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Donna Reads in the Merry Month of May (6)

This is a continuation of the topic Donna828's April Showers of Books (5).

This topic was continued by Donna Juggles June Books (7).

75 Books Challenge for 2012

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1Donna828
Apr 30, 2012, 11:04pm Top



"The world's favorite season is the spring.
All things seem possible in May."
- Edwin Way Teale

2Donna828
Edited: May 31, 2012, 11:17pm Top







Books Read in April:

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. 4 stars.
An orphaned 12-year-old boy living by his wits in a Paris train station comes to life in words and pictures.

The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis. 4.5 stars.
A satirical correspondence between demons gives the reader a look at temptation from the "other" side. Know your enemy!

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett. 3.5 stars.
Sam Spade plays hardball with cops and criminals using both his fists and pitiless words as they all lust for the same treasure in 1920s San Francisco.

Iron and Silk by Mark Salzman. 3.8 stars.
Sketches of everyday Chinese life through the eyes of a young American teacher as he absorbs a new culture while honing his martial arts skills.

Woe to Live On by Daniel Woodrell. 4.4 stars.
A young man coming of age in a vicious civil war learns about love and trust the hard way.

The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis. 4.8 stars.
Lewis gives us his version of heaven and hell. An excellent antidote to The Screwtape Letters.

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Armin. 3.5 stars.
Lotty lives out her dream vacation in Italy with 3 strangers and unanticipated results.

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. 4.3 stars.
Drugs, tennis, political conspiracy, more drugs, film making, dysfunctional families, drug rehab...infinite misery presented with infinite intelligence and wit.

Gillespie and I by Jane Harris. 4.2 stars.
Will the real Harriet Baxter please stand up and tell us the truth about what happened in Glasgow in 1888?

Books Read In May:

38. That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis. 3.9 stars.
Merlin (of King Arthur fame) and Dr. Ransom (with a little help from the gods Mercury, Mars, and Saturn) join forces to thwart the team of scientists trying to abolish humanity as we know it. Yup, this is a mashup of science fiction, fantasy, and theology!

39. Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen. 4.5 stars. ER book.
Quindlen at her best! She ruminates about aging and life experiences, sharing memorable bits of wisdom to celebrate.

40. Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis. 4.6 stars.
This reread of Lewis's most-praised fiction work reminded me to be more real and show my "true face" in daily life.

41. A Fountain Filled With Blood by Julia Spencer-Fleming. 3.4 stars.
Another page-turner featuring the unusual pairing of crime-fighters Clare and Russ. This time they encounter hate crimes and environmental issues in Millers Kill, NY.

42. Gourmet Rhapsody by Muriel Barbery. 3.7 stars.
A world-renowned food critic is dying in Paris, and his thoughts turn to...well, food. Delicious writing!

43. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. 4.2 stars.
Storytelling meets political oppression in 1960s Czechoslovakia told by a philosophical narrator. Something for everyone!

44. Heartstone by C. J. Sansom. 3.8 stars.
Yet again, Matthew Shardlake upholds the common man (and woman) so that they receive their legal rights in a time in England's history when justice was hard to come by.

45. The White Mary by Kira Salak. 4 stars.
Mosquitos, near starvation, and severe malaria accompany Marika as she searches the jungles of Papua New Guinea in search of a fellow journalist.

46. Angel by Elizabeth Taylor. 3.75 stars.
The despicable Angelica is hard to like, but Elizabeth Taylor's angelic writing puts me firmly in her fan club.

47. Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding. 4.3 stars.
This shortlisted Orange Book told a powerful story about WWII in Romania through the drawings of a deaf/mute witness to the atrocities.

48. Clabbered Dirt, Sweet Grass by Gary Paulsen. 3.6 stars.
A gifted writer remembers his early years on the farm.

49. The Secret Magdalene by Ki Longfellow. 2.5 stars.
This alternate history of the passion of Christ told through the eyes of Mary Magdalene was a disappointment to me.

May recap:
3,852 pages read.
12 Books read.
9 books owned by me: 8 "real" books, 1 e-book; 3 library books.

3Donna828
Edited: Apr 30, 2012, 11:19pm Top



I spent almost four months reading the 1,079 Pages of Infinite Jest
which included 388 endnotes... and all I get is this lousy virtual t-shirt?

4brenzi
Edited: Apr 30, 2012, 11:22pm Top

What? Am I first?

Yay! another Jane Harris fan. Do try The Observations Donna! Not at all like G and I but very good anyway.

Love your new thread and especially your new t shirt.

5coppers
Apr 30, 2012, 11:25pm Top

6Donna828
Edited: Apr 30, 2012, 11:29pm Top

>4 brenzi:: Bonnie, you're No. 1! Don't let it go to your head. ;-) I will be reading The Observations sooner rather than later... and then we can both wait for her next book to be released.

I'm glad you like my shirt. One size does fit all in this case. And I don't have to worry about washing it either.

>5 coppers:: Hi Joanne, you tried to sneak in but I heard you laughing!

7ErisofDiscord
Apr 30, 2012, 11:42pm Top

Hello Donna! I'm third in line for your thread, but one day, one magnificent day, I will be first. ^_^ Congrats on the sixth thread!

8ronincats
Apr 30, 2012, 11:48pm Top

That shirt is a badge of honor! (quietly LOL)

9EBT1002
Apr 30, 2012, 11:53pm Top

>3 Donna828: LOL!!! Found your new thread. xo

10lit_chick
May 1, 2012, 12:17am Top

Here! Love the Maypole dancing!

11Deern
May 1, 2012, 5:32am Top

Happy new thread and Happy May, Donna!
I love that T-Shirt, no-one here would have the faintest idea what it means. :)
Hm.. German version would start with 'US', Unendlicher Spaß is the German title and everyone would think it's a United States fan shirt.

12PaulCranswick
May 1, 2012, 6:04am Top

Donna congrats on your latest thread - love the maypole!

13scaifea
May 1, 2012, 7:37am Top

I have Infinite Jest waiting for me on my shelves but just haven't gotten round to it. I had the absolute pleasure of meeting David Foster Wallace, when he gave the commencement speech at Kenyon while I was on faculty there. Amazingly sweet, friendly and funny man. And his speech was The Best commencement speech I've ever heard (and I've heard *tons* of them). I believe, in fact, that it was published later, if you're interested (although under what title I don't remember). I promise that it would be much more of a delight than a slog to read. :)

14lauralkeet
May 1, 2012, 7:40am Top

Oh yes that speech is legendary. We found it via Google back when Kate was in process of deciding to go to Kenyon. I think it may also be in one of his essay collections. You are so lucky to have been there Amber!

15scaifea
May 1, 2012, 7:51am Top

Don't I know it, Laura. And, since faculty sit on the stage at Kenyon graduations, I was sitting really close to him during the speech - very cool! I was heartbroken when I heard that he committed suicide; having met him, even if only for a day, I knew that the world had lost a wonderful soul.

16mldavis2
May 1, 2012, 8:32am Top

Heck, I might just as well un-star everything else, 'cause most everything is on your threads, Donna. I do have another complaint, too. Quit posting so many great book titles because my list runneth over and time is inadequate to complete it. Or perhaps you could just post the good short books rather than the 1,000 page back-breakers? Anyway, nice watering hole here ... have a great day!

17vancouverdeb
Edited: May 1, 2012, 8:59am Top

Stopping by to say hi! Lovely new picture on your thread! Donna, I was reading on your last thread that you don't walk your dog in the rain. Oh you are so lucky! My dog will not use our backyard as her " bathroom" so I have no choice but to walk out with the dog 4 plus times a day - rain or not. And it rains a lot here!!!!!

18Donna828
Edited: May 1, 2012, 9:19am Top

Eris - I'm so glad you are continuing the journey with me.

Roni - it would make a great coffee mug. Do you take commissions?

Ellen - good to see you here. XO right back to you!

Nancy - maypole dancing looks like fun, but I'd probably get all tangled up.

Nathalie - I love the German translation of IJ! I seriously doubt if there would be much recognition of either version around here.

Paul - one can't go wrong with dancing children against a lush spring backdrop.

Amber - thanks for sharing that fantastic story. The world lost a brilliant writer. I'll think of you when I read his speech. I gather it was pretty hot that day?

Laura - it is Googled and saved. Did your husband's fondness of IJ have anything to do with Kate going there?

Mike - thank you for those kind words! I'll be sticking to shorter books for awhile. My list runneth over, too. LT is a blessing and a curse. ;-)

Deb - Lucky is a bigger wimp than I am. The sun was up and shining this morning after more rain during the night. A perfect morning for our walk.

Hope everyone has a great May Day!!!

19phebj
May 1, 2012, 9:56am Top

Happy May Day to you too, Donna. The picture of the Maypole brought a smile to my face as did your virtual T-shirt. You should have your husband's company make some. I bet you'd find some takers on LT.

20LizzieD
May 1, 2012, 10:35am Top

Having missed most of the last thread to my shame, I'm back again with a chuckle for the tee-shirt. I want one too!!! Maybe we can reread *IJ* together a few years on down the road. I definitely want to; the man was a genius.
Kenyon! I did my scholarship work for a couple of years for Roberta Chalmers, whose husband had been president of Kenyon. I'm sure that it's a wonderful school. They were also friends of R. Frost. You can imagine my thrill at reading his poetry from books inscribed "To Rob from Rob."
Anyway, happy May Day!

21nittnut
May 1, 2012, 11:16am Top

Love the picture!

22lauralkeet
May 1, 2012, 2:25pm Top

>18 Donna828:: Did your husband's fondness of IJ have anything to do with Kate going there?
Are you kidding Donna? The real draw was Amber on the faculty, but then she ditched us. And really, do parents have any influence in this process?! Heck no! LOL. All kidding aside, we were both familiar with the college and my husband's former boss and mentor is an alumni, which held considerable weight with him but again, not with Kate.

That said, it was a perfect choice for her and she's had a wonderful first year, even if she couldn't take Latin from Amber (sniff).

23BLBera
May 1, 2012, 2:25pm Top

Happy May Day and New Thread, Donna.

24ChelleBearss
May 1, 2012, 2:32pm Top

Happy May to you Donna! :)

25mckait
May 1, 2012, 7:21pm Top

Catching up with you on your lovely new thread :)

26msf59
May 1, 2012, 8:06pm Top

Hi Donna- I love the Spring-like new thread! The T-shirt is a scream. You should wear one like that to your next Meet-up.
Good review of Gillespie and I. I hope I can get to that in the next couple of months.

27Donna828
May 1, 2012, 11:07pm Top

Pat - I'll have to ask DH if he wants to make some more t-shirts for LT. My guess is no! Glad you liked the maypole dancers.

Peggy - Hello there! That's a great story about "the Robs"! I might take you up on the offer to read IJ in a few years. Have you read anything else by DFW? Such a pity we lost him at an early age.

Jenn - thanks! I thought it added a nice "springish" touch to my May thread.

Laura - It's great that your daughter had a good freshman year. It's quite an adjustment for some. Too bad Amber "bailed" as a professor, but academia's loss is Charlie's gain!

Beth, Chelle, and Kath - Thanks for your maiden visits to my new thread. Hope to see lots more of each one of you.

Mark - The shirt would make a hit IF I owned it; it's a virtual shirt copied from Google Images, though I'm sure it can be purchased online. I think you'll be another Harriet Baxter and Gillespie and I fan when you get to it. I know you have lots of murder and mayhem books to read this month. I have two coming from the library so I can join in the "fun"!

Coming soon...my review of That Hideous Strength. It's a C.S. Lewis book that would qualify for M & M month! Murder and mayhem galore -- Lewis was a versatile author!

28ronincats
May 1, 2012, 11:10pm Top

Go to Cafe Press--they'll make one up for you!

29vancouverdeb
May 2, 2012, 12:33am Top

Oh! I'll look forward to your review of That Hideous Strength.

30scaifea
May 2, 2012, 7:38am Top

Aw, you guys... *blushes, shuffles feet*

31Donna828
May 2, 2012, 12:50pm Top

Hi Roni, Deb, and Amber. Here's the review you've been waiting for, Deb! It's my slight attempt to champion one of my favorite authors against a few scathing reviews. There is no way I'm smart enough to debate with the last reviewer before me, but I did want to post my humble thoughts.


"Man has got to take charge of Man...sterilization of the unfit, liquidation of backward races...it'll have to be mainly psychological at first. But we'll get on to biochemical conditioning in the end and direct manipulation of the brain...It's the real thing at last. A new type of man..." (Page 40)

Book No. 38: That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis. 3.9 stars.


I read this book for the C. S. Lewis survey class I'm enrolled in at Missouri State University. I had no prior clue that he had written a science-fiction trilogy. I don't "do" sci-fi... or maybe I do now -- at least the Lewis "light" version which is a conglomeration of fantasy, theology, thriller, and science fiction. This is the fictionalized restatement of the more dogmatic Abolition of Man which is on my TBR list. I suspect that the latter book will not be considered a page-turner.

Truthfully, That Hideous Strength was a bit over the top, but I'll admit that I'm blinded by my admiration for Lewis as both a man and a writer, so I regard a book that resurrects Merlin to aid in the fight for humanity as a page-turner rather than a farce. I won't even try to relay the complex plot here. It's enough to say that it's a rollicking read that, in true Lewis fashion, pits good against evil. There's a bit of a love story and more than a bit about genetic reengineering. There are some creepy elements such as a talking head and a grisly animal uprising that had me both inwardly cheering and outwardly grimacing. Recommended for those who want to see a different side of C. S. Lewis.

32ErisofDiscord
May 2, 2012, 1:45pm Top

I thumbed you up, because I think you gave a nice, short and sweet review of your impressions of the book. :) I don't think many of the other reviewers were getting the point of the book, but I think you captured it admirably.

33Smiler69
May 2, 2012, 2:03pm Top

Hi Donna, jumping in before your thread gets completely ahead of me again! Happy New Thread! :-)

I read your review of Infinite Jest and am surer than ever that it is not for me. Which is a good thing really, considering I already own more books than I can hope to read in the next 5-10 years and have more on my wishlist to keep me busy for another 10 or so...

Am tempted to read your review of Gillespie and I, but then, I plan to read it soon, so not sure I should. I've both books by her, and though I'm dying to jump into GaI, I'm thinking I should start with The Observations, as I hear it's very good, but not as strong as the latest one, and I really want to be able to appreciate it for all it's worth. We'll see how that goes...

Wish you a very happy and sunny May!

34Donna828
May 2, 2012, 10:18pm Top

32: Why, thank you, Eris. Some of the other reviewers were certainly not seeing the book the way I did. I thought the threat from N.I.C.E. was chilling and clearly stated on Page 40. It sounded rather Hitleresque to me!

33: Hi Ilana, I'm behind on your thread. My class is nearing the end so I should be able to keep up better then. I hope all is well up north with you and your furkids. Happy May to you!

35Porua
May 2, 2012, 11:41pm Top

Hi, Donna! Love the picture!

36Ireadthereforeiam
May 3, 2012, 1:59am Top

>3 Donna828: rotf!
That is excellent!

37katiekrug
May 4, 2012, 9:19am Top

Just cruising through... Hi Donna!

