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Laura (lauralkeet)'s 2016 Reading - Part 4

This is a continuation of the topic Laura (lauralkeet)'s 2016 Reading - Part 3.

75 Books Challenge for 2016

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Edited: Dec 29, 2016, 8:55am Top

Summer memories from a wine & food festival in Homps, a town in the Languedoc region of France.

2016 is my 8th year in the 75 Books Challenge and my 3rd year with no reading goals whatsoever. I started out as a highly structured reader, organizing my life around resolutions, challenges, and monthly reading plans. After a while, it all got to be a bit much and I’ve been happier with the “read what I want, when I want” approach, joining the occasional group or theme read when it strikes my fancy. So let the reading begin!

Part 1 (books 1-9) | Part 2 (books 10-28) | Part 3 (books 29-45)

Books completed ("details" jumps to location in this thread where review & links can be found)
46. Aging Well - details
47. Phineas Redux - details
48. State of Wonder - details
49. Another Brooklyn - details
50. Clear Horizon - details
51. I Let You Go - details
52. A Fringe of Leaves - details

53. The Trespasser - details
54. The House Girl - details
55. Dimple Hill - details
56. The Prime Minister - details
57. Mr Pip - details

58. Finn - details
59. March Moonlight - details
60. When the Devil Holds the Candle - details
61. Stop Walking on Eggshells - details
62. Jayber Crow - details
63. The Mothers - details
64. Heat Wave - details
65. Marling Hall - details

Edited: Dec 14, 2016, 8:07pm Top

Series Progress

Active series as of October 1:

My series list is courtesy of FictFact, which allows you to select the series you wish to track. They do a reasonable job of maintaining current series, although in some cases they have added books that I don't consider a legitimate part of the series (e.g., the Harry Potter prequel). The above snapshot is a view of my active series sorted on the "progress" column.

Series completed/current in 2016:
* Chronicles of Carlingford, by Margaret Oliphant (March)
* The Neapolitan Novels, by Elena Ferrante (March)
* Dublin Murder Squad, by Tana French (November)

Series started in 2016:
* The Transylvanian Trilogy, by Miklos Banffy
* The Pallisers, by Anthony Trollope
* Port William, by Wendell Berry

Oct 4, 2016, 7:23am Top

Currently Reading
(Carried over from previous thread)

* Phineas Redux - I'm making good progress, having read 22 of 80 chapters (Update: 36 chapters as of Oct 4). Chapters tend to be about 10 pages long, an easily digestible chunk that usually leaves me wanting to read "just one more."

* Aging Well - I read the first chapter of this and then turned my attention to Designing your Life. Now I'll get back to this one.

Oct 4, 2016, 8:48am Top

Happy new thread, Laura!

Oct 4, 2016, 9:57am Top

Happy new thread, Laura!

Oct 4, 2016, 12:36pm Top

Happy new thread, Laura.

A summer in the Languedoc is certainly something to celebrate and record.

Oct 4, 2016, 12:49pm Top

Happy New Thread, Laura! Lovely topper!

Edited: Oct 4, 2016, 3:58pm Top

Looking forward to following the Autumn and Winter reads Laura.

Oct 5, 2016, 6:36am Top

Happy new thread, Laura! Beautiful photo up top of your family!

Edited: Oct 7, 2016, 8:07am Top

The Crazy Cat Ladies of LT had a mini-meetup this week in Philadelphia. Lucy (sibyx) was in town visiting her daughter (known as "the LD" here), and Katherine (qebo) and I were able to meet up with Lucy and the LD on Wednesday afternoon. Events included a visit to a new Philadelphia venue, Kawaii Kitty Cafe, where we spent a blissful hour bonding with their 12 rescue cats over coffee & nibbles. Photos of the cafe and some of its residents available at the link; photos of the three of us on Katherine's thread, here.

We then strolled through the streets of Old City to The Book Trader, where we perused the shelves and came away with various treasures. Lucy was able to use up the book credit she had accumulated when she lived in Philly. I came away with two books by Penelope Lively: Family Album and Heat Wave, and a book of Richard Ford's short stories for my husband.

It was a lovely afternoon and I hope we have the opportunity to do it again sometime.

Oct 7, 2016, 11:48am Top

Just marking a spot for myself here, so I don't lose track of you.

Oct 7, 2016, 1:01pm Top

>11 laytonwoman3rd: Hi Linda! Consider that spot yours.

>4 katiekrug:, >5 kidzdoc:, >6 PaulCranswick:, >7 LizzieD:, >8 Caroline_McElwee:, >9 scaifea: Apologies for my rudeness Katie, Darryl, Paul, Peggy, Caroline, & Amber. I got a little carried away reporting on the meetup and neglected to wave back you all. Happy Friday!!

Oct 7, 2016, 2:58pm Top

>10 lauralkeet: sounds like a great way to spend an afternoon Laura.

Oct 8, 2016, 11:29pm Top

Hooray for what sounds like a splendid meet-up. Have a great weekend.

Edited: Oct 9, 2016, 9:31am Top

Happy Sunday, Laura! Happy New Thread! Glad you are enjoying your NF reads. I have a couple more to work into the rotation, including Patient H.M..

ETA: Hooray for a Meet-Up! Always a joyful occasion.

Oct 9, 2016, 1:14pm Top

>13 Caroline_McElwee:, >14 PaulCranswick:, >15 msf59: It was indeed a splendid meetup. Has there ever been an LT meetup that wasn't splendid? I wish they could happen more often.

Oct 9, 2016, 1:14pm Top

46. Aging Well ()
My Review
Source: My local library
Why I read this now: I've been thinking a lot about what I want to do with my life when I retire; this book was recommended by an LT friend.

The Harvard Study of Adult Development was designed to study several facets of adult development. After more than 50 years, study director George Vaillant was able to draw conclusions about how men and women could lead fulfilling, happy, healthy lives into their sixties and beyond. Vaillant determined that one’s past was not a significant determinant of healthy aging, and confirmed that development continues throughout adulthood. Building on Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development, Vaillant describes six adult life tasks and then focuses on the three most central to healthy aging: Generativity (unselfishly guiding the next generation), Keeper of the Meaning (conservation and preservation of culture and its institutions), and Integrity (acceptance of one’s life cycle in spite of decline). There are many ways to fulfill these life tasks (or not), which the book illustrates through the stories of study participants. I found the concepts and conclusions of the study very interesting, but these were often overly padded by the stories. One example was usually sufficient for me to understand the concept, and yet he often presented two, three, or more, leading me to skim in search of his next major point.

I was most interested in chapters that helped me to consider my own future. Vaillant’s analysis distinguishing the “happy-well” from the “sad-sick” led to predictors of healthy aging, and highlighted variables that had no effect. Not surprisingly, alcohol use, smoking, exercise, and weight were all factors. But so were stable relationships, social supports, and ability to cope with life’s twists and turns. And factors like ancestral longevity, parental characteristics, childhood temperament, stress, and cholesterol, often cited as contributors to longevity, turned out to have little impact. The chapter on Retirement was, for me, the most interesting and relevant as it provided a framework for thinking about how to live a fulfilling life. An abridged version of the framework follows:
There are four basic activities that make retirement rewarding. First, retirees should replace their work mates with another social network....

Second, and essential to happy retirement, retirees must rediscover...how to play..... Play provides a wonderful magic that is especially suited to retirement, for play permits a person to maintain self-esteem while giving up self-importance.... Besides, play makes retirement fun.

The third basic activity is creativity. Creativity requires protected time — even solitude; and thus, while raising a family and earning a living, creativity is not always possible. In retirement, however, creativity, like play, should be a primary goal.

Fourth, retirees should continue lifelong learning. The challenge in retirement is to combine the fruits of maturity with the recovery of childlike wonder.

I could have done with more than 30 pages on this topic, simply because that was my main purpose in reading this book. Still, it met my expectations by leaving me with much to think about.

Oct 9, 2016, 1:18pm Top

Currently Reading

* Phineas Redux - I'm in the home stretch: 62 of 80 chapters, with just over 100 pages remaining. A murder trial is now in progress and even though the result is fairly predictable, it's hard to put down.

Next up, I am working my way up the queue on several library requests including Another Brooklyn, I Let You Go, the new Tana French, The Trespasser, and The Underground Railroad. *taps feet impatiently*

Oct 9, 2016, 3:38pm Top

Your Crazy Cat meetup sounds like fun, Laura. I'm guessing you ladies only adopted new books and no cats. Like you, I am awaiting my turn for a bonanza of new library books. They will probably all come in at the same time. What a sweet dilemma that would be!

Oct 9, 2016, 9:26pm Top

I think you will really like Another Brooklyn when your number comes up, Laura!

Oct 10, 2016, 12:21am Top

>17 lauralkeet: What a great 4-point framework. P and I are having lots of conversations about retirement these days (she is much closer to it than I, which creates some interesting dynamic tensions as we plan) and I will share those four with her. I don't think I'll read the book, but I may copy and paste your summary of the four points and put them in a notes app.

