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Chatterbox Reads Omnivorously, and Fires Book Bullets Indiscriminately -- Part III

75 Books Challenge for 2017

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1Chatterbox
Apr 21, 2017, 11:42pm Top

The God Abandons Antony

C.P. Cavafy
1863-1933

When suddenly, at midnight, you hear
an invisible procession going by
with exquisite music, voices,
don’t mourn your luck that’s failing now,
work gone wrong, your plans
all proving deceptive—don’t mourn them uselessly.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
say goodbye to her, the Alexandria that is leaving.
Above all, don’t fool yourself, don’t say
it was a dream, your ears deceived you:
don’t degrade yourself with empty hopes like these.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
as is right for you who proved worthy of this kind of city,
go firmly to the window
and listen with deep emotion, but not
with the whining, the pleas of a coward;
listen—your final delectation—to the voices,
to the exquisite music of that strange procession,
and say goodbye to her, to the Alexandria you are losing.

2Chatterbox
Edited: Jul 30, 2017, 7:59pm Top

The preceding poem is by Constantine Cavafy, a rather obscure (alas) poet, who penned some wonderful, beautiful poetry. As the above should demonstrate! The previous thread includes comments on all the books that I read during the first quarter of the year (i.e. the first three months); in this one, I'll pick up with comments on books read from April 1 onwards, and begin the list below with books that I read in April. In the next post, below, you can see the list of books read from January through to March. I'm on track to meet my reading goal for the year of 401 books, amazingly, but there is still plenty of time to be knocked off kilter, as happened last year and the year before. I surpassed that goal in 2013 and 2014, but fell short in 2015 and 2016, both years in which I had bad personal stuff derail my reading. Last year my total hit a personal worst of only 347 books...

Since sometimes I can be very slow/sluggish in updating my reading and mini-reviews on this thread, if you want to see what I have been reading in real time, your best bet is to go to my library on LT, and look at the dedicated collection I've established there, under the label "Books Read in 2017. As I complete a book, I'll rate it and add it to the list. I'll also tag it, "Read in 2017". You'll be able to see it by either searching under that tag, or clicking on https://www.librarything.com/catalog/Chatterbox/booksreadin2017. There you can see what I have been reading most recently and how I've rated it, broadly, in star ratings, at least. I will eventually get around to commenting on everything here, I promise...

My TBR mountain is out of control, but my Lenten book fast -- I bought NO new books during the six weeks of Lent -- did help a bit. That said, I had placed some preorders that kicked in, and I didn't ban myself from requesting free books via NetGalley or Amazon Vine. Sigh. And I still have a giant stack of ARCs from ALA Midwinter -- both this year and last year.




My guide to my ratings:

1.5 or less: A tree gave its life so that this book could be printed and distributed?
1.5 to 2.7: Are you really prepared to give up hours of your life for this?? I wouldn't recommend doing so...
2.8 to 3.3: Do you need something to fill in some time waiting to see the dentist? Either reasonably good within a ho-hum genre (chick lit or thrillers), something that's OK to read when you've nothing else with you, or that you'll find adequate to pass the time and forget later on.
3.4 to 3.8: Want to know what a thumping good read is like, or a book that has a fascinating premise, but doesn't quite deliver? This is where you'll find 'em.
3.9 to 4.4: So, you want a hearty endorsement? These books have what it takes to make me happy I read them.
4.5 to 5: The books that I wish I hadn't read yet, so I could experience the joy of discovering them again for the first time. Sometimes disquieting, sometimes sentimental faves, sometimes dramatic -- they are a highly personal/subjective collection!

The books read this year (starting with April -- see the next post to see January-March)

The April list...

102. Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin (finished 4/1/17) 3.8 stars
103. Death in the Vines by M.L. Longworth (finished 4/2/17) 3.45 stars
104. Murder on the Ile Sordou by M.L. Longworth (finished 4/2/17) 3.4 stars
105. The Graduate by Charles Webb (finished 4/3/17) 2.25 stars
106. Mississippi Blood by Greg Iles (finished 4/4/17) 3.25 stars
107. The Water Museum by Luis Alberto Urrea (finished 4/6/17) 4.1 stars
108. Lenin on the Train by Catherine Merridale (finished 4/6/17) 4.15 stars
109. *The Rose Garden by Susanne Kearsley (finished 4/7/17) 3.7 stars
110. Testimony by Scott Turow (finished 4/7/17) 3.8 stars
111. The Mystery of the Lost Cézanne by M.L. Longworth (finished 4/8/17) 3.5 stars
112. Reading Turgenev by William Trevor (finished 4/9/17) 4.2 stars
113. Mozart's Starling by Lyanda Lynn Haupt (finished 4/10/17) 4.6 stars
114. Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue (finished 4/10/17) 4.4 stars
115. The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan (finished 4/11/17) 3.8 stars
116. The Agent Runner by Simon Conway (finished 4/12/17) 2.9 stars
117. Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare by Giles Milton (finished 4/13/17) 3.9 stars
118. The Devil and Webster by Jean Hanff Korelitz (finished 4/13/17) 4.3 stars
119. Prussian Blue by Phillip Kerr (finished 4/14/17) 4.3 stars
120. *The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer (finished 4/15/17) 3.9 stars
121. The Curse of La Fontaine by M.L. Longworth (finished 4/15/17) 3.7 stars
122. The Little Teashop of Lost and Found by Trisha Ashley (finished 4/16/17) 4.2 stars
123. A Very Expensive Poison: The Assassination of Alexander Litvinenko and Putin's War with the West by Luke Harding (finished 4/17/17) 4.35 stars
124. The Last Hack by Christopher Brookmyre (finished 4/17/17) 4.4 stars
125. Instrumental: A Memoir of Madness, Medication, and Music by James Rhodes (finished 4/18/17) 4.2 stars
126. Night and Day by Elizabeth Edmondson (finished 4/19/17) 3.65 stars
127. *A Lady of Quality by Georgette Heyer (finished 4/20/17) 3.9 stars
128. The Lady and the Unicorn by Rumer Godden (finished 4/20/17) 3.7 stars
129. The Alps: A Human History from Hannibal to Heidi and Beyond by Stephen O'Shea (finished 4/21/17) 4.1 stars
130. The Patriots by Sana Krasnikov (finished 4/21/17) 4.3 stars
131. New Boy by Tracey Chevalier (finished 4/22/17) 3.7 stars
132. The Corners of the Globe by Robert Goddard (finished 4/23/17) 3.9 stars
133. The Coffin Road by Peter May (finished 4/23/17) 4.2 stars
134. Secrets in Summer by Nancy Thayer (finished 4/24/17) 3.4 stars
135. There Your Heart Lies by Mary Gordon (finished 4/25/17) 4 stars
136. Darktown by Thomas Mullen (finished 4/26/17) 4.3 stars
137. *The Bone Yard by Paul Johnston (finished 4/26/17) 4 stars
138. The Verdict by Nick Stone (finished 4/28/17) 4.35 stars
139. *Faro's Daughter by Georgette Heyer (finished 4/29/17) 3.35 stars
140. *Water of Death by Paul Johnston (finished 4/30/17) 4 stars

The May list...

141. The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani (finished 5/1/17) 3.7 stars
142. Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood (finished 5/1/17) 5 stars
143. Magna Carta: The Birth of Liberty (finished 5/3/17) by Dan Jones 3.9 stars
144. *The Blood Tree by Paul Johnston (finished 5/4/17) 4.1 stars
145. The Book Thieves: The Nazi Looting of Europe's Libraries and the Race to Return a Literary Inheritance by Anders Rydell (finished 5/4/17) 3.7 stars
146. Lightning Men by Thomas Mullen (finished 5/5/17) 4.35 stars
147. The Windfall by Diksha Basu (finished 5/5/17) 3.8 stars
148. The Ends of the Earth by Robert Goddard (finished 5/6/17) 3.85 stars
149. Golden Hill by Francis Spufford (finished 5/6/17) 4.5 stars
150. The Radium Girls by Kate Moore (finished 5/7/17) 4.8 stars
151. Vienna Spies by Alex Gerlis (finished 5/7/17) 4.25 stars
152. Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar (finished 5/8/17) 4.4 stars
153. The Lost Book of the Grail by Charlie Lovett (finished 5/9/17) 4.1 stars
154. The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn (finished 5/9/17) 3.3 stars
155. My Glory Was I Had Such Friends by Amy Silverstein (finished 5/10/17) 4 stars
156. Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister (finished 5/11/17) 3.8 stars
157. *The Devil in the Junior League by Linda Francis Lee (finished 5/14/17) 3.3 stars
158. Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick (finished 5/14/17) 4.8 stars
159. Shadow Man by Alan Drew (finished 5/15/17) 3.5 stars
160. The Silent Dead by Tetsuya Honda (finished 5/15/17) 3.8 stars
161. A Lily of the Field by John Lawton (finished 5/18/17) 4.1 stars
162. Ratlines by Stuart Neville (finished 5/18/17) 4.2 stars
163. The Forever House by Veronica Henry (finished 5/19/17) 3.7 stars
164. Young Radicals: In the War for American Ideals by Jeremy McCarter (finished 5/20/17) 5 stars
165. A Talent for Murder by Andrew Wilson (finished 5/21/17) 3.85 stars
166. He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly (finished 5/22/17) 4.15 stars
167. *The Urge to Jump by Trisha Ashley (finished 5/23/17) 3.6 stars
168. My Life With Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues by Pamela Paul (finished 5/23/17) 3.9 stars
169. *Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald (finished 5/24/17) 5 stars
170. Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore (finished 5/24/17) 4.1 stars
171. A Secret Garden by Katie Fforde (finished 5/25/17) 3.5 stars
172. A Wicked Company: The Forgotten Radicalism of the European Enlightenment by Philipp Blom (finished 5/26/17) 4.6 stars
173. Among the Wicked by Linda Castillo (finished 5/26/17) 3.75 stars
174. Mendelssohn is On the Roof by Jiri Weil (finished 5/27/17) 4.3 stars
175. The Decision by Penny Vincenzi (finished 5/27/17) 3.6 stars
176. The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan (finished 5/28/17) 3.25 stars
177. The Alice Network by Kate Quinn (finished 5/28/17) 3.45 stars
178. Cold Earth by Ann Cleeves (finished 5/29/17) 4 stars
179. Friends and Traitors by John Lawton (finished 5/29/17) 4.3 stars
180. The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain (finished 5/30/17) 4.2 stars
181. A Distant View of Everything by Alexander McCall Smith (finished 5/31/17) 3.7 stars

The June list...

182. Where Dead Men Meet by Mark Mills (finished 6/1/17) 4 stars
183. Garden of Lamentations by Deborah Crombie (finished 6/2/17) 4 stars
184. *My Brother Michael by Mary Stewart (finished 6/3/17) 3.9 stars
185. Minds of Winter by Ed O'Loughlin (finished 6/3/17) 4.6 stars
186. Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition by Paul Watson (finished 6/3/17) 4.3 stars
187. Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe (finished 6/5/17) 3.85 stars
188. Clutch of Constables by Ngaio Marsh (finished 6/7/17) 4 stars
189. The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg (finished 6/8/17) 3.8 stars
190. The Prisoner of Guantanamo by Dan Fesperman (finished 6/8/17) 3.8 stars
191. The Vanishing Futurist by Charlotte Hobson (finished 6/9/17) 4.3 stars
192. Fools' River by Timothy Hallinan (finished 6/10/17) 4.3 stars
193. The House of Dust by Paul Johnston (finished 6/10/17) 4.15 stars
194. Down a Dark Road by Linda Castillo (finished 6/11/17) 3.75 stars
195. Beautiful Animals by Lawrence Osborne (finished 6/11/17) 4.35 stars
196. The Good People by Hannah Kent (finished 6/12/17) 4.5 stars
197. Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple (finished 6/12/17) 3.9 stars
198. The Wind Off the Small Isles by Mary Stewart (finished 6/12/17) 3.3 stars
199. The Wasting of Borneo: Dispatches from a Vanishing World by Alex Shoumatoff (finished 6/13/17) 3.7 stars
200. The Blue Noon by Robert Ryan (finished 6/13/17) 4 stars
201. A Necessary Evil by Abir Mukherjee (finished 6/16/17) 4.3 stars
202. No Echo by Anne Holt (finished 6/20/17) 2.9 stars (finished bec. I'm stubborn)
203. *The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye (finished 6/21/17) 3.85 stars
204. Heads or Hearts by Paul Johnston (finished 6/21/17) 3.9 stars
205. Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta (finished 6/21/17) 4 stars
206. The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish (finished 6/26/17) 4.65 stars
207. Keep Her Safe by Sophie Hannah (finished 6/27/17) 4.15 stars
208. Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-first Century by Jessica Bruder (finished 6/28/17) 4.8 stars
209. Love Like Blood by Mark Billingham (finished 6/29/17) 4.3 stars
210. The Bomb Maker by Thomas Perry (finished 6/30/17) 3.85 stars

The July list...

211. The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey (finished 7/1/17) 4.15 stars
212. Sycamore Row by John Grisham (finished 7/2/17) 3.85 stars
213. Punishment by Linden MacIntyre (finished 7/2/17) 4.3 stars
214. The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire and the Birth of an Obsession by Andrea Wulf (finished 7/4/17) 4.4 stars
215. Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz (finished 7/7/17) 4.5 stars
216. A Column of Fire by Ken Follett (finished 7/7/17) 3.2 stars
217. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (finished 7/8/17) 5 stars
218. *Avenger by Frederick Forsyth (finished 7/9/17) 4 stars
219. *The Fourth Protocol by Frederick Forsyth (finished 7/10/17) 3.85 stars
220. House of Spies by Daniel Silva (finished 7/12/17) 3.5 stars
221. Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom by Thomas Ricks (finished 7/14/17) 4.1 stars
222. The Kill by Jane Casey (finished 7/14/17) 4.15 stars
223. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (finished 7/15/17) 4 stars
224. After the Fire by Jane Casey (finished 7/16/17) 4.2 stars
225. Let the Dead Speak by Jane Casey (finished 7/17/17) 4.3 stars
226. Invictus by Ryan Graudin (finished 7/18/17) 3.3 stars
227. *The King's General by Daphne du Maurier (finished 7/19/17) 4.3 stars
228. The Lost Art of Letter Writing by Menna van Praag (finished 7/20/17) 3.6 stars
229. The Imperial Wife by Irina Reyn (finished 7/20/17) 3.85 stars
230. Manderley Forever: A Biography of Daphne du Maurier by Tatiana de Rosnay (finished 7/22/17) 3.8 stars
231. Sunday Morning Coming Down by Nicci French (finished 7/22/17) 4.3 stars
232. Akenaten: Dweller in Truth by Naguib Mahfouz (finished 7/23/17) 3.9 stars
233. Dark Water by Parker Bilal (finished 7/23/17) 4.15 stars
234. The Accusation: Forbidden Stories From Inside North Korea by Bandi (finished 7/24/17) 4.2 stars
235. The Third Nero by Lindsey Davis (finished 7/25/17) 3.85 stars
236. *Nefertiti by Michelle Moran (finished 7/25/17) 3.9 stars
237. His Whole Life by Elizabeth Hay (finished 7/26/17) 4.2 stars
238. The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen by Hendrik Groen (pseudonym) (finished 7/26/17) 4 stars
239. The Girl From Venice by Martin Cruz Smith (finished 7/27/17) 3.45 stars
240. Basket of Deplorables by Tom Rachman (audiobook only) (finished 7/27/17) 3.9 stars
241. *The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran (finished 7/28/17) 4 stars
242. See What I have Done by Sarah Schmidt (finished 7/28/17) 3.7 stars
243. The Saboteur by Andrew Gross (finished 7/29/17) 3.5 stars
244. Crimes of the Father by Thomas Keneally (finished 7/30/17) 4 stars

* Re-reads

3Chatterbox
Edited: Jul 30, 2017, 8:08pm Top

The January list...

1. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (finished 1/2/17) 4.2 stars
2. Bleaker House by Nell Stevens (finished 1/3/17) 4.1 stars
3. City of Secrets by Stewart O'Nan (finished 1/3/17) 3.85 stars
4. Consequences by Penelope Lively (finished 1/5/17) 4.15 stars
5. Fatal by John Lescroart (finished 1/5/17) 2.8 stars
6. The Angry Tide by Winston Graham, (finished 1/6/17) 4.3 stars
7. Heartbreak Hotel by Jonathan Kellerman (finished 1/8/17) 3.8 stars
8. The Futures by Anna Pitoniak (finished 1/9/17) 3.7 stars
9. The Honeymoon by Dinitia Smith (finished 1/11/17) 4.2 stars
10. Russian Roulette: How British Spies Thwarted Lenin's Plot for Global Revolution by Giles Milton (finished 1/11/17) 4.15 stars
11. The Stranger From the Sea by Winston Graham (finished 1/12/17) 4.1 stars
12. Jonathan Swift by Leo Damrosch (finished 1/13/17) 4.4 stars
13. The Miller's Dance by Winston Graham (finished 1/14/17) 4 stars
14. The Loving Cup by Winston Graham (finished 1/15/17) 4 stars
15. The Long Room by Francesca Kay (finished 1/16/17) 4.2 stars
16. Generation Revolution: On the Front Line Between Tradition and Change in the Middle East by Rachel Aspden (finished 1/16/17) 4.35 stars
17. Buried in the Country by Carola Dunn (finished 1/16/17) 3.35 stars
18. A Prisoner in Malta by Phillip dePoy (finished 1/17/17) 2.9 stars
19. The Girl in the Glass Tower by Elizabeth Fremantle (finished 1/19/17) 4.5 stars
20. Latest Readings by Clive James (finished 1/20/17), 4.8 stars
21. The Twisted Sword by Winston Graham (finished 1/21/17) 3.9 stars
22. The Bertie Project by Alexander McCall Smith (finished 1/23/17) 3.35 stars
23. Bella Poldark by Winston Graham (finished 1/25/17) 3.8 stars
24. East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity by Philippe Sands (finished 1/26/17) 5 stars
25. The Empty House by Michael Gilbert (finished 1/27/17) 3.1 stars
26. Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty (finished 1/29/17) 4.3 stars
27. Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies by Ross King (finished 1/30/17), 5 stars
28. Death on Delos by Gary Corby (finished 1/31/17) 3.5 stars

The February list....

29. Human Acts by Han Kang (finished 2/2/17) 4.2 stars
30. A Want of Kindness by Joanne Limburg (finished 2/3/17) 2.9 stars
31. The Woman in Blue by Elly Griffiths (finished 2/4/17) 3.85 stars
32. Small Admissions by Ivy Poeppel (finished 2/5/17) 3.5 stars
33. The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins by Antonia Hawkins (finished 2/6/17) 4.4 stars
34. American War by Omar El Akkad (finished 2/6/17) 4.6 stars
35. Police at the Station and They Don't Look Friendly by Adrian McKinty (finished 2/8/17) 4.4 stars
36. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (finished 2/8/17) 5 stars
37. The Architect's Apprentice by Elif Shafak (finished 2/9/17) 4.15 stars
38. Death in Bordeaux by Allan Massie (finished 2/10/17) 4 stars
39. Bartleby and Benito Cereno by Herman Melville (finished 2/10/17) 4.35 stars
40. *Dark Summer in Bordeaux by Allan Massie (finished 2/11/17) 4.15 stars
41. Cold Winter in Bordeaux by Allan Massie (finished 2/12/17) 4.2 stars
42. End Games in Bordeaux by Allan Massie (finished 2/12/17) 4 stars
43. The One-Cent Magenta: Inside the Quest to Own the Most Valuable Stamp in the World by James Barron (finished 2/14/17) 4.1 stars
44. The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths (finished 2/14/17) 3.9 stars
45. The Woman on the Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford (finished 2/15/17) 3.3 stars
46. Animal Farm by George Orwell (finished 2/15/17) 4.1 stars
47. Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny (finished 2/16/17) 4.4 stars
48. Metamorphosis and In the Penal Colony by Franz Kafka (finished 2/17/17) 4.15 stars
49. I Was Told to Come Alone: My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad by Souad Mekhennet (finished 2/18/17) 4.5 stars
50. The Marches: A Borderland Journey between England and Scotland by Rory Stewart (finished 2/19/17) 4 stars
51. In the Name of the Family by Sarah Dunant (finished 2/20/17) 4.15 stars
52. The Unsettlers: In Search of the Good Life in Today's America by Mark Sundeen (finished 2/21/17) 4.45 stars
53. Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner (finished 2/22/17) 3.75 stars
54. Meet Me At Beachcomber Bay by Jill Mansell (finished 2/22/17) 3.4 stars
55. The Drowning King by Emily Holleman (finished 2/22/17) 4 stars
56. *Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee (finished 2/24/17) 5 stars
57. In This Grave Hour by Jacqueline Winspear (finished 2/26/17) 3.85 stars
58. The Bone Tree by Greg Iles (finished 2/27/17) 3.4 stars
59. A House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi (finished 2/28/17) 3.25 stars
60. Nightwood by Djuna Barnes (finished 2/28/17) 3.2 stars

I can't add March's list here without it messing up all the touchstones...

4Chatterbox
Edited: Jul 30, 2017, 8:00pm Top

The March list...

(which doesn't fit without making all the touchstones go wonky, for some reason...)

61. The Sellout by Paul Beatty (finished 3/2/17) 4.3 stars
62. Conviction by Julia Dahl (finished 3/2/17) 3.85 stars
63. Defectors by Joseph Kanon (finished 3/3/17) 4.3 stars
64. The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood (finished 3/4/17) 3.7 stars
65. Gone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung by Min Kym (finished 3/4/17) 4 stars
66. The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood (finished 3/5/17) 4.1 stars
67. Who You Think I Am by Camille Laurens (finished 3/5/17) 3.65 stars
68. Death on Blackheath by Anne Perry (finished 3/6/17) 3.5 stars
69. Often I Am Happy by Jens Christian Grøhndahl (finished 3/7/17) 4 stars
70. The Strange Case of Rachel K. by Rachel Kushner (finished 3/7/17) 3.65 stars
71. Lenin's Roller Coaster by David Downing (finished 3/8/17) 3.45 stars
72. How to Kill a City: Gentrification, Inequality and the Fight for the Neighborhood by Peter Moskowitz (finished 3/9/17) 5 stars
73. All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg (finished 3/10/17) 4.4 stars
74. A Single Spy by William Christie (finished 3/11/17) 3.7 stars
75. The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel (finished 3/11/17) 4.6 stars
76. The Angel Court Affair by Anne Perry (finished 3/12/17) 2.9 stars
77. The Great Detective: The Amazing Rise and Immortal Life of Sherlock Holmes by Zach Dundas (finished 3/13/17) 4 stars
78. City of Friends by Joanna Trollope (finished 3/14/17) 3.85 stars
79. The Fortunate Ones by Ellen Umansky (finished 3/15/17) 3.5 stars
80. Death at the Chateau Bremont by M.L. Longworth (finished 3/16/17) 3.4 stars
81. Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild (finished 3/17/17) 4.15 stars
82. If I Could Tell You by Elizabeth Wilhide (finished 3/17/17) 2.7 stars
83. *The Danger Tree by Olivia Manning (finished 3/18/17) (The Levant Trilogy, Part I) 4.35 stars
84. Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney (finished 3/19/17) 4.4 stars
85. Barney: Grove Press and Barney Rosset, America’s Maverick Publisher and His Battle against Censorship by Michael Rosenthal (finished 3/20/17) 4.15 stars
86. Murder in the Rue Dumas by M.L. Longworth (finished 3/20/17) finished 3/20/17
87. *The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey (finished 3/21/17) 4.75 stars
88. Treachery at Lancaster Gate by Anne Perry (finished 3/22/17) 3.4 stars
89. Notes From the Internet Apocalypse by Wayne Gladstone (finished 3/22/17) 3.8 stars
90. The Hollywood Daughter by Kate Alcott (finished 3/24/17) 3.4 stars
91. The Summons by Peter Lovesey (finished 3/24/17) 3.7 stars
92. Cotillion by Georgette Heyer (finished 3/25/17) 3.4 stars
93. *The Battle Lost and Won by Olivia Manning (finished 3/25/17) (The Levant Trilogy) 4.3 stars
94. *Venetia by Georgette Heyer (finished 3/26/17) 4 stars
95. *The Sum of Things by Olivia Manning (finished 3/26/17) (The Levant Trilogy) 4.1 stars
96. The Golden Legend by Nadeem Aslam (finished 3/27/17) 4.65 stars
97. The Pen and the Brush: How Passion for Art Shaped Nineteenth-Century French Novels by Anka Muhlstein (finished 3/28/17) 4.3 stars
98. Anne Boleyn, A King's Obsession by Alison Weir (finished 3/28/17) 4.35 stars
99. The Night Bell by Inger Ash Wolfe (finished 3/29/17), 4.25 stars
100. Stoner by John Williams (finished 3/30/17) 4.3 stars
101. Black Widow by Christopher Brookmyre (finished 3/30/17) 4.5 stars

5Chatterbox
Edited: Jul 30, 2017, 8:13pm Top

While I want to read serendipitously, I also have some reading goals. I did a truly appalling job at meeting those that I set for myself last year, so this is my other New Year's reading resolution: to do better at reading the books that I know I want to complete. They only add up to about a quarter of my total estimated reading, so it shouldn't be too much of a hardship...

Reading Series Books

The Poldark Series by Winston Graham (the remainder of these)

The Angry Tide read
The Stranger From the Sea read
The Miller’s Dance read
The Loving Cup read
The Twisted Sword read
Bella Poldark read

The Bordeaux quartet by Allan Massie

Death in Bordeaux read
Dark Summer in Bordeaux read
Cold Winter in Bordeaux read
End Games in Bordeaux read

The Elena Ferrante quartet

My Brilliant Friend
The Story of a New Name
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay
The Story of the Lost Child

The Cornish trilogy by Robertson Davies

The Rebel Angels
What’s Bred in the Bone
The Lyre of Orpheus

The Levant trilogy by Olivia Manning

The Danger Tree read
The Battle Lost and Won read
The Sum of Things read

The Quintilian Dalrymple series by Paul Johnston (remainder)

The Bone Yard read
Water of Death read
The Blood Tree read
The House of Dust read
Heads or Hearts read
Skeleton Blues

The Teetering Tower of ARCs (Advance Review Copies

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith
City of Secrets by Stewart O’Nan read
The Honeymoon by Dinitia Smith read
City of Thorns by Ben Rawlence
At the Existentialist Café by Sarah Bakewell
Country of Red Azaleas by Dominica Radulescu
Three-Martini Lunch by Suzanne Rindell
Mercury by Margot Livesey
The Terranauts by T.C. Boyle
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks
House of Thieves by Charles Belfoure
The Patriots by Sara Krasikov read
Among the Living by Jonathan Rabb
A Country Road, A Tree by Jo Baker
The Fall of Princes by Robert Goolrick

Authors New to Me -- and Recommendations

The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter by John Pipkin
The Fortunes by Peter Ho Davies
The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson
The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan
Serious Sweet by A.L. Kennedy
The Year of the French by Thomas Flanagan
The Guineveres by Sarah Domet
The Mandibles by Lionel Shriver
Did You Ever Have a Family? by Bill Clegg
Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto
The Allegations by Mark Lawson
Stoner by John Williams read

Canadian Content

The Parcel by Anosh Irani
Stranger by David Bergen
Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood read
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
The Piano Maker by Kurt Palka
The Night Bell by Inger Ash Wolfe read
Us Conductors by Sean Michaels
His Whole Life by Elizabeth Hay read
Punishment by Linden Macintyre read

6Chatterbox
Edited: Aug 1, 2017, 6:36am Top

Reading Challenge Part II

Why Haven't I Read This Yet??

No Great Mischief by Alistair Macleod
The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Animal Farm by George Orwell read
Lolita by Nabokov
The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Europa Editions

The Golden Age by Joan London
Baba Dunja’s Last Love by Alina Bronsky
The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami read
Fire Flowers by Ben Byrne
Revolution Baby by Joanna Gruda
The Invisible Mile by Peter Coventry
Check Point by Jean-Claude Rufin
Endgame by Ahmet Altan

A Voyage Around the World

Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe (Nigeria) read
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue (Cameroon/US) read
Human Acts by Han Kang (South Korea) read
Judas by Amos Oz (Israel)
The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck (Germany)
Sergio Y. by Alexandre Vidal Porto (Brazil)
Crimes of the Father by Thomas Keneally (Australia) read
The Chosen Ones by Steve Sem-Sandberg (Sweden)
Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila (Congo)
Mendelssohn is On the Roof by Jiri Weil (Czech Republic) read
2084 by Boualem Sansal (Algeria/Germany)
An Englishman in Madrid by Eduardo Mendoza (Spain)
The Golden Legend by Nadeem Aslam (Pakistan/UK) read
The Dream of the Celt by Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru)
The Traitor's Niche by Ismail Kadare (Albania)
The Architect's Apprentice by Elif Shafak (Turkey) read
They Were Counted by Miklos Banffy (Hungary)
The Accusation: Forbidden Stories From Inside North Korea by Bandi (North Korea) read
The Four Books by Yan Lianke (China)
The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien (Ireland)
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Vietnam/USA)
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Ghana/USA) read
Sleeping on Jupiter by Anuradha Roy (India)
Who You Think I Am by Camille Laurens (France) read
The Dove's Necklace by Raja Alem (Saudi Arabia)
Akhenaten: Dweller in Truth by Naguib Mahfouz (Egypt) read
The Bones of Grace by Tahmima Anam (Bangladesh)

7Chatterbox
Edited: Jul 30, 2017, 8:17pm Top

Reading Challenge Part III

NetGalley Tower of Shame

The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova
The Lauras by Sara Taylor
Boat Rocker by Ha Jin
The English Agent by Phillip DePoy
The Futures by Anna Pitoniak read
Orphans of the Carnival by Carol Birch
The Hollywood Daughter by Kate Alcott read
The Whole Art of Detection by Lyndsay Faye
Surrender, New York by Caleb Carr
The Private Life of Mrs. Sharma by Ratika Kapur
The Girl from Venice by Martin Cruz Smith read
Black Widow by Christopher Brookmyre read
The Last One by Alexandra Oliva
The Imperial Wife by Irina Reyn read
I am No One by Patrick Flannery
Darktown by Thomas Mullen read
The Letter Writer by Dan Fesperman

Non-Fiction Challenge

Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway’s Masterpiece The Sun Also Rises by Lesley Blume
Spain in Our Hearts by Adam Hochschild
The Immortal Irishman: the Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero by Timothy Egan
Tom Paine by John Keane
We Were Feminists Once by Andi Zeisler
All Strangers are Kin by Zora O’Neill
Charlotte Bronte: A Fiery Heart by Claire Harman
The Porcelain Thief: Searching the Middle Kingdom for Buried China by Huan Hsu
Magna Carta: The Birth of Liberty by Dan Jones read
Deep South by Paul Theroux
Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman
Mercies in Disguise by Gina Kolata
Strangers Drowning: Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices and the Urge to Help by Larissa MacFarquhar
Game of Queens: The women who made sixteenth-century Europe by Sarah Gristwood
The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao by Ian Johnson
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
The Radium Girls by Kate Moore read
The Trials of the King of Hampshire by Elizabeth Foyster
Bring Back the King: The New Science of De-Extinction by Helen Pilcher
Instrumental: A Memoir of Madness, Medication and Music by James Rhodes read
Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge
Beethoven for a Later Age: Living With the String Quartets by Edward Dusinberre
The Pigeon Tunnel by John Le Carre
Thieves of State by Sarah Chayes
Dark Money by Jane Mayer
The Invention of Russia by Arkady Ostrovsky
Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neill
The House by the Lake by Thomas Harding
Valiant Ambition by Nathaniel Philbrick read
A Kim Jong-Il Production by Paul Fischer
In These Times: Living in Britain Through Napoleon’s Wars by Jenny Uglow
Once Upon a Time in Russia by Ben Mezrich
The French Intifada by Andrew Hussey
Hotel Florida: Truth Love and Death in the Spanish Civil War by Amanda Vaill
How to Ruin a Queen by Jonathan Beckman
Scott-Land: The Man Who Invented a Nation by Stuart Kelly
Russian Roulette by Giles Milton read
Travels With a Tangerine by Tim Mackintosh-Smith
Under Another Sky: Journeys in Roman Britain by Charlotte Higgins
The Emperor Far Away by David Eimer
The Broken Road by Patrick Leigh Fermor
Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms by Gerard Russell

8Chatterbox
Edited: Jun 12, 2017, 2:48am Top

I'm going to undertake two "mini-challenges" this spring/early summer, reading the books nominated for the Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction, and my own selection of books from the longlist for the Man Booker International prize (not the official shortlist.) From the latter, I have already read War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans, and loved it; from the seven books shortlisted for the former, I've read Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift, which was one of my favorite books last year.

