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What Are We Reading and Reviewing in October?

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

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Edited: Yesterday, 8:08am Top

Carol's Treats for October
✔ 10//18 -★

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce - 10/2/18 - 5★
Medusa Amulet by Robert Masello - 10/18/18 - 3.5★
Walking By Night by Kate Ellis - 10//18 -★
The Judas Strain by James Rollins - 10/9/18 - 3.5★
From The Corner of His Eye by Dean Koontz - 10/12/18 - 3.5★
The Deep Dark Descending by Allen Eskens - 10/9/18 - 3.5★
The Wanted by Robert Crais - 10/1/18 - 4.5★
The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy - 10/3/18 -2.5★
Police by Jo Nesbo - 10/1/18 - 3★
Consent To Kill by Vince Flynn- 10/17/18 - 4.5★
Eggs by Jerry Spinelli - 10/4/18 - 3.5★
The Sleeping Beauty Killer by Mary Higgings Clark & Alafair Burke - 10/8/18 -4★
River Road by Jyne Ann Krentz - 10//18 -★
Stone Cold by C.J. Box - 10/10/18 - 3★
The Girl Who Lived by Christopher Greyson - 10/5/18 -5★
The Owl Service by Alan Garner - 10/10/18 - 4★
The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore - 10/8/18 - 3★
Echoes of Evil by Heather Graham - 10/1/18 -5★
Holy Ghost by John Sandford - 10/20/18 - 4.5★
Quiet Neighbors by Catriona McPherson - 10//18 -★

Sep 24, 3:31pm Top

>1 Carol420: The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry ❤️❤️❤️❤️ What a delight you have ahead of you.

Sep 24, 6:03pm Top

>2 Andrew-theQM: My Mom read it when it first came out and loved it. I don't know why I didnn't read it then.

Sep 24, 6:28pm Top

>3 Carol420: I was blown away by this book, so sweet but quite deep too. A great memory for you to have.

Sep 25, 11:25am Top

>2 Andrew-theQM: Harold got a ❤️ from me too.
I hope you enjoy it, Carol.

Sep 25, 11:59am Top

>2 Andrew-theQM: >5 Sergeirocks: With such good people recommending it how could I possubly go wrong?

Edited: Oct 7, 10:14am Top

Dusty's TBR for October
SF/F reads
Michael Chabon - Yiddish Policeman's Union
James Gunn - Transgalactic
Kim Harrison - Ever After
N K Jemisin -The Stone Sky
Elizabeth Moon - Cold Welcome
Jack Vance - Vandals of the Void
Vernor Vinge - A Deepness in the Sky

from other genres
John Dickson Carr - Four False Weapons
Anne Fine - The Devil Walks
Iris Johansen - Sight Unseen
Laurie R King - Justice Hall
Sjowall & Wahloo - The Locked Room
Rex Stout - Too Many Cooks

Sep 29, 1:22pm Top

I'm new here. I've been a member of LT for over 10 years but only recently worked out that there were discussions and stuff going on. I don't want to set challenges or objectives because I'm lazy and also because a lot of my reading gets done on trains and aeroplanes. But I thought I'd pop in some comments about what I'm reading.

First up for October is a book I've had for many years but never managed to get into before--The Happiness Purpose by Edward De Bono. Not a common book on LT--only 78 copies, I think. Of course De Bono was the inventor of the catch-phrase "lateral thinking" and had a considerable vogue 40 or so years ago but his star seems to have faded. The Happiness Purpose is the only one of his books I have and the only one I'm interested in. I've had it for a long time, probably almost since it was first published 40 years ago.

According to the cover, this is De Bono's attempt at defining a religion. I like the idea of a religion based on happiness, and on respect rather than love, and I also like the idea of "proto-truth"--that is, a truth that will be held as true until we find a better one and in the meantime is usable. He mentions Karl Popper in passing, although from what I can remember of Popper, proto-truth is all there except the catchy name.

Anyway we'll see how I go this time. More comments on De Bono to follow, with luck.

Edited: Sep 29, 2:44pm Top

>8 haydninvienna: Hi and welcome. Most of us here are Shelfari refugees. After two years here and a few set backs we learned how LibraryThing works and more importantly...what doesn't work:) Please feel free to join in any of the discussions. We are always interested in another point of view. Best of all no one here is judgemental. We're a mixture of people from the U.K., The USA, & Canada...a lot of us are retired and some of us just wish they were retired:) From what you have said about De Bono he sounds like he had some interesting theories. I think happiness and respect would work for me.

Sep 29, 6:01pm Top

>8 haydninvienna: Welcome! Feel free to join in, or not, as the mood takes you...

Sep 29, 6:36pm Top

Sep 30, 4:06am Top

Thanks all. I'm Australian but I don't live there. I'm also well over the ordinary retiring age but am not retired and don't want to be. Had never heard of Shelfari before but I've checked all-knowing Wikipedia and that doesn't seem like a great loss. I have a membership on Goodreads but don't use it--its being owned by Amazon is a big turn-off. The reviews are interesting sometimes though.

Having read a bit more of De Bono last night, I think I can see some reasons why I've never finished the book before. To start with, the physical form--the book is a Pelican paperback from 1979 and although it's holding up reasonably well, the margins are narrow and the type small. In particular, the lines run well down into the "gutter" and consequently the beginning of a line on the recto and the end on the verso are sometimes hard to see.

Second, the style is a bit peculiar. My take at one point was that he writes like a management consultant (which he is, or has been). That's not quite fair, really--he writes much more clearly than some consultants, but the style is staccato and lacks flow and rhythm. Very unlike the massaged style of modern self-help books! There is no index, no list of suggested further reading, and no credit given (so far) to earlier writers although at least some of the ideas are familiar from elsewhere. Apart from Popper, I remember finding some very similar ideas about humour in Arthur Koestler's work (The Act of Creation, I think, although it's a long time since I read it). NB just in case: I'm not particularly a fan of Koestler. He may or may not have been a serial rapist and possibly a murderer. Also, I remember a very thorough demolition of one of his books by Peter Medawar, possibly The Case of the Midwife Toad.

Having said all that, I'll still finish it. It does have some worthwhile ideas, but would have been better shorter.

Edited: Sep 30, 8:02am Top

>12 haydninvienna: You must be a very determined person to actually finish this book. I would have given up after encountering the small print. The Case of The Midwife Toad...the title is intrguing even if it's a bit strange.

Sep 30, 8:47am Top

>13 Carol420: The Case of the Midwife Toad is possibly not as strange as you think. It's about an Austrian biologist named Paul Kammerer, who created great scientific controversy in the 1920s by experiments that allegedly showed that acquired characteristics could be passed on to offspring (more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Kammerer). The experiments were done on toads of a species known as the midwife toad. Koestler was an advocate of a number of theories of fringe science. I'm not sure if that was the book that Medawar reviewed so adversely, and can't check since my copy of the book that the review is probably in is several thousand miles away, but given that Medawar was a biologist it seems plausible.

Edited: Sep 30, 9:00am Top

>14 haydninvienna: A reasonble explanation and indeed plausible. Thank you for the information. The Wikipedia article was also interesting. I don't know if it matters to you or not but Goodreads is also owned by Amazon. In 2016 they deceided for some unknown, undisclosed reason that they only wanted one book site and closed down Shelfari. Shelfari was much easier to use than Goodreads but it is what it is and we live with it.

