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Clue's Challenge In A Challenge for 2018

2018 Category Challenge

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Edited: Oct 29, 2017, 11:44pm Top

In 2018 I'll continue the simple categories I've used the last two years. I'm going to do one additional thing and that's to add a little challenge each month, much like the Random Challenge. I'm going to read a book every month that is related to the month in some way. I'm adding January in so that you can see what I mean. It's just for fun, I plan to use TBRs and there may be some months I skip for some reason.

Edited: Sep 16, 6:06pm Top


1. Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M.C. Beaton
2. Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet by M.C. Beaton
3. Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Mary Wingate
4. The Jasmine Moon Murders by Laura Childs
5. Chamomile Mourning by Laura Childs
6. Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener by M.C. Beaton
7. The Graves a Fine and Private Place by Alan Bradley
8. The Walkers of Dembley by M.C. Beaton
9. The Woman in the Water by Charles Finch
10. Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage by M.C. Beaton
11. The Crossing Places by Elly Griffith
12. Miss Zukas and the Raven's Dance by Jo Dereske
13. Blood Orange Brewing by Laura Childs
14. Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist by M.C. Beaton
15. The Lady Vanishes by Ethel Lina White
16. Dream of Orchids by Phyllis A. Whitney
17. The Religious Body by Catherine Aird
18. Hot Money by Dick Francis
19. Sworn to Silence - Linda Castillo
20. Dragonwell Dead - Laura Childs
21. Leaving Everything Most Loved - Jennifer Winspear
22. Iron Lake - William Kent Krueger
23. The 9th Girl - Tami Hoag

Edited: Jun 7, 9:39pm Top


1. Maman's Homesick Pie by Donia Bijan
2. Underfoot In Show Business by Helene Hanff
3. The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff

Edited: Yesterday, 10:32am Top


1. Planned - My Dear Hamilton - Stephanie Dray
2. Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
3 Reply to a Letter from Helga - Bergsvenin Birgisson
4. The Last Days of Café Leila - Donia Bijan
5. The Velveteen Daughter - Laurel Davis Huber
6. Hot Money - Dick Francis
7. All American Murder by James Patterson
8. The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
9. Blood Sisters - Barbara and Stephanie Keating
10. The Perfect Couple - Elin Hilderbrand (4th of July)
11. Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Marty Wingate
12. Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell
13. Killers of the Flower Moon - David Gann
14. Planned -The Ninth Girl - Tami Hoag
15. The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman
16. The Woman on the Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford
17. Setting Free the Kites by Alex George
18. Journey to Somewhere - Sloan Wilson
19. Season of Yellow Leaf - Douglas C. Jones
20. The Cross-Country Quilters by Jennifer Chiaverini
21. Maman's Homesick Pie - Donia Bijan
22. Cat Talk and Once I Ate a Pie - Patricia MacLachlan
23. Last Night at the Lobster - Stewart O'Nan
24. The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street - Helene Hanff
25. Planned - The Game of Kings - Dorothy Dunnett

Edited: Jan 2, 12:06pm Top

January 4 is...National Spaghetti Day! The Chinese were cooking pasta as far back as 5000 BC but it was Italians who popularized it. Thomas Jefferson brought it to America from Naples in 1789.

In celebration of pasta I'm reading The Arthur Avenue Cookbook: Recipes and Memories from the Real Little Italy.


Edited: Jan 30, 11:15pm Top

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Oct 30, 2017, 1:21pm Top

Great to see you set-up and ready to tackle 2018! I love the monthly challenges and may have to think about stealing that to use in the future!

Oct 30, 2017, 4:03pm Top

Clever monthly personal challenges. Have fun reading!

Oct 30, 2017, 9:24pm Top

Ooh, like Judy I may have to steal your monthly challenge idea for future use. It sounds like such a fun way to get some extra reading in.

Oct 30, 2017, 10:56pm Top

Looks like a fun simple way to organize for the year.

Oct 31, 2017, 4:13pm Top

Love your theme - especially the monthly challenge. I had an entire calendar category this year and enjoyed it a lot. I sort of wish I'd included another one this year. I loved finding those unusual commemorative days. National Spaghetti Day - who'd have thought?

Nov 3, 2017, 5:35am Top

Have a great reading year!

Nov 3, 2017, 4:15pm Top

Looking forward to seeing what your special occasions are each month.

Nov 4, 2017, 3:51pm Top

Nice set up. I look forward to seeing your monthly themed books. That Italian cookbook/memoir looks pretty good. I love Italian food.

Nov 4, 2017, 4:14pm Top

Love your monthly challenges, brilliant idea. Have a great reading year!

Nov 6, 2017, 2:53pm Top

Looks good!

Nov 12, 2017, 12:48pm Top

Love your "mini-challenge" in a challenge idea!

Nov 17, 2017, 2:43pm Top

I chose a monthly "challenge" as well but without your little twist. I look forward to seeing how you fill your months.

Edited: Jan 3, 10:21am Top

The Arthur Avenue Cookbook: Recipes and Memories From the Real Little Italy

Arthur Avenue is the Little Italy of the Bronx. It's a three block area where businesses have primarily been run by the same families for sixty years or more. Volkwein takes us down the street introducing us to each of the owners and gives us a short history of each store. Some are meat markets, some bakeries, some restaurants. There are photographs and recipes from each one. Although the neighborhood has changed through the years, the families that have moved to other parts of the city still come back to do their shopping on Arthur Avenue and are part of the reason the businesses have continued to thrive. But when a shop owner considers a customer part of his family, how could you "take your trade", as my grandmother used to say, anywhere else? For those of us who live too far from Arthur Avenue to shop there, it's comforting to know such places still exist.


Calendar Challenge, Alpha CAT, ROOT

Edited: Mar 8, 6:26pm Top

The Last Days of Café Leila by Donia Bijan takes place primarily in Tehran but begins in San Francisco. Noor works as a nurse and lives with her husband and teen daughter Lilly. When she can't deal with her husband's infidelities, and longing to see her father, Noor returns to Tehran taking an angry Lilly with her.

Tehran is very different from Noor's childhood memories. She and her brother had been sent to the U.S. for safety after their mother was killed by Iranian police. Neither has returned for twenty years.

Noor finds her father the same respected and loved man she knew as a child, and Café Lelia, the café that has been run by her family for three generations, a welcoming refuge. But there is still turmoil, both within Noor, with her relationship with Lily, and in the city she has escaped to.

Bejan, a native Iranian and a Cordon Bleu trained chef, writes very well, particularly when she is describing Iranian cooking and the pleasures of dining.

A bittersweet story wrapped around a splintered family, this was a good book to start the year with and I look forward to reading Bijan's only other book, a memoir.


BINGO (New Author)

Jan 2, 9:55pm Top

>31 clue: I've seen that one listed before and wondered what it was like. Thanks for the review.

Edited: Jan 11, 10:11pm Top

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death and Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet by M.C. Beaton

The Random CAT Challenge this month is to read a book that has been recommended. I had a book in mind but at the library Saturday I saw a display with an Agatha Raisin mystery included. My friend Carol loves this series and has been telling me for years that I should read one. I've never thought I'd like them for some reason but since this was a good time, took the first two (of 20 I thnk) home. Sunday turned out to be a miserable day weather wise, cold rain pelting down so I hunkered down inside and read that afternoon and evening. As it turned out, I liked them both and I'm so glad I can tell Carol I did.

Agatha Raisin has been the owner of a successful PR firm in London. At 53 she decides she wants out of the rat race and out of busy, congested London. Since childhood she had yearned for a cottage in the Cotswolds and deciding to retire, she bought the perfect stone cottage in a small village. Agatha's personality is harsh and hard, with a take no prisoners attitude. Not surprisingly she isn't well like in the village at first. Trying to fit in she enters a quiche in a local baking contest that will raise money for charity and her entry (which she purchased!) appears to have killed the buyer's husband. What can she do but "help" the police solve the murder? The second book features a handsome new vet who ends up dead after trying to hoodwink Agatha and other women out of money.

The books were published in 1992 and 1993 and are dated in some ways but well written and basically good light reading.

Random CAT - Read a recommended book


Edited: Jan 11, 10:14pm Top

Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jaimie Ford

This is my book club's pick for January and after reading half of it I've decided not to finish it.

Ford's previous books have had Asian protagonists who have experienced great strife in their lives, as does this, his third book. As a child in China in 1902, a child who will later be known as Ernest is sold by his mother to men who will bring him to America. Ernest is bi-racial (Chinese/British) and once he arrives in the U.S. (Seattle) no one wants him. After being shuttled around several years he is eventually auctioned off at the Alaskan Yukon Exposition in 1909 and purchased by a woman that runs a successful brothel.

