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tymfos (Terri) 12 in 12 Golden Oldies Hit Parade Challenge -- side 2

The 12 in 12 Category Challenge

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Edited: Jun 8, 2012, 10:04pm Top

Welcome to my second 12-in-12 thread!

Tybee Island Lighthouse, near Savannah, GA

I define my categories in this way: any book that in any way relates to the title of the category is fair game to fit in. I've listed some ways books may fit, but other associations are valid, too.

I sincerely doubt that I'll manage 144 books; I'm starting out with 6 in each category, and will add on as time and available reading material allow.

Here are my Golden Oldies Hit Parade Categories and some ideas as to kinds of books that might fit each category.

1. American Pie - Don McLean (for all things USA)
2. Color My World - Chicago (world literature, world history, and books with colors in titles)
3. Jambalaya (On the Bayou) - Jo Stafford (James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux books will fit here, along with other books set around New Orleans or other bayou areas)
4. What's Goin' On? - Marvin Gaye (Current events and mysteries)
5. Help! -- The Beatles (disaster-related, and maybe some crime-related, books)
6. King of the Road - Roger Miller (Stephen King books would fit here; travel books might work, too; anything about royalty)
7. Spooky - Classics IV (self-explanatory)
8. On and On - Stephen Bishop (for series)
9. Doctor, Doctor - Thompson Twins (for books with a doctor in the house!)
10. Magical Mystery Tour - The Beatles (for more assorted mysteries)
11. The Winner Takes it All - Abba (sports & award-winning books)
12. Spirit in the Sky - Norman Greenbaum (religion/spirituality)
and also a catchall for things that don't fit:
Anything at All - The Beatles (miscellaneous)

OK, I'm defeating a lot of the point of categories by making so many of them easy to fit mysteries into. And I'm deliberately giving myself whole categories to allow me to catch up on favorite series & authors. But I don't like it when I really want to read a book and can't find a place to fit it into my challenge.
This is supposed to be fun.

I'm also doing the 75 challenge again, and the BOMBS (books off my book shelf) challenge

Edited: Sep 1, 2012, 11:38am Top

I've decided to do the "side challenge" of at least one book for each month that relates to the name, number, birthstone, or flower of the month -- either in the title or author (and, in at least one case, I'm probably using a series name).

January: Graveyard Dust: a Benjamin January Mystery by Barbara Hambly
February: The Civil War: A Narrative vol. 2, by Shelby Foote (2nd volume)
March: Red Bones by Ann Cleeves (third in series)
April: Blood Hollow by William Kent Krueger (4th in series)
May: Mercy Falls by William Kent Krueger (5th in series)
June: The Kindness of Strangers by Julie Smith (6th in series)
July: The Body in the Bog by Katherine Hall Page (7th in series)
August: Light in August by William Faulkner
September: A Weekend in September by John Edward Weems

I'll probably also continue to have monthly themes, or at least give special emphasis to certain topics in certain months. I'm almost certain of these ones:

January: First things First! (one by one)
February: February observances (two by two?)
March: Magnificent Mystery March (Three m's)
April: An Autism Awareness April (month four)
May: (most marvelous) May Murder & Mayhem (month five)
June & July: Fill In the Blanks months (months 6 & 7)
August: Anything Goes August (month 8)
September: Series & Sequels & Sureal September (month 9)
October: Halloween Read for October (month 10)
November: Numerical November (month 11)
December: Holiday Dinners and Other December Disasters (month 12)

Edited: May 28, 2012, 10:54pm Top

I'm going to try to provide most of the following as a heading for each book, as applicable:


Copyright/Year of original publication:
Dates Read:
Number of pages:
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?:
Category for 12 in 12 challenge:
How does it fit the category?
Alternate category
Why did I read this now?
My Rating:

Edited: Aug 22, 2012, 11:23pm Top

glitter-graphics.comCategory 1: American Pie

1 A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd
2 Wishin' and Hopin' by Wally Lamb
3 The Civil War: A Narrative Vol. 2 by Shelby Foote
4 Appalachia: A Self-Portrait ed. by Wendy Ewald
5 Sherman's March by Burke Davis
6 State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy

completed initial goal of 6 in category

7 Three Months in the Southern States by Col. Arthur James Lyon Fremantle (E-BOOK)
8. Light in August by William Faulkner (E-Book)

Edited: Sep 14, 2012, 7:19pm Top

Category 2: Color My World

1. Winter Blues: Seasonal Affective Disorder: What it is and How to Overcome It, by Norman E. Rosenthal
2. Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon (Italy)
3. Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie (England) AUDIO
4. The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill
5. Red Bones by Ann Cleeves
6. Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet

completed initial goal of 6 in category

7. The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri
8. The Dead of Summer by Mari Jungstedt
9. The Indian Bride by Karin Fossum
10 The Devil's Star by Jo Nesbo

Edited: Sep 21, 2012, 11:20pm Top

glitter-graphics.comCategory 3: Jambalaya (On the Bayou)

1 Dixie City Jam by James Lee Burke
2 Graveyard Dust by Barbara Hambly
3 Burning Angel by James Lee Burke
4 Cadillac Jukebox by James Lee Burke
5 The Kindness of Strangers by Julie Smith
6 Sunset Limited by James Lee Burke

Completed initial goal of 6 in category

7 The Healing by Jonathan Odell

Edited: Sep 21, 2012, 11:19pm Top

Category 4: What's Goin' On?

1 Here's the Church, Here's the Steeple by Tempa Pagel
2 Iron House by John Hart
3 He Who Fears the Wolf by Karin Fossum
4 When the Devil Holds the Candle by Karin Fossum
5 Gods of Gotham by Lindsay Faye
6 Mercy Falls by William Kent Krueger

completed initial goal of 6 in category

7 The Lost Ones by Ace Atkins
8 The Body in the Bog by Katherine Hall Page
9 Final Approach by Rachel Brady

Edited: Sep 21, 2012, 11:15pm Top

glitter-graphics.comCategory 5: Help!

1 Drowning in Oil: BP & the Reckless Pursuit of Profit by Loren C. Steffy
2 Purgatory Ridge by William Kent Krueger
3 Voyagers of the Titanic by Richard Davenport-Hines
4 Under a Flaming Sky by Daniel James Brown
5 Waterproof: A Novel of the Johnstown Flood by Judith Redline Coopey
6 The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough (AUDIO)

completed initial goal of 6 in category

7 The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Frederick Stonehouse
8 A Weekend in September by John Edward Weems

Edited: Sep 10, 2012, 11:18pm Top

Category 6: King of the Road

1 The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney
2 Bag of Bones by Stephen King
3 Cujo by Stephen King (AUDIO)
4 Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
5 Roadwork by Stephen King (AUDIO)
6 Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King (AUDIO)

completed original goal of 6 in category

7 Women and the Lakes by Frederick Stonehouse
8 A Ghostly Road Tour of Michigan's Upper Peninsula by Jan Langley

Currently reading:

Edited: Aug 26, 2012, 1:44am Top

glitter-graphics.comCategory 7: Spooky

1. The Moonlit Mind by Dean Koontz
2 The Cypress House by Michael Koryta
3 The Killer's Cousin by Nancy Werlin
4 The Ridge by Michael Koryta
5 Haunted Foothills by M.A. Mogus & Ed Kelemen (no touchstone)
6 The Devil's Tea Tables by Mack Samples

completed initial goal of 6 in category
7. Ghost Shadow by Heather Graham (E-book)
8. Summer of Night by Dan Simmons

in progress

Edited: Sep 20, 2012, 7:11pm Top

glitter-graphics.com Category 8: On and On

1 Think of a Number by John Verdon
2 The Fitzgerald Ruse by Mark de Castrique (AUDIO)
3 Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear
4 Boundary Waters by William Kent Krueger
5 Butchers Hill by Laura Lippman
6 Gone, Baby, Gone by Dennis Lehane

completed initial goal of 6 in category
7. Copper River by William Kent Krueger (AUDIO)
8. Breaking Silence by Linda Castillo (AUDIO)
9. A Crown of Lights by Phil Rickman

Edited: Sep 7, 2012, 4:07pm Top

Category 9: Doctor, Doctor

1 Green for Danger by Christianna Brand
2 Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter
3 The Dirty Secrets Club by Meg Gardiner
4 Behind the Smile: My Journey out of postpartum depression by Marie Osmond
5 Thirty-Three Teeth by Colin Cotterill
6 Doc by Mary Doria Russell (AUDIO BOOK)

completed initial goal of 6 in category

7. Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante
8. Disco For the Departed by Colin Cotterill

Currently reading:

Edited: Aug 29, 2012, 7:29am Top

Category 10: Magical Mystery Tour

1. Footsteps in the Dark by Georgette Heyer AUDIO
2. The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths
3. The Likeness by Tana French
4. We'll Always Have Parrots by Donna Andrews
5. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
6. A Corpse's Nightmare by Phillip DePoy

completed initial goal of 6 in catgory
7. Tilt-A-Whirl by Chris Grabenstein
8. Dead Easy by Phillip DePoy

Edited: Sep 21, 2012, 11:15pm Top

Category 11: The Winner Takes it All

1 Alan Kulwicki NASCAR Champion Against all Odds
2 The Great American Gamble by Joe Menzer
3 At the Altar of Speed by Leigh Montville
4 Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin
5 Blood Hollow by William Kent Krueger
6 The Whisperer by Donato Carrisi

completed initial goal of 6 in category

7 Burning Rubber by Charles Jennings
8. The Day the World Came to Town by Jim Defede (Christopher Award winner)

Edited: Aug 16, 2012, 10:44pm Top

Category 12: Spirit in the Sky

1 Sin Boldly: A Field Guide for Grace by Cathleen Falsani
2 Between Heaven and Mirth by James Martin
3 He Chose the Nails by Max Lucado
4 And the Angels were Silent by Max Lucado
5 Miracles and Moments of Grace by Nancy B. Kennedy
6 Hurting With God: Learning to Lament with the Psalms, by Glenn Pemberton

completed initial goal of 6 in category

7. To Bless the Space Between Us by John O'Donohue

on hold:
A Praying Life by Paul Miller

Edited: Sep 3, 2012, 6:11pm Top

and for those pesky books that demand to be read, but refuse to fit into a category:

glitter-graphics.com Anything at All

1 Dead to You by Lisa McMann
2 I Sing the Body Electric by Ray Bradbury

Edited: Sep 21, 2012, 11:21pm Top

Ongoing summary of progress:

Challenge Category and the number of books completed
1. American Pie 8
2. Color My World 10
3. Jambalaya (On the Bayou) 7
4. What's Goin' On? 9
5. Help! 9
6. King of the Road 8
7. Spooky 8
8. On and On 9
9. Doctor, Doctor 8
10. Magical Mystery Tour 8
11. The Winner Takes it All 7
12. Spirit in the Sky 7
and also a catchall for things that don't fit:
Anything at All (miscellaneous) 2

Total books: 199
Fiction: 70
Non-fiction: 30

Edited: Jul 5, 2012, 1:00am Top

I was going to keep all kinds of stats here. But the fact that this challenge isn't "in synch" with the challenges that I start on Jan 1 has made it a bit too tricky. Those stats are probably better kept on my 75 Challenge thread and/or my BOMBS (books off my bookshelves) challenge thread, which follow the annual calendar.

OK, so instead I'm going to put possibilities for the monthly sub-challenge here:
(** means book is already on my TBR shelf!; * means it's available through local/county library sources

1 January:
**Graveyard Dust: a Benjamin January mystery, by Barbara Hambly DONE!
or any of a zillion first-in-series books

**The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 2, by Shelby Foote finished 2/29/12
**The Body in the Kelp, #2 in the Faith Fairchild series, by Katherine Hall Page
**Birds of a Feather, #2 in the Maisie Dobbs series, by Jacqueline Winspear finished 2/9/12
**Wings to the Kingdom by Cheri Priest (#2 in Eden Moore series)
**Every Second Counts by Donald McRae
**Tale of Two Subs by Jonathan McCullough
**Murder at Ebbets Field by Troy Soos
*Angel's Tip by Alafair Burke (#2 in series)
*Silence of the grave #2 in Inspector Erlendur series
*Wings of Fire by Charles Todd (#2 in Rutledge series)
*He Who Fears the Wolf by Karin Fossum DONE
The Likeness by Tana French (#2 Dublin Murder Squad) DONE
Boundary Waters by William Kent Krueger (#2 in Cork O'Connor series) finished 3/1/12
The Fitzgerald Ruse by Mark de Castrique (#2 in Sam Blackman series) finished 2/7/12

**Butchers Hill, # 3 in the Tess Monighan series, by Laura Lippman finished 3/7/12
**Pardonable Lies, #3 in the Maisie Dobbs series, by Jacqueline Winspear
**Sherman's March by Burke Davis (e-book) DONE!
**Three Ghost Stories by Charles Dickens
**Red Bones by Ann Cleeves (#3 in Shetland series) finished 3/5/12
A Crown of Lights by Phil Rickman (#3 in Merrily Watkins series)
**When the Devil Holds the Candle by Karin Fossum (#3 in Inspector Sejer series English publication order)
*The March by E. L. Doctorow
*March by Geraldine Brooks
Purgatory Ridge by William Kent Krueger
*Thirty-Three Teeth by Colin Cotterill
Bottom of the 33rd by Dan Barry
About three Bricks Shy of a Load by Roy Blount, Jr.
The Third Man Factor by John Geiger
Triptych by Karin Slaughter

**Messenger of Truth, #4 in the Maisie Dobbs series, by Jacqueline Winspear
**Four Weird Tales by Algernon Blackwood (e-book)
**New Orleans Beat by Julie Smith
*Gone Baby Gone by Dennis Lehane (#4 in Kenzie & Gennaro series) finished a bit late, 5/4/12
Blue Lightning by Ann Cleves (#4 in Shetland series)
The Indian Bride (alt title: Calling Out for You) by Karin Fossum (#4 in Inspector Sejer series English publication order))
Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
Four Perfect Pebbles by Lila Perl
April 1865 by Jay Winik

**We'll Always Have Parrots, #5 in the Meg Lanslow series, by Donna Andrews
**Dead Easy by Phillip DePoy (#5 in Flap Tucker series)
**Prayers for Rain by Dennis Lehane (#5 in Kenzie & Gennaro series)
The Water's Edge by Karin Fossum (#5 in Inspector Sejer series, English publication order)
Le Mans '55 by Christopher Hilton
When I Was Five I Killed Myself by Howard Buten
Category 5 by Ernest Zebrowski

**Six Geese a Slaying by Donna Andrews
*Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane (#6 in Kenzie & Gennaro series)
*A Corpse's Nightmare by Phillip DePoy (#6 in Fever Devilin series)
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
Dancing With Rose by Lauren Kessler
The King's Rose by Alisa Libby

**The Body in the Bog, #7 in the Faith Fairchild series, by Katherine Hall Page
**Cockatiels at Seven by Donna Andrews
**Seven Gothic Tales by Isak Dinesen


**Cockatiels at Seven is #9 in the Meg Langslow series, by Donna Andrews, so it could go here, too.
**The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland, by Jim Defede
Nine Lives: Life and Death in New Orleans by Dan Baum
the Nine Days Queen by Mary Luke

**The Body in the Big Apple, #10 in the Faith Fairchild series, by Katherine Hall Page
**Six Geese a Slaying is #10 in the Meg Langslow series, so it could go here.
*Sunset Limited by James Lee Burke (#10 in Dave Robicheaux series)
*Another Thing to Fall by Laura Lippman (#10 in Tess Monaghan series)

**The Body in the Moonlight, #11 in the Faith Fairchild series, by Katherine Hall Page
*Purple Cane Road by James Lee Burke (#11 in Dave Robicheaux series)
White Hurricane: A Great Lakes November Gale

*Jolie Blon's Bounce by James Lee Burke (#12 in Dave Robicheaux series)
*Christmas Mourning by Margaret Maron
*Hell Gate by Linda Fairstein (#12 in Alex Cooper series)
**Twelve Victorian Ghost Stories ed by Michael Cox

Edited: May 2, 2012, 12:08am Top

OK, I think I have things set up. The process of copying things over from my old thread has made me see some things that I haven't kept up to date, and need to fix.