Sep 30, 9:24am Top

>12 haydninvienna: As well as posting book reviews, some of us have set up our own book log threads where we keep track of our reading; you might consider doing that for your own reading. Fellow readers like to comment now and again to offer encouragement or compare shared reading experiences, but if you didnt want anyone adding comments you could say that at the outset.

Sep 30, 11:21am Top

I'm absolutely happy, in fact delighted, if anybody else comments. But I may set up my own thread anyway. I don't want to hog this one.

Sep 30, 11:39am Top

Welcome to the group >17 haydninvienna:, always good to see new people here. We are a very informal group. I keep meaning to read Edward De Bono’s book Six Thinking Hats but not read it yet. His work on the Six Thinking Hats is popular in a number of schools in the U.K. Note to self read this book before he end of the year! Just so you know I am a Head Teacher / Principal of a Primary School (ages 3 - 11).


Edited: Sep 30, 11:58am Top

>18 Andrew-theQM: I really like the idea behind Six Thinking Hats. My former supervisor would have loved it and had us wearing all these different hats and then I could have had my volunteers wearing the hats. I'll have to read this.

Sep 30, 11:57am Top

October Books

Group Reads
The Medusa Amulet by Robert Masello
Walking By Night by Kate Ellis
The Judas Strain by James Rollins

Other Reads
Us Against You by Fredrick Backman
Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan 🎧
The Lilac Bus by Maeve Binchy
Thursday’s Children by Nicci French
Revelation by C J Sansom
The Ninth Step by Mark Dawson
A Ladder to the Sky by Mark Dawson
Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon 🎧
Wizard and Glass by Stephen King 🎧
The Jungle by Mark Dawson
In For the Kill by Ed James
Kill with Kindness by Ed James
The Love Letter by Lucinda Riley
The Moscow Cipher by Scott Mariani
The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse
Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella 🎧

Sep 30, 1:13pm Top

One last comment and then I’ll shut up for a bit. I’ve finished The Happiness Purpose. I found it more interesting than I expected even though not much in it is original, except for the idea of basing the “religion” (or as he calls it, meta-system) on respect rather than love. There’s a couple of decent self-help books buried in it but I’m not going to write them. And >18 Andrew-theQM: I was fascinated to discover that De Bono’s other systems still have their following. The HappinessPurpose won’t change the world, unfortunately—the world would be a saner place if it did.

Sep 30, 1:36pm Top

>21 haydninvienna: Quite a big following in some schools in the U.K. in fact I heard him referred to at some training last week. No need to ‘shut up for a bit’ we love people that comment. 👍😊 We coulddefinitely do with a saner world

Edited: Sep 30, 3:01pm Top

>22 Andrew-theQM: I surely second that. The dog and pony show that our two political parties just put on for 9 hours for our television viewing pleasure, gives that theory plenty of weight. That's all I'm going to say about that.

Oct 1, 9:37am Top

Echoes of Evil by Heather Graham
Krewe of Hunters series Book #26

Brodie McFadden is supposed to be on vacation, getting some sunshine and deciding if he wants to join his brothers in the Krewe of Hunters, a special paranormal investigation unit of the FBI. But a diving excursion with an old navy buddy to a historic shipwreck uncovers a crime scene—and the corpse is new. Museum curator Dakota “Kody” McCoy just wants her Key West culture festival to succeed. She’s always had a deep connection to her home, including being regularly haunted by some of the resident ghosts. Then, in the middle of a performance, a beloved local musician drops dead. It seems accidental, but Kody isn’t so sure. Brodie thinks the recent deaths are linked, and he needs help from Kody. Something about her festival is dangerous. And the threat is creeping ever closer. Has she uncovered a treasure from the past that someone will kill for?

Heather Graham manages to give a little something to everyone with her Krewe of Hunters series. If you like a little romance with your ghosts...it's there. If you want mystery & suspense with your vampires...you'll get it in spades...if you just want paranormal intrigue and all the dead things that go with it...she serves it up piping hot. Her ghost are never evil...just the living, breathing people. I have read all 26 of these books and I would be very hard pressed to single out just one as my favorite. Great series. Check it out. You'll be hooked.

Oct 1, 12:21pm Top

Words in Deep Blue
Cath Crowley
4/5 stars
Set in Australia, Rachel has suffered the loss of her brother who drowned in the ocean. She returns to the city with a heavy heart but tells no one of her brother’s death as she processes her grief. Henry, whose family owns the bookstore, is the boy she loves but is dating someone else. Despite that she takes a job at the bookstore that his family is selling, cataloging the section of the bookstore called the Letter Library, where people can writes notes and leave them in the books for others to find. The book explores her grief from the loss of her love and her brother and how she gets her life back. Touching!

Oct 1, 2:41pm Top

Me again, and a very short book: What W H Auden Can Do for You, by Alexander McCall Smith. It wasn’t deliberate reading this immediately after the De Bono, but they made a thoughtful contrast, De Bono’s rationality on “how to live” contrasted with Auden’s poetic approach. McCall Smith tells you a lot about Auden but a lot about his own cast of mind as well—not necessarily explicitly, it’s just there. Funny—I’ve never read any of McCall Smith’s other books, having given up on No. 1 Ladies’ Detection Agency after a few pages. Perhaps it would be a good idea to try some of his Edinburgh stories.

Edited: Oct 1, 5:15pm Top

>26 haydninvienna: I have quite enjoyed the few books I've read in his Scotland Street series and would be interested to see your opinion, should you decided to give it a try.
I'd probably recommend that you begin with 44 Scotland Street, simply because the stories were written in serial form for the The Scotsman newspaper, though I wouldn't say it's essential for the series to be read in order.
I've not yet tried his Isabel Dalhousie detective series, but it's something I want to get round to.

Oct 1, 5:40pm Top

>27 Sergeirocks: >26 haydninvienna: I enjoy the 44 Scotland Street Series, I would at least recommebd reading book 1 first as it introduces the characters. Gives a great feel for Cosmopolitan Edinburgh.

Edited: Oct 2, 9:00am Top

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning a letter arrives, addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl, from a woman he hasn’t heard from in twenty years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye. But before Harold mails off a quick reply, a chance encounter convinces him that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person. In his yachting shoes and light coat, Harold Fry embarks on an urgent quest. Determined to walk six hundred miles to the hospice, Harold believes that as long as he walks, Queenie will live.

I would give this book 10 stars if there was anyway to add them. Harold is what might be described as "below average". Not much ever happens to this unpretentious little man...and then the letter arrives. This starts Harold on the journey of several hundred miles. The idea came to him on his way to simply mail a letter to a dying old friend...thus starts Harold's adventure and your start to a story that will stay with you perhaps forever. I have read that Rachel Joyce's debut novel originated in 2006 as a radio play when her father was diagnosed with cancer: "I think it was a way of trying to keep him alive.". On his journey, he meets a lot of characters... becomes something of a celebrity and learns a little bit more about the meaning of life. I think I have to agree with the expressed sentiment "Maybe it’s what the world needs. A little less sense, and a little more faith.”

Oct 2, 7:42am Top

>29 Carol420: PHEW! So glad you liked this, Carol, after all the hype Andrew and I gave it, :)

Oct 2, 8:59am Top

>29 Carol420: I wasn't sure at first that I understood Harold very well and then I just felt sorry for him...but before the half way point I was rooting for him and pushing him along. Thanks to both you and Andrew for all your good thoughts about this magnificent book.

