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Laytonwoman Has Reading to Do (Thread One for 2017)

75 Books Challenge for 2017

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Edited: Feb 28, 3:55pm Top

Hi! I'm Linda, a retired paralegal living in Northeastern Pennsylvania with my husband flamingrabbit (a retired broadcast engineer), and our sweet kitty, Molly O'Del, who we rescued from The Barn. In my first year of retirement (2016), I read 112 books, which is, as it should be, more than I read in any of the previous 10 years in which I was keeping track here on LT. My goal is always to read more of the books I already own, and to acquire fewer books than I remove from the house. The floorboards are groaning, and there is simply no more shelf space. Last year, as usual, I failed at all those things, but I think I did better at culling that I had in the past. December, with Christmas and a birthday in it, is fatal to the best intentions. This:

is what I'm talking about. All gifts or purchases in the last month of 2016.

In reviewing my ratings, I find I had quite an excellent reading year in 2016--many 4 star reads. In fiction, I gave 5 stars to Night, Last Bus to Wisdom, and Homegoing. I read some outstanding non-fiction, with 4 1/2 or 5 stars going to This House of Sky, The Boys in the Boat, Home Place, Wolves and Honey, H is for Hawk, The Knife Man and The Greater Journey. James Baldwin in Turkey was a brief but very moving experience as well. I also indulged in some lovely children's books, building up a library here for my grand-nieces, a/k/a The Adorables. Two that I found outstanding for both story and illustration were Papa Gatto by Ruth Sanderson, and Gator Gumbo.

Here is a link to my last 2016 thread in the group, from which you can navigate to all my previous reading threads back to 2007, if you are that crazy.

Here I will keep track of my numbers for reading, RMOS, and culling.

Total Books Read:

Reading My Own Stuff:

Books Culled from the House:

Edited: Mar 30, 5:12pm Top

Here I will list my completed reads, by the month. The titles will link to the later message where I post my comments on each book. Some code I use: ROOT identifies a book that I have owned for at least a year at the time I read it. These are the ones I'm keeping track of with the camel on the 2nd ticker in >1 laytonwoman3rd: above. CULL means I put the book in my donation box for the library book sale after finishing it. DNF means I didn't finish the book, for one reason or another, usually explained in the related post. ER means I received the book from LT's Early Reviewer program. GN refers to a graphic novel (don't expect to see a lot of that one!) An asterisk indicates a library book; LOA means I read a Library of America edition; SF means the book was a Slightly Foxed edition; FOLIO, of course, indicates a Folio Society edition. AUDIO and e-Book are self-explanatory, and probably won't appear very often. AAC, BAC and CAC refer to the American, British and Canadian Author Challenges. (See more on those below) NF indicates a non-fiction read, not necessarily in one of the NF challenge categories.


32. One Coffee With by Margaret Maron
31. Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton
*30. The Buzzard Table by Margaret Maron
29. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys BAC, CULL
*28. Bloody Kin by Margaret Maron
27. Hellhound on His Trail by Hampton Sides NF
*26. Search the Dark by Charles Todd
25. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry ROOT, CAC
*24. The Devil Wins by Reed Farrel Coleman


*23. Three-Day Town by Margaret Maron
22. Christmas Mourning by Margaret Maron ROOT, CULL
21. The Round House by Louise Erdrich ROOT
# A Christmas in Slovakia by Wesley Elllis (No number---too short and insubstantial to count)
20. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad ROOT
19. The Moon-Spinners by Mary Stewart ROOT, BAC
*18. The Night Country by Stewart O'Nan AAC
17. The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel ARC


16. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
*15. In the Heat of the Night by John Ball
14. What Color is My World? bu Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld CULL
13. The Night Gardener by The Fan Brothers
*12. Slow Burn by Ace Atkins
*11. The Eyes of the Buddha by John Ball
*DNF An Irish Country Village by Patrick Taylor Audio
10. A Story for Bear by Dennis Haseley and Jim LaMarche
9. The Gentle Lion and the Little Owlet by Alice Shirley
8. The Wish Tree by Kyo Maclear and Chris Turnham
7. Kindred by Octavia Butler AAC, ROOT, CULL
6. The Cat Who Rode Cows by Frances and Richard Lockridge
*5. Murder by Proxy by Anne Morice
4. Murther and Walking Spirits by Robertson Davies CAC, ROOT
3. This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff NF, ROOT
DNF. Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan CULL
2. The New Great American Authors Cookbook edited by Dean Faulkner Wells
1. The Bill the Cat Story: A Bloom County Epic by Berkeley Breathed

Edited: Apr 2, 11:23am Top

The Non-fiction Challenge for 2017 includes these categories:
(I will note my own choices here as I read them, in each month.)

January: Prizewinners {Non-fiction books that have won, or been short-listed for, any kind of literary prize.} Finished reading This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff

February: Voyages of Exploration
You define it. It can be a literal voyage (travel) or an imaginary voyage into one's own psyche. The key words here are exploration and voyage -- the book must have some kind of journey, real or rhetorical, toward some kind of goal.

March: Heroes and VillainsPeople you admire or people you hate. Or people others admire or hate, and that you're just curious about.
Finished Hellhound on His Trail by Hampton Sides

April: Hobbies, Pastimes and Passions
Anything you want. People suggested categories about gardening, cooking, animals, sports, etc. Whatever excites and interests you. See if you can get the rest of us excited, too...

May: History
Pretty self explanatory. One of a few holdovers.

June: The Natural World
Another holdover. Anything about rocks, logs, the sea, the air we breathe, what grows around us, animal life, etc. And the pollution of same...

July: Creators and Creativity
Rather than just a category about the arts, I've broadened this. So, writing, books about books would qualify.

August: I’ve Always Been Curious About….
A catch-all category. If the topic of the book can complete the sentence, you can add it to the challenge.

September: Gods, Demons and Spirits
Religion, spirituality of al kinds; read about the Salem witch trials or animism in West Africa if you want.

October: The World We Live In: Current Affairs
It will be a year after Brexit; a year after Trump's election. What does the world look like? What forces are driving us? Find a book about some of the themes and issues that are at the top of the news by then.

November: Science and Technology
Probably self-explanatory, another holdover.

December: Out of Your Comfort Zone
A nonfiction book that isn't something that you would normally gravitate to, about a subject you'd never normally read about, or that is a "book bullet" you'd never previously heard about from another LT reader.

Edited: Apr 2, 11:27am Top

This is the line-up for the 2017 American Authors Challenge, which Our Man Mark msf59 will be hosting once more. I'm looking forward to all of it--yes, even Hemingway. I must be mellowing in my old age.

January-Octavia Butler Finished Kindred
February- Stewart O'Nan Finished The Night Country
March- William Styron gave Lie Down in Darkness a try; main character annoyed me in the first 50 pages (much as with Serena, I couldn't get past disliking the character to see where the story might be going). DNF
April- Poetry Month Scriptorium by Melissa Range
May- Zora Neale Hurston
June- Sherman Alexie
July- James McBride
August- Patricia Highsmith
September- Short Story Month
October- Ann Patchett
November- Russell Banks
December- Ernest Hemingway

Edited: Apr 2, 11:32am Top

BRITISH AUTHOR CHALLENGE for 2017; a themed challenge this time, and again hosted by the exemplary PaulCranswick

Elizabeth Bowen and Brian Moore The only thing I appear to own written by either of these authors is Elizabeth Bowen's introduction to Frost in May, and I've read that already, so I will be skipping the Irish Britons this month.

Mary Stewart and Terry Pratchett Finished The Moon-Spinners

10 Novels by Men; 10 Novels by Women
The choices are:
The L-Shaped Room - Lynne Reid Banks
A Kind of Loving - Stan Barstow
The Game of Kings - Dorothy Dunnett
The Fox in the Attic - Richard Hughes
The Pumpkin Eater - Penelope Mortimer
The Drowned World - J.G. Ballard
Up the Junction - Nell Dunn
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold - John Le Carre
The Garrick Year - Margaret Drabble
Corridors of Power - CP Snow
Georgy Girl - Margaret Forster
Lost Empires - JB Priestley
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys Finished
The Jewel in the Crown - Paul Scott
The Magic Toyshop - Angela Carter
The Mimic Men - V.S. Naipaul
A Compass Error - Sybille Bedford
The Undiscovered Country - Julian Mitchell
A Bouquet of Barbed Wire - Andrea Newman
The Green Man - Kingsley Amis
I have none of these on hand, but may browse the library and see what I can find.

A. S. Byatt and Bruce Chatwin

10 Novels written prior to 1837

JUNE : THE HISTORIANS (Historical Fiction / Historians)
Georgette Heyer & Simon Schama

D. E. Stevenson and R. L. Stevenson

AUGUST : BRITAIN BETWEEN THE WARS (Writers active 1918-1939)
Winifred Holtby & Robert Graves

A novel chosen from each year of the new century

Jo Walton & Roald Dahl

NOVEMBER : POET LAUREATES : British laureates, children's laureate, National Poets

Elizabeth Gaskell and Neil Gaiman

Edited: Apr 2, 11:38am Top

The Canadian Authors Challenge---This is the challenge that challenges me the most, as it includes more authors I haven't previously heard of than the others. I didn't set the world on fire with it last year, and probably won't in 2017, but I am sure I will discover a few new authors thanks to Ilana's suggestions from this list:

January : Anne Michaels & Robertson Davies Finished Murther and Walking Spirits

February : Madeleine Thien & Rohinton Mistry Finished A Fine Balance

March : Anne Hebert & Alistair McLeod tried In the Shadow of the Wind, but did not care for it.

April : Margaret Atwood & Guy Vanderhaeghe

May : Louise Penny & Leonard Cohen

June : Heather O'Neill & Dan Vyleta

July : Carol Shields & Wayson Choy

August : Ruth Ozeki & Douglas Coupland

September : Lori Lansens & Steven Galloway

October : Alice Munro & Arthur Slade

November : Gil Adamson & Guy Gavriel Kay

December : Donna Morrisey & Wayne Johnston

Edited: Apr 2, 11:40am Top

Books acquired in 2017

1. Yashim Cooks Istanbul by Jason Goodwin
2. Jane Bowles: Collected Writings (LOA)
3. The Cat Who Rode Cows by Frances & Richard Lockridge
4. Darling of Misfortune by Richard Lockridge
5. The Weather in Africa by Martha Gellhorn
6. The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel
7. World War I and America Told by the Americans Who Lived It (LOA)
8. Death on the Aisle by Frances and Richard Lockridge
9. The Wish Tree by Kyo Maclear and Chris Turnham
10. The Gentle Lion and the Little Owlet by Alice Shirley
11. A Story for Bear by Dennis Haseley and Jim LaMarche
12. Joseph Banks: A Life by Patrick O'Brian (Folio)
13. Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne (Folio)
14. What Color is My World by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld
15. On the Shoulders of Giants by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld
16. The Night Gardener by The Fan Brothers
17. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
18. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
19. Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse
20. The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins


1. The House in Paris by Elizabeth Bowen
2. The Cool Cottontail by John Ball
3. Stoner by John Williams
4. Butcher's Crossing by John Williams
5. The Tennis Partner by Abraham Verghese
6. Mary McCarthy Novels & Stories 1942-1963 LOA
7. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (Everyman edition)
8. The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan


1. Author and Agent by Michael Kreyling
2. Embattled Freedom by Jim Remsen
3. New Boy by Tracy Chevalier
4. The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
5. If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-O by Sharyn McCrumb
6. Novels 1963-1979 by Mary McCarthy
7. One Coffee With by Margaret Maron
8. Death of A Butterfly by Margaret Maron
9. Scriptorium by Melissa Range
10. The Norths Meet Murder by Frances and Richard Lockridge (new PB edition)
11. The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter by Sharyn McCrumb
12. The Gastronomical Me by M. F. K. Fisher (Folio Society edition)
13. Last Lessons of Summer by Margaret Maron

Edited: Apr 2, 11:41am Top

Books culled in 2017


1. Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan
2. My Dog Skip by Willie Morris
3. Life Goes to the Movies
4. Kindred by Octavia Butler


1. Daughter of the Queen of Sheba by Jacki Lyden
2. Until I Find You by John Irving
3. What Color is My World by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
4. No Deals, Mr. Bond by John Gardner
5. The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman (old PB, replaced by LOA volume)
6. In Country by Bobbie Ann Mason
7. The Youngest Doll by Rosario Ferre
8. Classic Slave Narratives ed. by Henry Louis Gates (PB replaced by LOA volume)
9. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
10. Christmas Mourning by Margaret Maron
11. The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
12.-26. Fifteen Dick Francis paperbacks
27. Trace by Patricia Cornwell
28. The Body Farm by Patricia Cornwell
29.-32. Four Jeffrey Deaver paperbacks
33.-36 Four Faye Kellerman paperbacks
37.-41. Five Jonathan Kellerman paperbacks


1. Not Without Laughter by Langston Hughes (PB copy replaced by LOA Harlem Renaissance volume)
2. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
3. The Quants (JCK)
4. Lightless by C. A. Higgins (JCK)
5. Roadside Picnic by Arkady Strugatsky (JCK)
6. Clapton by Eric Clapton (JCK)
7. The Unabridged Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce (replaced by LOA volume)

Jan 1, 9:35pm Top

I am part of the group.
I love being part of the group.
I love the friendships bestowed upon my by dint of my membership of this wonderful fellowship.
I love that race and creed and gender and age and sexuality and nationality make absolutely no difference to our being a valued member of the group.

