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Juli (SuziQoregon) tries again in 2018 - chapter 3

This is a continuation of the topic Juli (SuziQoregon) tries again in 2018 - chapter 2.

This topic was continued by Juli (SuziQoregon) tries again in 2018 - chapter 4.

75 Books Challenge for 2018

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Edited: Jun 8, 1:56pm Top

Thanks for stopping by - enjoy the view from Cape Perpetua on the Oregon Coast, grab a book and stay a while.

I'm Juli and this is my fifth year with the 75 Books group. 2017 wasn't a good reading year for me but I'm back and ready to get back in the swing of things. I plan to be a regular for as long as the group and I are both around. I've met some great folks here and they cause my TBR list to explode in a wonderful way.

I'm an avid reader and blogger (at Whimpulsive). I live in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon with The Hubster and two very spoiled cats.

I read a mix of audio, paper and ebooks. I tend to read mysteries and thrillers more than other genres. I also read a lot of graphic novels. My goal for 2017 was to read more nonfiction and I hope to continue that in 2018

My blog is where I talk about books and other things as well. If you want to check out the blog just click on the image below.

Edited: Jun 1, 12:05pm Top

These images we “see” when we read are personal: What we do not see is what the author pictured when writing a particular book. That is to say: Every narrative is meant to be transposed; imaginatively translated. Associatively translated. It is ours.

Peter Mendelsund
What We See When We Read

Edited: Sep 27, 11:02am Top

Currently Reading

Currently Listening To

Edited: Sep 10, 2:20pm Top

Reading Plans for 2018

I participate in one book bloggers challenge every year. It's called the What's in a Name Challenge. 6 books with certain words in the titles.

√ 1. A book with the word 'the' used twice in the title (The Old Man and the Sea)
√ 2. A book with a fruit or vegetable in the title (Blackberry Winter)
√ 3. A book with a shape in the title (The Heart's Invisible Furies)
√4. A book with at title that begins with the letter Z (it can be after 'The' of 'A') (The Zig Zag Girl)
√ 5. A book with a nationality in the title American Wolf
√ 6. A book with a season in the title. One Summer: America 1927

Somehow I fell into the 2018 Nonfiction Challenge in this group. No guarantees I'll complete every month but I'll play along a bit.

January - a book that has been a nominee or won a non-fiction book prize of ANY KIND within the last decade.
Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright

February - A biography
Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie

March - travel book
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

April - history
One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson

May - maps, geography, and geopolitics
Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks by Ken Jennings

June - the great outdoors
The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America's Pastime by Jason Turbow

July - the arts
The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the unlikely ascent of "Hallelujah" by Alan Light

August - short and sweet
Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver

September - Spirits, Spirituality, Gods, Demons, and Supernatural Beings
skipping this month

October - first person singular
I plan to listen to Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

In addition to these I do personal list every season of 5 books I'd like to read. Sometimes I read them all and sometimes I don't.

Five Books I Want to Read This Winter (before the Spring Equinox on March 20th)
√ 1. The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
√ 2. The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne
√ 3. A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
√ 4. Glass Houses by Louise Penny
√ 5. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (for the What's in a Name challenge above)

Five Books I Want to Read This Spring (before the Summer Solstice on June 21st)
√ 1. Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio
√ 2. A Trail Through Time by Jodi Taylor
3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
√4. Best Kept Secret by Jeffrey Archer
√5. The Enemy by Lee Child

Five Books I Want to Read This Summer (before the Atumnal Equinox on September 22nd)
1. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
√ 2. The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash
√ 3. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
√ 4. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
√5. The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths

Edited: Jun 1, 12:12pm Top

My Rating Scale

This has been my rating scale as posted on my blog since 2009 but I'm posting it here not only as information for others but as a reminder to myself to look at this carefully before assigning a rating to books I read.

- No stars – I couldn’t even finish it

- 1 star – I didn’t like it but I managed to finish it. I probably finished it out of some sort of misplaced sense of obligation due to having the book on a challenge list.

- 2 stars – It was OK. Not good, but seriously just OK. I probably kept reading hoping I would like it better or there was some plot point I had to know the answer to even though getting to that answer was maybe more work than pleasure.