The plot revolves between that period and 1962 when the Century 21 Exposition is held in Seattle. By this time Ernest is the father of two adult daughters and the husband of a woman who seems to be suffering from dementia. One of the daughters, a Seattle journalist, learns about the auction at the previous fair, eventually having reason to suspect it was her father who was the young boy.

You will see by looking at the LT reviews that my opinion is very much in the minority with some readers giving the book 4 or 5 stars. I just found it very contrived and the writing superficial. I was particularly irritated by the voice of Ernest as child, he does not have a child's voice and makes comments that a child with Ernest's background could not possibly make. Overall, this is a book that is just not for me!

Oh, I should have said that a boy child being auctioned did happen at the Alaskan Yukon Exposition but I have read that no one bought him and his fate is unknown.

Rating: DNF

Jan 10, 12:20am Top

Wow that is shocking and sad. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy the book.

Jan 10, 11:41am Top

>32 clue: - That one sounds quite intriguing.

>35 clue: - I've been on the fence as to whether to read this one and you definitely are nudging it in favor of my reading it. If I do, it'll need to be a library book and not something I buy.

Edited: Jan 10, 1:33pm Top

>37 LittleTaiko: I'd definitely say give it a try. Ford does come up with some interesting plots but his writing just pushs all my buttons.

Café Leila will probably end up on my favorites for the year list. I'm also wanting to get around to her memoir soon.

Jan 12, 6:43pm Top

>34 clue: - I have never read any of the Agatha Raisin books but I have watched the TV adaptation starring Scottish actress Ashley Jensen as Agatha. Very funny!

>35 clue: - Great review for a book that was a DNF for you.

Edited: Jan 15, 8:10pm Top

The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner

Lauren Duroughs is a student at UC Santa Barbara although her dad would have preferred she attend Stanford. She is also living in a dorm although her father wanted to buy her a condo. The Duroughs are rich, probably very rich, but Lauren wants to experience a different college life than her dad wanted her to want.

Lauren's sophomore year she decides to find a part time job so that she is contributing to her expenses. When she finds a notice on the bulletin board for a Literary Assistant wanted for a transcription project she is curious enough to apply. The job turns out to be a surprising project. Eighty-three year old Abigail Boyles's ancestor was Mercy Hayworth, a victim of the Salem witch trials. It's Mercy's journal Abigail wants transcribed. The diary was kept from January 8, 1692 through September 21, 1692.

Lauren, who works in Abigail's home, finds herself quickly drawn to Mercy. The relationship between Abigail and Lauren, and Lauren's relationship with her family are intermingled with Mercy's accounts of life 300 years ago.

I loved the "Mercy" entries and was always eager to get to the next but I thought Lauren and Abigail were rather tiresome, with Lauren overwhelmed with self-doubt and Abigale embittered over a decision she made when she was young. After I finished reading I looked at reviews on Amazon and LT to see what other readers thought and was surprised to see some say they didn't know why the book was considered Christian fiction. Neither do I.

A mixed read and a quick one.



Edited: Jan 23, 1:53pm Top

Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O'Nan

Manny is the manager of a rundown Red Lobster in New England. He comes to work at 11:00 A.M. on Dec. 22 just like he always does, ready to do the best job he can at his Lobster. It's a Saturday, always the busiest day of the week and he wonders who will show up for work that day.

In 12 hours the restaurant will close. Not for that day like all the other Saturdays through the years, but for the last time. In just 12 hours the restaurant will no longer exist and the employees will no longer exist either.

The book begins with Manny driving into the parking lot and it ends with Manny being the last to drive out. In between O'Nan doesn't make one misstep. His characters are genuine and the setting is one that I can see, smell and hear. It turns out to be a bad weather day with a snowstorm driving customers home. Since only a few come in the employees have time to talk. We learn about a shattered romance, about silly rivalries, about good intentions, about loyalty. Some characters have painful shortcomings and some have survival skills. Manny is a sterling guy just hoping he can figure out how to talk to the waitress that doesn't want him no matter how much he loves her and what to do about his pregnant girlfriend he's not sure he wants to marry. The story is touching because we know these people and wish they weren't caught up in this storm.


Jan 22, 1:45pm Top

>41 clue: Great review of Last Night At The Lobster. I thought the author did a stellar job with his characters and created a perfect time capsule by capturing this one night so thoroughly.

Jan 23, 3:22pm Top

>41 clue: I loved that one when I read it years ago. It's one that actually stayed with me. It's incredible how that one night was portrayed so well.

Jan 29, 5:51pm Top

>41 clue: - That one has been on my wishlist for so long. One of these days...

Jan 29, 6:54pm Top

>44 LittleTaiko: I know the pain...I think you'll like it when you get to it.

Jan 29, 7:55pm Top

Last Night at the Lobster is arguably O'Nan's best work - and he's written a lot of good stuff.

Edited: Feb 22, 4:31pm Top


February 8 is Kite Flying Day! Really it is, as amazing as that may seem here in North America.

In South America there are kite flying festivals this time of year so maybe that's where the idea for flying kites in February came from. Did you know kites were first used by the military in ancient China over 3000 years ago?

Where I live we may be able to fly kites late next month. It all depends on how strong the wind is then. Right now we can dream about what kind of kite we will choose for our first kite flying day of 2018. I'm an experienced kite flyer and if I say so myself rather good at it (and at getting them out of trees and at unwrapping them from wires) but if you need tips to get your kite airborne, see below.


In honor of Kite Flying Day, I'll be reading Setting Free the Kites by Alex George.


Jan 31, 3:56am Top

>41 clue: I have never heard of O'Nan before, but given your review and the other comments, I am now very intrigued! Way to sell a book. :)

Jan 31, 6:35pm Top

>47 clue: Can't picture anyone flying a kite in the weather we had today! It was snowing like crazy, and when it wasn't snowing it was really, really cold. I imagine conditions are much better in South America :)

Feb 1, 9:29pm Top

>47 clue: - I love some of the interesting days that we are able to celebrate! Apparently last Friday (or was it the Friday before that?) was National (or International) Popcorn Day. Someone in the know at the office arranged for popcorn to be available for anyone who wished to partake. ;-)

Feb 22, 5:33pm Top

>41 clue:
I've been meaning to read one of his books, so I'm adding Last Night at the Lobster to my wishlist - give me well-written characters over a linear plot any day!

Edited: Feb 23, 1:55pm Top

Setting Free the Kites by Alex George

This coming of age story begins when Robert is starting 8th grade in 1976. He is afraid of going back to school after summer break because he was bullied by another student the previous year. Sure enough, at the end of the first school day he's on his knees in a bathroom stall with his head in the toilet. Suddenly the stall door slams open and a new boy, Nathan, saves Robert from further humiliation and pain.

Immediately Robert and Nathan become inseparable. Neither has much parental supervision and they are free to roam their costal locale seeking adventure. Over the next few years Robert and Nathan experience the joy of friendship, tragedy in both of their families, and exasperation with each other. In these characters George has gracefully captured the bittersweet nature of teen friendship.

A moving and thoughtful book, the story is being told by Robert forty years after the friendship ends.

George has created a moody and atmospheric setting with beautiful writing and characters that can't escape from my head. I had read his first book, A Good American and put him on my new authors to watch list. I'm not in any way disappointed by his second book and look forward to his third.


Feb 23, 2:00pm Top

>49 rabbitprincess:, >51 -Eva-: This is the first book I've read by him but have another one on mount TBR I want to read soon. I'm so happy to know I'm helping booksellers out!

Edited: Feb 23, 7:29pm Top

I've pumped up the time I spend on the stationary bicycle this year from 30 min a day to 50 and soon to be 60. I read while I'm riding but I have to read small books or the bicycle handle hits them and a few have flown across the room. I may need to try an audio book again, when I've tried them before my mind wouldn't quit wandering. While riding I've gotten some series reading off the shelves and when I saw the doctor last week she told me I had lost 7 pounds and my blood pressure is getting low enough so that she may be able to take me off of medication soon. See what reading can do!

The Cross-Country Quilters by Jennifer Chiaverini

I didn't like the third book in the Elm Creek Quilts series. Several women meet at quilt camp, tell each other about some problem in their lives and after they go home we follow to problem resolution. Blah. The next in the series is about civil war quilts so I may like it better.


ROOT, Alpha CAT (J)

Edited: Feb 23, 7:30pm Top

The Jasmine Moon Murder and Chamomile Mourning by Laura Childs

Titles 5 and 6 in the Tea Shop Mystery series. Love the characters and tea room setting in Charleston.