So, here are the lists:

The Walter Scott Prize Shortlist Prize to be announced June 17th.

(books that remain unread...)

A Country Road, A Tree by Jo Baker

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry

The Vanishing Futurist by Charlotte Hobson read

Golden Hill by Francis Spufford read

The Good People by Hannah Kent read

The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain read

The Man Booker International Prize -- Chatterbox Custom Shortlist... Prize to be announced June 14

Compass by Matthias Enard (on actual shortlist)

Fish Have No Feet by Jon Kalman Stefansson

Judas by Amos Oz (on actual shortlist)

A Horse Walks Into a Bar by David Grossman (on actual shortlist)

The Traitor's Niche by Ismail Kadare

The Explosion Chronicles by Yan Lianke

9Chatterbox
Edited: Jul 30, 2017, 8:21pm Top

And more...

Books Purchased or Otherwise Permanently Acquired in 2017
Part I

1. Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat (Kindle Sale, $), 1/1/17
2. The Children by David Halberstam (Kindle Sale, $) 1/2/17
3. Amberwell by D.E. Stevenson (Kindle Sale, $) 1/3/17
4. The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley (NetGalley) 1/3/17
5. The Exile: The Stunning Inside Story of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda in Flight by Cathy Scott-Clark & Adrian Levy (NetGalley) 1/3/17
6. Grief Cottage by Gail Godwin (NetGalley) 1/3/17
7. All the Lives I Want by Alana Massey (NetGalley) 1/3/17
8. The Lost Woman by Sara Blaedel (NetGalley) 1/3/17
9. Down City: A Daughter's Story of Love, Memory and Murder by Leah Carroll (NetGalley) 1/3/17
10. The Red Web: The Struggle Between Russia's Digital Dictators and the New Online Revolutionaries by Andrei Soldatov and Irinia Borogan (Kindle Sale, $) 1/4/17
11. The Girl in the Glass Tower by Elizabeth Fremantle (Audiobook, $$) 1/4/17 read
12. The Naming of the Dead by Ian Rankin (UK Kindle, Kindle Sale, $) 1/5/17
13. Fleshmarket Close by Ian Rankin (Kindle Sale, $), 1/6/17
14. A Talent for Murder by Andrew Wilson (NetGalley), 1/6/17 read
15. Trajectory: Stories by Richard Russo (e-galley from publisher) 1/6/17
16. There Your Heart Lies by Mary Gordon (e-galley from publisher) 1/6/17 read
17. Chemistry by Weike Wang (e-galley from publisher) 1/6/17
18. Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny (e-galley from publisher) 1/6/17 read
19. Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst (Kindle Sale, $) 1/7/17
20. Sex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti (Kindle Sale, $) 1/7/17
21. As Good As Gone by Larry Watson (Kindle Sale, $) 1/7/17
22. Prussian Blue by Phillip Kerr (NetGalley) 1/7/17 read
23. The Fall Guy by James Lasdun (Kindle, $$) 1/8/17
24. The Miller's Dance by Winston Graham (Kindle, $$) 1/8/17 read
25. Bed-Stuy is Burning by Brian Platzer (NetGalley) 1/8/17
26. Icy Clutches by Aaron Elkins (Kindle Sale, $) 1/9/17
27. Curses! by Aaron Elkins (Kindle Sale, $) 1/9/17
28. Twenty Blue Devils by Aaron Elkins (Kindle Sale, $) 1/9/17
29. Skeleton Dance by Aaron Elkins (Kindle Sale, $) 1/9/17
30. Fellowship of Fear by Aaron Elkins (Kindle Sale, $) 1/9/17
31. Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker (NetGalley) 1/9/17
32. Small Hours by Jennifer Kitses (NetGalley) 1/9/17
33. A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn (Kindle, $$) 1/10/17
34. Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig (NetGalley) 1/10/17
35. The Unbanking of America by Lisa Servon (Kindle, $$) 1/10/17
36. Bad Blood in Meantime by Murray Davies (UK Kindle, Kindle Sale, $) 1/10/17
37. The Believer by Joakim Zander (Amazon Vine ARC) 1/11/17
38. Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast by Megan Marshall (Amazon Vine ARC) 1/11/17
39. On Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman (Amazon Vine ARC) 1/11/17
40. If I Could Tell You by Elizabeth Wilhide (Amazon Vine ARC) 1/11/17 read
41. The Dry by Jane Harper (Kindle, $$) 1/11/17
42. We Do Our Part: Toward a Fairer and More Equal America by Charles Peters (NetGalley) 1/11/17
43. Signals: New and Selected Stories by Tim Gautreaux (e-galley from publisher), 1/14/17
44. The Miller's Dance by Winston Graham (Kindle, $$) 1/16/17 read
45. The Loving Cup by Winston Graham (Kindle, $$) 1/16/17 read
46. The Twisted Sword by Winston Graham (Kindle, $$) 1/16/17 read
47. Bella Poldark by Winston Graham (Kindle, $$) 1/16/17 read
48. Shield of Three Lions by Pamela Kaufman (Kindle, $) 1/16/17
49. Latest Readings by Clive James (paperback, $$) 1/17/17 read
50. Shelter in Place by Alexander Maksik (paperback, $$) 1/17/17
51. Othello by William Shakespeare (paperback, $$) 1/17/17
52. The Bertie Project by Alexander McCall Smith (NetGalley) 1/20/17 read
From here to end of page, all are ARCs from ALA Midwinter in Atlanta, at no cost to me, Jan 20-22
53. The One-Cent Magenta: Inside the Quest to Own the Most Valuable Stamp in the World by James Barron read
54. In the Name of the Family by Sarah Dunant read
55. Four Princes: Henry VIII, Francis I, Charles V, Suleiman the Magnificent and the Obsessions that Forged Modern Europe by John Julius Norwich
56. The Long Drop by Denise Mina
57. How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life by Massimo Pigliucci
58. I See You by Clare Mackintosh
59. Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
60. Be Like the Fox: Machiavelli In His World by Erica Benner
61. The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen
62. Silver and Salt by Elanor Dymott
63. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid read
64. The Fortunate Ones by Ellen Umansky read
65. Death on Delos by Gary Corby read
66. The Leavers by Lisa Ko
67. Death on Nantucket by Francine Mathews
68. Europe's Last Chance: Why the European States Must Form a More Perfect Union by Guy Verhoefstadt
69. The Trophy Child by Paula Daly
70. Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future by Martin Ford
71. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan
72. When the English Fall by David Williams
73. NK3: A Novel by Michael Tolkin
74. The Dime by Kathleen Kent
75. Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty

10Chatterbox
Edited: Jul 30, 2017, 8:22pm Top

Books Purchased or Otherwise Permanently Acquired in 2017
Part II

Until further notice, all books below were ARCs acquired (free) at ALA Midwinter in Atlanta, January 20-22, 2017

76. A Twist in Time by Julia McElwain
77. The Last Hack by Christopher Brookmyre Read
78. Agent M: The Lives and Spies of MI5's Maxwell Knight by Henry Hemming
79. The Unruly City: Paris, London and New York in the Age of Revolution by Mike Rapport
80. The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
81. The Little French Bistro by Nina George
82. Stranger in a Strange Land: Searching for Gershom Scholem and Jerusalem by George Prochnik
83. Mozart's Starling by Lyanda Lynn Haupt Read
84. The Wanderers by Meg Howrey
85. Lenin's Roller Coaster by David Downing Read
86. Music of the Ghosts by Vaddey Ratner
87. A Colony in a Nation by Chris Hayes
88. The Child by Fiona Barton
89. 4 3 2 1: A Novel by Paul Auster
90. The Girl in Green by Derek B. Miller
91. The Trump Survival Guide by Gene Stone
92. The Alice Network by Kate Quinn Read
93. The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O'Neill
94. Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney Read
95. The Marches: A Borderland Journey between England and Scotland by Rory Stewart Read
96. Feast of Sorrow by Crystal King
97. The Young Widower's Handbook by Tom McAllister
98. The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak
99. Miss You by Kate Eberlen
100. Fateful Mornings by Tom Bouman
101. Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane
102. The Other Widow by Susan Crawford
103. The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel Read
104. Final Demand by Deborah Moggach
105. The Cutaway by Christina Kovac
106. The Marsh King's Daughter by Karen Dionne
107. The Jane Austen Project by Karen Flynn Read
108. Identity Unknown: Rediscovering Seven American Women Artists by Donna Seaman
109. The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker
110. City of Dreams: The 400-Year Epic History of Immigrant New York by Tyler Anbinder
111. The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown
112. My Last Lament by James William Brown
113. The Moth Presents All These Wonders: True Stories About Facing the Unknown
114. The Book of Polly by Kathy Hepinstall
115. What My Body Remembers by Agnete Friis
116. New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson
117. Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari
118. No One is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts
119. The Birdwatcher by William Shaw
120. Kingdom of Olives and Ash: Writers Confront the Occupation (edited Michael Chabon)
121. Double Bind: Women on Ambition by Robin Romm
122. The Secrets You Keep by Kate White
123. The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve
124. The Lost Letter by Jillian Cantor
125. Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams
126. The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon
127. Our Little Racket by Angelica Baker
128. The Space Between the Stars by Anne Corlett
129. Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy
130. Party Girls Die in Pearls by Plum Sykes
131. The Dinner Party by Joshua Ferris
132. Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
133. UNSUB: A Novel by Meg Gardiner
134. Bad Seeds by Jassy Mackenzie
135. Touch by Courtney Maum
136. Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes
137. The Idiot by Elif Batuman
138. The Widow's House by Carol Goodman
139. Devastation Road by Jason Hewitt
140. Easternization: Asia's Rise and America's Decline From Obama to Trump and Beyond by Gideon Rachman
141. Dead Man Switch by Matthew Quirk
142. Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan
143. Mad Country by Samrat Upadhyay
144. Bad Dreams and Other Stories by Tessa Hadley
145. Most Dangerous Place by James Grippando
146. Inheritance From Mother by Minae Mizumura
147. Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Ernest Hemingway's Secret Adventures, 1935-1961 by Nicholas Reynolds
148. Mississippi Blood by Greg Iles Read
149. Caesar's Last Breath: Decoding the Secrets of the Air Around Us by Sam Kean
150. Shining City by Tom Rosenstiel
151. Last Hope Island: Britain, Occupied Europe, and the Brotherhood That Helped Turn the Tide of War by Lynne Olson
152. The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths Read
End of list of ARCs from ALA Midwinter

11Chatterbox
Edited: Jun 2, 2017, 5:08pm Top

Books Purchased or Permanently Acquired in 2017
Part III

153. The Best American Short Stories 2016 (Kindle Sale, $) 1/24/17
154. The Best American Mystery Stories 2016 (Kindle Sale, $) 1/24/17
155. The Best American Essays 2016 (Kindle Sale, $) 1/24/17
156. The Best American Travel Writing 2016 (Kindle Sale, $) 1/24/17
157. The Best American Non-Required Reading 2016 (Kindle Sale, $) 1/24/17
158. The Book Thieves: The Nazi Looting of Europe's Libraries and the Race to Return a Literary Inheritance by Anders Rydell (NetGalley) 1/24/17 read
159. The Devil and Webster by Jean Hanff Korelitz (NetGalley) 1/24/17 read
160. The Wicked City by Beatriz Williams (Kindle, $$) 1/26/17
161. Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld (Audiobook, 2 for 1 deal, $) 1/26/17
162. The Last Days of Cafe Leila by Donia Bijan (NetGalley) 1/26/17
163. Citadel by Kate Mosse (Kindle Sale, $) 1/27/17)
164. Strange Stones: Dispatches from East and West by Peter Hessler (Kindle Sale, $) 1/27/17
165. Every Dead Thing: Dark Hollow by John Connolly (NetGalley) 1/27/17
166. Age of Anger: A History of the Present by Pankaj Mishra (Kindle, $$) 1/27/17
167. Friday, the Rabbi Slept Late by Harry Kemelman (Kindle Sale, $) 1/30/17
168. Beartown by Fredrik Backman (NetGalley) 1/30/17
169. Exit Music by Ian Rankin (Kindle Sale, $) 2/1/17
170. The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla (Kindle Sale, $) 2/1/17
171. The Rivals of Versailles by Sally Christie (Kindle Sale, $) 2/1/17
172. Fool's Gold by Caro Peacock (NetGalley) 2/1/17
173. Built on Bones: 15,000 Years of Urban Life and Death by Brenna Hassett (NetGalley) 2/1/17
174. Even Dogs in the Wild by Ian Rankin (Kindle Sale, $) 2/1/17
175. We'll Meet Again by Philippa Carr (Kindle Sale, $) 2/1/17
176. In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen (Kindle Freebie) 2/1/17
177. House of Names by Colm Toibin (NetGalley) 2/1/17
178. The Ambulance Drivers: Hemingway, Dos Passos, and a Friendship Made and Lost in War by James McGrath Morris (NetGalley) 2/2/17
179. The Novels of Alexander the Great: Fire from Heaven, The Persian Boy, and Funeral Games by Mary Renault (Kindle sale, $) 2/2/17
180. My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues by Pamela Paul (NetGalley/ARC) 2/2/17 read
181. Barney: Grove Press and Barney Rosset, America’s Maverick Publisher and His Battle against Censorship by Michael Rosenthal (Amazon Vine ARC) 2/4/17 read
182. The Watcher by Ross Armstrong (Amazon Vine ARC) 2/4/17
183. Bleeding in Black and White by Colin Cotterill (Kindle, $$) 2/6/17
184. The One-Eyed Man by Ron Currie (Hardcover, from publisher) 2/6/17
185. Bartleby and Benito Cereno by Herman Melville (Kindle, cheap, $) 2/6/17 read
186. The Silent Dead by Tetsuya Honda (Kindle, $$) 2/6/17 read
187. Corpus by Rory Clements (Kindle, $$) 2/6/17
188. Garden of Lamentations by Deborah Crombie (Kindle $$) 2/7/17 read
189. Cockfosters by Helen Simpson (e-galley from publisher) 2/7/17
190. Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (e-galley from publisher) 2/7/17
191. The Woman on the Stairs by Bernhard Schlink (e-galley from publisher) 2/7/17
192. Living in the Weather of the World by Richard Bausch (e-galley from publisher) 2/7/17
193. My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith (e-galley from publisher) 2/7/17
194. Police at the Station and They Don't Look Friendly by Adrian McKinty (Amazon Vine ARC) 2/8/17 read
195. Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan (NetGalley) 2/8/17
196. Hardcastle's Runaway by Graham Ison (NetGalley) 2/9/17
197. Sissinghurst, an Unfinished History by Adam Nicolson (Kindle Sale, $) 2/10/17
198. The Americans: The Colonial Experience by Daniel Boorstin (Kindle Sale, $) 2/10/17
199. Testimony by Scott Turow (NetGalley) 2/10/17 read
200. Animal Farm by George Orwell (Kindle, $$) 2/11/17) read
201. Mikhail and Margarita by Julie Himes (ARC from publisher) 2/11/17
202. A Climate of Fear by Fred Vargas (paperback from publisher) 2/11/17
203. Forever On: A Novel of Silicon Valley by Rob Reid (Amazon Vine ARC) 2/11/17
204. The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler (Kindle Sale, $) 2/12/17
205. Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History by Brian Kilmeade (Kindle Sale, $) 2/12/17
206. Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner (Amazon Vine ARC) 2/13/17
207. Scars of Independence by Holger Hoock (Amazon Vine ARC) 2/14/17
208. Murder on the Serpentine by Anne Perry (Amazon Vine ARC) 2/14/17
209. In This Grave Hour by Jacqueline Winspear (Amazon Vine ARC) 2/14/17 read
210. The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel (Amazon Vine ARC) (Forgotten from January 2017)
211. A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison (Amazon Vine ARC) (Forgotten from January 2017)
212. Conviction by Julia Dahl (Amazon Vine ARC) (Forgotten from January 2017) read
213. Who You Think I Am by Camille Laurens (Amazon Vine ARC) (Forgotten from January 2017) read
214. Often I Am Happy by Jens Christian Grøndahl (Amazon Vine ARC) (Forgotten from January 2017) read
215. The Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo (Amazon Vine ARC) (Forgotten from January 2017)
216. Everything Belongs to Us by Yoojin Grace Wuertz (Amazon Vine ARC) (Forgotten from January 2017)
217. Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Franz Kafka (Paperback, $$) 2/14/17 read
218. The Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald (Paperback, $$) 2/14/17
219. The Trespassers by Laura Z. Hobson (Kindle sale, $) 2/15/17
220. The Corfu Trilogy by Gerald Durrell (Kindle sale, $) 2/15/17
221. Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman (Kindle sale, $) 2/15/17
222. The Drowning King by Emily Holleman (Amazon Vine ARC) 2/15/17 read
223. Shadow Man by Alan Drew (Amazon Vine ARC) 2/15/17 read

12Chatterbox
Edited: Jul 30, 2017, 8:38pm Top

Books Purchased or Permanently Acquired in 2017
Part IV

224. Unquiet Ghosts by Glenn Meade (ALA Midwinter, ARC) (Forgotten from Jan 2017)
225. The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World by Brad Stone (ALA Midwinter, ARC) (Forgotten from Jan 2017)
226. The Awkward Age by Francesca Segal (ALA Midwinter, ARC) (Forgotten from Jan 2017)
227. The End We Start From by Megan Hunter (ALA Midwinter, ARC) (Forgotten from Jan 2017)
228. The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer (ALA Midwinter, ARC) (Forgotten from Jan 2017)
229. A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner (Amazon Vine ARC) 2/16/17
230. The Heirs by Susan Rieger (NetGalley) 2/16/17
231. New Boy by Tracey Chevalier (NetGalley) 2/16/17 read
232. Racing the Devil by Charles Todd (Kindle, $$) 2/16/17
233. I Was Told to Come Alone: My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad by Souad Mekhennet (NetGalley) 2/17/17 read
234. An Honorable Man by Paul Vidich (Kindle, $$) 2/17/17)
235. Augustus by John Williams (Kindle, $$) 2/18/17
236. The Unsettlers: In Search of the Good Life in Today's America by Mark Sundeen (Kindle, $$) 2/18/17 read
237. A Gathering of Spies by John Altman (Kindle Sale, $) 2/19/17
238. Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee (paperback, $$) 2/20/17 read
239. The Water Museum by Luis Alberto Urrea (paperback, $$) 2/20/17 read
240. Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay by Jill Mansell (UK Kindle, $$) 2/22/17 read
241. City of Friends by Joanna Trollope (UK Kindle, $$) 2/22/17 read
242. A Secret Garden by Katie Fforde (UK Kindle, $$) 2/22/17 read
243. Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister (Amazon Vine ARC) 2/22/17 read
244. What's Become of Her by Deb Caletti (Amazon Vine ARC) 2/22/17
245. The Diplomat's Daughter by Karin Tanabe (NetGalley) 2/23/17
246. A Rabble of Dead Money: The Great Crash and the Global Depression by Charles R. Morris (from publisher) 2/23/17
247. Detective by Arthur Hailey (Kindle sale, $) 2/24/17
248. The Photograph by Penelope Lively (Kindle sale, $) 2/24/17
249. Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right (Audiobook, $$) by Arlie Russell Hochschild 2/25/17 read
250. The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers by Thomas Fleming (Kindle Sale, $) 2/25/17
251. The Lubetkin Legacy by Marina Lewycka (UK Kindle, $$) 2/25/17
252. Rosy is My Relative by Gerald Durrell (Kindle sale, $) 2/26/17
253. Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak (UK Kindle, $$) 2/26/17
254. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese May Fowler (Kindle Sale, $) 2/26/17
255. Literary Wonderlands: A Journey Through the Greatest Fictional Worlds Ever Created, by Laura Miller et al (Kindle Sale, $) 2/26/17
256. A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain (Kindle Sale, $) 2/26/17
257. The Summer Seaside Kitchen by Jenny Colgan (UK Kindle, $$) 2/26/17
258. Promises by Catherine Gaskin (UK Kindle sale, $) 2/26/17
259. Edge of Glass by Catherine Gaskin (UK Kindle sale, $) 2/26/17
260. Libra by Don DeLillo (Kindle sale, $) 2/27/17)
261. A Woman of Independent Means by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey (Kindle sale, $) 2/27/17
262. Miss Treadway & the Field of Stars by Miranda Emmerson (NetGalley) 2/28/17
263. Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore (UK Kindle, $$) 2/28/17 read
264. The Templars' Last Secret by Martin Walker (NetGalley via publisher) 3/1/17
265. The Thirst by Jo Nesbø (NetGalley via publisher) 3/1/17
266. Defectors by Joseph Kanon (NetGalley) 3/1/17 Read
267. Radical Hope: Letters of Love and Dissent in Dangerous Times edited by Carolina de Robertis (NetGalley) 3/2/17
268. A Single Spy by William Christie (Amazon Vine ARC) 3/2/17 read
269. The Wasting of Borneo: Dispatches from a Vanishing World by Alex Shoumatoff (Amazon Vine ARC) 3/2/17 read
270. Manderley Forever: A Biography of Daphne du Maurier by Tatiana de Rosnay (Amazon Vine ARC) 3/2/17 read
271. My Darling Detective by Howard Norman (Amazon Vine ARC) 3/3/17
272. All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg (Amazon Vine ARC) 3/4/17 read
273. The Curse of La Fontaine by M. L. Longworth (Amazon Vine ARC) 3/3/17 read
274. The Chalk Artist by Allegra Goodman (Amazon Vine ARC) 3/5/17
275. Cave Dwellers by Richard Grant (Amazon Vine ARC) 3/5/17
276. Eleventh Hour: a Tudor Mystery by M.J. Trow (NetGalley) 3/7/17
277. The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell (Audiobooks, $$) 3/7/17
278. The Home That Was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria by Alia Malek (Kindle, gift) 3/7/17
279. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson (paperback, loan) 3/9/17 read
280. The Graybar Hotel by Curtis Dawkins (NetGalley) 3/10/17
281. How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds by Alan Jacobs (NetGalley) 3/12/17
282. How to Behave in a Crowd by Camille Bordas (NetGalley) 3/12/17
283. The Song and the Silence: A Story about Family, Race, and What Was Revealed in a Small Town in the Mississippi Delta While Searching for Booker Wright by Yvette Johnson (NetGalley) 3/17/17
284. Lenin on the Train by Catherine Merridale (NetGalley) 3/17/17 read
285. The Standard Grand by Jay Baron Nicorvo (Amazon Vine ARC) 3/20/17
286. Anne Boleyn, A King's Obsession by Alison Weir (Amazon Vine ARC) 3/20/17 read
287. The Spy Across the Table by Barry Lancet (NetGalley) 3/20/17
288. Take Me to Your Heart Again by Marius Gabriel (Kindle Freebie) 3/22/17
289. Stockholm Delete by Jens Lapidus (Amazon Vine ARC) 3/22/17
290. Once, in Lourdes by Sharon Solwitz (Amazon Vine ARC) 3/22/17
291. Slow Horses by Mick Herron (Audible audiobook, $$) 3/22/17
292. Young Radicals: In the War for American Ideals by Jeremy McCarter (NetGalley) 3/24/17 read
293. The Lost Ones by Sheena Kamal (Amazon Vine ARC) 3/24/17
294. The Second Day of the Renaissance by Timothy Williams (Amazon Vine ARC) 3/24/17
295. Gender, Politics, News: A Game of Three Sides by Karen Ross (Amazon Vine ARC) 3/24/17
296. There Your Heart Lies by Mary Gordon (Amazon Vine ARC) 3/24/17 read
297. The End of the Day by Claire North (Amazon Vine ARC) 3/24/17
298. The Parthenon Bomber by Christos Chrissopoulos (Amazon Vine ARC) 3/24/17
299. Protest in Putin's Russia by Mischa Gabowitsch (Amazon Vine ARC) 3/24/17

13Chatterbox
Edited: Jul 30, 2017, 8:46pm Top

Books Purchased or Permanently Acquired in 2017
Part V

300. A Quiet Life by Natasha Walter (Amazon UK, Kindle Sale, $) 3/27/17
301. Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta (NetGalley) 3/30/17 read
302. The Misfortune of Marion Palm by Emily Culliton (NetGalley, From Publisher) 3/31/17
303. The Red-Haired Woman by Orhan Pamuk (NetGalley, from Publisher) 3/31/17
304. A Deadly Betrothal by Fiona Buckley (NetGalley) 3/31/17
305. A Small Revolution by Jimin Han (Kindle First, Freebie) 4/1/17
306. The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan (Kindle Sale, $) 4/3/17
307. A Flag Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of National Symbols by Tim Marshall (NetGalley) 4/3/17
308. Steam Titans: Cunard, Collins, and the Epic Battle for Commerce on the North Atlantic by William Fowler (NetGalley) 4/3/17
309. Reading With Patrick by Michelle Kuo (NetGalley) 4/3/17
310. Girl Last Seen by Nina Laurin (Kindle Sale, $) 4/3/17
311. The Lake by Lotte Hammer (NetGalley) 4/3/17
312. The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America by Frances Fitzgerald (Kindle pre-order, $$) 4/4/17
313. Modern Gods by Nick Laird (NetGalley) 4/4/17
314. Am I Alone Here?: Notes on Living to Read and Reading to Live by Peter Orner (NetGalley) 4/5/17
315. Down a Dark Road by Linda Castillo (NetGalley) 4/6/17 read
316. Woolly: The True Story of the De-Extinction of One of History's Most Iconic Creatures by Ben Mezrich (NetGalley) 4/6/17
317. Salt Houses by Hala Alyan (Amazon Vine ARC) 4/7/17
318. Moving Kings by Joshua Cohen (Amazon Vine ARC) 4/7/17
319. Secrets in Summer by Nancy Thayer (Amazon Vine ARC) 4/7/17 read
320. My Glory Was I Had Such Friends by Amy Silverstein (Amazon Vine ARC) 4/7/17 read
321. The Vanishing Futurist by Charlotte Hobson (UK Kindle, $$) 4/8/17 read
322. Beware This Boy by Maureen Jennings (UK Kindle, Kindle Sale, $) 4/8/17
323. The Little Teashop of Lost and Found by Trisha Ashley (UK Kindle, $$) 4/8/17 Read
324. The Good People by Hannah Kent (UK Kindle, $$) 4/8/17 read
325. About Last Night... by Catherine Alliott (UK Kindle, $$) 4/8/17
326. The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness by Jill Filipovic (Hardcover from publisher) 4/10/17
327. Friends and Traitors by John Lawton (NetGalley) 4/11/17 Read
328. A Very Expensive Poison: The Assassination of Alexander Litvinenko and Putin's War with the West by Luke Harding (Audible audiobook, $$) 4/13/17 Read
329. Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon (Kindle sale, $) 4/13/17
330. The Islamic Enlightenment: The Struggle Between Faith and Reason, 1798 to Modern Times by Christophe de Bellaige (Kindle, $$) 4/13/17
331. The Locals by Jonathan Dee (NetGalley) 4/14/17
332. Domina by L.S. Hilton (NetGalley) 4/14/17
333. Akenaten: Dweller in Truth by Naguib Mahfouz (gift) 4/14/17 read
334. Days Without End by Sebastian Barry (Kindle, $$) 4/14/17
335. Fish Have No Feet by Jon Kalman Stefansson (UK Kindle, $$) 4/14/17
336. The Lady and the Unicorn by Rumer Godden (Kindle, $$) 4/15/17 Read
337. The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer (Audiobook, Sale, $) 4/16/17 Read
338. The Hidden Flower by Pearl Buck (Kindle Sale, $) 4/17/17
339. Silence in Court: a Golden Age Mystery by Patricia Wentworth (UK Kindle Sale, $) 4/17/17
340. Red Shadow: a Golden Age Mystery by Patricia Wentworth (UK Kindle Sale, $) 4/17/17
341. Outrageous Fortune: a Golden Age Mystery by Patricia Wentworth (UK Kindle Sale, $) 4/17/17
342. This Perfect Day by Ira Levin (Kindle Sale, $) 4/18/17
343. The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham (NetGalley) 4/18/17
344. Lightning Men by Thomas Mullen (NetGalley) 4/18/17 read
345. The Prague Sonata by Bradford Morrow (NetGalley) 4/19/17
346. Love, Africa: A Memoir of Romance, War, and Survival by Jeffrey Gettleman (Amazon Vine ARC) 4/20/17
347. The Summer House Party by Caro Fraser (UK Kindle Sale, $) 4/21/17
348. Here and Gone by Haylen Beck (NetGalley) 4/22/17
349. The Sixth Victim by Tessa Harris (Amazon Vine ARC) 4/22/17
350. The Windfall by Diksha Basu (Amazon Vine ARC) 4/22/17 read
351. Hum If You Don't Know the Words by Blanca Marais (Amazon Vine ARC) 4/22/17
352. The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg (NetGalley) 4/24/17 read
353. A Fortune Foretold by Agneta Pleijel (Amazon Vine ARC) 4/25/17
354. The Currency of Love by Jill Dodd (NetGalley) 4/25/17
355. Blackout by Marc Elsberg (NetGalley) 4/25/17
356. Hold Back the Stars by Katie Khan (Amazon Vine ARC) 4/26/17
357. Tinkers by Paul Harding (paperback, $$) 4/27/17
358. Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan (NetGalley) 4/27/17
359. Vienna Spies by Alex Gerlis (UK Kindle, $$) 4/27/17 read
360. Fractured Lands: How the Arab World Came Apart by Scott Anderson (NetGalley) 4/28/17
361. Barkskins by Annie Proulx (UK Kindle sale, $) 4/28/17
362. The English Girl by Katherine Webb (UK Kindle Sale, $) 4/28/17
363. The Food of Love by Prue Leith (UK Kindle Sale, $) 4/28/17
364. Digest by Gregory Pardillo (paperback, $$) 4/28/17
365. Thomas Paine: Collected Writings by Thomas Paine (second hand hardcover, $$) 4/29/17
366. Trophy Son by Douglas Brunt (Amazon Vine ARC) 4/29/17
367. The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia by Michael Booth (UK Kindle sale, $) 4/30/17
368. Dead Certain by Adam Mitzner (Kindle First freebie) 4/30/17
369. A Passing Fury: Searching for Justice at the End of World War II by A.T. Williams (Kindle, $$) 5/1/17
370. Aftermath by Peter Robinson (UK Kindle sale, $) 5/1/17
371. Hame by Annalena McAfee (e-galley from publisher) 5/1/17
372. Future War: Preparing for the New Global Battlefield by Robert Latiff (e-galley from publisher) 5/1/17
373. At the Strangers' Gate: Arrivals in New York by Adam Gopnik (e-galley from publisher) 5/1/17
374. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (audiobook, $$) 5/2/17
375. Wolf on a String by Benjamin Black (NetGalley) 5/4/17
376. He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly (UK Kindle, $$) 5/6/17 read
377. Where the Bodies Are Buried by Christopher Brookmyre (audiobook, $$) 5/6/17
378. Pussy by Howard Jacobson (Kindle, $$) 5/6/17
379. Dark Water by Parker Bilal (NetGalley) 5/6/17 read
380. Gravel Heart by Abdulrazak Gurnah (NetGalley) 5/6/17
381. The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II by Svetlana Alexeivech (Amazon Vine ARC) 5/7/17
382. Tom Paine's Iron Bridge: Building a United States by Edward Gray (paperback, $$) 5/8/17
383. 46 Pages by Scott Liell (paperback, $$) 5/8/17
384. Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities by Bettany Hughes 5/9/17