38streamsong
May 4, 2012, 9:26am Top

Hello Donna--interesting review of That Hideous Strength. I left you a thumb for the same reason Eris did. It may not appeal to the hard core sci fi fan, but I am looking forward to reading it (eventually--still require bottled oxygen to get to the top of MT TBR).

39Donna828
May 4, 2012, 11:51am Top

A big welcome to Porua, Megan, Katie, and Janet!

38: Wow, that must be some mountain of books, Janet.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~​

I am sad to report that I have given up on a book! I really can't remember the last time I had a DNF book. I am close to being devastated because I had such high hopes for When I Was A Child I Read Books.

I am a big Marilynne Robinson fan. Both Gilead and Home are among my favorite books. So when I saw the new one with the cool title, I could hardly wait to get my hands on it. What a disappointment to discover the first few essays were on "state of the union" topics such as social issues, politics, and economics. The middle essay "When I Was A Child' gave me hope, but then came the "state of the soul" topics of religion, hymns, and the past, present, and future condition of the human spirit.

These are all worthy topics presented with great insight and intelligence, but it was not the book I was expecting! *Huge gulping sigh* I did learn a lesson to always read a review or synopsis of the book first. It was a library book so I'm only shortchanged of a few hours of time. I might even pick up this book again when I'm in the mood to have my brain stretched. I guess I'll have to go back to my essays in A Passion for Books to get the book on books experience I was longing for.

40ErisofDiscord
May 4, 2012, 12:36pm Top

I'm sorry that didn't turn out, Donna. I know the ache of abandoning a book, especially by an author you like. Maybe one day it'll be a good book to read, but I understand going to a book for something, but it not being what you expect.

Oh, well, I hope your next book will be splendid!

41-Cee-
May 4, 2012, 6:09pm Top

Donna - jump right back up on that "reading horse".
I too hate to abandon anything (except housework) - especially a book. I started a category "abandoned for now" so I won't feel so guilty. But I can assure you... I'll never get back to them.

Love the Maypole and CS Lewis' sci-fi trilogy!

So far May has been nothin' but rain. I trust the flowers which are struggling to wake up are loving it ;-)

42brenzi
May 4, 2012, 6:37pm Top

Funny, I was just thinking the other day that I hadn't had a DNF in ages. I credit LT with my success in that department. There's nothing worse than having certain expectations about a book and then have it turn out to be another book altogether Donna. Move on, I say.

43vancouverdeb
May 4, 2012, 8:13pm Top

Ohhh Donna ! I so appreciate your acknowledging that " slight cold breeze " that you fell. I've had Night Circus in my TRB pile for about 8 months now...

So sorry about the DNF book. Bravo on your review of The Great Divorce - I thumbed it a ways back . I don't do Sci Fi either - that would be a tough book for me to read.

Thanks for the warning about When I was a Child I Read Books. I've not read anything but Marilynne Robinson yet, but I expect to enjoy them, so just yesterday I was eying that book in the bookstore. Good thing I didn't pick it up. However, I was thinking of Mark's Murder and Mayhem thread , and picked up a new to me mystery author - only to find that yet again - virtually no one on LT has read The Long Kill. . I need a support group! ;)

44rosalita
May 4, 2012, 8:17pm Top

You've gotten some good advice, Donna. I'll only add that I've created a new category in my 75-Book Challenge reading timeline called "Abandoned Without Prejudice." It's kind of the reader-to-book equivalent of "It's not you, it's me."

45EBT1002
May 4, 2012, 9:33pm Top

Love your review of That Hideous Strength, Donna. I'm still a C.S. Lewis "virgin" and I've been enjoying your survey class of his works!

46Donna828
May 4, 2012, 9:44pm Top

Thanks, All! Sorry 'bout the whining, but I do appreciate the support. I cheered myself up with some of the essays in my current book about books. I'll share this short selection from Henry Ward Beecher. His thoughts are my thoughts...

Books are the windows through which the soul looks out. A home without books is like a room without windows. No man has the right to bring up his children without surrounding them with books if he has the means to buy them. It is a wrong to his family. He cheats them! Children learn to read by being in the presence of books. The love of knowledge comes with reading and grows upon it. And the love of knowledge in a young mind is almost a warrant against the inferior excitement of passions and vices.

Let us pity these poor rich men who live barrenly in great bookless houses! Let us congratulate the poor that, in our day, books are so cheap that a man may every year add a hundred volumes to his library for the price which his tobacco and his beer would cost him. Among the earliest ambitions...among all that are struggling up in life from nothing to something, is that of forming and continually adding to a library of good books. A little library, growing larger every year, is an honourable part of a man's history. A library is not a luxury, but one of the necessities of life.
(Page 164)

The language is dated (and sexist) but the ideas are sound. While I enjoy most of the essays, excerpts, cartoons, and lists in A Passion for Books, it doesn't give much information about the various entries. Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) was an American Congregational minister, author, and lecturer.

47Donna828
May 4, 2012, 10:03pm Top

>40 ErisofDiscord:: Eris - my next book is splendid indeed: Till We Have Faces, my final C. S. Lewis book for my class. Don't worry, I have been adding some of his other books to my library, and I'll be reading them later in the year.

Cee - I'm back in the saddle again, Podnah! The second book I picked up today will be a quick read: Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen. Humorous and poignant stories geared toward baby-boomer women. Using new math, that could be me as one of the forerunners! You will love the spring explosion of flowers after the rain.

Bonnie - I learned my lesson to not be swayed by a purty title no matter who the author is. I might actually enjoy reading it someday when I'm in the mood for something deep. My brain is in recovery this month so I'll be reading some mysteries and lighter fare.

Deb - Keep in mind that most people loved The Night Circus. I'm afraid I was in one of my picky moods when I read it yet there were parts that I loved.

Julia - I love your abandoned books category. You are so right that it is usually not a judgment against the book so much as an "it's me" error. Timing and mood are crucial to our enjoyment of what we read.

Ellen - C. S. Lewis would approve of your virginity but not in relation to his books. Sorry if that came out wrong, but you started it! Lol.

48PaulCranswick
May 4, 2012, 10:08pm Top

Donna - I hope your weekend is a great one and enjoys better reading.

49Crazymamie
May 4, 2012, 11:53pm Top

Donna - checking our your thread since you checked out mine. LOVE the quote from Henry Ward Beecher- brother to the equally famous Harriet Beecher Stowe, yes? I am not caught up on your thread yet, but I shall work on it. Thread #6, huh, YIKES!

50Porua
May 5, 2012, 3:00am Top

Sorry about the abandoned book. I hate to do that too. As a result I have read a lot of rubbish. Sometimes giving up can be good for you but I have such a hard time doing it!

51Soupdragon
Edited: May 5, 2012, 4:43am Top

Hi Donna. I'm learning so much about C.S Lewis from reading your thread! I don't think The Hideous Strength is for me but it was interesting to read about.

It sounds as if the Marilynne Robinson book was poorly titled and I can see why you were disappointed. The title suggests something more personal and intimate than politics and economics!

52BLBera
May 5, 2012, 8:11am Top

Hi Donna: Good for you to stop reading -- that is so hard to do. It sounds like you have found things to replace it. Dee is right that it sounds like the book's title isn't reflective of the subject matter.

53msf59
May 5, 2012, 8:19am Top

Donna- Sorry to hear about When I was a Child I Read Books not working. I've had that one on the WL. Like you, I'm a big fan of hers. Have a great day today.

54Donna828
May 5, 2012, 11:28am Top

>48 PaulCranswick:: Paul - I have a couple "sure things" lined up for the week end. I hope you get your groove back after a relaxing week end!

Mamie - one of the best things about LT is making new friends. I've been enjoying your presence around the group, and now you're here. Welcome! And you are so right about the Beecher relationship. Henry and Harriet were siblings in a large and talented family.

Porua - I used to abandon more books before LT. Now it is a rare - and oddly painful - occurrence.

Dee - I would never have picked up That Hideous Strength if it wasn't required reading. I was surprised at how much I liked it. I'll be looking for the first two books in the trilogy now. It's true, one should never judge a book by its cover -- nor its title!

Beth - I can see why that title was chosen. Who would want to read a book called "Intellectual Insights Into Today's State of the Soul in America: An Intense Examination of Religion and Human Affairs and Their Effects on Global Politics." Did I mention that this book is deep?

Mark - if you read Robinson's essays, you can explain them to me.

Actually, I did enjoy the 9-page title essay and the part of another essay that hung Bishop Shelby Spong out to dry. I had to give up on the book I was reading (last year!) by him as well. I think C. S. Lewis is about as deep as I want to go into religious topics.

55AMQS
May 5, 2012, 3:40pm Top

Hi Donna, love the new thread, and especially the picture of the Maypole at the top :) I'm sorry you didn't enjoy When I Was a Child I Read Books. That is such a promising title. I hope you're having a great weekend!

56mckait
May 5, 2012, 9:03pm Top

Visiting is one thing... keeping caught up is quite another... but.. I think of you..
does that count? :)

good news that you gave up on a bad for you book... it will be easier next time!

57coppers
May 5, 2012, 10:06pm Top

Hi Donna, I'm also enjoying Lots of Candles. I left it at a friend's house last weekend but I've got it back now!

58Donna828
May 6, 2012, 1:11pm Top

Hi Anne, the week end is semi-great. I'm quite stiff from overdoing yard work yesterday, but the good news is that I'm exempt from Part 2 of sweating in the sun and get to retire to my library to read! I hope your week end is going well. I see you've been catching up on LT. Always a fun thing to do.

Kath - I love that you think of me and stop by my thread. I had another ghostly experience in the Anna Quindlen book I am just about to review... Ooooooh....

Joanne - I hope you like it as much as I did!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~​


"We build our lives bit by bit of small bricks, until by the end there's a long stretch of masonry. But one of the amazing, and frightening, things about growing older, about seeing yourself surrounded by the Great Wall of Life, is that you become aware of how random the construction is, how many times it could have gone a different way, the mistakes that you averted, not because you were wise, perhaps, but because you were lucky" (From the essay "Near Miss")

Book No. 39: Lots of candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen. 4.5 stars.


My review:

Reading this book is like having a conversation with your most trusted friend. The topics flow from everyday happenings to the meaning of life. Anna Quindlen is equally at home in the past, present, and future as she muses on the randomness of life in such a way that, no matter what one's present circumstances, a sense of acceptance and hope is ever present.

Ms. Quindlen has lived long enough (60 years) to know that change is inevitable. Thank goodness she is wise enough to tell us that unpredictability and failure can lead to the "hope that there will be more to learn, to discover, more to change and understand."

I'll spare readers of this review the long litany of quote notes I amassed from this relatively slim memoir. My two favorite takeaways were "The future is not a tote bag" and the metaphor about memory becoming a "strange shape shifter." Every woman who is looking in the mirror and seeing her mother should read this book and take away your own favorite parts. I think there will be many! This book would make an excellent birthday present for a special woman in your life...or buy it for yourself...you won't regret it.

59Soupdragon
May 6, 2012, 1:32pm Top

58: I like the sound of that, Donna. I've read one of Quindlen's novels (Every Last One) and loved her immediate style, fell in love with her characters and then went into shock when tragedy strikes! It was a harrowing story.

60BLBera
May 6, 2012, 2:36pm Top

Donna: Great review. I have always liked Quindlen's nonfiction, especially essays better than her fiction. This is definitely going on my list. Your review reminds me of Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck. Have you you read that? You might enjoy it.

61bell7
May 6, 2012, 2:44pm Top

Hi Donna! Too bad about When I was a Child, I Read Books. I thought it would be about books, too, but I think I will take it off the TBR shelf. Truth be told, I'm not too cut up about it...there are too many other books on there to worry about it...

62lit_chick
May 6, 2012, 5:01pm Top

Thumb for a superb review, Donna. Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake sound like one not to miss. I love the quote you've included here; now if that doesn't ring true, I don't know what would ...

63Linda92007
May 6, 2012, 5:08pm Top

Nice review of Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, Donna, and a quote we can certainly all identify with!

64coppers
May 6, 2012, 7:45pm Top

Great review, Donna! I'm finding the book to be delightful.

65PaulCranswick
May 6, 2012, 7:57pm Top

Well the first of your sure things played out Donna- not read anything of hers - where should I start?

66Chatterbox
May 6, 2012, 8:00pm Top

I did buy When I was a Child, I read Books; I admit it was the catchy title that made me pick it up, but I love essays of all kinds, so I wasn't disappointed when I did pick it up to find the contents are more eclectic. Of course I still haven't read it... *bad, bad Chatterbox!*

I just don't like memoirs, so unless it's tightly focused enough or by someone I find compelling, it ain't gonna happen, so I dodged the Anna Quindlen book bullet. I do, however, love your succinct comment up top about Gillespie and I. The Observations is ready for me to read whenever the mood strikes...

67Whisper1
May 6, 2012, 8:03pm Top

Drat, I was at the library yesterday and didn't bring home the Anna Quindlen book.

Thanks for your wonderful review!

68phebj
May 6, 2012, 8:14pm Top

Great review of Anna Quindlen's new book, Donna. I will be looking for that at my library.

69Smiler69
May 6, 2012, 8:23pm Top

Donna, thanks for posting that great quote by Henry Ward Beecher. I liked it so much that I took the liberty to post it on my blog (though I did credit you for posting it first!)

Great review on Lots of candles, Plenty of Cake, you get a thumbs up from me. I'm tempted, but will I bite the book bullet?...

70nittnut
May 6, 2012, 9:16pm Top

Hi! Loved your review of That Hideous Strength. I'll have to move it up the list.

71brenzi
May 6, 2012, 10:21pm Top

Loved your review of the Anna Quindlen book Donna and the line Every woman who is looking in the mirror and seeing her mother should read this book got me. Onto the teetering tower it goes.

72Donna828
Edited: May 6, 2012, 10:37pm Top

>58 Donna828:: Dee, I haven't read Every Last One but read One True Thing back in the late 90s and felt much the same way. After reading about her mother's early death in "Candles," I realize it was somewhat autobiographical. Black and Blue was another harrowing read.

Beth - I didn't care much for the last two fiction books I read by Quindlen. I'm going to look for some of her NF books. I didn't realize she had seven of them until I saw the list of her books.

Mary - That is so true. If one book doesn't work out, there's always the next one on the list or pile awaiting their turn.

Nancy - There are many good quotes in the Quindlen book. I had trouble choosing just a few to include in my comments.

Linda - Thank you! I'm glad you liked the quote I ended up choosing.

Joanne - I sort of thought you would like it. I'll be eager to read your comments.

Paul - I'd start with the NF if I were you. I'm going to be looking for a copy of How Reading Changed My Life. Another "sure thing" I hope!

Suzanne - I think the M. Robinson essays will be right up your alley. Smartly written and thought provoking. I must admit to being a lazy reader this month. I think I was done in by Infinite Jest.

Linda - the nice thing about the library is that the book can be reserved in case it isn't on the shelf next time you go in. Lots of Candles is one of those books you can dip in and out of, although I couldn't put it down once I got into it.

Pat - Thanks for those kind words. I'm certain that you will find something memorable in the Quindlen book.

Ilana - I rather liked what Beecher had to say about libraries and our responsibility to encourage children to read. Some ideas never go out of vogue. Thanks for the thumb!

