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drneutron's Attempt at 75 - Waiting' for Spring!

This is a continuation of the topic drneutron's Attempt at 75 - Bring in the New Year!.

This topic was continued by drneutron's Attempt at 75 - Summer's Here!.

75 Books Challenge for 2012

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Feb 28, 2012, 10:07pm Top

22. Calvin Coolidge by David Greenberg

Silent Cal is usually lumped with Harding and Hoover as the low-ranked gap between activists Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt. But there's more to him than meets the eye. He was the first US President to make extensive use of the broadcast medium - in this case, radio - to reach out to the American public as a whole. Following Harding, Coolidge increased the use of the burgeoning advertising industry to manage his public image. His approach to governing - lowering taxes, cutting spending, deregulating business - foreshadowed Reagan, and was occasionally cited by Reagan as an inspiration.

Coolidge governed during one of the strongest boom times, the Roaring Twenties, and left office just a few months before the crash of '29 and the start of the Great Depression. Looking back from the other side of those bad times, it's clear that things were about to go so wrong. But as Greenberg points out, seeing Coolidge only from that perspective gives a skewed picture of the man. A fuller picture, says Greenberg, is one of a man bridging the gap between 19th century values and 20th century culture.

Recommended. This is a pretty good entry in the American Presidents series.

Edited: Feb 28, 2012, 10:30pm Top

Summary for the year to date:

Books by male authors read: 19 (83%)
Books by female authors read: 4 (17%)
(one had male and female co-authors)

Books by dead authors: 0 (0%)
Book by living authors: 22 (100%)

Publication Years
2012 - 3 (14%)
2011 - 10 (45%)
2010 - 4 (18%)
2009 - 1 (4.5%)
2008 - 1 (4.5%)
2006 - 1 (4.5%)
2004 - 1 (4.5%)
1989 - 1 (4.5%)

Hardcover: 12 (55%)
Paper: 9 (41%)
Ebook: 1 (4%)

ARC: 3 (14%)

Public Library: 17 (77%)
My Library: 5 (23%)

Rereads: 1 (4.5%)
Edit | More

Feb 28, 2012, 10:29pm Top

Well my goodness, that's twice in one week I've been the first one in the door! Caught up with your old thread. Sorry you didn't like Flavia better (I read it as enormously tongue in cheek but with a good story in there too) but glad you liked Shardlake.

Edited: Feb 28, 2012, 10:30pm Top

Hi, Jim! Am I second? Wow!

Feb 28, 2012, 10:32pm Top

Yay, the continuation thingy works!

Oh, I liked Flavia enough to read the rest, i've just got a few others queued up first!

Feb 28, 2012, 10:47pm Top

I've got to get to the Flavia books sometime soon.

Feb 28, 2012, 11:23pm Top

I enjoyed all the Flavia books, but none as much as the first. Still, looking forward to any more that come along.

Feb 29, 2012, 5:15am Top

Jim, the Coolidge book looks interesting. He's certainly a president I don't know much about, so well worth diving into. Onto the wishlist it goes!

Feb 29, 2012, 7:40am Top

Oh, I'm so behind on the President's Challenge - I'm still slogging through Ketcham's tome on Madison. Sigh.

Feb 29, 2012, 8:18am Top

I'm doing pretty well with the USPC. I don't think I'll get to Obama before the election, but I'm making pretty good progress. I kinda got hung up on Teddy Roosevelt, and there are a couple of months where I took a break. It's been an interesting way to learn some history as well as read about some interesting people!

Feb 29, 2012, 8:47am Top

I've really enjoyed it so far, and you're right that it's a great approach to learning more about US history (a subject in which I'm poorly read). But there's no way I'll be finished by election time! Oh well, I'll still keep going!

Feb 29, 2012, 9:46am Top

Jim congrats on the new thread and glad you avoided my often misadventures with the continuation thread. As usual some interesting reading going on round your way.

Feb 29, 2012, 10:05am Top

Nice to see someone else interested in Silent Cal. I have Sobel's behemoth biography on my shelves and get intimidated every time I go to read it.

When I have collected a full set of presidential biographies, I will attack them head on. My criteria to be included in the challenge is that the life of the former president has to be concluded, which leaves with a list of 38 people; I have books on 9 of them (a long way to go yet).

Feb 29, 2012, 11:56am Top

I'm glad that it was a good book on Coolidge, because he's one of my favorite presidents to study and admire.

#11 - Learning U.S. history is definitely more interesting when you're studying people, not remembering dates and timelines. I used to hate history until I started learning about the people that made it - suddenly I'm a total history buff!

Good luck with the President's Challenge, everyone! :D

Feb 29, 2012, 1:51pm Top

Is there a thread or group that contains the President's Challenge, or is to more of an informal thing? It sounds right up my alley.

Feb 29, 2012, 2:07pm Top

Feb 29, 2012, 4:04pm Top

Thanks, Jim!

Mar 3, 2012, 5:56pm Top

23. Progeny by R T Kaelin

I enjoyed Progeny last year when I read it - classic epic fantasy that reminded me of some of my faves from earlier decades. Kaelin has done a major rewrite to tighten up the story, with the result of an improvement to an already good story. The dialog's tighter, the plot moves better, and the characters are a bit more real. There's an indication this one may be picked up by a publisher. I sure hope so! In the meantime, the new version is on Amazon as an ebook.

24. The Power of Babel by John McWhorter

Languages change in ways much like biological evolution - they adapt, mutate, form new languages, even die. McWhorter's book discusses the processes by which these changes take place. Generally, the discussions of mechanisms and anthropology were good, but for some reason I had difficulty focusing on McWhorter's prose. These are some dense sentences! In the end I rated this one a little lower because I felt the struggle to keep going was more than it should have been.

Mar 3, 2012, 6:07pm Top

Hi Jim- Did you read Matterhorn? I'm currently reading the author's last book, What It Is Like to Go to War which is NF and it is fantastic. I highly recommend both.
I also picked up The Sixth Gun.

Mar 3, 2012, 8:01pm Top

Haven't read them yet, but looks like I ought to!

Mar 4, 2012, 11:35am Top

Stopping to say hi!! So I can find you again.

Mar 4, 2012, 6:10pm Top

I am waiting for Spring, too! Come on in...better weather!

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

*checking in to the new thread*

Mar 4, 2012, 7:52pm Top

Spring? Pshaw. I'm waiting for Summer! No homework, no obligations - just books, books, books!

Mar 5, 2012, 8:31pm Top

*sigh* I'm soooo tired. For the last two months, we've had our nephew visiting with us. He's 21, but has some learning disabilities and is somewhere on the autism spectrum. He's been a handful - most of the time he's disruptive and needs to be the center of attention. It's amazing that I'm pretty much on track with my usual reading pace.:)

Last night late, he had a full blown seizure - classic grand mal. We were up most of the night helping him get past the seizure, then dealing with the resulting aches and minor bumps. Finally got some sleep, then had to get up at the usual time for work.

He lives with his grandmother in Louisiana, and we brought him up here to Maryland to give her a rest. Now it's time for him to go home, and I think I'm going to sleep all next weekend!

Thanks for letting me unload a little. I need it...I'm hoping that I can lurk a little less after he's home. It's hard for me to. Describe how much this community means to me!

Mar 5, 2012, 9:14pm Top

Jim, good to hear from you and don't apologize for the "dump". We all need to do that from time to time, and I know living with a person who has high maintenance needs can be very trying, and exhausting. You are to be admired that you were willing to give his grandmother a break as I am sure she needed it.

Back to reading! always a good idea.

Mar 5, 2012, 10:50pm Top

I've worked with a lot of children on the autism spectrum and, yes, they are high maintenance. I'm sure his grandmother needed a break--good for you for being willing to give it to her. Hope you get a good rest now.

Mar 5, 2012, 11:28pm Top

What a blessing for you to be able to give your nephew's grandmother a two-month break. I'm sure she really needed it, and appreciated it. I love that the folks in this group feel they can share both the highs and the lows of their lives, and know that we are all here for each other!

Mar 6, 2012, 6:36am Top

Wow, how does she even manage it?

Edited: Mar 6, 2012, 7:22am Top

Just here to echo the already-offered sentiments - how wonderful of you to take this on, and like Morphy, I'm amazing that grandma does it full time! My heart goes out to your nephew, too.

ETA: It will be good to have you around more soon, too!

Mar 6, 2012, 7:52am Top

No need to apologise Jim, sounds like it has been a tough two months. Kudos for giving grandma a break. Hope you can get some well-deserved rest this weekend.

Mar 6, 2012, 9:02am Top

Thanks for all the encouragement! It's nice to have a place to go when I need it.

He's actually a very sweet person in his own way. The biggest issues we have are his adjusting to change - which he doesn't do well at all. When he's at grandma's house, he's used to the routine so easier to deal with. Still, grandma's not getting any younger, and I think we're going to have to find an alternative living arrangement in the next few years. The wife's recently gotten access to his social services person and is beginning the process of finding a care facility for him down in Louisiana where all the family is. We'd like to get him in a small group home setting with a job and people who watch out for him. Fortunately, it looks like there are some opportunities opening up. I'll keep folks posted.

