VictoriaPL's 2016 Reading

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VictoriaPL's 2016 Reading

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Edited: Mar 30, 2016, 8:49am

Being a hopeless optimist, here I am for the 2016 Category Challenge. 8 categories, going for 40 books in 2016, which will improve on my 2015 numbers. I am thrilled at the thought of spending the upcoming year with friends, old and new (that would be you, not the books)!

I could be off to a slow start, cataract surgery on both eyes is scheduled for January. Or not, we'll see. I may be so happy to see again I just might surprise myself.

APRIL - Jane Eyre, Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte, The Flight of Gemma Hardy? and definitely As the Crow Flies (with cbl_tn)
SEPT - 102 Minutes Blind Sight

Edited: Feb 24, 2016, 8:43am

1. Boooooks Innnn Spaaaaace
(Generally, Space Program history but could be some Sci-Fi)

1. The Time it Takes to Fall by Margaret Lazarus Dean 1.17.2016
2. Wheels Stop: The Tragedies and Triumphs of the Space Shuttle Program, 1986-2011 by Rick Houston 2.23.2016

Edited: Mar 10, 2016, 3:25pm

3. YA

1. The Raft by S.A. Bodeen 2.2.2016
2. I Remember You by Cathleen Davitt Bell 2.6.2016
3. Renegade by J.A. Souders 3.10.2016

Edited: Apr 11, 2016, 9:35am

4 Hard Habit to Break
(Serial fiction I'm in the midst of)

1. Junkyard Dogs by Craig Johnson 1.30.2016 Longmire #6
2. Hell is Empty by Craig Johnson 2.25.2016 Longmire #7
3. As the Crow Flies by Craig Johnson 4.10.2016 Longmire #8

Edited: Mar 26, 2016, 9:12am

5. Shiny!
(Unplanned reads that must happen NOW)

1. Silent Joe by T.Jefferson Parker 1.21.2016
2. Crazy Love You by Lisa Unger 3.3.2016
3. Angel Fire by Lisa Unger 3.18.2016
4. Gray Mountain by John Grisham 3.25.2016

Edited: Dec 28, 2015, 4:27pm

6. Old Friends

Edited: Mar 15, 2016, 3:37pm

7. Other Non-Fiction

1. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer 2.26.2016
2. Introverts in the Church by Adam S. McHugh 3.15.2016 (with cbl_tn)

Edited: Jan 27, 2016, 2:33pm

8. Other Fiction

1. The Continental Op by Dashiell Hammett 1.5.2016
2. a land more kind than home by Wiley Cash 1.26.2016

Dec 28, 2015, 9:47pm

Hope you have a wonderful year reading! I have you starred.

Dec 28, 2015, 11:38pm

Good to see you here!!

Dec 29, 2015, 7:01pm

Good luck this year, with your reading and surgery!

Dec 29, 2015, 7:09pm

Good luck with the surgery and have a good reading year!

Edited: Dec 29, 2015, 10:33pm

Welcome back!!

My father had cataract surgery on both eyes, two weeks apart, in November. Now he barely needs reading glasses.

Dec 30, 2015, 12:52am

We've got some overlapping categories. Looking forward to seeing what you read in 2016.

Dec 30, 2015, 7:53am

I hope you make out well with your surgery. My sister just had one eye done and said the difference is amazing in her vision. I'm probably the only person who wishes she would get cataracts (I know it's wrong, but ...).

Dec 30, 2015, 1:15pm

Hi Victoria:

Got you starred and I wish you good luck with the surgery. My mom had hers done last year and now she can see specks of dust for me to clean that she didn't see before :)

Dec 30, 2015, 1:35pm

Thank you all for the well-wishes. I am sure it will go well. I am most concerned about the two weeks when one eye is fixed and one eye is not.

Dec 30, 2015, 1:50pm

I'm excited that you're almost about to get these cataracts removed! It'll be good to see. Do you have any audiobooks or podcasts lined up for while you're healing?

Dec 30, 2015, 2:27pm

I hope you enjoy success with your surgery. In the meantime I hope you might enjoy audiobooks. I can recommend the narrator, Simon Vance. Or binge listening to a series like Downton Abbey in anticipation of the new season starting soon.

Dec 31, 2015, 12:20am

Great to see you here and wishing you success with your eye surgery!

Dec 31, 2015, 12:48am

Here's wishing you tons of good audiobooks with good readers. You'll be happier once the surgery is over. I'm sure it will go well. :)

Dec 31, 2015, 11:53am

My husband had a month between his cataract surgeries and it didn't slow him down at all. Of course, everyone is different ...

Have fun with your reading in 2016!

Dec 31, 2015, 8:19pm

Welcome back, and best of luck with your surgery!

I just realized there will be no more tandem Pink Carnation reads for us, since the series is finished! *sobs* But I'll still be following your reading with interest. :)

Jan 1, 2016, 1:10am

>24 christina_reads: True. But surely we can find something else to read together!

Edited: Jan 1, 2016, 5:56am

Good luck with your surgery and have fun with your reading!

Jan 1, 2016, 4:44pm

Jan 1, 2016, 8:59pm

>27 lkernagh: thanks Lori! Happy New Year to you as well!

Jan 4, 2016, 1:48pm

Happy New Year and a speedy recovery!

Jan 5, 2016, 12:51am

Happy New Year!

Jan 5, 2016, 5:48am

I'm hoping that all went well with the surgery and you'll soon be experiencing a much clearer world.

Jan 5, 2016, 10:01am

Good luck with the surgery and of course for the challenge!

Jan 5, 2016, 1:19pm

Thanks everyone! First surgery is Monday the 11th.

Jan 5, 2016, 2:26pm

Happy New Year, Victoria, and good luck with your surgery. I had my eyes done a couple of years ago and it's true about seeing dust specks afterwards that I didn't notice before! Reading wise, I don't remember slowing down too much and my eyes were done about a month apart.

Jan 5, 2016, 9:12pm

Eye surgery.... how did I miss that? Will be thinking goods health vibes for you on the 11th.... I have a dentist appointment that day so easy for me to concentrate on good thoughts for you will I get the usual clean and check up done.

Edited: Jan 5, 2016, 10:29pm

1. The Continental Op by Dashiell Hammett 1.5.2016

I wasn't sure what to start my year with. Then suddenly I was in the used bookstore and this slim volume caught my eye. Hey you. Yeah, you. You know you can't pass up a Hammett. So true. I had high hopes. There were flashes of genius but it never broke out into the page-turning glee of its Maltese brother. The Continental Op is no Sam Spade.

The Chinese set down his tan bag and shook his head. "There will be no killing," he drawled, "or there will be quite a bit of killing. You don't mistake my meaning, do you, Hook?" - The House in Turk Street

Jan 5, 2016, 10:37pm

Too bad the Hammett didn't pan out this time.

And good luck with your eye surgery!

Jan 6, 2016, 12:21am

Good luck with the surgery - hope all goes well!

Jan 6, 2016, 4:12pm

>36 VictoriaPL: Too bad that one wasn't better.

Jan 10, 2016, 10:30pm

2. The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck 1.10.2016

"But you took the job, Lieutenant. Will you stay with it or quit it? We can't take care of your soul."
Prackle stood up. "Thank you, sir."
"And the girl," Lanser continued, "the girl, Lieutenant, you may rape her, or protect her, or marry her - that is of no importance so long as you shoot her when it is ordered."
Prackle said wearily, "Yes, sir, thank you, sir."

