuits came off the tundra for steady jobs. In their newly close confines, tuberculosis spread. This story is about the changes which came to the native population with the leaving of their old ways.

The three Parts of the story are prefaced with Eskimo poetry, recorded and translated in the early 1920s. The book is also punctuated with medical notes, written by the fictitious doctor in the story. I found these fascinating, both in their application to all bodies, but specifically to the rounding out of the story of these particular Inuit – T.B., diabetes, eyes.

But it is the author’s descriptions of the place and people, how they lived, that brought Rankin Inlet to life in my eyes.

”They had fed earlier in the day, diving hundreds of feet and more to the bottom of Hudson Bay, there to swallow great gulps of mud for the shellfish within, like mining pistachio ice cream for the nuts. The mussels sat in their bellies now, holding their shells as tight as they could, but weakening from the stomach acid and the enzymes. All the walruses had to do was wait for the mussels to exhaust themselves and release their grip. When hunters killed a walrus, the first thing they like to do was slit open the stomach and dig out the opened mussels and swallow them, still warm and bloody and steaming. This is called qalluk and is considered one of the best things there is to eat in the Arctic.”

Not preachy, but a story very well told.

===== March list (#41) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: historical fiction / tuberculosis
Setting/Era: Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, Canada / 1969-2004
Read: 3/28/2012
Pages: 381
Canadian Challenge: Nunavut
Reading Through Time: Theme-Disease
75ers Theme: Mystery March
March TIOLI #15. Read a book where the number of letters in the author's last name is divisible by three
Stars: 3.6

May 2, 2012, 12:44pm Top

Book #42

March Toward the Thunder by Joseph Bruchac

===== My Review: =====
A fifteen-year-old Abenaki Indian from Canada is recruited to join the army to fight for the north in the American Civil War, and is assigned to the famous Fighting Irish 69th. The journey of the Irish Brigade and the battles in which it engaged during the Virginia Campaign in 1864, through the eyes of a young soldier, was well written for a young adult audience. The setting felt real, the characters mostly believable, though often flat. I was put off by the author’s obvious politics leaking through, and by the gratuitous insertion of the characters of Walt Whitman and a descendant of the Thomas Jefferson family. (“Massah Tom’s brother was a little faster getting to the slave quarters that night.”) The story is based on the author’s own Abenaki great-grandfather’s participation in the war.

===== March list (#42) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: historical fiction / American Civil War, Indian soldiers, Fighting Irish brigade
Setting/Era: Virginia / 1864
Read: 3/30/2012
Pages: 320
12 in 12: Months Challenge: March (title word)
March TIOLI #18: author's name or a word in the title has a military connection (march)
Stars: 2.8

May 2, 2012, 12:45pm Top

That completes March. Now I just have 12 more to go to catch up with myself.

May 2, 2012, 12:52pm Top

Go! Go! Go! :)

May 2, 2012, 11:34pm Top

Good review of Consumption! Thumbed and hold placed with my local library for this 'new to me' Canadian author to check out a copy to read.

May 2, 2012, 11:42pm Top

Beautiful review of Consumption - you got a thumbs up from me.

Your son sounds like a wonderful young man - I know you must be very proud. Giver yourself a pat on the back!

May 4, 2012, 11:33am Top

Shuckerdoodles! I missed my Thingaversary! April 30 was year 5 for me. Even though I missed the date, I'm still gonna celebrate with books. Must have something to show for putting up with everyone in my family who makes fun of my LT addiction.

May 4, 2012, 12:54pm Top

Congratulations on your fifth (wow) Thingaversay! Woohoo! I'll be looking forward to what books you reward yourself with.

Edited: May 4, 2012, 4:33pm Top

Book #43

The Secret Keeper by Brea Brown

===== My Review: =====
Stupid, shallow, inappropriate.

Single pastor falls for one of his congregation, a loose girl who messes up all the time. There was absolutely nothing in this story that explained why someone like him would fall for someone like her. What was the draw? It was never discussed, so the whole “relationship” never felt real. The whole book was about their physical temptations.


===== April list (#43) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: romance / pastor and girlfriend’s temptations
Setting/Era: don’t even remember / contemporary
Read: 4/1/2012
Pages: 289
Challenges: April TIOLI #7. Finish a book that you started between January 1, 2012 and March 28, 2012
Stars: 1

May 4, 2012, 4:20pm Top

Book #44

Once On This Island by Gloria Whelan

===== My Review: =====
Once On This Island is a very nicely done YA story about how one family was affected by the war of 1812. There are three children, the oldest a girl of sixteen, a brother, and the youngest sister, Mary, twelve, who is the narrator of this story. Their mother died giving birth to Mary, and now they and their father are working their family farm on Mackinac Island. But there was trouble across the ocean, and it was heading their way. Papa takes up arms to resist the British, expecting to leave his children in charge of the farm for the season.

The lilacs of Mackinac Island are now calling to me, and I must visit.

===== April list (#44) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: historical fiction / war of 1812
Setting/Era: Mackinac Island, Michigan / 1812-14
Read: 4/3/2012
Pages: 192
Challenges: April TIOLI #14: Statehood challenge (tag:1812)
Stars: 3.5

May 4, 2012, 4:21pm Top

Book #45

On Little Wings by Regina Sirois

===== My Review: =====
“Words in the soul.”

For chick lit, this was a little jewel! Set in a small seaside community in Maine (hooked me right there!), a teen girl goes to find the family and the secret from which her mother fled long ago. Staying with her Aunt Sarah, Jennifer gradually learns about her extended family, their friends and neighbors, all of whom seem to have a piece of the puzzle for her to put together. The author’s characters were interesting, the old coots in town, the elderly neighbor, on whom everything seemed to turn, the dysfunctional family nearby, everyone with a different last name. As Jennifer joins in her aunt’s routine for a nightly game of short “readings” with a neighbor, the reader is treated to snippets from many famous writers. “There are no rules. We each pick a line or passage out of something we read that day – be it cereal box or Shakespeare – and recite it to each other.”

The setting was beautifully written, the story sweet. The prose was fresh and sunny, like enjoying an apple on the beach.

’My feet shuffled carefully until my toes, peeking out from my sandals, kissed the cold, moving water. … I threw a self-conscious glance over my shoulder and, reassured in my absolute solitude, I whispered to the water, “I’m Jennifer.” I closed my eyes to hear her answer. The gentle hissing of the pushing water pervaded the air. A bird called from the forest, but other than my voice and the short conversations singing through the trees, the ocean hummed her lullaby by herself. The sounds felt so tangible that I kept my eyes closed for a long time, letting the sunlight make shimmering patterns on the inside of my eyelids. … ”You never get used to her.” Sarah commented in awe. “She flattens our houses, sinks our ships, wears out our men, and still, we wake up just to look at her.”’