Oct 2, 2:08pm Top

>27 Sergeirocks:, >28 Andrew-theQM: I had in mind the Isabel Dalhousie books, as Isobel gets mentioned a time or two in What W H Auden Can Do for You. We'll see. I will say though that AMcCS seems to set a cracking pace—2,000 to 5,000 words a day according to Wikipedia.

Another short book today. This time it's Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. This is a re-read—I first read it I forget how many years ago, but when I went to Dublin to work in 2008 I had no books in the flat at first, and had to go in to Hodges Figgis specifically to buy a copy. I don't know what it is. It's hardly a novel. Maybe a meditation? I'd prefer to think of it as poetry. I have no idea what else I can say about this jewel of a book beyond that I find that I still love it dearly.

Oct 2, 2:24pm Top

Police by Jo Nesbo
Harry Hole series Book #10

For years, detective Harry Hole has been at the center of every major criminal investigation in Oslo. His brilliant insights and dedication to his job have saved countless lives over the years. But as the killer grows increasingly bold and the media reaction increasingly hysterical, the detective is nowhere to be found. This time, when those he loves and values most are facing terrible danger, Harry is in no position to protect anyone—least of all himself.

I had a little problem with several of the events that took place. 1. A minimum security prison would hardly be a place for a man that raped and disfigured someone. 2. People in comas don't just wake up fit as a fiddle and walk out of the hospital. 3. Why is Harry Hole the dream man of every woman that meets him? He must have to fight them off with a big stick. I have read several of books in this series and liked them for the most part. Never has one been as tedious as this one. Harry Hole should get that big stick he uses to fight off the ladies and beat some sense into his editor.

Oct 2, 6:27pm Top

>29 Carol420: Yey! 🎉🎉🎉🍾🍾🍾❤️

Do you realise there’s a partner book Carol told from Queenie’s point of view, The Love Song Of Miss Queenie Hennessy.

Oct 2, 10:55pm Top

The Child / Fiona Barton
4 stars

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

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

Oct 3, 7:00am Top

>34 Andrew-theQM: No I didn't. Thank you. I'll hunt it down.

Oct 3, 8:58pm Top

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir – Jennifer Ryan
Digital audiobook performed by Gabrielle Glaster, Laura Kirman, Imogen Wilde, Adjoa Andoh, Tom Clegg, and Mike Grady.
3.5*** (rounded up)

Among the many novels about World War II, this one stands out for its focus on the women left behind. Set in an English village, where most of the men are off to the fight, and the women have stepped up to the task of keeping things going, Ryan gives us a rich cast of characters, some of whom are not what they seem.

It begins when the vicar decides to suspend the choir; after all you can’t have a choir with no male voices. Not so fast! The women decide that they WILL sing and even enter the choir competition, bringing joy and recognition to their village.

But taking charge of the choir is only a small way in which the women of Chilbury rise to the occasion. The novel is told by a series of diary entries and letters. Ryan changes narrators with each chapter, giving the reader different perspectives on what is happening in and around Chilbury. The residents experience intrigue, subterfuge, family drama, young love, criminal activity, death and fierce loyalty. I was engaged and interested from beginning to end, and thoroughly enjoyed spending time with these ladies!

The audiobook is narrated by a cast of talented voice artists. I’m not certain who voiced which character, but they were all marvelous, really bringing the residents of Chilbury to life. A bonus for this listener is the choral music; oh, how I loved hearing snippets of the choir’s performances. On the strength of the audio performance I’m rounding up to 4 stars.

Oct 4, 2:48pm Top

Eggs by Jerry Spinelli

Eggs is a quirky and moving novel about two very complicated, damaged children. David has recently lost his mother to a freak accident, his salesman father is constantly on the road, and he is letting his anger out on his grandmother. Primrose lives with her unstable, childlike, fortuneteller mother, and the only evidence of the father she never knew is a framed picture. Despite their age difference (David is 9, Primrose is 13), they forge a tight yet tumultuous friendship, eventually helping each other deal with what is missing in their lives.

An odd title for a very good story. That's one of the things I love about challenges. They often demand that you to pick up books that you may in all likelihood by- pass. This author has a really good handle on troubled kids and tells the story with both heart-felt compassion for these two but also adds a dash of humor to the mix. The plot has many twists and turns as it slowly reveals more and more about each character. It has an unexpected ending which I can only describe as thought provoking.

Oct 5, 10:40am Top

Exit West – Mohsin Hamid
Audiobook narrated by the author.

From the book jacket: In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through.

My reactions:
What an inventive and interesting way of telling a tale that examines issues of immigration, war, and love. Hamid uses a framework of a political unrest, where outsiders are quickly blamed for all that goes wrong. It’s uncomfortably recognizable and plausible, making this reader squirm more than a little during certain scenes.

The novel also has a mystical / ethereal quality. The movement from place to place without conventional modes of transportation is one aspect of this. But I think the intensity of the relationship between Nadia and Saeed is what really gives the novel’s settings this “other worldly” sense.

The human connection between the central characters is at times palpable. I recognized their dilemma – the inescapable pull of their mutual attraction vs the belief and fielty to religious or social restrictions. And once they’ve taken that step through the first door, who have they but one another? How can they find their way in this strange land? Whom can they trust if not each other? Can they overlook their own differences to join together against the situations they face?

Hamid narrates the audiobook himself. He does a marvelous job, really bringing the characters and situations to life.

Edited: Oct 5, 12:19pm Top

The Girl Who Lived by Christopher Greyson

Ten years ago, four people were brutally murdered. One girl lived. No one believes her story. The police think she's crazy. Her therapist thinks she's suicidal. Everyone else thinks she's a dangerous drunk. They're all right--but did she see the killer? As the anniversary of the murders approaches, Faith Winters is released from the psychiatric hospital and yanked back to the last spot on earth she wants to be--her hometown where the slayings took place. Wracked by the lingering echoes of survivor's guilt, Faith spirals into a black hole of alcoholism and wanton self-destruction. Finding no solace at the bottom of a bottle, Faith decides to track down her sister's killer--and then discovers that she's the one being hunted. How can one woman uncover the truth when everyone's a suspect--including herself?

Christopher Greyson has created a thriller on par with any mystery writer of today. I have read his Jack Stratton series and have to say that this standalone is just as good. It's filled with suspects...danger...and you just can't help but feel for the young victim. The first few chapters are slow...but hang in there. I thought I had the killer all worked out only to find a big surprise at the end.

Oct 6, 1:17pm Top

No brutal murders here. I rediscovered that six-hour flights are for reading. Two short books I bought because of BBs from LT. The first was Lord David Cecil's Library Looking-Glass, on the strength of a BB from the Commonplace Books group. Lots of elegant 18th-century prose and verse, and one or two poets I'd never heard of. The other was Haydn's Visits to England, which I think can fairly be said to have been written by Christopher Hogwood, even though the touchstone credits him only as editor. I loved this. I'm a huge fan of Haydn's music (can't you tell?) and this is a short account of his visits to England in 1791 and 1793. More 18th-century elegance, with the threat of the Napoleonic Wars looming.

I have another six-hour flight in a couple of weeks' time, and one of my likely reads is another BB from LT. This is getting dangerous.

