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Chatterbox Reads and Reads and Reads in 2018... Part the First

75 Books Challenge for 2018

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Edited: Jan 1, 1:29pm Top

As the headline hints -- I read. A lot. But as my moniker suggests, I'm always happy to chat about what I'm reading, what you're reading, or what is happening in the book world. Or even in the broader world! I kind of like to think of my thread as what my ideal literary salon would be, if I could ever aspire to have one, and if I could ever imagine reposing gracefully on a chaise longue while presiding over it (without laughing hysterically at the image I'd present).

In any event: for those of you who don't already know me... I'm Suzanne, a rapidly aging freelance journalist/editor/writer/whatever, in my 50s, dividing my time between my home base in Providence, Rhode Island, and my former home in NYC. The former, I share with three cats: Molly-cat, age 15; Cassie, aged 13, and Sir Fergus the Fat (aka the butterball-cat, or the Kliban cat), aged 5. Molly and Cassie tolerate each other. Cassie and Fergus loathe each other. It's tremendously amusing to watch Fergus pretend Cassie is invisible and to move at a rate of an inch every second as he tries to slip past where she is sitting. Of course, he is double her size, and she is frail (inflammatory bowel disease), so when he does get closer and stares up at her in passive-aggressive fashion, warfare ensues. Re my human family: My mother, brother, sister-in-law and their three children (my 14-year-old nephew, Connor, seems likely to rival me as a bibliomaniac) live in Canada; my father recently decamped for Mexico.

To take my mind off the fact that there isn't enough freelance work out there these days (I recently got offered compensation in the form of a yet-to-be-issued digital currency that appears to be only valid if I want to be cannabis products from Colorado, in exchange for some articles and the editor was huffy that I didn't accept it), I read. I'm lucky that I have lots of sources of advance review copies, which cuts my book costs down. I also belong to the Providence Athenaeum, which is happy to buy books that I request for me to read. *Grin* I try not to take too much advantage of them...

It's my ninth year here, and I just figured out that 2017 was a precisely average year for me. Which means that I read 430 books, and over the last 8 years, since I began actually tracking my reading, the average has been 430.8 books. Which is rather eerie.

My tastes are eclectic. I read a lot of non-fiction, ranging from history to current affairs; some accessible popular science to philosophy. I am a big fan of mysteries, as long as they add great characters to the mix. I still read chick lit as lighter fare, and my fiction reading runs the gamut from Very Serious and Intense Works to the novels of the day -- whatever crosses my path that piques my interest. I also enjoy revisiting books that I love. The sole legacy of my most recent ex-bf in my life is my newfound interest in audiobooks, which are great to listen to when I'm doing chores, knitting, traveling or when I'm coping with a migraine and just cannot face black dots on a page. I'm a bit obsessive, and will have several books on the go at once: at least one serious non-fiction book, an audiobook, and a couple of lighter reads. Ultimately, I look for a book in which I can completely immerse myself, but I'm agnostic as to its source: A great read can be found anywhere. That said, I remain wary of the insta-classics, and often it will take me a year or more to get around to reading some of the "hot" books everyone's talking about now. (Though I DID read Lincoln in the Bardo last year...)

For the third year in a row, I'm hosting a non-fiction reading "challenge" -- light on the challenge, since the goal (from my POV) is really just to give people a forum to encourage each other to read more nonfiction, introduce them to new authors and books, and share thoughts about what they're reading. Come and join the fun -- once again, we are starting the new year by reading prizewinning works of non-fiction, and in February we'll move on to a new theme.

The only "rules" of the road for this thread: please treat each other and everyone else's views with courtesy and thoughtfulness. If someone annoys you, don't make a drama out of it here, please; take it offline. This isn't Facebook. Let's focus on what we share and enjoy, please. There's plenty of room for the other stuff.

Edited: Jan 1, 1:20pm Top

I start every thread with a poem, and since we're in the midst of a Deep Frost, I can't get my mind off wintry poems. Here's one I like, by Mary Oliver:


In winter
all the singing is in
the tops of the trees
where the wind-bird

with its white eyes
shoves and pushes
among the branches.
Like any of us

he wants to go to sleep,
but he's restless—
he has an idea,
and slowly it unfolds

from under his beating wings
as long as he stays awake.
But his big, round music, after all,
is too breathy to last.

So, it's over.
In the pine-crown
he makes his nest,
he's done all he can.

I don't know the name of this bird,
I only imagine his glittering beak
tucked in a white wing
while the clouds—

which he has summoned
from the north—
which he has taught
to be mild, and silent—

thicken, and begin to fall
into the world below
like stars, or the feathers
of some unimaginable bird

that loves us,
that is asleep now, and silent—
that has turned itself
into snow.

Edited: Mar 10, 9:50pm Top

I always read far more than 75 books a year and so just keep a single ticker to track my total reading. I'll start new threads when the total number of posts hits between 250 and 300. I will try to keep the list current but last year, keeping up with mini-reviews of the books I read, with capsule comments, defeated me. Here we are, January 1, and I still have about two dozen to write!!

This year I'm setting my goal at my 8-year average, 430 books. We'll see...

If you want to see what I have been reading in real time, your best bet is to go to my library on LT, and look at the dedicated collection I've established there, under the label "Books Read in 2018". As I complete a book, I'll rate it and add it to the list. I'll also tag it, "Read in 2018". You'll be able to see it by either searching under that tag, or clicking on https://www.librarything.com/catalog/Chatterbox/booksreadin2018.

My TBR mountain no less out of control. Last year, for every book that I read, I acquired two. That's actually a better ratio than I anticipated -- but not all of the books I read were those that I acquired, of course. Sigh. Still, I paid full price for only 16%! The rest were free galleys/advance review copies or Kindle sale books ($1.99 or so), or books bought using money from Apple's settlement with Kindle -- I got some MORE Kindle credit. So I can console myself that I actually didn't spend that much. But the book stalagmites continue to grow around the house, with all the ARCs (advance review copies) that remain unread! And I have bags of ARCs and other books that I set aside for last May's yard sale that remain unsold... Clearly, one project this year will be another purge of my shelves. I become more ruthless as I age.

I do have some reading objectives -- I refuse to call them challenges or targets or anything else -- ranging from specific books to themes and even authors I plan to re-read. I'll note those down in the coming posts.

My guide to my ratings:

1.5 or less: A tree gave its life so that this book could be printed and distributed?
1.5 to 2.7: Are you really prepared to give up hours of your life for this?? I wouldn't recommend doing so...
2.8 to 3.3: Do you need something to fill in some time waiting to see the dentist? Either reasonably good within a ho-hum genre (chick lit or thrillers), something that's OK to read when you've nothing else with you, or that you'll find adequate to pass the time and forget later on.
3.4 to 3.8: Want to know what a thumping good read is like, or a book that has a fascinating premise, but doesn't quite deliver? This is where you'll find 'em.
3.9 to 4.4: So, you want a hearty endorsement? These books have what it takes to make me happy I read them.
4.5 to 5: The books that I wish I hadn't read yet, so I could experience the joy of discovering them again for the first time. Sometimes disquieting, sometimes sentimental faves, sometimes dramatic -- they are a highly personal/subjective collection!

The list starts here...

The January list:

1. The Feast of Artemis by Anne Zouroudi (finished 1/2/18) 3.7 stars
2. *Children of Chance by Elizabeth Pewsey (finished 1/3/18) 4 stars (A)
3. Admissions: Life as a Brain Surgeon by Henry Marsh (finished 1/5/18) 3.8 stars
4. *Divine Comedy by Elizabeth Pewsey (finished (1/6/18) 4 stars (A)
5. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff (finished 1/7/18) 4.3 stars
6. Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin (finished 1/7/18) 5 stars
7. Travelers in the Third Reich: The Rise of Fascism: 1919-1945 by Julia Boyd (finished 1/9/18) 4.3 stars
8. Maid of the King's Court by Lucy Worsley (finished 1/9/18) 2.75 stars
9. The Radicals by Ryan McIlvain (finished 1/10/18) 4.2 stars
10. Love in Idleness by Amanda Craig (finished 1/10/18) 3.7 stars
11. *Unholy Harmonies by Elizabeth Pewsey (finished 1/11/18) 4 stars (A)
12. The Black Hand by Will Thomas (finished 1/12/18) 3.7 stars
13. The Way of the Writer: Reflections on the Art and Craft of Storytelling by Charles Johnson (finished 1/12/18) 4.1 stars
14. The Necessary Angel by C.K. Stead (finished 1/13/18) 4.2 stars
15. The Spy Across the Table by Barry Lancet (finished 1/14/18) 3.9 stars
16. Thale's Folly by Dorothy Gilman (finished 1/15/18) 3 stars (A)
17. *Volcanic Airs by Elizabeth Pewsey (finished 1/16/18) 3.9 stars (A)
18. The Last Hours by Minette Walters (finished 1/16/18) 4 stars
19. Death Comes to Lynchester Close by David Dickinson (finished 1/17/18) 3.7 stars
20. Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann (finished 1/18/18) 4.45 stars
21. *Unaccustomed Spirits by Elizabeth Pewsey (finished 1/19/18) 4.1 stars (A)
22. Blue Madonna by James R. Benn (finished 1/20/18) 4 stars (A)
23. The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy (finished 1/20/18) 2.5 stars
24. Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic by David Frum (finished 1/21/18) 5 stars (A)
25. The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (finished 1/22/18) 4.4 stars
26. The Templars' Last Secret by Martin Walker (finished 1/22/18) 4 stars
27. The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler (finished 1/23/18) 4.5 stars
28. *Brotherly Love by Elizabeth Pewsey (finished 1/23/18) 4 stars (A)
29. The Girl on the Velvet Swing: Sex, Murder, and Madness at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century by Simon Baatz (finished 1/24/18) 4.15 stars
30. The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash (finished 1/25/18) 4.2 stars
31. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy (finished 1/26/18) 4.3 stars
32. *Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey (finished 1/27/18) 4.5 stars (A)
33. *The Old Man by Thomas Perry (finished 1/28/18) 3.7 stars (A)
34. The Third Victim by Phillip Margolin (finished 1/29/18) 3.4 stars
35. Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Golden Samovar by Olga Wjotas (finished 1/29/18) 3.85 stars
36. Hitler, My Neighbor: Memories of a Jewish Childhood, 1929-1939 by Edgar Feuchtwanger (finished 1/30/18) 4 stars
37. The Hound in the Left-Hand Corner by Giles Waterfield (finished 1/30/18) 4.3 stars
38. The Penalty Area by Alain Grillot (finished 1/31/18) 4.1 stars
39. The Judge Hunter by Christopher Buckley (finished 1/31/18) 4.2 stars

The February List:

40. Fatal Enquiry by Will Thomas (finished 2/1/18) 3.85 stars
41. The Take by Christopher Reich (finished 2/3/18) 3.8 stars
42. Coming Home to Island House by Erica James (finished 2/4/18) 3.3 stars
43. The Wife by Alafair Burke (finished 2/4/18) 4.15 stars (A)
44. *The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey (finished 2/5/18) 4.8 stars (A)
45. Death in St. Petersburg by Tasha Alexander (finished 2/6/18) 3.7 stars
46. Twenty-One Days by Anne Perry (finished 2/6/18) 4.1 stars
47. Only Child by Rhiannon Navin (finished 2/8/18) 4.2 stars
48. Two Sisters: A Father, His Daughters, and Their Journey into the Syrian Jihad by Asne Seierstad (finished 2/10/18) 4.2 stars
49. The Rooster Bar by John Grisham (finished 2/13/18) 3.5 stars (A)
50. How to Stop Time by Matt Haig (finished 2/14/18) 4.3 stars
51. Year One by Nora Roberts (finished 2/15/18) 3.45 stars
52. Republican Like Me by Ken Stern (finished 2/16/18) 4.35 stars
53. Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell (finished 2/17/18) 4 stars
54. A Death in Live Oak by James Grippando (finished 2/18/18) 4.2 stars (A)
55. The Storied City: The Quest for Timbuktu and the Fantastic Mission to Save Its Past by Charlie English (finished 2/18/18) 4.4 stars
56. Faith Fox by Jane Gardam (finished 2/19/18) 4 stars
57. Queens of the Conquest by Alison Weir (finished 2/20/18) 3.1 stars (A)
58. Circe by Madeline Miller (finished 2/21/18) 5 stars
59. Most Dangerous Place by James Grippando (finished 2/21/18) 3.85 stars (A)
60. The King's Witch by Tracy Borman (finished 2/23/18) 4.2 stars
61. Anatomy of Evil by Will Thomas (finished 2/24/18) 3.9 stars
62. Oriana Fallaci: The Journalist, the Agitator, the Legend by Cristina De Stefano (finished 2/24/18) 3.25 stars
63. The French Girl by Lexie Elliott (finished 2/25/18) 4.1 stars
64. *Katherine of Aragon: the True Queen by Alison Weir (finished 2/26/18) 4.1 stars (A)
65. Hell Bay by Will Thomas (finished 2/26/18) 3.65 stars
66. Futureface: A Family Mystery, an Epic Quest, and the Secret to Belonging by Alex Wagner (finished 2/27/18) 4.65 stars
67. A Crime in the Family: A World War II Secret Buried in Silence--And My Search for the Truth by Sacha Batthyany (finished 2/27/18) 3.85 stars (A) in part
68. Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce (finished 2/28/18) 4.2 stars
69. The Revolution of the Moon by Andrea Camilleri (finished 2/28/18) 4.25 stars

The March list:

70. *Anne Boleyn: A King's Obsession by Alison Weir (finished 3/1/18) 4.15 stars (A)
71. Jane Seymour, The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir (finished 3/2/18) 4 stars
72. Manon Lescaut by the Abbé Prévost (finished 3/2/18) 3.85 stars
73. First Night by Jane Aiken Hodge (finished 3/3/18) 3.45 stars
74. An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic by Daniel Mendelsohn (finished 3/4/18) 5 stars (A) in part
75. *Fidelity by Thomas Perry (finished 3/4/18) 3.4 stars (A)
76. *The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey (finished 3/5/18) 5 stars (A)
77. Last Act by Jane Aiken Hodge (finished 3/5/18) 3.3 stars
78. Ike and Kay by James MacManus (finished 3/6/18) 2.7 stars
79. The Last Man in Europe by Dennis Glover (finished 3/7/18) 4.5 stars
80. Beau Death by Peter Lovesey (finished 3/8/18) 4.15 stars (A) (mostly)
81. The House of Hopes and Dreams by Trisha Ashley (finished 3/9/18) 3.8 stars
82. *Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (finished 3/10/18) 5 stars
83. The Birdwatcher by William Shaw (finished 3/10/18) 4.35 stars

* Re-Reads
(A) Audiobook

Edited: Mar 10, 9:51pm Top

As I mentioned above, I do have some reading goals/objectives. I don't want to call them targets, because they are purely aspirational -- I will not be heartbroken or feel that I have failed if I fail to check off every book on these lists! It simply means that I found something else that grabbed my attention more insistently, and that I felt I needed to read more urgently. Or that the book that I planned to read simply wasn't worth my time or energy and I stalled reading it for now.

Overarching goals:

* To read more by Virginia Woolf, from her essays to her novels

* To read Paul Theroux’s travel books

* To Finish up some mystery series that I’ve started and stalled on; start reading Robinson’s “Inspector Banks” mysteries, Ian Hamilton’s “Ava Lee” books, combining a re-read of Ngaio Marsh/Agatha Christie and Margery Allingham with a read of books by them that I’d never encountered.

* To direct a lot of reading to the US Revolutionary War and the French Revolution, and related characters

* To read more short stories, with particular attention to Alice Munro and Mavis Gallant

My re-reading plans: Michael Gilbert’s mysteries; mystery series by Staynes & Storey, aka “Susannah Stacey” (long out of print, alas… published 1987-1998), books by Laurie Colwin, listening to the Mountjoy novels by Elizabeth Pewsey on audiobook, and re-reading more of Patricia Wentworth’s “Miss Silver” mysteries as and when the mood strikes me. Finishing up my re-reading of Georgette Heyer novels.

Books in French

L’homme qui regardait la nuit by Gilbert Sinoue
L’art de perdre by Alice Zeniter
Un aller simple by Didier van Cauwelaart
La vie des elfes by Muriel Barbery
Le cuisinier de Talleyrand by Jean-Christophe Duchon-Doris
Merveilleuses by Catherine Hermary-Vieille
Le tour du monde du roi Zibelline by Jean-Christophe Rufin
Les enfants d’Alexandrie by Francoise Chandernagor
Retour indésirable by Charles Lewinsky
Le dernier des nôtres by Adelaide Clermont-Tonnerre
Les mots du passé by Jean-Michel Denis

Tower of ARCs

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Tangerine by Christine Mangan
Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss
The Maze at Windermere by Gregory Blake Smith
Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane
Feast of Sorrow by Crystal King
The Idiot by Elif Batuman
The Leavers by Lisa Ko
Paris in the Present Tense by Mark Helprin
The Revolution of Marina M by Janet Fitch
The Quantum Spy by David Ignatius
A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar by Suzanne Joinson
The Hot Country by Robert Olen Butler
The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook
A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger
An Italian Wife by Ann Hood
West of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan
The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Canadian Content

The Lonely Hearts Hotel – Heather O’Neill
Creation by Katherine Govier
Solomon Gursky Was Here by Mordecai Richler
The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis
The Diviners by Margaret Laurence
Barometer Rising by Hugh Maclennan
The Colony of Unrequited Dreams by Wayne Johnston
Warlight by Michael Ondaatje
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
The Rebel Angels by Robertson Davies
The Break by Katherena Vermette
The Only Café by Linden MacIntyre


Kim by Rudyard Kipling
Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
The Three Musketeers by Dumas
The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Edited: Mar 10, 9:56pm Top


The Soldier’s Curse by Tom & Meg Keneally
The Cutting Season by Attica Locke
The Lost Pages by Marija Percic
When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro
Boomsday by Christopher Buckley Read
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdich
The Chosen Ones by Steve Sem-Sandberg
The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes
My October by Claire Holden Rothman

Neglected NetGalley Offerings...

The Melody by Jim Crace
Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella
The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers
Gateway to the Moon by Mary Morris
The Bookworm by Mitch Silver
The Vineyard by Maria Duenas
The Spy Across the Table by Barry Lancet Read
The Radicals by Ryan McIlvain Read
Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig
Enchantress of Numbers by Jennifer Chiaverini
The Sparsholt Affair by Alan Hollinghurst
The Parking Lot Attendant by Nafkote Tamirat
Radio Free Vermont by Bill McKibben
The Prague Sonata by Bradford Morrow
Macbeth by Jo Nesbo

Mystery Mania

The Birdwatcher by William Shaw Read
The Long Drop by Denise Mina
The Appraisal by Anna Porter
Amnesia by Michael Ridpath
Weycombe by G.M. Malliet
Displaced by Stephen Abarbanell
The Dry by Jane Harper
Season of Darkness by Maureen Jennings
From the Charred Remains by Susanna Calkins
A Death at Fountains Abbey by Antonia Hodgson
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
Runaway by Peter May
The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor
Soul Cage by Tetsuya Honda

New to Me

The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash Read
The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson
The Spectator Bird by Wallace Stegner
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin . Read

Climbing Mt. TBR

Barkskins by Annie Proulx
Hunters & Collectors by M. Suddain
From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
The Standard Grand by Jay Baron Nicorvo
The Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer
The Potter’s Hand by A.N. Wilson
Moskva by Jack Grimwood
The Lubetkin Legacy by Marina Lewycka
Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

Edited: Mar 10, 10:05pm Top

The Wonderful World of Nonfiction

The Unruly City: Paris London and New York in the Age of Revolution by Mike Rappaport
Be Like the Fox by Erica Benner
The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn by Margaret Willes
Left Bank: Art, Passion and the Rebirth of Paris by Agnes Poirier
A Crime in the Family: A World War II Secret Buried in Silence – and My Search for the Truth by Sacha Batthyany Read
Hue 1968 by Mark Bowden
Oriana Fallaci by Cristina de Stefano Read
A World Ablaze: the Rise of Martin Luther and the Birth of the Reformation by Craig Harline
True Gentlemen: the Broken Pledge of America’s Fraternities by John Hechinger
Nothing is True and Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev
The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve by Stephen Greenblatt
Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire by Kurt Anderson
Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities by Paul Bettany
The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World by Maya Jasanoff
A Flag Worth Dying For: the Power and Politics of National Symbols by Tim Marshall
Patriot Number One: American Dreams in Chinatown by Lauren Hilgers
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann Read
Videocracy: How YouTube is Changing the Internet by Kevin Allocca
Daughters of the Winter Queen by Nancy Goldstone
Notes on a Foreign Country: An American Abroad in in a Post American World by Suzy Hansen
The Geography of Genius by Eric Weiner
Paper: Paging Through History by Mark Kurlansky
How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds by Alan Jacobs
Testosterone Rex by Cordelia Fine
Leningrad: Siege and Symphony by Bryan Moynahan
The World Broke in Two by Bill Goldstein
Making the Monster: the Science Behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein by Kathryn Harkup
The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexeivech
The Woman Who Would Be King by Kara Cooney

Around the World (Kinda) in 33 Books

This Earth of Mankind by Pramoedya Ananta Toer (Indonesia)
Inheritance From Mother – Minae Mizumura – (Japan)
More by Hakan Gunday (Turkey)
Time Ages in a Hurry by Antonio Tabucchi (Italy)
Three Floors Up by Eshkol Nevo (Israel)
First Person by Richard Flanagan (Australia)
Katalin Street by Magda Szabo (Hungary)
I Hear Your Voice by Young-ha Kim (S. Korea)
The Woman on the Stairs by Bernhard Schlink (Germany)
The Summer Book by Tove Jansson (Finland)
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi (Ghana)
Song for an Approaching Storm by Peter Froeberg Idling (Norway)
The Man Who Snapped His Fingers by Fariba Hachtroudi (Iran)
Measuring Time by Helon Habila (Nigeria)
Skylight by Jose Saramagao (Portugal)
The Penalty Area by Alain Grillot (France) Read
The Necessary Angel by C.K. Stead (New Zealand) Read
The Widow Killer by Pavel Kohut (Czech Republic)
The Scapegoat by Sophia Nikolaidu (Greece-US)
A House for Mr. Biswas by VS Naipaul (Trinidad-UK)
The Life and Times of Michael K. by J.M. Coetzee (South Africa)
Azazeel by Youssef Ziedan (Egypt)
Like a Fading Shadow by Antonio Munoz Molino (Spain)
Salt Houses by Hala Alyan (Palestine)
The Gardener From Ochakov by Andrey Kurkov (Ukraine)
The Heather Blazing by Colm Toibin (Ireland)
The Dream Life of Sukhanov by Olga Grushin (Russia)
Music of the Ghosts by Vaddey Ratner (Cambodia)
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy (India) Read
Fish Have No Feet by Jon Kalman Stefansson (Iceland)
Explosion Chronicles by Yan Lianke (China)
The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler (Austrla) Read
The Same Night Awaits Us All by Hristo Karastoyanov (Bulgaria)