A surprising little jewel, I say. 3.7 stars

===== April list (#45) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: contemporary fiction / secrets, women, friendship
Setting/Era: Nebraska, Maine / contemporary
Read: 4/4/2012
Pages: 362
Challenges: April TIOLI #7. Finish a book that you started between January 1, 2012 and March 28, 2012
Stars: 3.7

May 4, 2012, 4:22pm Top

Book #46

When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man by Nick Dybeck

===== My Review: =====
Like creeping fingers of fog slowly wrapping their tendrils around you as you stumble forward along a rough coastline in the dark, unnerved by foghorns and splashes of frigid waves. That is what this story feels like.

Young Cal can’t get enough of Robert Louis Stevenson. His father reads it to him over and over, and when Cal wants even more, his father has to make up more stories … “Years ago … when Captain Flint was still a good man…” Loyalty Island is a fishing community. Every fall, the men who can leave for colder waters on king crab boats – their livelihoods depend upon it. Set in this backdrop, Cal becomes a teenager, sees his mother with different eyes, experiences the upheaval surrounding the death of the king of the local fishing industry, and learns to smoke.

”He’d worked the summer salmon boats with his own father since junior high and by eighteen had acquired the curse – the dual mind – of the offshore fisherman: Alone, life on land and life on the water were unbearable but each was the antidote to the other’s poison.”

The writing, setting, and story of the quandary and disillusionment of a young teen makes Nick Dybeck’s debut a psychological page turner.

===== April list (#46) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: literary fiction / crab fishing communities, desperation
Setting/Era: Loyalty Island, Washington / mid 1980s
Read: 4/7/2012
Pages: 304
Challenges: April TIOLI #8.
Read a book by a different author that is related to another book you've read for TIOLI (Perfect Storm – deep sea fishermen)
Stars: 3.3

May 4, 2012, 5:46pm Top

That last book sounds kind of interesting...

May 4, 2012, 5:56pm Top

Very entertaining reviews - multiple thumbs up from me!

May 4, 2012, 6:41pm Top

Yes, you must get those 6 books for your Thingaversary! Congrats!

May 4, 2012, 8:32pm Top

Oh, that one sounds very intriguing! Onto the list.

May 4, 2012, 10:47pm Top

Happy Thingaversary!

Edited: May 5, 2012, 8:46pm Top

Happy Thingaversary! Yes, books, books and more books to celebrate!

I've read a number of Gloria Whelan's books. I've added Once on This Island to the TBR pile. If you haven't read her series regarding the Russian revolution, I highly recommend them:

Angel on the Square
Burying the Sun
The Impossible Journey

I also recommend The Homeless Bird

May 7, 2012, 11:11pm Top

Happy Thingaversary, Cindy. And thanks for reading The Secret Keeper so I don't have to! ;)

May 9, 2012, 6:24pm Top


Just checking out the reads...

Edited: May 11, 2012, 10:26am Top

Book #47

Horse Boy : a father's quest to heal his son by Rupert Isaacson

===== My Review: =====
Rupert Isaacson is a travel writer, who happens to have a son with autism. His memoir of their efforts to heal Rowan is a beautiful piece of writing, taking the reader along their journey from a neighbor’s land in Texas, where they discovered a link between horses and autists, to Outer Mongolia, the birthplace of horses and shamanism. From rude people, depressed economies, to helpful, caring people, and the beauty of the land, the author’s writing shines through.

”… the view required more than mere looking at. Homage had to be given, for here was where one great ecosystem ended and another began. At this mountaintop the great grasslands of the steppe gave way to the beginning of the taiga, the great Siberian forest, the largest forest in the world which stretches all the way from the Pacific Ocean in the east clear across Russia to Scandinavia in the west. I stood in the last of the great, continent-sized meadow that is the steppe and gazed at the forest wall. It was like facing an army. An ancient army. Its charge, its presence, was palpable. The sound of the wind in the trees was like the sighing of God’s breath.”

About shamanism, I don’t know what to think; I have not walked in his shoes. Mr. Isaacson believes that it was a great help for his son. And for this reader, who knew only the very most rudimentary facts about autism, his quest was very interesting to read about – from educating themselves about what to expect with autism, how to deal with the problems that accompany the condition, to his quest for a cure.

”Healed or cured? There was a difference. Long ago I’d given up wanting him to be cured. Cured as in not being autistic anymore – for that was part of his essence. But I did want him healed. If there was anything Kristin and I wanted to say to the shamans, it was Please let him come back toilet-trained. Please let him no longer be held at the mercy of his tantrums, of his wild-storm nervous system. No longer hyperactive, with that incessant edge of anxiety that was like a fist around the heart, always ready to close suddenly and hard.”

Informational and beautifully written.

===== April list (#47) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: memoir / autism
Setting/Era: Texas, Mongolia / contemporary
Read: 4/13/2012
Pages: 368
Challenges: April Autism Awareness Month theme
April TIOLI #1. Rolling alphabetical / last letter of title challenge
Stars: 3.6

May 11, 2012, 10:25am Top

Book #48

Daisy Miller by Henry James

===== My Review: =====
The Miller family from America, nouveau riche, is enjoying their European tour. The young lady of the family, Daisy, is very noticeable, both for her beauty and her impropriety. Daisy Miller is written from the perspective of Winterbourne, a young man whose path crosses hers, and who finds himself smitten, while trying to figure her out.

”He said to himself that she was too light and childish, too uncultivated and unreasoning, too provincial, to have reflected upon her ostracism, or even to have perceived it. Then at other moments he believed that she carried about in her elegant and irresponsible little organism a defiant, passionate, perfectly observant consciousness of the impression she produced. He asked himself whether Daisy’s defiance came from the consciousness of innocence, or from her being, essentially, a young person of the reckless class.”

Reflecting negatively on her mamma’s lacking ”parental vigilance”, Winterbourne follows her activities whenever their paths cross, and sees the results.

Though they were well written, I wasn’t enamored of any of these characters. The plot seemed shallow, rather a blatant ‘you get what you deserve’. It was interesting enough for a study in the social mores of the day. Overall personal opinion – just middling.

===== April list (#48) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: fiction, short story / social norms
Setting/Era: Switzerland, Italy / 1870s
Read: 4/15/2012
Pages: 128
Challenges: 12in12: April flower of the month
April TIOLI #20: Spring blossom: Read a book that has been published in an edition with a flower on the cover.
Stars: 2.7

May 11, 2012, 10:28am Top

Book #49

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

===== My Review: =====
Using Josephus’s historical writings as her basis, Hoffman has written an imaginative story of the roman siege against Masada in the year 72, and the events which led up to it. Too imaginative for my taste. Although I was glad to read about the daily lives as they might have been lived by the Jews who took refuge at this fortress, most of the author’s characters didn’t feel true to their situations. Her settings were very realistically rendered, and the basic story of the siege seemed as though she got it right. But the rest of the story and the characters – I didn’t buy it.

