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Papa Jim (jim53) starts the third half of life in 2018

The Green Dragon

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Jan 1, 2:31pm Top

Happy new year and welcome!

Now that I'm no longer working, I get to figure out what to be when I grow up. One of my main identities is "Papa Jim," which is what my two adorable grandkids call me. Another is The New Guy in Town, since we're moving at the end of January, changing states for the first time since we married in 1978. The aforementioned grandkids are a big reason, as are my aging parents. Other identities, secret and not-so-, will no doubt emerge.

I've just started looking at A Hard Day's Write, which my sweetie gave me for Christmas. It purports to describe the process by which the Beatles composed each of their songs. I expect the middle section to include numerous references to recreational chemicals. It's a nice break from all the fiction, primarily mysteries, that I've been reading over the last couple of months. But I'm sure I'll be back to that before long.

Jan 1, 2:52pm Top

>1 Jim53: "Other identities, secret and not-so-, will no doubt emerge. "

Do your Handlers know about this?

It seems like everyone is moving! May it go well for you.

Jan 1, 3:01pm Top

Good luck with all the changes. Happy New Year to you and yours.

Jan 1, 3:01pm Top

>1 Jim53: Good luck with the upcoming move! Out-of-state moves are a lot of work, but there are also some fun aspects to getting settled into a new place.

Jan 1, 3:06pm Top

Happy New year and good luck with the move.

Jan 1, 4:28pm Top

Happy new year. I've got you starred.

Jan 1, 8:01pm Top

I hope that your move goes well, and that you and your wife have a healthy and happy new year. Have fun with your grandchildren!

Jan 2, 5:45pm Top

Always happy to hear about your reading! And yes, I hope the move goes smoothly.

Jan 3, 11:45am Top

Sounds like 2018 is going to be a big year for you! I hope all goes well and that you find time to read some good books along the way.

Jan 3, 12:58pm Top

I hope 2018 is a brilliant year for you and yours.

Jan 4, 10:45am Top

>2 MrsLee: >3 majkia: >4 YouKneeK: >5 Peace2: >6 Meredy: >7 SylviaC: >8 jillmwo: >9 Sakerfalcon: >10 pgmcc: Thanks, all, for coming by and for your good wishes. Lots going on these days, so I'm still reading the Beatles book (and having some interesting dreams after reading it at bedtime), and also working my way slowly and thoughtfully through The Naked Now, which is not exactly what it sounds like.

Edited: Jun 28, 9:38am Top

I'm copying this from Narilka's thread; it looks interesting.

2018 Popsugar Category Reading Challenge
This is a challenge I'm participating in a group on Good Reads. Looks like it may be interesting. If anyone else thinks this would be fun feel free to copy/paste this into your own thread and see how you do! I'm going to see how close I can come this year to completing the list though do not expect to finish. Some of these will be challenging.

- Books must be started and finished in 2018
- One book can count for a maximum of two categories
- You can join in at any point in the year and the books you have already read can count towards the challenge
- Graphic novels count
- No minimum page count (unless the category states)



1. A book made into a movie you've already seen
2. True Crime
3. The next book in a series you started Necessary as Blood
4. A book involving a heist
5. Nordic noir
6. A novel based on a real person A Piece of the World
7. A book set in a country that fascinates you The Book of Killowen
8. A book with a time of day in the title
9. A book about a villain or antihero
10. A book about death or grief The Tuscan Child
11. A book with a female author who uses a male pseudonym Trust Me
12. A book with an LGBTQ+ protagonist
13. A book that is also a stage play or musical
14. A book by an author of a different ethnicity than you The Killing Moon
15. A book about feminism
16. A book about mental health The Rosie Project
17. A book you borrowed or that was given to you as a gift A Hard Day's Write
18. A book by two authors Shoot to Thrill
19. A book about or involving a sport No Mark Upon Her
20. A book by a local author
21. A book with your favorite color in the title
22. A book with alliteration in the title The Vineyard Victims
23. A book about time travel
24. A book with a weather element in the title
25. A book set at sea
26. A book with an animal in the title
27. A book set on a different planet
28. A book with song lyrics in the title All Mortal Flesh
29. A book about or set on Halloween
30. A book with characters who are twins
31. A book mentioned in another book
32. A book from a celebrity book club
33. A childhood classic you've never read Charlotte's Web
34. A book that's published in 2018 The Hush
35. A past Goodreads Choice Awards winner
36. A book set in the decade you were born
37. A book you meant to read in 2017 but didn't get to
38. A book with an ugly cover
39. A book that involves a bookstore or library
40. Your favorite prompt from the 2015, 2016, or 2017 POPSUGAR Reading Challenges: a book set in a hotel A Gentleman in Moscow


1. A bestseller from the year you graduated high school
2. A cyberpunk book
3. A book that was being read by a stranger in a public place
4. A book tied to your ancestry
5. A book with a fruit or vegetable in the title
6. An allegory The Magician's Nephew
7. A book by an author with the same first or last name as you
8. A microhistory
9. A book about a problem facing society today
10. A book recommended by someone else taking the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge All Systems Red

narilka maybe we can recommend books to each other for that last advanced category ;-)

Jan 4, 2:11pm Top

>12 Jim53:
Interesting challenge.

Jan 4, 4:55pm Top

YAY! Good luck Jim :) Happy new year and happy reading!

Jan 5, 8:56am Top

>12 Jim53: I'm making a copy of that list to keep by my reading chair. I like to see what have on my TBR piles to match these sorts of things. I used to use random selections from the TIOLI challenges to find which book to read next. Sometimes the match is only in my mind.

Jan 5, 9:04am Top

The first book I've finished in 2018 is A Hard Day's Write, which provides stories about each of the songs that the Beatles recorded. There are some occasional interesting details, e.g., Paul took the bass line for one song from Duck Dunn's bass line on Otis Redding's Respect. There were also some insights into the personalities of John and Paul, the primary composers, and a bit about the operation of the band. It got me interested in a few songs that I don't remember, so I'll check them out. While I read through it in sections, more or less by album, I think this would be a fun book to just open randomly at times, in other words, a good bathroom book. Three stars.

This book satisfies one category in the Popsugar challenge:

17. A book you borrowed or that was given to you as a gift

Jan 5, 4:24pm Top

>16 Jim53: That sounds like it would be a great read for a Beatles fan.

>12 Jim53: So I was thinking... anything I review that gives you a book bullet and vice versa could count for Advanced #10 right? :)

Jan 5, 4:58pm Top

I like the sound of the Beatles' one - although having taken a peek at the books I should borrow it's not one of the ones on that list! (Clearly not enough Beatles or music represented in my catalogue!) but boy aren't there loads there to look out for.

Jan 5, 5:26pm Top

Oooh, one is so tempted to be helpful by firing off book bullets right and left that could fit into those various challenge categories. I'm sure I could help with Nordic Noir if you got stuck (and I don't even like Nordic Noir). But the fun of those challenges is -- of course -- picking up things that appeal to you that happen to fit one of the slots. (But, as a warning, I am thinking very hard. Something may slip out.)

Jan 5, 9:48pm Top

>17 Narilka: I think you're absotively posilutely correct!

>19 jillmwo: Don't feel bad about succumbing to that temptation. I will mostly just fit in books that I want to read already, but I'm always up for recommendations. I have a long list at the Durham library that I will not be able to get through before we move, so I'll have to check out the libraries here. Are you up on the Chester County library system and how they are with ILL and that sort of thing?

I'm not crazy about Nordic Noir either. That might be one of the last categories I'd shoot for, unless I were to receive an enthusiastic recommendation.

Jan 6, 10:28am Top

>20 Jim53: I think Chester County libraries are respectable (I will verify w/ one of my buddies) and Pennsylvania has a remarkably robust system for borrowing state-wide. I don't know what their rules are, but you might also look into seeing whether you can get borrowing privileges at Westchester University if you're so inclined.

Edited: Jan 6, 12:27pm Top

>19 jillmwo: >20 Jim53: ?? Never heard of Nordic noir before. *off to google*

edit: aha. Read the wikipedia entry. Doesn't sound like my thing either, but then, I read very little that is not SFF.

Jan 6, 8:27pm Top

>22 zjakkelien: I had to look up what Nordic Noir is too :)

>19 jillmwo: What do you recommend in this area? I've been thinking to try Jo Nesbo to fit this category.

Jan 6, 9:15pm Top

In my experience, Nordic Noir is usually a story set in a bleak landscape, with unexpressive characters and an overall depressing story. Not quite my cuppa.

>21 jillmwo: Thanks!

Jan 7, 9:15am Top

>24 Jim53: Having looked up the Wikipedia definition, it would seem that you have nailed it on the head.

IF I were going to read anything for that, I would use my magic definition stretching powers and go for a German author, Jutta Profijt, who wrote Morgue Drawer Four, which I have read, and there are more in the series which I have but have not read. A snarky guy finds himself dead, but still able to communicate with one police officer and he hounds and harries him to find the person who killed him. At least, that is how I remember it. It was a fun read, even though a bit more edgy than my usual haunts.