Your queue list is appealing and overlaps some with my own library queue. I did finally, just today, pick up both Commonwealth and Homegoing, both of which I'm particularly anxious to read.

Oct 10, 2016, 7:16am Top

>19 Donna828: Donna, you guessed correctly. No cat adoptions on this meetup, although we were tempted!

>20 katiekrug: I'm excited to read it, Katie. I've found myself checking the library site daily to see if I've moved closer to the top of the queue.

>21 EBT1002: Ellen, glad to see the framework was useful! It helps me think about life in multiple dimensions and not focus solely on how to "replace" work. Also when I first read the phrase "Your queue list is appealing ..." I thought you said it was appalling!!

Happy Monday everyone ...

Oct 11, 2016, 11:44pm Top

Appealing, appalling.... whatever. :-)

Oct 13, 2016, 7:05am Top

Today is my 10th Thingaversary! I brought these cupcakes to celebrate -- help yourself!

I joined LibraryThing 10 years ago after stumbling across some reference to it on the web. I signed up and poked around the site a bit, but I wasn't instantly drawn in. I didn't add any books until several weeks later on December 1, 2006, when I began entering books from memory based on what I had read and enjoyed in the past. My catalogue went quiet again until January when I added loads of books from my past and after that, it looks like I began entering books as I acquired and/or read them.

It also took me a while to discover Talk. My first message was posted on January 7, 2007 in the What Are You Reading Now? group. I also joined the 50 Books Challenge group. Although I read 72 books that year, I had only one personal thread with 46 messages! Overall my chattiness ramped up during my first year: I posted 18 messages in January, but by June I was up to more than 150 posts per month.

Over the past ten years, I've read some great books but even more importantly, I've made great friends, some of whom are quite close. I've been lucky to meet several LTers in person. This is by far the best community on the interwebs!

Oct 13, 2016, 7:59am Top

Happy Thingaversary, Laura!!

Oct 13, 2016, 8:03am Top

Happy thingaversary Laura and happy new thread!

Oct 13, 2016, 8:44am Top

>24 lauralkeet: Happy 10th!

Oct 13, 2016, 8:53am Top

mmm... thanks for sharing!

I probably heard about LT from you.
ps I am loving Fictfact for keeping track of series, thanks for that too

Oct 13, 2016, 9:52am Top

Happy Tenth!!

Oct 13, 2016, 10:02am Top

A decade of good books---very worthy cause for celebration! Don't we have fun?

Oct 13, 2016, 10:46am Top

Mmmm, cupcakes.....

Happy Thingaversary, Laura! I am looking forward to a meet-up with you when I'm back in the great Northeast :)

Oct 13, 2016, 10:47am Top


Oct 13, 2016, 11:08am Top

Happy 10th, Laura! Those cupcakes look delicious.

Oct 13, 2016, 11:52am Top

Happy Thingaversary, Laura!!

Oct 13, 2016, 12:58pm Top

Happy 10th Thingaversary!

Oct 13, 2016, 4:04pm Top

Woo hoo it's a Thingaversary Party! Thanks for stopping by Amber, Heather, Katherine, Elizabeth, Helen, Linda, Katie, Karen, Joe, Roni, and Lori!

>28 raidergirl3: I probably heard about LT from you.
I didn't know that! I remember meeting you through the blogosphere. Come to think of it, I guess it was probably me or Jill (mrstreme) who lured you over here with the Orange Prize reading.

I really want a cupcake.

Oct 13, 2016, 4:13pm Top

47. Phineas Redux ()
My Review
Source: On my shelves
Why I read this now: I started reading The Palliser novels early this year hoping to finish the series before the year ended. That won’t happen, but I was eager to get back to them after a few months away.

When we last met Phineas Finn in his eponymous novel, he was a young rookie Member of Parliament, somewhat idealistic and impetuous both at work and with the ladies. Phineas Redux opens a few years later, and our hero has mellowed after dealing with a few hardships. He assumes a new seat in Parliament and becomes involved in the issues of the day, most notably Disestablishmentarianism, the campaign to separate church and state. His personal life is still somewhat tumultuous, as he accepts the affections of two ladies simultaneously: his lifelong friend Lady Laura Kennedy, and the more exotic Madame Max Goesler. It’s fairly typical stuff for the Palliser novels, but then Phineas becomes a suspect in the murder of a prominent government figure, and Trollope turns his hand towards writing a 19th century crime novel.

Alongside the main storyline are those of characters we’ve met in previous novels including Plantagenet Palliser, his wife Lady Glencora, and Lord and Lady Chiltern. And Adelaide Palliser, a distant cousin, weighs her marriage options.

Because it’s Trollope, everything works out for the best but not without some sadness along the way. The crime and courtroom drama was well done, albeit in a characteristic style that left no doubt about “whodunnit”. Trollope’s depiction of post-trial Phineas was realistic and touching.I really enjoyed this installment in the Palliser series and look forward to reading the next book soon.

Edited: Oct 13, 2016, 4:17pm Top

Currently Reading

* Clear Horizon - Novella #11 of 13 in the Pilgrimage series.

* State of Wonder - Part of my mini Ann Patchett reading festival, I pulled this off my shelves to keep me busy while I'm waiting for my library requests to come through.

Oct 14, 2016, 8:30am Top

A little late to the party but Happy Belated 10th Thingaversary!! I hope you had a great time reading!!

Oct 14, 2016, 6:55pm Top

Happy 10th Thingaversary Laura, thanks for the cupcake, yum. Don't make your new books sticky though... Actually, where's that important list....?

Oct 16, 2016, 11:14am Top

>39 crazy4reading:, >40 Caroline_McElwee: thanks for the good wishes! I haven't actually bought any books to celebrate -- not yet anyway -- not sure why, but I'll just consider it an IOU to myself.

Oct 16, 2016, 11:14am Top

48. State of Wonder ()
My Review
Source: On my shelves
Why I read this now: Just catching up on Patchett’s back list

Anders Eckman was sent into the Amazon by his employer, Vogel Pharmaceuticals, to gather first-hand information on a long-running research project. The project director, Dr. Annick Swenson, kept her work under wraps and communicated as little as possible to Vogel management, which naturally gave rise to suspicion. Anders, too, was able to communicate only by a somewhat unreliable mail service. And so it was that his colleague, Marina Singh, learned of his death two weeks after it had taken place. Marina is then tasked with notifying Anders’ wife Karen and, at both the company’s and Karen’s request, travels to the Amazon herself to learn more about Anders’ death, retrieve his belongings, and complete his investigation into the research project.

Marina is reluctant to make the journey for all of the obvious reasons. And, she was once a student of Dr. Swenson’s and has no desire to meet up with her again. But out of loyalty to Anders, she boards a plane and begins a circuitous journey to find Dr. Swenson and the research team. Suffice to say she finds what she’s looking for and then some, and learns a lot about herself along the way.

I know nothing about the Amazon and assume Patchett did her research into the ecosystem, the indigenous people, and the hazards for western travelers. But at times this, as well as the basis for the pharmaceutical research and the related drug development, all seemed a bit over the top. And yet I this book was a page-turner. I was eager to see what would happen next to Marina, and I came to like many of the other characters, even the arrogant and detached Dr. Swenson. Patchett threw in a few twists towards the end that readers will find satisfying, frustrating, or both.

This was not Patchett’s best but was still an enjoyable read.

Oct 17, 2016, 10:21pm Top

>42 lauralkeet: Ah, that's the one I've read, and I wasn't wild about it, in part because I read it after The River of Doubt and The Lost City of Z, both non-fiction page-turners about the Amazon.

Oct 18, 2016, 7:37am Top

>43 qebo: I can see where State of Wonder would have been a disappointment after those two books, Katherine.

Meanwhile, I devoured Jacqueline Woodson's Another Brooklyn in two days. It's a short book, and she writes beautifully.

Oct 18, 2016, 6:32pm Top

Congrats on your tenth thinga!

Yes those two books Katherine mentions would make a hard act to follow re the Amazon basin. I have read both of them too. Somewhere along the line too I've read a Theroux set in similar territory.

Oct 19, 2016, 12:25pm Top

>45 sibyx: Thanks Lucy!

Oct 19, 2016, 12:26pm Top

49. Another Brooklyn ()
My Review
Source: My local library
Why I read this now: I really liked Brown Girl Dreaming, so this caught my eye when it was released.

How does she do it? In less than 200 pages, Jacqueline Wilson has painted an evocative portrait of a young woman coming of age in Bushwick in the 1970s. The setting, the people, and the emotions were all so vivid; I felt transported back to that place and time. At the center of the novel is August, born in Tennessee and now living with her father and brother in Brooklyn.
Somehow, my brother and I grew up motherless yet halfway whole. My brother had the faith my father brought him to, and for a long time, I had Sylvia, Angela, and Gigi, the four of us sharing the weight of growing up Girl in Brooklyn, as though it was a bag of stones we passed among ourselves saying, Here. Help me carry this.