===== April list (#49) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: historical fiction / roman siege of Masada
Setting/Era: Jerusalem, Masada / 1st Century
Read: 4/20/2012
Pages: 512
Challenges: Reading Through Time: Quarterly theme: Ancient/Biblical
April TIOLI #8. Read a book by a different author that is related to another book you've read for TIOLI (matched)
Stars: 3

May 11, 2012, 10:30am Top

Book #50

Hana’s Suitcase by Karen Levine

===== My Review: =====
Hana’s Suitcase is a story of heartbreak and hope. Fumiko Ishioka, the curator of a holocaust museum in Japan, seeks items that will help Japanese children understand what these children from another country faced. Upon receipt of a suitcase, her quest is begun to find out whatever she can about the girl who had owned it, the story alternating between Fumiko’s search, and the history of the girl, Hana Brady. Between the heartbreak of what happened to Hana and so many other Jewish children, and the hope of knowledge and compassion felt by contemporary children, this was a compelling young adult book.

===== April list (#50) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: biography / holocaust
Setting/Era: Japan, Czechoslovakia / 1944 and 1999-2000s
Read: 4/23/2012
Pages: 111
Challenges: April TIOLI #19: Read a book that has won a literary prize not featured previously on TIOLI
Stars: 3.5

May 11, 2012, 10:32am Top

Book #51

Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin

===== My Review: =====
Love the cover on my copy of Anything But Typical, so suggestive of the contents of the book – swirling thoughts of a child. This novel is written in the voice of twelve-year old Jason, an autist, who is learning to “fit in” in a regular middle school. His story is told by voicing his thoughts to the reader. I listened to this book on audio and thought that was a particularly effective device for hearing the thoughts of a young person with the condition. Jason lets us know what happens each day, the thoughts that accompany the events, what he has been instructed to do to face these situations, how he feels during them, how he interacts with his classmates and his parents. It provided a lot of insight into the difficult life of an autistic person trying to make it in a neuro-typical world.

I don’t have anything with which to compare, but thought that the characterization was superb. Nicely written and very informative.

===== April list (#51) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: YA, fiction / living with autism
Setting/Era: Connecticut, but really, anywhere middle school / contemporary
Read: 4/24/2012
Pages: 208
Challenges: Autism Awareness Month theme for April,
April TIOLI #11. Read a first person narrative in which the narrator is the opposite sex from the author
Stars: 3.9

May 11, 2012, 11:21pm Top

Hana's Suitcase remains one of my favorite books. It is an incredible story. I'm glad you liked the book.

May 15, 2012, 3:45pm Top

Book #52

The Illuminator by Brenda Rickman Vantrease

===== My Review: =====
The author says, ”This is a work of fiction, but the characters of Bishop Henry Despenser, John Wycliffe, Julian of Norwich, and John Ball are historical figures whose histories I have braided with the lives of my fictional characters.” This reader says, “Great debut! Please continue braiding!”

Ms. Vantrease has created characters so alive in their time and place, and her settings so real, that the reader feels herself there among the people of the manor trying to deal with the political and religious intrigue that threatens to strip them of everything, and among the peasants who work at the manor and with the sheep, trying to keep their families alive.

One of my pet peeves is a story that reeks of the author’s scholarship glaring from its crannies. Even though this is her debut book, Ms. Vantrease has not made that mistake. Hers is a seamless story where life of that time comes alive through the art of her pen.

It is not a perfect book, but it is quite illuminating to that time in history, and I did enjoy it.

===== April list (#52) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: historical fiction / Peasants’ Revolt, Wycliffe
Setting/Era: East Anglia (England) / Medieval (specifically, 1379-1381)
Read: 4/28/2012
Pages: 426
Challenges: Reading Through Time: April’s time period: Medieval,
April TIOLI #20: Spring blossom: Read a book that has been published in an edition with a flower on the cover.
Stars: 4.5

May 15, 2012, 3:45pm Top

Book #53

April Lady by Georgette Heyer

===== My Review: =====
Perhaps this wasn’t the best choice for a first try at Georgette Heyer. This one was a bit of a comedy of errors regarding a new wife’s monetary troubles, with misunderstandings between husband and wife, and the whole thing felt rather farcical. I’m not giving up on you, Georgette!

===== April list (#53) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: romance / newly marrieds
Setting/Era: England / Regency
Read: 4/30/2012
Pages: 329
Challenges: April TIOLI #9. Read a book with a title that includes only the vowels in the word "April"
Stars: 2.8

May 15, 2012, 3:46pm Top

Book #54

Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

===== My Review: =====
Gotta love Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s sense of humor. In one of the short stories in this omnibus, he has Sherlock Holmes saying to Dr. Watson, “If I claim full justice for my art, it is because it is an impersonal thing – a thing beyond myself. Crime is common. Logic is rare. Therefore it is upon the logic rather than upon the crime that you should dwell. You have degraded what should have been a course of lectures into a series of tales.”

This little “series of tales” was my introduction to Sherlock Holmes; intriguing little stories with odd cases to solve, none of which was beyond Holmes’s logical mind. I thoroughly enjoyed every one of them. It was fun to follow along and listen to ‘Watson’s interpretation’ of his thinking.

===== April list (#54) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: detective fiction, short stories / crime solving
Setting/Era: London / 1880s
Read: 4/30/2012
Pages: 448
Challenges: April TIOLI #12. Read a Sherlock Holmes novel, collection of stories, or another "Sherlockian" work
Stars: 3.9

May 15, 2012, 3:47pm Top

Yippee! April reviews done. Temporarily caught up to the right month, anyway!

May 15, 2012, 6:31pm Top

The Illuminator sounds interesting. My library has it! Onto the Library TBR list it goes.

May 16, 2012, 12:34am Top

Stopping by to de-lurk and say how happy I am after reading your review for The Illuminator. I have that one on my TBR bookcase and hope to get around to reading it at some point.

May 17, 2012, 12:34am Top

Hi Cindy, I'm glad you are going to give Georgette Heyer another chance. I have to admit that April Lady is one of my favorites of hers, more for the language than the story. In fact, I wouldn't say plot is her strong point, a lot of similarities in her books, her language use and descriptions are what I love about her books. Rather like taking a bubble bath - she's light, airy and makes you feel good!

May 19, 2012, 11:38pm Top

So glad your son got his first choice on Match Day! And belated Happy Thingaversary!

Some great reviews here. I must find The Horse Boy due to the subject matter; and When Captain Flint Was a Good Man sounds like it has a kind of atmosphere I'd like. I have The Illuminator on my TBR shelf, a gift from a fellow LTer. I must get to it!

May 22, 2012, 12:55pm Top

Book #55

Song of the Crow by Layne Maheu

===== My Review: =====
Imaginative story about the days of Noah building the ark, seen and told through the eyes of a crow. I found the epigraphs of habits and tales of crows to be interesting, and also the further details of crow life built into the story. I’m not a fan of talking animal books, but I thought that part of the book was well done. What I didn’t like was the actual take on Noah, himself. Those scenes felt all wrong to me. One sample:

“Oh, Great God of Adam, for fifty-two years now I build your ark in the hope of delaying your vengeance. But also with hopes that humankind might rid itself of at least some of its evils.”
“Fifty-two years?”
“Well, it takes time,” said Noah. “To find the right trees, invent the right tools.”
“It took you fifty-two years just to get started.”
“The trees had to grow.”
“And what did you do until then?”
“Oh . . . Same thing I’d been doing the last four hundred years.”

