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What Are You Reading and Reviewing in March?

Read it, Track it! (& 2017 12 x 12 Challenge)

Join LibraryThing to post.

Edited: Feb 27, 6:08am Top

This is the place to let everyone know the books you are reading during March, and then to leave reviews of these books. You can put up a list of the books you are reading for the month or put a post about a book as you start it, or even both.

Don't worry we are not back at school a review can be something as simple as a sentence about the book or as comprehensive as you want to make it - whatever is good for you.

This then allows people to discuss the book with you, and after all that is one of the main reasons we are all on here - to discuss books and our love of them. And to add to our TBRs because we never have enough books to read do we! 😂

Feb 24, 4:26pm Top

The finalised list of Group Reads for March on the Mystery and Suspense Group is:

1. The Distant Echo by Val Mc Dermid : Start Friday 3rd March (#1 in the Karen Pirie Series)
2. Playing with Bones by Kate Ellis : Start Wednesday 15th March (#2 in the Joe Plantagenet Series)
3. The Forbidden Tomb by Chris Kuzneski : Start Friday 23rd March (#2 in the Hunters Series)

All are welcome. :)


Edited: Feb 25, 10:18am Top

Unfortunately due to a glitch we have more than one What are you reading and reviewing thread for March. Please use this one and then the others should fall down the list - you can't delete threads! Grrrr...

If you want to you can click on the cross at the right edge of the threads (with the various threads highlighted on the Group home page) which will then ensure you can ignore them.

Edited: Feb 25, 10:26am Top

>3 Andrew-theQM: "A glitch" I like that. I must be "glich1" and you must be "glitch 2". T hat is one most frustrating thing I find about LT. I've learned to deal with the lack of nested conversations but the topic thing...GRRRR

Feb 25, 2:19pm Top

Still times I cry out for nesting, like when voting. Yet to find a voting system that I like. 🙁

Feb 26, 6:15am Top

The more active a group,the more annoying lack of nesting is. If you havent been on for a while,an interesting topic could be 20 posts or more back,and your reply looks isolated among other posts. Then if someone else decides to continue on the topic,they may be another 5 posts further down. Trying to make a coherent sensible discussion is almost impossible.Makes it worse when most of the posters are in US and I pop in with a 5-7 hour time gap! lol. Most of the time I just give up and dont post. Remember the days on shelfari when we could have posts with literally hundred of replies,neatly tucked away so the other members not interested could go on with their own topics? People felt happy to join in even weeks or months later,no problems.I think this is a major reason why some of our more irregular old shelfarians have fallen away. If you only pop in once a week or 10 days,topics you would have once have been able to join in easily are now many posts back,and I think people have just given up.
As a result the site seems to be mainly used for tracking challenges and reading stats,the chat side is quiet.Even we chatty shelfarians seem to have beome subdued.:0(

Feb 26, 8:00am Top

I agree with what you have put Dusty, and agree that it tends to limit discussion or make discussion disjointed at times. In particular since we have lost nesting there are no where as many responses to people's reviews which I find sad. Agree this can also be impacted by time differences. Not sure I understand the negativity to nesting or why it wouldn't be seen as a positive thing, to me it seems common sense - in a discussion with someone you don't suddenly respond to something someone said 10 minutes later whilst talking about another subject. We need to take back control and ensure we keep posting and making it more active. :)

Feb 26, 9:13am Top

I thought we were doing quite well without nesting. It hasn't hindered our group reads at all, and I find the '>' facility adequately allows for continuation of a discussion.

Feb 26, 10:48am Top

>8 Sergeirocks: >6 dustydigger: The > function certainly helps the discussion to have flow and you can easily link back to the last comments so it is the next best thing to nesting. I agree about the book discussions they are working really well. We are certainly making the best of the situation. 😊

Edited: Mar 9, 7:17pm Top

Provisional Reading List for March

Mystery and Suspense Group Reads
✔1. The Distant Echo by Val Mc Dermid : Start Friday 3rd March (#1 in the Karen Pirie Series)
2. Playing with Bones by Kate Ellis : Start Wednesday 15th March (#2 in the Joe Plantagenet Series)
3. The Forbidden Tomb by Chris Kuzneski : Start Friday 23rd March (#2 in the Hunters)

Sub-Genre Challenge
The Widow by Fiona Barton

Progressing Series
Death of a Travelling Man by M C Beaton
The Double Comfort Safari Club by Alexander McCall Smith (Botswana)
Agatha Raisin and the Day the Floods Came by M C Beaton
The Paper Moon by Andrea Camilleri (Italy)
Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
The Mayan Codex by Mario Reading (Mexico)
Private Games by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan
The Death Collectors by Jack Kerley (US)
The Atlantis Stone by Alex Lukeman (Egypt)
Separation of Power by Vince Flynn (Bahamas)

Final Book in a Series
Signal for Vengeance by Edward Marston
✔The Cup by Alex Lukeman (Syria)

New Series

The Lake House by Kate Morton
The Martian by Andy Weir

Edited: Mar 30, 11:13am Top

Dusty's TBR for March
Neal Stevenson - Snow Crash ✔
Andre Norton - Cat's Eye ✔
Andre Norton - Witch World
Dan Simmons - Endymion ✔
Naomi Novik - Uprooted ✔
Alan Dean Foster - The Howling Stones ✔
Darynda Jones - Eleventh Grave in Moonlight ✔
Simon R Green - Very Important Corpses ✔
Carol O'Connell - Blind Sight ✔
Jacqueline Winspear - A Lesson in Secrets ✔
Gary Alexander- Blood Sacrifice ✔
Erica Spindler - Killer Takes All ✔
Lucy M Boston - The Children of Green Knowe ✔

Edited: Feb 27, 6:11am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Edited: Mar 3, 2:04pm Top

This month I am reading:

Maplecroft by Cherie Priest, set in the mid-1890's in the Boston area after the infamous murders. It is almost a steam-punk mystery with glass baubles as the transitioning point to what drives residents of these small towns mad with longing for the sea. Lizzie wields her axe well, lives with her sister Emma, and the cast includes the real-life doctor during the trial. Fictionalized characters include a science professor in Boston, Lizzie's love interest, Nance, and an inspector-detective that probably corresponds to contemporaries of the time.

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks and am deep in the trenches with the northern English tunnel diggers. Their lives are as miserable as you might think, and Faulk is doing a great job detailing the stresses with this war. The portion of the novel that takes place in Amiens has reached is logical conclusion, though in a way I would not have necessarily expected.

Voyager by Diana Gabaldon in the Outlander series and still enjoying it. The story is going on its way; perhaps because the time of Culloden that provided much of the tension-building in the first two books is past, other elements are developed. Plus, it's nice to see Claire and Jamie being able to spend time building their relationship after such a long separation.

Star Trek: 11 by James Blish I'll probably finish in the next few days. I'm discovering why I have so many "currently reading" books in my stack: I hate to finish them! It's as if I have to say "goodbye" when I was having such a wonderful time visiting the old adventures of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, especially as their characters were being developed for the appreciative audience. While one can only guess at Uhura's motives, for example, while watching her on TV, in the series Blish and his co-author begin to flesh out the characters so that they have more dimension. In a literary manner, that is!

Bleak House, a few more chapters (just came to the pivotal scene between Tulkinghorn and Lady Dedlock - holy wow!)

Both The Great Shame and First Feminists for a "Where was I again?" personal 2017 challenge. Reading these two thoughtful books as challenge is a big help so that I don't hoard these books for all eternity! (See notes in Star Trek, above.)

Oh, and also on my upcoming challenge TBR list is Destiny of a Republic, recommended several years back on a Biography group on Shelfari.

Thank goodness my calendar is coming open at last and I can spend some time reading!

Note: edited for format clarity, to follow how I see other LT friends are formatting their books.

Mar 7, 9:22am Top

The Smoke Hunter by Jacquelyn Benson
3 stars

From The Book:
Frustrated suffragette and would-be archaeologist Ellie Mallory stumbles across a map to a city that shouldn't exist, a jungle metropolis alive and flourishing centuries after the Mayan civilization mysteriously collapsed. Discovering it would make her career, but Ellie isn't the only one after the prize. A disgraced professor and his ruthless handler are hot on her heels, willing to go any extreme to acquire the map for themselves.

To race them through the uncharted jungle, Ellie needs a guide. The only one with the expertise is maverick surveyor Adam Bates. But with his determination to nose his way into Ellie's many secrets, Bates is a dangerous partner.

As Ellie gets closer to her goal, she realizes it's not just her ambitions at stake. A powerful secret lies hidden in the heart of the city - and if it falls into the wrong hands, it could shake the very fate of the world.

My Thoughts:
Historical novels are not really what I would normally pursue as those that know me well can verify but this one wasn't bad. There was lots of action, a touch of romance, and a wonderful setting in Belize, a very interesting and colorful country. This is Jacquelyn Benson's first novel and I will have to say that it showed a lot of promise. Her heroine was well ahead of her times as she didn't take any crap off of anyone and was very capable of standing up for herself and for 1898 that says a lot in itself. Who knows? I just might try book #2.

Mar 7, 10:44pm Top

Intensity / Dean Koontz
5 stars

Laura and Chyna are college students and friends. When Chyna goes with Laura to her parents’ place for a weekend, she is awakened the first night by screams. Someone has broken into the house. Chyna hides, then tries to help Laura and her parents without the guy realizing she is there…

Wow! The book is titled well – it was definitely intense! After a brief set-up to the story, it was just bang, bang, bang, one thing after another! I think the audio helped with that. At first, I wasn’t sure I would like the narrator. She spoke quickly and mostly in a monotone, but after it got going, I think she was the perfect narrator for the story and it really highlighted the “intensity” of the book to do it that way. The story alternated between Chyna’s and the intruder’s (Vess’s) points of view. I was briefly uninterested in Vess’s philosophy, and I didn’t agree with some of Chyna’s decisions, but the rest of the story + the audio still made it 5 stars for me. Ever since I started listening to it, I’ve been trying to recommend it to people, but there are so many who don’t read horror!