Jenn - Thank you. I hope you like That Hideous Strength when you got to it. It was very much about the theme of good vs. evil. Lewis had an imagination that knew no bounds. I never pegged him for a sci-fi writer, although I guess this isn't "heavy" SF.

Bonnie - Thank you. It's a perfect book for "experienced" women like us. There is much in it about the changes made in our lifetimes, especially as they affect women.

73AnneDC
May 6, 2012, 11:41pm Top

I've been eyeing the Quindlen book when I've seen it in the bookstores but I think you've convinced me to read it. I have always appreciated her columns so it sounds like one I will enjoy.

74Carmenere
May 7, 2012, 7:30am Top

Morning Donna, just zipping thru to check out your new May thread.
Sorry to see that you had a DNF but in every life a few dud books must fall. Glad you walked away unscathed and followed it up with a good Anna Quindlen!!

75Deern
May 7, 2012, 8:03am Top

Wonderful review Donna. The book sounds wonderful (and the title makes me hungry) and I checked it on amazon. Sadly it's another book where the Kindle edition inexplicably costs 25% more than the (not cheap) hardcover, so for now it'll have to wait on my WL.

76Donna828
May 7, 2012, 1:53pm Top

73: Anne - An enjoyable book it is. A little deeper than I thought it was going to be. Not difficult reading at all; just lots to ponder. I like that in a book.

Lynda - yup, duds are part of taking chances when it comes to reading. LT does such a great job of screening books for me that I don't have many duds these days -- unless I impulsively dive into a book based on its title!

Nathalie - What's up with that? I thought Kindle got in trouble for inflating their ebook prices. They'd best be careful or they'll price themselves into bankruptcy. Well, fat chance of that, but they might lose some sales. I'm pretty fond of the free e-books myself.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~​



Free on Kindle: May Flowers by Louisa May Alcott

I had a hard time finding out that this was actually a short story in A Garland for Girls. I'm not going to count it because it took me about an hour to read the 75 pages. It was a sentimental story about six friends who were in a book club and decided to do "good works" and come back six months later to report on their good deeds. At first I thought it was part of Flower Fables which Alcott wrote at age 16, and I could have forgiven her for the trite and moralistic "plot" but then found out it was published in 1887 when she was 54.

I did like the introduction: "These stories were written for my own amusement during a period of enforced seclusion. The flowers which were my solace and pleasure suggested titles for the tales and gave an interest to the work. If my girls find a little beauty or sunshine in these common blossoms, their old friend will not have made her Garland in vain."

Does anyone have enough background knowledge of Louisa May Alcott to know what her "enforced seclusion" was? My guess would be the illness she suffered from after serving as a nurse in the Civil War hospital tents. Hospital Sketches was a much worthier little book in my opinion.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~​

I forgot to report from yesterday's newspaper that the Friends of the Library raised $121,522.85 at the recent library sale. That's pretty amazing for a city of this size!

77BLBera
May 7, 2012, 3:20pm Top

Donna: I did like How Reading Changed My Life; it's more like a long essay. I'd like to reread it.

I have Harriet Reisen's bio of Alcott -- I want to get to that soon. Maybe then I'll discover what seclusion she is discussing.

And I have just added two more books to my list... I have to stay away from these threads.

78sjmccreary
May 7, 2012, 3:41pm Top

Congratulations to your Friends of the Library - an amazing accomplishment!

Otherwise, trying to avoid book bullets by not reading too closely...

79Crazymamie
May 7, 2012, 5:39pm Top

Wow, that was a successful fundraiser. They must be so pleased. Just stopping in to see what's new over here and to catch up. I have only read Little Women by Alcott, but my daughter has read some of her others and quite likes her. I have to investigate Hospital Sketches, as I don't think she has that one.

80msf59
May 7, 2012, 6:40pm Top

Hi Donna- "LT does such a great job of screening books for me that I don't have many duds these days". Wow, that also fits me perfectly, of course teamed up with my keen intuition. Can't overlook that.

81ChelleBearss
May 7, 2012, 7:20pm Top

Wow, that's a great chunk of money for your library!

82lyzard
May 7, 2012, 7:26pm Top

Heh! I'm currently at the other end of the Alcott spectrum and reading some of the "thrillers" she wrote pseudonymously at the beginning of her career - all full of scheming women and dark plots and uncontrollable passions - you wouldn't know them for the work of the author of A Garland For Girls! :)

83calliasbooks
May 7, 2012, 9:12pm Top

Donna- congrats on the library fundraiser! That is very impressive.

84Donna828
Edited: May 7, 2012, 9:20pm Top

Beth - I would imagine that a biography of Louisa May Alcott would be quite interesting. I still need to read the Edith Wharton bio I was all excited about last year. Yes, those blue words on threads are hypnotizing aren't they?

Sandy - All that hard work paid off. I used to help out, but they have more volunteers than they need! Today started out just like last Monday. Rain in the morning and a tentative sunbeam peaking through around noon. Only difference is that I didn't have any visitors from Kansas City! I hope you had a good week.

Mamie - the writing in Hospital Sketches was dated, but it was written from the heart and gave another firsthand account of what it was like in those hospital tents. Primitive!

Intuitive Mark - You know what you like and stick to it, but I also like that you are open to new reading experiences. You are my reading role model with your enthusiasm and encouraging ways. One of these days you'll have me reading graphic novels.

Chelle - the group bought a new Bookmobile last year with the proceeds. They raise about the same amount of money in the fall!

Liz - Alcott wrote thrillers? I learn something new all the time on LT. I'll check it out.

Callia - Hi there! You sneaked in while I was typing. Welcome...and thanks, I'm sure I'll see some of the benefits from the money I spent at the library book sale.

85calliasbooks
May 7, 2012, 10:04pm Top

Hi! That is really cool. I'm really interested in volunteering at our local library, so maybe this summer I'll check out their options. I am taking a public speaking class, and for our latest speech I was arguing the topic of book banning (con) and I had the opportunity to interview one of the librarians. It was really cool to hear her perspective on book banning!

86brenpike
Edited: May 7, 2012, 11:00pm Top

<76 Funny you should ask . . .
I am currently reading Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father by John Matteson. I just finished the chapters on her work as a nursing assistant: Louisa (30) arrived at Union Hotel Hospital in Washington on Dec. 13, 1862 to serve three months as part of Dorothea Dix's nursing corps. Her patients were men who suffered from pneumonia, diphtheria, and typhoid. Although she had been healthy her entire life, within three weeks she developed a cough which became worse. Both Louisa and her supervisor, a Mrs. Ropes, continued to weaken and were diagnosed with typhoid pneumonia. On Jan 14th, her parents (in Concord, MA) received a wire requesting they come for her. On Jan 20, Bronson Alcott was permitted to take her from the hospital. By the time they arrived in Concord on Jan 23rd, Louisa was delirious. Three weeks passed before she became fully aware, and she did not leave her room until March 22nd. She suffered searing headaches, chronic weakness and intermittent leg pain along with soar throat and strange oral sensations for years and was finally told in 1870 that these lingering symptoms were the result of systemic poisoning from mercurous chloride she was given in heavy doses at Union Hospital.
Hospital Sketches, her mildly fictionalized account of her time at Union Hospital, was taken directly from her letters home and was published in four sections in the Boston Commonwealth, an anti-slavery journal beginning in May, 1863. Also written during her stay in Washington, Thoreau's Flute, a poem memorializing family friend, Henry David Thoreau, was published in The Atlantic Monthly. Moods was published in Dec, 1864, after heavy rewriting to please her publisher. Flower Fables, written to amuse the young daughter of Ralph Waldo Emerson, was her first published work in Dec, 1854. A Garland for Girls is not included in the book's index.
Louisa's interest in mood disorders (evident in her writing), her own mercurial character, and her seemingly obsessive work habits have led researchers to conclude that she may have suffered from manic depression. There was certainly evidence in family members of the disorder and modern research supports the argument that there is a strong relation between mood disorders and creative achievement.
Further reading may reveal more . . .

87lyzard
Edited: May 7, 2012, 11:05pm Top

The book I'm reading, Behind A Mask: The Unknown Thrillers Of Louisa May Alcott, collects four of her thrillers that were published in 1863 (which won her $100), 1866 and 1867.

If you're familiar with the section in Little Women where Jo is supporting the family through writing lurid stories for the magazines, it is heavily autobiographical. It's fairly obvious that Alcott enjoyed writing these thrillers more than she felt she should. The success of Little Women finally put an end to it (I suspect with the financial excuse gone, she couldn't justify it to herself any more.)

88calliasbooks
May 7, 2012, 11:09pm Top

I didn't know that Alcott wrote thrillers! I started Little Women a while ago and couldn't get into it. It is on my wish list however!

89lyzard
Edited: May 7, 2012, 11:11pm Top

"I plod away, though I don't enjoy this sort of thing."
---Louisa May Alcott, while writing Little Women

:)

90calliasbooks
May 7, 2012, 11:20pm Top

Ms. Alcott, sometimes I feel the same way:)

91AnneDC
May 7, 2012, 11:54pm Top

I read a book a long time ago about two women--Alcott fans--who were investigating the shocking literary past of Louisa May Alcott, and I believed it focused on the thriller period. I can't remember the name of it, but I think it was non-fiction. Hmmm.

92lyzard
Edited: May 8, 2012, 12:59am Top

I don't know the name of it either, but the women would be Madeleine Stern and Leona Rostenberg. Together they unearthed the Alcott thrillers; Stern wrote a biography of Alcott.

ETA: They wrote Old Books, Rare Friends: Two Literary Sleuths and Their Shared Passion together - perhaps they talk about the Alcott hunt in that?

93EBT1002
May 8, 2012, 12:27am Top

just lurking ----- and enjoying. :-)

94AnneDC
May 8, 2012, 12:55am Top

>92 lyzard: Yes that was the book! Thank you Liz! (funny when I was trying to recall it the phrase "literary sleuths" popped into my head but I waved it away)

95lyzard
Edited: May 8, 2012, 12:59am Top

You're welcome, but I won't thank you: I didn't need another one on The List! :)

96Donna828
May 8, 2012, 4:41am Top

Okay, People, it's 3:30 a.m. And I must still be dreaming to find all this fascinating talk on my thread!

First of all, thank you, Brenda, for your research. I'm glad you are on top of this. Liz, your input about Alcott's thrillers backs up the bipolar theory. The May Flowers novella I read was far from a thriller. Must have been written in a depressive state.

Callia, I loved Little Women at your age, but then there were dinosaurs roaming the earth at that time! Books like The Hunger Games were unheard of for young ladies. Lol.

Anne and Liz, I have a copy of Old Books, Rare Friends that I need to read. Thank you for the reminder.

Off to the airport...DH is going to China!

97mckait
May 8, 2012, 8:16am Top

Sorry... not catching up... just jumping in to say hello!
I see mention of Little Women, I still love that book.. read it just a few years ago..

98tjblue
May 8, 2012, 12:38pm Top

Just stopping by to say Hi!!

99Chatterbox
May 8, 2012, 1:15pm Top

Such flowery prose... in that comment you quoted, I mean!

I may have to look into the literary sleuth book. Hmm, I wonder if I could write a book about literary sleuths through the ages??

Wouldn't mind going to China, too, actually.

Oh dear, rambling.

100tymfos
May 8, 2012, 5:33pm Top

So far behind, just skimming the threads, but wanted to say hello!

101brenzi
May 8, 2012, 6:55pm Top

Congratulations on the library sale. That sounds like some sale. This must be the main library branch? Our libraries here tried an online auction recently but I'm not sure how they did.

102calliasbooks
May 8, 2012, 7:00pm Top

Donna- I found Little Women at my school library and I am planning to check it out tomorrow:)

103Donna828
May 8, 2012, 8:36pm Top

Kath, it's good to know that LW stood the test of time for you.

Hi Tammy!

Suz, I think a book about literary sleuths would be a big hit, especially here on LT. Wouldn't that be a hoot to research?

Hey Terri, I need to check your thread for new bathroom pictures.

Bonnie, it's a county library with ten locations. The branch I go to is fairly small but the van that delivers books from other libraries is speedy!

That's good news, Callia. At least I hope it is. Crossing my fingers that you will connect with it this time.

I had my last class today. My Tuesdays and Thursdays will seem empty for awhile. I'll delve into the C.S. Lewis books I've accumulated and keep adding to my collection. I guess you might say that he's an author that really resonated with me. ;-)

104calliasbooks
May 8, 2012, 8:43pm Top

I am too! My friend loves it and is willing to read it along with me again so I'm definitely hoping I will enjoy it more.

105DeltaQueen50
May 9, 2012, 12:33am Top

Hi Donna, I am currently re-reading Rose In Bloom by Lousia May Alcott, I haven't read this since I was a girl (you know, back when the dinosars were roaming around). I am a little taken aback at the flowery language and overall stiffness in the writing. I now wonder if Little Women would have such a firm place in my heart if I had read it later in life. It certainly shows how language has evolved over the years.

106Carmenere
May 9, 2012, 5:43am Top

Wow, your DH is in China?! What a great opportunity to do nothing but read! I go into a reading frenzy when my husband goes to Tractor Supply. Ah, not quite the same as China but it's good for a couple of hours.

107lauralkeet
May 9, 2012, 7:55am Top

>106 Carmenere:: LOL! I was thinking the same thing about DH's China trip affording unlimited reading time ... but your comment about Tractor Supply totally cracked me up!

My husband left today to bring our oldest home from college. He'll be home tomorrow, but I'm looking forward to some good reading time tonight!

108Donna828
May 9, 2012, 11:06am Top

Callia, I'm glad you will have your friend's encouragement while reading Little Women. I enjoy the shared and group reads here on LT for that very reason!

Judy, that is so true about how language (and writing) has evolved. I stepped back into another age whilst I was reading May Flowers. ;-)

Lynda, that is so funny...and so true. I have the books lined up to read. I hope my head doesn't explode!

Laura, I think I would be too excited about a daughter's homecoming to be able to get much reading done. I always found summers spent with returning college students bittersweet. You send them off as children, and they return as adults...for the most part anyway.

109lauralkeet
May 9, 2012, 3:28pm Top

Oh I have an inkling of what you mean Donna, although I'm sure I'll appreciate that even more after the summer. Chris sent me this text upon arrival: "on a packing scale of one to ten, Kate is at a one." So they have work to do, apparently ... hopefully a learning experience for future moving days.

110calliasbooks
May 9, 2012, 9:01pm Top

Donna, thank you! I am really excited and hope to start it sometime this week:)

111-Cee-
May 9, 2012, 9:36pm Top

Drive by wave !

re CS Lewis: "I guess you might say that he's an author that really resonated with me."
Me too. He's one I wish I had had the opportunity to know. Can you imagine having him for a professor?

112mckait
May 9, 2012, 9:53pm Top

Lynda, I love tractor supply co!
But, given the choice, I would read, too.

113Donna828
May 9, 2012, 10:25pm Top

Laura - that scenario sounds rather familiar to me. I remember picking up my son at Indiana University after the first year. It was a 12-hour round trip and I was eager to get back on the road. Not only did we literally throw his things into the car, I had to go to the bookstore to sell his books while he checked on a grade (or had a nice chat with a professor more likely)!

