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Crazymamie's 75 in 2012

This topic was continued by Crazymamie's 75 in 2012 (Page 2).

75 Books Challenge for 2012

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Edited: Apr 9, 2012, 1:02pm Top

I am new to this group. I joined LT this past September and have been busy trying to get my books logged in and figure out how everything works. How wonderful to be surrounded by so many people who love books as much as I do! Like many of you, I am trying to make a dent in the piles of books on my own shelves but cannot resist the lure of a new book or a great recommendation. I have four teenagers, so I read a lot of YA because we like to have book discussions every month; it's kind of like having a book club in my own home that never leaves. I also love to read multiple books at one time so that I always have something going that I am in the mood for - sometimes this gets me into trouble as my stack spins slightly out of control.

Here's what I have finished so far:

1. The Sense of an Ending - Julian Barnes (4)
2. Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor (4)
3. 11/22/63 - Stephen King (5)
4. A Drink Before the War - Dennis Lehane (4)
5. Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card (4)
6. Cannery Row - John Steinbeck (4.5)

7. The Fellowship of the Ring - J.R.R. Tolkien (5)
8. The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway (audiobook) (4)
9. The Woman in Black - Susan Hill (4.5)
10. City of Bones - Michael Connelly (4)
11. Behind the Beautiful Forevers - Katherine Boo (4.5)
12. Mockingbird - Kathryn Erskine (5)
13. The Wayward Bus - John Steinbeck (4)
14. Pronto - Elmore Leonard
15. The Snow Child - Eowyn Ivey (4)
16. Riding the Rap - Elmore Leonard (3.5)
17. The Two Towers - J. R. R. Tolkien (5)
18. Once There was a War - John Steinbeck (4.5)
19. The Coroner's Lunch - Colin Cotterill (4)
20. Below Stairs - Margaret Powell (3.5)
21. 84, Charing Cross Road - Helene Hanff (5)

22. Blood Red Road - Moira Young (4)
23. The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde (3.5)
24. Thirty-Three Teeth - Colin Cotterill (4)
25. King Soloman's Mines - Henry Rider Haggard (4)
26. Still Life - Louise Penny (4)
27. By the Iowa Sea - Joe Blair (4)
28. A Share in Death - Deborah Crombie (3.5)
29. A Severed Head - Iris Murdoch (4)
30. The Return of the King - J. R. R. Tolkien (5)
31. The Winter of Our Discontent - John Steinbeck (4)
32. Don't Look Back - Karin Fossum (3.5)
33. I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith (5)
34. Disco for the Departed - Colin Cotterill (3.5)

35. The Moon is Down - John Steinbeck (4)
36. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Alan Bradley (audiobook) (4)
37. Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe (4.5)
38. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase - Joan Aiken (4)

1. Death Comes to Pemberley - P. D. James

Here's what I am currently working on:
1. Sea of Poppies - Amitav Ghosh
2. Lady Sings the Blues - Billie Holiday
3. Cup of Gold - John Steinbeck
4. Blacklands - Belinda Bauer
5. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

On Deck:
1. The Magicians - Lev Grossman
2. The Little Sister - Raymond Chandler

Just so you can get a feel for the types of books that I like, here is a list of my favorite reads from last year:
1. The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
2. The Lotus Eaters - Tatjana Soli
3. The Long Goodbye - Raymond Chandler
4. Shutter Island - Dennis Lehane
5. Before I Go to Sleep - S. J. Watson
6. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
7. The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
8. A Moveable Feast - Ernest Hemingway
9. True Grit - Charles Portis
10. Divergent - Veronica Roth This is YA

Last year I also discovered Michael Connelly, who has become a new favorite author. I started with The Lincoln Lawyer, and then went back and started making my way through his Harry Bosch series. I love a good mystery!

My surprise find was Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson. I wouldn't normally pick up this book, but it was on display at the local library, and I had heard that Steven Spielberg had already purchased the movie rights, so I was curious. It was a good read - no life lessons, but a lot of fun.

Book #1: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

I really liked this book. It packs a lot of thought into just a few pages. It reminded me of A Separate Peace by John Knowles. At first, I didn't think that I would like it because the main character, who is the voice of the story, seemed pompous and unlikable. However, as the story goes on, his voice became that of just an ordinary person trying to make sense of the fact that memory is not always a reliable witness. This book explores how misperceptions can shape how we interpret things both in the past and in the present. Early on in the book, the main character is asked by his teacher to define history: "'History is the lies of the victors,' I replied, a little too quickly." His teacher responds: "Yes, I was rather afraid you'd say that. Well, as long as you remember that it is also the self-delusions of the defeated."

I guess that's it for now. I will try to figure out how to do the new member thing where I leave a link to this thread.

Jan 19, 2012, 1:13pm Top

Welcome to the 75 Mamie!!!! I will have to investigate Robopocalypse.

Jan 19, 2012, 1:33pm Top

Welcome! I too like to read several books at once, and I also like to read books with my teenagers (and to my 8 year old, so my reading tends to be all over the map. I will be interested to see what you read going forward.

Jan 19, 2012, 6:23pm Top

Welcome! If The Night Circus was a fave, you'll fit in fine. We're still passing it around, so to speak. :) Besides, Lehane's da bomb!

Jan 19, 2012, 6:27pm Top

Hi! I just starred you so I can find my way back. Looks like we read the same sort of genres.

And in the last few months I read and enjoyed True Grit and Daughter of Smoke and Bone too.

Jan 19, 2012, 6:37pm Top

Welcome from me too, Mamie. I am also a multiple book at once person, so it's good to have another one of us here!

Jan 19, 2012, 7:27pm Top

I'm interested in Robopocalypse too... looks like we have some similar reading interests, so I'll be keeping an eye on your thread!

Jan 19, 2012, 8:47pm Top

Wow, everyone. Thanks for the big welcome!

Lucy, a huge thanks to you for all the help.

Jan 20, 2012, 12:09pm Top

Newbies to the group unite!

I really want to read 11/22/63 - it's the convergence of two things I was obsessed with in high school. (You have no idea how many books about the Kennedys I have read ... it was a little overboard.) I'm hoping it turns up in Kindle form at our library sometime soon.

Jan 20, 2012, 12:34pm Top

>ursula, I'm reading it on my Kindle. I have never read Stephen King before but it pulls you in right away. I am really enjoying it so far.

Jan 20, 2012, 12:42pm Top

I have no doubt it exists on Kindle, but it's certainly not at our library yet. Though they do have a lot more King books than they did a month ago, so hopefully it'll appear soonish.

Jan 21, 2012, 1:48pm Top

Book #2: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

This is a YA book that was a really fun read. The main character, Karou, is straddling two worlds, but does not know anything about one of them. She does not even know who she is or where she came from. She has grown up in a shop that is in the business of collecting teeth and paying in wishes. The wishes are a currency with varying denominations and while Karou understands this aspect of the business, she does not know where the wishes come from or what purpose the teeth serve. The shop exists in a type of annex that exists between the two worlds. One door Karou has never been through leads to a world that she knows nothing about except that it belongs to the chimaera who run the shop. Another door leads to a portal system that can open up in various locations on earth. As the story opens, Karou is an art student living in Prague and trying hard to fit in and lead a normal existence; she keeps a kind of graphic novel where she can fuse her two lives together; her human friends think it is fiction, her chimaera friends think it is a fascinating study of humans. Karou is often called away from her human life to run errands for the shop. She travels the world through the portal system in order to procure teeth from collectors who have become persona non grata in the shop. This story really takes off when Karou notices that the portal doors are being marked by black handprints that seem to be burned into wood. As things heat up, she finds herself positioned between seraphim and chimaera in a war that she knows nothing about.

This book was full of fun imagery such as "...loneliness is worse when you return to it after a reprieve - like the soul's version of putting on a wet bathing suit, clammy and miserable." and "The wind carried the memory of magic, revolution, violins, and the cobbled lanes meandered like creeks."

It also hits on simple truths such as "His shadow revealed what looking at him did not. Shadows told the truth..." and "Wishes are false. Hope is true. Hope makes its own magic."

I gave this book four stars. It is obviously set up for a sequel (probably a trilogy, as that seems to be a popular format in YA these days), and I look forward to seeing where the storyline leads. Definitely worth following.

Jan 22, 2012, 9:14am Top

I'm going to put this in my daughter's wishlist!

Jan 22, 2012, 10:51am Top

Hi, Lucy! I gave it to my daughter as soon as I was done with it!

Edited: Jan 23, 2012, 12:52pm Top

>Ursula, sorry, I just misread your earlier post. Our library does not have books for Kindle yet, but that would be so great. How does it work exactly? I checked out your journals that you do the binding for and they are really beautiful. What a cool way to repurpose the covers.

Jan 23, 2012, 3:36pm Top

The Kindle/library thing is a little clunky, but not too bad. You check them out through the library site, and then it gives you a link to download it that sends it through your Amazon account. But it's meant that I can read a lot more than I would normally (I have learned to avoid the library because I'm terrible at returning things - this way they just disappear!)

Thank you about the journals, too. I never know whether people are going to think they're sacrilege or not. :)

Jan 26, 2012, 12:21pm Top

Book #3: 11/22/63 by Stephen King

I hesitate to add another review of this book because there are already so many of them, but I will say that I really enjoyed this journey through the fifties and sixties. I have never read anything by Stephen King before, but I heard him discussing this book on some morning talk show, and I thought that the premise was just so intriguing. I also thought that he was really brave to take on a subject that so many people know so much about. I was not alive when Kennedy was assassinated, but I have five older sisters who were, and I have come to appreciate that it is a moment, for those who experienced it, that is forever ingrained on their psyche. Much like 9/11, it is an event that did not seem either plausible or possible but happened and was somehow captured on video and thus played repeatedly by the various media outlets, so that long after the footage had been archived, we continued to play it over and over again in our heads because our hearts could not process the information - senseless tragedy does that.

The main character of the story, Jake Epping, is also too young to have experienced the events that he travels back in time to change. This is a brilliant choice by King, I think, as Jake is then seeing history unfold with new eyes; he is not burdened with remembering where he was and what he was doing as events unfold. Jake is also an English teacher and this makes for a nice marriage with King's writing style, which is peppered with delicious imagery, dry wit, and wonderful literary references. For example, "...the dime had come from the future; it was a copper sandwich, really no more than a penny with pretensions." And also, "...he went scattering away from me along the side of the shed, pushing with his hands and sliding on his butt. I'd say he looked like a crippled spider, but he didn't. He looked like what he was: a wino with a brain that was damp going on wet."

Wonderful writing aside, the plot and pacing of the book were also good. At 849 pages, this is no small novel, but it is a quick read. A few readers have mentioned that the book seemed a little too long, and it did drag a bit about the 50-60% mark, but i don't know which parts I would have left out. I gave it 5 stars, which for me is a book that I would not only recommend, but that I also throughly loved and will read again.

Jan 26, 2012, 1:47pm Top

Great review! This is going to end up being my first King read ever. Not until late April or May as I plan to give it to the spousal unit for his birthday. (mid-April).

Jan 26, 2012, 2:18pm Top

Thanks, Lucy! I really loved this book - pulls you in right away. I had it from the library first - funny story. I was on the hold list forever for it and when it came in I got the large print edition; it was like carrying around a doorstop, so I read the first few chapters to make sure that I liked it and then ordered it on Kindle with a gift card that I got for Christmas. Best use of a gift card ever!

Congrats on the puppy - what a cutie! I think you should do the skip school thing with your daughter; what a cool memory that would make.

Jan 26, 2012, 8:08pm Top

I knew I could count on your support!

Jan 26, 2012, 8:10pm Top

Yup, this is the one I'm recommending to those folks who have hesitated to read King's horror. It's got his great ear for words and sense of people, but is more accessible than The Shining, for instance. Glad you liked it!

Jan 27, 2012, 6:58am Top

Jim, I can see why he would be really good at writing horror. He has such a great command of vocabulary and is so wonderful at building sentences and pulling the reader into the story. I loved how he made some of the buildings and places in the story seem like ominous characters and used just enough foreshadowing to make the hairs on the back of your neck begin to stand up. I am toying around with reading something from his earlier works - any suggestions on where to start?

Jan 27, 2012, 4:34pm Top

My favorites are The Shining (starring a very ominous building!), The Stand, and 'Salem's Lot. I also like the more recent Duma Key and Under the Dome.

Jan 27, 2012, 5:02pm Top

Thanks for the insight- I think I might try The Shining. Now, let's see, where to place it in the ever precarious pile of TBR??

Jan 27, 2012, 6:23pm Top

The Shining is definitely my favorite of his less-intimidating reads. The Stand is my real favorite, but I don't really recommend that one out because it's monstrous in size and scope.

Jan 27, 2012, 6:26pm Top

Nice review of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I'll look for that one.

Jan 27, 2012, 6:35pm Top

Ursula -I saw The Stand at the library, and it scared me a little! I better start off small and work my way up.

Jadebird - thanks! I really enjoyed it, and it was a quick read because the story pulls you right in. Hope you like it.

Edited: Jan 28, 2012, 7:10am Top

My favorite is definitely The Stand, but the four Bachman (King's pen name) short stories including The Long Walk are excellent, too. I didn't care that much for The Shining personally.

Jan 28, 2012, 7:32am Top

I didn't know King had written under a pen name. I will have to check those out - thanks for the info.

Jan 28, 2012, 7:13pm Top

Book #4 A Drink Before the War by Dennis Lehane - 4 stars

This is a thriller that is gritty, full of action, and fast paced. It is also the first book in a series that features private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro. As the story opens, the investigative team is hired by a group of politicians to retrieve documents that have been stolen by the cleaning lady, who is now missing. As Patrick and Angie set out to track down the missing woman, they find themselves caught up between two rival gangs, and, as they discover just what the highly sought after documents contain, they face their own ethical dilemma about what the proper course of action should be.

This type of book is comfort food for me. I love a good detective story that can sustain plot and pacing. Throw in lead characters that make you want to join them again for another adventure, and you have a winner, winner chicken dinner. So far, there are six books in this series by the author of Shutter Island, and I plan on reading every one of them. While not as well written as Shutter Island, this was also the author's first book, and so I look forward to experiencing his transition from adequate and engaging to brilliant mastermind (I absolutely LOVED Shutter Island).

Jan 29, 2012, 11:25am Top

Just thought I'd throw in another vote for The Stand - I'm not a horror fan, but give me a good plague book ....

There are actually two versions of The Stand out there - one is the originally published shorter version and the other published several year ago that includes what the editors' wanted King to leave out. By reading the shorter version, you won't miss anything important, although I'm certain King would disagree.

One of these days I'll get 11/22/63 from the library....

Jan 29, 2012, 2:33pm Top

Wow - another vote for The Stand! I guess I will have to add that one to my list. Perhaps I should take my 17 year old son with me to the library to tote it for me?! Are you guys just picking the biggest one for me?

Dejah, I saw from your profile that you live in Georgia. I currently live in Indiana, but we are moving to Georgia in the Spring. I will miss the snow, but it is beautiful down there.

Jan 29, 2012, 5:06pm Top

I think it's just that King is very strong on characterization and The Stand has many wonderful characters - both good and bad.

Jan 29, 2012, 5:31pm Top

>32 Crazymamie: I am very happy to be back in Georgia -- and I don't miss the snow one bit! Then again, I grew up in Florida -- I found snow fascinating as a kid, but after years of living cold places I'm reverting to type and am happy to be done with it.

I hope your move is smooth - and that you love it down here!

Jan 29, 2012, 9:22pm Top

Morphidae - I think that's what I loved about 11/22/63, the characters were drawn so fully, and I found myself not wanting to leave them behind. King also has a wonderful conversational writing style and an eye for detail.

Dejah - We are so looking forward to the move. We have spent a lot of time in Savannah and in the Carolinas over the years, and we just love it down there. I am looking forward to spending more of the year out on a deck with an iced coffee and a good book.