Mar 8, 7:19am Top

The Distant Echo by Val McDermid
Karen Pirie series Book #1
4 stars

From The Book:
It was a winter morning in 1978, that the body of a young barmaid was discovered in the snow banks of a Scottish cemetery. The only suspects in her brutal murder were the four young men who found her: Alex Gilbey and his three best friends. With no evidence but her blood
on their hands, no one was ever charged.

Twenty five years later, the Cold Case file on Rosie Duff has been reopened. For Alex and his friends, the investigation has also opened old wounds, haunting memories-and new fears. For a stranger has emerged from the shadows with his own ideas about justice. And revenge.

When two of Alex's friends die under suspicious circumstances, Alex knows that he and his innocent family are the next targets. And there's only way to save them: return to the cold-blooded past and uncover the startling truth about the murder. For there lies the identity of an avenging killer.

My Thoughts:
I was supposed to be the first book in the Karen Pirie series but actually Karen had very little to do with the entire book. She never even made a showing until the second half of the book and then she was a ghostly part of the story. That aside...the book was a fairly good read. Not as good as McDermid's Tony Hill/Carol Jordan books but still very readable. I think if you hadn't been looking for Karen to make an appearance the story would have had much more appeal. The writing is very good...the story is plausible... and the main characters are well developed and realistic. You can't help wondering what anyone would do if they suddenly were thrown into a similar situation. It all comes together in the end, no strings left untied. I can recommend this book to anyone that loves a well told mystery...just don't think of it as a series.

Mar 9, 4:19pm Top

Under the Wide and Starry Sky – Nancy Horan
Book on CD performed by Kirsten Potter.

This work of historical fiction tells the story of the relationship of Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne and Robert Louis Stevenson. It begins when Fanny leaves her philandering husband in San Francisco, and sails to Belgium with her children and their nanny, so that she can study art. Eventually she finds herself in an artists’ community in France, where she meets Stevenson, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I really liked Horan’s earlier book – Loving Frank- about Mamah Cheney and Frank Lloyd Wright. Once again Horan turns her attentions to a man who was difficult to live with, and a woman who was conflicted about her life with that man. It should have been interesting, but this book somehow failed to capture me. I didn’t really care about either Fanny or Louis, and got tired of their many travails while I waited for them to get on with life. They finally get to Samoa in Chapter 65, just over 100 pages from the end of the book. I know that it was but a short period in their lives, but I would have liked much more about their lives in Samoa.

Kirsten Potter does a fine job narrating the audio book. She has good pacing, and sufficient skill as a voice artist to bring the characters to life. Four stars for her performance.

Mar 9, 4:19pm Top

Deeper Than the Dead– Tami Hoag
Audiobook narrated by Kirsten Potter

Set in a California town a few hours from Los Angeles, in 1985, Hoag’s thriller begins when four children stumble upon the partially buried body of a woman while playing in the woods. Her eyes and mouth have been glued shut and it’s clear she’s been tortured. As the children’s teacher, Anne Navarre, tries to get them the help they need to process this horror, the local police turn to an FBI investigator, Vince Leone, to help develop a profile of the killer.

Hoag writes a tight, suspenseful tale. The action is fast-paced, and I was completely captivated from beginning to end. I liked the characters, especially Anne and Vince. This is the first book by Hoag that I’ve read; it won’t be the last.

Kirsten Potter does a fine job performing the audio book. She has good pacing, and enough skill as a voice artist to give each character a unique voice. I particularly liked the way she voiced Anne and Vince.

Mar 9, 4:48pm Top

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts by Joshua Hammer
4/5 stars
This is the story of Abdel Kader Haidara, a historical archivist from Timbuktu and his fellow patriots who saved the centuries old, rare manuscripts of Mali twice. Abdel's initial project was to find and store books from his countrymen and build libraries to showcase them in the 1980's. Unfortunately, he would have to do it a second time when Al Qaeda came to Mali and attempted to destroy their books and heritage. I found this a fast and amazing story which also covers the takeover of Mali by Al Qaeda. Hard to put down.

Mar 10, 8:15am Top

Echoes in Death by J.D. Robb
Eve Dallas - In Death series Book #44
5 Stars

From The Book:
As NY Lt. Eve Dallas and her billionaire husband Roarke are driving home, a young woman―dazed, naked, and bloody―suddenly stumbles out in front of their car. Roarke slams on the brakes and Eve springs into action.

Daphne Strazza is rushed to the ER, but it’s too late for her husband Dr. Anthony Strazza. A brilliant orthopedic surgeon, he now lies dead amid the wreckage of his obsessively organized town house, his three safes opened and emptied. Daphne would be a valuable witness, but in her terror and shock the only description of the perp she can offer is repeatedly calling him “the devil”...

While it emerges that Dr. Strazza was cold, controlling, and widely disliked, this is one case where the evidence doesn’t point to the spouse. So Eve and her team must get started on the legwork, interviewing everyone from dinner-party guests to professional colleagues to caterers, in a desperate race to answer some crucial questions... What does the devil look like? And where will he show up next?

My Thoughts:
44 books in this series and J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) still manages to make the series inventive, entertaining and clever. I have been a huge fan of this series for years and there is a comforting feeling about the near future New York City and the characters that inhabit it. We have watched Eve grow and evolve from a battered child to a take charge and ask no forgiveness Lieutenant with the NYPSD along with Peabody and the rest of the crew.

This is one of the darker mysteries of the series with a generous dose of intrigue and suspense. It wasn't very easy to guess the killer and that was a good touch for those of us that enjoy our own chase but not so frustrating to those that want to know the identity sooner.

It was a heart racing journey and we all know that Eve always gets her man...or woman. Looking forward to book #45.

Mar 10, 2:35pm Top

>20 Carol420: Have you read all 44 books up to this point in the series Carol. I read the first one many years ago, but have not yet progressed to the second one.

Edited: Mar 10, 4:15pm Top

>21 Andrew-theQM: Yes I have. I started with book #13 when it first came out and liked it so much I just had to see what lead up to that one. So I began with #1 and read them in order. I actually finished all 12 before # 14 came out and I've read every one of them up to #45. Haven't read one yet that wasn't a 4.5 - 5 star book. #45, Secrets in Death comes out September 5th. I'm ready.

Mar 10, 4:15pm Top

>22 Carol420: Some achievement!

Mar 10, 9:33pm Top

>20 Carol420: And your first sentence tells me why I likely won't be reading beyond the three books I already have in this series. Ugh! I will post my review this evening.

Until I read someone else's review of the first book, about 15 minutes ago (after I finished), I had hoped Roarke wouldn't be around much after this first book. Booooooo... He's the reason the book didn't get 4 stars from me. I thought it was a bit of a spoiler to mention it in someone's review of the first book, actually, and sent her a note, mentioning it.

Mar 10, 9:51pm Top

Naked in Death / J.D. Robb
3.5 stars

This is the first in the series. Sharon is a “licensed companion” (i.e. an upscale prostitute) who has been murdered. Her grandfather is a high-ranking conservative politician, who doesn’t want detail of the murder to get out. Eve Dallas is the lieutenant investigating the murder.

I really liked the story, and would have given it 4 stars, if not for the love interest, who I really, really disliked. If he’d been there, but not as a love interest, or not been there at all, or had a completely different personality, I would have liked it better. Oh, there was a big reveal “scene”, but I was slightly lost with the use of familial terms, as somehow I had missed some of those familial connections and how some of them were connected to others, so until the end of the reveal, I wasn’t quite sure who was doing what to whom! The ending was very good, with some edge-of-your-seat moments right up until the end and there was a little twist. I have the next two books in the series, so I will read them, but if this love interest sticks around, I’m not sure if I’ll continue beyond the books I have.

Interesting… with my review written (except for this little extra bit), I’m perusing other reviews. I see I’m in a minority for not liking the love interest. Also (though a few things confused me and this explains it), I seem to have missed that this was set in the future… Even worse, I see that someone (though they seem not to think it’s a spoiler… seems to me it’s a pretty big one), has spoiled the rest of the series for me, and apparently I may not be reading much beyond the next two books, unless something changes

Mar 11, 3:05pm Top

Just finished L M Boston's delightful Children of Green Knowe a children's ghost story about a small boy whose mother has died and he is sent to live with his great grandmother in an ancient country house. I have heard of the Green Knowe books but somehow had missed reading them as a child.. My loss. This book was delightful,elegantly written and sometimes even a little eerie,spooky.Yet another great children's book of the 1950s. I think in that decade as people struggled out of the pall of the war into a new very different world,children's authors yearned for the security of the old world,and set their books in a better, often rural world,so, The Narnia books,Charlotte's Web,The Borrowers,Lord of the Rings,Tom's Midnight Garden,the Moomin books,The Little White Horse to name but a few. By the 60s the kid characters were much more modern,urban and progressive,but for a little time the writers produced wonderful classics which have stood the test of time quite well. This book by Lucy Boston deserves to be in the list. Highly recommended.

Mar 11, 5:32pm Top

Reading The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession by Charlie Lovett.

Mar 12, 9:17am Top

Station Eleven – Emily St John Mandel
Audiobook narrated by Kirsten Potter

An actor collapses on stage during a performance of Shakespeare’s King Lear. An EMT in the audience rushes to his aid. The child actress playing one of Lear’s daughters, Kirsten, is distraught. The snow falling on Toronto gives the city a peaceful look, but the hysteria caused by a spreading plague that kills within days cannot be stopped. Twenty years later, Kirsten is an actress in a troupe of entertainers calling themselves the Traveling Symphony.

In general I am not a fan of dystopian or postapocalyptic novels, but I found this work quite interesting. Mandel moves back and forth in time, and from character to character, keeping the reader off balance. But I imagine the characters would have felt pretty lost and off balance after the catastrophic end of civilization as they knew it. Eventually the various threads of the plot are woven together, and, while things are not “back to normal,” there seems to be some hope for the future of mankind.

Kirsten is a strong female lead character – resourceful, determined, intelligent. I also really liked Clark and Jeevan, and wish Mandel had spent a little more time with those characters.

Kirsten Potter does a fine job narrating the audio version. However, the nonlinear plot, the changes in point of view from character to character, and the movement back and forth in time, make for a confusing experience. As soon as I finished the audio, I read the text version, picking up many more of the connections between characters and plot points.