Both 3.5/5

ROOT, Alpha CAT (J)

Edited: Feb 23, 7:35pm Top

Still enjoying the Agatha Raisin series, this is title 3 and I have the next 2 on the shelf.

>39 lkernagh: Thanks for the tip on the PBS series, I started watching them and they are good too. What a hoot she is!

Random CAT

Feb 23, 4:51pm Top

>54 clue: - Congrats on the exercise achievement! What a great way to get some reading done and be healthy at the same time.

Edited: Feb 26, 3:24pm Top

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

This was my book club book for February and although we usually have differences of opinion everyone that read this one, which is based on bizarre and shocking history none of us knew, agreed it was good.

For over twenty years Georgia Tann managed the Memphis branch of the Tennessee Children's Home Society. To most she was a well meaning woman who devoted her life to rescuing children who were either orphans or not being adequately taken care of. In reality Tann had created a network that included police, judges and others in important positions who made it possible for her to have a sideline of kidnapping and selling children to adoptive parents. Those adopting the children had no idea they were getting children that belonged to parents who were searching for them. At her death Tann had ten million in today's dollars. This history is so unbelievable and complex that I'm not going to write more here but if you are interested you can find the history online (or ask here, I've read a lot about it over the last few days).

Lisa Wingate has written over twenty books. Most have been Christian fiction or chic-lit/romance but this book is mainstream fiction. As in many books these days, there are two time periods, 1939 and the present. The book begins with a family, four children and their parents, living on a houseboat on the Mississippi River across from Mud Island (Memphis) in 1939. When Queenie, the mother, goes into labor her husband has to take her across the river to a Memphis hospital during a stormy night. The next morning the children are kidnapped from the boat...by police. The oldest is twelve. They are not taken to their parents as they think they will be, but taken instead to the Tennessee Children's Home in Memphis, a hell on earth. When children are blue eyed blonds as these children are, they are highly prized, which does not mean they are treated well, but that they can bring a high price.

In the chapters of the book that take place currently, Avery Stafford, a prosecuting attorney, has come home because her father who is a U.S Senator, has developed a health issue. When Avery accompanies her father to a nursing home appearance she meets a resident, May. Oddly, May has a picture in her room of four women, one of whom Avery thinks might be her grandmother. Avery can't shake the feeling that something is wrong. She begins to investigate and learns facts about her grandmother's past no one knew.

All of my book club members agreed the 1939 portion of the book is better written. The primary dislike was that Wingate gave Avery a fiancé as well as a love-at-first-sight beau. Here Wingate's romance roots are showing, the relationships do not enhance the plot in any way. In fact, it is distracting. As a group though we gave the book 4 out of 5 stars. Over all the writing is good and though the chapters on the Children's Home are not always easy to read they are riveting.

By the way, I looked at Lisa's last book and it had about 400 reviews on Amazon. This has over 5700 and is on the NYT bestseller list. Lisa has worked hard over twenty years and has come a long way. Kudos to her!


Book Club

Edited: Feb 23, 9:46pm Top

Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Marty Wingate

Pru is an American gardener working in England. Hired to do garden historical research she seems to be working for someone that doesn't want her to get the job done. After they have words, he's found dead and she becomes a prime suspect. This is the third book in the series and I liked the first one better. I'll see where this goes after she and her intended get married, he takes up too much plot time in this one.


BINGO (LGBT Character)

Feb 24, 10:52am Top

>54 clue: Excellent news! Great idea to read and stationary-bike at the same time.

Feb 24, 12:23pm Top

Congratulations on your bike riding and reading. What a great way to both stay healthy and get some reading time in!

Feb 24, 4:47pm Top

>54 clue: that's great progress. I've tried reading on a bike and failed to do either very well. I now step while watching a game show I enjoy. It's a pleasure/pain thing.

Feb 26, 1:39pm Top

>54 clue:
Wow, well done!!

>62 Helenliz:
That's what I do too, but I stick to mysteries so that I am too eager to figure out the killer to remember that I'm exercising. :)

Feb 26, 2:15pm Top

>58 clue: - I just read that one as well and over all enjoyed it. I didn't realize she was a romance write which does explain some aspects of the book that felt more out of place to the rest of the book. As you mentioned, the love-at-first sight guy with his over the top backstory was unnecessary.

Feb 26, 4:50pm Top

Nice job on the exercise! Before We Were Yours sounds really good.

Edited: Feb 28, 12:09pm Top

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

It's hard to believe I could forget to post Gone With the Wind! I started it in Dec and finished early in January. I may have forgotten to post because I don't have anything new to say about it...how could there be anything new?

I'm glad I read it but I don't didn't love it the way so many people do.

Edited: Feb 28, 6:58pm Top

A Sea of Troubles by Donna Leon

I always like crime solving with Guido Brunetti although this time not quite as much as usual.

A fishing boat docked for the night explodes on the small island of Pellestrina. Divers find two bodies inside, the fisherman and his son. Signorina Elletra, a secretary for Brunetti's boss, has relatives on the island and goes there for "vacation" because she might be able to overhear conversation that would be useful to the investigation. In the short time she is there she falls ga-ga in love with a young man on the island.

I thought the Signorina Elletra character was compromised in this 10th title in the series. She has always been the intelligent beauty in control of everyone and everything but was quite different here. This is probably one of the difficulties for an author writing a well established series, it's hard for the reader to accept changes to a character, particularly when they go from making excellent decisions to making rather thoughtless mistakes.


Edited: Feb 28, 12:07pm Top

All-American Murder by James Patterson

This turned out to be different than I thought it would be. I had heard James Patterson interviewed and thought it was going to be about both Aaron Hernandez and CTE. As it turned out, it was 99% about Aaron Hernandez and the lifestyle that brought him to suicide in prison at the age of 27. A well known Boston researcher is quoted as saying the Hernandez brain had more CTE damage than any 27 year old brain he had previously seen and a picture of the brain is included. That's about the extent of scientific information. There is no attempt to connect Hernandez's outrageous behavior to CTE.

Aaron Hernandez was an outstanding football player at an early age. Unfortunately his father died when he was in high school and his mother seems to have been unable to give Aaron the support he needed, she had some pretty big behavior problems herself, and his older brother was in college in Connecticut. Aaron did get support from a group of undesirables that led him to drug use and a disrespect of the law. They continued to influence him through the next ten years of his short life.

The book chronicles Hernandez's experience through college, the NFL and his drug fueled and volatile personal life including trial for 3 murders.

I don't want the book to be true because it comes down to a kid that didn't have the adult guidance he needed as a young adult. At least that's how it seems in Patterson's telling of the "facts."


Edited: Mar 1, 1:32pm Top


March 10 is Middle Name Pride Day! A middle name helps make your name unique and it was probably chosen with great care by your parents. Middle names often honor a special friend or relative. Do you know why your middle name was chosen?

My grandmother wasn't given a middle name so she gave herself one. She became Zoe Louise Williams and the older she got, she lived to be 93, the more she believed it was her legal name. It was quite a challenge sometimes! To confuse future family researchers, my mother had all three names cut into her tombstone.

In honor of Middle Name Pride Day, I decided to read a book from the TBR written by a writer who used both their first and second names. Well, that was easier said than done. Many women are using their family (maiden) name as their middle name (Sarah Addison Allen) and men often use initials (James A. Michener). Though I have 100s of TBR, I only found two authors using their middle names.

For March Middle Name Pride Day I'm reading The Woman on the Orient Express by Lyndsay Jayne Ashford.

Mar 2, 9:13pm Top

You've read several here recently I loved.

>69 clue: My grandfather was not named at birth. In fact, the family usually just called him "Moses" or "Baby Moses" until he named himself at about age 11. Supposedly he named himself after a traveling shoe salesman who visited his father's store.

Mar 5, 12:26pm Top

>69 clue: ohh, nice niche knowlegde. My middle name is Elizabeth (hence the liz bit of my username). Neither name is a family one and that was quite deliberate, apparently. My mother had a bit of a thing about the letter E, not having had any before she married. Each of my first, middle & surname had 2 Es in each. Yup, it's pretty random for a reason...
I was nearly Helen Eloise, which would have been easier to spell, at least.

Mar 5, 2:48pm Top

Interesting name/middle name stories! I don't have a middle name, neither does my husband. We get odd looks from car insurance agents and the like.

Mar 5, 4:35pm Top

I don't have a middle name either (neither does my mum or sister, or my daughter). In my case, apparently my mum thought that I'd never be able to spell my 1st name, never mind another one! In my daughter's case, we simply couldn't think of one! (my husband did come up with one eventually, but it was one of those neo-Puritan names and I vetoed it on the grounds that our daughter would hate us forever if we'd given it to her!)