Not a fan.

===== May list (#55) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: historical fiction / Noah’s ark, crows
Read: 5/5/2012
Pages: 244
Challenges: May TIOLI #6. Read a fictional book based on a Bible story
Stars: 2.5

May 22, 2012, 12:56pm Top

Book #56

Incentivize by Tom Spears

===== My Review: =====
I believe the electronic version of Incentivize which I downloaded was an advance readers’ copy. There were 47 typographical, tense, grammatical, and other small mistakes, which I hope will be edited out, for the story itself was a good one.

Julia McCoy, an auditor for her company headquartered in the States, is sent to a subsidiary in Ethiopia to make her report. Sensing something amiss, she confronts the president, Rich Copeland, too boldly for her future good. Protecting his interests, Rich arranges for her abduction and murder. Amid double dealings with enemies of enemies, political and military upheaval, and daily peril, this story plays out in a vividly described African setting.

With insight into the corporate world, and an obvious love for the people and place of Ethiopia, Tom Spears has thrown all his sticks into the bonfire and created an explosion of action in a corporate thriller worthy of the name.

===== May list (#56) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: corporate thriller / corporate corruption
Setting/Era: Ethiopia, Somalia / contemporary
Read: 5/6/2012
Pages: 283
Challenges: May TIOLI #3. Read a book which has the National Merit Scholarship Program acronym letters - NMSP - within its title + author's name
Stars: 3.4

May 22, 2012, 12:57pm Top

Book #57

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

===== My Review: =====
True crime, but a lot more! This was first a detailed look at what it took to bring the 1893 World’s Fair to Chicago – the winning, bidding, planning, designing, and building; the people involved who made it happen, and the near disasters, the almost didn’ts, the barely finished in time, the world’s acclaim.

The administration building in The White City:

So many fascinating historical tidbits: Who planned the grounds? The same man who planned New York’s Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted. What turned the corner for the Fair’s finances? Ticket sales for Mr. Ferris’s giant wheel, which took 2,000 guests two turns around its wheel.

Parallel with the story of the genius behind the World’s Fair, is the story of the evil genius of another man who built a house of horrors nearby and advertised rooms available for fair goers. The Devil in the White City is a mass murderer of horrific proportions.

All true, and well told. Erik Larson did a chillingly good job of the telling.

===== May list (#57) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: true crime / Chicago World’s Fair, serial killer
Setting/Era: Chicago / 1890s
Read: 5/7/2012
Pages: 447
Challenges: May TIOLI #5. Read a book with the word Black or White as part of the Title or the author's name
Stars: 4.2

May 22, 2012, 12:59pm Top

Book #58

As We Are Now by May Sarton

===== My Review: =====
As We Are Now is a portrait of old age set in a small home for the aged run by two uncaring women. False-fronted to visiting families, they despise their new charge, Caro, 76, for she is more educated than they, and not afraid to say what she thinks. Her life becomes one of small harassments and a fear of not being believed. Caro journals her thoughts, the daily events, and her memories, to try to keep her mind alert.

”I am forcing myself to get everything clear in my mind by writing it down so I know where I am at. There is no reality now except what I can sustain inside me. My memory is failing.”

I chose this book for a gentle read on the thoughts of an aging person. Although the story is entirely the thoughts of an elderly lady, it was anything but gentle. It was a hard-edged, hopeless story; I did not like that. Yet, that IS this story. And this story was well told, its characters real, its darkness felt, and the powerlessness of old age palpable.

”Losing one’s memory is terribly disorienting. The danger is to lose track altogether and begin to be whirled about on time like a leaf in the eddy of a brook – then you begin to wonder what is real and what is not, and where you are, and how long you have been there. And finally it is frightening because I can see that what happens next is a growing distrust of everyone and everything. How can I tell truth from falsehood if I can’t remember anything?”

===== May list (#58) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: contemporary fiction / aging, death, nursing home
Setting/Era: New England / early 1970s
Read: 5/19/2012
Pages: 134
Challenges: 12 in 12 subchallenge: May (in author’s name – May Sarton),
May TIOLI #18. Read a book with a title word that forms another word when reversed (are/era, now,won)
Stars: 3

May 22, 2012, 1:00pm Top

Book #59

13 Rue Thérèse by Elena Mauli Shapiro

===== My Review: =====
Author owns box of mementos from a deceased neighbor lady who survived both wars; author weaves story imagining the lady’s life using these items as touchstones in her story. I should not have based my expectations on so little.

A love story through the years of the Great War, Louise’s main story in 1928, and the ‘research’ about Louise happening in current times, all converge in a time warp to tell a warped story. I am not the reader for time warp fantasy, nor steamy sex romps, neither of which I was expecting when I picked up this book. (I’ve added an extra star in case it’s “just me”.)

Fading in and out from the future to share the body of a character in a previous time in order to report the findings of the story. No. Reciting the Lord’s Prayer while engaging in illicit lovemaking. Heavens, no. To wind it all up at the end as a frivolous little prank. Really? I just wasted my time on that? Gack! No! I wish someone had told me, “No. Don’t waste your time.” So, I’m telling you.

===== May list (#59) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: historical fiction / time warped romance
Setting/Era: Paris / 1914-1919, 1928, and contemporary
Read: 5/20/2012
Pages: 288
Challenges: May TIOLI #3. Read a book which has the National Merit Scholarship Program acronym letters - NMSP - within its title + author's name
Stars: 2.2

May 22, 2012, 1:01pm Top

Book #60

Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott

===== My Review: =====
Sweet Rose is much reviewed; I add my own here simply as a reminder to myself. Rose is still sweet when she returns home at twenty-one after several years abroad with her uncle and friend. All the aunts would like to plant this Rose in their own home gardens and look with fondness on any perceived attraction between their various sons and their much-loved niece. Rose knows exactly what she is looking for, though, for she’s had an example since childhood from her guardian, Uncle Alec –

”…to me, love isn’t all. I must look up, not down, trust and honor with my whole heart, and find strength and integrity to lean on.”

Ms. Alcott’s characters have grown into their own, much as you’d expect to see them after reading Eight Cousins. All in all, I think I prefer the first book over this one. But both are nice examples of didactic fiction from the mid-19th century.

===== May list (#60) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: YA romance / cousins, family, moral lessons
Setting/Era: Seaside Massachusetts city / contemporary 1870s
Read: 5/20/2012
Pages: 336
Challenges: 12 in 12: May (author) Louisa MAY Alcott,
May TIOLI #4. Read a book derived from a 75er's username (souloftherose)
Stars: 2.8

May 22, 2012, 1:08pm Top

Whew! You've been busy.

