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Laytonwoman3rd Reads the Year Away 2009 (Thread 3)

75 Books Challenge for 2009

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Edited: Oct 26, 2009, 8:46am Top

Since no one in my house goes back to school anymore, I am starting a new thread to simulate that "fresh start" feeling.

My previous threads are Here and Here

In order to preserve touchy touchstones in the following list, I will keep the list of the rest of my reading for the year, as well as my ticker, in Post Number 2

A little review of my 2009 reading to date:

61. through #Whatever listed in Post No. 2 below
60. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
59. The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King
58. Homer and Langley by E. L. Doctorow
57. I Feel Bad About My Neck Nora Ephron
56. The Hustler by Walter Tevis
55. The Road Home by Rose Tremain
54. A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
53. The Cold Moon by Jeffery Deaver
52. The Well and the Mine by Gin Phillips
51. Home by Marilynne Robinson
50. Property by Valerie Martin
49. Tamarind Mem by Anita Rau Badami
48. The Hero's Walk by Anita Rau Badami
47. Murder in E Minor by Robert Goldsborough
46. To Kill a Mockingbird (audio book) by Harper Lee read by Sissy Spacek
45. Chasing the Bear by Robert B. Parker
44. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
43. The Nazi Officer's Wife by Edith Hahn Beer
42. The View From Castle Rock by Alice Munro
41. I Shall Not Want by Julia Spencer-Fleming
40. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
39. Old Men at Midnight by Chaim Potok
38. In Her Father's Eyes by Bela Weichherz
37. Annie's Ghosts by Steve Luxenberg
36. Secrets of Greymoor (juvenile) by Clara Gillow Clark
35. Serve it Forth M.F.K. Fisher
34. In the Fall by Jeffrey Lent
33. The Mafia Cookbook by Joseph Iannuzzi
32. Catskill Crafts; Artisans of the Catskill Mountains by Jane Smiley
31. Travel Light by Naomi Mitchison
30. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
29. Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz
28. In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead by James Lee Burke
27. Carmilla by Sheridan LeFanu
26. Green Hills of Africa by Ernest Hemingway

Here are the first 25 books I read this year

1. Fingersmith Sarah Waters
2. Rough Weather Robert B. Parker
3. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress Dai Sijie
4. The American Journey of Barack Obama
5. All Mortal Flesh Julia Spencer-Fleming
6. Cold Comfort Farm Stella Gibbons
7. Tenney's Landing Catherine Tudish
8. Embers Sandor Marai
9. Partners in Crime Agatha Christie
10. Giraffe J. M. Ledgard
11. With Malice Toward Some Margaret Halsey
12. The Maytrees Annie Dillard
13. The Innocent Man John Grisham
14. Bread-Givers by Anzia Yezierska
15. House of Fallen Leaves (Sons of Weostahn) by Holly Wendt
16. All the Poems of Muriel Spark
17. The Mercedes Coffin by Faye Kellerman
18. Coalseam Poems from the Anthracite Region
19. Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton
20. Thunderstruck by Erik Larson
21. Soul Songs by C. M. Callahan
22. Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener by M. C. Beaton
23. Night and Day by Robert B. Parker
24. My Own Country by Abraham Verghese
25. The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby


Edited: Oct 7, 2010, 5:50pm Top

84. Used and Rare by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone
83. Shaggy Muses by Maureen Adams
82. Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck
81. Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir by Lucille Clifton
80. The Devastating Boys by Elizabeth Taylor
79. Resolution by Robert B. Parker
78. Appaloosa by Robert B. Parker
77. Black Cherry Blues by James Lee Burke
76. Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving
75. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
74. Brother Jacob by George Eliot
73. The Professional by Robert B. Parker
72. The Neon Rain by James Lee Burke
71. A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt
70. The Last Embrace by Denise Hamilton
69. Britannia Mews by Margery Sharp
68. Follow Me by Joanna Scott
67. Red Stick Men by Tim Parrish
66. Heaven's Prisoners by James Lee Burke
65. The Bird Artist by Howard Norman
64. Montana 1948 by Larry Watson
63. Murder is Served Frances & Richard Lockridge
62. Tipping the Velvet Sarah Waters
61. Jenny Wren E. H. Young

61. Jenny Wren by E. H. Young This was an engaging read, about two sisters of socially "mixed" parentage, and their differing attitudes toward the reduced circumstances created by the death of their father. Jenny feels the loss of status caused by her mother's need to take in lodgers, and the shame of the rumored scandal in her mother's past. She wants her old life back, and pins her hopes for the future on an obviously unworthy young man, from whom she feels the need to hide her true identity. Although the book is named for Jenny, the story isn't exclusively hers, and I found her sister Dahlia to be a more appealing character, with her practical approach to life and happiness. Dahlia will not be brought down by "love", and is more amused than offended by the scorn of upright neighbors or relatives. Although she thinks with her head rather than her heart, one gets the feeling that someday she will be surprised by joy, unlikely as that may seem when she is plainly moving toward a marriage with the deliriously unexciting but dependable Mr. Sproat. A heart-wrenching, O. Henry-ishly ironic development near the end of this book makes me even more eager to carry on with The Curate's Wife, for clearly E. H. Young can be counted on to throw her readers, as well as her characters, a curve from time to time.

Edited: Sep 7, 2009, 12:46pm Top

</b> Just checking in on your new thread! I had no idea that Muriel Spark wrote poetry! I have The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie on my tbr because I liked the movie of it. Have a great day!

Sep 7, 2009, 12:49pm Top

starring again***

Edited: Sep 7, 2009, 2:29pm Top

Good morning Linda.
I have heard really good things about both of the above named E.H. Young books and your review seems to follow that theme as well. They are both on my TBR listing, but glad to know that you rec them as well.
Hope you are enjoying your long weekend.

Edited: Sep 7, 2009, 2:38pm Top

Nice to see you here, BJ, Eliza and Belva.

Sep 7, 2009, 8:26pm Top

had wondered when you would do this

Sep 8, 2009, 12:52pm Top

Love your review of Jenny Wren !!

Sep 8, 2009, 2:38pm Top

Thanks, Laura. I've posted it to the book page now, where it's in "rosy" company!