Jan 7, 9:19am Top

Before we left on our Christmas trip (four generations together from 2 yo to 94, great fun), I had started Necessary as Blood, one of Deb's Kincaid-and-James mysteries, but I had to return it to the library. I generally don't take library books on trips. So yesterday I borrowed it again and read a few pages to get back into the story.

While we were away, my ARC of The Hush arrived. Ha ha, the touchstone that comes up is Silence. This is Hart's follow-up to The Last Child, my favorite of his, and served as a reason to reread TLC on our trip. That's next in the queue.

Jan 7, 10:40am Top

Recognizing that it's not appropriate for all, >23 Narilka:, I'll follow up the request this way. Nordic Noir tends to be very dark and gritty. It usually involves professional policemen rather than amateur sleuths so may tend towards procedurals. It's risen in popularity over the past decade as the US market has shown willingness to be introduced to and buy authors in translation. So with various book groups, I have read the following:

Jo Nesbo The Redbreast Please note I hated this one but aficionados of the genre love this series.
Karin Fossum Don't Look Back Tolerable
Jussi Adler-Olsen The Keeper of Lost Causes This one worked for me. It was in some ways claustrophobic, but not as depressing as other Nordic Noir.
Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowell The Laughing Policeman Far less gritty than the general Nordic Noir fare, but written in an earlier period.
Stieg Larsson Girl with the dragon tattoo Couldn't deal with the abuse & violence myself.

Not read myself but recommended by those who like this gritty kind of crime fiction

Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg
1222 or Blind Goddess by Anne Holt
What My Body Remembers By Agnete Friis;

Again, I'm not a fan of Nordic Noir myself, but it's a subgenre of crime fiction that seems to be rising in popularity so that's probably why it showed up on that Challenge List.

Jan 7, 4:21pm Top

Today we went to The Regulator and purchased a copy of A Piece of the World, which is the February book for the book club in our new community. It looks very interesting, and our Durham book club enjoyed her Orphan Train last year.

Jan 8, 2:11am Top

I really don't like a depressing atmosphere in books. I don't mind if bad things happen every now and then, but that doesn't mean it has to be described as if all hope is lost and life can never be good. Yuk.

Jan 8, 7:04am Top

>29 zjakkelien: I don't really find Nordic Noir to be hope-less and bleak. The landscape is often bleak, the weather a large part in the stories, a canvas to add to the dark story line, but the people are living their lives amidst what we see as hardship and doing just fine. The bad guys are bad guys. The detectives are sometimes miserable, but that is true of the usual run of worn out cops trying to find complex answers.

I love the Department Q series starting with The Keeper of Lost Causes because the cop, although worn out and cynical, has to deal with some madding and desperately funny colleagues who lighten the darkness with their dedication and outlook.

Edited: Jan 10, 8:38pm Top

I finished Necessary as Blood, which wasn't quite as good as the previous couple of entries in this series, but still a fun read. It had that quality that I've seen in some PI stories, of lots of running around, seemingly more or less at random, and the clues coming together only right at the end. Well, yes, Jim, that's why it's the end. But sometimes there's more of a sense of development earlier in the story. Then again, this is probably an accurate representation of how some cases go. Crombie still does a nice job of integrating personal and family issues with the police procedure, and has begun putting a little more flesh on a couple of characters who hadn't previously had much. Three and a half stars.

ETA: this satisfies another Popsugar category:

3. The next book in a series you started

so that's two down.

Jan 10, 8:35pm Top

I've begun The Hush, John Hart's sequel to one of my favorites, The Last Child. The beginning tends toward magical realism as much as anything; it's pretty nifty. I'm curious to see where it's going. OK, so get offline and read it.

Jan 13, 11:53am Top

Wow. The Hush really sucked me in. It's a real genre-buster, with great characters and setting. I think the last novel that I liked this well was All the Light We Cannot See, a completely different book, about a year and a half ago. Here's my five-star review:

The Hush picks up Johnny Merrimon's story ten years after the conclusion of The Last Child, my favorite among Hart's previous works. Johnny now owns Hush Arbor, the large, wild area that his ancestor deeded to the Freemantle family. Johnny has developed a deep feeling for the land, living with minimal conveniences, able to see and feel what is happening throughout his property. Johnny's old friend Jack Cross, now an attorney in Charlotte, is his only regular visitor. Strange things, sometimes fatal, always inexplicable, have happened to others who have entered the Hush.

The last remnants of the Freemantle family are challenging Johnny's rights to the land, aided by a billionaire who wants to purchase it from them. When the billionaire dies a horrible death on a hunting trip into the Hush, the sheriff assumes that Johnny, whom nobody understands, is
responsible. Jack works to protect his friend, who is tortured by dreams of his ancestor's actions. Creola Freemantle, the last of her line, also dreams of the same history, from the point of view of the line of women descended from Merrimon's first female slave, who had been a queen in Africa.

Hart has created a wonderful genre-busting novel that incorporates mystery, magical realism, history, the supernatural, and horror. He creates a strong sense of foreboding about the experiences of unwelcome visitors in the Hush's swamp. Nobody, including Johnny, knows what happens in these incidents. As Johnny learns more about his ancestor's story through guided dreams, we finally begin to see some answers, and to understand the choices that Johnny must make in the end.

Hart's characterizations are sharp as usual, and his attention to setting is superb. He keeps the reader in the dark, revealing tantalizing bits of knowledge as Johnny and others gain them. The book grabbed me and wouldn't let go; it's been a while since I've wanted to put aside everything else to stay immersed and find out what's going on. The Last Child was and still is a wonderful book, but with The Hush Hart has surpassed it.

The Hush will be published next month, so it satisfies:

34. A book that's published in 2018

Jan 13, 12:02pm Top

Just saw this on Facebook. I will definitely read a couple of these.

Sh**hole countries: a reading list.

Jan 15, 8:42am Top

I just started the third Lychford book. Not inspired at he beginning but will keep going.

Jan 15, 9:34am Top

>30 majkia: I thought Lost Causes sounded interesting so looked it up. Already on my wishlist.

Jan 15, 3:02pm Top

A quote for today:

"I have decided to stick to love... hate is too great a burden to bear."

-MLK Jr.

Jan 15, 5:41pm Top

>35 Jim53: The third Lychford book is focused on the negative impact of the Brexit vote on British society. It is basically a Brexit protest book and could lose readers who are not up to speed on what has been happening in England or the economic disaster that Britain is heading for if it continues with Brexit.

Jan 16, 3:50pm Top

>38 pgmcc: yeah, I gathered that, but the metaphors were too subtle for me or something. I'm sorta up on the Brexit implications--they sound awful--but it seemed to me that a story about shutting oneself or one's world off from other realities*, and the suffering that would ensue, would have been the way to do that. I finished the book last night; had it been longer, I might not have.

*we won't talk about building walls.

Jan 16, 3:53pm Top

Next up is The Killing Moon, a bullet from littlegeek.

Jan 16, 6:14pm Top

>40 Jim53: I really liked that. I'll be interested to read what you think of it!

Jan 17, 9:47am Top

I'm enjoying The Killing Moon, but her use of ichor" as one of the colors on the flag reminds me of UKL's rant about "ichor" as an infallible sign of the seventh-rate stylist. Jemisin is clearly not that, but I'll be interested to see if there is any particular reason for her use of the word.

Jan 17, 4:50pm Top

>42 Jim53: Ha, I have to admit that I don’t even remember that.

Jan 18, 9:05am Top

>37 Jim53: Love that.

Jan 18, 9:14am Top

Yesterday we had a wonderful long walk in about seven or eight inches of snow. This is something we used to do when we first met, in gradual school in Columbus. We were both quite worn out by the time we got back. I didn't think I could keep up with The Killing Moon, so I pulled out The Magician's Nephew. Such fun going back and forth between exotic worlds and prosaic London. I think this satisfies one of the advanced categories of the Popsugar challenge:

6. An allegory

So that's four down out of 50.

Jan 18, 11:42am Top

Gradual school sounds like fun.

Jan 18, 12:03pm Top

Jan 18, 12:04pm Top

>45 Jim53: You conjured up a wonderful atmosphere in that post. It is great to hear you can enjoy a walk.

Jan 18, 2:01pm Top

>48 pgmcc: Thank you, Peter. It really was a wonderful atmosphere. When I think about my condition two years ago, I'm grateful for all the improvements, and looking forward to more adventures.

Jan 18, 2:04pm Top

>46 suitable1: It actually was a good bit of fun. I'm contemplating whether i might want to take a course somewhere next fall, to learn some new stuff and keep my brain alive. I might not hang out on the basketball court quite as much, though.

Edited: Jan 19, 9:53am Top


Jan 19, 9:49am Top

>51 Jim53: I can't see it.

Jan 19, 9:54am Top

>51 Jim53: I couldn't either. I made it my new profile picture. We also timed this so precisely that we both created entry #51, tho I suspect one will change.

Edited: Jan 19, 10:03am Top

>53 Jim53: I think groups are a little glitchy this morning. I'll go look at your profile. :)

Very nice! It's been a long time since I've had the opportunity to walk in a snowstorm. Some would say this is a good thing, but if one doesn't have to, it makes all the difference in the world.

