rosalita jumps a little higher in 2018: Verse 7
This is a continuation of the topic rosalita jumps a little higher in 2018: Verse 6.
Join LibraryThing to post.
Well, hello there! I’m Julia and this is where I will chronicle my year in books and other wordy things. I’m 53, I work in higher education, and I live in Iowa. I read books of all sorts (fiction, nonfiction, mystery, history, science fiction/fantasy), maybe fewer than in the past but hopefully better. (Better does not mean Serious, or Literary, or any such thing. It just means, you know, Better.)
And because I do a lot of reading outside of books, I’ll be tempting you once again with Clickbait, my possibly-too-cute way to refer to links and comments to various internetty items of interest that I find interesting, amusing, or thought-provoking. Maybe you will, too! None of the non-book reading will count toward my 75-book total, of course. And after a year of not counting re-reads in my yearly total, I've decided to once again count all books. Thanks to everyone who chimed in when I was mulling this over late last year!
About those stars:
My system for assigning star ratings to books has evolved over the years, but this chart comes the closest to describing what I consider when I rate a book.
This book may not be perfect, but it was perfect for me.
I will actively recommend this book to friends.
A really great book with minor flaws, still highly recommended.
Better than average but some flaws. Recommended.
Entertaining but probably forgettable, recommended only for fans of the genre or author.
Readable but something about the story, characters or writing was not up to standards. Not recommended.
Finished but did not like, and would not recommend.
Some redeeming qualities made me finish it, but nothing to recommend.
Nearly no redeeming qualities. Really rather bad.
Could not finish, possibly destroyed by fire (unless it's a library book)
2017 in Review
I made the decision at the start of the year to only count new reads in my yearly total, and that turned out to be 77. I've read more in the past but that's OK. Every year has its own rhythm. Since I track reading dates in my catalog, I can see that the total number of books read in 2017, including re-reads, is 103. The consensus in an unscientific poll on my last thread of 2017 showed overwhelming support for counting them all in one list, so that's what I'll do this year.
I only rated three books as :
The Children by David Halberstam (nonfiction, history)
Uprooted by Naomi Novik (fantasy)
Calamity Town by Ellery Queen (fiction, mystery)
The list of books is a bit longer:
The Green Mile by Stephen King
Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
The Western Star by Craig Johnson
The Glass Universe by Dava Sobel
Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach
Middlemarch by George Eliot
The Trespasser by Tana French
The Fireman by Joe Hill
Of the 77 books I read for the first time, 38 were written by men; 37 by women, and 2 were written by a mixed male-female collaboration.
And that's about the extent of the stats I track!
2018 Reading Stats to Date
Lincoln: Biography of a Writer
Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries
The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures
The Radium Girls
Travels With Charley
The Dark Angel
Third entry in the Gabriel Allon series came in unexpectedly at the library; and a book of short stories by rediscovered favorite Dick Francis.
Hi Julia! Happy new thread! I am woefully behind on threads, but I did check out your reviews for your 5 & 4.5 star reads in >3 rosalita:!
Happy new thread, Julia!
I like your topper, I recently have read a few like that :-)
76. Night of the Grizzlies by Jack Olsen.
Up through the middle of the 20th century, as the frontier of the American West became more and more crowded with humans, the mighty grizzly bear population found its safe spaces dwindling to smaller and smaller enclaves. This led to increasing numbers of close encounters between people and the bears believed to be averse to human contact. Still, no one had ever been killed by a grizzly in the U.S. — until 1967, when two women were killed by two different grizzlies on the same night inside Glacier National Park in Montana. What provoked the bears to attack? And why did the National Park Service ignore a multitude of warnings all that summer that human-bear interactions were reaching dangerous levels?
Olsen tries to answer those questions with this account, though he comes up a bit short on final conclusions. And given that the book was first published in 1969, his pessimistic conclusion that the killings were the beginning of the end for the grizzly bear in North America proved to be premature. In fact, the population rebounded after being listed on the Endangered Species List in 1975 and has now recovered to the point where some of the restrictions on hunting and killing grizzlies are being lifted. By sheer coincidence, I heard a story about this very topic this morning on NPR: Grizzlies Have Recovered, Officials Say; Now Montanans Have to Get Along With Them.
Despite the ways in which Olsen's account is outdated, it's still worth reading for the descriptions of the beauty of Glacier NP and the magnificence of the grizzly bear. It's clear that Olsen, while not quite condoning the grizzly attacks (though it's clear he places the majority of the blame on the NPS), is on the side of Ursus horribilis when it comes to deserving a corner of the planet where they can live without human interference.
Happy new thread! Night of the Grizzlies looks like a very interesting read. I have been watching the debate over the grizzly hunt with interest. Like the story in American Wolf, it seems unsportsmanlike to set boundaries where hunters can and cannot hunt, and ignore the fact that the bears, or wolves, don't recognize those boundaries. Not exactly a level playing field. Glacier is a gorgeous park. I'd love to go there again.
ETA: I just went to mark it "to read" over at Goodreads and saw that there is a Night of the Grizzlies, 45 Years Later by Chris Nunnally. I wonder if it's any good?
Happy new one - I love your green topper. Good to read the author of >14 rosalita: got it wrong, although I can't imagine what the UK would do to cope with such a large predator - there are so many complaints just about urban foxes.
>15 nittnut: Yes, it does seem similar to the arguments about the wolf, especially if you read/listen to that NPR story. I think you might really enjoy the descriptions of Glacier since you've been there and have something to compare them to. It sounds lovely. And thanks for the heads-up about the Nunnally book. There's nothing on LT about it, so I went a-googling, and found that it's a 10-page self-published piece with mixed reviews. Too bad.
>16 johnsimpson: Thanks, John.
>17 charl08: I'd love to know what the author thinks of how things turned out in the end. I'm sure he's happy that his dire prediction of extinction didn't come true. The biggest wild animal I've had a close encounter with was deer wandering into the yard to munch on trees and things. That was plenty exciting enough, and they are not exactly known as fierce predators. :-)
Hi Julia. Glacier Park is one of my favorite places. I've been there probably half a dozen times and I've seen bears every time I've been there as well. The valley is pretty small for all the humans and wildlife not to bump into each other at times. I haven't seen a grizzly bear, and I am not complaining about that. Oh, I just realized that I was thinking more of Waterton Lakes National Park which is the sister park to Glacier on the Canadian side of the border. The bears were all seen in Canada. :)
>19 DeltaQueen50: Hi, Judy. The book talks about how the park essentially straddles the Canadian border. Some of the stories about close encounters made my blood freeze — a pair who would come every three days to rummage through a cabin's garbage bins, and would get enraged by any noise from inside the house (such as the family dog barking) and crash repeatedly into the door trying to break it down. Yikes!
77. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey.
I'm so glad I finally got around to reading this classic mystery, which has a most unusual set-up. Tey's detective Alan Grant (this is the fifth in a series) is flat on his back in hospital with injuries incurred in the course of duty. He's bored out of his mind until his friend Marta gets him interested in trying to solve a historical mystery: Was Richard III really a monster who had his young nephews murdered in order to steal the throne of England?
I confess that the parade of similarly named English royalty often confounds me, and I couldn't coherently distinguish between Edward II and Edward III, or the multitude of Henrys, without a cheat sheet. Fortunately Tey, through Grant and his legman, American researcher Brent Carradine, provides plenty of easily digestible background material to fill in the blanks.
It's always pleasantly surprising when books where the conclusion is known in advance remain compelling to read (cf. Erik Larson's Dead Wake about the sinking of the Lusitania), and that was the case for me here. I knew the bloodthirsty image of Richard III promulgated by Shakespeare and others had been debunked, but I still followed every twist and turn in the story with anticipation. And Tey's ability to make a book set entirely in a hospital room compelling is a tour de force.
I don't know if or how the rest of the series can live up to this singular book, but I think I'd like to give it a try.
Happy Newish Thread, Julia!
Nice to see Josephine Tey being read. That one is a tour de force - good phrase for it. I'm always impressed when an author is able to convey a lot of factual information seamlessly while the story gallops on. I just had that in The Overstory, with lots of tree info rather than English history.
>22 jnwelch: Hi, Joe! I think it takes a really strong understanding of the subject matter before an author can write that smoothly about it without coming off like a college survey course. Sounds like your current read also passes that test.
Have you read any of the other Alan Grant mysteries from Tey?
>21 rosalita: nice premise! I am not traditionally sold on mystery novels. Glad you liked it, and that you plan to delve further into the series.
Happy are thread! I am sure I was here yesterday but didn't leave a message, what the? Ah well, I am here now :)
>24 LovingLit: Better late than never, Megan! I do that all the time, btw. "Didn't I already comment on this thread?"
New and noteworthy books, via The New York Times:
Fashion Climbing: A Memoir with Photographs by Bill Cunningham. "This posthumous memoir by Cunningham, who was for many years the fashion and society photographer for The New York Times, begins when its author was 4 and his middle-class Catholic family lived in a suburb of Boston. But it is mostly about the fashion world of the late 1940s through the early ’60s, when Cunningham was a hat designer and party crasher in Manhattan." ... I'd probably rather browse through a book of his photographs, to be honest.
Temp: How American Work, American Business, and the American Dream Become Temporary by Louis Hyman. "An astounding 94 percent of American jobs created between 2005 and 2015 were for 'alternative work.' Temp examines the underlying cultural shift that made that possible." Sounds depressing but also right up my alley.
Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas. "Giridharadas examines the worlds of Davos and Aspen, where an elite intent on 'changing the world' hang out, emerging with a quietly scathing report on how little they actually do to make a difference when it comes to the big structural problems." I've had it up to here with reading about rich people, myself.
The Husband Hunters: American Heiresses Who Married into the British Aristocracy by Anne De Courcy. "'De Courcy’s diverting new study of this phenomenon,' Tina Brown writes in her review, 'makes a persuasive case that a prime driver in the American heiress exodus was escape from the savage competitiveness of Gilded Age society in the capital of status, New York.'" I just keep thinking of Lady Grantham. Also, see comment above re: rich people and reading about them.
The Fighters: Americans in Combat in Afghanistan and Iraq by C.J. Chivers. "In this forceful narrative of America’s recent wars, by a senior writer for The New York Times, soldiers who began their military service in a blaze of patriotism after 9/11 end up cynical, betrayed and often disfigured or dead." Sounds powerful. A solid maybe.
Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History by Keith O'Brien. "The title honors the female aviators who were hindered by the deep gender inequities of the golden age of flying. These are women few of us have heard of before; as O’Brien explains of their forgotten histories, each woman 'went missing in her own way.'" Yes, please!
The Traitors' Niche by Ismail Kadare. "The quest for a rebel pasha’s severed head serves as a darkly satirical symbol in this sly Albanian novel originally published in 1978, an allegorical fable about 20th-century authoritarianism." Hmm, maybe?
If You See Me, Don't Say Hi by Neel Patel. "The Indian-Americans in this debut story collection are less troubled by cultural clashes than they are by the unraveling of emotions." Probably not.
I Will Be Complete by Glen David Gold. "Gold attempts to explain his neo-Dickensian upbringing by summarizing his ‘mom’s need to maneuver her way past some obstacles toward the bright and confusing future she wanted. The immediate obstacle in her path? That would be me.’" Not at all familiar with Glen David Gold, so no.
>30 karenmarie: Hi there, Karen! Great meme — we've all been there, haven't we? And I want to read more Tey for sure — my library has three of the other Alan Grant books and neither of the standalones, so I may have to do a little ILLing. I'm glad to hear they are worth the trouble.
78. The Confessor by Daniel Silva.
Gabriel Allon, our favorite art restorer/Israeli assassin, is back, this time on the hunt for the killer of one of his former colleagues in Israeli espionage. Benjamin was a professor working on a mysterious book at the time of his murder, and Gabriel suspects the killing was an attempt to keep the book from being published. The investigation takes him from Munich to Rome to Venice France and back again, as his findings threaten to expose some explosive secrets of the Catholic Church. The plot is complicated and heavy with conspiracy as usual, as well as the copious amounts of gore you can expect when the main character is a professional assassin. Perhaps a little heavy-handed, which keeps it from rising to the level of previous entries in the series.
>33 charl08: I thought of you when I saw Fly Girls, Charlotte. Of course, I also thought of Susan when I saw the one about American heiresses marrying British royalty. :-)
>34 charl08: Oh, wouldn't that be nifty if it were so? It certainly sounds plausible. I've not read any of the Morse books OR seen the TV series yet, inexplicably as it's certainly right in my wheelhouse, genre-wise.
I read all of the Josephine Tey mysteries ages ago, but The Daughter of Time is the one that sticks in my memory, of course. As I recall, all of them were enjoyable, but as I read them in my teens, I don't know how they will stand up. Oh, come to think of it, she wrote Brat Farrar, which I did reread in the last few years, and found quite delightful.
Love the thread topper, Julia. And congrats on blowing past the 75 books read goal! You got me with a book bullet on your last thread. Great review of the newest Jane Harper book. I really enjoyed The Dry when I read it. I'm so glad she did a follow-up book…and that you liked it.
ETA: I'd better get to Force of Nature in a more timely nature than the rest of my wish-listed books. It looks like The Lost Man will be coming out in February of 2019. Yay!
79. The Home Place by Carrie La Seur.
Alma Terrebone thinks she's escaped a hardscrabble upbringing in Montana. She's a high-powered corporate lawyer in Seattle, with a live-in French-Canadian boyfriend and an imminent merger deal that should give her the inside track to a partnership in her firm. But when she gets a phone call saying her younger sister Vicky was found dead on the streets of their hometown, she is unwillingly drawn back into the family she tried so hard to leave behind.
This is an interesting story that walks the edge of being a mystery, except the characters and their relationships with each other and the land that surrounds them is so much more compelling that I found myself not really caring about the whodunit. La Seur's descriptions of Montana are vivid, but it's Alma's musings on how the "home place" — the ranch where her grandaprents lived during her childhood — seeped almost unnoticed into her soul that really resonated. In the end, she knows she'll have to choose between Seattle and Montana, and she has trouble accepting that Montana and her messy family dynamic have more of a hold on her than she thought.
All the stories, all the history, everything she knows about every point on the landscape envelops her, and the only word that can express anything about what this place is to her is texture — like running her hands over a variegated rock face or smooth birch bark, embedding them in dough, palming handfuls of red clay mud, sinking her feet into the pebbles in the creek bed, lifting a slick live trout with both hands, lying on the rocky earth, rubbing her horse's sweaty neck. Her body is part of the texture, made of this land and the good, sweet water, healed by the herbs, raised on the stories, grown on the plants and animals, quickened by the air. Her body knows textures here that her mind can't hold consciously all at once.
I bought an e-omnibus of The Cazalet Chronicles, which is apparently one of those family-saga things a la Downton Abbey but with fewer earls and dowager duchesses. I'd never heard of either the books or the author, though they are apparently quite well-known and have had television adaptations Over There, so I thought I'd see what it's all about. This first book of five, The Light Years spans 1937-1939.
>44 katiekrug: I hope you like it!
At least you've heard of the Cazalets! This was the sort of blind purchase I don't usually make except that the 5-book omnibus was like 99 cents or something ridiculous. I'm trying to read more of my own books this year, so when this one floated up to the surface on my Kobo I figured I might as well dig in.
>32 rosalita: Julia, you are getting on really well with the Gabriel series!
>35 rosalita: Ha! I have read that Anne de Courcy book, and it is very good. The Fishing Fleet: Husband-Hunting in the Raj is also excellent.
>43 rosalita: The Cazalets is a great series - even our Amazon had them for a reasonable price a few years ago (not 99c for the set though - sob). I whizzed through them, because I do love a series.
I am enjoying the Gabriel series, but I didn't mean to do a mini-binge. They just kept coming off the reserves list faster than I expected. I don't want them to all run together in my mind, which can happen when I binge-read. Thanks for the recommendation!
It sounds like de Courcy has a niche, writing about husband hunters all over the globe. Love it.
I'm glad to hear you like the Cazalets — I am enjoying the first one, though I had to go back and put an electronic bookmark on the cast of characters page so I could keep all the brothers and their various wives and offspring straight!
>42 rosalita: This sounds excellent. Off to see if my library has a copy...Nope. I'll add it to my WL. It sounds like one I would like.
I loved the Cazalets, Julia. I read the first four a few years ago. I have the fifth one, but it's been so long, I'm thinking I should read them again...
>50 BLBera: It's a good one, Beth! I hope you find it. And more good news that you are a fan of the Cazalets.
Morning, Julia! Nothing to add to the discussion - just wanted to poke my head in and wave.
New and noteworthy books this week via The New York Times:
Every Day is Extra by John Kerry. "Our critic Dwight Garner writes that the book, 'like its author, is reserved and idealistic and reassuringly dull, for long stretches, in its statesmanlike carriage. Every Day Is Extra is a booster shot of old school, small-l liberal values. It is bland the way upper-class food used to be bland. It reminds you why Kerry would probably have made a very good president. It also reminds you why he lost.'" Well, then.
21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari. "This sweeping survey of the modern world by an ambitious and stimulating thinker offers a framework for confronting the fears raised by such major issues as nationalism, immigration, education and religion." Sounds very ... earnest.
Boom Town: The Fantastical Saga of Oklahoma City, Its Chaotic Founding, Its Apocalyptic Weather, Its Purloined Basketball Team, and the Dream of Becoming a World Class Metropolis by Sam Anderson. Goodness, that title! "A vivid, slightly surreal history of “the great minor city of America,” starting 500 million years ago and continuing up through Timothy McVeigh, Kevin Durant and the Flaming Lips." That might be more than I want to know about OKC, tbh.
Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs. "This is a work of uncanny intimacy," Melanie Thernstrom writes in her review. "It has that defining aspect of a literary work: the stamp of a singular sensibility. In the fallen world of kiss-and-tell celebrity memoirs, this may be the most beautiful, literary and devastating one ever written." That's a lot of weight for a book to carry.
Codex 1962 by Sjon, translated by Victoria Cribb. "The three parts of this newly translated work by the Icelandic fabulist Sjon, 20 years in the making, were published as individual books in the author’s home country — a romance, a crime novel and a science fiction story. But “CoDex 1962” toys with every genre under the sun." It sounds interesting.
Presidio by Randy Kennedy. "Vintage Texas noir, this first novel follows the flight to the Mexican border of a car thief turned accidental kidnapper." Lee Child wrote a rave review, if that counts for anything.
Open Me by Lisa Locascio. Oh, hey! A book about college students studying abroad. Maybe we can add this one to our recommended reading lists? "Locascio is 'especially exquisite on the female orgasm,' Buntin writes in her review, and the novel 'transforms from a well-written and recognizable Bildungsroman (younger woman meets older man abroad, education ensues) into something much darker, and more interesting.' OK, maybe not.
Terrarium: New and Selected Stories by Valerie Trueblood. "Urgent, unnerving and tightly packed short fiction that covers enough ground for a whole library."
>57 DeltaQueen50: Duly noted, Judy! I really want to read some more Tey soon.
>56 rosalita: I never make it through the Book section of the NYT without requesting or otherwise taking note of at least 3 or 4 books. I love their short little reviews as well as the in-depth ones. This week, I made sure I had my "Small Fry" request in place and the "21 Lessons" book is looking awfully tempting.
>59 klobrien2: I usually just skim the Books section because I so very seldom read new books (don't buy many books these days and new books are either not available yet or have enormous holds list at the library). I heard Lisa Jobs interviewed on NPR and thought she has an interesting story but memoirs in general are not my thing. I'll be sure to keep an eye on what you think!
>61 susanj67: I almost name-checked you in the blurb for that one, Susan, but I restrained myself. :-)
80. The Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard.
The Cazalets are a trio of brothers — Hugh, Edward, and Rupert — along with their various wives and children. Hugh and Edward work in the family lumber business, while Rupert struggles to make ends meet as a schoolteacher and erstwhile painter. True to Tolstoy's famous words, each of their at least somewhat unhappy family units is unhappy in its own unique way. Hugh and his wife Sybil love each other deeply but are utterly incapable of telling the truth to each other, thus doomed to forever be doing things neither of them wants to do because each of them thinks the other does. Edward is a cad, a hound, who never met a woman he didn't want to bed, while his wife Viola (completely oblivious to Edward's dalliances) wonders why she gave up her life as a professional dancer for domestic drudgery. Rupert's still mourning his first wife, who died giving birth to their youngest, and trying to keep his children and his very young, very beautiful, very shallow second wife happy. And then there's Rachel, the unmarried sister who keeps house for their still-living parents.
