jonesli's 999 categories and a few books
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Hi jonesli. You have some great choices on your list. I've read Lolita, East of Eden, and Anna Karenina, and all were great reads. I really like your idea of having a "Made into a Movie" category. I haven't signed up for the challenge yet because I'm still thinking about what categories I'd like to include and I don't plan on starting until January 1, but I'm very tempted to follow your lead and include a "Made into a Movie" category.
The movie category was the first one that I could complete since I also love to watch 30's to 50's movies!
To edit, just click on the little pencil on the top right corner of your post. I had the same problem myself. Looks like you have lots of interesting books on your list.
Now I'm very glad I came here because your list gives me good ideas! I look forward to hearing what you think.
Mystery CATEGORY COMPLETE
Invisible Man: Ellison
The Forgotten Man: Amity Shlaes
Boom: Tom Brokaw
The Innocent Man
Pulitzer Winners CATEGORY COMPLETE
Short Story Collections (CATEGORY COMPLETE)
The Glass Castle is an amazing book and very hard to leave! What a beautiful start to the new year!
Hi RidgewayGirl: You were absolutely correct, I had to finish this amazing book while trying not to tear up as I was reading!
Wow! You've finished two already? I think I will add The Glass Castle to my list, it sounds very good.
I feel like I've been slacking!
Hi Ambrosia: The reading rush will probably decrease when I go back to work Monday. February will be tied up with The Brothers Karamazov.
Third book finished The Heretic's Daughter review posted on 999 blog link below:
#24> Ah, understood! I'm in the same boat...gotta get some saved up for those times when you won't get through two books in a day!
I mooched The Apple for someone else (Angel Network stuff). Is it the type of book that I could read without having read The Crimson Petal and the White first? Or is that book essential for understanding this one.
I don't think that reading The Crimson Petal and the White before reading The Apple is essential, but it will certainly enhance the experience of understanding the characters and how they are tied together. The stories are good enough by themselves, so I think it should be ok to read one and not the other. Hopefully this makes sense.
Makes sense! Thanks for letting me know. I may try to read it before sending it on, as it sounds very interesting.
4. The Big Sea an excellent autobiography by Langston Hughes.
5. The Tsarina's Daughter a historical fiction/ love story about Tatiana Romanov, the daughter of Tsar Nicholas and Tsarina Alexandra.
6.Alice Adams a pretty good read about a selfish young girl in the 1920's attempting to climb the social ladder and causing problems for her family along the way.
7. The Golden Girls of MGM a good book about the scandalous lives of the queens of MGM.
Hey Victoria: Maybe I will try to fit Poodle Springs in before we start the Brothers K. I keep getting sidetracked by other books.....
I really enjoyed Killer Angels when I read it. The library had a book club and we read it for that. It was really well done.
8. The Whore's Child a great collection of short stories by Richard Russo. I decided to try this book because I read Empire Falls last year and loved it. The short stories are great, they are realistic life situations combined with wry humor featuring among others, an elderly nun born to a prostitute and the thoughts of a 10 year old boy as his parents marriage undergoes a rough patch. Now I think I will look for Nobody's Fool by this author also.
9. Going Wrong a very good suspense novel by Ruth Rendell. It's the story of Guy Curran who is in love with Leonora Chisolm. Guy just happens to be psychotic and believes that various members of Leonora's family are conspiring against him. He slowly loses his grip on reality while consuming large quantities of alcohol and seeking a hitman to solve his problems.
10. The Undertaker's Widow, a pretty good legal thriller and mystery by Philip Margolin. It is the story of a state senator who is accused of killing her husband, the question is was she set up by her stepson, a political rival or her husband's mistress?
I am abandoning the Made Into a Movie category and replacing it with one of my newer favorite authors
Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine
I am leaving the movie category not deleting it as a reminder to myself.
Ruth Rendell is an excellent author. I would urge you to read at least a few of her Inspector Wexford books, but she is one of the few authors whose books can be read all at once, without them feeling repetative. Enjoy!
I have March - Geraldine Brooks on my list too. I am hoping it's as good as it's supposed to be. You never know!
I greatly enjoyed this collection of short stories featuring twisted people in stories with excellent plot twists. Everytime I thought I knew what was going to happen, I was wrong. This was my first time reading anything by this author, although I had heard of him before. Some of the highlights for me were:
*A beautiful woman goes to extreme lengths to rid herself of a stalker.* A former nerd, now an adult, gets revenge on his former tormentors. *A father's fishing trip turns deadly and the absolute best story features detective Lincoln Rhyme in a Christmas themed disappearance.
I am looking forward to reading the Bone Collector and I will be reading the rest of the Lincoln Rhyme series in the near future.
12. The Crocodile Bird
I loved this book! Liza and her mother Eve live on the isolated British estate Shrove House. Although Eve is more than slightly unbalanced, with an unnatural attachment to the estate, one senses that she loves her daughter.