Jan 19, 12:18pm Top

>40 Jim53: I haven't even read that one!

Jan 19, 12:48pm Top

>55 littlegeek: I guess that means it's an author bullet rather than a book bullet. I had heard of Jemisin but didn't pick one up till I saw her in your list. So far I'm enjoying it quite a bit, so thank you!

Jan 19, 12:50pm Top

>54 MrsLee: You're right: there are a lot of things that we hate having to do but enjoy doing by choice.

Jan 19, 2:07pm Top

>56 Jim53: oh good, I do want to read more of her books.

Jan 19, 9:14pm Top

Hey, Jim! I'll be skulking around your thread. Happy to hear your new knees are working well. Best of luck with your move. If you don't mind me asking, how far are you moving and what is your timeframe?

Jan 19, 9:34pm Top

>59 clamairy: Welcome, Clam! It's good to see you. We are moving to eastern PA, about 350 miles mostly north and a little east of our current location in Durham. We were up there over new year's and had some snow, but nothing like what we just had here in NC! We'll be heading out right about the end of January. Thanks for your good wishes, and I hope all is going as well as can be for you and yours.

Jan 19, 9:40pm Top

>60 Jim53: Sounds like you'll be close to jillmwo! My brother is in Durham and he got more snow than we did this week. Your move is much sooner than I realized. Best of luck to you. Stay sane!

Jan 20, 8:10pm Top

>61 clamairy: It's sooner than we originally planned! But we found the house and didn't see any reason to wait. Sanity is another matter, though. Did I see that you're moving too?

Jan 20, 8:29pm Top

Aaack! I put in a thorough, brilliant set of reactions to Carl Jung Goes to Ancient Egypt on Io, but the ichor or the ether or something ate it. The real name of the book is The Killing Moon, and I enjoyed it quite well. A good solid four-star book, and I'll look for the sequel at some point.

This book satisfies:

14. A book by an author of a different ethnicity than you

I'll re-create my comments at some point.

Jan 20, 8:47pm Top

>63 Jim53: I’m happy you enjoyed the book, and quite angry at both the ichor and the ether for whatever part they played in eating your original comments. ;)

Jan 20, 8:50pm Top

>63 Jim53: It's on my tbr shelves so it's good to see some positivity for it. I haven't read any of her work as yet but it's only a matter of time.

Edited: Jan 21, 5:07pm Top

Still figuring out how to get images just how I want them, but at least they're appearing now. These are from our walk on Wednesday.

Jan 21, 5:17pm Top

>62 Jim53: Yes, I am. My time frame for my move has also been sped up a bit. Hoping to be able to move down to The Island by the end of the Summer. It all depends on how quickly my place sells and it's probably going on the market in early June. I am going to miss seeing bears on a regular basis. But it will nice to be able to feed the birds all year round again. As the crow flies it's only 63 miles South and East of here, but it's closer to 100 if you drive and take a 80 minute ferry ride, and well over 200 miles if you drive around through NYC. Which I won't be doing. I'm only crossing one state line.

Jan 21, 5:17pm Top

>66 Jim53: LOVELY!!!

Jan 21, 9:01pm Top

>67 clamairy: >68 clamairy: Best wishes for sanity for you too! And thank you.

Jan 22, 9:12am Top

>66 Jim53: Brrrrrrr, frosty goodness!

So, katylit and MerryMary have moved this month I believe. Lots of upheavals going on around here, hope all goes smoothly for you both, >60 Jim53: and >67 clamairy:

Jan 22, 2:49pm Top

>70 MrsLee: Thanks!

Edited: Jan 23, 8:48pm Top

Last night I started The Vineyard Victims, old friend Ellen Crosby's latest Lucie Montgomery mystery. I was pleased to see that the book has been nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark award. One of my favorite characters in this series is general-store owner Thelma, clearly a descendant of Ms. Malaprop, who bemoans the fact that her mortgage is upside down because she bought the store during a bubble bath market. It's hard for me to be entirely objective about these books; I'm definitely enjoying this one.

For those who are interested, here is MWA's list of award nominees.

Jan 23, 8:48am Top

Love the pictures. Makes me quite homesick for Connecticut.

Jan 23, 8:43pm Top

>73 majkia: Thanks. I put some on Facebook and an acquaintance, thinking we were up north already, told us we could have seen snow like that down in NC. My wife explained to him that NC is where the pictures are from. It looked as if our new home in PA got less than we did.

My goodness, I just looked to see where you are, and noticed that you have 310 books for me to borrow! That will take some time just to look through the list.

Jan 23, 8:46pm Top

I'm greatly saddened to hear of the death of one of my real favorites, Ursula K. LeGuin. I've been reading her books and essays for over 50 years. I feel a great urge to go back and read some now.

Jan 23, 8:49pm Top

I fixed the broken link in 72 if anyone wanted to see the list of MWA nominees.

Edited: Jan 23, 9:28pm Top

I finished The Vineyard Victims, which is another solid entry in this fun series. Crosby introduces some new characters to give a clear idea of where the series might go next, presenting Lucie with some tough challenges related to her history and her disability. Good stuff.

Like all the books in this series, this one satisfies this challenge category:

22. A book with alliteration in the title

Jan 24, 8:26am Top

>72 Jim53: Thank you so much for drawing my attention to the Edgar Nominees. I hadn't seen the notice and now I am wondering if it's even vaguely possible for me to read some of those titles before the winners are actually announced.

Jan 24, 1:03pm Top

>78 jillmwo: I've read fewer than in past years. I appreciated/admired Bluebird, Bluebird more than I really enjoyed it. I'm a little surprised to see Long Way Down listed as a YA title; I thought it was pretty intense. Maybe I'm not giving young adults enough credit. I'll be looking for more of these, along with the Agatha nominees, which will be announced in February.

Of those I did read, my 2017 favorites were Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, Glass Houses, and August Snow, with The Magpie Murders, The Dry, and City of Saviors a bit behind.

Jan 24, 3:38pm Top

>79 Jim53: Magpie Murders was very fun, I agree.

Jan 25, 8:32am Top

>66 Jim53: I love your snow pictures! I wish we got proper snow here in London, but at best we get a sprinkling.

Jan 25, 9:20am Top

>81 Sakerfalcon: Thanks, Claire! I'd be glad to share if we could figure out how. We've been alternating sixty-degree days and colder ones since then, and the snow is all gone except for a few places in parking lots where it was piled up and compacted.

Jan 25, 9:21am Top

>80 littlegeek: It was, in a clever way, but there wasn't a character that I cared about. That would have made it fantastic.

Jan 25, 12:51pm Top

>83 Jim53: Yes, it was plot driven, but a lot of mysteries are so for me it was fine.

Edited: Jan 26, 4:41pm Top

I just finished the 14th Kincaid-and-James mystery, No Mark upon Her. I liked it better than the last one: the plot threads are more interwoven, and there are some very well drawn secondary characters. Unlike the last couple in this series, Kincaid has a much bigger role than James in this one, but that will probably switch again; she was less visible in this one because she was taking family leave after adopting the little girl whose parents were killed in a prior volume. Now her leave is ending and Kincaid will start his. So I expect Gemma will have the bigger role in #15.

sakerfalcon I think I remember your mentioning liking books with information about different sports. This one is largely focused on rowing and regattas on the Thames. I guess it satisfies this challenge category:

19. A book about or involving a sport

Jan 27, 7:10am Top

>85 Jim53: Thanks for remembering that! There are specific sports that interest me enough that I'll read outside my usual genres if they are part of the plot. I don't think I've read anything about competitive rowing so I might have to give this one a try. Would it be possible to read as a stand-alone?

Jan 27, 9:55pm Top

>86 Sakerfalcon: I know folks who have read various books in this series first, and they typically say that the book worked ok without its predecessors. I really like what Crombie does with various relationships from one volume to the next, so I'm reading them in order. I should say that you don't learn lots about rowing--no competitions are shown--but it does drive the story, and there are interesting rowing-related quotations at the beginning of each chapter. Might be a good candidate for borrowing from the library.

Jan 28, 4:23pm Top

Meh. My last book from the Durham Public Library was Nobody Move, a sort of silly noir caper. The writing is good, but the story, even the discussion of eating testicles, seemed pretty pointless. I brought it back today and turned in my library card. I was reflecting on how much joy it's given me over the twelve years that we've lived here. I hope I'll get as much stimulation and enjoyment out of the next one.

Jan 29, 7:06pm Top

>88 Jim53: Sounds very bittersweet... :õ/

Jan 31, 2:13pm Top

>89 clamairy: Leaving Durham was hard. We had many good friends there and will miss seeing them. I suspect we'll visit on occasion. For now, though, lots of settling in to do in the new place. New friends to make, and much easier visits to parents, grandkids, and others.

Not too surprisingly, I haven't gotten much reading done the past few days ;-)

Feb 1, 1:17pm Top

>90 Jim53: Well, welcome to your new home, then! I hope the settling in (and the making of new friends) proceeds quickly. And I wish you many happy hours perusing the shelves at your new public library.