That book about the World's Fair looks interesting.

May 22, 2012, 4:07pm Top

I'm really glad I didn't pick up 13 Rue Therese at the library when I was tempted by the blurb on it. It sounds as if it would have been a complete waste of time. I'll have to make sure it isn't on a TBR list somewhere. If it is, it sounds as though it can come off!

May 22, 2012, 5:25pm Top

I loved Devil in the White City when I read it, and I'm glad to see you did, too. It was fascinating.

May 22, 2012, 7:23pm Top

I also loved Devil in the White City. The facts about the design, construction, etc. of the Fair were absolutely fascinating and I find myself thinking about the book fairly frequently though I read it years ago.

May 22, 2012, 10:53pm Top

55. 57. 58 are all heading for the TBR pile. I've read 59 and 60 and truly enjoyed Rue Thérèse although as I said in my review, it was a very different book and took some work to get into. And even tho I haven't read Rose in Bloom in ove 50 years, I still remember it as one of my all time favorites. I must have read that one at least 4 times. I'm reluctant to go back and read it now because I'm afraid my perception might change, and I want to leave this life with that magic feeling intact.

May 23, 2012, 12:02am Top

I am just about finished The Devil in the White City and, like you, am finding myself fascinated with both storylines that the author is reporting on. I want to attend that fair! Of course, reading about the nuts and bolts that continously fell down from that ferris wheel makes me a little nervous!

May 23, 2012, 9:03am Top

195: Read it a few years ago. Thanks for the photos!

Edited: May 29, 2012, 1:09pm Top

Count me as another one who loved Devil in the White City. Erik Larson has become one of my favorite authors. Everything I've read by him has been good.

Jun 4, 2012, 2:15pm Top

A month late, but a trip to Goodwill realized my Thingaversary haul:

The Nazi Officer's Wife - Edith Hahn Beer
Michelangelo & the Pope's Ceiling - Ross King
Mayflower : A Story of Courage, Community, and War - Nathaniel Philbrick
The Cruelest Miles : The Heroic Story of Dogs and Men in a Race Against an Epidemic - Gay Salisbury
We've Got it Made in America : A Common Man's Salute to an Uncommon Country - John Ratzenberger
Easter Island - Jennifer Vanderbes

Jun 4, 2012, 8:30pm Top

Some great reads there!

Jun 5, 2012, 1:44pm Top

My Thingaversary is this month and I am already planning on what books I am going to buy!

Jun 8, 2012, 2:51pm Top

Book #61

House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne

===== My Review: =====
An American classic. A deep novel, but read shallowly for its mood, setting and history, I enjoyed it, anyway. A house, splendid in its time, but cursed from the beginning, exacts its revenge on the succeeding generations of the family whose forbear did wrong.

Wonderful characterization, witty, extremely descriptive. But the ending didn’t hang together for me. Perhaps if I’d taken it more slowly and dug more deeply. Ah well, I’m glad to have finally read it, and enjoyed it very much.

PS: For some great reviews, read those of Mikalina and kant1066, some excerpts below:

”The House of the Seven Gables, one for each deadly sin; The scene for the allegory of the corrupted soul of man is set. . . . A satire, a cultural critic and a romance at the same time. All done in a style demonstrating the theory of Trancendentalism” -Mikalina

”…the figures of the Salem witch trials (one of whom was Judge John Hathorne, Nathaniel’s great-great-grandfather, who found many of the “witches” guilty) haunt the novel in spirit…” -kant1066

===== May list (#61) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: mystery, fantasy / haunted house
Setting/Era: New England / 1692-1850
Read: 5/24/2012
Pages: 288
Challenges: 12in12: flower of the month: Hawthorne. 75 theme of the month: May Murder and Mayhem.
May TIOLI #12. Read a book whose ISBN has the same three numbers in a row (0590015222)
Stars: 3.5

Jun 8, 2012, 2:52pm Top

Book #62

A Country Year : Living the Questions by Sue Hubbell

===== My Review: =====
” Living in a world where the answers to questions can be so many and so good is what gets me out of bed and into my boots every morning.”

A Country Year is a simple little memoir that I couldn’t put down, an endearing telling of an everyday life lived by an older woman whose child was grown and gone, and whose husband had also left. About her dogs, her chickens, and especially her bees, the little vignettes made me smile. Learning to make do on her own, sifting through her husband’s abandoned tools, sorting the hardware into “Round Things” and “Things That Fasten Other Things Together in Unusual Ways”, she takes us into her mind and her days as a beekeeper in the Ozarks of Missouri. She sorts through her surroundings as she sorted her tools, and reading about her study of the hills and trees, insects and animals in her world made for a sweet nature read. Ruminating on older women in our society:

” We have Time, or at least the awareness of it. We have lived long enough and seen enough to understand in a more than intellectual way that we will die, and so we have learned to live as though we are mortal, making our decisions with care and thought because we will not be able to make them again. Time for us will have an end; it is precious, and we have learned its value.”

===== May list (#62) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: memoir / beekeeping, county living, single women
Setting/Era: Missouri Ozarks / contemporary (1980s)
Read: 5/29/2012
Pages: 221
Challenges: May TIOLI #4. Read a book derived from a 75er's username (countrylife)
Stars: 3.5

Jun 8, 2012, 6:59pm Top

I guess I need to give House of the Seven Gables another try. We were supposed to read it for English class my sophomore year of high school but I just couldn't get past the first chapter or so. I think it's the only book I was assigned to read for English where I relied on the Cliff's Notes for a plot summary instead of reading the book. I used Cliff's Notes for other things I read in high school, but as a supplement to the book and not as a substitute for the book.

Jun 8, 2012, 8:11pm Top

I really liked A Country Year when I read it in pre-LT life. I enjoy reading about the simple (yet difficult) life, and it didn't hurt that the book was set in The Ozarks. ;-)

Jun 9, 2012, 11:18am Top

Book #63

Cry Dance by Kirk Mitchell

===== My Review: =====
I’ve only recently begun to test the waters of detective fiction and police procedurals. With my toes just starting to get wet, I now find myself swept away in the current. This one is called “Cry Dance” by Kirk Mitchell.

The discovery, in his jurisdiction, of a corpse without a face, brings Emmet Quanah Parker, a Comanche federal agent into the middle of a crime involving multiple murders and Indian gaming. Though this was the first in a series, there was a back story divulged in spurts which formed an interesting dimension to the main character. His assigned partner for this investigation is Anna Turnipseed, another Native American, who was sent undercover to the casino being investigated. Life on a reservation, Indian culture in the modern world, the different jurisdictions for law in and around Indian land, behind the scenes in gaming – I found all that quite interesting. The author drew his setting of Indian land around the Grand Canyon with just the right mood.

I enjoyed this read tremendously – characterizations, dynamics of the characters’ relationships, setting, and story, all.