On the book front, I started The Map of TIme (alt history/time travel, rather than the curent tutored read!) and it's pretty good. 200 page in, we've got H. G. Wells and Jack the Ripper involved and the plot is thickening. I had to stop last night at a cliffhanger because I just couldn't keep my eyes open any more, and i"m eagerly awaiting lunch when I can crack it open again and find out what happened!

Mar 6, 2012, 9:14am Top

May I ask where his parents are?

Mar 6, 2012, 9:40am Top

His dad's completely absent, and it's probably for the best. His mom's barely scraping by and has some issues of her own, so isn't able to give him the care he needs. He's also got an older sister that's starting to get her act together that we're hoping will step in and be the primary guardian for him. She's also unlikely to be able to fully care for him since she's a single mom with two kids and just now going to community college. But if he's in a group home, I think she'll do fine as keeping an eye on things.

Bottom line is that if these options don't work out, we'll take him in. He's got disability from Social Security and Medicaid for health care. So when we find the right place, there's financial support for him, and we've got enough to supplement as needed to get him the right care. It's just that we seem to be the only ones in the family capable of navigating the various social services offices and organizations out there. From half a country away. So everything takes longer than it should. One way or another we'll make it work out. :)

Mar 6, 2012, 11:05am Top

Blessings on your head, Jim. My cousin has a son with similar issues; he's now 30-something and has been in a group home situation since he turned 18 (before that he was in a residential school setting); he does very well in that environment, where he knows what to expect and has opportunities to participate in activities he is good at. I hope you will find the same for your nephew.

Mar 6, 2012, 11:29am Top

Delurking to say that you're a good person, Jim. It's great that you're able and willing to be of so much help.

Mar 6, 2012, 12:42pm Top

Wow, ditto from me, Jim. It's a lot to take on. He's lucky to have you, as is your family in general.

Mar 6, 2012, 1:10pm Top

How kind of you and your wife to consider your nephews plans for the future. He's blessed to have you in his life.

Mar 6, 2012, 1:24pm Top

Echoing everyone else... Your family is fortunate to have you. Has your nephew visited for such an extended period before?

Mar 6, 2012, 1:52pm Top

He has, but this this the longest stretch so far. And one of the things we've been dealing with is a bit of homesickness, at least at first. When we do this again, we'll do some things differently! It's been a learning experience, for sure.

Mar 7, 2012, 9:48am Top

You and your wife are such great people to help out with your nephew. I hope everything works out for him and you.

Mar 7, 2012, 10:55am Top

You may find this essay interesting, Jim. The collection of essays referred to has been published now as By the Iowa Sea.

Edited: Mar 7, 2012, 11:04am Top

Good luck with all of it, Jim. If he can get into a situation where he knows the routines and his autism is understood, there is every chance of him having a happy and fulfilled life. I think his grandma must be an amazing person to have taken this on, as are you.

Mar 7, 2012, 12:52pm Top

You're a grand man Jim - good on you for your love and care to both your nephew and Grandma. Not easy taking on such responsibilities and keeping up your busy working routine - such selflessness is way from the norm these days - well done mate.

Mar 7, 2012, 1:45pm Top

Linda - That's a fantastic article! I've passed it on to my wife.

Mar 7, 2012, 4:00pm Top

God bless you for what you're doing, Jim, both the respite you're giving Grandma and the planning that you're taking on!

I know just what you mean about navigating the social services network. In most places, there is a decent array of services for children with autism due to IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), but a serious shortage of services available for adults with autism. Nobody seems to know what to do with these folks when they turn 21. Most of the developmental disabilities services for adults are designed for those with what they used to call Mental Retardation (what's the politically correct term now?). Those with autism have more specialized needs; some even have normal IQ's and fall outside the MR safety net altogether, but their other deficits often leave them poorly equipped for independent living. My son is at the age where I'm starting to look ahead, and feeling stymied. God forbid anything happens to hubby and I anytime in the near future . . . we're not going to live forever, and we are seriously short of younger relatives to watch out for our son when we're gone.

Mar 7, 2012, 4:42pm Top

That is such a good point that you make, Terri. My oldest daughter has Aspergers Syndrome, which falls into the autism spectrum, and she is turning twenty this month. My husband and I have the same worries about why happens when we are no longer around - luckily, she has three younger siblings and so hopefully we will be here until one of them could take over. But all the really great services that are available for children just seem to disappear at the adult level.

Jim - What you are doing matters. I am so impressed with how you and your wife are reaching out to make a difference. I think one of the key things with autism is what you already mentioned - change of any kind is very stressful, so the more routine that can be established and maintained, the less stressed out he is likely to be. The seizures would be so scary. Two months was a huge commitment - what a wonderful gift for the Grandmother to have a break from things.

>42 laytonwoman3rd: That was a great article.

Mar 7, 2012, 5:44pm Top

42 That was a really great article. I've added that essay collection to my Ever-Expanding list.

Mar 7, 2012, 7:21pm Top

I live in one of those newer suburban "house farms" - newer, small houses, limited number of floor plans but they look a little different one from the other. Up the street there is an autistic young lady and she shares the house with a low income person who trades free rent for supporting the young lady in her day to day living. I think her parents bought the house for her, and she does have a job bagging groceries. I don't know the details, but it does seem like a creative solution.

Mar 7, 2012, 8:08pm Top

>46 tymfos:: It's "intellectual disability" now, I think, Terri. It keeps changing every few years. It was mentally handicapped for a while.

My husband is the CEO of an agency which provides residential and employment services for hearing impaired adults who also have intellectual disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder. They have several group homes for those who need more care, one of which even has a snoozelin room. There are independent living programs for those who are less dependent on support. And there is a super day program where the clients do really neat sewing, gardening and woodworking projects. Surely there is something of this nature in the U.S.?

Mar 7, 2012, 9:38pm Top

There are definitely places like that here in the US. My wife and I don't have any experience with them, so we're still trying to figure all this out. We've got some info about a group home that also provides a job near where Grandma lives that would be ideal. That's one of our tasks for the near term - to get in contact with the organization.

Nephew and Grandma are heading back to Louisiana in the morning. He's excited to get back, but also a bit spun up. This time tomorrow, he'll be back in his own bed! :)

Mar 8, 2012, 1:08am Top

Jim, safe and happy travels to your nephew as he heads home! And best wishes with the group home. It sounds ideal, and I'm glad such an option exists close to his grandmother.

Surely there is something of this nature in the U.S.?

50 Such programs/places exist -- the group home described in msg 51 sounds great -- but their availability varies widely depending on locale. Guidelines to qualify for programs are often arbitrary and exclusionary of many who need help. Waiting lists are often very long. It can be a very frustrating system, and it is different in every state; in PA, available programs vary widely even between different counties.

Mar 11, 2012, 4:52pm Top

25. The Map of Time by Félix J. Palma

First of all, I'm not telling you what this book is about. That would spoil everything. I will say it's one of the better time travel books I've read. But time travel doesn't begin to describe it. There's mystery, love stories, and H. G. Wells. Just when you think you've figured out what Palma's doing with the story - I guarantee he'll fool you. Palma tells his story in three interlinked parts. Whatever you do, read at least through the first part. By then, you'll be hooked.

This is a Victorian story, and it's translated in a style to match. There's lots of descriptive text, and the paragraphs can go over a page. But the language is gorgeous and the characters are great. If you don't read this sort of thing, consider giving it a try anyway. It's just a beautiful book!

Sorry, I think I slipped into gushing! :)

Mar 11, 2012, 5:15pm Top

53: Oh dear, immediately onto the Nook, which is worse than onto the wishlist.

Mar 11, 2012, 5:45pm Top

The Map of Time looks exactly like my sort of thing. Onto the Wishlist it goes.

Mar 11, 2012, 6:26pm Top

Oh dear, hit by that book bullet! The Map of Time goes onto the wishlist.

Have you read Ready Player One yet? I just finished it, and it was a whole lot of sf fun.

Mar 11, 2012, 6:53pm Top


I'm adding my praises to those above. You and your wife are very special, kind, other directed people to help those in need!

The world needs more of you!

Mar 11, 2012, 6:56pm Top

Gushing is good! I will keep an eye out for MoT. Kudos for extending yourself to your nephew and for what sounds like the work still to come. Enjoy your return to "normalcy." Hope you rejuvenate soon!

Edited: Mar 11, 2012, 7:09pm Top

I really appreciate all the support from the 75ers! I really needed it that day. Nephew and Grandma made it home, but weather caused a delay in Dallas and they wound up stuck in the airport for 10 hours. He didn't do well with it, but survived with no seizures and everybody's home and recovered! :)

Roni - I've seen all the good reviews of Ready Player One, and as someone who was in college during the early 80s, I suspect I'll love it!

Mar 11, 2012, 8:19pm Top

Goodness, gracious, I'm filled with admiration for this young man's grandmother! Wowzer. I know how tired I get with just regular kids...

Mar 11, 2012, 8:58pm Top

ditto Maggie's comment. And, again, Jim, you and your wife are incredible people.

Mar 12, 2012, 12:35am Top

Oh, I've been drooling over The Map of Time every time I go to the bookstore but hadn't bothered to look of reviews - sounds like another for the wish list!

And mte on everyone's comments - sounds like you're a fantastic uncle :).

Mar 12, 2012, 8:07am Top

Jim, you're the #1 cause for the fatness of my wishlist. Seriously. Adding The Map of Time now. Great review!