Feb 2, 5:21pm Top

>91 clamairy: Thanks! The truck arrived today and was unloaded more quickly than I expected. So now we're awash in boxes, but at least we have the stuff we need... if we can find it.

Feb 2, 7:40pm Top

>92 Jim53: Oh, I remember that feeling all too well. And I'm not really looking forward to unpacking again. I had no trouble letting strangers pack up my stuff, but I needed to put it away myself or I knew I'd never find it. And I let well meaning family members un-box and shelve all of my books the last time I moved back in 2000 and then I felt like I never got them in the right order again.

Feb 3, 4:35am Top

>92 Jim53: Good luck with all the unpacking and settling in. I hope your new house soon feels like home.

Feb 3, 9:20am Top

>94 Sakerfalcon: Thanks, Claire! It's beginning to feel that way already. We met another new neighbor yesterday, who lives "behind" us and is a small-gauge model railroad enthusiast

>93 clamairy: The spaces here are configured differently from our previous home, so we're having to figure out new ways of organizing things, including the kitchen and linen closets. I'm mostly on the implementation side of things right now ;-)

I've managed a bit of reading the last couple of evenings. I'm about 100 pages into A Piece of the World, a fictional biography of Christina Olson, the woman in Wyeth's famous painting. Baker's storytelling goes down very easily. She goes back and forth between several times, showing us different periods in Christina's life.

Feb 3, 7:31pm Top

>95 Jim53: Depending on where you are in eastern PA, the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford has a good collection of Andrew Wyeth's work on permanent exhibition (as well as NC's and Jamie's and various other Wyeths). Don't know if any if the Christina paintings are currently on display.

Edited: Feb 3, 8:47pm Top

>95 Jim53: I am going to say the same thing as MinuteMarginalia. The Brandywine is a fabulous option for a day trip (when you're tired of sorting out boxes). You can learn about the Wyeths, but also about American illustrators' work.

Feb 4, 2:52am Top

>96 MinuteMarginalia:, >97 jillmwo: I agree! It's a wonderful place.

Feb 4, 11:55am Top

>96 MinuteMarginalia: >97 jillmwo: >98 Sakerfalcon: Thanks all! That's only about a half hour from us. I wonder if that influenced the choice of the book for the club. Sounds like a great way to take a break from unpacking.

Feb 7, 11:55am Top

Yesterday we went to get our PA driver's licenses. Spent almost three hours waiting but finally got done. Worth it because now we can get library cards!

On the way we saw the Brandywine River Museum. We'll head back there some time before too long (as one of our new neighbors said the other day, "some time between now and the future").

Feb 8, 9:29am Top

On the first page of A Piece of the World I thought, "Uh oh. Present tense," but Kline makes it work well and I think it adds a sense of immediacy to the novel. She tells the story of Christina Olson, a woman living in coastal Maine in the 1940s, with glimpses back to her childhood and to her twenties. In the "current time," we see Christina and her brother Al, living in a home that has been in her mother's family for generations but which is now getting older and a bit decrepit, reflecting its residents. A young family friend brings her beau, Andy, over for a visit. He is intrigued by the house and farm, as well as the two older people living there. Andy comes to visit almost every day and sets up a painting studio in an unused bedroom. Christina becomes his muse--a rather cranky and sometimes bitter one--and eventually he creates his famous painting, showing her lying in the field, reaching and yearning toward the house.

The story is not primarily Wyeth's, but Christina's. We see her disability arising when she is six years old; her father takes her into the town to see a doctor, but she begs him not to make her see him, and finally he acquiesces. Is this meant to say that Christina has chosen the disability that will have her unable to walk by the book's end? We also see a romance of a few summers, and Christina's yearning to have a bigger life than what she has on the farm. By the end of the story she has become self-centered, focusing primarily on her difficulties, yet able to overcome her distress to interact with others. It's a very well told story, one that gets a bit harder to read toward the end, but definitely moving and interesting. The cover is also quite beautiful and fits the story well. Four stars.

This book satisfies this pop sugar category:

6. A novel based on a real person

Feb 8, 9:31am Top

We're still working quite hard on unpacking and deciding where stuff goes, so I am re-reading Julia S-F's All Mortal Flesh, one of my favorites in her series.

Feb 8, 9:43am Top

I kind of liked the unpacking process. Putting things away in ways that were a better use of space or fit a process of use better. It gave me the opportunity of shaking things up a bit from how we'd always done them. I still move stuff around if it turns out that was a dumb place for it. Efficiency and use of space.

I know. I'm nuts.

Feb 8, 10:15am Top

>102 Jim53: I heard Julia Spencer-Fleming speak at a conference some years ago, and she was as delightful as her books. All Mortal Flesh is a favorite of mine, too.

Feb 8, 6:10pm Top

>103 Bookmarque: I can completely identify with this. :)

Feb 8, 8:57pm Top

>103 Bookmarque: 105 I do like looking around and figuring out where to put things for optimal access and ease of use. Our new house has some rooms that are bigger and smaller than the same rooms in previous houses, so we're definitely doing some reallocating.

>104 MinuteMarginalia: Julia is such a dear person. I have really felt for her over the last couple of years. It sounds as if we might get a new book late this year or more likely early 2019.

Feb 9, 4:30am Top

>106 Jim53:
looking around and figuring out where to put things for optimal access and ease of use.

We moved into our current house in 1992. The converted garage was assigned as my study. In practice (i.e. the practice of family members other than myself) it is the "we'll dump it in here in the meantime" room.

Feb 9, 9:27am Top

We have lived in our current home for 27 years (gah! how has it been that long?). Due to various family members moving out, moving back in, then out again, dying, and then another generation moving in, we have had to re-evaluate our spaces many times. Expanding and contracting, this house almost breathes.

I do love to re-think things. My pantry is about due for an over-haul, since my youngest recently moved out again. I have to decide how many jars/bottles I really need. Am I going to continue the kombucha thing? How much fermenting will I be doing? What about making brews? Ah, easy life decisions. Much nicer than the difficult ones.

Feb 9, 9:41am Top

>108 MrsLee: I greatly admire your industry with processing your fruit and vegetables, etc... Very organised.

Feb 9, 9:49am Top

>109 pgmcc: Or compulsively non-wasteful? I can't stand to see food thrown out. That isn't always a good thing. :)

Feb 9, 8:31pm Top

>107 pgmcc: That has been my office's fate too, over the years. In this house it makes a lot of sense, because my wife has a bed in her office, for use when we have guests, and i don't. OTOH, we have a full basement, which we didn't plan on, so I'm setting up some spaces there too.

>108 MrsLee: I had to look up kombucha. Looks interesting, but not something I think I'll try. Our new home has a community garden, to which we can contribute compost, so on the few occasions when we don't use all of something, I guess that's where it will end up.

Feb 9, 8:50pm Top

I enjoyed seeing monthly summaries on others' pages, so here's mine for January:

8 books total
7 fiction, 1 NF
4 by men, 4 by women
1 by a non-white author
6 by Americans, 2 British

February will probably have fewer.

Feb 10, 5:30pm Top

>110 MrsLee: "I can't stand to see food thrown out. That isn't always a good thing."

Could this be a generational thing? My folks grew up during the depression, and so I save things that I should not, and sometimes I even try to cook with stuff I should probably compost or throw away. Then when I clean out my fridge I find tiny lost containers that have turned to the dark side. I have been making more of en effort not to do this. It's soooo difficult at times, though.

Feb 10, 5:55pm Top

>113 clamairy: *nods head*

Feb 11, 11:10am Top

>112 Jim53: You know, I don't think I've every paid much attention to some of those categories. I pay attention to Fiction vs. NF and Male vs. Female. But not to the country of origin or race. It probably wouldn't hurt to up my awareness on that front.

Feb 12, 6:24am Top

>113 clamairy: This is definitely a thing with my parents, and I do see the same tendencies in myself. In my parents' case, they grew with post-WWII rationing and don't waste anything if they think there is a use for it. I'm trying to be more organised and freeze things if I don't think I can use them up right away, rather than leave them to go bad in the fridge.

Feb 12, 8:36am Top

I don't know about the generational thing or the war thing, my parents were born in the mid 40s in the same NH city. We were just kinda poor so wasting really set my dad off. To this day I can't leave the lights on in a room if no one is in it.

Feb 14, 4:39pm Top

Blearrrgh (or however it's spelled). I've got the flu. Not much fun. Just a little reading lately.

Feb 14, 5:32pm Top

>118 Jim53: Get well soon. Plenty of fluids. A hot whiskey before you go to bed will work wonders for your flu.

Feb 15, 8:51am Top

>118 Jim53: Ack! It's a nasty one this year! Take care of yourself.

Feb 15, 9:10am Top

>119 pgmcc: The Scottish nectar without the "e" would be even better for some of us ;-)

Edited: Feb 15, 9:21am Top

>121 hfglen: I does no good without the "e".