Mar 12, 9:17am Top

The Vicious Vet – M.C. Beaton
Book on CD read by Diana Bishop.

Book two in the popular Agatha Raisin cozy mystery series.

I was not a fan of the first Agatha Raisin book, giving it only 1 star. I found Agatha unbelievable and the plot weak. But … I needed a book for a challenge, and this one was both relatively short, and fit the bill, so I decided to give Agatha Raisin another try.

Agatha is still abrasive and rude, but she’s growing on me. Or I should say, her escapades are growing on me. This begins with a new veterinarian in town … a handsome, single, veterinarian. Since her neighbor, James Lacey hasn’t shown any romantic interest, Agatha decides to take her cat for a check-up, hoping to spark a romance with Paul Bladen. Instead she winds up investigating the vet’s untimely death.

One of the review blurbs calls Agatha “a glorious cross between Miss Marple, Auntie Mame, and Lucille Ball, with a tad of pit bull tossed in” (St Petersburg Times). I’m beginning to see that combination here, and I’m starting to appreciate the humor in Agatha’s character. Her rough edges are softening a tad, thanks to the tenuous friendships she’s developing in her small Cotswold village. She doesn’t recognize how her “London PR executive” personality is abrasive and off-putting, which frustrates her efforts at finding love. But that part of her make-up is also what leads her to investigate.

Diana Bishop does a fine job narrating the audio version. She has good pacing and brings out the humor in several situations.

Mar 12, 9:19am Top

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

From The Book:
From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class

Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.

My Thoughts:
"The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility."

While the book and the author focus on his own background...a dirt poor...Scot-Irish... section of coal country in Kentucky..anyone at all that is familiar with poverty in America will recognize... and to some extent sympathize... with J.D. Vance's attempt to tell his family's story.

It's so easy to lump classes of people together and tag them with the same stamp...but if there has been any attempt to get to know them as individuals we would soon see that while they share some common denominators...they are each different in their own ways. I know this was the authors attempt when he started the story but somewhere along the way he seemed to threw the family that he obviously loved with all their many faults...into the same giant melting pot. I do have to give the author credit that at the end of his story he expressed his growing realization, that while individuals do not have total control over the shapes of their lives, their choices do in fact matter...that one does always have input into the life that comes from being free to make choices... every day... and in every situation.

Edited: Mar 12, 10:29am Top

>29 BookConcierge: Whilst Agatha isn't the most likeable of characters she does grow on you as you read more books, but she can be her own worst enemy! I always find these books humorous and overall enjoy the reads.

Mar 13, 11:51am Top

One Kick by Chelsea Cain - ★ ★ ★ ★ - 321 pages

Kick Lannigan knows several ways to kill a person. She is also haunted by her past. One of the most famous faces of child porn, she was rescued from her abductor/abuser when she was twelve. She is now embroiled in the cases of two other missing children. John Bishop, a former arms dealer, has forced her involvement - using what she knows about hiding children to help find them.

A good novel. There are some gaps - why didn't Bishop just talk with her? - but over the course of the series, I would expect these gaps filled in. Unfortunately, because Cain followed her editor to a new publisher, there won't be any more "Kick" novels - at least for a while.

Mar 13, 8:42pm Top

The Widow's House by Carol Goodman
4 Stars

From the Book:
When Jess and Clare Martin move from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to their former college town in the Hudson River valley, they are hoping for rejuvenation—of their marriage, their savings, and Jess's writing career.

They take a caretaker's job at Riven House, a crumbling estate and the home of their old college writing professor. While Clare once had dreams of being a writer, those plans fell by the wayside when Jess made a big, splashy literary debut in their twenties. It's been years, now, since his first novel. The advance has long been spent. Clare's hope is that the pastoral beauty and nostalgia of the Hudson Valley will offer some inspiration.

But their new life isn't all quaint town libraries and fragrant apple orchards. There is a haunting pall that hangs over Riven House like a funeral veil. Something is just not right. Soon, Clare begins to hear babies crying at night, see strange figures in fog at the edge of their property. Diving into the history of the area, she realizes that Riven House has a dark and anguished past. And whatever this thing is—this menacing force that destroys the inhabitants of the estate—it seems to be after Clare next.

My Thoughts:
It was not exactly the ghost story that I was expecting but overall not a disappointing read either. Enough specters appear to keep the ghost story enthusiasts happy. Surprises along the way gave the story a nice suspense building pace while at the same time providing a dark and edgy atmosphere. It was an easy read and I would recommend this book to anyone that loves a mystery mixed with a few goose bumps..

Mar 14, 7:59am Top

Thank you for this review. I "inherited" several of Tami Hoag's books from my late mother, and I've always wondered if they are interesting reads.

Edited: Mar 14, 3:36pm Top

We are starting a Group Read of Playing with Bones by Kate Ellis (#2 in the Joe Plantagenet Series).

Wednesday 15th March : Chapter 1 - 5
Thursday 16th March. : Chapter 6 - 13
Friday 17th March : Chapter 14 - 21
Saturday 18th March : Chapter 22 - 30

All are welcome to join in, questions for each section are posted at the end of each day. What are you waiting for! 😊


Mar 17, 7:56am Top

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson
4.5 Stars

From The Book:
The danger isn’t all in your head . . .

Growing up, Kate Priddy was always a bit neurotic, experiencing momentary bouts of anxiety that exploded into full blown panic attacks after an ex-boyfriend kidnapped her and nearly ended her life. When Corbin Dell, a distant cousin in Boston, suggests the two temporarily swap apartments, Kate, an art student in London, agrees, hoping that time away in a new place will help her overcome the recent wreckage of her life.

But soon after her arrival at Corbin’s grand apartment on Beacon Hill, Kate makes a shocking discovery: his next-door neighbor, a young woman named Audrey Marshall, has been murdered. When the police question her about Corbin, a shaken Kate has few answers, and many questions of her own—curiosity that intensifies when she meets Alan Cherney, a handsome, quiet tenant who lives across the courtyard, in the apartment facing Audrey’s. Alan saw Corbin surreptitiously come and go from Audrey’s place, yet he’s denied knowing her. Then, Kate runs into a tearful man claiming to be the dead woman’s old boyfriend, who insists Corbin did the deed the night that he left for London.

When she reaches out to her cousin, he proclaims his innocence and calms her nerves . . . until she comes across disturbing objects hidden in the apartment—and accidentally learns that Corbin is not where he says he is. Could Corbin be a killer? And what about Alan? Kate finds herself drawn to this appealing man who seems so sincere, yet she isn’t sure. Jet lagged and emotionally unstable, her imagination full of dark images caused by the terror of her past, Kate can barely trust herself . . . So how could she take the chance on a stranger she’s just met? Yet the danger Kate imagines isn’t nearly as twisted and deadly as what’s about to happen. When her every fear becomes very real. And much, much closer than she thinks.

My Thoughts:
The story is told from multiple viewpoints. I usually hate this way of telling the story as the characters sometimes become difficult to keep straight. That was not the case with Her Every Fear. There was a parade of various characters throughout Kate's stay in Boston and they all were loudly and convincingly proclaiming their innocence but you knew one of them was lying as Kate's neighbor had been murdered only hours before Kate arrived from London. I went back and forth on which one it was but Peter Swanson had delivered the story so well that I never did sort it out.

I highly recommend this to anyone that loves a physiological mystery with lots of possible solutions.

Edited: Mar 17, 3:08pm Top

A Falcon for a Queen by Catherine Gaskin
4.5 stars

Summary From the Book:
Kirsty Howard has traveled a long way to find what is behind her brother, William’s death. Her brother had left China where they were raised to seek out their grandfather in Scotland hoping to establish a relationship with the not very outgoing or friendly old man that had had little to do with their side of the family. William’s death makes Kirsty determined that she must find out more. She has his letters, and a scroll he sent which contains strange Chinese symbols. She knows what the characters say: “she has killed” but they don’t make sense to her. Surprisingly the grandfather and William seemed to have gotten along very well but the old man sees no use for Kristy whatsoever. A woman can’t run the distillery and he has no heir to leave his estate to. Mairi Sinclair, the enigmatic housekeeper, can’t see much use for Kirsty either, and from the moment she first steps foot on the property, makes Kirsty feel very unwelcome.

Despite all the opposition she faces, Kirsty is determined to make a place for herself at Cluain. Angus is her only remaining relative, and Cluain is her destiny. Enlisting the help of Callum Sinclair, Mairi’s equally enigmatic son, she takes a tour of the whiskey brewery and begins learning all she can about the process. But why is she continually being blocked in her quest to find out what really happened to her brother?

My Thoughts:
A beautifully written book with rich imagery. I visited the Highlands of Scotland with my grandfather as a child many times when he returned to what he always considered his home. The words on these pages made me wish to hop a plane and return again to what I thought of as a "magical" land. This was my Blind Date With A Book but it is also a "snowy-day, grab a blanket and a cuppa tea and loose yourself in the story" kind of read.

Mar 17, 3:34pm Top

The Dog Stars – Peter Heller
Book on CD read by Mark Deakins

From the book jacket: Hig survived the flu that killed everyone he knows. He lives in the hangar of a small abandoned airport with his dog, his only neighbor a gun-toting misanthrope. In his 1957 Cessna, Hig flies the perimeter of the airfield or sneaks off to the mountains to fish and to pretend that things are the way they used to be. But when a random transmission somehow beams through his radio, the voice ignites a hope deep inside him that a better life –something like his old life – exists beyond the airport.

My reactions
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I am not a great fan of post-apocalyptic novels. And yet, here I am reading/listening to another one. S*I*G*H

Heller’s writing is both poetic and spare, with short sentences that come at the reader like staccato gun fire. This gives the novel a feeling of impending danger, of uncertainty and fear. I wanted to rush through it, and yet, I wanted to take my time to understand what was happening and how these characters were dealing with this different world.

In contrast to Emily St John Mandel’s Station Eleven, Heller does not envision communities of survivors helping one another. Instead one or two people “maintain the perimeter” – shooting first and asking questions later. It is a “kill or be killed” kind of world. And Hig, with his poet’s soul, and his longing for peace and quiet, for nature, and his long-dead family and friends, is never at ease in it.