Edited: Jan 31, 2012, 5:01pm Top

Book #5: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

This is science fiction that hooked me from the beginning. I read it in two days and would have finished it the same day that I started it if real life had not intruded. Ender is the name of the main character, and though when we first meet him, he is only six, he is about to learn that the fate of the earth may rest on his small shoulders. The story moves quickly, and by the time I reached the apex of the action, I was exhausted. Then came what I wasn't expecting - the story kept going long after I thought it had reached its perfect ending. At first, I was annoyed that the author was dragging things out and was probably going to leave me with a bad taste in my mouth simply because he couldn't wrap things up. I hate when the ending doesn't match up with the quality of the rest of the book. I need not have worried - the ending was GOOD. Very good. And satisfying. I would recommend it for anyone - you don't have to be a science fiction fan to enjoy this story.

I collect quotes, and here is one of my favorite from this book, "Maybe knowing about craziness means you don't have to fall for it."

Jan 31, 2012, 3:56pm Top

>35 Crazymamie:

It's been a really warm winter here in GA -- I've got windows and doors open here to day. Unless you'll be in Atlanta, we'll be in the same statewide library system - PINES. Let me warn you now to only go on PINES with Chrome - IE is a disaster....

>36 Crazymamie:

I'm very fond of Ender's Game. Actually, it was written and published as adult SF, but I've certainly seen it on many YA shelves. Now you have to decide if you want to read the sequels. Personally, I've skipped them - I didn't want to risk ruining a perfect ending.

Jan 31, 2012, 4:34pm Top

Dejah - It has been a strange winter in Indiana; today it is like Spring at a toasty 59 degrees right now. The weather will probably be the biggest adjustment for us. We are moving to Albany, actually, so it sounds like I will be using your same system. That's good to know. I have a Mac so I usually use either Safari or Firefox, but there is an available download for Chrome, so I should probably get that.

I did not realize Ender's Game was not YA - should have looked it up. I guess I just assumed. Thanks for the clarification. That's funny you should mention that about the sequels because I was thinking the exact same thing. I will probably leave well enough alone because, like you, I really liked the ending.

Jan 31, 2012, 5:47pm Top

I've been working on the SF and Fantasy collection at our library -- we decided to put adult and YA fantasy together - our librarian decided to do away with YA since nobody was reading them; we mostly get little kids and adult readers -- the school libraries, Middle and High are quite solid and the kids mostly get their books there...... anyway.... we've got all the Ender's in J for now and the rest of Card's stuff in the new collection, but I might change that. If our library were a bit bigger I would have them in both places!!!!

Jan 31, 2012, 6:02pm Top

I think that's why I assumed it was YA - that's where our library has them.

Feb 1, 2012, 5:39pm Top

"...And perhaps that might be the way to write this book - to open the pages and to let the stories crawl in by themselves."

Book #6: Cannery Row by John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck writes poetry that masquerades as prose. His beautiful progression of imagery and vividly drawn characterizations make this collection of vignettes a delightful read, which is good because there isn't much of a plot. In this short novel, written in 1945, Steinbeck establishes the setting of the story, not just the physical place but also the place in time, as the main character. He paints this setting so vividly:

"Early morning is a time of magic in Cannery Row. In the gray time after the light has come and before the sun has risen, the Row seems to hang suspended out of time in silvery light....The street is silent of progress and business. And the rush and drag of the waves can be heard as they splash in among the piles of the canneries. It is a time of great peace, a deserted time, a little era of rest. Cats drip over the fences and slither like syrup over the ground to look for fish heads....It is the hour of the pearl - the interval between day and night when time stops and examines itself."

The remaining cast of characters are just as interesting. What little plot there is centers around Doc, the marine biologist whose heart is as big as his mind: "He can kill anything for need but he could not even hurt a feeling for pleasure." Unfortunately for Doc, this inspires a small group of local men to plan a surprise party for him. What results is a story worthy of a lazy summer afternoon. The characters are flawed but likable. The pace meanders; this is a journey through a series of sketches that are linked by a common denominator, not a fast paced adventure. But it's beautifully written, and I know that I will pick it up off my shelf and read it again. I am giving it 4 1/2 stars.

Feb 2, 2012, 8:07am Top

Thanks for your description of Cannery Row. I knew I'd read it many years ago and did not have much recollection other than I knew I liked it. When I read your description Steinbeck's beautiful language just came back to me and I remembered vividly how well he wrote, and how you could feel you were there.

Feb 2, 2012, 8:50am Top

Fine review! When the group gets to Travels With Charley I have to reread that one, in the meantime, revisiting them in reviews is great!

Feb 2, 2012, 9:05am Top

Thanks Lucy and Karen. I can't believe that I just read The Grapes of Wrath for the first time last year and fell in love with the beautiful language and then joined this group for the first time this year and there is a Steinbeckathon going on! Must be fate - "I believe in the curlycued whimsy of fate." Ever hear that quote from the tv show Life on Mars? Cancelled in its first season like most of the shows that I fall in love with. Oh well.

Feb 3, 2012, 11:00am Top

I've heard good things about 'Mars' -- I have the same problem.

Feb 4, 2012, 11:38am Top

Book #7: The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien

This is the first book in The Lord of the Rings trilogy - the epic fantasy about the choice between good and evil and the ultimate cost of that choice. This first leg of the journey explains the origin of the ring that Bilbo Baggins encounters in the prequel to this story, The Hobbit (which I highly recommend reading first although it is not strictly necessary). The ring is passed to Bilbo's nephew Frodo, and it is Frodo who must be the bearer of the ring as a group of nine (the fellowship) set out to escort the ring to the only place that it can be destroyed - in the fires of Mordor, where it was originally forged. Along the way, the group is pursued by the forces of evil and Frodo learns that a ring as powerful as the one he carries has the power to corrupt even those who were chosen to protect him.

This is one of my son's favorite books, and although I was familiar with the storyline and have read The Hobbit several times, I had never read this trilogy - an oversight soon corrected. I loved this first book, giving it five stars, and have already begun reading the next one.

Feb 4, 2012, 12:17pm Top

Book #8: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Santiago is the old man in this story and he is a fisherman who has been very unlucky; he has caught no fish for the past 84 days. The majority of the story takes place as the old man sets out once again to fish and catches the biggest fish that he has ever caught - a marlin. He must struggle against the sea, the fish, his own physical limitations, and the forces of nature as he attempts to bring the fish in and return home.

I listened to the audiobook of this story which is narrated by Donald Sutherland. His voice and rhythm are an excellent match for this particular tale as much of the book is the internal monologue of the old man. This story is also a perfect fit for Hemingway's sparse and utilitarian writing style. Not always a fan of Hemingway, I really enjoyed this book. I am giving it four stars.

Feb 4, 2012, 3:46pm Top

Book #9 The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Just finished reading The Woman in Black, which I picked up because of the earlier discussion about it in Jim's (aka drneutron) thread. What a deliciously creepy read. It reminded me of the beginning of Dracula because of the narrative style but also because of the circumstances - solicitor gets sent on an errand to someplace that he has never been and must travel by multiple conveyances to get there, everyone that learns about his business and destination reacts strangely but will not give him the inside scoop, and then seriously strange things start happening. This is a ghost story told in the gothic style that will not disappoint. The ending also holds up. I am giving it 4 1/2 stars.

Feb 5, 2012, 4:57am Top

#46: I just finished the LOTR trilogy last weekend and I wasn't disappointed! Glad to see that you enjoyed the first volume, too!

#47: I don't know why, but until so far I have avoided Hemingway. I've got The Old Man and the Sea on my shelves, but it'll still have to wait some time before I'll read it.

#48: I've read so many positive reviews of The Woman in Black, so I'm afraid that my TBR-pile will be enlarged again.

Feb 5, 2012, 10:51am Top

48: I sure am hearing a lot about The Woman in Black lately. I'm not usually into "gothic", but everything I've heard is overwhelming positive. I may have to add it to my wishlist.

Feb 5, 2012, 11:32am Top

Kathy - Welcome! I have a love/hate relationship with Hemingway. I really loved A Moveable Feast and quite liked The Old Man and the Sea, both written later in his life. I really did not like To Have and Have Not and The Sun Also Rises. I LOVED The Fellowship of the Ring and found that it moved at a quicker pace than The Hobbit for me. Really enjoying the next one in the series so far.

SugarCreekRanch - Welcome! I thought that the gothic style lent itself perfectly to this particular story. It is very well done without going over the top. I checked out your thread and starred it (and yours too, Kathy) so that I could find my way back. I think The Cypress House sounds interesting and have added it to my wishlist.

Feb 6, 2012, 12:13pm Top

So happy that you loved Fellowship..... I'm a Tolkien nutcase, so I'm always overjoyed when someone discovers how great he was!

Feb 7, 2012, 9:12am Top

Well, all right. I'll add The Woman in Black to the TBR list! Can't promise I'll see the film, though. Too creepy for me!!!

Feb 8, 2012, 1:25pm Top

Book #10: City of Bones by Michael Connelly

This is the eight book in Connelly's Harry Bosch series. Last year I read The Lincoln Lawyer and absolutely loved it, so I decided to go back and start at the beginning and read everything that Connelly had written. I discovered that The Lincoln Lawyer was his sixteenth book, and it was the first book of his to feature Mickey Haller as the main character. Connelly's very first book was The Black Echo and featured Harry Bosch, a homicide detective working in Los Angeles. Bosch is a flawed character who lives according to his own moral compass, but he is likable and at times even admirable. What I like about these books is that his character is revealed a little at a time, so that each book offers new insight into his psyche. I also really love that Los Angeles comes alive in these books - Connelly treats the city like an aging movie star, so that the reader sees both the grit and the glamour, the innocence and the cynicism, and is treated to a history of her iconic buildings and streets.

In this particular story, Bosch is searching to identify and explain the presence of the bones of a young boy that are found in a shallow grave. The trail is cold as the murder is more than two decades old. As Bosch struggles to piece the puzzle together, he must also struggle against the media's frenzy for a lead story and the political corruption of a police department that places the value of a good public image above the truth. Although this story is not quite as good as its two immediate predecessors (Trunk Music and Angel's Flight), it is still a good solid read. The ending will send Bosch fans scrambling for the next book in the series. Four stars.

Feb 9, 2012, 9:26pm Top

Book #11: Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

This is a beautifully written work of narrative nonfiction that reads like a novel. Katherine Boo spent three years researching this book in Annawadi, a slum located behind the international airport in Mumbai, India. The author's notes at the end of the book describe just how meticulous her research for this project was and give valuable insight into the author's reasons for writing it.

The book itself follows several different families living in the slum which has become a melting pot of Hindu and Muslim, old India and modern India, dreams and despair. The struggle for everyday existence is about more than survival; it is about defining humanity. There is Abdul, a teenage Muslim boy who sorts garbage and is burdened with being his family's chief source of income. There is Asha, a Hindu mother and kindergarten teacher, who understands that there is power to be had by manipulating the corruption that is rampant in India. Asha's daughter, Manju, dreams of graduating from college and choosing her own destiny. And Fatima, a woman with only one leg whose bitter heart will change everything. The stories that unfold are heartbreaking and tragic, and yet they are stories that need to be told, that need to be heard in order to illustrate that before anything else we are all human.

"Water and ice were made of the same thing. He (Abdul) thought most people were made of the same thing, too. He himself was probably little different, constitutionally, from the cynical, corrupt people around him-the police officers and the special executive officer and the morgue doctor who fixed Kalu's death. If he had to sort all humanity by its material essence, he thought he would probably end up with a single gigantic pile. But here was the interesting thing. Ice was distinct from - and in his view, better than - what it was made of. He wanted to be better than what he was made of. In Mumbai's dirty water, he wanted to be ice. He wanted to have ideals. For self-interested reasons, one of the ideals he most wanted to have was a belief in the possibility of justice."

Edited: Feb 10, 2012, 8:15pm Top

Book #12: Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

I wish that I could give a copy of this book to everyone that I know. The main character is a fifth grader named Caitlyn who is struggling to understand what life without her older brother, Devon, means and how to navigate her world without him. Caitlyn has Aspergers Syndrome, and her perceptions and observations as she searches for closure and struggles for a way to bridge her reality with the reality of those around her are both poignant and humorous. What is amazing about this book is just how well the author captured the mindset of a ten year old girl with Aspergers. My oldest daughter has Aspergers, and though she is now nineteen, I remember so vividly those years of facial expressions charts, manners mastered one sticker at a time, and the struggle to remember "socially acceptable" behavior. Patiently she would explain to me why socks should be worn inside out, why food "wants to be segregated" on the plate, and why crayons should always be naked - "the paper is itchy". This book is an entertaining and thought provoking glimpse into that world.

"Sometimes I read the same books over and over and over. What's great about books is that the stuff inside doesn't change. People say you can't judge a book by its cover but that's not true because it says right on the cover what's inside. And no matter how many times you read that book the words and pictures don't change. You can open and close books a million times and they stay the same. They say the same words. The charts and pictures are the same colors. Books are not like people. Books are safe."

Feb 10, 2012, 8:54pm Top

Lovely review of Mockingbird.

Feb 12, 2012, 8:41pm Top

Thanks, Lucy!

Feb 12, 2012, 9:55pm Top

Book #13 The Wayward Bus by John Steinbeck

I finished this book and then actually had to take a day just to ponder how I felt about it. I felt stumped about how I would rate it. It is edgy, and it is darker and more disturbing than Cannery Row, which I read last month. That being said, it is also beautifully written and engrossing.

Juan Chicoy and his wife Alice own and operate a small service station and restaurant in Rebel Corners. Juan also drives the bus from Rebel Corners to San Juan de la Cruz, making their place a stopover between Greyhound bus stations. As the story opens, travelers have been stranded at the shop over night because of mechanical problems, and so as the reader meets the characters for the first time, they are already on edge. Before they board the bus, and the story really takes off, Norma, the waitress will fight with Alice and quit her job, and Alice and Juan will reveal just how rocky their marriage is. Add one more passenger in the form of Camille- young, blonde, beautiful, and street savvy- and you have a recipe for disaster, or at the least, a very bumpy ride. Before the trip is over, all the characters will be revealed fully, striped down to their basest forms, with no apologies from Steinbeck. It makes the reader feel uncomfortable to see them all in their nakedness - at least, it made me feel uncomfortable.

Is it possible to enjoy a book, but not like the story? I loved the language that Steinbeck used to describe these characters and their surroundings; I was impressed with his ability to delve so deeply into each character's heart and mind and to convey their thought, hopes, and dreams in prose that was so pure and simple, and yet artistic. For example, as Juan prepares to leave Alice alone at the shop, and he is wondering just why he stays with her, Steinbeck writes:

"Because she can cook beans, he said to himself. But there was another reason too. She loved him. She really did. And he knew it. And you can't leave a thing like that. It's a structure and it has an architecture, and you can't leave it without tearing off a piece of yourself. So if you want to remain whole you stay no matter how much you may dislike staying. Juan was not a man who fooled himself very much."

In the end, I was left with a story that I didn't much care for, probably because the characters were, for me, so unlikable - an unpredictable balance of beauty and ugliness that was disconcerting for me. The book, however, lingered. I just couldn't stop thinking about it, and I think that perhaps that is what Steinbeck intended. If so, then the book is a success despite the fact that I didn't like the story. If that makes any sense! I am giving it four stars just for its ability to get under my skin and stay there.

Feb 13, 2012, 8:43am Top

Wow... both Behind the Beautiful Forevers and Mockingbird sound fantastic. On the list they go! I very much enjoyed your reviews.

Feb 13, 2012, 4:36pm Top

I read Mockingbird in one day it was so good. I was laughing and crying off and on the whole time that I was reading it!

I can't believe how quickly you got the Wayward Bus in her Mum!

Feb 13, 2012, 6:38pm Top

Behind the beautiful forevers just came in at the library where I work. It's going on my ginormous TBR pile.

When are you moving to Georgia? I live in the metro Atlanta area, so we won't be close geographically, but welcome! Hope you like it.

