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Clue's 2017 Unexpected Project Challenge

2017 Category Challenge

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Edited: Dec 4, 2016, 8:39pm Top

I'm continuing the 4 simple categories I used last year along with Bingo. I'm not going to set a quantity goal although I might set a minimum. I like having the categories because it does encourage me to read more than I might otherwise in some areas. I'll also be reading RandomCAT and AwardsCAT but will not have separate categories for them.

A few weeks ago I was going over what I had read in 2016 compared to what I thought I would read, and well, the two lists were definitely different. I get so many great reading suggestions from other LT readers and CATs take me to books I didn't expect. So, by the end of the year my list can be called the Unexpected Project. As an example, one of my favorite books of 2016, a book on gypsy horses, was part of the Dewey CAT and I found it browsing through stacks at the library because I didn't have anything on my "To Read" list or on my shelf that would work.

Since 2015 we have had a mural festival during the summer in our small city with international artists coming to create murals primarily in our downtown area. Citizens love it and turn out in droves to watch the artists and make their acquaintance. The festival is called The Unexpected Project. Since that's exactly what my challenge ends up being, I'm using that theme this year, and I'm using some of the murals to illustrate each category.

As it turns out, I love the unexpected and I'll bet you do too!

Edited: Dec 24, 2017, 12:23pm Top



1. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows 3.5/5
2. Dead to You by Lisa McMann 3.5/5
3. News of the World by Paulette Jiles 4.5/5
4. Saints at the River by Ron Rash 3.5/5
5. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty 3.5/5
6. The Orphan Mother by Robert Hicks 4/5
7. Chocolat by Joanne Harris 3/5
8. The Frozen Thames by Helen Humphreys 4/5
9. The Bells of Burracombe by Lilian Harry 3/5
10. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead 4/5
11. The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen 3/5
12. Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt 4/5
13. Finbar's Hotel 3.5/5
14. Boston Girl 3/5
15. America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray 4/5
16. To The Bright Edge Of The World by Eowyn Ivey - 4.5/5
17. The Evening Chorus by Helen Humphreys 4.5/5
18. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles - 4/5
19. Rutherford Park by Elizabeth Cooke - 3/5
20. The Distant Land of My Father - Bo Caldwell - 4.5/5
21. Camino Island - John Grisham - 3.5/5
22. The Penderwicks - Jeanne Birdsall - 4/5 (Childrens Book)
23. A Country Road, A Tree - Jo Baker - 4/5
24. The Velvet Hours - Alyson Richman - 3.5/5
25. Parnassus on Wheels - Christopher Morley 3.5/5
26. Hearts of Horses - Molly Gloss 4/5
27. I Always Loved You - Robin Oliveira 3/5
28. The Widow of Wall Street - Randy Susan Myers
29. The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick
30. Hotel Du Lac by Anita Brookner
31. The Shivering Sands by Victoria Holt
32. March Book 1 by John Lewis 4.5/5
33. The Quilter's Apprentice by Jennifer Chiaverini 4/5
34. The Hidden Light of Northern Fires - Daren Wang 3/5
35. The Keeper of Lost Things - Ruth Hogan 3.5/5
36. Gone Before Christmas - Charles Finch 4/5
37. The Story On The Willow Plate - Leslie Thomas 4/5
38. The Chilbury Ladies Choir - Jennifer Ryan 4/5
39. The Color of Our Sky - Amita Trasi 3.5/5
40. Village Diary - Miss Reed 4/5

Edited: Dec 18, 2017, 12:07pm Top

Mural By D*FACE


1. The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear 4/5
2. Her Highness' First Murder by Peg Herring 3.5/5
3. The Long and Far Away Gone by Lou Berney 4/5
4. Before the Fall by Noah Hawley 3.5/5
5. The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Khan 4/5
6. Decider by Dick Francis 3/5
7. Death of a Charming Man by M.C. Beaton 3.5/5
8. Death of a Nag by M.C. Beaton 3/5
9. The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle 4/5
10. Death of a Macho Man by M.C. Beaton 3/5
11. Elegy for Eddy by Jacqueline Winspear 4/5
12. Twice Told Tail by Ali Brandon 3/5
13. Thrice the Brinded Cat Has Mew'd 3/5 by Alan Bradley
14. The Crime at Black Dudley 3.5/5
15. Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham 3.5/5
16. Fatal Remedies by Donna Leon 3.5/5
17. Miss Zukas and the Stroke of Death by Jo Dereske 3.5/5
18. The Garden Plot by Marty Wingate 3.5/5
19. Blind Justice by Bruce Alexander 3.75/5
20. The Late Show by Michael Connelly 3/5
21. An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson 2.5/5
22. Friends in High Places by Donna Leon 4/5
23. The Red Book of Primrose House by Mary Wingate 3/5
24. A Morbid Taste For Bones by Ellis Peters 3/5
25. Murder In Grub Street by Bruce Alexander 4/5
26. Closing Time by Anita Paddock 3/5
27. Driving Force by Dick Francis 3/5
28. Death of a Dentist by M.C. Beaton 3/5
29. Home of the Braised by Julie Hyzy 3.5/5

Edited: Nov 17, 2017, 10:13pm Top

The man on the left bin worked for the company for 70 years. I saw an interview with him and the artist and he is full of life!


1. The History of Pascualete by Aline Quintanille
2. The Clancys of Queens by Tara Clancy
3. Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen
4. The Bronte Sisters by Catherine Reef
5. Endurance by Scott Kelly

Edited: Nov 13, 2017, 6:16pm Top

Mural by ROA


1. A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life by Pat Conroy
2. Browsings by Michael Dirda
3. The Goodspeed Histories of Sebastian County, Arkansas

Edited: Nov 26, 2017, 1:01pm Top


1. Underground Railroad (Author shares initials)
2. The Orphan Mother (Before You Were Born)
3. Death of a Nag by M.C. Beaton (author born in the 1930s)
4. Her Highness' First Murder (Debut Work)
5. Browsings (Book about Books)
6. Fatal Remedies (Author Abroad)
7. Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'D
8. The Bells of Burracombe (Place Name in the Title)
9. Twice Told Tale, A Black Cat Mystery
10. Camino Island - John Grisham
11. Mapping Love and Death (Next in Series)
12. PLANNED - Instance of the Fingerpost
13. Saints at the River CAT (Random Cat)
14. Where'd You Go Bernadette (Satire)
15. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (set in a place you'd like to visit)
16. Parnassus on Wheels (author born 1917)
17. Decider (one word title)
18. The Crime at Black Dudley
19. Up a Road Slowly (Published in the 1960s)
20. The Death of a Charming Man (Author, M.C. Beaton) uses initials
21. Chocolat (Made into a Movie)
22. Finbar's Hotel (Short Stories)
23. Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd
24. Rutherford Park (Place Never Been - England)
25. The Frozen Thames (Appeals to the senses)
26. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Owned more than five years)

Dec 4, 2016, 10:18pm Top

What fantastic murals! Great to see you all set up and ready for 2017, now I just have to get ready to get hit with your book bullets!

Dec 5, 2016, 4:44am Top

Amazing murals! Have fun with your reading!

Dec 5, 2016, 3:37pm Top

Amazing street art and a good idea for a theme! There are always so many book bullets flying around on LT... Enjoy your reading!

Dec 5, 2016, 5:50pm Top

Wow! I'm always impressed by how muralists can maintain their sense of perspective and scale when planning and executing these huge murals.

Have a great reading year!

Edited: Dec 5, 2016, 6:52pm Top

>10 rabbitprincess: When the paintings were in process at the feed mill I went down early one Sunday morning because I'd heard the artist was going to start very early due to the heat. He had started work on the woman, had her head and shoulders complete and had dropped down to work on the thighs and hands with nothing done in between. I couldn't believe it! How was he going to connect her head with her thighs and get it all right?? I'm still amazed he could do that but of course, she's perfect.

Dec 8, 2016, 10:24am Top

Fabulous murals! And I like how you tied them in with your reading plans. Looking forward to following in 2017.

Dec 10, 2016, 4:44pm Top

I love the murals you have chosen to represent your categories! I particularly love the one by Guido Van Helten. It is in perfect symmetry with the building!

Dec 12, 2016, 10:38pm Top

The murals are amazing!

"what I had read in 2016 compared to what I thought I would read"
An ocean apart for me!! :)

Dec 13, 2016, 6:37pm Top

Interesting murals!

Dec 19, 2016, 7:17am Top

I think this would be fascinating to watch being created - how they maintain perspective is amazing.

Dec 19, 2016, 2:42pm Top

I do love the unexpected and I love your murals! What a fun way to approach the new year. I can't wait to see pictures of the murals they create this year and what books you find to enjoy!

Dec 19, 2016, 3:36pm Top

Beautiful art work! Happy reading!

Dec 20, 2016, 1:06pm Top

What a great way to define your categories!

Dec 20, 2016, 2:01pm Top

You seem to have found a method that works for you with the category challenge! Have fun reading!

Dec 21, 2016, 4:11pm Top

Those murals are absolutely stunning! I'd love to see them in real life.

Dec 22, 2016, 8:52am Top

Beautiful thread!

Jan 1, 2017, 8:46am Top

Jan 2, 2017, 6:56pm Top

Nice challenge, and I love the murals you're using for your inspiration!

Edited: Feb 10, 2017, 12:17am Top

I'm so glad everyone is enjoying the murals. It's a lot of fun to watch them go up and I eagerly await 2017 dates.

I want to do some rereading this year and started 2017 reading a book on my shelves I haven't read in over 5 years, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. While I don't think its perfect, I still liked it a lot and will likely read it again sometime in the future. 13,570 LTers have it in their LT Library!


The second book of the year is a YA novel, Dead to You by Lisa McMann. It is not a feel good book but at the same time it's not a book to avoid, I'm glad I read it. It begins with sixteen year old Ethan on a train accompanied by a woman from Child Protective Services. He is being taken to meet his biological parents and siblings. Ethan had been abducted from the sidewalk in front of his home when he was seven. He has been away from his family more than half of his life.

Ethan is uncertain but hopeful at becoming part of a family he can't remember. There are painful episodes when he and the family members struggle with the resentment, guilt and pain that surfaces on both sides after his return. Knowing what Ethan is thinking and feeling, we want to wrap our arms around him and soothe a wounded, anxious child.

I could hear a cautionary drumbeat as I turned the pages, and it was foretelling an unexpected ending. I don't know what to say about that other than that I'm still thinking about Ethan.

I look forward to checking out other titles by McMann.


Edited: Feb 10, 2017, 12:16am Top

In 1870 Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through Northern Texas reading newspapers to audiences hungry to hear about the outside world. A widower and father of two grown daughters, it's a job that suits the former printer who lost everything during the Civil War.

In Wichita Falls the Captain is offered a $50 gold piece to take a 10-year old girl to her relatives near San Antonio. The child is an orphan, taken from her family by Kiowa six years before, and now abandoned by those raiders who are the only family she remembers.

The journey is 400 miles, much of it through lawless territory and difficult terrain. That coupled with the fact that the girl (Johanna) speaks no English and yearns for her Kiowa family makes the transfer seemingly impossible. A lessor man would not have considered it, but this elderly, honorable veteran of two wars and a harsh life is dedicated to fulfilling his promise.

A well written book based on solid research, Jiles has earned her place as a writer of quality Western fiction with News of the World.