Neither am I. I found the violence hard to take. Even with Hig’s obvious recoiling and reluctance to participate, he did participate. He had to, even if he didn’t like doing so. I felt a little like that – I had to finish reading even if I didn’t like it.

Mark Deakins does a fine job performing the audio version. Deakins’s narration and skill with voices was such that I was never confused about who was speaking. After listening to the entire book, I picked up the text to check a few things before writing this review. I understand now some of the reviews that criticize the book for lack of quotations.

Mar 17, 3:34pm Top

A Fierce Radiance – Lauren Belfer

Claire Shipley is a photojournalist working for Life magazine in the early years of World War II. She’s assigned to document the medical trials of a new wonder drug – penicillin. While her story never sees print, she becomes involved in the intrigue surrounding the efforts by various big pharmaceutical companies to develop and produce penicillin in large quantities, as needed to fight battle infections during the war.

Well this sounded much more interesting than it wound up being.

I definitely enjoyed some aspects of the novel. I like reading medical histories, and the race to develop a procedure to mass produce penicillin was an important effort in World War II. Like many of the characters in the book, my family suffered the death of a loved one due to infection; my grandfather died of peritonitis resulting from a burst appendix. Penicillin and antibiotics that were developed later spared many such deaths. If Belfer had stayed focused on that exciting story I think I would have greatly enjoyed the book.

But, Belfer included a romantic subplot between Claire and a lead scientist, Dr James Stanton (aka Jamie), as well as broken family ties, a murder, corporate espionage, Russian spies and unethical treatment of the Japanese families interred at various camps. There is just too much going on between the covers of this book for Belfer to give us a cohesive story, and I never got caught up in the novel.

Edited: Mar 17, 4:27pm Top

>37 Carol420: I read quite a few of Catherine Gaskin's novels in ye olden days,and always enjoyed them. I have held on to a copy of her File on Devlin which I found unusual and impressive.It was a cold war novel,but the characterisation was excellent,and the book was poignant and has stayed a personal favourite of mine for decades.Gaskin was rarely formulaic and her books stay in the memory.

Mar 17, 10:19pm Top

Scarlet Feather / Maeve Binchy
3.5 stars

Cathy Scarlet and Tom Feather are friends and are trying to start a catering business in Dublin. Cathy’s husband, Neil, has young cousins who show up at his rich parents’ place, needing a place to stay, but they rub his parents the wrong way, so Cathy and Neil end up taking them in. Tom’s wife, Marcella, wants desperately to be a model.

There is plenty going on, as this novel follows their lives for one year. There are many characters, and the perspective goes back and forth amongst many of them, but somehow, they are pretty easy to keep straight. I quite like that Binchy often has characters in multiple novels. I enjoyed the book, but problems can be seen coming from a bit of a distance. That is, I don’t think there are really any surprises in the book.

Mar 17, 10:42pm Top

Copper Sun / Sharon M. Draper
3.5 stars

It is the 18th century. Amari is a 15-year old girl in her village in Africa when the village is attacked by white people and the survivors are chained up and taken away. Amari has a boy she was intending to marry, but obviously that will no longer happen (though he survived the initial attack, as well). To no surprise to the reader, they are shipped to the United States where they become slaves. On the plantation that Amari goes to, she becomes unlikely friends with a white girl around her age - Polly is an indentured servant.

It’s a YA book, so it doesn’t go into as much detail as adult books might, nor is it as complex, but it was still good. I’m still not sure if Fort Mose in Florida is real, though. It’s someplace I hadn’t heard of.

Mar 19, 1:58am Top

Birdie / Tracey Lindberg
Touchstone not currently working.
2 stars

Bernice (aka Birdie) is a Cree woman and has recently come to Gibsons, British Columbia, where The Beachcombers was filmed. Bernice has had a crush on the only Indian character, Jesse, since she was younger. The story goes back and forth in time from Bernice in Gibsons to growing up in Alberta.

I just didn’t find this book very interesting, so my mind wandered. The most interesting parts were when she was growing up, but in general, I wasn’t interested and didn’t really care. Even less was I interested in the little bit of poetry(???) at the end of each chapter and the bit of dreaming(???) at the start of each chapter. Those parts, I barely skimmed, if I didn’t skip them altogether.

Mar 19, 6:45pm Top

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Maya Angelou
5/5 stars
This is the first autobiography of Maya Angelou in which she tells the story of her life from birth to young adulthood and the birth of her son Guy in the early 40's. I was blown away with her writing and her recollection of a severe and difficult life growing up in America as an African American child and young woman. She is an amazing writer and I am looking forward to reading more of her books.

Mar 19, 7:40pm Top

Rebel Spurs by Andre Norton - ★ ★ ★ ★ - 238 pages

Drew Rennie heads west after the Civil War, hoping to meet the father he never knew. Traveling with two blooded horses from his mother's family, he hires on as horse trainer for Don Cazar Hunt Rennie. He keeps his identity a secret - wanting to know what kind of man his father is - before he makes himself known. He is soon drawn into the tension between the Army outpost and a Rebel outlaw, as well as the trouble surrounding Hunt Rennie's adopted son Johnny Shannon.

I first read this over 40 years ago when I was in junior high ( OK - maybe it was closer to 45 years ago!) I remember liking it then - and I still like it. It has held up well over time.

Mar 19, 7:45pm Top

>45 Hope_H: Always a mark of a good book when it can stand the test of time.

Mar 20, 8:41pm Top

>46 Andrew-theQM: I was pleasantly surprised. Not all of my rereads have stood up so well. I think part of it was Norton's craft as a writer!

Edited: Mar 20, 10:37pm Top

Will Not Attend: Lively Stories of Detachment and Isolation by Adam Resnick
4/5 stars
Comedy writer Adam Resnick, who has written for David Letterman and Saturday Night Live, now writes about his life in a series of essays that are fabulously funny and yet disturbing. I could not help but laugh through these stories and some hit very close to home. Recommended to those not afraid of dark humor.

Started Max Perkins: Editor of a Genius by A. Scott Berg.

Mar 21, 4:58pm Top

Voyager – Diana Gabaldon
Book on CD performed by Davina Porter

Book three in the popular Outlander series.

I don’t want to say much about plot so as not to include any spoilers for previous books, but I will say this: most of the characters readers have come to love (or love to hate) are present. Also, the basic plot formula remains intact: Claire will never stop rushing into danger despite warnings, nor will she refrain from imposing her 20th century values on an 18th century society, one or more characters will need to be rescued from some sort of imprisonment, there will be scenes of mad passionate love-making, some people will be killed or injured, and the book will end with a sort of cliff-hanger that encourages readers to anxiously await the next installment.

This isn’t great literature, but the series is fun to read. This installment delves more deeply into the supernatural, which I thought detracted from the central story.

Davina Porter is absolutely perfect when narrating this series. Her skill with voices and dialects gives each character a unique voice, making it easy to distinguish who is speaking in any given scene. I could listen to her for hours (and I did … 36 discs and 43 hours 45 minutes to be exact). 5 Stars for her performance.

Mar 21, 4:58pm Top

Chestnut Street – Maeve Binchy
Audiobook read by Sale Bermingham

From the book jacket: Maeve Binchy imagined a street in Dublin with many characters coming and going, and every once in a while she would write about one of these people. She would then put the story in a drawer, “for the future,” she would say. (This collection of short stories was published after Binchy’s death.)

My Reactions
Binchy does a great job of giving us a picture of a neighborhood. Characters come in contact with one another, interact, leave, and return. They support one another, fight, make-up, deride, and defend in turns. They witness one another’s triumphs and defeats. But always there is a sense of community, of a shared culture and similar experiences. Binchy’s characters seem like real people; I recognize many of them though I live in Wisconsin and this is set in Dublin.

Sale Bermingham does a fine job narrating the audiobook. She really brought these characters to life.

Mar 22, 11:34pm Top

On the Banks of Plum Creek / Laura Ingalls-Wilder
4 stars

In the 4th Little House book, following Laura Ingalls-Wilder and her family, they have just arrived in Minnesota, where they trade a few of their things with a Norwegian farmer for his land and sod house, built right in to the hill. The girls go to school and church for the first time. The Ingalls family has to deal with drought and grasshoppers on their farm, as well as winter prairie blizzards.

This is where many of the characters from the tv show are from; we meet Nellie Oleson in this book. One of my favourite chapters was their first Christmas tree at the church. These books are so very good at descriptions: the descriptions of the farm, the sky, the weather, the grasshoppers, the blizzards… These books are just really enjoyable!

Mar 22, 11:54pm Top

A Stir of Echoes / Richard Matheson
4 stars

It started with a party at a neighbour’s place and one friend who said he’d like to hypnotize someone. Tom said he’d be hypnotized, but later that night, he couldn’t sleep… and there was a “woman” in his house. That is, possibly a ghost? From there, Tom seemed to be able to sense what others were feeling… then he seemed to be able to “see” things happen before they happened… And on and on…

I really liked this. Not only was all this going on with Tom, but Tom has a wife and young son. His wife, in particular, was very upset about the whole thing, so in addition to Tom trying to figure out what was going on with himself, the book also explored how this was affecting their relationship. And there was a surprise ending.

Mar 23, 7:29pm Top

Schedule for Group Read of The Forbidden Tomb by Chris Kuzneski, #2 in the Hunters Series on the Mystery and Suspense Group.

Friday 24th March : Prologue and 1 - 12
Saturday 25th March : 13 - 25
Sunday 26th March : 26 - 39
Monday 27th March : 40 - 53
Tuesday 28th March : 54 - 69
Wednesday 29th March : 70 - 83 and Epilogue

Mar 24, 1:22pm Top

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
4 Stars

From The Book:
Louise is a single mom, a secretary, stuck in a modern-day rut. On a rare night out, she meets a man in a bar and sparks fly. Though he leaves after they kiss, she’s thrilled she finally connected with someone.

When Louise arrives at work on Monday, she meets her new boss, David. The man from the bar. The very married man from the bar…who says the kiss was a terrible mistake, but who still can’t keep his eyes off Louise.

And then Louise bumps into Adele, who’s new to town and in need of a friend. But she also just happens to be married to David. And if you think you know where this story is going, think again, because Behind Her Eyes is like no other book you’ve read before.

