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Bonnie (brenzi) Takes Another Stab at this Reading Thing

75 Books Challenge for 2019

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Jan 1, 3:13pm Top

Edited: Jan 1, 3:15pm Top

Hi everyone. I’m going to take another stab at this thing in 2019 and hopefully do a better job of paying attention to my own thread. At any rate, I did manage to have a stellar year of reading in 2018 and almost doubled the number of books read from the year before when I was hampered by a reading funk. And I read so many great books thanks to many of the recommendations I get from all of you so thank you very much.

Of course my two sidekicks keep me pretty busy too.

Mia- age four and Cole 18 months

Edited: Jan 2, 7:32pm Top

Best of 2018


Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
The Last Crossing by Guy Vanderhaege
In This House of Breed by Rumer Godden
The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton
The Friend by Sigrid Nunez
The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

Book of the Year

Paul Scott’s 4 book series The Jewel in the Crown

Nearly as good

The Cazalet Chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard’s 5 book series


The Warmth of Other Suns by Isobel Wilkerson
Educated by Tara Westover
1947: Where Now Begins by Elizabeth Asbrink
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyou
American Mirror: the Life and Art of Norman Rockwell by Deborah Solomon

Edited: Feb 17, 7:27pm Top

Books Read in 2019


Darktown - Thomas Mullen - audio - 4.2 stars
The Overstory - Richard Powers - eBook - 5 stars
Evening in Paradise - Lucia Berlin - audio
The Chosen - Chaim Potok - OTS - 4 stars
Friday on My Mind - Nicci French - Audio - 4 stars
The Pursuit Of Love - Nancy Mitford - OTS - 4.2 stars
Started Early, Took My Dog - Kate Atkinson - audio/OTS - 4.5 stars


The Bolter - Frances Osborne - OTS - 4.5 stars
Lightning Men - Thomas Mullen - audio - 4.4 stars
Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love - Dani Shapiro - eBook - 4.3 stars
How to be a Woman - Caitlin Moran - audio - 4 stars


Total Books: 11

Author Gender
Male: 4
Female: 6
Joint: 1

Author Status
Living: 8
Dead: 3

Publication Medium
Trade: 3
eBook: 2
Audiobook: 6

Fiction: 8
Nonfiction: 3

Library: 8
Mine: 3


Edited: Jan 1, 3:31pm Top

Edited: Jan 1, 3:36pm Top

This is my last book of 2018 but it's such a good one I have to say a few words about it.

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

5 stars

I lost my brother to complications from the AIDS virus in 1993. He was 38 years old and eight years younger than me. It was a harrowing time for my family and one I wouldn’t want to relive so when I heard about this book and its concentration on the AIDS crisis in Chicago in the late 80s I didn’t really think I’d ever read it. It was just too close to home, too much of a return to a traumatic time and just too too hard. But for some reason I kept coming back to it, again and again and when I noticed it on several end of the year Best Books of 2018 lists I thought, why not? Maybe I’ll learn something or maybe it will help to settle something for me.

What I found was a book brimming with both sadness, which I expected, and hope, which surprised me. The young gay men in the story were all ambitious, smart, loving human beings dealing with the horrific loss of their friends and the probability of their own death with admirable courage and grace. The way in which the author depicted these characters makes me wonder if she had some personal connection to someone with AIDS because they were all so well-drawn.

There are two timeframes: 1986-92 and 2015 when Fiona, the sister of the first victim we encounter in the narrative, Nico, goes to Paris in search of her estranged daughter and stays with one of the survivors of the crisis that she knew in Chicago. In doing so she is forced to come to terms with her past and the effect the crisis had on her and her ability to establish a good relationship with her daughter, who was born as one of the main characters lays dying in the AIDS ward of the same hospital. As she looks back on her life the realization of the power the AIDS crisis had on her life becomes apparent.

Powerful, important and compassionate I think this is a book everyone should read.

Jan 1, 3:21pm Top

Ooh I'm first! Happy New Year Bonnie! I'm glad you're back for more fun in 2019.

Jan 1, 4:04pm Top

Welcome back! My first 2019 visit and I pick up a BB... 😀

Jan 1, 4:19pm Top

Glad you're here, Bonnie!

And The Great Believers is now firmly on my list. Lovely review.

Jan 1, 4:32pm Top

>7 lauralkeet: Hi Laura. Great to see you.

>8 drneutron: Happy to oblige Jim lol

>9 katiekrug: Thank you Katie. I hope you like it as much as I did.

Edited: Jan 1, 4:41pm Top

The Overstory by Richard Powers

And on audio:

Darktown by Thomas Mullen

Jan 1, 4:35pm Top

Happy reading in 2019, Bonnie!

Jan 1, 4:42pm Top

Happy New Year, Bonnie. I love your "best of 2018" list. I've read some, and others are on my WL. It's great to know I have some stellar reading ahead.

Ah, The Overstory. I hope to get to it soon.

Jan 1, 5:09pm Top

Beautiful reads in 2019, Bonnie.

Edited: Jan 1, 6:18pm Top

>12 FAMeulstee:. Thank you Anita😊

>13 BLBera: oh yes Beth, you definitely have some stellar reading ahead.

>14 richardderus:. Thank you so much Richard😊

Jan 1, 6:29pm Top

Happy 2019
A year full of books
A year full of friends
A year full of all your wishes realised

I look forward to keeping up with you, Bonnie, this year.

Edited: Jan 1, 6:35pm Top

>6 brenzi: This message was still a placeholder when I posted, Bonnie, so I didn't see your review until just now. First of all, I am so very sorry for your loss. My husband and I bought our first house from a couple, one of whom I knew from work. Both died of AIDS within the next few years, about the same time as your brother. Their deaths made us reflect on a couple of men we knew in college in the mid-80s; one was dealing with some very strange health issues at the time of graduation. We did not keep in touch so have no idea what came of them, but would not be surprised to learn they were affected by the virus.

Last summer we saw an outstanding exhibit at The Whitney in New York, featuring the work of artist/activist David Wojnarowicz. It was intense and very moving. It helped us to better understand what it must have been like to be part of the gay community in those early years, before anyone knew what was going on.

The Great Believers looks like an important book.

Jan 1, 6:46pm Top

Happy New Year Bonnie! I'm dropping off a star and hoping to keep a bit more caught up in 2019.

>6 brenzi: I have wondered about reading this one and your comments are compelling. My partner lost a number of friends to AIDS in the 1980s; we have one friend who has been living with HIV since the early days of the epidemic (which took his partner so very quickly). I'm so sorry to hear about your loss, too.

Wishing you all the best, including many wonderful reads, in the coming year.

Jan 1, 6:47pm Top

By the way, The Overstory was one of my top reads in 2018. I hope you enjoy it!

Edited: Jan 6, 1:34pm Top

I love this meme:

Describe yourself: Moon Tiger

Describe how you feel: Waiting for Wednesday

Describe where you currently live: In This House Of Brede

Where/What are you eating?: Bird by Bird

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Across the China Sea

Your favorite form of transportation: Bluebird, Bluebird

Your best friend is: Jane Steele

You and your friends are: The Great Believers

What’s the weather like: In a Sunburned Country

You fear: Home Fire

What is the best advice you have to give: How to be Safe

Thought for the day: Go Tell it on the Mountain

How I would like to die: High Rising

My soul’s present condition: Fateless

Jan 1, 7:21pm Top

>16 PaulCranswick: I’d love to keep up with just about anyone Paul haha. I promise to try harder.

>17 lauralkeet: Thank you Laura. It was a truly horrific experience made so much worse because we were so ignorant about the disease and had to try and help my parents understand. No internet at that time so very hard to get reliable info. We found a gay doctor in the city who was trying to care for all the cases that were emerging if you can imagine his caseload. We were thankful to find him because the family doctor didn’t want any part of it, again if you can imagine. My father had never come to terms with my brother’s gay lifestyle and never fully understood his illness or it’s cause. My mother understood fully and was his primary caretaker with my sister and I helping her. I’d like to see the Wojnarowicz exhibit.

>18 EBT1002:. Hi Ellen and Happy New Year. The number of people touched by AIDS is not limited to the victims. So many people have a connection with family members or friends who are left to carry on when the victim is gone. So sad.

I’m hoping to catch up with many more people this year including you.

Jan 1, 7:21pm Top

Happy New Year, Bonnie and Happy New Thread. Looking forward to sharing another year of books with you! You are always one of my favorite people to follow around. Good Best of List! I really want to get to The Great Believers.

I like those current reads too. The Overstory made my best of list and I also really enjoyed Darktown.

