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Leslie Rocks in 2017

2017 Category Challenge

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Edited: Jan 15, 2017, 3:01pm Top

My theme for 2017 is based on song titles. Since I can't handle 17 categories, I will be doing 10 since conveniently 2+0+1+7=10.

These are the categories I am planning on:
1. Numbered Days by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones: new-to-me Guardian books (goal = 25+)
2. ABC Boogie by Bill Haley and the Comets: Alphabet challenge
3. These Things Take Time by The Smiths: Kindle catchup (goal=25+)
4. All Around the World by The Jam: Books in Translation (read the world)
5. Watching the Detectives by Elvis Costello: Mysteries (emphasis on already owned books & BoTMs)
6. Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) by David Bowie: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
7. Memories Can’t Wait by The Talking Heads: Proust Remembrance of Things Past series
8. Join the Club by Reel Big Fish: Group reads & readalongs
9. In A Stage Whisper by Superchunk: Plays/drama
10. After All the Roads Have Led to Nowhere by Sugar: catch-all (nonfiction, poetry, short stories, etc.)

Edited: Sep 28, 2017, 12:27pm Top

tickers & rating info

My attempt to define my rating system:
I rate by gut reaction & sometimes I will go back and change a book’s rating after some time has passed, based on how it has (or has not) stuck with me. Thus books that I enjoyed at the time may end up lower down on the scale if they are forgettable while books that I didn’t care for very much may rise up in the ratings if they strike me as significant in some way (even if I didn’t like them).

0.5 ★: Utter waste of paper and ink; should never have been written.
1.0 ★: Couldn't finish reading or a very poor read.
1.5 ★: Major disappointment.
2.0 ★: It was OK but either the writing or the plot was lacking.
2.5 ★: Flawed in some way but still enjoyable
3.0 ★: Good, a solid read that I finished but can't promise to remember
3.5 ★: Above Average, there's room for improvement but I liked this well enough to pick up another book by this author.
4.0 ★: A very good read; a book that I think will last
4.5 ★: An excellent read, a book I will remember, recommend and probably reread
5.0 ★: A powerful book, either because it was the right book at the right time for me or because it will stay with me for a long time to come

Some symbols & abbreviations:
·Books with an asterisk (*) are from The Guardian's List of 1000 Novels Everyone Should Read
·Authors with a capital N (ℕ) are Nobel Laureates in Literature
·books sourced as MOB are from my own bookcases; those from BPL are from the Boston Public Library (as opposed to my local library); SYNC refers to audiobooks acquired (for free) through the annual summer program hosted by http://www.audiobooksync.com/

Edited: Sep 3, 2017, 12:25pm Top


1. 3 Truths and a Lie by Lisa Gardner audiobook short story (8/26) OR
A Woman's Place by Linda Grant (9/2)
2. *The Murder at the Vicarage {reread} set in 1929-1930 England (1/15)
3. A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry born May 19, 1930
4. Agent of Change (2/20)
5. The Bookseller's Tale (3/30) mystery centering around a book fraud in 14th century Oxford
6. *Malone Dies (ℕ) written by Irish author Samuel Beckett while he was living in France (1/22)
7. The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial about whether to teach Darwin in TN schools (7/10)
8. *Villette (1/8)
9. *Moo (1/9)
10. A Tan and Sandy Silence (St. George Grenada & Fort Lauderdale Florida) (1/20)
11. Service With a Smile 4th and final book of the Uncle Fred series (1/12)
12. Find a Victim (owned since 2009) (1/25)
13. The Girl on the Train (January AwardCAT) (1/14)
14. *Sybil, or the Two Nations (2/6)
15. Creditors (1/21) (set in Sweden)
16. The Rose Garden (3/22) Maeve Brennan was born in 1917
17. Homicidal (2/4)
18. The Scarlet Ruse (2/17)
19. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress published in 1966 (1/28)
20. *The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (by C.S. Lewis) (2/5)
21. The Four Feathers (filmed several times, best is the 1939 version with C. Aubrey Smith) (1/16)
22. Flowering Judas and Other Stories (1/19)
23. *Brave New World title phrase comes from Shakespeare (4/20)
24. Snow Country (ℕ) (set in Japan) (1/28)
25. House of Light (2/25)

Edited: Jan 2, 2:30pm Top

Numbered Days by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones

Books from the Guardian's list that are new to me. Goal=25+
0) The Hanging Garden (1/2)
1) Villette (1/8) (audiobook & Kindle)
2) Moo (1/9)
3) Swann's Way (1/19) first book in the list's single entry of In Search of Lost Time
4) Malone Dies (ℕ) (1/22)
5) The Mill on the Floss (1/26)
6) Sybil, or the Two Nations (2/6)
7) Herland (2/8)
8) Whisky Galore (2/9)
9) A Quiet Belief in Angels (2/21)
10) Howards End (3/1)
11) Eugenie Grandet (3/7)
12) Ennui (3/10)
13) King Solomon's Carpet (3/15)
14) The King of Torts (3/24)
15) The Prestige (3/25)
16) Exit Music (3/27)
17) Vendetta (4/13)
18) Invisible Man (4/13)
19) Invitation to the Waltz (4/27)
20) Within a Budding Grove (5/3) second book in the list's single entry of In Search of Lost Time
21) The Unbearable Lightness of Being (5/5)
22) The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (5/17)
23) A Canticle for Leibowitz (5/22)
24) The Tragedy of Puddin'head Wilson (5/25)
25) The Neon Rain (6/7)
26) The Savage Detectives DNF - abandoned after ~100 pages (6/16)
27) The Crying of Lot 49 (6/17)
28) Evelina (6/20)
29) The Far Pavilions (7/7)
30) Brewster's Millions (7/9)
31) Darwin's Radio (7/20)
32) A Heart So White (7/30)
33) Oblomov (8/6)
34) Goodbye to Berlin (8/13)
35) Flashman (9/1)
36) Poetic Justice (9/6)
37) Under the Net (9/9)
38) Under the Volcano (9/15)
39) The Stranger (ℕ) (9/18)
40) The English Patient (9/19)
41) The Swiss Family Robinson (9/24)
42) The Unbearable Bassington (9/24)
43) The Swimming-Pool Library (9/29)
44) The Guermantes Way (10/10) third book in the list's single entry of In Search of Lost Time
45) The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle (10/12)
46) The Rainbow (10/25)
47) Adam Bede (10/25)
48) A Voyage to Arcturus (10/27)
49) Atonement (10/29)
50) Blindness (11/8)
51) The Master and Margarita (11/16)
52) The Coming Race (11/19)
53) The Luck of Barry Lyndon (11/27)
54) The Horse's Mouth (12/4)
55) Cities of the Plain (aka Sodom and Gomorrah) (12/14) 4th book in the list's single entry of In Search of Lost Time
56) Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia (12/14)

books from Terry Pratchett's DiscWorld series:
·Sourcery (2/9)
·Wyrd Sisters (2/24)
·Pyramids (3/8)
·Soul Music (3/23)
·Thief of Time (6/18)
·The Fifth Elephant (8/9)
·Night Watch (8/13)
·Eric (9/25)
·The Wee Free Men (12/27)

Edited: Jan 2, 2:32pm Top

ABC Boogie by Bill Haley and the Comets

Alphabet Challenge (AlphaKIT):
Jan - M & S:
*Moo by Jane Smiley (1/9); *Swann's Way by Marcel Proust (1/19); *Malone Dies by Samuel Beckett (ℕ) (1/22); *The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot (1/26); *Sybil, or the Two Nations by Benjamin Disraeli (2/6)
Money in the Bank (1/7) & Service With a Smile (1/12) by P.G. Wodehouse; The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein (1/28); Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata (ℕ) (1/28); The Spia Family Presses On by Mary Leo (1/29); Sir Philip's Folly by Marion Chesney (1/29)
*The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie {reread} (1/15)
The Four Feathers by A.E.W. Mason (1/16); A Tan and Sandy Silence by John D. MacDonald (1/20); Find a Victim by Ross MacDonald (1/25)

Feb - W & H:
*Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (2/8); *Whisky Galore by Compton MacKenzie (2/9); *Howards End by E.M. Forster (3/1)
Homicidal by Paul Alexander (2/4); The Wycherly Woman by Ross MacDonald (2/12); The Winds of War (2/18) & War and Remembrance (2/26) by Herman Wouk
*Something Fresh by P.G. Wodehouse {reread} (2/8)

Mar - E & K:
*Eugenie Grandet by Honore de Balzac (3/7); *Ennui by Maria Edgeworth (3/10); *King Solomon's Carpet (3/15); *The King of Torts (3/24); *Exit Music (3/27)
Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire (3/14); Empire Falls by Richard Russo (3/31)
The Pusher by Ed McBain (3/7); The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (3/22)

Apr - I & D:
*Invisible Man by Richard Ellison (4/13); *Invitation to the Waltz by Rosamond Lehmann (4/27)
Death in the Dentist's Chair (4/10); The Ivory Grin (4/17); The Dreadful Lemon Sky (4/19); Dubliners (4/22); The Doorbell Rang (4/24) {reread}; Dragonfly in Amber (4/27); The Dark Monk (4/29)
*Vendetta by Michael Dibdin (4/13)

May - C & T:
*Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne (5/17); *A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller (5/22); *The Tragedy of Puddin'head Wilson by Mark Twain (5/25)
Topper (5/5); Cabal (5/7); Cousin Bette (5/11); Collected Poems of Emily Dickenson (6/1); Conflict of Honors (5/16); Colonel Sandhurst to the Rescue (5/17); The Talisman Ring (5/21); The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus (5/22); A Cold Day for Murder (5/25); The Cider House Rules (5/29)
Fen Country by Edmund Crispin (5/16); A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie (5/4)

Jun - Y & N:
*The Neon Rain by James Lee Burke (6/7)

Jul - B & G:
*Brewster's Millions by Richard Greaves (7/9);
The Girl in Blue (7/9); The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial (7/10); The Green Ripper (7/25); Barmy in Wonderland (8/1)
*Darwin's Radio by Greg Bear (7/20); Cat and Mouse by Christianna Brand (7/20); The Island of Sheep by John Buchan (7/28); Miss Mapp by E.F. Benson (7/30)

Aug - O & F:
*Oblomov by Ivan Goncharov (8/6); *The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett (8/9); *Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser (9/1)
Fledgling (8/7); Only Time Will Tell (8/9); Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock (8/9); Olive Kitteridge (8/12); Overture to Death (8/12); One Man's Initiation: 1917 (8/15); Fat Angie (8/19); Frederica {reread} (8/22); The Faithful Spy (8/25); Free Fall in Crimson (8/26); The Friendly Air (8/27); Fragments of My Time (8/29); One for Sorrow (8/29)

Sep - U & P:
*Poetic Justice by Amanda Cross (9/6); *Under the Net by Iris Murdoch (9/9); *The Unbearable Bassington (9/24)
Under a War-Torn Sky (9/5); Ukridge (9/7); Private (9/8); Project Alpha (9/11); A Pelican at Blandings (9/14); Poison Pen (9/17); Picture of Guilt (9/21); The Physicists (9/22); The Unnamable (10/3)
The Terrorists by Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo (9/14)

Oct - A & V:
*The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle by Tobias Smollett (10/12); *The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (10/14) {reread}; *Adam Bede by George Eliot (10/25); *A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay (10/27); *Atonement by Ian McEwan (10/29)
An Awkward Lie (10/5); Angelica's Smile (10/13); A Very Private Grave (10/17); A Very Quiet Guest (10/20); Ashenden (10/24); Artists in Crime (10/26) {reread}
They Do It With Mirrors by Agatha Christie (10/9); Feed by M.T. Anderson

Nov - L & Q:
*The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh (11/3) {reread}; *The Luck of Barry Lyndon by William Makepeace Thackeray (11/27)
The Queen's Poisoner (11/5); The Luck of the Bodkins (11/7); Last Ditch (11/17); Quick Service (11/18); Laura (11/24); L.A. Dead (11/29); The Lost Art of Mixing (11/30)
Death of a Red Heroine by Qui Xialong (11/8); Glass Houses by Louise Penny (11/10); Henry IV by Luigi Pirandello (ℕ) (11/12)

Dec - J & R:
*Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia by Samuel Johnson (12/14)
Julius Caesar (12/1); Rose Under Fire (12/8); Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit (12/16); Jazz Funeral (12/17); The Journeying Boy (12/18); Room (12/19); Jellicoe Road (12/29)
*The Horse's Mouth by Joyce Cary (12/4); Some Buried Caesar by Rex Stout (12/5); *The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler (12/14); A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd (12/22); Not a Creature Was Stirring by Jane Haddam (12/23)

And as always, yearlong X and Z
X & Z:
The Zebra-Striped Hearse by Ross MacDonald (3/4)
Zac and Mia by A.J. Betts (6/14)
Death of a Red Heroine by Qui Xialong (11/8)

Edited: Dec 17, 2017, 4:31pm Top

These Things Take Time by The Smiths

Kindle ROOTs: goal=25+ Done!
1) *Villette (1/8)
2) The Four Feathers (1/16)
3) *Swann's Way (1/19)
4) *Malone Dies (ℕ) (1/22)
5) *The Mill on the Floss (1/26)
6) The Spia Family Presses On (1/29)
7) *Sybil, or the Two Nations (2/6)
8) *Herland (2/8)
9) Agent of Change (2/20)
10) *Howards End (3/1)
11) The Da Vinci Code (3/3)
12) *Eugenie Grandet (3/7)
13) *Ennui (3/10)
14) Just Add Water (4/9)
15) Death in the Dentist's Chair (4/10)
16) Dubliners (4/22)
17) Dragonfly in Amber (4/27)
18) *Invitation to the Waltz (4/28)
19) Topper (5/5)
20) *Tristram Shandy (5/17)
21) Cousin Bette (5/11)
22) *Puddin'head Wilson (5/25)
23) A Cold Day for Murder (5/25)
24) *Thief of Time (6/18)
25) *Evelina (6/20)
26) *Brewster's Millions (7/9)
27) Miss Mapp (7/30)
28) *Oblomov (8/6)
29) Fledgling (8/7)
30) Only Time Will Tell (8/9)
31) One for Sorrow (8/29)
32) Fragments of My Time (8/29)
33) September Fair (9/12)
34) Poison Pen (9/17)
35) *The Swiss Family Robinson (9/24)
36) *The Unbearable Bassington (9/24)
37) The Unnamable (ℕ) (10/3)
38) *The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle (10/12)
39) A Very Private Grave (10/17)
40) A Very Quiet Guest (10/20)
41) *The Rainbow (10/25)
42) *Adam Bede (10/25)
43) *A Voyage to Arcturus (10/27)
44) The Queen's Poisoner (11/5)
45) Henry IV (ℕ) (11/12) {part of omnibus Three Plays by Luigi Pirandello: Six Characters in Search of an Author; Henry IV and Right You Are}
46) *The Luck of Barry Lyndon (11/27)
47) Julius Caesar (12/1) {part of my Kindle edition of the omnibus The Complete Works of William Shakespeare}
48) The Crime at Noah's Ark (12/10)
49) *Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia (12/14)
50) Jazz Funeral (12/17)

Edited: Dec 15, 2017, 11:54am Top

All Around the World by The Jam

Books in Translation (Read the World): goal=15+ Done!
0) The Dance of the Seagull (Italian) (1/1)
1) *Swann's Way (French) (1/19)
2) Modern Scandinavian Poetry (various Scandinavian languages) (2/3)
   ·Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Saame poetry
3) *Malone Dies (ℕ) (French) (1/22)
4) Creditors (Swedish) (1/21)
5) Snow Country (ℕ) (Japanese) (1/28)
6) *Eugenie Grandet (French) (3/7)
7) Peer Gynt (Danish) (3/20)
8) Treasure Hunt Italian (3/31)
9) The Dark Monk German (4/29)
10) *Within a Budding Grove French (5/3)
11) *The Unbearable Lightness of Being Czech (5/5)
12) Cousin Bette French (5/11)
13) *The Savage Detectives Spanish (Mexico) (DNF 6/16)
14) *A Heart So White Spanish (Spain) (7/30)
15) *Oblomov Russian (8/6)
16) The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared Swedish (8/21)
17) Fragments of My Time Portuguese (Brazil) (8/29)
18) The Terrorists Swedish (9/14)
19) *The Stranger (ℕ) French (Algeria) (9/18)
20) The Physicists German (Switzerland) (9/22)
21) *The Swiss Family Robinson German (set in unnamed island, assigning it to Philippines) (9/24)
22) The Beggar King German (9/29)
23) The Unnamable (ℕ) French (10/3)
24) *The Guermantes Way French (10/10)
25) Angelica's Smile Italian (10/13)
26) George Seferis: Collected Poems (ℕ) Greek (10/19)
27) *Blindness (ℕ) Portuguese (Portugal) (11/8)
28) Henry IV (ℕ) Italian (11/12)
29) *The Master and Margarita Russian (11/16)
30) The Shape of Water Italian (11/26)
31) *Sodom and Gomorrah French (12/14)

And to see my progress in visual form, here is a map:

Make yours @ BigHugeLabs.com

Books written in English (not set in U.S. or U.K.):
 ·The Four Feathers (set in England & Egypt) (1/16)
 ·Flowering Judas and Other Stories (set in Mexico & U.S.) (1/19)
 *Ennui (set in Ireland & England) (3/10)
 ·The Poisonwood Bible (set in Congo) (3/22)
 ·Zac and Mia Australia (6/14)
 *The Far Pavilions (set in India & Afghanistan) (7/7)
 ·A Caribbean Mystery (set in Trinidad)
 ·The Faithful Spy (set in Afghanistan, Pakistan & U.S.) (8/25)
 ·The Friendly Air (set in England & Portugal) (8/27)
 ·One for Sorrow (set in ancient Constantinople (i.e. Turkey)) (8/29)
 ·The Heart of the Matter (set in unnamed west African country, I am assigning Sierra Leone) (9/5)
 ·Death of a Red Heroine (set in Shanghai China) (11/8)
 ·Glass Houses Canada (11/10)
 *Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia (set in Ethiopia & Egypt) (12/14)

Edited: Jan 2, 2:35pm Top

Watching the Detectives by Elvis Costello

Part a) Mystery ROOTs in print: goal=12 Done!
0) *The Hanging Garden (1/2)
1) A Tan and Sandy Silence (1/20)
2) Find a Victim (1/25)
3) The Wycherly Woman (2/12)
4) The Scarlet Ruse (2/17)
5) The Zebra-Striped Hearse (3/4)
6) The Turquoise Lament (3/20)
7) *Exit Music (3/27)
8) *Vendetta (4/13)
9) The Dreadful Lemon Sky (4/19)
10) The Empty Copper Sea (6/1)
11) The Doomsters (6/8)
12) *The Crying of Lot 49 (6/16)
13) Mystic River (6/17)
14) The Far Side of the Dollar (7/13)
15) Time and Again (7/19)
16) The Green Ripper (7/25)
17) Black Money (8/16)
18) Appleby's Other Story (8/21)
19) Free Fall in Crimson (8/26)
20) From London Far (8/30)
21) Cinnamon Skin (9/10)
22) The Galton Case (9/19)
23) Picture of Guilt (9/21)
24) An Awkward Lie (10/5)
25) The Lonely Silver Rain (10/9)
26) The Instant Enemy (10/15)
27) The Goodbye Look (11/6)
28) Death at the Chase (11/22)
29) Some Buried Caesar (12/5)
30) The Open House (12/8)
31) *The Long Goodbye (12/14)
32) The Journeying Boy (12/18) {read as part of my omnibus The Michael Innes Treasury}

Part b) miscellaneous mysteries/thrillers/suspense books
·The Dance of the Seagull {audiobook} (1/1)
·The Girl on the Train (1/14)
*The Murder at the Vicarage {audiobook} {reread} (1/15)
·The Spia Family Presses On (1/30)
·Death at the Bar {audiobook} {reread} (2/2)
*Death at the President's Lodging {reread} (2/6)
·The Body in the Library {reread} (2/14)
*A Quiet Belief in Angels {audiobook} (2/21)
·The Da Vinci Code {audiobook} {reread} (3/3)
·Night Waking (3/3)
·The Pusher (3/7)
·The Moving Finger {audiobook} {reread} (3/9)
*King Solomon's Carpet (3/15)
·The Bookseller's Tale (3/30)
·Just Add Water (4/9)
·Death in the Dentist's Chair (4/10)
·Sleeping Murder {audiobook} {reread} (4/14)
·The Ivory Grin (4/17)
·The Doorbell Rang {audiobook} {reread} (4/24)
·The Dark Monk (4/29)
·A Murder is Announced {audiobook} {reread} (5/4)
·Cabal (5/7)
·Fen Country (5/16)
·A Cold Day for Murder (5/25)
*The Neon Rain (6/7)
·Unnatural Death {audiobook} {reread} (6/7)
·4:50 From Paddington {audiobook} {reread} (6/15)
·Stop Press (7/4)
·The Mirror Crack'd From Side to Side {audiobook} {reread} (7/5)
·The Annam Jewel (7/10)
·Cat and Mouse (7/20)
·The Novice's Tale (7/31)
*The Case of the Gilded Fly {reread} (8/3)
·A Caribbean Mystery {audiobook} {reread} (8/5)
·Overture to Death {audiobook} {reread} (8/12)
·Heads You Lose (8/14)
·The Faithful Spy (audiobook) (8/25)
·Whodunnit? Murder on Mystery Island (audiobook) (8/24)
·The Glimpses of the Moon {reread} (8/25)
·3 Truths and a Lie (audiobook short story) (8/26)
·One for Sorrow (8/29)
·Fool Errant (8/31)
·The Man Who Knew Too Much (audiobook) (9/1)
·A Woman's Place (9/2)
*Poetic Justice (9/6)
·At Bertram's Hotel {audiobook} {reread} (9/9)
·September Fair (9/12)
·The Terrorists (9/14)
·Poison Pen (9/17)
·The Red Thumb Mark (9/26)
·The Beggar King (9/29)
·The Dry (10/4)
·They Do It With Mirrors {audiobook} {reread} (10/9)
·Angelica's Smile (10/13)
·A Very Private Grave (10/17)
·Dark Nantucket Noon (10/18)
·A Very Quiet Guest (10/20)
·Ashenden (10/24)
·Artists in Crime {audiobook} {reread} (10/26)
*Blood Shot {reread} (11/1)
·The Smiler With the Knife (11/2)
·A Pocket Full of Rye {audiobook} {reread} (11/3)
·Death of a Red Heroine (11/8)
·Glass Houses (11/10)
·No Wind of Blame {audiobook} {reread} (11/13)
·Last Ditch {audiobook} (11/17)
·Too Many Cooks (11/19)
·Laura (11/24)
·The Shape of Water {audiobook} (11/26)
·L.A. Dead {audiobook} (11/29)
·The Con Man (12/3)
·Nemesis {audiobook} {reread} (12/6)
·The Crime at Noah's Ark (12/10)
·Jazz Funeral (12/17)
·Not a Creature Was Stirring (12/23)
·The Crooked Wreath (12/26)
·The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries (12/27)

Edited: Jan 2, 2:37pm Top

Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) by David Bowie

Science Fiction & Fantasy
·The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1/28)
*The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (audiobook) {reread} (2/5)
*Herland (2/8)
*Sourcery (2/9)
*Prince Caspian (audiobook) {reread} (2/12)
*The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (audiobook) {reread} (2/20)
·Agent of Change (2/20)
*Wyrd Sisters (2/24)
*The Silver Chair (audiobook) {reread} (2/26)
*The Horse and His Boy (audiobook) {reread} (3/5)
*Pyramids (3/8)
*The Magician's Nephew (audiobook) {reread} (3/12)
·The Curse of Chalion (audiobook) (3/12)
·Paladin of Souls (audiobook) (3/17)
*The Last Battle (audiobook) {reread} (3/19)
*Soul Music (3/23)
*The Prestige (audiobook) (3/24)
·The Hallowed Hunt (audiobook) (3/26)
·The Sin Eater's Daughter (audiobook) (4/5)
·Dragonfly in Amber (audiobook) (4/27)
*Brave New World (audiobook) {reread} (4/20)
·Conflict of Honors (5/16)
*A Canticle for Leibowitz (audiobook) (5/22)
*Thief of Time (6/18)
*Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (audiobook) {reread} (6/23)
·Carpe Diem (6/24)
·Plan B (7/13)
*Darwin's Radio (audiobook) (7/20)
·Time and Again (7/19)
·Fledgling (8/7)
*The Fifth Elephant (8/9)
*Night Watch (8/13)
·The Adventures of Tom Stranger, Interdimensional Insurance Agent (audiobook) (8/16)
·A Rare Book of Cunning Device (audiobook short story) (8/17)
·The Last Unicorn (8/23)
*Eric (9/25)
*A Voyage to Arcturus (10/27)
·Feed (10/28)
*Dracula {audiobook} {reread} (11/1)
·The Queen's Poisoner (11/5)
*The Coming Race (11/19)
*The Wee Free Men (12/27)

Edited: Jan 2, 2:36pm Top

Memories Can’t Wait by The Talking Heads

Proust's *Rememberance of Things Past series
1) Swann's Way (1/19)
2) Within a Budding Grove (5/3)
3) The Guermantes Way (10/10)
4) Sodom and Gomorrah (12/14)
5) The Prisoner (reading in December 2017 & continuing into 2018)
6) The Fugitive
7) Time Regained

August: I am giving up on this challenge! While I didn't dislike the first 2 volumes, I did find them slightly dull. At least I have read enough to have a feeling for Proust's writing.