I knew very little about the book before I started in. In truth, I like that. Unlike my real-life adventures, I prefer my literary journeys to be an unanticipated exploration.

The tale is centered between an occupying force and the occupied town. The startling moment of their new reality of life together. The unrest that falls like the blanketing snow. The hard choices that have to be made when things get down to the nitty gritty of the war business.

I was surprised at how small it was when the librarian handed it over. The forward was a fifth of the entire length of it. I briefly read how it caught like wildfire over in Europe during WWII. Resistance groups furtively printed tens of thousands of copies of it and being caught with a copy could be a death sentence. How frightened people can be of the kind of courage the written word can draw forth.

I'm glad I spent a few hours with it and I recommend it if you like war stories or psychological tales.

Jan 11, 2016, 4:16am

>40 VictoriaPL: I love Steinbeck. This sounds powerful and like a worthwhile read.

Jan 11, 2016, 9:19am

>40 VictoriaPL: I don't think I've ever read that particular Steinbeck novel. Sounds like it is one that is worthwhile.

Jan 11, 2016, 12:18pm

I've never heard of that one, and what an interesting story of its power. You got me with a BB!

Jan 11, 2016, 6:42pm

>43 mstrust: Wow! A BB!

Jan 12, 2016, 9:50am

Great review of The Moon is Down!

Jan 12, 2016, 10:04am

The Moon is Down sounds great - book bullet for me.

And good luck with your cataract surgery - I had mine a couple of years a part. From my experience I was fine during the period in between, but I'm sure your situation is different. One eye was much worse and I waited to do the other one. I was just so amazed with how clear my vision was afterwards, colors were amazing - closing the bad eye, the comparison was as if I had a brown piece of gauze covering my eye, beautiful!

Jan 12, 2016, 10:12am

A quarter of my vision is now stunningly in focus. Once the other eye is done (2 weeks) and I have up-close readers, it will be amazing! Very excited and so thankful.

Jan 12, 2016, 2:10pm

Yay! I'm so glad it went well. And now you can look forward to the next procedure, now that you know exactly what to expect.

Jan 12, 2016, 2:12pm

Great news that the first procedure went well, Victoria. I read The Moon Is Down a couple of years ago and really was impressed with it.

Jan 12, 2016, 3:18pm

I'm so glad your surgery went well. Hoping your next one is just as good.

Jan 12, 2016, 4:50pm

Glad to hear your first surgery went well! :)

Jan 12, 2016, 5:54pm

Glad to hear it went well.

Jan 12, 2016, 6:16pm

Whew, glad the first eye went well and that the world looks fresh and new! :)

Jan 12, 2016, 8:04pm

>47 VictoriaPL: Glad the first procedure went well. Hope the next one will also.

Jan 12, 2016, 11:59pm

Ah, thanks for the Hammet and Steinbeck reviews. As for the Hammet - but the cover is sooo handsome! How can it be a dud! As for Steinbeck, you reminded me why that book got on my wishlist. Hopefully I can get to my WL this year, mwahaha, before it spreads and takes over the world!

Jan 14, 2016, 1:15am

>40 VictoriaPL:
Nice review. I rather like Steinbeck, although I've only read a couple of things by him. I keep meaning to read more by him. A good short read sounds like just the thing.

Jan 14, 2016, 1:35pm

Whew! Finally picked up some readers so that I could see my electronic devices and (more importantly) books! Now to get back to The Time It Takes to Fall.

Jan 14, 2016, 3:50pm

I have that in my TBR somewhere and will be interested to see what you think of it.

Edited: Jan 14, 2016, 4:06pm

>58 dudes22: Hi Betty. I want to finish it before the anniversary. I've been enjoying it so far. I really identify with her writing, with this one and also Leaving Orbit.

Jan 15, 2016, 7:22pm

Glad to hear your procedure went well! Good vision is such a precious thing for a book worm. :)

Jan 16, 2016, 5:09am

Good news that the first one went well. Hope the next is equally as successful.

Jan 17, 2016, 10:28pm

Good news on the eye surgery!

Edited: Jan 19, 2016, 12:51pm

3. The Time it Takes to Fall by Margaret Lazarus Dean 1.17.2016

Delores is a gifted thirteen-year old who wants to be an astronaut like Judith Resnik, who she admires greatly. Her father, who works on the Shuttle's solid rocket boosters out at the Cape, has taken her to several launches and she records the details of each mission in her journal. When Delores' home life implodes and the Shuttle Challenger explodes, it changes her whole world.

Last year I read Leaving Orbit and really felt a kinship with Margaret Lazarus Dean. I knew I had to read The Time it Takes to Fall. I was born and raised in Central Florida and one of my parents worked out at the Cape. I attended a flight readiness meeting once and although I never wanted to be an astronaut, I have always had an abiding affection and fascination for the space program. I have seen many shuttle launches and I saw the shuttle Challenger explode that day. I remember how all-consuming the aftermath was and so it was so easy for me to fall into this story.

I did identify with Delores quite a bit. My parents went through a rough patch when I was about her age and Delores and I even share a birthday (which gave me chills). However, there did come a point where the story lost something for me. I felt that some of the things she did were only in service to the story and not necessarily authentic to her character. But then again, young teenagers are all about exploring and finding themselves. I wouldn't classify this one as a must-read but I did enjoy my time with it.

"It seemed there was no end to the things that could have gone wrong. Already, I looked back with contempt at my younger self, when I had believed the space shuttle to be indestructible, when I had dreamt of flying on it and assumed that everything would work when I flipped the switch. Now it seemed like one big mechanical flaw, barely held together by explosive bolts. Now I knew they'd just gotten lucky all along."

Jan 19, 2016, 12:41pm

I've had this in my TBR pile for many years now. Think I'll push it up the list and maybe get to it this year.

Jan 19, 2016, 4:28pm

>64 dudes22: Hope you enjoy it Betty!

Jan 19, 2016, 8:55pm

Just popping in to say hi!

Jan 19, 2016, 9:15pm

>66 thornton37814: Thanks for dropping by Lori

Jan 22, 2016, 12:09am

The Time is Takes to Fall sounds wonderful. The connection to space history sounds interesting.

Jan 22, 2016, 9:49pm

4. Silent Joe by T.Jefferson Parker 1.21.2016

"The idea struck me that I was inheriting my father's friends, as well as his enemies. I just wasn't positive which was which, I wondered if Will was. You only had to be wrong once."

By day, Joe Trona is a fourth-year Sheriff's Deputy working a prison ward, trying to make sure the peace holds. By night, he's the wheel man and protection for his adopted father, Will Trona. Will is Sheriff, he knows everyone's goings on and he works the town like a chessboard. When a deal goes bad and Will is murdered, Joe has to pick up the game and figure out how all the pieces interact.

I don't have much to say about this book. The LT Recommendations engine tossed this one my way. All I had to read was emotionally and physically scarred law enforcement officer... and it reminded me of Karin Slaughter's Will Trent series, which is one of my favorites. So that's how it ended up in the Shiny! category. It was okay. I got a little weary of the mechanations. I was really tired of reading how many rounds Joe and his lady love had gone. I had to remind myself who certain characters were - never a good thing. Well, the Shiny! category is always hit or miss.

Edited: Jan 24, 2016, 10:49am

5. Dancing with the Enemy:My Family's Holocaust Secret by Paul Glaser 1.23.2016

Paul Glaser didn't want to visit Auschwitz but he was persuaded to go. Afterwards, all anyone in the group had to say to him was about that suitcase they saw displayed that had his last name on it. What did it mean? Was his family Jewish? Those questions changed Paul's life. They led him on a journey, first through diaries and long-forgotten family stories, then ultimately to a woman - his Great-Aunt Rosie. She was remarkable in many ways and thankfully he was able to meet her before she died.