Jan 1, 9:00pm Top

>6 brenzi: How powerful to read about your personal connection to The Great Believers - thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience. I'm looking forward to following your reading this year.

Jan 1, 10:09pm Top

Hi Bonnie and Happy new year! Your sidekicks are adorable! Have a happy year of reading!

Jan 2, 8:58am Top

Happy 2019!!

Jan 2, 2:44pm Top

The Overstory was my top read (contemporary books) last year, and Darktown was pretty high up there the year before. I keep waiting for the Kindle of its sequel to come down in price, or for my library to get it on Kindle, but so far it’s been a long wait.
I’m so sorry about your brother. It must have been difficult for your whole family, but I’m glad your mother (and you and your sister) were able to care for and support him. Unfortunately, so many AIDS victims back then were abandoned by their families. I’m adding The Believers to my WL.

Jan 2, 2:49pm Top

I read The Great Believers last year and thought it was really impressive. I can understand it resonating that much more given your personal loss. I'm glad it's getting so much attention, including the 2018 National Book Awards shortlist.

Jan 2, 3:16pm Top

Thanks for the personal review. I'm going to add this book to my list. When you said the book was brimming with both sadness and hope I was reminded of a film I saw this year, The Ordinance Project. It recounts the AIDS activism taking place in Kansas City in the late 80s-early 90s and features both archival footage and recent interviews with some of the activists in the film. This was eye-opening to me, as someone who grew up in Kansas, because I've never thought of Kansas City as being particularly progressive, particularly queer, or particularly political. I was moved to see the activism that took place then and it gave me hope that people won't just lie down in the face of adversity and injustice. The Ordinance Project - KCUR

Jan 2, 7:32pm Top

>22 msf59: Hi there Mark, I look forward to following you around and picking up your scraps as usual. I just finished Darktown and really enjoyed it. The audio worked well for me on my walks.

>23 Cait86: Hi Cait, good to see you. I normally probably wouldn’t have shared that but it just made sense to me in this case. The Great Believers is a wonderful book that I want others to try.

>24 Carmenere:. Hi Lynda and Happy New Year. My sidekicks keep me mighty busy lol.

>25 ChelleBearss: Happy New Year Chelle!

>26 arubabookwoman: Hi Deborah, it’s great to see you. I’m already enjoying The Overstory although I’m only about 10% in. What made my brother’s illness so distressing on top of the obvious was the fact that we wer all so ignorant about what was happening. It didn’t help that Reagan wouldn’t address or try to fund the research that was needed for political reasons. Disgusting.

>27 vivians: Hi Vivian, I hadn’t realized you’d read it. I hope a lot of others will too.

>28 originalslicey: Thank you so much for that link. I really appreciate it. As far as Kansas City goes I think (some) people everywhere wanted to help where they could. I see why you were surprised but it speaks well of those individuals who may have faced some backlash. Thank you for visiting.

Edited: Jan 3, 9:27pm Top

I'm not known as an audiobook person but I decided to switch from my Apple Music listening on my daily walk and try out an audiobook for the first time in many years. I'm really happy I did.

1. Darktown by Thomas Mullen

4.2 stars

After WWII, officials in Atlanta deigned to allow eight black men to become policemen (beat cops) on the force, a first for the city. Well, under certain conditions that is: they were only allowed to serve in the black areas of the city, they needed to report to a crudely set up station in the Y and were never to set foot in the actual police station which was limited to whites only, and they couldn’t actually investigate any crimes. It is under these conditions that we meet rookie policemen Lucius Boggs and Thomas White when the narrative begins.

It quickly becomes apparent that there is a monumental amount of graft, corruption and outright murder going on among Atlanta’s finest and the upstanding black rookies are disturbed enough by the death of a young black woman to ignore the edicts of those in charge and look into the crime in front of them even though that poses an enormous risk to them personally.

I listened to this on audio and the reader, Andre Holland, a black actor, was pitch perfect and lent a dramatic authenticity to the narrative that made it all the more enjoyable. But he had fabulous material to work with. This was an elegant police procedural that highlighted the inherent racism in the city. On the one hand I was outraged and on the other found the story itself immensely compelling and satisfying. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series. Highly recommended.

Edited: Jan 13, 6:46pm Top

Enjoyed that audiobook experience so much I'm starting another one today:

Evening in Paradise by Lucia Berlin

I absolutely loved her book A Manual for Cleaning Women and hope this one is just as good.

In the meantime I'm absolutely dazzled by The Overstory although I'm only 15% into it. It's composed of vignettes, one of my very favorite narrative styles.

Jan 3, 11:30am Top

I found you! And I hope to see lots more of you this year.

>6 brenzi: I am sorry to hear about the loss of your brother and how personally hard it was for your family. The Great Believers sounds great. As well as Overstory, Darktown and American Mirror: the Life and Art of Norman Rockwell. Dang you! :)

>2 brenzi: Love the picture of your little angels--they are so cute!

Jan 3, 11:32am Top

>6 brenzi: >30 brenzi: Two book bullets right off the bat! Thanks for the recommendations, Bonnie!

Jan 3, 11:49am Top

It’s nice to see you choosing and enjoying an audiobook, Bonnie. I find there are so many instances where they come in handy. They are my ‘go to’ for car rides, walking and knitting.

Jan 3, 11:57am Top

>32 Berly: Hi Kim, I've made a resolution to be more attentive here on LT in 2019 Let's hope it doesn't go the way of some other resolutions I've made haha. Love adding to your TBR lol.

>33 alcottacre: Stasia! Hello and welcome. And happy to oblige;-)

>34 NanaCC: Hi Colleen, in the past I had a difficult time concentrating on audiobooks but this one worked very well. I hope it continues.

Jan 3, 12:40pm Top

Star dropped and looking forward to visiting often in 2019! Happy new year!!

Jan 3, 1:16pm Top

Darktown gores on my list, Bonnie. But another series? I also loved the first Berlin collection and look forward to this one. I need to retire!

Edited: Jan 3, 1:37pm Top

>30 brenzi: Someone around here -- can't remember who -- read Darktown last year, and it ended up on my list of "series I want to start someday". Your review is a good reminder.

>37 BLBera: I need to retire!
Be careful what you wish for, I did that and am reading fewer books than when I was working!

Jan 3, 2:52pm Top

Darktown was fantastic! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I was like you, both satisfying and outrageous.

Jan 3, 6:03pm Top

>36 RebaRelishesReading:. Hi Reba. I think we all start the year with good intentions don’t we? Lol

>37 BLBera: Well Beth, it’s a plus that the series only has two volumes so far.

>38 lauralkeet: I’m reading fewer books than when I was working too Laura and have ever since I retired. Hmmmmm

>39 drneutron: Yes Jim, I was furious at times. Especially considering that we’re on a slide into the past now.

Jan 3, 7:55pm Top

Bonnie, thanks for sharing your personal connection to The Great Believers. Terri Loeffler raved about the book in Joplin. I am currently next in line to get it from the library.

No resolutions for me this year. I even added a caveat to my list of challenges that I might be dipping in and out of them. Required Reading and I don't get along very well.

P.S. I am ignoring your enthusiasm for The Cazalet Chronicles. I don't mind adding one book at a time…but five?!? Plus, our library doesn't have them. ;-) See, you made me check!

Jan 3, 8:46pm Top

But....but....but Donna I really think you’d enjoy The Cazalet Chronicles and a five book series is hardly a series at all really. I read one book a month for five months but I didn’t want them to end. Vivian loved them too this year. At least you checked hahaha.

Edited: Jan 3, 9:29pm Top

Looks like some great reads to start out the new year! I need to get the Berlin collection.

Jan 4, 12:55am Top

A while back, maybe even a few years back, Kindle had a great deal on The Cazalet Chronicles but haven’t gotten around to reading them yet. If they’re nearly as good as the Raj Quartet, I better make that soon.
ETA iPad autocorrect is so annoying. It turned “Cazelet” into “Canaletto.” I mean, really......

Edited: Jan 4, 10:57am Top

Yes, will definitely second you on the Cazalets. I listened to the whole series last year (some of which were read by Penelope Wilton, of Downton Abbey fame) and enjoyed every second.

Jan 4, 5:56pm Top

Happy New Year, Bonnie!

Good review of The Great Believers. I lost a friend to AIDS that same year (1993). It's particularly hard knowing how far medications have come since then. I have your same reservations about reading this one, but your review is persuasive.

I'm glad you liked Darktown! Me, too. I hope you enjoy The Overstory as much as Debbi and I did.

