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Papa Jim (jim53) starts the third half of life in 2018, part 2

This is a continuation of the topic Papa Jim (jim53) starts the third half of life in 2018.

The Green Dragon

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Jul 2, 4:28pm Top

No particular message, just starting the new thread since the year is at the midway point. I'm currently reading A Visit from the Goon Squad and a couple of nonfiction titles.

Jul 2, 4:31pm Top

Happy reading for the second half of the year.

Jul 2, 7:28pm Top

>2 Peace2: Thanks, and back atcha! I hope the craft endeavors are going well too.

Jul 3, 7:33pm Top

Your first half of the year stats were much more impressive than mine so I will be paying attention...(even if it just looks like I'm napping in the beanbag chair in the corner.)

Jul 4, 5:09am Top

Wishing you an excellent second half of 2018!

Jul 4, 1:36pm Top

>4 jillmwo: Yeah, yeah, I see that eye opening surreptitiously from time to time.

>5 Sakerfalcon: Thanks, Claire, and back atcha!

Jul 4, 1:55pm Top

*waves* As usual, I'll be watching when I can.

Jul 4, 4:49pm Top

>7 clamairy: Welcome, Clam. Hope all is going well with you.

Jul 4, 4:55pm Top

>8 Jim53: I'm well, just stressed. By the time I settle I will have aged about 5 years in a few months. S'okay. It will be worth it, eventually.

Jul 5, 8:52am Top

>9 clamairy: When you are all settled, you can relax and listen to the sound of the waves wash that stress, and 10 years, away. Then you will be ahead! :)

Edited: Jul 5, 11:00am Top

>9 clamairy: I hope >10 MrsLee: is right!

Jul 5, 11:11am Top

I finished Goon Squad this morning. It was interesting but not fabulous. It read as if she had written a very long, wandering novel about a group of characters who were loosely connected to one another, and then gone to one of those workshops that you see at writing conferences where you play Jenga with your book, seeing how much you can remove without losing key elements. I experienced it as clever, but I missed having characters to whom I could relate. The individual stories were mostly pretty interesting, and the future that she forecasts in the final story was nicely done, and I really did like the chapter that was done in PowerPoint slides. 4 stars.

It was good to start the second half of the year with a work of "mainstream" fiction rather than a mystery. I plan to keep an eye out for more of the many non-genre novels on my list.

Jul 6, 11:29am Top

> Her latest, Manhattan Beach is much more conventional, I really liked both, actually. Manhattan Beach has a bit of mystery to it, as well, so you may enjoy it.

Jul 6, 5:23pm Top

>13 littlegeek: Thanks! I've added Manhattan Beach to my list at the library. The description is intriguing.

Jul 8, 8:50am Top

I've been keeping pretty busy lately, so I'm just reading a little here and there. We finally had a 70-ish day yesterday, after several in the 90s with high humidity*, so my sweetie and I went for a walk at a county park that we hadn't seen before. I'm in the middle of Midnight Riot, which is a good bit of fun.

* I was commiserating with my buddy Hank about the weather and said that I was tempted to drive to the mailbox.

Jul 10, 10:23am Top

Midnight Riot was good fun. I think I had started it once a long time ago but for some reason didn't finish it. There were a bunch of things in the second half of which I had no recollection. I enjoyed the humor; it was subtle enough to avoid detracting from the story, but it definitely helped to personalize Peter and to make the story fun. Almost like a mild form of watching the book on MST3K. I would jump right into the sequel, but there are all these other books already competing for my attention.

Jul 16, 1:50pm Top

I've been fighting a stomach bug for a few days, and have been reading only intermittently. Last night I finished An American Marriage, in which a young black man, after a year and a half of marriage, is wrongfully imprisoned, and we see the effects that it has on his life and his marriage. The narration rotates among the man, his wife, and her best friend; for a small portion of the book, it consists of letters between the imprisoned man and his wife. We see bits of their parents' marriages, which contrast folks in poor rural Louisiana with more sophisticated residents of Atlanta.

There is a lot of nice writing in the book, and a number of attractive images. Beyond the false imprisonment, I'm not sure how much of the story was driven by the characters' race; I could imagine a very similar story about white people. I'll have to look for an interview or something that helps me see how the author saw the story.

This book was an Oprah's Book Club selection, so it satisfies one of the categories in the pop sugar challenge that I've been doing. So I'll copy that list from my previous thread.