Thank you for also being part of the group.

Happy to be first up! Welcome back dear Linda. xx

Jan 1, 9:37pm Top

>9 PaulCranswick: And all that is why I love this group so. I view this coming year with some trepidation, as many of us do. But I know that the company and conversation here will be a bright spot in whatever comes along.

Jan 1, 9:39pm Top

>10 laytonwoman3rd: You will contribute to that as much as anyone, Linda, I am sure - whether battling Laura or being erudite generally. xx

Jan 1, 9:44pm Top

Welcome back, Linda.

Jan 1, 10:29pm Top

Welcome back!

Jan 1, 10:33pm Top

Hello, Linda!

Jan 1, 10:45pm Top

Happy New Thread, Linda! Happy New Year! Let's have another great reading year!

Jan 1, 10:56pm Top

Happy New Year, Linda.

Jan 2, 3:41am Top

Jan 2, 6:41am Top

Happy New Year, Linda!

Jan 2, 6:46am Top

Looking forward to your reviews Linda, I hope it will be a year of fine reading.

Jan 2, 10:15am Top

Just placing my star, Linda. I look forward to those flying book bullets....

Jan 2, 10:38am Top

Cheers to a new year, Linda!

Edited: Jan 2, 3:59pm Top

So nice to have all the lovely visitors! I hope those of you who lurked last year will pipe up once in a while...

I'm having some issues with my main computer, a/k/a my lifeline to the cyber-universe. My peach of a husband is working on it for me, so rather than attempting to finish building my thread on one of the other options available to me (with which I am less comfy), I will wait for the outcome of his efforts. And meanwhile, I will read!

Jan 2, 7:23pm Top

Happy new year!

Jan 2, 7:25pm Top

Hi laytonwoman3rd! I hope all is well with you. Happy New Year!

Jan 2, 11:14pm Top

>22 laytonwoman3rd: Best of luck with your computer issues, Linda.

Jan 3, 8:09am Top

Happy reading in 2017, Linda!

Jan 3, 2:00pm Top

Hi, Linda. Just stopping by to drop a star. Bummer about your computer - I'm the fixer in our house, so I can sympathize with your husband!

Jan 3, 2:33pm Top

Linda, I am really going to try and keep up with you better this year. Yes I am! I may just sit here and munch on those leftover cookies until you post some book news. Other people's leftovers are always better than mine.

Jan 4, 3:56am Top

>1 laytonwoman3rd: that's a great haul there Linda :-)

Jan 4, 8:09am Top

Welcome, welcome, welcome...so nice to have people stopping in. I'm using my laptop at the moment. I think my desktop is just not up to internetting much anymore---we're waaay back there on the operating system. Have tried 3 browsers and nothing will let Facebook work right, Firefox simply crashes every few minutes, IE wouldn't even let us download Chrome directly, had to fetch it from Mr. K's computer on a thumb drive. But it doesn't load photos or FB and won't import bookmarks from Firefox. No viruses or malware found. We're about to give it a decent burial, I guess.

Jan 4, 8:11am Top

SO, then....reading. I thought I'd start the New Year with a chuckle, so I sped through

1. The Bill the Cat Story by Berkeley Breathed Tells the tale of how Bill ended up safe and happy in Bloom County, after some fairly wild adventures. Marvelous artwork, and all the usual BB wierdness. Just the thing.

Edited: Jan 4, 9:21pm Top

2. The New Great American Writers Cookbook edited by Dean Faulkner Wells Yes, yes, I read cookbooks cover to cover sometimes. Especially when they are as funny as this one. There are some actual usable recipes in here (umpteen ways to make chili), but many of the contributors were having too much fun writing to pay attention to the science of cooking, and I wouldn't try the Flannery O'Connor chili, for instance ("take 1 whole boneless peacock...), which was submitted by Stewart O'Nan; nor do I think much of William Harrison's method for catching the timber rattler for camp stew (but actually, the stew sounds good!). Many of these are simply hilarious. And then there were the authors who declined to send a recipe, but ended up in the book anyway --Rita Mae Brown, who wrote "My cat, Sneaky Pie Brown, is writing a cookbook for cats, but I don't think dried mole would be appetizing." Or Dean Koontz, who declared "I cook no better than Mr. Toad drove his motor car..." I didn't actually count, but it does seem that Southern writers might be in the overwhelming majority here, which wouldn't be surprising, given that Ms. Wells lived in Oxford, MS, and was a great friend and mentor to many, many authors. Oh, btw, would someone please write a biography of Dean Faulkner Wells? How I wish I could have met her.

Jan 4, 10:06am Top

I acquired Ms. Wells' memoir of her grandfather, William Faulkner, for 97 cents at Goodwill less than a week ago. I'd heard of the book, Every Day by the Sun, and it was on my mental watch list. I am glad to hear she can write.

Sorry about your computer. I've got to ferret out a couple of panels from the comic strip "Shoe," which I saved. Pertinent.

Edited: Jan 5, 8:02am Top

>33 weird_O: oh, I loved Shoe! Cosmo Fish Hawk and the rest... I also enjoyed Every Day by the Sun. (Btw, my man Bill was her uncle, not her grandpa.)

Jan 4, 12:03pm Top

RIP computer. Does that mean you get a new toy soon Linda?

The cookbook sounds a hoot.

Jan 4, 1:02pm Top

>31 laytonwoman3rd: Aaack! I love Bill the Cat, but I especially love Opus. I miss them all!

Jan 4, 5:30pm Top

Happy New Year, Linda! Sorry to hear about your computer, though.

Jan 4, 9:00pm Top

Well, upon further investigation, the problem with the computer seems to be only with its relationship with Facebook. If that is true, I'll get my fix of that from my phone, and carry on with everything else here at my comfy desk. I don't think my husband is entirely satisfied yet, but that's OK.

>27 rretzler: I'm a pretty fair hand at resolving problems myself, Robin. But when it gets tricky I call in the expert (my husband was "the IT guy" before he retired, so he likes to keep his hand in!). Oh, and >36 rretzler: do you know that Bloom County is back, but only on Facebook? One of the reasons I NEED that site to be working, in spite of other good reasons to avoid it.

>35 Caroline_McElwee:, >37 kidzdoc: As I recently upgraded to my first smart phone, Caroline, and got a new fancy pants SLR camera as well, I have enough toys to be carrying on with. I would be just as happy to keep this computer going for a while, and if Facebook is the only thing that won't function, I'll live with that.

Jan 4, 9:12pm Top

Hello there Linda! Dropping in to plop my star and take a cup of tea with honey and lemon while I'm at it. Looks as if things are off to a rousing start around here. Loved the cookbook review. I'm another cover-to-cover reader of the genre. I come by it honestly having learned from Mom and Grandma. This one sounds a right hoot.

Glad to hear the computer problems are being sorted. Wishing you a glitch-free 2017 full of reading and happiness!

Jan 4, 10:18pm Top

Happy New Year, Linda.
>1 laytonwoman3rd: Nice haul - you have some great reading ahead.

Jan 4, 10:22pm Top

Ok, now you're starred! You know what I've got going on in R.L., so you'll understand why my visits will be fleeting and irregular. All the best for 2017 and happy reading. I love your top pics!

Jan 5, 7:12am Top

I've been quietly "curating" my LT Talk page by finding 2017 threads from friends old and new. I just haven't been announcing myself. But I'm here ... lurking and reading and ready for book chat!

Jan 5, 10:44am Top

>39 michigantrumpet: Marianne---hope to see more of you round and about this year!
>40 BLBera: Beth, thank you!
>41 tiffin: I hope you can take some solace and breathing time here occasionally, Tui.
>42 lauralkeet: That's what I've been doing too, Laura. I've pretty much decided that first threads for 2017 will have to chug along without me, since they blossomed so riotously behind my back. I'll touch base with all the usual suspects eventually.

Jan 5, 11:39am Top

Oh gosh, I didn't know that Opus and Bill were back via facebook! Thanks for that!

Jan 5, 11:43am Top

>44 scaifea: Glad to be of service! It's not an every day kind of thing, but if you find the page and "like" it, all the new ones will pop up in your feed.

Jan 5, 4:24pm Top

>38 laytonwoman3rd: Making my way to FB now to catch up with old friends (the Bloom County variety!)

Jan 5, 4:29pm Top

>46 rretzler: Happy reunion!

Edited: Jan 7, 11:17am Top

DNF. Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan. My first DNF of the year. No life in the characters...just words on the page. The author droned on, telling us stuff without letting anybody do anything in real time. This is my nightmare of what would happen if I tried to write a novel.

Jan 7, 8:41am Top

>48 laytonwoman3rd: Oh, ew. Sorry that you've had a dud so early on, Linda.

Edited: Jan 7, 8:44am Top

Do like the new topper addition Linda.

Glad the computer is only picketing Facebook!

Shame about >48 laytonwoman3rd:, lets hope you got the DNF out of the way this year.

Jan 7, 8:55am Top

>48 laytonwoman3rd: yuck! Hope your next read is more satisfying.

Jan 7, 11:10am Top

>48 laytonwoman3rd:: made me snorfle at that one.

Jan 7, 8:33pm Top

Oh, too bad your first book was a dud. I read Maine a few years ago and remember being disappointed. I wish I would have done as you did just stopped reading.

Jan 8, 12:41pm Top

Happy New Year, Linda! I'll be looking for tips on retirement. Glad to see you had such a good reading year last year.

Jan 8, 2:27pm Top

3. This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff I read this memoir for the January Non-Fiction Challenge, in the category of "Prize Winners". Wolff won the Pen Faulkner Award in 1985 for his novella The Barracks Thief; the Pen Malamud Award for short fiction in 2006; and a handful of other writing awards. This book won the Los Angeles Times Book Award in 1989; was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award that year; and received The Ambassador Book Award for Biography/Autobiography in 1990. It is by way of being a classic of the memoir sub-genre of "Dysfunctional family/abusive childhood" stories. As a young boy, Toby Wolff and his divorced mother left Florida (and the abusive man they had been living with) for Utah, where his mother thought they could cash in on the "uranium rush". Eventually they ended up in Seattle where his mother married yet another
controlling bastard, a Great Santini sort of character with a weaker moral compass and no hope of going down in a heroic blaze. Dwight was a master of subtle cruelty and psychological abuse, keeping physical violence to a minimum, but capable of it, nonetheless. Growing up with Dwight as a stepfather was similar to a shoplifter being sent to prison with the armed robbers---Jack learned to hone his techniques of deception by watching and sparring with a seasoned pro. Jack’s ultimate sting involved stealing school letterhead and transcript forms, writing bogus recommendation letters, and ultimately conning his way to a prep school scholarship, complete with an appropriate expensive wardrobe. The memoir is completely lacking in any sense of self-justification, rationalization or finger-pointing. I felt a good deal of sympathy for Jack, and that’s a tribute to the author’s skill, because reading about adolescent boys and their obnoxious or dangerous pranks usually just makes me really glad I didn’t have to raise one myself. One day I will undoubtedly carry on with his subsequent memoirs, Old School and In Pharoah’s Army, to learn how this sneaky conniving little whelp managed to become such a fine writer, and whether he turned out to be a human being I might like to meet.

Jan 8, 2:31pm Top

It's years since I read Wolff Linda, but I have read all three books mentioned, as well as at least one novel. It's funny how one reads a lot of a particular writer for a while, and then stops. Sometimes it's because they haven't published so much, but otherwise maybe you just move on.

Jan 8, 2:42pm Top

>49 scaifea:, >50 Caroline_McElwee:, >51 lauralkeet: Well, the up side is I can move the book out of the house now!

>52 tiffin: Always glad to provide a chuckle!

>53 BLBera: It wasn't my first book of the year, Beth, just the first one I didn't finish reading. I sometimes actively select a book I think I might not want to read so I can get rid of it if I'm right! If I'm wrong, of course, I've had a good reading experience. Win, win!

>54 jnwelch: Joe, what can I tell you? You already know about reading!

>56 Caroline_McElwee: I often used to binge on a particular author or subject, Caroline, but I haven't done it in a while.

Jan 8, 3:40pm Top

Hi Linda! Dropping a star here. And I can certainly sympathize with your recent computer woes. I've just come through my own!

In looking at your book haul, above, I have to ask, what is the title of the Patrick Taylor? The print is a bit small for me to make out. I just recognize the spine/art style. Patrick Taylor's Irish Country books are a secret obsession of mine. However...I only listen to them on audiobook, as that was how I first discovered them. The reader, on audio for all of them, is John Keating, and he is so masterful at the various accents, that I always know exactly who is speaking, just by his voice and nuances. I have listened to so many of them, I think there are only 2, maybe 3 that I have yet to find. They are really a delight.

Jan 8, 9:52pm Top

>55 laytonwoman3rd: The book on Tobias Wolff looks very interesting, Linda.

