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CBL Reads from a Fair Number of Ladies in 2017

2017 Category Challenge

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1cbl_tn
Edited: Dec 31, 2016, 9:20pm Top

I enjoyed my 2016 Sound of Music categories so much that I decided to go with another musical theme for 2017. My Fair Lady is another of my favorite musicals, and since I'll be participating in this year's CATwoman challenge it seems like a natural fit. I'll aim for a minimum of 5 books in each category.

Why Can’t the English? - Books for the British Author Challenge in the 75 Books group
Wouldn’t It Be Loverly? - Serendipity
With a Little Bit of Luck - Books for the Bingo Dog
I’m an Ordinary (Wo)Man - Books by women authors
Just You Wait - TBRs
Servants’ Chorus - Group/shared reads
The Rain in Spain - Books set outside the US
I Could Have Danced All Night - Audiobooks
Ascot Gavotte - Award winners/nominees
On the Street Where You Live - Genealogy
You Did It - Crime/Mystery
Show Me - Picture books/graphic novels
Get Me to the Church on Time - About religion/religious theme
A Hymn to Him - Biography/memoir
Without You - Borrowed books
I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face - History/Historical fiction

2cbl_tn
Edited: May 8, 9:26pm Top

Why Can't the English? - Books for the British Authors Challenge in the 75 Books group

1. The Children's Book by A. S. Byatt
AwardsCAT - completed 5/7/17

3cbl_tn
Edited: Apr 15, 4:07pm Top

Wouldn't It Be Loverly? - Serendipity

1. The Not-Quite States of America by Doug Mack (4) - completed 1/22/17
2. In Their Lives: Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs edited by Andrew Blauner (3.5) - completed 4/15/17

4cbl_tn
Edited: Feb 11, 2:09pm Top

With a Little Bit of Luck - Books for the Bingo Dog

1. Othello, the Moor of Venice by William Shakespeare (5) - completed 2/11/17

5cbl_tn
Edited: Mar 9, 9:32pm Top

I'm an Ordinary (Wo)Man - Books by women authors

1. The Paradise Project by Merilyn Simonds (4.5) - completed 2/1/17
2. New Boy by Tracy Chevalier (2.5) - completed 3/8/17

6cbl_tn
Edited: Jun 3, 6:51pm Top

Just You Wait - Books from my TBR stash

1. The Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John Le Carre (4) - completed 3/19/17
2. Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks by John Curran (3.5) - completed 5/17
3. Modified: GMOs and the Threat to Our Food, Our Land, Our Future by Caitlin Shetterly (4.5) - completed 6/3/17

7cbl_tn
Edited: Mar 26, 9:30pm Top

Servants' Chorus - Group/Shared reads

1. Deerbrook by Harriet Martineau (3) - completed 1/18/17
2. Many Waters by Madeline L'Engle (4) - completed 2/6/17
3. Moon of Israel by H. Rider Haggard (2) - completed 3/23/17
4. The Duke's Children by Anthony Trollope (4) - completed 3/25/17

8cbl_tn
Edited: Yesterday, 8:23pm Top

The Rain in Spain - Books set outside the US

1. A Dead Man in Trieste by Michael Pearce (2.5) - completed 2/27/17
2. Hell and High Water by Tanya Landman (3.5) - completed 4/9/17
3. The Big Book of Canada by Christopher Moore; illustrated by Bill Slavin (4) - completed 6/23/17
4. Mama Namibia by Mari Serebrov (4) - completed 6/24/17

9cbl_tn
Edited: Mar 24, 2:36pm Top

I Could Have Danced All Night - Audiobooks

1. Anatomy of a Song by Marc Myers (3) - completed 3/24/17

10cbl_tn
Edited: Mar 14, 10:43pm Top

Ascot Gavotte - Award winners/nominees

1. The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal (4) - completed 1/14/17
2. Blue Willow by Doris Gates (4) - completed 2/12/17

11cbl_tn
Edited: May 28, 9:28pm Top

On the Street Where You Live - Genealogy/family history books

1. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (4) - completed 2/18/17
2. Common People: The History of an English Family by Alison Light (3.5) - completed 4/17/17
3. Thomas and Beulah by Rita Dove (5) - completed 4/28/17
4. Carolina Cradle by Robert W. Ramsey (5) - completed 5/24/17

12cbl_tn
Edited: Jun 24, 12:07pm Top

You Did It - Crime/mystery

1. Three Blind Mice and Other Stories by Agatha Christie (4) - completed 1/8/17
2. Dark Road Home by Anna Carlisle (3) - completed 2/20/17
3. Date with Death by Julia Chapman (4) - completed 4/23/17
4. Bibliomysteries: Stories of Crime in the World of Books and Bookstores edited by Otto Penzler (3.5) - completed 6/18/17

13cbl_tn
Edited: Yesterday, 9:40pm Top

Show Me - Picture books/graphic novels

1. Leave Me Alone! by Vera Brosgol (3.5) - completed 2/7/17
2. We Are Growing! by Laurie Keller (4) - completed 2/15/17
3. Rumpelstiltskin by Paul O. Zelinsky (4) - completed 3/1/17
4. Lion, King and Coin by Jeong-hee Nam; illustrated by Lucia Sforza (4) - completed 2/14/17
5. Un Dia de Nieve by Ezra Jack Keats (5) - completed 3/31/17
6. Carson Crosses Canada by Linda Bailey; illustrated by Kass Reich (5) - completed 5/9/17
7. Roger Is Going Fishing by Koen Van Biesen; translated by Laura Watkinson (3.5) - completed 6/19/17
8. The Queen of the Frogs by Davide Cali & Marco Soma (3.5) - completed 6/25/17
9. The Liszts by Kyo Maclear & Julia Sarda (2) - completed 6/25/17

14cbl_tn
Edited: May 28, 9:10pm Top

Get Me to the Church On Time - Religious books/themes

1. Black Robe by Brian Moore (3.5) - completed 1/28/17
2. Singing God's Psalms by Fred R. Anderson (3.5) - completed 4/30/17
3. Jonah's Gourd Vine by Zora Neale Hurston (4) - completed 5/20/17

15cbl_tn
Edited: Mar 27, 6:20pm Top

A Hymn to Him - Biography/memoir

1. Gutenberg's Fingerprint by Merilyn Simonds (4) - completed 1/31/17
2. Always By My Side: Life Lessons from Millie and All the Dogs I've Loved by Edward Grinnan (4) - completed 2/25/17
3. Heart in the Right Place by Carolyn Jourdan (4.5) - completed 3/26/17

16cbl_tn
Edited: May 31, 8:19pm Top

Without You - Borrowed books

1. An Obvious Fact by Craig Johnson (4) - completed 2/12/17
2. Judas by Amoz Oz (3.5) - completed 5/29/17

17cbl_tn
Edited: May 28, 9:51pm Top

I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face - History/historical fiction

1. Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill (4) - completed 2/18/17
2. Wolf on a String by Benjamin Black (3.5) - completed 3/31/17
3. Golden Hill by Francis Spufford (4) - completed 4/5/17
4. Lost Attractions of Sevier County by Tim Hollis & Mitzi Soward (4) - completed 5/27/17

18sallylou61
Dec 31, 2016, 10:47pm Top

Really like your musical challenge again this year. I'll be interested in seeing what you read.

19christina_reads
Jan 1, 12:24am Top

I love this theme! A couple of years ago, I was the pianist for a community theater production of "My Fair Lady," so those songs will be burned into my brain forever. :)

20tess_schoolmarm
Jan 1, 4:33am Top

Great theme. Happy reading in 2017

21cbl_tn
Jan 1, 7:41am Top

>18 sallylou61: Thanks!

>19 christina_reads: I was the pianist for our high school performance, so the songs are etched into my brain as well!

22cbl_tn
Jan 1, 7:41am Top

23The_Hibernator
Jan 1, 8:55am Top

24rabbitprincess
Jan 1, 9:28am Top

Excellent matching of song titles to categories! I 'ope you 'ave a great reading year!

25cbl_tn
Jan 1, 1:35pm Top

>23 The_Hibernator: >24 rabbitprincess: Thanks, Rachel & RP!

One TBR I must fit in this year is Loverly: The Life and Times of My Fair Lady, for obvious reasons!

26mamzel
Edited: Jan 1, 3:32pm Top

My Fair Lady is one of my favorite movie musicals. I particularly loved the costumes and hats at Ascot. And the very young Jeremy Brett singing on the street where she lives. It reminds me that I haven't watched it in a while.

27cbl_tn
Jan 1, 6:24pm Top

>26 mamzel: Our high school production ruined the movie for me. Our choir director had a lot of acting experience, and the year after I graduated he left to join the cast of a TNN comedy series. He played Alfie Doolittle in our production. Albert Finney's performance has been a disappointment ever since.

A bit of trivia - I was at a My Fair Lady rehearsal when I learned that President Reagan had been shot. Our choir director's brother broke the news, and most of us didn't believe him at first because he had a reputation as a jokester.

28thornton37814
Jan 1, 8:05pm Top

>1 cbl_tn: I agree that you did a great job matching the songs to categories. Enjoy!

29cbl_tn
Jan 1, 10:05pm Top

30rabbitprincess
Jan 1, 11:07pm Top

Charles Edwards (aka Gregson) appears in today's episode of Sherlock, and I thought of you!

31cbl_tn
Jan 1, 11:17pm Top

>30 rabbitprincess: I didn't recognize him! I'll have to watch it again. I did spot Amanda Root.

32rabbitprincess
Edited: Jan 2, 9:27am Top

>31 cbl_tn: He was the guy who had the 50th birthday party at the beginning of the episode, the one with the son.

33cbl_tn
Jan 2, 9:55am Top

>32 rabbitprincess: Amanda Root's husband in the episode!

34MissWatson
Jan 2, 6:11pm Top

Happy reading!

35cbl_tn
Jan 2, 6:49pm Top

>34 MissWatson: Thanks! You, too!

36mamzel
Jan 2, 9:58pm Top

>27 cbl_tn: When I was in college my friend, who had the most beautiful voice, took the lead role in a community production of Carousel. I'll never forget her rendition When You Walk Through a Storm. It gave me chills every time.

37cbl_tn
Jan 3, 8:33am Top

>36 mamzel: I love that song! I associate it with Liverpool. It's the song that their football/soccer fans sing at matches. I lived in England at the time of the Hillsborough stadium disaster when nearly 100 Liverpool football/soccer fans were killed, and I heard the song a lot in the days and weeks following that tragedy.

38DeltaQueen50
Jan 5, 3:57pm Top

Great to see you all set up and ready for 2017, Carrie. I love "My Fair Lady" and I also love how well you've matched the songs to your categories!

39Chrischi_HH
Jan 5, 4:54pm Top

I'm happy to see another year of music. Enjoy your reading!

40dudes22
Jan 5, 8:17pm Top

I'm liking your categories and thinking I'll be seeing some interesting books this year.

41cbl_tn
Jan 5, 9:05pm Top

>38 DeltaQueen50: Hi Judy! I may be out of musicals after this year. We'll see!

>39 Chrischi_HH: Thanks!

>40 dudes22: All of my books sound interesting before I start them. I hope I'll feel the same way about most of them by the time I finish!

42cbl_tn
Jan 7, 9:18am Top

I got up to about 3 inches of snow this morning. I did my grocery shopping a couple of days ago, so I have no reason to go out today. I have plenty of books to read, but there's also a Murder, She Wrote marathon on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel, and I started a jigsaw puzzle last night, so...

43MissWatson
Jan 7, 9:25am Top

Have fun indoors!

44cbl_tn
Jan 7, 9:41am Top

>43 MissWatson: Thanks! I do need to take the dog on a short walk. It's stopped snowing and the sun is out, so it should be pleasant in spite of the cold.

45LittleTaiko
Jan 7, 10:01am Top

What a delightful way to spend the day!

46tess_schoolmarm
Jan 7, 10:06am Top

>42 cbl_tn: Love Murder She Wrote, may have to check that out!

47cbl_tn
Jan 7, 2:05pm Top

>45 LittleTaiko: It's been a great day so far! Adrian and I just went out for a short walk. It's a sunny day and the snow is melting on the stretches of road that the sun hits. The grass is showing through the snow in areas where the sun hits. The shady spots will likely refreeze overnight so it will be slick again in the morning.

