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Lucy's (Sibyx) Quarterly Report: Summer into Autumn 2019

75 Books Challenge for 2019

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Edited: Jun 26, 9:12pm Top

Looking eastward at the High Peaks of the Adirondacks from Coney Mountain. A gorgeous day a couple of weeks ago.

Edited: Aug 16, 8:21am Top

Currently Reading in July 2019


new The Raven Tower Ann Leckie fantasy
new Testing the Current William McPherson contemp fic
E The Untethered Soul Michael A. Singer meditation
Seven Storey Mountain (abridged, phooey) Thomas Merton spiritual, memoir, reread

82. ✔ Cold Fire Kate Elliott fantasy ***1/2
83. new Hair: A Human History Kurt Stenn science/history *****
84. ♬ A Capitol Death Lindsey Davis hist myst ****
85. new Cold Steel Kate Elliott fantasy ***1/2
86. new Down Cemetery Road Mick Herron mys ***1/2
87/ The Enabler Angelyn Miller

Pearled in 2019

1. ROOT (Pearl-100) The Mandarins Simone de Beauvoir (January)
2. library A Court of Mist and Fury Sarah J. Maas YA fantasy
3.✔ROOT Gibbon's Decline and Fall Sherri S.
Tepper dyst (sped thru, got the gist) (May)
4. ✔ROOT The Russian Debutante's Handbook Gary Shteyngart (June)
5. ✔ROOT At the Gate of All Wonder Kevin McIlvoy
6. ✔ROOT The Wrong Set Angus Wilson (July)
7. A Map of Time Felix J. Palma
8. ♬ The Witches of New York Ami McKay urban fantasy

*BBC=Bridgeside Book Club

Here is a link to my ROOT thread: ROOT 2019

Edited: Jul 27, 10:39am Top

Edited: Aug 1, 11:23am Top

Books Read in June

61. new (BBC*) Stoner John Williams contemp fic ****1/2
62. ♬A Dying Fall Elly Griffiths ***1/2
63. ♬The Outcast Dead Elly Griffiths mys ****
64. new City of Miracles Robert Jackson Bennett fantasy *****
65. library The Ghost Fields Elly Griffiths mys ****
66. library The Woman in Blue Elly Griffiths mys ***1/2
67. ♬Guards! Guards! Terry Pratchett fantasy
68.♬ Men at Arms Terry Pratchett fantasy
69. ✔ROOT Unquiet Soul Margot Peters lit bio ****
70. new The Demon Breed James Schmitz sf ***1/2
71. ♬The Black Moth Georgette Heyer hist fic ***1/2

Pearled in May
3.✔ROOT Gibbon's Decline and Fall Sherri S.
Tepper dyst (sped thru, got the gist)

Total: 11
Men: 5
Women: 6
M/W writing together: 0
Non-fiction: 1
Contemp/Classic/Hist Fiction: 2
SF/F: 4
Mystery(inc hist mys): 4
YA or J: 0
Poetry: 0
New author: 3
Reread: 0

Book origins/type:
From library or borrowed: 2
Audio: 5
New (to my library): 3
e-book: 0
Off Shelf/ROOT: 1
Pearled: 1

Books In

31. Normal People Sally Rooney
32. Cod Mark Kurlansky
33. Shadow of the Wind Carlos Ruiz Zafon
34. Demon Breed James Schmitz


14. The Chalk Pit Elly Griffiths
15. The Dark Angel Elly Griffiths

IN For June= 4
physical books (for year) IN= 34 (ditto)
e-books (for year)=5
audio (ditto) = 15

Edited: Aug 1, 11:28am Top

Books Read in July

72. ♬ The Chalk Pit Elly Griffiths mys ***1/2
73. ✔ROOT At the Mouth of the River of Bees Kij Johnson spec fic *****
74. ♬ The Dark Angel Elly Griffiths mys ****
75. new BBC Cod Mark Kurlansky nf ****
76. new The Darkening Age Catherine Nixey history ****
77. ✔The Steep Approach to Garbadale Iain Banks spec fic ****1/2
78. ♬The Stone Circle Elly Griffiths mys ****
79. ♬ These Old Shades Georgette Heyer ****
80. ✔ Cold Magic Kate Elliott fantasy ***3/4
81. ♬ The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking Oliver Burkeman psychology/philosophy

Pearl-Ruled: The Witches of New York

Total: 10
Men: 3
Women: 7
M/W writing together: 0
Non-fiction: 3
Contemp/Classic/Hist Fiction: 2
SF/F: 2
Mystery(inc hist mys): 3
YA or J: 0
Poetry: 0
New author: 4
Reread: 0

Book origins/type:
From library or borrowed: 0
Audio: 5
New (to my library): 2
e-book: 0
Off Shelf/ROOT: 1
Pearled: 1

Books In


35. Severance Ling Ma
36. Big Sky Kate Atkinson
37. A Judgment of Dragons Phyllis Gotlieb
38. Cold Steel Kate Elliott
39. Shadow of the Wind Carlos Ruiz Zafon
40. Normal People Sally Rooney
41. Transcription Kate Atkinson
42. Sacred Ground Mercedes Lackey
43. Lady's Maid Margaret Forster
44. Victory of Eagles Naomi Novik (Tem#5)
45. The Gods Arrive Edith Wharton
46. Oathblood Mercedes Lackey
47. Dragon Prince Melanie Rawn (1)
48. Brightly Burning Mercedes Lackey (VH3)
49. Alternate Realities (three novellas) C.J. Cherryh
50. Lud-in-the-Mist Hope Mirrlees
51. Cold Fire Kate Elliott READING
52. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay Michael Chabon


16. The Stone Circle Elly Griffiths READ
17. A Capitol Death Lindsey Davis READING
18. The Seven Storey Mountain Thomas Merton
19. Why Kill the Innocent C.S. Harris
20. Where the Dead Lie C.S. Harris
21. Who Slays the Wicked C.S. Harris

IN For July=18
physical books (for year) IN= 52
e-books (for year)=5
audio (for year) = 21

Edited: Jun 26, 8:45pm Top


Jun 26, 8:43pm Top

Looks like six is all you usually use at the top of your threads, so I'll dare to say
Happy New Thread!!

Edited: Jun 26, 8:45pm Top

Thank you! I just finished Demon Breed btw.