14Chatterbox
Edited: Jul 30, 2017, 9:12pm Top

Books Purchased or Permanently Acquired in 2017
Part VI

385. We Shall Not All Sleep by Estep Nagy (Amazon Vine ARC) 5/9/17
386. Battles for Freedom: The Use and Abuse of American History by Eric Foner (out of the blue from publisher, paperback) 5/9/17
387. The Lost Pages by Marija Pericic (audiobook, $$) 5/10/17
388. The Hideout by Egon Hostovský (paperback, Amazon Vine) 5/11/17
389. The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish (Amazon Vine ARC) 5/11/17 read
390. The Wildling Sisters by Eve Chase (Amazon Vine ARC) 5/11/17
391. A High Mortality of Doves by Kate Ellis (UK Kindle, $$) 5/12/17
392. The Twentieth Day of January by Ted Allbeury (Amazon Vine ARC) 5/12/17
393. Bones of the Lost by Kathy Reichs (Kindle sale, $) 5/14/17
394. The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami (from publisher, paperback) 5/15/17
395. The Man Who Would Be F. Scott Fitzgerald by David Handler (Kindle sale, $) 5/16/17
396. The End of Loyalty: The Rise and Fall of Good Jobs in America by Rick Wartzman (hardcover, from publisher) 5/16/17
397. Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin (audiobook, $$) 5/16/17
398. The Gifts of Poseidon by Anne Zouroudi (UK Kindle sale, $) 5/16/17
399. Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe (paperback, $$) 5/17/17
400. The Forever House by Veronica Henry (UK Kindle, $$) 5/18/17 read
401. Blame by Jeff Abbott (NetGalley} 5/18/17
402. The Black Hand: The Epic War Between a Brilliant Detective and the Deadliest Secret Society in American History by Stephan Talty (NetGalley) 5/18/17
403. Live From Cairo by Ian Bassingthwaighte (NetGalley) 5/18/17
404. Endgame by Ahmet Altan (paperback, $$) 5/19/17
405. Checkpoint by Jean-Christophe Rufin (paperback, $$) 5/19/17
406. Lord Edgware Dies by Agatha Christie (UK Kindle, sale, $) 5/20/17
407. The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie (UK Kindle, sale, $) 5/20/17
408. Chasing Phil: The Adventures of Two Undercover Agents with the World's Most Charming Con Man by David Howard (NetGalley) 5/22/17
409. Lullaby Road by James Anderson (NetGalley) 5/22/17
410. Paradox Bound by Peter Cline (NetGalley) 5/22/17
411. Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan (NetGalley) 5/24/17
412. Black Moses by Alain Mabanckou (Kindle, $$) 5/26/17
413. The Traitor's Niche by Ismail Kadaré (UK Kindle, $$) 5/26/17
414. Map Drawn by a Spy by Guillermo Cabrera Infante (Edelweiss digital ARC) 5/26/17
415. Browse: the World in Bookshops by Henry Hitchings (Edelweiss digital ARC) 5/26/17
416. Class: Welcome to the Little School by the Sea by Jane Beaton (UK Kindle, sale, $) 5/26/17
417. The Jeeves Omnibus, Vol. I by P.G. Wodehouse (UK Kindle, sale $) 5/26/17
418. In the Days of Rain: A Daughter, a Father, a Cult by Rebecca Stott (Amazon Vine ARC) 5/27/17
419. Lockdown by Laurie R. King (Amazon Vine ARC) 5/27/17
420. Beautiful Animals by Laurence Osborne (Amazon Vine ARC) 5/28/17 read
421. The Wind Off the Small Isles by Mary Stewart (UK Kindle, sale, $) 5/29/17 read
422. Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart (UK Kindle, sale, $) 5/29/17
423. My Brother Michael by Mary Stewart (UK Kindle, sale, $) 5/29/17 read
424. Rose Cottage by Mary Stewart (UK Kindle, sale, $) 5/29/17
425. A Distant View of Everything by Alexander McCall Smith (UK Kindle, $$) 5/30/17 read
426. Come Sundown by Nora Roberts (Kindle, $$) 5/30/17
427. Falling by Elizabeth Jane Howard (Kindle, $$) 5/30/17
428. The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey (NetGalley) 5/30/17
429. How to Be a Muslim: An American Story by Haroon Moghul (NetGalley) 5/30/17
430. Fools' River by Timothy Hallinan (Edelweiss Digital ARC) 5/31/17 read
431. The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey (Edelweiss Digital ARC) 5/31/17 read
432. The Rat Catchers' Olympics by Colin Cotterill (Edelweiss Digital ARC) 5/31/17
433. The Saboteur by Andrew Gross (NetGalley) 5/31/17 read
434. Soul Cage by Tetsuya Honda (NetGalley) 5/31/17
435. A Necessary Evil by Abir Mukherjee (NetGalley) 5/31/17 read
436. The Missing Wife by Sheila O'Flanagan (UK Kindle, sale, $) 6/1/17
437. The Breakdown by B.A. Paris (UK Kindle, sale, $)
438. Enemy of God by Bernard Cornwell (UK Kindle, sale, $)
439. Holland House: A History of London's Most Celebrated Salon by Linda Kelly (UK Kindle, $$) 6/1/17
440. The Man Who Could Be King by John Ripin Miller (Kindle First Freebie) 6/1/17
441. Basket of Deplorables by Tom Rachman (Audiobook, $$), 6/1/17
442. We Were Strangers Once by Betsy Carter (NetGalley) 6/6/17
443. PIG/PORK: Archaeology, Zoology and Edibility by Pía Spry-Marqués (NetGalley) 6/6/17
444. Clutch of Constables by Ngaio Marsh (Audiobook, $$ 6/6/17 read
445. Dinner at the Center of the Earth by Nathan Englander (ARC from publisher) 6/7/17
446. Norma by Sofi Oksanen (ARC from publisher) 6/7/17
447. From Global to Local: The Making of Things and the End of Globalization by Finbarr Livesey (ARC from publisher) 6/7/17
448. Final Curtain by Ngaio Marsh (Audiobook, $$) 6/8/17
449. Paris in the Present Tense by Mark Helprin (ARC, gift) 6/8/17
450. The Revolution of Marina M. by Janet Fitch (ARC, gift) 6/8/17
451. When in Rome by Ngaio Marsh (Audiobook, $$) 6/9/17
452. Down for the Count by Martin Holmen (Edelweiss e-galley) 6/10/17
453. The Couturier of Milan by Ian Hamilton (Edelweiss e-galley) 6/10/17
454. Sorrow of the Earth: Buffalo Bill, Sitting Bull and the Tragedy of Show Business by Eric Vuillard (Edelweiss e-galley) 6/10/17
455. Empire Made: My Search for an Outlaw Uncle Who Vanished in British India by Kief Hillsbery (Amazon Vine ARC) 6/12/17
456. Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different by Gordon Wood (Kindle, $$) 6/15/17
457. An Italian Holiday by Maeve Haran (UK Kindle, sale, $) 6/15/17
458. The Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer (UK Kindle, $$) 6/15/17
459. Crimes of the Father by Thomas Keneally (audiobook, $$) 6/15/17
460. I Hear Your Voice by Young-ha Kim (Amazon Vine ARC) 6/16/17
461. Little Broken Things by Nicole Baart (NetGalley) 6/16/17
462. Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History by Kurt Andersen (NetGalley) 6/19/17
463. Canada by Mike Myers (Kindle, $$) 6/20/17
464. The Golden House by Salman Rushdie (NetGalley) 6/21/17
465. A Lady in Shadows by Lene Kaaberbol (NetGalley) 6/22/17
466. The Vineyard by Maria Dueñas (NetGalley) 6/22/17
467. The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen by Hendrik Groen (NetGalley) 6/23/17 read
468. Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker (NetGalley) 6/23/17
469. Dunbar by Edward St. Aubyn (NetGalley) 6/23/17
470. Invictus by Ryan Graudin (Amazon Vine ARC) 5/21/17 (overlooked) read
471. Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom by Thomas Ricks (audiobook, $$) 6/15/17 read
FROM HERE ON, UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE, THE BOOKS ARE ALL ARCS/GALLEYS FROM ALA CHICAGO, June 2017:
472. The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve by Stephen Greenblatt
473. The Burning Girl by Claire Messud
474. Fever by Deon Meyer
475. Odd Child Out by Gilly Macmillan
476. The Maze at Windermere by Gregory Blake Smith
477. Strangers in Budapest by Jessica Keener
478. Shadow of the Lions by Christopher Swann
479. Nine Continents: A Memoir In and Out of China by Xialou Guo
480. See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt read
481. George and Lizzie by Nancy Pearl
482. My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent
483. Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder read
484. A Column of Fire by Ken Follett read
485. Need to Know by Karen Cleveland
486. A Casualty of War by Charles Todd
487. Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson by Gordon Wood
488. Kolymsky Heights by Lionel Davidson
489. The Messenger by Shiv Malik
490. Pieces of Happines by Anne Ostby
491. The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne
492. The Quantum Spy by David Ignatius
493. The Child Finder by Rene Delfield
494. The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine
495. The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer
496. Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks
497. Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss
498. The Boat Runner by Devin Murphy
499. Carnegie's Maid by Marie Benedict
500. Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber
501. The Black Painting by Neil Olson
502. Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent
503. Elle by Philippe Djian
504. Tangerine by Christine Mangan
505. Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller
506. This is What Happened by Mick Herron
507. Madonna in a Fur Coat by Sabahattin Ali
508. The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper
509. Sourdough by Robin Sloan
510. Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak
511. White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht
512. The Address by Fiona Davis
513. Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore
514. Even If it Kills Her by Kate White
515. From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty
516. The Unquiet Grave by Sharyn McCrumb
517. Seduced by Mrs. Robinson: How "The Graduate" Became the Touchstone of a Generation by Beverly Gray
518. Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna
519. Woman at 1,000 Degrees by Hallgrímur Helgason
520. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
521. Hue 1968 by Mark Bowden
522. Revolution Song: A Story of American Freedom by Russell Shorto
523. Rogues’ Gallery: The Rise (and Occasional Fall) of Art Dealers, the Hidden Players in the History of Art by Phillip Hook
524. Keep Her Safe by Sophie Hannah read
525. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
526. The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
527. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
528. Rebellion by Molly Patterson
529. Christmas at the Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan
530. The Invisible Mile by David Coventry
531. A Death Along the River Fleet by Susanna Calkins
532. Displaced by Stephen Abarbanell
533. Katalin Street by Magda Szabo
THAT'S ALL THE ALA CHICAGO LOOT!!
534. The Power by Naomi Alderman (UK Kindle, $$) 6/25/17
535. Daddy's Girl by Lisa Scottoline (Kindle Sale, $) 6/25/17
536. The Bomb Maker by Thomas Perry (NetGalley) 6/26/17 read
537. The Red Word by Sarah Henstra (NetGalley) 6/26/17
538. The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea by Bandi (Kindle, $$)
539. Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford (Amazon Vine ARC) 6/26/17
540. Death by His Grace by Kwei Quartey (Amazon Vine ARC) 6/26/17
541. The Outer Cape by Patrick Dacey (Amazon Vine ARC) 6/26/17
542. Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn (Amazon Vine ARC) 6/26/17
543. Sirens by Joseph Knox (NetGalley) 6/28/17
544. Prosperity without Growth: Foundations for the Economy of Tomorrow by Tim Jackson (Amazon Vine) 6/28/17
545. The Walls by Hollie Overton (Amazon Vine ARC) 6/28/17
546. Sympathy for the Devil by William Shaw (UK Kindle, $$) 6/28/17
547. The Mortal Sickness by Andrew Taylor (UK Kindle, sale, $) 6/28/17
548. The Lover of the Grave by Andrew Taylor (UK Kindle, sale, $) 6/28/17)
549. The Visitors by Catherine Burns (NetGalley) 6/29/17
550. Maestros and Their Music: The Art and Alchemy of Conducting by John Mauceri (NetGalley) 6/29/17)
551. Balancing Acts: Behind the Scenes at London's National Theatre by Nicholas Hytner (NetGalley) 6/29/17)
552. Love Like Blood by Mark Billingham (audiobook, $$) 6/29/17 read

15ronincats
Apr 22, 2017, 1:14am Top

Happy new thread, Suz. That's an amazing list of acquisitions.

16Chatterbox
Apr 22, 2017, 1:19am Top

>15 ronincats: Happily, many of them were free! And I had a lot of help/enablers... :-)

17avatiakh
Apr 22, 2017, 2:39am Top

I'll have to go over your lists again, so many good looking books there.

18charl08
Apr 22, 2017, 3:54am Top

Me too - look forward to more reviews full of BBs, Suzanne.

19scaifea
Apr 22, 2017, 7:41am Top

Happy new thread, Suzanne!

20katiekrug
Apr 22, 2017, 9:34am Top

Happy new one, Suzanne!

i need to pay more attention to the Walter Scott Prize - I love historical fiction but it often gets overlooked in my reading, for some reason...

We are going to a concert at Lincoln Center this afternoon and I suggested Cafe Fiorello for lunch but Himself wanted to go somewhere neither of us had been before, so no ancient Etruscan pasta for me ;-)

I hope you have a good weekend!

21sibyx
Apr 22, 2017, 12:34pm Top

Almost a scary list of acquisitions! Been awhile since I've stopped in.

I've had Stoner on my audio list for an age, sort of afraid to plunge in. But I guess I can always, after a listen, return it if it doesn't work. And, oh dear, there was something else from your previous thread I wanted to comment on, but now it has fallen out of my head (like everything else).

22Chatterbox
Apr 22, 2017, 2:54pm Top

I am clearly preparing for the Worldwide Book Famine/Zombie attack. Although since quite a number of these reside on my Kindle, that might be a problem if the power cuts out.

That said, I have paid full price for only a small fraction of these books -- only 41 out of 351 -- so I don't feel too bad. The rest were either Kindle sale books, for which I paid less than $3 or less than 2.5 pounds (my criteria for a sale price.) That said, I didn't count audiobooks in my "paying full price" thing, because that's a monthly subscription-for-credit" deal, and I started the year with a backlog of credits, which is lucky.

>20 katiekrug: Enjoy the concert, Katie! What are you seeing/listening to? Sorry about the lack of Etruscan delicacies, but we'll revisit Fiorello; I have absolutely no objection to returning to old favorite haunts, as you can tell.

>21 sibyx: Lucy! Miss you, and have been thinking of you. That said, it has been an effort to do much of anything about anything these days, so... I manage to read, but that's it. Blech. I suspect that Stoner might be better to read than listen to, but if you get a very good narrator, it could be superb as an audiobook. I want to make time to read Augustus now, but I also (for some reason) feel a read to balance my reading among all kinds of genres (new fiction, classics, blah blah blah) and that hasn't really fitted into the mix yet. I wonder if I can convince my book circle in NYC to read it?

23katiekrug
Apr 22, 2017, 7:42pm Top

It was three pieces performed by a brass quintet (which I didn't love - not a big fan of brass on its own), and then the philharmonic doing some Berlioz and Elgar. Apparently, I don't really like Elgar, either, but the Berlioz (Romeo and Juliet) was lovely.

24drneutron
Apr 22, 2017, 10:46pm Top

Happy new thread!

25LizzieD
Apr 22, 2017, 11:01pm Top

Happy to see you continuing and looking forward to more BBs!

26Chatterbox
Apr 23, 2017, 1:05pm Top

>23 katiekrug: Oh, I would keep trying with Elgar (he's one of my faves.) Try the Enigma Variations.

>25 LizzieD: I'm SURE I can oblige...

27LovingLit
Apr 24, 2017, 5:39am Top

>13 Chatterbox: you have acquired 351 books this year???!??!?!?!
Seriously. And that was going without for Lent as well!? ;)

And now, I go back and catch up on the last bit of your last thread. I always seem to do it this way with new threads.

28Chatterbox
Apr 24, 2017, 3:03pm Top

>27 LovingLit: But I have only paid full price for 42. Which, considering that I have read 134 books so far this year, isn't that bad, is it?? (She said plaintively...) I prefer to focus on the ratio between books acquired and books read, too, which isn't too bad, either.

29Chatterbox
Edited: Apr 27, 2017, 10:51am Top

Just finished Darktown by Thomas Mullen, a mystery set against the backdrop of the first black cops hired to work in Atlanta, in the immediate aftermath of WW2. For anyone who has read The Warmth of Other Suns, it's an excellent fictional counterpoint... Oh, and the audiobook also is very, very good. There's a sequel due out this year; I have the NetGalley version and will start reading it ASAP.

Too many books, too little time. Have to finish my book circle book; need to finish Spaceman of Bohemia and The Book Thieves to return them by tomorrow to the Athenaeum. I know, a first world problem.

30benitastrnad
Apr 28, 2017, 3:24pm Top

At the bottom of every e-mail I send out I have my name, job title, and where I work. I also list what I am currently reading. I just finished the last of the Yashim the Eunuch mystery series Baklava Club and haven't changed my e-mail signature. I had a business lunch today and one of the people at the table asked me if I was really reading that book. I thought it was a strange question, but said yes. She was curious because the title caught her eye, so she looked it up in Amazon and discovered that it was the last book in the series. She thought it strange that somebody would be reading the last book in a series, so she was sure I had read the others. She then looked at the first title Janissary Tree and thought it looked good and wondered what I thought of the series. Of course, I recommended it. She went on to say that she tried to read books set in different parts of the world, and thought that this series might broaden her horizons.

I thought that book bullets only struck here on LT. I was wrong. Even e-mail signatures contain those nasty bullets.

31Chatterbox
Apr 28, 2017, 8:10pm Top

>30 benitastrnad: Hmm, that's a good idea. The only downside is that I'd have to change the sig line almost daily!!

32benitastrnad
Apr 28, 2017, 9:58pm Top

#31
That would be a problem for you given the rate at which you read. Since I read more than one book at a time, I usually pick out the more "serious" titles to use. I started doing it for my work e-mail because I thought I should advertise my profession but I didn't want to do the "approved" corporate signature, with all the official colors and logos. It surprises me when people respond to it because I think that most people don't look at that signature line. But I guess they do.

33alcottacre
Apr 28, 2017, 10:06pm Top

>29 Chatterbox: Darktown sounds like one I would enjoy. I will have to see if I can locate a copy.

34Chatterbox
Edited: Apr 28, 2017, 11:07pm Top

>33 alcottacre: It should be reasonably obtainable from a library. Mullen is a mainstream author, and the publisher was/is Simon & Schuster's Atria label. It must be about due for a paperback release.

I just finished reading/listening to Nick Stone's The Verdict, which was an impulse purchase last year and turned out to be unexpectedly good. Who knew? Some of my impulse reads have been better than the ones I have eagerly anticipated, it seems... For clarity, in this case, I mean "good" in the sense of "thumping good read" rather than good literary read. I had just had too much existential angst reading about a Bohemian spaceman discussing the meaning of life with a giant and possibly non-existant space spider en route to a Venusian cloud in outer space, and needed something else.

35benitastrnad
Apr 30, 2017, 1:39pm Top

The weather here as been wacky for the last three days - hot, windy, and very humid. The consequence is that today I am working on a very annoying headache. It is a cluster headache so I may spend the afternoon in bed with the heat pad on my neck.

36Chatterbox
Apr 30, 2017, 6:54pm Top

>35 benitastrnad: Sorry about that, Benita...

Just looking back at my May reading and am surprised at how many of the books are re-reads. Mostly because I resorted to listening to Georgette Heyer on audiobook...

My next door neighbors decided to have an all-day/all-night party yesterday -- usually they stop at around midnight or 1 a.m., but this one went on until 5 a.m. until I was almost crying with fatigue, because I had to be up early to get on a train. They have 50 or 60 people over and turn their back "yard" -- paved over and turned into a parking lot -- into their living room, with very loud sound system, and it's impossible to escape the noise. The kids spill out onto the street out front. It's surreal. I just hope it rains EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND all summer. Had to postpone my train until later because I was so out of it this morning, literally tripping over my own feet.

37alcottacre
Apr 30, 2017, 6:56pm Top

>34 Chatterbox: Unless your local library is mine, it seems. Darktown is not available there yet.

38PawsforThought
Apr 30, 2017, 7:23pm Top

>36 Chatterbox: I would have called the police.

39Chatterbox
Apr 30, 2017, 8:16pm Top

>38 PawsforThought: I did. So did other people. They showed up, the music went down; they left; the music went up... Sigh.

40scaifea
May 1, 2017, 6:48am Top

>36 Chatterbox: Oh, that is *so* frustrating. I remember dealing with that sort of thing in grad school. I'm so sorry you're dealing with it now. Adding my wishes that they received their own private rain cloud every weekend...

41PawsforThought
May 1, 2017, 7:42am Top

>39 Chatterbox: Disrespectful sh*ts!

42ronincats
May 3, 2017, 10:30pm Top

Remembering your friend who was brutally murdered by ISIS, Suz, on Press Freedom Day today.

43LovingLit
May 4, 2017, 4:02am Top

>36 Chatterbox: woah, that would be so frustrating!!! We have this thing here called noise control, and some nice person goes knocking on their door (if you don't want to) and asks them to turn it down. if they get called again they literally remove the sound system. I'm all for a good party, but take it inside after midnight, please.

44Chatterbox
May 4, 2017, 1:18pm Top

>42 ronincats: Thanks, Roni... How I wish there wasn't a need for it. From people who sneer at the media here for doing their job, to the Turks who are imprisoning journalists at an incredibly rapid clip, to Russia, where reporters are too terrified to do their job, to Mexico where they are being murdered.

The World Press Freedom Index also just came out, and the results are rather depressing, with the situation worsening for reporters in 180 of the 199 countries surveyed. The US fell another 2 points to #43, and even New Zealand fell 8 points to rank #13. (Norway & Sweden are at the top.) For anyone who is interested: https://rsf.org/en/2017-world-press-freedom-index-tipping-point

>43 LovingLit: Oooh... I wish we had something that civilized! I'm afraid that there's a chance I will get told off for being culturally insensitive because Hispanics do have a tradition for partying outside in the community. Which is fine, but what about when they live among those who aren't part of their community (and whom they don't treat as members of their community either -- they aren't particularly good/helpful/friendly neighbors in any respect, from saying hello to not blocking access to my own front steps when the kids hang out) and have to find a modus vivendi? I'd be fine with loud parties every so often, especially if they gave advance notice to the neighborhood and stopped by midnight. I'm not OK with every nice weekend all summer, pretty much. It took me two days to recover from that, and by Monday I had a migraine (surprise).

45m.belljackson
May 4, 2017, 1:27pm Top

>44 Chatterbox:

Our most recent neighbor problem involved the renter's BIG dog getting loose and running free
two days in a row, chasing cats and trampling new farm crops.

So far the solution was to visit other neighbors for a consensus, then call the landlord with a short, not whiny, list of problems and possible solutions. No response so far.

If you can get more neighbors involved and request that the police (bilingual?) meet with all of you,
including the problem causing people, maybe you could get them to agree with a mutual solution, with consequences clear to all...?

46Chatterbox
Edited: May 5, 2017, 4:49pm Top

>45 m.belljackson: That sounds like an excellent idea... I can at least try to coordinate something like that. Meanwhile, it is pelting torrential rain right now, so it will be a quiet night tonight, and if it keeps up, tomorrow as well!

Which means lots of time for reading, and maybe even for posting some mini-reviews...

Went to one of my book circle meetings at the Athenaeum yesterday evening, and I think I was the only one to have enjoyed The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu. Everyone else disliked the book's structure, the fact that the author interposed his own presence as a narrator in the book, etc. -- all of which are features of books about current affairs written by journalists. One actually wanted it to read as if it were written by someone like Rebecca Solnit -- who is an essayist, for starters and doesn't base her work on travel, reportage, etc. Perhaps this is a good reason why NOT to have non-fiction as the subject for discussion in a book group? There was also disagreement with my suggestion that it's possible to get something of value out of a non-fiction book whose writing style or structure you dislike or are ambivalent about, because you'll still learn new facts about a subject or gain insight into the topic or personalities, etc., even if you have to work a bit harder to make those fit into a bigger theme or argument than you do when the book is well constructed or coherently presented. (Whereas I think it's harder to get that from a novel that you struggle to read.) Oh well...

47benitastrnad
May 6, 2017, 7:01pm Top

#46
This is an interesting problem. I tend to agree with you about the value of a book you may not like.

Participating in reading group discussions can be tricky. I find that I often have to set aside my own opinions in order to accommodate discussion. I think the practice of participating in a calm ordered discussion in which parties disagree is beginning to be a lost art. Many people think that the screaming heads matches featured on Fox News (I hate to call it news, but...), CNN and the like does little to facilitate the spread of knowledge or to provide insight to anybody and yet that kind of behavior is considered acceptable since people on TV do it.

One of my biggest pet peeves is all the accolades about "narrative nonfiction." I want to remind people that all writing is narrative, so if they are talking about a specific kind of non-fiction (journalistic, epistolary, memoir, etc. etc.) they should say so.

48PaulCranswick
May 7, 2017, 1:34am Top

Not managed to get around the threads as much as usual recently with me doing a fair bit of travelling but I notice that you have gotten your reading mojo back a little!

Have a lovely weekend.

49Chatterbox
May 7, 2017, 5:37pm Top

Since I've just finished reading book #150 (a 5-star read of The Radium Girls by Kate Moore!) it's time for me to play catch-up a bit...

102. Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin


The new (still upcoming, not yet published) novel by the author of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, in which she tries to create the whimsical, feel-good sensation and fails. Oh, it's not bad, but it's a riff on stories in the news -- an ambitious politician in Florida who has an affair with an intern that ends up hitting the headlines after he hits a deer or something in DC's Rock Creek Park (trying to remember...) while driving the intern home. The intern's name becomes a byword for scandal, so she changes it and flees everyone, including (inexplicably) her parents. The reincarnated Jane Young ends up with a new business about as far away as possible, in New England, and a precocious pre-teen daughter, who develops twin interests in politics and who her father is. You can guess where this is going, right? Lots of implausibility, and without the charm of its predecessor to offset it. Still, 3.7 stars for entertainment.

105. The Graduate by Charles Webb


Oh dear. Most of the time, people complain that a movie doesn't live up to a book. Here's a case of a book falling woefully short of a movie, even though large swathes of the book are lifted almost verbatim to create the screenplay of the famous movie. My advice is to avoid this book at all costs, it's laughably bad, and focus on what a genius director and great acting can make of it. I suppose it must have captured something of the zeitgeist of the time, but that simply hasn't endured, at least for me. 2.2 stars.

106. Mississippi Blood by Greg Iles


Finally, this trilogy limps to its close. I finished the book because I wanted to find out how Iles would wrap up the various story lines, but it was more out of a sense of vague, idle curiosity than real suspense, even as I read it. The bad guys were just caricatures, cartoon-like villains that possessed every imaginable characteristic of an evil demon and who were willing to do anything you could imagine to kill someone and WIN, even though it wasn't always clear to this reader what exactly they were winning. (The killing methods were bizarrely creative, I will say.) The good guys were mostly pure, and when they weren't, their motives always remained so. I just longed for some nuance, and for what an author who wasn't incurably addicted to overwriting, overwrought prose and cartoonish characters might have made of the core elements of this plot. Iles' original thrillers were great in this genre; long, sure, but the plot called for that, and once he switched the focus to Natchez, The Quiet Game was an excellent thoughtful thriller. He's run amok, as an author. 3.2 stars.

107. The Water Museum by Luis Alberto Urrea


This was a collection of short stories that I am delighted to have read, even thought they weren't all of the same caliber. The title story is brilliant, and would get 5 stars as a standalone piece, for instance, but others didn't work as well. In one, Junior and a friend find an abandoned canoe and set out on a bizarre recreation of Lewis and Clark's trip through the backwaters of their hometown -- only to be stopped by police and for his friend to discover, through the cops, that he isn't, after all, a citizen and end up being deported. The voices heard in Urrea's stories are ones we don't often hear in "mainstream" Anglo fiction, so I'd seek this out if only for that reason, but the reason to stick to these stories is the writing, which is excellent. 4.1 stars.

108. Lenin on the Train by Catherine Merridale


There's a famous picture of Lenin addressing the crowds at the Finland Station in Petrograd in early 1917, just after his return to the city and the country of his birth. And there's a general story (known to history buffs) that he made that return to Russia in a "sealed train" thanks to the good offices of the Russians, who had a vested interest in stirring up further dissension in Russia in the wake of the Tsar's abdication and the Feb/March revolution. This is the backstory -- how Lenin ended up in Switzerland, how the Germans cast about for candidates for the muck-racking, the British attempts to prevent his entry, and the famous journey itself (including such details as the existence of first and second class carriages, ironic indeed for the Bolshevik travelers, and Lenin's obsessive loathing of tobacco smoking.) Intriguing, if not as compelling reading as Helen Rappaport's collection of bird's eye oral history chronicles of the two 1917 revolutions themselves. 4.2 stars.

109. The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley


This was a re-read, via audiobook, of a historical fiction/time travel/time slip novel that I remembered reading not at all, which should say something, shouldn't it? And yet it was just the ticket, given that I was listening to it during one of the pesky and interminable migraines I'm enduring this spring. Our heroine returns to the house she and her recently-deceased sister had long viewed as their only stable childhood/youth "home" -- a manor house in Cornwall complete with a rose nursery beside it. The brother and sister beside it are struggling to make ends meet, so she pitches in, but as she does so, slips back in time to the plotting surrounding the early Jacobite revolts. Kearsley ends up playing a lot more games than one might expect with the time slip theme, as the reader who persists until the end discovers. Better than some of her later books, but still confined by the genre. 3.7 stars

110. Testimony by Scott Turow


This doesn't live up to the promise of the cover image, or the ideas in the plot, though it is an interesting premise and the writing is more than competent. Ultimately, it feels like the outline of a novel, with characters who are sketched out rather than fully developed, and a plot that plods alone for the most part, with the bulk of the action taking place off-stage, until Turow suddenly remembers this and throws in an episode of violence or excitement. This herky-jerky pacing and mostly plodding narrative, in which characters discuss what has happened or will happen elsewhere, rather than letting the reader SEE what IS happening, does a disservice to the plot, which revolves around the potentially fascinating question of whether the disappearance of a group of several hundred Roma in Bosnia is due to a war crime, and if so, by whom? The answer turns out to be far more complicated than it first seems to the intrepid American lawyer drafted to oversee the case at the Hague war crimes court, and the whole plot deserves a much better execution than this on-again/off-again effort, followed by an abrupt WTF? conclusion. The 3.6 stars are for the idea/plot, not the execution of it.

50Whisper1
May 7, 2017, 6:44pm Top

I'm stopping by to see what you are reading. As always, I come away very awestruck!

I hope all is well with you. All good thoughts are sent your way on this rainy, then sunny, rainy, then sunny Sunday.

The opening poem is incredible. I have not heard of this author. I will search for more poetry.

51PawsforThought
May 7, 2017, 7:20pm Top

>49 Chatterbox: Glad to hear you've given The Radium Girls such a high rating. I bought it last year but haven't got around to reading it yet. Seems really good, though.

52elkiedee
May 8, 2017, 12:06am Top

>51 PawsforThought: Yes, I'm glad to hear that too. It's on offer for Kindle (UK) just now.

53Chatterbox
May 8, 2017, 2:01pm Top

>50 Whisper1: I discovered Cavafy in my early 20s and own a hardcover copy of the relatively recent anthology of his complete poems as the paperback "selected" poetry I bought at age 22 was falling apart! One of my faves of his is "Waiting for the barbarians" (it's where Coetzee got his title...) and the imagery in that is striking, concluding with the idea that the barbarians for which everyone is waiting "were a kind of solution." (Sounds rather familiar to anyone who has ever thought about geopolitics, no?) He was of Greek descent and living in Egypt (Alexandria) in the final days of that community's glory, as nationalism was gaining ground, but he died in 1933 before the days of pan-Arabism would have forced him to see what has happened since. Nonetheless, the fact that he was gay still made him an outsider. There's a big difference between his published and unpublished poems as to how explicitly they reveal his homosexuality, which made reading the complete edition of the poems so interesting. In the published works, you have to read between the lines.

>51 PawsforThought: I had had this ARC sitting on my Kindle from NetGalley, and am very glad to have finally pushed myself to read it, thanks to the non-fiction challenge! Do try to pick it up cheaply if you can.

Other big wins for me lately have been Golden Hill by Francis Spufford and Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood. I'm also really enjoying an ARC of Young Radicals by Jeremy McCarter, due out next month, about five young American idealists of a century ago, including John Reed and Walter Lippmann.

54PawsforThought
May 8, 2017, 3:55pm Top

>53 Chatterbox: I already have it! As I said, I bought it last year, but I just haven't read it yet. There was a really good episode about them on one of my favourite podcasts years ago, which piqued my interest so when I saw the book I bought it at once.

