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Laytonwoman's 2012 Summertime reading

This is a continuation of the topic Laytonwoman3rd (Linda) Trundles into 2012.

75 Books Challenge for 2012

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Edited: Jun 3, 2012, 2:26pm Top

Just monkeyin' around with books.

Edited: Oct 4, 2012, 7:07am Top

Reading list from January through May, 2012, can be found in the next post, with links to my comments on each book

Continuing here from June forward
(* indicates a book borrowed from the public library)

SEPTEMBER I'll not say a word about what I intend to read this month. Let's just see how it goes.

67. Dinner with Lenny by Jonathan Cott
66. Round Mountain by Castle Freeman, Jr.
65. Absolution by Patrick Flanery
*64. The Voice of the Violin by Andrea Camilleri
*63. The Snack Thief by Andrea Camilleri
*62. The Terra Cotta dog by Andrea Camilleri
61. The High Path by Ted Walker

AUGUST (Seriously, August???) I mean to join the August group read of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, maybe get to some of those wonderful Library of America books I recently acquired, and maybe an ER selection or two. I'm still behind on those, and have another one coming.

*60. The Shape of Water by Andrea Camillieri
59. The Forgetting River by Doreen Carvajal
*58. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain; audio book performed by Elijah Wood
57. A Cordiall Water by M. F. K. Fisher
56. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
*55. By a Slow River by Philippe Claudel
54. The World of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes

JULY Again, no goals. I'm not even sure I'll participate in Orange July this time, unless I get to The Night Circus this month.

53. Bootlegger's Daughter by Margaret Maron
*52. Stiff Upper Lip Jeeves! by P. G. Wodehouse Audiobook
51. No Signposts in the Sea by Vita Sackville-West
50. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
49. Joining the United States Coast Guard by Snow Wildsmith
*48. Untied by Meredith Baxter Audioboook
*47. The Likeness by Tana French
46. Arthur & George by Julian Barnes
45. Edenville Owls by Robert B. Parker
44.One Step Behind by Henning Mankell

JUNE. The month when summer comes to this hemisphere. No theme, no goals other than to participate in the Elizabeth Taylor June read, with The Sleeping Beauty.
ETA: Well, it has become clear that I won't be reading the Taylor this month. *sigh*

*43. If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor
42. 13 rue Thérèse by Elena Mauli Shapiro
*41. Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned by Walter Mosley
40. Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
39. Worshipful Company of Fletchers by James Tate
*38. The Garner Files by James Garner and Jon Winokur

Edited: Oct 4, 2012, 7:06am Top

Here is my reading list from January through May, 2012. Links should take you to the post where I discussed each one.

MAY in which I vow to read and review all those ER books languishing on my shelf and maybe do just a little of the MURDER and MAYHEM thing as well.

ETA: Well, I finished and reviewed two of the ER books, leaving just the one from March and the one from April, which I will read in June. Yet another title is now wending its way to me from the May batch. I asked for this, didn't I? And the only thing I read in May that really qualified as Murder & Mayhem was Townie, which did contain a fair amount of fisticuff action, but no violent death.

37. Red Bird poems by Mary Oliver
36. The United States Coast Guard and National Defense by Thomas P. Ostrom
35. Townie by Andre Dubus, III
34. Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton
*33. My Lucky Life in and out of Show Business by Dick Van Dyke (Audio)
32. Hope: A Tragedy by Shalom Auslander An ER selection.
31. WYRD SISTERS by Terry Pratchett


30. Singer: An Album edited by Ilan Stavans
29 The Rosewood Casket by Sharyn McCrumb
28.1 In the Dark Streets Shineth by David McCullough
*28. The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley (audio)
27. Towards Zero by Agatha Christie
26. The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig
25. Travels With Myself and Another by Martha Gellhorn


Most of my reads this month will be in the mystery/suspense/crime genres, or will have some connection thereto.

24. Fridays with Red by Bob Edwards. The only mystery about this one is why I bought it, and why I read it. Which is not a criticism of the book.
23. A View of the Harbour by Elizabeth Taylor
22. In the Woods by Tana French
21. Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch by Alice Hegan Rice
20. When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson
19. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman Connection to Mystery March: I was inspired to read it now by visiting with Dr. Siri Paiboun.
18. Speaking in Tongues by Jeffery Deaver
17. Thirty-Three Teeth by Colin Cotterill
16. The Lucky Cat by the great mystery-writing team of Frances and Richard Lockridge.

FEBRUARY CABIN FEVER MONTH (Reading from the Public Library mostly)

15. The Kitchen Boy by Robert Alexander
*14. Brother, I'm Dying by Edwidge Danticat
*13. Dissolution by C. J. Sansom
12. Palladian by Elizabeth Taylor
*11. Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward/
10. Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
*9 The Girl in the Blue Beret by Bobbie Ann Mason
*8 Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
7. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
*6. The Vesuvius Club by Mark Gatiss

JANUARY Orange January

5. Accordion Crimes by Annie Proulx Shortlisted for the Orange Prize in 1997
4.2 DNF Swamplandia! by Karen Russell A totally baffling Orange nominee
4. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson Should have been an Orange nominee, and Robinson did win one later on, so I'm counting it as an Honorary Orange read.
3. At Mrs. Lippincote's by Elizabeth Taylor
2. Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel Short-listed for the Orange Prize in 2006
1. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

Jun 3, 2012, 2:40pm Top

38. The Garner Files by James Garner and Jon Winokur Just fun to read, if you've ever fallen in love with one of Garner's characters. (And if you haven't, what's wrong with you?) Despite a couple infamous episodes where he "decked" somebody who pushed his buttons, Garner seems to have liked and been liked by almost everybody he ever worked with. But he isn't shy about telling us about the exceptions.