- 3 stars - I liked it. I didn’t think it was great, but I thought it was good entertainment. Many of the series books I read are in this range – they’re enjoyable, but not great literature. These are books I might recommend, but only if I really know that your reading taste meshes with mine or if you already have an interest in the subject.

- 4 stars – I really liked it. I really think you might like it too. These are books I’d recommend but maybe with a caveat that ‘it’s not for everyone’. Many of these I pass along to The Hubster. I’m more comfortable recommending these books to a wide audience.

- 5 stars – It was amazing. I’d recommend this to just about anyone. These are the books that really made an impression and I’ll remember them for a long time. I’ve probably handed my copy to someone or said “you really should read this”.

Jun 1, 12:05pm Top

Saving this one

Jun 1, 12:05pm Top

This one too - next is open

Jun 1, 12:06pm Top

Well then, Happy New Thread, Juli!!

Jun 1, 12:15pm Top

>12 RebaRelishesReading: Thanks Reba!

I usually let a previous thread go longer but it was going to be too long by the end of June so I decided to go ahead and start fresh with the new month.

It's been a busy week so not much reading. I'm hoping to make up for that this weekend. We don't have a lot on the schedule other than the weekly errands and seeing a movie on Sunday. The thing I like about weekends is that I can usually manage to get some reading done while cleverly disguising it as "Doing Laundry".

Jun 1, 12:16pm Top

Love that disguise!! I hope you get lots of time for laundry this weekend :)

Jun 1, 12:43pm Top

Happy new thread!

Jun 1, 1:36pm Top

Happy new thread, Juli!
What a great view in your topper. As I live in very flat country, seeing hills and mountains is special.

Jun 1, 3:05pm Top

Happy New Thread, Juli.

What Anita said. It's flat here in the heartland, too. Lovely view in that photo.

Jun 2, 8:01pm Top

Cape Perpetua is one of my favorite places on earth!!!!!! I miss living just an hour or so from that lovely spot on the Oregon Coast.

Jun 2, 9:42pm Top

Happy Weekend, Juli! Happy New Thread! Love the topper! What movie are you seeing?

Jun 3, 6:39am Top

Happy new thread, Juli. Love the photo at the top.

Jun 6, 3:21pm Top

Hi there - no changes in what I'm reading/listening to. Enjoying both Best Kept Secret and Good Omens.

>14 RebaRelishesReading: It's an effective disguise ;-)

>15 drneutron: Thanks!

>16 FAMeulstee: Thank you. Glad you enjoyed the view.

>17 jnwelch: Thanks. It's one of my favorite spots on the coast. Are you going to be doing some exploring that direction when you're out here?

>18 EBT1002: One of mine too Ellen. We'll be there next month and I'm already looking forward to that vacation.

>19 msf59: Thanks Mark. We finally saw Avengers - Infinity War. Glad we saw it on the big screen.

>20 BLBera: Thanks Beth

Jun 7, 12:10am Top

Happy new thread!

Jun 8, 1:57pm Top

>22 banjo123: Thank you!

Jun 8, 1:58pm Top

Looks like we're in for a damp weekend around here. Maybe I'll finally finish Best Kept Secret. I'm enjoying it but have been just busy doing other things instead of reading.

Jun 11, 11:23am Top

I did finish Best Kept Secret yesterday. As is typical for this series it ended on a cliffhanger. I read enough of the first part of the next book to make sure my guess was correct then set it aside for when I read the book at a later time.

I did start reading The Enemy by Lee Child. It's been a while since I read a Reacher book and I'm enjoying it.

Edited: Jun 11, 1:43pm Top

I made the decision to stop doing book reviews on my blog so I'll be posting them here from now on.

Best Kept Secret by Jeffrey Archer
3.5 stars

Number three in a seven book series. This is a big fat family saga following one family from 1920 to the 1990's. I have a weakness for big fat family sagas. The first two books were primarily about setting up the family and resolving some internal conflicts. In this book the external conflicts really take the stage. Archer's books are often about seeking revenge. His first one, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less was a fabulous story of incredibly meticulous revenge and it's often a theme in his novels.