>46 tess_schoolmarm: The only drawback is that they're showing episodes from the season when Angela Lansbury took time off and she just introduced episodes where other detectives solved the crime. :-(

48tess_schoolmarm
Jan 8, 11:01am Top

>47 cbl_tn: Oh no, I want Jessica!

49cbl_tn
Jan 8, 11:02am Top

>48 tess_schoolmarm: I know! There were a few Jessica episodes mixed in with the others, and those were good.

50cbl_tn
Jan 8, 3:11pm Top



You Did It #1: Three Blind Mice and Other Stories by Agatha Christie
CATwoman

The title story in this collection is actually a novella, which later became the long-running play, The Mousetrap. I saw the stage production in London two or three times so there wasn't anything about the plot that surprised me. However, I noticed some new things about the characters and setting, such as the importance of post-WW II rationing in the story.

Four of the remaining eight stories feature Miss Marple as the detective, three feature Hercule Poirot, and one features Mr. Satterthwaite and the mysterious Harley Quin. The Poirot story and the Harley Quin story had all been published prior to the first publication of this collection. All of the stories are mysteries, but they're not all murder mysteries. The stories are all typical of Christie's country house or village mysteries, and they would make a good introduction for readers who want to sample Christie's work before diving into one of her novels.

4 stars

51thornton37814
Jan 8, 5:14pm Top

>50 cbl_tn: An Agatha Christie is a perfect way to start off the year!

52cbl_tn
Jan 8, 6:16pm Top

>51 thornton37814: I thought so!

53cbl_tn
Jan 13, 12:53pm Top

I have a book-a-day calendar I received for Christmas. I'm a little intrigued by today's book, which I hadn't heard of before. Has anyone read PopCo? It has mixed reviews here on LT.

54cbl_tn
Jan 15, 1:39pm Top



Ascot Gavotte #1: The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal

While this book is primarily about the provenance of a netsuke collection, it is also a biography of the author's family. De Waal's paternal grandmother was an Ephrussi, a European Jewish banking family. The family's patriarch started out as a grain merchant in Odessa. By the time of his death, one of his sons headed a Parisian branch of the Ephrussi bank while another son headed the Viennese branch of the bank. Charles Ephrussi, of the Parisian branch of the family, was not expected to join the family business since he was a younger son. He developed a passion for art, becoming an art critic and rubbing shoulders with impressionists including Renoir and literary figures including Proust. Proust's Swann is partially based on Charles Ephrussi. While the Parisian art world was captivated by Japonisme, Charles purchased a collection of netsuke – small, intricate ivory or boxwood carvings.

Near the turn of the 20th century, Charles's Viennese cousin, Viktor, was getting married. The netsuke collection was Charles's wedding gift to Viktor and his bride, Emmy, who were de Waal's great-grandparents. At this point, de Waal's narrative shifts to Vienna and the history of this branch of the Ephrussi family. De Waal's grandmother, Viktor and Emmy's eldest daughter, grew up in the Palais Ephrussi on Vienna's Ring. The Ephrussis lived in the Palais through one World War, but were forced out of their home when Austria was Aryanized in 1938. While most of the family's possessions were lost, never to be recovered, the netsuke collection remained in the family and is currently in the author's possession. You'll need to read the book to find out how the netsuke were spared!

This book reminds me of Thomas Harding's The House by the Lake. Both Harding and de Waal are English grandchildren of a Jewish woman whose family lost their home and possessions to the Nazis in the 1930s. The family history is a secondary focus in both books; Harding's book explores the history of a house his great-grandfather built as a vacation home, while de Waal's book explores the history of a family heirloom.

The illustrated edition of this book is filled with mostly color photographs, facsimiles, and art reproductions, and photographs of the netsuke on the end papers. Without the illustrations, I probably would have been constantly pausing to Google something mentioned in the text. I recommend this edition to other readers with the caveat that it's a book best read at home. The book is printed on high-quality glossy paper, which does justice to the illustrations but makes the book too heavy to be easily portable.

4 stars

55lkernagh
Jan 15, 3:02pm Top

I am finally finishing my initial pass through all of the threads in the group and finally caught up with your thread Carrie!

56cbl_tn
Jan 15, 9:30pm Top

>55 lkernagh: Hi Lori! I still haven't managed to make it around to all of the threads, so you're doing better than I am!

57japaul22
Jan 16, 7:58am Top

>54 cbl_tn: that sounds very interesting - thanks for the review!

58cbl_tn
Jan 16, 5:19pm Top

>57 japaul22: It is an interesting book, and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it!

59cbl_tn
Jan 18, 10:29pm Top



Servants' Chorus #1: Deerbrook by Harriet Martineau
CATwoman

Deerbrook reminded me of a 19th century soap opera. Like Dallas or Dynasty, there are rival families (or, at least, rival women) who use local gossip to promote themselves and denigrate their rivals. The arrival of the Grey's city cousins, Hester and Margaret, provides new fodder for the local gossip mill. It doesn't take long for the two most eligible bachelors, physician Edward Hope and law student Philip Enderby, to seek out the sisters' company. The gossips assume that men will naturally prefer the beautiful elder sister, Hester, but both men are attracted more by Margaret's personality. This will lead to worlds of trouble, particularly since Mr. Enderby is the brother of Mrs. Grey's social rival, Mrs. Rowland. Mrs. Rowland has other plans for her brother.

The novel's main purpose is didactic, and the entertainment value is secondary to this purpose. Also, Margaret may come across as a Mary Sue to modern readers. However, many of the issues raised in the novel are still problems today. What are unsubstantiated rumors or false reports if not “fake news”? And don't we still see people shunned and businesses boycotted because they voted for a candidate that others don't like, even when that candidate won the election? This novel will still speak to today's readers who are willing to tolerate the heavy-handed dialogue.

3 stars

60cbl_tn
Jan 24, 7:24am Top

Today's calendar book is another one I've never heard of, and it sounds like it might be right up my alley. Has anyone here read The Bottoms? It's an Edgar winner and it was nominated for several other crime/mystery awards, too. The public library has a few copies so I've added it to my wishlist there.

61DeltaQueen50
Jan 24, 2:53pm Top

>60 cbl_tn: Carrie, I haven't read The Bottoms but it definitely sounds like something I would like as well. I do recognize the author and I have the first two books of his series on my shelves. I think he writes fairly gritty, noir type crime stories.

62cbl_tn
Jan 24, 10:06pm Top

>61 DeltaQueen50: I'm not familiar with this author. The description suggests that this one is a little different than the books he typically writes. I'll keep this one in mind for the AwardsCAT.

63cbl_tn
Jan 28, 5:31pm Top



Wouldn't It Be Loverly #1 The Not-Quite States of America by Doug Mack

A few years ago I challenged myself to read a book for each of the U.S. territories. This book is a great follow-up to that reading tour. Mack focuses on the five inhabited territories: the US Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico. The book is part travelogue and part social and political history of the territories. Mack also looks at the legal status of the territories and their inhabitants. They don't have the full rights the Constitution guarantees to American citizens, but independence would bring a different set of problems. In most of the territories, Mack talked with individuals on both sides of the independence question.

I've watched enough football to be aware that there are quite a few Samoan players in both college and professional football, so I wasn't surprised that it came up in Mack's discussion of Samoa. I was reminded of a University of Tennessee game years ago. I don't remember who their opponent was, but I do remember that one of the players on the opposing team was introduced as Samoa Samoa from Samoa!

This book deserves to be widely read if for no other reason than to raise awareness of the territories among US citizens. It will also appeal to most armchair travelers. Recommended.

This review is based on an electronic advance reader's copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

4 stars

64LittleTaiko
Jan 28, 9:30pm Top

>60 cbl_tn: - Yes! I read that book many years ago. Primarily loved it since I grew up in East Texas and completely understood the setting and the title.

65cbl_tn
Jan 29, 5:23pm Top

>64 LittleTaiko: Good to know! I hope I can squeeze it in during the Edgar month in AwardsCAT.

66cbl_tn
Jan 29, 5:47pm Top



Get Me To the Church On Time #1: Black Robe by Brian Moore

Father Laforgue, a Jesuit priest, is a recent arrival to New France. After two years of language study, he is sent to join a remote mission. A group of Algonkins have been paid to guide Laforgue and a young lay assistant, Daniel, to the mission. Daniel has his own reason for making the trip. He is secretly in love with one of the young Algonkin women. Although the Algonkins have agreed to take the Normans (as they call the French) to the mission, there is a deep mistrust between the cultures, and neither side is fully aware of their failure to understand the other. Not everyone who set out on the journey will arrive at the destination.

This novel is primarily a character study of Father Lafargue, although the perspective occasionally shifts to other characters. Lafargue experiences a crisis of faith during the journey. He isn't the same man at the end of the journey as he was at the beginning. His crisis of faith is similar to that of the Jesuit priest in Endo's Silence. This book covers the same themes as Joseph Boyden's The Orenda. Moore's preface cites the Jesuit Relations for source material, and Boyden seems to have drawn on the same source for his novel. Boyden's characters have much more depth. This is a good novel, but it suffers by comparison to both Endo and Boyden. Silence and The Orenda were both 5 star reads for me.

3.5 stars

67cbl_tn
Jan 31, 8:40am Top

I put all my eggs in one basket with the January ER batch and it paid off. I'm getting an ARC of New Boy, which is Tracy Chevalier's contribution to the Hogarth Shakespeare series. I'll try to read Othello while I'm waiting for the ARC to arrive.

68thornton37814
Jan 31, 9:52am Top

>67 cbl_tn: I requested that one but didn't get it. However, I do think I'll enjoy the one I got. I know we'll get Chevalier's book at the library so I can read it then.

69cbl_tn
Jan 31, 12:47pm Top

>68 thornton37814: It will be my first Tracy Chevalier book. She's been on my radar for a while, but I haven't managed to read any of her novels yet.

70thornton37814
Jan 31, 7:49pm Top

>70 thornton37814: Yes. We usually order her books, and they check out well.

71cbl_tn
Feb 1, 6:45pm Top



A Hymn to Him #1: Gutenberg's Fingerprint by Merilyn Simonds

In this memoir, Canadian author Merilyn Simonds recounts the production process of a limited edition collection of her flash fiction, The Paradise Project. Simonds collaborated with a local printer with a handpress who set the type, mixed the ink, and printed the book. Simonds' son designed block prints to illustrate the volume. A local paper maker used plants from Simonds' garden to make the endpapers for the book. The Paradise Project was later released as an ebook, and Simonds also recounts the design and production process for the electronic version of the book. Simonds reflects on the history of paper, printing, ink, and books, and she speculates about the future of authorship and reading in the digital world. After journeying with the author through the design, printing, and publication of The Paradise Project, I ended up buying the ebook version so that I can read the stories. Perhaps this is the best compliment I could offer Ms. Simonds since I nearly always download free ebooks or borrow them from libraries, but I almost never purchase them.

This review is based on an electronic advance readers' copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

4 stars

72cbl_tn
Feb 1, 7:02pm Top

January Recap

Why Can’t the English? - Books for the British Author Challenge in the 75 Books group – 0/5

Wouldn’t It Be Loverly? - Serendipity – 1/5
The Not-Quite States of America by Doug Mack (4)

With a Little Bit of Luck - Books for the Bingo Dog – 0/5

I’m an Ordinary (Wo)Man - Books by women authors – 0/5

Just You Wait - TBRs – 0/5

Servants’ Chorus - Group/shared reads – 1/5
Deerbrook by Harriet Martineau (3)

The Rain in Spain - Books set outside the US – 0/5

I Could Have Danced All Night - Audiobooks – 0/5

Ascot Gavotte - Award winners/nominees – 1/5
The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal (4)

On the Street Where You Live - Genealogy – 0/5

You Did It - Crime/Mystery – 1/5
Three Blind Mice and Other Stories by Agatha Christie (4)

Show Me - Picture books/graphic novels – 0/5

Get Me to the Church on Time - About religion/religious theme – 1/5
Black Robe by Brian Moore (3.5)

A Hymn to Him - Biography/memoir – 1/5
Gutenberg's Fingerprint by Merilyn Simonds (4)

Without You - Borrowed books – 0/5

I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face - History/Historical fiction – 0/5

Physical books borrowed: 3
Ebooks owned: 1
Ebooks borrowed: 2
ARCs: 2

Best of the month: The Not-Quite States of America by Doug Mack
Worst of the month: Nothing below average this month!

