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Sibyx's 2017 Reading Rambles: Autumn Equinox to the New Year

75 Books Challenge for 2017

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Edited: Dec 27, 2017, 12:54pm Top

The first pic will be the cover photo (credit to my daughter) for The Hounds of Spring which it seems, in theory and terrifyingly, will probably be up for grabs in the December ER group. Naturally Miss Po is front and center. Then, of course, I can't remove the pic of Herself in a haze of gold . . . I know my place!

Edited: Jan 1, 3:28pm Top

Currently Reading in December

The Cutting Edge Penelope Gilliatt contemp fic
new (group read) God Stalk P.C. Hodgell fantasy
new Dark Light(2) Ken MacLeod sf
✔ROOT The Genesee Diary Henri Nouwen nf, memoir
The Graveyard of the Hesperides (4) Lindsey Davis hist mys

Murdoch Marathon: ONGOING. (No plans for reading IM at present) IM readers group is HERE
Virago No immediate plans

ON HOLD new The Tangled Wing Melvin Konner psych behavioral

Edited: Jan 2, 7:01pm Top

Read in September

99. ✔My Name is Lucy Barton Elizabeth Strout contemp fic ***1/2
100.The Jupiter Myth(14) Lindsey Davis hist mys ****
101. new The Rift Uprising Amy S Foster YA sf ***
102. new Knots and Crosses Ian Rankin mys **
103. ♬ The Accusers (15) Lindsey Davis hist mys ****
104. ✔My Struggle: Book Four Dancing in the Dark Karl Ove Knausgaard contemp fic ****1/2
105. ✔ The Way of Kings Brandon Sanderson fantasy ****1/2
106. new A Gentleman in Moscow Amor Towles contemp fic *****

Total: 8
Men: 4
Women: 4
M/W writing together: 0
Non-fiction: 0
Contemp/Classic/Hist Fiction: 3
SF/F: 2
Mystery(inc hist mys): 2
YA or J: 1
Poetry: 0
New author: 3
Reread: 0

Book origins/type:
From library or borrowed: 0
Audio: 2
New (to my library): 3
e-book: 0
Off Shelf: 3
Did not finish: 0

Housekeeping: (These are still August numbers)

TOTAL physical book (for year) IN=29
e-books=still 9

Physical books acquired in September:
25. pbs Truth Peter Temple
26. pbs Crown of Renewal Elizabeth Moon
27. gift Autumn Karl Ove Knaussgard
28. gift Lafayette in the Somewhat United States Sarah Vowell
29. pbs Warlord Jennifer Fallon

e-books acquired in September: 0

Reflections September 2017
I see that I was all excited about my new e-reader in August, but this September I didn't use it, no traveling. (Probably should charge it up though!). It also looks as though I didn't read very many books, however, one of them was the 1200 plus page Sanderson, so that should count as three which would get me up to ten books. But enough bean counting. With three contemporary fiction books--all of them excellent--this was a month for more varied reading. In fact, I can't think when I last read three superb books in one month and all of them so completely different! The most pleasurable read was, of course, A Gentleman in Moscow and if I had to pick one best for the month, that would be it, however, many of the same criteria I would use to choose it, setting aside pure pleasure, would be similar to both the Knausgaard's virtues and to a lesser degree the Strout's. Strout examines the conflict that arises between the demands of a domestic life versus a fully committed creative one. Knausgaard's is a "portrait of the artist as a young man". Count Rostov has no artistic impulses (although apparently he has written some poetry, poetry that saves his life) but where Towle and K. overlap is that they have both written books that appear simpler than they are. The reader may choose to believe that what they* are reading, the surface story, is all that is being offered them, but in both the writer is carefully leading to a certain destination: the two novels share deceptiveness and masterly authorial control.

The rest of my reading for the month was more or less the usual entertainment, escape, relief variety. I can't believe I bothered finishing the Ian Rankin, it was so hackneyed! So cut-out! Won't go there again. The Rift Uprising was YA fare and full of energy but I doubt I'll continue that series either. The Sanderson, although it should have been offered as a two volume set, is a wonderful fantasy read and I am immersed in the second one now. Overall, a solid reading month, better than solid!

*I am using a singular 'reader' with the pronoun "they", which is to encompass every gender. I expect this will become standard usage as it does solve the problem neatly. I don't adore it, but it does work.

Edited: Jan 2, 7:06pm Top

Read in October

107. ♬ Scandal Takes A Holiday (16) Lindsey Davis ****
108. reread Invisible Guests: The Development of Imaginal Dialogues Mary Watkins psych archetypal *****
109. ✔ Words of Radiance Brandon Sanderson fantasy ****1/2
110.new Hold Your Hour and Have Another Brendan Behan essays ***1/2
111. ✔The Bent Twig Dorothy Canfield Fisher classic fiction ***1/2
112. ♬ See Delphi and Die Lindsey Davis mys hist ****
113. ✔ The Last Policeman (1)Ben H. Winters mys/dysto-apoc! *****
114. ✔ Countdown City (2)Ben H. Winters apoc mys! ****1/2
115. ✔ World of Trouble Ben H. Winters apoc mys! *****

Total: 9
Men: 3
Women: 3
M/W writing together: 0
Non-fiction: 2
Contemp/Classic/Hist Fiction: 1
SF/F: 4* *3 are pre-apoc mysteries
Mystery(inc hist mys): 0* see above
YA or J: 0
Poetry: 0
New author: 1
Reread: 1

Book origins/type:
From library or borrowed: 0
Audio: 2
New (to my library): 1
e-book: 0
Off Shelf: 5
Did not finish: 0


TOTAL physical books (for year) IN=30
e-books=still 9
TOTAL OUT= around 45

Physical books acquired in October:
30. Manhattan Beach Jennifer Egan

E-books acquired in October: 0

Reflections October 2017
I began the month with the second enormous Sanderson and ended with the three in the pre-apocalyptic set that starts with The Last Policeman. In between was a reread of a fascinating book about the importance of dialogue, internally as well as externally and an off-shelf read that was hard to get into but was reasonably rewarding once I did get into it -- The Bent Twig. Lots of driving around thus two Falcos. I would call this an eclectic but satisfactory month, perhaps a little shifted to the genre side, but not so skewed as to be an issue for me.

Edited: Dec 28, 2017, 8:15pm Top

Read in November

116. new Lafayette in the Somewhat United States Sarah Vowell history american****
117. ♬Saturnalia Lindsey Davis ****
118. new Too Like the Lightning Ada Palmer sf ****1/2
119. ✔ Cat's Eye Margaret Atwood fiction canadian ***1/2
120. ✔ Cosmonaut Keep Ken MacLeod sf ***
121. ✔Kiss and Tell Alain de Botton contemp fic ****
122. ♬ Alexandria Lindsey Davis hist mys ****
123. new Three Parts Dead Max Gladstone fantasy ***1/2
124 .✔ A Person of Interest Susan Choi contemp fic ***1/2 (ROOTS read)
125. reread Wolfblade Jennifer Fallon fantasy ***1/2
126. ✔ The Well of Loneliness Radclyffe Hall contemp fic (ROOTS read) ***1/2
127. new Warrior Jennifer Fallon ***

Total: 12
Men: 3
Women: 7 (some repeats)
M/W writing together: 0
Non-fiction: 1
Contemp/Classic/Hist Fiction: 4
SF/F: 5
Mystery(inc hist mys): 2
YA or J: 0
Poetry: 0
New author: 5
Reread: 0

Book origins/type:
From library or borrowed: 0
Audio: 2
New (to my library): 4
e-book: 0
Off Shelf: 5 (including 2 ROOTS reads)
Did not finish: 0


TOTAL (for year so far) physical books IN=39
TOTAL e-books IN=9

Physical books acquired in November:
36. An Experiment in Treason Bruce Alexander
37. Rules of Engagement Bruce Alexander

e-books acquired in November: 0

Reflections for November
A surprisingly hefty month with twelve books read! All while spending most of it also engaged with a mighty tome about the sublime George Washington, which I should finish sometime before the end of the year if I am diligent. At the same time I can't say (except for this tome) that I read anything exceptionally brilliant, although I have to admit that despite its being arguably a terribly written novel in almost every possible way The Well of Loneliness stands out as unique and emotionally harrowing. The reason for the lack of stand-outs and for the unusual number of plain old fiction reads (besides l'affaire avec George) is perhaps because I joined ROOTS. I know there are books on my tbr shelves which pre-date my joining LT in 2010. I'm starting with them. It'll get harder to 'date' the books back if I am diligent about this, but I am pretty good about cataloging books as they come in, although not perfect. The big cataloging year for me was 2010 when I joined, but if I book I think I haven't yet read turns up with that LT list date, then I'll know. . . .

Edited: Jan 1, 3:11pm Top

Read in December

128. new Warlord Jennifer Fallon fantasy ***
129. ✔Odd Girl Out Elizabeth Jane Howard contemp fic ***1/2
130. new An Experiment in Treason Bruce Alexander hist mys****
131. ♬ Nemesis Lindsey Davis hist mys ****
132. ✔ Washington Ron Chernow bio *****
133. ♬ Ides of April Lindsey Davis myst hist ****
134. ✔ ROOT The Opposite of Fate Amy Tan
memoir ***
135. ♬ Enemies at Home Lindsey Davis hist mys ****
136. new The Price of Murder Bruce Alexander hist mys ****
137. ✔ ROOT The Wind-up Bird Chronicle Haruki Murakami contemp fic ****1/2
138. new (ARC) Summer Hours at the Robbers Library Sue Halpern contemp fic ****
139. ♬ Deadly Election Lindsey Davis hist mys

Total: 12
Men: 3 (a repeat)
Women: 5 (several repeats)
M/W writing together:
Non-fiction: 2
Contemp/Classic/Hist Fiction: 3
SF/F: 1
Mystery(inc hist mys): 6 (all hm)
YA or J: 0
Poetry: 0
New author: 0
Reread: 0

Book origins/type:
From library or borrowed: 0
Audio: 4
New (to my library): 4
e-book: 0
Off Shelf: 4 (including 2 ROOTS reads)
Did not finish: 0


TOTAL (for year so far) physical books IN=68
TOTAL e-books IN=10

Reflections for December
December was remarkably similar to November with twelve books read, surprisingly, including finishing up with the sublime George. Perhaps the oddest skews were that I read no no new authors and somehow or other only one book in the sf/fantasy realm but six! in the historical mystery genre, including four mysteries as I gobble up the remainder of the Falco family saga.
The Murakami was the only truly challenging read of the month and I am still digesting it. I wasn't as caught up by it as some, but I fully recognize it as a masterpiece and expect that it will unfold for me for some time to come. The Tan was meh and only stubbornness and the occasional "moment" got me through it and the Halpern was a charmer, a perfect retreat from the emotional demands of Christmas and New Year's--even when it goes smoothly it is a lot of effort! I did not make my 150 goal, but I am fine with that, I didn't expect to. I'll keep it as my goal because why not? You never know. I did better this year than last year with 139 -- nine more than 2016.

See you next year!

Edited: Jan 1, 3:33pm Top


Started in 2017
Flavia Albia(7) Lindsey Davis READING: Deadly Election(3)
The Craft Sequence(6) Max Gladstone NEXT UP: Two Serpents Rise (2)
Engines of Light (3)Ken MacLeod NEXT UP: Dark Light(2)
Terra Ignota(2) Ada Palmer NEXT UP: Seven Surrenders
Sir John Fielding mysteries11 Bruce Alexander NEXT UP: The Rules of Engagement (11)

Continuing in 2017
My Struggle (6) Karl Ove Knausgaard NEXT UP: My Struggle: Book 5
Inspector Gamache (13) Louise Penny UP NEXT: (12) A Great Reckoning

Completed in 2017
Marcus Didius Falco (20) Lindsey Davis (20)
Wolfblade Trilogy(3) Jennifer Fallon COMPLETED
The Last Policeman (3) Ben H. WintersCOMPLETED
The Seven Realms Cinda Williams Chima COMPLETED
The Cursed Kingdoms Trilogy (3 of 3) Emily Gee COMPLETED
Neapolitan Novels (4 of 4) Elena Ferrante COMPLETED
Crown of Stars Kate Elliott (7 of 7) COMPLETED
Discworld: Witches Terry Pratchett COMPLETED
Ile-Rien Martha Wells (2 of 2) COMPLETED

To be continued= TBC) in 2018
The Stormlight Archive (2) Brandon Sanderson #3 forthcoming
Foreigner C.J. Cherryh TBC in 2018 NEXT UP: books 13-15
Paksenarrion's World Elizabeth Moon TBC in 2018 NEXT UP: Oath of Fealty

Won't continue or complete
Inspector Rebus Ian Rankin
The Nanotech Succession Linda Nagata READING: Deception Well

_________ New Topic________ Favorite books from birth year to present.

I've begun doing favorite book for each year of my life list . . . I was having trouble until I read Roni's list and thought, yes, books I HAVE reread I enjoyed them so much. (I am tempted though, if there is no reread book for any particular year, to use a book I would love to read again). If there is more than one book I've reread and they are very different, I will also list them. I have a feeling this task is going to take forever! When I start my new thread for 2018 this list will be easier to find. For now, titles only. I'll list the name of the series, rather than individual books, as they are in process of coming out. And you can assume of any writer on the list I have read all or most of their books. (Around 1968 I will no longer list J books.)

J books are ones that I read to myself over and over, not ones that were read to me, although once I could read I did read many of them repeatedly, of course!

The Lord of the Rings
Lucky Jim
J The Eagle of the Ninth
An Episode of Sparrows
J The Borrowers Afield
My Family and Other Animals
J The Sword in the Tree
The Wapshot Chronicle
Gone-Away Lake
The Alexandria Quartet
J The Witch of Blackbird Pond
Sirens of Titan
JThe Borrowers
A Canticle for Leibowitz
J A Cricket in Times Square,The Trouble With Jenny's Ear
The Moviegoer
J Dawn Wind
A Dance to the Music of Time
J The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, The Cat and Mrs. Cary
J A Wrinkle in Time
J Harriet the Spy
J Over Sea, Under Stone
J The Clue of the Broken Locket Vive Nancy Drew!

J Wizard of Earthsea

Sep 22, 2017, 12:27pm Top

Happy new thread, Lucy.
I just got the Dutch translation of A Gentleman in Moscow from the library, and hope to read it next week.

Sep 22, 2017, 12:30pm Top

I haven't started it yet. Hope to today!

Sep 22, 2017, 12:49pm Top

Happy new one, Lucy! A Gentleman in Moscow is my favorite read of the year so far. I think you'll be charmed.

Sep 22, 2017, 12:58pm Top

Happy new thread, Lucy! There has been so much warbling about A Gentleman in Moscow that I have actually put in a hold at my library. I think I am about 290 in line, but they have a lot of copies. Fascinating photos up top!

Sep 22, 2017, 1:37pm Top

Happy new thread!

Sep 22, 2017, 2:56pm Top

Happy New Thread, Lucy!

I'm another A Gentleman in Moscow fan. It's one of those rare ones - I've yet to come across anyone who didn't love it.

Sep 22, 2017, 8:13pm Top

Happy new thread, Lucy.