Edited: Mar 10, 10:19pm Top

Books Purchased Or Otherwise Permanently Acquired 2018
Part I

1. Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World by Laura Spinney (Kindle Sale, $) 1/1/18
2. The Walworth Beauty by Michele Roberts (UK Kindle sale, $) 1/1/18
3. Vindolanda by Adrian Goldsworthy (UK Kindle sale, $) 1/1/18
4. Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay (Kindle sale, $) 1/2/18
5. Find You in the Dark by Nathan Ripley (NetGalley) 1/2/18
6. Alternative Remedies for Loss by Joanna Cantor (NetGalley) 1/2/18
7. Demi-Gods by Eliza Robertson (NetGalley) 1/2/18
8. The Queen's Embroiderer: A True Story of Paris, Lovers, Swindlers, and the First Stock Market Crisis by Joan DeJean (NetGalley) 1/2/18
9. Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do About It by Richard V. Reeves (NetGalley) 1/2/18
10. The Bad Daughter by Joy Fielding (NetGalley) 1/2/18
11. The Necessary Angel by C.K. Stead (Gift) 1/2/18 read
12. All the Names They Used For God by Anjali Sachdeva (NetGalley) 1/2/18
13. Maid of the King's Court by Lucy Worsley (Kindle, gift certificate) 1/2/18 read
14. Like a Fading Shadow by Antonio Muñoz Molina (Kindle, gift certificate) 1/2/18
15. Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap? by Graham Allison (NetGalley) 1/3/18
16. Mr. Flood's Last Resort by Jess Kidd (NetGalley) 1/3/18
17. Force of Nature by Jane Harper (NetGalley) 1/3/18
18. Travelers in the Third Reich: The Rise of Fascism: 1919-1945 by Julia Boyd (Edelweiss e-galley) 1/3/18 read
19. The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman (NetGalley) 1/3/18
20. There There by Tommy Orange (NetGalley from Publisher) 1/5/18
21. The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir (NetGalley from Publisher) 1/5/18
22. A Taste for Vengeance by Martin Walker (NetGalley from Publisher) 1/5/18
23. Good Trouble: Stories by Joseph O'Neill (NetGalley from Publisher) 1/5/18
24. The Common Good by Robert Reich (NetGalley from Publisher) 1/5/18
25. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff (Kindle, $$) 1/6/18 read
26. Pursuit of a Parcel by Patricia Wentworth (Kindle, $$) 1/6/18
27. The Ocean Liner by Marius Gabriel (NetGalley) 1/8/18
28. Paris Still Life by Rosalind Brackenbury (NetGalley) 1/8/18
29. The War on Normal People: The Truth About America's Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income Is Our Future by Andrew Yang (NetGalley) 1/8/18
30. Blown by Mark Haskell Smith (NetGalley) 1/8/18
31. Do We Need Economic Inequality? (The Future of Capitalism) by Danny Dorling (Amazon Vine ARC) 1/9/18
32. I'll Stay by Karen Day (Amazon Vine ARC) 1/9/18
33. Gun Love by Jennifer Clement (Amazon Vine ARC) 1/9/18
34. Barbed Wire Heart by Tess Sharpe (NetGalley) 1/9/18
35. Limelight by Amy Poeppel (NetGalley) 1/9/18
36. My Name is Nobody by Matthew Richardson (UK Kindle, $$) 1/9/18
37. The Principle by Jérôme Ferrari (Kindle, gift certificate) 1/10/18
38. Love in Idleness by Amanda Craig (Kindle, gift certificate) 1/10/18 read
39. Exhibit Alexandra by Natasha Bell (NetGalley) 1/10/18
40. Star of the North by D.B. John (NetGalley) 1/10/18
41. Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics Is Destroying American Democracy by Jonah Goldberg (NetGalley) 1/10/18
42. The Third Victim by Phillip Margolin (NetGalley) 1/10/18 read
43. Coming Home to Island House by Erica James (UK Kindle, $$) 1/11/18 read
44. I'll Keep You Safe by Peter May (UK Kindle, $$) 1/11/18
45. Circe by Madeline Miller (NetGalley) 1/11/18
46. The Verdun Affair by Nick Dybek (NetGalley) 1/11/18
47. Death Comes to Lynchester Close by David Dickinson (UK Kindle, $$) 1/13/18 read
48. Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker (UK Kindle, sale $) 1/14/18
49. Collected Stores by Bernard MacLaverty (UK kindle, Sale, $) 1/14/18
50. The Lake District Murder by John Bude (UK kindle, sale, $) 1/14/18
51. Un aller simple by Didier van Cauwelaert (UK Kindle, $$) 1/14/18
52. Les cinq quartiers de la lune by Gilbert Sinoue (Kindle, $$) 1/14/18
53. Le dernier des notres by Adelaide de Clermont-Tonnerre (UK Kindle, $$) 1/14/18
54. A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn (UK Kindle, sale, $) 1/14/18
55. The Killing Site by Caro Peacock (NetGalley) 1/14/18
56. Second Wind: A Sunfish Sailor, an Island, and the Voyage That Brought a Family Together by Nathaniel Philbrick (NetGalley) 1/16/18
57. Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic by David Frum (Audiobook; $$) 1/16/18 . read
58. Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce (NetGalley) 1/17/18 read
59. Nothing is Forgotten by Peter Golden (NetGalley) 1/20/18
60. On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder (gift) 1/20/18
61. What Is Russia Up To in the Middle East? by Dmitri Trenin (Amazon Vine ARC) 1/20/18
62. The Song of the Kings by Barry Unsworth (Amazon Vine ARC) 1/22/18
63. Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan (Amazon Vine ARC) 1/22/18
64. Eden Gardens by Louise Brown (Amazon Vine ARC) 1/22/18
65. The City Where We Once Lived by Eric Barnes (Amazon Vine ARC) 1/22/18
66. The Stranger in My Home by Adele Parks (Amazon Vine ARC) 1/23/18
67. History Teaches Us to Resist: How Progressive Movements Have Succeeded in Challenging Times by Mary Frances Berry (Amazon Vine ARC) 1/23/18
68. The Dragon Queen by William Andrews (NetGalley) 1/23/18
69. The Storm by Arif Anwar (NetGalley) 1/24/18
70. The Only Café by Linden Macintyre (Kindle, gift certificate) 1/24/18
71. The Ghost Notebooks by Ben Dolnick (hardcover, from publisher) 1/24/18
72. Ritz and Escoffier: The Hotelier, The Chef, and the Rise of the Leisure Class by Luke Barr (Amazon Vine ARC) 1/24/18
73. Seven Days in Summer by Marcia Willett (UK Kindle, sale, $) 1/25/18
74. The History Thieves: Secrets, Lies and the Shaping of a Modern Nation by Iain Cobain (UK Kindle sale, $) 1/25/18
75. Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Golden Samovar by Olga Wjotas (UK Kindle, $$) 1/25/18 read
76. Eagle & Crane by Suzanne Rindell (NetGalley) 1/25/18
77. Twenty-one Days: A Daniel Pitt Novel by Anne Perry (Amazon Vine ARC) 1/25/18 read
78. The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton (NetGalley) 1/25/18
79. Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordano (Amazon Vine ARC) 1/27/18
80. Anatomy of a Miracle by Jonathan Miles (Amazon Vine ARC) 1/27/18
81. Bay of Secrets by Rosanna Ley (Amazon Vine ARC) 1/27/18
82. The Judge Hunter by Christopher Buckley (NetGalley) 1/29/18 Read
83. In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin (UK Kindle, sale, $) 1/30/18
84. Coffin, Scarcely Used by Colin Watson (NetGalley) 1/30/18
85. The Same Night Awaits Us All by Hristo Karastoyanov (ARC from publisher) 1/30/18
86. There Are No Dead Here: A Story of Murder and Denial in Colombia by Maria Mcfarland Sánchez-moreno (Amazon Vine ARC) 1/30/18
87. 1947: Where Now Begins by Elisabeth Åsbrink (Kindle, gift certificate) 1/31/18
88. Lullaby Road by James Anderson (Amazon Vine ARC) 1/31/18
89. Timekeepers: How the World Became Obsessed With Time by Simon Garfield (NetGalley) 2/2/18
90. Sal by Mick Kitson (NetGalley) 2/2/18
91. What Would Virginia Woolf Do?: And Other Questions I Ask Myself as I Attempt to Age Without Apology by Nina Lorez Collins (Amazon Vine ARC) 2/2/18
92. The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America by Timothy Snyder (NetGalley) 2/3/18
93. Invitation to a Bonfire by Adrienne Celt (NetGalley) 2/3/18
94. Milk!: A 10,000-Year Food Fracas by Mark Kurlansky (NetGalley) 2/3/18
95. The Rooster Bar by John Grisham (Audiobook, $$) 2/4/18)
96. The Wife by Alafair Burke (Audiobook, $$) 2/3/18 Read
97. Faking Friends by Jane Fallon (Audiobook, $$) 2/4/18
98. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (UK Kindle, sale, $) 2/3/18
99. Righteous by Joe Ide (Kindle sale, $) 2/4/18
100. Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica (Kindle sale, $) 2/4/18
101. Two Sisters: A Father, His Daughters, and Their Journey into the Syrian Jihad by Asne Seierstad (NetGalley) 2/6/18 Read
102. The Romanov Empress by C.W. Gortner (NetGalley) 2/6/18
103. A Death in Live Oak by Jack Grippando (Audiobook, $$) 2/6/18 Read
104. Orchid and the Wasp by Caollin Hughes (NetGalley) 2/6/18
105. The Winter Station by Jody Shields (NetGalley) 2/11/18
106. Lady be Good by Amber Brock (NetGalley) 2/11/18
107. Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer by Barbara Ehrenreich (NetGalley) 2/11/18
108. Upstate by James Wood (NetGalley) 2/13/18
109. Just a Breath Away by Carlene Thompson (NetGalley) 2/15/18
110. The Reluctant Assassin by Fiona Buckley (NetGalley) 2/15/18
111. The Girl in the Woods by Patricia MacDonald (NetGalley) 2/15/18
112. The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics by Salena Zito (Amazon Vine ARC) 2/15/18
113. Futureface: A Family Mystery, an Epic Quest, and the Secret to Belonging by Alex Wagner (Amazon Vine ARC) 2/15/18 Read
114. The Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan (UK Kindle, sale, $) 2/15/18
115. Nucleus by Rory Clements (UK Kindle, sale, $) 2/15/18
116. Down the River unto the Sea by Walter Mosley (Amazon Vine ARC) 2/17/18

Edited: Mar 10, 10:20pm Top

Books Purchased Or Otherwise Permanently Acquired 2018
Part II

All books on this list are ARCs acquired from ALA Midwinter in Denver, Feb 9-12

117. The Honey Farm by Harriet Alida Lye
118. All the Beautiful Girls by Elizabeth J. Church
119. Paris Metro by Wendell Steavenson
120. Varina by Charles Frazier
121. The High Season by Judy Blundell
122. The Optimistic Decade by Heather Abel
123. Chicago: a Novel by David Mamet
124. To Die But Once by Jacqueline Winspear
125. 84k by Claire North
126. House Witness by Mike Lawson
127. How it Happened by Michael Koryta
128. Blood & Ivy: The 1849 Murder That Scandalized Harvard by Paul Collins
129. Social Creature by Tara Isabelle Burton
130. How Hard Can It Be? by Allison Pearson
131. Send Down the Rain by Charles Martin
132. A Dangerous Crossing by Ausma Zehanat Khan
133. Fall of Angels by Barbara Cleverly
134. Undiscovered Country by Kelly O'Connor McNees
135. Texas Ranger by James Patterson
136. All That is Left Is All That Matters by Mark Slouka
137. Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York by Stacy Horn
138. April in Paris, 1921 by Tessa Lunney
139. Ike and Kay by James MacManus Read
140. The King's Witch by Tracy Borman Read
141. The Mercy Seat by Elizabeth Winthrop
142. Still Lives by Maria Hummel
143. The Life to Come by Michelle De Kretser
144. Searching for the Amazons: The Real Warrior Women of the Ancient World by John Man
145. Plum Rains by Andromeda Romano-Lax
146. Tyrant by Stephen Greenblatt
147. The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths Read
148. My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan
149. Sharp: The Women Who Made An Art of Having an Opinion by Michelle Dean
150. Summer Hours at the Robbers Library by Sue Halpern
151. The Library: A Catalogue of Wonders by Stuart Kells
152. All the Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson
153. The Overstory by Richard Powers
154. The Wind in My Hair: My Fight for Freedom in Modern Iran by Masih Alinejad
155. Warning Light by David Ricciardi
156. Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India by Shashi Tharoor
157. Impossible Saints by Clarissa Harwood
158. The Real Michael Swann by Bryan Reardon
159. Disappointment River: Finding and Losing the Northwest Passage by Brian Castner
160. The Magnificent Esme Wells by Adrienne Sharp
161. T Singer by Dag Solstad
162. For Two Thousand Years by Mihail Sebastian
163. Eventide by Therese Bohman
164. All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klehfoth
165. Empress: The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan by Ruby Lal
166. Census by Jesse Ball
167. Never Anyone But You by Rupert Thomson
168. The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman
169. The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar
170. Love and Ruin by Paula McLain
171. Midnight Blue by Simone van der Vlugt
172. After Anna by Lisa Scottoline
173. The Lost Family by Jenna Blum
174. The Imam of Tawi-Tawi by Ian Hamilton
175. How to Be Safe by Tom McAllister
176. The Break by Katherena Vermette
177. Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
178. The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll
179. The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner
180. The Last Cowboys: A Pioneer Family in the New West by John Branch
181. Berlin 1936: Sixteen Days in August by Oliver Hilmes
182. The Devil's Reward by Emanuelle de Villepin
183. Other People's Houses by Abbi Waxman
184. The Beekeeper:Rescuing the Stolen Women of Iraq by Dunya Mikhail
185. The Darkling Bride by Laura Andersen
186. No Turning Back: Life, Loss, and Hope in Wartime Syria by Rania Abouzeid
187. Living with Leonardo by Martin Kemp
188. Another Side of Paradise by Sally Koslow
189. Ecstasy: A Novel by Mary Sharratt
190. A Lady's Guide to Selling Out by Sally Franson
191. A Reckoning: A Novel by Linda Spalding
192. The Secrets Between Us by Thrity Umrigar
193. The Elimination: A survivor of the Khmer Rouge confronts his past and the commandant of the killing fields by Rithy Panh
194. Freebird by Jonathan Raymond
195. Providence by Caroline Kepnes
196. Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras
197. To the Edges of the Earth: 1909, the Race for the Three Poles, and the Climax of the Age of Exploration by Edward Larson
198. The Fox Hunt: A Refugee’s Memoir of Coming to America by Mohammed Al Samawi
199. Jane and Dorothy: A True Tale of Sense and Sensibility:The Lives of Jane Austen and Dorothy Wordsworth by Marian Veevers
200. The Spy of Venice by Benet Brandreth
201. A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
202. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World by Steve Brusette
203. The Dependents by Katharine Dion
204. The Husband Hour by Jamie Brenner
205. Cave of Bones by Anne Hillerman
206. Property: Stories Between Two Novellas by Lionel Shriver
207. Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
208. The Island that Disappeared: The Lost History of the Mayflower's Sister Ship and Its Rival Puritan Colony by Tom Feiling
209. Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao
210. Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh
211. When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors
212. Every Note Played by Lisa Genova
213. You Think It, I'll Say It: Stories by Curtis Sittenfeld
214. The Hush by John Hart
215. The Away Game: The Epic Search for Soccer's Next Superstars by Sebastian Abbot
216. No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert
217. The Ensemble by Aja Gabel
218. The Great Stain: Witnessing American Slavery by Noel Rae
219. Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley
220. This is What Happened by Mick Herron
221. Wicked River by Jenny Milchman
222. How to Stop Time by Matt Haig Read
223. The Dark Clouds Shining by David Downing
224. Southernmost by Silas House
225. Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent
226. Campaign Widows by Aimee Agresti
227. A Million Drops by Victor del Arbol
228. My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray
229. The Little Clan by Iris Martin Cohen
230. The Cactus by Sarah Haywood
231. Look Alive Out There: Essays by Sloane Crosley
232. Furyborn by Claire Legrand
233. Kill the Farm Boy by Kevin Hearne
234. Traitor by Jonathan de Shalit

Edited: Mar 10, 10:37pm Top

Books Purchased Or Otherwise Permanently Acquired 2018
Part III

235. You Are Dead by Peter James (UK Kindle, sale, $) 2/19/18
236. An Argumentation of Historians by Jodi Taylor (Edelweiss e-galley/ARC) 2/19/18
237. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula LeGuin (paperback, $$) 2/21/18
238. Beloved by Toni Morrison (paperback, $$) 2/21/18
239. Light in August by William Faulkener (paperback, $$) 2/21/18
240. Go: A Coming of Age Novel by Kazuki Kaneshiro (Kindle First freebie) 2/21/18
241. The Wildflowers by Harriet Evans (UK Kindle, sale, $) 2/21/18
242. An Unsuitable Match by Joanna Trollope (UK Kindle, $$) 2/21/18
243. The Kremlin's Candidate by Jason Matthews (Kindle, $$) 2/22/18
244. Red Gold by Alan Furst (Kindle Sale, $) 2/22/18
245. The Middleman by Olen Steinhauer (NetGalley) 2/22/18
246. Blood Moon: An American Epic of War and Splendor in the Cherokee Nation by John Sedgwick (NetGalley) 2/22/18
247. Wallis in Love by Andrew Morton (NetGalley) 2/23/18
248. The Red Hand of Fury by R.N. Morris (NetGalley) 2/23/18
249. The Escape Artist by Brad Meltzer (Amazon Vine ARC) 2/23/18
250. A Crime in the Family by Sacha Batthyany (Audiobook, $$) 2/23/18 Read
251. East of Eden by John Steinbeck (UK Kindle, sale, $) 2/25/18
252. Cannery Row by John Steinbeck (UK Kindle, sale, $) 2/25/18
253. The French Girl by Lexie Elliott (Amazon Vine ARC) 2/25/18 (actually earlier, but not logged) Read
254. Paper Ghosts by Julia Heaberlin (Amazon Vine ARC) 2/25/18
255. The Swordfish and the Star: Life on Cornwall's most treacherous stretch of coast by Gavin Knight (UK Kindle, sale, $) 2/25/18
256. The Chains of Heaven: An Ethiopian Romance by Phillip Marsden (UK Kindle, $$) 2/25/18
257. Levelling Sea: The Story of a Cornish Haven and the Age of Sail by Philip Marsden (UK Kindle, sale, $) 2/25/18
258. Measuring Time by Helon Habila (UK Kindle, $$) 2/25/18
259. Islander: A Journey Around Our Archipelago by Patrick Barkham (UK Kindle, $$) 2/25/18
260. A Country Escape by Katie Fforde (UK Kindle, $$) 2/25/18
261. The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai (NetGalley, from Publisher) 2/25/18
262. No Good Alternative: Volume Two of Carbon Ideologies by William Vollman (NetGalley, from Publisher) 2/25/18)
263. The Gardener From Ochakov by Andrey Kurkov (UK Kindle, sale, $) 2/26/18
264. After Hannibal by Barry Unsworth (Kindle, $$) 2/26/18
265. Denmark Vesey’s Garden: Slavery and Memory in the Cradle of the Confederacy by Ethan J. Kytle (Amazon Vine ARC) 2/26/18
266. Death of a Novice by Cora Harrison (NetGalley) 2/26/18
267. Big Guns: A Novel by Steve Israel (NetGalley, from Publisher) 2/26/18
268. Small Country by Gaël Faye (NetGalley) 2/27/18
269. Chosen Country: A Rebellion in the West by James Pogue (Amazon Vine ARC) 2/27/18
270. A Tokyo Romance: A Memoir by Ian Buruma (e-Galley, First to Read) 2/27/18
271. The Reservoir Tapes by Jon McGregor (Edelweiss, e-galley) 2/27/18
272. Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly (Audiobook sale, $) 2/28/18
273. Women in Sunlight by Frances Mayes (Amazon Vine ARC) 2/28/18
274. The Language of Kindness by Christie Watson (Amazon Vine ARC) 2/28/18
275. My October by Claire Holden Rothman (Audiobook, $$) 2/28/18
276. Jane Seymour, the Haunted Queen by Alison Weir (NetGalley) 2/28/18 Read
277. Gnomon by Nick Harkaway (NetGalley) 2/28/18
278. Time Pieces: A Dublin Memoir by John Banville (NetGalley, from publisher) 2/28/18
279. Digging In: A Novel by Loretta Nyhan (Kindle First, Kindle freebie) 3/1/18
280. The Last Man in Europe by Dennis Glover (Kindle, $$) 3/1/18 Read
281. The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers (UK Kindle sale, $) 3/1/18
282. Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves by Rachel Malik (UK Kindle, $$) 3/1/18
283. The Draughtsman by Robert Lautner (UK Kindle, $$) 3/1/18
284. The Year That Changed Everything by Cathy Kelly (UK Kindle, $$) 3/1/18
285. Sunburn by Laura Lippmann (UK Kindle sale, $) 3/1/18
286. The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer (UK Kindle sale, $) 3/2/18
287. To Love and Be Wise by Josephine Tey (UK Kindle sale, $) 3/2/18
288. Flesh and Blood by John Harvey (UK Kindle sale, $) 3/2/18
289. District VIII by Adam LeBor (Edelweiss e-galley) 3/2/18
290. Joe Hill by Wallace Stegner (Amazon Vine ARC) 3/2/18
291. Recapitulation by Wallace Stegner (Amazon Vine ARC) 3/2/18
292. The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind by Barbara Lipska (Amazon Vine ARC) 3/2/18
293. When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger (NetGalley) 3/2/18
294. First Night by Jane Aiken Hodge (NetGalley) 3/2/18 Read
295. That Great Lucifer: A Portrait of Sir Walter Ralegh by Margaret Irwin (NetGalley) 3/2/18
296. Last Act by Jane Aiken Hodge (Kindle, $$) 3/4/18 Read
297. The Gabriel Hounds by Mary Stewart (Kindle sale, $) 3/4/18
298. Touch Not the Cat by Mary Stewart (Kindle sale, $) 3/4/18
299. Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic (Amazon Vine ARC) 3/5/18
300. Time is a Killer by Michel Bussi (Amazon Vine ARC) 3/5/18
301. Dancing Bears: True Stories of People Nostalgic for Life Under Tyranny by Witold Szablowski (Kindle, $$) 3/6/18
302. The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss (Audible, $$) 3/6/18
303. Sorority by Genevieve Sly Crane (NetGalley) 3/6/18
304. theMystery.doc by Matthew McIntosh (publisher freebie for Kindle) 3/6/18
305. My Name is Venus Black by Heather Lloyd (Amazon Vine ARC) 3/6/18
306. The Shadow Killer by Arnaldur Indridason (NetGalley) 3/7/18
307. The House of Hopes and Dreams by Trisha Ashley (UK Kindle, $$) 3/7/18 Read
308. A Different Class of Murder by Laura Thompson (Kindle Sale, $) 3/8/18
309. In Prior's Wood by G.M. Malliet (NetGalley) 3/8/18
310. The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware (NetGalley) 3/8/18

Jan 1, 4:21am Top

Happy New Year
Happy New Group here
This place is full of friends
I hope it never ends
It brew of erudition and good cheer.

Jan 1, 7:09am Top

Happy reading in 2018, Suzanne!
Some want to read Barkskins together in the 1st quarter, probably February. Maybe you want to join us?

Jan 1, 11:58am Top

Dropping my star and wishing you a very happy 2018 reading year!

Jan 1, 12:02pm Top

Hi Suzanne. Happy New Year! May the year be filled with love and laughter, and let's hope that migraines stay away.

I look forward to stopping by to see what you are reading.

Jan 1, 12:09pm Top

^Happy Mega-Reading in 2018, Suzanne!

I am up for Barkskins in Feb!

Jan 1, 12:09pm Top

Well! I see I won't have to look at any other lists to pick new books this year. Quite a collection! Not sure what my reading will be like, aside from a few book group reads, but if we intersect, either deliberately or accidentally, I'll certainly let you know!

Jan 1, 1:04pm Top

Dropping off a
And wishing you

Jan 1, 1:17pm Top

Hello everyone!! Thanks for dropping by... (and for the limerick, Paul)

Just a few quick notes, as of course I'm starting 2018 with a migraine, and no I didn't drink last night because I was setting up this page!

>11 FAMeulstee: I may well join a Barkskins read in February. Annie Proulx is relatively new to me, and it would be fun to have some company to keep me going. I picked this up in an UK Kindle sale, so I don't have a lot invested in reading the novel (one reason it ended up on the list -- to prod me into reading it!) so anything that increases the odds that I'll explore it would be great. Thanks, Anita; I'll keep my eyes open for the group read, and see you there Mark.

>15 ffortsa: It's an oddball collection, to be sure. Some will get read; some won't. I put the French books at the top because I didn't read a single book in French throughout 2017, and that's not good. I'm reading French news articles and the occasional essay, but I can't keep up my ability to do more than marvel at the language's elegance if that's all I do.

I still have about two dozen mini-reviews to finish for my 2017 thread... ARGH.

More later. Happy New Year to all!!

I will try to keep up on threads, but undoubtedly will fail miserably -- advance warning to all my kind guests, especially those who open a new thread every 10 days or so and always have hundreds or so of new posts to read. I just can't keep up!! or cope!! I lurk; I skim; I don't always post. It doesn't mean I'm not paying attention -- really...

Jan 1, 1:32pm Top

>17 Chatterbox:

Happy New Year and fewer migraines once Mueller finally makes a bold and dramatic move.
Champagne was on hold for me also - maybe by Valentine's Day, we can relax again.

In the meantime, thank you for the Non-Fiction Challenge - I LOVE to see those covers come up!

Jan 1, 2:52pm Top

Happy New Year! Hope this will be a good one both for reading and otherwise in you life.

Jan 1, 4:01pm Top

Hi Suzanne, will be following along in 2018, no doubt adding to my wishlist as I go.

Love the lists - in particular your list of fiction around the world is wonderfully tempting, I'm sure I will be adding to my wishlist from them as you go through the year. I have read a few - of those I enjoyed Arab Jazz and am such a fan of Helon Habila I am afraid to go to anything he does in case I go stupid/gushy - or even worse, he turns out to be disappointing in person. I have The Summer Book and The Dream Life of Sukhanov both neglected on the shelf and Fish Have no Feet was rather underwhelming/ mystifying, so insight there would be great!

Jan 1, 5:15pm Top

Why, Ms. Paws, so kind of you to visit...! Can I offer you a saucer of cream! And wishes for a merry Christmas. I'm sorry, haven't kept up with your doings, but I hope all is well...

Hello, Charlotte; I shall scoot over and see what the penguins are up to presently. The weather here is highly penguin-suitable, viz., Antarcitc. I've only read one novel by Habila, Oil on Water, but loved it, and have been itching to read another -- they are harder to find here as many haven't made the leap across the pond, annoyingly. I hemmed and hawed over Sukhanov's novel and one by Ludmila Ulitskaya, esp. since Sukhanov, while Russian (and in this case writing about Russia), apparently writes in English. But the former is on my TBR and that tipped the balance. I may still read the other -- and there is a massive (1,000 page plus) new epic novel about an apartment building in Moscow that has just come out. I'm hoping to get the Athenaeum to buy it when I have finished a bunch of the books that I have out now and have time to read it. So I may yet make a substitution there.

I'm too headachey today to finish this list, or to put together the final touches on my top books of the year (although the lineup is complete) but for anyone interested in the mini-reviews of the last 100 or so of the books I read, and the final 29 or thereabouts that I will write and add, here is that link:

Jan 1, 6:22pm Top

>5 Chatterbox: I say this every time I see Lolita on someone's tbr, so apologies if this sounds familiar, but try to find the audiobook narrated by Jeremy Irons. It is excellent with just the right amount of creepy.

Jan 1, 6:48pm Top

>21 Chatterbox: Thank you, I had a very good Christmas surrounded by my loved ones. Hope yours was good as well.
All is well otherwise, and my reading has finally gotten back in gear so I'm really looking forward to a new reading year.

