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leslie.98's CATs and DOGs in 2018

This topic was continued by leslie.98's CATs and DOGs in 2018 - Part 2.

2018 Category Challenge

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1leslie.98
Edited: Jan 2, 2:48pm Top



My theme for 2018 is pets (cats & dogs) - I haven't personally had enough pets for all my categories so I have filled in with some general cat breeds...

My categories will be:
1. Himalayan cats: Guardian’s list books
2. Tuxedo cats: AlphaKIT
3. Tortoiseshell cats: Group Reads & CATs
4. Turkish Angora cats: Books in translation
5. Havana Brown cats: Book-to-movie challenge
6. Tabby cats: ROOTs
7. Wheaten Terrier dogs: sci-fi bingo
8. Welsh Terrier dogs: BingoDOG
9. Siberian Husky dogs: Poetry & Plays
10. Bichon Frise dogs: Catch-all

2leslie.98
Edited: Sep 28, 2017, 12:30pm Top

tickers & rating info



My attempt to define my rating system:
I rate by gut reaction & sometimes I will go back and change a book’s rating after some time has passed, based on how it has (or has not) stuck with me. Thus books that I enjoyed at the time may end up lower down on the scale if they are forgettable while books that I didn’t care for very much may rise up in the ratings if they strike me as significant in some way (even if I didn’t like them).

0.5 ★: Utter waste of paper and ink; should never have been written.
1.0 ★: Couldn't finish reading or a very poor read.
1.5 ★: Major disappointment.
2.0 ★: It was OK but either the writing or the plot was lacking.
2.5 ★: Flawed in some way but still enjoyable
3.0 ★: Good, a solid read that I finished but can't promise to remember
3.5 ★: Above Average, there's room for improvement but I liked this well enough to pick up another book by this author.
4.0 ★: A very good read; a book that I think will last
4.5 ★: An excellent read, a book I will remember, recommend and probably reread
5.0 ★: A powerful book, either because it was the right book at the right time for me or because it will stay with me for a long time to come

Some symbols & abbreviations:
·Books with an asterisk (*) are from The Guardian's List of 1000 Novels Everyone Should Read
·Authors with a capital N (ℕ) are Nobel Laureates in Literature
·books sourced as MOB are from my own bookcases; those from BPL are from the Boston Public Library (as opposed to my local library); SYNC refers to audiobooks acquired (for free) through the annual summer program hosted by http://www.audiobooksync.com/

3leslie.98
Edited: Apr 14, 4:19pm Top

1. Himalayan cats


My first cat Teva was most like a Himalayan in coloring (though she wasn't a pure-bred cat) and she looked just like this picture! The Himalayas being a very tall set of mountains, it seemed appropriate to make this the category for my attempt at reading from the Guardian's list!

goal = 25 new-to-me books from The Guardian's List of 1000 Novels Everyone Should Read

1) The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (1/1)
2) Dead Lagoon (1/4)
3) The Captive (1/10)
4) Martin Eden (1/17)
5) The Vagabond (1/20)
6) Manon Lescaut (2/2)
7) The French Lieutenant's Woman (2/6)
8) Tom Brown's Schooldays (2/13)
9) A Judgement in Stone (2/23)
10) The Sweet Cheat Gone (2/23)
11) Fathers and Sons (3/13)
12) I Am Legend (3/28)
13) Infinite Jest (4/7)
14) White Teeth (4/12)

Discworld series:
 Moving Pictures (1/27)
 Witches Abroad (3/22)

Rereads: (these books don't count for this challenge)
· Metamorphosis (1/22)
· The Big Sleep (3/16)
· Persuasion (3/18)
· Rebecca (3/23)

4leslie.98
Edited: Apr 15, 8:26pm Top

2. Tuxedo cats


My second cat, Eddy, was the most friendly black & white tuxedo cat! In his honor, I am selecting my favorite category - the AlphaKIT.

Jan: V, M
*Martin Eden by Jack London (1/17); *The Vagabond (1/20); *Metamorphosis (1/22); *Moving Pictures (1/27);
Mike (1/8); Vivian Apple at the End of the World (1/12); The Marco Effect (1/16); Monster (1/17); The Vanishing Man (1/20); Money From Holme (1/26); Very Good, Jeeves! (1/28)
*Dead Lagoon by Michael Dibdin (1/4); *The Captive by Marcel Proust (1/10);
Back in Society by Marion Chesney (1/6); Robinson by Muriel Spark (1/24)
  Short stories: "The Minister's Black Veil" (1/5), "The Vision of the Fountain" (1/6), "The Maypole of Merry Mount" (1/7), "The Village Uncle" (1/8)

Feb : P, J
*A Judgement in Stone by Ruth Rendell (2/23)
John Thorndyke's Cases (2/9); The Penguin Pool Murder (2/8); Juba! (2/9); Johnny Tremain (2/11); Psmith in the City (2/11); Jester Leaps In (2/14); Plum Pie (2/17); John Bull's Other Island (2/24); The Photograph (2/25); Playing With Poison (2/26); The Preacher (2/27); The Power-House (2/27); Pietr the Latvian (2/28)
*The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles (2/6); *The Sweet Cheat Gone by Marcel Proust (2/23)
Borrower of the Night by Elizabeth Peters (2/7); The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan (2/17); One Plus One by Jojo Moyes (2/20)
  Short stories: "The Prophetic Pictures" (2/4), "Peter Goldthwaite's Treasure" (2/5)

Mar: F, I
*Father and Sons by Ivan Turgenev (3/13); *I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (3/28)
In the Bleak Midwinter (3/8); Frozen Assets (3/11); I Dare (3/12); Improper Stories (3/22); I'll Give You the Sun (3/25); Farewell, My Lovely (3/27); The Intrusion of Jimmy (3/28); If on a winter's night a traveler (3/29)
The Mystery of 31 New Inn by R. Austin Freeman (3/4);
  Short stories: "Fancy's Show Box" (3/3), "Footprints on the Seashore" (3/4)

Apr: Y, U
Y is for Yesterday (4/6); The Underground Man (4/9); Unexpected Night (4/10)

May: Q, K
Jun: G, R
Jul: S, A
Aug: O, D
Sep: B, E
Oct: N, L
Nov: T, H
Dec: C, W

Yearlong: X, Z
*White Teeth by Zadie Smith (4/12)

5leslie.98
Edited: Apr 14, 4:22pm Top

3. Tortoiseshell cats


My third cat Arwen was a kitten I got from a co-worker who was desperate to find homes for the progeny of her (unspayed) house cat.

This category will be for Group Reads & the various CATs & KITs (other than the AlphaKIT which has its own category).

January:
ColorCAT Black
 ·The Minister's Black Veil
 ·Black Diamond Death
 ·The Black Moth
 ·The Black Tulip
MysteryCAT (Nordic)
 ·The Ice Princess {Swedish}
 ·The Marco Effect {Danish}
RandomCAT Book Bullets
 ·Appointment in Samarra
ScaredyKIT Gothic
 ·The Minister's Black Veil
SFFKit Procrastination
 ·Beguilement

February:
ColorCAT Brown
 ·Memento Mori
 ·Borrower of the Night
 ·Tom Brown's Schooldays
MysteryCAT female sleuths
 ·Borrower of the Night
 ·The Penguin Pool Murder
RandomCAT Local/Obscure holidays
 ·Johnny Tremain (Patriots' Day)
SFFKit Urban Fantasy
 ·Moonlight and Vines

March:
ColorCAT green
 ·Frozen Assets
 ·Thrush Green
 *The Big Sleep {audiobook edition}
 ·Suicide Excepted
 ·Green Shiver
MysteryCAT global mysteries
 ·Deja Dead (Canada)
 ·Game of Mirrors (Italy)
RandomCAT from the headlines
 ·Psmith, Journalist
SFFKit off world
 ·Local Custom
 ·I Dare

April:
ColorCAT yellow
 ·Unexpected Night
 ·Curiosity Thrilled the Cat
MysteryCAT classic & GA mysteries
 ·Tragedy at Law
 ·The Singing Bone
 ·Unexpected Night
 ·Death in Ecstasy
RandomCAT April
 ·
SFFKit time travel
 

6leslie.98
Edited: Apr 6, 3:24pm Top

✔4. Turkish Angora cats


Ringo was a stray that I adopted through KittyAngels so who knows what went into his breeding! However, in appearance he is most like these Turkish Angora cats. What I couldn't show in the picture is his great big polydactyl paws!

This category is for books in translation: my goal is to reach the LINGUIST level on the scale below. Done as of 4/6!

Beginner = 1-3
1) The Ice Princess {Swedish}
2) *The Captive {French}
3) The Marco Effect {Danish}

Conversationalist = 4-6
4) *The Vagabond {French}
5) *Metamorphosis {German}
6) The Black Tulip {French}

Bilingual = 7-9
7) *Manon Lescaut {French}
8) *The Sweet Cheat Gone {French}
9) The Preacher {Swedish}

Interpreter = 10-12
10) Pietr the Latvian {French}
11) Game of Mirrors {Italian}
12) *Fathers and Sons {Russian}

Linguist = 13+
13) If on a winter's night a traveler {Italian}
14) A Beam of Light {Italian}
15) A Man Called Ove {Swedish}

16) Dog Day {Spanish}

7leslie.98
Edited: Aug 31, 10:22pm Top

5. Havana Brown cats


I have never owned a Havana brown but think that their coloring is lovely.

This category is a book-to-movie challenge: to read a book that has been adapted into a movie & then watch the movie. I am not setting a goal for this one.

Movie Fan = 3
1) *The French Lieutenant's Woman (2/6)
2) The Penguin Pool Murder (2/8)
3) Johnny Tremain (2/11)

Movie Devotee = 6
4) *The Big Sleep (3/16)
5) *Persuasion (3/18)
6) The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood (3/20)

Movie Lover = 9
7) *Rebecca (3/23)
8) Farewell, My Lovely (3/27)
9) *I Am Legend (3/28)

Movie Afficiando = 12
10) A Man Called Ove (4/1)

Movie Auteur = 24

Here are some of the books I am thinking about for this challenge:
*One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
*Washington Square
*Strangers on a Train
*Room at the Top
*Zorba the Greek
*Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House
*A Clockwork Orange
*Sophie's Choice
*The French Lieutenant's Woman
and just maybe a Stephen King such as *The Shining (though he is generally way too scary for me!)

8leslie.98
Edited: Apr 6, 3:26pm Top

6. Tabby cats


Ever since I started having cats as pets, I have wanted to have a tabby but it just hasn't happened (yet!).

This category is for my ROOTs: goal = 100 with 40 of them being print books
I won't be listing the books here as it would be a duplication of my ROOT thread but will put in a link once I have one.

And here is the link to my 2018 ROOT thread: http://www.librarything.com/topic/278513




January progress: Read 17 ROOTs, acquired 37 new books :/
February progress: Read 13 ROOTs, acquired 7 new books
March progress: Read 12 ROOTs, acquired 6 new books

9leslie.98
Edited: Apr 6, 3:32pm Top

7. Wheaten Terrier dogs


My brother's family finally got a dog a few years ago, a lovely soft coated Wheaten terrier named Acadia.

This category is a science fiction/fantasy bingo I downloaded from Barnes & Noble several years ago and never got around to doing.



For convenience, I will label the columns A through E and the rows 1 through 5.

A5: Fairy Tale twist - *Witches Abroad (3/22)
B1: Epic fantasy - The Eye of the World (2/17)
B4: YA SFF Novel - Vivian Apple at the End of the World (1/12)
C2: Space Opera - Local Custom (3/5)
D5: SFF humor - *Moving Pictures (1/27)
E2: Urban fantasy - Moonlight and Vines (2/22)
E5: Post apocalyptic - *I Am Legend (3/28)

10leslie.98
Edited: Apr 14, 4:24pm Top

8. Welsh Terrier dogs


The very first pet I had was Corky, a Welsh terrier; though to say my pet is inaccurate as she was really my mother's dog. My parents got her when I was a baby and she was my friend & companion throughout my childhood.

This category is for the BingoDOG.



1. Juba! (2/9) (refers to William Henry Lane, 19th century African-American dancer)
2. *The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (1/1) (first published in 1914)
3. The Marco Effect (1/16) {Danish}
4. The Abbey Court Murder (1/7) {by Annie Haynes}
5. *Fathers and Sons (3/13)
6. Money From Holme (1/26)
7.
8. Unexpected Night (4/10)
9. Deja Dead (3/2) (532 pages in paperback)
10. Appointment in Samarra (1/22) (events in the book take place 24-26 December)
11. *The Captive (1/10) {both Albertine (lesbian) & Charlus (gay)}
12. *Martin Eden (1/17)
13. Black Diamond Death (1/15) {Jan. ColorCAT - black}
14. One Plus One (2/20)
15. Mike (1/8)
16. The Vagabond (1/20)
17. I'll Give You the Sun (3/25)
18.
19. The Minister's Black Veil (1/5) fits Jan. ColorCAT, ScaredyKIT & AlphaKIT
20. Between Shades of Gray (3/3) (see below for cover)
21.
22. John Bull's Other Island (2/24)
23. Over My Dead Body (1/11) {owned since 2009}
24. The Eye of the World (2/17)
25. The Ice Princess (1/6)

20. beautiful cover is

11leslie.98
Edited: Apr 10, 3:18pm Top

9. Siberian Husky dogs


Sheba was a dog my parents adopted from a shelter after Corky died. She was a beautiful dog but due to some abuse in her history, she was quite hostile to my mother and we eventually gave her to someone to whom she took a fancy.

This category is for the poetry & plays & short story collections I will read. I am not setting a goal for either of these this year.

A. Poetry

B. Plays
 John Bull's Other Island (2/24)

C. Short Stories
 from Hawthorne's Twice Told Tales:
   ·The Minister's Black Veil (1/5)
   ·The Vision of the Fountain (1/6)
   ·"The Maypoll of Merry Mount" (1/7)
   ·"The Village Uncle" (1/8)
   ·"The Prophetic Pictures" (2/4)
   ·"Peter Goldthwaite's Treasure" (2/5)
   ·"Fancy's Show Box" (3/3)
   ·"Footprints on the Seashore" (3/4)

 The Old Wives' Fairy Tale Book (1/22)
 Very Good, Jeeves! (1/28) {reread via audiobook}

 John Thorndyke's Cases (2/9)
 Norse Mythology (2/10)
 Plum Pie (2/17)
 Moonlight and Vines (2/22)

 Improper Stories (3/22)

 The Singing Bone (4/9)

12leslie.98
Edited: Apr 15, 8:46pm Top

10. Bichon Frise dogs


Molly was my parents last pet - she was such a loyal & lovable dog! She had one peculiarity that always made me laugh -- she didn't want her dog-walker to see her poop. She would get all ready then turn her head to look at you & if you were looking at her, she would get up and continue walking.

This is my space for everything that doesn't fit anywhere else. Call it the Catch-all category.

January:
A Gentleman in Moscow (1/13)
Tenant for Death (1/31)

February:
Black Orchids (2/3)
Death is No Sportsman (2/24)

March:
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine (3/8)
The Great Hunt (3/10)

April:
Leave It To Psmith (4/9) {reread via audiobook}

13VivienneR
Sep 29, 2017, 12:13pm Top

Love the pets and their stories. I'll look forward to seeing how you fill the categories.

14leslie.98
Sep 29, 2017, 12:23pm Top

Thanks >13 VivienneR:! I worried that it was 'over-sharing' but wanted to say why I had chosen the different types.

15VivienneR
Sep 29, 2017, 12:45pm Top

Oh no, I think sharing is the best bit!

When I was a child I fell in love with a Welsh terrier owned by a friend of the family. I never owned one, but still have a soft spot for the breed.

16whitewavedarling
Sep 29, 2017, 12:53pm Top

I LOVE your sharing lol :) Personally, I don't even think it's possible to overshare when it comes to our pets--especially when shares are accompanied by photos!

17DeltaQueen50
Sep 29, 2017, 1:21pm Top

I love your pet theme, and I love all the pictures and the stories. You've been lucky to have had so many interesting animals in your life. Looking forward to the 2018 reading year.

18leslie.98
Sep 29, 2017, 3:07pm Top

>15 VivienneR: Apparently, Welsh terriers became very popular during the time of the Kennedy presidency as JFK Jr. had one called Charlie. Nowadays, people tend to think that they are some sort of little Airdale...

>16 whitewavedarling: lol! I'm not sure that is true but will gratefully accept the encouragement :)

>17 DeltaQueen50: Thanks Judy - pets have always been part of my family, extended or immediate. Luckily none of us have any allergies!

19whitewavedarling
Sep 29, 2017, 3:12pm Top

>18 leslie.98:, Well, maybe not true when us pet parents are rambling on in conversation, but non-interested folks can always scroll by on social media, right? (Or, at least, that's what I'm telling myself when I'm rambling on about my creatures!)

20rabbitprincess
Edited: Sep 29, 2017, 7:00pm Top

Love the theme, the photos and the stories! I laughed out loud at Molly's peculiarity :) Have a great reading year!

21leslie.98
Sep 29, 2017, 8:52pm Top

>19 whitewavedarling: LOL! That is, of course, the correct way to view social media ;)

>20 rabbitprincess: It was an amusing oddity! Thanks.

22sallylou61
Sep 29, 2017, 10:10pm Top

I really enjoyed the stories about and pictures of your pets (and those you have not yet acquired). Hope you enjoy your reading.

23leslie.98
Sep 30, 2017, 10:18am Top

Thanks for stopping by >22 sallylou61:. And good reading to you too!

24cyderry
Nov 6, 2017, 2:51pm Top

cute theme!

25leslie.98
Nov 6, 2017, 7:03pm Top

Thanks Chèli! I haven't started looking at many of the other 2018 challenges in case they tempt me to make changes -- I can easily see myself tinkering with it endlessly :P

26lkernagh
Nov 12, 2017, 1:12pm Top

Great theme! Love the personal pet stories. I love Himalayan cats. We had one that lived down the road from us. When we would head out for our after dinner walk, the cat was usually sitting on its front step and as soon as we came by, would come join us on our walk. My sister has an orange tabby cat - actually, it is my niece's but the cat did not go with her when she moved out - and he is quite the personality!

27Chrischi_HH
Nov 14, 2017, 6:09am Top

I enjoyed the stories of your cute theme as well, no over-sharing there. :) Enjoy your reading!

28majkia
Nov 14, 2017, 8:11am Top

Cute, cute pics. I'm a dog lover, and a cat avoider (allergic!) but love them all. Good luck!

29mamzel
Nov 17, 2017, 1:35pm Top

How nice of you to honor your past pets and hopefully pets-to-be with your categories. I'm going to wait until I retire before getting another dog. I have four chickens at the moment and nobody in my house does anything to help but eat the eggs. Who knows? Maybe I'll get two! Have a wonderful year of books and pets.

30leslie.98
Edited: Aug 9, 3:43pm Top

Some bookish goals for 2018:

1) finish my 2017 Proust challenge (to read In Search of Lost Time)
2) read mysteries off my shelves, particularly:
   a) the Nero Wolfe series in order, filling in the gaps of my books with library books
   b) my Cyril Hare books -- Done! as of August
3) continue reading the Liaden sci fi series -- Done! as of June
4) to acquire fewer books than I read (fingers crossed!)

