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Lori's Wonderful World of Reading for 2012 - Part 2

The 12 in 12 Category Challenge

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1lkernagh
Edited: Sep 23, 2012, 9:44pm Top

Lori's Wonderful World of Reading for 2012

Previous threads:
The Warm-up Thread
Part 1

Spring has been slow in coming to my area of the world this year so I will bring spring to the thread with the following picture found on Flickr:


Butchart Gardens, Victoria BC
Lile Hattori




The Categories:

1. Don't know much about history - Historical Fiction pre-1945
2. Don't know much biology - Medical discovery/illness as a theme (Fiction or Non-Fiction)
3. Don't know much about a science book - Science as a theme (Fiction or Non-Fiction) that does not fall under Medical discovery/illness
4. Don't know much about the French I took - Foreign language novels translated into English
5. But I do know that I love you - More books by favorite authors
6. And I know that you love me too - Poetry
7. What a wonderful world this would be - Plays
8. Don't know much about geography - Books set in foreign lands
9. But I do know that one and one is two - Next in Series
10. And if this one could be with you - "New to me" Canadian authors
11. Now I don't claim to be an "A" student - Prize Winners and Shortlisted
12. I can win your love for me - Books languishing on my TBR pile

... But I'm trying to be - Overflow (basically anything that does not fit in any of the 12 categories above so I can track all of my reading for the year in one location).

Thank you Sam Cooke!

**********

Book Statistics: I want to track some book stats throughout the year, in particular to see if I am purchasing more books than reading what I already own and have sitting waiting TBR.

Books purchased: 44
Books read: 61
Books read off TBR Bookcase: 14
Books read from local library: 42
Books read and borrowed from friends/family: 2
Free book download/ER book: 6
Audiobook listened to: 12
Books read by male authors: 33
Books read by female authors: 32
* two books read co-authored by male and female author and one book read as a compilation of short stories by various authors so counted both here!

2lkernagh
Edited: Sep 23, 2012, 10:33pm Top

1. Don't know much about history - Historical Fiction pre-1945



1. Paris Requiem by Lisa Appignanesi - (review here - post 143)
2. Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey - (review here - post 179)
3. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - (review here - post 194)
4. The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom - (review here - post 53)
5. The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston - (review here - post 66)
6. The Raven's Seal by Andrei Baltakmens - (review here - post 247)

CATEGORY COMPLETED!

Candidates:
LT picked: Unholy Loves by Lisa Appignanesi - -Eva- (formerly bookaholic13) 1900 France
LT picked: The World Above the Sky by Kent Stetson - BCteagirl 1400's
LT picked: Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwartz - ivyd 1920's

3lkernagh
Edited: Sep 16, 2012, 7:34pm Top

2. Don't know much biology - Medical discovery/illness as a theme (Fiction or Non-Fiction)



1. The Making of Modern Medicine by Michael Bliss - (review here - post 198)
2. Quinine: Malaria and the Quest for a Cure that Changed the World by Fiammetta Rocco - (review here - post 135)
3. Quarantine by John Smolens - (review here - post 181)
4. Dreams and Due Diligence: Till and McCulloch's Stem Cell Discovery and Legacy by Joe Sornberger - (review here - post 231)
5.
6.

Candidates:
LT picked: Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam - Smiler69
Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukjerjee
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skoolt
Nemesis by Philip Roth

4lkernagh
Edited: Sep 23, 2012, 10:33pm Top

3. Don't know much about a science book - Science as a theme (Fiction or Non-Fiction) that does not fall under the Medical discovery/illness category



1. Science in the Renaissance by Brendan January - (review here - post 45)
2. Sciencia: Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Astronomy For All Edited by John Martineau - (review here - post 245)
3. The Technologists by Matthew Pearl - (review here - post 92)
4. Mr. g: A Novel About the Creation by Alan Lightman - (review here - post 104)
5. Miss Leavitt's Stars: The Untold Story of the Woman Who Discovered How to Measure the Universe by George Johnson - (review here - post 252)
6.

Candidates:
The Technologists by Matthew Pearl

5lkernagh
Edited: Jul 22, 2012, 6:05pm Top

4. Don't know much about the French I took - Foreign language novels translated into English



1. 1953: Chronicle of a Birth Foretold by France Diagle - (review here - post 118)
2. Underground Time by Delphine de Vigan - (review here - post 40)
3. Love in the Time of Cholera by by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - (review here - post 114)
4. Emmaus by Alessandro Baricco - (review here - post 151)
5. The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho - (review here - post 177)
6.

Candidates:

6lkernagh
Edited: Sep 9, 2012, 6:21pm Top

5. But I do know that I love you - More books by favorite authors



1. Unholy Loves by Lisa Appignanesi - (review here - post 144)
2. The Hangman by Louise Penny - (review here - post 160)
3. A Far Cry From Kensington by Muriel Sparks - (review here - post 123)
4. Memento Mori by Muriel Spark - (review here - post 168)
5. City by Alessandro Baricco - (review here - post 222)
6.

Candidates:

7lkernagh
Edited: Aug 13, 2012, 6:34pm Top

6. And I know that you love me too - Poetry



1. The Conference of the Birds by Peter Sis - (review here - post 44)
2. Blackbird Singing by Paul McCartney - (review here - post 79)
3. Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen - (review here - post 114)
4. Honku by Aaron Naparstek and Office Haiku by James Rogauskas - (review here - post 32)
5. Lost August by Esta Spalding - (review here - post 203)
6.

Candidates:
Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Dispair by Pablo Neruda
One Secret Thing by Sharon Olds
Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff
Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen
Selected Poems by e.e. cummings
Human Chain by Seamus Heaney
Opened Ground by Seamus Heaney
Crank by Ellen Hopkins
The Conference of the Birds by Peter Sis
WISHR - Blackbird Singing: Poems and Lyrics by Paul McCartney

8lkernagh
Edited: Sep 23, 2012, 9:45pm Top

7. What a wonderful world this would be - Plays



1. Strawberries in January by Evelyne de la Chenelière - (review here - post 46)
2. Ivona, Princess of Burgundia by Witold Gombrowicz - (review here - post 186)
3. Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhry - (review here - post 47)
4. Scotland Road by Jeffrey Hatcher - (review here - post 182)
5. Mrs. Packard by Emily Mann - (review here - post 253)
6.

Candidates:
Mousetrap by Agatha Christie
A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
Blithe Spirits by Noel Coward
Ivona, Princess of Burgundia by Witold Gombrowicz
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee
Far Away by Cary Churchill
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Fences by August Wilson
The Drawer Boy by Michael Healey
Thirteen Hands by Carol Shields
WISHR - Miss Julie by August Strindberg
WISHR - Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
WISHR - The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway
WISHR - Six Characters in Search of a Play by Luigi Pirandello
Elizabeth Rex by Timothy Findley
Our Town by Thornton Wilder

9lkernagh
Edited: Jul 22, 2012, 6:04pm Top

8. Don't know much about geography - Books set in foreign lands



1. Gilgamesh by Joan London - (review here - post 78)
2. The Distant Hours by Kate Morton - (review here - post 100)
3. The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi - (review here - post 221)
4. Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon - (review here - post 54)
5. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe - (review here - post 59)
6. Venice Noir edited by Maxim Jakubowski - (review here - post 176)

CATEGORY COMPLETED!

Candidates:
LT picked: The House Within by Fiona Kidman - cammykitty New Zealand
LT picked: The Likeness by Tana French - christina_reads Ireland
LT picked: Coastliners by Joanne Harris - paruline France

10lkernagh
Edited: Sep 9, 2012, 6:20pm Top

9. But I do know that one and one is two - Next in Series



1. Always Kiss the Corpse on Whidbey Island by Sandy Francis Duncan and George Szanto - (review here - post 92)
2. Never Hug a Mugger on Quadra Island by Sandy Frances Duncan and George Szanto - (review here - post 242)
3. B is for Burglar by Sue Grafton - (review here - post 145)
4. C is for Corpse by Sue Grafton - (review here - post 148)
5. E is for Evidence by Sue Grafton - (review here - post 221)
6.

Candidates:
LT picked: What They Wanted by Donna Morrissey - VictoriaPL
LT picked: The Likeness by Tana French - christina_reads

11lkernagh
Edited: Aug 16, 2012, 11:38pm Top

10. And if this one could be with you - "New to me" Canadian authors



1. Campie by Barabara Stewart - (review here - post 31)
2. The Island Walkers by John Bemrose - (review here - post 35)
3. The Rules of Engagement by Catherine Bush - (review here - post 79)
4. Seaweed on the Street by Stanley Evans - (review here - post 189)
5. British Columbia Murders by Susan McNicoll - (review here - post 206)
6.

Candidates:
LT picked: The Rules of Engagement by Catherine Bush - DeltaQueen50
LT picked: The Island Walkers by John Bemrose - GingerbreadMan
LT picked: What They Wanted by Donna Morrissey - VictoriaPL
LT picked: The World Above the Sky by Kent Stetson - BCteagirl

12lkernagh
Edited: Sep 2, 2012, 6:58pm Top

11. Now I don't claim to be an "A" student - Prize Winners and Shortlisted



1. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes - (review here - post 58)
2. March by Geraldine Brooks - (review here - post 28)
3. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel - (review here - post 169)
4. Fences by August Wilson - (review here - post 214)
5.
6.

Candidates:
LT picked: The Island Walkers by John Bemrose - GingerbreadMan
LT picked: Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam - Smiler69

13lkernagh
Edited: May 14, 2012, 10:04pm Top

12. I can win your love for me - Books languishing on my TBR pile



1. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde - (review here - post 165)
2. A Brief Madness by Karisha Kal'ee'ay - (review here - post 46)
3.
4.
5.
6.

Candidates:
LT picked: Sundays at Tiffany's by James Patterson - bucketyell
LT picked: The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho - SouthernKiwi
LT picked: Widow for One Year by John Irving - katiekrug

14lkernagh
Edited: Sep 1, 2012, 7:15pm Top

... But I'm trying to be (the Overflow slot) - Basically anything that does not fit in any of the 12 categories above so I can track all of my reading for the year in one location.

1. A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton - (review here - post 134)
2. D is for Deadbeat by Sue Grafton - (review here - post 154)
3. Walking for Fitness: The Beginner's Handbook by Marnie Caron - (review here - post 167)
4. Suttree by Cormac McCarthy - (review here - post 210)
5.
6.

15lkernagh
Edited: Apr 1, 2012, 2:51pm Top

Book Rating System:
Both decimal and LT star ratings will be applied to each book. My star rating system can be found on my profile page. For the decimal system, I have decided to assess each book on the following criteria (each on a scale of 1 to 5):

Plot Development
Character Development
Premise - Did the author deliver on the original premise that enticed me to pick up the book in the first place or do I feel as though I have been hoodwinked?
Writing Style
Imagery - was I able to visualize the story as I was reading it
Length - too long, too short or just right to convey the story

Now the challenge is going to be whether or not I stick to this plan!

16lkernagh
Edited: Apr 1, 2012, 2:54pm Top

Currently Reading:


Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
2666 by Roberto Bolano
The Island Walkers by John Bemrose
March by Geraldine Brooks

17lkernagh
Apr 1, 2012, 4:19pm Top

I will not be posting my planned reading for this month. March was such a washout I am going to take it one day at a time. Good news is I have 10 days of vacation in April and hope to lose myself in some great books during that time!

this thread is now open for business!

18mamzel
Apr 1, 2012, 4:36pm Top

May you find yourself with wonderful reads in April. Vacation is a great time to read!

19christina_reads
Apr 1, 2012, 5:13pm Top

I had a similarly disappointing March -- here's hoping April goes better for both of us! I envy you your vacation time, but I hope you enjoy it! :)

20GingerbreadMan
Apr 1, 2012, 5:35pm Top

Yay for a spring full of reading!

21mathgirl40
Apr 1, 2012, 5:52pm Top

Hope you get lots of reading time during your vacation!

22lkernagh
Apr 1, 2012, 6:32pm Top

> 18 - Thanks!

> 19 - I am with you Christina! Here is hoping April is a better reading month!

> 20 - I am sooooo looking forward to it Anders!

> 21 - Thanks Paulina!

23DeltaQueen50
Apr 1, 2012, 6:38pm Top

Hi Lori, just checking into your new thread. Love your picture from the Buchart Gardens (one of my favorite places). I just posted a picture on my 75 thread of Beacon Hill Park (another favorite place).

24The_Hibernator
Apr 1, 2012, 7:18pm Top

Congrats on the new thread! As for your candidates, I liked Fever 1793, Emperor of All Maladies, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks so you've got a good list!

25-Eva-
Apr 2, 2012, 6:27pm Top

I have 4 weeks left until my vacation starts and I can't wait!

26cammykitty
Apr 5, 2012, 9:16pm Top

What beautiful flowers!

27lkernagh
Apr 5, 2012, 11:50pm Top

Thanks Katie! Butchart Gardens are amazing and I am embarrassed to admit that I never get around to visiting the gardens, considering they are a short drive up the peninsula from where I live. I have no green thumb - the one house plant we have is now safely under the care of my other half....... he has decided it is best for the plant if he doesn't have to keep reviving it after my attempts at plant care. A division of labour that I am happy to agree to!

----------------

I am now happily enjoying a break from work for the next 10 days. Reading, along with a complete spring clean of the abode are the only events planned for this down time. I have finally finished Geraldine Brooks' March and hope to make headway on a number of books that are in progress as well as books off the TBR bookcase and the pile of library books that came home with me this week.

28lkernagh
Apr 5, 2012, 11:50pm Top

Book #22 - March by Geraldine Brooks
Category: - Now I don't claim to be an "A" Student - Prize Winners and shortlisted



I never did get around to finishing this one in time to count it as a March TIOLI read, but as the winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, this is still a perfect fit for my category reading. I am a fan of Brooks' writing - I loved both Year of Wonders and People of the Book so I was ready to sit back and enjoy this one as well.

Brooks has created an interesting story, using the Alcott family and Louisa May Alcott's story Little Women as the basis for her story focusing on Mr. March, the father of those little women. There are a number of interesting reviews posted on the book page for anyone that wishes to delve into examining the book further. For me, I felt that my lack of memory of the story Little Women was an aid in allowing me to settle in to Brooks' story - I wasn't making any character comparisons between the two books.

Brooks writing style is beautiful and seems more refined, developed and detailed in March compared to her other books that I have read. The prose alone makes this one a pleasure to read and a good thing to as the examination of Mr. March's turbulent soul and the stark realities of warfare, slavery and abolitionism do make for a harrowing read. Brooks does admit to taking some literary license with historical timelines in the creation of this story so historical purists would be best to read this one with this information in mind.

Overall, a well crafted story and one I am glad I have finally made the effort to read.

Decimal Rating: 4.18
3.65 - Plot Development
3.20 - Character Development
5.00 - Writing Style
3.85 - Premise
4.90 - Imagery/Visualization
4.50 - Length

Star Rating: 4.00 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: trade paperback
# of Pages: 304 pages
Source: TBR
Male/Female Author: Female

29mathgirl40
Apr 7, 2012, 11:01am Top

Great review of March. That is one I will have to consider. Little Women was one of my childhood favourites.

30lkernagh
Apr 7, 2012, 12:42pm Top

> 29 - Thanks Paulina!

------------

Reading continues..... I am now 3/4 of the way through The Island Walkers and hope to be finished soon. In the meantime, some more reviews:

31lkernagh
Apr 7, 2012, 12:43pm Top

Book #23 - Campie by Barbara Stewart
Category: - And if this one could be with you - New to me Canadian Authors



Campie is another interesting find via an on-line search of my library's new arrivals. As an Alberta girl, the concept of a book about working and living in a Northern Alberta oil-rig work camp written from the perspective of a woman intrigued me. Judging the book by its cover - wrong of me I know but I did when I decided to check the book out - I was expecting a quasi chick-lit adventure. What I surprising got was an autobiographical account of the author's experiences when she took a job as a "campie" - nickname for the camp attendant (cleaner) in an oil-rig camp - at 48 years of age when she was recently discharged from bankruptcy, unemployed and homeless.

The book covers a two week period, starting with the author's journey from Quesnel, British Columbia on January 13, 2003 to Grande Prairie, Alberta and the oil-rig camp Trinidad 11 in the middle of the Northern Alberta wilderness. We watch her as she learns the ropes of her new job, the people that are assigned to the camp - nothing more than four ATCO trailers linked side to side to make a square - with glimpses of the rotating day and night shifts that basically 'crash and unwind' at the camp between shifts.

Earning $100/day, this is a book about rebuilding one's life after hitting the bottom of the barrel and having to face tough decisions in the process as a vegetarian and former alcoholic stuck in the middle of nowhere with a group where substance use and petty politics is rampant and people that don't fit into the group mold don't stay long. As it says on the back cover, this is no Eat, Pray, Love holiday to put the life pieces back together.

A quick book of one individual's personal journey and well worth the read.

Decimal Rating: 3.5

Star Rating: 3.50 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: trade paperback
# of Pages: 192 pages
Source: GVPL
Male/Female Author: Female

32lkernagh
Apr 7, 2012, 12:46pm Top

Book #24 - Honku by Aaron Naparstek and Office Haiku by James Rogauskas
Category: - And I Know That You Love Me Too - Poetry



I am counting both of these books as one book - they were both quick reads at 20 minutes each - and seem like a nice fit as they are both books of Haikus.

To get myself back on track with my poetry reading I came across these books and thought they would be a fun read. They were. Honku is a collection of 100 haikus focused on the dark side of America's car culture and transforms annoying moments behind the wheel of the care into zen moments. Some favorite jems from Honku are:

Lawyer on cell phone -
tries corporate and freeway
mergers at same time

LAX pickup
Dante never mentioned this
tenth circle of hell

Seething in gridlock
bike-borne I pass you, each block
we do the same dance


Office Haiku had me giggling and is a great un-winder to read when the absurdities of the modern office are driving you to the brink of .... well, we just won't say to the brink of what! Some favorites jems from Office Haiku are:

Sitting at my desk
as proudly as any serf
on his scrap of dirt

Life is a burden;
this job but icing on my
existential cake

Office doublespeak
gushes forth, an untamed spring.
Was that "yes" or "no"?


Both authors have websites: www.honku.org and www.officehaiku.com

Decimal Rating: 3.00

Star Rating: 3.00 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: hardcover
# of Pages: 256 pages (128 pages each book)
Source: GVPL
Male/Female Author: Male

33susanj67
Apr 7, 2012, 12:57pm Top

#31: I often judge books by their covers, even if it is wrong! Campie sounds interesting. And I like the office haiku you posted, although I'm not sure I could read a whole book about the futility of my existence :-)

34-Eva-
Apr 8, 2012, 7:37pm Top

LAX pickup
Dante never mentioned this
tenth circle of hell


Oh, good grief - that's so true!! :)

35lkernagh
Apr 8, 2012, 8:23pm Top

> 33 - Hi Susan! Yup, I am such a 'visual' person it is usually the cover that catches my eye before anything else. As for the Haikus, moderation is probably the way to go, although the section about cafeteria food was more reminiscent of my school days as we don't have a cafeteria where I work!

> 34 - LOL! I am thankful that whenever I have had to travel through LAX it has been to changes planes only and that was stressful enough.... forget trying to pick up or drop off someone at that airport!

36lkernagh
Edited: Apr 8, 2012, 8:34pm Top

Book #25 - The Island Walkers by John Bemrose
Category: - And if this one could be with you - New to me Canadian Authors



A town of two rivers, its plunging valley an anomaly in the tedious southwestern Ontario plain.
Bridges. Water at dusk. The play of ghosts on the sloping face of a dam.
High windows shot with gold, glimpsed among maples. Streets that beckon and disappear. The traveller, coming across this place, might be forgiven for imagining that life is better here.
So begins The Island Walkers, Bemrose's debut novel of a working class family in a small, southwestern Ontario mill town during the mid-1960's. Alf Walker works as a fixer in the local textile mill, just like his father before him. His wife Margaret, an English war bride from a respectable middle class upbringing, raises the family and is active in the church choir. Their oldest, Joe, is completing his senior year of high school with girl troubles and aspirations of attending university. 12-year old daughter Penny, diagnosed with diabetes and 8-year old son Jamie who befriends a native aboriginal boy, round out the family. The story focuses on one year, a year filled with a series of events started off by a labour dispute at the mill. Tough, questionable decisions are made that propel the story, and the family, into a spiral of uncertainties, mistrust, tested loyalties, the questioning of beliefs and the growing pains of facing an ever changing world.

For a debut novel, I was blown away by Bemrose's prose and his ability to poignantly capture time and place and transport the reader into the Walker's lives. At the end of the story, I felt as though I had experienced the events with the Walkers and was sad to see it end - almost a family saga without trying to be one. This is a story to read and savor, not rush through. Bemrose lays his characters bare with a skill on par with some of my favorite authors - Timothy Findley, David Adams Richards and Richard Russo - while still leaving his own stamp on the work.

The only downside, and the reason it doesn't get a full 5.00 decimal rating, is that towards the end, the prose started to weaken and falter. The ending left me wishing Bemrose had handled it a little differently but those are my only quibbles with this amazing story.

Overall, a brilliant debut novel that has earned Bemrose a place alongside my favorite authors and one I highly recommend!

This book was chosen by Anders (GingerbreadMan) as one of the books for me to read this year off my TBR bookcase - great choice Anders!

Decimal Rating: 4.89
4.75 - Plot Development
4.85 - Character Development
5.00 - Writing Style
4.85 - Premise
5.00 - Imagery/Visualization
4.90 - Length

Star Rating: 5.00 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: trade paperback
# of Pages: 512 pages
Source: TBR
Male/Female Author: Male

---------------

Next Up:
I am waaaay behind on my ER reading so the next book is Underground Time by Delphine de Vigan

37-Eva-
Apr 8, 2012, 8:35pm Top

LAX pick-up and drop-off are indeed death-defying. My theory is that City of Los Angeles has arranged for LAX to be that mad in order to prepare you for our freeways :)

38IrishHolger
Apr 9, 2012, 5:10am Top

Just a couple of words to ensure this thread properly shows up in my list of threads I check out regularly. ;-)

39lkernagh
Apr 9, 2012, 5:46pm Top

> 38 - Hi IrishHolger! Thanks for stopping by!

