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Ivy's 11 in 11

The 11 in 11 Category Challenge

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Edited: Oct 4, 2011, 1:45pm Top

Ivy's History and Mystery Challenge for 1011

Continued in Part 2 (October-December): http://www.librarything.com/topic/124637

1. History in the Making
2. British History -- 7 completed August
3. British Mystery -- 7 completed May
4. World History -- 7 completed September

5. World Mystery
6. U.S. History
7. Southern U.S. Mystery
8. Eastern U.S. Mystery
9. Other Mystery
10. History That Never Was -- 7 completed June, 11 completed August
11. Children of Yesteryear

2011 75 Book Challenge: http://www.librarything.com/topic/105572
2011 75 Book Challenge, Part 2: http://www.librarything.com/topic/118948

Edited: Sep 22, 2011, 1:23pm Top

Group Reads

Thucydides -- read February-September
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand -- read in January
The Master and Margarita (just to follow the discussion; read in 2009)

Naked Heat

Beloved by Toni Morrison -- read in September

Edited: Oct 4, 2011, 1:40pm Top

1. History in the Making
Contemporary fiction, non-fiction, children's & YA

1. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson (January, 4*)
2. The Distant Hours by Kate Morton (February, 3 1/2*)
3. Tideland by Mitch Cullin (February, 3*)
4. A Safe Place for Women by Kelly White (May, 4*)
~~ The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger (August, 3*)

Edited: Oct 4, 2011, 1:43pm Top

2. British History

1. Pamela by Samuel Richardson (March, 3*)
~~ Shamela by Henry Fielding (March, 3*)
~~ "Samuel Richardson" (pp 765-781 of Eighteenth-Century English Literature) (March)
~~ "Henry Fielding" (pp 726-728, 756-760 of Eighteenth-Century English Literature) (March)
~~ Fantomina by Mrs. Eliza Haywood (March, 4*)
2. Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding (March, 3 1/2*)
3. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (April, 4 1/2*)
4. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson (July, 5*)
5. King Lear by William Shakespeare (August, 5*)
6. King Arthur and His Knights by Sir James Knowles (August)
7. Exploring King Arthur's Britain by Denise Stobie (August)

Edited: Oct 4, 2011, 1:51pm Top

3. British Mystery

1. The Fleet Street Murders by Charles Finch (Charles Lenox #3) (January, 3 1/2*)
2. Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear (January, 3 1/2*)
3. Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear (Maisie Dobbs #2) (February, 4*)
4. Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear (Maisie Dobbs #3) (March, 4*)
5. Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear (Maisie Dobbs #4) (March, 4*)
6. An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear (Maisie Dobbs #5) (April, 4*)
7. Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear (Maisie Dobbs #6) (May, 4*)

8. The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear (Maisie Dobbs #7) (May, 4*)
9. The Reluctant Detective by Martha Ockley (Faith Morgan #1) (May, 3*)
10. A Stranger in Mayfair by Charles Finch (Charles Lenox #4) (August, 4*)

Edited: Oct 4, 2011, 1:52pm Top

4. World History
7 COMPLETED: September

1. The Book of Love by Kathleen McGowan (January, 3*)
2. At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson (March, 4*)
3. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell (April, 4 1/2*)
4. The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway (June, 3 1/2*)
5. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (July, 5*)
6. The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer (July, 5*)
7. The Landmark Thucydides (February-September)

8. Maus: A Survivor's Tale (I: My Father Bleeds History) by Art Spiegelman
(September, 5*)

Edited: Oct 4, 2011, 1:52pm Top

5. World Mystery

1. A Murderous Procession by Ariana Franklin
(Mistress of the Art of Death #4) (May, 4*)
2. The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig (July, 3*)
3. The Fatal Touch by Conor Fitzgerald (Alec Blume #2) (August, 3*)
4. Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters (Amelia Peabody #1) (September, 3 1/2*)
5. The Curse of the Pharoahs by Elizabeth Peters (Amelia Peabody #2) (September, 3 1/2*)

Edited: Nov 7, 2011, 11:39am Top

6. U.S. History

1. The White Cascade by Gary Krist (February, 4*)
2. Shade of the Raintree by Larry Lockridge (April, 3 1/2*)
3. Skeleton Key to the Suicide of My Father, Ross Lockridge, Jr., Author of Raintree County by Ernest Lockridge (April, 2*)
4. Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand (September, 5*)
5. Beloved by Toni Morrison (September, 4*)
6. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (September, 5*)

Edited: Oct 4, 2011, 1:55pm Top

7. Southern U.S. Mystery

1. Smash Cut by Sandra Brown (July, 3 1/2*)
2. Chill Factor by Sandra Brown (September, 4*)

Edited: Aug 22, 2011, 2:17pm Top

8. Eastern U.S. Mystery

1. The Corpse Wore Tartan by Kaitlyn Dunnett (Liss MacCrimmon #4) (January, 3 1/2*)
2. A Marked Man by Barbara Hamilton (Abigail Adams #2) (February, 4*)
3. Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb (Eve Dallas #31) (April, 3 1/2*)
4. State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy (White House Chef #1) (June, 3 1/2*)
5. Hail to the Chef by Julie Hyzy (White House Chef #2) (June, 3 1/2*)
6. Murder Most Persuasive by Tracy Kiely (Elizabeth Parker #3) (August, 3*)

Edited: Oct 4, 2011, 1:55pm Top

9. Other Mystery
Other U.S. locations, Canada, and overflow from other mystery categories
changed from Other U.S. Mystery on 2-28-11

1. No Safe Haven by Kimberley & Karen R. Woodhouse (Alaska) (March, 3 1/2*)
2. Guilt by Association by Marcia Clark (California) (April, 2 1/2*)
3. Heartsick by Chelsea Cain (Gretchen Lowell #1) (Oregon) (June, 3 1/2*)
4. A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny (Inspector Gamache #7) (Canada) (September, 4 1/2*)

Edited: Sep 1, 2011, 1:44am Top

10. History That Never Was
Fantasy and sci fi
11 COMPLETED: August

1. World War Z by Max Brooks (January, 4*)
2. The Passage by Justin Cronin (January, 5*)
3. The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan (Heroes of Olympus #1) (February, 4 1/2*)
4. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (May, 3 1/2*)
5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (May, 5*)
6. The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan (Kane Chronicles #1) (June, 3*)
7. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (June, 5*)

8. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (June, 4 1/2*)
9. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (July, 4*)
~~ "Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelley (August)
10. The White Mountains by John Christopher (Tripods Trilogy #1) (August, 4*)
11. The City of Gold and Lead by John Christopher (Tripods Trilogy #2) (August, 4*)

Edited: Oct 4, 2011, 1:56pm Top

11. Children of Yesteryear
Historical and/or old children's books

1. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell (Newbery Medal 1961) (March, 4*)
2. Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis (Newbery Medal 2000) (April, 3 1/2*)
3. The Tavern of Folly by Mary Dickerson Donahey (May)
4. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (Newbery Medal 1990) (July, 5*)
5. Whirligig House by Anna Rose Wright (July, 4*)
6. The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes (Newbery Honor Book 1945) (September, 4*)

Aug 26, 2010, 2:28pm Top


Aug 26, 2010, 3:29pm Top

So, after dithering for a couple of weeks (I've also been busy), trying to come up with some clever categories and failing to do so, I remembered a discussion a while back about having a History and Mystery challenge. Since that covers about 95% of what I read, and I was tired of the categories that have basically been the same for the past 3 years and haven't had enough room for all the mysteries, I decided to succumb to what I really want to read and do it this way.

Edited: Aug 26, 2010, 3:39pm Top

Very clever, Ivy.

If you ever come to Chicagoland, you must visit the Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore, which sells, you guessed it, history and mystery books.

If I sat down and analyzed it and construed history broadly, history and mystery are the categories that I read mostly, too. Maybe not 95 percent though.

I look forward to seeing what you do with these. I have a foreign mysteries category and also a historical fiction (i.e., historical mysteries) category for next year.

UPDATE: Never mind. History in the making would probably cover my other remaining books.

Aug 26, 2010, 3:42pm Top

It looks like a fun year.

Aug 26, 2010, 5:04pm Top

I think you've hit on the secret of this challenge - mostly read what you like and stretch yourself in a category or twos Since I too mostly read mysteries and histories, I am looking forward to seeing what you choose to read.

Aug 26, 2010, 6:03pm Top

I will be keeping tabs on what you read too. Will the history be fiction, non-fiction or a mingle?

Aug 26, 2010, 6:07pm Top

I like the way that you set up your challenge, I was really tempted to do 100% mysteries myself, just to see if even I would get tired of them. I usually find myself tyring to fit a mystery into just about every category anyway.

Aug 26, 2010, 6:29pm Top

Will most definitely be keeping an eye on your challenge for 2011. The idea is to enjoy what you read so this set-up is a good idea.

Aug 26, 2010, 7:10pm Top

Most of my reading tends to be mystery or history, too, so I'll be keeping an eye on your thread.

Aug 26, 2010, 7:48pm Top

History and mystery are my favorite subjects, although I will admit to a weakness for cookbooks and food writing as well.

Aug 27, 2010, 12:03am Top

With all those mystery categories, I have starred your thread so I can watch what you read. I am another avid mystery reader.

Aug 27, 2010, 11:47am Top

I love the history/mystery idea! I really enjoy both of those genres as well, and I'm very interested to see how you fill these categories!

Aug 27, 2010, 1:24pm Top

Wow! I'm really glad to see that all of you like this idea! I'm excited about it, too! I'm catching up on everyone's threads after having had a house guest for 1 1/2 weeks, and will be filling in some books soon... I think, though, that all of you will see the results of your recommendations in the list..

>16 lindapanzo: That sounds like my kind of bookstore!

With a goal of 121 books, I have to make every book count in the challenge, so I added the "History in the Making" for contemporary books (of all kinds). When I looked at what I have put in my "Contemporary Fiction" categories the past couple of years, most of them are also history or mystery (or both), but not all, and there have been a couple of non-fiction as well. I'm thinking that this may be the hardest category to fill..

>19 NeverStopTrying: I read mostly fiction, but have found that it's best to fit my few non-fictions into other categories, so it will be a mix, although I don't anticipate that the mystery categories will include non-fiction. Possible I guess, but I don't have any in mind.

>20 jonesli: I don't think I could do 100% mysteries, although I"m not positive about it! I usually find that after 2 or 3 or 4 mysteries, I'm ready to read something else.

>23 thornton37814: I read a lot of cookbooks, too, but never cover to cover. I just found a new one that I want -- The Victory Garden Cookbook, lots of wonderful recipes using fresh vegetables -- but at $40, I didn't buy it, just made sure that my husband knows I want it for Christmas.

Aug 27, 2010, 4:09pm Top

I've made a start at listing books, and I'm more excited about it than ever! My wishlists are scattered among computer files, sticky tabs, scraps of paper, B&N wishlist and my mind, so I still have more to add. But every book I've listed so far is one that I really want to read.

Aug 27, 2010, 4:16pm Top

Ivy, my Rue Morgue Press catalog arrived yesterday and I was astounded to see mysteries set in places like Laos, North Korea, and others. It really is becoming world mysteries, not just British and Western Europe.

Edited: Aug 27, 2010, 4:39pm Top

I was amazed at the variety of countries in the display at Powell's -- wanted to try all of them! One of the "field trips" for our guest was to go to the downtown Powell's ("The Biggest Used Bookstore in the World"). I think's it's been almost a year since I've been there -- that and a wine-tasting tour were my favorite outings.

Aug 27, 2010, 6:56pm Top

the Italian series that is being talked about -- what is it?

Possibly Donna Leon's Commissario Guido Brunetti series which starts with Death at la Fenice or Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano which kicks off with The Shape of Water.

Aug 27, 2010, 7:02pm Top

There is also the art history series by Iain Pears but I'm betting it's the Donna Leon series Ivy's thinking of.

I read the first one, Death at La Fenice and really liked it.

Aug 27, 2010, 7:05pm Top

>30 AHS-Wolfy: & 31 Thanks! It is Death at la Fenice that I was trying to remember, but I'm going to add the other 2 to the list as well, so I don't lose them...

Sep 3, 2010, 12:47pm Top

A Free Man of Color could be in Southern mystery, as it's set in New Orleans. About the Trail of Tears, I have Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation on my TBR list, but I haven't actually seen it, so I don't know if it's good. It just came recommended to me.

These are some mystery series to consider:
Nero Wolfe by Rex Stout - NY
Abby Rose by Leann Sweeney - TX
Sir John Fielding by Bruce Alexander- England, historical
Meg Langslowe by Donna Andrews- VA
Benni Harper by Earlene Fowler - CA

Sep 3, 2010, 1:44pm Top

Thanks, Cindy! Trail of Tears sounds like just what I was looking for. And I'm adding the others to my ever-growing lists, except for Nero Wolfe. In the distant past, I read a lot of them (and Ellery Queen and John Dickson Carr/Carter Dickson) -- probably not all, but for whatever reason, that sub-genre doesn't particularly appeal to me at the moment.

I did know that A Free Man of Color was set in New Orleans (and in the 19th century, I think?), but my Southern mysteries category is more than full, since I have most of the Laura Childs and Carolyn Hart series still to read. I thought Louisiana was at least borderline "other US" but I may yet switch it into "Southern." I'm really looking forward to it after your glowing review.

Dec 22, 2010, 11:54am Top

Now that I'm really starting to think about my 2011 reading, I'm getting a lot of great ideas here, Ivy.

I haven't read a Martha Grimes in many, many years but am thinking about reading the next one (the 9th or so) next year.

Dec 22, 2010, 12:26pm Top

>135 I haven't read Grimes in a long time either. I'm not really sure why I stopped reading them.

Dec 26, 2010, 4:17pm Top

Glad you're getting ideas from this, Linda, but quite a few on this list have come from you! And most of them have come from LT...

I apparently haven't read any Martha Grimes since joining LT in 2007. I don't know why either, because I always really enjoyed them.

Looking over my lists, I just don't know where to start! I already have a good many of them, and want to read about 10 immediately. Some are quite long, too...

Dec 26, 2010, 5:00pm Top

It's been ages since I've read Martha Grimes, too. I haven't read them all and didn't read them in any particular order. Now I can't remember which ones I've read and which ones I haven't.

Dec 26, 2010, 6:24pm Top

>38 cbl_tn: Same with me. It's a series that doesn't seem to matter very much if they're read out of order -- not a whole lot happens, it's the same characters.