Mar 12, 2012, 8:18am Top

Amber - I've picked up a few from you, so turnabout's fair play, right? :)

Mar 12, 2012, 8:27am Top

True, I suppose. :)

Mar 13, 2012, 10:58pm Top

26. London Under by Peter Ackroyd

Ackroyd's got a way with words. His sentences are beautiful, and the pictures he draws with his prose are vivid. And there's plenty of these in London Under. Unfortunately, this musing on what's under London just isn't that interesting. His choices of topics - rivers, sewers, the Underground - had potential, but the follow-through isn't there. Mostly I wish that the topics were deeper instead of barely scratching the surface.

27. Watching Baseball Smarter by Zack Hample

Read for bdb's Spring Training reading list. Hample has put together a nice little book to explain what to watch for, how to enjoy a baseball game. There's discussion of strategy, a bit of history, and some great quotes from great baseball characters. Highly recommended for anybody wanting to learn a bit more about the game.

Mar 16, 2012, 11:13pm Top

hi, Jim. Just dropping by to see what you thought of 77 Shadow Street I'm glad you liked it more than I did! I have been turned off to Koontz for a bit, but I did enjoy the 1st Odd Thomas book....I might have to try another.

I'm also adding The Woman in Black to my list :)

Mar 17, 2012, 9:40am Top

Koontz and I have a rocky relationship. I thought this one wasn't bad, but flawed. His Frankenstein books are an abomination, but fortunately Odd Thomas makes up for all his sins... :)

Susan Hill is one of my favorite authors these days. If you haven't read the Simon Serrailer series, give The Various Haunts of Men a look.

Mar 17, 2012, 9:53am Top

The Map of Time thumps into the vaults......

I so respect and admire your gift to your gran and your care for your nephew.

Mar 17, 2012, 9:58am Top

I've been thinking about reading The Map of Time, Jim, and your review really helped convince me.

Mar 17, 2012, 7:42pm Top

You've intrigued me with your review of The Map of Time as well, Jim. I have also happily noted that my library has a copy.

Edited: Mar 17, 2012, 8:30pm Top

28. The Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indrisson

Second in the Erlandur mystery series by Icelander Indrisson, sequel to Jar City.

Lamb shepard's pie is ready... More to follow!

Ok, back now. I wasn't super impressed with the first, Jar City, but thought enough of it to give the sequel a try. I'm glad I did. The Silence of the Grave really fleshed out Erlander's character (and most of the supporting characters). Plus, the mystery was good, with a few twists and a tragic story. Now I'm looking forward to the third!

Mar 17, 2012, 8:34pm Top

You got me with The Map of Time, too.

Mar 18, 2012, 5:38am Top

I've been thinking about reading these Erlander books ever since I saw the film of Jar City last year. For some reason although I really like to watch this sort of thing on TV I've never read much mystery/ detective type fiction and I think it's probably time to give it another go.

Mar 19, 2012, 4:14pm Top

OK, guess I need to read that second Erlandur mystery . . .

Mar 19, 2012, 4:16pm Top

Thumbs up for Susan Hill!

Mar 21, 2012, 4:39pm Top

29. Bloodshot by Cherie Priest

I'm a big, big fan of Cherie Priest's Boneshaker and sequels - some really well-written steampunk. So I thought I'd branch out a bit when I saw this one at the library. Now, I usually wouldn't be caught dead (no pun intended) reading a vampire urban fantasy. But I hoped that Priest's talent would carry the day. And it mostly did. Bloodshot is a government conspiracy, men-in-black thriller starring a paranoid and OCD vampire who teams up with an ex-Navy SEAL drag queen to figure out who's performing experiments on vampires.

Yeah. It's that odd. But surprisingly, it works well as brain candy. The characters were fun, and the vamps weren't all-powerful super-people, although Priest did stretch credibility a bit on occasion. I'm going to get the second from the library and see how it goes.

30. Blockade Billy by Stephen King

Read for bdb's Spring Training thread. This one's a short work telling the story of Blockade Billy, a rookie catcher who came out of nowhere with the talent to be a star, and yet has been completely expunged from the history of baseball. Why that's so is the story. Any more would be a spoiler, but I have to say that the ending took a direction I wasn't expecting. King's storytelling is as good as ever it was, and his love of baseball really shines through. No, you don't have to be a fan of the game to enjoy Billy's story. And enjoy it, I suspect you will.

Mar 22, 2012, 4:00pm Top

Glad to hear you liked Bloodshot! I actually think the sequel Hellbent is even better.

Mar 26, 2012, 5:40pm Top

#72 I've just got the second Erlendur from the library, having read the first last year, and also the 6th which my book group annoyingly chose. I'm looking forward to filling in the gaps between the two I've read - and I'm glad to hear it's a good one.

Mar 26, 2012, 10:14pm Top

Seriously, they picked the *sixth* in a series?! How silly!

31. Jane Slayre by Bronte and Erwin

It's a brain candy of a mash-up - Jane Eyre, er Slayre, as vampire slayer raised by vamps, zombies at her boarding school, etc. It's clever, amusing, even funny in spots, but it's been done before. Don't expect too much and you won't be disappointed.

32. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

I finally jumped on the bandwagon here in the Challenge (in fairness, most of the readers were in last year's challenge!) and I'm glad I did. I didn't love it, but the story had a Cormac McCarthy vibe that I really liked. Recommended.

Mar 26, 2012, 10:26pm Top

>80 drneutron: I listened to Jane Slayre on audiobook awhile back. It was enjoyable, but my biggest problem with it was that I thought there could have (and should have) been more supernaturals :-)

Mar 29, 2012, 8:36am Top

#80 Yes, very silly. They don't seem to be bothered about reading series in order. Though I admit, I was less bothered myself before LT. At least I was not so bothered with mysteries, most of which tend to be pretty stand-alone as far as the plot goes, even though the back story of the detective may be worth following through from the beginning.

Edited: Mar 29, 2012, 9:50pm Top

33. The Thirteen Hallows by Michael Scott and Colette Freedman

Michael Scott wrote the YA Nicolas Flamel series, and with The Thirteen Hallows offers a more adult tale of magical artifacts and demons from another world. The basic story is familiar - magician is collecting ancient relics of power and killing their guardians. See, these aren't just relics. They're keys to a door that locks away another world filled with demons just waiting to invade. Except a man and woman hold two of the most powerful artifacts and need to stop him.

Scott and Freedman offer up a pretty good tale of murder and mayhem, thrills, evil bad guys and a bit of romance. All-in-all, quite good brain candy!

Mar 29, 2012, 10:03pm Top

Summary for the year to date:

Books by male authors read: 28 (78%)
Books by female authors read: 8 (22%)

Books by dead authors: 1 (3%)
Book by living authors: 33 (97%)

Publication Years
2012 - 5 (15%)
2011 - 14 (42%)
2010 - 6 (18%)
2009 - 1 (3%)
2008 - 1 (3%)
2007 - 2 (6%)
2006 - 1 (3%)
2004 - 1 (3%)
2003 - 1 (3%)
1989 - 1 (3%)

Hardcover: 19 (58%)
Paper: 12 (36%)
Ebook: 2 (6%)

ARC: 4 (12%)

Public Library: 27 (82%)
My Library: 6 (18%)

Rereads: 2 (6%)

Apr 3, 2012, 9:19pm Top

Hi Jim! Too many delicious blue words on this thread, very dangerous ;)
I've added a few to my list and Bloodshot looks great. I'll have to check out the other Cherie Priest books too

Apr 3, 2012, 10:07pm Top

I picked up the sequel to Bloodshot the other day at the library, but first I need to finish The Master of Heathcrest Hall. It's very good, but 700 pages long!

Apr 5, 2012, 11:38pm Top

I've added Bloodshot to my try in the future list, I've already picked up Blockade Billy from the library (having read about it here on your thread) and have been debating about The Sisters Brothers. I don't read many Westerns, but I may have to give it a try, after all.

And of course, I'm reading The Master of Heathcrest Hall now - it is good!

Apr 6, 2012, 9:59am Top

Added Bloodshot and Boneshaker to my WL. The Thirteen Hallows sounds like a great gift for my husband who has read all the books in the YA series by Michael Scott and really enjoyed them. Thanks, Jim.

Apr 6, 2012, 11:36am Top

By the way, mrsdrneutron finished up the book she was reading and jumped into Bloodshot yesterday. She's not a fast reader, but is making short work of it and is really enjoying it. So that's another endorsement! :)

Apr 6, 2012, 11:43am Top

mrsdrnuetron I love that!!

Apr 6, 2012, 12:17pm Top

:) Join us for the Spring DC Meetup and you can meet her. She loves to tag along!

Apr 7, 2012, 8:05am Top

>90 Crazymamie: Yeah. I've got a MrMorphy. mrsdrneutron is adorable.

Apr 7, 2012, 9:15am Top

Too funny! I guess I have a MrCrazymamie. He'll love that!

Apr 7, 2012, 11:27am Top

As if I thought the username of "drneutron" couldn't get any better - Mrsdrneutron just did! So cute. :)

As far as relations sharing our username, my brother is on LibraryThing, and his name is AresofAmbition. Which works for us, because in certain versions of Greek mythology, Ares was the brother of Eris.

Apr 7, 2012, 1:16pm Top

I like it!

Apr 7, 2012, 1:45pm Top

Just wanted to say that I love your reviews, and your sense of humor, as is so evident in MrsDrNeutron. Thanks!