Oct 6, 4:16pm Top

The Wright Brothers / David McCullough
3 stars

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

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

Oct 6, 4:36pm Top

Pretend You Don't See Her / Mary Higgins Clark
3.5 stars

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

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

Oct 6, 8:44pm Top

Educated: A Memoir – Tara Westover
Book on CD performed by Julia Whelan

In this memoir, Westover recalls her childhood and personal journey to become an educated, independent woman. Raised on the family’s land in a small community in Idaho, she had little to no formal education. Her father held strong beliefs about religion, the government, the education system, and his family. Tara’s mother was an herbalist and became a midwife at her husband’s insistence. They family preserved food, stockpiled water, fuel, guns and ammunition all in the belief that someday the authorities would come for them. Tara and her siblings learned to read from religious texts, and enough math to help their father in his construction business. In addition, one brother had violent tendencies, and parents who were in complete denial about the danger he posed to his siblings (and himself).

It’s amazing that Westover survived some of the episodes she relates; it’s a testament to her inner strength and determination that she managed to prosper, getting not only a college degree at Brigham Young University, but pursuing graduate studies at Cambridge and Harvard. Her story is fascinating, compelling and inspiring, but there are scenes that left me shaking my head or cringing in fear.

Julia Whelan does a marvelous job of voicing the audiobook. She made me believe that I was listening to a someone tell her own story.

Oct 6, 11:24pm Top

Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time
Mark Adams
4/5 stars
Travel editor/writer Mark Adams who along with John Leivers, who had explored the Andes before, take off on a unique trip to Peru exploring the region, following the travels of Harvey Bingham’s (an early explorer of Peru who claimed to have discovered Machu Picchu). He also discusses the history of Peru. I found it very interesting and informative especially the information on Bingham.

Oct 7, 4:29pm Top

Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede
5 *****

Not all fairy tales are set in"once upon a time." This one is set in a much more specific time--in Elizabethan England, where faerie magic can still be found but newer forms of knowledge are beginning to force it out of mortal sight.

This was a re-read for me, a re-read I approached with some trepidation since I've sent so many books on my shelf into the wild this summer when I chose them for reading challenges and they just didn't hold up. Fortunately, this one did and I enjoyed reading it for the SFFKit reading challenge on fairy tale re-telling.

Part of what makes this book hold up is that the dialogue is Elizabethan so one is not jarred from that era to the modern era. The story takes places outside of Mortlak, about 10 miles from London, as well as in the Kingdom of Faerie. Widow Arden has two daughters, Blanche and Rosamund, and the Queen of Faerie has two sons, Hugh and John. Because the sons are half-mortal (and the reason is explained with great surprise!), they can travel between the worlds and John does so often. Hugh prefers to remain at Court. And the daughters live on the border of the woods that lead into Faerie and often travel there to get the herbs that have more potency than do ours of the mortal world.

Also woven into the story is that of two men who also work their magick and ceremonial magick that weave into the story of the enchanted bear. Wrede deftly handles the dwarf from Grimm's fairy tale into these two men and their conflicts with how Kelly, the younger, views acquiring wealth and power, comes up against Dee and his wisdom and caution. Remember that these are the times when "witch" and "wizard" could mean a journey to prison or the bonfire, and sometimes it's necessary for cooler heads to prevail.

Oct 7, 4:36pm Top

>41 haydninvienna: Thank you for helping explain your name! And adding my welcome to this group. You sound like you know exactly what lengthy flights are for, and am interested in following your reading adventures on this site.

Oct 7, 6:22pm Top

>41 haydninvienna: I've found flights of any length are made for reading. So...may your flights be long and your books be worthy:)

Oct 8, 1:34am Top

Evermore / Alyson Noel
4 stars

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

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

Oct 8, 11:14am Top

The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore
3 ★

'Twas the night (okay, more like the week) before Christmas, and all through the tiny community of Pine Cove, California, people are busy buying, wrapping, packing, and generally getting into the holiday spirit. But not everybody is feeling the joy. Little Joshua Barker is in desperate need of a holiday miracle. No, he's not on his deathbed; no, his dog hasn't run away from home. But Josh is sure that he saw Santa take a shovel to the head, and now the seven-year-old has only one prayer: Please, Santa, come back from the dead. But hold on! There's an angel waiting in the wings. (Wings, get it?) It's none other than the Archangel Raziel come to Earth seeking a small child with a wish that needs granting. Unfortunately, our angel's not sporting the brightest halo in the bunch, and before you can say "Kris Kringle," he's botched his sacred mission and sent the residents of Pine Cove headlong into Christmas chaos, culminating in the most hilarious and horrifying holiday party the town has ever seen.

I like some of Christopher Moore's works...but I have to be in the mood for them and sometimes find they border on sacrilegious. They are playful, silly, twisted and goofy... always...and this one is no exception. Overall the bottom line here is whether or not you consider yourself a "zombie aficionado", The Stupidest Angel is a book worth your time. After all, how could you not enjoy a book that has a zombie Santa Claus doing battle with a domesticated fruitbat?

Oct 8, 1:26pm Top

>47 threadnsong: Actually, the name my mum and dad (bless their memories) gave me is Richard. But I love Vienna and I love Haydn, so when I had to pick a logon name for LT, that's what I chose. And thanks for the good wishes.

>50 Carol420: I haven't read that one but I have read Bloodsucking Fiends, The Island of the Sequined Love Nun. and The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove by Christoper Moore. All of them are hilarious. I remember finding the third one (which was the first I read) in the public library back in Canberra years ago and going "Whaaat??" at the title. Of course I couldn't not read it.

My current reading adventure is The Adventures of Dagobert Trostler by Balduin Groller. I found out about this from comments on another LT thread. Dagobert Trostler is billed as Vienna's Sherlock Holmes, but that does no justice to either of them. Dagobert is a detective right enough, but he is a gentleman amateur, more like Lord Peter Wimsey. And no murders (at least not so far). A bank embezzlement, or a scandal at a private club where someone is cheating at cards, are his kind of crime. His concern then is not always to see the malefactor punished but to avoid a scandal in high society. So a completely different atmosphere from the Holmes stories.

According to Wikipedia, there were 6 volumes of Dagobert Trostler stories published between 1895 and 1910, but very few have been translated into English. I'm enjoying them, but so far they're pretty lightweight in comparison to the real thing.

Oct 8, 2:03pm Top

Well, Dagobert proved to be a quick read. Fun, although lightweight. I probably liked it enough to look out for 2 more volumes that are on their way.

Oct 8, 3:54pm Top

The Trouble With Goats And Sheep – Joanna Cannon

In the summer of 1976, in a particular neighbor in England, two young girls, Grace and Tilly, try to come to terms with the disappearance of one of their neighbors, Mrs Creasy. It seems everyone’s suspicions lie with the odd man who lives at Number Eleven, but none of the adults will say WHY, other than vague references to a missing baby some nine years previously.

What an interesting and inventive way to structure this mystery / coming of age novel. Cannon tells the story in dual timeframes (Summer 1976 and December 1967), and with multiple points of view. Grace and Tilly are naïve but ever curious. Adults frequently talk around children as if the children can’t hear, and that is the way that the girls get much of their information (and misinformation). Of course, some of what they learn makes no sense to them, given their limited life experience, while this reader could put together clues far ahead of them.