31leslie.98
Dec 15, 2017, 9:40pm Top

Thanks for stopping by, >26 lkernagh:, >27 Chrischi_HH:, >28 majkia: and >29 mamzel:!

I hope that you all have a great reading year in 2018 :)

32VivienneR
Dec 16, 2017, 2:07am Top

>30 leslie.98: Great goals for 2018! I wish you success. I'd like to accomplish no.4, but it has been eluding me for years.

33leslie.98
Dec 16, 2017, 11:21am Top

>32 VivienneR: That goal is always a struggle for us bookworms ;)

34hailelib
Jan 1, 8:56pm Top

Love the pics of the cats and dogs.

35leslie.98
Jan 2, 11:04am Top

Thanks >34 hailelib: -- it was great fun looking at all the images on the web and selecting those that most closely matched my own pets!

36leslie.98
Edited: Jan 31, 7:55pm Top

January reading plans

I am currently reading The Captive and listening to the audiobook of Beguilement...

Books for Goodreads group reads & readalongs:
*Infinite Jest (currently reading)
The Abbey Court Murder
*The French Lieutenant's Woman (currently reading)
*Zeno's Conscience (maybe)

I hope to read A Gentleman in Moscow but it is a very popular book so I don't know if any of my library holds will come in before the month ends!

Mysteries:
*Dead Lagoon
The Ice Princess
(January MysteryCAT)
The Vanishing Man (January AlphaKIT)
Over My Dead Body
Black Diamond Death
(January ColorCAT)
Tenant for Death {reread}
The Marco Effect (maybe)
(January MysteryCAT)

Other Fiction:
Back in Society
*The Vagabond
(January AlphaKIT)
The Minister's Black Veil and maybe some of the other short stories in Hawthorne's Twice-Told Tales (January ColorCAT, AlphaKIT, ScaredyKIT)
*Martin Eden (January AlphaKIT)
Robinson by Murial Spark (January AlphaKIT)
*Moving Pictures (maybe) (January AlphaKIT)

The Vicar of Bullhampton (maybe) (January AlphaKIT)
*Melmoth the Wanderer (maybe) (January AlphaKIT, ScaredyKIT)

37leslie.98
Edited: Jan 6, 9:34pm Top

1.     *The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell
format/source=Kindle/Project Gutenberg & audio/LibriVox, narrated by Tadhg; 587 pages; finished 1/1; 4
Country: England
Categories: Himalayan; Tabby (ROOT)
Welsh Terrier (BingoDOG #2 - published >100 years ago) {first published 1914}

Publisher's blurb says: "Clearly frustrated at the refusal of his contemporaries to recognise the iniquity of society, Tressell's cast of hypocritical Christians, exploitative capitalists and corrupt councillors provide a backdrop for his main target — the workers who think that a better life is "not for the likes of them". Hence the title of the book; Tressell paints the workers as "philanthropists" who throw themselves into back-breaking work for poverty wages in order to generate profit for their masters.

The hero of the book, Frank Owen, is a socialist who believes that the capitalist system is the real source of the poverty he sees all around him. In vain he tries to convince his fellow workers of his world view, but finds that their education has trained them to distrust their own thoughts and to rely on those of their "betters". Much of the book consists of conversations between Owen and the others, or more often of lectures by Owen in the face of their jeering; this was presumably based on Tressell's own experiences."


My thoughts: Tadhg's narration was wonderful -- this free public domain audiobook was of better quality than some commercial audiobooks!

As for the book itself, it is a bitterly savage satire on the social, economic and religious conditions in England during the early years of the twentieth century. In some ways this reminded me of Dos Passos's trilogy U.S.A.. Both books make it crystal clear why socialism, Bolshevism/communism, trade unions and anarchy were popular ideas in the years immediately preceding & following the Russian Revolution. However, Dos Passos's books were ultimately more optimistic than this one; despite the terrible conditions of American laborers, there was the feeling that Wobblies and/or the union organizers would eventually make life better. Tressell holds out no such hope - instead, he shows that the most downtrodden citizens are some of the strongest opponents to change.

I did find the names Tressell gave to the employers amusing: Mr. Oyley Sweater (as in one who sweats the work out of his employees); Mr. Grinder; Mrs Starvem; the painting firm of Dauber and Botchit; Snatchum the undertaker; and on the town council Dr. Weakling as the only one interested in helping others! Not to mention the workers' manager Hunter, variously called Nimrod or Misery.

While I believe that conditions for blue collar workers in the United States & England have improved, I found this idea that the workers firmly held to conditions that were ultimately responsible for their misery depressing because it seems so similar to the way lower economic classes in the U.S. responded to Donald Trump.

38thornton37814
Jan 2, 9:58pm Top

You've got some ambitious reading plans for January. Good luck with them!

39leslie.98
Jan 2, 10:56pm Top

>38 thornton37814: lol -- my plans are often too ambitious! It is the reading equivalent to the food saying "my eyes are bigger than my stomach".

I use them more as a pool to choose from (rather than the sometimes overwhelming total number of ROOTs I own) but it's not uncommon that I veer from the list completely!

40leslie.98
Edited: Jan 6, 9:31pm Top

2.   Beguilement by Lois McMaster Bujold
format/source= audio/BPL, narrated by Bernadette Dunne; 372 pages; finished 1/3; 3
Country: N/A
Categories: Tortoiseshell (January SFFKit)

Publisher's blurb says: "Young, pregnant Fawn Bluefield has just fled her family's farm to the city of Glassforge, where she encounters a patrol of the enigmatic soldier-sorcerers known as Lakewalkers. Fawn has heard stories about the Lakewalkers, wandering necromancers with no permanent homes and no possessions but the clothes they wear and the mysterious knives they carry. What she does not know is that the Lakewalkers are engaged in a perilous campaign against inhuman and immortal magical entities known as "malices." When Fawn is kidnapped by one of these creatures, it is up to Dag, an older Lakewalker heavy with sorrows and responsibilities, to rescue her. But in the ensuing struggle, it is not Dag but Fawn who kills the creature—at dire cost—and an uncanny accident befalls Dag's sharing knife, which unexpectedly binds their two fates together."

My thoughts: While it was no hardship to listen to Bernadette Dunne's narration of this first book in The Sharing Knife trilogy, ultimately I found myself disappointed. This fantasy novel by one of my favorite sci fi/fantasy authors, Lois McMaster Bujold, was much more focused on the Romeo & Juliet style romance between Fawn and Dag (including some graphic sex scenes). There is some adventure and a little world building but much less than I had expected. And perhaps it is my own advancing age, but I have to say that the age difference between Fawn (17 or 18) and Dag (58) made me cringe. I am unsure whether I will continue in this trilogy...

41leslie.98
Edited: Jan 8, 8:55pm Top

3.   *Dead Lagoon by Michael Dibdin
format/source=paperback/MOB; 297 pages; finished 1/4; 4
Country: Italy
Categories: Himalayan; Tuxedo (Jan. V & M); Tabby (ROOT)

Publisher's blurb says: "Among the emerging generation of crime writers, none is as stylish and intelligent as Michael Dibdin, who, in Dead Lagoon, gives us a deliciously creepy new novel featuring the urbane and skeptical Aurelio Zen, a detective whose unenviable task it is to combat crime in a country where today's superiors may be tomorrow's defendants. Zen returns to his native Venice. He is searching for the ghostly tormentors of a half-demented contessa and a vanished American millionaire whose family is paying Zen under the table to determine his whereabouts-dead or alive. But he keeps stumbling over corpses that are distressingly concrete: from the crooked cop found drowned in one of the city's noisome "black wells" to a brand-new skeleton that surfaces on the Isle of the Dead. The result is a mystery rich in character and deduction, and intensely informed about the history, politics, and manners of its Venetian setting."

My thoughts: This fourth book in the Aurelio Zen series started off slower than the previous books in the series for me. However, by the end I was glued to the page. Zen's manuevers between doing honest police work and surviving the official bureaucratic politics were up to his usual standards but there is a bit more about his personal life & past which surface both in Zen's reminiscences & in revelations from people who knew him & his family when they lived in Venice. Zen also exhibits some distressing behaviour in his personal & professional life (some but not all of it unintentional) so I am curious to see how he will be in the next book.

42leslie.98
Edited: Jan 9, 10:07am Top

4.   contained in  The Minister's Black Veil by Nathaniel Hawthorne
format/source=Kindle/Project Gutenberg; 27 pages; finished 1/5; 3
Country: U.S.A.
Categories: Tuxedo (Jan. V & M); Tabby (ROOT); Siberian Husky (short stories)
Tortoiseshell (Jan. ColorCAT & ScaredyKIT)
Welsh Terrier (BingoDOG #19 - fits 2 or more CATs or KITs: AlphaKIT, ScaredyKIT, ColorCAT)

Publisher's blurb says: "The Minister's Black Veil was first published in the 1836 edition of The Token and Atlantic Souvenir. It later appeared in Twice-Told Tales, a collection of short stories by Hawthorne published in 1837. Hawthorne's inspiration for this story may have been a true event. A clergyman named Joseph Moody of York, Maine, nicknamed "Handkerchief Moody", accidentally killed a friend when he was a young man and wore a black veil from the man's funeral until his own death. The story concerns the minister of a small town who suddenly and inexplicably begins wearing a black veil that hangs from his forehead and covers his eyes and nose. As one charater in the story says, "He has changed himself into something awful, only by hiding his face." Hawthorne thus creates a dramtic story based around two of his common themes - the effects of secrecy and guilt."

My thoughts: Hawthorne is not one of the nineteenth century authors who appeal to me very much, which is probably a shame as he is from my area of the country! I can see how the Puritan morals (the effects of which were still lingering when I was young) & hypocrisy affected him but his style of writing leaves me cold. I mention this as folks who do like his writing would probably like this short story more than I did.

Even so, I can't fault Hawthorne's ability to create mood and atmosphere. In this story, a mild and well-liked clergyman is turned into a reviled and feared man due solely to the fact that he started wearing a black veil which he would not explain. In the end, as he lies dying, he says to the various people by his bedside:

"Why do you tremble at me alone?" cried he, turning his veiled face round the circle of pale spectators. "Tremble also at each other. Have men avoided me and women shown no pity and children screamed and fled only for my black veil? What but the mystery which it obscurely typifies has made this piece of crape so awful? When the friend shows his inmost heart to his friend, the lover to his best-beloved; when man does not vainly shrink from the eye of his Creator, loathsomely treasuring up the secret of his sin,—then deem me a monster for the symbol beneath which I have lived and die. I look around me, and, lo! on every visage a black veil!"

I find the meaning of the parable quite clear in that passage but what I find unexplained is to whom he made the promise to wear the veil in the first place & why...

4. b. "The Vision of the Fountain" (1/6), 4*

This is a much sweeter (and for me, more enjoyable) story than that above! An adolescent boy away from home sees a beautiful girl's face in a fountain -- is she a naiad, a real girl or just his imagination?

4. c. "The Maypole of Merry Mount" (1/7), 2½*

Blah. A story about how the dour Puritans led by Endicott triumphed over a nearby settlement of colonists who celebrated joy and pleasure, as symbolized by their Morris dancers and May day revels.

4. d. "The Village Uncle" (1/8), 3½*

Lots of wonderful descriptions of Nahant and the ocean in this one.

43leslie.98
Jan 6, 9:39pm Top

5.   Back in Society by Marion Chesney {aka M.C. Beaton}
format/source=Kindle/Amazon Prime lending library; 192 pages; finished 1/6;
Country: England
Categories: Tuxedo (Jan. V & M)

Publisher's blurb says: "Chesney wraps up The Poor Relation series ( Colonel Sandhurst to the Rescue ) with this enjoyable story. Featuring several old series hands--blustery and sarcastic Sir Philip, the still unmarried Miss Tonks and Lady Fortescue, the eccentric hoteliers' concerned mother hen--the story hinges on the group's efforts to help their new guest, young Lady Jane Fremney, after she proves unable to pay her bills and attempts suicide."

My thoughts: This Regency romance series, of which this book is the last, is mildly entertaining but it isn't nearly as good as Georgette Heyer's books. This one included a French emigré & a plot to free Napoleon.

44leslie.98
Edited: Jan 19, 12:29am Top

6.     The Ice Princess by Camilla Läckberg {translated by Stephen T. Murray}
format/source=Kindle/Amazon & audio/Hoopla, narrated by David Thorn; 420 pages; finished 1/6;
Country: Sweden
Categories: Tabby (ROOT); Turkish Angora (translated from Swedish)
Tortoiseshell (Jan. MysteryCAT - Nordic)
Welsh Terrier (BingoDOG #25 - rank in title)

Publisher's blurb says: "Returning to her hometown after the funeral of her parents, writer Erica Falck finds a community on the brink of tragedy. The death of her childhood friend, Alex, is just the beginning. Her wrists slashed, her body frozen in an ice cold bath, it seems that she has taken her own life. Erica conceives a memoir about the beautiful but remote Alex, one that will answer questions about their lost friendship. While her interest grows to an obsession, local detective Patrik Hedstrom is following his own suspicions about the case. But it is only when they start working together that the truth begins to emerge about the small town with a deeply disturbing past."

My thoughts: I think that it is a sad commentary on the times and my reading that the big "shocker" in this Swedish mystery was something that I guessed early on though I never did figure out the murderer.

I liked Erika and Patrik but the chapters were much too long (6 chapters in 400+ pages) and each contained multiple sections from different points of view. I would rather have lots of shorter chapters! But I enjoyed this enough to try the next book in the series.

45thornton37814
Jan 6, 10:22pm Top

>42 leslie.98: We read The Minister's Black Veil back in high school, and I'm pretty sure we read it in American lit in college too.

>44 leslie.98: You liked it more than I did.

46hailelib
Jan 7, 9:50am Top

I didn't like Hawthorne when I had to read him in school and doubt I would like him now though I won't rule out trying something by him.

47leslie.98
Jan 7, 12:20pm Top

>45 thornton37814: Funnily enough, I don't think that we read any Hawthorne in my high school. It seems odd now that I think back on it!

>46 hailelib: If you do decide to try something, short stories might be the way to go. Easy to dip into and try one or two and if you don't like them, easy to walk away from!

48lkernagh
Jan 7, 3:58pm Top

Great batch of reviews. I love the cover for Twice Told Tales.... that is beautiful!

49leslie.98
Edited: Jan 8, 9:35pm Top

7.   The Abbey Court Murder by Annie Haynes
format/source = Kindle/Amazon; 217 pages; finished 1/7; 3
Country: England
Categories: Tuxedo (Jan. V & M)
Welsh Terrier (BingoDOG #4 - new-to-me author)

Publisher's blurb says: "Lady Judith Carew acted furtively on the night of the Denboroughs’ party. Her secret assignation at 9:30pm was a meeting to which she took a loaded revolver. The Abbey Court apartment building would play host to violent death that very night, under cover of darkness. The killer’s identity remained a mystery, though Lady Carew had a most compelling motive – and her revolver was left in the dead man’s flat…

Enter the tenacious Inspector Furnival in the first of his golden age mysteries, first published in 1923. Though there are many clues, there are just as many red herrings and the case takes numerous Christie-esque twists before the murderer can be revealed. This new edition, the first printed in over 80 years, features an introduction from crime fiction historian Curtis Evans."


My thoughts: While I was entertained by this Golden Age mystery, I found it irritating to have the story told primarily from Judith's point of view while hiding from the reader facts about her past which obviously she knew. It would have been better from her husband Anthony's point of view if the author wanted these facts hidden.

I was also a bit disappointed by the fact that Inspector Furnival does almost all of his detecting "off stage" and barely appears until the last quarter of the book. It was more like a Gothic Victorian romance, focusing on the horror and fear of Judith rather than on finding the solution of the crime.

50leslie.98
Edited: Jan 8, 9:35pm Top

8.     Mike: A Public School Story by P.G. Wodehouse
format/source=Kindle/Amazon & audio/LibriVox, narrated by Debra Lynn; 396 pages; finished 1/8; 3
Country: England
Categories: Tuxedo (Jan. V & M); Tabby (Kindle edition owned since Jan. 2014)

Publisher's blurb says: "This novel introduces the characters Mike Jackson and Psmith, who are featured in several of Wodehouse’s later works. It shows how the two characters first met each other as teenagers at boarding school. As Psmith doesn’t appear until about halfway through this book, it was later released as two separate books, Mike at Wrykyn and Mike and Psmith. There’s lots of cricket, but you don’t need to understand the game to enjoy the antics of these public school boys as they "rag" each other and the authorities. (Summary by Debra Lynn)"

My thoughts: Those of you who have followed my reading will know that I am a Wodehouse fan. This year I thought that I would read/reread the Psmith series in order. This book, the first in the Psmith series, is one I haven't read before.

As other reviewers (and the LibriVox summary above) have noted, there is lots of cricket in this. As an American who is not much interested in sports, much of the details about batting and bowling escaped me. However, I did get a kick out of the boys' shenanigans. I was surprised to discover that Psmith had introduced the P in his name himself (because there were too many plain Smiths and he didn't like Smythe!).

Debra Lynn does a decent narration in the LibriVox recording but she is no Jonathan Cecil...

51VivienneR
Jan 9, 2:36am Top

>41 leslie.98: I like Michael Dibdin and Aurelio Zen so I'm taking a BB on that one!

52leslie.98
Jan 9, 10:04am Top

>51 VivienneR: I am looking forward to reading more of the Zen series this year. I hope you enjoy Dead Lagoon!

53LittleTaiko
Jan 10, 4:11pm Top

>50 leslie.98: - I'm huge Wodehouse fan myself. Once I get through the Jeeves books then I'll start in on some of his other books.

54leslie.98
Jan 10, 8:58pm Top

>53 LittleTaiko: I have started reading Wodehouse's standalones & other books only fairly recently. I had read the odd Blandings and Psmith book before but was surprised to discover how many standalone books he had written! But I still think that the Jeeves & Wooster books are the best.

55leslie.98
Edited: Jan 10, 9:01pm Top

I am putting aside Hawthorne's Twice Told Tales as my library hold on a couple of other short story books have come in: Angela Carter's The Old Wives' Fairy Tales and Robert Graves' The Greek Myths. I hope to return to it later in the year.

56leslie.98
Edited: Feb 24, 8:21pm Top

9.     *The Captive by Marcel Proust (translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff)
format/source=Kindle/Feedbooks.com & audio/BPL, narrated by Neville Jason; 432 pages; finished 1/10;
Country: France
Categories: Himalayan (Guardian); Tuxedo (Jan. V & M); Tabby (ROOT); Turkish Angora (translated)
Welsh Terrier (BingoDOG #11, LGBT main character)

Publisher's blurb says: "Remembrance of Things Past is one of the monuments of 20th-century literature. The Captive is the fifth of seven volumes. In it, the narrator's obsessive love for Albertine makes her virtually a captive in his Paris apartment. He suspects she may be attracted to her own sex."

My thoughts: While Proust's style will never be a favorite of mine (what with the extremely long sentences & long digressions), I do find that the further I get in the series, the more interesting I find the books even though (or perhaps because of) Marcel, the narrator, is getting increasingly disturbing in his behaviour.