And looking at the previous -- I'll post June here, not in the previous thread.

Jun 26, 8:45pm Top

Happy new thread!

Jun 26, 8:45pm Top

I know! I just read your review on your last thread and then your additional comments on the group read thread.

Jun 26, 9:03pm Top

Waving to Roni!

Jun 26, 9:37pm Top

>2 sibyx:, Ambitious reading! And nice, shiny new thread. Great photo.

Re the Black Moth, I like that story, even tho' I rated it just 3½ ★s. Total brain candy and such a relaxing comfort when I need to do a 'here and now' escape.

I'm still waiting on some library requests and feel rather disgruntled that the Elly Griffiths mysteries haven't shown up yet. I must be way back in the queue.

I'm reading Spinning Silver this week (and have a couple other books started but not as appealing to my mood at the moment). Naomi Novik is a new-to-me author, having turned up as a BB on one of the 75ers-Book threads. I'm glad I started with a standalone novel of hers because I don't want to get too immersed in a series addiction, which would be really easy. She is such a good writer, I think. Her characters (IMHO) are well nuanced and she sure knows how to build tension.

Jun 26, 9:41pm Top

>12 SandyAMcPherson: Spinning Silver and Uprooted are good ones to start with. In her fantasy dragons in the Napoleonic war series, after the 3rd, she wrote the main characters into such a depressing state that it wasn't til the final 2 volumes that they weren't painful to read.

Jun 26, 11:20pm Top

Happy new one!! What a beautiful topper.

Jun 26, 11:29pm Top

That topper is too beautiful to be real. WOW!
I look forward to your reading and comments on this thread, dear Lucy!

Edited: Jun 27, 9:06am Top

>12 SandyAMcPherson: Novik is on my list -- good to know what to start with!

>13 quondame: Glad too to be warned that some of that Novik series is tough going. Re the Black Moth -- incredible that Heyer was only 16!!!

>14 Berly: and >15 LizzieD: We thought so too and we were there. You get something of the allure of the Adirondacks! Black flies and all! (They were around, believe me -- it was windy up there thank goodness! But we were covered in bug stuff for the trip up and down.)

Edited: Jun 27, 10:13am Top

>13 quondame:, >16 sibyx: Definitely appreciate the candid warning about the Temeraire series. Those will be a miss for me. I'm not so sure I want to read her Baba Yaga-esque Uprooted either*. Having soldiered through the beginning of White Mughals, I want to pick up that story again. It's pretty interesting narrative history.

*I apparently have a low tolerance for that trope. Nothing like criticizing a book I haven't picked up!

Edited: Jul 1, 7:23pm Top

71. ♬ fic ***1/2
The Black Moth Georgette Heyer

The primary reason why The Black Moth is exceptional is that it was written by a sixteen-year old Heyer. Having just finished Unquiet Soul about the Brontë children all furiously writing stories of derring-do and romance the moment they could hold a pen, one has to assume Heyer had a quiet childhood and was surrounded by books. What stands out is that there are two protagonists, really, one is Tracy, the dissolute duke, the other is the sunny Jack who sacrifices himself for his brother's happiness. Jack is more appealing, but Tracy is the focus, and what happens to Tracy is so well done, so psychologically appealing without being mushy -- left just opaque enough that you aren't sure how much he is changed or how it will evidence in his life from now on. Can't say more for fear of giving things away. In other ways the book is floridly written and a bit over the top, but she finds the right distance and voice by the next regency novel, These Old Shades which is a masterpiece of the romance genre, without a doubt.
I decided to listen to these this time around (it's been decades) having given away my collection in my late twenties to someone who needed the books more than I did. No regrets. The narrator did excellently with all characters except Lavinia, Tracy's sister who was a bit too much. ***1/2

Jun 27, 11:07am Top

Lovely topper, Lucy.

Happy new thread.

Jun 27, 12:12pm Top

>17 SandyAMcPherson: I rather liked Uprooted. It was in fact easier for me to like than Spinning Silver.

Jun 27, 12:27pm Top

Happy New Thread, Lucy.

I had no idea Heyer wrote The Black Moth when she was 16. Impressive!

I just read her The Masqueraders and enjoyed it. Not her top tier, but fun.

Jun 27, 12:42pm Top

Hi, Lucy. Just ambling around. Did you wave my way from up there on Coney Mountain? Assuming you did, I'm afraid I missed it. Shucks.

Jun 27, 7:30pm Top

Happy new thread!

Jun 27, 7:47pm Top

>20 quondame: Having read and enjoyed other books you have indicated, I should maybe give Uprooted a chance! Thanks for re-emphasizing this one.

Edited: Jun 29, 9:37pm Top

Continuing from >12 SandyAMcPherson:, I finished Spinning Silver today. I do recommend it (just did a review and allocated ★★★★s).

I dithered a lot about how and what to say in the review. It was a rather changeable novel in my mind ~ at first I was occasionally quite 'meh' about the plot. But Novik has achieved an admirable mystical world, and as I said previously, strong characterizations.

So Lucy, I'm looking forward to what you think of the story and whether you might think it has a Rumpelstiltskin-esque flavour.

Jun 30, 2:43am Top

>18 sibyx: SIXTEEN!! OMG

Happy new thread, can't wait to hear what you think of Kij's book.

Jun 30, 10:01am Top

Hi Lucy! Happy new thread.

>18 sibyx: I didn't know it was her first novel, but I've always thought that the Duke of Andover was a dress rehearsal for the Duke of Avon in These Old Shades.

Jun 30, 10:28am Top

Clearly he was!

Edited: Jun 30, 5:48pm Top

>18 sibyx: and >27 karenmarie: I never connected the Duke of Andover as a preview of the Duke of Avon. Very insightful of you!

I thoroughly disliked Andover and his sister seemed so overdone (in The Black Moth); however, I enjoyed Avon tremendously, and thought his character development was superb. I especially loved his role in the sequel Devil's Cub. The dénouement was just so droll and had a certain irony that Heyer must have long planned, eh?

I was always hoping that Heyer would provide another story with Leonie and Avon. I wasn't much of a fan of Vidal and I couldn't grasp why he turned out to be so unfeeling with his parents (Leonie and Avon) having such a history. That never made sense to me. Not that I need Heyer's novels to especially be 'sensible'.