Edited: May 2, 2012, 12:11am Top

May 2, 2012, 9:51am Top

Hi Terri, stopping by the new thread..... love the opening image and the sweeping mouse is adorable!

Edited: May 2, 2012, 4:33pm Top

Hi, Lori! Thanks for the compliments.

One Christmas vacation when we stopped in Savannah, I got up before dawn to be at the Tybee Island lighthouse at sunrise with my then-fairly-new digital camera. I had taken a number of photos with which I was disappointed, and was about to leave, when a local came along and said, "In just a few minutes, the sunlight is going to come right through there and shine on the lighthouse and give you a great shot." I listened to him and stuck around -- and that opening photo was the result!

May 2, 2012, 5:48pm Top

Hi Teri and congratulations on your new thread. I should also be congratulating you on how well you are doing with your challenge this year.

May 2, 2012, 8:00pm Top

I just love how the new continuation feature stars you so you don't get lost. The hubs and I might be going to Savannah in the fall, and I'll be sure to try and get to the lighthouse - great picture.

May 2, 2012, 8:11pm Top

23 Thanks, Judy!

24 Hi, Betty! I love the continuation feature, too -- especially the stars, otherwise I'd lose half the group. I still like to put a notice that I'm moving and link for good measure, but so far the continuation things seems to work almost flawlessly. (I gather there were some issues with duplicate threads when it first debuted.)

Betty, Savannah is one of my very favorite cities. I hope you enjoy your visit there.

May 4, 2012, 9:06am Top

Hi Terri. I'd be planting my star if LT hadn't already done it for me :)

May 4, 2012, 12:49pm Top

Just dropping by to say hello and congrats on the nice, new, very organized thread!

May 5, 2012, 3:15pm Top

27 Hi, Katie! Aren't those automatic stars handy?

27 Thanks, Ivy!

Title: Gone, Baby Gone
Dennis Lehane
Copyright/Year of original publication: 1998
Subject: missing children
Setting: Boston area
Series: Kenzie & Gennaro #4
Dates Read: finished 5/4/12
Number of pages: 374
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: No, library book
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: On and On
How does it fit the category? series that I'm following
Alternate category any mystery or series category
Why did I read this book now? 4th in series -- started in April for the April/4th monthly challenge. Finished late
My Rating: 4.75 stars

I just added Dennis Lehane to my favorite author list. His books have everything -- stunningly real, complex characters, terrific sense of place, edge-of-your-seat plot development, great touches of light humor in the midst of darkness, and gritty confrontations with the complexities of life. In this series, there are no "good guys." Everyone is somehow compromised, and even the protagonists stumble along, often trying to follow a path that involves the lesser of a variety of evils; occasionally lose their way altogether. Even most of the bad guys aren't all bad -- but there are a few that are horrific, and in this book we encounter one small group of inhumanly evil monsters.

This is not an easy read. It is dark and gritty and populated with some very unsavory characters. It involves children at risk, children gone missing, children abused in both subtle and horrific ways. It's hard to explore the depth of the issues with which it deals without spoilers, and I don't want to include any. But I will be thinking about this book for a while.

My one quibble is that a portion of the plot got just a little too convoluted for me to follow all the nuances. It wasn't a major issue for me, but it seemed unnecessary to make that particular issue that complicated, so I'm giving it a 4.75 instead of a 5.0.

Edited: May 7, 2012, 11:46am Top

Title: Born on a Blue Day
Daniel Tammet
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2006
Subject: memoir of a man who is an autistic savant
Setting: England and other places around the world
Dates Read: started April 2012; finished 5/7/12
Number of pages: 237 (including reading group guide & conversation with author)
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: Yes, purchased from library sale pre-2012
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Color My World
How does it fit the category? See title
Alternate category
Monthly theme/emphasis? / how does it fit? Started last month for April Autism Awareness
My Rating: 4.75 stars

This fascinating memoir by Daniel Tammet explores the world of a man who has Asperger's Syndrome, Savant Syndrome, and synesthesia. He is amazing! In 2003 he set a European record by reciting over 25,000 digits of pi, that infinite decimal number so useful in geometric and other applications. When asked why he did it, he responded:pi is for me an extremely beautiful and utterly unique thing. But the record attempt was done to benefit charity, used as a fundraiser by the National Society for Epilepsy in the UK.

Tammet openly discusses the difficulties he's had with social interaction, with tolerating change, with different sounds and textures and in dealing with non-literal language. He also shares the joy he experiences in the unusual way he experiences the world, especially numbers. He attempts to describe the colorful landscapes he sees as he deals with numbers. His is a unique mind, not simply in how he experiences the world, but int hat he is able to describe it so clearly to those around him. He willingly subjects himself to scientific scrutiny.

Sometimes people ask me if I mind being a guinea pig for the scientists. I have no problem with it because I know that I am helping them to understand the human brain better, which is something that will benefit everyone. It is also gratifying for me to learn more about myself, and the way in which my mind works.

He comments how his difference from others, which separated him from others and caused him such distress when he was younger, has become something which has now allowed him to reach out to and interact with so many different people. It's very inspiring to see how he has learned to live a full, independent life despite the difficulties which his Asperger's syndrome presents.

May 8, 2012, 3:08pm Top

Hey Terri - Liked your review a lot. I've had this on my shelf for a while now and just haven't gotten to it. I think I was planning to read it last year for my "colors" category, but somehow ran out of time. I may need to had it to my list of possiblities for this year. Yup - I think I'll go do that right now. I'll add it to my non-fiction category for this year which, for some reason has a lot of possibilites in it.

May 11, 2012, 7:46am Top

Thanks, Betty. I hope you do get around to reading it. I found his story, and the way his mind works, quite fascinating.

Title: Burning Angel
James Lee Burke
Copyright/Year of original publication: 1995
Setting: New Orleans area
Series: Dave Robicheaux #8
Dates Read: finished 5-10-12
Number of pages: 340
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: Library audio download/library copy
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Jambalaya (on the bayou)
How does it fit the category? setting
Alternate category any mystery or series category
Why did I read this book now? May Murder & Mayhem
My Rating: 3.4 stars

It all starts with a mysterious journal that Sonny Boy Marsallus gives to Dave in a bar. There is all manner of murder and mayhem, and in the end? It still wasn't clear to me why the journal unleashed all this violence, or if it really mattered after all. Oh, there were issues about an old plantation being dug up, too. Seems Dave should have been able to get on top of what was behind that a lot quicker than he did.

Burke spins a good yarn -- great, colorful, complex characters, terrific atmosphere, great sense of place, lots of action. His use of language is marvelous. I love the deft touches of the supernatural he includes, which were particularly significant in this outing. And, for the thinking reader, there are some great insights about how people do vs. how people should treat one another. But this one wound up not making a lot of sense to me as to why anyone was doing what they did, other than the fact that senseless violence led to violent retaliation and how ugliness in our pasts can distort our future actions. Perhaps that was the point -- the senselessness of it all -- or maybe I missed something. But it left me a bit baffled as to what exactly was behind all that happened. Not the most satisfying of the books in this series.

May 11, 2012, 8:19am Top

Love your thread pic and your graphics. I have a thing for lighthouses for some reason, I just always thought they were interesting. Also, I too am loving the Kenize/Gennaro series right now also. It took me a little bit to accumulate all the books, and I look foward to reading Gone Baby Gone shortly.

I think I just picked up a James Lee Burke book also Black Cherry Blues.

Edited: May 11, 2012, 8:48am Top

32 Thanks for the kind words about my thread! As you may guess, I have a thing about lighthouses, too. Photographing them is one of my hobbies.

Black Cherry Blues is an earlier one in the series -- the third. I read it last June, and gave it 4 stars.

ETA to add Lisa, I just stopped by your profile page. I absolutely love your profile picture!

May 12, 2012, 7:30am Top

Talking about having a thing for lighthouses reminded me: we had some friends come to visit us here in RI from Indiana and they brought his sister and brother-in-law with them. The sister had a "thing" for lighthouses. So we spent a day traveling the roads of RI and near-by Mass visiting a number of lighthouses. For a small state, RI has 23 lighthouses and I think we managed to show her @ 19 of them. There's even a lighthouse boat tour of Narragansett Bay.

May 12, 2012, 10:37am Top

Betty, Rhode Island does, indeed, have some beautiful lighthouses. I've photographed some of them. I'm impressed that you managed to show your friends 19 of them in a day!

I don't think we got to that many when we were in the area, and the weather wasn't the greatest, but this is one that we got:

May 12, 2012, 7:00pm Top

If that picture is a test - it looks like the one on Goat Island. I can see the Newport Bridge in the background.

Edited: May 13, 2012, 12:27am Top

Not meant as a test, but that sounds right. I remember that it was near Newport. I seem to recall crossing onto an island to get to it.

When my last computer died, I lost the software I used to organize and label my photos. I don't always know exactly what's what now when I look at them.

May 13, 2012, 5:06pm Top

Ooh! That sounds like a pain.

May 14, 2012, 7:12am Top

Yes, a royal pain. My backup program saved the photo files themselves, but not the data in the program that organized them. I'm slowly trying to add labels in the actual photo file itself -- it can be done -- but some of it is guesswork.

Edited: May 17, 2012, 9:36pm Top

Title: Mercy Falls (AUDIO)
William Kent Krueger
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2006
Subject: ambush shooting of officer; death of a shady businessman. Are they related?
Setting: Aurora, Minnesota & suburban Chicago
Series: Cork O'Connor, #5
Dates Read: finished 5/16/12
Number of pages: n/a (audio)
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: No, download from library
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: What's Goin' On?
How does it fit the category? mystery
Alternate category any series or mystery category
Why did I read this book now? May Murder & Mayhem; 5th in series for 12 in 12 sub-challenge (May, month 5)
My Rating: 3.3 stars

One of Cork's deputies is shot in an ambush that appears intended for Cork; a businessman is violently killed at a local necking spot. Are the two incidents connected, and how? Cork must deal with the wealthy, high-powered family of the dead businessman while protecting himself and his family from a possible assassin.

I really enjoyed this suspenseful mystery, right up to the end. Then it didn't end. He left the main story line hanging -- a virtual cliff-hanger. I did NOT like that at all.

May 18, 2012, 9:46am Top

#40 I don't like cliff hangers, either. I've got the first book of this series on my wishlist - how have you enjoyed the others?

May 18, 2012, 11:28am Top

>40 tymfos: I always feel cheated when there's no resolution. I have this series on my list, too.

May 18, 2012, 11:51am Top

An unfinished story like that makes one feeled like they are being used - hooked into buying a sequel.

May 18, 2012, 1:57pm Top

Hi, Sandy, Ivy, and mamzel! Thanks for stopping by my thread! It's so nice to have messaged.

The first four books in the series all had reasonably complete endings. I've loved them all, until I reached the (un)end of this one.

May 19, 2012, 12:37am Top

Title: State of the Onion
Julie Hyzy
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2008
Subject: White house kitchen and a wily assassin
Setting: The White House, Washington, DC
Series: White House Chef #1
Dates Read: started 5/4/12; finished 5/18/12
Number of pages:300 plus recipes
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: Yes, purchased when Borders went out of business
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: American Pie
How does it fit the category? White House is American, and pies come from kitchens!
Alternate category any mystery or series category
Why did I read this book now? May Murder & Mayhem; I wanted a cozy
My Rating: 3.7 stars

Assistant chef Olivia (Ollie) Paras comes face to face with an intruder on the White House grounds; mayhem ensues, and eventually murder. This all happens as she's vying to replace the retiring Executive Chef, squaring off with a really nasty chef who has her own cooking show.

This was a pretty decent cozy. Cozies always drive me crazy because the main character always does things that you know she shouldn't and that will get her into trouble. But this book kept the aggravation to a minimum, and the character was aware when she did something foolish.

I enjoyed all the details about how the White House kitchen staff does their work, all the protocol details that I'd never think of. The mystery wasn't bad, either. I liked the characters (though Ollie's competition for the chef job is a bit of a stereotype.)

Edited: May 20, 2012, 2:23pm Top

Title: The Killer's Cousin
Nancy Werlin
Copyright/Year of original publication: 1998
Subject: accused-but-acquitted young man goes off to redo Senior Year of HS living with Aunt, Uncle, and weird cousin; believes he experiences a dead cousin's ghost.
Setting: Cambridge, MA
Series: No
Dates Read: finished 5/20/12
Number of pages: 229
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: Yes; found at Ollie's
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Spooky
How does it fit the category? There seems to be a ghost
Alternate category
Why did I read this book now? Looking for a book that would fit May Murder & Mayhem and my "Spooky" 12 in 12 category (this barely fit either, as it turned out.)
My Rating:3.2 stars
Notes: Edgar award Best YA novel; ALA Best Book for Young Adults; ALA Quick Pick

David goes to live with his Uncle Vic and Aunt Julia and their daughter Lilly to escape the notoriety generated by his controversial murder trial, at which he was finally acquitted; he's going to try to re-do his interrupted Senior year of high school at a prep school in Cambridge. He moves into the attic apartment where his deceased cousin Kathy used to live, and immediately experiences what he comes to believe is Kathy's ghost. Meanwhile, Cousin Lilly seems determined to make him uncomfortable.

This book won all sorts of accolades when it was published, including an Edgar award as best YA novel, and inclusion on ALA book lists. But I really didn't enjoy this book while I was reading it. Told from David's unhappy POV, it was dreary and filled with characters who didn't seem quite real to me. Julia and Vic came across as artificial and prone to emotional/relational shifts that seemed to turn on a dime. Lilly was thoroughly disagreeable through most of the book.

The book was easier to appreciate after finishing it and seeing how it all turned out. But I still had trouble accepting the volatility of the characters and their relationships, how attitudes seemed to change too quickly rather than evolve naturally. Scary to think, the ghostly part may have been the easiest part to believe. Go figure.

May 22, 2012, 1:33pm Top

Terri, I love your lighthouse photos. A nice hobby. I haven't seen many in person. One I do remember visiting is the Split Rock Lighthouse in Minnesota, north of Duluth. Loved it.

I'm adding your disaster book, Under the Flaming Sky to my list, the one about the Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894. Sounds great. I think I have a copy of that one around here somewhere. Thanks for the reminder.

May 22, 2012, 1:50pm Top

Thanks, Linda! We're planning to do some travel to see some Great Lakes lights. I've only seen ones on Lakes Erie & Ontario. There are lots on Lake Huron, and even Lake Michigan. We won't get as far northwest as Duluth, though.

We also have a day in Chicago on the tentative agenda. The Wrigley Field tour is high on our list of things we want to do!

May 22, 2012, 2:03pm Top

I had a season ticket holder's Wrigley Field tour last year, which was a lot of fun.

I was just about to tell you that we don't have any lighthouses along our stretch of Lake Michigan (I live somewhat inland but have never seen any) but, apparently, Waukegan, IL and Kenosha, WI DO, in fact, have lighthouses. Who knew?

Edited: May 22, 2012, 2:11pm Top

I remember you posting about that tour, Linda. We are looking at the regular $25 a head daily tour. A bit pricey, but while in the neighborhood, would like to do it.

Soon, I will be able to tell you everything you ever wanted to know about Great Lakes lighthouses.

