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Cmbohn and the 999

999 Challenge

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Edited: Mar 31, 2009, 4:35pm Top

My categories so far: (subject to change)

1. From Library Thing or Good Reads

2. Biography

3. New Authors

4. Teen Books

5. LDS Books

6. Short Stories

7. Audiobooks

8. Just For Fun

9. Cooking or Food

I will probably adjust this between now and then, but at least this will get me looking at my books and help me decide what to read. I'd like to read more of the ones I have at home and haven't read before.

Edited to add my ticker!

Edited: Mar 1, 2009, 7:37pm Top

From Library Thing or Good Reads 9/9 - FINISHED!

1. Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat ****
2. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society*****
3. The Graveyard Book - Gaiman *****
4. The Corpse in the Snowman ****
5. The Lost King of France ***
6. We Have Always Lived in the Castle *****
7. Hattie Big Sky ****
8. The Uncommon Reader ***
9. The Spellman Files ***

Edited: Apr 23, 2009, 1:16pm Top

Biography 9/9 - FINISHED!

1. Man's Search for Meaning ****
2. Lavoisier in Year One **
3. Founding Mothers ***
4. The Bright Red Bow ***
5. I Am a Mother ****
6. The Long Walk ****
7. John Adams *****
8. The Sea for Breakfast ****
9. The Hiding Place *****

Edited: Apr 23, 2009, 12:27am Top

New Authors 9/9 - FINISHED!

1. Africa Explored - by Hibbert **
2. Dune by Herbert ****
3. The Trial - by Kafka *
4. March - Geraldine Brooks**
5. Defending Angels by Mary Stanton ****
6. Barchester Towers - by Trollope ****
7. The Wooden Overcoat - by Branch ****
8. A Doll's House - Ibsen *****
9. An American Childhood - by Dillard **

Edited: May 2, 2009, 5:53pm Top

Teen Books 9/9 - FINISHED!

1. Airman ****
2. Pillage ****
3. A Company of Swans ***
4. The Ruins of Gorlan ****
5. The Bar Code Tattoo ****
6. The Faerie Path***
7. The Warrior Heir *****
8. Chalice ****
9. Alfred Kropp: The Thirteenth Skull ****

Edited: Apr 29, 2009, 11:43pm Top

Edited: May 3, 2009, 2:37pm Top

Edited: Apr 13, 2009, 3:24pm Top

Cookbooks or Food 9/9 - FINISHED!

1. Real Food Revival ***
2. Cookwise ***
3. Eat This, Not That - Supermarket Survival Guide ***
4. Food Network Favorites **
5. Mendel in the Kitchen ****
6. New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant *****
7. I'm Just Here for the Food ***
8. How to be a Domestic Goddess *
9. Everyday Cooking with Jacques Pepin **

Oct 1, 2008, 4:29am Top

I was reading through your categories and I transposed the D and S in the LDS one in my head (in my defence, I've been reading Drop City, half of which is set in a 1970s hippie commune!) - it put a whole new slant on your annual reading plan ;)

Oct 1, 2008, 10:59am Top

Too funny! That would be a very different set of books indeed.

Oct 4, 2008, 8:52am Top

I too thought category five was drugs-related! LSD! What is LDS? - I can see it is Christianity related - I have this category as Religion and Philosophy.


Oct 4, 2008, 10:59pm Top

Latter-Day Saints, or Mormon. Last year I read several in this category, but I want to read some more from my own shelves this time.

Oct 5, 2008, 2:14pm Top

Jesus the Christ: Fifty Reasons Why He had to Die, looks interesting. And here was I thinking there was only one reason! Let me know what you think of it.


Oct 17, 2008, 11:00pm Top

Just got all mine tagged 999.

Oct 23, 2008, 11:36pm Top

Already had to adjust my list, as I couldn't resist reading one of them early! Just finished Alfred Kropp and the Seal of Solomon and it was so good! I just found out that there's a new one out, and I'm dying to read it too.

Oct 24, 2008, 9:42am Top

There is something to that--as soon as I put a book on my list, it immediately became something I wanted to read NOW, no matter how long it had been sitting unread on the shelf.

Oct 24, 2008, 3:53pm Top

This one was from the library, and I didn't want to have to check it out again later. Besides, it just sat there, tempting me, flashing the cover, luring me in.

Darn book!

Nov 8, 2008, 12:44pm Top

Just added Barchester Towers to my New Authors list. Has anyone else read this? Do I need to read the first one in the series first? Or can I just jump in here?

Nov 18, 2008, 3:38pm Top

Still haven't decided about Barchester Towers. I went ahead and added A Marvelous Work and A Wonder to my list. I've already started it, but since I've been reading and reading and I'm still only on page 81, I'm sure I won't finish it until next year. I may change it if I feel like it, but for now, I want to add it to the list.

Nov 18, 2008, 7:57pm Top

I have Barchester Towers on my list too and have to admit that I don't know and just plan to read it as a stand alone novel. There is somebody doing this challenge who had read practically everything by Trollope, but I can't remember who it is! Well, I'm glad I was able to be of help, ha ha ha.

Nov 19, 2008, 7:31am Top

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is one of my Favourite books of the year :) Loved it ...

Nov 19, 2008, 8:02pm Top

22 - It will be fun to see what you think! He's one of those authors I've heard about, but never actually read.

23 - Good! I can't wait!

Nov 19, 2008, 9:04pm Top

Just heard about another challenge from Irish, so I'm going to try to connect the two. It's the What's in a Name 2 challenge. Here's the link:

Sounds like fun!

Edited: Apr 23, 2009, 2:28pm Top

Here's the official challenge for What's in a Name 2:

*The Challenge: Choose one book from each of the following categories.

1. A book with a "profession" in its title. Examples might include: The Book Thief, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Historian mine: The Faith of a Scientist

2. A book with a "time of day" in its title. Examples might include: Twilight, Four Past Midnight, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time mine - Twelve Impossible Things Before Breakfast

3. A book with a "relative" in its title. Examples might include: Eight Cousins, My Father's Dragon, The Daughter of Time mine - Founding Mothers

4. A book with a "body part" in its title. Examples might include: The Bluest Eye, Bag of Bones, The Heart of Darkness mine - Men at Arms

5. A book with a "building" in its title. Examples might include: Uncle Tom's Cabin, Little House on the Prairie, The Looming Tower mine - Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World

6. A book with a "medical condition" in its title. Examples might include: Insomnia, Coma, The Plague mine - Life's Handicap

*You may overlap books with other challenges, but please don't use the same book for more than one category.


Nov 20, 2008, 5:54am Top

Sounds like fun! Have joined the challenge!

Nov 20, 2008, 6:12am Top

I'll be joining too - I just have to tidy my blog up a bit first!

Dec 3, 2008, 1:41pm Top

Just adding a few books here and there, mostly from my list 1: Library Thing or Good Reads books. And I'm wondering if I want to add an unofficial 10th category of books that I Book Cross, as my husband informed me that we have too many books. Probably true, but they aren't ALL mine!

Dec 3, 2008, 2:46pm Top

I heard good things about The Host from a few people last night. I'm looking forward to hearing what you think of it.

Dec 19, 2008, 12:46am Top

I added A Doll's House, but LT has it listed as A Doll House. The cover says Doll's, so I'm assuming that's the correct way to spell it. I have to admit I've never read it.

Dec 19, 2008, 3:54pm Top

20> I'm pretty sure The Warden is the first book in the series. Not sure if the books need to be read in order, since that's the only Trollope I've read so far. (It was my pick for my classics book group. At some point I'll be putting up wiki pages at LT tracking what my historical fiction and classics book groups have read over the years.)

There's at least one Trollope expert here at LT (Ellen, of ellenandjim). I'll drop her a line with your question, see if she has time to answer.

Dec 20, 2008, 12:53am Top

The Warden is definitely the first.

Dec 21, 2008, 7:33pm Top

Ellen's reply about whether to read _Barchester Towers_ first:

"I think you lose the original mood and feel of the central character of _Barchester Towers_. It doesn't take that long to read _The Warden_."

Dec 24, 2008, 1:07pm Top

Thanks for checking for me. I'll have to decide what to do.

Jan 1, 2009, 7:34pm Top

I've officially started my 999 with the book Airman by Eoin Colfer. It good so far, but I'm only at chapter 3. This was supposed to be in my 888 challenge, but I substituted another book. So my daughter has been well, um, nagging me about reading it this year.

After this it will have to be The 39 Clues: One False Note because my SON is nagging me about that one.

Then maybe I'll get to choose one I want to read!

Jan 3, 2009, 12:31am Top

Review for Three Act Tragedy

Well, it's no surprise to me that my first book finished is a mystery! I didn't plan it that way, but I got this today at the library book sale, so I couldn't resist reading it right away!

Hercule Poirot has been invited to many parties, but this one was different. The local vicar dropped dead after drinking a cocktail. At first, the death is presumed to be from natural causes. But a few weeks later, a doctor who was a guest at the fatal party also drops dead after finishing a drink.

Poirot is not a central character in this book until towards the end. The main character at first is Mr. Satterthwaite, a conventional gentleman of uncertain age. That makes it a little different from the regular Poirot book. Well done and fun, but not extraordinary. 3/5 stars

Jan 3, 2009, 11:54pm Top

Review for The Pale Horse:

Christie has several titles that are sort of similar, so I guess I had this book confused with another. As I started reading, I realized that I couldn't remember what happened in this one. I know that I read it before, but it must have been a long time ago.

The book opens with a man having a meal in a tea shop. He sees two girls get into a fight. Later he asks a waiter about them and learns their names. The next day he reads that one of the girls is dead.

The book then jumps to a dying woman who asks for a priest. The priest arrives and counsels with the woman. She then dies and as he is leaving, he is struck down in the street.

How these two incidents connect is the focus of the book. Mark Easterbrook becomes convinced that someone is using a very unusual method of murder - and what's more, it's a very successful method. There are plenty of suspects, as well as plenty of red herrings, and the plot twists several times. Ariadne Oliver appears in this one, but none of Christie's regular detectives do.

I really enjoyed this one and I would be happy to read it again. I'm glad I found it! 4.5/5 stars.

Jan 4, 2009, 12:02am Top

Review for Mrs. McGinty's Dead:

Superintendent Spence is retiring, and he is justly proud of his record. He has never hung an innocent man - until now. Although the evidence seems solid enough and there are no other suspects, Spence just can't convince himself that meek James Bentley murdered his landlady. But he is called off on another case, so he turns to an old friend - Hercule Poirot.

Poirot is more than willing to look into the murder. He is not finding retirement as congenial as he thought he would and he is convinced by the case Spence makes. But time is against him and he must rush to get to the bottom of this murder.

Fortunately, Ariadne Oliver is also on the scene, and she unearths several helpful clues for Poirot. The case is soon wrapped up in the fate of four women, each involved in a murder committed many years ago. Mrs. McGinty knew something about one of those cases. But which one?

I enjoyed this story. Mrs. Oliver is always a fun character. But it's Poirot I want to read about, and this book was a solid example of the great detective at work. 4/5 stars.

Jan 6, 2009, 6:22pm Top

Review for Airman grr, touchstones!

Conor Broekhart is born flying - literally. Conor's mother and father went for a hot air balloon ride when someone took a shot at the balloon. The shock sent his mother into premature labor and Conor was born before they touched the ground.

Despite his charmed beginning, things go very wrong for Conor later. His family lives in the castle of a small island fortress. When Conor uncovers a plot to assassinate their king, the man responsible, Count Bonvilain, frames Conor and has him thrown into the castle prison. Conor then spends years coming up with a way to escape and seek revenge.

I really enjoyed this one. I am just so impressed by Eion Colfer. He is a truly versatile writer. Artemis Fowl is a crazy twist on fantasy/sci fi. Then he writes a modern buddy story in Benny and Omar. Half Moon Investigations is a detective story. And now this is an exciting adventure. 4/5 stars.

Jan 9, 2009, 4:29pm Top

I started on The Wooden Overcoat - not what I was expecting. It's about an acquitted murderer and what happens after the trial is over. It's supposed to be funny, in a dark sort of way.

Jan 9, 2009, 4:47pm Top

About the mystery rereads -

I may change this category, as I am not exactly finding it hard. For me, part of this challenge is that it is, well, challenging! But rereading my favorite books is not exactly hard. I would do that anyway! Not sure what I want instead though. Maybe short stories? I'll have to think about it.

Jan 9, 2009, 4:48pm Top

I'm finding my non-fiction (self-improvement) category very challenging!

Jan 9, 2009, 10:48pm Top

I rearranged my categories, so now three of the reviews up there don't apply anymore! Oh well. I think this will be more challenging and fun.

Jan 9, 2009, 11:22pm Top

I put several easy categories in mine, because others will be plenty hard, and I think reading 81 books will be a challenge enough. I admire that you are trying to make yours even harder, though, cmbohn.

Jan 9, 2009, 11:56pm Top

I was just reading your thread and the following line (post #29) made me LOL!

as my husband informed me that we have too many books.

Jan 10, 2009, 1:32pm Top

I'm beginning to think that maybe, just maybe, he might be right. But only a little.

Jan 11, 2009, 6:45pm Top

Just finished The Lost King of France today. It wasn't what I expected, really. I guess I was focused on the subtitle - "How DNA solved the mystery of the murdered son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette." However, that was only about the last 1/4 of the book. The first part was all about the French Revolution and Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI.

Wow, some of this was tough to read. The details of what the Royal family endured were horrific. Just reading about the crazy mobs and their bloodlust was disgusting. A very sad insight into human nature - just as the king was trying to make things more just and fair for the masses, they arrest him.

I had no idea of what the little prince suffered and as a mother, I found it completely despicable that anyone would treat a child, any child, in just a cruel and inhuman way. I know that abuse happens, of course, but to know that so many people knew what was going on and none of them did anything, that is really disturbing.

The last part was interesting though. I can recommend it, but it really is only in part about science. Most of it is history, and very sad history at that.