57leslie.98
Edited: Jan 28, 12:46pm Top

10.   Over My Dead Body by Rex Stout
format/source = paperback/MOB; 191 pages; finished 1/11; 4
Country: U.S.A. {NY}
Categories: Tabby (ROOT)
Welsh Terrier (BingoDOG #23 - longtime TBR)

Publisher's blurb says: "THE SWORDSMAN WAS A GIRL—and a girl in bad trouble. The lovely fencing instructor was accused of stealing diamonds—she was in the country illegally—and, just to make things more messy, she seemed to be Nero Wolfe's daughter.

When Wolfe's man Archie Goodwin went to look over the situation, it got even worse, fast—with a fresh corpse to account for, and the murder weapon burning a hole in Archie's pocket!"


My thoughts: While Wolfe is back to his typical self (not leaving home as in the previous 2!), some of his personal background is revealed in this one. Archie seemed a bit more hardboiled than I remember! The series remains poised on the edge between hardboiled & Golden Age in style, a tricky feat that Stout manages to perfection.

I got 20-30 of the Nero Wolfe series when my parents sold their house back in 2009. I plan to read through this series in order (borrowing from the library to fill in gaps), reading 1-2 a month so Rex Stout books will be a feature of my thread for quite a while!

58leslie.98
Edited: Jan 12, 1:11pm Top

11.   Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle
format/source=audio/SYNC, narrated by Julia Whelan; 288 pages; finished 1/12; 3★ for the audiobook, 2½* for the book itself
Country: U.S.A.
Categories: Tuxedo (Jan. V & M); Tabby (ROOT)
Wheaten Terrier (YA SFF Novel)

Publisher's blurb says: "A chilling vision of a contemporary USA where the sinister Church of America is destroying lives. Our cynical protagonist, seventeen-­year-­old Vivian Apple, is awaiting the fated 'Rapture' -­ or rather the lack of it. Her evangelical parents have been in the Church's thrall for too long, and she's looking forward to getting them back. Except that when Vivian arrives home the day after the supposed 'Rapture', her parents are gone. All that is left are two holes in the ceiling...

Viv is determined to carry on as normal, but when she starts to suspect that her parents might still be alive, she realises she must uncover the truth. Joined by Peter, a boy claiming to know the real whereabouts of the Church, and Edie, a heavily pregnant Believer who has been 'left behind', they embark on a road trip across America. Encountering freak weather, roving 'Believer' gangs and a strange teenage group calling themselves the 'New Orphans', Viv soon begins to realise that the Rapture was just the beginning."


My thoughts: The main plot seemed like an imitation of Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale with the usual YA stuff added in. It wasn't bad but the most interesting feature (and an important difference from Atwood's world) was introduced close to the end & then glossed over and ignored (perhaps to allow for the sequel? YA authors seem to hate standalone novels!).

59christina_reads
Jan 12, 1:28pm Top

>57 leslie.98: Ooh, looking forward to more Nero Wolfe reviews! I read the first book, Fer-de-Lance, several years ago and liked it, but for some reason I never continued with the series.

60leslie.98
Jan 12, 1:37pm Top

>59 christina_reads: If you liked the first one, you will probably like most of them. While Rex Stout is no Agatha Christie, his work does stand up well to the test of time and Nero Wolfe has plenty of quirks to amuse the reader.

61cmbohn
Jan 12, 1:51pm Top

I love Mike and Psmith. I haven't tried them on audio but I bet it's good.

62lkernagh
Jan 12, 7:28pm Top

Making note of some interesting reading since my last visit. I love P.G. Wodehouse. The TV adaptations I have seen of for some of his works - Jeeves and Wooster and Blandings - are a hoot!

63leslie.98
Jan 12, 8:38pm Top

>61 cmbohn: & >62 lkernagh: Wodehouse is always fun, isn't he? I look forward to my time with Psmith this year ;)

I love the Hugh Laurie/Stephen Fry TV adaptation -- they manage to hit off the characters of Bertie & Jeeves exactly! The Blandings TV show I thought was less successful (but still amusing to watch).

64leslie.98
Jan 13, 6:43pm Top

12.   A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
format/source = Kindle/SAILS; 470 pages; finished 1/13; 4
Country: Russia
Categories: Bichon Frise (historical fiction)

Publisher's blurb says: "He can’t leave his hotel. You won’t want to.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Civility—a transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel.

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose."


My thoughts: Maybe even 4½*...

It took me a few tries to get started with this book, partly due to the fact that the font on the Kindle edition was very small at my normal settings. Once I accepted the fact that I would have to set it to larger size (something I was reluctant to do as it made me feel old and as if my eyes were failing) and made it past the first section, my attention was firmly held.

While there is enough social commentary in the book to give the reader a feeling of life in Russia during 1922-1956, this book is primarily about the life, outlook and relationships of the main character, (former) Count Alexandre Rostov. Although he spends the entire course of the book under 'house' arrest at the Metropol Hotel in Moscow, the reader gets a look at life prior to the Russian Revolution through Rostov's reminiscences, both spoken and thought. And Rostov's friendships with various people, both staff and guests, give a window onto current events beyond the hotel.

And in an aside, not particularly related to the book:

Over the past several months I have read other books set during Stalin's reign in Russia (The Master and Margarita, Symphony for the City of the Dead) and a few others concerned with the issues which led to the rise of communism (The Coming Race, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists). As an American raised during the Cold War, I was brought up to assume that communism was wrong. And certainly things in Communist Russia during Stalin (and after) seem very wrong to me. But my liberal leanings find the ideal of communism and/or socialism attractive so I have been mulling over in the back of my mind what went wrong. In this book, Rostov puts his finger on what I believe is the main problem -- Russian (& Chinese) communism quickly became autocracy, dictatorship which was more concerned with preserving the power of the leader than in promoting equity. In other words, it was the method with which communism was administered that was at fault rather than the idea behind it. I wonder how it could be administered successfully without the central powerful leader? Employee-owned companies, unions and health & safety regulations certainly address some of the problems that existed in the early years of the twentieth century but not all.

Sorry for the digression but, as I already said, these thoughts have been sparked by my reading so I put them down here.

65leslie.98
Edited: Jan 19, 12:24am Top

13.   Black Diamond Death by Cheryl Bradshaw
format/source=Kindle/Amazon; 314 pages; finished 1/15;
Country: U.S.A.
Categories: Tabby (ROOT); Tortoiseshell (Jan. ColorCAT - black)
Welsh Terrier (BingoDOG #13 - Read a CAT)

Publisher's blurb says: "Charlotte Halliwell has a secret.

But before revealing it to her sister Audrey, she's found dead. At first glance, it appears to be nothing more than a skiing accident, until the medical examiner discovers poison coursing through Charlotte's body.

Audrey hires Sloane Monroe, a sassy, headstrong private investigator. As Sloane gets close to solving the case, a second body is found. With the killer aware that Sloane will stop at nothing to find him, he tracks her everymove. Will Sloane uncover the truth before he strikes again?"


My thoughts: This was an okay mystery but not one in which there are clues for the reader. I felt that the personal life of the narrator took up too much of the story and Sloane came across more as opinionated than headstrong to me.

66cmbohn
Edited: Jan 19, 12:29am Top

What did you think of Symphony for the City of the Dead? It's on my TBR list.

67leslie.98
Jan 19, 12:42am Top

14.   The Marco Effect by Jussi Adler-Olsen {translated by Martin Aiken}
format/source=audio/BPL, narrated by Graeme Malcolm; 496 pages; finished 1/16;
Country: Denmark
Categories: Turkish Angora (translated from Danish); Tuxedo (Jan. V & M)
Tortoiseshell (Jan. MysteryCAT - Nordic)
Welsh Terrier (BingoDOG #3 - translated book)

Publisher's blurb says: "All fifteen-year-old Marco Jameson wants is to become a Danish citizen and go to school like a normal teenager. But his uncle Zola rules his former gypsy clan with an iron fist. Revered as a god and feared as a devil, Zola forces the children of the clan to beg and steal for his personal gain. When Marco discovers a dead body--proving the true extent of Zola's criminal activities--he goes on the run. But his family members aren't the only ones who'll go to any lengths to keep Marco silent . . . forever.

Meanwhile, the last thing Detective Carl Mørck needs is for his assistants, Assad and Rose, to pick up a missing persons case on a whim: Carl's nemesis is his new boss, and he's saddled Department Q with an unwelcome addition. But when they learn that a mysterious teen named Marco may have as much insight into the case as he has fear of the police, Carl is determined to solve the mystery and save the boy. Carl's actions propel the trio into a case that extends from Denmark to Africa, from embezzlers to child soldiers, from seemingly petty crime rings to the very darkest of cover-ups."


My thoughts: For some reason, this 4th book in the Dept. Q series didn't appeal to me. I had started this once before a few years ago and couldn't get into it & returned it to the library unfinished. This time, I tried an audiobook edition. Graeme Malcolm did a good narration but I still found this entry in the series disappointing. Carl Mørck just irritated me in most of the book...

68leslie.98
Jan 19, 12:53am Top

15.     *Martin Eden by Jack London
format/source=Kindle/Amazon & audio/LibriVox, narrated by Greg W.; 480 pages; finished 1/17;
Country: U.S.A. {CA}
Categories: Himalayan (Guardian); Tuxedo (Jan. V & M); Tabby (ROOT)
Welsh Terrier (BingoDOG #12 - 1001 list)

Publisher's blurb says: "Martin Eden (1909) is a novel by American author Jack London, about a struggling young writer. It was first serialized in the Pacific Monthly magazine from September 1908 to September 1909, and subsequently published in book form by The Macmillan Company in September 1909.
This book is a favorite among writers, who relate to Martin Eden's speculation that when he mailed off a manuscript, 'there was no human editor at the other end, but a mere cunning arrangement of cogs that changed the manuscript from one envelope to another and stuck on the stamps,' returning it automatically with a rejection slip.
While some readers believe there is some resemblance between them, an important difference between Jack London and Martin Eden is that Martin Eden rejects socialism (attacking it as 'slave morality'), and relies on a Nietzschean individualism. In a note to Upton Sinclair, Jack London wrote, "One of my motifs, in this book, was an attack on individualism (in the person of the hero). I must have bungled, for not a single reviewer has discovered it." (Introduction by Wikipedia)"


My thoughts: As much as I liked London's more famous White Fang and The Call of the Wild, this novel is even better. It is quite different in subject from most of his work so those approaching it thinking to read an adventure tale might be disappointed.

Martin Eden is a young working man who, inspired by love for an upper middle-class girl, discovers he has the intellect, talent and sensibility to be an author. Eden struggles to better himself & to get published (many believe this character is semi-autobiographical at the very least, though there are some important differences between London & Eden's philosophical outlooks).

London's characterizations in this novel are marvellous - not just Martin & Ruth but also relatively minor characters such as Martin's brother-in-law Higganbotham, a temporary colleague in laundry work Joe & Martin's landlady Maria are so well drawn.

69leslie.98
Edited: Jan 24, 8:23pm Top

16.   Monster by Walter Dean Myer
format/source=audio/SYNC, narrated by full cast; 281 pages; finished 1/17; 4
Country: U.S.A. {NY}
Categories: Tuxedo (Jan. V & M); Tabby (ROOT)

Publisher's blurb says: "Sometimes I feel like I have walked into the middle of a movie. Maybe I can make my own movie. The film will be the story of my life. No, not my life, but of this experience. I'll call it what the lady who is the prosecutor called me: Monster."

My thoughts: 4* for the full cast audiobook edition; for the book itself, I am undecided between 3 & 4 stars...

This YA novel wasn't my typical sort of book & there were aspects of it I found didn't appeal to me. On the other hand, it made me aware of some aspects of life as an adolescent black man (boy?) in Harlem in a way that had more emotional impact than watching the news or reading the papers ever could have. In that sense, it was fitting that it won the Coretta Scott King Award & made it a good choice for me to read on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

70LittleTaiko
Jan 19, 10:13am Top

>66 cmbohn: - I highly recommend Symphony for the City of the Dead as it was a five star read for me in 2016. It was so compelling that I read it over the course of five days.

71mamzel
Jan 19, 11:12am Top

>69 leslie.98: I was on jury duty once and waiting in the audience seats as they interviewed the members in the jury box. The questions they asked had to do with identification - had they ever had to identify someone, were they ever in a lineup themselves - and the members' feelings on guns. I glanced over at the defendant and saw a young black man, dressed in a suit, studying his table top. It hit me that this could be Monster in reality!

And I will also put in my two cents about Symphony for the City of the Dead. It was really good and inspired me to listen to the symphony. I enjoyed the book much more.

72leslie.98
Jan 19, 1:54pm Top

>66 cmbohn: I agree with >70 LittleTaiko: & >71 mamzel: that Symphony for the City of the Dead was very good. I don't read much nonfiction but this one did an excellent job of combining factual information with the personalities involved.

73leslie.98
Edited: Jan 19, 5:58pm Top

17.     The Black Moth by Georgette Heyer {reread via audio}
format/source=paperback/MOB & audio/Hoopla, narrated by Julian Rhind-Tutt; 274 pages; finished 1/18; 4★ (3½* for the book itself)
Country: England
Categories: Tortoiseshell (Jan. ColorCAT - black)

Publisher's blurb says: "The Black Moth was Georgette Heyer's first historical novel, written when she was only 19. It was set in the Georgian period, and although it was with the Regency period that she really made her name, it has many of the characteristics that were to make her so popular during her lifetime and up to the present day. The disgraced Earl Wyncham, who has become a highwayman, foils an abduction of a maiden, rescuing the damsel in distress, and the story unfolds from there."

My thoughts: A prodigious fun book! However, this Georgian romance, set in the 1750s, shows Heyer's youth and is missing the humor and more realistic situations of her later work.

Julian Rhind-Tutt does a marvelous narration.

74thornton37814
Jan 19, 9:43pm Top

You are doing really well!

75leslie.98
Jan 19, 11:07pm Top

>74 thornton37814: Thanks -- not following my plan for January very closely but still managing to read a lot!

76leslie.98
Edited: Jan 21, 11:26pm Top

18.   The Vanishing Man by R. Austin Freeman {aka The Eye of Osiris}
format/source=Kindle/Amazon; 269 pages; finished 1/20; 4
Country: England
Categories: Tuxedo (Jan. V & M); Tabby (ROOT)

Publisher's blurb says: "John Bellingham is a world-renowned archaeologist who goes missing mysteriously after returning from a voyage to Egypt where fabulous treasures have been uncovered. Bellingham seems to have disappeared leaving clues, which lead all those hunting down blind alleys. But when the piercing perception of the brilliant Dr Thorndyke is brought to bear on the mystery, the search begins for a man tattooed with the Eye of Osiris in this strange, tantalisingly enigmatic tale."

My thoughts: I bought this mystery back in 2013 because I liked the title & it was free (that was before I learned to be a bit more careful with those Kindle freebies!). I figured I would read it this month to fit the AlphaKIT & discovered that it was the 3rd book in the Dr. Thorndyke series. Coincidentally, I had read the first book of this series, The Red Thumb Mark, a few months ago & much enjoyed it.

Even though I figured out the solution before the end of the book, I enjoyed seeing how Thorndyke managed to prove it & to learn his reasoning. Plus I got a chuckle out of the fact that Freeman casually drops in a reference to Dodson and Fogg as if they were real (they were the unscrupulous lawyers in Dickens' Pickwick Papers). Now I have yet another mystery series that I would like to pursue!! I have already downloaded the 2nd book of the series from Project Gutenberg (apparently this one, John Thorndyke's Cases, is a collection of short stories) and will probably acquire a few more of them before the year is out.

added later
I found ~20 of this series available for free on Feedbooks.com!
http://www.feedbooks.com/list/29/dr-thorndyke

77VivienneR
Jan 22, 3:40pm Top

>76 leslie.98: You reminded me that I have one of Freeman's ebooks waiting to be read. Thanks for the tip about feedbooks, it looks like a good site.

I'm curious about why you "learned to be a bit more careful with those Kindle freebies!"

78leslie.98
Jan 22, 7:51pm Top

>77 VivienneR: Well, partly because I accumulated more books than I could reasonably read! But also I found some of them (primarily those that were self-published) were pretty bad.

79VivienneR
Jan 23, 12:00am Top

>78 leslie.98: Ah, yes. I understand.

80leslie.98
Edited: Jan 24, 8:43pm Top

19.   The Old Wives' Fairy Tale Book by Angela Carter {aka The Virago Book of Fairy Tales}
format/source=hardcover/library; 242 pages (including notes); finished 1/22;
Country: various
Categories: Siberian Husky (short stories)

Publisher's blurb says: "There was a time when fairy tales weren't meant just for children - they were part of an oral folklore tradition passed down through generations. This volume of sixty enchanting and enduring tales, collected by master storyteller Angela Carter, revives the industry, eccentricity, spirit, and worldly wisdom of women in preindustrial times. Drawn from narrative traditions all around the world - from ancient Swahili legends to Appalachian tall tales to European spirit stories and more - these tales together comprise a unique feminine mythology."

My thoughts: Meh. While I liked some of the individual stories, the overall impression was that Carter had an axe to grind. There were just too many stories about women tricking men (who sometimes deserved it but often did not).

81leslie.98
Edited: Jan 26, 1:41pm Top

20.     *Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka {reread via audio} {translators varied, see below}
format/source=Kindle/Project Gutenberg & audio/SYNC, narrated by Martin Jarvis; 274 pages; finished 1/22; 4★ (3½* for the book itself)
Country: Germany (?)
Categories: Himalayan (Guardian); Tuxedo (Jan. V & M); Tabby (ROOT); Turkish Angora (translated)

Publisher's blurb says: "Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning to find he has been transformed into a gigantic insect. This extraordinary tale of imagination was written by Kafka against the backdrop of increasing turmoil in central Europe and remains not just an affecting tale but a disturbing allegory. It is read here, in a new translation, by master storyteller Martin Jarvis."

My thoughts: I got the Kindle edition back in 2012 from Project Gutenberg & the audiobook last August from SYNC. I found the more modern translation by Richard Stokes used in the audiobook better than the David Wyllie translation in my Kindle edition (plus it was a treat to listen to Martin Jarvis) so I give 4* to the audio edition but only 3½* to the Kindle edition.

I read this 30+ years ago and found that I had forgotten everything except the central idea that Gregor had mysteriously turned into a giant bug. The story was much sadder than I had expected or remembered and really, with the one big exception of what has happened to Gregor, is more about family dynamics than fantasy or horror.

82leslie.98
Edited: Mar 7, 2:18pm Top

21.   Appointment in Samarra by John O'Hara
format/source=audio/BPL, narrated by Christian Camargo; 251 pages; finished 1/22;
Country: U.S.A. {PA}
Categories: Tortoiseshell (Jan. RandomCAT - book bullets)
Welsh Terrier (BingoDOG square #10 - set during a holiday)

Publisher's blurb says: "One of the great novels of small-town American life, Appointment in Samarra is John O’Hara’s crowning achievement. In December 1930, just before Christmas, the Gibbsville, Pennsylvania, social circuit is electrified with parties and dances. At the center of the social elite stand Julian and Caroline English. But in one rash moment born inside a highball glass, Julian breaks with polite society and begins a rapid descent toward self-destruction.