Nearing the middle of this series in the 1950's with this book, Archer firmly establishes the bad guys and sets them up to have reasons to hate the Barringtons and Cliftons. It's all just delicious soap opera or television miniseries style entertainment even though it's not anywhere close to literary fiction.

As always in this series, the book ends with a cliffhanger. While I'm not ready to read the next book right now I did read enough of the beginning of it to make sure my guess about the cliffhanger was correct.

Jun 11, 8:13pm Top

Hi Juli - I like big family sagas as well. I'll have to check this out. I'm not big on cliffhangers though; it sounds like you have a good system.

Jun 11, 8:55pm Top

Hi, Juli. I hope you had a good weekend. We were camping in MI, with forays to a few breweries. Grins...

Why did you decide not to post reviews on your blog? Inquiring minds...

Jun 13, 12:33pm Top

Worked from home yesterday but had a dental appointment so I managed to listen to a little more than a full CD of Good Omens. It's just so delightfully odd and hilarious. Not much print reading yesterday - only one chapter in The Enemy. I do enjoy Reacher.

Jun 13, 12:37pm Top

>28 msf59: Yeah - the cliffhangers are annoying. I have the whole series on my ereader since The Hubster has already read them all so it's easy to read just enough of the next one to resolve the cliffhanger.

>29 SuziQoregon: We did have a good weekend. This coming weekend we both took Monday off so a long one will be nice. No plans to go anywhere, just a long weekend to relax.

Oh I've decided to scale back the blog. Here's what I said there:

After nearly twelve years of posting book reviews here I’m making a big change and shifting the focus of this blog.
When I started this blog it was intended to be an online book journal. It led me to find a large group of like minded book reading friends. In those early years before widespread use of Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, LibraryThing, Instagram, and Litsy, our blogs were where the conversations about books and reading happened.

As social media has become more popular those conversations have shifted away from this blog onto those other social media platforms. There is very little conversation on the book review posts on this blog. Most of the interaction comes on the other types of posts.

Honestly, the self imposed pressure to format and post reviews here and keep to somewhat of a blogging schedule has become something I’m just not interested in continuing to do in the format I’ve been doing. This will free up time for me to be more active in the places where those conversations about books and reading are taking place.

Jun 15, 10:40am Top

Good morning - Happy Friday!

Enjoying The Enemy. I'm on the last CD of Good Omens. Might have to start a jigsaw puzzle to get tome listening time to finish it. I typically only listen to my audiobooks when I'm in the car by myself so that means rarely listening on weekends. I will listen if I'm working on a jigsaw puzzle though. I need to decide what I'll listen to next.

Looking forward to a three day weekend since both The Hubster and I took next Monday off. Not going anywhere - just a long relaxing weekend at home.

Jun 15, 2:47pm Top

Hi Juli -- hope you really enjoy your long, restful weekend. May the weather gods be with you!

Jun 17, 9:39am Top

>29 SuziQoregon: So true, Juli.

Jun 18, 2:20am Top

Hi Juli--I loved Good Omens--glad you are enjoying it. Good thing you do puzzles so you can finish it without having to drive around in circles. LOL. Sorry to see you say goodbye to your blog, but it was clearly not giving you what you wanted anymore. I hope you enjoy better conversations here.

Jun 21, 6:14pm Top

>21 SuziQoregon: This one's a short visit, Juli. We'll be in Portland only. Looking forward to seeing you!

Jun 22, 1:23pm Top

Oops - got busy and haven't checked in.

I finished listening to Good Omens and enjoyed it a lot. I started listening to The House of Unexpected Sisters by Alexander McCall Smith. This series is the audiobook version of comfort food for me. I love Lisette Lecat's narration.

I'm still reading The Enemy by Lee Child. I always enjoy the Reacher books.

We had a good long weekend last weekend. Got some things done and had some good time to relax. Made a visit to the zoo and tried a new to us pizza place for lunch on Monday.

Had another basal cell spot removed the other day. The actual excision isn't nearly as bad as the damage from the bandaging. My chest is kind of a mess right now from that. The itching is making me crazy.

Tonight we're headed to a baseball game. The local single A team is a lot of fun and not far from our house.