Rosie Glaser was a Dutch Jew by birth, though not by religious practice. She refused to wear her star or obey any of the restrictions against Jews. Rosie loved to dance. She married a dance instructor and began to teach with him at his studio. When their marriage fell apart, she became competition for her ex-husband and he turned her in to the Germans. She and her family were sent to many camps: Westerbork, Auschwitz and Birkenau. She became mistress to more than one German officer and to entertain them, she briefly taught some of the camp guards etiquette and dance. She worked as a nurse and to avoid the hard labor camp, she agreed to allow them to perform medical experiments on her. The nurses whispered to her that she had been sterilized. For a time she was given the task of escorting people to the gas chamber. She would hand them a towel and smile to try and comfort them. Her job was then to drag the bodies out of the room once they were dead. She did not last long at this assignment and soon took a labor job, building grenades. She became ill with Typhoid, even though she had been vaccinated against it during the experiments. She weighed only 84lbs. Luckily this was towards the end of the war and, when the camp was freed, she was sent to Sweden to recuperate. There she remarried and lived the rest of her days.

World War II was not favorable to Rosie's countrymen. Three-Fourths of all Dutch Jews were killed by the Germans - more than any other country. Her story is not one of being hidden by friends or rescued by the Underground. True to herself, she lived as she wanted to and she dealt with the consequences. It was only her strong-willed, pragmatic nature that allowed her to survive the Holocaust. I found much of her experience to be horrifying but in its own way very inspiring.

Jan 24, 2016, 10:42am

That sounds like a really good book.

Jan 24, 2016, 10:59am

>70 VictoriaPL: This does indeed sound very interesting. On the WL it goes.

Jan 24, 2016, 1:13pm

>70 VictoriaPL:
Sounds like a fascinating but brutal read, which make sense since its a brutal part of history.

Jan 26, 2016, 6:53pm

>63 VictoriaPL: - What a wonderful review and personal connection, Victoria!

Jan 26, 2016, 8:23pm

Glad to see your report on FB that eye surgery #2 went well.

>70 VictoriaPL: I might have to consider that one. I usually enjoy Holocaust books.

Edited: Jan 26, 2016, 8:28pm

>71 dudes22:, >72 Chrischi_HH:, >73 andreablythe: For such a hard topic, I could not stop reading it.
>74 lkernagh: thanks! I hope she writes more books, I will definitely read them
>75 thornton37814: Thank you, I feel very blessed that everything went so smoothly. I know it sounds strange to say you enjoy Holocaust books. I do as well.

Jan 27, 2016, 11:37am

>70 VictoriaPL: Wow - sounds like a good one, I'll take a BB.

Glad to hear the cataract surgeries went well!

Jan 27, 2016, 12:01pm

>77 LisaMorr: Thanks Lisa, I still amazed at the difference in my vision. Hope you enjoy the book!

Jan 27, 2016, 4:02pm

6.a land more kind than home by Wiley Cash (1.26.2016)

The congregation of The River Road Church of Christ of Signs Following mostly keeps to themselves. Their sanctuary, converted from an old general store, has newspaper up over the windows so that no one can see what happens during services, though sometimes you can hear the singing. They are a people who cling to Mark 16:17-18, that is: the taking up of serpents, the drinking of poison, the casting off of demons and the healing of the body. One day the town mute, Christopher "Stump" Hall, sees something he wasn't supposed to and it unravels everything.

Another reviewer compared this story to a Greek Tragedy. I told my husband it was very Shakespearean but I think Greek Tragedy fits better. The unraveling of an entire family from one single event, told through three narrators. It wasn't a five-star read for me, but still enjoyable. What I liked the most is that the author drops subtle information here and there and allows the reader to put the pieces together - no spoonfeeding - for a richer experience.

Jan 27, 2016, 5:48pm

>79 VictoriaPL: Double-wow - another BB from you!

Edited: Jan 27, 2016, 6:51pm

>80 LisaMorr: Lisa, I'll try to keep it interesting!

Jan 28, 2016, 6:27am

I found the Wiley Cash book interesting and tragic. I've got his next one on my tbr.

How are the eyeballs feeling? My Dad keeps working his new, better than it's been since grade school vision into conversation. I'm so happy for you!

Jan 28, 2016, 7:34am

> 82 Kay, I'm still getting used to it. I've been wearing glasses since the first grade. I feel a little naked, a little unprotected, without something on my face. It is wonderful to see again. Still healing. Sometimes I can blink and things go a little fuzzy but we're getting there.

Jan 28, 2016, 8:21am

I know it's wrong, but I'd like to get cataracts so I could get better vision. Glad you're doing well.

Jan 28, 2016, 8:28am

>84 dudes22: Betty, I completely understand.
I never considered LASIK or anything like that because I couldn't justify the cost. Then when I developed cataracts I found out that I was never a proper candidate for laser surgery due to the shape and thinness of my eye tissue. But because they had to replace my lenses and could put in corrective, it restored my vision.

Jan 28, 2016, 10:22am

Nothing feels more like freedom than the wind on your eyeballs. Or so it's said. I wouldn't know.

Jan 28, 2016, 10:38am

Jan 28, 2016, 8:53pm

Right now, I just wish the bruise in mine would heal so people will quit asking, "What happened to your eye?" I'm hoping the redness will go away over the course of the weekend.

Jan 29, 2016, 11:46pm

>88 thornton37814:
Don an eyepatch and say it's pirate-day? :) Just kidding, hope it goes away soon and that it doesn't hurt.

Jan 30, 2016, 9:39pm

>89 -Eva-: I actually thought about doing that, but it's probably overkill.

Jan 30, 2016, 9:56pm

I'm glad your eye surgery went well. They keep telling me that I can still see well enough but it won't be too much longer I think.

Edited: Feb 1, 2016, 11:42am

7. Junkyard Dogs by Craig Johnson 1.30.2016


"You sold a barefoot man in a bathrobe a shotgun?"
His eyes focused as the humor of the situation died. "There's no law against that, is there?"

It's been a long, brutal January and the cold is driving everyone a bit crazy. A man dragged two miles down an icy road is only the first puzzle piece that leads Walt, Vic and Sancho into the midst of a family's messy business. And Walt has to deal with issues affecting his own little station tribe.

I love the way Craig Johnson writes characters. It's obvious he has lived with them for awhile, they're so fleshed out. In general with the series that I tend to follow, I could really care less about the mystery itself than the opportunities it affords me to learn about the 'regulars'. So if the 'guest stars' were written poorly, I didn't take notice or really care. Part of me wants to binge on this series but the other half of me wants to stretch it out for as long as possible.

Edited: Feb 1, 2016, 12:11pm


I did not expect to read 7 books in January - very pleased with that.
And I hit several of my categories.
All in all, a successful reading month.

On tap so far for February:
I Remember You by Cathleen Davitt Bell
The Raft by S.A. Bodeen
Wheels Stop: the Tragedies and Triumphs of the Space Shuttle Program, 1986-2011

Feb 1, 2016, 5:04pm

>92 VictoriaPL: I really need to add some Longmire books to my reading. Perhaps 2016 will be the year.

Edited: Feb 1, 2016, 5:30pm

>94 thornton37814: Lori, Longmire #1 The Cold Dish is one of my favorites! You have to pardon Vic's potty mouth though.
Have you seen any of the TV episodes?