Edited: Jan 4, 7:22pm Top

>43 alphaorder: Hi Nancy, great reads is exactly right🤗

>44 arubabookwoman: I think the iPad is famous for it’s auto correct snafus Deborah. Kindle is where books go to die for me. Not that I don’t use it. I use it all the time but mostly it’s eBooks from the library. I have no idea why I have this aversion to my own Kindle purchases🤷‍♀️

>45 vivians: It was definitely a satisfying read Vivian.

>46 jnwelch: I actually will probably listen to Lightning Men as my next audio Joe. So good. And I’m really enjoying The Overstory.

Jan 4, 7:14pm Top

>47 brenzi: I know what you mean about Kindle books. I buy them and then there they sit. I have managed to read some when we're traveling (I try hard not to back "real" books when traveling except by car) but they do tend to stack up.

Jan 4, 9:09pm Top

Hi Bonnie! I’ve had Darktown on my shelves since last Christmas. I need to bump it up, obviously!

Jan 4, 9:15pm Top

Hello brenzi!

>30 brenzi: I, too, thought the Darktown audiobook was fantastic, so well written and performed. I recently finished Lightning Men, the follow up, on audio as well. It was good, but the narrator was different. I hope you enjoy it as well.

Jan 6, 9:08am Top

>48 RebaRelishesReading: Exactly Reba. I haven't even looked to see whats sitting in my Kindle library in quite a while.

>49 Copperskye: Hi Joanne, I hope you enjoy Darktown.

>50 brodiew2: Hello there Brodie. I'm looking forward to Lightning Men soonish.

Jan 6, 9:11am Top

So somehow this happened. How is this even possible? Mia was just a baby a few weeks, er months...ok years ago and here she is skiing at the age of four. Wahhh she's growing way too fast!

Jan 6, 9:58am Top

Happy Sunday, Bonnie. Ooh, I WANT to read Evening in Paradise. I was hoping to get it for Christmas. I love this woman's work. Maybe, I will kick off February with it. Glad you had a good time with Darktown. The sequel is pretty solid too.

>52 brenzi: How cute! Go Mia!!

Jan 6, 10:12am Top

>52 brenzi: What a beautiful girl, Bonnie. They do grow up too fast. Scout will go to school this year!

Jan 6, 11:15am Top

>52 brenzi: "way too fast" -- tell me about it. I'm taking my granddaughter shopping today to buy an outfit as her 16th birthday present. Surely it was only last week I was changing her diaper!!

Jan 6, 11:32am Top

Aww, Mia looks so cute on those skis. I guess it stands to reason, living in upstate NY, that she'd be doing this sort of thing at such a young age. I've never been on skis in my life and at this point can't imagine hurtling downhill but kids have no fear, do they?

Jan 6, 1:39pm Top

>53 msf59: I’m enjoying my second audiobook of the year Mark. It took me two stories to get used to this narrator but now the Berlin stories are coming through nicely.

>54 BLBera: Thanks Beth. Yes it’s unbelievable how fast they grow and how the time flies.

>55 RebaRelishesReading:. Haha I bet she’d love hearing you say that Reba😉

>56 lauralkeet: I skied when I was in college and for a few years afterward Laura and both of my kids skied. My daughter still skis and has skied all over including Austria and I see her in Mia now. You pretty much have to be fearless to tackle those hills. My daughter in law grew up in the Poconos and she still skis too.

Jan 7, 10:34am Top

>52 brenzi: That's awesome and adorable!
I can't even ski at, um, 30ish

Jan 7, 10:39am Top

>52 brenzi: ...that's MIA?! How?! When?! OMG

Darktown stares balefully at me from the TBRs. I need to bookhorn it in!

Happy new week!

Jan 7, 1:33pm Top

>57 brenzi: We had a great time but I didn't mention diapers lol. We did spend some time talking about college though...that'll be here before we know it.

Jan 7, 6:14pm Top

>58 ChelleBearss: Not too late to learn Chelle haha.

>59 richardderus: Oh yes Richard do try to get to Darktown. Really good.

>60 RebaRelishesReading: College. Now there’s a scary thought Reba.

Jan 7, 6:21pm Top

>60 RebaRelishesReading: >61 brenzi: Tell me about it. My oldest granddaughter started college this fall!

Jan 7, 6:47pm Top

Bonnie, I am late in getting round to your thread. As always, you have such wonderful reviews. That first one spoke to me - thanks so much for sharing. I am so very sorry for your loss. I am adding the book to my list. I already have Darktown in the stacks, or that would have also been a direct hit.

Your grandchildren are adorable! Love the photo of Mia in her skis!

Jan 7, 9:12pm Top

>62 alcottacre: Wahhhh!! I’m commiserating with you Stasia.

>63 Crazymamie: Thank you Mamie. I’m late getting to a lot of threads myself. I’ll hopefully make my way around though. I’m determined to maintain a stronger presence this year. I hope you like The Great Believers. I thought it was very powerful.

Jan 11, 7:53pm Top

The Overstory by Richard Powers

5 stars

As I read this book I kept thinking this has got to be Powers’ masterpiece, the best thing he’s ever done, his major life achievement, something he’s been working on for most of his life. It’s hard to think anything different now that I’ve finished the book. The detailed research is rendered on each and every page: trees, all kinds of trees, linden, oak, maple mulberry, banyan, douglas fir, fig, beech aspen, ash, and the mighty American chestnut to name a few, are all brought to life on these pages. To say I knew nothing about trees would be the understatement of all time. But I do now and I found this book compelling on so many levels.

Nine individuals whose lives have been impacted by trees in one way or another, somehow find a connection through those very trees and they make the decision to come to the aid of the virgin forests that are still in existence before it’s too late. They all act in different ways yet with the same objective. But the real protagonist is that virgin forest and each individual tree that adds something to our lives each day.

Make no mistake, this is a magisterial novel written with nuance and intelligence that makes you think. Powers is able to write with such urgency and style that he can’t help but convince readers that trees are able to communicate in many ways. (Scientific evidence proves this.) I felt such a connection with these characters and also with these trees. I would’ve never thought.

Very highly recommended.

Jan 11, 8:20pm Top

Currently Reading:

The Chosen by Chaim Potok

Edited: Jan 11, 9:07pm Top

>6 brenzi:

Thank you for the incisive review of THE GREAT BELIEVERS.

My first husband (long divorced, best friends until his death)
was one of the first men who dealt with AIDS in Chicago in the late 70s.

Because he was Canadian, he was eligible for (very expensive) treatments in Toronto and so was not affected by Reagan's death-dealing hatred.
He lost nearly all the American friends he cared for, eventually becoming addicted to Cocaine and dying from an overdose.

Brilliant, Creative, Handsome, Ambitious, and Full of Love and Generosity...

Jan 11, 9:29pm Top

Bonnie! You read many wonderful books in 2018, including The Great Believers. I'm not sure if words can suffice to say how powerful your review is! Stunning! Incredible! I am very sorry for your loss. You write with such candor and beauty.

I'm always amazed at the trials we face with grace and beauty.

I've added this book, The Great Believers and Darktown , The Friend and the Last Crossing All are not on reserve at my local library. I hope I can pick them up tomorrow. The first to be read will be The Great Believers

I sincerely say that I admire you tremendously. I know you also lost your husband a few years ago.

Now,, God has given you two beautiful grand children!

Life is truly amazing.

I'm am so very glad that you are part of the 75 challenge group, and I'm sorry I didn't get to your thread earlier.

Happy 2019.

Jan 12, 12:25am Top

I’m so glad you loved The Overstory. It was my book of the year last year, and Richard Powers has long been one of my favorite contemporary authors-I will read anything by him. My other particular favorites by him are The Goldbug Variations and The Time of Our Singing. (And maybe a few others).

Jan 12, 8:17am Top

One of these days, I'll read The Overstory. I've been thinking about getting it from the library, but your review has me thinking it's something my husband might also enjoy which would make it worth buying for keeps.

Jan 12, 11:03am Top

Lovely review of The Overstory, Bonnie. That one is already on my list from last year, or I would have added it because of your review.

Happy Saturday to you!

Jan 12, 1:46pm Top

Powerful stuff here, Bonnie. Thank you for sharing and for the wonderful review of The Overstory. I wouldn't have considered it were it not for your description.

Jan 12, 5:42pm Top

I had The Overstory for Christmas. I’m really looking forward to it.

Jan 12, 7:46pm Top

Hope you enjoy The Chosen as much as I did.

Jan 12, 10:50pm Top

Bonnie - You have started the year with great books. My reading, with the exception of Ali Smith's Winter has been good but not great.

Classes are starting, though, so The Overstory will have to wait for summer break.

