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LibraryCin's (Cindy's) Reads in 2018

Read it, Track it! (& 12 x 12 Challenge)

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Edited: Jan 2, 3:45pm Top

Will keep track of my reviews and pages read here.

If anyone is interested in following my challenges, they are listed in the 2018 Category Challenge group in this thread:

Edited: Jan 29, 10:40pm Top

My hope/plan for January:

- In the Kingdom of Ice / Hampton Sides (Reading Through Time, ColourCAT, PBT Decathlon
- 20th Century Ghosts / Joe Hill (ScaredyKIT, ColourCAT)
- The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind / William Kamkwamba (RandomCAT, PBT)
- The Radium Girls / Kate Moore (RandomCAT, AlphaKIT, ColourCAT, PBT)
- Missoula / Jon Krakauer (RandomCAT, AlphaKIT, PBT Decathlon, Mystery Subgenre)
- Looks Can Kill / Valerie Walker (AlphaKIT)
- The Woman in Cabin 10 / RW (MysteryCAT, PBT Decathlon)
- Plastic: a Toxic Love Story / Susan F
- 1888: London Murders... / PS (Mystery Subgenre)
- Child of the Morning / Pauline Gedge (Passport Challenge)

Not sure which of these will be audio, or if I'll add in different audios. I think this one will be coming from the library for me soon:

- Broken Harbour / Tana French

+ maybe I can fit a couple extras in. We'll see.

Edited: Jan 8, 10:58pm Top

And I've started with a different audio, while waiting for "Broken Harbour" to come in from the library:
- Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat / Hal Herzog

Jan 2, 6:57pm Top

>2 LibraryCin: Will be interested to see what you make of The Woman in Cabin 10.

Jan 2, 11:24pm Top

>4 Andrew-theQM: It's on hold at the library, so hopefully I don't have to wait too long for it!

Jan 5, 10:55pm Top

1. Plastic A Toxic Love Story / Susan Freinkel
4 stars
298 pages

This book takes us through the history of plastic, the different types of plastics and how they are made; and it focuses on certain common plastic items, such as: Frisbee, comb, chair, lighters, shopping bags, bottles and medical supplies.

I really liked this. It was very interesting. There were some sections of chemistry that I maybe didn’t quite “get” (or even if I did while I was reading it, I can’t recall it now), but overall, this was very readable. Other topics in this book include “bioplastics”, the effect on wildlife and the oceans, plastic (i.e. credit) cards, etc. Personally, I’ve been trying for a while now to buy less plastic, but it is pretty much impossible to cut it out; it’s so entrenched.

Cumulative page total = 298

Jan 8, 10:59pm Top

2. Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat / Hal Herzog
4 stars
341 pages

The author is a psychologist with an interest in animal-human relationships. This book looks at studies on so many topics, many of which create moral quandries with regard to animals. He covers so many topics, it’s hard to recall them all, but based on the title you can probably guess, one of them looks at why some cultures keep dogs as pets and some eat them. Topics include pets, animal testing, farm animals, cock fighting, dog shows and breeding, animal activists, and so much more.

I love animals, and I have plenty of moral quandries with what I do/don’t do or think, feel, etc. when it comes to animals. I am not vegetarian, but what (little) meat I eat (not very often) is humanely-raised. I won’t buy products tested on animals. I do wear clothes made from animal parts (though not fur). I will catch and release bugs, spiders, etc. One thing – that he mentioned a few times – that I always found odd was that some vegetarians eat fish. That’s one I don’t “get”! There is a lot of information and he presents the results of lots of studies, and it’s hard to remember everything, but I did find it all very interesting. And I’m still conflicted about many things!

Cumulative page total = 639

Jan 10, 10:14pm Top

3. 20th Century Ghosts / Joe Hill
4 stars
281 pages

This is a book of short stories, some horror, some fantasy, some a combination. Some of the stories include: a young Van Helsing, a movie theatre ghost, a boy who wakes up one morning having turned into a bug, two brothers – the younger a savant who builds cardboard box mazes, an inflatable boy, a very reclusive horror writer, a basement with an old nonworking phone that rings, an odd museum, a boy who can actually fly while wearing his cape, and more.

I really enjoyed most of these stories. Collections of short stories often end up ok for me, with a mix of liking some stories and not liking others. I don’t think there were any I disliked in this collection, and most I really liked. Many of the stories don’t quite “end”… with more of a leave-it-up-to-your-imagination kind of thing, which can be extra-creepy with horror stories! I have had “The ants go marching one-by-one...” going through my head since I finished the book (it played a role in one of the last stories).

Cumulative page total = 920

Jan 13, 1:32am Top

4. In the Kingdom of Ice / Hampton Sides
4.5 stars
443 pages

In the late 19th century, Captain De Long paired up with the owner of the New York Herald (who funded the trip) to sail the USS Jeannette to the North Pole. At the time (though no one had yet been there), some people thought that once you pushed past the ice, there was warmer and open water. De Long, armed with maps (many of which were simply incorrect) from German cartographer Petermann, took off on the multi-year voyage with 32 other men to sail through to the ice-free section and the North Pole. Without wanting to give too much away, this would prove to be incredibly dangerous.

This was amazing! Some of the background information near the start of the book, particularly about Bennett (who funded the trip), wasn’t as interesting, but it wasn’t uninteresting, either. I seem to be fascinated by survival stories (though I’m about the opposite of a risk-taker, myself - I’ll just read about it, thanks!). This one read like fiction and it kept me wanting to keep reading to find out what happened next. It is nonfiction, so it really happened, but I honestly didn’t know how it would turn out, so I was riveted!

Cumulative page total = 1,363

Jan 14, 5:09pm Top

5. The Woman in Cabin 10 / Ruth Ware
4.5 stars
341 pages

Lo is a travel writer with an opportunity to sail on a small new luxury cruise ship. On her first night on the ship, she is awoken to a scream next door and she’s certain someone has been thrown overboard! But, no one believes her. The room next door is empty and always was. There is no evidence anywhere to indicate that what Lo recounts might have actually happened.

I didn’t describe the first chapter in my summary, but as a single woman living alone, reading in bed just before turning the light off, that was creepy! I love cruises, so I loved the setting right off! This one pulled me in right away and I wanted to just keep reading. In fact, except for starting the book so late the first night, the next day, once I sat down to read, I just kept going until I finished! Twists and turns galore, and though maybe not necessarily realistic, it kept me on the edge of my seat!

Cumulative page total = 1,704

Jan 16, 12:01am Top

6. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind / William Kamkwamba
4 stars
240 pages

William Kamkwamba grew up in an African country, Malawi. His family were farmers and relied on the land and weather to be able to eat. When a famine hit the country and many people starved, William’s family made it through, but there was no money to send William to school. He so desperately wanted to go to school and learn. Instead, he went to the library and took out science books, from which he taught himself. He managed to build a windmill to provide his family home with electricity and had ideas for more things he wanted to build to make life better/easier.

This started off really slow for me, and I wasn’t hopeful at first. But, about ¼ of the way through (when the famine hit), it really picked up for me, and just seemed to get better and better. The parts that weren’t as interesting to me was when he talked about the superstitions and magic and the hold they sometimes have over the Malawian people. I’m not sure why those parts lost my interest, but they did. Overall, though, I was excited with William when he showed off his windmill to all the people gathered, and was happy for all his successes after.

Cumulative page total = 1,944

Jan 20, 12:07am Top

7. Looks Can Kill / Valerie Walker
3.5 stars
262 pages

Laura is on holiday in Italy and is kidnapped due to her resemblance to a woman who has just died. Her kidnapper has an elaborate plan to get money out of this.

It’s a good story, but a bit simplistic. That is, things happened too easily, I thought – too many coincidences, nice people to help along the way, etc. I didn’t realize, until reading the note about the author at the end, that this was meant to be YA. It does read more like YA, so the simplicity makes more sense knowing that, though the main character being 21-years old, I wouldn’t have actually guessed it was meant to be until reading it at the end. However, I still enjoyed the story, overall. It is told from a few different viewpoints (including the kidnappers) but I was most interested in Laura’s own story.

Cumulative page total = 2,206

Jan 21, 11:15pm Top

8. The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women / Kate Moore
5 stars
470 pages

In the early 20th century, radium was touted as being beneficial to one’s health. Clock dials were being painted with radium so they would glow in order to be read in the dark. Young women, mostly in their late teens or early 20s, were working in factories, hand painting the radium on to those dials, and being paid very well to do so. Not only hand painting them, but licking the brushes they used to paint, in order to make a nice sharp tip to be able to paint perfectly. Eventually, many of these women began having health problems, from their teeth falling out to carcinomas in various parts of their bodies. The companies that employed these women continued to insist it wasn’t radium that was the problem.

Wow! Scary stuff! Imagine your jawbone disintegrating and breaking through into your mouth in pieces. These women were still young, wanted to get married and have families. Even worse was when a group of women who worked at a factory in New Jersey successfully sued for their health problems, but the company in Illinois told their employees that the radium the company used in NJ wasn’t to blame – it was something additional they put in theirs that wasn’t used in the Illinois factory… so the “lip, dip, paint” method continued in Illinois.

This book is nonfiction, but read like fiction. It kept me wanting to read, and it was a surprisingly fast read. Even more horrifying, ”lip, dip, paint” was still being used in Illinois in 1978!!!!!!. I guess it’s nonfiction, so I shouldn’t need a spoiler there, but I’m putting it in, anyway.

Cumulative page total = 2,676

Edited: Feb 2, 11:12pm Top

My next audio (just started today) is a head start on one of my Feb. monthly challenges:

- Before I Fall / Lauren Oliver

Jan 24, 11:46pm Top

9. Broken Harbor / Tana French
4.5 stars
456 pages

Mick (really!? I listened to the audio – it was pronounced “Mike”! Anyway...) is a senior detective and is on a case where almost an entire family was murdered – dad and two kids, and mom almost didn’t make it. They live in an area outside the city that was supposed to be developed, but the development stopped not long after they moved in. Mick knows this area, which used to be called “Broken Harbor”, as he and his family used to go there when he and his sisters were young. Mick is working with a new detective, Richie, on the case.

Ok, so my summary isn’t very enticing on this one. But, the book really pulled me in quickly and I wanted to keep reading. I really, really liked this one! I loved Richie and (although French always has different detectives in her books), I was hoping for him to be featured in another book! Richie and Mick made a great team! Until, of course, Richie supremely let me down!!!. I guess that was just one of the twists and turns in the book. I hated Mick’s mentally ill sister, Dina… although it made for another interesting story. But, she drove me nuts and I could not fathom how he could put up with her antics! Overall, though, I really liked this one. This is such an amazing series!

Cumulative page total = 3,132

Jan 27, 1:32am Top

10. Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town / Jon Krakauer
4 stars
352 pages

In Missoula, Montana, many of the reported sexual assaults go unprosecuted, even if there seems to be evidence that should take these cases to trial and even when the victim wants to go ahead with charges. Even still, the prosecuting attorney often decides not to press charges. One of the tricky things in Missoula is that it’s such a football town and athletes are revered, so when they are the ones accused, there is a huge backlash. The US Department of Justice also stepped in around 2010ish to find out why rapists weren’t being prosecuted and how it can be made better to help the victims. Krakauer focuses on a few separate cases of celebrated football players being accused of rape, and the various ways this played out in and out of court.

Wow! Pretty scary that it happens so often. I had no idea! I have to admit, though, that because Krakauer went back and forth between cases in parts of his book, I did – a few times – get mixed up on who was who, and which case we were looking at at which times. There is a lot of information and stats that are quite horrifying. As soon as I finished the book, though, I had to go look up Beau Donaldson (a former football player and one of the rapists Krakauer focuses on) to see if I could find out where he is now.

Cumulative page total = 3,484

Edited: Feb 28, 11:12pm Top

February's hope/plan:

- The Dogs of Babel / Carolyn Parkhurst (RandomCAT)
- Perfume / Patrick Suskind (ScaredyKIT, AlphaKIT) - this may not come in from the library for me for Feb.
- Those Girls / Chevy Stevens (ScaredyKIT)
- Big Stone Gap / Adriana Trigiani (ColourCAT)
- The 8th Confession / James Patterson (MysteryCAT, AlphaKIT)
- Fortune's Fool / Mercedes Lackey
(PBT, Passport Challenge)
- China Dolls / Lisa See (PBT)
- Fall: The Rape and Murder of... / Ron Francis (PBT Decathlon)
- Jack of Fables. Vol. 1: The Nearly Great Escape / Bill Willingham (Mystery Subgenre)
- Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine and Madness / ? (Reading Through Time)

- Catherine the Great / Robert K. Massie (PBT)
- The Beekeeper's Apprentice / Laurie R. King (MysteryCAT, Mystery Subgenre)

Edited: Feb 2, 12:18am Top

Added in for the end of Jan (will continue into Feb):
- Tiger Drive / Teri Case

Jan 29, 10:42pm Top

11. Child of the Morning / Pauline Gedge
3.25 stars
443 pages

In ancient Egypt (I looked it up, and Hatshepsut lived around 1500 BC). Hatshupset ruled Egypt as a female Pharaoh (normally only a title/position for men). This is a fictionalized account of her life.

I seem to be in a minority for my opinion on this but… The first half was just not interesting to me. It was ok, but nothing more. It picked up somewhat in the second half, after her father died, with the power struggle between her and her half-brother. So, most of the second half, I would rate good, but there were still parts that lost my interest. It seemed, at times, like what happened was drawn out longer than it needed to be. I would have liked to know how much of the story was true, but there was no author’s note, unfortunately. All that being said, what an incredible woman, especially for the time. Decided on a rating between “ok” and “good”.

Cumulative page total = 3,927

Edited: Feb 2, 12:52am Top

12. Tiger Drive / Teri Case
3.75 stars
354 pages

Mostly set in 1989, Janice and Harry have been married for 30 years, but Harry is an alcoholic and is abusive. They have seven kids, four who still live at home in their “double-wide” trailer (there’s a story there!), though two are in their late teens and close to leaving. Janice had to give up her dreams when she got pregnant young and still pines for what she gave up.

It’s told from a few different points of view: Janice’s, Harry’s, WJ’s (their oldest son who has problems of his own), and Carrie’s (their youngest daughter, who at 17, will be graduating from high school soon and desperately wants to find a way to go to college).

Really liked the story, but I thought the end wrapped it up too nicely; it didn’t seem realistic to me. It wasn’t enough to bring my rating down to 3.5 (good/liked it), as I really liked most of the rest of it, but it was just enough to bring my rating down that little bit from 4 stars. The abuse at the very start of the book was a bit tough for me, though. I think almost all the characters were pretty unlikable, at least in one way or another, but they were still interesting enough that that didn’t put me off. I guess most of them had some redeeming quality of some type and/or the reason they were the way they were was explained. I also enjoyed the 80s references!

Cumulative page total = 4,281

Feb 2, 11:14pm Top

13. Before I Fall / Lauren Oliver
4 stars
484 pages

It’s “Cupid Day” at school, and Sam and her best friends love this day! It just reinforces how popular they all are! This day ends with a party, a confrontation with a girl Sam and her friends have been bullying for years, and a car crash. And Sam wakes up the next day to replay the day over… and the next day, and the next day…

Omg, those are hateful girls! I hated them all so much! Of course, this being from Sam’s POV, though I hated her at the start, as the day kept replaying for her, she learned things and did get “better”. I actually thought I was going to hate the book at the start, those girls were so terrible! I listened to the audio and the narrator did a great job! She was very good with distinguishing voices, as well. Lindsay (the worst of the four of them) had a voice that “fit” the personality, I think, and Elody had a kind of sing-song, whiny, airhead voice. I suppose getting the reader to hate the hateful characters so much, as much as I hated them, is a good thing?

Cumulative page total = 4,765

Feb 4, 5:55pm Top

14. The Dogs of Babel / Carolyn Parkhurst
3.5 stars
216 pages

When Lexy falls (or jumps?) from a tree and dies, her (and Paul’s) dog, Lorelei, is the only one who knows what happened. Paul, a linguist, decides to teach Lorelei to talk so she can tell him. The story also goes back in time to tell Lexy and Paul’s story.

It was good. Can’t believe Paul would take Lorelei with him to that meeting!!! Poor Lorelei. Have to admit, I didn’t really connect with Paul (or Lexy), so I didn’t really feel that badly about Lexy’s death. I maybe felt more badly for Lorelei! Paul just seemed distant or something; he didn’t even seem that affected… or that might have been how it was written. Overall, though, it was still good.

Cumulative page total = 4,981

Feb 7, 11:43pm Top

15. The Darkest Night: Two Sisters, a Brutal Murder, and the Loss of Innocence in a Small Town / Ron Franscell
3.75 stars
283 pages

In a town in Wyoming in 1973, 18-year old Becky and her 11-year old sister Amy went to pick up some groceries. By the next morning, Amy was dead in a canyon, thrown of a high bridge, and Becky somehow managed to survive the night with a broken pelvis after having been raped and also thrown off the bridge. The author was the girls’ neighbour. The book not only looks at the crime, but it also looks at Becky and Amy’s lives, the lives of the two convicted murderers/rapists, and the author thinks back on his own life in the small town where it happened.

The first half of the book was the most interesting, where it focused on the crime and aftermath, including the trial. The next part of the book follows Becky’s life, as well as Ronnie’s and Jerry’s, in jail for their crimes. The books slips a little (at least I found it less interesting) as it looks closely at an autobiography written by Ronnie; as the author scrutinizes the autobiography, it becomes more clear why he includes as much of it as he does in the book. But, it is due to this section that I brought my rating down to just under 4 stars.

Cumulative page total = 5,264

Feb 11, 2:31am Top

16. Fortune's Fool / Mercedes Lackey
3.25 stars
248 pages

Katya is a sea princess, daughter of the Sea King. Sasha is the 7th son of the leader of a land kingdom; he is a fool and a songweaver. After a little romance between them, Katya is called away to save some kidnapped girls, and Sasha later comes to find Katya.

I mostly enjoyed this one, though I did lose interest at various intervals. I did like Katya – she is a strong character and a spy for her father. Parts of the book were from her point of view, while other parts were from Sasha’s. At the start, I enjoyed Katya’s POV more, but I was enjoying Sasha’s more in the second half of the book, as well.

Cumulative page total = 5,512

Feb 12, 11:00am Top

>24 LibraryCin: I'm going to have to check this out. I haven't read anything of hers besides the Valdemar series, but I have read the entirety of that, more than once - she has such a great way of developing accessible characters. Is this a stand-alone or part of a series?

Feb 12, 8:39pm Top

This one is part of a series of retold fairy tales. However, if you aren't OCD (I am!) about reading them in order, this series focuses on different characters/fairy tales/kingdoms, so they could all be stand-alones. :-)

This is the 3rd one. The others I've read in the series are the first two (can't recall which is first off the top of my head...):
One Good Knight
The Fairy Godmother

And, having now checked, "The Fairy Godmother" is the first one.

Feb 17, 7:18pm Top

17. The Beekeeper's Apprentice / Laurie R. King
2.5 stars
368 pages

Mary Russell is 15-years old when she meets a “retired” Sherlock Holmes. They find they have similar styles in deduction, so they team up to solve mysteries. At some point, it seems that someone is trying to kill people associated with Holmes (or maybe Holmes, himself?)

I listened to the audio (though I’m not sure reading it would have made a difference) and I often lost interest. I just didn’t find it very interesting, but that seems to be par for the course for me and Sherlock Holmes. I really should give up on him (Conan Doyle’s Holmes or otherwise), but I think I have a book in print that features him, so I’ll probably read that, but that may be the end of my trying Holmes, as I just don’t seem to enjoy any of his stories, including this one.