Sep 8, 2009, 10:38pm Top

Got you starred again, Linda!

Sep 10, 2009, 10:03pm Top

Hi Linda

I gave your review of Jenny Wren a thumbs up! You read some very interesting books this year!

Sep 11, 2009, 3:10am Top

Wow, this is the first time I've seen this: LT is absolutely top-of-the-scale positive that I will love this book (Jenny Wren, that is). I hope I can get hold of it, as from your review I think I will agree with LT's august opinion.

Thanks Linda.

*resumes lurking*

Sep 11, 2009, 7:09am Top

Nice to see some more of my lurkers popping in to say "Hi". And thanks for the thumbs!

Sep 11, 2009, 7:42am Top

Just popping by :)

Sep 11, 2009, 9:23am Top

Hi. *lurk, lurk*

Sep 11, 2009, 9:27am Top

Linda, while I may not post each time I check your thread, yours is one I often read.

Happy Friday

Sep 11, 2009, 5:25pm Top

I lurk everywhere . . .MWAAAHHHHAAAAHHHH

Sep 11, 2009, 7:36pm Top

Another lurker says hello!

Sep 11, 2009, 7:56pm Top

Glad to see you here, tymfos...you and I may be the only two league bowlers on LT!!! And I love your outhouse full of books. I've seen one other such...in South Kortright, NY, outside a marvelous used book store called The Biblio Barn. Worth a trip from anywhere, as they say.

Sep 11, 2009, 8:03pm Top

My outhouse photo is from The Book Barn, a huge used book store (more like a used book campus) in Niantic, CT -- so far, my all-time favorite used book store! I think three of the past 4 years, I've managed to work in a visit when our family was on vacation!

Sep 11, 2009, 10:06pm Top

Just another lurker....

Sep 12, 2009, 12:57am Top

So many good books, Linda! :-)

Sep 12, 2009, 8:39am Top

You keep me honest and once in a while even I take a hint and put something on my own list to read.

Edited: Sep 13, 2009, 6:11pm Top

62. Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
Nan King, nee Nancy Astley; Kitty Butler, Diana Lethaby, Zena Blake---you've never met Victorians like these before. An utterly absorbing, entertaining and enlightening, erotic romp through a segment of London society that "Mrs. Brown" probably never dreamed of. This book has been hailed as "the lesbian novel we've all been waiting for". Well, like most labels, that characterization leaves out all the best parts. Yes, it's about lesbians, but in the opinion of one reader (me) who hadn't really been waiting for any lesbian novel at all, it is what all successful novels are---a damned good story, with interesting characters inhabiting a world I don't live in. And if you can read the first 50 pages or so without craving oysters for breakfast, dinner & tea, you have no soul. I hope Sarah Waters lives a long, long time, and writes many more books.

Sep 13, 2009, 10:11pm Top

Excellent (and funny) summation, Linda. I haven't read this one yet (started another of hers and it didn't grab me) but you've piqued my interest.

Sep 14, 2009, 12:24am Top

I love Tipping the Velvet! It may be up for a reread soon. There's a pretty good British miniseries based on the book, too, which I would recommend.

Edited: Sep 27, 2009, 6:12pm Top

63. Murder is Served by Frances & Richard Lockridge Frances & Richard Lockridge are old favorites of mine. I've been reading their mysteries since I was in high school, and collecting them for many years. I recently was lucky to get a very nice copy of this book, complete with intact dust cover (the Holy Grail!), and decided it deserved a re-read. Featuring the ever engaging Mr. and Mrs. North, their excellent cats (Martini, Gin & Sherry), and their friends Lieutenant and Mrs. Weigand, this was a typical Lockridge whodunnit, with plenty of possible suspects, one significant clue dropped carelessly into the plot, and most of the detecting done at a desk, or over martinis in front of a fire. Not for the thrill seeker, despite the rather lurid covers these books sported in their paperback versions in the late '40's and early '50's. There is virtually nothing of a sensational nature in here, and not much in the way of true suspense, usually, although the authors do occasionally put their heroine in some peril. On the other hand, these are not exactly what you'd call "cosy mysteries", because that term just doesn't quite work for the sophisticated New York crowd that dresses for lunch at the Algonquin, and has a housekeeper in a one bedroom apartment. Maybe we need a new term--a "sophie"?

Sep 16, 2009, 10:59pm Top

#27: "A sophie" - I like that! I have a couple of the Lockridges books myself. I enjoy them, too.

Sep 17, 2009, 9:01pm Top

64. Montana 1948 by Larry Watson A moral struggle witnessed by a 12-year-old boy, recounted by the mature reflective man he became. The story is clean and simple, although the events it relates are neither. It has many of the same elements found in To Kill a Mockingbird...a child's summer marred by adult concerns, racial tensions and sexual crimes. But David Hayden's recollection of the summer of 1948 conveys none of the nostalgia or childhood innocence of Jean Louise Finch's reminiscence. Although David's parents and other adults constantly try to protect him from knowledge of the events unfolding in his own home and community, he sees, hears and understands far more than they realize. This was a fast read, with a compelling story line, but minimal character development. We learn only what we need to know, and only at the point in the story where we need to know it, about any given person. By the end I felt I understood David and his parents well enough, but I didn't like any of them very much, and I didn't long to know more about their lives. In fact I could have done without the epilogue, which blunted what I felt to be the true end of the story. I give it 3 1/2 stars.

Sep 17, 2009, 10:15pm Top

Montana sounds compelling. Since you only give it 3.5 stars, I'm wondering if you recommend it. To Kill A Mockingbird has remained my all-time #1 book since the day I read it. I like the way in which you weave comparisons regarding the two books, and thus I'm tempted to add it to my tbr pile.

Sep 18, 2009, 7:06am Top

Linda, I do recommend it. After sleeping on my review, I think what it comes to is that I thought the story was powerful in itself, but the way it was told wasn't quite satisfying to me. I'm still not sure why that is, but it has something to do with the fact that I didn't engage with the characters. It should have been profoundly moving, and I didn't find it so. I'd love to hear what you think, if you read it.

Sep 18, 2009, 9:39pm Top

Montana is now on my tbr pile.

Thanks for taking the time to respond to my inquiry.

