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Clue Reads The Stars In 2019

2019 Category Challenge

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Edited: Dec 31, 2018, 11:39am Top

For the last few years I've kept the same simple categories and I'll continue with those in 2019: Fiction, Mysteries/Suspense, Nonfiction and Biographies/Memoirs. What I'm going to change is the way I choose books. I have dozens of books on the shelf that are rated 4 and 5 stars on LT and Goodreads, so I'm going to give those priority this year. That doesn't mean I won't read any others of course, and it doesn't mean that once I read them I'll rate them as high as other readers, it just means that's my way of reading a lot of good books that are languishing. I'll participate in challenges as often as I can, January planning looks good.

Edited: Aug 1, 10:19am Top


1. I'd Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel
2. A Guide to Birding by Joseph Michael Forshaw Steve Howell Terrance Lindsay Rich Stallcup

Edited: Aug 7, 8:44pm Top


Edited: Aug 7, 8:43pm Top

BINGO Possibilities

1. Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
2. Planned - March 2 (Feb, Library)
3. Call The Nurse: True Stories of a Country Nurse on a Scottish Isle by Mary J. MacLeod
4. Star Tales: Norh American Indian Stories About the Stars by Gretchen Will Mayo
5. Old Herbaceous by Richard Arkell
6. A Month in the Country by J.L. Carr
7. The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason
8. The Lost Family by Jenna Blum
9. Pietr the Latvian by Georges Simenon
10. Figures in a Landscape by Paul Theroux
11. The Invisible Man by Charles Finch
12. The Mitford Murders: A Mystery by Jessica Fellowes
13. When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsaka
14. Reflex by Dick Francis
15. Second Wind - Nathaniel Philbrick
16. Planned - All the Ever Afters by Danielle Teller
17. O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
18. Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly
19. Love and Ruin by Paula McLain
20. The Piano Shop on the Left Bank by Thad Carhart
21. When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
22. I'd Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel
23. Mademoiselle Chanel by C. W. Gortner
24. Winding Stair by Douglas C. Jones
25. The Brief History of Montmaray by Michele Cooper

Dec 9, 2018, 4:45pm Top

Save 7

Dec 11, 2018, 6:01pm Top

Wishing you a fun year of reading, Luanne.

Dec 11, 2018, 8:35pm Top

Sounds like an excellent way to pick books from your TBR to read.

Dec 12, 2018, 4:38pm Top

Hope you have fun with your category reading!

Dec 14, 2018, 6:08pm Top

I like the way your will choose your 2019 reading. It makes perfect sense to me. I have become a rather addicted e-book purchaser lately and have started to check ratings (and number of ratings) on LT of books I am interested in before making the purchase plunge. ;-)

Edited: Dec 23, 2018, 8:55am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Dec 23, 2018, 3:47pm Top

Sounds like you will have some great reading this year.

Dec 31, 2018, 8:56am Top

Good luck! Happy New Year!

Dec 31, 2018, 9:58am Top

Enjoy your challenge in the new year.

Dec 31, 2018, 11:41am Top

Dec 31, 2018, 2:59pm Top

Jan 2, 11:25am Top

>9 This-n-That:, >10 sallylou61:, >11 tess_schoolmarm:, >14 VivienneR:

I always get excited about the great reading that will be done over the new year. It will be fun to see what recommendations, BBs, and newly published books work their way into my year...books I don't even know about now. Of course, I'm sure I'm going to read zillions of good books right from my shelves too!

Jan 2, 11:31am Top


Edited: Feb 10, 10:48am Top

Origin - NetGalley
Bingo - Part of A Series
CAT - No
TBR - No
LT Rating 4.0
My Rating 4.0


This is the second prequel to the Charles Lennox mystery series. Charles is twenty-six and has begun to build a reputation as an effective and trustworthy private investigator. The Duke of Dorset calls on him to solve the disappearance of a painting from his private study. Solving the mystery will require more than the simple question of who took it, but also why, because one of the most valuable portraits in the world was left hanging beside it. A further complication is added when murder takes place in the house.

I enjoyed the complicated plot, the recurring characters readers have come to love, and the Victorian London setting. A new character in the guise of a twelve year old relative has come to stay at Charles' house and I thought he was a disruptive element to the flow of the book, but all in all, this is a good addition to one of my favorite series.

Thanks to NetGalley for a review copy in exchange for an honest review. The Vanishing Man will be released Feb 19.

Jan 2, 12:11pm Top

>9 This-n-That:, >10 sallylou61:, >11 tess_schoolmarm:, >14 VivienneR:

I've berated myself more than once this year because a shiny cover caught my eye when I have books on my shelf that I know are more than a pretty cover. Hopefully this resolution will go better than most!

>15 The_Hibernator:, >16 hailelib:, >17 thornton37814:, >18 tess_schoolmarm:

Best wishes to you for a peaceful year with lots of satisfying reads!

Jan 2, 5:29pm Top

>22 clue: - Tapping foot impatiently waiting for release date...

Jan 3, 8:12pm Top

>22 clue: I'll be interested to hear what you think of it. The mystery seemed more sophisticated than the previous books to me and by that I really think I just mean more complex.

Edited: Feb 10, 11:08am Top

Origin - Shelf
Bingo - LT Rating of 4.0+
CAT - No
TBR - Yes
LT Rating - 4.0
My Rating - 4.0

I'd Rather Be Reading: The Delights And Dilemmas Of The Reading Life by Anne Bogel

Anne Bogel is an avid reader and very much like any one of us, though maybe funnier. There are 21 short essays in this little 145 page book, each on a topic we've thought about and maybe posted about.

Confess Your Literary Sins is about having guilty feelings for not having read a book you are supposed to have read and I'm Begging You To Break My Heart is about books that do just that. Then there is Bookworm Problems which begins with Your library holds all come in at the same time. Clearly this woman has walked the walk. Her ruminations are perfect company for a cold winter night, or for that matter, anytime you need the company of another reader.

Jan 3, 9:27pm Top

>26 clue: Do you listen to her podcast? I’ve been a fan for almost two years now.

Jan 3, 9:32pm Top

>26 clue: This is on my to-read list and I'm glad to see you liked it!

Jan 3, 9:46pm Top

>26 clue: I foresee that title in next year's meme!

Jan 3, 10:01pm Top

>27 LittleTaiko: Oh gosh yes! Love Modern Mrs. Darcy!
Episode 158 is probably for all of us - The life-changing magic of clearing your unread shelf. As if that is EVER going to happen! :)

Jan 4, 5:58am Top

>27 LittleTaiko: I've just subscribed. For some reason iTunes is downloading every single episode of the 168 episodes (rather than the most recent one, like it normally does), so I think I'm going to be here a while!

Jan 4, 8:34am Top

>26 clue: a BB for me!

Jan 4, 2:19pm Top

>22 clue: - Great review! I plan on getting caught up with the Charles Lennox series this year, so will be adding this one to the list.

Jan 7, 9:19pm Top

>26 clue: That’s on my TBR and I’m very much looking forward to it. I love the podcast too!

Edited: Jan 13, 6:16pm Top

>27 LittleTaiko: I didn't know about her podcast until I started the book. Since then I've been listening as I ride the exercise bicycle and the time goes so much faster!

>28 rabbitprincess:, >32 tess_schoolmarm:, >29 thornton37814: I hope you like it as much as I did, I've made a list of people to gift it to!

>29 thornton37814: Now that's planning! LOL!

>33 lkernagh: I love the characters in this series. It's surprised me that I don't mind the prequels, normally I want a series to be sequential and not to go back, but for some reason it doesn't bother me with Lennox (or Finch as the case may be).

Edited: Feb 10, 11:04am Top

Origin - Shelf
Bingo - Homophone (stair, stare)
CAT - Maybe
TBR - Yes
LT Rating 3.5
My Rating 4.0

Winding Stair by Douglas C. Jones

This historical novel takes place in 1890 in the Choctaw Nation of Indian Territory and in Fort Smith, Arkansas, a town on the Arkansas/IT border. The Federal Court with jurisdiction over nontribal people in The Nations was located in Fort Smith and the Marshals Service worked from there.