Jun 22, 1:24pm Top

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
4 Stars

This is a book about the birth of the Antichrist and the end of the world and it's hilarious. This is definitely not a typical subject for a comedy but Gaiman and Pratchett have done wonders with it.

I started laughing at the initial listing of the Dramatis Personae and continued doing so throughout the book.

Two of the main characters are a snarky demon and a fussy angel. I know that David Tennant will be playing the demon in an upcoming television adaptation and I couldn't help visualizing him as Crowley throughout the book. It helped that we were watching his first season as Doctor Who at the same time I was listening to the book.

I am so glad I listened to this instead of reading it in print. The narration by Martin Jarvis is simply wonderful. He manages to create voices for a huge cast of characters and they all manage to work well. I will be looking for other books he has narrated.

Jun 22, 1:27pm Top

>32 RebaRelishesReading: The weekend was pretty nice. A bit warm for my taste (90's) but we had a good time.

>33 BLBera: Yep

>34 Berly: Oh I'm not giving up my blog completely. I'm just not posting book reviews there. I'm still doing other posts.

>35 jnwelch: Well, next visit then, right? Looking forward to seeing you on the 30th!

Jun 22, 5:47pm Top

Happy Friday, Juli. Thanks for the explanation, on you deciding not to post your reviews on your blog. As long, as you share a mini-review over here, now and then, I will be happy.

Good you enjoyed Good Omens. I will have to revisit that one.

Have a great weekend.

Jun 22, 11:24pm Top

Hi Juli, Good Omens sounds like one I need to read. Of course, now I'll be picturing David Tennant as well. But that's a good thing.

Jun 23, 11:22pm Top

>36 SuziQoregon: We listened to The House of Unexpected Sisters on the way east. Like you said -"comfort food". The stories make me smile and I agree, the narration is very well done.

Jun 25, 5:01pm Top

Still battling skin reactions to the bandaging from my latest basal cell spot removal. It's all pretty ugly right now. Oh well, better than not having it removed.

Over the weekend I finished reading The Enemy. I do love the Jack Reacher books. This one went back and chronologically takes place before the other books in the series. It was fun.

I started reading The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America's Pastime by Jason Turbow and Michael Duca. This one has been on my list for a long time. I first heard about it from an NPR review (https://www.npr.org/sections/monkeysee/2010/12/31/132514289/favorite-books-of-2010-linda-holmes-selects-the-baseball-codes).

I've been kind of itching to rewatch the Ken Burns series about Baseball and this book is making me want to do that even more.

I'm enjoying The House of Unexpected Sisters. I do love these characters and narrator.

Jun 25, 5:36pm Top

I love the Jack Reacher books, too.

Jun 26, 2:05pm Top

Yup, me too.

And the Baseball Codes was pretty fun too!

Jun 26, 5:53pm Top

>43 jnwelch: But I'm still dismayed at casting Tom Cruise for the movie. Baffling.
Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday!

>44 drneutron: I'm really enjoying it.

Jun 27, 8:48am Top

>45 SuziQoregon: Ditto, and ditto, Juli! :-)

Jun 28, 6:02pm Top

The Enemy by Lee Child
Jack Reacher #8
4 stars

I do enjoy the Jack Reacher series. This one takes a step back in time and chronologically takes place before the previous six books. It's January 1, 1990. Reacher is still in the army and he's got a dead general and soon afterwards, several other bodies on his hands.

This is full of conspiracy and unsurprisingly Reacher taking his own unsanctioned path to the truth. There are several parts of the mystery that are sure to intersect but at the beginning it's unclear quite how. This one was much more a police procedural (well, as procedural as Reacher is willing to be anyway) than some of the other books in the series what were more action thriller type books.

I enjoyed the look back to Reacher's army days and the setting at the end of the Cold War was interesting. I liked Lieutenant Summer - she was a good assistant/accomplice for Reacher.

The secondary plot involving Reacher's brother and mother filled in quite a bit of background about both him and his family.

This would actually work well as a starting point book for those new to the series.

Jun 29, 7:59am Top

See you tomorrow at Powell's!! 4:00 at the coffee shop? Any thoughts on dinner afterward? See the meetup up thread....

