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Lori's Year-Long Vacation from Meaningful Categories

2018 Category Challenge

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Edited: Nov 24, 2017, 9:20pm Top

Tired of compartmentalizing my reading, this year's theme involves vacations. While categories bear destination names, books do not need to meet any criteria to fit. Generally books will be assigned in rolling order, but I reserve the right to depart from the order, particularly if a book is read in or set in one of my vacation destinations.

For those wondering what types of books I read, my favorite fiction genres are mystery and historical fiction. Combining the two is like heaven on earth. I really prefer mysteries featuring detectives to amateur sleuths, but I read some of both. I also enjoy some literary fiction. I don't like cursing or graphic sex. I occasionally dip into other fiction genres. I read a good bit of non-fiction. Because I'm a genealogist, history is a favorite genre, but I dip into other things, particularly social history at times. I read some Christian books, mainly non-fiction. I'll be reading through the Bible again this year, but I'm not yet sure which plan I'll use. (It won't be the one from last year.) I enjoy cooking so I sometimes read cookbooks. Since I'm not compartmentalizing my reading, I may get to a few books I've wanted to read that never fit categories previously.

1. Charleston - This historic South Carolina city holds the honor of "top vacation destination" in my book! When I moved to the Great Smoky Mountains area, it became my "go-to" place to get away for a few days. I love its history, beautiful plantations and gardens, and the food!

2. Quebec City - A destination in French-speaking Canada. Louise Penny's installment set here reminded me of my life-long desire to visit the Chateau Frontenac. During my childhood years, my family owned a book featuring photos from all over the world. The Chateau Frontenac enchanted me even then and made me want to visit!

3. Boston - Another city filled with history! I enjoy walking through many parts of the city and catching the T to visit others.

4. Yellowstone National Park - Who doesn't want to visit the thermal features and wildlife in Yellowstone?

5. Cornwall - I wanted to pick a United Kingdom destination away from London. I chose Cornwall because its geographic coastline features enthrall me when I read!

6. Santa Rosa Beach, Florida - My trip to Grayton Beach State Park in this Gulf of Mexico town provided memorable relaxation! Great dunes there too.

7. San Diego - Perfect temperature all year long with a great zoo to visit. I always enjoy visiting the "cats," but you won't find me near the reptiles.

8. Amish Country - The exact location is intentionally vague. I enjoy visiting both the Pennsylvania and Ohio Amish Country areas. I love visiting the stores and restaurants as well as just driving through the countryside. Perhaps I feel a connection because my Amish ancestors lived in these places. Both my mom and myself always felt a connection to Charm, Ohio. When I acquired my ancestors' deeds, I discovered the very view we admired belonged to them!

9. Bahamas - Although tourism dominates many areas, the country still offers escape at affordable pricing.

10. Cork - I wanted to pick a destination in the country with no snakes. Thank you, St. Patrick, for driving them out! I didn't want to select Dublin, so I picked a city near the coast with some interesting things to do, such as kissing the Blarney Stone.

I know you've all wondered what I'm going to do with those books I simply can't finish. How will I categorize them? By assigning them to a place I have no desire to visit! Harlan, Kentucky fits the bill. I drove through there once and never wanted to visit again!

Edited: Feb 22, 2:16pm Top

Category 1: Charleston

1. Pusserina the Wondercat by Kenneth B. Melvin; illustrated by Linda Albrecht - completed 1 Jan 2018
2. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale - completed 15 Jan 2018
3. Dying in the Wool by Frances Brody - completed 25 Jan 2018
4. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter - completed 4 Feb 2018
5. The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore - completed 11 Feb 2018
6. Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell; illustrated by David Catrow - completed 21 Feb 2018
7. Grand Canyon by Jason Chin - completed 22 Feb 2018

Edited: Feb 25, 10:37pm Top

Category 2: Quebec City

1. Raised Bed Gardening: How to Use Simple Raised Beds to Grow a Beautiful Vegetable Garden by Dane Alexander - completed 1 Jan 2018
2. Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley - completed 17 Jan 2018
3. Hiding the Past by Nathan Dylan Goodwin - completed 27 Jan 2018
4. Oh No, Gotta Go! by Susan Middleton Elya; illustrated by C. Brian Karas - completed 4 Feb 2018
5. Folly by Stella Cameron - completed 12 Feb 2018
6. A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers by Nancy Willard; illustrated by Alice Provensen and Martin Provensen - completed 21 Feb 2018
7. Portrait of a Murderer by Anne Meredith - completed 25 Feb 2018

Edited: Feb 27, 5:22pm Top

Category 3: Boston

1. The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg - completed 2 Jan 2018
2. Mary and Her Litttle Lamb by Will Moses - completed 17 Jan 2018
3. The Potter's Field by Andrea Camilleri - completed 29 Jan 2018
4. The Gingerbread Man Loose on the Fire Truck by Laura Murray; illustrated by Mike Lowery - completed 4 Feb 2018
5. Keri Tarr, Cat Detective by Wendy Lement; illustrated by Jeffrey Scott Burrows - completed 4 Feb 2018
6. Better Off Read by Nora Page - completed 15 Feb 2018
7. The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie dePaola - completted 21 Feb 2018
8. In the Shadow of the Glacier by Vicki Delany - completed 27 Feb 2018

Edited: Feb 27, 6:33pm Top

Category 4: Yellowstone National Park

1. Strawberry Yellow by Naomi Hirahara - completed 4 Jan 2018
2. My Teacher by James Ransome - completed 17 Jan 2018
3. Life of Pi by Yann Martel - completed 1 Feb 2018
4. Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Jan Brett - completed 4 Feb 2018
5. The Story of Lucy Gault by William Trevor - completed 16 Feb 2018
6. Plenty of Love to Go Around by Emma Chichester Clark - completed 21 Feb 2018
7. Slight Mourning by Catherine Aird - completed 27 Feb 2018

Edited: Feb 21, 11:53am Top

Category 5: Cornwall

1. Funeral Music by Morag Joss - completed 5 Jan 2018
2. Buried in the Country by Carola Dunn - completed 8 Jan 2018
3. The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper; illustrated by George & Doris Hauman - completed 17 Jan 2018
4. 'Over the Hills and Far Away': The Life of Beatrix Potter by Matthew Dennison - completed 1 Feb 2018
5. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats - completed 4 Feb 2018
6. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead - completed 18 Feb 2018
7. Just One More by Jennifer Hansen Rolli - completed 21 Feb 2018

Edited: Feb 21, 12:07pm Top

Category 6: Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

1. Booked for Trouble by Eva Gates - completed 7 Jan 2018
2. My Baby Blue Jays by John Berendt - completed 17 Jan 2018
3. Planting Corn Belt Culture: The Impress of the Upland Southerner and Yankee in the Old Northwest by Richard Lyle Power - completed 1 Feb 2018
4. The Puppy Who Went to School by Gail Herman; illustrated by Betina Ogden - completed 4 Feb 2018
5. A Necessary End by Peter Robinson - completed 19 Feb 2018
6. Taking Care of Mama by Mitra Modarressi - completed 21 Feb 2018

Edited: Feb 21, 12:18pm Top

Category 7: San Diego

1. Where I Was From by Joan Didion - completed 1 Jan 2018
2. The Toad Who Loved Tea by Faiz Kermani - completed 8 Jan 2018
3. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books by Lucille Colandro; illustrated by Jared Lee - completed 17 Jan 2018
4. A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters - completed 3 Feb 2018
5. Rhymes Round the World by Kay Chorao - completed 4 Feb 2018
6. Old Bear and His Cub by Olivier Dunrea - completed 21 Feb 2018
7. Good Morning, Digger by Anne Rockwell; illustrated by Melanie Hope Greenberg - completed 21 Feb 2018

Edited: Feb 21, 12:39pm Top

Category 8: Amish Country

1. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith - completed 12 Jan 2018
2. The Balfour Declaration: Sixty-Seven Words, 100 Years of Conflict by Elliot Jager - completed 19 Jan 2018
3. Creole Holiday by Phyllis A. Whitney - completed 3 Feb 2018
4. Involuntary Witness by Gianrico Carofiglio - completed 6 Feb 2018
5. Destination: Antarctica by Robert Swan - completed 21 Feb 2018
6. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans - completed 21 Feb 2018

Edited: Feb 21, 12:54pm Top

Category 9: Bahamas

1. Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens - completed 13 Jan 2018
2. Laughter and Early Sorrow: and Other Stories by Brett Busang - completed 20 Jan 2018
3. Little Poems for Tiny Ears by Lin Oliver; illustrated by Tomie DePaolo - completed 4 Feb 2018
4. From Jerusalem to Timbuktu: A World Tour of the Spread of Christianity by Brian C. Stiller
5. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle - completed 21 Feb 2018
6. Luke Goes to Bat by Rachel Isadora - completed 21 Feb 2018

Edited: Feb 22, 1:40pm Top

Category 10: Cork, Ireland

1. Friends in High Places by Donna Leon - completed 15 Jan 2018
2. The Litttle Red Chairs by Edna O'Brien - completed 20 Jan 2018
3. The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall - completed 21 Jan 2018
4. Three Little Kittens by Jerry Pinkney - completed 4 Feb 2018
5. Sugar and Iced by Jenn McKinlay - completed 10 Feb 2018
6. Ladybug Girl and Bingo by David Soman and Jacky Davis - completed 21 Feb 2018
7. Murder, She Knit by Peggy Ehrhart - completed 22 Feb 2018

Edited: Jan 28, 9:41pm Top

Abandoned Reads: Harlan, Kentucky

1. Hidden Pasts by Clio Gray - abandoned 28 Jan 2018

Nov 24, 2017, 10:42pm Top

Awesome theme! I especially like your Quebec City, Cornwall, and Cork categories :) Looking forward to seeing how your challenge will work!

Nov 25, 2017, 8:25am Top

Hahaha! Love it! And, I really love Cornwall!

Nov 25, 2017, 9:15am Top

Nicely done, Lori! And your destination for abandoned reads gave me a giggle.

Nov 25, 2017, 11:19am Top

Nice to see you're here, Lori. Wonderful photos!

Nov 25, 2017, 6:47pm Top

What a clever idea, it's going to be fun to see what categories you place a book in. Enjoy your year-long vacation!

Nov 26, 2017, 7:11am Top

Gorgeous pictures that make me want to travel. Now. :) Enjoy your reading!

Nov 26, 2017, 12:29pm Top

>13 rabbitprincess: I had fun picking locations. I struggled with which ones to select.

>14 majkia: It was between Cornwall and the Shetland Islands. I decided I wanted Cornwall. Glad you approve.

>15 Crazymamie: If anyone else has been there, they probably feel the same way I do.

Nov 26, 2017, 12:31pm Top

Note made - not putting Harlan, Kentucky on the list of places to visit anytime soon. >:-)
Enjoy your travels.

Nov 26, 2017, 12:33pm Top

>16 MissWatson: Thanks. All the photos are public domain images I found at Pixabay. I could have rounded up a few I'd taken for some of the locations, but it seemed easiest to just find some which did not require attribution.