My newest acquisition: Great Lakes Lighthouses Encyclopedia. It's a 400+ page, 9x12-ish door stopper, and I got one like new, hard cover, for $9.85 through Amazon.

May 23, 2012, 8:05am Top

If we're talking lighthouses there's a book I've been eying up recently The Lighthouse Stevensons which is supposed to be good - also have you seen the russian atomic lighthouse photos here http://englishrussia.com/2009/01/06/abandoned-russian-polar-nuclear-lighthouses/

May 23, 2012, 3:24pm Top

51 Thanks! Very interesting.

May 23, 2012, 4:08pm Top

I just can't keep up with everyone's threads!

Workers are here to put the finishing touches on the bathroom. The door finally arrived! They are going to try to have most of the work done by the time my in-laws arrive late tomorrow. A curtain over the doorway offers sufficient privacy for just the three of us, but it would be nice to have a bathroom door with others in the house. If they need to do finishing touches, like trim & towel racks, the next day, that's OK.

May 26, 2012, 9:49pm Top

Hi Terri, getting caught up here and enjoyed the lighthouse discussion. Here on the West Coast we have a lot of lighthouses. Sadly more and more of them are automated/unmanned. I used to know a couple that operated one of the manned lighthouses and they really enjoyed the experience.

May 27, 2012, 9:14am Top

I didn't mention before when we were talking about lighthouses, but the message above reminded me - there's actually a lighthouse here in RI on a small island that you can rent for a week. The caveat is that you also have to do work around the place to help maintain it. I think it was highlighted in the magazine "Coastal Living" a few years ago.

May 28, 2012, 10:50pm Top

54 Yes, Lori, nowadays most working lighthouses are automated. I was watching an episode of Coast Guard Alaska where a team of Coast Guardsmen were doing their twice-yearly maintenance of one lighthouse. As much as I admire the Coasties and all the wonderful things they do (especially Search and Rescue!), the condition of the automated lights that they service so infrequently would surely make an old-school lighthouse keeper shudder. Once upon a time, peeling paint and anything but gleaming windows and brass would not have been tolerated by the old Lighthouse Board!

55 We have friends in RI who told us about that one. Is it Rose Island, or something like that? More and more lighthouse properties are in private hands. I know of a number that are available for brief rentals -- several of which place the renters in the role of temporary maintenance workers. It's a neat idea.

Edited: May 28, 2012, 11:03pm Top

Title: We'll Always Have Parrots
Donna Andrews
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2004
Subject: murder
Setting: a fan convention
Series: Meg Langslow #5
Dates Read: finished 5/28/12
Number of pages: 293
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: Yes, pre 2012 purchase
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Magical Mystery Tour
How does it fit the category? Mystery
Alternate category any mystery/series category
Why did I read this now? May Murder & Mayhem group read; May 12 in 12 monthly challenge
My Rating: 3.4 stars

Another madcap adventure with Meg & Co. This time, they are at a fan convention of the TV show in which Michael has a role. Someone had the bright idea of bringing parrots and monkeys to the convention, and they have gotten loose. The convention-goers are pretty wild, too.

It's pretty obvious early on who will get killed. There are no shortage of suspects when the deed is done, because everyone hates the woman.

This book was clever and witty and even had a decent mystery. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for a cozy, because I didn't enjoy it as much as most other readers seemed to. But it was well done.

Edited: May 28, 2012, 11:24pm Top

Title: Under a Flaming Sky: The Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894
Daniel James Brown
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2006
Subject: Horrific wildfire that wiped out entire towns and killed hundreds (non-fiction)
Setting: Northeastern Minnesota
Dates Read: finished 5/28/12
Number of pages: 214 plus notes, sources, index, and reader's guide
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: Yes, purchased pre-2012
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Help!
How does it fit the category? disaster
Why did I read this now? Needed a book for the "Help!" category
My Rating: 4.1 stars

This is a gripping account of a terrible disaster about which I previously knew nothing. Daniel James Brown tells the story of the massive firestorm that killed his great-grandfather and hundreds of other residents of Northeastern Minnesota. He says that he emulated Sebastian Junger's Perfect Storm and Erik Larson's Isaac's Storm, and I'd say he studied his role models and learned his lessons well. This was gripping narrtive fiction. Along the way, he teaches the reader a little about the history of wildfires, forestry management, PTSD research, and burn treatment. But the real story is the wildfire, and the people confronted by it.

This book is not for the faint-hearted, as Brown describes the damage wrought upon people, animals, and land in some detail.

Oddly, this disaster appears to take place not too far from the setting of the Cork O'Connor series that I've been reading lately.

May 29, 2012, 6:59am Top

That one sounds interesting - thanks for the review!

May 29, 2012, 3:53pm Top

>56 tymfos: - Yes it is Rose Island

May 30, 2012, 4:02pm Top

59 You're welcome!

60 I thought I remembered that, Betty.

May 31, 2012, 12:37am Top

Found your thread! For Minnesotans, Hinckley is pretty well known. It is a common halfway stop for people driving from Minneapolis/St Paul up to Lake Superior. So I've been to the fire museum quite a few times, but the thing I remember the most about it is the ridiculously small settler wedding dresses they have. The waist is about the size of my thigh.

I'm surprised I haven't already heard of Under the Flaming Sky. It's giving me ideas for next year's thread. I may have to have a local category.

Edited: May 31, 2012, 2:26am Top

62 A "local" category is a good idea, Katie. I kind of wish I had one of those this year. I could have put this next book into it, as well as one I hope to read soon -- David McCullough's non-fiction account of the Johnstown Flood.

Title: Waterproof: a novel of the Johnstown flood
Judith Redline Coopey
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2012
Subject: how people respond to and remember difficult times
Setting: Johnstown, Pennsylvania in the aftermath of the great 1889 flood, and fifty years later
Dates Read: 5/28/12 - 5/30/12
Number of pages: 262
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: Yes, but not pre-2012; purchased at library book-signing
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Help!
How does it fit the category? flood
Alternate category American Pie
Why did I read this book now? attended book signing / discussion by author last week
My Rating: 3.7 stars

From the book jacket: Fifty years after an earthen dam broke and sent a thirty foot wall of raging destruction down on the city of Johnstown, PA, Pamela McRae looks back on the tragedy with new perspective.

I may be a bit biased on this one because 1) it's relatively local 2) I met the author 3) she's a Central PA native (born in Altoona; raised near Williamsburg; Penn State grad). Add in the fact that there's a major disaster involved, and I have to love it.

This book is the story of Pamela: Pamela as an older woman, living a modest but comfortable existence in 1939 and looking back at her life; and young Pamela at and shortly after the time of the great Johnstown Flood of 1889, as she is remembered by her older self. The segments which are Pamela in 1939 are written in first person present tense; the portions which are her memories are written in first person past tense. The writing is conversational in tone. The narrative pulled me in -- the author was very good at working in teasers which made me want to read on. On one level, it's a simple story about common people who have been through a terrible ordeal. On another level, it's a study in how different people respond to tragedy and disaster, and how difficult circumstances can kill the spirit of some, while nurturing growth in others. While some gave in to despair and/or rage following the flood, Pam didn't want to go there; she was determined to make herself waterproof.

The author said she did a lot of historical research, as she does NOT like historical fiction that plays fast and loose with the facts; I could see evidence of that research in details about Johnstown of the times described in the book.

The ending is tied up a little too neatly for my cynical nature, but that was OK, too.

The book is self-published, but the quality is as good as many books I've seen from major publishers lately. The author said she availed herself of professional help in proofreading and design, and it shows. A library patron complained of some typos in our library copy, but I noticed only a couple of very minor errors in my own copy -- and I'm generally pretty fussy about those things.

May 31, 2012, 4:29pm Top

The McCullough book on the Johnstown flood was quite interesting.

However, the play I saw about the same topic was overly melodramatic. Not very good.

May 31, 2012, 9:39pm Top

Linda, the McCullough book is considered the definitive work about the flood. I can imagine how a play could really pour on the melodrama, though.

When we went to either the Flood Museum in Johnstown or the South Fork site (where the dam was), the Park Service had a marvelous short film they showed about the flood. I seem to recall that some big name in the film industry had either narrated it or directed it, though who it was escapes me. We really should pay another visit to those sites, now that my son is older.

May 31, 2012, 11:46pm Top

That's some awfully nice artwork for a self-published book. I'll bet she can get some sales at your flood museum and then get it picked up by a publisher. I wish her luck! & yes, I've picked up quite a few books because I met the author - another good reason to try a local section. I used to think that the category challenge would get out of hand by the time it became 20 in 20, but I'm thinking I could come up with 20 good categories pretty easily!

Jun 1, 2012, 4:22pm Top

She already has it out on Kindle, and says sales have been good.

I could come up with 20 categories for sure -- just couldn't fill them with 20 books each. Actually think I've hit my limit this year -- starting out with only six in each, though some categories will get fuller.

Jun 2, 2012, 1:38pm Top

75 Challenge Book #49
Title: Cadillac Jukebox
James Lee Burke
Copyright/Year of original publication: 1996
Subject: murder, politics, corruption, hit men, vice
Setting: New Orleans and New Iberia, Louisiana
Series: Dave Robicheaux #9
Dates Read: finished 6/1/12
Number of pages:297
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: No, public library book
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Jambalaya (On the Bayou)
How does it fit the category? set in New Orleans area
Alternate category any mystery or series category
Why did I read this book now? Needed book set near bayou country
My Rating: 3.9 stars

Another good outing with a favorite series. Burke's writing is as good as ever, with the usual mix of complex characters, and Burke's amazing mix of action and introspection.

Jun 7, 2012, 8:24pm Top

Title: The Ridge
Michael Koryta
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2011
Subject: a lighthouse on a mountain ridge; an evil, unearthly bargain, and some odd deaths
Setting: Eastern Kentucky
Dates Read: finished 6/7/12
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: nearby library (not ours)
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Spooky
How does it fit the category? Spooky!
Why did I read this book now? Needed a book for Spooky category, with a little murder & mayhem thrown in (but got it too late for May M&M)
My Rating: 3.9 stars

I love Michael Koryta's writing. The copy of The Ridge I got my hands on is and ER copy of bound uncorrected proofs, so I won't do any quotations here. I assume the final version is pretty much the same story, and the story is a pretty nice horror yarn.

It involves some unlikely neighbors on a mountain ridge in Eastern Kentucky: a lighthouse and a preserve for rescued cats. BIG cats, not your average kitty. Lions, tigers, cougars; those kinds of cats, rescued from situations where they were being mistreated. Central is one rare (believed to be mythical) black mountain lion. There is a death, a suicide, to the aftermath of which two people are sort of invited: a newsman whose newspaper has just folded; and a deputy sheriff who never quite fully recovered from being shot, though he is back on the job. There is more death, and there is great evil. There's a mysterious blue flame in the woods and near an abandoned railroad trestle with a grisly history.

I don't think this one is quite as good as Koryta's So Cold the River. But is a good, scary tale with enough twists and turns near the end to keep one guessing how it will ultimately turn out.

Jun 8, 2012, 1:04am Top

Anything with a lighthouse and big kittys doing scary things is alright by me. ;)

20 in 20 would be a bit excessive. 400 books in a year? Maybe if the categories are 1. ABC books, 2. Board Books 3. Curious George, 4. Disney etc...

Jun 8, 2012, 8:11am Top

Don't forget Scooby Doo!

Jun 8, 2012, 10:39am Top

Oh noes!!! I did forget Scooby Doo - we could replace Disney with Dogs - Harry the Dirty Dog, Clifford, etc... and Curious George with Captain Underpants.;) Board books with Beatrix Potter - I could actually do the 20 in 20. -- but I wouldn't get any adult reading done at all! F would have to be Felines or Francis & Frog

Edited: Jun 8, 2012, 5:20pm Top

I like that -- a dog category. Heck, I might do that one sometime for grownup books! Felines, too.

Jun 8, 2012, 11:57pm Top

I've got my dog category - but it's behavior books. Not quite the same thing as Listen! and Harry the Dirty Dog.

Jun 9, 2012, 9:08pm Top

How about "Harry the Dirty Dog Meets the Dog Trainer" . . .

Jun 9, 2012, 10:46pm Top

Love it!!! I saw a book at half-priced called something like How to train your kids like a dog trainer or The Dog trainer trains kids. That could fit in more than one category. ;)

Jun 12, 2012, 11:51pm Top

Title: Behind the Smile: my journey out of postpartum depression
Marie Osmond
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2001
Subject: memoir of her struggle with postpartum depression (PPD) and what it taught her about herself
Setting: LA, Utah, NY
Dates Read: 6/11/12 through 6/12/12
Number of pages:
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: No, library book
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Doctor, Doctor
How does it fit the category? She needed a doctor! And her doctor wrote a section of the book, with info about PPD
Why did I read this book now? ILL for another patron, returned early
My Rating: not sure

OK, so I already had too many books going at once when a patron returned this ILL early, and I couldn't resist grabbing it for a read. I practically read it straight through last night and early this morning, pausing only for "sips" of Dandelion Wine. Maybe it's the reason Donny & Marie's recording of Deep Purple has been on my brain . . . I myself had something stronger and more long-lasting than a routine touch of the "baby blues" after my son was born, though nothing nearly as intense as what Marie went through. But, then, I wasn't juggling the kind of work schedule and family life that she was, either.

I suppose some readers may be a little cynical reading this book. It's hard to write about depression one has suffered without coming across sounding really negative and a bit self-absorbed. I thought Marie's sense of humor, dark though it was, saved this book from sliding too far down that particular slope. She openly acknowledges the fortunate elements of her life, while also showing the other, "dark" side of that success. And she finds ways to laugh at herself.

I learned a lot about PPD from this book. Marie talks about what she went through, and then there is a section written by her doctor about PPD: risk factors, symptoms and their significance, and treatment options. I'm glad the Marie and other "celebrity" sufferers of PPD have started to go public about their experiences -- women with PPD tend to feel very alone, and I think it's important for them to know that others are dealing with the same thing.

I also learned a fair amount about Marie. I realize that a lot has happened in her life since this was written. But it gave me a sense of her character. And it confirmed my suspicions about childhood stardom -- no matter how good and protective the family, it's no way to spend a childhood and prepare for healthy adulthood.

Edited: Jun 14, 2012, 2:39pm Top

Title: Dandelion Wine
Ray Bradbury
Copyright/Year of original publication: 1946
Subject: one magical summer in the life of a boy and his small town
Setting: Green Town, Illinois; summer of 1928
Dates Read: finished 6/14/12
Number of pages: 239
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: Yes; long ago paperback exchange purchase
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Magical Mystery Tour
How does it fit the category? not a mystery, but very magical!
Alternate category American Pie
Why did I read this book now? In memory of Ray Bradbury, who died last week
My Rating: 4.6 stars

It was a quiet morning, the town covered over with darkness and at ease in bed. Summer gathered in the weather, the wind had the proper touch, the breathing of the world was long and warm and slow. You had only to rise, lean from your window, and know that this indeed was the first real time of freedom and living, this was the first morning of summer.

So begins Ray Bradbury's magical tale of Green Town, in the summer of 1928, and the eventful 12th summer of Douglas Spaulding's young life.

"Boy," whispered Douglas.

Boy, indeed! Bradbury painted pictures with words in a way unlike any other author. Green Town, 1928, is a wondrous place where Leo Auffman tries to build a Happiness Machine, and Mr. Tridden takes the trolley on one last ride over the abandoned track beyond town. Townsfolk brave the dark depths of The Ravine, knowing that The Lonely One may be somewhere about, stalking for his next murder victim. And as the summer progresses, the memories are bottled up, with one bottle of dandelion wine labeled and stored for each wonder-packed day of the summer.

Bradbury's prose makes the summer come alive with the patter of sneakered feet, the slam of screen doors, and the heat of the summer sun. Marvelous, marvelous writing.