Brimming with wealth and privilege, jealousy and infidelity, O’Hara’s iconic first novel is an unflinching look at the dark side of the American dream—and a lasting testament to the keen social intelligence if a major American writer."


My thoughts: Julian English remined me of a character in one of the ancient Greek tragedies -- a feeling that was intensified by the fact that the book opens with the Somerset Maugham story about the appointment in Samarra. At first, the variety of characters and points of view were a bit confusing in this audiobook edition but soon I could see how they wove together the many aspects of life during Prohibition in this small city in PA.

One thing that bothered me was that it never seemed really clear why Julian started this downward spiral with throwing his drink into Harry's face. But upon reflection, that murkiness is actually integral to the feeling that Julian is somehow doomed, whether by his innate character or by other factors.

This fits the BingoDOG square "set during a holiday" since the book is about three days in the life Julian English, the 24th, the 25th and the 26th of December 1930. So it is set during the Christmas holiday.

83leslie.98
Edited: Jan 26, 1:39pm Top

22.   Robinson by Muriel Spark
format/source = paperback/MOB; 176 pages; finished 1/24;
Country: an island in the Atlantic (and a little in England)
Categories: Tuxedo (Jan. V & M); Tabby (ROOT)

Publisher's blurb says: "January Marlow, our unsentimental heroine, is one of three survivors out of twenty-nine souls when her plane crashes, blazing, on Robinson's island. Presumed dead for months, the three survivors must wait for the annual return of the pomegranate boat. Robinson, a determined loner, proves a fair if misanthropic host to his uninvited guests; he encourages January to keep a journal.

In Robinson, under the tropical glare and strange fogs of the tiny island, we find a volcano, a ping-pong playing cat, a dealer in occult as well as lucky charms, flying ants, sexual tension, a disappearance, blackmail, and - perhaps - murder."


My thoughts: I like Muriel Spark's books and I was pleased when one of the mountain of books I got from my parents when they moved was this one I had never read (as well as a copy of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie which I had read from the library). I didn't care for this one as much as some of her others as I found it lacked much of the humor in Loitering With Intent (for example). However, now that a few days have passed since I finished it, I find that certain aspects of it are sticking with me more than I expected.

Spark does an excellent job describing how the suspense and fear occasioned by the discovery of Robinson's disappearance & the bloody trail to the mouth of the volcano impacted January Marlowe's perceptions of the people around her and their actions. Marlowe in her journal as well as in her thoughts tried to be rational and logical but her personal feelings about the other people involved couldn't help influencing her.

Another aspect which stands out for me is the religious one. Marlowe, like Spark herself, is a convert to Catholicism. She finds herself at odds with Robinson (and her brother-in-law back in England) who has an extreme aversion to Marianism (which I guess is the worship of the Virgin Mary), and indeed any sort of physical object of worship other than the crucifix, which he regards as superstition. As a result he confiscated Marlowe's rosary while she was unconscious, a fact she discovers later. This feeling impacts another of the survivors, Tom Wells, who sells "lucky charms". The reader is invited to consider whether Catholic ritual is indeed integral to the religion or whether it is just a superstition like Wells' lucky charms (or indeed conversely if the belief in lucky charms might be religious!).

Don't get me wrong, this isn't really a "religious" book and for those not interested in this theme, it is just part of the background to the story.

84leslie.98
Edited: Jan 26, 2:14pm Top

23.     The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas {translator unknown}
format/source=Kindle/Amazon & audio/Hoopla, narrated by Rosalyn Landor; 248 pages; finished 1/25; 4★ (3½* for the book itself)
Country: Holland
Categories: Tabby (ROOT); Turkish Angora (translated)
Tortoiseshell (Jan. ColorCAT - black)

Publisher's blurb says: "Cornelius van Baerle, a respectable tulip-grower, lives only to cultivate the elusive black tulip & win a magnificent prize for its creation. But after his powerful godfather is assassinated, the unwitting Cornelius becomes caught up in deadly political intrigue & is falsely accused of high treason by a bitter rival. Condemned to life imprisonment, his only comfort is Rosa, the jailer's beautiful daughter. Together they concoct a plan to grow the black tulip in secret.

Dumas's last major historical novel is a tale of romantic love, jealousy & obsession, interweaving historical events surrounding the brutal murders of two Dutch statesmen in 1672 with the phenomenon of tulipomania that gripped 17th-century Holland."


My thoughts: A nice blend of historical fiction, romance and adventure - just what I expect from Dumas! The adventure isn't quite up to the level of The Three Musketeers being more intrigue than actual adventure but it was still fun. Rosalyn Landor did a great job narrating.

85leslie.98
Edited: Jan 26, 2:16pm Top

24.   Money From Holme by Michael Innes
format/source = paperback/MOB; 171 pages; finished 1/26; 4
Country: England
Categories: Tuxedo (Jan. V & M); Tabby (ROOT)
Welsh Terrier (BingoDOG #6 - Money in the title)

Publisher's blurb says: "Sebastian Holme was a painter who, as the exhibition catalogue recorded, had met a tragic death during a foreign revolution. Art dealer, Braunkopf, has made a small fortune from the exhibition. Unfortunately, Holme turns up at the private view in this fascinating mystery of the art world in which Mervyn Cheel, distinguished critic and pointillist painter, lands in very hot water."

My thoughts: This is not a mystery at all but it is a 'crime' story. Mervyn Cheel, the protagonist, is a frustrated artist and critic with some slimy aspects to his character (not that he sees himself that way!). He discovers what he believes to be a foolproof way to make money from Sebastian Holme, a much better artist than Cheel. But things don't work out as Cheel anticipated.

Very funny in places, especially the ending! Plus I loved running into Braunkopf, the art dealer, again (he is a few of the Inspector Appleby books) - his fractured English is hilarious (for example, saying Holme was deranged meaning divorced).

86lkernagh
Jan 26, 2:04pm Top

>83 leslie.98: - Oooohhhhh.... a Spark book I have never heard of before! BB!

>84 leslie.98: - Great review. Looks like another BB for me.

87leslie.98
Edited: Jan 28, 12:33pm Top

25.   *The Vagabond by Colette {translator Enid McLeod}
format/source = paperback/MOB; 223 pages; finished 1/20; 4
Country: France
Categories: Himalayan (Guardian); Tuxedo (Jan. V & M); Tabby (ROOT); Turkish Angora (translated)
Welsh Terrier (BingoDOG #16 - unread 2017 purchase)

Publisher's blurb says: "Thirty-three years-old and recently divorced, Renée Néré has begun a new life on her own, supporting herself as a music-hall artist. Maxime, a rich and idle bachelor, intrudes on her independent existence and offers his love and the comforts of marriage. A provincial tour puts distance between them and enables Renée, in a moving series of leters and meditations, to resolve alone the struggle between her need to be loved and her need to have a life and work of her own."

My thoughts: Beautifully written but not at all what I expected. I guess that I was thinking it would be something like Gigi; instead, it is the painfully melancholy story of a woman so wounded by her failed marriage that she is struggling to suppress all emotional attachments.

88leslie.98
Jan 26, 2:31pm Top

>86 lkernagh: I had not heard of Robinson either before I owned it! It is a fairly early book of hers (1954 I think). And if you like Dumas at all, I think you will have fun reading The Black Tulip.

89leslie.98
Edited: Jan 31, 2:03pm Top

26.   *Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett
format/source = paperback/library; 408 pages; finished 1/27; 4
Country: N/A
Categories: Himalayan (Guardian); Tuxedo (Jan. V & M); Wheaten Terrier (SFF Humor)

Publisher's blurb says: "People might say that reality is a quality that things possess in the same way that they possess weight. Sadly alchemists never really held with such a quaint notion. They think that they can change reality, shape it to their own purpose. Imagine then the damage that could be wrought if they get their hands on the ultimate alchemy: The invention of motion pictures, the greatest making illusions. It may be a triumph of universe-shaking proportions. It's either that or they're about to unlock the dark terrible secret of the Holy Wood hills -- by mistake."

My thoughts: This 10th book (in publication order) of the Discworld series was a lot of fun. As a fan of classic movies, I loved all the little parodies of them that occurred throughout the book. The best one may have been the spoof of King Kong when instead of Fay Wray and the giant ape climbing the Empire State building, Pratchett gives us a giant woman and an orangutan (the Librarian) climbing the Tower of Art!

90leslie.98
Edited: Mar 7, 12:22pm Top

27.   Where There's A Will by Rex Stout
format/source = paperback/MOB; 160 pages; finished 1/27;
Country: U.S.A. {NY}
Categories: Tabby (ROOT)

Publisher's blurb says: "In one room of the famous mansion a hysterical woman, with a veil covering her disfigured face, was screaming she knew who murdered her husband.

In a room below another woman, dressed in identical clothes and veil, was quietly discussing provisions of the murdered man's will with his former mistress.

One of the women was an imposter - and one would soon be a corpse!"


My thoughts: This 8th book in the Nero Wolfe series was pretty typical. Although I hadn't read this one before, Wolfe and Archie behaved in the manner that I associate with them in my memory, though there was a little less talk about their meals than usual. Wolfe does briefly leave his brownstone to visit the client's home (a fact which surprised me no less than it did Archie & Fred!). A quick and enjoyable read.

Oh, and although I have shown the cover of my edition, I much prefer this one from Goodreads (the 1950 Avon edition as opposed to my 1966 Avon edition):



Though the veil in the book completely hid the woman's face so it isn't very accurate!

91leslie.98
Jan 28, 1:06pm Top

28.   Very Good, Jeeves! by P.G. Wodehouse {reread via audiobook}
format/source=audio/Hoopla, narrated by Jonathan Cecil; 252 pages; finished 1/28; 4
Country: England
Categories: Tuxedo (Jan. V & M); Siberian Husky (short stories)

Publisher's blurb says: "Whatever the cause of Bertie Wooster's consternation — Bobbie Wickham gives away fierce Aunt Agatha's dog; again in the bad books of Sir Roderick Glossop; Tuppy crushes on robust opera singer — Jeeves can untangle the most ferocious muddle.
Contents:
1 Jeeves and the Impending Doom
2 The Inferiority Complex of Old Sippy
3 Jeeves and the Yule-Tide Spirit
4 Jeeves and the Song of Songs
5 Episode of the Dog McIntosh
6 The Spot of Art
7 Jeeves and the Kid Clementina
8 The Love that Purifies
9 Jeeves and the Old School Chum
10 Indian Summer of an Uncle
11 The Ordeal of Young Tuppy"


My thoughts: I love Jonathan Cecil's narration of Wodehouse books! It has been a long time since I read this collection in paperback but I still remembered some of the stories quite well. However, that doesn't really matter with Wodehouse. I had intended to listen to this slowly, one story a day but found that I couldn't stop listening at just one :)

92leslie.98
Edited: Jan 31, 2:24pm Top

29.   The Pericles Commission by Gary Corby
format/source = Kindle/SAILS; 352 pages; finished 1/29;
Country: ancient Greece
Categories: Tortoiseshell (Jan. RandomCAT - book bullet)

Publisher's blurb says: "Nicolaos walks the mean streets of Classical Athens as an agent for the promising young politician Pericles. His mission is to find the assassin of the statesman Ephialtes, the man who brought democracy to Athens and whose murder has thrown the city into uproar. It's a job not made any easier by the depressingly increasing number of dead witnesses.

But murder and mayhem don't bother Nico; what's really on his mind is how to get closer (much closer) to Diotima, the intelligent and annoyingly virgin priestess of Artemis, and how to shake off his irritating twelve year-old brother Socrates."


My thoughts: A fictional investigation into a historical murder. Corby does a good job showing his reader daily life in 461 B.C. Athens (and I wish that I had discovered the glossary at the end earlier!) and provided enough explanation of the politics at the time (which were a factor in the murder). I also appreciated his Author's Note at the end which explained which parts where historical, which reasonable guesses and which entirely fictional.

One historically accurate bit took me aback -- in this time & culture, if a man died without sons his widow was required to marry the closest possible male relative. If that man happened to be already married, he was required to divorce so as to marry the widow! The divorced wife would be sent back to her family.

One minor complaint is that Nicolaos at times speaks too much as a modern man (referring to shield factories for example, which struck me as anachronistic).

93leslie.98
Edited: Feb 1, 9:48pm Top

30.   Tenant for Death by Cyril Hare {reread}
format/source = paperback/MOB; 206 pages; finished 1/31;
Country: England
Categories: Bichon Frisee (catchall)

Publisher's blurb says: "Two young estate agent's clerks are sent to check an inventory on a house in Daylesford Gardens, South Kensington. Upon arrival, they find an unlisted item - a corpse. Furthermore, the mysterious tenant, Colin James, has disappeared.

In a tale which uncovers many of the seedier aspects of the world of high finance, Hare also introduces his readers to the formidable Inspector Mallett of Scotland Yard."


My thoughts: I found that, although it has been a long time since I read this (10 years or more), I recalled it in great detail. Even so, it was a pleasure to follow Inspector Mallett's progress as he unravels the mystery. I look forward to my journey through the rest of the Cyril Hare books on my shelf!

94leslie.98
Edited: Aug 31, 10:25pm Top

January summary:
30 books read, 17 of them ROOTs. 37 (!!) new books obtained (list below; crossed out books have already been read) so I am already in a hole regarding my goal to read more books than I acquire!

I made good progress on most of my chosen challenges & goals:
6 books from the Guardian's list
12 books for BingoDOG (though no BINGO yet)
6 books translated from another language
2 Nero Wolfe mysteries & one Cyril Hare
book #5 in Proust's In Search of Lost Time series

Best book of the month? No 5* books for me but *Martin Eden by Jack London was a solid 4½★

New books obtained: (all Kindle editions unless otherwise noted)
The Abbey Court Murder
Twist of Faith (January Kindle First freebie)
Zeno's Conscience
Dragonflight (Kindle edition, I already own the paperback)
The Murder at Sissingham Hall (freebie)
The Puzzle of the Silver Persian
Arrest the Bishop? (freebie)
The Chalk Circle Man
That Day the Rabbi Left Town
Innocent Bystander
The Lucky Stiff
The Clue (Project Gutenberg)
Scout's Progress
I Dare
The Great Hunt (audiobook)
The Power House
(Project Gutenberg Australia)
The Blessing Way

Dr. Thorndyke Mysteries: all free from Feedbooks.com except where noted
John Thorndyke's Cases (Project Gutenberg)
The Mystery of 31 New Inn (Project Gutenberg)
The Singing Bone
A Silent Witness
The Great Portrait Mystery (free on Amazon)
Helen Vardon's Confession
The Cat's Eye

The Shadow of the Wolf
The D'Arblay Mystery
A Certain Dr Thorndyke
As a Thief in the Night
Mr Pottermack's Oversight
Pontifex Son and Thorndyke
When Rogues Fall Out
For the Defence, Dr. Thorndyke
The Penrose Mystery
Felo de Se
The Stoneware Monkey
Mr Polton Explains
The Jacob Street Mystery

February reading plans

I will continue (and hopefully finish up) what I am currently reading: *Infinite Jest, *Manon Lescaut and *The French Lieutenant's Woman ...

I hope to read the following mysteries:
John Thorndyke's Cases
Black Orchids
Jester Leaps In
Death Is No Sportsman
The Preacher (maybe)

Pharaoh's Son (maybe)
Just Add Salt (maybe)

and these other fiction books:
Psmith in the City {audiobook}
Juba!: A Novel {audiobook}
Norse Mythology {audiobook}
*The Sweet Cheat Gone (aka The Fugitive)
Moonlight and Vines
The Power House

*If on a Winter's Night
*The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas (maybe)
The Photograph (maybe)

and maybe something sci fi or fantasy to be decided later

95christina_reads
Feb 2, 4:53pm Top

>93 leslie.98: I really want to read some more Cyril Hare! I liked An English Murder a lot.

96leslie.98
Edited: Feb 2, 6:43pm Top

>95 christina_reads: I had a few of his books picked up at second-hand shops over the years but in no sort of order. Then when my parents moved, I got most of the rest. So I have decided this is the year to read them! An English Murder is one of the few that I don't own in paperback but I read it a few years ago from the library -- a good holiday mystery (though you can't tell it from the title!).

97christina_reads
Feb 2, 6:43pm Top

>96 leslie.98: I definitely enjoyed reading it at Christmas a couple years ago!

98rabbitprincess
Feb 2, 6:58pm Top

Great January! Have fun with your February plans.

99leslie.98
Feb 3, 1:27pm Top

100lkernagh
Feb 3, 6:37pm Top

>94 leslie.98: - 30 books read, 17 of them ROOTs.

Way to go!

101leslie.98
Feb 3, 9:49pm Top

Thanks >100 lkernagh:! Fingers crossed that the rest of the year is as good :)

102leslie.98
Feb 4, 4:25pm Top

31.   Memento Mori by Muriel Spark
format/source=audio/Hoopla, narrated by Nadia May; 228 pages; finished 2/1; 3
Country: England
Categories: Tuxedo (Jan. V & M)
Tortoiseshell (Feb. ColorCAT - brown)

Publisher's blurb says: "Elderly Lettie Colston receives an anonymous phone call reminding her that she must die. Soon ten of Lettie's friends also get the call. A bizarre investigation reveals a network of deception that binds together the group of aging eccentrics."

My thoughts: I found this somewhat reminiscent of Spark's The Driver's Seat in that my predominant feeling was the plot is mysterious and bizarre. It was interesting to see how the various characters react to the "memento mori" call. And as my parents are of the age of these characters, I could see aspects of them and their friends in the differing physical and emotional responses to the aging process.

However, the implication made by both the author and certain characters as to the source of these phone calls (that the calls were coming from Death itself) I found profoundly unsatisfying.

Nadia May did an excellect job with the narration.

103leslie.98
Edited: Feb 4, 4:39pm Top

32.    *Manon Lescaut by Abbé Prévost {translator unknown}
format/source=Kindle/Amazon & audio/LibriVox, narrated by Mary Bard; 192 pages; finished 2/2; 2★ (1½* for the book itself)
Country: France (mostly)
Categories: Himalayan (Guardian); Tabby (ROOT); Turkish Angora (translated)

Publisher's blurb says: "Published in 1731, Manon Lescaut (on which the Puccini opera is based) takes as its themes passionate, tragic love, and redemption through suffering. It is the story of the Chevalier des Grieux, a student, who sees Manon as she is being taken to a convent, and instantly falls in love with her. He offers to save her from the convent, and the two young lovers run away to Paris. There follow many adventures and tribulations, throughout which the Chevalier remains steadfastly loyal to his love. (Summary by Mary Bard)"

My thoughts: A more complete review will come in time but here are some thoughts I have upon finishing this French classic. I disliked the main character and also the manner in which the story is related. He is forever talking in extremes - stuff like "I was the most wretched creature that ever existed". Despite all his attention to Manon and talk about her beauty and virtues, I never got any feeling for her character; all the reader gets is how the Chevalier sees her. Possibly a more modern translation would help but I doubt it!

Mary Bard does a decent narration, though a tad slow for my tastes.