: )

Jun 29, 8:26am Top

PS--Hope the bandages are no longer irritating you!!

Jun 29, 10:32am Top

>48 Berly: - Yep - see you tomorrow. Already responded on the thread. The bandage damage is getting slightly better. I get the stitches out on Monday so that will be the end of it for this round.

Jun 29, 11:04am Top

Happy Friday, Juli. Hooray for the upcoming Meet Up. I wish I could be right there with you. You will really enjoy Joe & Debbi. Very special people.

Jun 29, 11:32am Top

Thanks Mark! When will you be heading this direction again?

Jun 29, 12:05pm Top

>52 SuziQoregon: Yeah! What Juli asked....! : )

Jun 29, 6:26pm Top

>52 SuziQoregon: >53 Berly: I would love to make it out there again, Juli & Kim. Not sure, when that will happen but I will see if I can make an appearance, at some point.

In the meantime, have a great time tomorrow.

Edited: Jul 1, 11:56am Top

Fantastic meetup yesterday. Always good to get together with my local friend Kim. I was so excited to meet Joe and Debbi in person. Zoe and Mark were lovely last minute additions to the group. They happened to be in town and heard about the meetup plans.

It was simply a delightful evening.

And I didn’t buy a single book.

Photos are on Kim’s thread http://www.librarything.com/topic/291226#6516521

Jul 2, 8:47pm Top

Agreed, Juli. What a treat to meet you and Kim and Zoe and the hubbies!

What a delightful evening. I did get a bunch of books, but I don’t have access to that terrific bookstore like you do.

We’ll be heading back tomorrow with big smiles.

Jul 5, 12:49pm Top

It's been a busy week but I did manage to get a little bit of reading in. I finished The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America's Pastime. I'm a rather casual baseball fan and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I'm hanging on to my library copy so that The Hubster can read it too.

I'm still listening to The House of Unexpected Sisters. I've got some driving to do this weekend to get to a family gathering so I might be able to finish it up.

I started reading The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths. I've heard it's not as good as her Ruth Galloway series (which I still haven't started) but I needed a title that started with Z for one of my reading challenges and decided to give it a try.

I also started a delightful graphic novel called My Boyfriend is a Bear by Pamela Ribon. I heard about this one from Linda Holmes who does NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. She said,
and that is a perfect description of it.

Looking forward to meeting Beth (BLBera) this afternoon for a drink before I head out of downtown.

Jul 5, 12:49pm Top

>56 jnwelch: Thanks Joe - glad you and Debbi had a good visit.

Jul 6, 1:14pm Top

The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America's Pastime by Jason Turbow and Michael Duca

This was fun and interesting and you don't have to be a rabid baseball fan to understand or enjoy it. I'm a casual baseball fan at best and I liked this book. It was good to read the stories about some of the players who's names I knew.

Some of the 'unwritten' rules were things I already knew about but others were rather obscure. The authors interviewed many players and had many stories to tell. Some were funny. In the chapter about cheating and stealing signs this one made me laugh out loud.

If the warning works, there's rarely reason to escalate things. Some pitchers, however, like to ensure that their message has been received. In 1993, when Blue Jays pitcher Jack Morris was clued in to the sign-tipping efforts of a baserunner at second, he spun on his heel, walked toward his opponent, and, pointing toward the plate, said, "I'm throwing a fastball and it's going at him. Make sure you tell him that." Then he delivered the pitch, as promised, knocking the hitter down. At that point, Morris made a second trip toward the runner. "Did you tell him?" he yelled. "Did you?"

I liked this one and I'm keeping it out from the library so The Hubster can read it.

Edited: Jul 6, 1:23pm Top

My Boyfriend is a Bear by Pamela Ribon with art by Cat Farris

This graphic novel is a sweet romance story of a woman and a 500 pound American Black Bear.

It's funny and weird and sweet and completely delightful. The artwork by Cat Ferris is wonderful.

Nora first meets Bear on a camping trip with the latest in her string of horrible boyfriends. Later Bear shows up at her house and soon she's falling for him. I know. It's silly but trust me this is a delightful little romance.