For a long time, August watches Sylvia, Angela, and Gigi from her window, but one day she is accepted into their social circle. Every one of them wants to give the impression of having it all together, when in reality each girl is faced with family issues, economic issues, or both. They journey together into their teens, their sexuality emerging and presenting still more issues to grapple with. They support one another, and they work against one another, too -- again, Woodson brilliantly captures the power of female friendship. Her writing is sublime. Just read this book and let it wash over you.

Oct 19, 2016, 1:52pm Top

Oh my goodness, I'm late to your new thread, Laura. Sometimes trying to keep up around here is a losing battle. But happy new thread! And, more importantly, Happy 10th Anniversary, and thanks for the cupcake : ).

Crazy Cat Lady meetup sounds fabulous!

Wonderful reviews of both Phineas Redux and Another Brooklyn. I'm sold on the latter with what you've written here: Just read this book and let it wash over you.

Oct 19, 2016, 2:04pm Top

Hmmm, I have still to get to Brown Girl Dreaming, it winks at me once in a while. Another Brooklyn sounds good too. Great review Laura.

Oct 19, 2016, 7:10pm Top

>48 lit_chick: Hey Nancy, long time no see! Thanks so much for stopping by. Have you read Wilson's Brown Girl Dreaming?

>49 Caroline_McElwee: Speaking of BGD, Caro, I highly recommend it, especially with your affinity for poetry.

Edited: Oct 21, 2016, 7:00am Top

Morning Laura. Happy Friday! Thanks for chiming in on the bird chatter. I hope I have inspired you to put the feeder up for the winter.

And thanks for the heads-up on the What Should I Read Next podcast. I have listened to a couple now. Have you listened to All the Books?

Looks like we both enjoyed Another Brooklyn. Yah!

^Black and White Warbler

Oct 21, 2016, 7:56am Top

Mark, you have definitely inspired me to get my act together on the birding front! I'll have to check out that podcast ...

Edited: Oct 21, 2016, 8:04am Top

50. Clear Horizon ()
Source: My Virago Modern Classics collection
Why I read this now: Part of a year-long group read

This was novella #11 of 13 and I found this one especially annoying. The author describes events and dialogue with so little context you're often not sure who the protagonist is speaking with or about, or where they are, or why they are where they are. It's like looking through a tiny peephole that focuses your vision but obscures everything around it.

I'm still committed to finishing this series because I've invested so much time in it, and each novella is only about 100 pages. It seems a shame to just give it up, but I'm definitely not enjoying the books and at times wonder why I'm punishing myself like this.

Oct 22, 2016, 6:02am Top

Have a lovely weekend Laura.

>53 lauralkeet: Reading shouldn't be punishing should it but we all tread water in completing tough books from time to time.

Oct 22, 2016, 6:54am Top

Thanks fr the encouragement Paul! Hope you are having a nice weekend, too.

Oct 23, 2016, 10:41pm Top

Hi Laura. I'm late stopping by to wish you a happy Thingaversary but the sentiment is still heartfelt! This January will be six years for me and I'm so glad I found this site and this community!

I just checked and I'm still in the queue for Another Brooklyn, looking forward to reading it!

Oct 24, 2016, 7:42am Top

>56 EBT1002: Thanks Ellen! The nice thing about online celebrations is the food never gets stale. I hope you helped yourself to a cupcake!

You're going to love Another Brooklyn...

Oct 24, 2016, 12:50pm Top

Hi, Laura. I'm trying to catch up after being MIA for a while. You are definitely making headway with the Palliser series. I wish that I could say the same. RL has been a bit crazy lately, so audio books have been essential. I had seen Another Brooklyn in my local bookshop, and was tempted. Your comments have added to my interest.

Oct 24, 2016, 9:13pm Top

>58 NanaCC: well hello stranger! Thanks for visiting, Colleen. As luck would have it, I'm far enough along in the Pallisers to be ready for the next group read which Liz is hosting in November. The group read threads have been terrific resources for the first 4 books. I hope you get around to reading the Pallisers one of these days. But more than anything I hope RL settles down for you soon!

Oct 27, 2016, 3:02pm Top

Currently Reading

* A Fringe of Leaves - set in 1835, this novel by Australian author Patrick White is the story of Ellen, a woman who survives a shipwreck. The cover jacket gave too much away; I thought the shipwreck would occur early on, but I've read 273 of 400 pages and it's only just happened. Lots of excellent back story though.

* I Let You Go - this is a crime/mystery novel about a hit & run fatality. It was recommended on the What Should I Read Next? podcast, and I requested it as a kindle library loan. Of course it became available before I finished A Fringe of Leaves, so now I will give priority to this one so I don't come up against the due date.


Speaking of library loans, I am 7th in line for the new Tana French. That queue has been moving more slowly than I expected, and I'm eager to read it although the timing might affect some of my other reading plans for November.

Oct 27, 2016, 4:49pm Top

>60 lauralkeet: I've been waiting for the Tana French as well. I look forward to your comments.

Oct 28, 2016, 3:16pm Top

Ack! It's raining library books! Tana French's The Trespasser is now IN TRANSIT to my local library branch. Fortunately I Let You Go is proving to be quick reading so I will double down on it over the weekend. A Fringe of Leaves will continue simmering on the back burner ...

Edited: Oct 30, 2016, 7:46am Top

51. I Let You Go ()
My Review
Source: My local library's Kindle collection
Why I read this now: It was recommended on the What Should I Read Next podcast, and I thought "must read this"!

On his way home from school, a little boy lets go of his mother’s hand, runs out into the street, and is killed by a hit and run driver. Detectives Ray Stevens and his new assistant Kate are assigned to the case, but their investigation stalls when the boy’s mother suddenly leaves town. Jenna Gray travels to a remote caravan park on the Welsh coast and moves into a tiny cottage. She keeps to herself, slowly and tentatively meeting locals and, in time, beginning to heal.

Then, suddenly, a major plot twist made me question everything I'd read to that point. A new narrator appeared to tell another side of the story, and things got creepy and sinister. In this debut novel, former police officer Clare Mackintosh teased out the rest of the mystery in a way that kept me turning the pages and finding every opportunity to read just a little more. I also enjoyed getting to know Ray Stevens through a subplot about his marriage and family troubles.

I Let You Go has all the makings of a good series. I hope the author has more of these books up her sleeve.

Oct 30, 2016, 8:06am Top

Happy Sunday, Laura. Hope you are having a nice weekend. You may also like my current audio, To the Bright Edge of the World. Just sayin'...

BTW- Loving my bird-feeder and have added a suet feeder as well. Nice.

Oct 30, 2016, 3:18pm Top

>62 lauralkeet: "Ack! It's raining library books!" LOL!! This happens so much to me, too. Yesterday I picked up six books that were all waiting for me at the library. There is no way I'll get through them all before they are due and, of course, there are other patrons in the queue so I can't renew. Also, during the same trip, I returned three books that I had not yet gotten to read but was up against the due date. P notes that, while this is amusing and our house is full of library books, it saves us some money as it means I'm not purchasing all these books!

>64 msf59: Oh, I was looking at that book as it came out right around the time of our trip to Alaska. I need to put it on hold at the library, too. :-|

Oct 30, 2016, 3:19pm Top

BTW, I started Do Not Say We Have Nothing last night and I think it's going to be a great read.

Oct 30, 2016, 3:36pm Top

Laura, I am so glad you discovered LT ten years ago. I've been around here almost that long and never tire of seeing what everyone else is reading and doing. Thanks for the lovely review of Another Brooklyn. I am on the waiting list at the library. I'm not in a hurry for it as I got a little shower of good books a few days ago and now have A Gentleman in Moscow waiting for me as well. Life is good in our reading worlds!

Oct 30, 2016, 5:56pm Top

Great review of I Let You Go, Laura, and thumb-up! I need another series on the go like a need a hole in the head, but if this author does turn out to have more up her sleeve, well ...

I so hear you about it raining library books! I often have several on request at the same time ... and it doesn't seem to matter whether I'm third in queue or forty-third ... they arrive at the same time (or within days or one another). How does this happen?

Oct 31, 2016, 11:35am Top

Raining library books! I know the feeling! I brought home a huge pile from the Ludington Library in Bryn Mawr and have only gotten through about half of them. What was I thinking! I can't take them back to Vermont, so I will have to just let them go.

The Clare Mackintosh sounds hopeful as a new series! But I will wait a bit!

Oct 31, 2016, 3:10pm Top

>64 msf59: Mark, you've reminded me I need to buy more suet. Our suet feeder draws a lot of woodpeckers and flickers especially during the colder months. Oh, and squirrels. :)

>65 EBT1002: Ellen, I look carefully at the length of library queues and try to guess how soon I will get the book and organize my reading around that. And I don't have tons of open requests at any given time. But I still end up with a juggling act on my hands from time to time.

>66 EBT1002: Ooh, good to know!

>67 Donna828: Donna, I think you'll enjoy Another Brooklyn. I've heard good things about A Gentleman in Moscow and will be on the lookout for your thoughts on it.