55benitastrnad
Edited: May 8, 2017, 4:20pm Top

#53 & 54
Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women was featured on the New York Times Book Review podcast two weeks ago and hearing the interview was incentive enough to put it on my TBR list.

56Chatterbox
May 8, 2017, 6:37pm Top

112. Reading Turgenev by William Trevor


A short novel always twinned with My House in Umbria (which I didn't read), this tells the story of a young woman who traps herself in a marriage with an older man and his hostile old maid sisters to escape her life in the country, only to find that she has exchanged one cage for another. She finds a brief escape in sharing a fantasy of what her life might be, visiting her ill cousin and reading books with him, but on his death, escapes into a more intense fantasy still, one that turns her family and the entire town upside down. Not Trevor's best, but still an intensely moving portrait of a claustrophobic community and a young woman who is aimless and drifting.

113. Mozart's Starling by Lyanda Lynn Haupt


Mozart had a starling able to sing back to him the theme from one of his piano concertos: true fact. That's the starting point for the author's delightful book that juxtaposes her exploration of what impact owning a starling actually has, via first-hand experiments (she adopts a baby starling and raises Carmen in her home...) with all kinds of details about ornithology, birds in Europe in the 18th century and Mozart's music, including, famously, Papageno the bird-catcher in "The Magic Flute". A delightful journey, even if it's more ornithology and less music than I anticipated. 4.5 stars.

114. Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue


This was a fascinating and very well written debut novel, and very timely as well, by a Cameroonian/American author (who won the PEN/Faulkner award for her efforts) about a family of Cameroonian immigrants in New York, chasing the dream. Encouraged by a hustling lawyer, Jende Jonga is basing his unlikely claim for refugee status on his insistence that his wife's father will try to kill him if he returns to Cameroon. It's bogus, but if it works... Meanwhile, his wife, Neni, and their young son have joined him in New York, where she can pursue her dream of becoming a pharmacist now that his successful cousin (a green card holder!) has set him up with a job as driver for a top banker at Bear Stearns. But it's 2007, and the clock is ticking, and the dysfunctionality within Clark Edwards' family may take its toll on Jende and Neni even as deportation becomes more and more likely... 4.5 stars.

115. The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan


Amy Tan has penned an epic multi-generational saga, starting in Shanghai pre-WW1 at a high-end courtesan house owned by American-born Lulu. When Lulu has to leave Shanghai amid riots, she and her young teenage daughter (half-Chinese) are separated by one of a number of evil and manipulative men, and Violet is forced to become a courtesan herself. Soon, there are three generations of mothers and daughters and blighted love stories, and improbable coincidences, and evil men and good men, and women working together, etc. It's entertaining, and well written, as long as you can suspend your disbelief and look on it as what it is: a better than average romantic saga, designed to entertain and eventually to be forgotten. 3.75 stars.

116. The Agent Runner by Simon Conway


I picked this up at the library, lured into reading it because of a lot of cover blurbs and awards for the author (Ian Fleming Silver Dagger, etc.) Really? I thought it was very predictable and tedious. Yes, there are some corrupt, devious and violent Pakistani intelligence officials, playing the Great Game with gusto (the only thing missing was moustache-twirling) and a hard-done by British intelligence officer, Edward Malik, born to immigrant parents, and done wrong by the Establishment after one of his agents doesn't deliver. The starting point is bin Laden's assassination, but then it goes off into a confusing welter of double and triple crosses that I rapidly ceased to care much about, and a romance sub-plot that never struck me as convincing. Avoid. 2.4 stars.

117. Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare by Giles Milton


Not up to Milton's usual standards, alas, or perhaps it's just that I've read too much about British espionage in this era (Ben Macintyre, et al.) Yes, the book introduced me to a few new characters, but each chapter was devoted to a new kind of high jinks, or a new adventure, and the whole thing ended up reading like a boy's adventure yarn, lacking a unifying theme or thread. Worth reading if you haven't read much about the skulduggery during WW2, but otherwise, you can safely avoid. Competently written, but it was a slog to finish. 3.7 stars.

118. The Devil and Webster by Jean Hanff Korelitz


This was both a fun read, and very timely, and I suspect the two are related. Apparently the characters in this novel appeared in an earlier book by Korelitz, but I didn't read it, and it didn't make any difference. In any event... Naomi Roth, having helped her university, Webster College, out of a publicly embarrassing situation, was elected its president a decade ago, and now has settled more or less comfortably into that role, in spite of a handful of middle aged white men who resent her and a hostile executive assistant. Her closest friend runs the admissions department, and her daughter has settled in as a student at the college. But then, when what should have been an easy decision on tenure (a professor who hasn't published much at all, and whose sole published work turns out to be tainted by plagiarism is denied tenure) turns out to be the cause of a growing student protest on campus (the professor is tremendously popular among his students, both for his rapport with them and for his easy grading; he also, the reader learns, is African-American...), Naomi's life becomes harder. Herself a former radical, she tries to reach out to the student protestors, but they don't want to talk. They just want their professor given tenure -- an impossibility. (Nor can she discuss the reason, given the confidentiality that protects him.) The situation escalates... Think of any of the campus protests of recent years, and you've got the atmosphere that Korelitz has captured here, right down to the problems associated with Webster's own founder centuries earlier. Read it -- it's provocative, well-written, and a gripping fast read. I couldn't put it down. 4.35 stars.

119. Prussian Blue by Phillip Kerr


The latest in the Bernie Gunther series, this is a little more uneven than previous outings. As before, it's split into "before" and "after" the war, with Kerr choosing to set the "before" segment in the early spring of 1939 at Berchtesgaden, the Fuhrer's Alpine retreat, to which Bernie has been summoned to solve the mystery of the murder of a businessman shot dead while standing on Hitler's own terrace. Because if this crony of Hitler's could be picked off, then the Fuhrer himself is at risk, and Martin Bormann won't stand for that... What takes Bernie back to that time is the sudden reappearance in his life on the French Riviera of Erich Mielke, the Stasi honcho, and an old companion from his days trying to solve that Berchtesgaden crime, Korsch. They make Bernie an offer they refuse to allow him to refuse, but that he doesn't want to accept -- and in refusing, he goes on the run through France and into Germany, a wanted murderer. The "after" segments are weaker (though the chase part is good) simply because there's less of a plot to it, beyond the chase. The "before", however, is a good mystery that could have stood on its own, and I wish Kerr had let it do so. Together? It's a workable mystery, for fans of the series. 4.25 stars.

120. The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer


This was a re-read of one of my favorite Heyer novels, or rather, a listen to the audiobook, which was quite good. I enjoy this as the protagonist is older and more mature, in a Jane Austen kind of way -- able to look at the idiocies of others and appreciate them while not judging them excessively. Ancilla Trent is governess to the excessively spoiled Tiffany, who enraptures the young Lord Lindeth; the latter's uncle, Sir Waldo, and his philanthropic plans that nearly derail his romantic ambitions. Tiffany does get a walloping comeupance, which is one of the reasons I enjoy this so much; even Waldo's dolt of a cousin is smart enough to understand that she's a manipulative, callous brat and give her a lesson. Everyone gets what they deserve, really. 3.8 stars.

57Chatterbox
May 8, 2017, 7:17pm Top

121. The Curse of La Fontaine by M.L. Longworth


More fun details and color about Aix (and lots of great foodie stuff) for readers of this series, and more mediocre mystery, in a tale that involves a royalist society and long-buried bodies. Again, I had figured it out halfway through, and I find a book in which one of the characters can just decide to write a bio of Sartre and de Beauvoir and send it off, unsolicited and without an agent, to a publisher and get an offer from the publisher, to be a wee bit -- odd. Still, this one was an improvement on others in the series. This was the ARC that I had requested, so I've now done my duty and am up to date. I don't know whether I'll bother continuing, though. 3.6 stars.

122. The Little Teashop of Lost and Found by Trisha Ashley


I enjoy Trisha Ashley's novels a great deal. Yes, they are no more than chick lit, but they are chick lit with a sense of humor and a lot of wit and tongue firmly lodged in cheek. They know what they are and never take themselves too seriously. And they provide a great deal of life, enjoyment, entertainment, etc. en route to the happy ending. In spite of being in the doldrums when I read this, I laughed out loud several times. The heroine, abandoned at birth in the moors near Haworth, Yorkshire, returns to her roots to FIND her roots and open the tea shop of the title. And yes, there are recipes... :-) Good fun! 4.1 stars. (With the usual nod to characters from some of her previous books.)

123. A Very Expensive Poison: The Assassination of Alexander Litvinenko and Putin's War with the West by Luke Harding


I would REALLY like to tell Luke Harding that the worst of what is going on in Putin's wars with journalists is not having the FSB sneak in and open windows in your apartments. He wrote about this extensively in his last book about being a journalist in Russia and the whole saga is here AGAIN. Enough already, Luke, this book IS NOT ABOUT YOU. That's something that Harding keeps forgetting, a cardinal sin in this kind of book. It's like a documentary film maker who has to put himself or herself into every shot to remind the viewer that "I was here!" "I interviewed this famous person!" It's a big pity, because Harding has the chops to deliver a great book without the chest-pounding ego trip.
Even with this infuriating tendency to put himself in the narrative all too frequently, rather than simply let the characters speak for themselves, this is still a good narrative. Litvinenko's murder is at its heart, and Harding pulls together many newer revelations about that, as well as putting it in the context of a more aggressive Russia -- Putin's adventures in the Ukraine, and above all, his ties to organized crime. It's when people have tried to explore those, Harding argues, that they put a big target on their backs for Putin, who will tolerate some "democracy" but not any real probes into who are the folks pulling his strings. It's an interesting and provocative portrayal, and has whetted my appetite for whatever Masha Geesen may come out with in the fall. 4.3 stars. Would have been higher had Harding just been able to stop talking about himself as super-correspondent.

124. The Last Hack by Christopher Brookmyre (finished 4/17/17)


The second book in the Jack Parlablane series that I've read, and the most recent, so now I'll have to decide whether or not I want to read the character's backstory or wait impatiently for another year or so for the new title... That said, this is an excellent followup to Black Widow. Parlablane is approached by one of his sources, part of a hacking group, just as he's about to take his first respectable full-time journalistic job in eons, and blackmailed into doing something truly reckless and dangerous -- obtaining the prototype of a new medical device. But there are scores of unknown unknowns about what Jack and his young, female, and black accomplice are about to try -- and they both have far too much at stake to fail. Excellent, gripping, compulsive reading for mystery and suspensive fans. 4.4 stars.

125. Instrumental: A Memoir of Madness, Medication, and Music by James Rhodes


This was overwhelming. I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting, but I don't think this was it! It's good, but a difficult read, emotionally speaking, so it should probably come complete with all kinds of warning stickers and trigger alerts. Rhodes was sexually abused beginning at the age of 5 and continuing for five years thereafter by a gym teacher and boxing coach at his prep day school in an upper middle class part of London, and it's safe to say that that completely destroyed him psychologically. (Not to mention the fact that he later would require surgery on his pelvis and back because of the damage that forcible penetration at such a young age did to his body -- and if you have trouble reading that -- or f**k or s**t -- then you really shouldn't pick up this book.) He tried drugs; he was promiscuous, he started cutting himself, and contemplated suicide on multiple occasions. He was completely numb and self loathing. The only thing that broke through this fog was his deep, deep love for music, and specifically classical music and the piano. In his self hatred, he allowed himself to be steered away from it, but returned to the piano after hitting his lowest point, confined to a mental hospital. Emerging, he pursued a career as a concert pianist -- and a vocation for bringing "classical" music (a moniker he loathes, as much as he loves the music itself) to audiences who may never have been able to understand or connect to the wonder that produced Schubert -- a syphilitic failure, broke and depressed, who crafted some of the most wondrous and heartbreaking songs ever written. Or Bach, who lost nearly everyone he loved to death, and still got out of bed every morning to write music, day after day, composing some of his most beautiful work in memory of his much-loved first wife. Some of the best parts of this book -- for me -- and certainly the easiest to read, are the little vignettes that begin each chapter, which Rhodes starts by listing a piece of music, a performer, and what he thinks of the piece, what it means to him, some details about its composition, the composer, the context, etc. It's iconoclastic, lively and dead on. You could pick up this book, read those, and go to YouTube to listen to the music, bit by bit -- and ignore Rhodes' own story, if you find it too difficult. But we shouldn't find it too hard to stare reality in the face. We do a lot of that already, and it's what enables evildoing to flourish, isn't it? So, this was a very difficult, uncomfortable book to read -- very painful. But it was far more painful for Rhodes to live through, something that I kept having to remind myself. He's very self aware, which helps. Still, it won't be for everyone -- so this is a very guarded "fascinating, but..." recommendation. The final third of the book finally gets the reader to the point where Rhodes is working on building his new career and trying to find new ways to engage audiences in his music -- including playing to people in secure mental facilities, trying to reach them. 4.2 stars.

126. Night and Day by Elizabeth Edmondson


I didn't realize that I still had one or two (unread) novels by this author left on my Kindle (she died last year) but I do! This doesn't measure up to the caliber of the novels she wrote under her pen name of Elizabeth Pewsey (the Mountjoy series) but it's still enjoyable and entertaining -- if you've read A Question of Inheritance, that's the closest I can think of. Set in the interwar years, a British actress with a grown daughter marries a widowed English peer with three daughters of his own, upsetting all kinds of schemes and plans. There's a historic mystery, a few ghosts, and some romantic complications, and some rather good characters. Very entertaining, if basically fluff. 3.6 stars.

127. A Lady of Quality by Georgette Heyer
139. Faro's Daughter by Georgette Heyer


Listened to two more Heyer audiobooks, with much better results for the re-read of Lady of Quality than for the one that was new to me (Faro's Daughter), which left me rather cold. I simply found the main female character, Deborah, completely unconvincing and slightly shrill and hysterical. That may have something to do with the reading, but rather than reacting in a calm and reflective and careful way to the misapprehensions of her opponent, she flails around in a melodramatic fashion -- only to turn out to have been in love with him all along? Balderdash. The relationship between Oliver Carleton and Annis Wychwood is much more convincing, in spite of the equally rancorous start they have and their mutual suspicion. There also were elements of the plot of Faro's Daughter that I found problematic -- why does Deborah tolerate the Irish rake so readily and not see through his dubious character? 3.9 stars for the former; 3.35 for the latter.

58ronincats
May 8, 2017, 8:17pm Top

I've never cared for Faro's Daughter either. One of the few, along with Cousin Kate, that I just don't enjoy.

59m.belljackson
May 8, 2017, 8:54pm Top

>57 Chatterbox:

#125 > Where were James Rhodes' parents when he was five years old?

And the rest of the world?

This feels unbearable and terrifying.

60rosalita
May 8, 2017, 9:04pm Top

>57 Chatterbox: I'm with Roni; Faro's Daughter is one of my least favorite Heyers.

61Chatterbox
May 8, 2017, 9:33pm Top

>59 m.belljackson: He was only able to communicate that he didn't want to go to boxing, but not able to explain why -- anyone who has known small children and/or who has followed abuse cases, where abusers make serious threats to their victims and/or the victims' loved ones, will probably understand why. They didn't pick up on the clues of the behavior changes, which obviously they should have done. He blames a teacher, who also blames herself, for not following up on her own concerns about signs that he was afraid and some physical signs as well -- but she was only a part-time teacher, in a boy's school, and the headmaster told her to stop "babying" the students... It's appalling to read about.

>60 rosalita: Glad to know that I'm not alone with my response to Faro's Daughter; I was disappointed.

On the plus side, I'm having the best experience yet (so far...) with a novel by Charlie Lovett, author of The Bookman's Tale, whose previous books have left me largely cold. But so far The Lost Book of the Grail set in the town of Barchester and with sly nods to Trollope, is very enjoyable, and I need something lighter after a flurry of intense reads (Spaceman of Bohemia, Radium Girls -- which was book #150, and so finishes my second batch of 75 books -- and Golden Hill by Francis Spufford, as well as Alex Gerlis' new spy story.) All were very enjoyable, but I need something lighter and more frivolous.

62CDVicarage
May 9, 2017, 3:41am Top

I see there is a third volume in the Question of Inheritance due out in September It has a second author listed - Anselm Audley - who has presumably finished the book after Elizabeth Edmondson's death.

I found Faro's Daughter passable as a print read but did not like the audio version at all.

63PawsforThought
May 9, 2017, 4:25am Top

150 books?! Well done! I'll never stop being impressed by the speed with which you read. I think I've read five books this year.

64PaulCranswick
May 9, 2017, 4:52am Top

>61 Chatterbox: Well done, Suz, for making it to 2x75 before many of us are anywhere near 1x75.

65FAMeulstee
May 9, 2017, 8:22am Top

Congratulations for making it to double 75 :-)

66vivians
May 9, 2017, 9:53am Top

Thanks for all the reviews! Did I miss your thoughts on Spufford? I just ordered it from Book Depository and would love to hear what you think.

67Chatterbox
May 9, 2017, 4:48pm Top

>66 vivians: I haven't posted my thoughts on the Spufford book yet (just finished it) but I really enjoyed it. He has tried to write a 21st century variant on a Henry Fielding picaresque novel and largely succeeded, without making it feel like a copycat novel. The underlying themes are ones that an 18th century novel probably wouldn't have addressed at all, or only done so in an understated manner; the women are far more fully realized as full characters; some of the characters have unexpected aspects in their personalities or backgrounds (carefully avoiding spoilers) that would never have been tolerated by an 18th century reader. And yet the language is a 21st century version of 18th century writing; the whole plot -- the rise and fall and rise and... whatever! of an adventurous and secretive young man (possibly of means) is a trope of the 18th century and the pacing is excellent, and Spufford does an amazing job of bringing to life vividly the New York City of 1746. I think it's excellent. Which means that of the two novels on the Walter Scott prize shortlist that I have read thus far, I have loved both, and would find it hard to choose between them. Gulp.

>62 CDVicarage: I did notice that there will be a third volume in that series, and I'm glad. I'll probably buy and read it, given that I have read the other two, and hope that the author had a reasonable amount of her original text to work with. One of the things I liked about Elizabeth Pewsey/Aston/Edmundson was her writing style, and her ability to create unique and distinctive characters. I particularly loved the Mountjoy novels, because those characters were so outlandish sometimes -- in a way, I would have loved to climb into their world and meet Sylvester the cellist, for instance. They were larger than life, and yet strangely compelling. Add those six books to the list of ones that, while lacking immense literary merit, are tremendous favorites of mine and will never be disposed of.

For those marveling at my reading speed, I will reiterate that I have no life. I have cats, I have migraine headaches, and too little work. I read to blot out reality right now. When the books are good, I succeed. Cheaper than other drugs.

68magicians_nephew
May 10, 2017, 10:58am Top

The Rose Garden sounds like a good 'um.

Thought the Book Circle had lost its collective mind when they chose to read The Graduate

Hope you are well.

69katiekrug
May 10, 2017, 11:20am Top

Just wanted to let you know I've started The Golden Legend based on your recommendation. So far, so good!

70Chatterbox
May 10, 2017, 5:43pm Top

128. The Lady and the Unicorn by Rumer Godden


A rare Rumer Godden novel that I hadn't read, and I don't know why I hadn't stumbled over it before. It isn't one of her best books, but for fans of the author, it's still worth a try. The story of an Anglo-Indian family, living in an outbuilding or attachment to a crumbling old Calcutta house, whose daughters become caught up with "real" English men with tragic consequences. There are betrayals (past and present), ghosts and lots of history... 3.7 stars.

129. The Alps: A Human History from Hannibal to Heidi and Beyond by Stephen O'Shea


I've always enjoyed O'Shea's books, but I think I'm drawn more to his history tomes than to his attempts at being a whimsical travel writer -- he does better when he is serious (as he was when writing Back to the Front, about his walking tour along what is left of the Western Front.) This is interesting when he sticks to the history of the Alps, but falls a little flat when he tries to talk about his own experiences, from his fear of heights to his muscle man car or the endless anecdotes about Dutch campers. That said, it's still interesting, since it's lively and covers so much ground, treating the Alps as a distinct region, which is certainly very valid, rather than as parts of so many different (and arguably arbitrary) nations. Just don't expect tremendous insights or Theroux/Leigh Fermor style erudition. 4 stars.

130. The Patriots by Sana Krasnikov


This was a very, very slow read for me; I think I kept picking it up and putting it down over the course of several weeks, and it wasn't until I was a third of the way into the novel that my attention was caught and held. That is partly because of its length and partly because of the fact that Krasnikov moves back and forth in time between Florence's narrative of leaving the US for Stalin's Soviet Union in the early 1930s and a contemporary narrative involving (as we soon become aware) her son and grandson, who are now American citizens again. Discovering when the family left the USSR happens relatively early on, as does the revelation that Florence spent years in the Gulag, but unraveling the full tale will require you to forge on to the final pages. It's worth the journey, and yes, the jumping back and forth between past and present is worth it, as Julian/Yulik's version of events (Florence's son) provides a counterpoint to the Florence's third person narration as well as insight and contrast to the post-Communist rule, as Julian tries to navigate it in much the same way his mother tried to find a way to navigate the Soviet system. There's a subtle message here... Good writing, but be prepared for a commitment. 4.3 stars.

131. New Boy by Tracey Chevalier


The most recent of the Hogarth Shakespeare project books, based on Othello, and once again, it doesn't quite hit the mark. Chevalier has tried to make her characters pre-teen kids in a Washington DC suburban school, circa 1974/1975, with her Othello being the son of an African diplomat who arrives toward the end of a school year to spend the final weeks of sixth grade at an all-white classroom where the cliques are already established. But eleven-year old Dee falls for him instantly. All the action takes place over the course of a single day, on the playground, during lunch breaks and recess, with the Iago being the school bully. It's interesting, but unconvincing: it would have worked had the kids been teenagers in a high school, I think, but the idea that they could have such fully fledged emotions was profoundly unconvincing to me. That said, characters and situations around the edges of the novel were intriguing and the setting/idea was interesting. It just -- didn't work. It felt strained. 3.6 stars, with points for effort and creativity.

132. The Corners of the Globe by Robert Goddard
148. The Ends of the Earth by Robert Goddard


These are the final two books in Goddard's James Maxted "Wide World" trilogy, and I'm forced to conclude that they are a departure, and not a welcome one, in Goddard's approach to plotting and writing. Up until now, his books have been very formulaic (yes, I'll admit it), but I have enjoyed that formula: the hero or central character is plunged into the midst of a puzzle and must solve it, but each layer simply reveals a new puzzle that must be resolves, sending the plot lurching in another direction. The books rely less on action (chases, battles, fights, bloodshed) than on plotting and conspiracies. I like and appreciate that. This time? James Maxted, in pursuit of the evil genius spymaster who plotted the death of his father, goes all over the place and behaves like a superhero. He retrieves codes from German ships, teams up with British intelligence to raid safe houses, and even storms a Japanese castle. People try to kill him all the time. There's a ninja-like guy called le Singe (the monkey) who steals documents and murders people, and it's all very action hero-ish. As I said, a real departure. Yes, there's an undercurrent of plotting and conspiracy, but the book lurches between that and the over the top melodrama in an unconvincing way. I hope he goes back to the original approach, involving maybe a single murder to get the ball rolling, after which it's the threat of violence or injustice that keeps the narrative going. I'll give these 3.6 stars.

133. The Coffin Road by Peter May


Oh, this was very enjoyable, opening with a man staggering out of the seas in a remote corner of the Scottish islands (Hebrides? Can't remember off the top of my head. Orkneys?) In any event, he's suffering from amnesia, is injured, and is wearing a life vest. He staggers toward a house, and is welcomed by a dog that he recognizes as his -- but that's about all. He is covered with blood. Gradually, from others around him, he learns his name -- or at least the name he has been going under -- but he has no ID, lots of money hidden in the attic, and there is no trace of the book he claims to have been writing. Meanwhile, in Edinburgh, a teenage girl is convinced that her scientist father, believed dead for the last 18 months after a boating accident, is still alive and decides to try to find out what he may be up to. But when she starts asking questions, people start dying... Excellent suspense. 4.2 stars.

134. Secrets in Summer by Nancy Thayer


Back in the late 80s, Nancy Thayer wrote solid women's fiction. Then she wrote a handful of amusing chick lit books aimed at older women. I think someone told her she could make more money writing frothy, saccharine novels about Nantucket. Maybe she's right? This one at least has a character who works in a library. I'm not sure why I keep picking them up, except to serve as light relief in between intense books. 3.2 stars. Conventional romantic fiction during a Nantucket summer. Yawn. Forgettable.

135. There Your Heart Lies by Mary Gordon


This had the potential to be so much more than it was. Gordon has constructed a split past and present narrative, with one character venturing off to Spain with her husband (her late brother's lover...) to help the Republicans against the Fascists, rejecting her oppressive Catholic family's tyranny. The other strand of the book is told through the eyes of the granddaughter, many decades later, as Marian tries to tell Amelia what happened to her. Unfortunately, there is too much repetition between what we learn in those episodes devoted to Marian's firsthand experiences, and her recounting of them to Amelia. We get to hear twice over, and sometimes three times, about certain episodes, or Marian's emotions about certain things, to the point where I wanted to scream "enough"! On the other hand, some episodes and parts are brilliantly captured and written. It's just a wildly uneven novel and I struggled with that. 4 stars.

136. Darktown by Thomas Mullen (finished 4/26/17)


This was a completely unforgettable book, and the introduction to what I think is shaping up to be an excellent series of novels (I've already read an advance copy of the second and now am bemoaning that fact, as I'll have to wait for book #3...) Mullen is writing about the late 1940s, after a law was passed permitting the creation of the first Negro cops in Atlanta. But they were only allowed to police "Darktown" and had no powers of arrest. Not only that, they couldn't access police records, had no vehicles, and couldn't wear their uniforms to and from work -- work being the basement of a YMCA building. Mullen creates some unforgettable characters -- two black and two white cops as his main protagonists, with some unlikely alliances reluctantly forged by two of them as they try to keep the city quiet and brink a measure of justice. Denny Rakestraw, who served in combat in Germany and forced Germans to tour a concentration camp (the white cop) and Lucius Boggs, a minister's son and child of black privilege, struggle to figure each other out even as they try to fulfill their new roles as rookies. This is excellent. 4.4 stars.

71Chatterbox
Edited: May 10, 2017, 6:19pm Top

137. The Bone Yard by Paul Johnston 4 stars
140. Water of Death by Paul Johnston 4 stars
144. The Blood Tree by Paul Johnston 4.1 stars


These are books two through four of the dystopian series that I'm re-reading/reading -- from here on, I'll be reading books that are new to me set in a future Edinburgh whose political system is based on Plato's Republic, ruled by a team of Guardians. The main character throughout is a rebellious citizen -- a demoted "auxiliary" -- named Quintilian Dalrymple, whose main job is to investigate crime that the perfect republic can't afford to admit even exists, or it will alienate the flow of tourist dollars on which it relies. Johnston has created a vivid alternative world, in which anarchy has created independent city states, of which Edinburgh is only one; Glasgow, depicted in The Blood Tree, is a rollicking freewheeling capitalist society with its own forms of ugliness (individual neighborhoods vote on their own forms of capital punishment, including hanging, drawing and quartering...) Quint is a fierce Edinburgh loyalist, however much he chafes at the idiocies of the rule imposed by the guardians and it's that contrast that makes these individual books so intriguing. Excellent for all dystopian fans.

138. The Verdict by Nick Stone


When Terry Flynt, struggling to build a career as a legal clerk, gets the biggest professional opportunity of his life, it comes with a big catch: he'd have to be part of the team defending Vernon James. And not only does he blame Vernon -- his closest friend until their university years -- for derailing his life, but Vernon, now a billionaire accused of murder, could expose his lies about his background simply by revealing that they know each other. Little does Terry know that this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what he should be worried about, and that when Vernon insists he is innocent, and that Terry has to fight to prove it, that quest is going to take him to some very terrifying places. A great thriller, with lots of twists and turns. 4.35 stars.

141. The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani


Read for the last book circle meeting; famous Italian novel that derailed The Leopard from its all-time bestselling Italian novel status, though I'm not really sure why. It's fascinating, but never really completely grabbed me. The story of an Italian Jewish family in Ferrara -- we know their fate from the outset, and this is a look-back at one young man's relationship with them in what in retrospect look like ominous days but at the time looked golden. Bits and pieces were vivid and amazing, even lyrical, but as a work? Interesting, but ponderous. Part of it may have been the translation. 3.7 stars.

142. Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood


Loved this -- what a romp. It's another of the Hogarth Shakespeare series and this one works, in spades. Based on The Tempest, but rather than simply retell the story, Atwood has fun and plays with it. Her main character was a theater director, booted from his post just before staging the Tempest (analogy to Prosper being ousted from his dukedom). He ends up isolated on an island (in a dilapidated cottage.) Eventually, he has his revenge, when he goes to work as "Mr. Duke" (get it?) at a correctional facility, working with prisoners to read and stage Shakespeare plays. When his former nemesis surfaces once more, this time to shut down the program, but decides to have a photo op before that happens, the stage is set for "Prospero" to summon Caliban and Ariel -- whoops, his actors -- in one of the most amazing renderings of "The Tempest" ever. Tremendously imaginative, and excellent prose. Read this, laugh and have fun. There's even a neat little summary of the play at the end to remind you, but Atwood's touch is light and deft. The full 5 stars.

143. Magna Carta: The Birth of Liberty by Dan Jones


This is a fairly straightforward and well-written/accessible canter through the history of the Plantagenet kings' conflicts with their barons and what led up to the fateful meeting at Runnymede in 1215, as well as what actually the Magna Carta contains -- the contents may surprise many ardent fans of today's democracy movements, as much as what it now stands for may astonish the barons who fought for the right to do what they wanted without the king stealing from them. Basically, it was all about a tussle between two different kinds of tyrannies, and had nothing to do with handing over rights to the populace as a whole. Only with the passage of time and the change in the demographic makeup and economic power of different groups of people in England would it take on different meanings. Alas, while Jones does address that in his final chapter, it's in the form of a kind of brisk epilogue -- I would have been interested in understanding in more detail just how a feudal document became foundational to modern-day democracies and he somehow lets that slide by, over-simplifying. So I'll have to look elsewhere. Read this for an understanding of the Charter itself and the politics of the era, however -- I should have remembered that Jones is essentially a medieval/late medieval historian and not a historian of political thought or anyone of that ilk, and governed my expectations accordingly. 3.9 stars.

145. The Book Thieves: The Nazi Looting of Europe's Libraries and the Race to Return a Literary Inheritance by Anders Rydell


This sounded as if it might be like The Rape of Europa by Lynn Nicholas (excellent -- 5 stars) or The Monuments Men (for all the hype, I found it mediocre), but devoted to books. Unfortunately, it was very unfocused, as if they author really couldn't decide what he was writing about. Was it a book about the Holocaust? About Nazism and its ideology? About the seizing and restoration of books? It lurched all over the place. As an example, there is an entire chapter about the Jewish community in Thessaloniki -- interesting in its own way, and very important in a broader story about the war, the Holocaust etc -- that contained not a single word about books or libraries. Again - read the title. That was the most extreme example, but it kept happening. And then suddenly there would be a fascinating chapter, like that about the Russian library in Paris, and its fate. It was just a mess of a book, with fascinating information, and VERY frustrating to read. 3.5 stars

146. Lightning Men by Thomas Mullen


Book #2 in this wonderful new series (hurrah!!) set in Atlanta and featuring the difficulties as the African-American policemen settle into their new roles. That isn't the only problem, as the neighborhood that Rakestraw lives in now has three African American families living there, and his brother in law is determined to get them out -- and one of the families is related to one of the Negro policemen. It all gets very complicated indeed -- and Boggs' relationship with his fiancée is one of the things on the line (she is from a lower class of black family, and his minister father doesn't approve). Very nuanced, fascinating. This book takes the tale up to 1950, the Korean War and McCarthy, so a long way from civil rights marches... 4.4 stars.

147. The Windfall by Diksha Basu


A mildly amusing story about an Indian family that strikes it big when the paterfamilias strikes it big and sells off his company for $20 million. They decide to "shift" -- aka to move -- to a wealthy suburb in search of more creature comforts but find more than they bargain for. It's a bit heavy-handed, and the MESSAGE is spelled out in lights that were too bright for my taste. 3.4 stars. But entertaining, nonetheless.

72brodiew2
Edited: May 10, 2017, 7:12pm Top

Hello Chatterbox.