Apr 7, 2012, 8:44pm Top

Just finished making blueberry scones for breakfast tomorrow. Ok, they're from a mix - Stonewall Kitchens - but I got it from a gourmet store along with some small-batch roasted coffee. Man, they're smelling gooood! :)

Apr 7, 2012, 8:54pm Top

Picked up The Master of Heathcrest Hall yesterday, but it will be a bit before I get to it--Have to finish the ER Tim Powers first, and have a couple of nonfiction books going too along with poetry.

Apr 8, 2012, 9:12pm Top

34. The Master of Heathcrest Hall by Galen Beckett

Galen Beckett's Ivy Lockwell trilogy is a masterful combination of Regency novel and original fantasy. I was delighted with the first, The Magicians and Mrs Quent - owing much to Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austin, while also a creatively original story with great characters. The second, The House on Durrow Street continues the feel of the first while deepening the story and growing the characters.

Now, with The Master of Heathcrest Hall, Beckett ties together all the pieces into a wonderful ending of the trilogy. Once again, it's got great atmosphere and characters that continue to surprise. I loved the ending and frankly, hated that it was over!

Apr 9, 2012, 10:25am Top

It's nice to know that the third book in the trilogy holds up. I have The Magicians and Mrs. Quent in my TBR, and hope to get to it next month.

Apr 9, 2012, 10:44am Top

Happy Easter and Good reading Jim.

Edited: Apr 9, 2012, 3:25pm Top

I finished The Master of Heathcrest Hall this weekend, too - it was really good. I was very happy with the ending and was wishing for more - not necessarily more of Ivy/Rafferdy/Eldyn, bit perhaps of their children. I'm terribly behind on my reviews, but since this was an ER book, I'll get to it sooner rather than later.

I wish I could make it to the Spring DC Meetup - maybe next year!

Apr 9, 2012, 2:50pm Top

Thanks, Paul!

Apr 9, 2012, 8:28pm Top

So I just got a text from the son who's 22 and off at college in South Carolina. We're now swapping beer recommendations. When did I get old enough to have an adult son?! :)

Apr 10, 2012, 12:45am Top

Hahaha Jim - I'm not supposed to encourage my son to drink (he is being brought up as a ((i hope)) rational muslim) and I think I'll miss that if he doesn't succumb to the pleasures of the pint or the bottle as have I.

Edited: Apr 10, 2012, 8:26am Top

> 104

I predict that you'll love this time of your life when your former son has now turned into a "real person". I enjoyed having three little children, but I also now love relating to each of them as rational-minded adults. It's amazing.

What were your beer picks? :)

Apr 10, 2012, 3:24pm Top

He's gotten interested in a Japanese brewery Kodawari. Apparently, not only does he like the beer, but after the tsunami, they shut down production and switched over to water purification to give away. It's hard to find in the US, but I'm going to see what I can do.

Edited: Apr 10, 2012, 10:29pm Top

Good luck finding it. Sounds as if the price of that beer might have gone up! :)

Oh...and if you can find some...bring it to our next meet-up! ;)

Apr 11, 2012, 11:11am Top

Tomm's dad, who used to bring home a bottle of Orange Cream Soda for Tomm after work, now loves to bring him a case of Woodchuck Hard Cider (Tomm's favorite, which we can't seem to find around here) when they come to visit. It's a nice variation on the theme, I think. :)

Apr 12, 2012, 11:11pm Top

Jim ... for our next outing to Dupont Circle on a hot summer day ... :D

The Bier Baron Tavern
Dupont Circle,
1523 22nd St NW,
Washington, DC
(202) 293-1885

Located in the redeveloped space of the Brickskeller, Washington's historic beer haven, the new tavern features a selection of more than 500 beers from around the world.

Apr 13, 2012, 12:09am Top

Oh, my. Must. Go. Now. :)

Apr 13, 2012, 7:03am Top

Hi Jim- The Bier Baron Tavern! Sounds like Heaven! Enjoy, sir!
I'm starting the 2nd Sixth Gun book. Really enjoyed the 1st.

Apr 13, 2012, 9:46am Top

I've been to the Brickskeller a few times, but not since they closed and re-opened as something new. It's a pretty nice space, literally right across the street from Soho Coffee and Tea where we went last time.

Another good place for beer is Rustico, which has over 400 beers. There's one in Ballston and one in Alexandria (stumbling distance from my house ;-). They also have great food.

Apr 13, 2012, 10:16am Top

500 beats 400! :D

Apr 13, 2012, 10:17am Top

If we go ever back to Soho, remember to bring some BookCrossing-registered books for the book shelf there.

Apr 13, 2012, 12:09pm Top

Well, not to brag, but we've got our own place here in Columbia - the Frisco Tap House - with 50 or so on tap and a whole bunch more in bottles:


It seems like they've got a Dog Fish Head theme going on, but I note that they've got Blue Point Old Howling Bastard on deck. That one I need to try! :)

Apr 13, 2012, 1:11pm Top

If you're ever up in my neck of the woods, Potosi, WI has the National Brewery Museum - and their own brewery - which is a very cool place to visit, and eat (they have an excellent pub)!

Apr 13, 2012, 3:31pm Top

Let's do an LT brewery tour of the US!

Apr 13, 2012, 3:31pm Top

Nest year we can do Europe...and so forth...

Apr 13, 2012, 6:43pm Top

Take a look at the current issue of San Diego Magazine!

Here's the article, 50 plus breweries in the county!


Mission Brewery downtown is our favorite, but I think we need to start some systematic exploration.

Apr 16, 2012, 8:26am Top

Wow, I'm seriously behind after this weekend. We had good weather, so household work ruled the day! I need to add The Strain, a re-read to get ready for the sequels, and I'm close to done with Hellbent, sequel to Bloodshot.

Plus, I'm headed out the door for California. Two day meeting at Berkeley, but first catching the Phillies at the park formerly known as Candlestick tonight! With two all-day trips, I'm bringing two main books plus a backup. Plus stuff on my laptop. I may have overdone it... :)

Apr 16, 2012, 10:47am Top

The Ivy Lockwell trilogy looks intriguing. Not that I *need* another book in the queue but I'm adding it anyway.

Apr 16, 2012, 1:03pm Top

Gooooooooo Phils!!!

Apr 17, 2012, 7:47am Top

>122 mjs1228: : It does, doesn't it. I'll be looking out for The Magicians and Mrs Quent - once I've got through my current stack of library books, which I've already renewed to the max.

So sorry; I can't contribute to the beer discussion, not being a connoisseur.

Re names, if humouress is the feminine, would the masculine be humourless? humourer?

Apr 17, 2012, 8:34am Top


Apr 17, 2012, 10:08am Top

We had a great time at the ballpark last night. Candlestick (er, AT&T Park) is almost as awesome as Camden Yards! The same architects designed both, so there's a lot of similarity. But the view from the upper deck out to the bay is fantastic! I'll post a pic when I get a chance. Plus the Phillies shut down the Giants in the first inning and cruised to a win. Nobody hit one over the wall and into the bay, though. :)

I did manage to finish Mechanique, a steampunk-y fantasy tale of a circus that had a really unique flavor. And I'm halfway through In the Shadow of Gotham, a good murder mystery set in 1905 New York. It's got a lot of Caleb Carr's The Alienist in it - in a good way.

Apr 17, 2012, 11:59am Top

I love AT&T Park, although I haven't been there in several years. And,it's one of the most convenient ballparks to reach, by public transit (MUNI Metro, MUNI bus, Caltrain) or by foot from Union Square or SoMa. Did you try the Gilroy garlic fries?

I saw that Roy Halladay outdueled Tim Lincecum, who has struggled so far this season.

Have a great time in the Bay Area!

Apr 17, 2012, 12:27pm Top

>125 Crazymamie:: Yes, humoured makes sense.

Sorry - was I hijacking your thread?

Apr 17, 2012, 1:23pm Top

#128 - nah, I'm happy to have the conversation.

#127 - Didn't have the garlic fries, but they smelled absolutely wonderful! Had the giant kielbasa and some Shocktop beer and was stuffed. We're staying in Berkeley, so took the ferry over from Oakland - it docks right at the ballpark for the game. That's one feature I'd love to have at Camden Yards!

Apr 17, 2012, 3:27pm Top

Oh, garlic fries sound wonderful! I'm not a follower of sports at all, but I've always wanted to go to a baseball game, just for the whole experience of it.
I haven't been to Berkeley in a good while, but I do remember that there were some pretty fantastic bookstores there - hope you get a chance to browse while you're there!

Apr 17, 2012, 3:33pm Top

#126: I am jealous of you getting to go to the ballpark! I love going to baseball games, but these days, get to very very few. Glad to hear that you had a good time, Jim.

Apr 17, 2012, 4:49pm Top

#126 We watched Moneyball a few days ago but as we know absolutely zero about baseball I'm not sure we appreciated its finer points. Everyone enjoyed the film but we had to keep stopping every so often to have a discussion about what all the baseball terms meant and what exactly was happening.

I'd have always said that I know nothing about football (soccer that is) but after watching that film I've realised that I know quite a lot: who the teams are, how it's organised, names of players and managers etc. It's fairly impossible in the UK not to just absorb a lot of that knowledge without really trying and I suppose it's the same in the US with baseball. None of us had any of that background knowledge at all about baseball and it did make understanding the film difficult.