Edited: Oct 4, 12:41pm Top

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 Midnight Riot
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 A Spool of Blue Thread
22. A book with alliteration in the title The Vineyard Victims
23. A book about time travel Night of the Ninjas
24. A book with a weather element in the title When the Wind Blows
25. A book set at sea The Cat's Table
26. A book with an animal in the title The Serpent's Tale
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 When the Wind Blows
31. A book mentioned in another book
32. A book from a celebrity book club An American Marriage
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 Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
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 Bossypants
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 ;-)

Jul 18, 4:13pm Top

I've started the next book for my mystery book club, The Serpent's Tale. I see that the says The Death Maze; it's the same book, so maybe that was an earlier (or later?) title. It's the second in a series set in the late twelfth century, featuring Adelia Aguilar, a woman from Salerno, who trained as a mortician/physician with her adoptive parents. Apparently in the first book she solved a case and earned the gratitude of the King of England (Henry II), who showed his appreciation by insisting that she remain in his country in case he needs her again. So she's just delighted about that. She also has some interesting history with the man who is now the local bishop. In this second volume, the king's mistress (you've heard of Fayre Rosamund?) has been murdered, and clues pointing to the queen (Eleanor of Aquitaine) threaten to throw the country into civil war. High stakes, check. I like Adelia as the viewpoint character a lot, making this a big improvement on last month's book. I'm not usually particularly fond of medieval mysteries, but Adelia is fun and the style seems well suited to the material.

Jul 18, 4:54pm Top

>19 Jim53: I listened to the first three in this series and really loved them. I bought the fourth one titled A Murderous Procession (AKA The Assassin's Prayer) at a library book sale, and keep forgetting to read it. (Because it's paper...) Sadly the writer passed away before she could continue the series. :o( I haven't read any of her other works but they appear to be rather highly rated here on LT. Though they deal with some similar dark subject matters I recall they are much lighter in overall tone than C. J. Sansom's Shardlake Mysteries series, which takes place during Henry VIII's reign.

Jul 18, 10:21pm Top

>19 Jim53: I really enjoyed that series, as >20 clamairy: said it was sadly cut short by the writer's death.

Jul 19, 9:01am Top

>19 Jim53:, >20 clamairy: & >21 NorthernStar: And just how is it that I've missed a mystery series so highly recommended by the three of you? It's on my wishlist for now, so I don't forget it, but I'm not buying books for now, until I get my reading mojo back.

Jul 19, 9:57am Top

>19 Jim53:, >20 clamairy:, >21 NorthernStar: & >22 MrsLee: I have the first 3 books of the series sitting on the tbr shelves. I'll have to get around to actually reading them at some point.

Jul 19, 8:39pm Top

My impressions of The Serpent's Tale now that I'm halfway through: I'm enjoying several of the characters. Her scenes are very, um, thorough, with very few details left to the reader's imagination. I did not read the first book in the series before reading this one, the second; so far as I can tell, she has done a good job of giving me what I need so that that doesn't matter. If some key turning point ends up depending on something from the first book that she hasn't shown us in this one, I'll be very disappointed, but so far I'm not seeing any indication of it. I think I've got a key player identified; I'll be interested to see if I'm right.

Edited: Jul 22, 8:35pm Top

The Serpent's Tale was pretty good, not great. I enjoyed several characters, but I found the pace quite slow. Maybe that reflects the time period (late 12th century). It was generally a pretty easy read. I had spotted a couple of evildoers pretty early on; I think Franklin's attitudes toward her characters is a bit transparent. At least I'll be able to identify some things I liked when we discuss it at book club.

ETA: and it lets me check off another category: a book with an animal in the title.

Jul 23, 8:43pm Top

I decided to go for a comfort read next, so I've started To Dwell in Darkness, the forty-sixth or so installment in Deb's Duncan Kincaid series. Just one more after this.

Jul 23, 9:50pm Top

This is sort of fun, although of course it gets a bit repetitive. I've been trying to think what other book deserves similar treatment. Wuthering Heights, maybe? Any other nominations?


Jul 24, 9:53am Top

>27 Jim53: I like the one comparing it to a small animal run over by a car. "Senseless, disturbing and everyone makes you look." :D

Jul 28, 11:29am Top

I finished To Dwell in Darkness, which was a nice addition to the series but not utterly fabulous. I've started The Cat's Table, which I've had sitting around for a while. So far the story is intriguing, a d the writing is beautiful. I'm reading it in pretty short chunks, which is not ideal, but all I can manage at the moment. I've been in the hospital since Wednesday night, after some scary numbers on a blood test at my doc's office, which suggest my kidneys have failed. Had a biopsy yesterday and I'm hoping for results soon.

Jul 28, 11:55am Top

>29 Jim53: The books sound good, but the rest sounds scary (and I claim to have room to talk!). Get well soon!

Jul 28, 5:02pm Top

>29 Jim53: Jim, I'm sorry to hear that! Hope you can find out what is going on and fix it.

Jul 28, 6:01pm Top

>29 Jim53:
Jim, I hope things go well and the numbers go the right way. Thinking of you.