Jan 13, 9:19am Top

>67 m.belljackson: Thank you Marianne. Your former husband sounds like a wonderful person who really understood what was happening in the AIDS community. It was because of people such as him that eventually medical assistance began to improve and people were able to survive the HIV diagnosis. I'm sorry his demise was so tragic.

>68 Whisper1: Thank you so much Linda. I really missed the 75ers during my extended reading funk and even last year I seemed to peter out on my own thread I hope to do a lot better this year because this community is such an amazing bulwark against anything sad or depressing that happens in RL. If you will recall, my granddaughter Mia was born three days before my husband died so she will always have a bittersweet but hopeful role to play in my life. She certainly has done exactly that so far.

>69 arubabookwoman: I will have to read more of Richard Powers work Deborah. I don't know how it is that I took so long to discover him.

>70 lauralkeet: After early reviews of The Overstory it didn't sound like a book that would appeal to me Laura. I've never really been an activist (although these days we all need to be) and my interest in Botany is negligible to say the least But after so many 75ers wrote admiringly of this book I trusted their judgment and of course they were all right.

>71 Crazymamie: Good morning Mamie. I hope you enjoy The Overstory when you get to it.

Jan 13, 9:30am Top

>72 RebaRelishesReading: Hi Reba, I'm not the only one who loved The Overstory just the latest I guess. I hope you enjoy it when you get to it.

>73 SandDune: Hi Rhian, push that book to the top of the pile lol.

>74 thornton37814: I'm pretty much loving it so far (about a third of the way through) Lori.

>75 BLBera: Hi Beth, The Overstory will be there when you are ready for it. That's the great thing about reading...the books don't really go away. Ever. I'm still hoping to get to The Narrow Road to the Deep North that won the Booker a few years ago. I'm sure that's not on anybody else's radar at this point.

Jan 13, 9:34am Top

Morning, Bonnie! Happy Sunday. How is The Chosen coming along? I LOVED My Name is Asher Lev. My second 5 star read of the year.

I just requested Winter from the library. I am disappointed, I didn't get to it last year.

Jan 13, 3:48pm Top

>78 msf59: I’m enjoying The Chosen very much Mark. I haven’t read the Ali Smith books because I was so turned off by The Accidental and There But For The. Too gimmicky. But I know a lot of the 75ers loved the newest ones so I may take another stab at her. Oh that sounds brutal haha.

Jan 13, 6:56pm Top

Evening in Paradise by Lucia Berlin

I listened to this on audio and I think that may have been a mistake. Short stories don’t work that well for me as it’s hard to get a thread going reading in short bursts while I walk, (while freezing). These stories had some common characters but I had trouble keeping them straight. I managed to finish the whole thing and I did find some of them enjoyable but I’m not rating this book. My favorite was the story about a woman who kills her husband’s returning drug dealer so he can’t drag him through the mud again. Maybe at some point I’ll read the book and see if the charm of her first collection A Manual for Cleaning Women, is there and I just couldn’t find it in this format. Oh and I absolutely hated the narrator. There’s that too.

Jan 14, 9:41am Top

>79 brenzi: Hi Bonnie - I was also hesitant to read another Ali Smith after not enjoying the two you mentioned. But I thought Autumn was absolutely terrific and Winter was good too.

And I so understand your comments about listening to short stories. I find that the audiobook versions don't distinguish the endings and beginnings of stories, either with a sufficiently long pause or a change in tone, and they therefore all blend together. I have a hard time remembering plots of entire books, so in general I'm not a fan of short stories because I can't seem to get absorbed enough.

What a cold walk this morning! I think I look like the Michelin man, all bundled up in multiple layers. Once in a while I see a sleek Lycra-wearing jogger and wonder how it's possible to bear 14 degree mornings with so few clothes.

Jan 14, 12:17pm Top

>80 brenzi: Oh dear. That's a perfect storm of unpleasant circumstances. I have A Manual for Cleaning Women here somewhere, awaiting its turn. Here's to hoping for a better experience next read.

Jan 14, 8:10pm Top

>81 vivians: Hi Vivian, it’s mighty mighty cold and it’s supposed to be in single digits this weekend. Not sure if I’ll do it then or if I’ll retreat to the gym and use the treadmill.

I actually love short stories. Alice Munro is one of my absolute favorite authors. That’s why I think it was the audio that just didn’t work. I’m fairly new to audio but I’ve picked up the fifth book in the Frieda Klein mystery series and I’m loving it on audio.

>82 richardderus: oh you must read A Manual for Cleaning Women Richard. I think you’ll love the grittiness of the stories.

Jan 14, 8:51pm Top

Such darling grand children , Bonnie. I can certainly imagine that little Mia would always have a bittersweet place in your heart. So much emotion packed into so few days. I wish you a good year ahead and some great reading days!

Jan 14, 9:35pm Top

>80 brenzi: Sorry to hear that Evening in Paradise didn't work for you on audio. I prefer short fiction in print, although I have tried a few on audio and it can be hit or miss.

Jan 15, 3:28am Top

>65 brenzi: I know, I know!! It's on my WL. So is #6. Great reviews.

Jan 15, 11:42am Top

>65 brenzi: Bonnie, reading your review and remembering the awe I felt reading The Overstory made me happy to the bottom of my toes.

>69 arubabookwoman: Thanks for more Powers love, Deborah. I have the two books you cited in my Read Soon group.

Jan 15, 9:01pm Top

>84 vancouverdeb: Thanks Deborah. Life has a way of working out doesn’t it?

>85 msf59: I think I may read it in print Mark. From the reviews I read it’s just as gob smacking as A Manual for Cleaning Women.

>86 Berly: Well I had to bring them up Kim lol.

>87 Donna828: He’s a new author to me Donna but I will be looking for Deborah’s suggestions too.

Jan 16, 2:22pm Top

So much good reading you're doing, Bonnie! Excellent review of The Overstory. I hope that convinces a few more people to pick it up. Thumb from me.

I loved The Chosen, and I hope it goes well for you. I'll be watching for your reaction to Evening in Paradise; I did enjoy A Manual for Cleaning Women.

Jan 16, 8:13pm Top

>89 jnwelch: Thanks Joe. I have started the year with a bang but my reaction to Evening in Paradise is in >80 brenzi:. It didn’t work for me on audio but I may try it again in print. I’m enjoying The Chosen.

Jan 17, 7:39pm Top

The Chosen by Chaim Potok

4 stars

This was a wonderful story of love, family and friendship. Set in the Jewish community of Williamsburg in Brooklyn during the waning years of WWII teenagers Reuven, a modern Orthodox Jew and Danny, a Hasidic Jew have an inauspicious meeting that leads them to their warm but certainly unusual friendship. Their fathers play a large role in the development and then the brief destruction of their friendship.

As their friendship developed the boys would spend most of the weekend studying the Talmud. The fact that teenagers would spend so much time, endless hours, studying their faith as well as their school subjects (during the week they spent most of their free time in the library) seemed unimaginable to me but I have to assume this went on at that time, in a community where their faith is the most important thing to them. It may still go on for all I know because I’m so ill-informed on the subject. At any rate, the friendship that the boys develop turns when WWII ends and the Holocaust is revealed, rocking both communities. Reuven’s father ferociously fights for the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel while Danny’s father is vehemently opposed to Zionism. This leads to a rift between the two families that takes some time to heal. It is through this healing that the love the two friends have for each other overcomes any problems they may experience.

I would’ve rated this book higher than I did but the lengthy sections devoted to the dissection of the Talmud seemed like a little too much religious dogma. I understand the role it played in the narrative but I found it dreadful, on the whole. I can’t imagine today’s high school students enjoying this part of the book.

At any rate, the story of family, love and friendship made this a very enjoyable read.

Jan 17, 7:47pm Top

Currently Reading:

These Truths: A History of the United States by Jill Lepore

And on audio:

Friday on My Mind by Nicci French

Jan 17, 8:56pm Top

>91 brenzi: I think I've read this, but I have no memory, Bonnie. I should pick it up.

Jan 18, 2:22pm Top

The Chosen was just added to my Powell's list :)

Jan 18, 7:39pm Top

I hope that, wherever in the afterlife Potok is, he's enjoying the bejabbers out of his mini-renaissance here. Lovely appreciative review.

Jan 18, 8:26pm Top

>93 BLBera: Well Beth, maybe you should 😀

>94 RebaRelishesReading: I hope you enjoy it Reba😊

>95 richardderus: Thanks Richard. And yes, he should be very pleased😃

Jan 18, 8:38pm Top

Happy Friday, Bonnie. Good review on The Chosen. I hope to get to that one later in the year. I am glad you are joining the crew on These Truths. I am into Part 2 and really enjoying this one.