I forget mysteries so quickly after I've read them that it's a real problem for me to figure out which ones I've read. Just looked at the LT list. They show 22 Richard Jury books, and the last title that sounds familiar to me is #18 The Grave Maurice. Some of the earlier ones do and some don't. I've probably missed some and probably just don't remember the titles of some I've read. Maybe I'll try to get ahold of one of the most recent 4.

Jan 9, 2011, 3:13pm Top

I'm off to a slow start this year, but I've finally finished one book.

1. The Book of Love by Kathleen McGowan, 3*
Category: World History

I didn't like this book very much, but I did find the story of Matilda of Tuscany (aka Matilda of Canossa) fascinating. I could probably go on at some length about what I didn't like, but I think I'll just say that 1) although I'm interested in early Christianity and church development, I don't like the author's beliefs supported by invented documents; 2) the present day portions about Maureen were primarily an account of the author's spiritual beliefs, with a couple of silly "dramatic" incidents, and lacked the elements of a good story; and 3) the writing level was barely adequate, liberally sprinkled with cliches and 21st century popular phrases interspersed with portions which read more like non-fiction and conversations that were poorly disguised lectures.

On the other hand, Matilda of Tuscany was a fascinating 11th century woman -- strong, independent and powerful. As nearly as I can tell from a bit of limited internet research, the author pretty much stuck to the known facts about her, though she overlaid her invented religion over those facts. She credits a non-fiction book, Tuscan Countess by Michele K. Spike, for much of the information. I think I might like to read that book.

Jan 10, 2011, 3:55pm Top

2. The Corpse Wore Tartan by Kaitlyn Dunnett (Liss MacCrimmon #4), 3 1/2*
Category: Eastern U.S. Mystery

A delightful cozy mystery set in Moosetookalook, Maine.

Liss MacCrimmon has returned to her hometown to run a Scottish Emporium and is the co-ordinator of the annual Burns Night Supper, held this year at the nearby Spruces resort hotel. As the event gets underway, a winter storm moves in, cutting all communications to and from the hotel, and -- how did you guess? -- a corpse is discovered.

The characterization is excellent, and the mystery is good, with clues and red herrings and a twist or two. Moosetookalook and its inhabitants are charming: a fictional little town that I want to know more about. This book is the 4th in the series, and although it doesn't appear to have spoilers of the earlier books, there are references that make me want to know more about the recurring characters. I definitely plan to backtrack to the beginning of this series.

Jan 10, 2011, 4:32pm Top

Just catching up on your thread. Good to see someone else prepared to tackla 2666 this year! I enjoyed The savage detectives a lot last year, but the mere bulk of this one is a little intimidating...

Jan 10, 2011, 4:46pm Top

>42 GingerbreadMan: 2666 is indeed intimidating! I've actually had it on my list for over a year and haven't yet had the courage to start. I'm determined, though, to read a bunch of fat books this year, even if it means that I won't complete a full 11 in 11 challenge.

Jan 16, 2011, 2:20pm Top

3. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson, 4*
Category: History in the Making

I really liked this book. I thought it would be a fast, light read, but it turned out to be both slower and deeper than I had expected. I found the exploration of aging, and the questioning of life-long beliefs and prejudices, especially interesting.

Both christina_reads and SouthernKiwi have recently posted excellent reviews of Major Pettigrew. I agree with them, and don't think I can say it as well as they have, so I won't attempt it.

Jan 17, 2011, 12:55pm Top

Ivy, I definitely agree with your point about the book moving slowly. I also liked the book overall, but the slow pace would be my one complaint -- I was in the mood for something a bit lighter and easier!

Jan 17, 2011, 12:58pm Top

Almost everyone loved Major Pettigrew but me. If it hadn't been an ER book for me, I would've put it aside.

I thought it picked up in the second half and, in the end, I was glad I'd finished it.

The book was well-done, it was just not my thing.

Jan 17, 2011, 12:59pm Top

Ivy, meant to ask. Did you do that online book quiz that I had in my thread? (Also in its own self-contained thread.)

Anyway, for a lot of them, I could go either way so I re-took it a few times. At one point, "my book" was Anne of Green Gables and I thought of you.

Jan 24, 2011, 3:09pm Top

4. World War Z by Max Brooks, 4*
Category: History That Never Was

How will the world react when a "virus," which turns people into zombies, begins in China and spreads worldwide?

I liked this book a lot. Ten years after the war against the zombies has been won, the outbreak is traced from its beginnings in a series of interviews with survivors from all over the world. There is depth in the discussions of political systems in the various countries, logic and perhaps probabilty in the way the outbreak spreads and is handled. The book is fun... and thought-provoking.

The negatives: For my personal taste, there was too much detailed discussion of weapons and military tactics and not quite enough personal stories of survival. Technically, I thought the book was well-written, but didn't see enough differences in the various voices, and thought that some of the later interviews were not sufficiently tied back to earlier ones.

Though not my usual type of book, I'm glad I read this one.

Edited: Jan 24, 2011, 10:07pm Top

5. The Fleet Street Murders by Charles Finch (Charles Lenox #3), 3 1/2*
Category: British Mystery

This is another solid entry in the Charles Lenox series. Mr Finch seems to become more adept and polished with each successive book. The events of this book are Lenox's campaign for Parliament (which I found extremely interesting) intertwined with the murders of 2 journalists. There is peculiar twist to the murder; I'm still not sure exactly what I think of it...

ETA: For anyone thinking about reading this series, I think Book #1 A Beautiful Blue Death should be read before The Fleet Street Murders.

Jan 24, 2011, 4:25pm Top

Just saying hello. I love your categories and am looking forward to reading your comments.

Jan 24, 2011, 10:09pm Top

Hi, citygirl, thanks for dropping by! I've gotten off to a slow start, but I'm really looking forward to reading these books.

Jan 25, 2011, 2:09am Top

I really enjoyed World War Z when I read it last year. It's a book I found myself thinking about long after I had finished it. Aren't you glad you now know what to do and where to go when the zombies attack!! :)

Jan 25, 2011, 3:01pm Top

Judy, I think maybe you were the first one to bring this book to my attention -- thanks!

I'm now well into The Passage by Justin Cronin, and loving it! In many ways it's so similar to World War Z that I think I may be somewhat mixing the 2 in my mind -- probably a mistake to read both of them so close together. Have you read it?

Edited: Feb 1, 2011, 3:10pm Top

6. The Passage by Justin Cronin, 5*
Category: History That Never Was

Superb! I couldn't put it down. I'm sad that I've finished, and can't wait for the next book in this trilogy.

The Passage begins a few years before the apocalypse, caused by a top-secret government experiment gone wrong, and continues for nearly 100 years.

Apocalyptic, dystopian, paranormal. It's very similar to World War Z in many respects -- and I don't really recommend reading them as close together as I have -- but it's also a very different book. This is a book with fully realized characters, detailed descriptions of the post-apocalyptic society, tales of survival (or not), a gripping story line. I think it was well written, but I was mostly too engrossed in the story to notice.

Looking at other reviews, I see that most of those who didn't like the book objected to 1) its length (nearly 800 pages), and/or 2) the ending. I like long books where I can become immersed the characters' lives and in another place (or time). And I enjoyed the details and liked that my questions were answered. I agree that it could have been split into 3 or 4 books of a series, but it really doen't matter (except for increasing the book count for the year). As for the ending, I thought it was fine, keeping in mind that this is the first book of a trilogy -- would it be fair to criticize the ending of The Fellowship of the Ring or The Golden Compass?

Much to my surprise, I'm sure that this will be one of my favorite books of 2011.

Jan 28, 2011, 3:44pm Top

@54, after a recommendation like that, I need to find myself a copy. I'll admit that I was also put off by the size (and the worry if I was reading and it accidentally fell on my face). :)

Thanks for the review!!

Feb 1, 2011, 3:09pm Top

>55 lbucci3: Yes, it's big enough that I had to read it sitting in a chair! Although it's long, it's a pretty fast read -- especially if you can't put it down. I hope you enjoy it!

Feb 1, 2011, 3:37pm Top

7. Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear, 3 1/2*
Category: British Mystery

It's 1929 and Maisie Dobbs has just established her own investigation office. When a client wants to find out if his wife is cheating on him, Maisie is led back to the events of WWI and her own early life and experiences in the war.

** MINOR SPOILER (you find out about it 40 or so pages into the book) **
Many years ago I knew a lady who had studied in Paris in the very early 1930s. She told me once about the faceless, lost, masked war veterans on the streets of Paris -- still young men 15 years after the war's end. I haven't elsewhere encountered descriptions of this tragedy, so I found the subject matter of this book very interesting.

I wouldn't call this book cozy, but it is a mystery, though a good third of the book is the interesting story of Maisie's life before 1929. The ending took me by surprise, and I'm still wondering if I missed clues or somehow misread Maisie's character.

I liked the book a lot and plan to continue with the series.

Feb 1, 2011, 3:43pm Top

I have this on my TBR pile but have read a few of the others. I decided I needed more background on Maisie so I picked up the first. Glad it's a good read.

Feb 1, 2011, 3:55pm Top

>58 cyderry: Cheli, I suspect that if you've liked later books that you'll find it really interesting. I have the 2nd book already and plan to read it this month.

Funny thing happened with this book: I had planned to join you on the TIOLI with Pink Carnation, but when I went to get it off my tbr stack, I discovered that I had apparently changed my mind and ordered Maisie Dobbs instead! I still want to read Pink Carnation but at the moment I'm trying to reduce the tbr stack, so it may be a while before I get to it.

Edited: Feb 4, 2011, 12:17pm Top

January Recap

I read 7 books in January -- a respectable number I think, especially since a couple of them were quite fat, but not enough if I want to complete this challenge. I don't think I'll worry about that, though, since I have several longer books that I want to read this year, and I really don't want to read books just because they'll make my numbers higher.

My favorite book this month was The Passage by Justin Cronin. My least favorite was The Book of Love -- or at least the modern-day parts -- I liked the parts about Matilda of Canossa. And I really liked all the other books, too.

1. History in the Making (1/11)
~~ Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

2. British History (0/11)

3. British Mystery (2/11)

~~ The Fleet Street Murders by Charles Finch
~~ Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

4. World History (1/11)
~~ The Book of Love by Kathleen McGowan

5. World Mystery (0/11)

6. U.S. History (0/11)

7. Southern U.S. Mystery (0/11)

8. Eastern U.S. Mystery (1/11)

~~ The Corpse Wore Tartan by Kaitlyn Dunnett

9. Other U.S. Mystery (0/11)

10. History That Never Was (2/11)

~~ World War Z by Max Brooks
~~ The Passage by Justin Cronin

11. Children of Yesteryear (0/11)

Feb 1, 2011, 6:22pm Top

Looks like a good start to the reading year, Ivy.

Feb 1, 2011, 6:38pm Top

Yes, good start! The Passage is rather mammoth-y, as I recall. I also forgot how much I love your categories. :)

Feb 6, 2011, 3:20pm Top

Thanks, Linda and Christina! The Passage is large, but it was a faster read for me than many shorter, less interesting books.

Feb 6, 2011, 3:51pm Top

8. The Distant Hours by Kate Morton, 3 1/2*
Category: History in the Making

Kate Morton's 3rd novel was enjoyable, but also disappointing, since it's my least favorite of her books.

In 1992, Edie discovers that her mother was evacuated from London in 1939 to Milderhurst Castle, the ancestral home of the Blythes. The story alternates between Edie's present-day conflict with her mother and uncovering the secrets of the Castle.

At times, I found the story engrossing, and at times I found the book rather boring and repetitive. I thought the present day plot was weak and don't think it really enhanced the historical story. In addition, I didn't think the characterizations were very good -- they seemed to be caricatures rather than fully realized characters, which interfered with empathizing with them. The organization was sometimes confusing and in my opinion not very smooth or logical. In short, I think the book could benefit from a thorough editing.

I know that authors don't necessarily write books that are progressively better than their previous books, but I wonder with this one -- as I have with a couple of other authors who have catapulted to fame -- whether this isn't a re-working of an earlier novel in order to meet contract obligations. And I really wonder why so many 21st century female authors find it necessary to write a book about twins.

Feb 6, 2011, 6:36pm Top

Which Kate Morton novel is your favorite, Ivy? I'm always looking at her books when I go to a bookstore, but I haven't taken the plunge and bought one yet!

Feb 7, 2011, 3:17pm Top

>65 christina_reads: Christina, I really liked The House at Riverton, an English country house novel. I like that genre and I thought that it was a very good first novel.

But I loved The Forgotten Garden. A 4-year-old girl arrives -- by herself -- in Australia, and the book explores both preceding and succeeding generations to discover how such a situation could have occurred and the ramifications of the situation. Like The Distant Hours, it's written from multiple viewpoints and skips back and forth in time, but I thought it was tightly constructed, well paced with the secrets being slowly revealed, and believably and fully characterized. I read it almost 2 years ago, and I still think about it -- and talk about it -- from time to time.

Hence my disappointment with The Distant Hours, which isn't a bad book, but certainly isn't on a par with The Forgotten Garden.

Feb 7, 2011, 3:20pm Top

Ivy, glad to see your praise of The Forgotten Garden. I haven't read any of her books yet either, but, luckily, that's the one I have on my Kindle.

Feb 8, 2011, 1:59pm Top

>67 DeltaQueen50: I hope you enjoy it, Judy! Based on other books that we've both liked, I think you will.

Edited: Feb 17, 2011, 12:55pm Top

I'm getting dreadfully behind on my posting. So, although I have quite a lot I could say about the books I've read in the last week or so, I'm just going to list them. Maybe I'll get back later to say a bit more.

~~ Introduction and Book 1 of The Landmark Thucydides
Category: World History

I'm liking Thucydides, though I found Herodotus more entertaining. I really love the Landmark edition with all the maps!

9. The White Cascade: The Great Northern Railway Disaster and America's Deadliest Avalanche by Gary Krist, 4*
Category: US History

A very interesting look at the 1910 winter storm that stranded 2 trains in the Northern Cascades of Washington. The book was obviously well-researched and integrates a great number of primary and secondary sources. It is a testament to Gary Krist's writing ability that he had me racing through the book to see what happened (or more accurately, how it happened), even though I knew the ending! Thanks to Linda for the recommendation!

10. A Marked Man by Barbara Hamilton (Abigail Adams #2), 4*
Category: Eastern US Mystery

A great 2nd book in the Abigail Adams series! She does a wonderful job of integrating history and fiction, and does a good job with the mystery. I hope there will be another book in this series soon.

Feb 15, 2011, 2:35pm Top

Your Thucydides/Herodotus comparison reminded me of this: http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=30.

Feb 16, 2011, 3:32pm Top

>70 christina_reads: Thanks for the laugh, Christina! I do find "giant ants" more entertaining than battle deployment of triremes!