Jan 1, 7:27pm Top

>22 ELiz_M: That is precisely what I have on my TBR list!! Great minds... But seriously, I love his voice, and it's a book I've been dodging for a while (subject matter), so thought this would be the perfect way to approach it.

>23 PawsforThought: Glad the reading is back in gear! Mine is too; have finally broken out of a (relative) two-year funk. Now I need to get my life in order, which is a much bigger challenge than reading a lot of books.

Jan 1, 7:34pm Top

Happy new reading year, Suzanne. I hope you have enough books to keep you occupied ;-)

Jan 1, 8:16pm Top

Welcome back! I hope 2018 is a good one for you!

Jan 2, 9:13am Top

Your lists are tempting and marvelous!

I may pop into your NF thread from time to time just to see what people are reading. My non-fiction agenda is heaviest in natural history, and I'm doing ROOTS too -- books I know have been hanging about since 2010 (when I joined LT) or before!

That Oliver poem is wildly appropriate right now -- it has been so cold here I really have more or less given up and am hibernating! In minus double digits every morning when I come down and "highs" of about 3 or 4 F day after day. Good for reading though!

Happy New Year!

Jan 2, 9:48am Top

Gah, your nonfiction list alone is killing me. A hail of BBs!

Happy to drop by your salon often. And thank you for the beautiful Mary Oliver poem. I should read more of her poetry.

Jan 2, 10:13am Top

Happy New Year! I wish you to read many good books in 2018.

Jan 2, 3:25pm Top

>27 sibyx: I know; it's soooo cold AND we're set for another winter storm tomorrow night/Thurs morning, overlapping (of course) with when I'm supposed to leave for NYC. Brilliant; just brilliant. I haven't been out of doors in a week.

>28 libraryperilous: Do please visit the salon. I shall try to keep it open, with a roaring cyber-fire burning. Don't worry, some of those non-fiction titles are sure to turn out to be duds. But I also will be reading others that may be fabulous! You never know what's coming around the corner in this place... ;-) Except that if it had a soundtrack, it would feature mewing or purring cats. I had to apologize to the guy from Morgan Stanley who I was interviewing about growth stocks today for Molly-cat's loud purrs and mews. Sigh. She is usually the worst culprit. If I'm talking, it MUST be to her, right?

OK, back to work.

Jan 2, 4:34pm Top

>30 Chatterbox: - Yeah, that snow might hamper my getting to book group Thursday evening... Though much less forecasted for down here.

Jan 2, 4:43pm Top

I guess I haven't said Happy New Year here......... I hope it's a wonderful one for you, and I look forward, as ever, to new booky discoveries.

Jan 2, 6:01pm Top

Dropping off my star and sending wonderful wishes for a kinder and saner 2018.....

Thanks for hosting the nonfiction challenge again, Suzanne. I was thinking about it last night during my insomnia. There are worse things to contemplate.

Jan 2, 6:25pm Top

>31 katiekrug: Please let me know if you don't plan to go. You would be one of the reasons I force myself onto a train in the driving snow, at this point. They are calling for 8 inches and a blizzard up here, and I may have to leave tomorrow night instead. Argh. But I suppose I have to go. (And if I can get there from Rhode Island thru a blizzard dumping 8 inches of snow...)

Happy 2018, Peggy & Ellen!! So far, no books finished, just some work and SNOW and COLD!

Jan 2, 6:49pm Top

>34 Chatterbox: - Well, I'm not going if YOU don't go - LOL! And you will have to decide first, so just let me know :)

Jan 2, 7:44pm Top

My ticket is purchased... And it's an Amtrak purchase, so Big Bucks are now at stake... *grin*

Of course, now I need to find time to read the book.

Jan 2, 7:53pm Top

Happy New Year, Suz. So glad you're back here as I get more Book Bullets from you than anyone. I don't think I've participated in the nonfiction challenge in the past so I am eager to read more NF, beyond my usual baseball and American history books.

Jan 2, 8:41pm Top

Happy new year! Wishing you an awesome year of reading in 2018!

Jan 2, 9:57pm Top

Hello, Linda & Rhonda!

>37 lindapanzo: I hope you're over your horrible pneumonia now, so that you'll be able to delve into the nonfiction challenge (and everything else) with gusto!

Can't believe it's the 2nd of January, and I haven't finished a book yet... :-) Oh well, that won't last, will it?

Jan 2, 10:10pm Top

>39 Chatterbox: Thanks, Suz. I am feeling much better, though I still have an occasional bad day. These frigid temps aren't helping.

I finished Ali Smith's Autumn late on New Year's Day but haven't read at all today.

Jan 3, 11:14am Top

Just started Murder in Amsterdam- thanks for the rec! Good luck with NY travels...the snow's not supposed to be too bad here, just 2-4 inches in the forecast now.

Jan 3, 12:52pm Top

>41 vivians: Yes, I'm relieved about the NYC forecast, and delighted to be escaping our forecast until the snow is over. Though I confess that I do kind of like watching the snow fall in blizzards, as long as I don't have to DO anything or GO anywhere in the midst of them. Leaving tonight will get me out ahead of it all, I think.

Finished two light books, but don't feel that I have the energy/bandwidth to dive into something heavyweight yet. One of them was the first audiobook in my planned re-"read" of Elizabeth Pewsey's Mountjoy series of novels -- the epitome of fun froth. But very distinctive in voice and tone and attitude. Her characters sport names like Valdemar and Magdalena (along with Cleo and Prue) and indulge in all kinds of vices, in a very matter of fact way. Pewsey makes it all feel very normal and amusing, and the result is a fun book. But I'll get around to all that when I deal with mini-reviews, a wee bit later. I am back-logged with work (pleasant change, but surely there could be a happy medium??)

Jan 3, 2:57pm Top

Happy New Year, Suzanne. I wanted to stop in and thank you in advance for adding what I'm sure will be a mountain of books to my TBR piles throughout the year. I find your reviews give me the perfect amount and sort of information to be accurate predictors of whether I will like a book or not.

Jan 3, 4:22pm Top

Thanks, Julia! That is indeed high praise...

I've just received NetGalley approvals for some amazing books -- Tom Rachman's new novel, Jane Harper's new suspense book (so I need to read The Dry sooner rather than later!) and some others. Kerry will be excited to hear that my copy of C.K. Stead's The Necessary Angel (procured by my friend who likes books but LOVES cycling and was in NZ on a cycling holiday as part of her "gardening leave" last month) just arrived. And Norton approved me on Edelweiss for an intriguing novel about people who visited the Third Reich and watched as the frog comfortably settled into his increasingly warm water, never really realizing that everyone was about to be boiled alive (I'm muddling my metaphors, but it's about how it's possible or not for observers to process/understand fundamental changes that are happening. Timely, no?)

But I also have some work to tackle, so...

Meanwhile, off to Amtrak. Via the CVS so I don't run out of migraine meds.

Jan 3, 9:14pm Top

I've been granted a Netgalley of a forthcoming book called Bookworm: a Memoir of Childhood Reading. Lucy Mangan is a journalist who had a Guardian column on favourite children's books for a while. She's a few years younger than me but is old enough to have enjoyed some now very obscure books published as Puffins.

Jan 3, 9:17pm Top

>45 elkiedee: That sounds like a lovely read. I hope you enjoy it. I've added it to Mt TBR.

>44 Chatterbox: Your Norton ARC sounds fascinating.

Try to stay warm and dry, Suzanne. You definitely need more than just a cyber fire this week.

Jan 3, 11:02pm Top

>45 elkiedee: Oh, that sounds delightful. Her name sounds very familiar, but I'm not sure why.

Edited: Jan 3, 11:33pm Top

Here's a link to that brilliant column from the Guardian - had no idea it was 8-9 years ago


Jan 3, 11:57pm Top

>48 elkiedee: Oh!! "Just William"! "The Family From One -End Street"! "Tom's Midnight Garden"! "The Children of the New Forest"! (Just ONE of the books that made me want to run away from home...) "The Saturdays"! "A Traveller in Time"! (Which I just re-read...) Blissful sigh. Although -- the Chalet School books. Hilda Lewis. "Charlotte Sometimes." And other stuff. Sigh.

>46 libraryperilous: So far, so good! But my migraine is acting up, natch.

Jan 4, 6:19am Top

Wishing you a successful year of reading.
I started reading The Lost Pages by Marija Pericic today and finding it fairly compelling.
Tonight I came across an article about the Savages Quartet by Sabri Louatah that you might find interesting. My library has ordered the first book and I've already got it on request, as I liked Submission and this one has a similar plotline.
'Funny, clever and brutal, it is the story of a working-class family of Algerian descent in Saint-Étienne, in eastern central France, caught up in the election of the country’s first Arab president.'

Jan 4, 3:21pm Top

>50 avatiakh: That was another book bullet from you -- The Lost Pages I mean. I could get it as an audiobook, so I did! For some reason, Aussie books reach here early as audiobooks -- Keneally, etc. I have learned to look there first.

Jan 4, 5:57pm Top

Happy new year, Suz!

Jan 4, 6:34pm Top

>52 ChelleBearss:, and to you Chelle! Hope all is well with you and the munchkins...

Jan 4, 7:00pm Top

Hi, Suzanne! Did you get hit bad with the weather? Fingers crossed.

Have you read The Fact of a Body yet? I am not quite done with it, but it is an outstanding read, despite very disturbing elements.

Jan 5, 6:16am Top

Suz I got into the Oxford History of the United States through James McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom and later picked up What Hath God Wrought their book about the pre Civil War era and they're mighty good.

I mention this because a copy of The Glorious Cause the first book of the series about the American Revolution just fell into my lap and I am enjoying it main well The author has a lot of interesting insights and ideas that hadn't occurred to me before and he ie making me think! They're big books - but for a one volume history they're pretty comprehensive


Sorry we missed you last night - I almost braved the elements to come up for dinner but Judy's foot is not great and she needs some extra TLC in these unhappy times.

Jan 5, 11:17am Top

>54 msf59: Yes, we were "supposed" to only get 2 to 4 inches, and the actual total in NYC (which is where I am right now) was closer to 10. So much for those expert weather prognosticators! I hadn't heard about The Fact of a Body, but will take it under advisement... Not sure I'm up for murder in anything but a fictional context right now!

>55 magicians_nephew: Thanks for the recommendation/suggestion! Shall see if Abebooks can dump a copy in my lap, too -- one that is affordable and in good nick!

Yes, staying home was def a good plan, esp. given Judy's foot. My ankle is worsening steadily, and after about 800 steps (I've measured) and depending on footwear, I start to limp and/or hobble, as my foot doesn't flex and I can't tolerate any touch on the inner ankle bone at all. As soon as the new insurance card arrives, it's off to get a firm diagnosis. Probably the result of several bad sprains and one stress fracture on that ankle, but damn, I hate getting old(er). Nobody came, and we watched "Victoria & Abdul" on pay-per-view instead (my choice, needless to say...)

I actually don't mind, as I hadn't finished reading Baldwin and I am relishing it greatly. Didn't want to rush through the last 100 pages or so. And now I don't have to! I just have to get back to Providence -- where there is 15 inches (at least) of snow awaiting me. Oh joy; oh bliss.

Jan 6, 8:46am Top

>56 Chatterbox: sounds like a lovely alternative to a an anticipated bookclub meeting.

Jan 8, 7:13pm Top

>57 ELiz_M: It was!

I spent part of this VERY COLD weekend streaming Netflix and Amazon Prime video content, and part of it reading. Finished the new Michael Wolff book about the Trump administration that everybody is babbling about. I get the allure of all the gossip and the anecdotes, but the chief benefit of the book to me was its ability to put everything in a kind of context. I know Wolff very, very slightly -- we've exchanged e-mails back and forth about our books -- and I know he's very promotional and loves to court controversy. I also know that he didn't set out to do a thought-piece book. So it's kind of interesting that at the end of Fire and Fury I found myself thinking, hmm, what kind of individual do we want/need as a political leader? Someone who is an administrative genius? Who is a policy wonk? Who has a vision for the country? What happens if you can't find someone who combines elements of those, and who can't assemble a team that combines those skills? When did we reach the point where building personal brands seems to "trump" (forgive the pun...) providing public service of value while working for the White House? I know, I know; why do I even have any illusions about politicians and their cronies? What am I, an idealist or something? But it literally sickens me, to realize the unbridled personal ambition and the lack of thought given to PUBLIC SERVICE.

Then, what I realized reading this is that Trump probably is close to being a 14th century feudal monarch -- at least in his own mind. He wants everyone to either love him or pretend to love him, and to do his will without arguing. And where people will rid him of folks who disagree with him, just like Henry II of England and that "quarrelsome priest", aka Thomas Becket. That's really the universe he yearns to live in. Or perhaps he thinks he does live in it, and he was elected divine monarch. It would explain a lot. Including the hollowness of his "policies." He doesn't need to have any. Because he simply reigns by divine right, and not because he has to have ideas.

Oh, and I loved Go Tell It on the Mountain. The first James Baldwin novel I've ever read, but it DEFINITELY won't be the last.

Now reading the non-fiction tome about travelers in Nazi Germany -- a digital advance reading copy. Very good...

Jan 9, 7:41am Top

Excellent and interesting thoughts on the Wolff book and on this administration. I agree about him being similar to a feudal monarch, which makes me think...haven't there been studies done on a possibly link between 'crazy,' megalomaniac rulers and venereal diseases (syphilis mostly, I think?)? Perhaps this guy should be tested...

Go Tell It on the Mountain was my first Baldwin, too, and I felt the same way. Fantastic, wasn't it?

Jan 9, 11:27am Top

I don't think I'll read the Wolff book, but numerous political scientists I follow on Twitter have summarized it. Most seem to feel the greatest benefit is its push back against the access journalism that often refuses to ask tough questions of Trump or his equally inept and lazy cabal.

One of the things that most infuriated me about this election—from the Democratic primary on—was the idea that it's easy to be POTUS. It's true that average people should run for all the things! POTUS isn't the same as a seat on the local town council. It's not even the same as being in Congress. If you pushed back against the shouty people saying "Burn down the establishment!" you were called a neoliberal shill. Like, you know if you burn down the establishment, you get a catastrophe and whatever replaces it becomes the establishment, right? Right? Alas, no, people didn't know that.

I agree with Will Cubbison and some other political scientists: Trump is too lazy and dumb to be an autocrat or a dictator. But Sessions is neither stupid nor lazy, and the civil rights mess and authoritarian-leaning actions he'll leave behind are a disaster for our country and will take decades to root out.

Jan 9, 11:46am Top

Interesting, I'm reading Go Tell It on the Mountain too just now - it's my book group discussion book at the end of the month.

Edited: Jan 9, 11:51am Top

>60 libraryperilous: - I couldn't agree more with your second paragraph.

Edited to fix strangled syntax...

Edited: Jan 9, 11:53am Top

>60 libraryperilous: It's interesting, because in some ways I think Wolff's book was precisely the ultimate example of "access journalism." He was able to write this (as he admits in the preface) because he became a fly in the wall -- an observer. He never asked tough questions at all. He simply watched and listened and absorbed. (And yes, I have a few questions about his practices as a journalist, given my own experiences in that arena for the last 30 plus years, although I think the bottom line is that the book is as sound as anything of its gossipy ilk could be.) So I wouldn't say this is at all a critique of the lack of access journalism. If anything, it's going to make even cozy journalistic relationships tougher to create, since people will start to be suspicious that their pet reporter will be another Michael Wolff, who will turn on them. That said, the Trump folks should have been VERY wary of Wolff, given his oeuvre, and not let him near them. It's baffling -- except that Wolff explains it in the book: he wants to be loved by the people who loathe him, because they are self-anointed intellectuals.

There's still a need for tough journalism. The problem with Trump -- and everyone who has interviewed him will tell you this -- is that he ignores and/or talks over questions a lot. Also, in the White House, he is insulated to some extent from media he doesn't want to engage with or listen to. So, you can ask a tough question -- but you don't have any right to expect a serious, considered answer. It's like watching two groups talking PAST each other.

And yes, on both the right AND the left, I worry about the push toward nihilism and anarchy that follows from anti-establishment hatred.

>59 scaifea: Re Baldwin: Oh my -- such writing. Such powerful insight. Now must decide what to read next.

>61 elkiedee: Shall look forward to hearing your reaction to the novel!!

Edited: Jan 9, 12:23pm Top

Sort of tired of reading how dumb Trump is - my response is - so what? He's still president.

Not a bit interested in reading "Fire and Fury".

When Hitler became chancellor nobody took him seriously - just a loud mouthed street agitator with no experience in government - when he gets annoying the army will just take him out and put somebody serious in.

Jan 9, 1:50pm Top

The Great Orange Gasbag reminds me less of Henry II and more of Henry VIII. One was a smart savy administrator with a sense of justice and fiscal responsibility, the other was a spoiled rich kid who wanted what he wanted when he wanted it. Henry II was a the very least, smart, intellectual, and very cognizant of the fact that he needed the cooperation of the church, not its opposition in order to implement reforms he thought necessary to bring progress to England, while keeping everything fiscally level. Henry VIII thought that everybody should love him because he was the greatest and one of the smartest people in England, and couldn't believe that he might not get what he wanted simply because he was King and therefore deserved it. All that adulation and syncopation from the time he was a child was probably at the bottom of it.

Jan 9, 2:16pm Top

>64 magicians_nephew: For me, it's not about reading how dumb he is. Yes, that's a given. It's about reading about the enablers, and their attempts to manage him, or his success in destabilizing them, from someone who WAS a fly on the wall (as opposed to someone who is the recipient of selective leaks and thus is like one of those blind men from legend trying to figure out what an elephant looks like by touching part of the great beast.) Wolff's version is a very different one, which is what makes it interesting. Does it tell me more about Trump as a person? No, because there's little more there to say. Does it tell me more about governance right now, and make me think about where we have come, what we might need and where we might go? Yes. For instance, it shaped my response to the whole Oprah 2020 stuff after the Golden Globes. Because while Oprah may be smarter, may have experience running philanthropies, may espouse causes I believe in, she -- like Trump -- does not understand Washington, and I have no confidence in her ability to become a public servant or form a team of people devoted to governing.

You might read Travelers in the Third Reich when it comes out in a few months. What surprised me was the diversity of opinion beyond just the Moseley/Mitford fascist "our guy" stuff, the Lord Halifax/Lindbergh "he's vulgar, but he may be on to something" and the "the military will deal with him eventually." The author refers to a piece that Thomas Wolfe -- immensely popular in Germany and lionized during a trip there -- wrote on his return as a result of one or two small experiences, in the knowledge that he'd be banned from returning to a country he loved and never collect any of his royalties. She cast far and wide for insight, so goes beyond the usual characters -- Shirer, Martha Dodd, etc. etc. -- to include a Chinese student of Sanskrit. Fascinating.

>65 benitastrnad: I would agree with you in terms of personality and intellect. Henry II was someone who was driven and smart, for the most part (albeit with a few large blind spots) and had endless energy and a commitment to turning England into a functioning country again after the civil war. Henry VIII -- well... the narcissism, yes. But Henry II lived in an era of absolute power. By the 16th century, constraints on that had already begun to emerge, as wealthy merchants could be beheaded -- but after another civil war, in which the nobility had lost out big time and the merchants had emerged (financially) as the winners, and given the anxiety surrounding legitimacy and heirs, he simply didn't have that absolute power that someone like Henry II, John or Henry III (until the de Montfort rebellion) had. He was narcissistic, but also paranoid, and someone who is paranoid is rarely in complete control. Maybe he is the closest parallel to Trump for that reason, given that the latter also is paranoid (the lying fake media, etc. etc.) but in terms of the way he thinks about his power, I'd still plump for the earlier Plantagenets. It's splitting hairs, though -- in either case, we're a long LONG way from a republic and a "democratic" form of government!!

Jan 9, 3:49pm Top

>60 libraryperilous: Totally agree with your comment about being President not being analogous to the local city council. Frankly, this was an issue for me back in the second Bush presidency. I recall several commentators making the claim that the average person felt like they could sit down and have a beer with George W. Bush but could not with John Kerry. I found that to be an incredibly shallow consideration. Yes, a President should be somewhat relatable and should be able to converse with the common man or woman but the President should be an extraordinary person.

If I have to have a surgeon operate on me, I want a subject matter expert. Whether or not I could be friends with the person is way far down on my list of criteria. The idea that an ordinary person can do the job of the Presidency is ludicrous. If you have never heard of Ukraine and cannot find it on a map then you have no business making foreign policy decisions on the subject.

As an aside, plenty of the common people shouldn't be on the local city council either. As a lawyer, I have plenty of conversations with city council members where I have had to tell them that something they did or wanted to do was unquestionably illegal and most of the time the response was something akin to "But I am a city council member, it can't be illegal!"

Jan 9, 3:54pm Top

>66 Chatterbox: Suzanne, you read On Tyranny right?

Jan 9, 3:59pm Top

>68 Oberon: Nope, not yet. In fact, I don't even seem to have it in my library. Odd, that. I thought I did.

Your comments re the city councillors remind me of things people say about the first amendment. "But I have a First Amendment right to say whatever I want!" Yes, but you DON'T have immunity from the consequences. People can choose to unfriend you; your employer can decide that you are a hindrance to his ability to run his company smoothly; etc. You just can't be stopped from saying it, or arrested for it. Big, BIG difference.

Jan 9, 4:05pm Top

1. The Feast of Artemis by Anne Zouroudi

I’ve enjoyed this series of mysteries featuring the “Greek Detective” – he’s not really a “detective” per se, and it doesn’t take much in the way of careful reading to figure out just what kind of figure Hermes Diaktoros is (you don’t even have to know the meaning of his surname in Greek mythology!) He pops up or is attracted to communities in Greece where things are going wrong – neighbors are in crisis, fighting, sometimes murdering or otherwise damaging each other. Dead bodies appear or resurface. He represents the “higher authorities”, and his interest is justice, not making an arrest. And his method of achieving that is unique and distinctive. This isn’t the best in the series, but it’s still a decent yarn: a long-standing feud between two families, ostensibly over who owns what olive trees and over rival methods of olive oil production, that has claimed many casualties, some quite peripheral, and that proves to have some quite different causes and roots. Hermes untangles it all, of course. It’s the characters that make it interesting, and the sort of “feel good” very, VERY different kind of cozy mystery on offer. 3.7 stars. I think I only have one left in the series, #5 out of 7, which I skipped over.

2. Children of Chance by Elizabeth Pewsey
4. Divine Comedy by Elizabeth Pewsey

I’ve decided to listen to the Mountjoy series of books on audiobook this year, in tribute to their author and the books. Elizabeth Pewsey/Edmundson/Aston died a year or two back, and her final book, finished by her son, has just been published, but it’s this series that introduced me to her about 20 years ago, and that I still enjoy the most. The novels revolve around a group of characters all tied to a location, the quasi-fictional cathedral city of Eyot (clearly York) in northern England. In many ways, they are over the top: some of the characters are extravagant and/or melodramatic, but they are tremendously entertaining. If you have objections of immorality or the occasional amoral character, do not even attempt to read these, however. In the first, young Cleo Byng and her friend, naive Prue, the latter left suddenly homeless and poverty stricken after her aunt died and left everything to an offshoot of the Plymouth Brethren, take summer jobs after finishing school near Eyot. Prue goes to work for Lord Mountjoy at the castle, helping his wife, Magdalena, with her projects, including a music festival. Cleo works with famed cellist, Sylvester Tate. Both will find their lives entangled with the amoral and narcissistic Valdemar Mountjoy, heir to the Mountjoys (at least for now…) whose only real loves are the castle, music and architecture, but who charms and seduces women as a sideline. In the case of Cleo, that could be VERY damaging indeed… But Sylvester, Magdalena and Sylvester’s all-knowing housekeeper, Lily, jump in and out to try and ensure that neither Cleo nor Prue makes an error that will ruin their lives. Much more entertaining than it sounds, and sometimes feels like a Midsummer Night’s romp. The second book has a darker tone, as Quinta (Pewsey specializes in exotic names for her characters in this series…) arrives as a pregnant 15-year-old in Eyot; fast forward and she’s mother to a precocious daughter who isn’t getting good enough schooling. She’s also mistress-in-residence to a talented composer, Alban, who loves her and doesn’t understand why she doesn’t love him, too. Then a whole bunch of new characters show up in Eyot, who shake everything up: Quinta’s schoolfriend, Lydia, who will commission her to make her a double bass (Quinta makes and repairs string instruments); Titus, a scholar in chaos theory; Adam, an archaeologist of great charm and good looks but doubtful behavior; and a new bishop and his wife, both of whom may prove to play an unexpected role in Quinta’s past and her future. 4 stars for both. The latter has a great kind of Greek chorus in the shape of three ladies who do the flowers in Eyot cathedral and gossip/comment on all the action.

3. Admissions: Life as a Brain Surgeon by Henry Marsh

Initially, I had hoped that this might be as interesting or as reflective as something written by Atul Gawande, but it didn’t rise to that level. Henry Marsh (who I hadn’t been familiar with until I spotted this book in the Athenaeum and picked it up to read, on a whim) is an English neurosurgeon who apparently has written other books about his work; this is a late/post-career book in which he writes about his final days in his career, leaving his hospital to operate in Nepal and the differences/difficulties of making that transition, and his more general musings about life. It ends up feeling a bit scattershot. At one moment he’s writing about woodworking, or renovating a canal-side cottage near Oxford; the next, he’s back in Nepal, or looking back at a case he dealt with during his career. I didn’t get a clear sense of a narrative arc, or any broad points he was trying to make, other than that, perhaps, neurosurgery is difficult, and many people who face it don’t have good outcomes, and now that he’s at the end of his career and in the final decade(s) of his life, he’s starting to think about his own mortality. Bits of this were fascinating, other bits were annoyingly self indulgent. Overall? I’m being generous. 3.8 stars.

5. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff

Yes, as noted above, I read this. And, as suggested by my previous comments, I do think it’s worth reading. No, it won’t tell you anything you didn’t already know or suspect about Trump himself. I DO think it will give you a more rounded view of the White House dysfunction from someone who has seen it all and not just someone who has a vested interest in spinning one individual’s POV. I also think it’s worthwhile to consider what it is that makes a White House work well, or poorly. Is it good to have a transparent White House? If so, why? Why do we have so many political operatives that think primarily of their personal brand rather than public service? (And that isn’t unique to Trumpland…) How might we restore a sense of public service? How do we roll back the “imperial presidency”? I’ve found that this has made me think more about questions I already had, and raised more questions. And sometimes that is the function and purpose of a book, and not just to answer questions I already had. Books don’t have to be perfect; they can be flawed and still useful. And that’s the category this one falls into, at least for me. 4.3 stars.

6. Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin

My first novel by Baldwin and the first 5-star book of the year for me. Our book circle has an unofficial rule that we’re not supposed to discuss the books that we read before the group meets. Because of the snowpocalypse in NYC last week, the meeting was canceled, so I’ll defer to that rule (sigh) and come back to discuss this later. Because I’ll almost certainly be reading more by Baldwin this year…

7. Travelers in the Third Reich: The Rise of Fascism: 1919-1945 by Julia Boyd

This is a digital review copy of a book that won’t be out in the US until August, although you can order it from the UK and order copies on Amazon that are from the UK, where it was on the best books list of both the Telegraph and the Guardian. The central premise? Boyd takes a look at travelers’ accounts of Germany between 1919 and 1939 (with an afterword going up to 1945), and poses the question: without benefit of hindsight, how easy or difficult was it for people to evaluate what it was that they were seeing? Her witnesses range from schoolchildren to Chinese scholars, from diplomats and journalists to die-hard believers or opponents. (Did you know that a romance novelist named Mary Burchell – her pen name – used to smuggle out jewelry for Jewish families, making frequent trips under the pretext of being a rabid opera fan? I was familiar with her books, because my grandmother’s name was Mary Burchell…) This reminded me of the book I read last year about the foreigners who were eyewitnesses to the twin Russian revolutions of 1917, but with a broader point to it: what was knowable? Boyd argues that many people went with preconceived views and that relatively few others underwent a transformation during their travels. She has accumulated some fascinating anecdotes though, including one of a honeymooning couple who, approached by a Jewish woman with her daughter, limping because of a built-up shoe (having spotted the GB on their car), were asked to take the daughter, Greta, with them to England. They actually were off to Kenya next – but had seen enough to agree. Just imagine… A fascinating chronicle of how easy it is to hope for the best and how hard it is to be deeply pessimistic. 4.3 stars.

Jan 9, 5:07pm Top

>70 Chatterbox: I love the cover on that copy of Go Tell it on the Mountain.

I was wondering why I thought "I have that" about Travellers in the Third Reich - it was a Kindle offer for £1.49 in October (surprisingly since it was only published in August).

Jan 9, 8:08pm Top

>71 elkiedee: Now I wonder how I missed that Kindle offer! Still, I'm glad I got approved for the book on Edelweiss...

And yes, that's a great cover. Makes me want to order the rest on Vintage, too.

Jan 9, 8:42pm Top

8. Maid of the King's Court by Lucy Worsley

Well, this was a poor investment, although it was made with a gift certificate that was a gift, so... I figured that so many good writers who are historians have begun producing decent historical fiction (even Ian Mortimer has a newish novel, residing on my UK Kindle and waiting for me) that one by Lucy Worsley, who works at Hampton Court, and some of whose books about art history and Hampton Court I've dipped into, couldn't be all that bad. ARGH. She distorts history even when it isn't necessary, in telling this story of Katherine Howard through the eyes of a fictional cousin. I can live with the kind of 21st century vibe of the heroine (clearly, she is aiming at a contemporary YA audience...) but what on earth is the point of arbitrarily turning the Duchess of Norfolk into the Duchess of Northumberland and relocating her establishment? Of renaming Katherine's lover? Of disposing of her crony, Jane Rochford, from the plot altogether, when she could have added to it very richly without complicating the narrative? It's the literary equivalent of what the TV series, "The Tudors" ended up doing to history: what is left isn't altogether wrong, but with so many supporting details out of context or inaccurate, you don't know what's right or what to trust. And she could have achieved her objective -- to portray how the wealthy families of the time were grooming their daughters for the role that Katherine filled -- quite well without all these random and arbitrary changes to historical fact. Oddly, the reason I bought the book was that I figured a historian WOULDN'T do precisely this. Well, that'll teach me. 2.75 stars, for the interesting theories behind it. But really, just avoid it. There are an ample # of Tudor books around. Go read The Boleyn Inheritance if you really want to read about Katherine Howard. That's right; I'm recommending Philippa Gregory over this. Which should tell you a lot.

Edited: Jan 9, 9:30pm Top

Hi, Suz! I am enjoying the Trump discussion and the thoughts on Fire and Fury. I was steering away from reading it but you have me edging back the other way. I have it on audio, so maybe I'll dip into that way...or not. I feel like I am having a Drumph overload.

So glad you loved the Baldwin. It was my first of his too. Need to revisit it.

Jan 9, 10:10pm Top

>74 msf59: Hey Mark... Yes, I'm having a Trump overload, too... But I also feel as if it's important to understand some of this. I want to stay away from his infuriating Twitter rampages, which are really just distractions, and try to direct my attention to bigger picture stuff. So I will be reading David Frum's new book, Trumpocracy, when it appears in a few days. I expect that it will offer significantly more substance and less gossip, given the difference in the two authors. I don't expect "gotcha" headlines about who said what to whom, but a more integrated and developed version of what Frum has been writing for the Atlantic.

Meanwhile, I have a stack of fiction to read. I'm about halfway through The Radicals, the sophomore offering from Ryan McIlvain, which comes out next month; also must read the new novel by Arundhati Roy so that I can return to the Athenaeum because someone else wants to read it.

Jan 9, 11:42pm Top

>64 magicians_nephew: Jim, I agree with you. I don't have any inclination to read books ab out Trump, nor did/do I want to read about either of the Clintons. I am very weary of 24/7 coverage of networks battling it out regarding good/bad Trump.

I have books to read, and selected tv to watch, none of which is about politics. I feel as though I was very politically involved long ago, now, I don't have the energy to get mad or glad about politics.

Jan 10, 1:01am Top

What I think will interest me about Frum's book (aside from the mere fact of his political volte face) is the fact that he is setting what is happening in the US in a broader context: the erosion of democratic rights and freedoms in countries as various as Hungary, the Philippines, etc. The guy who heads the Columbia journalism school coined a word to describe leaders like Orban, Erdogan and Putin that I rather like: the "democratators" -- people who come to power and stay in power via elections but who systematically set about undermining not only many democratic institutions but also the integrity of the voting system itself. So I want to see how Frum (who again is speaking from a place of distinct knowledge, having been within the alt right until v. recently) addresses this -- for me it goes far, far beyond personalities and characters and gossip. I have zero interest, for instance, in reading Hillary Clinton's book about the 2016 election. That is over. Or anything much written by Bernie Sanders, because I feel I've heard all his rants seven times already. I'm hungry for solid analytical thinking, though, because I think we're in a dangerous place. And I can form judgments, oenter discussions, if I'm not reading and thinking critically. But that's just me.

Finished the Ryan McIlvain novel, which was beautifully written, clever, but not brilliant. More on that later. After some heavy reading (this, the Baldwin, the non-fiction, etc.), and a really sub-par historical novel, I may need something light before tackling The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. I gather it's a bit like having a finger wagged in your face, novelistically speaking. Hmmm.

Jan 10, 4:28pm Top

>76 Whisper1: - One could argue complacency and disengagement is how we got to this place and in this situation to begin with. Sadly, there are millions of people who can't afford to just ignore it all.

Jan 10, 4:33pm Top

>78 katiekrug: Although many of the same people DO still ignore it, even though they bear the brunt of disengagement. But yes, I tend to agree with you, while respecting everyone's decision to do what they wish vis-a-vis political involvement or lack thereof, whether or not I agree with it. We all have our own issues, time limitations and other hurdles. And until this last year, it had been many decades since I had been as politically active (vs engaged at a level of interest/following the issues/having opinions) as I am now. As a journalist, it's tricky. The sole benefit of having less work as a journalist, perhaps??

Jan 10, 4:47pm Top

I get different issues with time and such. But I don't get just disengaging and showing no interest - like that recent meme says, your insurance company, your bank, foreign governments, etc. certainly aren't disengaged.

But I shouldn't climb onto my soapbox on others' threads, so my apologies...

Jan 10, 5:03pm Top

Happened to note that the wonderful documentary about James Baldwin "I am Not Your Negro" will be shown on most Public Television Stations this month - in New York on Janurary 15th.

Lovely fascinating highly recommended

Jan 10, 5:39pm Top

>70 Chatterbox: Travelers in the Third Reich is my first book bullet of 2018 from you, Suzanne. That question of "what should people have known/realized" is a fascinating one to me. And has relevance today, even if not at the same level of consequences.

Edited: Jan 10, 9:34pm Top

>79 Chatterbox: as long as it's muted, and you don't wag your fingers in other people's faces, but confine it to MY face, that's OK. I refer you to my concept of this as primarily a literary salon. No Jacobin/Girondin conflicts here, that will be destined to end on the guillotine... :-)

>80 katiekrug: Yes, I REALLY want to watch that!! It's already available on either Netflix or one of my other streaming services, and I have been dithering about whether to watch that now, or to read some more Baldwin first. Advice? Thoughts? Watch first and read more later?

>81 magicians_nephew: It's a compelling question, and one to which there probably can never be a completely satisfactory answer -- which is precisely what makes it fascinating. I think we always want to imagine the best or hope for the best, and our instinct is to believe that we aren't seeing something catastrophic unfold. I remember in the summer after I completed college, I watched someone I was close to have the beginnings of what turned into the beginnings of what was some kind of mental breakdown or the surfacing of some kind of mental illness -- now so under control that he is a well-known political figure in Canada, so I won't name him here, as I don't know how public he is about this. I found him hacking the sole of his foot with a knife, convinced that someone was trying to drug him, for a complex set of reasons related to the university's governance. I didn't want to believe that I was seeing what I KNEW I was seeing, and it was hard to know what to do in response -- it was so far out of the realm of my experience. (After a lot more strange behavior over the year that followed, he had some kind of complete breakdown and received the right kind of treatment; he called me while I was living in Japan to apologize for some stuff that had happened during this episode.) And then there was 9/11 -- this surreal event. So, you see things that just don't fit into your understanding of "reality" and your mind wants to corral and contain and process them. I think it's much harder, in a way, without benefit of hindsight, to accept that people actually are plotting systematic genocide, rather than that -- oh, it's just a flareup of one of these European periods of anti-Semitism, like that in France during the Dreyfus affair. I'm talking about the early/mid 1930s, not post 1937, here. when stuff was getting uglier. And you could put it in the context of an overall crackdown on democratic rights, too. I don't know; it's tough to be honest and say of course I would have known, I think.

I've finished bringing my new book additions up to date. There are a lot of them, but thanks to two gift certificates I received from friends, and lots of NetGalley approvals, and some sale purchases, very few were full price purchases! Oh, and I've already read four of them, which is pretty good going.

Jan 11, 12:54am Top

I bought about six extra copies of On Tyranny, planning to seed my local Little Free Libraries with it. PM me a mailing address and I'll send you a copy if you'd like.

Travelers in the Third Reich is landing firmly on my wish list and I may try to obtain a copy in advance of US publication.

Jan 11, 4:40am Top

I've requested Travellers in the Third Reich from the library, I think my son might like to read it and I'll have a look too.
I've just looked through this Scottish Book Trust list of 2018 novels and have to say I could get all my year's reading from it. http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/blog/reading/2018/01/28-scottish-novels-to-look...

Jan 11, 1:02pm Top

>84 EBT1002: I love to see this. I gave out five copies as Christmas presents. On Tyranny is that sort of book IMO.

Edited: Jan 12, 12:44pm Top

Happy New Year, chatterbox! Dropping a star.

>70 Chatterbox: Travelers in the Third Reich sounds interesting. I'm listening to Bonhoeffer which is giving me a unique perspective on what the Church had to deal with when the Nazis came to power.

Jan 11, 2:25pm Top

>83 Chatterbox:

The previous behavior of your Canadian political man sounds like the undiagnosed Manic Depression which nearly did in the author of LAB GIRL.

Jan 11, 11:06pm Top

Good heavens! Clearly, On Tyranny is a must-read book. I had flagged it, but not realized the extent of the mass love for it... As soon as I receive the copy that Ellen has kindly offered me, I will bump it up my TBR list, and if possible, pass on the mass love...

>85 avatiakh: Kerri, you do some of the worst damage to my wishlist of anyone around here. I managed to add two or three books to it from this, and that was exercising some firm self-control. One was, of course, the new book by Kate Atkinson, and another caught my fancy: "Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Golden Samovar" (no touchstone yet, but out in January in the UK). Just so intriguing and different.

>87 brodiew2: Welcome to the fray! Bonhoeffer and all the others who resisted and who knew full well what price they would pay, continue to fascinate me. They could have found ways to equivocate, as many did, but refused. Are you reading the Metaxas bio? (The touchstone goes to the movie about him.) It is telling that we know so few names from that era who stood out among the religious community in that era, with Bonhoeffer and Niemoller chief among them, and that it was the small figures, individual priests, nuns, ministers, abbots, etc. who on their own authority and at great risk, took action to save people, and not the churches as institutions. To me, that has always said something about organized religion vs. religious individuals. Have you seen/watched the film by Costa-Gavras, "Amen"? It's "based on" a real individual, Kurt Gerstein, and over simplifies the role of the Vatican, but is worth watching all the same, as I think it captures some of this. However, it's also chilling and depressing (Well, Costa-Gavras pulls no punches and does the polemic thing very well...)

>88 m.belljackson: You know, you could well be right. I believe there are forms of manic-depression/bipolar that don't really have big down cycles, aren't there? Because he really didn't, until the very end. He was always just very super "high" and turbo-charged. (And still is, to some extent, except that now it comes across as more managed, and the kind of high energy, super confident affect that many men have.) At the time, the delusional aspects made me wonder about schizophrenia, but it wouldn't have been managed so well for so long, if so. I do know that he and his wife have chosen not to have children, and that this is one of the primary reasons. We were close friends in university (no more than that) but now are in touch only occasionally. Too much water under the bridge, I think: when one is very conscious of one's self image, and someone has seen one at one's very, very lowest point, it becomes a bit of an issue, I think. Plus, I think I'm just not the kind of person who is a natural "admirer" of people who have political ideas/agendas, and want supporters. I always like to engage in discussions and dialog. They've already got their ideas formulated, and assume that they are the smartest in the crowd. When they are your peers, and you've known them since the year dot, it's -- odd. *shrug* C'est la vie.


Good news on the NetGalley front. Madeline Miller FINALLY has completed a new book, a follow up (if not a sequel) to The Song of Achilles, called Circe, to be published in the first half of April (at least in the US; haven't checked the UK.) I was just approved for a NetGalley copy of that today!!!! Very exciting, as LT folks who were around back in 2011/2012 will remember that her debut novel (which took her ten years to write) was a fave of many of us (although some people were less impressed.) I really enjoyed it -- it won the Orange Prize in 2012. It only took her seven years to write the follow-up, so she is speeding up a little... :-)

SO MANY BOOKS TO READ!! And I have a migraine, which is affecting me. Grrr. I can't seem to find an appealing audiobook (the right blend of voice, book, ability to concentrate on book) to listen to and tolerate with the damn migraine, so must toddle over to Audible.

Jan 12, 1:11am Top

>89 Chatterbox: Well, I have to say when I saw the Miss Blaine book I thought of you! I liked the blurb for the Kirsty Gunn book, though I still haven't read her The Big Music and I have a slim novella, My Katherine Mansfield Project to read too.

Jan 12, 4:25am Top

I jump in, well behind the eight ball, to say happy new year/new thread. I have ben reading up a storm in 2018, thanks to giving up drinking/summer BBQing/ holidaying (and the selection of manageable books thus far).

I have been following the news of the content of the trump book, and can scarcely believe that it has been swallowed by in the latest ridiculous utterances from the man himself. I feel like there is an alternate universe in the White House at present, oh to be a fly on the wall....

Sorry to hear about your migraine, and that your books are calling through it all! I was in a book jam the other day (I worked though it here on LT with Berly ;), and as usual, it just takes *one* book to get you going again. Of course, which one is the *right* one is the issue, right!? :0

Jan 12, 8:02am Top

That's excellent news about the Song of Achilles sequel! Loved the first one tons.

Jan 12, 2:26pm Top

LitHubDaily for January 12, 2018 has a link to the Los Angeles Review of Books
with an excellent delve into why Hillbilly Elegy is so popular among Red States.

Jan 12, 4:37pm Top

>90 avatiakh: Yes, the Kirsty Gunn book appealed too, but I haven't read The Big Music yet either, so I had to talk myself down from that one.

>91 LovingLit: Oh, Trumpworld. AND there's the fact that the new Medicaid rules will mean that states can require disabled people to work in order to obtain healthcare. Isn't that a catch-22?? I just want to bash my head against a wall. Aside from the fact that it would make my head hurt more.

>92 scaifea: I thought you'd be interested in that, Amber!

>93 m.belljackson: That's an interesting piece. Here's the link to the LA Times piece: https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/rebel-yale-reading-feeling-hillbilly-elegy/#!
I remember being fascinated by it when I first read it, at that superficial level (the glimpse into Trumpworld) and missing a lot of the nuances that the author of this piece points to, and the broader context, such as the whole Ohio debate about payday lending, which Vance glosses over. I was familiar with payday lending as an issue, but hadn't picked up on the way Vance simply twists that in his narrative. I feel kind of suckered...

Jan 12, 8:09pm Top

>94 Chatterbox: A very interesting article on Vance's book. When I read it, I didn't realize he worked for Thiel, but I definitely felt he wasn't done understanding who he was or where he came from. The familial and social dysfunction he describes isn't unusual - we have lots of memoirs that purport to show us where the writer came from and why he or she is messed up or a hero or both. The 'borderer' ethos he grew up with hasn't left him yet, and it makes sense to me that he identifies as a Republican in spite of the disservice the party does to the very people he came from.

Edited: Feb 20, 9:05pm Top

9. The Radicals by Ryan McIlvain

Ryan McIlvain didn't win me over with his debut novel, Elders, about two Mormon missionaries off in an unfamiliar environment and struggling to cope with each other, even if the writing itself was memorable. This book goes a step further: the writing is even better, and the ideas at the heart of the book are intriguing and some very memorable segments, such as the episode when several of the protagonists head off to Arizona to "save" one of the victims of a predatory corporate entity from losing her home, using Occupy-style tactics, only to have the group's own priorities take precedence over those of the woman they are allegedly are trying to save. McIlvain has a keen eye for irony of that kind and expresses it deftly. The problem is that the narrative arc sometimes veers off in strange directions, lurching abruptly in ways that I didn't always find convincing or that felt too contrived. This is definitely worth reading as a very well crafted, ironical view of the "resistance" and the struggle to find meaning; even if it doesn't quite realize its potential, it's a sign that Mcilvain is an author to watch. 4.2 stars.

10. Love in Idleness by Amanda Craig

The idea of reading a novel based on A Midsummer Night's Dream sounded inviting, though I wasn't quite sure how the author would turn a group of wealthy/affluent Brits on holiday in Tuscany into Shakespeare's characters. Certainly, if you're looking for a close comparison, there really isn't one, except for the four young Athenians (Hermia, Helena, Lysander and Demetrius), who have contemporary counterparts -- oh, and there's a Bottom counterpart of sorts, and some kind-of fairies, maybe. The rest of the modern-day characters don't really match any characters in the play and aside from the mad dash through the woods by the Athenians and a magic potion that ensures all comes right for those particular individuals, you can't really make a direct analogy. The rest is one of those "women's novels" -- dramatic tension between characters on vacation in gorgeous locale, only it doesn't work as well as many of those can. So, a mixed bag. 3.6 stars, and I'm being generous because some of the writing is reasonably good. Disappointing, though. Still, an inexpensive Kindle book purchased with a gift certificate I received.

11. Unholy Harmonies by Elizabeth Pewsey

Continuing my re-read of the Mountjoy series. Justinia, one of the clan, is living happily ever after with her husband Digby, in spite of predictions by the rest of the Mountjoy clan that the marriage would end in disaster. Only her mother, Celia, seems to love and adore Digby -- sometimes more than Justinia does, several years later, and now that they've moved to a village near Eyot called Unthrang. Digby is a control freak and a Philistine: he's intent on renovating their house, and also overhauling Eyot's cathedral choir, teaching them to sing crossover "tunes" that he can market to tourists, something that's stirring alarm among the many musical characters Pewsey creates in this series. Justinia isn't impressed by any of this, or by the fact that Digby doesn't want her leaving the house one night a week to join a local choir -- or resuming training her voice. Throw in some other very intriguing characters, from a middle-aged woman who studies parrots, a glamorous local landowner with an unusual line in "charity" work, a sexy dancer who gets stranded in Unthrang during the midst of one of its notorious fell winds, and Sylvester Tate (the famous cellist) and his housekeeper Lily, and you've got the recipe for a very turbulent time. A flavor of the books: Sylvester & Lily return home from shopping in the car, and see a bunch of people standing and watching the new arrival -- Issa, the dancer -- practicing on the village green. "Tai Chi, if I'm not mistaken," said Sylvester, handing a bag to Lily and going round to the back of the car to remove his cello. "Mind you, possibly a mistake to do it on the green in his posing pouch." "Very nice to look at," said Lily. "And if it gives Samuel Boot ((a stodgy village character)) a heart attack, why, so much the better. Needs livening up, this place. Coffee's ready." Later on, another new individual shows up in the village. "A sense of unreality crept over him. Unthrang, clearly, had more to it than you could possibly guess from the stark information in the AA handbook. Pop. 3,300 was all very well -- but 3,300 what? Witches, he decided, and, taking a towel, he went in search of the bathroom." It's that kind of deadpan, flippant style that amuses and entertains me. 4 stars.

12. The Black Hand by Will Thomas (finished 1/12/18) 3.5 stars

The next in this series, which is entertaining enough, if not extraordinarily gripping or unputdownable. In this book, Barker and Llewellyn must deal (surprise, surprise) with the Sicilian mafia. Unfortunately, several of the plot turns are telegraphed well in advance, and much of the interest comes from the background color and the developments in the lives of the two main characters, rather than from any suspense in the narrative, which is minimal. It's mildly interesting. This was a library book and it can now go back to the Athenaeum.

13. The Way of the Writer: Reflections on the Art and Craft of Storytelling by Charles Johnson (finished 1/12/18) 4.1 stars

Well, after reading this, I feel suitably chastened about the REST of my reading. I am reading lightweight, unserious books that don't even aspire to be Literature or works of importance, and Johnson is fairly scathing and dismissive about that. He also is fairly damning about those who write them, while adopting a somewhat condescending tone and acknowledging that people have to pay their rent, and send their kids to college. Good of him. In between being irritated, I found tidbits that were fascinating, such as the need to pay intense attention to the craft of writing, and not just dash off a draft and assume you're done. i happen to agree with him -- but I do wish his tone had been less condescending. There's also a considerable amount of repetition here. Yes, I GET that John Gardner was his mentor, but that was for a period of 10 years, and it ended with Gardner's death 35 years ago. Meanwhile, Johnson himself has been teaching for three decades. Can't he just step out from Gardner's shadow a bit more? Also, while the input from philosophy, from Aristotle to Husserl, was interesting, it was overkill, and for those with no background at all, will be alienating. This felt like a book by someone who IS a very good writer and novelist trying to work far harder than required to remind readers of this. I wished I could tell him to relax a bit, and to be less didactic and dogmatic. By the end, I felt harangued. 4.1 stars; still worth reading, I suppose.

Jan 12, 11:51pm Top

>95 ffortsa: Those are all good points. I know when I first read the book, I approached it with a narrow objective: to try and understand that world. Now that I'm learning more about the broader context (both his, and the subject), I feel a bit as if I should have been a more demanding reader the first time around and that he should have been a more self-demanding author. The first of those, at least, is a reasonable "ask"; perhaps the second isn't, given that as you point out he's still in the process of developing a sense of identity and clarifying his relationship to where he came from. There's a kind of vested interest in not making his achievement "special", because if it is, then he becomes some kind of elitist, or puts himself outside his community, and says of others that they aren't as good as he is. Which is a tough thing to do if you come from a tightly-knit community -- it has a real cost. But to say anyone can do it is, I think, a fallacy. Even if they make the right choices. As you point out, the system just isn't set up to help them manage to achieve that. I hope that makes sense. I'm kind of thinking out loud here.

Not sure what to read next. Not ready to read Circe. Maybe I'll stick out my tongue at Charles Johnson and read a bunch of mysteries??

Jan 13, 10:42am Top

>96 Chatterbox: There's a time and place for "lightweight" books. Sometimes we need to de-stress!

Jan 13, 11:16am Top

Really great reviews, Suzanne. Thanks for taking the time to write them.

I've been away from LT for a few days, so I don't want to derail this thread by returning to the Trump conversation. I appreciated reading everyone's incisive thoughts.

>67 Oberon: Agree!

"But I am a city council member, it can't be illegal!"

In addition to the stupidity, politics attracts people who are attracted to power. Pettiness gets unleashed, especially at lower levels of government, because power-hungry people feel like they are stuck in too-low positions. So, you see even more harassment and abuses of authority at state and local levels than you do in the federal government (which, of course, is a cesspool.)