As good as the story is and as successful as this book is, undoubtedly it will become a movie. I sooo hope it isn't screwed up. Where are you Coen brothers? Get Tommy Lee Jones and do this movie!


Jan 13, 2017, 12:18pm Top

>26 clue: - Sounds great! I already had it on my wishlist after reading a review in Bookmarks magazine but you've solidified the fact that I need to read it someday.

Jan 13, 2017, 4:06pm Top

I already have News of the World and I am fairly certain that this will be a book that I love, now I just have to fit it into the schedule!

Jan 15, 2017, 2:16pm Top

>25 clue: - Glad to see that The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society stands up nicely to a re-read! I really loved that book when I read it a few years back.

Jan 15, 2017, 6:30pm Top

>26 clue: News of the World sounds really good.

Edited: Jan 15, 2017, 10:17pm Top

>27 LittleTaiko:,>28 DeltaQueen50:,>30 luvamystery65: Obviously I thought it was really good. I've read all but one of her other books and this one was the best she's done in my opinion. I'm confident you'll like it.

Edited: Jan 16, 2017, 9:16am Top

Saints at the River is one of Ron Rash's earlier books and although the writing is occasionally awkward, it's a book well worth reading.

The Georgia/South Carolina border runs down the middle of the Tamassee River in Oconee County, South Carolina. A twelve-year-old girl on vacation with her family decides it would be fun to get a picture of herself with a foot in both states. She leaves the family picnic and wades into the rushing white water river. As she reaches the middle an undertow causes her to lose her balance and fall. She does not reappear.

The local search and rescue team is unable to find the body. Their opinion is that it's too risky to make a second rescue attempt because the water is rising and running too fast.

An option the girl's father wants to try is to temporarily damn the river. This river however, is protected as a designated Wild and Scenic River. Blocking the flow is breaking the law. And environmentalists show up to attempt to enforce the law.

The media, the environmentalists, the locals, the Forrest Service, state and local politicians, law enforcement and the family take sides. Is the right thing to attempt any measure to recover the girl's body, or is the right thing to protect rescuers and the river?

Maggie Glenn is a photographer with a Charleston newspaper and a native of Onocee County. She is sent with an award winning staff writer to cover the tragedy.

A subplot is Maggie's relationship with her father who is still living on the nearby family farm.

If it seems an impossible number of issues are circling, Rash brings them together at the end.


Jan 16, 2017, 10:46am Top

>32 clue: Interesting! I had not heard of this one (I live in Upstate South Carolina).
Thanks for the review!

Jan 20, 2017, 2:20pm Top

The murals are gorgeous - thanks for sharing them with us. You've had some good reads already!

Jan 21, 2017, 12:23pm Top

>32 clue: put on my wish list~

Edited: Jan 22, 2017, 8:47am Top

>35 tess_schoolmarm: I hope you like it when you get to it Tess.

I have just finished What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. I've come late to the party, as you've probably read it's about a 39 year old woman who falls, hits her head on an exercise machine and loses 10 years of her memory. The thing is, somehow I got all confused and thought it was about someone developing Alzheimer's at an early age! Since that really did happen to my sister (although it's complicated, my doctor doesn't think it was Alzheimer) I didn't want to read it. And although I wouldn't want a steady diet of Liane Moriarty, I generally like her books. So, picked this off the TBR pile and found it very enjoyable. 3.5/5

Jan 25, 2017, 10:14pm Top

>36 clue: Still Alice by Lisa Genova is the one about Alzheimer. What Alice Forgot sounds interesting.

Jan 26, 2017, 9:46am Top

>37 luvamystery65: Oh, thanks, glad to know that.

Edited: Jan 29, 2017, 9:15pm Top

Robert Hicks became an author in 2006 to tell the story of Carrie McGavock in Widow of the South. The Battle of Franklin (Tennessee), one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, took place near the McGavock home. Their large house was taken for a hospital and McGavock and one of her slaves, Mariah, personally nursed the wounded and dying day and night.

After the war McGavock learned the neighboring property, where almost 1500 soldiers were buried in shallow graves, was to be cultivated. She had the soldiers "unburied" and created a cemetery for them on her property. She spent the rest of her life caring for the graves and was, according to some, obsessed with "her soldiers".

Now Hicks has written a stand alone novel about Mariah that takes place after the War. Unlike the former book, it is not based on actual history. Mariah is living in Franklin in her own house and her son, Theopolis, has grown to manhood. Theopolis, the town's talented cobbler, is smart, ambitious and interested in politics. Attributes that some Franklin residents do not admire in a former slave. Theopolis decides to speak at a political rally. As he begins, a riot breaks out and he is murdered.

Theopolis' death is almost beyond Mariah's bearing. She becomes determined, regardless of the risk to herself, to find out who the person was that killed her son.

From the jacket: The Orphan Mother is an unforgettable story of a woman's heroic struggle in the face of overwhelming adversity and the undeniable strength of a mother's love.

That pretty much says it. Hick's writing, there was another unrelated novel between these two, has matured but character development is not his strong suit. It's the story that carries both of these novels, and the stories are really good.


Edited: Jan 29, 2017, 9:39pm Top

Chocolat by Joanne Harris was first published in 1999 and has remained popular for 17 years!

I, however, have started it at least 3 times during those years and I'm thrilled to say I have not only started it in recent days but I've finished it as well! Vianne Rocher is single and of course very beautiful. She arrives in a small French town with her young precocious daughter and opens a wondrous chocolate shop across from the church. The priest considers her a dangerous person, one that is likely to turn his parishioners minds away from God and to frivolous thoughts. Conflict arises among the townspeople.

I love all of the covers this book has had and I don't think the book is awful. I have nothing else to say about it because as with the priest, I think there's no telling what people that love this book, many of them personal friends, will do.


Jan 30, 2017, 10:42am Top

>40 clue: Have you seen the movie version? If you did, how does it compare to the book?

Jan 31, 2017, 9:48am Top

>41 mamzel: I did see it but it's been a long time ago. I remember liking it a lot, but that's about all I remember. I'm going to see if I can find it, I'd like to see it again.

In my opinion it's an average book but I have friends who think it's brilliant. At least I can tell them now that I have read it and in their defense, it's been a very popular book.

Edited: Jan 31, 2017, 9:56am Top


7 Books read (all fiction)
4 Bingo squares covered
3 Read for Alpha CAT
4 ROOTS Read

One book planned for the month not finished yet.

Edited: Feb 3, 2017, 6:15pm Top

The Frozen Thames by Helen Humphreys

The river Thames has frozen over 40 times. In lovely spare prose Helen Humphreys has written a vignette for each of those times, based on events that actually took place. The pieces are accompanied by period art, creating a stunning visual experience.

Most of the stories are written about ordinary citizens and the effects the extreme cold and frozen river had on their lives, though royals do appear in a few. Frost fairs would spring up on the ice where all manner of entertainment was available. Enterprising citizens would rent booths where they could offer games, puppet shows, and of course food and drink. At least one year there was a booth where a person could buy a piece of paper with their very own name printed on it.

I preferred to read the vignettes slowly, one or two a night, but at 180 pages it could be read straight through quickly. A great gift for a person interested in history or the environment, the book is physically small, about seven or so inches in height and can easily be carried in a tote bag or backpack.


Feb 6, 2017, 12:10am Top

>40 clue:
I've tried and failed the book as well - thanks for giving hope that I'll get through it one day. I did like the film very much.

Feb 7, 2017, 6:36pm Top

Glad to see you enjoyed The Frozen Thames. I read it one sunny summer afternoon during a bit of a heatwave and found just reading about all of that cold weather worked wonders in making the heatwave bearable. ;-)

Edited: Feb 10, 2017, 12:15am Top

This is the seventh title in the Maisie Dobbs series. Not only is there a good mystery for Maisie to solve, but there are also changes to her personal life. As is often the case in real life, change brings both happiness and sorrow. The future however looks interesting and I'm looking forward to title eight!


Edited: Feb 10, 2017, 12:09am Top

It is 1546 in Her Highness' First Murder by Peg Herring and a serial murderer stalks London. He kills young women, beheads them, and dresses them in nun's clothing. An ailing Henry VIII wonders if the murders are directed at him and appoints the captain of the King's Welsh Guard to find the murderer.

One of the young women in thirteen-year old Princess Elizabeth's household becomes a victim and it becomes clear she knew her assailant. Could it be that Elizabeth knows him as well? Elizabeth begins to secretly assist Sir Hugh and her new tutor, a former court physician's son, is pulled into the investigation as well.

I was skeptical that I would like this unlikely scenario but actually the trio is very appealing. Each character is well developed and believable. I especially liked Elizabeth who is independent, mature, and perfectly aware of her situation as Anne Boleyn's daughter. Herring deftly plots her characters through the social and political strata of sixteenth century London surprisingly well.

This is Herrings debut novel and the first in a series, I hope I like the second one as well.



Feb 10, 2017, 5:59am Top

>47 clue: - I am woefully behind in this series but, as I'm trying to catch up in series this year, am going to go add the next one to my potential reads for this year.

Feb 10, 2017, 8:59am Top

>49 dudes22: This book was the 7th out of 13 in the series and I hope to read one more this year too.

Feb 10, 2017, 6:12pm Top

I thought I had read 2 or 3, but, looking back, it looks like I've only read #1. I must have been thinking of a different series. I guess I have a long way to go.

Edited: Feb 17, 2017, 4:38pm Top

>51 dudes22: I have to face the fact that I may never get up to date on all the series I read (or try to).

I picked this up as a BB from Delta Queen. My sister likes to read books on the lighter side, she likes them to be WWII era books and series. I'm always on the lookout for something for her and this first in a series title checked all the boxes. She really enjoyed it and passed it back to me after a couple of her friends read it. They all liked it too so I'm sure I'll be buying more in the series.

The Bells of Burracombe by Lilian Harry takes place in England in the 1950s as people are trying to recover from WWII. The book begins, as books of this type often do, with a young schoolteacher arriving in the small village of Burracombe for a job interview. Once she gets the job we begin to meet all of the residents of the village and learn about the toll the war has taken on them. Each family is trying to grapple in some way with the sorrow of sons lost to war, relatives still missing due to the blitz or changing social mores.


Feb 18, 2017, 12:46pm Top

I took this as a BB from Judy also and am planning to take this one next week when we go on vacation. I also have #3, but will have to look for #2 or see if I can get it from the library. Unfortunately I just checked and no books by her in the whole state library system. I'll need to check a couple of used bookstores.

Feb 18, 2017, 3:13pm Top

I'm glad that you enjoyed your first "Burracombe" book. I liked the fact that they are set in the 1950's which is a change from so many of these type of books being set during WWII. I thought my next book entitled Farewell to Burracombe would be the last in the series but I see there is now a 12th book called "A Child in Burracombe" - the never ending series!

Feb 18, 2017, 3:32pm Top

>53 dudes22: I think it will be a great vacation book.

>54 DeltaQueen50: I know, no such thing as catching up and staying caught up. Looks like she has several series going too.

Feb 19, 2017, 7:33pm Top

The protagonist of the Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead is Cora, a young woman whose mother had escaped to freedom when Cora was a child, leaving Cora behind to a brutal slave owner. Cora decides as a young adult to attempt an escape too, knowing capture will likely result in a torturous death.