Cumulative page total = 5,880

Edited: Feb 17, 7:19pm Top

And, change of plans on my next audio. Instead of "Catherine the Great" by Robert Massie, I've moved on to:

Peter the Great / Robert K. Massie

Feb 17, 7:39pm Top

18. Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood / William J. Mann
3.5 stars
490 pages

William Desmond Taylor was a silent movie director into the 1920s when he was murdered. His killer was never found, or at least, never tried or convicted. There were suspicions on who might have done it, but no arrests and nothing proven. This book looks at his murder, along with other Hollywood business practices, crimes, and scandals. There is some focus on Taylor’s friend and actress, Mabel Normand, as well as another young actress who was in love with him, Mary Miles Mintner, whose mother was very protective of Mary and didn’t like Taylor at all. There was also some focus on Adolf Zukor, who ran a number of (Famous Players) movie theatres, and his business practices.

I found the murder mystery part of this book interesting, but wasn’t as interested in the cut-throat business practices of Hollywood at the time, so I did lose focus at times. Overall, the murder story was enough to keep my rating at “good”. There are a number of photos included in the book, which was nice, as I don’t know and can’t picture most of the people mentioned (though I certainly recognized prominent names from Hollywood at the time!).

Cumulative page total = 6,370

Feb 19, 2:30am Top

19. The 8th Confession / James Patterson, Maxine Paetro
4 stars
354 pages

A school bus blows up, taking innocent lives with it. A homeless man is found violently murdered. A rich, well-known couple are found dead in their beds… and the cause of death is a mystery, even after full autopsies.

Reporter Cindy found the homeless man, so when the police (including friend Lindsay) don’t want to spend time or resources on solving it, Cindy turns it into a story to force them to look into it. Lawyer Yuki is trying a case where a girl murdered her father – the pressure is on to get a conviction. All three are in various stages of relationships.

I really liked this one. More than some of the others in the series, but that may (at least in part) be due to usually listening to the audios. The audios aren’t bad, but maybe I’m liking it just a bit better in print. Even the relationship interactions were enjoyable, though I can’t say I liked either Lindsay or Yuki’s reactions to various relationship “twists”. However, still really enjoyed the book!

Cumulative page total = 6,724

Feb 22, 11:37pm Top

20. Big Stone Gap / Adriana Trigiani
3.5 stars
320 pages

In the late 1970s in a small town in Virginia, Ave Maria is 35-years old and a “spinster”. She is a pharmacist and owns the town pharmacy. She has never worried too much about not having a man. Her father died a long time ago and her mother just recently died; she left a letter for her daughter: a letter that will change Ave Maria’s life!

I liked it, but I didn’t like the parts in Italy as much as the parts in Virginia. And did she really have to throw that extra bit in at the very end? I know, most people probably like and expect that kind of ending, for how that story was going, but I didn’t like or expect it. It actually hadn’t even occurred to me until it happened. I will still, however, continue the series (trilogy?).

Cumulative page total = 7,044

Edited: Feb 25, 5:37pm Top

Since the Mystery Subgenre book I wanted to use didn't really "fit" in the end, I got this one instead:

- Catch Me if you Can / Frank Abignale

Feb 25, 5:37pm Top

21. Catch Me If You Can / Frank W. Abagnale
3.5 stars
206 pages

Frank Abagnale Jr. was only 16 years old in the 1960s when he left is father’s home (his parents had recently separated) and spent years impersonating an airline pilot, a pediatrician, a lawyer, a teacher, before switching to producing counterfeit cheques. Once he was finally caught, after spending time in prison in a few different countries, he ended up helping the FBI with recognizing scammers.

This was a good book. The most interesting parts to me was the impersonations, rather than the info about the cheque counterfeiting. Also, once he was caught, the prison systems in the different countries was very different (France vs. Sweden); I was surprised at how different it was in each country. I liked the movie that came out a while back (and now want to re-watch!), but although the book seemed short, there was still more in the book.

Cumulative page total = 7,250

Edited: Apr 1, 1:52pm Top

Ok, some possibilities for March:

- Library of Souls / Ransom Riggs (ScaredyKIT, PBT Decathlon?)
- Into the Silence / Wade Davis (Reading Through Time, AlphaKIT)
- The Gerbil Farmer's Daughter / Holly Robinson (ColorCAT)
- Jane Bites Back / Michael Thomas Ford (AlphaKIT)
- Snow White Must Die / Nele Neuhaus (MysteryCAT)
- Machete Season / Jean Hatzfeld (RandomCAT)
- Small Beneath the Sky / Lorna Crozier (PBT)
- In the Pleasure Groove / John Taylor (PBT, AlphaKIT, PBT Decathlon)
- Mountains Beyond Mountains (Passport Challenge)
- The Courage Tree / Diane Chamberlain (ColourCAT)
- Charley's Web / Joy Fielding
(Mystery Subgenre)

Non-monthly challenge books:
- Jack of Fables. Vol. 1: The Nearly Great Escape / Bill Willingham (ILL that didn't come in Feb)
- Gone Without a Trace / Mary Torjussen
(f2f book club for April; I may get to it in March)

Audio (continuing):
- Peter the Great / Robert K. Massie

Feb 25, 6:04pm Top

I liked The Gerbil Farmer's Daughter / Holly Robinson.

Feb 25, 9:43pm Top

Thx julie. Good to hear. Its actually been on my tbr for a long time!

Feb 28, 11:11pm Top

22. Those Girls / Chevy Stevens.
4.5 stars
376 pages

Due to the abuse suffered at the hands of their father (their mother died a few years earlier), three sisters, Dani, Courtney, and Jess, run away, only to find themselves in a town where some initially seemingly nice guys help them out. But, this goes badly and they end up in another terrifyingly horrible situation! 18 years later, after having lived in Vancouver since then and having built a life for themselves, things take another turn and the past is back…

I was trying to describe that with no spoilers - at least nothing that was not mentioned on the back of the book (I may have mentioned less than what’s on the book blurb)! The first half of the book is told from Jess’ point of view; Jess is the youngest sister. Perspective switches for the second half. This was a book I just didn’t want to put down! I wanted to keep reading. There is a lot of violence, though, so be warned of that.

Cumulative page total = 7,626

Mar 3, 2:53pm Top

23. Jane Bites Back / Michael Thomas Ford
3.5 stars
229 pages

It’s current day. Jane Austen (now known as Jane Fairfax) is a vampire and is running a small bookstore in a town in New York State. She has written a novel and has been trying for a long time to get it published, but she has been rejected 116 times! She is friends with Lucy, the woman who works for her, and is fighting possible romantic feelings for a local man who is interested in her, Walter.

I really enjoyed this! It’s just a light, enjoyable read and I enjoyed the literary characters. Funny thing – yes, it’s a vampire novel (so obviously unbelievable to start with!) – there were a few little things I found unbelievable, though they were little things. It’s the first book in a series (or trilogy?) and I do plan to continue.

Cumulative page total = 7,855

Mar 5, 9:15pm Top

24. Library of Souls / Ransom Riggs
3.5 stars
281 pages

Trying to do a summary without giving anything away in the previous books: Jacob and Emma, along with talking dog, Ambrose, need to help the others. (Hey! It’s a “Ridiculously simplified synopsis”, like I used to sometimes add on shelfari!)

This one picked off right where the 2nd book left off. It took me a while to remember what was going on and to get back “into” it, but I quite enjoyed it once I did. I don’t think I liked it as much as the first book, though I still love the old photographs and how the author used them to come up with a story, but I liked it better than the 2nd book.

Cumulative page total = 8,136

Mar 11, 3:47pm Top

25. Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest / Wade Davis
3.25 stars
683 pages

George Mallory made three attempts to summit Everest in the early 1920s. On his third attempt in 1924, he and a young, inexperienced Sandy Irvine went missing, and no one knows whether they made it to the top or not. This book looks at all three attempts, plus the people who were involved, many who also fought in WWI.

I really liked the last 1/3 of the book (4 stars worth), but the first 2/3 were hit or miss for me. There were parts that seemed really good, but they just didn’t hold my interest. Some of the stuff on the war was very well-written, but overall, that part of the book just wasn’t all that great for me. However, in the last 1/3 of the book, which followed the last two attempts at Everest in 1922 and 1924, I was fascinated (as I usually expect to be when reading about Everest!). It is possible (but hard to say for sure) the not-holding-my-attention in the first 2/3 of the book (over 400 pages!) could simply be due to stress in my life at the moment. There were also a lot of people involved, so sometimes I would lose track of who was who.

Cumulative page total = 8,819

Edited: Mar 23, 11:29pm Top

Added in a book for the Passport Challenge for this month, though I made it easier and chose for South America, rather than Colombia, specifically:

- Mountains Beyond Mountains / Tracy Kidder

And, my super-long audio expired from the library. Even though most of the time when I check, it has been available, NOW there's a hold after me! I'm only a little more than half-way through (equivalent in pages, it's over 900!). So, I'm listening to something else and I've got a hold for when the other person is done, so I can finish it.

In the meantime, my audio is:

- Fool Me Once / Harlen Coben (which, I think, should fit the Mystery Subgenre challenge)

Mar 12, 9:39pm Top

26. In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death & Duran Duran / John Taylor
4 stars
388 pages

John Taylor of Duran Duran was born Nigel John Taylor and he was an only child. He and his best friend, Nick, later formed what would become Duran Duran. This book looks at John’s life.

I enjoyed more of his childhood and personal life than the details of Duran Duran, to be honest. He did mostly keep to his own life and didn’t share too much of the other guys’ lives beyond the group (so no “dirt” dished out in this book!). John shared more of his seemingly happy childhood than details on the alcohol, drugs, and women as he got older (and successful!), though there was some of that, as well. However, despite being short on details, I still really enjoyed this. There were lots of photographs spread throughout the book and it was quick to read.

Cumulative page total = 9,207

Mar 14, 10:56pm Top

27. Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak / Jean Hatzfeld
3 stars
259 pages

The author first wrote a book where he interviewed 14 survivors of the genocide in Rwanda. I haven’t read it, though I've read plenty of other books about it. It was only later that he thought to interview some of those who killed during the genocide. In this book, the interviews were interspersed with history, sometimes a description of interview process and how it came about that the author decided to write this one, sometimes the voices of some of the survivors are included.

The killers just came across to me as very cold, no remorse – to them, it was a job. I wonder if that’s why the book didn’t affect me all that much? I felt detached while reading it. Overall, I’m rating it ok, but for me, there are much better books about Rwanda out there.

Cumulative page total = 9,466

Mar 15, 11:27pm Top

28. The Gerbil Farmer's Daughter / Holly Robinson
3.5 stars
290 pages

This follows Holly Robinson as a child and teenager, and into the start of college. She grew up in the ‘60s and ‘70s and her unorthodox father, while in the Navy, decided to pursue his interest in breeding gerbils, a new type of animal to be potentially used in laboratory research.

I enjoyed the book, but was disappointed to discover that the gerbils were being bred for research purposes (I hadn’t realized that initially), rather than as pets. Other than that, I did enjoy the story, the information about the gerbils, etc. There was also a little bit of humour here and there in the book.

Cumulative page total = 9,756

Mar 19, 1:28am Top

29. Snow White Must Die / Nele Neuhaus
4 stars
374 pages

Tobias is just coming home after 10 years in prison for murdering two teenage girls (his own age) in the small town he lived in. He was convicted on (damning) circumstantial evidence, and that he had blacked out and couldn’t even remember if he’d done it himself. In those 10 years, his family lost so much. There is a new girl in town, Amelie, who befriends Tobias, and tries to find out more about the case. Meanwhile, the townspeople are not happy that Tobias is back.

I really liked this. The viewpoint shifted quite often, which was fine, but there were a lot of characters, so I was getting people confused for a while. Especially amongst the police, as they would sometimes refer to the same person by their first name and other times, by their last name. There was some following of the two main police officers, but I didn’t find either of their personal stories all that interesting. Tobias’s story was, by far, the best part of the book.

Cumulative page total = 10,130

Edited: Mar 26, 11:13pm Top

I'm switching the book I thought I'd read for the Monthly Mystery Subgenre challenge. I am listening to a Harlan Coben book right now, and I thought I would read a different one for the challenge, but I don't want to do two books by him in a row, so instead, I will likely read:

Charley's Web / Joy Fielding

Mar 20, 3:37pm Top

>29 LibraryCin: A couple of years since I read this but really enjoyed it.

Mar 20, 7:29pm Top

>47 Andrew-theQM: It certainly got me interested enough to seek out more about the murder!

Mar 21, 10:18pm Top

30. Fool Me Once / Harlan Coben
3.5 stars
400 pages

Maya, former military, witnessed the murder of her husband, but soon after, sees him on her nanny cam! She sets out to find out what’s going on – is her mind playing tricks on her?

This was good, but maybe not as much as many of his other books. There were plenty of twists, and I definitely didn’t see the end coming! I really disliked Maya, though, and I was still left a little bit confused about one thing at the end. As a side note, I listened to the audio, and the narrator did a nice job.

Cumulative page total = 10,530

Mar 23, 11:29pm Top

31. Mountains Beyond Mountains / Tracy Kidder
3.5 stars
317 pages

Before Paul Farmer became a doctor, he spent some time in Haiti with poor people. He already had an anthropology degree. He realized that helping these people get well was what he wanted to do with his life. And workaholic that he seemed to be (at least doing this, what he loved to do), that’s what he did! And, he started a foundation (Partners in Health) that expanded to Peru and Russia and beyond. They treated mostly TB and HIV.

This was good. Impressive, everything he did/does, but at the same time one wonders how he managed/manages to get everything done. He had to also navigate political interactions, as well.

Cumulative page total = 10,847

Edited: Mar 31, 12:11am Top

Adding in one more audio before I get the 900+ page one back from the library:
- Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu

Can't recall the title exactly, but it's something along those lines!

Edited: Mar 30, 1:16am Top

32. Small Beneath the Sky / Lorna Crozier
3.5 stars
193 pages

Lorna Crozier is a poet. She was born in 1948 and grew up in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. This tells of her life, much of it during her childhood. Her family didn’t have a lot of money and her father was an alcoholic.

I liked this. I wasn’t sure at first, as there are short chapters that just seem descriptive, which I guess shows more of her poetic side, but those sections didn’t interest me nearly as much as her life stories. I grew up in Southern Sask, and my dad grew up in Swift Current, so it’s always fun to read about places you know. It’s a short book, and she did skip over a lot of stuff. Overall, though, I did enjoy the parts about her life and the familiar places.

Cumulative page total = 11,040

Edited: Mar 30, 1:15am Top

33. Charley's Web / Joy Fielding
4 stars
437 pages

Charley (Charlotte) is a columnist for a newspaper. When she is contacted by a child murderer on death row to write her side of the story, Charley is a bit hesitant, but decides to do it. Meanwhile, she and her two kids’ lives are being threatened due to some of what she’s writing in her columns.

This really pulled me in. I wanted to keep reading, and I did! I finished it faster than I’d expected, but the drawback is that I’m afraid I might forget it quicker, as well. However, it was a great read while I was reading, that’s for sure! Definite twist ending I certainly didn’t see coming!

Cumulative page total = 11,477

Mar 27, 6:01am Top

>53 LibraryCin: Will have to check this out as I really enjoyed the only Joy Foelding book I’ve Read so far.

Mar 27, 9:10pm Top

>54 Andrew-theQM: I think you should! I hope you like it, if you do!

Edited: Mar 27, 9:34pm Top

>54 Andrew-theQM: >55 LibraryCin: Here's my review of Charley's Web by Joy Fielding - 4 stars - read 6/25/2027

Charley Webb is a single mother and a writer for a large newspaper and she gets many emails about what she has to say. But when she receives a letter from Jill Rohmer, a young woman serving time on death row for the murders of three small children, her boundaries slowly begin to fade. When threats start targeting her son and daughter, Charley races against time to save her family.

I found this book very entertaining but also a real rollercoaster ride when Charley begins her journey into the mind of this deeply troubled woman. This story kept me guessing all the way through to the very surprise ending. Joy Fielding knows how to build suspense until the final pages. I look forward to reading more of her books and I would highly recommend this book to those who love psychological suspense.

Mar 27, 9:55pm Top

>56 EadieB: Great review!

Edited: Apr 30, 11:15pm Top

Some options for April:

- The Unquiet Past / Kelly Armstrong (AlphaKIT)
- You Couldn't Ignore Me If you Tried / Susannah Gora
- Yarrow / Charles de Lint (AlphaKIT, PBT) - if the ILL comes from the library
- French Lessons / (ColourCAT)
- By the Shores of Silver Lake / Laura Ingalls Wilder (ColourCAT)
- China Dolls / Lisa See (Reading Through Time)
- Perfume / Patrick Suskind (ScaredyKIT, MysteryCAT, Passport Challenge)
- Brimstone / Preston and Child (ScaredyKIT)
- Black Chuck / Regan McD (RandomCAT)
- Primates / J.O. (PBT)
- Deadliest Sea / KT (PBT Decathlon)
- The Chamber / John Grisham (Mystery Subgenre)
- Number the Stars / Lois Lowry
(Passport Challenge)

- Catherine the Great / Robert K. Massie (PBT)
- Peter the Great / Robert K. Massie

Mar 30, 1:15am Top

34. Gone Without a Trace / Mary Torjussen
4.5 stars
309 pages

One day, when Hannah comes home from work, she finds her boyfriend, Matt, gone. All his stuff is gone, and her stuff is put back in its place from before he moved in. It’s as if he was never there. All his online profiles are gone, all photos that included him are missing, including from Hannah’s devices, all emails and texts are gone. There is no trace of him.

I got sucked into this right away! This sure kept me wanting to read! And the twist!!! I didn’t see it coming at all, but to be honest, I usually don’t. Hannah was extremely obsessive, and there was plenty to not like about her, but I still felt badly for her and wanted her to find Matt. I couldn’t believe the way her best friend, Katie, was treating the whole thing – I did not like that at all. I will stop there; I don’t want to say too much more, for fear of accidentally giving something away.

Cumulative page total = 11,786

Mar 31, 12:14am Top

35. The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu / Joshua Hammer
2 stars
288 pages

According to the title (and subtitle), this is meant to be about librarians in Timbuktu (a city in the African country of Mali) who saved over 300,000 manuscripts from Al Qaeda after they occupied Timbuktu. Really, there was some about the guy collecting all these manuscripts, and later on, about evacuating them all; but, the majority of the book was really about the history of Islam, and the history of the area.

I was disappointed. I guess I’m just not that interested in the history, at least the way it was written in this book, anyway. I listened to the audio, which may have had a bearing on what I thought, but in all honesty, I still don’t think I would have liked it.

Cumulative page total = 12,074

Edited: Mar 31, 10:45am Top

>60 LibraryCin: The title alone should earn it another half star at least:)

Mar 31, 1:56pm Top

>61 Carol420: LOL! But, that's part of why it was so disappointing! The content of the book really didn't fit the title!

Apr 1, 1:53pm Top

36. The Courage Tree / Diane Chamberlain
4 stars
383 pages

When Janine’s 8-year old, Sophie, goes away to a camp with the other Brownies/Girl Scouts, it’s an adventure for her. Sophie is in end-stage renal failure, but has been feeling so much better on an alternative herbal mixture that is being tested. On the way home, she and another little girl are in a second vehicle with a younger leader. When their vehicle doesn’t return home, time is ticking on Sophie’s treatment. What happened? Janine and her ex-husband, Joe, are frantic to find Sophie!

This was really good. Another page-turner that kept me wanting to stay up late and read! Oh, Joe and Janine’s parents just made me want to smack them all, though. In addition to a couple other characters.