Jan 11, 2009, 6:56pm Top

Review for The Wooden Overcoat:

This book started off kind of slow. Benjamin Cain was just acquitted of murder. He's adjusting to life outside of prison and thinking about what to do next when a stranger approaches and invites him to lunch at his club.

Cain enjoys his meal at the Asterisk Club until he learns that all the members there are also acquitted murderers - at least one charged with multiple murderers. He begins to wonder if the soup tasted a little off.

His new friend finds him a room in a boarding house just next door to the club. After one night in the house, his new landlady discovers Cain - dead.

As I said, the book got off to a slow start, and I was almost ready to give in. Then it started getting interesting. Then not much later, it got funny. Then it got completely hilarious! In a dark way, all right, but still - hilarious. An unexpectedly great read.

Jan 14, 2009, 2:19pm Top

Review (of sorts) for Cross Creek

I started this one yesterday and found it a tough read. It's set in Florida in the 50s, I think, and the racial stereotypes are very much from that era. It's one thing to read it in Huck Finn, or something like that, where it's characters talking. But when it's a memoir and the writer calls someone a 'darky' I just can't stomach that. I gave up on this one. I have an old copy of the book that might have belonged to my mom when she was young. I'm going to give it back to her if she wants it, and the thrift store if not.

Edited: Jan 14, 2009, 2:55pm Top

Review of Withering Heights:

Ellie Haskell has shipped the kids off to their grandparents and is looking forward to a little private romantic time with her husband, but things rapidly take another turn. She and Ben have a tiff, her cleaning lady Mrs. Malloy has a feud to resolve, and a stray cousin shows up expecting help.

It seems that Ben's cousin has won the lottery and bought an old historic home complete with a mystery. Ariel, the cousin's daughter, is convinced FOUL PLAY is at work and needs Ellie to come and hold her hand. Oh, and Mrs. Malloy's long lost sister just happens to live in the same village. So it's off to Yorkshire they go, Ben, Ellie, Ariel, and Mrs. Malloy.

I love the screwball humor that Dorothy Cannell always works into her books, and Ellie and Mrs. Malloy make a very funny combination. This book is no exception, with a seance, garden party, an old flame, and various other plot twists thrown in. But it wasn't quite as good as some of the previous efforts. The ending was a bit of a disappointment, and I guessed 'whodunnit' about halfway through. Fun, but not her best. Still, it was much better than the previous book I tried to read, so I enjoyed it.

Jan 14, 2009, 3:06pm Top

Oh, Dorothy Cannell! I'd forgotten about her! I think I must be 2 or 3 books behind... yet more books to add to my wishlist!

Jan 14, 2009, 7:32pm Top

Apparently there's one more called Goodbye Mrs. Chips. It sounds like fun.

Jan 15, 2009, 9:32am Top

Withering Heights sounds like a good time....is this a series? Are there a lot of books before this one? I read alot of mysteries in a series and, I guess, one more wouldn't hurt me but where do I put these on the list, beginning, middle, end?

Jan 15, 2009, 2:28pm Top

This is the 12th in the series. It starts with The Thin Woman. She also writes some not in a series, one I like being called God Save the Queen. All are very much cozies and some hysterically funny. My husband saw me reading How to Murder Your Mother in Law and asked me if he should warn his mom!

Edited: Jan 15, 2009, 3:51pm Top

Review of Real Food Revival:

There's been a movement lately to try to get Americans back to the basics when it comes to food - plain food, done well, with local and organic ingredients, prepared simply. This book is another in that vein, but presented in a simple format. This one takes us 'aisle by aisle' through the basic food types and tells us first what's wrong with absolutely everything you like and then what you should do instead.

Perhaps you can tell from my grumpiness that I'm not completely converted to this way of thinking. As I sat last night at the dinner table, eating my Rice-a-Roni and frozen chicken prepackaged and preseasoned, plus my canned mandarin oranges (I got that one right, at least! I think.) I thought that I probably could make a few changes.

There is certainly some important stuff in here. I know buying local, organic ingredients is best. But my basic objections remain. This way of life is really only practical for those with the money to shop that way. People living on the edge of their income will not make these kinds of changes. I know; I've been there. When your grocery budget for the entire month is measured out by each careful dollar, you simply can't afford to buy these organic ingredients. It means going without.

But what I have decided to do is read my labels more carefully and see what exactly I am buying. My favorite quote from the book: "Good food should be valued on its quality, not its ability to turn your tongue purple."

Jan 16, 2009, 12:15am Top

Review of The Green Man:

I just found this collection of short stories at the library and it looked like fun. Like most collections, I really liked some of the stories, some were fun, but nothing special, and some were not my style at all. I did find some new authors to read - Tanith Lee and M. Shayne Bell both had stories I really enjoyed.

Jan 18, 2009, 4:43pm Top

Review of Chalice:

How many times can Robin McKinley rewrite Beauty and the Beast? Well, if every retelling were as fresh and original as this one, she could keep it up for as long as she wanted and I would keep right on reading them!

Chalice starts with a young woman awaiting the arrival of the new Master of their lands. The young woman is named Marisol, but is called Chalice, because that is her customary function. As Chalice, she is to work closely with the new Master and restore the Willowlands to harmony and balance.

I really enjoyed this book. My main complaints are that first, there was so much description and not enough dialogue; and second, that the book often jumped around in time and sometimes had me confused about if the event I was reading about was happening now or in the past.

But I can recommend this book. I liked Marisol as a character and couldn't wait to see how it would end. My daughter, whose book I borrowed, says that she enjoyed it more the second time she read it. Maybe I will try it again myself and see if she's right.

Jan 20, 2009, 12:42am Top

Review of The Graveyard Book

I have read so many reviews of this book. So let me just share my impressions.

I have only read Gaiman's children's books so far, and I have loved everyone I've read. With this book, he has again created something to be proud of. As a retelling of The Jungle Book, he has created something really new and wonderful. The main character Bod, or Nobody Owens, is so well drawn and appealing. In fact, he is really a much better character than Mowgli, because in The Jungle Book, it is the animals which are full and interesting characters. In this one, Bod is definitely the center of the book. I loved watching him grow and develop. The big final scenes were suspenseful and funny. But I admit that the last chapter made me cry.

I would recommend this one for teens or older kids, as long as you warn them that the opening chapter is quite violent. The actual violence takes place 'behind the scenes,' but the sense of danger and evil is very real and shocking, if you are not expecting it. After that, the suspense builds slowly, but it is certainly there. 5 stars!

Jan 22, 2009, 6:33pm Top

Review of A Company of Swans

Harriet is stifling in her excessively academic home, penned in between her professor father's stiffness and her aunt's stinginess. Her one escape is ballet. But when even her weekly lessons have been cut off, Harriet finds the courage to escape her colorless life and journey to Brazil.

I liked Harriet as a character, and I liked the romance. I was a little disappointed with the way the story twisted, bringing Harriet and Rom together in such a way. The setting and the characters were well written, but it could have been so much better. 3/5 stars.

Jan 22, 2009, 6:44pm Top

I keep moving things around, so we'll see how this current configurations works.

Jan 24, 2009, 3:10pm Top

Review for Fer De Lance:

The first Nero Wolfe story. I was surprised by how the characters are already complete in their quirks and their relationships with one another. I wouldn't say it's my favorite in the series, but I did enjoy it enough to look for another audiobook.

And thanks to MrsLee for reminding me about this series!

Jan 25, 2009, 9:33pm Top

Review for Barchester Towers:

The death of the bishop of the fictional town of Barchester sets in motion a pitched battle of religion in this book by Anthony Trollope. One one side is the new bishop, his domineering wife, and his ambitious new chaplain, Mr. Slope. On the other side is practically every other member of the clergy in the town, from the dean, the archbishop, and the entire chapter.

Entangled in the dispute is mild Mr. Harding, formerly warden of the Barchester hospital, providing bed and care for 12 worthy aged men. A scandal forces him from his position and threatens to split the town in half. Mr. Harding's widowed daughter Mrs. Bold is another focus of the story, this time providing the romance. With three eligible men seeking her hand - or is it her fortune - she remains oblivious until her hand is almost literally forced.

I was surprised to find myself really enjoying this book. The beginning was rather rough, started as it does with solely ecclesiastical matters. I know nothing at all of the organization of the Anglican church and was bewildered by the politics involved. But once the personalities behind the offices began to emerge, I was really hooked. The style is rather old-fashioned, but not so much that I couldn't read it quickly. Highly recommended - lots of fun.

Jan 26, 2009, 11:25am Top

Thanks for your review of Barchester Towers. It's listed on my 999 Challenge and now it looks much more attractive.

Edited: Jan 26, 2009, 11:47am Top

I've never read Trollope - don't know quite how I've managed that - but I have added Barchester Towers to my TBR. It follows The Warden, doesn't it? Is it better to read that one first?

Jan 26, 2009, 2:24pm Top

I haven't read The Warden, but I didn't have any trouble starting here. I would say it might help to read it first, but it isn't necessary. It was really a good book.

Jan 26, 2009, 5:21pm Top

Thanks. That makes things less complicated at the library!

Jan 28, 2009, 10:59pm Top

Review of An American Childhood

Annie Dillard describes her childhood in post-WWII Pittsburgh. She opens the book with the metaphor that as children, we are all asleep to the wonder of life. Then at some point, we awake and realize how amazing life is. My problem is that I never remember feeling that way. She uses the metaphor over and over in the book, and every time, I just couldn't relate. Maybe it's a personal thing, or maybe it's a generational thing - maybe children in the age of divorce and family stress 'wake up' so much earlier that we aren't even aware of it.

I think the book is better if read in small portions, as a series of individual essay. Reading it all at once (well, over several days) I found myself losing interest. Just not my cup of tea at all. 2 stars, and I think that's generous.

Jan 30, 2009, 7:14pm Top

Review for Life's Handicap

This book is a collection of short stories written by Rudyard Kipling. They include one story written when he was only 19, and vary in size from 2 1/2 pages to much longer stories.

All of the stories are set in colonial India, and share some basic themes: the conflict between the races, the doubt over the value of civilization, the frustration over fighting a losing battle, and yet the joy in comradeship, even if the war is a pointless one.

I didn't read the preface until I was at least halfway through the book, and then I spotted the warning that the best stories are placed at the beginning of the book. As I read more, I had to agree with that. The later stories are too brief to be more than mildly interesting and the ideas are not solid enough to be worth a longer story.

I enjoyed this book more than I expected at first. I had a couple of problems. One is that the book makes extensive use of dialect, which can be hard to read. And this edition also included endnotes for each story, which made it feel more like I was reading a textbook and less like I was reading a story.

But I did enjoy some of the stories very much. My favorite ones in this collection were 'The Man Who Was' and 'Without Benefit of Clergy'.

If you are a fan of Kipling, or if you want to read more about colonial India and the British Empire, I really recommend this collection.

Jan 31, 2009, 1:07pm Top

Review of The Spellman Files

In the Spellman family, it's perfectly normal to be suspicious of everyone. Privacy is nonexistent. Trust no one.

Unsurprisingly, this attitude has profound consequences for the relationships in the family. David is a perfect child, and as a very smart guy takes the first chance he can to get out of the house. Izzy is the wild child, but her rebellion stops short of actually moving away. And Rae grows up thinking everything is a matter for negotiation and expects to be paid for taking a shower.

The reason the family is so messed up is that they are all private investigators. After years of following suspects, digging through their trash, taking surveillance photos, and illegal wiretapping, they have no idea how to have a normal family.

I enjoyed this book. Izzy is a crazy character, but I found myself sympathizing with her. I loved Rae. But I really couldn't understand the parents. They treated their children as suspects. That's just wrong.

When I first heard of this book, I had the impression that it was a teen book. It's not. It's not that it's inappropriate for teens, really. There is drug and alcohol abuse and references to casual sex and the language is a little rough. But that's found in many teen books. It's just that it's written from Izzy's point of view as a 28 year old adult.

I enjoyed this book. It wasn't exactly deep, but it kept me up late last night, waiting to see what happened. I am extremely glad that my family is nothing like the Spellmans.

Feb 2, 2009, 9:53pm Top

Review of The Language Instinct

I had a hard time with this book. When I started it, I was excited because the introduction was really good and it looked like the rest of the book would be also. But it soon got very technical and dull. Then it would get more interesting again. Then it would be very hard to read and understand. Then we'd have several pages of diagrams and obscure notation.

I don't really know how to rate this book. The basic idea is that language is a human instinct, and that language is acquired naturally. I understood a lot of his examples and some of what he said made sense. But I was frankly lost a lot of the time. I did study linguistics at least a little back in college, but that was not much help here.

I would say if you are interested in the subject, it might be worth a try, but it's certainly not for everyone.

Feb 3, 2009, 4:02pm Top

Review of Murder and Other Acts of Literature

Very impressive collection of stories. My favorite is the one by James Thurber, 'The Macbeth Murder Mystery.' I also enjoyed the ones by Rudyard Kipling, W. S. Gilbert, and A. A. Milne.

What was interesting about this collection was that none of the stories were written by people considered mystery writers. It just shows that everyone loves a good crime.

Great collection for mystery lovers, those who love short stories, and those who love good writing.

Feb 3, 2009, 5:46pm Top

Good to know about Murder and Other Acts of Literature. I will have to add it to my list.

Milne also wrote a full-length mystery called The Red House Mystery. It was an old-fashioned, traditional-type mystery.

Feb 3, 2009, 7:10pm Top

I have that one and I really like it. I wonder why he didn't write more mysteries?

Feb 3, 2009, 11:47pm Top

I don't know re Milne. I am always amazed at who does write mysteries, either long ago or currently. I read one by Martina Navratilova, for instance. Now I see that Joan Rivers has one out. Murder at the Academy Awards or something like that.

Edited: Feb 23, 2009, 12:40am Top

Review for Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World

OK, look at that cat on the cover. How can you resist such a face? But this book is a lot more than a cute cat story. I like cute cat stories well enough, but there's a reason this book has been so popular and it's not just because of the cat. Writer Vicki Myron takes us through the history of the little town of Sheridan, the farm crisis in the 1980s and 1990s and right into the heart of the Midwestern small town.