104leslie.98
Edited: Feb 4, 5:17pm Top

33.   Black Orchids by Rex Stout
format/source = audiobook/BPL, narrated by Michael Pritchard; 192 pages; finished 2/3; 3
Country: U.S.A.
Categories: Bichon Frisee (catchall)

Publisher's blurb says: "Not much can get Wolfe to leave his comfortable brownstone, but the showing of a rare black orchid lures him to a flower show. Unfortunately, the much-anticipated event is soon overshadowed by a murder as daring as it is sudden. It’s a case of weeding out a cunning killer who can turn up anywhere—and Wolfe must do it quickly. Because a second case awaits his urgent attention: a society widow on a mailing list of poison-pen letters leading to a plot as dark as any orchid Wolfe has ever encountered."

My thoughts: This 9th entry in the Nero Wolfe series is actually 2 separate (but connected) novellas: Black Orchids and Cordially Invited to Meet Death. The paperback cover of this one is so familiar to me that I thought I must have read it at some point (even though this is one of the books missing from my Stout collection). But these 2 novellas were both new to me!

In Black Orchids, we learn how Wolfe managed to obtain these rare flowers for his collection (it is his fee!). The murder case has some interesting twists & an unexpectedly macabre ending. 4*

Despite the publisher's blurb, Cordially Invited to Meet Death occurs after a long time has passed. The connection to the first story is tenuous but it is there. The woman who hires Wolfe is an event planner (not a society widow!) whose clients have been getting poison pen letters which all say that she (the party planner) is the source of the information. Regardless of whether the information is true or false, the idea that she is indiscreet would drive away most of her business. A good solid entry in the Wolfe series. 3*

Now a word about the audiobook. Michael Pritchard does a good narration -- not the best I have ever heard, but I have no problems with it. However, this edition of the audiobook had some technical flaws (well, annoyances more than actual flaws). The most irritating one was that there were often long pauses at the end of a section (20-30 seconds) - long enough that I would think that the app had crashed and have to fumble with my phone while driving to see if I needed to restart it. Eventually I figured out that I just had to wait but until I did, it was very annoying! Secondly, this digital audiobook was copied from audio cassettes and the publisher hadn't bothered to edit out the "This is the end of tape 1, please insert tape 2 to continue this audiobook"-type comments. While I would prefer not to have these, I would rather have them than no digital audiobook at all. But these issues made my ultimate rating lower than it would have been.

105leslie.98
Edited: Feb 6, 6:43pm Top

and more from Hawthorne's Twice Told Tales (post 42 gives January's selections)...

4. e.   contained in  The Prophetic Pictures by Nathaniel Hawthorne
format/source=Kindle/Project Gutenberg; 41 pages; finished 2/4; 3
Country: U.S.A.
Categories: Tuxedo (Feb. P & J); Tabby (ROOT); Siberian Husky (short stories)

Publisher's blurb says: "The Prophetic Pictures is one of the best-known short stories by the American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864). It was first published in 1837."

My thoughts: I found this story most interesting in concept but it didn't capture my imagination in practice. 3*

4. f. "Peter Goldthwaite's Treasure" (2/5), 4*

Despite my distaste for Hawthorne's literary style, I found this allegory quite amusing while providing plenty of food for thought.

106leslie.98
Edited: Feb 9, 4:00pm Top

34.   *The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles
format/source = paperback/library; 468 pages; finished 2/6; 4
Country: mostly England
Categories: Himalayan (Guardian); Tuxedo (Feb. P & J); Havana Brown (book-to-movie)

Publisher's blurb says: "The scene is the village of Lyme Regis on Dorset's Lyme Bay..."the largest bite from the underside of England's out-stretched southwestern leg." The major characters in the love-intrigue triangle are Charles Smithson, 32, a gentleman of independent means & vaguely scientific bent; his fiancée, Ernestina Freeman, a pretty heiress daughter of a wealthy & pompous dry goods merchant; & Sarah Woodruff, mysterious & fascinating...deserted after a brief affair with a French naval officer a short time before the story begins. Obsessed with an irresistible fascination for the enigmatic Sarah, Charles is hurtled by a moment of consummated lust to the brink of the existential void. Duty dictates that his engagement to Tina must be broken as he goes forth once again to seek the woman who has captured his Victorian soul & gentleman's heart."

My thoughts: I don't know what to say about this... My interest was immediately engaged and I found Fowles' commentary on the story and characters along the way interesting but by the end of the book, I discovered that I didn't understand the character of Sarah Woodruff at all! I also thought that the dual ending was unsatisfying.

107leslie.98
Edited: Feb 9, 4:02pm Top

35.   Borrower of the Night by Elizabeth Peters
format/source=audio/Hoopla, narrated by Susan O'Malley; 240 pages; finished 2/7;
Country: mostly Germany
Categories: Tuxedo (Feb. P & J)
Tortoiseshell (Feb. MysteryCAT - female sleuths) & (Feb. ColorCAT: brown)

Publisher's blurb says: "It begins as a game, a treasure hunt in an old German castle, For Vicky Bliss -- tall, beautiful, and brilliant -- it is also a challenge, a chance to bring an arrogant young man down a notch or two. And all things considered, it will be no contest. The prize is a centuries-old shrine, carved by Tilman Riemenschneider, probably Germany's greatest master of the late Gothic. The place is the forbidding Schloss Drachenstein, where the stones are stained with ancient blood and the air reeks of evil.The problem is that someone has targeted Vicky, and the game is soon being played in deadly earnest..."

My thoughts: Susan O'Malley did a good job with the narration but I found Vicky Bliss fairly annoying, especially in her manner of interacting with her colleague Tony (who was even more irritating!).

Now that I look at this post, I see that maybe this cover could work for this month's ColorCAT as it is pretty brown!

108leslie.98
Feb 9, 3:39pm Top

36.   The Penguin Pool Murder by Stuart Palmer
format/source = Kindle/Amazon; 160 pages; finished 2/8;
Country: U.S.A. {NY}
Categories: Tuxedo (Feb. P & J); Tabby (ROOT); Havana Brown (book-to-movie)
Tortoiseshell (Feb. MysteryCAT - female sleuths)

Publisher's blurb says: "For the third graders at Jefferson School, a field trip is always a treat. But one day at the New York Aquarium, they get much more excitement than they bargained for. A pickpocket sprints past, stolen purse in hand, and is making his way to the exit when their teacher, the prim Hildegarde Withers, knocks him down with her umbrella. By the time the police and the security guards finish arguing about what to do with Chicago Lew, he has escaped, and Miss Withers has found something far more interesting: a murdered stockbroker floating in the penguin tank.

With the help of Detective Oscar Piper, this no-nonsense spinster embarks on her first of many adventures. The mystery is baffling, the killer dangerous, but for a woman who can control a gaggle of noisy third graders, murder isn’t frightening at all."


My thoughts: A fun Golden Age mystery, the first in the Hildegarde Withers series, even if I did figure it out about halfway through. Of course, I may have subconsciously recalled the solution from the 1932 film version with Edna May Oliver! And as a treat for myself, I rewatched the film once I finished the book; I was surprised by how much of the dialogue was straight from the book (though the movie condensed the second half of the book quite a bit).

109leslie.98
Edited: Feb 9, 4:06pm Top

37.   Juba! by Walter Dean Myers
format/source=audio/SYNC, narrated by Brandon Gill; 240 pages; finished 2/9;
Country: U.S.A. & England
Categories: Tuxedo (Feb. P & J); Tabby (ROOT)
Welsh Terrier (BingoDOG #1 - famous person in title)

Publisher's blurb says: "In New York Times bestselling author Walter Dean Myers's last novel, he delivers a gripping story based on the life of a real dancer known as Master Juba, who lived in the nineteenth century.

This engaging historical novel is based on the true story of the meteoric rise of an immensely talented young black dancer, William Henry Lane, who influenced today's tap, jazz, and step dancing. With meticulous and intensive research, Walter Dean Myers has brought to life Juba's story."


My thoughts: Interesting life of "Boz's Juba" (William Henry Lane), a young black dancer who, in the 1840s, helped to create tap dancing by blending Irish jigs & reels with African rhythms. A good book with which to celebrate Black History Month!

Brandon Gill does a decent narration, though at times when he was doing English voices, his accent wavered.

110leslie.98
Edited: Feb 9, 4:06pm Top

38.   John Thorndyke's Cases by R. Austin Freeman
format/source = Kindle/Project Gutenberg; 222 pages; finished 2/9; 4
Country: England
Categories: Tuxedo (Feb. P & J); Siberian Husky (short stories)

Publisher's blurb says: "In this intriguing collection of detective stories, Richard Austin Freeman presents yet another batch of entertaining, clever mysteries to tempt and tease the curious mind. From robbery and murder to mayhem, Freeman takes the reader through a myriad of beguiling scenarios and asks whodunit, with the aid of the erudite Dr Thorndyke."

My thoughts: Good set of forensic mystery stories. I also liked the fact that this was illustrated, which allowed the reader to see some of the samples Thorndyke used in proving his cases!

111christina_reads
Feb 9, 6:03pm Top

>108 leslie.98: That looks like fun -- BB taken!

112cmbohn
Feb 9, 8:11pm Top

I'm intrigued enough by the penguin pool to see if my libray has any Stuart Palmer books.

113leslie.98
Feb 9, 9:23pm Top

>111 christina_reads: & >112 cmbohn: - If you can't find the book, the 1932 film is on YouTube.

114leslie.98
Edited: Feb 11, 12:02pm Top

39.   Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
format/source=audio/SAILS, narrated by Neil Gaiman; 304 pages; finished 2/10; 3
Country: Scandinavia
Categories: Siberian Husky (short stories); Turkish Angora (translated)??

Publisher's blurb says: "Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales. In Norse Mythology, Gaiman fashions primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds; delves into the exploits of the deities, dwarves, and giants; and culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and the rebirth of a new time and people. Gaiman stays true to the myths while vividly reincarnating Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin's son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki, the son of a giant, a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator. From Gaiman's deft and witty prose emerges the gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to dupe others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again."

My thoughts:

Before listening to this audiobook, I actually knew very little of Norse mythology - basically just the names of Thor & Odin & Valhalla. I learned a lot but in retrospect, because my background knowledge was so sparse, it would have been better for me if I had read a print edition. It would have been easier to flip back and check on who was who and how related. I did end up listening to the first section more than once!

Neil Gaiman's narration was okay but the timbre of his voice tended to lull me to sleep.

115leslie.98
Edited: Feb 11, 12:08pm Top

40.   Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes {reread via audiobook}
format/source=audio/library, narrated by Grace Conlin; finished 2/11; 269 pages; 4
Country: Mass. Bay colony
Categories: Tuxedo (Feb. P & J); Havana Brown (book-to-movie)
Tortoiseshell (Feb. RandomCAT - local holidays)

Publisher's blurb says: "A story filled with danger and excitement, Johnny Tremain tells of the turbulent, passionate times in Boston just before the Revolutionary War.

Johnny, a young apprentice silversmith, is caught up with Otis, Hancock, and John and Samuel Adams in the exciting and dramatic operations and subterfuges leading up to the Boston Tea Party and the Battle of Lexington. As Johnny is forced into the role of a full-grown man in the face of his new country's independence, he finds that his relations with those he loves change for the better as well.

Winner of the Newbery Medal in 1943, the year of its publication, Johnny Tremain is historical fiction at its best, portraying Revolutionary Boston as a living drama, through the shrewd eyes of an observant boy."


My thoughts:

Perhaps this doesn't really deserve 4 stars but because it deals with events that occurred near my home town, it has a special impact for me. Patriots' Day (now sadly no longer on April 19th but on the nearest Monday) is still a state holiday here in Massachusetts and the battles of Lexington ("the shot heard round the world") and Concord are reenacted yearly. I was surprised in this reread that Paul Revere was such a minor character in the book as I remembered him as more prominent.

Grace Conlin does a good narration. I was a bit worried about having a female narrator of a story told almost entirely from a boy's point of view, but once I got started, it wasn't a problem.

116DeltaQueen50
Feb 11, 8:02pm Top

I remember very little about Johnny Tremain except that I know that I loved it when I read it when I was young. I'm happy that it is still available for today's audience.

117leslie.98
Feb 14, 12:41pm Top

>116 DeltaQueen50: I really only remembered the setting and the incident where Johnny maims his hand. That was traumatizing to me as a child and almost as bad this time as an adult! It is nice to see some of the older children's books haven't disappeared, isn't it?

118leslie.98
Edited: Feb 14, 1:17pm Top

41.     Psmith in the City by P.G. Wodehouse
format/source=Kindle/Project Gutenberg & audio/Audible, narrated by Jonathan Cecil ; finished 2/11; 158 pages; 4
Country: England
Categories: Tuxedo (Feb. P & J); Tabby (ROOT)

Publisher's blurb says: "Psmith and his friend Mike are sent by their fathers to work in the City. But work is the last thing on Psmith's mind; surely there are more interesting things to do with the day than spend it in a bank? Unfortunately the natives aren't conducive to his socialising within work hours, but all's fair in love and work as the monocled Old Etonian, with a little grudging help from Mike, begins to rope in allies in order to reform the bank manager and make him A Decent Member of Society. And if all else fails, there's always blackmail."

My thoughts: I was glad to find that Mike Jackson was still with Psmith in this. And I must have absorbed some cricket terminology during the first book in the series as I immediately recognized "lbw" as leg before wicket (whatever that is, I know it's some sort of out or foul)!

Psmith is much funnier in this second book in the series; the way he needled the head of the bank "Comrade Bickersdyke" was priceless.

Jonathan Cecil was again excellent in his narration and I am glad that I decided to purchase the audiobook even though I already had the Kindle edition.

119leslie.98
Edited: Feb 14, 1:19pm Top

42.   *Tom Brown's Schooldays by Thomas Hughes (illustrated by Louis Rhead)
format/source = Kindle/Project Gutenberg; 420 pages; finished 2/13;
Country: England
Categories: Himalayan (Guardian's list); Tabby (ROOT)
Tortoiseshell (Feb. ColorCAT - brown)

Publisher's blurb says: "One of the classics of English children's literature, and one of the earliest books written specifically for boys, this novel's steady popularity has given it an influence well beyond the upper middle-class world that it describes. It tells a story central to an understanding of Victorian life, but its freshness helps to distinguish it from the narrow schoolboy adventures that it later inspired."

My thoughts: This book struck me as being the boys' version of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women - the same mixture of stories of childhood events and moralizing. Not being a boy nor from England, this one didn't make the same connection with me that Alcott's classic did.

I was spurred to read this by the references to it in Flashman, which I read (and hugely enjoyed) last year. It was interesting to see how Hughes portrayed Flashman, who was much more prominent in this book than I had expected. Fraser did a great job taking such a cowardly bully & sneak and, without making him a different person, making him the 'hero'. That interest & the lovely illustrations by Rhead made me give this an extra ½ star.

120leslie.98
Edited: Mar 7, 12:26pm Top

43.   Jester Leaps In by Alan Gordon
format/source = Kindle/Dad's Kindle; 291 pages; finished 2/14;
Country: 13th century Constantinople
Categories: Tuxedo (Feb. P & J); Tabby (ROOT)

Publisher's blurb says: "It takes a fool to know a fool-or find one. So it befalls the member-in-good-standing of the Fool's Guild, Theophilos, to travel the Adriatic coast in the company of a duchess dressed as a man and acting the fool's apprentice. Their mission is to find out why six good fools have vanished in Constantinople. Amidst the whispers of spies, and the calumny of traitors, the plotting of assassins, and the ribaldry of dwarves, Constantinople is the gleaming center of a world brimming with war. Like all true fools, Theophilos seeks to bring sanity to this world. But with his beautiful wife - disguised as his apprentice - by his side, he cannot guess how Byzantine the danger is, or why, in a city that is the apple of the Crusader's eye, fools are the first to die..."

My thoughts: I had forgotten how much I enjoy these Fools' Guild mysteries! This second one doesn't have a Shakespearean background as do some of the others (such as the first one, Thirteenth Night, which uses the play Twelfth Night as a background), and I missed the humor that provided. However, the thirteenth century Constantinople setting was excellent.

This book was one of many that were on my father's Kindle, which I took over after his death last summer. I am undecided as to whether these now count as ROOTs for me or if I should continue to think of them as borrowed... Any opinions about this are welcome.

121leslie.98
Feb 17, 12:08pm Top

44.   Death in High Provence by George Bellairs
format/source = Kindle/Amazon Prime lending library; 296 pages; finished 2/15;
Country: France
Categories: Tuxedo (Feb. P & J)

Publisher's blurb says: "Against the background of fascinating Provence, a fantastic case is solved. Chief Inspector Littlejohn is sent to France to make informal enquiries about a motor accident. But his job is not easy, for he finds himself amongst the sombre, secretive inhabitants of St. Marcellin, a dying French village in the mountains of High Provence. Dominated by the aristocratic Monsieur le Marquis, the village obstructs his every move. But they had under-estimated the kindly, courteous Littlejohn."

My thoughts: This was my first experience with this series -- I picked this book up as my monthly free Kindle book to borrow through the Amazon Prime lending library. After I had borrowed it, I realized that it was #27 in the series!! In the end, though, it didn't matter much that I hadn't read any of the previous books. There were a few references to former cases but knowledge of them wasn't required.

I liked Inspector Littlejohn and his wife & the Provence setting was well described. The unofficial case he had been asked to look into was intriguing and I liked the fact that at the end, the author gives us information about the fate of the guilty, something that often gets overlooked.

122leslie.98
Edited: Feb 21, 3:43pm Top

45.   The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
format/source=audio/Audible, narrated by Kate Reading & Michael Kramer; finished 2/17; 782 pages; 4
Country: N/A
Categories: Tuxedo (Feb. P & J); Tabby (ROOT)
Welsh Terrier (BingoDOG #24 - story involves travel)
Wheaten Terrier (Epic Fantasy)

Publisher's blurb says: "The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

When The Two Rivers is attacked by Trollocs—a savage tribe of half-men, half-beasts— five villagers flee that night into a world they barely imagined, with new dangers waiting in the shadows and in the light."


My thoughts: At first, I had a little trouble with the unfamiliar words because I wasn't seeing them written, just hearing them. But once I got a few chapters into the story, I loved it! It is a little bit derivative of The Lord of the Rings (e.g. warders are like the Rangers & Aes Sedai are like female wizards), but since I love that trilogy that wasn't a problem for me. So glad that I bought the second book in January :)

Both Kate Reading & Michael Kramer were excellent narrators.

123VivienneR
Feb 21, 2:30pm Top

Glad you liked George Bellairs. I have Death of a Busybody that I believe is the first in the series. Looking forward to it now.

124leslie.98
Edited: Feb 21, 2:40pm Top

>123 VivienneR: I think that the first one is called Littlejohn on Leave. But I see, looking at the series info, that yours is #3 so still an early one (especially compared to my starting with #27!).