Cumulative page total = 12,457

Apr 1, 2:23pm Top

37. Jack of Fables. Vol. 1: The (Nearly) Great Escape / Bill Willingham
4 stars
127 pages

Jack Horner/Jack the Giant-Killer is a big shot in Hollywood, but when he walks away from it, he is captured and brought to a “retirement home” for Fables. Really, it’s a prison and they aren’t allowed to leave. Jack manages to convince the others to try to escape.

I quite enjoyed this! As with all the Fables graphic novels, the illustrations are amazing. I enjoyed the little gallery at the end of various sketches of some of the characters, as well. I liked the new characters at the prison, the Page sisters (called “librarians” but really, their jobs have them in “Retrievals”, “Security” and “Research”). I will definitely be continuing this spin-off series! (Now, if only I would go back and finish the original Fables series – I only have a couple more to go!)

Cumulative page total = 12,584

Apr 2, 10:09pm Top

38. Black Chuck / Regan McDonell
4 stars
291 pages

Real’s best friend, Shaun, has died, and Rael feels responsible, though all he remembers is beating Shaun up that night; after that, he can’t remember. Shaun’s 16-year old girlfriend, Evie, is pregnant. As Real tries to come to grips with what happened, he and Evie become closer.

This started off kind of slow, but I liked both Rael and Evie and how they related to each other. I’m not sure how big or small the town was meant to be, but it had a small town feel, with the teenagers drinking, partying, and drugs being available.

Cumulative page total = 12,875

Apr 9, 8:21pm Top

39. The Chamber / John Grisham
3.5 stars
508 pages

Adam Hall is a new lawyer. In Mississippi, Sam Cayhall, a (former) KKK member, is on death row for bombing a building in 1967 where a Jewish lawyer worked; the bomb went off when the lawyer’s 5-year old twin sons were there and both were killed. When Adam learns that Sam is his grandfather (Adam was only 3 when his father left Mississippi and changed all their names so as to not be associated with his own racist KKK father), he decides to head to Mississippi to fight the death sentence against Sam.

This was good, but maybe not quite as good as many of Grisham’s others. I think it was a bit slower. There were sort of two parts to it: the legal case being made and the pro/con death penalty, but also the story of a family with secrets, as Adam and Sam (and Adam and his aunt, Sam’s daughter) get to know each other. I thought about upping my rating just a little bit at the end, but decided I’d stick with how I felt through the majority of the book and go with 3.5 stars “good”.

Cumulative page total = 13,383

Apr 10, 9:33pm Top

40. You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried / Susannah Gora
4 stars
344 pages

This book looks at ‘80s teen movies, including many John Hughes’ movies. The book takes the reader behind the scenes in the movies and we learn about the actors, as well as John Hughes and the other directors. There are chapters on “Sixteen Candles”, “The Breakfast Club”, “St. Elmo’s Fire”, “Pretty in Pink”, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, “Some Kind of Wonderful”, and “Say Anything”.

What a fun book for someone who was a teenager in the 80s (me)! I’ve seen all but two of the movies (and now feel like I should see those two!). Many of the actors were part of what became labelled the “Brat Pack”, based on an article written that was originally meant to be about Emilio Estevez, but became about a group of them who were out together one night. To be honest, I’d not even realized the phrase was meant (at the time) to be derogatory; I never read the article, nor had I realized that’s even where the term originated. So, I did learn plenty about the actors and the movies. I also want to go back and re-watch some of the movies I’ve already seen. My favourites were “Pretty in Pink” (I love Duckie!) and “Some Kind of Wonderful”.

Cumulative page total = 13,727

Apr 13, 11:04pm Top

41. Brimstone / Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
3 stars
528 pages

In this Pendergast novel, someone is found, seemingly burned from the inside-out and there is a burnt hoof-print in the room.

I liked the beginning and end of the book, but much of the middle lost my interest. I’ve listened to many of the Pendergast novels, but have not been happy with them, so I finally tried an ebook, but I’m not sure it’s worth another chance. This one was way too long, and I don’t think I’m enjoying them enough to continue on. The ending has me a bit intrigued, but I’m not sure it’s enough. Hmmm, I’ve looked back and I liked more than I thought of the previous books. I guess it’s just the couple I didn’t like as much that stuck in my head. Maybe I should keep going, after all.

Cumulative page total = 14,255

Apr 15, 2:24am Top

42. Deadliest Sea: The Untold Story Behind the Greatest Rescue in Coast Guard History / Kalee Thompson
4 stars
309 pages

In 2008, a fishing trawler sunk in the Bearing Sea in Alaskan waters. There were 47 people on board. They were hours away from any help, but Coast Guard helicopters made their way there, along with a ship to help rescue as many people as possible.

The book started off a little “slower” (though still good), with cutting back and forth between the sinking of the boat and background information. At times, I found it a bit hard to follow… but only at first. As the book continued on, I got to know the people better (though there were a lot of people, so it was still easy to get some of them mixed up), so it helped me “place” where we were in the story (whether “current” timeline or background info on the people, or the history of the area, or the fishing industry, or whatever). In the end, I thought it was really good. The book was primarily put together based on interviews with the people involved.

Cumulative page total = 14,564

Edited: Apr 15, 8:47pm Top

43. Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas / Jim Ottaviani, Maris Wicks
4 stars
138 pages

This is a YA graphic novel that tells of the lives and great ape studies of Jane Goodall (chimpanzees), Dian Fossey (gorillas), and Birute Galdikas (orangutans).

This was really good! I’ve read about Goodall and Fossey before, but nothing about Galdikas (though I’ve now added one of her books to my tbr!). Because it’s a fairly short graphic novel that covers all three women, it skips a lot of detail, but I really enjoyed the information that was there, and I loved the illustrations! There is also a very nice bibliography included at the end. Beautiful graphic novel about three amazing women.

Cumulative page total = 14,702

Apr 16, 11:45pm Top

44. Number the Stars / Lois Lowry.
4 stars
89 pages

It’s 1943 and the Nazis have occupied Denmark for a few years now. Annemarie is 10-years old and lives in Copenhagen. Her best friend, Ellen, is Jewish. When Ellen’s family learns that the Nazis will start relocating Jews, they make plans to hide, and Annemarie’s family is helping.

This is told from Annemarie’s point of view. So, there is a lot she doesn’t know, but she can often tell when something is bad or wrong. It’s a very short book (but, of course, it’s intended for kids), but very good. I didn’t know of the Nazi occupation of Denmark (or, I guess, hadn’t really thought about Scandinavia during the war), so it was interesting to me to learn about what happened there (and that Sweden, on the other hand, was left alone by the Nazis). Lowry included an author’s note at the end to explain what was real and what was fiction; I always appreciate that in my historical fiction.

Cumulative page total = 14,791

Apr 17, 12:21am Top

45. Peter the Great: His Life and World / Robert K. Massie
2 stars
910 pages

This is a biography of Peter the Great, who was Tsar of Russia in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Of course, it’s also a history of Russia at the time. Entwined with that (due to wars) is some history of Sweden.

I should start by mentioning that I listened to the audio. It was very very loooooong. And boring. At least, the entire looooong middle section about warring with Sweden (or Tsweden, as pronounced by the narrator – like tsar; and unfortunately, we also got words like tsea and tsince), just isn’t all that interesting to me, so I tuned out. The stuff about Peter’s family life and Russian architecture – that held my interest a bit more, but not by much, unfortunately. But, oh my god – listening to that guy pronounce many words starting with ‘s’ as if they start with ‘ts’ - gaaahh! I should also add that I do find the history/biography of women more interesting to start with. Also, I seem to prefer female narrators – not all the time in either case, but often. So, all those factors may have lessened my interest in this one.

Cumulative page total = 15,701

Apr 18, 9:25pm Top

46. The Unquiet Past / Kelley Armstrong
4 stars
186 pages

This is one of 7 books in the “Secrets” series, all written by different authors. The premise behind the series, as a whole, is that, in 1964, an orphanage in Ontario has burnt down. The oldest kids are sent off on their own with only a small piece of info given to each of them about their past.

In this one, Tess is given only a phone number (but it’s out of service) and an address in a town in Quebec. The address leads to a large abandoned house. Tess has visions, and has never told anyone other than her very best friend about them. She gets an eerie feeling in this house. What happened here and what is Tess’ connection to the place?

I really liked this. I loved the super-creepy feeling at one point in the story. Wow, this author was very good with creating that creepy atmosphere! This is the second book I’ve read in this series, and I do plan to continue on.

Cumulative page total = 15,887

Apr 22, 1:51am Top

47. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer / Patrick Suskind
2.25 stars
255 pages

Jean-Baptiste Grenouille was an orphan and people didn’t like him from when he was a baby and wanted nothing to do with him. Mostly, he didn’t want anything to do with other people either. To other people, there was something very odd about him. Though others didn’t necessarily know it, Grenouille had an amazing sense of smell, unlike any other human.

WTF was that ending!? Despite how slow-moving the book was, with a TON of description (slow-moving and lots of description is not usually my thing), I was ready to rate this 3 stars (ok) or possibly even 3.5 stars (good), but if I was the kind of person to throw a book across the room (I’ve never done it), this is the book I would have thrown due to the ending! WTF was that!? Other than the end, I surprised myself by not skimming and being completely bored by all the description of the scents and such. But, seriously!? What a ridiculous ending! Oh, the title is a bit misleading; well, there are murders, but they are almost all within a very short interval close to the end of the book. I’m giving it the extra .25 star for somehow managing to keep my interest despite all the description and nothing happening.

Cumulative page total = 16,142

Edited: Apr 23, 9:53pm Top

My next audio wasn't in at the library when I was ready for it, so I started one I own (the one from the library has since come in, but I'll finish this one first. It's not long.

Where I Belong / Alan Doyle

Apr 23, 9:34am Top

>75 LibraryCin: is this the Alan Doyle from Great Big Sea?

Edited: Apr 23, 7:29pm Top

>76 Darth-Heather: Yes, it is! Just finished it today and I loved it!!!! 5 stars! May not have been quite as high a rating, except for it having been the audio. :-) Review to come this evening.

ETA: I'll add the subtitle when I write the review (hadn't originally noticed there was one!): "From Small Town to Great Big Sea".

Apr 23, 9:53pm Top

48. Where I Belong: Small Town to Great Big Sea / Alan Doyle
5 stars
315 pages

Alan Doyle grew up to become lead singer of Great Big Sea. He grew up in a small town, just outside St. John’s, Newfoundland with 3 siblings and a very musical family; in fact, they were known as “The Doyles from Petty Harbour” and everyone knew they were musical. The book is told as a series of stories, and include stories of his family and friends, music, religion (Catholic vs. Protestant), fishing, and more.

I listened to the audio, read by Alan himself. I loved it! The accent and the phrases, and he’s so funny! I laughed out loud many times (people on transit probably stealing odd glances toward me?)! Oh, what a great storyteller! Listening to the audio, he actually played a recording of a brief conversation with his mom, and when there were lyrics in the text of the book, he sang them. Sigh…

I had a roommate/best friend in my 20s who was from Newfoundland (in fact, from The Goulds, near Petty Harbour, where Alan went to high school) – the accent and phrases and funny stories all made me think of her. He’s only a few years older than me and my friend, so I recognized many things/places that she talked about, as well. Oh, I even remember her mentioning the high school band he was in – I think she showed me a yearbook photo of them with the FA on the drums (for First Attempt).

I really don’t think people would need the personal (or in my case, secondary) references to enjoy this, though. I highly recommend the audio!

Cumulative page total = 16,457

Apr 24, 10:08pm Top

49. China Dolls / Lisa See
4 stars
401 pages

It’s 1938. Grace is from small-town Ohio, where she and her parents were the only Orientals, though her parents brought her up to be completely American, and has left her abusive home to go to San Francisco to try out as a dancer at an expo. While trying to find her way around Chinatown, she meets Helen, who was raised in a very traditional Chinese family/home. She convinces Helen to come with her to try out, as well. At the tryouts, they meet Ruby, another dancer, who wants to become famous. They become friends and live through WWII trying to make ends meet as entertainers in the Oriental clubs, and later on, touring the “Chop-Suey Circuit”.

I really liked this! I have to admit, I liked Grace best of the three girls, and I found her story the most interesting. The book is told in alternating chapters from each of the girls’ points of view. Each chapter is titled with the girl’s name, so I was able to follow this quite easily. It was really interesting to learn about the Chinese entertainers from the time period.

Cumulative page total = 16,858

Edited: May 28, 11:18pm Top

Possibilities for May:

- The Cat Who Went to Paris / PG (MysteryCAT)
- Thereby Hangs a Tail / Spencer Quinn (AlphaKIT)
- North of Normal / Cea SP
(book club)
- Ghosts / Raina T (ColourCAT, PBT)
- The Headmaster's Wager / Vincent Lam (Reading Through Time)
- Weeds: In Defense of Nature's... / Richard Mabey (RandomCAT)
- The Lake House / Kate Morton (AlphaKIT, PBT)
- The Little Stranger / Sarah Waters (PBT Decathlon)
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder / Joanne Fluke (Mystery Subgenre)
- The Concubine's Children / Denise Chong
(Passport Challenge)

- Never Let Me Go / Chevy Stevens (ScaredyKIT)

Apr 27, 10:37pm Top

50. French Lessons: Adventures with Knife, Fork, and Corkscrew / Peter Mayle
2.5 stars
227 pages

The author writes about food and wine in France.

I think I received this via a “white elephant swap” a while back. I’m not a foodie, and I’m sure someone who appreciates food, particularly French food, would get much more out of this. I found most of the food he discussed quite disgusting. I also don’t drink alcohol, including wine, though I think there was only one chapter on wine (maybe two?). At the same time, he actually is an engaging writer. And there were a couple chapters near the end that didn’t talk about food that I found more interesting – one was about food critics and travel guide ratings, and one was an entertaining chapter as the author and his wife stayed at a spa for a few days.

Cumulative page total = 17,085

Apr 30, 11:17pm Top

51. North of Normal: A Memoir of My Wilderness Childhood, My Counterculture Family, and How I Survived Both / Cea Sunrise Person
4 stars
301 pages

It was the 1970s. Cea was born to a 15-year old mom at a time when her mom, grandparents, aunts, and uncle were leaving California for Alberta to live out in the wilderness. They lived primarily in a tipi during Cea’s first 5 years of life. After that, her mom, Michelle, found Karl, so they left Cea’s grandparents behind to head to BC to live in a cabin… at which time Karl mostly managed to steal things they needed (including sleeping arrangements). Michelle seemed to only be able to function when she had a man to take care of her and Cea. Oh, yeah. Also, the drugs… that includes Cea’s grandparents. And the nudity, and sex. No one cared about privacy.

Interesting story. Sure don’t agree with how they lived, and the poor girl had such a crazy life. I liked that she continued her story, though not in as much detail or in nearly as many chapters (the bulk of the book/story was her childhood), into her teen years (when she became a model) and adulthood and how she dealt with her “unusual” background. People compare her dysfunctional family life with Jeanette Walls and “The Glass Castle”. It’s been a few years since I read it, but the neglectful parents/adults sure fit the theme! Toward the end, I considered upping my rating, but decided to go with how I felt reading the majority of it.

Cumulative page total = 17,386

Apr 30, 11:31pm Top

52. Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman / Peter K. Massie
3 stars
625 pages

Catherine the Great was Empress of Russia in the mid- to late-18th century. This looks back at her entire life and reign.

I listened to the audio and there were parts that were ok and parts that I liked. I suppose (no surprise to me) I enjoyed the parts about her personal life more than about her reign. In fact, I probably enjoyed the first half better for that reason – the second half was after she became empress. I think I’ve read one other book about her, but had forgotten about her very childlike husband, Peter III (the grandson of Peter the Great). I thought it was a decent biography, though another friend who likes history was bored by it. In my opinion, though, it was much better than the author’s book on Peter the Great!

Cumulative page total = 18,011

May 6, 3:49pm Top

53. The Lake House / Kate Morton
4 stars
546 pages

In 1933, when Alice was a teenager, her 11 month old brother disappeared one night during a party. In 2003, Sadie, a detective, has been suspended from her job and is in Cornwall when she comes across the mystery of Alice’s baby brother, Theo, so she tries to figure out what happened to the little boy.

I quite liked this. There are a lot of perspectives and a lot of jumping around in time, which usually don’t bother me, but even when in the past, I really had to pay attention to the start of the chapters (which outlined what time period we were in), as we even jumped between the 1930s and earlier than that. The end was quite a coincidence, though I think there as an attempt to explain coincidences a bit earlier (though in a different context). It wasn’t impossible, but still a bit far-fetched. This and “The Distant Hours” are the ones I’ve rated the lowest by her, though 4 stars is still very good, in my opinion. Have to admit that, going through a stressful time, there were times when I had a bit of trouble focusing, but I don’t think I really missed anything for it.

Cumulative page total = 18,557

May 9, 10:39pm Top

54. Weeds: In Defense of Nature's Most Unloved Plants / Richard Mabey
3 stars
293 pages

This is mostly a history of plants that may be considered weeds – basically, plants that are somewhere where a human doesn’t want it to be. It looks at how they travel, plants that were used medicinally, how they (re)populate decimated areas. He looks at how they’ve been viewed in history, including in literature, and more.

It was ok. Some parts were interesting, and others were dry. I probably tuned out a lot when he was looking at literature (except “In Flanders Fields”, which has more meaning).

Cumulative page total = 18,850

Edited: May 13, 1:18am Top

Didn't include my next read in my list, as it had been on hold at the library for a while. It came in, so now I'm fitting it in:
The Thirteen Problems / Agatha Christie

May 12, 5:36pm Top

55. Never Let You Go / Chevy Stevens
4.5 stars
406 pages

Lindsey’s ex-husband, Andrew, has been in jail for the past decade. He was abusive toward Lindsey, and she has since built a new life for her and her daughter, Sophie. Unfortunately when Andrew gets out of jail, he comes back to the town where Lindsey and Sophie live.

I have not yet been disappointed in a Chevy Stevens novel. I found this very fast-paced and suspenseful, and I wanted to keep reading. I listened to the audio, which was very well done; it was read by two different narrators, one for Lindsey and one for Sophie. The book does jump around in time (now and then) and perspective (Lindsey and Sophie). Very very good, in my opinion! There was what I thought of as a coincidence at the end, but without saying too much, it turned out to be planned, so not a coincidence, after all.

Cumulative page total = 19,256

Edited: May 18, 9:56pm Top

Next audio:
Cult Insanity / Irene Spencer

May 13, 1:18am Top

56. The Thirteen Problems / Agatha Christie
2.5 stars
250 pages

This consists of short stories, but joined together by way of a group of friends, including Miss Marple, who gather to tell mysteries and try to solve them.

I still like the character of Miss Marple, but short stories are not my thing. I’m coming to learn that Agatha Christie isn’t really my thing, either. I actually liked the interactions between the friends, but my mysteries themselves weren’t very interesting. Unfortunately, my mind wandered throughout most of them.

Cumulative page total = 19,506

May 14, 12:06am Top

57. The Cat Who Went to Paris / Peter Gethers
4 stars
141 pages

The author was a writer of screenplays and books, and never liked cats. When a girlfriend and his brother got together to get him a Scottish Fold cat (their ears are bent down), he fell in love instantly! But, his lifestyle involved a lot of travel. Right from when the little kitten, at 6 weeks old, came to live with him and flew across the country to do so, Peter brought Norton with him most of the time when he was travelling. Norton had no problems with it. He loved people and people loved him.

Love this little cat! What a charmer! Felt badly that he was separated from mom and siblings at only 6 weeks, though (that’s really too soon; from what I’ve read, ideal is 12 weeks to be completely socialized, though most breeders and many rescues will send them out at 8 weeks, when they are physically ready). I’m not sure the years/decades Norton lived, but the book was written in 1991, so maybe less attention was paid to that back then? There were cute little cat illustrations at the start of each chapter, as well.