>68 lit_chick: it doesn't seem to matter whether I'm third in queue or forty-third ... they arrive at the same time (or within days or one another)
I hear you, Nancy! That's what happened to me with I Let You Go and The Trespasser. Fortunately the former was a quick read.

>69 sibyx: Well Lucy, on the plus side at least you have a nice pile to choose from while you're away from home. :)


I might have to duck out of work early today -- The Trespasser is waiting for me, the library closes at 6:00, and even though it's open later on Tuesday & Wednesday I have other things going on those evenings that make a library stop difficult. So yep, I think I've just decided to quietly sneak outta here before my usual departure time ... don't tell anyone, okay?!

Oct 31, 2016, 3:23pm Top

My lips are sealed!

Nov 2, 2016, 5:00pm Top

There really is no shame in having more library books out than you can read---remember, it raises the library's circulation numbers, and that can have positive effects on their budget, which books get kept on the shelves, etc. In our library system, even a renewal boosts the circulation numbers...so keep up the good work!

Nov 3, 2016, 12:23pm Top

52. A Fringe of Leaves ()
My Review
Source: On my shelves, a gift from an Aussie LTer
Why I read this now: I’ve had it for a while, and am not sure why I hadn’t read it yet.

Woman caught in shipwreck. You won’t believe what happens next!
That clickbait-style headline is the best way for me describe this book without too many spoilers, and I’m a bit hesitant to provide more details. Mentioning the shipwreck is kind of spoilery because after all, when the woman boards the ship you’ll know something about what lies ahead, But Ellen Roxburgh is the heart and soul of this book: who she is, and who she becomes; what she holds on to, and what she lets go. That the novel is based on a true story adds considerable interest. And while shipwreck survival stories have been told before, Patrick White combined a compelling character with an equally compelling Australian landscape into an enjoyable read.

Nov 3, 2016, 12:25pm Top

>71 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks Caro, I think I got away with it :)

>72 laytonwoman3rd: Sez the library board member! I'm not really ashamed, Linda, I just don't like the pressure of a stack of books with a deadline. Especially if there's a hold queue, because then they can't be renewed.

Meanwhile, Tana French's The Trespasser is really good so far, although the world series ate into my reading time the past few days (yay Cubs!)

Edited: Nov 4, 2016, 6:19pm Top

>74 lauralkeet: "Sez the library board member!" Yer onto me, ain't cha?

I'm waiting for The Trespasser myself. I think I'll go see if I've climbed up the queue at all. ETA: 9 copies circulating, and I'm No. 15 in the queue. Not terrible.

Nov 5, 2016, 11:08am Top

Hi Laura!

>63 lauralkeet: Definitely added to my wishlist! Sounds excellent.

Nov 5, 2016, 1:10pm Top

I'm reading The Trespasser now too, though also having trouble finding reading time at the moment!

Nov 5, 2016, 2:57pm Top

>75 laytonwoman3rd:, >77 japaul22: we almost have a group read going! I've read all of French's Dublin Murder Squad novels and have been looking forward to this one for quite some time.

>76 karenmarie: yay! Always happy to pass along a book discovery.

Nov 5, 2016, 5:20pm Top

Hi, Laura!

The thread is up for the group read of The Prime Minister - here. Looking forward to having you join us!

Nov 6, 2016, 9:09am Top

>79 lyzard: I am tempted too but my record on the group reads has been so woeful recently I just don't think I will be able to keep up.

Have a great Sunday, Laura.

Nov 6, 2016, 9:34am Top

>79 lyzard: I am definitely in! I wasn't ready to join when the Palliser group reads first started, but during the hiatus, I caught up and loved visiting the group threads as a reading companion. More than once I wanted to jump in and comment on an old thread, only to remember the group had long since moved on. So I'm excited to be able to read along with others.

>80 PaulCranswick: so many books, so little time eh Paul?

Nov 6, 2016, 10:40am Top

I must make a start on the Palliser novels soon. I've finished the Barsetshire Chronicles, and I'll be needing a new Trollope fix!

Nov 6, 2016, 10:44am Top

>81 lauralkeet: Yes, well I don't make things easy for myself there by keep adding and adding and adding and adding to my collection.

Nov 6, 2016, 4:38pm Top

>81 lauralkeet:

Please do that if you feel inclined, Laura! People continue to access the old threads and the more comments and discussion there, the better. :)

Nov 6, 2016, 7:48pm Top

>84 lyzard: I always keep those starred and I bet many do, so I'd be interested in any comments too!

Nov 6, 2016, 8:56pm Top

Happy Sunday, Laura! Hope you had a good weekend and I hope your books are treating you well.

Speaking of books set in Alaska, I am loving Jimmy Bluefeather. Janet warbled it to me and I am passing it along.

Nov 7, 2016, 7:12am Top

>84 lyzard:, >85 japaul22: Oh dear, now I'm a little bit sorry for not posting on the group read threads, but I don't know how additive it would have been, to be honest! I didn't have any burning questions that kept me from understanding or enjoying the books. My thoughts were usually in response to another person's comment and sometimes nothing more than acknowledging or "nodding" in agreement.

>86 msf59: Hey Mark, I had a great weekend and hope you did too! Were we speaking of books set in Alaska?! Well never mind, warble away!

Nov 7, 2016, 8:05am Top

>65 EBT1002: Oh, it looks like it was Ellen that commented on Alaska, not you. LOL. I still think you would like it. Grins...

Morning Laura!

Nov 8, 2016, 12:11am Top

Hi Laura! Just lurking.
I hope you have a great week!

Nov 9, 2016, 9:05am Top

53. The Trespasser ()
Source: My local library
Why I read this now: I've enjoyed all of the other books in the Dublin Murder Squad series, so I couldn't wait to get my hands on this new release.

I don't feel like writing reviews today; just want to log this one as complete. I enjoyed it.

Nov 9, 2016, 9:09am Top

Currently Reading

* The Prime Minister - The 75er group reads of The Palliser novels have resumed, just as I reached this point in the series. I started reading this one on Monday. Like all of Trollope's work, it's a chunkster: 80 chapters, more than 600 pages.

Nov 9, 2016, 9:23am Top

>90 lauralkeet: I don't feel like writing reviews today

Nov 9, 2016, 10:57am Top

Glad you enjoyed the Tana French, Laura. And you already know how I feel about Trollope : ).

Nov 12, 2016, 5:00pm Top

Stopping by to say thinking of you (and all my American friends). And whilst I was here taking a book bullet for Another Brooklyn.

Nov 13, 2016, 10:38am Top

Katherine, Nancy, & Heather ... thank you for stopping by. It's been a rough week, to say the least. But where I've had to step back a bit from sites like Facebook, LT has been a source of comfort.

Nov 13, 2016, 10:45am Top

Currently Reading

* The Prime Minister - I've reached the 25% mark, reading 20 of 80 chapters. Trollope aims a fair amount of antisemitism at a major character, and I have to keep telling myself he's a product of his time. The story surrounding this character, and the story of the eponymous Prime Minister and his wife, are typical Trollope and enjoyable. It's an odd contrast.

* Dimple Hill - This is novella #12 of 13 in the Pilgrimage series. These have not been easy going but I've found committing to 10 pages per day works for me. This one is about 150 pages so I realized if I want to finish this month, I should probably start reading today.

Nov 13, 2016, 5:49pm Top

>95 lauralkeet: It's been a rough week, to say the least.

Couldn't agree more.

Nov 19, 2016, 4:01am Top

>96 lauralkeet: Wow Laura; a commitment of 10 pages a day means it must really be a slog. Not sure I am going to prioritise that one for the moment!

Have a great weekend.

Nov 19, 2016, 6:46am Top

>98 PaulCranswick: Yeah Paul, I wouldn't recommend it. First off, Dimple Hill is near the end of a series (published in 4 volumes by Virago) and reading this one standalone would not be worth it. The series as a whole is written in a very stream of consciousness style which is just plain difficult to follow. The author puts readers so deep inside the protagonist's head that it is assumed you don't need new characters to be introduced, settings to be explained, or huge gaps in time to be filled in. Early on I found this interesting, but now it's just annoying!

Nov 19, 2016, 6:51am Top

Currently Reading

* The Prime Minister - I'm up to Chapter 39 now, so nearly halfway through. It's very enjoyable, as Trollope always is.

* Dimple Hill - This is novella #12 of 13 in the Pilgrimage series. My 10-pages-per-day strategy is working so far and I'm making reasonable progress.

* The House Girl - I had this on hold at the library for my November Book Club meeting, and it became available this week. The story alternates narrators and time periods: from a present-day young female lawyer to a slave working as "house girl" for the lady of the house. I like the structure and am eager to see how the threads tie together.

Nov 19, 2016, 11:14am Top

Hmm, The House Girl sounds interesting, Laura. These touchstones, gah! (took me to Twilight ... I've fixed it)

Nov 20, 2016, 7:07pm Top

Hi Laura. I look forward to your comments about The House Girl. The premise sounds interesting.