The next generation of Cazalets have their own problems, from thwarted dreams of theatrical fame to bullying at public school to dealing with a stepmother who wishes you would just disappear. And lest we forget the elders, Cazalet Sr. and his wife are finding life tough going as well, as all of this family drama plays out against the faint drumbeats of the impending Second World War.
Whew! There is a lot going on here, and I didn't even mention the various intrigues and dramas that surround the servants. And yet, it never seemed too much and I found myself equally absorbed by nearly every character's storyline, which is rare. As you might expect in the first of five connected novels, there's a fair bit of scene-setting and character exposition to plow through, but the family tree and cast of characters at the front of the book got a good workout from me until I could finally keep them all straight.
With the combination of upstairs and downstairs stories along with the early 20th century setting, I couldn't help comparing the Cazalets to the Granthams of Downton Abbey, although a bit lower down on the social scale. The best thing I can think of to say about it is that all of the characters seemed like real people, with real joys and real concerns. I didn't like them all, but I understood them and recognized them for what they are. I will certainly be continuing with the series.
Great that you like the Cazalets, Julia. Is there a Masterpiece Theater of this series? Doesn't it seem like one?
>64 BLBera: I knew it had been a BBC production, Beth, but I went looking just for you and sure enough, the BBC version was ported to Masterpiece Theater. And you'll never guess who was one of the stars, according to the Amazon listing for the DVD — Hugh Bonneville, who played the Earl of Grantham on Downton Abbey!
That seems right. I'll have to check on availability. Thanks for checking for me, Julia.
>66 BLBera: I was hoping it might be available for streaming but no such luck. If you het hold of the DVD you'll have to let me know what you think.
J.K. Rowling's Friend Robert Galbraith Has Something to Say — The central conceit of this Q&A–that it is Galbraith himself answering questions–isn't sustained very consistently throughout which makes it a little confusing to read. But if you can get past that, there are some interesting insights from Rowling into creating the Cormoran Strike series, including her influences and how she plans out each book.
Happy new to me thread!
I’ve had The Daughter of Time on the shelf for a while now. Someone around here must have recommended it ages ago. I know little about the Edwards, Henrys, or Richard but I should give a try sometime, Classic that it is.
Congrats on reaching 75 already!
>69 Copperskye: Hiya, Joanne! Don't sweat not knowing all the English kings in order; Tey really does provide some painless background.
Also, your mention of The Daughter of Time reminds me of something I meant to being up earlier when I wrote my review. I've never broken my leg but I wonder if any modern hospital would keep Grant confined to bed flat on his back for so long? It seems like nowadays they are so,anxious to get you up and out as soon as they can. Of course, that's in the U.S. I'm sure the UK with the NHS is much more civilized about it even now.
>62 rosalita: Julia, feel free!
>63 rosalita: I'm glad you enjoyed The Light Years. It's a very readable series.
>70 rosalita: I think it would depend on how bad the break was. First you'd wait for many hours in A&E with all the drunks and druggies, and then it would take more hours to x-ray and diagnose you (unless it was the weekend, in which case you'd wait till Monday). They'd admit you if you needed surgery or traction, but I doubt otherwise. Some of the private hospitals in London have minor injuries units which treat things like straightforward fractures, and they are popular. But friends from work have been x-rayed, plastered and sent on their way from those, so lying down doesn't really seem to be the thing any more, even when a hospital could charge for it.
>71 scaifea: I enjoy the Galbraith books, Amber.
>72 susanj67: Hi, Susan! Yes, The Light Years sucked me right in. I'll probably read Book Two next month, maybe. I don't want to wait too long with my lousy memory!
Thanks for the rundown of how medical triage works in the UK. Of course as a policeman Grant would be able to avoid the endless waiting, so that's an advantage. And even if they do admit you to hospital these days, they are always trying to get you up and out of bed as soon as possible, sometimes even sooner than possible in my opinion. Even if it's just to sit in an armchair in the room. I think we (the medical community) knows so much more about the dangers of pressure ulcers and blood clots from too much immobility that they really try not to have people just lying around idle for long periods, even beyond the inevitable cost-savings measures that are always present.
>73 rosalita: I think some of the modern sleeping surfaces like gel matrices that distribute weight amazingly well would help with bed sores, but getting people up and out of the hospital is a good way to lower infections.
>74 quondame: When I had a lengthy stay in the ICU in 2008 they initially had me in a bed whose four quadrants would inflate and deflate in a rotation, supposedly to help alleviate pressure ulcers. Unfortunately they had to switch me to a regular bed after a day because the process made me very nauseous, which is a big no-no when you are on a ventilator.
>75 rosalita: I've seen a couple of the inflatable mattress options and the complete lack of air permeability troubled me, but mattress sickness wasn't on my list of concerns. The jury rigged silicon gel pad set up I have certainly diminishes sore spots. I'm currently recovering from having a benign lump removed from my side over the ribs and being able to sink into an aerated surface allows me to approach comfort.
Happy to see you enjoyed your first Cazalet book, Julia. Wise of you to read one a month or so, I tend to wait far too long with my series reading which works ok with mysteries but not so well with others as I forget the story and the characters if too much time goes by.
>76 quondame: The gel pad sounds like a really good option, Susan. I wish I'd had something more like that. I'm so glad it's helping you be comfortable as you heal.
>77 DeltaQueen50: Thanks, Judy! Yes, there is such a cast of characters in the Cazalet books, spread over three generations of th family plus the servants, that I know I'd get completely lost if I wait too long to read the next one. Plus, I really do want to know what happens next!
Wicker Park Newsstand Owner Keeps It Going Because 'It's Like My Reality Show' — This is just a great profile of a genuine Chicago character, the kind of old-school guy you don't see around much anymore. I only wish I could hear audio of his quotes, because he's bound to have one of those classic 'dese dem dose' Chicawgo accents.
Some of my favorite quotes from the article:
The point of it is to get up in the morning, go out among people and see what’s going on,” Brach said. “It’s like my reality show. It keeps you occupied, otherwise you are on the couch like a piece of produce. Activity and movement is life.”
He doesn’t like to reveal his age, saying only “it’s too late to die young.”
“I give (the pigeons) a little chow, I feel bad for them, I never used to. I’ve come to respect them. A lot of birds they look up at the sky, they see it’s a little gray, it’s gonna snow, they pack up their Samsonite and boom, they go south,” Brach said. “These guys, they tough it out, they stay here all winter, they hang around, they stop here looking for a sponsor. I’m their sponsor. In pigeon talk, I’m a sucker.”
81. Why Shoot a Butler? by Georgette Heyer.
Georgette Heyer is probably best known for being the Queen of Regency Romance, having written a barouche full of witty, clever, meticulously detailed examples of the genre over the years. I've read every one of her Regency capers, many of them more than once and some of them more than twice, but I'd never tried one of her forays into the mystery genre until now.
The first clue that this mystery is not set during the Regency period is that motor car on the book cover. Indeed, we are in 1930s England, where a young barrister, Frank Amberley, happens upon a car containing a dead man one evening after getting lost on a country road. There's a young woman standing next to the car, but Amberley's instincts tell him she isn't the culprit. Who was, and why, fills the rest of the book as Amberley conducts a parallel investigation to the official police inquiry.
The central mystery is solid, with lots of red herrings and twists to keep a reader guessing. And of course there's the obligatory romance subplot, though it's all very low-key until the very end. Heyer proves as adept at writing for her own time as she was at channeling 19th century high society, though with much less baffling slang and minute descriptions of clothes and vehicles. I don't know if I'll ever think of Heyer's mysteries on the same level as her romances, but I'm certainly willing to read more of them.
>83 BLBera: Hi, Beth. I'm glad you liked the Chicago guy as much as I did. And the Heyer was better than I expected, just because I love her Regencies so much. The weather finally feels like fall here today, and I'm loving having the windows open to catch the breeze. Hope you're enjoying the same up north.
It does feel like fall today, Julia. It would be nice to dry out; we've had some heavy rain.
Hey, your book festival is coming up? I haven't even looked at it this year. I want to attend -- maybe it will have to wait until after I retire.
Hi Julia, I've read only one of Georgette Heyer's mysteries and although it was very well written and I liked it, the magic that her historical novels provide was missing. I will most proably read more of her mysteries but, lucky me, I still have a number of her Regency novels to read. :)
Thank you for this great memory!
In the 60s, I worked at a nearby Wicker Park community center with the Gorskis and Biskupskis
who were likely friends with this fun guy.
Hi Julia! I haven't read a Heyer in a while, but she is a favorite for sure. Are you doing a book festival soon? Ours isn't until October, but our fundraiser is next Friday. I am helping out with both--yay!
82. Field of Thirteen by Dick Francis.
Most of Dick Francis' mysteries set in or around the sport of horseracing were full-length novels, but he did occasionally write short stories for publication in various magazines. This is a collection of 13 of those, written at various times and for various publications. Francis added short header notes to each story giving a little of the background or inspiration, or indicating when something had been updated. Generally speaking, they range from okay to good, but I still prefer his longer works.
My brief notes on each:
Raid at Kingdom Hill — A seemingly straightforward tale of villainy through a bomb threat at a racecourse turns twisty as all sorts of people look to cash in.
Dead on Red — A professional assassin goes to the races.
Song for Mona — The meek may not inherit the earth, but sometimes they get their revenge.
Bright White Star — A trainer, a tramp, and a tale of "what goes 'round, comes round'.
Collision Course — Never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel.
Nightmare — Crime pays just fine most of the time, but once in a while the good guys win one.
Carrot for a Chestnut — A chain of conspiracy is only as strong as its weakest link.
The Gift — An alcoholic sportswriter gets the tip of a lifetime at the Kentucky Derby — if only he can stay sober enough to write it.
Spring Fever — An older woman's crush on her young jockey is paid back with treachery.
Blind Chance — Sometimes you don't have to watch the ponies run to know who wins.
Corkscrew — Drawing straight with crooked lines is sometimes the only way for justice to be served.
The Day of the Losers — Racing is full of winners and losers, and they aren't always who they seem to be.
Haig's Death — The butterfly effect plays out at the racecourse.
>85 BLBera: >89 Berly: I just realized when I read Kim's post that I hadn't answered her Twin Beth's question about this year's Iowa City Book Festival. I meant to come back to it when I was back at a computer and could look up the list of authors who are coming this year, and then I completely forgot. Sorry, Beth!