Jun 3, 2012, 6:34pm Top

Hah! Like your pic!

Edited: Jun 20, 2012, 7:34am Top

#5 Hah! I thought you would!

Jun 4, 2012, 9:47am Top


p.s. What book is the monkey reading? The cover looks vaguely familiar ...

Jun 5, 2012, 7:08am Top

Ooooh, James Garner - what a handsome man! I may have to check that one out...

Jun 5, 2012, 7:54am Top

#7 It's Hurricane Story by Jennifer Shaw, Laura. The link is to my review of it last year.

Jun 11, 2012, 1:07pm Top

39. Worshipful Company of Fletchers by James Tate This collection of intriguing poems won the National Book Award in 1994. The title delights me, and a few of the poems speak to me, if not clearly, at least comprehensibly. Most of them, however, are bewildering and incomprehensible, though they often present quirky or amusing visual images. In some cases, I think Tate may be playing with references to some 20th century writing that is totally unknown to me. I have read a good many of the selections multiple times, and the meaning doesn't become any clearer, but I must say there is almost no frustration in this, and I can't seem to put the book back on the shelf and say I'm done with it. I would give a lot to be able to sit down with Don Freas or Holly Wendt or another of my poetry-writing friends and hash a couple of these out.

Jun 11, 2012, 4:57pm Top

Fletchers as in people who make arrows?

Jun 11, 2012, 5:48pm Top

Yes. But there's really nothing in the poems that connects to that. One poem has the same title as the book, but blast me if I can see why! The Worshipful Company of Fletchers is a guild or "Livery Company" of the City of London....ancient, and still in existence.

Jun 11, 2012, 8:21pm Top

I shot an arrow in the air, and it landed I know not where?

Jun 12, 2012, 3:39pm Top

I put a sock monkey in a play I wrote once upon a time. For some reason, the words "sock monkey" are pretty hilarious when said with a bad French accent.

Edited: Jun 15, 2012, 3:38pm Top

I hear Peter Sellers in my head. "Zat is not my zok munkeee". In fact, it is not my sock monkey, but my husband's---a cheer-up gift when he spent a couple days in the hospital last fall. His name is Winston. Or Watson. Or something like.
ETA: Morgan. He tells me it's "Morgan". Close, wasn't I?

Jun 12, 2012, 7:13pm Top

I would like a rhoom for my sak minky.

Jun 12, 2012, 7:58pm Top

Omg too funny.

Jun 15, 2012, 12:40pm Top

>15 laytonwoman3rd: - 17 - I rest my case.

Edited: Jul 22, 2012, 5:45pm Top

40. Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel No mean feat, to take a story so well known to so many and bring it blazingly to life in a new and absorbing way. Thank you, Hilary Mantel...do keep writing, won't you? This was an ER selection, and I will be composing something more review-like in due course. For now, let's just say it was excellent.

Review here.

Edited: Jun 17, 2012, 12:47pm Top

41. Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned by Walter Mosley Another author who has yet to disappoint me. This selection is hard to categorize---it isn't really a novel, but it isn't exactly a collection of short stories either. Whatever we call it, it works. Socrates Fortlow is a man who lives with violence and poverty, yet he finds life not only harsh, but beautiful as well. After serving 27 years in prison for a double murder, he has paid his debt to society, but hasn't let himself off the moral hook. His sense of right and wrong direct everything he does, and while some acts might fall outside the Law, Socrates has a keener definition of those terms than most inhabitants of his neighborhood--Watts in the 1990's. He is a man to be feared and respected, most especially when he is struggling to find a way to respect himself.

Jun 20, 2012, 6:12am Top

Belatedly catching up on 75 Challenge Threads, you've been powering away. Love monkey reading. Townie just hit my Amazon basket, as did Tom Kitten's recommendation in you're earlier thread of the biography on Lee Miller.

Edited: Oct 4, 2012, 9:12pm Top

42. 13, rue Thérèse by Elena Mauli Shapiro Finished this a couple days ago, and will have something to say about it shortly.

Jun 22, 2012, 9:41pm Top

Oh good, I think I have that one sitting here somewhere. Unread.

Jun 23, 2012, 12:04am Top

#42....loved that one --the format was most entertaining and engaging. can't wait to hear your thoughts.

Edited: Jun 29, 2012, 10:03pm Top

Oh, dear, Tui and Tutu...I'm afraid I'm going throw cold water on you both. I definitely did NOT love 13, rue Thérèse, although I did find things to admire in it. Still working on putting the reactions into coherent written form. Stop in again, won't you?

43. If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor I found this book on the "staff picks" shelf at the library; I was intrigued by the title, and it looked well-read, so I snagged it. I loved it, found it poignant and lyrical and astonishingly beautiful. It has virtually no plot, lots of nameless characters, almost no punctuation, a bit of poetic formatting and a few other "literary" quirks that would often put me right off. (In fact a fair number of reviewers here have said, in effect, "Oh, please. A little less cleverness, mate.") For some reason in this case, I fell right into the seeming hodgepodge of character vignettes and back-and-forth action without minding the overtly prize-worthy style at all. The action all takes place on one day in one urban neighborhood in a city that has no name either, but there are references to the back-stories of many of the characters. Eventually we see the remarkable bits peeking out of the ordinary and oft-repeated events of their lives.