Feb 15, 1:00pm Top

I finished All Mortal Flesh a few days ago. Such a good story. Afterwards I thought I'd tackle The Poisonwood Bible, which we've owned for a while, and which my wife liked a lot. I got about 50 pages in and realized that I was succeeding in reading each sentence, but not really seeing what she might be up to in a larger sense. It does seem interesting, and I plan to come back to it when I'm more capable. In the mean time I'll find something a little easier.

All Mortal Flesh satisfies this category:

28. A book with song lyrics in the title

Feb 20, 12:49pm Top

We had a brief but interesting discussion of A Piece of the World at book club last night. The woman who led it is a retired teacher and barely took a breath for long intervals, but a few of us managed to slip in a comment. We ended up talking about the Wyeths a bit, although they were definitely a secondary focus of the book. We kept coming back to the question of whether various details were true or fictional. Next up for this group is Church of Spies, which describes the involvement of Pope Pius XII in a plot against Hitler. While I wait for the library to produce that, I'm doing a re-read of The Rosie Project, which is great fun.

But my primary book activity at the moment is pulling books out of boxes and putting them on shelves. I had to get some anchors for the three shelves in the living room; they sat very nicely on the carpet at our old place, but they seemed a little shaky on the hardwood floor here. It was very easy to imagine our active two-year-old grandson pulling one over on himself. Now that they're secure, it's time to put out books, including deciding which ones are in nice enough condition for the more public spaces in the house.

Feb 22, 9:11pm Top

The library came through with my copy of Church of Spies and I started it today. It's a very thorough, deeply documented scholarly work, not a particularly fast read. I don't think I'll read it at bedtime either. I've put in requests for a handful of other books as well--it appears that lot of books are, quite reasonably, located in the more populous eastern parts of the county than here in the wild west. And there are very long lines for some; I'm #55 for A Gentleman in Moscow.

Feb 22, 9:37pm Top

>124 Jim53: Sorry about your flu and I hope you're completely health again. Yes, do give The Poisonwood Bible another shot at some point. I loved that one.

"The woman who led it is a retired teacher and barely took a breath for long intervals, but a few of us managed to slip in a comment." I'm laughing, but sweet cheeses... our book group at the library had a facilitator just like that. Plus he had a stammer. It was often so painful waiting for him to get through his spiel, even though he had so many good points to make. But we always went around the table (with what time we had left) so everyone got a chance to say at least a little something.

Feb 26, 9:51am Top

>126 clamairy: Thanks. I'm pretty much back to normal but quite tired of the gray days. We had a couple of nice sunny days in the sixties, which spoiled me.

I'll definitely return to The Poisonwood Bible before too long. Right now I'm finding Church of Spies interesting but a bit of a slog. I see there is a book club at the library discussing The Underground Railroad next month, so I'll look back at that and join them.

Feb 27, 9:21am Top

I almost finished my bedtime reread of The Rosie Project last night, so I got up and polished it off this morning. It was fun to revisit Don's world, but there were a lot of aspects of this book that I enjoyed a lot more the first time I encountered it. Which I guess means I enjoyed them a lot (or at least a good bit ;-) less the second time. The book has a freshness that I found truly wonderful on the first reading, but the novelty is gone after that first reading. Still highly recommended if you haven't read it before.

Since TRP's narrator/protagonist is a person with Asperger's Syndrome, and much of the story has to do with his adaptations and interactions with others who don't share his experience, this book fulfills this popsugar category:

16. A book about mental health

Hmm... I need a running list of which categories I've done. I'll be back with that.

Feb 27, 1:22pm Top

I picked up All Systems Red at the library today and started it while waiting for a barber. It's pretty interesting how she portrays the human/robot security unit.

Mar 1, 9:39am Top

I'm still slogging through Church of Spies; it's interesting, but it tells me more details than I really want to know, with excruciating thoroughness. I'm trying to envision what the book club discussion will be like. I guess I'll find out in a couple of weeks.

I zipped through All Systems Red, which was based on a novel idea: a cyborg that was created as a security unit for a group of scientists visiting a new planet, which has hacked its own governor unit so that it can spend time how it likes, which is watching soap operas. Wells does a nice job of avoiding getting bogged down in how lots of things work. Overall, though, the story just didn't do much for me. I suspect it serves as an intro to more adventures in a series, but it didn't really suck me in. However, since I learned of it on Narilks'a thread, I can count it for a challenge category:

10. A book recommended by someone else taking the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

I'll have to see if I can retaliate, er, I mean, reciprocate with a good recommendation.

Mar 1, 9:47am Top

February summary:

I read two new books and two re-reads. All fiction. More in March!

Mar 1, 12:43pm Top

>130 Jim53: So glad you liked All Systems Red :)

Mar 3, 4:23am Top

A little late to ask this now but with ref to >100 Jim53: - do you have to have a driving licence to be able to get a library card? Or was that just a convenient order to apply for each?

Mar 4, 10:08pm Top

>133 Peace2: You don't have to have a driver's license to get a library card, but you do have to show that you live in the county. A driver's license is the "evidence" that the library is most used to dealing with, and I needed to get one anyway, so it made sense to get it first. I'm sure there are other options for non-drivers.

Mar 4, 10:17pm Top

Whew. I finished Church of Spies and will be glad to move on to something else. The book was meticulously researched and well written, but the amount of detail was overwhelming. I'll be interested to see how many of my new neighbors have finished it when we have our discussion in a couple of weeks. I hurried a bit to finish it today, because someone has a hold on it at the library, and it might be one of our gang. I was curious to see how much mention there would be of Monsignors Roncalli and Montini, who would become the next two popes after Pius XII, who was pope during WW II and a key figure in supporting a group of Catholics as well as a group of German military who were plotting to assassinate Hitler. He was also heavily involved in negotiations between the resisting Germans and the Allies, through the British, regarding the disposition of Germany after the war's conclusion. I was interested to see that Joseph Muller, a key German in interacting with the pope, was an ardent supporter of a unified European market.

Mar 5, 3:42am Top

>134 Jim53: Here (at the other end of the world from you) the required evidence is a recent utility bill. However, I believe some town libraries make provision for visiting holidaymakers.

Mar 5, 6:53am Top

>135 Jim53: & >134 Jim53:

In the late 1980s I went to our local library to join. They wanted a utility bill with my name to verify my identity and address. I explained to the librarian that my wife had set up all the utilities and that my name did not appear on any of the utility bills. She thought it very funny that a man could not provide the necessary documentation and laughed out loud. She thought it was so entertaining she signed me up anyway.

Mar 5, 8:58am Top

>137 pgmcc: My hubby and I have different names. We constantly run into issues with who signed up for what service. Oh, check the other name!

We were camping a couple of weekends ago and a friend stopped by to visit us at the park. He asked for where the hubby was parked, but they had no record of him there. That time the reservation was in my name.

Poor friend waited around a couple of hours, after calling Mr Majkia, but Mr Majkia was too busy fishing and never checked his phone. Oh well...

Mar 6, 8:47am Top

Yesterday I picked up The Neighborhood, the translation of the latest by Mario vargas Llosa. It's drawn me in pretty quickly; the characters are well drawn and the situations are interesting. I suspect I'll be speeding through this one.

Mar 7, 12:21pm Top

The Neighborhood was great fun, but also a serious reflection on the Fujimori government in Peru (1990-2000). I had heard of Fujimori only as the man who defeated the terrorists of the Shining Path and restored some stability to Peru; I didn't know that he was later impeached and prosecuted for a range of crimes. The book also focuses on the practice of "yellow journalism," the scandal sheets that ruined many a career and life. It also features a fair amount of explicit sex, both lesbian and hetero. So pretty great all around, with characters that are described, and more importantly portrayed, very effectively. The book reads very smoothly, which reflects not only on Vargas Llosa but also on Elizabeth Grossman, the translator. 4.5 stars.

My goodness, it's wonderful to be able to get up in the morning and go right back to the book I've been enjoying! I can't do it every day, but I think I'm going to like this retirement business.

Mar 12, 3:05pm Top

I just finished what I intended to be a quick re-read of The Underground Railroad, but it turned out that I remembered fairly little of it, so it became a more thorough read. Deciding to make a literal, real-life underground railroad was a brilliant stroke. What I really appreciated this time was the maturation of Cora's reflections as she progressed from one stop to another. I wasn't real happy with the ending the first time I read it, but this time it made a lot of sense to show Cora starting yet another journey rather than settling happily ever after in a new home. I re-read it because a local book club is discussing it, and I've been eager to find people who think about certain things.

Mar 12, 10:21pm Top

>141 Jim53: I've thought about revisiting this one as an audio book, but I'll probably wait a bit longer. Let us know how the book club goes. Hopefully your group facilitator lets the rest of you speak a bit more this time.

Mar 13, 9:16am Top

>142 clamairy: LOL. This is a different group, at the public library, so I hope to be able to squeeze in a comment or two.