Jul 28, 6:06pm Top

>29 Jim53: Sending you good wishes.

Jul 28, 7:35pm Top

>29 Jim53: Oh no! I hope doctors can find the cause and get you on the path to health. Keep us updated as you can. Thinking of you.

Jul 28, 8:06pm Top

>30 hfglen: >31 MrsLee: >32 pgmcc: >33 Peace2: >34 Narilka: Thank you, friends, for your thoughts and wishes. I'm hoping for some new information on Monday, and I'll update when I know what's going on.

Jul 30, 6:28am Top

I hope you get good news soon.

Jul 30, 9:58am Top

>36 Sakerfalcon: Thank you, Claire. I hope so too ;-)

Jul 30, 10:01am Top

I'm really enjoying The Cat's Table. He gives us brief but illustrative looks at the backgrounds of some of the narrator's shipmates, and looks into the future. The narrator's name appears to be Michael, making me wonder if there is some autobiographical element to the story. I'll wait till I finish the book to do some looking around.

Jul 31, 10:02am Top

I finished The Cat's Table last night. It was one of my best books so far this year. Remembering how I loved The English Patient, I can't figure out why I waited so long to read another Ondaatje. I'll be keeping my eye out for more of his.

But for now, I'm going to try The Last Equation of Isaac Severy, because it's due back soon.

Jul 31, 4:33pm Top

Oh frabjous day! Calloo Callay! My biopsy results suggest that I have a condition that resolves itself in 80% of cases. We are relieved and thankful.

Jul 31, 5:41pm Top

>40 Jim53: That is great news. Now, you take it easy, sit back, and read a book.

Aug 1, 4:44am Top

>40 Jim53: So pleased to hear this! Sending you all the very best wishes.

Aug 1, 6:58am Top

>40 Jim53: Yay Papa Jim! You are decidedly lucky, methinks. I'll echo Pete's advice.

Aug 1, 10:18am Top

>41 pgmcc: >42 Sakerfalcon: >43 hfglen: Thanks, y'all (It's funny to say that now that we're in PA; people look at me funny). Methinks you're right, Hugh. And the advice sounds very good. OTOH, I just brought a Duke Ellington concert DVD home from the library, so I might postpone reading for just a bit.

Aug 1, 11:46am Top

>44 Jim53: Listening to music is good too, as long as you do not boogie woogie too energetically.

Aug 1, 7:37pm Top

>45 pgmcc: I'm not sure there is any other way. But I don't seem to have shaken anything loose.

Aug 1, 7:52pm Top

I've been accumulating a few books here and there and forgetting to add them to my library. These are a head start on my next thingaversary.

A gentleman at the local Meeting who reminded me of my father-in-law (regular greeter, prone to Sipowiczin') died recently, and I found out that he had run a used bookshop in a neighboring village. I can't afford most of their books, which tend toward the rare, but they had put a few remnants out on the porch and I picked up two:

How Animals Sleep: for when the kids visit
Killoyle: I can't resist a cheap Irish farce.

There is a small used bookshop run by the Lions, open only on weekends in summer. There I picked up a copy of A Spool of Blue Thread. We have not seen Annie in many years but were good buddies with her parents when we and they lived in Raleigh.

At beautiful Longwood Gardens, I picked up a copy of Birds of Pennsylvania so I can recognize the many birds we get at our feeders.

I saw a couple of people praising Wallbanger and decided it would be something different from my usual reads.

Finally, one of the local libraries has a shelf out containing books that they want us to take away and "Don't bring them Back." Mostly field guides to different sorts of engines and other equally fascinating stuff, but I've picked up a couple of goodies:

Another Thing to Fall, another Tess Monaghan mystery
The Awakening, which I read in college but probably didn't really get, so I'll try it again some time. It's very short.

Aug 1, 8:57pm Top

>40 Jim53: Glad to hear that you've had good news!

Aug 1, 9:12pm Top

>40 Jim53: Excellent news!

Aug 5, 10:13am Top

>48 Peace2: >49 Narilka: Thanks!

I finished The Last Equation of Isaac Severy, which was fun at times, but kinda meh overall. Jacobs tries hard to interest us in a couple of characters, but just when one is becoming interesting, s/he goes offstage for 40 pages or so. The story is clever, which would have been enough for me 30 years ago, but it isn't any more. The playing around with chaos and strings, and the idea that an equation can predict future occurrences, are pretty interesting, and overall it's pretty promising for a first novel.

Aug 6, 9:00am Top

>40 Jim53: I've not had time to read all the threads recently, so glad to come back here and read this!

Aug 7, 9:13pm Top

>51 MrsLee: Thanks, Lee!

I have started Sing, Unburied, Sing, but it's a bit intense for bedtime. Last night I picked up The Worm Ouroboros, and I was enchanted all over again by Eddison's writing and ideas. I wasn't planning to read all of that one--it's not short--but stranger things have happened.