(took me to Twilight, too. sigh)

Nov 21, 2016, 6:25am Top

>101 lit_chick: >102 EBT1002: the touchstone gremlin strikes again! The House Girl is interesting so far, although I have a few quibbles with it.

Nov 21, 2016, 7:03am Top

Morning Laura! Glad to see someone read The Trespasser. That is high on my T.R. list. I hope it was better than the last book. i was disappointed in that one.

Nov 21, 2016, 7:50am Top

>90 lauralkeet: I'm looking forward to the new Tana French, but the library wait is long. I'm glad to see that you enjoyed it.

Nov 21, 2016, 7:51am Top

I've become a fan of ten pages a day -- one really can work through a more demanding book that way, even when life is make reading difficult. It isn't ideal, of course, but sometimes it is the only choice. And better than no pages.

Nov 21, 2016, 10:31am Top

I'm about half way through The Trespasser---my library hold came through much faster than I expected. I'm really enjoying the voice of Antoinette Conway. I suspect this book is longer than it needs to be, but I'm having such a good time reading it that I don't really care.

Nov 21, 2016, 12:52pm Top

>104 msf59: Mark, I was disappointed in the last one, too. The Trespasser involves the same detectives but it's a better story.

>105 NanaCC: I think you'll enjoy it as well, Colleen. I, too, had to wait a long time at the library.

>106 sibyx: better than no pages Great point! I've used the same technique with Proust (which reminds me, I need to get back to that one). I've read the first three books and would probably never have made it past the first if I didn't take it in bite-sized chunks.

>107 laytonwoman3rd: I'm glad you're enjoying it too, Linda! I also liked Antoinette's voice and character.

Nov 22, 2016, 4:31pm Top

54. The House Girl ()
My Review
Source: My library’s Kindle collection
Why I read this now: RL Book Club meeting next week

The House Girl starts off with an intriguing premise and structure. The chapters and voice alternate between a present-day young female lawyer named Lina, and Josephine, a slave working as "house girl" for the lady of the house. The lawyer is working on a case involving reparations for slavery and must identify someone descended from a slave to serve as lead plaintiff. Josephine's mistress is an artist, and in the present day, the artistic community believes the paintings may actually have done by the slave girl. The potential lead plaintiff emerges during an exhibition of the artist's work, and Lina convinces her law firm to send her to Virginia for research in the state's archives to locate Josephine's descendants. Meanwhile, back in the 19th century, Josephine may or may not have had a baby, and she tries to escape via the Underground Railroad.

While all of this seemed promising at first, ultimately this novel failed to deliver. Josephine's story relied too heavily on supposed historical documents to move the plot along. Lina's story included a subplot about Lina's relationship with her father Oscar, an artist who raised Lina single-handedly after her mother died when Lina was very young. The tension between Lina and Oscar wasn't developed enough to be believable; I never understood why they didn't just sit down and talk things out, and why Lina found his paintings of her mother so offensive. And then there's Lina's full name: Carolina Sparrow. Seriously? It sounds more like a bird than a person, and once that thought struck me I had a hard time getting past it.

I read this for a book club whose members enjoy discussing the dilemmas and decisions that face characters in a novel. And in that respect, I think they will love this book. I tend to focus more on the writing, and the quality of the story, and was left disappointed by The House Girl.

Nov 22, 2016, 5:12pm Top

>109 lauralkeet: - Hmm. I have that one on my TBR shelves... I'm interested in your description of your book club's focus - mine seems to be similar and most of them don't seem to notice some terrible writing or holes int he plot... *sigh* Hoping to have more luck finding a good group when I move.

Nov 22, 2016, 5:26pm Top

>109 lauralkeet: So, there's one I don't have to get around to! Thanks, Laura.

Nov 22, 2016, 6:38pm Top

>110 katiekrug: Katie, I'm trying to keep an open mind about this group because it's the first one I've found and I know it's probably unreasonable to expect the level of discourse we have here on LT. I've tried to go along with the "what would you do if you were (insert name of character here)?" discussions. And sometimes the points of view are interesting, but when I bring up quibbles about the writing I get mostly blank stares. In our last meeting, we discussed the first Elena Ferrante novel, which I had recommended. While the group was small, other than one friend who has borrowed all of the books from me, the others hadn't finished the book and didn't seem to appreciate the literary elements. So, at least I know what I'm in for and I won't feel bad if I decide to skip a month here and there if the book just doesn't look like my cuppa.

>111 laytonwoman3rd: my pleasure, Linda!

Nov 24, 2016, 11:11am Top

I am thankful for your presence in the group, Laura.

Nov 24, 2016, 2:43pm Top

Laura--stopping by (after a long MIA stretch--sorry!) to catch up on things. Congrats on your 10-year anniversary!! It's so nice to have you here. : )

Nov 24, 2016, 7:39pm Top

Thank you Paul & Kim!

Nov 26, 2016, 6:23am Top

55. Dimple Hill ()
Source: My Virago Modern Classics collection
Why I read this now: Part of a year-long group read

Novella #12 of 13, and one of the better ones, for some reason. The writing is just as obtuse as ever, but this time the plot captured my attention more. The protagonist, Miriam, stayed with a Quaker community for reasons only vaguely explained. But her observations and her gradual assimilation into the community were interesting. And Miriam, who is typically critical of everything around her, was more upbeat. Finally!

Edited: Nov 26, 2016, 6:41am Top

Morning, Laura! Hope you had a nice holiday. Glad The Trespasser was better than the last one. I hope she gets her chops back. I wonder if she should try something else, ala Atkinson?

Edited: Nov 27, 2016, 4:40pm Top

56. The Prime Minister ()
My Review
Source: On my shelves
Why I read this now: Group read

In this, the fifth of Trollope’s Palliser novels, Plantagenet Palliser has recently been appointed Prime Minister and his wife, Glencora, is busy entertaining Members of Parliament and other dignitaries. At the same time, young Emily Wharton has just rejected her long-time suitor, Arthur Fletcher, in favor of rakish Fernando Lopez. These events set up the two principal storylines in The Prime Minister. Plantagenet is a rare breed of ethical politician, putting the country and others above himself. Glencora is well-intentioned but uses the power of her position to advance Lopez, which turns out to be a mistake. As does Emily’s marriage: Lopez takes advantage of Emily and her wealthy father, with disastrous consequences.

I really enjoyed reading this installment and was so caught up in it that the nearly 700 pages seemed to fly by. I have just one Palliser novel left to read and will miss them when I’m done.

Nov 27, 2016, 6:38pm Top

Hi Laura - happy belated Thanksgiving. Nice to see you reading Trollope again. I haven't read any of the Palliser novels yet but got up to Framley Parsonage in the Barchester series and might try the next one in the holidays. He has been one of many delightful LT discoveries!

Nov 27, 2016, 10:20pm Top

Tickled that you enjoyed The Prime Minister so much, Laura! You know you've read a good book when 700 pages fly by, LOL!

Nov 28, 2016, 6:22am Top

>119 cushlareads: Helloooo Cushla! It's great to see you around these parts. I've enjoyed the Pallisers but will always have a special place in my heart for the Barchester novels. I hope you're able to read the next one soon.

>120 lit_chick: Nancy, I was surprised how easy the reading was. I think I'm just used to Trollope's style by now, so it takes me less time to get into the language and structure. Plus, since it was serialized, the chapters are very short which led me to pick it up even when I only had a few minutes to read.

Nov 29, 2016, 9:42am Top

I really need to get back to the Pallisers. I've been in a real reading slump lately. RL has been getting in the way. I'm glad to see your enthusiasm.

Nov 29, 2016, 10:41am Top

>121 lauralkeet: There must have been a LOT of chapters then!!! Good job. : )

Edited: Nov 29, 2016, 9:55pm Top

>122 NanaCC: I understand that RL stuff big time, Colleen.

>123 Berly: oh yes Kim. 80, to be exact!

Nov 29, 2016, 9:58pm Top

57. Mr Pip ()
Source: On my shelves
Why I read this now: I'm trying to read some books that have been lingering on my stacks for a while.

This made the Booker Prize shortlist several years back, so I had high expectations. It's a relatively short book (256 pages). The middle section was powerful, but it took a while to get there and what followed felt rushed. Hence the 3-star rating: a respectable read, but not as good as I hoped it would be.

Nov 30, 2016, 3:58am Top

I've had that on the pile unread too Laura. Suspect it may stay there for a while longer!

Nov 30, 2016, 1:10pm Top

>125 lauralkeet: Yes, I have that one lingering around too. I may even have started it once. ("High expectations".... HA!)

Nov 30, 2016, 6:30pm Top

>126 Caroline_McElwee: it's not a bad book, Caro, and I wonder if timing was part of the problem for me. Sometimes it's a good book but not the best time to read it, ya know?

>127 laytonwoman3rd: "High expectations".... HA! Oh my that was totally unintended!! For those who might be wondering what we are talking about, Dickens' novel Great Expectations figures prominently in Mr Pip.