Due to the prodding of September's RandomCAT, I decided to try again with this challenge.

I won't be completing this challenge in 2017 but I thought the 3 & 4th books more enjoyable than the first 2 so I will continue on in 2018.

Edited: Dec 22, 2017, 1:09pm Top

Join the Club by Reel Big Fish

Group Reads & CATs

AwardCAT Costa Awards & 'Best of' lists
 ·The Girl on the Train (NPR list of best books of 2015)
CATWoman Classics by women
 ·Flowering Judas and Other Stories
 *The Mill on the Floss
RandomCAT Search & Rescue
 ·The Four Feathers

Group read of *Swann's Way

AwardCAT Canada Reads competition & The Morning News Tournament of Books
 ·The Orenda abandoned
CATWoman debut novel
 ·Agent of Change
RandomCAT Title contains a possessive

AwardCAT Newberry/Caldecott Awards & genre awards
 ·The Curse of Chalion (2002 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature)
 *The Last Battle (1956 Carnegie Medal)
CATWoman Genres
 ·The Moving Finger & The Bookseller's Tale (mystery)
 ·The Curse of Chalion & Paladin of Souls & The Hallowed Hunt (fantasy)
 ·The Rose Garden: Short Stories (short stories)
RandomCAT Ireland
 ·The Rose Garden: Short Stories

AwardCAT International Dublin Literary Award & the Pulitzer Prize
CATWoman Biography/Autobiography/Memoir
RandomCAT Library Books
 ·Galahad at Blandings (4/7)
 ·Sleeping Murder audiobook CDs {reread} (4/14)
 *Brave New World Overdrive audiobook {reread} (4/20)
 *The Unbearable Lightness of Being (5/5)
 ·Hot Water audiobook via Hoopla (5/2)

AwardCAT Man Booker International Prize & the Edgar Awards
 ·The Empty Copper Sea by John D. MacDonald 1972 Grand Master Edgar Award
 ·The Doomsters by Ross MacDonald 1974 Grand Master Edgar Award
CATWoman women in arts
RandomCAT Moms

AwardCAT The PEN Literary Awards & the National Book Award (USA)
CATWoman professional women
 ·none unless you count Miss Climpson in Dorothy Sayers' Unnatural Death {reread} (6/7)
RandomCAT New Beginnings/Unknown
 *Evelina (6/20)
 *The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy {reread} (6/23)
 ·Carpe Diem (6/24)

AwardCAT Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction & any science fiction/fantasy award
 ·Time and Again Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire, 1994 (7/19)
 *Darwin's Radio Hugo Award nominee & Nebula Award nominee, 2000 (7/20)
CATWoman Women of Color
 ·A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (7/31)
RandomCAT Birthdays
 *Brewster's Millions (7/9)

AwardCAT Miles Franklin Award & the Stonewall Book Award
 ·Fat Angie (Stonewall Book award 2014: Mike Morgan and Larry Romans Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award) (8/19)
CATWoman nonfiction & historical fiction
 ·Burning Bright (audiobook) (8/26)
RandomCAT Animals
 *The Case of the Gilded Fly {reread} (8/3)
 *The Fifth Elephant (8/7)
 ·The Last Unicorn (8/23)

AwardCAT Man Booker Prize & O. Henry Award
 *The English Patient Man Booker Prize winner 1992 (9/19)
CATWoman Children's & YA; Graphic Novels
 ·Under a War-Torn Sky (9/5)
 ·Rose in Bloom (9/27)
 ·Mary Poppins (9/29)
RandomCAT Playing Catch Up/Where did the Year Go?
 ·The Terrorists (9/14)

AwardCAT Nobel Prize in Literature
 ·The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett 1969 Nobel Prize winner (10/3)
 ·George Seferis: Collected Poems by George Seferis 1963 Nobel Prize winner (10/19)
CATWoman Regional Reading
 ·Dark Nantucket Noon (10/18)
RandomCAT Turn on the Dark
 ·Dark Nantucket Noon (10/18)
 ·Feed (10/28)

AwardCAT local awards
 ·Symphony for the City of the Dead Boston Globe–Horn Book Award (2016 Nonfiction) (11/24)
CATWoman feminist & LGBT books
RandomCAT traffic

AwardCAT international awards
 ·Room (12/19) Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year, Irish Book Awards (2010)
CATWoman modern (post-1960) books
 ·Nemesis {audiobook} {reread} (12/6)
 ·Rose Under Fire (12/8)
 ·Jazz Funeral (12/17)
 ·Room (12/19)
RandomCAT one day reads
 ·Julius Caesar (12/1)
 ·The Con Man (12/3)
 ·The Crime at Noah's Ark (12/10)
 ·Jazz Funeral (12/17)

Edited: Dec 16, 2017, 11:51am Top

In A Stage Whisper by Superchunk

Plays/Drama: goal=10+ Done!
1) Creditors by August Strindberg (1/21)
2) Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen (3/20)
3) The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus (5/22)
4) The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial (7/10)
5) A Raisin in the Sun (7/31)
6) Stick Fly (8/13)
7) Ceremonies in Dark Old Men (8/25)
8) The Physicists (9/22)
9) Henry IV (ℕ) (11/12)
10) Julius Caesar (12/1)

Edited: Jan 2, 2:35pm Top

After All the Roads Have Led to Nowhere by Sugar

Catch-all: nonfiction, poetry, short stories, etc.

Short Stories:
·Flowering Judas and Other Stories by Katherine Anne Porter (1/19)
·The Unreal and the Real: The Selected Short Stories of Ursula K. Le Guin (2/27)
·The Rose Garden : Short Stories (3/22)
·Dubliners (4/22)
·Fen Country (5/16)
·A Rare Book of Cunning Device (audiobook) (8/17)
·Bartleby, the Scrivener (audiobook) (8/22)
·3 Truths and a Lie (audiobook) (8/26)
·The Man Who Knew Too Much (audiobook) (9/1)
·Ukridge (audiobook) (9/7)
·The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries (12/27)

·Modern Scandinavian Poetry (2/3)
·House of Light (2/25)
·Collected Poems of Emily Dickenson (6/1)
·George Seferis: Collected Poems (ℕ) (10/19)

·Homicidal (2/4) {true crime}
·The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial (7/10)
·Symphony for the City of the Dead (11/24)

Oct 25, 2016, 8:20am Top

Very interesting choice of songs! Have a great year reading.

Oct 25, 2016, 12:43pm Top


Oct 25, 2016, 12:46pm Top

I cannot even tell you how excited I am to see the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Reel Big Fish in your list of categories! :)

Oct 25, 2016, 12:58pm Top

Your categories match your songs perfectly! Looking forward to following along.

Oct 25, 2016, 1:42pm Top

Great choice of songs for your categories. I'm singing along.

Oct 25, 2016, 6:08pm Top

YESSSSS the Jam! Love it! Have a great reading year!

Oct 26, 2016, 12:30am Top

Thanks all - I was worried that my song choice would reveal that my age (from the fact that my musical tastes are stuck in the 80s and 90s!). I trolled my iTunes for song titles that seemed to fit my categories so it is heavy on the ska and alternative rock of my younger days.

Oct 26, 2016, 11:04am Top

So, I know absolutely zero of these songs but I love how well they match up to your topics.

Oct 26, 2016, 2:28pm Top

Great choice of songs! *going to Spotify right away to listen to them*

Oct 27, 2016, 10:39am Top

I am now tapping my foot to Watching the Detectives and trying to sing Scary Monsters at the same time. Looking forward to watching your thread.

Oct 27, 2016, 3:46pm Top

>21 LittleTaiko:. I am surprised that you are the only one to say that! Glad that the titles work even if one doesn't know the music as that was my goal :)

>22 Chrischi_HH: Spotify is one of those 'newfangled' things I know nothing about. Can you just request any song and listen to it?

>23 LisaMorr: LOL - I too found some of the songs got stuck in my head! But I don't think I could tap my foot to one while singing another. :P

Nov 20, 2016, 11:34am Top

Great song-picks! I especially appreciated your matching "These Things Take Time" with Kindle ROOTs - so, so true!

Nov 22, 2016, 3:39pm Top

>25 -Eva-: LOL - especially since I have a bad tendency to acquire more Kindle books (especially free classics & mysteries) a bit faster than I clear off the ROOTs!

Nov 22, 2016, 10:00pm Top

It's so hard to remember those Kindle books isn't it? I'm way more inclined to pick up a Hokkaido from my shelf than an ebook.

Nov 27, 2016, 6:34pm Top

Great songs to make up your categories!

Nov 29, 2016, 11:41am Top

>27 LittleTaiko: said: "It's so hard to remember those Kindle books isn't it?"
Especially since they don't take up physical space in my house!

>28 lkernagh: Thanks! Have you set up your thread yet? I get lost in the list of threads until I manage to star all the ones I want to look at...

Dec 18, 2016, 5:57am Top

Very creative categories!

Dec 18, 2016, 11:20am Top

Thanks for stopping by >30 tess_schoolmarm:! It was easier to come up with ideas for categories this year with only 10 (instead of 17!).

Dec 19, 2016, 4:11pm Top

I love the fun and musicality of your challenge. I'm really glad to see the David Bowie choice for your science fiction category. I am also mindful of all the titles waiting on my Kindle. What a first world problem, huh? I will be dropping by to see what progress you make and what good books you've read! Have fun in 2017!

Dec 22, 2016, 8:13am Top

Hi Leslie!

Dec 22, 2016, 8:24pm Top

Thanks for stopping by >32 mamzel: & >33 The_Hibernator:!

Jan 1, 2017, 8:46am Top

Jan 3, 2017, 9:34am Top

Love the image >35 The_Hibernator:! Thanks :)

Jan 12, 2017, 9:19pm Top

Updated my categories with what I have read so far this year (including 2 mysteries mostly read in 2016).

Jan 15, 2017, 1:50pm Top

For the last few months I have been finding writing out a review for each book and posting them here to be fatiguing so this year I am paring down on that aspect. I hope to update my categories regularly and then post brief comments on the books I have read every week.

Jan 15, 2017, 2:07pm Top

Sounds like a good plan! :)

Edited: Feb 6, 2017, 12:53pm Top

Books read 1-15 January:

First were 2 mysteries finished in early January but mostly read in 2016, and thus I counted these in my 2016 challenge:
1. The Dance of the Seagull by Andrea Camilleri (translated by Stephen Sartarelli}
format/source = audiobook/BPL, narrated by Grover Gardner; date finished = 1 Jan;
Categories: Watching the Detectives, All Around the World
Country: Italy

2. *The Hanging Garden by Ian Rankin
format/source = hardcover/MOB; date finished = 2 Jan;
Categories: Watching the Detectives, Numbered Days
Country: Scotland

Now for books that started in 2017:
3.   *Villette by Charlotte Bronte
format/source = Kindle/girlebooks.com & audiobook/Audible, narrated by Davina Porter; date finished = 8 Jan;
Categories: Numbered Days, These Things Take Time, Join the Club (Jan. CATWoman);   BingoDOG square #8 (book with a place in the title)
Country: England & France

I would probably have liked this better if I understood French - substantial untranslated passages in French (and a few in German) were an annoyance though I was still able to get most of the gist. Davina Porter does a fabulous narration of this classic. Persevere past the first few chapters as the story picks up after the first section of her somewhat priggish youth.

4. Money in the Bank by P.G. Wodehouse
format/source = audiobook/Hoopla, narrated by Simon Vance; date finished = 7 Jan; 3
Categories: ABC Boogie (Jan: M & S)
Country: England

Simon Vance does an okay narration for this stand-alone Wodehouse novel. The book itself is not one of Wodehouse's best but was still an agreeable way to spend a snowy day.

5. *Moo by Jane Smiley
format/source = paperback/MOB; date finished = 9 Jan; 4
Categories: ABC Boogie (Jan: M & S), Numbered Days;   BingoDOG square #9 (about an animal)
Country: U.S.A.

I love satires & satires about academic institutions are among my favorites so I wasn't surprised to find myself enjoying this one. However, perhaps my expectations were too high after reading the powerful A Thousand Acres last year -- this novel doesn't reach that same level.

6. Service With a Smile by P.G. Wodehouse
format/source = audiobook CDs/library, narrated by Martin Jarvis; date finished = 12 Jan;
Categories: ABC Boogie (Jan: M & S);   BingoDOG square #11 (read the next book in a series)
Country: England

This one not only had Lord Emsworth & his pig but also Uncle Fred -- a delightful combination! While I still have a slight preference to hear my Wodehouse narrated by Jonathan Cecil, Jarvis did an excellent job with this 9th entry in the Blandings Castle series and 4th (and final) book in the Uncle Fred series.

7. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
format/source = hardcover/library; date finished = 14 Jan; 4
Categories: Watching the Detectives, Join the Club (AwardCAT Jan: 'Best of' lists);   BingoDOG square #13 (read a CAT)
Country: England

I don't know what I had expected but the format and beginning of the book took me by surprise. I found that this novel drew me in and became increasingly suspenseful as I progressed. While Rachel wasn't someone I would want to know personally, I thought her character was well written and completely believable.

8. *The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie {reread}
format/source = audiobook/SYNC, narrated by Richard E. Grant; date finished = 15 Jan;
Categories: Watching the Detectives, ABC Boogie (Jan: M & S);   BingoDOG square #2 (set in a time before you were born)
Country: England

I reread this as part of a Miss Marple challenge I am participating in elsewhere & found it just as good this time around :)

Jan 21, 2017, 1:00pm Top

Some great reads! I have Girl on the Train on my Kindle to read.

Jan 21, 2017, 2:52pm Top

>41 tess_schoolmarm: Have you seen the movie? I am undecided whether to watch it now that I have read the book - I don't know how the format of interior monologues would translate to the screen...

Jan 22, 2017, 12:11am Top

>42 leslie.98: I never ever see the movie before I read the book!

Jan 22, 2017, 3:27pm Top

>43 tess_schoolmarm: Nowadays I tend to read the book first but I have discovered that many movies I have seen over the years were based on books (more than I had realized!), such as Double Indemnity, The 39 Steps or one I just read, The Four Feathers. So I don't worry about it too much.

Edited: Feb 6, 2017, 12:54pm Top

Books finished between 16-22 January:

9.     The Four Feathers by A.E.W. Mason
format/source = Kindle/Project Gutenberg & audiobook/Hoopla, narrated by Ralph Cosham; date finished = 16 Jan; 4
Categories: ABC Boogie (Jan: M & S), These Things Take Time, Join the Club (RandomCAT Jan: Search & Rescue);   BingoDOG square #21
Country: England & Egypt

I picked up this Kindle book back in 2012 when I first discovered the wonders of public domain ebooks & Project Gutenberg based on positive memories of the 1939 film adaptation (which can be seen here: https://archive.org/details/TheFourFeathers1939). And I followed up reading the book by rewatching the film - interesting to see what had been changed with all the details fresh in my mind.

Thus I read this already knowing the basic plot but found that the book, slightly different in mood & details from the film, was a little less exciting adventure but much realistic. In particular, Ethne & Durrance were different and the relationships between Harry, Ethne & Durrance were more tragic. I am glad I finally got around to reading this classic!

10.   Flowering Judas and Other Stories by Katherine Anne Porter
format/source = hardcover/library; date finished = 19 Jan; 3
Categories: After All the Roads Have Led to Nowhere, Join the Club (CATWoman Jan: Classics);   BingoDOG square #22 (Short Story Collection)
Country: U.S.A. & Mexico

This book is the first by Porter that I have read but I have heard that she was a master at short stories. Maybe that made me expect too much or maybe her style wasn't one that I admire. Some aspects of the writing appealed to me and reminded me of Willa Cather and Katherine Mansfield (mostly the descriptions) but the stories themselves struck me as pointless and bleak (the sort of thing that made me dislike O. Henry). I am glad I tried this but I won't be in a hurry to read more.

11.    *Swann's Way by Marcel Proust (translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff)
format/source = Kindle/Amazon & audiobook/BPL, narrated by Simon Vance; date finished = 19 Jan;
Categories: ABC Boogie (Jan: M & S), Join the Club (group read), Numbered Days, All Around the World
Country: France

Proust's lush descriptions and long sentences were not my predilection but I found many of his ideas thought-provoking. Overall the characters and plot were interesting enough that I will continue to the next book in the series.

Simon Vance did a fine job narrating this but I had trouble keeping my focus on the audiobook (my mind would wander & then I would get lost). What worked best for me was to listen & simultaneously skim the text on my Kindle.

12.   A Tan and Sandy Silence by John D. MacDonald
format/source = paperback/MOB; date finished = 20 Jan; 3
Categories: ABC Boogie (Jan: M & S), Watching the Detectives;   BingoDOG square #10 (Beach/resort Community)
Country: U.S.A. {FL} & Grenada

Not one of the best McGee books in my opinion. Less humor & more gritty than those I like better.

13.     Creditors by August Strindberg (translated by Edwin Björkman)
format/source = Kindle/Project Gutenberg & audiobook/LibriVox, narrated by a full cast; date finished = 21 Jan; 4
Categories: In a Stage Whisper, All Around the World;   BingoDOG square #15 (set in a place you want to visit)
Country: Sweden

After I listened to the audiobook of the play, I went back and reread some sections in my Kindle edition of "Plays by August Strindberg, Second Series" and read the introduction to the play as well. One important fact that the introduction provided was that Strindberg wrote this play "... only a year before he finally decided to free himself from an impossible marriage by an appeal to the law...". Even with the wife Tekla clearly being portrayed as the "bad" one in the marriage, I noticed that there was a strong vein of feminism (similar to Ibsen's Hedda Gabler in many ways). For example, Tekla saying to her second husband:

  "Isn't that lovely! Women can be stolen as you steal children or chickens? And you regard me as his chattel or personal property. I am very much obliged to you!"

The 'creditors' of the title are Tekla's former & current husbands as described in this passage:

  Adolph: "To love like a man is to give; to love like a woman is to take. -- And I have given, given, given!"
  Tekla: "Pooh! What have you given?"
  Adolph: "Everything!"
  Tekla: "That's a lot! And if it be true, then I must have taken it. Are you beginning to send in bills for your gifts now? ..."

And indeed he is, egged on by Gustav who Adolph doesn't realize is Tekla's former husband.

While none of the characters are completely 'true to life', they act out a situation & emotions that are. A thought-provoking play that I need to ponder further...

14.     *Malone Dies by Samuel Beckett (ℕ) (translated from French by the author)
format/source = Kindle/?? & audiobook/BPL, narrated by Sean Barrett; date finished = 22 Jan; 4
Categories: ABC Boogie (Jan: M & S), Numbered Days, All Around the World, These Things Take Time;   BingoDOG square #6 (author abroad)
Country: Unspecified

Beckett is a master of absurdist fiction & if you have ever read any, you will understand the difficulty I have in describing either the book or my reaction to it! Malone is a bedridden old man who doesn't know where he is or how he got there. While he waits for death, he rambles to himself. Interspersed with his wondering about his present condition are stories. Are these stories about himself (memories of his life) or are they about people he knew (which is how Malone presents them) or are they just made up stories he is using to while away the time? The stream-of-consciousness writing is confusing at first but as the book progresses, the reader starts to get his own ideas of what the stories may represent.

As for the audiobook, Sean Barrett does a marvelous narration in his wonderful Irish accent. My Kindle edition (transposed from a pdf file whose origin I don't remember) has some formatting issues (such as all the double l's have been converted into a single l {all becoming al }) so it was extremely helpful to have a narrator who put in the pauses where breaks in the text occurred etc.!

Edited: Jan 29, 2017, 1:34pm Top

Books finished 23-28 January:

15.   Find a Victim by Ross MacDonald
format/source = paperback/MOB; date finished = 25 Jan; 3
Categories: ABC Boogie (Jan: M & S), Watching the Detectives;   BingoDOG square #12 (book owned more than 5 years)
Country: U.S.A. {CA}

This entry in the Lew Archer series was a bit too hardboiled for my tastes. However, the ending was surprisingly heartrending so maybe it deserves another star...

16.     *The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
format/source = Kindle/girlebooks.com & audiobook/Hoopla, narrated by Nadia May; date finished = 26 Jan; 2
Categories: ABC Boogie (Jan: M & S), Join the Club (CATWoman Jan: Classics); Numbered Days
Country: England

While I immediately disliked the way everyone except her father treated Maggie, I was mildly enjoying this classic about the struggles of a middle class family in Victorian England until the final 2 books (about the final 20%). I found Maggie's behavior in these final sections so intensely irritating that it ruined the book for me.

This is the 3rd George Eliot book I have read & overall I haven't been a fan. Guess I will skip Daniel Deronda and Adam Bede (both on the Guardian's list) at least for the near future!

Nadia May was excellent even though I didn't care for the book & I would recommend her narration.

17.   The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein
format/source = audiobook/Hoopla, narrated by Lloyd James; date finished = 28 Jan;
Categories: ABC Boogie (Jan: M & S), Scary Monsters;   BingoDOG square #19 (book published in 1940-1960s)
Country: N/A (the Moon)

I don't know what I had expected from this Hugo award-winning science fiction novel but it was so much better than I had anticipated! The main reason I didn't give it 5 stars is that Heinlein's personal views on politics (as voiced by Prof) were a little too pushy & some of the Earth politics was dated. However, it remains an insightful look at colonialism & revolution despite those flaws. And I loved the look at how the Luna colonists handled marriage as well as other aspects of life there. To top it all off, there is Mike -- the computer who has become sentient though nobody except Manny knows it at the start of the book!

Lloyd James does an excellent narration & I particularly liked his Russian accent for Manny (though I don't know if a character who is 3rd generation Luna with a name like Manuel Garcia O'Kelly-Davis is supposed to be Russian!).

18.   Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata (ℕ) (translated by Edward G. Seidensticker)
format/source = paperback/MOB; date finished = 28 Jan; 3
Categories: ABC Boogie (Jan: M & S), All Around the World;   BingoDOG square #24 (set in a country I have never been)
Country: Japan

I just didn't get this book. It was beautifully written and easy to read but the characters, especially Komako, made no sense to me.

Jan 30, 2017, 9:02am Top

You've been busy!

Jan 30, 2017, 9:46am Top

>46 leslie.98: I've not read all his works but The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is definitely my favourite Heinlein of those that I've encountered so far. Glad you enjoyed it also.

Jan 30, 2017, 12:06pm Top

>47 VictoriaPL: Hehehe! Glad to have my reading mojo back!

>48 AHS-Wolfy: I will have to look into more of his books. I also really liked Stranger in a Strange Land which I read a few years ago...

Feb 5, 2017, 10:58pm Top

You've made some great progress! I have Four Feathers on my list because of the movie, but not the 1939 one, the 2002 one. :)

Feb 6, 2017, 11:59am Top

>50 -Eva-: Oh, I didn't know that there was a (relatively) recent film version of The Four Feathers! I will have to see if I can find it through my library.

Feb 6, 2017, 12:08pm Top

>51 leslie.98:
It's really good, but I can't say how much it resembles the book (or the 1939 film...). :)

Edited: Feb 6, 2017, 12:42pm Top

Books finished 29 Jan - 4 Feb:

19.   Sir Philip's Folly by Marion Chesney (aka M.C. Beaton)
format/source = Kindle/Amazon Prime lending library; date finished = 29 Jan; 2
Categories: ABC Boogie (Jan: M & S)
Country: England

I found the writing in this entry of the Poor Relations Hotel series not up to the quality I had come to expect. For example:
"Lady Fortescue, who had overheard the aside, reflected that no one could ever call Miss Tonks pretty, and yet the new hair-style made her look undoubtedly interesting and mundane."
Interesting and mundane!!?! Mundane means 'lacking interest'!

I also found that this Kindle edition has several noticable formatting/proofreading errors, the worst one being a sentence which was clearly made by combining two different sentences with who knows how much omitted in between!
"Arabella sat and quietly ate another cake before stand-yet, why should he worry? he wondered." (he being Sir Philip, who was not in the scene with Arabella just prior to this!).

20.   The Spia Family Presses On by Mary Leo
format/source = Kindle/Amazon; date finished = 30 Jan;
Categories: ABC Boogie (Jan: M & S), Watching the Detectives, These Things Take Time
Country: U.S.A. {CA}

This was a decent mystery though it lacked clues for the reader to solve it independently. The 'cozy' background was unique in that it involved a family business (growing olives & pressing them into olive oils) but one that was owned & run by "recovering" Mafia family members (ones out of prison & others all going straight). While I found the recipes at the end of the chapters sounded good, I would have preferred having them all at the end of the book where they didn't interrupt the flow of my reading.

21.     Death at the Bar by Ngaio Marsh {reread}
format/source = paperback/MOB & audiobook/Hoopla, narrated by Wanda McCaddon; date finished = 2 Feb; 4
Categories: ABC Boogie (Jan: M & S), Watching the Detectives
Country: England

While I knew that I had read this entry in the Inspector Alleyn series, as I have read all the Marsh books on my shelves at some point in the past 35 years, when I saw the audiobook on Hoopla & read the blurb it didn't sound familiar. Once I started listening though, it came back to me. Ironically, I spent about 2/3 of my time listening to this mystery sure I knew who the murderer was only to find it was someone else!

Wanda McCaddon does an excellent narration and this Golden Age mystery stands up to the test of time well imo.

22.   Modern Scandinavian Poetry edited by Martin Allwood (multiple translators)
format/source = hardcover/library; date finished = 3 Feb; 3
Categories: ABC Boogie (Jan: M & S), All Around the World, After All the Roads Have Led to Nowhere
Country: Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland

Too much for a two week library loan (even with a renewal!) but I appreciated experiencing such a variety of poems & poets from all the various Scandinavian countries.