Jan 18, 9:10pm Top

Thanks Mark. I’ve barely started These Truths but I love her writing style. Hope to get a good chunk read this weekend.

Jan 18, 11:09pm Top

>91 brenzi: I read this in my 20s, I think. I remember liking it. Have you read My Name is Asher Lev? It's truly exquisite.

Jan 19, 9:47am Top

Thanks for your thoughts on Evening in Paradise. I removed it from my wishlist. Too many other books out there I want to read.

Jan 19, 10:51am Top

All caught up with you, Bonnie. I've never attempted short stories on audio because I had a feeling I'd have similar problems as Vivian mentions.

Jan 20, 4:25am Top

Good start to the reading year, I see, Bonnie. I am enjoying my own Potok read too - I am reading Asher Lev.

Have a lovely Sunday.

Jan 20, 5:09pm Top

Bonnie, I kind of enjoyed those passages dissecting the Talmud in The Chosen. I do agree that younger audiences would be bored and skipping over those parts. I am learning so much about the Jewish faith from this book. I will probably finish it tonight. It's a reread for me. I think I first read it in the 1970s and can only recall the eye injury to Reuven and the fact that I loved the book. I went on to read some others by Potok but have little memory of them so there will be more rereading in my future. Happy Sunday!

Jan 20, 6:38pm Top

>99 EBT1002:. Hi Ellen, I hope to get to My Name is Asher Lev sometime later this year.

>100 alphaorder:. That’s always the thing isn’t it Nancy? There’s a pile of books waiting so why get bogged down by something that’s just not that great.

>101 katiekrug: yes Katie, I guess I should’ve realized that but I’m somewhat newish to audio books. I know better now.

>102 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul, I hope you’re enjoying Asher Lev. I hope to get to it later this year.

>103 Donna828: I’m glad you’re enjoying it Donna. I don’t think the story would’ve suffered from its omission but that’s just my opinion. I’d never read it before but I find that my memory of hooks from that long ago is generally pretty dim.

Jan 23, 12:33pm Top

Hi Bonnie!

First time visitor ever, although I’ve seen you around over the years. It seems like we have similar reading interests.

>6 brenzi: I’ve reserved the one (!) copy of The Great Believers at my rural library – thank you for a moving and informative review. I’m so sorry about your brother and can’t imagine the trauma your family faced.

I read and was deeply moved by And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts and after it somehow disappeared from my shelves acquired another copy ten years ago. I’ve been meaning to re-read it so perhaps now’s the time.

>92 brenzi: I’m reading These Truths too – so glad Kim set up the group read. AND, I love the Frieda Klein series although I have only read the first two. Waiting for Wednesday is on my shelves. Too many books, too little time. *smile*

Jan 24, 7:30pm Top

Hi Karen, great to see you here. Thank you for your comments on The Great Believers. It was a very powerful read for me but I think anyone would appreciate it. I will look for And the Band Played On. I know the title but I haven’t read it so thanks for that.

I’m just about finished with Part One of These Truths but I still need to post on the group thread. And I finished Friday on My Mind last night. Another great installment in the Frieda Klein series.

Jan 25, 7:22pm Top

I finished Part One of These Truths by Jill Lepore last night as part of the group read that Kim started. It's very good and loaded with bits of information that comes as news to me, even though I consider myself to be a fairly aware of U.S. history. For instance, I didn't know the role that slavery played in the Revolutionary War and didn't know that the British offered American slaves their freedom if they would come and fight with the British. Like I said, bits of information. I'll be happy to read this at the rate of one part per month through April since its a really long book.

I also finished Friday on My Mind by Nicci French on audio. I'm really enjoying this series about the London psychologist Frieda Klein who likes to solve crimes. She usually manages to get herself into a dire situation at the end of the novel but of course she comes out on top otherwise the series would have to end. And that won't happen for a few more books lol.

Edited: Feb 11, 7:32pm Top

The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford

These Truths by Jill Lepore

And on audio:

Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson

Jan 25, 8:46pm Top

Oh, you're all booked up for a solid weekend. Happy reading, Bonnie, and some Mitfordian bliss floating your way.

Jan 26, 7:14pm Top

Omg Richard how have I had Nancy Mitford’s book sitting on my shelf since Borders had their going out of business sale an won ago and never picked it up? A hundred pages in and it’s absolutely wonderful. Can you see my 🙃

Jan 26, 10:42pm Top

Hi Bonnie!

I need to finish part one of These Truths. I'm quite enjoying it but seem to have gotten distracted this past week.

I have The Great Believers on my wish list; I'm anxiously awaiting its softcover release. A dear friend gave me a copy of How to Survive a Plague several months ago. Karen's comments about And the Band Played On, which I remember from many years ago, made me think of it. So much to learn from how we approached -- or did not approach -- that epidemic.

Jan 26, 10:59pm Top

Lots of fun with Started Early, Took My Dog. I can't until the next Jackson Brodie comes out later this year.

Jan 27, 6:59pm Top

>112 vancouverdeb: I'd been saving Started Early, Took My Dog since I heard she might not write any more Jackson Brodie novels so I'm finally reading it now in anticipation of the new one Deborah. And it's soooo good. The audio is excellent.

Jan 27, 7:17pm Top

Happy Sunday, Bonnie. Hooray for a new Jackson Brodie. I am far into These Truths and started Part 4. She really has done an excellent job here.

I also just finished Winter. Are you reading this quartet? It is really good.

Jan 27, 11:41pm Top

I'm so excited about the upcoming Jackson Brodie *swoon*

And I am very glad that you liked Darktown ALMOST as much as I did. I'm just irritated that there isn't a book #3 yet!! I think these are brilliant.

And now I need to bump up Overstory.

Jan 28, 7:15pm Top

>111 EBT1002: Hi Ellen, you're right. We still have a lot to learn about all the mistakes that were made during the AIDS crisis. I just read that they have a drug that could end the epidemic ( which is still raging in third world countries, especially Africa) that costs $6 to produce yet the drug company that charges it charges $1600. Outrageous.

>114 msf59: Hi Mark, I haven't read the Ali Smith books. A couple of her earlier books really turned me off so I haven't tried this Quartet although I know a lot of the 75ers love it. I may give it a whirl at some point.

>115 Chatterbox: Hi Suzanne, good to see you. I am really enjoying Atkinson. I'd forgotten how rapier like her wit is and her ability to turn a phrase is just incredible. She's one of my favorites.

I'll be reading Lightning Men soon.

Jan 28, 8:10pm Top

>116 brenzi:
I was turned off by a few of Ali Smith's earlier books but loved Autumn. Need to go find Winter, before Spring arrives.

Jan 29, 9:37am Top

>117 alphaorder: Totally agree. I had tried Ali Smith and just thought her writing wasn't for me, then read Autumn and loved it. Kate Atkinson is one of my all-time favorites. I love the Jackson Brodie series but I think her best was A God in Ruins.

Jan 29, 7:10pm Top

>117 alphaorder: Apparently I need to read this Quartet oh Ali Smith's Nancy. Too many people are enjoying it and I can't bear to be left out lol.

>118 vivians: I have rediscovered how much I love Atkinson Vivian. I had almost forgotten her gift for turning a phrase and of course her sly wit even though I read Transcription last fall. It didn't have the two qualities I love most about her writing. I would have a hard time choosing a favorite between A God in Ruins and Life After Life.

Jan 30, 11:20am Top

I want to join in the Atkinson love, Bonnie. I also loved Behind the Scenes at the Museum.

Jan 30, 11:22am Top

All caught up with you, Bonnie. SO great that you are rediscovering your love of Atkinson - I have big love for Jackson Brodie.

Edited: Jan 30, 11:31am Top

Hi, Bonnie. You've hit me with two definite BBs, The Great Believers and Darktown.

Thank you for sharing about your brother. In the early 1990's, I spent a summer as a chaplain at a major university hospital, and one of my units was the medical floor where patients with AIDS usually wound up. It was heartbreaking in so many ways, both the physical and emotional toll on the patients, and the complex family dynamics. My sympathies to you and your family.

Jan 30, 11:51am Top

>119 brenzi: Now that I know there will be a new Jackson Brodie coming in July, I'm thinking abut rereading the early ones. What a dilemma - so many other books!!!!

Jan 30, 2:58pm Top

I'm crawling around the threads to say I'm not dead but woefully unread, both books and threads. Happy polar vortex.

Jan 30, 3:38pm Top

And here are the reviews I'm sure you have all been waiting for with bated breath lol. Since I'm hunkered down at home completely snowed in I was able to finish two books and polish off reviews for each. Funny how much you can get done when you're snowed in looking out at the deep freeze lol.