The Underground Railroad has won many awards and has been included on most Best of 2016 lists. The attention it has gotten is well deserved. It's a brutal story and not always easy to read, but it's a compelling and necessary story. A story that includes the inhumane but also those who risked their own lives for humanity.


Edited: Feb 19, 2017, 7:55pm Top

In A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life by Pat Conroy, his blog, some magazine articles and miscellaneous pieces have been compiled in tribute to this popular author. Conroy died of pancreatic cancer in 2016.

I'm not a big Conroy fan, this was my book club's pick for February or I probably wouldn't have read it. I think Conroy was an average writer that couldn't escape his traumatic childhood and wrote the same story over and over. In this volume we read again, in fact in more than one piece, about the Citidal, about his mother, about his father and so on. Many of his fans will love it but I just find it sad.

I should say though that as a young adult I loved The Water is Wide.


Feb 20, 2017, 4:18pm Top

>57 clue: One of our support staff persons loves Pat Conroy. Like you, I'm not all that crazy about him. I wouldn't say it's a dislike. I'm just not a "fan." I do love Charleston area settings though.

Edited: Mar 1, 2017, 8:27am Top

In The Girl Who Chased the Moon author Sarah Addison Adams combines the usual off kilter family story with a little romance and sprinkles of magical realism. I can't think of another author who uses magical realism in such a playful way.

Though this was not my favorite of the four books I've read by her, it was still a good companion for a weekend trip.


Edited: Mar 3, 2017, 9:31pm Top

In The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney, 25 years have gone by since two tragedies occurred in Oklahoma City the same year.

Chapters shift back and forth from 1986 to 2011. In the 1986 chapters we learn how the victims were living and how they were thinking before the crimes took place. In 2011 we see how people who knew the victims are still grappling with the unsolved crimes.

Berney does a lot right with this book. He builds tension beautifully, a large empty potato chip bag on my family room floor attests to that. He also manages his characters with compassion and tolerance. And then there is the fact that I didn't figure it all out before the criminals were revealed. I can't think of a crime book that I've read in quite awhile that I liked any better.

I'm glad I liked it, Berney will be visiting our library soon. I'm hoping to get 2 more read before he gets here!


Edited: Mar 3, 2017, 10:07pm Top

A friend and I went to Little Rock this past weekend because Marilynne Robinson was going to give a lecture at a church Saturday evening. Not only did I want to hear her, I wanted to get inside this historic church which I have driven by many times and thought how great it would be to see the inside. It was as I thought, as beautiful inside, maybe even more so, than outside.

Neither of us knew that Robinson has been studying theology for most of her adult years. We've read her novels and knew of course that religion played a role in them but we had no idea she is a well regarded theologian.

For this lecture she read an essay that has not had published, though it will be soon. It was very scholarly and rather long. It took over an hour for her to read it.

While I was able to follow some of her thought, much of it was above my head. I would have been much better off reading it instead of listening, I don't do well with the simplest of audio books. Many in the audience seemed to be with her step by step though. There was a chance for the audience to ask questions or make comments afterwards and that was pretty interesting. Robinson is very straightforward and without arrogance but rather distant I thought.

I'm not sorry I went but would like to have heard her talk about her fine novels.

Edited: Mar 3, 2017, 10:46pm Top

Having written about Marilynn Robinson above, it reminds me that I haven't written about meeting Louise Penny in November.

The same friend (Louise Turner) and I go to Kansas City a few times a year and plan our visits around author visits to KC. In Fairway, Kansas, a few steps outside of Kansas City, there is an amazing independent bookstore, Rainy Day Books. Although it isn't a big store they must sell an alarming number of books because they seem to be on the must go list of every well known author.

Looking at the current April and May schedule I see these authors I would like to hear: Anthony Doerr, Anne Lamont, Ann Cleeves, Yaa Gyasi, and Graeme Simsion (new book from the author of The Rosie Project!). And these are just the ones I would particularly like to see.

So, when we saw Louise Penny on the schedule last fall we decided to coincide our annual before Christmas trip with her visit. The tickets were $27 and included a copy of her new book so the ticket really just reserves a seat. The morning of her appearance that evening, we went out to the bookstore to pick up our books so we wouldn't have to stand in line (they had sold 300 tickets).

As we were talking to the clerk we mentioned we were not from the KC area and she asked us how far we had traveled. It's a five hour drive and she was rather amazed. After we had our books in hand we started shopping and I'm not sure how much we bought but probably between the two of us close to, and maybe a bit over, $200. When we paid up the clerk said that Louise Penny was in the basement signing books and was about to break for lunch. Would we like to meet her as she left?

So, here came Louise, flying up the steps, and as she came up she grabbed each of us and hugged us as if she had known us for years. She asked all about where we lived and about our long drive (in a rural state 5 hours is really not that long) and we told her about beautiful Northwest Arkansas. She talked about her husband who died a few weeks after this visit. She told us about living in the little town where she and her husband have been a long time that became Three Pines. She asked my friend Louise if her name was a family name and because it is she wanted to know about the person she was named for and then talked about the person in her family she was named for and on and on. She was such a warm and genuine person. We talked far beyond what the plan was, probably 30 minutes if not more. It was so much fun!

Mar 4, 2017, 7:25am Top

Wow! That's such a great story! How lucky you were.

>60 clue: - I've already taken this as a BB from both Judi and Kay, so I might check to see if it's at the library when I go today and move it up the list to read right away while all your thoughts are fresh in my mind.

Mar 4, 2017, 10:55am Top

>62 clue: That's an awesome story about Louise Penny! She sounds wonderful. :D

Mar 4, 2017, 11:15am Top

>62 clue: What a brilliant story! She sounds lovely! You'll be able to dine out on that one for years!

Mar 4, 2017, 3:06pm Top

I'm glad you enjoyed The Long and Faraway Gone and that you get to meet the author. If you get the chance tell him he has some avid fans here on Library Thing.

Mar 4, 2017, 5:35pm Top

>66 DeltaQueen50: I'm pretty sure I'll get the chance to talk to him. He's going to be at 2 sessions, one for the general public and one for people who have supported the library's Endowment. I'm planning to be at both so I think there be some time in there somewhere for a few words.

Mar 4, 2017, 10:42pm Top

>62 clue: I loved your story about meeting Louise Penny! I'm a big fan of her Inspector Gamache series and hope to attend Bouchercon 2017, where she'll be Guest of Honour. She sounds like a lovely person.

Mar 6, 2017, 7:40am Top

>62 clue: Wow! I love making a connection with an author. Great story!

Mar 6, 2017, 9:42am Top

>62 clue: - Lovely story! I follow her on Facebook and she always comes across as one of the nicest, most gracious people around.

Mar 9, 2017, 2:55pm Top

>62 clue: Great story! I've seen Louise Penney interviewed on tv and she came across as friendly and sincere, just as you describe.

Edited: Mar 10, 2017, 9:45pm Top

Up a Road Slowly was the 1967 Newberry Award winner. It tells the story of Julie whose mother dies when she is seven. Julie's father, a professor, sends her to live with his sister outside of town. The story follows Julie from elementary school through high school as she goes through all of the joys and difficulties that young girls do.

Though dated, it's a good coming of age story.


Edited: Mar 10, 2017, 9:57pm Top

I had a 10 week wait to get this book from Overdrive. It was on a lot of Best lists for last year.

A private jet leaves Martha's Vineyard on a foggy day. On the plane are two mega wealthy couples along with two children. There is also a painter who lives on the island, not overly successful but with prospects for a good future. There is also a personal security guard on board.

The plane goes down and into the sea about 15 minutes after takeoff. There is no explosion. Still, the aircraft is in pieces and one adult and one child survive hitting the water.

The remainder of the book is about the investigation including the frenzied media coverage, speculation about who, or what caused the crash and the pressure on the investigators to solve the who and what questions.

3.5* stars from me, I liked it but I don't think it was a 4 star read.

Mar 11, 2017, 9:32am Top

>73 clue: Was tempted to add this to the list before -- will have to now, if a lot of it focuses on the investigation! Two of my most recent mystery reads have mentioned investigations by the British Air Accidents Investigations Branch, so I think it's a sign to continue the trend in my reading ;)

Mar 12, 2017, 6:13pm Top

>61 clue:- How cool that you were able to attend a lecture by Marilynne Robinson! Love her books.

>62 clue: - What a wonderful story of meeting Louise Penny!

Edited: Mar 12, 2017, 6:47pm Top

>74 rabbitprincess: Hmmm, I'm not sure if the investigation in this book is what you are interested in. The person heading the investigation has a chapter devoted to him and there are clashes between him and other agencies that are involved that are interesting. There are some remarks on the black box and what damages cause it to be useless and that sort of thing. The adult survivor is allowed one day to ride on the ship, along with the lead investigator, as it searches for wreckage. So, there are bits about the investigation but the book isn't devoted to the investigation. If that makes any sense...

Mar 12, 2017, 6:54pm Top

>76 clue: Yes, that does make sense. I'll keep that in mind. This will probably be a "borrow if I am at the library and it is there at the same time as I am" kind of book ;)

Edited: Mar 15, 2017, 8:44pm Top

The Unquiet Dead was recommended to me by the owner of Murder By The Book bookstore in Houston last year. When she handed it to me it was clear she loved this book.

It takes place in Canada. Esa Khattak heads the newly formed Community Policing Section, meant to address community relations issues. One of the more problematic issues has become Islam. Khattak seems perfect for the job. A Canadian born Muslim with homicide and international terrorism experience, he is a solid professional. In this position he is responsible for sensitive police investigations that could be requested by senior investigators in any branch of government. Khattak's chosen partner is Rachel Getty, the daughter of a former police superintendent. Though she is in her early thirties and rough around the edges, he considers her the best officer he has ever worked with.

When Tom Paley calls asking Khattak to investigate the death of a man who has fallen from a bluff, it doesn't seem like an investigation that should come to CPS. But Paley is the chief historian at the Department of Justice, highly respected, and someone Khattak trusts. Hearing worry and fear in Paley's voice, Khattak begins to understand why Paley is calling. He has reasons to question that the dead man, Christopher Drayton, is who he has claimed to be. Paley has reasons to suspect Drayton may have been a Bosnian war criminal who has immigrated to Canada. A war criminal who instigated the murder of eight thousand Muslim men and boys. A war criminal who has been legally processed into Canada.

The author, Ausma Zehanat Khan, is not someone who was fishing around for a topic to write a novel about when she chose the Bosnian war. She holds a Ph.D. in international human rights law with a specialization in military intervention and war crimes in the Balkans.

When I bought this last year it was a stand alone but now is first in a series of three. I've bought the other two and look forward to seeing how Khattak and Rachel progress. The shortcomings of this first novel are with characters. Though she has created a good character in Rachael she failed to create believable characters in two other women. Oddly in descriptions of these women she described their wrists! They were small of course because they were both beautiful women. Khattah needs some development too. I feel sure those weaknesses will be overcome. She's otherwise a fine writer.

Be warned that war and genocide are at the core of this novel. The unquiet dead? They talk to us throughout the book. Khan's author notes at the back give a good explanation of the Bosnian war and events leading up to it. The next time I hear someone remark that you can't learn anything from fiction, I can smack them in the face with this book.


Mar 15, 2017, 10:50pm Top

>78 clue:, bb taken...

Mar 22, 2017, 11:26am Top

Edited: Apr 1, 2017, 10:06pm Top

I've been really busy the last two weeks and have done mostly light bedtime reading.