Feb 16, 2011, 6:57pm Top

71 -- Well, people have all kinds of reasons for reading history. :) I agree that outrageous anecdotes are usually much more fun to read than dry facts!

Feb 17, 2011, 1:48pm Top

11. Tideland by Mitch Cullin, 3*
Category: History in the Making

Well! I'm not sure what to say about this book. It was too macabre for my taste, though I think it was probably a pretty good book for people who like horror; certainly the friend who loaned it to me (forced it on me) thought it was great.

Jeliza-Rose is an 11-year-old girl who finds herself, with her father, at a remote house in Texas. It's impossible to say much more without spoilers, since the book is so tightly constructed that the reader needs to make the discoveries as the author intended.

The cover blurb compares this book to A Rose for Emily and To Kill a Mockingbird. I haven't read the Faulkner (that I remember, anyway), but I saw few similarities to Mockingbird other than the narration by an 11-year-old girl; the themes, purposes, genres are totally different. I would, instead, compare the book to Shirley Jackson, Thomas Tryon, and probably Stephen King (though there's no paranormal in this book).

The voice of the girl didn't seem right much of the time, nor was it consistent, but otherwise the book was well written and very well plotted. Just not a book for me.

Feb 21, 2011, 2:00pm Top

12. Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear (Maisie Dobbs #2), 4*
Category: British Mystery

I liked this 2nd book in the series even better than the first Maisie Dobbs, and getting ahold of the rest of the series has jumped to the top of my wishlist.

This book is set a few months after the first book and again explores the aftermath of WWI and the changing society of the years between the Wars. Ms Winspear again explores a little-known aspect (at least to me) of The Great War, again has an interesting and likable heroine in Maisie, and again has written a good and satisfying mystery.

Feb 21, 2011, 5:36pm Top

I'll probably get to book #3 in the series this spring. It's in my TBR pile.

Feb 21, 2011, 11:31pm Top

I'm definitely going to have to find a way to get Maisie on the schedule soon!

Feb 25, 2011, 2:59pm Top

13. The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan (Heroes of Olympus #1), 4 1/2*
Category: History That Never Was

After having visited, in the last month or so, the Peloponnesian War, the Revolutionary War, World War I, World War II, 2 apocalypses, a deadly avalanche and the dark gruesome Tideland, I wanted something light and entertaining. The Lost Hero is indeed entertaining, but has some depth as well, and of course involves fights/wars between heroes and monsters.

This is not really a new series, but very definitely a continuation of Percy Jackson and the Olympians, beginning only a few months after The Last Olympian, and containing many references to (and spoilers of) the previous series. The first series did mostly conclude that particular threat to the gods, but as far as I can see, the main reason for renaming the series is that Percy is not the protagonist of this book. While a great many of the previous characters re-appear in this book, there is a new set of demigods whose story is being told, with a new threat and new quests to undertake.

I think this may be Rick Riordan's best book yet. Someone (could it have been Stephen King?) commented that J.K. Rowling started writing for a general audience somewhere around book 3 of the Harry Potter series, and I think Riordan has also moved in that direction, with this book if not before, though I would still classify this as YA. He is also referencing additional mythologies, though I won't mention which ones since that could be a spoiler; it appears that we will see more of one of them in subsequent books, and I hope we'll see more of the other, though that's less clear at the moment.

Riordan's style is clever and amusing -- sometimes laugh-out-loud funny -- but I wonder (and this is just a musing, no conclusions drawn) whether being so fully tied to 21st century popular culture and jargon will prevent these books from withstanding the test of time.

Feb 25, 2011, 3:04pm Top

>75 thornton37814: & 76 I've ordered books 3-7 of the Maisie Dobbs series. Can't wait for them to arrive so I can continue with her story!

Feb 25, 2011, 4:29pm Top

Ivy, please let me know when you read #3 of Maisie Dobbs. I may join you. Not immediately but sometime in March would be good for me.

Feb 25, 2011, 11:15pm Top

>79 lindapanzo: Sounds good, Linda! I got books 3-6 in the mail today. I guess #7 will be in a separate box with the other 2 books (I ordered 8 books -- no self-control, I guess, but the prices were mostly really good). But I'm still in the middle of Pamela, last night started a non-fiction that I like, got the Marcia Clarke ER book yesterday, have another Book of Thucydides coming up, several others I'm eager to get to, plus those 2 crammed shelves... maybe the 2nd week of March?

Feb 26, 2011, 12:23am Top

Sounds good to me. I'll track down a copy, probably on my Kindle.

Edited: Feb 28, 2011, 2:23pm Top

February Recap

I finished only 6 books in February. Given my present rate for this year, I think I will officially declare my goal as a 7-11 Challenge: 7 books in each of 11 categories, and I will be satisfied. If my rate picks up, I might change again, but what I really do not want is to read books just to fill the slots instead of the books that I want to read (many of which are quite long and/or slow).

I'm also going to change Category #9 to Other Mystery rather than Other US Mystery. I've been slightly uncomfortable with not having a slot for Canadian mysteries (other than World Mystery), and since it looks like I will be reading all the Maisie Dobbs books, that will pretty much fill British Mystery. This way I can use Category #9 for overflow of other categories as well as mysteries that don't fit the more specific mystery categories.

Picking a favorite for this month is pretty much impossible, since I really, really liked 4 of the 6 books: The White Cascade, A Marked Man, Birds of Feather and The Lost Hero. I was disappointed with The Distant Hours, though I did mostly enjoy it; Tideland was just not to my taste.

1. History in the Making (3/11)
~~ The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
~~ Tideland by Mitch Cullin

2. British History (0/11)

3. British Mystery (3/11)

~~ Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear

4. World History (1/11)
~~ Introduction and Book 1 of The Landmark Thucydides

5. World Mystery (0/11)

6. U.S. History (1/11)

~~ The White Cascade by Gary Krist

7. Southern U.S. Mystery (0/11)

8. Eastern U.S. Mystery (2/11)

~~ A Marked Man by Barbara Hamilton

9. Other Mystery (0/11)

10. History That Never Was (3/11)

~~ The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

11. Children of Yesteryear (0/11)

Feb 28, 2011, 3:32pm Top

I like the 7-11 challenge idea. The challenge is supposed to be fun, and forcing yourself to read something just to fill up a category is definitely not fun!

Mar 1, 2011, 4:06pm Top

>83 christina_reads: Yes, it's supposed to be fun, and stressing out about what books I'm reading or how many is not something I need in my life (or that anyone needs, for that matter). The irony is that I do want to read all the books -- I think I could fill every category 3 times over with books that I want to read. But last year I found myself reading a number of shorter books instead of a couple of long ones that were actually my preference at that time, in order to complete the challenge, and I told myself that I wouldn't let that happen this year.

For right now, setting my personal goal at 77 books seems realistic and achievable. It's always more fun to reach a goal, and then reset a higher goal, than to be struggling to meet one that is unrealistic to start with (as 121 books probably is, for me).

Mar 1, 2011, 4:11pm Top

That's wise, Ivy.

For me, I think 11 in 11 is still do-able but 12 in 12 might start getting a bit iffy.

Mar 1, 2011, 4:21pm Top

>85 lindapanzo: Yes, Linda, I think you'll probably manage the full 11 in 11 without much difficulty! And I won't be surprised if you do complete a 12 in 12.

Hope you're having a wonderful birthday!

Edited: Mar 5, 2011, 5:05pm Top

14. No Safe Haven by Kimberley and Kayla R. Woodhouse, 3 1/2*
Category: Other Mystery

This is one of the more difficult reviews I've had to write, and I do need to, since it's an ER book. The problem is that I liked this book far more than I should have, given its literary flaws and my personal taste.

A collaborative effort by a mother and her teenage daughter, No Safe Haven begins as Jenna and her 12-year-old daughter Andie board their private plane to return home to North Pole, Alaska. Things quickly go amiss, and they find themselves stranded on the slopes of Sultana, in Denali National Park, with a stranger that they don't know whether they can trust. The whole situation is complicated by the death a year earlier of their husband/father, the shadowy work that he had been involved with, and Andie's serious medical condition (she is unable to regulate her body temperature or to feel pain, a condition which also afflicts Kayla Woodhouse).

The book is a page-turner, with a terrific story line, despite its melodrama and serendipity. I thought the voice of the 12-year-old, written in first person, was nearly perfect, as was her matter-of-fact acceptance of her medical problems; and I'm sure much of that can be attributed to the talented teenage author. On the other hand, the mother-daughter relationship was just too perfect, the characterizations were rather shallow, and matters of trust and faith changed at lightning-fast speed with little basis. As for the mystery, there was just too much going on, inadequately explained, though the basic premise was intriguing.

The best part of the book was the survival attempt on the mountain. And in this first part, the Christian message was integrated and understandable – if your plane crashes on the side of a mountain in Alaska, it seems eminently logical that you might choose to pray. In the latter half of the book, where the mystery primarily unfolded, the Christian message was too preachy for my taste, and I thought that depth of character and intricacies of plot were sacrified for lengthy restatings of basic Christian principles.

Nevertheless, this is Christian fiction, and marketed as such, so it is perhaps to be expected. And I liked the book quite a lot.

Mar 8, 2011, 3:18pm Top

15. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell (Newbery Medal 1961), 4*
Category: Children of Yesteryear

The charming and beautiful story of a Native American woman who was abandoned for 18 years on a remote island off the coast of California. Based on a true event -- she was rescued in 1853 -- Mr O'Dell has woven the few known facts about her into a captivating and moving story of her solitary survival.

16. Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded by Samuel Richardson, 3*
Category: British History

Published in 1740, Pamela is an interesting look at the 18th century from a contemporary standpoint and is surprisingly readable with a (mostly) lively voice. It is nevertheless rather slow going and at times tedious. It took me a while to get through it, and I'm somewhat surprised that I actually finished it, but I thought it was interesting enough -- as a story, as a view into the past, and from a literary standpoint, as a very early novel -- to keep going.

My interest in the book started from the many references to it in Barbara Hamilton's Abigail Adams mystery series; it was, according to those books, Abigail's favorite book (and I still wonder if there is a factual basis for that assertion). It's the story of a servant girl whose virtue is assailed by her "master" and her determination to preserve her "honesty" at all costs. I still don't exactly understand why Abigail would have liked it so much, but there were very few novels to choose from back then, and Pamela does stand for the proposition that maintaining one's morals will pay off in the end, and also raises some interesting points about equality of all persons regardless of "class."

~~ Shamela by Henry Fielding, 3*
Category: British History

A very clever and bawdy parody of Pamela, published about a year later. Shamela cares not a whit about her virtue, but is indeed interested in Mr. Booby's money.

Mar 9, 2011, 12:19am Top

My grandson and I read Island of the Blue Dolphins together last year and we both loved it!

Mar 9, 2011, 3:23pm Top

>89 DeltaQueen50: It's a lovely book! What age is best for it, do you think? My granddaughter is not quite 7, and I think too young -- maybe 9 or 10, or even older?

Mar 9, 2011, 11:55pm Top

I think 7 may be a little young, but it probably depends on the child. My grandson was 10 going on 11 when we read it last year.

Mar 13, 2011, 2:24pm Top

>91 DeltaQueen50: Thanks for the opinion, DQ. 10 going on 11 sounds perfect to me.

Mar 13, 2011, 3:21pm Top

~~ "Samuel Richardson" and "Henry Fielding" in Eighteenth Century English Literature
Category: British History

Just a little background from my college textbook on these 18th Century authors (a class, incidentally, that I did not much like, though I've since found the textbook useful and interesting). And I must say, the concise summaries in this book were more astute and helpful than the long introductions in the editions that I've been reading.

17. Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear (Maisie Dobbs #3), 4*
Category: British Mystery

In this book, Maisie again deals with the after-effects of WW I, and journeys to France for the first time since the Great War. The mystery is complex -- in fact, there are 5 interrelated mystery threads. I really liked it and am already into the next book of the series.

18. At Home: A Short History of Private Life, by Bill Bryson, 4*
Category: World History

I love trivia. I love history. And Bill Bryson has an entertaining style of bringing to life interesting people and events from the past. I think the title of the book is a misnomer, since much of the book is about historical events and scientific/technological advances all over the world.

I had expected more social history and more direct exploration of "private life," but his organizational framework of rooms in the old rectory (his home) is only that: a framework on which he hangs a variety of items from the past which have caught his interest. And I found his moving back and forth through the 17th to 19th century for each new topic a bit confusing; it made it difficult to put one topic into context with another. In skimming through his bibliography, I was surprised to find that almost all of the references were from the past 50 years, the great bulk of them from the past 20 years; his research, in other words, seems to be a culling of little known facts from recent, undoubtedly dryer, works -- and I think that the modern perspective of the past is reflected in many of his discussions.

But I really enjoyed the book and finding out "the rest of the story"; and the origins of words and phrases were especially interesting to me. Just yesterday, I came across a reference to a room painted with distemper; I would have had no idea what it was had I not read about it in this book a few days earlier.

Mar 15, 2011, 3:32pm Top

19. Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear (Maisie Dobbs #4), 4*
Category: British Mystery

WW I experiences still figure into this installment of Maisie Dobbs, but the art world is the focus of this mystery, set in early 1931 as the Depression deepens.

When I read a mystery -- cozy, historical, thriller, spy, whatever -- I'm usually looking for entertainment. It seems to me that there is an unacknowledged contract with the reader that emotions won't be touched too deeply; the subject is, after all, murder and the dark side, and if the reader becomes too involved with the characters, the lightness of just unravelling a puzzle is lost. Ms Winspear's earlier books have come perilously close to this line, and for me it was definitely crossed in this book. While I give her credit for succeeding with greater depth, and there's no question that I will continue with this series, I won't be choosing her books for light entertainment.

Mar 21, 2011, 2:46pm Top

~~ Book 2 of The Landmark Thucydides
Category: World History

Some of Thucydides comments about character and motivations, political stances and situations seem very wise. I wish there were more commentary, but his history is mostly a detailed description of the various actions and movements of the participants.

The last few pages of Book 2 were a pleasant surprise, where he gives some history of the Thracians, including a couple of rumors reminiscent of Herodotus and the mythological story of Alcmaeon. As the accompanying material notes (more than once), Thucydides' readers were probably familiar with the history and character of many of the city-states and people, such as Pericles (whose character is briefly discussed) -- but 2500 years later, it would be nice to have more.

I think I'm inclining toward the view that Thucydides mostly invented the speeches that he records.