Feb 13, 2012, 6:49pm Top

Hoping to move in May, if the house sells quickly. I really loved Behind the Beautiful Forevers.

Feb 13, 2012, 9:01pm Top

Book #14: Pronto by Elmore Leonard 4 stars

I read this book purely out of curiosity, but I ended up really liking it. My husband and I love the tv show Justified. This book introduces the character of U. S. Marshall Raylan Givens. Interestingly enough, Raylan is not the lead character here - that spot belongs to Harry Arno, a bookie who has managed to find himself wanted by both the law and the mafia. Harry jumps bail and flees to Italy, and who should follow but Raylan Givens. Harry has twice given the slip to the marshall, and now Raylan wants to prove that he can deliver. Even more than that, Raylan knows that Harry has gotten himself in over his head. What follows is a story filled with quirky characters, nonstop action, and lots of humor. Pure mind candy!

Feb 14, 2012, 2:22am Top

#59: Oh no, not another author I haven't read but who's waiting on my shelves... I want to read East of Eden, but The Wayward Bus sounds also very catching. Does Steinbeck write in a difficult English?

I have been thinking about the possiblity of liking a book, but not the story. When I think about myself it's usually the other way round - that I like a story very much and can ignore the poor writing. But i cannot remember a single book which I read only for the language... maybe I can think of one later...

Feb 14, 2012, 7:19am Top

Kathy - I don't think Steinbeck's English is difficult, but I am probably a poor judge because I only speak one language. He writes beautifully and really paints a picture for his readers. Much easier to follow than the Jane Austen you just finished because he wrote in the 1940s, so closer to how we speak today than Austen. Did you know about the Steinbeckathon where they are reading a different book of his each month of this year and organizing a thread to discuss the book? So far they have read Cannery Row and The Wayward Bus and next month is The Winter of Our Discontent. They are going to read East of Eden in July so you might want to consider waiting until then to tackle East of Eden because there would be a whole group of people reading it at the same time that you could discuss the book with. I haven't read that one either and am looking forward to it. Here is the link to the main Steinbeckathon thread if you are interested.


Feb 14, 2012, 7:34am Top

Mamie, thanks a lot for the hint about the Steinbeckaton!! Actually I have read a thread-title concerning it, but I wasn't aware that this was a year-long reading project. I'll have a deeper look at the Steinbeckaton - maybe there's another book before July that I would like to read.

And thanks for the language explanation: I asked because sometimes even more modern writers use a very elevated language (e.g. idiomatic expressions, or things written in-between the lines). But the way you describe it, it seems to be manageable.

Feb 14, 2012, 1:57pm Top

Elmore Leonard is fun..... I'm coming over to wish you Happy Valentine's Day also!

I haven't read The Wayward Bus but I do know exactly what you mean about loving the writing and not loving the story.

Feb 14, 2012, 7:59pm Top

We are Justified addicts in this house, too! Raylan is a terrific character, and even more so when he's in a scene with Boyd. I've read a couple of Leonard books, Rum Punch (the basis for the movie Jackie Brown) and Out of Sight (movie of the same name) and enjoyed his writing, but I'm really, really afraid to ruin my opinions of tv Raylan with book Raylan.

Feb 15, 2012, 8:11am Top

I had no idea that Leonard was such a prolific writer until checked to see what lease he had written after finishing Pronto. I was curious about Out of Sight - did you like the book?

I don't think this book would ruin your opinion of Raylan - it takes place when he is wiring in Miami, so before the series on tv starts. The books not his story, but he completely steals the show. In fact, I could hear Tim Olyphant's voice in my head delivering his lines. The main discrepancies with the show are all in the background - he has two sons with Winona, but since they are divorced and living elsewhere, you don't meet them, and his father is dead. The character is vintage Raylan and the story that takes place is actually the one that he refers to in the show that led to his being sent back to Kentucky. Except that it took place in Italy, not Nicaragua.

Feb 17, 2012, 7:21pm Top

Book #15: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

This book is a retelling of the Russian fairy tale of the same name. Jack and Mabel are an older couple who have moved to Alaska to escape the constant reminder that they have never been able to have any children. For Mabel, the Alaskan wilderness is as barren and desolate as she feels, but offers a way to start over away from the pity and the whispers. She wants a chance to build something for just the two of them and hopes that the hard work and isolation will provide solace for her grief. Things have not turned out as she envisioned, however. Instead of working the farm together, side by side, Jack and Mabel are dividing and conquering the tasks just as they have their grief - independently and alone. One evening during a snowstorm, the couple recaptures some of their youthful energy, and after a snowball fight they build a small snowman together. When they are done accessorizing their creation, they realize they have built a snow daughter. The next morning, Jack discovers that the snow sculpture has been destroyed and then notices that all of their props are missing - gone are the mittens and scarf and everything else that they used to make the snow girl appear real. And then he spies the small, human-like tracks leading away from the site and into the woods. What follows is a story that is the perfect companion for a winter's day - a cozy read best enjoyed in a comfy chair. Although the story is a bit longer than it needs to be, it is lovingly written and touches deeper than the surface as it explores the definition of family and friendship. I am giving it four stars.

Feb 19, 2012, 5:44pm Top

Book #16: Riding the Rap by Elmore Leonard

This is the second book featuring the character of Raylan Givens, and this time he is the main character. Anyone familiar with the tv show Justified would recognize this story as the convoluted version of the second episode in the first season of that show. If I hadn't seen that show first, I would probably rate this book higher, but, alas, I love the show. This book was fun, fast paced, and ...confusing. Most of the confusion was a direct result of seeing the television version first. What was changed for the video version made the story cleaner and leaner, and much, much easier to follow. For fans of the show, I would say skip the book, which is not something that I would usually recommend.

Harry Arno (the main character from the first book) again makes an appearance as a pivotal part of the plot. He has been cleaning up his books and preparing to retire, and so he sent Bobby Deo to collect $18,000 that is owed to him. Bobby is offered a better deal than his percentage from Harry by the man who owes the debt. To cash in on the crazy scheme, they must first kidnap Harry and ransom him - to himself. Crazy, witty, and fast paced, this book is a trip. I'm giving it 3.5 stars.

Feb 20, 2012, 11:21am Top

It's funny, I think the main thing I didn't like about the couple of Leonard books I've read were exactly what you touch on here - they're very convoluted and complicated. The characters are great, the dialogue is great, but the stories are really twisty- turny.

Feb 20, 2012, 11:41am Top

Ursula - that last sentence sums it up perfectly!

Feb 23, 2012, 2:28pm Top

Book #17: The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien

This is the second book in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and it is superb! At the end of the first book, the Fellowship had been broken, and Frodo and Sam had set out on their own to complete the mission. This book begins directly where the first one left off, and we find that instead of one journey, we are now following three journeys. Merry and Pippin have been carried off by Orcs, Sam and Frodo have set off for Mordor, and the remaining members of the Fellowship are tracking Merry and Pippin in the hopes of rescuing them. What makes this book so fun is that now we get to really explore the geography of Tolkien's world building of Middle Earth - and it is fabulous. New characters meld with old ones to fill in existing story lines and add depth and dimension to an already gripping adventure. The cliffhanger at the end of the book makes it impossible to do anything other than pick up the next one and begin. 5 stars

Feb 24, 2012, 10:38am Top

I can't stop repeating myself!!! So happy you are loving Tolkien!

Feb 27, 2012, 3:53pm Top

Book #18 Once There Was a War by John Steinbeck

In 1943, John Steinbeck was a war correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune, and the dispatches that he filed from overseas captured the backstory to the war. He did not publish these stories in book form until 1958, and then he did not edit them:

"The pieces in this volume were written under pressure and in tension. My first impulse on rereading them was to correct, to change, to smooth out ragged sentences and remove repetitions, but their very raggedness is, it seems to me, a parcel of their immediacy. They are as real as the wicked witch and the good fairy, as true and tested and edited as any other myth. There once was a war, long ago--once upon a time."

These stories date from June 20,1943 through December 13,1943 and take place in England, Africa, and Italy; in fact, the book is divided into sections based on location, but the stories are in chronological order. The picture they present of WWII are the small forgotten moments that occur when troops are being transported or bomber crews are waiting for their next mission. Among the many ordinary service men and women, we meet Big Train Mulligan, the Army private who worked hard at not getting promoted, an alcoholic goat known as Wing Commander William Goat, DSO, who was buried with full military honors, and Bugs, a private first class who has acquired a souvenir that is not easy to transport - a mirror that is 6'2" by 4' and weighs about 75 pounds. Page by page, Steinbeck paints a picture of what the war was like when no one was looking.

On an imaginary line the children stand and watch the cargo come out. They are not permitted to go beyond their line for fear they might be hurt. There are at least a hundred of them, a little shabby, as everyone in England is after four years of war. And not too clean, for they have been playing on ground that is largely coal dust. How they cluster about an American soldier who has come off the ship! They want gum. Much as the British may deplore the gum-chewing habit, their children find it delightful. There are semi-professional gum beggars among the children. "Penny, mister?" has given way to "Goom, mister?" When you have gum you have something permanent, something you can use day after day and even trade when you are tired of it. Candy is ephemeral. One moment you have candy, and the next moment you haven't. But gum is real property. The grubby little hands are held up to the soldier and the chorus swells. "Goom, mister?"

Edited: Feb 27, 2012, 6:09pm Top

Book #19: The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill

This book was great fun. The characters and the dialogue alone make it for me, but throw in a little bit of mystery, an unusual setting, and the fact that the main character, Dr. Siri Paiboun sees dead people (um, not just the ones on his exam table), and you have all the ingredients for a good yarn.

Dr. Siri Paiboun is the reluctant coroner in the 1970s communist regime of Laos. He wants to retire, after all he is 72 and has no training to be a coroner, but the government has other ideas. Although Dr. Siri has been a card-carrying member of the Communist Party for over forty years, he has become cynical and outspoken:

If the truth were to be told, he was a heathen of a communist. He'd come to believe two conflicting ideas with equal conviction: that communism was the only way a man could be truly content; and that man, given his selfish ways, could never practice communism with any success. The natural product of these two views was that man could never be content.

As bodies begin to arrive at his lab, the government will soon realize that perhaps his position is not the best place to stash someone who feels that they have nothing to lose. The first body to arrive is that of Mrs. Nitnoy - "She was a strong, loud woman with a large, menacing chest and hips that rolled at you like tank treads. She was a senior cadre at the Woman's Union and carried as much weight politically as she did structurally." Apparently she just keeled over in the middle of a luncheon and died. She is the wife of Senior Comrade Kham, a high ranking member of the Parliament, and at nine that evening Comrade Kham shows up to collect his wife's body. Which he does - even though the autopsy is not yet finished. Everyone in charge agrees that there is no reason to investigate, so of course Siri begins to investigate. Next come the bodies of two Vietnamese nationals found floating in a lake, and then the body of a hairdresser whose apparent suicide may or may not be related to the death of Mrs. Nitnoy. Curiouser and curiouser.

Suddenly, being the coroner doesn't seem so terrible. Turning to his two assistants, the good doctor surmises, "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." He walked over to the doorway, turned back to his team, clicked the heels of his sandals together, and saluted.

If you prefer your murder mysteries served without a side of mysticism, then perhaps this isn't the book for you - but you'll be missing an incredibly fun read. 4 stars.

Feb 27, 2012, 6:41pm Top

Book #20: Below Stairs by Margaret Powell

Fans of Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey will enjoy this behind the scenes look at life as a member of the domestic staff at a manor house during the Gilded Age. Margaret Powell was only fifteen when she entered the halls of domestic service as a kitchen maid, the lowest position in the domestic service hierarchy. Her memoir chronicles her years of service as she changes households and rises in position to the post of cook. At times embittered, at times funny, she does a good job of revealing what that lifestyle entailed through her own eyes. The beginning starts slow, and the end drags a bit, but the middle is pure reading pleasure, full of wit and humor. I'm giving it 3.5 stars because better editing could have made this a more enjoyable book.

I remember asking her if I could borrow a book from her library to read, and I can see now the surprised look on her face. She said, "Yes, of course, certainly you can, Margaret," adding, "but I didn't know that you read." They knew that you breathed and you slept and you worked, but they didn't know that you read. Such a thing was beyond comprehension. They thought that in your spare time you sat and gazed into space, or looked at 'Peg's Paper' or the 'Crimson Circle'. You could almost see them reporting you to their friends. "Margaret's a good cook, but unfortunately she reads. Books, you know."

Feb 27, 2012, 9:10pm Top

You've been busy! Three completely different reads.

Feb 28, 2012, 8:31am Top

Great quote!

Feb 28, 2012, 8:32am Top

Below Stairs sounds very interesting... shame about the editing, though!

Edited: Feb 28, 2012, 9:36am Top

Morning Mamie- I finally stumbled my way over here! I REALLY like your book choices! My kind of LTer. Good reviews too. I requested Below Stairs a couple weeks ago. I'm glad you liked the 1st Dr. Siri book and hope you get a couple more fans aboard. The 2nd book is even better, IMHO.
I see you are a big fan of Elmore Leonard. I read many of his books over the years but haven't dabbled much in awhile, not since The Hot Kid, which was terrific. Actually, I'll be starting his latest, Raylan on audio, which of course is the character from the show "Justified".
Once again, great thread! You are officially starred!

Feb 28, 2012, 10:35am Top

Great reading and reviewing, Mamie!

Feb 28, 2012, 12:10pm Top

Wow - what a wonderful surprise to see that I've had so many visitors!

Lucy - I am really loving the last book in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. What Tolkien should I read next?

Karen and Faith - thanks for stopping in. I have your threads starred, so I will have to delurk and say hi. Below Stairs was a fun read, and only a little over 200 pages, I would recommend borrowing it from the library.

Mark - Thanks for the kind comments. I'm really trying to branch out and try new things this year, so it has been great to explore so many authors who are new to me. Really loved the character of Dr. Siri, so I will continue with that series, in fact, I already ordered the second one. (I know, I have no shame - so many people trying to cut back on the book purchases and I just recklessly plunge ahead. I am trying to read more off my shelves, too, though.)

Dejah - Always good to "see" you. I added Among Others to my wish list after seeing the discussion about it on your thread.

Feb 28, 2012, 10:13pm Top

Wellll, The Silmarillion leads you into the 'backstory' -- but there aren't any hobbits, no single unified story, and fresh from LOTR it might be very disappointing. You get a lot of back story about Middle Earth and the folks that abide in it...... What I would recommend is that you read the marvelous biography of Tolkien by Tom Shippey. There's another one by Humphrey Carpenter and they are both good, but the Shippey was just a bit better.

Once you've read The Hobbit and LOTR what is left are the Unfinished Tales and The Silmarillion and a scattering of poems, children's stories..... and then the opus that his son Christopher has been working on -- putting together all of the notes and writings in a coherent form so that you can, if you read them all, see the process whereby Tolkien gradually turned what was, frankly, not terribly interesting stuff, into this amazingly coherent story -- but he had spent so much time already inventing the whole world of Middle Earth that when he really sat down and wrote the four central books (Hobbit and LOTR) it was there . I just got the last few of Christopher's T's books for xmas this year and I plan to start them over and work through. It's astonishing to me to watch the whole epic take form, comforting too, how bad it was to begin with (Sauron, as a concept, started out as a very very bad cat named Tevildo, I kid you not!).

Okay, now I've overwhelmed you! And revealed what a Tolkien nut I am!

Feb 28, 2012, 10:32pm Top

A Tolkien nut - I love nutty people. Notice the Crazy in Crazymamie!! I will take your advice and start with the biography by Shippey. But I probably won't stop there. The world-building in LOTR is so complete that I think any details of how it evolved would be interesting. Thanks, Lucy!

Feb 29, 2012, 8:42am Top

>86 sibyx:: Oooh, I love your synopsis of Tolkien's work! I didn't realize that you'd see the progression through what his son had put together. Now I'm highly intrigued...