73cbl_tn
Edited: Feb 2, 8:51pm Top



I'm an Ordinary (Wo)man #1: The Paradise Project by Merilyn Simonds

After reading an ARC of Gutenberg's Fingerprint about the preparation of a hand-typeset and hand-printed limited edition of The Paradise Project, I was eager to read the stories in this collection. All of the stories have a gardening theme. They're very short; this review is longer than at least one of the stories. There are 17 stories in the collection, and the print edition has just 48 pages. This was my first experience with flash fiction, and it was nearly perfect. These stories may be brief, but they're deep, and no words are wasted. Some read almost like prose poems. The universal themes will resonate with most readers. Enthusiastically recommended.

4.5 stars

74-Eva-
Feb 6, 1:23am Top

Dropping a comment so that I get to follow your thread - happy reading! (I'm a little behind, so apologies for the generic comment - better to come, I hope.) :)

75cbl_tn
Feb 6, 6:41pm Top

>74 -Eva-: Hi Eva! I'm off to a slow start this year and I haven't made it around to many threads yet. I will come and find you!

76cbl_tn
Feb 6, 6:42pm Top



The Servants' Chorus #2: Many Waters by Madeline L'Engle (for my RL book club)

15-year-old twins Dennys and Sandy accidentally transport themselves from their mother's home laboratory to the days of Noah, just before the flood. The twins are tall for their age, but they're giants compared to the humans of Noah's age. Dennys and Sandy are at first mistaken for the nephilim, the shape-shifting giants who have begun to take human wives. They soon become accustomed to other strange creatures like mammoths and the shape-shifting seraphim. The twins become part of Noah's household and they grow attached to his family, especially his young daughter, Yalith. But what will become of Yalith once the ark is built? They know the story. Only Noah, his three sons, and their wives will be passengers on the ark.

This is the fourth book in L'Engle's Time Quartet, but it will stand on its own. Most readers will be familiar with the basic story elements of Noah and the ark. Additional familiarity with Genesis, the patriarchal era, Old Testament theology, and biblical cosmology will add depth to the novel. L'Engle is evidently well-versed in these subjects.

This book is marketed for grade 5 and up/age 10 and up. However, there is an unusual amount of sexual content for a book for middle readers. I'd recommend it for 13 and older.

4 stars

77cbl_tn
Feb 7, 10:14pm Top



Show Me #1: Leave Me Alone! by Vera Brosgol

Poor grandma. She wants to knit warm winter clothes for her grandchildren, but she can't find a quiet spot to sit and knit. She leaves home in search of a quiet place to knit, but no matter how far she goes, no one will leave her alone. Not the bears, not the goats, not even the men in the moon! Fortunately, grandma knows her physics, and she finally finds a place to get that knitting done.

I love the artwork, but I'm not completely sold on the story, at least not for young children. The “leave me alone” message makes me a little uncomfortable. I see the humor as an adult, but I would want to be careful sharing it with young children to make sure that their feelings aren't unintentionally hurt.

3.5 stars

78LisaMorr
Edited: Feb 11, 12:25pm Top

>53 cbl_tn: I'm still making my way around to all the threads!

I've read three books by Scarlett Thomas - I didn't like this quite as much as The End of Mr. Y and Our Tragic Universe, but I still gave it 4 stars.

I re-read A Wrinkle in Time last year and need to complete the series eventually; Many Waters, when I get to it, sound like it will be worth the read.

And I think I'll take a BB for The Not-Quite States of America; thanks for your review.

79cbl_tn
Feb 11, 2:06pm Top

>78 LisaMorr: I still haven't made it around to all the threads, either! I hope you enjoy The Not-Quite States of America!

80cbl_tn
Feb 11, 2:13pm Top



With a Little Bit of Luck #1: Othello, the Moor of Venice by William Shakespeare
Bingo Dog - Made into a movie

Iago has to be one of the nastiest villains in all of literature. Good, old, Honest Iago. In a matter of hours, he takes a happily married man and a successful general and turns him into a jealous, vengeful caricature of his former self. Iago uses innuendo to sow the seeds of distrust, then sits back to watch what he's set in motion. When it looks like things are straying off course, a gentle nudge from Iago keeps things moving in the direction he's set. I'd love to believe that people like Iago exist only in fiction, but I fear that there are too many Iagos in the halls of power, intent on corrupting any whose nature is too trusting.

5 stars

81cbl_tn
Feb 12, 6:10pm Top



Without You #1: An Obvious Fact by Craig Johnson

Absaroka County, Wyoming, Sheriff Walt Longmire and his best friend Henry Standing Bear are in South Dakota for two reasons. Henry Standing Bear will be competing in the hill climb race during the annual motorcycle rally. Meanwhile, Walt will be assisting on an investigation into a traffic accident near Hulett that critically injured a motorcyclist. The young gang member may have been deliberately run off the road. In an unexpected complication, the injured man is the son of Lola, namesake of Henry's vintage Thunderbird and, indirectly, Walt's granddaughter. Vic is in Philadelphia helping with the investigation into her brother's (and Walt's son-in-law's) murder, but she later shows up in South Dakota to join Walt and Henry for the rally. Walt will need Vic as backup as what began as an investigation into a simple traffic accident spirals into gangs and conspiracies.

Action fans will love the motorcycle racing, car chases, and gun fights. Once again, I'm amazed at the liberties Walt takes when he's out of his jurisdiction. It stretches the bounds of credibility. My favorite books in the series have lots of Henry and lots of Dog, and this one has both. Vic must be growing on me, because she didn't annoy me in this one. In fact, her attitude is exactly what was called for under the circumstances. Walt has apparently rubbed off on his best friend, because Henry quotes Sherlock Holmes throughout the book. However, Walt gets the last word. He'll have to be satisfied with that instead of a trophy like everyone else got.

4 stars

82cbl_tn
Feb 13, 6:16pm Top

It was so nice out this evening that I took Adrian out for a long walk. Our course took us by the river, where the geese were hanging out.

83DeltaQueen50
Feb 13, 6:52pm Top

That is such a pretty picture, Carrie!

84cbl_tn
Feb 13, 9:07pm Top

>83 DeltaQueen50: Thanks, Judy! I was lucky that Adrian was still just long enough for me to take the photo. I had his leash in one hand while I was taking it.

85cbl_tn
Feb 15, 7:31pm Top



Show Me #2: We Are Growing! by Laurie Keller

Who knew that watching grass grow could be so funny? Eight blades of grass discover that they're all growing and that each one is the best at something. The entertaining surface story is a hook for teaching young children about superlatives and about self esteem. The playful language will enchant children and adults alike. Recommended.

4 stars

86-Eva-
Feb 22, 11:11pm Top

>82 cbl_tn:
That's so lovely! No geese-hunting on Adrian's part? :)

87cbl_tn
Feb 25, 12:20pm Top

>86 -Eva-: No, Adrian didn't seem interested in the geese. That surprised me, because he normally wants to befriend anything that moves!

88cbl_tn
Feb 25, 12:23pm Top



I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face #1: Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill

Aminata Diallo was a young girl of about twelve when her African village was attacked and she was sold into slavery. Aminata narrates her life story while living out her final days as a free woman among the abolitionists in London. Her journey to London took her through the indigo plantations of South Carolina, Revolutionary War era New York, a Loyalist settlement in Nova Scotia, and Freetown in Sierra Leone. Aminata somehow survived ordeals that killed many of her homelanders. With survival came the grief and loneliness of separations from everyone she loved.

This powerful novel pulls readers into the horrific experiences and emotions of the millions of Africans caught in the net of the slave trade. However, I was always aware that I had a choice. When Aminata's story got too intense, I could put the book down and pick it up later. I could just stop reading without finishing the book. Aminata and the hundreds of thousands of African slaves she represents didn't get that choice.

4 stars

89cbl_tn
Feb 25, 9:36pm Top



On the Street Where You Live #1: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
CATWoman

Centuries ago in Africa, two girls were born of the same mother. Their lives took different paths. One girl, Effia, became the African wife of a slave trader. The other girl, Esi, became a slave and traveled the Middle Passage to the American colonies. The descendants of these women carry the story forward in alternating chapters until their lines converge several generations later.

This book is more a collection of linked short stories rather than a conventional novel. Readers will expect suffering in the stories of Esi's descendants who endured first slavery and then Jim Crow. The suffering of Effia's African descendants may come as a surprise, if only because this history is likely less familiar territory to many readers. This is a strong debut for a young author, and it is well-deserving of its accolades.

4 stars

90cbl_tn
Feb 27, 7:00pm Top



You Did It #2: Dark Road Home by Anna Carlisle
CATWoman

Gin Sullivan's life changed course the summer before she left for college, the summer her younger sister, Lily, disappeared. Gin did not marry her high school sweetheart, Jake, who maybe knew more than he told about Lily's disappearance. Eventually, she moved to Chicago and became a medical examiner. A couple of decades later, Gin finally gets the call she's both anticipated and dreaded. Lily's body has been found. It's time for Gin to go home to Pennsylvania and confront the past. She owes it to Lily, and to herself.

I have mixed feelings about this first novel. On the positive side, the plot and pacing made it hard to put down. However, some of the plot twists were a little too obvious for a seasoned mystery reader. I think the California author was aiming for a strong sense of place in small town western Pennsylvania, but some of the details were out of place. For instance, I was surprised that a couple of the characters were described as dedicated Padres fans. Readers must be willing to suspend their disbelief that the local coroner/medical examiner would share details of the case with a family member, even if she is a forensic expert. These are minor quibbles. In my experience as a reader, it seems to be much more difficult for authors to improve the dialogue in their novels. Carlisle seems to have an ear for it, and the conversations between her characters seem natural.

The book's subtitle is “A Gin Sullivan Mystery”, suggesting it's the first in a series. I liked this one well enough to be on the lookout for the next book.

3 stars

91cbl_tn
Edited: Feb 27, 7:42pm Top



A Hymn to Him #2: Always By My Side: Life Lessons from Millie and All the Dogs I've Loved by Edward Grinnan

If this memoir about the dogs in this author's life reads like a Guideposts article, it's because the author is Guidepost's editor-in-chief. Golden retriever Millie is central to the memoir, but the author also weaves in stories about all the dogs that preceded her. Grinnan is an alcoholic, and dogs have helped keep him on the road to recovery for several decades. Dogs have also been the glue in his marriage to singer/actress Julee Cruise.

This would be a great book to share with the dog-lovers in your life. In fact, that's how I came to read it. My dog's best friend's “mom” shared it with me. Music fans get the added bonus of references to Cruise's career, such as the two years she toured with the B-52s and her collaboration with David Lynch. Make sure you have a box of tissues on hand while you read. The downside of letting a dog into your life and heart is that a dog's lifespan is much shorter than a human's, and Grinnan has outlived quite a few dogs.

4 stars

92cbl_tn
Feb 27, 8:16pm Top



The Rain in Spain #1: A Dead Man in Trieste by Michael Pearce

It's 1910, and Sandor Seymour of Special Branch has been sent to Trieste by the Foreign Office to investigate the disappearance of the British Consul, Lomax. Seymour is a policeman, not a politician, and he feels like a fish out of water in the highly political environment of Trieste. He's undercover as a King's Messenger, so he can't be seen to go about an investigation in the way a policeman would. The more he finds out about Lomax, the more complicated his disappearance begins to seem. Seymour encounters artists, socialists, students, revolutionaries, striking workers, sailors, immigrants, Italians, Austrians, Serbs, Bosnians, Herzegovinians, and the secret police.

The setting and the political climate kept me reading despite some obvious weaknesses. Chronological errors or inconsistencies get under my skin, and this book has some big ones. There's no question that this book is set within four years of the start of the first World War. Seymour's age is never given, but his thoughts are those of a young man. He's still reflecting on his career choice, and his grandfather is still living. He tells another character that his grandfather immigrated in the early 1850s and that he and his father were both born in England. Later in the book, something reminds him of the Ripper case he had been assigned to a few years earlier. Jack the Ripper was active in 1888, so Seymour was either working a cold case or he became a policeman and was assigned to a high profile case while still in his teens. The book's immigrant theme seemed timely given the current political conversations in the U.S. Recommended with reservations.