Edited: Mar 27, 2011, 1:20pm Top

~~ Fantomina by Mrs Eliza Haywood, 4*
Category: British History

This risque story/novella by Mrs Eliza Haywood was published in 1725. I thought it was delightful, with an ending that I didn't expect. Thanks to keristars for the recommendation and online link to the story!

Mar 30, 2011, 4:38pm Top

20. Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding, 3 1/2*
Category: British History

Sometimes funny, sometimes interesting, sometimes boring. Comparing Fielding to Richardson's Pamela, I have to say that I preferred Richardson's style (not quite so convoluted and difficult to read), but that I thought Fielding was a far better observer of character -- often quite wise -- and more entertaining than Richardson. I'm not very knowledgable about 18th century literature or about 18th century history until the American Revolution, so I probably learned quite a lot about both the period and the development of the novel. For now, though, I'm done with 18th century literature.

Mar 30, 2011, 4:47pm Top

Ivy, you read some "high falutin" stuff. Unlike me, that is.

I may have a go at some poetry next month though.

Mar 31, 2011, 2:17pm Top

>98 lindapanzo: I don't know about "high falutin," Linda! It was mostly sort of boring, but I was really curious about it (initially because of the Abigail Adams books). So now my curiosity is satisfied, and I think that reading books written and read in the 18th century gave me a slightly different perspective on the period.

I love T.S. Eliot and e.e. cummings (don't ask me why -- for some reason I just love the way they string words together), and to a lesser extent W.H. Auden and Dylan Thomas. But my taste in poetry is mostly pretty plebian -- I like the sing-songy rhyming poetry that's easy to understand. I also like poetry in small doses. Who are you thinking about reading?

Mar 31, 2011, 2:25pm Top

I'm home (on pto) watching the opening day ballgames and then off to the Cubs Opener tomorrow. There might be some snow in the am.

Anyway, I have the Carl Sandburg Chicago Poems for my Chicago category. I even discovered that there are books of baseball poetry so I reserved one such book at the library.

I finished (and loved) that latest Maisie Dobbs book though I think I'll read some other things before I move on to #4.

Mar 31, 2011, 3:07pm Top

>100 lindapanzo: "fog on little cat feet" -- or something like that?

Looked it up (this is a good site for looking up poems: http://www.poets.org/page.php/prmID/41)

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

I like that poem.

I really liked Pardonable Lies. I didn't like the next one quite as much, but as you will see there's a reason for that -- and don't get me wrong, I really liked it anyway. I'm hoping to get to #5 & #6 this month. Did you guess the mystery solutions in Pardonable Lies? I did on part of it, but not all.

Have a great (relaxing) day and weekend! My weekend should be very quiet... hoping for some sunshine, but I've almost given up hope. Coldest and wettest March ever -- I'm amazed that the bulbs have managed to bloom!

Edited: Mar 31, 2011, 4:07pm Top

March Recap

March was a little better than February: 7 books plus 2 short works and a book of Thucydides. This brings me to 20 books so far this year and is totally in line with my revised goal of 7 books in 11 categories.

My reading this month was somewhat different than usual, since I got caught up in learning a little bit about 18th century literature. I wasn't thrilled with it, but found it interesting.

The book I liked best was Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear.

1. History in the Making (3/7)

2. British History (2/7)
~~ Pamela by Samuel Richardson
~~ Shamela by Henry Fielding
~~ "Samuel Richardson" and "Henry Fielding" in Eighteenth-Century English Literature
~~ Fantomina by Mrs. Eliza Haywood
~~ Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding

3. British Mystery (5/7)
~~ Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
~~ Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear

4. World History (2/7)
~~ At Home by Bill Bryson
~~ Book 2 of The Landmark Thucydides

5. World Mystery (0/7)

6. U.S. History (1/7)

7. Southern U.S. Mystery (0/7)

8. Eastern U.S. Mystery (2/7)

9. Other Mystery (1/7)
~~ No Safe Haven by Kimberley & Kayla R. Woodhouse

10. History That Never Was (3/7)

11. Children of Yesteryear (1/7)
~~ Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell

Apr 8, 2011, 2:34pm Top

21. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell, 4 1/2*
Category: World History

A wonderful book. I'm thinking that David Mitchell may be today's most talented writer, and I think The New York Times accolade of "a genius" is well-deserved.

The missing 1/2* is because 1) I thought Part 1 was slow and confusing -- interesting and beautifully written, but I wasn't really caught up in the story until Part 2; and 2) probably mostly a matter of personal taste, I just can't say that I really, really loved the book, though I know that others (including my son-in-law) have.

Edited: Apr 11, 2011, 2:50pm Top

22. Shade of the Raintree by Larry Lockridge, 3 1/2*
Category: US History

In January 1948, Raintree County -- the wonderful, amazing first novel of Ross Lockridge, Jr -- was published. On March 6, 1948, the same week that his book became the #1 bestseller, Ross Lockridge committed suicide at the age of 33. The world lost a brilliant writer and 5-year-old Larry Lockridge lost his father.

In 1989, Larry Lockridge began his biography of the father he barely remembered. I ordered this book shortly after I read Raintree County last year, expecting a brief history of his father's life and perhaps some insight into the seemingly inexplicable suicide of a brilliant young man on the cusp of fame. When the book arrived, I found that it was a meticulously researched tome of nearly 500 pages. It took me a while to get to it, and wish I had done so earlier, while Raintree County was still more fresh in my mind.

Shade of the Raintree is a son's quest to know his father and to find some answers. He interviewed practically everyone who had known his father; obtained letters written by his father to others; delved into family archives for notes, outlines, commentary and unpublished works of his father; and researced the psychology of depression and suicide. He also brings a scholar's viewpoint -- he is/was a professor of Romantic literature -- to his father's book.

For me, the book was worth reading just for the excerpts of Ross Lockridge's amazing writing, much of it not publicly available or at least not easily accessible (and I wish he had included more). But it is more than that, too: it's a well-written portrait of a genius, and a documentation of the ravages of depression.

Larry Lockridge was looking for answers. I hope he found them for himself, but I wasn't satisfied with the blame he attached to his grandparents and Ross's early childhood, or with the Freudian theories, as an explanation for Ross's deep depression after finishing his book. Even with our greater understanding of depression 60 years later, it is almost impossible to pinpoint causes. What is tragically clear, though, is that today's wider recognition of depression, and far better treatment options including anti-depression drugs, would quite likely have prevented his suicide.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has read Raintree County (and I also highly recommend reading that book). Without having read the novel, though, I don't think this book would be so interesting.

Edited: Apr 12, 2011, 3:50pm Top

23. Guilt by Association by Marcia Clark, 2 1/2*
Category: Other Mystery

Rachel Knight, a prosecutor in the Special Trials unit of the Los Angeles DA's office, is confronted with a murder that hits close to home and is subsequently assigned to a high-profile rape case. She and her sidekicks try to decipher an increasingly tangled web of clues and suspects in order to solve the cases, encountering danger along the way.

The mystery is a decent one, quite well presented and resolved, though a few aspects were not fully explained at the end. The real strength of the novel, however, is in the naturalness of the presentation of the investigations, criminal law and procedure, prosecution and courts. That this knowledge is second-nature to Ms Clark is obvious, and she handles it well, with adequate (but not overly technical) explanations.

But for me, the overriding detraction was the 1st person voice and character of Rachel Knight. She expresses herself in cliché after cliché, many of them outdated colloquialisms. She is snarky, snide, sarcastic; mean-spirited, self-absorbed, jealous, self-justifying and self-delusional. Aspects of her character remind me of Kinsey Milhone, Bridget Jones and Eve Dallas, but she has the appeal of none of them. Far from finding her denigrations amusing, I formed such an active dislike of her that I was hoping (though not expecting) that she would be arrested and disbarred for her illegal actions.

Which brings me to the active disregard that Rachel Knight has for the law. She seems to delight in breaking it, in both large and small ways, apparently believing that her desires are paramount. I am appalled that a lawyer would write a book, with a lawyer protagonist, which so neatly reinforces and justifies public disdain of lawyers.

Apr 13, 2011, 1:33am Top

Rachel Knight doens't sound like someone I'd like to spend an evening with, I think I'll pass on this one!

Edited: Apr 13, 2011, 1:34pm Top

>106 SouthernKiwi: An evening with her could be rather unpleasant... among other things, she'd undoubtedly "snake" her fork into your food, which she finds more appetizing than the salad she's ordered.

Apr 13, 2011, 1:34pm Top

Ivy, I've gotten wrapped up in the Civil War. Most of my planned TIOLIs for April are probably going to go by the wayside, I think, so maybe no Jacob de Zoet.

Apr 13, 2011, 1:54pm Top

>108 lindapanzo: Isn't it fun to get involved with a new reading project? I felt that way last month about my 17th century lit, even though I wasn't much impressed with most of it.

There's certainly no pressure from me to read Jacob de Zoet this month -- isn't that how TIOLIs are supposed to be?

I'm reading Fingersmith right now (and loving it). After that, I have a J.D. Robb sitting here and want to get back to Maisie Dobbs. Except for my book of Thucydides, which I haven't started yet, I think the rest of this month will be light reading for me.

Apr 13, 2011, 10:00pm Top

Over on the 75 Challenge, Mark (msf59) is going to host a group read of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet in June if anyone is interested in reading it then.

Apr 14, 2011, 6:38am Top

>107 ivyd: lol that would annoy me! I like real food. If I chose a salad I'd be hungry again an hour later.

Apr 14, 2011, 2:14pm Top

>110 DeltaQueen50: I think I would have liked a group read of Thousand Autumns. I had a lot questions, since most of what I previously knew about Japanese history (prior to WW II) comes from reading Shogun 30 or so years ago.

>111 SouthernKiwi: Definitely annoying, even to read about it (time after time)!

Apr 16, 2011, 3:16pm Top

24. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, 4 1/2*
Category: British History

Not much can be said about this book without revealing too much. Suffice it to say that it's set in 19th Century England; it deals with unscrupulous (but very likeable) people, and a major con; it's well-written, well-characterized and very well plotted; it's full of suprises; and I really liked it.

A curious note: Although set a century later, this book reminded me very much -- in characters, style and plot -- of the 18th century literature I read last month. I liked this book better, though.

Thanks to Karen (wisechild), from whose library I chose this book for the tag mirror TIOLI challenge!

Apr 19, 2011, 2:27pm Top

25. Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb (Eve Dallas #31), 3 1/2*
Category: Eastern US Mystery

Twice a year, when I read the latest J.D. Robb books as they appear in paperback, I'm amazed that my interest in this series has continued for so long. Some I like better than others, but I always enjoy them. I found the topic of this one interesting: for several years now, I've been ranting about the belief in entitlement that seems far too prevalent in American society today (and not just by the super-rich, but in various ways at all levels of society).

Edited: Apr 23, 2011, 1:45pm Top

~~ Book 3 & Appendices of The Landmark Thucydides
Category: World History

I must say (again) that I'm really not finding Thucydides very entertaining; it's something like a jigsaw puzzle where you look at a piece for a while, consider how it might fit, and then finally drop it into the bigger picture -- but like a puzzle, the separate pieces aren't very interesting by themselves. I think, though, that Thucydides is giving me a much better picture of ancient Greece, so being almost 1/2 way, I intend to stick with it.

The description of the tsunami was interesting, along with his "opinion" as to its cause.

26. Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis (Newbery Medal 2000), 3 1/2*
Category: Children of Yesteryear

Bud (not Buddy) Caldwell is a 10-year-old orphan living in Flint, Michigan, during The Great Depression. Written in 1st person, Bud is a captivating character; the details of the Depression are well done and interesting; the story is a typical orphan finds his home, a recurring theme of children's books (and of many adult books as well).

I enjoyed the book and would recommend it for 9-12 year olds. But although there are some beautiful and touching moments and episodes, it's just not one of my favorite children's books. I think I've said this before, but for a children's book about the Depression, my favorite book and #1 recommendation is Blue Willow by Doris Gates (Newbery Honor Book 1941).

Apr 25, 2011, 2:17pm Top

27. An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear (Maisie Dobbs #5), 4*
Category: British Mystery

Another great installment in the Maisie Dobbs series, this book is set mostly in Kent during hops-picking season, when Londoners and gypsies travel to the farms. As usual with Ms Winspear's books, it's hard to say much without giving away too much.

This book is probably one of my favorites (so far) in the series, with greater confidence by Ms Winspear resulting in tighter construction and character development, but... WARNING: this book contains many spoilers of earlier books, so I strongly recommend reading them in order.

Apr 25, 2011, 5:10pm Top

I'm completely caught up on the Maisie Dobbs series, including the one that just came out, and An Incomplete Revenge is my favorite!

Apr 25, 2011, 5:15pm Top

Ivy: I'm in the middle of An Incomplete Revenge, it will be interesting to compare notes with you after we've finished all of them, to see which is our favorite.

I love Maisie, I feel like I am getting a 2 for 1 history/mystery, but I was trying to space it out a little bit. I have a tendency to go a little overboard with series books.

Apr 25, 2011, 5:28pm Top

I try to give myself a break of at least a few books between each one in a series that I read. I've got to read #4 next, but I'm not sure I'll get to it in May as I will be traveling part of the time. I suspect I'll rely more on my Kindle for the books I do manage to read during that time.

Apr 25, 2011, 6:15pm Top

I'm a little bit behind you guys on the Maisie Dobbs series. Perhaps I'll get to book #4 as part of Mark's Mayhem and Mystery May.

Apr 26, 2011, 12:49pm Top

>117 cbl_tn:-120

Carrie, I'm envious that you've read the last one! I already have #6 & #7, but will probably wait for the paperback before I get to #8.

It will be interesting to see which are our favorites! I'm not sure that this last one, An Incomplete Revenge, is my #1 favorite, but it's certainly one of them.

Lisa, I love that she centers her mysteries around little-known aspects of WW I. I thought I had a fairly good basic knowledge of that war, but I certainly didn't know about a lot of the things she writes about.

I usually space my mysteries between "heavier" books, too, though I sometimes read 2 (or 3) in a row. I'm now reading non-fiction plus just started Jonathan Strange, so I'm not going to get to the next Maisie Dobbs until at least next month.

Lori and Linda, you're not really much "behind"! And it's so much fun that so many of us are reading this series right now!

Apr 29, 2011, 3:56pm Top

28. Skeleton Key to the Suicide of My Father, Ross Lockridge, Jr., Author of Raintree County, by Ernest Lockridge, 2*
Category: US History

This book is... well, just peculiar.

After reading the detailed biography written by Larry Lockridge, I was curious what the older son (Ernest was 9 when his father died) had to say. Not much -- except that he claims that his grandfather, Ross Lockridge, Sr., sexually abused him after his father's death.