Nov 30, 2016, 6:59pm Top

I think there are many of us who will be glad to see the end of 2016, for any number of reasons. If you're a regular on this thread, you'll know my dad passed away on July 30. Well, my mom's health declined very rapidly this month and she died yesterday. Losing both parents in 4 months is just a bit much.

My brother and I once again find ourselves in Cincinnati working out the arrangements and beginning the estate process with my parents' financial people.

I'm doing okay.

Nov 30, 2016, 8:08pm Top

Oh, Laura, I'm so sorry!

This has been the most appalling year.

Nov 30, 2016, 8:13pm Top

I am so sorry to hear about your Mom, Laura! How sad. Good luck with everything, my friend. Gentle hugs...

Nov 30, 2016, 9:06pm Top

Oh, Laura, that is too much. Sympathies to you and your family.

Edited: Nov 30, 2016, 9:07pm Top

>129 lauralkeet: I'm sorry.

Nov 30, 2016, 10:58pm Top

Oh, Laura, I'm so sorry to hear about your mom. A bit much, indeed! Thoughts and prayers to you, friend.

Dec 1, 2016, 3:58am Top

Very sorry to hear this, Laura, what a hard time you have had.

Dec 1, 2016, 6:46am Top

Oh, Laura, I'm so, so sorry. You and your family are on my mind and in my heart.

Dec 1, 2016, 6:50am Top

I'm so sorry, Laura. What a tough time. Thinking of you and your family.

Dec 1, 2016, 10:46am Top

I am so sorry to hear about your mom, Laura. Take care of yourself, and in just a few short weeks, we can kick this crummy year to the curb.


Dec 1, 2016, 2:53pm Top

This has been a bad year for you, Laura. I'm so sorry to hear about your mother. Sending hugs and good thoughts to you.

Dec 1, 2016, 8:10pm Top

Glad you're enjoying French's series. I just started the first one. :)

Dec 1, 2016, 9:58pm Top

Thanks to everyone for stopping by with your kind messages, and keeping my thread warm while I've been tending to family matters. It is much appreciated.

Dec 2, 2016, 3:03pm Top

Patting the cushion now for you to sit down at the fireside, take a deep breath and sink into a good book, a glass of mulled wine perhaps. Next year will be a better vintage Laura.

Dec 3, 2016, 2:12am Top

Oh, no! I'm very sorry to hear about your mother's passing, Laura. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.

Dec 3, 2016, 8:51am Top

>142 Caroline_McElwee:, >143 kidzdoc: Thank you, Caro & Darryl. I'm back home now. My husband and I had a nice dinner last night and I'm looking forward to recharging my batteries this weekend by curling up in a chair by the fire with books, knitting, dogs, etc.

Dec 3, 2016, 3:40pm Top

Echoing all the kind wishes above. I'm sorry too.

Dec 4, 2016, 7:39am Top

>129 lauralkeet: What a difficult year 2017 has been, Laura. I have had tough times but nothing compared to your own experiences. Hugs aplenty and heartfelt commiserations from your friend in Malaysia.

Dec 4, 2016, 1:26pm Top

Thank you, Rebecca & Paul.

Dec 5, 2016, 7:26am Top

58. Finn (
Source: On my Kindle
Why I read this now: This was a huge hit when it was published in 2007, IT for some reason I didn't read it right away. I picked it up in a Kindle deal about a year ago.

This was a superb imagining of Huckleberry Finn’s back story, focused on Huck’s father. I absolutely loved it.

Dec 5, 2016, 9:00am Top

>148 lauralkeet: I read Finn last year, after Linda recommended it. It is definitely a good one. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Dec 5, 2016, 10:13am Top

Hmm, that reminds me I haven't read Huckleberry Finn (or maybe I did as a kid and don't remember), I can see my set of Twain on the shelf, winking. Should I read >148 lauralkeet: first, do you think Laura?

Dec 5, 2016, 10:35am Top

Laura, I am so sorry you lost your mother so soon after your father's passing. Such a tough end-of-year blow. I hope 2017 treats you and your family more gently as you continue to mourn your losses.

Finn was such a good book. I'm glad you found something to immerse yourself in. Kings of the Earth was another solid dark read by Clinch but it didn't have the same punch of Finn.

Take care, my friend.

Dec 5, 2016, 11:12am Top

>148 lauralkeet: I'm so glad you could get lost in a good book to help you recharge, Laura. And doubly glad that Finn was able to do it for you. It was one of those books that just walloped me because it worked so well.

>150 Caroline_McElwee: Butting in, Caroline, to say I think you'd better be familiar with Twain's original before you settle in to Finn.

>151 Donna828: I enjoyed Kings of the Earth almost as much as Finn, but I knew about the real-life brothers Clinch based that one on before picking up the novel. I think, as with Huckleberry Finn, that might be important.

Dec 5, 2016, 11:34am Top

>151 Donna828: thank you very much for your kind words, Donna

>149 NanaCC:, >150 Caroline_McElwee:, >152 laytonwoman3rd: Linda is LT's chief evangelist for Finn, and definitely the reason I jumped on the Kindle deal. It was a bit of an impulse grab as I was heading out of town (meaning, I grabbed my Kindle knowing I had a few TBRs on it, and thinking Finn might work). It was sooo good. I tend to agree with Linda that a basic familiarity with Huck Finn would enhance the experience immeasurably. It's a good story on its own, but its brilliance lies in how it augments the original. I realized as I got into it that I've read Tom Sawyer but not Huckleberry Finn; however, both are so much a part of the American consciousness that I knew the basics. I enjoyed the afterword where the author talks about he built his story -- what he used, and what he made up, and why.

Dec 5, 2016, 11:51am Top

>153 lauralkeet: "chief evangelist for Finn" I LIKE that! Thanks, Laura. I just visited some of the reviews of Clinch's novels, and one person (unknown to me) said about Kings of the Earth, "Think if Faulkner and Kent Haruf had a child". That's pretty good.

Dec 5, 2016, 12:34pm Top

Dec 5, 2016, 8:35pm Top

Hi, Laura! So glad you loved Finn. I also thought it was excellent. I was lucky enough to meet Clinch and he is a really interesting guy.

Dec 6, 2016, 4:37am Top

So sorry to hear about your Mum, Laura. What a year 2016 has been :-( Thinking of you all, especially during the Christmas season which I think can be so hard when people have lost loved ones.

I have somehow never heard of Finn but it's now on my list although it sounds like I should reread Huckleberry Finn first.

Dec 7, 2016, 5:35am Top

>152 laytonwoman3rd: >153 lauralkeet: thanks Ladies. Huck Finn soon.

Dec 9, 2016, 6:14am Top

>156 msf59: lucky you, Mark!

>157 souloftherose: Thank you Heather.

>157 souloftherose:, >158 Caroline_McElwee: I hope you both enjoy both Finn and the "original."

Dec 9, 2016, 6:17am Top

59. March Moonlight ()
Source: My Virago Modern Classics collection
Why I read this now: Part of a year-long group read

I've done it -- crossed the finish line reading a complex, challenging series of 13 novellas. It was an interesting journey, one I would never have completed (and probably never would have attempted) were it not for the lovely members of the Virago Modern Classics group who were part of this group read.

Dec 9, 2016, 8:00am Top

Morning Laura! I have been meaning to tell you- I have been listening to the podcast, What Should I Read Next and it is now in my bookish podcast rotation. It doesn't all work for me, but I really like many of the book suggestions and I really like Ann's voice. Grins...

Dec 9, 2016, 8:20am Top

>161 msf59: that's great, Mark! Sometimes there's a guest I don't really connect with, and her recent week-long series on children's lit was a great idea but just not relevant to me right now, but on the whole I love it and have picked up lots of great recs. And I knew you'd like her voice, lol.

Dec 9, 2016, 7:53pm Top

Congratulations on completing Pilgrimage! That is quite an accomplishment!

Edited: Dec 11, 2016, 6:30am Top

>162 lauralkeet: Congratulations Laura. I know sometimes it's been a struggle. Interesting that it is so highly rated. I read the first four in one volume, and got the next volume of four out, with every intent of reading, but it sat there do long I took it back. Maybe another time.

Edited: Dec 11, 2016, 11:22am Top

60. When the Devil Holds the Candle ()
Source: Library Kindle loan
Why I read this now: I wanted some easy reading that would still "grab" me.

This was next up in the Inspector Sejer series. Translated from Norwegian, sometimes the text is a little clunky but I like the detective and the mystery/crime plot is well crafted. In this book, the narrative point of view shifts between the detectives and the perpetrator. The reader is always a few steps ahead of the detectives and the perpetrator is a sympathetic character with a complex story of their own. Enjoyable.

Dec 11, 2016, 12:11pm Top

Delighted you are enjoying Karin Fossum, Laura. This is an excellent Scandi-crime series!

Dec 11, 2016, 3:22pm Top

>160 lauralkeet: Well done! Given how my reading's been this year I'm glad I passed on that particular challenge though. I am looking forward to getting back into some VMC reading for next year.