When word of a murder in Indian Territory is received by the Marshal he assigns Deputy Oscar Schiller to investigate. Schiller is in Fort Smith and he and his posse, two Osage trackers, quickly prepare to board the night train to travel into the territory. A fourth person, Eben Pay, a naïve young lawyer from St. Louis and temporarily assigned as an assistant to the prosecuting attorney, comes along as well. It was Pay's father, a judge in St. Louis, that thought Eben needed to experience law enforcement to understand all facets of law. When the four disembark from the train at Hatchet Hill IT, they are joined by the chief of the Choctaw police and some of his men. They take Oscar and his posse to the murder scene of Mrs. Eagle John, a Choctaw woman who was traveling in her wagon with a small black boy she was raising. She has been murdered and raped. The boy was able to escape and hide. This turns out to be only the beginning of Schiller's work. A man named Thrasher is found dead in his farmyard along with the two men that worked for him. When Schiller and the posse arrive, they bury the dead and begin to work on a puzzle Schiller would like not to have discovered. Mrs. Thrasher and their teenage daughter are missing.

Published in1979, Winding Stair is well written with interesting and diverse characters, indicative of the time and place. I've read this novel numerous times through the years but not in the last four or five. I belong to a regional history book club that until now has only read nonfiction, but because Doug Jones knew the history of Indian Territory, the Court, and the law of the time so well it was decided this novel would be useful to us.

The LT rating is 3.5 and I might agree with that if I didn't know the history behind the book but because I do, and because it is rarely told correctly, I'm giving it 4.0.

Edited: Feb 10, 11:12am Top

Origin - Shelf
Bingo - Medical
CAT - Reading Through Time (Scottish)
TBR - Yes
LT Rating 3.5
My Rating 3.5

Call the Nurse: True Stories of a Country Nurse on a Scottish Isle by Mary MacLeod

Mary MacLeod worked as a district nurse on a Hebridean island after she and her husband decided to escape their frenetic lifestyle in the south of England in the 1970s. There are forty-two short chapters in which she tells of the exploits of the local people, most of whom had ancestors on the island in generations past. Some of the anecdotes are funny and some sad but all of them are interesting and give us a clear understanding of the harsh life and the strong character of the inhabitants. Well worth my time and greatly enjoyed.

Edited: Jan 13, 8:41pm Top

>35 clue: Actually it was more of a prediction for your meme.

>37 clue: I've seen that one and wondered how it is. I am pretty sure I added it to my wish list when I looked at Hebrides titles, but I'll make sure! ETA: It was on the Overdrive wish list.

Jan 13, 9:36pm Top

>35 clue: Oh, I get it, it's been a long day!

Edited: Jan 13, 10:00pm Top

>36 clue:

Sounds good.

Jan 14, 7:45am Top

>37 clue: I've added that to the wishlist! I'm always up for more Hebridean reading :)

Jan 15, 8:02pm Top

>36 clue: That one is going on the library TBR list. I read his Elkhorn Tavern several years ago and was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it so much. It's not my usual kind of book.

>37 clue: That one sounds fascinating, too!

Edited: Feb 9, 11:37pm Top

Origin - NetGalley
Bingo -
TBR - No
LT Rating: None yet
My Rating: 4.5

The Glovemaker by Ann Weisgarber

Weisgarber's new historical novel is based on an actual settlement in Utah by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The settlement was very small, in the 1880s when the book takes place only seven families lived there. Though LDS members, six of the families did not practice polygamy nor did the town have a bishop as was usual in an LDS settlement. Church leaders questioned their faith.

Deborah Tyler is the barren and only wife of Samuel, a wheelright who travels through the rough Utah landscape going from settlement to settlement mending and replacing wagon wheels. This year he hasn't arrived home before winter weather set in. As a woman alone Deborah is put in a bad situation when a strange man appears at her door. He is an LDS member running from U.S. Deputies who will arrest him because he has more than one wife. There have been others come to the Tyler door and like them this man is trying to make his way to Floral Ranch where he will be given safe haven. Deborah is frighteningly aware the law will be close on his trail and if they find him there or even learn he has been there she will be arrested too. She and Samuel could lose the house and property where they have planted and nurtured orchards.

The man's arrival begins a sequence of events that will challenge faith, ethics, and love by Deborah and others in the community. Beautifully written and thoroughly researched, The Glovemaker presents history of the LDS readers may not know. The location of Junction, an actual town, is inside the Capitol Reef National Park where the orchards of the LDS settlers are still maintained. It was a visit to the Park that inspired Wesgarber to research and write about the settlers there.

I received this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Jan 18, 12:15pm Top

>43 clue: Your great review has added The Glovemaker to my wishlist. I loved The Personal History of Rachel DuPree when I read it a while ago.

ETA: The touchstones seem to be a little grouchy today. Both The Glovemaker and The Personal History of Rachel DuPree as listed on LT but I can't get either one to match with a touchstone!

Jan 19, 2:49am Top

>43 clue: I am going to put that one on my wish list. I am currently reading a series on the Church of LDS which is part history, party mystery and I have really enjoyed learning about the Church. (The Righteous) by Michael Wallace.

Jan 19, 10:19pm Top

>43 clue: - Fabulous review!

Edited: Jan 23, 12:00pm Top

> 44 I loved the The Personal History of Rachel DuPree too and still hope for a movie. I liked her second book, The Promise too.

>45 tess_schoolmarm: My knowledge of LDS has been shallow and I was surprised by some of the history she used for the book.

>46 lkernagh: Thanks, this will probably be one of my favorite books of the year.

Edited: Feb 9, 11:07pm Top

Origin - Shelf
TBR - Yes
LT Rating 4.5
My Rating 4.0

Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny

This is the 14th title in the Armand Gamache series and is one of the best. Although Gamache is still on suspension as the highest ranking law enforcement officer in Quebec, he becomes involved by accident in an affair that will lead to murder and the discovery of massive theft.

Although this has been one of my favorite series since the first book came out, I was growing a bit weary with the formula Penny generally follows: Gamache in big trouble with his superiors, Gamache in a firefight and Gamache found to be right all along. Although Kingdom of the Blind followed that same pattern, there were a few changes near the end that points to change with some of the characters. If so, it's going to be fun to see where Penny takes them.

Jan 23, 2:53pm Top

>48 clue: - I keep meaning to read this one but for some reason keep hesitating. I think it may because you pointed out so well, the series has become a bit formulaic. Glad to know it looks like there may be some changes.

Jan 26, 7:45pm Top

>48 clue: Hopefully I'll get to that one soon. I want to wait until at least March to read it since I just read the previous one.

Edited: Mar 1, 7:43pm Top

Origin - Shelf
Bingo - Debut
CAT - TBR Challenge (Long TBR)
TBR - Yes
LT Rating 4.0
My Rating 4.0

When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka

The author based this small novella on her grandparents experiences as Japanese Americas during WWII. It is an ugly and shameful story beautifully told.

The primary characters don't have names, they are the boy, the girl, the woman and the father. The father is taken during the night by the FBI. Weeks later an evacuation notice is posted requiring all people of Japanese descent to come to the train station for deportation to a camp. On that day the woman locks their house and the three, each carrying a suitcase, make their way to the train station. They will be transported from Berkeley to Utah where they will remain incarcerated for more than three years.

Most sections of the book are effectively narrated by different family members. The train trip is told by the girl, the years in the camp by the boy and the last chapter is from the father. In the boy's section the psychological effect of being removed from his neighborhood and friends, the separation from his father and witnessing his mother's own struggle are heart breaking.

I hadn't read anything by Otsuka before and she has only written one more novel which I will read later this year.

Edited: Mar 1, 7:44pm Top

Origin - Shelf
CAT - Dick Francis Shared Read at 75 Book Challenge group
TBR - No
LT Rating 4.0
My Rating 3.5

I had read this racing mystery years ago, it was first published in 1998, but is more on the thriller side than a mystery. A well known and well liked television racing commentator wanted to follow in his father's footsteps and become a steeplechase jockey but he has asthma and being around horses brings on asthma attacks. Jealousy of successful jockeys brings him to attempt to destroy them and their careers.