Feb 29, 2012, 10:10am Top

Yes, to see the progress sounds really interesting! I have got the Tolkien-biography by Carpenter as well as The Silmarillion - both unread. But as I plan to reread The Hobbit this year, it might be time to take a look at both books!

Edited: Feb 29, 2012, 1:10pm Top

I've left out some of his scholarly stuff -- a translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The Pearl. Another very enjoyable read is a book of essays by fantasy writers about Tolkien and his influence on their work: A Tolkien Compass is one and there is another one -- you can look at my (still not terribly well organized or even 'complete') Tolkien collection. In fact, I might work on it a bit as I've been meaning to...... Wait, even better Karen Haber's Meditation on Middle Earth - that's the one I'm thinking of.

Done! I went and tidied up a bit. Go to my collections, if you like, and look for Tolkien Collection and bingo.

Feb 29, 2012, 7:03pm Top

Book #21: 84 Charring Cross Road by Helene Hanff

This small book is a delightful collection of letters sent over the course of twenty years between a writer living in New York (Helene Hanff) and a secondhand bookshop in England (that resides at 84 Charring Cross Road). The letters are short and sweet, and sometimes sassy and will capture your heart from the very first epistle dated October 5, 1949. Helene Hanff sends off overseas for that which she cannot acquire at home - lovely editions of books that are affordably priced. Frank Doel works at Marks and Co. Booksellers and to him falls the task of hunting down the books requested by Helene and responding to her cheeky but thoughtful prose. Out of a love for literature will grow a friendship and camaraderie that will span two decades and infuse the entire staff of the bookshop with an appreciation for a mysterious American that loves books.

Feb 29, 2012, 7:09pm Top

Mamie- I've wanted to read 84 Charring Cross Road for ages. I saw the film many years ago and loved it. Everyone seems to love this book.

Feb 29, 2012, 7:15pm Top

I didn't know there was a film! I kept seeing it in everyone's libraries with high ratings, so I ordered it. It came today and I sat outside on the deck (in Indiana, in February - crazy weather) and read it in one shot. It is only 97 pages and it is impossible to put down. A great way to finish out a great month of reading for me.

Edited: Mar 31, 2012, 6:03pm Top

My First Set of Stats

Total Books Read for 2012: 21
* a total of 17 authors, 12 of them were new to me
* original publication dates ranged from 1945-2012
* I did not abandon any books
* 18 books were fiction, 3 were non-fiction

Author gender:
male: 14
female: 7

Hardcover: 5
Paperback: 6
ebook: 9

Purchased: 14 (this is high because I used gift certificates to purchase quite a few)
OTS: 5
Library Book: 2

Multiple Books Read by Same Author:
Elmore Leonard - 2
John Steinbeck - 3
J. R. R. Tolkien - 2

*what you should know about my library - I am not trying to decrease the number of books that I purchase in a calendar year, I am simply aiming to also make a significant dent in the piles of books already sitting on my shelves that are unread.

Edited: Mar 26, 2012, 7:31pm Top

Plans for March

Currently working on:
The Return of the King - J. R. R. Tolkien COMPLETED
The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde COMPLETED
Cup of Gold - John Steinbeck
The Winter of Our Discontent - John Steinbeck COMPLETED
Lady Sings the Blues - Billie Holiday
By the Iowa Sea - Joe Blair COMPLETED
A Severed Head - Iris Murdoch COMPLETED

Mystery March Candidates:
Still Life - Louise Penny COMPLETED
Darkness, Take my Hand - Dennis Lehane
The Little Sister - Raymond Chandler
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Alan Bradley
Thirty-Three Teeth - Colin Cotterill COMPLETED
Disco for the Departed - Colin Cotterill COMPLETED
Lost Light - Michael Connelly
The Redeemer - Jo Nesbo
A Share in Death - Deborah Crombie COMPLETED
Don't Look Back - Karin Fossum COMPLETED

Waiting in the Wings:
House of Stone - Anthony Shadid
I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith COMPLETED
Blood Red Road - Moira Young COMPLETED
The Magicians - Lev Grossman
Chess Story - Stefan Zweig
King Soloman's Mines - Henry Rider Haggard COMPLETED
Sea of Poppies - Amitav Ghosh

*I am not expecting to read all of these; they are merely possibilities. I usually have 4-5 books going at the same time and tend to read whatever I happen to be in the mood for.

Feb 29, 2012, 9:41pm Top

I'm first! Always feels special.

I am a Dodie Smith fant -- I love all of her books. I want to read the Haggard, really a reread but I read it when I was about 12 I think, so it will be 'like new'.

I loved the audio book rendition of the Alan Bradley mysteries (two so far) so much that I'll wait for the 3rd one.

Feb 29, 2012, 11:43pm Top

Excellent reading planned for March!

I'm a fan of I Capture the Castle, too. And for that matter, King Solomon's Mines. I hope you enjoy them and all your other books as well - I'm looking forward to your reviews.

Mar 2, 2012, 8:37am Top

I am really excited about this month's reading and hope that I can still get a lot of reading done as we prepare to put the house on the market - YIKES!!! All of my kids school from home so sometimes things can get really crazy here, but it is a good crazy, if you know what I mean. I am loving King Soloman's Mines, which I should not be reading with so many others going, but couldn't resist - free on Kindle, like so many of the classics. Gotta love that. I also just received Blood Red Road and picked it up to read the first few pages...and put it down 130 pages later. Really good so far - it is YA dystopian, but a wonderfully different style.

I used to like lookin at the night sky. Liked to think how one day Pa might teach me to read what the stars had to say. Now they jest look cold and far away. I shiver. I reckon Lugh's right. He always is. There ain't nuthin written in the stars. They're jest lights in the sky. To show you the way in the dark.

Lucy - you will be happy to hear that my youngest is reading The Hobbit. She saw me reading the Lord of the rings books and heard my son and I talking about them (they are his favorites), and so she has decided to read them for herself. She is 13 going on 70, so she will love them.

Dejah - thanks for dropping in, and for all your help with the TIOLI. I Capture the Castle has already been snagged out of my pile by my oldest daughter who informs me that she will get it back to me "in a timely fashion".

Mar 2, 2012, 9:30am Top

#91: Hi Mamie! This reminds me so much of Katherine Pancol's Un homme à distance! It's an epistolary novel about the growing relation of a bookseller and her client. They're discussing about literature and about their love of books, too. But I didn't like the turning point of the book...

#94: Great set of statistics!

#95: That's a very nice list, surely including some jewels. That reminds me that it's time to reread Chess Story...

Mar 3, 2012, 8:11am Top

I read Capture when I was about your eldest daughter's age! Perfect! Perfect all around too that your young one is reading The Hobbit now.

I have a tape (ancient) of Tolkien himself reading a poem-tale called Roverandom that would be well worth finding if it is on disk now -- and anything else he read. I should look around. It can mean so much to hear the author him/herself reading their work.

Mar 3, 2012, 3:03pm Top

I love to hear an author reading their own work (most of the time) - it adds insight into how they interpret their own words, especially with poetry. Some are so gifted at it that they bring it to life - Neil Gaiman comes to mind. But every once in a while it is painful - like Robert Frost reading his famous The Road Not Taken. Have you ever heard that - YIKES!

Edited: Mar 4, 2012, 10:44am Top

Book #22: Blood Red Road by Moira Young

This book is one of the many that falls into the YA dystopian category that seems to be so popular right now, so what makes it special? A couple of things. First, there is no romantic triangle in this book - refreshing. Second, the writing style is unique - it is written in the first person voice of Saba, a narrator with true grit but not much education. Some might find this writing style annoying or cumbersome, and that is probably true if English is not the reader's first language. The words are spelled phonetically, and there are no quotation marks. I did not find it confusing to follow the dialogue at all because of the way the writing is edited. Personally, I found it to lend truth and charm to Saba's voice. Finally, this book is intended to be part of a series, probably a trilogy if the current trend dictates, but it can stand perfectly fine on its own. The ending is satisfying and does not leave the reader hanging from a cliff. Along with all of that, the plot and pacing of the book are wonderfully executed.

The main character is eighteen year old Saba, and she is on a quest to rescue her twin brother, Lugh, who has been abducted by four mysterious horsemen. Her father was killed in the struggle, and now Saba must be the sole caretaker of her 9 year old sister, Emmi, and figure out how to save Lugh - a difficult task as she has no idea where they have taken him or why.The dystopian setting plays more of a backdrop in this story - Saba's world is harsh and desolate. She has grown up isolated and must learn how to conquer both the terrain and its people as she learns the hard way that not everyone is to be trusted.

"In the still of the night, I sit or pace in my cell. I don't sleep more'n a hour or two at a time. An that's because the moment I shut my eyes, the darkness comes fer me. It slithers outta its hidin place to wrap me in its cold cold arms. It slides into my blood, my bones, my soul. It squeezes out all hope." 4 stars.

Mar 3, 2012, 5:52pm Top

Waiting with bated breath...

Mar 3, 2012, 6:23pm Top

Here's how old I am -- I got to hear Frost read when I was a child. How lucky am I? He came, who knows why or how, to my school. He was quite old but we all behaved angelically, spellbound, I think by the cadences. He did 'nice' poems of course, "Stopping by the Woods." and the like.

Mar 3, 2012, 7:06pm Top

Was he good? Because now I'm thinking maybe I had the wrong poet- I went to iTunes to try to find the recording I was looking for but it wasn't there. Now I'm wondering who it was that was so awful, reading their poetry in a way I had never imagined it. Robert Frost in person -what a great memory. I do love his stuff -especially his Nothing Gold Can Stay.

Mar 4, 2012, 10:10am Top

Here's a link -- this might have been just around the time he read at my school:


Mar 4, 2012, 10:50am Top

Lucy - Thanks so much for the link! He has a wonderful cadence and such a deep, full voice. It was definitely not him that I was thinking of - and now that will drive me crazy until I can remember who it was.

Mar 4, 2012, 11:55am Top

Mamie- Good review of Blood Red Road. You earned a Thumb! Have you read Divergent? It's another YA dystopian novel and the 1st in a series. It was also very enjoyable.

Mar 4, 2012, 12:02pm Top

I enjoyed your review of Blood Red Road -- thumbs up from me, Mamie. But I'm shocked -- no love triangle!!!

I'm off dystopian YA right now, but I'm glad you liked it. What's up next?

Mar 4, 2012, 12:02pm Top

Mark - We all loved Divergent here, and are eagerly awaiting the release of Insurgent - May, I think.

A Thumb! I'd like to thank the Academy...

Mar 4, 2012, 5:03pm Top

And such a totally New England accent too!

Mar 5, 2012, 5:49pm Top

Book #23: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

This book is a lot of fun, BUT be warned, it's a bit of a slow starter. Set in an altered reality of 1985 Great Britain, Thursday Next is a Special Operative that is assigned to the literary detection branch. Normally her job involves taking care of literary theft and forgeries, but as things spin out of control, Thursday finds herself forced to actually enter the novel Jane Eyre in order to pursue the villainous Archeron Hades. This book is full of literary references, play on words, irony and plenty of British humor. One of my favorite parts was when Thursday and Landen attend the Rocky Horror Picture Show performance of Richard III where the actors are selected from the audience, and Shakespeare receives a unique delivery:

There was a moment's pause and then the curtains reopened, revealing Richard at the side of the stage. He limped up and down the boards, eyeing the audience malevolently past a particularly ugly prosthetic nose.

"Ham!" yelled someone at the back.

Richard opened his mouth to speak and the whole audience erupted in unison:

"When is the winter of our discontent?"

"Now," replied Richard with a cruel smile, "is the winter of our discontent..."

A cheer went up to the chandeliers high in the ceiling....

"...made glorious summer by this son of York," continued Richard, limping to the side of the stage. On the word "summer" six hundred people placed sunglasses on and looked up at an imaginary sun...

Where the book fails to deliver, in my opinion, is in its first half (well, the first 180 pages or so). I had a hard time getting into the rhythm of the story. It feels stilted and forced until after Thursday and Landen attend the play. After that, the book really takes off and the rest of the ride is extremely enjoyable. Because this is the first in a series, I think perhaps the author was just trying to set everything up so that the rest of the story could flow smoothly, but it just felt like too much information was being thrown at me too quickly. I am giving this book 3 1/2 stars: the first portion of the book is a 3, the remainder is a 4. I would definitely read another in this series, but I am guessing that a little goes a long way, so perhaps a break in between reading the books to let the light hearted banter and wordplay settle.

Mar 5, 2012, 7:10pm Top

Mamie- I also liked The Eyre Affair. I also read the 2nd book but decided that was enough. I know there are legions of Thursday fans but not for me I guess.

Edited: Mar 7, 2012, 5:26pm Top

Book #24:Thirty-Three Teeth by Colin Cotterill

Dr. Siri is back, and this time the bodies showing up at his morgue have been mauled - but by what? Is it a coincidence that a Malay black bear has gone missing? And what about the two completely burned up bodies that Dr. Siri is asked to identify? Add to that the two dead bodies found on top of a bicycle beside a fountain outside of the Ministry of Sport and Culture, a mysterious trunk bearing the royal seal that gives off bad mojo, and a government manual outlining proper spirit behavior, and you've got the crazy but curiously addictive makings for the second book in this wacky series. Nurse Dtui will have to rise to the occasion in this one because Dr. Siri has his hands full - and also his mouth. Turns out thirty-three teeth is a sign, "an indication that you've been born as a bridge to the spirit world."

This book adds more layers to the characters that we met in The Coroner's Lunch and also delves more deeply into the spirit world. These characters and their clever dialogue are not to be missed. Here is just a small sampling of some on my favorite quotes:

Her uniform was bleached white and stretched across her large frame like butcher's paper around a hock of pork.

Given the shape of things in Laos, the square was, naturally, a circle.

Siri was impressed that the department of information could provide so little of it.

Poverty led him to religion, religion to education, education to lust, lust to communism, and communism had brought him back full circle to poverty

And did I mention that "It's hot. Damned Hot....It was the type of day that could wilt a metal gatepost."

Edited: Mar 7, 2012, 12:58pm Top

Book # 25: King Soloman's Mines by Henry Rider Haggard

This book is not politically correct - nor should one expect it to be because it was written in 1885 by a British man, back when colonialism was all the rage. Set in Africa, the main character Allan Quatermain finds himself leading a search and rescue mission being financed by Sir Henry Curtis. Sir Henry is looking for his brother, who was last seen headed for King's Soloman's Mines. Sir Henry's good friend-literally, his name is Captain Good, is along for the adventure. Quatermain is a hunter by trade, and so along the way there is, you guessed it, hunting. For ivory, for sport, for food - Quatermain has been promised that he and Good can split whatever financial gain and treasure they acquire during their travels. In addition, Sir Henry has made provisions for Quatermain's son in the event that they do not return from their mission. This is a great adventure story told in first person narrative that set the stage for a new genre in literature - the "Lost World" genre that was a precursor to our modern day equivalents such as the Indiana Jones stories. There is also a lot of humor in this book. For example, when the Kukuanas discover Quatermain's party on their land, the penalty would have been death if not for the fact that Captain Good is so fastidious. Caught in the middle of his "elaborate toilet" Good rises to stand before the natives half dressed, half shaved, wearing a monocle, and in his nervousness, he pulls his false teeth out of place and then returns them to their proper position.

"How is it, O strangers," asked the old man solemnly, "that this fat man (pointing to Good, who was clad in nothing but boots and a flannel shirt, and has only half finished his shaving), whose body is clothed, and whose legs are bare, who grows hair on one side of his sickly face and not on the other, and who wears one shining and transparent eye- how is it, I ask, that he has teeth which move of themselves, coming away from the jaws and returning of their own will?"

Quatermain convinces the Kukuanas that they are "white men from the stars" and thus, their lives are spared. Captain Good, however, must now keep up his charade and is not allowed to have his pants back. The rest of the story is one rolling adventure - tribal war, treasure beyond the imagination, betrayal....