But in addition to the mystery Cannon gives the reader a coming-of-age story. Tilly is the quieter, shyer girl, somewhat in awe of Grace, who is, herself, trying to emulate the local teenager. Grace can be bossy and unfeeling. Tilly, somewhat sickly and sheltered by her single mother, is at a distinct disadvantage. Their relationship has its ups and downs through the book, with one particularly painful episode when Grace fails to give Tilly her due. But in the end the girls learn valuable lessons about friendship, responsibility and not being quick to judge.

This is Cannon’s debut novel. I would definitely read another book by her.

Oct 8, 3:57pm Top

>45 JulieLill:
I just bought this at the Audible 2-for-1 sale! Looking forward to it.

Oct 8, 5:39pm Top

>51 haydninvienna: The first Christopher Moore I ever read was The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove. I want a sea beast like Steve.

Oct 9, 12:04am Top

The Third Act / John Wilson
3.5 stars

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

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

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

Edited: Oct 9, 1:09pm Top

The Deep Dark Descending by Allen Eskens
3.5 ★

Homicide Detective Max Rupert never fully accepted his wife’s death, even when he believed that a reckless hit-and-run driver was to blame. Haunted by memories both beautiful and painful, he is plagued by feelings of unfinished business. When Max learns that, in fact, Jenni was murdered, he must come to terms with this new information—and determine what to do with it.
Struggling to balance his impulses as a vengeful husband with his obligations as a law enforcement officer, Max devotes himself to relentlessly hunting down those responsible. For most of his life, he has thought of himself as a decent man. But now he’s so consumed with anguish and thoughts of retribution that he finds himself on the edge, questioning who he is and what he stands for. On a frozen lake at the US–Canadian border, he wrestles with decisions that could change his life forever, as his rage threatens to turn him into the kind of person he has spent his entire career bringing to justice.

There are, as with an novel, things that work to drive the story on, and those that could have been built on or left out entirely...but unfortunately neither happened here. This author uses an interesting plot to build momentum... alternating between the present, in which Rupert holds the man he believes killed his wife and unborn child to account in the middle of a frozen lake...and the past three days, in which he tracks down this man.

The character of the believed killer was unlikable, unbelievable, and very shallow. You really didn't care one way or the other if he lived or died and after a while you began to urge Rupert to come on and make that decision.

The bottom line is that Allen Eskens is a talented writer but this effort could have used a bit more action and a lot less narrative.

Edited: Oct 9, 1:39pm Top

The Sleeping Beauty Killer by Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke
Under Suspicion Series Book #3
4 ★

The story follows television producer Laurie Moran as she tries to help a woman she believes was wrongfully convicted of killing her fiancé. Fifteen years after being convicted of murdering her fiancé—the famed philanthropist Hunter Raleigh III—Casey Carter is determined to clear her name. Though she has served her time, she finds that she is still living under suspicion. Going on the true crime show Under Suspicion seems to be her only hope to prove her innocence.

The show’s producer, Laurie Moran, also believes in her innocence and wants to help Casey. But with Alex Buckley taking a break from the show—cooling his potential romance with Laurie—Under Suspicion introduces a new on-air host in Ryan Nichols, a hot shot legal whiz with a Harvard Law degree, a Supreme Court clerkship, experience as a federal prosecutor. Ryan has no problems with steering the show, and even tries to stop Laurie from taking on Casey’s case because he’s so certain she’s guilty. An egomaniacal new boss, a relentless gossip columnist, and Casey’s longstanding bad reputation: Laurie must face this and more to do what she believes is right, to once and for all prove Casey’s innocence—that is, if she’s innocent.

Like all Mary Higgins Clark books, the pace is quick. The story moves quickly, without skipping over the salient facts of the investigation. The pieces fall into place just when they should, leaving enough clues to make the mystery believable in the end, without making the real killer too obvious. It’s a fast, fun read, with enough mystery and suspense to keep the pages turning. Even though this a part of a series, it reads well as a standalone. As I a side-line I'd like to say if you have never read anything by the co-author, Alafair Burke you will be in for a real treat to do so.

Edited: Oct 10, 8:14am Top

The Owl Service by Alan Garner

It all begins with the scratching in the ceiling. From the moment Alison discovers the dinner service in the attic, with its curious pattern of floral owls, a chain of events is set in progress that is to effect everybody’s lives. Relentlessly, Alison, her step-brother Roger and Welsh boy Gwyn are drawn into the replay of a tragic Welsh legend – a modern drama played out against a background of ancient jealousies. As the tension mounts, it becomes apparent that only by accepting and facing the situation can it be resolved.

Inspired by Welsh mythology, this story is of ordinary people pulled from their ordinary lives into a magical and dangerous world. The legend goes that Blodeuwedd was the girl made by a wizard from flowers. She was created in order to be the bride of a prince who had been cursed never to marry a mortal woman. She conspired with her lover to murder the prince, and as punishment was turned into an owl. This little treasure was first published in 1967. It was an interesting read... but as it was written in the dialect of the Welsh and the Irish, some may find it a bit hard to follow.

Oct 10, 8:53am Top

The Judas Strain by James Rollins
Sigma Force series Book #4

From the depths of the Indian Ocean, a horrific plague has arisen to devastate humankind--a disease that's unknown, unstoppable . . . and deadly. But it is merely a harbinger of the doom that is to follow. Aboard a cruise liner transformed into a makeshift hospital, Dr. Lisa Cummings and Monk Kokkalis--operatives of SIGMA Force--search for answers to the bizarre affliction. But there are others with far less altruistic intentions. In a savage and sudden coup, terrorists hijack the vessel, turning a mercy ship into a floating bio-weapons lab.

A world away, SIGMA's Commander Gray Pierce thwarts the murderous schemes of a beautiful would-be killer who holds the first clue to the discovery of a possible cure. Pierce joins forces with the woman who wanted him dead, and together they embark upon an astonishing quest following the trail of the most fabled explorer in history: Marco Polo. But time is an enemy as a worldwide pandemic grows rapidly out of control. As a relentless madman dogs their every step, Gray and his unlikely ally are being pulled into an astonishing mystery buried deep in antiquity and in humanity's genetic code. And as the seconds tick closer to doomsday, Gray Pierce will realize he can truly trust no one, for any one of them could be . . . a Judas.

The book is way, way too long. I found myself counting the pages remaining...and believe me there were lots! Just when I was falling asleep the story would take off again and I'd be caught up. Overall... thanks to relentless action in spectacular places, great characters in the Sigma Force crew, and plenty of spurious science (again sometimes too much)...it all provided more than enough distraction from some almost unbelievable breathtaking coincidences and leaps of logic.

Oct 10, 9:30am Top

Stone Cold by C.J. Box
Joe Pickett series Book #14

Everything about the rich stranger is a mystery: the massive, isolated ranch in the remote Black Hills of Wyoming, the women who live with him, the secret philanthropies, the private airstrip, the sudden disappearances. And especially the persistent rumors that the man’s wealth comes from killing people. Joe Pickett, still officially a game warden but now mostly a troubleshooter for the governor, is assigned to find out the truth. But he finds out a lot more than he bargained for. There are two other men living up at that ranch. One is a stone-cold killer who takes an instant dislike to Joe. He doesn’t frighten Joe at all. The other man is another story.