Jun 29, 2012, 9:42pm Top

>25 laytonwoman3rd:: oh dear, I'm doused with cold water as well. I enjoyed 13, rue Thérèse and bought it on the basis of a Belletrista review (by MaggieO, if memory serves). I'm sorry it didn't work for you. Off to find some dry clothes ...

Jun 29, 2012, 10:02pm Top

I think it was the Belle review that got me, too. But now I can't seem to find it. I'd like to read it again and see what I'm missing here.

Jun 29, 2012, 11:49pm Top

Well, not everything speaks to everyone. I've been knocked into the stratosphere by books that others have panned. Sometimes it's just the right moment for a certain story and at other times it might not be.

Jul 1, 2012, 11:20pm Top

Ah....the cold water feels great considering the heat. It's perfectly ok to not like something. I can certainly see where it will be a book to engender many many different opinions.

Jul 4, 2012, 12:41pm Top

44. One Step Behind by Henning Mankell This is my first Kurt Wallander novel. Wallander is a Swedish police detective, and in this installment, at least, he seems a bit out of his element investigating a series of brutal murders of overtly happy people. He forgets his mobile phone, thereby landing himself in dire straits on more than one occasion. He makes very little progress in the investigation; most of his interviews seem to come to nothing, and when he does identify the suspect it is almost by accident. He is coping (not well) with recently discovered health issues including elevated blood pressure and blood sugar, and cannot seem to remember to take his medication or to eat when he ought to. The man is borderline incompetent, not to put too fine a point upon it. I feel I may have done the series a disservice by starting in the middle somewhere, but I find the style a bit dreary and repetitive, and I suspect the translation may be partly to blame. As a police procedural, One Step Behind lacks a lot in the procedure department, and we never get a decent explanation as to what the psychopathic killer was all about. I may give another Mankell a chance, because I know there are many many devoted Wallander fans out there, and they must see something I'm missing.

Jul 4, 2012, 2:06pm Top

>30 laytonwoman3rd:: they must see something I'm missing. Yep: Kenneth Branagh. I've only read one of the books and enjoyed his portrayal a lot more.

Jul 4, 2012, 4:41pm Top

#31 Yeah, see, after reading this book, I would never have picked Branagh for the part.

Jul 5, 2012, 8:38am Top

45. Edenville Owls by Robert B. Parker A chivalric tale of 14-year-olds who set out to save their 8th grade teacher from a mysterious man who they believe to be abusing her. Set in a small town in the school year that begins after WWII ends, this YA novel takes on some tough adult issues, including white supremacy, nationalism and the role of women in the work force. Naturally, as this is Parker, the good guys prevail by their wits, and the hero gets the girl. I enjoyed reading Edenville Owls, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it to young adults. I am no good really at assessing how they might respond to it, but my gut reaction is they wouldn't quite buy it all. Probably this one is only for die-hard fans like me, and for Joan Parker, now Bob's widow. It's no coincidence that the hero is Bobby and his best friend and staunchest ally is a girl named Joanie.

Jul 5, 2012, 8:40am Top

All right, now, look. You are meant to be reading Arthur and George. Hup, hup.

Jul 5, 2012, 10:27am Top

#34. Hoity-toity, George.

Jul 5, 2012, 10:56am Top

@ 35


Jul 11, 2012, 7:45am Top

46. Arthur & George by Julian Barnes Rich and engrossing fictional account of the lives of Arthur Conan Doyle and George Eydalji, a young solicitor preposterously accused and convicted of a series of crimes that any modern devotee of forensic thrillers, literary or cinematic, would have instantly determined to be totally incompatible with his nature and his upbringing. Despite being quite sure of his innocence, I found George a bit hard to root for. And Arthur...well, several unflattering adjectives come to mind, merely proving once again that genius is often accompanied by baffling and unattractive personality traits. Good writing, good reading.

Jul 11, 2012, 8:26am Top

>37 laytonwoman3rd:: oh good, I'm glad you liked it!

Jul 20, 2012, 2:47pm Top

47. The Likeness by Tana French A page-turner that kept me trying to read way past my bedtime, even when I was falling asleep. This second novel in the "Dublin Murder" series features Detective Cassie Maddox, who agrees to return to undercover work when a woman's body is found in an isolated cottage. Not only is the woman dead, but she is a dead ringer for Cassie, AND she's been using an identity that Cassie invented for herself in a different undercover operation years earlier. Who was she before she took on the Lexie Madison identity, and how did she end up here, bleeding out from a small stab wound, and what's with those four misfit housemates of hers up at Whitethorn--can Cassie really convince them that she is Lexie, recovering from that stabbing, and keep it together long enough to find out who wanted to kill her? It's great stuff, skillfully handled, if a bit wordy at times.

Jul 20, 2012, 4:21pm Top

48. Untied by Meredith Baxter Audio book performed by the author. Meredith Baxter's memoir of her life in show business, her lack of connection to her mother, her three failed marriages, her alcoholism and her ultimate realization that she is gay. Parts of this were entertaining, parts were moving, and parts were downright distasteful (enough already of what a bastid Michael Birney was; I got it in half the time it took her to tell it). A tad over-dramatic in her reading at times, but at other times totally engaging. A good-enough driving-to-work book, but I certainly wouldn't have wasted actual reading time on it.