Feb 1, 2016, 8:05pm

>95 VictoriaPL: I have not seen many of the TV episodes--maybe one or two. I have the first one on my TBR list.

Edited: Feb 3, 2016, 7:43am

8.The Raft by S.A. Bodeen 2.2.2016

I fell back as something bumped my butt, shoving me upward.
"Oh God."
Something was under the raft. Something big.

Robie is no stranger to the sea, or to island life, having lived with her biologist parents at the wildlife refuge on Midway Island and visiting her aunt on Honolulu. During the plane trip back home something terrible happens and she finds herself adrift in the vast endless blue of the water. Now she will have to dig deep within herself and find the skill and the strength to survive.

This is a YA novel and is a blazing fast read. It's not bad, but the whole time I was reading I was marking a checklist in my head. Ok, here's where she bails out water, she's sunburned, here's the shark appearance, here's the storm, etc. It's the quintessential on-a-raft-at-sea experience to the letter. For a young person who has not read this kind of thing before or seen it on TV, probably a very nice read.

Feb 3, 2016, 6:02pm

I'm disappointed that The Raft was a stellar read but I simply can't resist survival stories and have added this to my list, after all, a blazing fast read can come in handy at times!

Feb 4, 2016, 7:22am

>98 DeltaQueen50: That's true Judy!

Feb 4, 2016, 7:24am

What are you doing up so early in the morning? There's no Meatloaf to request an early morning outing!

Feb 4, 2016, 7:57am

>100 RidgewayGirl: The truth Kay? The blueberry donuts were calling to me.

Feb 4, 2016, 8:10am

That does not sound like a bad reason to get up early at all!

Feb 4, 2016, 8:11pm

>101 VictoriaPL: Did someone say blueberry donuts? YUM!

Feb 4, 2016, 10:40pm

>103 thornton37814: Krispy Kreme, Lori!

Feb 5, 2016, 8:18am

>104 VictoriaPL: Krispy Kreme does have good blueberry ones!

Feb 6, 2016, 10:34am

>97 VictoriaPL:
Ah, the checklist would kill me, I think. I might skip The Raft, despite the survival story draw.

Feb 8, 2016, 12:05pm

Blueberry donuts? Ooooohhhh.... we don't have a Krispy Kreme..... ;-(

Happy Monday, Victoria!

Feb 9, 2016, 10:42am

>107 lkernagh: Thanks for stopping by Lori! Happy Mardi Gras!

Feb 9, 2016, 11:00am

Happy Mardi Gras, Victoria! Or Fasching, as it's called in Germany. I passed so many people in costume today and when I went by the bakery on my way home at three, they were almost sold out of everything.

Feb 9, 2016, 12:01pm

>109 RidgewayGirl: I had a slice of the BEST King Cake at work. So much cinnamon filling! No baby in my slice but that's OK, I got the baby last year.

Edited: Feb 11, 2016, 9:13am

9. I Remember You by Cathleen Davitt Bell 2.6.2016

I said "Do you remember if we ever felt like this? Before?"
I spoke my question as quietly as I could while still allowing Lucas to hear. I wasn't sure he was going to know what I meant, but I couldn't stand to be more specific. I leaned my nose into the soft skin just below his shoulder and breathed.
"It wasn't like this," he said. "It was never, ever like this."

Lucas has deja vu. All the time. He knows that his relationship with Juliet isn't the together-forever type, although he wants it to be. He knows how good his hockey team is going to do his Senior year. And he knows how he's going to die. Each new memory, each detail, comes on like a vivid dream but causes debilitating headaches. His past is now his future and Lucas wants to make changes if he can.

People ask me why I read YA books. I love the angst. They're so good at that. And this one, well, it has it in spades. When I came across the title, I saw a blurb that said it was a young The Time Traveler's Wife. Well, that sold me. TTTW is one of my all-time favorite novels. And the movie still makes me cry. It's not the same "method" as TTTW in that Lucas does not pop back and forth from past-present-future. Lucas' situation is more like a possession by his older self - think J-Horror and you get the right idea.

It isn't a must-own for me but I did enjoy it and am glad that I read it. If this is your kind of thing, I encourage you to give it a try.

Feb 11, 2016, 10:19am

>97 VictoriaPL: I'm a sucker for lost at sea type stuff. Even rather predictable ones. I think I may have to seek this one out.

Feb 11, 2016, 11:07am

>112 virginiahomeschooler: I hope you enjoy it Traci!

Feb 11, 2016, 1:35pm

>111 VictoriaPL: The Time Traveler's Wife is one of my all-time favorite books too!

Feb 11, 2016, 2:05pm

>114 Tara1Reads: Have you read any of her other books?

Feb 11, 2016, 2:36pm

>115 VictoriaPL: Yes I read Her Fearful Symmetry. I liked it but it got a little too weird for my tastes. The ending... ugh no. But it was memorable for sure.

Feb 11, 2016, 2:47pm

>116 Tara1Reads: That's the one I tried. Didn't care for it.

Feb 11, 2016, 3:27pm

>117 VictoriaPL: I didn't think it was terrible, but it was no TTTW! Her other books all look like graphic novels or retellings of fairy tales. I would like to read The Night Bookmobile but my library doesn't have it.

Feb 11, 2016, 4:24pm

I've heard before that HFS wasn't that good compared to TTTW, so I've been avoiding it so far.

Feb 11, 2016, 4:48pm

>119 dudes22: Yes it's not as good as TTTW.

Feb 12, 2016, 8:42am

It has to be so terrifying to follow up a bestselling debut novel! I'm trying to think of an author who had a huge success with their first novel, who was able to do as well with the second.

Feb 12, 2016, 8:48am

>121 RidgewayGirl: True, huge success can be difficult to handle.

Feb 12, 2016, 10:05am

I think it's probably more likely for a sequel or a series than for stand alone books. Like maybe the Harry Potter series?

Feb 12, 2016, 10:22am

Betty, series are different, but aren't the second books in trilogies often the weakest ones?

Feb 12, 2016, 5:27pm

I don't seem to read a lot of trilogies so I don't know.

Feb 13, 2016, 2:20pm

>124 RidgewayGirl: The second is usually the weakest in the ones I've read.

Edited: Feb 19, 2016, 11:20am

Happy Friday Everyone!!
I'm still reading. Seems like no matter how much time I set aside to read everyday, I'm not making very much headway in either of my books. Like some book elf comes behind me and stitches on as many pages to the end as I got through that day. Hope to have some reviews for you soon.

Wheels Stop: The Tragedies and Triumphs of the Space Shuttle Program, 1986-2011 by Rick Houston
Vienna Prelude by Bodie and Brock Thoene

Feb 19, 2016, 10:58am

Happy Friday! I often feel like I'm never going to finish the book I'm reading too, so don't feel too bad.

Feb 22, 2016, 10:07am

>127 VictoriaPL: I read the book by the Thoenes years ago. I remember liking that series.

Feb 22, 2016, 11:59am

>129 thornton37814: Lori, I just finished yesterday and I did enjoy it, probably a 4 of 5 stars for me. Did you read the entire series?

Feb 22, 2016, 6:39pm

I think I read the first four or five of them. I actually didn't realize there were so many in the series. That was from the era most Christian book series went about four books before the author moved to a new series, so I may have read the first four and thought I'd read them all.