40lkernagh
Edited: Apr 9, 2012, 9:33pm Top

Book #26 - Underground Time by Delphine de Vigan, translated from the French by George Miller
Category: - Don't know much about the French I took - Translated Works



Every day, Mathilde takes the metro to her job at an multinational company, where she has felt isolated and miserable ever since she got on the wrong side of her bullying boss. Every day, Thibault, a paramedic, drives where his dispatcher directs him, fighting traffic to attend to common disasters.
It took awhile for me to get around to reading this one.... I was never really in the mood for what I thought would be a crossed paths/romance type of story.

I actually found this to be a fascinating psychological examination of two individuals careening towards the breaking point of what they can take, what they will tolerate on their own while surrounded by people. The story alternates narration by Mathilde and Thibault as they pick their way through their parallel day - the 20th of May - in the bustling, teeming city of Paris, France. They each have a different reason/path that has brought them to this point and I found it more difficult to empathize with Thibault until closer to the end of the story.

de Vigan takes the reader into the psyche of the victim of workplace bullying, empty relationships and overall work fatigue. The workplace bullying is a chilling, emotional experience to read. The darkness of the story can be conveyed by the following quote:
Now, she wonders if Laetitia hasn't been right all along. If business isn't the ultimate testing ground for morality. If business isn't by definition a place of destruction. If business with its rituals, its hierarchy, its ways of functioning, is not quite simply the sovereign place of violence and impunity.
As you can see, this is not a light-hearted story. I am sure it will not reach all audiences with the same reception I have given it. The story was a thought-provoking read for me, although I do wish I wasn't left at the end feeling that something was missing to make it an overall more satisfying experience. I felt somethings were handled a little choppily, which could in part be due to the translation. Also, while I could feel what the characters were experiencing, I never really got the know the characters as much as I would have liked to.

Overall, a worthwhile reading experience that has left me with food for thought and a desire to read more of de Vigan's works.

This book was provided to me as part of Librarything's Early Reviewer program.

Decimal Rating: 4.09
3.75 - Plot Development
4.50 - Character Development
3.80 - Writing Style
3.75 - Premise
4.25 - Imagery/Visualization
4.50 - Length

Star Rating: 4.00 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: trade paperback
# of Pages: 272 pages
Source: ER book/TBR
Male/Female Author: Female

------------------

Next Up:
Another ER book and the last one currently sitting on the TBR bookcase in need of reading and reviewing: A Brief Madness by Karisha Kal'ee'ay

41Dejah_Thoris
Apr 9, 2012, 6:00pm Top

I wouldn't have thought that Campie would appeal to me at all, but your review has proved persuasive! No copies in my library system, though.

Our librarian old me that the former librarian for the branch told her to never order books by 'foreign' authors - they never circulate. Happily, the current librarian is more open minded; I'll try to convince her to order Campie, even if the author is Canadian!

42lkernagh
Apr 11, 2012, 1:27pm Top

> 41 - Wow, if our library took that approach - never order books by 'foreign' authors - the shelves would be pretty bare! We have great Canadian authors but there is a whole world of literature out there and the library patrons would be up in arms if the library operated under that principle. Good luck with the new, more open minded librarian!

-------------------------------------------

We have had a couple of beautiful sunny... and warm!.... days here on the island so I have been out enjoying the weather. Last night I finally started my first audiobook downloaded from the library system, The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom.



As with everything technology related, this took a fair bit of work as I plan on listening to audiobooks on my ipod touch, but the library system's mobile site isn't set up to download directly to the device..... need to download to a computer and then transfer the files over to the ipod touch. Given how big audiobook files are and how long they take to download/transfer, having to use a computer as a go-between wasn't a big surprise. I then had to mess around with updating Windows Media Player on my computer and make some other tweaks before it would let me download the files - even though I was only use the computer as a go-between! After a hour of fiddling, etc, the files were finally loaded onto the ipod touch. Yahoo! Now that I have the necessary software and the process in place, it will be a lot easier to download audiobooks going forward.

The Kitchen House is one of a number of audiobooks that are always available through the library system - no download limits. The audio samples were a great help as I steered clear of books of interest that had a reading voice that didn't attract me. Weather permitting, I walk to and from work which will give me one hour of listening time each day. I can, and have in the past, read while walking but that tends to unnerve some people so I have decided that listening to audiobooks is the better way to manage my walking commute! ;-0

43DorsVenabili
Apr 11, 2012, 1:35pm Top

#42 - I hope you enjoy your audiobook! I've had a lot of success with non-fiction audiobooks, but recently I've been thinking about trying fiction again (I tried earlier and had trouble following dialogue). We'll see.

44mathgirl40
Apr 12, 2012, 9:39pm Top

Thanks for bringing Island Walkers to my attention. I hadn't heard of this book or author, which is really sad considering that I live in Southwestern Ontario where the novel is set. I've added it to my wishlist.

45lkernagh
Apr 14, 2012, 12:28pm Top

> 43 - Hi Kerri, I am really enjoying the audiobook! The weather has been great for the past couple of days so I have been walking and listening while running errands. I actually walked to my dentist's office yesterday morning - a 50 minute walk - and found the journey flew by while I was listening to the book. Hum..... I see a healthy book habit developing here! ;-)

> 44 - Hi Paulina, The Island Walkers was an amazing read and one I purchased strictly by chance a couple of years ago at one of the charity shops - for $3.00 I figured I couldn't go wrong with the purchase! I haven't visited Southwestern Ontario so you might have an easier time visualizing the scenery described.

---------------------

Well, another book down and what a slog it was to read!

46lkernagh
Edited: Apr 16, 2012, 8:54pm Top

Book #27 - A Brief Madness by Karisha Kal'ee'ay
Category: - I can win your love for me - TBR



From the book's back cover description:
While serial murderer Richard Earl Dayle lies dying of heart failure, he desperately urges his limbs to push the soft earth over his final victims. Preserving his persona is ultimately more important to him than survival. With the discovery of his crimes, his family is faced with a mystery: How could this be the man they all loved?..... This project brings together a curious cast of characters that will force Richard's family to confront the dark, hidden history of the man they thought they knew. When a murderer takes a victim, anguish and misery are predictable, but when he is exposed, it is the death of his facade that his loved ones must cope with. A Brief Madness is a fresh exploration into the aftermath of a serial killer's violence, as seen from the perspective of the murderer's own family.
Yes, I was interested enough to request this book when it was offered through Librarything's Early Reviewer program. After struggling to read this 390 page book, I am now struggling to write the review. The story jumps from narrator to narrator and usually I have no problem with stories structured in that manner, as it is an easy way to provide different points of view. This one didn't work quite so well, partly because I felt that there were just too many voices clamoring for attention, even when they were not the narrator for a particular chapter. There is an interesting cast of characters - some well drawn, like Richard's mother Frances and his second wife Ember - but I feel that for the most part they come across as nothing more than a jumbled mess of confused humanity.

The story is also sadly in need of an editor. Some sections confuse time that was frustrating to read. Also, it was difficult at times to know who was speaking during dialogues. Simple things that just shouldn't happen in a published book and drives me crazy when it does.

The story premise has some potential and probably would have worked better at half the page count and only focusing on three or four characters, leaving out the confused characters and what I can only describe as added subplots that do nothing more than provide the reader with something to read - kind of like watching the halftime entertainment during the Superbowl, which really has nothing to do with the game itself.

This book was provided to me as part of Librarything's Early Reviewer program.

Decimal Rating: 2.66
2.60 - Plot Development
3.00 - Character Development
2.60 - Writing Style
3.25 - Premise
2.50 - Imagery/Visualization
2.00 - Length

Star Rating: 2.50 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: trade paperback
# of Pages: 390 pages
Source: ER book/TBR
Male/Female Author: Female

--------------------

Next Up:
After that I need something lighter and more coherent so I will pick up Driving Miss Daisy and read it for my Plays category. Loved the movie and the review Dejah_Thoris wrote! After that, I have Things Fall Apart by Chinua Acheb and Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon, both Group Reads this month, and still listening to The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom.

47lkernagh
Apr 15, 2012, 1:03pm Top

Book #28 - Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhry
Category: - What a wonderful world this would be - Plays
Alternate category: Now I don't claim to be an "A" student - Prize winners and shortlisted



Most individuals have seen the film adaptation of this play staring Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman and know the premise: The relationship between a Southern-Jewish matron, Miss Daisy Werthan and her black chauffeur Hoke Coleburn, hired by the son Boolie Werthan to keep his mother from getting behind the wheel of another car.

Winner of the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the play is surprisingly sparse - my copy was a mere 51 pages in length - for a play that spans 25 years (1948 - 1973) and touches on the civil rights movement and growing desegregation of the time period. The play has only three characters - Miss Daisy, Hoke and Boolie - so one can be excused if left with a feeling that the film adaptation with 22 characters and a run time of 99 minutes would be a more satisfying experience. I think the play, as sparsely written as it is, provides the actors with framework to make something great. The dialogue with its sparing banter is the anchor of the play, no doubt about that, but it is the progression over time and the development of the relationship between Miss Daisy and Hoke where the actors have the ability to make the play really shine.

I have never seen the stage version of Driving Miss Daisy but after reading the play, I will be keeping my eyes open for such an opportunity in the future. If you have some time and have never read a play before, this is one that any reader will have an easy time following. There are no confusing stage directions and minimal action for the reader to try to visualize in their mind while reading this play.

Decimal Rating: 4.00
3.75 - Plot Development
4.25 - Character Development
4.50 - Writing Style
4.25 - Premise
3.75 - Imagery/Visualization
3.50 - Length

Star Rating: 4.00 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: trade paperback
# of Pages: 51 pages
Source: GVPL
Male/Female Author: Male

--------------------

Next Up:
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Acheb.

48-Eva-
Apr 15, 2012, 4:17pm Top

After struggling to read...I am now struggling to write
That's just bad news all around - doesn't seem you were the only one feeling that way either. Yey - another book not to put on the wishlist. :)

I've seen the film-version of Driving Miss Daisy, which was absolutely brilliant and I have a feeling I once saw another play of his (Ballyhoo??), but I can't remember for sure now. It would be interesting to see Driving Miss Daisy on stage.

49cyderry
Apr 15, 2012, 11:22pm Top

Glad to hear that there is another convert to the audiobook!

I started about 8 years ago, I really wanted to read a book and it was only available on audio or there was a 3 month wait. I decided I bite the bullet and listen to it on the way to and from work. Before I was finished it, I was actually starting to pray for red lights and traffic! Now that I'm retired, I listen while I work on my needlework. My husband ( a non-reader - will even do audiobooks!)

50GingerbreadMan
Apr 16, 2012, 8:14am Top

>36 lkernagh: Well, I'm really glad I blindly picked something that good! Might have to try lotto after all ;-)

I'm usually a little sad that so little of the ER program is available to me as a swede (virtually no physical books). But seeing the downside of it like this - struggling with mandatory reviews on books you didn't like, puts it all in perspective. Too bad, A brief madness sounded like an interesting premiss.

51IrishHolger
Apr 17, 2012, 5:20pm Top

>47 lkernagh: Wow, I had no idea that the original play was so short for such a wide spanning subject. I love deep stories that are condensed. Too many writers these days write a ridiculous amount of pages about sweet nothing. But it's not just a literary trend. The length of the average film nowadays is plain ludicrous.

52lkernagh
Apr 19, 2012, 11:41pm Top

> 48 - You are right Eva. Struggling to read and struggling to then right is bad news..... I loved the film adaptation of Driving Miss Daisy and can see how they kept true to the focus of the play.

> 49 - Yes, Cheli, I am an audiobook convert! Perfect timing to convert too..... in the past 5 days I have read a whole 8 pages in my paper and ebooks - scary I know! - but with all the walking and the half hour wait in the pouring rain this evening for the bus to head home from work I should be finished The Kitchen House tomorrow. At this rate, audiobooks will be my salvation in completing this challenge!

> 50 - Yup, for a blind pick The Island Walkers was surprisingly really good! Yuo should invest in a lottery ticket or two! Yes, there is a downside to LT's ER program... its not all champagne and roses! ;-)

> 51 - Hi Irish Holger, it is a surprisingly short play when one has seen the film adaptation! I agree with you about deep, condensed stories. For me, they give me the ability to fill in the blanks as opposed to rolling my eyes in boredom/frustration while I wait for the author to get to the point!

-------------------

As mentioned above, now that I am back at work, my reading of print and ebooks has completely stalled. I hope to make amends this weekend with plans to read Things Fall Apart. I will still get to Gentlemen of the Road, helped in a big way now that I have downloaded the audiobook from my local library as my next audiobook..... I have the hardcover out from the library and have had it out for the past two weeks but at this rate it seems I will never get around to actually reading it!

53lkernagh
Edited: Apr 25, 2012, 9:32am Top

Book #29 - The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom - audiobook narrated by Orlagh Cassidy and Bahni Turpin.
Category: - Don't know much about history - Historical Fiction



Taken from the book jacket:
When a white servant girl violates the order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the worst and best in the people she has come to call her family.Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin ..... Lavinia finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds. When she is forced to make a choice, loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare, and lives are put at risk.
As my first ever audiobook, I am happy I picked one with good readers. I understand from reading various threads here on LT that the strength of the reader can make or break and audiobook experience. The story is told in alternating narration by Lavinia and Belle. Each chapter starts with the name of the narrator, so in audio format there is no confusion as to who's perspective the reader is listening to.

Grissom adds an interesting element to what would otherwise be a formulated historical tale of life on a southern tobacco plantation. Lavinia's story, as an indentured servant in service to the Pyke family and raised by her adopted black family, provides the reader with a first person perspective of what it might be like to be a person that is predominantly an outsider to both the slave community and the white property owners. As a female focused story, it is also an overwrought examination of the plight of all women of the time period, where women were the property of their husbands and powerless.

While the story does a great job in depicting plantation life of the time period, the story did drag in the middle and there where times when I found both Belle and Lavinia's naivety/stupidity frustrating to listen to. The characters are not as fleshed out and developed as I would have liked and I came away at times feeling the story was more of a lighter historical romance than a strong fiction piece.

Frustrations aside, it was an easy book to listen to while walking to and from work and running errands. If pressed, I couldn't really give a detailed report of the climax and ending as for the last 10 chapters my minds tended to wander as I was listening to it.

Audiobook by Blackstone Publishing.

Decimal Rating: 3.17
3.00 - Plot Development
3.00 - Character Development
3.00 - Writing Style
3.50 - Premise
3.50 - Imagery/Visualization
3.00 - Length

Star Rating: 3.00 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: audiobook
# of Pages: 384 pages (12 hours, 57 minutes listening time)
Source: GVPL
Male/Female Author: Female

54lkernagh
Edited: Apr 27, 2012, 8:57pm Top

Book #30 - Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon - audiobook narrated by Andre Braugher
Category: - Don't know much about geography - Books set in foreign lands



For numberless years a myna had astounded travelers to the caravansary with its ability to spew indecencies in ten languages, and before the fight broke out everyone assumed the old blue-tongued devil on its perch by the fireplace was the one who maligned the giant African with such foulness and verve.
So begins Chabon's rollicking adventure involving two unlikely companions of what we will categorize as a carefree existence over 1000 years ago in the Caucasus Mountains. These 'Gentlemen of the Road' are used to living by their wits with no fixed address and purloining their fortunes as opportunity provides. Imagine their surprise to find themselves - through no fault of their own - to become enlisted into service by a stranger and unforeseen circumstances as escorts and defenders to prince Filaq of the Khazar Empire, an ill tempered young royal usurped by an Uncle and determined to regain the throne.

I had such fun with this one! It reminded me in many ways of the great adventures of Alexandre Dumas and the Captain Alatriste series by Arturo Pérez-Reverte - great sword wielding action through exotic, historical lands. While I had access to a hardcover copy of the book, I ended up downloading the audiobook narrated by Andre Braugher and found his deep, resonating voice a perfect complement to the story. Suffice to say, it didn't take long to listen to the entire story, which including listening to it while I was in the dentist's chair for an endodontic treatment (aka root canal). Now, if only they can put a silencer on the dental drills, I have found the perfect way to productively spend time in the dentist's chair! ;-0

I enjoyed the rich language the story is conveyed in - am I the only one that loves how the name "Azerbaijan" rolls off the tongue? - although I do have a quibble with some of the digressions the story took. The mystique of the Silk Road is a great backdrop for a story of this scope. According to the Afterword, this is a book outside of Chabon's usual literary works, which makes me all the more thankful that the group read was organized as I doubt I would have stumbles across this one on my own.

A fun, quick tale with wry banter and descriptive language to escape from our world into a world of the past.

Now off to go check out the other reviews from the group read!

Decimal Rating: 3.87
3.50 - Plot Development
3.75 - Character Development
3.95 - Writing Style
3.25 - Premise
4.25 - Imagery/Visualization
4.50 - Length

Star Rating: 4.00 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: audiobook
# of Pages: 224 pages (4 hours, 12 minutes listening time)
Source: GVPL
Male/Female Author: Male

--------------------

Next Up:
Finishing Things Fall Apart by Chinua Acheb - 20 pages left to go! - and I have started listening to the audiobook of The Technologists by Matthew Pearl.

55-Eva-
Edited: Apr 26, 2012, 1:31pm Top

I was going to pick up Gentlemen of the Road from the library, but if the audio is good I'm going to try and go for that one instead!

56DeltaQueen50
Apr 26, 2012, 1:15pm Top

Great review of Gentlemen of the Road, Lori. I have had the Captain Alatriste series on my wish list for some time, maybe next year I will include an adventure category to my challenge.

57GingerbreadMan
Apr 26, 2012, 4:21pm Top

Eagerly waiting to see if you enjoyed Things fall apart as much as I did!

58lkernagh
Apr 26, 2012, 11:56pm Top

> 55 - Hi Eva, I was able to download the audiobook from my library system completely by chance so I hope you are able to get it through your library as well!

> 56 - Hi Judy, Thanks! I had such fun with this one - glad you created the group read! Captain Alatriste is fun - Captain Alatriste, which is the first book in the series is still my favorite - and I like your idea of considering an adventure category for next yea - that is something I have never thought of before but would have the potential to capture a wide range of books!

> 57 - Ask and you shall receive Anders! ;-) Finished it this evening.... review below.

59lkernagh
Edited: Apr 27, 2012, 8:55pm Top

Book #31 - Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Category: - Don't know much about geography - Books set in foreign lands



Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.

—W.B. Yeats, "The Second Coming"
What an appropriate epigraph for this story! Originally published in 1958, Achebe has written a story that I believe will continue to stand the test of time. A story of colliding and transitioning worlds. A place where old world values and beliefs systems come into question and are exposed to erosion by the influx of external influences. Centered in the Ibo village in Nigeria, Achebe constructs a fable/tale steeped in the rich tapestry of an African culture and belief system, a tribal system that will soon face first hand the influences of colonialism.

The story follows Okonkwo, a 'strong man' of his tribe, when a single act sees his fall from grace with his tribe and the arrival of European influences at work to change the cultural landscape of his home and his people. Okonkwo has his faults/weaknesses, ingrained in him from his observations of his father, which the reader learns about early on and can appreciate as having an influence on Okonkwo's future actions.

Without going into any details, I found Achebe's writing style to be clean, descriptive and well managed/contained in framing his overall message to the reader. The story 'hums' along at a nice even keel for most of the story. It is the events at the end of the story and how Achebe draws the reader to the story's conclusion that lead me to give this one the higher rating I have assigned it. I recommend anyone reading this story to see it through to the end to fully appreciate the story and how Achebe crafted the lead up to his message. You will be rewarded for your perseverance!

As already stated, I believe Achebe has written a story that will stand the test of time.

Decimal Rating: 4.31
4.25 - Plot Development
3.75 - Character Development
4.25 - Writing Style
4.60 - Premise
5.00 - Imagery/Visualization
4.00 - Length

Star Rating: 4.50 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: trade paperback
# of Pages: 224 pages
Source: GVPL
Male/Female Author: Male

60GingerbreadMan
Apr 27, 2012, 3:12am Top

Great review and good point about the ending. It really was heart-wrenching wasn't it?

61AHS-Wolfy
Apr 27, 2012, 5:40am Top

Too many people have said good things about your last 2 reads for me to ignore any longer. Not sure that Things Fall Apart is for me but Gentlemen of the Road shall now be added to the wishlist.

62mathgirl40
Apr 27, 2012, 7:38am Top

Great review of Things Fall Apart! I am about halfway through and agree with your assessment so far. It sounds like I have much to look forward to in the second half.

63DorsVenabili
Apr 27, 2012, 9:05am Top

#59 - Hi Lori - I agree - great review. I read it a while ago and I agree with the advice to see it through to the end.

64lkernagh
Apr 27, 2012, 9:17pm Top

> 60 - Hi Anders, that ending really got to me, and it will stay with me for some time.

> 61 - Hi Dave, Things Fall Apart is a form of social/political/religious commentary and I can see why you say you're not sure if it is for you. It is the kind of story I need to be in the right frame of mind for and wouldn't have gravitated to in on my own. The comradery of Zelikman and Amram in The Gentlemen of the Road really makes the story!

> 62 - Hi Paulina, Thanks! I am looking forward to seeing what you think of Things Fall Apart when you finish it!

> 63 - Hi Kerri, Thanks! I am one of those readers that can feel motivated to abandon a average book before finishing it so when a book does redeem itself like Things Fall Apart I like to provide advice to help readers like me stick with it!

---------------

Made a couple of edits to typographical errors in the reviews above - you guys are really too polite in not pointing out that Things Fall Apart was not originally published in 1598!

I hope everyone has a great weekend! Myself, I will see if I can pull off one more book for my April reading stats.......

65Dejah_Thoris
Apr 27, 2012, 10:01pm Top

Hi Lori!

I'm getting caught up, I'm getting caught up - really, I am!