Apr 17, 2012, 4:54pm Top

Wow, I can imagine that would be difficult. On the other hand, you're probably well set up to go to a game should you ever visit us!

Apr 17, 2012, 5:36pm Top

132 SandDune - It really is amazing how much you can absorb without realizing it, isn't it? I know quite a bit about baseball, football, basketball, without actually caring about any of them, mostly because my family is full of sports fans (there are times when there is no way to avoid it, gah).

In the past few years, I've learned quite a bit about soccer, cycling, and various other less-popular (in the US) sports because my sister is a fan of all sports ever (it seems) and sometimes I just sit there holding the phone and let her talk at me, because it makes her happy.

Edited: Apr 19, 2012, 4:15am Top

Glad you had a good time at the ballpark, Jim! This year, the Phillies made their only appearance in Pittsburgh over the end of Holy Week/Easter Weekend. Not a good time for a pastor's family outing to the ball game!

Re: the beer discussion -- when in Gettysburg, we ate lunch at a brewpub/restaurant run by the Appalachian Brewing Company, which I believe is headquartered in Harrisburg, PA. Looks like an interesting collection of beers, though as driver, I didn't sample. But if their beer is as good as the White Birch Beer they brew, it should be worthwhile!

Apr 21, 2012, 10:14pm Top

Ok, so time for the update - I'm back from my trip and got quite a bit of reading done. Five hour plane rides will do that for you!

35. The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

Re-read of the first of The Strain trilogy to get ready for the rest. The story opens with a plane that lands at Kennedy airport with everyone dead. When the corpses of the victims come back from the dead, it becomes clear this isn't your normal plague. Instead, vampires have come to New York.

36. Mechanique by Genevieve Valentine

In a world of constant war, the Circus Tresaulti travels from city to city presenting a magical show of altered performers - the strong man is stronger, the acrobats are more limber, the trapeze artists are lighter - thanks to Boss' ability to control death and build fantastic machines. The most magical? A set of wings that allow the wearer to fly. They'll bring conflict from within the Circus, and from without.

This one leads to a natural comparison with The Night Circus. The stories are very different but there's a similar feel to the books - something magical in the prose. Mechanique is a bit non-linear in the telling. Instead, it's told as threads that add more and more depth to the characters as we go. It's very well done!

Highly recommended!

37. In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff

First in a series of mysteries set in 1905 New York featuring Detective Simon Ziele. Here a young woman - a PhD candidate in mathematics at Columbia University - is brutally murdered in a way very similar to the fantasies of a psychopath being studied by Alaster Snclair, a criminologist also at Columbia. Sinclair's new methods may be critical to finding the suspect, who's disappeared.

In the Shadow of Gotham is very Caleb Carr. But it's very well done, and I really enjoyed the characters, especially Ziele. There are two more to date, and I'm looking forward to them!

38. Hellbent by Cherie Priest

Sequel to Bloodshot, just as funny, just as brain candy. Think Stephanie Plum, only with fangs!

39. The Fall by Guillermo Del Torro and Chuck Hogan

Second of The Strain trilogy. We continue the story of the fight against the vampires. Good, but I don't want to say too much. :)

Apr 22, 2012, 8:43am Top

Mechanique sounds very interesting. And I have read so many good comments about The Night Circus that I may have to fall....

But, oh! No, my TBR piles are rushing to my defense. Maybe later.

Apr 22, 2012, 9:37am Top

That was a dangerous post, Jim! Luckily I already had The Strain in my TBR thanks to Chelle and the first of the Cherie Priest books thanks to you. However, now I must add Mechanique...and the Pintoff looks good...sigh...running off to put incredible strain on my WL.

*Pssst, Karen, I really LOVED The Night Circus, just saying...

Apr 22, 2012, 11:09am Top

As my mother, sainted lady, used to say, "get behind me, Satan!"

Apr 22, 2012, 11:46am Top


Apr 22, 2012, 4:37pm Top

Hi Jim- Just wanted to let you know I posted the May: Murder & Mayhem Thread on the 75s. I hope you can join us for a book or 2.
I read and liked The Strain but not sure I wanted to continue the trilogy. After reading the 2nd, is it worth it? Is it better edited?
I'm still dragging my feet on Boneshaker. Sad, I know.

Apr 22, 2012, 4:40pm Top

The editing on the second is about the same - the story's obviously written to be a movie. It's average, but I thought i'd knock out the trilogy this month. The completist in me shining through... :)

And yes, sad. :)

Apr 24, 2012, 12:43am Top

Dang! Three book bullets, and all I meant to do was pop over, see what you've been up to lately, and say "hi." Yours is a dangerous thread, Jim.

Apr 28, 2012, 9:40am Top

Hi Jim!

I haven't been on LT much lately, so I'm playing catch-up.

Your trip sounds great - any trip that includes a baseball game is a good one as far as I'm concerned.

I liked In the Shadow of Gotham very much, but I didn't enjoy the other two quite as much. Of course, I didn't particularly like the sequel to The Alienist much either! I'll be interested to hear what you think.

I've got Mechanique on request from the library because it's a Nebula Nominee. I wasn't quite sure what I was getting into, though, so I was glad to read your review. Thanks!

May 2, 2012, 12:26pm Top

40. The Night Eternal by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

Ugh. The trilogy just really took a turn for the worse for me in the last volume. My biggest problem is with the fake religious direction that Del Toro and Hogan took. What started as an interesting epidemiological spin on the vampire story spun out of control. What a shame.

41. Curse the Names by Robert Arellano

Frankly, this is an odd little book. It's not at all what I expected - a nuclear thriller with maybe some supernatural elements thrown in. Instead, Arellano tells the story of a meltdown, that while may or may not be nuclear, is certainly of the personal kind. James Oberhelm is a writer with a cushy, meaningless job at Los Alamos National Laboratory who, in a chance opportunity to cheat on his wife, stumbles across a very strange house back in the mountains. That encounter shakes him out of his routine of heavy drinking and recreational drug use to a state of complete loss. Everything about his life falls apart. And there may be a disaster looming at the laboratory...

I was hoping for a better book. The initial idea is a good one, and the ending certainly leaves us with that sense of unreality that I expected. But I just couldn't bring myself to care about Oberhelm and his problems. He's an unlikeable person - which is fine if the story shows some humanity about the character - that never gets beyond the jerk stage. Unfortunately, I can only unenthusiastically recommend this one.

May 2, 2012, 12:33pm Top

Summary for the year to date:

Books by male authors read: 35 (74%)
Books by female authors read: 12 (26%)

Books by dead authors: 1 (2%)
Book by living authors: 44 (98%)

Publication Years
2012 - 7 (16%)
2011 - 17 (40%)
2010 - 8 (19%)
2009 - 2 (5%)
2008 - 1 (3%)
2007 - 2 (5%)
2006 - 1 (3%)
2004 - 1 (3%)
2003 - 1 (3%)
1989 - 1 (3%)

Hardcover: 22 (54%)
Paper: 17 (41%)
Ebook: 2 (5%)

ARC: 6 (15%)

Public Library: 33 (80%)
My Library: 8 (20%)

May 2, 2012, 12:49pm Top

Jim - So kind of you to take two for the team! May your next reading experience knock your socks off. And ...um...you need to work on your dead author stats - perhaps if you read something published before 1989?!

May 2, 2012, 12:50pm Top

Jim... where are you these days in the Presidential reading? I just received Robert Caro's new book about LBJ and I am so excited to read it! I'd be delighted if you found the space in your busy reading to read one of Caro's books. I'd be interested in your take on his methods and style.

The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power is the fourth of his books on LBJ and covers the period of time from his losing the nomination to JFK in 1960 through the weeks after he became President on November 22, 1963.

Edited: May 2, 2012, 6:39pm Top

Mamie - no problem, I'm about a third of the way through David Copperfield. I tend to pick books from the New Books section of the library! :)

Maggie - I just put a book on Herbert Hoover on reserve at the library. The Caro books will definitely be on my list when I get to LBJ!

Oh, and I'm partway through Flat Spin, yet another ER book I need to finish. Fortunately, I'm really enjoying this one - a murder mystery with ties to the intelligence world. Thank goodness for business trips where I get a chance to read for long stretches! :)

May 2, 2012, 7:14pm Top

Jim- I mentioned to you before that I had read the strain and thought it was okay. I don't think I'll be reading the other two.
I prefer Del Toro's films.

May 2, 2012, 7:16pm Top

Good choice. :)

May 2, 2012, 7:25pm Top

Oh man, I have The Strain on my WL - no?

May 2, 2012, 7:31pm Top

*waving* at Jim

May 2, 2012, 7:32pm Top

waves at stasia

May 2, 2012, 9:46pm Top

Jim, which Hoover book did you choose? I feel I should read at least one, now that I live in his hometown. :)

May 2, 2012, 10:51pm Top

*waving, too*

May 2, 2012, 11:29pm Top

Mamie - I'd put the Strain trilogy on the back burner.

Rosalita - Herbert Hoover, one of thevAmerican Presidents series. I've generally had good luck with them so far.