Aug 9, 12:19pm Top

I've found Sing, Unburied, Sing to require more focus and energy than I can muster right now. Very frustrating! For something easier, I've returned to Deborah Crombie's series with Garden of Lamentations. So far it's reminding me of one of Louise Penny's.

Aug 13, 10:00pm Top

I enjoyed Garden of Lamentations more than the last couple of Crombie's series. I particularly liked seeing Duncan and Gemma being a bit ill with one another and not immediately smoothing it over. A good solid four stars. Now she joins Julia S-F and others whose series I've caught up with, but never fear, there are more series waiting impatiently for me.

Edited: Aug 15, 9:29pm Top

I kind of wandered through Bossypants, curious because I knew several people who had enjoyed it, and because I'm so out of touch with what passes for modern culture. I found it quite amusing in a few parts, but not consistently so. Not a highlight of this year's reading.

ETA: The cover isn't exactly ugly, but I found it creepy, so I decided it qualified for that popsugar category. That gets me to 20 of the 40 categories.

Aug 16, 8:55am Top

>55 Jim53: I had about the same reaction when I read Bossypants, and yes, I had to put it face down because I really disliked looking at the cover.

Aug 19, 3:31pm Top

I tried The Masked City, the sequel to The Invisible Library, but it was just a little too precious or something; I couldn't get into it. I decided on a re-read and chose Land of Shadows, the first of Rachel Howzell Hall's series featuring detective Lou Norton. Good choice. I ripped through it and am about to start the second, Skies of Ash. I love Lou's voice and attitude.

Aug 22, 8:45pm Top

I finished my re-read of Skies of Ash, the second Lou Norton novel. I remembered it better than I had remembered Land of Shadows, so it wasn't quite as great a re-read, but I still enjoyed the narration and a lot of the story elements. Our book club is reading Americanah for mid-September, and I'm waiting for my wife to finish it so i can read it again, and while I wait I'm starting Trail of Echoes.

Aug 23, 5:08am Top

>58 Jim53: I really enjoyed Americanah when I read it last year. Hope you have a good book club discussion about it.

Aug 25, 5:32pm Top

I "zipped" (such as it is these days) through Trail of Echoes. Enjoyed it greatly. Since I don't own a copy of the fourth volume, I made a switch, to UKL's No Time to Spare, a collection of short essays on everyday topics. Some of the essays are better than others; so far I particularly like one on childhood and adulthood. I see that this book won a "related work" Hugo award. Here is the full list for this year:


I think I might want to check out this series that NK Jemisin has been writing!

Aug 26, 3:16pm Top

>60 Jim53: it's sooooo good!

Aug 28, 11:33am Top

I was both surprised and not by When the Wind Blows, which I read for my mystery book club. It's a genre-bender, with a strong science-fiction element. I didn't know Patterson did that sort of thing, but all I had read of his was a couple of the Alex Cross series. The story was intriguing in the first two thirds of the book but deteriorated badly toward the end. And the writing was bad, was distracting, was putrid (yes, I'm imitating one of his more obvious and annoying tendencies). The narrative alternated between first person when one character's viewpoint was being used and third person for the viewpoints of a few other characters. This in itself wasn't so bad, but sometimes we'd be a few paragraphs in before the "I" would appear, so that i would have to adjust midstream. Again, I can do it, but why? I'm off to find something better written, easier to digest, less annoying...

Aug 28, 3:54pm Top

>62 Jim53: I am sorry you have had a disappointing read. It can be so deflating when that happens. Hopefully your next read will be a bit more fun.

Aug 28, 8:51pm Top

>63 pgmcc: Thanks, Peter. It's no biggie; I've developed "appropriate" expectations for the list of books that the leader picked for this club.

Tonight I'm watching the hoopsters but soon I plan to start A Spool of Blue Thread.

Sep 5, 11:37am Top

The Tyler proved to be beyond my current limit of concentration, so I've returned to the world of re-reads with Tigana. My copy of Graveyard Clay just arrived, but it will be a while before I get to it.

Sep 10, 9:43am Top

I finally got my hands on Americanah and am enjoying it tremendously.

Sep 10, 11:08am Top

>65 Jim53: I hope you get to The Graveyard Clay when you are in the right mood for it. I found the best way to think about it was to consider yourself listening to a conversation in which some people interrupt one another, other people just don’t finish their sentences, and you learn to know who is speaking by the words they use and the way they speak.

Sep 10, 12:08pm Top

>66 Jim53: That's a good one!

Sep 11, 9:50pm Top

Americanah doesn't work well as a bedtime read, so I've started The Farthest Shore for the nth time. It's hard not to just read all the way through it.