>129 Love the cover on 'The Alps'.

>138 The Verdict sounds pretty good.

>146 I thought Darktown very good and knew this was coming, but didn't realize it was already available. I'm glad t hear it is on par with the first.

73Chatterbox
May 10, 2017, 9:20pm Top

>72 brodiew2: I confess to finding the cover as appealing as the book itself -- absolutely perfect for the topic and approach!

I hate to tell you that Lightning Men won't be out until September. I got an advance copy via NetGalley; if you sign up with them as a reviewer and put in a request, there's a chance you could get it too? (I'm assuming that you do some reading digitally...)

I was very pleasantly surprised by The Verdict; was afraid it would be a little heavy-handed, but nope! Lots of great plot twists.

74LizzieD
May 10, 2017, 11:23pm Top

Dropping out of lurk to thank you for the BBs. I won't run out of books to lust after as long as you keep reading and posting!
I'm happy that you loved Hag-Seed as much as I did.

75avatiakh
May 10, 2017, 11:41pm Top

Lots of interesting reading going on here that I'll have to check out.
Just want to draw your notice to few Antipodean novels that might appeal: Sarah Quigley has a new one, The Suicide Club; Jackie French's Miss Lily's lovely ladies (first in a series that examine women’s changing roles in the 20th century) ; The lost pages by Marija Peričić about Max Brod & Frank Kafka, just won a top award in Australia.

http://beattiesbookblog.blogspot.co.nz/2017/04/brave-new-novel-from-sarah-quigle...

76Chatterbox
Edited: May 10, 2017, 11:51pm Top

>74 LizzieD: Always happy to oblige... The reading is keeping me (kind of) sane right now.

>75 avatiakh: I'll definitely want to look for the Sarah Quigley book, whenever it's available in the UK or here; thanks for the heads up! I'll also check out the others...
ETA: The Quigley book and the other one I'd have to get from Book Depository, which is a last-ditch choice for me (they have screwed me over so often, canceling orders and then making the books available at a higher price, that I don't want to do business with them.) But The Lost Pages is one of those oddities that pops up as being available as an audiobook but in no other format, so I've used my remaining Audible credit to add it to my library...

77charl08
Edited: May 11, 2017, 2:55am Top

How great Dark town has a good sequel - look forward to getting my hands on that.

I found the modern storyline of The Patriots slower going than the historical one, at first, but overall a stand out book for me.

78avatiakh
May 11, 2017, 4:38am Top

>76 Chatterbox: I found it very hard to track down The Lost Pages when the Vogel Award was announced a couple of weeks ago. I found it a day or so later on kindle at amazon.au which is my default kindle site. I was interested in the plot as I had read about the court case at the time, though it never occurred to me to write a book about it.

The Quigley book looks good, I've read her The Conductor and Shot. I'm lucky to be able to request her latest and the Jackie French from the library, they're both on order. I hope they eventually turn up on amazon kindle, they're already available on the Australian amazon site.

79jnwelch
May 11, 2017, 9:52am Top

So much good reading! I loved Hag-Seed and Darktown, too. I didn't know there was a Darktown sequel. Off to look for it now.

80Chatterbox
May 11, 2017, 10:55am Top

>79 jnwelch: Just to repeat my caveat: while I'm warbling enthusiastically about the Darktown sequel, it won't be widely available until September, unless you are lucky enough to lay hands on an ARC or digital ARC. The US publication date is mid-September, I believe. Sorry for having read this so far in advance, but it does speak to how good Darktown is for those who haven't read that yet...

81Chatterbox
Edited: May 11, 2017, 5:10pm Top

149. Golden Hilll by Francis Spufford


First things first: I loved this book. If the rest of the nominees for this year's Walter Scott Prize are of such high caliber, I'm going to have a tough time picking a favorite. As it is, both this and Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift are great. Oh dear. Next: it's a 21st century twist on an 18th century picaresque novel of the kind that Henry Fielding might have written, with a protagonist who romps and roisters his way through the New York City of 1746 (to some degree.) He shows up on a ship after the transatlantic crossing and immediately presents a bill for a large amount to a New York merchant -- a sum so large that it will clear out the counterparty, who keeps very little cash on hand (indeed, real money, as opposed to trade goods, aren't a feature of the city's life.) Thankfully, nothing can be settled for 60 days anyway, or until a second copy of the bill arrives on another vessel, the Antelope. The merchant, possessor of two very different daughters who find the mysterious Mr. Smith intriguing for different reasons, very much hopes that he will be proven to be a fraud and forger, in which case he can deliver him up to the swift justice of the New York authorities. But meanwhile, everyone else tries to figure what Mr. Smith intends to do with his riches, which could be enough to tip the balance of political power in the colony, should he so choose. But everyone in the city seems to have secrets, from the man who becomes Mr. Smith's closest friend and nearly his nemesis, to the young woman who entrances him -- and especially Mr. Smith himself -- and it isn't until the final pages that all is revealed. Some of the details, the plot twists and turns, involve details that no 18th century audience would have tolerated (though the characters in question undoubtedly behaved this way in real life...) and in some cases, a 21st century element creeps into the plot -- but by the time it does, the reader doesn't really care. And yes, I'm tiptoeing to avoid spoilers. Read this -- in spite of the author's use of half-18th century lingo (modified to suit contemporary ears/eyes) it's a rollicking good adventure when you are into it. Very highly recommended; 4.6 stars.

150. The Radium Girls by Kate Moore


Also highly recommended and unputdownable is this non-fiction book about the "radium girls": the teenagers and young women recruited to paint in a special radium compound the numbers on radium clocks and watches beginning in about 1917 and continuing from then. The problem? In contrast to the practice in Europe, US manufacturers trained these artisans to make the fine points required on their ultra-thin paintbrushes by putting them in their mouths and shaping it into a tiny tip between their teeth. Radium, in 1917, was thought of as a wonder substance, but the company's founder, at least, knew it to be dangerous, and yet the practice continued -- even after the women began developing mysterious aches and pains. Even after they started losing teeth and experience unhealed abscesses. Even after the women's horrified dentists, when removing a tooth, ended up pulling out a piece of jawbone along with it. It turned out that the radium had eaten into their bones, turning it into honeycomb. And any woman that survived that, faced sarcomas. Whether it took five years or decades, "radium poisoning" claimed their lives -- but the companies involved fought tooth and nail to stop word of this from reaching women still being told to paint the radium clocks and watches this way, to stop this from being designated an occupational disease, and above all to compensate the women for their pain and suffering. It's a horrifying reminder of what unchecked corporate greed can do, and why we need oversight from the EPA and other organizations. The coda, which deals with events in the late 1970s, is particularly chilling. Read this... It's compelling and important, and very readable, if sad and occasionally gruesome in its details. 4.8 stars.

151. Vienna Spies by Alex Gerlis


The new book (so far only in the UK, I think) by an author I think isn't getting enough recognition among those who enjoy espionage yarns. Enough with the "same story all over again" sagas by Daniel Silva or Alex Berenson -- each of the three books to date by Alex Gerlis (all revolving around WW2), while more or less involving the same cast of characters to some extent, has been very distinctive and compelling, and very real, in the sense that there is no guarantee that there will be a "happy ever after" ending. You just don't know where the chips will fall, in my experience with Gerlis. There are double and triple crosses, and lots of suspense and complexity in the plot. No, it's not super fast-paced (in the sense that there's a cliff-hanger at the end of every chapter) but I'm OK with that. This one is set toward the end of WW2, when British spymasters realize that Vienna will end up in the Soviet zone of occupation/influence, and try to position themselves for that outcome. How can they ensure the best possible outcome for "free" elections? Why, by dispatching some spies to tilt the outcome, sending them into Nazi-held territory where a democratic leader has been in hiding for years, to make contact. But can Rolf and Katharina reach him before the famous Soviet spy beats them to it? Both teams are at a disadvantage, with the Gestapo chasing them... 4.25 stars.

152. Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar


Suspend all disbelief, ye who open the pages of this book... Jakub has been in space alone for months, the sole Czech astronaut aboard the JanHus1, the refurbished Swiss spacecraft now approaching the mysterious dust cloud around Venus. His wife suddenly hasn't shown up for her usual video chats with him and in her place, he has started having encounters with a giant spider on board the spacecraft, one who calls him "skinny human" and who has a taste for his remaining stash of Nutella. Jakub dubs him Hanus, after the maker of the astronomical clock in Prague's town square, and together the two share philosophical chats, as Jakub reminisces about what has led him to this point, especially his father's past as a torturer/interrogator for the communist regime. But Jakub's perilous task (and his status as a national hero) will redeem his father's sins, whether or not he survives -- won't it? Once the spacecraft enters the dustcloud, things get decidedly weird(er), with a ghost Russian spaceship entering the mix. Can Jakub return to earth? to anything resembling his prior life? to his wife? Can he find peace? on earth or in space? Very existential and exceedingly wacky, but very well-written and extremely creative. 4.4 stars. Yes, read it, and judge for yourself. It'll be one of those books you may loathe, or one you can't forget for its sheer creativity and zest.

153. The Lost Book of the Grail by Charlie Lovett 4.1 stars


Until now, I've been lukewarm to "blech" when it comes to books by this author, but this one marks a turning point: it was fun, lively and warm and fuzzy. No, it didn't break new ground but it was a sweet and entertaining and light read about a book-obsessed English instructor and his fellow bibliophiles in Barchester (yes, really) whose grandfather told him as a child that he would be the one to find the Grail. When an American woman shows up to make digital images of all the cathedral's precious digital manuscripts, Arthur is horrified -- all that technology! And encouraging people NOT to use a library, but to turn on a computer to see a book? The horror... It gets even worse when it seems that the cathedral might have to sell some of the manuscripts. If only Arthur could find some other source of money -- like the possibly mythical treasure of the Grail, or the long-lost narrative of the cathedral's founder, St. Ewolda. The result is a literary treasure hunt that seamlessly blends ancient and modern techniques, and incorporates all kinds of Trollopian fun facts with Grail mythology. It's a hoot. 4.1 stars.

154. The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn


This should have been warm and fuzzy, but collapsed midway through like a soggy pudding. Beware, as I may include spoilers in the review, out of sheer irritation. Two time-travelers/research historians are sent back in time to recover what may be the full manuscript of Jane Austen's The Watsons, to round out the author's oeuvre. They pose as recent arrivals from Jamaica, a brother and sister, and join the Austen circle in London just as Jane Austen becomes ill. The whole plot revolves around illness and diagnosing it and preventing it, and Rachel, the female researcher (who's a doctor in the "present") is supposed to ensnare Henry Austen as a way to ensure that they remain part of the inner circle, while befriending Jane, but she and Liam (posing as her brother) fall in lust, with predictable results/complications. There's a lot of stuff/anxiety about changing the time continuum -- i.e. changing history as it happens -- and when they get back to the "present" they discover that they have, to the point that the whole book itself feels rather pointless ((SPOILER ALERT)) because Austen lived to old age and wrote dozens more books and as a result wasn't such a great author. Also, the present that they go back to is radically different for them, as well -- Rachel's family situation is different, and so is Liam's. It's just a weird and unsatisfying book. The first half was interesting and fun, but had the author wrapped it up about 150 pages earlier and minimized the time continuum stuff, that would have made it more straightforward. It was very clumsily handled. 3.2 stars.

155. My Glory Was I Had Such Friends by Amy Silverstein


I got an ARC of this from Amazon Vine because I spent so much time over the fall/winter with a close friend who came very close to dying in hospital, admitted to address late-stage heart failure and diagnosed with colon cancer. October, November, December, were caught up with this completely. The book is about the author's wait for her second transplanted heart, 25 years after her first heart transplant, in a hospital in California, thousands of miles away from her home. Her heart is failing, much more rapidly than her doctors had imagined, and every day becomes more terrifying for her. What sustains her are her friends, a network who rally around to ensure there is someone at her side 24 hours a day in the hospital, to be with her and advocate for her, and hold her through the pain and terror when the pacemaker shocks her heart into beating again -- which happens at first every two or three hours and ultimately every 20 minutes or so. While it's a testament to friendship and courage, it's also a salutary reminder of the limits of friendship, love and empathy. As the author notes first through her example, and ultimately tells her husband and friends insistently and adamantly, only she is the person experiencing this. It is she who will lie alone on the procedure table and have to develop the techniques to get her through it. It is she who will have to cope with the intense breathlessness and suffocation of heart failure. It is she who will have to have her chest cracked open. They can't do that for her. And throughout the book, she wrestles with the question, when is it OK to say enough? There is a fair degree of repetition here, and to some extent the questions and topics raised are so personal as to be, if not uninteresting, then not interesting enough to be dealt with at the length that they are given. And I think the readers heard about her husband's loyalty during her first transplant, at length, about six times during the book. It's wonderful, but it's superfluous. There also are unanswered questions -- why are all her friends turning to her to get her to help their kids with college entrance stuff? Is that what she does? I realize this sounds picky and petty, given the magnitude of the topic, but it detracts from the focus. On the other hand, it does give a very vivid portrait of what it's like to hang out for a long time in a cardiac ICU... (Minus the wait for a heart...) 4 stars. The book will be out in June, I think.

82Chatterbox
May 11, 2017, 5:07pm Top

And now I am up to date!!

83bohemima
May 11, 2017, 6:21pm Top

I staggered through your thread, spun around repeatedly by hits fro BBs.

Thanks, Suzanne. I think.

84PawsforThought
May 11, 2017, 6:44pm Top

I'm definitely picking up The Radium Girls when I get back from my trip. And Vienna Spies sounds interesting - might see if I can get my hands on it or any of the others in the trilogy.

85Chatterbox
May 11, 2017, 7:02pm Top

>83 bohemima: Just don't send me any medical bills for dizziness or vertigo, please! (Or any of the book bills!) But you're welcome. And the thread title DOES provide fair warning/disclaimer. :-)

>84 PawsforThought: It's not really a trilogy -- you could read any of the three, I think, without feeling that you are missing anything. That said, I think The Best of Our Spies stands alone the best.

I should amend my previous comment. Vienna Spies IS available in the US. Only $5.99 on Kindle, or free if you have Kindle Unlimited. The others are very cheap for kindle, or about $11 for paperback.

86drneutron
May 12, 2017, 8:31am Top

Wow, there's some interesting ones in that latest batch. The standout for me is The Lost Book of the Grail. Gotta find that one!

87vivians
May 12, 2017, 10:02am Top

Love all the reviews - and now really looking forward to the Spufford. The Walter Scott list this year has been a terrific source for me - I loved Jo Baker's A Country Road, A Tree about Samuel Beckett and Hannah Kent has one on the list as well. I'm also going to find Alex Gerlis - thanks for that recommendation!

88benitastrnad
Edited: May 13, 2017, 10:46am Top

You got me with at least three book bullets on that last one. And then Vivians got me with another one. I immediately put the new hannah Kent title Good People on my wishlist. I liked Burial Rites even though it was stark, harsh, and unrelenting.

Last night I finished reading The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates. My real life book discussion group is doing a round robin discussion of JCO tomorrow. I have not been a fan of JCO. I think she hates women because I have never found a book of hers that had a female protagonist that I could like. Until now. I actually liked this novel. JCO uses Love Canal and Niagara Falls as a way to talk about suicide and grief. It was my commute book and even though the recorded version was spare and simple, I ended up liking this novel - and maybe coming to a somewhat more mitigated view of JCO's work.

89sibyx
Edited: May 17, 2017, 8:52am Top

Aie! You got me with Mozart's Starling!

And the Spufford.

Hag-Seed was really fine, so smart and so fun. Lovely.

And the Lovett.

I think I'm done!

90benitastrnad
May 21, 2017, 2:32pm Top

I heard from Tim (head of LT) about the ALA conference in Chicago. LT is not going to have a booth. Instead, he and Abby will be part of the Pro-Quest booth. He is not sure if there will be free passes and he is talking to the people at Pro-Quest regarding their company rules. If they will allow it, LT will offer the free passes. If not he is going to try to work something else out with them. He also wanted to know if I was planning a meet-up. I affirmed that there was a group in Chicago who would like to meet-up and that we are still talking about what to do. I will get back to you with more details as I find out what is going on. Just in case - the dates are June 23 - 26.

91Chatterbox
May 22, 2017, 2:21pm Top

>90 benitastrnad: Super! I made enough $$ from my yard sale to finance the plane ticket, and a friend of a long-time friend has offered me a FREE place to stay (with a cat, as well, which is nice...) I just have to figure out which combination of arrival/departure days works out best for ALA and for my budget. I gather exhibits are open Saturday, Sunday and Monday, so ideally I'd fly out on Friday and back Tuesday morning, but a Friday flight is more pricey. Sigh.

92Chatterbox
May 22, 2017, 9:25pm Top

I appear to be addicted to reading mysteries and suspense novels and mindless books in general. I am struggling to read anything of substance right now...

93LizzieD
May 22, 2017, 10:34pm Top

I do believe you're owed some time off the substance if light is what you need now. You'll get back to the heavies.
Meanwhile, too many BBs to count!

94Chatterbox
May 23, 2017, 12:34pm Top

>93 LizzieD: Well, I'm tiptoeing around more in-depth reads -- what feels like it's going to be an amazing novel revolving around all kinds of Arctic adventures and suspense, multiple narrative strands, starting with the Franklin expedition, Minds of Winter by Ed O'Loughlin, and I started Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore last night. But I keep defaulting to mysteries/suspense and/or chick lit, though I also still have at least one non-fiction book on the go at all times.

95elkiedee
May 23, 2017, 2:38pm Top

>94 Chatterbox: Looking forward to seeing what you make of those two - I read Birdcage Walk a few weeks ago and have Minds of Winter around, one of a large number now of Vine review books. I'm reading a book that I've been looking forward to since it was published and serialised on the radio last year, a bio of Angela Carter. Also reading The Poisonwood Bible and it's living up to the fuss but that makes me want to go back to her other work, and I have so much unread to get to. And am reading very slowly and sporadically this month.

96Chatterbox
May 23, 2017, 2:57pm Top

>95 elkiedee: Ever since Vine eased up on the time limitations re reviewing, the number of ARCS to be read and reviewed has been piling up here, too, I'm afraid! Minds of Winter originally came from the library, but it's very large and heavy and I just belatedly got approved for a NetGalley copy, so the library copy can be returned. Birdcage Walk is UK Kindle. I'm enjoying both so far.

97LovingLit
May 27, 2017, 2:26am Top

Bummer that The Graduate fell flat for you (way back when). I was planning on reading that and then watching the dvd- although- maybe it could make for a good discussion at book club!?

In awe, as always, of your books....

98thornton37814
May 29, 2017, 9:47pm Top

>96 Chatterbox: I've got a NetGalley book to read and review next too.

99benitastrnad
Edited: May 30, 2017, 11:30am Top

I am getting closer to final arrangements for the LT meet-up in Chicago and thought perhaps you might need to know what I have found out so far. I am waiting to hear back from the Haymarket Brewery about reservations and seating space, but so far this is what I know.

Who - Anybody can come. Librarians, Chicagoans, and anybody else who wants to be there.
What - ALA Librarything Meet-up
When - Saturday, June 24, 2017 - 7:00 p.m.
Where - Haymarket Brewery. 737 West Randolph, Chicago, IL 60661. (corner of Halsted and Randolph) phone # 312-638-0700
Why - to talk about LT and Books, Books, and Books. (and maybe beer)
How - For most of us this will be a short cab ride from the downtown hotels.

It appears that they don't require reservations, but I thought it might be good for them to know that we are coming there.

100Chatterbox
Edited: May 30, 2017, 12:58pm Top

>99 benitastrnad: Excellent; thanks. I'll bet getting in on Thursday at midday, and there is a Workman "Book Buzz" at the Chicago Public Library on the 22nd that I got into (hurrah) assuming that my plane arrives on time and that I can get downtown rapidly. I'll be lugging my suitcase with me, alas.

101Chatterbox
May 30, 2017, 12:58pm Top

>97 LovingLit: I am not in love with The Graduate as a book, but the combination makes for an interesting discussion -- more so than most books and movies, I think, because a great director turned the very same mediocre dialog into a great movie. What works in a movie doesn't work in a book (IMO) -- so why is that? I would get people together and watch the movie FIRST and discuss them both that way, though.

>98 thornton37814: Only one?? chortle... :-)

Getting a summer cold; trying to fight it off. The noise of people delivering planks of wood to complete upstairs construction frightened poor Cassie-cat; she couldn't find anywhere to hide from it.

102Chatterbox
May 30, 2017, 4:25pm Top

More mini reviews. I have fallen way, way behind again.

156. Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister


This was a clever idea, but executed with only a competent/modest degree of ability. The character at the center of the novel was a real person, the first female Pinkerton agent, but rather than focus on a specific case and have a long drawn out, suspenseful narrative, the author chooses to follow much of her career, resulting in a kind of bumpy narrative arc. We have a case, and then there's a lull, then another case, and a lull, and a big dramatic event toward the end, and then a lull, and so on. And the lulls just aren't that compelling, even though they should have been, because, you know, the FIRST FEMALE PINKERTON'S AGENT. Sigh. Still, 3.8 stars, just for the material.

157. The Devil in the Junior League by Linda Francis Lee


When I first read this book, and on my first re-read, I really enjoyed it. Now, I'm not sure why. Maybe this time, listening to the audiobook, I honed in on the fact that the main character doesn't really experience any "growth". She's just spoiled and superficial and there really isn't any reason to root for her to get her revenge on her equally unpleasant husband who runs off with her money. Yes, it's a funny satire, but?? I'm still bemused as to why I enjoyed it. 3.25 stars.

158. Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick


Just, wow. Philbrick juxtaposes the tale of two of the top generals of the revolutionary army from 1776 onward, albeit two men with very different military and personal styles: Washington and Benedict Arnold. When Washington was dithering and nearly bungling the retreat from New York, Arnold was swashbuckling successfully (mostly) up north, provoking the British and preventing them from achieving their goals as smoothly as they would have liked. But what makes this dual biography and history a standout is the way in which Philbrick so smoothly depicts the personalities of the two men, the way they learn (or don't) from their military encounters with the enemy and the political battles with their peers and with Congress. Arnold, a volatile individual, becomes more and more embittered when not given what he believes is his due, whereas Washington turns into an arch-manipulator of his manipulative underlings conspiring behind his back to destabilize and unseat him. It soon becomes easy to see just why Arnold might have allowed a beautiful woman to convince him to sell out to the British, and why a cold Washington would allow John André to hang rather than grant him his only wish: to go before a firing squad. The only real flaw in this book is that there isn't enough "after all the shooting was over" afterward. Did they ever communicate again? Arnold lived until 1801; five of his sons would have been of an age to serve in the war of 1812 -- did they? Of course we know his name became a byword for treason in the US, but what did Arnold himself write or say in later years? It turns out that he led a very adventurous life (nearly being hung for something else in Guadeloupe, for instance) but Philbrick ends his narrative neatly with Arnold's defection. What is excellent/superlative about the book is the whole question of split loyalties, and how difficult it was to determine these during this era. I was particularly struck by Philbrick's note that by the time of Arnold's treason/defection, a sizeable part of the American population had taken a hands-off approach to the whole war. With the arrival of the French on the scene, they were quite prepared to leave the fighting up to them, and to militias (although the latter were actually quite often corrupt, and used as adjuncts of the governor to go after his political enemies.) What was also striking was the absolute reluctance of each state or community to fund anything beyond its borders, so that suspicion of a national army was very high. You know, why pay for anything that I don't KNOW will benefit me personally? (Sounding familiar at all???) So, 4.8 stars, very highly recommended, full of all kinds of the small details and excellent writing that makes a good history book worth writing, together with a novel way of examining its subject and thesis.

159. Shadow Man by Alan Drew


This book is billed as a suspense novel, and indeed there is a serial killer at work in the small California community where its main protagonist, Ben Wade, has returned to live and work as a detective. But he seems to be just as concerned with the death in a strawberry field of the son of an illegal migrant worker, and member of the school's swim team, who almost certainly killed himself. We learn why, and what it has to do with Ben's past -- and that makes up more of the book than the serial killer plot, and the two don't really overlap, except that Ben is trying to investigate both. That makes for an awkwardly structured book. Also for some reason the author has set this in the 1980s, and yet there is no real attempt made to make it feel like the 1980s, so I'm not sure why. Perplexing. An unsatisfying book in many ways, in spite of good writing. 3.45 stars.

160. The Silent Dead by Tetsuya Honda


Another uneven mystery that could have been much better but that managed to end up being compelling and intriguing in spite of its flaws. A new series to English-language readers featuring a driven and erratic female detective in Tokyo; bits of this aren't always convincing (the superiors really would ignore clues?) but the conflict between Rei and her main rival is compelling and the relationship with her family is well developed. They are chasing a truly gruesome (sometimes too gruesome and over-the-top to be convincing) serial killer, and it's Rei's instincts that get the investigation going, but she has lessons to learn, too... 3.8 stars. I'll read another in the series to see how this shapes up -- it could improve or just get weirder and more violent. If the latter, I'm ditching it.

161. A Lily of the Field by John Lawton


Moving back to Lawton's series of books featuring Scotland Yard's Fred Troy, the unlikely detective who does anything but play by the rules. This one has a lengthy backstory that begins in Vienna in the 1930s, featuring young Meret Voytek, a promising young cellist who only wants to play music. Then the Nazis arrive... Flash forward to the late 1940s/early 1950s, and an even more psychologically damaged Meret encounters Troy in London, as he is investigated a murder of someone he suspects might just be a Soviet agent on the London Underground. It's a bit slow-moving and has LOTS of backstory, but I found it interesting, and by the time the drama comes around... Read it now, because it leads directly into his upcoming book, Friends and Traitors, which deals with the Guy Burgess scandal. I have a couple more that are later in the chronology still hanging around. 4.1 stars.

103Chatterbox
May 30, 2017, 4:51pm Top

162. Ratlines by Stuart Neville


This was a rather good stand-alone novel that has made me resolve (again) to read more by this author. Set in the weeks running up to JFK's visit to Ireland, the Irish government assigns a Protestant military cop (who served in WW2, when Ireland remained neutral, making him unpopular at home...) to investigate the deaths of some collaborators and Germans to whom the country has given refuge. The dead men are part of a network overseen by the legendary Otto Skorzeny, and Albert Ryan has to swallow his revulsion and try to find out what the murderers want and who they are, as they, in their turn, try to work their way to Skorzeny. Soon, he is caught between various murderous groups, with nowhere to turn, unless he can find a way to outwit them. A bit violent at times, but very good and clever. Recommended. 4.2 stars.

163. The Forever House by Veronica Henry


I needed some fluff, and this fit the bill. This warm and fuzzy novel juxtaposes the stories of two women finding their heart's desire in a single house in the countryside, putting past traumas behind them, etc. etc. Predictable but heartwarming. And not silly. 3.6 stars, probably the rating is inflated because it's what I needed to read.

164. Young Radicals: In the War for American Ideals by Jeremy McCarter


An amazing portrayal of the evolution of idealistic young Americans a century ago, and how their dreams of a new progressive era ran full tilt into hard political realities as instead of society continuing to liberalize as technology and new ideas moved forward, World War I erupted, spread to America and gave birth to the Russian Revolution and the crackdown on the "Red Terror". The author has chosen to focus on five individuals -- loosely connected -- from a suffragette to a communist, a philosopher to a political writer and mover and shaker (Walter Lippman); some will be familiar names and others obscure to many contemporary readers. The style is distinctive as if to put the reader in a "you are here now" mood and there are occasional slipups (The Germans weren't afraid of Marxist ideas emanating from Lenin's sealed train; it was Lenin who wanted to be able to claim that he had had no contact with the Germans during his crossing of Germany en route back to Russia.) But that aside, and in spite of the fact that not all of the book's subjects struck me as equally strong candidates for inclusion, the overall tome is a fascinating one. Highly recommended; very, very readable. 5 stars.

165. A Talent for Murder by Andrew Wilson


This revolves around Agatha Christie's disappearance; the author clearly has said "what if..." someone forced the grande dame of murder into committing a murder? Or tried to? Using blackmail and moral suasion? It's a clever premise, even if it's stretched past the breaking point. (The disappearance of Christie came just before her divorce, and was a ten days' wonder; she literally vanished, abandoning her car, and was spotted in Yorkshire later on; she never publicly discussed what happened, leaving the "why" wide open for this kind of thing.) This doesn't quite work as well as it could have; it might have been another Curtain Call by Anthony Quinn, but doesn't rise to that level. The villain is cartoonish, and while Christie is kind of convincing, the plot is a bit weird. It would still be fun for Christie fans to read, but it's a library book, not something to buy unless it's at a deep discount (99 cents...) 3.8 stars

166. He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly


Lots of buzz about this one as the next Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train, but while it doesn't live up to the former, it's compelling in its own way. When the book opens, a couple in their 30s are living off the social media grid, having changed their names and trying very hard to be anonymous -- no photos, no jobs that put them in the public eye. The narrative goes back and forth in time, and it becomes clear that they are very afraid of Beth, a young woman they met in Cornwall in 1999, and for whom they testified in a rape case. But how did friendship turn to fear and terror? And now that Kit/Christopher is off to chase another eclipse (his passion), making him vulnerable and visible to Beth once more, while Laura is left alone at home, pregnant with twins, how will all their past chickens come home to roost? And do either of them even understand what is at stake? Very suspenseful indeed, especially the final third of the book, as things start to flip-flop and spin. 4.2 stars.

167. The Urge to Jump by Trisha Ashley


Another book that I just didn't like nearly as much on re-reading as I first did. Unlike others by this author, I hadn't re-read it previously, but it's an early book by this author, and she is a bit heavy handed and exaggerated with her character's eccentricities. It all works in Every Woman for Herself or Singled Out, but not here, when one of the characters even throws a dead pet off a cliff. That's overkill. I'd still give it 3.5 stars, just for the unusual wit and almost anarchic approach to chick lit, but it's not as strong as some of her others. Oh well. One more I won't feel any "urge" to re-read.

104rosalita
May 30, 2017, 5:28pm Top

More direct hits with your latest mini-reviews, Suzanne: Valiant Ambition, Ratlines and Young Radicals have all made their way to my TBR list. Thanks!

105Chatterbox
May 30, 2017, 5:33pm Top

>104 rosalita: And the first two of those should be easy to find in a library!! :-)

106rosalita
May 30, 2017, 5:55pm Top

Even better!

107LizzieD
May 30, 2017, 11:14pm Top

Another one to the heart: *Valiant Ambition*. Thanks, Suz!

108magicians_nephew
Edited: May 31, 2017, 3:30pm Top

>102 Chatterbox: girl in disguise does sound interesting - a shame it's not.

I was reading a LT Early Reader book called Pistols and Petticoats (horrible title) about women detectives in fact and fiction. It has a lot to say about the Pinkterton lady but also never quite catches fire. I've been dragging my feet but I know I owe LT a review. sigh.

Don't know why Nathaniel Philbrick never connected for me. Disliked his book on the Mayflower, truly hated his book on the Custer battle, and have more or less given him up.

Wonderful book on that period told from the woman's side of things is Defiant Brides about Mrs. Henry Knox and Mrs. Benedict Arnold. Recommended. Peggy Shipton deserves a book all to herself.

I begin to believe that Otto Skorzeny has killed more people in post war genre fiction than he ever killed when he was alive.

109Chatterbox
May 31, 2017, 3:28pm Top

>108 magicians_nephew: ha, thanks for the recommendation of Defiant Brides. I definitely will look for it... Peggy Shipton clearly is no fave of Philbrick's, but then he clearly kind of is looking for reasons to give Arnold a bit of a pass, or an excuse.

Why did you hate his book on Custer? I think I remember reading it, but I don't know enough of the history to have a strong view. If I recall correctly, I found it readable.

110magicians_nephew
May 31, 2017, 3:33pm Top

Suz I just thought he got all the details right and all of the people wrong -- Custer in particular. And the Mayflower book just plodded along.

But then I've been spoiled by Son of the Morning Star which is just amazing about the Custer Battle and and threads leading up to it and away from it.

111benitastrnad
Jun 1, 2017, 5:11pm Top

I have several of the Stuart Neville titles in my mystery collection that I need to get to. Thanks for reminding me.

112Chatterbox
Jun 1, 2017, 10:51pm Top

>111 benitastrnad: I think I have a few more lurking around... Soho Press often has ARCs at BookExpo, etc., and until recently I have picked up the Neville titles saying "oooh, that sounds interesting!" -- and promptly kept picking other books to read instead.