Edited: Sep 22, 2009, 3:18pm Top

65. The Bird Artist by Howard Norman. A strange and wonderful book. I tore through it. Set in Newfoundland in the second decade of the 20th century (when Newfoundland was a semi-autonomous British territory, and NOT Canadian, as its inhabitants frequently make clear), it's the story of Fabian Vas, a young man with a modest talent for sketching and painting waterfowl. Through Fabian's narration, we meet many rare birds including a mail boat operator and his hard-drinking daughter; an old woman who hoards milk; a stiff-necked preacher; Fabian's own tormented parents; and the lighthousekeeper, Botho August. We know from the first page that Fabian will murder Botho. We keep reading to discover why. It's a simple story of complex emotions, told in a slightly drifting style that always seems to come back to the point just when you think you've lost the thread. It has sex, murder, adultery, deception, and betrayal, but you won't find an obvious "moral" in it anywhere. There is also plenty of symbolism, which I may revisit at leisure one of these days. I assume it did its job on me subconsciously; I was too engrossed in reading to parse it. Recommended.

Edited: Sep 22, 2009, 6:59pm Top

Wow! That is incredibly intriguing. Must hunt that one down posthaste. And check to see if Howard Norman is Canadian or not.
ETA: he's Amurcan

Edited: Sep 23, 2009, 7:44am Top

Yeah, he's not Canadian, although apparently he's written other books set "up there", and is often mistaken for a native. I think you'd enjoy this book, Tui. I picked it up because Howard Norman is going to participate in a panel on literary fiction at the upcoming Pages and Places Book Festival (Scranton's First Annual!). I'm excited about that, and thought I ought to be familiar with some of the works of the participating artists.

Sep 24, 2009, 3:22am Top

#33: That one sounds very good, Linda. Thanks for the recommendation.

Edited: Oct 7, 2010, 5:49pm Top

66. Heaven's Prisoners by James Lee Burke This was a re-read for me. I plan to work through the entire David Robicheaux series fairly quickly, as I'm interested in getting an overview of the character development. This book, while not the first in the series, is the one where Dave rescues the little girl who will become his adopted daughter, and I consider it the true foundation for the rest of the series. I am going to read Neon Rain next; kind of going at it bass-ackwards, but hey, it's the way I want to do it. I've been reading these books for a long time, and I cannot remember which one I discovered first. Maybe the re-read will answer that question for me; memory is a funny thing, as I'm sure Burke would agree.

67. Red Stick Men by Tim Parrish A collection of short fiction, which I picked up in anticipation of the author's participation in a book festival I'm attending this weekend. I've read half the stories and am totally underwhelmed. I will save the rest for after I've heard the author talk on Saturday. Maybe he'll cast some light on what I'm supposed to be getting from these. So far, all I see are unlikeable messed-up characters without a purpose in life or literature.

Oct 1, 2009, 2:31pm Top

I like your idea of re-reading Dave. And I wonder if we'll see him again. Your thoughts?

Poor Parrish, if you decide to grill him. Just two minutes on each side should be sufficient.

Oct 1, 2009, 2:33pm Top

Just a friendly reminder: it appears Message 1 needs some updating.

Oct 1, 2009, 4:06pm Top

#37 I was thinking of doing some re-reading of the Robicheaux series, too. I read them out of order as I ran across them; I'm not even sure any more which ones I read, as I missed some along the way. I think I read In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead first -- the title grabbed me, and then once I started reading, I was hooked!

Oct 1, 2009, 4:45pm Top

#38 I didn't think Swan Peak had a feeling of finality to it. I think Burke needs to figure out what he's been trying to do with Dave, and come to some resolution. I want that. And, not to put too fine a point upon it, the man (both men) ain't getting any younger. I have a copy of The Soul of Dave Robicheaux which I'm going to start reading along with the series, just as soon as my glorious city stops making me read one thing after another because of book festivals and such. They're doing a One City, One Read program, and the current selection is The Things They Carried; Tim O'Brien is coming to town at the end of the month. A girl just can't keep up!

As for Red Stick Men, I'll be curious to see just what species of animal Tim Parrish is. I don't know whether I'll have an opportunity to grill him or not--not sure what format this "panel" is going to take. He's appearing with two other authors to discuss literary fiction.

#39 If you read the edit to Message 1, you'll see I'm doing my current listings in Message 2. I'd edit No. 1 to add some boldface, or put that information at the top of the message, but that would screw up the touchstones in the existing list, and I don't have the patience. Love ya anyway.

Oct 1, 2009, 4:58pm Top

>35 laytonwoman3rd:, Thanks for mentioning the Scranton Festival! I will def be checking it out. I went to the web page and it certainly seems worth driving down from Binghamton for! What panels are you thinking of attending?

Oct 1, 2009, 5:05pm Top

I've signed up for the panel on Bookbinding as Art, and the Literary Fiction one. I'm not sure I knew (or remembered!) that you're in Binghamton. Now I'm getting excited. If you're coming, we'll have to figure out a way to connect. Another friend from Binghamton is coming down, I believe, to work at least part of the day at the book fair, manning a booth for BU's literary journal, Harpur Palate. Life being crazy as it is, you probably know her. I'll put a private message on your profile page with a little more info.

Oct 2, 2009, 1:52am Top

Just a flybyhi Linda. Trying to catch up with everyone's thread. Nice to see Charlie out and about!~! He is one special dude!
I'll catch you later. Thanx for the recx!~! I needed them like I need a hole in the head!~!
later gal,

Oct 2, 2009, 7:45am Top

#40 Didn't mean to overlook you in the excitement over a possible FTF meeting with another LT'er, tymfos! In the Electric Mist is one of Burke's best efforts, in my opinion. Re-reading it lately is what really got me determined to do the whole series again.

Edited: Oct 6, 2009, 7:24am Top

RE# 33-35. I was lucky enough to meet and talk briefly with Howard Norman over the weekend. When I mentioned that many people are surprised to learn that he is not Canadian, he said "Oh, but I AM." Good enough for me. He now holds dual citizenship, and told me he was back and forth over the border frequently as a child, with family on both sides.