>98 thornton37814: What Lori said. I can almost physically feel when my brain needs lighter fare. And I can tell when it's ready for something more toothsome again, too. Good job, brain!

Jan 13, 12:50pm Top

>97 Chatterbox: I would guess that as he is rich, well-educated at a 'liberal' school, and married to a woman from outside his region, he's already judged as an elitist by at least some portion of his original peers, and indeed may feel more alienated from them than he admits. I didn't get the feeling that he thought anyone could climb as he has - he stresses so much luck in his own life. But for that very reason, he should be more understanding of the need for society - near or far - to lend a hand.

The book really petered out for me, precisely because he offered no meaningful way forward.

Jan 13, 7:19pm Top

>96 Chatterbox:

And, sometimes "lightweight, unserious books" are the very best that the writer can do at that point in time or ever.
Not everyone can be Shakespeare
and many of us have never heard of Charles Johnson.

Edited: Jan 13, 7:25pm Top

>96 Chatterbox: I need to read more of Elizabeth Pewsey's books. I have only read one of hers, Children of Chance, and greatly enjoyed it. Thank you for the reminder!

Jan 13, 8:45pm Top

>78 katiekrug: I agree Katie. I'm not out of the loop of what is happening. I'm very concerned. I simply can't watch tv each day to learn about the latest antics of Trump. Personally, I think the swamp is not drained. It is rather mucky and ugly and this increases day by day. I can't stand to listen to his speaking patterns of repeating, repeating and then repeating the same phrase again and again in a sentence. There are worse things than speech patterns.

Jan 13, 11:16pm Top

>99 libraryperilous: Thanks for the thoughts, Diana, especially on the local politics front. Your comments made me wonder whether the petty power trips by people in that position might be precisely because they have aspirations, but know that they are exercising the most power that they will ever have access to, because they simply don't have what it takes to rise any higher. So, in a way, the ugliness is worse because of disappointed aspirations as well? Somewhere inside, they know that they really aren't all that better than their friends and neighbors; that little separates them from them except this position/title. Whereas someone who is more confident, who has risen further and been more acknowledged, doesn't need to resort to heavy-handed displays of power to tell people, "look, I'm important!!" (I, too, will refrain from musing about what all this says about our president; heaven help us...)

>100 ffortsa: Yes, good points, although I have begun to find that the absence of meaningful solutions is fairly characteristic of books of this ilk, or political books in general. Even among books that follow up their diatribes with "solutions", many feel like bromides, or strike me as simplistic. Or perhaps I'm getting cynical in my old age??

>101 m.belljackson: I wasn't that familiar with Johnson either, other than that one of his novels, Middle Passage, had won the National Book Award. Ironically, he may end up being better known for his mentor (Gardner) and some of his students (David Guterson), than in his own right, and as you can tell, his tone rather grated on me. That said, some of his points about writing (however didactic) were interesting and informative, and the descriptions of some of the writing exercises he uses with his students were interesting.

Re lightweight and unserious reading -- yes, I just have to tilt that way right now. I have the new Arundhati Roy novel here, and must finish that, but I feel as if she is wagging her finger in my face, politically speaking, through her characters. So I've turned to C.K. Stead's The Necessary Angel (a book bullet from Kerri, fetched back from NZ by my friend Laurie), and then I have an ARC of an upcoming thriller, and some series mystery novels. Oh, and a lightweight book that could also go back to the library.

Of course, I also have some work to do with what's left of the long weekend, AND I wrote a rant about Mr. Trump's "shithole nations" comment on Facebook that a bunch of serious journalist friends are now urging me to turn into an op-ed and pitch to places. So...

>103 Whisper1: I don't have cable any more, so I am free from any "temptation" to follow the daily doings of Trump and his swamp things. I will read the highlights online in a couple of sensible publications to stay informed, and sometimes listen to NPR, which doesn't try to whip up hysteria in their tone (Morning Edition or their late afternoon show, All Things Considered, not the talk shows). After that, I'll just delve more deeply into what interests me or seems most important. But I stay away from the sound of THAT VOICE.

>102 alcottacre: They are all available very cheaply on Kindle now. They are a hoot, although not for those who get terribly bent out of shape by casual references to sex, etc. It's not explicit, but all of Pewsey's (adult) characters have active and enjoyable sex lives, and I rather like the fact that she doesn't ignore that this is part of human nature. The people who abuse this (like Valdemar and to a lesser extent, Digby in the most recent book) eventually get their comeuppance, as Valdemar is getting, in spades, in the current book I'm listening to, Volcanic Airs.

Jan 14, 8:24am Top

>89 Chatterbox: Glad to hear about Circe being due for release. I loved Song of Achilles!

>96 Chatterbox: I think that there is a place in the world for all types of books, not just literary fiction. There are many people who enjoy just a specific genre and if literary fiction was all that was available then those people might just not read at all. I'd rather people be able to read whatever they like as long as that means they will continue to read.

Jan 14, 10:24am Top

>101 m.belljackson:, >105 ChelleBearss: Agree. I think people also often conflate a work's social importance with a work's personal importance. I think you can find nuggets of truth about the human condition in most art. Or, you might be the kind of person who doesn't relate to any kind art at all, but you like to talk to people at your local diner. I'd never claim that Ellery Adams writes as well as Zola, but I'd never mock anyone who says they learn from Adams' books.

There was a heated debate on Book Riot about something similar a few years ago. Someone listed Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey on their must-read list. They're popular titles, and his definition of well-read included keeping up with the Jones' reading tastes. I've no plans to read either of those books, and I have concerns about the tropes of abuse I've heard are in both of them. But most of the women complaining were just, "Ugh, no, I'm way too smart and confident to need to read those drippy books." It was very bad feminism on display.

>104 Chatterbox: Yes, definitely agree. Hell hath no fury like a petty, power-mad politician mired on the local city council. Or, god help us all, elected as the local sheriff.

This is my favorite story from 2017's elections. Run for all the somethings!

Jan 14, 12:52pm Top

>104 Chatterbox:

Can you transfer your Shithole Heard Round the World rant from Facebook?

Jan 14, 1:33pm Top

>107 m.belljackson: Here you go. Two friends that work at/contribute to the NYTimes want to place it there. They don't work on the edit page, though, so we'll see. I've rewritten it/refined it, but this is the original rant:

Our president would like more immigrants from Norway, since it's not a "shithole", by which I assume he means that not only is it full of nice Aryan people, but they are wealthy, energetic, and able to contribute to their new country. Let's further expose his racism, shall we?

Back in the mid-19th century, when my great-great grandfather Christian Pedersen was growing up, Norway was recovering from the mass starvation and privation of the Napoleonic wars. It had no banks. It had no daily newspapers. The richest man in the country sent his laundry TO ENGLAND to be properly laundered and starched. Christian seems to have been a farmer on a relatively small plot of land, in Østfold. Then he died, leaving a widow and several children. His son, Martin, left for the United States along with my seven-year-old great grandmother, Julia, part of a large scale emigration from what remained by far the poorest country in western Europe: the continent's "shithole" in the 1880s, thanks to changes in its economy, globalization and a flatlining agricultural and fishing sector. Had emigration not been an outlet, starvation would have claimed more lives, as happened in 1812. To many, it probably felt like a shithole they wanted to leave.

Many of my ancestors could have been described as undesirable immigrants fleeing shitholes. Who really wants an illiterate Irish blacksmith, even if he is Protestant rather than Catholic? Or yet MORE Scots fleeing the blight that had descended on much of that country (outside the professional classes in Edinburgh) in the 18th century. My Douglass ancestors lost 7 of their 10 children on the voyage to a new life in the United States in the decade or so before the revolutionary war. I suspect they'd agree they left a shithole, even if it was one that they called home. John McGee, my great-great-great grandfather, seems to have been born to a father who was an itinerant farm worker, given that every one of his siblings was born on a different local farm. JUST the kind of background for superior immigrants, right?

So what's the difference here? Yup, you've nailed it. Race. None of my ancestors had the "wrong" skin color. Many of them were certainly fleeing the same kind of poverty that today's "economic migrants" want to leave behind; some probably confronted other forms of hostility in their native lands. (Including my Puritan ancestors, who arrived not very far from where I live now, nearly 400 years ago.) But if they were all white, at least some of them seemed to have less to offer (on the surface) than those potential immigrants the president seems to despise. A 7-year-old girl from Norway? What was her value? Whereas a family of farm workers from El Salvador contribute to ensuring that the country's agricultural sector functions; their children -- if they are lucky -- may get educations that open new doors to them, as has been true for generations of other immigrants. Hopefully we haven't yet closed off ALL of those possibilities. Immigrants from Nigeria? The country is one of the most vibrant in Africa, even if it is wracked with internal political problems, the legacy of colonial rule exacerbated by geopolitical woes. Just go for a stroll through Queens, New York, to see how immigrants from these and other corners of the world work far harder than any of us -- with our privileged backgrounds and Norwegian ancestors -- could imagine, and look at what they contribute.

If I wanted to live in a country that looked like Norway, I'd move there. Had Julia Amelia Christiansen and her older brother seen a future for themselves in Norway 140 years ago, they would have stayed there. But it was a European shithole, and so they left for a place they thought that being a Norwegian wouldn't condemn them to being a second-class citizen.

We should be long past the idea that where someone comes from tells us whether they are a first-class person from a high-class country, or a second-class individual from a "shithole." We've managed, finally, to absorb the Irish and the Catholics. We're nearly there with the Jewish immigrants and the descendants of Chinese laborers. It's long past time that this extended to people with a different skin hue. I'd like to think that Julia Amelia Christianson (dead in her 30s of appendicitis, just after my grandfather's second birthday) would agree with me. As befits a little girl of seven who fled the shithole of Norway with only her 18-year-old brother, she was a strong woman, whom relatives remember for climbing onto the roof of a farmhouse (long skirts and all) to put out a chimney fire while all the men stood around and yelled and dithered. Growing up in a "shithole" makes you resourceful and resilient -- the characteristics required of any immigrant, no?

My apologies for the long rant, but I'm -- angry? livid? furious? hopping mad? (select word of choice...)

Jan 14, 1:55pm Top

>108 Chatterbox:

So STRONG!!! - keep going > one more paragraph to wrap it up, maybe with how race and immigrant hatred blocks The American Dream...

Edited: Jan 14, 2:37pm Top

Indirectly that's part of what I included in the rewrite. I sent it to a friend who has been a New York Times contributor for a while and who is in the midst of making final changes to her own book right now and she suggested another few alterations that I could make to strengthen it. She also noted that the maximum length for a nyt piece is 950 words, so I will have to do a fair amount of trimming to make it work. That won't hurt it any as even the new version is a bit repetitive. It needs to be much tighter and punchier and not and not ever fall back on a cliche. Still, it's all doable. Just waiting to hear back from the friend who works at the Times. We'll see.

Jan 14, 3:53pm Top

>108 Chatterbox: Very thoughtful piece Suzanne.

Jan 14, 6:06pm Top

Agreed. I really hope you can get this in the Times so the story gets out in front of the nation.

Jan 14, 10:49pm Top

I would love to see this published to a broader audience.Great that you have contacts to prod!

Jan 15, 9:40am Top

Good luck! It's a great rant, deserving of a wider audience.

He's an unmitigated disaster and I hate him.

Jan 15, 1:55pm Top

Still have to get the time to cut it down, and then waiting on my NYT friend/former colleague's new e-mail address, so I don't have to send it to him via FB.

Jan 15, 9:01pm Top

Oh I so hope you can get this into the NYT! I'm rooting for you.

Jan 15, 9:06pm Top

Go, Suz!!

Jan 20, 12:41am Top

Good news about a new book by Madeline Miller. I so loved The Song of Achilles.

>108 Chatterbox: Go Suzanne, go! I hope you send that in and that it gets published.

Jan 20, 4:20pm Top

Coming here to report that I loved The Lost Pages - 'Peričić has drawn us into a world of Kafka's making rather than the world where Kafka lived'

Jan 21, 2:02pm Top

Hope you are doing ok!

Jan 21, 8:19pm Top

I made my final arrangements for Denver. I still have not heard from Abbey so will e-mail her tomorrow and find out what is going on. I will let you know, so you can make your arrangements as well. I hope that the trip to Denver is still a go for you.

Edited: Jan 22, 1:16am Top

Thanks for checking in, Chelle!

Kerry, I will try to bump up The Lost Pages, but I have a lot of Amazon Vine ARCs and library books to read now... I did read The Necessary Angel and loved the writing, but feel I missed something in the focus of hte plot. I felt as if some of it drifted past me somewhat. I need to try to pull together my thoughts about the book. But I loved the writing, and his ability to develop (some of his) characters. I'm not convinced he does a brilliant job with female characters, and that may be the problem? Hmm. You need to drop by Boston for a week sometime so we can sit and talk about books!

Benita, I'm about 85% a "go" for this. Our book circle will meet in NYC the night before I'd leave, and I think I can swing this. It's just the timing of everything, and coordinating having a place to stay the Thursday night when I arrive, etc. etc. I'd probably take a red-eye back to Boston. Blech. But it would mean I was there for the tear-down on Monday. Hope to sort out the flights tomorrow. I've decided that I won't go to New Orleans (I'll count on you to book scrounge for me there!!) so this will be it....

Oh, I have just finished reading Trumpocracy, by David Frum, and it is brilliant. It is as scathing as Wolff's book, but infinitely more substantive. It's also a hopeful call to arms. Is that optimism justified? I don't know. It is if we make it so, right? Which is his argument, that it is up to citizens to act and respond -- from voting, to simply THINKING rationally and judging. We get the government we deserve. His analysis -- and it is an analysis -- is damning in the extreme. For much of the book you don't get any sense of his own political views. Anyone reading it would say, oh, this guy is a flaming liberal, and it isn't until the final pages that he makes it clear that actually, he'd favor tax cuts if they weren't regressive (i.e. if they didn't widen the wealth gap) and many other GOP policies -- he has settled in a philosophical place that essentially that of an Eisenhower Republican. He makes what I think is a very crucial point -- that if we and the political establishment end up doing end runs around a president who is incapable, disinterested, etc., or who we despise, that may be delightful and a relief NOW, but what happens when someone decides that it's OK to do it to the next president? It's the precedents that are being established; what we are coming to think of as being "normal", that is terrifying. This is a MUST READ BOOK if you have any interest in politics. You can get most of what you want/need to know from Wolff's book from the articles about it, but compared to this book, that feels like People magazine journalism. 5 whole-hearted stars.

My migraines have been bad. Blech.

Jan 22, 1:19am Top

Time to do some more mini reviews but that will have to wait until I get some work done; I'm behind. Apologies. Last week was not a good week. I got caught up in a "live shooter" situation at the Providence mall on MLK Day (last Monday); I have been dealing with PTSD since September 11, and have had serious nightmares and stuff since this event as a result. I posted on my FB page but not here until now. I hope this isn't an omen for how 2018 will go!! Anyway -- am behind on work. Am still dealing with migraines. Blah blah blah.

Jan 22, 8:18am Top

>123 Chatterbox: That sounds like a scary situation to be in, and with bad consequences for you as well. I really hope things will improve for you! Wishing you strength.

Edited: Jan 22, 6:03pm Top

>122 Chatterbox: Maybe I will give Trumpocracy a look to I am not a big fan of Frum.

Seems like he rode the GOP gravy train as long as he could and then just turned his coat bite the hand that had fed him, when he saw more $$$$$ in that.

Was it the loathsome Bill O'Reilly who said he became a conservative "journalist" because there was too much competition for berths on the Liberal journalist camp? Frum sort of reminds me of that. But he can write.

Edited: Jan 22, 7:32pm Top

Hello chatterbox!

>89 Chatterbox: I'm so sorry for the late response. Yes, it is the Metaxas bio. Bonhoeffer has just been arrested and I am entering the home stretch. It has truly been seeing the Rise of National Socialism though the eyes of man who loved God and fought to preserve Christianity and the Jews in his homeland. It is at once heartbreaking and encouraging. I have not see the film 'Amen', but I recall tv movie from the 80s called the 'Scarlett and the Black' (Gregory Peck), which focused on a Catholic priest who defied the Pope to help Jewish and other refugees during the war.

Jan 22, 8:21pm Top

>125 magicians_nephew: I dunno; Frum gave me precisely the opposite sense. Perhaps because I know a lot about his background/family history, so I have no trouble believing that he would hit a point where the idiocy would just trigger some cognitive dissonance. He has always been a bit of an idealist/thinker, and I don't think he has abandoned many of his conservative ideas about what policies would be good for the country (reading between the lines.) For instance, he refers to an essay he wrote (which I remember reading) about how he ended up deciding to vote for Hillary, in which he said that he shared relatively few of her policy priorities, but shared most of her values and principles. Now, I'm not sure how he puts that together, logically, but be that as it may, the result was that he voted for a candidate who wasn't going to promise to do things like cut taxes (which he believed/believes is good for the country) but who would be effective and principled when it came to governing and respect the rule of law itself, which Trump wouldn't. I suppose that I have met so many people who have divided themselves so firmly into camps that it's refreshing to encounter someone who abandons a camp, but doesn't rush headlong into the other camp. And I don't think he's cozying up to the Young Turks and their ilk, either.

But for me, the bottom line was that as long as I've known about him (which is since he was a teenager that his mother talked about privately as being a kid who just kind of discovered conservative thinking and never outgrew it), I've always heard him described as being an idealist, while everything he's read -- even when it has made me hopping mad -- has been carefully written and logically assembled. So I really don't think this is opportunism. There are plenty of folks against whom I WOULD level that accusation -- I'll give you a list sometime, if you want! -- but Frum wouldn't have been on it.

And this is an interesting book. I'm actually going to have to invest in a hard copy, if I can find one on sale, to supplement the audiobook.

>126 brodiew2: "The Scarlet and the Black" was a great classic movie. "Amen" is much grittier, and more of a conspiracy/suspense feel to it, rather than an adventure plot (will Gregory Peck outwit the bad Nazis? Of course he will, because he's Gregory Peck! It doesn't mean it's not a fabulous film, just that it's a wee bit predictable on that score.)


Finished reading The Woman in the Window, by A.J. Finn, speaking of old suspense movies. The main character is addicted to them, and she's an agoraphobic, and there's a "Rear Window" homage going on. It's really suspenseful while you're reading it, and then you look back and realize what the author has done, and it's less "wow!" but it's worth the buzz, and will make a great movie. And there is LOTS of buzz. I think it comes out this week or next. Yes, it probably WILL be this year's The Girl on the Train and I think it's better. I missed one of the twists. And some of the others I didn't want to see, even though one of them I did get.

Jan 23, 7:39am Top

>127 Chatterbox: I wondered how the Finn book was. I may read it later in the year. Depends on what other books grab me more.

Jan 23, 8:41am Top


Thanks for the impressions on David Frum - I iwll have to read his book now

Jan 23, 10:58am Top

Hi, Suzanne! I'm sorry to hear about the active-shooter situation that you got mixed up in. I can't imagine being in that position but it can't be easy when it brings back so many awful memories and emotions. I hope the aftereffects ease up for you very soon.

I stopped by to ask if you've heard any of the NPR series they've been doing on "Morning Edition" this week about the growing number of contract/freelance workers in the U.S., and the difficulties they face? It's been quite absorbing and I'd love to hear your perspective as someone who deals with all that directly. Today's report was about the lack of a social safety net in terms of health insurance, retirement benefits, unemployment insurance, etc. The first report said 20 percent of the U.S. workforce is in contract work, and it's predicted to rise to as much as half in the next decade. Here's a link to the series page if you're interested: https://www.npr.org/series/579833363/the-rise-of-the-contract-workers

Jan 23, 11:36am Top

>123 Chatterbox:

Hope that the shooter incident brings less PTSD than September 11th - last thing you needed was another reason for a migraine.

Jan 23, 11:49am Top

>123 Chatterbox: So sorry to see you were there during that situation. Hope you are starting to be able to relax and read.

Jan 23, 6:46pm Top

Honestly? I have left the house ONCE since that happened, to go grocery shopping with a friend. The migraines are bad and I'm just anxious. I can't relate it as directly to that mall situation, which, after all, was quickly resolved and not directly traumatic, but I feel unnerved about what this is doing to my little world. Haven't even been to the Athenaeum since just after Christmas, between the weather, headaches and now this.

Which is why I finally decided that I would go to the ALA Midwinter event in Denver. I cannot just sit here like a bump on a log.

>130 rosalita: Thanks for the link to the series. I'll listen to it, although that is my world! I joke about my retirement plan being assisted suicide, but it's not really a joke. Here's one fact: If you are an employee, and your employer offers a 401(k) plan, you can contribute nearly three times as much to that plan, tax free, as you can if you are a contract worker and your only option to invest in a tax-free retirement plan is an IRA. Is that equitable? No, it isn't. Contract workers don't have access to 401(k) plans, and however much they earn, they can't save TAX-FREE for retirement. Which means any of their retirement savings are taxed, and they are penalized for simply being contract workers. To be equitable, the deductions for IRA contributions for workers who don't have 401(k) plans need to be dramatically increased. Instead? Congress actually talks about slashing tax-free contributions to 401(k) plans. The mind reels.

That's the tip of the iceberg. Yes, then there's health insurance. The ONLY reason I have insurance this year is that my estimated income is so low. If it increases above a certain level, I won't be able to afford premiums again (devil's dilemma...)

Contract/freelance work is presented as a great way to give workers flexibility -- and it is. BUT there are a lot of tradeoffs, and companies benefit disproportionately from those. AND once you have spent too long doing contract work, it is exceptionally difficult to have anyone consider you for a full time position -- you are penalized and viewed as being too "independent-minded." I now won't even consider applying for those jobs, having been through that six years or so ago. Skepticism, etc. etc. Why do you want a full-time job? Well, why does ANYONE want a full-time job? Stability, benefits, etc. The assumption is that if we were any good at what we do, we wouldn't NEED a full-time job. Whereas actually, at that time, heading toward 50, I had recognized the impact of the insurance, retirement benefits (lack of), etc. on my wellbeing. And companies have a vested interest in bidding down the price of services to utterly absurd levels. I don't know if I mentioned here that I was offered payment in PerksCoin -- a kind of digital currency with no tradeable market value as yet -- in exchange for writing feature articles. Even IF the real value of the digital currency was as they had claimed, the price for the work was absurdly low, but even then I could really only use it to purchase cannabis products (illegally, since I couldn't ship them to Rhode Island without problems using the mail system). So it's actually just a fancy form of barter for something that they assume I want or need, with no evidence of that at all. Now, I might barter with my landlord, or the utility company, or even the cable company. (I did swap a rent discount for sharing my Internet code with the Airbnb tenant upstairs.) But this?

Oh dear, rant alert.

>128 thornton37814: I do have a spare ARC of the Finn thriller. I have tentatively offered it to a friend; if she doesn't take me up on it, I'd be happy to send it on to you. I'll keep you posted.

Jan 23, 8:20pm Top

>133 Chatterbox: We got it at our library so I can easily get it in a short time. Hardly anyone ever uses the "reserve" feature in our academic library.

Jan 23, 10:14pm Top

>133 Chatterbox: As I was listening to the series, several of the things people talked about made me say to myself, "Yep, that's what Suzanne was talking about!"

I first became aware of the contractor swindle (i.e. companies taking advantage of workers) in the newspaper business, when every paper I worked for switched their carriers and district circulation managers to being independent contractors instead of employees. Brutal hours and conditions, no sick pay, no benefits. No wonder there were constantly open routes even in a recession!

I hope as th number of contract employees continues to rise there will be critical mass demanding change. At a minimum, health insurance that isn't tied to an employer and the ability to properly save for retirement need to happen.

Jan 24, 12:47pm Top

>135 rosalita: If we can keep Obamacare, and it can be adjusted so that not just premiums are affordable, but deductibles aren't absurd (i.e. that the only policy you can afford doesn't have absurdly high deductibles), then that's something.

But the retirement crisis -- and it's a big nasty looming MASSIVE problem that I think people aren't talking about yet, but it's going to dwarf everything else in about 15 years -- is a big challenge. By then, people with no pensions will be retiring and have inadequate 401(k) savings (if they have savings at all). The GOP want to cut back Medicare and Medicaid and "entitlements". The thing is, you can't just tell people to save, and not give them the ability (the right vehicles, enough access) and the education (how to make the right choices, don't withdraw/borrow against your 401(k) plan). And yet that is just what happened, because companies didn't want pension obligations on their books. I can understand the latter, but this is going to be a complete catastrophe. And by then there will be enough very, very poor people out here to make common cause against "the system." This is like watching a hurricane system move slowly and inexorably closer. And the contractor system just exacerbates the problem through a whole series of policies.

Incidentally am now listening to Boomsday by Christopher Buckley, a comic farce which is a riff on this -- so thanks for kinda prodding me to get it off my audio TBR. It's my second book by Buckley; the first was a comic farce set in the late 15th century, and this is more typical of his work and still very entertaining.

Jan 24, 6:18pm Top

The looming retirement crises really worries me, even though I have a job that comes with a pension (for which I put in 10% of my pay). I worry about women. Women over the age of 60, are set to become the biggest group of people officially in the ranks of the poor. That is because even though women do work, their work is undervalued (i.e. housework) and they work in jobs that are lower paying because these jobs are traditionally women's work (i.e. clerical/secretary). When women retire they are almost all dependent on getting Social Security based on the pay of their husbands' or their spouses pension plans. This means that women at the end of their life end up losing homes and other assets and suffer a loss of quality of life because they are poor. I worry about all of this, and it makes me angry when I try to talk to younger women about it - and they just don't see it.