*waves back*

May 4, 2012, 8:38am Top

42. Flat Spin by David Freed

Cordell Logan is a down-on-his-heels flight instructor in a wealthy town in Southern California. He's also an ex-operative for a super secret antiterrorist military group. And now his ex-wife, who left him for the leader of his group, needs him to help the police find her husband's murderer. Which brings unwanted attention in the form of someone now trying to kill Cordell.

David Freed's opener for what's intended to be a series is a pretty darn good read. I liked the pacing and the prose, and I liked the characters - especially that they are fully fleshed out people, not characatures. And Logan's half-hearted attempts at Buddhism add just the right touch of humor to the story.

Highly recommended, especially for Jack Reacher fans.

May 4, 2012, 11:45pm Top

Jim , that's a wonderful idea, to start a support group for those us who shhhh - are not keen on the Three Pines series by Louise Penny. May I suggest that we start a second one, for those of us ( me, anyway) who do not care for Margaret Atwood's writing. Oh it's a difficult life, isn't it! ;)

Glad you enjoyed Flat Spin.

May 5, 2012, 12:28am Top

I'll be in your support group for those who don't care for the Three Pines series, though I don't really feel the need to defend myself. It's just not my cuppa. Atwood, on the other hand ~ some I've enjoyed and some I haven't been inclined to finish.

Flat Spin sounds really good. I'll have to put it on my loooong list of TBRs.

May 5, 2012, 9:30am Top

Yeah, I'm not an Atwood fan either. I'd join that group. :)

Though in all fairness, this group has led mr to some things I wouldn't otherwise have read that I liked very much. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society being the most prominent example.

May 5, 2012, 9:34am Top

Oh, I liked that one, too, Jim!

May 5, 2012, 9:35am Top

Morning Jim! I added a Short Story Challenge to the 75, (Like we need another freakin' thread, right?), so if you can add it to the wiki page, that would be great.
Have a good weekend.

May 5, 2012, 9:41am Top

I'll join the Three Pines group, but I'm afraid I'm not eligible for the Atwood group; some of her work I like very much!

May 10, 2012, 5:19pm Top

43. Herbert Hoover by William E. Leuchtenburg

Herbert Hoover is consistently ranked very low with the likes of James Buchanan on the list of US Presidents. After all, he began office in good economic times. And just a few months later, the country fell hard into the Great Depression. Now, that in itself didn't give him such a bad reputation, but his response to the economic times certainly did. And yet this is the man who made millions in the mining business prior to World War I and organized the feeding of millions of refugees afterward in Europe - mostly on contributions from big donors and governments like the US. So how did that successful man fail so miserably? Leuchtenburg's contribution to The American Presidents series tries to give some insight.

Hoover was the classic Horatio Alger success story. After a miserable childhood, he worked his way into the mining industry as an engineer who specialized in operations efficiency. By the time he was forty, he was partner in a major mining firm and had made millions. As luck would have it, he was in London when Germany invaded Belgium, and pretty much singlehandedly got the combatants to agree to allow food relief shipments into Belgium and organized the effort. This gave him a world-wide reputation and translated into stints in the Wilson, Harding and Coolidge cabinets in areas such as Commerce Secretary. And in 1928, he cruised easily into the Republican nomination and the Presidency.

He wasn't an easy man, by any stretch of the imagination. He was driven and any sense of humor he had was deeply buried. He was hard on everyone around him, but was right an awful lot, so people put up with it. He was the classic small government politician, with the idea that local benevolence should be used to solve pretty much every social problem. And that's what got him into trouble when the Depression hit. His response was to encourage backs and businesses to deal with the crises through their own largess - a solution that was clearly inadequate and had no hope of working. So when Roosevelt challenged him by offering up the New Deal, it was no contest - ushering in one of the most significant Presidencies in US history.

Is it fair for Hoover to get the blame for the Great Depression? Well, in some sense no. The economic problems in the US were deeply structural and there's little that anyone could have done to stop it. After all, in spite of FDR's big changes, no real economic progress was made until the start of World War II. Having said that, early action might have made a difference, and certainly Hoover didn't act.

So how's the book? Pretty good - one of the better in a series that's generally pretty good anyway.As with all of them, this volume is slim, but well organized and well written. Leuchtenburg is about as fair with the subject as he could be given the history. Recommended!

Edited: May 10, 2012, 5:20pm Top

Duplicate post - haven't seen that in a bit.

May 10, 2012, 7:00pm Top

Jim, that review was so good, LT wanted to post it twice! :)

May 11, 2012, 8:21am Top

And good enough, too, for me to want to add it to my wish list. Nice job. History is not always "fair" is it? I wonder when Americans began to imagine their Presidents were powerful enough to solve some of these more gargantuan problems? Like Hoover could have prevented the Great Depression? Or like FDR actually ended it (which we know he did not).

May 11, 2012, 8:47am Top

What's really interesting to me as I read about the slide into the Great Depression - and really, all of the Presidential bios I've been reading - is how much things stay the same. As I listen to news reports and read opinions, I'm hearing the same words today that were said back then. In a way, it's almost funny! The criticism of banks ad big business, the blaming of the President, the arguments about whether to stimulate the economy or work for austerity. After all this time, we still don't know very much!

May 11, 2012, 8:50am Top

And I wonder, too, if along with not knowing what to do there isn't the problem of "Man" just not being able to really change the course of humanity's movements. Ebb and flow seems to be in the nature of life.

May 14, 2012, 7:23am Top

I've always enjoyed that about reading history too - nothing changes, it seems, ultimately. If you read up on the Roman Republic, you'll see some eery similarities to our present situation, too. Sigh.

May 14, 2012, 7:37am Top

I read The Strain back when it first came out and remember thinking it was interesting (with a few biological inconsistencies). I felt the characters didn't necessarily act like I would imagine people in that situation to act--perhaps that was just because it was written as if it were a film! I've been wavering about whether to finish the series now that they're all out, but it looks like I might pass!

May 14, 2012, 8:12am Top

On The Strain, I think you're right. The problem is that they wrote it as if it were a movie or three, not as a book. Makes all the difference in the world.

May 15, 2012, 1:48pm Top

44. Dillinger's Wild Ride by Elliott J. Gorn

Between mid-1933 and mid-1934, John DIllinger robbed banks across the midwest US, and in the process becoming the FBI's first Public Enemy Number One. As an Indiana farm boy, he and a friend assaulted an elderly store owner in a robbery and got sent to prison for 9 years - what turned out to be most of his adult life. His family maintained that he was generally a good kid that got a bum rap and who got turned into a hard-core criminal in prison; his actions in and out of prison suggest otherwise. While we don't really know how he got there, by the time he was released, Dillinger was hooked into the underground economy and formed a highly successful bank robbery gang. Given the times, this made him a hero for some, a villain for others. Dillinger's Wild Ride is Elliott Gorn's recounting of his short life after prison and how his legend grew.

Gorn's account is rather short, but given he's only covering a year, that's not unexpected. His writing is crisp, and he tells the story well. I especially appreciated his linking of the Depression-era economic situation with both Dillenger's story and with the various reactions to him by the authorities, the media and the average citizen. It offered a new perspective on something I'd hought a bit about before.

Recommended, but for a more in depth look at Dillinger and other contemporary outlaws like Bonnie and Clyde or Machine Gun Kelly, see Public Enemies by Bryan Burroughs.

May 15, 2012, 2:31pm Top

I find the connections between the Depression, Banks, Big Business, and the criminals who were famous to be intriguing. I need to find time to read more about it.

The Occupy Movement seems to have some similar ideological underpinnings... what do you think?

May 16, 2012, 9:17am Top

The Roaring Twenties looked an awful lot like the 90s and 00s, and the crashes of '29 and '08 looked a lot alike. Many of the problems we have now are the problems they were dealing with - high personal and corporate debt load, failing real estate value leading to high foreclosure rates, lack of money in the system to keep the economy moving, high unemployment. There wasn't much of a middle class back then, so the conflict was, I think, even more us vs them. The common person didn't seem to worry too much about Dillinger or others taking from banks. It was widely believed that the banks didn't mind such things since losses were covered by insurance, and in some cases banks were accused of faking or engineering robberies to cover losses and to get access to cash from insurance companies.

I wouldn't read too much social protest into Dillinger's motivations. Mostly he was a farm boy who didn't want to stay on the farm, but had no realistic way out. It's not at all clear that if a decent regular job had been available he's have taken it. He liked high living and found something he was good at. In spite of some unverified stories, he wasn't a Robin Hood figure. There's no indication that he gave away money. He wasn't a complete villain either. At least in the beginning, he took pains to contain violence and keep focused on the job at hand. It's only when he was confronted by the FBI or by police that he got violent (ie, when breaking our of jail). Others didn't have that distinction.

Dillinger and company look more to me like the Old West - highly independent, macho culture characterized by people trying to get ahead in an era when it looked like only a privileged few could. The Occupy movement looks more like, at least to me, the labor movement during the Gilded Age, with tactics from the Civil Rights movement. There's lots of overlap, though. And I think in each case, the conditions that bring about the various responses are eerily similar.

I think there's be a pretty good book in a comparison of responses to times of boom followed by bust where the wealth distribution gets wide like it is now. If I didn't have a day job, I'd start working on it! :)

May 17, 2012, 7:07pm Top

I think you are right there could be some interesting stuff in parallels. I think the US of A experience has a lot of meaty "class warfare" which is overlooked and disregarded in American History classes. Another theme which I encountered when In college was that the Westward Expansion experience sets Americans up for a "my kid can do better than I" dream. We imagine there is always the opportunity to "re-invent". Or sometimes it is "move on, and start over".