125leslie.98
Edited: Feb 21, 3:47pm Top

46.   Plum Pie by P.G. Wodehouse
format/source = hardcover/library; 252 pages; finished 2/17;
Country: England (mostly)
Categories: Tuxedo (Feb. P & J); Siberian Husky (Short Stories)

Publisher's blurb says: "
	Pelham Grenville Wodehouse -- 
known to his friends as Plum!
No funnier writer has ever lived
- nor will in the eons to come.
His every story herein is a glory;
he beautifully interweaves
Freddy Threepwood, Bingo Little,
"The Oldest Member" and Jeeves,
and the dear old dears from Blandings Castle
and the young blighters from Drones,
and machinations and muffins at tea,
and lovers' intrigues and scones.
Oh bliss! This is manna -- this Wodehousiana --
new, fresh, delicious! In sum,
you may well decry our calling it Pie,
but you've certainly pulled out a
Plum!
"


My thoughts: This collection of short stories from the mid-1960s (most of which were first published in Playboy magazine!) indeed has at least one short story from all of Wodehouse's continuing characters (including Mr. Mulliner, whom the publishers seem to have overlooked) except Psmith. I enjoyed them all! One thing I noticed (and appreciated) is that his characters haven't aged. Bingo Little & Bertie & Freddy Threepwood are still all young men (well, Bingo & Freddie are married so maybe they are 30 instead of 25) despite the fact that Wodehouse had created them 40-odd years before. It would have been so depressing in "Bingo Bans the Bomb", for instance, to find Bingo Little middle-aged and (gasp) responsible.

126leslie.98
Edited: Feb 21, 3:18pm Top

47.   Not Quite Dead Enough by Rex Stout
format/source = paperback/MOB; 158 pages; finished 2/18; 3
Country: U.S.A. {NY}
Categories: Tabby (ROOT)

Publisher's blurb says: "Called upon to investigate a sinister "accident" involving national security, Nero Wolfe must set the traps that will catch the pair of wily killers responsible."

My thoughts: That 'blurb' is terrible! First of all, this book is another entry in the Nero Wolfe series which is actually two novellas rather than a single novel. Secondly, only one of the two novellas is described by the above.

In both, Archie is now in the military (WW2). In the first, "Not Quite Dead Enough", Archie is taken from his normal military duties and assigned to the task of getting Wolfe to agree to take a case for the army. Lily Rowan is chasing Archie and inadvertently provides Archie with the lever he needs to complete his assignment.

In "Boobytrap", Archie is now permanently assigned to Wolfe and Wolfe is regularly consulted by the military. This is the one with the "sinister accident" described in the blurb.

127leslie.98
Edited: Feb 21, 4:03pm Top

48.   One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
format/source = hardcover/library; 368 pages; finished 2/20;
Country: England (and a bit in Scotland)
Categories: Tuxedo (Feb. P & J)
Welsh Terrier (BingoDOG square #14 - Number in the title)

Publisher's blurb says: "One single mom. One chaotic family. One quirky stranger. One irresistible love story from the New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You.

Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight-in-shining-armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages... maybe ever."


My thoughts: A charming contemporary romance. This is a heart-warming story with a feel good ending that I relished reading. However, as much as I enjoyed it, I predict that it will be like Chinese food -- quickly digested and leaving me craving something more substantial.

128LittleTaiko
Feb 21, 5:50pm Top

>127 leslie.98: - That pretty much sums up how I feel about her books - I typically really enjoy them, but a steady diet of them would be a bit much. Hope you find something substantial in your next read.

129leslie.98
Edited: Feb 22, 6:23pm Top

>128 LittleTaiko: Thanks -- it is nice to read something fun and nondemanding once in a while but as you say, a steady diet of them would be a bit much. Not that the mysteries I read are much more demanding! To continue with the food analogies, One Plus One was like a sweet dessert while my mysteries are more like potato chips -- neither makes for a balanced diet. LOL!

I have 2 more substantial books in progress at the moment (Infinite Jest and a Proust) so I am all set on that front.

130-Eva-
Feb 22, 6:48pm Top

Holy moly, 48 books already this year - well done!!

>67 leslie.98:
I love those characters, but this was my least favorite installment in the series. It just had such a scattered story-line(s) that I ended up not really bothered. The next books are back on track, though.

>89 leslie.98:
I had a good laugh at the librarian scene as well! :)

131leslie.98
Feb 22, 8:17pm Top

>130 -Eva-: Thanks for the info about the Dept. Q series -- I was ready to give up on it but now I will give the next one a try. And Terry Pratchett is always good for a laugh, I have found :)

132mathgirl40
Feb 22, 10:11pm Top

>122 leslie.98: I like Kate Reading and Michael Kramer as narrators too. I'm currently listening to their performance of Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson.

133leslie.98
Feb 23, 11:15am Top

>132 mathgirl40: I didn't know that they were a team for other authors. Interesting.

134leslie.98
Edited: Feb 24, 8:30pm Top

49.   Moonlight and Vines by Charles de Lint
format/source=hardcover/library; 384 pages; finished 2/22; 3
Country: U.S.A. or Canada (unspecified)
Categories: Siberian Husky (Short Stories)
Wheaten Terrier (Urban Fantasy); Tortoiseshell (Feb. SFFKit - Urban Fantasy)

Publisher's blurb says: "Imagine a city--cold, hard, concrete jungle on the surface, but, down that dark alley or disused cemetery, magic has begun to unravel the gray fabric of realism. Charles de Lint succumbs to his fascination with the outsider in all of us, and writes of lonesome goth kids, newbie lesbians, strippers, Gypsies, angels of death and mercy, and even vampires and ghosts in a style that is remarkably refreshing after so much sword-and-bodice formula fantasy. Moonlight and Vines is a medley of fairy tales for the alternative crowd, with most of his city grrrls and boys sporting combat boots and wounded souls. De Lint crafts his stories with soft edges but indelible images."

My thoughts: For some reason, I didn't much care for this collection of short stories which was disappointing as I have loved some of the other Newford collections (such as Dreams Underfoot, the first one). I guess that I found them all a bit too similar to each other in the gritty & bleak lives of the main characters even though the magic bits were varied. Oh well, I am not giving up on the series but I hope that the next one I read I like better...

135leslie.98
Feb 24, 8:03pm Top

50.   *A Judgement in Stone by Ruth Rendell
format/source = Kindle/library; 209 pages; finished 2/23; 4
Country: England
Categories: Himalayan (Guardian's list); Tuxedo (Feb. P & J)

Publisher's blurb says: "What on earth could have provoked a modern day St. Valentine's Day massacre?

On Valentine's Day, four members of the Coverdale family--George, Jacqueline, Melinda and Giles--were murdered in the space of 15 minutes. Their housekeeper, Eunice Parchman, shot them, one by one, in the blue light of a televised performance of Don Giovanni. When Detective Chief Superintendent William Vetch arrests Miss Parchman two weeks later, he discovers a second tragedy: the key to the Valentine's Day massacre hidden within a private humiliation Eunice Parchman has guarded all her life. A brilliant rendering of character, motive, and the heady discovery of truth, A Judgement in Stone is among Ruth Rendell's finest psychological thrillers."


My thoughts: This book wasn't the type of crime novel I generally read; it isn't a mystery or a thriller or even very suspenseful. You learn who the killer is in the very first sentence and what her motive was. And yet, Rendell managed to hold my interest the entire book.

I did find some of Rendell's statements about the illiterate bothersome. These things may be true for some illiterate people (obviously she has made them true about her character Eunice Parchman) but I doubt that they are true for all of them.

136leslie.98
Edited: Mar 2, 9:40pm Top

51.   Pennies for Hitler by Jackie French
format/source=audio/SYNC, narrated by Humphrey Bower; finished 2/23; 285 pages; 4
Country: Germany, England, Australia
Categories: Tuxedo (Feb. P & J); Tabby (ROOT)

Publisher's blurb says: "It′s 1939, and for Georg, son of an English academic living in Germany, life is full of cream cakes and loving parents. It is also a time when his teacher measures the pupils′ heads to see which of them have the most ′Aryan′- shaped heads. But when a university graduation ceremony turns into a pro-Nazi demonstration, Georg is smuggled out of Germany to war-torn London and then across enemy seas to Australia where he must forget his past and who he is in order to survive.

Hatred is contagious, but Georg finds that kindness can be, too."


My thoughts: I think that this YA novel would probably be more effective on its target audience of adolescents than it was for me. Even so, French did a good job showing how Nazi propaganda had affected 10-year-old Georg and the slow process of changing his viewpoint occurred. At first I thought that the boy was too old for his naive belief that his father was still alive somewhere in Germany, when he had seen him murdered. but slowly I came to the realization that Georg (now called George) was hiding from the pain of the truth rather than stupid or naive.

137leslie.98
Edited: Feb 24, 8:34pm Top

52.     *The Sweet Cheat Gone by Marcel Proust (translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff)
format/source=Kindle/Feedbooks.com & audio/BPL, narrated by Neville Jason; 284 pages; finished 2/23; 4
Country: France
Categories: Himalayan (Guardian); Tuxedo (Feb. P & J); Tabby (ROOT); Turkish Angora (translated)

Publisher's blurb says: "Albertine has finally escaped her 'imprisonment' from Marcel's Paris apartment... Not only is Marcel quite unprepared for the effect her flight has on him, but also soon he is devastated by news of an even more irreversible loss."

My thoughts: I found this penultimate volume of Proust's series the fastest moving one yet. There is some musing and philosophizing by Marcel, as always, but there are also several exciting and/or surprising events.

138leslie.98
Edited: Mar 1, 12:12pm Top

53.   Death is No Sportsman by Cyril Hare
format/source = paperback/Amazon; 234 pages; finished 2/24; 4
Country: England
Categories: Bichon Frisee (catchall)

Publisher's blurb says: "Death is No Sportsman (1938) was the second crime novel by 'Cyril Hare', nom de plume of Alfred Gordon Clark and one of the best-loved names in English 'Golden Age' crime writing.

The banks of the river Didder in the summertime appear idyllic: the sun is shining, the trout rising. But when the body of a local landowner is discovered, the peace of the countryside is shattered. It soon becomes apparent that quite a few local people disliked the deceased. Inspector Mallett is brought in from Scotland Yard to find the killer; and, though quick to disentangle the complex relationships linking suspects and victim, Mallett must master the subtleties of fly-fishing in order to uncover the incriminating evidence he seeks."


My thoughts: While I figured out a few aspects of the case early on, the actual solution was a surprise since my 'deductions' (really guesses) turned out to be misleading!

I am glad that there was a map of the area at the beginning of the book, as I referred to it several times while reading. Also, it was nice that Inspector Mallett, being a Londoner, needed to have some aspects of fly fishing explained to him so that I the reader could learn them too.

139leslie.98
Feb 24, 8:46pm Top

54.     John Bull's Other Island by George Bernard Shaw (ℕ)
format/source=Kindle/Amazon, contained in the omnibus shown above; finished 2/24; 108 pages;
Country: mostly Ireland
Categories: Tuxedo (Feb. P & J); Tabby (ROOT); Siberian Husky (play)
Welsh Terrier (BingoDOG #22 - play/poetry)

Publisher's blurb says: "Can you ever really go home again? What if you bring a friend and he is welcomed like a favorite son?

In this comedy by the masterful George Bernard Shaw, Larry Doyle is a successful engineer in London who returns to his birthplace in Ireland for a business deal. His partner, Tom Broadbent, has romantic notions of the Emerald Isle and is eager to come along. Broadbent cuts a swathe through the small town, charming nearly everyone he meets including Doyle s sweetheart. John Bull's Other Island was first produced in 1904, and is the sole play by Shaw to be set in his homeland of Ireland. Shaw s incisive humor shines throughout, making this a most satisfying read."


My thoughts: This pre-WW1 play about the Anglo-Irish relationship is less dated than some of Shaw's other plays, perhaps because the situation it portrays lasted for so long. While there were some funny scenes, overall it struck me as a bitter play. Perhaps I would like it more if I could see a performance or at least hear a full cast audiobook edition.

140DeltaQueen50
Feb 27, 5:32pm Top

I remember A Judgement in Stone as one of Ruth Rendell's best. Of course, it's been years since I read it and some of it may be dated . This may be one that I revisit in the future.

141leslie.98
Feb 27, 8:06pm Top

>140 DeltaQueen50: It didn't strike me as particularly dated but that style of psychological crime story is not really what I like. So the fact that I gave it 4* means it must be very good!

142mathgirl40
Feb 27, 9:15pm Top

>133 leslie.98: Kramer and Reading have done all three books of Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight series. They do a great job, except that in the first book, they each pronounced the same name differently! It left me very confused at first and then annoyed after, but the problem has been fixed in the sequels.

143leslie.98
Edited: Mar 1, 12:44pm Top

I am behind in my reviews but here are the final few books of February:

55. The Photograph by Penelope Lively; paperback ROOT, 231 pages, finished 2/25; 4*

56. Playing With Poison by Cindy Blackburn; Kindle ROOT, 228 pages, finished 2/25; 2½*

144leslie.98
Edited: Mar 1, 12:45pm Top

57.   The Preacher by Camilla Läckberg (translated by Stephen T. Murray)
format/source=audio/Hoopla, narrated by David Thorn; finished 2/27; 432 pages; 2
Country: Sweden
Categories: Tuxedo (Feb. P & J); Turkish Angora (translated)

Publisher's blurb says: "In the fishing community of Fjällbacka, life is remote, peaceful, and for some, tragically short. Foul play was always suspected in the disappearance twenty years ago of two young campers, but their bodies were never found. But now, a young boy out playing has confirmed the grim truth. Their remains are discovered alongside those of a fresh victim, sending the tiny town into shock.

Local detective Patrik Hedström, expecting a baby with his girlfriend Erica, can only imagine what it is like to lose a child. When a second young girl goes missing, Hedström's attention focuses on the Hults, a feuding clan of misfits, religious fanatics and criminals. The suspect list is long but time is short—which of this family's dark secrets will provide the vital clue?"


My thoughts: Overly long and I found the solution somewhat obvious. I also disliked how Patrik would get some crucial piece of evidence which the reader is told is crucial but not told what it is. In addition, while I was interested in what was going on with Erika and her sister because I had read the previous book, this time this storyline was not relevant to the plot. I doubt that I will read more from this series...

145leslie.98
Edited: Mar 1, 12:46pm Top

58.   The Power-House by John Buchan
format/source = Kindle/Project Gutenberg Australia; 144 pages; finished 2/27;
Country: England
Categories: Tuxedo (Feb. P & J)

Publisher's blurb says: "The first adventure of Scots lawyer and MP Sir Edward Leithen whose daily routine of flat, chambers, flat, club is enlivened by the sudden disappearance of an Oxford contemporary. As the investigation into the disappearance develops Leithen finds himself pitted against a terrifying international anarchist network called The Power-House."

My thoughts: I enjoyed this fairly short adventure novel about a man who discovers a secret anarchist society in pre-WW1 London. It foreshadows some of Buchan's later Hannay books.

146leslie.98
Edited: Mar 2, 9:45pm Top

59.   Pietr the Latvian by Georges Simenon (translated by David Bellos)
format/source = Kindle/BPL; 176 pages; finished 2/28;
Country: France
Categories: Tuxedo (Feb. P & J); Turkish Angora (translated)

Publisher's blurb says: "The first novel which appeared in Georges Simenon's famous Maigret series, in a gripping new translation by David Bellos.

Inevitably Maigret was a hostile presence in the Majestic. He constituted a kind of foreign body that the hotel's atmosphere could not assimilate.
Not that he looked like a cartoon policeman. He didn't have a moustache and he didn't wear heavy boots. His clothes were well cut and made of fairly light worsted. He shaved every day and looked after his hands.
But his frame was proletarian. He was a big, bony man. His firm muscles filled out his jacket and quickly pulled all his trousers out of shape.
He had a way of imposing himself just by standing there. His assertive presence had often irked many of his own colleagues."


My thoughts: While I didn't think it was as good as some of the later Maigret books, it was interesting to see how Simenon originally envisioned him.

147leslie.98
Edited: Apr 28, 9:53pm Top

February summary:
29 books read, 12 of them ROOTs. 7 new books obtained (list below; crossed out books have already been read). Still in the hole regarding reading more than acquiring but I managed to close the gap somewhat.

I again made good progress on most of my chosen challenges & goals:
5 books from the Guardian's list
4 books for BingoDOG and my first BINGO achieved
4 books translated from another language
3 books that were made into movies
2 Nero Wolfe mysteries & one Cyril Hare
book #6 in Proust's In Search of Lost Time series

Best book of the month? No 5* books for me again this month but The Eye of the World was great once I got into it so that is my selection.

New books obtained: (all Kindle editions unless otherwise noted)
Go (Feb. Kindle First freebie)
Mrs Craddock (Project Gutenberg)
Balance of Trade
Death Is No Sportsman (paperback)
The Drifter (Penguin Random House audiobook freebie)
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood (Project Gutenberg)
The Dragon Reborn (audiobook)


March reading plans:

I will continue reading Infinite Jest; I am about halfway through now but given the speed at which I am reading it, I doubt I will finish in March. And I will finish up the other books I am currently reading -- Between Shades of Gray (audiobook ROOT) and Deja Dead (audiobook from Hoopla).

I hope to read the following mysteries:

Game of Mirrors
In the Bleak Midwinter (library audiobook)
The Silent Speaker
Suicide Excepted
The Mystery of 31 New Inn

Special Assignments (maybe)

and these non-mystery books:
If on a Winter's Night, which I didn't get to in Feb.
Fathers and Sons
Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine (library audio CDs)
Local Custom
I'll Give You the Sun (audiobook ROOT) (maybe)

Purge

and maybe I will reread via audiobook Rebecca ...

148-Eva-
Mar 1, 1:12pm Top

"how Patrik would get some crucial piece of evidence which the reader is told is crucial but not told what it is."
That's one of my pet peeves. I feel it's just lazy writing and that annoys me.

149christina_reads
Mar 1, 5:33pm Top

>147 leslie.98: Ooh, I really loved I'll Give You the Sun, if that helps! Although I read it in print rather than on audio.

150leslie.98
Mar 1, 9:41pm Top

>148 -Eva-: So very annoying - I guess that it is a pet peeve of mine too but I hadn't formulated it as such before!

>149 christina_reads: Oh, good to know! I'll Give You the Sun was one of the free audiobooks I got through the SYNC program so I didn't know anything about it.

151thornton37814
Mar 2, 9:20pm Top

>136 leslie.98: That was one of my favorites in 2016. It was my favorite AudioSync offering that year. I liked it much more than you--5 stars for me.

152leslie.98
Mar 2, 9:30pm Top

>151 thornton37814: I have found that as time passes, I have increasingly positive feelings about it. I should adjust my rating to 4*.

153leslie.98
Mar 2, 10:03pm Top

60.   Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs
format/source=audio/Hoopla, narrated by Barbara Rosenblatt; finished 3/2; 532 pages;
Country: Canada
Categories: Tortoiseshell (Mar. MysteryCAT - global mysteries)
Welsh Terrier (BingoDOG #9 - >500 pages)

Publisher's blurb says: "It's June in Montreal, and Dr. Temperance Brennan, who has left a shaky marriage back home in North Carolina to take on the challenging assignment of Director of Forensic Anthropology for the province of Quebec, looks forward to a relaxing weekend in beautiful Quebec City. First, though, she must stop at a newly uncovered burial site in the heart of the city. The remains are probably old and only of archeological interest, but Tempe must make sure they're not a case for the police.