Nice to see you starting the year with so much reading.

Jan 9, 9:14am Top

>58 jessibud2: The Taylor is An Irish Country Love Story, Shelley. It's the latest one. My husband has read 'em all. I've read the first two, but haven't tried any on audio yet.

>59 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul.

Jan 9, 9:28am Top

>60 laytonwoman3rd: - Oh, I haven't seen that one yet! I get the audios mainly from the library although I have bought 2 from a local indie bookstore that specializes in British books. Do try at least one on audio, if you can find one. I promise you, you will be hooked!!

Jan 9, 9:31am Top

>61 jessibud2: Noted! I don't spend as much time alone in the car as I did when I was driving back and forth to work, and I haven't found listening to audio books works very well for me in any other situation, but I still like to have that option for some of my longer expeditions when there's no one else in the car.

Edited: Jan 9, 10:17am Top

For anyone who might like to take a shot at a free book (anyone?) check this out. I mean, all you have to do is tell them what you read this month. Every title you list gets you an entry into a drawing. I've ordered from VJ Books a few times, and it was always a positive experience.

Jan 9, 10:19am Top

Happy 2017 to you. You read some incredible books last year.

Jan 9, 12:09pm Top

>63 laytonwoman3rd: I'm now afraid to enter anything like that. The last time I did, I got deluged with 10 - 12 spam emails a day from authors I've never heard of. They said that because I had entered this contest that I gave them permission to email me. Um. NO. At least I think they are paying attention to my unsubscribe requests. I'm down to 3 - 5 emails a down. I hope to eventually see the last of them. Ugh.

Edited: Jan 12, 5:25pm Top

>65 Morphidae: Ew, that's not cool. I would hope nothing like that happens here.

>64 Whisper1: Nice to see you here, Linda!

Jan 9, 1:52pm Top

Dropping off my star and wishing you all good things in 2017!

Edited: Jan 9, 3:49pm Top

>67 EBT1002: Oh, good, Ellen's here! (Have I found your thread yet? EEEK, No... *runs to catch up*)

Jan 12, 11:51am Top


Monring, Linda!


Jan 12, 12:11pm Top

>69 katiekrug: LOL! I guess we're both good at the lurking, eh?

Jan 12, 12:33pm Top

We could win medals if it were an Olympic sport....

Jan 12, 5:10pm Top

Happy Thursday, Linda! Thanks for the tip at >63 laytonwoman3rd:!

Jan 15, 9:17pm Top

I've meant to read Wolff's memoir, at least that first one, for yonks -- it's such a strange story.

Jan 17, 11:28pm Top

But everyone once in a while you have to speak up and say Hi!!

Jan 18, 11:26am Top

>63 laytonwoman3rd: >65 Morphidae: So did you get a bunch of emails from it? If not, I'll go ahead and enter.

Edited: Jan 18, 12:34pm Top

>75 Morphidae: I get e-mails occasionally from VJ Books anyway, Morphy, as I have done business with them. I haven't noticed any onslaught since entering the contest. And none from anywhere else that I would attribute to that.

>72 michigantrumpet: We're doing all this reading anyway, right?

>74 Berly: Yes, glad to know who's peeking in here, Kim.

>73 sibyx: I thought it was a very worthwhile read, Lucy.

Edited: Jan 21, 10:59am Top

4. Murther and Walking Spirits by Robertson Davies After setting off me icky old man alarms with his Rebel Angels, Robertson Davies has rehabilitated himself for me with this one. It's one of his later works, and is described on the cover of my Penguin edition as "warmer and mellower" than anything he had previously written.

The novel begins with the death of its narrator, Connor Gilmartin, who walks in on his wife and her lover, and gets coshed with a weighted walking stick for his indiscretion. Adding insult to injury, the lover was a newspaper colleague Gil contemptuously referred to as "the Sniffer", a man seemingly possessed of no personal magnetism or uncommon sexual appeal whatsoever. Furthermore, as the murder is officially attributed to an unidentified intruder, the Sniffer gets away with it. Gil finds himself in an odd sort of limbo in which he must accompany his murderer to a film festival for several days, viewing a rather different sort of cinema than the classics being shown to the Sniffer and everyone else. As generations of family history unfold on the screen, both Gil and the reader learn a great deal about American and Canadian history that aren't well-covered in the textbooks. He finds himself to be descended from Loyalists who fled the colonies of North America to settle in Canada at the time of the American Revolution. This works well as straight historical fiction, and if Davies had left out the frame he still would have had a fine novel. But naturally, the point of all this is for Gil to come to a fuller understanding of who he was, and what meaning his life may have had. At one point, Gil observes "It is merciful of Whatever or Whoever is directing my existence at this moment to show the past as a work of art, for it was as a work of art that I tried to understand life, while I had life, and much of my indignation at the manner of my death is its want of artistic form, dimension, emotional weight, dignity." 4 stars

Jan 18, 12:59pm Top

>7 laytonwoman3rd: After setting off me icky old man alarms


(that's a snort and a giggle)

Jan 18, 1:42pm Top

Hi, Linda!

I am in the middle of Fifth Business and am so crazy about it that I find it disappointing that he wrote something not, well, not quite, if you know what I mean.

Glad to have located your thread, though.

Jan 18, 3:49pm Top

>78 Morphidae: Heheheh... (and that is NOT an icky old man laugh)

>79 bohemima: Hi, Gail! Long time no see. I really liked Fifth Business too, and now I'm much more inclined to read the other two books in the Deptford Trilogy, which rests patiently on my shelf.

Jan 18, 3:52pm Top

>80 laytonwoman3rd: Nope, that's an icky old wom-


Jan 21, 10:06am Top

I hope I don't (yet) qualify as an Icky Old Man but you have curious about the Robertson Davies.

Have a great weekend, Linda.

Jan 21, 11:00am Top

>82 PaulCranswick: Full review posted at >77 laytonwoman3rd: above now, Paul.

Edited: Jan 21, 11:24am Top

5. Murder By Proxy by Ann Morice A cozy mystery by a British author new to me. I came across several of Morice's books on the shelf while browsing through my public library's mystery section, and decided to give her a try. Unfortunately the first few titles in her Tessa Crichton series were not there, so I started well into the middle of things. It didn't seem to matter. Tessa is an actress, married to an Inspector at Scotland Yard, although her husband hardly came into the story here, except as a sounding board. When an old friend calls on Tess to find out who in her odd extended family might be trying to kill her, the amateur sleuth kicks into gear and sorts it all out. Pleasant and fairly intelligent. I'll give Morice another go one of these days.

Edited: Jan 21, 2:38pm Top

6. The Cat Who Rode Cows by Frances & Richard Lockridge A cat story for young readers by my long-time favorite mystery writing team. The Lockridges certainly understood cats, as anyone who has read any of the Mr. and Mrs. North series will know. They also had a fairly sophisticated appreciation of children, for a couple without any of their own, judging by the few stories they wrote for young people. In this one, a city cat moves with her family to a country home, and learns to cope with the great outdoors. There's probably a lesson in it for children who might face scary new situations, as well. Lovely illustrations by Peggy Bacon, who had an affinity for cats herself.

Jan 21, 11:49am Top

>84 laytonwoman3rd: Definitely drawn to all things cozy - especially mysteries. Just added to my Wishlist. Thanks for the pointer in the right direction!

Wishing you a happy weekend, Linda!

Jan 21, 11:54am Top

>86 michigantrumpet: Thanks, Marrianne! I'm always glad to make an introduction.

Jan 21, 12:39pm Top

Happy Saturday, Linda! Hope all is well. And I hope those books are treating you fine.

Edited: Jan 21, 3:39pm Top

7. Kindred by Octavia Butler Read for the AAC. My daughter (and others) recommended this one, there was a copy in the house, and as Butler was the January author for the AAC, the time was right.

Dana Franklin, a black woman, inexplicably finds herself whisked away from her home and her white husband in 1976, back to the early 19th century, and a Maryland plantation where she arrives just in time to save a young boy from drowning. Over a relatively short period of modern time, she is hauled through that same black hole to save him from certain death (usually because of his own irresponsible actions) again and again. He grows older, moving through time normally, and somehow summoning her to his aid whenever necessary. For Dana, her incursions into the past may span months of 19th century time, but upon her return to her present, she finds she has been gone only minutes, or hours, or days. She cannot return at will, and finds she must be in mortal danger herself to return home. The only explanation offered for what is happening is that Dana must keep this man alive long enough for him to father one of her ancestors. Never a fan of time travel stories, I had reservations about that element of Kindred, but I found nothing in the story itself hindered by the usual complications attendant on having characters moving around in time. The author solved the problem (for me, anyway) by making it a supernatural occurrence rather than a technical scientific process, and by setting her characters in the present in such a way that no one ever missed them while they were "away". SO the only problem left is managing those 19th century people who happen to observe her appearing from nowhere, and disappearing before their very eyes. Even granted that some of those people had beliefs that would have inclined them to accept the "super" natural as part of the natural order of things, and that within the story others had reason to be so grateful for Dana's interventions that they shrugged off what they could not understand, this remained a problem for my suspension of disbelief. Furthermore, the idea that a 20th century black woman could integrate herself in any way into the life of an ante-bellum Southern plantation without ending up dead pretty damned soon is awfully hard to swallow. The mistakes she would be prone to, the diseases and infections she would have no resistance to...drinking the water would probably have killed her. There was some interesting exploration of the way a person comes to accept being a slave (a corollary of the Stockholm syndrome, I suppose); some of the personal interaction among the characters was quite complex and probably accounts for the fact that I kept turning the pages with interest. All in all, though, I think this book is more flawed than fabulous, and I can't give it more than 3 stars.

Jan 21, 4:04pm Top

Three lovely story books for young readers, with amazing illustrations. Added to my collection for my grandnieces, due to the generosity of a dear LT friend.

8. The Wish Tree by Kyo Maclear and Chris Turnham A little boy takes his toboggan in search of a "wish tree", which everyone tells him does not exist.

9. The Gentle Lion and the Little Owlet by Alice Shirley Based on the true story of a baby owl who fell from a nest into the Lion's enclosure at a zoo in Devon, England.

10. A Story for Bear by Dennis Haseley and Jim LaMarche A curious bear watches a young woman reading outside as summer progresses, and eventually comes close enough to listen.

Jan 21, 4:06pm Top

Dang! Well, I hope I have a better take on this one than you, because that's what I have lined up to read for the AAC. Crossing fingers!!

Jan 21, 4:30pm Top

>90 laytonwoman3rd: love that last image Linda. You can see it is dawning on him what it is like to have too much choice hahaha!

Edited: Jan 21, 4:37pm Top

>91 Berly: So many people have praised it, Kim---and it's been around long enough to be considered a minor classic by now, I suppose. I would not discourage anyone from reading it, by any means, and I'm not sorry that I did. 3 stars isn't a condemnation!

>92 Caroline_McElwee: "Where am I going to put all these?" A very familiar feeling!

Jan 21, 5:06pm Top

>89 laytonwoman3rd: Very nice Linda. You explained it much better than I did, although I didn't want to be too spoilery. I too kept thinking, how is Dana not dead from Dengue Fever and whatever else was going around?

Jan 21, 5:55pm Top

>90 laytonwoman3rd: - Lovely illustrations. If you like the last 2, especially, may I suggest Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson with illustrations by Jane Chapman. There are several titles in the series, and they are lyrically a joy to read and visually a delight to behold. I used these books extensively in my classroom when I was teaching, for language arts. dramatic arts, and just for fun. I don't know how old your grandnieces are but I think they'd appeal to a wide age range.

http://karmawilson.com/books/main.htm (scroll down to see the Bear books)

Jan 21, 6:13pm Top

>94 RBeffa: Thanks, Ron. I'm always hesitant to be critical of a book that has such a positive reputation among readers I respect. It's good not to be out there all alone!

>95 jessibud2: Oh, I'm always glad to have a recommendation, Shelley. Our "babies" are 3 1/2 and 2. I love books that can "grow" along with them.

Jan 21, 10:12pm Top

I gave Kindred 3 stars as well. (Well, a 6/10.)

Mini-review: "Very well written but none of the characters were appealing which reduced my enjoyment. I wanted to smack Dana several times and ask, "What the hell are you DOING?" Her husband was a moron and Rufus and his father were a nasty pair. Even the other slaves were mostly unpleasant. The ending was abrupt and confusing. I'm hoping a different Butler will be better as I loved Bloodchild."

Jan 22, 11:22am Top

I second the Karma Wilson Bear books. Charlie and I love 'em.

Jan 22, 12:15pm Top

Love the illustration from the cat book!

Jan 22, 2:08pm Top

>97 Morphidae: More validation! Thanks, Morphy.

>98 scaifea: OK, then...two strong votes for Karma Wilson. Must seek those out.

>99 sibyx: Yup...I've seen my own cat go flat out like that, and she's never even outside. From living room to under the bed in 3 seconds flat, at the least suggestion of the UPS truck being in the neighborhood!

Jan 22, 2:20pm Top

Great review of Kindred, Linda. I think I'll give that one a miss.