Feb 23, 2016, 9:22am

10. Vienna Prelude by Bodie and Brock Thoene 2.21.2016

He opened the door of the Packard. "There is no way to change it. No stopping it." He stepped aside for Elisa to get into the passenger seat. "There are those who will stay -" he looked at Sporer- "and those who will die." He let his eyes linger not on the woman but on the little child. Then will a sad smile, he looked straight at Elisa. "And there are those who will run away."
"Are you finished?" Elisa asked, tears brimming in her eyes.
"With you? Yes." Otto drew himself up. "Heil Hitler," he said bitterly.

Elisa Lindheim performs with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under the name Elisa Linder and very few know her secret - that she is half Jewish. They only admire the transcendent music that she is able to coax out of her violin. The way it makes them forget about the war, the ugliness, the infernal greediness of Adolf Hitler. But Hitler has not forgotten about Vienna, he has it square in his sights. Elisa and all those that she loves are in his path.

Vienna Prelude is the first in the Zion Covenant series by the Thoenes. Even though I have a penchant for WWII fiction, I was not sure if I would enjoy the book. I think it's one of the best specimens of Christian fiction that I have read. Perhaps the life-and-death big issues of war make the religious passages feel more natural. If I had a fault to find, it was that it seemed as if nearly every male in the novel instantaneously fell in love with Elisa and carried a torch for her. But the Thoenes had a plan and I should have just trusted them. The story did sweep me along and I do have my eyes set on the next installment.

Feb 23, 2016, 3:47pm

Interesting story line and I love the cover for the Thoene book!

Edited: Feb 24, 2016, 10:28am

11. Wheels Stop: The Tragedies and Triumphs of the Space Shuttle Program, 1986-2011 by Rick Houston 2.23.2016

"Atlantis touched down on runway 15 at precisely 5:57a.m. EDT, with the nose gear coming down twenty seconds later. At 5:57:54a.m. EDT, the wheels came to a stop for the final time. A Space Shuttle would never move another inch while engaged in active flight operations. "Mission complete, Houston." Ferguson called just after motion ended. "After serving the world for over thirty years, the Space Shuttle found its place in history, and it's come to a final stop." Wilmore, back at the CapCom console in Houston, responded. "We copy your wheels stop, and we'll take this opportunity to congratulate you, Atlantis, as well as the thousands of passionate individuals across this great spacefaring nation who truly empowered this incredible spacecraft, which for three decades has inspired millions around the globe. Job well done, America."

Wheels Stop is book 10 in the Outward Odyssey: A People's History of Spaceflight series. I read book 2 Homesteading Space back in 2012, and just as with that book, I became fatigued with this book. They are not light reading. This book covers every shuttle flight from the Challenger explosion to Atlantis' last run. Over 500 individuals have flown in space, and including the engineers and flight directors that were also interviewed, you can imagine that the cast of characters is daunting.

I have not previously done much reading on the Shuttle itself, even though I grew up on the Spacecoast of Florida during the Shuttle Era. I've always been more interested in Apollo for some reason. Reading about the early crews to MIR and how they learned to work with the Russians, ferrying the Hubble telescope to high orbit and then returning to fix it and the nitty-gritty of building the ISS, really laid out a good map of our thirty year journey. What I took away from most of these interviews is what a capable, adaptable individual an astronaut truly is. Nothing went 100% to plan and even when they didn't train for an exact procedure, what they did train for prepared them for doing something extraordinary for the very first time with little to no margin for error. But they came across as so human too. Many talked about how emotional they became upon performing their first EVA, going out into the vastness of space. The loss of their friends and colleagues on Challenger and Columbia. Their frustration when the decision came to close out the Shuttle program.

I wouldn't recommend this book for the casual reader. If this is a subject you read on regularly, you might want to check it out.

Edited: Feb 25, 2016, 10:59am

>134 VictoriaPL: Sounds very interesting. I may need to look at the Outward Odyssey series. I worked with an astronaut for a while, very humble guy with lots of great stories.

Edited: Feb 25, 2016, 11:25am

>135 LisaMorr: Hi Lisa! I bet he did have lots of great stories. I've been watching Secret Space Escapes on Science channel and it's also interviews with astronauts and cosmonauts. They are just full of ancedotes. I met Charlie Duke, one of the moonwalkers, in 2013 - that was my Christmas/Birthday present. He was very humble too.

Feb 25, 2016, 12:12pm

>132 VictoriaPL: I was pleasantly surprised to see this review. I have know of the Thoene's for years and attempted to read the first of the Zion Chronicles, which focuses on the new state of Israel and has the same romance and adventure themes. It must not have been the right time as I a never finished it. I will have to look at the Thoene's again in the future.

Feb 25, 2016, 12:14pm

>136 VictoriaPL: That's really cool! I met Buzz Aldrin briefly - he joined a cruise I was on that stopped at Port Canaveral. He made a presentation during the cruise and also did a Q&A session. Still going strong at 86!

Feb 25, 2016, 12:35pm

>138 LisaMorr: That's awesome Lisa!

>137 brodiew2: Thanks for stopping by Brodie. I encourage you to give the series another go. Like I said, I will definitely be continuing with book 2.

Edited: Feb 25, 2016, 1:07pm

12. Hell is Empty by Craig Johnson 2.25.2016


"You haven't seen a seven-and-a-half-foot man wearing a grizzly-bear headdress and bear cloak roaming around here anyplace?"
She looked at me, understandably worried. "No."

Raynaud Shade, a vicious sociopath, is loose in Absaroka county and it falls to Sheriff Walt Longmire to recapture him and free Shade's hostages. Walt's okay tracking him through the blizzard, what bothers him more is Shade's belief that those in the Beyond Country speak to him and that they also speak to Walt. It could be because both men have taken lives or that both men are close to death themselves.

I absolutely loved this book. Let me say that again. I absolutely loved this book! I just could not put it down and read it in under a day. I think it's my second favorite in the series, The Cold Dish still remaining numero uno. Just brilliant building on all that has gone before and also plain solid writing on Johnson's part.

I am so looking forward to reading #8 in April.

Feb 25, 2016, 2:34pm

>140 VictoriaPL: You are making me very happy with your love of #7 as it will be next up for me. Sounds like I'm in for a very good read in the future. :)

Feb 25, 2016, 2:38pm

And I've brought The Cold Dish to start on vacation this week. Good to know other books in the series continue to be good.

Feb 25, 2016, 3:23pm

>141 DeltaQueen50: I can't wait to 'hear' what you think of it Judy!

>142 dudes22: Betty, I usually feel that a series goes downhill at some point but I am very pleased at the quality Johnson continues to put forth.

Feb 26, 2016, 9:54am

I really liked Hell is Empty too. This is a great series.

Feb 29, 2016, 5:21am

Hell is Empty? I read that now!

Feb 29, 2016, 7:36am

>145 RidgewayGirl: Aw, thanks Kay. Awesome!

Feb 29, 2016, 9:20am

13. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer 2.26.2016

Most have heard about Christopher McCandless, whose wonderlust lead to his demise in the wilds of Alaska. Dubbing himself 'Alexander Supertramp' he had walked, hitchhiked and hopped rails before, finding peace on his journeys when society became too oppressive for him. He survived in Alaska for over 100 days but his insufficient preparation and ill-chosen time for the journey contributed to his death. He was twenty-four years old. Krakauer pieces together the story through interviews with those who met Chris, postcards he sent from various locales and also notes made in the few books he took along with him.