One look at the decomposed and decapitated corpse, stored neatly in plastic bags, tells her she'll spend the weekend in the crime lab. Something about the crime scene is familiar to Tempe: the stashing of the body parts; the meticulous dismemberment. As a pattern continues to emerge, Tempe calls upon all her forensic skills, including bone, tooth/dental, and bitemark analysis and x-ray microflourescence to convince the police that the cases are related and to try to stop the killer before he strikes again.

Told with lacerating authenticity and passion, Déjà Dead is both poignant and terrifying as it hurtles toward its breathtaking conclusion and instantly catapults Kathy Reich into the top ranks of crime authors."


My thoughts: I was disappointed by some of the incredibly stupid things that Brennan did. Her character was quite different from what I had expected from the TV show - in some ways better, but in others worse. I might have given this 3* if it had been half as long...

154virginiahomeschooler
Mar 2, 10:53pm Top

>153 leslie.98: that's disappointing. I somehow ended up with the second book in the series and always meant to get a copy of this one so I could start the series. Maybe it's just as well that I didn't.

155rabbitprincess
Mar 3, 9:37am Top

>153 leslie.98: What I liked about this one was the setting. I stopped reading the series once the word "Bones" appeared in the title all the time and they didn't focus as much on Montreal. I'm sorry this book didn't do it for you, but at least that's one more series to cross off the list :)

156leslie.98
Edited: Mar 3, 2:46pm Top

>155 rabbitprincess: I did like the setting but not as much as in Louise Penny's series. But, as you say, at least I am not picking up yet another mystery series!

>154 virginiahomeschooler: Who knows, it might appeal to you. 2½ stars from me means it wasn't bad; I just have a preference for the shorter Golden Age style.

157leslie.98
Mar 3, 4:21pm Top

61.   Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
format/source=audio/SYNC, narrated by Emily Klein; 288 pages; finished 3/3;
Country: Lithuania & Soviet Union
Categories: Tabby (ROOT)
Welsh Terrier (BingoDOG square #20 - beautiful cover)

Publisher's blurb says: "Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously--and at great risk--documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart."


My thoughts:

I was heading for a 4* rating until I listened to the author's discussion about how she came to write the book which was included at the end of this audiobook edition. I had been a bit skeptical about the ending in the epilogue but it turns out that this was based on actual events.

While I knew nothing about the deportation and imprisonment in gulags of Lithuanians (and Latvians & Estonians) in the late 1930s/early 1940s as a result of Hitler & Stalin's nonaggression pact, the fact that it occurred didn't surprise me nor did the brutal conditions. What made this novel above average for me was the fact that Sepetys managed to show the differing reactions to these events, including a few indomitable souls who managed to seek for the good even in the Russian soldiers who guarded and abused them, in a way that was so believable.

Emily Klein does a fantastic narration.

158leslie.98
Edited: Mar 4, 12:11pm Top

and still more from Hawthorne's Twice Told Tales (post 42 gives January's selections; post 105 has February's)...

4. g.   contained in  Fancy's Show Box by Nathaniel Hawthorne
format/source=Kindle/Project Gutenberg; 24 pages; finished 3/3; 3
Country: U.S.A.
Categories: Tuxedo (Mar. I & F); Tabby (ROOT); Siberian Husky (short stories)

Publisher's blurb says: "A short story written by famous American novelist, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Fancy's Show-Box is story of morality, guilt, and its effects on the soul."

My thoughts: This short story was subheaded "A Morality" and Hawthorne makes no pretence of it being anything else. He uses the character of a respected old man, Mr. Smith, to illustrate how sinful thoughts, even if not acted upon, can cause guilt and need to be repented if one wishes to be admitted into Heaven. Mr. Smith is visited by 3 figures - Fancy, Memory and Conscience - which show him some of his past bad thoughts and wishes.

I don't personally believe in an afterlife so this sort of story leaves me cold. But I liked the idea of Fancy's show box!

4. h. "Footprints on the Seashore" (3/4), 4½*

I think that I liked this story so much because I too have taken solitary walks along just such beaches and clambered up the rocks, peering into tidepools and watching the restless motion of the ocean. He captured the New England shore so well (though a sand beach without pebbles is hard to find!).

159mamzel
Mar 4, 2:01pm Top

>157 leslie.98: You might also like her book Salt to the Sea. It tells the story of the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustoff, a ship loaded with wounded and women and children who were trying to escape Germany ahead of the Soviets. It's a little known chapter of history.

160leslie.98
Mar 4, 7:59pm Top

>159 mamzel: Thanks for the recommendation -- I will look for it at the library.

161-Eva-
Mar 5, 5:03pm Top

>153 leslie.98:
Seconding!! My review of that one included the following sentence: "she sometimes acts like an idiot (the-homicidal-maniac-is-after-me-but-let-me-go-for-a-walk-alone-anyway-and-not-tell-anyone)"

162leslie.98
Edited: Mar 7, 2:23pm Top

>161 -Eva-: Exactly - that or let me go alone to the creepy cemetary in the middle of the night!

163leslie.98
Mar 6, 11:53am Top

62.   The Mystery of 31 New Inn by R. Austin Freeman
format/source = Kindle/Project Gutenberg; 196 pages; finished 3/4; 3
Country: England
Categories: Tuxedo (Mar. I & F)

Publisher's blurb says: "A man falls gravely ill, but is reluctant to call a doctor. As his condition worsens, he is eventually forced to seek medical aid—but he does so only under the condition that the physician does not learn his identity or address. Dr. Jervis is therefore transported to the man’s home in a 4-wheeled cab with tightly closed shutters. When he arrives, the doctor finds that the patient—who has been introduced with a pseudonym—exhibits all of the signs of morphine poisoning. But the sick man’s caretaker assures Jervis that this is outside the realm of possibility. Knowing neither the patient’s real name nor where he lives, Jervis feels both helpless and puzzled, so he consults his friend Dr. John Thorndyke. Versed in the nuances of medicine and law, Thorndyke is the only person who can solve this cryptic case.

The Mystery of 31 New Inn is the 4th book in the Dr. Thorndyke Mysteries, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order."


My thoughts: (cover shown is not for my free public domain edition which didn't have a cover image)

While I enjoyed this 4th book in the Dr. Thorndyke series, it seemed unlikely to me that Jervis (who first enters Dr. Thorndyke's employment during the course of the book) couldn't make some connections that struck me as obvious such as his patient Graves had a specific type of injury to his right eye and Jeffery Blackmore had an injury to one of his eyes!. This one isn't as good as the previous books in the series, but hopefully the further books will be more like the first few.

164leslie.98
Edited: Mar 12, 2:20pm Top

63.   Local Custom by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller
format/source= Kindle/Amazon; 324 pages; finished 3/5; 4
Country: N/A
Categories: Tabby (ROOT); Tortoiseshell (March SFFKit)
Wheaten Terrier: Space Opera

Publisher's blurb says: " 'Each person shall provide his clan of origin with a child of his blood, who will be raised by the clan and belong to the clan. And this shall be Law for every person of every clan ...'

Master trader Er Thorn knows the local custom of Liaden is to be matched with a proper bride, and provide his prominent clan Korval with an heir. Yet his heart is immersed in another universe, influenced by another culture, and lost to a woman not of his world. And to take a Terran wife such as scholar Anne Davis is to risk his honor and reputation. But when he discovers that their brief encounter years before has resulted in the birth of a child, even more is at stake than anyone imagined. Now, an interstellar scandal has erupted, a bitter war between two families—galaxies apart—has begun, and the only hope for Er Thorn and Anne is a sacrifice neither is prepared to make ..."


My thoughts:

This entry in the Liaden series takes the reader back in time to when Shan yos'Galen is a child. The difficulties his parents face are due to the fact that, while they love each other, they are of different races (one Terran and one Liaden) and so have different 'local customs' and thus often misunderstandings occur.

Since I am reading this series in publication order (rather than in order of internal chronology), I already knew the outcome of this story having met Shan yos'Galen as an adult in Conflict of Honor. However, it was interesting to get the story of how his parents came together.

165leslie.98
Edited: Mar 9, 12:11pm Top

64.     Game of Mirrors by Andrea Camilleri (translated by Stephen Sartarelli)
format/source=Kindle/Dad's Kindle & audio/Hoopla, narrated by Grover Gardner; 288 pages; finished 3/5;
Country: Italy
Categories: Turkish Angora (translated); Tabby (ROOT)
Tortoiseshell (March MysteryCAT)

Publisher's blurb says: "Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano novels have become an international sensation, with fans eagerly awaiting each new installment. In this eighteenth book of the New York Times bestselling series, someone is toying with Italy's favorite detective. Inspector Montalbano and his colleagues are stumped when two bombs explode outside empty warehouses - one of which is connected to a big-time drug dealer. Meanwhile, the alluring Liliana Lombardo is trying to seduce the inspector over red wine and arancini. Between pesky reporters, amorous trysts, and cocaine kingpins, Montalbano feels as if he's being manipulated on all fronts. That is, until the inspector himself becomes the prime suspect in an unspeakably brutal crime."

My thoughts:

Grover Gardner is once again in excellent form as narrator of this Sicilian mystery. In particular, I love the voice he uses for Catarella!

I enjoyed this 18th book in the Inspector Montalbano series but Montalbano's worries about getting older, while less prominent in this one than the previous book, irritate me, maybe because I am getting older myself!

As in some of the previous books, Montalbano has a dream at the beginning of the book. However, in this book, there are several times during the course of the story when he refers to it to others as if it had really happened which struck me as odd.

The mystery itself was satisfyingly complex.

I am still undecided about whether to count the books on my Dad's Kindle as ROOTs... Dad died last July and I appropriated his Kindle so I have had these books before the beginning of 2018 but I still think of them as Dad's books, not mine.

added later
After consulting the 2018 ROOT group, I have decided that Dad's Kindle books do count as ROOTs.

166leslie.98
Mar 6, 12:30pm Top

65.   Psmith, Journalist by P.G. Wodehouse
format/source=audio/LibriVox, narrated by Psuke Bariah; 192 pages; finished 3/6;
Country: U.S.A. {NY}
Categories: Tortoiseshell (March RandomCAT)

Publisher's blurb says: "Psmith takes over editing a paper while the usual editor is away on vacation. He takes on a local slum lord, and divers alarums ensue."

My thoughts:

Psuke Bariah did a very good narration of this 3rd book in the Psmith series. In this one, Psmith's friend Mike is on the fringes of the story; Mike's cricket team has come to the U.S. and Psmith has accompanied him but is at rather loose ends in New York City while Mike is away playing. He befriends a young newspaper man and gets interested in journalism. While Psmith is his typical self, this entry in the series has more obvious social commentary than most Wodehouse books and less silliness.

I find it a bit sad that many of the problems described in this book still exist over 100 years later -- gangs, slumlords, corruption...

I have been reading my way through the Psmith series this year and had no idea that this book would fit this month's RandomCAT (Ripped from the Headlines)! But Wodehouse's preface makes it clear that it does (underlining is mine):

"PREFACE
THE conditions of life in New York are so different from those of London that a story of this kind calls for a little explanation. There are several million inhabitants of New York. Not all of them eke out a precarious livelihood by murdering one another, but there is a definite section of the population which murders—not casually, on the spur of the moment, but on definitely commercial lines at so many dollars per murder. The "gangs" of New York exist in fact. I have not invented them. Most of the incidents in this story are based on actual happenings. The Rosenthal case, where four men, headed by a genial individual calling himself "Gyp the Blood" shot a fellow-citizen in cold blood in a spot as public and fashionable as Piccadilly Circus and escaped in a motor-car, made such a stir a few years ago that the noise of it was heard all over the world and not, as is generally the case with the doings of the gangs, in New York only. Rosenthal cases on a smaller and less sensational scale are frequent occurrences on Manhattan Island. It was the prominence of the victim rather than the unusual nature of the occurrence that excited the New York press. Most gang victims get a quarter of a column in small type.

P. G. WODEHOUSE
New York, 1915"

167leslie.98
Edited: Mar 6, 2:33pm Top

I have been under the weather for the past few days & resorted to "light" reading, not being up to dealing with the complexities of Infinite Jest nor the harsh realities of Purge. As you can see, I go through these less serious books much more quickly!

168LittleTaiko
Mar 6, 2:57pm Top

Gotta love the lighter books when feeling bad. I think someone needs to be in peak physical condition to tackle Infinite Jest. Hope you feel better soon!

169VivienneR
Edited: Mar 6, 3:06pm Top

>157 leslie.98: Excellent review! It is one of those books I will never forget.

ETA (now that I've read to the bottom of your thread): I hope you are feeling better.

170rabbitprincess
Mar 6, 6:15pm Top

Hope you're feeling better soon. Glad to hear you have some light reading to keep you company while you recover.

171leslie.98
Mar 6, 8:06pm Top

Thanks all for the well wishes! I am feeling better, luckily in time to do some much needed grocery shopping before tomorrow's storm hits. The forecast has been downgraded from 6-12 inches of snow to 3-5 inches of snow mixed with rain before & after but it makes me feel better to have food in the house.

>168 LittleTaiko: To tackle Infinite Jest, you certainly need to be mentally focused rather than in the befuddled condition I was in! Probably peak condition would help (at least all the tennis drills wouldn't sound so exhausting then I presume, lol!).

>169 VivienneR: Thanks. One of the perks of getting the SYNC audiobooks is I am exposed to many books I had never heard of -- Between Shades of Gray is a good example of that.

172DeltaQueen50
Mar 11, 10:23pm Top

Glad to read that you are feeling better, Leslie. I am reading the Liaden series in the order that Sharon Lee recommends so for me, Local Custom will be up next.

173leslie.98
Mar 11, 10:40pm Top

>172 DeltaQueen50: I was following the publication order given on the fantastic fiction website but I see that this doesn't match any of the LT series orders for this series! Which one does Lee recommend, Liaden Universe Chronological Order?

174DeltaQueen50
Mar 11, 10:56pm Top

>173 leslie.98: Leslie I'm going to add a link to the author's recommendation for reading order, but now that I look at the order I have written down, I think I may have gotten it from Roni over at the 75 thread, she is often my guru for all things fantasy and sci-fi.

Here is a copy of the reading order that I am following:

Reading order for Liaden Universe Books

1. Agent of Change - Completed

2. Conflict of Honors - Completed

3. Carpe Diem – Completed

4. Plan B - Completed

5. I Dare! - Completed

Then going back :

6. Local Custom - Have

7. Scout’s Progress - Have

8. Mouse & Dragon - Have

New Characters:

9. Fledgling - Have

10. Saltation – Have

Two that Go Together:

10. Ghost Ship

11. Dragon Ship

Then:

12. Necessity’s Child

13. Dragon in Exile


Here is the link to the author's recommendation: https://sharonleewriter.com/correct-reading-order/

175leslie.98
Mar 12, 12:12am Top

Thanks Judy! Looking at that, it looks quite close to the order I was following -- I read Fledgling last August knowing it was out of order but otherwise I have followed that except I missed I Dare (too bad as it also fits this month's AlphaKIT!). Maybe I will read that next.

176leslie.98
Edited: Mar 12, 1:14pm Top

66.   Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
format/source=audio CDs/library, narrated by Cathleen McCarron; 336 pages; finished 3/8;
Country: Scotland
Categories: Bichon Frisee (catchall)

Publisher's blurb says: "No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Smart, warm, uplifting, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .

The only way to survive is to open your heart."


My thoughts:

While I enjoyed this book, the final third seemed improbable. It felt like the author had finished with the story she wanted to tell and just wrapped up all the threads to make a happy ending as quickly as possible. Friends of mine in Great Britian say that it just isn't possible for her to have gotten an appointment with a therapist before waiting 4-6 months unless she paid for a private (non-National Health) service. Plus it isn't reasonable that she manages to resolve her long-standing problems in a few months. I understand that it would be difficult to keep the reader's interest if Eleanor's progress in therapy had taken a more realistic length of time but this aspect by itself made me downgrade my rating by a half star.

Having mentioned some of the negative aspects of the book, it is appropriate to mention some of the positives. Several times, Eleanor's interior monologue made me laugh, especially her attempts to figure out social situations & the tweets from the musician she has taken to following are also hilarious. Cathleen McCorran does an excellent narration and I particularly liked the voice she used for Raymond.

177leslie.98
Edited: Mar 12, 1:50pm Top

67.   In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming
format/source=audio/library, narrated by Suzanne Toran; 310 pages; finished 3/8;
Country: U.S.A. {NY}
Categories: Tuxedo (March I & F)

Publisher's blurb says: "Heavy Snow...Icy Desires...Cold-Blooded Murder

Clare Fergusson, St. Alban's new priest, fits like a square peg in the conservative Episcopal parish at Millers Kill, New York. She is not just a "lady," she's a tough ex-Army chopper pilot, and nobody's fool. Then a newborn infant left at the church door brings her together with the town's police chief, Russ Van Alstyne, who's also ex-Army and a cynical good shepherd for the stray sheep of his hometown. Their search for the baby's mother quickly leads them into the secrets that shadow Millers Kill like the ever-present Adirondacks. What they discover is a world of trouble, an attraction to each other—and murder...

In the Bleak Midwinter was Julia Spencer-Fleming's first novel, and it won a Macavity Award, an Agatha Award, an Anthony Award, and a Dilys Award."


My thoughts:

I waffled for quite a while between 3½ and 4 stars for this audiobook. Suzanne Toran does a great narration (once I understood that Clare was from Virginia). I loved the setting (which reminded me of my grandparents' home in the Finger Lake region of upstate NY).

However, I had some problems with Clare as the book progressed. She is new to winter in a northern climate but insists to herself for quite a long time that people's suggestions that, for example, her coat or her car is inappropriate for the area are about image rather than practicality so 'she'll show them'. She tells parishioners things she should be telling the police and she believes everything everyone tells her. Despite all that, I did like her and Russ's interactions and will read the next one.

178leslie.98
Mar 12, 2:10pm Top

68.   The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan
format/source=audio/Audible, narrated by Michael Kramer & Kate Reading; 681 pages; finished 3/10; 4
Country: N/A
Categories: Bichon Frisee (catchall)

Publisher's blurb says: "The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and pass. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow. For centuries, gleemen have told of The Great Hunt of the Horn. Now the Horn itself is found: the Horn of Valere long thought only legend, the Horn which will raise the dead heroes of the ages.

And it is stolen."


My thoughts:

Maybe 3½* for the book itself

While I was swept up in this book (as witnessed by the fact that I listened to the entire 681 pages {paperback length} in 2 days), there were certain features that recurred several times (and had happened in the first book) that I found intensely annoying. One was Nynaeve who continues to act as if everyone should do as she says even when she has no idea of what is going on; this aspect was a bit lessened from the first book so I am willing to concede that maybe this is just character development (or maybe she is just an annoying character). The other one that bothered me a lot was Rand's foolish insistence in ignoring the reality (unpleasant as it may be) by casting the Aes Sedai & Moiraine in particular as his enemies. This attitude was understandable at the beginning of the book but became increasingly hard to take as the story progressed. It was also a bit irritating that he never questioned what Selene might be (other than apparently mind-numbingly beautiful) but I put that down to his youth and her powers.

I did find some interesting allusions in this -- the sa'angreal for example sounds suspiciously like the term used for the Holy Grail (Sangrail or Sangraal).