I think the young people of today are confronting the end of those opportunities, and are imagining that being an entrepreneur somehow might fill the bill.

Interesting stuff.

May 17, 2012, 10:36pm Top

Interesting indeed!

45. Red, White and Blood by Christopher Farnsworth

Third in Farnsworth's President's Vampire series. This one's not quite as tongue in cheek as the previous, but still very good. As with the previous, Nathaniel Cade must save the President from the Boogeyman, the unstoppable essence of urban legends. Trust me. It's good. :)

May 20, 2012, 8:10pm Top

46. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Finally finished up the group read! I'd forgotten how good Dickens was at description and characterization. Quite an enjoyable re-read.

May 20, 2012, 10:21pm Top

Hi Jim- Congrats on finishing DC! Thanks for reminding me; I've had Blood Oath sitting on my "Must Read Now" shelf, for nearly 2 years. Ridiculous.

May 21, 2012, 8:03am Top

I refused to read any Dickens after being tortured with Great Expectations in 6th grade. A couple of years ago, I tentatively tried David Copperfield and was surprised by how much I liked it.

May 21, 2012, 8:10am Top

I don't get why a school would make a 6th grader read Great Expectations. It's not that the kids can't get it at that age. I just can't imagine that they'd have the life experience to appreciate Dickens yet.

Edited: May 21, 2012, 8:33am Top

I imagine the excuse was that it was a gifted class. They drew it out over several months so we were analyzing each chapter to death.

May 21, 2012, 8:40am Top

Oh dear God. It's no wonder kids don't like to read.

May 21, 2012, 9:03am Top

I think many times teachers teach what they were taught and so the curriculum is several generations out of date.

May 21, 2012, 9:24am Top

Well, this is also the class that I read science fiction for the first time (Childhood's End), so it wasn't ALL bad.

May 21, 2012, 9:31am Top

Oo, good one, Morphy. Childhood's End is a keeper.

May 21, 2012, 9:38am Top


May 21, 2012, 3:31pm Top

#181, 182 I was given David Copperfield to read by my class teacher when I was 7 in an attempt to slow down my progress through the reading scheme books. Even worse, on the other side of the country at about the same time, my husband's parents were asked to stop him reading so much at home because he was getting too far ahead. His father was a primary school headmaster and was absolutely furious.

May 21, 2012, 3:38pm Top

I was given David Copperfield to read in 6th grade, which I think ruined it for me.

May 21, 2012, 7:44pm Top

I had to read Great Expectations in 7th grade, and, although I didn't mind it so much, I understand why kids get turned off of reading Dickens because of that sort of thing. I suspect that he gets assigned at that level because he's considered canonical British Lit., but those readers are too young and in general inexperienced at reading to be able to appreciate what an accomplished writer he was. We run into the same problem in Classics - kids in high school Latin courses are forced to (try) to read Cicero, because, again, he's seminal in the field (Cicero's Latin is the definition of good classical Latin), but they are nowhere near ready to read him - he's just too difficult for that level of experience. So, they end up hating him. Poor man; he's brilliant and so many can't stand him for no good reason.

May 21, 2012, 7:50pm Top

I know SO many well-read people of my generation who have only read 1 Dickens book (whichever one they were forced to read in school) and claim that NOBODY reads Dickens for fun. It's too bad that being forced to read such a fantastic author when he's above a student's reading level makes the student dislike Dickens eternally. I admit, I didn't read my second Dickens book until I was over 30...I was shocked at how great his books were. I've been trying to get through them ever since (but that's only 2 years and his books are long, so I haven't gotten very far!)

May 21, 2012, 8:15pm Top

Well, it didn't turn me off Dickens (I love Tale of Two Cities and A Christmas Carol), but it did put a sour taste in my mouth for that particular Dickens. I am trying to reread it now after avoiding trying it again all these years, and I am either just not in the right mood or frame of mind for it, or I am permanently biased.

May 21, 2012, 11:07pm Top

I picked up the habit of reading A Christmas Carol every year at the holidays. It strikes me that it would be the perfect way to expose younger readers to Dickens. It's short, has a familiar plot, but has all the great characters and language that keeps us reading Dickens.

I can't conceive of why anybody would go to those sorts of measures to slow down a reader. That would be like handing a kid a calculus problem because he or she is quick to pick up algebra. Huh?!

May 22, 2012, 6:25am Top

That's a really good analogy, Jim. We read A Christmas Carol every year together as a family, and I thought that when my kids got older they would eventually lose interest, but they are teenagers now and still look forward to that particular tradition. It's really fun now because they can quote a lot of the passages from memory.

May 22, 2012, 7:21am Top

I picked up the habit of reading A Christmas Carol every year at the holidays. It strikes me that it would be the perfect way to expose younger readers to Dickens

A Christmas Carol was my first Dickens. In 7th grade, I even talked my teacher into letting me stage a class play (awful performance) of it. I loved it then and I love it now.

May 22, 2012, 7:39am Top

We did a mini version of A Christmas Carol as part of our Sunday School Christmas program one year. I couldn't have been more than 10 or 11, but I played Mrs. Cratchit. I have the feeling now that I already knew the story then...but I can't be 100% sure of that. I have a very old copy of the book that was given to me as a gift, with my name written in extremely childish script. I just cannot recall not loving Dickens. I know we read A Tale of Two Cities in junior high (7th or 8th grade), and Great Expectations sometime in high school. I have very mixed feelings about "forcing" kids into the classics. It can be done without turning them off, but it's a rare trick, and I do fear there is more harm than good done in many cases.

May 22, 2012, 8:05am Top

Well, this may not be welcomed, but I can say why a teacher might try to slow a reader down a bit. Many times a youngster who is speeding past their peers in accomplishing something becomes a bit of a braggart and a disruptor. A teacher might be trying to build some tension and anticipation in discussing a book's plot and the speeder will volunteer the solution to the tension just to show how brilliant he/she is, and wreck the experience for all the other kids.

More often, the speedy kid will exclaim loudly and disruptively how boring it is to wait for others to catch up with where they are in the book/story etc. Kids who are just becoming aware of their abilities often do not have much tolerance for others who's abilities might differ. I've seen many "smart" kids be unbearably mean to those who are not so smart in that particular area.

One last thought: sometimes the lesson is intended to be about being part of a group. I imagine I am not alone as a member of a reading group who has to squelch my own comments, and tendency to talk on and on, in order to allow other members of the group have some chance to express themselves.

May 22, 2012, 8:47am Top

Yeah, I can see that there may be behavioral issues or maturity problems where kids need to be reined in. I do wonder though, whether there are alternate solutions. Though I suppose that leads us down the path of segregating students into ability-based groups, which has its own set of problems.

Edited: May 22, 2012, 9:16am Top

>198 maggie1944: Isn't it possible for the teacher to develop such a situation into a learning experience for the child? How is the child supposed to learn the "dos" and "do nots" of book discussion ettiqutte if they are simply held back? Such children could possibly be encouraged to help the teacher prolong suspense or discuss the book with children who have lower reading comprehension. Such activites are educational to the bright children and also engages them in the activity so that they don't get bored.

ETA: I realize that this is harder than I make it sound, but with effort I think teachers can achieve these goals. It's very sad that teachers aren't paid enough money...I don't know if that's the reason, but my own experience is that SOME teachers don't put in as much effort as they can, they don't listen to the children and try to work with them as individuals. At least, that's how I generally felt when I was in school.

May 22, 2012, 10:38am Top

Yes, you are both right. Situation is frequently more complicated than can be caught in a discussion such as this, and yes, there are teachers who do not, can not, haven't got the energy to create individual solutions for every kid who presents a "out of the box" behavior.

One issue that I ran into often was that the parents of students who did have above average intelligence did not want their youngster turned into a co-teacher, or tutor for the youngsters with less ability. Sigh. For every potential solution, potential problems may be uncovered.

I guess what I wish is that when parents have an issue with what a teacher is asking for their youngster that they go in and talk with the teacher to ask "why" and "how can we help" rather than automatically criticizing the teacher, assuming that the teacher's motivation is to squelch their kid, and make life easier for his or herself. I never met a teacher who wanted to make kids' lives less rich, less interesting.

OK. Enough defensive conversation out of me. Back to books! Dr Newt, I always enjoy reading your threads.

May 22, 2012, 11:20am Top

>201 maggie1944: I didn't mean to attack teachers...I'm just bitter about getting a question wrong on a test in the 5th grade. It was a trick question, and the teacher wouldn't even listen to my explanation! I'm sure that missed mark is the exact reason I wasn't accepted into medical school! (or maybe that was because I didn't apply...hmmm...)

May 22, 2012, 12:14pm Top

#189,198 I can see your point about a very bright child being disruptive. They seem to have that situation in my son's maths class at the moment where one boy is completely off the scale in terms of the other children's ability, and from what my son says is clearly driving the teacher round the bend.

With my experience it was more a case of the school not having enough books. It was a brand new school - I attended in its first year of opening and I remember each class had a small bookcase full of books but there was no library, so once you'd got through the bookcase that was it and I was a quick reader. I was one of those quiet children who wouldn't say boo to a goose so I'm very doubtful that I was being disruptive.