I am determined to keep up with all my friends better in the last quarter of 2017 as I have been flagging a little in the third quarter and miss getting around the threads as I used to.

Have a lovely weekend.

Sep 24, 2017, 8:17am Top

Happy new thread, Lucy. I enjoyed your description of the "fake Palladian" home in Ireland. Dutch farmhouses generally have the barn and storage areas attached to the house but in a much less elaborate structure than a Palladian. I didn't know the Irish ever did that.

Sep 24, 2017, 10:23am Top

Only the snobbish Anglo Irish did.

Edited: Sep 25, 2017, 3:30am Top

Lovely pictures despite the terrible story. Happy New Thread!

Edit: belated happy reaction on the moose sighting and the Knausgard reading, thank you!! And totally belated Happy Anniversary!

Sep 25, 2017, 8:59am Top

> Ah, I see. I guess they fooled me too because I'm now suspecting that what I assumed, from the road, where just big houses may have had hidden uses in those wings.

Sep 25, 2017, 11:03pm Top

Lovely new thread!!! Thanks for the Irish pics and explanations, Lucy.
Ah --- The Way of Kings is the one I have. Yippeee!

Sep 26, 2017, 8:04am Top

I'd really like to load the photos from my day in Dublin wandering around Leopold Bloom's turf, but my computer is too old to support some of the new software and my ancient iphoto just won't do anything anymore. It's a big drag. I have to deal with the situation soon - go all new, I guess, but I resent it so much and hate spending so much $.

Sep 26, 2017, 1:47pm Top

We enjoy watching "International House Hunters" on TV because we think it's fun to see what kinds of housing are available abroad. We just watched one where a couple from the U.S. was looking to buy a castle in Ireland. They're into medieval reenactment and Irish music. Buying a castle seemed a bit over the top to me...but the Irish music connection made me think of you.

Sep 27, 2017, 12:44pm Top

Happy new thread, Lucy! It's been a while since I stopped by so I thought I'd say hello

Sep 28, 2017, 9:02am Top

>22 ChelleBearss: How nice of you to stop by!

Edited: Oct 9, 2017, 6:21pm Top

105. fantasy ****1/2
The Way of Kings Brandon Sanderson

By far and away the best Sanderson I've encountered and I've read a few (and I mean a few, like four or so). The world-building is excellent and consistent and the world itself intriguing, the characters and the problems they face are absorbing, the plot(s) are gripping -- and clearly there is the overarching Really Big Problem that everyone will have to face, sooner or later, looming over the entirety. I can't even complain about how ridiculously huge the book is. Why not four volumes instead of two chunksters over a thousand pages????? It seems a weird choice to me. (I have only read the first -- but the second Words of Radiance is just as huge.) I can complain only about the problem of dealing with a book that large, not the length per se as it is a good enough tale for one to be happy knowing one will get to stay in that world for a considerable time. There is a minimum of the 'tic', as I think of it, of Sanderson using some capitalized word (in this case Lashings are the ones that irritate me the most) to represent the type of magic being used. The heroic in the novel do use Shardblades and wear Shardplate, but somehow that bothered me less, yet I see no reason to capitalize any of it, and truly don't get it. Bravo Sanderson, lots of hard work went into this. ****1/2

Edited: Sep 28, 2017, 9:14am Top

I'm not going to start the next Sanderson for a few days. A Gentleman in Moscow beckons and it just seems right to give him my exclusive attention!

Sep 28, 2017, 10:54am Top

Happy new thread!! Good luck figuring out the computer stuff. Sounds like "all new" may be the way to go. Unfortunately for the wallet.

Edited: Oct 1, 2017, 10:16am Top

106. fiction *****
A Gentleman in Moscow Amor Towles

All the adjectives that come to mind don't really do justice to Towle's achievement, for this is a novel constructed in its every aspect of paradox and contradictions. Makes me think of what my tai chi teacher always would say, inside the velvet glove of the movements is the iron. It's a book about a man, Count Alexander Rostov, who loses everything: family, possessions, freedom of movement, position and is declared, 1n 1922, a Former Person and told if he ever sets foot out of the Hotel Metropole in Moscow where he has been living since the revolution began in Russia, he would be shot on sight. He moves from his suite on the second floor to a tiny room in a belfry on the top floor. He is exiled, like a russian doll, inside Russia, inside the hotel, inside a tiny room. But the Count is the real deal, a gentleman through and through--and I cannot emphasize that enough. Towles demonstrates what being a truly civilized human being means and requires and it is no small achievement. The count is by no means perfect, he suffers despair and he has flaws and, of course, he is aided by his accomplishments--he knows wines, literature, classical music, foreign languages, and weaponry and he has the advantage too, of being a tall and very comely man. But, for many of his kind, such an exile would have chafed unbearably and the mystery and fascination of the novel is watching the Count find his way through each new challenge/indignity thrown at him. It's rare to encounter fiction that is entirely about loss and change written with grace, humor and reminding us on every page of the great privilege it is to be alive. *****

Oct 1, 2017, 11:12am Top

>27 sibyx: Great review! I've got that one waiting for my in my ever growing TBR pile! :)

Oct 1, 2017, 11:25am Top

>27 sibyx: Great review, Lucy. I too loved Gentleman but I could never have expressed it as well as you...maybe that's why you're a writer and I'm not :)

Oct 1, 2017, 9:21pm Top

Lovely review, Lucy. That says it so well. Off to thumb.

Oct 1, 2017, 9:42pm Top

Oct 2, 2017, 1:21am Top

>31 sibyx: Ahem. : )

Edited: Oct 2, 2017, 8:32am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Oct 2, 2017, 8:33am Top

>26 Berly: Apologies! Too focussed on thanking the three above for their nice words about my review.

Oct 3, 2017, 12:40am Top

I'm 216 in line for A Gentleman in Moscow, darn it! 86 copies out there, though, to look on the positive side.

Oct 3, 2017, 8:29am Top

Oh that is too bad, Roni, I don't think I could handle waiting that long. Around about when it is your turn it will be available for 1 penny plus postage. You'd think they could buy a few extra copies! I bet we don't even have it at our library here!

Oct 3, 2017, 8:50am Top

>3 sibyx: Go here to see my September stats.

Oct 5, 2017, 6:51pm Top

>27 sibyx: Great review, Lucy! I knew you would love it. It is my favorite read of the year so far; I was utterly charmed by it.

Nice September stats, and congrats on passing 100 books read!

Oct 6, 2017, 8:17am Top

Silly me! I didn't even notice I'd passed 100! Due to reading some tough or very long books I'm a bit behind on reaching my "double" 75. Unlikely I'll make it, yet again, this year. One does have to scheme a little bit, some novellas here and there are helpful.

Oct 6, 2017, 4:05pm Top

Just finished a novella I can recommend, All Systems Red by Martha Wells. Other novellas worth reading: Binti, Dusk or Dark or Day or Dawn and The Heart of What was Lost if you've read the Dragonbone Chair trilogy.

Oct 6, 2017, 5:38pm Top

We like Martha Wells, so I will see if I can acquire that one!

I have the Dragonbone Chair series waiting for the 'right' moment (yeah, I'm hoarding.)

Oct 6, 2017, 7:38pm Top

>27 sibyx: I am not back a full 24 hours and you book bullet me. Lucy, I thought better of your sense of noblesse oblige.

Oct 7, 2017, 9:45am Top

>42 richardderus: How delightful to see you here, Richard! I've only seen one or two snarky review of it, both surprisingly narrowminded, as if the person just couldn't stand the idea of a book like this one. (One was NPR, but I've totally given up on them.)

Anyway, I've been a busy person so finished two books yesterday, one from making applesauce while listening to audio and the other a psychology book I was rereading and I'm glad I did!

Edited: Oct 7, 2017, 10:31am Top

107. ♬ hist mys ****
Scandal Takes a Holiday Lindsey Davis

Set in Ostia, a scribe has gone missing and as he is connected with the imperial household Falco is sent to find him. The whole family goes along, of course. There is pirates and kidnapping and smuggling and the usual derring do. Fun, of course. ****

Edited: Oct 9, 2017, 2:25pm Top

108. psych *****
Invisible Guests: The Development of Imaginal Dialogues Mary Watkins

This is a dense and radical look by a respected post-Jungian depth psychologist at theories of human development and the therapeutic goals that arise from these theories. She proposes that past practice (still only a little over a century old!) have more in common with cultural values than the living reality of the human pysche. In our western culture abstract logical thought has been given pride of place. Single-minded unity within the individual has been the most desirable telos (goal or outcome, more or less) in emerging adults. (Ego firmly in charge.) The end desired result is a single internal voice that forms the whole adult person.

Watkins proposes that the mind does not work that way. In her view, it is only through dialogue that humans can learn. Dialogue must first be learned --parents talking to children, children talking back, children playing with imaginary friends, seen and unseen, and with other children and so on. It has been assumed that particularly the imaginal dialogues were merely a method for learning to BE in the real world. Discarded once the individual masters interacting with others. However, we ignore, that as adults we continue to talk to ourselves, indulge in fantasies, and so forth. Watkins suggests that this need for internal dialogue never stops and is natural to the human psyche and is not only a viable form of problem solving, but likely even one of the most effective.

You do not learn from monologue, either inside yourself (where is can become pathological); you do not learn if you ignore your internal voices--we've all heard that voice saying, "don't do that!" which we then all too often ignore! If you can't listen to yourself then you cannot interact genuinely with other people or with the environment around you. Respect for self and for others is learned through dialogue with the often conflicting parts within yourself. If you are worried about pathology, Watkins addresses this issue, and curiously, in studies of schizophrenics, the internal voice(s) tend toward monologue! Certainly, they do not listen, have no interest in dialogue.

Therapeutically: What if a person can give a personality to their 'depression' - learn to talk to or write (as in a play) the dialogue that might then take place between your self that wants to get on with living and your self that wants to hide under the desk. What might you learn about yourself? It's deeply intriguing!

This is my second reading and as well as the reminder to remain open to my internal dialogue and to use personification to resolve conflicts and find creative solutions in my work, I find myself thinking about the current craziness in our country: television and movies, I suspect, play a kind of role for adults, of providing personas to be in some kind of imaginal relationship with. Only that life is in vibrant color. Work and real life are usually, for most, rather black and white, monochrome. Our current government leaders across the board (I include House and Senate) have no concept of dialogue, of listening, or of respect for others. Giving our imaginations free play, giving it an equal role of importance to logic and abstract thought. Wow!

Most of us here at LT know how powerful and necessary imagination is.*****

I've massively rewritten this review and probably will again. This is a very hard book to write about!

Oct 7, 2017, 11:28am Top

>43 sibyx:, >44 sibyx:, >45 sibyx: Oh, NPR. What a patchy record they have with me. Not bad suggestions, but missed ones, books they ignored to focus on the popular books. Can't blame them exactly, they need earholes the way TV needs eyeballs, but it's a let-down to me.

Towles is on the list. I wasn't gripped by the Falco series, for some reason, but I can see the appeal quite clearly. And Invisible Guests intrigues me. I look forward to reading your review.

Edited: Oct 7, 2017, 5:23pm Top

>46 richardderus: Forgot to ask -- do you have a thread anywhere?

Oct 7, 2017, 5:24pm Top

Oct 7, 2017, 5:56pm Top

>48 richardderus: Richard, you crack me up! And A Gentleman in Moscow is my favorite read of the year so far, so hurry up and get to it.

Lucy, you can find Richard here: My 2017 Thread

Oct 8, 2017, 6:34pm Top

Hi Lucy. I'm glad you so enjoyed A Gentleman in Moscow; it's most certainly going to be one of my top reads of 2017. And Invisible Guests looks quite interesting....

I thought of you this morning during my run: I encountered a Corgi puppy named Huck (I don't know what his people's names are). I got to pet him while his people worked with him on "stay" and "visit," trying to get him to be calm with me. He was so soft and adorable, it was well worth a small break in the middle of my run.

Oct 8, 2017, 8:14pm Top

I am still waiting for A Gentleman in Moscow to hit the stores here......urghh!

Hope your weekend has been a good one, Lucy.

Oct 9, 2017, 1:59pm Top

>45 sibyx: Great review; thanks for it. As to the question of what if you could talk to your depression or whatever, I used to practice a form of meditation in which that was precisely what I did. Very useful it was.

Edited: Oct 9, 2017, 2:28pm Top

>52 majleavy: Thank you. I've already rewritten my "review" which is as much notes to help me remember the book later as anything. It was so hard to write about coherently!

I have 'dialogues' with my "muse" mainly, although I sometimes had other conversations. It is hard work, so I do it for a time, then forget and have to be reminded how effective it is. Sometimes I have to hear things I don't want to hear!

Oct 9, 2017, 2:58pm Top

Hello Sixby! I hope all is well with you.

>24 sibyx: This a fantastic review for a series I have been wanting to engage, but the length has held me at bay. The covers and color are very attractive, but bulk is a bit of a turn off. Tad Williams is on my lsit to explore as well.

>27 sibyx: You hit the nail on the head about A Gentleman in Moscow!. I loved reading your review as it told the truth and mirrored much of what I said in my own review. Excellent!

Edited: Oct 10, 2017, 6:26am Top

>45 sibyx: This is a great review of what looks like a fascinating book! As you know I dabble more in the spiritual literature than in the scientific books to find solutions for my issues, maybe because this way I can easier leave logic behind. I guess both parts often lead to similar places. Authors like Tolle and Singer encourage you to listen to the dialogue in your head and to separate the voices to be able to let go of the hurtful, misleading ego.

But also without the spiritual basis the dialogue idea can work. In my early thirties I found a way to get rid of the auto-aggressive part of my eating disorders by turning them into a seperate "person" and disinviting them from my life. In that case I wasn't friendly, but I was polite, like "so you're here again, trying to hurt me. You're not good for me, and you're not welcome anymore, please leave". I've tried recently doing the same with my anxieties (when I "catch them early"). I appreciate them as protective mechanisms that once were needed when I was little and had no voice, but try telling them they're not needed anymore, they can retire and relax. Doesn't always work, but then often I can at least tell myself "okay, I'm feeling anxiety/ feeling depressed right now, I have visitors I didn't invite, but they'll leave again".

Just got my sample for *Gentleman* and it's great!
Edit: bought the whole book now. It wants to be read :)

Oct 12, 2017, 10:36am Top

Greetings to all who have stopped by -- especially those who still have A Gentleman in Moscow to look forward to!

>52 majleavy: and >54 brodiew2: The Sandersons are awfully long, no question, but except for the bits where people Lash about for pages, it is just the sort of thing I want when I want to read this sort of book: characters I can settle down with for a long long time, watching them mature and change and figure out how to handle themselves in whatever complex situations they find themselves in.

>55 Deern: Indeed, I think the dialogue method works fine without any spiritual, um, clutter. Too much authority resides in some of those beings be they small case or upper case in the godly department. That doesn't feel safe to me. Voices that might start bossing me around? No. That sounds like potential pathology.

One helpful outcome of a dialogue I had yonks ago with my depression (who names himself Cloak, by the way) is that the "you are pathetic" voice that often accompanies that state is entirely a different voice and being with a different purpose (although they are intertwined, since one tends to lead to the other). And virtually all internal voices, characters, whatever they are, swear they are only trying to help 'me'. And that, of course, is what a real dialogue is all about. How many novels have as a theme, an overprotecting authority figure that has to be somehow overcome? Much of that goes on internally as externally. Being a decent self-critic is necessary but if it goes beyond some middle ground it becomes disastrous, etc.