I was surprised to find that taken as a whole, the Icelandic poetry section was the one I liked best! I also really was moved by the WW2 poetry from Norway.

23.   Homicidal by Paul Alexander
format/source = audiobook/Audible, narrated by Paul Christy; date finished = 4 Feb;
Categories: ABC Boogie (Feb: H & W), After All the Roads Have Led to Nowhere (nonfiction);  BingoDOG square #17 (one word title)
Country: U.S.A. {CA}

I hadn't realized when I picked up this freebie from Audible in 2013 that it was a true crime story (not a genre I care for much). However, I found this captured my interest, at least in part because I lived in L.A. during the 1980s so remembered some of the news from that time. Paul Christy did a good narration.

One negative worth mentioning though: the book jumps around in time a bit abruptly. A few extra sentences connecting the previous chapter with the new one might have helped in this regard.

I have rearranged the books in my Bingo square so please overlook any discrepencies! I hope to go back and edit the individual books but those listed in post 3 with the bingo square are the up-to-date assignments.

Feb 7, 2017, 4:51pm Top

>53 leslie.98: For a more charitable interpretation of that "mundane" word choice (yikes), perhaps the character was mispronouncing mondain, which basically means "high society"?

Feb 8, 2017, 9:18am Top

>54 rabbitprincess: That is probably what was meant though the character in question wouldn't have mispronouced it.

Feb 11, 2017, 10:06pm Top

Your challenge is already doing great!

Feb 12, 2017, 11:29am Top

>56 paruline: Thanks! Winter is always a big reading time for me - nothing is better when it is cold & snowy out than cuddling up with a hot drink and a good book :-)

Edited: Feb 26, 2017, 9:00pm Top

Books finished 5-11 February:

24.    *The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis {reread}
format/source = audiobook/LearningOutLoud.com, narrated by Chrissi Hart; date finished = 5 Feb; 5
Categories: ABC Boogie (Feb: H & W), Scary Monsters;   BingoDOG square #20 (author uses initials)
Country: N/A

Maybe only 4.5* for this podcast/audiobook...

It has been many decades since I read this series of books and over a decade since I saw the movie so when I found this audio version, it seemed like it was time for a reread.

Chrissi Hart does a good job with the narration. The breaks at the end of each podcast (~2 chapters each in length) was a minor annoyance and worth getting this whole series for free!

As for the book: when I read this as a teenager, I ignored all the religious allusions & themes and just enjoyed the fantasy adventure. Now as an adult, I still enjoy the fantasy adventure parts but can appreciate the themes of the book more. Personally, I am culturally Christian but basically areligious/agnostic so books about faith and religion are not particularly my kind of thing. However, I found that while the allusions to Christianity are quite obvious in this, it never felt 'preachy' to me.

25.   *Seven Suspects by Michael Innes {reread}
format/source = paperback/MOB; date finished = 6 Feb; 4
Categories: Join the Club (Feb. BoTM of a GoodReads group)
Country: England

February 2017 -- I found this less slow this time around and more fun! Here is my previous review:

Review from March 2013:
Seven Suspects is the American title of Michael Innes' first Inspector Appleby book Death at the President's Lodging. The murder of a university president forms the basis of this version of a locked room mystery.

I found the beginning slow going, mostly due to Innes' style of prose. However, once I became accustomed to the style & the plot began to unfold, the story quickly engrossed me. I don't think this is the type of mystery where the reader can figure out who is guilty before the detective (I certainly didn't!) but Innes plays fair - there are no hidden clues or evidence only the detective is privy to. All in all, an excellent example of this genre of mystery.

26.    *Sybil, or the Two Nations by Benjamin Disraeli
format/source = Kindle/Amazon & audiobook/LibriVox, narrated by Nicholas Clifford; date finished = 6 Feb; 4★ for the book & 3½* for the audiobook
Categories: ABC Boogie (Jan: M & S), Numbered Days; These Things Take Time;   BingoDOG square #14 (satire)
Country: England

If you don't like politics or satires, this is not the book for you. While I am not very political myself, I like satires very much. This one uses a variation of Romeo and Juliet as a framework: Charles Egremont, newly-elected aristocratic Member of Parliament, meets and falls in love with the beautiful poor Chartist Sybil Gerard. Disraeli used little subtlety in making his point of England being "Two nations; between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; ... THE RICH AND THE POOR." and amidst the humor and the romance, there are strong indictments about a government that allows the terrible conditions of the working classes. The book covers the conditions of farming labourers, mill workers, miners and metalworkers - each suffers in a different way but all suffering.

I particularly liked the satire of the political hostesses & the names Disraeli used for the minor characters (such as Lord Muddlebrains, Lady Firebrace, Colonel Bosky, Mr. Hoaxem etc.). I had a little bit of familiarity with the way aristocratic women sometimes figured as political hostesses before this & so Disraeli's lampooning of them struck me as very funny, such as Lady St. Julian's belief that all that is necessary for the party to secure a Member's vote on some particular issue is to have "asked some of them to dinner, or given a ball or two to their wives and daughters! ... Losing a vote at such a critical time, when if I had had only a remote idea of what was passing through his mind, I would have even asked him to Barrowley for a couple of days."

Nicholas Clifford gave an adequate narration in the LibriVox recording but it is an uninflected one - I prefer to have the different characters to have at least slightly different voices. I found this audiobook sometimes hard to focus on & it worked best for me if I switch to listening after spending some time reading the Kindle edition first so that my brain was already involved in the story.

27.  *Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
format/source = Kindle/Project Gutenberg; date finished = 8 Feb; 4
Categories: ABC Boogie (Feb: H & W); Scary Monsters; These Things Take Time; Join the Club (RandomCAT Feb: Title contains a possessive)
Country: N/A

I was taken by surprise to find that this feminist classic is told from the point of view of a man! However, the approach of 3 men experiencing this all-female society (and of course, the women are experiencing their first men!) worked very well. The book itself is an easy & fast read.

28.    *Something Fresh by P.G. Wodehouse (audiobook) {reread}
format/source = Kindle/Project Gutenberg & audiobook/Hoopla, narrated by Jonathan Cecil; date finished = 8 Feb; 5
Categories: ABC Boogie (Feb: H & W), Join the Club (Feb. BoTM for a GoodReads group)
Country: England

This review is for this audiobook edition only. For my thoughts on the book, see my Kindle edition of Something New (alternate title).

I love Jonathan Cecil's narration for Wodehouse & this is no exception. One aspect I noticed is that Chapter 9 & 10 differed a fair amount from the text in my Kindle edition from Project Gutenberg -- I wondered if the Gutenberg edition was a revised 'American' edition... a friend pointed me to this info from Wikipedia:

"There are some significant differences between the US edition and the later UK edition, though they do not affect the main plot.

Something New includes a lengthy scene in which Baxter finds a paint-splashed lady's shoe in the library after the theft and attempts to identify its owner: this scene was omitted from Something Fresh; Wodehouse had previously used the same sub-plot in the second part of the school novel, Mike. ..."

29.  *Sourcery by Terry Pratchett (DiscWorld #5)
format/source = Kindle/BPL; date finished = 9 Feb; 4
Categories: Scary Monsters; Numbered Days
Country: N/A

Such fun! The more I read the Rincewind books, the more I love the Luggage.

30.  *Whisky Galore by Compton MacKenzie
format/source = hardcover/MOB; date finished = 9 Feb;
Categories: ABC Boogie (Feb: H & W), Numbered Days
Country: Scotland

I waffled between 3 & 4 stars so I guess 3.5* is the right rating... The reason I waffled so much is that I found the plot hilarious but had some trouble with the Scot dialects (I have trouble reading dialects of all kinds). The interspersed Gaelic didn't give me as much trouble as my edition had a glossary of Gaelic terms with how to pronounce them & their meaning.

Here are some examples of the dialect (these are fairly clear as to their meaning but illustrate the way the dialects were written):

" 'I'm sorry, Captain MacPhee, but unless the peer comes by Monday's poat the peer will be where the whisky is, and that's nowhere at all' said the big hotel keeper."

" 'Chorge will neffer be having the courage to tell Mistress Campbell he's going to be married to her. Neffer!' he declared. 'Not unless he'd trunk a tram the size of Loch Sleeport itself, and then I believe it would turn to water inside his stamac when he saw his mother gazing at him.' "

" 'A Dhia, Dhia, don't be saying that, Hugh. The crapefruits wass never in poxes. Chust lying on the traìgh. Crapefruits chaca!' "

Feb 22, 2017, 10:37pm Top

I've reread them so many times, but the Narnia-books never get old to me. I'm not religious, but the allegory parts don't bother me either. I've grown up with the characters, so they can really do no wrong. :)

DiscWorld is another series I need to get back to!

Feb 26, 2017, 7:50pm Top

I have been out of touch for a bit as my dad unexpectedly went into the hospital last week -- he is home now & seems to be recovering well but he had to have a pacemaker installed. Anyway, with trips to the hospital to see him and then to my mom to help out, I had little time for the computer but lots of driving time to listen to audiobooks!

>59 -Eva-: Thanks for stopping by! I am enjoying my time with the Narnia books & DiscWorld as well. They were the perfect type of reading while I was stressed out about my dad so I have read some more in both series since my last post :)

Edited: Feb 26, 2017, 9:21pm Top

Books completed 12-26 February:

Because I am still a bit tired out, I am just going to list the basics for now & hope to come back and expand as my energy increases.

31.   The Wycherly Woman by Ross MacDonald
format/source = paperback/MOB; date finished = 12 Feb; 4
Categories: ABC Boogie (Feb: H & W), Watching the Detectives
Country: U.S.A. {CA

32.     *Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis {reread}
format/source = audiobook/LearnOutLoud.com, narrated by Chrissi Hart; date finished = 12 Feb;
Categories: Scary Monsters
Country: N/A

33.   The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie {reread}
format/source = paperback/MOB; date finished = 14 Feb;
Categories: Join the Club (Feb. group read elsewhere); Watching the Detectives
Country: England

34.   The Scarlet Ruse by John D. MacDonald
format/source = paperback/MOB; date finished = 4 Feb;
Categories: Watching the Detectives;   BingoDOG square #18 {Color in the title}
Country: U.S.A. {FL}

35.   The Winds of War by Herman Wouk
format/source = audiobook/Audible, narrated by Kevin Pariseau; date finished = 18 Feb; 4½★ for the book, 5★ for this audiobook edition
Categories: ABC Boogie (Feb: H & W)
Country: multiple (U.S., Germany, Russia, England, France, Italy, Hawaii)

36.     *The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis {reread}
format/source = audiobook/LearnOutLoud.com, narrated by Chrissi Hart; date finished = 19 Feb; 3
Categories: Scary Monsters
Country: N/A

37.   Agent of Change by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
format/source = Kindle/Amazon; date finished = 20 Feb; 4
Categories: Scary Monsters, These Things Take Time, Join the Club (CATWoman Feb: Debut novels; SFFFKIT Feb: Space travel);   BingoDOG square #4 {debut novel}
Country: N/A

38.   *A Quiet Belief in Angels by R.J. Ellory
format/source = audiobook/Hoopla, narrated by Mark Bramhall; date finished = 21 Feb; 4* for this audiobook edition; 3½* for the book itself
Categories: Numbered Days, Watching the Detectives, Join the Club (Feb BoTM elsewhere)
Country: U.S.A. {GA}

39.   *Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett {DiscWorld #6}
format/source = Kindle/library; date finished = 24 Feb;
Categories: ABC Boogie (Feb: H & W), Scary Monsters, Numbered Days
Country: N/A

40.   House of Light by Mary Oliver
format/source = hardcover/library; date finished = 25 Feb; 4
Categories: ABC Boogie (Feb: H & W), After All the Roads Have Led to Nowhere {poetry};   BingoDOG square #25 {appeals to senses}
Country: U.S.A.

41.   War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk
format/source = audiobook/Audible, narrated by Kevin Pariseau; date finished = 26 Feb; 4
Categories: ABC Boogie (Feb: H & W)
Country: various (see #35)

42.     *The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis {reread}
format/source = audiobook/LearnOutLoud, narrated by Chrissi Hart; date finished = 26 Feb;
Categories: Scary Monsters
Country: N/A

Feb 27, 2017, 1:04pm Top

Hi Leslie, I am glad that your Dad is feeling better and back at home. I see you read and loved The Winds of War and it's sequel War and Remembrance. I remember loving those two books. They made a TV mini series of them but from what I remember, the casting was a little off or at least didn't agree with my mental pictures. And you're starting the Liaden series which I also love. :)

Feb 27, 2017, 5:43pm Top

I have The Wycherly Woman in that same edition!

Sorry to hear that your dad had to go to hospital. Glad to hear that he is feeling better and at home!

Feb 27, 2017, 7:18pm Top

>62 DeltaQueen50: I am impressed by Wouk's skill as I generally don't care for WW2 books, especially when they have a lot of military details. Even so, I did indeed love these & liked his The Caine Mutiny very much last year.

I have Fledgling on my Kindle from the Liaden series - should I read this next or get another entry from the library?

>63 rabbitprincess: I found The Wycherly Woman one of the best of the Lew Archer books I have read so far - maybe not quite as good as The Chill but close.

Mar 5, 2017, 10:47pm Top

Oh, that's scary! Hope he continues to improve!!

Mar 6, 2017, 8:53pm Top

Thanks >65 -Eva-: - he is almost back to normal now so that is good.

Mar 6, 2017, 9:13pm Top

>60 leslie.98: Glad to hear your Dad is better. Audiobooks are great for long drives, aren't they?

Mar 7, 2017, 6:31pm Top

>67 mathgirl40: Indeed - and for those times sitting around waiting, though a regular book works then too.

Edited: Mar 7, 2017, 9:09pm Top

Books finished between 27 Feb - 5 March:

43.   The Unreal and the Real: The Selected Short Stories of Ursula K. Le Guin by Ursula K. Le Guin
format/source = hardcover/library; 715 pages; date finished = 27 Feb; 4
Categories: After All the Roads Have Led to Nowhere {short stories}
Country: some U.S., mostly N/A

As with most collections, this one had its highs & lows but overall, I really liked them. Le Guin generally makes me think about various issues in her writing and many of these stories did that :)

44.     *Howards End by E.M. Forster
format/source = Kindle/Project Gutenberg & audiobook/LibriVox, narrated by Elizabeth Klett; 340 pages; date finished = 1 Mar; 4★ for the book, 4½* for the audio
Categories: ABC Boogie (Feb: H & W &/or Mar: E & K), Numbered Days, These Things Take Time
Country: England

I thoroughly enjoyed this 1910 classic! I had (of course) seen the Merchant-Ivory film adaptation before but I found the book had more depth to it. The film was true to the plot but the book contained some philosophical themes, such as what things are worth striving for in life, which the film understandably couldn't portray as well (or at all).

45.   The Orenda by Joseph Boyden {abandoned on page 53}
format/source = hardcover/library; 435 pages; date gave up = 2 Mar;
Categories: Join the Club (AwardCAT Feb: Canada Reads)
Country: Canada

Well written but not the right book for my current mood, I guess. The French missionary is, I am sure, correctly portrayed but I couldn't take his attitude towards the native Americans. And the realism was more grisly than I could take...

46.     The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
format/source = Kindle/Amazon & audiobook/Audible, narrated by Paul Michael; 489 pages; date finished = 3 Mar; ★ for the book, 3* for the audiobook
Categories: Watching the Detectives, These Things Take Time
Country: France & England

One morning last week, I found myself in the car without an audiobook ready to go. This thriller, which I picked up in a Whispersync deal back in March 2013, was already downloaded to my phone so I started listening to it... Paul Michael did a good narration, especially with the French bits. I was a bit surprised that the text of this audiobook edition was slightly different than the Kindle edition. It was almost as if the Kindle edition (which matched my memory of my brother's paperback I read back before I kept records of my reading) was a later revised edition. For example, early in the story in the audiobook Langdon talks about seeing the museum in the glow of "infrared light" (which is ridiculous as the human eye can't see IR) but in the Kindle edition this has been corrected to read "red service lighting".

Perhaps this is one reason the audiobook was so cheap! Another minor irritation with the audio edition is that it is one in which the so-called chapters have no relationship with the chapters of the text (presumably they were the number of tape cassette sides before the recording was digitized...).

This book is so silly in so many ways but yet it is thrilling and kept me listening to it in preference to other, better written books awaiting me that in the end I had to give it 3½*!

47.   Night Waking by Sarah Moss
format/source = paperback/library; 375 pages; date finished = 3/3 Mar; 4
Categories: Watching the Detectives, Join the Club (Feb BoTM elswhere)
Country: Scotland

I wasn't sure that I was going to like this book after I read the first few chapters. Anna didn't seem like a very attractive character & the alternating chapters of late Victorian letters broke up the flow of the story. However, by the middle of the book I was drawn into life on the Hebridean island of Colsay (both past & present). By the end, the format of the book made sense and the Victorian letters, Anna's current life and her research into the death of a young girl during WW2 formed an intricately twined tripartite view of life of women & children over the years, highlighted by Anna's scholarly work on children and parenting that she is desperately trying to complete in her few snatched minutes of privacy.

48.     The Zebra-Striped Hearse by Ross MacDonald
format/source = paperback/MOB & audiobook/Hoopla, narrated by Grover Gardner; 224 pages; date finished = 4 Mar;
Categories: ABC Boogie (all year: Z & X), Watching the Detectives
Country: U.S.A. {CA}

Pretty good P.I. mystery but the solution became clear to me about 80% through (which I view as a negative in a mystery book).

49.     *The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis {reread}
format/source = audiobook/LearnOutLoud, narrated by Chrissi Hart; 217 pages; date finished = 5 Mar;
Categories: Scary Monsters
Country: N/A

This one struck me as more of a straightforward fairy tale though Aslan does play a part.

Mar 12, 2017, 4:34pm Top

>60 leslie.98: - Sorry to see the sudden news about your dad. Glad to see he is back home and feeling better.

>69 leslie.98: - I have not read The Orenda yet but I can see how the French missionary's attitude could be a negative for that read.

Mar 13, 2017, 1:52pm Top

>70 lkernagh: I am willing to try The Orenda again someday. I think that its bleakness was a bad match for my feelings while I was coping with my dad's illness - I needed more lighthearted reading to cheer me up. Now that he is recovered for the most part, it will go back on the TBR...

Edited: Mar 13, 2017, 3:09pm Top

Books finished between 6-12 March:

50.    *Eugenie Grandet by Honore de Balzac {translated by Katherine Prescott Wormeley}
format/source = Kindle/Project Gutenberg & audiobook/LibriVox, narrated by Bruce Pirie; 244 pages; date finished = 7 Mar; 4
Categories: ABC Boogie (March: E & K), These Things Take Time, Numbered Days, All Around the World
Country: France

My first foray into Balzac & his La Comedie Humaine... I was a bit nervous as I have had mixed reactions to French classics, loving some (such as The Three Musketeers) and disliking others (such as Madame Bovary) I was pleased to find that this is a great book! The excellent LibriVox recording by Bruce Pirie is worth 4½*.

Balzac's characters were all well written (even though not all were very nice) & the prose was extremely readable. I found the ending rather sad... I am now looking forward to reading more Balzac :)

51.   The Pusher by Ed McBain
format/source = Kindle/Amazon Prime lending library; 198 pages; date finished = 7 Mar;
Categories: ABC Boogie (March: E & K), Watching the Detectives
Country: U.S.A.

If you liked the TV show Hill Street Blues, you'll probably enjoy this series. Ed McBain invented the police procedural subgenre in which a whole precinct is the hero rather than an individual detective and that provided the basis for such ensemble TV shows...

In this 3rd book in the series, we meet again Detective Steve Carella who was featured in the first book but the story really revolves around his boss, Lieutenant Byrnes. The plot could have been set last year instead of in 1956; it is rather a sad commentary about drug use in the U.S. that this is so...

52.  *Pyramids by Terry Pratchett
format/source = Kindle/BPL; 321 pages; date finished = 8 Mar; 3
Categories: Scary Monsters, Join the Club (SFFFKit March: SFFF & religion), Numbered Days
Country: N/A

Poor Teppic, just qualified to be a member of the Assassin's Guild, has to leave Ankh-Morpok to return to his home, the kingdom of Djelibeybi (quasi-Eqypt), when his father unexpectedly dies. Some interesting ideas about belief and ritual... I found this one less humorous but maybe that is because I don't know a lot about ancient Egypt. As always, I love the footnotes in Pratchett's books!

53.   The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie {reread}
format/source = audiobook/BPL, narrated by Richard E. Grant; 200 pages; date finished = 9 Mar;
Categories: Join the Club (CATWoman March: genres); Watching the Detectives
Country: England

I am slowly rereading the Miss Marple books this year. This 3rd one barely qualifies as a Miss Marple as she doesn't make an appearance until about 80% of the way through. Of course, she quickly solves the case once she appears on the scene! It is almost as if Christie's publisher talked her into adding in a familiar sleuth rather than making it one of her stand-alone mysteries...

Richard E. Grant is marvelous in his narration of the audiobook. I really appreciated all the different voices he did for the different characters!

54.  *Ennui by Maria Edgeworth
format/source = Kindle/manybooks; 217 pages; date finished = 10 Mar;
Categories: ABC Boogie (March: E & K), Join the Club ( March: CATWoman: genres; RandomCAT: Irish), Numbered Days, These Things Take Time
Country: England & Ireland

This satire on early nineteenth century society, published as part of Edgeworth's series Tales of a Fashionable Life in 1809, pokes fun at a pose commonly held in the high society of the time - that of being bored of everything. In addition to lampooning the rich, Edgeworth includes some social commentary about the Irish (and the Anglo-Irish landlords). A quick and easy read that has grown on me a bit since I finished it. I may end up increasing my rating at some time...

55.    *The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis {reread via audiobook}
format/source = audiobook/LearnOutLoud, narrated by Chrissi Hart; 186 pages; date finished = 12 Mar; 4
Categories: Scary Monsters, Join the Club (SFFFKit March: SFF & religion)
Country: England/Narnia

maybe even 4.5* for the book itself

This sixth book in publication order is the creation story of Narnia. Excellent entry in the series & one I had no memory of whatsoever! While I suppose that you could read this one first I think that some of the nuances of the story (such as Diggory turning out to be the professor who housed the Pevensey children & the wardrobe being made from a tree whose seed had come from Narnia) would be lost if you weren't familiar with The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe...

56.   The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold
format/source = audiobook/Hoopla, narrated by Lloyd James; 496 pages; date finished = 12 Mar; 4
Categories: Scary Monsters, Join the Club (March: CATWoman: genres; SFFFKit: SFF & religion)
Country: N/A

This first book in the World of Five Gods series is the first non-Vorkosigan book by Bujold I have read. Unlike the Vorkosigan books, this one is strictly fantasy (rather than science fiction). As I had expected, Bujold does a great job with the world-building and her characters are well developed. I was intrigued by the Quintarian religion: they worship The Father, The Mother, The Son, The Daughter and the Bastard (and by the Roknari variant which omits The Bastard).

In her sci fi epic Vorkosigan series, Bujold often presents us with ideas about how society & women's lives might be different if procreation was assisted by technology in various ways (such as the Uterine Replicator); it appears that in this series, the theme will be theological. That theme is of less interest to me but Bujold still wraps her ideas in exciting stories with some humor & some romance.

In addition, this tale, though in a completely fictional world, mirrors the real-life story of Queen Isabelle of Castile which adds some fun to the reading. Just as Iselle has to struggle through court politics & marries with a view to forming a larger kingdom for her children, so did Isabelle when she married Ferdinand against the wishes of her court. There are some other parallels if you look for them.

Lloyd James did a good narration. He was particularly good as Cazaril but yet I missed Grover Gardner who was so magnificent in the Vorkosigan books...

Mar 13, 2017, 3:09pm Top

Hi Leslie, you sure have been reading up a storm. I loved The Orenda but can certainly see that it would be a difficult read when RL is stressful. I noticed when I wasn't feeling well earlier this year that I really needed to read lighter, more cheerful books.

Mar 13, 2017, 3:25pm Top

Glad your Dad is back home and doing well.

You've had lots of good audio-reading! Your comments about The Orenda is exactly how I thought it would be, so I've put it off until the right time - assuming there will be one someday.

Mar 13, 2017, 3:27pm Top

>73 DeltaQueen50: I notice that I have less tolerance for dark books (whether bleak or noir) these days. I guess that I feel like there is enough misery in life already so if the book doesn't grab me right away, it is easier for me to abandon one that is dark than one that is light.

Edited: Mar 13, 2017, 3:31pm Top

>74 VivienneR: One advantage of spending lots of time in the car! For good or bad, though, if I am liking the story I find that I can't leave the book to listening just in the car so I go through them faster than I intended.

Mar 30, 2017, 10:40pm Top

I have updated my categories above but haven't had the time (or energy) to do my synopses... Unfortunately my father is back in the hospital so it is unlikely that I will update in the near future.

Mar 31, 2017, 3:51pm Top

I'm so sorry to hear about your father, sending good thoughts your way.

Mar 31, 2017, 11:47pm Top

>77 leslie.98: Oh no! I'm very sorry to hear your father's not doing well. Thinking of you.

Apr 29, 2017, 10:38pm Top

It looks like I won't be resuming my synopses anytime soon. However I have updated my categories above and am keeping up with my ROOT thread if anyone wants to look at that.