Mar 14, 4:28pm Top

The Tuscan Child was a quick, enjoyable read. More a romance than a mystery, it follows dual timelines: during WW II, a British fighter pilot is shot down over the fictional town of San Salvatore, Italy. The area is still under German control, although the Allies are moving up the peninsula. He is discovered by a local woman; they fall in love and she helps him to hide in an abandoned monastery. In 1973, he dies back in England, and his daughter Joanna, fresh from some pretty severe disappointments, finds a letter to the Italian woman in her father's papers. She decides to visit the area and see what she can learn about his experience there, the mystery woman, and whether they might have had a child together. Her investigation, and the hospitable people with whom she stays, help to heal her and help her to see what she really wants in life.

Mar 15, 12:57pm Top

The public libraries here are interesting; I suspect they existed long before they were united in a county system. Each has its quirks, with different ways of handling CDs and DVDs, very different programs, etc. I found one that has a monthly mystery book club, and I obtained their reading list. Today I picked up a copy of It Occurs to Me that I Am America, a collection of stories and artwork by all sorts of people. I'll probably sample that a couple of things at a time. I will also finally address the fact that I might be the last person in the Green Dragon who hasn't read A Gentleman in Moscow, as I finally made it to the top of the queue for that one.

Mar 16, 4:50am Top

>145 Jim53: Not quite the last; I have yet to see a copy, even in the middle distance.

Mar 17, 4:19pm Top

>141 Jim53: I've been thinking of borrowing the audio of that one from the library when I get a chance. It was there one day when I didn't have time to check it out, but has been out ever since (just my luck!)

>145 Jim53: & >146 hfglen: Like hfglen I've yet to actually see this one.

Mar 18, 6:01pm Top

>145 Jim53: Share the reading list of mysteries, please? I"d love to see what others are doing!

Mar 18, 8:56pm Top

>148 jillmwo: The first one is The Ides of April, which is a historical set in ancient Rome (presumably a month after J Caesar's assassination). Interestingly, the next one for our community book club is Karin Slaughter's The Kept Woman, which in MMPB is over 500 pages. So now I'm starting that so my wife will have time to read it too. And the third club that I attended, the one that just read The Underground Railroad, is doing Defending Jacob; the summary sounds familiar, but I can't find any record of having read it. So April is a mysterious month. Also mysterious, as I'm sure you know, is the fact that Tuesday is the first day of spring and we're supposed to get 3-5" of snow.

Here are the remaining titles that I have so far for the mystery group:

May - Killowen by Erin Hart
June - Shakespeare's Landlord by Charlaine Harris (NOT Sookie; the first of her Lily Bard series)
July - Tyrannosaur Canyon by Douglas Preston
August - The serpent's tale by Ariana Franklin
September - When the Wind Blows by James Patterson

The leader says that the group doesn't like lots of gore, but they're pretty flexible otherwise. I'll be interested to see what sort of discussions we have.

Mar 18, 9:15pm Top

Yesterday I attended the Delaware Valley Sisters in Crime monthly meeting. We had a guest speaker, a bioarchaeologist (which she said means, basically, graverobber), who told us about the excavation of the grave of a man called America's first serial killer. The man's descendants were tired of hearing about how he hadn't really been executed but had escaped. They got The History Channel interested, and the channel funded some archaeological work.

It was interesting to see how they went through the steps to locate the coffin, dig down to it, cut open the concrete with which it had been filled at the occupant's request, and perform various forensic tests on the skeleton to determine the probability that it was the right person. Essentially, they search for indications that the body cannot be the right person; she said it's impossible, even with DNA, to say yes absolutely. The best they can do is say that the evidence seems conclusive that the body is so-and-so, which is what they did in this case.

The executed man's name was Herman Mudgett, but he used the name H. H. Holmes. He grew rich on insurance fraud, and also appears to have killed at least twenty women. His story is told in The History Channel's series American Ripper; episode 8 of this series tells of the forensic work. Altogether an engaging presentation.

Another thing that this group does is bring in books that members have read and don't wish to keep and sell them for 50 cents to maintain a coffee fund. I picked up copies of King's Mountain, Sharyn McCrumb's tenth "ballad novel," and Freaky Deaky, which I had heard was one of Leonard's best. I've read almost half the leonard, and I'm enjoying it, but I'm putting it aside so I can tackle The Kept Woman for our community book club.

I've been reading individual entries in It Occurs to Me that I Am America. Not surprisingly, I like some better than others; several are pretty tough sledding topically. But it seems like an important body of work to read, to stay aware of the dialog happening in our country.

Mar 18, 9:22pm Top

>150 Jim53: I watched most of that TV series when it was shown here - it was pretty interesting - they also put forward the theory that he may have been Jack the Ripper and attempted to prove that he was in London at the time Jack the Ripper was operating and also in another area of the US (I can't off the top of my head remember where) when they had a spate of missing people who were never found again. He did appear to be terrifyingly prolific in his actions. It was interesting watching the way they went from propositions to attempting to categorically prove (or disprove) his responsibility for various actions and the things he did which led to there being so many questions over his actual death and burial. Unfortunately I did miss a couple of the episodes so didn't get the complete picture.

Mar 19, 7:39am Top

Mar 21, 11:47am Top

I watched a couple of hours of Ken B's Hamlet this morning. I marveled, as I always do, at how much agonizing and blithering goes on in this play (despite which I love it). Richard Briers is hilarious as Polonius because he plays him very seriously. I also noticed that every couple of minutes I heard the title of a book in the dialog. Very perspicacious of Shakespeare to anticipate all these!

Then I went back to my current book-club read, Karin Slaughter's The Kept Woman. I'm on page 280, which means I'm right at the half-way mark. There's an awful lot of agonizing in this book, along with some minutely detailed scenes whose purpose I don't yet grasp. It's interesting; I like it somewhat better than the couple of others of hers that I've read. It's too soon to call it bloated, since she might somehow bring all this stuff together. I'll just say thee are a lot of pages.

Mar 21, 9:08pm Top

>153 Jim53: I love that version of Hamlet. I need to do a rewatch one of these days.

Mar 22, 10:15pm Top

I finished The Kept Woman. I didn't realize there were several before it in the series. I thought she did a pretty good job of making the book self-sufficient, which no doubt added to the page count. It's hard to believe that many of these same characters have appeared in seven prior books. The ending suggests that they will continue to do so.

The story is challenging; several characters seem not to care at all about the consequences of their actions. There are numerous WTF moments, both for the characters and for the reader. The story can be confusing because of the way the timelines are presented; it mostly comes together in the end. I'll be interested to hear my wife's reaction and the discussion in the book club.

Edited: Mar 23, 3:30am Top

>155 Jim53: It's hard to believe that many of these same characters have appeared in seven prior books. The ending suggests that they will continue to do so.

Jim, I apologise, but I cannot avoid the obvious.

So, the ending suggests that they will continue to have appeared in seven prior books.


Actually, there is a good premise for a story in that. Let's say the behaviour of a character in a book changed his/her behaviour, or even existence, in a prior book. It is a bit like one of Philip K. Dick's stories in which a person taking a particular drug was not affected by the drug but everyone else was affected by the drug he took.

Mar 23, 2:22pm Top

>156 pgmcc: Got me! I like the phildickian idea.

Mar 24, 12:00pm Top

Was the problem with The Kept Woman the agonizing of those related characters or was it just that you can't imagine anyone choosing to read about those characters across a span of seven books? Some thrillers/mysteries focus so much on the angst aspect of the death that it slows down the novel, but might not really be a problem across the full series.

Enquiring minds want to know.

Mar 26, 9:57pm Top

So just how many book groups do you belong to now? And do you have time to read what you want to?

Mar 27, 5:03pm Top

>158 jillmwo: The agonizing didn't just concern one of the several deaths in the book; it seemed to be applied to almost every moment. There are reasons for it, which become apparent as the story progresses. Perhaps it would be unrealistic to ask these characters NOT to live and breathe this angst. However, it lent the story a miasma of unpleasant worry that affected my enjoyment; the amoral attitudes of some of th characters had a similar effect. The ongoing angst also added a lot of pages. I didn't have much trouble getting through it, but I could have enjoyed it more; I'll be interested to see how all the ladies do with it (mine is the only y chromosome in the group at the moment, although I'm hoping that having stormed the battlements, I might find some companions joining me).

Mar 27, 5:15pm Top

>159 clamairy: Ha ha, I've been asking myself those questions. One club is the one at our 55+ community. It is for that club that I read A Piece of the World, Church of Spies, and now The Kept Woman. I expect I'll keep up with that one pretty well. There is a group at one of the local libraries that read The Underground Railroad: a congenial bunch, but the discussion was not particularly deep. I'm going to try their next book, Defending Jacob, and I'll probably decide each month whether to continue. The third is a mystery-focused group at yet another of these small libraries, for which I'm going to read The Ides of April. I'll attend that one for the first time in April and see how it goes.

So far keeping up with these three books a month has not kept me from reading other books that I want to read, but it might be keeping me from doing other things that I want to do. We'll see. I've enjoyed a couple of other books that I've read recently, most notably The Neighborhood: A Novel and The Tuscan Child. But I'm definitely keeping a critical eye on how much time I'm spending on these clubs and figuring that two is probably a good number for any particular month.

Mar 27, 5:21pm Top

I decided that I had read enough of the stories and other items in It Occurs to Me that I Am America. I liked some of them pretty well; others were a bit strident for me at the moment.