Edited: Feb 1, 4:04pm Top

Origin - Shelf
Bingo - No
CAT - No
TBR - Yes
LT Rating 4.0
My Rating 3.5

Murder in the Paperback Parlor by Ellery Adams

Storyton Hall is the perfect inn for book lovers. The week of Valentine's day Jane Steward plans a whole week of programs and activities for romance readers. Even the bestselling author of romance novels, Rosamund York, will be attending and introducing her new novel. She gets killed though and Jane and her book club friends, the Cover Girls, have to use their kills of detection to find the killer. Good fun!

Edited: Feb 24, 10:05am Top


My LT anniversary is Feb 12, I joined in 2007, 12 years ago!

I'm always reluctant to post my reading plan because it seems inevitable that I'll change something but here's what I currently plan to complete this month:

The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason - Done
Peony in Love by Lisa See - DNF
The Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper - Done
Love and Ruin by Paula McLain - Done
Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly
Fashion Climbing by Bill Cunningham

I live in the South and we will begin to have warm weather most days in early March. Today I see the jonquils have pushed the tips of their leaves through the ground, even though the nights have been in the low twenties this week!

Feb 1, 5:40pm Top

Early congrats on your 12th Thingaversary!

Feb 1, 6:40pm Top

Happy early Thingaversary! Mine is the day before yours, but I joined in 2011.

Edited: Mar 1, 7:32pm Top

Origin - Library
Bingo - Two or more people on cover
CAT - Yes (Reading Through Time and Random CAT)
TBR - No
Book Club Selection for February
LT Rating 4.0
My Rating 3.5

Love and Ruin by Paula McLain

This is the second novel about Ernest Hemingway and one of his wives that McLain has written. The first was about Hadley Richardson in The Paris Wife. In Love and Ruin she is writing about Martha Gelhorn, Hemingway's third wife, and one of the first women war correspondents. When they met, Gelhorn had not experienced war but she was an adventuresome spirit, had written a published book and wanted to do something of importance. She was intrigued by Hemingway's suggestion she go to Spain as a freelance journalist during the Spanish Civil War. It was in Spain that a relationship was forged between the two that would lead to marriage and a painful divorce.

The book begins in 1936 and runs through 1944. Gelhorn was covering war and political unrest during much of that time. It is during those times that the book is most effective. When the Hemingway's are in their home in Cuba and both are writing, or trying to, it is less so. Action rather than relationships is where McLain is strongest. It's for that reason I'm rating the book at 3.5 although most LT readers are rating it a 4. If you liked McLain's previous books this one is likely to interest you too.

Edited: Mar 1, 7:44pm Top

Origin - Library
Bingo - No
CAT - Yes (Random CAT)
TBR - No
LT Rating 4.0
My Rating 4.0

Figures in a Landscape: People & Places by Paul Theroux

Theroux's newest book is a collection of 30 essays written between 2001 - 2016. They cover a wide range of topics including travel writing and favorite authors. As with his other nonfiction books, Theroux astounds with his many interests and intellect. Although not every essay interested me (Elizabeth Taylor, a dominatrix) most were enlightening and so well written they provided a positive reading experience whether I liked the topic or not.

Edited: Mar 1, 7:38pm Top

Origin - NetGalley
Bingo - Yes (Eastern Europe)
CAT - Yes (TBR Borrowed Book)
TBR - No
LT Rating 4.0
My Rating 4.5

The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason

We begin in Vienna in 1914. Twenty-two year old Lucius has disappointed his aristocratic parents by deciding to study for a medical career. After three years in medical school, he has only touched four patients, and one of those needed an ear cleaning. He decides to leave school and volunteer as a battlefield surgeon, seeing the war as an opportunity to get practical training from experienced doctors.

Assigned to a hospital in the Carpathian Mountains, Lucius makes the arduous journey in deadly winter weather. He is surprised when he arrives to find the hospital in a commandeered church. This is only the first of many surprises. When the door is answered and he asks for the physician in charge, he quickly learns from the only nurse that there is no other doctor, he is that physician. The previous physician left, possibly because of the typhus epidemic.

The hospital is in short, a horror. Patients inflicted with injuries the young doctor has never even imagined cover the floor. Nor did he imagine working with very few supplies and no equipment or sleep. The work is constant, grueling and the patients if they arrive alive, in agony. The nurse, a nun called Margarete, begins by teaching him triage. They will work together under the worst of conditions for a year and then their lives take an dramatic turn.

I like everything about The Winter Soldier. The setting, the atmosphere, and the characters meld into a realistic portrait of life and death in the field during WWI. I admired Margarite, sympathized with Lucius and felt like weeping over the patients. A review in the Washington Post says about Margarite: Actresses all over Hollywood should be jockeying to play her part in the inevitable movie adaption."

The Winter Soldier was named a Best Book of 2018 by the Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle, and was chosen as an NPR Great Read. I'm sure this will be a contender for the best book I read this year and one that I will think about for a long time.

Edited: Mar 1, 7:42pm Top

Origin - Shelf
Bingo - Yes (Siblings)
CAT - Yes (YA Series)
TBR - Yes
LT Rating 4.0
My Rating 3.5

A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper

I first read this in 2013 and decided on a reread. The first in a YA trilogy, it is the journal of Sophia Margaret Elizabeth Jane Clementine FitzOsborne and has the feel of I Capture the Castle. It takes place in 1936 on the small island of Montmaray, an independent kingdom. The somewhat crazed king, his 17 year old daughter and his orphaned nieces and nephew live on the island located between France and Spain in the Bay of Biscay. The island lies 200 miles from neighbors and is often at the mercy of a raging sea. Throw in a crumbling "castle" built on cliffs, the growing threat of WWII, and engaging characters for a good escape read.

Feb 25, 6:51am Top

>58 clue: Ooh, I'm adding this to my wishlist. I'm a sucker for a good set of essays.

Feb 25, 3:42pm Top

>59 clue: That sounds really good! Although possibly also too heartbreaking...

Mar 2, 9:49am Top

> 61 I hope you enjoy them Jackie.

>62 christina_reads: It's odd in that way, the horrific didn't stay with me, when I closed the book it was relationships I was thinking about. At the end a great burden is lifted from Lucius so it ends well.

Edited: Mar 3, 9:53am Top

Origin - Library
Bingo - Yes Book Bullet
CAT - No
TBR - No
LT Rating 4.0
My Rating 4.0

A Month in the Country by J. L. Carr

An old man, Tom Birkin is looking back on the summer he spent as a young man in Oxgodby, a village in Yorkshire. He had gone there to restore a medieval painting in a church. He goes affected by soldering in WWI and by an unfaithful wife but realizes as he prepares to leave at the end of summer that the work, the serene countryside and the villagers had all worked to aid his own restoration.

A small book that can be read quickly, it's better savored and deserves a reread.

Thanks to DeltaQueen for the BB.

Mar 2, 3:17pm Top

>64 clue: It's always nice to be thanked for book bullets but I don't think I can take credit for A Month in the Country cause I haven't read it. But it does sound like a book that would enjoy so I am adding it to my wishlist.

Mar 2, 5:01pm Top

>64 clue: That one's been on my wish list for years. Maybe your review will nudge it up a bit.

Mar 2, 10:38pm Top

>64 clue: - I absolutely loved A Month in the Country which was probably a BB for me from LT readers Cooperskye or RidgewayGirl - I cannot remember which one it was - so happy to see you also enjoyed it!

Mar 3, 4:47am Top

>64 clue: adding it to my wish list!

Mar 6, 3:38pm Top

>64 clue: I second your opinion of A Month in the Country, it is a very tender story and I will certainly re-read mine. I read it a couple of years ago and afterwards found the movie (with Colin Firth) on YouTube, which wasn't very good picture quality but still worth watching; an excellent adaptation of Carr's book.

Edited: Mar 7, 8:36pm Top


>65 DeltaQueen50: You are so right, I guess that I thought you are the culprit so often it must have been you. Actually my spreadsheet says only BB from LT.

>66 thornton37814:, >68 tess_schoolmarm: I hope you like it when you get to it. As you can see it has lots of fans.