Jul 24, 2012, 8:45am Top

49. Joining the United States Coast Guard by Snow Wildsmith This handbook is part of a series, Joining the Military, with one volume for each of the branches of the U.S. armed services. Its aim is to provide young people contemplating military service with the information they need to make an informed choice as to whether the military life is right for them, and if so, which branch offers the opportunities best suited to a particular individual. It is not a recruiting tool, but an objective look at the process of joining and serving in the armed services. The first chapters are general, covering concerns that are applicable to any branch; they include how to talk to a recruiter, how to get your affairs in order before enlisting, what your family should know about military service, information on the armed services vocational aptitude testing process and so on. Then the book moves to Coast Guard specific requirements, practices, lifestyle and training. It include a lot of practical advice on things you can do to prepare yourself for boot camp, physically and psychologically, and things you can learn ahead of time (like the phonetic alphabet) to make training go more smoothly. There is a glossary, charts of military ranks and insignia, the list of what recruits should and should not take with them to boot camp, and a "For More Information" section with books, websites and other resources for the prospective recruit. Above all, this book is well-written. My only quibble is with the copy editing---I caught multiple instances of extra words or missing words (usually articles and prepositions) in the text.

Jul 24, 2012, 9:15am Top

>41 laytonwoman3rd:: I'm curious what inspired you to read that one, Linda?

Edited: Jul 24, 2012, 9:53am Top

What, you don't think I'm contemplating a military career?

It's an Early Reviewer book I requested, Laura. Thought it would be interesting to see what the program is like 40+ years after my husband went through it. He skimmed the book too, and was impressed with it, as well as with the many differences between his experience and what happens now. You may remember I reviewed another Coast Guard-related book earlier this year, and found it wretched. I also wanted to get that taste out of my mouth!

Jul 24, 2012, 11:07am Top

You're becoming quite the Queen of the Coast Guard, Linda!

Jul 24, 2012, 11:15am Top

#44 If only I wasn't afraid of the water!! I don't mind a pool, or a creek or a nice calm lake, but the ocean frightens me, and I'm not a strong swimmer (hate to put my face in the water!), so the Guard would not be for me. Amazingly, when my husband was in boot camp, there was one recruit who was really afraid of the water, and never could pass the swimming test. Inevitably, he "washed out". One wonders what his recruiter was thinking when he signed him up, never mind the lad himself.

Jul 24, 2012, 11:29am Top

I was a good swimmer and didn't like swimming in the ocean. That's where the sharks are. If I ever have a Coast Guard question, I sure know who to ask!

Jul 24, 2012, 11:32am Top

One wonders what his recruiter was thinking when he signed him up

Making his quota?

Jul 24, 2012, 11:59am Top

@ 45

I keep tellin' ya, I could get you over that "face in the water" thing, given the opportunity.

Edited: Jul 24, 2012, 12:07pm Top

#46 Sharks, jellyfish, undertows, waves, leviathans, Davy Jones...

#47 I don't know whether they had quotas, Rebecca. This was Vietnam draft era, and the Coast Guard was a fairly good bet to keep you OUT of that (although they did serve there, and lost a high percentage of their men). I don't think they had trouble filling their slots. According to this book, present recruiters have enlistment goals, but there are no incentives attached.

#48 In this, you are your father's child. I'll take credit for almost everything else.

Jul 24, 2012, 1:08pm Top

>43 laytonwoman3rd:: interesting ... makes sense now!

Edited: Jul 24, 2012, 9:25pm Top

Hi Linda- I'm not sure I've made it over here before. I like your book choices. I also enjoyed the Likeness and I'm looking forward to French's latest. I have Arthur & George on my WL. It sounds really good.
BTW- We share over 230 books! Not bad, huh?

Jul 24, 2012, 10:25pm Top

Hi, Mark. Welcome! I hope you'll put my thread on your regular visitation route.

Edited: Jul 27, 2012, 7:22pm Top

50. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern Comments reserved 'til lycomayflower someone else has finished reading it.

My Review is posted

Jul 27, 2012, 12:53pm Top

@ 53

Yeah, yeah. Am making a push today, as Olympics start tonight and I expect my reading will drop way off. (I'm about halfway--does anything ever happen?)

Jul 27, 2012, 1:52pm Top


Jul 27, 2012, 3:10pm Top

Jul 27, 2012, 3:21pm Top

@ 55

LOL. That face prooobably about sums it up for me so far.

Jul 27, 2012, 3:59pm Top

Just biding my time, waiting to hear more from both of they laytonwomen about this book. I shunned it due to hype, which I'm starting to think was a wise move!

Jul 27, 2012, 7:22pm Top

I have posted my review on the book page, so those who want to can seek it out, yet it does not need to color the impressions of those still reading it. Ahem.

Edited: Jul 28, 2012, 11:28pm Top

I found it enchanting but then I have always known the world works by magic.

ETA: read your review. It hit us differently, I guess.

Jul 29, 2012, 8:46am Top

Linda- Interesting review of The Night Circus. I thumbed you. Sorry, it didn't work better for you. I enjoyed it, not on a 5 star level but definitely a 4 star one.

Jul 29, 2012, 11:27am Top

#61 Thanks for the thumb, Mark. I'm half considering adding a half star...

#60 I had no problem with the magic part---in fact I found much of that enchanting myself. I just felt it fell apart as a story. I see how it could catch you up so thoroughly that you wouldn't mind that. It's happened to me often enough. One of those inexplicable phenomena---why didn't this one work for me? I'm still thinking about it, so obviously I'm not at all sorry I read it.

Edited: Jul 30, 2012, 11:55am Top

Had my tongue in my cheek about myself at >60 tiffin:.

Edited: Jul 29, 2012, 6:47pm Top

51. No Signposts in the Sea by Vita Sackville-West A short sad story of a dying man attempting to make the most of his final days on a long sea voyage, cautiously pursuing a woman he views as unattainable. I enjoyed it, in spite of its weaknesses and predictability, because the writing is so fine.