The book is a disjointed compilation of photographs (most of which were also in Shade of the Raintree), some facsimiles of documents, quotations from a variety of sources, a few vignettes of events, thinly veiled suppositions and accusations, bitter invectives of everyone in his life except his mother's parents, and a great deal of sarcasm.

I found myself not wanting to believe Ernest Lockridge. Yet, I can see no reason for him to disclose this -- 60 years later -- unless it happened. And, from having worked with sexually abused children, I well know that reluctance to believe such accusations is one of the reasons that abuse is so often hidden, and so difficult to stop or to prosecute. I also know that it is pretty much statistically impossible that Ernest was the first or only victim of his grandfather.

But his inference that abuse of his father was "the skeleton in the closet" leading to his suicide is not backed up. I've read the 1000+ page novel of Ross Lockridge, Jr, and the almost 500 page biography by Larry Lockridge, which was well-researched and included a great many unpublished writings by Ross Jr. In none of it is any suggestion of pedophilia, nor does Ernest Lockridge present any evidence of it (other than his own experience). Ross Jr wrote voluminously from the age of 7 to the age of 33; surely somewhere in that mass of manuscripts, there would be some indication. Ernest hints that other situations and personality characteristics back up his claim, and maybe they do -- but all of them have other, equally possible, explanations as well.

Edited: Apr 29, 2011, 4:30pm Top

April Recap

I seem to be on a reading pattern of finishing a couple of long or slow books at the beginning of the month, then reading several shorter books, and then being in the middle of a couple more long books by the end of the month. There's really no chance I'll finish either of the 2 I'm now reading before tomorrow night.

I guess I'll choose The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet as my favorite, but I really liked Fingersmith too -- and An Incomplete Revenge is one of my favorites in the Maisie Dobbs series.

I did not care for Guilt by Association, by Marcia Clark; and I thought the book by Ernest Lockridge was really strange.

1. History in the Making (3/7)

2. British History (3/7)
~~ Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

3. British Mystery (6/7)
~~ An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear

4. World History (3/7)
~~ The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
~~ Book 3 & Appendices of The Landmark Thucydides

5. World Mystery (0/7)

6. U.S. History (3/7)

~~ Shade of the Raintree by Larry Lockridge
~~ Skeleton Key to the Suicide of My Father by Ernest Lockridge

7. Southern U.S. Mystery (0/7)

8. Eastern U.S. Mystery (3/7)

~~ Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb

9. Other Mystery (2/7)
~~ Guilt by Association by Marcia Clark

10. History That Never Was (3/7)

11. Children of Yesteryear (2/7)
~~ Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

May 10, 2011, 1:56pm Top

29. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, 3 1/2*
Category: History That Never Was

I finally finished it. By the end it had become something of a marathon and I was tired. I thought the book was interesting, but I wasn't thrilled with it: too long, too detailed (and those usually aren't objections that I make); not particularly well-characterized; an ending that wasn't totally satisfying. On the other hand, Ms Clarke writes well, and her world-building is excellent. I am not surprized that many fantasy and sci fi fans love this book, but I will probably not chuse to read another of her books any time soon.

May 13, 2011, 2:27pm Top

30. Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear (Maisie Dobbs #6), 4*
Category: British Mystery -- 7 COMPLETED

Another excellent episode in the life of Maisie Dobbs, although the topics of this book, leaning toward the scientific and psychiatric, were not as much to my taste as some of the previous topics.

This series has become one of my favorites.

May 15, 2011, 4:08pm Top

31. The Tavern of Folly by Mary Dickerson Donahey
Category: Children of Yesteryear

When I joined LT – 4 years ago come Thursday – my personal reading project was collecting and reading all the books of 5 early 20th Century women authors of children's books. At the time, I'd been able to find and acquire most of the books, but a few of them were quite rare, hard to find and very expensive. The one book that I couldn't find even a single copy of was The Tavern of Folly by Mary Dickerson Donahey, published in 1930. In fact, even searching library collections listed online, I only found 1 college library that had a copy of the book. I was thinking of trying to arrange a loan of that book through my own college library, when I recently found a copy for sale – too expensive of course, but I had to have it.

The Tavern of Folly seems to me an unfortunate title for a children's book, although it soon becomes apparent that "tavern" is used in the sense of an inn or hotel. The book is about 2 young women in straitened circumstances who inherit a hotel from a grandfather they never knew. They impulsively travel to the hotel, located in a small town (unspecified location, but I'd guess in Michigan), with grand dreams of running the business -- only to find that it is abandoned and said to be haunted. The story proceeds along predictable lines, but the mysteries and secrets and subplots are adroitly developed and revealed. I thought the book was delightful and would happily have continued reading about Arlys and Carol.

Mary Dickerson Donahey's real genius is in her characterizations: every single character, both major and minor, is unique and real. Her early books were fantasy/fairy tale books for younger children, but she nevertheless captured the essence of children in her characters. Beginning in 1919, she began writing for older children, dropping the fantasy elements; the best and most successful of these later books is probably Marty Lu (1925). The Tavern of Folly and the book which followed it, The Spanish McQuades, are a further departure in that the main characters are young adults; Carol and Arlys are 20 and 22.

I had the impression that The Tavern of Folly was hurriedly written – and that may well have been the case. I have a letter dated 1945 in which Mrs Donahey states that her bank failed in the Depression and that she hasn't since used banks. Three of her 17 books (1905-1950) were published in quick succession 1930-1932, when she was in her 50s; she may well have needed the money. In any case, although this book is perhaps her least successful, I enjoyed reading it.

And an interesting correlation: I was further impressed with Jacqueline Winspear's ability to re-create the world of the 1930s after reading Mrs Donahey's contemporary account of vibrant independent young women.

May 17, 2011, 1:05am Top

Loved Fingersmith - just had to put the domestic tasks aside and keep on reading to the end.

Noting your review of Joseph Andrews, which is on my tbr shelves, and suggesting Moll Flanders and Tom Jones, both of which I read a few years ago and remember enjoying very much. Two fabulous characters.

May 17, 2011, 2:14pm Top

32. The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear (Maisie Dobbs #7), 4*
Category: British Mystery

I loved this episode in Maisie's life. I'm not sure if it's my favorite of the series, but it's certainly one of them. I'm really eager to see where she goes next, but don't yet have #8. As has been mentioned by others, this series just gets better and better.

May 17, 2011, 2:37pm Top

>127 pamelad: I loved the twists and turns in Fingersmith. I was enjoying the beginning, but after that first major twist, I was totally hooked!

I read Tom Jones many, many years ago. At the time, I found it interesting but was more into contemporary literature. I have a copy on my shelves and considered re-reading it; I suspect I would appreciate it more now than I did then.

As for Moll Flanders, I'm rather bemused that I don't know whether or not I've read it -- how I wish I'd kept track of books before joining LT! I know what it's about, but that might be the case even if I haven't read it. That long ago 17th/18th century lit class must have included some Defoe, but might have just been an excerpt from the text, though as I recall there were a few other books assigned as well.

Thanks for the suggestions!

May 21, 2011, 2:48pm Top

33. The Reluctant Detective by Martha Ockley, 3*
Category: British Mystery

When Faith Morgan -- former police detective recently turned Church of England priest -- visits a small parish church, the current vicar drops dead during the communion service. Her previous training leads her to immediately suspect foul play, and when the police are called in, the detective in charge turns out to be Faith's former colleague and live-in boyfriend.

A lot -- perhaps too much -- was introduced in this first book in a new mystery series: Faith's change of career and the case which caused it; the relationship with Detective Ben Shorter; Faith's family and background; the church structure, church officials and parishioners of the church (to which Faith has been asked to become vicar); and the mystery of this book with its victims and suspects. I found the book rather uneven, both in the writing and in development of plot and character. I liked the basic scenario, but thought Faith was often shallow and immature in her thoughts and actions; knowlege about elements of church structure and activities was obvious (Martha Ockley is a pseudonym of Rebecca Jenkins, daughter of an Anglican Bishop, with whom she has worked), but I didn't think that many situations or characters were fully developed; the mystery was okay, but only that, and at times I had the impression that she was following a "How to Write a Mystery" guide.

I wouldn't mind reading another book in this series and seeing where she takes the characters. But I'm not eagerly awaiting the next episode, either.

May 26, 2011, 12:42pm Top

34. A Murderous Procession by Ariana Franklin (Mistress of the Art of Death #4), 4*
Category: World Mystery

I really enjoyed this installment of the series. I'm sad that there will be no more.

May 27, 2011, 10:21pm Top

I heard rumors that Ariana Franklin had been working on the next one at the time of her death. So maybe (cross your fingers) we will get one more.

May 30, 2011, 3:03pm Top

>132 cyderry: I hope so, Cheli! I really want to know what happens! Although I usually avoid sequels written by someone else, in this case I'd be willing to read a book finished by someone else, as long as they followed her plot as much as possible.

Edited: May 30, 2011, 4:58pm Top

35. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, 5*
Category: History That Never Was

I couldn't put it down. Or rather, I kept having to stop but couldn't wait to get back to it and finished the last 180 pages in one sitting (except to make a sandwich, which I ate while reading it) after we got back from our mini-vacation. I can't quite put my finger on what made it so fascinating, but it is. "The Lottery" meets TV's Survivor set in an apocalyptic world, not my usual favorite topics or genre; not a great work of literature, though adequately well-written. But I loved it!

Edited: May 30, 2011, 4:58pm Top

36. A Safe Place for Women: How to Survive Domestic Abuse and Create a Successful Future, by Kelly White, 4*
Category: History in the Making

Kelly White is not the stereotypical battered wife. She's educated, self-sufficient, middle-class, with a non-abusive background. But she was the victim of domestic violence, as are countless other women who do not fit the profile of those at high risk. Because of her education and ability to support herself -- and an indomitable spirit -- she was able to get herself out of the abusive situation and has spent 25 years working to help other abused women, most of it as executive director of Austin's SafePlace.

Ms White reviews and integrates an amazing amount of research about abuse, identifies the difficulties and trends, and proposes directions and solutions for this very real problem. General statements and conclusions are reinforced by liberal examples from her own life, her experiences (and mistakes) working in women's shelters, and the stories of many other women with whom she has had personal contact. The result is a very readable, well-organized book which is fascinating as well as appalling.

Back in the mid-1970s, my job was working with rape and sexual abuse victims, trying to increase awareness, reporting, and successful prosecution by providing different procedures and attitudes and the involvement of women. The term "battered women" was just making its appearance back then and I was very peripherally involved with a local (brand new) shelter, because of the obvious overlap with sexual abuse. I requested this ER book hoping to see how far we have come in the last 30+ years. But despite our greater understanding of the problem and significant advances, we haven't come far enough. There's still a lot to be done.

This is a book which should be read by everyone involved with social services, and those who work with women or children -- teachers, coaches, care providers, doctors and nurses, counsellors and psychologists, lawyers. The greater awareness which can be gained from this book may very well result in much needed assistance for abused women, children and even men. My only real objection to the book is the subtitle: this is not really a book for women who need help getting out of an abusive situation; it is, rather, a book for those who wish to help them get out.

May 30, 2011, 8:57pm Top

Glad to learn that The Hunger Games has garnered another 5 star review. I am really looking forward to making time to read this trilogy!

.... and, as a comment to >131 ivyd: - 133 above ..... How did I miss the news that Ariana Franklin died?!?!? That is so sad and I loved the Mistress of the Art of Death series. ***sniffs***

Edited: May 31, 2011, 3:15pm Top

>136 lkernagh: It's a fast read (especially if you can't stop reading), even though it's almost 400 pages. I'm looking forward to reading the next 2 books, though I've heard that they aren't as good, but I don't have them yet. I hope you enjoy The Hunger Games!

Maybe because Ariana Franklin is a pseudonym of Diana Norman? The Mistress of the Art of Death series seems to be her greatest success, but at some point I may try some of her other books published under her own name.

Edited: Jun 9, 2011, 5:28pm Top

May Recap

I read 8 books in May, a little better than some previous months this year, but I'm still averaging only 7 per month. As part of May's TIOLI, I also kept track (for the first time) of the number of pages of finished books, which was 2,922. Averaging less than 100 pages per day doesn't strike me as very impressive. Although it was interesting, I don't think I'll continue to track the number of pages.

The Hunger Games has to be my favorite for the month, since I gave it 5* -- not for any particular reason except that I really loved it. It's a tough choice though, because in any other month, any of the rest (except The Reluctant Detective which wasn't bad, just not as good) might have been my favorite for the month.

1. History in the Making (4/7)
~~ A Safe Place for Women by Kelly White

2. British History (3/7)

3. British Mystery (9/7) -- 7 COMPLETED
~~ Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear
~~ The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear
~~ The Reluctant Detective by Martha Ockley

4. World History (3/7)

5. World Mystery (1/7)
~~ A Murderous Procession by Ariana Franklin

6. U.S. History (3/7)

7. Southern U.S. Mystery (0/7)

8. Eastern U.S. Mystery (3/7)

9. Other Mystery (2/7)

10. History That Never Was (5/7)
~~ Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
~~ The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

11. Children of Yesteryear (3/7)
~~ The Tavern of Folly by Mary Dickerson Donahey

Touchstones are very strange today!

Jun 8, 2011, 1:25pm Top

~~ Book 4 of The Landmark Thucydides
Category: World History

37. The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan (Kane Chronicles #1), 3*
Category: History That Never Was

I spent quite a while a couple of days ago writing a review of The Red Pyramid and explaining why I was disappointed with it. I clicked "Post message" and it disappeared somewhere into cyberspace. I haven't since felt like reconstructing the review, so I'll just say that I don't think this new series has the appeal or the quality of his Olympus series.

Jun 9, 2011, 3:09pm Top

38. Heartsick by Chelsea Cain (Gretchen Lowell #1), 3 1/2*
Category: Other Mystery

A gritty, gory police procedural that begins with a grammatical error in the first sentence ("it's her"). I usually prefer the cozies, and there are other rather amazing errors: "belied" used to indicate the opposite of its meaning; the color "pedigrees" (??? - verdigris?), and a few that are less egregious -- HOW can an editor let this happen?!!

BUT Ms Cain has a very good eye for detail. The setting in Portland, OR (where I live) is brought to life, her characterizations are excellent, the characters are unique and very memorable, the mystery is well paced and well plotted. I'm eager to read the next book in this series.

Jun 9, 2011, 7:52pm Top

Wow, "pedigrees" for "verdigris"? I don't know whether I'm more amused or appalled! Glad you managed to enjoy the book anyway!