Finbar's Hotel was a fine hotel at one time. Over the years it has lost popularity and gone downhill. A rock star has purchased the building and it will soon be torn down.

On one of the last nights seven of Ireland's best writers take us to rooms 101 through 107 and tell us who the lodgers are and why they are there. They are just passing through of course, and on their way they rub shoulders with the employees, some old and near their own end, some new and ready to move on.

And we get a mystery, we aren't told who has written each story. I haven't read all of the writers but I have read several. It drove me nuts trying to pick which story was theirs. As with all books of short stories I liked some better than others but they were all interesting and the diversity of the characters was amazing.


Edited: Apr 1, 2017, 10:07pm Top

Dick Francis is one of those authors I rely on when I'm too tired or stressed to concentrate. Francis was a jockey and his books are usually set in the racing world.

Decider was not about horses or racing so much as it was about a family that owned a racecourse. The family was a warring family and one of it's members pretty much psychotic. Not my cup of tea, I much prefer more horsey plots. Still, not a bad read just not my preference.


Edited: Apr 1, 2017, 3:11pm Top

I very much enjoyed this 11th entry in the Hamish MacBeth series by M.C. Beaton. There are 32 books in this series and in this case I'm glad I have that many in front of me. By this time I know all of the characters in the Highland village where MacBeth is a P.C. The mystery in this book takes place in an even smaller village that falls within MacBeth's territory.

A very handsome and charming man comes into the village, buys an old home and begins to make improvements to it. He also flirts with all the women, has a short affair with a few, and makes all of the husbands enraged. And then, disappears. This was a good puzzle and MacBeth makes a mistake solving it, earning a demotion.

At this point in the series MacBeth has been further developed as a character and has been a bit updated. He's still on the lazy side, still poaches fish and still loves Towser his mixed breed dog. He and others in the village are fun characters.


Edited: Mar 31, 2017, 10:59pm Top

This author has several names, she may be Aline Griffiths (maiden name) or Aline Countess of Romanones (due to her husband's title) or Aline Quintanille (her husband's last name). She is Amercan but married a man who was a Spanish grandee.

Three of her books are about her life in the OSS during WWII. They have come under criticism with some claiming she embroidered her experiences. When she was first hired, it was to infiltrate Spanish society and to gather information as she could but according to her there were other duties and at one time she killed a man. Whether entirely truthful or not, the books are entertaining.

It was through her work during the war that she met her future husband. After the war they married and lived in Madrid and at her husband's ancestral home, Pascualete. Actually, he knew nothing about Pascualete, and had never lived there until she saw it and went bonkers for it.

She wanted to restore the estate, parts of it were 12th century, and she did. But she also dove into records as old as the house and eventually compiled the history of the house.

I admire her gumption, and her desire to preserve the history of the house and area, but reading about her searching for and digging through 12th and 13th century records is not that compelling.


Edited: Apr 17, 2017, 3:46pm Top

Michael Dirda is a well known American bibliophile. A longtime columnist for The Washington Post, he won the Pulitzer for criticism in 1993.

Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living With Books is a collection of 50 pieces he wrote for The American Scholar between February 2012 and February 2013. The essays touch on every aspect of book reading, buying and collecting. Current books are not his primary literary interest, instead he likes older and largely unknown books for his personal collecting and reading. He is a genre reader, loves science fiction, mysteries and fiction from an earlier time. Favorite authors? Well, among them are Georgette Heyer and H.P. Lovecraft. As you can see, he is not a literary snob.

Occasionally he lists books because he's asked for recommendations regularly. One of the lists I particularly like is for holiday gift giving. He begins the list for people aged 1 - 4. Among the adult fiction is Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos, and The Locusts Have No King by Dawn Powell.

One of the endearing things about Dirda is that he, like you and I, just can't stop buying books. He has so many that he rotates what's on his shelves. Books that aren't on the shelves are in the basement in boxes. He'll take a box upstairs from time to time, put the books in it on the shelves filling the box back up with those he's removed from the bookcase. Why go to all this trouble? Because he loves seeing his books.

I'm giving the book 4* although I can't say each essay held my undivided attention. Some were just not my particular interest, but those that were I could read many more times than once. Here's the thing, Michael Dirda is the real deal. He loves the touch, the smell, the company of books as well as the company of book people. As you know, it takes one to know one. I'm giving him 50*.

Apr 14, 2017, 11:44pm Top

In The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant a twenty-two year-old granddaughter asks her grandmother, "How did you get to be the woman you are today"? The question is asked in 1985, the grandmother, Addie, was born in 1900. The book is the answer to the question.

Addie's story is interesting, due in great part to the changing attitudes toward women and the roles they could/should play during the eighty-five years. There isn't much depth to the story though, and that's a disappointment. I was particularly irritated by the love at first sight romance between Addie and her husband. Those pages read like a romance novel.

Overall I liked the first three quarters of the book okay but became less interested in the last quarter.


Apr 18, 2017, 3:58pm Top

>85 clue: Ooh, definite book bullet for this one! You had me at Georgette Heyer. :)

Apr 22, 2017, 8:54pm Top

>87 christina_reads: I hope you like it, I've got to look at his other titles, there will probably be some others I want to read.

Edited: Apr 26, 2017, 12:19am Top

From Thomas Jefferson to Martha Jefferson Randolph:

Farewell my dear, my loved daughter, Adieu!
The last pang of life is in parting from you!
Two Seraphs await me, long shrouded in death:
I will bear them your love on my last parting breath.

America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie is a novel based on the life of Martha Jefferson Randolph, Thomas Jefferson's eldest daughter. When Thomas Jefferson's wife lay on her deathbed in September, 1782 she plead with her young daughter Patsy to "take care" of her father. From then until Jefferson's death in 1826 Patsy was his companion, confidant, helpmate and defender.

One of Patsy's first responsibilities was to accompany her father when he became the American minister to France. The authors think that there, at the age of fifteen, she learned of her father's liaison with Sally Hemmings, a slave girl Patsy's age. After returning to America she became the young mistress of Monticello and later the mistress of the White House. She married the man her father chose, and birthed eleven children. Through a tumultuous life Patsy managed family scandal, personal tragedy and financial ruin, continuing to protect her father even after his death in 1826.

Well researched, among the sources the authors used were 17,000 Jefferson letters. The book is to a great extent the saga of a family deeply engaged in politics during the first decades after America's independence. The only complaint I have is that there were some instances when, even though the book is just under 600 pages, I thought more detail was needed. A good read though, and anyone interested in American history or the lives of women during this period would probably enjoy it.


May 11, 2017, 2:14pm Top

>89 clue: - This sounds like something that would be right up my alley. I love reading about that time period. Definitely adding this to my wish list.

Edited: May 16, 2017, 9:33pm Top

The Evening Chorus is the third book I've read by Helen Humphreys and she has become a favorite author. Her plots are not action oriented as much as they are thoughtful, and often inspired by an actual event. Her beautiful prose is lean and lyrical with not a word wasted.

In this book James Hunter is taken prisoner by the Germans on his first mission of WWII. In the prisoner of war camp some of the prisoners are determined to dig out. James doesn't see the use of that, he is convinced they will be found out and killed, whether they make it to the other side of the fence or not. He realizes though, that like the diggers, he has to find something on which to focus his mind, something to actually do, or he won't survive either.

Rose, James' young wife, is living alone in their rural home. They were newlyweds when James was called up, but Rose learns to relish her new found independence and responsibility as a warden who checks the neighborhood blackout curtains late at night.

Enid, James' sister, is driven from her apartment when the building is destroyed during the blitz. She has nowhere to go and writes Rose to ask if she can stay with her. The two have met only once, at James' and Rose's wedding, and neither liked the other.

How the three live through the war and how it influences the rest of their lives is largely told through their unveiled secrets, their loneliness and unrealized misunderstandings.


Edited: May 16, 2017, 9:32pm Top

I had high expectations for Eowyn Ivey's second book, To the Bright Edge of the World, and wasn't the least disappointed.

Taking place in 1885, an army captain leads a small group of soldiers in exploring the unmapped Alaskan Territory. Their amazing, harrowing, and sometimes unexplainable experiences are captured in his diary and in letters to his wife.

Through his wife's letters and notebooks we read about her own interesting and frustrating experiences at the army base where she waits for his return. An independent and intelligent woman, her behavior rarely sits well with the more traditional army wives living around her. When she decides to learn the new art of photography while her husband is away, most of the other wives are completely baffled.

Although we follow two separate lives, it has to be said that their romance, which Ivey writes about in a touching manner, is the cornerstone of the plot.


May 17, 2017, 1:17am Top

>91 clue: Excellent review of The Evening Chorus. I have it on my wishlist. Helen Humphreys is one of my favourite authors and I'm looking forward to reading it.

May 22, 2017, 9:59am Top

Excellent review of To the Bright Edge of the World!

May 24, 2017, 11:40pm Top

I am also looking forward both The Evening Chorus and To the Bright Edge of the World having enjoyed other books by these authors.

Edited: Jun 1, 2017, 7:20pm Top

This hasn't been a good month for me, I've only read about half of my plan because I've taken two trips. I thought I would read more than I did while I was away but was too busy or tired to read much. I had one bad experience, I went through my airport at 5:00 AM one morning and discovered the next day, a long way from home, that I didn't have a driver's license. It was a huge hassle but they did allow me out of Newark though it took 2 body "searches", the TSA folks used hands, not wands, and 2 credit cards. Fortunately I wasn't renting a car or I really would have been in trouble. Just a tip, if you have a second picture ID you can carry with you, it would be a good idea. Also, any government issued ID is a help. I know TSA at my airport kept the license but they say they haven't found it. A replacement was just $10 so I got one today.

Elegy For Eddie is the ninth in the Maisie Dobbs series. Maisie is a psychologist and investigator working in and around London between WWI and WWII. Jacqueline Winspear does a good job with this time period and continues to develop new, fresh plots. I look forward to the next installment and hope to get to it soon. I'm worried though that we are advancing toward that next terrible war. 4/5

Edited: Jun 1, 2017, 7:20pm Top

I received The Clancys of Queens, a memoir, as an ER. Tara Clancy is a fifth generation New Yorker (Queens) and a third-generation bartender. Just an average read, a first book that is somewhat uneven. 3/5

Edited: Jun 2, 2017, 6:54am Top

>96 clue: How horrible. That experience would certainly cast a cloud on a trip.

Edited: Jun 5, 2017, 10:06pm Top

The narrator of The Distant Land of My Father by Bo Caldwell is six years old in 1937 when the book begins. Anna and her parents live in Shanghai. Her father is wealthy but grew up as the son of American missionaries in China. We don't know exactly how her father earns enough to support the lavish lifestyle they lead, he just describes himself as "a businessman".

Anna's father loves China and wants her to love it too. He teaches her Mandarin words and walks with her through Shanghai on Saturday mornings teaching her street and building names. When the Japanese occupy Shanghai, Anna and her mother leave China, the only home Anna knows, to return to her mother's home in California. Her father, saying there is too much opportunity for him to leave, remains. Anna, through memory and later through her father's journals, continues to tell her family's story, a story of betrayal, reconciliation, and love.