>17 clue: I think it will be interesting to see which books land in which categories. Of course, I have no idea what books I'll read. NetGalley provides far too much temptation for me when I have a huge stash I need to read at home.

>18 Chrischi_HH: Glad you enjoy them. I want to travel too. I just wish I were retired with lots of money to do so!

Nov 26, 2017, 12:33pm Top

>20 Helenliz: I think it is just such an economically depressed area there's a lot of "eye-sore" there.

Nov 26, 2017, 9:29pm Top

Love traveling so a travel theme is an awesome idea. Happy travels for 2018!

Nov 27, 2017, 8:29am Top

>23 LittleTaiko: Vacation seemed the way to go this year. It provided categories for non-categories. I can just pretend I'm vacationing in that spot as I read!

Nov 27, 2017, 9:33am Top

>21 thornton37814: Pixabay, ah yes! I'll have to remember that next time.

Nov 27, 2017, 9:37am Top

Charleston is an amazing vacation spot. I've been once, and it's one of my favorite vacations.

Nov 27, 2017, 10:21am Top

>25 MissWatson: It was quite easy to filter by image rights. I also made sure none I selected were Shutterfly images.

>26 casvelyn: It's a "straight shot" for me pretty much as I can hop on I-40, drive to Asheville, catch I-26 and stay on that all the way to Charleston. I can be in the greater Charleston area in 6 hours. In 6.5 hours I can be in the historic section or Mount Pleasant. I'll probably go there for a few days in 2018.

Nov 27, 2017, 10:33am Top

>19 thornton37814: Yep. I have been there.

Nov 27, 2017, 11:47am Top

Love your vacation theme, Lori , and the destinations you have chosen for your categories!

Nov 27, 2017, 1:08pm Top

>28 Crazymamie: I wasn't sure, but I thought it might be a possibility you had.

>29 lkernagh: Thanks, Lori. I forgot to distinguish between the two of us in the heading, but hopefully I'll remember to adjust it when the second thread comes up.

Nov 27, 2017, 3:44pm Top

Of all your destinations I have only made it to Yellowstone. A wild and wonderful place and a jewel of our national park system.
Have a wonderful reading year!

Nov 27, 2017, 5:12pm Top

Great to see you all ready for 2018, Lori. I would love to take a "road trip" to any of your chosen destinations so I am going to be hanging around here often!

Nov 27, 2017, 6:32pm Top

>31 mamzel: I've made it to several and only dreamed of others.

>32 DeltaQueen50: We may just all need to take a "road trip" this year!

Nov 27, 2017, 6:53pm Top

Love your theme this year, Lori. Lots of interesting places. And I'm sure there will be a BB or two waiting in one of those places for me. I'm going to try and get my thread set up tonight.

Nov 27, 2017, 8:23pm Top

>34 dudes22: I'll be looking for your thread too, Betty. I always find book bullets on your threads.

Dec 6, 2017, 12:44pm Top

Fabulous! I've always wanted to go to Cornwall. And Quebec. I'll be travelling right beside you.

Dec 6, 2017, 1:35pm Top

>36 VivienneR: Lots of other places I wanted to travel, but I decided to be somewhat reasonable in my expectations for this year! I know I have a couple of mystery series set in Cornwall in my wish list. The Gamache books, of course, are set in Quebec (at least most of the time).

Dec 7, 2017, 9:15am Top

Last night I went through the books on my TBR list longest to see which ones I no longer wanted, removing quite a few. I would like to read the ten which have been on it longest during the next year. Of these ten, one is an ILL, five are available in print from Knox County so I'll need to plan those reads carefully. One will need to be read at the genealogy library, probably over time since I doubt I'll take time to read it all at once, one is in print at the university library where I work, one is on ebook at the university library where I work, the other is an ebook through Knox County. Since none were available at the Morristown library, I know why I never made it to these.

I then went through the next twenty oldest books, identifying where these are. Five of these will be ILLs. Ten are in print at either the university library or Knox County or Morristown/Hamblen Public Library. (One is only at the genealogy branch so it will need to be read in person over time too.) The remainder are e-books and/or audiobooks available from one of the public libraries. While I don't anticipate completing all twenty of these, I'd like to make a dent in them.

It's time to get some of these off the list so I see something different at the bottom.

Dec 7, 2017, 9:17am Top

Look at you getting all organized - nicely done, Lori!

Dec 7, 2017, 9:24am Top

>39 Crazymamie: I don't know if it is organized or not, but I know I want to get some of the older ones off the list, but I want to be realistic about it. I'm not going to get to all of them. I'll focus on getting the top ten completed and rotate a few of the next twenty in. I'm sure I'll get several more recent things marked off, but if I know my plan for getting through some of these, I'll be doing well. Shiny new books are always attractive.

Dec 31, 2017, 10:24pm Top

Top Reads of 2017


5 star reads

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

4.5 star reads

The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng
The Unquiet Grave by Sharyn McCrumb


5 star reads

Britain's Tudor Maps: County by County by John Speed; commentaries by Alasdair Hawkyard

4.5 star reads

Bone Soup and Flipped Bread: the Yemenite Jewish Kitchen by Sue Spertus Larkey
The Stranger in My Genes by Bill Griffeth
The Finest Hours: the True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard's Most Daring Rescue by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman
The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Frontier Landscapes that Inspired the Little House Books by Marta McDowell
Common People: the History of an English Family by Alison Light
The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables: the Enchanting Island that Inspired L. M. Montgomery by Catherine Reid
The Country House Library by Mark Purcell


5 star reads

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford; illustrated by Ekua Holmes
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena; illustrated by Christian Robinson
They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel
Finding Winnie: the True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick; illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Plume by Isabelle Simler

4.5 star reads

Cats, Cats, Cats! by Leslea Newman
The Poet's Dog by Patricia MacLachlan

Dec 31, 2017, 11:10pm Top

2017 Book Meme

Describe yourself: The Dream Stalker
Describe how you feel: Separate from the World
Describe where you currently live: City of Secrets
If you could go anywhere, where would you go: The High Mountains of Portugal
Your favorite form of transportation: A Cruise to Die For
Your best friend is: Somebody at the Door
You and your friends are: Common People
What's the weather like: Thin Air
You fear: War and Turpentine
What's the best advice you have to give?: Do Not Say We Have Nothing
Thought for the day: The Fish Can Sing
How I would like to die: Death Overdue
My soul's present condition: Dark Night of the Soul

Jan 1, 9:31am Top

I love your non-category categories! It'll be fun during the year to think about where to put them (plus to look at pictures of beautiful places!)

Jan 1, 10:22am Top

>43 jennyifer24: Well, I'll probably just go straight down for the most part and put reads that match setting-wise in those categories they match. If I go to a location, whatever I read or complete while there will also go in that category. I'm not being very creative, but it works, and I get to read what I want to read.

Jan 1, 10:36am Top

Yay for reading whatever you want! And for creating the categories that make it happen :-)

Jan 1, 11:12am Top

>45 jennyifer24: That is a good thing!

Jan 1, 5:47pm Top

Goodreads offers some interesting stats:

Jan 1, 6:10pm Top

1. Where I Was From by Joan Didion

Date Completed: 1 Jan 2017

Category: San Diego (Subject of much of book is California and Californians)

Rating: 4 stars

Review: Joan Didion discusses her family and their migration to California. She separates fact from fiction in the stories told, not only about her own family, but also about her native California. Exploring bits and pieces from the 19th century to 21st, readers are treated to well-written essays showing the spirit of true Californians.My favorite essays, of course, were those exploring her own family or which included information on the family of her subjects. Thomas Kincade was the starting point of one of her essays. This one appealed to me because our family usually puts together a puzzle at Christmas, and it is often one based on a Thomas Kincade print. This was my introduction to Didion, but I hope to explore some of her other writings as time permits.

Jan 1, 7:58pm Top

I have two year-long reads:

These will be used in my daily devotions. The New American Standard Bible is one of my favorite translations because it adheres so closely to the original languages. I wanted a "Study Bible" and decided I'd like to get it in NASB because my 1977 NASB is pretty much worn out. I decided the Ryrie one was the best one in NASB out there, found it on sale at ChristianBook.com and ordered a copy for Christmas. The Songs of Jesus is written by one of my favorite Christian authors and is a daily devotional based on the Psalms. I've selected a canonical reading plan to use with the NASB, and I'm reading the book introductions and commentary this year. However, I'll also be able to spend a little time in my favorite book, Psalms, each day with Keller's devotional. A winning combination!

Jan 1, 8:11pm Top

Interested to follow your reads here. I worked in Yellowstone last summer and will be back in 2018.

Jan 1, 8:23pm Top

>50 mtdewrock: If I make it out to visit my nephew this summer, I'm sure I'll rent a car and go to Yellowstone again.

Edited: Jan 12, 8:33am Top

2. Pusserina the Wondercat by Kenneth B. Melvin; illustrated by Linda Albrecht

Date Completed: 1 Jan 2018

Category: Charleston

Other Challenges: AlphaKit - M & V

Rating: 2 stars

Review: I'd love to rate this book higher. I love cats. The illustrations are delightful. However, I must be honest. The poetry is painful to read. It reminded me of my efforts to write poetry when I was in about the 4th or 5th grade. I was quite proud of my creations, but they were not the compositions a lover of poetry would enjoy. I relied too much on rhyme, and some of them were rather trite. That's exactly the sort of reaction I had to the poems in this collection. They were generally written from the perspective of the author's cat, Pusserina. I wanted to like this volume, a gift of poetry from an author living in the same town as my niece, but the poetry did not appeal--even to a cat lover.

Jan 1, 9:49pm Top

Wow! What a game the Rose Bowl was! We didn't know who was going to win that one until the last play!

Edited: Jan 12, 8:34am Top

3. Raised Bed Gardening: How to Use Simple Raised Beds to Grow a Beautiful Vegetable Garden by Dane Alexander

Date Completed: 1 Jan 2018

Category: Quebec City

Other Challenges: AlphaKit - M & V

Rating: 3 stars

Review: The soil in my yard is very rocky, and I've heard a lot about raised beds. I would love to plant a small garden, and raised bed gardening is probably my only option. This is a very small e-book--probably more of a booklet if it had made it into print. The author shares tips on construction, what plants need to be planted together or separately, when different types of vegetables need to be planted, and more. It's not comprehensive, but it is a basic introduction. For a Kindle freebie, it's a fairly decent one. I still had questions, but I asked someone with more experience some of those questions as I was reading it. Now the question is whether or not I'll try to plant one this spring or not. If so, I need to see if a friend can build a couple of beds for me so I'll be ready when the vegetables requiring cooler soils can be planted.

Edited: Jan 2, 3:54pm Top

4. The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg

Date Completed: 2 Jan 2018

Category: Boston

Other Challenges: MysteryCAT (Nordic)

Rating: 3 stars

Review: An apparent suicide doesn't add up for writer Erica Falck and investigating police detective Patrik Hedstrom. The autopsy shows their suspicions are correct--Alex was given sleeping pills before being dragged to the bathtub where her wrists were slashed. As the investigation moves along, one of the suspects, who originally was cleared but whose alibi didn't check out upon further inspection, is found hanging in his apartment. It's a case where the investigator finds himself going back to square one more than once. Child abuse is an underlying theme in things relevant to the case and to the people surrounding the writer and detective. It's a good start to the series, but not the smoothest reading. I'm not sure if the problem lies in the translation or the actual novel. I'd still be interested in pursuing further installments to see if the series improves as I like the setting.