Sep 11, 9:55pm Top

I sent in some suggestions for a library book club, and noticed after doing so that without intending it, I chose all female authors. Interesting. Here is the list:

Anne Tyler, A Spool of Blue Thread (Man Booker nominee)
Madeline Miller, Circe
NK Jemisin, The Fifth Season (the first in her recent trilogy of SF novels, which have won the last three Hugo awards for best novel)
Roxane Gay, Hunger
Kamila Shamsie, Home Fire
Nina George, The Little Paris Bookshop
Eowyn Ivey, To the Bright Edge of the World
Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing (or any of her others)
Susan Quinn, Eleanor and Heck

We'll see if they choose any of them.

Sep 12, 11:18am Top

>70 Jim53: Some good choices there, and now I have some bullets, thanks!

Sep 12, 4:59pm Top

Looks like I missed a health scare! While I'm sorry I was not around to offer my support, I am ashamed to admit I was relieved to be able to race through posts until I found your good news.

Stop scaring us like that...

Sep 12, 6:15pm Top

>72 clamairy: No shame in that relief, dear Clam. I hesitated about even mentioning the problem, but it has affected my reading so strongly that I thought it would be a disservice for some future biographer to have to wonder what was going on ;-)

This bit of self-indulgent humor does entice me to wonder whether anyone will ever look at these scribblings at some later time. Will those we leave behind find them at all interesting? Probably only in the most peripheral way; I think my pleasure or purpose in it lies simply in sharing this piece of my journey as it happens with some rather like-minded folks, and having the wonderful opportunity to read about theirs.

Sep 12, 7:25pm Top

>73 Jim53: Yup. I hear you. For me it's all about the interaction while it's occurring and not about leaving a record for any future stalkers historians.

Sep 13, 6:48am Top

>73 Jim53: & >74 clamairy:
I second that.

Sep 13, 9:02am Top

>73 Jim53: >74 clamairy: >75 pgmcc: I agree, and yet have to think that if I could find a thread which my great-grandparents (or even grandparents or parents) participated in, I would love reading it. Sort of an insight into a year of their lives and how they interacted with friends of the day. I love finding old letters for that reason, but all the letters I never write will not be read. ;)

Sep 15, 11:54am Top

>70 Jim53: What a great list! I've got Circe sitting on my ottoman.

>73 Jim53: Based on my own current read (scholarship on reading in the 18th century) I think that there may well be serious interest in the book discussions here -- assuming that everything gets preserved one way or another. Maybe we should print some stuff out for the sake of posterity.

Sep 15, 6:04pm Top

Nice piece here by Becky Chambers about the relevance of one of my faves, The Left Hand of Darkness:

How the Left Hand of Darkness changed everything

Sep 15, 9:33pm Top

>76 MrsLee: >77 jillmwo: and of course it's useful for me to be able to look back at what I was reading, as my CRS syndrome worsens.

Sep 17, 8:18am Top

>78 Jim53: Thanks for sharing the article! Left hand of darkness is one of my favourite SF novels so it was good to read an appreciation of it.

Sep 17, 9:20am Top

>78 Jim53: & >80 Sakerfalcon: Left Hand of Darkness was one of the first Science Fiction books I read. I loved it and can still remember key elements of it. I am looking forward to reading that article.

Sep 17, 10:08pm Top

>80 Sakerfalcon: >81 pgmcc: It was novel for me to see an appreciation by someone who read the book so long after it was published, but on whom it still made such an impression.

The Bulletin of Bibliography's issue of June 2001 has a nice picture of UKL on the cover, because the lead article was "The High Points So Far: an Annotated Bibliography of Ursula K. LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed," by yours truly. I wrote it for a course on bibliographical methods, which I took at UNC-Wilmington during the time when my wife was teaching there and I was fantasizing about a retirement career as an English professor. My instructor had me submit it and it was accepted, so it's my one academic publication (so far). As I told my wife at the time, it was really just an excuse to crawl through those two books again and spend a couple of months reading a lot of critical articles about them.

Sep 17, 10:20pm Top

We had a good discussion of Americanah at our community book club this evening. I wasn't sure how it would be received by this all-white group, but if anyone really hated the race-related portions, they didn't say so. Some of the readers had reactions that hadn't occurred to me, which is always good. Based on some of the comments, I believe I'm identifying some fellow thinkers in the neighborhood, which isn't always easy.

I went to an appointment in West Chester today, and stopped by the Exton library, which is much bigger and better stocked than the rather pitiful ones in our rural end of the county. I saw a sign that said "Bridge Books," and went to take a look. I didn't really think they'd be about the game, but you never know. It turns out that a "bridge book" is one designed to facilitate the transition for young readers from picture books to chapter books; in essence, they're short and fairly easy chapter books. My seven-year-old granddaughter has been making that transition this summer, so I may grab a few of these to have around when she visits. Today I brought home Night of the Ninjas, one of a series in which two kids travel back in time through a magic tree house and learn about a historical period. Now I can, as the cover urges me, Climb the ladder to adventure by reading the Magic Tree House books.