2.5 stars

93cbl_tn
Feb 28, 2:56pm Top

February Recap

Why Can’t the English?
- Books for the British Author Challenge in the 75 Books group – 0/5

Wouldn’t It Be Loverly? - Serendipity – 1/5

With a Little Bit of Luck - Books for the Bingo Dog – 1/5
Othello, the Moor of Venice by William Shakespeare (5)

I’m an Ordinary (Wo)Man - Books by women authors – 1/5
The Paradise Project by Merilyn Simonds (4.5)

Just You Wait - TBRs – 0/5

Servants’ Chorus - Group/shared reads – 2/5
Many Waters by Madeliene L'Engle (4)

The Rain in Spain - Books set outside the US – 1/5
A Dead Man in Trieste by Michael Pearce (2.5)

I Could Have Danced All Night - Audiobooks – 0/5

Ascot Gavotte - Award winners/nominees – 1/5

On the Street Where You Live - Genealogy – 1/5
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (4)

You Did It - Crime/Mystery – 2/5
Dark Road Home by Anna Carlisle

Show Me - Picture books/graphic novels – 2/5
Leave Me Alone! by Vera Brosgol (3.5)
We Are Growing! by Laurie Keller (4)

Get Me to the Church on Time - About religion/religious theme – 1/5

A Hymn to Him - Biography/memoir – 2/5
Always By My Side: Life Lessons from Millie and All the Dogs I've Loved by Edward Grinnan (4)

Without You - Borrowed books – 1/5
An Obvious Fact by Craig Johnson (4)

I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face - History/Historical fiction – 1/5
Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill (4)

Physical books owned: 2
Physical books borrowed: 4
Ebooks owned: 2
Ebooks borrowed: 2
Audiobooks borrowed: 1

Best of the month: Othello, the Moor of Venice by William Shakespeare
Worst of the month: A Dead Man in Trieste by Michael Pearce

94cbl_tn
Mar 1, 8:32pm Top



Show Me #3: Rumpelstiltskin by Paul O. Zelinsky
AwardsCAT

In this retelling of a Grimms' fairytale, a strange little man saves the miller's daughter's life by spinning a roomful of straw into gold. His price is the promise of the miller's daughter's firstborn. The king marries her, and soon after the birth of their first child, the little man comes to demand his payment. The queen is given just three days to discover the little man's name or lose her child forever.

This is the story my grandmother always told us at bedtime, and any retelling will suffer in comparison with her rendition. However, this story is beautifully illustrated. The rich colors and detail tempt the reader to linger over each page. I think my grandmother would have appreciated the charm of the illustrations, even if her version of the story was better!

4 stars

95cbl_tn
Mar 4, 3:52pm Top

RL has been hectic these last couple of weeks. The connection from the sink to the dishwasher sprung a leak and flooded my kitchen. The men who came to repair the plumbing decided that I needed new linoleum because it was peeling up in one corner. (It's been that way since I moved in more than a decade ago.) I wish they had waited to pull the old linoleum up until they were ready to lay the new floor, but they didn't. After 10 days of living with an unfinished floor, I got a new vinyl plank floor on Wednesday. The same day that Adrian had his first dental cleaning, and that we had severe thunderstorms and a tornado watch. Life is just now getting back to normal.



Adrian sleeping off the anesthesia.



New kitchen floor!

96clue
Mar 4, 5:48pm Top

>95 cbl_tn: I know it was a hassle but what a pretty floor you got out of it!

97DeltaQueen50
Mar 5, 2:46pm Top

One repair always seems to lead to another! That is a lovely floor, however, so there is that. I sure hope Adrian recovered from the dental work.

98cbl_tn
Mar 5, 3:16pm Top

>96 clue: >97 DeltaQueen50: I have been in the kitchen a lot this weekend, and I'm really enjoying the new floor!

Adrian's appetite seems to be back to normal today. I will be the one hurting when the credit card bill arrives!

99-Eva-
Mar 6, 12:13am Top

>95 cbl_tn:
You'd think they would wait. But, the floor looks great, so I guess worth it.

100VictoriaPL
Mar 6, 8:11am Top

>95 cbl_tn: My husband and I got a new kitchen floor a few months ago. It makes a world of difference!

101cbl_tn
Mar 6, 7:04pm Top

>99 -Eva-: 10 days wasn't too long of a wait!

>100 VictoriaPL: I'm still enjoying it! I hope you had a good meetup this evening!

102VictoriaPL
Mar 6, 7:17pm Top

>101 cbl_tn: We had a nice dinner. I know we'll get up there to see you one day. Thank you SO much for the book! That was terribly thoughtful of you to send it along with Lori!

103cbl_tn
Mar 6, 8:04pm Top

>102 VictoriaPL: You're welcome! I wish I could have gone with Lori, but our spring breaks didn't coincide this year.

104VivienneR
Mar 7, 12:55am Top

>95 cbl_tn: What a beautiful floor! I hope you feel it was worth waiting for. And I hope Adrian has got over his dental cleaning. My cat used to be so offended with any type of vet treatment.

105cbl_tn
Mar 7, 4:12pm Top

>104 VivienneR: Adrian has always liked going to the vet. The attention he gets outweighs the physical discomfort. I hope this hasn't changed things for him.

106RidgewayGirl
Mar 7, 11:32pm Top

The kitchen floor does look nice. We had ours done when we moved back and I still love how it looks.

Thank you so much for the ball for Ivy. She has no idea what to do with toys (we gave the ones we bought when we first got her to the dog across the street), but she does understand treats. My son is determined that this will teach her about toys - he'll pull one out of the ball and give it to her and she'll be really interested in the ball for a few minutes. She'll figure it out, or at least the boy and the dog will enjoy the bonding moments. I'd give Adrian a hello from Ivy, but she's terrified of small dogs. Surprisingly fine with cats, though.

And Victoria and I have been talking about a trip up to your neck of the woods. Someday we'll manage it.

107cbl_tn
Mar 8, 8:02am Top

>106 RidgewayGirl: Adrian is still getting used to the new floor. I think the adhesive odor bothered him at first. His nose is a lot closer to the ground than mine is!

Adrian's friend, Stella, is another dog who doesn't know what to do with toys. They're Adrian's toys now. He plays with them when he stays at Stella's house. Stella does show an interest in Adrian's treat ball, or at least the treats that come out of it. I don't get it out when Stella is at my house because I don't want the dogs to start fighting over it! I have the smaller sized ball since Adrian is a smaller dog, and it tends to disappear under the furniture. It always turns up again, though!

108cbl_tn
Mar 9, 9:33pm Top



I'm an Ordinary (Wo)Man #2: New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

Tracy Chevalier sets her Othello retelling for the Hogarth Shakespeare series in a suburban Washington, D.C. elementary school in the 1970s. It's near the end of the school year, and the sixth graders are looking ahead to junior high. As the son of a diplomat from Ghana, Osei (“O” for short) has experience being the “new boy” in a school. It's happened to him several times. O stands out as the only black student in his new school. Dee is one of the most popular girls in the sixth grade, and she's been assigned to help the new student learn the ropes on his first day of school. While many of the sixth graders (and even a teacher or two) view O through a lens of racism, Dee views O as a potential friend. O and Dee are “going together” by lunchtime, much to the disgust of the class bully, Ian, who schemes to break them up.

Chevalier never sold me on the setting of this story. I went through 6th grade in the 1970s, and my classmates and I were nothing like the 6th graders in this story. 8th grade would have been more plausible. The perspective shifted back and forth among several characters, and I found it difficult to connect with any of them. I could see them, but I couldn't feel them. The conflict seemed like typical adolescent drama, maybe even on the tame side of typical. It didn't seem like the type of conflict to end in tragedy. This is by far the weakest of the four books I've read in this series.

This review is based on an advance reader's copy provided by the publisher through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program.

2.5 stars

109thornton37814
Mar 10, 7:47pm Top

>108 cbl_tn: You are the second person I've seen give that one a bad review. I'm not looking forward to my NetGalley copy. I'm finishing up my ER book now.

110lkernagh
Mar 12, 5:55pm Top

>94 cbl_tn: - I have been finding that a number of the fairy tale retellings have been well done. Happy to be able to add another one to my future reading list!

Sorry to read about the kitchen mishap. Plumbing issues are the worst and I tend to be rather paranoid about them happening as we have the added concern of potentially flooding out - or at a minimum causing some damage - to the neighbours below us. ;-)

Love the new floor!

111cbl_tn
Mar 14, 10:43pm Top

>109 thornton37814: I'll be surprised if you like it any better than I did.

>110 lkernagh: Hi Lori! I'll have to start on fairy tale retellings when I run out of Shakespeare and Jane Austen!

112cbl_tn
Mar 14, 10:44pm Top



Ascot Gavotte #2: Blue Willow by Doris Gates
AwardsCAT
CATwoman

Ten-year-old Janey Larkin, her father, and her stepmother are among the migrants who made their way to California in the wake of the Dust Bowl. The family moves frequently as Janey's father follows the harvests. Janey carries her ideal of home with her in the treasured blue willow plate that belonged to her mother. This move is different, and Janey finds herself longing to stay in this corner of the San Joaquin Valley near the river that looks so much like the scene in the blue willow plate.

I'm sorry that I missed this book during my childhood. I would have loved it if only for the connection to my grandmother's blue willow dishes. Those dishes are one of the strongest memories I have of meals in my grandmother's kitchen. This story could be used as supplemental reading for a unit on the Great Depression and/or the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. However, the book does contain some mild stereotyping of Janey's Mexican American neighbors, the Romeros. Janey also acts out occasionally in a way that would be considered inappropriate by today's standards.

4 stars

113RidgewayGirl
Mar 14, 10:50pm Top

Carrie, did you read the Lois Lenski books (Strawberry Girl is the best known) when you were young? I read every one I could get my hands on and was fascinated by the idea that you could make clothing out of flour sacks.

114cbl_tn
Mar 14, 10:58pm Top

>113 RidgewayGirl: Lois Lenski is another author I missed in my childhood. I read Strawberry Girl about 3 years ago and I loved it. Blue Willow had a similar feel for me. They both have a strong sense of place and the families are in similar circumstances.

115clue
Edited: Mar 15, 10:15am Top

>113 RidgewayGirl: I loved Lois Lenski too. I don't know what grade I was in, about 3rd or 4th I think, when my school did a "book" program for the public. I portrayed the girl in Cotton in my Sack. I wore overalls and a red checked shirt and got to be barefoot on stage! I had a long cloth sack that was slung over my shoulder that my mother made, for the cotton I picked of course. One of the teachers created book jackets that seemed huge at the time, each cover had a student behind it and when it was time to tell our story, two other students would open the cover and we could step out and talk. As you can probably tell, it was one of the highlights of my school years. I'm sure the teachers that planned that program would be astonished to know how well I remember it. Wish I had a picture, but cameras weren't in every pocket in those days.

116cbl_tn
Mar 15, 8:27pm Top

>115 clue: That's a great story about your school program! I'd love to see a picture if you had one.

117cbl_tn
Mar 19, 7:55pm Top



Show Me #4: Lion, King and Coin by Jeong-hee Nam; illustrated by Lucia Sforza

This children's picture book tells the story of the invention of coins from the perspective of Laos, a young man in a family of goldsmiths. The book seems ideal for use in upper elementary classrooms. Additional features include a brief encyclopedia-like history of the invention of the coin, a map showing the location of Sardis, and a glossary. This book could be used as supplementary reading for math units on money, in social studies units, or even in language arts units on mythology since the story includes the legend of King Midas.

This review is based on an electronic advance reader's copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

4 stars

118cbl_tn
Mar 19, 8:45pm Top



Just You Wait #1: The Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John Le Carre

Alec Leamas is nearing the end of his career with MI5. He's been the head of the Berlin unit for several years, but he's transferred to a desk job in London following the loss of a high-placed source at a Berlin checkpoint. Before he retires, he's offered a last chance to net man at the top of the East German Abteilung, the man who was responsible for the deaths of several agents who had worked under Leamas. It's a long, intricately plotted, life-or-death game.