Jun 10, 2011, 11:51am Top

>141 christina_reads: After reading the sentence a couple of times, I did laugh. I gave the book to my son-in-law yesterday, but as best I remember it was about the furniture upholstered "in shades of green and pedigrees." "Verdigris" was what occurred to me, but last night I read a description of greens which used both "evergreen" and "pea green," so maybe one of those was intended. The only thing I'm very sure of is that there isn't a color called "pedigrees"!

Jun 10, 2011, 12:00pm Top

~~ Book 5 of The Landmark Thucydides
Category: World History

The last 2 books have been easier reading for me, and more interesting as well. I know the end result of the war, but I'm becoming ever more curious about how they got there.

Jun 12, 2011, 1:31pm Top

39. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games #2), 5*
Category: History That Never Was

What can I say? I was just as captivated by this 2nd book in the trilogy as I was by the first. It begins a little slower than The Hunger Games, which had me hooked from the start, probably mostly because of (very well integrated) reminders of what happened in the first book, but I quickly became totally immersed in the story. And it ends with a cliff hanger, so there's no question what book I will be reading next.

Jun 13, 2011, 2:26pm Top

Hey Ivy, we seem to be doing the Hunger Games trilogy at the same time. Are you reading Mockingjay soon? I'm 2nd in line for it from my library. I can't wait to find out what's happening in District 13.

Jun 14, 2011, 12:33pm Top

40. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games #3), 4 1/2*
Category: History That Never Was

I want to avoid spoilers, so all I'll say is that I was riveted to the book until I finished -- to the extent that I felt a flash of annoyance when my daughter, who was cooking our dinner while I was reading, asked me to cut some chives (my "garden" consists of chives, mint and rosemary). It isn't my favorite book of the trilogy, but it's still really, really good.

Edited: Jun 14, 2011, 12:47pm Top

>45 christina_reads: As you can see, Victoria, I just finished it. I think you started a few days before I did, but after reading The Hunger Games, I ordered both of the last 2, and went straight from Catching Fire to Mockingjay. I would have hated to wait -- I hope you get the book soon! I'll be watching for your reaction to it!

Jun 14, 2011, 12:48pm Top

Are there four books in all, Ivy?

Jun 14, 2011, 1:40pm Top

>148 lindapanzo: A trilogy, Linda:

The Hunger Games
Catching Fire

(They're fast reads, especially if you can't put them down.)

Jun 17, 2011, 12:46pm Top

41. State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy (White House Chef #1), 3 1/2*
Category: Eastern Mystery

I thoroughly enjoyed this culinary mystery set in the White House, and I've already started the 2nd book in the series. Learning something is not necessary for me to enjoy a mystery, but it's always a bonus when I do -- in this book, the inner workings of the White House, and especially the kitchen.

Jun 17, 2011, 12:53pm Top

Glad you liked it, Ivy. I have enjoyed all the White House chef books but couldn't get into the first book in her other series. Must give that one another try.

Right now, I'm reading a cozy set on the homefront (NYC) during WW2.

Jun 17, 2011, 1:03pm Top

>151 lindapanzo: Hi, Linda! I just looked up her books on FantisticFiction. Are you talking about her earlier series about Alex St James, or the newer Manor of Mystery series? The earlier one looks more interesting to me, but it seems she has maybe discontinued that series -- and of course as her first book, it's probably not as polished. I don't know that I would enjoy the financial intrique in the Manor of Mystery series. Also shows a 5th White House mystery scheduled for January 2012.

Jun 17, 2011, 1:10pm Top

I think it's the manor book. Part of my problem is that I took it with me during a trip to the hospital for a medical test.

Most cozies come out during the summer but, now that you mention it, hers WH books come out during the winter.

Jun 17, 2011, 8:20pm Top

I've got Grace Under Pressure in my TBR pile. I'll get around to it eventually, but I'm not in a hurry since Linda said she didn't get into it.

Jun 21, 2011, 1:20pm Top

42. Hail to the Chef by Julie Hyzy (White House Chef #2), 3 1/2*
Category: Eastern Mystery

After a slow start (which I think had more to do with me than the book), I raced through the last 2/3 of the book and enjoyed it very much. These books differ from the usual cozy in that the mysteries (so far anyway) involve political intrique rather than personal situations. I'm looking forward to the next installment.

Jun 21, 2011, 2:54pm Top

Glad you liked it, Ivy. Sometimes, the first in a series does take some getting used to. I'm never sure if it's the writer starting slowly or my trying to absorb a lot of background details about the characters.

In subsequent books, I think I tend to gloss over those background details, unless I haven't read anything in that series for awhile.

Jun 21, 2011, 7:05pm Top

Maybe a bit of both, Linda. Whatever the reason, the first book in a series is rarely my favorite. In later books, the background is nice when there's some time between books, but when I'm reading a series straight through, I don't spend much on it.

I often find the opposite with trilogies or books that have a single sequel. Then it's usually the first book that I like the best.

Jun 24, 2011, 12:53pm Top

43. The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway, 3 1/2*
Category: World History

During the Siege of Sarajevo, 22 people were killed while they stood in line to buy bread. On each of the following 22 days, a cellist sat in the crater and played. That much is true history, and Steven Galloway's book is an imagining of the lives of 3 Sarajevans during the siege, and the effect on them of both the siege and the cellist's tribute.

I thought the book was okay. My personal preference would have been more history and less internal agonizing. At times, the characters and their reactions didn't ring true for me, but I could be wrong; I wasn't there, but neither was Steven Galloway, although he apparently did quite a lot of research. Although I wanted to sympathize with these ordinary people who found themselves in an incredibly awful situation, I just didn't feel much of a connection with them, despite the extensive descriptions of their thoughts and feelings.

I like Mr Galloway's writing style, though I thought at times he was trying too hard to be "literary." The result for me was being distracted from the story to appreciate (or not) his literary acumen, some awkward sentences, a few incomprehensible sentences. I don't know what to say about the bad grammar.

Jul 2, 2011, 1:02pm Top

June Recap

Only 7 books again in June, and I don't even have the excuse of long books, but I did finish a book at 2 am on July 1. My reading is really down this year, but I'm averaging 7 per month so I'm on track for completing my 7/11 goal.

My favorite for the month was Catching Fire, the 2nd book in Suzanne Collins Hunger Games trilogy. I liked all the others, too, though I was disappointed in Rick Riordan's The Red Pyramid.

1. History in the Making (4/7)

2. British History (3/7)

3. British Mystery (9/7) -- 7 COMPLETED

4. World History (4/7)
~~ Books 4 & 5 of The Landmark Thucydides
~~ The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway

5. World Mystery (1/7)

6. U.S. History (3/7)

7. Southern U.S. Mystery (0/7)

8. Eastern U.S. Mystery (5/7)
~~ State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy
~~ Hail to the Chef by Julie Hyzy

9. Other Mystery (3/7)
~~ Heartsick by Chelsea Cain

10. History That Never Was (8/7) -- 7 COMPLETED
~~ The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
~~ Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
~~ Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

11. Children of Yesteryear (3/7)

Favorite Books of the 1st half of 2011:
(a lot of favorites, out of 43 books, and surprisingly heavy on fantasy/dystopia)

The Passage by Justin Cronin
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
World War Z by Max Brooks

Maisie Dobbs series, by Jacqueline Winspear
A Marked Man by Barbara Hamilton
White House series, by Julie Hyzy

The White Cascade by Gary Krist
A Safe Place for Women by Kelly White

Children / YA:
The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell

Jul 2, 2011, 9:52pm Top

You've been reading some great books this year, a few are on my favorites list. I am really excited that thanks to the TIOLI challenges, I am finally going to read Maisie Dobbs this month. I feel like it's been on my wishlist forever.

Jul 2, 2011, 11:36pm Top

>160 DeltaQueen50: I'm reading Maisie Dobbs this month as well. It's been on my TBR pile only since May, so I feel kind of bad for skipping so many books that have been on there for years. But it fits my Names category, which is harder to fill than I originally thought when I planned the category.

Jul 4, 2011, 12:35pm Top

>160 DeltaQueen50: & 161 I hope you both enjoy Maisie Dobbs! I really liked the first book, enough that I was eager to read the 2nd -- and the first book has background that you need for the whole series -- but it was the 2nd book that really hooked me on the series. And they continue to get better.

I've read some really good books this year, Judy. One of the changes that LT has brought about is that I'm choosing most of my books based on recommendations and reviews here. I still make an occasional impulse selection, or learn about a book from another source -- and sometimes I don't agree with the general consensus on LT -- but the pure randomness of my choices is gone.

Jul 4, 2011, 12:36pm Top

Happy 4th of July! We're off to the rodeo this evening.

Jul 4, 2011, 1:07pm Top

I know what you mean about book choices. I have a category called Random Recommendations, but really, pretty much all of my reading these days is of books that I found out about here on LT. It's broadened my horizon, and, I think, made me a much more thoughtful reader.

Have fun at the rodeo!

Edited: Jul 5, 2011, 12:48pm Top

The rodeo was fun, as usual. We got to see an 88 point bull ride (tying the arena record), and the steer wrestling was won by an English professor from Calgary -- wish I'd had professors like that! And there was a nice fireworks display at the end, accompanied by very loud patriotic country music.

Jul 5, 2011, 11:35pm Top

Sounds like the perfect 4th of July.

Jul 9, 2011, 1:16pm Top

I'm way behind on posting, and reading threads too. So far for July:

44. The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig, 3*
Category: World Mystery

This book was not what I expected: far more romance and less history and mystery. I liked it, but I thought Amy was rather silly, and I'm not a fan of silly young women. I loved Jane, and hope to see more of her in later books.

45. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, 4*
Category: History That Never Was

What an interesting book! I loved the pictures and the stories of the children. I also thought it had some depth -- a coming-of-age story of sorts. I hope there will be more books about the Peculiar Children.

46. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, 5*
Category: World History

I think it's been close to 40 years since I last read this book. I read it 3 or 4 times in my late teens and early twenties, and for many years claimed it as one of my favorite books. I still think it's wonderful, but it doesn't speak to me now as it did then, and I was surprised to find that it is less polished than I remember. It is, nevertheless, a mammoth accomplishment for a young man in his mid-20s, and Jake and Brett are some of the finest characters in literature.

I just realized that all 3 of these books are first novels of young writers.

Jul 21, 2011, 1:56pm Top

47. The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer, 5*
Category: World History

It's 1937, and Andras Levi is a young Hungarian Jew who has just won a scholarship to architectural school in Paris. From our perspective, we know that his situation is perilous, and this knowledge adds to the tension in the book. The book is, though, more than a war story -- from the interesting and less known perspective of Hungary's part in WW II -- and picture of despair and horror that rivals any imagined future apocalypse. It's also a love story, a coming-of-age story, and a story about families (and there is one more theme I could add, but won't since I think it would be a spoiler -- at least, I wouldn't want to know it before reading the book.)

This book is the kind of historical fiction that I'm always hoping for: beautifully drawn characters that are so real that it's hard to believe they're fictional; precise and detailed settings that make you feel you are there; complete and understandable explanations of events and politics, so that I didn't have to go running to wikipedia to find out what was going on; an elegant, straight forward writing style; an engrossing story. It could easily have been 3 times as long, and I would happily have read it all; the book's biggest flaw, in my opinion, is that the last couple of sections moved through time and events too quickly, so that some passages read more like straight history than being fully integrated with the story.

I'll be recommending this book to just about everyone I know.

Jul 21, 2011, 2:50pm Top

The Invisible Bridge is one of my favorites of this year as well.

Jul 21, 2011, 3:02pm Top

Thanks for your review of The Invisible Bridge. Every so often I get into a WWII mood and this looks like it will fit the bill.

Jul 21, 2011, 4:56pm Top

>169 DeltaQueen50: Judy, I think it was your review that prompted me to read it. Thanks!!

>170 VictoriaPL: Victoria, WW II is a time/subject that continues to draw me, too. I don't think this book will disappoint you!

Jul 21, 2011, 5:33pm Top

I agree. The Invisible Bridge is one of my top books of the year. I've already recommended it to many people!

Jul 22, 2011, 1:18pm Top

>172 thornton37814: Well, maybe it was your review that made me think I'd like it, Lori! Actually, I'm pretty sure I read more than one rave review, but I just don't remember whose -- it makes sense, though, that if both you and Judy praised the book, I'd figure that I'd almost certainly like it. So thanks to you, too!

Jul 24, 2011, 1:28pm Top

48. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (Newbery Medal 1990), 5*
Category: Children of Yesteryear

A lovely and touching little book that explores the situation in Denmark in 1943. Annemarie Johansen is 10 years old and must exhibit courage that she didn't know she had in order to save her best friend Ellen Rosen.

As with books I've previously read by Lois Lowry, I'm amazed by her ability to so concisely yet fully describe settings and develop character. Number the Stars is well-deserving of its Newbery Medal, but although adults can appreciate the book, I think it is clearly a children's book.

Jul 24, 2011, 4:03pm Top

>174 ivyd: That is a great book! I read it years ago.

Jul 27, 2011, 1:53pm Top

49. Smash Cut by Sandra Brown, 3 1/2*
Category: Southern Mystery

Even though my preference is for cozies or classic mysteries, there are several authors of thriller-type mysteries that I've read and enjoyed. I hadn't read any of Sandra Brown's books, but a friend of my daughter loaned me this book and wanted to know what I thought. It definitely falls into the category of popular fiction: an excellent, exciting, page-turning plot with plenty of twists and turns that I didn't see coming; mostly one-dimensional characterizations, but with interesting and/or likable characters; adequately written.

The book is set in Atlanta, and features an egotistical and not-very-nice millionaire, a 30-something art gallery owner who is involved with the uncle of the millionaire, and a successful defense attorney. Someone is murdered in the first few pages. And I really can't say much more without spoilers.

I enjoyed the book, and I'd like to read more of Ms Brown's books when I'm in the mood for some light but engrossing fiction -- just the right kind of book for a long airplane flight or a hot summer day (which we don't seem to be having this year). She apparently has written quite a few books, but I think they're stand-alone books, not a series.

Jul 30, 2011, 2:28pm Top

~~ Book 6 of The Landmark Thucydides
Category: World History

I'm still plugging along on this, not finding it terribly interesting, but really glad to finally read the original account that so much of 2500 years of literature and history is based on. I really should have read it years ago.

50. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson, 5*
Category: British History

A completely delightful little story! Ms Watson is an acute observer of human nature, and has a real gift for dialogue. The situation is somewhat dated, and there are some minor instances of prejudice, but this Cinderella story is still a real pleasure to read. I understand that this book is quite different from Ms Watson's other 5 books, but I think I'd like to read the others, too.