That being said, Dewey is a very special cat. He was able to unite the whole town (well, almost) and bring a little love into some desperate hearts. Anyone who loves cats, libraries, or small town America will find much to love in this little book.

Feb 7, 2009, 12:24am Top

Review for The Silent Speaker

The feud between the Bureau of Price Regulation and the National Industrial Association has been long and bitter, but few thought it would end in murder. At a large public dinner, however, that's just what happened. Nero Wolfe takes the NIA as a client and agrees to find out who murdered BPR president Cheney Boone. With Archie Goodwin providing the legwork and goading his boss into action, the case moves along until a second murder changes everything.

I have enjoyed Nero Wolfe mysteries for a long time, but not as much as some other mystery series. Maybe it's because there are just so many of them that they do get to be a little too similar. This one, though, stands out as the case that actually caused Nero Wolfe to leave the house. If you enjoy mysteries and you haven't tried writer Rex Stout before, this is not a bad place to start.

Feb 7, 2009, 2:13am Top

Well, now you've done it--I've never read any Rex Stout, and we have over 20 in our library! and I was just sitting here tonite thinking how I'm really getting in the mood for a good mystery. Of course, wouldn't you know, The Silent Speaker is not one we own. Is there another one you'd suggest instead?

Feb 7, 2009, 3:44pm Top

The first in the series is Fer de Lance, but it's not necessary to read them in strict order. Some Buried Caesar and Too Many Cooks are also both good. In the Best Families is really, really good, but I wouldn't read that until you've already tried a couple, as it builds on your knowledge of the characters.

Hope that helped!

Feb 8, 2009, 12:19am Top

Great!! I have all four of those on hand-- we have 22 by Rex Stout, so I may hop into one of those tomorrow. Thanks for the hints.

Feb 8, 2009, 12:25am Top

Review for The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I *LOVED* this book.

Writer Juliet Ashton has come through World War II more or less intact, although her flat was destroyed by bombs. But she's doing all right and ready to start a new project. Around then, she starts a correspondence with Dawsey Adams, an inhabitant of the tiny island of Guernsey. They've been cut off from all communication with England for 5 years and are desperate to catch back up to what they've missed.

Soon Juliet (and through her, the reader) finds herself completely drawn into the wartime history of this small community. Through letters, she makes friends with people she's never met, and must reexamine what she wants out of life.

It sounds just too heartwarming and sappy for words, but I thought it was great. I actually remembered a little of the history of Guernsey before I read the book, but I found myself horrified at some of the things I read. I kept telling my husband - "Guess what!" and then telling him something I had read.

The characters are wonderful, funny and tragic and pathetic. The setting is so well done. I have to add the isle of Guernsey to another of the places I would love to visit.

I really recommend this book! It's one of those books that as soon as I finished it, I wanted to go back and read it again.

Feb 10, 2009, 12:13am Top

Review for No Time for Goodbye

Cynthia was a fairly bratty teenager who gave her parents a rough time now and then. But she wasn't prepared to wake up and find that her entire family - mom, dad, and older brother - have all disappeared.

25 years later, Cynthia is married with a daughter of her own and she's still wondering what happened. Were they murdered? Why was she spared? Did they just leave? Why didn't they take her too? Are they still alive and looking for her?

When she decides to find some answers, strange things start happening - things that might just have some unpleasant consequences.

I enjoyed this book. It's called a 'surburban thriller' on the cover, and that's not a bad description. The most terrifying plot, to me, is the one that strikes very close to home. This one had me guessing. It's narrated by Cynthia's husband, and I think that made it even more suspenseful, since we couldn't get a look inside her head, but had to guess, like he did, on what she was really thinking. Some raw language in this one, more than I was comfortable with. But a solid plot that twists even at the very end.

Feb 12, 2009, 7:15pm Top

Catching up, I finished A Marvelous Work and a Wonder and The Trial this week, as well as reading the second Fablehaven book, which wasn't a 999 book. Thank goodness for that book, because I didn't really enjoy either of the previous two. I hated the protagonist in The Trial. I know it's all symbolic and meaningful, but he was such a jerk that I didn't really care what he was going through. I'm just glad to be done with it!

As for A Marvelous Work, I did enjoy parts of it and learned some new things, it was a tedious read really. Richards would quote scripture extensively - almost too extensively. If there was a verse he could use, he did. It took forever to read with very small print at times. Then when he shared a personal experience, it was always brief. Still, it's a little hard to rate it.

Now I'm reading March - Geraldine Brooks and having trouble with that one too. She seems to be basing his character on Alcott's brother. Some of the scenes are rather brutal and I'm not in a hurry to pick it up and read more.

I think next year I need to make sure I am reading more books I really enjoy.

Feb 12, 2009, 10:15pm Top

I LOVE the Fablehaven series! They are on my reread category! The 4th one comes out in March I believe. I have already changed a few books on my list for ones I think I would enjoy better. I wanted to do a LDS book category, but I flipped it and did LDS author's instead. I have a hard time getting into books that quote scriptures a lot. I'm not saying it's bad, but it just takes me FOREVER to finish books like that!:) I've never read A Marvelous Work and a Wonder. Fire of the Covenant is a GREAT one! I loved it!

Feb 13, 2009, 4:21pm Top

Jessica Day George is a new LDS author who has some great fantasy books out. And Shannon Hale is very good too.

Thanks for the recommendation on Fire of the Covenant. I'm still waiting on that one from the library.

Feb 13, 2009, 4:34pm Top

Review of The Open House

John Appleby, formerly of Scotland Yard, is traveling through unfamiliar countryside when his car breaks down. After setting off to find an inn and get a place to spend the night, his flashlight dies. He has no choice but to hike along the dirt road hoping to find shelter.

He is stunned - literally - when he discovers a large house blazing with light. After he recovers, he heads for the building, hoping to find someone at home. But he can see no one. He discovers dinner on the table, laid for one, a fire and pajamas in the bedroom, but not a single person. He finds the library and helps himself to a drink.

Just like that, Appleby has stumbled onto another of the strange sort of mystery stories that typify Michael Innes. It reminded me of Death by Water or Sheiks and Adders, with that same sort of beginning. Not quite as much fun as those two books, it was still a good read.

Feb 13, 2009, 4:47pm Top

Thanks for the Innes review. As I accidentally said on the other thread, I've got two of the Appleby books. I know nothing about them but now I will add one to my 999 list.

The two I've got are: Appleby & the Ospreys and Appleby & Honeybath.

Feb 13, 2009, 4:50pm Top

Appleby and Honeybath are short stories. I think that would be a good one to start with. I liked Appleby and the Ospreys as well.

Feb 19, 2009, 7:02pm Top

Review for March - Geraldine Brooks

I just finished this one today and it took me forever! Like many girls, I read Little Women as a child and loved it. I read all the books in the series. So you might think a book about one of the characters would be very appealing to me. And so it might, but not this book.

Reverend March is always the most obscure of the family in this series, as he is away at war when the book opens. So Geraldine Brooks has lots of room to imagine a new story for him. She opens the book with March in the middle of battle in the Civil War.

Now naturally, a book mostly about the Civil War would not exactly be cheerful. But it wouldn't necessarily be depressing and feel like a chore to read. That's exactly how I felt reading this book. I know lots of people have said good things about it. But I didn't like it at all. I didn't like the central character all that much. I did feel that he was a moral man, trying to stand up for what he believes in a very complicated situation. But I didn't like him. And I was unhappy with the interpretation Brooks gives to the whole March household.

I'm not sure if I'll read any more by this author, but it sure wasn't what I expected and I'm glad to be done with it.

Feb 19, 2009, 7:10pm Top

Review for The Queen in Winter - Kurland

This was a little collection of short fantasy/romance stories, by 4 women writers, that I picked up at the library book sale. I had never tried any of the authors before, so I thought it would be a fun experiment.

And it was fun. The first story, A Whisper of Spring, was by Lynn Kurland and it was a tale of a kidnapped elven princess and a wizard human prince who goes to rescue her. Nothing especially deep, but I just loved it. I liked the characters and the storytelling itself. I wish it had been longer, because I really wanted to read more about the characters.

The only story I wasn't especially happy with was the one by Claire Delacroix, a twist on the Snow Queen story that didn't really fit in with either the collection or the fairy tale itself.

But as always, part of the fun in a collection like this is that you discover some new authors - ones you like, ones you don't - and everyone else has a different opinion about it. I will look for more by Kurland and by Sharon Shinn.

Edited: Feb 19, 2009, 7:20pm Top

Review for Twelve Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Writer Jane Yolen is very versatile, and some of her things I've loved (Boots and the Seven Leaguers, Wizard Hall), some I've liked, (Armageddon Summer), and some were just okay (Girl in a Cage). But I grabbed this collection of short stories for my challenge knowing that I would be bound to like at least half the stories.

The title is a reference to Wonderland, and her first story is called "Tough Alice." That could be a theme too. Don't look for any helpless, passive girls here. Not all the stories feature a female protagonist, but when it does, Yolen does not spend her time writing about victims. My favorite story in the book was the last one, a neat little twist on Peter Pan. I can't say too much, or I would give the story away, but it was very clever and fun to read. A great book for young girls or their moms.

Feb 20, 2009, 8:40am Top

Hmmm, I will have to look out for the Jane Yolen book.

I'm keeping March on my wishlist, but I did like your review. I liked her newest book, People of the Book, very much, but took issue with Year of Wonder because all the "good" people thought and behaved just like modern people and only the "bad" characters behaved or thought in anything approaching a medieval way. Now, I have no way of actually knowing how people thought back then, but I'm pretty sure there wasn't a large supply of secular humanistic feminists with a respect for Wicca running around far-flung rural villages.

Feb 20, 2009, 12:24pm Top

89> My historical fiction book group read Brooks' March and what we found was that members who were the biggest Little Women and Good Wives fans were the least likely to enjoy Brooks.

I didn't read Little Women and Good Wives until I was an adult, and wasn't infatuated with the story as seen in movies (may have been Hepburn -- I like Audrey but not so much the other one {except in "Desk Set"}). Since the books were semi-autobiographical, I just took it as imagining how Bronson Alcott fit into the family. And the fact that Louisa May left him out of her novel....

I haven't read Eden's Outcasts yet, but it would be interesting to read that and then do a reread of March.

As for Geraldine Brooks, we read Year of Wonders first, and as a group were unanimously pleased with about 95% of the book. We don't often agree in favor of a book, so that was fairly significant.

Feb 20, 2009, 12:39pm Top

>89 cmbohn: - 91

I enjoyed reading your reviews. You have reinforced my hesitation about reading March, but the short story collections sound very interesting to me.

Feb 20, 2009, 1:02pm Top

>89 cmbohn:, 92, 93

I was dissatisfied with March as well, and really couldn't bring myself to like Reverend March, or the interpretation of the March household... But I did really enjoy People of the Book (which was why I read March in the first place).

Feb 20, 2009, 2:58pm Top

This was my first book by Geraldine Brooks, so I think I will have to give her another chance. And you're right, I did read all the Little Women books as a girl and loved them. But I admit also that I reread Little Women when I was an adult and thought, "What am I missing? I used to love this book!"

I think another part of the trouble with March is that there was so much theology and philosophy in it that it kind of slowed me down. Then the action would pick up and the plot would get moving and I'd get interested again. Then we'd get more philosophic debate. It made it hard for me to read.

Feb 20, 2009, 4:24pm Top

I really liked March and haven't read Little Women since I was young so that probably gave me some distance. I can't remember that the theology etc were problamatic, more that I became interested in reading more on that period of American history. I liked that she based March's character on Alcott's real life father - I also think her research into the subjects she's writing about is pretty thorough. I loved People of the Book

I'm also a big fan of Eoin Colfer - have you read his The Legend of Spud Murphy - it's for younger readers and quite hilarious. I must read Airman, I have it here in my tbr pile.

Feb 20, 2009, 7:22pm Top

No, I haven't read Spud Murphy! I'd better put it on my list right away.

Feb 20, 2009, 7:56pm Top

Review for The Faerie Path

Anita has great plans for her 16th birthday - a day out with her new boyfriend, followed by a party the next day. Unfortunately, a boating accident lands her in the hospital. She's not sure if it's the head injury or her mysterious new present that keeps giving her these visions of a different world.

Suddenly, Anita finds out that she is not who she believed herself to be all this time - she is a fairy. Really. The seventh daughter, foretold in rhyme and missing from Faerie for 500 years. But she is not so sure that she is ready to say goodbye to the only life she has ever known.

I had really, really high hopes for this book. Between the gorgeous cover and the title and the blurb, it sounded like a fabulous read. Well, it was a little bit of a disappointment. I did like Anita as a character, but the plot was a little too predictable. The book itself seemed to me a bit fluffy. I would have liked a little more substance. It is the first in a series of three, and you can tell the writer is setting it up for 'further revelations.' I will probably read the next one in this series, but it wasn't quite as magical as I hoped it would be.

Feb 22, 2009, 12:24am Top

Review for The Uncommon Reader

Her Majesty the Queen is at home one day when the dogs decide to explore a bit and find the Mobile Library parked outside the palace kitchen. She investigates and feels that since she is there, the least she can do is borrow a book. She takes a book by an author she remembers meeting and feels obliged to read it.

This little act sets up a chain reaction that has quite the consequences. The Royal household is rather shaken to find Her Majesty reading when she ought to be doing Something Worthwhile.

There really isn't much more to this book than what I just said, but it's a short little book and rather amusing.

Feb 22, 2009, 12:29am Top

Review for Death Dines In

A collection of short mystery stories revolving around food or poisoning. I didn't find any stories that I just loved, but the one by Donna Andrews was good, as was the first one by Parnell Hall. Disappointing, really.

Edited: Feb 23, 2009, 12:33am Top

Review for History of Joseph Smith by His Mother

Lucy Mack Smith describes the early history of the LDS church, including her own life and history. At times it would slow down a bit, and would have benefited from some more modern editing as far as format goes. But I was fascinated by the accounts of the visions and dreams her husband had even before Joseph's First Vision. The stories of the suffering of the early saints was terrible to read. And I also realized that Lucy first her husband, and then 4 of her sons in just weeks. It must have been a tremendously painful thing to go through.