Liza is not allowed to go to school to interact with other children, watch television, or develop any other relationships besides the one with her mother. After committing several murders over Liza's lifetime, Eve's luck has finally run out and she is wanted by the police for her crimes. Liza is now sixteen and runs away with the garden hand and also her boyfriend Sean.
In the manner of Scherazade, Liza recounts her life story to Sean and comes to realize she may be more like her mother than she thinks.
Great psychological thriller.
13. A Demon In My View
I enjoyed this great read about several tenants sharing a run down house,one of whom is a serial killer. The reader learns the reasons behind the serial killer's actions early on.
The main characters,Arthur and Anthony Johnson invevitably get their mail mixed up, which in turn leads to a case of mistaken identity and an unexpected showdown.
This book features the usual psychological suspense and plot twists, but is never boring.
There have been so many great reviews of this book, I don't feel as though I can add anything else that would be insightful. However, I find this book to be a wonderfully written story about the brutality of slavery, war, and the courage of one's convictions. Wonderful attention to detail also.
Reading this book has made me nostalgic for the time when I was a young girl and read Little Women for the first time.
Oh, I've read A Demon in my View, but I forgot the title of it until I read your description. I remember enjoying that one. Some of Rendell's books are too dark for me, but I liked that one.
15. The Secret House of Death
I am just a tad bit obsessed with Ruth Rendell right now, so you will see quite a few posts with her books. I think there are almost 80 of them, maybe more if I count short story collections, uh oh...... I will get around to the other books I planned to read at some point I hope.
Anyway, this book was one of her earlier ones, published in 1968, and is the story of Susan Townsend, living with her son Paul, recently divorced from her husband. Susan has the misfortune of finding the bodies of her neighbor Louise and her alleged lover.in Louise's house. Louise's husband Bob, begins spending a lot of time with Susan, who start to realize that all is not quite right with Bob. Very good book, although the early style is much different from some of the later books that I have read.
16. The Little Sleep an ER book
I loved this book! I read it in about two days. I found this book to be very different and very well written.
It is the story of a South Boston PI who suffers from insomnia, narcolepsy, and hallucinations.
Admittedly, I was curious, perhaps a little skeptical about how the narcoplepsy, insomnia, and hallucinations were going to work, but the author did a great job with this while also providing just the right amount of humor with his description of the other characters.
17. Make Death Love Me another great Ruth Rendell thriller.
18. A Summons to Memphis This was a random pick from the list of Pulitzer Fiction winners. I think this book won in 1986 or 1987. I was not familiar with this author and I was glad to have read this book.
It is a story of aging, family relationships, resentment, lost love, and Southern traditions. The basic premise of this story is that the patriarch of a Nashville family (originally from Memphis is seeking a second wife after his first wife of many years passes away. His two daughters are vehemently opposed to such an idea, and summon their younger brother to Memphis to stop the foolishness of an old man. As the son reflects on his childhood, the reader learns why none of the children have married and how the father's machinations played a part in shaping the lives of his children led to resentment, but will hopefully heal old wounds.
19. The House of Stairs
Early on in this book it is established that a murder has taken place., as well as the identity of the murderer. The actual act and the victim's identity are not revealed until the very, very end.
Elizabeth moves in with her widowed aunt Cosette to escape her home life. The house that she eventually moves into is known as "The House of Stairs" complete with a long winding staircase and upstairs windows that reach to the floor, only there are no balconies.
Cosette's generous nature leads to her being taken advantage and surrounded my a variety of freeloaders. She is oblivious to this of course, as she tries to recapture her youth and find true love at last.
20. Death of a Gentle Lady I substituted this book for an Agatha Christie that I wasn't able to get a hold of.
This was my first time reading a Hamish Macbeth and it was a vey quick and enjoyable read. I will definitely read the rest of the series soon, of course as I usually do, I think I started with the last of the series. I think there is a new one that just came out.
Anyway, this is the story of the murder of Mrs. Gentle, who on the surface appears to be a sweet older lady loved by everyone except Hamish. He proposes to her maid supposedly to help her out with her visa problem, and to help him keep his police station also. From there the fun begins...
21. In Cold Blood
This is an excellent book, I don't know why I have never read it before now or seen any version of the movie.
I think I started with about the 10th Hamish book and then went back and started at the beginning. I'm up to date on that one and put it on reserve as soon as I hear about the new title. I love those Hamish books.
Rhys Bowen's Evan Evans series reminds me of the Hamish MacBeth series, too. I like them both.
Hi Victoria! Let's start Sunday. I hope to finish the Brothers K by then, but even if I don't we can still do Playback then.
22. The Lake of Darkness yet another Ruth Rendell book. I can't seem to get enough. Great book featuring the author's trademark of dark irony and people with emotional issues.