Edited: May 6, 2017, 12:33pm Top

Books finished during the week of 30 April - 6 May:

Hot Water by P.G. Wodehouse, audiobook borrowed through Hoopla. 3*

Within a Budding Grove by Marcel Proust, Kindle (& hardcover edition borrowed from my dad). Not bad but a book that required more attention than I am currently capable of... 2*

A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie, reread via Overdrive audiobook. Good fun! 4*

Topper by Thorne Smith, Kindle (& audiobook CDs borrowed from the library). Significantly different from the Cary Grant movie, a satire on a NY banker's mid-life crisis (complicated by ghosts) from the 1920s. 4*

*The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, hardcover borrowed from the library. 3½*

May 6, 2017, 2:09pm Top

A Murder is Announced may be my favourite Miss Marple!

May 6, 2017, 9:43pm Top

>82 rabbitprincess: I have been enjoying my time rereading the Miss Marple series through audiobooks - after each one, I think 'maybe this is my favorite' lol!

Edited: Jul 14, 2017, 4:13pm Top

Over 2 months since I last posted... Sadly, after several months of feeling mostly okay despite his multiple myeloma, my father's health took a sudden turn for the worse a few weeks ago and he passed away on Tuesday. I am glad that I got to spend time with him during these last few months.

Hopefully I will be back more regularly in a few weeks.

Jul 14, 2017, 4:29pm Top

I'm so sorry to hear that, leslie.98 Take care, take your time with everything, and be gentle with yourself.

Jul 14, 2017, 5:01pm Top

My deepest condolences for your loss. Glad to see you were able to spend time with him before he passed away.

Jul 14, 2017, 6:19pm Top

I'm so sorry for your loss. Take care of yourself.

Jul 14, 2017, 9:19pm Top

I'm so sorry for you. Hope you found some comfort in the time spent with him.

Jul 16, 2017, 5:21pm Top

Sending you and your family my sympathies.

Jul 18, 2017, 11:04am Top

I'm so sorry to hear about your father! My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Jul 18, 2017, 11:12am Top

I wanted to let you know how sorry I am to hear of your Dad passing. Take care of yourself and enjoy your memories of him. I'm glad you were able to spend time with him.

Jul 18, 2017, 2:52pm Top

I'm so sorry for your loss. I hope you have many fond memories to sustain you in this difficult time.

Jul 19, 2017, 4:21pm Top

I'm so sorry for the loss of your father. I hope you are surrounded by love and kindness in this difficult time.

Jul 20, 2017, 4:18pm Top

I'm so sorry to hear about your father. Glad you got to spend some time with him. My thoughts are with you.

Jul 23, 2017, 2:44pm Top

I'm so sorry for your loss. Take your time, we'll all be here.

Jul 25, 2017, 11:01pm Top

>84 leslie.98: Wow. I am glad to hear that you were able to spend time with him at the end. That was one of my regrets when my father passed. So sorry for your loss.

Jul 31, 2017, 3:36pm Top

Thank you all for your kind thoughts. I appreciate all the messages as I know how easy it is to click on to something else when it is hard to figure out what to say.

I am slowly getting to a new normal now. To ease myself back into the flow here at LT, I have started posting on some of the threads but catching up on my own thread is too daunting at the moment. Be sure though that I am still reading!

Aug 4, 2017, 6:33pm Top

I have brought the first 4 categories up to date (Guardian's list, Kindle ROOTs, AlphaKIT and translated books). Hopefully I will finish updating the others early next week.

Aug 6, 2017, 6:04pm Top

Finished updating categories 5 & 6 (mysteries & sci fi/fantasy). I am 'officially' abandoning category 7 (Proust)...

Edited: Aug 27, 2017, 2:32pm Top

Books finished this week (August 13-19):

154.  *Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood
format/source = hardcover/library; 317 pages; date finished = 13 August; 4
Categories: Numbered Days
Country: Germany

Engaging collection of connected short stories showing life in 1930-32 Berlin from the perspective of a relatively poor Englishman. The section on Sally Bowles was of course familiar to me from the musical Cabaret though I got a slightly different impression of her character from the book.

155.  Stick Fly by Lydia R. Diamond
format/source = audio/Audible, full cast narration by L.A. Theatre Works; 112 pages; date finished = 13 August; ★ for the play, 4* for the audiobook
Categories: In a Stage Whisper
Country: U.S.A. (MA)

Upper class African-American family dynamics during a weekend at Martha's Vineyard when the 2 sons bring home their girlfriends for the first time.

156.  *Night Watch by Terry Pratchett
format/source = hardcover/library; 338 pages; date finished = 13 August;
Categories: Numbered Days, Scary Monsters & Supercreeps, Join the Club (August SFFFKIT)
Country: N/A

Just when I think that they can't get any better, I am proved wrong :-) Sam Vines accidentally travels back in time to when he is a new recruit to the Night Watch.

157.  Heads You Lose by Christianna Brand
format/source = ebook/Hoopla; 223 pages; date finished = 14 August; 3
Categories: Watching the Detectives
Country: England

I enjoyed this first Inspector Cockrill mystery, which was a quick read. It wasn't as good as another one I have read, Green For Danger; I think Cockrill being friends with the suspects hampered things a bit.

158.  One Man's Initiation: 1917 by John Dos Passos {reread}
format/source = audio/Audible, narrated by Jeff Woodman; 140 pages; date finished = 15 August; 3
Categories: ABC Boogie (August: O & F)
Country: France

This novella about an American ambulance driver in World War I was a good remembrance for Veterans Day (although I didn't get to it until later). As with most WWI stories, it is gritty and heartwrenching. I find that is even more affecting in audiobook form than in the written word, so it took me a while to make it through this despite its short length.

As for the narration, it was neither great nor terrible. A tad on the slow side but not so much as to make me use the 1.5x setting...

August 2017 reread: No change from the above

159.  Black Money by Ross MacDonald
format/source = paperback/MOB; 201 pages; date finished = 16 August;
Categories: Watching the Detectives
Country: U.S.A. {CA}

One of the better books in the Lew Archer series!

160.  The Adventures of Tom Stranger, Interdimensional Insurance Agent by Larry Correia
format/source = audio/Audible, narrated by Adam Baldwin; ? pages; date finished = 16 August; 4
Categories: Scary Monsters & Supercreeps, Join the Club (August SFFFKIT)
Country: U.S.A.

Quite silly but a fun novella to while away a summer day. Adam Baldwin does a great narration especially Jimmy the intern.

161.  A Rare Book of Cunning Device by Ben Aaronovitch
format/source = audio/Audible, narrated by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith; ? pages; date finished = 17 August; 3
Categories: Scary Monsters & Supercreeps; After All the Roads Have Led to Nowhere
Country: England

A short story audiobook freebie from Audible. I suspect if I had read some of the Peter Grant series, I would have enjoyed this more.

162.  The Chimes by Anna Smaill
format/source = hardcover/library; 286 pages; date finished = 18 August;
Categories: Scary Monsters & Supercreeps
Country: England

I really liked the world Smaill created (not in the sense of wanting to live there but in the sense that she showed skill in crafting it) and the story, while predictable, was exciting to read. However, I was constantly bothered by a question which was never answered:
How did the chimes manage to erase people's memories?? Biologically speaking, this didn't make any sense to me. And it didn't take all the memories (such as the names of objects or how to do things) which made the process even harder for me to understand. And since sound doesn't carry to everywhere in the globe, what happens at the edges, where people unaffected by the Carillion meet or interact with those who are affected? The lack of an answer to this made me slightly unsatisfied with the book as a whole...

163.  Fat Angie by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo
format/source = audio/SYNC, narrated by Angela Dawe; 272 pages; date finished = 19 August; 3
Categories: ABC Boogie (August: O & F), Join the Club August AwardCAT: (Stonewall Book award 2014: Mike Morgan and Larry Romans Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award)
Country: U.S.A. {OH}

I didn't much care for the writing of this YA novel (too YA in style for me) but the plot was interesting. The mother Connie made my blood boil as in my opinion she was emotionally abusing her daughter rather than just being neglectful.

Aug 22, 2017, 5:57am Top

>104 That is quite a haul. I enjoyed the quirky humour of A Rare Book of Cunning Device, and also read it because it was a freebie.

Aug 22, 2017, 1:10pm Top

>105 I signed up for an Audible contest which requires I listen using the Audible app every day in August -- it certainly motivated me to listen to a lot of the short audio freebies I have accumulated!

Aug 24, 2017, 1:52pm Top

Looks like you have been having a great reading month!

Aug 25, 2017, 12:08pm Top

Thanks >107! I have been enjoying myself :)

Edited: Sep 3, 2017, 12:31pm Top

Books finished 20-26 August:

164.  The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
format/source = audiobook/Audible channels, narrated by Stephen Crossley; 396 pages; date finished = 21 August; 4
Categories: Around the World
Country: Sweden (and many other places!)

I enjoyed this Swedish novel very much. Stephen Crossley does a wonderful narration too; I am glad to have the chance to listen to this via Audible channels :)

I had seen the film based on the book already but found that the book was much funnier and had more layers to it. Both the film and the book made me think of a Swedish version of Forrest Gump (though significantly better IMO) in that during his lifetime, Alan just happens to meet many world leaders and participate in some world history in the same way that Forrest Gump did. Alan however is a more interesting personality.

165.  Appleby's Other Story by Michael Innes
format/source = paperback/MOB; 183 pages; date finished = 21 August;
Categories: Watching the Detectives
Country: England

A good country house murder mystery with retired Appleby still on the top of his form.

166.  Frederica by Georgette Heyer {reread}
format/source = paperback/MOB; 379 pages; date finished = 22 August; 5
Categories: ABC Boogie (August O & F)
Country: England

Heyer is one of my comfort read go-to authors; this may be the seventh or eighth time I have read this and I still am charmed by the romance and the humor. This is one of Heyer's best, in my opinion, and I was glad to use this month's AlphaKIT as an excuse to enjoy this once again.

167.  Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville
format/source = audiobook/Audible channels, narrated by Stefan Rudnicki; 56 pages; date finished = 22 August;
Categories: After All the Roads Have Led to Nowhere (short story)
Country: U.S.A. {NY}

Stefan Rudnicki did a very good narration. Bartleby sure is a strange character! If you have never read Melville, this short story might be a good place to start.

168.  The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
format/source = Kindle/Amazon Prime lending library; 218 pages; date finished = 23 August; 4
Categories: Join the Club August RandomCAT (animals); Scary Monsters & Supercreeps
Country: N/A

I don't know how I missed reading this growing up! This YA fantasy is one which is enjoyable for adults as well (something that too few contemporary YA are able to do in my experience) - I can see why it is considered a classic.

169.  Whodunnit? Murder on Mystery Island by Anthony Zuiker
format/source = audiobook/Audible, narrated by Gildart Jackson; 272 pages; date finished = 24 August;
Categories: Watching the Detectives
Country: unnamed tropical island

Very similar to the first book in this series. Not a bad way to while away some summer hours but these are not really mysteries in my sense of the term. It isn't possible for the listener to figure out who the murderer is before the big reveal and the killer's motivation is never explained. Gildart Jackson does a good narration & that helps.

170.  The Glimpses of the Moon by Edmund Crispin {reread}
format/source = paperback/MOB; 296 pages; date finished = 25 August; 4
Categories: Watching the Detectives
Country: England

August 2017 reread: While not Crispin's best mystery, the humor and eccentric characters make this a fun book to read. I think that I enjoyed Fen's literary references much more in this reread as I am more familiar with the authors mentioned than I was 25 years ago when I first read this.

171.  Ceremonies in Dark Old Men by Lonne Elder
format/source = audiobook/Audible, full cast recording by L.A. Theatre Works; 180 pages; date finished = 25 August; 3
Categories: In a Stage Whisper
Country: U.S.A. {NY}

I don't get this title... maybe like A Raisin in the Sun it is a literary allusion.

This play has many similarities with Hansberry's classic but felt more helpless; perhaps that is why it didn't appeal to me as much. Or maybe it's that this play is much more about the men (as the title does indicate!) with the only female character underdeveloped.

172.  The Faithful Spy by Alex Berenson
format/source = audiobook/Random House Audio, narrated by Robertson Dean; 352 pages; date finished = 25 August; 2
Categories: ABC Boogie (August: O & F), Watching the Detectives
Country: Afghanistan, Pakistan & U.S.A.

The story of 'the faithful spy' for the CIA who has been undercover in Al-Qaida for years. Not bad but if I hadn't gotten it for free I probably wouldn't have read it.

173.  Free Fall in Crimson by John D. MacDonald
format/source = paperback/MOB; 288 pages; date finished = 26 August;
Categories: ABC Boogie (August: O & F), Watching the Detectives
Country: U.S.A. {FL & IA}

A solid entry in the McGee series. Not as much social commentary as in some of the previous books but also missing is the slightly offensive remarks about women & sex that sometimes appear; that is a trade-off I can live with!

174.  3 Truths and a Lie by Lisa Gardner
format/source = audiobook/Audible, narrated by Kirsten Potter; 52 pages; date finished = 26 August; 3
Categories: Watching the Detectives, BingoDOG square #1 (author shares your initials)
Country: U.S.A. {MA}

I liked this short mystery story more than I anticipated considering that I am unfamiliar with the series. So it was a pleasant surprise to find that it is set in Boston with some excursions into a suburb I know well!

Kirsten Potter did a good job narrating. I will have to try some more D.D. Warren books...

format/source = audio CDs/library, narrated by Jill Tanner; 390 pages; date finished = 26 August; 2
Categories: Join the Club August CATWomen (historical fiction)
Country: England

I was disappointed with this, my second book by Chevalier. William Blake was a relatively minor character as was Astley & I found the story about Maggie and the Kellaways not particularly interesting. The Girl With the Pearl Earring was so much better!

Edited: Aug 29, 2017, 3:56pm Top

I think that somehow my counting has gotten mixed up -- Goodreads says I have finished 180 books, my notebook says 178 (with 3 unfinished so 175 done) and LT has me at 177 (the above 175 plus 2 finished today). Oh well... I am somewhere in this vicinity!

It turns out that GR has counted a few of my Whispersync reads as 2 books (despite my best efforts to have only the Kindle book count). And I had decided here at LT to count as "done" my DNR books but in my notebook I wasn't counting those 2. So all confusion has been cleared up :)

Edited: Sep 4, 2017, 9:28am Top

Books finished 27 Aug - 2 Sept:

176.  Friendly Air by Elizabeth Cadell
format/source = hardcover/library; 218 pages; date finished = 27 August; 4
Categories: ABC Boogie (August: O & F)
Country: England & Portugal

A light-hearted romance with no sex scenes, thank goodness! I am so tired of reading "romance" novels that turn out to be soft-core porn. This book was the first I have read by Cadell but I am sure that I will be seeking out more of her work.

177.   Professional Integrity by Michael J. Sullivan
format/source = audiobook/Audible, narrated by Tim Reynolds; 35 pages; date finished = 27 August;
Categories: Scary Monsters & Supercreeps; After All the Roads Have Led to Nowhere (short story)
Country: N/A

I thought that this short story was well done & you don't need to be familiar with the series to enjoy it.

178.   Fragments of My Time by Geraldo Pereira
format/source = Kindle/Sensational Books; ?? pages; date finished = 29 August; 2
Categories: ABC Boogie (August O & F); Around the World; After All the Roads Have Led to Nowhere (short story)
Country: Brazil

If this Kindle book, which I got for free from http://ebook.visitbrasil.com/index.html, had been better translated and/or edited I might have given it 2½*. The stories are reminiscences of Recife and if I knew the city or even the country, I might have enjoyed them more.

179.   One for Sorrow by Mary Reed & Eric Mayer
format/source = Kindle/Amazon; 302 pages; date finished = 29 August;
Categories: ABC Boogie (August O & F); These Things Take Time; Watching the Detectives; Join the Club: August CATWomen (historical fiction)
Country: Turkey (ancient Constantinople)

A good mystery set in the time of Justinian at Constantinople (~550 A.D.). I liked the setting and the main character John, Lord Chamberlain for Justinian. I also had a fondness for the bull dancers from Crete which reminded me of Mary Renault...

180.   From London Far by Michael Innes
format/source = paperback/MOB; 304 pages; date finished = 30 August; 4
Categories: ABC Boogie (August O & F); Watching the Detectives
Country: England, Scotland & U.S.A.

Erudite and bizarre mystery about art theft. Richard Meredith, a middle-aged scholar of Juvenal and literary criticism, is catapulted into this adventure by mischance - don't worry if the first chapter puts you off as the story really starts with the second one; the first one makes more sense later on.

Although Inspector Appleby isn't in this book, it did remind me of a few of his adventures in both writing and the bizarreness! However, unlike Appleby, Meredith (and his young female companion) are amateurs, civilians caught up in unravelling a criminal organization.

181.   Fool Errant by Patricia Wentworth
format/source = ebook/Hoopla; 310 pages; date finished = 31 August; 4
Categories: ABC Boogie (August O & F); Watching the Detectives
Country: England

Good thriller, much better than her earlier The Annam Jewel. It is one of the 'innocent gets caught up with villians' type books such as Mary Stewart and Helen MacInnes wrote, only the innocent this time is a man instead of a girl. Nature gave Hugo Ross the appearance of a fresh, innocent, gullible boy; luckily for him, he was smarter than he looked and goes to Benbow Smith for advice. I do love this kind of story!

182.     The Man Who Knew Too Much by G.K. Chesterton
format/source = Kindle/Amazon & audiobook/Audible, narrated by Harold Wiederman; 182 pages; date finished = 1 September; ★ for the book, 2* for the audio
Categories: Watching the Detectives; After All the Roads Have Led to Nowhere (short story)
Country: England

There is something about Chesterton's writing style that I don't quite like. I noticed this before in reading some of the Father Brown stories. The plots are interesting enough yet I can't say that I like them.

I didn't much care for Wiederman's narration either, which made me resort to following along or rereading certain sections in my Kindle edition in order to understand what was happening. Oh well, it was free so nothing lost!

183.  *Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser
format/source = Kindle/library; 260 pages; date finished = 1 September; 4
Categories: ABC Boogie (August O & F); Numbered Days
Country: England, India & Afghanistan (in 1836-1842)

It was sheer coincidence that I read this only a few months after The Far Pavilions... For those unfamiliar with either of these books, they both deal with 19th century British army in India & Afghanistan. Flashman is involved in the first Anglo-Afghan war while Ashton Pelham-Martyn was present for the second Anglo-Afghan war; neither of them were typical British Army but otherwise they are quite different characters!!

Flashman could be called an anti-hero I suppose; he certainly describes himself that way, as a coward & scoundrel. His actions, particularly in regard to women, are awful but the reader can't help liking him. Perhaps it is because he is so open about all his weaknesses that one prefers him to the braver but stupider (or hypocritical) soldiers around him. In any case, as in Far Pavilions, the reader is left shaking his/her head at the incredible incompetence and arrogance of the leaders in the British army.

184.   A Woman's Place by Linda Grant
format/source = hardcover/library; 261 pages; date finished = 2 September;
Categories: Watching the Detectives; BingoDOG square #1 (author shares your initials)
Country: U.S.A. {CA}

Creepy story about a female PI who draws the attention of a women-hating psychotic who stalks her… I was unfamiliar with Grant's work before this book but had trolled the mystery section of the library for an author who would complete my BingoDOG square! And this finished my entire Bingo card. As for the mystery - it was really only a mystery for the first half of the book, the second half being a thriller. The author throws in a twist at the end but it was easy enough for me to see it coming (though not the actual identity of the killer). Being a woman, I found parts of this frightening and (sadly) believable but not enjoyable to read! A reader who is less easily frightened would probably give this a higher rating.

Sep 4, 2017, 12:47pm Top

Congrats on completing your Bingo card!

Sep 4, 2017, 3:18pm Top

Thanks >112! I found the BingoDOG a good way to decide among different books when I was unsure what to read next so it went pretty easily until that last square.

Sep 4, 2017, 7:56pm Top

Look at you go, and love the 5 star rating you gave to Frederica... I haven't read that particular Heyer, yet. Always nice to know I can look forward to reading that one!

Sep 4, 2017, 9:41pm Top

>114 Oh, if you haven't read Frederica yet, you have a treat in store!

Edited: Sep 13, 2017, 3:31pm Top

Books finished 3-9 September:

185.   Under a War-Torn Sky by L.M. Elliott
format/source = audiobook/SYNC, narrated by Elizabeth Wiley; 288 pages; date finished = 5 Sept.; 3
Categories: ABC Boogie (Sept. U & P); Join the Club: September CATWomen (Children/YA)
Country: Switzerland, France, U.S.

The story of a young Virginian pilot shot down during WW2 and his experiences while he tried to make it back to Allied territory. The writing is definitely YA (which is its target audience) which to my adult ears was a little annoying at times but overall not bad. Elizabeth Wiley does a very good narration which rather surprised me as the main character is male.

186.   The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene
format/source = paperback/library; 255 pages; date finished = 5 Sept.;
Categories: none
Country: unnamed west African country, commonly attributed as Sierra Leone

Not a review, just some random thoughts upon completing this novel. Scobie is such a tragic figure! And I can't help wondering how autobiographic his struggles with love & religion were since both Scobie & Greene converted to Catholicism. The broken rosary Scobie kept meaning to have repaired is a symbol that sticks in my mind... Another thing that struck me was encapsulated in the phrase:
" - that no human being can really understand another, and no one can arrange another's happiness."
Despite the religious aspects running through this book, it seemed almost existentialist in tone.

187.   *Poetic Justice by Amanda Cross
format/source = Kindle/BPL; 218 pages; date finished = 6 Sept.; 4
Categories: ABC Boogie (Sept. U & P); Numbered Days; Watching the Detectives
Country: U.S. {NY}

Maybe even 4.5*, just because I do so love an academic setting for a mystery!

An academic mystery which deals with the internal politics & struggles of the faculty of a major (unnamed) New York city university is the kind of mystery I would have loved to write myself. Written in 1970, student unrest provides the background to the situation but as anyone who has been a college or university professor knows, the factions & committees etc. could have been taking place at any time. I had a few laughs (such as at the doctoral dissertation defense meeting & the professor describing a recent play he had attended) as well.

I loved the Auden quotes at the start of each chapter & throughout the text; I will have read his poetry for myself sometime soon!

188.   Ukridge by P.G. Wodehouse
format/source = audiobook/Hoopla, narrated by Jonathan Cecil; 219 pages; date finished = 7 Sept.; 4
Categories: ABC Boogie (Sept. U & P); After All the Roads Have Led to Nowhere (short stories)
Country: England

3.5* for the book, rounded up to 4* due to Jonathan Cecil's narration.

While having a friend like Ukridge would make life interesting, I am sure glad that I don't have such a friend!

189.   Private by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
format/source = audiobook/Audible, narrated by Peter Hermann; 385 pages; date finished = 8 Sept.; 3
Categories: ABC Boogie (Sept. U & P); Watching the Detectives
Country: U.S. {CA}

2.5* for the book; 3* for the audiobook edition.

Not bad but not great. Some sections seemed to me to be padding but Peter Hermann's narration pulled me through those. If you like Patterson, you would probably give this a higher rating.

190.   At Bertram's Hotel by Agatha Christie {reread}
format/source = audiobook CDs/library, narrated by Rosemary Leach; 180 pages; date finished = 9 Sept.; 3
Categories: Watching the Detectives
Country: England

While Miss Marple is present through most of the book, she doesn't really contribute to the solution in the way I expected. This reread has made me reconsider my rating & I have changed it from 4* to 3. In particular, I didn't care for the ending.

Rosemary Leach does a fabulous narration.

191.   *Under the Net by Iris Murdoch
format/source = Kindle/library; 253 pages; date finished = 9 Sept.; 3
Categories: ABC Boogie (Sept. U & P); Numbered Days
Country: England & France

Not particularly humorous; the inclusion of this novel under the Comedy section of the Guardian's list made me anticipate something funnier. That said, I did enjoy it and perhaps if you are a writer, Jake might seem more comic.

I liked Murdoch's writing style & look forward to reading some of her other books such as The Sea, the Sea.

Sep 10, 2017, 11:38am Top

>116 I remember reading The Heart of the Matter for A'level English (ie school-leaving exams at 18), and enjoying it. I've always meant to get hold of a copy and reread it, you've reminded me I really must do that. I've never actually read any other of Greene's books, I ought to dig some others out too.

Sep 10, 2017, 3:53pm Top

>117 Greene has become one of my favorite authors - even when I don't particularly care for the theme of a book, his writing always amazes me.

Sep 11, 2017, 10:01am Top

I just realized that it is almost exactly 5 years ago that I first discovered the Guardian's list of 1000 novels. At that time I had read only 145 of them, which somewhat shocked me as I thought of myself as well read. Now, after working on reading books from the list for 5 years (60 months!), I have read 456 of them. While that is better, I still haven't read even half! :/

Sep 11, 2017, 2:21pm Top

You've been getting in lots of good reading!

I've noticed that I have a lot of books from the Guardian's list on my tbr shelf and considering making it a category next year. I don't imagine I'll ever finish the list or even get as far as you have done!

Sep 11, 2017, 2:59pm Top

At the rate I am going, I won't finish the list either >120! Truthfully, though, there are some books on there that I don't have any desire to read so completing the list isn't really my goal. But there are still plenty of authors on it that I do want to try that for one reason or another I haven't gotten to yet.

Sep 13, 2017, 3:38pm Top

I am going to break from my pattern of posting weekly for a review of the worst book I have read so far this year: Project Alpha. I got the audiobook of this in a promotional give-away from Penguin Random House Audio last summer; even though it was aimed at middle school aged readers, I thought I might enjoy it as I like sci fi. Boy was I wrong!