Speaking of which, many of Mary Stewart's books seem to be on sale at Amazon UK (for Kindle) and so I found myself putting aside some of my newer books to re-read My Brother Michael for the umpteenth time. That's one of those books that I've had since high school, so it accompanied me to Belgium and then to Japan, to be re-read multiple times in both countries where English books were scarce and expensive (1970s/1980s) by someone in their teens/early 20s. There are a few dozen books that I literally couldn't tell you how many times I have re-read.

113LizzieD
Jun 1, 2017, 11:00pm Top

Amen to the comfort of our beloved rereads! My mama is reading through Mary Stewart right now and is perfectly happy.
Somebody in our book club put in a novel, Traitor's Wife about Peggy Shipton. It hasn't come to me yet, and I wonder whether it's any good.
I liked Philbrick's *Mayflower*, but then, I knew nothing about the period. And Pistols and Petticoats left me cool to cold.....

114Chatterbox
Jun 2, 2017, 12:40am Top

Oh, God, Allison Pataki. I tried reading a novel by her about Elisabeth "Sissi" of Austria, and it was DIRE. Just horribly written. I suspect she is partly getting book contracts by focusing on women who aren't being written about, and partly because of her connections (daughter of former NY governor.) I just found the first few chapters laughably bad and returned the Kindle book for a refund. I can't remember the last time I did that.

115Chatterbox
Edited: Jun 2, 2017, 3:13am Top

More reviews...

168. My Life With Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues by Pamela Paul


Oh dear. I'm predisposed to love and adore any book about books, but this one promises a great deal and never quite delivers. In the same way that the author's cherished Book Of Books (BOB -- you get it?) is just a list of the books that she has read, and doesn't include notes on her thoughts about them, this ends up feeling like an overly polished view of her life, the same one that you'd hear across a dining room table or in cocktail party chatter and anecdotes. Yes, you get the kind of reflections that are not-very-astonishing or remarkable of a bookish child, and then a lot of comments on what she was reading at different points in her life. Ultimately it's more memoir than about books. Why do some books appeal and others don't? I still don't think I truly understand, even after her attempts to explain. It's just -- vague. Nonetheless, a lot of bibliomaniacs predisposed to love any book of this kind will love it, so I feel somewhat curmudgeonly. For someone who describes herself as bookish, I didn't get the sense of someone whose life is really as devoted to books as, say, Susan Hill conveyed in Howard's End is On the Landing. 3.7 stars.

169. Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald


Since the fall, I've been reading/re-reading Sebald's quasi-novels with a group at the Providence Athenaeum, culminating in this re-read of Austerlitz, which remains a five-star read and a breathtaking accomplishment. It's a book that is very hard to describe; beautifully written with layers of narration, the tale of a man delving into his past and trying to come to terms with it, but also of an entire society wrestling with historical wrongs. Now I can really see how Sebald built on his previous work and how his themes led to this wonderful piece of prose. It's impossible to wonder what might not have happened had he not died suddenly (in an accident, following an aneurysm or something). Certainly, he had been tipped for a Nobel Prize. He is a one-of-a-kind author, and if you read only one of his works, make it this one. I'm glad I joined the group as I ended up learning more about his influences and work process. Sticking with my 5-star rating.

170. Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore


This was an intriguing novel, set just as the French Revolution is moving from its hopeful to violent stage. The ripple effects are being felt in England, where the government is cracking down on progressive thinkers (no revolutions here!) and where, fearful of war, the economy is cracking. Dunmore tells the tale of this stressful period through the members of one extended family, whose members must confront unprecedented psychological and financial challenges. Those who seem to have their feet firmly on the ground, like the successful builder constructing a wonderful terrace of new houses, may not necessarily be better equipped to ride out the storm than the egghead philosopher... There's a chilling mystery wrapped up in the tale, too, as the builder's wife and philosopher's stepdaughter starts wondering what happened to her husband's former wife... The only part of this that didn't work for me was the overly long preface. The way it was structured made me feel as if it was going to be a dual timeline novel, or at least have a bookend -- a finale also set in the present. It doesn't, and that was irritating. So, 4.1 stars, with half a star knocked off for that.

171. A Secret Garden by Katie Fforde (finished 5/25/17) 3.5 stars


One of my "legacy chick lit" authors whose books I've been reading for 20 years or so. That said, this one really didn't work that well. It was a plot slapped together, involving a middle aged woman working on a stately house's garden, assisted by a younger woman also passionate about growing plants. Both end up with romantic interests, neither of which was terribly convincing. The former felt perfunctory, while the latter was simply weird: Philly, the young woman, and her boyfriend, decide that they will be together for life pretty much before they have done more than kissed each other. I don't need graphic sex scenes, but it just was a bit silly and unreal. Oh, and the author misses the chance to have some real drama when the manor house's owner gets involved with a clearly unsuitable woman. Oh well. At least it kept me entertained on a bleak rainy day. 3.3 stars.

172. A Wicked Company: The Forgotten Radicalism of the European Enlightenment by Philipp Blom (finished 5/26/17) 4.6 stars


I've been reading this, off and on, for a few months, and it's a great book, a suitable companion to the author's previous book about Denis Diderot and the "philosophes" who worked on France's great Encyclopedie in the 18th century. In this, he considers Diderot, the baron de Holbach and their extended circle, and their version of radical enlightenment thought, which was far more dramatic a departure from previous philosophical thinking than those who are thought of as the biggest names of Enlightenment thought, eg Voltaire and Rousseau. Most intriguing to me was Blom's analysis of the conflict between their philosophy and that of Rousseau, and his well-reasoned and well-researched argument of how Rousseau's thought ended up contributing to totalitarianism, starting with Robespierre. (Something we forget too readily...) Rousseau was one of those charismatic individuals who managed to have the last word and swamp Diderot and Holbach, and others (like David Hume), which Blom is trying to address. Yes, he's biased, but he acknowledges that (implicitly) and does an excellent job of showing just why we need to remember what this group brought to the table in terms of philosophy, and why we need to retain their legacy as part of Enlightenment thinking, too. 4.6 stars. Just DON'T get the audiobook, because the narrator does a truly woeful job of each and every French word and term. He swallows and mangles them in a nasal fashion. Agonizing.

173. Among the Wicked by Linda Castillo


Last year's entry in this mystery series featuring Kate Burkholder, a former Amish woman who now is a chief of police in a rural community with a large Amish population. Thankfully, given that I was starting to wonder about the sky-high mysterious death and murder rate among the Ohio Amish based on this series, Castillo this time sends her heroine off undercover to infiltrate an odd group of New York Amish, following the mysterious death of a teenage girl. They look more like a cult than a traditional Amish group to Kate, and all too soon, she's finding that violence is part of it all... 3.75 stars. A good change in pace for the series.

174. Mendelssohn is On the Roof by Jiri Weil


Excellent and thought-provoking novel by this Czech novelist that starts with Heydrich noticing that Mendelssohn's statue is still atop a concert hall. He was born to a Jewish family, so this state of affairs can't be allowed to endure, and the order comes down: remove Mendelssohn. The problem? There are no names on all the statues atop the building and at first, the crew nearly takes down Wagner (he has the biggest nose.) What starts out as a farce of a novel (as various parts of Prague scramble to obey Heydrich, while the reader meets other characters in passing, as the terrified workers try to get rid of poor Felix) rapidly becomes much darker, as the ever-present violence and threat of violence moves to center stage. What is funny, suddenly isn't. When Heydrich is assassinated, the plans for the elimination of Prague's Jewish population that he carries are saved, and carrieThd out in "the garrison town", to which part of the action moves. Heartbreaking, thought-provoking. A great counterpoint to Austerlitz, albeit a much more traditional narrative. 4.4 stars.

175. The Decision by Penny Vincenzi


Another legacy author. I think I discovered Vincenzi as an author when I was looking for long books that I could read when living in Japan. Found the first two in paperback, and yippee, lots of pages! Drama! Complexity of plot, if not language or characters. Basically, they are still mindless fluff, and I still read them. This is one I've had sitting unread on my Kindle for a few years, and finally got to because I needed something light and fluffy when I started feeling lousy last weekend. It's basically about postwar England, and class -- an upper class girl marries her brother's army buddy, who is a successful real estate mogul from a working class background, but who has antediluvian ideas about a woman's place. The fun thing about Vincenzi's novels is that she usually manages to keep about three or four plot lines going simultaneously. 3.6 stars, perfectly satisfactory for what it is.

176. The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan


This novel is getting a lot of buzz and rave reviews and I really really do not understand why. It is cutesy and twee and just so sweet that I could almost feel my teeth rot while reading it. The ideal reader would be someone who absolutely adored The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and who wouldn't mind have a bit of light ghost stuff thrown in for good measure. You see, the heroine of this inherits a house from the guy she worked for, who has mourned the death of his wife every since she died, which was also the day he lost the confirmation medal of hers that she had given him. Ever since then, he had devoted himself to picking up random lost items and labeling them as to where they were found. (The text is interspersed with little segments about these items and at first, the reader doesn't know if these are true, or stories invented by the collector for books he wrote.) Meanwhile, THIS narrative alternates with a separate one, in which a young woman named Eunice starts work for a publisher named Bomber, and over the years they become closer and closer. How these two strands connect isn't clear until frustratingly late in the book. Meanwhile, Laura, the heir to the house, must reunite all the lost items with their owners, or be haunted by the ghost of the long-dead wife. There's a sexy gardener who (of course) is very well educated, and a girl across the street with Down's Syndrome who makes all of Laura's visitors "the nice cup of tea." In other words, heavy on the charm, but very, very light on substance. A shallow book; there was a way to write something meaningful, but the author opted for cotton candy and is now pretending it's meaningful. Parts are amusing, but it's faux emotion, and it annoys me a lot that this is getting so much buzz. 2.9 stars, because it's not actively badly written.

116magicians_nephew
Jun 2, 2017, 11:52am Top

>169 there was a nice appreciation of W. G. Sebald in this week's New Yorker.

My "downtown" book group took a stab at Austerlitz last year or so - I was impressed but found a lot of it rather opaque and off-putting. Enjoyed reading your review - maybe it's time for a re-read. Or a look at The Rings of Saturn

117Chatterbox
Jun 2, 2017, 2:07pm Top

If you struggled with Austerlitz, then The Rings of Saturn would be your next best bet. But yes, Sebald is opaque. You just have to roll with that. Maybe read him in bits and pieces, and slowly? It's kind of like unpeeling an onion; he writes in layers and layers, and demands a lot of focus and attention. I definitely found Austerlitz to be his best book, though.

118Chatterbox
Jun 2, 2017, 5:46pm Top

177. The Alice Network by Kate Quinn


This just didn't work for me. Colm Toibin went on a riff at the Hay Festival about authors' over-reliance on flashbacks, and this book, which I was struggling to read when I ran across Toibin's comments, made me think of what he said. It's not so much that Quinn is dealing with flashbacks, but she has two narrative threads going at full tilt here, when simply one would have been plenty. The "main" one deals with a pregnant American in her early 20s, who bolts from her mother taking her to Switzerland for an abortion (circa 1947/8) and sets off to find her cousin Rose, who disappeared during WW2 in France. Charlie, the young American, ends up teaming up with an aging British woman with deformed hands, Evie, and a mysterious and attractive Scots man, who drives them in his amazing car as they travel throughout France. It seems that Rose was tied to a café with the same name as one that Evie worked at during WW1, in a city in N. France under German occupation, when she was a British spy, for the same man, who is Deeply Evil. Frankly, had Quinn stuck to the WW1 plot, it would have been a great story, but it would have been tougher to introduce the needed romantic plot, I suppose. As it is, this is a cumbersome narrative, with two many coincidences and two many strands and characters. 3.3 stars, and all of the interesting stuff is in the WW1 part of the book.

178. Cold Earth by Ann Cleeves


The next episode in the Shetland mystery series, and, atmosphere aside, not quite up to par. A mysterious woman is found dead after a landslide washes away what is supposed to be an empty cottage, and the resulting investigation unearths a lot of ugly secrets on the island. That said, while the characters are carefully developed and the book is well-written, it didn't feel as if the author devoted her usual care to ensuring that the outcome came with suspense (it should have given the actual events, but it all felt a bit perfunctory.) I hope this series isn't losing its oomph. For series fans only; by this point, you need to know the backstory of the characters (who the main detective, Jimmy Perez, is, and why he is a de facto widower) to understand the dynamics of all the relationships. 3.9 stars.

179. Friends and Traitors by John Lawton


This book (in the Frederick Troy series) follows logically on from A Lily of the Field, in that in deals directly with defectors, and that Meret Voytek, a main character in the latter, is a minor player here, while Guy Burgess, who made a fleeting appearance in the previous book, is the focus of this one. It seems that Burgess defected almost by accident along with Maclean, and regrets it, and wants to redefect, or rather, return to England -- and it's Troy who is caught up in double dealing and double agents. Rather good, but you have to be prepared for Lawton's trademark slow-moving style, which will then change pace abruptly and catapult you into whiz-bang suspense. This is due out a bit later this year. The Troy series is well worth investigating if you like noir-ish books with an edge, and unconventional heroes. 4.3 stars

180. The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain (finished 5/30/17) 4.2 stars


Another of the books on the shortlist for the Walter Scott historical fiction prize, but while I admired it greatly, especially the writing and the ideas, I couldn't love it as much as I have the other two shortlisted books that I've read so far (Golden Hill and Mothering Sunday. It's a saga in compact form: the story of a Swiss town and two families whose fates are linked. Gustav's life is affected by the bitterness and resentment of his mother, the cause of which we learn only gradually (it isn't just that she has lost the wealth she once enjoyed, but how she lost it and why, and the fact that the decisions weren't made by others outside her marriage... trying to avoid spoilers...) By the time the second world war is over, Gustav is doomed to grow up in acute poverty, while his friend Anton seems oblivious to his needs or, indeed, to anything but his own obsession with music and his lifelong struggle to overcome paralyzing stage fright. What worked best for me were the early sections of this book and yes, even the flashback portions, but then the book takes a sudden leap decades forward in time, to when the two friends are almost middle-aged, and it felt as if Tremain had hit the fast-forward button, as if she needed to resolve the plot quickly and dramatically. She did, but compared to the previous 2/3 of the narrative, it felt rushed. Still, a very good and thoughtful novel, just not on a par with the other two books on the shortlist that I've read. 4.2 stars.

181. A Distant View of Everything by Alexander McCall Smith


It's always fun to pick up one of the books in the Isabel Dalhousie series when I want to read something light but amusing. The main character is a philosopher, and edits what she herself admits is an obscure academic journal; in addition to being mother to two young sons, she passes her time "helping" friends and connections with life problems (her area of expertise being moral philosophy..) This time, a school "friend" asks her to help resolve a conundrum: did she do wrong in introducing two people, one of whom may prey on wealthy single women? What Isabel discovers proves informative in an entirely different way... Along the way, she learns a lesson about gout diagnoses, about her niece's new employee, and about how to get her older son to accept his new baby brother and not insist on flushing him down the shower drain. Lightweight but sweet. 3.7 stars.

And that's it for my books up to the end of May!!

119Whisper1
Jun 2, 2017, 9:57pm Top

HI Suz. As always, I am impressed with the sheer number of books you read.

120benitastrnad
Edited: Jun 4, 2017, 11:39am Top

I have a copy of Gustav Sonata and had high hopes for it. I think I can safely put it in one of the two U-Haul book boxes I will buy tomorrow and use to store books. This looks like it will be a someday read rather than a TBR now read.

121Chatterbox
Jun 3, 2017, 2:54am Top

>120 benitastrnad: There are a lot of varying opinions on The Gustav Sonata; you may find you like it a lot better than I did, and I quite liked it, it simply wasn't up to the standard of the other shortlist books. So I wouldn't dismiss it completely just because it didn't meet my own high expectations!

122benitastrnad
Jun 7, 2017, 10:08am Top

Good News! I just heard from Abby that LT will be able to give out free passes.

Here is what she said.

Okay, ProQuest is very kindly allowing us to give out free exhibit-hall only passes. The info you need:

Customers will enter this code when they register for the event in order to receive a complimentary Exhibit Hall Only registration badge.

https://www.compusystems.com/servlet/ar?evt_uid=136&oi=9mzor8YRH9nHoIiGjo9vog%3D%3D&company_code=V312

ProQuest Exhibitor VIP Code: V312

See you in Chicago!

For more news check out the thread for ALA Chicago.

123benitastrnad
Jun 7, 2017, 10:09am Top

I am starting to get excited about Chicago and looking forward to seeing you there. I still have you in my cell phone so will contact you when you are in-town via that route. I am going to be staying at the Hyatt Regency and will be there late Thursday afternoon.

124Chatterbox
Jun 8, 2017, 11:32am Top

Excellent news re the passes!!! Will check out the thread. I am just recovering from being smitten by another ugly migraine.

125Caroline_McElwee
Jun 8, 2017, 11:38am Top

Grrr to the migraine.

126Chatterbox
Edited: Jun 8, 2017, 4:31pm Top

>125 Caroline_McElwee: Indeed... In a weird coincidence, I was running some errands today, when my neurologist's office called to confirm an appointment that I didn't know I had, tomorrow. Since I'm in NYC, I'll just delay my departure by five or six hours to accommodate this, I guess, so I can whine to someone that I'm paying to care about the damn migraines!

>122 benitastrnad: I'm not seeing an ALA thread. Maybe you could post the link?? tks!

127m.belljackson
Jun 8, 2017, 4:31pm Top

>126 Chatterbox:

For your fellow migraineurs, it would be welcome to hear the latest advice from an expert NYC doctor...

128Chatterbox
Jun 8, 2017, 5:08pm Top

>127 m.belljackson: I will ask him, and tell him he's remotely advising a whole group of people! He'll be --- taken aback. *grin*

129m.belljackson
Jun 8, 2017, 5:41pm Top

>128 Chatterbox:

Great - I just hope he does not flatly say "Botox," as my PCP did last week.

130Chatterbox
Jun 8, 2017, 8:34pm Top

>129 m.belljackson: Sigh, yes, we have had that discussion. I just don't want to go there. The cost is one thing.

131benitastrnad
Edited: Jun 9, 2017, 5:39pm Top

Here is the link to the LT ALA thread.

https://www.librarything.com/topic/257588

The link to the passes is on that thread. Here it is, along with the note from Abby.

Okay, ProQuest is very kindly allowing us to give out free exhibit-hall only passes. The info you need:

Customers will enter this code when they register for the event in order to receive a complimentary Exhibit Hall Only registration badge.

https://www.compusystems.com/servlet/ar?evt_uid=136&oi=9mzor8YRH9nHoIiGjo9vog%3D%3D&company_code=V312

ProQuest Exhibitor VIP Code: V312

See you in Chicago!

132benitastrnad
Jun 9, 2017, 5:41pm Top

Don't forget that there is going to be a Librarything meet-up at Haymarket Brewery on Saturday, June 24th starting at 7:00 P.M. Abby and Tim will be there. I have a table for 10 and it looks like that is about the numbers we can expect to sit down and talk about books and watch a certain Chicago Warbler drink some brewery brews.

133Chatterbox
Jun 9, 2017, 6:13pm Top

>129 m.belljackson: Actually, some interesting news on the migraine front! At least one of the drugs based on monoclonal antibodies (read this: https://www.specialtypharmacytimes.com/news/monoclonal-antibodies-herald-new-era-in-migraine-treatment) is awaiting FDA approval, although a few others failed stage III studies. My neurologist says that's the good news. The bad news is that these will be terrifically expensive, so that anyone trying to get insurance to cover/pay for it will need to get their doctor to certify all kinds of stuff -- why they need this medication vs something else, lots of medical bumph, etc. (It's also an intravenous medication.) Still, it's a next-generation drug.

As for me, we're bumping up the dosage of Topamax (slowly) since the fact that I'm no longer experiencing a weird symptom (I no longer tasted the carbonation in fizzy drinks!) that I began noticing when I started taking it may mean that my body has become accustomed to this dosage and isn't doing its job as well, generally -- that might explain why the number of severe, multi-day migraines has gradually crept higher again. I've also gone back to getting a higher number of pain killers, which is a bummer. I was very pleased to be able to cut back the # of those I got each month, and had hoped to cut them back further, but...

>131 benitastrnad: Thanks for the links, Benita; will check them out, and the meetup will be on my calendar.

134m.belljackson
Jun 10, 2017, 3:53pm Top

>133 Chatterbox:

Thank you and your doctor for the update.

The newest (and not toxic to liver) monoclonals sound promising...did your doctor mention how often the intravenous would be required?

Even though not at all convenient, notably on winter ice, monthly ones sound better than yearly.
If you have side effects, enduring them for a month would be better than a year!

I had restarted Topamax, then had an odd interaction with Hydrocodone,
so stopped Topamax since H. is my drug of last resort before enduring being hauled to urgent care and facing their scrutiny.

135Chatterbox
Jun 10, 2017, 11:52pm Top

>134 m.belljackson: I didn't ask about frequency, I'm afraid, since it seemed as if the date for usage would be a ways off, still. The FDA would need to approve, and then insurance would need to rule on whether they'd agree about whether I'd be covered, so I'll discuss practical matters like that as and when... I doubt it would be yearly and monthly or every other month sounds more likely.

My doc tried to increase the # of Fioricet I'm prescribed monthly -- but the pharmacist won't issue them. So that's now a new problem. He'll have to write a separate Rx for 20 additional capsules in 13 days (!!!) to get around what the pharmacist says are the rules. Though if the point of the rules is to prevent addiction, I'm not sure how issuing me the same quantity over the same timespan, whether it's done in two prescriptions separated by 13 days or in one prescription, accomplishes that goal, because I end up with the same quantity. Of course, it pushes up the dispensing fees, and my costs.

Going back to reading Paul Johnston's dystopian series about a future Edinburgh based on Platonic ideals -- having finished re-reading the first four books, I've now started on the more recent books that I hadn't yet read. Also started reading Laurence Osborne's newish novel, about to be published (next month.)

136m.belljackson
Jun 11, 2017, 12:33pm Top

>135 Chatterbox:

One more on migraines (and sure hope you don't get Heat Migraines): when my Medicare D insurance company reduced the # of
Naratriptan prescribed from 12 to 9 (and refused doctor request to allow an increase), PCP gave me an additional Rx for 6 more.
I paid straight cash for these until discovering WEBMD insurance offer which brought the cost down by about a third.

So, I wind up paying around $40 for 9, then $40 for 6.

I have to phone in refills every month or else the pharmacy bills ONE insurance for both or they fill one for one day instead of 30.

137Chatterbox
Edited: Jun 11, 2017, 1:34pm Top

>136 m.belljackson: I'm already using a GoodRX coupon rather than insurance to pay for the Fioricet -- it's $62 vs $125. A no-brainer. Which makes me wonder just what the insurance company is up to, if they can't get as good a price as a coupon bundler?? (BlueCross BlueShield...)

Thankfully, while it may be hot outdoors, my walls are thick and after the run of chilly weather, it's still a tolerable 75 indoors. I don't even have my A/C installed anywhere but my bedroom.

138Chatterbox
Edited: Jul 28, 2017, 3:51pm Top

June, so far...

182. Where Dead Men Meet by Mark Mills


A bit of an uneven historical thriller, but still worth a read, if only because it's so dramatic and fast-moving. The protagonist is Luke Hamilton, a British airforce officer stationed in Paris in the late 1930s after blotting his copybook in India. But Luke's past has more secrets than even he knows about: abandoned as an infant in an orphanage and raised there until he is adopted, he is aware that his background is a mystery and that he doesn't look like a typical Englishman. But no one can tell him anything, except that the nun who rescued him from the orphanage's front doorstep saw a mysterious man waiting to see that he was found before vanishing. Now it seems that his past has come back to life -- so to speak. Another mysterious man shows up beside him at Paris's international exhibition, and tells him he's been hired to kill him, but has decided not to. The decision not to follow through on the contract throw the assassin and Luke together and begin a wild cross-Europe chase and series of (melo)dramatic adventures that will result in him discovering his true identity. It's all a bit implausible, but a thumping good read. I originally said 4 stars, but would have to knock it down to 3.8 stars now that I've had some time to ponder the implausibility factor...

183. Garden of Lamentations by Deborah Crombie


The next in the long-running Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James series finds the couple on the verge of marital disharmony and misunderstanding, as Kincaid investigates possible corruption within the police force while Gemma is yanked away from her new post to probe a crime in their own neighborhood; the death of a young au pair. The former is more interesting than the latter, since it follows on from earlier books in the series, and ties in to Kincaid's relationships with some of his other colleagues, especially his younger proteges. The murder investigation felt kind of perfunctory, but overall, this remains a sold series. 3.9 stars.

184. My Brother Michael by Mary Stewart (finished 6/3/17) 3.9 stars


A re-read of one of the novels by a sentimental favorite. Yes, these feel very dated, but whenever I re-read them, I am reminded of how skilled and intelligent an author Stewart was; I fear that in some ways she wrote books that would be well above the heads of many readers today, with offhand references to classical works, Shakespeare, etcetera. They also are just very well written, relative to many books aimed at the same kind of reading demographic (romantic suspense/suspense) today. So it's nice to see them reissued with covers that I think do them justice. Anyway -- this one is set in Delphi, in the early/mid 1950s, and deals with the legacy of the Greek civil war between the communists and non-communists that followed hard on the heels of the Nazi occupation. 3.9 stars. Not my favorite, but I'm glad I re-read it.

185. Minds of Winter by Ed O'Loughlin (finished 6/3/17) 4.6 stars


Wow, what an absolutely fascinating book. I've long been intrigued by the Franklin expedition (see below) which vanished without a trace circa 1848 in its search for the Northwest passage -- not a single man survived. That led to countless legends and tales, of course, and these form part of the basis, or at least a jumping off point, for O'Loughlin's imaginative and occasionally elliptical tale of Arctic exploration and mystery. The novel's historic episodes are tied together by the tale of two modern day lost souls in Inuvik, a British woman whom her bank believes to be dead -- an error that strands her without money -- and a Canadian man looking for his brother who has simply vanished from his home who join together, somewhat reluctantly, in their individual quests. The reader is taken back and forth in time, on each occasion a little more recently, to learn about other explorers, from Franklin onwards to those like Amundsen, or the Mad Trapper of Rat River, who all vanished inexplicably into the wilderness. There are kind of sinister and even surreal undertones here -- spiritualism, a pilot who listens for the voices of the dead in the DEW system's radar dishes, myths of a lost tribe of Inuit -- that become particularly meaningful in the book's final pages. This is really about places that are at the ends of the earth, and the kinds of people that are drawn inextricably to them, and it's compelling -- and chilling, in both a literal (O'Loughlin is brilliant in painting a word picture of the Arctic) and a conceptual way. Fascinating. 4.6 stars; probably one of my top books of the year.

186. Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition by Paul Watson


A great book to have read "in company" with the novel above. I've read others about the Franklin expedition (such as Ice Blink) and polar exploration in general, but this is a great book because it updates all the latest research in the field, and most importantly includes all the Inuit news, tales, legends, and history connected with the legends, too long neglected by non-aboriginal historians. For that reason alone, it's worth reading, but the timing of the book is great in another way, in that it captures the hunt for and discovery of -- at last -- both of Franklin's long-lost ships, "Terror" and "Erebus", in Arctic waters in 2014 and 2016. So, if this interests you at ALL, it's a must-read book. I found it fascinating. 4.3 stars.

187. Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe


Apparently, Achebe thought this was his best book, or at least described it to others as the one he liked the most -- it's the middle book of the trilogy that began with Things Fall Apart. That said, I didn't find this as accessible as the latter, better-known novel, which is a classic of African literature and on a lot of syllabi. The story of Ezeulu, a priest, who finds himself in conflict both with his own people and with the white colonial authorities, and ends up with tragedies on his hands as he tries to cling rigidly to tradition when he probably shouldn't, while at the same time being seen by his contemporaries as being too open to outside influences (sending one of his four sons to be educated in Christian ways). Themes of continuity, change, the importance of tradition, the costs of clinging to tradition, the ways in which outsiders fail to grasp the nuances of those traditions and how the Nigerians, in turn, fail to grasp the intent of the colonial interlopers, all sometimes are explained in too heavy-handed a manner. There is exposition -- lots of exposition -- and the book is about halfway through by the time it got going for me. Read for my book circle in NYC and while I'm glad I read it, it didn't inspire me to finish the trilogy any time soon. 3.85 stars.

188. Clutch of Constables by Ngaio Marsh


Struck down with a fearful migraine in NYC, I needed an audiobook that didn't demand much of me, and decided on this -- from the golden age of detective fiction. Technically it's a re-read, but I think I read it once, when I was in my late teens or early 20s, and then haven't read it since, although I enjoyed it then and found the re-read intriguing and suspenseful. Featuring not just Ngaio Marsh's hero, Rory Alleyn, but also his wife, painter Agatha Troy, who takes off on a short holiday on a boat through "Constable country" (the fenlands) with some very odd companions -- one of whom is the "Jampot", a ruthless criminal mastermind and murderer. The framing device is Alleyn, recounting the case to students later. An excellent denouement, which inspired me to download another of its ilk, only to find I'm struggling with that one... :-( This one gets 4 stars, though.

189. The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg


Elizabeth Berg isn't known for writing "whimsy" feel-good novels (think, A Man Called Ove or The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper or that one about the guy who walked the length of England) but she managed to jump aboard the bandwagon anyway. Oh well. Yes, it's sweet, and thankfully not quite saccharine (but teeters too close to the edge for my taste...) Arthur Moses goes to the graveyard every day to talk to his wife; meets a teenager there. She's unhappy; she's pregnant. Family is not who you are related to, but who you choose to build your life together with. Very cliché. 3.7 stars, since Berg can write well.

190. The Prisoner of Guantanamo by Dan Fesperman


A nice, chunky suspense novel that feels a bit dated (it was first published about a decade ago, and has been sitting on my Kindle for quite a while..) The hero is a Guantanamo interrogator and civilian working for the FBI with secrets in his past. Some of those come back to haunt him when one of the detainees comes up with an unexpected name when questioned, and then someone involved in questioning him turns up dead in a very unexpected way. Then a weird group arrives from DC, and starts questioning people suspected of betraying the country... 3.8 stars. Doesn't pass the plausibility test, but it's entertaining.

191. The Vanishing Futurist by Charlotte Hobson


This was the next in my ongoing quest to read all the shortlist for the Walter Scott historical fiction prize. (The winner will be announced on the 17th.) I think this is a debut novel, and it's an intriguing one: focusing on Nikita Slavkin, an avant-gardist who literally disappeared in Moscow in 1919. Did he clamber into his own invention and zoom off into the future where communism was a reality? That was the myth... Hobson has devised a tale, built around the character of an English governess stranded in Russia by war and later revolution, who becomes part of Slavkin's circle and one of his most ardent followers, that comes up with an answer, as well as a compelling picture of Moscow in the first months following the revolution, when building a new society (as opposed to a totalitarian regime) still felt possible. Fascinating and compelling, 4.35 stars. Still not a top contender for the prize, IMHO, however. (Now started reading The Good People by Hannah Kent.)

192. Fools' River by Timothy Hallinan


Was approved for a digital ARC of the next in the Poke Rafferty mystery series by this author; I'm a rabid fan of these mysteries, set in Bangkok, and Hallinan doesn't disappoint in his latest. One of the strengths of the books is that Hallinan acknowledges the human frailty and gritty underside of Bangkok, in its sex industry, and it's that which is at the center of this book. Poke's adopted daughter Miaow has befriended Edward, whose father is a stereotypical American lech -- lots of money, constantly chasing women. Edward is ashamed, and when his father at first disappears for a few days, isn't too worried. Then the house is burgled, and money is siphoned off from his father's accounts. Something is amiss, clearly. Poke and his Thai police friend, Arthit, delving into the matter, discover that there have been a series of other men fitting this profile, found with casts on their (unbroken) legs in Bangkok's khlongs (canals), drowned, after having been kept drugged while they signed over all their assets to their kidnappers. The typical length from disappearance to death is only 14 days, and Edward's father, Buddy, has been gone for 12 days... Hallinan compresses this story, along with other plotlines involving Poke's pregnant wife Rose, and a young "katoey" (transvestite/transexual) teenage friend of Miaow's, Lutanh, into a 36-hour time period, intensifying the drama and suspense. 4.3 stars. Definitely read this series, but DO start at the beginning.