Martin Urban wins quite a bit of money in a lottery and attempts to do the right thing and give half of it away to people in need. He then falls in love and plans to marry, all the while not quite sure if he is attracted to another man, but a case of miscommunication alters his plans...
23. The Brothers Karamazov
This book is listed just about everywhere as a "must read". I have had the book on my shelves for a few years and grew bored with it easily. I am now a big fan of the group read as I think this finally gave me the encouragement to finish this lengthy novel.
I am glad that I have read it, and this book is a great tool for discussions of socialism, philosophy, and religion. Parts of it are torture to read, and others are riveting.
The story is that of the tumultuous relationship of Fydoor Karamazov and his sons, Dmitri, Ivan, and Alexy. Complete with drunken debauchery, greed, and treatises on heaven versus hell and good versus evil, the Brothers Karamazov is best read in small segments.
Playback is Raymond Chandler's last novel. Although I was glad to have read this one, there was something missing for me with the way the book flowed.
Philip Marlowe, wisecracking detective, is hired to follow a rehead who goes by the name of Betty Mayfield as she is leaving a train but isn't told the whole story why.
There are a few dead bodies, a couple of love scenes and not much more. I felt as though maybe Mr. Chandler had written or meant to write more to be added to this book. But even a mediocre Chandler is still worth the read. I suppose I just love the Big Sleep so much it's hard not to compare. I still plan on reading the rest of his works ; High Window, and his short story collections.
Lisa, I ditto everything you said regarding Playback. Let's do another tandem read sometime.
25. The Concrete Blonde Number 3 in the Harry Bosch series.
Harry is being sued by the wife of the alleged Dollmaker serial killer that he shot and killed four years ago. When new corpses are found with the killer's signature everyone seems to think that Harry may have killed the wrong man. Great story which brings up Harry's childhood, and the problems in his realtionship with his girlfriend Sylvia.
26. Not the Girl Next Door
A wonderful biography about one of my favorite actresses , Joan Crawford. Everyone is probably familiar with the Mommie Dearest movie starring Faye Dunaway with the infamous wire hanger scene. This book however, offers a different side of the relationship between Joan and her daughter Cristina as well as her infamous feuding with Bette Davis. Filled with intimate details of her family life, loves, and experiences, Not The Girl Next Door offers a refreshing perspective of one of the great actresses of Old Hollywood.
27. Breathing Lessons
Maggie Moran is a well meaning wife and mother with a big heart who seems to cause chaos at every turn. She loves her husband Ira, son Jesse and daughter Daisy, but Ira seems indifferent, Jesse has problems of his own, and Daisy, who is about to begin college, is so independent that Maggie thinks she doesn’t need her any more. Jesse is father of Leroy and husband of Fiona, who Maggie is desperately trying to get back together for their daughter’s sake, but sometimes things are just not meant to be, which doesn’t stop her from trying to push them together every chance she gets.
The entire book takes place in a one day time frame as Maggie and Ira are driving to her high school friend’s husband’s funeral. Maggie and Ira get on each other’s nerves during the road trip and each reminisces about life events that brought them to the place they are today. This book is a delightfully funny and honest portrayal of how people, especially those with grown children look back on their lives and imagine various what if scenarios, for example, what if Ira had pursued his dream of becoming a doctor, and what if Maggie had married her first serious boyfriend. Although, sometimes it is fun to look back on your life and imagine what could have been it can also make you thankful for what you do have, even if may seem ordinary to others. This is a realistic portrayal of how spouses can get on each others nerves, children can drive us crazy, etc. but we do love and appreciate them.
I enjoyed reading this book and there were parts that honestly did make me laugh out loud.
28. 20th Century Ghosts
I thought Heart Shaped Box was really good, but 20th Century Ghosts is great. While some of the stories have a sweet or perhaps sad undertone, all our good in their own way. My three favorites from this collection are 20th Century Ghost, Last Breath and Abraham's Boys.
Without giving too much away, 20th Century Ghost manages to tie in a love of movies with a ghost, Last Breath is a creepy story about a musuem owner who manages to extract the last breaths of the dying, and Abraham's Boys is a tribute to Dracula. Also good were Voluntary Comittal and The Cape.
29 Trouble Is My Business
A collection of short stories by Raymond Chandler featuring the title story Trouble Is My Business -Marlowe is hired to thwart a romance between a wealthy heir and a showgirl.
Also featured are 2. Fingerman-the story of a crooked politician seeking revenge on Marlowe for his testimony. 3.Goldfish-Marlowe is hired to find missing pearls. 4.Red Wind-mayhem ensues while Marlowe is out one night drinking.
All were good stories and I enjoyed reading them. My favorite was the title story Trouble Is My Business.
30. Ruth Rendell Collected Stories
An omnibus of delightfully dark short stories by Ruth Rendell. All were very good. My favorites were:
The Fallent Curtain, A Needle for the Devil, May and June, and Achilles Heel.