I generally like Krakauer's work. Eiger Dreams and Into Thin Air completely captivated me. This one did not. Although it is a scant 200 pages I struggled to finish it and almost Nancy Pearl'd it. I didn't really sympathize with Chris. I didn't care for the way Krakauer inserted his own story into the middle chapters. Ah well. I have another Krakauer on the list for this year and I'm looking forward to that one.

Edited: Mar 2, 2016, 8:45am


6 books read in February.

The Raft
I Remember You
Vienna Prelude
Wheels Stop
Hell is Empty
Into the Wild

I am happy with my pace but what thrills me is that I have been logging my books and writing reviews for them - I really struggled with that the last two years. When I look back at my reading logs there are books that I can't remember and no review to capture what I thought of them.

Favorite book read this month: Hell is Empty.
Least favorite book read this month: Into the Wild.

On tap for March:
Introverts in the Church
Ludwika: A Polish Woman's Struggle to Survive in Nazi Germany.

Starting off with:
Crazy Love You

Feb 29, 2016, 8:00pm

>149 VictoriaPL: I just saw Ludwika on my Kindle app so I may join you on that one. It is one of the ones that appealed to me. My big March project is War and Peace. I'm already 5% into it. Hopefully I can do 5% most days and knock it out early.

Edited: Mar 1, 2016, 7:37am

>150 thornton37814: I can't remember who first mentioned Ludwika in the group but I think several of us downloaded it. March was mentioned - should we start a thread and see who is interested?

ETA: and does anyone know WHY Don Quixote comes up as the touchstone for Ludwika?!?

Mar 1, 2016, 12:55pm

>151 VictoriaPL: I wondered about the Don Quixote touchstone myself. Feel free to start a thread, but post it here too so I can find it if I don't make it back to the unstarred ones for a few days.

Mar 1, 2016, 2:00pm

>148 VictoriaPL: I agree. I'll go once step further and say not only was McCandless unsympathetic, his recklessness was more frustrating than sad. I also agree that book was hard to get through after the first 50-75 pages which gives you most of the story.

Mar 1, 2016, 2:37pm

The movie made from Into the Wild was better than I'd expected it to be.

Mar 1, 2016, 2:42pm

>153 brodiew2: thanks for stopping by Brodie!

>154 RidgewayGirl: I have not seen the movie, Kay. I'll look and see if I can stream it from Amazon.

Mar 7, 2016, 11:10am

14. Crazy Love You by Lisa Unger 3.3.2016

Amazon Blurb: ('cause I'm too lazy today to write anything better)
Darkness has a way of creeping up when Ian is with Priss. Even when they were kids, playing in the woods of their small Upstate New York town, he could feel it. Still, Priss was his best friend, his salvation from the bullies who called him “loser” and “fatboy”…and from his family’s deadly secrets.
Now that they’ve both escaped to New York City, Ian no longer inhabits the tortured shell of his childhood. He is a talented and successful graphic novelist, and Priss…Priss is still trouble. The booze, the drugs, the sex—Ian is growing tired of late nights together trying to keep the past at bay. Especially now that he’s met sweet, beautiful Megan, whose love makes him want to change for the better. But Priss doesn’t like change. Change makes her angry. And when Priss is angry, terrible things begin to happen…

The LT recommendation engine has been pushing Lisa Unger at me like a guy on a street corner. Reading the first chapter, I can see it's a smart little engine - it knows I read Megan Abbot, Gillian Flynn, Chelsea Cain and Kate Atkinson. But that doesn't automatically get you a hall pass, engine, sit yourself back down at the desk.

I did like this quite a bit. It was dark and twisted and funny but there were spots where I didn't like it and I'm having a hard time expressing why. It's kind of like when you want a Stephen King but you're reading Dean R Koontz instead. It's in the ballpark but it's not on third going for home base.

I will definitely be giving Unger another try though! And I will keep going to the LT recommendation engine for suggestions.

Mar 7, 2016, 12:16pm

Victoria, this author sounded familiar to me, so I checked the good old Nook, and it turns out I have a few of her books and didn't realize it.

I think I will try one soon.

Edited: Mar 7, 2016, 12:18pm

>158 lsh63: Hi Lisa! So good to see you here! Let me know what you think.

Mar 7, 2016, 4:30pm

I'm trying to work my way through a couple of other books first, but I do plan to get to Ludwika soon.

Mar 7, 2016, 5:33pm

>160 thornton37814: me too Lori! I haven't heard from anyone else...

Mar 8, 2016, 5:48pm

I really love being a regular patron of a small town library. It makes me feel like a celebrity when I walk in and they squabble over who gets to retrieve my books from the hold area in back, even before I get up to the counter. Then they cluck like hens over the ILL mail, wanting to know just what our library system has failed to buy. Those librarians make my day.

Two books came in for me, so those are next:
Renegade by J.A. Souders
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Mar 8, 2016, 6:40pm

I hope you like Sepetys' book as much as I did!

Mar 8, 2016, 7:10pm

>163 mamzel: She's a new author for me. But I've read good things!

Mar 9, 2016, 10:52pm

>148 VictoriaPL: I had the same reaction. Into the Wild did not grab me like Into Thin Air which I'd found almost impossible to put down. Despite it being a little disappointing, I'd still like to read more of Krakauer's work.

Mar 10, 2016, 7:26am

>148 VictoriaPL: Paulina, I'm reading Under the Banner of Heaven later this year. He gets a second chance. Into Thin Air earned him that, LOL.

Edited: Mar 10, 2016, 4:51pm

15. Renegade by J.A. Souders 3.10.2016

Evie lives in Elysium, a utopian complex under the ocean, safe from the barbaric world of the Surface Dwellers. Here, everything Evelyn wants is provided, as long as it is the framework of Mother's directive. Someday she will become Mother to Elysium and she must learn her duties. Right now her primary duty is to select a Couple-Mate so that she can bear an heir that will succeed her. One day while walking in her garden a strange-looking boy stumbles across her path and sets in motion events that will change Elysium forever.

This YA book had a lot in it that I tend to enjoy in my sci-fi stories: utopian cities, eugenics, unreliable memories, nanotech, etc. That said, I didn't love it. I wanted things elaborated on that weren't and that could be because there's a sequel. But I just don't have enough interest to read on. Best summed up as: Meh.

Edited: Mar 13, 2016, 8:12pm

16. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys 3.12.2016

Amazon description: With the same lyrical prose, eye for detail, and breath-stopping ability to unfold delicate layers of characterization and theme with skillfully paced revelations, the author of Between Shades of Gray (2011) and Out of the Easy (2013, both Philomel) presents a fictionalized World War II story based on a true tragedy. In alternating narratives, four different teens grapple with the bitter cold, the ever-present danger of falling bombs, and their own dark secrets. There's Joana, a pretty and empathetic Lithuanian nurse who harbors a heavy guilt; Florian, a mysterious young man struggling to hide his true identity; Emelia, a pregnant Polish girl; and Alfred, a sociopathic Nazi sailor with an inferiority complex. Along with a fully realized cast of secondary characters who comprise the small band of refugees slowly making their way through the frozen and battle-scarred Prussian countryside, Joana, Florian, and Emelia are determined to get aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German military ship evacuating civilians and wounded soldiers at the tail end of the war. Alfred, meanwhile, a low-ranking officer stationed aboard the ship, avoids work by hiding in the toilets, composing imaginary and boastful letters to a girl back home. Each voice is distinct, and Sepetys unwinds their individual backstories slowly and with care. As the relationships among the refugees strengthen and they begin to trust one another, vulnerabilities are revealed—some of them life-threatening. Observations of war and loss, human cruelty, and hatred are unflinching. But through the horror and heartbreak shine rays of hope: love, kindness, courage, and sacrifice. VERDICT Artfully told and sensitively crafted, Sepetys's exploration of this little-known piece of history will leave readers weeping.—Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal

I had never heard or read of the Wilhelm Gustloff tragedy before - the largest loss of life on a single ship - with some estimates of 5,000 children dead. I cannot imagine not only fleeing from an oncoming army, but of grappling to get passage to safety and then to be drowned by a Russian U-boat. This story vividly brought that part of history alive.
I did not want to put this book down. I loved Joana, Florian, Emilia and yes, even Alfred. The way the chapters were structured, each in a different voice, reminded me of Jodi Picoult's format in her books. Sepetys did a great job of the interplay between the narratives. I didn't love the denouement but those are often tricky and I think many writers struggle with them. I now want to read every line of prose Ruta Sepetys has put to paper. She is a gifted writer.