Anyway, the festival is October 1-7 this year. I'll link to the page with the list of authors below, but some of the ones that jumped out at me were Ari Berman, James Anderson (who's from out Kim's way), the rapper Common(!), Silvia Hidalgo, Dan Kaufman, and Mary Kubica. Oh, and Beth's favorite William Kent Krueger, who writes a mystery series set in the Boundary Water area of Minnesota. (Touchstones seem to be on the fritz today–I keep getting a '504 Gateway Time-out' error.) There are a bunch of other authors that other folks are probably much more familiar with.
Author Appearances at the 2018 Iowa City Book Festival
83. The Affair by Lee Child.
The 16th entry in Lee Child's seemingly endless series of the adventures of Jack Reacher, man of action. This one flashes back to Reacher's final days in the U.S. Army, when he is sent undercover to investigate a woman's murder in a small Mississippi town whose only economic engine is a nearby military base. The Army is afraid that one of the soldiers from the base, in particular the son of a U.S. Senator, may have been involved. It doesn't take Reacher long to blow both his cover and the ravishingly beautiful county sheriff, in that order. Much blood and other bodily fluids are spilled on the way to the story's climax (sorry, sorry, but this one had a LOT of sex in it). Good if you don't mind blood and bodily fluids, or if you have a thing for choo-choo trains.
A few days late, but
>91 rosalita: Thanks Julia. It looked like a lot of interesting authors. Many are new to me. One of these years I'll make it.
One of my favorite magazines, The Atlantic, has created a new Books section on their website. The editor-in-chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, wrote this in an email to subscribers:
Something I love to do at The Atlantic is meander through our archives and come upon the bylines of some of the greatest writers of the past two centuries. Edith Wharton, Robert Frost, Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Dylan Thomas, James Baldwin, Anne Sexton, Adrienne Rich, John Updike, Philip Roth, Mary Karr—they all wrote for our magazine. Nathaniel Hawthorne, too.I don't know how much of it is visible to non-subscribers but I think they mostly just restrict articles from the actual magazine, so it's worth a click. It looks like some good stuff is there. I've bookmarked it to look at in more depth when I'm not at work.
>96 BLBera: Let me know if you find something particularly good, Beth. I'm excited to get a chance to dig in. Based on the headlines there are quite a few that look interesting.
>91 rosalita: Looking good!! : ) I am having a hard time choosing what volunteer role I want this year because last year I missed out on some authors I really wanted to see. May stall on the decision until the schedule comes out.
>95 rosalita: Ooh! A new books section! Thank you. My LRB came this month with the first issue of a new book magazine with extracts from publishers' of their upcoming books. I'm not quite convinced, as it seems publishers 'book' space, which seems likely to favour the big books already getting press (to me) but I'll look for it and see if it works out like that.
>102 charl08: I hope you find something good to read in the Atlantic's book section, Charlotte. The excerpts magazine would be great if it's used for the great but lesser-known authors. Fingers crossed
>103 rosalita: I already found a GN that I want!
>104 charl08: Ooh, cool! I'll keep an eye on your thread to see what you think of it.
Your writers festival is much earlier than ours. Will you be attending?
>106 Familyhistorian: Hi, Meg. Unfortunately my mobility issues make it difficult for me to attend these sorts of events, but there are several authors I would love to hear. I'm hoping the festival will post audio after the event, which they've done in the past. It's not as good as being there, but it's better than nothing. How about you? When is your festival?
Hi Julia. It looks like I will miss the Iowa Book Festival again this year. How did it get to be almost-October anyway? Summer went by much too quickly, although I'm looking forward to those crisp fall mornings. We've had a wee taste of them this past week as a little teaser. Not much fall color yet, just a leaf here and there.
The 100 Best Horror Books of All Time — Just in time for Halloween comes a list of top horror books. I haven't read much horror for quite a while now, which probably accounts for the many books on this list that I've never heard of. (via Unbound Worlds)
I was surprised at how many of these I've read:
The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories by H.P. Lovecraft — I have to admit the genius of Lovecraft escaped me in my initial reading of Cthulhu.
Carrie by Stephen King — Classic. Loved this one from the time I first read it in junior high.
Dracula by Bram Stoker — Another classic. I read this one just a few years ago and was surprised at how readable it was, given its age.
The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty — I've never seen the movie, but the book was plenty scary enough for me.
Ghost Story by Peter Straub — I don't remember much about this one except that it was spooky.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson — I was a tiny bit disappointed when I finally read this a few years ago. It didn't seem that horrific, honestly.
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova — A good takeoff on the Dracula story, though I seem to recall being disappointed in the ending.
Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice — Another classic. Devoured this one when I was in high school, and it stood up on a re-read. I read the next few sequels but gave up after Book 3, I think.
It by Stephen King — I remember reading this during my initial King mania and finding it spooky but I remember very little of it.
The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan — I really liked this newfangled werewolf story. I still haven't read the sequel, Talulla Rising, though.
NOS4A2 by Joe Hill — Quality horror from the son of the horror master, Stephen King.
The Passage by Justin Cronin — I read all three books in the trilogy but the first one was by far my favorite.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier — I'd love to re-read this one. The first time I read it I was sitting vigil next to my mother's hospital bed during her final illness. It did the distraction job I needed, but I remember almost nothing about it.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy — Oh golly. I sobbed buckets at the ending of this one. Even McCarthy's twee quirks of punctuation couldn't dim my appreciation.
The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris — I went through a serial-killer phase (just reading them, not committing them) and this was one of my favorites. Don't think I could get through it these days.
The Stand by Stephen King — Finally read this for the first time a few years ago in a group read led by Roberta. A rare instance of a book living up to its hype, for the most part.
Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman — Oh, so spooky! Loved this one for the buildup to the big reveal, even if the ending fell a bit flat.
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill — Meh. I enjoyed the story but it wasn't the slightest bit scary to me.
World War Z by Max Brooks — I haven't read many zombie tales, but I liked the format of this one.
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman — Classic if unconventional horror.
And then there's the books on the list that I own but haven't read yet. I need to get to these soon!
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Feed by Mira Grant
The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
How about you? What are your faves from the Top 100?
>109 rosalita: Hard to say what my fave is from the list - I've read 40 of them and liked most. This is a very good list!
I've only read 10:
The Last Werewolf
The Silence of the Lambs
Something Wicked This Way Comes (pretty sure I read this as a tween)
White is for Witching
World War Z
I have another 15 on my shelves/Kindle.
Of the ones I've read, Beloved, The Road, and White is for Witching are standouts.
>110 drneutron: Wow, 40 of the Top 100, Jim! That is impressive. I totally understand not being able to name a favorite of those, but if there are any to avoid of the ones you've read, I'd be interested in that, too. Anything to help me whittle down the list. :-)
>111 katiekrug: OK, putting White is for Witching on my library list, Katie. Thanks for the tip!
>113 BLBera: Hi Beth. I find as I get older I prefer a book with spooky atmosphere far more than outright gore or physical cruelty. But I do still like to be just a little bit scared sometimes. :-)
I'm a wuss; I don't read horror. That said, I have read 9 of them. Three were read as classics: Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Fall of the House of Usher. I read Turn of the Screw for the Henry James month for the author challenge a couple of years ago. Rosemary's Baby in college (a date drug me to the movie too). Read The Library at Mount Char because it was an Early Reviewer book I won, and I did not enjoy it. That leaves Coraline (Neal Gaiman!!), The House with a Clock in Its Walls (love Bellairs' books, but the scariest is The Face in the Frost, also my favorite), and have forever loved Something Wicked This Way Comes.
>115 ronincats: Thanks, Roni! You've given me some more titles to add to my TBR list — and one to avoid (the ER book). This is great.
Morning, Julia! I've read 12 from the list:
The Bloody Chamber
Coraline - the kids and I loved this one
Frankenstein in Baghdad - this is very good
The Girl With All the Gifts - this got the full five stars from me (the audio is full of fabulous)
I Am Legend
The Last Werewolf
The Road - LOVE this one
Something Wicked This Way Comes - I have read this one several times, Abby and I both love it
The Woman in Black - like you, I didn't find it very scary, but I liked the tension in it
World War Z
I have 6 from the list waiting patiently on the shelves for me to get to them, and now I have made a list of the ones that I don't have that sound appealing.
Oooo! Book list fun. I scrolled through, but didn't take any notes. I've read a few (or seen film versions), but many are unknown. Interestink. Thanks for the link.
>117 Crazymamie: Hi Mamie! We have a lot of horror reads in common. I will look for Frankenstein in Baghdad and The Girl With All the Gifts at the library. Thanks, I think. :-)
>118 weird_O: Howdy Bill! I'm glad you liked the list. I was surprised how many of the books were completely unknown to me. I guess I am not as plugged in as I thought.
Hi Julia, that is a great list of horror books. I have read 29 and have a further 10 or so on my shelves. I am looking forward to reading The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman as I thought his Those Across the River was well done. Of the ones that I have read, Come Closer by Sara Gran was a disturbing but good read. I've added a few of these to my wish list.
>120 DeltaQueen50: Hi Judy! I'm adding the Sara Gran book to be list, so thanks for that.
84. The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck.
Sometimes a man seems to reverse himself so that you would say, "He can't do that. It's out of character." Maybe it's not. It could be just another angle, or it might be that the pressures above or below have changed his shape.I saw a number of parallels between the last Steinbeck work I read, Travels with Charley and this, the last novel he ever wrote and the impetus for his being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1960. The primary element they share is a theme of disillusion with modern life and its ever-increasing emphasis on money and possessions as a way of measuring a person's worth.
Ethan Allen Hawley is the latest in a long line of New England bluebloods, whose ancestors served as privateers during the Revolutionary War and later made their fortune in whaling. The process of losing that fortune was begun by Ethan's father, an amiable man with no head for business, and finished by Ethan himself, who loses the family grocery store and is reduced to working as a clerk for the Italian immigrant who buys it from him. At the outset of the novel, Ethan himself seems more or less resigned to his circumstances, but pressure from his wife and the ever-present knowledge that the town pities his loss of status impels him to a reckless course of conduct to re-gain what has been lost.