Cumulative page total = 19,647

May 18, 9:56pm Top

58. Cult Insanity: A Memoir of Polygamy, Prophets, and Blood Atonement / Irene Spencer
3 stars
330 pages

Irene Spencer was part of the FLDS (Fundamentalist Mormons) and one of multiple wives of Verlan LeBaron. The LeBaron’s were not thought highly of; in fact, it was thought they were crazy. Verlon’s brother Ervil thought himself a prophet, and when people didn’t follow him, he decided it was time for “blood atonement” - that is, those who didn’t follow him should be killed.

Irene Spencer wrote an earlier book (Shattered Dreams) that I liked much much more. It followed her life. In this one, she was on the sidelines (somewhat), though her and her husband’s lives were in danger. I have to admit, when I started reading it, I was expecting a continuation of her first book (though I don’t recall where her earlier book left off, so maybe there wasn’t much to continue?), so it took me a while to realize that this wasn’t her own story this time, so it took a while to get a little more interested. There are a lot of people, so sometimes hard to remember who’s who. Overall, I’ll rate this one “ok”.

Cumulative page total = 19,977

May 18, 9:57pm Top

Next on audio:
The Secret Place / Tana French

May 20, 1:34am Top

59. The Little Stranger / Sarah Waters
3.75 stars
389 pages

Dr. Faraday is called out to an old house (mansion?), Hundreds Hall. It’s now falling apart, but when Faraday was a child, his mother was one of the servants. Now, the house has only three inhabitants: Mrs. Ayers, and her two adult children, Roderick and Caroline. They have only two servants, young Betty and Mrs. Bazeley. As Faraday is treating various members of the family, he comes out to the house more and more. He becomes entangled in the lives of the Ayers, and the creepy old house. The old house that seems to… have a mind of its own…?

It’s not a fast paced book, but it’s very creepy in parts. There was one part close to the start that was a bit slower for me, but the rest of it, despite the slowness of it, kept me interested. Definitely creepy, though, and I quite liked the ending.

Cumulative page total = 20,366

Edited: May 21, 11:30pm Top

60. The Headmaster's Wager / Vincent Lam
3.5 stars
361 pages

Percival is a Chinese man living in Vietnam during the war. He runs an English school, and he longs to go home to China. When his son is arrested and later released, Percival arranges to have his son sent to China so that he’ll be safe. As Percival moves on with his life with Vietnemese-French woman Jacqueline, he worries about his son.

This one started really slowly for me. It went back and forth in time, and with a few characters having both Chinese and English names, I was slightly confused, initially. Once we got about a third of the way into the book (and mostly, those characters with multiple names were known by their English names), it picked up for me. This was about the time Percival’s son was son was sent away – or maybe when he was arrested. Anyway, it really picked up for me. There were some parts that were more political that I wasn’t as interested in. I know next-to-nothing about the Vietnam War, so initially I felt like that also made it a bit harder to follow the story, but again, it seemed to get clearer as the book went along. Overall, I’m rating it “good”.

Cumulative page total = 20,727

May 26, 2:38pm Top

61. The Concubine's Children / Denise Chong
4 stars
260 pages

This is a biography of three generations of a Chinese-Canadian family. Chan Sam came to Canada and left his Chinese wife at home, but soon brought a beautiful younger Chinese woman to Canada as his concubine: May-ying. May-ying gave Chan Sam 3 daughters; before the 3rd one (Hing) came along, the other two had been taken back to China to live with Chan Sam’s Chinese wife. Hing, the daughter who stayed in Canada, was mostly neglected by her drinking, gambling mother. Hing’s daughter, Denise, is the author of the book. The book does focus mostly on May-ying, but it also tells the story of the family in China, as well. I can’t recall the phrase in the book, but something along the lines of a split family.

I thought this was very good. It covers a good portion of the 20th century, so it also includes a bit of history of how Chinese people were treated in Canada, and North America, in general, over that century. The story was interesting, and it did primarily focus on the most interesting person, in my opinion, May-ying. There was also a nice set of photos included – photos of those in both Canada and China.

Cumulative page total = 20,987

Edited: Jun 28, 12:47am Top

Possibilities for June:

- The Dreams of Ada / Robert M (MysteryCAT, AlphaKIT)
- Old Sparky: The Electric Chair... / A G (MysteryCAT, AlphaKIT)
- The Last Days of the Romanovs / Helen Rappaport (MysteryCAT, AlphaKIT, Reading Through Time)
- Sisters / Suzanne Goodwin (ColourCAT)
- The Persian Pickle Club / Sandra Dallas (ColourCAT)
- Strangers on a Train / Patricia Highsmith (ScaredyKIT, May MysteryCAT - if the ILL comes in)
- A Dog's Purpose / Bruce Cameron (RandomCAT)
- Yarrow / Charles de Lint (PBT)
- Ghosts / Raina T (PBT)
- The Firebird / Susannah Kearsley (PBT Decathlon)
- Cleopatra: A Life / Stacey Schiff (Passport Challenge)
- The Good Girl / Mary K (Mystery Subgenre)
- Bullied to Death

- The Secret Place / Tana French (con't)
- The Museum of Extraordinary Things / Alice Hoffman (PBT)
- The Sixth Extinction / Elizabeth Kolbert (Reading Through Time)
- The Black Dahlia / James Ellroy

May 27, 1:48am Top

62. Thereby Hangs a Tail / Spencer Quinn
4 stars
309 pages

This is the 2nd Chet and Bernie mystery; Bernie’s a PI, and Chet is his partner and dog. When Chet and Bernie are hired to be bodyguards for a show dog, Princess – although being bodyguards are not their usual “thing” – things go wrong when both Princess and her owner are kidnapped.

The story is told from Chet’s point of view. It took a chapter or two at the start of the book for me to remember/get used to this, but after that, I quite enjoyed the dog’s POV. It added some humour and we got to see some things that Bernie didn’t get to see, particularly between Chet and Princess. I didn’t like Princess, initially (neither did Chet), but she grew on me (as she did Chet), and I quite enjoyed their interactions after that. I’m pretty sure I liked this better than the first book in the series and I will definitely be continuing on. (Hmmm, reread my review, and I guess I rated both books the same, after all!)

Cumulative page total = 21,296

May 28, 11:19pm Top

63. Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder / Joanne Fluke
3.5 stars
381 pages

Hannah owns a cookie shop and when one of her delivery guys turns up shot in the alley behind, she helps out her brother-in-law, a cop, with the investigation.

I mostly enjoyed it. You could tell it was written a while back (published in 2000 – I actually though a little earlier while reading), as the technology is not up-to-date. My ebook had an extra novella (that I quite liked!) tacked on at the end that had more current technology – it was written in 2006. There are many cookie recipes at the end of some of the chapters (I think every chapter in the novella had one). You could probably make an entire cookie recipe book out of just the recipes included! I liked the characters and the small town feel. After the main novel, I wasn’t sure if I would continue the series, but after reading the novella, I decided that I would.

Cumulative page total = 21,677

Edited: Jun 1, 11:11pm Top

One more for May, not originally listed, as was used to help train someone at work on ILLs, so I just picked one I knew I couldn't get locally!

We Are the Romani People / Ian Hancock

Jun 1, 11:12pm Top

64. We Are the Romani People / Ian Hancock
3.5 stars
175 pages

I thought this was a good introduction to history and culture of the Romani people (more commonly known as “gypsies”). It was interspersed with photos and cartoons, and it was written by a Romani. I knew nothing, beyond stereotypes. I have read one fictional book that stuck in my mind and created an interest in reading some nonfiction about Romani. In addition to history (including slavery and the Holocaust), more detail about some of the culture included food (including a few recipes) and language. There were also some well-known/notable Romani people (and descendants) listed (including Charlie Chaplin, Rita Hayworth, Django Reinhardt, Michael Caine, Bill Clinton). Good book, certainly a good introduction, in my opinion.

Cumulative page total = 21,852

Edited: Jun 3, 3:01pm Top

Also, wasn't on my list for May (started on the 30th) or June but am trying to catch up to a few Early Reviewers books I've won, so thought I'd read this before starting on June's list

- Jane of Lantern Hill / LM Montgomery

Jun 3, 3:01pm Top

65. Jane of Lantern Hill / L.M. Montgomery
3.5 stars
294 pages

Jane has been living in Toronto with her rich grandmother and her mother as long as she can remember. She doesn’t even realize her father is still alive and living on Prince Edward Island, until a letter comes asking if she can stay with him for a summer. Her (hateful!) grandmother hates Jane’s father, and all Jane knows is to hate him, and she doesn’t want to go. But, when she meets her dad, she is pleasantly surprised.

I enjoyed this! LM Montgomery’s books are pretty simple, and the end was tied up with a nice bow, but I still enjoyed it, overall.

Cumulative page total = 22,146

Jun 4, 10:32pm Top

66. The Secret Place / Tana French
3.5 stars
519 pages

When 16-year old Holly, a girl who attends a boarding school, goes to a detective who helped her in the past, she brings with her a card – a card with a secret. The person who wrote the card says she knows who killed Chris Harper. Chris was murdered the year before. The detective, Stephen, is a cold case detective and goes to the original detective on the case to see if they can try again to solve the murder.

I listened to the audio and liked both narrators, but I did lose interest a bit more in the girls’ voice. One of the narrators (a male) voices the parts told from the POV of Stephen. The female narrator told the story from the girls’ points of view in the time leading up to the murder, and after the murder – the bit of time until Holly goes to Stephen with the card. Overall, it was good, but not nearly as good as the other books in the series to this point, in my opinion. I do love listening to the Irish accents on the audio, though.

Cumulative page total = 22,665

Jun 6, 9:43pm Top

67. Yarrow / Charles de Lint
3.5 stars
245 pages

Cat is an author and gets her inspiration through dreams. Unfortunately, she has not been dreaming for a few months and is now blocked. What she doesn’t know is that there is… something out there feeding on her dreams! And he’s feeding on others, as well, but Cat’s dreams are the ones he really wants.

This was good. I liked the real world sections of the book more than the dream sections, but that’s not a surprise to me. Cat didn’t really have friends in the real world, so I enjoyed the sections where she was making friends (though that was more secondary to the story). There were a lot of characters introduced at the very start of the book, so I was afraid I would get them confused, but surprisingly, it was rare to not figure out who we were following in the story fairly quickly – de Lint must have given enough clues to be able to follow easily.

Cumulative page total = 22,910

Jun 8, 10:14pm Top

68. The Good Girl / Mary Kubica
5 stars
367 pages

When Mia is kidnapped, her hired kidnapper, Colin, doesn’t deliver her to the actual kidnapper; instead, he takes off with her!

The story is told “before” and “after” from a few different points of view: from Colin’s, from her mother Eve’s, and from the detective Gabe’s. The chapters tell you whose POV you are following and when, so I found it easy to follow. It was a bit slow-moving at times, but I was still fascinated with what was happening. In my opinion, I thought the author did a very good job of keeping me “on board” with what was going on (as I try to describe it without giving too much away!). The twist at the very end – impressive. If I was one to reread, I would definitely reread and look for potential clues! I did reread the epilogue.

Cumulative page total = 23,277

Edited: Jun 10, 1:48am Top

Next up was not in the plan. Was another really late ILL:

- Leaving Microsoft to Change the World / John Wood

Jun 10, 1:48am Top

69. Leaving Microsoft to Change the World / John Wood
3.5 stars
258 pages

John Wood was working for Microsoft when he took a trip to Nepal only to discover the lack of books/libraries in the schools there. Being an avid reader since he was a kid, he promised to return in a year with books for the school. It didn’t take long before he became so passionate about it, that he quit his job and started up what later became Room to Read in order to help developing countries build schools and libraries. This was later extended to grant scholarships to be sure girls would complete their schooling, as well. Room to Read has also expanded beyond Nepal into a number of other (mostly Asian) countries.

This was good. He obviously loves what he does and it’s amazing how quickly Room to Read grew and how many countries it now helps. The first half of the book includes parallels and how working at Microsoft helped him start up this small non-profit. In the second half, he tells more stories of some of the kids who were/are personally impacted by the schools, and particularly some of the girls who have been granted scholarships.

Cumulative page total = 23,535

Jun 13, 9:07pm Top

70. Bullied to Death: A Story of Bullying, Social Media, and the Suicide of Sherokee Harriman / Judith A. Yates
4 stars
326 pages

Sherokee Harriman was only 14-years old when she committed suicide in a park in front of some of the kids who bullied her. She led an extremely troubled life – abused from the time she was only 3 years old, she also had a number of mental illness issues. When she plunged a knife into her belly on that day…

I think the subtitle of this one is a bit misleading, as I don’t think “social media” needs to be there. The author used social media in her research, as well as texts between Sherokee and her family and friends (in addition to interviews and plenty of other research). However, it is a sad story of a mentally ill girl who just couldn’t seem to get a break. Chapters near the end include some stats on bullying and suicide, so at that point it gets away a bit from Sherokee’s story, specifically. But, still interesting.

Cumulative page total = 23,861

Jun 13, 9:26pm Top

71. The Museum of Extraordinary Things / Alice Hoffman
2.5 stars
384 pages

This is set in the early 1900s in New York City. Coralie was born with webbed hands and she is an amazing swimmer. Her father runs the “Museum of Extraordinary Things”, which includes sideshow “freaks”. Coralie becomes a part of them, and feels she fits in with them. Eddie is a photographer.

I listened to the audio and there are three narrators: Coralie, Eddie, and a generic narrator (voiced by Judith Light). Of the story itself, only Coralie’s story interested me. (Which is why I have said next to nothing about Eddie in my summary, as I can’t tell you much more, as my mind wandered during his parts.) As for the audio, one thing that bothered me was Judith Light’s dialogue for any character – it seemed to me very staccato/robotic, but only when she was doing the dialogue. The audio includes a short interview/conversation (that kind of disintegrates into gushing about each other’s work at times) between Judith Light and Alice Hoffman. The book/story, though – really didn’t interest me all that much, though in addition to Coralie’s story, there were some interesting tidbits about the Triangle Factory fire.

Cumulative page total = 24n245

Jun 17, 12:07am Top

72. Sisters / Suzanne Goodwin
3 stars

This is a romance set in England during WWII. We follow three sisters who all fall for military men. One, a pilot; one, a submarine guy; and the third sister… well, she just falls for them all.

There probably is more of the historical fiction to this than the romance. Or, since I so rarely read romances, maybe that’s just what I focused on more. I don’t even remember why I have this book, but I’ve had it a long time! Overall, I’m rating it ok. The story was fine, and I did enjoy the setting, but there were definitely some eye-rolling moments, as well as some cringe-worthy moments when it came to the various romances.

Cumulative page total = 24,525

Jun 18, 12:03am Top

73. A Dog's Purpose / W. Bruce Cameron
5 stars
323 pages

This tells the story of a dog that lives multiple lives. (S)He remembers his/her previous lives and builds on them. His first life is quite short, but his next life is as the best friend to a boy. After that, he becomes a search and rescue dog… then circles back around as a friend to an older man.

I loved this! This is told from the dog’s point of view and it really feels like the dog is telling the story. The author seemed to get things so right. This dog had a few bad things happen to him, so the reader gets a glimpse into some of the bad things that can happen, but mostly this dog leads good lives. I had to laugh a bit at his thoughts about various pet cats! It was a quick read, and I think any animal lover would enjoy this!

Cumulative page total = 24,848

Jun 20, 10:53pm Top

74. The Sixth Extinction / Elizabeth Kolbert
4 stars
336 pages

There have been five major extinctions. We may be headed (primarily due to humans) toward a 6th. This book is a mix of archaeology, paleontology, geology, anthropology, zoology, biology, history… The author looks at some species that have already gone extinct and others that appear to be heading that way. The book is filled with mastodons and mammoths, dinosaurs, rhinos, bats, neanderthals and humans (though we’re the only ones in this scenario that are expanding!).

I quite liked this, but I have to admit (and maybe it’s – at least in part – due to listening to it rather than reading it), I’m afraid I won’t remember most of it before too long. The information was not really surprising to me, but I did find it very interesting while I listened, even if I’m not sure how much I will remember.

Cumulative page total = 25,184

Jun 21, 9:09am Top

>112 LibraryCin: Thanks for this review - it sounds perfect for my brother. we try to get in a social science or environmental study book at least once a year; one of us reads it, then mails it to the other, then we discuss. I'm adding this one to our list.

Jun 21, 7:01pm Top

>113 Darth-Heather: Oh, fun! I hope you both enjoy it!

Jun 24, 12:36am Top

75. Cleopatra: A Life / Stacy Schiff
3 stars
313 pages

Cleopatra ruled Egypt as queen for 22 years within the 50 years before the common era (BCE). She was a strong and smart woman.

Women were pretty much equal in this time and place – at least in Egypt, though not necessarily in Rome or elsewhere at the time. Unfortunately, though, there is not a lot of contemporary/primary source material on Cleopatra. Also unfortunately for me, I do prefer reading about historical women, not men. This book (by necessity, I think) told mostly of the men who ruled at the time of Cleopatra (Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, Octavius…) and for purposes of trying to recreate her life, it feels like she’s an afterthought in the book, always where she is and what she’s doing in relation to these ruling men. Because of that, I tended to lose some interest in the book. It’s too bad, because I really don’t know much about her. I know a bit more now, and I’m still rating it “ok”, but I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t more about her.

Cumulative page total = 25,497

Jun 27, 8:17pm Top

>112 LibraryCin: I happened to see a newsblurb, one of those on Yahoo news or Bing news, about scientists stating we are in a 6th mass extinction phase. One of the things contributing to it is a lack of genetic diversity due to smaller and smaller areas where wild animals can live; they had a map of the huge parts of Africa, Asia, and Europe where lions once lived. Knowing that there is a book out there makes me both happy and sad and maybe, just maybe, I can do what I can to help the species in my area hang on and thrive.

Jun 27, 10:22pm Top

>116 threadnsong: I also feel like I do as much as possible. Well, I certainly try, anyway! I don't know that I, myself, will make a difference, but the more people who try, it can't hurt, right!?

Jun 28, 12:46am Top

76. The Firebird / Susanna Kearsley
3.75 stars
467 pages

Nicola is able to “see” things when she touches them. When her work takes her to Russia to buy some art, she has a second mission in mind. A woman had recently come in wanting to sell a piece of art that she insisted came through her family’s generations, originally gifted from Peter the Great’s wife, Catherine. But there is no proof. Nicola is hoping to find some proof while she’s in St. Petersburg, along with her friend, Rob, who has the same “gift” of sight, but is better at it than Nicola is.

I preferred the modern day storyline to the historical one in this one. I’ve been to St. Petersburg and loved “visiting” some of the places again: Church of the Saviour on the Spilt Blood and, in particular, the Hermitage… but also, one of a chain of restaurants our tour group visited, Stolle, was mentioned in the book: “a small chain with several locations strung all through the city, and served what one might call traditional Russian ‘fast food’: homemade pie.” Yum! Good memories!

Anyway, I was surprised to find that many of the historical characters in this one were real – thanks to an author’s note at the end, which I always like to see in my historical fiction! In fact, it was quite a detailed note. I guess this is the second book in a “series” (loosely-based, I think), where one of the (historical) characters in the first book reappears in this one (I haven’t read that one). I recognized one of the contemporary characters from another book by this author that I’ve read, though, so that’s always fun.