This was a little old-fashioned in places, but it was an easy read and I finished it in one day.

Edited: Feb 23, 2009, 12:58am Top

Review for You Can Heal Your Life

I checked this one out from the library and had it too long, so I had to return it. I am honestly not sure whether I liked it or not! It focused on finding and accepting your true self, which I think is a great quest. But she carried it so far that I had trouble finishing the book. There are lots of exercises in it which I think were helpful, but I didn't like the way that she blamed every single bad thing that you ever experience into something you chose. I simply don't agree with that. It sounds a lot like blaming. And since I do not have complete control over the entire universe, I don't see how EVERYTHING that I experience can be my fault.

I would like to get this book again when I have the time and see if I find anything else that I can use, but for now, I have other books I'm working with, so it will have to wait.

Feb 23, 2009, 8:35pm Top

Review for Sherlock Holmes Through Time and Space

This was a collection of short stories centered around the legendary detective, chosen mostly by editor Isaac Asimov. I like Sherlock Holmes, but I am not a dedicated Holmesian. Still, the idea of using a science fiction twist to examine the stories was an intriguing one and I was pleased to find this at the library.

The collection starts off with an authentic Holmes story by Arthur Conan Doyle, 'The Adventure of the Devil's Foot.' Then it jumps into the science fiction theme, with stories by Philip Jose Farmer, Fred Saberhagen, Poul Anderson, and one by Asimov himself to round out the book. Some of the stories were well developed along lines established by Doyle himself, but some ranged very far afield. One very brief story by S. N. Farber was little more than a long pun, but it was quite funny.

My favorite stories, besides the Farber, were 'Death in the Christmas Hour' by James Powell and 'The Adventure of the Extraterrestrial' by Mack Reynolds. I also liked 'The adventure of the Global Traveler' which starred not Holmes but Professor Moriarty in a very clever tale. I wasn't quite as happy with the ones featuring Holmes as a dog or involving robots, but the nice thing about a collection is that you are almost always bound to find one you really enjoy.

In short, a nice little collection for Holmes fans willing to stretch a little.

Feb 23, 2009, 8:46pm Top

Review for Thou Shell of Death

My friend bcquinnsmom has been reading some Nicholas Blake and after reading her review, I decided to see what my library has of his books. I found an anthology with three books: Thou Shell of Death, The Beast Must Die, and The Corpse in the Snowman.

The first one, Thou Shell of Death, features regular Blake sleuth and private investigator Nigel Strangeways. A famous aviator has been receiving death threats and wants a detective on hand to try to catch the killer during a Christmas dinner party. But come the 26th, Nigel finds the aviator dead in a shed, with only a single set of footprints leading to the building. Suicide? Or murder?

Blake throws in plenty of clues and red herrings, giving the reader a fair chance to figure it out, but I have to admit I got it wrong until last quarter of the book, and even then, there were several twists I didn't anticipate. Overall, a very fun read that has me looking forward to other two books in this collection.

Feb 24, 2009, 8:05pm Top

Review for The Corpse in the Snowman

What could be more harmless and childish than a snowman? But the menace present from the beginning of the book makes it clear that this is not your ordinary snowman. There is indeed a body inside. Whose body is not revealed until the end of the book, but there's plenty of trouble before then.

Nigel Strangeways is called in by an acquaintance of his wife's. She is disturbed by the behavior of a cat. Strangeways goes along to humor the old lady, but he soon agrees with her that something is seriously wrong at Easterham Manor. And the very next day after he arrives, the body of a young woman is found hanging in her bedroom.

This has all the makings of a Golden Age Stately Home murder - the kind like Poirot or Inspector Alleyn would investigate. But the feeling soon changes to one of the more modern mysteries, with the introduction of sex, drugs, and well, not rock and roll, but definitely Not Quite. It's sort of a bridge between one type of mystery and another. Modern readers might find the beginning and the style a little old fashioned, but I did enjoy it. It is set, in fact, right on the beginning of World War II, so it's not really modern. In fact, I was prepared for revelations of a different sort and thought I knew exactly where the story was going, but I found myself surprised at the end. A great read and a good story.

Feb 24, 2009, 11:36pm Top

Review for Hattie Big Sky

I don't remember who recommended this one to me, but thank you! I loved this story of Hattie Brooks, an orphan who has never had a real home of her own. She finds out that her uncle, whom she has never met, has left her his homestead in Montana in his will. If she can meet the requirements, the land is hers.

The trouble is that she has only 10 months to do it, and most of it by herself. The requirements are pretty tough, but Hattie figures with a good year, she just might have a place to call home.

I loved Hattie. She was a great character and I really enjoyed her take on life. Although she faced a lot of tough situations, she wasn't one to sit and feel sorry for herself. This was such a fun book to read and I'm so glad I heard of it.

Feb 27, 2009, 4:06pm Top

OK, so it's the end of February and I've already read 38 books for the challenge. I think I'm going to have to do 'CMBohn's 999 challenge, part 2' because it's just so much more fun to be able to write and talk about what I'm reading. I'm already choosing categories for part 2.

I guess sometimes being a fast reader has its complications!

Feb 27, 2009, 5:20pm Top

I was thinking about this issue last night. By April, I should be more than 1/2 way thru God willin' and the creak don't rise. I've got lots more books to read in the 9 categories I already have, plus my two bonus categories, so I think I will continue to add to those since I'm having such a good time with these. I'm not a score keeper, just a list keeper, so I really don't care how many I read, I just want to keep reading in these categories.

I'm really glad I joined this challenge if for no other reason than to get outside my rut of reading historical fiction and mysteries. I'm still going to read some of those, but thanks to this group, I've been discovering new authors and series. Such a fun group!

Feb 28, 2009, 5:59pm Top

I'm so glad you're having fun! I think that's the best reason for a 'challenge' - to try something new!

Feb 28, 2009, 6:08pm Top

Review for The Faith of a Scientist

This was a very small book I had heard about and wanted to read for myself. Dr. Henry Eyring was a chemist and father of LDS Apostle Henry B. Eyring. The first chapter seems to be taken from a talk, but the rest are essays on various aspects of religion and science.

My favorite chapter was the one called 'The Six Worlds.' I really enjoyed the message. Eyring says we all live in 6 worlds - the subatomic world, the atomic world, the cellular world, the 'real world', the astronomical world, and the physical world. So we go from incredibly small to incredibly large, and every day, we are a part of each of these worlds. I liked the way that sort of put things into place for me.

This was a very quick read, but I recommend it for LDS readers or for those interested in the LDS view of science.

Mar 1, 2009, 7:35pm Top

Review for We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Mary Katherine Blackwood lives in an old home with her older sister Constance and Uncle Julian. They live a very isolated life. As they struggle to deal with the consequences of a recent tragedy, a stranger comes to visit - their cousin Charles. His arrival sets in motion a chain of events that will be even more shocking and dramatic.

It's hard to review this one, because I don't want to give away any of the big plot twists and ruin it for anyone. This was a quick read and I couldn't go to bed until I had finished it. Jackson is great at creating a slightly creepy, menacing feel to a seemingly normal atmosphere and then wrenching it into something even darker. It was hard to categorize this book too - psychological Gothic might be the best description. Highly recommended.

Mar 1, 2009, 7:36pm Top

Review for Our Heritage

This is a really basic history of the LDS Church to the (almost) present day. Not a lot of detail except in the first chapters about Joseph Smith. But a great beginning place for new members or for those curious about the Church.

Edited: Mar 1, 2009, 10:20pm Top

Review for Food Network Favorites

I used to love watching the Food Network, back when we had cable. Alton Brown and Rachael Ray were some of my favorites. And for drama, you can't beat Iron Chef or the Food Network Challenges. So I thought I would have fun with this cookbook.

Well, it was kind of fun, but honestly, there's only about 6-8 recipes in this book that I would make. The best ones are from the noted TV chef, Food Network Kitchens. That's right - the support staff. I think I will try making English muffins from Alton Brown's recipe. But most of the rest are so complicated or require weird ingredients that may be yummy, but are not available where I live. Lots of liquor and lots of coffee, neither of which I use. Lots of seafood too, which I don't enjoy but might be willing to try if there was a good source of fresh seafood nearby. There's not.

I'm not quite sure who this cookbook is for, but it is not for me.

Mar 1, 2009, 10:25pm Top

Notes on Codes of Love - Bryan

I'm still reading this one after starting it around Jan. 1. This is a sort of workbook, designed to help you figure out and resolve your emotional issues from childhood. Naturally, this takes time. I'm going through the exercises a little at a time. It's been helpful, I think, but it's not one to rush through. I'm still going to keep at it.

Mar 2, 2009, 1:50am Top

Review of A Doll's House - Ibsen - it's a long one!

When I was a student at BYU in my last semester I took an American Lit class. Looking back, I should have taken almost any other class available. I was a newlywed when the semester started, and by the end I was expecting my first baby. So what did we study that would go along with my life's lessons I was learning at the time?

Kate Chopin's The Awakening. Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper. Edith Wharton. Sarah Orne Jewett. Just about any depressing story written by American women, we read it. That class was not a lot of laughs.

The play, A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen, would have fit right in with those writers if only he had been American. It's got all the right elements. Restricted setting - check. Slice of middle class family life - check. Deceptively innocuous beginning - check. Desperate woman struggling with her own identity against a tightly ordered society and family life - double check.

The difference is that for me, 18 years after the first class, is that now instead of making me depressed, it made me angry to read this. Angry with Nora, and the way it took her so long to protest the way she was treated. Angry with Helmet, for treating his wife as an inferior creature he had to humor. Angry with Christine, for putting up with years of unhappiness just so she could devote her entire self to taking care of someone. And then going after what she really wanted only because she was helping her friend, and further, because she set up the expectation that she would again be 'taking care' of someone.

Most of all, angry with society, that this was accepted as normal. I read that when this play was first performed, the audience was shocked. But not because of any of the reasons I mentioned. No, because women were generally supposed to be perfectly content to be treated in such a way.

Looking back at that class, I am not a bit surprised that I found it so troubling. There I was, just barely started on this marriage thing and shortly about to take on motherhood. And what did I get to read about? Any healthy models of what family life could be like? No. Literally, everything we read that dealt with marriage or motherhood was telling me how restrictive it was, how demanding, how degrading to my personhood, how I would have to sacrifice my very self to be successful in my new roles. No wonder I had a hard time!

So a little perspective is valuable now that I read this play. I know from my own experience that marriage does not have to be like that, and that motherhood is a source of great joy and fulfillment, as well as a challenge. Yes, I know that society was different 100 years ago, but I have to believe that even then, not every marriage was one of dominant/submissive. There must, even then, have been relationships that were based on a more equal footing. There must have been women who ENJOYED being a wife and a mother, and didn't just do it because they needed security.

And maybe I'm just a little spoiled, because I am living in the 21st century, when women are busy in so many different things. Maybe. But to say that I can't judge people from that era means that I'm supposed to accept that they are not as capable as I am of fixing things that don't work, and that they are not as bright at seeing what makes them unhappy. I don't believe that. Yes, it must have been more difficult for women of that time to express their true selves, but that doesn't mean that I shouldn't get angry when I read about a woman who is a doormat, and ask myself why she put up with that.

What did I think of this play? I can't say I loved it. But it sure brought out a strong reaction in me. On that basis alone, I have to give it 5 stars. I think that every couple ought to read this play, or even better, see it together. And so should every therapist or clergyman. Single people too should read this and learn from it to set up some solid boundaries before they form a partnership.

I think that so far this year, this is the book that got me the most emotionally involved with what I was reading. So I have to give it 5 stars. However, read or see this with the knowledge I didn't have as a newlywed. Not every relationship demands this self sacrifice from the woman. This is how it is NOT supposed to be. Once you know that, you can ask yourself if you need to adjust anything in your relationships so this doesn't happen.

Mar 4, 2009, 11:09pm Top

Review for Lavoisier in the Year One

Too much technical data about this study versus a study done by some other guy, which led to this discovery, which led to this study ....
Not enough biography or an assessment of where Laviosier fits in to the whole study of chemistry overall. There was some interesting stuff in there, and it made a good book to follow 'The Lost King of France.' But not quite what I was hoping for.

Mar 8, 2009, 12:40am Top

Review of Cookwise

Now that I've looked through this one, I vaguely remember reading it a few years ago, but I liked it better then, for some reason. This time around, I went from being totally impressed to completely overwhelmed in just a few pages. The book starts with bread. Well, I bake bread. So I know about that. But this went so far over my head, it was into the stratosphere. I was overwhelmed with a discussion of which kind of flour I needed, based on flour content. Then we got into the importance of adding a little crushed ice to the batter for some reason and a little malt barely syrup and something else, and on and on and on.

The one recipe I did try, shallot mashed potatoes with garlic, was a complete disaster. Too soupy and too hard. I followed the recipe instead of using my own instincts, so I should have cooked the potatoes until done, checking them myself, instead of going by the time in the recipe.

I did copy a couple of dessert recipes (what else?), one for this decadent chocolate thingy and one for pralines. We'll see how those turn out.

In my opinion, this cookbook is best used as a reference. If you have a recipe that isn't working for some reason, this is a good place to look for why. Maybe more experienced cooks or ones willing to follow all the complicated directions and look for all the special ingredients would turn out some fabulous food, but I do not have the time or patience for that. I did enjoy all the name dropping and hints from famous chefs. But I don't think I'll bother with this one again.

Mar 8, 2009, 12:48am Top

Review of In the Frame

Charles Todd is a painter, mostly of horses. He goes to visit his cousin only to find that their house has just been burgled and his cousin's wife murdered. Charles stays with his cousin, trying to help him deal with insurance, police, the clean up. But as time passes, it becomes clear that the investigation is stalled and his cousin is falling into a deep depression. Charles decided to take matters into his own hands and follows the clues to Australia.

Like all Dick Francis books, the pace moves pretty quickly, with lots of physical dangers and several horse races. This one features the Melbourne Cup.