Good luck, Callia!

Hi, Cee. That would have been totally awesome. He was a very popular professor both at Cambridge and Oxford.

And, that reminds me, I need to report on my latest book. This was a reread for me. I gave it 4 stars when I first read it three years ago; I got much more out of it this time.


"Now mark yet again the cruelty of the gods. There is no escape from them into sleep or madness, for they can pursue you into them with dreams. Indeed you are then most at their mercy. "

Book No. 40: Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis. 4.6 stars.


"This was Lewis's favorite novel, and I can see why. He retells the myth of Psyche and Cupid through the very heart of Orual, the homely half-sister and protector of the exquisite Psyche. She is known as Istra in the land of Glome, where the goddess Ungit ruled with a harsh jealousy. When Psyche/Istra is offered for sacrifice to end the hard times created by famine, plague, and rebellion, she is mysteriously saved and becomes the bride of the unseen God of the Grey Mountain.

All might have been well until Orual interfered. Through her dubious good intentions, she ends up betraying Psyche and then blames the gods for her selfish love. Lewis can tell the story so much better than I can. I'll just say that Orual has some amazing adventures, but is always haunted by her actions, and it was through her accusations that she ultimately saw herself as the one who caused ruin in those whom she loved.,

I am not a big fan of fantasy in general, but thought Lewis did a marvelous job giving us a new way to look at a well-known myth." ...May 21, 2009...

I cheated...that was the review I posted three years ago. I stand by it today! It's not plagiarizing if you use your own words, is it?

I'll just add a few thoughts from yesterday's class and call it good enough...

~ The book was a flop during Lewis's lifetime, though most critics today agree with him that this is his best fiction book.

~ Lewis wanted to use the title "Bare Face." His publishers overruled him because they thought it sounded like a western title!

~ Lewis was highly influenced by Tolkien in his ideas of mythology.

~ Lewis's future wife Joy was influential in the writing of the book which made it quite different in style and views about women.

114Donna828
May 9, 2012, 10:29pm Top

>112 mckait:: Hi Kath, you sneaked in there while I was working on my "review"! I have been enjoying my reading today. I read several hundred pages in A Fountain Filled with Blood. It is so pleasant to read a book that doesn't require deep thought. No wonder these books are so popular.

115bell7
May 10, 2012, 7:25am Top

Donna, I absolutely loved Till We Have Faces when I first read in a few years ago - you're making me want to reread!

I'm glad you were able to get more out of it this time around (I think that's what we always hope for when we choose to reread, but to do it for a class always gave me a little trepidation).

116EBT1002
Edited: May 10, 2012, 9:17am Top

Donna, now that the survey class is over and you have a deep sense of the author, what would you recommend as a first C.S. Lewis read? Would you recommend reading Till We Have Faces first, given that so many agree with him that it's his best fiction work? Nice review, by the way, today or three years ago.

edited to fix typo

117ErisofDiscord
May 10, 2012, 10:48am Top

I've been a lazy bum who's been terrible about my starred threads, but I'm all caught up with you now, Donna! I'm glad that you got more out of Till We Have Faces this time around. It is truly an incredible book, and I had to think very deeply about the book in order to understand what C. S. Lewis was showing with Orual - getting me to think is the mark of a well written book.

118RebaRelishesReading
May 10, 2012, 12:47pm Top

Back in the land of computer connections. Your review of Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake sounds so good I immediately tried to load it on my Kindle --- can't connect! What's up with that? Will have to try later in the day when we're out of the hills. Enjoyed catching up with your page.

119calliasbooks
May 10, 2012, 4:04pm Top

Thank you Donna! I am planning to finish Wicked and then read Little Women.

120billiejean
May 10, 2012, 7:36pm Top

Hi, Donna! I am sorry that I haven't been keeping up this Spring. Looks like you have read some great books including three that I had planned to read but wasn't able to read. And the reviews have me determined to get to them. Congrats especially on IJ. Right now I am concentrating on The Count of Monte Cristo, but after that I hope to return to IJ. Have a great day!

121-Cee-
May 10, 2012, 7:48pm Top

eeeeooooo - A Fountain Filled with Blood is "pleasant to read"?

I probably put too much emphasis on titles.

122Donna828
Edited: May 11, 2012, 8:11am Top

>115 bell7:: Mary, I know I'll get even more out of Till We Have Faces if I read it again in a few years. I had no trepidation with my class. The teacher was amazing...and it helped a great deal that I was auditing!

>116 EBT1002:: Thanks, Ellen. I was going to spruce up my review but didn't really have anything to add or take away. Plus, I'm being lazy this week. I think Faces would be an excellent first Lewis book, especially if you enjoy retold myths.

>117 ErisofDiscord:: Eris, I get pretty lax about visiting people sometimes, too. I think we all understand that lives can get busy. I agree that there was a great deal of depth to Faces. Books that make one think are my favorite kinds of books, but there is a time and place for light reading as well. I plan to do a bit of that this month for a break after four months of reading C. S. Lewis.

>118 RebaRelishesReading:: Reba, I wish you success in getting Candles downloaded. It's the kind of book you can dip in and out of if you get tired of the beautiful scenery. So, how's the trip going? I'll check your thread for updates.

>119 calliasbooks:: Keep me posted, Callia.

>120 billiejean:: BJ! Thanks for visiting. I haven't read The Count of Monte Cristo. That is quite an undertaking for you while holding down a demanding job. Any chance of taking a break around June 14 for a Kansas City meetup?

>121 -Cee-:: Baaad choice of words, Cee. I can see where my credibility is going to suffer if I enjoy reading about a blood-filled fountain! Lol.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~​


"The dogs had fallen silent as soon as Clare had led them out on the leashes, and she could hear far-off noises amplified in the developing fog. There were few people on the sidewalks at this hour. Clare would hear footsteps clicking and someone would emerge from the mist, smile or look startled, and then vanish behind her. It might have been unnerving if she had been alone, but walking behind two large and well-behaved dogs made it a genteel adventure, like strolling through Victorian London. She added Sherlock Holmes to her list of English images."

Book No. 41: A Fountain Filled with Blood by Julia Spencer-Fleming. 3.3 stars.


Hate crimes...oh, how I hate reading about "senseless" crimes. It's a good thing the author tempers it with some interesting small-town happenings in Millers Kill, New York. I particularly liked getting to know Russ's activist mother -- and the part about the dogs was fun reading. I'm still bothered about the sexual tension between the protagonists -- a female Episcopal priest with Wonder Woman tendencies and the married police chief -- but the action and fast-paced story makes up for any discomfort I have with their (so far) unrequited romance.These two characters need It makes for deeper, ongoing intrigue that Clare and Russ have found a little diversion from all the murders that interrupt the peacefulness of village life.

123brenzi
May 10, 2012, 10:24pm Top

These two characters need a little diversion from all the murders that interrupt the peacefulness of village life. But then what kind of a story would that be Donna?? Boring I think. Let's face it, the whole line of preposterous happenings in this series is hard to swallow. Yet I find the mystery compelling.

124calliasbooks
May 10, 2012, 10:48pm Top

I will Donna, thank you!

125lit_chick
May 10, 2012, 11:13pm Top

I've yet to get to Julia Spencer-Fleming, but she's on my list. Thanks for the reminder : ).

126coppers
May 10, 2012, 11:13pm Top

Hi Donna, I keep forgetting that I have the first few Julia Spencer-Fleming books in the black hole that is my nook. Thanks for the reminder. I should really read the first one before I collect any more!

127Carmenere
May 11, 2012, 6:06am Top

Donna, I checked my wishlist to see if I might have added Till We have Faces back in 2009. I did not. I have now corrected that.

128Donna828
Edited: May 11, 2012, 8:27am Top

Bonnie, I have hopefully clarified my last statement in the comments on Fountain. I too am "enjoying" this series and will continue reading it....even though reading about adultery makes me feel icky! Oh, I know they haven't actually committed adultery, but the innuendos and longings are getting stronger. I'll stop there. Don't want to give too much away.

Hi, Callia.

Nancy, it's a good series despite its little flaws.

Hi Joanne. I don't have many e-books downloaded, but I do find that they are easy to forget about on the iPad. I think I need the physical reminder of 'real' books to keep me on track.

Hi Lynda, I hope you like Faces when you get to it. I guess my first review didn't click with you. I'm glad the rerun took! ;-)

129BLBera
May 11, 2012, 8:49am Top

Hi Donna: I added Till We Have Faces to my list. I do love myths. I have Ragnarok: The End of the Gods and a book on Norse mythology sitting here.

I think Julia Spencer-Fleming gets better; the lives become more complicated. I'll be interested to hear what you make of future books in the series.

Do you have plans for any future classes?

130Donna828
May 11, 2012, 11:01pm Top

Hi Beth, thanks for the visit. It sounds like Till We Have Faces will be a good fit for you.

I'm currently reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being. There is a lot of infidelity in the book that makes Russ and Clare's fantasies look mild in comparison. I may have to strike out the last part of my comments completely! I'm looking forward to the other books in the series. She's got me hooked!

I'm going to wait and see what's available in August when it's time to register for the fall semester. I've also been thinking of volunteering in the local elementary school, and I'm not sure I'll have time to do both.

131Linda92007
May 12, 2012, 9:34am Top

I keep circling around the idea of reading Julia Spencer-Fleming. She sounds like a fun diversion from all this serious stuff. Thanks for the reminder, Donna.

132Crazymamie
May 12, 2012, 9:46am Top

I am another one who has Julia-Spencer Fleming in my TBR pile - you make me want to bump it up! Also Till We Have Faces sounds intriguing - I have never even heard of it before. Finally caught up with your thread, which moves rather quickly. I can see why - good stuff here! Hope you have a great weekend, Donna.

133lauralkeet
May 12, 2012, 11:16am Top

I'm really particular about mystery series -- I don't read many at all -- but I've really enjoyed Julia Spencer-Fleming.

134jnwelch
May 12, 2012, 12:06pm Top

I have fond memories of reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Donna. The backdrop of oppressed Czechoslovakia added to the poignancy for me. If you end up liking it. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting is really good, too.

135Donna828
May 12, 2012, 4:46pm Top

Ohhh, visitors. Lovely!

Linda and Mamie, listen to Laura (and me) and give Julia Spencer-Fleming's mystery series a go. Definitely a fun diversion from heavy reading.

Joe, I'm in the final stretch of Unbearable Lightness and am loving it. At first I wasn't too sure about reading a brainy sex book, but then I caught on to the metaphor and did an about turn. This one will go on my reread shelf.

I'm taking part in the drop-in readathon this week end. Getting lots of reading done! I finished this one last night before I went to bed...


"The raw tomato, devoured in the garden when freshly picked, is a horn of abundance of simple sensations, a radiating rush in one's mouth that brings with it every pleasure. The resistance of the skin--slightly taut, just enough; the luscious yield of the tissues, their seed-filled liqueur oozing to the corners of one's lips, and that one wipes away without any fear of staining one's fingers; this plump little globe unleashing a flood of nature inside us: a tomato, an adventure." (Pg. 63)

Book No. 42: Gourmet Rhapsody by Muriel Barbery. 3.7 stars.


Yummmm...there is nothing better than a fresh picked tomato! I can't grow them here because of the squirrels liking them as much as I do, but my friend Nancy has promised me a few from her garden when they ripen. This book was full of wonderful food descriptions. A real mouth-watering experience!

It's about a Parisian food critic nostalgically reviewing 68 years of meals trying to recall the elusive flavor that was the "ultimate truth" of his life. As his heart is giving out, we are treated to a series of vignettes from the people who knew him best. These brutally honest stories from different points of view are mixed in with Pierre Arthens's own reveries and served up in the most delicious prose. This is truly an unusual feast of a book!

136mckait
May 12, 2012, 7:20pm Top

I have the first 2 Julia Spencer Flemming's... but? Time?
Just haven't gotten tot hem yet. I want to, partly because she is wellliked here..
partly because Louise Penny likes her :)

137coppers
May 12, 2012, 7:33pm Top

>136 mckait: I forgot that Louise Penny likes her books. Another good reason to give her a try.

Hi Donna!

138mausergem
May 13, 2012, 2:40pm Top

Hi Donna, many of the CS Lewis books go to the TBR list. If you have to suggest just one book amongst The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce and Till we have Faces what will it be?

139ErisofDiscord
May 13, 2012, 3:00pm Top

I suggest reading The Great Divorce first, although Till We Have Faces is a good place to start, as well.

140The_Hibernator
May 13, 2012, 3:41pm Top

I'm not sure how I got so far behind on your thread! But I'm caught up now. You know, I've never gotten to That Hideous Strength or Perelandra. I read Out of the Silent Planet years ago and always planned on finishing the series, but haven't gotten to it! You've reminded me how much I want to read it now! :)

141msf59
May 13, 2012, 7:18pm Top

Happy Mother's, Donna! Hope you had a great day!

142nittnut
May 13, 2012, 9:49pm Top

Happy Mother's Day! xx

143brenzi
May 14, 2012, 4:26pm Top

Very enticing review of Gourmet Rhapsody Donna. I have it and will get to it at some point but I absolutely loved The Elegance of the Hedgehog and fear being let down but you certainly give it good marks.

144Donna828
May 14, 2012, 6:27pm Top

>136 mckait:, 137: Kath and Joanne...I heartily agree. A recommendation from Louise Penny goes a long way.

Hi Guatam, I think any one of the three books you listed would be good starting points. Remember, these are books written from a Christian perspective. Perhaps Till We Have Faces would have more general appeal. Good luck!

Eris, I consider The Great Divorce my favorite C. S. Lewis book...by the margin of a hair. Who else could write a book about a bus trip from hell to heaven?

Hi Rachel, I plan to read the trilogy this summer, although it looks as though I'll be reading it backwards. I hope to find the first two books at the book sale next month in Kansas City.

Mark and Jenn... thank you for those Mother's Day wishes. All three kids called so it was a great day!

Bonnie, it's a very different book with the same elegant writing. At around 150 pages, it won't take you long to read it and decide for yourself. I'm with you, I loved The Elegance of the Hedgehog.

Not much reading has gotten done in the past two days. I was busy most of the day on Mother's Day, and today has been spent catching up from my week of self-indulgence. I go pick hubby up from the airport in about 30 minutes. Plenty of time to share a few thoughts about my latest book...

145Donna828
May 14, 2012, 6:44pm Top


"No one had ever opened a book in that restaurant before. In Tereza's eyes, books were the emblems of a secret brotherhood. For she had but a single weapon against the world of crudity surrounding her: the books she took out of the municipal library, and above all, the novels." (47)

Book No. 43: The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. 4.2 stars.


I've thought about this book for two days, and I'm still not sure what to say about it. Tomas, Tereza, Sabina, and Franz had curious relationships with each other. The labyrinth of infidelity and jealousy intermingles with discussions of philosophy and the nuances of language. And then there's the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in the late 1960s with a smattering of art and music to lighten things up. Kundera clearly manipulates his characters to show the vagaries of human experience, specifically in how relationships frequently mirror politics and war:

The history of the Czechs and of Europe is a pair of sketches from the pen of mankind's fateful inexperience. History is as light as individual human life, unbearably light, light as a feather, as dust swirling into the air, as whatever will no longer exist tomorrow..