I may have said this before, but I'm glad you enjoyed Driving Miss Daisy. I saw the movie since I read it and I agree that they did an excellent job with it. Alfred Uhry wrote the screenplay, so you know that it stayed to to his intent. I may read another of his plays, The Last Night of Ballyhoo (the one Eva mentioned) in May.

I need to read Gentlemen of the Road - for some reason I keep putting it off, but I hear nothing but good things about it.

66lkernagh
Edited: Apr 28, 2012, 9:54pm Top

Book #32 - The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston
Category: - Don't know much about history - Historical fiction



I picked this one up today on a visit to my local library and spent an entertaining afternoon with the book, in between loads of laundry. Some will call this a graphic novel..... I call it an interesting fictional blending of a diary and a scrapbook. A novel collage if you will. Preston has taken her love for vintage scrapbooks and created a historical fiction romance story that is eye candy for anyone that loves vintage memorabilia or enjoys it as a nice change of pace.

The story follows Frances "Frankie" Pratt from her graduation from high school in 1920, through her Vassar College years and her adventures in New York City and Paris, France during that heady 1920's decade of speakeasies, transatlantic flight and the bohemian worlds of Hemingway and Vincent Millay. The story is a fun adventure of Frankie's aspirations to be a writer, her various jobs first as a caregiver and then in publishing and her romantic interests but it is really the unique presentation of the story and the vintage memorabilia that makes this a fun, interesting read instead of just another ho-hum period piece romance story.

As a picture is worth a thousand words.... I am a firm believer in that statement....the images below from various sections of the story will explain better than I possibly can about the visual presentation of this story:



Overall, a delightful way to spend an afternoon when you don't want to read anything too involved but are not quite in the mood for a fashion magazine or other strictly eye candy publication to flip through.

Decimal Rating: 3.42
3.00 - Plot Development
3.25 - Character Development
3.25 - Writing Style
3.50 - Premise
4.00 - Imagery/Visualization
3.50 - Length

Star Rating: 3.50 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: hard cover
# of Pages: 240 pages
Source: GVPL
Male/Female Author: Female

--------------------

Next Up:
Currently reading The Rules of Engagement by Catherine Bush and continuing to listen to the audiobook The Technologists by Matthew Pearl.

67lkernagh
Apr 28, 2012, 9:46pm Top

Posting in reverse order for a change....

> 65 - Hi Dejah, Nice to see you back on LT! I am also intrigued to read more of Uhry's plays. I am looking forward to seeing what you think of Gentlemen of the Road. It is a quick adventure story and Chabon's extensive vocabulary makes this a great story to read.

68cammykitty
Apr 28, 2012, 11:43pm Top

The scrapbook looks really cool! What a fun format, but I'll bet it was hard to pull off.

69lkernagh
Apr 29, 2012, 12:17pm Top

> 68 - Hi Katie, I agree. It must have taken a lot of work to create the scrapbook novel, but I bet she had a lot of fun doing it too!

70cammykitty
Apr 29, 2012, 12:45pm Top

It looks more like play than writing!

71lkernagh
Edited: May 3, 2012, 11:59pm Top

Time for another monthly recap.......

April Re-Cap:

Books read:


April Book stats:
Books purchased: 0
Books read: 12 (11 with the two books of haikus counting as one book)
~ Books read off TBR Pile: 2
~ Books read from local library: 7
~ Books read and borrowed from friends/family: 0
~ Free book download/ER book: 2
~ audiobooks listened to: 2 (from library)
~ Books read by male authors: 6
~ Books read by female authors: 6
Overall Pages read for the month: 3049
Average # of pages read per day: 101

Favorite book (decimal rating): The Island Walkers by John Bemrose - (4.89 decimal rating)
Least favorite book (decimal rating): A Brief Madness by Karisha Kal'ee'ay - (2.66 decimal rating)

CATEGORY SUMMARY:
DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT HISTORY - Historical fiction - (5/6 read - 2 new)
~ ~ ~ The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom -
~ ~ ~ The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston -
DON'T KNOW MUCH BIOLOGY - Medical discovery/illness as a theme - (1/6 read - 0 new)
DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT A SCIENCE BOOK - Science as a theme - (2/6 read - 0 new)
DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT THE FRENCH I TOOK - Translated works - (2/6 read - 1 new)
~ ~ ~ Underground Time by Delphine de Vigan -
BUT I DO KNOW THAT I LOVE YOU - More books by favorite authors - (2/6 read - 0 new)
AND I KNOW THAT YOU LOVE ME TOO - Poetry - (4/6 read - 1 new)
~ ~ ~ Honku by Aaron Naparstek and Office Haiku by James Rogauskas -
WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD THIS WOULD BE - Plays - (3/6 read - 1 new)
~ ~ ~ Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhry -
DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT GEOGRAPHY - Books set in foreign lands - (5/6 read - 2 new)
~ ~ ~ Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon -
~ ~ ~ Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe -
BUT I DO KNOW THAT ONE AND ONE IS TWO - Next in Series - (2/6 read - 0 new)
AND IF THIS ONE COULD BE WITH YOU - "New to me" Canadian authors - (2/6 read - 2 new)
~ ~ ~ Campie by Barbara Stewart -
~ ~ ~ The Island Walkers by John Bemrose -
NOW I DON'T CLAIM TO BE AN "A" STUDENT - Prize Winners and Shortlisted - (2/6 read - 1 new)
~ ~ ~ March by Geraldine Brooks -
I CAN WIN YOUR LOVE FOR ME - Books languishing on my TBR pile - (2/6 read - 1 new)
~ ~ ~ A Brief Madness by Karisha Kal'ee'ay -

... BUT I'M TRYING TO BE - Overflow - (0/6 read)

Overall, a greatly improved reading month due to a week off from work and the more recent addition of audiobooks to my reading habit. On the downside I have failed to keep up with my various group reads - I am behind in my Don Quixote and 2666 reading - and I also need to focus on my DON'T KNOW MUCH BIOLOGY category.

Books currently in progress:

72The_Hibernator
May 1, 2012, 7:15am Top

Good job!

73mathgirl40
May 1, 2012, 7:32am Top

Looks like you had a great reading month! I love audiobooks too.

74DeltaQueen50
May 1, 2012, 1:27pm Top

Great reading month, Lori. Obviously you need a weeks vacation every month - boy, wouldn't that be nice!

75lkernagh
May 1, 2012, 9:42pm Top

> 72 - Thanks!

> 73 - I am well and truly an audiobook convert..... it didn't take very long! ;-)

> 74 - One week off from work every month to just kick back and read would be fantastic..... Humm .... I might need to have a feasibility financial assessment discussion with my other half. Sadly, I can see this as the start of a downward spiral of wanting to expand the one week off to two and - well - you can see where I am going with this hypothetical extrapolation! But it would be heaven! *sighs*

76SouthernKiwi
May 2, 2012, 3:09am Top

A week off each month sounds like a great idea! Personally I'd settled for a 4 day week/3 day weekend arrangement - but I'll keep dreaming :-)

77The_Hibernator
May 2, 2012, 6:32am Top

Sometimes a 2-day weekend just isn't enough...

78lkernagh
May 6, 2012, 2:11pm Top

> 76 and 77 - I am up for any arrangement that will expand the normal 2-day weekend into something longer...... ;-)

79lkernagh
Edited: May 6, 2012, 4:50pm Top

Book #33 - The Rules of Engagement by Catherine Bush
Category: - And this one could be with you - "New to me" Canadian authors



From the book back cover:
Arcadia Hearne is a researcher who studies contemporary war and specializes in issues of military intervention. Far from her hometown of Toronto, she has created a new life for herself in London. While she pursues the study of violence, surveying the rich arsenal of current global conflicts, she refuses to put herself either physically or emotionally at risk. Thrust into a world full of people who, like her, hide secrets and are in flight from difficult pasts, Arcadia is compelled both to contemplate new possibilities for intervention and to confront her own painful history.
This one took some time for me to immerse myself in. The prose is intelligent and elegant, interspersed with a philosophical examination of love and conflict. We learn slowly through a series of memory flashbacks why Arcadia fled Toronto and watch as the compulsion within her to face this past grows. It is the exploration of what one is willing to risk and how that made this story a compelling read for me.
"It isn't just a matter of risk. Given that you can't act everywhere, do everything, just as you can't intervene in all conflicts, you have to determine your zones of responsibility. That's what we grapple with in intervention studies. You have to choose where you're going to take your risks, set limits. As you travel from zones of safety into zones of danger. That's what makes risk meaningful."
Arcadia's shift from safety into zones of danger is triggered when her sister Lux asks her to deliver a package to a refugee from Somalia. Arcadia's personal examination of risks and her boundaries is central to the story.

Arcadia was not an easy character for me to connect with. The daughter of a nuclear engineer, she is an armchair war expert that has never visited the global conflict zones her work focuses on. Never witnessed first hand the brutalities of the civil war in the southern Sudan, the bodies pulled from the mass graves in Srebrenica, the Bosnian refugee camp rape victims. Instead, she deals in the methodical and moralistic examination of how warfare and conflict is personalized, an interesting profession for one whose coping mechanism when faced with an event during her university days is to flee to England and turn her back on the event. When she does decide to face her personal conflict, it is for a self-serving purpose that grated against my sensibilities.

That aside, Bush does an excellent job in taking the cold, impersonal, methodical examination of warfare and transposing this onto the emotional and personal examination of conflict in the arena of love, making what some will call a cliched approach to the topic refreshingly different to read. My favorite quote from the book:
I used to long for love as a clear and steady state, though perhaps there is no love that does not hold the seed of something else - just as there is no steady state of the body, and no state at all without some inconsistency, some internal contradiction, some trace of weather patterns, the possibility of migration or other turbulence. Perhaps the question is simply whether love enfolds an ambivalence you can live with, or one you can't.
Overall, not an easy story as it requires a commitment from the reader to delve into a philosophical discussion of warfare but worth the time and effort to read.

Decimal Rating: 4.04
3.50 - Plot Development
3.25 - Character Development
5.00 - Writing Style
4.00 - Premise
4.50 - Imagery/Visualization
4.00 - Length

Star Rating: 4.00 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: Trade paperback
# of Pages: 300 pages
Source: TBR bookcase
Male/Female Author: Female

--------------------

Next Up:
Continuing to listen to the audiobook The Technologists by Matthew Pearl and plan to start reading Quinine: Malaria and the Quest for a Cure That Changed the World by Fiammetta Rocco.

80DorsVenabili
May 11, 2012, 11:00am Top

#79 - Great review! I'm not sure if it's for me, but it sounds very good.

I look forward to your review of The Technologists, as I just started to explore mysteries and thrillers, mostly via audiobook, and I look to my LT friends for suggestions, because I know nothing about these genres!

81lkernagh
May 11, 2012, 8:57pm Top

> 80 - Hi Kerri - Thanks! You are in luck.... I just finished the audiobook of The Technologists. Now I need to wrap my head around the review, write it and post it! It will be up some time this weekend.

82cammykitty
May 12, 2012, 1:15am Top

Wow, you've been tackling some challenging books lately! Good review of The Rules of Engagement}. I'm waiting to see what you think of 2666.

83lkernagh
Edited: May 12, 2012, 7:42pm Top

> 82 - Hi Katie, Thanks for stopping by! I will be getting back on track with my 2666 reading later this month when I have more time off from work. Part 1 was a fascinating quick read when I read it back in March. I am looking forward to tackling the other four parts - challenging as they may prove to be.

--------

Today has been a glorious warm sunny day.... perfect weather for my favorite annual book sale that runs this weekend here in town. My time on LT has accustomed me to authors/titles to keep an eye out for. While being selective, I still managed to come away with some 30 new acquisitions and will probably venture back tomorrow to see if I missed anything of interest in my sweep today of the books. Sadly, the science fiction/fantasy readers in town are a close knit group so I wasn't surprised that I was unable to find any China Miéville, George R.R. Martin or Catherynne M. Valente books in my forays through the science fiction/fantasy stacks. *sighs*

84AHS-Wolfy
May 12, 2012, 8:25pm Top

30 books is an impressive haul. Now you just have to find the time to get through them all. Saw a Jeff VanderMeer in one of the 2nd hand bookshops today but as it was £20 I didn't bother keeping hold of it.

85SouthernKiwi
May 12, 2012, 10:23pm Top

Very nice haul indeed, Lori! I wish we had some bigger book sales near where I live, all the small ones which are part of the surburban fairs are the same bestsellers over and over again.

86cammykitty
May 12, 2012, 11:49pm Top

Wow! 30!!! I'm jealous!

87lkernagh
Edited: May 13, 2012, 2:13am Top

> 84 - Hi Dave - that is always the problem with a book haul... but a good problem! 20 British Pounds for the VanderMeer - OUCH!

> 85 - Hi Alana - Great to see you here! How are things with you? I probably should have explained upfront that this particular book sale is one that is organized by the local newspaper with proceeds going to support local school and literacy projects. Every year the books on sale come from donations from the general public which means there are multiple copies of best sellers that crop up. Last year you were lucky if you found one of Stieg Larsson's books... this year there were boxes of them! This year I also came across a lot of Ian Rankin's books... enough to toy with the idea of starting that collection! Even with those clumps of books, I am happy with the gems I did find hidden in the boxes!

> 86 - Hi Katie.... don't be jealous..... it is really my only big book purchase each year!

-------------------------

No fancy book cover collage - no time to build one - but here is the list of books I picked up today:

The Alienist by Caleb Carr - love historical fiction
Boo by Rene Gutteridge - just cause :-)
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell - Yes, I do plan on reading this someday
The Colony of Unrequited Dreams by Wayne Johnson - adding to my Canadian author collection
Common Life by Jan Karon - this is book 6 in a series and the only book I was missing from my set
The Complete Essex County by Jeff Lemire - Dived on this one when I saw it!
Drood by Dan Simmons - another historical fiction I have been meaning to get around to reading
Far North by Marcel Theroux - looked interesting
Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel - another book I have been wanting to get my hands on
Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips - A friend of mine loved this book and I like the cover
Gourmet Rhapsody by Muriel Barbery - some people collect Virago Press books, I collect Europa Editions - read this as a library book - now mine!
Home by Marilynne Robinson - loved Gilead so pounced on this one once I saw it
The King's Man by Pauline Gedge - loved the first two books in the trilogy, happy to finally obtain book three!
The Knife Sharpener's Bell by Rhea Tregebov - the cover grabbed my attention, followed by the premise
Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay - Another Canadian author to add to my collection and about time I read this one
Little Criminals by Gene Kerrigan - another Europa for my collection, a nice looking crime story
The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry - this one looks like such fun!
Men at Arms by Evelyn Waugh - interesting premise (WWII satire of sorts)
Night Train to Nykøbing by Kristjana Gunnars - a tiny novella that was impossible to resist
Old Filth by Jane Gardam - another Europa and a perfect fit for my Orange reading
Radleys by Matt Haig - interesting premise to this one
Rage of the Vulture by Barry Unsworth - historical fiction set during the breakdown of the Ottoman Empire
River of the Brokenhearted by David Adams Richards - another book by one of my favorite authors
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts - I have been hunting for this one since reading fmgee's review
The Siege by Helen Dunmore - caving to all the positive LT reviews for this one
To The End of the Land by David Grossman - the premise caught my attention
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire - this looked FUN!
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel -finally caving on this one and now ready for the group read
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins - because I do plan on reading this one next year.

88susanj67
May 13, 2012, 3:23am Top

Wow, that's a great haul of books! I've read Gods Behaving Badly and Wolf Hall and loved them both.

We finally have some sun here too, so I am going to spend the day outside, reading yesterday's library books. I also like the idea of a reading week per month, and have enough acrrued holiday to do it for the next six months, but I don't think they'd let me, sadly!

89IrishHolger
May 13, 2012, 9:25am Top

Fantastic collection of books you got a hold of. I haven't read a single one of those yet.... though a good number have been on my Wish List for quite some time.

90lkernagh
May 13, 2012, 6:13pm Top

> 88 - Hi Susan, Thanks! I am quite happy with my haul ;-) Nice to see that you have had a sunny weekend. I hope our sunny weather stays but sadly, I have my doubts.

> 89 - Hi IrishHolger - Thanks!

91dudes22
May 13, 2012, 6:15pm Top

Nice haul of books. A few I've read or wanted to read. I managed to snag 13 at a local library sale yesterday.

92lkernagh
May 13, 2012, 6:18pm Top

Book #34 - The Technologists by Matthew Pearl - audiobook narrated by Stephen Hoye
Category: - Don't know much about a science book - Science as a theme



"Technology is the dignity that man can achieve by bettering himself and his society."
My introduction to the works of Matthew Pearl was an entertaining one that put an adventuresome spring in my step as I listened to it over the past two weeks during my daily walking commute to and from work and various walking errands.

Pearl's historical mystery/thriller, set predominately in 1868 Boston Massachusetts, is atmospheric in capturing the time period. The story starts off with a horrific disaster in the Boston Harbour on a foggy night - a night that sees ship compasses suddenly 'malfunctioning', with a number of vessels colliding and sinking. While Boston tries to make sense of this disaster and stem the superstitious beliefs of it citizens, the financial district is suddenly struck by a new incident where all the glass in the immediate area mysteriously liquifies.

While this story could have been written with a dark, sinister feel to it, Pearl has created a somewhat more lighthearted mystery/thriller by having his self-appointed investigators of these unusual occurrences to be a collegiate group of young adults attending the new Institute of Technology, known today as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Institute is in its infancy and about to have its first graduating class from a school that focuses on the polytechnic approach to teaching - emphasizing laboratory instruction in such things as metallurgy, surveying, chemistry, architecture and engineering. The Institute's students are dedicated to the study of technology and are aware of the leery and anti-science nature that a number of Bostonians' view the Institute and its teaching methods as straying from the traditional lecture approach of Boston's older and more favored educational institution - Harvard.

While filled with fascinating actual facts regarding science along with some somewhat fanciful technological creations for the time period, the story does not get bogged down in these science/technology details. Friendships forged, collegiate rivalry with Harvard and romantic interests developed keeps this story open to a broader spectrum of readers. As a historical mystery fan I loved how Pearl balanced his story - just the right amount of mystery and suspense to keep me guessing while allowing me the breather to sit back and get to know the characters and Boston of the time period.

This one also worked well as an audiobook for the 30 minute intervals I listened to it during my daily commute - easy to pick up where I left off over staggered periods of interrupted listening. I enjoyed learning while listening to the afterword that Pearl had based some of the characters in the story on real individuals he came across during his extensive research into MIT's history.

Overall, a solid historical mystery piece that has convinced me to give more of Pearl's works a go.

Decimal Rating: 3.79
4.25 - Plot Development
3.50 - Character Development
3.75 - Writing Style
3.50 - Premise
3.75 - Imagery/Visualization
4.00 - Length

Star Rating: 4.00 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: Audiobook
# of Pages: 496 pages (18 hours, 15 minutes listening time)
Source: GVPL
Male/Female Author: Male

--------------------

Next Up:
Currently listening to Mr. g by Alan Lightman and continuing to read Quinine: Malaria and the Quest for a Cure That Changed the World by Fiammetta Rocco.

93lkernagh
May 13, 2012, 6:21pm Top

> 91 - Hi Betty - You posted as I was preparing my post! Nice to see you stopping by. 13 books at your local library sale is a good haul! I never seem to score anything when I venture to my local library sales.

94SouthernKiwi
May 14, 2012, 2:46am Top

Hi Lori, things are good at the moment :-) In amongst all your lovely new books there are several that I'm lining up myself, and a couple that I've seen in the shops and wondered about so I'll look forward to your reviews when you get them.

95DorsVenabili
May 14, 2012, 9:46am Top

#92 - Great review! I'll put this on my wishlist and will probably listen, via audiobook, as well.

96DeltaQueen50
May 14, 2012, 1:27pm Top

Hi Lori, congratulations on such a great haul of books! The Complete Essex County was a real favorite of mine, I hope you love it as well.

97GingerbreadMan
May 14, 2012, 6:15pm Top

>87 lkernagh: Great haul! I deeply recommend you go for Cloud atlas sooner rather than later. One of my best reads this year!

98mathgirl40
May 14, 2012, 8:14pm Top

I was happy to see your review of The Technologists as I had heard about it from other sources and was curious about it. It sounds like a novel I would enjoy and I've added it to my wishlist.

99hailelib
May 14, 2012, 9:43pm Top

I'm reading The Technologists now and really liking it at about the half-way point.

100cammykitty
May 15, 2012, 12:12am Top

Yes, great haul! I also can recommend Cloud Atlas. We had a great group read of it last year. Ditto for The Woman in White. I've got Old Filth on my shelves too and am hoping to join the Wolf Hall group read that is coming up. You should have fun with those books!

101psutto
May 15, 2012, 7:33am Top

ditto on cloud atlas one of my best reads ever, interested in your thoughts on the alienist which I picked up recently and galileo's daughter which I've had my eye on since reading longitude

102The_Hibernator
May 15, 2012, 9:47am Top

>87 lkernagh: Wow! That's a really fantastic haul!

103lkernagh
May 15, 2012, 11:25pm Top

> 94 to 102 - Thanks everyone! All the recommendations for Cloud Atlas are duly noted, along with all the other comments.

Tricia, glad to see you are currently enjoying The Technologists!

Kerri and Paulina, I thing the story is balanced enough to read a broad range of readers so I am pretty confident that you should find it worth reading, if nothing else!

---------------

Well, I did go back to the sale the second day for a short visit and came away with the following three books:

A Month in the Country by J.L. Carr - couldn't resist this slim volume
At Weddings and Wakes by Alice McDermott - a 1993 Pulitzer Prize finalist
Soucouyant by David Chariandy - liked the premise and was surprised to get the little volume home to discover it has hit a number of literary prize short and long lists

Yup, I am pretty happy and don't anticipate the buying bug to return right away!