Have you ever read One Lady, Two Cats? It's the very charming story of what happens to Richard Lockridge after the death of his wife. A bit old-fashioned, but sweet in a non-sticky way. I read it last year and loved it.

Jan 22, 10:23pm Top

>101 bohemima: I have read One Lady, Two Cats, Gail. I felt bad for poor Hildy, trying to warm up to the cats. Did you know she wrote books, too? Her name was Hildegard Dolson. We Shook the Family Tree may be her most well known book. It was adapted as a play, and my mother's high school class presented it as their senior play. Years later, when I attended the same high school, I discovered Richard and Frances Lockridge, and eventually Hildy, not realizing the connection until I began seriously to collect the Lockridge books. I think I now own a hardback copy of every title Richard and Frances published, as well as everything Richard published alone after Frances died. I'm still working on Hildy's opus.

Jan 22, 11:33pm Top

As for Kindred, I love Butler!!! I met her about a month before she died and actually got to talk with her for quite a while at a book signing that other people avoided because of the weather. Kindred is her best known work, but as far as I can tell, it is her least imaginative. Don't judge her by Kindred.

And I'm dying to know what set off your icky old man alarms??? Makes me want to read him just to see.

Edited: Jan 26, 11:45am Top

>103 cammykitty: Butler's writing impressed me, Katie. Unfortunately, I'm not a big fan of sci-fi, and I chose this novel because I had been told it was the least sci-fi-ish of her works. I may give something else a try one day.

I don't remember exactly what I found distasteful in The Rebel Angels. I just know there were creepy old men in it who gave me that icky feeling. I would not put people off of Davies because of that one novel. He is truly a wonderful story teller.

Edited: Jan 27, 5:16pm Top

11. The Eyes of the Buddha by John Ball I can't remember ever reading a John Ball novel before, although naturally I "know" his most famous character, Virgil Tibbs. I didn't even realize there was a series of Tibbs books beyond In the Heat of the Night. This is the fifth in that series, and I will definitely go back and begin at the beginning. In the books, as opposed to the movie and TV versions, Tibbs is a detective in Los Angeles. He is well respected, his deductive reasoning powers are Holmesian, and he gets assigned to the trickiest cases. He has a reputation, because his story has been told on the big screen by this time, and people know his name. (One woman he introduced himself to gave him a "Yeah, right! You're Virgil Tibbs. And I'm Dionne Warwick" sort of response, until he showed her his ID.) His partners, in work and in life, are Japanese Americans, and he has an affinity for Far Eastern things. He knows great music, of many genres, and not just the standards, either. I enjoyed his company and his thought processes as he worked to sort out two cases--the death of a young woman whose decomposing body is found in a remote area of a local park, and the disappearance of one of the "Rose Princesses" who walked out of an official luncheon gathering and has not been seen or heard from for a year. Could they be the same person? My only quibble with Ball's style is that he can't seem to let any character speak without first telling us what's going through the person's mind.

Jan 26, 11:44am Top

12. Slow Burn by Ace Atkins I continue to enjoy the Spenser series, as carried on by Ace Atkins. His writing style is quite different than Parker's, and Spenser is starting to feel like a slightly different character than the old scamp I used to love. Inevitably Spenser IS aging, and Atkins acknowledges that in ways Parker had not begun to. I think it's that the mythic quality is gone, except in occasional scenes involving Hawk. In this outing, Spenser is on the trail of a firebug who has caused the death of three Boston firefighters. As with Atkins' last Spenser adventure, Kickback, this one is loosely based on actual events.

Jan 26, 5:14pm Top

>90 laytonwoman3rd: Love these Linda. I'm thinking they might be just right for my granddaughter.

Jan 26, 5:49pm Top

>106 laytonwoman3rd: Ditto for me, Linda. I liked Slow Burn, and I've been enjoying Atkins' continuation of the series. I agree that Spenser is slightly different; hard to put my finger on how.

Edited: Jan 27, 12:32pm Top

>107 BLBera: Isn't it fun to find new books for the young'uns? You might like the latest one I've read as well:

13. The Night Gardener by Terry and Eric Fan A little boy wakes up to find a tree on his street has been magically sculpted into an owl. Each subsequent morning, a new topiary appears in the town, until one night, as the little boy is on his way home, he "catches" the night gardener coming to work. Not much story here, but the illustrations are just exquisite. There is a message in it, though, about how beauty and magic can transform the ordinary.

Jan 27, 11:14am Top

I need to get back to my Spenser books. I miss the "old scamp"! But I miss Hawk even more. Thanks for the reminder.

Jan 27, 11:28am Top

Me, too!!

Jan 27, 11:28am Top

I want that cat topiary. And all the cats.

Jan 27, 12:30pm Top

>110 Donna828:, >111 Berly: What would life be without Spenser and Hawk!

>112 lauralkeet: Isn't that wonderful? The owl is amazing too. It's on the cover of the book; so if you click on the touchstone, you'll see that one.

Edited: Jan 27, 1:28pm Top

>109 laytonwoman3rd: - I love those images! Ok, warning: possible book bullets about to be launched. These images reminded me of 3 books I own that are equally (though in a different way), exquisite. If you have never seen or heard of them, check them out. I suggest going to the bookstore or library to do so because there is no way the full gorgeous effect will come through on a computer screen. They are written by Sarah L. Thomson and the magnificent illustrations are by Rob Gonsalves. The books are called: Imagine A Place, Imagine a Day and Imagine a Night. I don't know how to put pictures into a post so you will have to take my word for it. You can thank me later... ;-)

Edited to add, that in Imagine a Place, my favourite is the picture that goes with these words: imagine a place...where words shelter you, ideas uphold you, and thoughts lead you to the secret inside the labyrinth.

Hmm, I think a re-read may be in order. Today! :-)

Edited: Jan 27, 2:04pm Top

>114 jessibud2: *shakes fist* Curse you Red Baron! You've peppered my fuselage with book bullets! Seriously, thanks, Shelley. I'm going to check those out. I love learning about beautiful books.

Jan 27, 3:09pm Top

>115 laytonwoman3rd: - Just a note to add that although you would probably find these in the children's section, or with picture books, I think their appeal would be more for older kids, not little ones. A bit too abstract for young concrete thinkers. But they are terrific for *us kids*, if you know what I mean...

I was also tickled to learn (if I knew, I'd forgotten) that the illustrator, Rob Gonsalves, is Canadian!



Jan 27, 4:01pm Top

Some nice reviews, here! Especially >105 laytonwoman3rd:. Huh. Did not know there was a Tibbs series. Learn something new all the time!

Jan 27, 8:01pm Top

>109 laytonwoman3rd: love the cat tree.

Jan 28, 12:09pm Top

>117 michigantrumpet: How about that? I can't believe I was so unaware of the series.

>118 Caroline_McElwee: Me too.

Jan 28, 12:14pm Top

>116 jessibud2: Thank you for those links, Shelley. Now that I look at Gonsalves's art, I recognize a couple. Unfortunately, though, our library system has none of the Imagine books. I'll have to hunt them down elsewhere.

Edited: Feb 20, 12:45pm Top

14. What Color is My World? by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld A young reader's book that highlights the contributions of African Americans to science, medicine and technology, in the context of a story about a brother and sister helping to clean up an old house they will be moving into. Cleverly done.

I knew Ray Obstfeld slightly when I was in college. His parents owned a Jewish delicatessen just off campus, and he read poetry at "The Ragged Edge", a short-lived coffee house run by college students. He was probably still in high school at that time. He has turned out to be a prolific writer across several genres, and teaches at a college in California.

I've passed this book on to a friend who has grandchildren exactly the right age to appreciate it. (I hope.)

Jan 29, 6:45pm Top

Thank you for the honest review of Kindred, Linda. I've had it "on the go" for a couple of weeks now, and while it's fine when I pick it up and read a chapter, I'm not finding it particularly compelling. And as I am really trying hard to give myself permission to stop reading things that are not engaging me, I think your review has convinced me to set it aside. So thank you for helping me to Just Say No :)

Jan 29, 10:45pm Top

15. In the Heat of the Night by John Ball "Virgil is a mighty fancy name for a black boy like yourself. What do they call you back around there where you come from?" We all know the answer to that---"They call me Mr. Tibbs." This is the novel which introduced Virgil Tibbs--John Ball's first novel--and it is quite remarkable. On his way home to California after visiting his mother, Virgil is hauled in for questioning when a body is found lying in the middle of the street in the small town in South Carolina where he is waiting for the next train north. Imagine the chagrin of the inexperienced Chief Gillespie when he finds this perfect black suspect turns out to be a well-educated police investigator who can detect rings around his whole department, and without whose assistance he will surely screw up and lose his job. This must have been heady stuff in 1965, and it still plays very well.

Jan 29, 11:34pm Top

>123 laytonwoman3rd: And now I get the line from The Lion King:

Pumbaa: "They call me Mr. Pig!"

Jan 30, 6:12am Top

>123 laytonwoman3rd: Linda, have you seen the movie? Rod Steiger and Sidney Poitier. OUTSTANDING.

>124 Morphidae: OMG I made that connection!!!

Jan 30, 6:33am Top

>123 laytonwoman3rd: Lovely review, Linda. I need to get round to this one at some point.

>125 lauralkeet: I've seen the movie, which I agree is amazing, and have always since wanted to read the book!

Edited: Jan 30, 10:31am Top

>125 lauralkeet: Oh, yes, I've seen the movie. And some of the TV series with Carroll O'Connor and Howard Rollins (from Ragtime) as well.

Edited: Jan 30, 10:34am Top

>124 Morphidae: And also..."Are you talking to me? Are you talkin' to ME???" There are a lot of references to catch in that movie.
>126 scaifea: It is a fast read, Amber. And you'll enjoy the similarities in style between Sherlock Holmes and Virgil Tibbs when it comes to observation and deduction.

Jan 30, 10:35am Top

>122 katiekrug: Glad you appreciated my review of Kindred, Katie. Even though I didn't rate it too highly, it has left some pretty clear images in my brain---but almost anything related to the era of slavery will do that.

Edited: Jan 31, 1:08pm Top

16. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey As delightful as I remember, with illustrations that just scream "Award Winning". As of course, it is...a Caldecott Medal winner.

Jan 31, 1:27pm Top

>Nice review, and thanks for the BB. I've never heard of Virgil Tibbs, but I'll check him out.

Jan 31, 1:55pm Top

>130 laytonwoman3rd: I thought it was good, too, when I read it for the first time several years ago.

Jan 31, 7:50pm Top

>130 laytonwoman3rd: Love that one!

Feb 1, 4:58am Top

>130 laytonwoman3rd: lovely drawings.

Feb 1, 10:16pm Top

>131 EllaTim: The first one should be easy to find---there was a 50th anniversary edition published in 2015. I don't know if the rest of the series is still in print, but at least my library seems to have most of them. Good luck!

>132 Morphidae: I remember reading this to my daughter years back, but for some reason it never made it into our own collection. I remedied that situation now!

>133 thornton37814: Yeah...someday I'll get back to Boston, and I'll visit the statues of the ducks in the Public Garden.

>134 Caroline_McElwee: The whole book is a treat.

Feb 1, 10:24pm Top

17. The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel An ARC sent to me by a dear and perceptive friend, this book will be published in March. And although it's only February, I know this will be one of my top reads of the year. Utterly fascinating account of the life of a man who disappeared into the Maine woods in 1986 at the age of 20, and lived there completely alone for the next 27 years. He survived by being extremely cautious and resourceful, and by selectively stealing food and other necessities (including books) from cabins and camps when the occupants were away. After reading this account, I am inclined to agree with the man himself, who characterized Thoreau as a "dilettante". Highly recommended.

Feb 2, 12:07am Top

>136 laytonwoman3rd: Linda, naturally we heard a lot about Christopher Knight on the local news here when he was finally found. I didn't realize that this book was coming out, but will definitely look for it. Thanks for putting it on our radar.

Edited: Feb 2, 9:26am Top

>137 tututhefirst:. Glad to spread the word, Tina. I couldn't put it down.

Feb 2, 12:40pm Top

>136 laytonwoman3rd: Uh oh. A book bullet.....

Feb 2, 7:44pm Top

Well that's intriguing ... I'm not familiar with that story at all.

Feb 2, 8:16pm Top

Linda--I enjoyed Kindred more than you, but I agree that it was flawed; however, my issues with it are not the same ones you had. I am also reading The Invisible Man at the same time and I think looking at issues then and more recently kept me interested in Kindred. I haven't written my review yet, but hope to get to it this weekend.

Feb 4, 12:04pm Top

>139 NanaCC: That's the chance you take...*grins*
>140 lauralkeet: It's a good one, Laura.
>141 Berly: Hey, Kim. Did you post a review of Kindred including your issues with it? (I'll go check that out.) I've been visiting over on your Obama Reading Thread, and I hope to get around to several of those titles, including Invisible Man.

Feb 4, 12:35pm Top

>136 laytonwoman3rd: That does sound interesting. Especially if the author has Thoreau's number. I'm reading Robinson Crusoe just now; different era. Oh, and fictional, too.