31. The New Girlfriend and other Stories- Yes, I'm pretty sure that I will read every Ruth Rendell and Barbara Vine book this year. The description on the cover of this one says it all: eleven chilling tales of murder, madness, and the macabre. My favorites: The New Girlfriend, Hare's House and the Whistler.
32.The Magnificent Ambersons
An actual book from one of my categories:)
A very good read which take place at the turn of the century, published in 1918. George Amberson Minafer is spoiled, arrogant, condescending to both family and others around him. Everyone is hoping for the day when George gets what's coming to him.
Changes in the American landscape, automation, and bad investments dwindle the Amberson fortune considerably forcing George to (gasp), get a job in order to support himself and his aunt.
There is a beautiful ending to this story when someone who George treated miserably extends an act of kindness to him even after all he had done.
I am now looking forward to seeing this movie
Have you thought of changing some of your categories? How about the following: Inspector Wexford mysteries, Barbara Vine titles, Books by Ruth Rendell, early Ruth Rendell and Short Stories by RR/BV? A year spent reading the Rendell oevre does not seem to me to be a year wasted.
This is a good idea that I had not thought of, thank you. I am really starting to see what is working for me and what isn't doing this challenge. i.e. Read a book or two by an author, and then becoming obsessed collecting all of them.
I am probably going to see if I can read all of Ms. Vine/Rendell as an unofficial challenge. I think you had originally suggested getting some of the Inspector Wexfords to read and I am almost finished collecting them.
You are right on the money about spending a year reading her books, I don't think I will run across a bad one
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this classic, which surprisingly I had never thought to read before. I have seen the movie countless times and while I was reading the book I kept picturing Laurence Olivier and thinking how perfect he was for the role.
I found it interesting, even a little annoying that Mrs. Du Maurier opted not to give the female protagonist a name, I can’t think of any other book that I’ve read where that was the case. At any rate, the nameless protagonist meets Mr. Maxim de Winter in Monte Carlo and instantly becomes smitten with the older, distinguished gentleman, owner of the magnificent estate Manderley.
Upon settling into newlywed life at Manderley, the nameless protagonist quickly learns that the housekeeper Mrs. Danvers is out to make her life miserable any way she can. A series of events take place, misunderstandings are supposedly cleared up and then, when I got to the ending, I was left wondering if there was supposed to be more or if poetic license was taken by Hitchcock when the movie was made. All in all, Rebecca is a great book and I am happy to have finally read it.
36. Bleeding Heart Square
This book is supposed to be my February Early Review snag, but it has not yet arrived and it was calling my name when I was at the library.
Hopefully, I won’t spoil anything for those who are still waiting for it. I tried really hard not to include too much detail.
Lydia Langstone flees her abusive husband, and winds up at Bleeding Heart Square, a cul-de-sac where her father, who she hasn’t seen for years, is currently residing. The book starts very, very slowly, many characters are introduced who seemingly do not have a relationship with each other. The book then gains momentum in the middle and the end, where the various characters’ relationships are explained. When it picked up the pace, I literally couldn’t put it down. At the heart of the story is the mysterious disappearance of Mrs. Penhow, a middle aged spinster who has seemingly vanished into thin air. This was a great book!
37.The Optimist's Daughter a very quick, but very good book by Eudora Welty. What I like so much about her is that she can say a lot without hitting you over the head with it.
It's the story of Laurel McKelva returning to her childhood home for her father Judge McKelva's eye operation and the collision course that results when she has to put up with her self involved, slightly younger than herself stepmother, Fay. This is a great book in the tradition of other Southern novels, without a great deal of character development.
40. I added The Stone Diaries to my Pulitzer category. I had intended to hold on to this book, but I started reading it and couldn't stop.
This is a wonderful story of the life of Daisy Goodwill, her birth, her years spent as a wife and mother, widowhood, and the deterioration that comes with age. It took a while for me to get used to the author's writing style, but then I quickly got caught up in what was happening in the "diaries".
After finishing this book, I thought of : how it takes forever for time to pass when we are young, and how we would like for it to slow down as we age. Also the perceptions that the young have of the "older' generation and vice versa. A very interesting book.
I really enjoyed Rebecca, but I think you're right - that's the only book I can think of where the female protagonist remains unnamed.
41. Poodle Springs
I am a big fan of Raymond Chandler and have read most of his work. Poodle Springs was left unfinished with about four chapters finished at the time of Mr. Chandler’s death in 1959. Approximately 40 years after his death, Robert Parker was chosen to finish Poodle Springs as a tribute to Mr. Chandler in honor of what would have been his 100th birthday. Although I am not at all familiar with Mr. Parker’s work, I think he did a great job completing Poodle Springs and I think it is a fitting honor to Mr. Chandler’s creation. I have learned that Mr. Parker has also written a sequel to the Big Sleep titled Perchance to Dream, which I may also read.