After some introductory chapters told from a third-person point of view, most of the remainder of the novel is narrated by Ethan, so we get to witness from within his transformation from a an ordinarily honest man to someone both greater and less than that. I liked the man he was at the beginning, and I found his evolution (or devolution, depending on your point of view) compelling but ultimately unconvincing. I don't think Steinbeck provided enough motivation for such an abrupt change in a man's fundamental charcter, though he certainly tried:
I did not ever draw virtue down to hide what I was doing from myself. No one made me take the course I had chosen. Temporarily I traded a habit of conduct and attitude for comfort and dignity and a cushion of security. It would be too easy to agree that I did it for my family because I knew that in their comfort and security I would find my dignity. But my objective was limited and, once achieved, I could take back my habit of conduct. I knew I could. War did not make a killer of me, although for a time I killed men. ... The main thing was to know the objective for what it was, and, once it was achieved, to stop the process in its tracks. But that could only be if I knew what I was doing and did not fool myself.
Hi again, Julia. I spent a half-hour scrolling back through the horror (book) list. I've read only nine of the 100. The tenth, Interview with a Vampire, kinda put me to sleep; never finished it. But I came away with a list of 23 that I'd read, given the opportunity.
Here's what I have read. Quite pedestrian.
The Haunting of Hill House
The Turn of the Screw
The Silence of the Lambs
Something Wicked This Way Comes
>32 rosalita: Hi rosalita! Bummer. I'm sorry to hear that The Confessor did not resonate with as much as other. It is my favorite Allon. I love a good historical Vatican conspiracy every once in a while. I left the series for good as of Prince of Fire. It was not that I no longer enjoyed the series, but that the narrator on the audiobooks changed. John Lee was doing them early in the series and he was perfect. The narrator on PoF was different and I could not connect. I hope the series continues to work for you.
>123 weird_O: I wouldn't call those pedestrian, Bill, just classics of the genre. And I think it's funny that Interview with a Vampire put you to sleep; I'm sure you weren't the only one to have that reaction although I remember being quite engrossed in it. That was before we all had Tom Cruise imprinted on our brains as a (movie) vampire, of course. Not sure I could read it again now with that image in mind!
>124 brodiew2: Brodie, you snuck in there while I was replying to Bill! I really think The Confessor suffered from being read too quickly after the first two, because I found the subject matter very interesting and well-handled. I think Gabriel needs room to breathe in my brain. :-) What a shame that the series lost a perfect narrator but I can definitely understand how that could radically alter how you feel about a series. It would be almost as if the author had suddenly renamed the main character or something; the narrator is such an important piece of the literary picture for audiobooks.
>68 rosalita: Thanks for the link – I really liked the interview. I read the book as soon as Amazon delivered it on the 18th and loved it.
>109 rosalita: I’ve read 11 and have 8 more on my shelves. My favorite is probably The Stand, although The Road was stunning too.
The Exorcist – read
The Historian – read
I am Legend – read
Interview with the Vampire – read
The Passage – read
Rebecca – read
The Road – read
Rosemary’s Baby – read
The Silence of the Lambs – read
The Stand – read
World War Z – read
Dracula – on my shelves
Frankenstein – on my shelves
The Turn of the Screw – on my shelves
Her Fearful Symmetry – on my shelves
The Little Stranger – on my shelves
Night Film – on my shelves
N0S4A2 – on my shelves
The Woman in Black – on my shelves
>127 rosalita: I really like Gillian Flynn's books too.
85. In a Dark House by Deborah Crombie.
A re-read of the 10th book in this series finds Duncan and Gemma investigating a London warehouse fire where a woman's body is found in the ashes. Was it arson? Who is the dead woman? Was she murdered first or did she die in the fire? Lots of questions, and by the end of the book an equal number of answers. There's also minor progression on the personal front, though not much.
>131 BLBera: I haven't seen anything about a new Crombie coming out, which is why I have been reduced to re-reading the series in order!
>92 rosalita: Lee Child is coming to my city soon! I have never read him though, so I be like....ah well ;)
>132 rosalita: That is a tempting idea, Julia, but I think I'll use the time to catch up on some other series...
September in Review
In a Dark House (re-read)
The Affair (re-read)
The Light Years
The Home Place
The Daughter of Time
The Winter of Our Discontent
Field of Thirteen
Why Shoot a Butler?
Night of the Grizzlies
In a Dark House (Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James, 10/17)
The Affair (Jack Reacher, 16/23)
The Light Years (Cazalet Chronicles, 1/5)
The Confessor (Gabriel Allon, 3/18)
The Daughter of Time (Alan Grant, 5/6)
>107 rosalita: Did your writers fest post audio, Julia? I hope they did so that you could get a taste of what happened there. The Vancouver Writers Festival starts on October 15 and I will be attending many of the evening events - the daytime ones are clearly marked "for youth" this year except for the ones on Friday and the weekend but I can't attend most of those because the Writers fest is on at the same time as the Surrey International Writers' Conference, the timing irks me every year but they are both chose the same weekend due to the Pro D day, I understand.
>139 Familyhistorian: Not yet, Meg, but it only ended yesterday. I'm going to guess the organizers had a sleep-in this morning! I hope you get to all th events you want to attend at the Vancouver festival!
86. Wicked Uncle by Patricia Wentworth.
A man brings together a motley house party at his country estate, the members of which turn out to have just one thing in common: They all have reason to wish he was dead. When they get their collective wish, it's down to Miss Silver, along with her assistants, Chief Inspector Lamb and his Scotland Yard sidekick Frank Abbott, to get to the bottom of the deep well of suspects. Once again, the coincidental nature of how Miss Silver gets involved in the case strains credulity, but that's just how this series works so no need to dwell on it. (And it's nice to see Miss Silver branching out into pretty colored yarn for her incessant knitting now that World War II is over!) The book also features one of the most infuriatingly spoiled children in the annals of fiction, who deserved to be thrown out of a car on more than one occasion. Thankfully his role is even smaller than the arch-villain's heart, or there might have been two murders for Miss Silver & Co. to solve.
All Those Books You've Bought but Haven't Read? There's a Word for That — The word is tsundoku, just to get that out of the way. The articls goes beyond naming the phenomenon so well known to all of us to argue that accumulating unread books is actually a virtue. Not that I needed any justification for a habit I'm apparently unable/unwilling to break but if you do, here it is. (via The New York Times)
87. The League of Frightened Men by Rex Stout.
Paul Chapin was crippled during a college hazing incident, and the men who were responsible have had an uneasy relationship with him in the intervening decades, providing monetary support to him while also keeping him at arm's length. After one of them dies at a reunion gathering, all of the surviving members receive a copy of a poem claiming responsibility for the man's death and promising that the rest of the self-styled "League of Atonement" will suffer the same fate. All of the men believe that Chapin both killed their friend and wrote the poem, but they can't agree on what to do about it, even as more members turn up dead. Eventually they land on Wolfe's doorstep, who agrees to undertake to rid them of the menace, whatever its origins.
This is just the second book in Stout's stellar series (published in 1935) and as such lacks the smooth and assured tone and pacing of latter entries. Because Stout was still trying to establish Wolfe's and Archie's personalities, the dialogue seems stilted and overly mannered. In later books Stout often provided a refreshing counterpoint to the prejudices of the day, but here the characters make free with disparaging epithets for the disabled that, although absolutely of the time period, are jarring to a modern reader's sensibilities. In short, a well-plotted psychological thriller more than a mystery, but the flaws are glaring enough to make it far from a favorite.
>144 drneutron: Let he or she who is without sin cast the first stone ... in other words, no judging from me! :-)
>146 brodiew2: Hi there, Brodie! I knew that article would resonate around here. And thanks re the Stout review. Have you read any of that series? This wouldn't be the one I'd recommend for a beginner but if you're already familiar it's interesting to get a sense for how Wolfe and Archie developed into who they became.
I hope your reading year gets better! I've had those down years and they aren't very fun. I need my reading to distract me from real life, not the other way around. :-(
Hi Julia, I enjoyed the article about tsundoku. My ever expanding shelves make me happy whenever I walk into the room and see books overflowing their space, I think I get a feeling of security and contentment from having more books that I can ever read!
>148 DeltaQueen50: Judy, I think my subconscious has decided if I never run out of books to read I will never die!
Morning, Julia! I've nothing to add to the current topics here, but just wanted to say hello. Are the leaves starting to turn over there yet?
Hi, Amber. We've had far too much rain for the fall colors to really shine this year. Lots of flooding all over the state, unfortunately.
88. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.
Libby Day was just seven years old in 1985 when her 15-year-old brother went on a Satanic rampage and murdered her mother and two sisters. Nearly 25 years later, she's still suffering from the emotional upheaval. She's never held a job and has lived her entire life off the 1980s equivalent of a GoFundMe campaign. But now the money's run out and she's faced with the prospect of having to make her own way. In desperation she agrees to help a local "kill club" group of mass-murder aficionados who are convinced (though she is not) that her brother Ben is innocent. They will pay her to talk to people from her past to try to uncover the real killer.
I really liked the setup for the story. Libby isn't what you'd call a likable character but I felt like I understood how she came to be the way she is and to have sympathy for her even while disapproving of some of the choices she made. And Flynn is a skilled writer, handy with a phrase or an observation that advances the characters and story in positive ways. I didn't love the back-and-forth jumps between 1985 and 2009, or the changing points of view between Libby, Ben, and their mother because they were in such short segments that it made the whole narrative feel choppy, but they were clearly signposted.
Having said that, this ultimately fell flat for me, for a variety of reasons. The ultimate reveal was unbelievable and reeked of an author who couldn't make up her mind about how to end it. As I've noted in other books by Flynn (her debut, Sharp Objects and megaseller Gone Girl) she doesn't seem to know the meaning of the word subtle or where to stop. The family is not just poor, they are completely destitute. Their mother is not just struggling to cope with four children as a single parent; she's reduced to feeding them mustard sandwiches because they have no food and lets them watch TV at all hours of the day and night. One of the suspects Libby tracks down isn't just a drunk loser who is homeless after being kicked out of a group home for recovering alcoholics, he's living in the middle of a Superfund toxic waste dump. The murders weren't just committed with a knife but also a shotgun and an axe.
And speaking of that knife, shotgun and axe, the violence here is also extremely graphic. For me that was the least of this book's problems but sensitive readers or animal lovers may want to steer clear for that alone. It's all of a piece with what I wrote earlier — just too much and over the top. I wish Flynn trusted her readers enough to leave some things to their imaginations.