Mar 5, 4:54pm Top

My middle name is really old-fashioned, because it's the same one daughters in my family have been given for a long time. My dad didn't have one, so both of my brothers have my dad's first name as their middle name.

>73 Jackie_K:
What's a "neo-Puritan" name? I tried the Google, but not sure I get it anyways.

Mar 5, 6:27pm Top

When my son was born my husband gave him his father’s name for his middle name. Before my daughter was born I had the idea to give her my father’s name for her middle name. At the time I thought she could initialize her first name and use her middle name to confuse people. I realized later that her initials were only one letter short of her first name. A bonus!

Mar 6, 6:59am Top

>74 -Eva-: There's an article here on Slate which gives a good idea of some of the more outlandish Puritan names: http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_vault/2013/09/13/puritan_names_lists_of_bizarre_r... (I just referred to it as neo-Puritan as it's like some of the less weird ones are making a comeback). The name he wanted to use was 'Perseverance' (which reflected a bit of our journey, and was reinforced by one of the messages we received after our daughter was born), but although I didn't hate it, I remember kids at school being teased for having slightly odd middle names and I just didn't want to go down that road!

Mar 6, 10:23am Top

All this middle name talk makes me wonder how my parents came up with mine. I'll have to ask the next time I talk to them. My brother got a family name for his, but mine is unrelated to anybody in the family as far as I know. I do know that they wanted to name me Brooke but didn't want me to grow up with the initials BO in the fear that kids would tease me. Instead I ended up with the initials SO with no teasing, at least not name related.

Mar 6, 11:05am Top

>77 LittleTaiko: One of my friends wanted to name her daughter Edie. Her dad was strongly against it, he thought the kids would call her idiot. That would never have crossed my mind. Her daughter is Casey instead.

Mar 6, 1:03pm Top

>76 Jackie_K:
Ah, gotcha. Perseverance is nice, but is sounds like the name of a ship, rather than a little girl. :)
I'm a Doctor Who fan, so I was thinking more along the lines of "Stormageddon." :D

Mar 6, 6:05pm Top

The middle name talk is fascinating! My middle name is Marie, which is not technically a family name...but both of my grandmothers are named Mary, so perhaps that was the inspiration. Then again, Marie was a popular middle name in the '80s, so maybe my parents were just being trendy. I'm just glad no one ever tried to call me Tina Marie!

Mar 6, 6:25pm Top

>79 -Eva-: Ahhh Stormageddon! :D

Speaking of Who-related names, Jackie, you could have middle-named your daughter Perpugilliam! ;) http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Peri_Brown
(also yay, I spelled that right on the first try)

Edited: Mar 7, 1:55pm Top

My first and middle names are both gender-neutral names that are still actively given to both boys and girls. My parents didn't do that on purpose, but when I get things addressed to "Mr. Last Name" I know that person doesn't actually know me.

Interestingly, in my experience, Americans are more likely to assume I'm a girl (correctly) while Brits and Australians are more likely to assume boy, unless they have spent a lot of time in the States. Canadians can go either way.

Mar 7, 9:47pm Top

>82 casvelyn: That's us Canadians - indecisive! Nothing fancy about my middle name. It's Joan and it was chosen as that is the name of my mother's younger sister.

Edited: Mar 16, 10:13pm Top

The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

Leonard Plumb, a self-made man, created a trust fund for his adult children. His intent was to provide some assistance for their middle years but not to provide them with a fortune. The market was strong the years after the trust's creation and it grew to be much larger than he had intended. His four children knew of the trust, called it "the nest" and anxiously awaited the 40th birthday of the youngest when the fund would be distributed. Unfortunately, one of them was involved in a serious accident due to his negligence shortly before distribution and needed a large sum for settlement. With the father deceased, their mother was in control of the trust and pulled money out to help. How they reacted, what they had intended for the money, and how the relationships changed among them makes for interesting reading. It made me wonder how knowing I had a large sum of money coming my way in my forties would have changed the way I lived in my twenties and thirties.

A well written book, The Nest was on several Best Books lists in 2016. I thought there was one story line that was unnecessary and cluttered the plot, otherwise I enjoyed it.



Edited: Mar 16, 10:15pm Top

The Woman in the Water by Charles Finch

I was disappointed when I learned this was a prequel in the Charles Lennox mystery series. As it turned out, it was better than most, if not all, prequels I've read. Lennox's life from childhood to twenty-three is more fully explained. I liked having his father as a character, even if only this one time.

BINGO (Story involves travel)


Edited: Mar 16, 10:14pm Top

Maman's Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen by Donia Bijan

After reading Bijan's first novel The Last Days of Café Leila I looked forward to her earlier memoir and have not been disappointed. Bijan's family was on vacation in Spain when they got the call saying it wasn't safe for them to return to Iran. In 1978 they left Spain and came to America, settling in California.

Starting over, particularly when it wasn't expected, was so difficult for her parents, particularly her father. He was not fluent in English and was never able to pass the exams necessary for an American medical license. Her mother, fluent in English, was able to begin working in a hospital quickly. Eventually her father would return to Iran periodically to work.

Not surprisingly Bijan's father's dream for her was a career in medicine. She tried but soon found it wasn't her dream. Instead, greatly disappointing her father, she became a Cordon Bleu trained chef, studying under the famed Madame Brassart. Deciding to remain in France for three apprenticeships, she eventually returned to California and opened her own award-winning restaurant.

Bijan writes with great passion causing the reader to care about her and her family. At the end of each chapter she includes Iranian and Iranian/American recipes, some of them her mother's.

I'm hoping to scrounge up enough time this weekend to bake my first of the recipes, Orange Cardamom Cookies.


Random CAT, BINGO (Memoir)

Mar 17, 12:03am Top

Those cookies sound delicious! You'll have to let us know how they turn out.

Mar 17, 4:43am Top

>86 clue: I've added that to my wishlist, it sounds right up my street!

Mar 17, 7:23pm Top

The Nest sounds like an interesting character study. The way you wrote the review, at first I thought it was non-fiction! It seems like it would comment on and raise a lot of questions about the motivations behind the decisions we make. I would hate for something like money to come between family.

Mar 23, 5:40pm Top

>54 clue: - Congratulations on the health benefits you have received from your stationary bike usage!

Glad you are enjoying the Agatha Raisin shows.

Interesting discussion about middle names. I don't know the origins for my middle name, so I guess that is a question I will ask my dad next time we talk.

>85 clue: - Prequels can be dodgy. Glad to see this one was better than expected. I seem to have stalled with my Charles Lennox reading.

Edited: Mar 29, 7:40pm Top

The Woman on the Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford

This historical novel takes place in 1928. Three women are traveling alone on the Orient Express to Baghdad, one is Agatha Christie traveling under another name. All three are battling a personal crises, primarily related to men in their lives. In Agatha's case her ex-husband is marrying again and she flees England to avoid the wedding.

The reviews of this book are high, on Amazon 1875 reviews average in a 4+ rating and LT readers follow suit. I'm giving it a 3, partly because it was so slow paced I wanted to scream. I read a lot of historical novels but I couldn't get into this one.


Edited: Mar 29, 11:23am Top

I'm way behind with my reading plan for the month, primarily due to wanting, and needing, to work in the yard. Is everyone having strange weather this year? We are near the end of our second record breaking episode of rainfall so I've been inside the last couple of days. That time has primarily been spent on housework.

I have a beautiful sugar maple in my front yard and the bark has turned a frightening shade of green. I've called an arborist out, he can't make it until Monday and I do hope he says it's just something like an algae that can be killed with no harm to the tree. I live in a neighborhood where we have a lot of old trees and they are slowly dying away. It makes me very sad, I'm definitely a tree hugger.

>87 cmbohn: I mixed the cardamom cookies and after putting them in the oven a thunderstorm caused the electricity to go out. It came back on about 45 minutes later but I didn't even try to salvage the cookies. I'm going to try them again though.

>88 Jackie_K:, >89 pammab: If you read The Nest I hope you like it. It's interesting to see how each of the siblings reacts to the loss of the money as well as seeing how they've made decisions along the way.

I'll finish one more book for the month, a nonfiction book on the topic of belonging by social scientist Brene Brown. Then, on to April, I always look forward to starting a new month of reading!

Edited: Mar 29, 7:41pm Top

I've had fun reading the comments on names. One of the unusual names, at least for these times , that I occasionally run across while doing family or local history research is Mourning. It was a woman's name, does anyone know the history of it? I saw on Ancestry that it has a German origin and is a misspelling of Morning. I question that though.