Cumulative page total = 25,964

Jun 28, 1:03am Top

77. Ghosts / Raina Telgemeier
4 stars
247 pages

Cat’s little sister, Maya, has cystic fibrosis, so in order to help her health, they are all moving from southern to northern California, to a town beside the ocean with more cloud, rain, and fog. Not only that, but when they arrive, Maya is excited, and Cat nervous, to learn that the town they’ve moved to is known for the ghosts. Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), Nov. 1, is very big in this town.

I enjoyed this. The girls are learning more about their Mexican heritage, and I found it really interesting to also learn about Dia de los Muertos. I also learned a little bit about cystic fibrosis. This is a YA graphic novel and I loved the illustrations; they are fairly simple, bright, and effective. For the Dia de los Muertos celebration, I thought the illustrations showed the joy and fun of the night.

Cumulative page total = 26,211

Jun 28, 1:24am Top

78. The Black Dahlia / James Ellroy
2.5 stars
384 pages

“The Black Dahlia” was the name given to a murder (true crime) that happened in LA in 1947. Elizabeth Short had been tortured and was found naked, cut in half. It was never solved. This is a fictionalized account, focusing on a detective who worked the case.

It took a long time for the story to really get going, I thought. I really wasn’t interested in the detective’s personal life – at all. Once Elizabeth’s body was found, it got more interesting, but even still, only to a point. I listened to the audio, so it may have had some effect on my rating, but I’m not sure it would have brought it up all that much if I’d read it, either. I have to admit, the narrator did accents very well.

Cumulative page total = 26,595

Edited: Jul 24, 5:22pm Top

Ok, I think I have options for all my July challenges...

- Wool / Hugh Howey (ScaredyKIT, PBT, PBT Decathlon)
- Sleep with the Lights on / Maggie Shayne (MysteryCAT, AlphaKIT)
- Milkrun / Sarah Mlynowski (ColourCAT, AlphaKIT)
- The Storyteller / Jodi Picoult (book club, AlphaKIT)
- The Fiery Cross / Diana Gabaldon

- Doomsday Book / Connie Willis
- Generation Me / Jean M. T. (RandomCAT)
- Daughters of the Sea: Hannah / Kathryn L (Reading Through Time)
- Crossed / Ally Condie (PBT, AlphaKIT)
- Pills and Starships / Lydia Millet
- (Passport challenge - I expect a few will fit without having to look too hard!)

- White Nights / Ann Cleeves (MysteryCAT, AlphaKIT)
- Killer Instinct / S.E. Green
(Mystery Subgenre, AlphaKIT)

Jun 28, 3:29pm Top

>121 LibraryCin: Will be interested to see what you think of the Doomsday Book.

Edited: Jul 5, 3:14pm Top

79. The Storyteller / Jodi Picoult
4 stars
465 pages

Sage is a baker and a loner. When she goes to a grief couselling session, she becomes friends with Josef, a ninety-something year old man. It’s not long before Josef confides in Sage that he was a Nazi. He would like Sage to forgive him (after finding out she’s Jewish), then “help him die”.

This was very good. It alternated viewpoints between not only Sage and Josef, but also Sage’s grandmother, who had been in a concentration camp, and Leo, a detective who hunts down war criminals. Should I admit that I didn’t like some of what Sage was doing to Josef, who now trusted her with a pretty big secret? Surprisingly, I figured out the twist about half-way through.

Cumulative page total = 27,060

Jul 5, 3:23pm Top

80. Sleep With the Lights On / Maggie Shayne
4 stars
249 pages

Rachel has been blind since she was a teenager, and now she’s receiving a cornea transplant that finally “takes”. She has no idea what she’s in for. She received the corneas of a serial killer and is now having terrifying visions. And the killing continues…

I really liked this one. It kept me wanting to read. I did guess at the mystery very shortly before it was revealed, but I still really enjoyed the story to get there. Apparently, it is a series, and I do plan to continue.

Cumulative page total = 27,309

Jul 5, 3:41pm Top

81. Pills and Starships / Lydia Millet
3.5 stars
174 pages

Nat and Sam are siblings and their parents have paid for a contract to take their own lives. The Coporations have packages one can choose and, although there are different settings to choose from, there is a set plan for that last week of their lives. The family is heading to Hawaii. As the week goes on, more “pharms” are given to all of them to make things easier on everyone. It’s sometime in the future, and Nat and Sam’s parents are in their 80s and 90s (it’s not uncommon for humans to live longer and longer now) and can remember when life was as we know it now: before things had to change as most species went extinct and nonrenewable resources are no longer available for human use/consumption.

I quite liked this. It’s a fast YA read, and seemingly/possibly not that far off once we run out of oil and such. It is told in diary form from Nat’s point of view. She writes as if she is writing to “you”, the reader, as a space person of some sort, which I thought was a bit odd. The “you” part didn’t bother me, but I’m not sure where exactly space fit in. Overall, I thought it was good.

Cumulative page total = 27,483

Jul 7, 1:59am Top

82. Crossed / Ally Condie
3 stars
253 pages

It’s been so long since I read the first book in the trilogy, I can only assume this is picking up where book 1 left off. I hope I’m not giving away any spoilers for book 1 by simply saying that Ky and Cassia have been separated and they are searching for each other.

I really hate when a series (especially one that continues right where the last one left off) doesn’t give some kind of recap of the previous book. I was pretty lost for a good portion of it, but it did pick up for me about half way through. Even though I still didn’t understand how the characters got to where they are now, at least I could just concentrate on what was happening “now”, in this part of the story. This was told in alternating viewpoints between Ky and Cassia. I liked a couple of the new characters, particularly Eli and Hunter. I will read the last book in the trilogy, if nothing else but for closure of the series. I’m rating this one “ok”, only because it was better in the second half.

Cumulative page total = 27,736

Jul 10, 12:11am Top

83. Wool / Hugh Howey
3.5 stars
474 pages

I think it’s hard to give a summary for this one without giving too much away. It starts with Holston, whose wife, 3 years ago, was sent for a “cleaning”. Basically, she was suited up, and sent outside where she was meant to clean the cameras, and she never returns. It seems that anyone breaking the law is sent for a cleaning. There’s much more beyond this, but that’s where I don’t want to start giving things away.

It was good. There was a lot of tech stuff (mostly mechanical) that I wasn’t as interested in. But, it was definitely interesting and it picked up for me a little ways in, with the focus more on Juliette (except the mechanical stuff!). For some reason, I thought this was YA, but it’s not. I think I will continue the series (I read the Omnibus, which collected the 5 short stories, but there are apparently two more books beyond this one).

Cumulative page total = 28,210

Jul 11, 1:19am Top

84. Milkrun / Sarah Mlynowski
4 stars
281 pages

When Jackie’s boyfriend leaves for Thailand (after she has packed up in order to follow him to Boston!) to “find himself”, then she hears from him that he’s found a new girlfriend, Jackie is devastated and doesn’t quite know what to do. With one of the very few girlfriends she has (she only has two, and one is in New York), she decides to get all dolled up and go out and find someone new.

This was fun! I wasn’t crazy about Jackie, herself, but parts of the story were quite amusing and I laughed out loud! Her job was entertaining (she’s a copy editor for a romance publisher). I don’t read a lot of chick lit, but I quite enjoy it when I do. This was a quick read and I do like this author. I really liked the ending.

Cumulative page total = 28,491

Edited: Jul 30, 10:26pm Top

Adding a few more to my plan for this month. I have an extra game added in, though I have a few more I'd like to get to first!

The Stowaway / Laurie Gwen Shapiro (Reading Through Time)

And for my game, I am hoping to at least get to a couple of these
Backpack Across Europe:

1. France:
- The Paris Seamstress / Natasha Lester
2. Italy:
- Blood and Beauty / Sarah Dunant
3. Austria:
- 3,096 Days / Natascha Kampusch
4. Hungary:
- To See You Again / Betty Schimmel
5. Romania:
- Night / Elie Weisel (born in Romania)

Plus there will be more if I get that far!

Jul 12, 12:02am Top

85. Daughters of the Sea: Hannah / Kathryn Lasky
4 stars
310 pages

It’s 1899. Hannah is an orphan and, at 15 years old, can no longer be supported by the orphanage. When she is sent inland (from Boston), she has an odd skin reaction and soon after ends up back in Boston where the sea air seems better for her. She finds a job as a scullery maid, and meets a painter who seems to be able to sense something about her…

I really liked this. It’s YA, so very quick to read. The author has some beautiful descriptions. Quickly glancing at other reviews, some people didn’t like the focus on a servant’s life, but I really like historical fiction and found it very interesting!

Cumulative page total = 28,801

Jul 12, 6:12am Top

>129 LibraryCin: "Backpack Across Europe"... wouldn't that make a great challenge for Around The World?

Jul 12, 1:14pm Top

>131 Carol420: Oooh, good thought! It's on a friend's blog. She also did a road trip across the US a summer or two ago. Another one I'd like to see is across Canada. :-)

Jul 12, 6:32pm Top

>131 Carol420: >132 LibraryCin: All Sound great ideas.

Jul 13, 3:07pm Top

86. White Nights / Ann Cleeves
2.25 stars
402 pages

A stranger has wandered into an art opening on the Shetland Islands, and makes a scene. He is later found dead – it is initially deemed a suicide, but on closer inspection, it appears to be a murder.

So, the premise sounds really good. I was hopeful. But, I was also listening to the audio, and it just couldn’t hold my interest. I did follow enough at the start to get my little summary (and it’s why the extra .25 stars), but it really went downhill after that, and I could rarely focus on what was going on. It makes me not want to continue the series, but I feel like I should try the 3rd one, just not on audio, and decide from there. I don’t remember the first book blowing me away, either, though I did rate it as “good”.

Cumulative page total = 29,203

Jul 19, 11:54pm Top

87. Killer Instinct / S.E. Green
4 stars
272 pages

Lane is a teenager and has urges to hurt, or possibly even kill, people. She is fascinated by serial killers and begins to satisfy her urges by becoming a vigilante and hurting those people who seem to get away with a crime. In the meantime, she is contacted by a real-life serial killer, but why is the killer contacting her?

I thought this was really good. I was pulled in right away and found it fascinating (and a bit terrifying!) to be in Lane’s head! Being a YA book, it is a fast read. I listened to the audio and was kept interested. Lane did have a bit of a “softer” (somewhat) side to her when it came to her family and to animals, which I found kind of interesting, as well.

Cumulative page total = 29,475

Edited: Jul 27, 3:47pm Top

Had to add in another audio book for July:

- Conclave / Robert Harris

Jul 20, 2:41am Top

88. The Fiery Cross / Diana Gabaldon
3.25 stars
1311 pages

*****Possible SPOILERS for earlier book(s) in the series*****
Roger and Brianna are getting married, as are Jocasta (Jamie’s aunt) and her beau. Stephen Bonnett (who raped Brianna) may or may not be dead, and Brianna’s son, Jemmy, may or may not be Roger’s.
*****END SPOILERS*****
Plus lots more to cover over 1000 pages…

These books are so long. I read one/year, during my holidays from work. I don’t know whether or not it’s worth continuing. This one (as the others might, but it’s been a while) felt like a series of vignettes… in order to fill over 1300 pages, so in some ways, kind of like short stories with the same characters. Some of those vignettes I found interesting; others, I didn’t. It’s not a fast paced book (or series), but there were open-ended threads left at the end of the book. The length of these books makes me not want to continue, but I’m still interested, so I don’t know. I will certainly continue watching the tv show.

Cumulative page total = 30,786

Edited: Jul 24, 5:21pm Top

89. The Paris Seamstress / Natasha Lester
4 stars
464 pages

In the early 1940s, Estella, in her early 20s, is sent away by her mother to the United States when the Germans are coming close to Paris. Estella takes with her the knowledge of Paris fashion, how to design, and how to sew. In 2015, Estella is in her late 90s and lives in New York City. Her son has recently died, and she has a very close relationship with her granddaughter, Fabienne. Fabienne hasn’t heard her family’s story. In fact, much of Estelle’s own family history was a surprise to her when she arrived in New York in the 40s.

I really liked this. I got caught up in it early on, and I was kept wanting to read to find out. I don’t feel like there were many twists, but I thought the secrets were unraveled very nicely. One thing that did come as a surprise to me was in the author’s note about what events were historically true.

Cumulative page total = 31,250

Edited: Jul 24, 5:21pm Top

90. Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled -- and More Miserable Than Ever Before / Jean M. Twenge
4 stars
364 pages

What the author, a professor of psychology, calls “Generation Me” has also been referred to as “Millennials” and “Generation Y” – people born primarily in the 1980s and 1990s. She compares studies of three generations: Baby Boomers, Generation X and “GenMe”, with the focus on GenMe, and brings those statistics to this book. The statistics speak to averages and she also offers anecdotes that illustrate those averages she’s found in the statistics.

GenMe-ers have always been told they are special, to pursue their dreams and that they can be anything they want to be. But, the reality is that it’s now harder for that to realistically happen. So, people of this generation are disappointed, sometimes to the point of anxiety and/or depression when they do not actually realize those dreams. Additional chapters in the book also look at sex, equality, and work.

This was originally published in 2006, but I read the “Revised and Updated” edition, published in 2014, so there was more up to date info. I found this very interesting. It is a lot of stats, but I thought the author made it very readable. I think it might be even more interesting to parents, teachers, etc, as she also offers advice at the end of the book.

Cumulative page total = 31,614

Jul 26, 1:10am Top

The Stowaway: A Young Man's Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica / Laurie Gwen Shapiro
3.75 stars
215 pages

Billy Gawronski’s parents immigrated from Poland to New York. He grew up wanting to be a sailor, and at 17, though his Dad wanted him to take over his successful interior design business, Billy stowed away on a ship belonging to his hero, Richard Byrd. Byrd had planned to be the first to fly over the Atlantic, but Lindberg just barely beat him to it. Instead, Byrd decided to head to Antarctica by ship, then to be the first to fly to the South Pole. Billy wanted to be part of it all.

This was good. It followed Billy (and Byrd), not just to Antarctica and back (and that is the bulk of the book), but I liked that it continued when they returned. They returned in 1930, just after the collapse of the stock market and the economy was bad, so it was not easy for any of the returning crew (though hailed as heroes) to find work at that time.

Cumulative page total = 31,829

Edited: Jul 28, 5:24pm Top

I have one more book I'm adding in for July:
- Belle Epoque / Elizabeth Ross

Jul 26, 1:26am Top

92. Born Scared / Kevin Brooks
3.5 stars
244 pages

13-year old Elliot has been afraid of everything since he was born. About the only things he’s not afraid of is his room, and three people: his mother, his aunt, and his doctor. This is a severe, debilitating phobia of everything. He needs pills just to make the phobias less severe (though they are still there).

One Christmas Eve day, just before the stores will be closed for a couple of days, there is an error with Elliot’s prescription. Elliot’s mom must leave him at home by himself to go pick up the correct prescription, but things go terribly wrong, and Elliot must find a way to get that prescription before it runs out…

This was good. It is YA, so the chapters are short and overall, it’s very fast to read. I thought the author has some really good descriptions of Elliot’s fears. I was waffling between 3.5 stars (good) and 4 stars (really good), but went to the 3.5 when it ended without wrapping up quite as much as I would have liked to have wrapped up. Also, there was a lot of coincidence in things happening as they did at the same time as Elliot was trying to get his prescription. Still a good read, overall, though.

Cumulative page total = 32,073

Edited: Sep 2, 1:35am Top

Looking ahead to August, here are some possibilities:

- In the Garden of Beasts / Eric Larson (Reading Through Time, PBT)
- The Woman in White / Wilkie Collins (ColourCAT, PBT MysteryCAT)
- The Alice Network / Kate Quinn (ColourCAT, PBT, MysteryCAT, PBT Decathlon)
- Locke & Key: Clockworks / Joe Hill
- Ink and Bone / Rachel Caine (ScardyKIT, PBT)
- Doomsday Book / Connie Willis (MysteryCAT, AlphaKIT)
- The Poisoned Pilgrim / Oliver Potzsche (MysteryCAT, AlphaKIT)
- ???? (Passport Challenge)
- Sacrifice / S.J. Bolton
(Mystery Subgenre)

Backpack Across Europe (con't):
3. Austria:
- 3,096 Days / Natascha Kampusch
4. Hungary:
- The Door / Magda Szabo
5. Romania:
- Dawn / Elie Weisel (born in Romania)
6. Ukraine
- Everything is Illuminated / Jonathan S F
7. Poland
- Lilac Girls?

Plus there will be more if I get that far!

- Following Atticus / Tom Ryan (RandomCAT)

Jul 27, 3:51pm Top

93. Conclave / Robert Harris
3.5 stars
352 pages

This is a fictional account of a conclave, when Catholic cardinals from around the world are called to Rome when a pope dies. They must now elect a new pope. To do so, anyone can be voted for, but there needs to be a 2/3 majority. They just keep voting until that happens. If it takes longer, they take breaks in order to pray on it.

This story is told from the point of view of the “Dean”, Lomeli, who is basically in charge of making sure protocol is followed properly. In addition to prayer, there is a lot more going on behind the scenes, including politics and scandal.

This was much more interesting to me than I expected it to be (I am not Catholic, nor even religious). Because I listened to the audio, it did take a bit at the start to get “into” it, but once it got going, it was pretty good. There is quite the twist at the end!

Cumulative page total = 32,425

Jul 28, 5:24pm Top

94. Belle Epoque / Elizabeth Ross
4 stars
253 pages

When Maude leaves her home in the countryside of France, she heads to Paris. The only work she is able to find is to work as a “repoussoir”, or as a sort of “foil” to a pretty girl. That is, Maude is the ugly or plain girl who is hired to accompany a debutante to one or more events in order to make the debutante look better by comparison. Maude is hired by the Isabelle’s mother, but Isabelle doesn’t know that that’s why Maude is there. They become friends and Maude wants to help Isabelle in the things she wants, but she is forced to help Isabelle’s mother encourage Isabelle to marry, as that is her job.

I really liked this. I was wondering if it was based on a real agency that hired out girls for this purpose, so I was looking forward to the author’s note at the end (it was based on a fictional agency in a short story). It was also set during the time the Eiffel Tower was being built, which is interesting. The book has some strong girl characters.

Cumulative page total = 32,689

Jul 30, 10:26pm Top

95. Blood & Beauty / Sarah Dunant
2.5 stars
484 pages

This book follows a fictional account of the Borgias. Rodrigo became pope in the late 1400s. He had four(?) children, including Cesare and Lucrezia. History has not looked upon them kindly. Rodrigo had a number of mistresses. Cesare, though becoming a cardinal (for a while) also slept around. There were rumors of incest among them, and murders happened. This book opens when the conclave is happening just as Rodrigo will be voted in as the new pope and Lucrezia is 13 years old and soon to be married.

How was this even acceptable for a pope!? How did he get voted in? (Hmmm, missed in in my reading of the book, but the summary tells me he bought his way to the papacy.) And for a cardinal (Cesare)? All the sleeping around. Even if there wasn’t any incest going on, Rodrigo’s children made it obvious he wasn’t celibate. Was this not a requirement of priests and higher ups in the Catholic Church at the time!? Anyway, I just didn’t find most of the book very interesting. I found the parts that focused on Lucrezia the most interesting and paid most attention to that, otherwise I was often skimming.

Cumulative page total = 33,173

Aug 5, 1:33am Top

96. In the Garden of Beasts / Erik Larson
3.5 stars
424 pages

This book follows the American Dodd family in Berlin in the 1930s, with the focus being 1933 and 1934. William Dodd, a history professor, was the US ambassador to Germany at the time, and his entire family, including his adult children in their 20s, moved to Berlin at this time, so they all experienced life in the German city during the rise of Hitler. The book primarily follows William and his 20-something year old (very promiscuous) daughter, Martha.