  Project Alpha by D.J. MacHale
format/source = audiobook/Random House, narrated by Robbie Daymond; 224 pages; date finished = 11 Sept.; 1★ for the audiobook, ½* for the book itself
Categories: ABC Boogie (Sept. U & P)
Country: U.S. & outer space

Let me preface my comments on this book by saying that I am a reader who has a well-developed ability to suspend disbelief. I can accept (or indeed not even notice) unlikely coincidences and improbabilities while reading if the story is exciting, though they might bother me afterwards if they are too blatant. However, MacHale stretched my disbelief to the breaking point starting with the premise of the whole story & piling on additional unbelievable things as it progressed. I don’t know if MacHale is ignorant, a poor writer or just thought that the pre-teen audience of this would be too naïve to notice the book’s many logical flaws. This is NOT science fiction because there is no science and there are several aspects which are directly contradicted by science!

Let’s start with the premise: fossil fuels are about to run out and the world is in a severe energy crisis. A pretty good premise for a science fiction story! But immediately there are some ridiculous assertions upon which the entire plot rests – a) humanity’s very existence is threatened by the approaching loss of electricity (“Earth will die”!) and b) the only way to keep having electricity is to get a power source from an unspecified location in outer space. Perhaps the author is right in assuming that 10-12 year-old readers will have difficulty in conceiving of a world without electricity (despite the thousands of years of history in which man did live just like that!) but it is a bad premise to state that not just man but the planet itself would somehow be threatened by it. In addition, even kids should be aware that there is already existing technology for creating electricity by solar, wind, hydroelectric and nuclear power. But we are expected to believe that the U.S. government would spend millions or billions of dollars developing a space craft to retrieve ‘the Source’ from deep outer space rather than develop those technologies. I suppose that is almost more believable than the idea that these kids & everyone else have to go to bed at 9 pm because the power cuts leave them in the dark at that time (hello, ever heard of candles??).

But that’s not the most ridiculous part! The method of space travel that has been developed to get ‘the Source’ requires that the astronauts be under the age of 14. For some unspecified reason, anyone even one day older than 14 faces medical problems which could be fatal! And to further insult the reader’s intelligence, the author doesn’t even try to make this absurdity conform in the slightest way to biological knowledge. I could possibly conceive by a wild stretch of imagination that there might be some sort of interaction of the space travel with the astronaut’s biology that would be different after puberty. After all, there are lots of changes in our bodies during puberty. But MacHale doesn’t use puberty as the danger point but the specific age of 14. I guess that is because people reach puberty at different times and he wanted a ‘deadline’ which wasn’t vague. Plus, having a specific age meant he could have 2 male & 2 female characters without the worry about the fact that girls generally reach puberty first.

The silliness continues: the protagonist, Dash Conroy, is 12 and a half making him 6 months too old to qualify for this mission (since he would turn 14 while aboard the space ship). But not to worry – the commander has a secret new drug that Dash could take that would stop his cells from aging while on the mission! Does he want to talk it over with his mother? No? Okay then, no need for the U.S. government to get parental consent before giving a child an unknown, untested drug with potentially lethal consequences!

Then once they are in outer space, using an unexplained Gamma Drive which presumably takes the ship faster than light speed (since it only takes them 15 days to reach a planet “in deep space” past hundreds of stars), the book dives from improbable to actual impossibility. Even though they are light years away, they have instantaneous radio communications with Earth, not even a 10 second delay. Radiowaves, as with all electromagnetic radiation, travels the speed of light – communication between the ship and Earth would have significant delays if it was even possible at all.

Once we finally are told more about ‘the Source’, my ability to listen without rolling my eyes deserted me. The ingredients needed (I refuse to call them elements as that word already has a specific scientific meaning which does NOT apply to these ingredients) to create this “energy source which can stop the world from going dark” include the tooth of a dinosaur-like creature on this alien planet. Now how in the world did the Source’s inventor discover that without ever having such a tooth to analyze?? What aspect of this tooth is required & how did he know that the tooth had it? And worse, this theory of how the Source is going to work is assumed by all, including whoever funded this harebrained mission, to be so certain that there is no possibility that it might fail! A complete lack of understanding of how inventions, particularly scientific & technological inventions, are created. And just in case there wasn’t enough suspense in the story (what with Dash risking death if he is late taking or misses one of his daily doses of his miracle drug), we now find that the voyagers will have to construct the Source in order to have enough power to return to Earth. Not to worry, though, as the inventor himself is secretly aboard even though he is over 14!

Ranting over.

I did enjoy the competition between the 8 12-year-olds to see which 4 would be selected to travel in space.

Sep 13, 2017, 4:46pm Top

>122 On the plus side, sometimes awful books lead to great reviews! But I'm sorry the book was such a dud.

Sep 13, 2017, 6:30pm Top

>122 Wow. That sounds bananas, and not in a good way.

Sep 13, 2017, 8:03pm Top

>122 Luckily it was a give-away - or maybe that's why it was a give-away!

The worst part of a bad book is that you can't rant unless you have finished it.

Edited: Sep 14, 2017, 11:20am Top

>123 lol! I did have fun putting down all my ranting.

>124 It has pretty good reviews so all those things that bothered me must not be as obvious as I thought :/

>125 Hmmm - I hadn't thought of that being why it was a freebie but it does make some sense. And you're right about the compulsion to finish it - I thought about quitting midway through but kept thinking maybe some explanation of the things that bothered me might appear. That didn't happen but this is the first book of a series - not that I intend to continue! - so maybe some aspects are made clearer or more reasonable in a following book.

Sep 18, 2017, 2:42pm Top

Books finished 10-16 September:

192.   Cinnamon Skin by John D. MacDonald
format/source = paperback/MOB; 275 pages; date finished = 10 Sept.;
Categories: Watching the Detectives
Country: U.S.A.

A solid entry in the McGee series. This one could be read as a stand-alone but benefits if the reader is familiar with the previous book, Free Fall in Crimson. Only one more McGee book left unread on my shelves!!

193. Project Alpha -- see post 122 for my review of this 1* audiobook.

194.   September Fair by Jess Lourey
format/source = Kindle/Amazon; 270 pages; date finished = 12 Sept.;
Categories: Watching the Detectives; These Things Take Time
Country: U.S.A. {MN}

This cozy mystery, set in Minnesota, avoids most of the pitfalls (or more accurately my pet peeves) of this subgenre by which so many of the recent examples I have read are plagued. The writing could be better but I wouldn't mind reading another in the series.

195.   A Pelican at Blandings by P.G. Wodehouse {reread}
format/source = audiobook/Hoopla, narrated by Nigel Lambert; 224 pages; date finished = 14 Sept.; 4
Categories: ABC Boogie (Sept. U & P)
Country: England

Nigel Lambert does a very good job narrating this 11th entry in the Blandings Castle series. Plus it has a lot of Galahad, which means plenty of classic Wodehouse craziness! :-)

196.   The Terrorists by Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo (translated by Joan Tate)
format/source = Kindle/library; 305 pages; date finished = 14 Sept.; 4
Categories: Watching the Detectives; All Around the World; Join the Club (Sept. RandomCAT)
Country: Sweden

Very good final entry in the Martin Beck series. I wish there were a few more of these to read!

197.     *Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry
format/source = audiobook/library, narrated by John Lee, & ebook/Hoopla; 375 pages; date finished = 16 Sept.; 3
Categories: ABC Boogie (Sept. U & P); Numbered Days
Country: Mexico

3½* for the book itself

I really liked John Lee's narration but found this book was very difficult for me to process in audio form. The text is often stream-of-conscience style and jumps about & rambles. And such long sentences! I am glad that I got the ebook as well as the audiobook.

"The flare lit up the whole cantina with a burst of brilliance in which the figures at the bar -- that he now saw included besides the little children and the peasants who were quince or cactus farmer in loose white clothes and wide hats, several women in mourning from the cemeteries and dark-faced men in dark suits with open collars and their ties undone -- appeared, for an instant, frozen, a mural: they had all stopped talking and were gazing around at him curiously, all save the barman who seemed momentarily about to object, then lost interest as M. Laruelle set the writhing mass in an ashtray, where beautifully conforming it folded upon itself, a burning castle, collapsed, subsided to a ticking hive through which tiny red sparks like worms crawled and flew, while above a few grey wisps of ashes floated in the thin smoke, a dead husk now, faintly crepitant..."

Plus there's a fair amount of Spanish since it is set in Mexico.

I can see why this is considered a masterpiece and I may end up changing my rating. However my initial reaction was that it was evocative but of a distasteful experience. Plus, I wished that there was a short section at the end tying back to the beginning with Jacques Laruelle.

Sep 18, 2017, 4:57pm Top

>197 I just picked up a copy of Under the Volcano but the very mention of "stream of conscience" makes me want to keep this one toward the bottom of the pile!

Sep 19, 2017, 3:28pm Top

>128 Well, I didn't think it was as hard as Ulysses but it wasn't as interesting to me as The Sound and the Fury which are the 2 main books I think of when I think 'stream-of-conscience' writing. I tend to have a love-hate relationship to this style of writing; I love Faulkner but hated Joyce. If you hate both of those, then I'd say ditch the book & watch the Albert Finney movie instead!

Sep 19, 2017, 4:31pm Top

>129 I haven't read either of the above mentioned books, although both are on my "someday" list. I did just finish struggling through Virginia Woolf's Jacob's Room in which she experimented with the 'stream of conscience' idea. It was certainly readable although a little confusing. I'll pick up Under the Volcano at some point and see how I do.

Edited: Sep 27, 2017, 11:01am Top

A bit late with my update this week but here it is.

Books finished 17-23 September:

198.   *Before Lunch by Angela Thirkell {reread}
format/source = audiobook/Hoopla, narrated by Wanda McCaddon; 322 pages; date finished = 17 Sept.;
Categories: none
Country: England

Publisher's blurb says: "Published in 1939, Before Lunch is a portrait of the charming English community of "Barsetshire." When the erection of a tea shop and garage threatens to spoil the bovine pastures of Pooker's Piece, Lady Bond and Lord Pomfret unite with the Middletons and the Stoners to stop it. In the meantime, the young and the not-so-young all fall in love—though not always with the right person—and sort out their affairs in a hilarious welter of cross-purposes. For those who have read and reread Austen, Trollope, and Dickens, discovering a novel by Angela Thirkell is akin to finding gold in an abandoned mine. Long out of print, her novels are currently enjoying a minor renaissance."

My 2012 review of my mother's hardcopy was "This entry in Thirkell's Barsetshire series is more bittersweet than the previous ones..."

This reread was very enjoyable, and Wanda McCaddon did an excellent narration. I think I found more humor in it this time (maybe because I am just dipping in to the series rather than reading them in order as I did the first time).

199.   Poison Pen by Sheila Lowe
format/source = Kindle/Amazon; 306 pages; date finished = 17 Sept.; 3
Categories: These Things Take Time, Watching the Detectives; ABC Boogie (Sept. U & P)
Country: U.S.A. {CA}

Publisher's blurb says: "Lindsey Alexander, a top Hollywood publicist, has apparently committed suicide. Her friend and business manager isn’t so sure, and he retains Claudia to examine the purported suicide note. Claudia was well acquainted with Lindsey, having experienced her ruthless self-promotion first-hand. As the story progresses, Claudia discovers Lindsey’s secret side business, and the questions begin to mount, along with possible suspects who include a U.S. senator and a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon. Claudia meets up with Detective Joel Jovanic, whose skepticism about handwriting analysis immediately puts them at odds."

My thoughts: I liked the forensic handwriting aspect of this cozy. A bit too much about the love life of the protagonist but that seems to be the norm these days... I did manage to figure out who the culprit was about three-quarters of the way through but the true motive escaped me completely.

200.   *The Stranger by Albert Camus (ℕ) translated by Matthew Ward
format/source = hardcover/library; 123 pages; date finished = 9/18; 5
Categories: Numbered Days, All Around the World
Country: Algeria

Publisher's blurb says: "Since it was first published in English, in 1946, Albert Camus's extraordinary first novel, The Stranger (L'Etranger), has had a profound impact on millions of American readers. Through this story of an ordinary man who unwittingly gets drawn into a senseless murder on a sun-drenched Algerian beach, Camus was exploring what he termed "the nakedness of man faced with the absurd." "

My thoughts: Wow, I can see why this novel is so highly regarded! While Camus conveys some serious ideas about existentialism, he & his characters never pontificate. Camus is a master of "show, don't tell" in this short novel.

Translation by Matthew Ward was very easy to read - I have no way of knowing if the claim to being 'truer to the original' than the previous English translation is correct.

201.   *The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
format/source = paperback/MOB; 320 pages; date finished = 19 Sept.; 2
Categories: Numbered Days, Join the Club: September AwardCAT (Man Booker Prize winner 1992)
Country: Italy

Publisher's blurb says: "With unsettling beauty and intelligence, Michael Ondaatje's Booker Prize-winning novel traces the intersection of four damaged lives in an abandoned Italian villa at the end of World War II. The nurse Hana, exhausted by death, obsessively tends to her last surviving patient. Caravaggio, the thief, tries to reimagine who he is, now that his hands are hopelessly maimed. The Indian sapper Kip searches for hidden bombs in a landscape where nothing is safe but himself. And at the center of his labyrinth lies the English patient, nameless and hideously burned, a man who is both a riddle and a provocation to his companions—and whose memories of suffering, rescue, and betrayal illuminate this book like flashes of heat lightning."

My thoughts: I found this too slow-moving for my tastes -- it bored me so much that by the time anything interesting started to happen, I no longer cared.

This book had been on my shelf so long that I thought I had already read it, so I started it the other day thinking it would be a reread. By the time I reached Chap. 2 I realized that I never read this, just watched the movie.

202.   The Galton Case by Ross MacDonald
format/source = paperback/MOB; 186 pages; date finished = 19 Sept.; 4
Categories: Watching the Detectives
Country: U.S.A. {CA}

Publisher's blurb says: "Anthony Galton disappeared almost twenty years ago. Now his aging and very rich mother has hired Lew Archer to bring him back. What turns up is a headless skeleton, a suspicious heir, and a con game whose stakes are so high that someone is still willing to kill for them."

My thoughts: A very good entry in the Lew Archer PI series with an extra twist at the end. This one would be a good one to choose if interested in sampling Ross MacDonald's work.

203.   Picture of Guilt by Michael Innes
format/source = paperback/MOB; 189 pages; date finished = 21 Sept.; 4
Categories: Watching the Detectives, ABC Boogie (Sept. U & P)
Country: England

Publisher's blurb says: "Over a period of twenty years, a series of highly elaborate art hoaxes have been perpetrated at carefully time intervals, and in each case, the victim has a very good reason for keeping quiet. Inspector Appleby's interest is kindled by an amusing dinner-party anecdote - when he enlists the help of his wife and son, the ensuing investigation is truly a family affair. The scenes shift swiftly between glorious stately homes and the not-so-glorious art gallery of the irrepressibly dubious Hildebert Braunkopf."

My thoughts: Nice entry in the series, with Appleby's son & wife taking a significant part (hence the original title, A Family Affair). This mystery is not a murder mystery but one about art theft (a favorite topic of Innes') in which the thefts are intertwined with practical jokes.

204.   The Physicists by Friedrich Durrenmatt translated by James Kirkup
format/source = paperback/library; 94 pages; date finished = 22 Sept.; 4
Categories: All Around the World; In A Stage Whisper; ABC Boogie (Sept. U & P)
Country: Switzerland

Publisher's blurb says: "The Physicists is a provocative and darkly comic satire about life in modern times, by one of Europe's foremost dramatists and author of the internationally celebrated The Visit.

The setting: a madhouse. The principal characters: three male patients, all nuclear physicists. One, Herbert George Bentler, believes he is Newton; a second, Ernst Ernesti, thinks he is Einstein. Both are fairly recent arrivals at the asylum. The third, Johann Wilhelm Mobius, who has visions in which King Solomon appears to him, has been there for fifteen years. In charge: the efficient, aristocratic, hunchbacked woman-psychiatrist, Fraulein Dr. Mathilde von Zahud. To this, add the Aristotelian unities of place, time and action ("The action takes place among madmen and therefore requires a classical framework," the author notes), and one has the basic ingredients of one of Swiss dramatist Friedrich Durrenmatt's most ambitious plays."

My thoughts: Thought-provoking play and quite funny too!

Edited: Sep 29, 2017, 12:24pm Top

I have completed my goal of 200 books read in 2017! Everything from here out is bonus :-)

Sep 29, 2017, 12:50pm Top

>132, Holy cow--CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

Sep 29, 2017, 12:55pm Top


Sep 29, 2017, 1:00pm Top

Wow, 200 books! Congratulations!

Sep 29, 2017, 2:58pm Top

Thanks all! Discovering audiobooks several years ago has dramatically increased the number of books I have been able to read :-)

Sep 29, 2017, 3:02pm Top

Wow, that is super impressive, even with the addition of audiobooks into the mix! Well done!

Sep 29, 2017, 3:09pm Top

>137 Aw shucks! Thanks Jackie!

Sep 29, 2017, 6:58pm Top

Wow, that's amazing! Congratulations!!

Sep 29, 2017, 7:56pm Top

>122 leslie.98: Wow, I am a big fan of sci-fi but I'll make sure I stay away from this one. I found your review/rant very entertaining, though. :)

>132 leslie.98: Congratulations! Very impressive!

Sep 29, 2017, 9:05pm Top

Thanks >139 & >140!

And I am glad that others enjoy my ranting in >122 leslie.98: - it certainly was satisfying for me.

Edited: Oct 3, 2017, 4:11pm Top

Books finished 24 - 30 September:

205.   *The Unbearable Bassington by Saki
format/source = Kindle/Project Gutenberg; 153 pages; date finished = 24 Sept.;
Categories: These Things Take Time, Numbered Days; ABC Boogie (Sept. U & P)
Country: England (& a bit in Africa)

Publisher's blurb says: "Alone among Saki's works in being almost entirely located in London, this novel focuses on the Mayfair scene of bridge afternoons, dinner parties & concerts. At the center of a group of brilliantly depicted bores & savage wits is Comus Bassington, "the beautiful wayward laughing boy." "

My thoughts: While I could see that this novel was a social satire, I failed to find much humor in it. Saki's short stories are much more amusing! Comus & his mother are in the end more tragic figures than figures of fun. Still worth reading for the social commentary though!

206.     *The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss unknown translator
format/source = audiobook/BPL, narrated by Frederick Davidson, & Kindle/Amazon; 280 pages; date finished = 24 Sept.; 4
Categories: These Things Take Time; Numbered Days; All Around the World
Country: unnamable Indonesian island (I assigned this to the Philippines)

Publisher's blurb says: "Swept off course by a raging storm, a Swiss pastor, his wife, and their four young sons are shipwrecked on a strange, uncharted tropical island. This timeless, classic story of survival and adventure has fired the imaginations of readers since it first appeared in 1812, and it reads just as fresh as if it were written today. The natural wonders of the lush, exotic land make for an unforgettable setting, and the family itself will find a place in the listeners' heart.

As they struggle to survive in the wilderness, the Robinsons discover their own amazing ingenuity and courage, each of the sons utilizing his own unique nature as their adventures lead to difficult challenges and fantastic discoveries. Although they have lost almost everything in the shipwreck, they are so resourceful that, when rescue finally comes, they decline to leave the happy life they have constructed for themselves in their exotic haven."

My thoughts: I often follow the course of audiobooks with my Kindle edition if I have one. In this case, I discovered at about a third of the way through the book that the two were no longer tracking. This wasn't just a case of different translations but they became two completely different plots! The audiobook, for example, had a chapter or two about a beached whale while in the Kindle text a British merchant ship was blown off course during a storm & met the Robinsons, carrying the father's notebook & family greetings back to Europe.

Blackstone Audio, who produced the audiobook edition I listened to says: "Inspired by Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, this classic story of invention and adventure has fired the imaginations of readers since it first appeared in 1812. Freely translated over the years, with major sections excised and new subplots added, the novel is published here in its original English translation." (my underlining)

Certainly, the plot in the audiobook conforms to that given in synopsis on Wikipedia. However, I felt that the Kindle edition's language and plot both seemed more in keeping with the style & tone of the early nineteenth century. In any case, I enjoyed them both even though I hadn't anticipated reading 2 books for this one entry!

207.   *Eric by Terry Pratchett (DiscWorld publication order #9)
format/source = Kindle/library; 148 pages; date finished = 25 Sept.; 4
Categories: Numbered Days; ABC Boogie (Sept. U & P)
Country: N/A

Publisher's blurb says: "Discworld's only demonology hacker, Eric, is about to make life very difficult for the rest of Ankh-Morpork's denizens. This would-be Faust is very bad...at his work, that is. All he wants is to fulfill three little wishes:to live forever, to be master of the universe, and to have a stylin' hot babe.

But Eric isn't even good at getting his own way. Instead of a powerful demon, he conjures, well, Rincewind, a wizard whose incompetence is matched only by Eric's. And as if that wasn't bad enough, that lovable travel accessory the Luggage has arrived, too. Accompanied by his best friends, there's only one thing Eric wishes now -- that he'd never been born!"

My thoughts: I enjoy Pratchett's sense of humor & this entry in the Discworld series was not an exception. I was a bit sad that the Luggage didn't play more of a role, or to be more precise, that the Luggage had travelled with Rincewind for more of the journey rather than following after him. I particularly liked Rincewind's finding his ancestor in the section parodying the Trojan War!

208.   The Red Thumb Mark by R. Austen Freeman
format/source = Kindle/Amazon; 233 pages; date finished = 26 Sept.; 3
Categories: Watching the Detectives
Country: England

The publisher's blurb says: "The clever and thrilling debut of literature’s first forensic detective.

In all of London, there are few who know more about science than Dr. John Thorndyke, and fewer still who know more about crime. A “medical jurispractitioner” equally at home in the lab or the courtroom, he has made his name confronting the deadliest criminals in England with irrefutable proof of their guilt. In the case of the red thumb mark, however, Thorndyke must set his singular mind to saving an innocent man.

A cache of diamonds has been stolen out of a shipping firm’s safe, and the only evidence is a perfect thumbprint left in a pool of blood. The print is a match to Reuben Hornby, nephew of the firm’s owner. Hornby insists that he had nothing to do with the theft, however, and asks Dr. Thorndyke to find the real culprit. With all the evidence pointing in one direction, only he is brilliant enough to look the other way.

This ebook features a new introduction by Otto Penzler and has been professionally proofread to ensure accuracy and readability on all devices."

My thoughts: While the 'who' in this case seemed quite obvious to me, the 'how' baffled me. I got the strong feeling that Freeman's mysteries will mostly focus on the method of the crime (which is okay with me!).

209.     Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott
format/source = audiobook/LibriVox, narrated by Marie Therese, & Kindle/Amazon; 336 pages; date finished = 27 Sept.;
Categories: Join the Club: September CATWomen (Children's literature)
Country: U.S.A.

Publisher's blurb says: "Opening several years after the close of Eight Cousins, we find Rose coming home fresh from a voyage overseas, to find much changed about her. Now of a marriageable aged and heiress to a fortune, Rose finds joy,sorrow, and finally love await her -- as the Rose is finally ready to bloom into a good, strong, sweet and true woman." http://librivox.org/rose-in-bloom-by-louisa-may-alcott/

My thoughts: 3.5* for this audiobook edition but 4* for the book itself. Marie Therese did an adequate narration but mispronounced certain words which bothered me a little (for example, "vague" with a short a to sound like bag instead of a long a).

I did enjoy the story despite the moralizing streaks.

210.   *The Swimming-Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst
format/source = Kindle/library; 336 pages; date finished = 29 Sept.;
Categories: Numbered Days
Country: England (and a bit in Africa)

Publisher's blurb says: "Young, gay, William Beckwith spends his time, and his trust fund, idly cruising London for erotic encounters. When he saves the life of an elderly man in a public convenience an unlikely job opportunity presents itself - the man, Lord Nantwich, is seeking a biographer. Will agrees to take a look at Nantwich’s diaries. But in the story he unravels, a tragedy of twentieth-century gay repression, lurk bitter truths about Will’s own privileged existence."

My thoughts: I read this in a buddy read with a couple of friends. I found it vividly brought to my mind the 1980s (and London's gay scene must have been quite similar to Los Angeles where I was at that time). The graphic sex scenes were not offensive to me but there were lots and lots of them. I think I can honestly say that all of us doing the buddy read felt that these scenes were our least favorite parts of the book.

Will comes across as emotionally immature or closed off. As the book progresses, I began to feel that Will's best friend James & Charles Nantwich were really the characters of interest. The reader slowly discovers more about Will's family & perhaps it explains his inability to form real relationships.

The best parts for me were the diaries & interviews Will does looking into Nantwich's past. It brought home to me how the illegality of homosexuality encouraged the culture of anonymous sex.

211.   Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
format/source = audiobook/library, narrated by Sophie Thompson; 206 pages; date finished = 29 Sept.; 4
Categories: Join the Club: September CATWomen (Children's literature); ABC Boogie (Sept. U & P)
Country: England

Publisher's blurb says: "Mary Poppins is like no other nanny the four Banks children have ever seen. She whirls into their home and "spit-spot," she works her inimitable brand of magic to make even the bland seem extraordinary. An endless source of fascinating adventure, she slides up the banister, produces an array of tricks from her seemingly empty carpetbag, and ensures the Banks' lives will never be the same."