Jan 2, 4:06pm Top


The UPS man made a late delivery today from Santa, and it's already a hit with the boys. Barney got in on the action too, but he waited until the others moved along to give it a whirl. He's guarding it at the moment.

Jan 2, 10:24pm Top

Cat pictures always welcome!

Jan 2, 11:24pm Top

>57 hailelib: Glad you like those. I'm sure there will be many more to follow!

Jan 3, 6:35pm Top

Jan 3, 10:20pm Top

>59 rabbitprincess: They are adorable. Aren't they?

Jan 3, 11:00pm Top

I'll try to catch up on threads tomorrow. I managed to put my iPad in my choir slot with the music so I guess I won't be reading Nicholas Nickleby tonight. I will probably read a bit in the print book and then go to sleep. I need to "disconnect" a little tonight.

Jan 4, 9:39am Top

Hi Lori, it's good to see the boys enjoying themselves! My sister has a new cat since Christmas and it's been fun finding out what he likes.

Jan 4, 11:47am Top

>62 MissWatson: Cats will sometimes surprise you. These cats don't appear to like any food I cook, such as chicken, turkey, ham, but Brumley (my previous cat) loved them.

Jan 4, 1:13pm Top

5. Strawberry Yellow by Naomi Hirahara

Date Completed: 4 Jan 2018

Category: Yellowstone National Park

Challenges: Category Challenge - "Ack! I've Been Hit"

Rating: 2 stars

Review: Mas Arai, a Japanese-American gardener who survived Hiroshima, returns to Watsonville, California to attend his cousin Shug's funeral. Then a woman turns up dead, apparently poisoned, and Mas finds himself in the midst of a murder investigation. Some of the plot deals with strawberries and hybridization. I had a difficult time getting into this. I never connected with any of the individuals. Perhaps my difficulty stemmed from not reading earlier installments. Perhaps the choppy English spoken by the Japanese-Americans contributed as well. I almost abandoned this one several times, but I convinced myself the year is too young to abandon one. I'll pass on the rest of the series.

Edited: Jan 4, 2:36pm Top

Cat pictures! My favourite. That toy will be a big hit!

Jan 4, 2:51pm Top

>64 thornton37814:, that was a disappointment for you. I'm struggling with my current read too. If it was a library book I would just abandon it. Seeing as it is a book owned by my father-in-law I feel I must push on for a while longer, hoping it will improve.

Jan 4, 5:04pm Top

Happy New Year, Lori. I am also struggling a little with my current read of The Scalp Hunters as it is very dated and the author seems to love throwing in some outlandish actions. It looks like your "boys" were very good as that is one nifty present that Santa gave them!

Jan 4, 5:52pm Top

>65 VivienneR: It has been, especially at night while I'm trying to sleep.

>66 Roro8: Fortunately, it was only 237 pages so I could keep pushing, knowing it would end soon.

>67 DeltaQueen50: Seems everyone is struggling with a read early on. Let's hope they only improve. The kitties were even better than that. They also got another big tree, but their mommy has to put it together first. I think I've finally decided to put it in the living room with the other tree. I've got a tiny bit of rearranging to do, but I can do that as soon as I get over the "crud" that's zapping me. I would have loved to do it while I'm off this week, but I've got a 3 day weekend coming up MLK weekend, so I can plan to do it that weekend.

Edited: Jan 12, 8:37am Top

6. Funeral Music by Morag Joss

Date Completed: 5 Jan 2018

Category: Cornwall

Challenges: British Author Challenge - Debut Novels

Other Challenges: AlphaKit - M & V

Rating: 3 stars

Review: Sara Selkirk, a cellist, removed to Bath after melting down in a Paris performance. She witnesses the museum director's floating corpse the morning after a charity performance at the Pump Room. Plenty of persons possessed a motive, as Sara herself witnessed the previous evening. Detective Sergeant Bridger and DCI Andrew Poole investigate. Selkirk knows Andrew as her cello student. The plot, especially the ending, was a bit weak in this combination cozy/police procedural novel. I think changing the voice from Sara to Poole, setting the book firmly in the police procedural genre, would strengthen the novel. I liked the novel okay, but probably not enough to continue with the series.

Jan 5, 3:27pm Top

Happy New Year Lori. I love the open categories. One of my friends just re-located to the Charleston area to teach in a Doctoral program. I've been invited to visit in the spring. I've never been to the area. My sister dreams of our mother, her and me retiring to Charleston and living together. Oy.
The cats look very happy with their Christmas present.

Jan 5, 4:06pm Top

>70 VioletBramble: The boys love their toy! I hope you love Charleston as much as I do. I like Magnolia Plantation the best of the plantations. I love walking around White Point Gardens, the Battery, and the entire historic section. Lots of great places to eat. I've tried several of the Charleston area places featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and found them to be really good.

Jan 5, 4:15pm Top

I'll be attending a funeral this evening. Our youth pastor and his wife lost their three-month-old baby, who spent most of his life in NICU, earlier this week. They requested the youth choir I help lead sing at the funeral. I got to visit with them a few minutes on Wednesday. My heart goes out to them. They were both students at the university where I work. I knew her pretty well because she came in the library quite a bit. I was in tears after talking with her Wednesday, and I'm certain I'll be crying tonight as well.

Jan 6, 12:20am Top

>42 thornton37814: - Great meme answers! I love the answer for the though for the day... that did give me a giggle!

>56 thornton37814: - That looks like a lot of fun, and I am not cat!

>72 thornton37814: - My deepest condolences on their loss.

Jan 6, 8:58am Top

>73 lkernagh: I had one other option for the thought for the day, but that one was my favorite for the laugh value. Thanks. I know Rob and Lindsay and their other children appreciate thoughts and prayers.

Jan 6, 9:20am Top

We have a new (opened in early 2017, but I didn't hear about it until fall) "occasionally open" remainder bookstore in Knoxville that Carrie and I plan to check out today. Here's their Facebook blurb:

Come out this weekend to Scruffy City Books' first BIG sale of 2018 and see our NEW LOCATION!

It's right NEXT DOOR to our old location but there is no warehouse area with the store. Everything is in a regular store area. (Yay!)

The great news is that we have MORE ROOM for MORE BOOKS, CDs, AUDIOBOOKS and more media coming soon!

We've still got a lot of work to do to get ready for this weekend but it's going to be awesome! We can't wait for everyone to see it...

As always, the vast majority of books in our store are $3 or less!

Kids' books start at just $1 each... and we still have our Kids' Books Bulk Bins where you can FILL A BAG for just $10!

Audiobooks are just $3 each!

Music CDs are just $3 each and we have thousands to choose from and we keep adding more...

A portion of every sale is donated to The Knoxville Dream Center's Title I School outreach at local schools.

Tag a book-loving friend and share this post with as many people as you can! Bring all of your book lovers to stock up for the winter with great books at a great prices...

Thanks so much for your support of Scruffy City Books!

We are open Saturday, January 6 from 9-5 and Sunday, January 7 from Noon-5. You can find us at 2700 Hoitt Ave., Knoxville, TN 37917. If you need directions, use Google Maps, which brings you right to our door.

Jan 6, 10:50am Top

>75 thornton37814: I love discovering new bookshops. Sounds like a great place!

Jan 6, 3:00pm Top

Let us know if you like the store and find some great deals.

Jan 6, 5:26pm Top

>69 thornton37814: - I have one of her books Puccini's Ghost but it's not part of that series and written later in her career, so I hope it's better than the one you read.

Jan 6, 6:12pm Top

Interesting categories! I've always wanted to visit Charleston, and now I'm curious about Quebec City, too. Hope you have a great year of "vacation" reading!

Jan 6, 7:52pm Top

>76 virginiahomeschooler: >77 hailelib: I was a bit disappointed. I thought it would have more remainders. It turned out to be more of a used bookstore than anything, I did, however, find some great selections in the "stuff as many children's books into the bag as you can for $10" bins. Some were used books, but a lot were copies of books distributed through Dolly's Imagination Library in really good shape. Some were still in shrink wrap. Others had mailing labels on them. I wonder if they were some returned where children moved, lacking forwarding addresses. I noticed a lot of Hispanic names among them. Some were children's classics; others were just "fun" reads for kids. I filled a plastic bag. I'll probably read a few and then forward them to my preschool aged grand nephew.

>78 dudes22: Let's hope so. It's a great title anyway.

>79 jlshall: I hope I do have a nice reading "vacation." You definitely need to visit Charleston. I hope I get to visit Quebec City at some point. I doubt I'd be able to afford the Chateau Frontenac, but I can at least visit it.

Jan 6, 9:31pm Top

What handsome men your boys have become! It's hard to believe they're all grown up. They were kittens just yesterday! Clearly, you need to post pictures of them more often.

I read The Ice Princess a few years ago and I remember it because I thought it was so badly plotted.

Jan 6, 10:01pm Top

>81 RidgewayGirl: It's hard to capture all 3 at once. I was probably generous in granting The Ice Princess 3 stars. I came close to giving it 2.5.

Jan 7, 8:39pm Top

7. Booked for Trouble by Eva Gates

Date Completed: 7 Jan 2018

Category: Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

Rating: 3.5 stars

Review: Lucy's mother Suzanne, visiting from Boston, becomes a suspect when Karen Kivas dies on lighthouse property following a book group both attended. Suzanne and Karen exchanged heated words in the presence of most of the club, but only Lucy witnessed them making up. A stolen neckless, found in Suzanne's bag, adds to the drama. Lucy remains in a love triangle with the police officer Butch and mayor Connor. A mysterious "gray woman" keeps turning up in the library. Other returning characters includes Lucy's aunt, uncle, cousins, the library staff, library board members, and Charles the library cat. I find the series light and enjoyable for audio book listening while driving. The mystery itself was not all that complicated to figure out, but Lucy followed other hunches as well.

Jan 8, 2:09pm Top

8. The Toad Who Loved Tea by Faiz Kermani

Date Completed: 8 Jan 2018

Category: San Diego

Rating: 4 stars

Review: Tungtang the Toad sets off from Muddy River to town where she discovers a tea shop and discovers she loves it and can't get enough of it. However, the tea shop receives complaints because of muddy tables, missing tea, and missing pastries. Will the owners figure out what is happening? Will the toad continue to enjoy tea? You'll need to read this delightful book for children to find out. I received an advance electronic copy from the publisher through NetGalley with expectations of an honest review in exchange.