Dec 11, 2016, 8:27pm Top

>166 lit_chick: I'm definitely enjoying Fossum, Nancy, and it had been a while since I read one.

>167 souloftherose: Heather, I'm looking forward to diversifying my Virago reading next year. I like the monthly author concept that's coming together. It's fun to do something as a group and the loose structure should work well.

Dec 12, 2016, 6:27pm Top

Laura, my Trollope-loving friend: A couple of weeks ago, I was interviewing a candidate for a position in our division and he noticed the copy of Barchester Towers on my shelves (yes, I have some of my TBRs on the shelves at work). He asked if I'd read it and when I confessed that I haven't yet, he said that reading The Barsetshire Chronicles during graduate school was one of the most delightful reading experiences he has ever had. He has a doctorate in English with a focus on Victorian novels. Go figure. Anyway, it made me think of you and made me want to get to this series in 2017.

By the way, I'm just now catching up here and reading the news about your mum. I'm so sorry. And so soon after losing your dad. Tough year, indeed. Keep taking good care of yourself, too. Be gentle with Laura.

Dec 13, 2016, 7:39am Top

Just checking in and hoping you are doing alright. Thinking of you, my friend!

Dec 13, 2016, 11:25am Top

>169 EBT1002:, >170 katiekrug: Ellen & Katie, thanks for checking in with me. I'm doing all right, although having trouble getting fully engaged at work. Fortunately, this Friday is my last day and then I will have two weeks off. I've also started seeing a therapist and my first visit was very helpful.

Dec 13, 2016, 4:19pm Top

Good for you! Sounds like you are very mindful of the need to take care of yourself. That can only be a good thing.

Dec 13, 2016, 10:17pm Top

Laura, I'm glad you are taking some time off from work and visiting with a therapist. Sounds like just the things that would be helpful at this family-oriented time of year. Grief seems to be especially strong as we recall past Christmas gatherings.

I read several of the Fossum books then got busy with other authors. I need to check in with FictFact and see what other series I've started and neglected. I may make a personal commitment to read one of my "lost" authors per month next year. I really enjoyed the psychological slant to KF's mysteries.

Dec 14, 2016, 10:57am Top

I'm so glad to hear you are looking after yourself, Laura, and that you've got a couple weeks off coming up. I saw a grief counsellor after my dad's death many years ago, and she was wonderful, just wonderful! I still think of her, and some of our conversations.

Edited: Dec 14, 2016, 7:46pm Top

>171 lauralkeet: Hurray for two weeks off Laura!

Dec 14, 2016, 8:04pm Top

Dec 14, 2016, 8:06pm Top

61. Stop Walking on Eggshells ()
Source: Kindle store
Why I read this now: "Homework" assigned by my therapist

Too personal for further comment, just wanted to count it towards my unachievable 75. :)

Dec 15, 2016, 11:23am Top

>177 lauralkeet: I'm glad you mentioned it, Laura! We have a person like that in the extended family. This looks helpful.

Dec 15, 2016, 11:57am Top

Yay for two weeks off. Will your daughters be home?

Dec 15, 2016, 2:43pm Top

>178 jnwelch: It was helpful to me, Joe, and I hope the same for you.

>179 qebo: Yes! Julia returns from Spain on Dec 21 ** happy dance ** and Kate will also be coming home for Christmas.

Dec 15, 2016, 4:11pm Top

>171 lauralkeet: Glad to hear you have some time off work coming up, daughters are coming home (hooray!) and have found a therapist helpful. My last day at work is Friday too and I have been counting the days this week.

Edited: Dec 18, 2016, 2:43pm Top

62. Jayber Crow ()
Source: My local library
Why I read this now: Recommended on the What Should I Read Next podcast some time ago, and I just now got around to reading it.

Before reading this book, I knew vaguely of Wendell Berry as an environmentalist and was not familiar with his writing. Jayber Crow is one of several novels set in the fictional town of Port William, Kentucky. Jayber, the town barber, tells his life story from birth in 1914 to old age. Themes of love, friendship, and community are intermingled with warnings about the impact of the automobile, the dangers of large-scale farming, and the futility of war. The prose is quiet and reflective; Berry's societal critique almost sneaks up on you as you find yourself nodding along with him. I'll be reading more of his Port William novels.


I marked a couple of passages that struck me -- such beautiful writing:
She had come into her beauty. This was not the beauty of her youth and freshness, of which she had a plenty. The beauty I am speaking of now was that of a woman who has come into knowledge and into strength and who, knowing her hardships, trusts her strength and goes about her work even with a kind of happiness, serene somehow, and secure. It was the beauty she would always have.

My vision of the gathered church that had come to me after I became the janitor had been replaced by a vision of the gathered community. What I saw now was the community imperfect and irresolute but held together by the frayed and always fraying, incomplete and yet ever-holding bonds of the various sorts of affection. ... I saw them all as somehow perfected, beyond time, by one another's love, compassion, and forgiveness, as it is said we may be perfected by grace.

Dec 18, 2016, 7:13am Top

>181 souloftherose: thank you, Heather. I hope you enjoy your time off as well!

Dec 18, 2016, 5:10pm Top

Currently Reading

Whoa! Colorful covers, eh?

* Do Not Say We Have Nothing - I picked up this Giller Prize winner and Booker nominee at the library this week and read the first chapter yesterday.

* The Mothers - My library Kindle loan came available today. The lending period is only 2 weeks (vs. 3 for my other book), and this one is less than 300 pages, so I'm going to read it first. I'll start tonight.

Dec 18, 2016, 5:48pm Top

Happy Sunday, Laura! Hope you are enjoying the weekend. Ooh, The Mothers! I was thinking of starting this one on audio. I have heard very good things but very little LT buzz. It looks like that might change. I have also been interested in Do Not Say We Have Nothing.

On the podcast front, you might be interested in this one- On the most recent Drunk Booksellers episode they had Ann and Michael on as guests and it was a fun hour to listen to. Check it out when you can:


Dec 18, 2016, 6:32pm Top

Jayber Crow sounds very worthwhile, Laura. I like this about the author's writing: Berry's societal critique almost sneaks up on you as you find yourself nodding along with him. Subtle works for me in this regard. While I was reading your review, I immediately thought of Kingsolver whose writing I can find very preachy ... a real turn-off for me.

Dec 19, 2016, 11:26am Top

>185 msf59: thanks for the podcast rec, Mark!

>186 lit_chick: glad I could tempt you, Nancy. I agree with your comment about Kingsolver. Berry is not like that at all.

Dec 21, 2016, 4:36am Top

I hadn't heard of The Mothers before you and Laura mentioned it, Mark. I look forward to your and Laura's reviews of it.

Dec 21, 2016, 8:01am Top

>188 kidzdoc: as you wish, Darryl ...

Dec 21, 2016, 8:14am Top

63. The Mothers ()
Source: My local library's Kindle collection
Why I read this now: I've seen "buzz" about it in the press, not so much on LT, and I was curious.

After 17-year-old Nadia Turner loses her mother to suicide, her life begins to unravel. Seeking relationship and comfort, and pushing boundaries, she strikes up a relationship with Luke, son of the pastor of her family church, The Upper Room. On the cusp of leaving for college, Nadia becomes pregnant and decides to terminate the pregnancy. This sets up a series of events that, like a stone thrown into a pond, ripple and impact many members of the church community over several years.

The eponymous Mothers, a group of church ladies who see and know all, appear regularly with their commentary on the situation. But they are not the only mothers: Luke's mother plays a pivotal role, and as Nadia matures she often imagines what life would have been like had she given birth, and many cannot be mentioned without spoilers.

This was a well-crafted debut novel that explored some interesting themes. It didn't quite live up to the hype but was still a good read.

Dec 21, 2016, 8:17am Top

I'm afraid I've given up on Do Not Say We Have Nothing. As mentioned upthread (>184 lauralkeet:), I read the first chapter before beginning The Mothers. When I returned to it last night and read another chapter, I found I just wasn't connecting with the characters and the plot was shooting off into several directions in a disjointed way. This is probably a case of good book, wrong time, as I'm just not up for anything requiring this level of concentration so close to the holiday.

I pulled one of my Penelope Lively novels off the shelf instead: Heat Wave.

Dec 21, 2016, 11:35am Top

Nice review of The Mothers, Laura. Given all the other novels by African American authors in my library that I want to read considerably more I think I can safely pass on this one.

Good idea to punt on Do Not Say We Have Nothing for the time being. I struggled with the beginning of it initially, but once I was able to focus and dedicate time to it I enjoyed it considerably more.

Dec 21, 2016, 12:03pm Top

I think you've made the right call, Darryl. Especially with your new anti-fluff campaign :)

Also appreciate your thoughts on the Thien novel. This week, with Christmas upon us and family gathering, I just don't want to work that hard, lol.