104lkernagh
Edited: May 16, 2012, 9:07am Top

Book #35 - Mr. g: A Novel about the Creation by Alan Lightman - audiobook narrated by Ray Porter
Category: - Don't know much about a science book - Science as a theme



What would you do if you were to wake up from a nap, bored? When this happens to Mr. g, he decides that the boredom needs to be addressed. To the stern admonishment of his Aunt Penelope and the bemused but otherwise uncommitted response of his Uncle Deva, Mr. g decides to create the universe.

This playful examination of creation a la Lightman requires the reader to check their belief systems - religious, moralistic, philosophical or hard core scientific - at the door and allow Lightman to take them on a journey. A journey that starts with an impulse by Mr. g to do 'something' which leads to the creation of time, then space and matter and from there right on to quantum physics and so on and so on........ As with real life, Mr. g's project hits interesting stumbling blocks, experiments that go awry, bouts of indecision and even the discovery that the project has taken on a life of its own. The mysterious Balfor (and his rather nasty creature Baphomet) round out the cast and provide Mr. g with an intellectual equal for debates of moralistic and philosophical nature.

Alan Lightman, a humanities and physics professor at MIT who has be involved in ground breaking research in astrophysics puts life - no pun intended - into his unique presentation of the creation of the universe, astophysics and morality. While one may question the inclusion of an Aunt Penelope and Uncle Deva in a story of such magnitude, told from the point of view of God, I found they were excellent fodder for providing the story with lighthearted portrayals of familial relationships, encouragement and guidance that readers can relate to while tackling such a heady topic. It is amusing to envision Aalam-104729, as our universe is called in the story, as something that can be mislaid and then picked up by our characters in the great expanse of the Void, much like a beach ball.

For the most part I enjoyed this story. In particular, I loved the discussions/debates Mr. g had with his aunt and uncle over his project and how the development of the project was influencing them. On the downside, I wasn't really taken with the last quarter of the book which really delved into the moralistic and philosophical discussion, and lead to my downgraded rating for this one.

Overall, a short fun story that should appeal to both scientific and non-scientific readers.

Decimal Rating: 3.33
3.25 - Plot Development
4.00 - Character Development
3.50 - Writing Style
3.00 - Premise
3.25 - Imagery/Visualization
3.00 - Length

Star Rating: 3.50 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: Audiobook
# of Pages: 224 pages (4 hours, 52 minutes listening time)
Source: GVPL
Male/Female Author: Male

--------------------

Next Up:
Continuing to read Quinine: Malaria and the Quest for a Cure That Changed the World by Fiammetta Rocco. Interesting reading but it puts me to sleep at night!

105AHS-Wolfy
May 16, 2012, 5:27am Top

Yup, I am pretty happy and don't anticipate the buying bug to return right away!

It goes away?

106hailelib
May 16, 2012, 6:54am Top

Ordered Mr. G. From the library...

107The_Hibernator
Edited: May 16, 2012, 7:11am Top

Mr g looks really good! If only I had time for every book....can't....stand....the....pressure.....

108lkernagh
May 16, 2012, 9:13am Top

> 105 - Okay... not really.... but it has tempered, for now, my impulse buying to be more restricted to the 'Ooohh, shiny!' books! Yah, like that makes a difference..... ;-)

> 106 and 107 - I hope you both enjoy it and really...... no pressure!

109lkernagh
May 17, 2012, 11:03pm Top

Just a quick note to say that I will be off-line for the next 8 days and will be back to get caught up with everyone next weekend.

110mamzel
May 18, 2012, 11:38am Top

Have fun, whatever your endeavor!

111SouthernKiwi
May 19, 2012, 2:18am Top

Enjoy your time out Lori

112GingerbreadMan
May 20, 2012, 5:02pm Top

Have a great time AFK! See you soon!

113lkernagh
May 26, 2012, 7:59pm Top

>110 mamzel: - 112: Thanks for the well wishes! I am back after spending a week visiting family. Weather wise, not a great trip but considering the weather here at home wasn't all the great either I wasn't missing out on anything. More importantly I was happy to come home to beautiful, warm and sunny weather!

I didn't get much reading done while I was away beyond trying to stay abreast of group reads - I finished Love in the Time of Cholera - review to be posted below - and made some further headway with both 2666 and Don Quixote. I am WAY behind for both of those groups reads - finished the March reading for Don Quixote two days ago and finished Part 2 of 2666 this morning - so it looks like my reading for the next little while will be a game of catch up! I will get around to posting a small summary/status report for those two books later this weekend.

114lkernagh
Edited: May 26, 2012, 8:28pm Top

Book #36 - Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman
Category: - Don't know much about the French I took - Translated works



"It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love."
So begins Marquez's novel of unrequited love spanning over 50 years of the lives of Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza, the object of Florentino's undying love.

After finishing this one, part of me wants to say that all one needs to read is the opening sentence, but that would be cheeky of me and would deprive the reader of some beautiful writing. Sadly, the meandering nature of the story-telling and what I will classify as gaps in information in what could have been an otherwise satisfying read, left me wanting something different/better to read. Florentino is not my idea of a romantic - not as written by Marquez. He is just a little too free in the wooing of women (of all ages) for me to take his undying love for Fermina seriously, which I felt was a rather huge flaw with the story. The build up to the ending and the ending itself left something to be desired as well.

I vaguely remember seeing the movie adaptation a few years ago. After reading the story, I would recommend that readers bypass the book and watch the movie instead.

Overall, this is a story worth reading for its written prose and descriptions of South America of the time period, but not for the characters or the manner in which the plot is conveyed. The writing style was the one redeeming quality for me.

Decimal Rating: 3.42
2.50 - Plot Development
3.25 - Character Development
4.50 - Writing Style
3.00 - Premise
4.25 - Imagery/Visualization
3.25 - Length

Star Rating: 3.50 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: Trade paperback
# of Pages: 348 pages
Source: TBR bookcase
Male/Female Author: Male

115DeltaQueen50
May 26, 2012, 9:41pm Top

Hi Lori and welcome back to the west coast! You have been tackling some rather heavy books lately - perhaps it's time to pick up some fluff!

116lkernagh
May 26, 2012, 11:08pm Top

> 115 - Hi Judy! I agree.... I think it is time for some light fluff. A trip to the library next week should produce something as a change of pace. Hope you are having a great weekend!

117cammykitty
May 27, 2012, 12:34am Top

Or at least a slim volume! Sorry you didn't like Love in the Time of Cholera better. It was a long time ago when I read it, and I loved it. I later read an interview with Marquez. It was based on his parents' lives, and some of the most unbelievable things that happen in the novel really did happen. I don't remember it well enough to know what you mean about the philandering. Perhaps Marquez, being the son, *fixed* the story a bit. Or perhaps one can be a devoted husband that goes astray a bit. Possible, but I'd still make him go sleep in the car.

118lkernagh
May 27, 2012, 5:21pm Top

> 117 - Hi Katie! Hope all is well with you! I have managed to shift to a lighter read. I have started Muriel Spark's A Far Cry From Kensington on audio - a nice change of pace from the heady reading of late! As for Love in the Time of Cholera, I loved the writing and the descriptions but the story meandered a bit too much and I did get tired of reading about Florentino's various 'relationships'. I am intrigued to learn more about Marquez's basis for the story since you mention that it is based on his parents' lives, which is something I was not expecting. Most curious.

119DorsVenabili
May 27, 2012, 5:30pm Top

Hi Lori! I'm sorry Love in the Time of Cholera was a bit disappointing. That's one I've been meaning to get to at some point.

Have a lovely holiday weekend!

120cammykitty
May 27, 2012, 8:33pm Top

I was shocked when I heard it was about his own parents' lives too. It seems, well, a little far-fetched.

121-Eva-
Edited: May 30, 2012, 4:55pm Top

Just coming by to catch up after my own vacation - good to hear you got to go away as well! :) I've got to try The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt - the collage pages you posted look like fun! That's a bookhaul to envy! I read Shantaram last year and thought it was a great bio/tall tale. The Alienist was an interesting read too and I enjoyed the politics of Wicked immensely (I've not managed to love any of his other books, unfortunately). Drood is on Mt. TBR and will stay there until I'm in the mood for a proper chunkster. :) I haven't read A Month in the Country, but the film is beautiful. I've been looking at The Technologists and I might go for the audiobook as well since that format works - it doesn't always for complex plots. Loads of great books!!!

122lkernagh
Edited: May 30, 2012, 9:42pm Top

> 119 - Hi Kerri, the writing is beautiful so I hope I am not deterring too many people from reading it! I hope you had a great weekend and are now experiencing a relaxing week!

> 120 - I agree.... it does seem far-fetched so I can only hope that he took a number of liberties in what was fact and what he created for his story.

> 121 - Hi Eva, Welcome back! I hope you had a great vacation! I need to cruise over to your thread to get caught up now that you are back. Re audiobooks, I agree.... complicated plots don't work well for me in audiobook format. I tend to get distracted easily by traffic and my environment around me as I really only listen to audiobooks while walking or on public transit.

--------------------
I promised to post summary updates on my on-going reading of Don Quixote and 2666. Looks like I will now try to get around to doing that at the same time that I post my May re-cap..... which probably won't happen until this weekend.

Weather is cold and overcast. The on-going joke at the moment is that we already had our summer - that was last weekend - and we are now back into fall. Still early in the year so I am hopeful that it is just a matter of no spring and a dive right into summer next month.

123lkernagh
Jun 1, 2012, 7:55pm Top

Book #37 - A Far Cry From Kensington by Muriel Sparks - audiobook narrated by Pamela Garelick
Category: - But I do know that I love you - More books by favorite authors



After reading a number of rather heady books of late, a change for something lighter was in order. Sparks' a Far Cry From Kensington was just the right balance of circa 1950's quasi chick-lit piece with the sharp, witty humor that is, IMO, Sparks' trademark. I say 'quasi chick-lit' as the story is the reminisces of our narrator - Mrs. Hawkins as she was known at the time - narrated from her abode in Italy as she re-lives her adventures as a young woman and widowed war bride working in the world of London publishing and living in a boarding house in South Kensington.

The characters are rich and easy to visualize, as are Mrs. Hawkins adventures as an editor in what can only be described as the wacky world of literary London. This book has it all: love, fraud, mystery, anonymous letters, blackmail, death, quack medical remedies and we mustn't forget shady literary doings! Practical and forthright Mrs. Hawkins finds herself drawn into matters that really shouldn't concern her, which in turn becomes her problem. Her dislike of Hector Bartlett, an author of suspect literary promise whom she calls a 'pisseur de copie' (translated to mean "urinates frightful prose") provides insight into how small and tight the literary world is and the repercussions an off-hand comment can have on one's life, even as one feels compelled to stand by their convictions.

True to form, Sparks does not disappoint with this wonderful slice of 1950's London life. Recommended.

Decimal Rating: 3.88
4.00 - Plot Development
3.75 - Character Development
4.00 - Writing Style
3.50 - Premise
4.00 - Imagery/Visualization
4.00 - Length

Star Rating: 4.00 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: Audiobook
# of Pages: 208 pages (6 hours, 8 minutes listening time)
Source: GVPL
Male/Female Author: Female

--------------------

Next Up:
Continuing to read Quinine: Malaria and the Quest for a Cure That Changed the World by Fiammetta Rocco. Ned to get it finished as it is due back at the library next week - no more renewals allowed.

124lkernagh
Edited: Jun 2, 2012, 5:52pm Top

STATUS REPORT: As promised, here is a quick status report of my two on-going group reads.



Don Quixote Finished to end of Book 3, Part 1 - When I do get around to picking up this one, I find the story fun entertainment. I think it helps that I am reading it in small spurts. Since starting this book in January, I have so far read 184 pages of an otherwise 760 page story. If I am lucky, I may catch up with the group by December! ;-) Don Quixote is a nut, no doubt about that and one cannot help but feel somewhat sorry for Sancho and what he has gotten himself into by agreeing to be Don Quixote's squire. The tales they are told by the individuals they encounter are providing added interest to keep me reading. I don't agree with everything and figure at some point.... hopefully before 760 pages has been read.... that saner heads will prevail. Otherwise, I am looking forward to see what else Don Quixote and Sancho find themselves entangled in.

2666 Finished to end of Part 2 - While, I have now finished Parts 1 and 2 of this one. While both parts are written in Bolano's easy, fluid style of writing, I found that Part 2 was an easier story to follow - less characters, less literary allusions to try and understand - an overall more focused part of the book so far. Of course it helps that we were already introduced to Amalfitano in Part 1 so familiarity probably played a role in my appreciation of this section of the book. Overall, while the story continues to lack any cohesive direction/path that I am aware of, I have found it is easier reading if I just allow the story to go where it does and to more or less breeze over the parts - like the philosophy, the diagrams and the telepathy - that tend to stump and baffle me. It is making me wonder if madness is one of the overarching themes of the book..... Something to ponder on when I start reading Part 3.

125lkernagh
Jun 1, 2012, 8:01pm Top

May Re-Cap:

Books read:


May Book stats:
Books purchased: 33
Books read: 5
~ Books read off TBR Pile: 1
~ Books read from local library: 4
~ Books read and borrowed from friends/family: 0
~ Free book download/ER book: 0
~ Books read by male authors: 3
~ Books read by female authors: 2
Overall Pages read for the month: 1746
Average # of pages read per day: 56

Favorite book (decimal rating): The Rules of Engagement by Catherine Bush - (4.04 decimal rating)
Least favorite book (decimal rating): Mr. g: A Novel about the Creation by Alan Lightman - (3.33 decimal rating)

CATEGORY SUMMARY:
DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT HISTORY - Historical fiction - (5/6 read - 0 new)
DON'T KNOW MUCH BIOLOGY - Medical discovery/illness as a theme - (1/6 read - 0 new)
DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT A SCIENCE BOOK - Science as a theme - (4/6 read - 2 new)
~ ~ ~ The Technologists by Matthew Pearl -
~ ~ ~ Mr. g: A Novel About the Creation by Alan Lightman -
DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT THE FRENCH I TOOK - Translated works - (3/6 read - 1 new)
~ ~ ~ Love in the Time of Cholera by by Gabriel Garcia Marquez -
BUT I DO KNOW THAT I LOVE YOU - More books by favorite authors - (3/6 read - 1 new)
~ ~ ~ A Far Cry From Kensington by Muriel Sparks -
AND I KNOW THAT YOU LOVE ME TOO - Poetry - (4/6 read - 0 new)
WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD THIS WOULD BE - Plays - (3/6 read - 0 new)
DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT GEOGRAPHY - Books set in foreign lands - (5/6 read - 0 new)
BUT I DO KNOW THAT ONE AND ONE IS TWO - Next in Series - (2/6 read - 0 new)
AND IF THIS ONE COULD BE WITH YOU - "New to me" Canadian authors - (3/6 read - 1 new)
~ ~ ~ The Rules of Engagement by Catherine Bush -
NOW I DON'T CLAIM TO BE AN "A" STUDENT - Prize Winners and Shortlisted - (2/6 read - 0 new)
I CAN WIN YOUR LOVE FOR ME - Books languishing on my TBR pile - (2/6 read - 0 new)

... BUT I'M TRYING TO BE - Overflow - (0/6 read)

I am happy to report that I am at the half-way mark for my challenge with 37 books read out of a total of 74 required to complete the challenge (6 books in each category). I am hoping June will be my 'Group Read' month to move through Don Quixote and 2666 while I add Wolf Hall to the pile. I already have lighter audiobooks lined up to balance out the otherwise heavy reading for June.

Books currently in progress:

126psutto
Jun 2, 2012, 8:30am Top

The Muriel spark book sounds good, great review

127mathgirl40
Jun 2, 2012, 10:11am Top

I enjoyed your review of A Far Cry from Kensington. I've only read Spark's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and that was a long time again. Sounds like it's time to rediscover this author.

128IrishHolger
Jun 2, 2012, 1:35pm Top

>>124 lkernagh:

After a short trip to Barcelona last month I am dying to finally start reading Don Quichote. Maybe I should do it like you and read it in short bursts? It's definitely a good thought.

129lkernagh
Edited: Jun 2, 2012, 6:06pm Top

> 126 - Hi Pete, I do find Sparks a fun read. She has yet to disappoint me!

> 127 - Hi Paulina, I think you might enjoy A Far Cry From Kensington. It has a lighter feel to it but still conveys some well grounded examinations into people and cultures that comprise the world she is writing about.

> 128 - Hi IrishHolger, the good thing about Don Quixote is that it was written in stages, almost serial fashion and it is easy to pick up the book after a month a quickly get caught up with where you last left off. If you do decide to read Don Quixote it is not too late to join the group read and participate in the discussions as they have been parceled into various sections so people can jump ahead - or in my case lag behind - the group reading schedule.

-------------------------

A beautiful day here in town and I am about to get busy in the kitchen preparing birthday celebration items for a dinner tonight. I am providing a blueberry cheesecake with fresh blueberries and a homemade blueberry sauce for dessert and will be attempting a ratatouille casserole with a blend of Parmesan and asiago cheese . The casserole doesn't appear to be too difficult - although I am terrible at following recipes to the letter - so I have my fingers crossed it works out!

130GingerbreadMan
Jun 3, 2012, 4:59am Top

>123 lkernagh: Dame Muriel is one of my favorites, but that one I have yet to read. Hooray for great writers with a big catalogue!
>124 lkernagh: I think that sounds like a sensible approach to Bolaño. It will serve you well for the dulling down violence of part 4. And you have the best ahead of you: parts 3 and 5 were my favorite bits of the book.

131IrishHolger
Jun 3, 2012, 4:59am Top

Wow, you're saying just the right things about Don Quixote. Been meaning to tackle one of the larger classic novels again for ages but just don't have the time to focus on hundreds of meaningful pages in one go. Seeing that that novel, however, can be read in shorter bursts makes it sound *very* attractive reading material for me.

132lkernagh
Jun 3, 2012, 12:59pm Top

> 130 - Agreed!

> 131 - So, you will be joining the group read than....? ;-)

133IrishHolger
Jun 3, 2012, 4:41pm Top

>132 lkernagh: Very likely. ;-)

134lkernagh
Jun 11, 2012, 10:28pm Top

Book #38 - A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton - audiobook narrated by Mary Peiffer
Category: - ... But I'm trying to be - Overflow



From the prologue: 'My name is Kinsey Millhone. I'm a private investigator, licensed by the State of California. I'm thirty-two years old, twice divorced, no kids. The day before yesterday I killed someone and the fact weighs heavily on my mind...'

Yes, I am new to Grafton's alphabet mystery series. I came across it while hunting for some easy listening audiobooks to enjoy during my daily commute and I decided, what the heck, let's give this one a go. I like Kinsey Millhone as our heroine.... a sharp, spunky individual making enough from her investigations to live one but not much else. Kinsey drive an old beige VW, lives in a bachelor pad in the quiet community of Santa Theresa and gets her office space rent free from her former employer, an insurance company that she continues to conduct the odd investigation for.

In this first book in the series Millhone is hired by Nikki Fife, fresh from serving an 8 year term for the death of her husband Lawrence. Nikki hires Kinsey to find Lawrence's real killer. Kinsey finds herself agreeing to investigate a case that was closed 8 years previously only to discover that there are some loose ends and an extra dead body that is still in search of an explanation.

Grafton has a great snappy writing style and a way with creating characters that are not 2 dimensional cardboard cutouts but at the same time not so complex as to absorb all of your time getting to know them. The circa 1980s feel of this story - this one was published in 1982 - makes it a fun treat to enjoy following our PI as she conducts an investigation in a world where there is no internet, Google doesn't exist as everyone's favorite research companion, a typewriter is the business tool for correspondence and an answering service is something that is employed by businesses. No electonic voicemail in Kinsey's world!

Great fun and I will continue with the series until I run out of audiobooks or I grow tired of the series.

Decimal Rating: 3.29
3.25 - Plot Development
3.00 - Character Development
3.50 - Writing Style
3.00 - Premise
3.00 - Imagery/Visualization
4.00 - Length

Star Rating: 3.50 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: Audiobook
# of Pages: 320 pages (7 hours, 39 minutes listening time)
Source: GVPL
Male/Female Author: Female

135lkernagh
Edited: Jun 12, 2012, 8:44pm Top

Book #39 - Quinine: Malaria and the Quest for a Cure that Changed the World by Fiammetta Rocco
Category: - Don't know much about Biology - Medical discovery/illness as a theme



Quinine: The Jesuits discovered it. The Protestants feared it. The British vied for it, and the Nazies siezed it. Because of quinine, medicine, warfare and exploration were changed forever.
I have always had a personal fascination with malaria, having contracted the disease when I was 11 while living in Southeast Asia. Rocca's historical examination of nature's prophylactic and therapeutic for the disease - quinine derived from the bark of established cinchona trees native to the Andes - caught my eye as a must read. It is a detailed historical account coverig over 300 years from the 1600's through to the late 1990's and takes the reader through the sometimes shocking religious, political, and military decisions that put so many lives at risk when an at first believe and then later proven natural cure was at hand.

I should backtrack slightly to comment that I was surprised to learn that the cinchona trees were discovered in an area - the Andes - where malaria was not historically and is not now known to occur. The region lacks the hot, humid temperatures as well as the still, stagnant water environment that mosquitoes thrive in, important elements as it is certain species of mosquitoes that become carriers of the disease when they are exposed to it. That nature produces a cure in one region of the world for a naturally occurring disease that runs rampant in other regions of the world is an example of how our ecosystem has what appears to be a build in checks and balances system. The fact that the post WWII pharmaceutical manufactured chloroquine was only a short term victory in the battle of this disease - within 10 years of its manufacture it was discovered that the disease had mutated and the drug was no longer effective - makes me believe even more so now that we really need to pay more attention to the world around us as the cinchona bark has been proven to continue to treat malarial patients the chloroquine could not.

This was an interesting trip through history as Rocco builds on her family history with the disease - three generations including the author had contracted malaria - takes the reader chronologically through a series of discoveries and events in the life of the cinchona plant - knowledge that Rome has historically been a cesspool of malarial infestation for centuries, through the divide growing between the Jesuit 'powder' and Galen medicine as Europe learned of the barks curative powers for auges and tetian fevers, through Protestant fear of a catholic drug during Cromwell's reign, the colonial strive for power over the plants and really bad examples of fumbling where countless lives were lost when they didn't have to be, given the information known at the time because the powers that be just wouldn't open up their eyes and see the evidence in front of them.