The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford

4.2 stars

This book was originally published in 1945 then paired up with Love in a Cold Climate in 1982 and made its way to my shelf the year that Borders had their Going Out of Business Sale, whenever that was. Anyway, why it has languished on my shelf for so long is another mystery of my reading life that will go unanswered. I loved Mitford’s witty writing and the description of the UK between the wars was incredibly well done and reminded me in many ways of my recently completed reading of The Cazalet Chronicles.

The narrative is relayed by Fanny, daughter of the ubiquitous The Bolter, named for her tendency to leave one husband (and child) after another and bolt to someone else (more about the factual character who bears this name later**). Fanny lives with her Aunt Sadie and brash Uncle Matthew who scares the living daylights of most people but can usually be prodded to comply with reasonable requests like a great big teddy bear. We all know someone like that.

Fanny relates the story of her cousin Linda, Sadie and Matthew’s daughter, who is frantically searching for love. She marries twice, both times in a mistaken fog of love. Meanwhile WWII is raging and effecting everyone in one way or another but Mitford’s wry wit comes through page after page:

“The food Sadie, it’s the food. I know how difficult it is for you in wartime, but we are all, in turns, being poisoned. I was sick for hours last night, the day before Emily had diarrhea, Fanny has that great spot on her nose, and I’m sure the children aren’t putting on the weight they should. The fact is, dear, that if Mrs. Beecher were a Borgia she could hardly be more successful---all that sausage mince is poison, Sadie. I wouldn’t complain if it were merely nasty, or insufficient, or too starchy, one expects that in war, but actual poison does, I feel, call for comment.” (Page 191)

How I love this kind of droll commentary. It will win me over to your point of view regardless of how well done the narrative is. The characters are all well drawn, but hardly sympathetic. Linda is not the type of character who would attract understanding. But I loved this book and look forward to going on to its companion book, Love in a Cold Climate.

**Since I knew about the connection to the real Bolter at the time I purchased this book I also purchased Frances Osborne’s bio of Idina Sackville, the eponymous character in, The Bolter so I am now:


The Bolter by Frances Osborne
L-O-V-E when one book leads to another:-)

Jan 30, 3:39pm Top

Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson

4.5 stars

I’d forgotten how much I love Jackson Brodie. I hadn’t read one of his novels since 2011! It’s absolutely unconscionable and especially since I’ve had this book sitting on my shelf for nearly that long. But when I leaned that a new installment of the crime series was due to be released this year I thought I’d better hop to it and get caught up. I decided to go with the audio version this time and the narrator, Graeme Malcolm, was absolutely pitch perfect.

The thing about Atkinson is that between her droll humor and her ability to turn a phrase there is nobody better. And she really shines in this novel.

Retired police superintendent Tracy Waterhouse is running errands when she makes a hasty, unforeseen purchase that may land her in prison. Two people witness it, Tillie, an elderly actress suffering from the onset of dementia and Jackson Brodie who is searching for the origins of a New Zealand woman. As we follow Tracy’s hasty escape we soon learn that there’s a lot more to Jackson’s investigation and that it not only actually involves Tracy but implicates other members of the police force in Leeds. As we soon learn, the past is never history.

Absolutely loved it.

Jan 30, 3:46pm Top

>120 BLBera: Hi Beth, yes, I loved that one too. I've read all her books except Human Croquet which is languishing on my shelf. Maybe this year???

>121 Crazymamie: Hi there Mamie, we're all just a bunch of Brodie lovers I guess LOL.

>122 tymfos: Thank you Terri. It was a very tough time. I'd like to think it's a time we've left behind but today's world scares the hell out of me. I think the Darktown series would be right up your alley.

>123 vivians: Hi Vivian, rereading crossed my mind too. Hmmm.....

>124 richardderus: I'm sorry you're suffering Richard but it's very good of you to crawl around the threads. take care.

Jan 30, 4:08pm Top

>125 brenzi: The Bolter! How delicious. I love when reads lead to reads, too. Really, a happy reading life could be structured around simply paddling in the wake of the Mitfords. Interesting people make interesting friends and, when we're lucky, speak entertainingly about them for the public record.

Jan 30, 4:44pm Top

>125 brenzi: I discovered the Mitford's a couple of years ago when I read a biography of the family. It was quite good and turned me on to Nancy's writing. You might consider the bio, they were a most interesting family! It's Take Six Girls: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters by Laura Thompson

Jan 30, 6:49pm Top

>128 richardderus: I know Richard. It's like going down the rabbit hole sometimes. I certainly don't know a lot about the Mitfords but I am familiar with them. I wouldn't mind going back in time myself lol.

>129 RebaRelishesReading: Ohhhh thanks for the tip Reba. I'll look for that one.

Jan 30, 6:59pm Top

Happy Wednesday, Bonnie! Hooray for Started Early, Took My Dog & Jackson Brodie. Looking forward to the new one, later this year.

Jan 30, 8:11pm Top

I had Started Early, Took My Dog on hold at the library and I seem to have let it get by me! I've just put the eBook back on hold again.

Jan 31, 11:37am Top

>126 brenzi: Good reminder, Bonnie! I need to get back to Jackson Brodie.

Jan 31, 6:54pm Top

>131 msf59: I may do the reread of the Brodie novels like Vivian hinted at Mark.

>132 EBT1002: Enjoy, Ellen.

>133 jnwelch: Don't we all Joe? Lol

Jan 31, 8:29pm Top

>65 brenzi: I have that one home from the library and am hoping to get to it soon. Great review, Bonnie!

>80 brenzi: I understand about hating a narrator. If the narrator does not work for me, I will flat stop listening to the book.

>91 brenzi: Like Donna, I enjoyed the sections about the Talmud. I have been interested in Judaism since I was a child, which lead to my interest in the Holocaust.

>125 brenzi: I wish my local library had any of Mitford's books! It has books about the Mitfords, but no books BY them. What kind of sense does that make?!

>126 brenzi: I get to dodge that BB as I have already read that one. Whew!

Feb 1, 9:47am Top

Hi Bonnie!

Here’s the Group Read thread for Last Friends by Jane Gardam. I hope you can join us.

Group Read: Last Friends by Jane Gardam.

Feb 1, 6:46pm Top

>135 alcottacre: Hi Stasia, it's not that I have no interest in Judaism, it's just that I thought those passages were too lengthy and there were too many of them. I enjoyed the book overall and may read The Promise and I'm certainly going to read My Name is Asher Lev.

I listened to four audio books last month and only one used a narrator I thought was problematic so that's not too bad. Yesterday I tried a Tana French audio and I knew almost immediately that the narrator wouldn't work for me so I switched to another book.

I don't know why libraries don't have the Mitford books. I happened to own the one I read but I can get any number of them as e books from the library so I guess I'm lucky.

Feb 1, 6:47pm Top

>136 karenmarie: I'm afraid I still need to read The Man in the Wooden Hat Karen so even though I own all three Europa editions, I'll have to pass for now. I'll get to them eventually.

Feb 1, 7:28pm Top

>137 brenzi: I forgot about e-books! My local library just started with OverDrive so I will have to check for Mitford books there, although I am not holding my breath on that.

I can highly recommend My Name is Asher Lev although my favorite remains The Chosen.

Feb 1, 8:09pm Top

I haven't read Atkinson's story collection or Emotionally Weird. I'm saving that one...Human Croquet was also great.

Feb 1, 9:00pm Top

HI Bonnie, This is my first time visiting your thread but sure won't be the last time! Happy reading!

Feb 3, 9:15am Top

>139 alcottacre: I hope you can finally find the Mitford books Stasia, one way or another. I have to say most of my library books (which constitutes most of my reading) are eBooks. The only print books I read are from my own shelves.

>140 BLBera: Oh Beth I didn't realize she had a short story collection. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. It's now on my Overdrive list.

>141 mdoris:. Hi MARY. Good to see you😊

Feb 3, 9:27am Top

Just a quick update. I'm enjoying The Bolter a lot more than I thought I would. It's leading me to a large number of other books that I hadn't anticipated including in my reading this year but I love when that happens. As I make my way through Edina Sackville's life I'm now reading about her life in Kenya among a large British population after WWI. Shades of Beryl Markham. Here are a few of the books I might get to now:

Out Of Africa by Isak Dinesen
Straight On Til Morning: the Biography Of Beryl Markham by Mary L. Lovell (I've already read and loved Markham's memoir West With the Night)
White Mischief: the Murder Of Lord Erroll by James Fox

Whew it's been a long time since I've had so many books come from one read.