I've finished a couple of sections of A Gentleman in Moscow and I'm not loving it as I had anticipated. Too many unrealistic expectations, I suppose. But it's a well-told story, with some nice touches, and I'm certainly in no danger of giving up on it. It's got me curious about his first novel too.

Mar 27, 9:57pm Top

I read got my granddaughter to read Here We Are: Notes to her brother and me, after which I read it to him several times. I enjoyed some of the humorous touches (on a drawing of the solar system, there's a note in the corner that says "Probably not to scale). And LT has helped me identify some similar books, which I'll pick up the next time they're coming.

Mar 28, 2:40am Top

>163 Jim53: That looks wonderful Oliver Jeffers has some wonderful books. I'm a big fan of his The Day the Crayons Quit and Lost and found.

Edited: Mar 28, 1:00pm Top

>164 Peace2: Thanks--I will look for those too.

The other funny thing about this book is that some of the random people are drawn in purple, so I've had Sheb Woolley running around in my head for a couple of days.

Mar 28, 12:59pm Top

>159 clamairy: I suspect you'll find this amusing: today I was in a nearby town and went into their library to browse the CDs. As I walked in I was accosted by a poster recommending their book club. They're reading Astrophysics for People in a Hurry for the end of April. I've been wanting to read that, so this will lend some reinforcement. And the next month they're reading Kristin Hannah, about whom I keep hearing wonderful things...

Mar 28, 7:58pm Top

I've read more of A Gentleman in Moscow today--it's a good way to procrastinate--and I'm warming up to it more. The third section has a lot of nice observations and turns of phrase. Still a long way to go.

Apr 1, 11:32am Top

Happy Easter, Chag Sameach, and/or whatever else you celebrate to all!

Apr 3, 9:11pm Top

>166 Jim53: Another one? That's four now? LOLOL I am very impressed!

>167 Jim53: Good, I'm glad you're starting to enjoy it more. :o)

Apr 14, 4:30pm Top

Hello all, just stopping in to say hi and confirm that I'm still here. Real Life has been taking a lot of time lately. And now it's finally warm out. Like Ahnult, I'll be back.

Apr 14, 4:36pm Top

>170 Jim53: Hi Jim. Real life is scandalous the way it gets in the way of Internet duties. I am suffering from the same problem.

Apr 14, 6:05pm Top

It's warm out, so you can walk to the library, walk to the book sale, read outside on the porch...

Apr 14, 8:29pm Top

Snowing. Blizzard. For the next.



That is all.

Apr 14, 9:09pm Top

Apr 19, 9:16am Top

>170 Jim53: *waves*

Apr 19, 9:28am Top

>170 Jim53: Enjoy the warm weather! We have some here in London too and it is glorious. But next week it's bound to be grey and drizzly again.

Apr 22, 8:30pm Top

>170 Jim53: and >171 pgmcc: And here I thought it was just me with the problem.

Apr 23, 4:14am Top

>177 jillmwo: Know that you are not alone in your uniqueness.

May 10, 11:23am Top

Well, I'm finding some time again for literary pursuits, including coming back here. I think when I was last here I was reading A Gentleman in Moscow, and enjoying it more after a slow start. I had to return it to the library before I finished it; I'll probably look to grab it again when time is more plentiful.

I enjoyed Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. It's clearly intended to popularize, not to be scientifically thorough. It gave me a good look at dark matter and dark energy, of which I knew very little and now know slightly less little. I was disappointed in the discussion, which consisted largely of people complaining about not understanding the science.

Defending Jacob was pretty wonderful, maybe the best book I've read so far this year. The son of an assistant attorney general is suspected and eventually accused of murder. The process takes a toll on the family. Lots of trial preparation and strategizing; it reminded me a little bit of Kate Wilhelm's Bobby Holloway legal mysteries.

More soon. I want to catch up on some of y'all's threads.

May 10, 11:50am Top

>179 Jim53: I had heard good things about Defending Jacob from a friend who is a lawyer (and now a judge.) I wasn't sure if she loved it so much because it's pertinent to her occupation. I might keep an eye out for that now.

Good to see you posting. We've both been missing a bit lately it seems.

May 12, 1:31pm Top

Catching up a little more on my recent reading:

I have occasionally found sorts columnist Rick Reilly quite entertaining, so when I saw his collection of columns entitled Tiger, Meet My Sister I picked it up for 50 cents. It was pretty disappointing; the funny columns were only a little bit funny, and the earnest ones seemed overdone. I've used it to start a new pile of books to donate to the library.

I've read intros and summaries and a few other bits of some books about geology and the American West in preparation for a Road Scholars trip to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. I didn't read enough of any of the books to add them to my reading list for the year, but these, along with a couple of DVDs, have got me feeling a little bit less ignorant.

For my mystery book club, I read The Book of Killowen, which seemed to satisfy our leader's fetish about bodies preserved in Irish bogs. The investigation of a modern-day murder leads to the discovery of a preserved body from several centuries ago; unfortunately, the manuscript that he might have been carrying is not found with his body. The setting is a cooperative housing commune in the bog country, and in the course of the investigation we learn a bit about ancient manuscripts and archaeological research. The book was odd in that there wasn't a single primary character focused on solving the crime; it was hard to tell whether the main protagonist was the police officer or one of the archaeologists. This is not necessarily a bad thing; I just noticed it as unusual. This book satisfies one of the Popsugar challenge categories:

7. A book set in a country that fascinates you

I've been reading Tracy K Smith's Life on Mars, for which she won a Pulitzer a few years ago. It's quite a collection; I'm thinking of suggesting it for our community book club. For those who have not encountered her, Smith is currently the US Poet Laureate.

May 12, 4:10pm Top

Just saw this list of the Anthony award nominations. Winners will be determined at Bouchercon in September.

I've read a few of these, but not all of the entries in any one category. Sometimes they post links to the nominated short stories; I'll add those if I see them.

May 12, 5:04pm Top

Good to see you, Jim. Defending Jacob sounds good.

May 12, 5:15pm Top

>179 Jim53: I've seen that one on the audio download list at the library - I shall wishlist it for later listening.

Edited: May 20, 10:00pm Top

I tried The Colour of Magic last week, having heard so many good things about Pratchett. I was uninspired and gave up after about 40 pages. Now I'm reading No Colder Place, the fourth in SJ Rozan's series featuring Lydia Chin and Bill Smith. The odd-numbered books in the series are narrated by Lydia; this is the second one narrated by Bill, who has taken a job as a bricklayer working on a new skyscraper in order to investigate some possibly shady dealings. I'm enjoying this one a lot.

May 14, 8:56am Top

>185 Jim53: It is possible that you are not suited for Pratchett, not everyone is, but before you give up altogether, try Guards! Guards!. It is written tongue in cheek with a noir detective feel to it. I'm sure you've read that the Discworld series has series-within-the-series, and while some folks can start at the beginning and read straight through the whole thing, others find it better to dip into the genres they are more familiar with as a start. :)

The Color of Magic is a love it or leave it kind of book in itself. Much to do with the gaming world of Dungeons and Dragons and H.P. Lovecraft horror kind of crowd. Many people do not love it at all.

May 14, 9:39am Top

What MrsLee said. The Color of Magic is the only book in the series with its format and style so not a good indicator of the series as a whole.

May 14, 2:30pm Top

>186 MrsLee: >187 Narilka: Thanks very much for the info and encouragement. I'll look for a copy of Guards! Guards!

MrsLee do I remember that you're planning to visit PA this summer? I'd love to try to catch up if you'll be in the area.

May 15, 9:22pm Top

What everyone else said, Jim. Don't give up on Sir Terry just yet. :o)

May 16, 8:44am Top

>188 Jim53: My first Discworld book was Sourcery, which I think is the fourth in the series, and I got many disapproving looks from the other people on the plane who were disturbed by my laughing out loud. I went back and read the earlier ones, and didn't enjoy them nearly as much - I guess Pratchett needed time to get rolling. Some other fun ones to try are Soul Music, Reaper Man, and Small Gods.

May 16, 1:26pm Top

>189 clamairy: >190 Darth-Heather: Thanks! I'll give him another try at some point. Right now I'm really enjoying following up on series that I've been reading. I just finished No Colder Place, the fourth in SJ Rozan's series featuring NY PIs Lydia Chin and Bill Smith. Bill narrates the even-numbered volumes, so this is largely his story, although Lydia also plays a significant role. Bill is asked by an old friend to investigate some shady goings-on at a construction site, so he poses as a bricklayer to get to spend some time working on the site. Eventually he finds several things going on and must figure out how to bring them to light. Optimal sharing of information between partners is a big theme in this one. I just put in a request for the next volume.

For our community book club, I read a couple of chapters of Clementine, a life of Mrs. Churchill. I was underwhelmed, and the book was quite long, and there is a lot going on these days, so I didn't try to finish it.

May 16, 5:20pm Top

Good buddy Hank Phillipi Ryan just sent me an ARC of her new standalone, Trust Me. That jumps to the top of the list. I doubt I'll finish it before I go to the PennWriters conference, which starts Friday.