Edited: Feb 4, 4:59pm Top

>143 weird_O: To be fair, it wasn't the author who found Thoreau a bit wanting--he seems to admire Walden the way I did as a romantic 15 year old. His subject, the actual hermit, however, didn't have much use for old HDT, because he kept slipping into town for a nice hot meal and some socialization!

Feb 4, 10:32pm Top

>144 laytonwoman3rd: Ahhhhh. I thought the book was a personal narrative, that the author was the guy who, uh, dropped outa sight. I've never gotten through Walden; Thoreau seems sooo smug. I'm curious about the mental state of people who get stranded in isolation for years. I've heard of a prisoner or two held in isolation for years who was (were) driven slowly into mental illness. Crusoe, in the novel, doesn't mention the lack of human companionship being a notable problem. Have you read Krakauer's Into the Wild? Does that touch on isolation's impact on mental health?

PS I got out the three books you are going to reread. They are staring at me. Arms folded, foots tapping. All the King's Men was a long-ago read for me. Ragtime I read when it was published in pbk--how long ago is that. The Sound and the Fury I read sometime in the last 5 years.

Feb 4, 10:51pm Top

>145 weird_O: I haven't read Into the Wild, but I get the impression that McCandless was a very different sort of fellow than Christopher Knight, the subject of The Stranger in the Woods. First of all, McCandless was "on an adventure", and was found dead about two years after he set out into the wilderness, whereas Knight sought a solitary life style, not excitement, and he maintained it well for over 25 years.

So, are you going to re-read my treasures as well? There is a new edition of All the King's Men out there, supposedly closer to the author's original than the edited version that was published in 1946. I'm never sure how to feel about that kind of thing. Having just watched the movie "Genius", about Maxwell Perkins' editing relationship with Thomas Wolfe, I do believe that even the great authors need a little clean-up sometimes!

Feb 5, 12:23pm Top

>146 laytonwoman3rd: The Stranger in the Woods seems interesting enough that I've ordered it from the library.

Feb 5, 12:48pm Top

Ah, a BB with The Stranger in the Woods! Sounds precisely up my street. I like Thoreau, but, yeah; he surely was a diletante.

Also, you struck me with the whole Virgil Tibs series. I've been vaguely aware of it, but not very curious. That's fixed now.

Thanks for your insightful reviews.

Feb 5, 12:52pm Top

>147 Morphidae:, >148 bohemima: My copy was an Advance Reader's edition, so it won't be generally available until publication in March, but I'm glad to have fired your interest in this book!

My husband and I just watched the movie version of In the Heat of the Night, and it is almost completely faithful to the book...excellent. We probably both saw it before, but I only remember one or two highly reproduced scenes. It's well worth seeking out.

Feb 5, 5:27pm Top

>149 laytonwoman3rd: I'm #2 of 9 on order copies. So at least I'll get it quickly when it comes in.

Feb 6, 10:04am Top

>150 Morphidae: That's wonderful, Morphy. My library won't take hold requests for books they don't have yet.

Edited: Feb 6, 10:43am Top

18. The Night Country by Stewart O'Nan. I read this now because O'Nan is the February selection for the American Authors Challenge, and I had never read anything of his before. This is an unusual ghost story, told by a dead teenager, one of three killed in a Hallowe'en night car crash in a small New England town. Two other high school friends survived the collision with an old sycamore tree, but naturally their lives, and those of friends and family, have been irrevocably altered. The mother of one of the survivors, a boy who suffered extensive facial injuries and brain damage, must learn how to cope with this "new" son, a young man more difficult to care for, but possibly easier to love than the rebellious youth he once was. The first police officer on the scene of the deadly crash wrestles with his own personal demons and secrets, while he tries to decide where his life will go now. And Tim, the survivor who walked away from the accident virtually unscathed, physically, has lost himself with the death of his friends. We meet all these damaged souls on the first anniversary of the tragedy, as various plans and intentions come together to bring about a fitting commemoration. Although the ghosts do not communicate directly with survivors, they visit and watch, occasionally rousting an animal from the bushes, or causing a glitch on a TV screen. They have very limited power to do much, and it is suggested that their "presence" is often merely a subconscious memory in the minds of the living. Yet they talk to each other, and they convey information to the reader in short parenthetic interruptions of the narrative. This stylistic element took some getting used to, but like Shirley Jackson or Stephen King at his best, O'Nan had a grip on my imagination and curiosity from the beginning. There was no way I was going to leave without knowing (Oh, OK, I sort of knew all along) how it all turned out.

Feb 6, 2:42pm Top

>151 laytonwoman3rd: I'm grateful mine does. I have 16 holds on books on order right now.

Feb 6, 2:48pm Top

>152 laytonwoman3rd: - Great review! I have that one on the shelves and may select it as my O'Nan read for the month.

Feb 6, 3:40pm Top

The Stranger in the Woods sounds like a winner! I will watch for it later this spring. And your Stewart O'Nan sounds like it had elements in common with mine. I also wanted to know how it ended (and, like you, I really knew how it ended, but...) but was generally disappointed in the overall work.

Feb 9, 10:29am Top

I've wl'ed Stranger in the Woods. Don't think I can manage the O'Nan, a bit too close to home, but your review was great.

Edited: Feb 9, 1:10pm Top

>152 laytonwoman3rd: I've hesitantly added it to Mount Maybe. I really liked the one O'Nan I read (The Circus Fire), but after reading the reviews, I think I know how it ends. I really don't like endings like that. I might read it around Halloween when it would be more fitting.

Feb 9, 1:16pm Top

>130 laytonwoman3rd: >135 laytonwoman3rd: Awww! I loves me some ducklings!

I am officially inviting you back to Boston to see the sculptures in the Boston Garden!

(p.s. they were all dressed up in their Patriots gear for the Victory Parade on Tuesday.)

Feb 9, 3:39pm Top

>158 michigantrumpet: Thank you, Marianne! And will you take me to all the other places in Spenser's Boston too?

Feb 9, 3:49pm Top

>157 Morphidae: It is definitely an appropriate Hallowe'en read, Morphy. Not a story in which you grow to love the characters and wish them well, exactly.

>156 sibyx: Yes, Lucy, I found the O'Nan a bit close to home as well--- I'm pretty far removed from my own high school days, but is there anyone who managed to get through all four years without knowing or know of some teenager who died in a car crash? I lost a cousin that way.

>155 EBT1002: The pages just seemed to turn themselves in The Stranger in the Woods, Ellen.

>154 katiekrug: I hope you like it, if you read it, Katie.

Feb 9, 3:56pm Top

>159 laytonwoman3rd: Absolutely! Sadly, Locke Ober and Anthony's Pier 4 are no longer around, but I'm sure we can come up with some worthy substitutes!

But you'll need this - every well dressed Boston woman wears one! (*snort*)


Feb 10, 12:22pm Top

>161 michigantrumpet: I will definitely have to add that to my already large collection of tote bags! (I have one for To Kill a Mockingbird, why not Make Way for Ducklings?)

Edited: Feb 13, 4:54pm Top

19. The Moon-Spinners by Mary Stewart Mary Stewart is one of the BAC authors this month, and she was once a great favorite of mine, so I took this off the shelf, thinking it was a re-read as well (for THAT challenge). I found that other than the characters and the setting (which I could be remembering from the movie) very little of this was familiar to me. A young woman arrives at a remote village in Crete a day ahead of schedule; she is not yet expected at the tiny just-opened hotel, and her travel companion won't arrive until tomorrow. This is a perfect set-up for a bit of suspenseful adventure, and that's what we get. Nikky hikes off the road into shepherd and windmill country, and what does she encounter but a gunshot Englishman and his knife-wielding Cretan guide hiding out in a hut. Does she run like crazy back to the village for help and safety? Nooooo....what kind of a story would that be? She insists on sticking around to help these suspicious characters, who could be up to damn near anything, none of it savory, and spends the night in the hut caring for the feverish injured hunk fellow while his companion strikes out for their boat to fetch supplies. The story continues in this incredibly unlikely fashion for around 200 pages, and it's just great Romantic fun, if you can hush up that bit of your brain that keeps saying "NO WAY" to all of it. Disney did grave damage to this story in its delightfully sanitized movie version, eliminating some characters, changing some of the good guys to bad guys, and turning the competent independent Nikky into Hayley Mills. What both book and movie have going for them is the breathtaking beauty of the Aegean...Mary Stewart regales us constantly with sea, sun, birds and flowers. I think that distracted me enough to allow me to buy into the whole escapade. That, and knowing that with Stewart things always work out in the end.

Feb 10, 12:43pm Top

I *loved* The Moonspinners as a kid (the movie)... I think I have a copy of the book around here somewhere, but doesn't sound like I need to rush to find it!

Feb 10, 9:30pm Top

>164 katiekrug: So did I, Katie. And my husband had the biggest crush on Hayley Mills long before I knew him----I think he carries a torch to this day.

Feb 10, 10:33pm Top

All caught up here on ducklings, and Mary Steward (love her) and apparently I have to get to O'Nan someday! Happy weekend.

Feb 11, 1:19pm Top

I'm another Mary Stewart fan, but it's been years since I picked one up. I wonder if some of the others better stand the test of time?

LOVE the bag.

Feb 12, 8:20am Top

Feb 12, 9:58pm Top

>168 DianaNL: Aww...so adorable. Thanks!
>167 BLBera:, >166 Berly: It seems there are a lot of Mary Stewart fans here. I must re-read some of her other novels, and see if I remember them better. I know I read a lot of her stuff in my yout'.

Edited: Feb 13, 6:03pm Top

Book Riot's List of 100 Modern Classics has generated a fair bit of discussion on some other threads. I'm not too taken with lists, generally, but this one, for some reason, is different. Someone mentioned that it was "overwhelmingly American", and since that wasn't my own impression upon reading through it, I decided to deconstruct it and see. It turns out there are 53 American authors (including 3 Native Americans), plus 5 more who were born elsewhere and became US citizens or are otherwise strongly connected to the US, but don't "feel" strictly American to me. That leaves 42 authors of other nationalities. So, 58% American. Of those, one was born in Haiti, one in Antigua, one in Romania, one in Russia, and one was born in the USA to Dominican parents who returned to their homeland where the author grew up. Of the 100 total, 52 are women.

I have read 30 of the books on the list. I have read something by 48 of the authors. I own 24 more books from the list that I have not yet read. Two notable titles were once in my possession and are no longer because I tried and failed to read them years ago, and have no desire to try again (The Gulag Archipelago and The Golden Notebook, since you asked!)

Feb 13, 6:10pm Top

>170 laytonwoman3rd: Don't quit there, Mims. People of color? LGBTQ authors?

Feb 13, 6:37pm Top

I am very taken with lists but after all these years of adding one list after another, I think I'm listed out.

Edited: Feb 13, 6:44pm Top

>171 lycomayflower: I started counting the people of color, but got sidetracked. LGBTQ may be outside my knowledge and unduly burdensome to check on. Feel free to take that one up yourself. I'll e-mail you my list, which is easier to use than the presentation in the linkie.

Feb 14, 1:16pm Top

Thanks for the deconstruction, Linda. It's an interesting list.

Feb 14, 2:20pm Top

>170 laytonwoman3rd: I've read 39, at least 4 more than once: Sophies Choice, Farenheit 451, Waiting for Godot and Beloved. There are many others I've been meaning to read for years.

Feb 14, 5:33pm Top

>165 laytonwoman3rd: Ohhhhh. Hayley Mills. I had a late adolescent crush on her. Then she married that old fart.

Feb 14, 5:52pm Top

>174 EBT1002: Gotta do something with all this time on my hands....retired, you know. ;>)

>175 Caroline_McElwee: I'm always "meaning to read" something!

>176 weird_O: Ah, yes, but she only stayed married to him for a few years. And now she's spent the last 2 decades tootling around with a man 20 years younger than she is!

Feb 14, 5:58pm Top

>177 laytonwoman3rd: Sure, rub it in. ;-)

Feb 14, 6:05pm Top

>178 EBT1002: Sorry. I hate it when I do that.

Feb 14, 6:23pm Top

>177 laytonwoman3rd: Yes. I looked 'er up on The Wiki. Followed a link to her big hit, "Lets Get Together," from the movie The Parent Trap. Cringe inducing. Didn't stay to the end. Awkkkkkkk.

Feb 15, 2:47pm Top

>179 laytonwoman3rd: I'm totally teasing, which I assume you know, Linda. You get to fully enjoy your retirement and I'm pleased that you're doing so!

How are you liking The Round House?

Feb 15, 3:32pm Top

>180 weird_O: Yeah..she should never sing.

>181 EBT1002: Oh, I knew you were teasing. Me too! I am enjoying The Round House, although I'm dedicating my reading time today to finishing Lord Jim, which has been taking waaay too long. I should be done with it by dinner time.

Feb 16, 12:29pm Top

I'm hoping to finish The Round House today, wanting to get back to Part III of The Unwinding. But there are so many others also in this stack beside me....

I don't believe I ever read Lord Jim. I must have done, back in high school.

Edited: Feb 17, 12:41pm Top

>183 EBT1002: I think Lord Jim is one of those books everybody feels they know. I kept expecting to recognize parts of it, at least, but now that I've finished it, I am certain I had never read it before. So...

20. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad

As in Heart of Darkness and some of his short fiction, Conrad has a man named Marlow narrate the story to a group of contemporaries. Here we learn of Jim, an earnest and able young seaman who, at least in his own eyes, betrays the moral code he was born under, and spends the rest of his life trying to put that failure behind him and atone for it.

As first mate on a ship carrying Muslim pilgrims to Mecca, Jim is on night watch when the vessel strikes something, possibly the floating remains of a wreck, and begins taking on water. In the ensuing confusion, Jim's conscience is wracked--there are clearly not enough lifeboats to save all the passengers and crew. Most of the pilgrims are asleep and unaware of the danger. Should they be alerted, or allowed to go peacefully down with the ship? What is Jim to do? The captain and other officers having already made the decision to abandon the ship, they urge Jim to join them in their lifeboat. Although he does not make a conscious decision to do so, he finds himself in the lifeboat with them, having mindlessly jumped or been pitched over the side by the violent motion of the ship. Regardless of the "facts" so vehemently demanded by the official inquiry later on, this is an outcome for which Jim can never forgive himself. Ultimately he removes himself from civilization, with the help of Marlow and his contacts, finding a sort of refuge among native people in a remote village, presumably somewhere in Indonesia, where he brings an end to a local conflict and finally seems to have escaped the shadow of his past. To the grateful inhabitants, he has become Tuan (Lord) Jim. But (no surprise) this is only a relatively happy interlude in the man's full life story.

The novel is full of the descriptive passages Conrad did so well, of symbolism and philosophical musing, and of diversions from the main tale. The latter are never irrelevant, but some are more engaging than others. The reader is always getting Jim's story from at least one remove, as Marlow does not have personal knowledge of all of it himself. Nevertheless, he takes a life-long interest in Jim, feeling it is his duty to tell and interpret what he does know, to dispel rumors and assumptions among his fellow sailors, and to somehow "understand" Jim, who despite being "one of us", had repeatedly behaved otherwise. Taken down to its bones, this is a pretty simple, almost Shakespearean, tale of guilt, penance and retribution, with enough ambiguity and social commentary thrown in to make it very interesting. I'm glad I finally got around to it.

Feb 17, 1:29pm Top

>184 laytonwoman3rd: Finally. *throws bucket of confetti on you. runs away, yelling "I looooove you"*

Edited: Feb 17, 3:09pm Top

>184 laytonwoman3rd: I seem to recall I jumped ship on Lord Jim last year. I can't recall why. I certainly recall rather vividly what I did read.

Feb 17, 3:00pm Top

>184 laytonwoman3rd: Congratulations on completing Lord Jim. Quite an accomplishment and an excellent review.

Feb 17, 4:01pm Top

>185 lycomayflower: You. Next time you read a timeless classic, see if I'm impressed.

>186 RBeffa: Yes, well, there were bits I could have done without... (Did you want me to tell you how it comes out?)

>187 michigantrumpet: THANK you. Some people are very kind. *ahem*

Feb 17, 4:38pm Top

>188 laytonwoman3rd: No no no. no spoilers. I may tackle it again someday although I donated my copy to the friends. I looked back at my reading thread for 2016 and see I abandoned it at 1/4 read from boredom. Sounds odd from a distance of time

Feb 17, 4:43pm Top

>186 RBeffa: Oh, and "jumped ship on Lord Jim"--ha. I see what you did there. NOW, I see what you did there. Must have been a little distracted the first time I read that post.

Feb 17, 5:00pm Top

>190 laytonwoman3rd: I can be clever once in a while!

Feb 19, 10:26pm Top

>191 RBeffa: And so you should!

Feb 19, 10:28pm Top

21. The Round House by Louise Erdrich Another great read, early in the year. I have never not loved an Erdrich novel, and this one made me want to pick up another of hers immediately, to stay immersed in her world. I'll round up (see, Ron, I can do it too!) some more thoughts for posting in a day or so.

Feb 20, 9:41am Top

Great comments on Lord Jim, Linda.
>170 laytonwoman3rd: I also like your deconstruction of the list. I've read about half of the books, and overall think it's a good list. I was really happy to see women well represented - I counted first thing. :)

I'm about ready to start The Round House with my class. Generally, students have liked it.

Feb 20, 10:20am Top

I think it's wonderful that you're teaching Erdrich, Beth. I didn't get much exposure to living authors when I was in college, but I do remember being introduced to the work of James Dickey and Ferlinghetti. It was a revelation to me that there were people writing "right now" who deserved to be included in a college curriculum.

Feb 20, 1:33pm Top

>193 laytonwoman3rd: There you go!

My one try with Erdrich, Tracks, that I read two years ago did not leave me wanting for more by her. I see that she is highly regarded by many and I'd give her another try but there are so many books by other authors (new discoveries as well as older ones) I want to explore more of, that she gets the far back burner list for me.

Feb 20, 2:04pm Top

You might really enjoy Gudrun's Kitchen - the story of a Norwegian Woman and her wonderful recipes.

All three of us Reviewers gave it 5 stars!

Edited: Feb 22, 12:13pm Top

>196 RBeffa: I see I have rated Tracks 5 stars, Ron, but I don't know when I read it....before LT, or early enough on that I wasn't tracking (I can't stop, once you get me started!) my reads, and I don't have any comments recorded. I read your review, and I see what you're saying. I might have to re-visit this one some day. In any case, Tracks might not be the ideal place to begin with Erdrich, and I would hope you might give her another try. The Round House is certainly a more straight-forward story.

>197 m.belljackson: Gudrun's Kitchen does sound like my kind of book, Marianne. Thanks for the recommendation!

Edited: Feb 23, 11:58am Top

Spent the last 48 hours bingeing on Deborah Knott novels. I've read 17 of them now, and they are not getting stale or repetitive. I believe I heard somewhere that Maron is finished with this series, though, and that means I have only 3 more to go. I'll have to ration myself a bit, because I'll miss Deb'rah and Dwight and the whole Knott clan.

22. Christmas Mourning by Margaret Maron A golden teen-aged girl who everyone agrees has never touched alcohol or drugs, inexplicably crashes her car into a tree while driving home alone from a party. As Judge Knott's husband, Chief Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Bryant investigates her death, and a subsequent double murder, in the midst of an ice storm, several stories unfold, and keep the pages flipping like mad. I reluctantly put the book down around 11:00 p.m., turned out the light, and tossed around for 20 minutes or so before grabbing it up again to finish it before I could fall asleep. Then, next morning, because I had the next book in the series home from the library, I plunged right in to...

23. Three-Day Town, which picks up about a fortnight after the end of the previous novel, as Dwight and Deborah are setting off on the train for an anniversary trip (a/k/a delayed honeymoon) to New York City. They do manage to have a little fun, amid the inevitable murders and an epic (for Manhattan) snowstorm. In this one, Deborah also meets her distant cousin, NYPD detective Lieutenant Sigrid Harald, star of Maron's other series. I read the first Sigrid Harald novel years ago, and wasn't nearly as taken with her as with Judge Knott. And Harald is hard to warm up to in this one, so I imagine she is never as much fun as her Southern counterpart, but the amount of her back story included here is enough to convince me that I really ought to get to know her better.

Feb 23, 11:19am Top

Hi Linda - thought I'd de-lurk and say hello. I have that MAron series on my radar, but am trying to finish up a series or two before adding another one to The List!

Edited: Feb 23, 12:00pm Top

I also spent a half hour of precious time reading A Christmas in Slovakia by Wesley Ellis this week. I'm not assigning a number to it, as it doesn't deserve one (and I'm a person who counts children's picture books with two hundred words of text). It's a well-made little (4" X 6") volume printed on high quality paper, includes a few family-album style photos of no interest to the general public and a recipe for homemade sauerkraut (start with 65 pounds of cabbage). But the text is nothing more than a highly personal anecdote about the author's experience of Christmas away from home while he was teaching ESL in Slovakia, and found he could actually celebrate the birth of his Lord and attend midnight mass in a country where religious practices had been officially forbidden just a few years before. (Didn't he get any briefing on what it would be like before he went over there?) It could have made a nice letter home, or maybe a blog post. The Christmas Eve meal is described, and it was nothing special (sounds like what I would expect people in that part of the world to eat on any given Saturday night or Sunday) but nothing is said about any other local traditions; there is one poorly lighted photo of the triptych inside the church, and as I said, some pictures of his host family at the dinner table and in their living room. OH! That living room----best part of the book for me. It looks very much like the living room of my own Slovak relatives who still reside on my great-grandfather's home place (I've seen a picture of that, too) with beautiful knotty pine wainscoting on the walls.

Feb 23, 11:57am Top

>200 katiekrug: A dear departed LT friend put me on to Margaret Maron a few years back, Katie. I think of him whenever I read one of her books. They have been very reliable go-to's when I just want to immerse myself in another world and not tax my brain too much.

Feb 26, 6:29am Top

I hadn't heard of Deborah Knott or Margaret Maron but anyone who could inspire you to "binge", Linda, needs to be looked for.

Have a lovely Sunday.

Feb 26, 10:28am Top

Loved The Moonspinners both book and movie!

Maron sounds worth investigating!

Feb 26, 11:18am Top

>203 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul! Deborah Knott is just pure fun to read about, Paul.

>204 sibyx: Another Moonspinners fan! I'm glad I can spread the word about Margaret Maron, Lucy. I thought I was behind the curve when I started reading her!

Feb 26, 5:51pm Top

Just culled a total of 31 books I will never read again from my house! I feel ever so much lighter.

Feb 27, 3:58am Top

Good for you Linda. I have a small pile accruing on the stairs.

Feb 27, 7:50am Top

>206 laytonwoman3rd: Wow. Well done!

Feb 27, 11:07am Top

>206 laytonwoman3rd: I have to confess that I came across a whole box of old paperback crime novels in the attic, so I was able to take a quick look and dispatch the lot of them in one fell swoop. Still...they were all in my catalog, and they were creating a theoretical strain on the floor boards, which has now been relieved!

Edited: Feb 28, 4:07pm Top

So, to counteract the earth-shaking effects of that purge, I attended a Friends of the Library book sale today, and brought home this batch:

I had help from flamingrabbit, who discovered the Mark Twain autobiography ($2!) and the Smithsonian bird book.

Feb 28, 4:15pm Top

LOL! Looks like you recovered well from the *purge*! ;-)

I want to read that Twain book! Is that the one that he stipulated could not be published until he was dead for 100 years?

Feb 28, 4:34pm Top

>211 jessibud2: Yes, Shelley...except this is only Volume 1 of the Twain work! There are two more about the same size so far, and I don't know how many there will be eventually. My brother (a big Twain man, but not an LT'er) has read the first two. I'm not sure if I have that much Twain interest in me, but we'll see!

Feb 28, 5:39pm Top

I liked Rules of Civility Linda, and just read the very different, but equally enjoyable A Gentleman in Moscow.

Wide Sargasso Sea is on my list for this year too, before a reread of Jane Eyre.

Feb 28, 5:53pm Top

I remember hearing good things here about Rules of Civility some years back, and I've been looking for it at sales, but never came across a copy before. I'm fairly sure I read Wide Sargasso Sea once, perhaps in college, but I don't have any recollection of it. Since it is one of the books on Paul's list for the March BAC, I thought I'd revisit it.

Feb 28, 6:47pm Top

>214 laytonwoman3rd: Nice job purging...and then refilling the shelves!! I have to go check out Paul's BAC, although I might just go with Wide Sargasso Sea since that has been on my WL for a long time....

Feb 28, 8:06pm Top

I read Wild Sargasso Sea awhile ago and liked it very much.

210 What a nice book haul

Feb 28, 8:15pm Top

>210 laytonwoman3rd: Good book haul, Linda! They all look like they are in excellent condition.

I have not read Rules of Civility yet but I LOVED A Gentleman in Moscow, so I am looking forward to his first novel. I have not read Wide Sargasso Sea, the Twain or The Hare but I have interest in all 3.

Are you reading a Styron for March?

Mar 3, 9:46pm Top

Hi, Linda! I lost you somehow -- maybe I unstarred you when I was on LT with my phone . . .

Anyway, wishing you a great weekend!

Mar 4, 11:49am Top

>215 Berly: It felt good to move all those books out, but it always feels even better to bring new ones in!

>216 Whisper1: I believe I've read it before, too, but I don't remember much about it. I think I'll re-read it for the BAC.

>217 msf59: I'm hoping to read Lie Down in Darkness in March, Mark.

>218 tymfos: I'm very glad you found me again, Terri! Using LT on the phone is a bit tricky, isn't it?

Mar 4, 1:06pm Top

Hello, Linda!

Edited: Mar 4, 1:11pm Top

>220 alcottacre: OMG! Stasia! How are things on the acre???? Do you have a thread I've been missing? I've been missing YOU, I know that.

Mar 4, 1:25pm Top

I started one this morning for the first time in a couple of years, Linda. I have been missing YOU too!