As interesting a read as this was, I wish the book had gone into more details about the scientific/medical discoveries that lead to Ross's Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1902 and the medical and pharmaceutical developments of the 20th century.

Sadly, this is predominantly a pre-1900 history lesson, so if you are looking for more recent developments like I was hoping to discover, I would suggest you search elsewhere.

Decimal Rating: 3.44
4.00 - N/A
3.75 - N/A
3.75 - Writing Style
3.50 - Premise
3.50 - Imagery/Visualization
3.00 - Length

Star Rating: 3.50 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: Trade Paperback
# of Pages: 384 pages
Source: GVPL
Male/Female Author: Female

136hailelib
Edited: Jun 12, 2012, 8:25am Top

Still, from a historical point of view, Quinine sounds interesting.

137lkernagh
Jun 12, 2012, 8:47pm Top

> 136 - Agreed, the history was well written and I am happy I stumbled across this one.

138mathgirl40
Jun 12, 2012, 9:00pm Top

Glad you enjoyed A is for Alibi. I'd read several of Grafton's books years ago but not in order. I recall enjoying them very much and hope to read the series from the start one day.

139qebo
Jun 12, 2012, 10:22pm Top

Dropping in on a few starred-but-haven't-been-there-in-awhile threads... and oh dear, two books I'd never heard of Quinine and Mr g, onto the wishlist. I've already got The Technologists lined up.

Where in Southeast Asia? Is malaria completely curable? I'd had an impression that it can recur after many years.

Just read A? I think she's up to V now...

140DeltaQueen50
Jun 12, 2012, 11:23pm Top

Hi Lori, like Paulina I've read a number of Grafton's books as well. I forget exactly where I left off but I would also like to get back to that series at some point. Audlble might just be the way to get back to this series.

141-Eva-
Jun 13, 2012, 12:20pm Top

I too have read a few in the Kinsey Millhone-series and I think I left off somewhere around H because that's when my local library ran out of the audiobooks, not because I lost interest. I remember enjoying the series a lot (I used it for my commute as well!), but I can't remember details now, unfortunately.

142lkernagh
Edited: Jun 14, 2012, 2:13am Top

> 138 - Hi Paulina, I finished B is for Burglar this evening walking home and enjoyed the second book in the series even more than the first one.... which is normally the case with me and series books. I am looking forward to continuing with the series.... now if only I can find the energy in the evenings to read my physical books! I have Wolf Hall patiently waiting for me to crack the spine.

> 139 - Hi qebo, great to see you stopping by! Hope you enjoy the books when you get around to reading them!

To answer your questions, my family lived for a number of years in Indonesia as part of my Dad's work as an electrical engineer in the oil industry. Malaria is curable if it is properly diagnosed and treated. The problem with malaria is that it has a lot of the same symptoms as the flu - fevers, chills, etc - and the only way one contracts malaria is by being bitten by one of the species of mosquito that is able to carry and further transmit the parasites that cause malaria. Sadly, mosquitoes don't come equip with flashing red lights to warn the potential victim if they are a harmless blood sucker or one that will deposit a nasty parasite in you. There are four parasite species that cause malaria in humans with minor to deadly effects. My case was Plasmodium vivax which is one of the most common forms with the mildest reactions, which can include re-occurrences. Incubation periods are usually short but can encompass a calendar year or even longer, especially if you have been on prophylactic treatments for some time prior to infection. In my case we were already back living in Canada when I started experiencing symptoms and because of the length of time we had been back in Canada, my parents had to specifically request tropical disease testing to discover what was ailing me. No hospitalization was required for treatment and no re-occurences to report to date - unless the odd flu symptoms I have had over the years haven't been flu but re-occurrences - I really don't know but because of the malaria, I do know that cannot donate blood as there really are no guarantees that the parasites have been fully eradicated from my blood stream. It could be just my immune system keeping everything in check and the last thing we need is someone with a compromised immune system dealing with a malarial parasite.

Humm... that quick response turned into a rather long paragraph......

> 140 - Hi Judy, audio is definitely working for me with this series as road traffic and other distractions don't wreck my ability to follow the story.

> 141 - Hi Eva, I can see where the series was enjoyable for your commute but not overly memorable. That is probably the same feeling I will have for the books after a length of time has elapsed after reading/listening to them. Still, nice escapism!

143LittleTaiko
Jun 14, 2012, 2:44pm Top

I'm glad you are enjoying the Kinsey Millhone books. I've read all of them and have found them to all be quite enjoyable. It is amazing how much detective work she does without the aid of our modern conveniences. It's a bit refeshing to have a break from the internet and cell phones when reading these books.

144lkernagh
Jun 17, 2012, 1:23pm Top

> 143 - Thanks Stacy. There are proving to be a lot of fun!

145lkernagh
Jun 17, 2012, 1:28pm Top

Book #40 - B is for Burglar by Sue Grafton - audiobook narrated by Mary Peiffer
Category: - ... But I do know that one plus one is two - Next in series



Book two in Grafton's alphabet series carries on where book on left off. It is two weeks later and for the most part, business is usual for Kinsey as per the following description from the book's back cover:
'Business was slow, and there was nothing about Beverly Danziger to cause Kinsey concern. She was looking for her sister. She paid up front. And if it seemed a lot of money for a routine job, Kinsey wasn't going to argue. She kicked herself later for the things she didn't see. But by then she was in danger, and money was the last thing on her mind...'
I am really enjoying the series, learning a bit more about Kinsey in this one. A handful of Kinsey's acquaintances from book one show up, along with some new ones that have the potential to crop up in future books in the series. The first person writing style makes the series such a treat for me as I like the for the most part practical Kinsey with her "Oh Shit" moments, her awful diet and her loner persona. I am starting to detect a type of formula to Grafton's writing but it works for me as I enjoy listening to a book that isn't hard to follow when listened to in spaced out chunks of time. I also like how Grafton brings new and repeat readers up to speed on pertinent events the reader may not remember from book one in a fresh manner, so as to not bore readers like me listening to the books back to back. I also enjoy the build up to the suspenseful endings that Grafton crafts. On the downside, I found the plot made the odd swerve into the unbelievable at times (hence the downgrade on the rating for premise) but for the most part this was another story with interesting plot twists and unique characters.

Great fun and true to form, when a client sits down in the chair across the desk, Kinsey never knows what's going to happen next...

Decimal Rating: 3.50
3.75 - Plot Development
3.50 - Character Development
3.50 - Writing Style
2.75 - Premise
3.25 - Imagery/Visualization
4.50 - Length

Star Rating: 3.50 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: Audiobook
# of Pages: 224 pages (7 hours, 42 minutes listening time)
Source: GVPL
Male/Female Author: Female

Next Up:
Listening to C is for Corpse by Sue Grafton, continuing to read Don Quixote in the evenings - currently on Book 4 Chapter 7 - and I am 50 pages into Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.

146DorsVenabili
Jun 19, 2012, 2:25pm Top

Hi Lori - I'm enjoying your alphabet series reviews. I may try one. Recently, I've also been listening to genre fiction (mysteries and sci-fi), via audiobook, and it's working out quite well.

147lkernagh
Jun 19, 2012, 9:27pm Top

> 146 - Hi Kerri, Thanks for stopping by! I have discovered that I like my audiobooks light and uncomplicated so the alphabet series is working perfectly for me! I have been checking out my library system's audiobooks for back-up plans for when I finish or need a change of pace from Grafton's works.... paying close attention to what is 'Always available' so I don't have to wait for my turn at it in the queue. The Grafton series isn't always available but it doesn't seem to attract the large holds lists more recent publications have. ;)

148lkernagh
Jun 21, 2012, 11:36pm Top

Book #41 - C is for Corpse by Sue Grafton - audiobook narrated by Mary Peiffer
Category: - ... But I do know that one plus one is two - Next in series



Opening lines:
"I met Bobby Callahan on Monday of that week. By Thursday, he was dead. He was convinced someone was trying to kill him and it turned out to be true... but none of us figured it out in time to save him. I have never worked for a dead man before and I hope I won't have to do it again. This report is for him, for whatever it is worth."
Book three has me now happily ensconced in Grafton's formula-driven but still entertaining mysteries series. There is a definite pattern to Grafton's writing style and plot development, but it is really the characters and good old Kinsey that keep me coming back for more.

This time Kinsey is rubbing shoulders with the rich - both nouveau and established - of Southern California. Grafton continues with her attention to detail and yes, Kinsey manages to find herself in some rather sticky situations once again. What added to the enjoyment of this one was the side-bar investigation Kinsey embarks on because she and an acquaintance in the neighborhood are suspicious of the new lady love of Kinsey's 81 year old landlord. Trouble is a foot on all fronts and it is up to Kinsey to make sense of it all.

I have listened to the same reader for all three books and I have to say I am really happy with Mary Peiffer's range of vocal skills to distinguish between the different characters. Her presentation of Hungarian bar/pub owner/operator Rosie is a treat to listen to... almost makes me wish I could met Rosie in person and have her dictate to me what I will be ordering from the menu. She is such a character!

Onwards to D is for Deadbeat.

Decimal Rating: 3.56
4.00 - Plot Development
3.75 - Character Development
3.50 - Writing Style
3.25 - Premise
3.50 - Imagery/Visualization
4.00 - Length

Star Rating: 3.50 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: Audiobook
# of Pages: 243 pages (7 hours, 47 minutes listening time)
Source: GVPL
Male/Female Author: Female

------------------

Next Up:
About to start listening to D is for Deadbeat by Sue Grafton. Sadly, I am only 100 pages into Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. No time to read this week beyond listening to audiobooks during my commute so I hope to catch up on some reading this weekend. Okay, that is not exactly the truth. I have really been spending my evenings watching back to back episodes of Doc Martin, with not a book in sight. Will be running out of episodes soon and then it will be back to reading... unless another distraction comes along! ;-)

149-Eva-
Jun 22, 2012, 2:06am Top

So much fun getting caught up in a series to follow, whether telly or book, isn't it?! I do love Doc Martin! Haven't seen the latest season yet, but can't wait until I can have a binge-session. :)

150lkernagh
Jun 24, 2012, 5:33pm Top

> 149 - Hi Eva, you are correct, catching up on series is fun! Sadly we have now run out of Doc Martin episodes and I am still waiting to pick up my hold for season one of Downton Abbey which has been in transit for me for the past 4 weeks now. I think it is time to stop into the library and find out why it is taking so long. ;-)

In the meantime, I have finished another book......

151lkernagh
Edited: Jul 1, 2012, 2:56pm Top

Book #42 - Emmaus by Alessandro Baricco - translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein
Category: - Don't know much about the French I took - Translated works



"So Luca was the first of us to cross the border. He didn't do it on purpose - he's not a restless kid or anything. He found himself next to an open window while adults were talking incautiously...... For the first time one of us pushed beyond the inherited borders, in the suspicion that there are no borders, in reality, no mother house untouched."
Baricco's short novel Silk is one of my favorite novels by contemporary writers so it took a lot to contain my excitement when I came across Emmaus at my local library. While Baricco's sparse and elegant prose is evident here, Emmaus is a very different kind of story from Silk. In the more modern setting of Emmaus, Baricco dives into the world of the perils and uncertainties of youth and faith, in a very philosophical manner. Focused around four Catholic male teens - Bobby, Luca, the Saint and the narrator, all lusting after Andre, a hyper-sexual young woman - Baricco paints a fascinating portrait of the false invincibility of youth, the divide between the secular and the pious as well as the divide between youth and adulthood.

Not easy reading as the author invites the reader to engage in some level of introspection (religious, philosophical and moral) while journeying thorough the pages of this slim volume as our characters embark on their paths.
"How, for so long, could we know nothing of what was, and yet sit at the table of everything and every person met on the road? Small hearts - we nourish them on grand illusions, and at the end of the process we walk like the disciples in Emmaus, blind, alongside friends and lovers we don't recognize - trusting in a God who no longer knows about himself. For this reason we are acquainted with the beginning of things and later we experience their end, but we always miss their heart. We are dawn and epilogue - forever belated discovery."
If you love Baricco's sparse and elegant writing style, you may consider escaping for an afternoon into Emmaus. If you are looking for a love story like Silk, this isn't it.

Decimal Rating: 4.00
4.00 - Plot Development
4.50 - Character Development
4.50 - Writing Style
3.50 - Premise
3.00 - Imagery/Visualization
5.00 - Length

Star Rating: 4.00 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: Hardcover
# of Pages: 144 pages
Source: GVPL
Male/Female Author: Male

------------------

Next Up:
Continuing to listen to D is for Deadbeat by Sue Grafton and settling back into Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel which isn't grabbing me as much as I had hoped it would.

152-Eva-
Jun 25, 2012, 4:34pm Top

You're in for a treat with Downton Abbey! Just make sure you don't have anything planned for a while - you will not want to take a break once you've started watching. :)

153lkernagh
Jun 25, 2012, 9:43pm Top

> 152 - Good to know! We are expected to have nice weather here on the island for a week starting this weekend - just in time for the Canada Day long weekend! - so I think I won't ask the library what is going on with my hold for Season One of Downton Abbey just yet. With my luck, the hold will appear for pick up and I will find myself stuck indoors watching all 3 DVDs in the set over the seven day period they will restrict my check out to because of the holds already in the system.

154lkernagh
Jul 1, 2012, 9:41pm Top

Book #43 - D is for Deadbeat by Sue Grafton - audiobook narrated by Mary Peiffer
Category: - ... but I am trying to be - Overflow



This time Kinsey is hired by a mysterious recently released from prison client that wants her to track down a young man and deliver to him a $25,000 cashier's check. When the retainer cheque bounces, Kinsey ends up investigating her client and why he wants this money delivered.

What can I say.... either I am starting to tire of the series or book four really was a bit of a dud for me. Compared to the previous three books, this one was rather, dare I say, mundane. The story did pick up in the end with another one of Grafton's suspenseful last chapters that I have grown to expect but for the most part the details of this one weren't riveting material.

Time for a change of pace before slipping back into this series.

Decimal Rating: 3.08
2.75 - Plot Development
3.00 - Character Development
3.25 - Writing Style
3.00 - Premise
3.00 - Imagery/Visualization
3.50 - Length

Star Rating: 3.00 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: Audiobook
# of Pages: 229 pages
Source: GVPL
Male/Female Author: Female

------------------

Next Up:
Started to listen to Memento Mori by Muriel Spark, and continuing to read Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel - now at the halfway mark - and Don Quixote, which I have to say has been very entertaining of late!

155lkernagh
Jul 1, 2012, 9:43pm Top

STATUS REPORT: As June is now over, here is a quick status report of my on-going group reads.



Wolf Hall - About to start Part Four (page 287) - While slow to begin with, I am now settling into the style and the story. I admit, I am glazing over a lot of the historical references and have decided to not bother trying to keep all the various names straight beyond the main characters. I am enjoying Mantel's perspective of Cromwell - he is coming across more as a shrewd, intelligent and more compassionate individual with sound fiscal policy ideas than the extreme individual I have always pictured him to be based on the snippets I learned back in my school days. Interesting picture of the time period.

Don Quixote - Almost 3/4 of the way through Book 4, Part 1 (page 311) - Book 4 so far has proved to be the most interesting for me.... probably because of all the stories told by the various travelers that have joined up with Don Quixote and Sancho at this point. Great stories of love, fair maidens, escapes and trials that they have faced. At this rate I should catch up with the group read soon.

2666 - Finished to end of Part 2 - I haven't read any further in this book since last month. July will be my "reading off the shelf" month so I will be diving back into 2666 soon.

156lkernagh
Jul 1, 2012, 9:51pm Top

June mid-year Re-Cap:

Books read in June:


CATEGORY SUMMARY:
DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT HISTORY - Historical fiction - (5/6 read - 0 new)
DON'T KNOW MUCH BIOLOGY - Medical discovery/illness as a theme - (2/6 read - 1 new)
DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT A SCIENCE BOOK - Science as a theme - (4/6 read - 0 new)
DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT THE FRENCH I TOOK - Translated works - (4/6 read - 1 new)
BUT I DO KNOW THAT I LOVE YOU - More books by favorite authors - (3/6 read - 0 new)
AND I KNOW THAT YOU LOVE ME TOO - Poetry - (4/6 read - 0 new)
WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD THIS WOULD BE - Plays - (3/6 read - 0 new)
DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT GEOGRAPHY - Books set in foreign lands - (5/6 read - 0 new)
BUT I DO KNOW THAT ONE AND ONE IS TWO - Next in Series - (4/6 read - 2 new)
AND IF THIS ONE COULD BE WITH YOU - "New to me" Canadian authors - (3/6 read - 0 new)
NOW I DON'T CLAIM TO BE AN "A" STUDENT - Prize Winners and Shortlisted - (2/6 read - 0 new)
I CAN WIN YOUR LOVE FOR ME - Books languishing on my TBR pile - (2/6 read - 0 new)
... BUT I'M TRYING TO BE - Overflow - (2/6 read - 2 new)

Overall book stats:
Books purchased: 44
Books read: 43
Books read off TBR Bookcase: 9
Books read from local library: 30
Books read and borrowed from friends/family: 1
Free book download/ER book: 3
Audiobook listened to: 11
Books read by male authors: 22
Books read by female authors: 23
* two books read co-authored by male and female author so counted both here!

Top five favorites - year to date:
The Island Walkers by John Bemrose - - 4.89 decimal rating
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi - - 4.58 decimal rating
The Conference of the Birds by Peter Sis - - 4.42 decimal rating
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes - - 4.37 decimal rating
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe - - 4.31 decimal rating

Busiest Reading Month (by page count/books read) - April (3,049 pages/12 books read)
Current page count for the year: 11,821 pages read

157cammykitty
Jul 1, 2012, 11:28pm Top

Interesting quotes from Emmaus.

158DorsVenabili
Jul 2, 2012, 6:57am Top

#151 - Hi Lori! Great review of Emmaus. I'm not familiar with the author, but I've put that one on the wishlist.

159-Eva-
Jul 2, 2012, 1:20pm Top

Great statistics for half-time!! I got Don Quixote on audiobook - hopefully that'll get me going on it.

160christina_reads
Jul 2, 2012, 4:38pm Top

I like your feature of "top 5 books of the year to date." I may end up stealing it for my own thread!

161lkernagh
Jul 2, 2012, 9:36pm Top

> 157 & 158 - Hi Katie and Kerri! Emmaus is a different kind of read. Baricco's writing style is really quite beautiful which makes me give way more to prose over plot in rating this one. This is only the second book by Baricco that I have read. Fantasticfiction lists 7 books in total so it appears I have read his debut novel Silk and his most recent and none of the books in between! I need to fix that.

> 159 - Thanks Eva! I thought about Don Quixote on audiobook but I thought all the Spanish names would confuse me - like listening to War and Peace! - but I am finding that the names are distinctive enough that audiobook probably wouldn't be the hurdle I thought it would be.

> 160 - Hi Christina, great to see you stopping by! I admit I got lazy and decided to mash both my monthly and year to date summaries into one.

-----------------

I don't return to the office until Wednesday so I have been making progress with both Wolf Hall and Don Quixote. I have decided to restart my audiobook Memento Mori as it occurred to me I hadn't been paying proper attention to the story and the various characters when I started it over the weekend. Not a problem as the first 6 chapters will be a nice refresher for me.

162The_Hibernator
Jul 7, 2012, 2:18pm Top

I can't believe you can be in the middle of so many LONG books at the same time. I try to limit myself or else I end up dropping one of them. Of course, that means that I feel that starting a long book is a huge investment....

163lkernagh
Jul 8, 2012, 11:57am Top

> 162 - Hi Rachel, there are days when even I cannot believe I am reading this long books at the same time! My reading this week has taken a serious nose dive - in part because I am not motivated to pick up the chunksters right now and because summer weather has finally arrived on the island so instead of reading I have been out and about enjoying the weather. I may curl up on the deck this afternoon and get some reading time in.... or not. ;-)

164GingerbreadMan
Jul 8, 2012, 6:51pm Top

>161 lkernagh: I hope you'll enjoy your restart of Memento Mori! I love Muriel Spark, and can really imagine her books being a treat on audio, if done by the right reader!

165IrishHolger
Jul 9, 2012, 1:37pm Top

>155 lkernagh:

You are hoping to be catching up with Group soon. But I am hoping to catch up with you. Just finished Book 2. Looking forward to Book 4 based on your comments.

166lkernagh
Jul 9, 2012, 9:46pm Top

> 164 - Hi Anders, I should be finished Memento Mori by the time you are back from your vacation at the cottage! Have a great time!

> 165 - HaHa, a race of sorts! ;-) Not sure if I will finish Book 4 of Don Quixote tonight - I have 25 pages left to read - or if I decide to settle in to try and finish Wolf Hall - I have 156 pages left to go in that book. The good news is I will definitely have some reviews/progress reports to post this coming weekend!

167lkernagh
Jul 15, 2012, 12:28pm Top

Book #44 - Walking for Fitness: The Beginner's Handbook by Marnie Caron
Category: - ... but I am trying to be - Overflow



I came across this e-book while surfing my local library's collection for fitness books and given the amount of walking that I do, I decided to download it and read while I spent part of my Saturday morning at the laundromat giving my goose down duvet a cleaning. As the title states, this quick 224 page book is a handy resource for anyone who has led a very sedentary lifestyle and has made the decision to start down the path of walking for fitness and health. Co-authored by the Sports Medicine Council of British Columbia the book has some interesting sections around nutrition and sports injuries that can occur even when embarking on walking as a fitness regime. With a forward written by Canadian Olympic bronze medalist Lynn Kanuka, this book is filled with lots of practical/common sense advice, walker profiles and touches on everything from tips on footwear, clothing, terrain walking, an overview of the psychology of exercise and how to involve your family and friends in your fitness regime.

An interesting and useful book for beginning fitness walker but a little elementary for anyone already established with an active lifestyle of one kind or another.