Edited: Jan 13, 6:52pm Top

9. Buried in the Country by Carola Dunn

Date Completed: 8 Jan 2018

Category: Cornwall

Rating: 2 stars

Review: I erred in reading this fourth series installment before reading previous ones. A confusing array of characters ended up at a hotel. I had a vague idea Eleanor might be the series sleuth, but I was uncertain. Adding confusion to what I perceived would be a cozy series was a plot suggesting she worked in intelligence, tracking spies. Further adding to the confusion was a niece working as a police detective assigned to the same detail as she was. The plot itself was difficult to follow, introducing threads perhaps just for the purpose of making the work of historical fiction with an early 1970s setting, for without the young Rhodesians, the novel's timing could be any time after vans were manufactured. A chase of the suspects in the fog was perhaps the most exciting bit of the novel. The ending fell short. The book jacket and location caused me to believe this would be an enjoyable cozy jaunt, but they misled. The author needs to decide what mystery genre she wishes to write and stick with one. A combination cozy, police procedural, and espionage set in Cornwall does not work.

Jan 9, 9:28pm Top

>84 thornton37814:

Sounds like a good book to read with young children.

Jan 9, 10:07pm Top

>86 hailelib: It's a cute one. I just stumbled across it while browsing NetGalley and thought it sounded fun!

Jan 10, 12:21pm Top

>84 thornton37814: - That one sounds so cute! There's a part of me that was wishing it was an adult book too!

Jan 10, 3:21pm Top

>88 LittleTaiko: It can be an adult book if you read it! I suppose I made it an adult book by reading it.

Jan 12, 9:21pm Top

10. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Date Completed: 12 Jan 2018

Category: Amish Country

Other Challenges: British Author Challenge - Debut Novels

Rating: 3 stars

Review: The year is 1934. The Mortmain family resides in a castle in England. Daughter Cassandra narrates the novel at least partially through her diary entries. Her father has a long-term lease on the property which was just inherited my some Americans. Cassandra's father wrote one successful novel but quit writing. No one is quite certain why. Older sister Rose is falling in love with one of the Americans. The family wants to see their father get back to work. I did not love tthis as much as some did. I really never connected with the characters. I disliked the father who took no responsibility for providing for his family, leaving them very poor and not meeting his financial commitments. I disliked the way the girls' stepmother enabled him. Not quite what I expected, but it was an okay read.

Jan 13, 7:53am Top

>90 thornton37814: - I have this in my TBR pile and since I've been thinking of doing a purge, I think this one will be leaving. Not sure what made me pick it up in the first place as your description does not make it seem appealing.

Jan 13, 10:44am Top

>90 thornton37814: Other people really loved it. I just didn't connect. Maybe it's because I read it later in life rather than "growing up" with it. I just wanted that father to get out and take a job.

Jan 13, 1:43pm Top

Yes, I think that I Capture the Castle needs to be read as a teenager first.

Jan 13, 4:42pm Top

>93 RidgewayGirl: So your vote is it was an age thing. I wondered if that might be my problem.

Edited: Jan 13, 6:53pm Top

11. Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens

Date Completed: 13 Jan 2018

Category: Bahamas

Challenges: Group read

Rating: 3.5 stars

Review: After his father dies, Nicholas Nickleby must go to work to support his mother and sister. The family is at the mercy of the "wicked uncle." Nicholas, at Ralph's arrangement, takes a position with Dothebys, a boarding school run by Mr. Squeers. Squeers and his equally corrupt wife regularly abuse the boys in their charge. After an incident, Nicholas leaves for London, being joined by Smike, one of the older boys. Newman Noggs, an employee of Ralph Nickleby,delivers a message to Nicholas. Life, love, and corruption continue to abound in the novel. Like most of Dickens' novels, social problems of the day are prominent. Enjoyable, but probably not Dickens' best work.

Jan 13, 11:24pm Top

>94 thornton37814: Yes, I also consider I Capture the Castle a book for teenage girls. I read it in my 30s and liked it well enough. I think it was mainly because of Cassandra's summer solstice ritual. You rarely see anyone celebrating the solstices in fiction.

Jan 14, 12:38am Top

I tried Nicholas Nickleby and just couldn't get into it. I don't know if I'll give it another try or not.

Jan 14, 3:36pm Top

>96 VioletBramble: As I stated I wondered if my age was a factor in the appreciation, and it's obvious, from comments, it likely was. I didn't pay that much attention to the solstice ritual, as I think they are more common in places with Celtic influences, and I thought she might be close enough to be influenced.

>97 cmbohn: I wouldn't worry too much. It's not my favorite Dickens book, and I feel few people would hold it in such esteem. If it doesn't work for you, move on to something else.

Jan 15, 10:08am Top

Don't try to make a cat snuggle if he doesn't volunteer to do so.

Jan 15, 11:18am Top


Jan 15, 11:20am Top

>90 thornton37814: Actually, I read that one for the first time just a few years ago, and I loved it. The writing was beautiful, and I adored the narrative of the main character.

>99 thornton37814: Ouch! Hoping it heals quickly, Lori!

Jan 15, 11:23am Top

>100 MissWatson: Thanks!

>101 Crazymamie: Glad you liked it better than I did. It isn't as painful as it looks, and I'm quite happy the eye was closed at the time!

Jan 15, 11:51am Top

>102 thornton37814: Yes, it does look painful. What a disaster it could have been!

Jan 15, 2:52pm Top


Jan 15, 7:49pm Top

>103 clue: I'm certainly glad it wasn't worse.

>104 VivienneR: It still hurts some, mostly when I blink. I've been able to use Neosporin on it as the cream version I had on hand does not issue dire warning about using it around the eyes.

Jan 15, 7:53pm Top

It's a wonder we love them so much. I hope your eye heals quickly. No point asking the cat to feel remorse!

Jan 15, 8:04pm Top

12. Friends in High Places by Donna Leon

Date Completed: 15 Jan 2018

Category: Cork, Ireland

Rating: 4 stars

Review: When an apparently honest official in the corrupt Ufficio Catasto visits Brunetti's home to inform him that his apartment does not exist in the official records, Brunetti wants to solve the problem himself rather than relying upon Paola's father for a favor. When the young man, after learning Brunetti's real position calls him back, Brunetti suggests he needs to call him from a pay phone rather than from the mobile line he's used. The young man does not return the call, and the next day he ends up dead.

In the meantime, Vice Questore Patta's son's involvement in drugs and absence from the absences leaves Brunetti in charge. He begins to unravel a loan scheme which leaves moneylenders rich in lands but paying very little in taxes. When the only potential witnesses end up dead in the same building from which the young man "fell" to his death, Brunetti is certain he's closing in.

I don't want to give away any more of the plot. The ending is probably not the ending those persons who want justice completely served will appreciate. It's rather abrupt, but probably more reflective of what would occur in a situation as corrupt as the one in which Brunetti finds himself. The narrator David Colacci does a commendable job. This is the first time I've listened to one of the Brunetti mysteries, but it will not be the last. They work very well in audio format, holding the reader's attention. This is one of the better installments in the series.

Jan 15, 10:10pm Top

13. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale

Date Completed: 15 Jan 2018

Category: Charleston

Challenges: Non-Fiction: Prize Winning Books

Rating: 4 stars

Review: Four-year-old Saville Kent is murdered in his own home. Although originally placed in the hands of local police, the matter is turned over to Jack Whicher who almost immediately suspects daughter Constance of the crime. However, charges do not stick. Whicher is discredited. The crime is confessed a few years later. The crime is interesting because of its influence on the new detective genre of fiction. Both Wilkie Collins in The Moonstone and Charles Dickens in his unfinished work The Mystery of Edwin Drood used the real case in the village of Road, Wiltshire, now Rode, Somerset, as a starting point in their works. The author informs readers of the future lives of the major characters in the case. While it is interesting, the writing is not flawless. I dislike the "hidden endnotes" employed in this work. Publishers need to quit using them. Give credit where credit is due, and let the reader know credit is being given.

Jan 16, 12:39am Top

I really enjoyed this one when I read it a few years ago but I don't remember the hidden endnotes. What did you mean by that?

Jan 16, 10:54am Top

>109 cmbohn: As you read the book, no numbers indicate footnotes are present. You don't know about them until you reach the end of the book and find them. Usually at the back of the book, they show a piece of the text and then provide the references. I detest this practice!

Jan 17, 9:13am Top

Some sad news about the loss of some Stephen King manuscripts due to a broken water main: http://bangordailynews.com/2018/01/16/business/original-stephen-king-manuscripts...

Jan 17, 2:40pm Top

Found you! Love the new year's toy pictures!!! Lucky cats. And your frog & tea book looks fun.

Jan 17, 3:34pm Top

>112 cammykitty: Glad you found me. The boys are enjoying my snow day. I really don't want to go back to work tomorrow, but I'm certain we won't be so lucky to get another day off from the small amount we received. A delay of an hour or two is the best I can hope to receive, and I doubt we'll get that.

Edited: Jan 17, 4:31pm Top

14. Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Date Completed: 17 Jan 2018

Category: Quebec City

Challenges: ScaredyKIT - Gothic Theme & Group Read

Rating: 5 stars

Review: Victor Frankenstein creates a monster that takes away everything he loves. The book's subtitle, "or , the Modern Prometheus," provides a clue to readers of Shelley's intent in writing the book. The Hogarth Shakespeare series features modern-day retellings of Shakespeare's classics; Frankenstein retells the story of Prometheus. She used elements of gothic and romantic novels in her story. Even today, 200 years after its publication, the novel enthralls readers. Readers are challenged in their thoughts concerning appearance, science, justice, religion, and more. More students should be challenged to read and discuss the book instead of formulating their ideas of Frankenstein's monster based on movies.

Jan 17, 4:40pm Top

I just got the call from the school system that school is canceled again tomorrow. I put it on speakerphone so the children could rejoice. My rejoicing was somewhat less than theirs, but it is nice not to set an alarm.

Jan 17, 4:57pm Top

>115 RidgewayGirl: We won't be so fortunate here. You all did get yours a little later than we did,and from VictoriaPL's Facebook photos of the snow, I suspect you received more.

Jan 17, 6:10pm Top

The cats are not afraid of the UPS man. They always want to see what is in the box he brings. Today's arrival was unexpected, but it looked like an Amazon box. Then I noticed it was the package I was expecting from my cousin. I didn't know what he was sending, but it turned out to be two books--Cat Cross Their Graves and Cat to the Dogs, both Joe Grey mysteries by Shirley Rousseau Murphy. I think they are probably from his wife's stash. She loves that series.

Jan 17, 7:17pm Top

15. Mary and Her Litttle Lamb by Will Moses

Date Completed: 17 Jan 2018

Category: Boston

Rating: 4 stars

Review: Author Will Moses tells the story behind the nursery rhyme in this volume circulated through Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. Mary Elizabeth Sawyer nursed a lamb struggling for its life who became very devoted to her. A visitor to the school wrote the poem which was later set to music by hymn writer Lowell Mason. Very interesting book! Also of interest is the continued existence of the Sudbury, Massachusetts school where the event occurred. The illustrations were appropriate, adding to the interest.

Edited: Jan 17, 8:07pm Top

16. My Teacher by James Ransome

Date Completed: 17 Jan 2018

Category: Yellowstone National Park

Rating: 4 stars

Review: The narrator, a young girl, tells about her wonderful teacher who taught her mother and grandmother years before. The teacher still connected with students because of her passion for teaching. A heartwarming read!

Jan 17, 7:49pm Top

>117 thornton37814: Hurray for bookmail! Did the cats play in the box afterward?