I debated between 3.5 and 4 stars for this book because the story is a 4, but the book does drag a bit in places. In the end, I decided on 4 stars because the slow bits are more than made up for by all of the fun.

*Use the author's name to locate the correct version of the book. The touchstone for the title is wrong - goes to an abridged version. The correct alternative is not available under the title touchstone - not sure how to fix this.

Mar 7, 2012, 9:29am Top

>112 Crazymamie: I fall into the category of The Eyre Affair fans -- I haven't read all of the books (the first four, I think), but to me they're great fun. I actually love the idea of an audience participation Richard III...

Have I mentioned that your review of The Coroner's Lunch motivated me to get it from the library? I can't say it's something I would have picked up on my own - you should have seen my librarian's face when I collected it from the branch! Of course, she's not a mystery reader. I'm looking forward to your thoughts on the second book.

BTW, I love King Solomon's Mines!

Mar 7, 2012, 10:22am Top

I love the cover you posted of Thirty Three Teeth. I hadn't heard of it, so I went and looked at the reviews. And, bam! The Coroner's Lunch is now on my wishlist. :-)

Mar 7, 2012, 10:41am Top

I need to read The Eyre Affair - if just to read that theater scene in full!

I just hope I don't have to read Richard III first, because then I'd also have to read the rest of the 2nd Henryad (and I got stuck in Henry VI part II twice now).

Mar 7, 2012, 3:52pm Top

Wow, you've been doing some great reading! Glad you enjoyed Blood Red Road!
I've got the Colin Cotterill books on my wishlish now, just need to find time to get to them

Mar 7, 2012, 4:24pm Top

Visitors! I'm so excited!

Dejah - The Eyre Affair was a lot of fun. I could probably read it again and catch bunch of stuff I missed the first time because it is so packed with literary references and wit. I would love to attend that version of Richard III or any other Shakespeare play done in that style. I kept thinking about Macbeth being done that way. I hope you like The Coroner's Lunch as much as I did - the dialogue and the characters are what make it so great. I really liked the second book in the series, too.

Carol - I loved the picture of your horse that you recently posted! We are animal lovers here, but alas we have only small horses - poodles. All four of ours put together probably don't weigh as much as your dog. I hope you get to read about Dr. Siri soon. How can you not love a 72 year old Communist coroner who sees dead people?!

Nathalie - You don't need to have read Richard III to appreciate the theater scene. It helps if you have either read or know the basic premise to Jane Eyre, though. It was funny to read about that scene since the Steinbeckathon is reading The Winter of Our Discontent this month - I am not very far into that one yet.

Chelle - Thanks for stopping in! I did really like Blood Red Road, and my daughter is reading it now - two of my daughters wanted it next, so they had to flip a coin for it! I am going to read Louise Penny this month, thanks to you. I haven't read anything by her before, but I saw all this great reviews on your thread, so...

Mar 8, 2012, 8:29pm Top

Penny is lots of fun.

Mar 8, 2012, 8:43pm Top

Cute poodley pics on your profile! :-)

I am reading Still Life by Louise Penny now. I read The Brutal Telling, the fifth book, a few years ago and am finally going back to the beginning where I should've started. So far I like The Brutal Telling better than Still Life, but I've only just started.

Mar 8, 2012, 9:17pm Top

Lucy - You were so right about the audiobook for The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie! I have the book on Kindle, which I got when they had that sale of firsts in a series - last summer, I think. Anyway, I checked at our library just out of curiosity, and they had it, so....MARVELOUS! I also am a huge fan of Alan Rickman - saw the discussion on your thread, personally I would like to hear him read a Chinese takeout menu instead of the phone book!

Carol - My poodles thank you for the compliment! How we ended up with four toy poodles is a funny story, but suffice it to say that at first my husband, who grew up on a farm where dogs are big and work, originally was slightly embarrassed to find himself the owner of what he considered "foo foo dogs." Um, please don't tell anyone that we have four of them he said. Now, he is a complete fool for them - they are his babies!! So funny.

I am looking forward to Penny.

Edited: Mar 30, 2012, 11:50am Top

Book # 26 Still Life by Louise Penny

Okay, so I am so far behind with reviews that I am just going to jot down some thoughts for this one. The mystery here is not great; it is more the setting and the characters that drive this book. There seem to be a lot of either/ors for this one - either readers like it enough to continue with the series or they really don't like it. Since I have heard that the series gets better as it goes along, I will be continuing with it. I really liked the main character, Inspector Armand Gamache; I also really enjoyed the setting of Three Pines. If you are looking for a plot driven mystery or a page turner, this is not the book you're looking for.

Mar 10, 2012, 6:39pm Top

Hi Mamie- I finally jumped aboard the Three Pines bus last fall, (I thought I was one of the last ones). It was enjoyable and I'll probably read book 2 at some point.

Mar 10, 2012, 7:09pm Top

Forgot to mention that I also have my first abandoned book of the year - Death Comes to Pemberly by P.D. James. I always feel guilty when I quit on a book, but there are so many great books out there and only so much time, so now I quietly walk away from those that for some reason don't work for me. This was one of them.

Mar 10, 2012, 7:15pm Top

Mark - It was a nice cozy read. The mystery was nothing to write home about, but the characters and the small town charm were refreshing. A bit of comfort - it kind of reminded me of the Mitford series by Jan Karon that I read years ago when my children were small.

Edited: Mar 11, 2012, 10:45am Top

NEVER feel guilty dropping a book! It goes nicely with my dessert rule -- if you don't really like it DON'T eat it!!!!!! Life is too short to stuff brain or body with flim flam.

Mar 11, 2012, 11:26am Top

Lucy - You made me laugh!! All right, I won't feel guilty.

Edited: Mar 11, 2012, 12:26pm Top

Book #27: BY the Iowa Sea - by Joe Blair

This book is about life in all of its beauty and ugliness. A memoir that is at once triumphant and heartbreaking, it is about one man's struggle to remain whole while dealing with raising four children; the youngest son has autism. I recently read an excerpt from this memoir that had been published by the New York Times back in 2009, when the memoir was published. The link to that article is at the end of this review. Well written and brutally honest, Mr. Blair writes about even those things that might be better left unsaid, and at times I would have walked away from the book if it had not been so eloquently written. Too much information, for me, can cheapen the message, and when it is truth and not fiction, it can make you feel uncomfortable. I read on, however, and I am glad that I did. The heart of this book is open and exposed, and the imagery and observations are beautifully rendered. Whatever your journey, you will come away from this book with something.

"It's hard to argue with a diagnosis. The truth, after all, is the truth. An Apple, for example, is an apple. There are no odds involved and it doesn't matter what you might believe it to be. You might believe it's a peach. You might believe it's a dirigible. It doesn't affect the apple in the least what you might believe. It's still an apple. It exists. And it is what it is. Tuberous sclerosis, likewise, exists. It is what it is. The above two sentences were very easy to write. And they can be nothing but true. There is no argument that would convince anyone otherwise. Mike exists. And he is who he is. But who he will be cannot be quantified by numbers. The future is up for grabs. And what we believe in; what we pray for; what we hope for has the power to change it."

*New York Times article

Mar 11, 2012, 2:19pm Top

That is a lovely quotation! And feels like TRUTH to me.

Edited: Mar 12, 2012, 8:32pm Top

Thank you, Karen!

Book #28: A Share in Death by Deborah Crombie

This is a new author for me, and I really liked this mystery. It was a good solid read that reminded me a bit of an Agatha Christie set-up. A group of people are staying a week at a timeshare in Yorkshire, and before the vacation can even get off the ground, a dead body is discovered. Among the guests is Scotland Yard Superintendent Duncan Kincaid who ends up stepping into the investigation even though it is not in his jurisdiction. After a second body is found, Kincaid calls for his partner Sergeant Gemma James, and together they try to solve the murders before any more bodies turn up. Of course, everyone has secrets and there are plenty of red herrings...

This is a first in a series of murder mysteries featuring the duo of Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James, but it won't be my last. Thanks to Dejah for helping me to discover this author.

Mar 12, 2012, 8:11pm Top

Mamie- Terrific review of BY the Iowa Sea. It sounds like something I would like. You gotta Thumb.

Mar 12, 2012, 11:05pm Top

Mamie -- I'm glad you got to A Share in Death. The books in this series become more and more well developed and complex - and the relationships between the people are pretty interesting, too!

For some reason Dreaming of the Bones, which is the 5th in the series, stands out for me as the books are changing. This is not to say the others are bad, but they get so good!

And by the way, you're very welcome!

Mar 12, 2012, 11:31pm Top

Dejah - I thought it was clever of the author to start the books out with the interaction between the two protagonists interrupted. That is to say, that instead of meeting them both under normal circumstances, we meet them when things are quite unusual, even though the author makes it quite clear that they already have an established working relationship. It really left her with so many possibilities in regards to the second book - which I can't wait to read!

Mar 13, 2012, 6:59am Top

That quote certainly illustrates what a good writer Blair is. Very thoughtful review!

Mar 14, 2012, 1:58pm Top

You've been reading some excellent books, Mamie. I have read both the firsts in the Louise Penny and the Deborah Crombie series, and need to pick up the next ones. Your review of By The Iowa Sea is lovely and it sounds like a book I may want to follow up on.

Mar 15, 2012, 3:41pm Top

Thank you, Lucy!

Judy, welcome to my thread and thanks for the kind comments. I lurk on your thread all the time and pulled quite a few book suggestions from you!

Edited: Mar 15, 2012, 6:06pm Top

Book #29: A Severed Head by Iris Murdoch

This read brought to you courtesy of Lucy's Thread! Lucy(sibyx) recently read a memoir about Iris Murdoch written by her husband entitled Elegy for Iris(which Lucy wrote a beautiful review for). It started a discussion on her thread about the books written by Iris Murdoch, an author I was unfamiliar with. One of the books that was mentioned was A Severed Head - a title too delicious to be passed up! I also would like to read the memoir, but wanted to explore Iris' work first. A Severed Head was my first foray into the works of Murdoch, but it won't be my last. Thanks, Lucy!

A Severed Head was written in 1961 and it is a farce - a satire set in "keep a stiff upper lip" England during the sexual revolution. When Martin Lynch-Gibbons is calmly told by his wife, Antonia, that she is divorcing him in order to marry Martin's psychoanalyst friend, Palmer Anderson, both Palmer and Antonia expect Martin to be reasonable, even happy for them. They see no barrier to all of them continuing to be friends, and in light of their mild-mannered, civilized approach, Martin acquiesces to their request. Although Martin has his own mistress, Georgie, he feels betrayed and set adrift by his new circumstances. And that is just the beginning - Murdoch upsets Martin's world over and over again as the lines between relationships become blurred and disoriented. The wit and humor captured in the face of serious subject matter such as abortion, infidelity, and even incest, is insolent and unrelenting. An unqualified romp in every sense of the word, this is a dignified Monty Python.

Mar 15, 2012, 9:51pm Top

Hey Mamie --

I noticed that you added I Capture the Castle to Challenge #21 - I had no idea that was her first novel! I don't know if I can manage to fit a reread of it in this month, but I give it a try. Great choice!

Mar 15, 2012, 10:43pm Top

How fun -my daughter LOVED it! She asked if she could have the book after I read it. I hope you can squeeze it in.

Mar 16, 2012, 11:35am Top

So glad you loved the Murdoch! Another terrific and helpful review too.

Edited: Mar 30, 2012, 1:02pm Top

Book #30: The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien

I really, really LOVED this entire trilogy, and I was sad to see it come to an end. This is the final leg of the journey that began in The Fellowship of the Ring. There is not really a way to discuss this book without SPOILERS, for me, so don't read any further if that's a problem for you.

This book, like the one before it, is divided into sections that follow the divisions that occurred when the Fellowship was broken at the end of the first book. Because there are already so many reviews of this book that discuss what happens as the book progresses, I am going to skip over that line of thought, and simply jump into the part of the book that I thought added so much depth and dimension to Tolkien's story - the completion of Frodo's mission. Throughout the books, we see how much heart and goodness Frodo has within him, and we see the toll that being the bearer of the ring takes on him. Many of the characters in the book are responsible for Frodo's success in reaching Mordor, but none are more integral than Sam. The unconditional and pure love of Sam for Frodo demonstrate just how powerful true friendship can be - this is the force that evil often underestimates, the willingness (and also the desire) to put the needs of someone else above your own. Even with the strength of Sam's total devotion to aid Frodo in his mission, however, evil would still have triumphed in the very end, if not for the one thing that evil cannot comprehend - mercy. At the last moment, when Frodo would finally succumb to the power of the ring and claim it as his own, Gollum intercedes and unintentionally escorts the ring to its doom. But Gollum would not have been around to do just that if not for the mercy already shown him by Frodo. Thus, Frodo completes his mission because of his true character. Aren't we always trying to teach this to our children - that every action has a consequence. When we choose an action, we also choose a consequence, which is why our actions define us as individuals.

Five stars for a wonderful journey that I know I shall want to take again and again.

Edited: Mar 17, 2012, 6:14am Top

Hi, Mamie!

Lots of great books and book talk here. I caught up yesterday but didn't feel up to commenting so have returned now I'm feeling less groggy!

I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone earlier this year and enjoyed it for its imagery too. 84 Charing Cross Road is a joy, isn't it and as you know, I also enjoyed The Snow Child. I think I gave it four stars too.

I like the sound of Red Blood Road and have added it to the wish list. When I first read your review of By the Iowa Sea, I thought it wasn't for me but somehow your review has stayed in my mind and I think I might look out for it after all!

I've read one Iris Murdoch (The Sea, the Sea) and would like to try more but think I will need to be in the right mood for her!

Mar 17, 2012, 6:29am Top

Hi there Mamie! Nice to meet you! You have a great variety of books and it looks like you are a very prolific reader! Welcome! I try to read a variety of books and I just loved The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - and then read all in the series! I"ve got The Woman in Black in my TBR pile. Oh! and I love Karin Fossum . I've read all of her books, but I find that they get better and better! I hope you enjoy yours!

Mar 17, 2012, 10:03am Top

It's sad though, isn't it, when you get to the end of LOTR????....... copious sighing....

Mar 17, 2012, 11:37am Top

What a Saturday morning treat to see visitors to my thread as soon as I logged on! Welcome Dee and Deb!

Dee - I hope you are feeling better. I enjoyed By the Iowa Sea and was glad that I finished it, but I almost quit part way through. I felt that the article printed in the NYT made it sound as if the memoir would be mainly about his journey raising a son with autism. And it did include that, but it also included a lot of other information that I could have done without - about his sex life and his infidelity. The book did redeem itself in the end, though, and I think it is one that I will probably pick up and read again - but I will skim over the parts that were too much information for me. He writes beautifully, and has some wonderful imagery.

Deb - I think I added Helen Dunsmore to my wish list because of your reviews - I love historical fiction. Am I thinking correctly, didn't you recommend her books? I am looking forward to my first Karin Fossum - I have already found so many authors that are new to me, thanks to LT. It feels like Christmas everyday because there is nothing I enjoy more than discovering a good book - treasure beyond measure.

Lucy - I am so sad to have finished LOTR. I actually read through parts of the last book twice before posting that I had finished it. I just love those characters and that world that Tolkien created for us. What a wonderful gift he had for world building. Next I will try the biography that you recommended - I checked out your Tolkien category in your library - um, WOW!! Speaking of treasure...... And you have everything so nicely organized. I will definitely be dipping into some of those books!