All this posting of Miss Silver mysteries prompted me to take one of those mysteries out of the library yesterday. I have dipped in to the series over the years but never started from the beginning and read my way through. I am starting with book 2 The Case is Closed because it is the first in the series at my library. They seem to start at book 2 for a lot of series. Maybe they want to see if it is popular before they buy in?
Good article about tsundoku and the writer has a larger library than I do, which always makes me feel better.
>154 Familyhistorian: Hi, Meg! I don't think you're losing anything by starting with Book 2 of the Miss Silver series. (Shoo, Susan and Liz; nothing to see here.) I'll look forward to seeing what you think about them. And you are also welcome to join Liz and I for the shared read if you get caught up. The more, the merrier!
I'm glad you liked the tsundoku article. It's nice to know there's a name for it, and we're not all crazy. Well, at least not for having a lot of unread books!
>142 rosalita: My sister was visiting last month and we stopped in at the Boulder Bookstore. She bought two books. And now I see on Goodreads that she’s read them both. Already. I haven’t yet read all the books I bought there when we met several years ago! (Or the books I bought there a few months ago....I could go on and on....)
>156 Copperskye: Oh, Joanne. I also have books I bought (or more accurately that you bought for me since the bookstore wasn't accessible) at our meet-up! I keep finding tote bags filled with books all over my apartment and thinking, "Oh, right! I remember buying those!" The struggle is real, my friend.
Hey Julia - You do know your audience! >142 rosalita:
"A person’s library is often a symbolic representation of his or her mind. A man who has quit expanding his personal library may have reached the point where he thinks he knows all he needs to and that what he doesn’t know can’t hurt him. He has no desire to keep growing intellectually. The man with an ever-expanding library understands the importance of remaining curious, open to new ideas and voices."
Maybe I could do without the masculine pronoun, but great justification for accumulation of more books.
>158 BLBera: Yes, that paragraph is the best justification for continuing to buy books when I have unread books waiting for me! It's a virtue, not a failing.
89. Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie.
In which Hercule Poirot goes on holiday to Egypt and ends up on a Nile cruise with an immensely wealthy young woman, her newlywed husband, the husband's jilted lover who was also the wealthy lady's best friend, and an assortment of other characters with varying levels of interest in or connection to the central triangle. Someone gets killed, someone gets accused, someone else gets killed, someone else gets accused ... you know the drill. I think I must have read this one long ago in my high school Christie phase, because I was sure I knew who the murderer was even though I couldn't figure out how or why. It's a good one, made better by the absence of that dotard Hastings.
90. Depth of Winter by Craig Johnson.
I love this series, featuring Wyoming sheriff Walt Longmire and his ragtag company of deputies, friends, and acquaintances. I did not love this entry in the series. Walt goes on a solo rescue mission to Mexico, straight into a faceoff with brutal drug dealer Tomas Bidarte, who has already claimed several members of Walt's extended family in previous books.
What's not to love?
>162 rosalita: I enjoyed that one as well back in the day. I'm reading a Charlie Chan at the moment, The House without A Key. It is off to a good start.
>163 rosalita: I'm sorry this latest Longmire didn't work for you. I have read one of the books bur I loved the tv series. I have to say that your reasons listed are enough to make it questonable.
>164 brodiew2: Hi Brodie! You know, I've never read any Charlie Chan stories. Not sure how I missed those in my wayward mystery-loving youth. I'll look forward to your thoughts on The House Without a Key.
I was so looking forward to the new Longmire that my disappointment probably made my review harsher than it would have been if I had just read it as a regular action thriller. Like you, I did really enjoy the TV series, though it ended up being so different from the books in terms of plots and even characters that it was pretty easy to keep them separate in my brain.
>163 rosalita: That happened to me with C J Box’s Joe Pickett series. The last one I read, which, I think, was Force of Nature, was ridiculously over the top with unrealistic action (imho). I love the game warden as law enforcer concept and I may go back to the series but I’m not in any hurry. It’s been a while since I’ve read a Longmire. I was listening to them but I’m not doing much audio wise anymore. I like Craig Johnson and the tv series is fun.
>166 Copperskye: Hi Joanne! I read the first of those Joe Pickett mysteries and liked them, but then I had trouble getting any more from the library. It sounds like the one you read had the same effect on you that this Longmire did on me. It's so disappointing when an author suddenly has familiar characters acting in unbelievable ways or in unbelievable situations.
Two very different books going right now. The first, He Who Hesitates, is the 19th book in Ed McBain's classic 87th Precinct police procedural series. And the other is nonfiction, Swordfish: A biography of the ocean gladiator. Gee, I hope I can keep the two narratives straight. :-)
>163 rosalita: I've only read the first two Longmires. I've seen the series and loved it, and you're right - they're different enough that I can keep the two separate in my mind mostly - I do visualize the book characters as the TV characters, fortunately or unfortunately.
>169 karenmarie: Hi Karen! Is there any particular reason you haven't read more of the Longmire books? Believe me, I know that failing to continue with a series isn't always about the quality of the books, so no judging here! Just curious. There are so many good series to try to keep up with that even with the best of intentions some end up falling by the wayside for me.
Good points re Depth of Winter. I guess I went in with lower expectations. I actually enjoyed the Mexico environment for the story; I was surprised by how real he made it. But it did have the deficiencies you mention, particularly the violence and how
>171 jnwelch: Hi, Joe. Thanks for sharing your reaction to Depth of Winter. I agree that the descriptions of the Mexico countryside were evocative. I've never been to Mexico or even to a true desert environment but it felt very realistic. He has a knack for describing the natural surroundings whether it's Wyoming or Mexico.
There was a Q&A with Craig Johnson at the end of the ebook and he mentioned that he feels he needs to alternate "home and away" settings in the books because it's not believable for murders to be committed in sparsely populated Absaroka County every couple of months. But I say it's equally or more unrealistic for a seasoned, respected lawman like Walt to continually go haring off on solo suicide missions with no backup. That's got to be against every best practice of good law enforcement technique. So he and I wrestled to a draw on the "unrealistic" question, I guess. :-)
The other thing I hate, and this is definitely not specific to Longmire, is the plot device of the ultra baddie who keeps getting cornered at the end of one book only to miraculously escape (or seem to be killed but with no proof like a dead body) and return in the next, and the next, and the next. It's tiresome and I find it to be lazy writing. I stopped reading James Patterson's Alex Cross series after the third or fourth book because he had the same tired trope playing out in every book.
Come to think of it, I wonder if the Longmire suffered from being read by me so close on the heels of one of Agatha Christie's masterpieces, Death on the Nile. That Dame could sure plot a mystery!
>142 rosalita: A person’s library is often a symbolic representation of his or her mind.
I love this. I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have a good memory, imagine if I could remember everything I had read!!? I would be an amazing quiz team member :)
>163 rosalita: I don't want to see anything
Hi Julia! I like the look of Swordfish but I can't see it in the library catalogue. They do have some other interesting-looking swordfish-related books, though. And some stuff that bears no apparent relation to the search term. Ah well :-) The Kindle version is £10.50, so maybe that's one I'll look for at BetterWorld books. Ooh. $7.48 and free shipping! I'll wait for your comments.
I'm a big Joe Pickett fan :-) I think I read the first Longmire but didn't really get whodunnit, or maybe why. Perhaps I should revisit it, because I do love a series.
>173 LovingLit: I think you'd go mad, Megan, if you never forgot anything! All that knowledge roiling around in your brain, leaving no room to think. That's my story, anyway, and I'm sticking to it. :-)
>174 susanj67: Susan, the swordfish book was published by the University of Chicago Press. It was one of their monthly free ebook offers a while ago. I'd like to read more Joe Pickett books someday.
>168 rosalita: Ha! Hope the swordfish/ police procedural mashup isn't proving too confusing...
>176 charl08: So far, so good, Charlotte! I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around just how big swordfish are. Early on the author refers to their eyes as being the size of a salad plate — yikes!
>177 rosalita: I think of a salad plate as at least 8" across, but my china maker seems to define it at 5.5" which is what I'd call a desert plate, but big for a fish eye in any case.
>178 quondame: This is a quote from a man who went swordfishing and actually came face-to-face with one.
"The beautiful fish was of moderate size, less than two hundred pounds, a swift and graceful distillation of blue-silver sea (larger fish are darker and look brown). Its round eye, a few inches below the shining surface, appeared huge. I was still staring when the night-blue fish shivered and shot away, leaving only the deep sun rays in the sea." The striker who was with Matthiessen tells him, "I put you right on that fish, but you never struck him, and you know why? You seen the eye. My old man taught me never to look at the eye, just at the dorsal fin. ... Nobody believes how big that eye is, and by the time they get over the surprise, the bow is past him and that fish is gone."
>175 rosalita: Julia, in that case I must check my laptop at home, as I might have it! I have downloaded quite a few of their freebies.
>179 rosalita: Wow! Well sounds like good advice if you want that swordfish!
Indeed! I was so busy transcribing that quote that I forgot to also say that my estimation of the size of a salad plate was close to yours -- 7 or 8 inches. But even 5.5 inches is pretty huge!
It's Homecoming Week at the University of Iowa, and one of the traditions is a display in front of the Old Capitol building in the center of campus that's made of corn (because Iowa, you know). It's different every year, and this is the 2018 version:
It's kind of hard to tell in the photo but each letter and the goalposts are made of corn kernels. Here's a slightly better closeup:
In a break with tradition, it is neither raining nor below freezing for tonight's parade. Of course, I fully intend to flee campus before the
Way cool photos, Julia!
Iowa's big in my family - my mom and dad met at Iowa - Mom's from Cedar Rapids and Dad's from Omaha but he went there on the GI bill after WWII. Also, my maternal great-aunt Velma was married to Dr. Robert Hardin and both my maternal uncle and grandfather graduated from Iowa.
>185 karenmarie: You're an honorary Iowan in my book, Karen! Those are some deep Iowa roots you've got there. Do you still have family living here?
Happy Homecoming, Julia. I love the photos.
I'm sticking with the Longmire TV series...
Enjoy your Homecoming Weekend, Julia. I've fallen behind with my Walt Longmires' but I will eventually catch up!
Iowa and the University came up a lot in the short stories in How to Love a Jamaican - it seemed to have made a big impression on the author. ETA ... that I've just read. Not entirely random comment, honest!?