Poodle Springs begins with Philip Marlowe living in Poodle Springs California married to a wealthy heiress and living in luxury. The conflict begins early on as Marlowe’s wife Linda wants him to stay at home with her, lunch at the club, and attend numerous social functions. Of course this is not Marlowe’s style; he has to be his own man and remain true to himself and sets out to open up an office in Poodle Springs, where of course no one expects anything criminal to take place. In short order, Marlowe lands his first case in Poodle Springs; he is hired by Manny Lipschultz to track down Les Valentine who left a $100,000 marker and left Manny in big trouble with his boss, Mr. Blackstone. What seems like a simple case soon evolves into a confusing case of double identity with a charming rogue, and undying love.
I found Mr. Chandler’s other novels perhaps contained a few more plot twists and character development, this book was pretty straight forward, and not to difficult to figure out who the murderer was. However, I think it would be impossible for one person to write exactly like another and no one should be expected to. Mr. Parker captured the essence of Philip Marlow using his own style and did a first-rate job. The snappy dialogue, tough guy demeanor, humor and Marlowe’s propensity in being the first on the scene of finding dead bodies are still present and very entertaining. It’s Philip Marlowe with a new romantic side to him and it works.
I absolutely love this part near the end (Possible Spoiler)
“It had been a long time since I’d sat in this bar and had a gimlet with Terry Lennox, a long time since I’d first met Linda Loring, Harlan Potter’s daughter, gold and diamond and silk, and perfume that cost more than my weekly wage. A long time and I was still ………… drinking alone” Perfect, I can just picture Bogie saying these words.
Hey Victoria: Yes, we do love our noir don't we?
I think the only Chandler novel I have left is High Window have you read it? I also picked up Killer in the Rain and Pickup on Noon Street not too long ago, I think they are short stories.
I am looking forward to reading Goodis with you also, as soon as I track the books down!
43. Pieces of My Heart I have been trying to obtain this book for months now and somehow it has never become available until last week. I love classic movies as much as reading, and I like reading Hollywood biographies.
Robert Wagner's book, while holding my interest, seemed to be a litany of every actor and director that he ever came in contact with. He was very careful not to give too much detail as to destroy any reputations which I find admirable.
It is evident that the love he shared with Natalie Wood was a once in a lifetime thing, even though he was married to others at times. I had no idea that the first woman he ever loved, was Barbara Stanwyck, one of my favorite actresses of all time.
I liked, not loved this book, but it is a quick and entertaining read if one enjoys reading about Hollywood.
44. Kaffir Boy- author Mark Mathabane's compelling true story of growing up in apartheid South Africa. The poverty, violence, and humiliation that he suffered made him extremely determined to escape to a better life in America. He was finally rewarded for his scholastic efforts with a full tennis scholarship to Limestone College. This is where the book ended, and I am now curious about what happened afterward. I will have to track down the author's other books. Reading this book really made me apprecative of what I have and the true struggles of others.
45. Suite Francaise this book was a late addition to my Historical Fiction category, after a good friend told me how good it was.
First, the fact that this author's manuscript remained unknown for more than sixty years is incredible. Additionally, the author never had a chance to complete her novel as planned as she was arrested and sent to Auschwitz, where she died in 1942. This is an excellent book which is divided into two unique parts. The first, tells the story of the Nazi occupation in 1940, the plight of those seeking food and shelter and the mayhem that took place.
The second half of the book takes place in a village which is now occupied by German soldiers and the forced coexistence that takes place with the enemy, while forced to open their homes and fight for their very survival.
I am glad to have read this book and I will be looking for the author's other book Fire in the Blood
Ironweed won the Pulitzer Prize in 1984, and is the third book in a series of the story of Francis Phelan.
This is a touching story of Francis Phelan's attempt to conquer the demons of his past while also dealing with his homelessness and drinking.
Francis is an ex-ball player who has caused the death of others on more than one occasion. First, by killing a scab during a worker's strike, then tragically by accidentally, but fatally killing his infant son by dropping him when he went to change his diaper. Francis is falwed, but tugs at your heartstrings as he looks out for his other homeless companions and has the courage to go and see his wife, daughter and son after being away from them for over 20 years. This is a very emotional and realistic portrayal of how a person can find themselves in bad situations but have goodness in their hearts.
47. A Dark Adapted Eye is another goodie by Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine. I was reminded of Asta's Book when I was reading this which I loved. This book was the winner of the 1986 Edgar Award.
Faith Severn is contacted by a journalist who wants to dig into the past of Faith's aunt, Vera Hillyard who was hung for murder thirty years ago. Early on, we know that Vera committed murder, but we do not know who was killed or why.
There are a great many characters introduced, which was a little maddening for me at times. I realize now that this was necessary to set the generational theme for the story. The murder victim is revealed at the end, but teasingly we do not find out who Faith's cousin Jamie's parents are. which is central to the story. Good stuff! I highly recommend this one.