The plot twists and the building tension make it a page-turner that can be read in a single sitting. It's an ideal airplane book. Unlike in Tom Clancy novels, it's hard to tell the “good guys” from the “bad guys” in Le Carre's novels. It's all shades of gray, with one side looking much like the other. The disillusionment with the intelligence field that characterizes Le Carre's work has a similar feel to the disillusionment about the legal profession in John Grisham's novels. I suspect if I read many of Le Carre's books, they would soon lose their luster just as Grisham's did for me.

4 stars

119rabbitprincess
Mar 20, 5:33pm Top

I'm due for a reread of The Spy Who Came In from the Cold sometime. Apparently the BBC is making a new adaptation, following on the success of The Night Manager.

120cbl_tn
Mar 20, 9:36pm Top

>119 rabbitprincess: The BBC adaptation sounds intriguing! I'll keep an eye out for it.

121cbl_tn
Mar 24, 7:28am Top



Servant's Chorus #3: Moon of Israel by H. Rider Haggard
For my RL book club

H. Rider Haggard imagines the life of a prince of Egypt in the months leading up to the Exodus. Seti, son of Pharaoh Meneptah and his heir apparent, is sympathetic toward the Hebrews. He even falls in love with one of them – Merapi, also known as the Moon of Israel. Their romance is at the heart of the novel.

The story is told in first person by a scribe, Ana, who is Seti's closest confidante. The plot required him to be close to Seti so that he could be present for or otherwise overhear the conversations that advanced the plot. Conversations and events that happened away from Ana's presence are repeated or described in detail in order to convey this information to the reader. These information dumps weigh down the narrative. It's hard to build narrative tension when the informant is describing things that have already happened.

Spoilers ahead

I'm too familiar with the biblical account of the Exodus to suspend my disbelief in Haggard's characters and interpretation. While Moses and Aaron make a brief appearance in the story as unnamed prophets, the Egyptians blame Merapi for the plagues. Merapi is viewed as a princess and perhaps even a prophetess by her fellow Hebrews, and this minimizes Moses and Aaron's leadership roles. Moses spent the first third of his life in Pharaoh's household, yet even the oldest characters in this book don't talk about him or even seem to recognize him. Haggard gives the Hebrews a temple and priests, but in the biblical account the priesthood and tabernacle were introduced in the wilderness after the Israelites had left Egypt.

H. Rider Haggard is mainly remembered as the author of King Solomon's Mines and She. This book is deserving of the obscurity it's fallen into.

2 stars

122VictoriaPL
Mar 24, 8:29am Top

>121 cbl_tn: Hi Carrie! I can see why you were interested in it enough to pick it up. The premise sounds interesting but also poorly executed. Thanks for the review!

123cbl_tn
Mar 24, 9:51am Top

Hi Victoria! My RL book club will be reading books inspired by or based on the Bible this year, and this was interesting in that respect. There are things that may not make sense to readers who don't have the familiarity with Exodus that Haggard assumes on their part.

124cbl_tn
Mar 24, 2:38pm Top



I Could Have Danced All Night #1: Anatomy of a Song by Marc Myers

Marc Myers is a regular music columnist for the Wall Street Journal. The 45 oral history interviews in Anatomy of a Song started as WSJ columns. Myers added new material and new introductions in this anthology, so it's more than a collection of previously published material. The songs are arranged chronologically so cover-to-cover readers will see the development of rock and pop music through its first four decades. However, this collection is better suited for occasional rather than sustained reading. It's the type of book that many readers will prefer to browse, lingering over the stories of familiar songs and skipping those they don't know or don't like.

I listened to the audio version of this book. It's not well-suited for this medium, for reasons just stated. It's easy to skip over a song or two in a print book; it's not so easy to do it in an audiobook if you're doing other things while you're listening. It would have been nice if short audio clips of the songs had been added at the beginning of each piece to remind listeners of songs they might not have heard in a while. Maybe the licensing would have been too complicated to do this. Jonathan Yen's narration will appeal to regular listeners of Casey Kasem's American Top 40 since his voice sounds very similar to Kasem's.

This collection might be a good gift for a hard-to-buy-for friend or relative of a certain age. Other readers may wish to borrow this from a library for guilt-free selective reading.

This review is based on a complimentary audio edition provided by the publisher through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program.

3 stars

125cbl_tn
Mar 26, 9:31pm Top



Servants' Chorus #4: The Duke's Children by Anthony Trollope

While the Duke of Omnium stayed busy with his political career, the management of the children was largely left to his Duchess. After the Duchess's untimely death, the Duke is forced to take a more hands-on interest in his children's lives just as they've reached adulthood. Although he's been a distant father, he loves his children in his own way. He's financially generous to his children, and he's not a strict disciplinarian. It seems he has only one expectation for his children – that they marry well, meaning within the aristocracy. His children's inability or unwillingness to adhere to his standard adds to his grief after his wife's death.

Everyone but the Duke knows from the beginning of the novel how it will end. The novel is a character study with conflict arising from a “generation gap” in the midst of shifting social standards. Trollope was forced to cut a considerable portion of the novel prior to its original publication. Only recently has Trollope's original text been restored for publication. If I had to guess, I'd say that Trollope's cuts were made at the expense of the political portions of the novel. The earlier Palliser novels have more balance between politics and domestic life. Domestic/private life has more emphasis in this novel, and the political developments at the end of the novel come as a surprise.

4 stars

126cbl_tn
Mar 27, 6:21pm Top



Hymn to Him #3: Heart in the Right Place by Carolyn Jourdan

Carolyn Jourdan was climbing the ladder as an attorney for a US Senate committee when a call from home changes everything. Her mother had a heart attack, and she needed Carolyn to fill in for her for a few days as the receptionist/office manager of Carolyn's father's medical practice. A few days turned into a few weeks, then a few months, until Carolyn had to make a decision about her future.

Carolyn's father, Dr. Jourdan, was one of a rapidly disappearing breed of rural family medicine practitioners who owned their own practice, made hospital calls, etc. Her father didn't schedule appointments. His patients showed up at his office when they had a medical problem, and they sat in the waiting room until it was their turn. Dr. Jourdan sounded very much like my old family doctor, who ran a similar practice almost within spitting distance. They probably knew each other from local medical association meetings.

I knew this book was special from the first chapter, when the author described her first day of temping for her mother. The first patients that day were three ladies in their 90s. Carolyn thought it would be easier for them if she let them wait in one of the exam rooms instead of the waiting room, so she left them alone in a room with a hydraulic table. It seemed like a good idea at the time...

This book is perfect for readers who like James Herriot's veterinary stories or Patrick Taylor's Irish Country Doctor books. It might also be a good companion read for J.D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy.

4.5 stars

127clue
Mar 29, 10:08pm Top

>126 cbl_tn: BB for me and my library has it.

128cbl_tn
Mar 31, 6:05pm Top

>127 clue: Wonderful! I hope you enjoy it!

129cbl_tn
Apr 1, 1:10pm Top



I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face #2: Wolf on a String by Benjamin Black
RandomCAT

No sooner had young German Christian Stern arrived in Prague in November 1599 than he stumbled across the body of a young woman and found himself accused of her murder. Fortunately, he had come to the notice of Emperor Rudolf, so his imprisonment didn't last long. Unfortunately, though, his release had a condition. The Emperor expects Stern to investigate the young woman's death and identify her murderer. Stern's investigation is half-hearted at best. When he's not busy pursuing an affair with the Emperor's mistress, Italian Caterina Sardo, he is fending off the attempts of the Emperor's high steward, Felix Wenzel, and the Emperor's chancellor, Philipp Lang, to force him to take a side in their ongoing power struggle.

Benjamin Black paints a vivid portrait of Prague at the turn of the 17th century. No secret is safe from watching eyes and listening ears. Fictional characters mix seamlessly with historical figures such as Edward Kelley and Johannes Kepler. The murder investigation takes a back seat to the eccentric characters and court intrigues. It will appeal to readers who like historical mysteries that lean toward the thriller end of the spectrum.

This review is based on an electronic advance reading copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

3.5 stars

130cbl_tn
Apr 1, 1:25pm Top



Show Me! #5: Un Dia de Nieve by Ezra Jack Keats
AwardsCAT

This Caldecott medal winner perfectly captures a child's wonder as he sees the world anew under a blanket of snow. The simplicity of the illustrations and the accompanying text transport me back to my own childhood and the exhiliration of a solitary walk through unbroken snow. The timelessness of this story ensures its appeal to generation after generation of children.

5 stars

131cbl_tn
Apr 1, 1:40pm Top

March Recap

Why Can’t the English?
- Books for the British Author Challenge in the 75 Books group – 0/5

Wouldn’t It Be Loverly? - Serendipity – 1/5

With a Little Bit of Luck - Books for the Bingo Dog – 1/5

I’m an Ordinary (Wo)Man - Books by women authors – 2/5
New Boy by Tracy Chevalier (2.5)

Just You Wait - TBRs – 1/5
The Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le Carre (4)

Servants’ Chorus - Group/shared reads – 4/5
Moon of Israel by H. Rider Haggard (2)
The Duke's Children by Anthony Trollope (4)

The Rain in Spain - Books set outside the US – 1/5

I Could Have Danced All Night - Audiobooks – 1/5
Anatomy of a Song by Marc Myers (3)

Ascot Gavotte - Award winners/nominees – 2/5
Blue Willow by Doris Gates (4)

On the Street Where You Live - Genealogy – 1/5

You Did It - Crime/Mystery – 2/5

Show Me - Picture books/graphic novels – 5/5
Rumpelstiltskin by Paul O. Zelinsky (4)
Lion, King and Coin by Jeong-hee Nam; illustrated by Lucia Sforza (4)
Un Dia de Nieve by Ezra Jack Keats (5)

Get Me to the Church on Time - About religion/religious theme – 1/5

A Hymn to Him - Biography/memoir – 3/5
Heart in the Right Place by Carolyn Jourdan (4.5)

Without You - Borrowed books – 1/5

I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face - History/Historical fiction – 2/5
Wolf on a String by Benjamin Black (3.5)

Physical books owned: 4
Physical books borrowed: 2
Ebooks owned: 2
Ebooks borrowed: 2
Audiobooks owned: 1
ARCs: 3

Best of the month: Un Dia de Nieve by Ezra Jack Keats
Honorable mention: Heart in the Right Place by Carolyn Jourdan
Worst of the month: Moon of Israel by H. Rider Haggard

132rabbitprincess
Apr 1, 2:05pm Top

>130 cbl_tn: Seeing that cover takes me right back to my childhood! :)

133sallylou61
Apr 1, 2:16pm Top

>130 cbl_tn: It's not surprising to see that The Snowy Day has been translated into Spanish. I enjoyed reading it in library school when I was planning to become a children's librarian. I think that it was one of the first picture books to feature black children.

(I ended up working in academic libraries for my whole career.)

134cbl_tn
Apr 1, 6:59pm Top

>132 rabbitprincess: I don't remember reading this one as a child. I think I would have loved it.

>133 sallylou61: It was fun reading it in Spanish!

135cbl_tn
Apr 8, 10:32am Top



I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face #3: Golden Hill by Francis Spufford

In the autumn of 1746, a young man arrives by ship in New York with a bill for a thousand pounds, which he immediately presents to a local merchant. Who is this mysterious Richard Smith? Is he an honest man or a fraud? He seems content to wait the required 60 days for payment of the bill. No one in the city knows what to make of him. The third person narrator is not omniscient, leaving the reader as much in the dark as New York society.

Spufford brings mid-18th century New York to life in the pages of this novel, viewing it from the perspective of the newly arrived Smith as he explores the city and observes its customs. The novel's style is different and fresh. Smith's motive is hidden from the reader, so the destination of the plot is unpredictable. As much as I enjoyed the writing and style of the novel, there are some technical flaws. The story includes scenes and conversations that should have been unknown to the narrator. There also seems to be a chronological error in the text. On Christmas day, one of the characters is thinking about plans for the year to come. In 1746, Great Britain was still using the Julian calendar, and the new year didn't begin until March 25. These issues didn't lessen my enjoyment of the novel, and I highly recommend it for most readers of historical fiction.