193. The House of Dust by Paul Johnston


I've finally finished my re-read of the first four books in this series of dystopian mysteries set in a futuristic Edinburgh, in a world where Europe is once again made up of city-states. (Edinburgh is ruled by a council of guardians, originally inspired by the Enlightenment thinkers and Plato.) This is book #5, and Johnston makes two big shifts here: he moves part of the action geographically from Edinburgh to the city of "New Oxford", which opens up a lot more opportunities to explore different kinds of dystopian scenarios (far darker than those in Edinburgh...) and introduces some science fiction elements to the series, which really didn't work for me at all, since the strength of these books until now has been that they rely on strong characters and not gimmicks like technology. Sigh. Some of the technology is cool, like the stuff they run into in New Oxford (the chariots, the communications devices), when investigator Quintilian Dalrymple and his team, Davie and Katherine, venture there to find out who is taking pot shots at senior guardians in Edinburgh and what links might exist to the plan by Edinburgh and New Oxford to team up to open the first new prison in Edinburgh since the "New Enlightenment" regime came to power. What they discover in Oxford is that it's anything but a hub of academic thought and research, however. Perhaps just a little too pat a book, and the ending felt more like an action hero movie. Still, I've got two more in the series to go, so we'll see what happens next. 4.15 stars.

194. Down a Dark Road by Linda Castillo


This was the most recent of the Amish mysteries by Linda Castillo. The eventual solution to the crime had far too many similarities to that of the previous one (sigh) and I could see the bad guys coming a mile away. So my rating reflects the fact that I enjoyed bits and pieces of Kate Burkholder's background that the author reveals during the novel. It was still an interesting mystery, but didn't measure up to the rest of the series. 3.6 stars

195. Beautiful Animals by Lawrence Osborne


Wow, Osborne loves writing about dark characters and situations. In this case, on the idyllic Greek island of Hydra, he presents the reader with two golden girls: the English Naomi, and the American Samantha, or Sam. Sam is more beautiful and younger, but Naomi is probably wealthier, knows the island better (having spent summers there most of her life) and more sophisticated, the child of a wealthy, hedonistic art collector, who, together with his second wife, a petulant Greek woman, doesn't know what to make of Naomi. Sam, visiting the island for the first time with her parents and teenage brother, isn't quite sure either, and is even less sure after the two young women encounter a young Arab man, living rough on an uninhabited part of the island. Naomi insists on helping Faoud, and on going to extremes to do so -- angry and resentful at her father's wealth and attitudes. Sam, meanwhile, is uneasy from the first, but feels dragged into a situation that goes rapidly very, very, awry... At first, it felt as if this novel was going to be about people's relationships, pure and simple, and then it got much, much, much darker. And much, much, much more unputdownable. Osborne doesn't give you much help in terms of how to think about Naomi -- that's at once fascinating and frustrating. I ultimately found it intriguing. And he does a brilliant job of setting the scene, whether in Greece or Italy: I felt as if I could smell the wild herbs and hear the cicadas. A difficult book to read, but for me, at least, worth it. An intriguing author. 4.35 stars.

139Caroline_McElwee
Jun 12, 2017, 6:04am Top

Some great reading there Suz. You got me with Minds of Winter for sure. I have The Vanishing Futurist near the top of the tbr mountain too.

140Chatterbox
Jun 12, 2017, 9:09pm Top

Both of those were great discoveries this year...

141magicians_nephew
Jun 14, 2017, 1:47pm Top

The Vanishing Futurist may have vanished but it has just appeared on my TBR list.

Thanks Suz. Hope you're feeling better

142sibyx
Jun 18, 2017, 8:49am Top

BB with the Philbrick. I read another of his histories ages ago and liked it.

Paul Johnston's series sounds intriguing!

Have fun at ALA! Hope the migraines relent.

143ChelleBearss
Jun 18, 2017, 9:16am Top

Looks like you've been doing a lot of good reading lately!

144benitastrnad
Jun 18, 2017, 8:30pm Top

I am packing my bag tonight for Chicago. I am going to try to fit my wheeled book miniature dolly in my bag. I may have to take my large size suitcase, but that dolly makes it so much easier to get the book moved around.

I will make the final arrangements with the Haymarket Brewery tomorrow. Looks like there will be 12 instead of 10.

145Chatterbox
Jun 19, 2017, 2:31pm Top

Cool, Benita -- I'm going to put my smaller suitcase inside my larger one en route to Chicago. That way, I can use the former to transport books on site and as a carry on bag on the way back, reducing the risk of overweight checked bags.

Not packing until tomorrow. I've had a difficult week or ten days, for various reasons.

146Chatterbox
Jun 19, 2017, 7:32pm Top

It figures that the book that won the Walter Scott prize for historical fiction is the only one that I haven't even dipped into yet!!! Days Without End by Sebastian Barry. I'm not a mammoth fan of the author, which is why I had left it until later, but I figured he was likely to win -- he's a popular crossover author, and Irish, and writing about the American west, so... (And male, and male authors seem to do better with this prize for some reason... Although women write the lion's share of historical novels, it's a good year when they are evenly balanced on the shortlist, as was the case this year. Sometimes, there have been only one or two books by women on the shortlist, and in each of the last six years, it's been a novel by a man that has won. Oh well.

My favorites, thus far (I haven't finished reading Jo Baker's novel, yet) were Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift and Golden Hill by Francis Spufford, followed by The Good People by Hannah Kent, which got off to too slow a start to really grab me, although the second half was truly gripping, and I think she's an immensely talented author with a keen eye for narratives about women on the margins. After that, everything else was good, but not remarkable.

I've really bogged down on the planned Man Booker International read, though. there are still some books there I want to read, but some, like Compass and Fish Have No Feet, keep making me crazy. I think I need a longer attention span... The former certainly will demand it; the latter is starting to feel like another novel by Sebald, and I'm maxed out on that right now. The Amos Oz has left me cold every time I've tried to read it. Oh well. I've long had the Grossman on my Kindle (a digital ARC) and as it won, I may bump it up my list, along with the book by Ismail Kadare, an author I tend to like.

147annushka
Jun 19, 2017, 8:53pm Top

>146 Chatterbox: I've read A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman and it was lovely. A little bit sad towards the end but very captivating.

148Chatterbox
Jun 19, 2017, 9:34pm Top

>147 annushka: Thanks for the vote in favor of it! I read the first few pages, and it sounded intriguing, so it's definitely on my list. I just needed something that didn't sound as if it were going to be intensive while I'm battling heat, headaches and blech-ness.

149Chatterbox
Jun 22, 2017, 8:49am Top

Sitting in Logan airport in Boston, waiting to be wafted off to Chicago and the ALA book fiesta...

150katiekrug
Jun 22, 2017, 9:29am Top

Have fun!!!

151ChelleBearss
Jun 22, 2017, 10:26am Top

Have a great trip!

152LizzieD
Jun 22, 2017, 10:53am Top

WOOO HOOO!!! Have fun! Get books! Tell us!

153benitastrnad
Jun 22, 2017, 7:42pm Top

I got here about 1:00 p.m. and after lunch checked into my room. I had signed up for the event at the Harold Washington Library but was to tired to make it over there. I am going to try to make a twilight architecture cruise on the Chicago River, but that may be full. I do expect to make an early night of it.

154Chatterbox
Edited: Jun 22, 2017, 8:51pm Top

I was at the library event, in part because I couldn't get to the friend's place where I am staying until she got home. (She's an English lit prof at DePaul and doing some summer curriculum stuff.) So I had an early dinner. Screaming migraine, alas, not surprising after a plane flight (jammed full), no food at all until dinner, etc. etc. But I did get a few free books to start stuff off with a bang!

155Chatterbox
Jun 23, 2017, 9:38am Top

Argh, migraine still here. Was going to spend today at museums, etc. but that may not happen.

Instead, may spend quality time with my sofa bed and host cat, a black cat named Mingus (he likes jazz.)

Books to date are the new book by Stephen Greenblatt, Katalin Street by Magda Szabo, and Nomadland by Jessica Bruder. Oh, and something about witches. I think it's a humorous how-to book? I haven't really looked at it yet, it was in the swag bags from yesterday.

156thornton37814
Jun 23, 2017, 12:49pm Top

>155 Chatterbox: I awoke with one this morning too. My plans also changed as a result. The cats were happy to help me take advantage of the darkest room I could find at the moment. Fortunately it's beginning to ease a little. It's still there, and I am being cautious about what I eat, but I can now eat a little.

157magicians_nephew
Jun 23, 2017, 1:28pm Top

>153 benitastrnad: the architecture river cruse of Chicago is a must! Hope yuo can snare a place.

158m.belljackson
Jun 23, 2017, 5:03pm Top

Migraines could partly be the weather changes...?

If you can get an in-house hotel massage that focuses on feet, you might get a lot of relief.

I found that Butalbital (Fioricet) can cause rebound headaches, so switched to Naratriptan.
It does not act as fast as Butalbital's semi-speed high, but so far doesn't rebound.

If you cannot overcome it at all, a quarter of a Hydrocodone early in the evening before sleeping
usually takes it away...like Butalbital, over a half a tablet easily yields a rebound.

Good Luck! & Doctor can call Rx into closest pharmacy.

159Chatterbox
Jun 23, 2017, 10:57pm Top

>156 thornton37814: It turned into such a beautiful day here that I am very annoyed about this. But I just knew that if I tried to go anywhere noisy and crowded, my head will completely explode.

>157 magicians_nephew: Echo that; the cruise is fabulous.

>158 m.belljackson: I've not had rebound headaches, that I'm aware of -- I can cut off the Fioricet altogether and nothing changes with the headache patterns, so... Am not staying in a hotel, but at a friend of a friend's. Am equipped with LOTS of ice packs, which help. The triptans aren't great for me, as they send my already low blood pressure plummeting, and cause me to black out. Eagerly awaiting the next gen of migraine meds!!

Home with too many ARCs to count. Update tomorrow.

160LizzieD
Jun 23, 2017, 11:22pm Top

I devoutly hope that the migraine is gone and that you're enjoying the experience! Benita too!!!

161benitastrnad
Jun 23, 2017, 11:59pm Top

I couldn't get the river cruise last night but a colleague and I did the Historic Chicago Neighborhoods bus tour. It was well worth the money. It went through the West Loop area, to Greektown, then the Italian area, Pilsen, Bronzeville, and the new neighborhoods next to the Lake.

Got back to the Hotel then went to McCormick place to register. Cruised through the exhibits for an hour then went to our ALA Section Dutch Treat supper at Grand Lux Cafe on North Michigan Ave. Tomorrow starts at 8:30 at the Convention Center, then at 10 I have to be at the Chicago Hilton for our Section meeting. I will touch base with you about noon.

162Chatterbox
Jun 24, 2017, 2:52am Top

>161 benitastrnad: That bus tour sounds fascinating,too. I feel like I missed out on a chance to see something! Maybe next time I'm in Chicago. Hoping to see my cousin for lunch on Monday and then, after I deal with all my books, to get to the Art Institute or the Field -- tho I may be trying to pack too much into one day.

Benita, hope you saw on my text that I am bringing one more person to the Haymarket. Hope to be at McCormick by 11.

My head was v.v. bad Friday night, and I didn't get to McCormick & registered until 6. I swooped through the exhibits, touched base with a few friends at the various publishers, but not yet Mona, my super-exuberant friend at Other Press, as I wasn't up to "super exuberant"! I'm not sure how many ARCs I have, but a LOT -- probably 15/20? As always with ALA, the galley guide is just a starting point, and publishers have far more books than they list. It's like being given carte blanche to rummage in a bookstore.

163Chatterbox
Jun 24, 2017, 11:03am Top

So, managed to catalog the books/ARCs that I've snaffled so far: 26 of them, all tagged with ALA Chicago 2017. If you are desperately curious, and can't wait for me to post them in my thread, you can look in my catalog under that thread... I've also managed to pick up one of the titles that a friend needed; one of her boxes from BookExpo went AWOL, and now she is missing a bunch of books, so I have volunteered to see what I can do. So, it's back into the fray...

164Chatterbox
Jun 24, 2017, 5:38pm Top

Fewer books today, and some publishers are completely cleared out: Norton, Macmillan, Hachette, Other Press and anyone else who didn't trickle stuff out had their stack of ARCs wiped out by midday. Didn't see ANYTHING like this at either of the midwinter events. Missed several books that I really wanted to get, too. *cue sad face* 21 books today, fewer than the hour or so I was there last night, and I'm thinking I may not go back until mid-afternoon tomorrow. Then go back on Sunday for the last few signings and the final hand-outs of display copies.

Will post a list late tonight or tomorrow... (my headache is back -- argh...)

165benitastrnad
Jun 25, 2017, 12:12am Top

It was good to see you tonight. I have my program from 8:30 - 10:00 in the morning and a panel discussion right after that. Will be in the exhibits about noon.

I also think that there is less in the exhibits but I think some publishers got burned in Atlanta so they are being more cautious. It is also very likely that attendance is very high here in Chicago. Did you see that line for registration at 9 this morning? It was wrapped around and out to the execrators. I have never seen that. I am sure that must be people who got to Chicago late on Friday night. I will see you tomorrow. Maybe we can get supper?

166elkiedee
Jun 25, 2017, 12:20am Top

Sorry for your disappointments. I think Nine Continents must be the same book published here as Once Upon a Time in the East which I thought was a really interesting read, though I did wish my mum had been here to read it so I could discuss it with her. Hope the headache goes away.

167m.belljackson
Jun 25, 2017, 12:10pm Top

>164 Chatterbox:

Sure hope to hear that your heat/weather changes/airplane depleted oxygen air/travel stress/??? migraine lifted in time to enjoy your LT friends!

Along with Hooper, I think the Gauguin exhibit has opened at The Art Institute.

168Chatterbox
Jun 25, 2017, 10:38pm Top

I may get to the Gauguin tomorrow. If I"m really lucky!! The headache cleared tomorrow, and as soon as they finish tearing things down and I ship my books off (by noon/1 p.m.) I'm going to be free to do whatever I want. I think I have a dinner with my cousin, but that's it.

169jnwelch
Jun 26, 2017, 9:27am Top

Nice to meet you on Saturday, Suz!

Yes, the Gauguin exhibit has opened at the Art Institute. We'll be going, probably later in July.

Oh, as we discussed, our DIL is Adriana Ramirez, and her novella-length book that won the Pen Fusion award is Dead Boys, available through Amazon (who published it). Her one coming out in the Fall is called "The Violence".

170Chatterbox
Jun 26, 2017, 10:27pm Top

Gauguin exhibit was great, but the # of items on display was overwhelming -- so anyone who goes should plan to spend at least 90 mins to two hours there and not really do much else. I went to look at the Greek urns afterward, just to clear my mind while waiting for my cousin. Fascinating and very worthwhile, but there's a lot of material to process...

I ended up with 63 books/ARCs from this ALA, definitely fewer than either of the midwinter gatherings, since the # of attendees was MUCH higher and most publishers were picked clean early on. By hanging around until the end of the show I did pick up several titles I really wanted during the "tear down", as publishers get rid of display titles, adding another 7 books for me and one that Mark wanted, during this process, on top of three I had acquired earlier in the morning.

>169 jnwelch: Thanks for the reminder about your DIL's books! I'll look for them when my budget recovers from this jaunt...
It was great to meet you at dinner on Saturday, and to see the other LT folk.

Kinda sad to be going home, although it will be nice to see my felines again. I miss them...

171benitastrnad
Jun 26, 2017, 11:55pm Top

I didn't count my books, but I mailed 4 of those publishers boxes back to Alabama. Definitely not as many as I got in Atlanta, or in San Francisco in 2015.

I am having trouble with my phone today. It didn't ring while I was at the convention center, but when I got back to the hotel it showed three different people called me. You being one. I also have messages from my land lord, and am now worried about why she called. Those calls were dated June 24. We had all that bad weather in Alabama from Tropical Storm Cindy last week, so I wondered what happened. I called her back and left a message but so far no return call, so I am hoping whatever it was, that it was not serious. But whatever, I will find out tomorrow evening.

172benitastrnad
Jun 27, 2017, 12:01am Top

I do have to say that the weather here in Chicago has been lovely. Cool and sunny. I have been here in the summer when it was so hot it was miserable, but not this time. This was Chicago at its best.

173sibyx
Jun 27, 2017, 8:00am Top

Enjoying reading about the ALA meeting -- I attended one in Chicago wayyyyyy back in the olden days (late 1970's)! It was HOT.

174benitastrnad
Jun 27, 2017, 9:04am Top

Getting ready to leave hotel. Will stop at the post office and drop off one more box of books, and then off the airport.

The busses are running this morning for ALA because Hilary Clinton is speaking. I understand from fellow librarians that security is going to be very tight for the day.

I hope you had a great time with everybody and that you got books to make you happy. I had to many obligations at this meeting to have as much time to gather - like I did in Atlanta. I don't think I got that many big name books this time. I think I spent a total of 4 hours in the exhibits. Not a single hour there on Saturday and only about an hour on Sunday. Many of the book I got on Monday I had to pay for. Cheap but still I paid for them.

I am going to be running for office in EBSS, so if I get elected will have less time than ever for the books.

175Chatterbox
Jun 28, 2017, 5:27pm Top

So, the complete list of books! (For those who don't want to look at my library and do the search through the library function...)

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder
The Burning Girl by Claire Messud
Fever by Deon Meyer
A Column of Fire by Ken Follett
Odd Child Out by Gilly MacMillan
The Maze at Windermere by Gregory Blake Smith
Strangers in Budapest by Jessica Keener
Shadow of the Lions by Christopher Swann
Nine Continents: A Memoir In and Out of China by Xiaolu Guo
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

George and Lizzie by Nancy Pearl
My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent
Need to Know by Karen Cleveland
A Casualty of War by Charles Todd
Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson by Gordon Wood
Kolymsky Heights by Lionel Davidson
The Messenger by Shiv Malik
Pieces of Happiness by Anne Ostby
The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne
The Quantum Spy by David Ignatius

The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor
The Child Finder by Rene Delfield
The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine
The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer
Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks
Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss
The Boat Runner by Devin Murphy
Carnegie's Maid by Marie Benedict
Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber
The Black Painting by Neil Olson

Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent
Elle by Philippe Dijan
Tangerine by Christine Mangan
Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller
This is What Happened by Mick Herron
Madonna in a Fur Coat by Sabahattin Ali
From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty
The Unquiet Grave by Sharyn McCrumb
Katalin Street by Magda Szabo
Seduced by Mrs. Robinson: How "The Graduate" Became the Touchstone of a Generation by Beverly Gray

Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna
Woman at 1,000 Degrees by Hallgrímur Helgason
Gardens of the High Line: Elevating the Nature of Modern Landscapes by Piet Oudolf
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam by Mark Bowden
Revolution Song: A Story of American Freedom by Russell Shorto
Rogues’ Gallery: The Rise (and Occasional Fall) of Art Dealers, the Hidden Players in the History of Art by Philip Hook
Keep Her Safe by Sophie Hannah
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Rebellion by Molly Patterson
Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan
The Invisible Mile by David Coventry
A Death Along the River Fleet by Susanna Calkins
Displaced by Stephan Abarbanell
White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht
The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper
Sourdough by Robin Sloan
Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

The Address by Fiona Davis
Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore
Even if It Kills Her by Kate White

176ChelleBearss
Edited: Jun 28, 2017, 5:32pm Top

Wow, that's quite the list of books!! I'd be interested in your thoughts on the Tom Hanks book, not sure how a book about typewriters will sell.
I am looking forward to the release of A Column of Fire by Ken Follett. I've read the first two books in that trilogy and very much enjoyed them.

177LizzieD
Jun 28, 2017, 6:05pm Top

That's a fabulous list as far as I'm concerned. Well done, Suzanne, and enjoy!

178ronincats
Jun 28, 2017, 6:42pm Top

Looks like a fabulous haul, Suz. So glad the headache let up and let you enjoy at least part of the affair!

179Chatterbox
Jun 28, 2017, 7:27pm Top

>176 ChelleBearss: It's actually a book of short stories, each of which features in some respect a typewriter. I'm not at all sure how this will work, either...

Have already finished two books: Nomadland by Jessica Bruder (4.8 stars) and Keep Her Safe by Sophie Hannah (4.15 stars).

180torontoc
Jun 29, 2017, 7:36am Top

Nice list!

181ffortsa
Jun 29, 2017, 11:51am Top

Quite a haul, Suz. Waiting patiently for bullets.

182Chatterbox
Edited: Jul 1, 2017, 8:49pm Top

Well, my box arrived safely on Thursday, and finally got unpacked last night! So far I've read Nomadland, which is a thorough 5 stars (or as good as) and a decent thriller by Sophie Hannah, which kind of goes flop in the final chapters, alas. (Keep Her Safe.) I think the next one will be the giant Ken Follett, the ideal book for a long weekend, followed by Strangers in Budapest and The Quantum Spy. After which I'll have to go back to some of my Amazon Vine ARCs and other reading -- including library books that need to go back to the library, such as Idaho by Emily Ruskovich.

For today, since it's Canada Day, I'm celebrating by reading Punishment by Linden Macintyre, a Canadian novel set in Nova Scotia.

183benitastrnad
Jul 2, 2017, 10:50am Top

One of my boxes came in yesterday's mail. I unpacked it a stowed it away, and then took a nap. I had a headache. This morning I the residual headache leftover, but last night I managed to go out with friends and see an amateur Shakespeare group do "MacBeth." It was very well done under thunderstorm threatening skies. I have followed this amateur group for many years and like what they do, but I do think this was one of the better productions they have done.

The group titles themselves the Rude Mechanicals, and all of their productions are done with minimalist props, some sound effects, but little else. They are great summer evening entertainment.

184brodiew2
Jul 7, 2017, 2:48pm Top

>183 benitastrnad: I would love to see a live Macbeth. It and Hamlet are my favorite of his tragedies. Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood is an excellent adaptation.

185Chatterbox
Edited: Jul 7, 2017, 3:49pm Top

My brother has announced that he and my sister in law and their three kids are arriving to spend 24 hours with me -- in a week's time. This will be their first visit to see me in 17 years, and the first visit ever by my niece and nephew (they go everywhere else EXCEPT where I am living, it seems...) And now I have less than a week to finish the overhaul of my apartment, which I had started last month after the yard sale. I have a piece of flat pack furniture that needs to be assembled and installed in place of another shelving unit, and things will be moved around because of that. I have an adjustable bed frame that needs to be put in place in my bedroom, and stuff has to be done before that will be possible. Other furniture has to be moved. I've got several full days' of work ahead of me, I need a handyman to help with some of it (and to put an A/C in one of the windows) AND I have to be in NYC on Wednesday evening for book circle meeting. That sound you hear? That's a hollow laugh.

The good news is that I just finished listening to the audiobook of Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz and loved it. It's almost two books for the price of one, and two great narrators, one of them being Samantha Bond. A "thumping good read." I had a UK Kindle version, and picked up an ARC as well (don't ask why...) but I ended up listening to it while I started the cleaning. Excellent choice.

186Caroline_McElwee
Jul 7, 2017, 4:12pm Top

Pffft, well good luck with all that Sus.

187PawsforThought
Jul 7, 2017, 4:25pm Top

>185 Chatterbox: I'm getting exhausted just reading about what you have in front of you!
In my experience it does go better if you listen to a good book while doing work on your home.

188Chatterbox
Jul 7, 2017, 4:38pm Top

Well, I have found a handyman for the big tasks, so that's something!! :-)

And yes, the audiobook will be a big help. An even bigger help would be having more space and shelving units for the books that right now have now home and are sitting on the floor -- the discards, and the new arrivals alike.

189PawsforThought
Jul 7, 2017, 5:15pm Top

>188 Chatterbox: Woo, a handyman!

We painted my parents house last year (big house, 2 1/2 floors) and I wouldn't have survived without the podcasts and audiobook I listened to.

190jnwelch
Jul 7, 2017, 5:26pm Top

Oh, good to hear re Magpie Murders, Suz. That one's been on my radar.

Sorry about the short notice family visit. That's a lot to get done in a short amount of time.

191m.belljackson
Jul 7, 2017, 7:10pm Top

>188 Chatterbox:

For a temporary fix, any chance the book circle people could meet this time at your apartment
and each bring some bricks and/or long pieces of wood?

192Chatterbox
Jul 7, 2017, 7:47pm Top

>191 m.belljackson: That would be very, very nice. Sadly, they are all in New York. I am in Providence... So for this meeting I have to travel 3.5 hours each way, and stay overnight... So it's essentially two days taken out of my preparation time. ARGHHHH.

I have cleaned out some corners of the apartment, so little spots look very tidy and orderly. The rest looks like a hurricane hit and left chaos in its wake. Tomorrow: the bedroom and kitchen, with Just Mercy and the first Walt Longmire mystery as the audiobook companions.

193sibyx
Jul 8, 2017, 10:53am Top

Nomadland sounds intriguing.

Good luck with the house make-over. Think how marvelous it will be AFTER they leave and your house looks so wonderful! The best part of entertaining!

194ChelleBearss
Jul 8, 2017, 12:05pm Top

Ooof, sounds like you have a lot of work ahead of you but glad that you get some family time at the end of it all.

195Chatterbox
Jul 8, 2017, 3:36pm Top

>194 ChelleBearss: I'm trying to look forward to the family time. My brother and I are not close (which is why this is the first visit in 17 years -- not a lack of invitations on my part, I hasten to add...) I don't want my sister in law to decide that it's cluttered and messy and then nag my mother about this endlessly, as my mother's health is deteriorating, and she is tired/exhausted of being nagged at regarding my actual/alleged shortcomings, of which apparently there are many.

196benitastrnad
Edited: Jul 8, 2017, 3:45pm Top

I have a copy of Magpie Murders and was thinking of getting rid of it. (It was one I got in Atlanta) Perhaps I will rethink, and I am always looking for good listens when I do my to-Kansas road trips.

I worked on my kitchen last weekend and got one countertop cleared off and organized. I plan on doing another one this weekend. I want to set up my food processor on a permenant basis on it, so I need to clear it of the clutter.

I also looked at dishwashers on the Fourth of July. The one I have still works, but it is acting funny so I want to be prepared with the right amount of money for a new one when the time comes to have to get it. I also want to get a garbage disposal, so wanted an idea of how much money I would need to have on hand for both of those things. And then there is the new car I need to purchase - spending money never ends does it? At least there are books to provide a distraction.

197Chatterbox
Jul 8, 2017, 8:36pm Top

>196 benitastrnad: What was your landlord's crisis while we were in Chicago, btw??

My dishwasher is... me. :-) I wish that it wasn't, but I don't want to spend $$ on something that I can do, but just don't like to do. At least I have a clothes washer and dryer, as laundromats are much more scarce here than in NYC.

198LizzieD
Jul 8, 2017, 10:57pm Top

Sending encouragement to you, Suzanne. Nothing like family!

199benitastrnad
Edited: Jul 9, 2017, 1:14pm Top

#197
I am not sure. She never called me back. I think she might have been concerned about the lawn. we have strict lawn police in Tuscaloosa and they are not shy about putting out notices. Unfortunately, when I left for ALA we were in the middle of Tropical Storm Cindy and had 7 days straight with 10 inches of rain. The lawn was mowed the first dry day after I got back.

She calls me rarely, so I was very worried about why she was calling.

200Chatterbox
Jul 9, 2017, 7:13pm Top

I'm on a Frederick Forsyth audiobook kick. It appears to be ideal for house organization/reorganization. The problem is that I'm just tired... and headachey.

201Fourpawz2
Jul 10, 2017, 9:02am Top

Oh my, Suzanne! Summer (for me) is not the time to have to do major reorganization and prep for company. Do not envy you. Am assuming the kitties will vanish into their bolt holes for the duration? Jane's is the small closet which she dives into every Monday morning when the garbage/recycling trucks come around. (She's in there right now and will stay there until noontime or so.) Anyway - hope all goes well and that the visit is a success.

202Chatterbox
Jul 10, 2017, 11:13am Top

Cassie did the world's fastest bolt into the spare room when the handyman arrived. Molly is taking refuge and skulking between piles of books in the bookroom/living room (which he won't have to do any work in. Task One (the air conditioner installation) is now done, and he is working on Task Two (the construction of the new wall unit/media station that was a flat pack thing from Amazon Vine.) I'm supervising, along with Sir Fergus the Fat, who is much less in the handyman's face than Tigger-the-Terror-Cat would have been. Fergus is just ecstatic at having me to himself for once.

203benitastrnad
Edited: Jul 10, 2017, 11:30am Top

I went to see the Wonder Woman movie and found it a waste of time. I had heard such great feminist reviews of it and was so disappointed when I saw it. I should have known better. Like most shoot 'em up bang-bang movies this one was drivel. When will they stop putting women superheroes in high heels? That is two hours of my life I won't get back.

204vivians
Jul 10, 2017, 4:51pm Top

I just finished Magpie Murders too and thought it was great! I read all the Alex Ryder books to my youngest son 10 or 12 years ago and we both loved them - that's what prompted me to read this new one. I hope it gets the audience it deserves - I haven't heard much talk about it.

Good luck with all the house projects!

205LizzieD
Jul 10, 2017, 7:06pm Top

Well, I'm glad that Fergus is happy! Somebody needs to be.
Good luck!

206benitastrnad
Jul 11, 2017, 1:17pm Top

OK. That is two positives for Magpie Murders so I will keep it. Both you and Vivians can claim credit for a book bullet.

207Chatterbox
Edited: Jul 13, 2017, 12:31am Top

>204 vivians: Magpie Murders was a lot of fun -- I struggled with the first few pages, but once I got accustomed to the idea that it was a book within a book and settled into it, I really relished it. I think it's his best book yet (I haven't read the Alex Ryder tomes, just his books for adults.)

That said, I just binge-listened the new Daniel Silva tome and was really annoyed by it. The narrator bungles a lot of pronunciation of English and French place names (and his English accents are horribly tortured something, but not English... he shouldn't even try.) Worst of all, in his attempts to make his villain, code-named Saladin, an uber-villain, Silva distorts history and makes the real-life Saladin blacker than black. For instance, if you believe Silva, following the battle of Hattin, Saladin slaughtered all his prisoners. Incorrect. In fact, Saladin was a contrast to Richard the Lionheart (who murdered a whole bunch of prisoners at Acre.) When he had the two most senior prisoners in front of him, Guy of Lusignan and Reynald de Chatillon, Saladin famously told Guy de Lusignan (king of Jerusalem) that "kings don't kill kings) and offered him a drink as a token of that. But he did kill Reynald on the spot, for very specific reasons: Reynald had been key in breaking the truce between Saladin and the crusader state, raiding trading caravans and imprisoning their members, and sending ships down the coast of what is now Saudi Arabia to threaten Mecca and Medina -- all designed to deliberately provoke Saladin. (Arguably, if it hadn't been for Reynald, a crusader state might have endured for decades or centuries longer... As it was, Christian rule was never re-established over Jerusalem.) In any event, the only captives who were killed were Templars or Hospitallers, those who had sworn to fight or die, essentially. All others of high degree -- knights, barons, or well born captives -- were ransomed -- and low born ones were enslaved. Unlike Acre, it wasn't a scene of mass murder: at the latter, between 2,600 and 3,000 soldiers (every single one captured when the city fell), as well as possibly women and children within the city walls, were marched out to a hill within view of Saladin's troops, and killed by the English army.

The message being, if you want to use history to make a point, use it correctly. Because some reader somewhere is going to catch you going overboard, finish the book and return it (in my case, to Audible) and get their money back and vow never to read a book by you again. Yes, Silva has a strong political point of view. And he advances that in his novels, as other writers do, and perhaps more forcefully than many others, to the point where it becomes so obvious that it becomes grating. I'll put up with it as long as the story and writing are good. But don't offend my intelligence by being either lazy or a liar.

We finally had a big, giant thunderstorm here early this evening, so I'm hoping that my head will behave itself now and I can finish up my chores. Wasn't able to get much of anything done today, thanks to said head and its aches and pains.

All of the handyman tasks were done: the new low-rise shelf unit is all set up, the rear parlor furniture is rearranged and gives me much more space, the A/C is in place, and the adjustable bed is installed. I have a few areas of clutter to deal with, and have to reorganize a few pieces of furniture but it looks much, much better. Just tiny pockets of disorder around my desk and sofa. I also will need to do some basic work on the spare room.