It had been a couple of years since I had read anything in this series, so I had forgotten that I wasn't always wild about every book in it. I found this one tedious and at times irritating... but in all fairness to the author it may have been the reader, (I listen to the audio version), and not the writing. Compared to most of the previous books...I'd have to say that it's just okay. I will certainly continue with the series.

Oct 10, 11:12am Top

Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon – Michael P Ghiglieri and Thomas M Myers

The subtitle is all the summary anyone needs: Gripping accounts of all known fatal mishaps in the most famous of the World’s Seven Natural Wonders. And the cover adds to this by showing skeletal remains and a mid-air collision. The authors recount all the fatalities occurring in the canyon area, from falls off the rim, to flash floods, to drownings, to murders, and yes aircraft mishaps.

The chapters are divided by cause: falls from the rim, falls within the canyon, environment (i.e. dehydration), etc. They have a pretty engaging style when they are recounting a specific scenario, giving the reader insight into the ways in which various visitors met their fate – mostly due to ignorance or callous disregard of warnings. But they tend to get preachy about the causes of most of these fatalities. (No. 1 risk factor is being a young male … especially one fueled by alcohol.)

I had the second edition, with is easily 100 pages longer than the original. Presumably this is because of additional information provided to them since the book was first published. While each chapter includes several detailed scenarios, a table at the end of each chapter outlines ALL the deaths attributed to that particular cause.

On the whole it was rather dry and somewhat boring.

In the interest of full disclosure, however … a couple of years before we met, my husband went on a Colorado River rafting trip in Grand Canyon. His raft broke apart when going over Crystal Rapids, dumping all passengers into the river. I was kind of expecting something along the lines of what my husband wrote about the trip when I picked up this book. Here is a snippet of what he wrote about that experience:
Your mouth is dry, your knuckles are white, your muscles are knotted, and ... you’re going over the edge. Time is now measured in hundredths of a second; everything seems to move simultaneously in slow motion and at lightning speed.

We’re falling towards the sluice hole. Opposite the sluice hole is an eight-foot standing wave crashing uphill into the sluice hole.

The bow of the raft touches the surface of the sluice hole. The raft is being hit by tons of water from every direction. That’s normal. But something is wrong. Something is very wrong.

Only later am I to learn that the raft has broken up. Thirteen people are in the water. But again, I don’t know this. It all happened too fast for me to comprehend. All I know is that I can’t breathe, and that it’s getting darker and darker.

I’m in the sluice hole. I’m being tossed, tumbled, turned and twisted. I’m being pulled down. I’m being pummeled by a thousand soft blows. I know that something has gone terribly wrong. I’m being pulled down and down. It’s getting darker and darker. It’s quiet, there is no sound. A warm stream flows down my leg. I’ve got to fight out of this. I’ve got to get to the surface.

Up … I’m going up. But I hit the underside of the capsized raft, and then I’m slammed back down, and down, and down. I go back up once more and once again hit the bottom of the raft, and then it’s back down and down. I’ve been under water for a long, long time. My head is about to explode, my lungs are on fire. I’ve got to breathe. I think about dying. I begin to see white flashes, something like stars or lightning. I just can’t hold my breath any longer. It’s black, it’s so black.

I start up again. This time I see light. This time I break the surface. I take in a huge breath of air. I’m in a churning, roaring mass of water. A wall is closing down on me, and then I’m slammed back down and down.

After being thrown out of the eddy and catapulted downstream by the river’s strong flow (over yet another set of rapids – without a raft), he was eventually plucked from the water by another boat. Amazingly no one drowned; another rafting expedition gave them extra blankets and food, and luckily for my husband, HIS “ammo box” of personal gear was one of the bits of flotsam retrieved, so he had his spare pair of glasses. They had to spend the night, before they could be airlifted out the next morning.

Oct 11, 8:20pm Top

Black and Blue – Anna Quindlen
Book on CD narrated by Kimberly Schraf.

With the help of an advocate group, Frances Benedeto leaves her abusive husband, Bobby (a New York city detective), and takes her son to a new state with new names and new backstories. It’s not much different from entering the Witness Protection Service, in that she has to cut all ties with her family and friends in order to avoid being found out. Now she’s Beth Crenshaw, living in a small apartment, walking to work as a home healthcare aide, and trying her best to explain to her son why they have to do what they are doing to stay safe.

Okay, there’s a nugget of a good story here, and I started out completely engaged in the story. But as the book moved along I found that I couldn’t really believe in Fran/Beth. I get that women who are repeatedly abused and controlled by animals like Bobby lose what self-confidence they started with pretty quickly. That they become full of self-doubt and take on the blame for what has happened. That they become immobilized by fear and the certainty that they are all alone and no one will believe and/or help them. That they lose the ability to trust.

But Beth keeps saying she’s never going back and then doing things that will clearly make it easier for Bobby to find her. And when, after her new identity is compromised, she’s offered additional help and another relocation, she refuses … more than once. I was just so frustrated by her behavior. While I was interested enough in the book to keep reading/listening, I don’t think I’ll remember it for long.

On the positive side … Quindlen gives the reader a reasonably suspenseful story arc. She also gives us a new group of friends that will obviously help Beth and her son, Robert, move forward in a new life. And she resists the impulse to give us a happy ending. These kinds of cases rarely end happily, and Beth will face these issues for years to come. I applaud Quindlen for shedding some light on the issue.

Kimberly Schraf does a fine job of narrating the audiobook. She sets a good pace and gives the many characters sufficiently unique voices to help differentiate them. Her rendition of Bobby is oily and just gives me the shivers.

Oct 12, 10:08am Top

>62 BookConcierge: LOL! All those rapids and it was "dry"? :)

Oct 12, 10:57am Top

From The Corner of His Eye by Dean Koontz
3.5 ★

This is the story of a boy who loses his sight, and then mysteriously regains it. It is the story of a courageous band of seekers and a relentless killer. It is the story of all that is right with the world—and all that is terribly wrong. It is the story of a revelation so terrifying and so sublime, it can only be glimpsed . . . From the Corner of His Eye.

I thought that this was one of the most unusual books that Dean Koontz has ever written and those who read and follow his works can attest that he has written some very unusual ones in the past. It's filled with evil, love, mysticism, and above all...hope. There are lots and lots of characters and it spans at least three generations. The two characters that really carry the story are Bartholomew and Angel...who were born on the same day...born surrounded by death...and an entire continent apart... but joined in a like mission. The character of Enoch is a man that carries something that demands a sacrifice occasionally causing the reader to be undecided if you should like him...feel pity for him...or just outright hate him. What you will know is that you can never, ever trust him. It's a long, long book but a story that you just have to see to the last page.

Oct 12, 10:58am Top

Hi again. Since it's Friday, no work today (we work Sunday to Thursday here; Friday is go-to-mosque day for Believers and for me it's laundry day).
Today's reading was Schadenfreude, A Love Story:Me, the Germans, and 20 Years of Attempted Transformations, Unfortunate Miscommunications, and Humiliating Situations That Only They Have Words For by Rebecca Schuman. This is a sort of memoir about her falling in love with Kafka, the German language and a classmate all more or less at once in high school, and her successful attempt to become a fluent reader and speaker of the language and to obtain a PhD in German, and her unsuccessful attempt to get a decent job in academia. I can relate to bits of this since I encountered German in high school and have been making unsuccessful attempts to learn German properly ever since. I was entranced by her tales of roughing it in squats in post-reunification Berlin. Engagingly written and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

This was going to be my long-flight book but I read it today instead, and instead of doing my ironing. I regret nothing.