There was a short Q&A with the author at the end of the audiobook. One thing Jordan discussed was his interest in how historical events/people turn into legends with the passage of time. I was thinking about that this morning after reading a bit of The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood and wonder what people 1000 years from now will think about, say, King Arthur. There is such a proliferation of books which use the legend of Arthur as a basis for a new twist these days; I assume that most current day readers can identify which bits are the author's spin on the legend but will readers in the far future be able to?

179leslie.98
Edited: Mar 12, 2:19pm Top

69.   Frozen Assets by P.G. Wodehouse {reread}
format/source=audio/Hoopla, narrated by Simon Vance; 191 pages; finished 3/11;
Country: England
Categories: Tortoiseshell (March ColorCAT); Tuxedo (March I & F)

Publisher's blurb says: "The quintessential comedy master returns with another tale that will have you laughing out loud and yearning for more.

For Edmund Biffen Christopher, life is about to be very good-assuming he can stay out of trouble. If he can avoid being arrested until his thirtieth birthday, he will inherit his godfather's millions. The trouble is, Biff has a certain proclivity for getting into fisticuffs … particularly with policemen. And he's already nearing thirty.

Adding to his troubles is Lord Tilbury, who wants the fortune for himself. If Tilbury can make Biff fall foul of the law, his wish will come true. True to form, Wodehouse will see to it that everyone gets what's coming to them, one way or another."


My thoughts: March 2018 reread: No changes in my previous opinion.

I think that if this audiobook had been narrated by Jonathan Cecil I might have given it 4*. While Simon Vance did a perfectly good narration, his voice didn't convey the zaniness of Wodehouse's plot.

As for the book itself, while not the pinnacle of Wodehouse, this late novel in his œuvre (1964) recalled some of his earlier books (which is a good thing).

180leslie.98
Edited: Mar 12, 2:26pm Top

70.   Thrush Green by Miss Read
format/source= Kindle/library; 244 pages; finished 3/11; 4
Country: England
Categories: Tortoiseshell (March ColorCAT)

Publisher's blurb says: "Miss Read's charming chronicles of small-town life have achieved an almost legendary popularity worldwide by offering a welcome return to a gentler time and "wit, humor, and wisdom in equal measure" (Cleveland Plain Dealer). This volume introduces Thrush Green, the neighboring village to Fairacre: its blackthorn bushes, thatch-roofed cottages, enchanting landscape, and jumble sales. Readers will delight in a new cast of characters and also welcome familiar faces as they become immersed in the village's turn of events on one pivotal day -- May Day. Before the day is over, life and love and perhaps eternity will touch the immemorial peace of the village."

My thoughts:

Maybe this book only deserves 3.5* really but it fit my mood at the moment. Eccentric villagers, romance and the 'travellers' who run the visiting fair were all fun to read about and my edition had some lovely illustrations as well.

181DeltaQueen50
Mar 12, 10:05pm Top

I am very happy that you enjoyed Thrush Green, I suspect I constantly give these books more stars than they should have, but they among my favorite of comfort reads.

I think you will love I Dare!

182leslie.98
Mar 14, 12:13pm Top

>181 DeltaQueen50: You were right - I did love I Dare which I read in one great gulp! I will be posting my review soon...

183leslie.98
Mar 16, 12:49am Top

A short update on personal matters. My mother was admitted to the hospital yesterday with congestive heart failure -- hopefully it is just a matter of adjusting her medications to reduce her 'cardiac' fluids (as opposed to pulmonary fluids). Thank goodness it didn't happen during the previous day's blizzard! Anyway, I will probably be even more dilatory about my reviews than usual as a result until things settle down.

184DeltaQueen50
Mar 16, 12:52am Top

Sending good wishes to you and your mother, Leslie, hopefully adjusting her medication will do the trick.

185cmbohn
Mar 16, 1:43am Top

Sorry to hear about your mom. Hopefully they can get everything sorted and send her back home.

186-Eva-
Mar 16, 12:21pm Top

>183 leslie.98:
Oh, that's scary. Hope they figure it out soon. Best wishes from me too!

187rabbitprincess
Mar 16, 5:47pm Top

Hope your mum's feeling better soon!

188leslie.98
Mar 16, 9:51pm Top

Thanks for all the kind thoughts! Mom seems to be doing well and hopefully this will be a short stay -- at 91, though, even minor health matters are worrisome! Not that this was a minor matter but you know what I mean.

189MissWatson
Mar 17, 1:04pm Top

Best wishes that it will prove a short stay!

190leslie.98
Edited: Mar 19, 10:19pm Top

Thanks >189 MissWatson:. Unfortunately, Mom suffered a few small strokes Friday but luckily the damage seems to have been minimal.

191rabbitprincess
Mar 20, 5:38pm Top

>190 leslie.98: Relieved to hear that the damage was minimal, and hoping your mom feels better soon.

192leslie.98
Mar 21, 1:23am Top

Thanks RP -- she is looking better but the docs say she needs to stay in the hospital a few more days.

193DeltaQueen50
Mar 21, 11:33pm Top

I guess the hospital is the best place for her be right now, I hope her spirits are up and that she will be able to go home soon.

194leslie.98
Mar 22, 11:29am Top

Thanks Judy -- fingers crossed that she will be discharged tomorrow!

195leslie.98
Edited: Mar 22, 11:54am Top

A list of what I have read since my last update 10 days ago; I hope to come back and fill in more details later.

71. I Dare by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, finished 3/12; 4.5* -- very exciting but must be read after the other "Agent of Change" books in the series (1-4 in Judy's post #174); ROOT

72. *Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev, finished 3/13; 4* -- surprisingly short and easy to read; ROOT

73. Suicide Excepted by Cyril Hare, finished 3/15; 4* -- very enjoyable Golden Age mystery; ROOT

74. *The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler {reread via audiobook}, finished 3/16; 4* -- I love the Bogart/Bacall movie but the book is even better

75. *Persuasion by Jane Austen {reread via audiobook}, finished 3/18; 4.5* - one of my favorite Austen novels and Nadia May did an excellent narration

76. The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle, finished 3/20; 3.5* - I liked the tales but the language in which it is written was at times a bother; I prefer the Errol Flynn/Olivia de Havilland movie version.

77. The Silent Speaker by Rex Stout, finished 3/21; 4* -- 11th Nero Wolfe book had Wolfe at his best (though remarkably little mention of food!); ROOT

78. Green Shiver by Clyde B. Clason, finished 3/21; 3.5* -- sadly, I started with the last book of the series or else I might have given it higher rating. A Golden Age mystery featuring a variation of the 'locked room' type mystery; ROOT

79. Improper Stories by Saki, finished 3/22; 3.5* -- I liked the stories but this collection contained several that I had already read, which was disappointing

196LittleTaiko
Mar 22, 4:13pm Top

Glad that your mom is feeling better.

I'm still hoping to get to Fathers and Sons this month, if not soon. Definitely happy about it being on the short side. :)

197leslie.98
Mar 24, 9:00am Top

Some good news - Mom was moved from the hospital in short term rehab yesterday :)

>196 LittleTaiko: I hope that you like the Turgenev.

198leslie.98
Mar 24, 9:25am Top

80.   *Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett
format/source = Kindle/BPL; 304 pages; finished 3/22;
Country: N/A
Categories: Himalayan (Guardian); Wheaten Terrier (Fairy Tale Twist)

Publisher's blurb says: "It seemed an easy job... After all, how difficult could it be to make sure that a servant girl doesn't marry a prince? Quite hard, actually, even for the witches Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick. That's the problem with real life – it tends to get in the way of a good story, and a good story is hard to resist. Servant girls have to marry the prince. That's what life is all about. You can't fight a Happy Ending, especially when it comes with glass slippers and a Fairy Godmother who has made Destiny an offer it can't refuse."

My thoughts: Very very funny! I was chuckling from the very first page. Maybe I should even give this 5*...

199leslie.98
Edited: Mar 25, 9:15am Top

81.     *Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier {reread}
format/source=paperback/MOB & audio/SYNC, narrated by Anna Massey; 380 pages; finished 3/23;
Country: England (mostly)
Categories: Tabby (ROOT); Havana Brown (book-to-movie)

Publisher's blurb says: "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again....

The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady's maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives - resenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.

First published in 1938, this classic gothic novel is such a compelling tale that it won the Anthony Award for Best Novel of the Century."


My thoughts: Even knowing the plot, this novel is tremendously full of suspense and tension. Anna Massey does a very good job narrating this audiobook edition.

200-Eva-
Mar 24, 5:33pm Top

>197 leslie.98:
That's great news - continued well thoughts to you and your mama!

201leslie.98
Mar 25, 10:41pm Top

Thanks Eva! Mom seems to be doing quite well in the rehab center, which is located in the same building as her apartment which makes it much easier for friends to visit as well as for me to bring her stuff. Plus she is happy to now be able to watch her favorite UConn women's basketball team tear through the March Madness NCAA tournament!!

202leslie.98
Edited: Mar 25, 11:17pm Top

82.   I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
format/source=audio/SYNC, narrated by Jesse Bernstein & Julia Whela; 384 pages; finished 3/25; ★ for the audiobook, 3* for the book itself
Country: U.S.A.
Categories: Tabby (ROOT); Tuxedo (March I & F)
Welsh Terrier (BingoDOG Square 17 - something in the sky in the title)

Publisher's blurb says: "At first, Jude and her twin brother are NoahandJude; inseparable. Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude wears red-red lipstick, cliff-dives, and does all the talking for both of them.

Years later, they are barely speaking. Something has happened to change the twins in different yet equally devastating ways . . . but then Jude meets an intriguing, irresistible boy and a mysterious new mentor.

The early years are Noah's to tell; the later years are Jude's. But they each have only half the story, and if they can only find their way back to one another, they'll have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant, award-winning novel from the acclaimed author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.
Printz Award Winner
Stonewall Honor Book"


My thoughts:

I wasn't sure at first that I was going to care for this YA novel about a pair of fraternal twins. The story is told from the view point of 13-14 year-old Noah, trying to hide his homosexuality, and from the later aspect of 16 year-old Jude, his twin sister, trying to cope with a family tragedy that happened after Noah's narrative. Certain key aspects of the plot were exceedingly obvious to me and I wonder if even these adolescents could have been quite so oblivious as they are portrayed here.

On the plus side, the author does a great job capturing the insecurities and obsessions of adolescence and the switch in "normalcy" between the twins, allowing each side of the narrative to be told from the outcast perspective, was believable even when their perspective wasn't.

The happy ending came about as expected but didn't seem terribly realistic to me. I also felt that Jude's near-rape experience on the day of her mother's death at the age of 13, while talked about a good deal, wasn't actually dealt with. Are we to believe that finding a 'soul-mate' will suddenly make the pyschological impact of that event disappear? I can believe that her abrupt change in behaviour would have been attributed to her sudden loss of her mother by others but if it had been as shattering as Jude proclaims (and I believe it would have been), I don't think that it wouldn't be so easily erased, especially since even in the "reveal all" section of the book, Jude still hasn't told either her family or her new love about this episode.

Overall, while the book was well written & I liked the characters, I felt (as has happened with me for other much-lauded YA novels) that some difficult issues were raised only to be dealt with in the end in a very shallow way leading me to think that these issues were included only to generate publicity and kudos for having them in the book.

203-Eva-
Mar 26, 1:11pm Top

>201 leslie.98:
"she is happy to now be able to watch her favorite UConn women's basketball team"
That's adorable!

204VivienneR
Mar 26, 4:20pm Top

>201 leslie.98: So glad your Mom is doing well with friends nearby and able to follow her basketball team! Good news!

205leslie.98
Mar 26, 9:06pm Top

Thanks >203 -Eva-: & >204 VivienneR:.

Mom has always been more of a sports fan than I am but I have slowly absorbed some of her preferences such as the UConn women's bball team... but her real sport is following the Red Sox!

206DeltaQueen50
Mar 26, 11:04pm Top

Great news that your Mom is doing well and is able to enjoy her sports.

207leslie.98
Edited: Mar 28, 10:07am Top

Thanks Judy!

I am officially abandoning Purge - I was enjoying it at the beginning, then put it aside when things in RL got hectic and just haven't been able to get started again. It is my own book, so maybe I will try again someday.

208leslie.98
Edited: Apr 28, 9:51pm Top

Here it is almost another 10 days since my last update. Sigh... On the plus side, my mother is doing well in rehab & I have finished her taxes so things should start to get a bit less hectic soon.

Another brief summary of my reading to help me catch up:

83. Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler {reread}, finished 3/27; 4.5* -- a slight downgrade from my original 5* rating

84. The Intrusion of Jimmy by P.G. Wodehouse {LibriVox audiobook}, finished 3/27; 3* -- amusing but not one of Wodehouse's best

85. *I Am Legend by Richard Matheson {audiobook}, finished 3/28; 4* -- horror stories are generally not my type of thing but this grew on me the further I got into the story; ROOT

86. If on a winter's night a traveler by Italo Calvino {translated by William Weaver}, finished 3/29; 5* -- I was captured right away by the delightful scene in the bookshop. This is a book for readers & raises interesting points/questions about the relationship between reader and writer; ROOT

87. A Beam of Light by Andrea Camilleri {translated by Stephen Sartarelli}, finished 3/30; 3.5* -- while the mystery was OK, it was the things happening in Montalbano's personal life that made this 19th book in the series really worth reading; ROOT

88. A Loyal Character Dancer by Qiu Xiaolong, finished 3/31; 3.5* -- not quite as good as the first book in the series but still a satisfying mystery

That brings me to the end of March so I may as well summarize here.

March summary:
29 books read, 12 of them ROOTs. 6 new books obtained (list below; crossed out books have already been read). Still in the hole regarding reading more than acquiring but I managed to close the gap somewhat.

Still good progress on my challenges this month:
3 books from the Guardian's list
3 books for my sci fi/fantasy BINGO
3 books for BingoDOG
4 books translated from another language
6 books that were made into movies
one Nero Wolfe mystery, one Inspector Mallett & one Thorndyke

Best book of the month: If on a winter's night a traveler

New books obtained: (all Kindle editions unless otherwise noted)
A Glimmer of Hope (March Kindle first freebie)
The Dramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann Volume I (Project Gutenberg)
You Feel So Mortal: Essays on the Body (free ePub book from UChicago)
*The Cruel Sea (audiobook)
Dragon in Exile
The Shadow Rising (audiobook)

April reading plans:
I will continue on my reading of Infinite Jest and should actually finish it in April!

I didn't get to *Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family in March so that will be a priority in April.

Other books I think I will read:

*White Teeth
*A Town Like Alice {audiobook} {reread}
The Dragon Reborn {audiobook}
Scout's Progress
The Enchanted April
Utopia {audiobook} (maybe)

*The Young Lions (maybe)

Mysteries:
The Murder at Sissingham Hall
The Singing Bone
Tragedy at Law
Too Many Women
The Underground Man
Dog Day
Y Is For Yesterday
The High Window (maybe)
Death in Ecstasy (maybe)

209leslie.98
Edited: Apr 10, 1:02pm Top

And so far in April, I have read:

89. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman {translated by Henning Koch) {audiobook}, finished 4/1; 4* -- this Swedish grumpy old man really grows on you as you progress through the story (and backstory) & I wept at the end. After I finished, I watched the Swedish film version - it was ok if you hadn't read the book but much inferior to the book itself. ROOT

90. Scout's Progress by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, finished 4/4; 4* -- another exciting entry in the Liaden series! This one tells the story of how Daav and Aelliana meet. Now I am faced with the dilemma of whether to read Balance of Trade next or skip right to the one that continues Daav & Aelliana's story - Mouse and Dragon!

91. Dog Day by Alicia Giménez-Bartlett {translated by Nicholas Caistor}, finished 4/4; 4* -- this second book in the Spanish Inspector Petra Delicado series is a book I meant to read for March's MysteryCAT but didn't get to in time. As in the first book in the series, the interactions between Petra and her partner Sargeant Fermin Garzon are what raise this to an above-average police procedural for me (and I love learning more about Spain too!).

92. The Murder at Sissingham Hall by Clara Benson, finished 4/5; 3* -- While this country manor English mystery set in the 1920s was reasonably fun to read, I found the culprit easy to figure out early on. Plus I was a bit disappointed that this isn't actually a Golden Age mystery but rather was written just a few years ago in the GA style.

93. Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton {audiobook}, finished 4/6; 3.5* -- as with the previous book in the series, this final entry in the Kinsey Millhone series interweaves two separate cases. It would have been better for me to have reread X as one of the two strands in this book was a continuation of that book & the details were fuzzy in my memory. However, it wasn't really necessary since Grafton provides enough detail for a reader unfamiliar with the previous book to understand what is going on. Now that I have finished this, I am once again saddened by the realization that there won't be a Z book...

210virginiahomeschooler
Apr 7, 8:54am Top

>209 leslie.98: I loved Ove. There was some talk that Tom Hanks was going to star in another movie based on the book. I don't think it's moved past being announced, but I do think he'd make a decent Ove.

211leslie.98
Apr 7, 11:26am Top

>210 virginiahomeschooler: I am not sure that I think the book translates to film that well, as much of what you learn about Ove happens inside his head in the book. To make it visible to a film audience requires some changes to the structure of the story (which is what was done in the Swedish film); but I agree that Tom Hanks would be a good choice.

212leslie.98
Edited: Apr 10, 1:23pm Top

94. The Underground Man by Ross MacDonald, finished 4/7; 3.5* -- the last of the Lew Archer books I got from my dad (in the omnibus Archer, P.I.); I will never like these as much as he did but they are good examples of the hard-boiled PI subgenre; ROOT

95. *Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, finished (finally!) 4/7; 3* (for now) -- very bizarre book which left me feeling the way I did after watching Fellini's movie ...; ROOT

96. Tragedy at Law by Cyril Hare, finished 4/8; 4* -- this 4th Inspector Mallett book introduces Francis Pettigrew, a character I much enjoyed; ROOT

97. The Singing Bone by R. Austin Freeman, finished 4/9; 3.5* - 5 short stories, 4 of which illustrate the idea that it is how the crime is detected rather than who did it that interests the reader.

98. Leave It to Psmith by P.G. Wodehouse {reread via audiobook}, finished 4/9; 5* -- this last entry in the Psmith series takes place at Blandings Castle & is just hilarious!

213leslie.98
Apr 14, 4:38pm Top

99. Unexpected Night by Elizabeth Daly, finished 4/10; 3* -- Clever American Golden Age mystery, the first in a series. Only some formatting issues with the Kindle edition prevented me from giving it 3.5*; ROOT

100. *White Teeth by Zadie Smith, finished 4/12; 4* -- A look at the relationships between various members of 2 families in London over several decades. Best part for me was how the conflict between the immigrant parents' culture & the British culture affected the second generation in different ways.

101. Curiosity Thrilled the Cat by Sofie Kelly {audiobook}, finished 4/13; 2* -- OK cozy mystery but making the cats "magical" came across as forced (and imo it was unnecessary); ROOT

102. Death in Ecstasy by Ngaio Marsh {reread}, finished 4/14; 4* -- Very entertaining early Alleyn mystery, with both Fox & Bathgate helping out.

This topic was continued by leslie.98's CATs and DOGs in 2018 - Part 2.

Group: 2018 Category Challenge

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