48. The Beautiful and Damned
This book may be one of Fitzgerald's lesser known works, such as The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night.
This book was wonderfully written, howwever I found it to be a bit rambling at times. It is nonetheless an excellent portrayal of what happens to us when we are greedy, self indulgent and expect others to solve our problems.
Set in the wonderful Jazz Age in New York, The Beautiful and Damned is the story of Anthony Patch, a Havard educated aspiring writer, and loafer and his wife Gloria,a petulant party girl's downward spiral after their brief courtship and marriage. Basically Anthony and Gloria are waiting patiently for his grandfather Adam Patch to die, so that they will inherit his multimillion dollar estate. Neither one feels as though they should work and instead live on a small trust income and sell bonds to pay their bills and afford liquor, cigarettes, and domestic help.
What happens next is an important lesson about reality, becoming a responsible adult and what brings true happiness. A great read although it is perhaps a little lenghty.
I've always loved that title although I've never read it. Do you think I would enjoy it?
Hi Victoria: I think you would enjoy this book, it's verbose at times, but overall a good story.
49. The Lost Stories of Dashiell Hammett
This book is an interesting compilation of some of Dashiell Hammett's lesser known works, some of which had not been published for many years. If one is looking for an anthology of simply short stories, then you would probably be disappointed with this book. There is a great deal of biographical and historical detail included along with each story which may either frustrate or interest some readers. I found the background information to be a useful tool while I was reading.
While I was reading this book, a conversation ensued about the differences between Hammett and Chandler, and how some people preferred one to the other. I would never be able to choose between the two authors for they both have their own unique styles and are true "hardboiled" masters.
Dashiell Hammett turned to writing mainly because he was afflicted with TB and was not expected to survive. Writing short stories and then eventually novels was not physically strenuous. I found the details in the book fascinating background information and told me a lot more than I previously knew about this great author of The Dain Curse, Maltese Falcon, and The Thin Man.
50 The Killing Doll
A deeply disturbing psychological thriller, which I usually love, but this book didn't do too much for me, it was mediocre in my opinion.
Pup Yearman sold his soul to the devil when he was sixteen. His sister Dolly thinks that her brother has special powers and can perform magic. She makes dolls for her brother to cast spells with. A woman is found bleeding to death, a man is pushed in front of a subway and at the end I just didn't care anymore. I wouldn't say this is the eeriest or best book that she has written.
51. The Heir I usually enjoy Barbara Taylor Bradford's books but this one I could have skipped. The Heir is a sequel to The Ravenscar Dynasty which I enjoyed when I read it. It's the story of Edward Devranel, his wife Elizabeth his mistress Jane, and his brothers George and Richard. I suppose nothing will live up to the fantastic Emma Harte series beginning with A Woman of Substance. Not too much happens that is worth mentioning.
52. Age of Innocence A beautiful love story set in 1870's New York. Newland Archer is engaged to marry the lovely May Welland until her scandalous cousin Ellen Olenska comes to town and Newland falls in love with her. This book is filled with emotional infidelity, social standards and the lives of the privileged class. I love how Newland was stunned that his wife knew more than he thought she did!
53. Forever Amber It's very easy to see why this book was banned in 1944 and caused such a ruckus. It's the story of the beautiful, willful, selfish Amber St. Clare who uses her feminine wiles to claw her way into high society in 17th century England. Think of a British Scarlett O'Hara when reading this, but with mention of unplanned pregnancies, abortions, and spur of the moment marriages. I loved this book, although it was a bit long, it definitely held my interest.
Forever Amber, there's a blast from my past! I remember sneaking a peek at the naughty bits when I was a tween.
For some reason when I was looking for this book (which my mother had) I couldn't find it. I think my big sis is the culprit but she has never admitted to it.
I do however, remember the look of horror on Mom's face when she found my stash of Valley of the Dolls, Once Is Not Enough and The Betsy!
54. The Tea Rose This is the first book in a trilogy which includes The Winter Rose and The Wild Rose.
This hefty novel tells the beautiful story of Fiona Finnegan, and the struggles of her family in 19th Centry East London. There are so many tragic things that happen to Fiona in such a short time, that one would think she just couldn't endure any more, but she does.
She is a fighter and is determined not to stay "in a woman's place' as she overcomes her impoverished life to become an owner of several successful tea shops.
This book reminds me so much of the successful Emma Harte series written by Barbara Taylor Bradford, beginning with A Woman of Substance, one of my favorite books ever. I thought that this book was a very well written piece of historical fiction and I am looking forward to reading the other two books in the series.
55. Atonement There has been so much written about this book, this was also my first time reading this author. The flow was a little strange for me, a scene was set, then another perspective about the same scene was then written. Once I got used to the style, it became easier for me to read.
The brief synopis:
Bratty Briony witnesses an intimate moment between her sister Cecilia and Robbie Turner, the servant's son. Her childish lie forever changes everyone's lives and she suffers the consequences of her actions over a span of about sixty years ago. This was a very sad, but very good book. Now I think I will watch the movie.