Another holiday I saw was Change Your Name Day. I almost chose that as a Challenge and would have read a book by an author with a name I especially like. I think of my TRB authors I would have chosen Ariana Franklin because I think Ariana is such a pretty name.

Mar 29, 4:16pm Top

>93 clue: oh, what would you change your name to if you could - that's a long, interesting and possible revealing conversation. As a teen I had a thing about the name Anastasia. It had a pale and interesting tragic heroine vibe, Russian princesses and the like, about it. Only as my married name begins with an A, maybe that wouldn't have been the ideal choice...

Mar 30, 12:43pm Top

>93 clue: I've heard some people say they often named a daughter Mourning if the mother died in childbirth or if another relative recently died. That's hearsay though rather than actual research. I don't know in which box my book by Lloyd Bockstruck on names is located. He may include something. He was head of Dallas Public Library's genealogy collection for years and was a walking encyclopedia.

Edited: Apr 1, 6:11pm Top

The Leisure Seeker by Michael Zadoorian

Ella and John have been married for sixty years. Now their health is failing, Ella has been diagnosed with cancer and John with Alzheimer's. Ella, who has to make all decisions now, decides they will have a last hurrah by recreating a trip they made decades ago, driving from Detroit to California in the same very old RV. "Long ago," Ella says, "John and I made up our own rules."

Against the orders of their doctors and adult children they head out, driving a planned route that will take them through nine states. While Ella may be the decision maker now, John is still the driver and a good one at that...he just has to be told where to drive. He may be a little hard to stop, but McDonald's has become his favorite restaurant and they're everywhere and he's happy to stop at them all.

I like the review from Booklist:" The Leisure Seeker is pretty much like life itself: joyous, painful, moving, tragic, mysterious, and not to be missed."

The Leisure Seeker was made into a movie starring Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland. From the reviews I read it wasn't very good, it appears the script was light years from the book. I'm going to skip it, this is too good to spoil.


Alpha CAT (Z)

Edited: Apr 2, 4:14pm Top

Braving The Wilderness by Brene Brown

The subtitle is: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone.

Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston. This, her fourth book, is dedicated to what she calls a spiritual crisis of disconnection. You've heard comments of this ilk before, but this isn't a book of platitudes but rather remarks based on research.

Almost every page is thought provoking. One section that jarred me was her account of speaking to middle school students about the differences between fitting in and belonging. One of the students wrote "Not belonging at school is really hard. But it's nothing compared to what it feels like when you don't belong at home." Examples students in the class gave were: Your parents being embarrassed because you don't have enough friends or you're not an athlete or a cheerleader, and Not being good at the same things your parents were good at.

She also makes some remarks about terrorism although she makes it clear she hasn't studied it, but she has studied fear and connects the two. She makes the claim that terrorism is time-released fear and that terrorism is most effective when we allow fear to take root in our culture. And so on, there's just a lot to think about in these 163 pages. I don't always like Brown's style, it can be rather manic but the points she makes are very good. I feel sure I'll be reading it again.


Edited: Apr 21, 8:41pm Top



There are lots of intriguing special days in April it would be fun to plan a book around. There's National Tartan Day, National Dolphin Day and Hairstyle Appreciation Day among many others. But how could I pass up National Library Workers Day?

Today I and several Friends of the Library members bought, basketed and delivered an array of sweet and savory treats to the main library and our three branches for our library workers. Two of our members are Coke employees and they took several cases of Coke products too. It was lots of fun, I go the main library and the branch nearest me often but I don't get to the other two branches as much. It was so much fun to see what they are doing.

So, I have the fourth Miss Zukas (a librarian) book on my shelf, Miss Zukas and the Raven's Dance by Jo Dereske so that's my Calendar Challenge book for April.


Apr 1, 9:33pm Top

You will let us know what the arborist says, won't you?

Apr 3, 2:20pm Top

>96 clue:
That sounds like a lovely read - BB for me!

Apr 6, 8:41pm Top

>99 RidgewayGirl: The arborist came out early in the week and said the green on the tree was a lichen and would not harm it. We have had record breaking rains since the first of the year so that may promote it, I didn't think to ask him that. There was another big problem which is that the tree has scale. I was shocked when he said that because I didn't know scale attacked anything but crepe myrtles. When he pointed it out I could see it but hadn't noticed it before. Scale will kill whatever it is on. I also thought scale was a disease but it's actually tiny insects that group together and make white "spots" on trees. He told me he doesn't know what has caused scale to be so bad the last couple of years, it is worse than any he has seen in his career. He's about forty, a third generation arborist, and has been out working with his grandfather and father since he was a small boy so I'm sure he knows. It has been so bad over the last two years that he has sprayed about 1500 trees for it.

He came out yesterday and was here about three hours spraying and feeding. He gave me strict instructions on how I was to water it during our very hot weather, June through August, and said if I didn't water properly it would become so stressed it might not survive in it's weakened state. He also said I needed to call a tree service out to remove a dead limb at the top of the tree and they will remove some mistletoe as well.

An expensive project but I really want to save the tree if at all possible. He thinks it will be okay if I do as directed, and I will!

Edited: Apr 6, 10:29pm Top

Perennials by Julie Cantrell

From Amazon:

Eva Sutherland—known to all as Lovey—grew up safe and secure in Oxford, Mississippi, surrounded by a rich literary history and her mother’s stunning flower gardens. But a shed fire, and the injuries it caused, changed everything. Her older sister, Bitsy, blamed Lovey for the irreparable damage. Bitsy became the homecoming queen and the perfect Southern belle who could do no wrong. All the while, Lovey served as the family scapegoat, always bearing the brunt when Bitsy threw blame her way.

At eighteen, suffocating in her sister’s shadow, Lovey turned down a marriage proposal and fled to Arizona. Free from Bitsy’s vicious lies, she became a successful advertising executive and a weekend yoga instructor, carving a satisfying life for herself. But at forty-five, Lovey is feeling more alone than ever and questioning the choices that led her here.

When her father calls insisting she come home three weeks early for her parents’ 50th anniversary, Lovey is at her wits’ end. She’s about to close the biggest contract of her career, and there’s a lot on the line. But despite the risks, her father’s words, “Family First,” draw her back to the red-dirt roads of Mississippi.

Lovey is drawn in to a secret project—a memory garden her father has planned as an anniversary surprise. As she helps create this sacred space, Lovey begins to rediscover her roots, learning how to live perennially in spite of life’s many trials and tragedies.

This was my book club's pick for March which I had failed to post. It was good, Cantrell creates realistic characters and writes about Southern traditions lovingly. After Eva comes home, her father decides the family would enjoy some day trips like they used to take. Among the places they visit are Eudora Welty's home and gardens in Jackson and William Faulkner's home, Rowan Oak, in Oxford. I've been to both and she describes them exactly as they are. She also includes a mention of Oxford's Square Books, one of the best bookstores I've had the pleasure to visit.


Apr 6, 10:15pm Top

Blood Sisters by Barbara Keating and Stephanie Keating

Blood Sisters is the first book in the Langani Trilogy. It begins in 1957 and continues into 1966. Three girls meet in a Kenyan boarding school and become inseparable. Hannah is the daughter an Afrikaner farmer, Sarah the daughter of a family that lives on the southern tip of Kenya near the Indian Ocean, and Camilla the daughter of a British diplomat and his socialite wife living in Nairobi.

The transition of Kenya to independence (1963) from Britain is a large part of the plot. The authors, sisters who grew up in Kenya during this period, don't shy away from the turbulence of those years. Each of the girls suffers through family crises, heartbreak and personal doubt as they mature, but they arrive at the end of the book stronger than ever.

It's been a long time since I've read a saga of this type and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Though almost 600 pages it held my attention until the end and I've already got the second in the trilogy in my bookcase. Thanks to DeltaQueen for the BB.


Apr 6, 10:23pm Top

>100 -Eva-: I hope you like it Eva, it's a fast read and one I was really caught up in.

Apr 10, 1:03pm Top

>103 clue: I am glad that you enjoyed the first book in the Langani Triology, it's been awhile since I read it but I remember that I enjoyed it. I passed the books along to my Mom and she really liked it as well.

Edited: Apr 21, 7:49pm Top

Season of Yellow Leaf by Douglas C. Jones

They were called lords of the South Plains. And that's what the Comanches were. Their men were hunters and warriors, feared by other tribes as they were by the whites - Spaniard, Mexican, or Texan. Down through the years of their free life, they waged war against a multitude of enemies and in many instances raided with the specific purpose of taking captives to be reared as Comanches, to become a part of the band, to assure the tribe's increase.