208benitastrnad
Jul 13, 2017, 12:23pm Top

#207
I found this post very interesting and intellectually stimulating. I think all authors have a point of view. They have an agenda. That is why they write a book. Whether it is fiction or non-fiction. Readers need to accept that and realize that books can be just as "fake" as "fake news" in that sense. Readers need to be more discerning.

209benitastrnad
Edited: Jul 13, 2017, 5:56pm Top

Mark got the books. I sent him an ARC of the new Joe Hill book as well as the Jesmyn Ward you picked up for him.

210Chatterbox
Jul 14, 2017, 1:36am Top

>209 benitastrnad: Oh, good, glad they arrived. I didn't see the Joe Hill, but then he isn't an author whose book I would have been looking for! I am glad that he managed to get hold of the new Thomas Mullen book (or at least I think he did.)

Nearly finished with the structural stuff in the apartment, with a change of audiobook pace, to listen to Thomas Ricks' new book about Churchill and Orwell. It's interesting, but it's a bit of an awkward attempt to write a dual biography. Think more of a parallel biography. Since their lives didn't actually overlap, other than chronologically, some of it is a bit of a stretch, but that doesn't mean it's not intriguing. Clearly a passion project for the author.

211benitastrnad
Edited: Jul 15, 2017, 7:22pm Top

#210
I heard the author of Churchill and Orwell, Thomas E. Ricks talk on the New York Times Book Review podcast. He said that his agent asked him the same questions that you raised. The author said that he thought the two men were a good juxtaposition given their differing political sentiments, but that in the end they came to the same conclusions- politically. And it was a labor of love on the part of the author, or at least that is what he said in the interview.

The study in contrasts interested me so I will be interested in hearing what you have to say about the book when you finish it.

212Chatterbox
Jul 17, 2017, 8:25pm Top

Survived the brother's visit -- four hours of it, whereas they will spend four days with my sister-in-law's sister near Mt. Tremblant on the way back. That kind of says it all... Oh well. The city was v. crowded with all 50 state governors, Mike Pence and Justin Trudeau here for the national governor's convention, and since I didn't know when they would get here, I couldn't book a place to eat. So we had to go to three places in a row to find something, with the youngest (age 12) being VERY fussy (I want to eat) the whole time, then, as soon as we got our mean, asking when we could get the bill and leave. Argh. Otherwise it was fine, but still, everything v. compressed. And the kids didn't want to bunk with me, but instead on the floor of the small Airbnb, which was kind of sad. I felt like an evil aunt. Sigh.

More seriously, I shall have to take Cassie in to the kitty ER on Thursday when the radiologist is back from her vacation, as she has continued to lose weight, and now is less and less interested in food. She even turned up her whiskers at fresh turkey today, something she usually begs for. She's so weak/wobbly that she is afraid of Fergus, who is so big, and she has taken to sleeping under pieces of furniture, whereas until now she has refused to sleep anywhere except glued to my side. So I'm panicky. Entre nous (where the cats can't read this...) she has always been my favorite cat since I rescued her from the evil deli owners and she just climbed into my lap and curled up and fell asleep. To her, the world is divided into two: Suzanne, and People-Who-Are-Not-Suzanne (and thus evil and to be feared) and other cats (by definition, competition for Suzanne's attention.) She welcomes me home (usually) with little dances of excitement and chirping noises.

213FAMeulstee
Jul 18, 2017, 8:49am Top

I am sorry for your cat Cassie, Suzanne, I hope you find something treatable on Thursday.

214benitastrnad
Jul 18, 2017, 12:51pm Top

#212
I felt the same as you do right now when my cat, Missy, was in decline due to old age. It is a hard thing to watch. I hope that some remedy can be worked. For you and hers.

215m.belljackson
Jul 18, 2017, 2:47pm Top

>212 Chatterbox:

Has Cassie's thyroid been checked?

Our little Victoria had similar symptoms and is now back to normal with thyroid ear medication.

216ChelleBearss
Jul 18, 2017, 6:20pm Top

Glad you survived your brother's visit but very sorry to see your kitty is sick! Hope the vet has good news for you.

217LizzieD
Jul 18, 2017, 6:51pm Top

Oh dear. I'm sorry to hear that Cassie is not thriving. I do hope with you that it's something that can be cured or controlled. We do love them so much, and we do have our favorites among them even when we adore them all.
As for your brother's visit, I'm sorry. I can tell you're hurt. From the outside it sounds to me as though you got the better deal (4 hours versus 4 days). And they did come.
Love from Polly-Anna.

218Chatterbox
Jul 18, 2017, 9:02pm Top

Everything that can be ruled out with blood tests has been ruled out (including, I believe, thyroid.) The vet is almost certain it's stomach related, ranging from IBD to lymphoma, the latter of which claimed Tigger back in 2015. Taking Cassie in on Thursday a.m., which is the first day that the radiologist vet is back in the office after vacation. She continues to hide under the bed or under the wing chair most of the time, which is not good.

219ronincats
Jul 19, 2017, 12:22am Top

So sorry to hear that Cassie is poorly, Suz. It is so hard to see your furbaby suffer.

220elkiedee
Jul 19, 2017, 10:53am Top

Sorry to hear that Cassie is ill.

221charl08
Jul 19, 2017, 2:25pm Top

Adding my good wishes for the visit to the vet.

222Chatterbox
Jul 19, 2017, 3:09pm Top

Thanks, all. I have been reading mindless nonsense again/still, as a result. Or at least, stuff that I don't need to think about. Just listened to The King's General by Daphne du Maurier on audiobook, narrated by Juliet Stevenson, which was a good call. She nailed nearly all of the pronunciations of the Cornish places, with the exception of Tywardreath (to be fair, it's tricky...) I hadn't read it in a while, and it was fun to listen and relish the descriptions of the places that I've walked around. For instance, there are scenes set on the quay in Fowey, on the beach in Polridmouth (pronounced Pridmouth, which she nails) and the various hills and valleys in the area around Menabilly (which you can't even see from the road or the coastal footpath). But I have my ordnance survey maps from my walks in the area so I could follow exactly where the characters went during the English Civil War in the 17th century...

223thornton37814
Jul 20, 2017, 7:51am Top

>222 Chatterbox: Now we'll all be looking for that particular narration and copies of those ordnance survey maps!

224Fourpawz2
Jul 22, 2017, 8:59am Top

Oh, Suzanne, I am so sorry to hear that Cassie is not well. Hoping very hard that things turn out well for her.

225Chatterbox
Jul 22, 2017, 12:07pm Top

The vet's verdict on Cassie is STILL frustratingly opaque. She did the ultrasound and then went on to aspirate lymph nodes. Nothing completely rules out the presence of lymphoma, but nothing (thankfully) tells us definitively that it's there, so it's not at the stage that Tigger had reached, when nothing could be done at all. So the first step is steroids and a radical and complete change of diet to nothing but (expensive) prescription food. Thankfully she tolerates the pills and seems to quite like the food, but it's a major hassle trying to feed three cats on two separate diets and keep them out of each other's food, when the only room with a door that closes firmly is the tiny bathroom. I will have to sit over them while they eat and then put food away...

Just finished Manderley Forever by Tatiana de Rosnay, the bio of Daphne du Maurier. It's OK -- all written in the present tense, and very reliant on style to keep it moving. I think it's designed for people who normally wouldn't otherwise read a biography, but will because it's by a novelist they've heard of, and because the subject is the author of Rebecca. (Hence the title...) It doesn't add much to existing bios, certainly. Oh well. Not wasted time, but nothing really earned, given that I knew a reasonable amount about her. Meh.

226bonannoan
Jul 22, 2017, 1:31pm Top

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227ronincats
Jul 22, 2017, 2:41pm Top

Here's hoping Cassie responds to the treatment, Suz. Keeping my fingers crossed.

228m.belljackson
Jul 22, 2017, 3:01pm Top

So good that your silence did not mean that things got worse!

229Chatterbox
Jul 22, 2017, 4:54pm Top

>228 m.belljackson: Nope, just that I was exhausted, headachey and had no time for even basic stuff! Plus, it has been very hot and stuffy this week, so not good weather for me. But this weekend is going to be spent curled up with books and cats...

230benitastrnad
Jul 22, 2017, 7:31pm Top

#229
That describes the weather here in Tuscaloosa. I also blew off the day. I took a 2 hour nap, and ditched the plans for going through a box that was still unopened after having moved 4 years ago. My goal for the summer has been to get the spare bedroom cleared out so that it is inventing for guests and not just a bed to flop on.

231Chatterbox
Jul 23, 2017, 7:16pm Top

>230 benitastrnad: I'm still not at that point. The good news is that the rest of the apartment now looks inviting. The spare room? Well, that's where the odds and ends have wound up. I'll get to it in the autumn, when it's not hot doing lifting and lugging of stuff. I will have to clean out the closet (the only one in the entire house!) and make space in there for the stuff that's now in the open in the spare room, like Xmas tree decorations and suitcases and stuff.

Have blown off today, too. Still getting used to the new regime of cat feeding. I have to feed Cassie the wet food on my fingers, to convince her that it's something she wants to eat. Then she will grudgingly agree to try the stuff on the plate. Thankfully she likes the dry food.

232Chatterbox
Jul 28, 2017, 5:18pm Top

Reviews for the rest of June:

196. The Good People by Hannah Kent


After reading the wonderful Burial Rites, I was eager to see how on earth the still very young Hannah Kent could write something that would measure up to that, and what she would tackle next. Unsurprisingly, her sophomore effort isn't quite as remarkable as her debut -- it isn't as tautly written, and the narrative drags a bit and feels repetitive sometimes, as she sets out to make her points as a result -- but with a novelist as skilled as Kent, that still leaves us with a very impressive work (which was on the shortlist for this year's Walter Scott prize for best historical fiction work.) The plot, like its predecessor, is based on a real event, very obscure, this time in early 19th century Ireland. It's a woman's story, as Nora must grapple with her husband's death and caring for her grandson, entrusted to her after the death of her daughter. The formerly merry toddler can no longer speak, walk or communicate. Is he cursed? Can he be cured? Or is he a changeling? The whole valley's future is at stake, it seems, and Nora turns to Nance, the local wise woman. it's a story about women's roles in a changing society, and the clashes between women and the church and the establishment. Definitely recommended, even in spite of the bits that drag. Tough it out. Very atmospheric, especially the second half, which is chilling. 4.6 stars.

197. Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple


OK, I get this, but what I don't get is why everyone makes such a fuss about Maria Semple. Angsty heroine, but so much of that angst is self inflicted. A series of weird twists that are very contrived. Very precious plot elements. All the stars are for the writing, which has to have been good for me to become this annoyed with the characters, correct? It's one thing to create an unlikeable or evil character -- that can be fun. But a whiny, demented one is just irritated. We have enough of that in our own lives. Or at least, I do. 3.75 stars, and I'm being generous.

198. The Wind Off the Small Isles by Mary Stewart


Spotted this previously-unknown Mary Stewart novella for sale on Amazon UK (and don't you love the new covers?? So much nicer than anything I've seen recently, even if they are decades out of date for the novels themselves.) It was on sale, for which I'm grateful, as the word "slight" definitely describes this tale. A novelist and her secretary (hey, it's old school) are touring a volcanic island and discover a villa that (coincidence!) is occupied by another writer and his assistant who is writer #1's son! Romantic interest between two assistants follows, and they discover long buried secrets in a tunnel sealed by a volcanic eruption. 3.3 stars, and very generous. Not really recommended.

199. The Wasting of Borneo: Dispatches from a Vanishing World by Alex Shoumatoff (finished 6/13/17) 2.7 stars


Trying to follow this book, after the first chapter (very interesting, all about growing up among nature in Westchester in the 1940s and 50s) is like trying to put together a complex 3-D jigsaw puzzle when half the pieces are missing and someone has tossed in pieces from a different puzzle. It just doesn't make sense and it's very frustrating. Shoumatoff, whose magazine articles are absolute gems, rambles and skips and jumps all over the place, and when you finally get to Borneo, half of his writing is about him and how well he gets along with the native people, and the rest is stuff you've read seven times before -- very basic. In other words, it's a big mess requiring an editor. There's good info here, but it's buried and you'll go round in circles looking for it. You could spend hours looking -- or just go read his magazine articles. I recommend the latter. 2.7 stars.

200. The Blue Noon by Robert Ryan


I thought this might be as good as Dying Day by the same author, or his more recent series of novels featuring Dr. Watson undertaking espionage feats during World War I. Alas, it doesn't quite measure up. It's about the consummate amoral guy who sees in World War II not an epic struggle between good and evil, but a great chance to make money and score points off the establishment -- until his role as double/triple agent in Occupied France threatens to become overly complicated and until he ends up really in love. As he takes advantage of others, so some in British Intelligence start taking advantage of Harry, and the question becomes whether he'll end up in the dock, charged with treason, when the war finally ends. Or... ? Lots of twists and turns, and a fun guest appearance by Airey Neave (famous Colditz escaper, chronicler of World War II exploits, and later a politician blown up by the IRA.) 4 stars.

201. A Necessary Evil by Abir Mukherjee


I am really enjoying this new historical mystery series, set in the immediate aftermath of World War I in Calcutta and environs. The British/Indian author's eye (he was raised in Scotland...) is perfect -- he can capture both nations' views, and give the main English character, Captain Sam Wyndham, a sardonic view of the whole Raj that is shared by his subordinate, Sgt. Bannerjee, who is technically more "upper class" than Wyndham, having been to a public school, but who is, off course, "only an Indian." The dynamics between them are great, and in this outing they must solve the murder of one of Bannerjee's school friends, the heir to a princely state, Prince Adhir, who is assassinated before their eyes in Calcutta. Who planned and ordered the crime? Religious nuts? Family members? Or was it politically motivated, by those who advocate more democracy and independence from Britain? Well written and very well paced, with lots of great background about poor Wyndham, held hostage by his opium addiction... 4.3 stars.

202. No Echo by Anne Holt


A famous chef is murdered and Hanne Wilhelmsen, just back from mourning the death of her girlfriend, is roped in to solve the crime, prompting lots of tension and pouting on the part of her sidekick, Billy T. I just didn't care about either. The crime investigation read like a bunch of interviews, most of them ridiculously flawed, while the rest? Boring. I persisted in this book only because I'm stubborn but I really didn't care who murdered the damn guy. I only wished he had murdered a few other people by the time I turned the last page. No more by this author. 2.5 stars and I really don't know why I gave it this rating; I must have been demented.

203. The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye


A re-read of this famous uber-romance, in the form of an audiobook, while I was wrestling with a migraine. It works well as an audiobook, actually, and it has been decades since I last read it. (I got a copy when it first appeared, when I was still a teenager, for Christmas one year: it was one of the first new hardcover novels I ever received! And it lasted me for DAYS!) Is there anything more to say about this book? A young boy's parents die just before the Indian mutiny, out on an expedition; his nurse takes the toddler and flees to a remote part of the country and brings him up as her son. He becomes a servant of the princely house there until he becomes too aware of plots against the young heir's life and must once again flee, when he is 10 or 11. This time, he goes with proofs of his identity to the English, who send him off to his remaining relatives in England to be turned into a proper sahib, something that really only works on the surface. Finally, years later, he is able to return and take up a commission in the Corps of Guides, an elite force on the Indian frontier, and rediscover many of his old friends -- but he's still too "native" for many of the English. And then, sent to escort two princesses to their wedding, he discovers that one is a childhood friend... and so on. There are scenes in Afghanistan, and lots of stuff about adventures, and rescues of beleagured princesses, etc. 3.85 stars. An epic. No literary merit, really, but doesn't tax the brain much when said brain is hurting.

204. Heads or Hearts by Paul Johnston


The next in the dystopian Quintilian Dalrymple series in a future Edinburgh. I confess that I found this one a bit hard to follow, as Johnston is drifting away from some of the more subtle plots in his early books to action-style stuff now. And this one was gory, too, as the body parts in the title are being left scattered around the place and the bodies themselves dumped elsewhere. It's all tied to the return of football, and illegal betting, though if you asked me how, now, I'd struggle to explain precisely. Which is part of the problem with this book. Ultimately it all leads to attempted insurrection. Still good and lively, but not quite as compelling... I've got one more book in this series to read, but I'm not feeling as excited about new books about Quint as I was when Johnston first went back to these characters. 3.8 stars.

205. Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta


This is one of the summer's hot new releases, apparently, but it didn't do much for me, even though Perrotta's main character is precisely my demographic (ok, not an empty nester, but a 50-something woman.) Two problems here. One is that it's all very, very predictable. If your teenage son goes off to college and was the kind of high school hero that this kid was, heading to a liberal arts school described here, I'd expect him to encounter just the kind of situations that he does. There are no surprises; no twists. It's not even as interesting as a boring magazine article. It's like your cousin telling you what her kid's first year at college was like. Secondly, I didn't find Mrs. Fletcher herself terribly convincing. She gets a text and before you know it, she's wading around in porn, morning noon and night? The final twist is even more unbelievable. Ultimately, however, it was just DULL. DULL, DULL, DULL. 3.8 stars, mostly for the writing.

206. The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish


It's very rare for anyone to pull off one of these "dual narrative" novels and have both parts of the story be equally compelling and worthwhile, much less have them link together to make an integrated whole. Rachel Kadish does that, triumphantly, in this excellent novel, one strand of which is set in London year or two leading up the restoration of Charles II to the throne in the mid-17th century and in the years following, including the Plague of 1666. The other is a nearly contemporary thread, in which a woman in her late middle ages -- a scholar specializing in Jewish history but who isn't Jewish -- is called on to decipher a trove of Hebrew documents found in a house in Richmond that date back to the 1660s, just as the Jewish community was re-establishing itself in London after its expulsion centuries earlier by Edward I. Helen calls on Aaron, a young academic and American Jew, to help her: the bumpy relationship between the two of them forms the backdrop of one part of the narrative, even as they begin to decipher the truth about Esther Velazquez, the scribe and scholar of the 17th century, whose story is told in the alternating segments. For her part, Esther relates her own tormented relationships: with the blind rabbi who shelters her when her family disappears, even though he disapproves of her scholarly ambitions and wish to philosophize, and with Mary, another young woman in the Jewish community, whose illicit affair with a Christian man may end up making possible many of Esther's dreams, but only after much trauma. It's a long, complex and intense read, but fascinating and worthwhile. 4.65 stars.

207. Keep Her Safe by Sophie Hannah (finished 6/27/17) 4 stars


One of the first books I picked up to read from my haul at ALA in Chicago, because it was the ideal light reading for the plane on the way back. Cara, the main character in this thriller (the publishers are making a big deal about it being the first the author has set in the US, though I'm not sure why...) has run away from her family (you eventually learn why and it's not that dramatic) to a luxury spa in Arizona, and on her first night, the receptionist hands her the key to her room -- which, when she walks in, turns out to be occupied by a young girl in her early teens and a man, presumably her father. The receptionist is so dreadfully sorry that she gives Cara a big upgrade and puts her in a villa. Problem solved, right? Until Cara starts hearing chit chat about a famous murder case -- a young girl believed to have been murdered years ago by her parents, and another guest at the spa who claims to have seen her alive. And after doing some research, Cara realizes that the girl in the first bedroom could well have been that child... The concept here is much, much, much stronger than the execution, alas. I loved the idea, and some of the initial bits are chilling, as is the ending, but too often it collapses into ordinary, predictable, "woman in peril" thriller and requires too much suspension of disbelief. Still, if you're looking for something with a great premise, get it from the library. I refuse to give anything away... 4 stars.

208. Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-first Century by Jessica Bruder


This probably will end up on my list of best books of the year, if only because I think it's very important to read. Not yet published (I think it comes out in September) it's the story of all the financially struggling American adults of 50 plus who take to their trailers and travel from one worksite and one campsite to the next, trying to live off social security and whatever they can earn. It's kind of liberating to realize that there are options, but it's also chilling to read how corporations treat this mobile workforce and how infantilizing this is. And Bruder doesn't quite devote enough attention to the "what if?" question of what happens when they hit 80 plus and can't do this any more, perhaps because not enough of them are there yet. This book should serve as a wake up call -- both for people who are thinking of this as something that will be easy to do, and for people who want to avoid this. 4.8 stars. A must read.

209. Love Like Blood by Mark Billingham (finished 6/29/17) 4.3 stars


The Tom Thorne novels are a new-ish discovery for me this year, and this was very intriguing. Imagine, if you will, the possibility that young teenagers or children in their 20s who disgrace immigrant communities -- Muslim, Hindu or Sikh -- just disappear, or are found dead. What a lesson to others, right? And it's not an honor killing, really, because their parents and families all have alibis... But Tom Thorne's acquaintance, DI Nicola Tanner, is convinced that the South Asian community is somehow responsible, all the more so because since she started investigating, a break in left her partner, Susan, dead. Lots of rich detail about the characters and a complex investigation. And yes, you could read this without having read others in the series... 4.3 stars.

210. The Bomb Maker by Thomas Perry


Perry likes lots of detail in his books, telling readers how bombs are built, how investigations are conducted and how people hide from bad guys, etc. If you can tolerate that, he also builds some intricate little plots, and has some twisty details, including folks who end up hoist with their own petard. In this case, the tale starts with a very, very nasty bomb, clearly aimed not just at a building but at the people trying to dismantle the bomb. The story is about who the bomb maker is and his battle of wits with the guy who is brought in from a freelance existence to head up the squad until the bad guy is caught. Who will win? It's like watching them play a game of lethal chess. Good action suspense. 3.8 stars.

233PawsforThought
Jul 28, 2017, 7:12pm Top

>232 Chatterbox: I'm glad to see you liked The Weight of Ink so much. I stumbled upon that title when I was looking for something else a few months ago and it's been on my radar since. It sounded fascinating. I'm definitely putting it on my TBR list now.

234Chatterbox
Edited: Jul 28, 2017, 11:33pm Top

>233 PawsforThought: It's a long novel, and gets heavily into existential stuff sometimes (Spinoza!) but it's worth the effort.

Just finished See What I Have Done, the upcoming novel about Lizzie Borden due out next week, and it's disturbing. Lots of vomit, blood, guts, smells, and creepy people and thoughts. I'm going to have to look for something completely different to get that out of my brain before I can sleep tonight -- something very straightforward.

235LizzieD
Jul 28, 2017, 11:09pm Top

Yippee! *Weight/Ink* has immediately gone on my wish list with thanks to you. I'm also after the first Mukherjee.
Hope your weather cools this weekend and that you feel like enjoying it. Also hope that Cassie continues to like her new food.
>225 Chatterbox: What is it with present tense narration in a biography? Barbara Reynolds did it in her bio of Dorothy Leigh Sayers, which I'd be enjoying completely were it not for that affectation. Using present tense lends itself to all kinds of tense sequence screw-ups.

236avatiakh
Jul 28, 2017, 11:26pm Top

I've got The Weight of Ink home from the library but already guessing I don't have the time to read it unless I start tonight.

237Chatterbox
Jul 28, 2017, 11:36pm Top

>235 LizzieD: Yes, I don't understand this present tense thing. Maybe it's to give readers a "you are here!" kind of feeling? But I find it very contrived and precious.

>236 avatiakh: It was an even longer read for me than I expected, because of the sheer weightiness (no pun intended!) of the subjects being discussed. Can I send you my ARC when I have written my review for Amazon?

238avatiakh
Jul 29, 2017, 12:24am Top

Thanks Suzanne, but I'll save you the international postage. I'll start on the hardback this weekend and am next in line for the e-book borrow from the library so will be able to get it read, just not this coming week. I've been reading quite a lot of Australian and NZ fiction of late and not getting other reading done.

Have you read Hans Olav Lahlum? He writes in the style of Agatha Christie's 'locked-room' mystery but set in 1960s Norway.

239PawsforThought
Jul 29, 2017, 3:35am Top

>234 Chatterbox: Oh, I don't mind heavier stuff as long as it's well-written and understandable and worth the effort in the end (Jurassic Park was chock full of physics, maths, probability theory and all kinds of heavy stuff and it was still a great read).

Also, boo! for biographies written in the present tense. Or actually almost any book written in the present tense.

240annushka
Jul 29, 2017, 9:44am Top

>232 Chatterbox: Thank you for recommending the The Weight of Ink. I'm looking forward to reading it.

241katiekrug
Jul 29, 2017, 9:59am Top

>232 Chatterbox: - I love your round-up posts!

The Hannah Kent is on my WL, even though I still have Burial Rites to read...

Now that I've been to Edinburgh, I want to give that Paul Johnston series a try!

Too bad about the Perrotta, because I've liked the three novels of his that I've read.

Sophie Hannah is one of those authors I tend to "collect" but never read.

Nomadland sounds great, and I'll make a note to look for it when it's released. I have a whole Amazon WL called "Not Yet Released" that I check periodically :)

The Thomas Perry sounds like a good, diverting read to make note of for when the need arises (the need being a good diverting read, not a bomb maker ;-)....)

242Fourpawz2
Jul 29, 2017, 11:37am Top

Added 6 you-recommended books to the fourth you-recommendations list, Suzanne, including The Far Pavilions which I thought I already had on my Giant Freaking Wishlist somewhere, but apparently not. Sure hope Cassie is getting along okay and that you are enjoying this perfect-for-reading day. Cool and gloomy in the summer is my favorite.

243Chatterbox
Jul 29, 2017, 11:55am Top

>241 katiekrug: If you have liked other Perrotta novels, maybe this one will still have its appeal. I was lukewarm to the one about people left behind in the wake of a rapture-like event (blanking on the title.) I found the tone was just too -- suburban. Bland.

I know exactly what you mean, re Sophie Hannah's books. i've go a few authors like that -- usually ones I enjoy but am not absolutely compelled to read, who write mysteries or thrillers. They pile up and suddenly I find myself staring at four or five books in a series. The worst offender right now, possibly, are the mysteries by Kate Ellis featuring DI Wesley Peterson and archaeologist Neil Watson. She has written 21, and I have four of the most recent five sitting unread on my UK Kindle. One more remains unpurchased, and book 22 in the series is set to be published in February. The puzzling thing is that I enjoy them -- so I think I've been saving them for rainy day reads! For the first time in my life I have no real need to save books because I'm going to run out of something new to read. (This is a legacy of the times in my childhood and youth when this happened over and over and over again... especially in my teens and early 20s, a voracious reader living in a country where English or French language books weren't available readily, or weren't affordable.)

If you haven't read Thomas Perry yet, you MUST start with his Jane Whitefield novels -- Vanishing Act is the first. They feel a bit dated, written in the pre-Internet, pre mobile phone days, but Jane's character -- when she gets into it and isn't involved in her home life -- is fabulous. She's half Seneca Indian, and her self-appointed task is to disappear people who are in danger in their lives and create new lives for them somewhere else. Of course, usually the reason those people are in danger is that someone else wants to get to them, so there are some great chase scenes... I may have to re-read some of these -- again. You don't read these for the writing but for clever plots and almost too-clever characters.

I would offer to send you Nomadland but it's one I'm going to hang on to...

>240 annushka: I hope you like it! It was a long read for me -- It went along with me to Chicago, and back again, and I still hadn't finished it. I found I could only read 40 or 50 pages at a time.

>239 PawsforThought: I'm not averse to fiction written in the present tense. It used to annoy me, but at some point I got past that. Now it's just a style decision by the author, to reinforce something about the immediacy of the action. I don't always appreciate/understand/grasp WHY the author is making that change -- I'm much more focused on the plot, usually, and I'm not always engaged in that deep a read -- but I'm not irked by it. Sometimes I don't even notice it, unless it's accompanied by some other structural or narrative oddity. But non-fiction? That just feels pretentious to me!

>238 avatiakh: Am not familiar with Lahlum, but then I'm not sure I would necessarily seek him out, as I'm not a big fan of locked room mysteries, as such. I tend to groan when I see that in a description, as it's kind of a box that the author has himself/herself climbed inside (like a Harlequin mystery formula that must be followed.) I prefer novels that have more unpredictable features. It's why even cozy mysteries pop up rarely on my reading list, and while I'll read series books, they tend to be ones that rely heavily on character development (and thus are as much novels about the series characters, in some ways) as they are mysteries. I respect Christie, but after my first binge reading her books, have enjoyed re-reading relatively few of them. Though they were great when I first began reading in French, because of the straightforward writing! Le mort sur le Nil was one of my first full books in French, read the summer that I was 13.

244Chatterbox
Jul 29, 2017, 11:57am Top

>242 Fourpawz2: Now, I'm pretty sure that I CAN send you a copy of The Far Pavilions as I think that I have at least two around here. The trick is to find them. So give me a week or two to hunt around and look through the bags of books.

245thornton37814
Jul 29, 2017, 1:03pm Top

I picked up the Mary Stewart book at the Amazon sale too. I'm looking forward to reading it. Hopefully I can get to it this month. If not, hopefully soon!

246Fourpawz2
Jul 29, 2017, 2:20pm Top

>244 Chatterbox: - Thank you, Suzanne. If you do unearth it I will be happy to accept the gift and trust that the postage for the 28 miles or so between us will not amount to much.

247Chatterbox
Edited: Jul 29, 2017, 4:58pm Top

>246 Fourpawz2: Lol, I think I could probably hand deliver it affordably... Or if I do go out to the Cape in September, you could come and pick it up from me when the Peter Pan bus is in transit! Just need to figure out precisely where it is.

>245 thornton37814: I confess that I added the other Mary Stewart titles that I didn't already own in that sale, including Nine Coaches Waiting. I take advantage of all those sales, when I can and when it's a book that I know I'll re-read and when it enables me to de-accession a paper copy. The only problem with these paper copies is that they are ones that have followed me around the world since I was 12 or 13 or so. I can remember pretty much where and when I bought and first read each of those books, 40 years ago. Whereas letting go of a newer book that I have no sentimental attachment to is not a big deal at all.

248avatiakh
Jul 29, 2017, 6:11pm Top

>243 Chatterbox: I also lapped up all the Agatha Christie's I could at a young age and haven't bothered to revisit them.

Lahlum's first book was quirky and engaging enough for me to enjoy. I got his second one out from the library but have to say that when I saw it was another locked-room type mystery I was less enthusiastic. Both times the victim is a WW2 resistance fighter so the books play back to those times.
Lahlum's aunt was Dagmar Lahlum and he wrote about her at the end of The Human Flies. All I remember now is that he was always told to 'not mention the war' when with her, only after her death when the Zigzag books were published did the family realise the role she'd played.

I started The Weight of Ink last night, but then I also started two other books!
I've also taken note of Abir Mukherjee, having read two longish Indian novels this year I'd like to read something like this rather than a more literary outing.

249Chatterbox
Jul 29, 2017, 8:06pm Top

>248 avatiakh: Oh, the secrets people keep... I knew that this guy whose daughter I used to babysit for in Brussels was involved in getting the hostages out of Teheran with Ken Taylor. It was a bit of an open secret that he was a spook, and then I came downstairs late one night when I was home from university and found him and my father talking about Ken and Teheran in a way that made it clear that something was up, and I was warned so sternly not to say a word to anyone because lives were at stake that I didn't even mention it to my mother, even after the operation hit the headlines weeks later and they were safely out. It was only when Our Man in Tehran was published that I realized the FULL role that Louis had played, and that he was probably the key spook in the whole affair. It's only too late that we realize we should have asked more questions of the people we knew! Like my fellow copy editor at the Japan Times, whose wife was Ida Toguri, aka Tokyo Rose. They eventually divorced, because US authorities (who had eventually arrested her) refused to give her a passport to leave the country and he was stateless (mixed race -- Portuguese, Macao Chinese and Japanese, with a Nansen passport that no one recognized back then) and a price of him being allowed to remain in Japan and obtain residency during the Occupation was that he sign divorce papers. Moreover, he was forever after denied a passport, too, meaning he was unable ever to see her again. He never remarried. Phil was a lovely, lovely man, but broken. Their only child died of illness/malnutrition in the immediate aftermath of the war, as an infant. It was hard to ask him questions about that era, and yet I feel that so much of what happened died with him.

I'll look for the Lahlum at the library, or suggest that they acquire it, perhaps. That's the great thing about the Athenaeum; they are very good about the purchase requests.

250avatiakh
Jul 29, 2017, 10:52pm Top

It's only too late that we realize we should have asked more questions of the people we knew! Oh yes, this I agree with. Those two stories are really interesting.
My husband is doing family research and is finding that many of the people who could have helped most have passed on. He's talked to them, but would love to return now with more questions.

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