Jun 14, 2012, 9:41pm Top

Title: The Johnstown Flood (AUDIO BOOK)
David McCullough
Copyright/Year of original publication: 1968
Subject: the catastrophic 1889 flood which resulted when a dam broke at the exclusive South Fork Fishing & Hunting Club and flooded the valley below
Setting: Johnstown, Pennsylvania and surrounding areas
Dates Read: finished 6/14/12
Number of pages: n/a (AUDIO)
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?:
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Help!
How does it fit the category? disaster
Alternate category
Why did I read this book now? started it around the anniversary of the 1889 flood; just read a novel about the flood
My Rating: 4.6 stars
Notes: Simon & Schuster Audio; read by Edward Herman

I usually don't listen to non-fiction via audio books. I prefer to have access to footnotes and the look back at earlier chapters to remind myself of details. But David McCullough writes such smooth narrative non-fiction that it is easy to listen to this book. And it is such a story!

I knew that the 1889 flood was really, really bad. I've been to the Flood Memorial, and the flood museum. I've seen the photo of a huge tree lanced through a house that's been washed off its foundation. But McCullough brought me to a whole different level of understanding when he pointed out, quite simply, that even before the dam broke, Johnstown was suffering the worst flood it had endured to that date. The 40-foot wall of water and debris which came crashing down the valley was something way beyond a "mere" flood.

McCullough introduces the reader to Johnstown as it was just before the flood; he recounts the history of the South Fork Dam and of the club which (badly) maintained it. Then the reader experiences the events of May 31, 1889 through the eyes of many people who were in the Conemaugh Valley that day. He examines the press coverage (good and bad) and the relief efforts; he also studies the legal aftermath and why the court proceedings turned out the way they did. And he, ultimately, tries to make sense of it all by extracting a lesson to be learned by the tragedy.

Edward Herman's narration of the audio book was perfect in pace and tone.

Edited: Jun 14, 2012, 9:55pm Top

I'm trying very hard to get all my categories (except the miscellaneous one) up to my original goal of six items, before moving on and adding additional books to any category. I'm not sure why I'm being so fussy about that, but it feels right to try and even things out here a bit, as I approach the halfway point in the year. I've moved a few books around from their original categories to other categories where they fit.

Jun 14, 2012, 9:52pm Top

My challenge is such a mess - I had to add a 13th category just to put books that fit nowhere else (and it's already full!). Oh well - it'll be interesting to see where I end the year...

Edited: Jun 14, 2012, 9:54pm Top

My miscellaneous category is also a "category 13," Katie.

We just have to keep remembering that this is supposed to be fun. Trying to fill in the blanks this month, I'm reading some really interesting things that I might not have gotten to otherwise.

Jun 14, 2012, 9:57pm Top

Yeah, I'm not worrying too much about it. I'm choosing books and then seeing where they fit. No pressure!

Edited: Jun 19, 2012, 7:48pm Top

Title: Haunted Foothills (no touchstone)
M.A. Mogus & Ed Kelemen
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2011
Subject: spooky regional folklore
Setting: western foothills of the Laurel Mountains of Western Pennsylvania
Dates Read: cover-to-cover 6/19/12
Number of pages: 55
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: Sort of. Barely touched the shelf, purchased today (counts as non-pre-2012 part of quota)
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Spooky
How does it fit the category? ghost stories
Why did I read this book now? Bought it today, had it with me to start reading while eating lunch.
My Rating: 2 1/2 stars

This little 45-page booklet hardly qualifies as a book. It is extremely self-published -- 55 pages bound only via 2 staples. It's so obscure, I can't find it even on Amazon; its sole distribution seems to be via local bookstore(s) near the area where it takes place. But it has an ISBN, so I'm counting it.

This one started out very well. As in many such books of folklore, there was a good dose of regional history, providing background to some nice little ghost stories. I only noticed one glaring editing error (a missing verb in one sentence, as I recall). But it did sort of bog down in the middle.

Much of the book is focused on the West Overton Village and Museum, which is OK as ghost stories abound on the property. But I knocked off at least a star from my rating because there was too much chatter about the "haunted Halloween" events they hold there. Tell me about the history and the ghosts, please; I'm not interested in PR about fundraisers!

BTW, in the author bios at the end, I enjoyed the description of the one author's home life, with "a pair of humongous dogs and a clutch of attitude-ridden cats." :)

Jun 20, 2012, 12:29am Top

Sorry to see your last review was for ... well.... a bit of a dud. Regional folklore can be really interesting reading, especially when it involves local ghost stories, so long as it is well written or has the strong local flavor to it. I read a local publication of ghost stories a number of years ago local ghost stories for the city I live in.... some of them literally had the hair on the back of my neck standing up as I was reading,they really conveyed the essence of the story. Mind you, the city I live is does have its ghosts so who knows what really made my neck hairs stand up!

Edited: Jun 20, 2012, 8:47am Top

Lori, I'm probably being too hard on it. For what it was, it was OK. There were really only a few stories I didn't much like, and one story in particular that most annoyed me -- endless detail about all the stuff they do for their Haunted Halloween, with barely a paragraph about the actual unexplained event at the end of the evening. I felt there should have been more focus on that event. Granted, it was brief and wouldn't have made for a very long story. But it almost came across as an afterthought. (Oh, by the way, a ghost . . . .) Not really, but the tone was all wrong. I felt it could have been more . . . descriptive, atmospheric.

Plus, the emphasis on Haunted Halloween and the antics of the staff/volunteers made some of those stories suspect.

Edited: Jun 23, 2012, 10:08pm Top

75 Challenge Book #55
Title:The Devil's Tea Tables: West Virginia Ghost Tales and Other Stories
Mack Samples
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2005
Subject: West Virginia folklore
Setting: Elk River area of West Virginia
Dates Read: 6/22/12 through 6/23/12
Number of pages: 115
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: Yes, purchased somewhere in my past travels
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Spooky
How does it fit the category? A few ghost stories in the mix (I had hoped for more)
Why did I read this book now? Needed a quick read for my off-the-shelf challenge, that also would fit a gap in my 12 in 12 challenge
My Rating: 2.5 stars

I needed a quick read for my off-the-shelf challenge, and a book of ghost stories usually works well for me. Alas, the book had more "Other Stories" than "Ghost Tales."

The author tried to emulate the format of Canturbury Tales, but this guy is no match for Chaucer. He started off with an awfully corny poem describing the 25 travelers gathered around the campfire telling their tales; each story was ostensibly "shared" by one of these travelers. It was an interesting glimpse at life in rural West Virginia in years past, but I didn't really like many of the stories.

BTW, I would STRONGLY warn animal lovers not to read this, as some animals were treated quite unkindly.

Jun 23, 2012, 9:47pm Top

Thanks for the warning. Great title, but The Devil's Tea Table won't touch my tea table then!

Edited: Jun 24, 2012, 7:58am Top

You're welcome, Katie!

Title: Thirty-three Teeth
Colin Cotterill
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2005
Subject: mysterious deaths, bodies with claw and teeth marks
Setting: Laos
Series: Dr. Siri, #3
Dates Read: finished 6/23/12
Number of pages: 238
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: No, from public library
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Doctor, Doctor
How does it fit the category? main character is doctor (coroner)
Alternate category any series or mystery category
Why did I read this book now? fill a blank in my 12 in 12 challenge
My Rating: 3.9 stars

One of the joys of reading can be to be immersed into a totally different time, place, culture, and belief system. When that place is populated by characters as engaging as those in Colin Cotterill's series about the Laotian coroner Dr. Siri, it's an especially delightful experience.

Edited: Jun 27, 2012, 5:06pm Top

75 Challenge Book #57
Title: Doc (AUDIO)
Mary Doria Russell
Copyright/Year of original publication:
Subject: Doc Holliday, the Earps, and their time in Dodge City
Setting: Dodge City, Kansas
Dates Read: finished 6/26/12
Number of pages: n/a (audio)
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: No, library download
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Doctor, Doctor
How does it fit the category? Doc Holliday was a doctor of dentistry
Why did I read this book now? available, fit category, good reviews from other LTers
My Rating: 4.25 stars
Notes: Audio narrated superbly by Mark Bramhall

This was my first book by Mary Doria Russell, but I doubt it will be my last. It wasn't a subject I was particularly interested in to start with, but the story was so well-told, I became engaged in it very early on. This well-researched piece of historical fiction introduces us to a very different Doc Holliday than that of legend and Hollywood westerns. He was an educated Georgia gentleman, who went west in search of a more favorable climate for his tuberculosis-riddled lungs. He was well-trained and skilled in dentistry, but turned to gambling to help support himself and his lover Kate.

Russell paints Doc, Kate, the Earps, and others around them in complex, nuanced shades, and brings Dodge City alive with just the right amount of detail. The marvelous narration of Mark Bramhall added to the enjoyment of the story via audio book. I can't think of an audio narration I've enjoyed more.

Jun 26, 2012, 11:31pm Top

Thirty-Three Teeth sounds good.

Jun 27, 2012, 12:12pm Top

I heard an interview with Ms Russell on NPR right around the time that Doc was published and it was very interesting. I think I even have it on my wishlist somewhere. It's good to know her writing is just as interesting. I might have to move this up.

Jun 27, 2012, 5:07pm Top

91 I think you might like it, Katie.

92 Honestly, Betty, I was hesitant to try it because I'm really not into the Old West, but she spins a very engaging yarn -- and it sounds like she did her homework.

Jun 29, 2012, 7:00pm Top

I recently read 33 Teeth. I found myself, like Dr. Siri, running my tongue around counting my teeth. There's no way that many teeth could fit in my mouth! He must have a fantastic smile!! I am loving the series, learning so much about a country I knew nothing about.

Jun 29, 2012, 10:56pm Top

It's an amazing series!

Edited: Jul 2, 2012, 7:47am Top

75 Challenge Book #58
Title: The Kindness of Strangers
Julie Smith
Copyright/Year of original publication: 1996
Subject: a depressed cop suspects that a minister running for mayor is evil, insane, and running a cult . . . a married man falls in love with his teen-aged babysitter . . . threats of a hurricane . . . and a few other assorted storylines
Setting: New Orleans and vicinity
Series: Skip Langdon, #6
Dates Read: finished 7/1/12
Number of pages: 338
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: Yes, owned for ages
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Jambalaya (on the bayou)
How does it fit the category? set around New Orleans, some of it in bayou country
Alternate category any mystery or series category
Why did I read this book now? 6th in series for June/6th month sub-challenge in the 12 in 12 challenge; fits slot in 12 in 12 category; wanted a book off my TBR shelf
My Rating: 2 stars

The Skip Langdon series is one that I usually enjoy, despite the fact that it was started long before I worried about reading series in order, and has therefore been read in a helter-skelter, out-of-order fashion, as books became available to me over the years. I generally find Skip a likable, believable character and I love the New Orleans setting. But this one was a disappointment.

I DID NOT LIKE THIS BOOK. I didn't like any of the characters (even Skip, who I usually like), I found the level of conspiracy hard to believe, I just didn't really care about these folks for much of the book. I almost gave up on it multiple times. I'm glad I stayed with it, because about 3/4 of the way through, I got drawn in to the point where I wanted to know how it would turn out. Perhaps it helped that, at that point, Smith wrote a hurricane into the story (of this pre-Katrina book). But she left some important matters unresolved (almost screaming "sequel" with the same baddie on tap).

I do think there are aspects of this book which suffered from the fact that I was NOT reading the series in order.

Jul 1, 2012, 3:52pm Top

Too bad about The Kindness of Strangers. Maybe the next one you try will be better. Or maybe its time to give that series a rest?

Jul 1, 2012, 7:40pm Top

I tried reading on of those Julie Smith books, but I found that I didn't like the one I read.

Jul 1, 2012, 10:18pm Top

97 Thanks for stopping by! I'll probably read one more, as I think I have one more sitting on my shelf. I'm not in a hurry to get toit.

98 Well, Lori, if you read this one, I'm sure you wouldn't like it. Seems to me there was at least one other one that I had difficulty getting into. There were several that were pretty good, and some that were moderately so. I like the setting, and the fact that jazz music figures into some of the stories (though not this one, which may have been part of my disappointment).

Jul 1, 2012, 11:08pm Top

Bummer on The Kindness of Strangers. I sometimes feel sorry for mystery writers because they are expected to keep the same characters going for their entire writing career. At some point, there's got to be a book that just isn't up to the others!

Jul 2, 2012, 6:12am Top

I have the first Julie Smith on my shelf, but not sure when I'll get to it. Maybe next year?

Jul 4, 2012, 5:11pm Top

100 I agree -- it must be hard to find new and interesting exploits for the same cast of characters book after book.

101 I think the first one was New Orleans Mourning? I think that one was pretty good.

It's amazing what I'll do to fit a book into one of my challenges. I rooted through all the mystery categories here in order to find a book that had won an award -- any award -- so that I could move it OUT of a mystery category and INTO a blank spot in the "winner" category -- and make room for my current novel, A Corpse's Nightmare, in the resulting vacancy in the mystery category.

I am loving A Corpse's Nightmare by Phillip DePoy. Fever Devilin is such a delightfully off-beat character, and after emerging from a coma and near-death experience, he is even odder. And it looks like the mystery is going to involve some genealogy, so that makes the book even more interesting.

Edited: Jul 5, 2012, 10:28am Top

Title: A Corpse's Nightmare
Phillip DePoy
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2011
Subject: the nature of reality, angels, psychology, race relations, genealogy, family secrets, and why in the world would someone shoot Fever Devilin?
Setting: Blue Mountain, Georgia
Series: Fever Devilin #6
Dates Read: finished 7/4/12
Number of pages: 310
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: No, public library book
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Magical Mystery Tour
How does it fit the category? a mystery -- and perhaps a bit of magical realism
Alternate category
Why did I read this book now? couldn't wait any longer!
My Rating:4 stars

The dead can dream; I'll tell you how I know.

Things had been quiet in Blue Mountain for so long that we had all come to mistake inertia for contentment. An entire autumn afternoon, for example, could be spent cataloging the images in cumulus clouds. They rushed over the mountain on their way to other, more important places, each with great mythic import. On October 9th I noted three minotaurs moving in the clouds. I made a list of their various postures. Doubtless a propensity for classical literature and a bottle of French pastis combined to color these perceptions. My time at the university had given me a love of mythology. My friend Dr. Winton Andrews had given me the pastis. I might have remained in that happy state of suspended animation for the rest of my life. I've heard or read that some people have that sort of luck. Alas, lazy autumn turned to bitter winter. On the 3rd of December, just before midnight, a total stranger came into my home and shot me as I slept in my bed. I died before the emergency medical team could find their way to my house.

But in that sleep of death, what dreams may come?

Thus begins the sixth and latest installment of the Fever Devilin mystery series. I love Phillip DePoy's writing, especially the Fever Devilin series. I realize they are not for everyone. They are quirky and often touched with a hint (maybe more than a hint) of mysticism. They are also incredibly literate, strewn with references to writers from Shakespeare to e.e. cummings, ancient myths, folklore, and such. I love the Appalachian setting and the offbeat characters that populate it. The writing is marvelous:

Night was coming on. The last of the sunset was gone, and the wind had turned white-cold, a sure snow-sign. The stars, winking on one by one, looked like dots of snow frozen into the Parrish blue sky. Even the moon, low behind black tree silhouettes, was made of ice, late winter's rage.

But there is humor, too, which can make me laugh out loud.

In this outing, Fever Devilin wakes up from a three-month coma, after being shot, clinically dead, and revived by medics. Battling the after-effects of the coma, Fever has difficulty separating reality from dreams from hallucinations. But he is determined to find out who shot him and why, and is increasingly convinced that the answer is connected to the contents of a mysterious tin box, once belonging to his late mother, which has gone missing from Fever's home.