Decimal Rating: 3.23
N/A - Plot Development
N/A - Character Development
3.25 - Writing Style
3.15 - Premise
3.00 - Imagery/Visualization
3.50 - Length

Star Rating: 3.00 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: ebook
# of Pages: 224 pages
Source: GVPL
Male/Female Author: Female

168lkernagh
Jul 15, 2012, 12:31pm Top

Book #45 - Memento Mori by Muriel Spark - audiobook narrated by Nadia May
Category: - But I do know that I love you - More books by favorite authors



As the Latin title states, this book is about remembering your mortality, conveyed in a form and manner that only Spark can pull off with such witticism and comedy. Set in the time period for when Spark's wrote this one - 1950's London - the story concerns a group of upper middle class friends, acquaintances and their respective and equally aged servants when Dame Lettie Colston starts to receive a series of mysterious phone calls, where the caller informs Lettie that "Remember you must die". Against this backdrop of sinister calls the reader enters the world of this eccentric mix of senior citizens. In fact, the only character not 50 years of age or older is young Olive Mannering, the granddaughter of the poet Percy Mannering, one of this senior set.

Deliciously peppered with dark humour and a very frank approach to the various viewpoints of old age, death and dying, Spark's writes as one with intimate, first hand knowledge and experience of what it feels like to be old and discarded by society as 'dotty' or otherwise well beyond their prime. No mean feat for someone who was only in her late 30's - early 40's when she wrote it! Spark's characters are always first rate. No half composed wooden stick figures here. Her ability to weave such an intricate plot of mysteries and secrets into this story of such fascinating individuals also deserves praise.

I chose to listen to this one on audiobook and after two failed starts where I let my mind wander, I managed to focus my attention enough to grasp all that Spark's has pack into this otherwise short book.

Overall, I probably would have had better success with this one if I had read the book instead if listening to the audiobook.

Decimal Rating: 3.92
4.00 - Plot Development
4.50 - Character Development
3.75 - Writing Style
3.50 - Premise
4.00 - Imagery/Visualization
3.75 - Length

Star Rating: 4.00 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: audiobook
# of Pages: 228 pages (6 hours, 32 minutes listening time)
Source: GVPL
Male/Female Author: Female

169lkernagh
Edited: Jul 15, 2012, 12:35pm Top

Book #46 - Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Category: - Now I don't claim to be an "A" student - Prize Winners and shortlisted



I admit to approaching this 2009 Man Booker prize winner with some trepidation. It was a slog at first - like a number of other readers, I found the extensive use of pronouns confusing and didn't help me to appreciate the story of what is already a very confusing and convoluted period of English history. I did FINALLY settle into Mantel's writing style and while I give her high praise in creating such a fascinating character in Cromwell and in presenting the time period, the book never became a fascinating page turner for me. It took a long time to get through as I was more than willing to abandon it for days at a time and would have to apply myself to pick it up and continue reading.

While I am happy to report that I now have this one off my TBR bookcase, overall it just wasn't worth the time invested to read it. Since the Tudor's don't fascinate me, I won't be rushing out to pick up Mantel's second book in the trilogy.

Decimal Rating: 3.63
3.50 - Plot Development
5.00 - Character Development
3.00 - Writing Style
3.25 - Premise
4.00 - Imagery/Visualization
3.50 - Length

Star Rating: 3.50 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: Trade paperback
# of Pages: 672 pages
Source: TBR Bookcase
Male/Female Author: Female

------------------

Next Up:
Part three of 2666 by Roberto Bolano to get me back on track with that group read. I will also start reading Venice Noir, received as an LTER book which will be paced out over a series of days as it is a collection of short stories. On deck is Quarantine by John Smolens, recieved from NetGalley, and The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho to get me back on track with reading the books selected off my TBR bookcase.

170mathgirl40
Jul 15, 2012, 5:54pm Top

I liked Wolf Hall very much myself but it's definitely not for everybody. As you suggest, you probably do need a fascination for the Tudors to really get into it. (Mine started in my teen years with Jean Plaidy.) Several of my friends had the same complaint about the use of pronouns and also found the lengthy book a bit of a slog. I listened to the audiobook version and that helped, as the narrator used different voices for the dialogue.

171lkernagh
Jul 15, 2012, 11:13pm Top

> 170 - Hi Paulina, I agree an interest in the Tudors would help make Wolf Hall a more enjoyable read. Thanks for the heads up of Jean Plaidy as another writer of the Tudor period. I will most likely try one of Mantel's other non-Tudor works if there are any - I haven't taken the time to check out her other books.

------------------

After an interesting Friday weather wise of on and off clouds, rain, rolling thunder and lightening - thunder storms are rather unusual for the West Coast - and beautiful weather on Saturday, Sunday was a day for huddling indoors with a couple of books. As such, I have managed to get some more reading done on Don Quixote and 2666:

STATUS REPORT: for my on-going group reads.



Don Quixote - Finished Part 1, about to start Part 2 (page 363) - Book 4 continued to entertain me to the end of it and I love the cliff hanger of sorts that Cevantes uses to tweak the reader into wondering if this is the end or isn't it. Looking forward to starting Part 2 to see where the story goes from here.

2666 Finished Part 3 - I think I now have a handle on this group of connected stories that Bolano has written. Part 3 introduces a new character, and African American reporter facing a cross roads in his life when he is assigned to go to Santa Teresa to cover a boxing match. While the story is focused on our reporter, Oscar Fate, it is the tie in of characters from the previous parts and the story of the mysterious killings of the women that brings it all together in a more cohesive fashion than the previous two parts did. Bolano's approach to story telling seems more philosophical here while still maintaining his signature fluid and surreal stream of ideas storytelling. So far Part 3 is my favorite and I am looking forward to Part 4!

172-Eva-
Jul 16, 2012, 5:09pm Top

We had a thunderstorm too - and very unusual for us as well! Great reason to stay in and read. :) I've not gotten to Muriel Sparks yet, but have The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie on the potentials-list after seeing the film.

173lkernagh
Jul 16, 2012, 6:08pm Top

> 172 - Hi Eva, Spark is another very British writer - keeping in mind that she was Scottish, as my other half is very quick to point out to me! - capable of catching the tone and substance of English life, sensibilities, frivolities and culture. I am currently on the hunt for the film/TV adaptation of Memento Mori as it stars some of my favorite British actors, including Maggie Smith and Zoe Wanamaker.

174clfisha
Jul 17, 2012, 3:18am Top

Nice review if Momento Mori, on the wishlist it goes. I enjoyed The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie very much but not so much with the The Drivers Seat so I am a bit wary whichof hers to read.

175lkernagh
Jul 22, 2012, 5:47pm Top

> 174 - Thanks Claire! I am slowly working my way through Muriel Spark's works. I made a note of your review of The Drivers Seat - I haven't read it yet - and will keep it in mind when I do get around to that one!

176lkernagh
Jul 22, 2012, 5:52pm Top

Book #47 - Venice Noir edited by Maxim Jakubowski
Category: - Don't know much about geography - Books set in foreign lands



For a collection of short stories that I was going to pace myself by reading one story a night, I ended up finishing the 14 stories contained in the collection over the course of three evenings of reading. This collection of noir stories has a common theme: location. The seedier side of Venice Italy and its surrounding communities is examined in stories written by 14 unique contributors. I was delighted to discover Emily St. John Mandel and Michelle Lovric were among the contributors.

The stories are grouped into 4 parts/categories of stories:
Amongst the Venetians - stories of the dark underbelly of modern Venice;
Shadows of the Past - stories with a historical/flash of the past aspect to them;
Tourists and other Troubled Folk - self explanatory dark examination of visitors to Venice and lastly,
An Imperfect Present - for stories that really didn't seem to fit the other three categories.
As a rule, I am not usually taken with noir genre but the idea of Venice as a backdrop was enough to entice me to want to pick up the book. As with any collection of short stories, some appealed to me more than others. I found Maria Tronca's Tourists for Supper unique, written from the point of view of rats. Barbara Baraldi's Commissario Clelia Vinci left me wanting to read more of the Commissario and Inspector Franco Armati of the Venice police. I was intrigued by the mysterious woman in Maxim Jakubowski's Lido Winter and I was placed under a spell by Michelle Lovric's Pantegana Of all the stories, Francesco Ferracin's The Comedy is Over, Emily St John Madel's Drifter, Micheal Gregorio's Laguna Blues had the gritty crime feel I was expecting the stories to take.

Overall, a very interesting and unique collection that has something for everyone but may be a bit of a letdown for more dedicated readers of crime/noir genre than myself. For me, it was a delicious escape into a genre and world that I don't usually venture into as part of my reading adventures and has whetted my appetite to consider adding more stories of this nature to my reading repertoire. It has also provided me with a further glimpse at the works of authors I have previously read as well as introducing me to new authors to keep an eye out for.

This book was courtesy of LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program.

Decimal Rating: 3.65
Star Rating: 3.50 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: Trade paperback
# of Pages: 288 pages
Source: LTER/TBR Bookcase
Male/Female Author: Female/Male

177lkernagh
Jul 22, 2012, 5:54pm Top

Book #48 - The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho - translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa
Category: - Don't know much about the French I took - Translated works



I am not entirely sure what I think about this one. The fact that this is the first Paulo Coelho book I have read, I like to think that I can be excused for not quite expecting the spiritualist journey that Coehlo attempts to take the reader on. In The Witch of Portobello, the story focuses on a mysterious woman named Athena and is told from the point of view of various individuals that claim to have known her. Presented as a series of observations/stories prepared by an unidentified biographer we learn about Athena's search for her mother and her spiritual journey towards a greater enlightenment by helping those that want to to seek a path forward.

What I have written above may seem like gibberish and I have to say that is about as succinctly as I can summary this unusual book. At the end of the book, I was thankful to discover a one-pager from the author as to why he wrote the book. Coehlo writes that in The Witch of Portobello he wanted to explore the feminine side of divinity and examine why society has tried to lock away the feminine side of God. Heady stuff!

My problem with the concept of examining the feminine side of divinity is it tends to get wrapped up under the negative connotation/prejudices of the label of witchcraft, historically and even to this day. Coehlo's view is different: he sees a witch as being a woman that is capable of letting her intuition take hold of her actions, one that communes with her environment and isn't afraid of facing challenges. Using Coehlo's interpretation of what a witch is, the world is full of and does sometimes even honor such women. The concept of Mother Earth is a very ancient one, and I give kudos to Coehlo for tackling such as topic when we still live in a world where dogma looks down its nose on the idea of a Mother Earth or women willing to follow their intuitions, even in the face of mounting social resistance.

I cautiously recommend this one for readers that want to embark on a spiritual journey while reading a story, a story that provides more questions than answers. While it was tempting to abandon the book, I was captivated enough to want to learn what happened to Athena and I am glad I stuck it out to the end.

Decimal Rating: 3.44
3.00 - Plot Development
3.25 - Character Development
3.75 - Writing Style
3.65 - Premise
4.00 - Imagery/Visualization
3.00 - Length

Star Rating: 3.50 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: Trade paperback
# of Pages: 312 pages
Source: TBR Bookcase - Chosen by SouthernKiwi
Male/Female Author: Female

178dudes22
Jul 22, 2012, 7:22pm Top

Lori - I read Coelho's The Alchemist earlier this year and it also had a spiritual theme, but not in a "in your face" kind of way. It's only around 200 pages, so if you wanted to try something else by him, I would recommend it. I just checked and I gave it 5 stars, I liked it so much.

179-Eva-
Jul 23, 2012, 12:32pm Top

That whole Noir series is such a great idea - whenever I read them I get at least a couple of new authors to check out.

180lkernagh
Jul 28, 2012, 10:14pm Top

> 179 - So true Eva! It is such a great way to come across new authors.

-------------

Not much reading happening these days. Way to busy enjoying the summer weather. I haven't even listened to any audiobooks in the past week. That is not to say that I haven't been reading........ new reviews below.

181lkernagh
Edited: Jul 28, 2012, 10:19pm Top

Book #49 - Quarantine by John Smolens
Category: - Don't know much about biology - Medical illness/disease as a theme



The year: 1796
Location: Newburyport, Massachusetts
Situation: The Miranda, a ship owned by the wealthy and powerful Sumner family, now returned from a trip to the Caribbean, is at anchor in the Merrimack river basin, having been denied its request to tie up at the wharf as the town's harbourmaster, Caleb Hatch, suspects the ship may be carrying a contagion on board. A quick trip out to visit the anchored ship has Doctor Giles Wiggins demanding the yellow flag be raised and all individuals on board the Miranda quarantined for fever and not allowed to leave the ship.

So sets the stage for Smolens' quick reading historical fiction story. Smolens presents the time period and the 'outbreak' with an eye for authenticity while maintaining a writer's skill for weaving a story designed to capture a reader's interest. As a lover of historical fiction, I found this story to be the right blend of historical facts/details and entertaining fictional story-telling for a relaxing summer read. It captures it all: the unrest in the town as the contagion shows signs of spreading, the concerns of the business community of the economic ramifications of closing the harbour to all trade as well as the religious stance that the ill brought this on themselves as God's will,all building in momentum as the community - in the form of two doctors and volunteers - tries to treat the ill and stop the disease from spreading further.

The characters have just enough personality to allow the reader to like/hate/roll eyes at what they get up to and the story has enough medical details to capture my attention. The clash of medical viewpoints of the time period are enough to cause one today to gasp in horror - to think of a fever as being caused by an individual's behaviour, as a result of the imbalance of the bodies humours or as a result of a volcanic eruption on a different continent is easy to sniff at today, but are valid medical positions postulated in history.

This is more of a light read - nothing too taxing or requiring excess levels of concentration or comprehension to understand what is going on. I recommend picking up this one for a quick read if you enjoy historical fiction or have an interest in Massachusetts of the time period.

This Early Reviewer book was courtesy of NetGalley.

Decimal Rating: 3.22
3.30 - Plot Development
3.00 - Character Development
3.25 - Writing Style
3.25 - Premise
3.50 - Imagery/Visualization
3.00 - Length

Star Rating: 3.00 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: e-book
# of Pages: 336 pages
Source: ER (NetGalley)
Male/Female Author: Male

182lkernagh
Jul 28, 2012, 10:18pm Top

Book #50 - Scotland Road by Jeffrey Hatcher
Category: - What a wonderful world this would be - Plays



From the back cover:
In the last decade of the twentieth century, a beautiful young woman in nineteenth century clothing is found floating on an iceberg in the middle of the North Atlantic. When rescued, she says only one word: Titanic. The woman, is taken to an isolated spot on the coast of Maine where an expert on the sinking of the liner, a mysterious individual in his own right, has arranged to interrogate her for six days. His goal: to crack her story, get her to confess she's a fake and reveal her true identity; his one clue: her enigmatic references to an unknown place called "Scotland Road".
I realize it has been some time since I have paid any attention to my plays category so I roamed the library's shelves and came home with some interesting ones, including this one. Loved this very quick little play, a scant 48 pages in length, which reads IMO just like a thrilling short story! With only four characters, one stage setting, two acts, seven scenes and a playtime of 90 minutes (according to the playwright) this one really kept my attention. The stage directions included made this one very easy to visualize, along with the sparse props. Great characters and dialogue to engage an audience, even if they - like me - are not as a general rule fascinated with the story of the Titanic and its survivors.

If you enjoy the cat and mouse game of an interrogation, have a love for things that whiff of history and if you can lay your hands on a copy of this one, I suggest you do so. It is well worth the short one hour it will take to read it.

Decimal Rating: 3.96
4.00 - Plot Development
4.50 - Character Development
4.00 - Writing Style
3.75 - Premise
3.50 - Imagery/Visualization
4.00 - Length

Star Rating: 4.00 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: Trade paperback
# of Pages: 48 pages
Source: GVPL
Male/Female Author: Male

183tymfos
Jul 29, 2012, 12:01am Top

I rarely read plays, but that one sounds interesting.

184-Eva-
Jul 29, 2012, 7:17pm Top

I'm not a huge reader of plays either, but I'm with tymfos - sounds very interesting!

185lkernagh
Jul 29, 2012, 8:01pm Top

> 183/184 - Hi Terri and Eva! Without giving anything away, part of the attraction of the play Scotland Road is the complex characters. Over the course of the play, the validity of each characters' identity is brought into question, along with secrets being revealed. Overall, a refreshingly interesting story with a Titanic theme to it.

----------------

Another beautiful day today and I even managed to finish another book. Review to come later as I am in the process of skimming LT while I prepare dinner.

Hope everyone has had an enjoyable weekend engaging in whatever relaxing interests you may have!

186cammykitty
Jul 29, 2012, 8:24pm Top

Scotland Road makes me think I need to add a drama category next year. I have this odd feeling that I used to know Jeffrey Hatcher. Did it have any bio info on him? I used to belong to The Playwrights Center and there was a playwright active there who was named Jeffrey Hatcher. Dark black hair & beard, would probably be in his late 50s now.

187cammykitty
Jul 29, 2012, 8:30pm Top

I just googled him - it is the same guy, but ummm dark black hair doesn't describe him anymore. :)

188lkernagh
Jul 30, 2012, 4:45pm Top

> 187 - It is so cool that you have met Jeffrey Hatcher through the Playwrights Center Katie. Small world, isn't it? ;-) I am starting to have a lot of fun with the plays category and will probably continue reading plays once I have completed my category. still struggling with the poetry category a bit..... poetry doesn't seem to be for me, but I will continue and finish the category.

189lkernagh
Edited: Jul 30, 2012, 5:53pm Top

Book #51 - Seaweed on the Street by Stanley Evans
Category: - And if this one could be with you - 'new to me' Canadian authors



"I'm Coast Salish and I moved in here five years ago. Back then, storefront law-enforcement units manned by Aboriginal policemen were being hailed as bold experiments in social engineering. Nowadays, people complain that I'm running a hangout for the dregs of society. And why not? After all, crooks, drunks, hookers and cops derive from the same socioeconomic group. Cops and killers have similar levels of intelligence and ability, and the average murderer can be as charming as all get-out."
Meet Detective Silas Seaweed, a charming ladies man and formerly a member of the Victoria detective squad. Now a neighborhood cop, his 'neighborhood' - the Lower Johnson area of Victoria - involves the colourful elements of society where Seaweed is to be out of sight and out of mind of headquarters, so long as he can keep himself out of trouble, that is. When uniformed branch sergeant George Barton has Seaweed meet him out at billionaire Calvert Hunt's Foul Bay Road estate, Seaweed finds himself re-examining a 5 year old murder case and is recruited by the billionaire to search for his daughter Marcia who went missing of her own accord some 20 years previously. This trail leads Seaweed into further nasty business with a ruthless pimp, a new unsolved killing to make sense of and an attempt on his own life.

This is the first book in what is currently a six book police procedural series written by a local Victorian writer I had never heard of before stumbling across a mention of this series here on LT. This one had a lot of positives for me: Interesting street savvy lead character who tends to follow his own rules and is used to operating in that grey area that is not quite the law; solid writing; a complex, steady moving plot; characters with some substance to them; good attention to detail - although I am still trying to piece together exactly which building in real life Victoria is supposed to represent his office (I have an idea, but the distance from it to headquarters doesn't compute properly) - all interwoven with interpretations of traditional Salish tribal ceremonies and rituals made this a great Sunday read for me that was hard to put down until I finished it. Yes, the local setting is nice icing on the cake for a Victorian gal like me but shouldn't detract from non-Victorian's being able to enjoy this one and the series in general.

Yes, I will continue reading this series, if anything to find out what Seaweed gets up to next.

Decimal Rating: 4.03
4.35 - Plot Development
3.85 - Character Development
4.00 - Writing Style
3.50 - Premise
3.75 - Imagery/Visualization
4.75 - Length

Star Rating: 4.00 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: Trade paperback
# of Pages: 240 pages
Source: GVPL
Male/Female Author: Male

190lkernagh
Jul 30, 2012, 5:05pm Top

STATUS REPORT:



Don Quixote - Finished Part II, Book I up to end of Chapter 17 (page 455) - I am happy to report that I have caught up with the group read, having finished the July reading this past weekend! Book II finds our knight errant and his faithful squire off once again to seek adventures. I never saw two individuals get themselves into so many crazy and unique situations as these two do, or the antics of their do-gooder friends who only want to help Don Quixote! Onwards to see what the August reading has in store for me to discover.

191lkernagh
Edited: Jul 30, 2012, 5:52pm Top

As I won't be finishing any more books before the month ends, now is a good time to post my July re-cap:

July Re-Cap:

Books read:


July stats:
Books purchased: 0
Books read: 8
~ Books read off TBR Pile: 3
~ Books read from local library: 4
~ Books read and borrowed from friends/family: 0
~ Free book download/ER book: 1
~ Books read by male authors: 5
~ Books read by female authors: 4
* Venice Noir is a collection of short stories by both male and female authors so I counted both here!
Overall Pages read for the month: 2208
Average # of pages read per day: 71

Favorite book (decimal rating): Seaweed on the Street by Stanley Evans - (4.03 decimal rating)
Least favorite book (decimal rating): Quarantine by John Smolens - (3.22 decimal rating)

CATEGORY SUMMARY:
DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT HISTORY - Historical fiction - (5/6 read - 0 new)
DON'T KNOW MUCH BIOLOGY - Medical discovery/illness as a theme - (3/6 read - 1 new)
~ ~ ~ Quarantine by John Smolens -
DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT A SCIENCE BOOK - Science as a theme - (4/6 read - 0 new)
DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT THE FRENCH I TOOK - Translated works - (5/6 read - 1 new)
~ ~ ~ The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho -
BUT I DO KNOW THAT I LOVE YOU - More books by favorite authors - (4/6 read - 1 new)
~ ~ ~ Memento Mori by Muriel Spark -
AND I KNOW THAT YOU LOVE ME TOO - Poetry - (4/6 read - 0 new)
WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD THIS WOULD BE - Plays - (4/6 read - 1 new)
~ ~ ~ Scotland Road by Jeffrey Hatcher -
DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT GEOGRAPHY - Books set in foreign lands - (6/6 read - 1 new - CATEGORY COMPLETED!)
~ ~ ~ Venice Noir edited by Maxim Jakubowski -
BUT I DO KNOW THAT ONE AND ONE IS TWO - Next in Series - (4/6 read - 0 new)
AND IF THIS ONE COULD BE WITH YOU - "New to me" Canadian authors - (4/6 read - 1 new)
~ ~ ~ Seaweed on the Street by Stanley Evans -
NOW I DON'T CLAIM TO BE AN "A" STUDENT - Prize Winners and Shortlisted - (3/6 read - 1 new)
~ ~ ~ Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel -
I CAN WIN YOUR LOVE FOR ME - Books languishing on my TBR pile - (2/6 read - 0 new)

... BUT I'M TRYING TO BE - Overflow - (3/6 read - 1 new)
~ ~ ~ Walking for Fitness: The Beginner's Handbook by Marnie Caron -

One category completed and only 23 books left makes me a very happy person, especially considering some of the chunksters I have been reading this year! More group reads will continue to grab the majority of my reading attention for the month of August but I am confident that I should be able to spend the last month or two of the year with free reading time.