This review is based on an electronic advance reading copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

4 stars

136cbl_tn
Apr 15, 11:32am Top



The Rain in Spain #2: Hell and High Water by Tanya Landman

For as long as he can remember, it's been just Caleb and his Pa. The two of them travel through southern England performing Punch and Judy puppet shows. Everything changes when Caleb's Pa is convicted of a crime he didn't commit and transported to the American colonies. Pa tells Caleb to find his aunt, Pa's sister, and to stay with her until he returns. Caleb's new life won't be easy. His aunt lives in a fishing village, and Caleb has no experience of coastal life. And Caleb is learning just how much his father has shielded him from the cruelty of strangers, for Caleb is of mixed race. Caleb's discovery of a body on the shore one morning will lead him on a quest to unravel a conspiracy that endangers his own life and the lives of the new family he's grown to love.

This coming-of-age YA novel has cross-generational appeal for most fans of historical literature. While the secrets that drive the plot probably won't come as a surprise to seasoned readers, it still has the potential to transport readers to another time and place for a few hours of entertaining adventure.

This review is based on an advance reading copy provided by the publisher through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program.

3.5 stars

137cbl_tn
Apr 15, 4:08pm Top



Wouldn't It Be Loverly? #2: In Their Lives: Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs edited by Andrew Blauner

Everyone has a favorite Beatles song. I'd be hard pressed to pick just one. Is there a more perfect song than Yesterday? Sure, the lyrics on their own are trite. But pair them with the melody and arrangement and it becomes something transcendent. Or maybe I'd choose Blackbird, a song I've loved since my high school ensemble sang an arrangement my senior year. The story of Eleanor Rigby has always touched me. And nothing beats When I'm Sixty-Four for sheer fun.

Editor Andrew Blauner has collected essays from well-known writers reflecting on their favorite Beatles song. As is typical with any collection, some contributions are stronger than others. Some are centered around memories associated with a particular song. Others focus on an analysis of the music. What is most striking about the collection is the diversity of the authors, with representation from multiple cultures, ethnicities, and generations. The Beatles wrote and recorded so many different styles of music that their discography holds something for everybody.

Although this isn't an illustrated, coffee table-sized book, it's the kind of book you'd want to display for guests to browse. It would be a great conversation starter. Is your favorite Beatles song represented in the book? If it is, did the author do it justice? If it's not, why not? Recommended for music lovers of all ages.

This review is based on an electronic advance reading copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

3.5 stars

138cbl_tn
Apr 16, 12:37pm Top



I think Adrian wants his own laptop!

139sallylou61
Apr 16, 1:34pm Top

>138 cbl_tn: What a cute picture!

140cbl_tn
Apr 16, 2:04pm Top

>139 sallylou61: Thanks! He usually moves as soon as I turn the camera on him, so it's a rare shot.

141mamzel
Apr 17, 3:13pm Top

Must be some good smells on that keyboard!

142cbl_tn
Apr 18, 6:44pm Top

>141 mamzel: Or maybe he likes the heat or noise from the fan!

143cbl_tn
Apr 19, 9:04pm Top



On the Street Where You Live #2: Common People: The History of an English Family by Alison Light
CATwoman

Professional historians have generally given family history short shrift. It's 'history lite' or 'comfort-zone history'; solipsistic and myopic. Its practitioners, critics say, are only interested in themselves. The family history we choose to write, the past we believe in, is always a selection of stories from the many at our disposal in the past. Family history individualizes but it can also privatize, make us feel more singular. I have wanted to resist that way of 'finding my past'; to pay my respects but to look for wider perspectives on what too easily is seen as a chapter of accidents, hapless human tragedy in the lives of those struggling to find decent housing and steady work. I have no doubt that some of my ancestors were vicious, stupid and cruel. I wouldn't have liked them much if I had met them. But why were their lives so hard and what were their 'options', if they had them? Family history worth its salt asks these big questions about economic forces, political decisions, local government, urban history, social policy, as well as the character of individuals and the fate of their families. It moves us from a sense of the past to an idea of history, where we are no longer its centre, and where arguments must be had. It entails loss too, not least in seeing ourselves as representative, rather than simply unique.

Common People lives up to its author's expressed goal. Light organizes the book around the ancestry of her four grandparents. This ancestry is unique to Light and her siblings, yet her ancestors seem representative of the working class in 19th century southern England. Light's ancestors were “servants, sailors, watermen, farm carters...and artisans in the building trade”. Light's readers will get a feel for what it meant to be a servant or a sailor in the 19th century, how precarious life was for the working poor, and just how easy it was to run out of options and land in the workhouse. This should be near the top of the reading list for anyone with an interest in the social history of 19th century Great Britain. It's a shame that most of the photographs and facsimile reproductions are so dark that many of the details are lost. A book of this caliber deserved illustrative plates on higher-quality paper.

3.5 stars

144christina_reads
Apr 21, 12:54pm Top

>143 cbl_tn: This should be near the top of the reading list for anyone with an interest in the social history of 19th century Great Britain.

BB for me, then!

145LauraBrook
Apr 22, 9:04pm Top

>143 cbl_tn: Same here, another BB!

146cbl_tn
Apr 24, 6:06pm Top

>144 christina_reads: >145 LauraBrook: I hope you enjoy it! It's so full of information that it's not a quick read, but it's a rewarding one.

147cbl_tn
Apr 24, 6:07pm Top



You Did It #3: Date with Death by Julia Chapman

After a 14-year absence, Samson O'Brien returns to his hometown in the Yorkshire Dales to lie low in the wake of a yet-to-be-revealed incident. O'Brien has been an undercover cop, so he plans to use his skills to earn income as a private detective. Delilah Metcalfe is struggling to keep her Internet dating business afloat. She sets her personal grudge against Samson aside to lease office space for his business since the rental income may be all that keeps her from bankruptcy. When Delilah realizes that a string of “accidental” deaths are linked to her recent speed dating event, she joins forces with Samson to find the killer lurking in their midst.

I found much to enjoy in this mystery debut. The pacing is a little too slow at the beginning of the book, but the reader's patience is rewarded with interesting and well-defined characters, a well-plotted with just the right number of red herrings, and a strong sense of place. The local landscape is integral to the plot and it's difficult to imagine it set anywhere else. The enigma surrounding Samson's sudden return to the Dales is left for development in future series installments, and I'm already impatient for more.

This review is based on an electronic advance reading copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

4 stars

148christina_reads
Apr 25, 10:40am Top

>147 cbl_tn: Sounds intriguing, but I have to admit I laughed/rolled my eyes when I realized the main characters' names were Samson and Delilah!

149cbl_tn
Apr 25, 12:27pm Top

>148 christina_reads: I know! I hope it's a deliberate choice on the author's part. And Samson apparently has long black hair. (He's Irish, or at least half Irish.)

150cbl_tn
Apr 29, 11:35am Top



On the Street Where You Live #3: Thomas and Beulah by Rita Dove
AwardsCAT
RandomCAT

It took me less than an hour to read Thomas and Beulah from cover to cover, yet at the end I felt like I'd read a novel. I knew this couple better than they knew each other. The poems in the first half of the book tell Thomas's story, and the poems in the second half tell Beulah's story. The poems are snapshots of these characters at various points in their lives. Several of the poems are like two halves of the same coin, revealing each person's thoughts and feelings about the same event. Readers should avoid pulling an individual poem out of its context in the bigger narrative. I suggest reading the poems through in sequence, noting repeated imagery and phrases, then returning for a closer analysis of individual poems.

5 stars

151cbl_tn
Apr 30, 8:46pm Top



Get Me To the Church On Time #2: Singing God's Psalms: Metrical Psalms and Reflections for Each Sunday in the Church Year by Fred R. Anderson

I'm reviewing this one for publication, so just a brief comment. This is a book for a church library or music minister's library for congregations that use the lectionary and traditional hymns in worship. It could also be used for personal devotional reading.

3.5 stars

152cbl_tn
Apr 30, 9:01pm Top

April Recap

Why Can’t the English?
- Books for the British Author Challenge in the 75 Books group – 0/5

Wouldn’t It Be Loverly? - Serendipity – 2/5
In Their Lives: Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs edited by Andrew Blauner (3.5)

With a Little Bit of Luck - Books for the Bingo Dog – 1/5

I’m an Ordinary (Wo)Man - Books by women authors – 2/5

Just You Wait - TBRs – 1/5

Servants’ Chorus - Group/shared reads – 4/5

The Rain in Spain - Books set outside the US – 2/5
Hell and High Water by Tanya Landman (3.5)

I Could Have Danced All Night - Audiobooks – 1/5

Ascot Gavotte - Award winners/nominees – 2/5

On the Street Where You Live - Genealogy – 3/5
Common People: The History of an English Family by Alison Light (3.5)
Thomas and Beulah by Rita Dove (5)

You Did It - Crime/Mystery – 3/5
Date with Death by Julia Chapman (4)

Show Me - Picture books/graphic novels – 5/5

Get Me to the Church on Time - About religion/religious theme – 2/5
Singing God's Psalms by Fred R. Anderson (3.5)

A Hymn to Him - Biography/memoir – 3/5

Without You - Borrowed books – 1/5

I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face - History/Historical fiction – 3/5
Golden Hill by Francis Spufford (4)

Physical books owned: 2
Physical books borrowed: 2
Ebooks borrowed: 3
Abandoned books: 1
ARCs: 4

Best of the month: Thomas and Beulah by Rita Dove
Worst of the month: Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman – I couldn't finish this one

153cbl_tn
Edited: May 8, 9:30pm Top



Why Can't the English #1: The Children's Book by A. S. Byatt

The Fabians and the social scientists, writers and teachers saw, in a way earlier generations had not, that children were people, with identities and desires and intelligences. They saw that they were neither dolls nor toys, nor miniature adults. They saw, many of them, that children needed freedom, needed not only to learn, and be good, but to play and be wild.

But they saw this, so many of them, out of a desire of their own for a perpetual childhood, a Silver Age.


The children in the Wellwood, Cain, and Fludd families were born in the late Victorian era and came of age in the Edwardian era. Their extended childhood ended with the Great War. The Basil Wellwoods were respectable middle class family while the Humphrey Wellwoods were bohemians, supported by Olive Wellwood's authorship of children's fantasy stories. The Fludds lived at the mercy of master potter Benedict Fludd's moods, while the Cains lived at the South Kensington Museum (which later became the V&A), where Prosper Cain was one of the Keepers. The book's themes include art, literature, socialism, and women's education and occupations. Byatt anchors the family drama in the social culture of Great Britain and, to an extent, Germany, at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.

It's not often that I reach the end of a nearly 700 page book and wish for more, but it happened with one. The characters are so well drawn that they seem just as real as the historical figures they mix with in the novel. It has the feel of an E. M. Forster novel. Highly recommended.

4.5 stars

154japaul22
May 9, 7:11am Top

>153 cbl_tn: I absolutely loved The Children's Book as well. I find it hard to recommend to people because it's so long, but it's a favorite of mine.

155DeltaQueen50
May 9, 1:25pm Top

I am definitely going to put some time aside to read The Children's Book!

156RidgewayGirl
May 9, 4:46pm Top

I'm glad you loved The Children's Book as much as I did, Carrie!

157cbl_tn
May 9, 8:30pm Top

>154 japaul22: I was halfway through the book before I'd made up my mind about it. I was more invested in the children's lives than in their parents' generation, and I was hooked once the children took center stage.

>155 DeltaQueen50: I think it will be worth your while!

>156 RidgewayGirl: I love the era, I love books with an art theme, and I love books about books. And it's set in England (mostly). I expected to like it for all those reasons, but I didn't expect to love it as much as I did!

158cbl_tn
May 9, 8:56pm Top



Show Me #6: Carson Crosses Canada by Linda Bailey; illustrated by Kass Reich

After Annie Magruder receives a letter from her sick sister, Elsie, Annie packs her bags and sets out on a road trip across Canada with her dog, Carson. Their stops along the way include the Rocky Mountains, Lake Winnipeg, Niagara Falls, Quebec City, and Prince Edward Island. Carson enjoys the sights and smells along the way, but he's really looking forward to the surprise that Annie says is waiting for him at the end of their journey!