Along the way, he encounters a crazy quilt of reality and dream, back roads, bootleg liquor, angels, Paris, jazz, family secrets, a secret society, and a mysterious stranger with a Creole accent. The ending leaves some things for Fever and the reader to ponder with no easy answers, but I found it a satisfying read.

Jul 5, 2012, 10:26am Top

Status report: I've met my initial goal in 9 of my categories. When I finish the books now in progress, I'll have filled one more category and will still need 3 books total to reach my initial goal; 2 in the category "King of the Road" and 1 in the category "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)."

Jul 5, 2012, 9:43pm Top

Excellent progress Terri!

Edited: Jul 5, 2012, 10:31pm Top

Thanks, Lori!

I'd really like to fill all the categories out with that initial goal of 6 books in each (excluding the extra "anything goes" category) before I move on and read anything else, but some reading "obligations" (an ER book and a borrowed book) are making me think that I' may need to give in and read something that doesn't fit. And there is plenty of room in that miscellaneous category.

Edited: Jul 5, 2012, 10:49pm Top

Title: Cujo (AUDIO book)
Stephen King
Copyright/Year of original publication: 1981
Subject: a rabid dog, monsters in the closet, and more
Setting: Castle Rock, Maine
Dates Read: finished 7-4-12
Number of pages: n/a (audio)
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: library download
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: "King of the Road"
How does it fit the category? author named King
Alternate category
Why did I read this now? fit my category challenge & was available on audio
My Rating: still thinking

I thought I knew what this book was about. To some degree, I did. Cujo -- the name has become almost synonymous with vicious dog in popular culture. But there's a lot more to this story than that. First off, Cujo was originally a nice, docile (albeit huge) family dog -- young Tad Camber's pet. It wasn't the dog's fault that it was bitten by a rabid bat and that his people hadn't gotten him his rabies shot.

Then there's the monster in the closet -- that closet door that won't stay closed. The story is also about families facing adversity. It's about fate, and how sometimes everything that can go wrong does. It's about the danger of false assumptions.

King is a master at building suspense. He takes his time, and to some readers the story may seem long; but each possibility for rescue that is thwarted ratchets up the tension and suspense level. I also love the way he gets into various characters' mindsets. I love how he portrayed Cujo's thoughts, first as a friendly dog, then as he's bitten and starts down the long decline into rabies. Finally, the dog is simply mad, out of his mind with sickness and pain. And that's precisely when young Tad and his mom motor into his path -- and their car dies.

There was one brief section I really detested for the language that was used -- I hate getting hammered all at once with a surplus of profanity -- but I understand the effect he was going for in that particular scene.

Edited: Jul 7, 2012, 12:22pm Top

Title: Hurting with God: Learning to Lament with the Psalms
Glenn Pemberton
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2012
Subject: Why the Psalms of lament are important
Dates Read: finished 7/7/12
Number of pages: 252 (incl. notes, sources, study guide, appendix)
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: YES, counts because it is ER book
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: "Spirit in the Sky"
How does it fit the category? bible/theology studies
Why did I read this book now? ER book, and it looked interesting
My Rating: still deciding

I'll need to do a more formal review of this book because it is an ER book. But right now I'll say that this book gave me lots of food for thought. Pemberton has carefully studied the Psalms and has thoroughly thought through and structured his arguments in a very persuasive way. I understand the Psalms of Lament much better now, and have more appreciation for them.

Pemberton comes by his interest in the Psalms of lament naturally, after suffering permanent nerve damage which has left him in serious chronic pain; during the course of writing, he also lost a home to fire and went through a painful divorce. He makes appropriate references to his difficulties and how they inform his understanding of the Psalms and his dialog with God; but they do not overshadow in any way the actual Bible research he has done.

Pemberton is concerned that modern Christian worship has taken a form much different than its Biblical model as found in the Psalms of ancient Israel's worship. He argues that our focus on praise to the exclusion of lament is less faithful than it may appear. Being truly honest with God requires acknowledging the difficulties of life up front in our prayers and worship. A healthy relationship with God has room for questions and compaints in our dialog with God. The author cites New Testament models, including prayers of Jesus, which validate lament as an appropriate prayer form for Christians.

Pemberton makes the distinction between the biblical forms of lament and simply complaining. In the Psalms, lament always comes from a position of faith, even when that faith questions God's actions or lack thereof. God can handle our honest questions and laments when we are bewildered by life and turn to God in our confusion, pain, and anger.

Pemberton takes special care in dealing with the imprecatory Psalms, because these are the most controversial, often viewed as inappropriate for use by Christians taught to love enemies. He divides them into sub-categories, and makes several points about which I'd never thought. 1) the situations of the Psalmist in these psalms are hard for middle-class Americans to understand; rather, they are generally the voice of seriously oppressed and victimized people who are, too often, marginalized in mainstream churches. 2) While the Psalmist may be honest in acknowledging to God ill-wishes toward his enemy ill, retribution (if any) is left in God's hands.

The book includes a great many references both to scripture and to other bible scholars and theologians; there is good list of sources for further study, and a study guide included which looks like it might be useful in a Bible Study group.

Jul 8, 2012, 5:42pm Top

I must say - excellent review. Definitely gong on my wish list. Thumbs to you!

Jul 8, 2012, 6:00pm Top

Yes, nice review! I'll be on the lookout for this one.

Jul 9, 2012, 7:17pm Top

109, 110 Thanks for the kind words (and the thumb, Betty)!

Edited: Jul 13, 2012, 1:56am Top

Current books:
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (still plodding along, though I'm over halfway through now!)
Sunset Limited by James Lee Burke (just starting)
Bruce Springsteen and the Promise of Rock and Roll by Marc Dolan (not quite a quarter of the way through)
Roadwork by Stephen King (AUDIO) (over halfway through)

When I finish these, I will have met the initial goal of 6 per category for my 12 in 12 challenge.

Jul 13, 2012, 1:57pm Top

I'm going to see Bruce Springsteen at Wrigley Field in September. Maybe I ought to read that one!!

Jul 13, 2012, 2:48pm Top

Oooh, enjoy the concert, Linda!

Jul 13, 2012, 8:29pm Top


Jul 15, 2012, 10:57pm Top

Yeah, I'm a bit jealous too! ;)

I finally finished this:

Title: Wolf Hall
Hilary Mantel
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2009
Subject: historical fiction about life of Thomas Cromwell
Setting: England in the time of Henry VIII
Dates Read: finished 7-15-12
Number of pages: 532
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or R?) Source?: YES, purchased used at book sale
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: King of the Road
How does it fit the category? King Henry VIII figures prominenetly
Alternate category Winner Takes it All (Man Book Prize winner, 2009)
Why did I read this book now? fits gap in 12 in 12 challenge
My Rating: TBD

What to say about this book? So much has been said already. Like many readers, I found the pronoun usage mildly exasperating. There were times when it felt a bit tedious, figuring out who was saying what. There were moments of boredom, and moments of sheer delight. I appreciated Mantel's deft touch with humor. I enjoyed the experience of seeing Henry VIII's England through the eyes of what I would normally consider a rather unsympathetic character -- and having her create a sense of understanding the man. If Cromwell's story were invented of pure fabric for a novel, it would be criticized as unbelievable. But the man really lived, and managed to survive and thrive in that cut-throat environment. It's pretty clear that Mantel did her homework on the history, and she did make it come alive in her telling.

Jul 17, 2012, 12:56am Top

Title: Roadwork (AUDIO)
Stephen King, writing as Richard Bachman
Copyright/Year of original publication: 1981
Subject: angry man whose house and job site are being taken by eminent domain for highway construction
Setting: A small town in New England
Dates Read: finished 7/17/12 (early a.m.)
Number of pages: n/a (audio)
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: No, library download
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: King of the Road
How does it fit the category? Author named King
Alternate category
Why did I read this book now? available from library, fits slot in 12/12 challenge
My Rating: 3 1/2 stars
Notes: this audio edition contains introduction written by King in 1986 for his "Bachman Books"

As I mentioned in a post on my previous thread, when a book starts out with a man buying high-powered guns for an imaginary cousin while the voices in his head argue with one another . . . well, you know bad things are going to happen. In Roadwork, Stephen King (writing as his alter-ego, Richard Bachman) delves into the mind of a man descending into madness. Already somewhat unstable from grief over the loss of his son to a brain tumor, Dawes now must deal with having his home and work site condemned for highway construction. To say he is upset is a tremendous understatement.

It's fascinating how complex this character is, how confused. So sad, the scenes where he remembers his son's illness and death. So suspenseful wondering what he's finally going to do, and whether he's going to harm himself or others . . . and if so, who . . .

This is a very dark book, typical of King's Bachman books. It's very well done, but it's not a pleasant tale -- which makes it hard to give it a rating.

Perhaps part of the reason this book made me uneasy is that I know too many people who work in road construction.

Jul 18, 2012, 8:03pm Top

Title: Sunset Limited
James Lee Burke
Copyright/Year of original publication: 1998
Subject: crime and secrets, both old and new
Setting: New Iberia, Louisiana; New Orleans, Louisiana
Series: Dave Robicheaux #10
Dates Read: finished 7/18/12
Number of pages: 309
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: No, public library book
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Jambalaya (on the bayou)
How does it fit the category? set in bayou country
Alternate category any mystery or series category
Why did I read this book now? next in series; also, fit slot in 12 in 12 challenge
My Rating: 4 stars

Another winner from James Lee Burke's series about Dave Robicheaux. There are killers and victims, both in the story's present, and in the distant past -- and they appear to be connected somehow. There are a bunch of California movie people moving about in New Iberia (including some locals-made-good coming home); and some out-of-town criminal talent, too. And maybe some of the visitors are in both camps. And don't discount the possibility of some home-grown hoodlums, too.

This one kept me turning pages at every opportunity to read. As usual, there are issues of justice/injustice regarding race, class, wealth, etc. And Burke doesn't sugar coat or tie up a nice, neat ending where everyone gets what they ought to if real-life practice matched the rhetoric of everyone being equal under the law.

Jul 18, 2012, 8:06pm Top

OK, I only need to finish one more of my books to have my initial goal of 6 per category done!

Jul 20, 2012, 11:05pm Top

Title: Shawshank Redemption (AUDIO novella)
Stephen King
Copyright/Year of original publication:
Subject: prison life and the power of hope
Setting: Shawshank prison in Maine
Dates Read: 7/20/12
Number of pages: n/a (audio)
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: NO, library download
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: King of the Road
How does it fit the category? Author named King
Why did I read this book now? fill slot in 12/12 challenge
My Rating: 4 stars

OK, this is only a novella -- just over four hours of audio. But I'm counting it now because I want to finish off the first level of this challenge -- my minimum goal -- before I move on and read other things. I hope to get hold of the collection which the novella came from, and when I read the rest of the stories, I'll combine them all together to count as one book.

This is the story upon which the marvelous movie with Morgan Freeman was based. I really enjoyed it.

Jul 20, 2012, 11:08pm Top

So now there are 6 items in each category! And I'm going ahead and read pretty much what I please over the next month or so, and let things fall into whatever category they may fit.

Jul 21, 2012, 9:41am Top

Congrats on completing 6 books in each category!

Jul 21, 2012, 10:22am Top

Thanks, Lori!

Jul 22, 2012, 4:53am Top

Congrats!!! I have to either read or watch Shawshank. I hear the movie is fantastic.

Jul 22, 2012, 10:12am Top

Congrats, Terri! You are doing MUCH better than I am. I also wanted 6 in each category and I think one or two are still empty... Oh, well...

Jul 22, 2012, 6:47pm Top

Thanks, Katie and Katie!

I plan to make my August "theme" Anything Goes. I'm planning to read with reckless abandon until September, and let the books fall where they may as far as categories!

Jul 22, 2012, 7:25pm Top

I'm also trying to get to 6 in each category, but I'm not sure I'll get there till maybe the end of next month. I already have 7 in a couple of categories, but I'd like to level everything off.

Edited: Jul 23, 2012, 4:11pm Top

Betty, I really pushed to get six in each category before letting myself put a 7th book in any of them. It kind of drove me crazy, filling in those last few spots.

Jul 22, 2012, 8:23pm Top

I'm approaching that last few spots craziness point too. They are all categories I like, but having some closed off and knowing that you have ten to choose from and just one spot in some categories is crazy-making. Enjoy your month of reckless abandon! It sounds fabulous.

Jul 23, 2012, 6:38am Top

Congrats on reaching your initial target so early in the year. Hope you enjoy picking your next reads with the freedom to choose.

Jul 23, 2012, 4:13pm Top

Katie, it's amazing how restricting those categories can feel when there are just a few slots left! (And in the less flexible categories, too.)

Thanks, Dave! I have one Early Reviewer book I have to finish, and then . . . freedom!

Jul 23, 2012, 9:00pm Top

It can!!! I think it's mainly because it makes me realize that I can only read so many books in a year, and there are soooo many more that I want to squeeze in. So I see the categories filled up and think "no more of that for the year" and after 5 or 6 categories are filled up, it's a lot of "no more" thinking.

Jul 25, 2012, 12:38pm Top

I figure with over 1,000 books in my TBR and only 12 categories, I should be able to find something to read that fits even when I get to trying to reach a specific number. And if I don't - hey - it's all supposed to be fun. No one's sending out the book police, are they?

Jul 25, 2012, 1:20pm Top

Hi Terri, congratulations on reaching your initial goal, and here's to reading with reckless abandon! Have fun.

Jul 26, 2012, 8:58am Top

Katie, I know what you mean!

Betty, you're right. It is, after all, supposed to be fun. But I can get a bit stuck sometimes!

Thanks, Judy!

I've made another step into the 21st century, with the acquisition of my first smartphone. Lots to learn! It's had me rather occupied these past couple of days.

Jul 26, 2012, 12:16pm Top

Yeah! Technology - as for the book police, they were observing my house last night! Made me super paranoid! ;)

Edited: Jul 28, 2012, 12:47am Top

Gotta watch out for those book police, Katie . . .

Title: The Lost Ones (Early Reviewer Copy)
Ace Atkins
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2012
Subject: ex-Army-Ranger-turned-sheriff deals with gun runners & troubled friends & family
Setting: Tibbehah, Mississippi
Series: Quinn Colson #2
Dates Read: finished 7/27/12
Number of pages: 339 (in ARC)
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: ER, from LT ER program
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: what's goin' on?
How does it fit the category? crime solving
Alternate category
Why did I read this book now? needed to review
My Rating: 3.35 stars

Quinn Colson comes home from service as an Army Ranger, and winds up elected to his late uncle's old office, as Sheriff of Tebbehah County, Mississippi. Several of his friends are ex-military, too, and suffered damage of various kinds in the war. Then there's his family: a recovering alcoholic mother who still mourns over Elvis Presley's death; and his sister Caddie the Prodigal Daughter, welcomed back by Mom, who has found religion and is intent on pushing it onto her brother. (I can't quote from this copy because it's uncorrected proofs, but there was one exchange between brother and sister I wish I could quote, because it is priceless.)

Quinn is dealing with serious child and animal abuse, gun runners and federal agents, while coming to terms with incidents from his and Caddie's childhood. In the process, there are lots of shots fired.

This book is second in a series. There were references to the previous book (and some were likely spoilers) but the book was easy to follow without having read the first book.

I need to think on this one. I had some style issues with it, POV issues. It was written in third person, but the author would still often write for a spell rather like he was in the character's head (not always Standard English, ya know) and then throw in a line that was clearly not reflecting the POV character's attitude at all, IMO. I don't know. It was a good enough story, but it felt choppy at times. There were some sections that were in the past, and I didn't feel that the transition to those sections was effective at times.