Oct 12, 2017, 10:46am Top

109. fantasy ****1/2
Words of Radiance Brandon Sanderson

Have to hand it to Sanderson, another gigantic tome I enjoyed from one end to the other. And amazingly, yeah, there is still a lot to sort out. And, rilly, I can't tell you anything that went on in Vol 2 unless you have already read Vol 1 or I will be spoiling things. Suffice it to say that Things Develop. Kaladin Stormblessed continues to struggle with ethical issues that hold back his development, Dalinar continues to be a rock although he does make the right choices when push comes to shove whether for the good of all or for himself, his son Adolin's hair stays marvelously tousled, Shallan Davar begins to come into her own, Sadeas . . . well I can't tell you what happens to him. Of course, I enjoy it most when various characters are being rude and witty. You will find out who the Voidbringers are and will get a better idea of the Bigger Picture. Anyway, Book 3 comes out in a few weeks. Not sure if that is a Good or a Bad thing for me as I will then have to wait three years for the last book. Enjoy!

Oct 12, 2017, 1:10pm Top

>45 sibyx: This sounds fascinating, although I'm not sure I've got the insight or knowledge needed to read the book itself.

>57 sibyx: Good luck with the wait. I have two authors I'm currently mad at for making me hold on for their next book. I'm not good with the patience!

Oct 12, 2017, 10:32pm Top

Thanks for the Sanderson review. Now I'm asking myself if vol 1 is exactly the kind of book that I want to read now. I oughtn't, but I might!

Oct 13, 2017, 6:23am Top

>57 sibyx: You've reminded me that I read The Way of Kings at the end of last year and never got round to reading Words of Radiance. But at least now I will be just in time for book 3!

Edited: Oct 18, 2017, 11:34am Top

110. essays ****
Hold Your Hour and Have Another Brendan Behan

I can't possibly do justice to the humorous quality of these essays Behan wrote for a column for a "Doob-e-lin" newsaper in the 1950's. A goodly number are set in his neighborhood pub, peopled, naturally, with Dublin characters who are only too happy to comment on events local and international or fantastical. I laughed a lot while reading it, but I would have laughed more if I was Irish, and even more if I was a Dubliner. I could feel that for every joke I got another went zipping by. I wouldn't have gone out of my way to find the book, I happened upon it, but I have no regrets. ***1/2

Oct 18, 2017, 11:35am Top

I've been off at a music weekend -- thus the silence. Barely any reading either! Hope to get around to visit folks soon.

Edited: Oct 25, 2017, 5:26pm Top

111. classic fiction ***1/2
The Bent Twig Dorothy Canfield Fisher

The virtue in Dorothy Canfield Fisher's writing is what I can only describe as experiencing the same bracing air I breathe every time I walk outside, for, as she was, I am privileged to live in Vermont. Part of her charm is the way her characters can shift from being as subtle and rational as anyone in a James novel, to being as wild and emotional and even as sensual as a Lawrence character, not as bluntly, to be sure but, like Wharton, she doesn't overlook the physicality of being alive and in love or suffering. So there is a mix and the work is anchored in a reality. I'm always astonished by how "modern" the early 19th century already was--how we have changed, since then, less than we like to think. I find people from true Victorian novels distant, exotic, even strange at times, but I recognize the young woman, Sylvia Marshall, as a contemporary. She would have been about contemporaneous with my grandmothers, in fact. Sylvia is brought up out West, in a big college town, a Madison, where her father is a professor of economics. Her parents both have Vermont roots, her father's very wealthy, her mother's yeomanly. Needless to say his choice of wife casts him out of the family and he believes in making his own way. Their children are brought up simply in a household that works and plays together--a bit idealized--but whatever. The conflict is in Sylvia herself, whether she will adopt her parents' values or if she will choose to marry someone wealthy and live a life of ease and luxury. No doubt Fisher was familiar with Marx, Veblen and etc. and was exploring how a young woman might come to a true understanding of what exploitation of others, both in private and public ways, consists of and what it can do to people. She is also unblinkingly straight about the fact that people choose for themselves--"society" per se, is not to blame for all ills-- and, same as we do now, she ponders the gray area between character and upbringing. How a functional and healthy upbringing might make the most difference of all to the more vulnerable characters (in which category the protagonist would include herself). The novel moves characteristic of its era, slowly, that is, building up a picture of this young woman and the choices she must face. I expect it is a Virago book, but I came across it for (almost) free in a library discard bin. She makes fun of James here and there, and I enjoyed that! I also detected that one of the characters is most likely modeled on Morton Fullerton, Edith Wharton's (very briefly) lover and life long friend. ***1/2

a few quotes for my own records:
"She was alive to all the impressions reflected so insistently upon her, but she transmuted them into products which would immensely have surprised her parents, they being under the usual parental delusion that they knew every corner of her heart."

on James:
"Do you know, I've just thought what it is you all remind me of--I mean Lydford, and the beautiful clothes, and nobody bothering about anything but tea and ideas and knowing the right people. I knew it made me think of something else, and now I know--it's a Henry James novel!"
Page took up her lead instantly, and said gravely, putting himself beside her as another outsider: "Well of course, that's their ideal. That's what they try to be like--at least to talk like James people. But it's not always easy. The vocabulary is so limited."
"Limited!" cried Mrs. Marshall-Smith. "There are more words in a Henry James novel than in any dictionary!"
"Oh yes, words enough!" admitted Page, "but all about the same sort of thing. It reminds me of the seminarists in Rome, who have to use Latin for everything. They can manage predestination and vicarious atonement like a shot, but when it comes to ordering somebody to call them for the six-twenty train to Naples, they're lost.. . . I suppose a man could even make an attenuated sort of love in the lingo, but I'll be hanged if I see how anybody could order a loaf of bread."
And so on -- very funny stuff! And contemporaneous to boot.
To be fair: later on she references The Golden Bowl for a moment of connection between Sylvia and Page (her romantic interest) in a very appreciative way.

Oct 19, 2017, 11:22pm Top

Lovely review, Lucy!
I'm grinning at the James conversation. She gets that piece of him exactly right.
SO O.K. I must read DCF one of these days.

Oct 20, 2017, 9:38am Top

>62 sibyx: Oh my, why did I read that you've been offended at a music weekend and therefore silent? What a relief to see I misread!
Sadly, the Behan book is not available for me, only some plays, and I don't much enjoy eyereading plays.

Edited: Oct 25, 2017, 5:26pm Top

mystery roman ****
See Delphi and Die Lindsey Davis

Falco and Helena, plus the teenagers, Albia, two nephews, and the son of Falco's trainer at the gym go to Greece because Helena's brother Aulus has sent a letter about some mysterious murders and it's the sort of thing that the Emperor doesn't like and Aulus's parents want to know why he is taking so long to get to Athens where he is to study law. So we get travel tour groups, roman style, Olympia (worse than your worst travel nightmare), Delphi, Athens and the usual mystery with twists and turns. ****

The next book is read by the earlier reader not Simon Prebble, not as good, I'm afraid, but I will soldier on.

Edited: Oct 21, 2017, 8:56am Top

>64 LizzieD: DCF is very rewarding. I've read several, although her history of Vermont is probably what impressed me most. I'll have to look to see which one I would recommend. Not this one, I don't think, not for a first book.

>65 Deern: Oh that's funny! Behan's most famous book is Borstal Boy -- lots of slangy Irish lingo. This has a fair amount of it too -- I get more than I did then, but still missed tons. I need to reread BB, having read it in weird circumstances as an uncomfortable guest in someone's house in England where I was trying to be very scarce. I read that and a lot of Sylvia Plath. A very weird long weekend. Oh and it's about time Behan spent in a youth detention center (I guess not quite prison) -- (16, making bombs for the IRA or trying to . . . ). The paperback I was reading had turned completely dry and yellow and the pages were all falling out and I had a terrible time keeping it organized.

Oct 22, 2017, 7:50am Top

>61 sibyx: I've never heard of him, but like the sound of this, will look out for the author. Thanks!

Edited: Oct 26, 2017, 11:13am Top

mys apoc *****
The Last Policeman Ben H. Winters

I don't know who found or recommended this three book series, but I want to thank them! As I debated how many stars I had to laugh--any book where I behave in a weaselly manner in order to grab time to read it as much as I can--that's one of my criteria for a five-star read. And, without stopping to devote a moment to my other reads, I've picked up book 2. So what's the story? A giant asteroid, 6 1/2 kilometers big is going to smack into Earth in six months. When the book opens it is still not known where it will hit, only that it will. The protagonist, Henry (Hank) Palace is a young, mid-twenties cop and a very new detective on the Concord NH police force. His goal in the time remaining is to keep working and to behave decently. Investigating a death, said to be one of the many suicides (known as 'hangers' for the preferred method in New England) something about it bothers him and he decides to investigate. His elders on the force humor him, because why not? As he delves deeper into the mystery even the skeptical get interested. There is a side plot that has an even darker aura around it, but Hank chooses to let it be, he will face this catastrophe unflinchingly. Wonderful! *****

In some ways Hank Palace reminds me of the Count in A Gentleman in Moscow both determined to be decent human beings in trying times.

Now folks, a word of caution, just because I loved it doesn't mean you will. I hesitated a long time to read it because I couldn't wrap my head around how/where it will end . . .

Oct 25, 2017, 11:14pm Top

Never you mind. I've ordered a copy already. I'm being cautious and haven't ordered the other two. Virtue reigns!

Oct 26, 2017, 9:54am Top

>69 sibyx: Great review, Lucy - if you posted that, I will thumb. I loved that one, too. I need to read the next one, but I think a reread of the first one might be in order before I jump in since it's been awhile.

Oct 27, 2017, 2:48pm Top

Something to consider, Lucy?


Oct 27, 2017, 6:08pm Top

That's going right on my Christmas list, for sure!

Edited: Oct 28, 2017, 10:32am Top

114. mys/apoc ****1/2
Countdown City Ben H. Winters

In Countdown City all semblance of "normalcy" is rapidly evaporating. What made the first book so amazing was the tension between the "situation" and this attempt by Henry Palace, to remain sane, remain civilized while everything around him was fraying. He was still a real detective on a real police force, but just barely. You could feel every minute how the norms were balanced hair thin, but still holding. Hank's insistence on remaining calm had a tension as well, as it was his way off retaining his sanity, but also, arguably an ostrich manoeuvre. Book 2 opens a few months later to a different world. Things are unravelling fast, but there are odd pockets of "normalish" remaining. An old babysitter, on whom young Henry once had a crush, comes to ask his help even though he isn't a detective anymore. He agrees to try and find her missing husband even though he knows it is hopeless. It is something to do. Henry, however, is forced to question his own behavior and beliefs--and in the course of his search for the missing husband, has to face some tough realities--he is maturing and changing, so in fact, although book 2 has a different flavor to it, perhaps less mystery and more pre-apocalypse it is almost as satisfying as book 1. Onward to book 3, without delay! ****1/2

Oct 28, 2017, 3:53pm Top

I want to throw out a request for participants in a group read of one of my favorite but relatively unknown fantasy novels, God Stalk by P. C. Hodgell. The "stalk" refers to stalking gods, not a stem. It is the first of a still ongoing series, but it is a complete story and easy to walk away from after the first book if you wish--indeed, all of us had to wait many years after this one to get a sequel. I am looking at possibly November, December or January for the time frame, but the actual month will depend on what those interested work out. If you would be at all interested, please PM me or drop by my thread and let me know.

Oct 31, 2017, 4:25am Top

>69 sibyx: >74 sibyx: Glad you enjoyed these Lucy. No spoliers, but I liked Book 3 a lot as well.

Oct 31, 2017, 1:21pm Top

115. mys apoc *****
World of Trouble(3( Ben H. Winters

The final book in the three covering the last six months of Henry "Hank" Palace's life before the giant asteroid hits Earth. Hank is settled in a good situation, a big group house, all former cops, in the Berkshire area living with Trish McConnell from his own Concord NH force, but he can't rest easy. Nico, his beloved and mercurial sister, who he has promised to take care of, has disappeared out west somewhere intent on some cockamamie plan to save the world. He must go after her. And so he goes, with his little dog and with Cortez, one of the more colorful characters, whom he encountered in the second book. So this book gets the reader out of New England and traveling to far Ohio (by bicycle, remember) as the last days wind down. They find where Nico is supposed to be, but then they find an almost dead girl, not Nico, and clues that convince Hank that Nico had been there recently. There is a desperate determination in this one, Hank is driven to find her, driven by his compulsion to Know, and it keeps him busy and sane, just barely, saner than most people. Don't read this looking for a happy ending, but Hank has lived a very full life in the six months we've known him; he has no regrets, other than the fact of the asteroid, so neither should we, whatever happens. *****

Edited: Dec 28, 2017, 8:13pm Top

I've begun doing the list of best book for each year of my life . . . I was having trouble until I read Roni's list and thought, yes, books I HAVE reread I enjoyed them so much. I might have to make a sub-category of books I've only read once but intend to read again, but for now, all books here have been read more than once although that does mean some years might be blank! And this is going to take me forever! If a year has more than one book I've reread, they will all go on the list. When I start my new thread for 2018 this will go near the top and be easier to find. I'm in two minds about supplying author's name.

Nov 1, 2017, 12:16pm Top

>61 sibyx: Omigosh, I'd completely forgotten Dorothy Canfield Fisher! My mother gave me Understood Betsy when I commented on how girls thought in mysterious ways. She said it would help me understand her and, by extension, "the woman of the species."

Didn't work, but I liked the book, and The Bent Twig.

>69 sibyx:, >74 sibyx:, >77 sibyx: Dunno if it was me who recommended them to you, but I really, really enjoyed the books. They're terrific reads and very thought-provoking.

Edited: Nov 1, 2017, 12:23pm Top

I think maybe it was you, Richard. Sometimes I list in my "comments" who recommended the book. But I'm totally unreliable!

Aren't they -- thought provoking. Basically everyone goes "a little" or "a lot" crazy. Hank is really no exception except it is a good crazy. Cortez is a little less good, say, but not the worst. And so on. All about choice and what is ethical/civilized behavior, and why it matters, innit?

Nov 1, 2017, 12:30pm Top

>80 sibyx: Exactly that! Why choose to be civilized? Why does it require "permission" in the form of no-consequences-to-me futureless now for people to be their authentic selves? Had I been writing the books, I'd've jabbed a stick in the eye of the religious by having the Pope host massive orgies in the Sistine Chapel or something, have the Queen command the troops to open fire on the hoi polloi, and the like. Good thing I didn't write them, they'd've ticked off a lot of people!

Nov 1, 2017, 1:27pm Top

Happy November 1st!