Edited: Mar 7, 8:38pm Top

Origin - Shelf
Bingo - Yes - Alliterative Title
CAT - Yes - TBR
TBR - Yes
LT Rating 4.0
My Rating 3.5

The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes

The author's uncle is Julian Fellowes, the creator, writer and executive producer of Downtown Abbey and Jessica was the writer of the "official companion books". It's not surprising that her first novel is a mystery that involves upstairs and downstairs characters and takes place from 1920 - 1921.

The famous Mitford family is used for "upstairs" even though the plot doesn't need a famous family, it just needs one that is aristocratic. The crime is based on an actual murder, the unsolved murder of Florence Nightingale Shore, the goddaughter of the famous nurse. FNS is also a war nurse having served in the Boer War and in WWI.

A young woman is hired by the Mitford family as a nursery maid and she becomes involved in solving the mysterious murder along with a young man who is a railroad policeman. It's a good mystery and the writing is fine although I think it could have been shorter than it's 440 pages.

Mar 8, 3:43pm Top

>71 clue: Just when I had decided not to add any more to my wishlist, you've just hit me with a bullet! ! Mitfords? Fellowes? Definitely.

Edited: Mar 18, 3:13pm Top

Origin - Shelf
Bingo - No
CAT - Yes, Series CAT
TBR - Yes
LT Rating 3.85
My Rating 3.5

The Bookman's Wake by John Dunning

Cliff Janeway is a former Denver cop turned antiquarian bookseller. The mystery in this, the second in the series, revolves around the defunct Grayson Press, a small press that published limited editions. The owner was a brilliant book designer who even designed and made his own type. The press became defunct when he died in a fire twenty years before the book begins. Now Grayson's beautiful limited editions are extremely valuable, the most valuable being his edition of The Raven. When a Grayson book is stolen from a home in Taos, the young woman charged with theft and attempted murder fails to show up in court. When she's found in Seattle, Janeway gets involved by accepting the job to escort her back to Taos. It didn't turn out to be the simple job he expected.

John Dunning was an antiquarian book dealer in Denver for many years. His knowledge of the collectible book business is evident as is his knowledge of how a small press making limited editions works. Unfortunately those two things cause the greatest flaws with the book, he goes into excruciating detail that isn't really necessary to the plot and tires, even bores the most interested reader. I liked the complex mystery and the characters are well done as is the setting. And yes, I really do like the collectible book business angle, I would just like stronger editing.

Mar 17, 9:16pm Top

>72 VivienneR: I hope you like it when you get to it. Reality failed me a few days ago and I brought the sequel home from the library. I don't think I can get to it for a few weeks though so back it goes unread for now.

Edited: Mar 27, 10:14am Top

Origin - Library
Bingo - Yes, related to food.
CAT - No
TBR - No, Read for book club
LT Rating 4.0
My Rating 3.5

The Lost Family by Jenna Blum

You have probably heard in the last few days that almost as many people have committed suicide because of the Columbine school shooting as died in the rampage itself. That very circumstance is central to this book.

The book takes place between 1965 and 1986. Peter is Jewish and a survivor of Auschwitz. He lives in the U.S. now and is a chef with his own restaurant, Masha's. Masha was the name of his German wife. Masha and their 3 year old twins apparently died in a camp, he never found them or any record showing their names.

Masha tried to warn Peter that even though she was Aryan they were not safe and should leave Germany when they still could. But Peter refused to go, thinking they just needed to wait awhile and life would return to normal. Twenty years later, he is so consumed with guilt that he is unable to have a relationship with anyone other than his employees. The only people he sees on a regular basis other than that are his father's cousin Sol and his wife. Eventually Peter meets a young model, June, and begins to take the first steps to creating a relationship with her.

The first 80% of The Lost Family was very good, but the last 20% was a disappointment. June and Peter eventually married and had a daughter. The last of the book is primarily about her behavior at sixteen and is overwrought, overwritten and overpowers all that came before it.

Edited: Apr 7, 8:30pm Top


Origin - Shelf
Bingo - No
CAT - No
TBR - Yes
LT Rating 4.0
My Rating DNF

There were two I didn't get around to posting in May, I spent my time in the yard digging in the dirt when it wasn't raining.

My first DNF of the year is Peony in Love by Lisa See. I did like the first part of the book for it's setting in 15th century China, particularly the culture in relation to the lives of women. My problem came when Peony dies and becomes a ghost-wife. Just not my cup of tea.

Origin - Shelf
Bingo - No
CAT - No
TBR - Yes
LT Rating 4.0
My Rating 4.0

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

More than 5,000 LTers have this in their library! I had intended to read Station Eleven forever and when I heard Mandel was coming to our local university and would make a public presentation I quickly did. It was different than I expected, more character driven. I liked it, liked Mandel's presentation and enjoyed talking about it with the students sitting by me in the audience.

Edited: Apr 18, 9:01pm Top

Origin - Shelf
Bingo - Yes - artistic character
CAT - Yes - Alpha M
TBR - Yes
LT Rating 4.0
My Rating 4.0

Mademoiselle Chanel by C. W. Gortner

Gabrielle Chanel was the daughter of a laundress and of a man who deserted his young children when his wife died. The remainder of Chanel's childhood was spent in an orphanage where the nuns recognized her usual talent with a needle. It was her first lover that took her to Paris where her skill, ambition, and independence lead her to becoming Coco, an internationally known couture who still influences design almost fifty years after her death.

G. W. Gortner knows the fashion industry, having worked in all levels of it before becoming a fulltime writer. The Chanel story he tells (1895 - 1954) is well researched and reveals a complex and independent woman who was not always likeable. In some ways it is a cautionary tale because while Coco achieved a dizzying level of success, she also suffered from questionable decisions, sadness and loss.

This is the second book I've read by Gortner, he has written six others, and I'm surprised he's not better known. He writes very well in a woman's voice and I look forward to reading more by him.

Apr 7, 11:03pm Top

I also DNF Peony In Love even though I have enjoyed everything else this author has written. I am planning on reading The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo later on this year, it will be interesting to see how I react to this author's work.

Apr 18, 9:52pm Top

Origin - Shelf
Bingo - No
CAT - Alpha M
TBR - Reading Through Time, Calendar CAT
LT Rating 4.0
My Rating 4.0

O Pioneers! by Willa Cather

First published in 1913, O Pioneers! is about immigrants settling the frontier as Cather's family did.

Alexandra Bergson is a second generation settler, having inherited her family's land even though there were two boys in the family. When her father died, the farm was failing but through Alexandra's hard work and common sense, over the years the farm became successful. Her personal life suffered from devotion to the farm but when a former neighbor boy returns after decades away, she begins to hope for a relationship that will lead to marriage.

O Pioneers! is primarily a character study and each character, whether a spendthrift, adventurer or ill fated lover, was based on people she had known. To my thinking, the best and most arresting character though is the land which she knew, loved, and wrote about lovingly.

Edited: Apr 18, 10:33pm Top

Origin - Net Galley
Bingo - Yes, author with three names
CAT - No
TBR - No
LT Rating 4.5
My Rating 4.0

Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly

A couple of friends had been encouraging me to read The Lilac Girls when I discovered a prequel was available on Net Galley so I've read it first. Actually, both will probably stand alone (I haven't gotten to Lilac Girls yet).

Because I think so many will be reading it, I'm only going to make a few brief remarks so nothing will be given away. Lost Roses is about Eliza Ferriday, the mother of the Lilac Girls Caroline. Eliza has a secure life with a husband who loves her, a well respected family, and wealth. But as WWI creeps closer her life begins to change.

Chapters rotate between three women. There is Eliza, her friend Sofya who is a member of the Russian aristocracy, and Varinka, a servant in Sofya's home. It covers the years beginning in 1914 through 1918. It is not always comfortable reading since Sofya and her family are, due to her father's heritage, targets of the Reds. Beware, it is often edge of the seat reading and sometimes hard to put down.

Based on actual people and events, Kelly is at work on her next book which follows women of the same family through the Civil War.