This book is anything but light; however, I do enjoy pondering deep thoughts. I'll be thinking about this one for some time to come.

146Linda92007
May 14, 2012, 7:02pm Top

I read The Unbearable Lightness of Being years ago, Donna. But your review has made me realize that I don't remember much about it! Oh, I abhor this failing memory... Maybe time for a re-read.

147LizzieD
May 14, 2012, 7:39pm Top

Donna, what a lot of steady good reading you're doing! I know that you'll get back to the Robinson someday when you feel like it. (A hem. I know that I'll get back to all my uncompleted books too one day if I live long enough.)
I'm gobsmacked by the profits from that library sale. I guess our local library has an annual budget that big, but I'm not sure. WOW!
And I'm a great C.S. Lewis fan, but the scifi trilogy is his only fiction that I've read. Well - *Screwtape*, but I'm not sure how that's classified. Do go back to read the first 2 in the trilogy. I remember thinking long, long ago that the first one was the weakest. You make me want to read Kundera, which I've never done, alas, and wary of picking up dear Louisa again. I think I'd be O.K. though, and I do thank Bonnie for that biographical sketch!

148porch_reader
May 14, 2012, 9:07pm Top

Wow, Donna! I'm catching up and adding several to my wishlist. I loved Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake too. So much wisdom packed in that slim volume! Hope you had a great Mother's Day!

149lauralkeet
May 14, 2012, 9:30pm Top

I had a rough time with The Unbearable Lightness of Being, I think I was expecting something different.

150scaifea
May 15, 2012, 7:17am Top

I haven't read the book, but I watched the movie version of The Unbearable Lightness of Being not too long ago. I don't know how different to two are, but the movie left me ponder-y, too. I'm still not entirely certain that I liked it, but it did leave an impression...

151Donna828
May 15, 2012, 12:37pm Top

146: Linda, that failing memory might be a good thing! I'm saving a short collection of books to read again in my dotage. It will be good to read something I know for certain that I'll love...even if I've forgotten most of it!

Peggy, I enjoy your visits and comments. I'm tempted to read Little Women again someday when I want a trip back to my youth. Oh, how I loved that book! Perhaps because I wasn't blessed with a sister.

Thanks, Amy. I survived another Mother's Day without my children. I had long conversations with each of them which is second only to some hugs! I'm going to make sure Lots of Candles gets passed along to my friends. Lots of goodies in that book.

Laura, I wasn't sure of what to expect from The Unbearable Lightness of Being...but, then again, I'm not quite sure of what to think about it after having read it either!

Amber, I might check out the movie to compare the two. I'm not sure it will shed much light on the philosophical parts, however. I kind of think the movie focus will be on the sex and war bits. Lol.

I have been waiting all morning for the Direct TV repairman. I am running out of morning...and patience! I missed out on my Sunday evening programming because of our lost connection. I'll be watching that Sherlock episode on the computer. I just hope I didn't lose the contents of my DVR. It could be a long summer. I've been recording movies to watch when I have more free time. My poor hubby is suffering from FOX News withdrawal after being w/o it for his week in China. We both slept well last night and he's back to work today. I would need a few days of recovery after that grueling trip.

152EBT1002
Edited: May 15, 2012, 12:50pm Top

Love your two most recent reviews. You're doing some eclectic reading this year, Donna. Very fun!

153jnwelch
May 15, 2012, 12:54pm Top

I'm another fan of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Donna, and found myself filled with pondering, too, after reading it. He's a pondering kind of author, methinks. Nice review.

154Crazymamie
May 15, 2012, 1:47pm Top

Nice review - think I have to add that one to my list.

155RebaRelishesReading
Edited: May 15, 2012, 10:07pm Top

I saw Unbearable Lightness of Being 25 years ago. It's the only movie I've ever walked out on in my life and my husband and I still use it as a code-word for something heavy and difficult. I think you're very brave to have read the book. On a happier topic, I reread Little Women a few years ago as a prelude to reading March -- loved it as much the second time as the first and also really enjoyed March. Just finished a long, detailed bio of Daniel Boone and am going to reward myself by reading Lot of Candles, Pleanty of Cake starting tomorrow.

156brenzi
May 15, 2012, 10:27pm Top

Hmmm The Unbearable Lightness of Being sounds like something I might like and your 4.2 rating sort of clinches it Donna but then again if you are still trying to figure it out....

157LizzieD
May 15, 2012, 10:28pm Top

I second Reba! I really enjoyed March too. I know that it gets mixed reviews, but I mostly liked it a lot.

158Smiler69
May 15, 2012, 10:59pm Top

Hi Donna, I think I read The Unbearable Lightness of Being some time in my teens or early 20s and remember liking it quite a lot, though I can't say I remember much about it anymore. Maybe a re-read someday? Glad you enjoyed it.

159mckait
May 16, 2012, 7:16am Top

Just popping in to say hello. Sorry to hear that Direct TV is the devil, too.
Do they offer an On Demand option, where you can go and watch shows that you have missed?
No book talk from me.. I haven't read either of the books mentioned in the last few posts :P

160scaifea
May 16, 2012, 7:33am Top

#151: Yep, the movie's mostly about the sex, but it's still heavy and difficult. LOL!

161BLBera
May 16, 2012, 10:45am Top

Donna: I love the variety of your reading. The Unbearable Lightness of Being sounds like something I would like; I tend to like those books that leave me with something to think about.

Another book to add to my pile of summer reads...

162sjmccreary
May 16, 2012, 10:48am Top

I've seen the movie version of The Unbearable Lightness of Being a couple of times, but do not love it. I don't remember a lot of sex in it, but I do recall some war-related violence. I think I'd be willing to read the book sometime - I guess I need to make sure it's added to the wishlist. (I'm trying to systematically choose my books from the list rather than being distracted by every shiny new book that I see - with mixed results!)

163Donna828
May 16, 2012, 11:33am Top

152: Hi Ellen, it's good to see you here. I'm glad you like my eclectic reading this month...from the sentimental Alcott to the philosophical Kundera..to Tudor England via C.J. Sansom - my current book. You're right, it is fun stuff!

I love all the differing viewpoints on The Unbearable Lightness of Being. This book would be a wonderful choice for a F2F book group. Let's see...we have Joe and Ilana (and me) having read and liked the book. Reba, Amber, and Sandy have seen the movie - mixed reactions. Mamie, Amy, Bonnie, Beth, and Sandy are thinking about reading it. I hope I got that right! I'm looking forward to feedback on this one. I just hope I haven't steered anyone wrong. Keep in mind that I didn't like the beginning of the book but when it "clicked" I had to keep reading to see where the author was taking me.

155, 157: It's great hearing Little Women is still a good read as an adult. I liked March pretty well. It was interesting to see that side of Jo's dad.

159: Kath, I was thrilled not to lose my backlog of DVR programs. I only missed out on the one Sherlock episode and can easily catch up on the computer. Water had gotten into something on the satellite and rotted it out. We also got a new "eye"! I don't care much about the problem, I just want things to work!

162: Sandy, I succumb to "shiny books" far too often. I have a lot of "dull" books on my shelves that would like my attention. ;-)

164Deern
May 19, 2012, 6:08am Top

Reading my way through a week of missed posts. I never wanted to touch another Muriel Barbery after not being too happy with The Elegance of the Hedgehog, but the plot of this new one sounds very tempting.

And I must reread The Unbearable Lightness of Being, it's over 20 years and the only thing I remember is in fact the infidelity issue.

Happy weekend to you!

165msf59
May 19, 2012, 6:45am Top

Donna- Just checking in! Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

166mldavis2
May 19, 2012, 7:17am Top

#164 Deern > Interesting comment on Barbery. Your negative reaction to The Elegance of the Hedgehog points out why it is so terribly difficult to pre-judge a book based on ratings. I have a dear friend in KC who thought it was the best book she'd read in many years and was disappointed that she couldn't find a suitable book to read after finishing it.

Many book ratings are reduced precisely because they are controversial, or because they deal with strong or irrational biases (i.e. religion, politics, etc.). On the other hand, many readers find an author in a specific genre, read everything that author has written, and give all of the books 5-stars. There are a lot of highly rated books (or authors) out there that win based on advertising dollars spent rather than on the literary value of the book itself. I've found many books in the mid 3-star range that I thought were much better than their ratings - Pulitzer prize winners, Booker awards winners, etc. So I neither agree nor disagree with your reaction (I liked the book very much). It simply points out how difficult it is to pick really fine literature when our individual tastes vary to widely. Thanks for the comment.

167mckait
Edited: May 20, 2012, 8:00am Top

it is so terribly difficult to pre-judge a book based on ratings

I could not agree more. Most often, I flee from "super hyped" and "everyone likes"
books. For some reason they rarely sit well with me. Night Circus was a notable difference.
I read a library ebook, then bought it.. because I loved it.

168Deern
Edited: May 19, 2012, 8:27am Top

#166: I actually read it when I was new here on LT and hadn't noticed the hype yet. I had bought the book because the copy looked and felt nice and because the story sounded very promising. It was an English copy, the book had not yet been translated for my country, so hadn't turned up on the bestseller lists there either.
It was only later that I found that I was among the very few who didn't love the book. I didn't hate it either, there was just 'something' that nagged me, 'something' that didn't fully convince me and made me doubt the author's intentions. What I really liked was the style of the writing and Donna's quote above promises it can be found in the new book as well.

But I know what you mean and you're right. I had the 'hype problem' with other books. One reason why I haven't read The Night Circus yet, maybe some time later, when it has all settled.

#167: though maybe I should make an exception with that one? :-)

169BLBera
May 19, 2012, 9:42am Top

Hype...Interesting conversation. I use the library a lot and rarely buy hardcovers. That means if I want to read a popular book, I often have to wait for it. Sometimes I think that works in my favor; I have forgotten what people said about the book before I read it and come to it with no preconceived ideas about it. And it is fun to discover something I love long after everyone else had read it.

170-Cee-
May 19, 2012, 9:58am Top

Hi Donna,

I am living in terror. So afraid I will be kicked off the "LT Island" (so to speak) for my lack of serious reading and keeping up with threads. How did I get so busy in RL that my favorite passtime is suffering?

Anywho - loved catching up on your thread and all the comments on the variety of books. Looks like you are having a good month :)

171Donna828
May 19, 2012, 10:28am Top

I've had a two-day "vacation" from LT. I was going to say that RL had taken over, but I'm rethinking my ideas about real life. I'm beginning to understand that my reading life is the one most real to me these days! The things I do for others, like the church reception for our Mozambique partner church this week give me balance, but then I breathe a sigh of relief when I can get back to my books. This is the quote - from The Unbearable Lightness of Being - that has me thinking about it in a different (pun intended) light:

Franz felt his book life to be unreal. He yearned for real life, for the touch of people walking side by side with him, for their shouts. It never occurred to him that what he considered unreal (the work he did in the solitude of the office or library) was in fact his real life, whereas the parades he imagined to be reality were nothing but theater, dance, carnival--in other words, a dream. (Pg. 100)


>164 Deern:: Nathalie, I really liked the quirkiness of the characters in The Elegance of the Hedgehog. The concierge Renee has a very short "chapter" in Gourmet Rhapsody as it takes place in the same setting. I think I would recommend Gourmet Rhapsody for the writing rather than the plot. It was pretty thinly plotted; basically more a collection of memories by and about a selfish man on his deathbed.

>165 msf59:: The weekend is shaping up nicely, Mark. We stopped by a garage sale on our walk this morning and Lucky came home with a free toy -- a stuffed animal which he is probably ripping to pieces as I type. I'd better go check on him.

>166 mldavis2:: Mike, I've learned to not pay too much attention to ratings unless I know the person who is doing the rating. Even then there can be differences. I know my ratings are highly subjective. I would be a terrible book critic because it is difficult to separate my feelings about a book and its actual merit.

>167 mckait:: Thanks, Kath, for illustrating my point to Mike so well. There were a few things in Night Circus that didn't set well with me so I lowered the rating accordingly. On the other hand, I loved parts of it. I'm such a wishy-washy reader some days. If I had read it in a different mood, I might have loved it as much as you and others did.

>168 Deern:: Nathalie, my own take on Lightness is that it is a better historical and philosophical book than one about relationships. I think he used the infidelity as a vehicle for his political ideas. Still pondering...

>169 BLBera:: Hi Beth, I too get most of my new books from the library. I don't mind waiting for a book because I have plenty of my own to keep me busy in the meantime. Hmmm...it seems I have a sort of balance in my reading life too. The best of both worlds!

172Donna828
May 19, 2012, 10:33am Top

>170 -Cee-:: Hi Cee, I took way too long on my responses and missed you. But then I did have to check up on Lucky. His new stuffed puppy is still intact.

There is no way you're getting kicked off the island! Things will settle down for you soon I hope. In the meantime, take care of Mom...and yourself. I am having a Merry time in May but June will soon be busting out all over with new adventures...in both of my worlds. I'm still reflecting on what real life means to me.

173mldavis2
May 19, 2012, 11:12am Top

As I am continually adding books to my 'to-obtain' list, I am trying to be careful to 'vet' them before inclusion. I often go to used bookstores with my printed list because I can't always remember which authors to look for, or when I do, which books I wanted to find. But adding books is too easy, and the list quickly runs out of paper in the printer, so I'm picky and rely on friends for recommendations and avoidances.

I almost never buy a new hardback. I'll wait for the paperback. The library is seldom an option because our local library funding is very poor and they seldom have money to purchase new titles, we are continuing to cut even more each year, and all of the bond issues to support the library fail in our 'no new taxes' climate. The only option for me, then, is an inter-library loan out here in the boonies, or a Kindle download which my wife does frequently.

You can also find some decent reviews in the monthly Book Review paper at the library or bookstores, and I've relied on the NY Times book review section for professional opinions on new releases. I have not been especially lucky in obtaining pre-release or ARC copies from LT or GR as there are just too many people now who solicit them and chances continue to dwindle.

However, that isn't a complaint, I realize, as I sit here and view my unread pile of books that, if stacked up, would be about five feet high.....

174Donna828
May 19, 2012, 3:07pm Top

Mike, you might consider moving to Springfield. We have a first class library system here in Greene County. I might have to wait a bit to read the new books but as you pointed out, there is plenty to read while waiting. A five foot stack of TBRs. Heavenly!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~​



I found these gems on Page 55: "If you go to a cesspit, you're bound to see some maggots."
"Politics is like dice: the better the player, the worse the man."

Book No. 44: Heartstone by C. J. Sansom. 3.8 stars.


In the fifth Matthew Shardlake mystery, Sansom once again shows the corruption of the reign of Henry VIII through the cases of a shrewd yet compassionate hunchback attorney. This time Matthew is juggling two cases related by proximity. Time is of the essence because of the impending invasion by France in Potsmouth where Matthew and Barak go to sort out the secret of the Hobbey family at the request of Queen Catherine Parr and to find out why Ellen Fettiplace has been held at Bedlam Asylum without cause for almost twenty years.

As usual, murder follows Matthew on his journeys. He doesn't shy away from danger as he meticulously solves his cases. The first half of the book is ploddingly slow; however, once things start to come together in the last 150 pages, it becomes a real life interruptor.