David and Adele look like the picture-perfect husband and wife. But then why is David so controlling? And why is Adele so scared of him?

As Louise is drawn into David and Adele’s orbit, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong. But Louise can’t guess how wrong―and how far a person might go to protect their marriage’s secrets.

My Thoughts:
This was an extraordinary story. Never in a million years could I have ever have guessed the outcome. It's also a dark story told through first person viewpoints. The timeline shifts between "then" and "now." I usually find this technique frustrating...but not for this one. I would recommend it for lovers of mysteries, thrillers, and psychological suspense. novels. I found the middle to be a bit slow...hence the 4 stars.

Edited: Mar 24, 2:29pm Top

As a newbie to this group I am still finding & assimilating your threads.
My March reads & reviews are as follows:

20. Sorrows & Songs: One Lifetime-Many Lives Sorrows & Songs by Janice Wood Wetzel; (2*); ARC/ER, NetGalley; nonfiction; memoir; (2015)

Sorrows & Songs is a memoir of this child and young woman who suffered both physical, mental and emotional abuse at the hands of her parents. She went on to marry her college sweetheart who also dominated and controlled her. Somehow through all of the many trials in her life, including the death of her parents, a depressive breakdown and a divorce, her spirit continued to rise. She turned to education and feminism, becoming a social worker along the way. She helped break down the barriers of sexism and accomplished so much in her life of advocacy for women.
I found the book to be somewhat interesting but having lived through the same era as the author I also know a great many of us women of a certain age, suffered the same treatment growing up and in our marriages. The BIG difference is in how this author handled the 'trampling'. She turned to education and made a difference not only in her life but helped to make a difference in the lives of other women. We must give Wetzel kudos for that.
Other than that I found this read to be just okay.

I would like to thank Fullarton Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this memoir.

21. The Hampton Affair byVincent Lardo; (3 1/2*); mystery; hardcopy; Hampton series, bk 1; (1999)

I found this to be an interesting page turner that kept me guessing. I guess I would say that it is fairly light reading but quite enjoyable for the mystery that it is. And I liked Lardo's writing & his characters.

22. The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne; (5*); gothic lit; The Classics; (1851)

This is the story of the Pyncheon family that is slowly becoming extinct. We meet Hepzibah Pyncheon, poor and old, who lives alone in the family mansion. This house was built with seven gables, thus the title. Without funds Hepzibah opens a penny shop to earn money to live on. Other characters in this tale are her brother Clifford, imprisoned because of the acts of Jaffrey Pyncheon, a wealthy judge who lives in his own country manor and is determined to find an ancient deed to other Pyncheon property.
When the penny shop seems to be failing the young Phoebe Pyncheon appears. She is a lovely, vivacious, and enthusiastic young woman who lives in the country and has come to visit her cousins. She enjoys running the penny store and brightens the gloomy atmosphere in the house. When Clifford returns from prison she entertains him with her charms. In addition she meets Holgrave, a young boarder in the house and romance blossoms.
This story is often considered a romance but I think it is more a story about the Pyncheon family and the curse it endured. Hawthorne sets the stage by giving us an overview of how the original Pyncheon obtained the property and built the house. His actions brought about a curse from the original land owner that is to last throughout the family's existence.
There are ghosts and strange occurrences in the house and we are exposed to the lives of former residents. But life improves for the current residents when another tragedy strikes the Pyncheon family, particularly the judge. Hepzibah and Clifford temporarily leave their ancestral home. It all comes to a climax as the author weaves the tale into an ending that is unexpected but makes the reader smile. Many like to look at the symbolism used to represent aspects of the human condition. I have never been certain that Hawthorne chose to approach the novel in this manner. Nevertheless I like this tale more each time I read it.

23. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; (1 1/2*); March Monthly Author Read; Latin American lit; hardcopy; historical fiction; magic realism?; (1985)

This is another beautifully written book that while reading, I just wanted to whisper to the author; "Come on, come on, get on with it!". I couldn't wait for this one to end. I found the repetitiveness boring and my favorite characters were often the ones down in the quagmire. But to each his own.
It came highly recommended---I simply didn't appreciate it. And though it's average rating is 4 stars, I was only able to bring myself to give it 1 1/2 stars.

24. Awakenings by Oliver Sacks; (5*); nonfiction; 20th century biography; brain case studies; cognitive science; encephalitis lethargica; L-Dopa medicine studies; mental illness; neurology & neuroscience; non-fiction; Parkinson's disease parkinsonism; psychiatry / psychology; sleeping sickness; (1973)

This is fascinating stuff!

I am not nor was I ever a medical student nor have I ever worked in the medical field. But I am so thankful that I read this book & must say, even at the beginning of my thoughts & comments, that I highly recommend this work of Sacks. The man has a brilliant mind, very worthy of our appreciation.
I could not have read this book, had I not read ALL of the preliminary notes which take the reader well into the book and give one such as myself a very good background before going into the case studies of these special patients.
I found the book to be so much better than the movie, which I thought wonderful & which left me speechless!

The "sleepy sickness" that masks itself as Parkisonism would be difficult to garner understanding from without those previously mentioned notes. Oliver Sacks is a gifted writer. His prose is often times overly medical but again, please read the notes before beginning the case studies. The beauty of his words in regards to how medicine should be practiced and how the overly technical aspects of medicine are denying the original feeling & healing that is the true basic of the medical practice have made this book a must read for all those going into the medical field. I could go on and on but will just say: Please read this book if you have any interest in an extraordinary disease and the extraordinary processes which both the patients, other doctors, nurses & medical personnel go through long with Dr. Sacks.

From Wikipedia regarding the "sleepy sickness":

"Encephalitis lethargica or von Economo disease is an atypical form of encephalitis. Also known as "sleepy sickness" (distinct from tsetse fly-transmitted sleeping sickness), it was first described in 1917 by the neurologist Constantin von Economo and the pathologist Jean-René Cruchet. The disease attacks the brain, leaving some victims in a statue-like condition, speechless and motionless. Between 1915 and 1926, an epidemic of encephalitis lethargica spread around the world. Nearly five million people were affected, a third of whom died in the acute stages. Many of those who survived never returned to their pre-existing "aliveness". "They would be conscious and aware - yet not fully awake; they would sit motionless and speechless all day in their chairs, totally lacking energy, impetus, initiative, motive, appetite, affect or desire; they registered what went on about them without active attention, and with profound indifference. They neither conveyed nor felt the feeling of life; they were as insubstantial as ghosts, and as passive as zombies." No recurrence of the epidemic has since been reported, though isolated cases continue to occur."

25. NORA: The Real Life of Molly Bloom by Brenda Maddox; (3 1/2*); nonfiction; bio; (1988)

Just a few thoughts:

I found this to be a fascinating peek into the personal life of the writer James Joyce and his wife Nora, who was also his muse. A lot of passion is to be found and a lot of quirkiness. A side of Joyce I had never thought to read about. I liked the book and found it quite interesting.

Some Joyce quotes:

"A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery."

"Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age."

"Think you're escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home."

26. Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman; (5*); shorts; Magic Realism, (2004)

This is an absolute favorite of mine. I thought 'how strange' when I first started it but it might be one of my very favorites of hers and I am SUCH an Alice Hoffman fan. She is probably my favorite contemporary author. Anything I read of hers becomes my 'bible' during the time I am reading it. I love how she grows her characters and I love her writing.......how she puts her words together, her phrasing.
This is a book of short stories. Each story is about someone who lived in the "Blackbird House" in a different time and era. It is a fascinating and wonderful book!~!

27. The Snow Child: A Novel by Eowyn Ivey; (4*); Kindle; fairy tales; ; fantasy fiction; homesteading; magical realism; (2012)

This very imaginative story takes its theme from a children's Russian fable of the same name, written by Freya Littledale and Barbara Lavallee. The characters are clearly defined as trailblazers, fighting the harsh winters and wilderness of Alaska in the early part of the twentieth century. Developed well, you can sense the contrast in the characters: Esther is larger than life, sturdy and sure-footed, Mabel is frail and tentative, George, a long time dweller in this seeming wasteland, is a wonderful kind, giving man and neighbor, and Jack is sincere and overwhelmed with his effort to develop the land and make it thrive, in spite of his age and inexperience. Faina is depicted as faerie like, magical and young, when we first meet her. Garrett, the Benson's son, is a boy of the wilderness; he loves it and prefers hunting and camping to farming. The characters are wholesome and thoughtful, helping each other in times of need, living off the environment that they are taming.
Childless and bereft, Mabel and Jack, a loving couple tired of being ridiculed and stared at, as if childlessness was an affliction, decide to move away from family and friends to Alaska, where they can begin their lives again, alone, living off the untamed land. It is a tender tale of deep love and loss, told beautifully with reality and fantasy mixing together with an easy grace.
Struggling to survive a task far greater than they imagined, they grow a little apart, become depressed and forlorn, giving up hope of succeeding in their fight to overcome the climate and the barrenness. Fearing that they will not be able to thrive on the farm they are trying to create, afraid they will have to return to civilization in shame, they drop their guard when the first snowstorm arrives, and like children, they build a snow child dressed in Mabel's mittens and gloves. They carve features colored with berries, provide branches for arms, they dance around with glee, rekindle their love for each other and renew their hope and efforts to survive.
When a strange child suddenly appears soon afterwards, wearing the mittens and gloves of the collapsed snow child, Mabel and Jack are astonished. For many years, she arrives with the first snowfall and leaves in the spring when the weather warms, witnessed by no one else, not even neighbors George and Esther, who often visit and have helped them to survive the toughest moments of their homesteading. Faina brings joy and warmth back into their lives, albeit briefly. That joy is always followed by a season of sadness when she leaves once again.
Faina, changes and influences their lives and they influence hers. She seems magical, like a spirit, and often strange events occur when she is around. Is she real or a figment of their imagination, resulting from 'cabin fever'? Will she always return?
This is a very tender magical novel about dreams and nightmares, belief and disbelief, life and death, love and loss. Love has the power to deal with all of these scenarios or does it perhaps in actuality create them? How the issue of the snow child resolves itself is the crux of this lovely little fairy tale. I very highly recommended it.