Okay, here's a funny story for you - the other day my youngest daughter (13 going on 70) and I drove through McDonalds to get drinks and when we got to the window where they hand you your order, the lady leans out and asks if I had the senior coffee. I look at my daughter, who is trying not to laugh because last week at Kohls the cashier asked me if I qualify for the senior discount. Really?!! I am 44 - so I asked her (the Kohl's cashier) did she mean theoretically or physically, which got me a blank stare. No, I tell her. I tell my kids about this when I get home and they are laughing at me - do I really look like I qualify for the senior discount, I ask. I have always loved and embraced every age that I have been, but I do not want to be pushed ahead in line! Mom, get over it; you look fine they tell me. You're holding up great - for someone your age, my son tells me with a smirk. So, anyway, back to the drive through, I am looking at my daughter and we are both remembering the Kohls story - she leans around me and says to the lady: "She had the middle-aged Diet Coke and I had the precocious smoothie."

Mar 17, 2012, 12:50pm Top

147: Ha, your daughter sounds a lot smarter than some of the sales staff you've been dealing with!

I am also 44 and have thirteen year old and eleven year old sons. They certainly keep you on your toes at thirteen, don't they?

Mar 17, 2012, 1:10pm Top

That they do! My son is seventeen, and I have daughters that are 20 (just had her birthday on the 13th, and we are still recovering from the fact that we have a twenty year old!), 16, and the aforementioned 13 year old. Never a dull moment - but, oh, the fun we have!

Mar 17, 2012, 2:53pm Top

"She had the middle-aged Diet Coke and I had the precocious smoothie." Love it. :-)

Mar 17, 2012, 3:52pm Top

Brilliant daughter - she must take after her mother!

Mar 17, 2012, 7:59pm Top

Great story, Mamie. I envy your daughter. I always wish I could be quick with retorts but, no, I always think of the clever thing to say hours later!

Mar 17, 2012, 8:45pm Top

Thanks for stopping by Carol, Dejah and Judy! My youngest has the gift of gab, that's for sure. When she was little she would want so badly to use what she calls "big vocabulary" but she would get the words mixed up, so she would tell us things like she had a migrating headache or she was going through a growth sprout. Once she told me that she was feeling "kinda stale and all stretched out".

Mar 17, 2012, 8:57pm Top

My foster daughter did some of the same and told me her father had accused her of a being a pathathetical liar. Pretty pathetic of him, I think. And maybe pathological, too. She was just a bit of an exaggerator.

Mar 18, 2012, 9:55am Top

Oh, you poor dear! - just last week for the first time ever a young sprat asked me (at a local health food store) if I wanted the senior discount. I was so startled I just goggled. He did have the grace to look embarrassed - he actually looked at me then, for one thing, which he hadn't, I don't think. I have no idea what the qualifying age is at that store- I guess when I go there again I need to ask, but I was stunned, cos I've been there a billion times and I'm assuming it's somewhere between 60-65 - I'm 57, so maybe I've been dodging a bullet all this time!!!!!!??????

When our daughter was about 3 - so I was your age - we were in Italy and someone called me a "Nonna" (sp?) (grandma) which freaked me at the time. But the real thing is the person isn't really looking at you when they say that...... of course..... at 44 I was old enough to be a Nonna...... but nevermind.

Edited: Mar 18, 2012, 10:00pm Top

Okay, so see - a bright side. At least I have not been called a Nonna - yet!!! When I was growing up, everyone always assumed that my Mom was my grandma. She was 35 when she had me (I have 5 older sisters), and her hair had turned completely white - probably the stress of raising six girls with only one bathroom!! Anyway, she always hated it. But the kicker was when I was shopping for my wedding gown and my Mom and my two oldest sisters went with me. Everyone in the shop thought that my Mom was the grandma and my oldest sister (who is 15 years older than I am) was my mom. I am not sure who was more upset - my Mom or my sister. And my sister kept mumbling, "Heads will roll.." She can be fierce, and I thought that perhaps heads would roll but, alas, we made it out of the store without bloodshed!!!

*I edited this to add that you are right, of course, Lucy, about people not really looking at us.

Mar 18, 2012, 9:28pm Top

In other news....I am about 130 pages into I Capture the Castle, and I am loving it. The narrator is simply DELIGHTFUL! I am also moving along in The Winter of Our Discontent - finally. This one took me a while to get into; in fact, it took me about 70 or so pages before it finally settled into a story for me. At first the main character was really annoying when he spoke to his wife - really creepy pet names like Noodle and Petal Blossom. Disturbing! In fact, most of the conversation between husband and wife is inane and sickening. My husband would "not live to see the dawn" (quote courtesy of one of my favorite sleeper movies High Road to China) if he spoke to me the way that Ethan speaks to Mary.

Mar 19, 2012, 9:21am Top

I loved I Capture the Castle! The voice is fantastic in that book -- very believable.

Mar 19, 2012, 11:23am Top

So happy you are loving it!!!!!

Mar 20, 2012, 8:49pm Top

>156 Crazymamie: I'm fifteen years older than my youngest sister, and we've had that mistake before. More so when I was fifteen and she was a baby (the dirty looks were the worst...). Now she's 5' 7" with an athletic build and I'm a petite 5' 3", so on a couple of occasions she's been mistaken as the older sister. Payback! :)

Mar 22, 2012, 12:32pm Top

Faith - I agree, the narrator makes the book. I will probably finish the book today, and I will be sad to let it go. What a fun escape it has been!

Lucy - always good when you stop by. I checked the local library for the Mary Roach book that you just finished and recommended Packing for Mars - of course, they don't have it (really tiny library). They did have Stiff however, so I got that instead for now and if I like her writing style, I will probably purchase the one you read because it did sound very interesting. The one I got is about what happens to human cadavers which I am curious about as my husband's parents both donated their bodies to IU School of Medicine. His mother is still living, but his father passed on a few years ago. They picked up the body the same day that he died and then the family got the body back, cremated, months later. It was strange to attend a memorial with no body and no burial service.

Mary - Too funny! Years ago when my nephew graduated (is that the right term?) from Boot Camp for the Marines, my two oldest sisters and I flew out to San Diego for the ceremony - which is really interesting to see, BTW. Anyway, my second oldest sister is twelve years older than I am, but we are the exact same height, had similar builds, almost identical haircuts, and, because I was chilly at the airport but didn't have my sweatshirt, she loaned me one of hers - which matched the one she was already wearing except that it was a different color. So, as we are going through the checkpoint to be able to board our plane, a lady asked us if we were twins! It was the funniest thing because I said yes and just kept walking - the sister who was twelve years older (my"twin") was appalled that someone would think we were the same age. She was worried that my feelings would be hurt - they weren't. My oldest sister, however, just stopped in hers tracks and said, "She gets to be the twin sister, and I always have to be the mother! Why doesn't she get to be the mother sometimes; I could be the twin sister." So now it's a joke in our family that Julie and I are the twins. Another example of Lucy's observation that people don't really see us when they look at us!!

Edited: Mar 22, 2012, 8:10pm Top

I have been neglecting my reviews, so I am hoping to work on them today. I have finished both The Winter of Our Discontent and Don't Look Back. I liked both of them. I also still need to fill in the spots I reserved for Still Life and The Return of the King. Oh dear - I really do need to get busy before I fall any further behind.

The weather here has been absolutely GORGEOUS, and we have been spending a lot of time on our deck (which I will really miss when we move because my husband and my son built it together - I will have to post a picture to this thread because it is a thing of beauty. The kids and I have also been walking in the park together each morning - we starting out just doing one loop of the walkway which is .8 miles. Our goal was to build up to four miles so that we were walking our 10,000 steps a day, which is supposed to be so healthy for you. Today we made it!! Now we just need to work on doing it a bit faster - it was great fun, though, and I am soaking up these moments with them because I know that all too soon they will be off on their own, making their own lives, and we will be starting on a different journey together.

*edited to ask if someone can explain to me HOW to post a photo on this thread.

Edited: Mar 22, 2012, 7:02pm Top

Hey Mamie --

Don't fret - I'm far more behind on book reviews that you are! The weather has been gorgeous here, too. I've been gardening like mad and attending events for the Cherry Blossom Festival. I've been trying to keep up with other people's threads, but have completely neglected my own!

Try this thread for help with images, etc:

Edited: Apr 9, 2012, 3:22pm Top

Book # 31:The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck

After finishing this book, I needed to take a couple of days just to let it settle and to think about what I wanted to say about it. I really liked the ending, and I was slightly surprised to reach it because this book was a rough start for me. The book is divided into two parts, and the second part is much more readable. In both parts, Steinbeck begins the narration in third person and then switches to first person, which is an interesting choice - he gives us an outside voice that sets the stage and then switches to an inside voice where our viewpoint is limited to that of Ethan Allen Hawley, the main character. At first the story is jarring and runs at an uneven pace - it is hard to get a feel for where the story is going or why. It is hard to decipher Ethan's intentions and motives even though the voice is his own. The character descriptions are vintage Steinbeck:

"Joey looked like a horse and he smiled like a horse, raising a long upper lip to show big square teeth. Joseph Patrick Morphy, Joey-boy--"the Morph"--a real popular guy for one only a few years at Baytown. A joker who got off his gags veily-eyed like a poker player, but he whinnied at other people's jokes, whether or not he heard them. A wise guy, the Morph, had the inside dope on everything-and everything from Mafia to Mountbatten-but he gave it out with a rising inflection, almost like a question. That took the smart-aleck tone out of it, made his listener a party to it so that he could repeat it as his own....The Morph knew everybody intimately and never used a first name."

Where the story started to fall into place for me was in the middle of chapter five. Here the annoying banter between Ethan and his wife, Mary, begins to take a back seat to the plot, and the pacing of the story starts to pick up. So, if you are one of those readers who apply the Pearl Rule, you would miss out on a good book because all of this occurs at about page 70, which is almost half way through part one. Ethan is facing a moral dilemma - he comes from a family that once had wealth and prestige in the community, but his father lost the family fortune and so Ethan finds himself working as a clerk in a grocery store instead of owning the store. His family is pressuring him to be more successful and to make more money. Ethan sees no way to honestly improve their fortunes, but he has always been an honest and upright man. He starts manipulating ideas that other people and circumstances place before him, and a plan forms in his head. All the while, Ethan ponders whether or not corruption can be placed aside when you are done with it. Can you simply be corrupt in the moment, and then return to the person you were before you gave into greed or malice?

"“The structure of my change was feeling, pressures from without, Mary’s wish, Allen’s desires, Ellen’s anger, Mr. Baker’s help. Only at the last when the move is mounted and prepared does thought place a roof on the building and bring in words to explain and to justify. Suppose my humble and interminable clerkship was not virtue at all but a moral laziness? For any success, boldness is required. Perhaps I was simply timid, fearful of consequences-in a word, lazy....Suppose for a limited time I abolished all the rules, not just some of them.Once the objective was reached, could they not be all reassumed?....Have any of the great fortunes we admire been put together without ruthlessness? I can't think of any. And if I should put the rules aside for a time, I knew I would wear scars but would they be worse than the scars of failure I was wearing? To be alive at all is to have scars. All this wondering was the weather vane on top of the building of unrest and of discontent. It could be done because it had been done. But if I opened that door, could I ever get it closed again? I did not know"

This book was the last of Steinbeck's work to be published before his death, and although, in my opinion, it does not reach the depth of his writing in Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath, it is well worth reading. The last few pages especially were beautifully rendered, and there were many gems along the way. I will definitely reread this one.

Mar 22, 2012, 7:48pm Top

Mamie- Excellent review of Winter. I gave you a Big Thumb! Shamefully, I never reviewed it. How's that for a cop-out? Sad.

Mar 22, 2012, 8:09pm Top

Mark - Thank you! I really had to think about it before I wrote mine because I think it is one of those books that is hard to describe to someone else. I really thought that this was going to be the first Steinbeck that I didn't really like, and I might not have finished it if it hadn't been a group read. I am so glad that I hung in there! You shouldn't worry about not writing your own review - because it was a group read, it will get plenty of reviews. You, meanwhile, are helping to highlight books that might otherwise get overlooked - I have added A LOT of books to my TBR pile thanks to your clever and well written reviews, not to mention your enthusiasm!

Dejah - Thanks so much for that link, and for the encouragement. Glad that I am not the only one who feels behind!

Edited: Mar 22, 2012, 10:14pm Top

Book #32: Don't Look Back by Karin Fossum

This was the first book that I have read by Norwegian author Karin Fossum, and I liked it, but I didn't love it. I think I was expecting something grittier and darker, and so I was tensed throughout the book waiting for the other shoe to drop...and it never did. That being said, it was a solid mystery with excellent pacing and interesting characters.

Inspector Sejer is called out to investigate the disappearance of a six year old girl who eventually turns up, but when she shares her story, the police investigate and discover the body of 15 year old Annie Holland who has been murdered and left lying naked, except for a jacket that doesn't belong to her, on the beach. It's a small town, and everyone knows everyone else's business, but no one seems to know what happened to Annie or why someone would want to hurt her. Although I guessed the murderer early on, watching the story play out was well worth the time it took to read. I will read the next in this series as I have found that many great mystery series need several books to develop the characters and the writing style. Also, now that I know that this is not a series like those of Jo Nesbo or Stieg Larson, both of whom I love, I will have different expectations. Fossum did surprise me with the last few pages - and creeped me out a bit.

Here is a quote I liked from this book:

"He peered at the lock, a simple latch, then opened his wallet in search of a credit card. He was reluctant to use his bank card, but next to it was a library card with his name and number on it. On the back it said: 'Books open all doors.' He stuck the card into the crack, and the door slid open."

Mar 22, 2012, 8:20pm Top

Fabulous review of Winter of Our Discontent - thumbs up from me. You almost make me want to read it...almost.

Edited: Mar 22, 2012, 10:24pm Top

Hi Mamie, I think you and I had a similar reaction to Don't Look Back, it did seem much lighter than most of the Scandicrime I have read. It was a good read, however, and I plan on continuing on with the series, which I have been told gets better with each book.

eta: Did you find the information that you were looking for about posting pictures? I usually just download the picture I want to post into my junk drawer and then copy the link to my thread.

Mar 22, 2012, 10:25pm Top

Oh, that's really easy - thanks!

Mar 23, 2012, 6:01am Top

Wonderful review of Winter of Our Discontent, thumbs up from me as well!

Mar 23, 2012, 6:29am Top

Thank you, Nathalie! I haven't added my thoughts to the discussion on the book's thread yet because I wanted to write my review first. I did, however, read through all of the posts after I finished reading TWoOD, and I must say, you added a lot of insight to the discussion.

Mar 23, 2012, 8:12am Top

Mamie- I think that was what I found out to be refreshing about Don't Look Back, was it's lighter tone, especially after reading several dark & gloomy Scandi books. i hope you continue the series.
As far as reviews go, that's just me laying a guilt-trip on myself, although it really doesn't last long. I just move onto something else. I have to say, there were many very fine reviews of winter. We have some talent in these here parts.

Mar 23, 2012, 8:53am Top

Hi Mamie - finally found and caught up with your very entertaining thread :-)

Mar 23, 2012, 9:25am Top

Mark - I was talking to Judy about this, and I think it was just that my expectations going in were different than the reality because of the other crime novels I have read - such as Nesbo and Larson. I will definitely continue the series as I have read several comments about the series getting better as it goes on.

Heather - Welcome! Glad you made it over here!

Mar 25, 2012, 7:20am Top

0oooo I like the term, scandicrime. I'm so out of it prolly it is new to me and no one else...... Wonderful choice of quote on the Fossum.

Great review of the Steinbeck, really solid.

I wore a pedometer thingie for a month or so figuring out just how many steps I took in a day -- now I know what I have to do to achieve 10,000!

Mar 25, 2012, 11:25am Top

Thanks, Lucy! I liked the term scandicrime, too! I finished I Capture the Castle and I gave it 5 stars, a new favorite. I just adored Cassandra! I will be back to write my review later.

Mar 25, 2012, 6:48pm Top

I had to come and see what you thought of The Winter of Our Discontent now that I finished it. I was torn, really. I didn't much like Ethan before things really got going. A lot of it was the way he acted with Mary (although the way she acted with him was quite possibly just as bad). Maybe strangely, I liked him a lot better once he started considering bad things. I mean, I didn't like him, but I liked that he was finally doing something other than being a sad-sack about his situation. It gave him some depth, even if they were the kinds of depths you don't necessarily want to plumb.