It was a decent read, but it didn't really grab my attention and hold me until a little too close to the end. It took a long time for me to warm up to any of the characters, but I eventually did. I think my luke-warm reception may have simply been a matter of taste.

Jul 31, 2012, 9:32am Top

75 Challenge Book #67
Title: Three Months in the Southern States
Author: Col. Arthur James Lyon Fremantle
Copyright/Year of original publication: 1863
Subject: British officer spends time as an observer of the Confedrate States of America, 1863
Setting: Throughout the Southern States, and also Gettysburg, PA
Dates Read: April through July, 2012
Number of pages: n/a (e-book -- different pagination on different devices)
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: YES downloaded pre-2012 from Project Gutenberg
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: American Pie
How does it fit the category? US Civil War
Alternate category ?
Why did I read this book now? Started in April because that month was in the sub-title, for monthly challenge. Didn't finish in time.
My Rating: hard to rate

This is a fascinating perspective on the Civil War. Colonel Arthur Fremantle of Her Majesty Queen Victoria's Cold Stream Guards spent time as an observer of the Confederate armies. He traveled with major officers, even Robert E. Lee himself. At times his observations are offensive to modern sensibilities, as he took on the views of his hosts. He thinks slaves are quite happy serving their masters and views the white southerners as the ones being oppressed by Northern armies of aggression. What I found most interesting was seeing his view of Gettysburg; most accounts I've read are overviews, but here we have one person telling it from where he sits, and not knowing what else is going on except what he's told by his hosts. Thus it is much less the Northern victory to him. As far as liking what he says, I have trouble giving it a high rating; for its historical value, it's good stuff.

Jul 31, 2012, 11:19am Top

The Ace Atkins book sounds like it had a lot of interesting things going. Maybe the next book will pull it together better? I'm assuming it's a first novel.

Jul 31, 2012, 3:31pm Top

No, not at all, Katie. It's second in the series, and the author has written other books, too.

I think it was mostly a matter of taste. Just not my cup of tea.

Edited: Aug 9, 2012, 10:51am Top

Title: Ghost Shadow
Heather Graham
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2010
Subject: ghosts and murder in Key West
Setting: Key West, Florida, USA (or The Conch Republic, if you're a local there)
Series: Bone Island Trilogy #1
Dates Read: 8/4/12 - 8/7/12
Number of pages: e-book -- varied with reader setting
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: No, public library e-book download
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Spooky
How does it fit the category? lots of ghosts
Alternate categoryany mystery or series category
Why did I read this book now? wanted a light read; I came up in the hold queue for this one.
My Rating:2.9 stars

Katie sees dead people. She talks to them, too. There's Bartholomew the Friendly Ghost Pirate, er Privateer. There's a lady in white. And with the goings on in Key West during this story, there's a whole bunch of fresh ghosts trying to get her attention.

Tanya was the victim of a bizarre murder 10 years ago. Her ex-fiance David was suspected, but never charged, and he moved away. Now he's back in town -- as are a number of folks who were interrogated after the murder. And now there's another murder. And sparks are flying between ghost-seeing Katie and David.

I'm not really one for reading romances, so there was a little too much of that for me. And I had some issues with the mystery here. Being as David was an obvious person-of-interest in the first killing, it seemed the police gave him a little too much access and information on the case, even if his cousin is a cop. And the conversations between Ghostie Bart and Katie seemed a little long-winded, considering that to those around her, she was talking to thin air, and trying not to look crazy. But it was a fun read.

Aug 9, 2012, 12:33am Top

well darn on Ghost Shadow...... ghosts, murder and key west sounded tempting but I am with you, I can do without the romance this one appears to be.

Aug 10, 2012, 1:58am Top

Ah well, around such chatty ghosts, there must have been plenty of people who "talked to themselves" in that town. To bad it was kind of on the "meh" side.

Edited: Aug 10, 2012, 5:30pm Top

Hi, Lori and Katie! Ghost Shadow was OK, a quick read -- I may or may not read the next one.

Title: The Body in the Bog
Katherine Hall Page
Copyright/Year of original publication: 1996
Subject: threats & death surrounding the development of a local wetland into housing development
Setting: Aleford, Massachusetts
Series: Faith Fairchild #7
Dates Read: 7-30-12 through 8-10-12
Number of pages: 262
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: YES, purchased used several years ago
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: What's goin' On
How does it fit the category? Mystery
Alternate category any series or mystery category
Why did I read this book now? 7th in series started in 7th month for sub-challenge
My Rating:3.76 stars

I always enjoy these cozy mysteries (with recipes) featuring minister's wife (and professional caterer) Faith Fairchild. In this outing, a local developer is threatening the local bog, and the local citizenry is threatening the developer's plans, and someone is sending threatening letters, and someone (else?) is making threatening phone calls. With all these threats, sure as rain there will be bodies showing up in Aleford. Can Faith help the police solve this mystery? Or will her goose be cooked in the attempt?

Aug 10, 2012, 8:41pm Top

Yum, goose! (I couldn't resist, since it's a culinary mystery.) Sounds like quite the cozy, and there's nothing like a bog for hiding bodies... for centuries.

Aug 10, 2012, 9:21pm Top

I can't remember whether or not I read that one back when it came out or not. Because of that, I've got it on a TBR list.

Aug 10, 2012, 10:52pm Top

Katie, I really like that series.

Lori, I have trouble remembering which ones I read in the series, as I read them out of order, starting with the ones our library had.

Edited: Aug 10, 2012, 11:20pm Top

Title: Copper River (AUDIO)
William Kent Krueger
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2006
Subject: a wounded Cork O'Connor flees to his cousin Jewel to avoid hit man; stumbles into another murder
Setting: Upper Penninsula of Michigan
Series: Cork O'Connor
Dates Read: finished 8/10/12
Number of pages: n/a (AUDIO)
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: No, library download
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: On and on
How does it fit the category? part of series I'm reading in order
Alternate category any mystery category
Why did I read this book now? next in series, was able to get from library
My Rating: 4.2 stars

Nursing a gunshot wound, Cork O'Connor is on the run for his life, as there is a contract out on him. He retreats to hide out the home of his cousin Jewel in Michigan. There he encounters family stress, murder and mayhem a plenty, as well as a wounded cougar. The local crimes turn out to be much more than initially meets the eye; a very sobering story.

This was a good outing in the Cork O'Connor series. Some sections were so suspenseful, it really had me on the edge of my seat. It's a continuation of the storyline begun in Mercy Falls, as Cork is fleeing the wrath of an angry and powerful man; but it contains a totally new and unrelated mystery, too. This book contains major spoilers for the previous volume; best to read these in order!

Aug 12, 2012, 12:20am Top

Title: The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
Frederick Stonehouse
Copyright/Year of original publication:
Subject: the famous sinking of a Great Lakes iron ore transport ship
Setting: Lake Superior, November 1975
Dates Read: finished 8-11-12
Number of pages:
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: Barely hit the shelf, but mine (not pre-2012, though)
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Help!
How does it fit the category? disaster
Alternate category American Pie (US history)
Why did I read this book now? why not?
My Rating: 3.5 stars

This book is a nuts-and-bolts account of what happened to the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, immortalized in song. It is NOT a complete history of the Fitzgerald from boatyard to its sinking, or a riveting work of narrative history, nor a reconstruction of what the crew must have been through, a la The Perfect Storm. It IS a fairly straightforward organizing of such facts as are known about the sinking of the steamer, a presentation of some opinions (clearly labeled as opinions), a gathering of some pertinent documents. The Coast Guard investigation report (abbreviated) is included, as is the shipping industry group's rebuttal, and info about the NTSB investigation. My 25th-anniversary edition includes updates on later expeditions to the wreck. There are photos of the Fitzgerald in her prime and underwater, as well as photos of other Great Lakes steamers that came to unpleasant ends, and of rescue vessels (who were not able to resuce anyone this time). It also includes the lyrics of the song Gordon Lightfoot wrote about the wreck, which has helped to keep the ship's name and legend large in popular consciousness.

For what it sets out to do, it does the job. It's informative, a little repetitive, but clear.

Aug 12, 2012, 11:26am Top

Did you have the song in your head while your were reading? I know I would have.

Aug 12, 2012, 5:37pm Top

Did you have the song in your head while your were reading? I know I would have.

Oh, yeah! Still do.

Aug 16, 2012, 10:43pm Top

Title: To Bless the Space Between Us (E book)
John O'Donohue
Copyright/Year of original publication:
Subject: blessings for times of transition / "thresholds" of life
Setting: n/a
Dates Read: finished 8/16/12
Number of pages: n/a (e-book -- varies with format)
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: No, library download
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Spirit in the Sky
How does it fit the category? spirituality
Alternate category
Why did I read this book now? it sounded interesting, and it was available
My Rating: not sure/still thinking

This book was part a collection of blessings, and part thoughts about blessing. I liked some of it more than other parts. Some of the blessings didn't resonate with me at all. Others did. It gave me some food for thought.

Aug 22, 2012, 11:22pm Top

Title: Light in August
William Faulkner (E-Book)
Copyright/Year of original publication: 1932
Subject: Trials and travails of a group of unusual characters in the South
Setting: Mostly, a small town in Mississippi
Dates Read: finished 8/22/12
Number of pages: n/a (e-book -- varies with text size, format, etc.)
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: No, library loan download
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: American Pie
How does it fit the category? famous American author
Alternate category not sure
Why did I read this book now? Needed book with "August" in the title for a challenge
My Rating: unsure

I'll leave the literary analysis of this novel to those more qualified than I in such matters. I know enough to be able to appreciate the book as literature. But I can't say I particularly enjoyed it. Light in August is such a pretty title, but it's a rather dreary story filled with odd and disconcerting characters. It almost seemed like there weren't any normal or sane (whatever that is) characters in the whole story. There's a pregnant girl who can't believe her boyfriend ditched her, and is hitchhiking and walking her way to the next state, convinced that the fellow will be delighted to see her when she finds him. There's a former minister who was run out of his church. There's an uncomfortable lot of use of the "n-word" by characters which is, I understand, accurate for the time, place, and culture of the South of that era but highly unpleasant to read. Race is an important issue in this book; indeed, one character's whole life is totally and permanently altered in a moment, as a child, by the suggestion that he is part "Negro" (or, as some say, that other "n" word).

I found some of the book very difficult to follow, in part because in some cases the people portrayed are not speaking or thinking in a logical or even sane manner. Also, Faulkner goes about telling the story via a rather circuitous route, moving back and forth in time and between characters. As I said, I can appreciate what Faulkner was doing, and how some of the muddiness became clear as different points of view revealed the totality of the story. But, in the end, some of it still made little sense to me at all.

Aug 23, 2012, 10:31pm Top

Faulkner is an author I have yet to venture into reading. Based on your review, I think if I do make the plunge into his works, I will try to find something more straightforward as a starting point.... or be prepared for a bit of a struggle.

Edited: Aug 24, 2012, 12:04am Top

Lori, Light in August was my first Faulkner, and I don't think I'd recommend it for a starting place. This copy had synopses of his major works in an appendix, and several looked a bit more promising.

Title: The Shape of Water (AUDIO)
Andrea Camilleri
Copyright/Year of original publication: 1994 (original Italian; English translation came later, and audio later still)
Subject: death in a compromising postion; Sicilian political corruption
Setting: Sicily
Series: Inspector Montalbano #1
Dates Read: finished 8/23/12
Number of pages: n/a (audio)
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: No, library download
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Color my world
How does it fit the category? set in another country
Alternate category any mystery or series category
Why did I read this book now? LTer recommendations
My Rating: 3 stars

I'm not sure audio was the best format for me to begin the Montalbano series. I kept getting characters mixed up, and might have benefitted from a tree-based copy to look back and see who was who and who was related to who and how. A lot of folks rave about this series, and I frankly didnh't "get" the attraction. I found the whole mystery a bit convoluted, though I kind of liked Montalbano. I went on and finished it because it was short. Maybe I'll try the next in the series in a paper copy if I get my hands on one.

Aug 24, 2012, 8:22pm Top

Light in August was my first Faulkner too, but it was in high school AP American Lit. I didn't like it much then and wondered if I should give it another chance, since I was probably too young for it then. Was there a Joe Christmas in the story? Or was that from another classic I didn't like much in high school. Thanks for your review. I'm sure I'd get more out of it now, but from your review, it sounds like it might go down like castor oil.

Aug 24, 2012, 10:32pm Top

Yes, Katie, Joe Christmas was one of the central characters -- perhaps the central one.

It wasn't quite as bad as castor oil, but it wasn't a particularly enjoyable read.

Aug 26, 2012, 1:44am Top

Title: Summer of Night
Dan Simmons
Copyright/Year of original publication: 1991
Subject: Group of boys fight Evil (with a capital E) centered in a creepy old school building
Setting: Elm Haven, Illinois, USA, Summer of 1960
Series: Elm Haven #1 (of 2)
Dates Read: finished early a.m., 8/26/12
Number of pages: 600
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: Yes!
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Spooky
How does it fit the category? Classic horror
Alternate category
Why did I read this book now? Seemed like it would be a great summer read.
My Rating: 4 stars

Old Central School still stood upright, holding its secrets and silences firmly within. Eighty-four years of chalkdust floated in the rare shafts of sunlight inside while the memories of more than eight decades of varnishings rose from the dark stairs and floors to tinge the trapped air with the mahogany scent of coffins. The walls of Old Central were so thick that they seemed to absorb sounds while the tall windows , their glass warped and distorted by age and gravity, tinted the air with a sepia tiredness. . . .

By the spring of 1960, Old Central School had come to resemble some of the ancient teachers who had taught in her: too old to continue but too proud to retire, held stiffly upright by habit and a simple refusal to bend. Barren herself, a fierce old spinster, Old Central borrowed other people's children over the decades."
(from the first page of Summer of Night)

It is summer of 1960, and Old Central School has completed its last year as an active shcool. A group of friends, most of them having just completed 6th grade, are ready for summer fun. But it's not going to be an easy summer. Something Evil is afoot. A boy has disappeared. A dead soldier is wandering about. The odorous Rendering Truck roams the streets in search of more than dead animals. There are rumors of a crused Bell. And something is slithering under the ground. . .

I love the writing in this book. I love the warm scenes of ordinary small-town circa 1960s life juxtaposed against vivid descriptions of the dark horror of Evil that is enveloping the town. Simmons takes his time with descriptions that pull the reader back into small-town life the summer of 1960. There are mentions Huntley & Brinkley and the nomination of JFK. There are marvelous passages that bring small town/rural life alive to the reader. Some might say he describes too much -- at 600 pages, this book isn't a quick read. But without being rooted in that solid sense of a real place and time, I'm not sure this story would work nearly as well as it does.

There are also things straight out of the author's chilling imagination. This is a horror novel, populated with the undead and other things that go bump (and slither and scratch) in the night. A certain suspension of disbelief is required of the reader -- not only regarding supernatural things, but also about the actions of these kids in fighting that Powerful Evil. But the author taps into an arsenal of natural childhood fears; fear of the dark, of something in the closet or under the bed; a reluctance to go into the basement, the threat of a menacing truck. Indeed, he does so much with the dreaded, odorous "Rendering Truck" that I wonder if a real-life version of such a truck was part of the writer's actual childhood terrors.

This is a classic Good vs. Evil tale. Some of it's rather gross, and the ending (as with many horror novels) is a bit much. But I enjoyed it.