>190 charl08: Thanks for that tidbit, Charlotte — I hope we came off okay. I'm sure it was a bit of a culture shock for someone from Jamaica and New York City.
I only read the first one, Julia. Then I decided to just watch the series instead. Too many books and all that.
Happy Sunday, Julia.
>186 rosalita: Thank you! We have deep roots there. My mother's maternal family came in the 1860s, her paternal family by 1873 at the latest. My 80-year-old uncle, recently widowed, still lives in Cedar Rapids. His kids/grandkids are scattered all over the US. Mom's first cousin and one son/family still farm in Fairfax on the century farm. George is the fourth generation farming there. One son/family live in a second house on the farm, the other son lives in Cedar Rapids but is a partner in the farm and does the books. I was in Iowa as recently as 2010 with my family visiting my aunt/uncle in CR and all the folks on the farm.
>194 karenmarie: Thanks for sharing your family's Iowa history, Karen. It sounds like you are due for another visit!
>196 rosalita: So cute! My library has something similar but there’s only one drop off box so it doesn’t have the same cuteness factor.
I'm glad you all like the library photo, Lori, Beth and Joanne. I know we're all biased toward what we know, but it really is an awesome library.
91. He Who Hesitates by Ed McBain.
One of the things that set Ed McBain apart from your average writer of police procedurals is his almost poetic descriptions of people, places, and things in the fictional world of the 87th Precinct, which I've quoted in previous reviews of the series. Another is his unusual approach to what are usually standard tropes of the genre. Rather than have a single cop as his protagonist in every book, he rotates the focus amongst the whole squad of detectives. Sometimes it's Steve Carella, sometimes Bert Kling or Cotton Hawes or Meyer Meyer, or some combination. It keeps the storytelling fresh by giving us different perspectives with each story.
And this book, He Who Hesitates, is another example of McBain's unorthodox approach. We spend no time with the detectives in this novel; our only glimpses of them are from the viewpoint of the main character who has a smattering of interactions with them. Rather, the story is slowly exposed from inside the mind of Roger Broome, a young man from upstate New York who has come to the city to sell some of his family's woodworking. When we meet Roger, he's loitering outside the 87th Precinct, trying to work up his courage to go in and report ... something. As the chapters unfold, we get the full story in flashbacks, with periodic returns to the present as Roger continues his will-he-won't-he dance with the police.
It's a fascinating approach to an old story and one that kept my attention clear through to the end, just to see what would happen. It's a very short book, even by the standards of the time and series, but the aftereffects may linger with the reader far beyond the turning of the last page.
92. Lethal White by Robert Galbraith.
One-legged investigator Cormoran Strike returns in the fourth entry of a series ghost-written by J.K. Rowling. Strike and his resourceful partner Robin Ellacott (now married to her insufferable fiancé Matthew) are hired to protect a government minister from extortion by finding something incriminating to hold over the people who initiated the schemes — blackmailing the blackmailers, essentially. And there's a possibly related case involving a schizophrenic young man who is off his meds and babbling to Strike about having witnessed the murder of a small child years ago.
If all that wasn't enough to be going on with, Robin is coping with symptoms of PTSD following the traumatic events at the conclusion of the last book, Career of Evil, without letting anyone know she's having anxiety attacks. Despite that, she manages to juggle two completely different undercover assignments to help gather evidence — as the government minister's posh goddaughter and as a working-class member of the socialist resistance. Apparently colored contacts are more powerful than I thought.
I enjoy the interactions between Strike and Robin, both on and off the case. I always feel like the plots have one or two more twists and complications than they need, strictly speaking, and the result here is an absolute doorstopper of a book. Having said that, I still raced through it in pretty short order because whatever her other faults Rowling sure knows how to keep a storyline humming merrily along. It will be interesting to see what she comes up with next.
>163 rosalita: Thanks for the heads up about the new Longmire book, Julia. I may skip it as I have fond memories of the first 14 (?) books and would miss Montana, Henry, and Ruby. I could do without Vic, though. Haha.
>184 rosalita: Wow, that's a lot of corn kernels. Who has that kind of time???
I'm kind of glad that I haven't started the Cormoran Strike series. Now I have four I can read fairly close to each other. I have the first two on my TBR pile and will probably get to the series early next year. It seems to be a popular series around the LT threads.
>205 Donna828: Hi Donna! You may not feel the same way about the latest Longmire, so don't avoid it just on my review. And I think you will enjoy the Cormoran Strike series — smart move to save them up instead of having to wait for each one!
>196 rosalita: Great book returns! Do they decorate them for Xmas as well?
I haven't started the second book in the Miss Silver series yet because the library holds are coming in thick and fast with other people wanting to read them. Since I was able to renew the Miss Silver book it slipped to the bottom of the pile. I want to thank you for letting me know about Robert Goldsborough. I just read the first in the series, Murder in E Minor, which had me turning the pages like a Rex Stout story although references to Mia Farrow and Richard Nixon were a bit off putting.
>207 ChelleBearss: They strip the kernels from the cobs, Chelle, and I think they are then glued or otherwise fastened to the structures. I found an article from the local paper that says it took 300 pounds of corn kernels to create this year's sculpture, Here's a link to the story, which has a photo gallery of past years' sculptures: https://www.press-citizen.com/story/news/education/university-of-iowa/2018/10/16/three-hundred-kernels-later-ui-corn-monument-erected/1657759002/
>208 Familyhistorian: That's a good question, Meg! I don't remember decorations at other times of the year but I'll have to keep my eyes open and report back. I'm glad you're enjoying the Goldsborough books. They aren't as good as Stout, but it is fun to experience Archie and Wolfe updated to contemporary times. He also wrote one, Archie Meets Nero Wolfe that tells the "origin" story, using some throwaway lines from some of Stout's originals books.
>209 weird_O: Hi Bill! I like the 87th Precinct books, and this one was such a unique twist, being told entirely from outside the viewpoint of the detectives. I thought it was a really fresh and clever concept from McBain. I hope you can find a copy — I wish I had one to send you but I got it from the library.
>211 souloftherose: Thanks for the 👍🏼, Heather. I'm sure you'll get to the Strike books someday, and I predict you will enjoy them. I know how it is; SO many books, so little time!
>196 rosalita: I also love the book returns. Here is ours in Georgia. It's been a crazy week, as the library I work at is an early voting location. I'm glad to see the huge turnout!
>213 markon: You've piqued my interest, Ardene, but I can't see your image. :-(
Edited to add: Oops, never mind! Now I can see it. That is out of this world! (Ha!)
Great to hear about the heavy voter turnout, too!
93. Over My Dead Body by Rex Stout.
It's an ordinary day at the brownstone when a young woman shows up, needing help from Nero Wolfe. She, like he, is from Montenegro and has recently emigrated to New York City, where she and her friend have gotten work at a fencing/dance studio (I remember the very idea that such a place existed boggling the mind of teenaged me). Now her friend's been accused of stealing some diamonds from a client's coat pocket, and they want Nero to bail her out. When he refuses, she plays her trump card: She is his adopted daughter, last seen by him in Montenegro when she was three years old.
Nero, of course, can't be bothered to stir himself from his gourmet meals or his orchids, but he sends sidekick Archie Goodwin to investigate. Along the way, the case is complicated by a murder and enough international intrigue to choke a fencing studio full of spies, which is pretty much what Archie and Nero are dealing with.
This is the seventh in the series, first published in 1940, and it suffers from the same affliction that the other early entries do: The characters haven't quite gelled and Stout seems not have decided whether he's writing gritty noir or lighthearted caper. That, combined with an excess of complicated political history that is only cursorily explained, presumably because people of the time were well acquainted with it, make this one of my least favorite entries. It's not terrible but it doesn't reach the sublime heights of Stout at its best.
94. Trunk Music by Michael Connelly.
LAPD detective Harry Bosch is back on active duty and his first case is a doozy: A dead guy found shot to death in the trunk of his Rolls Royce. The investigation takes him from LA to Las Vegas and back again, on the trail of of movie moguls, mobsters, and money laundering. The case is complicated when he meets up with someone from his past who may or may not be connected to the case. A good entry in the series, although I'm getting a bit weary of Harry's constant run-ins with Internal Affairs and his bosses. It's starting to seem like a crutch for Connelly, an easy way to gin up some conflict apart from the case itself, which is nice and twisty and satisfyingly solved.
The swordfish have taken a metaphorical backseat while I try to clear my sudden influx of library holds. Rebecca Traister's Good and Mad: How women's anger is reshaping America is more than holding my attention, however.
What becomes clear, when we look to the past with an eye to the future, is that the discouragement of women's anger—via silencing, erasure, and repression—stems from the correct understanding of those in power that in the fury of women lies the power to change the world.
>217 rosalita: Julia, I would love to see the woman's vote make some badly needed changes next week.
>218 DeltaQueen50: Fingers crossed, Judy!
>219 Familyhistorian: That's great to hear, Meg. I hope you like it as much as I did. For building an entire book out of a couple of throwaway lines in the original series, I thought Goldsborough crafted a very plausible and interesting scenario. I'll look forward to seeing if you agree with me.
Good and Mad sounds good, like something that would resonate with me.
Have a great weekend.
Scout needs help. Got to go. :)
>217 rosalita: Ooof, that sounds like a good one - I can't wait to see what you think of it when you're finished.
>224 scaifea: I'm plugging away at it, Amber, despite having the monster of all chest colds. So tired of coughing up interesting colors. I miss being able to breathe. :-(
>217 rosalita: This reminds me if an essay I read many years ago called The power of anger in the work of love. Book is on Mt. tbr.
>225 rosalita: Oh, dang! I hope you're already feeling at least a bit better this morning.
As I mentioned up there ^ I'm fighting a rotten chest cold. I alternated between coughing and sleeping all weekend, which is boring. One of the few other things I did (because reading seemed a bit beyond my brain capacity) was to watch the two-part PBS Frontline episode on "The Facebook Dilemma."
There was a lot of stuff about fake news in connection the 2016 U.S. election and failure to protect privacy/data that I already knew, but what I didn't know was the way that Facebook has been used all over the world to destabilize civil societies and stoke violence. In particular, the details of Facebook's role in the genocide in Myanmar was really disturbing. Even more horrifying is that the company — which was warned repeatedly about what was happening several years before the violence peaked — seems to have had no interest in trying to stop it, and no concrete plans moving forward to try to prevent it from happening again. I'm not here to tell anyone they should or should not use Facebook, but I'm even more glad that I deleted my account last year.