RE# 37,38, 41 Met Tim Parrish too. Couldn't grill him---he's too darn likeable. Very tall, gangly guy, long neck, no chin. Older than I expected. (Well, so was Norman---I think they resist using current photos on book jackets.) He looked like he just climbed down off the combine and needed a good hot lunch. We exchanged a few words, and commiserated over the demise of New Orleans; he's been there several times since Katrina, and says it simply cannot ever be again what it once was. He also says he considers himself a victim, survivor and refugee from a Southern Baptist upbringing, and that he is currently working on a memoir addressing that---I'll probably have to read it.


68. Follow Me by Joanna Scott Ms. Scott was the live wire on the literary fiction panel I attended on Saturday. She seemed to be enjoying herself, and the interaction with audience and panel members, immensely. Unlike the two men mentioned above, she seemed much younger than I expected her to be. She's written something like nine novels. I enjoyed Follow Me, a generational family saga with twists, turns, false histories and quirky characters. Nothing too deep, just pretty fine story-telling. I'll definitely seek out more of her work.

Oct 6, 2009, 2:43am Top

How fun to meet authors. That can make a book even better when you can hear an author's voice in your head as you're reading.

Oct 8, 2009, 7:06am Top

Sounds like you had a great time, Linda!

I will look for Scott's works, too.

Oct 11, 2009, 4:17pm Top

69. Britannia Mews by Margery Sharp For sheer engrossing story-telling and hard-to-put-down-ness, this book is going to be very near the top of my list this year. I started reading it the day it arrived in my mailbox from a generous LT friend, thinking I'd use it to fill in those snatched reading intervals when I didn't have time to get lost in something deeper. It turned out to be the book I couldn't wait to get back to. The story begins and ends in Britannia Mews, which came into existence to serve as stables and living quarters for the coachmen of the tenants of the fashionable houses of Albion Place. Over the years the character of the mews changes repeatedly, reflecting changes in English society, becoming a slum, then a bohemian retreat from Victorian conventionality, then a fashionable address in its own right, and finally a brave pocket of survival during the bombing of London during World War II. Changing along with the location is Adelaide Culver Lambert, who we meet as a pampered child of Albion place giving a penny to a ragged girl she encounters during a forbidden foray into the mews. When Adelaide elopes with her drawing master at the age of 21, her life becomes inextricably entwined with that of Britannia Mews. My copy of this book came with a reprint of the original Book-of-the-Month Club description of the novel. I can say nothing more to the point than this: "Britannia Mews described quietly and competently the evolution of character and customs in England from Victoria to World War II...in all its pages there is not a single dull or turgid moment." Recommended.

Oct 12, 2009, 5:12am Top

#49: I most definitely need to find that one!

Oct 12, 2009, 12:28pm Top

Catching up on threads: I liked your comments on The Well and the Mine on your previous thread - this was one I was promised a proof of by Virago (who are publishing it in the UK), but it never turned up. Humph. Shame, because it sounds like the kind of thing I would really enjoy... maybe I'll chase it up...

Oct 12, 2009, 4:45pm Top

#69 That sounds like a great one, Flossie! THanks.

Oct 12, 2009, 5:59pm Top

49: sounds like my kind of book, thanks!

Oct 12, 2009, 6:46pm Top

Great review of Britannia Mews. Sounds like my kind of book.

Oct 12, 2009, 7:08pm Top

Mine too!

Edited: Oct 16, 2009, 8:59pm Top

70. The Last Embrace by Denise Hamilton Rubbish. The full review will come later, but I didn't think the warning should wait. Someone else might waste time and money on this book.

ETA: My review is here

Oct 13, 2009, 9:50am Top

Ok, thanks, I won't but I am off to search for Britannia Mews!

Oct 13, 2009, 10:13am Top

I heartily endorse your search, and wish you success. I predict you will really like Britannia Mews (certainty level: high).

Oct 13, 2009, 8:35pm Top

#56: OK, forewarned is forearmed, skipping that one!

Oct 19, 2009, 12:53pm Top

71. A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt Brilliant. I read this play mumblemumble years ago, for a college drama course. I've also seen the movie, halfamumble years ago. In preparation for reading Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall, which I am eagerly anticipating, I decided to revisit both. The movie is in my Netflix queue and should arrive for weekend viewing. I thought I remembered the play quite well, but I had forgotten the wit and banter, and the bitterness of Sir Thomas More's wife. I don't read many plays, because after all, they aren't meant to be experienced that way. But this one holds up to it.
Highly recommended.

Oct 19, 2009, 5:31pm Top

I think you will now enjoy reading Wolf Hall even more, because Mantel, of course, takes the opposite perspective, and you will see, among other things, why More's wife might be bitter. But that is all I will say, so that you can enjoy the book yourself!

Oct 19, 2009, 9:32pm Top

Thanks, Rebecca...now all I have to do is get my hands on a copy of the book!

Oct 26, 2009, 8:58am Top

72. The Neon Rain by James Lee Burke where, if we do things in chronological order, we first meet David Robicheaux and all his demons. In this one he's a detective lieutenant with the New Orleans Police Department, with one ex-wife in his past, 14 years on the force, a tentative grip on his alcoholism, some Vietnam flashbacks, lots of issues with authority, and a partner he should just shoot. He's also well-educated and a practicing Catholic. Having read the rest of the series to date, I know I like the man in spite of his flaws, and that Burke has a lot of depth despite the prevalence of violence in his books. If I had read this one first, though, I just don't know if it would have led me on to the others.

Oct 26, 2009, 9:21am Top

I love the 2nd sentence of that review, especially "and a partner he should just shoot". hehe

Oct 26, 2009, 1:24pm Top

#63. You're right. I read Last Car to Elysian Fields first, and then I think I went back to Neon.

And please put down whatever you're pointing at me--you're making my nerves nervous.

Tui, make a note to yourself: "Do NOT partner up with Linda."

Oct 26, 2009, 2:21pm Top

#65 Well, as neither of you are remotely like Clete Purcel, you have nothing to worry about from me. Although I can shoot, I have never pointed anything explosive at a living thing. Wish I could remember which Robicheaux I read first, but I just can't. Too long ago.