Dec 21, 2016, 12:57pm Top

I'll take Darryl's lead and pass, I think, on The Mothers, but appreciate your review, Laura. Yes, good call to set aside Do Not Say We Have Nothing while busy with Christmas and family gathering. I totally get this: I just don't want to work that hard, lol. Perhaps you'll come back to it and ... perhaps not. Often, when I've had a book(s) in the wings that I know will take my full attention to get me through, I put it on a summer reading shelf; I remember doing this with both Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, and it worked very well for me : ).

Dec 22, 2016, 6:47pm Top

Hi Laura! I'm glad you're taking care of yourself and, I will say this: a good therapist can be a godsend. I adore my therapist and, even though I may not "need" to keep going to her, at this point the relationship is such a grounding force in my life, I just can't imagine stopping. I'm glad yours is being helpful at this difficult time of life.

I have The Mothers on hold at the library. Your review seems consistent with other things I've heard, that it's a solid debut effort but falls short of amazing.
And I read and appreciated Do Not Say We Have Nothing but it is not a novel for a time when your concentration may be less than 100% (imho). Essentially, my experience was about the same as Darryl's. Good for you for bailing. It will still be around if you decide you want to try again in a few months or a few years (or never).

Keep taking care of you.

Dec 22, 2016, 8:57pm Top

Nancy & Ellen, thanks so much for the encouragement ...

Dec 22, 2016, 9:07pm Top

>190 lauralkeet: Hi, Laura! I think I ended up liking The Mothers less than you did. I think I have realized that "angsty" family dramas are not my thing, (this has happened to me a few times over the past couple years) especially with characters I do not like or at least find interesting. I honestly, did not "get" the title of the book either. Sure, there are mothers in the novel, but I didn't really see it being about mothers. Maybe, it is just me.

Dec 23, 2016, 4:07pm Top

Hi Laura and Happy Friday. I'm leaving my holiday wishes a couple of days early....

Dec 23, 2016, 10:39pm Top

Wouldn't it be nice if 2017 was a year of peace and goodwill.
A year where people set aside their religious and racial differences.
A year where intolerance is given short shrift.
A year where hatred is replaced by, at the very least, respect.
A year where those in need are not looked upon as a burden but as a blessing.
A year where the commonality of man and woman rises up against those who would seek to subvert and divide.
A year without bombs, or shootings, or beheadings, or rape, or abuse, or spite.


Festive Greetings and a few wishes from Malaysia!

Dec 23, 2016, 10:58pm Top

Merry Christmas, Laura, to you and yours ...

Dec 24, 2016, 11:09am Top

Laura, wishing you a Happy Christmas and a prosperous 2017.

Dec 24, 2016, 1:54pm Top

>197 msf59:: Mark, I think the title has several meanings. Most directly, it refers to the group of church ladies. But there are also several other mothers (or wannabe mothers) in the story, which adds another dimension, IMO.

>198 EBT1002:, >199 PaulCranswick:, >200 lit_chick:, >201 SandDune: thank you for the greetings Ellen, Paul, Nancy, & Rhian!

And a very Merry Christmas to all!

Dec 24, 2016, 1:56pm Top

64. Heat Wave ()
Source: On my shelves
Why I read this now: I was looking for a short but engaging read and Penelope Lively, as usual, fit the bill.

Heat Wave is about Pauline, a copy editor, her daughter Teresa and son-in-law Maurice are spending the summer in a rural village, while Maurice is doing research for a book on tourism. While he works Teresa cares for their toddler son, Luke, and spends time with Pauline. It seems like an idyllic summer until it becomes clear that something else is going on between Teresa and Maurice, and Pauline sees disturbing parallels to her own marriage. Penelope Lively then begins to do what she does best: craft a rich, multi-layered story. Pauline's life is revealed through her memories, often triggered by some event in the present. The emotional impact intensifies as the puzzle pieces come together, and the release at the end, while abrupt, is also fitting. I have yet to find a Penelope Lively novel that I don't like and am glad I have a couple more on my shelves.

Dec 24, 2016, 2:28pm Top

Heat Wave sounds excellent, Laura. Penelope Lively is a relatively new-to-me author, but I've loved what I've read so far. Must get to more of her work in 2017.

Dec 24, 2016, 3:29pm Top

Best wishes, Laura!

Dec 24, 2016, 3:57pm Top

Peace on Earth and Happy Holidays!

Dec 24, 2016, 10:21pm Top

Happy Holidays!

Dec 27, 2016, 12:31pm Top

>203 lauralkeet: Oh, that sounds good. Penelope Lively is another author whose works I want to keep, um, working my way through.

Dec 27, 2016, 12:43pm Top

Hi Laura! I have been largely MIA on LT in December and I am sorry to hear about your mom. Wishing you Happy Holidays filled with fond memories and a better 2017.Heat Wave sounds like a good one--thanks!

Edited: Dec 31, 2016, 8:00am Top

65. Marling Hall ()
Source: On my shelves
Why I read this now: I wanted to finish the year with a light comfort read

I haven't actually finished this yet but I'm close enough to know a) I will finish it before the year is out, and b) it's another solid 3.5-star comfort read from Thirkell's Barsetshire series. This is the eleventh book and yes they are somewhat formulaic and predictable which would normally drive me away by now, but I can't help myself. They are perfect to slip in between more challenging books, or for times like the holidays when I just want to relax and enjoy.

ETA: a comment after finishing Marling Hall: Thirkell's witty take on country gentry was at its best in this book. Unfortunately near the end she devolved into racist prose about "yellow-faced people" and "blacks" with a completely superfluous sketch involving 3 such characters. This understandably drives many modern readers away from Thirkell's work. Other than a very few pages, this was a delightful entry in the series and I will keep reading in hopes I can skim past any segments like this in the future.

Dec 29, 2016, 8:57am Top

Thanks to all who have stopped by with holiday greetings and so on. I've been off work for nearly two weeks now, and my daughters have been home for most of that time. It's been very relaxing and wonderful to spend so much family time together. I've been reading and knitting a lot too.

I'll be back with a year in review and some stats either later today or tomorrow.

Dec 29, 2016, 9:51am Top

I only now read about your mum. I am very, very sorry and sending belated condolences. I can only echo what others already said about taking care of yourself. Seeing a therapist has helped me so much. Asking for help and accepting it from someone I didn't know was difficult at first, but I'm glad I've taken that step.

Wishing you and your family all the best for 2017!!

Dec 30, 2016, 9:53am Top

>212 Deern: Thank you very much, Nathalie. I am so grateful for the supportive LT community.

Edited: Dec 30, 2016, 10:07am Top

2016 Year in Review

This year I read 65 books, well short of 75 but then I haven’t hit the target since 2011 and no one has kicked me out yet! Oddly enough, although I read fewer books than last year (when I came in at 72), I read about the same number of pages (22,572 in 2016; 22,591 in 2015). We LTers love our stats, so here are a few more:
* Most books were rated in the 3-4 star range; the overall average was 3.7 stars. I had three 5-star reads (more on those later).
* I had only one DNF (Marriage, by Susan Ferrier, a Virago Group read), although I abandoned a few early enough that I didn’t count them.
* I don’t shy away from chunksters but my books were generally under 500 pages. Eight came in over 500 pages (hello Trollope!)
* 66% of my books were written by women, which is typical of my reading
* 20 books (31%) were library loans, about the same as 2015 and a substantial increase from earlier years. Yay for libraries!
* I completed -- or kept current with -- three terrific series: Chronicles of Carlingford, by Margaret Oliphant; The Neapolitan Novels, by Elena Ferrante; and Dublin Murder Squad, by Tana French. I also started Trollope’s Palliser novels, and have just one book left.

Here are my top books of 2016, all rated 5 stars:

Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett | Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi | Ruby, by Cynthia Bond

Honorable mentions go to nine 4.5-star reads: The Story of a New Name and The Story of the Lost Child, by Elena Ferrante; Nobody's Fool and Everybody’s Fool by Richard Russo;
My Name is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout; Crow Lake, by Mary Lawson; When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi, The Color Purple, by Alice Walker, and Finn, by Jon Clinch.

2016 was a tough year personally, and I have to say that reading and the wonderful LT community got me through some very difficult times. I’m looking forward to another year of book chat and friendship. So with that, this thread is now closed -- come on over to my 2017 thread!

Dec 30, 2016, 1:11pm Top

Belated merry Christmas and happy New Year Laura!

>203 lauralkeet: I do like Lively's novels and you've reminded me that I have Passing On on my shelves as well as one of her memoirs.

Dec 31, 2016, 7:04am Top

Looking forward to your continued company in 2017.
Happy New Year, Laura

Dec 31, 2016, 7:43am Top

Well, I also loved Homegoing and Ruby and I have Commonwealth on hold at the library (I'm next up!), so hopefully it will make my 2017 "best of" list!

As always, I've very much enjoyed following your reading this year!

Dec 31, 2016, 8:01am Top

Thank you Heather, Paul, and Jennifer! I'm ready to dive into 2017 and hope it is a better year for all of us.

>210 lauralkeet: I finished Marling Hall and added a comment to my post since there was an aspect of this novel that could not pass unnoticed.

Onward to 2017!!

Dec 31, 2016, 12:20pm Top

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2016

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