Sep 18, 6:25am Top

>82 Jim53: Is your article available electronically? It sounds like it would be a good and interesting read.

Sep 18, 7:11am Top

>82 Jim53: What Hugh said in >84 hfglen:.

Sep 20, 9:39am Top

>84 hfglen: >85 pgmcc: My google-fu isn't up to finding that volume anywhere online. That sort of thing usually requires some sort of privileged access to university resources. I will see if I can scan it and create a file to send out. Don't slaver too much with anticipation, though; it's about four pages of overview and eight or nine pages of summaries of critical works. It will probably take me a couple of days to get to it; I'm currently spending most of my time learning about medical stuff.

Sep 20, 9:48am Top

I've been re-reading Gene Wolfe's Free Live Free at bedtime. It's an odd story, not one of his famous ones, about four misfits who answer an ad from an old man who is looking for people to live in his house and help him resist having it demolished. It's full of references to The Wizard of Oz, Popeye, Magoo, and the like. There is one scene, where numerous characters are caught in the dark when the electric power in a mental hospital is sabotaged, in which a long conversation takes place with minimal attributions. The attentive reader can recognize who's speaking most of the time. I decided this was good practice for tackling Graveyard Clay ;-)

Sep 20, 2:24pm Top

>86 Jim53: As a big fan of UKLG, I'm also interested in reading your article.

(Doing my best not to slaver or drool in anticipation here... ;)

Sep 25, 7:26pm Top

I received Sara Paretsky's Shell Game as an early review book and finished it this evening and posted my review. I believe it's #18 in her series featuring private detective V.I. Warshawski. It follows her usual approach to Vic's cases, and includes some digs at current politicians and social trends, which will come as no surprise to anyone who (like me) follows Ms. P on facebook. A good solid four-star book.

I was pleasantly surprised that the latest book for our mystery book club was also a good read. Some of the recent ones have been real clunkers, but I enjoyed Sworn to Silence, the first in Linda Castillo's series featuring police chief Kate Burkholder, who grew up Amish in Ohio, left for the big city (Columbus), and returned to her old world, tho not to Amishness. This one begins with an interesting twist: when a young girl is raped and murdered, people fear the return of a serial killer who operated in the area fifteen years ago. But that was when teenaged Kate, defending herself from a similar attack, shot her attacker. So she doesn't want the current investigation to dig up too much about the previous crime spree. My only complaint about the book was that there weren't many candidates for the killer; I spotted the person pretty early on. But it was interesting to see how Castillo got us there, and I'll probably look for more of these.

Sep 26, 10:48am Top

>84 hfglen: >85 pgmcc: >88 ScoLgo: I'm having trouble getting my printer's scan function to recognize my laptop over wifi. I'll have to resume trying (maybe scan to email) after a brief getaway. Y'all behave while I'm not here to watch you.

Sep 26, 11:03am Top

>90 Jim53: Enjoy your getaway.

Now, how are we to behave while you are not watching?

Sep 27, 8:50am Top

>91 pgmcc: I would think he means with several PGGBs and lots of cheese, wouldn't you?

Sep 27, 9:07am Top

>92 MrsLee: That sounds about right. I can always rely on your having the correct interpretation.

Sep 30, 8:49pm Top

>91 pgmcc:, I know, I should have known better than to even say that, but I thought it might provoke some entertaining responses.

I was disappointed by Night of the Ninja; it sets up a story and then shows us only the first part of it. I assume the intention is to get us to purchase the next book in the series. In most other respects it seemed like a good book for a youngster making the transition from picture books to chapter books.

Sep 30, 8:53pm Top

I've resumed reading A Spool of Blue Thread, and I'm enjoying it. It has prompted me to think about the difference between its pace and that of my prior read, Shell Game. Paretsky, as is the norm in genre fiction these days, gives us quite short chapters with minimal changes of POV and even of setting within a chapter. Tyler, OTOH, gives us long, flowing chapters with much less frantic action but with different POVs, etc., within a chapter. Each seems appropriate to the story being told, but they require different sorts of reading.

Oct 1, 4:00am Top

>94 Jim53: Welcome back. Can we stop behaving now you have returned?

Oct 1, 7:21am Top

>96 pgmcc: Pete, logically no. It may, however, be possible to behave differently.

Oct 1, 10:09am Top

>96 pgmcc: In order to stop behaving, you would have to have started, and I certainly haven't seen any evidence of that.