My thoughts: Having grown up with the Disney film version of this children's classic, I was surprised by how different the book was from the movie. Mary Poppins is less nice but more magical & the events of the movie are covered in the first few chapters so there were lots of new adventures for me to enjoy. Plus, there are two more children in the Banks family - twins under 1 year old.

212.   The Beggar King by Oliver Pötzsch (translated by Lee Chadeayne)
format/source = Kindle/Amazon Prime Lending Library; 514 pages; date finished = 29 Sept.; 3
Categories: Watching the Detectives, All Around the World; ABC Boogie (Sept. U & P)
Country: Germany

Publisher's blurb says: "1662: Jakob Kuisl, the hangman of a village in the Alps, receives a letter from his sister calling him to the imperial city of Regensburg, where a gruesome sight awaits him: her throat has been slit. When the city constable discovers Kuisl alongside the corpse she locks him in a dungeon, where Kuisl will experience first-hand the torture he’s administered himself for years. As nightmares assail him, Kuisl can only hope to prevail on the Regensburg executioner to show mercy to a fellow hangman. Kuisl’s steely daughter, Magdalena, and her young doctor paramour, Simon, rush to Regensburg and try to save Jakob, enlisting an underground network of beggars, a beer-brewing monk, and an Italian playboy for help. Navigating the labyrinthine city, they learn there is much more behind the false accusation than a personal vendetta: there is a plan that will endanger the entire German Empire.
Chock-full of fascinating historical detail, The Beggar King brings to vibrant life another tremendous tale of an unlikely hangman and his tough-as-nails daughter, confirming Pötzsch’s mettle as a storyteller at the height of his powers."

My thoughts: As with the previous books in this series, I felt that this was overly long but I did like the fact that the hangman's daughter played a bigger role in this entry. The historical fiction is more interesting than the murder mystery (which in my eyes is a minus).

Oct 6, 2017, 12:40am Top

>132 leslie.98: Congratulations! Well done!

Oct 6, 2017, 6:31pm Top

Thanks >143!

Edited: Oct 22, 2017, 6:04pm Top

Books finished 1 - 7 October:

213.     The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett (ℕ) translated by Samuel Beckett
format/source = audiobook/library, narrated by Sean Barrett, & Kindle/??; 186 pages; date finished = 10/3; 4
Categories: All Around the World; ABC Boogie (Sept. U & P); Join the Club: October AwardCAT (1969 Nobel Prize winner author); These Things Take Time
Country: unspecified

Publisher's blurb says: "Few works of contemporary literature are so universally acclaimed as central to our understanding of the human experience as Nobel Prize winner Samuel Beckett's famous trilogy. Molloy, the first of these masterpieces, appeared in French in 1951. It was followed seven months later by Malone Dies and two years later by The Unnamable. All three have been rendered into English by the author.

The Unnamable is the third novel in Becket’s trilogy, three remarkable prose works in which men of increasingly debilitating physical circumstances act, ponder, consider and rage against impermanence and the human condition. The Unnamable is without doubt the most uncompromising text and it is read here in startling fashion by Sean Barrett."

My thoughts: Sean Barrett's narration made it possible for me to read this - and I did read it as well as listen to it (doing an 'immersion' read). I found the previous books in this trilogy (Molloy and Malone Dies) challenging but they were not a patch on this one! Yet, despite the fact that it was very difficult to understand, Beckett still makes it somehow compelling.

Because I had such difficulties understanding this novel (?!), I did a little digging on the internet to see if I could find anything to help me. I knew that Beckett was considered an exponent of absurdism (the idea that there is no meaning in the world beyond what meaning we give it) so I started with that:

"Absurdist fiction is a genre of fictional narrative (traditionally, literary fiction), most often in the form of a novel, play, poem, or film, that focuses on the experiences of characters in situations where they cannot find any inherent purpose in life, most often represented by ultimately meaningless actions and events that call into question the certainty of existential concepts such as truth or value." (from Wikipedia)

And that is a good description of the first 2 novels of the trilogy but didn't seem to really fit this one. The term that occurred to me to best describe The Unnamable was surreal:

"Surrealism, n. Pure psychic automatism, by which one proposes to express, either verbally, in writing, or by any other manner, the real functioning of thought. Dictation of thought in the absence of all control exercised by reason, outside of all aesthetic and moral preoccupation."

That well describes the kind of writing one encounters in this book! Beckett has written about identity before but in this book, he seemed to me to be taking Descartes' idea "I think therefore I am" to its extremity. The main character is asking "who is thinking?" When you hear that voice in your head, who is it? And if the one speaking is "you" then who is listening to it? Is that you too?
A illustrative passage:
"How many of us are there altogether, finally? And who is holding forth at the moment? And to whom? And about what?"

and to hark back to Descartes' reductionism in trying to find a basis for reality, Beckett rejects any use of externals to help identify self:
"Ah yes, all lies, God and man, nature and the light of day, the heart's outpourings and the means of understanding: all invented, basely, by me alone (with the help of no one, since there is no one), to put off the hour when I must speak of me. There will be no more about them."

Add to this the fact that language, words, were something that was learned, then who were you before there were any words? He calls the version of himself that existed before words (in the womb & possibly after) "Worm" and other older versions "Mahood" and sometimes "Molloy" & "Malone" (!) and seems to be trying to get back to Worm's state of wordlessness. But questions arise about the nature of silence & if it is possible to still his current version's voice...

"Your thoughts wander, your words too - far apart. (No, that's an exaggeration: apart.) Between them would be the place to be: where you suffer, rejoice (at being bereft of speech, bereft of thought), and feel nothing, hear nothing, know nothing, say nothing, are nothing. That would be a blessed place to be: where you are."

This whole aspect of trying to achieve silence reminded me of yoga meditation. I wonder if Beckett was familiar with that?

214.   The Dry by Jane Harper
format/source = hardcover/library; 326 pages; date finished = 4 Oct.;
Categories: Watching the Detectives
Country: Australia


It hasn't rained in Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the farming community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are discovered shot to death on their property. Everyone assumes Luke Hadler committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six-year-old son.

Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk returns to his hometown for the funerals and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Because Falk and his childhood friend Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke's death threatens to unearth ..."

My thoughts: I liked the setting of this contemporary Australian mystery. I am less sure that I liked the flash back sections; they were important to the overall plot but didn't quite fit the third person narrative style of the contemporary sections. If they had just been Aaron's memories of those times, it would have been OK but we got slices of perspective from other people which Aaron could not have known about (or at least not in full).

215.   An Awkward Lie by Michael Innes
format/source = paperback/MOB; 165 pages; date finished = 5 Oct.; 3
Categories: Watching the Detectives; ABC Boogie (Oct. A & V)
Country: England

Publisher's blurb says: "Sir John Appleby's son, Bobby, assumes his father's detective role in this baffling crime. When Bobby finds a dead man, in a bunker on a golf course, he notices something rather strange - the first finger of the man's right hand is missing. A young girl approaches the scene and offers to watch the body while Bobby goes for help, but when he returns with the police in tow, the body and the girl are missing."

My thoughts: This entry in the Appleby series again features Sir John's youngest son Bobby; in fact, Sir John is very much in the background. At this time, Bobby has graduated from Oxford & become a novelist. While visiting his family home, he discovers a dead body during an early morning round of golf - and a beautiful girl too.

I don't want to say more as it is impossible to go on without spoilers. Bobby is shaping up into a good replacement protagonist for his father!

That's all for this week!

Edited: Oct 22, 2017, 6:03pm Top

Books finished 8 - 14 October:

216.     They Do It With Mirrors by Agatha Christie {reread}
format/source = audiobook CDs/library, narrated by Joan Hickson, & paperback/MOB; 207 pages; date finished = 10/9; 3
Categories: Watching the Detectives; ABC Boogie (Oct. A & V)
Country: England

Publisher's blurb says: "Responding to a friend's urgent invitation, Miss Jane Marple arrives at her sprawling estate. To Marple's surprise, it's been turned into a home for delinquent boys-and a handful of greedy relatives. In this group, murder comes as no surprise.

So few authors are producing the pure puzzle-novel, and no one does it better than Christie. (from The New York Times)"

My thoughts: While I enjoyed this entry in the Miss Marple series, it was just "good" not great as some of Christie's are. Given Miss Marple's oft pronounced maxim of never believe anything anyone says without confirmation, she seemed to take Lewis Serrocold's statements at face value for far too long.

Joan Hickson's narration was unfortunately spoiled for me by the poor shape of the CDs I borrowed from the library. Perhaps if that hadn't been the case, I might have gone up to 4 stars for this audiobook edition.

217.   The Lonely Silver Rain by John D. MacDonald
format/source = paperback/MOB; 277 pages; date finished = 10/9;
Categories: Watching the Detectives
Country: U.S.A. {FL}

Publisher's blurb says: "Searching for a wealthy friend's yacht, Travis McGee puts himself square in the center of the international cocaine trade, and finds himself the target of some of the most ruthless villains he's ever met. Contemplating his own mortality for the first time, Travis McGee discovers amid all the danger the astonishing surprise behind the cat-shaped pipe cleaners someone is leaving at his door. This is vintage McGee in a novel that confirms John D. MacDonald's reputation as one of the greatest storytellers of all time."

My thoughts: A fitting way to end the series.

218.    *The Guermantes Way by Marcel Proust translated by C.K. Scott-Moncrieff
format/source = audiobook/Hoopla, narrated by Neville Jason, & Kindle/Feedbooks; 602 pages; date finished = 10/10;
Categories: All Around the World; Numbered Days; Join the Club: September RandomCAT; Memories Can't Wait
Country: France

Publisher's blurb says: "Remembrance of Things Past is one of the monuments of 20th century literature. The Guermantes Way is the third of seven volumes. The narrator penetrates the inner sanctum of Paris high society and falls in love with the fascinating Duchesse de Guermantes. Marcel Proust describes vividly the struggles for political, social and sexual supremacy played out beneath a veneer of elegant manners. He also finds himself pursued by the predatory Baron de Charlus."

My thoughts: Proust is too long-winded for my tastes hence my lowish rating. When I finish reading/listening a bit, I would paraphrase what had happened during that section & the plot, such as it is, was interesting to me but it was like panning for gold to get to it. Neville Jason did a fine job with the narration - it isn't his fault that the book kept sending me to sleep!

219.    *The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle by Tobias Smollett
format/source = Kindle/Amazon & audiobook/LibriVox, narrated mostly by Martin Gleeson; 805 pages; date finished = 10/12;
Categories: Numbered Days; ABC Boogie (Oct. A & V); These Things Take Time
Country: England

Publisher's blurb says: "The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle is a picaresque novel by the Scottish author Tobias Smollett (1721 – 1771), first published in 1751, and revised and reissued in 1758. It is the story of the fortunes and misfortunes of the egotistical dandy Peregrine Pickle, and it provides a comic and caustic portrayal of 18th century European society. (Summary by Wikipedia)"

My thoughts: I found the second half of this novel dragged a bit (due to the inclusion of some fairly lengthy side stories not involving our hero) but overall this satire was a fun look at society & life in the later part of the eighteenth century. Peregrine at times was cruel in some of the jokes he played (especially on the Commodore) and arrogant in his dealings but underneath he has a good heart & he does eventually learn his lesson.

For the first Volume, I listened to the LibriVox recording. Martin Gleeson, who narrated most of the chapters (though not all), did a very good job.

220.     Angelica's Smile by Andrea Camilleri translated by Stephen Sartarelli
format/source = audiobook/Hoopla, narrated by Grover Gardner, & Kindle/my dad's Kindle; 290 pages; date finished = 10/13;
Categories: All Around the World; Watching the Detectives; ABC Boogie (Oct. A & V)
Country: Italy

Publisher's blurb says: "A rash of burglaries has got Inspector Salvo Montalbano stumped. The criminals are so brazen that their leader, the anonymous Mr. Z, starts sending the Sicilian inspector menacing letters. Among those burgled is the young and beautiful Angelica Cosulich, who reminds the inspector of the love-interest in Ludovico Ariosto’s chivalric romance, Orlando Furioso. Besotted by Angelica’s charms, Montalbano imagines himself back in the medieval world of jousts and battles. But when one of the burglars turns up dead, Montalbano must snap out of his fantasy and unmask his challenger. "

My thoughts: I listened to the Grover Gardner audiobook, while periodically glancing at the Kindle edition's notes. Gardner is a marvellous narrator so I would give the audiobook edition a boost to 4*.

This entry in the series had a bit less about Montalbano's food (which was a shame as I love that part). He is struggling with aging & as he is about my age I can sympathize with that. However, I thought that the mystery part was not one of Camilleri's better efforts. Not bad but not as engrossing or puzzling as in some of the previous books.

221.  *The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain {reread}
format/source = audiobook/SYNC, narrated by Robin Field; 319 pages; date finished = 10/14; 4
Categories: ABC Boogie (Oct. A & V)
Country: U.S.A. {MO}

Publisher's blurb says: "Mark Twain’s brilliant 19th-century novel has long been recognized as one of the finest examples of American literature. It brings back the irrepressible and free-spirited Huck, first introduced in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and puts him center stage. Rich in authentic dialect, folksy humor, and sharp social commentary, Twain’s classic tale follows Huck and the runaway slave Jim on an exciting journey down the Mississippi."

My thoughts: While I can understand why this novel is considered to be more important than its predecessor, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, as a story I have always preferred Tom Sawyer. I reread Tom Sawyer via audiobook last fall & thought it was time to revisit this one to see if I felt differently about it now, especially as I owned an audiobook edition of it that I hadn't listened to yet!

Well, it seems my tastes remain the same. I can appreciate this novel & its social satire but I found that my favorite parts were the ones that Tom was in! Tom's imagination & desire for adventures are so much fun that it makes me understand why Huck would go along with his incredibly silly schemes.

Robin Field did an excellent narration in this audiobook edition.

Oct 18, 2017, 5:38pm Top

Some fun bookish cartoons:


I especially found the stickers funny!

Oct 18, 2017, 7:38pm Top

>147 I love Tom Gauld's cartoons!

Oct 19, 2017, 10:31am Top

>147 Haha, those stickers are the best!

Oct 19, 2017, 8:40pm Top

>148 I don't think I have run across his cartoons before. I will have to keep my eyes open for more!

>149 Great, aren't they? I tend to fall for the "By the author of another much better, more famous novel" type stickers myself...

Edited: Oct 22, 2017, 6:03pm Top

Books finished 15 - 21 October:

222.   The Instant Enemy by Ross MacDonald
format/source = paperback/MOB; 201 pages; date finished = 10/15; 3
Categories: Watching the Detectives
Country: U.S.A. {CA}

Publisher's blurb says: "Generations of murder, greed and deception come home to roost in time for the most shocking conclusion ever in a Lew Archer novel.At first glance, it's an open-and-shut missing persons case: a headstrong daughter has run off to be with her hothead juvenile delinquent boyfriend. That is until this bush-league Bonnie & Clyde kidnap Stephen Hackett, a local millionaire industrialist. Now, Archer is offered a cool 100 Gs for his safe return by his coquettish heiress mother who has her own mysterious ties to this disturbed duo. But the deeper Archer digs, the more he realizes that nothing is as it seems and everything is questionable."

My thoughts: I didn't care for this one as much as some of the other Archer books, maybe because the people Archer is working for were all so unpleasant.

223.   A Very Private Grave by Donna Fletcher Crow
format/source = Kindle/Amazon; 389 pages; date finished = 10/17;
Categories: Watching the Detectives; ABC Boogie (Oct. A & V); These Things Take Time
Country: England & Scotland

Publisher's blurb says: "Felicity Howard, a young American studying at the College of the Transfiguration in Yorkshire, is devastated when she finds her beloved Fr. Dominic bludgeoned to death and Fr. Antony, her church history lecturer, soaked in his blood ... A Very Private Grave is a contemporary novel with a thoroughly modern heroine who must learn some ancient truths in order to solve the mystery and save her own life, as she and Fr. Antony flee a murderer and follow clues that take them to out-of-the way sites across northern England and southern Scotland. The narrative deftly mixes detection, intellectual puzzles, spiritual aspiration, romance, and the solving of clues ancient and modern."

My thoughts: The plot is very similar to that of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code though more in the style of a murder mystery rather than a thriller. A small group (in this case 3 people) are guarding a secret relating to the Christian church; one of the group is murdered but leaves behind cryptic clues which a man and young woman try to unravel, travelling from place to place while others try to stop them. This plot is more believable but the identity of the bad guys seemed pretty obvious after the halfway point. I learned a lot about early English church history (more than I really wanted to!) including who the Venerable Bede was (previously just a name to me).

224.   Dark Nantucket Noon by Jane Langton {reread}
format/source = paperback/MOB; 293 pages; date finished = 10/18;
Categories: Watching the Detectives; Join the Club: Oct. RandomCAT & CatWoman
Country: U.S.A. {MA}

Publisher's blurb says: "Poet Katharine "Kitty" Clark came to Nantucket to watch the eclipse, and ended up kneeling on the beach at the base of the Maria Mitchell Observatory, next to the body of Helen Green. Kitty's knife was found buried in the sand nearby. Accused by a bystander of having killed Helen, Kitty replies "No. It was the moon, you see. The moon did it." Then Homer Kelly shows up at the jail where she is being held, and tells her he is her attorney. Homer's approach is unorthodox, but maybe that's for the best."

My thoughts: During the few minutes of darkness during a total eclipse of the sun, a young woman is murdered on Nantucket Island. Discovered standing over her is the poet & college professor Kitty Clark, spurned lover of the dead woman's husband. Will Homer Kelly be able to convince a jury of Kitty's innocence?

Probably this mystery only deserves 3* but being from Massachusetts, I loved all the details and the line drawings about Nantucket in the book.

225.   George Seferis Collected Poems by George Seferis (ℕ) translated by Edmund Keeley & Philip Sherrard
format/source = paperback/borrowed from my dad; 550 pages; date finished = 10/19;
Categories: All Around the World; Join the Club: Oct. AwardCAT; After All the Roads Have Led to Nowhere
Country: Greece

Publisher's blurb says: "This new bilingual edition of George Seferis: Collected Poems both supplements and revises the two earlier editions published in 1967 and 1969. It collects for the first time the complete "Notes for a 'Week,'" Three Secret Poems and three later poems that were not collected by the poet himself but whose English translation he authorized during his lifetime.

Long recognized as the leading contemporary Greek poet, George Seferis was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1963. As the translators suggest in their introductory essay, Seferis's contribution to Greek poetry lies both in his capacity for creating those universal metaphors that illuminate the deeper meaning of our times and in his stylistic purity, allowing no imbellishment beyond that necessary for precise poetic statement.

In this new edition, some changes have been made in the tranlations of the 1924-1955 poems, in the hope of achieving both greater accuracy and greater stylistic decorum; the Bibliographical Note and the Biographical Note have been brought up to date; and the notes have been added to the new translations."

My thoughts: While I liked some of the poems very much, overall Seferis didn't really speak to me. I prefer Cavafy...

226.   A Very Quiet Guest by Stella Stafford
format/source = Kindle/Amazon; 160 pages; date finished = 10/20;
Categories: Watching the Detectives; ABC Boogie (Oct. A & V); These Things Take Time
Country: England

Publisher's blurb says: "Following the events in Did Anyone Die? Elodea, Barnabus, Priscilla and Angel are launched unwillingly on another crime trail. Elodea is in danger from an unknown assassin. Who can it be and why are they trying to kill her? Is it Ustin, back from the dead? Do the local jackdaws hold the clue? Are Elodea's other children involved in the mystery? This book should also answer all the trailing queries that the observant reader still held at the end of Did Anyone Die?"

My thoughts: I got this Kindle mystery as a freebie back in 2012 & am glad I didn't pay for it! I didn't know that it was the second book in a series but now that explains some of the problems I had with the book. The author drops the reader into an ongoing situation with very little explanation of what is going on or who the characters are. For example, in the very first paragraph, there is an unexplained abbreviation which I did eventually make a guess at: O.L.I.S. for Oxford Library Information System (?) -- at this point in the book I didn't even know what country it was set in! There were disconcerting jumps from current events to past events (apparently being revisited in the mind of one of the characters though that doesn't get explained until after the fact). The big suspenseful scene at the end of the book is so artificially contrived as to beggar belief.

Ah well, at least it is no longer taking up space on my Kindle.

Edited: Oct 29, 2017, 7:52pm Top

Books finished 22 - 28 October:

227.   Ashenden or the British Agent by W. Somerset Maugham
format/source = Kindle/Project Gutenberg Canada; 224 pages; date finished = 10/24; 4
Categories: Watching the Detectives; ABC Boogie (Oct. A & V)
Country: various (Switzerland, Russia, England, Italy)

Publisher's blurb says: "A celebrated writer by the time the war broke out in 1914, Maugham had the perfect cover for living in Switzerland. Multilingual and knowledgeable about many European countries, he was dispatched by the Secret Service to Lucerne - under the guise of completing a play. An assignment whose danger and drama appealed both to his sense of romance and of the ridiculous.
A collection of stories rooted in Maugham's own experiences as an agent, reflecting the ruthlessness and brutality of espionage, its intrigue and treachery, as well as its absurdity."

My thoughts: Because this is a WW1 spy story, I have shelved it under thriller-suspense but it is not actually either thrilling nor suspenseful. Ashenden, like Maugham himself, is a writer drafted into the Secret Service but his job is more one of observation than of danger or action. As Ashenden says:

"Being no more than a tiny rivet in a vast and complicated machine, he never had the advantage of seeing a completed action. He was concerned with the beginning or the end of it, perhaps, or with some incident in the middle, but what his own doings led to he had seldom a chance of discovering."

Thus the book is more a series of connected short stories than a single novel. Maugham's wonderful prose is a joy to read as usual.

228.     *The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence
format/source = Kindle/Amazon & audiobook/Hoopla, narrated by Paul Slack; 483 pages; date finished = 10/25; 2
Categories: These Things Take Time; Numbered Days
Country: England

Publisher's blurb says: "D.H. Lawrence's controversial classic, The Rainbow, follows the lives and loves of three generations of the Brangwen family, between 1840 and 1905. Their tempestuous relationships are played out against a backdrop of change as they witness the arrival of industrialization - the only constant being their unending attempts to grasp a higher form of existence, symbolized by the persistent, unifying motif of the 'rainbow'. Lawrence's fourth novel, and prequel to Women in Love, is an invigorating, absorbing tale about the undying determination of the human soul."

My thoughts: 2½ stars for the audiobook edition narrated by Paul Slack.

I didn't care for this book but if you like D.H. Lawrence, you probably would like this. His writing style & main themes irritate me so my main feeling on finishing this is relief that I am done. The characters don't seem like any people I have ever met & Lawrence has some strange ideas about sex & women...

For me, the most interesting parts were when Ursula Brangwen is working as a school teacher (without any kind of training!). Having taught myself, I was amused that some things apparently never change, such as the principal/headmaster's fear of pushy &/or complaining parents. Other aspects have clearly changed for the better - no more canings!

229.     *Adam Bede by George Eliot
format/source = Kindle/Amazon & audiobook/BPL, narrated by Wanda McCaddon; 485 pages; date finished = 10/25;
Categories: These Things Take Time; Numbered Days; ABC Boogie (Oct. A & V)
Country: England

Publisher's blurb says: (WARNING - CONTAINS SPOILERS)
"George Eliot's first full-length novel is the moving, realistic portrait of three people troubled by unwise love.

Adam Bede is a hardy young carpenter who cares for his aging mother. His one weakness is the woman he loves blindly: the trifling town beauty, Hetty Sorrel, who delights only in her baubles—and the delusion that the careless Captain Donnithorne may ask for her hand.

Betrayed by their innocence, both Adam and Hetty allow their foolish hearts to trap them in a triangle of seduction, murder, and retribution. Only in the lovely Dinah Morris, a preacher, does Adam find his redemption."

My thoughts: 3.5* for the book; 4* for the Wanda McCadden narration of the audiobook edition

This is the third book I have read by Eliot & the one I have enjoyed the most. I liked the historical setting (~1799-1800) and felt that the characters were believable & not too preachy (even Dinah, the Methodist preacher, wasn't overly preachy). I think that Eliot's style is growing on me; some day I will have to go back & reread Middlemarch.

230.     Artists in Crime by Ngaio Marsh {reread}
format/source = paperback/MOB & audiobook/library, narrated by Nadia May; 294 pages; date finished = 10/26; 4
Categories: Watching the Detectives; ABC Boogie (Oct. A & V)
Country: England

Publisher's blurb says: "It was a bizarre pose for beautiful model Sonia Gluck-and her last. For in the draperies of her couch lay a fatal dagger, and behind her murder lies all the intrigue and acid-etched temperament of an artist's colony. Called in to investigate, Scotland Yard's Inspector Roderick Alleyn finds his own passions unexpectedly stirred by the feisty painter Agatha Troy-brilliant artist and suspected murderess."

My thoughts: Nadia May does a marvelous narration of this entry in the Alleyn series. I have a fondness for this one, in which Alleyn first meets Agatha Troy.

231.     *A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay
format/source = Kindle/Project Gutenberg & audiobook/LibriVox, narrated by Mark Nelson; 276 pages; date finished = 10/27; 3
Categories: These Things Take Time; Numbered Days; Scary Monsters & Supercreeps; ABC Boogie (Oct. A & V)
Country: England & Tormance

Publisher's blurb says: "A stunning achievement in speculative fiction, A Voyage to Arcturus has inspired, enchanted, and unsettled readers for decades. It is simultaneously an epic quest across one of the most unusual and brilliantly depicted alien worlds ever conceived, a profoundly moving journey of discovery into the metaphysical heart of the universe, and a shockingly intimate excursion into what makes us human and unique. After a strange interstellar journey, Maskull, a man from Earth, awakens alone in a desert on the planet Tormance, seared by the suns of the binary star Arcturus. As he journeys northward, guided by a drumbeat, he encounters a world and its inhabitants like no other, where gender is a victory won at dear cost; where landscape and emotion are drawn into an accursed dance; where heroes are killed, reborn, and renamed; and where the cosmological lures of Shaping, who may be God, torment Maskull in his astonishing pilgrimage. At the end of his arduous and increasingly mystical quest waits a dark secret and an unforgettable revelation.