Edited: Aug 26, 2012, 10:38pm Top

Off-the-Shelf book #38
Title: Tilt-A-Whirl
Chris Grabenstein
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2005
Subject: Murder on an amusement park ride
Setting: Sea Haven, New Jersey (at the Jersey Shore)
Series: John Ceepak (Jersey Shore mysteries) #1
Dates Read: read 8/26/12
Number of pages: 321
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: Yes, but not pre-2012; Amazon purchase
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Magical Mystery Tour
How does it fit the category? mystery
Alternate category any series or mystery category
Why did I read this book now? Just plain felt like it; summer read
My Rating: 3.75 stars

An amusement park ride is the scene of the murder of a billionaire. Reginald Hart was "kind of like Donald Trump, only richer and without the gravity-defying comb-over. Plus now he's dead." The murder throws the barrier island town of Sea Haven into a panic, as tourists flee the area. "This is bad for business, worse than the riptide or pink jellyfish -- even worse than that shark in Jaws because, face it, to avoid the damn shark, all you really had to do was stay out of the water."

On the case are our narrator (1st person, present-tense) Danny Boyd -- a fun-loving 24-year-old summer hire on the local police force -- and his partner John Ceepak, a former Army MP just back from Iraq. Ceepak and Danny couldn't be more different in attitude or experience, though they share a love of Bruce Springsteen's music.

This was a very quick read. As you can see by my quotes, this started off as a fun read, with lots of quirky humor. But, further in, there's a definite serious side, too. The characters seemed a little stereotyped at first, but they grew on me. And having grown up near the Jersey shore, the setting was oh-so-familiar. "Sea Haven" may be fictional, but it's a lot like places I've been. Not highbrow literature, but a great way to spend some hours on a summer Sunday; and the ending packed a surprising punch. I'll almost certainly continue this series.

Aug 27, 2012, 8:23am Top

Sounds like I'd like the style of Tilt-A-Whirl, but I doubt a specific, high profile murder like that would be bad for business. I certainly don't want anything bad to happen to Mr. Comb-Over but if something actually did happen to him at an amusement park, it would eventually become a tourist attraction - so that ride is where it happened? Really? It's haunted. I dare you to sit in car 3. That's the car he died in. ...

There's a mansion in MN where there was a famous murder, and the tour guides aren't allowed to talk about the murder or to tell what room it happened in but that's always all the talk among the tourists.

Edited: Aug 27, 2012, 9:29am Top

Oh, he actually said in the story he expected the various sites related to the crime to become tourist attractions -- once the killer wasn't on the loose any more! But the notion of "a long-haired, bug-eyed, smack-junkie killer running amok on our pristine sandy beaches" (narrator's take on the info provided by the one witness) freaked people out a bit.

Edited: Aug 27, 2012, 11:20pm Top

Title: Turn of Mind
Alice LaPlante
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2011
Subject: a surgeon with Alzheimers under suspicion for a murder
Setting: Chicago, IL
Dates Read: 8/26/12 through 8/27/12
Number of pages: 305
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: Off shelf, not sure when I bought
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Doctor, Doctor
How does it fit the category? central character is a retired surgeon
Alternate category
Why did I read this book now? Not sure
My Rating: still deciding, somewhere in the 4-star range

Dr. Jennifer White (don't call her Jen!) was a respected orthopedic surgeon, specializing in hand surgery; but now she is spiraling down the long decline of Alzheimer's disease. If that isn't bad enough, she is a "person of interest" in the killing of her friend and neighbor Amanda, who was found dead with several fingers freshly amputated.

This book is written from Dr. White's POV as her mind slowly deteriorates. Sad, scary, maddening, confusing, touching, puzzling -- these are all words that may, in turn, be used to describe this narrative. I questioned the depth of the swings of cognitive ability between the good days and the bad, but what do I know? The book says that such swings can be extreme, though it's hard to picture someone being as lucid and articulate as Dr. White is on her "good days," when hours later she can't recognize her children or remember that her husband is dead.

We struggle right along with her as she tried to fathom friend from foe and what ulterior motives those around her may have. People who seem to have the best of intentions at one moment seem downright sinister shortly thereafter.

This book was hard to put down, and I read it through within about 24 hours of picking it up. It's a quick, absorbing, tragic story told in a unique way; it's hard to believe it's LaPlante's first novel!

Edited: Aug 29, 2012, 7:42am Top

Title: Dead Easy
Phillip DePoy
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2000
Subject: Threats, murder, secrets
Setting: Atlanta, Georgia
Series: Flap Tucker
Dates Read: 8/28/12 - 8/29/12
Number of pages: 272
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: YES; bought from Amazon last year
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Magical Mystery Tour
How does it fit the category? mystery
Alternate category any series or mystery category
Why did I read this now? to finish this series
My Rating: 3.79 stars

A package with a human hand arrives at Easy, as well as threats and, eventually, there's a dead body or two (of course, since this is a murder mystery). The relationship between Flap and Dally becomes strained, as they suspect one another of involvement in the mayhem. And then there are Dally's secrets.

I love Phillip DePoy's writing. This final (last since 2000) entry in the Flap Tucker series pushes Flap and Dally into uncharted territory as Dally's past comes back to haunt her.

Aug 29, 2012, 11:23pm Top

75 Challenge Book #79
Title: Burning Rubber (E-Book/Kindle)
Charles Jennings
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2010
Subject: history of Formula 1 racing
Setting: racing circuits throughout the world
Dates Read: 7/25/12 - 8/29/12
Number of pages: n/a (e-book -- pagination varies with settings
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: Yes, but NOT pre-2012 and not hard-copy; new Kindle purchase
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: The Winner Takes it All
How does it fit the category? sports
Alternate category Color My World
Why did I read this book now? recommendation from LTer and my mood, also on sale from Amazon
My Rating: 4 stars

This history of Formula 1 racing was a lot of fun to read. I know some readers have (fairly) complained that it is too biased toward British racing teams (it's written by a Brit) but since I'm a Team McLaren fan, that's OK with me. I was a bit surprised at some of the things that were glossed over (only a 1-line mention of the "technological espionage" scandal involving Team McLaren in 2007, for instance) but it was an enjoyable look at the personalities and machines that have populated F1 over the years.

Aug 30, 2012, 11:27pm Top

Ah, then Tilt a Whirl definitely goes on the WL.

Aug 30, 2012, 11:37pm Top

This morning, I found the next two installments after Tilt-a-Whirl -- Mad Mouse and Whack-a-Mole -- available as Kindle books for 99 cents each -- as well as two other books on my WL offered as freebies! *does happy dance*

Aug 30, 2012, 11:49pm Top

Of course one of them would be named Whack-a-Mole :)

Edited: Aug 31, 2012, 10:26pm Top

Katie, others are Hell Hole, Mind Scrambler, Rolling Thunder, Fun House, and Ring Toss. Definitely staying with a theme.

One more book for August, short and with lots of photos.

(no cover image available) Title: Women and the Lakes
Frederick Stonehouse
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2000
Subject: maritime tales about women on the Great Lakes
Setting: U.S. Great Lakes
Dates Read: 8/29/12 - 8/31/12
Number of pages: 176, including phtos
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: Yes, purchased used several years ago
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: King of the Road
How does it fit the category? Waterways were the "roads" of the past; these women traveled or lighted (lighthouse keepers) those "roads"
Alternate category American Pie, Help
Why did I read this now? Just visited the Great Lakes; also wanted a short non-fiction book to end the month
My Rating: 3.2 stars

This book had some very interesting stories, but the writing didn't appeal to me as much as the other book I read by Stonehouse.

Aug 31, 2012, 11:49pm Top

:( Wish your book Women and the Lakes had been better. My parents both met in Duluth so I consider Lake Superior as a sort of hometown, even though I never lived there.

Sep 1, 2012, 11:26am Top

Don't get me wrong, Katie. It was OK, just not stellar. If you have family ties there you might enjoy it.

Sep 1, 2012, 6:08pm Top

I've got enough books to read so OK isn't really good enough to give it space on the WL.

Sep 1, 2012, 7:22pm Top


Sep 1, 2012, 8:08pm Top

169 I like visiting Duluth!! After we've been out in the Northwoods for a few days, Duluth seems like a huge city. Love Grandma's and Split Rock Lighthouse especially.

Sep 1, 2012, 10:44pm Top

LOL - Duluth seems tiny to me! Whenever my grandmother or uncle visited "the cities" from Duluth, they always had me drive because we were "too crazy" compared to Duluth drivers. Once my uncle was complaining about how crime was getting worse, and his example was of a teenager who took a car on a joy ride, smashed it up a bit, got caught and paid for damages. Man, I wish!!! Our car-jackers are teenagers, but they don't return the cars ever and they almost never get charged.

Edited: Sep 2, 2012, 4:53pm Top

I've never been to Duluth. I've seen photos of the Split Rock Lighthouse, and that is definitely one I'd like a chance to photograph!

First book done for September:

Title: A Weekend in September
John Edward Weems
Copyright/Year of original publication: 1957 (my copy was a 1999 reprint)
Subject: The Galveston hurricane of 1900
Setting: Galveston, Texas, USA
Dates Read: 9/1/12 - 9/2/12
Number of pages: 180 (including acknowledgments & index)
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: Yes, purchased used several years ago
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Help!
How does it fit the category? Terrible disaster
Alternate category
Why did I read this now? Needed a "September" titled read
My Rating: 4.2 stars

This is the second book I've read about the terrible Galveston hurricane of 1900, which killed an estimated 6,000 people, maybe more -- making it the deadliest hurricane in US history. Having savored Erik Larson's marvelous Isaac's Storm, I had little expectation that this slender volume (180 pages, including index) would tell me anything new, or be engrossing reading. I was wrong. While written in a very different style than Larson's narrative history, this book had appeal all its own.

Published in 1957, many survivors of the hurricane were still alive during the research of this book. Thus it is filled with quotations from eyewitnesses who were interviewed by Weems. This is a traditional historical account, a strictly chronological rendering of the events of the hurricane, divided into chapters with clear temporal boundaries. As an enhancement of my reading, I chose to read, over the weekend, in increments matching the time-periods being discussed. Thus, beginning at midnight Sept. 1, I read the preliminary chapters and the chapter dealing with Friday night through Saturday morning, 8 a.m.; I read the chapter describing the events of Saturday 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday morning; etc., saving the Sunday/aftermath section for today.

The book contains a number of pages of photographs, indicating what Galveston was like before and after the terrible storm. There is also a map. If I were to make one criticism, I wish the map were a little clearer, especially the panel showing the larger Galveston area. The fact that an opposite contrast scheme was used for the area map from that of the city map (in the city map, the water is dark; in the area map, the land is dark) poses a bit of a cognitive impediment, at least for this reader. Also, so many people's stories were included that I found myself paging back to see, "now who was this?" These are minor complaints. I found the book informative and it held my attention.

Sep 2, 2012, 11:40pm Top

Split Rock is beautiful!

Good review of A Weekend in September.

Edited: Sep 3, 2012, 2:21am Top

Thanks, Katie!

INSOMNIA. Grrrr. But at least I finished another book, for what it's worth. I've been nibbling away at this one for over a month. I don't know why I didn't just "Pearl Rule" it and be done with it long ago . . .

Title: The Dead of Summer (E-Book)
Mari Jungstedt
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2007
Subject: murder in a Swedish resort area
Setting: Gotland, Sweden
Series: Anders Knutas #5 (though I didn't know it was 5th in a series when I bought it)
Dates Read: 7/25/12 - 9/3/12
Number of pages: n/a (e-book)
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: Yes, owned, but not pre-2012; NOOK download purchase
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Color my World
How does it fit the category? set in another country
Alternate category any mystery category
Why did I read this book now? was B&N NOOK "deal of the day" when I decided to try out my NOOK app
My Rating: 1 1/2 stars

I didn't like this book. The characters seemed wooden and unengaging; some of their actions were unconvincing. The mystery was bleh. The writing style felt chunky and amateurish to me. (Maybe it was the translation.) There was one section, near the end, when things seemed like they were picking up as the clues came together. But at the very end, the story took an unconvincing turn with a huge info dump about one of the characters, totally taking the story in another direction altogether. It just didn't work for me at all. I'm not even sure why I finished it. I probably wouldn't have, except I used it as my bedtime book because it wasn't exciting enough to keep me awake at night. Only the ending was so aggravating, it's kept me awake tonight after all, for all the wrong reasons.

Edited: Sep 3, 2012, 9:55am Top

Galveston by Paul Quarrington is about how the Galveston Hurricane affected the residents of the fictional island of Dampier Cay in the Caribbean. I rather enjoyed this book, and it was nominated for the Canadian Giller Prize. If you're interested in this event (as evidenced by your reading of A Weekend in September) you might want to check it out.

Sep 3, 2012, 1:13pm Top

Thank you for the suggestion! I'll look into it.

Edited: Sep 3, 2012, 6:12pm Top

75 Challenge Book #83
Title: I Sing the Body Electric AUDIO
Ray Bradbury
Copyright/Year of original publication:
Subject: Short stories
Setting: varied
Dates Read: 8/16/12 - 9/3/12
Number of pages: n/a (audio)
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: NO, library download
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Anything At All
How does it fit the category? couldn't figure a category to put it in
Alternate category
Why did I read this book now? in memory of Ray Bradbury
My Rating: 4 stars

Ah, Ray Bradbury. Master of wordcraft, fount of imagination. Where did he get those outrageous ideas, and how did he manage to do what he did with the English language? All the stories in this collection were vividly original, and masterfully told. Naturally, as to actual content, I liked some better than others. But one can only shake one's head in wonder at how he did what he did, tale after tale, throughout his illustrious career.

As for the audio version I listened to, I felt there should have been more definite breaks between one story and the next, as they ran one into the other with barely a breath taken, and then the next title spoken as the narrator launched into the next tale. Several times, I either missed the transition for a few sentences, or briefly thought that a change of scene within a story was a new tale being started.

Sep 3, 2012, 7:53pm Top

yes, they should've paused or had a little musical interlude. Short stories aren't meant to be bolted!!! & sorry about your horrible Dead of Summer killer. Yes, pitch books after 50 pages if you don't like them!!! It's a safe, solid rule.

Sep 3, 2012, 8:08pm Top

Short stories aren't meant to be bolted!!!

Exactly! One needs room to breathe between the stories . . . or at least to get to the "pause" or "stop" button on the mp3 player before the next story gets rolling.

Edited: Sep 4, 2012, 9:40pm Top

Title: Breaking Silence (AUDIO)
Linda Castillo
Copyright/Year of original publication:
Subject: Death of an Amish family in the midst of hate crimes against the Amish
Setting: rural Ohio
Series: Kate Burkholder #3
Dates Read: finished 9/4/12
Number of pages: n/a (audio)
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: NO, download from library
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: On and On
How does it fit the category? series
Alternate category any mystery category
Why did I read this book now? continue series
My Rating: not sure yet

This is third in a series about a woman police chief in rural Ohio who was raised Amish but left that faith. I loved the first book; I thought the second stooped to some crass sensationalism, though apparently I was in the minority of reviewers for thinking that way. This one had its sensational elements, but wasn't too bad. It had its share of surprises. It was informative for this reader -- I'd never thought about the possibility that there might be hate crimes against the Amish; but, face it, any group that is "different" from the majority is liable to be targeted sooner or later. And I learned a lot about the dangers of manure pits on Amish farms. Who knew????

Anyway, three adult members of an Amish family die in an accident -- or is it? -- in their barn's manure pit. The four children in the household are orphaned. Meanwhile somebody is committing hate crimes against the Amish. Are the deaths related to the hate crimes? Or is something else going on? There are lots of surprises, and this was a pretty good mystery -- though I'm a little weary of Kate's endless introspection. Again, maybe this comes across worse on the audio.

Sep 4, 2012, 10:12pm Top

Linda Castillo sounds interesting. I'll have to look up that series. In a class I had a long time ago, it listed various causes of death for young children in the Middle Ages. One of the most common was getting stuck under a cooking pot. I'm sure they had some monstrously big cast iron kettles - so knowing that, dangerous manure pits don't shock me. But yuck! What a way to go.