Its hard to believe that this is Caldwell's first novel. She grabs our attention from the beginning: My father was a millionaire in the 1930s. Polo ponies, a Sikh chauffeur, a villa on eight acres in Hungjao, in the western part of the city. Nights out with my mother at the Cercle Sportif Francais, the Venus Cafe, the Cathay Hotel, the Del Monte - these were the details of his life. He was also an insurance salesman and a smuggler, an importer-exporter and a prisoner, a borrower and a spender, leading, much of the time, a charmed life, always seeming to play the odds and for a long time coming out on top.

With this one book Caldwell has become a favorite author. Unfortunately, she has only written one other book so far.


Edited: Jun 10, 2017, 10:27pm Top

After a nasty fall last Sunday, I've had an uncomfortable week. On Wednesday I caved in and went to the ER to have my left side checked out, dang, did it ever hurt! I hadn't been able to sleep in the bed at all, but I was able to sleep a few hours here and there in the recliner. Since I'm retired I can get by with sleeping day or night.

I was lucky in that there was only deep bruising and no broken bones. The Dr. told me to continue to take OTC meds (although I couldn't tell they were helping much if any) and that the pain would lessen, but could remain to some extent for TWO MONTHS! I surely hope not.

So I have not done much reading but I was able to finish John Grisham's new one, Camino Island tonight.

I liked Grisham's early books but after awhile I fell off his wagon and didn't try any more until 2015 when Gray Mountain came out. It was a DNF for me. So, why would I even try this one? Well, stolen Fitzgerald manuscripts, rare books and bookstores were the lure.

The plot is simple but there are a few edge of the seat moments and the characters are good. In my case it was the right book for the time, but I think anyone that likes his books will be pleased with this one.


Jun 11, 2017, 9:21am Top

Ouch ouch ouch - I hope that the pain disappears a lot quicker than 2 months! Take care, and get well soon!

Jun 12, 2017, 5:29pm Top

Ouch! Hope you're feeling better soon and that you have lots of lovely books to read while you recover.

Jun 12, 2017, 7:36pm Top

So sorry to read of your fall. I hope the pain does lessen soon and you can at least sleep in your own bed.

Jun 13, 2017, 8:34am Top

>100 clue: Oh no! So sorry to hear that. Take good care of yourself! I'm glad that you got checked out.

Jun 18, 2017, 1:02pm Top

>96 clue: - Wow on the airport and no ID travel experience! Glad you were still able to travel. My last trip home I watched as a last minute traveler couldn't find his photo ID to get on his flight. Luckily, after much frantic searching the girl at the gate asked if she could check his coat pockets for him. We had both watched him frantically go through his pockets but I guess she thought his search had been a bit to cursory so she offered and - surprise, surprise - she did find his driver's license in one of the inside pockets. Not the same as your experience but I can just imagine how frantic that must have been for you when you couldn't locate your ID.

>100 clue: - Oh Geez.... Glad to learn that you did not suffer any broken bones! I understand from a friend of mine that deep bruising can be very painful and slow for recovery. I hope you are taking things easy and are on the mend!

Edited: Jul 1, 2017, 1:14pm Top

>101 Jackie_K:, >102 rabbitprincess:, >103 DeltaQueen50:. >104 VictoriaPL:, >105 lkernagh:

Thanks for the well wishes, I'm doing much better.

I wanted to pass on what I've decided caused the fall because it might prevent someone else from injury:

There was no clear reason for me to fall. I was in an empty hallway in a hotel near the reception desk early on a Sunday morning.

Several people came to my aid and after I was standing and it was clear there was no apparent injury, a woman came up and asked me if I knew why I fell. I told her no, that I was walking one minute and face down on the floor the next. She said she thought it was my shoe and asked if I sometimes felt like I had "stubbed my toe" although there was nothing to walk into. Well, I had done that, but thought it was me even though I couldn't figure out why. One of my friends, ever the mom, was with me a couple of times when it happened and said "pick up your feet!"

The woman said she had done that, nearly falling several times. She stuck her foot out and she had on a pair of Skechers, just like a newish pair I had at home. The shoes I was wearing when I fell were Vann athletic shoes. Then, when I was in the ER the nurse asked if I knew why I fell and was not the least surprised when I said I thought it was my shoes, apparently they see this often.

So, onto the internet I go and I found numerous posts about people falling and thinking it was their shoes that caused it. Skechers were mentioned numerous times. One post used the word "suction" and that was an ah-ha for me. I took all shoes out of the closet and turned them upside down so I could compare soles. That exercise convinced me some of the comfort shoe soles can create a suction on certain floors.

Think of a suction cup. It has a thin rim, usually round, with the middle recessed, basically air inside a circle.

The shoes I had on had small triangles all over the surface of the sole. The triangles had a small thin rim that came in contact with the floor. The inside of the triangle was recessed so that it didn't make contact. I believe on a smooth, clean surface, as the hotel floor was, that the sole can create a suction causing the wearer to fall forward when their stride is off.

Except this week a friend called and said she had further proof I was on to something. A man she works with stepped into his home on a vinyl floor with both hands full. Suddenly he fell BACKWARDS. Why? He said he lost his balance because he couldn't pick up his foot. When he fell back he hit his head on the door frame and ended up with 4 staples in the back of his head.

When I looked at my shoes I found that the older shoes did not have a surface that I thought would be a problem but the new ones did. I have several Skechers and I have one pair that I think could create a suction on the right floor. Like applying a suction to cup on my front door, the surface has to be flat and clean.

That's my theory at least. I've become such an evangelist that I'm practically asking strangers if I can check their shoes!

Edited: Jul 1, 2017, 2:02pm Top

I've been in one of those reading slumps, I started several books that I couldn't get into and put aside to try later.

I got this from overdrive for Kindle and when my week was up I was at 85% read. I tried to renew it but someone had it on hold and I had to go to the library and check it out to get the ending!

This is the eighth title in the Flavia de Luce novels and I thought it was on the weaker side. I see most LT readers have given it a 4 but I'm going with 3.5. It's a fun series though and I look forward to number 9 and whatever investigation our girl chemist must involve herself in. Or thinks she must.

By the way, is someone familiar with the way Flavia is pronounced, I presume it's Flay-v-ah?

Edited: Jul 1, 2017, 1:53pm Top

The Penderwicks is a children's chapter book that won the National Book Award and several other awards for children's literature. The story is about a family of four girls, one distracted single dad, and their adventures over one vacation. I love this cover!

Jul 1, 2017, 1:49pm Top

A Golden Age mystery by Margery Allingham. A weekend house party at the creepy Black Dudley Manor is thrown awry when the guests learn a murderer is in their midst. While not an unusual circumstance in Golden Age mysteries, Allingham creates an eerily dark atmosphere and plot twists that kept me glued to the page.

Jul 1, 2017, 3:55pm Top

>106 clue: - That is an interesting theory and definitely makes sense to me. I'm glad that you weren't more seriously hurt and that you seem to be feeling better.

Jul 3, 2017, 11:30pm Top

>106 clue: - Totally makes sense to me, and makes me very frustrated that you had to learn about this on your own. I shudder to think about how lucky you were to not be seriously injured. Thank you for sharing.

Edited: Jul 4, 2017, 8:11pm Top

I've had a little reading time between the 4th of July picnic and tonight's city fireworks display and was able to finish A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George. I've wanted to read this series (Inspector Lynley) after seeing it on PBS and apparently did read this one long ago because it was familiar to me but not in my LT library.

Detective Inspector Lynley of Scotland Yard has been assigned both a murder and a new partner, one that has failed with everyone else in the department. Sergeant Barbara Havers is one step from being removed from CID. The murder they will investigate is of a farmer who was decapitated, his body found by the local priest in the barn. Alongside the body sat his teenage daughter who was in a catatonic state. The local police think she killed him, the local population thinks she didn't. Some key evidence has been removed by the time Lynley and Havers arrive at the scene.

The murder plot was good and the characters of Lynley and Havers are too. Their own personal issues play heavily in the plot. This was first published in 1988 and the relationship between the two is a bit dated and detectives who are titled, he's the Eighth Earl of somewhere, have become a bit tiresome, but this is certainly good enough to read on in the series.


Edited: Jul 8, 2017, 11:48pm Top

A Country Road, A Tree by Jo Baker is a novel based on the WWII experiences of Samuel Beckett. Though Irish, Beckett spent the war years in France. In 1939, our protagonist, who is not named, is a failed writer living in Paris with his lover Suzanne. Eventually he becomes a member of the Resistance and the couple narrowly escape to a free zone when his group is betrayed. The free zone will not remain free, and he gambles with their lives again when he rejoins the Resistance.

I can say that I thought of giving the book up a couple of times, but that was because Baker shies from nothing; neither the extreme deprivations, the fear that comes from knowing there is no safe place, or the inhumanities of war. I just began to feel unsettled, maybe because of the current political unrest. But though I thought I might stop, I kept right on reading, the book was too compelling to put down.


Jul 13, 2017, 8:44pm Top

>112 clue: - I read that a couple of months ago and agree that it felt a bit dated. However, I liked it enough that I recently picked up the second in the series. Maybe it'll be one that I slowly catch up on over the next few years.

Jul 13, 2017, 10:39pm Top

I checked the second one out at the library so I'll be reading it soon.

Edited: Jul 13, 2017, 11:51pm Top

Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple is a very original book that's hard to explain. Sometimes a satire, sometimes a comedy, and overall a rather sweet family story. The primary characters are Bernadette, an architect who has designed and built one house that is so brilliant she wins a very prestigious award; her husband Elgin, the leading developer of facial recognition software; and their young daughter Bee. These are not average people.

When Elgin sells his company to Microsoft and goes to work for them, he and Bernadette leave L.A. and move to Seattle. The move is disastrous for Bernadette. She has several miscarriages before Bee is born and Elgin becomes a Microsoft zombie, working around the clock leading a 250 person robotic development team. Bernadette eventually spends most of her time hating Seattle. All of Seattle, weather, people, streets...you name it, she hates it. Eventually she, and consequently the family, derails. Who knew derailing could be funny? One of the things I like about the book is that although you can see the family can't continue living as they are, its impossible to figure out what will happen to them.

The author has been a successful sitcom writer and she has written this book in a similar fashion, creating short "scenes" that are told using emails, letters, correspondence and other documents. The humor is sometimes just plain funny but sometimes a little screwball too as some reviewers have called it. To me it was just fun reading.


Jul 14, 2017, 9:50am Top

>116 clue: - That's the next book I'm planning to read since it's the one I chose for the Awards Cat this month. Sounds interesting.

Jul 14, 2017, 1:25pm Top

>116 clue: I really enjoyed that one, too! One of my favorite parts is when the horrible school mom surprisingly ends up helping Bernadette at the moment of crisis.

Jul 14, 2017, 2:54pm Top

>100 clue: So sorry to hear about your fall. I fell on ice in January and suffered a concussion. When I was checked at the hospital I was too concerned about the concussion that I didn't even mention I hurt my back. I don't know if mentioning it would have helped anyway, but it progressed to become severe back pain. It lasted over two months and was so bad it required a trip to emergency. I hope yours clears up soon and completely.

>106 clue: Your shoe findings are very interesting. I'm off to check my shoes right now, including all the Skechers!

Jul 14, 2017, 4:53pm Top

>116 clue: - The Semple book is such a perfect summer read, IMO. Glad to see you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Jul 24, 2017, 12:39pm Top

>118 christina_reads: I liked that too.

>119 VivienneR: I'm fine now and I hope you are too.