73. The Professional by Robert B. Parker Compared to one of Burke's novels, a Parker adventure is practically a cosy. The bad guys are dangerous, but rarely cruel or sadistic, and innocence is seldom their victim. The hero has a sense of humor and his girl is never in danger because of anything he does. Both authors have created detectives with a personal code, but Dave's often causes him serious trouble, while Spenser's sets the world straight. Burke is strong medicine, and Parker is the ice cream you get as a reward for taking it.

If anyone ever tries to sell you a stereotype of the English professor, point them at these two authors, and ask them which one it fits.

In The Professional, Spenser agrees to stop a blackmailer (not try to stop, you understand--not Spenser), and then finds the situation a bit more complicated than it first appeared. Regular readers know it will all come mostly right in the end. The usual banter with Hawk, sexual and intellectual interplay with Susan, and plain old think-it-through detective work. The occasional literary allusion drops into the text, and you either get it or you don't. Parker doesn't insult his readers by explicating, or embarrass them by making them wonder what he's talking about. I probably miss a handful of references in every book, because they fit so seamlessly into the characters' conversation or thoughts. He never disappoints, and always leaves me wanting another scoop.

Oct 26, 2009, 2:42pm Top

#66. Believe it or not, but I've never read a Parker novel.

I DID like the TV series, and so did Martha--Hawk was just great.

Oct 26, 2009, 5:03pm Top

I've never read a Parker novel *sigh* Where did your mother and I go wrong??

I liked Robert Urich in other things, (he was perfect as Jake Spoon in Lonesome Dove) but he was never my idea of Spenser. Now, Avery Brooks as Hawk---spot on.

Oct 26, 2009, 5:32pm Top


Oct 26, 2009, 6:15pm Top

OH yeah.

Oct 27, 2009, 7:06am Top

I don't think I've read Parker either, though I've been meaning to.

I have read Burke. I think my first was In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead. (The title caught my eye on that one.) I've been thinking of going back and reading that series in order while I fill in the ones I've missed. But I've got SOOOOOO many books I want to read . . . :)

Edited: Oct 27, 2009, 9:49am Top

#71 Well, to ease your mind about Burke, I think you've already read the best of the series. So if you don't get to the rest, you can give yourself a dispensation. The thing about Parker is, you can fly through one of his books in a morning and a half. Those of you who think you might give him a try, I recommend starting with Early Autumn; it has some substance, and you'll really know who Spenser is when you're done.

Oct 27, 2009, 1:00pm Top

#68. Where did your mother and I go wrong??

It must have been a bad strain of DNA way back up the line somewhere. I think I got the smarta** gene from you, though.

The problem, as I see it, is do I want to start yet another series? I'll take you up on Early Autumn, but if I get hooked I think it only proper that you pay for rehab.

Edited: Oct 28, 2009, 1:20pm Top

Well, Charlie, it's a harmless sort of addiction, I think. But if it happens, and IF you reach a point where you want to quit (or if Martha stages an intervention because you're talking jive like Hawk all the time), I'll see that you get help.

74. Brother Jacob by George Eliot
This is really just a longish short story, but published alone by Virago Modern Classics. Interesting character study of David Faux, a/k/a Edward Freely, whose idiot brother, Jacob, turned out to be his nemesis.

Nov 1, 2009, 9:08pm Top

75. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark "Give me a girl at an impressionable age, and she is mine for life." The unconventional Miss Brodie teaches "her girls" things not in the standard curriculum of the Marcia Blaine School, with far-reaching, unforeseen consequences. Set in Edinburgh in the 1930's. Insightful, disturbing, very well done. Brilliantly dramatized by Maggie Smith and Gordon Jackson, among others, in 1969.

Nov 2, 2009, 12:58am Top

Nov 2, 2009, 7:05am Top

LOL--Thanks, Stasia.

Nov 2, 2009, 8:00am Top

Good book and movie.

Nov 2, 2009, 8:16am Top


Nov 2, 2009, 3:44pm Top

What a great book to hit the 75 with - congrats.

Nov 2, 2009, 6:25pm Top

Congratulations on reaching your 75. You're my hero.

Nov 2, 2009, 7:13pm Top

Great, Linda - 75!!!

Edited: Nov 2, 2009, 7:30pm Top

Congratulations, Linda! Doesn't it feel good? What are you going to do next? :-)

eta: That's such a classic! I think I want to read it again. Thanks for reminding me.

Nov 2, 2009, 9:20pm Top

Next I hope to finish John Irving's Last Night in Twisted River, an ER copy I need to review. I bogged down a little in the middle of it, but now I'm ready to get back in there.

Nov 2, 2009, 10:26pm Top

Congratulations on reading that 75th book!

Nov 2, 2009, 10:26pm Top

Well done with reaching the 75 mark!

Nov 3, 2009, 7:14am Top

Thank you, all you kind people. There was great sacrifice involved...I forced myself to read many a time when what I really wanted to do was scrub the bathroom.

Nov 3, 2009, 7:27am Top


Nov 3, 2009, 7:40am Top

LOL! Actually, today's my day off work (away from the house, anyway) and I plan to do both! Read and scrub the bathroom, that is. (But not at the same time. . . hmm, I wonder if there's a way to multi-task that?) :)

Nov 3, 2009, 8:19am Top

it's always "the kid" who puts in the dampening remark, isn't it!

Nov 3, 2009, 9:12am Top

Ok after Post #87 are you going to drop by here and scrub the coffee spray off my monitor?

Nov 3, 2009, 10:03am Top

#90 Yeah, and she should talk. You saw her FB post about the state of her apartment recently, didn't you?

#91 That's EASY. Take the sleeve of your bathrobe...

Nov 3, 2009, 10:31am Top

There is absolutely a way to read and scrub the bathroom. Ya just...........do! I spend a lot of time reading AND doing things, as you all know. Cloth in one hand, book in the other, glance up every so often ;)

Nov 3, 2009, 10:36am Top

Dear Luna,

Please come to my house, and show me how to scrub the bathroom
while reading. Take as long as you like to finish. I will make tea.



Nov 3, 2009, 10:38am Top

lunacat, you must be one very coordinated reader. Either that, or your books must be very messy!

I don't dare let these InterLibrary Loans anywhere near my bathroom when I'm cleaning, or they will likely be eaten by Scrubbing Bubbles or something . . .