Jul 31, 2012, 8:36am Top

52. Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse (Audio) Sometimes a dose of Wodehouse is just what the doctor ordered. Chuckling through your commute on a Monday morning is bound to help you cope with whatever is going to hit you when you walk into the office. As usual, Jeeves copes admirably with the vicissitudes of Bertie's fortunes, and it all comes out OK in spite of dispeptic magistrates, matrimonially inclined maidens, and the dog Bartholomew.

Edited: Aug 1, 2012, 1:41pm Top

53. Bootlegger's Daughter by Margaret Maron The first in the Deborah Knott series, which was recommended to me by a couple LT'ers, I think Joycepa and Brainflakes, perhaps. I enjoyed it a lot for its local color (North Carolina tobacco country) and good plotting. Didn't hurt that I figured out whodunit in good time---not too soon, not too late---and that I liked the characters too. I've just ordered the next two in the series from Paperback Book Swap. Exactly the kind of R & R reading I need these days.

Aug 1, 2012, 4:53pm Top

ohhhh that last one looks interesting, especially since Charlie liked it. And isn't Wodehouse just the best medicine at times? Rhys is a huge P.G. fan, btw.

Aug 1, 2012, 4:54pm Top

Yes, Wodehouse has a tonic effect, especially when dealing with Old Relatives and whatnot.

Aug 1, 2012, 5:10pm Top

I've never seen the My Man Jeeves movies. Wonder if they are any good?

Aug 1, 2012, 9:31pm Top

I don't know. Having seen Frye and Laurie in the TV series, I'd have a hard time accepting any other dramatisation (if that's the word I mean).

Aug 5, 2012, 8:55pm Top

54. The World of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes I spent an enjoyable afternoon perusing this companion to the PBS series. Full of lush pictures, comments from the actors & actresses, explanations of how sets, hairstyles and costumes were managed, and a fair bit of history to put it all in context. Excellent.

Edited: Aug 6, 2012, 8:14am Top

55. By a Slow River by Phillippe Claudel An enigmatic, possibly unreliable narrator tells a tale of sorrow, suspense, tragedy and ironic justice set in a small village in France during WWI. I found reading this novel frustrating and rewarding in approximately equal parts. The non-linear narrative kept me slightly off-balance, while the underlying mysteries kept me reading with a sense of some urgency. A few translational glitches threw me out of the moment from time to time, and I wish they had kept the original title, Gray Souls, which seems so much more appropriate.

Aug 6, 2012, 8:25am Top

#72: I need to get hold of some of Claudel's books. I know I have at least a couple of them in the BlackHole. Thanks for the reminder, Linda.

Aug 8, 2012, 6:26am Top

>>32 laytonwoman3rd:. Me neither Linda, the Swedish actor fits better for me. I like Branagh generally, and have often seen him on stage, but he is mis-cast in my view.

Aug 13, 2012, 10:07pm Top

56. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith An old friend revisited. Despite being separated by almost 50 years and vastly different circumstances of life, Francie Nolan and I had a lot in common as girls growing up. We even share a birthday! I'm a sucker for a good coming-of-age story, and this is one of the best. I do have a couple quibbles: it has always bothered me that Francie was described as attempting to read straight through the library alphabetically, at the rate of a book a day when she was 11. First of all, alphabetically by what? Subject? Author? Both, it would appear. "Already she had read about bees and buffaloes, Bermuda vacations and Byzantine architecture." "She chose her book for Sunday; something by an author named Brown. Francie figured she had been reading on the Browns for months." How were those books shelved and cataloged anyway? And really, she never came across a book she couldn't finish in a day? Well, it's minor in the scheme of things, I suppose.

The other issue I have involves Francie's grandmother, Mary Rommely. As a character, she isn't terribly well-developed or entirely believable for me, and the author's presence is too obvious in her scenes.
She plays a fairly significant role in Francie's life, giving Katie Nolan advice about reading and saving money, but it's all just thrust at her in a speech on the occasion of Francie's birth, almost like a soliloquy from Shakespeare, who the illiterate woman reveres as author of one of the two great books she has heard of.

Now, for what's great about the book...part of Betty Smith's brilliance is that she could make a comfortably situated country girl from Pennsylvania identify with an excruciatingly poor Irish girl of her grandmother's generation living in a Brooklyn tenement. Character, setting, story----all the elements work for me, even the third time through, with the slight exceptions noted above. I love Francie, and I understand her---in fundamental ways we were very much alike on the inside. Alternately gutsy and afraid, proud and ashamed, obedient and defiant, practical and fanciful...she's the quintessential adolescent girl.

Aug 14, 2012, 7:09am Top

Love your review, Linda ... especially your quibbles which I never would have noticed when I read this in childhood!

Aug 15, 2012, 12:46pm Top

I know what you mean, Laura. But the feeling about the book a day part was so familiar that I suspect that struck me the first time I read it. I might have been in high school already, though.

Aug 15, 2012, 1:12pm Top

57. A Cordiall Water by M. F. K. Fisher A little gem of folk medicine lore by one of my favorite authors, who considered this one of her best books. As she says, "much of what we know of medicine comes from very ancient times, and from the birds and animals that we have watched." It's fascinating to read about the origins of some of the "receipts" for tonics and palliatives. Honey, herbs, vinegar, whisky or brandy, and faith in their properties, have eased a lot of complaints over time. Fisher observes that the simple act of swallowing something deliberately and on a schedule may have a calming effect that soothes the misery while time brings on the cure that was coming anyway.