Jun 30, 5:49pm Top

Just popping up to say "Happy New Thread!" and to add my appreciation of the lovely photograph!
I haven't read any Novik, but Spinning Silver has cropped up in so many threads amongst the Sf and Fantasy loving crowd, almost unanimous in their high praise, so I guess it will have to be read at some point!

Edited: Jul 1, 8:44pm Top

72. ♬
The Chalk Pit Elly Griffiths

Under the city of Norwich in Norfolk lie countless tunnels, dug over the centuries for chalk to use in building. Bones are found when an architect plans to build an underground restaurant and the bones turn up during a feasibility study. Everything comes to a halt when the analysis comes back that the bones were put there within the last ten or so years. That's a murder case. The case brings Nelson and Ruth into contact. Meanwhile, there are kidnappings of a most upsetting kind. Will the wedding bells for Cloughie and the lovely Cassandra still chime? And what is going on with Michelle? ****

Jul 2, 8:05am Top

>31 sibyx: I just caved and bought books 5-10 in this series (I already had books 1-4). They are so inexpensive on Kindle, how could I resist?

Edited: Jul 2, 8:14am Top

How indeed! Next thing you know you'll be addicted to Time Team like me!

Jul 2, 8:20am Top

Do you mean Time Team, the British television show with Sir Tony Robinson? That is an excellent show.

Jul 2, 10:24am Top

YES!!! We're addicts! Between Ruth and the Medicus series and earlier indoctrination with Rosemary Sutcliffe I am such a sucker for Romano-British anything.

Jul 2, 8:52pm Top

Oh, so you're another Ruth Galloway fan? I've caved...just finished the first in the series at the insistence urging of Laura and Colleen and a couple others. I liked it very much.

Jul 2, 9:06pm Top

>36 laytonwoman3rd: I just this afternoon checked out a library hold, Crossing Places. I've been waiting my turn for about 2 library cycles (that's 6 weeks) because it seems like there aren't many copies in the system (of book #1, anyway). Elly Griffiths must be very popular.

I'm super looking forward to starting it, but I've promised myself to try finishing up some halfway-through books first, especially Faith Fox. I keep on with FF because I do think Gardam is a good writer and I am hoping the story will coalesce for me.

Jul 2, 9:43pm Top

Jul 2, 11:03pm Top

TOO COOL! LOTS of Time Team available on YouTube. Meanwhile, I have some Elly Griffiths. Must read. Must read.

Jul 3, 8:11am Top

ROOT 73. spec fic *****
At the Mouth of the River of Bees Kij Johnson

Because I wasn't enamored of the book's title (or the bee on the cover) I let this book languish on my shelves for 7 years . . . A collection of stories, some very short, a few very long, that are the real thing, speculative fiction: What if? . . . there was a river of bees crossing Montana? . . . the disappearing monkeys in the magic act go to a different dimension, briefly? . . . domesticated animals suddenly could talk? . . . . What makes the stories pulse with life are the characters: the woman who runs the magic act, the woman who follows the river of bees to the mouth (so loving and so straight up true about loving a dog that it is maybe the best dog story I've ever read), the woman who tries to help the newly self-aware dogs when people find they hate having them around. If you loathe speculative fiction, sf, fantasy, well, don't bother, but it you do love the genre you want to check out Johnson, if not this book, then some other. I sure will! *****

Jul 3, 8:28am Top

Hi Lucy!

I don't usually read short stories, but At the Mouth of the River of Bees is intriguing enough for me to add it to my wish list.

Jul 3, 8:33am Top

>41 karenmarie: You won't regret it -- For my part I am so grateful that I joined the ROOTS group to help with "book problems" like this one. I really don't like the cover or the title -- although now having READ the book, it is the BEST story in it and brilliant and I can see why no one could resist choosing it as the title. But not the best choice to draw a reader in. Odd, that.

>39 LizzieD: Time Team rocks! I was hoping you would find it on YouTube!!

Edited: Jul 3, 8:37am Top

Here to say that somehow or other I am reading too many books at once but I can't help it. For years I've been very tidy: one fiction, one non fiction, one genre (mys sf etc) and one audiobook.

I need to keep ROOT reading going though, so I need one of those and then I am in a marvelous book group now so there are THOSE books (which I don't always love but have to get through one way or another) -- and I'm not willing to give up my other reading . . . and then I sometimes get bogged down in an audio book but don't quite want to give it up. Oh, and then there are NEW books (shiny) and old books (pathetic and sad, making puppy eyes at me) -- what can I do?

What it all adds up to is the discipline is breaking down.

Forget reading, I'll go walk the dogs.

Jul 3, 2:46pm Top

Jul 4, 8:40pm Top

>43 sibyx: I'm somehow reading 2 non-fiction tomes at once right now....something I haven't done since college---nevermindhowmany years ago THAT was. I suspect it won't end well.

Edited: Jul 5, 9:59am Top

>45 laytonwoman3rd: I can't think when I last did this either--probably in college when I had to and thought nothing of it--but I wanted to start reading The Darkening Age badly and Cod is the read for my book group so there was nothing to be done but give in!

Edited: Jul 6, 6:54am Top

#5 Pearl-Ruled

The Wrong Set Angus Wilson

Short stories and they are all about people with social ambitions. While I admit to having ambitions, they have more to do with getting out of bed or not eating two helpings than whether I have the right clothes on or have decorated my house properly. I've read some Wilson novels that I liked, but these have a bitter edge and are also more contrived as "stories". So I read a few (three) and thought, nope, don't have to go on.

Jul 6, 11:00am Top

>47 sibyx:, I like your "ambitions". They about tally with mine!

Jul 6, 3:39pm Top

>47 sibyx: As to my house, just getting rid of accumulated excess and cleaning would be great. Dressing goals are comfort, color, and whimsy, or making an acceptable effort for SCA activities.