Jul 30, 2011, 10:03pm Top

Yay for Miss Pettigrew! I read it last year and absolutely loved it. Such a charming, feel-good story!

Edited: Jul 31, 2011, 6:14am Top

Catching up on threads after doing very little LT:ing in july. I was happy to see another positive for Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, which sparked my curiosity when Lori reviewed it a while back. And Invisible bridge sounds like something to look out for.

Jul 31, 2011, 1:05pm Top

Miss Pettigrew and Miss Peregrine are moving up my wishlist - they both sound intriguing for completely different reasons.

Jul 31, 2011, 1:12pm Top

Have you seen the Miss Pettigrew movie? It's only somewhat like the book, but it's equally delightful. I read Miss Pettigrew earlier this year and loved it.

Jul 31, 2011, 3:13pm Top

>178 christina_reads: It's definitely a book to brighten one's day, Christina!

>179 GingerbreadMan: Good to see you back, Anders! Miss Peregrine is indeed unusual, very original. And I highly recommend The Invisible Bridge as really, really good historical fiction.

>180 DeltaQueen50: I suspect you will enjoy both Miss Peregrine and Miss Pettigrew, Judy. And you're right -- except for similarity in titles and the British settings, they couldn't be more different!

>181 casvelyn: I've not seen the movie, casvelyn, but will be on the lookout for it. I did see a play production of it many years ago, but so long ago that I only remembered that it was witty and funny and well done. It's easy to see how the book would translate well to a play or movie; I'll be interested to see the differences.

Jul 31, 2011, 4:32pm Top

51. Whirligig House by Anna Rose Wright, 4*
Category: Children of Yesteryear

I first read this book when I was about 9 or 10 years old (and haven't read it since). It is a charming story of 5 siblings, aged 7-13 years old, whose mother becomes ill, and has to be hospitalized for a lengthy time: consumption, I would guess, though the nature of her illness is not specified. Mrs Wright's children's books are mostly only slightly fictionalized accounts of her own childhood or of her children's; she also wrote non-fiction adult books about her foster children, under the name Anna Perrott Rose. This one (published 1951) is based on her own childhood (she was born in 1890), though the time period is (rather carefully) not identified: a bus is mentioned and they have a telephone, but neither carriages nor automobiles are mentioned at all.

When I was 9-12, having only 1 sister who was 4 years younger, I was fascinated with stories of large families: Five Little Peppers, All-of-a-Kind Family, Little Women, Cheaper By the Dozen, some others that I don't now recall. Mrs Wright's more famous book Summer at Buckhorn -- which was a standard read-by-the-teacher-after-lunch book in the 1950s -- and Whirligig House fit right in.

I'm not sure why Mrs Wright's books are now out of print. She understands children, and a child's view of the world, and is so wise about raising children (more specifically adressed in her non-fiction books, but apparent in the children's fiction) that I think every parent should read her books. And I don't really understand why today's children, with mostly smaller families, wouldn't be as fascinated as I was with the interactions and workings of large families; a book really doesn't have to include magic to appeal to children. My granddaughter, anyway, loved All-of-a-Kind Family.

So... I enjoyed this book, and recommend it for grade school aged children and all parents -- if you can find it, that is, which isn't easy.

Aug 2, 2011, 12:40pm Top

July Recap

What an amazing reading month, with 4 5-star books, a fascinating and original new novel, 2 enjoyable mysteries, and another delightful children's book! I can't really choose a favorite for the month, since each of the 5* books was very different from the others and earned its rating for very different reasons, but I suppose I'm most excited about Julie Orringer's excellent historical novel, The Invisible Bridge. There were no "losers."

1. History in the Making (4/7)

2. British History (4/7)
~~ Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson

3. British Mystery (9/7) -- 7 COMPLETED

4. World History (6/7)
~~ The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
~~ The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer
~~ Book 6 of The Landmark Thucydides

5. World Mystery (2/7)
~~ The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig

6. U.S. History (3/7)

7. Southern U.S. Mystery (1/7)
~~ Smash Cut by Sandra Brown

8. Eastern U.S. Mystery (5/7)

9. Other Mystery (3/7)

10. History That Never Was (9/7) -- 7 COMPLETED
~~ Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

11. Children of Yesteryear (5/7)
~~ Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
~~ Whirligig House by Anna Rose Wright

Edited: Aug 5, 2011, 1:04pm Top


~~ Book 7 of The Landmark Thucydides
Category: World History

I got interested in Athens' attempt to subdue Sicily, right in the middle of its war with Sparta, and went right on with Book 7 to see what happened. I think this book is my favorite.

Edited: Aug 9, 2011, 1:55pm Top

52. King Lear by William Shakespeare, 5*
Category: British History

What a magnificent play! Every time I read Macbeth or King Lear or Othello, I think, yep, that's my favorite! So I don't really know which one it is, but it's not Hamlet, though I know that many scholars view it as his finest.

This time through I was particularly interested in how he turned the legendary story into a tragedy, and by the one-dimensional characterizations of Lear's daughters -- either completely evil and immoral, or saintly and almost Christ-like.

Aug 9, 2011, 1:03pm Top

I just reread The Mirror of Her Dreams and A Man Rides Through, the two books that make up Stephen R. Donaldson’s Mordant’s Need duology. Until I read your post, I had never considered the parallels between the two and King Lear. Don’t worry, I not going write a critical essay on the connections – I just wanted to let you know that your post was thought provoking!

Aug 9, 2011, 1:46pm Top

>187 Dejah_Thoris: Very interesting, Dejah! I haven't read the Donaldson books, but you've made me curious, so I've added them to my wishlist. And if you should write that critical essay, I'd be interested in reading it!

Aug 9, 2011, 4:53pm Top

>186 ivyd:-188

Ivy –

I should warn you that people either really love or really hate the books of Mordant’s Need - I obviously think they’re wonderful.

What seems to be the most common complaint / reason to stop reading is that the main female character, Terisa, is incredible passive. For me, these books have a tremendous fairy tale quality to them (if that isn’t too absurd in reference to a pair of books which run over 1100+ pages). Terisa has been abused and repressed by her evil father since her birth – children should ideally be neither seen nor heard – to the point that Terisa isn’t entirely certain she actually exists. She’s a princess sleepwalking through life and a major point of the book is how she chooses to change her life. You have to stick with her, though; she takes a while to get going.

As for the King Lear connection, there’s a king with three daughters. Once a powerful and commanding man he’s been slowing slipping into madness and unable/unwilling to take the actions necessary to save his nation from threats foreign and domestic. I don’t want to give away too much, but the daughters make choices out of frustration and despair over their father’s inaction. I’m certain that Donaldson had King Lear in mind when he wrote parts of Mordant’s Need, but he doesn’t continue to a tragic end. In addition, while the King and two of the daughters are important characters they are not as central as Terisa and Geraden, the Apprentice Imager who brings Terisa to his world.

Like Terisa, Geraden is a character who hasn’t yet come into his own. He’s a failure at his chosen profession and an accident waiting to happen, but he manages to persevere. Another fairy tale quality to these books is that the story ends well for almost all the nice characters; not everyone makes it, but the good guys definitely win. I have a real sense of satisfaction when I finish The Mirror of Her Dreams and A Man Rides Through.

As for the Lear/Mordant critical essay, well, I don’t think that will be happening any time soon – I suspect you’d be the only person who’d be kind enough to read it!

Aug 10, 2011, 12:59pm Top

>189 Dejah_Thoris: Thanks for all the information, Dejah! The King Lear connection is very interesting; perhaps he based his interpretation on Geoffrey of Monmouth's story rather than Shakespeare's?

I seem to be reading a lot of fantasy recently, and have enjoyed most of it (sometimes, to my surprise). These books sound really interesting, and they're definitely now on my wishlist, but I'm not sure when I'll get to them; I'm trying very hard this year to reduce the stacks of books I already have (though I'm only partially succeeding).

Edited: Aug 12, 2011, 2:16pm Top

53. The Fatal Touch by Conor Fitzgerald, 3*
Category: World Mystery

A series of muggings is plaguing the foreign guests of Rome hotels, but when Irish-born Henry Treacy is found dead, it appears that he may not have been a random victim, but that his career as an art forger may instead have led to his death. Commissioner Alec Blume and his newly appointed assistant Caterina Mattiola are at work on the case in this 2nd book of Fitzgerald's mystery series.

The details of art forgery and art theft are fascinating -- and for me, the best part of the book and what saves it from being a 2* book -- even though they are primarily presented somewhat awkwardly though pedantic conversations and excerpts from Treacy's notebooks. My biggest difficulty with the book, however, was the plodding, meandering plot, so obfuscated that through most of the book I wasn't even sure what the mystery was.

Aug 13, 2011, 1:19pm Top

54. A Stranger in Mayfair by Charles Finch (Charles Lenox #4), 4*
Category: British Mystery

I always love it when I can see a new, often (but not always) young, author develop confidence and polish as they continue to write. I've really enjoyed all of the Charles Lenox mysteries, but I think Finch has reached a new level with this installment, and it is (so far) my favorite of the series.

Set in England in 1867, this book involves the death of a footman, and quite a bit more, but I can't really say much without spoilers of the backstory. Although it could be read as a stand-alone -- and Finch does a nice job of presenting pertinent facts from earlier books -- the books should be read in order to avoid spoilers of Lenox's story.

Aug 13, 2011, 3:27pm Top

I agree with your comments about Finch's Charles Lenox series. I have enjoyed the series so far and look forward to book #5 - A Burial at Sea - that is listed on fantastic fiction's website as coming out this fall (November).

Aug 13, 2011, 7:25pm Top

#192 Glad to hear that you enjoyed the Finch book, Ivy. After spending the day in Oregon, Oregon, IL that is, I'm pooped but should, finally, at long last, finish my other mystery so I can start the Finch book.

I have nothing planned for Sunday so I will probably get a lot of reading in tomorrow, for the first time in quite awhile.

Aug 14, 2011, 12:30am Top

I'm glad A Stranger in Mayfair is good! My paperback copy finally arrived in the mail last week...hopefully I'll be able to fit it into my challenge somehow!

Aug 14, 2011, 2:32pm Top

>193 lkernagh:-195

I also waited for the paperback of A Stranger in Mayfair, Christina.

But since I want to read the next one right now, I think I'll watch for a good discount on the hardback of A Burial at Sea. Sometimes, with a discount and a % off coupon, it's only a dollar or 2 more than the paperback -- and I don't have to wait a year!

Linda and Christina, I hope you enjoy it as much as Lori and I have!

Aug 15, 2011, 2:13pm Top

55. Murder Most Persuasive by Tracy Kiely (Elizabeth Parker #3), 3*
Category: Eastern US Mystery

Elizabeth Parker's cousins have recently inherited the proceeds from the sale of their father's home in St Michael's, MD, but their ditzy stepmother doesn't want to turn the money over to them. Then the new owners discover a body buried under the swimming pool, which was built 8 years earlier, and it turns out that pretty much everyone has a motive for murder.

The story line is apparently based on Jane Austen's Persuasion, a book I've not read (though I looked up a plot summary), so I undoubtedly missed some important similarities, though I enjoyed the quotations from Austen, Shakespeare and others. I thought the mystery plot was quite well done, and although the quirky characters had no real depth, I found them interesting and sometimes amusing.

The book, however, is a strange combination of snobbery coupled with sophomoric use of cliches, trite phrasing and 21st century jargon. But what I disliked most was the main character's constant nasty, jealous denigration of the others, including children and animals, for their looks, accomplishments and characters. While people's foibles can indeed be amusing, there is a big difference between unpleasantly belittling them and kindly showing the humor in their actions.

Edited: Aug 20, 2011, 3:17pm Top

56. King Arthur and His Knights by Sir James Knowles
Category: British History

This re-telling of the Arthurian saga is quite old, originally published in 1861. According the the Preface of my 1923 edition, Tennyson had at that time (1861) published the first 4 books of "Idylls of the King," and Sir James' book led to a deep friendship between the two and influenced the completion of Tennyson's "Idylls."

As for this book, Sir James says, "It is little else than an abridgment of Sir Thomas Malory's version of them as printed by Caxton -- with a few additions from Geoffrey of Monmouth and other sources -- and an endeavour to arrange the many tales into a more or less consecutive story."

The content that Sir James chose to include is rather gory, with many heads clove in two and gushing streams of blood, in the continual wars, challenges, and jousts. The circumstances of Arthur's conception, his relationships with his half-sisters, Lancelot's affair with Guinevere, and other sexual matters were glossed over (Victorian sensibilities?). He nevertheless includes the most well-known stories, including of course the Grail legend, and I have to wonder if perhaps his choices have contributed in part to those stories being so well known, since his book was apparently frequently republished for more than 50 years after its first appearance.

I appreciated that Sir James made little or no attempt to reconcile contradictory elements in the tales or to logically explain the magical elements. I also loved the style: as a sort of half-way point between the Middle English of Malory and modern English, the archaic phrasing and word use was easily understandable and read almost like poetry.

Edited: Aug 23, 2011, 2:17pm Top

~~ "Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Shelley's sonnet is referenced in The White Mountains, so I had to hunt up the poem.

57. The White Mountains by John Christopher (Tripods Trilogy #1), 4*
Category: History That Never Was

I enjoyed this little book and will almost certainly complete the series. The plot is rather ordinary and predictable: machines have taken over the world, and 13-year-old Will embarks on a quest to find the remnants of civilization who are not enslaved by the Tripods. But it is well written and well paced with likable and interesting characters.

This trilogy was originally published in the mid 1960s, and it reflects sci fi trends of the 50s and 60s; it also seems to me that some of the more recent children's sci fi (Lois Lowry, Suzanne Collins) may have been influenced by these books.

Aug 25, 2011, 12:29pm Top

58. The City of Gold and Lead by John Christopher (Tripods Trilogy #2), 4*
Category: History That Never Was -- CATEGORY COMPLETE

In this 2nd book of the trilogy, Will and his comrades are sent on a mission and we learn quite a bit more about the Tripods.

I'm still really enjoying this and I'm eager to find out how it ends, but I won't have access to the 3rd book for a couple of weeks.

Aug 31, 2011, 3:32pm Top

~~ The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger, 3*
Category: History in the Making

Interesting. I liked the first part very much, but then it turned... odd?

Edited: Sep 1, 2011, 2:44pm Top

59. Exploring King Arthur's Britain by Denise Stobie
Category: British History -- 7 COMPLETED

This is a coffee table type book that I picked up from the bargain sheves at Barnes & Noble about 10 years ago. The photographs of Cornwall and Somerset -- and particularly those of Glastonbury -- are lovely. I'd looked at the pictures many times, but hadn't read the text until now, and was surprised to find how much information Ms Stobie was able to pack into such a brief text. She shows competing locations for the Arthurian tales, discusses differences in versions of the tales, mentions archeological discoveries, and references very early sources, as well as providing a brief re-telling of the Arthurian saga.