Oct 4, 9:58am Top

So I finished A Spool of Blue Thread. It was pretty classic Tyler: touching stories of family members interacting, remembering their defining stories, worrying about this and that, doing a certain amount of navel-gazing, with some truly hilarious low-key bits of humor. Was this one, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize, her best? Was it better than The Accidental Tourist? Than Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant? Than Breathing Lessons, for which she won a Pulitzer? I would say not, although I'd say it was better than any of her others that I've read. I appreciated the chance to spend some time reading in a more leisurely, but no less attentive, fashion than I do when reading modern mysteries. I appreciated the nudges to reflect about similar elements of my own family life, the stories that get told over and over, why those particular stories and not others.

Oct 4, 1:14pm Top

Third-quarter summary: a surprising 18 books, including four re-reads. Not counting some bedtime re-reads of things like The Farthest Shore and others that I've read multiple times.

The only non-fiction title was Bossypants.
The one children's book was Night of the Ninjas.
The only books by men were Midnight Riot, The Cat's Table, and When the Wind Blows.
5 by writers of color, of which the best was my re-read of Americanah
3 by non-Americans, of which the best was The Cat's Table (and also Americanah)
11 mysteries, including 3 re-reads; the best were Shell Game, Sworn to Silence, Garden of Lamentations, and the re-reads of the Lou Norton series.
5 other fiction, of which the best were A Spool of Blue Thread and An American Marriage.

11 library books and 7 that we own, including my only ER book so far this year.

Oct 4, 1:16pm Top

Having noted the dearth of non-fiction in 3Q, I'm beginning 4Q with Outliers, which is for our neighborhood book club. I'm about 100 pages in and it's pretty readable. He delights in finding unexpected reasons for the successes of groups of people whom we have tended to regard as self-made.

Oct 4, 2:24pm Top

>100 Jim53: Glad to see that Americanah was a good experience for you; it's been in my TBR for some time but maybe I should move it up the stack.

I hadn't heard of the Anne Tyler one but I was pleasantly surprised by The Accidental Tourist so will be looking forward to this one too.

Oct 7, 9:24am Top

Outliers had some interesting ideas but was ultimately quite underwhelming. Gladwell is looking into factors that affect who is successful, in his very limited, materialistic definition of the word, i.e., making a lot of money and achieving recognition in one's field. He looks at factors such as being born at the right time of year, so that one will stand out when compared to younger agemates; growing up in a "rice paddy" culture, where continuous hard work is the norm; having unusual opportunities such as access to computers before they were widely available; and growing up with certain cultural disadvantages, which can turn out to be advantages. He seems primarily interested in debunking the notion of the "self-made man," which is so prevalent in the American mythos. His discussions are interesting, but in most cases they rely on a single source rather than on a broad survey of relevant scholarship; they also reflect a privileged male standpoint. For example, when he goes on about the "culture of honor" in Appalachia and the American South, which provoked and lengthened many famous feuds, I wondered if he had ever met a southern woman. And when he talks about the KIPP schools, which improve students' abilities to pursue academic success by working them six long days a week, it doesn't sound as if he has any understanding of healthy social and emotional development.

The book is a pretty easy read and contains some interesting ideas. I'm glad I read it, and I'm looking forward to our book club discussion about it. I just wish he'd taken a broader look at what success might be, and considered more than one theory in several of his theses. 3 stars.

Oct 7, 9:28am Top

>102 Darth-Heather: I found myself thinking about why she included these particular scenes in Americanah, in this order; if I had the energy, it would be a very attractive book for some serious study. Yet it's very readable--I recommend it highly.

Oct 8, 5:17pm Top

After re-reading the first three of Rachel Howzell Hall's series featuring detective Elouise Norton, I got the fourth from the library and read it this week. It's a little more of a downer than the previous volumes; Lou's chirpy attitude is still there, but it's tempered by a lot of physical pain resulting from her last case. I haven't seen anything from her since; I looked for a web site but it seems to be a couple of years old. I'll have to see what some of my buds in the mystery world know, because I'll certainly be interested in any further Lou adventures.

Oct 8, 6:07pm Top

>105 Jim53: Which of her mysteries might you recommend? What is the first in the series? I ask because I'm beginning the process of selecting titles for 2019 and I'd be grateful for your recommendations. I see that Garden of Lamentations is something I noted as a possibility. I think you've expressed an affection for the Deborah Crombie titles. Which of hers do you think the best?

Oct 8, 8:08pm Top

>106 jillmwo: Garden of Lamentations (#17 of the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series) is IMNAAHO the best of Crombie's last few. It does refer in a few places to events from prior books, so I'm not sure if it's the best place to get into that series. My favorites have been #5 Dreaming of the Bones (the first one that was really excellent), #6 Kissed a Sad Goodbye (she does a great job of revealing things gradually), and #8 And Justice There is None. If you've got the copies, any of these would be a good intro to the series and enable folks to see if they want to read more.