Aug 16, 2012, 7:21am Top

Oooh, your #57 sounds interesting...

Aug 16, 2012, 8:02am Top

If you don't know M. F. K. Fisher, Amber, I encourage you to read something of hers. She wrote mostly about food in context, and I love her stuff.

Aug 16, 2012, 8:10am Top

I've added A Cordiall Water to my wishlist - thanks for the rec! It really does sound right up my proverbial alley.

Aug 16, 2012, 9:32am Top

How to Cook a Wolf and Consider the Oyster are two of my favorites by Fisher. (Why should you get off with only ONE addition to your list?)

Aug 16, 2012, 9:38am Top

Sigh. Done.

Edited: Aug 18, 2012, 12:06pm Top

58. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: A Signature Performance by Elijah Wood audiobook I must say I would have been skeptical of Elijah Wood as a narrator for this quintessentially American story, with all its many Southern dialects and quirky country characters. But it was highly recommended and lent to me by a friend, so I gave it a try. It was nothing short of amazing. Listening to this is second only to hearing Hal Holbrook's performances in character as Mark Twain; in some ways it's even better, because Wood doesn't affect Twain's rather high-pitched voice, and his interpretation of characters is wider and deeper. He hit all the high points of the narrative with perfection, and even made the tedious and preposterous ending chapters flow along briskly. It's the most pure fun I've had with this book since the first time I read it. If you're going to listen to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, this is a fine edition to plug into.

Aug 18, 2012, 11:30am Top

>84 laytonwoman3rd:: how did he do?

Aug 18, 2012, 12:06pm Top

#84 There, I think maybe I've answered your question!

Aug 18, 2012, 12:35pm Top


Aug 18, 2012, 12:43pm Top

Linda- Great review of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn! I would also definitely be interested in listening to Elijah Wood's reading of Huck. Perfect for a re-read. Hope you are having a nice weekend.

Aug 18, 2012, 1:14pm Top

It's available from Audible.com, Mark. I don't know about discs.

Edited: Sep 30, 2012, 9:59pm Top

59. The Forgetting River by Doreen Carvajal This was an ER selection, and quite fascinating in parts, but ultimately a bit of a head-shaker. Full review here

Edited: Aug 23, 2012, 11:14am Top

Linda, I just read an article by this author in the New York Times and it fascinated me so much I added her book to my Amazon wishlist. I have long been interested in the families in the southwest who are discovering that some of their "family traditions" are actually Jewish customs and that they are descended from families who "converted" during the Spanish Inquisition. I am eager to read your review once it has percolated.

Edited: Aug 23, 2012, 11:20am Top

I thought you might be interested in this one, Rebecca. Even though I've read other books that touched on the conversos, this one had some startling (to me) information in it.

EDIT: Your link takes me to a blank new subject box in the Book Talk group./> The link works fine now.

Edited: Aug 23, 2012, 11:16am Top

That's weird! On iPhone so can't fix until I get back to computer this afternoon. Will delete bad link for now.

ETA Looks like I just left out the http:// Should be OK now.

Sep 1, 2012, 1:48pm Top

60. The Shape of Water by Andrea Camillieri. OK, so now I'm hooked on this series too. Sped through this first entry, and have the next two sitting here, putting me right off the more serious reading I had laid out for myself. I'll just have to renew The Selfish Gene again, and try to finish The High Path, a Slightly Foxed memoir, before I start The Terra Cotta Dog. Discipline...that's the ticket. Hmph.

Sep 1, 2012, 1:51pm Top

Discipline schmiscipline: dive in! As me old dad used to say, you're dead a long time.

Sep 1, 2012, 4:59pm Top

Ha ha ha, Linda! Pretty soon I'll have half of LT addicted to Camilleri. There's nothing an addict likes more than getting others hooked too!

Sep 1, 2012, 6:27pm Top

I'm reading #4, Rebecca the Enabler!

Sep 2, 2012, 6:35am Top

*fingers in ears*
la la la I can't hear you!

Sep 3, 2012, 11:49am Top

So glad to hear you've joined the Montalbano fan club. I just downloaded the last one I haven't read. My hubs is also a fan, so we will listen to this one on our drive to Boston this weekend. The book is 5 hrs, the trip is about 4, so we'll be able to finish it up individually easy-peezee...

Sep 3, 2012, 1:39pm Top

#98 Resistance is futile!!!

#99 It's a very large fan club, isn't it Tina? And for good reason, as I see now.

Sep 3, 2012, 4:44pm Top

61. The High Path by Ted Walker A Slightly Foxed edition, delightful to hold and to read. I am not familiar with Ted Walker's poetry, but from his prose I would have guessed him to be a poet. He writes with grace and beauty of his childhood in Sussex before, during and after WWII. At times, there is a stream of consciousness feeling to the writing as he moves from one memory to another, and clear bright images nearly pop from the page. On the day that the local beach was once again open after the danger of mines and invasion was deemed past: "The tide was far out, the sun was just setting. There were hundreds of people strolling, their faces lit with pink delight. This, then was what Peace was: to stand and gaze at the unsinister sea; to pick up a streamer of bladder-wrack and watch it lift with the wind." I also must confess that many a sentence floated past me on the beauty of its phrasing without leaving any impression of its sense behind....I often have this feeling when reading poetry, and frequently I don't mind it enough to go back and sort out the meaning. Then there are full-of-meaning sentences that cast me right back to the age of 4 or 5, as in Walker's description of his first day of school: "In an apple-green room (containing chairs so stupidly small you did not have to climb in order to sit on them) I was unstrapped from my push-chair by a strange woman who asked me my name. I wondered why she asked it: everybody, surely, knew who I was?" How well I remember that awful moment when my mother left me in my kindergarten classroom, and suddenly I realized that nobody in that room knew who I was, or where I belonged. This is one of the wonderful parts of reading excellent memoirs---they remind you of things about yourself that you had forgotten, even when you are as widely separated from the author as a country girl from the Pennsylvania woods is from an English schoolboy who went off to Cambridge when she was not yet two years old. Trust a poet to know what those things are.