Jan 24, 6:18pm Top

I have good news for those of you who will be going to, or thinking about attending, the American Library Association Mid-Winter conference in Denver, Colorado from February 10 - 12, 2018. Librarything is going to pay for passes to the Exhibit Hall. Once again, Tim Spaulding will be at the ProQuest booth on the Exhibit Hall floor, so if you sign up for the free passes, please take time to find him and say thanks. Here is the link for the passes.

Free exhibit hall passes, yes, we were able to get them from ProQuest again this year:
complimentary Exhibit Hall Only registration badge:
https://www.compusystems.com/servlet/ar?evt_uid=335&oi=f7TMsNUASN3HoIiGjo9vog%3D%3D&company_code=V132 ProQuest Exhibitor VIP Code: V132

I hope that those of you who live within driving distance of the Denver Convention Center will attend. This is a great chance to get free ARC (Advance Reader's Copy) of books that will be published in the next three to four months. It is also a way to get nice books very cheaply, as not all of the books on the Exhibit floor are free. You can use the visit to talk with publishers about what is coming out, and there are always authors in the booths of the various publishers to sign copies of the books.

If any of you are interested in a meet-up let me know. I was thinking that we could meet for supper on Saturday, February 10, 2018 someplace close to the Convention Center. If there is interest in gathering to talk about books I will set up a separate thread for the group where we can post about our plans and I can give you tips about how to find things on the exhibit floor and, of course, start finding a place to meet.

Jan 24, 9:48pm Top

>136 Chatterbox: - I am a bit of a Christopher Buckley fan - Florence of Arabia remains my favorite, I think.

Random/interesting fact: my parents met while working for his father at 'The National Review' in the late 1960s and remained close to the family; WFB, Jr. gifted them a complete OED for their wedding in 1970, a multi-volume set that I found endlessly fascinating as a kid - so many words!

Jan 24, 10:32pm Top

Oh my, I envy you the OED... I have Florence of Arabia on my Audible TBR list, too. It was the other one that sounded amusing (and was cheap during a sale.)

I'm up for a meetup, Benita -- at least, probably. It will depend a bit on what Terzah, my hostess, has planned and wants to do. I'll certainly invite her to join in, but I'll be staying with them in Longwood, which is a bit of a schlep in terms of of commutes if we leave the venue at different times, so...

Jan 25, 8:52pm Top

>137 benitastrnad:

One more thing that could help low and low middle class women over 60 is to reduce or eliminate Property Taxes for this bracket.

Jan 26, 1:58pm Top

The retirement crisis is serious and the hurricane is very nearly upon us.

Too many people - even before the "gig economy" - were just getting by and not putting anything aside for a rainy day -- because they didn't have anything to put by. (And these were not people blowing it on fancy cars and mink stoles either.)

Going to be bad and I don't see a great solution

Jan 26, 11:15pm Top

Well, we'll all have a lot of company underneath the underpasses?

For now... I have just finished The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. The plot was frustratingly meandering and ambiguous and not in a good way. The writing was superb. So I ended up with 3.5 for the plot, and a full point for the writing, and mushing it out to about 4.3 stars. It was a weird reading experience to read a novel that meanders and and has all these longueurs, and whose author hectors, but that has such superb writing. Sigh.

Edited: Jan 28, 8:57pm Top

I put down my star and then never visited. All caught up now and I enjoyed many of the discussions on your thread.

The pending retirement of contract workers is a big concern as is the plight of many senior women. I didn't realize that the rules for saving for retirement were so different for people not considered employees but then our system here is based less on the free market system and has a more liberal outlook on social issues. That being said, I still would not want to be a retired freelancer.

Jan 29, 11:53pm Top

Hurrah -- after finishing and really enjoying the Christopher Buckley romp Boomsday, I just found on NetGalley that I have been preapproved to read Buckley's upcoming novel, which is another historical book, like his satire involving Durer and a peddlar of fake relics. It's called The Judge Hunter, and involves the quest for the regicides during the reign of Charles II -- an intriguing topic that i've read both fiction and non-fiction about.

On a separate note; the event at the Athenaeum featuring Daniel Mendelssohn, author of An Odyssey: A Father, A Son and An Epic was great. He is a wonderful writer -- a vivid storyteller -- and I'm nearly halfway through the audiobook, listening to it slowly and carefully and savoring it all. He told me he wanted Bronson Pinchot to be the narrator after loving the job the latter did with The Lost, and I have to say that I agree; it's one of the best jobs of narration I've heard. That said, while I had meant to take my copy of his translation of Cavafy's poems in for him to sign, I forgot... So I bought a hardcover copy of the book as well. Sigh. I suppose it won't kill me. It has been a LONG time since I have done that. About the only time I buy books now is for book circle discussions when I really want to have a hard copy, and know I might want to keep it afterwards (as I did with the Baldwin, which is still, head and shoulders, the best novel I've read so far this year.)

Jan 30, 8:09am Top

Hi Suzanne, in case you still want to read it, I created a thread for the group read of Barkskins.

Jan 30, 8:54am Top

Oooh, a new Christopher Buckley. Throwing that on the wish list for when it comes out...

Jan 30, 4:14pm Top

>146 FAMeulstee: Have starred that, Anita... :-)

>147 katiekrug: Oh, I wish it weren't a NetGalley book, but will keep my eyes peeled in case there is an ARC floating around ALA for you, Katie...

Jan 30, 4:18pm Top

Oh, thanks! But if your bags, satchels, carts, arms, etc. get too full, feel free to sacrifice it :)

Jan 30, 5:33pm Top

>149 katiekrug: No worries. I suspect there will be some boxes mailed home. I also have e-mailed you the one galley guide I have received so far.

Can't remember who first mentioned Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Golden Samovar to me, but it just came out in the UK and is every bit as wacky as billed. A debut time-traveling mystery, but without a lot of buildup, so the heroine is plunged into her adventure and left to figure out for herself what her mission is -- which leads her to misinterpret everything to an absurd extent. (To say that the reader gets clues that she misses is to understate the matter to a massive degree...) But it's so ridiculous (imagine being rescued by giant balls of knitting, or the beak on an eagle on a samovar?) that this Wodehouse effect outweighs what otherwise would be clunkingly obvious and even ridiculous in a bad way. You just have to go with it. It's utterly unlike anything else I've ever read. What you think of it will depend on what you think of the Wodehouse school of humor, I suspect. Only out in the UK so far, but coming out here later in the year. Kerry/avatiakh, I think the blame for this belongs with you....

Jan 31, 6:44am Top

>145 Chatterbox: I've had to buy books just to get them signed, too. Too bad you couldn't get your own used copy signed...those generally have more sentimental value.

Edited: Jan 31, 2:18pm Top

>151 The_Hibernator: I always feel slightly guilty taking an ARC in to be signed, as that tells the author that I haven't paid for the book. But I don't mind taking an older book that has clearly been read and enjoyed in... As long as I'm taking up his/her time with something that has contributed to royalties!!

That's the sole downside of digital books/audiobooks -- the inability to really mark them up in a coherent/accessible way and to have someone sign or inscribe them. I have books that were gifts that I treasure because of the inscriptions; books that belonged to my grandfather and great-grandfather that have their names on the flyleaf; books that my late ex-bf gave me that has his comments on the text in the margins, that I still enjoy reading, as well as having autographed copies. It's something I miss with e-books. The reading experience, to me, is no different, quite honestly (unless I am reading a non-fiction book with lots of footnotes, and where I want to consult those and the index frequently, when it's just simpler to navigate a hard copy text.) But for all the ability to add notes on my Kindle books...

I did once worry about what happens to my Kindle books after I die -- who owns the rights? But then I realized that nobody will actually care for or cherish my books anyway, so it's completely academic. It's very, very hard to find takers for the books that I do want to de-accession.

Jan 31, 3:18pm Top

>133 Chatterbox: Suz, I am so sorry that the headaches/migraines are wicked again ... still. January, with daily ever changing barometric pressure, was a wicked month. Three fioricet tablets in one day was a new record. As you know it is a vicious cycle of taking medication and hoping there is no accompanying rebound headache.

What a great idea to attend the ALA Midwinter event in Denver. I hope that cheers you. And, that you find many great books to read.

All the best to you.

Jan 31, 5:35pm Top

>153 Whisper1: Hi Linda! Thanks for the visit... Yes, tomorrow I have to call the neurologist and schedule a visit. The beginning of a new month, my birthday, the need for a Fioricet refill before venturing off to Denver, etc. etc.etc. I feel as if I'm on a medication/headache rollercoaster, dealing with the lethargy impact of some of the anti-migraine meds, and the headaches themselves. It's a long-term war, like the war on terror. Piffle.

The good news is that some of John Lawton's books were just released (re-released?) for audio, so I now have a few more options for listening to when I can't face reading, which is a Good Thing.

And I do have LOTS and LOTS of good books already, so I'm prepared for the worldwide book famine. Of course, it doesn't stop me coveting more by favorite authors, and new discoveries. For instance, there's a new Inspector Lynley book coming in a few months.

Edited: Feb 1, 4:46pm Top

>150 Chatterbox: That sounds very interesting! I think I would have to be in a certain frame of mind for that one

Jan 31, 8:40pm Top

>154 Chatterbox: I'm prepared for the worldwide book famine. I think there are a lot of us well placed if books become scarce. LOL

Jan 31, 11:49pm Top

Brief January recap (and yes, mini-reviews still to come...)

Total books read, 39, of which 8 were re-reads, including the six volumes of the Mountjoy series by Elizabeth Pewsey (all "read" this time as audiobooks.) Of these, 8 were non-fiction books.

Best books:

Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin
Trumpocracy by David Frum
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler


Travellers in the Third Reich by Julia Boyd
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy (for the writing, rather than the scattershot plot)

Thumping good reads:
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
The Hound in the Left-Hand Corner by Giles Waterfield

Probably would be included on this list if I had managed it to finish it in time:
An Odyssey: A Father, A Son and An Epic by Daniel Mendelsohn
(But I'm reading/listening to it very slowly, savoring it a little bit at a time. It's NOT a book to race through.)

Feb 1, 10:00am Top

Feb 1, 1:01pm Top

>158 katiekrug: Thank you, Ms. Katie... That looks like the stack of books beside me right now!

Feb 1, 2:25pm Top

HB HB!! Hope you're doing some celebrating.

Edited: Feb 1, 3:05pm Top

Just me and the cats. I'm being very organized today. I called the utility to get put on the level billing plan so I wouldn't have heart failure when opening gas and electric bills. I called the neurologist to schedule appointment and get med refills. I might even wash some dishes. And then I will take the garbage to the curb. Woot! Maybe I'll baptize my new Roku (provided by Amazon Vine) and watch a movie. Just realized I'm booked for something else at the Athenaeum tomorrow, so...

Feb 1, 3:56pm Top

Roku? What is it?

Feb 1, 4:47pm Top

Happy Birthday!! Have a good time relaxing with your movie. (The garbage can wait! )

Feb 1, 5:11pm Top

Happy Birthday, chatterbox! Enjoy the movie and let us know what you think of it.

Feb 1, 5:15pm Top

Garbage only goes out weekly, and my fellow tenants don't like rolling cans to curb, so nope, probably can't wait...

A Roku is a device that allows you to stream Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and other channels to your TV. Check it out via Google.

Feb 1, 7:34pm Top

Happy Birthday, Suz! I'm celebrating that you are in this world and part of this group.

Feb 1, 8:21pm Top

Happy birthday. Some of the best people are born in February.

Feb 1, 8:30pm Top

Happy birthday and hope you've found a good film to watch.

Feb 1, 11:51pm Top

Watched the movie based on "First They Killed My Father", which was all in Khmer! Very cheerful birthday stuff, no??

Feb 2, 2:31am Top

And then I finally started binge-watching the series "The Crown" and now see what all the fuss is about!

Feb 3, 4:52pm Top

Catching up here. Good review of the Frum -- I've been worrying about just that, all the precedents being set. Nuff said.

Happy late birthday and enjoy the ALA conference!

Feb 3, 5:03pm Top

Hsppy belated birthday from me too. Very envious of Denver, too!

Feb 5, 3:23am Top

>150 Chatterbox: Yes, the Miss Blaine is my bad. From the '28 Scottish Novels to Look Forward to in 2018' list I suggested you look at at the start of the year. http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/blog/reading/2018/01/28-scottish-novels-to-look...

Happy belated birthday from me too. I've been away for the past 9 days and not been able to keep up with LT.

Feb 10, 1:07am Top

Quick wave hello from Denver and ALA Midwinter. Day one (or rather the first evening) and I already have acquired 42 ARCs, which has stunned my friend Terzah's 11-year-twins into silence. Her son, Will, is a book addict like me, and he is doubly awed and envious. "That sounds like my kind of place," he says of the exhibition floor... Well, yup...

Another 8 books are destined for Marianne and two (so far) for Katie. And who knows what else will show up? I've got 80% of what I know I want, so the rest is just icing on the cake.

Hope to see the LT crowd briefly tomorrow, and my cousin and her husband for dinner on Sunday, and then the red-eye home on Monday night. The books are logged and I'll post a list here eventually. As always, far more than the galley guides lead you to expect...

Feb 10, 11:39am Top

Have a great time and enjoy the meetup!

Edited: Feb 10, 11:41am Top

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Feb 10, 12:58pm Top

>174 Chatterbox: Sounds like a fabulous & fruitful visit! I am glad you decided to go.

Feb 10, 6:50pm Top

42? 42. Wow, I need to go to one of these... next summer’s in DC!

Feb 10, 7:10pm Top

Having to skip the meetup -- my head is bad and I'm absolutely exhausted. I'm going to log my haul for today and crawl into bed (it's 5 p.m. and I'm already back in Longwood...) i'm dehydrating very, very rapidly and easily, which is a big problem for me, and I only got about 3 hours of solid sleep last night, for unknown reasons. Oh well...

Feb 10, 7:54pm Top

>174 Chatterbox: well, that sounds like all you could hope for and more!

Shame about missing the meet up, what a hassle!!! 3 hours sleep is definitely not enough. Yikes. I woke up early this morning, and had no idea if it was just after midnight, or just before dawn....but I enjoyed listening to the rain on the roof. I love that sound. Even though it meant the cancellation of our three planned events for today- well, the nerf war went ahead anyway- just with us and one neighbour though. It was fun :) I hope you rest up and when feel like you need an uplift- just look at your stack of books!

Feb 12, 1:06am Top

Apparently the dehydration is related to the altitude here -- go figure. Now that I know I have to plan around it, I do. I'm drinking the equivalent of three liters of water daily, at least...

Feb 12, 11:42pm Top

I am having trouble getting enough water and my skin is so dry that I think I am going to itch it off. I am drinking lots of water as well.

Feb 12, 11:47pm Top

I had a great time at ALA. My sister left early tonight for the airport while I took my 8 boxes of books to the nearest post office. I spent $77.00 on mailing all those books.

I got to the Post Office about 4:45 p.m. And there were only three people in line ahead of me. When I got done there was a line out the door of the lobby with several of them being people with ALA boxes.

I will be leaving Denver early in the morning, but it was great to see you and I am glad that you got plenty of books. I look forward to reading the reviews of those books. Have a good flight home.

Feb 13, 6:34am Top

If next year is in DC - Just and I would probably come. Be fun to meet up there!

Feb 13, 3:29pm Top

Sounds like a great time at the ALA. Too bad you didn't know about the water issue before then you might have been ok for the meet up.

Feb 13, 6:12pm Top

>183 benitastrnad: EIGHT BOXES??? Wow. I'm going to look for your thread to see if you've listed the haul.

Feb 14, 4:45pm Top

I'm home and exhausted. Never ever will I ever take another red-eye flight if I can avoid it. JetBlue has this bright light in its galley, and it shone directly into my eyes the whole flight. No curtains shielding us (JetBlue, it seems, doesn't believing in curtains...) So, no sleep and another migraine. We arrived at 4:45 am in Boston, too early for the first train, so I spent too much $$ for a Lyft to get home straight away. I climbed into bed -- the cats were ecstatic to see me, Cassie climbed under the sheets and curled up there and didn't move for the next eight hours -- and stayed there all day yesterday.

So, one of my three boxes of books has arrived. The two others are in the wind. Tracking numbers say they should be here. They aren't. At least I HAVE tracking numbers. Sigh.

Still, it was a great time. Lots of books -- about 115 total. Most are now logged on my LT books list, tagged as ALA Midwinter 2018. And I have so much good stuff to read -- including great nonfiction -- that I'm happy to have made the resolution not to go to New Orleans in the summer. I really don't need to.

But Washington next summer? Absolutely! And I think that would be a GREAT meetup opportunity!!!

Feb 14, 5:52pm Top

I got the books - thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!

Feb 14, 7:51pm Top

>188 katiekrug: Excellent! :-)

Feb 14, 7:56pm Top

Hi, Suzanne! Glad you had a good time at ALA. I wish I could have made that one. Hooray for 115 books! I still have books on the shelf from the last ALA. Hard to keep up.

Boo to the Red-Eye. I can't do those either. Messes me up for 2 days.

Hope the current reads are treating you well.

Feb 14, 8:05pm Top

I don't list them title by title. I do tag them, and like Suzanne, I tag them with something like ALA-Midwinter 2018. These are small boxes. I go around the exhibit hall floor and scavenge the boxes that the publishers have put in the recycling bins. I do travel with a substantial rolling cart that can handle up to 200 pounds. It fits into my suitcase, but it also adds pounds to it, and with the addition of 8 books that I couldn't fit into the last of the boxes I had, the suitcase was over-weight. The nice man at Delta didn't charge me for it.

I also travel with mailing labels and packing tape. I have also added a large Sharpie pen to my bag. The U. S. P. S. doesn't like bar codes and the labels the publishers use are hard to peel off the boxes. The Sharpie makes that job easier.

Feb 14, 8:11pm Top

I did well in getting books, but my sister and my friend, both school librarians really hauled in the books. They were gathering for the schools at which they work.

I am not sure how many books I got, but like Suzanne, I got some good non-fiction work. I didn't get all of what I wanted, as I had to spend a great deal of time in meetings and with other vendors talking about scintillating things like, electronic databases.

I love ALA and we did have a good meet-up at Tattered Cover. It was fun, and we could talk and get acquainted. It wasn't great food, or outstanding coffee, but it was a good place to meet and talk books and about the conference.

Like Suzanne, I had trouble with the lack of humidity in Denver. I had a headache the first day I was there and with leg cramps. My sister, who lives in Bozeman, MT where the altitude is the same as Denver (5,280 feet) suggessted that I was not drinking enough water. I started carrying around a water bottle and it did help. But Friday night, after escorting Suzanne through the doors of the exhibit hall, I only stayed about a half hour. I left the convention center at 6:30 p.m. and by 7:30 I was in bed due to the headache.

I can do red-eye flights, but I have to have the next day off so that I can sleep and recover. The last red-eye I took, I was unable to sleep and ended up reading most of the night.

Feb 14, 8:15pm Top


The 2019 summer ALA conference will be in Washington, D. C. in late June. I am sure that there will be a Meet-up in that city. I have been planning meetups since 2011 in New Orleans, so I know that one will happen. But first, there is the meetup at the New Orleans summer conference, June 25 - 29, 2018 to plan.

Feb 14, 9:46pm Top

>187 Chatterbox: I took a red-eye last summer and decided I didn't sleep as much as I'd hoped. Tonight I've been watching the sarcasm pour from a friend's Facebook post. Her red-eye is delayed, so she's especially not happy.

Feb 14, 11:29pm Top

Glad you're home with happy cats, Suz, and at least some of your books there safely. Off to have a look!!!!!

Feb 15, 1:37pm Top

Eye pillows? thick headbands?

Feb 15, 10:59pm Top

I had an eye thingummy, and it was thick fleece (and black), but this light was so bright that it crept in around all the corners/edges. Impossible to keep out. It was like having a TV spotlight on you. Everyone was complaining for about 5/6 rows.

So, two of my boxes of books have shown up and one is missing. I'm trying to request as many of the 40-odd books that were in it as I can from the publishers, directly or via Netgalley or Edelweiss, but there are at least three that I think I stand zero chance of getting replacement copies of and that I want very badly to read. This was priority post, and I paid $74 to ship the damn thing, thinking that it would be SAFER than putting books in my luggage, which may go astray. So much for that bright idea. I wish I had squeezed those few much-wished-for books into my luggage... But then, how do you know which box will go missing??

Feb 15, 11:24pm Top

Will the USPS at least refund your money for the lost package?

Feb 16, 8:33am Top

>197 Chatterbox: That's terrible! Hopefully they find it at some point. How does a huge box go missing? Especially with a tracking number.

Feb 16, 11:31am Top

I haven't received a single box that I mailed. However, I sent mine "media rate" which is the slow boat to China way to mail books. It will probably be sometime next week before I get any of them. Two of the boxes are being mailed by a friend who hauled them back to Montana and mailed them from there.

Feb 16, 12:26pm Top

Hi Suz, Happy Belated Birthday. Drat that an entire box of books is missing! Hopefully it will magically appear!

I hope today is migraine free.

Feb 16, 9:42pm Top

>197 Chatterbox:

A hammer for the light!

Can't the missing box be traced?

Feb 16, 11:47pm Top

Looking for news of the missing box......... Sending good vibes to USPS - GOOD GRIEF!

Feb 17, 10:17pm Top

Suzanne has posted on FB that the missing box showed up, with a hole and minus a few of the books, and with a note claiming that the box hadn't been properly labelled.

Feb 18, 2:12am Top

All the boxes finally showed up, even if some of the contents were damaged. The final box arrived all wrapped up in plastic and with a big sticker on it from USPS, claiming that it was found "loose" without a label telling them where to deliver it (that any label with an address became detached after mailing), and recommending that I be more careful. Which is odd, because I wrote the address RIGHT ON THE BOX ITSELF on it in super-large Sharpie. Right. On. The. Box. The mind boggles.

So, the total book count for me was 122. In addition, I shipped about 17 books to Marianne, 4 to Katie, 6 to my mother, and brought home another two books for a friend. So, a pretty good haul, which will compensate for not going to the June ALA in New Orleans. I think I'll have plenty of reading to keep me busy!!

>200 benitastrnad: I opted for Priority Post, figuring that after a friend had a v. bad USPS experience last summer, I'd do better with tracking numbers, etc. -- that they might look after these packages better. ha ha ha. Next time, it's back to FedEx.

>201 Whisper1: Thanks for the b-day wishes, Linda. We're in the midst of a minor winter storm, and my head has been iffy. But it has been such a relief to get to lower altitudes that I don't care. I really didn't expect this. I've spent a lot of time in the Canadian rockies, but I guess not at those altitudes? Time to give up my plan to climb Everest! (LOL...)

Edited: Feb 18, 5:44am Top

Glad the missing box turned up eventually Suzanne (even minus a few books). How disappointing re the level of service too.

Feb 18, 1:34pm Top

I had one box show up damaged. I had wrapped tape completely around the short side of the box but not around the “waist” of the box. It had one side caved in, but I don’t think that any books were missing out of it.

5 of the 7 I mailed from the Post Office in Denver have now arrived. They came on Friday and were mailed on Monday. I thought Media Mail was the slow boat to China but 4 days seemed fast to me.

A friend of mine from here in Alabama mailed a box of china to her sister in Nebraska. The sister never got it. My friend had a tracking number and asked the P.O. to trace it. It took a month. It was found in her local post office. It had never been mailed because the china was packed in a wine case. It is illegal to ship wine in Alabama so the Post Office just kept it and didn’t notify her that she couldn’t mail a box with the word wine on the outside.

I took the box home with me to Kansas and the sister came and picked it up at our house.

Fo Figure. Weirdness at the Post Office.

Feb 18, 6:01pm Top

Hi Suzanne - I'm also glad that your missing box turned up. I flicked through your list of books and I've heard of very few. I had the Stuart Kell book out from the library last year but never found time to read it.

Feb 19, 6:06pm Top

>208 avatiakh: The list on this thread isn't complete yet -- the list on my complete LT library IS the complete one. I am slowly getting them in place in >8 Chatterbox:.

Feb 19, 6:20pm Top

Suz, the PO has tracking numbers for everything now, so you can send things via media mail and still have a tracking number, plus insurance up to $150 for free. I do a lot of mailing of books, and usually the PO is VERY reliable. UPS, on the other hand, lost a box of books after it had already arrived locally and was out on the truck.

Feb 20, 1:54am Top

>210 ronincats: That's good to know, even in hindsight. That said, I'm not sure I'll ever entrust the books to the P.O. again after this. Of all the boxes I sent (a total of eight), only two arrived in time and intact. Half were relatively significantly damaged. Next time, FedEx? I've not had problems with UPS; my only gripe with FedEx is the delivery at this end. Sigh.

Feb 21, 12:01am Top

14. The Necessary Angel by C.K. Stead

A big thanks is owed to two people for my reading this book -- Kerry/avatiakh who recommended it (and the author) in the first place, and my friend Laurie, who picked up a copy on her cycling trip through New Zealand so I didn't have to wait for it to be published either in the UK or here. So I read it in mid January -- the story of expatriates in Paris (where else...?) and revolving around art and literature and fractured relationships. It was beautifully written, and it's that writing that is really the reason to pick this up and read this. The plot -- an intellectual/professor from NZ, torn between three women, including his wife (from whom he is physically estranged, living on the bottom floor of the apartment building in which she and his children inhabit the matrimonial home. As Max becomes infatuated with Sylvie, a colleague, one of his graduate students becomes infatuated with him, with potentially devastating consequences for his family. But the odd mix of events and relationships wasn't always convincing for me, however well depicted the setting and elegant and poetic the writing. A mixed bag, which is why I really can't go above 4.2 stars here.