Jul 8, 7:55am Top

74. ♬ mys ****
The Dark Angel Elly Griffiths

Every now and then to slow things down or for variety (in this case because we have to wait out Michelle's pregnancy) there has to be a trip . . . So an old colleague of Ruth's invites her to Italy to look at some mysterious bones. Flattered and feeling a need for a vacation, she accepts the invites and goes, bringing Kate, Shona and son Louis to a little town called Castelli Sant'Angeli. (I listened so who knows if the spelling is right.) Back in Norfolk a baddie has been released early from prison -- but this is a guy who swore revenge on Nelson after being put away for hiring someone to torch his house with wife and kids inside. Being off his head he blames Nelson, somehow, for everything. There is an earthquake and Nelson goes nuts himself with worry for Ruth and Kate and scarpers off to Italy to check on them -- and lo and behold Cathbad is somehow or other on his way to Italy too (I forget the rationale). Of course the story is all utterly implausible but I am so far beyond caring as I am swept up in the tangle of relationships between Nelson, Michelle, Tim, Ruth etcetera. There is a whopper at the end, totally caught me off guard, I must admit. A three hankie. ****

Edited: Jul 8, 8:49am Top


75. History fishing, ****
Cod: A biography of the fish that changed the world Mark Kurlansky

History does seem to be mostly about human folly. In this case, the folly of infinite resources. There were so many cod, how could they be fished out? Well, all you had to do was stop and think for a second (if that) about carrier pigeons . . . but no. Money was to be made. I use the past tense, because while it is likely that cod, as a species, will survive in small numbers, here and there, but unless we stop fishing altogether for a few decades, bit by bit the seas will empty. I found this book so depressing I could barely stand reading it. I know I am complicit -- there is no way anyone can avoid buying and eating things that pollute, that are endangered. Is it a good book? Yes, very and Kurlansky works hard to be calm and measured about an emotionally wrenching subject. Am I glad I read it? Hard to say. I remember back in the 90's listening to a long program on the radio about the decision to close parts of the Grand Banks and Georges Banks -- and the effect of this on the Nova Scotian and Newfloundland economies (and here in New England). I do find myself scratching my head as it does sound as if all the fishermen and large companies were willing to send out small boats, small nets -- to reduce expenses, reduce size of individual catches, to ratchet back the destruction of the sea floor -- there would be enough fish and enough money to be made for the individual fishermen to exist. The indifferent rapaciousness of "hugeness", the allure of massive profits . . . it all snowballs into a colossal mess and everybody, cod and man alike, loses. Oh forget it, I'll just start foaming. ****

Jul 8, 11:56am Top


Jul 8, 4:11pm Top

Congratulations on reaching 75, Lucy!

Jul 8, 5:37pm Top

Congratulations on your 75! Most impressive.

Jul 8, 7:12pm Top

Hi Lucy, I'm asking this question on other threads too, so I hope you will add your opinion:
Question re the Ruth Galloway series,

I'm waiting for the Elly Griffiths Book#2 (library request), but wouldn't you know it, A room full of bones has arrived for pick up sooner than The Janus Stone.

Is this a series that keeping to the reading order (Book published date) is rather important?
I think there may be a lot of spoilers if I read ahead very far. Although the mystery might not be affected, it is evident that Ruth's personal situation undergoes numerous changes throughout the series. Often, the storyline tension is disrupted by knowing the plot through the backstory in a later book.

I've been avoiding potential spoilers by not reading the reviews, so if you could indicate that it is probably more fun to read in order, that would be appreciated.

Edited: Jul 8, 9:00pm Top

>52 drneutron:->53 FAMeulstee: >54 RebaRelishesReading: Thank you all! It is an achievement! Maybe there is even hope to reach 150 this year, though I doubt it.

>55 SandyAMcPherson: Easy to answer: Far better to read them in order!

Jul 8, 9:06pm Top

>51 sibyx: Congratulations!

Jul 8, 9:57pm Top

P.S. >51 sibyx:, Meant to also say Congratulations! How great reaching 75 books!

Jul 12, 12:00am Top

You read, Girl!!!! Congratulations on the 75!!!

Jul 12, 9:00am Top

Hi Lucy!

I visited LizzieD yesterday and I mentioned the RGFC... There has been a lot of Ruth Galloway love here on LT recently and with some birthday money I ordered and just received The Janus Stone. Can't wait to finish up the book I'm reading, Good Omens, to start it!!

And she mentioned Time Team, which I see is on Amazon and is Prime and right up my alley.

Congrats on 75 from me, too. I may not read that one, but I finally just broke down and bought Kurlansky's The Basque History of the World and it arrived this week, too.

Edited: Jul 12, 3:21pm Top

76. hist ****
The Darkening Age Catherine Nixey

Ah well, not an easy review to write. Here's the bottom line: Human beings are Not Nice. When authority falters into the vacuum pours anything from barbarians to religious extremists and often the civil structure cannot hold and a period of upheaval and turmoil (lots and lots of pointless deaths, destruction, re-allocation of property etc.) ensues. Then the winners rewrite everything and claim it was All For the Best! And We Have Improved! We did it here in the USA about exterminating the native people. What happened as the Roman Empire collapsed was appalling and Christian fanaticism and extremism was an integral part of the dismantling of an astonishingly inclusive and tolerant culture that put its faith in civil law (yes, backed up by military might). We might nowadays regard some of those laws as questionable, but for the most part, if you were male and a citizen, you had some protections and rights and even women and slaves had a few-- certainly more than in any other existing culture in the West at that time. Christian rewriting and skewing of how their religion came to dominate the West in such a short time does need examining and re-evaluation. The Catholic Church which grew out of this earlier time period, among other things has always been a law unto itself: even now religious institutions constantly petition to exist independently of civil law. Early Christians excused much violence as sanctioned by God and set precedents about being above the law, among others, about sexuality and culture, notions that have encouraged hypocritical behavior ever since given tghat human beings are what they are and always will be. To me, this book is an attempt at a correction, if you will and in line with contemporary historical practice. Kid yourself if you wish that she, Nixey, is not a "real" scholar. (She! stop and think! That "she" forms the first snort of dismissal.) She is a trained historian (classics, ancient history at Cambridge -- does it get more serious than that??), a former teacher of same, and only recently a journalist. I would have given the book more stars but I don't think it was organized effectively. Nixey made the choice to cover specific places (Alexandria, say), specific types of people (philosphers), even sometimes specific individuals, but there is something jumbled here that I haven't quite put a finger on. The message is not a pleasing one for many, but nonetheless important. ****

This has been edited by me!