The setting is certainly an interesting time and place, but I didn’t like it as much as the other books I’ve read by Larson. I found the descriptions of what was going on in Germany interesting, but there was a lot of politics that I didn’t find as engaging. Overall, though, I still thought the book was good, just not as good as his others, at least for me.

Cumulative page total = 33,597

Aug 5, 4:38pm Top

97. Following Atticus / Tom Ryan
3.5 stars
304 pages

The White Mountains in New Hampshire have 48 peaks over 4,000 feet. The author, Tom Ryan decided to raise money for cancer by hiking these peaks in the winter with his little miniature schnauzer, Atticus. This is their story.

I listened to the audio (read by the author). He does have an accent, which took my mind off what I was listening to occasionally to spell the word in my head (i.e. park = pawk), though mostly it wasn’t a big deal. (Oh, but for the life of me, I could not figure out the town he lived in (though that wasn’t the accent)! All I could hear was “Newb Report”; I looked it up and it was Newburyport. Say that fast (or even a normal speed!) and it sounds like Newb Report, which sounded like a very odd name for a town!) Anyway, I liked Atticus and they sure had a wonderful connection. The story just didn’t “wow” me, but it was enjoyable.

Cumulative page total = 33,901

Edited: Aug 6, 1:49am Top

98. Sacrifice / S.J. Bolton
4 stars
380 pages

Tora has recently moved to the Shetland Islands, a ways off the coast of Scotland, with her husband, Duncan. When one of her horses dies and she digs a hole to bury him, she discovers a very well preserved body of a woman. Tora works at the local hospital with pregnant women and can tell that this woman gave birth not long before she died. Also, her heart was taken. Tora can’t stop herself from trying to figure out what happened, even as the police as also trying to do their jobs.

I really liked this. I was pulled in early and wanted to keep reading, to know what was happening. There are a few twists along the way and page-turning moments. Also, there is some local mythology that makes up a good portion of what’s going on, which is interesting.

Cumulative page total = 34,281

Edited: Aug 13, 10:37pm Top

Oh, and the current audio that I've moved on to:

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mewed / Alan C. Bradley

Aug 8, 10:10pm Top

99. The Poisoned Pilgrim / Oliver Potzsch
3.5 stars
503 pages

This is book 4 of the series. Jakob is the hangman in a small town in Bavaria; Magdalena is his adult daughter. She married “above her station” to the local doctor, Simon, and they have two young sons. Magdalena and Simon have gone to the next town over on a pilgrimage. They are at a monastery when two murdered monks are discovered and a third has disappeared along with an automaton one of the monks had been working on. Jakob comes to help find out what’s going on.

I quite enjoyed this installment of the series. I hate when I’m not sure how to rate something, though. 3.5 is good, and that’s how I felt through most of the book. I never lost interest in the almost 500-page book, but at the same time, it wasn’t really a “page-turner”, either. Boy, the number of times everyone seemed to insult others, though! I still enjoyed it enough, though, to continue with the series.

Cumulative page total = 34,784

Aug 12, 5:40pm Top

100. The Alice Network / Kate Quinn
4.5 stars
517 pages

It’s 1947. Charlie is pregnant and her mother is taking her to Europe to take care of it. While there, unbeknownst to her mother, Charlie wants to try to find her cousin, Rose, who disappeared late in the war. Charlie has a couple of names and an address to help start her off. So, she pays Eve a visit. Charlie doesn’t yet know this (she knows nothing about Eve), but Eve was a spy in WWI. Now, Eve is a bitter woman, but she, her driver, Finn, and Charlie head to France to see what they can find out about Rose. It was the other name Charlie showed up with, Rene, that convinced Eve to help. On their journey, both Finn and Charlie find out more about Eve’s life as a spy as they also try to find what happened to Rose.

The book flipped back and forth between Charlie’s viewpoint in 1947 and Eve’s during WWI, but the start of the chapter tells us who we are following and when, so it’s pretty easy to follow. I liked both storylines equally. Everyone had flaws, but I liked all the main characters, even the cantankerous Eve! “The Alice Network” really was a network of women spies during WWI, which I hadn’t heard of. It was really interesting to read about. Despite the length, I found it quick to read. I really, really liked this and I’m sure it will make my top 10 of the year.

Cumulative page total = 35,301

Aug 13, 10:36pm Top

101. Locke & Key. Vol. 5: Clockworks / Joe Hill
4 stars
160 pages

In this volume of the Locke & Key series, the kids find a key for a clock that can take them back in time. We find out some history of how and why the house ended up as it is, and also, the kids go back to 1988 when their dad was a teenager. He and his friends knew all about the keys and had some trouble as they were playing around a bit before they knew they would soon start to forget about the keys, as they finished high school and moved away.

I think this might be among my favourite volumes in the series. I particularly enjoyed the parts with the kids’ father and his friends. Apparently, there is only one more volume left.

Cumulative page total = 35,461

Edited: Aug 30, 10:33pm Top

Next audio:
- From the Corner of his Eye / Dean Koontz

Aug 13, 10:57pm Top

102. Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd / Alan Bradley
3.5 stars
352 pages

Flavia has come home from her stint at boarding school in Canada to find that her father is ill and in the hospital. Before she gets a chance to go visit, she – once again – stumbles across a dead body and must (in her opinion) set out to figure out what happened.

I still think the character of Flavia is a lot of fun, and I love Jayne Entwhistle doing her voice for the audio books. To be honest, I’ve never thought much of the mysteries themselves. I keep going for Jayne’s version of Flavia. Here’s the thing I’ve never mentioned, though. With most audio books, if my mind wanders too much, I rate it lower – usually a 3 or less. With this series, Jayne/Flavia have been propping it up for me. I think this one actually kept my attention a bit more, but not much more. Surprising to me, I’m actually debating whether or not I should try the next one NOT in audio format – just to see if I might enjoy the mystery/plot a bit more without a wandering mind.

Cumulative page total = 35,813

Aug 15, 11:05pm Top

103. 3,096 Days / Natascha Kampusch
4 stars
240 pages

Natascha Kampusch was 10 years old in 1998 when, walking to school alone for the first time, she was grabbed and thrown into a white delivery van. She was kept prisoner, mostly in a “dungeon” underground in her kidnapper’s house for 8 years before she escaped.

This is the first kidnapping story that I remember being so blown up in the media. (Sadly, there have been a number of them since). For those who are squeamish about sex/rape, she leaves this out; it doesn’t actually sound like there was a lot of that, anyway. There is plenty of physical abuse, though.

It is a translation, so there is the occasional awkward phrase or sentence, but I was certainly interested in her story. I think it gave a really good insight into how dependent she was on her kidnapper, especially since she was with him during those formative years between the ages of 10 and 18, and why she might have mixed feelings towards him. I feel so badly that she was not always treated well after she escaped due to those mixed feelings towards her former captor.

Something interesting about this book that I’ve not seen before (though I don’t have a Smartphone, so couldn’t take advantage of them) were the QR codes for more information at the end of each chapter. The book was published in 2010, so it’s possible the codes may not work anymore. However, as with many true crime stories I read, I had to look up more information online to find out how she’s been doing since the book was published.

Cumulative page total = 36,053

Edited: Aug 17, 9:56pm Top

Adding in another, not originally planned for... Actually, I think I might fit in a few not originally planned for:

- Chase / Linwood Barclay
- Daughter of Molokai / Alan Brennert

Aug 17, 9:57pm Top

104. Chase / Linwood Barclay
4 stars
232 pages

Chipper is a dog, but he’s much smarter than the average dog (to say the least!). As the book opens, he is in a cage and the “White Coats” are coming for him. He manages to outsmart the humans and get away: far away, where he is looking for Jeff. Jeff is 12-years old. His parents both recently died and he is living with his aunt, who is making him work hard at her business. But, the White Coats, who are coming after Chipper, won’t stop…

I really enjoyed this. It’s YA, so not nearly as complex as Barclay’s other novels, but I thought it was still a good thriller. As YA, it’s a quick read. The point of view alternated, mostly between Chipper and Jeff, but I think there was an occasional other POV thrown in every so often. Unfortunately, there wasn’t really an end to the book, as it left off on a cliffhanger. I will, of course, pick up the sequel.

Cumulative page total = 36,285

Aug 26, 5:54pm Top

105. The Woman in White / Wilkie Collins
3 stars
524 pages

When Walter comes across a mysterious “woman in white”, he must find out who she is. In the meantime, he has fallen in love with Laura, who will be married to Sir Percival, though she is in love with Walter.

The book is told from many different points of view – technically, all “secondary” characters to the story. I actually thought this was kind of a cool way to tell the story, it’s just that I didn’t enjoy all the perspectives – many of them bored me.

I was bored by the beginning and the end. It did pick up for me about ¼ of the way through (in my edition, that took about 125 pages), but then it slowed down again for the last 175 pages. It was the middle section, as told by the sister, Marian, that I really liked. This was when Laura/Lady Glyde was married. I’m not sure if it was just that part of the plot that kept my attention the best, or if I preferred the narrative as told by a woman? I quite liked Marian’s character, but thought Laura was pretty much a non-entity – she had no personality… despite being so much part of the plot, she seemed to mostly be in the background. I suppose that could be due to the fact that it was told by everyone else’s perspectives?

Averaging out that I wasn’t crazy about the beginning and end, but that I really did enjoy the middle part, I’m giving it 3 stars, “ok”.

Cumulative page total = 36,809

Edited: Oct 1, 12:01am Top

Looking to September...

- Madam Millie / Max Evans (ColourCAT, AlphaKIT)
- By the Shores of Silver Lake / Laura Ingalls Wilder (ColourCAT, AlphaKIT, PBT)
- The Great Gatsby / F. Scott Fitzgerald (Book club, Reading Through Time)
- The Mitten / Jan Brett (RandomCAT, AlphaKIT, PBT)
- Little Girl Lost / Richard Aleas
(MysteryCAT, Trim)
- Eve the Soul Reaper / Leonard Clifton (AlphaKIT)
- Breaking Out of Bedlam / Leslie Larson (AlphaKIT, Trim)
- Immortal in Death / JD Robb (Mystery Subgenre, PBT)
- The Tin Ticket / Deborah J. Swiss (ColourCAT, PBT) - if it comes in via ILL
- I'm Down / Mishna Wolff (PBT, Trim)
- Ink and Bone / Rachel Caine
- Are You My Mother / Alison Bechdel (Passport Challenge)
- The Heart's Invisible Furies / John Boyne (PBT Decathlon, PBT) - if it comes in at the library

- Finders Keepers / Stephen King (ScaredyKIT)
- Suspect / Robert Crais (MysteryCAT, PBT)
- The Supreme Macaroni Company / Adriana Trigiani

And the Backpack Across Europe game (con't):

5. Romania:
- Dawn / Elie Weisel (born in Romania) (+AlphaKIT)
6. Ukraine
- Everything is Illuminated / Jonathan S F
7. Poland
- Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account
8. Germany
- Stones on a Grave / Kathy Kacer
9. France (repeat, no points)
- Becoming Marie Antoinette /
- Madame Tussaud: A Life in Wax?
10. Spain
- Sister Queens / Julia Fox

Aug 29, 10:24pm Top

106. Doomsday Book / Connie Willis
4.5 stars
497 pages

Kivrin has decided she wants to travel back to 1320, as she’s always been fascinated with the Middle Ages. She is prepared, but when the day comes, she is sent back in time, but things go wrong! When she arrives, she is sick. Not only that, one of the techs who sent her back is also ill (still in the 20th century). Kivrin is coping with being in the 14th century while ill, while Bahdri, the tech, can’t make himself understood to someone who could help Kivrin as to what exactly went wrong with “the drop”. Meanwhile, the illness (in the 20th century) is spreading like wildfire.

A little bit of time travel, a little bit of suspense, a lot of historical fiction. All things I like. The last one-quarter to one-third of the book had me on the edge of my seat and I just wanted to keep reading. At the same time, as the book continued on, it was heartbreaking. A roller coaster of emotions for this one.

Cumulative page total = 37,306

Aug 30, 7:16am Top

>161 LibraryCin: I really enjoyed this.

Aug 30, 10:31pm Top

>162 Andrew-theQM: I'm pretty sure it will make my favourites list this year!

Aug 31, 12:03am Top

107. From the Corner of his Eye / Dean Koontz
2.5 stars
729 pages

Junior is a rapist and murderer, including pushing his wife off a cliff. Anges goes into labour and has her baby, Bartholomew, shortly after she and her husband are in a car crash and her husband dies. Bartholomew is a prodigy and loses his eyes to cancer when he is only 3 years old. Fimmy (sp? aka Seraphim) has a baby after being raped by Junior; her sister Celestine brings up baby Angel. How are they all connected?

Not a very good summary, I know. I listened to the audio, and it just didn’t hold my attention much, so I missed a lot. I was tempted to rate it ok (3 stars), but I don’t know. Although I’m a tough rater and don’t give out 5 stars often, on the other side, I feel like I’m often not harsh enough on some books. This is definitely not your usual Dean Koontz.

Cumulative page total = 38,035

Aug 31, 5:18am Top

>163 LibraryCin: I always mean to read more Connie Willis but not got to them yet. Especially thecothers in the Oxford Time Travel series - have heard positive things.


Aug 31, 9:00pm Top

>165 Andrew-theQM: I read To Say Nothing of the Dog a year or two ago, not realizing it was #2 in a series. I liked Doomsday Book better, but I do now plan to continue with the 3rd in the series.

Sep 2, 1:34am Top

108. The Door / Magda Szabo
3 stars
266 pages

The narrator (I don’t think we ever learn her name in the book, though the blurb on the back calls her Magda) is a writer who hires an older woman, Emerence, to do her housekeeping. Emerence does lots of cleaning jobs and shows up when she feels like it. The two women form a friendship, despise Emerence’s “quirks”, including where she doesn’t ever let anyone, anyone at all, see inside her home.

I hated Emerence and didn’t see how there was any kind of friendship on either side. I would, in fact, call Emerence a crazy old b**** - seriously crazy. She had temper tantrums that she took out on everyone around her, including the narrator’s dog, Viola. Not sure why Viola liked Emerence so much, when Emerence periodically beat Viola for no reason to do with the dog. Emerence also had cats and I worried for their safety, in addition to Viola’s. Though the book was pretty slow-moving, it did pick up a bit toward the end. But, I still hated Emerence and didn’t “get” the friendship, at all.

Cumulative page total = 38,301

Sep 2, 1:56am Top

109. Dawn / Elie Wiesel
2 stars
65 pages

Set after WWII, Elisha had been in a concentration camp, but when he got out, he wasn’t sure what to do with himself. He was then recruited into a terrorist group in Israel. At 18 years old, Elisha is told he is to murder a kidnapped English soldier. The (very short) book (in the intro, Wiesel calls it a novel, but it’s under 100 pages) is the day or two leading up to the murder, as Elisha is coming to terms with what he has been tasked to do.

Boring. The premise doesn’t sound too bad, but ultimately, it was mostly Elisha discussing philosophy with his fellow terrorists. It is billed as book 2 after “Night”, but it was fiction whereas Night was a memoir. I won’t be reading the 3rd book.

Cumulative page total = 38,366

Sep 4, 9:59pm Top

110. The Heart's Invisible Furies / John Boyne
4.5 stars
582 pages

When Cyril’s teenage mother gets pregnant in 1945 rural Ireland, she is publicly humiliated by her priest and kicked out of town. She heads to Dublin, not sure what she will do next. While there, she finds a job and decides to give up her baby for adoption. Cyril is raised by Maude and Charles Avery, who don’t really seem all that interested in Cyril, though he is not treated badly. He is, however, always reminded that he is their “adopted son”, and not a real Avery. When Cyril is 7, he meets Julian, whom he is fascinated by. They don’t see each other again until they are 14 and at school together, when they become best friends.

I won’t go into more, but the book jumps forward every 7 years and goes over something substantial that happens in Cyril’s life at those times. The book follows Cyril through his entire life. The book touches on many different issues as time goes on, particularly in very Catholic Ireland, but even beyond. To be honest, it’s slow paced, but I was interested and wanted to know what would happen. At almost 600 pages, I managed to finish it over 2 days in a long weekend. I can’t say I liked Cyril all the time, and I certainly didn’t like Julian all that much, but since it followed Cyril (and some of the people he interacted with) through his entire life, people grow and change. There were a lot of coincidences in the book. I suppose the world Cyril was a part of is smaller (probably especially at the time), but I think still some big coincidences.

Cumulative page total = 38,948

Sep 4, 10:19pm Top

111.The Mitten / Jan Brett
3.5 stars
30 pages

This is a Ukrainian folk tale turned into a picture book. A boy asks his grandmother to knit white mittens for him and he promptly loses one of the mittens. In the time it takes him to find it again, various wildlife find their way into the mitten to get warm and cozy.

I’d rate the story 3 stars (ok), but the illustrations (as usual in her books) are gorgeous. There is a main picture on each page, with beautiful borders on either side. She does a very nice job of making it look Ukrainian (the first page describes some of the research she did for the book), and the borders add a bit of a preview as to what might be coming on the next page. So, 3 stars for the story and 4 stars for the illustrations gives it 3.5 stars from me, overall.

Cumulative page total = 38,978

Sep 5, 10:05pm Top

112. The Great Gatsby / F. Scott Fitzgerald
2.5 stars
180 pages

Nick is renting a place on Long Island near some very rich people; his immediate neighbour is Jay Gatsby. They finally meet at one of Gatsby’s parties and Gatsby asks Nick to help set up a meeting with Nick’s friend (or cousin?) Daisy, who is married to Tom. Amidst adultery, drinking, partying, and driving (in the 1920s, when not everyone did drive), things go horribly wrong.

I thought about rating it 3 stars, ok, but decided to go with the lower rating when I read a wikipedia summary, knowing I’d missed what happened at one point (even after reading it a couple of times, I still couldn’t quite figure out exactly what had happened) and wanting to find out what it was I’d missed, only to realize I’d missed way more than I thought throughout the book!

I thought I was mostly following, but somehow, in Fitzgerald’s vagueness (or was it just not keeping my attention? Since I tried reading that one part twice and it still didn’t make sense, I’m saying vagueness – at least mostly), some things just went right over my head. It would be nice to not have to reread sections to figure out what he was trying to say, especially when I still couldn’t figure it out on the reread! I saw the diCaprio movie when it came out, and I thought it was good, but it was long enough ago, that I didn’t recall most of it to help me with the book. But hey – at least it wasn’t a long book.

Cumulative page total = 39,158

Sep 7, 10:40pm Top

113. Little Girl Lost / Richard Aleas
4 stars
221 pages

John Blake is in his late 20s and is a private investigator. When he sees in the news that his high school girlfriend, now a stripper, has been murdered, he takes it upon himself to find out what happened. Not just the murder, but how did the girl he once knew, who left to go to school to become an eye doctor (optometrist or ophthalmologist, he couldn’t remember), end up a murdered stripper ten years later?

I really liked this one. There was a personal element to it, so that might be why I liked this more than most “noir” mysteries that I’ve read. But also, I liked John and I liked one of the other characters who was helping him. It crossed my mind at one point (in part) what might have happened, but I had good reason to doubt that, so it only briefly floated through my mind. So, the end wasn’t a complete surprise, though it did have to be explained how that could even be (and it was explained). There is another book in the series, but only one more, so I’m not sure if there will be more or not, but I will definitely read the 2nd one.