15. The Spy Across the Table by Barry Lancet

Another thriller in a reasonably solid series, this one involving Kabuki and spies with Kabuki-like masks in real life. Oh, and North Korea is involved. And there are some great face-off seasons between the protagonist (who combines antique dealing and and working as a private investigator) and Nasty Evil Manipulative intelligence officials. Fun, entertaining, and a rollicking ride through the US, Japan and BOTH Koreas. 3.9 stars.

16. Thale's Folly by Dorothy Gilman

Disappointing. I had fun re-reading A Nun in the Closet by Gilman and this sounded like a similar kind of book by the same author, but it didn't have the same wit and fizz. A young man -- struggling to write a novel an unhappily working in his bullying father's company -- is dispatched to "take care" of a family inheritance, a farm owned by his great-aunt that the dad now wants to sell. But when the son arrives, it's to find it's inhabited by a motley crew of misfits sheltered by his late great-aunt, including the beauteous Tarragon. There's a certain naive charm about the whole setup -- and then a whole series of misadventures begins. It's very (emphasis on VERY) light and sweet and full of implausible plot twists. Listened to it with a migraine. 3 stars.

17. Volcanic Airs by Elizabeth Pewsey
21. Unaccustomed Spirits by Elizabeth Pewsey
28. Brotherly Love by Elizabeth Pewsey

The final three books of my Mountjoy series re-read/listen binge, completed on January 23. I particularly enjoyed the last two, as I think I hadn't re-read them as much as the other books, although Volcanic Airs also is good -- one by one, members of the extended Mountjoy clan go chasing after each other to an idyllic island in the Mediterranean after an unhappy teenage Thomas bolts from his boarding school. It's the trigger for all kinds of upheavals and changes, and as usual, there are many intriguing ancillary characters, including a psychic babysitter, an obnoxious composer of atonal music who wants to ban nursery rhymes and who is driving Sylvester the cellist crazy, etc. Then comes book #5, in which Cleo Byng, a character in book #1, returns as the main character: after shingles forces her to postpone her wedding, she seeks refuge in Haphazard Hall, owned by a cousin near Eyot. She doesn't realize she's sharing it with two ghosts, who serve as a Greek chorus, eavesdropping on phone conversations with a WW1 field phone device and taking great delight in hacking into TV broadcasts, too. It's the ghosts who steal the show, here, I confess, although one also appears in book #6, to rescue a historian from his writer's block, while his wife, Mimi Mountjoy, has to battle her own demons in the shape of three particularly obstreperous brothers who simply WON'T leave her home, but move in (lock, stock and sculptures) as well as turmoil surrounding one of her rather risqué fountain designs for Eyot's town council. Average rating for all of these was 4, although they all remain sentimental favorites and I only wish that Pewsey had continued on and written more books in this series; I think they are sly, witty and ironic and even though you can pin them down to an era in time with effort, they stand outside it. Great fun and should be more widely read by those who enjoy light fare.

18. The Last Hours by Minette Walters

What a departure for this author, whose books until now have been modern thrillers/suspense books! I had almost begun to think that Walters had stopped writing but perhaps she was taking a lot of time with this idea. It's clearly the first in what will be at least two books about a group of characters caught up in the Black Death of the 14th century: a noblewoman (the lady of the manor), her spoiled daughter, and a group of servants and serfs. It's about the personality dynamics and misadventures and Walters draws on her experience writing thrillers to convey the sense of what it must have been like for a group of serfs, isolated in their own manor, to be forced to go out to see what was happening around them, after the lady of the manor isolates them and saves their tiny community. But what happens next? Frustratingly, the reader doesn't know... The book ends on a cliffhanger, so only 4 stars for what otherwise could have been an excellent chunkster. Recommended for historical fiction nuts. Out in the UK, I know; not sure about the US yet.

19. Death Comes to Lynchester Close by David Dickinson

The latest in the Lord Powerscourt mysteries, which I've been reading for more than a decade (ever since I binge-read the first two or three while recovering from food poisoning in Fez, Morocco, back in 2005....) They have a quirky style, but the plots are interesting, set against the backdrop of Edwardian society. In this case: who gets a home in the cathedral close at Lynchester, and does the competition for it have anything to do with the death of one of the candidates? It's a plain vanilla whodunnit, relying on the atmosphere and color to carry it, as with the series -- as the clock ticks down toward 1914, I start wondering how the author will tackle that. 3.7 stars

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

I finally got around to reading this after it had been sitting on my TBR list -- forever.... and been lauded by everyone. My bottom line? Great reportage of an important story, and one that in the United States (where the history of slavery and Jim Crow, affecting such a large percentage of the population, dominates the dialog) attracts so little attention: the treatment of native peoples. Grann tackles the almost-unknown tale of how whites abused the members of the Osage tribe on an almost routine-basis, when the latter's ownership of mineral rights made them wealthy. Then they began murdering tribal members in hopes of accumulating some of that wealth for themselves... Once you figure out the puzzle, however, it becomes a bit more pedantic in execution, and that's the flaw here: the writing is underwhelming and doesn't really do justice to the drama and importance of the topic. Still, I'm giving it 4.4 stars.

22. Blue Madonna by James R. Benn

The next in this series of historical mysteries, set against the backdrop of World War 2. I'm going to stop listening to the audiobooks, as the narrator completely mangles any French words or terms to the point that I don't understand them. However... Billy Boyle goes off to France (after a detour or two), to try to rescue a US Air Force member and black marketeer downed behind enemy lines, in a chateau with all kinds of labyrinthine tunnels underneath. (If he can be brought safely back to London, his relative will rat out the chief black marketers and ensure the servicemen are supplied as they take the fight into Europe.) Of course, Boyle's mission faces all kinds of complications, although he's delighted to be reunited with his love, Diana, whose SOE posting has taken her to the same place. But as the German army heads toward Normandy, it also becomes clear that the trapped airmen include someone who is betraying them to the enemy... 4 stars.

23. The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy

Sigh. I was suckered into picking this up from the Athenaeum because hey, a novel about a librarian trying to save a library from closure. What could be better? Well, a well-written book with appealing characters and a coherent, thoughtful plot about trying to save a library from closure would have been nice, but that apparently wasn't on offer. This clearly was a vanity project by an author who has written several non-fiction books about going back to live in the west of Ireland, and who wanted to write a novel paying tribute to the area. It didn't work. It's trite, the main character was an annoying bore, and the plot had so many loose threads that I stopped counting them. 2.3 stars.

24. Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic by David Frum

I've said a lot about this provocative and thoughtful political book by a defector from the ranks of the neocons earlier on in this thread. So I'll just say that if you just want to bash on Trump, that's only about a third of what the book contains. More significantly, Frum delves deeply into the trends that created and enabled the Trump phenomenon and connects them not only to what is happening in the US but globally, and points out the risks, in the context of classic democratic ideals AND the constitution. A very valuable, very articulate and thought-provoking book that should be widely-read; it avoids the snark and gossip of Wolff's book, but raises even more critical issues. The full 5 stars for this one.

25. The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Yeah, yet another one of "those" books that is being compared with Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. Sigh. That said, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this as a can't-put-it-down tale of an agoraphobic voyeur stuck in her home in Manhattan. It's so fast-paced that I didn't question some stuff that I should have about the unreliable narrator -- but that's a sign that the author had captured my attention. Who really died? Can the main character make her voice heard in spite of everyone ignoring her and telling her she's nuts? None of this is new or fresh, but it's repackaged in such a way that you manage to forget that. An excellent "thumping good read." 4.4 stars.

Feb 21, 8:14am Top

>212 Chatterbox: I'm adding the Lord Powerscourt series to my TBR list--well, at least the first one. That's a "new" series to me.

Feb 21, 8:17am Top

Your review of The Library at the Edge of the World made me laugh. I"m adding the Finn to my WL, where the Walters and Frum already reside...

Feb 21, 9:50am Top

Adding The Woman in the Window to my wishlist!

Edited: Feb 21, 11:07am Top

Good morning, chatterbox!

>212 Chatterbox: 20. this has been in my TBR for some time as well. nice review.

24. Thanks for this review. I try not to stay in my conservative cocoon and this sounds like a well crafted look from the liberal perspective.

I can't remember if I recommended it to you before, but Gregg Hurwitz Orphan X series is fantastic. I am loving it to pieces. Scott Brick's narration is brilliant, but only as good as the books.

Feb 21, 11:39am Top

>212 Chatterbox: We are going to a presentation by Frum this evening. Jim said he checked and it's not a book signing, but a lecture of some sort based on the book, at NYU Law.

Feb 21, 2:32pm Top

>216 brodiew2: I wouldn't, by any means, describe Frum as liberal. He remains a conservative, or someone who occupies ground in the middle of the road. He broke with the increasingly doctrinaire Republicans over specific policy issues that he felt weren't true to real conservative ideals, and also weren't pragmatic or compassionate. That said, if you read this, I think you'll find that his version of the world is one that many conservatives would recognize. That any of his critics would describe him as a "liberal" (as I assume they are, to discredit the book) tells me a lot about the way politics has become misshapen and distorted, along with public service. What he's really discussing here is what democracy is, and whether or not it is held captive and used to the advantage of the few, and even used (at least potentially) against the country's national interests. It goes to the heart of what a true democracy is, versus a populist demagoguery. In some ways, Frum looks at some of the same themes as Jane Mayer did in Dark Money, but whereas Mayer really was looking at this from the POV of what income inequality and the ability of the wealthy to control the political process means for democracy, Frum has a more limited agenda.

You did mention the Orphan X series... I think it's more of an action adventure yarn than I usually go for, but I have it on my watch list to pick up if the price falls or it ends up on a sale list.

>217 ffortsa: Do drop by if you can spare a moment and say how it went.

>213 thornton37814: The series is a bit of a mixed bag; the earlier books, I think, are stronger because the stylistic tics don't have a chance to become irritating. Like all long-lived series, this one has its weaknesses. Unlike many, you can probably pick and choose among the various books depending on which appeal to you, after the first three or four, since there's relatively little focus on character development (one of the major weaknesses in the series and in any mystery novel, IMHO.)

More reviews to come later. Meanwhile, just finished reading the advance galley of Circe by Madeline Miller, and am giving it a provisional 5 stars, despite one or two small weaknesses or hiccups. Now I really HAVE to finish Daniel Mendelssohn's memoir about reading the Odyssey and traveling to its sites with his father... I'm at the halfway mark with that book and the narration is so excellent, but I've been struggling to really listen vs. fall asleep to audiobooks, so....

Feb 21, 2:41pm Top

>218 Chatterbox: Calling him liberal was my mistake. I should not have used that label given how little I know about him or the book. Sorry about that.

Feb 21, 6:51pm Top

It is good to see all of your reviews here. Seems you are back on track. I also had lots of problems in Denver with the lack of humidity and it seemed that I drank water all the time and was still dry. That is part of the difference between that area and Alabama.

I enjoyed myself, and got the last of my boxes of books yesterday. I haven't counted for sure, but think that my total book haul was around 80 - 85 titles. I didn't get many books on Sunday as I was in a meeting most of the day. I did well on Monday, and those were the two boxes that I had to have my sister mail from Montana when she got back home. I don't think that I scored any big books, except for Circe and two cook books. One of those was a cookbook I was going to buy and the other was just there. Both are by Scandianvian cooks. Who knew people that far north could cook like that?

I don't have my book haul entered into LT yet, but hope to get some in tonight.

Feb 21, 9:54pm Top

>219 brodiew2: Not a problem. I'm also too prone to jump on people who use labels these days, unless they apply them to people who've already slapped those labels on themselves. Too often, we use labels as a reason not to read something or not to take an argument seriously, instead of at least listening. I'm not going to listen to bigots on either side of any question, but if someone has a logical argument and makes interesting points, I want to hear it. And we use labels in a to dismiss individuals, too -- oh, I don't have to listen to you because you're a (fill in the blank). I mean, had we said that, how many "liberals" would not have read books like Hillbilly Elegy? You can certainly critique that book's conclusions or prescriptions, but it took many of us places we haven't otherwise been and forced us to consider the author's POV.

>220 benitastrnad: Dunno if I'm back on track. I'm trying to catch up with reviews! Shall look forward to seeing what you captured in your haul. I just finished reading Circe, as noted above (a NetGalley copy) and so am not crushed that I didn't see the ARCs in Denver. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Glad all the boxes have arrived safely...

Feb 21, 11:00pm Top

A handful of others:

26. The Templars' Last Secret by Martin Walker

Another in the Bruno, chief of police, series. So, more feasting and extensive descriptions of meals and their preparation, of which I'm getting tired. Walker could lose a bit of that level of detail (this isn't a cookbook...) and I'd be a happier reader. Nor is there much momentum to Bruno's own life: after dithering, his relationship with the local Englishwoman is over; he still loves Isabelle from afar, but it's his home community that provides meaning to his life. I enjoy the books, but they've lost some of their luster and become a bit repetitive, so I'm glad that Knopf has enabled me to download the last few from NetGalley. So, this one? It's about Templars, as you might suspect. A woman is found dead at the base of the walls of a local castle, and there are rumblings of Templar-hunters and terrorists. Nothing terribly new, fresh or dramatic, but appealing enough for when you happen to be in the mood. 3.9 stars, and I'm being a bit generous here. Others may find the "cozy" elements more appealing, as I did for the first few books, but it becomes repetitive.

27. The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler

I've read to read Seethaler's previous novel (A Whole Life, nominated for the Man Booker International Prize), but this one grabbed my attention. There's an element of magic realism to it and an element of the fantastic, but at its core it's a crisp, beautiful (and beautifully translated) tale of a young man from an idyllic region of Austria who travels to Vienna to work in a tobacconist's shop after his mother's, ahem, patron dies in an unfortunate accident. In his new role, in the mid 1930s, his job includes aiding his mentor, an elderly WW1 veteran with only one leg, selling cigars and newspapers to a wide array of the city's society. By reading those papers -- his mentor assures him that this is his first and primary responsibility -- he becomes aware of what is happening around him, as much as he does by studying the characters of his neighborhood. And then he meets two people who will shape his life in the city: a young and beauteous (to him) Czech girl, and Sigmund Freud, an occasional patron, whom Franz pursues and insists on befriending. But then comes the Anschluss and the Nazis, and everything changes: the neighborhood and the newspapers lose their diversity; his patron, as a socialist, is under threat, and so too is Freud. This almost made me cry. Must look for more by this author. 4.5 stars.

29. The Girl on the Velvet Swing: Sex, Murder, and Madness at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century by Simon Baatz

I was interested in reading this tale of Evelyn Nesbit, and the murder of her former (lover? rapist?), architect Stanford White, by rich playboy husband Harry Thaw, in part because if the "MeToo" campaign. Nesbit, a young beauty deliberately steered by her mother (who seems to have closed her eyes to inconvenient truths) in front of White, a man more than three times her age, may well have been raped by White -- and certainly, the allegation of this was front and center in Thaw's first murder trial, with Nesbit's frankness scandalizing many and perhaps dooming her future. The book does bog down a bit as Baatz determinedly moves from one episode to another -- first this happened, then that, then the other -- and the color kind of seeps out of it by the midway point, even though episodes like Thaw's flight from an asylum to Canada should have felt more dramatic. It turned into one of those biographies/true crime books that just wasn't able to quite deliver on its promises: it wasn't as relevant to some of the issues we confront today as Baatz tried to argue (or he didn't make the case well enough), and some of the other issues and characters get lost in the pedantic and sometimes turgid chronological approach. Still, if you don't know this story, and/or are interested in New York City history, it's a must-read. 4.15 stars.

30. The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash

I have to thank Mark for steering me toward this author and this book, as it was a fascinating yarn -- completely compelling -- and very well written. The story of the struggles to form a union in the textile mills of North Carolina in 1929, underpinned by the region's racial tensions, all told through the life of a single individual, Ella Mae. (A real person, incidentally...) Trying to avoid spoilers here, but Ella Mae's husband has abandoned the family, she has just discovered she is pregnant again and is battling to survive on a handful of dollars a week in a shack in a corner of town where her closest friends are a black mother and daughters (and all the other inhabitants are black, making her already a bit of an outsider among people "like her".) Then she stumbles across a union flyer, and decides to travel to another town to see what happens at a rally, and steps into an entirely different world... Ella Mae's tale is juxtaposed with that of other characters whose lives brush up against hers: the wife of a wealthy mill owner who does treat his employees well (if paternalistically); that couple's privileged daughter, who encounters Ella Mae on the latter's first journey out of the North Carolina/Appalachian region to plead for fair treatment from a senator in Washington; a socialist/communist black Pullman porter from New York, who knows the northern organizers and gets swept up in a race riot. It's a little-known part of our history (and a true story), a tragic episode that most of us know too little of. Very much recommended, and a thumping good read. 4.2 stars.

31. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

Lots of attention and lots of love for this novel late last year, and I kinda held off. I'm not a massive fan of Roy's polemical/doctrinaire non-fiction writings, and reviews made it clear that many of those issues were underpinnings of the narrative/plot of this novel. Happily, she is such a talented novelist that when I finally got around to reading it in January, I found that when she addresses themes like Kashmir, political corruption and abuses of power, political and inequality in India, etc., in a novel it works far better than in non-fiction and I felt less as though I was being harangued and scolded by an author (a pet peeve.) That said, this is a novel that roams widely and sometimes wildly across the landscape of Indian society: One main character is a hijra (go ahead, google it...) and another is an activist at war with her past, herself, and nearly everyone in her life. If you're looking for catharsis and for all loose ends to be neatly tucked away, you'll be disappointed, but some very elegant writing, intriguing structure and a provocative blend of storytelling and political argumentation. Ultimately worth the effort. 4.3 stars.

32. Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey

A tremendously fun re-read/audiobook listen of one of my favorite of Josephine Tey's novels; how I wish that more were available for audio here. On the eve of the 21st birthday, young Patrick Ashby returns from the dead to claim his inheritance as the elder of two twins, a fortune carefully husbanded by the family's aunt. Two younger sisters, also twins, are intrigued and ultimately welcoming -- but they are children. For everyone else, the arrival of Patrick, or Brat as he now insists on being called, is a cog in the wheels. Simon, his younger twin, had been the only Ashby heir since Patrick's disappearance age 12 or 13; his older sister just feels something is amiss in spite of (or because of?) Brat's uncanny bond with the horses on the family's horse farm. But the readers are the only ones to know that Brat is, indeed, an imposter, and to know how and why he ended up there. A mystery to all but one member of the family and its circle is just what happened to Patrick -- accident? suicide? was he really a runaway? or was he murdered? -- and as time passes and the clock ticks down to the coming of age celebrations, it becomes crucial for Brat to solve that puzzle if he wants to survive. A classic of its genre; a classic, period. 4.5 stars.

33. The Old Man by Thomas Perry

An audiobook "re-read" during a migraine, finishing up my fall/winter binge re-read of Perry's mystery novels. When Dan Chase, a widower in late middle age, flees his comfortable home in Vermont with his two dogs in tow, we don't really understand why mysterious assassins are coming for him in the middle of the night. Only as the chase plot unfolds (Perry is good at these, focusing on the "good guy" and his/her efforts to stay one jump ahead of his/her adversaries, do we learn that Chase isn't even his real name and that he's been in hiding for decades, after being cut loose by a group of corrupt intelligence types after a mission in Libya went wrong. Chase brought the money back -- money destined for a corrupt warlord -- and has invested in after the government operatives cut him loose, but he's wary. Who might come after him and when? Now that it has finally happened, he has to add a final question: why now? Figuring all that out while on the run, keeping a woman he teams up with safe as well, and having some intriguing interactions with the only agency official who seems prepared to listen to him was fun. Still, formulaic, and a "migraine book" for me (requiring not that much concentration...) 3.7 stars.

Feb 21, 11:40pm Top

I'm always happy to be here picking up BBs. I've happily ordered a copy of The Tobacconist from PBS with thanks.

Feb 21, 11:45pm Top

34. The Third Victim by Phillip Margolin

New series, they said. Provocative plot, they said (lawyer accused of serial murder...) Intriguing characters, they claimed. Well, that will teach me to listen to "them." Look, Margolin, like a lot of thriller writers, is fine pushing out the words in formula style, as long as you don't look for much more. My mistake. A NetGalley book, so I didn't have much invested other than time, and even that -- not much required to read this. It's not bad -- he's a competent writer -- it's just that by the midway point the plot "twists" are so painfully obvious that it's, well, painful to read. Ho hum. 3.25 stars. I will read some books by this kind of author if I like their style or if they are particularly good at character development. Neither applies in Margolin's case. 3.25 stars; feeling/being generous with this.

35. Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Golden Samovar by Olga Wjotas

This was a real hoot -- and thanks to Kerry/avatiakh (again!) for flagging me on a fascinating book that I otherwise would have overlooked completely. It's out in the UK now and is slated for release in the US at some point, and if you like Jodi Taylor's St. Mary's books, or other goofy tomes, it's worth a try. Shona, the, ahem, heroine of this book (likely the first in a planned series), is a 50-something graduate of the Marcia Blaine School for Girls, devoted to scones, shortbread and other Scottish traditions and to removing copies of "that book" (aka, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie) from the shelves of the library where she works, for the crime of traducing her beloved alma mater. Patrons keep requesting it, but no matter: Shona keeps removing it and has dozens of copies of the offending tome squirreled away. Then the centuries-old Miss Blaine herself appears and informs Shona that she has been selected to travel through time and correct injustices, like a good Marcia Blaine alumna. When her first mission arrives (no preparation at all, unlike many time travel novels) she finds herself coming to consciousness underneath a chaise longue in a St. Petersburg drawing room, with a ball going on next door. It's the early 19th century (Shona struggles throughout to pin down the precise timeline) and she now has to figure out what her mission is. Happily, she's correctly dressed, from her ballgown to her Doc Martens, and soon realizes that a conversation she overhears between an elderly woman and a young man is a clue. Then she meets the young ball's hostess and realizes -- psychically -- that putting her on her life's path is the mission in question. Now, if you're expecting conventional time travel or historical fiction, toss those expectations out the window. Shona saves the party by introducing them to Scottish dancing, warns them about Muriel Spark's novel a century before its publication, and goes on to try to reform serfs and serfdom. She also completely misreads the clues and hints she confronts, to the point that we, as readers, want to scream at her, don't you REALIZE what's really afoot? But she bumbles along... There's a nanny who likes knitting, a murderous demon, and a coachman who reveres her. It's hilarious, if you don't take it seriously. If you do, you'll be perplexed or loathe it. 3.85 stars, because I think Wjotas should tighten up her plotting, but it's a lot of fun, which transcends that.

36. Hitler, My Neighbor: Memories of a Jewish Childhood, 1929-1939 by Edgar Feuchtwanger

The author was the neighbor of famous German novelist Lion Feuchtwangler, and scion of a wealthy Jewish German family, living in Munich. But as he grows to consciousness, he realizes that in the building across the street lives a particularly unusual man, Adolf Hitler, and as he grows toward adolescence, grasps the extent to which Hitler's policies will distort his life and those of his family, limiting friendships and participation in society. As his neighbor, Hitler, rises in power and influence, so the increasingly aware Edgar finds his ability to be a part of his own country diminished. It's a memoir of sorts, written in a somewhat "I am recalling this in real time" style that didn't always work for me, but the overall context was fascinating. If you're looking for stuff about a small boy studying his neighbor, you'll look in vain: there is some, sure, later on, but it's mostly about himself, his family, his extended circle of friends and acquaintances, and his life in the years leading up to his forced flight to England. A short book, so definitely give it a try.

37. The Hound in the Left-Hand Corner by Giles Waterfield

This was the first novel by an English author whose works I'll now be looking out for. The events take place over the course of a single day, and it's an ensemble narrative: everyone is working to try and bring off the successful launch of a new exhibition at the Museum of British History, just rebranded as BRIT. The centerpiece: a long-lost 18th century portrait by Gainsborough, recently purchased by the museum's chairman, who has great plans for (a) the painting, (b) the museum and (c) his personal legacy. All of which turn out to be very controversial, since the chairman has sponsored "Elegance", the exhibit, and is showing a number of his items and basically using it as a way to enhance his prestige. Even royalty is about to show up at the gala dinner, and the caterers are worried about how to simultaneously boil hundreds of lobsters without frying the museum's electrical wiring... We move from the chairman to the caterers and curators, to the security guards (and a nascent love affair), each of whom has his or her own issue or problem tied to the opening. But it all revolves around the portrait, and as the title suggests, the portrait itself may boil down to the tiny detail of the dog in the left hand corner... This was a lovely satire, unputdownable, and a thumping good read. I relished every moment of it. It seems as if Waterfield's other novels are quite different in tone and subject, so shall see what to tackle next. But this was a delight, from the chairman's proposals for a new wing of the museum focusing on "the now", to the glum curator of agricultural implements, whose stuff is constantly ignored and overlooked. What fun. 4.3 stars.

38. The Penalty Area by Alain Gillot

A short, poignant novel, almost a novella, focusing on a man heading toward middle age. His football career is over and these days he is a coach, trying to get the most out of a motley group of French pre-teens and teenagers in a regional city. He is alienated from his surviving family -- his careless, heedless elder sister, and his mother, who allowed herself and him to be abused by his late father. Then suddenly the sister catapults back into his life, bringing with her a nephew, clearly "different" (suffering from Asperger's or somewhere along the spectrum.) Vincent, his sister insists, must care for Leonard, just for a few days. Vincent first refuses, and only accepts reluctantly -- and then discovers that his nephew has an eerie ability to study, document, memorize and internalize all kinds of football moves. He can even put them into action, in his own awkward way, when Vincent tries him out in goal... But can the team accept someone so different, and what lies ahead for Vincent and his troubled ability to connect with others, as clear in its own way as is Leonard's? Ultimately, the too-pat ending made this a sweet read, but a less sharp and pointed one than the first half suggested. It didn't feel like a cop-out, but more like "I've seen this before..." So, 4 stars, but still well worth looking for. A Europa book.