Edited: Jan 17, 8:08pm Top

17. The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper; illustrated by George & Doris Hauman

Date Completed: 17 Jan 2018

Category: Cornwall

Rating: 4 stars

Review: The classic story! It's a bit dated in some aspects, but the story itself is enduring. The little engine's positive thoughts help it conquer a big task.

Jan 17, 8:26pm Top

18. My Baby Blue Jays by John Berendt

Date Completed: 17 Jan 2018

Category: Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

Rating: 3 stars

Review: Blue jays build a nest on a 3rd floor New York City balcony. The author/photographer took photos as the birds grew. While it is a nice story with photographic illustrations, the author really didn't do a lot of research or provide any science facts for young readers and listeners. This is probably best shared with preschoolers or with children who may get to watch a nest in their own yard.

Jan 17, 8:27pm Top

>120 rabbitprincess: The box was a little too small for them. They did get in another box I pulled out for another purpose though.

Jan 17, 8:34pm Top

19. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books by Lucille Colandro

Date Completed: 17 Jan 2018

Category: San Diego

Rating: 2.5 stars

Review: This book employs rhyme and repetition to create a read for the first day of school. Unfortunately the final pages did not continue the repetition. The book is the first of several school-related items she swallows. The whimsical illustrations are the book's strongest feature. Young children will probably enjoy it, but it's a story they will not wish to repeat often.

Jan 18, 10:43pm Top

I'm finally getting around to visiting people's threads, and I love how you organized your categories (or non-categories?). It'll be interesting to see at the end of the year which location got the highest rated books. :)

Jan 19, 9:20am Top

>125 mathgirl40: Maybe I should add the star rating to each before they proliferate too much? Actually I can track it another way. Interesting idea though.

Jan 19, 2:29pm Top

20. The Balfour Declaration: Sixty-Seven Words, 100 Years of Conflict by Elliot Jager

Date Completed: 19 Jan 2018

Category: Amish Country

Rating: 3 stars

Review: This book examines Zionism and its influence upon prominent men of Great Britain leading to the issuance of the Balfour Declaration in late 1917 which would leave to a Jewish homeland. Although great enthusiasm for it existed at the time, enthusiasm waned with Britain backing out of it by 1939. However, God's timing is perfect, and the homeland became a reality in 1948 with admission to the United Nations being achieved for the new state of Israel in 1949. The book coincided with the 100th anniversary of the document. It's subtitle leads one to believe its impact into the 21st century would be addressed, but the narrative ends in 1949 with the exception of a brief mention in passing of the Six-Day War of 1967 and the Islamic Revolution of 1979. I expected to see at least a chapter on the Six-Day War and perhaps a chapter on Israel in the 21st century. While this is a readable overview of Zionism, the Balfour Declaration, and the road to Israel's becoming a nation, the author relied heavily on the same sources for certain chapters. Too often the next source was "Ibid." rather than drawing from multiple sources for a more balanced perspective. The author does not follow a strict chronological order which can be frustrating for some readers. I received an electronic review copy through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program in exchange for an honest review.

Jan 20, 6:14pm Top

21. The Litttle Red Chairs by Edna O'Brien

Date Completed: 20 Jan 2018

Category: Cork (while this one isn't set in Cork, it's set in Ireland, so I'll place it in the Cork category)

Challenges: Irish Author Challenge

Rating: 2 stars

Review: A war criminal from Bosnia using the name Vlad moves into a small Irish town. He sets up an "alternative medicine" practice and rents a room from Fidelma. Fidelma and her husband are childless. The man's personality makes him quite popular with the people of the town. Fidelma conceives Vlad's child about the time his true identity is discovered. He is imprisoned; she loses the child, separates from her husband, and moves to London. I won't reveal the remainder of the plot. The narrator's voice shifted frequently, making it difficult at times to follow the story. A lof of questions the reader may ask remain unanswered. The novel is perhaps a bit "too contemporary" for my reading taste.

Edited: Jan 20, 8:49pm Top

22. Laughter and Early Sorrow: and Other Stories by Brett Busang

Date Completed: 20 Jan 2018

Category: Bahamas

Rating: 1 star

Review: Painful! This poorly written collection of memoir style short stories evokes a late 1950s to early 1960s Memphis setting. The author overuses the "be" verb in various forms as well as passive tense, making the reading dull. I visited the city of Memphis frequently in the days not long after these stories occur and hoped the collection would evoke the familiarity of the setting, but the simplistic writing, more suitable to a middle schooler's essay, made it impossible to achieve. I received an electronic copy of the book through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program in exchange for an honest review.

Jan 21, 2:36pm Top

Oh dear, sorry to read about your eye! Glad it is on the mend.

>108 thornton37814:- Great review. I have had my eye on that one. Glad to see it holds up as a solid read, even with the hidden endnotes.

Jan 21, 8:46pm Top

>130 lkernagh: The eye is mostly healed. It will take a little time for the "scar" to completely disappear, but it's mostly fine. Hope you enjoy the Summerscale book.

Jan 21, 9:47pm Top

23. The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall

Date Completed: 21 Jan 2018

Category: Cork, Ireland

Rating: 4.5 stars

Review: When the Penderwick sister's mother died, her dying wish was for her husband to find love again. She made her husband's sister promise to try to get him to begin dating again after a reasonable time. Aunt Claire not only did that, she even arranged his first date. The girls fear what his dating could bring and resolve to make sure his dates are failures so they won't be faced with a stepmother soon. In the meantime Iantha, widowed astrophysicist, and Mr. Penderwick's university colleague, moves in next door with her infant son Ben. Jane and Skye swapped homework assignments with one another, leading to very undesirable consequences for Skye. In the meantime, all the girls find much to like in their new neighbor and regret she's not awful, fitting their profile for their father's dates. Although much of the action is predictable, it's still a delightful visit with this pleasant family. I listened to the audio version narrated by Susan Denaker who did a great job.

Jan 22, 2:21pm Top

Looks like your last book made up somewhat for the ones just before it.

Jan 22, 7:51pm Top

>133 hailelib: Definitely. I'm hoping the next print book will work well too.

Jan 25, 10:59am Top

Excited for this to begin tomorrow!

Jan 25, 9:44pm Top

24. Dying in the Wool by Frances Brody

Date Completed: 25 Jan 2018

Category: Charleston

Rating: 3 stars (which is probably overly generous)

Review: Kate Shackleton is asked by Tabitha Brathwaite, a friend from her VAD days, to find her father who has been missing since the days of the war. He owned a textile mill but had been accused of attempting suicide. He made an escape from the hospital where he was being held until his court date. Tabitha's mother appeared to be waiting for his death declaration after a seven year absence. Tabitha wanted her father present at her wedding. Kate investigates. Some reviewers liken this series to Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series. The main similarity is both series feature female British protagonists involved in nursing during World War I who become detectives. I felt the main character was underdeveloped, and I never connected with any of the characters. Kate's assistant Sykes,recommended to her by her father, may be the most interesting character, but the author marginalized him. I found myself wishing Sykes were the detective for the series. His background seems to be more suitable to detecting. I doubt I'll continue the series.

Jan 27, 5:46pm Top

I don't make it often because it makes so much, but I made some comfort food tonight--chicken spaghetti. The good thing is it reheats well.

Jan 27, 6:10pm Top

Ok, now I'm hungry. Thanks a lot.

Jan 27, 7:14pm Top

>138 RidgewayGirl: I started craving this earlier in the week but waited until the weekend to make it.

Edited: Jan 27, 9:28pm Top

Despite the lackluster review, I think I'll keep Dying in the Wool on my Tbr list. Do you think the series could improve? I like that era so I would like to find another good series. I felt Maisie Dobbs started off strong but I have up on the series after a few books.

Jan 27, 9:29pm Top

25. Hiding the Past by Nathan Dylan Goodwin

Date Completed: 27 Jan 2018

Category: Quebec City

Rating: 3 stars

Review: Forensic genealogist Morton Farrier's new client pays a huge advance to help him locate his parents. Before he begins work, the client calls him , excited about something he's found. Unfortunately the next day, before he has a chance to meet with the client, Morton's girlfriend Police Community Support Officer Juliette calls with news of his client's demise. She lets him know he'll likely be visited since his was the last call on the phone. Farrier decides to proceed with the investigation since no other cases clamor for his attention. He discovers the records he needs were "missing on transfer" at the archives. Pretty soon it is clear someone does not want the truth discovered as bad things seem to follow him. In the mean time, Morton's adoptive father is hospitalized and eventually reveals secrets. I loved the genealogical research angles to this novel, but I'm not crazy about Morton's violation of laws to perform his job which seems to be a violation of professional genealogists' ethical codes. The author successfully weaved a story and subplot that both involved elements of hiding past ancestry. There's a little too much "strange coincidence" in the plot to make it convincing. Still it's a promising start to the series, and I look forward to seeing how Morton develops in future installments.

Jan 28, 9:44pm Top

It was bound to happen sooner or later, but I just made my first visit to Harlan, Kentucky, my abandoned reads category.

Hidden Pasts by Clio Gray

Date Abandoned: 28 Jan 2018

Category: Harlan, Kentucky

Review: I generally love mysteries set in Scotland, but this is one which failed to engage me from the opening scene set in 1833 Crimea to the main story set in Scotland at a much later date. Characters were not developed. I never could figure out what was going on other than the possibility of smuggling operations with all the caves and holes. I'm not certain if my failure to connect is mostly because I began reading the series with this third installment rather than at the beginning or not. Still a good author will provide enough information that someone picking up at a later point is not completely lost. I finally decided "enough is enough" and abandoned it after about fifty pages. If you read earlier installments and enjoyed them, you might enjoy this one. If you did not read earlier ones, I advise you not to start with this one. This review is based on an advance reader's copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Jan 28, 10:32pm Top

>137 thornton37814: - That looks delicious! The fact that it reheats well is a bonus.

Jan 29, 9:19am Top

>143 LittleTaiko: It is very tasty.

Jan 29, 10:09pm Top

I finished an audiobook earlier today but its review will have to come tomorrow.

Edited: Feb 1, 8:32am Top

26. The Potter's Field by Andrea Camilleri

Date Completed: 29 Jan 2017

Category: Boston

Rating: 3.5 stars

Review: Inspector Montalbano is called to the scene where a body cut in pieces is found in a bag. Inspector Augello's recent behavior toward his colleagues has been terrible lately, and he comes in demanding Montalbano hand the case over to him. A man reports an incident he's witnessed where a woman was nearly run over. A woman comes into the station concerned about her husband who has failed to contact her in his travels. There's a lot going on in this novel which includes mafia and drug themes, but somehow Camilleri manages to weave the threads together into a cohesive plot. I listened to the audio version narrated by Grover Gardner.

Jan 31, 2:19pm Top

I will not complete additional books in January. I will probably finish two on February 1, both of which are for February challenges. I'm pacing myself on both titles. I've also got an audio book going, but it will take longer to finish that one. Twenty-five isn't bad for the month. I kept meaning to read some more picture books but I didn't pick them up. The forecast looks as if we might have a 3-day weekend so I might be able to read several on Friday if that happens!