Edited: May 22, 5:44pm Top

24. The Devil Wins by Reed Farrel Coleman This is the second novel Coleman has written in Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone series. I noted in my review of his first, Blind Spot, that he wasn't writing in anything remotely like Parker's style. It didn't bother me in that one; it bothered me a lot in this one. I felt there was entirely too much exploration of what was going on in Jesse's head. Parker could make us understand that with sparse prose and pointed dialog. Coleman resorts to telling us a lot that Parker was able to show us, and it irked me. The underlying story here was pretty good; the town of Paradise, where Jesse has now been Chief of Police for 10 years, is shook up by needing to revisit an old loss when the bodies of two teen-aged girls who went missing 25 years ago are discovered in the ruins of a collapsed building. And buried much more recently right next to them is a newly-murdered man who may have known too much about how they got there. The investigation is complicated by the fact that the police department is short-staffed; Suitcase Simpson is on light duty since being wounded in the last book, and Molly Crane is emotionally involved in the case, having been close friends with the dead girls. There's a new character in the ME's office who feels a bit tacked on to the story to be a "friend" to Jesse, and it doesn't work well. I was disappointed to find that a couple loose ends from the last book were totally untouched in this one. At the end of Blind Spot Jesse received what was clearly meant as a warning in the form of a veiled threat against his ex-wife; there was no reference to that, nor to the known killer who sent it in the current story. And the potential love interest introduced in that book does not appear here either, except in Jesse's occasional thoughts. That's not the way to treat your readers. Mr. Coleman.

Mar 4, 4:06pm Top

>210 laytonwoman3rd: Hello there Linda! Happy Weekend! By my count, even with your 'replacement' books, you've come no where near the 31 you've removed from the house. So, Brava!

I'm a big Amor Towles fan, and devoured both Rules of Civility and Gentleman in Moscow as soon as they came out. They are quite different books, but both excellent. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Mar 5, 12:40pm Top

To salve my feelings, bruised by having missed you at Steampunk Book Sale, I dipped into the Goodwill (the one between Staples and Petco were I had legitimate business). GW turned out best for me. Ten new-to-me books.

I was prompted to re-read Faulkner's The Bear as a standalone short novel, and I still am baffled by a few passages. Which "he" are you referring to? But I'm inspired now to re-read Go Down, Moses.

Mar 5, 3:38pm Top

>224 michigantrumpet: Thanks, Marianne, you enabler, you!

>225 weird_O: *stands and cheers* Faulkner does love to throw his pronouns about, but the faster you read him, the likelier you are to at least think you get the references right! I'm glad you found a few goodies at the Goodwill. I often do so myself.

Edited: Mar 6, 2:36pm Top

I attended a book launch event yesterday at The Comm, for Embattled Freedom. The author, Jim Remsen, was born and raised in Waverly, PA, just a few minutes up the road from us, although he hasn't lived here since he was a child. He is the retired Religion Editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and wrote this book about the people involved in the local Underground Railroad system, as well as a small community of fugitive slaves who actually settled here after being smuggled to the North. His talk was very interesting, as he highlighted several existing houses and churches (Waverly has a lot of very old buildings well preserved and still in use) and the historic figures associated with them. I'm looking forward to reading the book, and to taking a walking tour of the village that the archivist for The Comm has mapped out. This is the kind of stuff we seek out when we travel around, and here is a rich source right in our own back yard! I knew about the Underground Railroad connection, but I learned some specifics I wasn't aware of, AND learned that there is a Center for Anti-Slavery Studies just up the road a few miles in Montrose, PA, another Underground Railroad hot spot.

Mar 7, 9:57am Top

Nice haul, Linda. Those Friends of the Library book sales are dangerous.

Tracks is perhaps my favorite Erdrich, but you're right, it doesn't have a straightforward narrative. People seem to "get" The Round House more. I love the early works the best.

I'm another Maron fan - I wish there were more of them.

Mar 7, 10:14pm Top

>210 laytonwoman3rd: Friends of the Library sales are just too much fun. I've been good for a couple months and mostly resisted - but I have one coming up in a couple days and I am definitively in the mood for it. Thanks for posting the pic - it is always interesting to see what people find.

Mar 8, 10:14am Top

Just stopping in to say hello!

Mar 8, 10:30am Top

>228 BLBera:, >229 RBeffa: I agree...fun and dangerous! And I live within very easy reach of two public libraries and one university library, all of which run marvelous sales. Further complicating matters, I am on the Board of Trustees of one of the public libraries, so it is My Duty to support it by buying lots of books, right?

>230 Morphidae: Hello right back atcha!

Mar 8, 2:40pm Top

>231 laytonwoman3rd: Do you buy them by the bagful? Our library has sales and on the last day it's $5 per bag.

Mar 8, 2:43pm Top

>227 laytonwoman3rd: - Very cool and sounds fascinating. Now I need to go look up where Waverley is....

Mar 8, 2:53pm Top

25. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry I remember learning of this novel way back when I first joined LT. At least one member (finebalance, in fact!) praised it so highly that I very soon acquired a copy. Nevertheless, its somewhat daunting length has kept me from picking it up until now, when Mistry was the February selection for the Canadian Authors Challenge. What to say, A Fine Balance is brilliant, and its length only a small obstacle.
I was very surprised at how quickly I moved through 50-page chunks of this story as I became engrossed in the lives of several unfortunate citizens of an un-named Indian city during the official Emergency of 1975. What a cast of characters: A widow, determined to be independent and not to remain under the thumb of her older brother; a college student with an unclear vision of his own future; 2 tailors who have broken caste restrictions that would have kept them competing for animal carcasses and immersed in tanning chemicals as their fathers and grandfathers before them; a beggar mutilated as a child to make him more profitable to the Beggarmaster; the Monkey Man, whose street performances required a very fine sense of balance indeed. These lives intertwine in ways variously beneficial, detrimental, and tragic. There is little fairness, justice or order during the Emergency, and almost no basis for hope or dreams. In fact, very few of these people have any hopes for themselves beyond basic survival. They seem unsophisticated, fatalistic, almost simple-minded, to the Western reader, and have no points of references with the world beyond their limits. Sleeping in a doorway under the protection of a night watchman becomes a privilege to be held dear. People disappear regularly, victims of government round-ups for “supportive” crowds at an appearance by the Prime Minister, or for impressed labor, or even for involuntary sterilization. Although the college student’s parents, in their remote and, by contrast, idyllic, mountain home have dreams for their son and the elder tailor has dreams of marriage and children for his nephew, neither young man is able to share or even pretend enthusiasm for these hopeful imaginings. The reality of their existence is too forceful, the government presence and control too pervasive. As Maneck the student observes when asked if he believes that God is dead: "I prefer to think that God is a giant quiltmaker. With an infinite variety of designs. And the quilt is grown so big and confusing, the pattern is impossible to see, the squares and diamonds and triangles don't fit well together anymore, it's all become meaningless. So He has abandoned it." As grim as it all is, there are moments of kindness, compassion and connection among the principals, as they occasionally find that balance between hope and despair that keeps the human spirit alive. "There is always hope--hope enough to balance our despair. Or we would be lost." Despite a few touches of dark humor, there is no doubt that reading this book is a heart-wrenching experience. As the 4 main characters come to care for one another, the reader comes to care for them, and to dread the inevitability of the college student’s repeated observation that everything always ends badly. With a bit more lightness, this would have been a 5-star read for me. But then it would have been slightly less brilliant, perhaps.

Mar 8, 3:03pm Top

>234 laytonwoman3rd: Good review of A Fine Balance, Linda. A great book, and a sad one. I could've used a bit more lightness, too, but as you say, that might have taken away from its brilliance.

Mar 8, 7:08pm Top

>234 laytonwoman3rd: - Great review, Linda. As a Canadian I am embarrassed to say that although I own 3 of his books, I haven't read any of them yet. I tried to read his first book, short stories Tales from Firozsha Baag but I am not big on short stories and got through only about 3 or 4 of them before moving on. I did hear an absolutely wonderful interview with him on one of our book radio programs a few year ago and on the strength of that interview I bought one of his books. He is very well-known and loved in Canada

Mar 8, 7:22pm Top

>234 laytonwoman3rd: I am so pleased that you enjoyed A Fine Balance, Linda. I would go so far as to say I consider it the finest novel written during my lifetime. If I have a small gripe about the author though, Mistry, seems to have stopped writing as it must be 15 years since he published a novel.

Mar 8, 7:46pm Top

>234 laytonwoman3rd: I have that one laying around my house somewhere. I really need to locate - and read it!

Mar 8, 8:01pm Top

>234 laytonwoman3rd: I read that in 2009, an early LT-influenced pick. I gave it 4.5 stars -- agree with the comments at the end of your review. Great review overall, too!

Mar 8, 8:33pm Top

Great review of A Fine Balance; it's been sitting on my shelf for too long, I see.

Edited: Mar 8, 8:37pm Top

>239 lauralkeet: We were probably influenced by the same person, Laura!

>238 alcottacre: Maybe you'll have time now, Stasia. It's worth the investment.

>237 PaulCranswick: I agree, Paul, it's going on my list of all-time great ones. Is Mistry's retirement from writing related to that quote you posted on the CAC thread?
"Flirting with madness was one thing. When madness started flirting back, it was time to call the whole thing off."

>236 jessibud2: Short stories are such a different experience than novels, aren't they, Shelley--especially epic novels like this one. I'm surprised when the same author can excel in both forms, but I haven't tried Mistry's short fiction yet.

>235 jnwelch: Thanks, Joe. It's always a treat to get so lost in another world, even one as inhospitable as Indira Gandhi's India. I used to savor great long novels like this when I was younger and had no idea how freakin' many books there were out there and how relatively few years I had to get through them! Now I want another one, and I know I have a few that qualify...

Mar 8, 8:59pm Top

>234 laytonwoman3rd: Fantastic review of A Fine Balance, Linda. Big Thumb. I read it a few years ago and it has still stuck with me. Truly masterful.

Mar 8, 9:16pm Top

>242 msf59: Thank you, Mark. I can imagine it isn't going to be one of those books you read and forget after a couple months.

Mar 9, 8:32am Top

>234 laytonwoman3rd: This has long been in mount tbr Linda. Good review, though it might have to wait a bit longer to be chisled off the mountain!

Mar 9, 9:27am Top

>244 Caroline_McElwee: I think you will find it worth the wait when you get to it, Caroline.

Mar 10, 2:36pm Top

26. Search the Dark by Charles Todd Well, this third installment in the Inspector Rutledge series didn't engage me nearly as much as the first two. I'm getting really tired of the higher-ups and local constabulary treating Rutledge like a bumbler. He's already solved two difficult cases, and here he is saddled with a "look busy" kind of assignment which turns out to be much more involved than anticipated, and no one wants to let him do his job. Enough, already. It also seemed to me that the story line kept the reader treading water too often and too long...pacing was not handled well. Rutledge doesn't seem to be growing much as a character. All of his war-related torments continue, although his "relationship" with the ever-present memory of Hamish McLeod has changed a bit, I think. It's been a couple years since I read the 2nd book in this series, but it feels like Rutledge in more "in conversation" with Hamish than just hearing his voice in his head, and that Hamish is often trying to be helpful, more than taunting his superior officer for his "failures" as those aforementioned colleagues and superiors do so readily. I will probably give this series one more outing, but if Rutledge still doesn't seem to be "getting somewhere" with his life and/or career, I'll bow out.

Mar 11, 4:42pm Top

Popping in to say Hi! Nice job on the reviews. The book launch sounded great and isn't it cool when you find out about stuff right in your back yard! Fun!

Mar 11, 11:11pm Top

>241 laytonwoman3rd: I am not sure, Linda, and I do hope that I am not precipitating anything!

Mar 15, 9:29pm Top

27. Hellhound on His Trail by Hampton Sides

Fascinating account of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s last days, and of the activities of his killer, James Earl Ray, a/k/a Eric S. Galt et al., before and after the assassination until he was finally apprehended by an astute Scotland Yard detective just before he would have boarded a plane in London bound for Brussels and (he hoped) eventually Rhodesia where extradition would not have been possible. There's a lot more of interest in the book as well, and it got me thinking about how disconnected I was from the world in 1968. Although naturally I was aware of the assassination, and I remember seeing photos of Ray after he was caught and during his trial, I am amazed now to realize that I was in Washington, DC, on our Senior Class trip less than 3 weeks before the shooting in Memphis. I was probably in the National Cathedral about a week before MLK gave his final Sunday sermon there just days before he died. (I've been digging around in old scrapbooks and memory books today, and I found a ticket stub from Ford's Theater dated March 23, 1968.) There were fires and looting and race-related violence in the aftermath in Washington, not to mention, a bit later, Resurrection City in the backyard of the White House. And while that was still going on, the assassination of Robert Kennedy and his funeral. It never registered with me on a personal level until now that these things were happening in places I had so recently visited --the Mall, the White House, the National Cathedral, Arlington National Cemetery. The book is very well written, in what the author terms a "novelistic" style, without too much attribution or reference to sources in the body of the text. There is an extensive section of notes, however, and the author's references are thoroughly documented. I am now quite interested in reading more by Hampton Sides, who goes on my list of favorite non-fiction authors, along with Shelby Foote and David McCullough.