Mar 25, 2012, 7:02pm Top

I don't know if I'm going to get to I Capture the Castle this month, but I'm going to try! Have you read Smith's The One Hundred and One Dalmatians? I'm rather fond of it....

Mar 25, 2012, 7:20pm Top

Ursula! I thought that it was really hard to get a feel for Ethan for the first half of part one, and the dialogue between he and Mary was REALLY distracting. I was ever so happy that there was less of it as the book went on. I do think that perhaps Steinbeck does that on purpose - creates unlikable characters or scenes that are unsettling because when we are disturbed by something it is harder to let go of, and therefore we mull it over more. I liked that Ethan was bothered by his own behavior, and that he couldn't fix things - he had to live the rest of his life knowing that Danny and Mr. Marullo were bigger men than he was, even though society valued them less.

Mar 25, 2012, 7:30pm Top

Dejah - we must have been posting at the same time because you weren't there when I started responding to Ursula's post. No worries about I Capture the Castle, whatever works is fine. I did read The One Hundred and One Dalmatians when I was younger, and it was one of my very favorite books! It's funny, because I didn't realize she had written other books until I started seeing all the positive reviews of Castle. Then, when I looked her up, I realized where I had seen her name before. I might have to reread One Hundred and One Dalmatians just for fun this year. Years ago I started collecting the books that I had read and loved in childhood only to discover that a lot of them were out of print. The books I read when I was younger came from the library, so I didn't have my own copy. It's nice to see that so many of the older books are being reprinted for a whole new generation to enjoy.

Mar 26, 2012, 7:35pm Top

Book #33: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Review coming soon.....

Edited: Mar 30, 2012, 1:52pm Top

Book #34: Disco for the Departed by Colin Cotterill

Review coming soon...or maybe not. In the interest of time, I am not going to post a formal review of this one. This is the third installment in the Dr. Siri books - mysteries with a side of mysticism. I did not like it as much as I liked the previous two in the series, however, it is still a fun read. In this one we get to learn about Geung's backstory and enjoy more interaction between Dtui and Dr. Siri. Some of my favorite side characters, unfortunately, are either missing or relegated to smaller parts. I hope to see more of them in the next book. The wonderful writing and humor are still in full force here, though, so don't skip this one.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

Beliefs were simple there. According to the locals, there were only two categories of mental infirmity: slow as a tree growing and fruity as a bad batch of plum cider.

She stared at him, her expression as empty as the National Bank.

Show them you're a person of character. They won't know how to respond to that.

In an effort to discourage large public gatherings, festivals were either cancelled completely or greatly restricted. They were trimmed of religion, culture, and superstition, which naturally left very little to celebrate. Dr. Siri had compared this with allowing the wearing of spectacles but banning the use of glass lenses.

Mar 27, 2012, 8:30am Top

Yes, Mamie, I am very keen on Helen Dunmore . A few of her books have not captured me, but by far most have! I also love Karin Fossum and I've read all of the books that she has published. Colin Cotterill sounds like he writes interesting books, he's an author I need to look into! I think Karin Fossum's books get better and better. They are more psychological mysteries/ thrillers . Her latest, The Caller had me really creeped out. I've currently got The Woman in Black on deck. I'm glad to see that you enjoyed it!

Mar 30, 2012, 1:02pm Top

Deb - thanks for stopping by. I think I liked The Woman in Black more than you did - it wasn't really scary, just creepy, which I love. I am a big fan of all those old Alfred Hitchcock movies that are all about mood and perceptions.

Mar 30, 2012, 1:04pm Top

*This is a copy of a review that I posted above, but left blank until now - I am just reposting it here so that no one has to go scrolling back up to try to find it.

Book #30: The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien

I really, really LOVED this entire trilogy, and I was sad to see it come to an end. This is the final leg of the journey that began in The Fellowship of the Ring. There is not really a way to discuss this book without SPOILERS, for me, so don't read any further if that's a problem for you.

This book, like the one before it, is divided into sections that follow the divisions that occurred when the Fellowship was broken at the end of the first book. Because there are already so many reviews of this book that discuss what happens as the book progresses, I am going to skip over that line of thought, and simply jump into the part of the book that I thought added so much depth and dimension to Tolkien's story - the completion of Frodo's mission. Throughout the books, we see how much heart and goodness Frodo has within him, and we see the toll that being the bearer of the ring takes on him. Many of the characters in the book are responsible for Frodo's success in reaching Mordor, but none are more integral than Sam. The unconditional and pure love of Sam for Frodo demonstrate just how powerful true friendship can be - this is the force that evil often underestimates, the willingness (and also the desire) to put the needs of someone else above your own. Even with the strength of Sam's total devotion to aid Frodo in his mission, however, evil would still have triumphed in the very end, if not for the one thing that evil cannot comprehend - mercy. At the last moment, when Frodo would finally succumb to the power of the ring and claim it as his own, Gollum intercedes and unintentionally escorts the ring to its doom. But Gollum would not have been around to do just that if not for the mercy already shown him by Frodo. Thus, Frodo completes his mission because of his true character. Aren't we always trying to teach this to our children - that every action has a consequence. When we choose an action, we also choose a consequence, which is why our actions define us as individuals.

Five stars for a wonderful journey that I know I shall want to take again and again.

Mar 30, 2012, 1:27pm Top

Happiness is watching a new Tolkien fan flower!

Mar 30, 2012, 2:00pm Top

Hi, Lucy! I'm going to read the Tolkien biography by Shippey that you recommended in April - which starts on Sunday. Um, where did March go?

Mar 30, 2012, 2:30pm Top

Hi Mamie - I'm a new visitor to your thread but noticed on the TIOLI wiki that you had similar taste in books to me, so I thought I'd stop by. Great reviews and an interesting mix of reads.... I've dropped a star and will visit often! Have a great weekend.

Mar 30, 2012, 3:10pm Top

Katie - thanks for stopping by. I know at least one book that we'll both be reading this month!! Talk about a comedy of errors! I'll have to check out your thread.

Mar 31, 2012, 7:49am Top

Hi There
Somehow I missed your thread. I found your post on Mark's thread and decided to check what you are reading. A belated welcome to our lovely, friend, book obsessed group.

I hope you like it here. Pull up a chair, and as you may have already discovered your to be read pile will be out of control.

Mar 31, 2012, 9:27am Top

Linda - Thanks for stopping by! Mark's thread is a busy place, and there's always something interesting happening there. I will have to check out your thread!

Mar 31, 2012, 10:28am Top

Stopping by to say hi! Shhhh all this talk of older children -well - I'm shhhh 51 -and we have two sons - 27 and nearly 22! Gasp! No grandchildren on the horizon at all....

Edited: Mar 31, 2012, 4:46pm Top

Hi, Deb! Your secret is safe with me.

Here is a recap of what I read this month:

22. Blood Red Road - Moira Young
23. The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde
24. Thirty-Three Teeth - Colin Cotterill
25. King Soloman's Mines - Henry Rider Haggard
26. Still Life - Louise Penny
27. By the Iowa Sea - Joe Blair
28. A Share in Death - Deborah Crombie
29. A Severed Head - Iris Murdoch
30. The Return of the King - J. R. R. Tolkien
31. The Winter of Our Discontent - John Steinbeck
32. Don't Look Back - Karin Fossum
33. I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith
34. Disco for the Departed - Colin Cotterill

1. Death Comes to Pemberley - P. D. James

No losers here for me, my favorite read from the month was The Return of the King. I made a pretty big dent in the books that were on the table for this month, and participated in the TIOLI for the first time, which was a lot of fun. I managed to fit every book from this month into a challenge. Next month I hope to tackle more books off my shelves. This month was great fun because I read quite a few authors that were new to me - a total of eight new authors! Thanks to everyone for the suggestions that I took from their threads.

Mar 31, 2012, 5:16pm Top

Super list!

Mar 31, 2012, 6:02pm Top

Hi Mamie- I like your reading list too! And you beat me by one! I ended with 12. And now you are ahead of me with the Dr. Siri series. What is the world coming to?
Hope you are enjoying your weekend!

Edited: May 1, 2012, 5:06pm Top

Waves at Lucy!

Some March Stats

Total Books Read for March: 13
* a total of 12 authors, 8 of them were new to me
* original publication dates ranged from 1885-2012
* I abandoned 1 book
* 12 books were fiction, 1 was non-fiction

Author gender:
male: 7
female: 6

Hardcover: 1
Paperback: 4
ebook: 8

Purchased: 8, 1 free download (King Soloman's Mines)
Off My Shelf: 4
Library Book: 0

Multiple Books Read by Same Author:
Colin Cotterill: 2 books

Narrative fiction:2

*what you should know about my library - I am not trying to decrease the number of books that I purchase in a calendar year, I am simply aiming to also make a significant dent in the piles of books already sitting on my shelves that are unread.

Edited: Apr 9, 2012, 3:44pm Top

APRIL Possibilities:

Currently working on:
Cup of Gold - John Steinbeck
Lady Sings the Blues - Billie Holiday
Darkness, Take my Hand - Dennis Lehane (#7)
The Little Sister - Raymond Chandler
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Alan Bradley (#19) COMPLETED
Sea of Poppies - Amitav Ghosh (#20)
Binocular Vision - Edith Pearlman (#19)

April TIOLI Candidates:
The Elegance of the Hedgehog - Muriel Barbery (#1) GR
David Copperfield - Charles Dickens (#13) GR
The Moon is Down - John Steinbeck (#1) GR - COMPLETED
The Redeemer - Jo Nesbo (#3)
Cradle of Gold - Christopher Heaney (#1)
A is for Alibi - Sue Grafton (#1)
Cinder - Marissa Marr (#3)
If I Stay - Gayle Forman (#9)
The Beekeeper's Apprentice - Laurie R. King (#12)
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase - Joan Aiken (#15) COMPLETED
Julie of the Wolves - Jean Craighead George (#15)
The Magicians - Lev Grossman (#16)
Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe (#9) GR COMPLETED
Rules - Cynthia Lord (#19) Autism Awareness Month

Waiting in the Wings:
J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century - Tom Shippey
The Shape of Water - Andrea Camilleri (#2)
Pictures from Italy - Charles Dickens (#2)
House of Stone - Anthony Shadid (#21)
Chess Story - Stefan Zweig
Blacklands - Belinda Bauer

*I am not expecting to read all of these; they are merely possibilities. I usually have 4-5 books going at the same time and tend to read whatever I happen to be in the mood for.

Mar 31, 2012, 6:42pm Top

Mark - You snuck in there while I was working on posting my stats and plans for April. You are way ahead of me with non-fiction. I need to work on that area. I have some great suggestions from you, I just need to stop at the library and pick some up.

Mar 31, 2012, 9:01pm Top

Great stats for March! Glad to see you enjoyed the Lord of the Rings books, they are really great

Apr 1, 2012, 7:19am Top

Some great books and some great stats there, Mamie. I read I Capture the Castle last summer and loved it.

I saw you'd added The Wolves of Willoughby Chase to a TIOLI challenge and am thinking I might join you. I've been meaning to read it for ages and though I enjoyed Aiken's short stories when I was young, I don't think I ever read the wolves books.

Apr 1, 2012, 7:57am Top

I like your lists and your goals. I wish I could be more focused, but it appears that my selection of books is hap hazard. Mainly, I'm not reading books on my shelves (of which I image there are about 1,000 throughout the house), rather, when I check the threads and find great recommendations, I cannot help but add them, rush off to the library and bring home 10-15.

I vow to get books off the shelf but as long as I check threads, that continues to be a challenge for me.

Edited: Apr 1, 2012, 9:24am Top

Dee - that would be fun! I actually hadn't heard of it before LT. I kept seeing it on other people's threads, and so I thought I would check it out.

Linda - This is just my second month of appearing to be organized! I am usually haphazard in my reading, too. Usually I just read whatever trips my trigger. But since I joined LT, and specifically this 75 group, My wishlist and TBR are completely out of control! I'm attempting to direct my reading just a bit by looking through my listed library (we have boxes and boxes of books in our pole barn that I won't get added to my library until after we move) and picking a mix of books off the shelves and recent entries that I added because I saw them on other threads and want to read them. It's like a candy store here at LT - last month I only read 4 off of my shelves, and the rest were from other's suggestions or discussions. I tend to purchase a lot right now because our library here is really small, and if they have a book that is new that I want to read, they usually only have one copy and a wait that is forever long. They also just don't have a lot of the authors that I want to read - no Colin Cotterill, no Elizabeth Taylor, no Iris Murdoch, no Andrea Camilleri...Also, I'm lucky because all of us here love to read, and so if I buy it, it usually gets read by more than one person. I also have nieces and nephews coming out my ears (19 of them) and they are older (20s-30s) and so they will visit and borrow a stack of books when they leave. Lucky me!!

Apr 1, 2012, 9:27am Top

Hi, Chelle! I don't know how I missed seeing you the first time! Yes, I really loved LOTR. I am looking forward to reading Cinder and might try to squeeze in I am Number Four - we'll see.

Apr 1, 2012, 9:36am Top

Oh I hope you do find time for them both! They were quite good

Nate and I watched the first LOTR movie on his new tv a few nights ago. I forgot how great they were!

Apr 1, 2012, 9:44am Top

stopping by to say hi! It looks like you had a great read in March, and I hope that April is an equally great reading month! I'm so amazed that people can read more than one book at a time! If I did that, I'd no doubt abandon one for another - or have great trouble about who is who , why and what. :) I can only follow one plot line at a time....Bravo to you!

Apr 1, 2012, 10:34am Top

Chelle - I want to rematch the movies now that I have read the books. My son is a walking reference to LOTR - they are his favorites, and he has read and listened to them many, many times. Last night he brought up Eragon and left it on my nightstand. Just a hint, I guess - the kids have all read those books and say that I MUST read them!

Deb - I am a bit of a nut about reading multiple books at one time, but I do try to combine books that have very different writing styles so that I don't get plots and characters mixed up.

Apr 1, 2012, 8:49pm Top

Oh hurray, another Lord of the Rings fan! I haven't reread those in ages... maybe that's while I'll do when my reading deck clears in May... hm....

Loved your thoughts on The Return of the King. **Spoilers ahead** What you said about Frodo and Sam's choices and character making the completion of their mission possible echoes my own thoughts. Another thing that stands out to me is that self-sacrifice like that comes with a price. Frodo was never the same, he could never be at "home" in the Shire again as a result of his experiences.

Apr 1, 2012, 9:00pm Top

That's so true, Mary. The weight of his burden was with him even after he no longer carried the ring, and he couldn't see and feel things with the lightness of heart that he had before his journey. His experience altered the course of who he was and of who he would become.

Apr 1, 2012, 11:23pm Top

>208 bell7:/209: Agreed! Well said, both. :)

Apr 2, 2012, 5:29am Top

That's a very ambitious April list, even if you don't plan to read all of them. Wonderful review for The Return of the King!

Have you read The Silmarillon? I got it as a gift from a friend a couple of weeks ago. Actually, she said "You read books. This is a book. So read it!" and threw it on my table.
I heard it is quite difficult and only for real enthusiasts. I enjoyed LotR a lot, but I don't know if I need more Middle Earth background.

Edited: Apr 2, 2012, 7:43am Top

You'll be fascinated by Shippey's thoughts on Frodo and Sam! I may have to sort of reread that bio along with you....

I loved The Silmarillion but was tantalized too - bits and pieces of the great tales of an earlier age and almost entirely different Middle Earth -- most of it vanishes in a great cataclysm. I'll definitely read it along with you when the time comes.

Apr 2, 2012, 9:17am Top

Thank you, Faith!

Nathalie - I haven't read The Silmarrillon yet. Funny story about how you acquired it! I will get to it though - I am following the advice of our self-declared "Tolkien nut" (Lucy, aka sibyx) and reading a Tolkien biography first.