Jan 31, 7:28pm Top

>147 thornton37814: Twenty-five books is an excellent reading month! I hope you get that three-day weekend -- February is such a short month to begin with that it's nice to get extra opportunities for reading.

Jan 31, 7:44pm Top

Lori, I'm only half paying attention to the books because I'm staring at the chicken spaghetti!

Jan 31, 10:39pm Top

>135 thornton37814: How fun! I lurve all things Alice. :)

Feb 1, 7:37am Top

>148 rabbitprincess: I need to check for a mistake in numbering. GoodReads said I read 27. I can account for the 26th book which was abandoned, but where is the other one?

>149 jonesli: It's been very good. I have one serving remaining. Enjoy!

>150 madhatter22: You even have "the name" to go along with the book! We enjoyed the first week. I need to send a reminder to the faculty/staff listserv later today for the second session. It's scheduled for tomorrow--if we don't get snowed out.

Feb 1, 8:34am Top

>151 thornton37814: I found the mistake! I used 25 twice, so I finished 26 in January. About to review my first February completion.

Feb 1, 9:02am Top

27. Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Date Completed: 1 Feb 2018

Category: Yellowstone National Park

Challenges: ScaredyKIT - Survival/Disaster & AlphaKIT - P & J

Rating: 4.5 stars

Review: Piscene "Pi" Patel grows up in a zookeeper's family in India. His father teaches him to respect and fear the animals. He embraces Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. When the family moves to Canada, their cargo ship sink, but Pi is thrown into a lifeboat with an injured zebra, a hyena, an orangutan, and a tiger named Richard Parker. Pi miraculously survives, landing in Mexico some 227 days later. The survival story is captivating. The ending catches the reader by surprise. This memorable book will stick with me a long time. It deserved the Booker prize it won.

Edited: Feb 1, 1:35pm Top

28. 'Over the Hills and Far Away': The Life of Beatrix Potter by Matthew Dennison

Date Completed: 1 Feb 2018

Category: Cornwall

Challenges: Non-Fiction - Biography, AlphaKIT - P & J

Rating: 3 stars

Review: Beloved children's author and illustrator Beatrix Potter lived a repressed life due to parental control until she finally purchased her own home with profits from the sales of her books. She later married. Both her parents were artistic. Her father sketched; her mother used watercolors. Some of the early influences for her characters came from her fathers' sketches, but one can also see the influence of her mother's watercolors. An appendix showcases some of Beatrix's artwork. The biography did not follow a chronological approach, and it skipped around so much that it made it difficult to follow. Readability suffers because of academic verbiage. The author conducted extensive research in manuscripts and archival collections.

Edited: Feb 4, 11:34am Top

29. Planting Corn Belt Culture: The Impress of the Upland Southerner and Yankee in the Old Northwest by Richard Lyle Power

Date Completed: 1 Feb 2018

Category: Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

Challenges: AlphaKIT - P & J

Rating: 3.5 stars

Review: The author of this work utilized manuscript collections and published diaries and journals to show the influence "Upland Southerners" and New Englanders exerted in the Midwest, specifically in Indiana. These immigrants exerted sway in politics, architecture, agriculture, customs, religion, idioms, and much more. While I found the arrangement of the book less logical than some, the author presented a better documented work than most for the period in which it was written. Several maps and photos illustrate the pages, complementing the text to enhance reader understanding. Although clearly written for an academic audience, the content's readability makes it accessible to anyone interested in the settlement of Indiana and other midwestern states.

Feb 1, 2:16pm Top

Hi Lori, I am glad that you loved The Life of Pi. I thought it was an amazing story and one that I still think about. Congrats on your excellent January reading total.

Edited: Feb 1, 3:27pm Top

>156 DeltaQueen50: Thanks, Judy. It (reading total) was pretty good. I've already got 3 down for February, so the month is starting off well. The last one up there came in through Interlibrary Loan earlier this week. I've been using it for a presentation and did a speed read through most of it to see what was usable. I took notes, copied a couple of paragraphs, made notes of some of the sources in footnotes for further study, and finished it today.

Feb 3, 5:23pm Top

30. A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters

Date Completed: 3 Feb 2018

Category: San Diego

Challenges: British Author Challenge - 1970s

Rating: 3 stars

Review: Prior Robert wants to remove Saint Winifred's bones from a Welsh village to the monastery. Someone opposed to the plan is found dead. Brother Cadfael, former Crusader turned monk, suspects a fellow monk's responsibility for the murder and investigates. The author often uses medieval vocabulary, appropriate to the setting, which slows one's speed, but it is worth the reader's effort.

Note: The book was first published in 1977.

Feb 3, 6:51pm Top

>137 thornton37814: - Chicken spaghetti sounds like perfect comfort food to me! YUM!

Feb 3, 7:37pm Top

>159 lkernagh: It really hit the spot, and I didn't tire of it. I'll have a little more variety this week. Brats, soups, meatballs, and leftover pizza are all on the menu. I've got lots of veggies on hand too. I've also got a few other things in the freezer I can use--mostly stuff from Aldi like salmon, scallops, and chicken cordon bleu. I won't go hungry.

Feb 4, 11:21am Top

31. Creole Holiday by Phyllis A. Whitney

Date Completed: 3 Feb 2018

Category: Amish Country

Challenges: RandomCAT - Laissez les bons temps rouler, AlphaKIT - P & J

Rating: 3.5 stars

Review: After her mother died, Lauré, the daughter of famous actor Jules Beaudine, grew up with a strict maternal aunt in late 1800s New York City. Lauré wants nothing more than to follow her father's footsteps into acting. She memorizes entire portions of Shakespeare's plays from a treasured volume her father sent behind her watchful aunt's back. At age eighteen her aunt seizes the volume. When the aunt goes out, Lauré storms to the theater in which her father currently is engaged. Her resolve earns her a trip with her father to his ancestral New Orleans where she was born. They stay with a friend in the Garden district because his family refuses to have anything to do with him. Will things changes? Lauré soon finds herself swept up in the parties of Carnival season. She meets two young men. Her impropriety on Mardi Gras sets the stage for the the book's climactic moments. Whitney's mastery of character, setting, and plot pacing make this an enjoyable read from start to finish. While I'm certain I read this as a teen, I did not remember the plot and found myself enjoying the story and my own memories of New Orleans as the characters wandered the streets. This novella lacked some of the darker aspects found in many of Whitney's novels, but it fit the situation.

Feb 4, 12:07pm Top

I plan to read and review quite a few children's books titles today. I want to finish reading the stack I purchased for my great nephew so I can mail them to him!

Feb 4, 1:52pm Top

>162 thornton37814: I envy you your read of the children's books, sounds like a great way to spend the day!

Feb 4, 2:43pm Top

>163 DeltaQueen50: I read ten. One was a chapter book. I have thirteen more to go (if I counted correctly), but I'll save those for later in the week.

Feb 4, 2:55pm Top

32. Little Poems for Tiny Ears by Lin Oliver; illustrated by Tomie DePaolo

Date Completed: 4 Feb 2018

Category: Bahamas

Challenges: AlphaKIT - P & J

Rating: 3 stars

Review: Illustrations are better than than the poems in this one. Audience level for this title is probably about 18 to 30 months.

Feb 4, 3:01pm Top

33. Three Little Kittens by Jerry Pinkney

Date Completed: 4 Feb 2018

Category: Cork, Ireland

Challenges: AlphaKIT - P & J

Rating: 4.5 stars

Review: Lovely whimsical illustrations for this classic poem!

Feb 4, 3:07pm Top

34. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

Date Completed: 4 Feb 2018

Category: Charleston

Challenges: AlphaKIT - P & J

Rating: 4 stars

Review: The classic tale illustrated with Potter's illustrations. Mother knows best!

Feb 4, 3:13pm Top

35. Oh No, Gotta Go! by Susan Middleton Elya; illustrated by C. Brian Karas

Date Completed: 4 Feb 2018

Category: Quebec City

Challenges: None

Rating: 4 stars

Review: Cute book that teaches some basic Spanish vocabulary terms.

Edited: Feb 4, 3:22pm Top

36. The Gingerbread Man Loose on the Fire Truck by Laura Murray; illustrated by Mike Lowery

Date Completed: 4 Feb 2018

Category: Boston

Challenges: None

Rating: 3 stars

Review: Cute retelling of the Gingerbread Man. This time he goes with his class to visit the fire station. Suddenly he finds himself being chased by Spot the Dalmation. His escapades lead to a ride to squelch a fire. Illustrations are a bit weak.

Feb 4, 3:25pm Top

37. Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Jan Brett

Date Completed: 4 Feb 2017

Category: Yellowstone National Park

Challenges: AlphaKIT - P & J

Rating: 3.5 stars

Review: Jan Brett's illustrations saved this retelling of the story. The original wording works better than the retelling's words.

Feb 4, 3:33pm Top

38. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

Date Completed: 4 Feb 2018

Category: Cornwall

Challenges: AlphaKIT - P & J

Rating: 5 stars

Review: The fabulous Caldecott Award-winning illustrations work just as well for today's readers as they did for the ones in my generation. Timeless, classic story!

Feb 4, 3:40pm Top

39. The Puppy Who Went to School by Gail Herman; illustrated by Betina Ogden

Date Completed: 4 Feb 2018

Category: Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

Challenges: AlphaKIT - P & J

Rating: 3.5 stars

Review: Wags the puppy follows his owner Ben everywhere. One day Ben boards the school bus without Wags so Wags chases the school bus. What kind of mischief does Wags get into until he finds Ben? Some illustrations demonstrated great whimsy while others fell flat.

Edited: Feb 4, 4:02pm Top

40. Rhymes Round the World by Kay Chorao

Date Completed: 4 Feb 2018

Category: San Diego

Challenges: None

Rating: 5 stars

Review: Excellent collection of simple children's poetry from around the world. Nicely illustrated!

Edited: Feb 4, 4:24pm Top

41. Keri Tarr, Cat Detective by Wendy Lement; illustrated by Jeffrey Scott Burrows

Date Completed: 4 Feb 2018

Category: Boston (partially set there)

Challenges: AlphaKIT - P & J

Rating: 3 stars

Review: Keri Tarr's ability to converse with cats makes her an ideal person to find missing cats. She saves over one hundred cats in a house about to be demolished and rescues her aunt's cat by stowing away on a plane. A little fantastical, but a story cat-loving upper elementary girls will enjoy.

Feb 4, 4:13pm Top

>162 thornton37814: So glad I'm not the only person who reads books before sending them! I did the same before Christmas with the presents for the junior members of the family. shhh. So nice to revisit books from your own childhood as well as discover new ones.

Feb 4, 4:20pm Top

>175 Helenliz: I was able to get an entire bag of books for $10. I think it was 33 books total. Besides if they are in my library and in a collection, I'll know which books I've already sent if I get back to that store for another haul!

Feb 4, 8:53pm Top

>161 thornton37814:

That's a Phyllis Whitney title I've never come across!

The Snowy Day is a great book for young children.

Feb 4, 10:00pm Top

>177 hailelib: I was trying to find something for the RandomCAT. Since Mardi Gras is coming up and fit, I thought I'd see what our public library had. I was delighted to find a Phyllis Whitney book! -- And yes, The Snowy Day is truly a classic!