Jul 12, 2:13pm Top

>61 sibyx: I went to put this book on my wishlist and I already had it there from Suzanne (Chatterbox) in June of last year. But THIS time, the library has a copy--yes, it's out but I've put a hold on it, as the book sounds fascinating.

And--I've been by several times since you posted #75, but always on my tablet, so let me wish you a happy new thread!

Edited: Jul 12, 3:26pm Top

>62 ronincats: When you do read the Nixey, I'll be interested to know what you make of the structure -- see if you can figure out why she organized the book the way she did -- there is something odd and it does detract. My guess is she was heavily pressured to make the contents more lively.

Edited: Jul 12, 5:53pm Top

77.contemp fic ****
The Steep Approach to Garbadale Iain Banks

Well, here's the thing: When a science fiction writer as accomplished as Banks knocks out a fairly ordinary contemporary novel, everybody is disappointed. I wasn't, in fact, I found it fascinating that Banks wanted to spend time writing a novel about an extended and complicated family. True, they have un-ordinary problems, such as how much money to ask for the family company -- 180 mil or perhaps more? from the American company (with a perfect Banksian name of Spraint) that wants to buy them out. But essentially, it's a book about family and relationships and places and love of Scotland. The deduction is for occasional lapses into bloviating about politics and ethics and global warming . . . I can't really recommend it to mad Banks fans, but I can say it is a perfectly good novel that readers of novels about family life would like. ****

Jul 12, 5:56pm Top

>62 ronincats: I'm back again -- remembering that book we read a year or two ago about Roman religious practices -- have to go find that title. I need to connect the dots between these two books.

Jul 12, 6:21pm Top

Would that be Pagans and Christians by Robin Fox? That was way back in January of 2012, my dear!


Jul 12, 9:29pm Top

I was flabbergasted when I went back to find that thread! I'm so glad we did that because it is very useful to compare the two books.

Edited: Jul 13, 11:07am Top

Pearled #7

The Map of Time Felix J. Palma

I didn't get to 50 pages -- the prose was too mannered and the print too small, and I got a sense that the story was going to wander in a way I wouldn't be all that engaged with. -- I don't feel good about deciding not to read this one, but so be it. The issue really is that there are books I rather read more.

Jul 13, 7:14pm Top

>68 sibyx: there are book I rather read more
Of course! Life's too short. Absolve yourself of all guilt and dive into something else.

Jul 14, 10:17am Top

>69 lauralkeet: (put a smiling corgi here)

Jul 16, 1:04pm Top

Hello Sibyx! I hope all is well with you.

Have you seen any of the Shanarra Chronicles tv series? Did you read any of the books? I am enjoying the show on Netflix, and just started The Sword of Shanarra.

Jul 18, 2:57pm Top

>71 brodiew2: I'll have to check this out! Thanks!

Jul 18, 10:17pm Top

Congrats on surpassing 75 books!

Jul 21, 6:59pm Top

>73 figsfromthistle: A visitor!

I've been rather quiet of late as I this is my intensive music time -- first Irish Arts week in the Catskills and then down to Parsippany for the Somerset Harp Festival where I work. No time to read much, a nice rest for my eyes.

I head home tomorrow.

Jul 21, 10:53pm Top

>68 sibyx: I have that one on the tbr shelf but am not able to work up any enthusiasm for it.

Jul 22, 7:31am Top

>75 ronincats: Yep. I suspect that writing in the "Victorian style" is harder than it looks. Something about it bothered me. Arch? Mannered? A bit too much?

Edited: Jul 23, 10:26pm Top

35. ♬ mys ****
The Stone Circle Ellie Griffiths

The last (book 11) installment for the time being and who knows, maybe for good. Things do seem adequately "wrapped up" in some ways and a delicate equilibrium achieved between all parties. ****

Edited: Jul 23, 10:13am Top

79. hist fic ****
These Old Shades Georgette Heyer

Just as delightful as the first time(s) around -- it's been decades and I'm listening to Heyer in (sort of) chrono order. A solid reader, although sometimes the women were a bit too flighty and the Duke himself a bit too haughty . . . or maybe not . . . the truly cunning and arrogant side of his nature is more evident because of the way the reader presents him, and maybe that is good! ****

Jul 23, 10:28am Top

>77 sibyx: Don't you kind of hope it's the end when a series seems to have settled to a "delicate equilibrium" like that? I'm only just reading the second of the Ruth Galloway books, but I've been so disappointed with a couple others that continued past that point. It's tough to reach the end of a favorite series, but a tidy conclusion sure beats endless mediocre and repetitive plot lines.

Jul 23, 10:25pm Top

>79 laytonwoman3rd: Oh Yes, absolutely (what Linda said).

Jul 23, 11:00pm Top

Welcome back, Lucy!
Since I'm reading book 3 of *RG!*, I don't have to think yet about whether the series is going to end at #11.

Jul 24, 8:41am Top

>79 laytonwoman3rd: and >80 SandyAMcPherson: Hmm. I have a little trouble letting go, I confess!

>81 LizzieD: On 3 awready!!!!

Edited: Jul 27, 10:29am Top

I've copied this meme from Peggy's thread -- from BookBub apparently.

1. The persons who helped me fall in love with reading were:

my family and some teachers along the way. My mother read aloud wonderfully and it is a cherished part of my childhood.

2. One book I love to give as a gift is:

I'm always giving different books to different people, looking for what suits them!!!!!!

3. If I could write like one author it would be . . .

some sort of combo of Edith Wharton (social commentary) with the wit of an American and contemporary Angela Thirkell.

4. One book I think deserves more attention is . . .

Summer by Edith Wharton

5. The friend(s) I always turn to for reading recommendations isare

mostly here at LibraryThing -- mainly Peggy (LizzyD) Roni (Ronincats) and Laura ( Laurelkeet ) but also various siblings who are always reading diverse and interesting things and Hiata, at my favorite bookshop in Waterbury VT (Bridgeside Books) and my friends from her bookgroup. OK a big list! And really I love recommendations from ANYONE!

6. If I’m not enjoying a book, I . . .

used to feel very guilty but now I let it go and move on.

7. One book that absolutely shocked me was:

Hmmm This I can't say. A Clockwork Orange perhaps? I read it long ago when very young.