Nov 2, 2017, 8:52am Top

116. history Am. ****
Lafayette in the Somewhat United States Sarah Vowell

Lafayette, lest you forget, was nineteen years old when he arrived in America, burning to prove himself. He was essentially an orphan, but an orphan and heir with means from a distinguished aristocratic military family with the 'home place" in the equivalent of the back hills of some remote state, say Vermont, or Minnesota, but the means to whoop it up in Paris too. The important thing is NINETEEN. By the end of the war he was a mature old 25. I'm adopting Vowell's enthusiastic, breeziness but really I'm not sure what to make of her approach, stuffy old me. It's a sliver biography, maybe more a portrait or introduction to the man, presented in a lively way. As Vowell follows the chronology of Lafayette's Marvelous American Adventure, she is ever alert to the juicy tidbit and when she finds one steps right up and makes a pun or pithy comment about it, say, Lafayette impulsively hugging the rather stiff Washington in a fit of French enthusiasm. A breathless moment later she is describing in excellent detail a battle at sea or a retreat from a disastrous engagement on land, or (more rarely) a successful engagement. I can see Vowell at various libraries, poring over letters waiting for some absurdity to pop out at her. She also visits the various battle sites and houses--including the chateau Lafayette was born in in Auvergne--to get an idea of what people make of Lafayette today. The rangers and historical actors at the sites know their stuff, is the conclusion, and Williamsburg gets an A plus, by the way, for giving the straight story on the French contribution. Which was HUGE. Without Lafayette and his total commitment and enthusiasm, and yes, despite his youth, real skill, and without the French Navy, possibly in reverse order, and without the wonderful and terrible irony of Louis XVI's support of the American desire to be independent of England, we likely would not have succeeded. No, wait, let me restate that. We would not have succeeded in seceding from the British Empire. And we have forgotten. Of course, this is a country where more than a few people aren't sure if the Revolution was fought before or after the Civil War. Which has me on a sidetrack that recently I read an interesting essay about the fact if we hadn't succeeded slavery would have been abolished sooner and without a bloody civil war. Food for thought. But where does that put the French? I think I'll stop, right here.

I imagine this would be a fabulous audio listen -- especially if Vowell herself is reading. It's a different sort of history, but very lively and very well done. ****

Edited: Nov 2, 2017, 9:01am Top

>81 richardderus: Although I think I fall on the other side of that equation, it was the lack of judgement Hank has toward how people choose to "go" that makes it out of the ordinary.

>82 ChelleBearss: !!! Love it!

So Vowell has got me going on that period again and since I can see, unless I cheat and read only the shortest books on my shelves, that I won't make 150, I'm going to work on some chunksters. I've pulled out the Chernow on George Washington, partly because I want to ask for the Grant bio for Xmas and can't have two Chernows sitting unread on my bio shelf. After that there is a follow-up on Washington AFTER the revolution, and I also have a bio of Jefferson collecting dust. So off I go.

I'm well into the Atwood and afraid it is turning into one of those "mean girls" narratives, not my favorite. I'll plug on out of respect for Atwood, she sure can write!

And yeah, I'm bogging a bit in the Ada Palmer sf book - something terribly mannered about it, I'm still waiting to get caught up and this has led, somehow, to reading two sf books at once. Not good.

Nov 2, 2017, 10:55am Top

Don't miss my changed topper. Herself. >1 sibyx:

Nov 2, 2017, 10:59am Top

LOVE that! So gorgeous - and Miss Posey looks delighted with herself!

Nov 2, 2017, 5:14pm Top

Lovely topper.

Knowing little or nothing about Lafayette and the French, I'm hovering around seeing if I can get that one here. Cheers!

Nov 2, 2017, 6:27pm Top

This might be a perfect place to begin!

Nov 2, 2017, 9:15pm Top

>1 sibyx: gorgeous Miss Po!

Nov 2, 2017, 9:18pm Top

Love the colors in the topper, and of course Miss Posey!

Nov 2, 2017, 9:20pm Top

>85 sibyx: What a lovely Posey pose. My adventures mid-island today gave me a much-coveted peep at fall color so sorely lacking here directly by the sea. I waited for my ride home under a changing maple. Yummy.

Edited: Dec 28, 2017, 8:14pm Top

117. ♬ mys roman ****
Saturnalia Lindsey Davis

It's come around to that time of year again, Saturnalia, Falco's least favorite (does he care for any of them?) holiday. Of course there's more than the usual seasonal mischief afoot. Veleda, the German priestess has been captured and is going to be ritually murdered as part of a celebration of roman power, and Justinus, Helena's brother who was in love with her back in the day, is distraught. Veleda escapes, Justinus disappears, and at the same time a severed head is found in a fountain in the house of the wealthy patrician who was housing Veleda in secret. Everyone wants to blame her so they can feel better about doing her in. Falco has to find Veleda and is determined to find whoever killed the patrician's brother-in-law. He finds himself wandering a cemetery being haunted by an annoying ghost and having to go to the endless Saturnalia parties hosted by his family -- and Helena's, oh, and the drunken revels of the Vigiles. It is all too much! Anacrites, of course is skulking around making more trouble. Nice and complex and Falco is enjoyably frazzled. ****

Nov 3, 2017, 8:46am Top

>89 lauralkeet: >90 Berly: Yes, she is gorgeous -- corgis look especially marvelous surrounded by golden autumn leaves and light.

>91 richardderus: I'm glad you got a dose of autumn color. Good medicine!

Nov 3, 2017, 10:35am Top

About like this, just perfect.

Nov 3, 2017, 1:58pm Top

Autumn colors both on top and the bottom, I love it!

Edited: Nov 4, 2017, 6:21am Top

Aaaaaaaw, love the Posey pic! :D My current struggle with my neighbors' demanding cat (neighbors are away since September, returning in 3 weeks) makes me miss a happy dog in my life even more. Walks with a dog in an autumn forest, happy memories!
Wishing you a lovely weekend!

Edit to say that I like cats, but am not used to them and don't "understand" them. I'll learn. :)

Edited: Nov 4, 2017, 8:46am Top

Walks without a dog are not the same. Hard to say what is missing, dog chi, I guess. I love the sight of a dog weaving back and forth on the path ahead of me. All the corgis I've had love to show off and do things like jump up on a big fallen tree trunk and run along it (with the excuse of chasing a chipmunk). Po has one log she loves that crosses a stream while we mere mortals have to use stepping stones. Her one cat moment!

Cats. The curious thing I've noticed is that the ones, like Siamese and Bengal etc. that have been purposefully bred to be friendly etcetera, are far more interactive, quirky. The differences in behaviour and personality between Tenzing (the siamese) and Ernie who is 100% cat (father a huge wild Tom, mother abandoned when little and somewhat feral) are immense. Most of Ernie's interactions with us happen when he wants something, pretty blatantly. Tenzing is curious and as affectionate as a dog, basically, and has so many quirky things he does I can't list them. Ernie would be fine indefinitely if we were away and someone came in a couple of times a day to feed him and clean the litter box. Tenzing would be frantic and lonely after a couple of days. Housesitter would be required.

Enough about pets. My book news is that I really am into the Ada Palmer now. It's been a long time since I've read a book that took well over a hundred pages to "get into". The future Earth she's built is very complex and radically different and she gives you no help. You're alone to find your own way, following the occasional crumb-- carefully laid down, I might add, by the author --a feature of sf called 'in-clueing' that sf readers LIKE and non-sf readers generally find very off-putting. Anyway the complexities include people having different names for one another and a sufficiently different culture happening that it takes awhile to get what the problem is. Unlike most futuristic stuff (barring the old Star Trek) it's Utopian, and that is also fun, now I'm with the program. I've been coming around to the use of the pronoun they as a gender neutral term and Ada has clinched it for me. Tempting to become a they-sayer in fact. It does shift your brain in (I find) a good way.

Plus, and I can feel Peggy getting excited already, a few characters speak entirely in latin! It's a hoot. (and yes, it is translated.)

Edited: Nov 6, 2017, 12:06pm Top

118. sf ****1/2
Too Like the Lightning Ada Palmer

Hard work to get into but so so rewarding once I got there, got acclimated to this complex world of the future Earth. People collect not by nations but by what I can only call interests and these are called hives. There are seven principal hives -- Humanist (sporty), Mitsubishi (owning property), Cousins (therapy/spiritual life) and so on. Plenty is not really explained, such as . . what the economies are based on, where food is grown, etcetera, and there are Hiveless people and some other categories. As I said, it's complex and there are exceptions to exceptions. So plot. Every year a list of who are the ten most important people gets published, and someone is tinkering with it, stealing and changing it, revealing a weakness that seems to focus on one family (known as bashes and voluntary rather than purely people who are related) the Saneer-Weeksbooth' bash. It happens that they are in charge of monitoring, worldwide, the incredible transit system, individual cars that go very very fast and have to be routed carefully so as not to crash into one another. It is the basis, though, for a nationless world, since the whole world is accessible in a couple of hours. This 'bash is also hiding another secret, a young boy who has extraordinary abilities. The narrator is a Servicer, a man named Mycroft Canner who committed atrocities over a decade earlier but has been rehabilitated somehow or other and now works for whomever summons him. He does have special skills, so he works for the people at the very top of this hierarchy -- because there sure is a hierarchy. With a latin only Caesar at the very top! It's a strange book with a lot going on, but Palmer seems to have a handle on all of it, more than I do that is certain! I gather that they are an historian who specializes in the 17-18th centuries (with little forays into the 19th). Mycroft addresses the reader in the old-pre-modern novel manner and many folks love to dress up as musketeers essentially. Yeah, in this future the idea that gender causes people to limit their horizons has taken firm hold and you are a they unless you specifically want to be addressed he or she which is kind of frowned upon as archaic behaviour. Also in this future practicing religious beliefs communally is strictly forbidden. Everyone has a 'sensayer' - a spiritual counselor, versed in all religions who they can summon to talk to and counsel them as needed. The tension in the plot arises out of two aspects of the human personality, the first being the impulse (instinct?) to centralize and consolidate power versus the desire for autonomy and the second that for some, violence is like a drug or sex, intoxicating and addicting, and seems to be built in to our species. It's good stuff, but this is heady sf, not even remotely space opera or escapist. ****1/2

Nov 5, 2017, 7:46pm Top

Nov 6, 2017, 6:57am Top

>97 sibyx: I love your musings on dog walks and cat personalities. And becoming a "they-sayer"! It's growing on me, too, the more I hear it used.

Nov 6, 2017, 10:40am Top

>98 sibyx: That sounds complicated!

I love the description of your two cats and their differences. However, my Edgar was a tabby cat born to a feral mother and he was intensely attached to me. I adopted him when he was but four or five weeks old so he was particularly tiny. Abby, a tuxedo cat, is also very social. She interacts with us a lot, although it is true that her needs for food and especially warmth are predominant. On weekday mornings I get up and sit in a particular rocking chair while I drink my first cup of coffee. She always comes in and hangs out beside me wanting to be petted. It's our 15-minute routine. Then she returns to whatever warm place in which she plans to spend the next few hours sleeping.

Nov 6, 2017, 12:50pm Top

>98 sibyx: So you get why Too Like the Lightning was one of my top two books for 2016! (The other was The Fifth Season; both very complex and involved and totally excellent.) I must confess, however, that I haven't had the energy to plow into Seven Surrenders yet--I suspect that doing so soon after finishing the first book helps keep the complexities straight.

Nov 6, 2017, 1:15pm Top

>98 sibyx:, >102 ronincats: I'm stalled at about p100 in Too Like the Lightning because it requires so much concentration. It is a beautiful book but it is challenging me, which I am really just not up for this moment. I will return to it!

The N.K. Jemisin trilogy was inhalable for me, and utterly gloriously immersive.

Nov 6, 2017, 4:15pm Top

>98 sibyx: Would it be appropriate for an (almost) 15 year-old girl? My granddaughter was telling me about a similar sounding book she is currently reading and loving. I'm wondering if it would be a good Christmas gift for her.

Nov 6, 2017, 4:24pm Top

>104 RebaRelishesReading: Butting in with my opinion--no. It gets into some sexual stuff at the end that I could have done without myself that I wouldn't feel appropriate for that age person.

Edited: Nov 6, 2017, 5:11pm Top

I would say firmly, Nope. If a friend gets her reading it . . . fine, but not grandma! I'm assuming it's a known thing she likes sf? If she also likes fantasy . . .

Some other suggestions -- maybe her mom knows if she's read any of these -- The Ann Leckie series starting with Ancillary Justice, Leckie might have the start of something new out too.

The Becky Chambers (so far only two) book series starting with A Closed and Common Orbit.

Nov 6, 2017, 10:44pm Top

>104 RebaRelishesReading: >106 sibyx: Leckie just released Provenance which is a standalone set in the same universe but with very little connection to the Ancillary Justice books.

I think the Vorkosigan books by Lois McMaster Bujold would also be great sci-fi for someone of that age.

Nov 7, 2017, 8:05am Top

>107 kgodey: Brilliant! Indeed they would!

Nov 7, 2017, 1:49pm Top

Thanks Kriti and Lucy. I actually don't know if she's generally wild about sf. She does love The Hunger Games books and mentioned the one I was referring to (and can't remember the name of). I'll have to probe more.

Nov 7, 2017, 8:53pm Top

Sixteen is a tough age to buy books for. Very risky!

Nov 7, 2017, 10:38pm Top

The Liaden books, too, maybe starting with the first Theo book.

Nov 7, 2017, 11:18pm Top

All good! All good!
I wonder why I'm reading what I'm reading when I could be with Jemison or Leckie. Add Palmer to my list for sure!!!!
Nevertheless, my ear will always hear "they" as plural. Sorry. World pass me by.

Nov 8, 2017, 11:52am Top

>111 ronincats: Thank you too, Roni.

Edited: Nov 9, 2017, 12:31pm Top

119. contemp fic ***1/2
Cat's Eye Margaret Atwood

Something about the spirit or soul of Cat's Eye grated me, the way a constant sound at exactly the distance to make it hard to identify might. I'm admitting I don't quite know what it was that irritated. It's the life of a woman, a painter name Elaine Risley, from childhood into her present, a couple of weeks in her mid-late fifties (approximately) when she is back in Toronto, the city in which she lived through her childhood and young adulthood. She's there for a retrospective show of her work, she's a successful and well-regarded painter. As I got into it I felt there the dread of having stumbled into a "mean girls" scenario and the scared rabbit child. Elaine has forgotten parts of her childhood, and that too had some resonance with 'something nasty in the woodshed'. (We know before she does what actually happened.) I just couldn't go along with it, there was something that didn't ring true, ever, in the story. Out of respect for her, I kept on and it wasn't a waste of time; Atwood is far too good a writer not to keep you turning the pages. Still, I never quite believed or bought the story at more than a somewhat superficial level. If you are an Atwood fan, reading her oeuvre you should read it, otherwise, she has written far better stuff. And yes, I consider her significant enough a writer to be slowly reading all her books. Even a lesser one of hers is better than most of what is out there. ***1/2

Nov 8, 2017, 8:07pm Top

>114 sibyx: Even a lesser one of hers is better than most of what is out there.

I completely agree, and I am not her biggest fan.

Nov 9, 2017, 1:17am Top

>114 sibyx: "Even a lesser one of hers is better than most of what is out there." So true. I hope you enjoy the next one of hers even more.

Nov 9, 2017, 10:14am Top

I've only read two of Atwood's: The Blind Assassin, which I hated, and The Handmaid's Tale, which I loved. Blind Assassin was first and the hate was strong which still makes me shy of her work, however.