That's what Season of Yellow Leaf is all about. In the late 1830s a ten-year-old white girl is captured on a raid along the Edwards Plateau. This is the story of that girl growing up in a strange place. At first resentful, "Chosen," as she is named by the Comanches, little by little not only learns their ways but becomes one with them, suffering as the white man increasingly encroaches on their lands and decimates their ranks.

Published in 1983, I read this the first time about 1990 and this is now my third reading. Douglas C. Jones was a popular historical novelist, winning the Spur award for the best historical novel twice and the best novel once. An alternative history, The Court Martial of General George Armstrong Custer became a successful TV mini-series. Jones is credited with being accurate historically and although his books tend to be narrative in nature, he creates memorable characters.

By reading Chosen's story we can understand the day to day, year to year life of the Comanche people during the numbered days of their traditional culture. The term Yellow Leaf refers to the third of four seasons the traditional culture will survive.



Edited: Apr 21, 7:45pm Top

The Crossing Place by Ellie Griffith

I've read so many mentions of Elly Griffith on LT I decided to give the first in her Ruth Galloway series a try.

When a child's skeletal remains are found in a Norfolk salt marsh, the first question for the police is how old are these bones? They call on Galloway, an archeologist teaching at a local university, for help. The bones are determined to be really old, but Galloway gets pulled in to consulting with police on the cases of two missing children.

The mystery was good and I like Galloway's character although more character development in general will be welcome. I'll continue the series and see where it goes.


Edited: Apr 26, 11:07pm Top

Miss Zukas and the Raven's Dance by Jo Dereske

Helma Zukas is a professional librarian working at the public library in Bellehaven, Washington. When the cataloger at the Native American Cultural Center suddenly dies, Helma is loaned to the Center to finish their cataloging project. Not long after beginning to work there she begins to suspect the former cataloger was murdered. She also begins to wonder if she'll be next!

This is the fourth in the series, and not my favorite, but I love this character and will continue on reading. One of the fun things about this series that so far all of the books have a different setting.


Calendar CAT, ROOT

Apr 21, 10:14pm Top

>106 clue: I am pretty sure that I have read Season of Yellow Leaf many years ago, but as my memory is hazy I think a re-read is in order. Have you read Ride the Wind by Lucia St. Calir Robson? It is a fictionalized version about Cynthia Ann Parker who was kidnapped and raised by the Comanche. It's an excellent story as well.

Apr 24, 1:48pm Top

>107 clue:
I seem to have heard a lot of mentions as well - and have acted upon it, because I seem to have picked up the first 5(!) without having read even one. :) (I'm thinking library booksale, but who knows...)

Edited: Apr 26, 11:08pm Top

The Velveteen Daughter by Laurel Davis Huber

This is a novel based on Margery Williams Banco, the author of The Velveteen Rabbit, and her daughter Pamela. By the time Pamela was 11 she had become an international sensation as an artist. At no time in her life did Pamela care if she was well known or if her paintings were shown in the best galleries, but her father did, and she wanted desperately to please him. A fragile child, as Pamela grew older it became clear she was mentally ill and often pushed too far by her overbearing father.

Huber writes exceptionally well about relationships, both in the family and outside of it. As the sister of a person with manic depression, I also think she has created a realistic character in Pamela in the way she thinks and behaves. I appreciate the authors endnotes in which she identifies those situations in the book that are supported by research and those she created.


Edited: May 20, 10:45am Top


Since this is the first time I've posted this month I probably don't have to say that my reading hours have been taken over by RL responsibilities. I think I'm back to my normal schedule now but I'm woefully behind with this month's plan.

Still, I did choose a special day for my Calendar Challenge, National Candied Orange Peel Day, May 4! I love them! Although I like them in certain cookies and as decorations on top of my sister's fantastic orange cake, my favorite way to eat them is dipped in chocolate. They are very easy to make and can be frozen for a couple of months.

After I decided this had to be my Challenge for the month I realized I didn't have anything on my shelf that would be directly related to candied fruit. Imagine that. I did have Blood Orange Brewing by Laura Childs, so that's the pick.


Edited: May 19, 10:41pm Top

The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughn

The Great British Baking Show was clearly the inspiration for this book. A baking contest is being held by a high end grocery chain. The winner will emulate the founder's wife, Kathleen Eaden. Kathleen had been a baker with celebrity status, she not only represented the store but also wrote the British baking bible, The Art of Baking, published in 1966.

Auditions are held and five contestants chosen, 4 women and 1 man. The judges are the lovely doyen of British baking who has written dozens of successful cookery books and a younger, handsome male baker. By the way, he has steely blue eyes. Sound familiar? Actually, the judges and judging are secondary to the plot. It's the contestants the book is about with the focus on their private lives, why they feel compelled to bake at this stressful level, why they entered the contest, and how the experience changes them.

In the beginning I had a hard time keeping the characters straight and had to make notes but overall I enjoyed reading it.


Color CAT (blue), ROOT

May 19, 11:00pm Top

>113 clue: I love that show! Definitely going to have to see if I can find this one.

Edited: May 19, 11:10pm Top

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

From Amazon:

In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, the Osage rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.

Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. The family of an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, became a prime target. One of her relatives was shot. Another was poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more and more Osage were dying under mysterious circumstances, and many of those who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered.

As the death toll rose, the newly created FBI took up the case, and the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to try to unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including a Native American agent who infiltrated the region, and together with the Osage began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history.

From me:

This was on many Best of 2017 book lists last year and rightfully so. It is the unbelievable account of the murders of 24 people due to greed, racism and egomania. Murders that very nearly went unsolved primarily because the murdered were the wrong race. I encourage everyone to give it a try.



May 19, 11:24pm Top

Blood Orange Brewing by Laura Childs

The 7th title in the Tea Shop Mystery series set in beautiful Charleston, S.C. This series with great characters and a tea room setting provides fun reading.


May 20, 11:10am Top

Wow, I didn't know there was a National Candied Orange Peel Day! Impressed that you had something on the shelf to fit the challenge.

May 21, 1:05pm Top

>115 clue: I've intended to read this book for a while. It seems to be misshelved in my library so when school is out and I can read the shelves in peace, it'll turn up. Hopefully!

May 23, 3:25pm Top

>115 clue: That one does sound fascinating!

Edited: May 25, 9:49am Top

Chasing the Rose: An Adventure in the Venetian Countryside by Andrea di Robilant

This is an interesting book but one that would be most appreciated by serious rose lovers. The author finds a rose growing on his family's former Italian estate that has an unusual scent (peach-and-raspberry). The name of the rose seems to be lost to history. It was his fourth great-grandmother who originally had the rose planted and after finding her diary he thinks it may be one of the original roses coming from China. His interest in learning the rose's lineage leads him to rose experts and gardens all over Italy.

I'm rating this 4/5 because it's well written and the enthusiasm of rose lovers, some of whom have as many as 350 old roses (meaning as they were when they were imported from China) in their gardens comes through. It's also a lovely book, printed on premium paper with charming illustrations. While I found his quest interesting and the book well done, I don't have the serious interest in the subject it would take to thoroughly enjoy the book.

Random CAT (Spring), ROOT

Edited: Jun 14, 10:49pm Top

Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist by M.C. Beaton

I like this series (and the TV series) but this, the sixth title, was pretty darn boring. It takes place in Cyprus and that's part of the problem, Agatha's a more interesting character when she's in her little village where she's not always welcome,


May 24, 9:37pm Top

I have yet to read the Agatha Raisin books but I do enjoy the TV series. Ashley Jensen is a hoot as Agatha!

Edited: Jun 3, 11:15pm Top

Through a Glass Darkly by Karleen Koen

The easiest and quickest way to describe Through a Glass Darkly is to say it is an 18th century soap opera. A saga written in 1986, it follows the fortunes and failures of a noble family, the Alderleys, in the early part of the century.

Even as a child, Barbara Alderley was besotted with Roger Montgeoffry. A sophisticated, handsome man about 25 years her senior, they marry when she is fifteen. After a short time in London, they reside in Paris where the beautiful young bride becomes a sensation. Intrigue, betrayal and debauchery rule the time and their lives.

Compelling enough to keep the reader wondering what comes next with the Montgeoffrys and the Alderleys, it's on the other hand much too long (673 pages) and often repetitive. At about 500 pages I began scanning. Note that some readers could be offended by the sexual escapades of some characters which I thought grew rather tiresome.

I entered this book in my LT library when I joined in 2009! I can on only wonder how long it was on the shelf before that.