Sep 5, 2012, 10:08pm Top

I'll be reading The Shape of Water soon. I downloaded it yesterday from my library. E-book format.

Sep 5, 2012, 10:09pm Top

I don't think I have The High Path but I think, after reading this, that I should. Lovely, Linda.

Sep 10, 2012, 2:52pm Top

62. The Terra Cotta Dog by Andrea Camilleri No. 2 in the Inspector Montalbano series...fun , interesting, surprising. How can I not love this irascible, curiosity-driven Sicilian police inspector who reads Faulkner and eats so well? I'm not going to tout this series in detail--many others have done a stellar job of that already (Rebecca, Richard, Joyce, Tui---you all know who you are). If you like your mysteries a little on the quirky side, you'll love these.

Sep 10, 2012, 5:07pm Top

Ha ha, Linda's hooked now!

Sep 10, 2012, 7:08pm Top

*evil Muttley laugh*

Sep 10, 2012, 7:10pm Top

*sigh* I will get to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn one of these years!

Sep 10, 2012, 8:33pm Top

#105, 106....pushers.

#17 Hey, Stasia. Glad you could drop by! You really should put Tree high on your list; I know you'd love it.

Sep 17, 2012, 12:36pm Top

63. The Snack Thief by Andrea Camilleri I'm doing my best to join the club by reading straight through as many of these as my library can provide. This one has a dual mystery in it, which as we all know, always means a common element will emerge and our hero/sleuth/detective will put the pieces together eventually. Also some more drooling over food, and a tug at the heartstrings provided by the title character. I finished it after bedtime last night, got up out of the sack and went to the living room to grab the next one in the series, which was lying in wait, and continued reading as if there were no break in the story at all.

Sep 17, 2012, 11:25pm Top

A box of 7 more arrived today from Amazon. I can now indulge in a bit of binging meself.

Sep 18, 2012, 7:58am Top

Chortling at getting the two of you addicted . . .

Sep 19, 2012, 11:27am Top

Glad to provide you with amusement, Rebecca.

64. The Voice of the Violin by Andrea Camilleri I couldn't wait to see the developments at the end of The Snack Thief play out, although I was pretty sure it wouldn't be smooth. Soooo many things go wrong in this one, you just have to feel bad for Salvo, even though he brought a good many of them on himself. At least he got to eat some baby octopi in spicy sauce, a treat I fear I will never get to experience.

Edited: Sep 19, 2012, 1:12pm Top

Spent my lunch break today reading a powerful short story titled "Indelible" by the wonderful Holly Wendt, which you all can read or listen to as well, by going here. Language warning for those who mind that kind of thing.

Edited: Sep 28, 2012, 8:32am Top

65. Absolution by Patrick Flanery This will be one of my top ten for the year. My full review is now posted.

Sep 23, 2012, 7:35pm Top

>114 laytonwoman3rd:: one of your top 10! Wow!

Sep 23, 2012, 7:37pm Top

Waiting for THAT review!

Sep 24, 2012, 7:15am Top

Indeed - talk about a teaser...

*Taps foot impatiently*

Sep 24, 2012, 7:39am Top

You've had 12 hours ... now, wait, 13 hours. What are you waiting for?!

Sep 24, 2012, 7:50am Top

I'm waiting for the damn thing to write itself! Having trouble getting reviews to gel for me lately. But it's nice to know someone is encouraging the effort! Thanks, you guys.

Sep 24, 2012, 8:30am Top

#114: I am waiting for the review too! The pressure, the pressure. . .

Sep 24, 2012, 9:54am Top

>119 laytonwoman3rd:: hahahaha I know that feeling!

Sep 26, 2012, 12:29am Top

Linda....I know exactly how you feel about writing reviews. I've had 6 sitting and waiting and FINALLY got to them tonite. Writing them, particularly if you have a book you feel is special, just has to wait until the time is right. That said, I'm looking forward to your review....no pressure. It will probably take me another week to get back to catching up on threads again.

Sep 26, 2012, 7:59am Top

Wow, Tina...six reviews in one sitting? I'm impressed. I hope to have some "me" time today, so maybe I'll try to force the issue with the two I need to write.

Sep 26, 2012, 12:08pm Top

six reviews in one sitting ? As my husband always says "When you're hot, you're hot!" I just get on a roll and as long as he's willing to keep filling up my coffee cup and my bladder holds out, I just keep going. I turn off the phone and ignore the world while the writing juices are flowing. Now it's catch up on threads time, read some more, and go swimming this afternoon so I can listen to Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet- i'd not read it before and it's for our book club next month. I'm loving it, so it's not a hardship at all.