Nov 9, 2017, 12:33pm Top

I seem to remember your reaction! Did you put in a review here?

Nov 10, 2017, 11:13am Top

I think I read The Blind Assassin before I was on LT but I just remembered that we were talking about Atwood in the book store in Sarasota and I'm sure I mentioned how I felt about it then. I really should get brave and try another of hers. I think the reason I read The Handmaid's Tale was that she was going to be talking about it at Chautauqua (but then I had to work that day and didn't get to see her but I did love the book).

Nov 10, 2017, 1:29pm Top

Good memory, Reba. I do remember that you hated it, but not the context!

Nov 11, 2017, 1:30am Top

>117 RebaRelishesReading: Interesting, it was quite the other way around for me, but like you I hesitate reading another one. I read two more of hers before those two which I'm feeling totally neutral about (Alias Grace and can't remember the other title).

>114 sibyx: Great review, but "something not ringing true" sounds like a book I maybe better shouldn't read right now. Atwood is a difficult author for me. No real dislike, but also no big love and always complex stories it takes me long to get into.

Nov 11, 2017, 6:57am Top

I completely agree with your review of Cat's Eye, Lucy. Like others here, my experience with Atwood's work has varied widely. This one just didn't cut it. I liked The Handmaid's Tale and Alias Grace very much. I read The Blind Assassin because of the hype around it (and I think it won the Booker?), but it was just so-so for me.

On the other hand, at the moment I'm reading The Hag-Seed, her retelling of The Tempest, and loving it. Atwood is the author of the month over in the Virago Group, so I may read another of her books before the end of November.

Nov 11, 2017, 8:27am Top

Oh yes, Hag-Seed is wonderful -- I loved it. I also liked her slow-apocalypse trilogy hugely. It's sharp, insightful, funny but has a lot of warmth too.

Edited: Nov 11, 2017, 12:49pm Top

120. sf ***
Cosmonaut Keep Ken MacLeod

The story alternates between a planet, Mingulay, present, and Earth, several generations earlier. On Mingulay humans, saurs, and a couple of other species of more or less the same shape, opposable thumbs, eyes front, etc. live together fairly harmoniously, having been relocated at various times by "the gods" -- a culture of microorganisms (tiny and green, really tiny) for reasons no one understands. There are also kraken on this planet, yep, giant brilliant squid and how they interface with the little greens is never even broached. Only one spaceship has ever arrived independently at Mingulay from Earth, but the saurs, who live far longer than humans and turn up immediately when it arrives and remove the cosmonauts and leave the ship in orbit. These folk have a secret, well, several secrets one of them never really explained to my satisfactions. The Earth story follows Matt Cairns, a super programmer who gets snared into a conspiracy and ends up on the space station building what seems to be an FTL engine while all hell breaks loose on an Earth which appears to have an alternate history (all of Russia and Europe are essentially run by communists). In the Mingulay story a descendant of Matt - one, Gregor Cairns, has been tapped by his family to finish their great project, rediscovering the secret of the FTL drive and getting back on the spaceship. The plot itself was pretty good, but I wasn't much convinced by the love interest side story and there were just too many "convenient" little twists and turns for me -- basically too much stuff stuffed in and definitely wayyyy over my and 99% of even a decently informed cyber-public of the geeky bits. The Mingulay side of the tale was more lively, better paced. The Earth side was just too acronymy, complexly political and geeky. It had its moments and is kind of worth reading especially if you enjoy MacLeod and super geeky stuff. I see it is part of a series -- I won't kill myself seeking out the sequels, but I wouldn't spurn them entirely either. ***

Nov 12, 2017, 2:26pm Top

>124 sibyx: Praise so mitigated as to be vitiated. Thanks for the honest assessment.

Edited: Nov 12, 2017, 2:32pm Top

Well, yeah, I think because I know there are folks who love this kind of thing I'm trying to be opened minded. I know I require more character development and, like Goldilocks, just the right amount of geek. Too much gets tedious and clubby, too little means you haven't at least done a little research and fact-checking or talked to a geek and gotten the right info . . . It's a delicate balance. The better part of this book is the on the less technologically advanced planet with a simpler political structure, Mingulay.

Nov 12, 2017, 2:37pm Top

I'm thoroughly enjoying Anna Butler's space operas, Taking Shield...just enough tech for me, a society that's a fascinating extrapolation of earth's possible futures (or permaybehaps futures past, it's still unclear and could never be explained which would be fine by me), and a real, rounded cast of characters. Gyrfalcon is first up, if you feel adventurous.

Nov 12, 2017, 8:19pm Top

Definitely will check this series out.

Edited: Nov 20, 2017, 8:24am Top

121. contemp fic ****
Kiss and Tell Alain de Botton

Kiss and Tell was listed here at LT as 'essays" and that I had read it and given it ****, however it is not essays and I am about 95% sure I never have read it. de Botton likes to find his own angle on a topic of interest to him and I think he especially likes the liminal in-between states or identifying the oddities of behaviours we take for granted, in this case the exercise of biography writing. An (ex)girlfriend has accused the narrator of being self-absorbed and insensitive to others. He decides that the next woman he meets he will learn everything he can about her. And so his involvement with Isabel Rogers begins and so does the fun. It is an extremely clever book and funny but without sacrificing warmth and a more than a few insights of the profounder sort, although delivered somewhat offhandedly: "The process of intimacy therefore involved the opposite of seduction, for it meant revealing what risked rendering one most open to unfavourable judgement, or least worthy of love." or "Ironically, we gain the security to discover faults in others as a consequence of the very strength these faulty characters have been generous enough to grant us." Or, "What we recall of our childhood is not the significant portion, but memories designed to shield us from difficult truths." Pow! Good stuff! Our narrator, of course, falls in love with the ordinary Isabel who proves, for him, the more he gets to know her to be unknowable. Along the way lots of digressions about the history and nature and evolution of biography: do you include everything? How does one select? Why we are so fascinated by the ordinary doings of extraordinary people when we couldn't care less what our neighbor likes to eat? Very enjoyable. ****

Nov 15, 2017, 6:59pm Top

I'm in a sort of "pearl rule" mood vis a vis my tbr shelves, targeting books which have been repeatedly passed over when I am moodily choosing my next read.

Nov 16, 2017, 4:29am Top

I wish you'd pearl-rule my shelves. I keep buying new books despite my weekly new intentions to finally read all the great-looking unread ones I already own (weekly because it happens while I'm dusting them).

Edited: Nov 16, 2017, 9:08am Top

>131 Deern: Maybe we should make a "dusty books thread" (or just a "dusty thread"?) in the New Year to encourage us (and the many others) to get to these. What I can't understand is how my reading changes, sometimes I can't bear the idea of reading these books, at other times, as now, I am on fire to just dive into these. I know from experience that some will be duds (for me, not necessarily for others) and some will be so great I will wonder what my problem was! In fact, that would be an interesting thing to keep track of -- what percentage are great, what get pearled, and so on. Ok Ok I know my ocd (mild case, rilly!) is showing.

I'm sitting in a cafe while my car gets gone over for the season and the snow tires put on! SNOW TIRES! argh

Nov 16, 2017, 9:28am Top

Morning, Lucy! We bought a new (to us) car recently - a 2012 Highlander that was in really great condition with a gorgeous interior and all the bells and whistles, and it had "the snow package" on it, which made us laugh because we live in Georgia. I love snow, and I miss it, but I am oh so happy not to be driving in it.

I smiled as I read through your comments and Nathalie's because I have the same shelves full of unread books - so many I can look at and identify as moving from Indiana to Georgia with us five years ago, and they had been on the shelves in Indiana for a bit. I like your ocd idea - that would be so interesting. I created a category challenge for next year, and my focus is on reading books that have been sitting stagnant - I have them organized by how long they have been sitting.

Very nice review of Kiss and Tell - I will add my thumb if you posted that one.

Nov 16, 2017, 10:06am Top

>132 sibyx: We have a snow tire law (of course....), Nov 15th is the day, and you pay a fine (of course...) if they catch you without.
That thread is a great idea - let's get the dust off those books in 2018! :)

Nov 16, 2017, 12:12pm Top

Wasn't there an entire group called ROOTs? Read Our Own Tomes? Why not go take it over?

Nov 16, 2017, 4:31pm Top

>133 Crazymamie: It is just occurring to me to wonder what on earth the snow package is? Other than snow tires . . . I mean I keep a serious quilt, pillows, snacks and water in the back in winter in case of some disaster. No one up here offers us any old snow package!

>135 richardderus: Oh yes, I think I recall ROOTS, hmm. I'll have to go see. I find that subthreads with a time limit on the 75 seem to be more popular . . . I envision something like a year and with somewhat sensible goals (ha ha).

Edited: Nov 17, 2017, 9:11am Top

Back to say, OK, so I found and joined ROOTS - but I know nothing at all about tickers, where to find or how to use, and am not sure I even like tickers. Nathalie if you join we can figure it out together?

I went to tickerfactory.com and chose a ticker and a very modest goal of two off shelf books per month to the end of 2017. I've already done two - the de Boton and the Atwood (and note, I am proceeding alphabetically) -- here is my thread Nathalie! here

One problem so far is that I have just realized that I have no idea how you actually MOVE the ticker along and I didn't see any directions about it either. Sigh.

Back to add I have figured it out. Another cyber triumph.

Nov 17, 2017, 11:03am Top

Ah, a cyber triumph. They are so rare in my house and so appreciated when they happen. Congratulations, Lucy :)

Edited: Nov 19, 2017, 9:53am Top

122. ♬ hist mys****
Alexandria Lindsey Davis

In this, the penultimate book featuring Marcus Didius Falco, (ah! how long have I waited to use this favourite word!) the whole family, all but Nux and Ma, head for Alexandria. Naturally as soon as Marcus arrives all hell breaks loose. The Librarian of the great library is found dead in a locked room. Everyone assumes Marcus is there for a Reason, as word gets around fast that he isn't just any old informer but is Vespasian's Primo Fix-it Man, so there is an odd mix of fear and defiance on the part of various officials at the Museon complex where the library is housed. Men in positions in the higher echelons vye for the role of Librarian. But there is more than a whiff of corruption, something suspicious, Marcus and Helena both suspect, is going on over and above the jockeying for the job, maybe something to do with scrolls. When Marcus's father shows up, the plot gets disturbingly murky, and Marcus knows he has to work fast to sort it all out or the repercussions could affect his entire family. A good one. ****

Edited: Nov 18, 2017, 9:01pm Top

123. fantasy ***1/2
Three Parts Dead Max Gladstone

Tara Abernethy committed an offense against someone at her school but was allowed to graduate and then be tossed out--literally--as her school, for teaching Craft floats high above her world -- she survives and is taken into the employ of a firm of Craftspeople who mediate in situations when gods and craftspeople (and whoever else needs legal help of a magical kind) need intervention. So one of the great gods has died and she goes with her new mentor to work out the case and whether and how to bring at least some of this god back into a sort of existence, to at least keep his city running. OK I'm simplifying. I'm being generous with the 1/2 because of the complexity of the plot but I am also dubious whether the complexity needed to be quite so complex. A number of things just squeak by as being good enough for me--character development, for example, not quite enough of it, that is, but tantalizing what there is. A number of other things teeter on being of a too muchness (descriptions of interiors come to mind) but I know that is part of the steampunk fun which there is more than a hint of here. There are hints of maybe too many things that are not quite jelled together, and yet, it was satisfying enough and so I do plan to continue the series to see what the next book will be like. It might settle down. There were some very amusing things too -- I love the young priest Abelard, for example. ***1/2

Nov 18, 2017, 9:02pm Top

Bit of a reading binge today, but all good.

Edited: Nov 21, 2017, 9:43am Top

124. contemp fic ***1/2
A Person of Interest Susan Choi

Dr. Lee is a tenured professor of mathematics at a university in the midwest who gets caught up in a bombing (reminiscent of the Unabomber) when the popular professor in the office next to his gets blown up. The fun begins when Lee's natural reticence, combined with his fierce determination to preserve his right to privacy, and a deeper inability to examine most parts of his past, draws the attention of the FBI investigators. Things go from bad to worse as Lee, traumatized by his experiences in his youth of the violent communist takeover of his (unspecified) country, responds in ways that bring him close to being a suspect. His personal life too is a shambles, two failed marriages, an estranged child and these come into play as well. A Person of Interest is not a perfect novel, but it is solid enough for me to be glad I finally picked it up and read it. ***1/2

Back to add that this is part of a "two a month" campaign to deal with books that have been on my shelves since (or before) I joined LT in 2010. At that time in my extreme enthusiasm I entered in almost all the books I had around or could remember having read, and I know I "got" all the books that were then on my TBR shelves. If I finish with 2010, I will move to 2011. It makes me glad I usually do enter books in when they come into the house.

Nov 22, 2017, 8:41am Top

Hmmm don't know how far I'll get with the Radclyffe Hall. Two uses of the word 'betokened' within one sentence on page 1. I will nonetheless persevere as it was, in its time, a ground-breaking novel.

Edited: Nov 23, 2017, 8:58am Top

Words not needed!

Nov 23, 2017, 1:02pm Top

This is a time of year when I as a non-American ponder over what I am thankful for.

I am thankful for this group and its ability to keep me sane during topsy-turvy times.

I am thankful that you are part of this group.

I am thankful for this opportunity to say thank you.

Nov 24, 2017, 12:14am Top

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! And have lots of leftovers. : )

Nov 24, 2017, 1:44am Top

Happy Thanksgiving, Lucy!

Edited: Nov 25, 2017, 11:46am Top

125. fantasy ***
Wolfblade Jennifer Fallon

Second reading and alas I have dropped my rating by one-half star. Have I become more discerning? Probably not. Here, the main character, Marla is the sister of the high prince (who is a wanker) and is essentially chattel. A womb to sell to the highest bidder. She is quick enough to grab, intuitively, at help and learns to navigate the hellish upper circle of this society. However, there are just too many times when people are "blind" to scheming when it is convenient to the plot. This also is one of those books where the lesser characters are more interesting than the central ones -- (happily they remain interesting). A la George Martin, some people die in whom the writer and reader have invested a good bit of both character and sympathy. I don't mind some, but I do mind, again, when it just feels convenient to plot. However the difficulty this time around was more subtle, a kind of glossing here or opting for the obvious there, and a fragility in the structuring of this world, particularly vis a vis gender roles -- they felt tired and unoriginal as in, the same old same old. In the interval I have come to prefer the fantasy novels where overall less happens of a violent nature and more happens in the development of strong and interesting characters, and situations and original magic. ***

I will continue the series because I collected the next two books, so why not?

Edited: Nov 26, 2017, 4:50pm Top

Here's a book that seems to have my name on it:

Nov 26, 2017, 10:57am Top

>149 sibyx: Ah Lucy, it may have your name on it but I can't see it :(

Nov 26, 2017, 4:51pm Top

Now I've got it, not sure what stupid thing I did, so I redid it. It seems to have everything but a corgi, but then, I only read the first few pages.