Sep 1, 2011, 3:19pm Top

August Recap

Favorites: King Lear is still one of my favorites of Shakespeare's plays; and I loved A Stranger in Mayfair, the best yet in Charles Finch's series (all of which I've enjoyed).

Least Favorites: Unfortunately, I didn't find the 2 ER books The Fatal Touch and Murder Most Persuasive to my taste. They're not bad books -- although far from outstanding, in my opinion -- but I'm not interested in continuing the series of either one. The Night Bookmobile left me shaking my head...

And then, thanks to calm's TIOLI challenge, I got back into King Arthur and pretty much abandoned all my other planned reads for August. I'm now in the midst of 3 very long / slow books. I still think I'll probably complete my 7/11 goal, but my categories are becoming ever more unbalanced.

1. History in the Making (4/7)
~~ The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger

2. British History (7/7) -- 7 COMPLETED
~~ King Lear by William Shakespeare
~~ King Arthur and His Knights by Sir James Knowles
~~ Exploring King Arthur's Britain by Denise Stobie

3. British Mystery (10/7) -- 7 COMPLETED
~~ A Stranger in Mayfair by Charles Finch

4. World History (6/7)
~~ Book 7 of The Landmark Thucydides

5. World Mystery (3/7)
~~ The Fatal Touch by Conor Fitzgerald

6. U.S. History (3/7)

7. Southern U.S. Mystery (1/7)

8. Eastern U.S. Mystery (6/7)
~~ Murder Most Persuasive by Tracy Kiely

9. Other Mystery (3/7)

10. History That Never Was (11/7) -- 11 COMPLETED
~~ The White Mountains by John Christopher
~~ The City of Gold and Lead by John Christopher

11. Children of Yesteryear (5/7)

Sep 8, 2011, 1:40pm Top

60. The Landmark Thucydides
Category: World History

I'm really, really glad to be done; I'm also glad that I finally read this seminal work of western civilization. I can't count how many times that I've run across references to Herodotus or Thucydides; it's nice to know, at long last, what they're talking about.

The trouble for me with Thucydides is that it is essentially a military history. I have little interest in military tactics or operations except as it relates to the people making the decisions or its effect on people in general. Thucydides very infrequently gives personal history or comments on personality or character, and even when he does, it's usually only as it relates to the military actions. While I didn't find Herodotus any easier to read, I did enjoy his human interest stories and recounting of rumors.

I'm grateful for the group reads of Herodotus and Thucydides. I'm not sure that I would have ever made it through without them.

Edited: Sep 15, 2011, 9:55am Top

With the year 2/3 done, and the 12 in 12 set up so that I can transfer books to next year (some of them for the 2nd or 3rd time!), it's time to set up a plan to finish my 7/11 goal for 2011.

1. History in the Making -- need 3
A trio of coming-of-age novels:
~~ The Catcher in the Rye
~~ Marjorie Morningstar
~~ Black Swan Green
~~ unread ER book
~~ The Lost Symbol
~~ The Last Song

2. British History -- 7 completed
3. British Mystery -- 7 completed
4. World History -- 7 completed

5. World Mystery -- need 4
~~ first 2 Amelia Peabody mysteries
~~ next 2 Alexander McCall Smith mysteries

6. U.S. History -- need 4 3
~~ Beloved -- reading
~~ Seabiscuit -- read September
~~ My Antonia
~~ ? perhaps New York

7. Southern U.S. Mystery -- need 6! 5
~~ Chill Factor -- read September
~~ another Sandra Brown
~~ A Free Man of Color
~~ **Christmas Mourning
~~ **continue with Laura Childs, Carolyn Hart or (assuming I like the 1st one) Barbara Hambly

8. Eastern U.S. Mystery -- need 1
~~ Eggsecutive Orders
~~ the next J.D. Robb

9. Other Mystery -- need 4
~~ A Trick of the Light -- reading
~~ Sweetheart
~~ Evil at Heart
~~ ** Gingerbread Cookie Murder

10. History That Never Was -- 11 completed

11. Children of Yesteryear -- need 2
~~ Laughing Gulls
~~ ** The Twenty-One Balloons

** Don't have these; all the others are sitting on my shelves or in stacks on the floor.

That's 24 books to go, 6 per month. I should be able to do that, especially since so many of them are mysteries. The only problem is getting distracted and over-reading some categories and neglecting others.

Sept 15: need 22

Sep 8, 2011, 3:52pm Top

Sounds like a good plan, Ivy. When I get to 30 or 40 to go, I like to lay out a list for each category.

Of course, they're always changing but still, it helps give me a nudge in the right direction.

I notice that you keeping bumping that Rutherfurd book, New York, every year, too. I've been vowing to read that one for the past three years, I think.

Sep 8, 2011, 6:00pm Top

Gingerbread Cookie murder makes me a tad nervous...

Sep 9, 2011, 1:23pm Top

>206 lindapanzo: Yes, I know it will change; I'm already thinking of books that I didn't list that I almost certainly will be reading soon, but it does help to see a possible plan for finishing.

I've stuck to my resolution this year not to avoid longer books in the interest of filling in the slots, even though it's reduced the number of books. But I still haven't gotten to New York -- and it may be next year before I do!

>207 GingerbreadMan: Very funny, Anders! But fortunately Joanne Fluke doesn't murder her cookies... in fact, the recipes that I've tried have been very good!

Sep 9, 2011, 11:37pm Top

Ivy -
I noticed a few books that are on my list or I've read.

The Lost Symbol - I'm finally going to read this one this month.
I read The Last Song in June... have tissues ready.
Eggsecutive Orders - a great addition to the series!
I've only read the first Amelia Peabody, but I was favorably impressed.
Lastly, unfortunately, since there wasn't an ER offering of A Trick of the Light, I will wait until I can get it from the library, hopefully early next year.

Sep 10, 2011, 2:08pm Top

>209 cyderry: I noticed a few books that are on my list or I've read.

That's because I keep adding books based on your reviews, Cheli!

I've been meaning to get to The Lost Symbol for a long time. But I don't think I'll get to it this month... I currently have 6 (!!!) books in progress! I usually have 2 books going, and often 3, but rarely more than that. I think I need to finish at least a couple of them before I start into another one.

I just couldn't wait for A Trick of the Light and bought it in hardcover. It will probably be my next book.

Sep 12, 2011, 12:10pm Top

Once I finish the Doris Kearns Goodwin book, Ivy, I'm planning to move on to the new Louise Penny mystery.

Probably in the next few days.

Sep 12, 2011, 12:28pm Top

61. Chill Factor by Sandra Brown, 4*
Category: Southern US Mystery

During a massive snow storm, Lilly Martin finds herself stranded with Ben Tierney in a mountain cabin. She'd met him previously, but knows little about him, and five women have disappeared from the nearby town of Cleary, North Carolina, where Lilly's ex-husband Dutch Burton has recently become police chief. Who can be trusted?

Sandra Brown's books are a combination of thriller-type mystery and chick lit romance. She is a master of plotting, and the twists and turns kept me quickly turning pages to find out what happened.

Sep 12, 2011, 12:39pm Top

>211 lindapanzo: Hi, Linda! I expect to start A Trick of the Light this week. I needed to read and return the Sandra Brown book; now that's taken care of. And I'm almost done with Seabiscuit (and still loving it), so I plan to finish it and may finish Beloved for the group read before I start the Louise Penny. Of course, that leaves 3 other books that I'm still reading as well, but I don't think I can wait much longer.

Sep 13, 2011, 7:13pm Top

I'm so excited. I get to start my Louise Penny tonight. I wish I'd had more time to read over the weekend, but I had too much going on. We had the big "choir workshop" for our Living Christmas Tree that took most of the morning on Saturday. I've been dealing with my father's health. My sister-in-law fell off a ladder and broke her shoulder. I was tied up all day Sunday between church and a community 9/11 service. I finally found time to finish the book I'd begun last night after I got off work at 9 p.m. I hope I have fewer distractions during my Louise Penny read. I'm determined to get through these LibraryThing threads before I let myself begin . . . but it's hard to not just leave them all unread for awhile longer.

Sep 14, 2011, 1:28pm Top

>214 thornton37814: You had a really busy and difficult weekend, Lori! I hope things are now going better with your father and sister-in-law.

As for reading threads, I'm afraid I'm hopelessly behind. I keep trying to catch up, but I'm not sure I'll manage it.

I finished Seabiscuit last night (a wonderful book, comments to come sometime today) and started A Trick of the Light. I was on page 6 when I felt that comfortable satisfaction of being with old friends and the thrill of knowing that the book is going to be great.

Sep 15, 2011, 9:27am Top

62. Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand, 5*
Category: US History

A marvellous story of hope and courage, beautifully told. Ms Hillenbrand's research was extensive and included obscure written materials and many interviews of participants -- just before those impressions and stories were lost forever. But the genius of her book is that it isn't a cobbling together of those materials and memories, but told as a continuous story of the magnificent racehorse who captured the hearts of Americans during the Great Depression, and of his jockeys, his trainer, and his owners.

Thanks to lindapanzo for her suggestion of this book!

Edited: Sep 16, 2011, 3:02pm Top

63. A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny (Inspector Gamache #7), 4 1/2*
Category: Other Mystery

We're back in Three Pines in this installment, with the cast of characters who have become my friends, too. And this book again is about art, and art shows and art dealers, which I find interesting. And, as always with Louise Penny, there are deeper themes being explored: light and dark, hope and despair, cruelty and kindness, amends and forgiveness.

I thought the mystery was good, though not outstanding, but I think that the reason I'm so enthralled with this series is the depth of character and the insights into human nature. It's not a 5* book for me because of an assumption that I think she's making (I can't be more specific without spoilers). But she certainly has caused me to think about it, and her characters are struggling with it too; I'm eager to see where she goes in the next book.

Sep 19, 2011, 1:11pm Top

64. Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters (Amelia Peabody #1), 3 1/2*
Category: World Mystery

Amelia Peabody is a delightful character! I love the setting -- Egypt in 1880 -- and although I had the mystery almost completely solved long before the end, I look forward to continuing this series.

Edited: Sep 22, 2011, 2:30pm Top

65. Beloved by Toni Morrison, 4*
Category: US History

I don't really know what to say, or what to think, about this book. It's different than any book I've ever read; it's difficult -- because of the subject matter, and to a lesser extent because of the writing style and construction (which is beautifully done); it's powerful and disturbing; it's undoubtedly an important book, probably even a great book. But I didn't enjoy it very much; hence, the 4* rating of what is probably a 5* book, because after all, ratings are subjective.

At its simplest, it's the story of Sethe, a slave who escaped to Ohio in 1855; eighteen years later, her early experiences are still part of her life and identity. There's a ghost, but it's not a ghost story. It is, instead, an exploration of the meaning of freedom, and its cost and value. But there are layers and layers of meaning in this book; I feel that I should read it again to try to understand some of it... but I'm not at all sure that I will.

Edited: Oct 4, 2011, 2:33pm Top

66. The Curse of the Pharoahs by Elizabeth Peters (Amelia Peabody #2), 3 1/2*
Category: World Mystery

I'm still enjoying this series and am eager for the next one, which I should have in hand sometime this week. Apropros of Lori (thornton)'s comments about modern women plopped into historical situations, I have some doubts about Amelia having behaved and thought as Ms Peters describes, but she is nevertheless a charming character. And I'm really enjoying the information about Egypt, which I assume is accurate since Ms Peters / Mertz has a Ph.D. in Egyptology.

I hadn't realized that Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels are both pseudonyms of Barbara Mertz. Back in the 1970s & 1980s, during my gothic romance period, I read several of the Barbara Michaels books, but not any Elizabeth Peters -- that I recall, anyway.

67. Maus I: A Survivor's Tale (My Father Bleeds History) by Art Spiegelman, 5*
Category: World History

Brilliant! About as close to perfect, on several different levels, as it can get. I hope to have Part II soon.

Sep 27, 2011, 1:44pm Top

68. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, 5*
Category: US History

I love this book.

After some deliberation, I decided to put this book in my US History category. First, because of its effect on those who reached adolescence between 1950 and 1970. And second, and more importantly, because the world of 1951 doesn't exist anymore. I had suspected this was the case, from reading some of the comments of younger readers, who "just don't get it," and it was one of the reasons that I wanted to read it again. In my opinion, the book a true classic, with Holden's questions of adolescence and attempts to cope with tragedy transcending time and place. However, I can also understand today's teenagers being unable to identify with Holden and, for example, his concern with not wearing a tie on the streets of New York.

My well-worn copy (though not as decrepit as you might expect) says on the cover that it cost 75 cents.

Sep 28, 2011, 2:31pm Top

69. The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes (Newbery Honor Book 1945), 4*
Category: Children of Yesteryear

Wanda is a little Polish immigrant who wears the same faded blue dress to school every day. But when she claims to have a hundred dresses lined up in her closet, she becomes a target for schoolyard teasing.

The specific circumstances in this story are somewhat dated, but the concepts are still fully applicable today. The "lesson" is obvious -- too obvious, in my opinion -- but it's a good lesson and a good book for early grade school age. I'll be immediately passing it on to my second-grade granddaughter, and I expect that she will like it.

Edited: Oct 4, 2011, 2:36pm Top

September Recap

September was my best reading month this year in terms of number (10 books), and it was also outstanding in quality. I think I most enjoyed A Trick of the Light, but they were all great, each for its own reasons.

1. History in the Making (4/7)

2. British History (7/7) -- 7 COMPLETED

3. British Mystery (10/7) -- 7 COMPLETED

4. World History (8/7) -- 7 COMPLETED
~~ The Landmark Thucydides
~~ Maus I: A Survivor's Tale by Art Spiegelman

5. World Mystery (5/7)
~~ Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters
~~ The Curse of the Pharoahs by Elizabeth Peters

6. U.S. History (6/7)
~~ Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand
~~ Beloved by Toni Morrison
~~ The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

7. Southern U.S. Mystery (2/7)
~~ Chill Factor by Sandra Brown

8. Eastern U.S. Mystery (6/7)

9. Other Mystery (4/7)
~~ A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny

10. History That Never Was (11/7) -- 11 COMPLETED

11. Children of Yesteryear (6/7)
~~ The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes

Oct 4, 2011, 2:39pm Top

I've continued my 11 in 11 Challenge (my 7/11 Challenge, that is) on a new thread:


Group: The 11 in 11 Category Challenge

193 members

23,202 messages


This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.




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