This was my selection for the March non-fiction challenge, which is "Heroes and Villains".

Mar 15, 11:06pm Top

I just recently finished Sides' In the Kingdom of Ice - another really good narrative nonfiction. He's right up there with Candice Millard and a few others with me.

Mar 16, 1:14pm Top

>250 drneutron: *makes a note of Candice Millard*

Mar 17, 8:50am Top

>251 laytonwoman3rd: Wait, no Millard? Oh, are you in for a treat. She's written three, all three are great! My fave's River of Doubt about how Teddy Roosevelt tried to kill himself by tackling an unexplored Amazonian river.

Mar 17, 10:06am Top

>252 drneutron: It's gone onto my wishlist, Jim. Just another tick on the "pro" side for LT and this group. (Still waiting to put the first check mark on the other side of that tally sheet!)

Mar 17, 10:12am Top

I know this thread is getting a bit longish, but I think I will hang on 'til the end of the month and start a new one with the new quarter, as I usually do. I am reading at a much faster pace than I have in the past, and that makes me happy. This retirement thing seems to be working out for me!

Edited: Mar 17, 10:34am Top

28. Bloody Kin by Margaret Maron I loved this early Maron work, which belongs with, but is not a part of, her Judge Deborah Knott series. Characters we know from that series, including Dwight Bryant and his brother Rob, their mother Emily, Sheriff Poole, and Kate Honeycutt who later becomes Rob's wife are featured here. After her husband Jake's death in an apparent hunting accident on his home place in North Carolina, Kate decides to move there permanently, leaving behind New York City and its reminders of their life together. She does not get along well with Jake's Uncle Lacy, who is in residence on the place as caretaker/poor relation, and who has always viewed her as an outsider, despite the fact that she does have kin in the county, and that she is now carrying Jake's child. Almost immediately upon her arrival, Kate and her 4-year-old orphaned cousin Mary Pat stumble upon a dead body, which turns out to be an old Vietnam buddy of Jake's. It shortly becomes clear that Jake's death was no accident. As always, Maron does wonderful things with her characters, her story line, genealogy, evocation of the natural world from season to season, and her mouth-watering descriptions of Southern cooking. I wish she would never stop writing about these people.

Mar 17, 3:16pm Top

Jim is wrong. The best Millard is Destiny of the Republic about the assassination of Garfield.

Of course, I haven't read her latest, so maybe that's the best..... ;-)

Mar 17, 4:01pm Top

>256 katiekrug: Yeah, that one is now on my wishlist too.

Edited: Mar 19, 5:18pm Top

29. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys This compelling short novel creates a very plausible back story for Bertha Mason Rochester, the "mad woman in the attic" of Jane Eyre's Thornfield Hall. Born Antoinette Cosway, and re-named "Bertha" by her disillusioned husband, this woman should be a sympathetic figure, but I found I could not take her part, as I could not quite get a grip on the true cause of her madness. Did she break up (as her West Indian servant and confidant Christophine refers to her mental disturbances) because of unrequited love for Mr. Rochester, or because her own mother drifted into insanity and rejected her when she was a young girl, or because she witnessed her mother being sexually exploited and was therefore predisposed to sexual dysfunction herself? Christophine blames Mr. Rochester for "(making) love to her till she drunk with it...till she can't do without it. It's she can't see the sun any more. Only you she see." Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of Rhys's story is the suggestion that Antoinette has been driven mad by lust. If your romantic soul has shared Jane's love and compassion for Mr. R since you first read the classic, you will hate what Rhys has done to him. Because if it's hard to warm up to Antoinette, even after knowing what all happened to her in her childhood, it's impossible not to see Rochester as heartless, cruel and vindictive here. Even though he does not put his wife away from him, but takes her to England and has her cared for in what was probably viewed as a benevolent fashion at the time, his automatic rejection of her based on a letter filled with accusations of congenital madness, interracial affairs and incest; his inability to accept her culture and concepts of beauty as equal to his own; and his blatant act of infidelity within her hearing make him one reprehensible SOB. A tragic fire in Antoinette's childhood foreshadows the ultimate "bad end" she eventually visits on herself. Brilliantly done, and mightily unsettling.

I read this for the March BAC challenge.

Mar 19, 4:49pm Top

>249 laytonwoman3rd: I am a big fan of Hampton Sides. His Ghost Soldiers is also well worth reading IMHO.

I am also a big fan of River of Doubt. I have a couple more Millard's books to get to yet. Darn those authors writing books while I was in school and could not read them!

Mar 19, 8:42pm Top

>258 laytonwoman3rd: I really ought to go and try that one again, Linda. I tried to get into it a few years ago and couldn't but so many of my peers cannot be so badly mistaken!

Mar 20, 11:27pm Top

That's a lot of reading, Linda. Looks like retirement is treating you well!

Edited: Mar 21, 9:49am Top

>259 alcottacre: Lots and lots of support for these authors. I could really get in the mood for a non-fiction binge!

>260 PaulCranswick: Well, Paul, it's short...

>261 Familyhistorian: I could get used all this reading time, Meg! I suspect when spring comes, I'll be sitting around less, though.

Mar 21, 4:29pm Top

>258 laytonwoman3rd: I've been thinking about your review of this book for a couple days, and I think it would make me very angry to read it. It has been several decades since I read Jane Eyre, but the films have preserved my memory of it. It is one of my favorite books from a certain time of my life.

I would fall into your hate the author category I am certain.

Mar 21, 4:30pm Top

>262 laytonwoman3rd: If you want a partner for a nonfiction binge, count me in!

Mar 21, 5:22pm Top

>263 RBeffa: I can easily understand that, Ron. My daughter is in that camp as well.

>264 alcottacre: OK! Actually, I'm trying to keep current with the non-fiction challenge hosted by chatterbox. Here's the current thread, which has all the topic selections for each month listed. If I read one non-fiction book a month, that qualifies as a binge for me!

Mar 21, 7:33pm Top

>265 laytonwoman3rd: I will have to check that out! Thanks, Linda. As for nonfiction bingeing, BS (before school) I always tried to read at least 100 nonfiction books in a year. I do not think I will be reading that many this year, but I am going to try and come close.

Mar 22, 5:02pm Top

>260 PaulCranswick: I really disliked it, so you'll probably love it.

Mar 25, 10:37pm Top

>267 Morphidae: Hahaha, trust you Morphy! I don't know what I would do without you in the group. Seriously.

Have a lovely weekend, Linda.

Mar 26, 12:04pm Top

>268 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul. I'm fighting off the sniffles, and it's rainy/gloomy outside, so I'm hibernating as much as possible this weekend, with tea and books, and Molly Cat.

Mar 26, 12:12pm Top

30. The Buzzard Table by Margaret Maron A comfort read to bolster my immune system. (Yes, it does. It's a scientific fact. You could look it up.) Maron continues a story line from Three Day Town as her other protagonist, NYC Detective Sigrid Harald, comes to Colleton County with her mother to help tie up loose ends for her grandmother, who is dying. Dwight Bryant returns the favor she extended to him in NYC, by showing her how his Sheriff's department runs, and bringing her into the current crop of crime investigations. Maron always manages to educate her readers on some arcane subject (in the past it has been barning tobacco, the North Carolina furniture industry, the North Carolina pottery craft, etc.). This time it's vultures, and by gosh, they are fascinating creatures. Oh, and a couple people get murdered of course. I'm now ready to plunge into the Harald series "for fair", as my grandmother Kate would have said.

Mar 26, 5:50pm Top

>270 laytonwoman3rd: A comfort read to bolster my immune system. I can believe that, Linda. Books have gotten me through some stressful times but I thought that it was more that they eased mental woes. When I think about it, that would translate into helping your immune system.

Mar 26, 6:32pm Top

I really need to read some of the Maron books. My immune system needs all the help it can get!

Mar 27, 6:50am Top

I believe in the power of the comfort read, too - I spent the weekend recuperating with Sherlock Holmes, and he's done me all sorts of good.

Mar 29, 8:44am Top

Hope you're feeling better, Linda!

Edited: Mar 30, 1:29pm Top

Thanks, everybody. I'm working the old virus out of the system, I hope. Not asking a lot of myself. Being retired is conducive to following the recommendations, after all -- "Rest, drink plenty of fluids, read entertaining books." Well, maybe they don't really say that third thing, but they ought to!

Edited: Mar 30, 2:05pm Top

31. Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton I've been reading this one for some time now, not because it's difficult, but because it's savory, and best appreciated in smallish bits. The subtitle is "The intimate diary of a year in the life of a creative woman", and that's pretty fair truth in advertising. In 1972, at the age of 58, May Sarton was living alone in her home in New Hampshire, working on her poetry, assessing her life and Life in general (as she apparently was wont to do) in journal entries always intended to be shared. She speaks cautiously of certain people in her life, plumbing the depths of her own emotions while clearly trying to protect the privacy of some of those close to her. (She refers to her current "passionate love" as "X", for instance, and to an aspiring young poet who seeks her advice as "Z".) I found much of it very moving, and unsettlingly connected to me in many ways. I recognize her feelings and responses to life's routine situations, and her observations on the nature of writing are spot on. "I suppose I have written novels to find out what I thought about something and poems to find out what I felt about something." It's a bit discouraging, though, to read some of her sensible views on sexuality, for example, and to realize that as a society we still haven't quite got to where she was then. I expect I will revisit this journal, at least in parts, often. It has also prompted me to pick up the great long biography of Sarton by Margot Peters that's been sitting on my shelf for a while. May Sarton is one of those authors I should have known about 45 years ago, but did not discover until recently. Ah, well, "At any age, we grow by the enlarging of consciousness, by learning a new language, or a new art or craft...that implies a new way of looking at the universe."

Mar 30, 1:35pm Top

32. One Coffee With by Margaret Maron This is the first of the Sigrid Harald mysteries. Sigrid is a NYC detective, in a time when female detectives were not particularly welcomed, let alone respected, in squad rooms in the NYPD. She has made her career her life, though, and for the most part does not let the attitude of many of her fellow detectives get under her skin. She is aided by one incredibly thorough (but not very intuitive) detective and her superior, Captain McKinnon, who unbeknownst to her was her father's partner when she was a child, and who blames himself for the senior Harald's death in the line of duty. This novel involves the poisoning death of a member of the art department of a college, and the academic sniping is a big part of the fun here. It seems nearly everyone had a motive for wanting Riley Quinn dead, and almost everyone had opportunity to put a nasty corrosive etching chemical in his coffee. Great sport watching Sigrid work it out.

Mar 30, 2:18pm Top

With the exception of Self-Reliance, which is my March Obama read, I am deep into comfort reads right now. Hope we can get better together! : )

Mar 30, 8:29pm Top

>276 laytonwoman3rd:- I attempted to read this one a few years ago and could not get into it. I think it could be a case of not the right book at the right time...Oh well. Glad it worked for you though

Edited: Mar 30, 9:21pm Top

>279 jessibud2: Parts of it were more engaging than others, I will admit. I think now I will sample some Sarton's poetry. The only other work of hers I have read is a short novel, As We Are Now. It was written in the form of a journal as well---very good, but emotionally difficult.

Edited: Mar 31, 8:42pm Top

>276 laytonwoman3rd: I've long been a Sarton fan Linda, and read more than 80% of her oeuvre, including this. One of my favourites is Plant Dreaming Deep which I've read a couple of times.

The Margot Peters biography is fascinating, but ultimately it left me thinking I probably wouldn't have liked her much, especially in how she went after her love interests, whether they were free or not, so hurting others with little guilt.

Mar 31, 7:28pm Top

>276 laytonwoman3rd: I have read several of Sarton's books. She was good and I am glad I read them!

Edited: Mar 31, 7:49pm Top

Hi, Linda! How is things going? The books treating you well?

Good review of Hellhound on His Trail. I am glad your introduction to Sides was a success. I have read several of his now, but I think Hellhound remains my favorite, although they are all good.

Sadly, I have never read Sarton.

Happy Weekend!

Apr 1, 11:07am Top

I'm a big Maron fan, Linda. The Sarton sounds wonderful. Onto the list it goes. Have a wonderful weekend.

Apr 1, 11:43am Top

>281 Caroline_McElwee: Why am I not a bit surprised that you are well acquainted with Sarton? Biographies are always a chancy proposition for me. They usually tell me way more than I want to know, and I often end up skimming large portions. I suspect I'll just be dipping in and out of the Sarton bio.

>282 alcottacre: Yup---another person I might have guessed would have already enjoyed her work!

>283 msf59: She wrote LOTS of poetry, Mark. Now's the time!

>284 BLBera: I need to slow my binge of Maron down...I'm going to run out much too soon. (See next post!)

Apr 1, 11:54am Top

Final book for March, and then I'm off to start a new thread.

33. Death of a Butterfly by Margaret Maron In this second entry in the Sigrid Harald series, Maron fills in our female detective's personality a bit, and makes her more intriguing by showing us her well-guarded softer side in several moments involving children or teenagers. Harald investigates the death of a compulsively neat and orderly young single mother, who turns out to have been a right little schemer whose death will make life easier for several people, or at least for those of the group who did not bash her in the head with a decorative flat iron.

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