Nov 26, 2017, 7:37pm Top

I thought of you today, Lucy. We were out walking our dogs on a trail and met up with a woman who had 3 corgis (as well as a lab and a beagle). We had a nice chat and the dogs all sniffed around. When we returned to the car park we saw a Saab wagon with a "dog taxi" sticker and decided that car suited the dog lady better than anyone else we met on the trail. Dog taxi, indeed. Anyway, corgis always remind me of you!

Nov 26, 2017, 7:53pm Top

>148 sibyx: This looks like a series I can skip, Lucy. There are SO many of these traditional fantasy series out there that it's nice to be able to eliminate some of them from the get-go. Hope Miss Posey had a good Thanksgiving--loved the picture.

Nov 26, 2017, 8:42pm Top

>153 ronincats: In the review of the next book I am going to try to take on what does work -- and why it stayed in my mind to keep reading the series, why I'm bothering to finish (other than the stubborn completist problem, of course).

Nov 27, 2017, 6:54pm Top

Lucy, please go check out an urban fantasy I reviewed: The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion at my blog: https://tinyurl.com/y9pgj84m

It's an anarchist/genderqueer/lesbian urban fantasy. I loved it, it's short, and the next one's coming out soon.

Nov 27, 2017, 8:34pm Top

Will do!

Edited: Nov 28, 2017, 9:06am Top

classic fic ***1/2
The Well of Loneliness Radclyffe Hall

If all you did was judge The Well of Loneliness on literary merit, you would have to throw it out the window well before you reached the end as the writing is histrionic, a mass of clichés and stereotyping, annoyingly repetitive, and utterly predictable. But don't do that for this is the sort of novel that proves that novels aren't always about good writing; sometimes what lies at the heart of a novel--what drove the writer to write it--matters far more than the story itself, which is window dressing to carry the message, in this case a message so compelling as to shift the book into a different realm. WoL was published in 1928 and promptly banned, as it is the story of a male soul born in a female body. The first openly lesbian novel, it is clear that Hall's purpose was to write above all a romance that might draw in any reader of any orientation, and having drawn them in, start changing their perceptions. As annoying as the book often was (the gender stereotyping made me cringe and howl) yet just often enough Hall would drop all the foolishness briefly and I would be moved by Stephen Gordon's predicament, her confusion, her attempts to be true to herself but also to be sensitive and respectful of the people around her, and her gradual disillusionment and despair. I am sure Hall's novel has made a difference. It's significant, historical, and, in its own odd way, a very genuine creation. ***1/2

Nov 27, 2017, 10:00pm Top

>157 sibyx: I was utterly repelled by the book in 1977. I was terrified of it, not because she was lesbian but because it made me claustrophobic to imagine being trapped in the wrong body! It still does. Today Stephen would be trans, not lesbian.

Nov 27, 2017, 11:50pm Top

>157 sibyx: I will take your admonition to heart, but it will be a long, long time before I get to RH's *WoL*. For one thing I just found out that I won The Mad Patagonian. What was I thinking???

Nov 28, 2017, 7:31am Top

>157 sibyx:, >158 richardderus: yes yes yes. I agree with Lucy's take on the literary merits of WoL and its significant place in the canon. I was impressed with this book despite the flaws mentioned.

Nov 28, 2017, 8:56am Top

>158 richardderus: Yes yes Richard - definitely trans - but in the interest of keeping the review simple I didn't specify -- really the book was written inclusively -- another of its virtues, actually. She does succeed, doesn't she, at describing the excruciating realization of being trapped in the 'wrong' body?

>159 LizzieD: No need to rush to read it, certainly!

>160 lauralkeet: Glad we are in accord. Remarkable, really, how a book so flawed still does what it was written to do.

Nov 29, 2017, 12:22am Top

>137 sibyx: Just catching up with your thread, Lucy. I am way behind. Congrats on joining the ROOTs group. Did you figure out how to add your totals to your ticker? If you didn't, it is pretty easy. You just click on the ticker. That will take you to the Ticker Factory box. Hit the Edit/update button. Put in your password, then your number, hit ok and then next.

Edited: Nov 30, 2017, 8:00am Top

>137 sibyx: Oh yes, the ROOTS group, I should get there as well, but maybe not in 2017! I haven't yet finished any of those I took off the shelf and started lately, instead I keep downloading new audios. :(
I have never used a ticker, but I almost admire them on the thread of others. :D

Happy Thursday to you!

Edit: okay, I joined the group and hopefully will remember to move over to the 2018 group and start a thread there.

Nov 30, 2017, 7:53am Top

Hooray. I don't really intend to post much there, just to use it as a further encouragement, separate from here, to work on just those books that have been around way too long!

Edited: Dec 2, 2017, 8:43am Top

127. fantasy ***1/4
Warrior Jennifer Fallon

What I want to address in these comments is why I am bothering to continue. There is always the completist problem--unease with any series I commit to and then let fall by the wayside, but there is more to it than that in this case. There were threads of the story that truly engaged me--mainly the interface between Harshini (the magical people) and non-magical humans. In the first three books about Medalon and 'the demon child' I was quite taken up by the end--particularly by Damin Wolfblade (who is supposedly the focus of these three which is why I bothered to collect them) who I thought would be the main focus of this trilogy. In reality the focus is on Marla Wolfblade, his mother while we wait for him to grow up. There are many many other threads to follow in this trilogy, but the only stories that still really work for me are those involving the part-Harshini sorcerers -- Wrayan Lightfinger and now Rorin Mariner (who turned up as a young lad in trouble in book one of this set). Damin has finally grown up and by the end of this 2nd volume, thank goodness, and is now master of his own story, fully, and as he is a likeable and interesting character (his father was far more interesting than Marla) whose thoughts and story I am enjoying, I expect I will like this volume better. I also like some of Damin's cousins and siblings, including Kalan who is in the Sorcerer's Collective. There are also more women who do things, don't scheme and plot and run things in the background. Various problems about this world still plague me (a pun, this book features some plague) not the least of which is where do all these slaves come from???

Can Fallon tell what is working when she is writing and what is labored and dull? Unrelievedly 'evil' ambitious types are a bore to spend time with! They exist, they make things happen, critical to plot, but we needn't spend much (any?) time in their heads! But I love Wrayan and Rorin and the Half-Breed Brakandaran. Any chapter where they appear comes to life. I like the Sorcerer's Collective too -- all scholars-- as only a handful of Hythrians can do any 'real' magic.

If I can beef a little -- the fashion now is for very long books--even within a series you can expect each book to top 500 pages and I think the writers are encouraged to spin many plots and make it last since it is, ultimately, escapist reading. Well. Editors are there to help a writer distinguish what works and what doesn't. Fallon could have knocked off a hundred or so pages and the book would have been so much better! ***

Dec 2, 2017, 8:33am Top

Lucy, the photo in the topper is perfect! Such a good shot of you and Miss Po. I am so very excited for you about your book publication - you must be nervous and over the moon at the same time. Congratulations!

>127 richardderus: Such a thoughtful review. Totally agree with you about the length thing - I can think of so many books that would have been so much better with a firmer hand in the editing department.

Dec 2, 2017, 8:39am Top

>166 Crazymamie: Thanks so much Mamie. I alternate being pleased and anxious.

Confusion moment -- I think you mean comment >165 sibyx:? The book is #127 for the year!

Dec 2, 2017, 8:43am Top

Oh, dear! Yep - you are right, I put the book number, not the post number. Still on my first cup of coffee, and I guess it is showing.

Dec 2, 2017, 8:49am Top

No worries!

Edited: Dec 3, 2017, 8:57pm Top

128. fantasy ***
Warlord Jennifer Fallon

Now that I'm done I feel a bit sheepish about spending the time on these, but what's done is done. It's workmanlike basic fantasy, and I know enough about writing to know that Fallon worked hard to make a complicated story with all the right ingredients. In a way the books were in this awkward place of being just good enough to be unable to put down, but not quite good enough to be compelling. The interesting characters stayed interesting to the end, and the baddies died very satisfactorily and thoroughly. ***

Time to read a mystery for my genre read I think.

Dec 4, 2017, 12:47am Top

Oh, a new and extra cute thread topper! You both look so happy! :)

Dec 4, 2017, 6:15am Top

Hi Lucy!

Here I am, first time visitor.

I'm glad to see that you'll be joining ROOTs next year - I use the 75 Group to record all my reads and use the ROOTs group to help me pull things off my shelves instead of always reading my most recent acquisition. 100 book goal for 75ers, 40 book goal of that 100 for ROOTs. I should be able to make both goals this year, and I've met some fun people over there.

>157 sibyx: Excellent review of an important book. I need to acquire it and then actually read it!

Edited: Dec 4, 2017, 9:55am Top

>171 Deern: Ciao Nathalie!

>172 karenmarie: Welcome, Karen. One good thing about WoL is that it reads quickly. That's how I intend to use ROOTS too. I'm going to dig way back, I'm quite serious about the dust! You should see the accumulation on top of the Murakami. My latest idea is that the dustiest book wins. Seriously, I plan to look at when I put it into LT as my primary guide. I tried, in 2010 when I joined, to put in every book I owned (or knew I had read) at that time. Completely obsessed maniac!

Dec 4, 2017, 6:41pm Top

>173 sibyx: Thanks, Lucy. Dustiest book priority works. Are all your books in LT now?

All of mine except one are in my catalog - and that's the one that came in today's mail. I haven't put husband's in - he's probably got about 300 or so. I keep saying I'll catalog them but then I'll want to have easy access to them and his home office and media room are obstacle courses.

I try to not make too many rules about reading books and get the willies when I have too many book commitments. I've already got 18 books that I need to read next year - 3 group reads that I will run, 12 books for my RL book club, and 3 of Paul's BAC challenges that sound interesting. Thank God the Bible as Literature group read will be over.

Dec 6, 2017, 8:22am Top

Somewhat anxiously, I'll mention that The Hounds of Spring is up on the Early Reviewers.

Meanwhile, I'm burying anxiety in doing what I call Miss Scattergood sorts of things, among them working on my ROOTS list for 2018. I've identified a couple of dozen books that have been languishing unread on my tbr shelves since around or before I joined LT. They all pass the dust test too! They all were listed by me on PBS in 2010, the year I joined, so identifying them took time, but was not difficult. The only books hard to figure out are the Viragos, which are a jumble. Stupidly I let some go around that time and the confusion about what I have, what I have read, what is wishlisted is total.

Yesterday I watched a youtube about recovering iron frying pans -- the spousal unit found one that we thought our daughter might like-- you use salt and potato! Then in tough cases vinegar/water soaking, then put veg oil on the pan, place upside down in oven at 400 -- (with tin foil on rack below to catch drops) for 45 min. Who knew? I can't wait to try it.

Dec 6, 2017, 8:32am Top

Good luck with the recovery. They're worth every effort to get them back. And thank goodness for YouTube.

Edited: Dec 6, 2017, 5:59pm Top

129. contemp fic ***1/2

From the very first page you know that you will witness a train wreck, the only question is when and how bad. Arabella (no last name) is the benumbed daughter and only child of a very very rich woman, many times married, who, one can say unequivocally from today's standpoint, has been abusive. Arabella is beautiful, a Botticelli maiden, and a lethal mixture of neediness, sophistication, honesty and naivete make her irresistible sexually. She comes to stay with her step-brother Edmund in the country outside of London, at Mulberry cottage, where he lives with his wife Anne. But, within a very short time, she becomes entangled with both, in hopes of being loved and accepted into the household permanently. Thus she allows herself to be used. The book turned at the end in an interesting way, implying by contrast that Arabella is a survivor and making me wish that Howard had written further about this young woman. While it seems unlikely she'll make her dream of independence come true the hope was there, that this last experience was definitive and she will rely more on herself and less on others from now on. Howard is a wonderfully good writer. The mood is completely unlike that of the Cazelet series. A bit Murdochian too, I'd say. ***1/2

Dec 6, 2017, 6:03pm Top

The frying pan is coming along. The potato and salt treatment is really something, but I think I'll need to keep working on it for several days. There are some seriously stubborn spots!

Now I'm off to pick my next ROOTS book.

Also am still trying to sort out the Virago muddle. I think in the beginning when I was loading books onto LT I was hasty sometimes -- and I read the majority of them in the 80's so that, by 2010, I didn't feel I could remember well enough to rate, sadly. Of course, that means I should think about rereading some of the ones I have a feeling I loved, all the Comyns, all the Lehmanns and Keane/Farrells and so on. Wonderful books!

Dec 6, 2017, 11:52pm Top

Everything I read is more or less ROOTS - and everything is more or less equally dusty.

Dec 7, 2017, 7:19am Top

>178 sibyx: Virago re-reads? that's a noble goal. I discovered Viragos more recently than you did -- in fact, it was entirely due to LT -- and I acquired indiscriminately like a madwoman over the past 8 years or so. The result is (*checks LT library*) 310 books and 191 still unread. I mean, I'm happy to see I've read so many of them but the unread count means I'm unlikely to do any re-reading. Let's be real, I'm unlikely to even read all of them once. But I'm working my way through ...

Dec 7, 2017, 8:01am Top

>179 LizzieD: Oh you sneak some new ones in!

>180 lauralkeet: I wonder if you have any of the ones I stupidly let go during some book purge or other. That's part of the reason for the muddle -- books I read but didn't keep. Of course, they were all ones I knew I would never want to look at again.

Dec 7, 2017, 8:50am Top

>181 sibyx: Lucy, I try to track the source of my books using the "From Where?" field in the catalog, and if it came from another LTer, note their LT name in the comments. I haven't been as meticulous about the LT names as I'd like, but a quick perusal shows only one book from you: Elizabeth Taylor's Palladian.

Dec 7, 2017, 11:37am Top

The idea of re-reading has vanished from my consciousness. I've got maybe 20 years, possibly 25, left on the planet. I'll be lucky to get through half of what I already own, counting 1800 books on the Kindle, before I pop my clogs. Re-read?! Are you pixilated?!

Dec 9, 2017, 9:33am Top

Hi Lucy!

6 of my 93 book total for this year are re-reads. A typical year, I think, unless I get a bee in my bonnet and decide to re-read Harry Bosch, Jack Reacher, Georgette Heyer, or a bunch of Agatha Christies. They are usually comfort rereads.

>181 sibyx: I got rid of way too many books when I moved from CA to NC to get married in 1991. I regret it now, of course.

Dec 9, 2017, 12:00pm Top

>183 richardderus: and >184 karenmarie: The main reason I keep many books is in the silly hope I will live forever and be able to reread all of them. Others I know I will not reread but feel a fondness or in case I want to look up a particular thing sometime. The rest I am more willing to part with than of yore.

Having said that, I'm not sure, but I think I only reread 3 or 4 books in any given year, if that. When I was younger there were books that I read over and over and over again -- I did that sometime into my twenties when my reading agenda exploded. But things are quieter. The scary thing is being disappointed. I loathed One Hundred Years of Solitude in a recentish reread. Sometimes a book that was meh is transformed from an older POV. I am a diehard Hardy fan now, for example. Who knew how FUNNY he was. Sad, yeah, but balanced. I was too young back in the day to 'get' that kind of humor.