Oct 12, 3:34pm Top

>66 haydninvienna: The ironing can always wait...

Edited: Oct 12, 5:17pm Top

>66 haydninvienna: Looks like you're going to have to take a shorter flight:) >67 Sergeirocks: is right. Everything can wait if you have a good book to read.

Oct 13, 5:11am Top

I said "a flight" but in fact it's 4 flights: a 6-hour flight from Doha to Zürich, a 5-hour layover in Zürich (nice if I can get out of the airport for a bit!) followed by an 8-hour flight to Montréal (for a work-related conference, OK?). Then the same in reverse 4 days later, but with only 2 h 15 layover. I now plan to take a couple of fat Victorian novels with me. I read Bleak House on the way from Edmonton to Toronto on ViaRail once, and then one of Robertson Davies' trilogies on the way back.

Oct 13, 2:51pm Top

The Cider House Rules– John Irving
Digital audiobook performed by Grover Gardner

From the book jacket: Irving’s sixth novel is set in rural Maine, in the first half of the 20th century. It tells the story of Dr Wilbur Larch – saint and obstetrician, founder and director of the orphanage in the town of St Cloud’s, ether addict and abortionist. It is also the story of Dr Larch’s favorite orphan, Homer Wells, who is never adopted.

My reactions
I love Irving’s writing, and don’t know why this one languished on my TBR for so long. I saw the movie back when it first came out (1999), but never read the book. The movie left out a lot and compressed the timeline.

The span of the novel is about 70 years, taking Dr Larch from a young man to his death in his 90s. Much changes in the world, and yet his little corner of the world sees little difference. Pregnant women come to give birth, their children coming into the care of the orphanage, with every effort made to place them in loving families. Other women come seeking an end to their pregnancies, and Dr Larch accommodates them with compassion and skill.

What I really like about the novel is how the characters are portrayed. The reader gets a clear idea of how Dr Larch came to his decision to perform abortions, the social and moral responsibility he felt he owed the women (and girls) who came to him for help. The reader also clearly understands why Homer makes a different decision, how he struggles to love this man who is like a father to him, once he makes that decision. And the reader watches the painful separation that all parents face when they send their offspring out into the world to make their own way. How a parent’s hopes and dreams may not always be embraced by that child.

Grover Gardner does a fine job narrating the audiobook. He sets a good pace and manages to differentiate the many characters.

Oct 14, 5:56pm Top

>50 Carol420: I started this book years ago! Thank you for a good synopsis/review. I think I put it down because I couldn't quite figure out what was going on!

Oct 14, 6:07pm Top

>69 haydninvienna: I actually liked Bleak House and kept it for re-reading at a later time. How long was the train ride and did you read all of it?

Oct 14, 6:52pm Top

See You in a Hundred Years / Logan Ward
4 stars

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

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

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

Oct 14, 7:17pm Top

The Psychopath Test / Jon Ronson
3 stars

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

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

Oct 14, 7:30pm Top

Mata Hari's Last Dance / Michelle Moran
3.5 stars

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

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

Oct 14, 7:54pm Top

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

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

Oct 15, 12:18pm Top

The Corpse Walker: Real Life Stories: China From the Bottom Up
by Liao Yiwu
3.5/5 stars
Liao Yiwu interviews the citizens of China about life in China following the rise of Mao and beyond. The chapters highlight the jobs these people held and the changes that the revolution had on their lives. It is a sad book about the way the people of China were treated by their government and their fellow citizens who were forced to turn in their neighbors for any offences perceived whether true or not. Disturbing content but well-written.

Oct 15, 11:56pm Top

The Anatomy of Edouard Beaupre / Sarah Kathryn York
4 stars

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

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

Edited: Oct 16, 12:42am Top

When Everything Feels Like the Movies / Raziel Reid
3.5 stars

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

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

Oct 17, 10:15am Top

The Handsome Man’s Deluxe Café – Alexander McCall Smith
Audiobook performed by Lisette Lecat

Book # 15 in the popular No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series has the ladies investigating a case of amnesia. In the meantime, Mma Grace Makutsi has decided to open a new restaurant, “The Handsome Man’s De Luxe Café” and she’s not inclined to take advice from anyone.

I love this series. I feel like I’m spending time with old friends when I open one of these books and become immersed in their lives in Gabarone, Botswana. Precious Ramotswe is ever the diplomat, gently steering her protégé (and now, “co-director”) towards solutions and tempering Mma Makutsi tendency to tactlessness. The supporting cast is a delight as well: Mr. J L B Matekoni, Phuti Radiphuti, Mma Potokwane, and Charlie.

The cases the agency works on are less important in this series than the relationships between the characters. While they are still sold in the mystery section of the bookstore, I don’t really classify them as mysteries. But who cares. They’re a delight in any case.

Lisette Lecat does a marvelous job of voicing these audiobooks. She really brings the characters to life. I read the first three books before discovering her marvelous audio interpretations. I imagine if I read a text version again, it would be Lecat’s voice I hear.

Oct 17, 10:17am Top

Consent To Kill by Vince Flynn
Mitch Rapp series Book #8

An eye for an eye: that’s what the powerful father of a dead terrorist demands in retribution—and with his hate-filled plea, Mitch Rapp becomes the target of an explosive international conspiracy. The fearless operative has both killed with impunity and tortured to avert disaster, all in a battle to preserve freedom. But even among America’s allies, some believe the time has come to bring Rapp down. Now the hunter is the hunted, and Rapp must rely on his razor-sharp instincts for survival—and justice—as he unleashes his fury on those who have betrayed him.

I haven't read any of this series in quiet some time so was very happy to find that Mitch Rapp hadn't change one bit...didn't even get any older. He's one character that has the power to draw the reader in and keep you turning pages. It was an interesting plot with a very satisfactory ending and it seemed like a very quick read. There is a movie that was made supposedly from this book so having just finished the book, I watched it last night. There are so many major parts of the storyline that have either been changed or just left out that you would hardly recognize it. If you have read or plan to read this book and/or love this author...don't ruin it by watching the movie.

Oct 17, 3:35pm Top

>81 Carol420: Love, Love, love this series! 💓

Oct 18, 6:59am Top

>82 Andrew-theQM: Me too. I hadn't read any in a long time but needed an 8th book in a series for a challenge and thought "why not". Now I'll have to get more.

Edited: Oct 18, 2:03pm Top

Currently reading the Novels of Thomas Love Peacock by, er, Thomas Love Peacock.