A Voyage to Arcturus was the first novel by writer David Lindsay (1878–1945), and it remains one of the most revered classics of science fiction. "

My thoughts: Mark Nelson did a pretty good job narrating this classic science fiction novel.

I am not sure what to make of this classic science fiction novel - it was more a philosophical metaphor than the space travel adventure story that I had hoped for. I don't think that I understood what Lindsay was trying to say.

The final two chapters in particular confused me with Nightspore apparently being Maskull (a Maskull who survived the death of the main character but also existed before his death) & Krag being Surtur which was pain on Earth.

232.   Feed by M.T. Anderson
format/source = audiobook/SYNC, narrated by David Aaron Baker; 308 pages; date finished = 10/28; 4
Categories: Scary Monsters & Supercreeps; Join the Club: Oct. RandomCAT & SFFKit
Country: U.S.A. & the Moon

Publisher's blurb says: "Identity crises, consumerism, and star-crossed teenage love in a futuristic society where people connect to the Internet via feeds implanted in their brains.

For Titus and his friends, it started out like any ordinary trip to the moon - a chance to party during spring break and play with some stupid low-grav at the Ricochet Lounge. But that was before the crazy hacker caused all their feeds to malfunction, sending them to the hospital to lie around with nothing inside their heads for days. And it was before Titus met Violet, a beautiful, brainy teenage girl who has decided to fight the feed and its omnipresent ability to categorize human thoughts and desires. Following in the footsteps of George Orwell, Anthony Burgess, and Kurt Vonnegut Jr., M. T. Anderson has created a not-so-brave new world — and a smart, savage satire that has captivated readers with its view of an imagined future that veers unnervingly close to the here and now."

My thoughts: I found this sci-fi YA dystopian novel all the more frightening because it was so plausible. On the surface, it is the story of a romance between two teens of different backgrounds but the underlying story is in the setting. The disfunction of American society is highlighted by the fact that the main character is oblivious of it, even after circumstance forces it into his (and the readers') attention.

Edited: Nov 16, 2017, 2:03pm Top

OK, here is my tenative list for November:

*The Master and Margarita
*The Coming Race
*The Horse's Mouth
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
The Queen's Poisoner
*The Loved One: An Anglo-American Tragedy
and maybe *Cities of the Plain (aka Sodom and Gomorrah)

and hopefully all these mysteries:
A Pocket Full of Rye {reread via audiobook}
Death of a Red Heroine
The Goodbye Look

Death at the Chase

I am sure that there will be others - probably a few Wodehouse audiobooks that fit the AlphaKIT.

Oct 30, 2017, 1:28pm Top

>153 Ooh, Laura is a good read!

Oct 30, 2017, 9:06pm Top

>154 I have seen the movie a couple of times so I am excited to read the book!

Nov 5, 2017, 5:01pm Top

Books finished 29 October - 4 November:

233.   *Atonement by Ian McEwan
format/source = paperback/MOB; 480 pages; date finished = 10/29; 4
Categories: Numbered Days; ABC Boogie (Oct. A & V)
Country: England

Publisher's blurb says: "Ian McEwan’s symphonic novel of love and war, childhood and class, guilt and forgiveness provides all the satisfaction of a brilliant narrative and the provocation we have come to expect from this master of English prose.

On a hot summer day in 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant and Cecilia’s childhood friend. But Briony’s incomplete grasp of adult motives—together with her precocious literary gifts—brings about a crime that will change all their lives. As it follows that crime’s repercussions through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century, Atonement engages the reader on every conceivable level, with an ease and authority that mark it as a genuine masterpiece."

My thoughts: Friends told me I would like this book but I kept putting it off because I didn't much care for the only other McEwan I had read, The Child in Time. Now I wish I had trusted my friends more as I thought this one was amazing!

234.     Arabella by Georgette Heyer {reread}
format/source = paperback/MOB & audiobook/Hoopla, narrated by Phyllida Nash; 312 pages; date finished = 10/30; 4
Categories: ABC Boogie (Oct. A & V)
Country: England

Publisher's blurb says: "To Arabella Tallant, daughter of a provincial minister, the invitation to stay with her London godmother was like the key to heaven. In addition to living in the glamourous city, Arabella might even find a suitable husband! Under her godmother's watchful eye, Arabella met all the eligible young men. But only one caught her fancy: Mr. Beaumaris, the most handsome--and most dedicated--bachelor in London, accustomed to being courted for his wealth. Arabella was so put out by his disdain for her that on the spur of the moment, she claimed to be an heiress with no need to marry for money. Trapped in her lie, and becoming daily more interested in Beaumaris, Arabella began to believe she would never attain her heart's desire. "

My thoughts: I have loved Heyer's books since my teens and have read & reread them over the years. Only recently have I started listening to audiobook editions with some mixed results. Phyllida Nash is very good as narrator but not quite perfect, somehow not quite as good as she was in The Talisman Ring... However, I didn't intend to listen to this audiobook in one big gulp but the humor and charm of this Heyer romance swept me up and I did end up finishing the same day as I started!

And, for those other Heyer fans out there, I have shown my current paperback above (which I got when my Mom was getting rid of her paperbacks & converting to Kindle editions). But my previous paperback, bought in a second hand store years ago when I was building my own collection of Heyer titles, was this 1949 Ace edition:

235.   *Blood Shot by Sara Paretsky {reread}
format/source = paperback/MOB; 376 pages; date finished = 11/1; 4
Categories: Watching the Detectives
Country: U.S.A. {IL}

Publisher's blurb says: "V.I. Warshawski isn't crazy about going back to her old south Chicago neighborhood, but a promise is something she always keeps. Caroline, a childhood friend, has a dying mother and a problem -- after twenty-five years she wants V.I. to find the father she never knew. But when V.I. starts probing into the past, she not only finds out where all the bodies are buried -- she stumbles onto a very new corpse. Now she's stirring up a deadly mix of big business and chemical corruption that may become a toxic shock to a snooper who knows too much."

My thoughts on this 2017 reread: While some aspects of this 5th entry of the Warshawski series are slightly dated, overall it remains an exciting PI story. Paretsky creates a great sense of place with her descriptions of various parts of Chicago, especially the economically struggling South Side.

I found that even though I recalled some aspects of the story from my previous reading (20 or so years ago), much of the story took me by surprise, making this a more exciting read than I had expected.

236.     *Dracula by Bram Stoker {reread}
format/source = paperback/MOB & audiobook/Hoopla, narrated by David Horovitch, Jamie Parker, Joseph Kloska, Alison Pettitt, Clare Corbett, John Foley, David Thorpe; 312 pages; date finished = 11/1; 4
Categories: Join the Club: Oct. RandomCAT (Dark books)
Country: England (mostly)

Publisher's blurb says: "For a century Bram Stoker’s Dracula has reigned supreme as the undisputed masterpiece of horror writing. We have all grown up beneath the shadow of the elegant Count, at once an attractive, brutal and erotic creature of the night. In 1897 Bram Stoker wrote a story expressing the most persistent nightmare of the human condition. Take this opportunity to dream again..."

My thoughts: This audiobook edition was very good; perhaps not quite as good as the Tim Curry Audible edition but very close.

One detail about the story I noticed in this, my third, reread was in the section when Lucy is ill. Dr. Van Helsing gives her several blood transfusions from different donors. This time, while listening, I couldn't help thinking about the fact that medical science in 1897 didn't know about blood types & it was surprising that one of those transfusions didn't kill her because the donor was the wrong type!

Overall, my impression of the book remains that it is a much better story than one would imagine from all the movie adaptations.

237.   The Smiler With the Knife by Nicholas Blake
format/source = Kindle/Amazon Prime lending library; 288 pages; date finished = 11/2;
Categories: Watching the Detectives
Country: England

Publisher's blurb says: "Seldom does a little bit of gardening change the course of history. Trimming the hedgerow one sunny morning, those incomparable partners in crime, Nigel and Georgia Strangeways, discover a tarnished locket. Hidden inside are dark secrets which threaten the nation’s democracy.
Leaving Nigel disconsolate at home, Georgia sets off on an hilarious romp across the country, pursuing a clique of Little Englanders inspired by Fascist Germany.
In her battle for Britain she encounters reckless gamblers and a quiet village vicar, England’s top batsman and the Radiance Girls in flowing orange chiffon, and, most suspicious of all, a peer of the realm with more on his mind than a coronet. Who is friend? Who is foe? Who would destroy the sanctity of England’s green and pleasant land?"

My thoughts: Nigel Strangeways barely appears in this entry in the series. Instead his wife has the feature role in this suspense novel (it isn't really a mystery). My biggest complaint is the frequent use of phrases such as "looking back a year later" which takes some of the suspense out of the story by assuring the reader that the main characters will survive, no matter how black things might look.

238.     A Pocket Full of Rye by Agatha Christie {reread}
format/source = paperback/MOB & audiobook/Hoopla, narrated by Richard E. Grant; 186 pages; date finished = 11/3; 3
Categories: Watching the Detectives
Country: England

Publisher's blurb says: "Rex Fortescue, king of a financial empire, was sipping tea in his "counting house" when he suffered an agonizing and sudden death. On later inspection, the pockets of the deceased were found to contain traces of cereals. Yet, it was the incident in the parlor which confirmed Miss Marple's suspicion that here she was looking at a case of crime by rhyme..."

My thoughts: 3½* for this audiobook edition Miss Marple plays a smaller role in this book than she did in the Joan Hickson dramatization, which I found disappointing. However, Richard Grant does an excellent narration.

239.   *The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh {reread}
format/source = hardcover/library; 164 pages; date finished = 11/3; 5
Categories: ABC Boogie (Nov. L & Q)
Country: U.S.A. {CA}

Publisher's blurb says: "Following the death of a friend, the poet and pets' mortician Dennis Barlow finds himself entering the artificial Hollywood paradise of the Whispering Glades Memorial Park. Within its golden gates, death, American-style, is wrapped up and sold like a package holiday-and Dennis gets drawn into a bizarre love triangle with Aimée Thanatogenos, a naïve Californian corpse beautician, and Mr. Joyboy, a master of the embalmer's art. Waugh's dark and savage satire on the Anglo-American cultural divide depicts a world where reputation, love, and death cost a very great deal."

My thoughts: 2017 reread: Still love it!

2013 review: Absolutely love this satire of mid-1940s Los Angeles and the English ex-patriot community! The mortician Mr. Joyboy and his colleague Aimée Thanatogenos are a wonderful contrast to Dennis Barlow in Waugh's parody of Henry James' stereotypes of the Innocent American and Jaded European...

Nov 8, 2017, 12:32am Top

>156 I too loved The Loved One! Your review reminds me that I should also re-read it.

Nov 8, 2017, 11:14am Top

>157 And it is pretty short so it is a quick read/reread! I hope if you do revisit Waugh, you get as many laughs out of it as I did.

Nov 8, 2017, 4:21pm Top

>156 My first Ian McEwan was also Child in Time which I barely understood and didn't like so I am happy to see your praise of Atonement as I have wanted to read that but after my first reading experience with the author, I have been very wary of him.

Nov 8, 2017, 8:44pm Top

>159 I totally understand what you mean! I hope you do give Atonement a try someday.

Nov 8, 2017, 8:55pm Top

I've not read any Evelyn Waugh before (which is really shameful) but The Loved One sounds really appealing. On to the wishlist ...

Nov 9, 2017, 11:51am Top

>161 I find Waugh's satires very humorous but others dislike them intensely. I hope you end up in the 'love it' camp!

Nov 9, 2017, 4:48pm Top

>104 leslie.98: I've enjoyed a few of Pratchett's books. They are so full of magic and humor. I should probably read more but it's so intimidating to know where to go.

>131 christina_reads: Some of our classes have been reading The Stranger. I keep meaning to give it a go.

>142 leslie.98: I'm not surprised the twins were cut out of Mary Poppins. It would be too hard to teach them the dance numbers. ;-0

>156 leslie.98: My copy of Dracula had marvelous woodcut illustrations which really added to the atmosphere of the story.

All caught up again.

Nov 10, 2017, 11:10am Top

>163 I have recently been reading the Discworld books in publication order but there is a great guide to help decide which book to read at


It shows the various subseries and different places in the series you can start.

Regarding The Stranger, it was surprisingly easy to read and not very long either. I hope you do try it one day.

Nov 12, 2017, 11:00am Top

Stopping by to get caught up.

>122 leslie.98: - Love your negative review! Rants are very therapeutic.

>132 leslie.98: - Congratulations!

Nov 13, 2017, 3:49pm Top

Thanks for stopping by Lori!

Nov 13, 2017, 4:54pm Top

More than 230 books, I'm impressed! Congrats on reaching your challenge target! :)

Nov 15, 2017, 11:18am Top

Thanks >167!

Edited: Dec 1, 2017, 7:51pm Top

OK, I have clearly not been good at keeping up with my thread so I will just give a summary of November's books.

240. The Queen's Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler, 325 pgs, Kindle ROOT, finished 11/5,
241. The Goodbye Look by Ross MacDonald, 186 pgs, paperback ROOT, finished 11/6, 3
242. The Luck of the Bodkins by P.G. Wodehouse, 286 pgs, Hoopla audio, finished 11/7,
243. *Blindness by Jose Saramago (ℕ) (translated by Giovanni Pontiero), 326 pgs, paperback ROOT, finished 11/8,
244. Death of a Red Heroine by Qui Xialong, 464 pgs, library hardcover, finished 11/8, 4
245. Glass Houses by Louise Penny, 400 pgs, library Kindle, finished 11/10, 4
246. Henry IV by Luigi Pirandello (ℕ) (translated by Edward Storer), 80 pgs, Kindle ROOT, finished 11/12, 3
247. No Wind of Blame by Georgette Heyer, 246 pgs, library audio CDs, finished 11/13, 4{reread via audiobook}
248. *The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (translated by Michael Glenny), 394 pgs, library hardcover, finished 11/16,
249. Last Ditch by Ngaio Marsh, 277 pgs, BPL audio, finished 11/17, 3
250. Quick Service by P.G. Wodehouse, 192 pgs, Hoopla audio, finished 11/18,
251. *The Coming Race by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 108 pgs, Kindle, finished 11/19, 3
252. Too Many Cooks by Rex Stout, 204 pgs, library Kindle, finished 11/19,
253. Death at the Chase by Michael Innes, 184 pgs, paperback ROOT, finished 11/22, 4
254. Symphony for the City of the Dead by M.T. Anderson, 464 pgs, audio ROOT, finished 11/24, 4
255. Laura by Vera Caspary, 219 pgs, Dad's Kindle, finished 11/24,
256. The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri (translated by Stephen Sartarelli), 224 pgs, audio CDs ROOT, finished 11/26, 3
257. *The Luck of Barry Lyndon by William Makepeace Thackeray, 347 pgs, Kindle ROOT, finished 11/27,
258. L.A. Dead by Stuart Woods, 410 pgs, audio ROOT, finished 11/29, 3
259. The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister, 228 pgs, audio ROOT, finished 11/30,

Dec 1, 2017, 6:18pm Top

I have lots of ideas for what to read in December, so this list is just what I think I might read...

Nemesis by Agatha Christie {reread via audiobook}
The Crime at the 'Noah's Ark'
Some Buried Caesar
The Open House
Not a Creature was Stirring {reread}

other books:
A Christmas Story by Jean Shepard
*The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia
*Sodom and Gomorrah
Mapp and Lucia {reread}
Julius Caesar {reread via audiobook}

*Headlong Hall {reread if time allows}

Edited: Dec 5, 2017, 2:33pm Top

Only 2 books finished since the beginning of December:

260. Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare {reread}
format/source=audiobook/SYNC (2015) & Kindle/Amazon, 95 pages, finished 12/1, 4
Categories: ABC Boogie (Dec. J & R); Join the Club (Dec: RandomCAT: Read in one day), In a Stage Whisper, These Things Take Time
Country: ancient Rome (Italy)

Publisher's blurb says: "The skies over ancient Rome blaze with terrifying portents, and soothsayers warn Julius Caesar of approaching doom. As conspiracy swirls through the city, Shakespeare explores the deep repercussions of political murder on the human heart. A classic tale of duplicity, betrayal and murder, masterfully performed by an all-star, all-American cast in this BBC co-production with L.A. Theatre Works."

My thoughts: An L.A. Theatre Works full cast performance featuring:

Bonnie Bedelia as Calpurnia
Jack Coleman as Casca
John de Lancie as Cassius
Richard Dreyfuss as Marc Antony
Harold Gould as Caesar
Kelsey Grammer as Murellus
Arye Gross as Octavius
Stacy Keach as Marcus Brutus
John Randolph as Flavius/Artemidorus
JoBeth Williams as Portia

With Lee Arenberg, David Birney, Josh Fardon, Arthur Hanket, Rudy Hornish, Basil Langton, Jon Matthews, Paul Mercier, James Morrison, Marnie Mosiman, George Murdock, John Vickery, Andrew White, and Paul Winfield.

This full cast recording was excellent. I am always surprised by how many famous lines there are in this play; this time it was the "Cry havoc! and let slip the dogs of war". For some reason, I thought that this line was one of the Henry's...

I also read along in my Kindle omnibus of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare...

261.        Mapp and Lucia by E.F. Benson {reread}
format/source=hardcover omnibus/MOB, 300 pages, finished 12/1, 4
Country: England

Publisher's blurb says: "The fourth novel in E. F. Benson's classic 'Mapp and Lucia' comedy series following the lives of Emmeline "Lucia" Lucas and Elizabeth Mapp in the one-upmanship and snobbery of the 1920s/30s British social scene."

My thoughts: The Lucia series should be read by anyone who is a fan of Jane Austen or Angela Thirkell!

Nov/Dec 2017 reread: I think that this is my favorite in the series. It would perhaps not be as funny to someone who hadn't read the previous books but the ongoing manoevers between Lucia & Elizabeth Mapp in order to gain social ascendency in the village of Tilling are hilarious as are the reactions of the villagers.

I also am watching the superb BBC adaptation starring Prunella Scales -- so much fun! This adaptation (unlike the PBS one I watched earlier this year) starts with this book and continues into the next, The Worshipful Lucia (aka Lucia's Progress).

Edited: Dec 5, 2017, 2:51pm Top

262.   The Con Man by Ed McBain
format/source=Kindle/Amazon Prime lending library, 216 pages, finished 12/3, 3
Categories: Watching the Detectives; Join the Club (Dec: RandomCAT: Read in one day)
Country: U.S.A.

Publisher's blurb says: "A con man is plying his trade on the streets of Isola: conning a domestic for pocket change, businessmen for thousands, and even ladies in exchange for a little bit of love. You can see the world, meet a lot of nice people, imbibe some unique drinks, and make a ton money…all by conning them for their cash.

The question is: How far is he willing to go?

When a young woman's body washes up in the Harb River, the answer to that question becomes tragically clear. Now Detective Steve Carella races against time to find him before another con turns deadly. The only clue he has to go on is the mysterious tattoo on the young woman’s hand—but it’s enough. Carella takes to the streets, searching its darkest corners for a man who cons his victims out of their money…and their lives."

My thoughts: This 4th entry in the 87th Precinct series again features Steve Carella & this time his deaf-mute wife Teddy plays a big part. While con men, big & small, are featured, this book is really a murder mystery at heart.

Edited: Dec 4, 2017, 4:17pm Top

263. *The Horse's Mouth by Joyce Cary
format/source=hardcover omnibus/library, 285 pages, finished 12/4,
Categories: ABC Boogie (Dec. J & R); Numbered Days
Country: England

Publisher's blurb says: "The Horse's Mouth, the third and most celebrated volume of Joyce Cary's First Trilogy, is perhaps the finest novel ever written about an artist. Its painter hero, the charming and larcenous Gulley Jimson, has an insatiable genius for creation and a no less remarkable appetite for destruction. Is he a great artist? a has-been? or an exhausted, drunken ne'er-do-well? He is without doubt a visionary, and as he criss-crosses London in search of money and inspiration the world as seen though his eyes appears with a newly outrageous and terrible beauty."

My thoughts: Gulley Jimson was quite a character but on the whole I felt that the humor in this book was more of the sort which made me smile inwardly than the sort which make me laugh aloud. Jimson indubitably was an artist but one who had gone off the rails sometime in his past. I loved the way that he was always describing the sky and clouds in terms of colors & shapes. What I found more melancholy was the fact that it seemed to me it was clear to him that his best work was behind him but he couldn't admit that to himself. Perhaps the funniest thing was how he would suggest to someone that he do some painting for them & despite the fact that this proposal was turned down, in his mind he would not only decide it was agreed to but come up with a price for it & in short order, would believe that the person owed him that money!

Dec 4, 2017, 7:10pm Top

>171 I have several of the Mapp & Lucia books on the shelf, but have yet to read any--I think I'm going to move them up a notch, to the first books for next year. Thanks!

Dec 4, 2017, 8:01pm Top

>171 VivienneR: I love E.F. Benson's books. I'll read anything but the Mapp and Lucia series are the best! And the BBC series featuring Prunella Scales is wonderful! I'd love to see that again.

Dec 5, 2017, 2:37pm Top

>174 You have a treat in store! A nice way to start the New Year :)

>175 I haven't read any of his other books but have a couple of others on my Kindle -- I think the Dodo books...

Edited: Dec 6, 2017, 1:45pm Top

264.   Some Buried Caesar by Rex Stout
format/source=paperback/MOB, 190 pages, finished 12/5, 4
Categories: ABC Boogie (Dec. J & R); Watching the Detectives
Country: U.S.A. {NY}

Publisher's blurb says: "Will a championship bull be served as barbecue or preserved for its lineage? Before this can be resolved, however, a foolish young man is found killed. Then the bull dies – or is it murder? Finally, there’s a third dead body, a blackmailer. With no evidence pointing to a killer, it’s time for Nero Wolfe to forsake his fussy lifestyle and start crime-solving. But even Wolfe is stymied when his right-hand man Archie is jailed."

My thoughts: Once again, Wolfe & Archie are away from home in this 6th entry in the series! This time, Wolfe is visiting upstate NY in order to participate in a flower show (so his orchids can beat those of a rival who cowardly avoided the NYC flower shows). Of course, they get involved in a death or two (or 3) while there! This is the book which introduces a recurring character, Lily Rowan, and it was a lot of fun reading the persiflage between her & Archie.

Dec 6, 2017, 1:50pm Top

265.   Nemesis by Agatha Christie (reread)
format/source=audiobook/Hoopla, 271 pages, finished 12/6, ★ for the book, 4* for audio
Categories: Watching the Detectives; Join the Club (Dec CATWoman: post-1960)
Country: England

Publisher's blurb says: "In utter disbelief, Jane Marple read the letter addressed to her from the recently deceased Mr Rafiel - an acquaintance she had met briefly on her travels. He had left instructions for her to investigate a crime after his death. The only problem was, he had failed to tell her who was involved or where and when the crime had been committed. It was most intruguing.

Soon she is faced with a new crime - the ultimate crime - murder. It seems someone is adamant that past evils remain buried..."

My thoughts: I didn't remember this book very well at all, but of course I have seen the Joan Hickson adaptation. Even so, I found that I was not completely sure about who did it (I remembered that it was one of the sisters but Christie was very good at her misdirection!)

Emilia Fox did a fine job narrating.

And I notice now that I am done that this was first published in 1971 so it qualifies for this month's CATWoman :)

Dec 7, 2017, 6:23pm Top

Nemesis is on my list for next year -- my copy has a predominantly yellow cover, so I'm counting it for the yellow month of ColourCAT :)

Dec 7, 2017, 8:14pm Top

>179 Christie is always fun to read imo! Enjoy :)

Dec 8, 2017, 6:21pm Top

266.   The Open House by Michael Innes
format/source=paperback/MOB, 191 pages, finished 12/8,
Categories: Watching the Detectives
Country: England

Publisher's blurb says: "When Inspector Appleby's car breaks down on a deserted road one dark night, he happens upon an imposing mansion, whose windows are all illuminated. His sense of curiosity gets the better of him when he discovers that the front door is wide open, and he gets a funny feeling of being watched as he wanders round this splendid house, looking for signs of life. When he finds an elaborate feast laid out, he wonders who is expected..."

My thoughts: An unexpected late night breakdown of his car leads Appleby into this case as he stumbles upon 'the open house' in his quest for an inn. The house is lit up and the door open but there is no-one to be found inside - at least, at first!

A fun entry in the Appleby series.

Edited: Dec 22, 2017, 1:01pm Top

267.   Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
format/source=audiobook/SYNC, narrated by Sasha Pick, 368 pages, finished 12/8,
Categories: ABC Boogie (Dec. J & R); Join the Club (Dec CATWoman: post-1960)
Country: England, Germany, France

Publisher's blurb says: "Rose Justice is a young pilot with the Air Transport Auxiliary during the Second World War. On her way back from a semi-secret flight in the waning days of the war, Rose is captured by the Germans and ends up in Ravensbrck, the notorious Nazi women's concentration camp. There, she meets an unforgettable group of women, including a once glamorous and celebrated French detective novelist; a resilient young girl who was a human guinea pig for Nazi doctors; and a female fighter pilot for the Soviet air force. These damaged women must bond together to help each other survive.In this companion volume to the critically acclaimed novel Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein continues to explore themes of friendship and loyalty, right and wrong, and unwavering bravery in the face of indescribable evil."