Cumulative page total = 39,379

Edited: Sep 23, 6:52pm Top

Need to get this one read soon, though it wasn't on my original plan:
- The Clockmaker's Daughters / Kate Morton

Also, unplanned, but I see it's coming from my library... a book I wanted to read for a May challenge! I requested it via ILL, but they decided to order it and it took ages! It's here now:
- Strangers on a Train / Patricia Highsmith

Sep 10, 10:23pm Top

114. Finders Keepers / Stephen King
4 stars
448 pages

When Morris and a couple of friends break in to an author’s home, Morris really just wants to steal notebooks. His favourite series didn’t end how he wanted and Morris hoped to find a better ending to the series in the author’s notes. They end up murdering the author and they steal the notebooks and money. Morris later goes to jail for raping a girl, but only after he’s hidden the notebooks and money. Decades later, when teenager Pete finds them (his family now lives in what was once Morris’s home), he doesn’t tell his parents, but instead anonymously mails them some of the money every month, in order to try to stop them from breaking up over money. When Morris is released from prison, though, he is looking for that money and those notebooks…

I listened to the audio, and though there were occasional parts where my mind wandered somewhat, there was enough that kept my attention that I liked it. Even better, as it got closer to the end, I was kept wanting to listen to find out what would happen. What I’ve found with some mystery/suspense/thriller books – whether on audio or if I’m actually reading the words – the parts where I’m more likely to lose focus is usually when it’s the POV of the “bad guy”. Though that wasn’t the case all the time for this book, it was for a portion, I think. Overall, though, another really good book by King.

Cumulative page total = 39,827

Sep 12, 11:36pm Top

115. The Clockmaker's Daughter / Kate Morton
4.5 stars
512 pages

When an archivist, Elodie, in 2017 comes into possession of a few items, it leads her to a house that holds all kinds of secrets since the mid-1800s. In fact, her family is even connected to the house; her grandmother and her grandmother’s children once lived in that house.

This one covered snippets of many points in time, starting with the mid-1800s onward (well, it hopped around back and forth in time), though the bulk of the story is in that earliest time period. It took me a long time to figure out who the “I” was, to be honest, as there was an “I” character in many different time periods. The shocker at the end (quite horrifying, really) was what brought up my rating to 4.5.

Cumulative page total = 40,339

Sep 13, 12:04am Top

116. I'm Down / Mishna Wolff
4 stars
275 pages

Mishna was a white girl raised in a poor black neighbourhood in Seattle. Her father wanted to think he was black, so that’s the neighbourhood he chose to raise his two daughters. Mishna, in particular, had a hard time fitting in when she was young. Once she finally started making friends in the neighbourhood, though she still lived there, she had tested high on some academic tests, so she had to switch to a school in a rich neighbourhood with smart rich kids, and once again, she didn’t know how to fit in there.

I really liked this book. She wrote it, mostly with a humourous slant, but it was sad to see that her father did not treat her well. His girlfriends varied on how they treated Mishna. She did learn later on that even some of the rich kids, despite their money, had problems, as well. She was born not long after me, so I certainly identified with much of the 80s culture, in general, which is always fun. It was a quick read.

Cumulative page total = 40,614

Sep 16, 4:01pm Top

117. Everything is Illuminated / Jonathan Safran Foer
1.5 stars
261 pages

I don’t even have a summary. There was a Ukrainian translator with horrible English. There was an author visiting Ukraine, who met up with the translator and they, along with the translator’s grandfather were looking for a village that didn’t seem to exist, so it seemed. And, throughout the book, some chapters backed up in time to Jewish people starting in the 1700s, but I never quite figured out what was going on there, as the time jumped forward in other chapters; at some point it was during WWII. Apparently, these were ancestors of the author (the author character, not the actual author)?

This was weird. It is going to be my lowest rated book of the year (I think this is only the 2nd book, ever, I’ve rated less than 2 stars). I couldn’t figure out how the translator could even be a translator with his awful English; the author had the same name as the actual author of the book, Jonathan Safran Foer, so that simply confused me for ages. There were other odd parts written like a play or written like Bible verses. Weird. Not good. At all. It’s too bad – I think the only other book I’ve read by this author (nonfiction) made it on my favourites list for that year.

Cumulative page total = 40,875

Sep 17, 10:52pm Top

118. The Supreme Macaroni Company / Adriana Trigiani
3 stars
352 pages

In this third book of the series, Valentine is getting married. While on her honeymoon, she discovers something that could be very bad for her shoe-making business and has to figure out what to do about it.

I didn’t like her husband, Gianluca. I actually agreed with most of her thoughts, actions, etc, except I couldn’t understand why they rushed into their marriage and didn’t talk about many of the things that ended up creating conflict beforehand. I’m not sure why I didn’t like Gianluca, but every time he did something nice, I had this foreboding feeling. Overall, the story kept me interested. I was listening to the audio and I think the narrator did a good job with accents and such. Overall, I’m rating it ok. Not as good as the others in the series, though; the first book was definitely the best one.

Cumulative page total = 41,227

Sep 20, 11:38pm Top

119. Ink and Bone / Rachel Caine
3.5 stars
299 pages

I’m not even sure how to describe the world, but Jess has been called to become a librarian. Well, he is amongst a group of teens who will be trained and six of them will become librarians. Librarians aren’t quite how we think of them now, though. In this world, they protect the books from even falling into the hands of regular people. There is some kind of war going on.

I was a bit confused by the world itself, which is why I don’t have much of a summary. What I did like about the book was the characters and the friendships/relationships. I don’t even feel like I should rate it as high as I have, given that I didn’t quite understand what-all was going on. But, I liked the characters and given the situations they were in, I was interested to find out if they would make it out ok. Maybe a bit surprisingly, I think I will read the next in the series.

Cumulative page total = 41,526

Sep 23, 6:53pm Top

120. Strangers on a Train / Patricia Highsmith
3.5 stars
282 pages

When Guy is on a train from New York to Texas, in order to obtain a divorce from his wife, he meets Bruno. While in conversation, Bruno makes a proposal: if Bruno kills Guy’s wife, Guy should kill Bruno’s father, in return. They don’t really know each other, so neither would be suspected of murder. Guy is rightly horrified with the thought, but Bruno won’t give up that easily.

This was good. Very much a psychological novel, as we are mostly in Guy’s mind as he tries to deal with Bruno, and at the same time, move on with his life. It does switch to a couple of other perspectives, as well, but mostly we follow Guy. Good book.

Cumulative page total = 41,808

Sep 24, 10:24pm Top

121. Suspect / Robert Crais
3.5 stars
352 pages

Maggie was a military dog whose handler died and she herself was shot. Scott is a police officer who was shot and his partner murdered. Maggie and Scott are later paired up, and months later, Scott wants to find who killed his partner and shot him.

I listened to the audio and never lost interest. I loved Maggie and the story was good. I thought about upping the rating, just for Maggie, but I kept it to a respectable 3.5 stars (good). There is another in this series that I will plan to read.

Cumulative page total = 42,160

Sep 27, 11:31pm Top

122. Immortal in Death / J.D. Robb
3.5 stars
218 pages

When Eve’s best friend, Mavis, is charged with murdering a model, Eve has to get to the bottom of it and free Mavis. She knows Mavis would never do such a thing, though it does look bad.

Thought I’d leave any of Eve’s personal details out of the summary, so as not to be spoilery (though this is only the 3rd book in the ridiculously long series, so I suspect most people who are interested have already (probably long since!) bypassed this one). I will say that I didn’t dislike Rourke nearly as much in this one as I did in the previous two books. The book was good. This was probably a similar rating as what I gave the first two books, I think. Decent story, but nothing overly special. I was surprised at the ending. Will I continue the series? I suppose I probably will, at least for now. They are quick to read.

Cumulative page total = 42,378

Edited: Oct 26, 11:52pm Top

Hope/plan for October (much of this is wishful thinking! It would be nice to at least finish up to the line!)

- Mata Hari's Last Dance / Michelle Moran (MysteryCAT)
- The Blue Girl / Charles de Lint (ScaredyKIT, PBT, AlphaKIT)
- Evermore / Alyson Noel (ScaredyKIT, AlphaKIT, Mystery Subgenre)
- Lies of the Heart / MB (AlphaKIT, RandomCAT)
- Pretend You Don't See Her / MHC (ColourCAT, Mystery Subgenre)
- The Child / Fiona Barton (Book club)
- See You in a Hundred Years / Logan Ward (AlphaKIT, Reading Through Time)
- The Fifth Petal / BB (Fall Flurry)
- The Psychopath Test / Jon Ronson
(Passport Challenge)
- The Tattooed Witch / Susan (PBT, Trim)
- The Anatomy of Edouard Beaupre (PBT, Trim)
- Herbert Has Lots for a Buck / (PBT, Trim)
- When Everything Feels Like the Movies / RR (PBT, Trim)
- The Age of Hope / David Bergen
(PBT, Trim)
- Lime Tree Can't Bear Orange / AS (AlphaKIT, Trim)
- Breaking Out of Bedlam / LL (AlphaKIT, Trim)

Backpack Across Europe game (con't). Technically the game is over, but I want to finish.

7. Poland
- Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account
8. Germany
- Stones on a Grave / Kathy Kacer
9. France (repeat, no points)
- Becoming Marie Antoinette / OR
- Madame Tussaud: A Life in Wax?
10. Spain
- Sister Queens / Julia Fox

Sep 30, 1:34am Top

123. Follow Follow / Marilyn Singer
4 stars
29 pages

This is the author’s 2nd book of “reverso” poems. She takes a fairy tale and writes a short poem; the poem is then presented in reverse to give a slightly different angle on the story – maybe another character’s POV, or the same character, but just a slightly different look at the story. The poem, in reverse, might have slightly different capitalization and punctuation, but the words and lines are the same, just in reverse.

Some of the fairy tales she represents in this one include The Princess and the Pea, The Little Mermaid, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Tortoise and the Hare, and more.

It’s really very clever and I loved the first book! This one is also very good, and it amazes me that she can come up with these! It’s presented very nicely in a picture book. The poems themselves are side-by-side – the poem, then its reverse, beside in a different colour. The pictures to go with are presented on the page beside, with two slightly different pictures side-by-side, representing each poem and its reverse.

Cumulative page total = 42,407

Oct 1, 12:02am Top

124. The Tin Ticket / Deborah J. Swiss
4 stars
329 pages

In the early to mid-1800s, women “criminals” were transported from England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales to Tasmania (a small island off Australia) to serve their time. Of course, almost none of them came home when they served their time. Not only that, a large number of these criminals were merely stealing food or clothing because they couldn’t afford it.

This book takes a look at a few of these women throughout their lives – how they grew up and what caused them to steal, which caused them to be sent to Tasmania; it followed them into the horrible gaols of the time; and it followed them to Tasmania – their time imprisoned, as well as a short section on how they lived after they were freed. There was also a Quaker woman who, ahead of her time, realized the horrible conditions these women were living in in the jails, and worked hard to make things better for them, as much as she could.

I found this very interesting. I knew that criminals had been sent to Australia, but I had never before read any of their stories. It’s pretty sad how little it took to be charged and sent away.

Cumulative page total = 42,736

Edited: Oct 2, 10:53pm Top

125. The Child / Fiona Barton
4 stars
366 pages

When a newborn baby’s skeleton is dug up on a construction site, a reporter, Kate, wants to find out what happened. In her investigation, she comes across Angela, whose newborn baby disappeared in the 70s, and Emma, who as a teenager in the 80s, was living with her mom and her mom’s boyfriend at the location where the skeleton was found.

The book mostly follows the perspective of these three women, though a few other perspectives are thrown in there, as well. This hooked me at the start and it has short chapters, which kept me wanting to read. I guess this is the 2nd book involving reporter Kate, and there were a few mentions of bits of what happened in the other book, so I will be seeking out the other book to read, as well. I caught on to the ending just about as Kate did, I think, but it wasn’t spelled out until a couple of pages later.

Cumulative page total = 43,102

Oct 6, 4:17pm Top

126. The Wright Brothers / David McCullough
3 stars
262 pages

Wilbur and Orville Wright were the first to build and fly in their “flying machine” in the very early 1900s. They started out building and selling bicycles. This book includes a bit of biography, and a lot of technology and description of their flying experiments. They travelled from their hometown of Dayton, Ohio to North Carolina (Kitty Hawk), then to France. There seemed to be more interest in what they were doing in France than in the US.

It was ok. I listened to the audio, which was narrated by the author, which may not have been the best choice, but it does make it hard to decide if the parts I wasn’t as interested in was due to the subject in those sections of the book or because I just lost interest due to the narration. I’m going to guess a bit of both. I did find the biographical parts much more interesting than all the information about their experimenting. I also liked reading about their sister, Katharine. I did also have a copy of the print book, which was nice, as it includes photos.

Cumulative page total = 43,364

Edited: Oct 6, 4:36pm Top

127. Pretend You Don't See Her / Mary Higgins Clark
3.5 stars
307 pages

When real estate agent, Lacey, witnesses the murder of a woman she is selling a house for, she is in danger. Not only that, the dying woman tasked Lacey with giving her daughter’s journal to her daughter’s father. Her daughter was killed in a car crash a few months previous. However, the journal is now evidence.

I liked it, but there were a lot of characters that I had a bit of trouble keeping straight. The author jumps to different perspectives, on occasion, and the reader knows who the killer is (as does Lacey) from the start, but how it all ties together is unknown. Overall, it was “good” for me.

Cumulative page total = 43,671

Oct 8, 1:34am Top

128. Evermore / Alyson Noel
4 stars
242 pages

16-year old Ever is in a car crash with her family and their dog; she is the only survivor. She has since gone to live with her aunt in California. She can also suddenly see people’s auras and hear people’s thoughts. Not a fun situation. Though she used to be popular and beautiful, she now hides behind a hoodie and plays loud music to drown everything else out; she’s a freak. When a gorgeous guy starts school, she cannot figure out if or why he might be interested in her.

I really liked this. There were shades of Twilight and Sookie Stackhouse, each for various reasons. I liked both the storyline with Damon, the boy at school, and the one with her ghost sister, Riley.

Cumulative page total = 43,913

Edited: Oct 9, 12:04am Top

Fitting in one extra I've been trying to fit in for a while (won via Early Reviewers a few months back!)...

- The Third Act / John Wilson

Edited: Oct 9, 12:06am Top

The Third Act / John Wilson
3.5 stars
245 pages

In current day, Tone, girlfriend Theresa, and friend/roommate Pike all came from China to go to university in the US. Tone is passionate about physics and has just gotten word that he is receiving a prize for his work/research and will be able to continue that research at MIT. He would like his actress girlfriend to come with him, but she’s just gotten a part that she thinks will open things up for her career in theatre. Pike is only where he is because it’s where his father wants him to be, doing what his father wants him to be doing. His father supports him, so he has money to burn, but he isn’t putting in the work.

Meanwhile, in 1937, Nanjing, China, there is a war going on. The Japanese have captured the city of Nanjing, but there has been a “Safety Zone” set up. Chinese-born, Lily is there, along with the American man she loves, playwright Neil Peterson (though he could go home, he wants to stay), and Hill, who wants to find his older brother, a soldier in the war.

The chapters alternate between the time periods. The play in the current day portion is the third act of a play Peterson never finished, about his time in 1937 China. It took me a bit of time to get interested, but once I did, it was quick to read and quite interesting. There wasn’t as much about the historical portion as I might have liked, though admittedly, I was a bit more interested in the current-day portion, anyway. Our three current-day protagonists are trying to find their way in a new culture, and are feeling like they are losing their own culture in the process. The end was a definite surprise!

Cumulative page total = 44,158

Oct 14, 6:53pm Top

130. See You in a Hundred Years / Logan Ward
4 stars
249 pages

Logan and his wife, Heather, decided to leave their jobs and lives in New York City and take their 2-year old to Virginia to buy and live on a farm. Not only that, they were going to renovate the house to make it so that they would be living in the year 1900. They wanted to live this way for a full year.

I find these so interesting! There was a British tv show (which gave Logan and Heather the idea) called The 1900 House. Not long after, in Canada, there was a tv show called Pioneer Quest that took two couples and did pretty much what Logan and Heather did, except they went back a few years earlier to the 1880s, and they had to build their homes from scratch.

That being said, I found this really interesting. At the same time, considering the tv I’ve seen with similar topics, I wasn’t surprised at how difficult it was, as well as a huge reliance on (unpredictable) Mother Nature. It was nice to see the community and neighbours come together to help them out. The only thing is that I would have liked more in the epilogue – how much of hat they did/learned during that year did they continue with when they returned to the current day?

Cumulative page total = 44,407

Edited: Oct 23, 10:31pm Top

Additional audio book added in for this month:

Destiny of the Republic / Candice Millard (Listopia)

Oct 14, 7:12pm Top

>193 LibraryCin: Have you finished this book yet?

Oct 14, 7:13pm Top

131. The Psychopath Test / Jon Ronson
3 stars
288 pages

The author is a reporter and, once he got his hands on a test to determine whether or not someone is a psychopath, he tried to figure it out by asking people questions from the test. He looked a little more into psychiatry beyond psychopaths, as well.

Ok, not the greatest summary, but I guess this wasn’t what I thought it would be (should have read summaries closer!). He’s not a psychiatrist, or even a psychologist, so if you want real information on psychopaths/sociopaths, I would recommend “The Sociopath Next Door” as being much better. Some of the history Ronson provided was interesting, though, and particularly a look at current diagnoses of kids today. I listened to the audio, read by the author, and my concentration varied. Overall, I’m rating it ok.

Cumulative page total = 44,695

Oct 14, 7:14pm Top

>194 threadnsong: No, it's the next one up. I will be starting... likely on my commute tomorrow.

Oct 14, 7:27pm Top

132. Mata Hari's Last Dance / Michelle Moran
3.5 stars
260 pages

Mata Hari was a well-known dancer/stripper (very high class, I suppose – she danced naked, anyway) in Europe in the early 20th century. She slept with men who could pay her way in life. She was later arrested, imprisoned, and put to death in France – the country she called home – via firing squad for being a spy for the Germans. This is Moran’s historical version of her life – at least from the time she started dancing, with flashbacks to the rest of her life.

I knew nothing of Mata Hari except for her name – not a thing. I read the book because I like the author, but this one wasn’t nearly as good as her others, I didn’t think. At least now I have an idea of who she was, though I can’t say I particularly liked her. I wonder if I would have been more sympathetic toward her if her life had been told chronologically, rather than in flashbacks? Either way, I’m rating the book good, although I feel a bit like that might be generous.

Cumulative page total = 44,955

Oct 14, 7:55pm Top

133. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow / Washington Irving
Reread on audio this time:
3.75 stars
96 pages

I’ve read the story a couple of times before, but when I saw someone else post a review for the audio, I thought this would be a good time of year to listen to the audio if my library had one available. Lucky for me, it did! Not only that, the one I borrowed was read by Anthony Heald (Giles from Buffy!). I really enjoyed his narration of the story. I feel like I even caught a few things that I might have missed in reading it. It still has a lot of description and you really do need to pay attention, but I did well with this audio. I think my older reviews kept the story at “good” 3.5 stars, but I’m giving the audio an extra .25 stars.

Cumulative page total = 45,051

Oct 15, 11:57pm Top

134. The Anatomy of Edouard Beaupre / Sarah Kathryn York
4 stars
120 pages

Edouard Beaupre was born in 1881; he was Metis and was the first child born in the small Southern Saskatchwan settlement of Willow Bunch (which happens to be about an hour from where I grew up). He died in 1904 at the age of 23; he was 8’4” and still growing. He spent parts of his adult life as a giant and strongman in travelling sideshows and circuses. Where the story actually starts and ends is with a doctor who is studying his corpse.

I knew of Edouard Beaupre when I was younger, but knew him as the “Willow Bunch Giant”; I don’t remember if I knew his name when I was younger. There is a museum in Willow Bunch that I have been to, once about 15 years ago. I was very interested to find this book about him. I think I initially thought it was a biography, but it’s actually fiction, but it sounds like a lot of research went into it and so it sounds like most of it is probably fairly accurate. I found it very interesting and a little bit sad, for him.