Feb 6, 8:54pm Top

42. Involuntary Witness by Gianrico Carofiglio

Date Completed: 6 Feb 2018

Category: Amish Country

Other Challenges: Two Guidos

Rating: 2 stars

Review: I am not a fan of legal procedurals, and this novel features no investigation as in most murder mysteries. A non-Italian who pedals counterfeit merchandise is accused of the murder of a boy, all based on hearsay and misinterpreted evidence. The defense rests mainly on creating doubt in the minds of the jurors. The novel was slow to start, giving far more of the lawyer's back story than I enjoyed. I thought about abandoning it about halfway through, but decided to proceed. The book improved, but not enough I'd consider reading a second installment.

Edited: Feb 7, 3:17pm Top

43. From Jerusalem to Timbuktu: A World Tour of the Spread of Christianity by Brian C. Stiller

Date Completed: 7 Feb 2018

Category: Bahamas

Challenges: AlphaKIT - P & J

Rating: 3 stars

Review: When the subtitle discussed "the spread of Christianity," I expected the title to be more focused on a history of missions. Instead this book organizes itself around topics and then highlights a few places around the world under each. It is specifically focused on Pentecostal missions with the Nazarene tradition being emphasized. This limits the audience for the book. I disagree with the author's interpretation on several theological points. While the book does contain some historic content, the non-chronological arrangement makes it unhelpful as a history of missions. The content organization reminded me of sermons with specific points with illustrations drawn from specific missionaries or global settings used to engage the audience. This book is probably most useful in an introduction to missions course, a Pentecostal church missions group study, or in a theology of missions course in a Nazarene institution. This review is based on an electronic galley received by the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation of a review.

Feb 10, 8:08pm Top

44. Sugar and Iced by Jenn McKinlay

Date Completed: 10 Feb 2018

Category: Cork, Ireland

Challenges: MysteryCAT - Female Cop/Sleuth/Detective

Rating: 2.5 stars

Review: Mel and Angie agree to bake cupcakes for a beauty pageant in which Mel's mom is involved. Angie discovers a pageant judge's corpse when she bends down to pick up a fallen cupcake. Most persons, including Mel and Angie's helper Oz's girlfriend Lupe, found reasons to dislike the woman, providing a variety of motives. Lupe becomes chief suspect because of words spoken and heard by others. Mel, of course, can't resist a chance to assist her police detective uncle and want-to-be boyfriend Manny with the investigation.

I'm rather tired of the love triangle that became a quadrangle in this series. When will publishers learn cozy mystery readers care more about the crime than love life. If they wanted to read romance, they'd purchase Harlequins and Silhouettes instead. The setting did nothing for me, and the cupcake design contest really was stretching it as a reason to put Mel and Angie in the center of things. I wish I'd skipped this installment. The ending sets this one up for more of the lame romance story with Mel but perhaps sets it up for a conclusion for Angie.

Feb 11, 3:04pm Top

45. The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore

Date Completed: 11 Feb 2018

Category: Charleston

Challenges: None

Rating: 3 stars

Review: Beth Moore, better known for her Bible studies, ventured into the world of Christian fiction with this title. Jillian Slater, long estranged from her father and his family, goes to New Orleans to attend his funeral. Her mother depicted her father as a homeless loser. As soon as she landed at the airport, she began regretting her decision to fly there. She discovers her grandmother lives in a renovated old church with an odd assortment of people and a sassy manager. After she goes back to San Francisco and discovers her boyfriend/boss with another woman in his office, she quickly packs, returning to New Orleans. She begins to learn more about her father, her grandmother, and herself during her journey. The book contains a mystery concerning the murder of her father and romance for Jillian. The book is unlikely to gain a wide following outside of Christian readers as it tends to be a bit preachy at times. The story is better than expected. I listened to the audio book read by Shannon McManus who does a terrible job. Her male voices and regional accents were horrible. I recommend reading the book rather than listening to it.

Feb 12, 5:46am Top

I just did a big catch up on your thread. Great review of Life of Pi. It is an unusual type of book that caught my imagination and has stayed vivid in my mind.
Another book I have read that I have similar feelings about is The Orphan Master's Son. Have you read that one?

Feb 12, 2:22pm Top

>183 Roro8: No. I've seen good reviews of The Orphan Master's Son but have not read it.

Feb 12, 7:57pm Top

46. Folly by Stella Cameron

Date Completed: 12 Feb 2018

Category: Quebec City

Challenges: MysteryCAT - Female Cops/Sleuths/Detectives

Rating: 3.5 stars

Review: Alex Duggins returned to Folly-on-Weir, a village in the Cotswolds where she grew up, after a failed marriage. She purchased a cottage and the local pub. She discovered the body of a monk with a missing ring. Who is he? Why was he in Folly-on-Weir? A second monk shows up, claiming the man was from his traveling order of monks. I loved the use of DNA in the resolution of the mystery. The snowstorm adds to the atmosphere. Some characters needed further development, but it was a good start to the series.

Feb 15, 9:11pm Top

47. Better Off Read by Nora Page

Date Completed: 15 Feb 2018

Category: Boston

Challenges: MysteryCAT - Female Cop/Sleuth/Detective

Rating: 2.5 stars

Review: A library with a 75-year-old librarian who still drives a bookmobile (and speeds while doing so)? The set-up for Nora Page's new series features that implausible scenario. The mayor of Catulpa Springs, Georgia,somewhere just north of the Florida state line, wants to do away with its tree-damaged library, its bookmobile, and its librarian. An antiquarian book collector and library friend's death turns suspicion to the man's neighbor. Cleo doesn't believe it and sets out to investigate. Not even Rhett Butler the cat could redeem this book. Far too many characters appear too quickly without sufficient development to sort in the reader's mind. A low-level officer related to one of the characters seems to be the main police officer investigating rather than police detectives or the man referred to throughout the book as "Chief." The conversation-intensive narrative likely appeals to a younger audience while the septuagenarian librarian tries to draw older readers. Unfortunately as someone who recently dealt with aging parents, I question how a town could afford insurance to allow an elderly woman known to speed to drive a bookmobile. While the story does improve as the book goes on, it fails to redeem itself and leaves the reader dissatisfied. I received an advance review copy from the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.

Feb 16, 4:12pm Top

>186 thornton37814: Not an implausible scenario at all replies this ex-bookmobile librarian...

Feb 16, 8:13pm Top

>187 mysterymax: I just don't see it happening today due to insurance.

Feb 16, 8:20pm Top

48. The Story of Lucy Gault by William Trevor

Date Completed: 16 Feb 2018

Category: Yellowstone National Park

Challenges: Irish Author Challenge

Rating: 4.5 stars

Review: Lucy Gault's parents decide to move from their Irish village for safety following an incident in a time of unrest. Lucy does not want to move. Before they move, Lucy disappears. After finding a shoe, they assume she drowned and move away, leaving servants as caretakers for their home. Lucy returns, but no one can locate her parents who decided not to travel to the intended location and leave no forwarding address. Lucy's parents travel the continent while Lucy attends the local school rather than the boarding school. The caretakers assume her care with the attorney providing allowances to them. She always expects them to return from their trip--but will they? Lucy's emotional damage manifests itself in relationships and other ways. I don't want to give away more of the plot. The story haunts the reader. Trevor crafts a masterpiece with his carefully constructed prose. Readers ask, "How could her parents leave without more proof their daughter died?" "How did Lucy feel when she discovered her parents moved without her?" and more. This novel would work well as a book discussion.

Feb 18, 4:52pm Top

I loved The Story of Lucy Gault as well, Lori, it's one that I often think about. It is also very evocative of it's time as in todays "in touch" world, the parent would have been located quickly.

Feb 18, 8:46pm Top

>190 DeltaQueen50: It's the second novel of Trevor's I read, and I've loved both. I'll probably pick up some more of his writing in the future.

Feb 18, 8:51pm Top

49. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Date Completed: 18 Feb 2018

Category: Cornwall

Challenges: American Author Challenge

Rating: 4 stars

Review: Escaping from a brutal overseer, Cora and Caesar follow the steps Cora's mom Mabel took previously in finding a way to escape. A branch of the underground railroad recently opened, and they were among the lucky ones to escape before it closed. They escape first to South Carolina where conditions are not so extreme as other states, but when Ridgeway, a slave catcher, arrives, Cora is able to escape once again--this time to North Carolina. The station in that area just closed, but fortunately the station master took pity on Cora, providing space in his attack, until they are found out. From there, we learn more of the tale, an escape, new friends, a farm, and more. Whitehead provides insight into slave life and what it was like for those fleeing the underground railroad and involved in it. While I'm not certain the conditions in South Carolina were as favorable as depicted, I still enjoyed the novel. It's not a particularly easy read as the injustices to those of African ancestry are depicted vividly, but it is one that makes the reader pause to consider this period of American history and hope he or she would have chosen to treat their fellow human beings with dignity and compassion rather than hatred.

Feb 18, 9:10pm Top

This one sounds so good! I've got it on hold at my library.

Feb 18, 9:23pm Top

>193 cmbohn: It's definitely worthwhile. Hope you enjoy it.

Feb 19, 10:08pm Top

50. A Necessary End by Peter Robinson

Date Completed: 19 Feb 2018

Category: Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

Challenges: AlphaKIT - P & J

Rating: 3 stars

Review: When a demonstration results in the death of a police officer from another jurisdiction, Supt. Burgess, aka "Dirty Dick," is sent from London to lead the investigation into the homicide. Attention begins to focus on the residents of Maggie's farm as two residents were among those arrested at the demonstration. Burgess' reputation precedes him. Chief Inspector Banks begins investigating on the side when it becomes clear, Burgess is willing to stick the murder charge to the first suspect for whom he can make a case strong enough to possibly stick. With many of the protesters already suspicious of police, Burgess' actions jeopardize the rapport Banks built with the people of Eastvale since his arrival.

The installment compels the reader, but some things seem to drag down the plot. Readers do not need to know every time a character lights a cigarette, particularly when all the characters seem to be chain smokers. If a future installment doesn't feature some of the characters developing lung cancer, Robinson missed out on the plot he's setting up.

I listened to the audio version narrated by James Langton who did a good job with the voices although they were perhaps not as British sounding as they could be.

Feb 21, 8:45am Top

I've decided today is the day to finish reading the stack of books I purchased for my great nephew so I can mail them to him. In other words, be prepared for a large amount of picture books in the next few hours!

Feb 21, 9:26am Top

51. Old Bear and His Cub by Olivier Dunrea

Date Completed: 21 Feb 2017

Category: San Diego

Challenges: None

Rating: 3.5 stars

Review: Which bear is the most stubborn--little cub or old bear? Old Bear gives Little Cub advice, but then Little Cub gives Old Bear the same advice. It's a cute story with average illustrations.

Feb 21, 9:31am Top

52. Destination: Antarctica by Robert Swan

Date Completed: 21 Feb 2018

Category: Amish Country

Challenges: None

Rating: 3 stars

Review: The author led a team to Antarctica to relive the adventures of Robert Scott. I remember reading a story about Antarctic exploration somewhere around fourth or fifth grade. This story did not deliver the same sense of adventure. The illustrations in this one, however, make it a great book to pair up with a story of some of the original Antarctic adventures.