ROOT, Alpha CAT (K)

Edited: Jun 13, 2:50pm Top


So what is your plan for National Sauntering Day Tuesday, June 19? It's a day to slow down and take a nice slow ambling walk with no particular purpose in mind. I've been trying to think of a place I might like to saunter. If the weather isn't too awful on the 19th (heat factor was 107 F on Saturday), I think I'll go to the Nature Center and take a saunter around the small lake there. I might even grab one of the little boats and row around a bit. Slowly of course.

I don't have much on my bookshelf pertaining to sauntering but I do have The Daughter's Walk, a historical novel based on Helga Estby who in 1896 attempted to win a $10,000 prize by walking from Spokane, Washington to New York City within seven months. The family farm was about to be lost due to the financial crises of 1893 and the prize would be enough to pay off the debt. This has been a TBR since July of 2012!

COMPLETED June 12, 2018

Edited: Jun 6, 9:25am Top

Underfoot In Show Business by Helene Hanff

Helene Hanff is best known for her much loved memoir 84 Charing Cross Road. This book, also a memoir, was published almost a decade previously. This is about Hanff's life in the forties and early fifties when she is trying to become a playwright and writer in New York City.

The first half of the book is about the early years when just surviving is being successful. The last half of the book is about the period when she has begun to become established and I found it the most interesting. I particularly enjoyed reading about her experience as an outside reader, a person who is the first reader of a manuscript for a publisher. One of those she read was The Lord of the Rings!

This is not as charming as Charing Cross but still good. It has made me want to read and reread her other books!


Edited: Jun 14, 10:52pm Top

The Man in the Wooden Hat by Jane Gardam

This is the second book in the Old Filth trilogy. The first book, about Edward's and Elisabeth's life together, is told from Edward's point of view. This book is told from Elisabeth's. If you have read Old Filth (Failed in London, Try Hong Kong), you know the basic story although, not surprisingly, Elisabeth sees things differently than her husband. She has interests that Edward didn't speak of and lives apart from Edward mostly happily during the later part of their marriage. We learn that both have secrets.

The third book, which I plan to read, is told from Terrance Veneering's view. Terrance was a rival in both romance and career. I liked this book, but be aware it is not a stand alone, the first book has to be read to understand all that happens. In fact, I wish I had read this shortly after finishing the first.



Jun 5, 9:57pm Top

>125 clue: It never occurred to me to see what else she had written. This sounds like something I would enjoy.

Jun 6, 10:45am Top

>127 LittleTaiko: Same! I adore 84, Charing Cross Road but never thought to check whether Hanff had written other books!

Jun 6, 12:06pm Top

Enjoy your sauntering day!

Jun 6, 7:06pm Top

>125 clue: -I have only read the firt two books in Hanff's 84, Charing Cross Road trilogy(?) and have been on the hunt for a memoir to fill that Bingo square. Will need to see if my local library has a copy!

>126 clue: - Good to see your review for that one. One of these days I will get around to reading it... I just cannot seem to fit it into any of my challenge reading at the moment.

Edited: Jun 7, 10:23pm Top

>127 LittleTaiko:, >128 christina_reads:, >130 lkernagh: Yesterday I decided to read The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street again which Helen Hanff wrote about the one trip to London she was eventually able to take. It's only 144 pages so I read it today. I don't think when I read these I knew they and a third were considered a trilogy. I haven't read the last one so I'll have to get it.

Edited: Jun 7, 10:25pm Top

The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff

For 20 years writer and New Yorker Helene Hanff ordered books from Marks & Co. whose address was 84 Charing Cross Road, London. She and store manager Frank Doel became friends by way of correspondence and in 1970 Helene collected their letters in a bittersweet book, 84 Charing Cross Road.

Helene was only able to make one trip to London and that was in 1971 when the book was published there. Unfortunately, Frank had died by that time. The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street tells of her trip to London. Over the weeks she was there she met Frank's wife and daughter and made many new friends as well. It is sadly clear that a trip made then would be quite different to one made now. Helene, an admitted anglophile, walked throughout the city and shares her impressions of both London and Londoners.

This is a reread for me and as I said above, I had forgotten how good it was and how much I loved it! My copy seems to have evaporated and I had to get this one at the library but I'll be ordering a replacement for my shelves.


Jun 8, 6:16am Top

>131 clue: I loved 84 Charing Cross Road and The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street (I have them both in a single volume) but had no idea that there was a third volume, I'll have to try and find it. Do you happen to know what it's called?

Jun 10, 1:45pm Top

>126 clue: I really enjoyed the Jane Gardam trilogy. Your post reminded me that I had intended to seek our more by her.

Edited: Jun 13, 2:48pm Top

>133 Jackie_K: Jackie I have seen the trilogy mentioned on several websites including LT. I presume they refer to The Epilogue to the Duchess of Bloomsbury Street but I don't find that title at any of the used/rare bookstores I use or any of the book sites like Amazon.

There is another book though, Q's Legacy. On the Art of Writing by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch was the book Hanff used to guide her reading and she started ordering from Marks & Co. because she couldn't find some titles he wrote about in New York. So Q as she called him was the impetus of her friendship with Frank Doel.

Q's Legacy is easily available and I'll read it although from reading the reviews her trip to London is apparetnly covered to some extent in it too.

By the way on Wikipedia there is a list of the books she bought from Marks & Co, I don't think I've seen that before.

Jun 13, 2:54pm Top

>134 VivienneR: I'm very interested in the third book, Terry Veneering's story, but have a hunch the first book will remain my favorite.

Edited: Jun 13, 5:00pm Top

The Daughter's Walk by Jane Kirkpatrick

This book is a novel based on the life of Helga Etsby who accepted a wager from the fashion industry to walk from Spokane, Washington to New York City in seven months. She and her eighteen-year-old daughter Clara began the walk on May 5, 1896. If they completed the distance by the deadline they would receive $10,000. Helga needed the money to save the family farm from foreclosure.

The first half of the book is about the walk, the relationship of mother and daughter during the perilous journey and the adversities they experienced from nature and mankind. Tragedy struck the family during the pair's absence and the results were blamed on Helga. The second half of the book is primarily about Clara's life, including her relationship with her family, after they returned home. Because she supported and agreed with her mother's suffragist and women's rights philosophy, she became estranged from the family for twenty years.

Research for the book depended primarily on Helga's scrapbook secretly preserved by her daughter-in-law. The social history of American women during this time is made clear by Kirkpatrick. My only complaint is that the characters would have been more interesting had they had more depth.

3.5/5 ROOT, Calendar Challenge (sauntering)

Edited: Jun 13, 4:55pm Top

I've read two children's books, Once I Ate a Pie and Cat Talk. Both are by Patricia MacLachlan, best known as the author of Sarah, Plain and Tall and by Emily MacLachlan Charest. Both are books of poetry written by dogs or cats. The illustrations accompanying the dog poems are by Katy Schneider and the cat book by Barry Moser, they are both excellent illustrators.

My favorite cat poem, written by a white Persian (I think):

Princess Sheba Darling

I love me.
I have a beautiful face.
I have a beautiful coat.
And a beautiful fan tail.
I spread it out
Like a peacock
To show people how special I am.
As hard as I try, I could never be more beautiful
Than I am

And the illustration proves everything above is true!

Random CAT (written by something other than a human), BINGO (poetry)

Edited: Jun 13, 5:01pm Top

The Lady Vanishes by Ethel Lina White

Iris Carr is traveling home from a vacation alone when she meets Miss Froy, an English governess, on the train. When Iris wakes from a nap, Miss Froy is gone and doesn't return. Though Iris searches for her, she can't be found. Even worse, the other passengers deny ever seeing her. Add in two rather sinister passengers and it does seem something untoward has occurred. The book's slow pace aggravated me but at the same time added to the tension.

Alfred Hitchcock made a suspenseful movie from the book in 1938. I would like to see it again, I remember it as being really good.


Color CAT (purple)

Jun 14, 11:11am Top

>139 clue: I really enjoyed both the book and the movie!

Edited: Jun 30, 4:38pm Top

The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand

This is Hilderbrand's 2018 summer book. She has written 20 previous books, all romances, this is her first mystery. The wedding of the son of a wealthy couple is due to take place at their Nantucket home. Cancelled of course when the body of the maid of honor is found floating in the harbor in front of their home the morning of the wedding.

The crux of the book is not the investigation of the murder but rather the relationships and secrets among the primary characters. A good easy read with twists and turns.


Edited: Jul 1, 7:14pm Top

Dream of Orchids by Phyllis A. Whitney

Another book read on a trip, written by Phyllis Whitney the queen of gothic romance. Written in 1985 when she was 83, its not one of her best but still has a good dose of creepiness.