Cumulative page total = 45,171

Edited: Oct 16, 12:42am Top

135. When Everything Feels Like the Movies / Raziel Reid
3.5 stars
121 pages

Jude is gay, wears makeup, and likes to dress in his mother’s clothes. He isn’t shy about this, even at school. But, of course, he is bullied because of it. He thinks of himself, though, as a movie star, and his life is like a movie; this allows him to deal with the other kids and the bullying. He does have a best friend, Angela, who sleeps around with many of the boys at school.

It was a bit hard to get into at first, a bit hard to follow. Have to admit, I didn’t like either Jude or Angela. As a warning, there is a lot of sex and drugs, or at least talk of it. It probably shouldn’t have, but the end came as a surprise to me. But, it blew me away! Overall, I’m rating it “good”.

Cumulative page total = 45,292

Oct 19, 11:45pm Top

136. The Age of Hope / David Bergen
4 stars
178 pages

Hope was born in 1930. She was fairly young when she married Roy. They lived in the small Mennonite town of Eden, Manitoba. They had four children, and we follow Hope’s thoughts and feelings throughout her entire adult life, as she marries, becomes a mother to her four children, while Roy is mostly working. She feels lonely and Roy doesn’t understand since she has four kids around. But, Roy loves her; he is a nice man and treats her well. But, sometimes Hope has trouble and needs some help. The story follows Hope through her entire life.

There is not a whole lot to the story, ultimately, and definitely not fast-paced, but it was still really good. The (male!) author does a really good job of bringing us into Hope’s world, I thought.

Cumulative page total = 45,470

Edited: Oct 21, 7:01pm Top

Currently reading one that wasn't on my original plan (and have at least one more coming up):

Weekend Warriors / Fern Michaels

The other coming up is by Linwood Barclay, but my mind is blanking on the title...
- Escape / Linwood Barclay (looked it up!)

Oct 20, 4:30pm Top

137. Weekend Warriors / Fern Michaels
3.5 stars
150 pages

Myra’s daughter is killed in a hit and run by someone with diplomatic immunity. She sinks into a deep depression and only comes out when she sees, on the news, a woman – whose daughter was killed, but the killer gets off on a technicality – shoot the killer. Myra’s rich, so she pays the woman’s bail and helps her disappear. Myra wishes she would have done something like that to her daughter’s killer. She then recruits her adopted daughter’s help – Nikki is a lawyer – to organize a vigilante group of women who never got justice through proper legal channels. As a group, they’ll plan and hand out that justice, instead.

I’m a bit mixed on this one. The story was entertaining, but I sure didn’t like the women, nor did I agree with what they were doing. I also found it difficult to believe that Nikki would put her career on the line like that. I also found that it was too quick and easy that they were able to find the people they wanted revenge on. I also feel like the cover is quite misleading – it’s a pretty white cover with flowers… hmmmmm. This is the first in a series, so they primarily focused on one of the women and her revenge, though they all have different stories. I’m not sure if I’ll continue or not.

Cumulative page total = 45,620

Edited: Nov 3, 4:31pm Top

Have an another that wasn't originally planned for. The first book I tried for the challenge didn't really fit, after all. :-(
- The Testament / John Grisham

Oct 21, 7:02pm Top

138. Escape / Linwood Barclay
4 stars
247 pages

This is a straight continuation of Barclay’s first YA book, “Chase”. It picks up pretty much where “Chase” left off. I’ll just give the basics of what’s going on so as not to spoil the first book. Chipper is a dog that has been altered by “The Institute” – he is still part-dog, but also part-robot. He escapes and finds 12-year old, Jeff, whose parents passed away not long ago. The Institute is now looking for Chipper, and by extension, Jeff.

I really enjoyed these two books. They really are two parts to the same story, so I’ve rated them the same. It’s fast-paced, but it is meant for younger readers, so it is more simple than his adult books, but he still throws a couple of twists into the story, as well.

Cumulative page total = 45,867

Oct 22, 5:09pm Top

I enjoyed The Testament. One of my favourites by him.

Oct 22, 10:21pm Top

>206 Andrew-theQM: Oh, that's good to hear!

Edited: Nov 3, 4:31pm Top

Ahhh, audio books usually throw a wrench into things, as I can't always find one at my library that fits what I want to read in a certain month! That being said, here is another additional book added for this month that wasn't originally planned for:

The Painted Girls / Cathy Marie Buchanan

Oct 23, 10:33pm Top

139. Destiny of the Republic: a Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President / Candice Millard
2.5 stars
352 pages

I thought this was meant to be a biography of James Garfield, the 20th president of the U.S. He was shot not long after he took office, and eventually died when doctors didn’t really understand how to help him properly.

I listened to the audio. There wasn’t as much biography as I was expecting. Much of it was politics, which I’m not all that interested in, so I tuned out for a good portion of the first ½ to 2/3. I was on my way to giving it only 2 stars. It got much more interesting after he was shot, however. I almost raised my rating to 3 stars (ok), but decided 2.5 was probably more accurate when I took the first ½ into account, as well.

What I found much more interesting was the medicine at the time. The suggestion of germs, something no one could see, was new and many doctors didn’t want to believe it. I also found Alexander Graham Bell and his invention, the “induction balance”, quite interesting. This machine he invented was meant to find the bullet that was still lodged into Garfield’s body. This book has actually made me kind of interested in reading more about Bell!

Cumulative page total = 46,219

Edited: Oct 29, 12:05am Top

Ah, one more not in the original plan. One of the ones in my original plan, my library does not actually have, but it's on order. Though I put it on hold, I initially didn't realize it was on order.

So... needed to pick something else for that challenge, so instead:
Heart's Blood / Juliet Marillier

Oct 26, 11:54pm Top

140. The Fifth Petal / Brunonia Barry
4 stars
407 pages

On Halloween 1989, in Salem, Mass., three women are murdered… three women who were seen as witches. A fourth woman lived (Rose), but was never the same after; she was also seen as a witch and many thought she was the murderer. Also, a little girl, Callie, lived; her mother was one of the three who was murdered. Callie was sent away to live in an orphanage and in foster homes.

Twenty-five years later, Rose is homeless and talks to trees. She insists a banshee killed the other three women. When she is being bullied by teenage boys, one of the boys is killed and people (once again) point their fingers at Rose as the murderer. Callie returns to Salem to discover that Rose is still alive (she’d been told Rose had been killed, as well). A newer police officer (newer to Salem after 1989), Rafferty, reopens the unsolved case from 1989.

I quite enjoyed this. It definitely started with a “bang”, as Halloween 1989 was the opening of the book. It actually went off in a bunch of directions as the story went on, as the book seemed to show the characters living their lives while any investigations were going on, etc. So, there was much more to the story than the murders and the investigation. There were character relationships, people fighting illness and people trying to help heal, etc. Have to admit, though, the best parts of the story, for me, was the murders and the solving of them. The other parts were, admittedly, a bit slower. The end included a bibliography (on multiple topics touched on in the book) that I will pick a few books off of to add to my tbr.

Cumulative page total = 46,626

Edited: Today, 12:10am Top

Ok, the hope/plan for November:

- Daughter of Moloka'i / Alan Brennert
- All Things Wise and Wonderful / James Heriot (Reading Through Time)
- To Sleep with the Angels / David C (ColourCAT, AlphaKIT)
- Red Heart Tattoo / Lurlene McDaniel (ColourCAT)
- Into the Storm / Reed Timmer (Trim, AlphaKIT)
- The Value of Nothing / Raj Patel
- HH Holmes: The True Story... / AS (ScaredyKIT, AlphaKIT)
- Classified as Murder / Miranda James (MysteryCAT)
- One of Our Thursdays is Missing / Jasper Fforde (PBT)
- The Cat Who Could Read Backwards / LJB (Mystery Subgenre)
- Stuffed and Starved / Raj Patel (Passport Challenge)

- A Bridge Too Far / Cornelius Ryan (Fall Flurry of Holidays)
- Murder on the Half Shelf / Lorna Barrett (MysteryCAT)

Backpack Across Europe game (con't). Technically the game is over, but I want to finish.

7. Poland
- Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account (+ Reading Through Time)
8. Germany
- Stones on a Grave / Kathy Kacer
9. France (repeat, no points)
- Becoming Marie Antoinette / OR
- Madame Tussaud: A Life in Wax?
10. Spain
- Sister Queens / Julia Fox

Oct 28, 3:53pm Top

>212 LibraryCin: you got me! I saw “... on the half shelf”, made an assumption, and was going to ask if oysters were involved.

Oct 28, 4:45pm Top

Thanks for your review. I found this book similar in style to Erik Larson, who discusses the background/history in great detail. And there is a lot of politics during this time. Like you, I found the look into mid-1800's medicine interesting (horrifying??) and the lengths to which Bell went to in order to craft his "induction balance" really well detailed.

Oct 29, 12:06am Top

141. Heart's Blood / Juliet Marillier
4 stars

18-year old Caitrin has recently lost her father and distant relatives have come to take over the house and to “take care” of Caitrin in her time of grief. Well, Cillian is abusive and Caitrin’s sister has left to marry a travelling musician, and Caitrin can’t take it anymore. She leaves and finds herself in Whistling Tor. The village seems fine, though they aren’t used to outsiders visiting, but she soon heads up the mountain (despite warnings of the odd goings-on there) to see if she can land herself a job as a scribe, which her father was, and which she, herself, trained as. Once there, she is a bit taken aback by the head of the house (and cheiftan of the area, though most don’t see him as a leader). As she gets to know the people there, she soon learns that things are odder, still.

I may have known this (I likely did!) when I added it to my tbr, but it’s been long enough that I didn’t remember (until looking at tags assigned and perusing a few other reviews after I finished reading it) that this was a retelling of “Beauty and the Beast”. I didn’t catch it while reading, though I see traces of it, knowing after the fact.

Anyway, I really enjoyed it. I quite liked the characters. I did – sort of – figure out the twist earlier on. Well, it flitted through my head as a possibility, then disappeared again. But, that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of it, at all.

Cumulative page total = 47,030

Nov 3, 4:30pm Top

142. The Painted Girls / Cathy Marie Buchanan
3.5 stars
368 pages

This story follows three sisters, all ballet dancers. Their father has died and their mother, a laundress, neglects them and doesn’t have enough money to take care of them all. The middle sister, Marie, ends up posing for some of Degas’ paintings. The oldest sister, Antoinette, gives up dancing and falls in love with Emile, who is later accused of murder.

The story follows the viewpoints of Marie and Antoinette and alternates between them. I listened to the audio, and though there were two different narrators for each girl, I still found it difficult to follow who was speaking if I missed the intro to the chapter (which did say). I appreciated the author’s note at the end that tells us that the sisters were real and Marie was one of the ballet dancers who posed for Degas. Emile was also real, as was his story, though in reality, he and Antoinette were not involved. I do think both stories are interesting, but I just wonder if I might have liked it better if I wasn’t listening to the audio. I’m still rating it “good”.

Cumulative page total = 47,389

Nov 3, 4:43pm Top

143. The Testament / John Grisham
4 stars
375 pages

When billionaire Troy Phelan commits suicide just after signing a will, there is a surprise for his dysfunctional family. All of the three ex-wives and six adult children who had gathered for the signing, minutes after they left the room, were cut out with a new handwritten holographic will, given from Troy to his lawyer. The family had just had cameras in the room, and had videotaped three psychologists saying he was in his right mind when he signed the will they thought would make them all enormously rich. They are in for a shock when, one month later (after they’ve gone out and spent the money they thought they were getting), they learn that the will they saw him sign was no longer valid; the new will left his 11 billion to his long-lost illegitimate missionary daughter, Rachel, currently living somewhere in Brazil. Troy’s lawyer, Josh, sends one of the other lawyers in his firm to Brazil to find Rachel.

I thought this was really good. Boy, that family was hateful! We didn’t really get to know Troy, and apparently he wasn’t likeable, either, but you could sure see why he wanted to cut those ungrateful offspring (and ex-wives) out of the will altogether! Much of the novel was Nate trying to find Rachel in Brazil, which was entertaining, which leads me to mention that here were a number of humourous moments in the book, as well, which was kind of fun.

Cumulative page total = 47,773

Nov 4, 3:51pm Top

144. Daughter of Moloka'i / Alan Brennert
4 stars
309 pages

This is a sequel to “Moloka’i”, to be published early in 2019. This one follows Ruth, the daughter of Rachel and Kenji, both who have Hansen’s disease (leprosy) and were sent to Molokai to live their lives. Rachel is Hawaiian and Kenji, Japanese. Ruth was born in the early 20th century, and was taken away from her parents. At 5 years old, she is adopted by a Japanese couple, so Ruth is raised learning her Japanese culture. They move from Hawaii to California when Ruth is still young to help her uncle on his farm. Things do not go well for Ruth and her family, along with over 100,000 Japanese Americans when Pearl Harbour is bombed in 1941.

I really liked this, though I have to admit, I wasn’t as interested later on in the book when Rachel came back into the picture. Maybe that would have been different if it hadn’t been so long since I’d read the first book, I’m not sure. It was interesting learning about the Japanese culture, as Ruth learned, and later there was some about the Hawaiian culture, as well. The most interesting parts of the book to me was when Ruth and her family were in the internment camps. That wasn’t completely new to me, but it was the best part of the book for me. I do feel like this one could stand-alone without having read the first book.

Cumulative page total = 48,802

Nov 4, 11:59pm Top

145. Red Heart Tattoo / Lurlene McDaniel
3.75 stars
153 pages

Morgan is the class president, and her boyfriend, Trent, is a football star at school. Morgan’s best friend, Kelli, is a cheerleader and her boyfriend is also a football star. Roth was orphaned young, and lived in foster homes until his uncle returned from military service and took him in. His Uncle Max is now married, so it feels like he has a real home with people who love him, even though Max doesn’t really know how to be a parent. Max runs a tattoo shop and Roth is on the edge of being in trouble, but never anything overly serious. Outsider Liza is Roth’s best friend. They are all seniors when someone sets off a bomb at their school. Some die, and some are injured.

I’d give this 4 stars for the story, but 3.5 stars for going through the story so quickly and leaving out a lot more detail. However, it is a YA book, so maybe the 4 stars is still justified. I really liked the story. I sympathized with most of the characters, but it helped that we see the events from many different characters’ viewpoints. Definitely good YA.

Cumulative page total = 48,955

Edited: Nov 7, 11:24pm Top

Put this one on hold for last month, but it just came for me via the library in the past couple of days, so am reading it now:
- Breaking Out of Bedlam / Leslie Larson

Nov 7, 11:25pm Top

146. Breaking Out of Bedlam / Leslie Larson
3.5 stars
320 pages

Cora is upset with her children (one daughter and two sons), because they’ve contrived behind her back to get her into an assisted living home. She doesn’t want to be there; she wants to be at home with her dog Lulu. She was given a notebook, so she starts writing in it. Via this notebook, the reader learns about Cora’s life – both currently, and the life she lived to this point. One positive thing to come out of this, though: in the home, she meets a new man. But, she still wants to go home!

This was good. Cora was feisty and I (mostly) liked her. She sure had some troubles, though. I also felt really bad for her, for multiple reasons, past and present. I loved Marcos, who worked in the home and watched over Cora. He was fun!

Cumulative page total = 49,275

Nov 10, 8:56pm Top

147. Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account / Miklos Nyiszli
3.5 stars
192 pages

Miklos Nysizli was a Hungarian Jew taken to Auschwitz with his wife and daughter. He was a doctor and was taken on to work in the crematoriums, primarily doing autopsies. Most of the Jews who worked in the crematoriums were killed, but luckily for Nyiszli, he made it through.

I imagine when this book was originally published, in 1960, it was quite shocking. It still is, but I’ve read so much about the Holocaust, that there wasn’t a lot new, though there was some. I feel badly that I’m not rating it higher. I didn’t feel as much of an emotional connection (usually) as I thought I might. I’m not sure if it was written in a more detached way; both as a doctor and just trying to force himself to get through it all to survive, I’m sure he had to do his best to try to detach. He did say at the start of the book that he is a doctor, not a writer, so maybe that was part of it, as well (though it was definitely “readable”). Still, a worthwhile read, for sure.

Cumulative page total = 49,467

Nov 12, 3:49pm Top

148. Into the Storm / Reed Timmer
4 stars
282 pages

Reed Timmer is a meteorologist and storm chaser. (Apparently, though I didn’t know this before I picked up the book), he also hosts a tv show on Discovery Channel called “Storm Chasers”. He grew up in Michigan, but being the weather geek he was, he moved to the middle of “Tornado Alley”, Norman, Oklahoma, to go to college to become a meteorologist. While there, he became fixated on chasing storms, mostly tornadoes, but he also went after a couple of big hurricanes (including Katrina).

I really liked this. He does really stupid things, but hey, I’ll live vicariously through his stories! I love watching storms, and though I’m not even close to being a risk-taker, I think it would be fun to do a tornado chasing holiday one day (but with a more conservative chaser, not Reed Timmer)! The book included some photos, and as part of the footer at the bottom of the page, there were small tornado photos, as well; those stayed the same through a small portion of the book before changing to new photos. I just thought that was a nice extra touch.

Cumulative page total = 49,749

Nov 13, 10:12pm Top

149. The Value of Nothing / Raj Patel
4 stars
194 pages

This book looks at why things cost what they do. The author, mostly, does a decent job with examples to explain what he’s trying to explain, but much of the actual economics/finance discussion went over my head. He really tried to “dumb it down”, and it’s probably enough for some, but unfortunately, it wasn’t always enough for me. Again, though, his examples were good and made it easier for me to follow. But, economics is just not my interest, so I’m leaving it with an “ok” rating.

Cumulative page total = 49,943

Nov 14, 11:35pm Top

150. A Bridge Too Far / Cornelius Ryan
2 stars
670 pages

This is about Project Market Garden, a battle during WWII in Holland where the Allies were meant to capture some bridges. It didn’t happen.

I feel terrible rating this so low. The only other book I’ve read by this author, I rated 5 stars and have recommended it multiple times (his book on D-Day). I am blaming this on the audio. I think it’s tough subject matter for audio, anyway, so I probably shouldn’t have tried it in this format, but I did. Unfortunately, I found the narrator very monotone, so to be honest, I just missed the majority of what was going on. It didn’t hold my attention, so I wasn’t paying attention. I do not like rating this so low, but given how much of it I “missed”, I just can’t give it a higher rating.

Cumulative page total = 50,613

Today, 12:10am Top

151. The Cat Who Could Read Backwards / Lillian Jackson Braun
3 stars
153 pages

Qwilleran, a reporter, has taken a job writing an art column at a newspaper, though he knows nothing about art. He moves in underneath another art reporter who has a Siamese cat who he says reads the newspaper… backwards. Qwilleran often ends up taking care of the cat, Koko. Some time after Qwilleran has met and interviewed the owner of a local art gallery, that owner is murdered.

Have to admit I was a bit disappointed. I kept wondering where the cat from the title was! He was introduced about 1/3 of the way in to the book. Then, his name (Kao Ko-K-something); sadly, when I want to shorten a long name like that, I tend to use initials – not so good in this instance. The main character, luckily, shortened it to Koko, but every time I saw the name written out entirely, my head went to KKK. Then, the murder didn’t happen until ½ way through the book. By then, I was also questioning whether or not this was actually a mystery of some type! Anyway, I thought it took too long to get going. Once the murder finally happened, it got a bit more interesting, but I’m going to leave it as “ok” and I don’t have current plans to continue the series.

Cumulative page total = 50,766

Today, 12:10am Top

Additional, originally unplanned, book added in for this month:

The Clan of the Cave Bear / Jean ...


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