Jul 24, 2017, 12:50pm Top

Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham is the first in the Fiona Griffiths series. It's a good start with Griffiths involved in cracking a large human trafficking ring. She tends to be a loner and is recovering from a lengthy episode in the past with an unusual mental illness, but makes progress to what she terms "a normal life".


Edited: Jul 28, 2017, 9:50am Top

Part of an actual reprinted newspaper article, originally printed May 16, 2010 that is included at the end of the book:

An apartment in the ninth arrondissement of Paris was opened today, revealing an opulent, art-laden home that appeared to be untouched for nearly seventy years.

Dominique Debos, an estate assessor, said, "It was like stumbling into the castle of Sleeping Beauty." Most interesting was a portrait discovered above the mantel of the original owner, Marthe de Florian by the nineteenth-century portrait painter Giovanni Boldini. All that is known is that Madame de Florian's granddaughter inherited the apartment in 1940.

The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman is the author's imagining of the person that owned this beautiful apartment and how/why no one had been inside it for seventy years.

The apartment had belonged to Madame de Florian, a name that the owner was given, it was not her own. I didn't like Richman's Madame de Florian at first, primarily because she was a very self interested person. But as the pages went by, I began to feel more charitable toward Madame. Late in her life she meets her granddaughter, Solange, and much of the book takes place as Madame tells Solange her story.

Even though I became more tolerant of Madame, I do think the other characters suffered from the attention given to the one character.

A friend has told me there are two other novels written about the finding of this apartment. I'd like to read those just to see how the authors explained this very unusual situation. I've also thought about the story I would tell about it!


Edited: Jul 31, 2017, 10:29pm Top

In Anna Quindlen's memoir she ruminates on the stages of her life from childhood on. She is often funny but also contemplative. She touches on influences and expectations of women of her generation including comments on aging. My trade paperback included an interesting interview of Anna Quindlen by Meryl Streep.


Edited: Aug 5, 2017, 9:51pm Top

Blind Justice by Bruce Alexander

I'm fortunate to have run across the four books in the Sir John Fielding Mystery series by Bruce Alexander at the library book sale. The series is based on Sir John Fielding, a magistrate in 18th century London and the co-founder of the Bow Street Runners with his half-brother, writer Henry Fielding.

Thirteen-year-old orphan Jeremy Procter arrives in London with no money and no prospects. Gullible about the ways of city people, he is quickly tricked and accused of theft. He is taken before the Bow Street Magistrate Sir John Fielding, who quickly ascertains Procter is innocent and instead of convicting him, takes him home with him. Procter had been taught the printing trade by his father and Fielding plans to find an apprenticeship for him. Before a placement is made, Fielding becomes embroiled in investigating the locked room murder of a titled and well known London citizen. Because he is blind, Jeremy is enlisted as his helpmate and Fielding soon learns Jeremy is well suited for the art of detection. Both characters are charming and Alexander creates a believable setting of 1768 London. The mystery itself is interesting but experienced mystery readers may figure it out. Still, the characters and the setting are so entertaining, the fact that the mystery is a little weak doesn't matter that much.

Curious to see if the author was an historian I discovered that he was a journalist and writer. Before his death he was the book editor of USA Today as well as a senior editor of Newsweek. Among the books he wrote was the biography of Dalton Trumbo that became the 2015 movie. I like this guy and his characters and look forward to the next in the series, Murder in Grub Street.


Edited: Aug 10, 2017, 7:25pm Top

The eighth title in the Commissario Guido Brunetti series, Fatal Remedies by Donna Leon, puts the inspector in a precarious position. His wife Paola, always fighting for causes, may have taken an action that inadvertently caused a murder. The relationship between the two becomes strained to say the least.

I was startled by another crime that took place in the book. A pharmaceutical distributor began filling bottles with placebo formulas and shipping them to third world countries. The ingredients in some could cause death, and even if they didn't, the suffering weren't being treated when they thought they were. I hope this has never happened!


Edited: Aug 15, 2017, 8:53pm Top

In those days, even before the war had swept up all the young men from the ranches, there were girls who came through the country breaking horses..

As WWI is beginning the farmers are losing sons and farm hands. Even their work horses are being taken by the Army.

Nineteen-year-old Martha Lessen leaves the unhappy home she grew up in and heads for a remote area in eastern Oregon hoping to find work breaking horses. George Bliss, a well known and liked rancher, gives her a chance and is well pleased with the results. When he recommends her to other farmers she gets enough work to last the winter. Shy and lonely, Martha goes about her work with a determination and skill that brings her respect, even from those that questioned her methods. This is not just about Martha though, it's a novel giving insight into how people lived in this remote and unfriendly but beautiful place. A true novel of the West.


Aug 16, 2017, 9:28am Top

Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley was written in 1917 and is a quick read about a traveling bookseller. He espouses the power of books to enhance and change lives and finds love in the process. A quaint story, but the message of reading and books is one for all times.

Aug 29, 2017, 9:00pm Top

It's been one of those months where I was overwhelmed and stressed to the extent that I went in search of some light reading. I love all things related to gardening and when I saw The Garden Plot by Mary Wingate on Overdrive I decided to give it a try.

Pru is from Texas but her mother was English. After the death of her parents there is no reason to remain in Texas and she moves to England as she has wanted to do for a long time. A trained and experienced gardener, she is giving herself one year to find a permanent position as Head Gardener at an estate. When the book begins, her year is almost up and she is still taking whatever gardening jobs she can find. It's not for want of trying, she has sent lots of resumes out and has received many no thanks letters in return.

One afternoon while starting work in a new customer's garden she goes into a shed and finds two interesting things, a partially uncovered mosaic in the dirt floor that looks Roman and a dead man's body in a corner.

The characters are well developed, dialogue good and I learned the English names for several plants I know by other names. I also liked the tie to Roman art and history. Otherwise it's pretty much written to the cozy formula, she falls in love with the DI that investigates the murder, and she's so involved in trying to solve the murder she is almost murdered herself. It was a good diversion and I'm interested enough to try the next in the series someday. 3/5

Edited: Aug 29, 2017, 11:48pm Top

The Widow of Wall Street by Randy Susan Myers was the pick for my f2f book club this month and I didn't think I'd like it. Basically, it's a novel based on the Bernie Madoff scandal, the story of a man with an enormous ego that is fed by insatiable greed. If you didn't understand how Madoff pulled his scheme off, Myers explains it painlessly.

The first half of the book tracks Jake and Phoebe from high school to his fall from grace decades later. In the second half we are witnesses to the destruction of their family.

I became a bit bored with Jake's rise to illegal greatness, but I couldn't put the book down once the downfall began. Myers does a remarkable job with her characters, with shame, and with heartbreak.


Edited: Aug 29, 2017, 11:58pm Top

I Always Loved You by Robin Oliveira, a novel about the relationship of painters Mary Casatt and Edgar Degas, missed the mark as far as I'm concerned. It wasn't a bad book but not one I'd recommend. There was no depth to the characters and I didn't care about them. Many of my favorite novels are about artists or art, so I had great hopes for this but I was disappointed.


Sep 3, 2017, 5:02pm Top

>129 clue: I'm tempted by that one, but not enough to add it to my wish list at the moment. Gardening and England had such potential. The mosaic is a bonus.

Sep 4, 2017, 7:41pm Top

>129 clue: - Oh, making note of the Wingate book. There are times when I just need a good, light piece of escapism reading. Sounds like this one fits the bill.

Sep 5, 2017, 3:40pm Top

>132 thornton37814: >133 lkernagh: If you try it I hope you like it.

I meant to put the second in the series on my Overdrive wish list and instead accidently ordered it. I may read it before its due back but I'm not sure.

Edited: Sep 5, 2017, 11:41pm Top

The Late Show by Michael Connelly is the first in his new series featuring LAPD detective Renee Ballard.

Ballard is another semi-rogue cop who works outside the system as she thinks she needs to. Since accusing a higher ranking officer of sexual harassment, she has been assigned to the midnight to 8 AM shift called the late show. She is involved with an abduction and beating case when her former partner is murdered. She begins working that case too, but only in the background since the case is being managed by the man she charged with harassment.

This is basically a character lead plot with a character that we don't really know. It could be a good series, this was a good plot, but for it to be better than average Connelly's going to have to further develop the lead character.


Sep 5, 2017, 9:04pm Top

>131 clue: - I'm with you. I wanted to like that book much more than I actually did.

Sep 5, 2017, 11:49pm Top

I'm not going to say much about Glass Houses by Louise Penny because I know that many of you will be reading it. It's good, one of the best in the series imo. The plot revolves around drug trafficking and the personal sacrifices Gamache and "his people" will make to try to stop illegal drugs flowing through Canada and into the U.S. Rather frightening and real.

Penny does something new for her, switching back and forth between 2 different times. Often when this happens in a book there is a new chapter when the times change. That wasn't true here, there was only a break. I found it disconcerting, sometimes I would read a paragraph or so before I realized the time period had changed. A small complaint about a book that is otherwise very good.


Sep 6, 2017, 10:41am Top

>137 clue: - I'm currently reading and loving it!

Sep 11, 2017, 4:02pm Top

>137 clue: I HATE books that switch back and forth between time. I hope I still like this one when I get to it.

Sep 11, 2017, 9:12pm Top

>139 thornton37814: Normally I'm okay with it but I like to know the switch is taking place!

Edited: Sep 12, 2017, 6:09pm Top

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick begins a year after the death of Arthur's wife Miriam. Arthur has become rather reclusive since Miriam's death and his daughter Lucy is growing afraid that Arthur's mental health may be failing.

Arthur, at Lucy's urging, finally decides to clean away Miriam's things and in going through her closet finds a heart shaped box in the toe of one of her boots. Inside the box is a beautiful charm bracelet. Arthur is certain he has never seen the bracelet and doesn't understand why Miriam would hide it. On inspection he finds a phone number engraved on the back of the prettiest charm, an elephant adorned by a beautiful gem. He calls the number and finds it belongs to a man Miriam took care of when he was a child. In India! Arthur had never known Miriam had lived in India nor that she had taken care of a child before their marriage forty years ago. Now he begins to have doubts about Miriam and what he thought had been a very happy marriage.

The doubt and curiosity quickly get the best of Arthur and he decides to research the other charms; a tiger, a book, and a painter's palette. The reclusive homebody leaves home to gather clues and to learn more about Miriam's secret life. Along the way he meets lots of interesting people, has some frightening encounters, and experiences emotions he doesn't even know exist. Eventually, knowing he has the story of each charm, he returns home a changed man, a traveling man, and a better father and neighbor.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is a quick, light, uplifting book that is well written and a nice break from real life when one is needed.


Sep 14, 2017, 5:05pm Top

>141 clue: - I keep looking for that one in book stores but haven't seen it yet. Maybe I'll finally order it from the library.

Edited: Sep 16, 2017, 11:06pm Top

An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson is the first volume in the Josephine Tey mystery series. It begins in 1934 when Tey is traveling to London to celebrate the last week of her successful play Richard Bordeaux.

One of the passengers sharing Tey's compartment is traveling to London to visit relatives and to attend Tey's play with her new love interest. What a coincidence that he works at the theatre where the play is staged.

On leaving the train, Tey is met by friends and doesn't realize the young woman hasn't left the train. In fact, she is murdered before she can. An investigation has just gotten underway when the play's manager is also murdered. The same detective, who happens to be a long time friend of Tey's, is the senior detective investigating both. Oh, and the friends meeting Tey at the train are also involved in the play and are relatives of the detective.