I didn't enjoy the audio version as much as I usually do for some reason. I just couldn't seem to concentrate long enough. I'm not sure if it was me or if it was the narrator or what.

Mar 8, 2009, 1:50am Top

And just announcing that I am going to start a thread for my "999 part 2" that I want to go ahead and plan. Halfway done with this one!

Mar 10, 2009, 4:35pm Top

I'm reading Canterbury Tales for ER, so I thought I would count it as short stories, which it kind of is! I know it's poetry, but it's also a collection of stories. This is the new translation into modern English and it's going pretty quickly. I still sort of miss the Middle English words though. This doesn't have the same rhythm.

Mar 12, 2009, 2:49pm Top

I finished with a few I had picked out for earlier categories, Bonds that Make Us Free and Codes of Love - Bryan. I realized that I was covering stuff I already new, and decided that I didn't really need to read them to learn anything new.

Mar 13, 2009, 11:01pm Top

Review for The New Moosewood Cookbook

I absolutely loved this book. I am not a vegetarian, but I love fresh tasting, ethnic foods made with great ingredients. I also love trying something new. This cookbook was just packed with recipes I wanted to try. I started copying the recipes I wanted to make, but gave up after I got to about 6, and realized that I just need to buy the book! The one recipe I did try, Spicy Peanut Soup, was so yummy. I made it for my poor sick hubby and he loved it too. I did copy the recipe for that and posted it on my blog. http://chocolateandotherfoodgroups.blogspot.com/2009/03/spicy-peanut-soup.html

My only complaint, and it's not really a complaint, is that there are lots of unusual ingredients in here that require a little shopping around. But I think it would be worth it! I just wish I was planning a trip to Ithaca to try the food in person.

Mar 13, 2009, 11:26pm Top

Review for Pillage

Beck just can't seem to stay out of trouble. Even after his mother dies and he's sent to live with an uncle he's never met, he finds a way to test the rules. He makes new friends and new enemies at his school on his very first day. On his second day, he gets sent to the principal's office - a new record for him, he remarks. And his uncle can't be bothered to come out of his room to meet him.

Maybe Beck's strange upbringing is the trouble - or maybe it's the weird vibe he's getting from his new home. Suddenly he finds he has new powers. And he can't stop himself from exploring the very places he's forbidden to go.

Beck was a real smart aleck, and I kind of wanted to smack him. Then again, I can see myself behaving in just about the same way. I could sort of guess where the book was headed (Clue: look at the front cover.), but once I did get to the conclusion, I was completely wrapped up in the story. I couldn't wait to see what happened next. I had to force myself to read slowly, so I wouldn't miss anything.

This book was a lot of fun. I'm glad I finally got to read it.

Mar 15, 2009, 1:46am Top

>114 cmbohn:, my son and I had a blast watching Iron Chef while he was in high school even though neither one of us likes to cook! I guess it was the timed competition and that he could imitate the commentators voices perfectly--he had me rolling on the floor--but there was seldom much that we wanted to actually eat, much less cook!

>117 cmbohn:, I gave Cookwise to my best friend 'cas she's that type of cook--always interested in finding out why something doesn't work, or what might make a good substitute since she tends to make up more recipes than actually follow them. I always wanted to borrow the book back from her, but your comments make me think that I would get overwhelmed as well.

>123 cmbohn:, I'll have to try the new Moosewood. It's funny how some cookbooks always work for me (the Silver Palate comes to mind, but recipes are way to rich for me now) and with others the recipes never come out right for me. I'll have to check back to see if you keep liking this one, as I definitely want to eat more healthy.

Mar 15, 2009, 1:36pm Top

I had a great time once watching Iron Chef in Japanese. It did have voiceover, but it was still stinking funny and so over the top. The secret ingredient was some fish I'd never heard of. The big reveal was accompanied by dramatic sound effects and everything. It was great.

Edited: Mar 16, 2009, 1:36pm Top

Review of The Founding Mothers

General Cornwallis of the British Army once lamented that even if he destroyed all the men in America, he'd still have the women to contend with. This book by Cokie Roberts profiles some of those amazing women of the Revolutionary era. Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Deborah Franklin, Mercy Otis Warren, Katy Green, and Eliza Pinckney are just a few of the women in this book.

Pros: The women! I enjoyed learning about their lives and struggles.

Lots of stuff I never heard before. History class tends to focus on the generals, the presidents, etc. But their wives and mothers were no less interesting, and in some cases, were even more influential.

Cons: The format. Roberts uses a chronological format, which helps tie each woman into her place in history, and gives you a feel for how they are related to one another, but it got confusing and yes, boring at times. I mean, I know who won the war. It's the women I wanted to read about.

Not enough pictures. In fact, the only pictures are one on the first page of each chapter. That's it. I wanted more.

The writing itself. In some places, she let her own opinions come out, but not often enough. It was a little impersonal.

Recommended for history buffs, especially female ones.

Mar 19, 2009, 2:10pm Top

Just finished Mendel in the Kitchen: A Scientist's View of Genetically Modified Foods. I found it a really enlightening read. A full review will be coming when I have thought it through.

Mar 19, 2009, 11:21pm Top

Review for I'm Just Here for the Food

I am a big fan of Alton Brown's show on The Food Network, Good Eats. So I looked forward to reading his cookbook. But I have to admit this is not what I expected. The book is organized by cooking method, which seems a little strange to begin with. Then there are no pictures of any of the recipes. There are fun little sidenotes, and interesting tips, but the recipes are constructed in a rather strange way.

Then again, Brown has so many little quirks and extreme preferences that I don't intend to follow. So some of the recipes are not really of interest to me. And then, worst of all, no desserts! OK, maybe that's not really the worst, but I love dessert!

Still, I did find a few recipes and note a few tips I plan to try. I keep reading about how great a brine makes your meat taste, so I plan to try that one. Here's the most basic one, and yet, the easiest to try!

A Perfect Baked Potato

Preheat oven to 350. Wash and dry potato. Poke holes in it with a fork. Then rub lightly the entire potato with a little canola oil. This makes a crunchy skin on the potato. Sprinkle the outside with salt. Place the potato directly on the rack in the oven. Cook for about 1 hour.

I haven't tried it yet, but since I love baked potatoes, I will try it soon!

Mar 20, 2009, 1:36am Top

Yes, the smell and taste of a microwaved potato just doesn't come close to a potato baked in the oven. :-) Give me garlic mashed potatoes, though, with lots of butter!

Mar 20, 2009, 4:28am Top

I love my potatoes! Microwaved is way inferior to baked in the oven IMO, but needs must when time is short!

Mar 20, 2009, 1:41pm Top

Review for Mendel in the Kitchen

Many people view genetically modified food with suspicion. 'I would never eat that stuff,' you might say. But if you live in the United States and have eaten apples, wheat, corn, potatoes, soy products, sweet potatoes, or papaya, you might just have eaten genetically modified food (GM food) without knowing it.

My mom and I had a discussion about GM food after I forwarded her this mailing I got from an organic food site. Did I realize, she asked, that strictly speaking, any hybrid food is genetically modified? That would include almost every apple grown in this country. Enjoy a Golden Delicious or a Macintosh? Try planting the seeds. What results will be nothing like the apple it came from. That's because most apple trees are created by grafting several varieties together. This has been going on for 200 years, and in that time, people have eaten a lot of apples.

But most people, when they think of GM food, think of the so-called Frankenfoods - the tomato with a fish gene in it, designed to help it withstand the cold. And yet, few of us outside the genetic research community really know or understand the process by which such a tomato is created. This book by Nina Fedoroff takes the reader step by step through the process of creating such a seed. She also answers the challenges of the opponents of such food with hard science, explaining why many of their complaints simply do not make sense.

Fedoroff, a leading geneticist and molecular biologist, makes a strong argument for the future of agriculture. I, like many consumers, thought that local, organic produce is the ideal kind of food. I still think that buying local whenever possible is a great way to help the environment and get the freshest, best tasting produce at the same time. But as Fedoroff points out, if every farmer switched to strictly organic farming methods, we would need another 2 or 3 planets just to feed the current population, to say nothing of projected population growth. And that would be cultivating every single arable acre of land, including those currently reserved for wildlife, the entire rainforest, and many other wildlife habitats. Organic farming simply can't come close to providing enough food for our planet.

So is GM food the answer? I have to admit that I'm coming around to her way of thinking. Scientist have developed some of these crops especially to solve nutritional problems. The book opens with Swiss scientist Ingo Potrykus coming up with a rice that contains a gene from a flower which contains the code for making beta carotene. The rice, Golden Rice, would be a simple way for even the poorest people to avoid the results of Vitamin A Deficiency, including blindness.

Potrykus wasn't hoping for fame, exactly, or fortune. He just wanted to help. Instead, he was vilified. Protesters went crazy. The term 'Frankenfood' was first used to describe this rice. Potrykus was at a loss. This was still rice. And today, 35 years after he started his research, not a single field anywhere in the world is growing Golden Rice. And Vitamin A Deficiency continues to cause blindness in third world countries.

I am not a scientist, so I would have a hard time putting Fedoroff's words into my own. And even other scientists still don't all agree with genetic modification. But she tackles their arguments, one a time, quoting other geneticists and plant breeders. I could go on and on, but there's not enough room.

Will I buy GM food in the future? Yes. I do admit I still feel a little uneasy about irradiated produce, such as strawberries, but in reality, such strawberries are safer than the produce in the recent E. Coli scare.

My only complaint about the book is that the illustrations and diagrams provided were a little too technical for me to understand. And I could have really used a glossary. Still, I didn't have too much trouble following along, even if I occasionally had to reread a paragraph once in a while.

In short, I have to thank my mom. If we hadn't had that discussion, I would not have noticed this book at the library. Now that I am a more informed consumer, I feel like I can make some better choices for my family. Highly recommended book for any American consumer.

Mar 20, 2009, 5:55pm Top

Review of The Canterbury Tales

I'm finally done! Yay! Woo hoo! and all that.

This is for the new version translated by Burton Raffel that was offered here as an Early Review.

At first, the new format was not my favorite. I really like the rhythm and feel of the original. But I never actually finished the Middle English version, and I did finish this one, so maybe that's because of the translation.

I have to say that I really didn't like it though. Nothing wrong with the translation itself. It was the subject matter.

First of all, it struck me as funny that they were on a religious pilgrimage, and yet they were so, well, irreverent! The rather bawdy humor in some of the stories didn't exactly fit the picture of religious pilgrims.

Another thing that seemed kind of strange was the way they kept referring to the Roman gods and goddesses. It was kind of an odd mixture.

But my biggest objection was the way women were portrayed. Some of the stories were just plain goofy, really. I hated the stories of Cecilia and Griselda. And even though I really like the wife of Bath, I thought her story was just plain goofy. A knight rapes a girl and the king wants him executed. But the queen and her ladies beg for mercy for him because he's good looking. So he gets a reprieve in time to travel the country, finding out what women want. Well, not to be raped would be pretty high on my list. But then he does it, and escapes, and blah, blah, blah.

Over and over again, I was bothered by how far out from modern society the attitudes were in this book. I just wasn't able to make the leap required to enjoy this book at all. I'm just glad it's done!

Mar 20, 2009, 9:49pm Top

Review for Alfred Kropp: The Thirteenth Skull

After saving the world from complete destruction twice, you'd think Alfred could get a chance to sit back and relax for a bit. Nope. This book takes up just minutes after The Seal of Solomon ends, and it's back into the fray for Alfred.

If you haven't heard of this series (and it seems to be a well kept secret), you are missing out. Alfred is an unlikely hero. He's a pretty normal guy. But he finds him self over and over again in extraordinary situations.

I don't want to say too much here, in case you haven't read the first two, but I will say that several characters are back. The most frightening this time around, though, is Special Operative Nueve, a complete psychopath who is either Alfred's only hope or his worst nightmare.

I love this series! Alfred is such a great character. I think what makes him so appealing is that he has absolute certainty that he really is no one special. But he's the only one who can do what he does. He makes the right choice, again and again, even if that is a tough choice for himself. He never fails. That's what I love about him.

Highly recommended. This is a violent series, with lots of religious references, but it would be great for most teens. Plenty of action, no real language, and a great hero.

Mar 20, 2009, 10:55pm Top

Thanks for the thoughtful review of Mendel in the Kitchen. Seem to be lots of books these days about the intersection of food and technology, I suppose in part because so much is happening, and in part because increasing numbers of us are far removed from the process and just pick up the end product at the grocery store. Fascinating stuff, IMO, and I've added this book to my wishlist.

Mar 21, 2009, 12:28am Top

I hope you enjoy it. I'm glad I took the time to learn a little more about the issue.

Edited: Mar 22, 2009, 12:29am Top

Review of Living Faith

I have a lot of respect for President Jimmy Carter, more for his continuing efforts towards world peace and his work with Habitat for Humanity than for anything else. I knew that he was a Christian, but I didn't really know much about his beliefs or his life. So I was pleased to find this audiobook in the library book sale.

While we don't share all the same beliefs, I really found so much to admire about Carter in this book. He hasn't always had an easy path in life. He talks about his decision to leave the Navy and his struggles in his early marriage. He also talks about his public life. It was fun to get an insider's look at what was going on.

My favorite line from the book is something another Christian said to him once. "In this life, you only have to love two people. One is God, and the other is the person in front of you."

I really enjoyed this. It was only one tape, so it was a very brief story, but I would recommend it.

Mar 22, 2009, 3:33am Top

Carter was disappointing as President, but he sure has made up for it with all his good works!

Mar 22, 2009, 1:52pm Top

The book on GM food sounds like a good topic for the ANYTHING CuLINARY group.

I for one never thought much about GM food.

Mar 23, 2009, 1:39am Top

AB's Perfect Baked Potato is how I make mine all the time since I've tried it. It tastes just like a restaurant baked potato, crispy skin and all. I'd always tin-foiled mine before trying his recipe. If you haven't tried it yet, do.