===== May list (#63) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: police procedural / Indian gaming
Setting/Era: Grand Canyon area / contemporary
Read: 5/31/2012
Pages: 368
Challenges: 75 theme: May Murder & Mayhem,
May TIOLI #4. Read a book derived from a 75er's username (kayDANCEs)
Stars: 3.8

Jun 9, 2012, 11:18am Top

Book #64

A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters

===== My Review: =====
Loved it! A medieval murder mystery with characters fleshed out and real to their times, and the setting just as you’d imagine Wales to be at that time.

===== May list (#64) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: mystery / catholic reliquaries, saints
Setting/Era: Wales / 12th century
Read: 5/31/2012
Pages: 192
Challenges: Reading Through Time: May theme: Historical Mystery. 75 theme: May Murder & Mayhem.
May TIOLI #3. Read a book which has the National Merit Scholarship Program acronym letters - NMSP - within its title + author's name.
Stars: 3.9

Jun 9, 2012, 11:21am Top

May Wrap-up:

55. Song of the Crow by Layne Maheu - 2.5
56. Incentivize by Tom Spears - 3.4
57. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson - 4.2
58. As We Are Now y May Sarton - 3
59. 13 Rue Therese by Elena Mauli Shapiro - 2.2
60. Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott - 2.8
61. The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne - 3.5
62. A Country Year : Living the Questions by Sue Hubbell - 3.5
63. Cry Dance by Kirk Mitchell - 3.8
64. A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters - 3.9

Books read: 10
Breakdown: eBooks-2, audio books-4, paper-4
Average rating: 3.28
Pages read: 2,794
Total shared TIOLIS: 3
Favorite book from May: The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Edited: Jun 9, 2012, 11:26am Top

I'm glad to read your review of A Country Year. It's been sitting all lonely and abandoned on MT TBR. Your review confirms my impressions that I'll like it when I read it.

ETA--I enjoyed your pictures from the Chicago World's Fair. I've mentioned on a couple threads that when I read the book, I went to eBay to admire the souvenirs from the fair--and there are LOTS of them. They must have all been carefully preserved by the attendees. I have no desire to own any, but it's an interesting piece of Americana to go browse through--and there are lots of real photo postcards of the fair to enjoy more images.

Jun 9, 2012, 1:38pm Top

What a great idea! I found it interesting that random photographs were not permitted to be taken at the fair in order to preserve the particular style and look that they were going for; everything was 'scripted'.

Jun 9, 2012, 8:54pm Top

I have enjoyed reading other Brother Caedfael (?) mysteries by Ellis Peters, glad you liked it as well!

Jun 9, 2012, 9:11pm Top

The Kirk Mitchell novel description reminds me of Tony Hillerman's novels.

Jun 11, 2012, 10:22am Top

Book #65

Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

===== My Review: =====
The ‘separating sickness’ reaches a tendril into a Honolulu family’s home, touching seven year old Rachel. With no native defense against leprosy in Hawaii, the disease is fought by separating from their families, those who show symptoms, and removing them to the island of Moloka’i, to the leper colony of Kalaupapa. This story of an imagined patient is peopled with those who actually were involved in this work. The author seemed sympathetic to the native population and the beauty of the islands, critical of the fact that leprosy had reached there, critical of those who tried to do something about it, and their methods. His personal leanings notwithstanding, I still enjoyed this read.

Mr. Brennert’s islands came to life under his pen. As did the patients and the various ways that leprosy showed itself; the sisters of the catholic hospital and their work; the families torn asunder, and especially those who were left to live the rest of their lives confined to the leper colony.

I enjoyed this book via audio and would highly recommend the experience of hearing it with its beautiful native words and inflections; the narrator did a lovely job.

===== June list (#65) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: historical fiction / leper hospital
Setting/Era: Hawaii / 1890s-1950s
Read: 6/1/2012
Pages: 400
Challenges: June TIOLI #4. Read a book visiting a state or country you've never been to before in a book's setting (Hawaii)
Stars: 3.9

Jun 11, 2012, 10:23am Top

Book #66

Fire and Ice by Dana Stabenow

===== My Review: =====
Begun in fire, ending in ice. The poet was wrong; ice was a better destroyer than fire, particularly if you were in the mood for vengeance.

An early scene colored this story badly for me. The actual story, a crime fiction, I eventually liked. Characters seemed true to their place and time, but mostly unlikeable. The Alaskan setting was very nicely done; I really liked the herring fishing segments. Do not know that I would go out of my way to follow up with more of this series, though.

===== June list (#66) – NOTES: =====
Setting/Era: Alaska / contemporary
Read: 6/6/2012
Pages/Format: 304 / Kindle
Challenges: June TIOLI #1. Read a book whow third title word has exactly 3 letters
Stars: 3.2

Jun 11, 2012, 10:25am Top

Yay. Caught up with myself again. ... pause ... Self, that's not really good news. It just means you haven't been able to get much reading in lately.

Jun 15, 2012, 9:03am Top

Book #67

Burnt Mountain by Anne Rivers Siddons

===== My Review: =====
Southern fiction that starts with a slow southern drawl, setting the stage with a girl from a small town near Atlanta, beloved of father and grandmother, and under the domineering thumb of her mother. At summer camp in the mountains of North Carolina, Thayer comes into her own, and lives each year for the summer, eventually meeting there her first love. Her mother’s actions change the trajectory of Thayer’s life, and like the dangerous roads in those North Carolina mountains that took her father’s life, her life itself begins to feel as though it is careening out of control. Celtic mythology plays a big role in the second half of the story, taking an eerie turn that didn’t seem to fit with the rest. Still and all – a decent beach read.

===== June list (#67) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: psychological fiction / marriage, domineering mother, summer camp, celtic myths
Setting/Era: Georgia, North Carolina / contemporary
Read: 6/13/2012
Pages: 336
Challenges: June TIOLI #18. Read a book by an author with a four letter first name that includes two letters that are the same
Stars: 3.2

Jun 15, 2012, 9:03am Top

Book #68

Next to Love by Ellen Feldman

===== My Review: =====
”Millie went to live with the aunt and her husband. Childless, wanting a child, they were good to her. She likes to say she could not love them more if they were her real parents. Millie always knew how to get what she wanted. Her parents’ deaths taught her to want what she could get. Babe, wanting, wanting, but never sure what, envies her that. But now Babe sees another legacy of the loss. Millie sits smiling into the terrifying future that is barreling down on the rest of them, because she thinks she has immunity. She has paid her dues. God, or fate, or simply the law of averages cannot smite her again.”

At times tearful and other times hopeful, always gripping, and real – so raw-fully real – this story about the home front and the afterwards of war. From childhood, Millie, Grace, and Babe have been there for each other. So it is when war takes their men abroad, and while they wait, and when some of them come back, and while they each adjust to the afterwards and the changes that war wrought. The setting could be Anywhere, USA; the time is 1941-1964. This is a character driven story, and Ms. Feldman’s driving will have you reaching out to grasp – in empathy, in warning – the hands of her characters, as your eyes follow the treacherous curves in the roads of this story.