On audio I'm listening to Lightning Men by Thomas Mullen, the second in the Darktown series.

Feb 3, 10:01am Top

Morning, Bonnie. Happy Sunday. I like those current reads. Yah, for Lightning Men. I have a feeling you are going to LOVE Asher Lev.

Go Rams!!

Feb 3, 10:30am Top

>142 brenzi: You are very welcome, Bonnie. I am always happy to add to others' reading lists.

Feb 3, 3:53pm Top

>143 brenzi: Interesting list of books. I too loved West With the Night and look forward to your comments on these four.

Feb 3, 7:51pm Top

>65 brenzi: I finished The Overstory today and I have to say "Wow!" I have never read anything else by Richard Powers and am now afraid to because I am sure they will not live up to this book.

Feb 4, 6:22pm Top

>144 msf59:. Hi Mark, I've been really happy with my recent reading/listening and I look forward to Asher Lev. Enjoying the warm weather too. Which is just nuts after last weeks weather lol. Too bad the Rams couldn't pull it off.

>145 BLBera: 😉

>146 RebaRelishesReading: Hi Reba. Kenya seems like another planet to me but these UK residents in the 1920s and 30s considered it a hop skip and a jump I guess. I'm enjoying the era so much.

>147 alcottacre: Ahh yes Stasia, The Overstory was one of a kind I think.

Feb 4, 7:00pm Top

Catching up and stopping by to wish you well, dear lady.

Feb 4, 9:29pm Top

>125 brenzi: Bonnie, I love it too when one book leads to another…good review of The Pursuit of Love…I couldn't help but notice that sly reference to The Cazalet Chronicles you threw in there.

>126 brenzi: I'm another fan of Jackson Brodie. So excited about the new book coming out.

I'm glad to hear your weather is moderating. Winters in Buffalo sound brutal. I spent a couple of winters in Northern Michigan and learned to appreciate the color green when spring rolled around…sometime in May as I recall.

Feb 5, 8:46pm Top

>149 PaulCranswick: Thank you Paul.

>150 Donna828: May sounds about right Donna although I have to say it was 55 yesterday. That's pretty spring-like. Heh I may have mentioned that you'd be wise to take a look at The Cazalet Chronicles. Sly or genius??? Lol

Feb 10, 12:09am Top

Hi Bonnie--just catching up here. I love Kate Atkinson and your review made me check my own TBR Tower and I realized that I have 3 Kate Atkinson books to read: A God in Ruins, One Good Turn, and Start Early, Took My Dog. I've opted for One Good Turn, since that is #2 in the Jackson Brodie series. Thanks for the reminder!!! And I get to count this as a ROOT. Turning the page now...

Feb 10, 9:04am Top

>152 Berly: Wise choice Kim. I have no doubt that you'll enjoy the second Brodie book.

Edited: Feb 10, 10:05am Top

The Bolter by Frances Osborne

4.5 stars

I was drawn to this book after reading Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love and discovering that one of the characters was modeled after Idina Sackville, the subject of this biography. Idina came of age in the 1920s and acquired her nickname because of her penchant for abandoning husband and children. She was crazy about getting married but she absolutely hated staying married. She piled up five marriages in her 62 years and lived the life of the elite, in Kenya for the most part, after leaving Great Britain at the end of her first marriage. I never expected to like this book as much as I did but I found this life of the elite undeniably fascinating. They lived by a different moral compass than the average person, at least those I know of.

”As long as a high-society married woman followed these words of property protection and kept absolute discretion, she could do what she liked. In the oft-cited words of the actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell: ‘It doesn’t matter what you do in the bedroom as long as you don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses.’ The boundary between respectability and shame was not how a woman behaved, but whether she was discovered. If so, her husband could exercise his right to divorce: for a man to divorce his wife, she had to be proved to have committed adultery.” (page 21)

Life in Kenya among the British elite evolved into what came to be described as Happy Valley for the free flowing alcohol, drugs and casual sex. But there is not much emphasis on these topics. It’s just the way these people lived, men and women alike. And Idina was not the only one who had these casual sexual encounters. All of her spouses did as well.

The descriptions of the Kenyan landscape were breathtaking and Idina developed her farm to be the idyll that many of us might long for. Her life may seem chaotic to the casual observer but Idina was quite happy with her existence even though she cut herself off from her children. During WWII she attempts a reunion with them all that is somewhat hopeful but tragedy ensues.

In brief, Idina Sackville was not a person that anyone would admire but she was absolutely fascinating as a topic of biographical interest. I didn’t dislike her really, just marveled at the remarkable life she led.

Could not put it down. Highly recommended.

Edited: Feb 11, 7:02pm Top


These Truthsby Jill Lepore

I'm almost done with Part 2 of this really well-done history of the United States and reading about Andrew Jackson has made my blood boil. He's so like the current resident of the White House that it's uncanny. Jackson believed he had the authority to decide if a law was constitutional or not!!

and currently listening to:

Lightning Men by thomas Mullen

Feb 11, 10:03am Top

>154 brenzi: I don't know that "like" is a necessary prerequisite for enjoying someone like that's company. I suspect that, in person, she was a complete charmer (unless you were one of her children) and a fascinating hostess. But likeable? Nope, not a bit of it. Which makes her all the more interesting to read about.

Feb 11, 12:44pm Top

I am looking forward to your thoughts on Lightning Men! I loved The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers and Have Darktown waiting patiently on my eReader.

Feb 11, 6:23pm Top

>156 richardderus: Yes, you are exactly right Richard. There are many books I've liked without admiring the characters much at all. It's all about the story.

>157 lkernagh: I just finished Lightning Men last night Lori and I hope to put together a brief review shortly. In a word, I love this series. I wish there were more to the series but I've looked and haven't found anything about the next book. I do have his The Last Town on Earth sitting on my shelf so I may get to that before he adds to this series. I'll have to look for The Many Deaths Of The Firefly Brothers.

Feb 11, 6:51pm Top

Hi, Bonnie. I am glad you enjoyed Lightning Men. A solid series. I also had a good time with The Many Deaths Of The Firefly Brothers and like you, I have The Last Town on Earth on shelf.

i am loving Last Friends. She has such a great, writing style, so fluid and engaging.

Edited: Feb 11, 9:40pm Top

Lightning Men by Thomas Mullen

4.4 stars

The moral dilemmas faced by the handful of African American policemen in Atlanta in the very early 1950s are brought to life once again in the second book in Thomas Mullen’s crime series. Not all of them will pass the test. And at the end of the book we see some changes afoot for the series going forward.

This series is not like any other mystery series I’ve read. The history of racism in Atlanta is fully exposed here and it is nowhere more evident than on the police force where the newly installed black officers have their hands tied by their limited authority. In addition, the corruption on the force is undeniable. That this series is written by a white man raises questions in itself but the quality of the narrative and development of the characters could not be better.

In this installment, Mullen explores the illegal real estate practices in an Atlanta neighborhood including redlining, blockbusting and steering, the role of the Ku Klux Klan in the city, and the apparent differences in the classes of the black population itself. In doing so he gives his readers a lot to think about. Taking care of your family and those you love comes under dangerous scrutiny and two partners/friends have great difficulty dealing with the ramifications. Very highly recommended.

Feb 11, 7:39pm Top

Feb 11, 7:40pm Top

>159 msf59: I read the first book in Gardam's trilogy quite some time ago Mark so I want to reread it and then read the other two in close proximity. I own all three so I just have to plan for it.

Feb 11, 8:33pm Top

>160 brenzi: - Lovely review!

Feb 11, 8:58pm Top

>160 brenzi: ^^^What >163 lkernagh: said. Makes me want to jump the books up the TBR, you wicked Book-Siren.

Feb 11, 9:14pm Top

>160 brenzi: I've seen The Lightning Men in my local library. Great review and I'll keep an eye out for it.

Feb 11, 9:43pm Top

>163 lkernagh: Thanks Lori.

>164 richardderus: Turn around is fair play Richard haha.

>165 vancouverdeb: Thanks Deborah. I hope you enjoy it. You should probably start with Darktown.

Feb 12, 10:06am Top

Thanks for the Mullen series recommendation - I'm adding them to my list. I loved Inheritance and am eager to hear what you think!

Feb 12, 6:34pm Top

>167 vivians:. I think you'll enjoy them Vivian. I know you loved Inheritance: A Memoir Of Genealogy, Paternity and Love. That's why I'm reading it 😏

Feb 12, 6:53pm Top

Good review of Lightning Men. Big Thumb! I have requested the audio of Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love, but it might be awhile. Looking forward to your thoughts.