Mar 14, 2016, 4:18am

I have a copy of Between Shades of Grey. I'll hand it over this summer if you're willing to wait.

Mar 14, 2016, 7:29am

>169 RidgewayGirl: I would love that Kay, thanks!

Mar 14, 2016, 11:20am

I share your admiration for Sepetys. She has brought historical fiction for teens back with great flourish.

Mar 14, 2016, 6:52pm

>168 VictoriaPL: I will definitely be on the lookout for anything by Ruta Sepetys!

Mar 15, 2016, 7:28am

>172 cbl_tn: You won't regret it Carrie!

Mar 15, 2016, 8:30am

>168 VictoriaPL: That BB hit me, onto the list it goes.

Mar 15, 2016, 9:04am

>174 Chrischi_HH: Let me know what you think once you get around to it!

Edited: Mar 25, 2016, 1:17pm

17. Introverts in the Church by Adam S. McHugh 3.15.2016 with cbl_tn

I loved this book. It felt like McHugh was inside my brain, listening to all my little insecure, uncomfortable thoughts. He speaks to the difference in how introverts and extroverts process and interpret their experiences, particularly in regards to personal interactions and those that happen in a church environment. McHugh points out that we will never be effective witnesses if we are not living authentically. To most introverts, that is not out knocking on unfamiliar doors, teaching large groups or leading on stage. McHugh also warns us not use our introversion as an excuse. Yes, God does call us to shine His light into the world and He does empower those He calls but McHugh reminds us that all parts of the body are used differently. Introverts are not so good at spear heading an effort but we are good at working along side others and seeing and responding to needs as they arise in our own quiet ways.

Some of the book is aimed at ministry and laiety specifically, and not just church members, but I enjoyed those sections too. I think they gave me a broader understanding of what some of my own pastors may be dealing with. After reading this I felt so much tension that I had been holding in just leave. I had been struggling with some of these issues for a long time. If you know an introvert who is doing the same, this would be a great read for them.

Mar 16, 2016, 7:00pm

>168 VictoriaPL: Ooh, I've got that one out from the library right now! Glad to hear it's a good read!

Mar 17, 2016, 7:30am

>177 christina_reads: We could have read it together! We need to find something we can delve in to together, I miss our tandem readings! Let me know what you think of it.

Mar 17, 2016, 11:57am

>168 VictoriaPL: Great review! I have not heard of this event either.

I recently finished Dead Wake, so another seagoing tragedy is not on my present agenda.

Mar 17, 2016, 5:11pm

>179 brodiew2: I completely understand!

Mar 17, 2016, 7:35pm

>178 VictoriaPL: Yes, we need to find something to read together now that the Pink Carnation books are done! Maybe we can find something for one of the CATs this year.

Edited: Mar 18, 2016, 12:09pm

>181 christina_reads: Let me know if you see something you are interested in!

Last night at the library, the first librarian forgot one of my books. I was halfway to the car when I hear something behind me and bless her soul, here comes one of my favorite ladies running after me, waving a book. They are so good to me at my branch.

Next up:
Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
Angel Fire by Lisa Unger
Gray Mountain by John Grisham

Mar 18, 2016, 3:31pm

>182 VictoriaPL: - How nice! I have an in because my sister is a children's librarian in a town about 1/2 hour away. I was looking for a book that wasn't available at my library but was at hers, so I called and asked her to check it out for me and I'll pick it up Sun when we go to her house for her annual egg hunt for the kids.

Mar 18, 2016, 6:33pm

>183 dudes22: that's awesome!

Mar 21, 2016, 8:15pm

I'm glad you love your library so much. I've mostly been borrowing audio and e-books from ours lately. I've been too busy to go to the public library in person.

Mar 22, 2016, 11:09am

After a week of practices and a weekend of performances for our Easter musical, I am so far behind! I will try to catch up on reviews soon, right now I'm just leaving place holders.... be back!

Edited: Mar 25, 2016, 1:32pm

18. Angel Fire by Lisa Unger 3.18.2016

Amazon description:
The childhood murder of Lydia Strong's mother has turned her into a woman obsessed with bringing brutal killers to justice. The reclusive, bestselling true-crime writer and investigative consultant has made a life out of chasing monsters. And her powerful intuitions rarely fail her. When three adults--loners, drifters--go missing, no one seems to notice except for Lydia. Enlisting the help of her friend, former FBI agent Jeffrey Mark, Lydia starts an investigation of her own. But when someone raises the stakes and goes after Lydia--just as fifteen years ago when she put the FBI on the trail of her mother's killer--the real hunt begins.

I promised to give Unger another go. This one sounded like it would be up my alley. I generally like a protagonist shaped by the death of a parent in their formative years: Will Trent (Karen Slaughter) and Kathy Mallory (Carol O'Connell) to name a couple of my favorites. And I did enjoy the set up and most of the novel. What I didn't care for was the "goes after Lydia" part. It's so cliche. Of course, Unger was new to the genre then, so I give her a little wiggle room. I'm still on the fence about her.

Edited: Mar 25, 2016, 1:32pm

19. Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman 3.21.2016

Amazon description:
Gretchen Müller grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her uncle Dolf—who has kept her family cherished and protected from that side of society ever since her father sacrificed his life for Dolf's years ago. Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command.
When she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen, who claims that her father was actually murdered by an unknown comrade, Gretchen doesn't know what to believe. She soon discovers that beyond her sheltered view lies a world full of shadowy secrets and disturbing violence.

I love WWII fiction and I love Young Adult fiction, so I was immediately taken when I saw this book. I really liked the angle Blankman used with Hitler. Well done. I liked what she did with the backstory of Gretchen's father and the foreshadowing with Gretchen's friend, Eva Braun. What I didn't care for was Gretchen's brother Reinhard, who was a walking cliche. It was like seeing lipstick on the teeth of a starlet at the Oscars, just ruins all the great scenery.

I will be reading the sequel soon though... Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke.

Mar 23, 2016, 6:08pm

>188 VictoriaPL: compelling cover.

Mar 24, 2016, 8:37am

>189 brodiew2: I thought so too! But she's described as the perfect Aryan ideal with blonde hair so I was a little confused, LOL.

Mar 24, 2016, 8:39am

Ha! Covers usually err in the other direction!

Mar 24, 2016, 8:55am

>191 RidgewayGirl: I know, right?!

Mar 24, 2016, 12:20pm

How many covers have we seen of the back of a modelesque blonde woman with flowing locks, when the protagonist is short, plump and dark-haired?

Because "a lot" is my answer.