Peacock is an interesting character, at least to me. He was born in 1785 and for the first 30 or so years of his life didn’t do much but tour England and Wales and write some forgettable poetry. He published the first of his 7 novels, Headlong Hall, in 1815. Five more followed over the next 16 years, and then no more until 1861. In 1819 he was offered a position in the London offices of the East India Company. He proved to be a capable administrator and retired in 1856 from the senior office of Chief Examiner. He was a close friend of Shelley and the executor of Shelley’s will. He seems to have known all the literary lights of London between the 1820s and the 1850s—Leigh Hunt, Coleridge, Charles Lamb and even Jeremy Bentham. James Mill was Chief Examiner before him and John Stuart Mill after. His daughter Mary Ellen married the poet George Meredith, whose sonnet sequence Modern Love is about their relationship.
He published 7 novels during his lifetime:
Headlong Hall (1815)
Melincourt (1817)
Nightmare Abbey (1818)
Maid Marian (1822)
The Misfortunes of Elphin (1829)
Crotchet Castle (1831)
Gryll Grange (1861)
I have the collected edition published by Rupert Hart-Davis in 1948, which has brief introductions by David Garnett to the collection as a whole and to each novel separately. I don't plan to read all of them, and there is a certain repetitive quality at least in the earlier ones.
His novels (except for Maid Marian) are thinly disguised philosophical satires. In Headlong Hall, the characters are paper cutouts—they meet in a comfortable country house, eat, drink and talk and have absurd adventures. Many of the characters are caricatures of the literary and intellectual figures of the time. The character Scythrop Glowry is a recognisable caricature of Shelley (who apparently approved of it). Caricatures of Coleridge occur frequently (for his philosophical ideas rather than his poetry). The second novel, Melincourt, is surprisingly angry, with Southey attacked for having sold out his liberty-loving principles in the service of a corrupt state (Southey became Poet Laureate). Melincourt also features Sir Oran Haut-ton, who is an orang-utan—this is a gibe at the Scottish peer Lord Monboddo, who had written a book arguing that the orangs were actually humans who did not have the ability to speak. By Crotchet Castle however, the characters are more three-dimensional. The basic scheme remains the same—eating, drinking and good living in a country house, with philosophical debates and occasional absurd adventures. The last, Gryll Grange, actually has something like a plot and the characters are something like people. But they still eat, drink and talk. I haven't read Maid Marian yet but it appears to be a retelling of some of the ballads of Robin Hood. The Misfortunes of Elphin is back to satire, about a drunken nobleman who holds the office of Commissioner of Royal Embankment, and by his negligence the countryside is flooded when the embankment collapses during a storm.

The novels are certainly not great literature but they're fun. And all of them are short--the longest is Melincourt, which is only 254 pages of not extremely small type.

Oct 18, 3:05pm Top

The Medusa Amulet by Robert Masello

Benvenuto Cellini, master artisan of Renaissance Italy, once crafted a beautiful amulet prized for its unimaginable power—and untold menace. Now the quest to recover this legendary artifact depends upon one man: David Franco, a brilliant but skeptical young scholar at Chicago’s world-renowned Newberry Library. What begins as a simple investigation spirals into a tale of dangerous intrigue, as Franco races from the chateaux of France to the palazzo of Rome in a desperate search for the ultimate treasure—and an answer to a riddle that has puzzled mankind since the beginning of time. Aided by a beautiful young Florentine harboring dark secrets, pursued by deadly assassins, and battling demons of his own, Franco must ultimately confront an evil greater than anything conjured in his worst nightmares.

I found it overall to be interesting reading...history, adventure, mysticism...even a little romance... but sometimes it was a real challenge as it went on and on. If it hadn't been that I was reading it as a group read I honestly may have skipped parts of it. It will be essential that the reader be able to suspend their disbelief as well as historical reality.

Oct 19, 12:30pm Top

Murder at The Brightwell
By Ashley Weaver
4/5 stars
Amory Ames and her husband are on the outs and Amory decides to go to the Brightwell Hotel to get away for a while and help out an old flame. The only problem is her husband ends up following her to the hotel where they get involved in a double murder mystery. This is Weaver’s first novel and I found it quite well done and a fast read.

Oct 19, 6:15pm Top

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café – Fannie Flagg
Abridged audiobook narrated by the author
Unabridged audio performed by Lorna Raver.

When Evelyn accompanies her husband to the nursing home to visit an ailing relative, she meets Mrs Threadgood. As their friendship progresses, Ninny tells Evelyn about Ruth and Idgie and the Whistle Stop Café, and the time Idgie was tried for murdering a man.

This is actually the third time I’ve read this book and I love just as much now as I did the first time. Flagg does a marvelous job of developing these characters, and the reader feels the love between them. I was hooked from the beginning and engaged throughout. And I was in tears at the end (which is VERY different from the movie).

I thought that this time out I’d enjoy Fannie Flagg reading the audio version. She’s marvelous; a trained actress, she can easily interpret the many characters. However, I realized after I’d gotten the book from the library that Flagg’s audio work is an abridged version. So, I managed to get the unabridged version as well … narrated by Lorna Raver. Raver does a fine job, but she’s not Fannie Flagg. Who could be?!

Oct 19, 11:45pm Top

The Age of Hope / David Bergen
4 stars

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

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

Oct 20, 8:27am Top

>87 BookConcierge: Have you seen the DVD? This was one of my Mom's favorite movies.

Oct 20, 4:29pm Top

Weekend Warriors / Fern Michaels
3.5 stars

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

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

Yesterday, 8:37am Top

Holy Ghost by John Sandford
Virgil Flowers series Book #11
4.5 ★

Pinion, Minnesota: a metropolis of all of seven hundred souls, for which the word "moribund" might have been invented. Nothing ever happened there and nothing ever would--until the mayor of sorts (campaign slogan: "I'll Do What I Can") and a buddy come up with a scheme to put Pinion on the map. They'd heard of a place where a floating image of the Virgin Mary had turned the whole town into a shrine, attracting thousands of pilgrims. And all those pilgrims needed food, shelter, all kinds of crazy things, right? They'd all get rich! What could go wrong? When the dead body shows up, they find out, and that's only the beginning of their troubles--and Virgil Flowers'--as they are all about to discover all too soon.

I didn't care much for this series when it debuted. Virgil Flowers was a character that came to life in the Lucas Davenport series about 11 years ago...he was a rather minor character that wasn't extremely popular with his colleagues so I was surprised when John Sandford gave him his own series. I'm happy to say that Virgil has grown and developed into a character almost equal with Davenport. Virgil is smart, funny, and determined. I love the way his mind works and the lengths he will go to in order to make an arrest. If you like the Lucas Davenport series or if you just like a good detective series...give Virgil a try.

Yesterday, 7:01pm Top

Escape / Linwood Barclay
4 stars

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

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

Edited: Today, 8:07pm Top

>89 Carol420: .... I'm old enough that I watched the movie in the theater when it came out!

(N.B.: VERY different ending to the movie)

Today, 8:07pm Top

How to Fall In Love With a Man Who Lives In a Bush – Emmy Abrahamson

Julia is a Swede living in Austria where she teaches English at Berlitz. She’s in Vienna because she followed a boyfriend there; now they’ve broken up and she’s at loose ends. One day, while waiting on a park bench she meets a smelly, dirty homeless man, Ben. They enter into an easy conversation and when she gets up to leave he virtually commands her to meet him again the next evening. Thus begins their relationship.

This was a quick, fast read and mildly entertaining. I shook my head at the chances Julia took, but recognized what she saw in Ben. He was clearly intelligent, caring, giving and willing to work at the relationship. She, on the other hand, was pretty closed off to any change in routine, and visibly embarrassed by her boyfriend. They are sometimes at cross purposes and have trouble communicating clearly with one another. The plot is rather implausible, including chasing him to Vancouver and wandering aimlessly in that city on the chance she’d find him. But there is a happy ending.

All told it’s a decent chick-lit, new-adult romance.

As an afterward, there is both an interview with the author, AND an essay by Abrahamson’s husband ... who was homeless when she met him on a park bench in Amsterdam. But THIS is a novel, not a memoir.


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