Books in progress or planned for August:


Don Quixote - Continuing with the year long Group Read (on track for August reading)
2666 - Plan to read Part 4 in August
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - August Group Read over on the 75 group - thread for the group read here (http://www.librarything.com/topic/140144)
Suttree - for the 12 in 12 Group Read

192fmgee
Jul 30, 2012, 7:46pm Top

Wow what a diverse month, great reviews. I have fallen away on the Don Quixote front... but I have not given up.

193lkernagh
Jul 30, 2012, 9:26pm Top

> 192 - Hi fmgee, 'diverse' is a good word to describe my July reading! I don't seem to be making much headway on my TBR pile but considering I haven't purchased any more books lately I consider myself as holding even.

I can see Don Quixote as a book that one either reads straight through from start to finish - not me obviously - or in sporadic spurts over an extended period of time. Either works for this one. When I abandon a book for a period of time, I tend to hate it if I then have to re-read from the start to refresh my memory as to what has happened before I can proceed further.

194mathgirl40
Jul 30, 2012, 9:28pm Top

Oooh, a new Canadian mystery writer to discover! I've put Seaweed on the Street on my wishlist. I'm sure I'll enjoy the Victoria setting. I've been to Victoria a couple of times -- what a lovely city!

195lkernagh
Jul 30, 2012, 10:29pm Top

> 194 - Hi Paulina. I agree, it is fun to discover a new writer! I hope you enjoy Seaweed on the Street should you get your hands on a copy. While the time period isn't specified, the author discloses enough identifiable pieces of information to reasonably place the story in the mid- 1990's but that is just a guess on my part.

196cammykitty
Jul 30, 2012, 11:52pm Top

Seaweed on the Street goes onto the WL. It sounds good.

Yes, small world - Sad thing my main memory of Jeffrey Hatcher is at the Playwrights Center on a night where they were reading his play and critiquing it. I don't remember anything about the play. I just remember him being so nervous that he was getting a bit short - which I learned later wasn't really like him. Glad to know someone from the Center has become successful.

197tymfos
Aug 5, 2012, 3:12am Top

Wow, Seaweed on the Street sounds good. But no library in our state system has it . . . wonder if I can stumble upon it somewhere in a used bookstore?

I looked up Scotland Road and only 2 libraries in the state system have it -- both university libraries. Not good odds for getting hold of it . . .

198lkernagh
Aug 5, 2012, 11:40am Top

Sorry for adding what appear to be obscure books to people's WL. Seaweed on the Street might crop up in a used bookstore Terri but I noticed that it is published by a local publishing house - Touchwood Editions and their books are distributed outside of Canada by Ingram Book Company. Fingers crossed you will get lucky and stumble across a copy!

199cammykitty
Aug 6, 2012, 3:37am Top

Ingram is the biggest distributor in the US. It will show up down here eventually then.

200-Eva-
Edited: Aug 6, 2012, 6:49pm Top

I can't say I'm well-read when it comes to the Canadians and Seaweed on the Street sounds excellent, so on the wishlist it goes!

ETA: And, it's available as an ebook - me likey!!

201lkernagh
Aug 6, 2012, 8:23pm Top

Hi Eva - Wow, available on ebook is great! One never knows what happens once a book, even a series, has had its initial print run so it sounds like there is an audience - beyond myself - that sees the publishers offering it now in ebook format. It is just so hard to gauge these days.....

I have received the email notification that book two in the series, Seaweed on Ice is now ready for pickup so I will probably be reading that one sometime before this month.

202lkernagh
Aug 13, 2012, 6:31pm Top

I hope everyone has been having an enjoyable August so far. I know I have! My reading has taken a nose dive over the past two weeks, what with being sucked into watching the Olympic coverage, messing around with my books for the LT Book Spine Contest and playing amateur photographer while out and about enjoying the beautiful weather.

On the reading front, I am over 300 pages into Cormac McCarthy's Suttree for the group read - I am quite blown away by McCarthy's writing here! - but it is one that I prefer to savor in small doses as opposed to a marathon read. In the meantime, I have managed to finish a collection of poetry. Review posted below to make it look as though I am accomplishing something this month! ;-)

203lkernagh
Aug 13, 2012, 6:33pm Top

Book #52 - Lost August by Esta Spalding
Category: - And I know that you love me too - Poetry



It has been a few months since I last picked up a book of poetry so I took advantage of the August TIOLI sub-challenge here to dive back in. Lost August is a collection of poems by Spalding and this collection won her the Pat Lowther Award in 2000. Divided into three sections, the poems encompass a wide spectrum of thoughts, feelings, images and memories. I preferred the poems in the first part of the book with their reflective natural island feel and focus, probably derived in part from the author's childhood experiences growing up in Hawaii. "Aperture" is a poetic story of a childhood summer of camping, swimming and following a father armed with a tripod on his quest for rocks. "Salad Days" has such a perfect retro feel to it circa the Cold War Era where one is just an observer to the potential threats of missiles and global warning concerns raised by heads of state.

Through her poems Spalding examines the hollowness of ordinary life and the uneven terrain of relationships. One cannot help but feel that pain and poetry seem to go hand in hand for Spalding, where even joy has a restrained balance to its highs. Lush in descriptive prose my overall impression of this collection is an unbalanced one. As much as I enjoyed some of the poems, others left me feeling flat and uninterested. I didn't appreciate how the poem "August" spanned 8 pages with the text only taking up a few lines at the top of each page followed by huge swaths of blank page. I guess that is one way to get your book page count up for publication purposes.

Overall, an interesting collection of poems which showcase Spalding's range and ability for descriptive, reflective prose and may appeal to other readers more.

Decimal Rating: 3.13
N/A - Plot Development
N/A - Character Development
N/A - Writing Style
2.75 - Premise
3.50 - Imagery/Visualization
N/A - Length

Star Rating: 3.00 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: Trade paperback
# of Pages: 80 pages
Source: GVPL
Male/Female Author: Female

204DeltaQueen50
Aug 14, 2012, 4:31pm Top

Hi Lori, August has been a slow month for me reading wise as well. I have finally finished my 600 plus page marathon fantasy read and now I am on the hunt for shorter books. We are having some fantastic weather and we shouldn't feel guilty about getting out and making the most of it. We can stay home and read when it rains!

205lkernagh
Aug 16, 2012, 11:30pm Top

Hi Judy - Agreed! Fingers crossed we don't re-enter the rainy season before October. I envision this weather sticking with us through September.... okay, not as hot as the past two days have been with 30'C temps but the very pleasant, temperate weather of July would suit me just fine!

206lkernagh
Edited: Aug 16, 2012, 11:42pm Top

Book #53 - British Columbia Murders by Susan McNicoll
Category: - And if this one could be with you - 'New to me' Canadian Authors



With this fabulous weather we have been having I was in the mood for something light to read with a bit of local flavour to it. After discussing an article in a local publication about some of the dark secrets of the city we live in, a friend loaned me this book as something that might be an interesting read, on the understanding that she hasn't read it yet herself and warned that the writing may be a bit elementary.

As part of the Amazing Stories series by Heritage House, this slim volume showcases six notorious cases and unsolved mysteries from British Columbia's history. Written in the style of investigative journalism and covering cases that span over 100 years, McNicoll examines an interesting mix of cases - some I remember reading about and others that were new to me:
~ ~ 1904 murder of a Chinese theatre manager in Victoria's Chinatown
~ ~ 1915 suspicious death of a pre-emption homesteader near Fort St. James in Northern British Columbia
~ ~ 1924 murder in Vancouver's wealthy Shaughnessy Heights of a Scottish nursemaid
~ ~ 1943 attack and subsequent death of Molly Justice in a Saanich park as she was walking home which received a great deal of press 53 years later when hints of impropriety prompted a provincial investigation into the conduct of the authorities involved in the case
~ ~ A Vancouver radio personality's poisoning of his wife with arsenic in the 1960's and the subsequent court cases
~ ~ a cold case from 1991 which became the first case for British Columbia's provincial Unsolved Homicide Unit and was solved through unusual DNA analysis.
At a mere 120 pages to cover the six cases it is easy to understand that McNicoll focuses on hitting the key facts and presenting information where her research indicates errors were made, key evidence was ignored, prejudices influenced decisions and perjury occurred. Whether these are in fact British Columbia's most notorious cases is subjective and open to debate. What I really liked about these stories is the interesting historical facts and unusual twists that McNicoll brings to the reader's attention - in 1904 three separate oaths were allowed when Chinese witnesses testified under the Canada Evidence Act (the Paper Oath, the Saucer Oath and the Chicken Oath), in 1943 the Coroner's Act still called for "male British citizens" to sit on the jury of a coroner's inquest (meaning three women jurors chosen had to be replaced by substitute jurors from among the spectators) and how a hatred and mistrust of Orientals in the 1920's played an influential role in the case of the Scottish nursemaid.

Not stellar writing but for me it has the right balance of facts and enticing information to keep me reading, without bogging me down in an overload of evidence and court transcriptions. This may appeal to readers with an interest in true crime stories that are easy to read in a quick sitting.

Decimal Rating: 3.00
N/A - Plot Development
N/A - Character Development
3.00 - Writing Style
2.75 - Premise
3.25 - Imagery/Visualization
3.00 - Length

Star Rating: 3.00 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: Trade paperback
# of Pages: 120 pages
Source: Friend
Male/Female Author: Female

207thornton37814
Aug 17, 2012, 7:42am Top

The British Columbia murders book sounds interesting, even if it wasn't the best book in the world.

208fmgee
Aug 31, 2012, 4:11pm Top

I keep running across the Amazing Stories series but have yet to pick one up. Sounds like the right one could make some great summer reading.

209lkernagh
Sep 1, 2012, 5:05pm Top

> 207 & 208 - Thanks Lori and fmgee, it was a fun and quick to read and I will look for more of the Amazing Stories series.

----------------------

Okay, my reading has almost completely stalled during August. I did manage to finish Suttree last night but that is all that I have new to report. September will shape up to be a return to my usual reading habits/levels.... at least I think it will! Time will tell.

Anyways, one more review and a quick monthly summary wrap-up coming up!

210lkernagh
Edited: Sep 2, 2012, 7:23pm Top

Book #54 - Suttree by Cormac McCarthy
Category: - ... But I am trying to be - Overflow



I am so happy I joined the group read for this one..... even if it did take me the entire month to make my way through it! This is my first McCarthy read and I have to say, that man is one gifted writer! His skill at capturing time and place through the written word is apparent. Reading this I almost felt as though I was back in 1950's Tennessee, McCarthy's attention to detail and choice of words/phrases perfected to convey this to the reader. His characters are colour, flamboyant real people.

The main character, Cornelius "Buddy" Suttree is a paradox we never really fully understand - a man raised in a well-to-do family that, for reasons unclear, he has turned his back on them and has chosen instead to live among and befriend the thieves, derelicts, miscreants, gamblers, whores and the poorer struggling elements of Knoxville's McAnally district. These are folks he knows from having served time with them in the workhouses, from getting stink face, drop down drunk with and from living the river life among them. Suttree connects with these people and returned to them time and again as Suttree makes new friends. Suttree's life is a cryptic one, even for the educated Suttree.

While the story is depressing in its strong portrayal of the daily scrabble for survival in what can only be described as an economic wasteland, McCarthy injects wry humour that for me, helped carry the story and made it easier to connect with the characters. One of my favorite piece of humour dialogue is the following between young Harrogate, a workhouse acquantance of Suttree's, and the local chemist when Harrogate has a scheme on how to get cash and rid the area of a potential rabid bat problem:
May I help you? said the scientist, his hands holding each other.
I need me some strychnine, said Harrogate.
You need some what?
Strychnine. You know what it is dont ye?
Yes, said the chemist.
I need me about a good cupful I reckon.
Are you going to drink it here or take it with you?
Shit fire, I aint going to drink it. It's poisoner'n hell.
It's for your grandmother.
No, said Harrogate, craning his neck suspectly. She's done dead.
The chemist tore off a piece of paper from a pad and poised with his pen. Just let me have the name of the person or persons you intend to poison, he said. We're required to keep records.
You can visualize the deadpan expression on the chemist's face during this dialogue!

McCarthy takes the reader on an amazing journey with Suttree. The writing and imagery alone make this a book worth reading, and a good thing too as the plot was thin and meandering in places and the last 50 pages were a let down for me after having kept me completely engaged for most of the book. While I was able to see, smell and almost touch the landscape presented, emotionally there was no connection, almost as though McCarthy didn't want his readers to connect with Suttree, the character, on an emotional level. A book to be read slowly and savored.

Decimal Rating: 4.17
2.75 - Plot Development
4.00 - Character Development
5.00 - Writing Style
3.75 - Premise
5.00 - Imagery/Visualization
4.50 - Length

Star Rating: 4.00 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: Hardcover
# of Pages: 480 pages
Source: GVPL
Male/Female Author: Male

211lkernagh
Sep 1, 2012, 5:20pm Top

August Re-Cap:

Books read:


July stats:
Books purchased: 0
Books read: 3
~ Books read off TBR Pile: 0
~ Books read from local library: 2
~ Books read and borrowed from friends/family: 1
~ Free book download/ER book: 0
~ Books read by male authors: 1
~ Books read by female authors: 2
Overall Pages read for the month: 679
Average # of pages read per day: 22

CATEGORY SUMMARY:
DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT HISTORY - Historical fiction - (5/6 read - 0 new)
DON'T KNOW MUCH BIOLOGY - Medical discovery/illness as a theme - (3/6 read - 0 new)
DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT A SCIENCE BOOK - Science as a theme - (4/6 read - 0 new)
DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT THE FRENCH I TOOK - Translated works - (5/6 read - 0 new)
BUT I DO KNOW THAT I LOVE YOU - More books by favorite authors - (4/6 read - 0 new)
AND I KNOW THAT YOU LOVE ME TOO - Poetry - (5/6 read - 1 new)
~ ~ ~ Lost August by Esta Spalding -
WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD THIS WOULD BE - Plays - (4/6 read - 0 new)
DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT GEOGRAPHY - Books set in foreign lands - CATEGORY COMPLETED!
BUT I DO KNOW THAT ONE AND ONE IS TWO - Next in Series - (4/6 read - 0 new)
AND IF THIS ONE COULD BE WITH YOU - "New to me" Canadian authors - (5/6 read - 1 new)
~ ~ ~ British Columbia Murders by Susan McNicoll -
NOW I DON'T CLAIM TO BE AN "A" STUDENT - Prize Winners and Shortlisted - (3/6 read - 0 new)
I CAN WIN YOUR LOVE FOR ME - Books languishing on my TBR pile - (2/6 read - 0 new)

... BUT I'M TRYING TO BE - Overflow - (4/6 read - 1 new)
~ ~ ~ Suttree by Cormac McCarthy -

212-Eva-
Sep 1, 2012, 5:44pm Top

I've been meaning to read something by McCarthy and I'm encouraged by your words about his writing - sounds like I'm in for a treat. I own a copy of The Road so I'll be starting with that one.

213lkernagh
Sep 1, 2012, 7:15pm Top

Ooohh.... I have The Road as well. I have been daunted to pick that one up based on the comments I have seen on LT regarding the bleak/dark/grim nature of the story but after reading Suttree, I think I am up for The Road!

214lkernagh
Edited: Sep 2, 2012, 7:27pm Top

Book #55 - Fences by August Wilson
Category: - Now I don't claim to be an 'A' student - Prize winners and shortlisted



When I saw banjo123's positive comments on this play and realized it would fit in to the August TIOLI theme, I added it to my reading list. The fact that I am a tad late with reading it for the August reading we will just ignore.

I will let the back cover of the copy I read briefly describe the play:
Troy Maxson has gone through life in a country where to be proud and black was to face pressures that could crush a man, body and soul. But the 1950s are yielding to the new spirit of liberation in the 1960s. It's a spirit that is making him a stranger, angry and afraid, in a world he never knew and to a wife and son he understands less and less.
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1987, Wilson's dramatic work is one I would have loved to have seen when it opened at the Yale Repretory Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut on April 30, 1985 or when it opened on Broadway two years later. Why you may ask? Because the lead role of Troy Maxson was played by none other than James Earl Jones, one of my favorite actors. It was so easy to visual JEJ in the role of Troy as I was reading this play. Apparently, Denzel Washington, another favorite actor of mine, stepped into the role more recently in 2010.

Troy is a family man from a hardworking past that has struggled and made decisions to make the life he has today for his wife and his family. When we meet Troy, he is a man in his 50s - a sanitation collector - with a grown son Lyon, and a younger son Cory by his wife Rose who is still in high school with the dream of sports in his future. A family man with a roving eye and unsettling memories of his sports hero past from playing baseball in the Negro League, Wilson has provided the perfectly flawed and very human character to depict the struggles of African Americans as he uses Troy as the voice to convey what was then and the values that are and should remain important in the liberating and changing times of the 50s and 60s.

A well written play (with one set only!) that would be an amazing treat to see performed as I don't think reading the play really does this work true justice... it is one that needs to be and should be performed to fully convey the emotion and angst Wilson intends to be experienced by its audience.

Decimal Rating: 3.79
3.25 - Plot Development
3.75 - Character Development
3.25 - Writing Style
3.75 - Premise
3.75 - Imagery/Visualization
5.00 - Length

Star Rating: 4.00 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: Trade Paperback
# of Pages: 101 pages
Source: GVPL
Male/Female Author: Male

215cammykitty
Sep 2, 2012, 11:33pm Top

Oooo!!! I saw Fences at the Penumbra theater. It was incredible! & yes, it should be performed.

216GingerbreadMan
Edited: Sep 4, 2012, 5:56pm Top

August Wilson has yet to be staged in Sweden. Which is truly and sadly remarkable. We talked a lot about his work at Riksteatern when I was there, but never found quite the match for us. It's interesting: the black experience is sadly underrepresented on stage here - due mostly, I think, to the fact that Sweden's history as a multicultural society is relatively short. But it's like there is a SWEDISH black history that needs to be told here first - in order to let Wilson's plays be the universal plays they often are.

I haven't read Fences, but I'm sure I will.

I've liked both the McCarthy books I've read (The road more than Blood meridian, though.) Suttree sounds good too.

217lkernagh
Sep 4, 2012, 10:05pm Top

> 215 - Soooooo envious! ;-)

> 216 - What you have written about Swedish black history needing to be told first makes sense. A local voice/history is important so that it can't be overshadowed by another nations viewpoints. It is almost second nature to engage in those kinds of discussions here is Canada where we keep blurring the line between the two countries. Sometimes it is the differences/uniqueness that make the telling of the history so important.

218cammykitty
Sep 4, 2012, 10:28pm Top

GBM - Interesting comments - I hope someday that changes.

219banjo123
Sep 8, 2012, 4:40pm Top

I am glad you liked Fences.
Interesting discussion about local black history. It reminded me of August Wilson's point of view on staging all-black versions of Death of a Salesman
“To mount an all-black production of a ‘Death of a Salesman’ or any other play conceived for white actors… is to deny us our own humanity, our own history, and the need to make our own investigations from the cultural ground on which we stand as black Americans… It is an assault on our presence, and our difficult but honorable history in America; and it is an insult to our intelligence, our playwrights, and our many and varied contributions to the society and the world at large.”

Not sure I agree with Wilson on that one --I am sort of for anything that brings more work for non-white actors. But it is an interesting point.

220lkernagh
Sep 9, 2012, 6:07pm Top

> 219 - Interesting. I have to admit to having not read Death of a Salesman but Wilson's comment leads me to want to read the play and then try to visualize it with an all-black cast to see if that visualization might change my viewpoint of Miller's story!

----------

We are slowly sliding back into cooler fall-like weather which is great as I am finding myself back with my books more often than out and about. They are predicting rain which would be nice, it has been a rather dry summer and the moisture would be welcome.

Two more books finished - that actually count in my categories! - and reviewed in the posts below.

221lkernagh
Sep 9, 2012, 6:11pm Top

Book #56 - E is for Evidence by Sue Grafton
Category: - But I do know that one and one is two - Next in series



'E' is for evidence: evidence planted, evidence lost. 'E' is for ex-lovers and evasions, enemies and endings. For Kinsey, 'E' is for everything she stands to lose if she can't exonerate herself: her license, her livelihood, her good name. And so she takes on a new client: namely, Kinsey Millhone.
It is the Christmas/New Years holiday season and Kinsey is given a routine insurance claim investigation by California Fidelity to conduct a site inspection of a recent warehouse fire at the company owned by the family of one of Kinsey's former schoolmates. When a mysterious $5,000 appears in her bank account and someone raises suspicions at California Fidelity that Kinsey is on the take, Kinsey finds herself grappling for answers to clear her name. When a blast from her past shows up in town, things just get more complicated..... not the quiet holidays that Kinsey was expecting with all of her friends out of town.