29. Looking for Alaska by John Green; (5*); Y/A; Kindle; boarding school; coming of age; (2005)

Absolutely great book and a wonderful introduction into the works of John Green. He grabs & holds the reader's interest with very few words and there I was..........engrossed in this young adult novel. I have since purchased several more of his books.
His wonderful characters include five students away at school together & the scrapes they get into. Some of them are madcap but some of them are very serious. I was really taken with this story and look forward to rereading it when enough time has passed.

30. Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones; (5*); Y/A; coming of age; Papua New Guinea; Great Expectations; (2006)


What a beautifully written coming of age story Jones has given us. A lovely, poetic gift from his mind and hand.
The story takes place on a lush tropical Pacific Isle.
The protagonist, Matilda, is the daughter of a native Christian woman and her father has gone to work on the mainland. For a while Matilda believed her mother when she said they would soon follow him but she came to realize that they were never going to leave the island.
Most of the men from the village have gone but there remain many women and children. One of the men, Mr. Watts, who does remain is the only white man in the village. With the teacher gone Mr. Watts decides to take over the teaching of the children. And he decides to begin with his favorite piece of literature: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. He and Matilda quickly come to share a love of this work and the character, Pip, becomes a great part of this story.
Beautifully written, both lyrically and visually, this book took my breath away. Even the horror of a warring army invading this village numerous times and committing atrocities was unable to take my mind off the beauty of this book.
I highly recommend this work.

31. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton; (5*); VMC; the Classics; New England; (dark); VIRAGO MONTHLY AUTHOR READ; (1911)

One of Wharton's very best, if not her best! The story is about the seamier side of life and what can happen in a cold clime when one makes a snap decision. Sometimes one ends up paying for that second in time for the remainder of their lives.
This is a wonderful, but dark, Wharton novel. Very intense and very good. Highly recommended.

32. Good Daughters by Mary Hocking; (5*); VMC; Good Daughters (book 1); British lit; historical fiction; series; family saga; (1984)

This, the first volume of Hocking's trilogy, spans both the years of wartime and the lives of one London family. The Fairley daughters are growing up in the traditional world maintained by their father. This world is shaken by the girls' discoveries of life and what comes with it.

Mary Hocking writes with humor and sympathy in her depiction of the Fairley sisters growing up in their close knit West London neighborhood before, during and after the war. In the first novel of this trilogy, the girls are sheltered in a world whose traditions of hard work and simplicity are upheld by their Methodist father and their strong, quiet mother. But as love comes to Louise and adventures tempt Alice, unsettling emotions & thoughts lurk amid terrible rumors traveling from Germany -- rumors of the catastrophe to come. Claire, the baby of the family, is young enough to be so busy with her friends & play that she is unaware for a time of the things to come & realization only comes as she becomes aware of her reactionary family.

I found this to be a lovely, moving and satisfying book on so many levels and I hope to read the 2nd book in the trilogy, Indifferent Heroes, for April.

33. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton; (4 1/2*); on Kindle; VMC; American lit; Classic Lit; historical fiction; New York society;

This a book about living your life in respect to appearances. And in 'old' New York it was ALL about appearances. There is a sameness within all marriages, a sameness between the ladies as well as the gentlemen, a sameness in what time the lights go on in the evenings and the time the curtains are pulled.
This could have been a very boring book but it was not at all. In point of fact, I found it to be fascinating. The main character is in love with the young lady that he eventually proposes to, but comes to realize that with her, their marriage will have that boring sameness to it of all the others, that she will be just like all of the other wives which will make him just like all of the other husbands. He meets another young lady who rather than being brought up in old New York was brought up in Europe and finds that she is quite different. She is married to a man whom she has left in Europe due to the very unhappy circumstances in the way he treated her. He becomes fascinated with this woman and even his fiancee tells him that if he should want something different, that she would not want to stand in his way. But...............times being as they were, there are certain standards to be met no matter the happiness or sadness involved.
I enjoyed this Wharton tremendously and have found her to be a wonderful author. I highly recommend the book and have given it 4 1/2 stars.

33. The Crocodile Bird by Ruth Rendell; (4*); Kindle; Brit lit; fiction; mother-daughter relationships; mystery; suspense; (1993)

Liza tells her story over several nights and in the process finds salvation. After the police question her mother about the death of the owner of Shrove House, 16-year-old Liza runs away with Sean, the young gardener. It is to him, over the course of 101 nights, that Liza gradually reveals her strange upbringing. She lived alone with her mother in the gatehouse of the estate. She was schooled by her mother and isolated from all society except the mailman, groundskeeper and the few men whom her mother admits into their lives.
Liza learns early that others may have something to fear from her mother but that she does not. Credibility never flags as Edgar Award winning Rendell reveals the specifics of Liza's increasing contact with the world. She creats suspense in the gradually shared details of Liza's mother's intense attachment to the estate and of her determination to protect Liza from the outside world.
This was a page-turner for me. And I would like to find more of Rendell's writings. I really liked this one.

34. Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell; (3 1/2*); hardcopy; in translation; (the Wallander series, 1 of 12); crime fiction; police procedural; mystery; Swedish; (1991)

Kurt Wallander is a Swedish investigative detective. He is estranged from his wife, his daughter and his friends. He has a problematic relationship with his father, who I found to be such an interesting character in the novel. I thought that all of the characters were well developed, that the dialog was very well done and I found the story-line to be quite engaging. I loved the sparse prose style Mankell has used with this series.
In this particular book of the series the brutal torture and murder of an elderly farm couple puzzles and horrifies the department. The only clues are the unusual ligature on a rope used in the crime and the wife's dying whisper that their attackers were "foreign". This puts the police on the track of the immigrant population. Wallander soon finds himself spending as much time dealing with attacks by racists as with the initial crime and Mankell uses the scenario as a way to explain both Wallander's own frustration with an immigration system that's obviously badly broken and as a warning about the escalating tensions and the hatreds of folk less level-headed than the detective.
Wallander, as a detective, is a sympathetic character and the observations about Sweden in particular and Europe in general I found to be quite a brain-worm for myself. The cultural backdrop, against which the story is set, is as bleak and as barren as the wintry landscape.
I definitely recommend this series.

Ahhhhhhhh; I believe I have finally caught up with myself.

Now.............on with my 12 X 12!

(All of my March reads thus far are posted & reviewed here.
For January & February, one will need to go to my 'reading log' here: https://www.librarything.com/topic/251185#
to catch up on those. But I believe I am now in good shape to continue. Don't you just hate getting a late start?

Here's to all of your 2017 reads!

Mar 24, 2:37pm Top

>55 rainpebble: I've read a few of your March reads:
Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Mar 24, 2:46pm Top

>55 rainpebble: I own, and need to read The Crocodile Bird.

Mar 24, 2:50pm Top

>57 Andrew-theQM: I didn't know i needed to read The Crocodile Bird until I read this review, but now I know!

Mar 24, 2:56pm Top

>58 Darth-Heather: That's the beauty of seeing other's reviews.

Mar 24, 3:27pm Top

>55 rainpebble: >57 Andrew-theQM: >58 Darth-Heather: I own 52 books by Ruth Rendell and The Crocodile Bird is one of them! Yeah! Looks like I've got to read this one too!

Mar 24, 3:37pm Top

>60 EadieB: If you read one a week you'll be finished by the end of March 2018, Lol! Didn't even know she'd written that many! Does that include books she wrote as Barbara Vine? I own three of her books, 2 in the name of Ruth Rendell and one written as Barbara Vine.

Mar 24, 4:07pm Top

>61 Andrew-theQM: No because I have 9 Barbara Vine books too.

Mar 24, 4:08pm Top

>62 EadieB: It may take you longer than a year!

Mar 24, 4:08pm Top

>63 Andrew-theQM: I'm sure it will!

Mar 24, 4:10pm Top

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs - 5 stars
Like its predecessor, this second novel in the Peculiar Children series blends thrilling fantasy with vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind reading experience.

September 3, 1940. Ten peculiar children flee an army of deadly monsters. And only one person can help them—but she’s trapped in the body of a bird. The extraordinary journey that began in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children continues as Jacob Portman and his newfound friends journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. There, they hope to find a cure for their beloved headmistress, Miss Peregrine. But in this war-torn city, hideous surprises lurk around every corner. And before Jacob can deliver the peculiar children to safety, he must make an important decision about his love for Emma Bloom.

I listened to the audio and also thumbed through the book to look at the vintage photos throughout. I really enjoyed the first book and this one does not disappoint either. It picks up where the last one left off and ends with another cliffhanger. It's very hard to stop listening to this story as the adventures are all very interesting. I can't wait for the third book and I recommend this book to those who liked the Harry Potter books.

Mar 24, 4:34pm Top

>65 EadieB: I also need to read these!

Mar 24, 9:08pm Top

>65 EadieB: I didn't like the second one as much as the first.

Mar 25, 5:55am Top

Nice to see rainpebble's covers. I gave up trying to add them. Numerous people have attempted to show me how to do it(we even put a special thread on the Trove showing how to do technical things)but after much fumbling it works about once in five - and then there is the size adjustment,even worse! lol. So you'll just have to press the touchstone to see more. :0)

Mar 25, 6:04am Top

>68 dustydigger: Dusty you are ahead of me, I don't even know how to do it.

Mar 25, 7:16am Top

>67 LibraryCin: I think the first was the feeling that the story was unique and different and I read the physical book. The second book I liked it because of the audio and the reader was very good.

Mar 25, 9:18am Top

>51 LibraryCin:
I never read these books as a child and am really enjoying reading them now. I think I'm up to # 6.

Mar 25, 9:23am Top

The Bat – Jo Nesbø
Book on CD read by John Lee

Book #1 in the Inspector Harry Hole series. Harry is a member of the Oslo Crime Squad, and he’s sent to Sydney Australia after a young Norwegian woman is murdered. Harry’s role is to “observe” and offer advice, if asked, but he’s not to interfere with the investigation. Of course, Harry can’t just sit idly by. First he befriends one of the lead detectives, and then one of the witnesses. Before long he’s pointed out the pattern of killings that point to a psychopathic serial killer.