175cushlareads
May 19, 2012, 3:25pm Top

Donna, I'm catching up at last, and adding Gourmet Rhapsody to my wishlist - I loved TEOTH.

I have Heartstone here somewhere - I tried finding it last night because I am in the mood for something like it - but I can't find it on the bookshelves. I started it before we left Switzerland but it was when we were getting ready to come home and I didn't get far enough into it. It definitely started off more slowly than the first 4...good to see it picks up.

176lit_chick
May 19, 2012, 6:23pm Top

Enjoyed your remarks on Heartstone, Donna : ). I have yet to get to these CJ Sansom books ... time, time! Loved the quote: "If you go to a cesspit, you're bound to see some maggots." It reminded me of an expression one of my friends uses on occasion: "If you fly with the crows, you're bound to get shot."

177brenzi
May 19, 2012, 6:46pm Top

Oh Donna I will never catch up with you and Matthew Shardlake. I have Revelation up next but need to put some time between that and Bring Up the Bodies; too many Tudors at one time is not good.

178thornton37814
May 19, 2012, 9:13pm Top

I just finished the second Shardlake, so it will take me awhile to get to number 5. I don't like to read books in series too close to one another.

179Chatterbox
May 20, 2012, 12:38am Top

Aha, a new Kundera fan is born? I've never seen the film version, and it's been a loooong time since I read The Unbearable Lightness of Being, so maybe it's time for a re-read?? I'm fascinated by the fact that after he moved to Paris and started writing in French, his books seemed to change their nature -- they are shorter and more -- French?? Oblique? I love Slowness, but it won't be a book for everyone.

What I like about LT is that we all have somewhat different reactions to what we read; the only thing I dislike is the rare occasions when someone insists that something that others have enjoyed is a "bad" book, which strikes me as overly dismissive of the opinions that others have, and their ability to read and judge. I'm trying to be more conscious of that, and to identify what it is that I didn't like about a book and why, so that someone reading it can judge whether that's what annoys them. For instance, I loathe the way Carolly Erickson plays fast and loose with historical fact in her "historical entertainments" and think it's inexcusable -- I may not understand that others find it amusing, but.... It's not going to change my view of it, but to declare a book unworthy in absolute terms -- to make my opinion the ultimate judge? Well, I know how I hate it when others do that, whether they are insisting that everyone should share their view on what is brilliant and what is garbage.

Phew, OK, now that I've got that off my chest -- does anyone know when the next Shardlake is due out?? I may have to mosey over to Amazon.co.uk and see what I can discover... Meanwhile, for the Shardlake-deprived, you might try reading an Elizabeth series by Rory Clements featuring William Shakespeare's brother as sleuth. It's more action-oriented and less cerebral than Shardlake, but still a good series -- IMO, at least, worth trying one from the library to see if they'll fill the Shardlake gap. Oh, and Sansom wrote a stand-alone book, A Winter in Madrid, set in the Spanish Civil War. I have it and keep meaning to read it...

180Linda92007
May 20, 2012, 7:53am Top

The Shardlake series sounds entertaining. I am not familiar with C.J. Sansom but will now check to see if our library has this. Thanks for introducing me to him, Donna.

181Carmenere
May 20, 2012, 7:54am Top

Hi Donna, I see you've posted one of the many good quotes from TULoB. I've borrowed the movie from the library and will probably watch it this week. It will be interesting to see how the book was adapted to film.
I think it will time me longer than usual to write anything about the book. I have so much to say and all that comes out is jibberish.

I have A Winter in Madrid as well. Bought it at a library booksale but the Shardlake's are hard to come by.

Have a wonderful Sunday.

182mckait
May 20, 2012, 8:03am Top

I am staying far away from any new series books right now.
I have a stack of must reads cause I owe reviews on my table, and I have been
heavily into want to reads, just because. When I finish fire I will do my duty and
read. review. read another. :P

183BLBera
May 20, 2012, 8:41am Top

I'm almost tempted to try Samson again -- I read the first book years ago and it didn't work for me...

So, what's next Donna?

184mldavis2
May 20, 2012, 9:04am Top

It is a bit frustrating not to be winning many Early Reviewers books, but the upside is that I can delve into more of my own choices, although my picks of ERs are chosen carefully as well. I am all caught up on reviews for LT now, which is refreshing in a way.

#182 mckait > I, too, try to avoid starting book series, which seem to be proliferating with the increase in eBook authors trying to get you 'hooked' on the first one. My exceptions might be mysteries since they seldom tie together and are usually resolved within each book, but then I don't seem to be reading many mysteries, either, lately.

185Donna828
May 20, 2012, 10:10am Top

175: Cushla! It's great to see you here. Your semester must be over. I'll pop in to your thread soon. I hope you find your copy of Heartstone. It wasn't my favorite of the series, but it's always interesting to spend time with Matthew Shardlake.

176: I wake up to the raucous cawing of crows many mornings so I quite understand your friend's maxim. Nancy. I've enjoyed learning about Tudor England through Sansom's stories as I find it a bit of a struggle when it comes to straight history books.

177: Bonnie, I agree with that thought about 'too many Tudors' yet I'm eager to read Bring Up the Bodies. It is a 7-star book after all!

178: So true, Lori. And then when you get caught up in a series, the wait for a new book can seem interminable.

179: I won't consider myself a Kundera fan until I've read more of his works, Suz...and I'll have to space them out so my brain doesn't explode! Joe recommended The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. Have you read that one? I AM a fan of his memorable book titles!
I so agree with your thoughts on the mostly nonjudgmental nature of the 75ers. We can disagree about a book in a most mature manner. I like that.
No clue about the next Sansom book and, yes, I will take a look at Winter in Madrid.

180: Linda, I hope there is another Sansom fan on LT. He's not for everybody. It took me awhile to warm up to an earnest hunchback lawyer, but I am used to his ways now and look forward to more political intrigue in upcoming books.

181: Hey Lynda, I'm not sure I want to see the movie. I'll wait to hear about your reaction. I'm also looking forward to more thoughts from you on Unbearable Lightness. Such a powerful book.

182: "read, review, read..."
That says it all, Kath!

183: Beth, I stayed up late reading The White Mary. It reminds me of State of Wonder with a Papua New Guinea setting. I may finish it today if my 'other' life doesn't interfere.

184: Mike, as you know, there is a lot of competition for those ER books. I have better success if I only request one out of the batch. Don't give up. It's fun getting those free books!

186mks27
May 20, 2012, 11:06am Top

Hello Donna, I am just stopping by to catch up with your reading and say hi.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being has pricked my interest, great review by the way. I am reading Madeleine Albright's new book, Prague Winter, which is both about her family and a history of Czechoslovakia, mostly in the 20th century. Reading a fictional account might be interesting after this history.

187mldavis2
May 20, 2012, 2:43pm Top

#184, 185 Donna828 > I typically don't request very many ER books. I avoid romance, vampire, almost all sci-fi and fantasy (although I enjoy them), none in a continuous series, no political or religious preaching, and seldom from new authors who just happened to join LT in the past month. That leaves little but historical fiction and JPL (Just Plain Novels) of which there are very few.

188Chatterbox
May 20, 2012, 5:13pm Top

I just heard Albright talking on the radio about Prague Winter, which sounds fascinating. Sadly, she misquoted Chamberlain's famous comment about "a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing." Still, the idea endures even if not in those words -- e.g. Syria, large swathes of Africa, etc. etc.

189coppers
Edited: May 20, 2012, 9:50pm Top

Hi Donna - just wanted to drop in and say hello!

190Morphidae
May 21, 2012, 8:53am Top

I didn't like The Elegance of the Hedgehog but I wouldn't call it a bad book. Just not to my taste - too much philosophy and I didn't like the ending. I have rarely come across a truly bad book. Just not ones I care for. I have The Night Circus coming up soon on Mount TBR. While I'll try a book because of its popularity on LT, I don't have expectations as to whether I'll like it or not. It's been too uneven.

191Donna828
Edited: May 21, 2012, 9:06am Top

>186 mks27:: Michelle, it's good to "see" you. Now you've gotten me interested in Prague Winter. I don't read nearly as much nonfiction as I'd like to. I don't know...it seems like...work or school? The main character in the fiction book I just finished is from Czechoslovakia. I love those kinds of coincidences in my reading.

>187 mldavis2:: Mike you do some serious vetting of your books. I'm not into the types of books you pass over either. I like your description of JPN -- Just Plain Novels. Historical fiction is becoming my favorite subgenre.

>188 Chatterbox:: There are a lot of those "quarrels" going on in the world for sure. My latest fiction book tells of the emotional baggage carried around by those war reporters who try to make us aware of the state of war that goes on...and on.

>189 coppers:: Good morning, Joanne!

>190 Morphidae:: Oops, almost missed you, Morphy. It's so true that Elegance is one of those polarizing books - as is my latest read. Good luck with The Night Circus. I'm sure it has more fans than disgruntled readers like me. I was mostly put off with the "romance" which also seemed overdone in The White Mary.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~​


"Tobo considers the white mary. He can easily read a person's energy, and hers is unusual and complex. This one, he feels certain, has a relationship with darkness. In his opinion, most white people do. The whiter their skin, the more they seem to attract unwholesome spirits; they're like bright flames that attract moths during the night. But she's unique in that she has great will." (Pg. 11)

Book No. 45: The White Mary by Kira Salak. 4 stars.


Marika is in Papua New Guinea searching for fellow journalist Robert Lewis whom everyone else believes is dead. She is known as wait meri or White Mary, to the native Anasi people. Lewis is rumored to be living in a remote area which involves an arduous journey through the deep jungle. Marika is flatly told she will die if she attempts it, but she hears those words as a challenge rather than a deterrent.

This isn't a perfect book, and the story isn't unique, but I love a good adventure story with a strong woman protagonist so it was a winner for me. I was a little surprised to find a spiritual book that explores what it is like to feel abandoned by God. The author made me aware of the collective pain suffered by war reporters. Their memories of extreme cruelty and horror are not understood by those who haven't witnessed the atrocities they experience on their assignments. I liked the simple wisdom of Tobo, Marika's reluctant native guide: 'Your demons are never stronger than you."

Kira Salak has written two nonfiction books about her real-life experiences in Papua New Guinea and Africa. I'll give her NF a trial run so I can read the adventures that I like without the "extras" she provided in her fiction.

192jnwelch
May 21, 2012, 9:37am Top

Trying to catch up, Donna! Good quote from The Unbearable Lightness of Being (>171 Donna828:). Of course, I'm one of those who enjoys theater, dance, carnivals and dreams. :-)

White Mary sounds intriguing. I recently read Lost in Shangri-La, a fascinating nonfiction WWII book set in that part of the world, also with a strong real life female character.

193lit_chick
May 21, 2012, 12:35pm Top

Intriguing review of The White Mary, Donna. The author made me aware of the collective pain suffered by war reporters. Their memories of extreme cruelty and horror are not understood by those who haven't witnessed the atrocities they experience on their assignments.

194BLBera
May 21, 2012, 4:12pm Top

Hi Donna: I added White Mary to my list; it seems like one I would like.

195Linda92007
May 21, 2012, 5:28pm Top

Hi Donna. Very interesting review of The White Mary. I wonder how much it draws from her own experiences. I read Kira Salak's Four Corners: A Journey into the Heart of Papua New Guinea a good number of years ago and while I don't recall any details, I have a general recollection of it being enjoyable. Her other NF book does also look interesting. I love travel narratives.

196EBT1002
May 22, 2012, 1:31am Top

170> I am living in terror. So afraid I will be kicked off the "LT Island" (so to speak) for my lack of serious reading and keeping up with threads.
Ain't happening, Cee.

Donna, I continue to enjoy the occasional stop by your thread, to see what you've read most recently. It's unpredictable. I like that. :-)

197Chatterbox
May 22, 2012, 2:38am Top

What Ellen said, Cee. Pshaw. Balderdash.

That looks like an intriguing book... Certainly I've seen that thousand-yard stare in the eyes of some war correspondents. Was staying with a friend in the Middle East once who tried to convince me it was actually really hard to get shot covering a war. He believed what he was saying.

198Porua
May 22, 2012, 2:58am Top

# 171 Love the quote from The Unbearable Lightness of Being! It's so true. But I'm afraid if I say this most my colleagues (and some of my friends) may finally cart me away to the loony bin! ;-)

199souloftherose
May 22, 2012, 4:26am Top

Hi Donna. It looks like we had similar feelings about Heartstone. I'm also been impatiently searching the internet to see if there's any news about another Shardlake book but I haven't found anything so far :-(

The Unbearable Lightness of Being is a book I would like to read one day, but not right now.

200Carmenere
May 22, 2012, 6:05am Top

Hey Donna, I think the cover of The White Mary is really awesome. The story itself sounds like an intereswting read, so thanks, on to the wishlist.

201mldavis2
Edited: May 22, 2012, 7:02am Top

#193 lit_chick > The White Mary sounds a bit like the biography of Ernie Pyle, WWII journalist, who struggled with his attempts to document the soldiers on the front lines, both from their perspective and his own. It lacks the racial bias unless you consider the enemy a separate race, which is how we so often rationalize killing in battle.

202mckait
May 22, 2012, 8:42am Top

White Mary looks good to me, too!

just trying to t=catch up :)

203Donna828
Edited: May 22, 2012, 9:25am Top

I'm not keeping up with my thread very well these days.

Joe - theater, dance, carnivals, and dreams make life so much fun. I'm looking forward to going to Tent Theater this summer at Missouri State. It's the 50th anniversary, and some of our former stars are coming to visit: John Goodman, Kathleen Turner, Tess Harper. No Brad Pitt, though. He's a local boy who went away to school.
I must borrow my husband's copy of Lost in Shangri-La.

Nancy - Thanks, it's a great book if you like jungles!

Beth - one of these days we'll actually read those books we keep recommending to each other!

Linda - according to the author interview at the end of White Mary, it is fairly biographical. I'm happy to get a first-hand go ahead on Four Corners. I'm also a fan of travel narratives which is strange because I'm not a good traveler!

Ellen - no book ruts for me!

Suzanne - I hope your friend continues to be safe. I think it would be difficult to witness atrocities without being able to do anything to help. Terrible news from Yemen yesterday.

Porua - just think of how many books you could read in "the loony bin"!

Heather - we'll just have to be patient together. I'm glad Sansom is taking his time with the next one, but two years? I guess I'll read his Madrid book...and then there's the new Mantel...

Lynda - I like that cover too. There should have been a mosquito on it; it's a very itchy book!

Mike - the Ernie Pyle bio sounds good. The war correspondent aspect of White Mary was part of the backstory. The book reminded me so much of State of Wonder. Both women had to face incredible hardships in their searches for missing men.

Kath - Good morning, you do well on keeping up with everyone!

I'm off for my morning walk. It's jacket weather again this morning even at this "late" hour. DH is off on short trip so I have the luxury of waiting for a little warmth from the sun.

204klobrien2
May 22, 2012, 3:18pm Top

Whew! Just caught up with you through several threads! You've been doing some great reading! I've started Unbearable Lightness, but don't know how far I'll get (at least this month). I personally really like the Julia Spencer-Fleming novels. (I've reread them just this past year).