>184 karenmarie: Yes, moving requires purges. The only regret I have is the Viragos, the rest, well I don't even know what they were. :)

Dec 10, 2017, 7:57pm Top

130. hist mys ****
An Experiment in Treason Bruce Alexander

Some letters have gone missing, a footman is murdered during the robbery. Unaccountably Lord Hillsborough, Minister of Affairs for the American Colonies, is not very cooperative but demands that the culprits be found. Benjamin Franklin features here, but not in a very complimentary light--he is shown as a rather vain and lascivious person, brilliant, certainly, but inconsistent. He swears he knew nothing of the letters until after the robbery, but it is he who bought them and sent them to Massachusetts where they were made public and proved to fan the flames already smouldering, as they reveal a callous disregard for American rights as English citizens by their own Governor among others. On the personal front there are other developments of a romantic nature blossoming all over, Jeremy is growing up! Two to go. I'll be sorry to finish this series. ****

Dec 10, 2017, 9:02pm Top

You have moved beyond me in the Sir John Fielding mysteries. I think I've only read the first 5 and then couldn't find the others and never picked them back up. I love the way they interplay the historical characters, much like the St. Cyr mysteries.

Used to be, about a third of my reading was rereads, but with the influence of LT, that number has decreased dramatically. Only 17 of my 137 books so far this year are rereads. I have mixed feelings, as I love revisiting favorite books like old friends, but have so many new ones coming to my attention that it is hard to fit them in. And I am reluctant to purge much of my science fiction/fantasy now as the majority of it was picked up in the 70s and 80s and would be hard to replace now (not to mention much more expensive). Still, I have gone through at least two major purges there over the years of ones I felt I could let go, of at least 500 books.

Dec 11, 2017, 11:10pm Top

I love to reread. Sometimes nothing else will do.
I should purge for our nieces' and nephew's sake so that they won't have to, but I'm not ready to hand in my dinner pail yet, and I do love being surrounded by books!

Dec 12, 2017, 7:44pm Top

131. ♬ ****
Nemesis Lindsey Davis

This is the final in the Marcus Didius Falco series. Wah! Can't give anything away, of course, but it is a cliff hanger. I'll miss the rascal! A very solid and enjoyable series, mainly because of Falco's family and the work Davis put into researching some aspect of roman society, different settings, and featuring something different in every mystery. I look forward to Flavia Alba carrying on the Didius torch. ****

Edited: Dec 13, 2017, 6:07pm Top

I'm all caught up after a long absence! Lots of book bullets and a wonderful picture of Miss Po and the Turkey! Marvellous! Are you currently reading the Murakami? That particular one was the first of his I read and it was one of those small but important shifts of my personhood kind of books for me. Curious to hear what you make of it.

Dec 13, 2017, 8:38pm Top

>190 HanGerg: So happy to see you here! Yes that is my fiction book at the moment. I'm struggling to finish the big Chernow bio of George Washington and after that I intend to focus almost exclusively on the Murakami as I very much like the very small bit I've read so far.

Edited: Dec 15, 2017, 8:50am Top

132. bio *****
Washington: A Life Ron Chernow

What a time to choose to read a biography of Washington, a man whose integrity is inspiring. Perhaps I knew I needed a boost and some reassurance about what this Union is all about. Chernow has done his utmost to present us the human, not a demigod or an icon. But here's the rub: Washington was, in fact, incredible. His warts are few. With the exception of his fear of taking the Big Step vis-a-vis slavery he behaved about as "perfectly" as a human being can. He had an uncanny gift for mobilizing and inspiring the people around him. Yuh, what we would call charisma, but not of the glam sort we all seem to have some kind of weakness for nowadays. His was the glam of reserve and of intensity. Among other skills, he was a truly brilliant listener . The crucial piece here was that as a young man he was repeatedly disappointed (understatement) by the British who would not promote him as an officer, would not treat him as an equal. Inside the reserve was pride and ambition to a great degree. It does seem a case of the right person in the right place at the right time and with exactly the right experiences to make him determined and the right skills to succeed. We were given a leader whose personal ambitions were held in check by his innate goodness and common sense, who kept his personal and public goals and selves distinct--indeed he nurtured, at all times, even in the midst of battle (indoors or out) his vision of himself as the serene gentleman farmer, it was his lifeline to sanity.

Once the colonies had committed to being a Union, working together, he never looked back and every choice he made took into consideration whether it would be good or bad for the fledgling country. This includes, regrettably, his choices about slavery. As he became more firmly a Federalist (more power to central government, taxes, military etc--but remember, he was making nothing into something) this issue was, as he saw it, the one thing that could divide the young country into two countries. And he was determined not to let this happen. He had a vision of the United States being a great power, the equal of the British Empire (and remember, he did have kind of a grudge). I could go on and on about the complexities of his life both as the commander of the army and later as President.

Another unexpected reassurance came from reading about the relentless criticism Washington had to endure from the press. Truly scurrilous and scandalous accusations were constantly hurled at him (such as, that he was a secret monarchist!) and although it upset and irritated him, he believed that in a democracy the press simply had to be permitted to rant and rave, that you have to have faith that "the people" finally, will come to their senses and discern the nonsense from the facts. The moment this is threatened, this freedom, he felt, then the rights of the people would be threatened. This is just one of many examples of his almost unbelievable quality of ethical strength.

I read Washington: A Life ten to twenty pages at a time over a six week period, I can't imagine trying to absorb it any other way, but it was well worth the effort. I don't know if all the stars are for Chernow or for Washington!

Finally, many years ago, seven or eight, I read the enthralling bio of John Adams by David McCullough and finished it on July 4 which, I learned, was the day Adams (and Jefferson) died in 1826 Well, imagine the frisson I felt yesterday (December 14) as I read the last pages of Washington's life learning he died on the 14th December 1799. *****

Dec 15, 2017, 9:31am Top

>192 sibyx: Well done, Lucy, in getting it read and in an excellent review!

I read His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis in April of this year and was as impressed with Washington as you are. It does seem a case of the right person in the right place at the right time and with exactly the right experiences to make him determined and the right skills to succeed.

I am convinced that without Washington we'd be subjects of the Queen of England.

I am also convinced that pussyfooting around slavery, while inherently unjustifiable morally, was something done for the greater good, as nervous-making as that phrase can be. Things did erupt 60 years later, but by then the United States was fairly well established and survived, although with ill feelings that continue to this day.

I knew that Jefferson and Adams died on the Fourth of July in 1826, each believing that the other had survived him. Ironic. Your finishing the book on the same day Washington died, December 14, is serendipity.

Dec 15, 2017, 6:43pm Top

Great review of His Excellency. I may have to add that to the wish list. Funny you finished John Adams on July 4, adding to the coincidences of his life and that date.

Dec 15, 2017, 8:27pm Top

Nice review of Washington: A Life, Lucy! Thumbing, and adding it to the WL.

Dec 15, 2017, 11:35pm Top

Thanks for a fine review of GW from the pen of RC - that's another piece of serendipity if you ask me!

Dec 16, 2017, 2:11pm Top

I *long* for a new Washington to emerge. Yes, he needs to be ambitious because no one who isn't could ever lead a country or, even better, a people. Yes, she'll have to be flawed. No, she won't be everything to everyone.

But where the HELL is she?!?

Edited: Dec 18, 2017, 8:39am Top

133. ♬ hist mys

Plunging from Marcus Didius Falco into the series (ongoing now I think?) about his daughter Flavia Albia who is also an informer, loathe to leave the Didius tribe. It took a little getting used to, of course, but I think I will enjoy these, Flavia is tart and independent but has her vulnerable side. As ever, Davis has done research and doesn't flinch from portraying the uglier side of Roman culture. I know, of course, that many of our present-day values are subtly fused with the attitudes of the characters I like, but surely there were those then, who deplored cruelty to animals and humans. I did figure out the various plot twists probably sooner than I was supposed to, but I enjoyed the unfolding. ****

I've started knitting and have a big hand-sewing project so there will be a lot more audio books for the forseeable future.

Dec 20, 2017, 5:29pm Top

Hi Lucy.

>192 sibyx: That is a rather sweet detail about the date, both the ending of his life and the ending of your reading of his life. I also appreciate the recommendation to read the book in very small chunks and let it soak in at that pace. I'm adding it to my wish list with that note to self.

There was a Corgi puppy on red square on campus last week. My office window faces red square so I get to watch all the goings on. That puppy had on a little red jacket and he was so cute I could almost feel my head explode.

Dec 20, 2017, 7:36pm Top

>198 sibyx: I need to get back to some of my series next year Lucy and that one included.

>192 sibyx: Agree with Joe. That is a splendid review.

Dec 20, 2017, 9:20pm Top

>194 RebaRelishesReading: and>196 LizzieD: Hi Reba! Hi Peggy!

>197 richardderus: Let us hope someone is coming along who can bring us back to something approaching ethical and common sensical.

>200 PaulCranswick: Thank you Paul for pointing out that Joe was so complimentary about the GW review back at >195 jnwelch: And Thank you Joe for the thumb.

>199 EBT1002: Corgi puppies are hazardously adorable.

Edited: Dec 21, 2017, 8:24am Top

134. memoir *** ROOT
The Opposite of Fate Amy Tan

Tan's mother pronounced the word "faith" as "fate"--a misunderstanding that Tan didn't disentangle until she was an adult. I don't think of faith as being the opposite of fate exactly, but I can see that the former contains the idea of hope, which is central to Tan's philosophy (for lack of a better word) and is thus also a part of Tan's evolution as a daughter and a writer.The essays are mostly not written for this book specifically, but were written for various talks, awards, and the like over time and so the book is a patchwork. Parts were a bit too "aren't I somebody?" for my taste, but I there is an aspect to those bits of wonder -- Tan's own amazement that she's done so well seems genuine enough, however I hastened over those bits. I'm interested in her life as a writer more than her skiing or her time in an amusing literary rock band. One chapter stood out for me -- about the self-policing now in fashion (because it is a fashion and nothing else)n that you have to stick in your own ethnic milieu or you are trespassing. She writes, on this subject of "ethnic authority" : "It's as though a new and more insidious form of censorship has crept into the fold, winning followers by wearing the cloak of good intentions and ethnic correctness." While conceding that the effort;s basis, to correct the stereotyping of the past, she continues that her objection has to do with whether literature must serve as the cart and horse that hauls away human ills." This one essay made the book worthwhile to me. Whatever happened to the idea of trying to enter into someone else's skin to better understand them, Wordsworth's negative capability, or more simply put empathy? Tan writes well and can tell a great ghost story (of which she has more than one in her own life) and so it was a pleasant read but not stellar. ***

Dec 21, 2017, 2:56pm Top

Happy Yule Book Flood!

Dec 21, 2017, 6:00pm Top


Dec 21, 2017, 8:22pm Top

Couldn't help but notice (when I went specifically to SEE) that 248 people have requested your book already!

Dec 21, 2017, 10:07pm Top

Holey moley! I looked a few times at the beginning, but then it started to make me nervous so I stopped.

Dec 22, 2017, 4:27am Top

Can't order it yet and on ER it's not available for my country... I'll get it as soon as I can, promised! :)

I was considering sending a Santa or Christkindl pic, but maybe a snow-covered family dog - Anton, my aunt Karin's Eurasian - serves better
as a neutral messenger for the joys of the year-end. :)

A Very Merry Christmas or Very Happy Holidays to all my dear LT friends and their loved ones.
May there be lots of great books under the tree or in the stockings, may there be your favorite foods on the table,
May there be joy and laughter and above all lots and lots of love around you and everywhere in the world.


Dec 23, 2017, 5:06pm Top

Wishing you a merry Christmas, Lucy!
May you and your family enjoy love, laughter, and many good books.

Dec 23, 2017, 11:49pm Top

It is that time of year again, between Solstice and Christmas, just after Hanukkah, when our thoughts turn to wishing each other well in whatever language or image is meaningful to the recipient. So, whether I wish you Happy Solstice or Merry Christmas, know that what I really wish you, and for you, is this:

Dec 24, 2017, 8:22am Top

Hi Lucy!

Stopping by to wish you and yours all good things this holiday season.

Edited: Dec 24, 2017, 8:43am Top

135. ♬ hist mys ****
Enemies at Home Lindsey Davis

Wealthy newlyweds are found dead in their home. The house slaves run for refuge at the Temple of Ceres a traditional safe haven. Tiberius Manlius asks Flavia Alba for help--as the aedile of the area and the Temple he hopes the slaves will be found not guilty of the crime, but the situation is murky, and only gets more and more murky as Flavia pokes around. Of course, of paramount interest is what is (and is not) going on romantically between the aedile and the informer. There is also a charming side story featuring Tiberius's adolescent slave Dromo, assigned to guard Flavia (who ends up, a bit improbably, staying in the house of the murdered couple as it is quite far from the Aventine in the Esquiline, too far to go every day). It was a convoluted enough story that despite a correct theory, I was still intrigued to the end. I do like Flavia and Tiberius! ****

Lots of audiobooks as I've been sewing up cushions and getting back into knitting as winter closes in!

Dec 24, 2017, 8:44am Top

>207 Deern:,>208 EBT1002:, >209 ronincats:, >210 karenmarie: Thank you for all of your lovely greetings from everyone!

Dec 24, 2017, 10:38am Top

Lucy, I hope you and yours have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2018!

Dec 24, 2017, 2:26pm Top

(Or in other words, Happy Christmas, to you and yours!)

Dec 25, 2017, 4:08am Top

Wishing you all good things this holiday season and beyond.

Edited: Dec 25, 2017, 9:43pm Top

>214 SandDune: and >215 PaulCranswick: Merry Greetings too you both as well.

Very pleasant and quiet Christmas as you can see below, as I had time to read.

We had a marvelous Harrington ham for dinner (if you haven't you should think about splurging on the maple smoked one sometime) with scalloped potatoes, roasted turnip and brussells sprouts. And I made an apple pie that turned out well.

In the morning we always have coffee cake from the Tassajara Bread Book (a classic!) and omelet with bacon (a rare occurrence around here nowadays).

Hope everyone had a lovely day and some fine eating.

Dec 25, 2017, 9:37pm Top

136. hist mys ****
The Price of Murder Bruce Alexander

Next to last in the Sir John Fielding series. Jeremy Proctor is almost grown up--in this mystery he takes a strong independent role and does well, although here and there in his inexperience he could have done better. A little girl is found dead, perhaps drowned, although the autopsy indicates she was thrown in after death and after much abuse. It appears she was sold by her mother--or was she given up by the mother who was convinced that her little girl would be adopted? The story in this one is weaker than many of the others, but the interplay between the regular characters is as strong and entertaining as ever, as are Jeremy Proctor's own thoughts and reactions. It's been fun watching him mature, but there is a sense of the series winding up.

Dec 26, 2017, 12:21am Top

Lucy, I don't know if you have TV there, but you can stream tonight's News Hour online at the pbs.org site. There's an interview with your fellow Knausgaard about his latest book.

Dec 26, 2017, 7:35am Top

Thanks for the tip Roni!