8. My favorite place to read is:


9. If I could read only one book for the rest of my life it’d be:

hmmmm just off the top of my head and this might change either Porius or Infinite Jest

10. The books I’m currently reading are: go to >2 sibyx:

Couldn't resist! What fun!

Jul 26, 11:21pm Top

Love your answers, Lucy -- especially your return reference to me! --- You remind me that I want to put Infinite Jest into the meme somewhere. I can see it as shocking or as the second one I want to read forever.
GLAD to have you back among us! (And, in fact, I'm in Ruth 4!)

Jul 27, 7:25am Top

>83 sibyx:
#5: c'est moi? If so I'm flattered!
#4 and oh yes, Wharton's Summer is sooo good. Wharton in general deserves more attention! I feel like too many people are turned off at a young age by a forced reading of Ethan Frome in school. There is so much more to discover and enjoy.

Jul 27, 10:20am Top

>83 sibyx:, >85 lauralkeet: I came to Edith Wharton later in life, never having encountered her in my school years.

At the time, my main motivation was to read some of the Female Pulitzer winners (https://tinyurl.com/Female-Pulitzer-winners), but I didn't get down the list very far. More to the point, though, having 'discovered' Wharton, I read two of hers, liking The Glimpses of the Moon best. I think she was an awesome writer but for me, Age of Innocence was depressing in the same way that 'Ethan Frome' sounds from what's said in reviews.

It was fun seeing who most influences >83 sibyx: reading choices. I caught BBs from all these folks but also from other 75-ers, a great group that has certainly broadened my reading choices.

Edited: Jul 27, 10:35am Top

>85 lauralkeet: Yes my friend, that is you! I had to go make sure I had your name right and then forgot to come back . . .

I could probably do a "guided" whatever on Wharton -- I went through a major major phase of reading her works. There are a few novels/short stories that I haven't read as things seem to turn up (and some anthologies are repeats and I have read the stories) -- but very little. In my view she should be revered as much (if not more) than the men of that era. Summer was shocking and blunt about class and gender hypocrisy of the times and therefore dropped like a stone, never to be heard from again. When I was teaching I always snuck it in somewhere.

Edited: Jul 27, 11:03am Top

80. fantasy ***3/4
Cold Magic Kate Elliott

A differently evolved mortal Earth, where Christianity and Islam never evolved, the Roman Empire lasted a longer time (and they never sacked Carthage). Phoenicians endured as sea-going merchants and there is an African diaspora due to a plague of ghouls that emerge from some mines somewhere on the Ivory Coast. In Europa, the Africans and the Celts combine spiritual forces and knowledge and become "cold mages." (And also bring down the Roman Empire, tottering by then in any case. One detail though is that the Roman accomplishments are sustained) In this Earth these mages and local chieftans maintain a sort of equilibrium but it is dependent on having serfs and slaves and they justify themselves in the usual way the overlords do. There is unrest. There was a general (rather like Napoleon yet not) whose goal was to change Europa to a law-driven society with no slaves but only citizens, but he was captured and has been in exile on an island for decades. Enter Catherine -- Cat -- who is turning twenty. A cold mage invades her home, whisks her off to be his wife, but then it turns out the mages of his house didn't want her but her cousin. Her fate (and that of her cousin) is entwined with this struggle between the haves and have-nots. She is also increasingly ambivalent about her "husband" (ordered to kill her after the switch is discovered) as he is, also, about her. The deduction from four stars is that there was a bit too much about how handsome or pretty or well-dressed this or that one was. Elliott made a choice, I think, that this would be the pov of young adult main characters, but I found it repetitious after awhile. Overall a minor quibble. Looking forward to book 2. I've very much enjoyed all her other series. ***3/4

Jul 27, 3:04pm Top

>86 SandyAMcPherson:, >87 sibyx: Re: Edith Wharton.

On a weekend trip with friends in 2009, we visited her Massachusetts estate, The Mount. I think the only book I'd read at that point was Age of Innocence. While there, I bought The House of Mirth, and as I went about collecting Virago Modern Classics I acquired and read many more Whartons. I also have a thumping great biography by Hermione Lee, purchased optimistically in 2010, that I have yet to crack open. Oops. My favorite of hers is The Custom of the Country.

Edited: Jul 27, 3:27pm Top

>89 lauralkeet: I haven't tackled the Lee either -- in part because the biography by R.W.B. Lewis seemed so thorough and so excellent, back when I read it in the 80's. I would be delighted to tackle the Lee with you sometime and also then to tie up some loose ends.

I loved The Custom of the Country too -- as well as The Children. In some ways I like her later books the best-- unlike James, for example, Wharton kept up, kept au courant, and could be blunt, which I appreciate.

Jul 27, 4:20pm Top

>90 sibyx: Ooh, I do think reading with a partner would be helpful! I just pulled my copy off the shelf and it looks like there are 20 chapters spread over 3 parts. Maybe we could agree on a time to start and a set number of chapters to read over say a month, and then see how we get on? I'll just say I don't think this is a summer read but I would consider it for the fall or winter.

Edited: Jul 27, 8:21pm Top

>91 lauralkeet: Definitely not a summer read! Plus I have to get a copy! We can confer when September approaches?

Back to say they have the Hermione Lee at my favourite Vermont used book store, Monroe Street Books in Middlebury. I've got several bags of books to offer them and I've been delaying going, so tomorrow I will go since I have a great excuse!

Jul 27, 9:06pm Top


Jul 28, 7:09pm Top

>78 sibyx: These Old Shades is one of my favourite Heyers. I’m still reading along in the Ruth Galloway series. Good to know that they keep up the personal complications all the way through. Congrats for reading way beyond 75, Lucy.

Jul 28, 8:36pm Top

>94 Familyhistorian: thanks for the congrats!

And pooh! I went to Monroe Street books to look for the Hermione Lee on Wharton They have it, but it's in storage while they rebuild the barn where they normally store books in a more or less orderly fashion . . . So normally they could have found it for me, but not now. So I will have to find it elsewhere. No problem, really. I found other books which I will list in my monthly Books In round-up in a couple of days.