This book brought back happy memories of a 5th grade assignment when I planned a road trip across Canada. The brightly colored illustrations include a map of Annie and Carson's route across southern Canada. Carson reminds me of my dog, Adrian, who also has a Squeaky Chicken. I wonder if Adrian would enjoy a road trip across Canada? I'll have to see if I still have that map...

Highly recommended!

This review is based on an electronic advance reading copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

5 stars

159DeltaQueen50
May 12, 1:14pm Top

Carrie, I think Adrian would love a trip across Canada. He would probably especially love to be taken for a walk on the beach - and I just happen to have a couple of nice walking beaches near my place!

160cbl_tn
May 14, 6:32pm Top

>159 DeltaQueen50: I would love a walk on the beach, but I'm not sure about Adrian. He doesn't like to get his feet wet! I have to carry him outside when it rains.

161cbl_tn
May 23, 7:31pm Top



Just You Wait #2: Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks by John Curran

Author John Curran was given unprecedented access to Agatha Christie's notebooks. Labeling them “secret” seems to stretch the point. “Private” would be more accurate. As Curran describes them, they sound like memorandum books. The notes and the notebooks themselves are mostly undated. Notes for any one novel may be scattered among several notebooks. Christie apparently used whichever notebook was closest to hand when she wanted to jot down an idea. It's unlikely that Christie expected anyone else to read these notebooks. Her handwriting is difficult to read, and apparently Christie sometimes had trouble reading her own handwriting.

The book is more descriptive than analytical. Curran sifted through the contents of the notebooks and organized Christie's notes around themes such as nursery rhyme murders, games, transportation, and travel. Through his study of the notebooks, Curran is able to identify the inspiration for many of Christie's novels and the linkages between them. If some of her novels give you the impression that you've read them before, it's probably because Christie often reworked her short stories into full length novels (usually with a change in the murderer or even the victim).

Curran necessarily includes spoilers for the novels and short stories mentioned in the books. It's a book for long-time Christie readers, not for those new to Christie's work.

3.5 stars

162rabbitprincess
May 23, 8:49pm Top

>161 cbl_tn: I didn't think "secret" was the right word for these notebooks either. It was interesting to see her thought processes, and I liked that Curran included a list of all the books covered in a given chapter so that I could avoid the sections for books I hadn't read yet ;)

163cbl_tn
May 23, 10:01pm Top

>162 rabbitprincess: I liked the list of books, too, although I wasn't too concerned about spoilers since I think I've read almost all of her books at least once. He seemed to limit spoiler information to as little as was necessary to make his point. However, it seemed to me that there was an inordinate emphasis on A Murder Is Announced, which is next up for me in my chronological re-reads!

164VivienneR
May 24, 2:30pm Top

So far I've just been dipping into Curran's book. I'm not concerned about spoilers either because I've read most, if not all, of her books at least once, starting when I was about twelve years old. I expect to be inspired to re-read some.

165rabbitprincess
May 24, 6:29pm Top

>163 cbl_tn: That's one of my favourites! It might be my favourite Marple.

166cbl_tn
May 28, 9:04pm Top

>164 VivienneR: I started reading Christie at about the same age. I was probably 13 or 14 and had outgrown Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden.

>165 rabbitprincess: It's been so long since I read it the first time that it will seem like new to me!

167cbl_tn
May 28, 9:11pm Top



Get Me To the Church On Time #3: Jonah's Gourd Vine by Zora Neale Hurston

This somewhat biographical novel is the story of the rise and fall of John Pearson from son of a share-cropping family to charismatic preacher to fallen outcast. From the moment a teen-aged John sees Lucy Potts, he is determined to marry her. He frequently strays with other women, yet his love for Lucy draws him back to her. It's Lucy who inspires him to learn to read and write, and Lucy who recognizes his gift with words and steers him into the pulpit. Lucy's untimely death leaves John with nothing between him and his antagonists who seize the first opportunity to orchestrate his downfall.

Hurston's first novel is good but not great. Hurston tried to make John the center of the novel, but he was always upstaged, first by his mother, and then by Lucy. Just as John lost his way after Lucy's death, so the novel lost its momentum through the same event.

4 stars

168cbl_tn
May 28, 9:30pm Top



On the Street Where You Live #4: Carolina Cradle: Settlement of the Northwest North Carolina Frontier, 1747-1762 by Robert W. Ramsey

This book's narrow focus on the mid-18th-century frontier settlement of northwestern North Carolina will necessarily limit its potential audience. However, readers with an interest in the local history of this region or who have ancestors among its early settlers will find it a rich source of information. Readers will want to keep this book handy as its maps, appendices, and bibliography are all useful reference sources.

5 stars

169cbl_tn
May 28, 9:51pm Top



I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face #4: Lost Attractions of Sevier County by Tim Hollis & Mitzi Soward

If you vacationed in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge in the 1960s, 1970s, or 1980s, you'll enjoy a trip down memory lane with the photos in this book. The co-authors have done a good job of selecting representative photographs and organizing them around themes like restaurants and celebrity attractions. One chapter is devoted to the pre-Dollywood history of the theme park, from Rebel Railroad to Goldrush Junction to Silver Dollar City. My family made a lot of trips to Silver Dollar City when I was in middle school and my preacher father led non-denominational services in the chapel for a couple of seasons. As popular as Dollywood has become, I still miss Silver Dollar City features like the Hatfield and McCoy feud, the Medicine Man show, and the saloon show. It was fun to revisit those memories in the pages of this book (although the Medicine Man didn't make the cut).

4 stars

170thornton37814
May 30, 8:47am Top

>168 cbl_tn: I re-read that one recently. It's a "classic."

>169 cbl_tn: It's a fun trip down memory lane.

171VictoriaPL
May 30, 11:29am Top

>169 cbl_tn: Looks like fun. Have you been to the Hatfield and McCoy theatre/show? I've always been curious, but not enough to actually buy tickets.

172cbl_tn
May 31, 8:18pm Top

>170 thornton37814: I can see myself re-reading it again in a few years since I have at least half a dozen ancestors or collateral lines mentioned in the book.

>171 VictoriaPL: I haven't been to the Hatfield & McCoy show. I have food allergies that make it difficult for me to eat a fixed menu. I don't want to spend that much for a ticket and not eat!

173cbl_tn
May 31, 8:20pm Top



Without You #2: Judas by Amos Oz
AwardsCAT

Here is a story from the winter days of the end of 1959 and the beginning of 1960. It is a story of error and desire, of unrequited love, and of a religious question that remains unresolved. Some of the buildings still bore the marks of the war that had divided the city a decade earlier. In the background you could hear the distant strains of an accordion, or the plaintive sound of a harmonica from behind closed shutters.

Graduate student Shmuel Ash has decided to drop out of school after a bad breakup and a personal financial crisis. He spots an ad on a campus bulletin board that leads him to a home on the outskirts of Jerusalem. He accepts a position as a live-in caregiver/companion for invalid Gershom Wald. Wald shares the home with Atalia, a striking 40-something woman whose relationship to Wald is unclear to Shmuel. As the winter days pass, Shmuel becomes increasingly attracted to Atalia.

Shmuel and Wald often discuss Shmuel's research on Jewish views of Jesus. Shmuel's theories are beginning to veer in the direction of Judas. Shmuel perceives Judas, not as a traitor, but as the first Christian. When Shmuel and Wald aren't discussing religion, they're talking about politics, and specifically the formation of Israel and the 1948 war. Shmuel is especially interested in Shealtiel Abravanel, who alone among his colleagues on the Zionist Executive Committee and the Council of the Jewish Agency opposed the formation of Israel, believing that Arabs and Jews could peacefully coexist. For this he was branded a traitor and spent the rest of his life in self-imposed exile in the house where Wald, Atalia, and now Shmuel live. Shmuel's attempt to rehabilitate Judas's reputation naturally leads to an attempt to rehabilitate Abravanel's reputation.

This novel, which is receiving attention from various award committees, will be heavy going for readers who don't have an interest in or familiarity with the Gospels and with the politics and events that led to Israel's formation. If I had to write a paper about this book for a literature course, I'd probably avoid religion and politics and focus Oz's use of animal imagery. It's hard not to notice the stray dogs and cats and Shmuel's bear-like physical appearance.

3.5 stars

174cbl_tn
May 31, 8:39pm Top

May Recap

Why Can’t the English?
- Books for the British Author Challenge in the 75 Books group – 1/5
The Children's Book by A. S. Byatt (4.5)

Wouldn’t It Be Loverly? - Serendipity – 2/5

With a Little Bit of Luck - Books for the Bingo Dog – 1/5

I’m an Ordinary (Wo)Man - Books by women authors – 2/5

Just You Wait - TBRs – 2/5
Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks by John Curran (3.5)

Servants’ Chorus - Group/shared reads – 4/5

The Rain in Spain - Books set outside the US – 2/5

I Could Have Danced All Night - Audiobooks – 1/5

Ascot Gavotte - Award winners/nominees – 2/5

On the Street Where You Live - Genealogy – 3/5
Carolina Cradle by Robert W. Ramsey (5)

You Did It - Crime/Mystery – 3/5

Show Me - Picture books/graphic novels – 6/5
Carson Crosses Canada by Linda Bailey; illustrated by Kass Reich (5)

Get Me to the Church on Time - About religion/religious theme – 3/5
Jonah's Gourd Vine by Zora Neale Hurston (4)

A Hymn to Him - Biography/memoir – 3/5

Without You - Borrowed books – 2/5
Judas by Amos Oz (3.5)

I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face - History/Historical fiction – 4/5
Lost Attractions of Sevier County by Tim Hollis & Mitzi Soward (4)

Physical books owned: 4
Physical books borrowed: 2
Ebooks borrowed: 1
Abandoned books: 1
ARCs: 1

Best of the month: Carolina Cradle by Robert Ramsey
Worst of the month: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead; read by Bahni Turpin. The audio version just wasn't working for me,and I finally abandoned it.

175cbl_tn
Jun 3, 6:53pm Top



Just You Wait #3:Modified: GMOs and the Threat to Our Food, Our Land, and Our Future by Caitlin Shetterly

When I read the review of this book in Library Journal, I knew it was a book I needed to read. For several years, the author suffered from an illness that doctors were unable to diagnose, until one doctor determined that she was allergic to a protein in genetically modified corn. Once she eliminated GMO corn from her diet (which is not an easy thing to do), her symptoms disappeared. I had a similar experience several years ago. I thought my symptoms might be food-related, but I couldn't pinpoint any one food because so many seemingly unrelated things triggered my symptoms. As I began to study labels, I realized that these foods all had a common ingredient – corn. When I eliminated most of the corn from my diet, my symptoms cleared up. Shetterly and I had something in common.

Shetterly interviewed scientists, doctors, farmers, activists, and beekeepers in the United States, Europe, and Mexico, in order to learn more about the risks and benefits of GMOs. Given the author's personal experience, her tone is surprisingly objective. She is careful to look at both sides of controversial issues and to listen to both sides of a story.

The book is unexpectedly apolitical at a time when politics is becoming increasingly partisan. Republicans and Democrats may not agree on much of anything else, but both parties have strong ties to the agricultural and chemical companies that develop and produce GMO crops.

GMOs may not be on your radar if you don't work in agriculture or live in an industrial farming region. This book would be a great place to start your education on a topic that affects everyone. My only quibble is that, while Shetterly identifies her interview sources in the book, she doesn't cite sources for the facts and figures she adds from her additional research, so readers have to take her word for their accuracy. (The acknowledgments do include her fact checkers, however.)

4.5 stars

176LittleTaiko
Jun 3, 9:52pm Top

>161 cbl_tn: - ooh, this is a must have for me. I've read all of her books at least once and am currently rereading them in order.

177cbl_tn
Jun 4, 1:56pm Top

>176 LittleTaiko: You're definitely among the book's primary audience!

178cbl_tn
Jun 6, 8:09pm Top

I'm settling in to watch America's Got Talent this evening, waiting to see Mandy Harvey. I heard her a couple of weeks ago and she has an incredible voice and stage presence. She has perfect pitch. The really amazing thing is that she's deaf!