Edited: Nov 3, 2009, 10:50am Top


I'm afraid my services come with a price tag of unlimited books ;)


Not so much coordinated! I'm afraid I'm one of those multi tasking people that does several things badly at the same time. Cleaning is one of those things. I am currently trying to work out a method of mucking out horses and reading at the same time. So far no luck but I'll get there.

I can also clean tack, bring in and walk out AND ride whilst reading, although the latter has a tendency to induce a small amount of motion sickness. Not advisable when hungover, and only to be done when you are only walking the horse as gentle exercise as preliminary fitness work, and once you trust the horse isn't going to do anything stupid.

My books aren't in bad condition. I mean, I don't keep them pristine and they look read but they aren't bad unless I've read them a lot of times.

Nov 3, 2009, 2:28pm Top

>87 laytonwoman3rd: - 94: Still laughing! I was so thinking of you right from the start, Lunacat. In your teen years, when all was possible, did you ever imagine that this is what you would be famous for? If these stories keep coming, maybe you should write a book?

Nov 3, 2009, 4:29pm Top

Luna, you sound like a prime candidate for audiobooks: little earbud things, hands free, away you go. Although with some horses it's always good to hear that back hoof lifting up for a kick...

Edited: Jan 7, 2010, 12:30pm Top

76. Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving. This will take some processing. I almost feel I should read it again before trying to say anything about it, but it's an ER book, so review it I must. If you like John Irving, this won't disappoint you. It's full of his trademark bears, freak accidents, and general craziness. The man has almost too much imagination, and I think this book could have benefited from a smaller cast of minor characters. Will try to compose something more comprehensive, and hopefully coherent, in the next few days.
Edited to add Link to my review

Nov 15, 2009, 11:47am Top

98-luckily most people don't have horses in their bathrooms to watch out for, so audiobooks can go with cleaning! Well, if you keep your ipod in a baggie to keep it safe from scrubbing bubbles, that is...

Nov 17, 2009, 1:55pm Top

77. Black Cherry Blues by James Lee Burke

A re-read. Plot-wise, this isn't one of Burke's best. But it's very revelatory of the man, Dave Robicheaux, as he struggles to recover from the violent death of his wife, protect his adopted daughter, and keep himself alive, sober and out of the state pen at Angola. Most of the action takes place, not in Louisiana, but in Montana, where Dave is searching for evidence to prove his own innocence and a government witness's guilt in a murder for which he has been charged. A lot of poetry in the prose.

Nov 18, 2009, 10:01am Top

" A lot of poetry in the prose." A very apt comment on the writing of James Lee Burke. That phrase is worth a thumbs up.

Nov 19, 2009, 10:23am Top

#102 " A lot of poetry in the prose." A very apt comment on the writing of James Lee Burke. That phrase is worth a thumbs up.

I'll second that!

Edited: Nov 20, 2009, 1:54pm Top

78. Appaloosa by Robert B. Parker "If Spenser and Hawk had been around when the West was wild, they'd have talked like Cole and Hitch." (Kirkus Reviews) They would. I love spending time in Bob Parker's worlds---all of them. This book is a gem of male marvelousness, complete with a hero "riding off into the sunset". But I've got the next one in the series, and I know it doesn't end there. 'Scuse me while I go see just what the hell Hitch thinks he's going to do now. (And if you haven't seen the movie yet, you should. Ed Harris and Viggo Mortenson are the best buddies since Newman and Redford.)

Nov 20, 2009, 2:11pm Top

#104: You got me twice on that one - I put the book in the BlackHole and added the movie to my Netflix queue for my husband. Thanks for the recommendation, Linda.

Nov 21, 2009, 4:49pm Top

Used to be a fan of James Lee Burke, but then the wives and girlfriends started to die. Thought: jeez, kill of someone else, can't you? Are they surviving any better lately?

Nov 22, 2009, 12:20pm Top

#106 Well, Bootsie (wife No. 3) was around for quite a while, and she did not die a violent death; he has kept wife No. 4 alive through a couple books now. We'll see, Pam. Part of the reason I'm re-reading the series is to see if I can discern some literary reason for the high turn-over rate of Dave's women.

Edited: Nov 22, 2009, 6:40pm Top

79. Resolution by Robert B. Parker I couldn't leave Hitch all alone out there, headed for who-knows-where after saying good-bye to his buddy Virgil in Appaloosa, so I rode right on ahead to the town of Resolution with him. Another fine mythic tale of the Hero bringing down the Wicked and Powerful (and saving more than one Damsel in the process.) Love it. One small quibble (and this may be the first one I've ever had with Parker)---was "fucking" really used as an adjective, like, three times in a single sentence, as a general thing in the 19th century? Even by worthless skunks in uncivilized outposts? I wonder. Only one character was especially guilty of this. And Parker isn't above playing with us. Could be he was just pointing out how stupidity and lack of originality know no bounds, cultural or temporal.

Nov 22, 2009, 5:09pm Top

#107. For the life of me, Linda, I can't remember which book Bootsie died in. Can you tell me?

Edited: Nov 22, 2009, 6:40pm Top

She didn't die in a book. She died between books. She was alive in No. 12 Jolie Blon's Bounce, and "deceased" without explanation in No. 13 Last Car to Elysian Fields. Pissed me off a little.

Nov 22, 2009, 8:49pm Top

#110. That explains it. "Last Car" was the 1st Dave I read, and then I started from the beginning and read chrono.

And BTW, I've now read 2 of the 3 Spenser novels in the omnibus I bought. You're right--Robert Ulrich wasn't Spenser, but Avery Brook(e)s was definitely Hawk.

I had to take a break after 2 in a row because I was on smart-ass overload. I'll do the third one shortly.

Nov 22, 2009, 9:10pm Top

YOU can go into smart-ass overload?? Say it isn't so!

Nov 23, 2009, 1:07am Top

Belated "HAPPY 75th (book that is, not age)", Linda.

Lots of great reads here to activate my bibliophilia.

(I am so behind on my thread reads that each catch up is like reading a short story each time - but well worth it!!)