My thoughts: While this historical fiction of the end of WW2 & the Ravensbruck concentration camp was well done, I never came to really believe in the main character, Rose Justice, a young American pilot & didn't care for her poetry. I also felt that the structure of the book robbed it of some of the suspense as we hear about Rose's experiences at Ravensbruck in retrospect so we know in advance that she survived.

Sasha Pick did a fine narration, though I found her voice for Różyczka grating.

Edited: Dec 17, 2017, 4:34pm Top

268.   The Crime at Noah's Ark by Molly Thynne
format/source=Kindle/Amazon, 242 pages, finished 12/10, 4
Categories: Watching the Detectives; These Things Take Time, Join the Club (Dec. RandomCAT: One Day Reads)
Country: England

Publisher's blurb says: " “There’ll be blue murder here before Christmas!”

A number of parties heading for a luxurious holiday spot, are forced by severe winter weather to put up at the ‘Noah’s Ark’, a hostelry they will share with Dr. Constantine, a shrewd chess master and keen observer of all around him. Other guests include bestselling novelist Angus Stuart, the aristocratic Romsey family, a pair of old spinster sisters, and a galloping major whose horseplay gets him into hot water – and then gets him murdered.

Who is the masked intruder who causes such a commotion on the first night? Who has stolen Mrs van Dolen’s emeralds, and who has slashed everyone’s (almost everyone’s) car tyres? And are the murderer and thief one and the same, or are the guests faced with two desperate criminals hiding in plain sight in the snowbound inn? Dr. Constantine, aided by two of the younger guests, is compelled to investigate this sparkling Christmas mystery before anyone else ends up singing in the heavenly choir."

My thoughts: A twist on the country manor mystery -- in this case, a group of people, mostly unknown to each other, are caught in a December snowstorm in an inn called Noah's Ark. While stuck there in the days leading up to Christmas, there is a jewel robbery & a murder. I liked the fact that while there were some romantic subplots, they remained very much in the background. It was also pleasant to see that the village constable wasn't portrayed as a boobie, even though he required help to catch the culprit(s?).

Dec 11, 2017, 3:01pm Top

>183 I hadn't heard of this author before, but she definitely sounds like one to check out!

Dec 11, 2017, 6:14pm Top

>183 & >184 I, too, have never heard of Molly Thynne before but I see that Amazon has a number of her books at a fairly low price so I will pick up a couple for my Kindle, and one will definitely be The Crime At Noah's Ark. :)

Dec 11, 2017, 11:50pm Top

>184 & >185 I think that Molly Thynne is one of those Golden Age authors who faded into obscurity before the advent of ebooks. This was the second of hers I have read and both were good. Of course, I have a soft spot for mysteries of this era.

Dec 12, 2017, 1:53am Top

>183 VivienneR: Great review! You sold me on this one! I found it on Kindle but the unfortunate part is that I don't think I'll be able to fit it in this year. Never mind, I'll look forward to it next Christmas.

Dec 12, 2017, 5:54pm Top

>187 It is nice to have a few 'holiday' books stored up for next year! Not that this one is exactly festive. I bought The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries in January for just that purpose & am now enjoying that ;)

Edited: Dec 12, 2017, 5:59pm Top

I'm another who had never heard of her before. And in some weird piece of luck, it appears to be free on Amazon right now as a Kindle purchase. Not really sure how that happened, but I just bought it.

ETA: Also "bought" The Draycott Murder since it was free too.

Dec 12, 2017, 6:02pm Top

>189 I too got the Kindle edition for free, and over about a 6 month period, picked up 4-5 others by her free as well. I don't know if they are always free or just whether the publisher periodically offers up one as an enticement.

Dec 12, 2017, 7:12pm Top

>189 & >190 It's not free in Canada! :(

Dec 14, 2017, 2:07pm Top

>191 Aww, that is too bad!

Edited: Dec 14, 2017, 2:18pm Top

269.     *Cities of the Plain (aka Sodom and Gomorrah) by Marcel Proust {translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff}
format/source = Kindle/Feedbooks & audiobook/Hoopla, narrated by Neville Jason; 748 pages; date finished = 12/14;
Categories: Numbered Days, All Around the World, Memories Can't Wait
Country: France

Audiobook publisher's blurb says: "Remembrance of Things Past is one of the monuments of 20th century literature. Sodom and Gomorrah is the fourth of seven volumes. Accidentally witnessing an encounter between the Baron de Charlus and the tailor Jupien, the narrator's eyes are opened to a world hidden from him until now; he suspects that Albertine is attracted to her own sex."

My thoughts: I was heading to a 4* rating until the final chapter. Marcel baffled me in it with his abrupt volte face with regard to Albertine. Despite this, this 4th volume of the In Search of Lost Time series was much more enjoyable to me than the previous books. Or perhaps I am just getting habituated to Proust's style so that it doesn't annoy or bore me as much as it originally did...

I skimmed the text of my Kindle edition while listening to Neville Jason's narration. In past volumes, this combination of reading & listening worked well for me and it succeeded well this time too.

Dec 14, 2017, 6:04pm Top

270.   *The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
format/source=paperback/MOB, 332 pages, finished 12/14, 5
Categories: Watching the Detectives; Numbered Days, ABC Boogie (Dec. J & R)
Country: U.S.A. {CA}

Publisher's blurb says: "Marlowe befriends a down on his luck war veteran with the scars to prove it. Then he finds out that Terry Lennox has a very wealthy nymphomaniac wife, who he's divorced and re-married and who ends up dead. And now Lennox is on the lam and the cops and a crazy gangster are after Marlowe."

My thoughts: I thought I had already read this so when I got my dad's paperback copy several years ago, I didn't read it right away. Well, it turns out I hadn't read it & now I am sorry I let it sit on the shelf so long! Chandler managed to surprise me with twists right up to the end. And unlike some of his earlier works, there was very little objectionable language (i.e. little to no racial slurs, etc.).

Edited: Dec 15, 2017, 12:58pm Top

271.     *Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia by Samuel Johnson
format/source = Kindle/Project Gutenberg & audiobook/LibriVox, narrated by Martin Geeson; 160 pages; date finished = 12/14;
Categories: Numbered Days, These Things Take Time, ABC Boogie (Dec. J & R)
Country: Abyssinia (Ethiopia) & Egypt

Audiobook's blurb says: "In this enchanting fable (subtitled The Choice of Life), Rasselas and his retinue burrow their way out of the totalitarian paradise of the Happy Valley in search of that triad of eighteenth-century aspiration - life, liberty and happiness.

According to that quirky authority, James Boswell, Johnson penned his only work of prose fiction in a handful of days to cover the cost of his mother's funeral. The stylistic elegance of the book and its wide-ranging philosophical concerns give no hint of haste or superficiality.

Among other still burning issues Johnson's characters pursue questions of education, colonialism, the nature of the soul and even climate alteration. Johnson's profoundest concern, however, is with the alternating attractions of solitude and social participation, seen not only as the ultimate life-choice but as the arena in which are played out the deepest fears of the individual: "Of the uncertainties of our present state, the most dreadful and alarming is the uncertain continuance of Reason.” (Summary by Martin Geeson)"

My thoughts: I found many interesting ideas in this classic but overall felt it was an uneasy mixture of philosophy and satire. Rasselas is bored in the Happy Valley in which all the offspring of Abyssinian royalty were confined (along with their servants & others required for their comfort and amusement) because, as he says himself, " 'That I want nothing,' said the Prince, 'or that I know not what I want, is the cause of my complaint: if I had any known want, I should have a certain wish; that wish would excite endeavour, and I should not then repine to see the sun move so slowly towards the western mountains, or to lament when the day breaks, and sleep will no longer hide me from myself.' " One of his advisors chides him saying that he didn't know what miseries the outer world contained & the Prince decides that "I shall long to see the miseries of the world, since the sight of them is necessary to happiness."

For a while, he is happy while contemplating how he will escape the valley as that gives him an interest in life & he eventually meets a poet, Imlac, who had lived outside the boundaries of the valley & in fact had travelled widely before settling there. In telling Rasselas his story, they discuss what makes for happiness. Imlac declares that "Human life is everywhere a state in which much is to be endured and little to be enjoyed." but the Prince is unwilling to accept this verdict. He invites Imlac to help him escape the valley & become his companion and guide. At the last minute, they are joined by Rasselas's favorite sister Princess Nekayah & her favorite attendant Pekuah.

With Imlac's assistance, Rasselas & Nekayah gradually adjust to life outside the Happy Valley and begin to investigate what kind of life is best. They meet many different types of people -- city society (in Cairo), a wise guru, a hermit, an astronomer, an Arab bandit, etc. They debate the nature of marriage & whether married life is required for true happiness. Somewhat surprisingly to me, Nekayah is the one who thinks marriage does not contribute to happiness but rather causes unhappiness, which she backs up with examples of married couples she has come to know.

During all this, Rasselas is trying to find the correct "choice of life" for himself. As the audiobook blurb says above, Johnson keeps returning to the question of whether solitude or society is better. As the hermit remarks: "In solitude, if I escape the example of bad men, I want likewise the counsel and conversation of the good."

Dec 15, 2017, 6:47pm Top

I'm re-reading The Distant Echo, by Val McDermid, and it mentions The Jam at one point! I figured you might appreciate that :)

Dec 15, 2017, 9:36pm Top

lol - I do indeed, >196! I have never read her - January would be a good time to try her given that the AlphaKIT letters are V & M!

Edited: Dec 18, 2017, 10:06am Top

272.     Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit by P.G. Wodehouse {reread}
format/source = paperback/MOB & audiobook/Hoopla, narrated by Jonathan Cecil; 176 pages; date finished = 12/16;
Categories: ABC Boogie (Dec. J & R)
Country: England

Audiobook's blurb says: "When Bertie Wooster goes to stay with his Aunt Dahlia at Brinkley Court and unexpectedly becomes engaged to the imperious Lady Florence Craye, disaster threatens from all sides.While Florence tries to cultivate Bertie's mind, her former fiancé, hefty ex-policeman "Stilton" Cheesewright, threatens to beat his body to a pulp, and her new admirer, the bleating poet Percy Gorringe, tries to borrow a thousand pounds.To cap it all, there's a jewelry heist; plus, Bertie has incurred the disapproval of Jeeves by growing a mustache. All in all, it's a classic Wodehouse farce."

My thoughts: Jonathan Cecil again excels in this audiobook narration of Bertie Wooster's entanglement with Florence Craye, Stilton Cheesewright and his Aunt Dahlia's attempt to sell her magazine The Lady's Boudoir to Mr. Trotter. To add to the fun, Lord Sidcup (formerly known as Spode) appears at Uncle Tom's invitation to look at Dahlia's pearl necklace, causing consternation and confusion.

Cecil's voice for the regular cast of characters was as always wonderful but his voice for Mr. Trotter, a Yorkshire newspaper magnate, wavered a little -- sometimes more northern than others.

Edited: Dec 17, 2017, 4:43pm Top

273.   Jazz Funeral by Julie Smith
format/source=Kindle/Amazon, 358 pages, finished 12/17, 3
Categories: Watching the Detectives; These Things Take Time; ABC Boogie (Dec. J & R); Join the Club (Dec. RandomCAT: One Day Reads; Dec. CATWoman: post-1960s)
Country: U.S.A. {LA}

Publisher's blurb says: "Smack in the middle of the summer, Skip finds herself investigating the stabbling death of the universally beloved producer of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Then the victim's sixteen-year-old sister disappears, and Skip suspects that if the young woman isn't herself the murderer, she's in mortal danger from the person who is. And with her long-distance love, Steve Steinman, and her landlord, Jimmy Dee, to assist her, Skip trails an elusive killer through the delirium of a city caught up in the world's most famous music bash..."

My thoughts: Being a little tired of the cold weather (already!!), I decided to enjoy vicariously the heat of a Louisiana summer with this mystery which had been languishing for too long on my Kindle (almost exactly 5 years).

I enjoyed the New Orleans ambience and I like Skip Langdon, the Amazonian female homicide detective. Smith gives the reader a chance to 'hear' the thoughts of various characters (including suspects) in a way that allows you to get a feeling for their personalities without tipping her hand about who is the guilty one.

Dec 18, 2017, 3:22pm Top

274.     The Case of the Journeying Boy by Michael Innes
format/source=hardcover omnibus/MOB, 288 pages, finished 12/18,
Categories: Watching the Detectives; ABC Boogie (Dec. J & R)
Country: England & Ireland

Publisher's blurb says: "Humphrey Paxton, the rambunctious son of an eminent British physicist, is accompanied by his somewhat fussy tutor to spend his holiday with relatives in Ireland, where he encounters a grave threat to his life."

My thoughts: One of the things I like about (most) Innes' mysteries is his writing style. It won't appeal to everyone but I enjoy the way he uses language. In the first chapter, for example, Mr. Threwless is examining Sir Bernard Paxton's library and thinks of the furniture as covered in "horripilant velvet" -- I was unfamiliar with the word and could have passed it by assuming it was a fancy way of saying 'horrid' but decided to look up the word. The Merriam Webster online dictionary gave me this:

horripilation: a bristling of the hair of the head or body (as from disease, terror, or chilliness); goose bumps

What a great description of some types of velvet. And no wonder Mr. Threwless couldn't bring himself to sit on it!

I also enjoy the way Innes slyly pokes fun at himself & others who write mysteries and thrillers:
At one point on the train to Ireland, when Mr. Threwless is becoming suspicious of people & events that had occurred, there is this passage:

"Mr. Threwless halted, amazed at himself. He never read gangster stories. He never even read that milder sensational fiction, nicely top-dressed with a compost of literature and the arts, which is the produced by idle persons living in colleges and rectories."

Some readers might find that the "real plot" doesn't get going until the second half of the book (in which Threwless and his pupil Humphrey have some exciting adventures reminiscent of John Buchan's Richard Hannay) but I thought that the struggle Mr. Threwless undergoes during the train trip (deciding if Humphrey is an imposter or is mad or is just what he seems) fascinating. As much as I read suspense novels, I am sure that I would react in a very similar way if I was actually confronted by such a situation.

And reading this novel also completes my reading of the omnibus The Michael Innes Treasury. I have written reviews for each of the three novels separately but here is the review for the 695 page omnibus:

The Case of the Journeying Boy, read December 2017: 4.5*
This is a non-Appleby suspense mystery reminiscent of Buchan

Hamlet Revenge, read February 2014: 4*
The 2nd Appleby book (which I also have in paperback; see that for my review)

Appleby's End, read February 2015: 3.5*
The 10th Appleby mystery. I found the writing style in this one less enjoyable than the other 2 books but still a very good mystery.

Overall I rated the omnibus as 4*

Edited: Dec 22, 2017, 12:53pm Top

275.   Room by Emma Donoghue
format/source=paperback/MOB, 321 pages, finished 12/19, 4
Categories: ABC Boogie (Dec. J & R); Join the Club (Dec. CATWoman: post-1960s)
Country: U.S.A.

Publisher's blurb says: "To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world. . . . It's where he was born, it's where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.
... {parts containing spoilers omitted} ...
Room is a tale at once shocking, riveting, exhilarating--a story of unconquerable love in harrowing circumstances, and of the diamond-hard bond between a mother and her child."

My thoughts: I found the ending a bit convenient but overall the boy Jack's narrative was compelling.

Edited: Dec 22, 2017, 1:03pm Top

276.   A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd
format/source=audiobook/Random House Audio, narrated by Dick Cavett; 131 pages, finished 12/22,
Categories: ABC Boogie (Dec. J & R)
Country: U.S.A. {IN}

Publisher's blurb says: "This edition of A Christmas Story gathers together in one hilarious volume the gems of autobiographical humor that Jean Shepherd drew upon to create the enduring holiday film. Here is young Ralphie Parker’s shocking discovery that his decoder ring is really a device to promote Ovaltine; his mother and father’s pitched battle over the fate of a lascivious leg lamp; the unleashed and unnerving savagery of Ralphie’s duel in the show with the odious bullies Scut Farkas and Grover Dill; and, most crucially, Ralphie’s unstoppable campaign to get Santa—or anyone else—to give him a Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range model air rifle. Who cares that the whole adult world is telling him, “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid”?

The pieces that comprise A Christmas Story, previously published in the larger collections In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash and Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories, coalesce in a magical fashion to become an irresistible piece of Americana, quite the equal of the film in its ability to warm the heart and tickle the funny bone."

My thoughts: Dick Cavett does a fine narration of this set of semi-autobiographical stories. Despite the title, only the first story is related to Christmas.

Dec 23, 2017, 7:59pm Top

Hi Leslie, stopping by to wish you and your loved ones peace, joy and happiness this holiday season and for 2018!

Dec 23, 2017, 9:57pm Top

What a sweet picture! Thanks >203!

Dec 24, 2017, 2:41pm Top

>200 leslie.98: I'd read a Michael Innes short story some time ago and enjoyed it. It sounds like I definitely should try his longer works.

Happy holidays to you!

Dec 25, 2017, 10:39am Top

Jan 2, 12:43pm Top

I love Snoopy! Thanks >206 & I hope you had happy holidays!

Jan 2, 1:02pm Top

And here are my last few books of 2017. Better late than never I guess...

Edited: Jan 2, 2:38pm Top

277.   Not a Creature Was Stirring by Jane Haddam
format/source=Kindle/Dad's, 320 pages, finished 12/23,
Categories: Watching the Detectives; ABC Boogie (Dec. J & R); Join the Club (Dec. CATWoman: post-1960s)
Country: U.S.A. {PA}

Publisher's blurb says: "Summoned to a Christmas feast at the isolated country estate of multimillionaire Robert Hannaford, retired FBI agent Gregor Demarkian is soon back on the job when Hannaford is murdered."

My thoughts: I think that I have read this before though it didn't seem familiar to me. If so, it is not surprising that I guessed who the murderer was (based solely on personality, not clues) - I may have subconsciously remembered.

I love the Armenian-American background; as I grew up in a town with a lot of Armenians, many aspects of this background remind me of my hometown.

Jan 2, 1:14pm Top

278.   The Crooked Wreath by Christianna Brand
format/source=audiobook/Hoopla, narrated by David Thorn; 184 pages, finished 12/26,
Categories: Watching the Detectives
Country: England

Publisher's blurb says: "Sir Richard's family has spent years waiting for him to die, but despite his weak heart, the old man simply refuses to cooperate. In the meantime, he makes their lives miserable by changing his will every few months, depending on which of his strange brood he favors that moment. Now he calls them together to announce his most diabolical revision yet: complete disinheritance of all the wastrels who bear his name. But he never gets a chance to sign the papers - by morning, he's dead.

Scotland Yard sends Inspector Cockrill, the only detective clever enough to unravel the family's tangle of jealousy and deceit. Each member had reason to kill Sir Richard, but which one plunged the syringe of poison into his heart? With a family this mad, nothing is as complicated as the truth."

My thoughts: Not bad but nowhere nearly as good as Green for Danger. Cockrill doesn't seem to do much detecting; the book focuses on the family and their reactions to events. David Thorn did a good narration in this audiobook edition.

Edited: Jan 2, 2:39pm Top

279.   *The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
format/source=Kindle/library, 404 pages, finished 12/27,
Categories: Numbered Days; Scary Monsters and Supercreeps; Join the Club (Dec. RandomCAT: one day reads; Dec. SFFKit: magic)
Country: Discworld

Publisher's blurb says: ""Another world is colliding with this one," said the toad. "All the monsters are coming back."

"Why?" said Tiffany.

"There's no one to stop them."

There was silence for a moment.

Then Tiffany said, "There's me."

Armed only with a frying pan and her common sense, Tiffany Aching, a young witch-to-be, is all that stands between the monsters of Fairyland and the warm, green Chalk country that is her home. Forced into Fairyland to seek her kidnapped brother, Tiffany allies herself with the Chalk's local Nac Mac Feegle - aka the Wee Free Men - a clan of sheep-stealing, sword-wielding, six-inch-high blue men who are as fierce as they are funny. Together they battle through an eerie and ever-shifting landscape, fighting brutal flying fairies, dream-spinning dromes, and grimhounds - black dogs with eyes of fire and teeth of razors - before ultimately confronting the Queen of the Elves, absolute ruler of a world in which reality intertwines with nightmare. And in the final showdown, Tiffany must face her cruel power alone...

In a riveting narrative that is equal parts suspense and humor, Carnegie Medalist Terry Pratchett returns to his internationally popular Discworld with a breathtaking tale certain to leave fans, new and old, enthralled."

My thoughts: This late entry in the DiscWorld series is also the start of the Tiffany Aching subseries. Tiffany is a 9-year-old girl who wants to be a witch when she grows up. In this book, she meets the 'wee free men,' also know as Nac Mac Feegles -- a race of 6" tall pictsies who love to fight, steal and drink and can move very, very fast.

I liked the Feegles and Tiffany but this young-adult/children's entry in the series lacked much of the social satire that I love so much in the other DiscWorld books.

Jan 2, 1:46pm Top

280.   The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries by various, edited by Otto Penzler
format/source=Kindle/Amazon, 654 pages, finished 12/27, 4
Categories: Watching the Detectives; After All the Roads Have Led to Nowhere
Country: mostly England & U.S.A.

Publisher's blurb says: "Edgar Award-winning editor Otto Penzler collects sixty of his all-time favorite holiday crime stories--many of which are difficult or nearly impossible to find anywhere else. From classic Victorian tales by Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Thomas Hardy, to contemporary stories by Sara Paretsky and Ed McBain, this collection touches on all aspects of the holiday season, and all types of mysteries. They are suspenseful, funny, frightening, and poignant.

Included are puzzles by Mary Higgins Clark, Isaac Asimov, and Ngaio Marsh; uncanny tales in the tradition of A Christmas Carol by Peter Lovesey and Max Allan Collins; O. Henry-like stories by Stanley Ellin and Joseph Shearing, stories by pulp icons John D. MacDonald and Damon Runyon; comic gems from Donald E. Westlake and John Mortimer; and many, many more. Almost any kind of mystery you’re in the mood for--suspense, pure detection, humor, cozy, private eye, or police procedural—can be found in these pages.

- Unscrupulous Santas
- Crimes of Christmases Past and Present
- Festive felonies
- Deadly puddings
- Misdemeanors under the mistletoe
- Christmas cases for classic characters including Sherlock Holmes, Brother Cadfael, Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Ellery Queen, Rumpole of the Bailey, Inspector Morse, Inspector Ghote, A.J. Raffles, and Nero Wolfe."

My thoughts: I had a lot of fun reading these mystery short stories but the book is big!! It might have been better if I had started in early November instead of the beginning of December. I had read surprisingly few of the stories before (only Arthur Conan Doyle & Agatha Christie I believe). It was a nice touch that the book opened and closed with stories by the Grand Dame of Mysteries, Agatha Christie, the only author to have more than one story (one a Poirot story & the other a Miss Marple).

The 2 stories I liked best were satires: "The Secret in the Pudding Bag & Herlock Sholmes's Christmas Case" by Peter Todd, a spoof of Sherlock Holmes, and "A Wreath for Marley" by Max Allen Collins, a fun mashup of The Maltese Falcon and A Christmas Carol.

Edited: Jan 2, 2:40pm Top

281.   On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
format/source=audiobook/SYNC, narrated by Rebecca Macauley; 290 pages, finished 12/29, 3
Categories: ABC Boogie (Dec. J & R); Join the Club (Dec. CATWoman: post-1960s)
Country: Australia

Publisher's blurb says: "Taylor Markham is now a senior at the Jellicoe School, and has been made leader of the boarders. She is responsible for keeping the upper hand in the territory wars with the townies, and the cadets who camp on the edge of the school's property over summer. She has to keep her students safe and the territories enforced and to deal with Jonah Griggs – the leader of the cadets and someone she'd rather forget. But what she needs to do, more than anything, is unravel the mystery of her past and find her mother – who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road six years before. The only connection to her past, Hannah, the woman who found her, has now disappeared, too, and the only clue Taylor has about Hannah and her mother's past is a partially written manuscript about a group of five kids from the Jellicoe School, twenty years ago."

My thoughts: 3.5* for this audiobook edition

I found the plot of this Australian young adult book predictable. However, the characters were mostly well written & Taylor, the 17-year-old girl from whose perspective the narrative is primarily told, is particularly interesting as she (& the reader) begin to understand the roots of some of her instincts and behaviors in her early years living with a drug-addicted mother & what happened to make her mother that way.

Rebecca Macauley does a fine narration in this audiobook.

Edited: Jan 2, 10:49pm Top

And that is it for 2017!

281 books read out of which 130 were ROOTs and 94 were library books (in all forms - print, ebooks and audiobooks); 116 new books acquired (but I only paid for ~25 of them!).

Best new-to-me book of 2017 was the audiobook edition of Herman Wouk's The Winds of War.

Jan 2, 4:57pm Top

Woohoo, 130 ROOTs!

Jan 2, 8:57pm Top

Wow, awesome reading total and ROOT total! Glad to hear your best new-to-you book was a Herman Wouk. I have his The Caine Mutiny on my shelves.

Jan 2, 10:51pm Top

>216 The Caine Mutiny was the first of his I read. I liked it a lot and it inspired me to get both The Winds of War and its sequel War and Remembrance.

Group: 2017 Category Challenge

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