I streamed the two episodes online at the PBS Frontline page, but I don't know how long they will be available for streaming (they aired in late October) or if they are viewable outside the U.S., but if you have access to them I highly recommend checking them out.
Julia, sorry you've got the lurgy. I hope you were able to go home if you needed to.
The Facebook documentary looks interesting. We have a PBS America channel here but it doesn't seem to have new things. Still, someone else might pick it up.
Sorry to hear you're in the wars! I'm just coming off my second bad cold in the last couple of months---this one the stuffed up / runny nose toggle. Ugh!
I haven't seen that particular source but I did see the John Oliver piece on the Myanmar situation. I'm not on Facebook so most of this has passed me by. It's incredible that anyone could be that recklessly indifferent.
I hope you feel better as well, rosalita! chest cold are the worst.
If you're looking for a new thriller, I just picked up Pulse: A novel by Michael Harvey. I read 75 pages without blinking (which is a lot for me). It's off to a great start. His last novel, Brighton, was one of my favorites of last year.
>230 susanj67: Thanks, Susan. I did come home early today and got some sleep this afternoon between coughing fits. I think it's neat that you all have a PBS America channel the way we have BBC America. Perhaps the Facebook doc will show up once it's aged a bit.
>231 lyzard: The indifference of Facebook to anything except constant growth of users is awful, Liz. They are completely unwilling to do anything that might slow that growth. It's unconscionable.
>232 BLBera: Thanks, Beth. Maybe someday ...
>233 brodiew2: That's a completely new-to-me author, Brodie, so thanks for the recommendation. I'll have a look at the library to see if they've got him on the shelf.
>229 rosalita: I'll have to try and watch the Facebook Dilemma--thanks for pointing it out.
Feel better, you!
Sorry to hear about your chest cold, Julia - adding my get well soon wishes.
More get well messages from me too. I've been bugged enough by my (much less serious sounding) cold/ cough thing and totally woth you on the boring thing. Just want to be well already!
More get well messages from me too. I've been bugged enough by my (much less serious sounding) cold/ cough thing and totally with you on the boring thing. Just want to be well already!
This one's very apropos this week. In reaction to the 1848 Seneca Falls convention on suffrage and its published Declaration of Sentiments,
"one unsigned article in the Daily Oneida Whig of Utica, New York, wondered, 'Was there ever such a dreadful revolt? This bolt is the most shocking and unnatural incident ever recorded in the history of womanity. If our ladies will insist on voting and legislating, where, gentlemen, will be our dinners?' "
>242 rosalita: That sounds about right. Great quote, Julia. I'm glad you're feeling better.
96. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang.
I'm not generally a reader of contemporary romances, but I saw this one reviewed here on LT and thought the premise — beautiful, brilliant woman with Asperger's hires a male escort to teach her the necessary social skills to land a boyfriend — was more interesting than the usual cowboy/hellcat plot line. And it was, with the added bonus of learning about the Vietnamese family and heritage of Michael, the male escort. Along the way there's a fair bit of smut, so if that's not your thing you'll want to steer clear. For me it was the perfect kind of undemanding fare that was just what my illness-addled brain needed.
97. Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger by Rebecca Traister.
Wow, this was exactly what I needed to read right now. Using the political nightmare we're all living through right now as her launching point, Traister traces all the ways that women's righteous anger at their status has been systematically diminished, derided and degraded by those who are unwilling to share power — yep, I'm afraid white men don't fare well here. It was striking to me how Traister clearly takes no pleasure in pointing out the ways that even men who believe they are allies undermine the work women are doing, which makes the indictment all the more powerful.
The examples and situations of women's anger being dismissed or turned against them, both historical and contemporary, are as infuriating as they are endless, but she also recounts times when women have persisted and used their anger to effect real social change. It's powerful stuff. I appreciated how Traister didn't shy away from discussing the ways that the righteous anger of women has been undermined by other women, and the frustration and resentment felt by women of color, who have often been vocally agitating on particular issues long before they are "discovered" by white women. There were a number of times that I felt uncomfortable and had to examine some of my own assumptions and behaviors, recognizing that despite my best efforts I have sometimes been complicit in such "whitewashing" and erasure of the important work done by black women.
This book is "hot off the presses," so to speak, covering events that happened as recently as this past spring and summer. Even so, as I was reading it in the run-up to and immediate aftermath of the recent election, I wished I could have read what Traister thought about the historic numbers of women who were elected to both federal, state and local offices this week, and the racial and cultural diversity that they represent.
The book closes with Traister cautioning that while the fury women felt following the 2016 election has compelled many of them to become politically active for the first time, that level of commitment and action will need to be sustained for a long time if the goal of a better society is to be met. It's a marathon, not a sprint, but there may be no one better to run it than all the "moms in tennis shoes" who are learning how not to use their indoor voices.
>246 rosalita: This sounds awesome, Julia. Off to order it because I think this is one I want to own.
Do you have class tomorrow? I have the day off.
>247 BLBera: It's definitely worth owning, Beth!
And one final quote, if I may, from Good and Mad:
"This is one of anger's most important roles: It is a mode of connection, a way for women to find each other and realize that their struggles and their frustrations are shared, that they are not alone, not crazy. If they are quiet, they will remain isolated. But if they howl in rage, someone else who shares their fury might hear them, might start howling along. This is, of course, partly why those who oppress women work to stifle their anger."
>247 BLBera: And I forgot to answer your question, Beth — our university does have classes tomorrow. Students (though not staff, doggone it) get the full Thanksgiving week off, though. So perhaps a compromise there although I don’t know that for sure.
>246 rosalita: Ooof, that sounds amazing.
Have you any snow yet over there? I know that Platteville has already had their first significant snowfall and I'm missing it here in Ohio (just cold and rainy here so far).
>250 scaifea: Good morning, Amber! We had a dusting of snow last week, but it only accumulated on grassy areas and is mostly gone, now. I would happily send you all the snow we get if I could!
>251 rosalita: Ha! Well, I'd say I'll take it, but I'm not sure folks around here know how to handle WI/IA-levels of snow. Cleveland? Yes, but Columbus - nope.
Morning, Julia! I'm glad you're finally feeling better. And what a great review of Good and Mad - thumb from me. Firmly onto The List it goes, and I have already joined the hold queue for that one.
>255 Crazymamie: Thanks for the appendage, Mamie. It's such a good book, I wish everyone I know would read it. It's by turns infuriating, heartbreaking, and hopeful.
Sorry to hear you've been sick and hope that you're doing much better this week.
>245 rosalita: Added to my wishlist - sometimes a romance is just the thing, and it sounds like this one is a little more intelligent than some contemporaries. I've also added another by her, The Bride Test, to my wish list.
>257 karenmarie: Hi, Karen. That's pretty much what I thought about The Kiss Quotient. I'll have to check out that other book by her, as I did like her writing. (I see that LT seems to think it's a sequel to The Kiss Quotient but there isn't any plot summary to indicate whether it's the same characters or not.) Thanks for the tip!
AhChoo! Just as you are getting better, I am coming down with the crud. I don’t have time for this nonsense...but then, who does? I’m glad you’re feeling better.
I came over here to remind you that the Joplin meetup is two weeks from today! I know it’s a long drive for you, but I do hope you can come. Same place...Changing Hands...on Tuesday, Nov. 27. 📚
Hi, Donna! I'm sorry you're feeling poorly. It's been a rotten season for illness around here. Thanks for the update on Joplin — I was just thinking about that the other day and wondering if it was happening since I haven't seen anyone talking about it. I know Stasia has been having some health issues of her own, so wasn't sure if she would be able to make it to Joplin. Do you know?
October in Review
He Who Hesitates
Death on the Nile
Over My Dead Body
Depth of Winter
The League of Frightened Men
Wicked Uncle (Miss Silver, 12/32)
The League of Frightened Men (Nero Wolfe, 2/47)
Death on the Nile (Hercule Poirot, 17/42)
Depth of Winter (Walt Longmire, 15/15)
He Who Hesitates (87th Precinct, 19/55)
Lethal White (Cormoran Strike, 4/4)
Over My Dead Body (Nero Wolfe, 7/47)
Trunk Music (Harry Bosch, 5/23)
>260 rosalita: Sadly, Stasia won't be able to make it this year. Terri and the other regulars plan to come, though, so we will make the best of things. It will be even better if you join us!
>262 Donna828: I hope I can make it — it's not been a great autumn, health-wise, but I would miss seeing you all.
98. Transcription by Kate Atkinson.
Juliet is just 17 years old when World War II roars to life in 1940. She's recruited into MI-5 but it's not as exciting as it sounds; she's a transcriptionist, typing up dictated letters and conversations. Things get marginally more interesting when she's assigned to work out of a London flat, which happens to be located right next door to a meeting place for a group of Hitler-sympathizing British fascists. What the fascists don't know is that their flat is bugged, and their leader is an undercover British agent, seeking not so much to expose them as to contain them. It's Juliet's job to listen to the primitive recordings and transcribe them for the spy kings.
Most of the story is set during the war, but that action is bookended by two segments set in 1950, when Juliet has left MI-5 and is working for the BBC. Figures from her past begin appearing randomly — or do they? Is she paranoid, or is someone really out to get her?
I always enjoy Atkinson's writing but this one fell a little flat for me. It just seemed rather slight with a lack of action surprising in a novel about wartime espionage. Perhaps that was the point, that the mundane infects everyone and everything in ways people outside the situation cannot understand. That, and the banality of evil, maybe, as the British fascists are a motley, rather pathetic crew. Ultimately, the ending felt rushed and my general mood when I closed the book was disgruntled rather than satisfied. Better luck next time.
>265 klobrien2: I hope your library hold comes through faster than you expect, Karen. I think you'll really like it.
>267 Copperskye: I think you might be on to something there, Joanne. I might have awarded another half-star for an author whose work I did not already love.
The LT reviews are widely varied for The Library of Unrequited Love.
I totally enjoyed the part that many complained about: the never-ending paragraph!
Also fun was the Dewey Decimal system, listening for steps in the basement, general library knowledge,
the change of people with the seasons, and the librarian's oddly contradictory tones and opinions.
Less impressive was her hopeless attitude toward her own life and future.
>273 katiekrug: I'm glad it was just a library book and not something I spent money on at least, Katie.
This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.