Nov 23, 2009, 8:10am Top

Thanks, Karen. Good to see you here. I'm way behind on book threads too. I wish there was a way to mark your place in a given thread. I go to one with 50 unread messages, and only get through a half dozen of them, and then I forget to go back and finish because now my view shows I've read them all.

Nov 23, 2009, 8:36pm Top

Congrats on 75, now 79 books. I'm struggling to make 50. Even though I left the 50 book challenge I am still counting.
I think moving to Club Read was a mistake, not enough traffic.
#109 & 111 Good to see your scrawl Mr. BrainFlakes.

Nov 23, 2009, 9:21pm Top

I'm reading you regularly, Bill. I don't comment often, but I've made note of several titles from your thread. Don't quit on us; wherever you decide to post is ok.

Nov 23, 2009, 9:22pm Top

#115. Same here, Bill. I think mostly what keeps me away are comments like #112's. Aspersion on my character and all that.

Nov 23, 2009, 10:09pm Top


You can bookmark a certain place within the thread. Hover over the words "flag abuse" on the last post you read and note the number that appears on the bottom left of your screen (should be directly above your start icon on your toolbar). Then go up to your address bar and add a pound and that number you noted. Then hit enter so your browser takes you to that post on that thread and then bookmark the url.

Example: Message 117 on this thread as an id number of 1617369. (Hover over "flag abuse" on that message to see it.) The url for this thread is http://www.librarything.com/topic/72638. If I add "#1617369" to the end of that url, the resulting url will take me directly to that message on the page. If I were to bookmark that url (with the "#1617369" in it), the bookmark would take me directly to that message within the thread as well.

Nov 23, 2009, 11:24pm Top

Wow, learn something new everyday. Nice explanation lycomayflower.

Nov 24, 2009, 7:02am Top

#117 Aspersions on your what, now?
#118 Smartypants. (Thanks. Again.)

Nov 24, 2009, 8:15am Top

What we learn from our kids! That's why I keep my computer geek around, though if anyone has a job for a guy with three masters in chemistry, he'd be happy (he's got a seasonal job at Toys R Us) (sorry about using your thread for a plug, Linda!

Nov 24, 2009, 2:05pm Top

I've just totted it up, and discover that so far I have read exactly the same number of books by male authors (38) and by female authors (38) this year. And I didn't try to do that. Curious. (The other three are joint efforts or compilations, so they don't alter the balance.)

Nov 24, 2009, 3:17pm Top

>118 lycomayflower:: I'm hovering but nothing happens. Are there different instructions for a Mac?

Nov 24, 2009, 3:21pm Top

Bonnie, are you looking at the very bottom of your screen (off the LT page)?

Nov 24, 2009, 3:22pm Top

>123 bonniebooks: If you right-click and choose "properties" or something like that, you will get a window that tells you something like "javascript:talk_flagmessage(1618524)" That will give you the message number.

Also, a recently added (a few months ago) feature by LT, right click on the bold Message header (e.g., above here where it says Message 124) in front on the name on the pink bar. There, you can "copy link location" or however your browser terms it to directly get a copy of the address.

Nov 29, 2009, 10:09pm Top

80. The Devastating Boys by Elizabeth Taylor Excellent collection of short fiction by the author of Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont and At Mrs. Lippincote's. These stories are as vivid as paintings. I loved them all.

Nov 30, 2009, 1:46am Top

#126: I have not yet managed to read anything by Elizabeth Taylor. Looks like I better got on the stick!

Dec 1, 2009, 2:05pm Top

81. Good Woman:Poems and a Memoir by Lucille Clifton Some of these poems are smack-you-between-the-eyes powerful. Mighty content in a few words. But the brief memoir with which the book concludes was even more moving, for me. It feels like oral history transcribed...poignant, evocative, affirmative, sometimes sad but always triumphant.

Dec 2, 2009, 12:45am Top

#128: I am not much of a poetry reader, but I will give that one a try if only for the memoir portion of the book. Thanks for the recommendation, Linda.

Dec 7, 2009, 12:14pm Top

Must hunt for #80 and #81 reads. I went away from poetry for a few years but am, happily, coming back to it and loving the return.

Dec 8, 2009, 12:00pm Top

Well, take it easy with the Clifton, Tui...you don't need another smack in the face!

Dec 8, 2009, 8:28pm Top

I finally started reading some poetry several years ago. I had to get used to the differences in the way language is used in poetry. It reminds me of the different nuances created by the the use of ideographs in the Chinese language. Now that I have read some good poetry I understand why it is considered a finer art form than prose.

"smack-you-between-the-eyes" I love it. I may start a collection of Linda review quotes.

Dec 15, 2009, 8:32pm Top

Becoming Faulkner: The Art and Life of William Faulkner by Philip Weinstein

It's nice to see that you're reading someone different for a change.

Dec 15, 2009, 10:54pm Top

Haqppy, Happy 59th Birthday to you. May the next 59 be filled with love, laughter and joy!

Dec 16, 2009, 1:35am Top

Happy birthday, Linda!

Dec 16, 2009, 8:19am Top

#134 *Pssst....58. 58* Thank you.
#135 Thank you.

Edited: Dec 16, 2009, 11:46am Top

Happy 58th Birthday! And next year you can be plenty-nine. :)

Dec 16, 2009, 12:19pm Top

Why don't you be like Merlin and start counting backwards now?

Dec 16, 2009, 6:47pm Top

Well, happy whatever birthday! :)

(And many more!)

Edited: Dec 16, 2009, 9:15pm Top

#138...or, as Mark Twain suggested, "Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of 80 and gradually approach 18." And then F. Scott Fitzgerald fooled around with it, and Brad Pitt got mixed up in it somehow, and it just got curiouser and curiouser...

Dec 17, 2009, 10:12am Top

Happy Birthday! Take heart, you are younger than I am and I am sure you will continue to write excellent reviews.

Dec 17, 2009, 10:33am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Dec 17, 2009, 2:17pm Top

oopss. sorry for the error. Happy 58 my friend!