Feb 13, 7:10am Top

>154 brenzi: That one is already in the BlackHole or I would be adding it again.

>160 brenzi: I read Mullen's The Last Town on Earth several years ago and liked it. Definitely adding Lightning Men to the BlackHole.

Feb 13, 8:45am Top

Hi Bonnie!

>155 brenzi: I don’t think it’s a coincidence that drumpf put up a picture of Jackson in the Oval Office within days of the inauguration.

>160 brenzi: I read Mullen’s The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers a while back and love his writing style.

Feb 13, 1:17pm Top

>155 brenzi: Until recently, Jackson was by far my least favorite occupant of the White House and I agree, drumpf is very similar but probably. I sometimes dwell on that fact as comfort in that we survived the first one so, hopefully, ...

Feb 13, 6:21pm Top

>169 msf59: Thanks Mark, the Shapiro memoir is absolutely fascinating and a short read. I'll finish it tonight or tomorrow morning and then move on to Lindsay Faye's new one, The Paragon Hotel 😁

>170 alcottacre: The Last Town On Earth has been sitting on my shelf for many years now Stasia. Must try to get to it.

>171 karenmarie: Hi Karen, I need to look for The Many Deaths Of The Firefly Brothers. I doubt Trump knew the first thing about Andrew Jackson. Stephen Miller must've suggested he hang the picture and model himself after Jackson. Lol

>172 RebaRelishesReading: Hi Reba. I remain hopeful that we will recover from all the devastation we're experiencing. If he wins a second term I'm not sure we'll recover although Jackson served two terms.

Feb 14, 11:45am Top

>173 brenzi: I try hard not to even think about the possibility of a second term but I think what upsets me most is how many people actually support him. I had hoped we were better than that :(

Feb 14, 1:51pm Top

Happy Valentine's Day!! ❤️💚💗💙

Feb 14, 7:27pm Top

>174 RebaRelishesReading: Completely agree Reba. Every day is just one shocking event after another until we're all completely exhausted.

>175 ChelleBearss: Hi Chelle and Happy valentine's Day to you and your two little ones.

Edited: Feb 15, 9:48pm Top

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love by Dani Shapiro

4.3 stars

”What never fail to draw me in, however, are secrets. Secrets within families. Secrets we keep out of shame, or self-protectiveness, or denial. Secrets and their corrosive power. Secrets we keep from one another in the name of love.” (Page 29)

In this age when nobody really has secrets anymore and your life is an open book, where e mails are hacked and stolen and possibly revealed to an exhausted public, where people seem to take pictures of every possible part of their bodies and share them with (supposedly) loved ones only to see them reproduced for that same drained apathetic public, we probably shouldn’t be surprised that something a college student agreed to back in the sixties would come back to haunt him today.

Dani Shapiro is a writer and a devout Jew, brought up in New Jersey by her Jewish parents where she was born in 1962. She had a close, loving relationship with her devout Jewish father who was killed in a car accident when she was in her early twenties. Dani now has a husband and a teenage son of her own and sees her world turned upside down when she submits her DNA sample to Ancestry.com and blithely opens the e mail that contains some shocking results.

This is a gripping memoir from an accomplished writer who is able to convey her feelings of grief, shock, anger, acceptance and love when she finds that her father is not who she believes him to be. But in the end, maybe that isn’t what’s important.

An important read at a time when we’re all very interested to see where we come from and who we’re related to it made me fairly satisfied that I opted to not see my DNA matches or be listed as a match on Ancestry. Very highly recommended.

Edited: Yesterday, 7:22pm Top

I've moved on to:

The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye

And I'm still listening to Caitlan Moran's How to be a Woman which is hysterical and yet gut wrenching.

Feb 14, 7:43pm Top

>177 brenzi: That sounds really fascinating. I'll library it up! Thanks, Bonnie.

Feb 14, 9:30pm Top

It's positively riveting Richard. I think you'll enjoy it.

Edited: Feb 15, 2:41am Top

>177 brenzi: That sounds like a winner! I am adding it to the library queue. (ooh...107th with 19 books. This may take a while)

>178 brenzi: And I think you have summed up How to be a Woman perfectly.

I am well behind on These Truths, but hope to catch up this weekend. I want to hear all about Jackson...

Feb 15, 6:14pm Top

>181 Berly: Hi Kim, I think you'll like Dani Shapiros' novel whenever you get to it. I'm enjoying Moran's book but it's not for the easily offended is it? Haha. At least the people living during Andrew Jackson's term didn't have tv, and the internet to make their bloood boil on a daily basis but he certainly is comparable to Trump.

Feb 15, 7:33pm Top

>177 brenzi: That sounds fascinating, Bonnie. I'll have to check in my library has Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love. I confess that owing to my parents rushing to get married when they were 19, I've never wondered about my origins or who my family is. And my parents had a tumble of 5 of us in 9 1/2 years. I don't they had time for much else then rushing about with 5 kids at quite a young age. But over the years, I've been quite surprised by extended family members discovering that they were adopted and their parents has not told them , or conversely, a cousin of my dad, adopted out her first child, as she was not married. But that came to a happy conclusion for her. She told her now husband about her first child and though they had two children together, about 15 years ago, her first daughter got in touch with her and she is now close to her adopted out daughter and has grandchildren via her first daughter. Not all stories have such a happy ending.

I'm not quite finished Dear Evelyn but I do think you would enjoy it, yes. It was Can Lit prize winner here in 2018 , but it could be hard to find in the USA.

Feb 15, 7:45pm Top

>177 brenzi: Too bad my local library does not have that one. Thanks for the recommendation, Bonnie. I will have to venture further afield to find what sounds like an excellent book.

Feb 15, 10:04pm Top

>183 vancouverdeb: it was an absolutely fascinating read so I hope you find it at your library Deborah..I just put Dear Evelyn on my Overdrive list but it'll be awhile before I get it.

>184 alcottacre: I hope you are able to fine it Stasia. I think you'd enjoy it.

Feb 16, 7:56am Top

Hi Bonnie!

>173 brenzi: I agree – anything with any kind of intellectual or intelligent component is beyond drumpf’s ability, so yes, probably Stephen Miller.

Feb 16, 6:18pm Top

>186 karenmarie: How people continue to support someone with so little interest in learning....anything!.....is beyond me Karen.

Feb 16, 6:24pm Top


Julia Spencer Fleming announced earlier today that she has completed the ninth novel in the Claire Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne series and we can expect it to be published next winter. She last published a book in this series in 2013 and has been plagued by illness, deaths in her family and depression but she's finally back on track. WOO HOO!!! Can't wait!

Feb 16, 7:58pm Top

The Shapiro does sound good, Bonnie. I'm always looking for good memoirs.

>188 brenzi: Great news. I wondered what happened.

Feb 17, 7:08am Top

>188 brenzi: OMG OMG OMG OMG! That's wonderful news!

Feb 17, 9:37am Top

>189 BLBera: Hi Beth, I think you'd like Shapiro's memoir. I follow Fleming's blog posts via FB. You can read her announcement here:


>190 lauralkeet: Exactly Laura.

Feb 17, 12:05pm Top

>188 brenzi: I’ve just downloaded the first book in the Julia Spencer Fleming series. Based upon your reaction, I can’t believe I’ve never read them. :-)

Feb 17, 4:01pm Top

>192 NanaCC: you are in for a treat, Colleen!

Feb 17, 7:10pm Top

>192 NanaCC: I hope you like them as much as I do Colleen. It's been so long since she published I can't remember where we were left off. I hope I can go back and read my reviews and put the pieces together.

Yesterday, 7:23pm Top

How to Be a Woman by Caitlan Moran

4 stars

This was my latest audio and I’m very glad I listened to it rather than read it because you just have to hear Moran read it herself. She’s feisty, angry, outraged, well, you know…all the things we as women feel about the contemptible treatment of women since, well, since the beginning of time really. But most of all Caitlin Moran is absolutely hysterical and I found myself laughing out loud time and again. The one exception was the chapter that dealt with her abortion which was categorically gut wrenching.

This won’t be for everyone and certainly not for those easily offended by language and functions of the female body. But I really enjoyed my time in her world. Highly recommended.

Currently listening to:

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz

And in print:

The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye

Yesterday, 9:36pm Top

Hi, Bonnie. Trying to slowly make the rounds, after a long weekend away. I managed to snag Inheritance on audio, and hope to start it soon.

How is the Faye novel coming along?

Yesterday, 9:45pm Top

>195 brenzi: - I'm so glad you enjoyed the Moran, Bonnie. It really was great on audio.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2019

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