Divided into six ‘Books’ of time periods between 1941 and 1964, each Book contains three sections, one for each of the three friends, and each section contains her story set in that Book’s time periods. The tacking between times and people, and the overlapping of certain storylines from their different perspectives created a feeling of being in the middle of it all, of feeling despair waiting for letters, anguish over your lot.

The first page of the first chapter almost had me abandoning this book, but do persevere – the story and characters make it very worthwhile.

”She has no desire to go back to those days. Only a crazy woman would want to go back to a life of constant fear, aching longing, and unbearable loneliness. Only a fool would want to go back to that office reeking of death and grief. But it was her own front line in the war, and for three years she womaned it with a singleness of purpose. That is what she misses. Being useful.”

===== June list (#68) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: historical fiction / home front wartime and relationships after the war
Setting/Era: Massachusetts (could be Anytown USA) / 1941-1964
Read: 6/13/2012
Pages: 289
Challenges: June TIOLI #8. Read a book with a title that has equal or more letters from the second half of the alphabet than from the first half, initial articles and subtitles excluded (3/7)
Stars: 4.2

Edited: Jun 18, 2012, 7:59pm Top

Looks like you've done some great reading!

I've read a few books by Stabenow, and liked some much more than others.

Jun 18, 2012, 10:33pm Top

What great books! Thanks also for the tidbits regarding Devil in the White City

Jun 18, 2012, 10:40pm Top

I just finished reading the Stabenow and have now allowed myself to read your review. I think we pretty much agreed although I'll admit that I was beginning to warm to a few of those characters before I got to the end.

Jun 28, 2012, 9:48am Top

Book #69

Between Seasons by Aida Brassington

===== My Review: =====
Way off the beaten track for me.

In the 1960s, a young man dies from a fall in his home. His parents can neither bear to live there anymore, nor to sell it. The remainder of himself that wasn’t buried cannot find a way out of the house, and he spends his time trying to figure out the parameters of his new existence. The house is sold after his parents die, forty years later, to a writer. As he watches over her shoulders, he sees that she is writing his thoughts.

I don’t read much in the paranormal line, so can’t really compare. I thought it was an imaginative enough story; it just didn’t grip me. Unfortunately, too, it showed its freebie kindle status with eighteen edit issues.

===== June list (#69) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: paranormal love story
Setting/Era: Philadelphia (could be anywhere) / 1960s & contemporary
Read: 6/15/2012
Pages: 244
Challenges: June TIOLI # 17. Read a book with a prominent tag that appears in bold on another 75-er's tag mirror and doesn't appear at all on your (250-tag) tag mirror ( kmartin802 - paranormal romance)
Stars: 2

Edited: Jun 28, 2012, 9:50am Top

Book #70

The Branch and the Scaffold by Loren D. Estleman

===== My Review: =====
This is the story of Judge Isaac Parker, who was sent to Fort Smith, Arkansas, to relieve a corrupt judge and try to bring some stability to the unruly and lawless territory. I regret the timing of this read; I was listening to the audio whilst working on something else and my mind was too divided. I need a re-read to do an adequate review. The story did cover the judge’s time in Fort Smith, his dealings with Belle Starr and Cherokee Bill, among many others. He got the nuts and bolts right, and the setting was well done. I’m reserving judgment on characterization until my re-read. I did enjoy the narration of the audio version of this book.

“Interior of federal courtroom at Fort Smith (Sebastian County) with Judge Isaac Parker presiding; 1894. Courtesy of the Fort Smith National Historic Site.”

Personal note: The man sitting in front of the judge’s bench (the one facing forward and writing with his left hand) is my great-grandfather’s brother. He is taking shorthand as a clerk of the court. He was the oldest son of 14 children and, when a child, lost his right arm in a sorghum cane accident. It was then deemed that he would need to make his living in town, so was educated toward that end. He was a justice of the peace, and actually married my granddad and granny.

===== June list (#70) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: historical fiction / Hanging Judge Parker
Setting/Era: Arkansas & Indian Territory (Oklahoma) / 1870s-1890s
Read: 6/16/2012
Pages: 272
Challenges: June TIOLI #21. Read a book featuring a legal professional
Stars: 3.5

Jun 28, 2012, 11:24am Top

Hi Cindy. The Branch and the Scaffold sounds interesting and I enjoyed the photo and the note about your great-grandfather's brother. Where did you find this book?

Jun 28, 2012, 11:51am Top

Wow...that one sounds really interesting. I've been looking for another audio that wasn't one of my mystery series, and I just put in a request to get it from a neighboring library. It will be even more interesting since I will "know" someone who played a role in the story. Thanks for sharing that family history.

Jun 28, 2012, 12:15pm Top

Brenda, I remember hearing about The Branch and the Scaffold on LT before I actually saw it in the stores. I borrowed the audio from my county library system.
Tina, I hope you enjoy it. I'd been looking forward to it for so long, that I just jumped in with it right away when it became available instead of waiting for what would have been a better time for my attention.

Jul 3, 2012, 10:16am Top

Book #71

Found by June Oldham

===== My Review: =====
Written in 1995, and set in a dystopian 21st century, four children who were left alone for various reasons find allies among one another in an unforgiving environment. Working toward a common goal, they learn teamwork, reliance and strength as they all pitch in for their common survival.

I’m not usually a fan of dystopian books, but I really enjoyed this one. With characters you can root for, a setting from your own memory, yet changed, and a really good YA story, this book is worth seeking out.

===== June list (#71) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: YA fiction / dystopia
Setting/Era: anywhere / sometime in the future (21st century)
Read: 6/16/2012
Pages: 199
Challenges: 12in12: June Challenge: Author named June.
June TIOLI #14. Read a One Word Titled Book by a Female Author
Stars: 3.8

Jul 3, 2012, 10:16am Top

Book #72

Justin Morgan had a Horse by Marguerite Henry

===== My Review: =====
”Well, the farmer didn’t want to be beholden to anyone; so he gave the singing master a fine big colt named Ebenezer. And for good measure he threw in a mite of a colt called Little Bub. And that Little Bub…” Joel paused, smiling awkwardly. “He be the one who took on the schoolmaster’s name, Justin Morgan.”

This is a darling children’s book about the horse line called the Morgan Horse. The book starts in the late 1700s, telling the story of the earliest traceable horse in the line. When a schoolmaster takes a student with him on a trip to the Green Mountains to visit Farmer Beane in Springfield to get some money which was owed him, the story of the Morgan horse is born. Instead of his money, Justin Morgan receives two colts – Ebenezer and Little Bub. Joel Goss, the student who comes along for the adventure, loves Little Bub from the very beginning. The beauty of the book is the love story between boy and horse throughout the years.

There is quite an interesting list of books consulted listed in the back, along with descendants of the book’s subjects. The illustrations by Wesley Dennis were a beautiful addition to the story.