May 16, 6:38pm Top

If you’re collecting a list of people’s favorite Discworld books for future consideration, mine was probably Wyrd Sisters. That’s the second book in the Witches subseries, which was my favorite subseries. The first book, Equal Rites, was ok but nothing special to me. Wyrd Sisters has pretty much nothing to do with Equal Rites story-wise, so it isn’t a prerequisite.

May 17, 5:08am Top

>193 YouKneeK: I used Wyrd sisters to get a Shakespeare-loving friend into Pratchett. It worked!

May 17, 3:37pm Top

>188 Jim53: Yes! The trip is still on. I'm going to try to pin down the days I will be there so hopefully we can have a meet up.

May 17, 5:14pm Top

>193 YouKneeK: >194 Sakerfalcon: Thanks!

>195 MrsLee: Cool! It would be such fun to meet some folks in person.

Edited: May 18, 6:52am Top

>193 YouKneeK: & >194 Sakerfalcon: That's also my favorite so far! Jim, please give Wyrd Sisters a go.

Edited: May 18, 9:20am Top

>197 clamairy: Wyrd Sisters was the one recommendef to me by a Pratchett crazy friend. It was excellent. Others I have tried have not had as good an effect on me.

May 18, 9:19am Top

So much Discworld peer pressure!

Edited: May 20, 10:07pm Top

>199 Narilka: That's what I come here for. Without it I'd have no idea what to read. ;-) So thanks >197 clamairy: >198 pgmcc:!

Actually, lately I've been enjoying getting back to some series that I was reading, including SJ Rozan and Deb Crombie. But those are on hold while I read Hank's new one, which so far is a mindblower. Don't know if I'll finish it before the end of the PennWriters conference, but if not, it'll be the first order of business when I get home. Good first day today, including meeting up with Hallie Ephron from JRW:

Ha ha, I guess rotated is better than nothing.

May 21, 5:21pm Top

I finished Trust Me and posted the first review. Hank does a great job of making her main character question what she knows, not only about the trial that she's covering, but about aspects of her own life. I've had to let my mind slowly get recombobulated after finishing it. I definitely recommend it for fans of the sort of uncertainty we used to get in postmodern novels.

May 23, 7:55pm Top

I decided I needed something quite different after Trust Me. I've seen a couple of references lately to Charlotte's Web, which I've never read, so I'm correcting that omission now.

May 25, 9:29am Top

>202 Jim53: I hope you love Charlotte's Web. It is a classic for a good reason. :)

May 25, 8:02pm Top

>200 Jim53: Oooh, look! it's a live body! (Enjoy Charlotte's Web)

May 26, 8:53am Top

Thanks >203 MrsLee: >204 jillmwo:. I've just gotten to where Charlotte posts the message in her web. So far it's great fun. I especially like the way the goose talks.

I've also picked up Deborah Crombie's The Sound of Broken Glass, which appears to be another solid entry in the Duncan-and Gemma epic. I'm reading that during the day and Charlotte at bedtime.

May 27, 3:54pm Top

I finished both Charlotte's Web and The Sound of Broken Glass. Both were fun but not fabulous. Next I think is A Bitter Feast, next in the Lydia Chin/Bill Smith series.

May 29, 2:09pm Top

I've never read Charlotte's Web either. That has potential to cross off two categories for me!

May 30, 4:59pm Top

>207 Narilka: yep, I was able to use it for the childhood classic. I'm still nowhere near keeping up with the categories. But that's OK.

May 30, 5:01pm Top

I just finished A Bitter Feast and enjoyed it a lot. When I finished the previous volume, I thought about how I enjoy the ones narrated by Bill. After this one, I was thinking how much I enjoy the ones narrated by Lydia. In each one we learn one more detail about his or her background, or both, and the reflections about how things work for Chinese-Americans are fascinating. A solid four-star read. I want the next one now.

Jun 2, 1:48pm Top

I've never read a Jack Reacher novel, so I thought I'd try one. I didn't see the first one so I grabbed one from the middle of the sequence. I'm turning the pages but I haven't connected with anyone yet.

Jun 6, 9:00am Top

>210 Jim53: I don't love the Reacher novels, but they work when I need a fast-paced, action read. Reacher is pretty bottled up inside himself, so I can understand why you aren't connecting. He doesn't like to connect. :)

Jun 8, 11:43pm Top

I finished Worth Dying For and was underwhelmed. Reacher not only doesn't want to connect--absolutely right IMHO, @MrsLee--but he seems quite willing to take the law and people's lives into his own hands. Perhaps he has his own moral sense, but I didn't get a feel for it, other than ty he decides who are the good and bad guys and then does whatever his impressive competencies suggest. He's all about capabilities and has minimal moral struggles, but for me, moral struggles are a huge part of almost any excellent story.

Jun 13, 10:23pm Top

Back from a wonderful eight-day trip to three national parks. On the plane today I read Sujata Massey's The Salaryman's Wife. The story is told well, although the characterizations seem pretty inconsistent. It reminded me a little of SJ Rozan's Lydia Chin novels, although I like Rozan's better.

Jun 17, 8:29pm Top

For our neighborhood book club, I just finished The Other Daughter, in which a young woman finds out something startling about her family and adopts some entertaining ways to investigate and deal with it. It's not the sort of thing I usually read, so it was fun to stretch a bit. I guess it's primarily a romance; I'm off to see how else readers have categorized it. I'll be interested to hear what people have to say tomorrow night. I was generally underwhelmed, but there were a couple of good lines:

One can’t write a novel without stripping one’s soul. Really when you think of it, the entire endeavor is quite indecent.

No sin is original, no matter what the Bright Young Things may hope. We’re all merely playing to a theme.

Jun 17, 8:34pm Top

>214 Jim53: additional notes: Willig's writing style fits the story well and goes down pretty smoothly. I can't say the same for Douglas Preston in Tyrannosaur Canyon, which I'm reading for my mystery book club. It's the sort of book on which I would give up were it not for a book club. I've been unimpressed in general with the selections for this club; I need to find out when we'll choose a new set of books so I can try to have some input. It's still fun to see some new folks, though, so I'm not about to drop this one.

Jun 22, 10:30pm Top

I gave up on Tyrannosaur Canyon and returned it today. The cover was full of impressive blurbs, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say, and in this case the eating was quite unimpressive. I slogged through for about 70 pages and said, enough.

I've been re-reading IQ in preparation for reading the sequel. It's one of many books that I read over the past couple of years and find myself remembering in a very indistinct way. It was pretty enjoyable the second time. While I wait for the next one to appear, I've grabbed a few books that I've had on my list for a while, including the next volume in some series. I think the next Monkeewrench book is edging out A Visit from the Goon Squad for next up.

Jun 28, 9:35am Top

I found myself remembering more of IQ as I re-read it. I was more critical this time through; while I enjoyed Isaiah's calmness and attitude, I wasn't sure it was entirely credible. But I've met people who seem a lot like that, so I guess it's possible. Most of the other characters are much less well developed. I'm still looking forward to the next one.

I also just finished a "comfort read" of a book about murders being filmed and posted on the web. Comforting because it's another installment in the Monkeewrench series, which I tend to enjoy a lot. This one wasn't quite up to the best of the series, but it was enjoyable to get back to the repartee of Gino and Leo. One new character, an FBI agent assigned to liaise (not my favorite word) with the locals, was nicely drawn. This book knocks off another popsugar category, a book with two authors, since PJ Tracy is a mother-daughter team, or was till the mom died recently.

Jul 1, 8:03pm Top

Keeping with the next-in-a-series theme, I read SJ Rozan's Stone Quarry, the sixth book in her series featuring PIs Lydia Chin and Bill Smith. Being an even-numbered entry, this one was narrated by Bill. I had high expectations after really enjoying the last two entries, but this one wasn't quite as good.

I haven't been around much the last couple of days because the grandkids and those people who drive them around have been here. Sometime soon I'll tot up my totals for 1H18 and start part II.

Jul 2, 12:12am Top

I mostly agree with you about Jack Reacher, although I think I like Lee Child's books a little bit more. If you want something along the same lines but with more moral complexity, I highly recommend the Orphan X series by Gregg Hurwitz. Trained assassin who finds out he's been lied to, escapes the life and helps people who have nowhere else to turn. Very good books.

Jul 2, 3:43pm Top

Thanks, Tad! I've verified that my library has the Hurwitz books, so I'll be sure to give them a try soon.

Jul 2, 4:26pm Top

Here is the summary for the first half of 2018:

31 total books
5 non-fiction, the best of which was Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
3 F&SF, the best of which was The Killing Moon
17 mysteries, the best of which were The Hush, Trust Me, and Defending Jacob
6 other fiction, of which the best were The Neighborhood and A Piece of the World
18 by women, 13 by men
3 by authors of color
6 by non-Americans
4 for book clubs

This was largely a period for less challenging reads, as we moved, traveled a lot, and dealt with living in a new place. I also read a lot of short stories and articles online, and I haven't figured out a good way to record those.

Group: The Green Dragon

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