39. The Judge Hunter by Christopher Buckley

For those of you on NetGalley, last time I looked this was a "read now" offering, and I suggest that you take advantage of the opportunity to grab a copy! While I didn't love it as much as I did The Relic Master, with the satire that the author deployed in the latter, it's still a fun romp, as Baltasar "Balty" St. Michel, the brother-in-law of Samuel Pepys, is dispatched by the latter and his patrons (out of desperation, on Pepys' part) to New England, to try and run to earth two of the last regicides responsible for signing the death warrant of Charles I. Balty, of course, shouldn't be let out to get a cup of coffee or mug of ale without a minder; he's inept, to put it mildly, and only the help of an exasperated sleuth/agent and New World veteran keeps out of the hands of Puritans, the local wildlife, and Indians who would rather like some vengeance for land theft and murder. There are plenty of plot twists, the kidnapping of a parrot, a near execution, before Balty finally comes close to accomplishing his objective and finally growing up. Oh, and New Amsterdam becomes New York somewhere along the way. Definitely a great read; due out May 1 for non-NetGalley readers/reviewers. 4.2 stars. Happily, I still have Buckley's backlist to keep me happy while waiting for the next book.

And that's it for January! February's list will be much shorter, thanks to the ALA Midwinter trip, migraines, the Olympics, blah blah, blah.

Feb 21, 11:46pm Top

>223 LizzieD: As you know, I love my role of book whisperer/enabler etc...

Feb 22, 12:17am Top

Hi Suzanne.

I'm catching up with your reviews, finding a few items to add to my wish list. I have a copy of The Ministry of Utmost Happiness and was pleased to see your comments. I never did read her very popular first novel but I keep thinking I would enjoy her fiction. So. I'll get to it eventually.

I'm not sure Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Golden Samovar will be my cup of tea but I'm strongly tempted to give it a try when I can get it.

Feb 22, 12:38am Top

>226 EBT1002: I wish I had a paper copy and not a digital one, and I could send you "Miss Blaine's Prefect". Look for it in the library... It's fun, but I agree, won't be for all tastes.

Feb 22, 8:30pm Top

>217 ffortsa: Frum was interesting to listen to (interviewed by the dean of the law school). The main point I took away is his concern for that area between legality and norm. As he said more than once, if an action is declared legal because it just misses the definition of illegality, the decision expands the concept of what is both legal and normal.

He is very concerned with the breakdown of norms and institutions, both of which are harder to rebuild than to build in the first place. And he is concerned, and not only in this country, with the efforts to 'de-democratize' the political scene by people in positions of power, for instance, by attacking voting rights and the media. He made a pointed reference to such things as 'post-truth' ideas that circulate in academic circles; as he said, the opposite of the truth is a lie.

He also made a comment that I will now get wrong, something about how a party grows by creating an identity with its constituents and 'delivering the goods'. And no one has been delivering the goods. This may of course be a result of the combination of automation and globalization, but the dissatisfaction remains.

I don't normally read up on these topics, but as Jim has the book, I am interested enough to read it.

Feb 22, 8:59pm Top

I liked Killers of the Flower Moon, too, and also thought there were underwhelming aspects to his writing. Still. Good book.

Feb 23, 9:49am Top

>228 ffortsa: Thanks for the details! As a poli sci geek, with an interest in the ideas/philosophy that underpin political structures more than electioneering strategies and so on, this is what fascinates may. And I've been watching people like Putin, Orban in Hungary, and what's afoot in Turkey, with concern for precisely the reasons you report Frum as highlighting -- the breakdown of both norms and institutions (although, using my words here, maintaining a facade of democratic ideals.)

Having read the book, I do understand the point you're trying to repeat, and it's a complex one; not sure I could do it without going back and digging for the precise citations.

This is a book that I will re-read, and probably obtain a "real", versus cyber, copy of, so that I can dip into it more readily. i hope there will be others that tackle these trends and connect them to what we see happening in real time. I have just started reading Timothy Snyder's upcoming book (an e-galley) -- Ellen will be excited to here about this! -- and it also tackles them, but from a historian's POV.

>229 The_Hibernator: If you are on Facebook, there is a group organized by PBS, "Now Read This" -- a monthly online book discussion group. This month the book up for discussion is Grann's Killers of the Flower Moon, and this gap between content and style is a big focus of the discussion. The group is an open one, if you're interested in reading the comments or joining in. (Last month's book was Sing Unburied Sing, which I hadn't read by the time a friend added me to the group mid-month.) Thus far, those commenting seem to be a serious group of readers, even if some of the comments end up feeling repetitve. I'll be interested to see what book PBS designates for next month. Oh, there's an opportunity to submit questions to Grann for an interview at the end of the month, who is then interviewed by PBS NewsHour. Don't know if it airs nationwide, but there's at least a video.

Migraine has been v. bad. I watched the women's hockey medal match between the USA and Canada and that seems to have done it -- flickering screen, chasing puck around with my eyes, plus weather (falling pressure.) Sigh. By 4 a.m. really didn't care if I lived or died. I lived (surprise) and am a bit better, but it's another recovery day here. FFS. Excuse the language, but really, this is intolerable. Except that I'm tolerating it. Probably won't be back until the end of the day....

Feb 23, 6:27pm Top

Well, I picked up a few BBs on this update! Nice batch of reviews.

Edited: Feb 23, 8:41pm Top

>231 drneutron: And that's just January! Admittedly, on the whole, it seems to have been a better reading month than February thus far.

So, I have finally finished entering my complete list of acquisitions from ALA Midwinter in >8 Chatterbox: for those who don't have the patience to consult my library listings. And I just finished reading my second of those acquisitions, The King's Witch, by Tracy Borman, set in the court of James I, the first Stuart King of England, and the first in a promised series or trilogy, which takes us up to the end of the gunpowder plot. No spoilers, as it's worth reading for historical fiction fans...

Feb 25, 11:08am Top

Oh!!!! I managed to snag a copy of King’s Witch at ALA so will have to dig that one out and get started on it.

Mar 1, 11:08am Top

The Walter Scott Prize list is up! I'm curious what you recommend - lots of new names to me.

Mar 1, 12:05pm Top

Miss Blaine's Prefect #1 is happily resting on my Kindle. Thanks, Suz. Hope you're recovering more quickly than you expected.

Mar 1, 2:01pm Top

Am battling a migraine, but just learned we're expecting some kind of stormy weather tomorrow -- so that would explain it!

So here's the list for the Walter Scott prize list (for those who don't know, it's for best historical novel.)

The Clocks in This House All Tell Different Times by Xan Brooks
Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore *
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan *
The Last Man in Europe by Dennis Glover
Sugar Money by Jane Harris (reading now)
Prussian Blue by Philip Kerr *
The Draughtsman by Robert Lautner
Grace by Paul Lynch
The Wardrobe Mistress by Patrick McGrath
Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves by Rachel Malik
The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers
The Horseman by Tim Pears
The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley

* books I've already read

I added The Last Man in Europe to my TBR, buying the Kindle book, after reading about it, and probably will try to persuade the Athenaeum to get a copy of The Wardrobe Mistress. I've got a NetGalley copy of The Bedlam Stacks, but haven't read it and The Horseman already is on my radar screen. I've heard something vaguely about Rachel Malik's novel, but the others are all completely new to me. Some of the jurors clearly like quirky "historical" novels, as the books by Xan Brooks and Natasha Pulley are very, ahem, odd in their nature -- perhaps historical is a starting point, but they are fantastical in many ways. There's also a BIG tilt in favor of the 20th century.

Of the three that I've read, I'd definitely vote in favor of Birdcage Walk by the late Helen Dunmore. Sugar Money will be controversial, as it's written in the voice of a young slave in the 18th century (issues of appropriation...) though six chapters or so it's excellent.

Meanwhile, in the area of historical fiction, I've been "re-listening" to audiobook versions of Alison Weir's first two novels in her epic six wives of Henry VIII series, as I just got approved for the upcoming release of the novel focusing on Jane Seymour. What is intriguing is the way she looks for new elements in the life of each: for instance, in the first half of the novel of Anne Boleyn, uses her time in France with Marguerite de Navarre (and also possibly at the court of the Regent of the Netherlands) to give her a different identity, as a woman who became interested in a mid-16th century version of feminism: the idea that women could or should be independently powerful. And who then ran into the limitations of those ideas once she was no longer being wooed by, but was married to, Henry VIII. Jane Seymour is a more enigmatic figure, so I'm curious to see how Weir tackles that challenge...

In other historical fiction news, Circe by Madeline Miller won my coveted 5 stars, even though it (inevitably) has an episodic feel to it, with characters like Jason and Medea, Daedelus and Minos appearing and then disappearing from the narrative. I suppose that's the problem you have when your main character is immortal? It will be out this spring.

And another upcoming book this spring, Futureface by Alex Wagner, is one of those that is very close to the book that I really wanted to write about genealogy, family history and identity. She does a pretty good job of it, and it wasn't too much like rubbing salt in the wound to read the ARC as a result. Sigh. I still want to kill my agent that made a complete hash of marketing the proposal back in 2011, though, since other than the fact that my family isn't part Burmese and that the specifics are different, this isn't very different from "my" book, which he insisted probably would never be sell-able after (he claimed) trying hard. So yeah, it bites.

Mar 1, 2:58pm Top

Great comments - thanks! Sorry to hear about migraine. You're right, a big storms seems to be brewing. I hope you'll see a quick recovery on the other side.

Mar 1, 5:29pm Top

Thanks for the Walter Scott Prize list. I wonder why the tilt towards the 20th century. There are so many interesting stories from all sorts previous times.

Edited: Mar 1, 6:39pm Top

Yes, eight out of 13 are 20th century, which is unusual. Also, one is a series book (Philip Kerr's Prussian Blue), and I'm wondering what makes it better or worse than any of the dozen others in that series. Admittedly, it's a very good historical mystery series, far better than "Maisie Dobbs" (I've got the most recent of that book) or others that are very formulaic, but I'm still puzzled. Then there are three that have fantastical elements to them, and a few that are ultra-specific to the English countryside (the books by Tim Pears, Benjamin Myers and Rachel Malik.) It's an odd mishmash. That said, I'm sure I'll discover some gems in there; last year's list introduced me to Golden Hill by Francis Spufford, which was one of my favorite books of 2017. And I quite like 20th century historical fiction. We'll see...

Meanwhile, a shout-out for the Helen Dunmore novel. It was a very good and suspenseful/eerie novel, set in a time of tremendous upheaval in England that does a remarkable job of really imagining what it must have FELT like to live in an era when social and political revolutionary pressures were building and bubbling all around. I do think it's one of her best novels.

ETA: >237 vivians: Just got a weather alert via e-mail from the Boston Globe about a massive nor'easter. AHA. THAT explains it all. I've been going crazy wondering what I did wrong, and all the time it was the damn weather.

Mar 1, 7:02pm Top

Thanks for the list. The Bedlam Stacks is on offer for £1.99 at the moment - you may be quite satisfied with the Netgalley but I've found that NGs are very variable in quality. I just read Aminatta Forna's novel in a really bad one - not a single page without weird line endings and missing capitals, which makes me sad as I think potential new readers will be put off her - why struggle when you have other things to read if you don't know how good she is?

Mar 1, 7:10pm Top

I couple of years ago I read House of Orphans by Helen Dunmore. I liked it. It is not her most well-known novel, but it stayed with me a long time. There are elements of it that I found distracted from the main idea of the story and I would have eliminated them, but like all of her novels there was an eerie element to it. Not haunting. Eerie. It was set in Finland before the Russian Revolution and so it was an exotic setting but she did a great job of making the countryside come alive and just made me ache to see that filtered golden light of summer that is so common in latitudes that far north. She also did such a good job of describing the life of a poor house servant. There was nothing romantic about it and the acquisition of an adequate pair of boots was a big deal. The life of factory workers in an early industrial setting combined with all the radical philosophical ideas of early Socialism and Communism made for a great book.

I have an ARC of Birdcage Walk but haven't dug it out. I may just have to do so.

Mar 1, 7:40pm Top

I read House of Orphans quite recently and liked it very much.

Mar 1, 8:56pm Top

I agree that some of Dunmore's best novels also are her lesser-known ones. I loved Zennor in Darkness, which includes DH Lawrence as a character and has WW1 as a backdrop. The Lie also was very good, although I didn't like The Greatcoat (a kind of ghost story) as much. loomsbury

>240 elkiedee: Some publishers have great NetGalley formatting -- it's really improved a lot -- but others just haven't invested in that. Bloomsbury is the publisher of Natasha Pulley, and yes, it's a bit garbled. But I can also get it at the Athenaeum; I want to save my Amazon UK $$ for books I can't get here at all, like the upcoming Robert Goddard novel next month, and Trisha Ashley's latest; Salt Lane by William Shaw, the return of Henry Porter in the summer, the latest espionage/suspense book by Charles Cumming, etc. I was able to pick up a copy of the new Aminatta Forna ARC from Grove Atlantic at ALA Midwinter and talked to them about this problem although unfortunately I didn't have particularly bad pages bookmarked. Just a few missing capitals at the start of sentences, which I think is within reason for an e-galley. It's distorted formatting that makes the book unreadable. Random House has done a v. good job with this, to the point where most of the time there is little difference between printed/digital ARCs and even the finished book.

Edited: Mar 2, 6:20pm Top

The giant oak tree on the corner is trying to bend itself in half in the midst of very high winds (gusting to 70 mph) in the very strong nor'easter that was responsible for yesterday's migraine. Keep your fingers crossed it doesn't succeed in its ambition to snap itself in the middle. And land on top of the house.

Mar 3, 7:45am Top

I am crossing my fingers that you are safe and not under the tree!

Mar 3, 1:10pm Top

>243 Chatterbox: I like the Russian ones - heard a very good adaptation on Radio Four, which helped. I didn't get into Birdcage Walk, but you're making me think I should pick it up again. I want to read her poetry, too.

>239 Chatterbox: I'm not sure why Philip Kerr would get the recognition now either - I thought the first three were the best, really.

Mar 3, 1:34pm Top

>243 Chatterbox: Fair enough. I think Bloomsbury published Happiness here and distorted formatting was my main problem, though the missing capitals at the start of sentences were also on quite a big scale.

Mar 3, 3:44pm Top

>247 elkiedee: Yes, the missing capitals are an issue, but I find that more usually it's at the beginning of a paragraph rather than every sentence. But I suspect it varies by book, too.

Meanwhile, I was able to snaffle The Bedlam Stacks from the Athenaeum today -- as I suspected, people here don't follow the Walter Scott prize -- and have asked them to put in a purchase or ILL order for The Wardrobe Mistress.

>246 charl08: Absolutely, the Russian books were gripping. But it's a bit of a shame that a lot of readers don't go past them. I think some of Barry Unsworth's less known books are being re-released, and I just got ARCs of two novels by Wallace Stegner I had never even heard of, Joe Hill and Recapitulation. It seems some novelists get known for a handful of their best works, and then others go out of print entirely.

>245 ChelleBearss: Both the tree and I survived! It's better today -- still overcast, but the wind has actually dried up most of the rain, which is impressive.

Went to the first session of this year's Athenaeum Academy with Arnold Weinstein, professor of comparative literature at Brown. He is an EXCELLENT group leader; this year, we're discussing the theme of "civilization and its discontents" or the malaise that ensues when human beings try to adapt themselves toward the "rules" of civilized behavior. A smaller group than last year, perhaps because of the Freudian title, although we're not reading Freud! This week the discussion was about Manon Lescaut, next Saturday will be Wuthering Heights, then two books I've never read, Light in August by William Faulkner and Beloved by Toni Morrison. I'll have to get my skates on. I will have to do a re-read of Wuthering Heights to keep up with the discussion. But these sessions are so intellectually envigorating that I will just have to pray I don't succumb to a migraine on these Saturday mornings...

Mar 3, 7:09pm Top

>248 Chatterbox: I saw The Bedlam Stacks on the shelf at our library early in the day on Friday. I hope some college student picked it up to read over spring break. I saw faculty, faculty wives, and staff hitting the shelves for reading material for break throughout the day.

Mar 3, 8:44pm Top

Suzanne - just letting you know that we adopted 3 ginger kittens yesterday after a week of trying to decide on two of them. Pictures will be on my thread in a few mins.

Mar 3, 9:00pm Top

>250 avatiakh: I'll be dropping by your thread in a bit too! Need to meet the new kitties.

Edited: Mar 4, 3:03pm Top

I am in the middle of getting my Spring Break titles together. I just placed an ILL request for the recorded version of the 4th book in the Septimus Heap series. I have been trying to get this series read and the fastest way I can do so is to listen to them while traveling long distances. I am also listening to Symphony For the City of the Dead. This one is about Shostakovich and the writing of his 7th symphony. Both of these titles are for work and I just can’t seem to get them read, so listening will have to do.

Mar 3, 9:01pm Top

I heard about the storm on the news last night. It was a dozy. Glad you weathered it OK, even if it did come with a headache.

Mar 3, 11:36pm Top

>250 avatiakh: KITTENS!!! I'll be right over. An antidote to my returned migraine. Which is why the next batch of reading (now that I finished Manon Lescaut for the Athenaeum discussion earlier today) will be lightweight re-reads/audiobooks. Piffle.

>251 thornton37814: Let me know what you think about the Shostakovich book. He fascinates me, and I've read two novels about him in recent years -- the Julian Barnes novella about his life and Sarah Quigley's The Conductor, another book bullet from Kerry/avatiakh. Both are very good. I've got at least one non-fiction book specifically about the 7th symphony (a work I love as a piece of music; saw Rostropovich conduct the LSO in New York in 2002, and the audience was not only giving a standing ovation but literally RUSHED THE STAGE at Lincoln Center...) but have yet to read it.

Mar 4, 8:32pm Top

Glad to hear the tree did not land on you, Suzanne. Was so glad last summer when my new-ish neighbor had the Tree of Damocles on his property, that has threatened my house for as long as I can remember, removed. Would have appreciated it even more during the weekend's storm if I hadn't spent all of Friday night and all day, Saturday, bailing the water that was infesting my basement. Sadly, sump pumps do not work if there is no power.

Almost chose the Spufford book for my little book club to read last month. Think I will pick it the next time it is my turn to choose.

Mar 4, 10:02pm Top

>251 thornton37814: Hopefully the book will await me when I return home. I had the mail held so it is supposed to be delivered Saturday. I find they often don't do the bulk return until the second day when they see I picked up the daily mail the previous day though.

Mar 5, 12:47am Top

Woot! Have just finished my first 75 books!

Time to set up a new thread, but that will have to wait until sometime tomorrow when I don't have a headache and DO have some free time...

Edited: Mar 5, 5:01am Top

Congratulations already reading (your first) 75 books this year!

Mar 5, 7:30am Top

Congrats on your first 75! Amazing

Mar 5, 3:54pm Top

Thanks! I've been fighting (another) migraine, so have been re-listening to the audiobook of The Franchise Affair again, as a "comfort listen... It was one of my fave books last year, and is a great book to listen to and one that I don't have to concentrate on intensely to follow.

Edited: Mar 6, 2:21pm Top

I'm a big fan of Phillip Kerr and liked Prussian Blue a lot.

Listening to The Left Hand of Darkness from Audible and wish I could speed it up - but I've read it before

Mar 6, 2:51pm Top

Congrats on the 75 from me too. Hope your migraine is a thing of the past.

Mar 6, 9:25pm Top

Congrats on the 1st 75. I'm not too far behind.

Mar 6, 9:36pm Top

Stopping by is so dangerous! I've put lots of your recent reads on the WL!

Mar 7, 1:04am Top

>212 Chatterbox: Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic by David Frum. I would have avoided it of the cover and the cheap title, (trumpocracy - I just don't like it), but it sound like you found a good one there!

Congrats on the 75!!! Awesome :)

Mar 7, 11:34am Top

To join in on Trumpocracy, I am 90% done with it based on your recommendation. Can't say I am "enjoying" it but a very interesting and important book.

Mar 7, 3:19pm Top

>248 Chatterbox: The Athenaeum Academy seminar sounds wonderful. I'm envious, and must look for something challenging here.

Mar 7, 9:37pm Top

I heard David Frum talk this last weekend on the New York Times Book Review Podcast and found him an interesting thinker. I didn’t agree with him, but he is at least rational and not as overbearing as William Buckley and some of those other conservative talking heads. Of course this was an interview and not a screaming match on Fox TV so it made a difference.

Mar 8, 3:25am Top

So I'm starting to read the Walter Scott Prize nominees that I want to read -- here's the "sub list", of the longlist candidates, that intrigue me most, and that I plan to read or have read. I just finished The Last Man in Europe by Dennis Glover, a very good bio novel of George Orwell, if not quite as excellent as I had hoped it might be -- still fascinating, especially if you know relatively little about the man but have read his major works.

Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore -- READ
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan -- READ
The Last Man in Europe by Dennis Glover -- READ
Sugar Money by Jane Harris (reading now)
Prussian Blue by Philip Kerr -- READ
The Draughtsman by Robert Lautner
The Wardrobe Mistress by Patrick McGrath
Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves by Rachel Malik
The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers (possibly will read)
The Horseman by Tim Pears (possibly will read)
The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley

Based on what I've read so far, I hope that Dunmore's book will be shortlisted, and I suspect/hope that Sugar Money will be, based on the strength of the writing and the ideas. Personally, I thought Manhattan Beach was readable and interesting, but not deeply impressive in terms of the writing. It's not a book I'll return to or that has left a mark on me. I'd be surprised to find Prussian Blue on the shortlist, and much as I dash to read each new book in this series, and however well they are written, this wasn't prize-worthy material (unless we're talking maybe an Edgar?) I'll read Sugar Money and probably The Draughtsman next.

The weather has meant a lot of easy comfort reading and re-reading and audiobooks, so relatively little that is challenging or amazing. That said, I did finally finish An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic by Daniel Mendelsohn, and gave it the full five stars.

>268 benitastrnad: I'm not sure where Frum fits, philosophically, this days, and that has led me to think about our readiness/eagerness to label and pigeonhole people; to put them into categories. He has backed away from many of the ideas he once embraced and is showing/developing a more pragmatic streak, which is what intrigues me. He seems to be becoming the kind of thinker who wants to base his ideas on facts rather than ideologies, or at least fewer ideologies. The idea of "freedom" and that of "democracy" as core goods are key to his thinking, and I suspect we'd differ in what we view as essential to our freedom, for instance. I tend to agree with George Soros that unbridled capitalism can become as much of a tyranny as unbridled political control (viz communism), and I don't think Frum goes there. But his critique of Trump's recklessness and danger is spot on.

>266 Oberon: I think when I say I enjoy a book like this, it's because it forces me to think and evaluate and consider where we are and where we are headed, but in a rational and thoughtful way, not employing much in the way of polemics. And I appreciate that. It's very easy to relapse into hyperbole and never to even approach thoughts or ideas presented by "others" who aren't precisely aligned with you, and shout alongside them, but I actually see a danger in that, of narrowing one's mind. If you don't think about what challenges exist to your belief system, how do you know that it's defendable? It's right because you say it's right? That way disaster lies.

>267 ffortsa: I've been lucky to find the Athenaeum. It replaces the myriad events that do exist in NYC -- the stuff at the public library, at the 92nd street Y, at the New School, etc. Go to the IQ Squared debates -- the Oxford-style debates held every few weeks on all kinds of matters. I always found those fascinating. No, it's not a mini-college seminar, but when you feel envious, remember this is a total of 8 hours over four weeks, once a year. And then it's over. *cue sad face* That said, if you wanted to look into something like this, why not look for a course at NYU or Columbia that fascinates you, contact the instructor and ask if you could audit it? It can be walking on eggshells, as some instructors are insistent that their courses are for the benefit of the undergraduates seeking degrees, so it may mean literally sitting there and keeping silent; others may be (slightly) more open to participation, but there would be a limit to how much you could be a full participant if you weren't enrolled. Still, worth looking into if you're very interested in something specific.

We're in the midst of the second nor'easter in a week. The rain switched to sleet, and then to snow, and now it's wet snow and who knows what it will be like tomorrow, other than a mess. But the power is still on, hurrah. This time, I think people south of us got hit worse, with more snow, as the storm moved northward.

Mar 8, 10:16am Top

I think that books like Frum's are important. I agree with you that perhaps the title is unfortunate as it implies that it is in reaction to Trump when it appears, from what you have said, and what Frum said in his interview, that it is about more than that. The reliance on hyperbole is something that has disturbed me. Our TV and radio commentators use it all the time, and the crescendo of screaming doomsayers on both sides reached a fever pitch, in my mind, a year ago. The decibel level of the hyperbolic screaming has seemed to decrease, and I put that down to the demise of Bill O'Reilly. He seemed to keep the frenzy whipped up, and the screaming level set so high, so that important conservative political policy thinkers and makers couldn't even be heard amongst the din. I had the same problem with William Buckley. Sometimes he said, and wrote, important things, but he was so willing to get into shouting matches that any rational commentary got lost.

I am not ashamed to admit that the absence of Bill O'Reilly has been a good thing for me, as it has at least allowed me to now hear some quieter calmer voices that, while still not my own political philosophy, raise important issues that need to be considered.

Mar 10, 5:51pm Top

I'm kind of like you on the prize nominees. I will read the ones I want to read. However, it may take me awhile to get to them because I simply have too many ARCs on hand at the moment I need to read. Between those and challenge books, I'm covered up in reading.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2018

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