Karen O.

205nittnut
May 22, 2012, 4:05pm Top

Waving hello - passing through.

206DeltaQueen50
May 22, 2012, 11:14pm Top

Hi Donna, it appears that you liked The White Mary more than I. Although, I would like to try her non-fiction as I remember loving her descriptions of Papua New Guinea.

207Porua
May 23, 2012, 12:43am Top

# 203 "just think of how many books you could read in "the loony bin"!"

Hmmm...I hadn't considered that. Maybe everyone thinking I have finally gone totally bonkers isn't so bad after all! ;-)

208Whisper1
May 23, 2012, 8:34am Top

I join many in saying how much I enjoy your reviews! Sending hugs to you.

209RebaRelishesReading
May 23, 2012, 11:40am Top

Just finished Lot of Candles, Plenty of Cake and loved it. Thanks for the tip :-)

210AnneDC
May 23, 2012, 12:46pm Top

Hi Donna! Well, I'm way behind, and a lot of books have gone by, but I had to laugh at the stories of retrieving children from college--and remembering what I put my own parents through! I was allowed to store stuff at school over the summers so we only had to pack up the car once--right after graduation. As we were leaving the ceremony, my stepfather muttered to my aunt "I hope this is quick so we don't get stuck in rush hour traffic going through New York." When we got to my room, my aunt laughed and said "I don't think you really have to worry about rush hour." I hadn't packed a thing! (too busy saying goodbye to people and savoring the last few moments of school) Pictures still on the walls, clothes still in the drawers, sheets still on the bed, and I had to task my sister with returning stacks of books to the library before we could go. This is of course legendary now, and my younger siblings were all responsible for getting themselves home from school.

211Deern
Edited: May 23, 2012, 1:59pm Top

Passing through and *waving* while waiting for my Kundera copy. Love the quote, although it's a bit scary. So true...

212lauralkeet
May 23, 2012, 2:56pm Top

>210 AnneDC:: oh, that's a GREAT story, Anne! My (freshman) daughter's room was in a similar state. She stored some stuff, like bedding and winter clothes, but still brought home a lot. And I predict this pile of stuff will somehow multiply & grow over the summer, like cell division or The Blob or something.

213Donna828
Edited: May 23, 2012, 3:17pm Top

>204 klobrien2:: Hi Karen, good to see you. I think I will concentrate on catching up with the Julia Spencer-Fleming series this summer. Only five books to go. ;-)

Jenn- I thought I felt a gentle breeze as you passed through here.

Judy - the reviews were a mixed bag for sure. If I didn't like that kind of story so much, I probably wouldn't have been as generous with my stars for The White Mary.

Porua - I'm always thinking about more opportunities to read...no matter where I can carve out a little more time.

Linda - Thank you for the hugs and compliment. I hope work is slowing down for you. It must be if you're out visiting.

Reba - You are welcome. I'm glad you liked the Quindlen book. I plan to read more of her essay collections.

Anne - That was a funny story. I think last-minute packing (and returning books) is the norm for freshmen. At least with your daughter attending college on the other side of the country, you won't have to worry about packing too much for the plane going home.

Nathalie - Hi there! I'm glad Lynda and I convinced you to read The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Looking forward to your take on it.

Hi Laura - you caught me writing about one of your favorites!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~​

Well, I succumbed to LT peer pressure again with good results. I read and liked my first book by Elizabeth Taylor. I read the only one my library stocks. I hope to find some more at the Kansas City book sale coming up in June or I will have to borrow from another library.


Here is Angel's publisher's first impression: "I remember the first time she came to the office. It was a hot day and she was tired and dusty and bewildered; but, all the same, vain and indomitable.
She was born like it, I swear. I can see her howling herself rigid in her cradle. They are never happy, these sports which ordinary, humble people throw off: they belong nowhere and are insatiable." (76, 77)

Book No. 46: Angel by Elizabeth Taylor. 3.75 stars.


Darn, only a few reviews on this one... Here is the review I posted on the book's page:

Angel is no angel! Her fantasies of being a wealthy heiress instead of the daughter of a shopkeeper remove her so far from reality that she is alienated from others. Even her teachers believe her writing is plagiarized because of her reputation as a dreamer and pathological liar. Her writing is her means of escape from an ordinary life in early 20th Century England, and she leaves school to spend her days living out her imagination in the overwritten stories she writes in her notebooks.

Lo and behold, she gets a publishing company interested in her novel about Lady Irania, although the editors were uncertain as to whether it was "genius or lunacy" that had one of the wives devouring "every iridescent word." They decide to take a chance on an untested 16-year-old writer with an overblown imagination and a penchant for obscure words. Her books sell but for all the wrong reasons. Critics see humor where she intended literary greatness. They become "party pieces" and objects of scorn in the literary world.

Angelica Deverell is one of the most unappealing characters I've come across in many years of reading. Yet the story of her grandiosity and superior attitude is so tantalizing that I read as eagerly as her lowbrow audience gobbled up the gibberish she wrote.

Elizabeth Taylor writes like an angel. I didn't expect to enjoy reading about pitiful characters leading dismal lives as much as I did. I look forward to reading more books by her.

214ErisofDiscord
May 23, 2012, 3:22pm Top

Oh, dear. Am I going to succumb to LT pressure as well? That sounded... interesting! Must. Hold. Out. Must. Not. Add. To. Growing. List...

Who am I kidding? Requesting from the library!

215tymfos
May 23, 2012, 3:47pm Top

Hi, Donna! I'm so far behind, I'm forced to skim the posts. You've done some interesting reading.

I, too, like the fact that our group allows people to have different tastes in books and not get snarky because someone has a different opinion of a book. To me, that's part of the appeal of our discussions -- seeing so many points of view!

216brenzi
May 23, 2012, 7:33pm Top

Elizabeth Taylor does write like an angel Donna. I have my third teed up to read after I finish the book I'm now reading. Her writing is just so well done and she manages to accomplish a lot even though not an awful lot goes on in her stories.

217EBT1002
May 23, 2012, 7:58pm Top

I bought my first Elizabeth Taylor today: Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont. It was the only one they had on the shelves during today's big sale at the U Bookstore.....
I hope it's the right Elizabeth Taylor.....

218lit_chick
May 23, 2012, 8:15pm Top

Donna, thumb for a wonderful review of Angel. Sounds delightful!

219-Cee-
May 23, 2012, 8:55pm Top

Hi Donna!
So far behind - so much great reading here and fun stories.
Can I count this thread as a book? lol

220lauralkeet
May 23, 2012, 9:53pm Top

Oh excellent. I haven't read Angel yet but will do so during July, the month for the ET Centenary readalong. So I didn't read your review Donna, but saw enough to see you enjoyed the book and Taylor's writing. Yay!

221coppers
May 24, 2012, 11:20pm Top

Hi Donna, I've also succombed to LT Elizabeth Taylor buzz and bought a copy of A View of the Harbour. Weak, I'm so weak...Angel sounds good, too.

222Donna828
May 25, 2012, 10:22am Top

Thread neglect yesterday...I'm blaming Painter of Silence...

Eris - Ha ha... I'm glad you are getting your Elizabeth Taylor from the library. That way I won't feel guilty if she doesn't appeal to you.

Terri - No snarkiness among 75ers. I like that. I think we're too busy dodging book bullets!

Bonnie - once again you are setting the pace for me. I think my biggest hurdle will be getting ahold of her books. It looks like I have a good excuse to make a used bookstore run if I don't have success in KC on June 14.

Ellen - Lucky you, and yes, that is a bona fide ET title. Our library has the film DVD so if I get a copy of the book I can easily watch the movie afterward.

Nancy - Thank you for the thumb. I've been a lazy reviewer lately, only posting a review if one seems needed on the book page.

Cee - I'll make a deal with you. If you count my thread as a book read, then I get to count yours. I can just see it now. No books getting read - just people talking about the books they want to read! LOL.

Laura - You are the main reason I had to read my first Elizabeth Taylor book. Now I'm hooked.

Joanne - thanks for rescuing my thread. A View of the Harbour is the one I'll request from another library if I don't find a copy to purchase. I think we're all weak when it comes to book recommendations.

223mks27
Edited: May 25, 2012, 10:52am Top

Ok, so I think I need to look into Elizabeth Taylor, as I have never heard of her or her work. I am always looking for new writers and this one seems to have the whole writing thing down.

Back for an edit...I appears I have at least one of her books in my library already, so I must have heard of her here on LT! Wow, I can't believe I didn't remember!

Back again, I am happy to report that Barnes & Noble has Taylor's A Game of Hide and Seek in Nook book format, which has been purchased and is now loaded on my nook!!

224jnwelch
May 25, 2012, 10:58am Top

You know, Ellen, I kept thinking I need to try Elizabeth Taylor based on all the positive LT comments. I forgot she wrote Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont. I loved that book!

225lauralkeet
May 25, 2012, 1:42pm Top

Basking in all the E Taylor fandom. I'm happy to see more people enjoying her work. She's an author I never would have discovered without LT.

226billiejean
May 25, 2012, 6:30pm Top

Donna, I am all behind on your thread again. Send me a message about the meetup and I will see if I can come. I haven't been to KC in a long time. :)

227Donna828
May 26, 2012, 10:25am Top

>223 mks27:: Michelle, that is so funny. You were a fan of Elizabeth Taylor and didn't even know it! I hope you like A Game of Hide and Seek. Great title!

>224 jnwelch:: Joe, you seem to be another clandestine ET fan.

>225 lauralkeet:: Same here, Laura. When people (you and Bonnie) started talking about Elizabeth Taylor books, I was thinking "National Velvet" and not too enthused. Thanks for educating me.

>226 billiejean:: Welcome home, BJ! I hope you can join us on June 14 and/or June 15 at The Kansas City MeetUp. We're planning a hot time at the book sale with a cool-down second day in nearby Lawrence, Kansas. All LTers are wecome!

228BLBera
May 26, 2012, 10:27am Top

Donna: I was in the used bookstore yesterday and guess what jumped out at me? That Hideous Strength, Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra were all sitting on the shelf together -- so I took it as a sign that I have to read some C. S. Lewis soon.

229Donna828
Edited: May 26, 2012, 11:04am Top

>228 BLBera:: Oh, Beth, lucky you! Keep in mind that these books are science fiction and not your typical Lewis books. I WILL find the first two and read the trilogy soon. How's that for wishful thinking?


"Though he has seen photographs of cities he has never been in one before. In the dusk as the train came in it looked monochrome as the photos: black smears of road, grey wallks, grey buildings angled across the sides of hills. The buildings appeared singly at first then massed, most of them solid but some hollow so that he could see through them to the sky as it darkened." (opening lines)

Book No. 47: Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding. 4.3 stars.


I feel extremely lucky to have downloaded this book on my iPad. It has disappeared as a Kindle offering in the U.S. What's up with that? The other two reviews on the main page give more info than my short review:

Georgina Harding uses tones of grey to paint her bleak picture of deafness and disconnection in a world gone mad. Grey armies, grey skies, and grey faces all represent the silence before and after the storm of WWII in Romania. The color in all this grimness comes through the drawings of a deaf/mute young man and the bond of friendship. Augustin (Tinu) goes to the city to seek refuge from his utterly chaotic life with his childhood friend Safta. They are reunited in the hospital where Safta works as a nurse and where Tinu almost dies.

This is a quiet book that speaks volumes about isolation. Events unfold slowly but surely as Tinu relates the horror of war in the only way he can - through his pictures of despair. "When Tinu drew a room he drew it empty. He drew it as it was but somehow what you saw was not the room but its emptiness. With a door you saw the opening. When he drew a pitchfork left learning against the barn wall you saw its abandonment." I grew to love this spellbinding book and highly recommend it to enthusiasts of literary historical fiction.

Edited to turn off the bold print!

230AnneDC
May 26, 2012, 11:25am Top

Great review Donna! I loved this one too and your description really does it justice. Off to see if I can find it to thumb. I also downloaded it to my Kindle early on and never thought it would be my only chance.

231lit_chick
May 26, 2012, 11:55am Top

Thumb for an excellent review of Painter of Silence, Donna. This is a quiet book that speaks volumes about isolation and your descriptions of grey armies, try skies, and grey faces ... these speak volumes to me.

Odd that the book has disappeared from Kindle? Off to check to see if it's available for download in Canada through Kobo - it's not. Hmm.

232RebaRelishesReading
May 26, 2012, 12:19pm Top

You all have talked about Elizabet Taylor so much I"m convinced. I, too, originally thought about the actress and was puzzled by your enthusiasm. I just put Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont on my Kindle.

233lauralkeet
May 26, 2012, 1:36pm Top

>227 Donna828:: I have to admit I thought Elizabeth Taylor (actor) was rather sweet in National Velvet ...

234Smiler69
May 26, 2012, 2:10pm Top

Hi Donna, I enjoyed and thumbed your latest two reviews of Angel and Painter of Silence. I almost didn't read the former as I have it on my shelves and intend to read it soon, though at the moment I'm reading A Game of Hide and Seek. I'm not doing it justice because reading in bed only these days and too tired to get beyond a few pages at a time, but appreciating it all the same. Darryl spoke highly of Painter of Silence which landed it on my wishlist, but I added you as a recommender in my tags now. Hopefully it'll turn up at the library eventually or I may have to purchase it...

Wish I could join your upcoming meet up. I'll be with you in spirit!

235cushlareads
May 26, 2012, 2:22pm Top

Good morning Donna! I want to get back to Painter of Silence but I wasn't in the right mood - I am about 70 pages into it and was enjoying it but not wanting to pick it up (does that even make sense? Maybe to you guys on here, not to most people!)

And I enjoyed your review of Angel. The VMC group's reading Elizabeth Taylor year has been one of the LT things that I wanted to do in 2012, but it hasn't happened - I am finding myself reading whatever I feel like at the time even more than in less busy years, which isn't really surprising. But I've just pulled both Angel and Hester Lilly off the green shelves of Viragoes and am going to put them in the enormous pile next to the bed!

236brenzi
May 26, 2012, 10:13pm Top

Well how do you like that Donna? Only a few lucky people get Painter of Silence and the rest of us have to wait until.....January?? Arrgghh! And your review makes it sound just so dark and......good. And I just happen to be in Romania in WWII right now in The Balkan Trilogy.

Thumbs up!

237nittnut
May 26, 2012, 10:53pm Top

Ignoring the book by ET...

I remember being so tired after my freshman year of college that I slept the entire 11 hour drive back home. On top of finals, we had a white glove cleaning inspection before we left for the summer. I moved all my stuff to storage before going home for the summer every year. It made packing to go home pretty easy.
Another year, my dad picked me up from school and took me to my uncle's farm in Idaho on the way home. While there he decided to get me a bum lamb, just for fun. I had to feed it - just like a baby - at 10, 2, 6... It would come to my bedroom window and baaaa in the night when it was hungry. I was not too happy with my dad that summer. My brother named it Lambchop and our Basset hound made friends with it. They would sleep together. Hilarious.