Edited: Jul 30, 7:07pm Top

81. psychology/philosophy ****1/2
The Antidote Oliver Burkeman

I was dubious at first although I chose the book because I am leery of the whole "positive thinking" school of thought. I wasn't sure where Burkeman was going -- and -- I was listening in bits and pieces too which made it harder to string his thoughts together. However, by the final two chapters I was completely on board (and in fact, ready to listen to it all over again more carefully). The chapter on failure is brilliant, even if, as is likely, others have gone before and written much the same things, I suspect Burkeman has synthesized the ideas of a variety of thinkers on the topic and he captures with humor the way we, in our current cultural stance, torment ourselves (and each other). I have always been deeply disturbed, for example, when watching the Olympics that a person who gets a silver or bronze starts crying. The point is considering yourself a failure is relative (measured agaiunst who?) and usually unjustified. There was lots to consider here -- the stoics (don't take adversity as a personal affront) the buddhists (let it flow) and some of the more recent thinkers, Merton and Tolle in particular, subscribe rather than prescribe, and none of them pretend that there is any real way to make your life go as smoothly and perfectly as you would like. The idea to regard the unceasing stream of thoughts and chatter in your mind as a sixth sense, and thus to be approached or apprehended as weather of an internal kind, that you can simply trust to move along is a useful way to regard what goes on in there particularly when thoughts and self-talk take a dark turn. This book dovetails nicely with another that I am reading, The Untethered Soul which advocates very strongly stepping back "behind" your active conscious mind to observe the inner dialogue in your head and grasp that there is something "other", that observer, that is perhaps more you than all the static. ****1/2

Jul 29, 6:50am Top

>95 sibyx: too bad about the Wharton bio, Lucy. I bet there are used copies available online (perhaps Abe Books?), but then again there's no rush.

Jul 30, 5:14pm Top


Just not for me and I didn't care for the reader either -- she wasn't too bad, but a bit too portentous or something mildly but persistently annoying.

Jul 30, 6:01pm Top

I haven't lurked about since the 24th, apparently, since I missed >83 sibyx: and it's way cool. I'll snag it to do in my thread. Coolio.

Can't see the image in >96 sibyx:, which book was that?

Happy omigosh it's almost fall!

Jul 30, 7:01pm Top

>99 richardderus: FIXED! That one sneaked by me.

Edited: Jul 30, 7:07pm Top

Have to add that today my spousal unit was staring out the window at the lilypads in the pond when he saw . . . an enormous HEAD emerging. A MOOSE was swimming about. They move incredibly fast, even at what appears to be a nonchalant walk, so he only was able to get his phone out and going for about three seconds of vid -- anyone who is a friend at FB can take a look there! Young and quite healthy, no rack so either less than a year or a female.

Jul 30, 7:49pm Top

>101 sibyx: How extremely, unnervingly, cool!

Jul 30, 7:55pm Top

>101 sibyx: WOW! That must have been quite a surprise. But very cool.

Jul 31, 1:11pm Top

Happy Birthday, Lucy! May it be a wonderful one!

>98 sibyx: I finished the book (in print, so didn't have a reader to consider) but while it was interesting, I didn't really connect.

Jul 31, 3:43pm Top

And a Happy Birthday from me too! Hope it's a grand one!

Jul 31, 3:55pm Top

I hope you've had a wonderful birthday, Lucy!

Jul 31, 9:52pm Top

>104 ronincats:, >105 LizzieD:, >106 lauralkeet: Thank you! It's been great. I got one funny but sort of wonderful gift -- a little light you keep in your handbag or in my case, canvas bag, that you carry around everywhere, full of junk (I'm thinking of Ruth Galloway and her bag right now) -- you touch it and it lights up the inside of yr bag so you can find things! :)

Edited: Jul 31, 11:48pm Top

Long may the light shine!

ETA - assuming you can find the light without a light. That would be my problem.

Aug 1, 12:03am Top

>108 LizzieD: ... What Lizzie said.

That was my problem

Aug 1, 1:14am Top

>107 sibyx: I gave one of those lights to my sister-in-law. I have a purse smaller than some wallets, well it's just barely big enough for my kindle and my phone, and actually I have 5 of them in as many colors, and if I can't find something by feel, I left it at home.

Edited: Aug 1, 11:25am Top

July stats are up at >5 sibyx: -- I went a little nuts at the used book store I like . . . . two of my finds were on my WL so that was good, right? Several books are fantasies by authors I'm interested in checking out, Novik, Rawn, Lackey. I don't expect I'll go on with most of them, but you never know.

Edited: Aug 4, 3:20pm Top

82. fantasy YA ***1/2
Cold Fire Kate Elliott

The travails and trials of Catherine Barahal continue in Book 2 when she finds herself in the Caribbean, on an island for those stricken with the Salt Plague. (It gets worse) -- No spoilers here, but the story moves along and Cat does learn more about her parentage and has more encounters with her husband. She seeks Bee, her Barahal cousin and is worried about the whereabouts of her half-brother Rory. The general, Camjiata, can he be trusted? Who can be trusted?
The mystery of the endless references to this or that one being handsome or pretty or beautiful was revealed by a trip to the Kate Elliott website -- Spiritwalker, the series, is definitely a foray into the YA genre and apparently the publishing industry has succumbed to the idea that that is all young folk care about, what you are wearing and how your hair is looking. Besides the ethical questionableness, the constant references dragged down the story. Elliott is a good writer and storyteller, but she could defy the editors, I think she's big enough. One more volume in the series to go. ***1/2

Aug 4, 3:30pm Top

>111 sibyx: What a great haul! Eighteen books is no small binge. Good ones, too!

Happy week ahead.

Aug 4, 5:17pm Top

>112 sibyx: I don't get upset by descriptions of pretty characters (unless they are red-haired green-eyed Celts, with extra pain for emerald green) and seem to remember that there was a variety of beautiful characters in Jaran and associated books, as well as the the Crown of Stars series, so I wouldn't put it all on the YA-editors.

Aug 4, 5:19pm Top

A moose in your pond! That is just way too cool.

Aug 4, 11:31pm Top

MOOSE! That is a huge critter!!!!! I'll agree that it's pretty cool.
I'm just looking at your book haul too. Nice! I read those Melanie Rawns long, long ago. I'll confess that they are among the few that I was able to let go with no regrets.

Edited: Aug 5, 11:47am Top

Yes, I am expecting i won't be all that thrilled with any of these writers, maybe Novik? But I am curious about them nonetheless.