56. A Song Flung Up To Heaven This is the last of Maya Angelou's six autobiographies, set in early 1965 as she is leaving Ghana to return to America which is in the middle of The Civil Rights Movement. She is leaving a man she loves because she wants to be her own woman and not have to change to suit his needs and to be in control of her own life.
The book discusses her planned work with both Malcolm X and later Martin Luther King, who both were killed before she was able to experience working with them. She becomes great friends with James Baldwin and eventually finds her way to writing her first autobiography, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. I find her life to be fascinating and her writing excellent.
57. The Winter Rose I loved this 700 plus page continuation of The Tea Rose. What I liked about this book was that the major characters in The Tea Rose were still present, but other characters became more developed. Set in 1906 London, India Jones, a young doctor falls in love with Sid Malone, who happens to be the brother of Fiona Finnegan Bristow. The reader travels back and forth between London and Africa and is a beautiful story. I can't wait to read the next installment in the trilogy!
58.Executive Suite I cannot remember why I have this book, but I think it has something to do with the movie of the same name starring the fabulous Barbara Stanwyck, Fredric March and William Holden. The movie is much better! It's the story of the sudden death of the president of Treadway Corporation, Avery Bullard, who for a year has neglected to name an executive vice president among five possible contenders. His sudden death means that a president needs to be elected as well as an executive VP. The story takes place during the early 1950's when men ruled the boardroom and women poured the coffee. Not a bad read, but kind of ho hum.
59.Paul Newman A very good biography of one of my favorite actors who I loved best when playing the oh so bad boy in Hud, The Hustler and Cool Hand Luke are also favorites. He took a chance not going into his family's rather successful sporting goods store, and decided to make acting his life's work. He was a very private person, and the fact that he fell in love with Joanne Woodward while he was still married to his first wife Jackie, didn't seem to hurt either of their careers. He suffered the loss of his son Scott, and had a hard time connecting with his other five children. He was also a great humanitarian, spoke his mind about civil rights issues, took up racing at an advanced age, and decided to manufacture his own salad dressing, popcorn and pasta sauce. What a life!
60.Champagne for One I have a feeling I will be devouring the Nero Wolfe series very soon. Archie is invited to an annual gala for unwed mothers (you can tell this is from the 50's) where one of the guests is carrying around poison in her purse and has been overheard saying that she wanted to kill herself. Archie suspects that she has been murdered and sets out to prove it. You can kind of see where this is going, but still fun to read.
61.The Bone Collector this is my first Lincoln Rhyme series and I will be collecting the rest of the series very soon. Lincoln Rhyme, ex NYPD criminalist, forensic expert is now a quadriplegic and wants to die. Confined to his home, his brilliant mind can still work a crime scene like no one else. He temporarily abandons his suicide plans to catch the Bone Collector, along with his new partner Amelia. I loved this book, the two great plot twists at the end were fantastic. It was a real page turner for me and sets up things nicely for the next installment.
62.Montgomery Clift: A Biography
Montgomery Clift was a tortured soul who never quite found his way in the world. With an extremely pushy mother and surrounded by people to used and abused him he died at the young age of 45 in 1966. His life and looks were forever changed by the car accident he suffered in 1956 while driving down a hill after leaving Elizabeth Taylor’s house. He was never quite the same after this and proceeded to consume even more pills and alcohol to cope with his pain and what people were saying about his badly reconstructed face. While perhaps not a “great” actor, he nonetheless has memorable performances, IMO with Red River, From Here to Eternity, Judgment at Nuremburg and one of my favorites, The Heiress with Olivia de Havilland. (based on the Henry James novel Washington Square)
63.East of Eden It took me a little while to read this book, not because I didn’t like it, because there was so much to savor, it should not be read quickly. At approximately 600 pages or so, one must read this book in sections in order to enjoy it. Once I got used to Steinbeck's style, I started to enjoy it more. It's the classic story of the good brother and the bad brother. In this case, the story begins with Adam and Charles Trask, and the unequal love of their father. When Adam becomes a father to Cal and Aron, history seems to repeat itself as Cal tries to win his father's love. At the background of the brother's story is their mother Cathy Trask, who shot their father and went on to run a brothel. Very good read.
64.The Spire Thank goodness Mr. Patterson has returned to the psychological suspense novel. This genre, I believe is his specialty. I found myself captivated from the first few pages. The Spire refers to the daunting bell tower located on the campus of Caldwell College. It is the story of 17 year old Mark Darrow, star high school athlete but mediocre student, who is befriended and mentored by Dr. Lionel Farr, a philosophy professor at Caldwell. Dr Farr arranges for both Mark and his best friend Steve Tillman to obtain athletic scholarships to Caldwell. Unfortunately Steve suffers a knee injury which ends his college football career. One night in November, after throwing four touchdown passes; Mark becomes the hero of the night and as part of his celebration Mark was allowed to ring the bell in the Spire.