Edited: Feb 21, 9:50am Top

53. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Date Completed: 21 Feb 2018

Category: Bahamas

Challenges: None

Rating: 5 stars

Review: This classic children's book is timeless! The illustrations still delight!

Feb 21, 9:59am Top

54. Ladybug Girl and Bingo by David Soman and Jacky Davis

Date Completed: 21 Feb 2018

Category: Cork, Ireland

Challenges: AlphaKIT - J

Rating: 4 stars

Review: Ladybug Girl's family goes camping. Even her dog Bingo comes along. Bingo is to stay leashed, but sometimes, Ladybug Girl can't quite keep him under control. It's a good story with lovely illustrations.

Feb 21, 10:19am Top

55. Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell; illustrated by David Catrow

Date Completed: 21 Feb 2018

Category: Charleston

Challenges: AlphaKIT - P

Rating: 4 stars

Review: Delightful illusttrations accompany this book teaching self-esteem. Molly Lou Melon's grandmother always taught her truths about her shortcomings which helped her when she moved to a new school.

Feb 21, 11:00am Top

56. A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers by Nancy Willard; illustrated by Alice Provensen and Martin Provensen

Date Completed: 21 Feb 2018

Category: Quebec City

Challenges: AlphaKIT - P

Rating: 5 stars

Review: This Newbery-winning and Caldecott finalist collection of poetry honors poet William Blake. Many of the poems reference Blake's poems so it is probably most appreciated by those familiar with his poetry. The author's set-up is an inn honoring the bard, visited by various persons and animals. It makes me want to pick up Blake's work to read in the near future, possibly for poetry month in April.

Feb 21, 11:27am Top

57. The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie dePaola

Date Completed: 21 Feb 2018

Category: Boston

Challenges: AlphaKIT - P

Rating: 5 stars

Review: Gifted author/illustrator Tomie dePaola retells a Native American story concerning the Indian paintbrush plant's name. The story is well-told, and the illustrations are beautiful.

Feb 21, 11:52am Top

58. Plenty of Love to Go Around by Emma Chichester Clark

Date Completed: 21 Feb 2018

Category: Yellowstone National Park

Challenges: None

Rating: 4 stars

Review: A dog is jealous of the new cat, but he discovers they can still be friends because there is "plenty of love to go around." This would make a great read for a child with a new sibling. Illustrations are average.

Edited: Feb 21, 12:07pm Top

59. Just One More by Jennifer Hansen Rolli

Date Completed: 21 Feb 2018

Category: Cornwall

Challenges: AlphaKIT - J

Rating: 3 stars

Ruby is never content with what she has been given. She always wants "just one more." Illustrations are cute, but not outstanding. I'm not entirely sure the author's point was made.

Feb 21, 12:11pm Top

60. Taking Care of Mama by Mitra Modarressi

Date Completed: 21 Feb 2018

Category: Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

Challenges: None

Rating: 3.5 stars

Review: A household of raccoons discover how much mama does on a daily basis when Mama's illness causes them to need to fill the gap. The story is told in rhyme. Great for young readers.

Feb 21, 12:24pm Top

61. Good Morning, Digger by Anne Rockwell; illustrated by Melanie Hope Greenberg

Date Completed: 21 Feb 2018

Category: San Diego

Challenges: None

Rating: 3.5 stars

Review: Digger the backhoe and other construction vehicles contribute to the erection of a new community center to be enjoyed by the narrator and others. Preschool boys will love this one.

Feb 21, 12:46pm Top

62. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

Date Completed: 21 Feb 2018

Category: Amish Country

Challenges: None

Rating: 5 stars

Review: Madeline, a student at a Paris boarding school, finds herself hospitalized for an appendectomy. The book is written in rhyme. Children can be grateful hospital stays are shorter than when the book was written. While the illustrations may not appeal to today's youngsters as much as they did to earlier eras, they are still excellent, showing what can be done with minimal colors. It's a classic 1940 Caldecott honor book which stood the test of time.

Feb 21, 12:58pm Top

63. Luke Goes to Bat by Rachel Isadora

Date Completed: 21 Feb 2018

Category: Bahamas

Challenges: None

Rating: 4 stars

Review: Luke longs for his chance to play baseball with the older kids. He idolizes Jackie Robinson. When the other kids need another player, Luke steps in but strikes out--twice. His grandma encourages him to never give up and takes him to a Dodgers game. Nicely done and perfect for boys who long to play ball!

Feb 21, 7:49pm Top

>55 thornton37814:
I read that one in Swedish and was wondering how the translation would read as some of the dialogue is so colloquial.
(Yes, I know I'm late to this party, but at least I made it this year... :) )

Feb 21, 8:29pm Top

>210 -Eva-: The issue was likely in the translation in that case! . . . and welcome to the party!

Feb 21, 11:20pm Top

Some fun picture books! Hope your young reader enjoys them all.

Feb 22, 10:46am Top

>212 cmbohn: I hope so too.

Feb 22, 1:51pm Top

64. Murder, She Knit by Peggy Ehrhart

Date Completed: 22 Feb 2018

Category: Cork, Ireland

Challenges: MysteryCAT - Female Cop/Sleuth/Detective; AlphaKIT - P

Rating: 3.5 stars

Review: In this promising start to a new series, widowed Pamela Paterson invites her husband's former colleague Amy Morgan who recently took a job with a local college to her home for the weekly knitting group meeting. When Amy doesn't show up, Pamela assumes something came up at the university. Later that evening while looking for the cat's bowl, she discovers her friend's body in the shrubbery with a knitting needle poking out of her body. The needle seems to point to someone in the group, but Amy made some controversial decisions during her short time chairing the department, supplying suspects outside the frame of the needlework circle. Pamela doesn't think police always ask the right questions and begins to investigate with the help of neighbor and fellow knitter Bettina.

The conclusion of this one caught me a bit by surprise although I confess to coming up with no solution of my own. The clues were present, but not obvious. I'm a bit baffled why the police did not interact with Pamela more and warn her about sleuthing. I loved the cat who adopted Pamela and look forward to Catrina's becoming more comfortable around her pet human. The main characters and setting were well-developed. I look forward to the next installment of the series and to seeing how the characters develop over the course of the series. I received an advance electronic galley from the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.

Feb 22, 2:20pm Top

65. Grand Canyon by Jason Chin

Date Completed: 22 Feb 2018

Category: Charleston

Challenges: AlphaKIT - J

Rating: 5 stars

Review: This wonderfully illustrated book discusses the geology and ecology of the Grand Canyon. It's certain to be a hit with youngsters vacationing there or who are interested in science. I loved the way Chin used margins to extend learning. Chin even offers a bibliography which would be useful for older people interested in learning more about this masterpiece of God's handiwork.

This was a Caldecott Honor Book in 2018.

Feb 25, 11:06pm Top

66. Portrait of a Murderer by Anne Meredith

Date Completed: 25 Feb 2018

Category: Quebec City

Challenges: None

Rating: 2 stars

Review: This really wasn't much of a mystery. It's more of a charcter study. The father dies. One of his children committed the murder. We know which one it was and how it was done. He's just trying to hide it from his siblings. I really disliked the entire family. It simply did not resonate well with me; however, persons who like to see character drive the story may enjoy it. It's labeled as Christmas crime. Just because the murder happened at Christmas when the family gathered does not make it a "Christmas" story. This one could occur at a family reunion any other time of the year. This is based on an electronic galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.

Feb 26, 7:11pm Top

This is the bookmark I stitched for my colleague:

Feb 27, 5:50am Top

>217 thornton37814: that's lovely, both the stitching and the motto.

Feb 27, 7:40am Top

>218 Helenliz: Thanks! I'm glad you can't see the back side. Some of my fiber was older, and there are a few more "bunchy" places because I'd go for awhile before I noticed a not that caused a big loop. Then I'd have to "tack it down" to avoid ripping out the stitches and starting again.

Feb 27, 9:26am Top

A beautiful (and useful) keepsake!

Feb 27, 10:13am Top

What a pretty and thoughtful gift. Love the hummingbird and the color choices.

Feb 27, 10:30am Top

Lori, that bookmark is so charming - your friend is going to love it. What a thoughtful gift.

Feb 27, 12:11pm Top

>219 thornton37814: oh yes, never ever look at the back of my work! Errant loops are a pain and the decision to unpick or just bodge can be a difficult one. On that fine material, I think tacking down the loop is the better option.

Feb 27, 3:18pm Top

>220 clue: >221 LittleTaiko: >222 Crazymamie: I was hoping she would enjoy it. Maybe she'll think back with fondness on her time here when she sees it.

>223 Helenliz: That's obviously the option I took. I try to make the back look nice, but I just didn't catch that older fiber knotting in time.

Feb 27, 5:30pm Top

67. In the Shadow of the Glacier by Vicki Delany

Date Completed: 27 Feb 2018

Category: Boston

Challenges: MysteryCAT - Female Cop/Sleuth/Detective

Rating: 3.5 stars

Review: Constable Molly Smith finds herself partnering with the lead homicide detective when his usual partner heads out of town when Trafalgar's first murder in years occurs. The town about a half-hour north of the United States border boasts a significant population of Vietnam draft dodgers. Many citizens, including Molly's activist mother, want a Peace Garden honoring draft dodgers, but others like Reginald Montgomery oppose the plan. Montgomery aspires to build a resort which might lose American tourist dollars if the Peace Garden plan succeeds. The town becomes a magnet for troublemakers and for one American journalist who manages to slant all his journalistic efforts to capture his own opinion. Molly offers to help a friend get a restraining order against someone harrassing her, but she becomes so involved in the investigation she failed to remember to meet her. She later refuses to proceed, and the results are disastrous. The town also experiences a rash of bicycle thefts, including Molly's own. Sergeant Winters notices all the thefts occur near times Molly visited the locations on her beat. Are the thefts and murder connected? I look forward to seeing where Delany takes Molly Smith in the next installment of the series. Molly's naivity makes her an interesting character with a lot of room to develop. I listened to the audiobook. The narrator's accent led to some unusual pronunciations for American ears, but perhaps it reflects the dialect of the area.

Feb 27, 6:43pm Top

68. Slight Mourning by Catherine Aird

Date Completed: 27 Feb 2018

Category: Yellowstone National Park

Challenges: British Author Challenge - the 1970s

Rating: 4 stars

Review: A dinner party with a dozen guests. A fatal automobile crash. The autopsy reveals the victim died by poisoning. Inspector Sloan investigates. Although most readers will likely guess the identity of the murderer pretty early, this pleasant installment in the classic Aird series resonates with the charms of English villages.

Edited: Feb 28, 3:54pm Top

I read one of her stand alone mysteries a few years ago and enjoyed it. Do you think the Inspector Sloan books have to be read in order? I tend to always go in order but wasn't sure if it was a must with this series.

Feb 28, 9:22pm Top

>227 LittleTaiko: I haven't read them in order. While I'm certain I read some back in high school, I've only read scattered installments of Inspector Sloan in recent years.

Group: 2018 Category Challenge

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