179cbl_tn
Jun 8, 9:50pm Top

I just got back from hearing Mandy Harvey live for the second time in the last 2 weeks. If all you've heard of her is her audition for AGT, there's a lot more in store for you. Her program tonight was mainly jazz standards and other songs from the 60s and 70s. My favorites were I Love You More Today than Yesterday, Cry Me a River, and House of the Rising Sun. She also did Nature Boy, Summertime, Happy Together, Someone to Watch Over Me, Blue Bayou, and Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. She sang a couple of her own compositions, including the one she did for her AGT audition. Her encore was Don't Think Twice, It's Alright. She only played the ukulele for the two songs she wrote and the Bob Dylan song. When she's not playing the ukulele, she signs as she sings and she's very expressive. Simon didn't make a mistake with his golden buzzer. She is the real deal.

I bought her latest CD that includes her song, Try, and had her autograph it. I had a short conversation with her piano player, Alfred, and he seems like a really nice guy. He was one of the two musicians who accompanied Mandy's audition.

180cbl_tn
Jun 9, 11:56am Top

A colleague just sent me a link to the Amazon page for Mandy Harvey's forthcoming book. It's due to be released in January.

181cbl_tn
Jun 10, 9:04pm Top



Adrian decided to take a nap while I changed the sheets this morning. He looks so sweet when he's sleeping!

182clue
Jun 10, 9:48pm Top

Yes he does, and no bed head, he looks lovely.

183rabbitprincess
Jun 10, 10:15pm Top

>181 cbl_tn: AWWWWWW! He looks like he's having sweet dreams. :D

184cbl_tn
Jun 10, 10:35pm Top

>182 clue: He is napping again now!

>183 rabbitprincess: A couple of nights ago he was napping on the loveseat and his tail was hanging over the edge. He was snoring so I know he was asleep. He must have been having a good dream because his tail started wagging. Just when I got my phone out to get it on video he stopped, naturally.

185lkernagh
Jun 18, 12:52pm Top

>175 cbl_tn: - Taking a BB for that one!

>181 cbl_tn: - Love the Adrian pic!

186pammab
Jun 21, 2:22am Top

>175 cbl_tn: I love a book that does investigation and sets out all sides of an issue. I'm making a note of Modified: GMOs and the Threat to Our Food, Our Land, and Our Future.

187cbl_tn
Jun 23, 4:51pm Top

>185 lkernagh: >186 pammab: The author clearly did her homework. I think she was fair to both sides of the issue.

188cbl_tn
Jun 24, 11:41am Top

While I was out of town at a conference last week, Adrian stayed with his friend Stella. Stella's "mom" sent me this picture that she took while they were out with the dogs. She reassured me that Adrian's harness was hooked to the seatbelt and her son had a firm hold on him!

189cbl_tn
Jun 24, 12:08pm Top



You Did It! #4 Bibliomysteries: Stories of Crime in the World of Books and Bookstores edited by Otto Penzler

The short mysteries in this collection were specially commissioned by the Mysterious Bookshop. All of the mysteries have something to do with books, bookstores, and/or libraries. Mystery aficionados will recognize most, if not all, of the contributors to the collection. I gravitate more towards cozies, historical mysteries, and the occasional police procedural. This collection is heavier in the private detective and hard-boiled/noir genres. The stories by my two favorite authors among the contributors (C. J. Box and Anne Perry) are quite a bit different from their usual fare. Most of the historical stories have something to do with Nazis and the Third Reich, so much that it seems like overkill. The stories I'll remember most are “Pronghorns of the Third Reich” by C. J. Box (inspired by a real photograph), “The Book Thing” by Laura Lippman (featuring her series P.I. Tess Monaghan and Baltimore's real-life Book Thing), “It's In the Book” (an unfinished short story by the great Mickey Spillane, completed by Max Allan Collins), and “The Caxton Lending Library & Book Depository” by John Connolly, which reminded me that it's been too long since I read my last Thursday Next novel. While it would be a nice gift for book-loving mystery fans, many readers may prefer to borrow this one from their local library.

This review is based on an electronic advanced reading copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

3.5 stars

190clue
Jun 24, 5:55pm Top

>188 cbl_tn: I think Adrian is a supermodel...every pic is so cute.

191cbl_tn
Jun 24, 7:49pm Top

>190 clue: He's much more photogenic than I am, and he's way more photogenic than his friend Stella. It's very hard to get a good picture of a black dog, although I keep trying!

192cbl_tn
Jun 24, 9:14pm Top

My 9th Thingaversary was last week, so to follow the tradition I needed to buy 10 books to celebrate. I ordered two from Amazon on my Thingaversary. One was by an author I met that evening at an LT meetup. (I don't think the author is on LT, but she came with a friend who is.) The other was from my wishlist.

Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown (author I met)
Chasing the Frontier by Larry J. Hoefling (this one hasn't arrived yet)

This afternoon Lori and I met a visiting LTer at our local used bookstore and I bought 15 more books. That's 7 more than I needed for my Thingaversary, but I'll count them all as Thingaversary purchases. It didn't make a dent in my wallet. The total cost was under $20 and I used trade credit for the purchase!

My haul:
Under Cold Stone by Vicki Delany
Walking Across Egypt by Clyde Edgerton
The King of Lies by John Hart
Mexican Days by Tony Cohan
Mrs. Adams in Winter: A Journey in the Last Days of Napoleon by Michael O'Brien
The Second Rumpole Omnibus by John Mortimer
The Chalk Circle Man by Fred Vargas
Finding Nouf by Zoe Ferraris
The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
Possession by A. S. Byatt
Morality Play by Barry Unsworth
Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey
Plainsong by Kent Haruf
Stories from Mexico/Historias de Mexico by Genevieve Barlow & William N. Stivers

I still have trade credit left and another LT meetup next week. I doubt my next haul will be as impressive. I combed through the bargain shelves today and they won't have changed much in less than a week!

193cbl_tn
Jun 24, 10:22pm Top



Show Me #7: Roger Is Going Fishing by Koen Van Biesen

Roger, his friend Emily, and his dog Bob are going fishing. Emily sits behind Roger on the bicycle as they ride through town. Emily is carrying the fishing pole, and she starts catching things long before they reach the water! The humor of the situation will appeal to children. However, the design and layout of the type may make it difficult for struggling readers to follow. The drawings contain fine details that are difficult to see in the electronic ARC on my iPad Mini. Hopefully that won't be an issue in the print edition.

This review is based on an electronic advance reading copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

3.5 stars

194rabbitprincess
Jun 24, 10:22pm Top

>192 cbl_tn: Happy Thingaversary! That book haul plus an LT meetup sounds like a great way to celebrate :)

195cbl_tn
Edited: Jun 24, 10:56pm Top



The Rain in Spain #3: The Big Book of Canada by Christopher Moore; illustrated by Bill Slavin

Beginning with Newfoundland & Labrador, this colorful reference book profiles each of Canada's provinces and territories from East to West and back again, ending with its newest territory, Nunavut. Each article includes a stylized map of the province or territory, a description of its landscape, a chronology of significant events in its history, a description of the people groups that make up its population, a recipe for a popular local dish, a description of its significant cities and landmarks, a description of its important jobs and industries, a list of famous people associated with the province/territory, a description and history of its government, a list of facts such as the population, growth rate, area, and highest point, and a quirky story or fact about the province. The list of books for further reading suggests several books for each province/territory for a juvenile audience. Photographs and other illustrations are included in the index.

The text is informative, and the illustrations and layout are visually appealing. The maps are the only negative in an otherwise outstanding book. The “on the map” section of each profile that describes the major cities and landmarks is placed several pages after the map that appears on the first page of the profile. I had to flip back and forth from the description to the map. Occasionally one of the landmarks wasn't identifiable on the map.

This book would be a good addition to libraries serving upper elementary and middle school students. All Canadian libraries should have a copy of this book, and many US libraries will find it useful as well.

This review is based on a complimentary copy provided by the publisher through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program.

4 stars

196AHS-Wolfy
Jun 25, 6:34am Top

>192 cbl_tn: happy belated Thingaversary! Nice bunch of books you've managed to acquire there. I especially like the Fred Vargas series so hope you do too. Her books are not always the greatest of mysteries but I do like her characters.

197japaul22
Jun 25, 7:04am Top

>192 cbl_tn: Excellent group of books! Possession, Plainsong, and Morality Play were all favorites for me (very different from each other, though!). And I'm very interested in the Mrs. Adams in Winter book.

198MissWatson
Jun 25, 10:54am Top

Happy thingaversary and happy reading!

199RidgewayGirl
Jun 25, 3:07pm Top

>192 cbl_tn: Nice Thingaversary haul! Looking forward to Thursday!

200cbl_tn
Jun 25, 5:17pm Top

>196 AHS-Wolfy: Thanks! I've had my eye on the Fred Vargas series for a while. Now I just need to find more time to read!

>197 japaul22: Possession and Plainsong have both been on my wishlist for a long time. I read Unsworth's Land of Marvels last year and afterwards added Morality Play to my wishlist.

>198 MissWatson: Thank you!

>199 RidgewayGirl: I'm looking forward to Thursday, too! I have a few more books to turn in for trade credit, and there are a couple of books I passed over in the bargain section yesterday that I'll pick up if they're still there.

201lkernagh
Yesterday, 1:02am Top

>188 cbl_tn: - What a fabulous picture of Adrian!

202DeltaQueen50
Yesterday, 3:34pm Top

Happy Thingaversary, Carrie. That is an excellent book haul and the price of under $20 is fantastic! I love that picture of Adrian - he just doesn't take a bad picture ever!

203cbl_tn
Yesterday, 7:39pm Top

>201 lkernagh: >202 DeltaQueen50: I wish I knew his secret! I'd love to let him sit for my driver's license and passport photos. It would look a lot better than what I usually end up with! ;-)

204cbl_tn
Yesterday, 8:24pm Top



The Rain in Spain #4: Mama Namibia by Mari Serebrov

Jahohora is a Herero girl on the brink of womanhood in German South West Africa. Kov is a Jewish German whose ambition is to become a military doctor to gain acceptance among his German peers. Their lives intersect during the Herero uprising and subsequent genocide in the early 20th century. The first-person narration alternates between Jahohora and Kov as both are uprooted from familiar comforts and the security of family and friends and thrust into the desert and the nearly waterless veld. Although they are on opposite sides of the conflict, Jahohora and Kov share a horror of German cruelty toward the Herero and other indigenous peoples.

It took me a long time to make my way through the book because of the intensity of the suffering of its characters. Starvation, torture, and massacres don't make pleasant reading. However, the book as a whole is more inspirational than depressing. It illustrates the difference that simple acts of kindness can make. Most readers of historical fiction, survival stories, coming of age stories, and stories with an African setting will find it worth the effort to seek this one out.

This review is based on an electronic advance reading copy provided by the publisher through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program.

4 stars

205cbl_tn
Yesterday, 9:22pm Top



Show Me #8: The Queen of the Frogs by Davide Cali & Marco Soma

Everything changed for one frog the night that a strange object fell into the water. The frog who finds it is declared the queen by the other frogs. As the queen becomes more and more demanding, the other frogs begin to wish they didn't have a queen.

The visually appealing illustrations seem like a cross between steampunk and the jazz era. Readers will find new details to delight them on repeat readings. As enchanting as the illustrations are, they don't always correlate well with the text. For example, the first page of text talks about the frogs doing froggy things like “hopping and catching flies, napping and playing with dragonflies”. The illustration has about a half dozen frogs sitting at tables reading, drinking beverages and conversing. Only one frog is catching a fly. No frogs are hopping, napping, or playing with dragonflies. (Although it looks like the reading frog's eyes are closed, so maybe he's supposed to be napping.) Oh, and someone should warn Fred Savage that this is a kissing book...

3.5

206cbl_tn
Yesterday, 9:38pm Top



Show Me #9: The Liszts by Kyo Maclear & Julia Sarda

I like the premise of this book, but the execution made me uncomfortable. The Liszts are a family that makes lists. They are more interested in their lists than in each other. The illustrations have an Edward Gorey meets the Addams Family feel. What really made me uncomfortable about the book is the large visitor that comes to the door. (The illustration looks like a mash-up of Lurch, Uncle Fester, and Cousin Itt.) No one in the house pays any attention to the visitor except for the middle child, a boy. They find that they each have lots of questions. One of the visitor's questions is “Where are my pants?” The situation and the context made that seem creepy to me. I doubt I would buy this for a child in my family.

2 stars

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