Edited: Apr 18, 10:58pm Top

>78 DeltaQueen50: Well, I've read several and I've liked some and not liked some as well. Almost immediately after reading your post, a friend called to say she had just finished the best book and would be taking it back to the library the next morning and I should go get it. You guessed it, Lisa See's newest book, The Island of Sea Women! It was still available at the library a few days later when I was there so it's part of my teetering pile. I'm reading a short book now but will probably try it next although I'm behind with this month's (and last month's) plan.

Before I went to the library I checked Overdrive and it was going to be 16 weeks before it was available!

Apr 19, 2:17am Top

>80 clue: I have The Lilac Girls on my tablet waiting to read. Based on your review I'm going to read this one first!

Apr 19, 9:07am Top

>79 clue: O Pioneers is a favorite of mine. I read it in the 1980s for the first time, and I re-read it sometime after that.

Edited: May 3, 9:48pm Top

Origin - Shelf
Bingo - No
CAT - Yes - TBR
TBR - Yes
LT Rating 3.5
My Rating 4.0

Pray For Silence by Linda Castillo

Police Chief Kate Burkholder and her small force investigate the grisly murders of a seven member Amish farm family in the small town of Painters Mill, Pa. Kate had grown up in the Amish community herself and when she finds the diary of a rebellious teenage daughter she is reminded of her own troubled youth. In the girl's hidden diary there are secrets that indicate a stunning level of evil in Painters Mill.

This is the second of the Kate Burkholder series and although I liked the first (Sworn to Silence) I thought the relationship between Kate and her love interest was juvenile. Here the relationship is more mature and believable. While there is some repetition and the murder scene is unnecessarily detailed, the setting in the Amish community and Kate's knowledge of it gives the plot strength and interest.

Edited: May 3, 10:11pm Top

Origin - Shelf
Bingo - No
CAT - No
TBR - Yes
LT Rating 3.5
My Rating 3.0

Aunt Bessie Assumes by Diana Xarissa

Another series first. Aunt Bessie lives on the beautiful Isle of Man and knows most people in her community. On a bad weather day she takes her daily walk on the beach and literally stumbles over a dead man. DI Rockwell is new to the area and the first thing he learns in the investigation is that Aunt Bessie is a useful tool. In addition to knowing people, they trust her and soon she's assisting the investigation.

I enjoyed this, will continue the series and will be interested in how it develops.

Edited: May 3, 11:05pm Top

Origin - Shelf
Bingo - No
CAT - No (Group Read)
TBR - No
LT Rating 4.0
My Rating 4.0

Forfeit by Dick Francis

A sportswriter learns about an illegal and very profitable betting scheme. Not only does he find himself in danger but his wife, an invalid who cannot breathe unassisted, is threatened. First published in the 1960s, the plot holds up well and I found it to be very enjoyable reading.

A few years ago my parents neighbor who owned a feed store was found murdered in a stall at a local horse track. The investigators thought he had overheard something he shouldn't have while making a delivery. Though no evidence or at least not enough was found, they seemed to have a hunch but no one came forward to collaborate and no arrest was ever made. At least in Nerve justice was served.

May 6, 5:34pm Top

>85 clue: - Yay for someone else reading this series! It's what I turn to when I need a break from heavier reads. I want to be Bessie when I get older. :)

Edited: May 18, 4:48pm Top

Origin - Shelf
Bingo - No
CAT - No
TBR - Yes
LT Rating 4.0
My Rating 3.5

Murder in the Secret Garden by Ellery Adams

The third book in the Book Retreat Mystery series. During a retreat planned for a group called Medieval Herbalists, one of the members is found dead in Storyton Hall's secret garden. The garden is filled with deadly plants and is accessible only through one gate that is kept locked. The murderer was likely someone with knowledge of the plants. and of course that would be all of the Medieval Herbalists.

Edited: May 20, 9:56am Top

I hope to catch up on posting today. This will be my second attempt, I had several done last weekend but when I looked up I had accidently moved myself to another screen, so of course my reviews went out into space and I didn't have time to redo them. So aggravating! I've had some good reading so far this month and tonight I will begin There There by Tommy Orange and by most accounts it's a good one too.


Origin - Library
Bingo - No
CAT - No
TBR - No
LT Rating 4.5
My Rating 4.5

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

As I previously wrote, I don't always like Lisa See's books but I'm happy to report I can give this one 4 stars. A historical novel, it takes place on Jeju, an island off the southern coast of Korea. Young-sook's family has lived on the island for generations. Mija comes to Jeju to live with an aunt and uncle and the young girls quickly become close friends and they become sure they will remain friends for life.

Jeju was unusual in that it had a matriarchal family structure. The economy was traditionally dominated by fishing but when Younng-sook and Mija meet, the island men may work as fishermen but are not working as divers as they once did, women have taken their place. Called haenyeo, the job of "sea women" was usually passed from mother to daughter. The work was physically dangerous both due to the elements and due to their scanty resources. Goggles and knives were their only equipment, there was no apparatus for breathing support. When they dove, the women would collect abalone, conch, algae, etc. to be used as food for the family and to sell. Young-sook was proud to follow her mother and grandmother as a haenyeo and her mother, a leader among the divers, managed to get Mija accepted as well.

Their lives as friends began in the 1930s and 40s during Japanese Colonialism and we follow them through years of turmoil and hardship including WWII, and the Korean War. There is also personal turmoil as they choose husbands and begin to make decisions about how they will live as adults. In effect, this is a generational history of brave and independent women who lived very different lives than I have in a place that was unknown to me.

May 18, 8:45pm Top

>89 clue: Argh I hate when that happens, losing a post! It happens to me more often when I try to post from my iPad; something about the tablet makes me prone to hitting the wrong part of the screen and losing everything.

Edited: May 18, 9:22pm Top

Origin - Shelf
Bingo - No
CAT - Yes - Series
TBR - Yes
LT Rating 4.0
My Rating 4.5

When Will There Be Good News by Kate Atkinson

In the third installment of Kate Atkinson's series of Jackson Brodie Mysteries we get a complicated murder story with characters that are connected in unexpected ways. The tangled web begins with a mother and her children becoming victims of a madman as they walk down a quiet country lane. One child is able to escape by hiding in a corn field. When she is an adult we pick her story up again, the same year her family's assailant is being released from prison. But as with Atkinson's other books there are many sympathetic characters including Jackson Brodie himself as he, like the others, mulls over his past and the mistakes he is sure he made. The amazing thing about this book is that what seemed improbable, that Atkinson could bring it all together in the end in a plausible way, does happen.

Edited: May 26, 5:45pm Top

Origin - Shelf
Bingo - No
CAT - Yes - Calendar CAT
TBR - Yes
LT Rating 4.5
My Rating 4.5

The Martian by Andy Weir

Since I'm one of the last people in the world to read this there isn't much for me to say except that I think it's as good as most people do. There is plenty of scientific jargon but I didn't think that slowed it down or tempered my enjoyment of it. Even as Sci Fi based in actual science (the later is an assumption on my part), it is a can't put down human story.

Edited: May 18, 9:50pm Top

>87 LittleTaiko: I'm always in the market for a good escape book but I have a hard time finding one I like. I'm pretty sure this series is one I'll continue.

>89 clue: I always try to be careful but sometimes it happens and I can't figure out how. I know it comes down to me, but still...

>83 thornton37814: I can see myself rereading it in the future too. Actually although I've read several of her books, there are still one or two I'd like to get to.

>82 tess_schoolmarm: Tess, it makes sense to me, it seems really common now that prequels are published but I prefer reading in order. Sometimes the prequels seem rushed but that wasn't the case with Lost Roses.

May 19, 6:27am Top

>89 clue: You certainly have read some great books! I love Lisa See and this one will definitely go on my wish list!

Edited: May 26, 7:40pm Top

What a week this has been! Last Saturday five tornados came to our area. The damage closest to me was literally three streets behind me but I had no damage at all. There were no deaths and not even any serious injuries thank goodness, just destruction. My nephew had the usual; trees down, roofs blown off, broken windows, etc. Amazingly they didn't lose power in his neighborhood although a lot did. Oklahoma City sent 150 crews to help restore electricity and only one day of school was lost. I think everyone's power was back by Thursday morning. We started cleanup in his neighborhood a few hours after it came through and by Monday we had it pretty much piled up for pickup and the sanitation department had it all picked up within a few days.