FYI the first 7 books were acquired here and there during the earlier part of the month -- the Zafon, for instance, is the September read for my book group . . . the Rooney was strongly recommended by my SIL and so forth! And well, the next Jackson Brodie, who can resist that!

Edited: Aug 8, 8:58am Top

83. biology *****
Hair: A Human History Kurt Stenn

Like Cod or Salt or the books by Mary Roach, Stenn has written a book focussed on the many ways human lives have been entwined by hair -- not only on our bodies, but in our musical instruments, in art, in clothing, even in food (slightly yuck). Unlike those writers, Stenn has chosen a topic he not only curious about, but is his passion: he is an expert in the field and his passionate interest and deeply-rooted (sorry!) knowledge comes through. The book is extremely well-written -- informative without ever being overbearing or over-written and often amusing at just the right moment-- (who knew that 'mad as a hatter' comes from the process of dousing the beaver pelt for hats, so popular in the previous two centuries) in mercury salts that poisoned the hatters. Lots about the making of wigs, the making of first felts, then weaving . . . And as I was finishing up I was, appropriately, winding up some balls of yarn for my next knitting project! Also with a corgi or two at my feet -- Welsh dogs that are descended from the herding dogs brought to Britain by the Flemish weavers Stenn writes in the late middle ages to improve English weaving. *****

Aug 8, 5:21am Top

Just stopping by to wish you well, Lucy.

>118 sibyx: A whole book on hair: it is not hard to imagine that it could only be of interest to the fringes of society. (sorry)

Edited: Aug 8, 8:57am Top

You are a such a tease , Paul!

Edited: Aug 8, 9:15am Top

84. ♬ hist mys, rome ancient ****

I like Flavia Albia, her new husband, her family and her household, even if the whole premise is improbable -- I love the vital portrait of Rome that her job (that is the improbable part) gives her a chance to explore and describe. Domitian, the least of the Flavians, has returned from a "war" (not really) against the Dacians, and the traditional martial "triumph" of emperor and soldiers strutting about is about to get underway when a man is found thrown off a cliff on the Capitoline Hill -- this could be a very bad augury for the triumph so everyone wants it solved fast and hush hush but all the men are too busy so Flavia gets the job. Along the way you learn all you ever wanted to know about the process of making the royal purple dye - which made my sinuses hurt and made me glad I live now! ****

Aug 8, 10:27am Top

>118 sibyx:>120 sibyx: incl.
Y'all're givin' me hairballs.

Aug 9, 12:57pm Top

I read Salt way back when and was surprised how interesting I found it. Guess I should add Hair to my wish list...except I'm feeling somewhat overwhelmed by reading at the moment...but maybe I will.

Aug 9, 10:06pm Top

>122 richardderus: Haha RD - after a book on hair, maybe he'll produce a book on hairballs?

Aug 12, 8:13am Top

85. fantasy ***1/2
Cold Steel Kate Elliott

Cat Barahal's saga comes to a satisfying conclusion in this last volume of Spiritwalker. Elliott is so competent a writer and world-builder that I would not have stopped reading, but I was never fully drawn in, fully engaged -- and I kept feeling I ought to be, but I wasn't. The only reason I can think of was that in this case the choice to tell the story in the first person distanced me. That can happen. I also felt that given who her father is (trying not to spoil here) her conflicts might have been greater? Especially since we're in her head and know what she is thinking and feeling. But Elliott is Elliott, a solid fantasy writer and not every book or series is going to work for everyone, so I'm ok, and if you like her work, don't hesitate to jump in. And there are some great characters, Rory being my favourite and probably everyone else's too! ***1/2

Edited: Aug 14, 8:41am Top

86. mys/thriller ***
Down Cemetery Road Mick Herron

Sarah Trafford, Oxford housewife, is bored. Then a bomb explodes down the street while she is mired in a dinner party with mismatched guests. She learns that a small child, Dinah, aged 4 was in the house and miraculously survived. This strikes a chord and she wants to be sure the child is all right. When she goes to the hospital, however, she finds Dinah has disappeared. She hires a private investigator and the story takes off. The characters intrigue, dialogue is excellent but for me the thriller side went too far, there were too many bodies, and Herron pushed my ability to suspend disbelief. I loved Zoe, the PI's partner and I gather she features in the next few in this series, so I'll have to think about reading more. Worth it to those who love the genre. ***

Edited: Aug 16, 1:22pm Top

87. psychology
The Enabler Angelyn Miller

For such a very short book (100 pages) a lot gets said. The pattern of neediness and dependency can exist well outside of alcohol or drug use. And some traumatic event in a family, a chronic illness, physical or mental, can catapult a family into this dysfunctional mode. The essence of Miller's message is that the best thing you can do for everyone around you is attend to your own life--not selfishly by ignoring your responsibilities and relationships--but mindfully. If someone close to you needs help, best to take a moment and stop and think, "Am I really helping? Or am I tying that person to me by doing things for them, so they will need me? Can they do this for themselves?" Therefore setting boundaries and limits around what you will do for another then letting the other person struggle with the rest, painful as that can be, must be done. Well worth reading even if you don't think you have a problem being either enabling or dependent. Totally worth recommending to anyone who suddenly has to deal with a family member or close friend who has been injured badly or suffered severe depression, or some emotional crisis so that they really DO need your help for awhile. Particularly helpful to caregivers. *****

Aug 16, 12:16pm Top

>127 sibyx: A BB.

Very enticing book review. Deserves 👍 notation.

In particular, am I tying that person to me by doing things for them, so they will need me? brings to mind an Adlerian psychology book that I read some 30 years ago: Raising Kids who Can.

Bettner's book was a moment.

Edited: Aug 16, 12:52pm Top

>127 sibyx:, >128 SandyAMcPherson: oh boy yes indeed. I felt like I did better at "raising kids who can" when mine were young and living at home, and even when they were at university, than I do now when they are off in the great wide world fending for themselves. Whenever they run into some difficulty "adulting" (as they call it) and ask for advice, it's really hard for me not to get over involved. Life is a continuous learning process, isn't it?

Aug 16, 1:24pm Top

>128 SandyAMcPherson: I'll check that one out -- I think there are some newer ones based on similar Adlerian principles too.

>129 lauralkeet: I love that word "adulting"! Continuous process indeed!

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