The first of Hall's series is Land of Shadows. I have not recommended this series to my local mystery group because I don't think they can take the violence or the sexiness. Lou is a great character, and several of the supporting characters are well drawn. If your group is somewhat adventurous, and would like a little diversity in their reading, some at least would probably enjoy it. I read a lot of mysteries by black women last year, and none of the others were this good.

Beyond that, I'd encourage you to take a look at my usual faves: Julia Spencer-Fleming, Louise Penny. Ellen Crosby. I liked Defending Jacob a lot, and Hank Ryan's new one, Trust Me, a standalone, is one of her best. If you've never read John Hart, take a look at The Last Child. I'll shut up now, but can resume if desired ;-)

Oct 8, 9:21pm Top

>107 Jim53: You're being tremendously helpful. Keep going! The group I'm working with hasn't read any of Crombie's books so those are great suggestions. I am a little hesitant over Hall based on what you say because I'm not sure that my group would care for either the violence or the sexiness.

We've not tried Hank Ryan at all and if Trust Me is a stand-alone, that would be a real plus.

Oct 9, 9:16pm Top

>108 jillmwo: Here are a few more, beyond my favorite series, that I remember enjoying a lot:

Alafair Burke, The Ex
Diane Chamberlain, The Midwife's Confession, combines mystery with women's fiction
William Kent Krueger, Ordinary Grace, Edgar winner a few years ago
Lawrence Levy, Brooklyn on Fire, Brooklyn in the 1890s, sex roles, humor

Then there's my favorite book of all time, The Eyre Affair, the ultimate genre bender

Oct 10, 2:40am Top

Oct 10, 10:34am Top

I was pleased to see this morning that Johns Hopkins University is naming a new research building after Henrietta Lacks, whose story was chronicled in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which is a great read.

Oct 10, 11:41am Top

How very appropriate -- far better than naming it after a mere politician!

Oct 11, 7:07pm Top

>111 Jim53: Took them long enough to acknowledge her, I thought. But yes, it pleased me too!

Glad to see you've been reading up a storm. How are all of those book clubs going?

Oct 11, 9:40pm Top

>113 clamairy: Good to see you dragging yourself from the beach to post! ;-) I just dropped out of the mystery book club because the selections were so bad. So right now it's just the one for our community, and I'm going to try to keep up with another one starting in November.

Oct 12, 10:03pm Top

I zipped through Off the Grid, the sixth of the Monkeewrench mystery series. John Smith, the retired FBI agent, has been monitoring web traffic for conversations about terrorism and posting his findings to various law enforcement agencies. Apparently someone else has been getting Smith's communications too, and the results have put the Monkeewrench software team in danger. It's a pretty good story.

The Monkeewrench software plays the superpower role in these stories: it's so powerful, giving the team, and the officers with which they work, the ability to see and hear all sorts of things that they couldn't otherwise. There might be real-life analogs that would enable a lot of these capabilities, but it feels a lot like magic (yes, Clarke's Law seems to apply).

Oct 13, 5:36pm Top

So.. when you see this headline, what do you think of?

The Children’s Classic That Secretly Brought Existentialist Philosophy Into American Homes

Yeah, I had no idea either... I thought of Pullman, but not this guy.

Oct 13, 7:01pm Top

Yeah, I didn't see that one coming. Also shows how much I remember of the Prydain Chronicles which apparently isn't as much as I thought :)

Oct 14, 3:47pm Top

I started The Fifth Season, the first of Jemisin's three consecutive Hugo winners. It requires a little effort to get into, but I'm enjoying it. I haven't been reading nearly as much SF the last few years as I used to, and my getting-into-a-new-world muscles are a little out of shape.

Oct 14, 3:59pm Top

>118 Jim53: I look forward to reading what you think of The Fifth Season once you’re done. I liked that whole series quite a bit, but I can definitely see how it might strain some slightly out-of-shape getting-into-a-new-world muscles. :)

Edited: Oct 15, 3:20pm Top

Here's a really good interview with Tana French. I'm on the list for her new one at the library and am even more excited to see it than I am about other upcoming new ones . Her point that "we are all unreliable narrators" is something that other writers, including Gene Wolfe, have been stressing for a long time, but it's still good to see because it's not universally accepted.


Oct 16, 7:31pm Top

>119 YouKneeK: I'm going pretty slowly right now. A couple of the story lines, one in particular, seem to involve a very dominant male mentor who must hurt his female charge in order to establish the proper relationship--I'm hoping the story will include getting away from this sort of thing.

Oct 16, 9:46pm Top

>121 Jim53: Yes, that bit was rough. :o(

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