Edited: Dec 28, 2017, 10:53am Top

137. contemp fic ROOT 2017 ****1/2
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle Haruki Murakami

Toro Okada is coasting along, in a rather pleasant albeit temporary hiatus from working when the cat goes missing. Toro, while looking for the cat, clambers into the alley behind where they live into the yard of an abandoned house that has a dry well and where he also a meets an adolescent girl. Not long after that his wife Kumiko goes missing too. One thing leads to another each occurrence by itself doesn't seem terribly significant until Toro realizes he has wandered out of ordinary reality and however unwillingly into an adventure he must continue to whatever end. A quest, if you will, the quest being his determination to find and rescue Kumiko. Trapped in the well, which he is inexorably drawn to, he enters an alternate reality . . . but this is no fantasy, rather it is an exploration of non-ordinary reality, the uses and abuses of it. Toro is in enough distress to enter accidentally and lucky to escape whole, but his very ordinariness and unambitiousness helps him. I found myself thinking of the Snow White myth and of Italo Calvino and Umberto Eco more than of writers like Pynchon (as mentioned on the back cover of my copy). Certain kinds of wickedness, in this case the Japanese war in China, disturb the flow of energy (as in water) beyond ordinary reality and repercussions that radiate and take special efforts and measures to heal. Toro becomes the agent of change. I can't say I enjoyed it exactly, but I was engaged if not enthralled.

On a more personal note, my mother's cat, while staying with us when my mother was traveling, ran off when we were still living part of the time in Philadelphia. I ended up spending many many hours in a similarly blocked up, trash-filled narrow alley searching for him, including climbing into the yard of an abandoned and derelict house where we were quite sure he was (and proved to be in the end). After a month he came back to us, a few days before my mother came home. Anyway, I identified strongly with that part of the book as maybe one of those oddly universal experiences . . . at least for cat owners. Dropping down into that alley was always like stepping into some other reality.

Back to add a quote, the only one I marked that seems to sum something up about Murakami's deeper views:

This is part of the text of Lieutenant Mamiya's first letter to Toro:

"I happened to lose my life at one particular moment in time, and I have gone on living these forty years or more with my life lost. As a person who finds himself in such a position, I have come to think that life is a much more limited thing than those in the midst of the maelstrom realize. The light shines into the act of life for only the briefest moment--perhaps only a matter of seconds. Once it has gone and one has failed to grasp its offered revelation there is no second chance."

While this quote may look (and be) depressing or daunting, I don't think, in the context of this book that it is. It's not spoiling to say that ordinary Toro (like a hobbit) is made of strong and grounded stuff. But this is wisdom nonetheless. It is very Japenese too, I think, it is a revelation, not an action that lies at the core of what Mamiya failed to grasp. He had the revelation but he did not get it. I won't say he ignored it, but he did not "dig deeper" to figure it out. Toro does do that. Right action flows from right perception. Right perception is, of course, based on love, stubborn and pure and unrelenting. That is why I see such a fairytale like aspect to W-UB. A tough book with sweetness at the core.

Dec 27, 2017, 1:29pm Top

Congrats on finishing TWUBC, Lucy!

Dec 27, 2017, 5:42pm Top

Ooh, interested in the Murakami review when you've had some time to digest. And ordering the new book! How and where?!

Dec 27, 2017, 5:44pm Top

>137 sibyx: Eager to hear your thoughts on this one. And BTW, I just read your explanation of your rating systems and I wholeheartedly agree!! Well put.

Dec 27, 2017, 6:36pm Top

>222 HanGerg: March 1 is the official publishing date, which I guess means US bookstores and to purchase on line; it's Tupelo/Leapfolio Press. My head is in the sand at the moment, but I know I have to shape up and get planning soon. I've read all about how even very introverted people can get their, uh, act together when it involves something they believe in and have worked hard on. I'm hoping that will kick in.

>223 Berly: I'm also hoping to get to the Wind-Up review right now! And many many thanks for your thumbs up for my rating system.

Edited: Dec 28, 2017, 8:22pm Top

But first here are my and my spousal unit's Christmas book loot (so far, my brother is coming for New Year's and always gives me lots of books! Hooray!)

My books:

spousal unit's books

Missing are the two books we gave our daughter -- The Book of Dust and Oathbringer.

This looks much better! It's a nice bunch! Spouse gets more sf and mystery and I have quite a lot of non-fiction, more than usual for me! I don't read all of his mysteries but I usually try the new ones and sometimes it is a series where the character compels. I seem to prefer historical mysteries overall. Spousal unit got more than me because I gave most of them to him!

Now I'm noticing that a couple of books from last year sneaked in -- Landmarks, The Genius of Birds and Wildlife Spectacles and Garden in the Clouds. A further missing book is the third in the Invisible Library series which the SU is currently reading and chortling over.

Dec 27, 2017, 7:49pm Top

The big question is, do you guys share? Or are your tastes completely different?

Edited: Dec 27, 2017, 9:38pm Top

Our tastes overlap quite nicely; we both love speculative fiction (all types) across almost identical lines although in fiction he baulks at, say, Henry James although like me he adores Pynchon. He likes depressing scandi-type crime more than I do and in non-fiction he tends to read more practical books--he's an EMT and has studied a number of wholistic practices as well and is also involved in building net-zero houses in a development that is designed to be a community, not just a place to live and commute from. Lots of books about all that kind of thing. His favorite read last year was by a norwegian and was about chopping wood! I read more widely, I think -- history, biography, and natural history. He counts on me to find good books for him, but he reads escape or for information whereas I rarely read purely for information and often I am reading for something more elusive . . . illumination? The Murakami might fit that category -- if I had loved it, I would press it on him to read.

Probably way more information than you wanted! In short, we are very harmonious so I will read most of his xmas books and he will read at least half of mine and maybe more.

Dec 27, 2017, 11:21pm Top

Those are tantalizing stacks of books since I can't quite read the titles of most of them. The funny thing is that I think I recognize some of the spines that I can't read. How likely is that?

Dec 28, 2017, 10:41am Top

>228 LizzieD: I need to redo those photos!

Did I say it was -6 F this morning? -18ish to you centigraders! Miss Po did her biz fast, I can tell you.

Dec 28, 2017, 11:02am Top

Wow, that's quite a Christmas haul!! How nice that you and your husband share (at least a good bit of) reading taste. Stay warm!!

Dec 28, 2017, 11:33am Top

Great haul! I see Testosterone Rex on the shelf, hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I think one of the best reads of 2017 for me.

Edited: Dec 28, 2017, 12:19pm Top

>228 LizzieD: I've redone the photos Peggy, I think it is more readable now.

And I added some stuff at the end of my W-UB review: >220 sibyx:

Dec 28, 2017, 12:56pm Top

Lovely final comments, Lucy! Thanks for them!
Now I"m off to research some of your Christmas haul that I can now see. Yay!

Dec 28, 2017, 4:54pm Top

Happy Holidays, Lucy!

Nice, thoughtful review of The Wind Up Bird Chronicle. I like your take on Toro and the book.

Edited: Dec 28, 2017, 5:41pm Top

Hope you had a wonderful holiday!

Dec 28, 2017, 5:44pm Top

Steal Provenance off of your husband's shelf--you'll enjoy it!

Dec 29, 2017, 12:47am Top

>227 sibyx: No, that was a great response and you are very lucky to be able to share so many reads together. My hubby is not a reader at all, except for business documents, which he has a ton of. But he is the one who suggested LT to me and he signed me up for a Powell's regular book delivery, so he willingly supports my addiction. : ) I think I will keep him.

Dec 29, 2017, 9:04am Top

Very nice haul, Lucy! And I love that you and the spousal unit get to share some of those - Craig and I overlap like that, too. I like murder mysteries way more than he does - he pretty much sticks to fantasy with some sci fi thrown in. And he reads MUCH faster than I do, so I try not to tip him off to a good series until I am almost finished with it or he will lap me and then give key plot points away without meaning to.

LOVE your thoughts on both the Washington book and the Murakami - giving both of those reviews my thumb.

Hoping that the New Year is full of fabulous for you, my friend.

Dec 30, 2017, 8:15pm Top

The God Stalk group read thread is up in the 2018 group, Lucy, here:


Dec 30, 2017, 10:01pm Top

Dec 31, 2017, 3:45pm Top

Hi Lucy!

Peace, Health, and Happiness in 2018

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 5:03pm Top

138. **** contemp fic
Summer Hours at the Robbers Library Sue Halpern

Halpern's Summer Hours at the Robbers Library falls into a category of novels that I have come to value and even cherish. Well-written and intelligent domestic fiction isn't as easy to come by as I'd like. This sort of novel does not fall into light fiction and while I would not call it literary fiction either as there is no experimenting with form. The goal here is to create strong characters in a 'situation' that without some slam-bang plot will lead you to turn the pages in order to find out what choices these characters will make. Very often the worst has happened already and the main character is struggling to come to terms and find ways to move on. In this case, Kit Sweeney has been betrayed by her husband and his family and has left her old life behind to make a new one as a librarian in a small library in a town in New Hampshire that has seen better days but continues to limp along. In this new life she is supremely defended, living alone, refusing all social interaction beyond work, determined never to be hurt by having expectations of people again, especially men. Along come two characters the summer of her fourth year in her cocoon, fifteen-year old Sunny who has to work in the library as penance for having tried to steal a dictionary from the bookstore at the mall, and Rusty, a former bond trader in New York, who lost his job and everything he owned when his company (and many others) failed in the mid 2000's and has come to the town trying to solve a family mystery. I value this type of fiction highly because, as Kit herself says at point, books can save a life. There have been many times when losing myself in a story about familiar people not unlike me is exactly the medicine I need. This is a novel to read during a busy or difficult times, that will soothe and entertain and gently enlighten. I read it in the space between Christmas and New Year's, retreating from family when it all gets to be too much, absorbed and refreshed, exactly the right medicine. ****

Edited: Jan 1, 6:48pm Top

Summer Hours at the Robbers Library Sue Halpern

Halpern's Summer Hours at the Robbers Library falls into a category of novels that I have come to value and even cherish. Well-written and intelligent domestic fiction isn't as easy to come by as I'd like. This sort of novel does not fall into light fiction nor would not call it literary fiction either as there is no experimenting with form. The goal here is to create strong characters placed in 'situations' that without some slam-bang plot will lead you to turn the pages in order to find out what choices these characters will make. Very often, in this type of novel, the worst has happened already and the main character is struggling to come to terms and move on. In this case, Kit Sweeney betrayed by her husband and his family has left her old life to make a new one as a librarian in a mid-sized town in New Hampshire that has seen better days but continues to limp along. In this new life she is supremely defended, living alone, refusing all social interaction beyond work, determined never to be hurt by having expectations of people again, especially men. Along come two characters the summer of her fourth year in her cocoon--fifteen-year old Sunny who has to work in the library as penance for having tried to steal a dictionary from the bookstore at the mall and Rusty, a former bond trader in New York who lost his job and everything he owned when his company (and many others) failed in the mid 2000's. He has come to the town trying to solve a family mystery. There isn't so much plot as snowballing events. I value this type of fiction highly because, as Kit herself says at one point, books can save a life. There have been many times when losing myself in a story about familiar people not unlike me is exactly the medicine I need to cope. This is a novel to keep handy for a busy or difficult time when it will soothe and entertain and gently enlighten. I read it in the space between Christmas and New Year's and it was exactly what I needed to feel grounded again. ****

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 5:18pm Top

139.. ♬ hist mys ****
Deadly Election Lindsey Davis

I seem to be powering through the Flavia Albia novels and will soon have to say farewell to the entire Didius Falco family. Flavia's tart but also tender character is extremely enjoyable and her romance with the taciturn Tiberius has proved irresistible. In this novel a body is found in a chest at the auction house when Falco is down at his summer villa so Flavia, recuperated from her illness (caught in the last book) back in town as she couldn't take any more family closeness, has to deal with it. It's wrapped up in that years aedile elections. Lots of fun as always. Different reader, I like Lucy Brown best, but she was all right. ****

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 5:25pm Top

The above is definitely my final book for 2017 which brings me to a final count of 139, eleven short of my goal which isn't too shabby. Have to go see how I did other years.

It appears that last year I made it to 130 and the year before (by admittedly, toward the end, choosing books that were less than 250 pages long) I made 151. So this year I am right in the middle.

I'll be back tomorrow with a link to my 2018 thread.

Dec 31, 2017, 10:53pm Top

>245 sibyx: Reading 139 is quite an accomplishment, Lucy, particularly when you have other things on your plate.

Have a Happy New Year!

Jan 1, 3:11pm Top

To conclude:

Read in December

128. new Warlord Jennifer Fallon fantasy ***
129. ✔Odd Girl Out Elizabeth Jane Howard contemp fic ***1/2
130. new An Experiment in Treason Bruce Alexander hist mys****
131. ♬ Nemesis Lindsey Davis hist mys ****
132. ✔ Washington Ron Chernow bio *****
133. ♬ Ides of April Lindsey Davis myst hist ****
134. ✔ ROOT The Opposite of Fate Amy Tan
memoir ***
135. ♬ Enemies at Home Lindsey Davis hist mys ****
136. new The Price of Murder Bruce Alexander hist mys ****
137. ✔ ROOT The Wind-up Bird Chronicle Haruki Murakami contemp fic ****1/2
138. new (ARC) Summer Hours at the Robbers Library Sue Halpern contemp fic ****
139. ♬ Deadly Election Lindsey Davis hist mys

Total: 12
Men: 3 (a repeat)
Women: 5 (several repeats)
M/W writing together:
Non-fiction: 2
Contemp/Classic/Hist Fiction: 3
SF/F: 1
Mystery(inc hist mys): 6 (all hm)
YA or J: 0
Poetry: 0
New author: 0
Reread: 0

Book origins/type:
From library or borrowed: 0
Audio: 4
New (to my library): 4
e-book: 0
Off Shelf: 4 (including 2 ROOTS reads)
Did not finish: 0


TOTAL (for year so far) physical books IN=68
TOTAL e-books IN=10

Reflections for December
December was remarkably similar to November with twelve books read, surprisingly, including finishing up with the sublime George. Perhaps the oddest skews were that I read no no new authors and somehow or other only one book in the sf/fantasy realm but six! in the historical mystery genre, including four mysteries as I gobble up the remainder of the Falco family saga.
The Murakami was the only truly challenging read of the month and I am still digesting it. I wasn't as caught up by it as some, but I fully recognize it as a masterpiece and expect that it will unfold for me for some time to come. The Tan was meh and only stubbornness and the occasional "moment" got me through it and the Halpern was a charmer, a perfect retreat from the emotional demands of Christmas and New Year's--even when it goes smoothly it is a lot of effort! I did not make my 150 goal, but I am fine with that, I didn't expect to. I'll keep it as my goal because why not? You never know. I did better this year than last year with 139 -- nine more than 2016.

See you next year!

Jan 1, 5:14pm Top

Congratulations - 139 is an excellent number!

Jan 1, 5:53pm Top

>243 sibyx: Thumbed this review and added it to my wishlist. Thank you!

Jan 2, 12:51pm Top

Loved your review of the Murakami Lucy. "A tough book with sweetness at the core." Yes, I agree absolutely. I could never have put it so well but that's how I feel too. Some of his books have very grim subject matter and yet manage to stay fundamentally optimistic. I really don't know how he does that but that does seem to be the overall effect.
Anyway, Happy New Year! I look forward to catching up with you more and being more present on the threads in general in 2018.

Jan 2, 4:48pm Top

Here's a link to 2018: here

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2017

418 members

172,369 messages


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