The first thriller I read by Nesbø was The Snowman, set in Oslo and featuring Harry Hole. When I realized it was part of a series, I decided to go back to book one, except that at that time it wasn’t available in the USA. I’m glad I finally got to it.

Nesbø writes a tight, fast-paced thriller with plenty of clues, several red herrings, a flawed but likeable lead detective, and an interesting setting. I’ll definitely read more of this series.

John Lee does a fine job narrating the audio version. He has good pacing and I loved his Aussie accent! He even does a pretty good job with the female voices.

Mar 25, 9:23am Top

Maria, Daughter of Immigrants– Maria Antonietta Berriozabal

Maria details how her grandparents and parents came from Mexico to the United States, and worked as sharecroppers on neighboring ranches in central Texas. Ultimately her parents settled in San Antonio, where her father worked as a laborer and her mother “made do” with the little they had, raising six children in a small house on the impoverished West Side of that city. Maria was the second child, but her older brother was frail due to asthma, so Maria decided on her own at a young age that it was up to her to help her family. Despite encouragement to go to college, she went to work right out of high school, contributing most of her salary to the family so that her younger siblings could finish their educations. Eventually she married, finished her own college degree, and then successfully ran for a seat on the City Council – the first Hispanic woman to be elected to that post in San Antonio’s history.

I really enjoyed and was captivated by Maria’s personal journey as she outlines it in the book. But a little more than half-way through the book, it seemed to become more of a history of the politics of the city than Maria’s autobiography. I still found this interesting, because I’m from San Antonio, but I think it detracted from the central story of her own life.

In the interest of full disclosure I must say that Maria is a close friend of my family’s, and that four pages of this book are devoted to my mother and her role as Maria mentor. So this was an emotional read for me, and I put it off for a few years because it was released so close to my mother’s death, that I just couldn’t bring myself to read it earlier.

I’m glad I got to know more about Maria. She’s a remarkable woman, and many young women today will benefit – whether they know it or not – by the path she blazed.

Mar 25, 6:18pm Top

Maude by Donna Mabry
3.5/5 stars
This is the story of Maude, a woman born in the late 1800s and written by her granddaughter. The reader is taken on a nonstop journey that was Maude's life-from losing her parents early and then her first husband, marrying her second husband because of the social mores at the time and dealing with the major events in her life time from WWI, the flu epidemic, the depression and WWII. Life was hard for Maude but she kept her spirits up and kept going. A fast read and a very interesting look back at a woman's life in the 1900s. And no complaining about housework anymore!

Mar 25, 10:03pm Top

>70 EadieB: Ahhhh, that makes sense! I didn't do the audio for either one. I loved the photos and I'm sure the uniqueness played a part in how much I enjoyed the first one, as well.

Mar 25, 10:04pm Top

>71 BookConcierge: Nice! Glad you are enjoying them!

Mar 26, 9:24am Top

Birthdays For the Dead by Stuart MacBride
Ash Henderson series Book #1
3.5 stars

From The Book:
A bloody, brilliant and brutal story of murder, kidnap and revenge.

Detective Constable Ash Henderson has a dark secret. Five years ago his daughter, Rebecca, went missing on the eve of her thirteenth birthday. A year later the first card arrived: home-made, with a Polaroid picture stuck to the front – Rebecca, strapped to a chair, gagged and terrified. Every year another card: each one worse than the last. The tabloids call him ‘The Birthday Boy’. He’s been snatching girls for twelve years, always just before their thirteenth birthday, killing them slowly, then torturing their families with his homemade cards.

Ash hasn’t told anyone what really happened to Rebecca – they all think she ran away – because if anyone finds out, he’ll be taken off the investigation. And he’s sacrificed too much to give up before his daughter’s murderer gets what he deserves.

My Thoughts:
The jury is still out on Ash Henderson but it is totally back in the box on Dr. McDonald, the forensic profiler and psychologist. My opinion is that she needs a psychiatrist...and he might want to take a look at the rest of the team. What a nut job! Even Ash calls her "DrFruitLoop". And then there is Ash... "a horse of an entirely different color" doesn't even begin to describe him. I entirely understood his need to find these girls but what have the police been doing for the past ten or twelve years since the "Birthday Boy" took the first one? He is a total loose cannon with an explosive temper...owes money to a group of loan sharks...has an on the border drug problem because of chronic pain with his back...and the problems with his ex wife and 12 year old remaining daughter are just too numerous to mention.

All of the characters are totally unlikable and nonredeemable for the most part. One reviewer described the story as "cringe - worthy". That does pretty much round it off. This book is not for those that don't want loads of blood and violence in their reads...but the characters are so off the wall you just have to see how they plan to solve this.

Mar 27, 10:02pm Top

A Stolen Life / Jaycee Dugard
4 stars

Jaycee Dugard was only 11-years old in 1991 when she was snatched from the street while she walked to school one morning. She was raped and imprisoned for 18 years before she got out with her two daughters, born to her at ages 14 and 17.

How horrifying! I can’t even imagine. I vaguely remember hearing the name somewhere along the way, but don’t remember hearing what actually happened. (But then (sadly), there seem to have been a number of these, so I may also be confusing some of them). This book is not for the faint of heart, as it does go into detail on the sexual abuse – at least to describe the first time Philip did each of these horrible things to her, though later in the book, it wasn’t mentioned as much... certainly wasn’t described in detail later. And Philip’s wife, Nancy, was a party to all of this, right from helping him the day they kidnapped her!

Jaycee mixes what she remembers from when it was happening with reflections (at the end of many chapters) to describe what she thinks/feels as she looks back, and with journal entries from the time - one journal focusing on one of the many cats that she had while in captivity and one journal that goes through some of the last decade or so of her captivity. Some of the writing was simple – Jaycee only had a grade 5 education before she was kidnapped – but that didn’t detract from my interest to keep reading and find out what happened and how she got out. The end does focus on some of the recovery and reunion with her mom, sister, and aunt after she got out with her daughters.

Mar 28, 8:20am Top

River Road by Carol Goodman
3 Stars

From The Book:
Nan Lewis—a creative writing professor at a university in upstate New York—is driving home from a faculty holiday party when she hits a deer. Yet when she gets out of her car to look for it, the deer is gone. Eager to get home before the oncoming snowstorm, Nan is forced to leave her car at the bottom of her snowy driveway to wait out the longest night of the year…

The next morning, Nan is woken up by a police officer at her door with terrible news—one of her students, Leia Dawson, was killed in a hit-and-run on River Road the night before, and because of the damage to her car, Nan is a suspect. In the days following the accident, Nan finds herself shunned by the same community that rallied around her when her own daughter was killed in an eerily similar accident six years prior. When Nan begins finding disturbing tokens that recall the her daughter’s death, Nan suspects that the two accidents are connected.

As she digs further, she discovers that everyone around her, including Leia, has been hiding secrets. But can she uncover them, clear her name, and figure out who really killed Leia before her life is destroyed for ever?

My Views:
It was a well told story but if like me, you like to be fed information so that you can work out who the killer is, you will be disappointed here. This author has always had a way of making the "bad guy" one you would least expect but not this time. You will know exactly... without a doubt by page 50. It seemed that Nan was the only person that didn't know. So...3 stars for a good story line but not much suspense.

Mar 29, 10:22pm Top

Someone Else's Love Story / Joshilyn Jackson
3.5 stars

Shandi was drugged and almost raped a few years ago and now has a little boy, Natty. William lost his wife and little girl in a car crash exactly one year before he and Shandi are in a convenience store that is held up by Stevie. William takes a bullet to protect Natty and Shandi is head over heels!

I listened to the audio and the narrator was the author. She did a fine job, though I wasn’t crazy about some of the male voices, which were a bit stilted (though that could also have reflected personalities). Some of the story was told looking back, and some continuing on from the hold up. I really didn’t like William, though, nor was I interested in his and/or Bridget’s story. I found Shandi’s story much more interesting (once it got going, after the hold up).

Mar 30, 6:08pm Top

Gast by Carol Swain
3.5/5 stars
In this graphic novel, a young girl moves into a farm community in Wales and begins to explore the area taking her notebook with her to document her discoveries. When she learns about a neighbor who has died, she goes to his farm and looks for clues about him and the life he lead which helps her to learn more about herself.

Tricky TwentyTwo by Janet Evanovich
3/5 stars
Stephanie, Grandma Mazur, Lulu, Ranger, and Joe are back for another nutty adventure involving a frat and the plague. Loved the first book in the series but after 22 it is starting to get a little old and sections of the book are just repetitive explanations of the characters. However, there is some movement in Stephanie and Joe's relationship in this book.

Mar 30, 8:51pm Top

To complete my March reads:

36. Secrets by Kristen Heitzmann; (2 1/2*); (The Michelli Family Series, 1 of 3); Kindle; Christian fiction; mystery; friendships; family;

I enjoyed this book for what it was, which is very light reading. It contains a bit of mystery, suspense, romance, the building of friendships, familial relationships, and angst. I thin that says it all.
It is the 1st of 3 books about a young man seeking out the legitimate inheritance of his family. Turns out that a young lady has purchased the property for use as a bed and breakfast and he must find a way into her home & heart in order to search the property for clues. It became a bit more interesting with the little old lady neighbor and the wanderlust friends of both the young man & the young lady.
It was okay, just nothing to write home about. I might read her again on another rainy bleak day when I don't want to think.

37. The Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell; (5*); hardcopy; mystery; (Kurt Wallander, 2; ROOT; Scandinavian crime fiction; police procedural;

This story is a dark & suspenseful mystery, like all of the other Wallander police procedurals. I have read 5 of them thus far & this remains my favorite of them all. I loved & creeped out to this novel.
The Dogs of Riga is not your run of the mill crime drama. This story takes in international crime & criminals involved in dangerous & deadly pursuits in which Inspector Kurt Wallander finds himself literally locked in the very mmidst. Though the story and related characters are very interesting, it seemed another, creative way to delve further into understanding Wallander himself. This is the second of the Wallander series & for me the basic combination of a meticulous, thorough, creative, & highly organized criminal investigator who is also an awkward, insecure, and sensitive man is what I find most compelling and what stays on my mind after finishing each of these novels.
This one I found to be the best of the lot so far but the entire series has enveloped me.

38. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon; (5*); BFB; love interests; time travel; alternative historical fiction; reread

Wouldn't most of us love a chance to go back in time and change something or be able to decide not to make a choice that we have lived to regret? In Diana Gabaldon's Outlander the heroine gets that second chance.
Claire Randall, our protagonist, is a combat nurse in the 1940s, reunited with her husband of 8 years. They are having a second honeymoon in Scotland when Claire is transported back in time through the stone circle to the 1700s by forces she does not understand.
1743 Scotland is torn by war and Claire has trouble believing what is happening to her. Then she is forced to marry the breathtakingly handsome and ethical (for the 1700s) Jamie Fraser. He introduces her to a love so absolute that it can withstand torture, war, and hate. But will these star crossed lovers be able to defy the laws of time?
Claire is a most wonderful heroine. It was lovely to see historical Scotland from a more modern point of view and from the past also as the subject matter has been well researched. When Claire's 'second chance' comes she grasps it with both hands and holds tight. It is fabulous to see that kind of strength in a heroine. And young Jamie is a nice change from the normal hero. In this novel he is the virgin and Claire is the one with experience and I was delighted that Jamie was a virgin on his wedding night.
The secondary characters of this novel are deftly woven throughout the story and some of them are downright loveable. Others are despicable. But they all add to the ebb and flow of the narrative.
Because Outlander is written in first person, this reader felt very connected to Claire. I laughed and wept right along with her. I was thrilled that this is part of a series. Readers of the book seem either to love or to hate it. I belong to the former. When I got to the end of the book I couldn't wait to read the next in the series.
I am looking forward to rereading the second in the series.

39. Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear; (4*); book 1 of 13; cosy, comfort read/mystery; Historical British Mystery;

This is the first in a series of thirteen. A nice little who-done-it that is just right for a rainy day, a day at the beach or when life is overwhelming which mine is at the time.
Maisie is just opening her own investigative firm and has taken on her first case which becomes something more.
I love these books and recommend them for times like the above or anytime one is looking for a light and fun read. I rated this one 4 out of 5 stars. It was very enjoyable & relaxing.

40. Birds of a Feather by Maisie Dobbs; (4*); Book 2 of 13; cosy read/light mystery; library

Another little Maisie Dobbs cosy mystery. I love these books. Comforting and relaxing.
Maisie is a private investigator who, in this particular instance, is searching for a missing person and comes across a multiple murder scenario which ties in with her missing person.
Just a nice little cozy read when that is what is needed.

41. Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce; (4 1/2*); Y/A or Children's lit; fantasy fiction; mystery; time travel; library

Tom Long is a young lad with a brother, Peter, who has come down with measles. So Tom must be sent away to prevent becoming ill with them himself. His parents send him off to his aunt & uncle who unlike Tom, who lives in a house with a garden, live in a flat and have no outdoor space other than for the garbage bins.
Tom feels very neglected and alone. His aunt & uncle have no children for him to play with & he cannot go outdoors so he leads a very isolated and lonely life until ........... one night he hears the grandfather clock in the hall below chiming the midnight hour but it doesn't stop there. It chimes thirteen times. The clock keeps excellent time but chimes any number of times upon any given hour. Tom goes downstairs to check out the clock. While down there he decides to look out the back door which no one uses and see what, if anything is really out there. As he opens the door he smells the wondrous smells of a garden and sees lovely flowering beds, towering trees, paths, shrubs, hedges and a green house among other things. He has found a magical garden. He continues to go back night after night while his aunt & uncle are sleeping. He sees people in the gardens but they never see him. He follows three boys and a girl throughout the gardens and soon learns his way about. He climbs the trees which was something he and Peter loved doing at home and they spent a great deal of time at it. One day he realizes that the girl is looking right at him and not through him as all of the others do. That is when he meets Hattie who becomes his friend.
Throughout Tom's ventures out into the garden many changes occur. The weather changes. Sometimes it is day, sometimes night, sometimes summer, sometimes winter. But whatever the weather or the season the garden is always mystical, magical and exciting for Tom.
This is a lovely tale and a story that, as one reads takes one back to happier bygone days when it was easy to believe in magical and wonderfully happy things.
I loved this little book and rated it 4 1/2 stars, highly recommending it to all children, young and old alike.

42. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys; (4 1/2*); hardcopy; IN ARIZONA & IN WASHINGTON; Jane Eyre (prequel, but not really); historical fiction; gothic; Brit lit; Caribbean; colonialism; English; feminist fiction; historical fiction; Jamaica; madness; mental illness; postcolonialism; West Indies;

I think that Jean Rhys did an excellent job of creating an interesting storyline as well as boggling our minds with the beauty of Colubri. Her images were so strong that I didn't have to try to imagine the characters or settings. I could see, smell & feel them.
This brilliant novel primarily deals with contradictions and ambiguity. Written as a prelude to Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, Jean Rhys creates an identity for the otherwise shadowy figure of Bertha Mason, Rochester's mad creole wife, through Antoinette a beautiful lonely Creole woman. Wide Sargasso Sea deals with contradictions and not just with feminist "rag issues" as other reviewers suggest, rather tending to deal with gender reversal. Christophine, the freed black slave from another Caribbean Island, is a strong female character who displays masculine traits standing up to the bullying unnamed Englishman (Rochester) who tries to use oppressive colonialist tactics to control the inhabitants of an exotic Island which cannot be controlled. Both are wild and unruly compared to his staid English persona and as such, something which he cannot relate to. Antoinette is the weak female figure who is finally destroyed by the Enlgishman, driven to madness through a combination of his desire for her and his distaste and hate for everything that she represents. An intriguing tale full of ambiguity Wide Sargasso Sea is a sad tale of dispossession and dislocation.
But please do not attempt to compare The Wide Sargasso Sea to Jane Eyre. To do that is to do yourself & Jean Rhys a great disservice.

43. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck; (5*); classics; hardcopy; IN WASHINGTON; friendship; Great Depression;

This novel is a classic for all time. A beautifully drawn story of two friends who tramp together from ranch to ranch working a month or so here and there. George makes the decisions for the two of them and takes care of himself and his buddy, Lennie. Lennie is slow minded and unable to make decisions and choices. In the literary world I doubt you will find a character who grabs your heart any tighter than Lennie. There is a purity and innocence about this giant of a man that could never be seen in a normal person.
Every single character in Of Mice and Men is complete and one is able to understand their actions whether good or bad because it makes sense that that particular character would do or say that.
This is an unforgettable novel and it is so beautiful that you won't want to forget it. It has moments of sweetness, moments of horror, moments of sadness so heartbreaking you can feel them.
In one of Steinbeck's journals he said: "Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and nearly always leads to love." How simple and yet how profound. This author was a giant among men and I think that no matter how many times you read him, he will never cease to increase your knowledge nor your desire for knowledge.

And with this last completed read of March, I have updated all of my challenges with the exception of my Elizabeth Goudge book of the month. I have begun The Little White Horse today so may be able to make it by the 1st.

Mar 31, 3:52pm Top

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry – Fredrik Backman
Audiobook performed by Joan Walker

From the book jacket: Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy – as in standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-men-who-want-to-talk-about-Jesus crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal. When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins.

My reactions
I was charmed by Elsa and her crazy grandmother, as well as by the cast of “not-quite-normal” characters who inhabit the apartment building Elsa calls home. As he did in A Man Called Ove, Backman gives the reader an eccentric central character, against whose craziness everyone else seems almost normal. There is plenty of action, some significant danger and distress, and enough humor to ease the tension.

If the scenario is not believable, well who cares. I wanted a happily-ever-after ending, and for the most part that what’s I got. It’s a fairy tale, after all.

Joan Walker does a fine job performing the audio book. She has a wide range of characters to voice and she is up to the task.

Mar 31, 3:52pm Top

Irish Girls About Town – Maeve Binchy, Marian Keyes, et al

This is a collection of short stories written by Irish female authors. While the stories vary considerably, they are all about love in its many disguises.

A few of the stories feature more mature women … sometimes living lonely lives until they find a way to open their hearts to possibilities … but most deal with younger women and the men they love, or hope to love, or love to hate. There are some very true-to-life girlfriend scenarios (including the “with friends like her, who needs enemies” scene), and some cringe-worthy “looking for love in all the wrong places” stories. And there are stories that renew one’s faith in love and reinforce belief that “love will find a way.”

On the whole, it’s an enjoyable anthology.

Mar 31, 3:52pm Top

Bookmarked For Death – Lorna Barrett
Book on CD performed by Cassandra Campbell

In book number two in the Booktown Mystery series Tricia Miles is celebrating Haven’t Got a Clue’s first anniversary. But the party is marred when a reclusive author is murdered in the bookshop's bathroom. Of course, she can't help but investigate.

This is a typical cozy mystery scenario, with an amateur sleuth who cannot keep out of the investigation. There’s a significant subplot involving Tricia’s sister Angelica and her inability to keep help at her Cookery shop.

The plot stretches credulity, but I like the many references to mystery authors sprinkled throughout. I certainly see why it’s become a popular series.

Cassadra Campbel does a fine job of narrating the audio version. She has good pacing, and is able to give each character a sufficiently unique voice so that there’s no confusion as to who is speaking.

Mar 31, 3:53pm Top

Four to Score – Janet Evanovich
Audiobook read by C J Critt

This is book four in the popular Stephanie Plum series. Stephanie’s still pretty inept at her job, her romance with Morelli is heating up, she’s responsible for a couple of cars blowing up, Grandma Mazur is as nuts as ever, Steph gets a new “partner” in a cross-dressing leader of a rock band, and she tangles with rival bounty hunter Joyce Barnhardt.

The earlier books in the series are very entertaining, but I lost interest after about book twelve. I re-read this one because it’s fast, enjoyable and fits a challenge.

C J Critt is barely passable reading the audio book. Her delivery is S L O W … with L O N G pauses at scene breaks. I also didn’t like the voices she used for most of the characters. This should be a fast, snappy delivery. I recommend reading the text instead of listening.

NOTE - I originally read this long before I had joined Shelfari, Goodreads or Library Thing, so I never had recorded it ... the first date read is a wild guess based on having listed book 11 in the series as read in 2006.


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