His celebration of his big night is forever changed the next morning by his discovery of the murdered body of Angela Hall, a black female student near the Spire. The night of the celebration, Mark’s friend Steve and another friend Joe Betts are involved in a fight, are both seen with the victim, are both drunk, and Steve doesn’t seem to remember what happened. All evidence points to Steve; he is tried, and convicted to life in prison. Steve seemed o have genuinely liked Angela, unfortunately prior racial statements he made helped to seal his fate, in addition he may also have had inadequate counsel. Her murder sparks racial tensions and tarnishes the integrity of the college. Mark knows something about that night that does not share with the police or with his friend Steve thinking that what he knows might somehow make things worse for his friend. He consequently does not attend the trial and moves on with his life, going on to law school and becoming a successful criminal attorney.
Sixteen years after graduation, Mark is asked by his mentor Dr. Farr, now the college provost, to become the college’s new president and to help solve the mystery of $900,000 in missing endowment money. The investment committee’s chairman just happens to be Joe Betts, Mark’s old friend. Even with the demands of his new position Mark continues to have nagging doubts about his friend Steve’s guilt and begins to probe into the case. He is also falling in love with Dr. Farr’s daughter Taylor, who is troubled by events in her past. There was good character development throughout the entire book and even though I began to guess the conclusion toward the end, it did not make it any less thrilling by the time I reached the riveting conclusion.
65Etta James: A Rage to Survive
A very candid and honest story of one the greats in American music.
Born in 1938 to a 14 year old mother, Etta James began her life looking for love, first from her mother, then from men and spent most of her life addicted to heroin and many other drugs. Her mother never confirmed exactly who her father was, although many friends and acquaintances indicated that it was Minnesota Fats, who she eventually got to meet. He could neither confirm nor deny allegations that he was in fact her biological father, because no one could be sure, but he agreed to meet with her and provided her with mementos to remember him by.
Signed to Chess Records at the young age of 16, where her best known hit “At Last” was recorded. The book chronicles her contact with many great performers such as Miles Davis, Sam Cooke, Billie Holliday, and The Rolling Stones.
Her story is not one that evokes self-pity, at no point upon reading her sad story does one get the sense that she is saying” feel sorry for me” rather, she paints a realistic portrait of what can happen when talent is combined with all the temptations that performing on the road offers and how she came back fighting for her survival.
Hey Victoria: Yes, I've been trying to play catch up since I have seriously wandered off challenge.
Funny! I was just writing an article about books of my childhood, and I remembered that book. We had a huge library at home, and I was an eager reader. One day I found this book Aina vain Amber (Forever Amber translated into Finnish, because I live in Finland) on the lowest shelf of one of our bookcases and started reading it, eagerly. My godmother was visiting us, and she came to check, what I was doing, went horrified to my mother saying I was reading a book that was not suitable to my age (I must have been 8 or 10 years old). My mother reminded me there was some chore I had gto do, so I had to leave the book. But later my mother told me I can read, whatever I like, 'Just take care your godmother does not see it'. She knew I cannot understand all of the book. And yes, I did not, I found it all about much later....
#66The Audacity of Hope President Obama's second book offers his views on bipartisanship, race relations, and family challenges. He was very honest about how Michelle was a little resentful of being by herself with the kids. It doesn't matter whether you agree with him or not, the book makes for very interesting reading.
#67Some Rain Must Fall- I greatly enjoyed both The Crimson Petal and the White and The Apple Michel Faber so I decided to try this books of short stories by the author. Some of the stories were a little odd but I enjoyed the title story in which a teacher encourages her student to express their feelings after a tragedy. Overall the stories were good, there were only two I think that were kind of out there.
68 When the Women Come Out to Dance a book of short stories. All were good, I particularly enjoyed the title story where Mrs. Mahmood meets her match when she conspires with her maid to get rid of her husband.
#69Lady Chatterly's Lover- Constance Chatterly is a lonely woman trapped in a loveless marriage looking for outside comfort. Lots of description here, which might make some uncomfortable, hence the banning and labeling it "pornography". Beyond the sexual content, is also the so called "class system" and men's attitudes toward women. I'm glad I read it.
70.Pride and Prejudice
I must admit that I have avoided reading this great classic for many years. I am glad that I finally read it and I enjoyed it tremendously. It has everything romance, a happy ending, humor and a good background of the social customs of the 19th Century.
The matriarch of the Bennett family, makes it her life's mission to see that all five of her daughters are "suitably" married to the "proper gentlemen". She is looking out for their future as well as her own. Elizabeth, the second oldest of the Bennett family, meets Mr. Darcy, dismisses him as an arrogant snob. You just know they are destined to fall in love.
Now that I have taken the plunge, I will be reading more of Ms. Austen.
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