To say this plot is convoluted is an understatement. Most events that move the plot along are happenstance and rather unrealistic. I've just finished the book in the last hour and mostly I'm just glad it's over. Having said that, I see by other LT reviews that my opinion is in the minority.


Sep 16, 2017, 11:42pm Top

I really like your description of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper -- it sounds like a great fun read. I'll have to keep it in mind for when I'm looking for something light.

Edited: Sep 17, 2017, 9:26pm Top

>142 LittleTaiko:,>144 pammab: If you do read it, I hope you enjoy it. I think I picked it up at just the right time, I've been feeling overwhelmed lately. I always have a lot to do in the fall.

Sep 18, 2017, 9:55pm Top

I just picked it up at the book store when I was exchanging a book. Hope to get tomit in the next few months.

Edited: Sep 19, 2017, 10:37am Top

Hotel Du Lac by Anita Brookner takes place at a resort in Switzerland where Edith Hope, an English novelist, has taken refuge. Edith has been married previously and is now involved in a lonely affair with a married man. The retreat to Switzerland was largely commandeered by friends disgusted with her behavior. There are other English visitors at the hotel and as she observes their behaviors and learns their secrets, she begins to question her own life.

I had started Hotel Du Lac two previous times and although I finished it this time I had to make myself stick with it. The Brookner Prize winner in 1984, it is a slow book that is primarily written about Edith's observances. Just not my cup of tea.


Sep 20, 2017, 9:11pm Top

>137 clue: Happy to see another positive review of Glass Houses. I'm eagerly awaiting my reserved library copy.

Sep 20, 2017, 10:24pm Top

>148 mathgirl40: I think you'll like it, everyone that I know that has read it thinks its one of the best.

Edited: Sep 21, 2017, 8:16pm Top

This is the ninth title in the Inspector Guido Brunetti series and it's a good one. Commissioner Brunetti is at home on a Saturday enjoining having the house to himself when the bell rings and a young bureaucrat delivers some unsettling news. It seems there are no papers to prove the Brunetti apartment exists. In most cities this would soon be straightened out but in Venice there is no surety the bureaucracy won't have the apartment torn down.

Within days this same young man lies dead after an accidental fall from scaffolding. Or maybe not. Other deaths in that same area, clearly murders, may be connected though Brunetti doesn't know how. To find out he has to enter the dirty Venetian underworld where drug dealing, loan-sharking and governmental corruption all play a part in the answer.


Oct 1, 2017, 3:28pm Top

Just wanted to let you know that I recently read both News of the World and The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper and loved both. Thanks for the reviews which reminded me they were on my TBR list.

Edited: Oct 1, 2017, 10:09pm Top

>151 LittleTaiko: I'm glad they were winners for you too.

I love Tom Hanks, and he has certainly proven he's a very versatile actor, but he's not the one I'd pick for the starring role in News of the World. My pick was Tommy Lee Jones; Texan, the right age, and a great actor that knows his way around horses.

Edited: Oct 2, 2017, 3:39pm Top

Eleanor Hibbert was a remarkable writer who wrote over 200 books under numerous pen names. She wrote historical fiction under the name of Jean Plaidy. As Victoria Holt she wrote 32 gothic romances from the 1960s into the 1990s.

The Shivering Sands is a gothic novel that takes place in the late 1800s. All of the gothic elements are there; a creepy mansion, a brooding but handsome son of the manor, mysterious deaths, and a young widow who has come to this strange family as a piano teacher. The plot twists and turns and although I had an idea who the killer was it wasn't obvious. One of Victoria Holt's earlier gothics, it was written in 1969, and has the gothic feel popular during that time. A good read for this season.

One more thing about Eleanor Hibbert. She died on a cruise ship in 1993 and was buried at sea. I wonder if she planned it.


Edited: Oct 1, 2017, 10:48pm Top

The Red Book of Primrose House by Marty Wingate is the second title in the Potting Shed Cozy mystery series by Mary Wingate. The protagonist is an American gardener working in England. She has just gotten her first head gardener position at a small estate and has to recreate the original garden.

The characters are well done and the mystery is good but I thought there was a romance element that was too distracting. I would have liked the book more if it had been less of the plot. Still, I'll read the next in the series because I think there is a marriage between books. If not, I'll probably opt not to continue.


Oct 2, 2017, 8:41am Top

>153 clue: I loved all those old "Gothic" or "romantic suspense" novels back in the day. Not all of them hold up as well for me if I re-read them so I'm a bit cautious about re-reading them, but every now and then I just need a "fix."

Oct 2, 2017, 8:43am Top

>152 clue: I agree that Tommy Lee Jones would have been perfect. Scratching my head about about Tom Hanks in the role. Maybe the idea will grow on me.

Oct 2, 2017, 6:08pm Top

>153 clue: That's a great cover!

Edited: Oct 2, 2017, 8:52pm Top

>157 rabbitprincess: I think so too. I got my copy at a library book sale, it's the first edition (1969) and has this cover. It's in surprisingly good condition. I'm going to keep it just for that reason.

Oct 7, 2017, 9:16am Top

After years of thinking I wanted to read the Brother Cadfael series I actually have read the first, A Morbid Taste of Bones by Ellis Peters.

Brother Cadfael is a former crusader who has come to the priesthood late in life. Though his monastery is in England, Cadfael is a Welshman.

The monastery's abbot, Prior Robert, decides the monastery needs a reliquary. His target is a saint buried in a small Welsh village. A group of monks begin the journey to acquire the saint's bones with Cadfael going along as interpreter. Not surprisingly, the villagers are opposed to the saint's bones being removed to England. When the leader of the opposition is found murdered, Cadfael, knowing the monks are responsible for the death, commits himself to solving the mystery.

A good mystery and Cadfael is a delightful character. I look forward to more.


Oct 9, 2017, 1:17pm Top

>159 clue: Hooray, I'm glad your first encounter with Cadfael was a good one!

Edited: Oct 22, 2017, 6:53pm Top

The second book in the Sir John Fielding Mystery series, Murder In Grub Street by Bruce Alexander, concerns the massacre of an entire family along with two apprentices that work in their print shop. The suspect, a poet who appears to be mad, is caught at one of the bedsides, axe in hand. Aided by his ward, 13 year old Jeremy Proctor, Sir John begins his own investigation and although he is blind, begins to see beyond the obvious.

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year, Alexander does a fine job recreating 1768 London as well as characters based on actual people. This has quickly become one of my favorite series.


Oct 22, 2017, 8:03pm Top

>161 clue: Darn it, not another series!! :)

Oct 23, 2017, 5:46am Top

>161 clue: Oh, this just arrived in the mail! To the top of the pile it goes.

Oct 29, 2017, 6:26pm Top

>161 clue: That's a BB for me too!

Oct 29, 2017, 8:11pm Top

>162 rabbitprincess: I think there is a good dystopian plot here, aggggh, series take over the world!

>102 rabbitprincess:, >163 MissWatson:, >164 VivienneR: I hope you like this series as much as I do. Bruce Alexander died a few years ago so 11 are all we get.

Edited: Nov 7, 2017, 9:01am Top

I'm sorry I waited so long to read the graphic novel March Book 1 written by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, and illustrated by Nate Powell. This autobiography begins with Lewis as a sharecropper's son and continues into his young adulthood when he becomes involved in the nonviolent protesting of racial discrimination. Inspired in part by Dr. Martin Luther King, they become friends and comrades. Eventually Congressman Lewis will be arrested over 40 times. This is a remarkable little book and I hope many young adults and teens are informed and inspired by Lewis' story.

Congressman Lewis' experiences and Nate Powell's illustrations are the perfect marriage between words and graphics. It's not surprising March became the first comic (I have a hard time using that word to describe this book) to win the National Book Award.

Now, on to read the other two! 5/5

Edited: Nov 7, 2017, 9:51am Top

In Driving Force by Dick Francis retired jockey Freddie Croft owns a business that transports horses for trainers. The transports travel throughout England and sometimes into other European countries particularly Italy and France. When the employee that performs maintenance on the vans is found dead early one morning in the garage, Freddie thinks the death has the look of murder although he can't imagine anyone having a reason to attack Jogger.

Police and racing investigators are called in and although Croft cooperates fully, he also investigates on his own, making the chilling discovery that someone is attempting to use his vans to transport a virus into England from France that could disable and even kill horses.

Driving Force is a bit of a departure from the previous Francis books I've read, more suspense than mystery, but as usual good escape reading. This book was published in 1992 and the Michelangelo virus is used in an attempt to destroy Croft's computerized records. Do you remember the Michelangelo threat? I remember the horror and shock it caused in the business I was working for...light years ago in computer time.

Nov 12, 2017, 10:32am Top

Stopping by to get caught up.

>153 clue: - I had no idea that Victoria Holt was a pseudonym. I haven't read any of her novels but now that I know they are of the gothic type, I will be keeping an eye out for her stories.

>159 clue: - The Brother Cadfael series was one that I rushed out and bought each installment as soon as it came out. Great stories.

Edited: Nov 13, 2017, 5:15pm Top

The Bronte Sisters, The Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily and Anne by Catherine Reef is a YA biography. It's well written and visually appealing. The material is presented for younger readers of course and is not quite as dark as some of the books and articles I've read about the Bronte family but the story is all there. Included are pictures of the countryside around their home, and of schools they attended or where they taught. There are also several paintings of the sisters by their brother Branwell. My one complaint is that the ending seemed a little rushed.

Now I want to reread Jane Eyre, it's been a long time since I've read it.


Edited: Nov 13, 2017, 8:02pm Top

The Quilter's Apprentice by Jennifer Chiaverini is the first in The Elm Creek Quilts novels. I have read and liked Chiaverini's historical novels that are about known women of the Civil War Era so I thought I'd give this a try.

Sarah and Matt are a young couple who moved to Waterford, Pa after Matt's job as a landscaper at a college was eliminated. After the move Sarah has trouble finding an accounting position so she takes a temporary job helping Sylvia Compson, the reclusive owner of a family estate, prepare it for sale. Sarah quickly learns Sylvia is a master quilter and is delighted when she agrees to give Sarah lessons. As they grow closer, Sylvia tells her family's story beginning with her grandfather's building of the mansion and through her own short marriage and career. Other characters include women in a local quilting club including one of Sylvia's estranged relatives.

This was lighter than the Civil War Era books but engaging, and I'll continue with the second book which is on my shelf already.


I haven't read as much the last couple of months because I've been so busy. I'm halfway through Endurance by astronaut Scott Kelly and hope to finish it this week. I'm glad to be getting back to my normal schedule!

Nov 13, 2017, 6:14pm Top

The Goodspeed Histories of Sebastian County Arkansas, originally published in 1889. The history of the county in which my great-grandparents homesteaded. I thought one of my great-grandfathers would be included in the Biographical Appendix and one was...but a different one than I expected so that was fun.

Most of what is here I knew but I still had a great time reading it.

Nov 14, 2017, 12:08pm Top

>106 clue: I'm glad you didn't hurt yourself badly. I had a pair of shoes with a wavy pattern on the sole. I had not noticed that it developed a split along the pattern which caused me to nearly trip, luckily I caught myself. I was much more aware of picking my feet up after that.