238Carmenere
May 27, 2012, 7:29am Top

Happy Sunday, Donna! I too I'm ignoring the book by ET. I can not, can not, can not, get involved.
Painter of Silence sounds good too but take another look at my previous sentence. :0)

239mckait
May 27, 2012, 7:48am Top

Hmmm not doing so ell at keeping up lately!
Painter of Silence looks good. Great score on your part :)
In fact Angel looks good too, both the one you read and the incorrectly
touchstoned one lower down :)

Hope your weekend is a good one !

240msf59
May 27, 2012, 8:08am Top

Donna- Just swinging through to say hi! Hope you are enjoying the holiday weekend!

241Deern
May 27, 2012, 10:45am Top

Sounds like a very interesting book, and it is still available for Kindles registered in Italy. It goes on the WL for now.

Have a good long weekend!

242RebaRelishesReading
May 27, 2012, 7:04pm Top

Deern, your comment about Kindles "registered in Italy" makes me wonder...how do you do that? can you do it while living in the US? and, if so, will the books actually make it to your Kindle? I'm asking because there's a book in Dutch that I'd love to get but have been unable to get either in Kindle or in paper from Amazon.

243Donna828
Edited: May 27, 2012, 8:05pm Top

I hope everyone is having a good week end. It's way too hot and dry here for me. I'm waiting for the next cool front to get back to some much-needed yard work. I got the hose and sprinkler out today to water my perennial garden. The birds and butterflies are enjoying a refreshing shower! It's the first time I remember doing that in May. We usually don't have such dry weather until later in the summer.

230: Anne - I kind of like being in a select group for Painter of Silence. I'm usually lagging behind everyone else.

Nancy, I'm surprised Painter is not available in Canada. I wonder what the hold up is.

Reba, I'm always glad when I find a new author to love. It looks like we have several good books in store for future reading.

Laura, I like E. Taylor as an actress; I just didn't want to read a book written by her. I was glad to find out they are (were) two separate people with talents in different fields.

Ilana - thanks for those thumbs! It would be so great to be able to meet up with you someday. In the meantime, we'll stay connected in spirit through shared books.

Cushla, I do get what you're saying about Painter of Silence. It is a slow moving book, especially at the beginning. I'm glad to hear you have an Angel by your bedside. ;-)

Bonnie, Romania is a happening place these days. I think Painter of Silence is due to be released in the states in September...unless they've changed their minds again.

Jenn - Thanks for the comic relief. That is a very funny story about your little lamb! I guess your dad didn't want you to be bored that summer. Lol.

Lynda, please feel free to stop by anytime and ignore my books. ;-) I think we were both done in by The Unbearable Lightness of Being!

Kath and Mark, I'm having a very lazy week end. Typing these responses is the most productive I've been in two days!

Nathalie, it's good to know people in Italy can still read Painter of Silence!

Reba, that is so interesting that you want to read a Dutch book. Maybe The Netherlands should be your next vacation destination, although you'll probably have to leave the RV at home. *grin*

Well, as I mentioned, I'm being very relaxed this week end. I did go see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel yesterday and was not disappointed. There seems to be hope for us old (but beautiful) people after all!

244coppers
May 27, 2012, 9:46pm Top

Hi Donna! We saw The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel last weekend and loved it!

245LizzieD
May 27, 2012, 11:02pm Top

OH my goodness! You've been busy on the book front, Donna! I'm waiting to read Revelation until *BUtB* wears off a little too.
I'm thrilled that you like E. Taylor. She's a favorite, and I take comments about her personally. If you liked Angel, I think you're well and truly hooked. It is one of my least favorites. I have Painter of Silence on my Kindle, so it's coming up soon. How dare they pull it in the US?!?!?
The leaving college for the summer stories remind me of the painful year that I left two bags of my favorite winter clothes in the attic of the dorm after my junior year - I had had mono that spring and was still recovering and not thinking about anything but getting home. They gave them away. I still get a little ill thinking about it.

246RebaRelishesReading
May 28, 2012, 2:36am Top

Saying we would have to leave the RV home to visit the Netherlands reminds me of a joke the father of a high school friend used to make. He often said he'd like to go to Catalina (island off the coast of L.A.) except his Mercedes would get the Benz. Actually I lived in the Netherlands for 7 years and speak Dutch but it's a struggle to keep it alive since I hardly ever get to speak it. The book looked interesting and it would be a chance to "practice"...it's beginning to look like I'll have to go there to get it though :-)

We saw Best Exotic Marigold Hotel yesterday too. What a cast -- several of my favorites and the story was fun too. Keep on enjoying the weekend -- hope the weather cools down for you.

247EBT1002
Edited: May 28, 2012, 2:59am Top

So, Painter of Silence is only available electronically? Rats.

Looking forward to reading Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont. :-)

eta: 246> I can't wait to see that movie -- the cast is full of my favorites!

248EBT1002
May 28, 2012, 2:59am Top

Hey, there are two message #246s.....

249Morphidae
May 28, 2012, 8:15am Top

I'm looking forward to seeing The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel once it comes out on DVD. I love Maggie Smith and Dame Dench.

250Linda92007
May 28, 2012, 8:51am Top

Nice review of Painter of Silence, Donna. Add me to the list of those impatiently waiting for it to again become available. It is so annoying when e-books are pulled like that. There is another that I downloaded a sample for and let it sit a bit too long. When I went back to purchase it, it was no longer available.

251countrylife
May 28, 2012, 2:12pm Top

Your Painter of Silence AND Angel both hit hot reviews! Cool!

252DeltaQueen50
May 28, 2012, 5:00pm Top

Hi Donna, just passing through to wish you a great weekend. No book bullets today, but a movie bullet - obviously I need to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel!

253jnwelch
May 28, 2012, 5:19pm Top

Glad you had a chance this weekend to be lazy and relax, Donna. Perfect.

254Donna828
May 28, 2012, 9:44pm Top

>244 coppers:: Yay! Another Marigold fan! Hope you had a restful week end, Joanne.

Hi Peggy, I'm glad I just have kind things to say about Elizabeth Taylor since you take comments about her personally. Also glad to know that her other books are even better than Angel. It was hard to like her, but I did feel sorry for her as she got older. Ack! That is a sad story about your clothes in college.

Reba - another Marigold fan. I can't imagine anyone not liking that movie. I think even young people would like the romance of the Indian couple. How cool that you used to live in The Netherlands. Work? School? Dutch uncle? Ha ha...I can tell lame jokes, too. ;-)

Ellen - Painter of Silence was once upon a time available electronically, but alas, no more. One of those mysteries of e-book distribution. Kinda like the message number mystery on LT. It's cleared up now, but I've run across double numbers lately, too.

Morphy - The cast was a dream to watch. Such rapport. In fact, it is a movie I would watch again and might check it out on DVD.

Linda, that must have been a shock, especially since you had the sample e-book. I think that should automatically reserve a copy. Do these people not want to make money?

Cindy - it has probably changed by now. That Angel has legs... she's been hopping on and off the hot list for a few days now. Thanks for the heads up. ;-)

Oh yeah, Judy, you need to join our little Marigold fan club over here. It is a fun - and poignant - movie. I predict with high certainty that you will like it.

Hi Joe, it sounds like you had a pretty good week end yourself. Helping daughters celebrate birthdays is one of life's joys.

255-Cee-
Edited: May 28, 2012, 10:03pm Top

Stopping by to say HI, Donna!
Angel going on the WL - I liked A View of the Harbour.
Looking forward to seeing "Marigold" too :)

256calm
May 29, 2012, 5:09am Top

I can answer one of the mysteries - the double post number happens when someone edits a post - it is only temporary next time you visit a page it will be back to normal.

257Donna828
May 29, 2012, 9:01am Top

Good morning, Cee and calm.

Cee, I definitely want to read View of the Harbour after reading all the wonderful recent reviews of it - including yours!

Calm, thank you for clearing up that little mystery for Ellen and me. I had to check it out for myself, and you are right on. You see, I'm from Missouri which is known as the Show-Me State!

We had a loud thunderstorm in the wee hours this morning. I didn't mind getting my sleep disrupted as it brought some very welcome rain and cooler temps to make my morning walk more pleasant. Now to tackle laundry and housework after three days of lazy living.

I finally got into The Secret Magdalene which I plucked off the TBR shelf to fit into TIOLI Challenge #6: "Read a fictional book based on a Bible story." I'm beginning to see why this one is highly rated on LT and has a 5-star rating on Amazon - out of 82 reviews!

258ronincats
May 29, 2012, 9:50am Top

One of the things I miss most about not being in the midwest is the lack of thunderstorms--I love those things!

Running off to check on The Secret Magdalene...

259Crazymamie
May 29, 2012, 3:01pm Top

Donna - Your thread won't stop moving!! I am trying to catch up, but I keep getting further behind. I decided to just pop down here to let you know that I was still following your thread! Hope you had a lovely holiday weekend and that your Tuesday is going well. Now, I'm going back up to the early 200s to try to make some headway.

260Donna828
May 29, 2012, 6:53pm Top

Hey there, Roni. Nothing beats a good thunderstorm but I can live without tornado warnings and high winds. This was the regular variety; lots of noise and light action with little punch!

Mamie, I thought the exact same thing when I caught up on your thread today. You move too fast! Golly, it's easy to get behind, isn't it?

I managed to read another book today since I didn't have the distraction of looking for new TIOLI books. This one is for Challenge #13: Read a book with a word related to gardening in the title:


Work, summer work was never finished...from light to dark and then some, from up to drop from beginning to beginning again, never an end. (17)

Book No. 48: Clabbered Dirt, Sweet Grass by Gary Paulsen. 3.6 stars.


Ah, life on a farm. Plowing, planting, praying for rain and luck… “So terribly much of it is luck that even when the weather is perfect, when a Sunday comes around, God is honored.” Picking, canning, eating… “The pie is religious, something from God.” Country dances, first love, sudden deaths of both people and animals… “Bread is good, but nothing runs without meat and there can be no meat without killing but nobody except the dog and the barn cats like it.” Farm life is not for the faint of heart, nor is this book with its graphic descriptions of farm accidents. The focus in this book is the small family farm that used to be much more common in past times.

Gary Paulsen writes about the hard work that never ends in such poetic language, it almost makes one long to live this quickly disappearing way of life. This is a nostalgic book complete with some lovely full-page paintings by the author’s wife of simple things found around the farm: chickens, children skinny-dipping in the local water hole, a rustic barn, and the corn shocks in the snow which can be seen in detail on the book cover. This book can be read in an afternoon and provided me with a trip down memory lane to good times spent as a child on the farm in Michigan owned by a relative and to the farm in Southwest Missouri where my husband grew up. Seeing how people used to make a living from the land through the harshness of the different seasons gives me a new appreciation for the men and women who settled our country by the strength of their backs and the hopes of better lives.

261lit_chick
May 29, 2012, 11:42pm Top

Thumb for an excellent review of Clabbered Dirt, Sweet Grass, Donna. Love your thought, Seeing how people used to make a living from the land through the harshness of the different seasons gives me a new appreciation for the men and women who settled our country by the strength of their backs and the hopes of better lives. Yes!

262mckait
May 30, 2012, 6:45am Top

Maybe that is what makes that book sound so appealing to me...
memories of days on my grandmothers farm. I immediately wanted to
read it when I saw you lovely review :)

263mldavis2
May 30, 2012, 8:21am Top

#260 Donna828 > Where do you come up with these titles? My wife was an Oklahoma/Texas farm girl growing up with hard work and poverty, so she relates to the era in which her parents struggled and survived and ultimately prospered to a degree. I've just finished reading a couple turn of the century books from the dust bowl and Montana so this one would fit in around the same era. Interesting, and always a good read when the author is a wordsmith.

264Crazymamie
May 30, 2012, 10:48am Top

See? Look at me keeping caught up on your thread! Very nice review of the Gary Paulsen book - he is one of my son's favorite authors.

265Donna828
May 30, 2012, 10:24pm Top

>261 lit_chick:: Thank you, Nancy! I admire farmers but I think the unending work would kill me. My husband thrives on hard work to this day. We make a good team. ;-)

Thanks, Kath. I was always happy to visit the farm and then go back to city life!

Mike, I probably picked up Clabbered Dirt, Sweet Grass at a book sale. I had my husband in mind but found out that I enjoyed the book very much. He hasn't read it yet.

Mamie, one of my favorite books by Gary Paulsen is Winterdance about the Iditarod. Has your son read that one yet? I think it's a good book for all ages.

266Donna828
Edited: May 31, 2012, 10:34pm Top


A description of the Alexandria library: "Ten huge marble halls filled from floor to ceiling with books, every book that has ever been written. And, everywhere scholars come from all the corners of the world, reading and writing and discussing and teaching. Oh! There is no describing the joy of this...It is a great feast, a feast of the gods...I cannot imagine choosing another life." (78)

Book No. 49: The Secret Magdalene by Ki Longfellow. 2.5 stars.


Huh...I was expecting a Biblical retelling along the lines of The Red Tent instead of a feminist DaVinci Code. At least The DaVinci Code was exhilarating. This book not only took artistic license to the max, it did it in a dreary manner. Okay, there were a few positive things about the book. I liked how the author put this fictionalized story of the Biblical Jesus into the period where mythology, philosophy, and history met. She did a good job of using the many zealots, magicians, and prophets of the day to build the tension and growing hysteria of the perceived threat both to Roman rule and Jewish Law.

*Spoilers Ahead that occur early in the book*...I knew I was in trouble when the red-headed Yehoshua (Jesus) had a twin brother Jude (Judas) in the story. Mariamne (Mary Magdalene) spends much of the book in disguise as a male named John. I'm not a fan of alternate history, but I did read this with an open mind. It wasn't a good fit for me which puts it firmly in my "Fair, but not for me" rating. It will go in my give-away box.

267brenzi
May 31, 2012, 10:42pm Top

2.5?? Yippee!! One I don't have to add. Thanks Donna. Now Clabbered Dirt Sweet Grass OTOH sounds very good indeed so onto the teetering tower it goes.

268Crazymamie
May 31, 2012, 10:42pm Top

So, no then. Good to know!

269countrylife
Jun 1, 2012, 9:48am Top

One of my boys was a Gary Paulsen fan in his younger days, so I've seen plenty of his books come through the doors, but I've never heard of Clabbered Dirt, Sweet Grass. Sounds like one I'd like, though, so I'm following brenzi's example and hefting it on up. Wonder how many teetering towers around here can be partially blamed on you?

270mckait
Edited: Jun 1, 2012, 9:54am Top

I actually have The Secret Magdalene, along with some other Magdalene books on my shelf.
I went to look when you mentioned it. I think I will like it more than you :) hope so !
I myownself live alternate history :)

eta.. I need to go and check, I think I have a bunch of books in my bedroom that never made it to LT

271BLBera
Jun 1, 2012, 11:24am Top

Donna: Sorry The Secret Magdalene was not a "good fit" for you. Better luck with the next read-- what do you have coming up?

272Donna828
Jun 1, 2012, 5:41pm Top

Hi to Bonnie, Mamie, Cindy, Kath, and Beth. I've been busy having fun on my new thread. Beth and Mamie have already stopped by. It's nice to have visitors, now if you could help me arrange my books...

Kath, I think you are right. You will probably be one of the many readers that loved The Secret Magdalene.

This topic was continued by Donna Juggles June Books (7).

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2012

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