Then we could turn our attention to the catastrophic flooding coming our way. The Arkansas River surrounds our city on three sides and it was flooded with rain from Colorado and Oklahoma. The flood stage is 20 feet and it is expected to crest Tuesday at 41. Again I escaped the threat because I live on a hill but just below me are friends whose house now has water in it and there will be more. We started Wednesday either boxing what was on their 1st floor and taking it to storage or moving it up to the second floor. We aren't sure the second floor will be safe so valuables and keepsakes were removed from both floors and taken elsewhere.

Basically I haven't done anything since Friday night but lay about, there isn't much that can be done now. So below is what I've read in the last week, one book completed and 2 small ones read. Oh, I forgot to say during all of last week I was babysitting 5 cockatiels who just scream but also a parrot who seemed to think I should carry on a conversation with her. But what is there to say to things like "I'm a dirty bird?" Only after dark was it quiet enough to read until last night when they went home.

Edited: May 26, 6:36pm Top

Origin - Shelf
Bingo - No
CAT - No
TBR - No
LT Rating 4.5
My Rating 5.0

1000 Books To Read Before You Die: A Life-Changing List by James Mustich

I'm absolutely giddy about this book. I know it seems at first glance like it's just another you've got to read this list but it's much more. I saw it on display at the library a couple of weeks ago and of course had to bring it home. Although it's over 900 pages by the time I spent 20 minutes with it I was ordering a copy. The Washington Post called it "the literary bucket list" and it is so. And I love the author who hasn't just scribbled down a list, he spent fourteen years working on it. The writing is insightful and charming and...have I said love this book?

James Mustich has done most things related to books. Among them he cofounded a mail-order catalog called "A Common Reader" and spent 20 years publishing it. He writes, "I surrounded myself with books which spontaneously sprouted and grew into piles in whatever room I inhabited." Translated that means of course he's one of us.

As he says more than once, a book about 1000 books could take so many shapes. This particular list isn't a list of great works. He wanted to make his list "expansive in its tastes, encompassing classics, and commercial favorites, flights of escapist entertainment and enlightening works of erudition." And since the project in its title involved a lifetime, there had to be room for children and YA books. Genres include (at least) fiction, poetry, science fiction, memoir, travel writing, biography, children's books and history.

So how would you go about making such a list? "What if I had a bookstore that could only hold 1000 volumes, and I wanted to ensure it held not only books for all time but also books for the moment, books to be savored or devoured in a night?"

And how about this: "To get lost in a story or even in a study is inherently to acknowledge the voice of another, to broaden one's perspectives beyond the confines of one's own understanding. A good book is the opposite of a selfie..."

Authors are arranged in alphabetical order. The book he thinks is their best is given as much space as he needs in writing about it. The first book, Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey gets a full page as many do. Shakespeare gets 13. The edition of each book is given, the translator if there is one, other books the author has written, similar books you might want to try and adaptations if there are any.

Okay, I'm stopping now but I think unless you read one genre you should look at this.

Edited: May 26, 7:24pm Top

Origin - Shelf
Bingo - No
CAT - No
TBR - Yes
LT Rating 4.0
My Rating 4.0

Old Herbaceous by Reginald Arkell

I had an old first edition copy of this, it was published in 1953, and seeing it in the 1000 Books book above, I pulled it off the shelf and read it in one sitting (159 pages). Mustich writes "Old Herbaceous marries the comic propriety of Jeeves to the poignant sentiment of Mr. Chips, setting the nuptials in the flowerbeds of a country house garden". And that's pretty much it.

In the 1880s Bert Pinnegar, an orphan who had just finished school and had no where else to go, became a helper in the garden of a village estate. The irascible head gardener expected little from him but others, particularly the estate owner, recognized a talent in Bert. The story unfolds over his long life, all of it spent working on the estate.

I agree there is a similarity to Goodbye, Mr. Chips and anyone liking it would probably like this as well. As far as gardeners go, I liked reading the names of the various plants in the garden and was surprised more than once when a plant was used differently than I knew it to be. A pleasant quiet night's reading.

May 26, 7:57pm Top

>97 clue: Book bullet!

Edited: May 28, 7:57pm Top

Origin - Library
Bingo - Yes - Children's book
CAT - Yes
TBR - No
LT Rating No reviews
My Rating 4.0

Star Tales: North American Indian stories About the Stars by Gretchen Will Mayo

These are stories that originally came from anthropologists working for the Bureau of American Ethnology around the turn of the 20th century. There are sixteen myths from different tribes about the moon and stars, each only a few pages long. Published in 1987, it is regarded as a classic. Not only are the stories engaging, the black and white illustrations by the author are wonderful. I hope children still have access to this book and that parents and grandparents see value in reading it aloud!

May 26, 9:16pm Top

Yikes, five tornadoes, AND flooding! I hope this week is much less eventful for you.

May 30, 12:35pm Top

>96 clue: - I heard him talk about the book when he was a guest on the podcast What Should I Read Next and thought the book sounded wonderful! I really should get a copy for myself.

Glad you survived all the crazy storms - that is quite a large number of tornadoes!

May 30, 3:05pm Top

>95 clue: Five tornadoes and flooding! You've had a busy week. And babysitting five cockatiels and a parrot as well!! You deserve a medal - or a vacation!

May 30, 4:12pm Top

>96 clue: I need another list of books like a hole in the head, but I do like the breadth of this over the 1001 books list. hmmm. Maybe.

Edited: Jun 8, 2:41pm Top

>101 LittleTaiko:, >103 Helenliz:

I don't normally enjoy reading from a list of whatever kind, but this is somewhat different in that there is commentary I like reading, sort of a Nancy Pearl experience. These are books that as a bookseller and reader he thinks are best of the genre and of the author. I also like that he has surprised me with some of his inclusions. About 30 years ago I read everything I could find by Paul Horgan. He wrote both fiction and nonfiction and was well known but I don't think many people know about him now. Mustich included him in the history section choosing Great River: The Rio Grande in North American History. It's not surprising this would be his choice, it won the Pulitzer and Bancroft prizes for history in 1954. I had totally forgotten about it and have been able to get it on Kindle, at over 1000 pages (two volumes), I'll save it for winter reading when I'm not so busy.

It boils down to this, I'm not so much taking direction from the book as much as I'm taking BBs.

Edited: Jun 8, 4:53pm Top

The flooding I mentioned above has indeed been catastrophic. Many homes on the river have over 10 feet of water in them. We've had flooding of the river before but nothing as extensive as this, it's being called a 500 year flood. One of the men that lives in a flooded neighborhood very close to me, I'm on a hill and he's at the foot of it, said it was his third 100 year plus flood in ten years! Whoops, we may need a revision.

I think it surprised us all that small creeks and streams that run through the city and normally drain into the river, have instead backed up with river water to such an extent that they flooded entire neighborhoods that have not flooded before. My nephew's neighborhood is one of those, luckily he didn't receive major inside damage, but some homes a few blocks over have 6 feet of water in them.

I've been able to volunteer in some way every day the last two weeks but I'm laid low today as we say in the South. When I checked in this morning I was sent home (than you, thank you!) because there are many people out today who want to help out but can't during the week. One of the saddest situations is across the river in a little Oklahoma town that is just plain poor. They have one elementary school and it has totally flooded, everything lost. Someone I know who teaches there said she didn't see how it could be ready for school in late August, they won't be able to even get into it for at least another week. Flooding wasn't expected that far from the river so nothing was moved out. One thing I know for sure, the town won't have money for recovery, Oklahoma is in bad financial straits, and the federal government moves too slow if it moves at all.

Edited: Jul 7, 6:40pm Top


Origin - Library
Bingo - No
CAT - TBR Challenge
TBR - No
LT Rating 4.0
My Rating 4.5

When the English Fall by David Williams

"English" in the title refers to anyone who is not Amish. In this dystopian novel, a solar storm disrupts civilization in the same way it often does in novels of this genre. What is different is that our narrator is Amish, lives in an Amish farming community that unlike the English, doesn't rely on those things that have been lost. The Amish have food put by, the knowledge to produce more and their power is primarily provided by men or animals. Our narrator tells us with despair, fortitude and sympathy what happens to them when desperation in the form of English city dwellers comes into their lives.