Lucy - Our library does not have the Shippey bio on Tolkien, so I purchased it! My son and husband both said that they would like to read it, too. The husband loves fantasy, and has quite a collection of books that I have never read before and will eventually have to dip into. He also loves Louis L'Amour and Zane Grey! It would be fun to have several of us reading The Silmarillon together, wouldn't it?

Apr 2, 2012, 8:04pm Top

Goodness -- I'm away from LT for a few days and everyone thread's expand wildly!

I'm glad you had such a great March - you really did read some excellent books. I may join you for a few of your TIOLI books in April. As Dee said back in post #201, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase has been calling me few a while now. I was just about to post A is for Alibi when you did - I can't believe I haven't read any Sue Grafton. And finally, I may give Cinder a try, although YA is often iffy for me....

Apr 2, 2012, 10:19pm Top

Hi Dejah! The threads have been busy these past few days. It's funny because it looked like things were slowing down and then BOOM - off they went. Maybe because we're finishing up one month and beginning another.....I have had the Sue Grafton on my TBR for a long while and Cinder I have heard good things about - my youngest collects books with Cinderella themes because when she was little that was her favorite. She was always leaving one shoe halfway down the stairs. I kind of miss that!

Apr 3, 2012, 9:09am Top

I would probably fall over it......

Apr 3, 2012, 9:18am Top

I don't seem to be able to find my copy of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase but when I do, I shall join you!

Apr 3, 2012, 1:30pm Top

I agree with your son, you should read Eragon! I have to get back to the rest of the books but the first one was quite good!

Apr 3, 2012, 5:05pm Top

Funnily enough, my son told me not to bother reading Eragon. He wasn't a fan!

Apr 3, 2012, 6:17pm Top

Hi Dee and Chelle!

Lucy, she was a polite Cinderella; she left the shoe over to one side so that no one would trip over it.

Edited: Apr 4, 2012, 12:06am Top

Book #35: The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck

This book was originally published during WWII and was very successful as propaganda for the Allied powers. It was, in fact, so successful that merely being in possession of it in Italy during that time could get the owner sentenced to death. This is not vintage Steinbeck because it was part of the war effort - the book was published for specific purposes with a clear message and a target audience. Still, there are Steinbeck moments that creep in, for example, Steinbeck's description of the mayor and his wife in the small town in Europe that is newly occupied by Nazi forces:

"The door to the left opened and Mayor Orden came in; he was digging in his right ear with his little finger. He was dressed in his official morning coat, with his chain of office about his neck. He had a large, white, spraying mustache and two smaller ones, one over each eye. His white hair was so recently brushed that only now were the hairs struggling to be free, to stand up again. He had been Mayor for so long that he was the Idea-Mayor in the town. Even grown people when they saw the word "mayor," printed or written, saw Mayor Orden in their minds. He and his office were one. It had given him dignity and he had given it warmth. From behind him Madame emerged, small and wrinkled and fierce. She considered that she had created this man out of whole cloth, had thought him up, and she was sure that she could do a better job if she had it to do again. Only once or twice in her life had she ever understood all of him, but the part of him which she knew, she knew intricately and well. No little appetite or pain, no carelessness or meanness in him escaped her; no thought or dream or longing in him ever reached her. And yet several times in her life she had seen the stars."

I liked this small book (it is only 112 pages) and I liked its message: you are not beaten until you give up. It reminded me of that moment in the movie Casablanca where the Nazis are singing in Rick's Cafe and Victor Laszlo, a Czech resistance leader, walks over to the band to tell them to play "La Marseillaise." He must sing alone at first, but then the other patrons stand and join in the singing, drowning out the Nazis. The bar is then ordered closed, but that moment of rebellion has united the people, and you just know that there will be other moments of rebellion, that they will refuse to be broken.

Apr 4, 2012, 2:18am Top

I like your review a lot.

Sentenced to death, just for the possession! They were really scared of the power of the written word. I also highlighted the part you are quoting, great writing! In this book Steinbeck shows his real strength in those little secondary things which I loved. Those are the bits where it doesn't feel like a play, which you can't easily translate into stage action.

And I should watch "Casablanca" again. Can you believe I only saw it once, as a kid, and was terribly bored? I know, shame on me! Would be a nice Easter movie, maybe I'll find it in the library.

Apr 4, 2012, 3:26am Top

Great review. I'm certainly learning about Steinbeck as I travel around the threads!

Apr 4, 2012, 6:58am Top

Mamie- Great review of The Moon is Down! I read this, for the 1st time, last year and loved it. That Steinbeck, you can't beat him!

Apr 4, 2012, 11:01am Top

Just reading about that moment in Casablanca sends chills all through me. One of the great moments in film.

Apr 4, 2012, 11:28am Top

Hi Nathalie, Dee and Mark. Thanks so much for the kind comments. The more I read Steinbeck, the more I appreciate him - what a wonderful reading year this has been so far!

Book #36: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

First of all, thanks so much to Lucy (aka sibyx) for recommending the audiobook for this one. I don't listen to a lot of audiobooks unless I am in the car because I tend to loose focus and think about other things, and then before long, I have lost my place in the story. Audiobooks also take longer for me - I can read the book so much faster on my own. However, I encourage you, I BEG you - get the audiobook for this one! It is so well done. Jayne Entwistle does the narration, and she is simply brilliant as the precocious Flavia de Luce, the book's eleven year old sleuth. Mere words cannot express how wonderfully entertaining this book becomes in the capable hands of Ms. Entwistle.

There is a dead body in the garden at Buckshaw, the home of the de Luce family, and the youngest member of that family is about to try out her sleuthing skills. Flavia is unlike any protagonist you have ever met before - she is eleven, obsessed with chemistry, precocious, and annoyingly pleased with her own cleverness. I loved her. That being said, the book is just a bit long and some events are entirely unrealistic. Things go much too smoothly with her investigation, but it was a fun ride, and her over the top enthusiasm for learning and for relating her story tickled my funny bone. The mystery and the plot here take a backseat to Flavia's personality, so if you're looking for a gripping mystery or a thriller, this isn't it. If, however, you are looking for a light read that will have you laughing out loud at the antics of a very eccentric and very English know it all, this fits the bill. But get the audiobook because Jayne Entwistle's performance is not to be missed.

*I gave it four stars - I would give the written version 3 stars, and the audio version, for performance alone, 5 stars, so settled on 4.

Apr 4, 2012, 11:30am Top

Lucy - you snuck in there while I was posting my Flavia review. I love Casablanca - my kids can all quote from that movie because we have watched it so many times. I am a huge Humphrey Bogart fan, and I love those old movies. They just don't write dialogue like that anymore.

Apr 4, 2012, 2:09pm Top

That does it, I am DEFINITELY getting the next Flavia on audio. I just listened to a sample on Audible and it was great!

Apr 4, 2012, 6:54pm Top

I am so foolishly happy that you loved it!!!!!

Apr 4, 2012, 8:48pm Top


Knowing that book buying is an obsession for book lovers, I know you might love and hate me for pointing you in the direction of


It is a danger...I tell you...a danger...but a lovely indecent obsession.


Apr 4, 2012, 11:03pm Top

Katie - It's a treat, that's for sure.

Lucy - We listened in the car just running errands, and soon all the kids were piling in the car just to go to the grocery store because they thought Flavia was such a hoot. Now my youngest keeps saying, "What bloody cheek!" with an English accent. You haven't steered me wrong yet.

Linda - OH MY WORD!!! Very Dangerous, indeed. Okay, so here's my haul:

Cold Granite - Stuart MacBride
Dust Tracks on a Road - Zora Neale Hurston
The Siege - Helen Dunmore
Mistress of the Art of Death - Ariana Franklin
The Black Dahlia - James Ellroy
Rum Punch - Elmore Leonard
City of Masks - Daniel Hecht

All for less than $30! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Apr 5, 2012, 5:59pm Top

I'm glad you enjoyed Flavia - I agree that things do go too smoothly with her investigation, but hey, it's fun anyway. You guys have me wondering about the audio versions...I may have to get a hold of the next one....

Bookcloseouts can be very fun, indeed. I'm just surprised you're buying books right before a move!

Apr 5, 2012, 6:47pm Top

Dejah - I know, I know...The thing is that part of my husband's new contract includes a moving service at no cost to us. So I will not actually have to box anything up myself. All I have to do is put them on the shelves where I want them and they will be packed up, organized, and moved for me. I think they will even unpack us down there and put it all back the way that we had it as long as I number the bookshelves. We did just donate a bunch of books, DVDs, and old VHS tapes to the local library and they will keep what they want and put the rest in the Friends of the Library sale that is coming up. We took in about eight grocery bags full of stuff, so I figure that seven new books is actually not that bad. Our library is really small, and so a lot of the books and DVDs will go directly onto the shelves.

Apr 5, 2012, 6:56pm Top

Mamie-Nice book haul! I also have Cold Granite & Mistress of the Art of Death in the TBR. And enjoyed the Dunmore, Ellroy and Leonard.

Apr 5, 2012, 8:57pm Top

Excellent - both the moving service and the library donation. Each is wonderful in its own way!

Apr 7, 2012, 8:46am Top

Good morning, Mamie! Glad I'm finally getting to your thread. You write wonderful reviews -- and we seem to like quite a few of the same books.

I loved the story of your McDonald's drive through. Your daughter is a quick thinker!

Apr 7, 2012, 9:07am Top

Mark and Dejah - Thanks for stopping by. Hope you are having a great start to the weekend - the weather here is supposed to be gorgeous!

Terri - Welcome! Glad you found your way over here. Thanks so much for the kind comments. My youngest is an energetic, always cheerful old soul. I don't know what we'd do without her!

Apr 7, 2012, 9:47am Top

Ahhhh ,Linda aka Whisper's Book Close out link is just the ticket!!!:)

So glad that you enjoyed Flavia! I've read all four! Love them all!!! I wish I'd known about the audio availability. It sounds wonderful!

Apr 7, 2012, 9:28pm Top

A great book haul, Mamie. Hooray, I see you picked up both Cold Granite and Mistress of the Art of Death - both were great reads and I hope you enjoy them.

Apr 8, 2012, 9:27am Top

Happy Easter, Mamie! Have a great day with your family!

Apr 8, 2012, 9:28am Top

Deb and Judy- Thanks for stopping by. I am excited about the books that I found and cannot wait until they get here. The two of you were responsible for some of those books!! Hope you are both having a greAt weekend - the weather has been gorgeous here.

I'm thinking it's time to start a new thread, so will work on that later today. Can't believe I have over 200 posts already - thanks, everyone who has stopped by and made this such a fun experience.

Apr 8, 2012, 11:01am Top

Hi Mamie. Thanks for reposting your review of The Return of the King. The Lord of the Rings is one of the books responsible for me becoming such a reading addict and I thought your review absolutely nailed everything I love about the book.

#187 "Happiness is watching a new Tolkien fan flower!" - Indeed!

#188 I have the Shippey biography in my TBR pile (should really read it). Another Tolkien biography I really enjoyed was Tolkien: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter.

#198 "I am not expecting to read all of these; they are merely possibilities. I usually have 4-5 books going at the same time and tend to read whatever I happen to be in the mood for." A kindred spirit! I seem to take the same approach to planning my reading.

#208, 209, 210 Oh yes, very well said :-)

All this LOTR talk has made me want to do a reread too, and read the Shippey biography, and reread The Silmarillion and make a start on the History of Middle Earth books with The Return of the Shadow.

#231 Nice book haul! The Mistress of the Art of Death and The Siege are also in my TBR pile.

Apr 8, 2012, 1:42pm Top

Heather - Thanks so much for stopping by and for all of the wonderful comments. I am excited that we share so many books in our TBR pile! I love getting other people's takes on things that I have read. The Lord of the Rings, I know, will be among my favorite reads of the year. Cannot believe that I have never read them before!

Apr 8, 2012, 3:55pm Top


Apr 8, 2012, 3:56pm Top

Just stopping in!

Apr 8, 2012, 4:17pm Top

Claudia - Thanks for the Easter wishes!

Lucy - Always good to "see" you!

Apr 8, 2012, 6:14pm Top

Hope you are having a good easter weekend :)

Apr 8, 2012, 9:05pm Top

Wow! I just had a chance to come back and read thru your thread. Loved it :-)

*Welcome to LT! You are a great addition! Sorry it took me so long to find you.
*You are reading some really fabulous books!
*Now I want to read LOTR all over again!
*Many of the books you have read, I loved
*Many are still on my WL... others will need to be added.
*Your reviews are fantastic!
*Loved that all the kids wanted to pack into the car to hear about Flavia's adventures - great spunk!
*Lucy will never steer you wrong ;-)


Apr 9, 2012, 9:23am Top

Waves at Chelle - love the new pics on your thread!

Claudia - Thank you so much for all of your kind and thoughtful comments. It has been so great to share my love of reading with so many others who also adore books. Lucy told me that the 75 was where it was at, and she was right - what a warm, welcoming group of bibliophiles.

Apr 9, 2012, 9:27am Top

Mamie - enjoyed catching up on your thread and nodding along to most of your opinions on the books we've shared (Tolkein and Steinbeck especially).
Wanted to echo the comments made by Cee in 248 - she always says it much better than I do anyway.

Apr 9, 2012, 9:42am Top

Paul - Welcome! Thanks so much for stopping by and for adding your echo!!

Apr 9, 2012, 11:08am Top

Your thread has been busy! I hope your Easter weekend was wonderful.

How's the house selling going? Have you actually listed it yet? I occurred to me that I don't know if you've already found a place here in GA - have you been on any house hunting trips or are you waiting until you get some nibbles on the house up there?

Apr 9, 2012, 11:09am Top

Just practicing adding a photo to my post. By George, I think I've got it!!

Edited: Apr 9, 2012, 11:50am Top

Ok Dejah, here's the scoop. We have not actually listed the house yet. Our house was built in 1941, and for the thirteen years that we have owned it we have been gutting it room by room. We put in hard wood floors, radiant heat tile in the bathrooms, custom cabinets - it has been a labor of love. It would probably have been easier, faster, and most cost effective to just have knocked it down and rebuilt on the property...but 1941. It has charm and history, and I just couldn't completely destroy that for modern and efficient. We pretty much just got everything the way that we wanted it, and then we decided that we weren't going to stay in Indiana - we have always wanted to live somewhere more esthetically pleasing and the husband was really unhappy with his job situation. Indiana is flat and we have always lived here. The husband loves his job but hates that his practice is owned by a corporation whose bottom line is all about the money and not so much about the patient care. We decided to look around and see if we could find a privately owned practice that embraced my husband's vision of medicine - where the patient comes first and the almighty dollar takes a backseat. We weren't actually looking at Georgia - we figured Tennessee or the Carolinas. But, the Georgia opportunity fell into our laps and we decided to check it out. It was such a perfect fit - a privately owned practice, a lovely community, and beautiful scenery. So.....we have been down there to explore, but have not looked at specific houses. I really want to take things one step at a time and not rush. We will put our house on the market in the next two weeks, probably. We have repainted all the rooms, cleared the clutter, and are working on cleaning and organizing all the cabinets. We want to stage the house and price it to sell, in the hopes that it will sell fairly quickly. But again, we are in no rush because the two youngest girls are finishing up treatment with their braces, we have a daughter and son getting ready for Prom later this month, and we are finishing up the school year. So, the husband will start the new job mid-May without us and we will stay with the house until it sells. After that we will look at houses down in Georgia; the housing prices down there are actually very comparable to Indiana, so we should be able to find something that meets our needs. We have agreed not to settle, as we hope this will be our final destination. I want to enjoy each step of the journey, and not feel pressured or stressed out.

*That's probably way more than you wanted to know- oh well.

Apr 9, 2012, 6:04pm Top

Mamie -- I appreciate that you shared so much! It sounds like an excellent situation with a great plan in place. I hope it all goes very smoothly and you make it down here soon.

And now I'll visit your new thread!

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