Sep 5, 2012, 12:13pm Top

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Sep 5, 2012, 11:29pm Top

Title: The Indian Bride (also known as Calling Out for You)
Karin Fossum
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2001; English trans. 2005
Subject: Murder of a bride newly arrived from India
Setting: Norway
Series: Inspector Sejir (English Translation order #4; 5th in series)
Dates Read: 8/30/12 through 9/5/12
Number of pages: n/a (e-book; varies with format)
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: NO, library download
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Color My World
How does it fit the category? non-US writer & setting
Alternate category any mystery or series category
Why did I read this book now? next in series I want to catch up with
My Rating: 3.24 stars

I probably liked this installment of the Inspector Sejir series less than any of those I've read so far. I did eventually get caught up into the suspense, but I felt the ending left too many loose ends and unanswered questions. OK, I understand that life is that way sometimes, but it was not satisfying. The very segment of the very last chapter helped a little, emotionally, but not much.

Sep 6, 2012, 10:41pm Top

Hi Terri, I am finally getting caught up after being away so long. Looks like you are jumping into September Series and Sequels. I have suddenly fallen into a small reading slump, I need to get going on my series reading but just can't seem to settle into a book right now.

Edited: Sep 6, 2012, 10:50pm Top

Judy, I seem to be feeling really gung-ho about working on some of those series. Also, I have a couple of series books I'm starting that will work for Surreal September. I'm working on the third Dr. Siri book right now, both hard copy (my own) and library copy (audio).

Hope you find a good book to settle into!

Sep 6, 2012, 10:50pm Top

Life is that way sometimes. That's why we read books.

Sep 6, 2012, 10:52pm Top

Hi, Katie! Isn't it odd how sometimes it's so easy to read, and sometimes not?

Sep 6, 2012, 11:22pm Top

Oh yes! Is Surreal September over on 75ers? I knew about Steinbeck, and am wondering how to squeeze a Steinbeck in. Surreal would be cool too. Andre Breton? I'm not sure which authors I would consider surreal.

Sep 6, 2012, 11:28pm Top

Yes, Surreal September is on the 75 group. I think anyone is welcome to drop in!


As for what to consider surreal, this is what the thread says:

I thought we'd use a broad definition of "surreal" in order to incorporate several different types of book like magical realism, fantasy, supernatural, and other unexplainable events. Be creative! :)

Edited: Sep 7, 2012, 11:25pm Top

Title: Disco for the Departed
Colin Cotterill
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2006
Subject: Further adventures of Lao coronor
Setting: Laos
Series: Dr. Siri #3
Dates Read: finished 9/7/12
Number of pages: 247
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: YES -- used book (NON-pre-2012); also used AUDIO to listen to a lot of it, but the book is off the shelf!
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Doctor, Doctor
How does it fit the category? Main character is doctor
Alternate category any mystery or series category; Color my World
Why did I read this book now? want to continue the series; September Series & Sequels; Surreal September
My Rating: 3.8 stars

Dr. Siri, coronor of Laos, is investgating a body found encased in cement. Of course, with Dr. Siri, it can't just be a straightforward murder. The spirit world is involved. I find this glimpse into a totally different culture, worldview, spirituality, etc., quite fascinating. Dr. Siri and his crew are lovable.

Sep 7, 2012, 11:19pm Top

Thanks! I starred the thread. & I can't wait to get a chance to read a Dr Siri book. Every review I've seen sounds interesting.

Sep 7, 2012, 11:26pm Top

You're welcome, Katie!

Edited: Sep 8, 2012, 7:25am Top

Hi Terri: I think I downloaded The Dead of Summer also as B&N deal of the day. Well, I will probably still read it, but I will be in rush to get to it.

I hear you with the insomnia, I would kill to sleep like a baby just two or three nights a week. What makes it even more fun is when I get to work and people say "are you all right, you look really tired".... talk about grrr!

Sep 10, 2012, 8:10pm Top

Perhaps I would have liked Dead of Summer better if I'd read any of the series books before it. I don't think I realized it was part of a series when I bought it.

BTW, Lisa, I really like your profile picture -- a very nice photo. What a lovely sunset!

Edited: Sep 10, 2012, 11:39pm Top

Title: A Ghostly Road Trip of Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Jan Langley
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2006
Subject: Spooky stories purported to be true
Setting: Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Dates Read: finished 9/10/12
Number of pages: 158
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: YES, but NOT pre-2012
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: King of the Road
How does it fit the category? "Road tour"
Alternate category Spooky
Why did I read this now? recent trip to Michigan
My Rating: 3.4 stars

This book is, in many ways, fairly typical of the "true" local ghost tales genre. The quality of the writing and editing may be a bit better than average. The historical documentation of the stories behind the ghosts is not first-rate. Anyway, overall, I enjoyed the book. The fact that the locations are, for the most part, set up as a "road trip" you can follow around the Upper Peninsula adds a nice dimension. Of course, given the nature of the accounts, enough of the tales are anonymous/"in the vicinity of" stories that you can't actually visit a lot of the sites -- only their locales.

One very concrete location is the Seul Choix Point lighthouse, which I visited while we were recently in Michigan. (No, I didn't see/hear/smell any ghosts while I was there.) The opening and closing chapters involve that lighthouse, because apparently that was the haunting which got the author started in collecting ghost stories.

Here's a photo I took of the lighthouse; and they have a pretty neat bird house, too:

Sep 11, 2012, 2:09am Top

Oh, I love that birdhouse. Of course, I love the lighthouse as well, but to recreate it in minature, well, that's remarkable!

Sep 11, 2012, 7:21am Top

I thought it was pretty special, too, Judy.

Sep 11, 2012, 1:19pm Top

Very cute birdhouse!

Sep 11, 2012, 10:35pm Top

Joining everyone else loving the birdhouse!

Sep 11, 2012, 11:04pm Top

Hi, Lori and Lori! :)

I'd say the birds who live in that birdhouse have a very pretty home!

Sep 14, 2012, 7:18pm Top

Title: The Devil's Star (AUDIO book)
Jo Nesbo
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2003; English translation 2005
Subject: Serial Killings & police corruption
Setting: Oslo, Norway
Series: Harry Hole #3
Dates Read: finished 9/14/12
Number of pages: n/a (audio)
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: No, library download
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Color My World
How does it fit the category? set in Europe
Alternate category any mystery or series category
Why did I read this book now? available from library
My Rating: 3.7 stars

Let me start by saying that I hate to give this a rating, because the quality of the story/writing is probably higher than my level of enjoyment. This was a complex tale, a bit hard to follow on audio. It also had a number of aspects which rather pushed my buttons.

Inspector Harry Hole has been on a bender, and is about to lose his job. But his boss needs him for one last case while almost everyone else is on summer holiday. A woman is murdered in her apartment. Then another woman goes missing. Is there a pattern? What is it? The one other senior inspector on duty is the hated Tom Waaler, so they must work together on the case. But Waaler has plans for Harry -- who is at his most vulnerable

Sep 14, 2012, 11:13pm Top

The birdhouse almost makes me want to be a bird. ;)

Edited: Sep 21, 2012, 11:16pm Top

205 Almost, Katie . . . ;)

Title: The Day the World Came to Town
Jim Defede
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2002
Subject: accommodating those diverted on planes from Europe when US airspace was closed on 9/11 and following
Setting: Gander, Newfoundland, Canada
Dates Read: 9/11/12 through 9/15/12
Number of pages: 244
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: Yes, purchased used somewhere, sometime, prior to this year
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Winner Takes it All
How does it fit the category? Christopher Award winner
Alternate category Color My World, King of the Road, Help!
Why did I read this book now? 9/11 commemoration
My Rating: 4.8 stars

I absolutely loved this book about the people of the small city of Gander, Newfoundland and the surrounding area, and how they coped with the influx of thousands of airliner passengers forced to land there when US airspace was closed on 9/11.

There was so much to love about this book! Right off, Defede startled me into the realization that the US handed off some of our security nightmare to Canada, which the Canadians accepted without hesitation. After all, the fear was that there were more terrorists lurking on airplanes, right?

The book takes a look at a number of folks whose travels and lives were interrupted by the plane diversion -- including (among others) the parents of a FDNY firefighter at Ground Zero, a couple returning to the US with a newly-adopted daughter, and a US general high up in the Army intelligence community. And then there are the "Newfies."

The people of the Gander area went so far beyond allowing these people to land. They toook them to heart. They stripped their own beds so the visitors could have sheets. They invited strangers into their homes to shower, in those cases were the shelters lacked such facilities. They offered the telephones and internet connections and ears to hear sad stories. They cooked and commiserated. This book was filled with many, many heart-warming interactions between the Newfies and their guests.

And in the process of reading, I learned a lot about Newfoundland, and the history of Gander -- and why in the world so many people wound up there on 9/11.

I can't say enough good things about this book.

Sep 15, 2012, 7:30pm Top

The 9/11 book sounds good. We don't often think of what happened in places other than New York and Pennsylvania and of what might have happened in D.C. It certainly impacted not only the U.S., but other nations (such as Canada) as well.

Sep 16, 2012, 12:13am Top

I've read another review of The Day the World Came to Town that was just as positive. It's moving a bit higher on my WL. & I've got a soft spot for Newfies - both the dogs and the people.

Sep 16, 2012, 8:29pm Top

Hi, Lori and Katie! I'm really glad I read the book. It was a way of remembering 9/11 that actually left me feeling a little hopeful.

Sep 16, 2012, 9:13pm Top

Yes - I watched My Name is Khan, which is an odd way of remembering - not planned, and the movie certainly has some flaws ie if airlifting one injured person out of a flood-locked church is possible, don't you think the church would've been evacuated already??? - but it was a good reminder of the whole horrible thing.

Edited: Sep 19, 2012, 7:43am Top

Katie, I'm not at all familiar with My Name is Khan.

if airlifting one injured person out of a flood-locked church is possible, don't you think the church would've been evacuated already???

It would depend upon the situation and rescue resources available. Perhaps if one person had special needs, such as injuries or a medical condition, they might be a priority, while more able-bodied folks would need to wait.

I can't believe my thread is over 200 posts! Oddly, my current thread here and my thread in the 75 Challenge will both stand at 211 messages after this post. Time to start a new one -- maybe after work.

Sep 19, 2012, 6:49pm Top

I've changed my mind. I'm going to wait and start my new thread Saturday morning, when Fall begins.

Sep 19, 2012, 9:13pm Top

Starting on the first day of fall sounds good. You're right - there might be a reason to have some people wait. I'd hate to have the movie fall apart just for one plot point.

Sep 20, 2012, 7:11pm Top

Definitly, I'll start the thread on Saturday, Katie.

Title: A Crown of Lights
Phil Rickman
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2001
Subject: Religious tolerance/intolerance; religous syncretism, village secrets
Setting: Welsh/English border
Series: Merrily Watkins
Dates Read: finished 9-20-12
Number of pages: 563
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: No, inter-library loan
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: On and On
How does it fit the category? series
Alternate category
Why did I read this book now? Fit with Surreal September & Sept. Series & Sequels
My Rating: Patience! I'm still sorting it out! Maybe 3.8

Betty and Robin, a young pagan couple, purchase the ruin of a discommissioned church which sits on an old Pagan worship site; Robin is determined to re-dedicate the place to pagan worship. A charismatic priest leads a local effort to drive them away. Merrily Watkins is sent into the fray by the Bishop to try to calm things down; in the meantime, she's drawn into the situation of a man who can't seem to let go of his dead wife's body. And someone has gone missing -- dead, maybe? And is there, perhaps, fiscal corruption afoot, too? And why is there a circle of 5 churches all dedicated to St. Michael surrounding Radnor forest?

Rickman draws such a diverse cast of characters. Merrily, central character in the series, is a fairly young, liberal-minded woman priest involved in Deliverance Ministry; she contrasts nicely with Father Ellis, the charismatic fundamentalist showman-priest who is stirring public hatred toward the pagans and otherwise engaging in some very questionable ministry practices (to put it mildly). The young couple offers its own contrast. Robin is clearly antagonistic toward Christianity; whereas Betty , a gifted psychic, is a most peaceable woman at heart. Then there is the newly widowed Gomer (rather a favorite character of mine), retired former operator of Gomer Parry Plant Hire, full of country attitudes, wisdom, and insight. And Merrily's teenage daughter Jane livens things up by rushing in where angels fear to tread . . .

Rickman delves into the sensitive-but-fascinating subject of how early Christianity appropriated pagan sites and traditions, "baptizing" them to give them Christian significance; and how rural Christianity maintained a closer relationship with pagan tradition than the citified version. It's a complex tale, with good and bad people in both spiritual traditions -- and an evil which may threaten harm to both.

Sep 20, 2012, 11:41pm Top

A Crown of Lights sounds really good! WL! So many characters though! Did you have trouble keeping everybody straight?

Sep 21, 2012, 9:06am Top

There are even more, Katie. Some of the characters, I got to know in previous installments of the series. A comment I added on another thread was that I thought Rickman had just a little too much going on in this story. But I did manage to keep the characters straight, most of the time.

Sep 21, 2012, 4:35pm Top

The too much going on can work both ways - it's part of what is interesting about the book, but if it kills the pace... I'm still curious.

Edited: Sep 21, 2012, 11:18pm Top

The pace was OK . . . it was a rather long book. Just some of the plot aspects didn't really go anywhere I found useful.

Title: The Healing
Jonathan Odell
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2012
Subject: stories, freedom, healing
Setting: Satterlee Plantation, Mississippi
Dates Read: finished 9/21/12
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: borrowed
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Jambalaya (On the Bayou)
How does it fit the category? takes place on the Mississippi Delta, on a plantation in a swampy/bayou type environment
Alternate category
Why did I read this book now? loaned to me
My Rating: 3.8 stars

This book takes place in two different times, as Gram-Gram tells her stories of the past when she was a slave on a Mississippi plantation. This is a story about the power of stories, and the power of womanhood, about freedom and choices and the flow of lives as they touch one another.

Sep 21, 2012, 11:13pm Top

Title: Final Approach (AUDIO)
Rachel Brady
Copyright/Year of original publication: ?
Subject: skydiving chemist infiltrates drop zone to catch kidnappers
Setting: Houston, TX
Series: Emily Locke
Dates Read: finished 9/21/12
Number of pages: n/a
Off the Shelf? (pre-2012 or ER?) Source?: library download
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: not sure
How does it fit the category?
Alternate category
Why did I read this book now? available audio
My Rating: 3.5 stars

OK, I'm not sure why I read this, except that I was trying to find an audio that didn't have a waiting list, and this one actually had a decent rating on LT. I wasn't over-enthusiastic about it, but it actually turned out to be a decent mystery. Like most stories with amateur sleuths, the protagonist did her share of Really Foolish Actions, which always annoy me.

Emily Locke is a chemist with a company in Cleveland. She's asked by a detective with whom she's had past dealings to go to Houston, Texas to help him with the case of a missing child. He doesn't need her chemistry skills; her hobby is skydiving, and he needs her to infiltrate a skydiving drop zone.

Emily has some heavy history that figures into this mystery, and it's revealed gradually through the story.

This is actually pretty well written considering it's not only first in a series, but is apprently the author's first novel. I liked the character of Emily, despite her lapses in judgment. I wonder where her next mystery will take her?

Sep 22, 2012, 12:01am Top

Sky-diving heroines are usually a good thing. ;)

Edited: Sep 22, 2012, 11:12am Top

I think this was the only sky-diving heroine I've encountered lately. ;)

OK, folks, this thread is getting long, so I'm going to start a new one over here:


Come on over and join me!


Group: The 12 in 12 Category Challenge

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