Well written with a very likeable narrator, When the English Fall is an entertaining and thoughtful novel. I don't read many dystopian books, but I'm glad I read this one.

Edited: Jul 7, 6:39pm Top

Origin - Shelf
Bingo - No
CAT - No
TBR - No
LT Rating 4.0
My Rating 4.5

The Gown by Jennifer Robson

The author, who holds a doctorate in British economic and social history explains that she, her editor, and her agent were tossing around ideas for a novel that would be set soon after WWII. After several lackluster topics were discussed she started thinking about what was important to people of the time. That's when the possibility of writing about the wedding of Princess Elizabeth late in 1947 surfaced. Robson had no interest in writing about the wedding from the future Queen's viewpoint because she doesn't think it's possible to really know the Queen. Once she thought of the extraordinary wedding dress the Princess wore, she knew it could be a topic that a novel about the average woman's social and economic status could be woven around.

Two women are the primary focus of the story, both embroiderers of the beautiful gown. Ann is English and lives with her sister-in-law, her brother having been killed in the Blitz. Miriam's story unfolds slowly. She has arrived from France where she had worked for a couturier and is hired by the designer Hartnell where Ann has been employed 11 years. They become friends and when Minnie, Ann's sister-in-law immigrates to Canada, Miriam comes to live with Ann.

What makes the book more than a book about a dress is that Robson focuses the story on the daily life of Ann and Miriam. The hardships women faced rebuilding lives and the struggle to overcome the past are central to the plot. We eventually learn that Miriam is Jewish and had been imprisoned at Ravensbruck.

Although a novel, The Gown is very believable and although I'm growing weary of books set in the WWII time frame, I thoroughly enjoyed it. There is a third person, Ann's granddaughter, that doesn't know her grandmother was even employed by a couturier, much less that she was involved with the wedding of the century. Chapters rotate between Ann, Miriam and Heather who isn't involved until 2016. My preference would be a more straightforward approach without the granddaughter's character.

Robson actually located and was able to interview a woman who had worked on the beautiful dress and questions and answers from the interview are included. Norman Hartnell, who also designed the Queen's coronation dress, comes across as a very kind man and an accomplished artist. I'm rather intrigued by him and would like to read his autobiography, which undoubtedly due to the success of this book, is being rereleased later this month. I should also note that Miriam, was Miriam Dassin, and later became a well known artist.

Jun 9, 6:39am Top

>107 clue: A great view! I'm taking a BB on that one!

Jun 10, 2:06pm Top

>107 clue: I picked this book up a number of months ago and your review makes me eager to get to it.

Jun 13, 4:19pm Top

>106 clue: I'm not a big fan of sci-fi/dystopian either, but I loved that book!

>107 clue: That one sounds very interesting. I'll look for it.

Jun 30, 7:22pm Top

>106 clue: Me too Lori, I had taken a BB from you for it.

>108 tess_schoolmarm:, >109 DeltaQueen50: I hope you both like The Gown when you get to it. At some point I'll take a look at her previous books too.

Edited: Jul 7, 6:38pm Top

Origin - Shelf
Bingo - No
CAT - Yes, Random CAT
TBR - Yes
LT Rating 4.0
My Rating 4.5

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

This is the last book in the five Inspector Hugh Grant mysteries written by Tey. It was published after her death in 1951 to immediate critical acclaim. It has continued to be included on many best lists and falls in at number 4 on the Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time by Mystery Writers of America.

Inspector Alan Grant has broken his leg and is lying bored and fractious in the hospital. His friend Marta Hall suggests he research an historical mystery and brings him copies of historical portraits from the National Portrait Gallery to study. Among them is one of King Richard III. The portrait hooks Grant who is not very familiar with history but very experienced reading faces. Although the King was accused of the most heinous crimes, Grant sees a gentle, kind and wise man in the portrait.

Grant's research begins by hunting down experts that can lead him to resources, meaning books since he's confined to bed, and how to locate them. It's fun to follow along as he uses books and the logic he always does when solving a crime and justifying his arguments.

I read this long ago and had a great time reading it again. If you aren't familiar with King Richard it would be a good idea to brush up a little before reading Daughter. I went to Wikipedia for a quick review and while reading kept my tattered and torn copy of The Sunne In Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman at hand for it's genealogical chart. Now, not only do I want to reread all of Tey's books, I want to reread the Penman, all 900 plus pages, again!

Jun 30, 11:57pm Top

>112 clue: I've made note of the series and put it on my wish list (but there are already 1000 books on the list before it). I have studied a lot of European history and English/Scottish specifically, but haven't gone any further back than Henry VIII. I already have (on audio) A Rose for the Crown so that will be my intro to Richard III. Great review!

Jul 1, 11:11am Top

>112 clue: I haven't read any of Penman's work yet, but I really want to give her medieval mystery series a try and perhaps When Christ and His Saints Slept also.

Jul 3, 8:26pm Top

>114 thornton37814: I have read a few but certainly not all of her books. I would say to choose a time when you can read a few hours at a time, everything I've read is hard to put down!

Edited: Jul 7, 6:35pm Top

Origin - Shelf
Bingo - Yes, translation
TBR - Yes
LT Rating 3.5
My Rating 3.0

Pietr the Latvian by Georges Simenon

Simenon was a Belgian writer, the Jules Maigret series being the best known of his 500 or so novels. Maigret is a French detective and this is the first in a very long series, written in 1931. The last in the series was published in 1972.

I think any Maigret fan would want to read this one, but not surprisingly it is far from the best. If you are not reading the series already, I wouldn't start here. It takes place in Paris in 1930 and the setting is very atmospheric. Cold, wet and dark. The writing is rather immature, certainly not what it will become over time. The plot can be confusing, he tends to jump around unexpectedly, but basically it concerns a man committing fraud and posing as someone he isn't and Maigret sticks to the case when most would abandon it.

Edited: Jul 7, 6:35pm Top

Origin - Library
Bingo - No
TBR - No
LT Rating 4.0
My Rating 3.5

The Skeleton Garden by Marty Wingate

This is the fourth in the Potting Shed Mysteries and has a more complex mystery than the previous three. Pru Park has married Christopher, formerly with Scotland Yard, and they have moved to Greenoaks to look after the estate while the owners are on an archeological dig. Pru is a professional gardener and her brother, also a gardener, works there as well. While a dying tree is being uprooted, they find the tree is planted over a WWII German fighter plane that appears to have crashed there during the war. Some of the older villagers remember the incident well and are sure the pilot was found in the nearby woods. If that's so, whose skull lies with the plane?

Jul 6, 7:52am Top

>117 clue: Looks like the series may be improving.

Edited: Jul 13, 5:25pm Top


Origin - Shelf
Bingo - No
TBR - Yes
CAT - Alpha C
LT Rating 4.0
My Rating 3.0

Celine by Peter Heller

Celine lives in New York City with her husband. She is an artist that likes to work with bones and is also is a PI. As an investigator she primarily finds lost family members including birth parents.

A young woman named Gabrielle comes to Celene for help solving the decades old cold case of her missing father, Lamont. Lamont had been a professional photographer, his work often appeared in National Geographic, and he disappeared after the drowning death of Gabrielle's mother. Lamont was last seen in Yellowstone and Celene and her husband drive there in their camper. The mystery is eventually solved, although there were a couple of surprise elements I had seen the ending coming long before it did.

Any one sentence in the book was well written but there was a lot of clutter and it drove me nuts. Heller tried too hard to create a unique character in Celene. Instead of showing us her character, he listed her many, many, many attributes and would sometimes write an unnecessary scene to confirm what he had told us about her.

I've read so many good remarks about Heller I hope this isn't always his style, I have three more of his books on the shelf and I was really looking forward to them. Based on this book, I'd say he's not for me.