Mar 24, 2009, 10:53am Top

NIce list of books. Thanks for reviewing my prgress. It's been a fun challenge so far. Beth F

Mar 26, 2009, 11:15pm Top

Review for A Devilish Dilemma

I enjoyed this book. It starts with Minerva, our heroine, being humiliated when she overhears her fiance talking about what a stupid, biddable wife she will be. She rushes off in tears and runs right into the Earl of Rossland. Lots of intrigue and plotting in this one, with likable characters. I actually enjoyed it quite a bit, until the end. The horrible French accents grated on my nerves. Other than that, it was pretty good. If you enjoy historical/regency romances, you might like this one.

Mar 27, 2009, 12:55pm Top

Though this is a few days late, I just want to say that it's been really fun to not only read other's reviews/recommendations but also start to get to know people's unique personalities via their interests in books. Since I'm on a diet--well, not exactly a diet, but I'm changing how I eat--I love that I can come visit your thread, cmbohn, and get a "food fix" from time to time! :-) So, what are you reading lately in the cooking category?

Mar 27, 2009, 12:59pm Top

I haven't been reading any food books yet, but I just got Salt: A World History from the library and I have Everyday Cooking with Jacques Pepin to read too.

How's the 'diet' going?

Edited: Mar 27, 2009, 1:41pm Top

I'm trying to appreciate life without dessert, meat, ice cream, butter and cheese! And I'm doing pretty well. The food I eat actually looks quite beautiful and almost tastes better in its simplicity.

Oops! Had to come back for a fix-up! I'm always mixing up dessert and desert.

Mar 29, 2009, 12:55pm Top

Review of I Am a Mother

Very inspirational book that I really needed right about now. I'm glad to see a book that defends motherhood as a wonderful, fulfilling choice. No more saying, "I'm just a mom."

Mar 31, 2009, 4:47pm Top

Review of The Long Walk

Slavomir Rawicz was a Polish cavalry officer in World War II. He came home on leave and found himself arrested by the Russians for the crime of, well, being Polish. He was kept in prison, but refused to confess. After a few months, he was tricked into signing a confession and shipped off to Siberia for 25 years hard labor. After a horrible trek up into the northern wilderness, he finds himself in a Siberian work camp.

He decides he's not about to spend 25 years there, and makes plans to escape. He enlists six other men, a Latvian, an American, other Poles, and they sneak out in the night. Their escape plan will take them through Mongolia, across the Gobi Desert, up and down the Himalayas, and through India.

It's an incredible story. I couldn't put it down once I got started. Sometimes there were gaps in the story, but it was absolutely gripping. Really worth reading.

Mar 31, 2009, 7:35pm Top

Review of Everyday Cooking with Jacques Pepin

I love watching Jacques Pepin. His shows with the late Julia Child were especially fun. But I haven't read any of his cookbooks. This one was at the library, and it seems to be one of his earliest books.

It was a fun read - some very interesting recipes in here. Some were a little too interesting, like Lettuce Souffle. Um, icky! Not too many in here that were likely to appeal to my family. But I give him credit for the great pictures and the very clear instructions on the recipes. I haven't tried any in here, and I don't know that I will. But I would like to read another of his books and see what the more recent ones look like.

Apr 1, 2009, 2:20am Top

I was hoping to get some more of my TBR books read this year, but I couldn't find The Advance of the English Novel or Hope, an Anthology, so I am substituting 2 others I found downstairs, Dune by Frank Herbert, which is my husband's book, and Though Your Sins be as Scarlet, which I didn't even know I had!

Apr 1, 2009, 12:43pm Top

I'll be interested in seeing your review of Dune. I rarely ever read science fiction, except for an occasional alternate history book, but this is one I would like to read, someday.

Apr 1, 2009, 1:26pm Top

I really, really liked Dune.

I never think of myself as a science fiction fan, and almost never choose a sci fi on my own. But I keep getting fed sci fi by my son-in-law and another young friend, and have really enjoyed some of them. In my opinion, Dune is the best.

Apr 1, 2009, 2:02pm Top

I also really enjoyed Dune.

Apr 1, 2009, 9:33pm Top

It's my husband's copy, and he loves the series. So it will be fun to be able to talk to him about it.

Apr 2, 2009, 12:19am Top

Review for These Is My Words

I enjoy historical fiction sometimes, but I'm not much into the Western. But this one was recommended by a friend. She just loved it. I decided to give it a try, but couldn't get a paper copy. But they did have the audiobook, so I checked it out.

I am so glad I did! I was absolutely hooked from the very first CD. It starts out with an Indian ambush, the death of a child, and a brutal attack on some unsuspecting girls, and that was just the first CD!

The story is told as journal entries of Sarah Agnes Prine, traveling from Arizona to Texas. I don't want to spoil the book for anyone, but for various reasons, Sarah and her family head back to Arizona.

Sarah goes through all kinds of heartache, but the core of the story is a romance. I loved the characters, and I loved Sarah. I absolutely understood her independence, her desire for learning, her wish to be 'good' like her friend Savannah. And the romance was just so wonderful.

I've stayed up late, just because I can't stop listening to see what happens next. This was fun to do as an audiobook. The narrator was great. And it was so much more suspenseful this way. I am such a fast reader, but with an audiobook, you can't just rush ahead. You have to wait! Several times I went to see my family and told them everything that had just happened and that I just couldn't wait to see what happened next!

I don't know anything about the author, but I know that after reading this, I have to find out if she wrote anything else. Highly recommended.

Apr 3, 2009, 12:51pm Top

Well I never do westerns either, but you've convinced me to go on the hunt for this one in audio. Your review is terrific. Thanks for the enthusiasm.

Apr 3, 2009, 1:30pm Top

I loved reading excerpts of women's journals in one of my Women's Studies classes. I'm going to have to check this one out. Thanks for the review!

Edited: Apr 4, 2009, 2:03am Top

154>Pretty sure Turner won a Willa award for These Is My Words. She did write about the characters again, in Sarah's Quilt and The Star Garden (in that order). Pretty sure the 3rd book just came out.

The first book is in "the hat" we pick out of for my historical fiction book group. I've owned it for a while, but am waiting to read it with my book group. Of course, by the time it comes out of the hat I'll probably need to get it from the public library because I won't be able to find it in my own collection....

ETA: If you liked Turner's book, you may also want to look for All Together in One Place. It's the story of a wagon train headed west to California/Oregon that meets with mishap: through illness, accident, etc., all the men die or leave and the women are left to consider whether to turn back or keep going. It's based on an actual encounter mentioned in the diary of someone travelling as part of a 19th century wagon train. Our book group read it and universally enjoyed it (and that's rare for us). It's the first book in a trilogy.

Apr 4, 2009, 3:36pm Top

Thanks for the recommendation! I looked up Sarah's Quilt and it sounds like a fun read, but I think I will wait a bit before reading that.

Apr 4, 2009, 4:06pm Top

Review of Africa Explored

This book covers the exploration of Africa by European explorers, covering over 100 years. I have mixed feelings about the book, so I'll try to explain why.

First, I liked the format. It was clear, concise writing, with a few unfamiliar words, but a glossary in the back. And there were maps, which was really important, as I tried to follow the explorers as they traveled.

And the subject itself was ambitious. Hibbert tried to be fair, portraying both the native Africans and the Europeans with warts and all. He made an effort not to 'take sides' but to show people as they really were. I certainly learned a lot. This was a historical era that I knew virtually nothing about.

But oh, was this book depressing! It wasn't the fault of the writer. It was just the feeling I came away with. It seemed that in Africa, the strongest, most aggressive, most bloodthirsty group was the one that came out on top. Those who were peaceful were always exploited by someone else. This was true no matter what the ethnic group. Some of the worst excesses described were committed by Africans. One example was the slavetrader who snatched a baby from its mother and dashed its brains out, so the woman would walk faster.

I guess I had an idea that the Europeans were basically the ones exploiting the Africans, but as I read, I discovered that was not necessarily so. Even before Europeans outposts were established, some African tribes and Arabs engaged in the slave trade. One European who arrived early in the 18th century described a man as a slavetrader and a very good person. To me, in the 21st century, I just don't see how anyone could describe a person engaged in such a trade as a 'good person.'

But the Europeans were certainly not blameless. Richard Burton, in particular, struck me as a really nasty sort of person. He loved describing in lurid detail the sexual customs of the tribes, and tried to experience it as much first hand. And he delighted in the most cruel, barbaric practices. He wrote a friend with similar tastes complaining that no one had been tortured yet in his honor, but he had hopes that the next village would be better in that respect.

All in all, I would only recommend this to people interested in the history of Africa or European exploration. As entertainment, it was pretty grim.

Apr 4, 2009, 8:14pm Top

159: Hmm, well, I am interested, despite or because of your excellent review. Though I'd probably want to have a more uplifting book in progress simultaneously. Thanks for mentioning the maps -- it drives me nuts when books of this sort don't include them.

Apr 4, 2009, 10:09pm Top

There were also some good photos, but not enough, IMHO.

Apr 5, 2009, 9:33pm Top

Review for Though Your Sins Be as Scarlet

Brent Top takes on the topic of repentance in this short book. The problem with some attitudes towards repentance, he says, is that too many of us try to do it by some checklist. Recognize sin, check. Feel remorse, check. Confess sin, check. But real repentance is not just an outward change, it must come from within.

I really enjoyed this book and found a lot to think about. It is written for LDS, but I think any Christian would find some helpful insights.

Apr 10, 2009, 3:15pm Top

Review for The Wee Free Men

Tiffany Aching is tired of taking care of her little brother Wentworth. But when he's kidnapped by fairies, Tiffany decides to get him back. Maybe her recent decision to become a witch will help her on this. And then there's the Nac Mac Feegles - pictsies. They just might help. If they can stay sober long enough. And if she explains things in very, very simple terms.

Not a very good summary, but I can tell you that this is one seriously funny book that was a great read. I love Terry Pratchett. If you like fantasy or like to laugh, you should give his books a try.

Edited: Apr 10, 2009, 3:24pm Top

>163 cmbohn:

Thanks for your comment. I keep meaning to try Terry Pratchett, but somehow other books keep getting in the way. My trip to the bookstore yesterday, to buy a book as a gift of course, increased my own tbr stack by 5 books. Maybe I'll get to Pratchett eventually!

Apr 10, 2009, 5:17pm Top

Review for How to Be a Domestic Goddess

First of all, I have to say this - this woman is nuts! She may be a great cook and a very nice person, I don't know, but honestly, she is nuts.

This book, in case you couldn't tell right away, is about baking. She sets it up in several categories: cakes, cookies, bread, pies, Christmas, etc. The pictures are wonderful. But the writing? Wow. It's hard to tell you just how bad it is. So here's an example.

"Coconut Macaroons. These are a very English kind of macaroon, the sort you always used to see displayed in bakers' shops alongside the madeleines (those sponge castles dipped in luminous strawberry jam and dredged in throat-catching grated coconut, and so very different from those that inflamed the memory of Marcel Proust). The difference with coconut macaroons is that you need neither to be ironic or self-consciously retro-cool to enjoy them."


I have SO many problems with this paragraph. First of all, I am reading a cookbook. I do not need references to Marcel Proust. Second, don't just assume I am English. I'm not. I have no idea what you are talking about. Third, I have never in my life worried about being ironic when I ate a cookie. (My daughter wondered if perhaps she referred to the IRON CONTENT of the cookie. But no.) And finally, I don't have any idea what 'self-consciously retro-cool' means.

So the writing is bad. Horrible. But if the recipes were good, you could just skip the writing and get straight to the recipes. Well, the recipes aren't bad exactly, but every recipe assumes that you already know what she's talking about. She doesn't explain things for a beginner.

Then there are some rather weird recipes. I don't plan on ever making persimmon or passionfruit curd. And I definitely will not touch a gin and tonic gelatin mold. Several of the recipes, most, in fact, call for ingredients that I would have a hard time tracking down. Like rosewater and some specialty jams. She also uses special equipment, but doesn't give you a picture of it or really describe well how to use it. I know most English cooks know what a pudding basin is. I don't.

And then I am never, ever going to make lavender milk. (You know, get a bowl of milk, put 5-6 lavender sprigs in it, boil, then strain. Yeah.) She skipped an important step there - make sure the lavender in question is pesticide free and has been washed thoroughly. But really, where am I going to find lavender sprigs?

This was without question the most self-important, preciously droll cookbook I have ever read. Wait, is that too close to self-consciously retro-cool? Maybe I should have said vain and complacent. Either way, I would not recommend reading it at all. I've never seen the author's show or read any of her other cookbooks, but after reading this, I heard from a relative that she is just the same on her show. Maybe that appeals to someone. Maybe it's meant to be funny and I just don't get it. But it was just awful.

Apr 10, 2009, 5:42pm Top

Passionfruit curd?! I love it! I've got to go look at this cookbook just to get this recipe! And I'll send you some lavender sprigs just in case you change your mind about that lavender milk! ;-)

Apr 10, 2009, 5:55pm Top

Yum Yum!

Apr 10, 2009, 6:11pm Top

I have Domestic Goddess too but I've never made anything out of it. I just look at the pretty pictures and read her commentary out loud in my hideous faux British accent.

Apr 11, 2009, 12:23am Top

That might be where I went wrong, Victoria!

Apr 11, 2009, 12:24am Top

Review of Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman: Adventures of a Curious Character

This book was a collection of anecdotes by Richard Feynman. By turns extremely funny and accessible, then technical and confusing, it was still a fun read. It was just a little uneven. I loved the stories about when he was young and learned how to fix radios. Then there was the long story involving a topless bar near his house. It wasn't explicit or anything, but since I was listening to this as an audiobook with my kids in the car, it made things a little tricky. I wasn't completely crazy about the reader either, but I still enjoyed it.

Edited: Apr 12, 2009, 9:51pm Top

Review of My Foe Outstretch'd Beneath the Tree

Dr. Davie visits a women's school and while there, he stumbles on a sort of mystery. The school produces a language learning course that is tape recorded and mailed out. But some of the tapes have a different message. While he's puzzling over what this might mean, he visits his London club. The next day, a fellow club member is murdered.