Laurel York, a bookstore owner in NYC, is asked to come to her father's home in Key West. She is pretty sure she hates her father, he left her and her mother when she was a girl and she hasn't seen him since. Her father is a very well known and popular writer and curiosity wins out. Not only does she meet her father but two step sisters as well. Let's just say it's an unusual household.

There is a lot that puzzles Laurel including how the death of her father's wife took place. She was told Poppy bled to death after cutting her wrist in the green house. Laurel thought that since the door was blocked on the outside there might be more to know. But as we know, knowing more isn't always a good idea.


Edited: Jun 30, 10:27pm Top

To the Stars Through Difficulties by Romalyn Tilghman

This was my book club's pick for June and with apologies to Kansas LTers, I had a hard time getting past the title which is the Kansas state motto.

A tornado has destroyed most of the small town of Prairie Hill, Kansas. Shortly after the tornado struck, Angelina comes to town to work on her dissertation on Carnegie libraries. Her father was from a nearby town, New Hope, and his mother had helped get a Carnegie library built there.

In Prairie Hill only the front façade of the library has been left standing. After Angelina's grandmother's old diary is found, it inspires women from both towns to come together and get it rebuilt.


Edited: Aug 10, 10:53am Top


Basically I hate snakes. That's just how it is, there's no cure. That may be a problem on July 16, National Snake Day. I assume they come out of hiding for the big celebration. July 16 is a Monday and I have to be out of the house that morning for an appointment. If you see a woman running from her car that day it's me.

Did You Know?

Earthworms were once believed to be a species of snakes. Gardeners killed every one they found, unaware of the beneficial effect of earthworms in gardens.

A little Snaky Trivia:

There are over 3400 species of snakes. (I didn't need to know this!)
Snakes are on every continent, except Antarctica.
Snakes eat insects, rodents and frogs. Large snakes can even eat small animals like small deer, pigs, monkeys, and small dogs.
Snakes swallow their food whole. (Then maybe they'll leave me alone, I'd be quite a challenge)
The longest snakes are a species of python, which can reach 30 feet in length. (Thirty feet???)
The heaviest snake, an Anaconda ,weighed 550 pounds.
The smallest snake is just 4 inches long.
Snakes shed their skin 3-6 times per year. (Have you seen snake skins used as hat bands? Creeps me out!)

Surprisingly, I have several books with serpent in the title on the shelf. Since I planned to read The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry later this year I'll pull it up and read it now. This serpent is in England, I'm good with that.

COMPLETED 7/31/2018

Jul 1, 8:33pm Top

>144 clue: - I am with you on hating snakes.... and spiders. I tend to creep out when I encounter a large spider, even if it is of the harmless variety.

Jul 11, 12:41pm Top

Good luck with avoiding those snakes on the 16th!

Edited: Jul 18, 11:07pm Top

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

Cecilia is rather intimidating to people that know her. A dynamo of efficiency and organization, she's successful in her own sales business, very involved in her children's school and activities, and always on top of it as a homemaker.

While her husband is on a business trip to New York from their home in Australia, Cecilia stumbles across an envelope with her name on it written in her husband's handwriting. There is also the instruction not to open it until his death. She tells him on a phone call she's found it and asks what it's all about. He tries to downplay the drama but makes it clear she is not to open it. Once he's home, and he returns early, she can see her discovery has had a damaging affect on him and their marriage and she begins to struggle with what she should do.

Though this is an age old scenario, Moriarty's talent as a writer of "women's fiction" is that she makes ethical dilemmas we would not think we or our friends could face chilling possible.


Edited: Jul 18, 10:49am Top

Hot Money by Dick Francis

I like a Dick Francis novel occasionally and this title was perfect for a bingo square. The plot revolves around a family in which the father of grown children is extraordinarily wealthy. Unfortunately for them, he wants them to provide for themselves with only a small trust from him until his death. When it becomes clear someone is trying to kill him, naturally his children come under suspicion.

I liked this overall and thought it was better than some of the later titles, this was published in 1988. Good for a weekend escape.


Edited: Jul 18, 10:54am Top

Why do I wait to post?? I have 2 more to write up but I'm out of time. Hopefully will catch up this afternoon!

Edited: Jul 21, 8:02pm Top

Reply to a Letter From Helga by Bergsveinn Birgisson

Yes. Perhaps I have lived with love, not against it. Love is not just a bourgeois romantic notion of finding the one true match who will fill one's soul so full that it brims over and splashes out uninterruptedly as if from some eternal pump. Love is also in this life that I've lived here in the countryside. And when I chose this life and pursued it and didn't regret it, I learned that one should stick to one's decision, nurture it and not deviate—that this is an expression of love.

This book is a letter from Bijan to Helga, the wife of a neighboring farmer with whom he shared a passionate, illicit love. Helga had written decades before after she had divorced Hallgrimur and fled to the city with her children, asking Bijan to join them. Now, though Helga, his wife Unnur, and Helga's former husband Hallgrimur have all died, he answers her letter by telling her how he has spent his life.

God alone knows how many times I've picked up this letter and read it. You should see how worn it is. It's as worn as it is holy to me. I learned every word of it by heart ages ago; I've laid it on my breast beneath my shirt and wept and sought comfort and strength in this letter of yours nearly my entire life, or so it seems to me; but it wasn't until just now, here on the banks of my grave, that I finally sat down and replied to it, dear Helga.

Translated from Norwegian by Phillip Roughton.


Edited: Jul 21, 8:20pm Top

Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo

Kate Burkholder is the chief of police in her hometown of Painters Mill, Ohio, population about 5,000. She has three fulltime officers and one reserve officer on her force. When a young woman's body is found in the woods it bears the same torture marks as those used by a serial killer that hasn't been active in sixteen years. Did he leave sixteen years ago and come back, is this a copycat, or is this murder unrelated to the others?

I like the Burkholder character. She is strong, capable and experienced. One of my favorite parts is when she and a cop from outside Painter's Mill are running through the woods and he acknowledges her physical conditioning is superior to his.

I would like to have seen a few things done differently. Castillo brought a love interest into Kate's life near the end and it was distracting and didn't seem plausible. Also, the murdered young women had been tortured and the descriptions of the bodies were relevant to the story so that was okay, but later in the book she referred to a case elsewhere in which children were burned alive. I thought this stood out as gratuitous and immature writing. Otherwise the writing was good.

This is the first in the Kate Burkholder series and I'll probably read the second because I have it. My opinion on this book declined as I got into the last quarter and I hope that won't be true of the next one.


Jul 21, 9:11pm Top

>151 clue: I need to put my name on the list for that one or I'll never get it at our library. I just would prefer to not have to stop some other planned read to get to it. That's a series I really want to try.

Aug 10, 10:57am Top

>152 thornton37814: I have this same problem with library books. I have two Overdrive books on request and 1 library book. The Overdrive books have been on request for about 6 weeks. All three will probably come in at one time but if I don't request them it will be months and months before I get them!

Edited: Aug 10, 11:32am Top

I failed to post one book in July:

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

I wasn't sure in the beginning I would like this book but as I got further into it I liked it much more. It's a rather complex plot and more than I can easily convey. It takes place in the late 1800s, primarily in a small English village. A sighting has taken place, or maybe not, of a large, frightening serpent in nearby water. Some say they are sure of it, some say misfortunes are due to it, and a few don't believe such a thing exists. Science vs religion is one of the themes but there is more to chew including the independence of women, the responsibilities of wealth and complexities of commitment. It's a lot to manage but Perry does and I'll read more of her books in the future.


Edited: Aug 10, 3:08pm Top

I'm further behind than I thought...here are 2 more I missed posting:

The Religious Body by Catherine Aird

Written in 1966, this is the first in the Inspector Sloan mystery series. There are now 24 Inspector Sloan titles, the last being published in 2013. This is a good start to a long series though of course it's a good thing to keep in mind it was written more than fifty years ago. I like the idea of a series being written and enjoyed by so many people over so many years.

A light mystery, it takes place in a monastery where a nun is found dead at the bottom of stairs. A murder or a mishap?


The Secret Life of Mrs. London by Rebecca Rosenberg

Read for book club, this was not for me. Mrs. London is Charmian London the second and last wife of writer Jack London. They were married from 1905 - 1916. Basically the book is a list from Wikipedia with some imagined dialog thrown in.


Aug 23, 8:05am Top

>154 clue: Nice review of this one. It's sitting on my the stack. I'm hoping to get to it soon.

Group: 2018 Category Challenge

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