Mar 24, 2016, 9:25pm

>186 VictoriaPL: I completely understand! Finished the one at Jeff's church Sunday night. Ours is the Sunday after Easter so I've still got rehearsals. At least the ones here are not quite so intense since we are using narration and video/slides rather than drama -- well, except for a skit by some of the youth.

Mar 25, 2016, 7:38am

>194 thornton37814: Lori, I hope it goes well! I could not do Two!

Edited: Mar 26, 2016, 9:34am

>176 VictoriaPL:, >187 VictoriaPL: & >188 VictoriaPL:
Finally had some time to update my thread! I feel better now.

Mar 26, 2016, 9:30am

20. Gray Mountain by John Grisham 3.25.2016

After being furloughed by her NYC law firm, Samantha Kofer takes an internship at Brady, Virginia's Mountain Legal Aid Clinic. At first she cannot imagine that Brady can teach her anything that NYC has not, but it is full of surprises: meth addictions, black lung, accidental death and cancer stricken neighborhoods. She discovers that her years of contract review were dull and barren, that the law exists to help people. Samantha also discovers that going after Big Coal can be as hazardous to your health as living in a coal town can be.

I haven't read any Grisham in awhile. After The Client and The Runaway Jury I didn't really keep in touch. This one caught my eye mainly because of my family. A good number of them were coal miners in Harlan, Kentucky. My grandfather, and I'm sure a few others, died of black lung. I was curious about Big Coal because I didn't know anything about it. Luckily my father fled the area once he got his degree and moved far away from the mountains. To read about the rape of the land, the environmental damage and the biological damage the coal industry is responsible for, it's eye opening. The fictional apparatus around it - not so much. I was pretty "Meh" about the characters in the book all the way through it. And the story doesn't wrap up as much as it just stops, and I hate that in a book. I'll probably look for a non-fiction book about the coal industry at some point.

Mar 26, 2016, 9:35am

Mar 26, 2016, 10:51am

Happy Easter! Great review of Introverts in the Church. I see myself recommending this book a lot in the future. Prisner of Night and Fog sounds interesting. I'll keep an eye out for it. like you, I'm also drawn to WWII fiction.

Mar 26, 2016, 3:50pm

HI Victoria : Just stopping by to see what you are up to. I remember a time when I read Grisham faithfully every year. I'll have to take a look and see what's around that I haven't read.
Have a good weekend!

Mar 26, 2016, 6:31pm

>200 lsh63: you do the same Lisa! Thanks for stopping by.

Mar 27, 2016, 5:22am

Happy Easter, Victoria!

Mar 27, 2016, 11:34am

>202 RidgewayGirl: Happy Easter Kay!

Mar 27, 2016, 2:20pm

Hope you are having a lovely Easter weekend, Victoria.

Mar 27, 2016, 3:04pm

>204 DeltaQueen50: thanks Judy, I hope you are also enjoying it!

Edited: Mar 28, 2016, 2:47pm

>197 VictoriaPL: I had heard Gray Mountain was not one of Grisham's best. I have stayed away, even on audio. However, I will sing the praises of his latest, Rogue Lawyer. Loved it.

Mar 28, 2016, 2:50pm

>206 brodiew2: I'll check that out Brodie, thanks!

Edited: Mar 30, 2016, 10:26am

More library books arrived! Both in my WWII category.

The Book of Aron by Jim Shepard
Vera Gran: the Accused by Agata Tuszyńska

Mar 30, 2016, 1:16pm

21. The Book of Aron by Jim Shepard 3.30.2016

"I'm going to talk to you as though you can understand," he said. "Shyster to shyster, as it were. Those with no talent for swindling always suffer." He gestured outside. "You and I both know that no compassion can be expected from the Germans. Whether we live or die depends on how long they're in power. If they have enough time, they'll kill us all. If not, some can be saved."

I don't know that I've read another WWII book that was so grim. A true education in the misery and despair of war. Well written and a quick read but I can't say that I necessary enjoyed it or that I would want to read it again. Though I would certainly read another work by Shepard. Don't read this one if you are already depressed.

Mar 30, 2016, 5:29pm

>209 VictoriaPL: I always appreciate those kinds of warnings. Sometimes I need to warn myself, because otherwise I end up at work reading a book where the dog dies and spending way too much time trying not to cry so the students don't look at me like I'm crazy. Not my finest moments to say the least . . .

Mar 30, 2016, 5:34pm

>210 inge87: I know! I read much of the last half during my lunch hour and I was quite sullen the rest of the day at work.

Mar 31, 2016, 12:44pm

22. Ludwika: A Polish Woman's Struggle to Survive in Nazi Germany by Mr Christoph Fischer 3.31.2016

"As she expected, Ludwika missed her next period and was sure that she was expecting another child. She was delighted that Jerzy would have a sibling, although she couldn't believe how easily she fell pregnant. Almost every time she looked at a man it seemed to happen. At this rate there would be a whole bunch of them. Ludwika laughed at the thought - the more the merrier."

Ludwika was a real Polish woman who was moved to Germany after a soldier took a shine to her. After that, more men took a shine to her and she had several children out of wedlock. After the war, she married another refugee, settled in Britain and had more children. And that's the bones of what we know about Ludwika. Fischer has taken those bones and fleshed out a story though I can't say there's really much more to it then what I've already said. I didn't particularly enjoy reading about Ludwika, I didn't care for her at all. I thought she was quite simple, though, I don't know if she was actually that way in truth or if she was just written that way. I wonder if some of it was due to a male writing a female character. Not that they can't successfully do so, but sometimes that is an issue.

Edited: Mar 31, 2016, 1:06pm


9 books read in March.
22 books overall, which is more than half my stated goal for the year!

Crazy Love You by Lisa Unger
Renegade by J.A. Souders
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Introverts in the Church by Adam S. McHugh
Angel Fire by Lisa Unger
Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
Gray Mountain by John Grisham
The Book of Aron by Jim Shepard
Ludwika: A Polish Woman's Struggle To Survive In Nazi Germany by Christoph Fischer

4 of the 9 books this month were WWII books. I'm on a roll, apologies if it's not your cuppa.
I'll be reading some Bronte in April and more Longmire, so stick around!

Favorite books of the month:
Salt to the Sea & Introverts in the Church

Least favorite book of the month:

Mar 31, 2016, 1:27pm

What I thought The Book of Aron was successful at was showing the real bleakness of life in a WWII ghetto without making it utterly unreadable. And I like the idea of someone knowing that it's pointless and that they will be unsuccessful, but choosing to fight on regardless. There's such stark bravery in that book.

Mar 31, 2016, 2:16pm

>214 RidgewayGirl: I read a review that said something to the effect of it was the biography of a great person from the point of view of an unknown person. Which is true and something I had not considered while I was reading it. Very clever. Maybe the bravery is why we continue to read the genre even today?

Edited: Mar 31, 2016, 2:58pm

Flew by the library on my lunch break. Met my favorite librarian coming out the door. She was going to lunch but she ran back behind the counter to grab my books and check me out. Seriously, is there a prize for librarians who go above and beyond?

Still Reading:
Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

Looking Forward:
Vera Gran The Accused by Agata Tuszynska
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman
The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte by Syrie James
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey
As the Crow Flies by Craig Johnson Longmire#8!!

Mar 31, 2016, 9:49pm

>212 VictoriaPL: We are not fans of Ludwika. I guess there is a reason University of Chicago offered the book for free.

Apr 1, 2016, 9:13am

New quarter, new season, new thread! Join me there!
This topic was continued by VictoriaPL's 2016 Reading - continued!.