Edited: Oct 1, 2012, 10:50am Top

66. Round Mountain by Castle Freeman, Jr. A collection of interconnected short stories that really took my breath away. These are set in rural Vermont, but the people and places described so beautifully by the author could have been lifted intact from my childhood in Northeastern Pennsylvania. In fact, while reading one of the stories I felt I was walking around inside a house I knew very well as a kid. I'd say Freeman has created an incredibly real world, except that I know he didn't make any of this stuff up. Maybe the stories came from his imagination, but the settings are tangible, and the people aren't "characters"...they exist too. The first couple stories seem almost unfinished, but as you read further you realize that they belong to the collection, and each subsequent story adds another piece to the whole. Some of them stand alone very well, while others need to be read in context of their companions to reveal their full impact.
I received this book free from Concord Free Press, and I'm obliged to pass it on. The terms are explained on their website, but simply stated, upon receipt of a book, you agree to donate something to a charity of your choice, and to pass on the book when you're finished to another reader who will make the same commitment. I hate to give this one up, but I hereby offer it to anyone in the U.S. who reads this and is willing to be part of this project..

ETA: I've had a taker for my copy of this book. Anyone else who may be interested can probably still get it from the Concord Press website. And don't forget the thread for Concord Press discussions and book-sharing, which can be found here.

Sep 26, 2012, 7:45pm Top

Wow, Linda. What a great review and what an interesting project!

Sep 27, 2012, 10:03am Top

What Rebecca said.

Sep 27, 2012, 12:18pm Top

Must read that book...what a cool Idea.

Edited: Sep 28, 2012, 8:33am Top

For all you breathless followers, my full review of Absolution is now posted.

I still need to craft one for The Forgetting River, but that should be easier, and shorter.

Sep 28, 2012, 8:35am Top

#125: I just added Round Mountain to the BlackHole based on Lucy's review or I would be adding it again!

Sep 28, 2012, 8:44am Top

I am reading The Forgetting River now, Linda, and I'll be interested in your review.

Edited: Sep 28, 2012, 2:13pm Top

67. Dinner with Lenny by Jonathan Cott A quick and totally absorbing read. This is the full length version of a 12-hour conversation the author had with Leonard Bernstein in 1989, just a year before the conductor's death. It is filled with jewels of observation and opinion from a man whose musical brilliance was apparently nearly matched by his comprehensive knowledge (of Freud; of Keats, whose sonnets he recited from memory; of languages; of various religions; of painting, politics, philosophy; of, godhelpus, Finnegan's Wake). What a treat---what an exhausting, exhilarating treat---it must have been to spend time with such a dynamic individual. It is well known by now that Bernstein indulged himself in love affairs of all sorts; he smoked incessantly and refused to give it up although he was diagnosed with emphysema in his mid-twenties; he drank; he partied; he composed, conducted and performed. He very nearly managed to die on the podium as he had once said he hoped to do. Cott's interview, which originally appeared in a much abridged version in Rolling Stone magazine in 1990, allows the full force of Bernstein's personality to leap off the page, periodically bursting into song. This book is scheduled for publication in January of 2013, and will reportedly include photographs selected from the archives of the New York Philharmonic and other sources, which unfortunately were not embedded in the ARC I read. Even without pictures, this one rates 5 stars.

Sep 28, 2012, 3:16pm Top

Absolution sounds fantastic. And what an excellent review, too!

Sep 28, 2012, 3:35pm Top

#133 I think you would appreciate it, Laura.

Sep 28, 2012, 8:11pm Top

That was a really, really good review, Linda. A big honking green thumb from me.

Edited: Sep 30, 2012, 9:58pm Top

Finally got around to polishing off my review of The Forgetting River in No. 90 above. I hate it when I let them sit so long.

Sep 30, 2012, 11:49pm Top

Another good review but I think I'll give this one a pass. I find it frustrating to read meandering tales with a dearth of documentation. If it's to be a scholarly work, make it one. If it's to be a memoir/journal, make this clear.

Oct 1, 2012, 7:00am Top

#137 Yes, you've nailed the problem with The Forgetting River, Tui.

Oct 1, 2012, 7:27am Top

I agree with Tui; it tried to be a lot of different things and didn't work at any of them. But Linda, I don't think I ever though of Ferdinand and Isabella as "enlightened" -- not only did they expel the Jews and the Muslims from Spain but they sent off Columbus not for the noble goal of exploration but in order to find a quicker path to the riches of the east! And they funded his voyages with the money and property they confiscated from the people they expelled!

Edited: Oct 1, 2012, 7:56am Top

Well, my tongue was firmly in my cheek when I wrote "enlightened", Rebecca. I should have used the quote marks, as you did.

Oct 1, 2012, 8:47am Top

I should have realized!

Oct 3, 2012, 6:52am Top

Wow, lots of interesting reads and reviews going on over here - you've been busy!

Oct 3, 2012, 10:08am Top

Hi Linda, I've enjoyed getting caught up with you. This is old news, but I really liked your review of The Night Circus, a book which left me strangely dissatisfied, too, though I don't regret reading it. Snookered? Perhaps. I've got to quit getting caught up in book hype.

Whatcha reading now?

Oct 3, 2012, 10:11am Top

Hey, there, Amber---just finally got my reviewing caught up. Sometimes the "interesting" ones are tough to write!

Hi, Donna, good to see you here. At the moment, I'm about half way through Tana French's third Dublin novel, Faithful Place, and loving it. I'm also re-reading The Other, which is an old favorite screamer I thought I'd revisit for October. It's holding up quite well.

Oct 3, 2012, 3:34pm Top

Although I'm not up to the number of posts where I can use the nifty automatic thread continuation feature, I am starting a new thread for the rest of the year, as "Summertime" just doesn't apply around here anymore.

You can follow along, and bring your friends.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2012

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