>107 clue: I hate that about Overdrive too. I usually check out audiobooks and I can't finish most books in the time allotted. I have learned to look at books at the end of the list. I have a better chance of being able to check out a book no one else wants. Also, I have found that when I check out a book again it returns to the point where I left off. On the other side, I get very aggravated when it goes to a different point on its own. My last book unexplainably cut to the end. Arrggh!

In my mind I pronounce it "Flah-vee-ah".

>125 clue: How lucky to be able to snag all of the books in the series. They sound very interesting.

>159 clue: I am slowly making my way through the series. I watch for them to go on sale at Amazon. They are always a nice break from my other favorite high-tech adventures.

>166 clue: I loved this series! I had Congressman Lewis's voice in my head as I read them.

Trying to catch up with everyone's threads before the year ends!

Edited: Nov 29, 2017, 8:32am Top

Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery is a memoir written by astronaut Scott Kelly, the man who has spent more time in space than any other American astronaut. He spent one year on the International Space Station, an experiment conducted so scientists could determine how and if the human body can survive long term in space. Mark Kelly, Scott's twin, was also part of the study but he stayed on earth so that the changes in Scott's body could be measured against his twin's.

In addition to a fascinating record of Kelly's year in space, the book is also about his life before he became a Navy pilot. A poor student, there were two occurrences in his young life that caused Kelly to decide to seek the near impossible goal of becoming an astronaut. The first was his mother's success in becoming the first woman police officer in West Orange, NJ in the 1970s. He watched her practice for the physical test day after day on the obstacle course his policeman dad had built in the back yard, and recognized that fierce dedication and determination caused her to meet the goal. Then, as a failing and directionless college student, he casually picked up a copy of Tom Wolfe's book The Right Stuff and on reading the last line decided he was going to be an astronaut. Both his life journey and his space journey are incredible.

Written in a straightforward way, the book is easily readable. I do have one quibble and that's with the progression of the story. It seems very popular in fiction now to move back and forth between the past and present. Unfortunately, this was written the same way and I thought it caused the reader to have to sometimes think about what time frame a new chapter was about. Are we on the ISS or are we in flight school twenty years before? Otherwise a winner.


Edited: Nov 19, 2017, 9:04pm Top

Another series book, Death of a Dentist by M.C. Beaton, number 13 in the series. Constable Hamish MacBeth had a terrible toothache and had to go to another village to see a dentist quickly. When he went into the dentist's office he found him murdered, and a hole had been drilled into each of his teeth. Ouch!

Lots of new characters since we're in a new setting. The mystery follows it's usual path with Hamish's supervisor, Blair, still being jealous of the constable's crime solving skills. Pricilla, Hamish's former fiancée, is in London but we're given hope that there will be a reconciliation.

It's always fun to visit northern Scotland and spend a day with Hamish.


Edited: Nov 26, 2017, 3:59pm Top

The Hidden Light of Northern Fires by Daren Wang takes place from 1861-1865 during the American Civil War. As Charles Frazier has written, the book is "a distinctive clear-eyed perspective on a fresh corner of the Civil War." That's because it takes place in northern New York, in and around the only secessionist town north of the Mason-Dixon line.

The story follows Mary Willis, her father Nathan, and brother Leander through the tumult and turmoil of war. Nathan Willis, a compassionate and intelligent man, owns one of the most successful farms and lumber mills in the area. When Mary joins the effort to aid escaping slaves he is reluctant, knowing their lives and livelihood are at risk, but he assists her nonetheless, even allowing slaves to be hidden in their cellar. One of those is Joe who will become central to the plot.

There are a few weaknesses in the book. There are many secondary characters and several sub-plots that I thought would have been better scaled back. Although it's well written, some of the characters, including Joe, deserved more development.

What I love in an historical novel is an actual connection to the past and this has that. When Wang was a child, his family bought an old farm house in Town Line, New York, the secessionist town where the book takes place. The farmhouse was full of old things including "shelves and shelves of books." Included in those was a diary written in a "lady's hand." In the diary were inserted letters, handwritten receipts and newspaper clippings. Years later as an adult, Wang traced the history of the long ago family and this novel was inspired by that research.

Although Wang's first novel has some imperfections, I hope he continues to write. I will put him on my watch list and hope for another historical novel from him. I think anyone interested in American history, particularly that of the Civil War years, would find his first novel intriguing.


Nov 28, 2017, 12:19am Top

>174 clue: I love Hamish Macbeth stories, but this one wasn't a favourite. I guess authors can't be at their best with every book.

Edited: Nov 29, 2017, 8:35am Top

The Keeper of Lost Things: A Novel by Ruth Hogan has two story lines. Each has a few quirky characters and an underlying theme of love.

Anthony Peardew is growing old. It's been forty years since he became a widower hours before his wedding. After his lovely fiancé died, he realized he had lost a small charm she had given him. Devastated at the loss, he began to realize that there were a lot of things that got lost or left behind. He would see them lying alone on his morning walks. A hair bobble, a pin, a child's umbrella. How well he knew that even the loss of small things could bring sorrow. Soon he began picking the lost items up and taking them home. He kept them safe and well organized on shelves and in drawers that lined three sides of his study. And he didn't tell anyone about them. He kept the room locked. When Laura, the perfect assistant/housekeeper for a writer, comes to work for him he doesn't even tell her. Even after he starts to write a story about each lost thing they remain secret. Until...

Eunice's story begins in 1974. She was unhappy. One of her problems was a boring, boring job she hated. When she saw an advertisement for an assistant to an established publisher she knew it was the job for her. And it was. The only other person in the office was Bomber, the publisher, and Baby Jane, his dog named after the actress she looked like. Eunice, Bomber and Baby Jane clicked right from the get go. For a few weeks Eunice thought she may have found romance along with the perfect job. Then she realized Bomber was gay. That didn't keep her from loving him, nor him from loving her. For more than thirty years.

This is the kind of book that can be nauseatingly twee but Hogan has a steady hand and never lets it cross that line. Along with the quirky characters there are also some hilarious lines and a little magical realism. As I was reading I didn't like the Eunice story as much as Anthony's but near the end that changed. Part of the problem was that I couldn't see the relation of the stories to each other. But near the end they intersect beautifully and all is known.


Nov 29, 2017, 8:34pm Top

>177 clue: - You've made this sound like it's something I'd enjoy - BB for me!

Nov 29, 2017, 9:32pm Top

>168 lkernagh: What's amazing is that she wrote under 8 different names. Jean Plaidy, Philippa Carr, Victoria Holt, and 5 others for light romance, crime, novels, murder mysteries and thrillers. Those last five are names I'm not familiar with.

Nov 29, 2017, 9:38pm Top

Seriously!? I totally recognize the names Jean Plaidy and Victoria Holt. Had no idea they were in fact one in the same person... or that the author loved pseudonyms as much as I love different flavors of tea. ;-)

Nov 30, 2017, 8:10am Top

>179 clue: I loved the Jean Plaidy novels when I was a teenager, especially the Plantagenet series. I've only read one she'd written under another name, My Enemy the Queen, but I did enjoy that one.

Nov 30, 2017, 10:48am Top

>179 clue: >180 lkernagh: >181 mathgirl40: When I was a teenager, I loved reading many of her books. I think the librarian told me she wrote under the various names so I dipped into several. I discovered some differences in writing styles among the various pseudonyms and found I enjoyed some better than others. I suspect I might enjoy some of the ones I didn't like quite as well at the time better now. It would be interesting to revisit some of them as a "test."

Nov 30, 2017, 6:48pm Top

>180 lkernagh: I didn't know that either! Wow!

Edited: Dec 18, 2017, 4:08pm Top

Home Before Chrismas by Julie Hyzy

I completed a one day read for Random CAT, Gone Before Christmas by Charles Finch. I don't want to say much about it because I know others are going to read it as well. I particularly like the books in this series in which Charles' brother Edmund is included as he is in this one. The plot revolves around a young Grenadier that goes missing a few days before Christmas. After the mystery is solved we learn what a good and generous heart Charles has.

Series books with a Christmas theme are often given short shrift by the author, but this is written and plotted as well as others in the series. A warm Christmas story.


Dec 7, 2017, 3:58pm Top

I'm hoping to get to that one this weekend. So happy to hear that Edmund is in it as I am like in you in that I find the books he is in really enjoyable. Must be something about their brotherly dynamic.

Edited: Dec 18, 2017, 12:26am Top

The Chilbury Ladies Choir by Jennifer Ryan

The Chilbury Ladies Choir takes place in a village in England as WWII is beginning. Discontent arises when the church choir is disbanded by the vicar because the men have gone to war. At first the women in the choir just grumble but soon decide they are in fact going to continue as an all ladies choir. This might not have happened had a new professor of music at the local college not moved to town. When she heard of this nonsense, she immediately scheduled a choir practice and took over leading the choir. The choir that within months won a village choir vs village choir competition.

From this start the plot follows the choir members, the youngest being 13, and some of their family through letters or through diary entries. Beginning in March 1940 and concluding 6 months later, a lot happens in that time of change including romance, birth, death, and a considerable amount of drama.

Similar to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Peel Society this is a bit more serious and imo better written. If you liked Guernsey, you would probably like this as well.


Edited: Dec 18, 2017, 4:06pm Top

Home of the Braised by Julie Hyzy

Another TBR off the shelf for this year, Home Of The Braised by Julie Hyzy, the 7th in the White House Chef Mystery series. The White House chef gets herself in trouble once again, and marries her Secret Service sweetheart. I'm so glad I don't cook for over 400 people. The 400 people are glad too!


Edited: Dec 20, 2017, 9:47am Top

The Color of Our Sky by Amita Trasi

I finished this book about a week ago but have been thinking about what to say about it. It's very good, but hard to describe.

It takes place in India between 1986 and 2008. It follows two characters, girls of about the same age, Tara and Mukta. Tara has a good father and mother and lives in Mumbai while Mukta lives with her grandmother and mother in a small village called Ganipur.

Tara's father is a good man, he has dedicated his adult life to helping street children. Mukta's situation is quite different. She comes from a long line of devdasis, the practice of a cult that dedicates their daughters to the Goddess Yellamma. Mukta didn't understand her body didn't belong to her until she was about thirteen and taken from her family to serve as a prostitute, as her mother and grandmother had before her.

Tara's father was also from Ganipur and on one of his trips to see his mother, he is made aware of Mukta and with misgiving, takes her back to Mumbai and to his home. Tara and Mukta become the best of friends although Mukta works as a servant in their home.

Unexplainably, after several years, Mukta disappears one night after they have all gone to bed. Tara's mother has died, and Tara's father eventually decides to leave India and he and Tara immigrate to America. After his death, and 11 years after Mukta has disappeared, Tara returns to India determined to find her lost friend.

The author, Amita Trasi, is Indian and from Mumbai, but currently living in Houston. This is her first novel but it seems written by a more experienced writer. Unfortunately I didn't think the last part of the book was as strong as the first and both the characters and the plot suffered. Still, I thought it was fascinating and well worth reading. Trasi is a writer I'll follow.


Dec 23, 2017, 8:03pm Top

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

Edited: Dec 25, 2017, 10:40pm Top

>189 lkernagh: Thanks Lori.

Reading in bits as I had spare minutes over the last few days, I have finished Village School by Miss Read. The right book for the time. 4/5

I don't expect to complete any more books this year so I'll see you on the 2018 thread!

Group: 2017 Category Challenge

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