===== June list (#72) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: historical fiction / Morgan horse
Setting/Era: Vermont / late 1700s
Read: 6/18/2012
Pages: 170
Challenges: June TIOLI #5. Read a book with a title which contains a brand of automobile (Morgan Aeromax)
Stars: 5

Jul 3, 2012, 10:17am Top

Book #73

The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner

===== My Review: =====
” This is Paris; here the winds of change are blowing, whispering their discontent into the very hearts of her citizens.”

This is a YA historical fiction set in the days of unrest in Paris, and featuring gypsies, magicians, and a bad-guy of the most evil sort, and showing the great difference in class and opportunity. Although it was quite far-fetched, I was swept away in the story, and learned a bit more about life in the days of the French Revolution.

===== June list (#73) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: historical fiction / French revolution
Setting/Era: Paris / late 1780s to early 1790s
Read: 6/22/2012
Pages: 384
Challenges: Reading Through Time: Monthly time period: French Revolution.
June TIOLI #17. Read a book with a prominent tag that appears in bold on another 75-er's tag mirror and doesn't appear at all on your (250-tag) tag mirror (matched read)
Stars: 3.5

Jul 3, 2012, 10:31am Top

Cindy - I like the look of your latest read. Thanks for continuing to introduce books that the rest of the pack (most of us all, I suppose) are not running with. Onto the hitlist it will go.

Edited: Jul 3, 2012, 12:39pm Top

Re: Justin Morgan Had a Horse, I enjoyed that book as a child, and even on a recent reread.

See more information about the real story here:


Neat stuff.

Jul 3, 2012, 4:01pm Top

Book #74

Beachcombers by Nancy Thayer

===== My Review: =====
This is a story of three sisters who live on Nantucket, whose mother died when they were young. Abby, the oldest, then fifteen, raised her younger sisters, Emma and Lily. Grown, single, and now home again for various reasons, they all take temporary jobs to help out their father, whose contracting business has hit hard times. He has even rented out their playhouse to a summer person. Predictable as it could be, but the beauty of Nantucket, and the ups and downs of family live, made this an enjoyable beach read.

===== June list (#74) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: contemporary fiction / sisters, divorce
Setting/Era: Nantucket / contemporary
Read: 6/26/2012
Pages: 368
Challenges: June TIOLI #11. Read a book with "sand" or "beach" in the title
Stars: 3.2

Edited: Jul 3, 2012, 4:02pm Top

Book #75 . . . . . . . . *** YAY! 75!***

Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb

===== My Review: =====
From the foreword: ”In the twenty tales told in this book, the Lambs succeeded in paraphrasing the language of truly adult literature in children’s terms.”

And they succeeded beautifully. Each tale is about twenty pages long. I confess that I’ve never actually read Shakespeare, and frankly found myself somewhat daunted by the thought. This was a lovely way to taste the stories, in a thoughtful retelling for children.

===== June list (#75) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: retelling / Shakespeare
Setting/Era: various
Read: 6/30/2012
Pages: 369
Challenges: June TIOLI #9. Read a book from a Legacy Library (Katherine Hepburn)
Stars: 4.5

Jul 3, 2012, 4:01pm Top

Book #76

The Edge of Winter by Luanne Rice

===== My Review: =====
This is a tender tale of a mother and daughter negotiating life after the man of the family left them. Mom, Neve Halloran, works in an art gallery. Daughter, Mickey, is fifteen and infused with a love of birds. When she hears that her favorite bird, one that she has never yet seen, was spotted on the beach, she and a friend take off on their bikes for a look at the Snowy Owl. From there, events are set into motion for a first love, and a growing understanding about her father.

The more I think back on this book, the more I like it. Though it does cover a lot of territory, I’d still call it a beach read. The topics covered were done so thoughtfully, which makes me want to recommend this to young adult readers. Alcoholism U-boats, PTSD, raptor rehabilitation, talk of various wars, all this could have made a deeper, darker story, but this one was nicely paced, even-keeled, and very well done. Set along Rhode Island’s ocean side in South County, the location was beautifully conjured by the author. The U-boat of this story is called U823, which was sunk off R.I. with 55 aboard, lying 11 fathoms deep. Wikipedia shows an actual event, U853, with the same stats. Although I did not know about this particular event in history, I thought that the author treated it well in her story.

===== June list (#76) – NOTES: =====
Genre/Subject: contemporary fiction / birding
Setting/Era: Rhode Island / contemporary
Read: 6/30/2012
Pages: 352
Challenges: June TIOLI #23: Read a book whose title contains the word "of."
Stars: 3.9

Jul 3, 2012, 4:15pm Top


June Reads:
65. Moloka'i by Alan Brennert - 3.9
66. Fire and Ice by Dana Stabanow - 3.2
67. Burnt Mountain by Anne Rivers Siddons - 3.2
68. Next to Love by Ellen Feldman - 4.2
69. Between Seasons by Aida Brassington - 2
70. The Branch and the Scaffold by Loren Estleman - 3.5
71. Found by June Oldham - 3.8
72. Justin Morgan Had a Horse by Marguerite Henry - 5
73. The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner - 3.5
74. Beachcombers by Nancy Thayer - 3.2
75. Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb - 4.5
76. The Edge of Winter by Luanne Rice - 3.7

Books read: 12
Breakdown: eBooks-2, audio books-5, paper-5
Average rating: 3.64
Pages read: 3,687
Total shared TIOLIS: 2
Favorite book from June: Justin Morgan had a Horse

Jul 4, 2012, 12:35am Top

Hi Cindy and congratulations on reaching the milestone of 75 books! I remember reading Justin Morgan Had A Horse when I was young, it's always neat when a long-forgotten book comes alight again!

I am adding Found to my wishlist, all I have to see is the word dystopian and my interest is aroused.

Jul 4, 2012, 2:02am Top

I own a copy of Justin Morgan had a Horse. It is a Newbery winner from long ago. Thanks for your excellent review. I'll try to locate this one on my shelf of Newbery's and read it soon.

All good wishes to you and congrats on reading the goal of 75!

Jul 4, 2012, 12:06pm Top

Yay on your 75! Onward to the double 75!

By your ratings, it looks like you had some wonderful reads in June. I hope your July is equally as good!

Jul 5, 2012, 9:58am Top

Congrats for hitting 75!

Jul 5, 2012, 12:49pm Top

Wow, way to go on '75'! :)

Jul 6, 2012, 4:25pm Top

Congrats on hitting 75 (and surpassing it).

Jul 6, 2012, 4:56pm Top

Congratulations on reaching 75! Looks like you're on track for 75 more by the end of the year!

Jul 7, 2012, 1:10pm Top

Congrats on the 75! You may just double the annual goal, if you keep going at this pace!

Jul 7, 2012, 1:55pm Top

Congrats on 75 and beyond! And keeping up with reviews too. How excellent to have a photo of your great-grandfathers brother in situ.

Jul 9, 2012, 10:32am Top

Thank you to all who have visited here. My thread continues here: http://www.librarything.com/topic/139571

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2012

982 members

229,650 messages


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