Sliding back into this series was as easy as reconnecting with an old friend for a visit, aided by the fact that the same reader has been narrating the audiobooks I have been listening to since the "A" book. The time warp back into the 1980's - the world of Smith Corona typewriters, where people smoke in hospital waiting rooms and bugging devices that would today belong in a museum - bring back fond memories of the era. Nothing stellar or prize worthy literature here.... just some great escapism that I am enjoying dipping into from time to time and I look forward to the next book in the series, F is for Fugitive.

Decimal Rating: 3.58
3.75 - Plot Development
3.50 - Character Development
3.50 - Writing Style
3.25 - Premise
3.50 - Imagery/Visualization
4.00 - Length

Star Rating: 3.50 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: audiobook
# of Pages: 224 pages (7 hours, 10 minutes listening time)
Source: GVPL
Male/Female Author: Female

222lkernagh
Edited: Sep 11, 2012, 1:52pm Top

Book #57 - City by Alessandro Baricco - translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein
Category: - But I do know that I love you - More books by favorite authors



Excerpt from the back cover:
Somewhere in America lives a brilliant boy named Gould, an intellectual guided missile aimed at the Nobel Prize. His only companions are an imaginary giant and an imaginary mute. Improbably - and yet with impeccable logic - he falls into the care of Shatzy Shell, a young woman whose life up till that point has been equally devoid of human connection. Theirs is a relationship of stories and of stories within stories: of Gould's evolving saga of an underdog boxer and the violent Western that Shatzy has been dictating into a tape recorder since the age of six.
I am really not sure what to say about this one. It is billed as being a metaphysical pulp fiction - didn't know that when I picked this one up! - and I can agree that the metaphysical is present: the examinations of Monet's Waterlilies and the topography of rivers as well as the idea of man as a porch are examples that jump out at me, as well as the pulp fiction angle. While this book didn't make a lot of sense to me, I take it that it isn't supposed to in the normal sense. This was more of a sad, surreal meandering experience with weird characters and unreliable narrators - Gould's imaginary friends do a fair bit of the talking here, including the 'mute' one, Poomerang. It is recommended that the reader wrap their mind around that and get comfortable with the idea before diving too far into this one.

Shatzy's spaghetti western and Gould's underdog boxer Larry 'Lawyer' Gorman tend to steal the show at times, and a good thing too as they are relief from the heavier metaphysical elements. Overall, when reading this one it is best to just let all that is going on wash over you.... otherwise you might find yourself hopeless lost trying to decipher the hidden meanings that might... or might not... exist. The layers of stories became hypnotic for me with some really good comic bits worked into this exploratory work. An exploratory work that would fail except for the skilled writing of Baricco and Goldstein's translation which keeps the story conversational in tone.

What really surprised me is how different City is from Baricco's other works - namely the stunning and lyrically beautiful Silk and the quietly thought provoking Emmaus. I never expected this style of writing/genre to exist in Baricco's repertoire. Once I got past the shock, I was able to settle in and enjoy the book.

Part of me wonders what I will be in for when I pick up my next Baricco to read.....

Decimal Rating: 3.79
4.00 - Plot Development
3.75 - Character Development
4.00 - Writing Style
3.50 - Premise
3.50 - Imagery/Visualization
4.00 - Length

Star Rating: 4.00 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: Trade paperback
# of Pages: 336 pages
Source: GVPL
Male/Female Author: Male

*Edited to fix touchstone for book.

223cammykitty
Sep 10, 2012, 3:50am Top

Great review of City. I can't decide if I think I would like it, or would not. Good for Surreal September though.

224lkernagh
Sep 10, 2012, 10:57am Top

I keep forgetting about Surreal September, along with Serials and Sequels September. Thanks for the reminder!

225The_Hibernator
Sep 10, 2012, 11:59am Top

Nice review of City! It looks very interesting...I like "weird" books. :)

226lkernagh
Edited: Sep 10, 2012, 5:25pm Top

> 225 - The more I mull over the book the more I like it.... it is really starting to grow on me. If you like weird, different or just plain unusual you will probably like City!

227-Eva-
Edited: Sep 10, 2012, 11:53pm Top

"metaphysical pulp fiction"
That sounds quite intriguing. Great review! *thumbing*

228drachenbraut23
Sep 11, 2012, 1:55pm Top

*delurking* hi Ikernagh - such a great review on City - This one has gone on straight to my wishlist - I also do like "weird". Thumbed you.

229lkernagh
Sep 11, 2012, 10:45pm Top

> 227 - Eva, I think you would really enjoy this one. Once you get comfortable with it, it is amazing what a quick read it is!

> 228 - Hi drachenbraut23, thanks for the delurk and the thumb!

230tymfos
Sep 11, 2012, 11:31pm Top

I'm intrigued by the idea of "metaphysical pulp fiction," too! Can't say I've ever read anything that would fit that description.

231lkernagh
Edited: Sep 16, 2012, 9:56pm Top

Book #58 - Dreams and Due Diligence: Till and McCulloch's Stem Cell Discovery and Legacy by Joe Sornberger
Category: - Don't know much Biology - Medical discovery/illness as a theme



1998. The year embryonic stem cells were discovered in humans and the year scientists made it possible to grow human stem cells in cell culture. For the scientific community, this was the start of what was to become a landslide of mainstream stem cell research news to inundate the lay person and make stem cell research news front and center in newspapers and news broadcasts, not just relegated to the audience of peer review journals and scientific symposiums. For the average man-on-the-street individual, this was groundbreaking, unheard of news. The laborious steps that helped to set the protocols and pave the way for this groundbreaking research, still relegated to the dustbin as unimportant.

Swing back in time to a Sunday afternoon in 1960 where on the 6th floor of the Ontario Cancer Institute, better known as the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, Ernest Armstrong McCulloch detected 'bumps' on the spleens of research mice that had received bone marrow injections. Working with his colleague, James Edgar Till, the two further examined the 'bumps' and then wrote a research paper published February 1961 in a niche academic journal called Radiation Research that would stand the test of time reporting the discovery of hematopoietic (blood-forming) stem cells. Till and McCulloch went on to publish three more research papers: a 1963 paper demonstrating the clonal nature of spleen colonies and a second paper that same year explaining the distribution of the colony-forming cells in spleen colonies followed by a 1964 paper on the stochastic (sporatic) model of stem cell proliferation, creating the intellectual framework of stem cell biology that continues to be used by researchers today.

Sornberger's examination of the field of stem cell research over the past 50 years - from Till and McCulloch's original discovery through to the 2011 publication date of this book - and his interviews with many of the scientists that have revolutionized the field of cellular research and regenerative medicine is a fascinating read, if this kind of scientific research catches your attention. It does for me. Besides his 'walk through time' approach to presenting the stem cell research discoveries to date, I really appreciated the balanced approach Sornberger took in the chapter focused on the very heated topic of the morals and ethics of stem cell research. To quote Sornberger:
People often forget that stem cells are used in medical practice on a daily basis. Every time a bone marrow transplant succeeds in saving a cancer patient's life, it is thanks to the hematopoietic stem cells that rebuilt the blood supply to fight off the leukemia. Cloning? In its simplest terms, it just means making a number of identical cells from a single one. The human body does it every day.
There are just too many amazing scientists and scientific breakthroughs to name here without delving into attention-grabbing name-dropping. While the book started off as another one of those 'why don't Canadian researchers get the attention they deserve' kind of publications, I like how comprehensive Sornberger was in including the ripple effect of stem cell scientific advancements that have occurred over the decades - developments that have piggybacked on the work of previous developments to get the field where it is today and to give it the momentum, and solid foundational grounding to continue to move forward into tomorrow. Sornberger states this best:
Till and McCulloch figured out how the first key pieces fit together in the gigantic jigsaw puzzle that is stem cell science. Others have since added, and continue to add, connecting pieces. The big picture, however, is still far from clear. Old frustrations, such as the early failures in bone marrow transplantation, have given way to new ones, such as the inability to do more transplants for more people.
The field of stem cell research is a fascinating one that will continue to attract my interest as new research unfolds. This book was a great primer to get up to speed on the developments to date and where the scientists behind this breakthrough research see us heading in the future.

Decimal Rating: 4.13
N/A - Plot Development
N/A - Character Development
4.25 - Writing Style
4.00 - Premise
N/A - Imagery/Visualization
N/A - Length

Star Rating: 4.00 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: Hardcover
# of Pages: 184 pages
Source: GVPL
Male/Female Author: Male

232lkernagh
Sep 16, 2012, 7:33pm Top

> 230 - Hi Terri, Nice to see you here! Yup, metaphysical pulp fiction is a unique one for me. If you do decide to delve into it, I will be curious to see what you think of it.

233cammykitty
Sep 16, 2012, 9:18pm Top

Lori, Dreams and Diligence looks interesting. Is it pretty readable for a layperson?

234lkernagh
Edited: Sep 16, 2012, 10:01pm Top

Hi Katie - For the most part it is readable for the layperson as it takes a journalistic biographical approach to the field. Sornberger does take the time to explain things like the science but it can get heavy at times and would be best read a chapter or two at a time. I read it over 7 days, balancing it with lighter reading like my continued reading of Don Quixote and listening to F is for Fugitive.

235-Eva-
Sep 16, 2012, 11:49pm Top

I was part of a stem cell research while I was at Uni (or rather, I donated a shedload of my own for research), so I might have to look into Dreams and Diligence as well! Can't claim it was wholly altruistic, though, since I did get paid... What can I say, who wasn't in need of cash that time of life? :)

236lkernagh
Sep 17, 2012, 12:08am Top

Hi Eva, I have to say I learned a lot about stem cells and the different types of stem cells - embryonic stem cells, progenitor cells, cancer stem cells - yes, research seems to be indicating that some cancers appear to be are caused by rogue stem cells in the body! - and the induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells). As for altruistic... your stem cell 'donation' was still a plus in the advancement of research and understanding of these amazing little things!

237-Eva-
Sep 17, 2012, 12:24am Top

Fair enough, I wouldn't have done it if I hadn't believed in the research, money or no, so semi-altruistic perhaps. :) Putting it on the wishlist - sounds fascinating!

238SouthernKiwi
Sep 17, 2012, 3:44am Top

Dreams and Diligence looks good, I remember doing a project for my biology class in my final year at high school and being completely fascinated. This is definitely one for the Wishlist!

239psutto
Sep 17, 2012, 8:32am Top

I like the fact you describe Don Quixote as lighter reading than dreams and diligence ! Great review and one to add to my ever growing WL

240dudes22
Sep 17, 2012, 4:43pm Top

Science was probably my least favorite subject in school and I found my eyes starting to glaze over in your second paragraph so I skipped to three and kept going. It sounds like it was a very approachable take on the subject although there will still be people that will take offense at it.

241lkernagh
Sep 17, 2012, 6:54pm Top

> 237 - :-)

> 238 - Some of the projects/medical studies mentioned in the book were fascinating.

> 239 - Well Pete, for me Don Quixote is entertaining but I can see where some would find it a huge slog to get through!

> 240 - Agreed Betty, the more science pushes barriers and makes progress the more concerns of how far they should be allowed to go will be raised. induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) are artificially derived by similar to natural pluripotent stem cells (like emberyonic stem cells) in many aspects which may raise the alarm. What I hope to see is more and more stem cell cultures being used to test new drugs in development and test them earlier in the development cycle with the hopes that the cell cultures will be able to detect flaws in the drugs without having to resort to expensive clinical trials in humans to find these problems.

242cammykitty
Sep 17, 2012, 11:07pm Top

One of my friends was doing just what you were mentioning - using stem cells to test drugs on them. It's going on the WL, but I'm giving myself permission to bail if it goes over my head. ;)

243mathgirl40
Sep 18, 2012, 9:09am Top

Dreams and Diligence sounds like a very interesting read. Great review!

244lkernagh
Sep 18, 2012, 8:53pm Top

> 242 - Katie, it is so cool to learn that you know someone that has been using stem cells for that purpose! I think we all should have the caveat that is a topic goes over our heads we can abandon the reading!

> 243 - Thanks Paulina!

---------

Making a mental note if the length of this thread. I plan on making a new thread at the end of the month - in line with the start of the last quarter so I apologize if the thread is slow in loading for some viewers!

245GingerbreadMan
Sep 20, 2012, 5:23pm Top

>222 lkernagh: I read City a number of years ago, and can honestly say I remember close to nothing from it. Your review is interesting enough to make me ponder a re-read though!

>231 lkernagh: "the book started off as another one of those 'why don't Canadian researchers get the attention they deserve' kind of publications" caught my eye. Is that a common genre in Canada?

246lkernagh
Edited: Sep 20, 2012, 8:31pm Top

Hi Anders - hope you are feeling better! I think my memory of City will be rather fuzzy in a couple of years.... it is such an unusual book, but I am pretty sure I will have no problem remember the spaghetti western Shatzy was writing in the story..... in a way, it kind of reminded me of The Sisters Brothers, but only in the loosest of senses.

"the book started off as another one of those 'why don't Canadian researchers get the attention they deserve' kind of publications" caught my eye. Is that a common genre in Canada?

For some reason that I am at a loss to explain, this is the second book I have encountered this year alone that raises the grip of the 'unknown/under-appreciated Canadian scientist/medical professional'. It also seems to crop up in some of my recent journal article readings. I don't know if it is a tactic the author is using to covey the need to make the story known but I can say that it is my experience that traditionally Canadians haven't really been a nation to go to great lengths to publicly applaud developments unless there is a communications arm driving the news outwards or the media has taken the bull by the horns and made the information front and center in viewers/readers minds. I do know that we have usually been quieter than our southern neighbors about these things. Sornberger did make an interesting comment in the book - that universities in the US have a built in complete media relations drive that ensures research advances discovered there make the news and get recognition. I know our universities do their best and maybe it is a sign of the times that we are more prepared now to seek the recognition that previously didn't seem to be in the forefront as much or more possibly it is because of the internet that it is easier now than decades ago to get that wide reaching recognition that crosses boundaries.

247lkernagh
Edited: Sep 22, 2012, 10:23pm Top

Book #59 - The Raven's Seal by Andrei Baltakmens
Category: - Don't know much about History - Historical Fiction



Midnight has fallen on the darkened streets of Haught and Battens Hill, and the watchman saith, All is well. We have prospered by the day, set our lock and bolt, and tried the windows, and all is well. Want, murder, desperation, and despair still roam in the filthy alleys and tenements of The Steps and breed countless wrongs in their path, yet the watchman passing cries, All is well. The watchman clears away the hungry children, who hunt for scraps behind the New Theatre while a nobleman's carriage rolls by, but decent folk turn, sighing in their sleep, and faintly hear the report: all is well. The prison gates are shut, and what is within is surely confined there, and touches us not; therefore, all is well.
Set in the 18th century English city of Airenchester, Thaddeus Grainger is a member of the idle well-to-do young gentlemen that frequent the drawing rooms of Airenchester's wealthy as well as it lower tap rooms. A man without a firm direction or purpose to his life until the day he defends the honour of a common girl by challenging his longtime rival Piers Massingham to a duel... a duel they both walk away from only to have Massingham's body discovered hours later and Grainger on trial for murder.

What a deliciously dark tale of mystery, deceit, corruption and betrayal Baltakmens weaves! This story takes the reader into the divergent worlds of Airenchester with its glittering society life and the dank squalor of the slums and its stone fortress prison, the Bellstrom Gaol. While one might see some similarities here to the work of Dickens, for me the story pays homage in part to the dark, smoldering emotion and vengeance found in of Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo as Grainger works to uncover the secret web that has landed him in prison with debtors, thieves, highwaymen and cutthroats of all kinds. With fantastic attention to detail it was easy to picture the characters and the setting. The plot keeps a steady rhythm to it and while the mystery itself was something I was able to figure out in advance of the disclosure, I loved the intricate twists and turns and how some of the pieces fit together.

This was a pleasantly surprising page turner for me, in part because I found the characters well crafted and the dialogue intelligent and witty. The overall dark, heavy Victorian feel to the story made this a great atmospheric story to sink into with just a slight hint of romance - and I do mean slight! - making it a very welcome change of pace from my recent reads and something I was looking forward to continue reading at the end of the work day.

Overall, a very satisfying mystery for readers that enjoy stories of murder and corruption in a 18th century setting.

This book was courtesy of Librarything's Early Reviewer Program.

Decimal Rating: 4.19
3.75 - Plot Development
4.40 - Character Development
4.00 - Writing Style
3.75 - Premise
4.75 - Imagery/Visualization
4.50 - Length

Star Rating: 4.00 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: Trade Paperback
# of Pages: 406 pages
Source: LT Early Reviewer Program
Male/Female Author: Male

248cammykitty
Sep 22, 2012, 9:45pm Top

Great review of The Raven's Seal. I'll keep my eyes open for it.

249lkernagh
Edited: Sep 22, 2012, 10:30pm Top

Katie, I do hope you manage to read it..... I am now on the hunt for his first novel, The Battleship Regal, which my library does not have in its catelogue.

Edit to add: Okay, so the touchstone for Battleship Regal takes me to a book that appears to be sci-fi in genre..... not my cup of tea so now not so upset my library doesn't have it!

250cammykitty
Sep 23, 2012, 3:17pm Top

Odd - how can the first novel be so different? But that is same other, and definitely looks like old school sf.

251lkernagh
Sep 23, 2012, 4:52pm Top

Tell me about it! ;-)

252lkernagh
Edited: Sep 23, 2012, 5:12pm Top

Book #60 - Miss Leavitt's Stars: The Untold Story of the Woman Who Discovered How to Measure the Universe by George Johnson
Category: - Don't know much about a Science Book - Science as a theme



Part of the Great Discoveries series of books, this one caught my eye as a biography of sorts of Henrietta Swan Leavitt, who's 1920's discovery of a new law became a cosmic yardstick for astronomers trying to measure the size of our universe. It was Leavitt, during her work at the Harvard College Observatory who made the discovery that there exists a relationship between the luminosity and the period (the 'blink') of Cepheid variable stars.

Sadly, the title of this book is a bit of a misnomer for me as Johnson admits upfront there is scant information available regarding Miss Leavitt. No journals, notebooks or files of her correspondence (beyond those retained by other astronomers) appears to exist. As such, while the book starts out focused on Leavitt and her work as a human "computer" for the Harvard College Observatory - calculating the positions and luminosities of stars in astronomical photographs - this book is more of an examination of the various theories, extrapolations, corrections and further refinements that astronomers have made over the past two hundred years in their quest to find standard measurements.

The field of cosmology is an interesting one and I can see how frustrating it must be for scientists working in the field to accept that their standard yardsticks - such as Cepheids as standard candles for luminosity or extrapolation of the measurements of a closer galaxy being used as a standard candle to determine the distance of an other galaxy - are crude yardsticks that makes assumptions such as the universe operating on constants. I also found interesting the scientific works of Edward Pickering, Edward Hubble and Harlow Shapely and their personalities.

What the book did do was intrigue me to want to hunt out further books that explore the human 'computers' in more detail, as the scant information Johnson includes here, the human 'computers' were low paid (1920's rates were $10.50 for a 7 hour day - 6 day work week) and were predominantly women as most men were not interested in such tedious work. Some were disgruntled - who wouldn't be! - but others, like Celia Payne managed to climb out of the human computer pool to chase their own scientific careers.

I also loved the mention it makes of The Observatory Pinafore a humorous skit written in 1879 as a rewrite of Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore with the inhabitants of the Harvard Observatory and the work they do as the play. Harvard University has made the text of the play available on their website. Quite a fun, quick read for anyone interested!

Overall, an okay dip into the field of astronomy and the struggle to find standard measurement to gauge the size of the universe by but not exactly what I was expecting when I picked this one up.

Decimal Rating: 3.00
N/A - Plot Development
N/A - Character Development
3.25 - Writing Style
2.75 - Premise
N/A - Imagery/Visualization
N/A - Length

Star Rating: 3.00 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: Hardcover
# of Pages: 176 pages
Source: GVPL
Male/Female Author: Male

253lkernagh
Edited: Sep 23, 2012, 9:46pm Top

Book #61 - Mrs. Packard by Emily Mann
Category: - What a wonderful world this would be - Plays



I admit it was the cover art that caught my eye first for this play. This play is a great story of an individual's battle against injustice, made even greater by the fact that the play is based on the true life story of Elizabeth Parsons Ware Packard, a 19th century American advocate for the rights of women and people accused of insanity.

First performed in May 2007 at the McCarter Theatre Centre, this play comprises of two acts and an interesting overlap of settings and dialogue. Throughout the play, the audience is juxtaposed between 1861 Illinois with Elizabeth's incarceration in the Jacksonville Insane Asylum against her will on her husband's word and the 1864 Kankakee City Illinois courtroom where a judge and jury hear witnesses attesting to Elizabeth's sanity and insanity.

Religion (the battle against old school Calvinist teachings), theology, the rights of women and the lack of humane treatment of patients of the time period play a large role here. This is a passionate play that is designed to awaken raw emotions in the audience to the shocking oppression that occurred. According to the ensemble listing, this play can be performed with only 4 male, 5 female and a few ensemble members to play all the roles. I believe the overlap of two scenes at the same time probably works better performed than in written form.

Overall, a very interesting play that was a bit of a shock to read. For those of you interested in Elizabeth's life story, the Wikipedia article provides a good summary of her life as it was presented in the play, with the play delving more into the possible mindset of Elizabeth while committed and the experiences of the inmates she encountered during her time there.

Decimal Rating: 3.85
3.75 - Plot Development
3.85 - Character Development
3.50 - Writing Style
4.25 - Premise
4.25 - Imagery/Visualization
3.50 - Length

Star Rating: 4.00 Stars
Book Stats:
Format: Trade Paperback
# of Pages: 108 pages
Source: LT Early Reviewer Program
Male/Female Author: Female

254lkernagh
Sep 23, 2012, 11:17pm Top

Well, I had the time and decided tonight was as good a night as any to move things over to my third thread. Feel free to follow the continuation thingee link below or click HERE

This thread is now

255lkernagh
Sep 24, 2012, 3:20pm Top

> 248 - Hi Katie, I just noticed that The Raven's Seal is a Read Now e-book over on NetGalley.

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