Jul 7, 6:33pm Top

Origin - Shelf
Bingo - No
TBR - No
CAT - Calendar CAT, Culinary Arts Month
LT Rating 4.0
My Rating 4.0

Save Me The Plums by Ruth Reichl

Reichl has written several memoirs, her newest concentrates on the ten years she spent as editor of Gourmet magazine. She begins with how she got the job she hadn't applied for and ends with the parent company, Conde Nast, stopping publication of it. When Reichl became editor her primary focus was on updating the look, feel and coverage of the magazine to appeal to common cooks. I pulled up some covers from before and after Reichl and the difference is immediately seen. It's a quick read and it's fun to look into a work life in magazine publishing.

Jul 15, 9:37am Top

>120 clue: A BB for me--I think it will fit on my Bingo Card!

Jul 16, 1:57pm Top

I just came by this morning to thank you as you recommended Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon to me a while back. I loved the book so a big Thank You for bringing it to my attention.

Edited: Aug 1, 10:17am Top

Origin - Shelf
Bingo - No
TBR - Yes
CAT - TBR Challenge, author has multiple books on shelf
LT Rating 4.0
My Rating 4.0

Started Early, took My Dog by Kate Atkinson

With the 4th book in the Jackson Brody series Atkinson continues writing complex characters intermingled in a tangled plot. Jackson, now a PI, is rambling around Yorkshire trying to find the birth parents of a woman who was adopted as a small child. At the same time he's thinking of finding a place to settle down. His ruminations about the countryside, the towns and the people he meets are often funny and sometimes touchingly poignant. He has the habit of imagining conversations with his first wife and those became tedious but I like this character so much I can overlook his bad habit.

Tracy Waterhouse has retired. Early in her law enforcement career she was called to the murder scene of a prostitute and discovered her four year old son had been alone with the body for days. Haunted by this memory Tracy commits a shocking crime.

The fifth book in the Jackson Brodie series has just been released and I have it on hold at the library. I should have it in a few weeks and look forward to reading it, hoping that more will follow.

Edited: Jul 21, 7:57pm Top

Origin - Shelf
Bingo - Yes, Weather Related
TBR - Yes
CAT - TBR Challenge, author has multiple books on shelf
LT Rating
My Rating

Second Wind: A Sunfish Sailor, an Island, and the Voyage That Brought a Family Together

I like memoirs and I also like historian Nathaniel Philbrick. Unfortunately I didn't like his memoir. Philbrick and his family live on Nantucket. When his children were small he decided he would work from home and take care of the kids while his wife worked as a realtor. It was a plan that worked well for a few years but eventually he began to want something more. He had started sailing at a young age and eventually became a competitive sailor. For a period of ten years though he had attended to the kids and his writing and had not sailed at all. His wife had been a very good sailor too, in some ways better than he was so it was a sport they shared.

The memoir was his experience returning to sailing and teaching his children to sail. I have sailed very little and know nothing about the various boats and boating equipment which he discusses frequently and in depth. It would probably be a good book for anyone who does sail but I was bored beginning to end.

Jul 21, 7:43pm Top

>122 DeltaQueen50: I'm glad you liked Blue Highways Judy. It will always be on my favorites list. I've read his other books and although I like them, this has always been special and my favorite travel book.

Edited: Jul 21, 8:59pm Top

>121 tess_schoolmarm: Hope you like it when you get to it Tess. I thought it was good and it's a fast read.

Edited: Jul 28, 6:13pm Top

Origin - Shelf
Bingo - No
TBR - Yes
CAT - Random CAT - Birds
LT Rating 3.5
My Rating 4.0

A Guide to Birding by Joseph Michael Forshaw

This is a good guide written by four experts in the birding world. My favorite part of the book is called Understanding Birds and covers topics like birds both real and imaginary, the origins of birds, life cycles, etc. The last half of the book is an identification guide and the photography is beautiful. This part of the guide is organized by type of habitat: deserts, urban areas, grasslands, etc.

Too big to be a field guide but full of useful information, especially to anyone new to the hobby of birding, this guide is enjoyable arm chair reading.

Edited: Jul 30, 2:10pm Top

Origin - Shelf
Bingo - No
TBR - No
CAT - No, Book Club
LT Rating 3.5
My Rating 3.0

The Secret of Clouds by Alyson Richman

Maggie found she didn't like working in the corporate world and returned to school to become a teacher. It was the right decision for her, she loves teaching. In her second year she is asked to tutor a sick child in his home two days a week. She's not sure she's ready for that but with the encouragement of her school's principal she accepts the challenge. The child's name is Yuri and his parents are immigrants from Ukraine and Yuri suffers with a congenital heart defect that may have been caused by the nuclear accident at Chernobyl . Maggie's relationship with Yuri becomes a big influence in her life and is central to the plot.

Richman wanted to write this book as a tribute to teachers and I wanted to like it. Unfortunately some key characters are written without depth and the plot is very predictable. The best parts of the book are when Maggie is with the children or with her friend Suzi, a fellow teacher. Unfortunately those aren't enough to make the book more than an average read at best.

Edited: Aug 3, 8:20pm Top


More than half of the reading year gone! One of my goals for this year was to pull books from my towering TBR that were rated 4.0 or above. Just for fun, I compared them to my own rating. So far I've disagreed with LT 14 times out of 44 books read. Very reasonable I think.

* I tend to rate cozy mysteries 3.0 or 3.5 but I've enjoyed all that I've read so maybe I hold them to too high a standard?

* Three rated below 4.0 were book club reads and my book club is very laid back, no pressure to read the month's selection and I don't always. After a short discussion of the month's selection we hear comments from members about what they read during the month and that I really enjoy.

* Five rated below 4.0 were read for CATs or Group Reads.

* 75% have come off of my shelf.

What does all of this mean? Nothing, I'm just an analytical person who overthinks! It does prove though that I'm good at buying books.

Edited: Aug 3, 5:54pm Top

Origin - Shelf
Bingo - No
CAT - Yes, Series CAT
TBR - Yes
LT Rating 4.5
My Rating 4.5

The Man On The Balcony by Maj Sjowell

Martin Beck, a Stockholm police superintendent, leads the investigation of what appears to be a serial killer of children. Fear has gripped the city and the pressure to make an arrest grows every day. Eventually two witnesses are identified, one a mugger who was at work in the park where the murder took place and the other a mute th4ree year old.

First published in 1968, this police procedural continues to be compelling and relevant, the writing spare and clean. In most mysteries an investigation boils down to one or two investigators. One of the things I like about this book is that almost the entire police force is engaged in gathering information, one of the most important pieces coming from a lowly young policeman overhearing a conversation in a bakery.

I'm looking forward to the fourth in the series, they get better and better.

Edited: Aug 3, 6:16pm Top

Origin - Library
Bingo - No
CAT - Yes, Calendar CAT
TBR - No
LT Rating 3.5
My Rating 3.5

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke

I started this cozy while I waited for a friend to have dental surgery. I had about 10 pages left when she came staggering into the waiting room. It was fun, a good choice for the circumstances, and worked for a Category Challenge! When I need another light read this series will be on my list.

Edited: Aug 3, 7:58pm Top

Origin - Shelf
Bingo - No
CAT - Maybe
TBR - Yes
LT Rating 4.5
My Rating 4.5

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

The narrator, Frank Drum, recounts the summer of 1961 when he was thirteen. Normally life in New Bremen, Minnesota was quiet and steady, but during this summer there were three violent unnatural deaths that rocked everyone in the community.

In addition to Frank and his father, the Drum family included Frank's younger brother Jake, their older sister Ariel, and their mother. Gus, a man who had served in WWII with Frank's father, lived in the church basement and dampened memories of war with drinking. Due to his own war experiences Nathan had decided to forsake the law career he had prepared for and turned to the ministry, sacrificing his wife to a life she neither wanted nor was good at.

Regardless of how I look at Ordinary Grace, whether it's as a mystery, a family saga or a coming of age story, it's a fine book. Well written with characters deserving of our sympathy and a complicated plot that flows remarkably well. It's sure to be a favorite of the year, and probably one for years to come.

Aug 4, 2:10pm Top

>132 clue: I loved Ordinary Grace as well and I am excited to hear that he has another stand-alone book due to be out in September called This Tender Land. I've already put a hold on it at the library.

Aug 6, 7:33am Top

>132 clue: I'm in agreement with you, Ordinary Grace was a 5 star read for me.

Group: 2019 Category Challenge

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