Edited: Dec 22, 2009, 8:28am Top

#133 Somehow I missed that post when it originally appeared. You don't think I'm in a rut, do you? Laura's fiance gave me another Faulkner-related book when we exchanged gifts yesterday. It's called William Faulkner and the Tangible Past; The Architecture of Yoknapatawpha. Both pictures and text--quite interesting. And now for another item that may be of interest to you:

82. Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck I've been dipping into this excellent extended travel essay off and on for several months. Today I reached the end of the trip. I enjoyed it quite a lot. I loved his tale of taking Charley into the forest of giant sequoias, and waiting to see the dog's reaction to such magnificent trees. He expected the dog to think "Ah...it's heaven!" Well, Charley couldn't see the treetops and wouldn't look up, so he didn't recognize them as trees at all, and wandered off to find a shrub against which to lift his leg. It made me remember all the joys of discovering Steinbeck back in my teenage years, on the upstairs porch of our house, where I read him among the branches of what I thought then were huge pine trees. (Well, they were taller than the house...come on.)

Dec 21, 2009, 5:22pm Top

#144: Travels with Charley was the first Steinbeck I ever read :)

Dec 21, 2009, 10:04pm Top

I love this book because Charley is a standard poodle and you know how I feel about them. ;)

Dec 22, 2009, 1:54pm Top

#144. "You don't think I'm in a rut, do you?"

It depends whether the rut is ignoring me or your Faulkner rut. I think I'll choose the latter.

I wonder if someone will ever do a graphic (comic book) of a Faulkner novel. Nah. The dialog balloons would be HUGE.

As for Charley, poor thing, he couldn't see the tree for the forest. But a bush works—Irish uses Martha's all the time, and it pisses her off.

Steinbeck is one of my favorites. He is one author I re-read: East of Eden and Cannery Row not long ago.

And hello to Stasia and Tui.

Dec 22, 2009, 4:41pm Top

#147: Hello right back at you, CharlieBrain!

Dec 22, 2009, 9:01pm Top

Travels with Charley was really good, glad you enjoyed it.

Dec 23, 2009, 3:06pm Top

83. Shaggy Muses by Maureen Adams This book is subtitled "The Dogs Who Inspired Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Edith Wharton, and Emily Bronte". *whew* It's another that I've been reading in bits since I picked it up last May at the gift shop at Edith Wharton's estate, The Mount, in Massachusetts. I found it quite interesting, although the subtitle is a bit misleading. The dogs in question were not so much inspiration to, as emotional support for, the women who cherished them, helping the women to compensate for lack of love and attention, or the wrong kind of attention, from mothers, siblings, lovers and spouses. Each section is a mini-biography of one author, with the focus on how her dog(s) featured in her life. Although written by a psychologist, the main text is blessedly free of psycho-babble, while the afterword does go into some analysis of concepts such as limbic resonance, attachment figures and (god-help-us) psychopomps.

Dec 23, 2009, 8:11pm Top

That sounds like a rather interesting book!

Dec 23, 2009, 8:40pm Top

Wharton really loved her dogs, didn't she.

Dec 23, 2009, 9:11pm Top

Psychopomps. You've been talking to your future son-in-law, haven't you.

Edited: Dec 23, 2009, 9:21pm Top

#152 She did...and when the last one died, she was "quite utterly alone and lonely", and died herself four months later

#153 I have, of course. But that word was in the book, I swear.

Dec 23, 2009, 11:53pm Top

(god-help-us) psychopomps....you mean guide help us, psychopomps? Well bless my soul!

Dec 24, 2009, 1:58pm Top

#155. I believe Linda, of course, but that is one stupid word.

Although, once I think about it, I've had some bad cases of psychopoops.

Dec 24, 2009, 3:01pm Top

#155 You are too good. You know, the Greeks had a word for everything.

Edited: Dec 24, 2009, 3:29pm Top

I am sure that Travels with Charley is a wonderful book. I read Tortilla Flat this year and loved it. Thanks for the reminder Linda. I have four volumes of Steinbeck. So many books, so little time.
Hello BrainFlakes, always with the jokes.

Dec 24, 2009, 6:59pm Top

Merry, Merry Christmas! I send all good wishes for a bright, shining holiday! I look forward to learning about your reads in 2010!

Dec 26, 2009, 8:46pm Top

I got a new Steinbeck Winter of Our Discontent and a copy of the entire Snopes trilogy for Christmas. Guess I have no excuse to not read them this time - though I think it will be East of Eden first - last year's present.

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and found a dress.

Dec 26, 2009, 11:12pm Top

#160 Today was the day! We bought the first one she tried on (after trying on several others, just in case.)

Dec 27, 2009, 8:40am Top

sometimes one just has something in mind and when you find it, that's all you need to try - I did that with my bridesmaids' dresses - congrats on getting one big hurdle over!

Dec 30, 2009, 4:24pm Top

84. Used and Rare by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone A light and entertaining read about a young married couple venturing into the world of book collecting, in New England, New York and Chicago. Fun, and sometimes very funny.

Dec 31, 2009, 1:39am Top

#163: If you like books of that sort, Linda, may I recommend Old Books, Rare Friends by Madeleine Stern and Leona Rostenberg if you have not already read it?

Dec 31, 2009, 10:22am Top

I loved that book, Stasia. Actually, it was the two of THEM whom I loved - and wished I could have known.

Dec 31, 2009, 10:42am Top

#164 Read that one a while ago, Stasia. It was very good.

Dec 31, 2009, 10:47am Top

>163 laytonwoman3rd:, 164 & 165: Now I've added both books to the Wishlist!

Dec 31, 2009, 10:47am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Edited: Dec 31, 2009, 11:03am Top

I must retire this thread, and my year's reading, at 84. I am more than half way through Wolf Hall, but today will offer me virtually no reading time, so it will have to top the list for 2010, which will be recorded here.

Happy New Year, everyone!!

Dec 31, 2009, 1:44pm Top

As it is not yet 2010, I will leave my New Year wish for you here:
Peace, love and good will all coming your way from me Linda. I wish you all the best in 2010.
big new year hug,
P.S. if you happen to see that old Charlie lurking about wish him a happy new for me too please.

Jan 1, 2010, 2:45am Top

Happy New Year, Linda!

Jan 1, 2010, 3:01am Top

Happy New Year to you. I look forward to following your thread in 2010!

Jan 1, 2010, 8:42am Top

Happy New Year Linda.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2009

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