This is a second in a brief series written in the 60-70s, and has a similar feel to some of its contemporaries. Not quite as outlandish as Edmund Crispin and not as highbrow as Michael Innes, these books are still a great find for mystery fans who enjoy the Golden Age of mystery.

I don't want to give too much away, but let me say that Dr. Davie's interest in opera and his academic background help him get to the bottom of this case just in time to prevent becoming a victim himself. I only gave it 3 stars because it was a bit of a stretch, and the plot seemed a little disconnected in places, but I would really round it up to 3.5 stars if I could.

Apr 15, 2009, 12:30am Top

Review of John Adams

John Adams is remembered today as the second president. Sometimes he is also remembered because until the Bushes, Adams and his son, John Quincy Adams were the only father-son combination to each serve as president. Sometimes he is remembered as a delegate to the convention in 1776. But this monumental book by David McCullough told me so much more about Adams than I ever knew.

This book really is monumental - over 700 pages. But for the most part, it didn't really feel too long. There were some great pictures in there, which helped a bit, but I think the main thing that made it a fun read is that there were so many stories; that's what I love to read.

I had read a little about Adams before, and about his wife, Abigail. But I loved the story of their courtship and their abiding love for each other. I was also interested to read of the complex relationship between Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Despite their serious differences, both men had an abiding respect for one another.

I couldn't help thinking that there are few such patriots around today. Patriotism is in fact a sort of code word that some political groups use to throw around, but most of us feel a little uncomfortable with such a concept. And yet how long would the United States have lasted if it weren't for unabashed patriots in the infancy of the country? Adams contributed much towards making the continuation of our country a possibility. He had enemies on almost every side, including his own cabinet, but he was able to leave a lasting legacy.

I gave this book 5 stars. It kept my attention, despite the size, and I felt that I knew so much more about John Adams than I did before I started. A really great book.

Apr 15, 2009, 11:50am Top

Hmm. My husband really likes the writing of David McCullough, and in fact read John Adams and raved about it. And now your very helpful review ... my hand is forced. I'll have to add this to my biography category. But 700 pages! Oh my.

Apr 15, 2009, 4:09pm Top

Yeah, it's a chunkster! But worth it.

Edited: Apr 16, 2009, 11:51am Top

cmbohn, thanks for the review of John Adams. I am 6% through it (per my Kindle) and I am enjoying the stories, as you say. It's just so frustrating to read and read and read and see the percent symbol jump up by only 1.

Once again, I know more about his presidential years but I am enjoying reading, thus far, about his early years.

I liked the Joseph Ellis book about George Washington last month but I like this one even more. You can't go wrong with David McCullough.

(edited to change the meaning of the last sentence--oops)

Apr 15, 2009, 11:33pm Top

I'll be interested to see what you think, linda.

And I took Team of Rivals off my biography list. I couldn't get into it, but maybe I will give it another try later. So of course, I immediately started two more books - The Sea for Breakfast, a memoir set in Scotland, and Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman. I loved the first story, a Sherlock Holmes meets HP Lovecraft story. Very fun.

Apr 16, 2009, 6:24pm Top

Review of Fragile Things

I was sort of bipolar on this one. The ones I loved, I really loved, and the ones I didn't, I really hated.

I loved 'A Study in Emerald', the one I mentioned above, combining Sherlock Holmes and this sci-fi setting. I think the more often I reread that one, the more I will like it! Very well done.

I also loved 'How to Talk to Girls at Parties', 'The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch', 'Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire' - love the title! so funny, and the last one, 'The Monarch of the Glen', which brings back the characters from American Gods briefly.

But I hated the one about Susan from the Chronicles of Narnia. And I really, really hated 'Keepsakes and Treasures' - some disturbing sexual content in there that I didn't appreciate at all. I was going to give this to my daughter to read when I was done, but I know she would be very disturbed by that story, and told her so.

In all, I guess I discovered that I like Gaiman when he tones it down - with his children's books, or his collaboration with others. He can be a little too graphic for me to enjoy on his own.

Apr 16, 2009, 8:59pm Top

A story about Susan Pevensey? I may have to find this one, even if you hated it. The Chronicles of Narnia inhabited my childhood so thoroughly that I will have to read this. So much for avoiding Gaiman! Jill was my favorite, though.

Apr 17, 2009, 1:07pm Top

Just so you know, it started out good, but ended on a rather explicit scene, very different from C. S. Lewis.

Apr 17, 2009, 4:27pm Top

With a faun or a Dufflepud? I wonder if I can manage a quick trip to the library tomorrow.

Apr 17, 2009, 6:10pm Top

Aslan and the White Witch.

Apr 17, 2009, 6:34pm Top

Oh, my.

Apr 18, 2009, 5:37pm Top

Review for Man's Search for Meaning

Viktor Frankl was a psychiatrist and neurologist who was also a survivor of a concentration camp. This book describes his experiences and the philosophy/analysis he developed, partly based on his experiences, called logotherapy. It's like two short books in one.

I loved the first half. He doesn't write much about his arrest or his family, but he does describe the emotional and mental state of those who had been arrested. He came to see that those who survived - at least survived the starvation and disease - were the ones who had something to live for, who found a meaning in their lives. Those who gave up hope didn't last long.

The second part of the book was harder to understand, but what I got out of it is that logotherapy is designed to help people find meaning in their own lives. Once they have discovered their own meaning, their problems become much easier to bear. It also emphasizes that people must take responsibility for their own actions and their own lives.

This is a tremendous book. I wanted to share a couple of quotes:

"We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms--to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

"Man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord's Prayer or the Shema Yisrael on his lips."

Apr 18, 2009, 6:31pm Top

That first quote is what I remember most from Frankl's book and is probably one of the most important lessons to learn in life, don't you think?

Apr 18, 2009, 7:13pm Top

Absolutely. I would love my teenager to learn that one. But I think it's also a lesson that can take an entire lifetime to learn.

Apr 18, 2009, 7:18pm Top

For sure, I'm constantly reminding myself of this truth in my own life and it's always in the forefront in reacting to the actions of characters in books as well.

Apr 19, 2009, 7:10pm Top

Review for The Hiding Place

Most people know a little about this story. Corrie Ten Boom and her family lived in Haarlem, and were all devout Christians and Dutch patriots. When World War II came, they found themselves moved to act after witnessing such brutality and suffering around them. She, her sister, her father, and others were all arrested for helping Jews. She and her sister were sent to Ravensbruck, where her sister died.

Reading this book, I had to ask myself, what is it that makes some people so much stronger than others? And I think that love is the answer. I just finished reading Man's Search for Meaning, and taken with that one, I found myself so impressed by the strength and faith of these people. I was just so inspired.

I love to read Corrie Ten Boom. She makes me feel like I can do more, I can be better. Another thing I noticed about this book and about Viktor Frankl's is that neither one of them spent much time feeling sorry for themselves. They just went on with what had to be done.

And even after Corrie returned home, having lost her sister and her father, she went ahead with her life, serving others who had lost just as much as she had, but still needed help.

I could go on more about this book, but I'm not sure how to put into words what I felt. I know that I did feel that I can handle my challenges. She inspired me to become better myself.

Apr 19, 2009, 7:51pm Top

Review for The Sea for Breakfast

Lillian Beckwith goes to live in tiny Bruach, a village in the Scottish highlands. This is her second book about her adventures there, but I hadn't read the first and figured everything out just fine.

It's just a string of stories, relating to her life in the village, one day cutting peat, one day taking her cow to the bull, one day trying her hand at lobstering. Underneath all her adventures are a sense that this is the life. It's hard, it's dirty, it's different from everything she expected - but it is real.

Some of the stories are fictionalized a bit. She uses dialect to try to convey the accents of the villagers, which can be a little confusing to read. There is a very brief glossary at the back, but I was still a little stumped as to some of the words. But it made for very relaxing, funny, lighthearted reading. Most of her books are out of print, but if you happen to find one, they really are lovely books.

Apr 19, 2009, 7:55pm Top

Notes on The Tale of Genji

I gave this one a try, but I just couldn't get into it. Plus it seemed like the whole first part of the book was about adulterous love. It wasn't explicit or anything, but it was kind of depressing for me, so I'm going to pass on this one.

Apr 20, 2009, 1:33am Top

Yeah! That turns me off too. I don't have patience for alcoholics or druggies either.

Apr 20, 2009, 9:41pm Top

Review for Men at Arms

Someone has stolen something from the assassin's guild, but they're not saying what. The head of the Night Watch, Captain Vimes, isn't really too worried about it - he's more worried about his upcoming wedding/retirement. Maybe the new recruits will find out something. If an all-scale city war between the dwarves and the trolls doesn't break out.

I enjoyed this one. It won't make it to my list of all-time favorites, but I did like it. The Librarian makes an appearance towards the end of the book, which was fun, but it just wasn't quite as funny as some of the others.

Apr 20, 2009, 9:59pm Top

What happened? Everything is x'd out.

Edited: Apr 20, 2009, 10:12pm Top

</strike> When you posted your Men at Arms in msg 9, I think you forgot to close the "strike" tag --like this "/strike" with the bloody brackets. I canonly stop it here, because I can't edit your posts.....good thing.

Apr 21, 2009, 12:43pm Top

Yeah, I was pretty surprised when I logged on!

Apr 21, 2009, 5:44pm Top

Just catching up on your reading and #147 The Long Walk sounds really interesting as does The Hiding Place. They've both gone on my tbr list. LOL at your comments on How to be a Domestic Goddess - I've made few of the recipes.

Apr 21, 2009, 10:37pm Top

How did they turn out? Did you like them?

Apr 22, 2009, 1:07am Top

I've been lurking on the Nigella discussion. My daughter and I both love her show and her cookbooks. She has a clementine sponge cake recipe (you can substitute lemons or limes) that is so easy, and so sinfully scrumptiously delicious that it should be required learning for every teenager before leaving home. All the ingredients, including the whole fruits (rinds, seeds, and all) get thrown into a blender, poured into the pan and shoved into the oven. My daughter has orders to make this cake (I actually prefer the lemons to clemmies) for my birthday whenever we're in the same town together...doesn't really even matter if it's my birthday or not.

She is a real tongue in cheek Brit, and once you take that on board, her shows, her recipes and her cookbooks are just plain fun. PS...she writes just like she talks on her show.

Apr 23, 2009, 12:27am Top

That sounds like a yummy cake.

Apr 23, 2009, 12:34am Top

Review for Dune

Paul Atreides is only 15 when his father is killed and he and his mother escape to the deep desert, in hopes of finding a new life. But he is destined for great things.

This is such a huge book - and I'm not talking about size. I mean in scope. Herbert creates political system, religion, myth, ecology, and whole races of people. It took me a couple of chapters to get into the world of this book, but once there, I found it compelling reading. When I wasn't reading the book, I was thinking about it. I felt that he left several loose ends, but I'm sure that's because there are several more books to answer some of those questions.

I'm not sure why I never read this until now. Maybe because I knew it was 'sci-fi' and I had some preconceived idea of how it would be. It sounded dry and boring. I was completely wrong there. Maybe I thought it would be too technical or hard to read, but that wasn't the case either.

Overall, I'm really glad I picked this one on impulse to fill a slot in the new author category. I think I will have to read the next one in the series and see what happens next.

Apr 23, 2009, 1:16pm Top

Review for The Bright Red Bow

This is like two books in one. Pam Robinson describes her own experiences with emotional release therapy and how she came to develop 'the process'. Then there's a brief section about how to use it in your own life and what the basic principles are.

It was a good book, and very helpful, but it was rather brief. Since I have used the process before myself, I didn't feel like I was learning a whole lot of new things here. But it was worth reading. Probably more enlightening for a person who has never tried emotional release therapy.

Apr 23, 2009, 2:49pm Top

Review for The Body in the Billiard Room

Inspector Ghote of the Bombay CID has been sent, ordered really, to a quiet resort town in the mountains to investigate a murder. When he arrives, he find that a former British ambassador named Mehta is convinced that Ghote will wrap this all up in no time, just like in his favorite detective stories. Ghote soon tires of being compared to Sri Poirot and Sri Holmes. He does not feel himself to be a 'great detective' and he knows that real life is not like in books.

Just as indicated by the title, a body has been discovered on the billiard room of a private club. This is not the sort of place where people are used to this thing happening. Mehta has come up with a list of suspects, including a professor who is an expert on crime novels, a Maharajah and his Maharanee. Ghote feels quite out of his element here.

I really enjoyed this book. I liked Inspector Ghote and thought the other characters were well done. The narrator had a tough job getting all the accents and names right, but he did such a great job that I checked the package more than once to make sure that there really was only one reader. The book was very funny in places too.

Apr 23, 2009, 9:51pm Top

Thanks cmbohn. I need to add The Body in the Billiard Room and also Dune to my list.

Maybe an "authors new to me" category is in order. I've never read anything by either of these two authors.

Apr 24, 2009, 2:23pm Top

>199 cmbohn:

I loved Dune, too, and immediately ran to the bookstore to get the second book. I was disappointed, and didn't continue the series. When I checked the books on LT, I found that this is a pretty general sentiment, although many people thought that some of the later books were better than the second one, so perhaps one day I will continue the series.

I did, however, really enjoy the House trilogy (House Atreides, House Harkonnen, and especially House Corrino), which were written by Frank Herbert's son and another sci-fi writer after Frank Herbert's death and from his notes. They are a prequel to Dune, and give history and background on the characters in Dune. There is a lot of criticism of them by Dune purists, but I liked them.

I'll be interested to see what you think if you read more of the series.

Apr 24, 2009, 2:26pm Top

Review for The Warrior Heir

Jack is a pretty typical high school kid, except for some medicine he has to take after a heart surgery as a boy. He lives with his mom, loves soccer, has a couple of best friends. Then his aunt Linda comes for a visit and his world is turned upside down.

This was a fun book! I started it last year and for some reason, put it down and never picked it up again. I'm glad I gave it another try.

The book is set in our world, only unknown to us, there are people with magic around us, known as the Weir. They have been fighting for centuries and Jack is the latest tool they plan to use in their battle. Jack suddenly finds wizards searching for him, someone trying to kill him, and everyone he knows seems to know something he doesn't.