Actually, all this conversation about children reading in schools has made me think about how I was taught. Until I started doing English Literature age 14 I don't remember any novels being involved in the teaching of English at all. English was very much focused on writing essays, comprehension (not with real books), spelling and grammar exercises. We were read books from time to time, but it was very much a Friday afternoon treat sort of thing, not connected with any lesson work and certainly no discussion about the book being read. I should add that this was all a long, long time ago in the 1960's and early 1970's - very different from now hopefully.

May 22, 2012, 12:48pm Top

I never met a teacher who wanted to make kids' lives less rich, less interesting.
I think we can all agree with that!

47. A Pirate of Exquisite Mind by Diana Preston and Michael Preston

William Dampier was the son of a tenant farmer in rural England, born in the mid-17th century. But he wasn't satisfied with a farm life, and made his way to the sea in his teens. Before he was done, he had traveled around the world three times, tried to make his fortune as a buccaneer, been one of the first Englishmen to visit Australia, write several best-selling books on weather and hydrology, nature and biology (even anticipating some of Darwin's work) and travel, and take honors for his work from the Royal Society. He brought words like "barbeque" into the English language as he wrote about the people he met and societies he came across.

The Prestons have put together a pretty good biography of a really interesting character. For example, he got married, bought a house, and almost immediately left home for what turned into a twelve year voyage. He even inspired folks like Jonathan Swift and Daniel Defoe in their writing. The book holds up well to such a character - the story moves along trying to give us a picture of the man behind the adventure. I'm a fan of just this kind of exploration story, and can recommend A Pirate of Exquisite Mind as a good example.

May 22, 2012, 2:05pm Top

48. Ganymede by Cherie Priest

Forgot to add this - read earlier this month. Another sequel to Boneshaker, it's a great read, at least for me.

May 22, 2012, 3:13pm Top

49. Trail of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz

Another I forgot! I'm glad I decided to do a little wishlist maintenance today!

May 31, 2012, 5:10pm Top

50. Chew: Volume 5 Major League Chew by John Layman

Latest in the graphic novel series about an FDA agent that gets information psychically from the things he eats. I wasn't as impressed with the story in this volume as I was with previous ones, but still a fun graphic novel. Fair warning - the ick factor is pretty high given that eating things figures significantly. Not everything he has to eat falls in the "food" category!

Jun 5, 2012, 11:47am Top

>207 drneutron: Ew.

Happy birthday, fellow oldster!!

Jun 5, 2012, 2:16pm Top

Thanks! Somebody today told me congrats for living half my life. I'm ok with making it to 100. :)

Jun 5, 2012, 3:04pm Top

Happy Birthday, Jim!!

Jun 5, 2012, 3:07pm Top

Felicem Diem Natalem!! Hope it's the best one yet!

Jun 5, 2012, 3:08pm Top

Happy Birthday!!

Jun 5, 2012, 3:19pm Top

Happy birthday, Dr. Neutron! And I hope there will be many more to come.

Jun 5, 2012, 3:25pm Top

Happy birthday to our group dad!

Jun 5, 2012, 4:01pm Top

Thanks, everyone!

Edited: Jun 5, 2012, 4:04pm Top

Happy Birthday, Jim! I've been thinking of you every time I hear the authors of The Presidents Club interviewed the last couple of weeks, mostly on PBS, like here: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/white_house/jan-june12/prezclub_05-31.html


Have you seen it?

Jun 5, 2012, 4:43pm Top

Happy Birthday, kid.

Jun 5, 2012, 7:49pm Top

Thanks for the tip on The Presidents Club. Onto the wishlist it goes...

Thanks for the birthday wishes!

By the way, the son turned me on to Words With Friends. If anybody wants a game, look for DrNeutron...

Jun 5, 2012, 7:53pm Top

Happy birthday Jim!! I'll buy you a birthday cookie at Eastern Market on Saturday :-)

Jun 5, 2012, 8:03pm Top

Oh, heck yeah! :)

Jun 5, 2012, 9:57pm Top

Happy birthday!

Jun 5, 2012, 11:51pm Top

Oh, I checked your thread just in time to say . . .

Happy Birthday, Jim! :)

Edited: Jun 6, 2012, 10:19am Top

#218 OMG...another person lying in wait to slay me in WWF.

Jun 6, 2012, 9:04am Top

Hope you had a happy birthday!

>223 laytonwoman3rd: Haha...I lose all the time too. Glad to know it's not just me. :)

Jun 6, 2012, 8:09pm Top

Happy belated Jim - thanks again for administering this wonderful group - you are a gent sir!

Jun 8, 2012, 11:47pm Top

Belated happy birthday, Jim. Hope your day was a good one and the year ahead will be stellar!

Jun 9, 2012, 4:49am Top

Belated birthday greetings, Jim!

Jun 10, 2012, 7:20pm Top

Thanks for the birthday wishes! I had great time at the meetup yesterday connecting with old friends (no, Nora, you're not old!) and making some new ones. In the meantime...

51. I Don't Want To Kill You by Dan Wells

Third in Dan Wells' excellent series starring sociopath John Cleaver. I won't say much so I don't spoil 'em, but if you like out-of-the-box heros and a bit of scary and gore, you should try these. Fortunately, Weels left an opening for another sequel at the end!

Jun 10, 2012, 7:52pm Top

I'm always the youngest one at all the meetups :-(

Jun 10, 2012, 7:55pm Top

#229 - Hmmmmmmmm... wait a few years for me to attain adult status and money to travel. Then I'll become the youngest person there! :D

Edited: Jun 10, 2012, 10:53pm Top

> 229

Nora, it could have been worse. You could've been the oldest!

(Oh, dear!) :D

Jun 12, 2012, 11:16pm Top

52. How to Build an Android By David F. Dufty

How do you know your best friend is human instead of a really good android replica? For that matter, how do you know you're human? How do you know what's a real memory and what's false? What if God is a vast artificial intelligence that evolved from the creation of some alien race? Philip K. Dick wrote prolifically on these ideas - best known outside the sf community for movie adaptations like Blade Runner or Total Recall.

In 2005, a small group of eclectic researchers in diverse fields like simulation of human emotion, artificial intelligence and robotics developed an android replica of PKD capable of conversing with a person using PKD's words from the huge library of writings, interviews and talks left after his death. The result - when it worked - was an eerily lifelike copy, oddly mirroring some of PKD's more interesting stories. And in a fitting ending, the android head was lost on an airplane after making a media splash, never to be seen again!

Dufty's How To Build an Android is a fascinating non-technical retelling of how Phil was designed, built and demonstrated, through the fateful airplane ride on the way to a presentation at Google. It's a pretty good narrative, and Dufty had the benefit of being on the periphery of the story, so there's an insider feel to his work. The most interesting parts are those times where he gives transcripts of Phil's conversations - especially the "monologues" where his language processor goes haywire. These are remarkably like the ramblings of PKD later in life after years of drugs and paranoia affected his thinking.

Recommended. It's an interesting story well told.

Jun 13, 2012, 9:13am Top

That sounds like a book I would never have picked up to read on my own, but... it sounds absolutely fascinating.

Would it be hard for me to follow if the only PKD book I've read is VALIS?

Jun 13, 2012, 9:28am Top

Oh my goodness that sounds amazing!

Jun 14, 2012, 12:48pm Top

It shouldn't be hard to follow at all. Dufty's writing is quite complete. He even summarizes plots of the relevant PKD books, and there's no need for technical expertise in the engineering aspects of the project.

Jun 14, 2012, 3:57pm Top

53. The Unburied by Charles Palliser

The first of my recent acquisitions from the DC meetup. Read through on a coast-to-coast flight.

In 188?, a Cambridge historian accepts an invitation from an estranged friend of undergraduate days to visit a small cathedral town. His goal is to poke around in the cathedral library with the hope of finding manuscripts supporting his theories on Alfred the Great. But while there he falls into a 200 year old murder mystery related to political factions in the cathedral leadership - with a nice dose of corruption and revenge involved - only to be involved in a contemporary murder of a banker during his stay.

Palliser wrote The Quincunx, a sprawling novel of Victorian England that's very Dickensian. This one's more Wilkie Collins - ghosts, murders, plots and counterplots. The writing's great, the story's well done. If you're a fan of Victorian historicals, this one's for you.

Edited: Jun 14, 2012, 5:19pm Top

I'm a bit late to the debate, but looking back, it seems to me the best teachers were those who taught each child as an individual, on terms set by the child.

I must also confess to being one of those heathens who has never read any Dickens, but I've been meaning to do something about it for a while now - where should I start? I liked the Cuarón film version of Great Expectations, so I thought I might give that a go...

Jun 14, 2012, 5:27pm Top

The Unburied sounds like it might be my cup of tea, Jim!

Jun 14, 2012, 6:35pm Top

feca67 - just want to respond to your comment about teachers by saying I don't know how that can be done when a person has 150 adolescents every day, for less than an hour for each group of 30+; and, most adolescents are not quite sure what "terms" they want, any way. And oh, yes, the curriculum is handed to the teacher with the clear directive that it is to be taught, without much variation allowed. You know: no child left behind testing brings money or no money with it.

Jun 18, 2012, 6:02pm Top

Come visit me in the new digs...

This topic was continued by drneutron's Attempt at 75 - Summer's Here!.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2012

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