I liked the characters in this book. Chima does a great job of getting us to care about Jack. The other characters too are complex and interesting. I also liked that the women in the story are just as interesting and powerful as the men.

I did guess a few things ahead of time, but I still loved the book. The ending was great and leaves me wanted to read more.

Apr 24, 2009, 6:41pm Top

#196 I had to find my copy of Nigella's book - it's been a few years since I used it. My son chose one of the chocolate cakes to make with me and it turned out really well. I also did one of her meatball recipes from another of her books and it turned out average. I like her transition from cook to hostess in her cooking shows - not that I watch that many of them now. I'm going to have to look out for the recipe tututhefirst mentions in #197

Glad that you discovered Dune, I read it back in highschool along with a couple of the sequels.

Apr 25, 2009, 12:24pm Top

Isn't it ironic, cmbohn, that you've got so many people talking about a book you hated?! I don't even bake and I want to go buy the book! And which will I make first...the lemon cake or the chocolate? :-)

Apr 25, 2009, 1:59pm Top

Just a note---the lemon/clementine cake is in How to eat--not the Domestic Goddess

Apr 25, 2009, 2:07pm Top

Oh! Thanks for telling me. I have to say, too, that your thread had gotten me more interested in looking at cookbooks again. Even though I hardly cook anymore, I want to find that recipe for the perfect lemon cake or the best mac 'n cheese, so that when I succumb to foods like that, it will be worth it!

Apr 25, 2009, 6:55pm Top

It is kind of funny! Maybe if the recipes turn out well, I will give the book another try. But this time, I'm going to skip the writing and get straight to the ingredients. :-)

Edited: Apr 26, 2009, 4:19pm Top

How about sharing all the recipes..... THE ANYTHING CULINARY BOOK GROUP would be very happy to see them.

**she thinks maybe not everybody, but I sure would...........not on my diet, not on my diet...**

Apr 26, 2009, 7:12pm Top

Almost done! 73 out of 81!

Apr 26, 2009, 10:35pm Top

Dropping Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith for now. After starting it, I could tell it would be an intensive study book, and with Jesus The Christ, it would just be too much.

Apr 27, 2009, 3:04pm Top

>211 cmbohn: o!m!g!

Along your way, you've influenced me to

. defer Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman to next year ... already deferred from my 888 :(

. find a way, any way, to fit Man's Search for Meaning into my 999

. consider These Is My Words, which I would never have encountered otherwise

. take on the (to date unsuccessful) challenge of finding The Faith of a Scientist. It brought to mind Powers of Ten -- nearly a flip-book of photographs of a man having a picnic on a grassy lawn, each photograph changing (by a power of 10) from the ones before and after. So the images go from the man as seen from the farthest reaches of the universe, to the deepest-down subatomic particles within him.

Congratulations on your progress!

Apr 27, 2009, 4:02pm Top

Wow! I never knew I was so influential! But I know what you mean, I have added so many books to my TBR list because of this challenge that the list is practically doubled!

Apr 27, 2009, 4:30pm Top

Yeah, cmbohn, how many LT-ers have gotten people interested in books they hated? ;-) You're really special! :-) **she smiles sincerely, but chuckling too!**

detailmuse, there's a kid's book called Zoom! that is similar to Power of Ten that is totally cool, too, though it doesn't go quite so far in or out!.

Apr 27, 2009, 6:42pm Top

thanks bonnie, Zoom looks good ... and led me to Re-zoom ... and then to his The Other Side -- which has set my brain spinning until I get my hands on a copy because it's exactly the change-of-perspective that I love. Yay for inter-library loan!

Apr 27, 2009, 11:24pm Top

Oh, goody, now you've sent me zooming to get those two books. :-)

Apr 27, 2009, 11:40pm Top

My son *loves* those books. Oops, I mean I *HATE* those books. Don't even look at them! I mean it!

Apr 27, 2009, 11:44pm Top

LOL! You've got me pegged! My mother used to complain that I asked her opinion and then did the opposite!

Apr 28, 2009, 8:32pm Top

Decided on further modifications. I am moving a few book around because I want to finish already! Yes, I know it's only April, but I hate being this close and having books around everywhere that I can't read, because they are not on my challenge. This is supposed to be fun, not frustrating. So I put the books on here that I *want* to read, and the ones that are slowing me down are either going to be left off the official list entirely, or added when I do eventually finish, but with no deadline pressure. That way I can enjoy my reading!

Apr 29, 2009, 12:01am Top

Yeah! Someone else who is going to make the 999 challenge work for herself--now I don't feel so alone!

Edited: Apr 29, 2009, 12:13pm Top

Oh...you mean I'm supposed to report that I'm doing that kind of shifting? she asks sheepishly...I've been doing it all along..particularly since I originally had at least 20 books to fit into every category. I just keep adding "bonus" categories and figure at the end, the first nine categories to be complete will constitute my challenge. I'm probably going to finish close to 200 books this year, so as long as I feel challenged, I'm sure none of you will mind..

and if you want to take away my birthday---FEEL FREE--I'm getting too old anyway. LOL

edited to fix grammar

Apr 29, 2009, 2:01pm Top

No, you don't have to report anything! This is supposed to be fun, not homework. But it was bugging me, knowing that I had this list on here that I was 'supposed' to read, so I decided to make a few changes, so it was more what I WANTED to read.

Apr 29, 2009, 2:20pm Top

Well, it's cmbohn thread so she's the boss, but it sure made me feel better to have you confess your "sins" too. ;-)

Apr 29, 2009, 11:50pm Top

Review for James Herriot's Dog Stories

I have been a fan of James Herriot for years. I read the whole series. And I loved the series 'All Creatures Great and Small,' which I thought exactly captured the things I loved best about the books. The casting of Tristan in particular was brilliant! This audiobook features Christopher Timothy, who played James Herriot in the TV series, as the reader. He does a great job as reader and in getting the various accents just right.

This is a rather brief book, but captures some of my favorite stories from the series, including Tricki Woo, the spoiled Pekinese and his quite nice delusional mistress, who regularly speaks with - and hears replies from - her beloved pet. I also loved the story about the poor dog rescued from a terrible life of neglect and about Herriot's own dogs.

If you are a fan of the series, I think you would really enjoy the audio version. It had me laughing away as I was listening and got my kids listening too. Their clear favorite was Tricki Woo, and they were anxious to see what goofy thing would happen next. Lots of fun!

And I noticed that I did really well with the audiobook category, finding lots of books that I really enjoyed. That's always great, but since before I tending to only listen to mysteries, I think I've been encouraged to try a few new titles next time I'm at the library.

Apr 30, 2009, 12:00am Top

Review for The Sword Thief

This is the third in the kids adventure story series, The 39 Clues. Each book comes with cards and a chance to solve an online mystery and win actual prizes.

I like them for the fun story. Each book is written by a different author. The only one I had heard of before was Rick Riordan, who writes the Percy Jackson series, which I totally love.

This one starts off with our heroes Dan and Amy Cahill trying to reach Tokyo before any of the other competitors. And with a title like The Sword Thief, you know samurai have to come in somewhere. And so do yakuza and the Japanese subway. Lots of adventure in this one, but I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't started the series. A fun one for kids and parents to share together. In fact, I just got this one Monday and my son and husband are both anxiously awaiting their turn to read!

Apr 30, 2009, 3:32pm Top

220-224: I've created entire categories that hadn't crossed my mind at the beginning of the year, and I've been shuffling books around, broadening and narrowing categories as needed. I figure the challenge is to complete 81 books (I won't, but I'll get closer than I would in a typical year), and to maintain some continuity and order -- not rigidly, but I do consider when I pick up a book whether it fits reasonably well with the themes of the year.

May 1, 2009, 8:07pm Top

Review for Carthage Conspiracy

Despite the clear title, Carthage Conspiracy: The Trial of the Accused Assassins of Joseph Smith, I was expecting something different. I guess I was expecting a biography of the people involved, and maybe some reflection about the ultimate fate of the church, the Smith family, etc. But what I got was just what the title suggests - the trial. First the effort to identify the people responsible. Then all about the legal system of Hancock county Illinois at the time, and the political and social makeup of the area. Then finally the actual trial process. If I were a legal scholar, it would probably be interesting. But I am rather bored by the whole trial process. The part before and after is what I was interested in, so I don't think that I will finish this one. I may give it another glance through, but that's it.

May 1, 2009, 8:12pm Top

Also finished Doctrines of Salvation, full review coming later.

May 1, 2009, 8:17pm Top

Review for The Bar Code Tattoo

The government knows everything about you. Where you live, where you work, your entire genetic code. And they keep track of you. But only for your own protection, of course. You have no reason to complain - unless you have something to hide. Right?

Kayla is a high school student with a talent for art, but when she refuses to get the bar code tattoo, her defiance starts making trouble for her in all kinds of unexpected ways. Who can she trust? Where can she hide?

This dystopian novel for teens is so close to reality on so many levels, that it makes for a slightly uncomfortable read. Could this really happen? I like to hope not, but I may of course be wrong.

I enjoyed the world in this one. The setting was very well done, and the ramifications well imagined in their chilling consequences. But the characters were not as well done, so I'm only giving it 4 stars. Still, a quick read that will still have me thinking for days to come.

May 2, 2009, 5:54pm Top

Review for The Ranger's Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan

Will is an orphan, left to be raised by the Baron and then apprenticed to a skill when he turns 15. He hopes to become a warrior, but his small size means he is passed over. But the ranger Halt offers him an apprenticeship. Despite some doubts, Will accepts, and begins his training.

I think one of the reasons I bought this book is because I have a son named Will. But I also liked the idea of this sort of mysterious group working for the good of the kingdom, despite being misunderstood.

The book wasn't exactly what I had expected, but in some ways, it was better. I really liked Will and his fellow apprentices. That dynamic seems to be something that will be explored even more later in the series. I also liked Halt and the Baron. The setting is good, but could be better, but again, maybe that will develop more later in the series. I am excited to read book 2.

May 3, 2009, 2:43pm Top

Review for No Doubt About It - Last Book!

I loved this book! Sheri Dew addresses it especially to LDS women, but I think that any woman feeling overwhelmed and underappreciated would get a lift from this great book. I put a bookmark in and wrote the page numbers of my favorite quotes. I will share a few.

"You are good. But it is not enough just to be good. You must be good for something."

- Gordon B. Hinckley

"Noble and great. Courageous and determined. Faithful and fearless. That is who you are and who you have always been. And understanding it can change your life, because this knowledge carries a confidence that cannot be duplicated any other way."

Sheri Dew

So now I am done! I am officially ready to start on my second set of 999. I can't wait!

May 3, 2009, 2:54pm Top

#232 Congratulations!

Are you choosing all new categories, or continuing on with some of the same ones?

Edited: May 3, 2009, 4:13pm Top

WOW I am truly impressed. ..You have such a diverse selection. I look forward to your challenge #2 list.

May 3, 2009, 5:00pm Top

Thanks! All new categories, except for one, LDS books Part 2. Here's a link to the new list:


My new categories are:

Historical Fiction
New Mysteries
Global Reading
LDS Books, Part 2
Books I haven't read for at least 10 Years
Found at the Library

They're already filling up fast, as I tend to get ahead of myself!

May 3, 2009, 7:12pm Top

Wow!! Congrats cmbohn. This is quite an accomplishment!!

May 3, 2009, 7:48pm Top

Congratulations! Wow!

May 4, 2009, 11:29am Top

I believe that you're the first one to reach 81 books! Not that we're in a race or anything, but congratulations!

May 4, 2009, 11:26pm Top

I am really impressed. I'm, sure that you will be able to finish the second challenge and possibly a third! I'm going to give a shot at 999X2, I may not finish but I'll definitely enjoy trying!

May 9, 2009, 4:51pm Top

Congratulations, this is very impressive! Perhaps it will motivate me a little bit.

Edited: May 10, 2009, 11:09pm Top

Oh yes...you'll be waiting for all of us at the finish line of #2, or else you'll be off in the dust pursuing #3.....

BTW..here is a Happy Mother's Day slice of cake for you from Nigella, the Domestic Goddess. This is her famous Clementine cake, although mine today was made (at my request) with lemons.

Since we'd had such a lively discussion up on #197,207 about this cake, I couldn't help but think of all of you as I enjoyed my slice today. My darling daughter made it for Mother's day (it also happened to be my birthday.) It was every bit as good as i remembered it.

May 10, 2009, 11:24pm Top

That cake looks fabulous Tutu!

May 11, 2009, 9:39am Top

#241 Belated happy birthday, Tina. Sunday was my husband's birthday, too. He hates sharing with Mother's Day, so we had Mother's Day with the kids and my parents at noon, then I took him out in the evening for his birthday. It was a lovely day, but we ate entirely too much!

May 11, 2009, 11:03am Top

Mmmm! I love good old-fashioned cakes like this.

May 11, 2009, 11:52am Top

Hope you enjoyed your birthday, Tutu!!

The Red Sox even won on your big day.

May 11, 2009, 2:13pm Top

What a yummy looking cake! Happy belated birthday and happy belated Mother's Day!

Oct 23, 2009, 1:53pm Top

A very belated attempt to sort out my best/worst from challenge #1.

Best of LT Recommended: A 3 way tie! The Graveyard Book, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Best of Biography: The Hiding Place

Best of New Authors: A Doll's House

Best of Teen Reads: The Warrior Heir

Best of LDS Books: No Doubt About It

Best of Short Stories: Murder and Other Acts of Literature

Best of Audiobooks: tie between These is My Words and Wee Free Men

Best of Just for Fun: Men at Arms

Best of Cooking and Food: New Recipes from the Moosewood Restaurant

Oct 23, 2009, 3:26pm Top

I like seeing people's "Best of ..." choices. Thanks!

Oct 23, 2009, 5:34pm Top

Have you visited Corrie ten Boom's house in Haarlem? You can see how they could make an entire unfindable room.

Congratulations on finishing two challenges!

Group: 999 Challenge

272 members

20,057 messages


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