Relationships are hard between humans and a relationsip between a woman and a bear isn't any easier. They have their conflicts. Some of her friends are fine and others think he's all wrong for her. Aside from the interspecies thing it's really a rather realistic relationship story.

Just read it. It's charming.

Jul 6, 7:44pm Top

Happy Friday, Juli! Hooray for another Meet Up!! 2 in one week? How cool is that? I have yet to meet Beth, but I hope to this year.

Have a great weekend, my friend.

Jul 6, 7:50pm Top

Juli--Round two of Meet Up photos are up on on my thread!! Hope you have a great weekend with your family.

Jul 7, 12:34am Top

Great to see you Juli. Have a wonderful time with your family.

Jul 10, 3:40pm Top

Hi there - Had a great weekend with the family. Lots of food, lots of laughter, a minor knife incident on my thumb and a broken toe (stoopid concrete block). Both of the injuries are feeling better by now but still healing. Looking forward to next year. My youngest brother was there for the first time in a long time this year and we've made him promise to be there again next year.

Obviously not a lot of reading over the weekend but I did get some audiobook time on the drive there and back. This morning I finished reading The House of Unexpected Sisters. Typical and enjoyable for this series. Nice driving around listening. This afternoon I'm going to start listening to A Gentleman in Moscow.

The Zig Zag Girl is interesting so far. Set in Brighton England in the 1950's.

Jul 10, 3:44pm Top

>61 msf59: Thanks Mark! Yep - two meetups in one week! It's good to live in Portland.

>62 Berly: Thanks Kim! Great photos and good to see the rest of the evening was fun too.

>63 BLBera: Thanks Beth! We did have a great weekend. So glad you were able to get to Portland again!! Fun to see you and thanks for working with my need to meet up earlier.

Jul 10, 3:44pm Top

The House of Unexpected Sisters by Alexander McCall Smith narrated by Lisette Lecat

It's book number 18 so obviously I like the series. I've never read any of the print editions. I've only listened to the audiobooks. I absolutely adore Lisette Lecat's narration of this series. She's delightful to listen to and I don't have to try and guess at some of the name and place pronunciations.

While it's sort of a series about a detective agency these certainly are not mystery books. Yes they have cases they investigate but even if they do involve a mystery it's really not the main topic of the book. These are a gently told love story to Botswana and to Africa and to "The Old Botswana Morality".

Precious Ramotswe and her family, friends and coworkers are old friends of mine by now. The "Unexpected" part of the title is something that definitely throws Mma Ramotswe for a loop and makes her sad for the first time I can remember in 18 books. As is typical for this series it all works out in the end but the journey to get there is an enjoyable, funny, charming and yes, sometimes sad one. These are the audiobook version of comfort food for me.

I'm looking forward to the next book and will be pre-ordering it as soon as it's available on Audible.

Jul 10, 4:30pm Top

The date of Lethal White release was announced- Sept 18. Not sure if that includes NA, I’m assuming it does. Woo hoo!

Jul 10, 4:55pm Top

>67 raidergirl3: I KNOW!!! I can't wait. Will definitely be preordering that when it shows up on Audible!!

Jul 10, 9:33pm Top

I hope your thumb and toe recover quickly, Juli.

It was fun to get to Portland again; I wish I could have had more time there. My daughter and son-in-law's flight was canceled, and they ended up staying overnight.

I can't wait to see what you think of A Gentleman in Moscow. It was long; I imagine it is a long audiobook. How many hours?

Jul 11, 1:38pm Top

>69 BLBera: It's 17 hours and 52 minutes. It's close to the same length at the second and third Cormoran Strike books and each of those took me about a month to listen to. This might take a little longer since we'll be out of town for a week and that means no time in the car by myself for listening.

Edited: Jul 11, 6:27pm Top

>66 SuziQoregon: Number 18 already! Oh my. I read the first few and then got so distracted I might have to read them again. It's good to know the narrator is enjoyable - I might switch to the audible editions.

and healing vibes for your toe and thumb. Really, it's best to keep all these small parts attached and in working order.

Jul 11, 10:23pm Top

Happy Wednesday, Juli. I hope you love The Count. He is such a memorable character.

I just bought a Canon Powershot, so I am looking forward to introducing photography to my birding adventures.

Jul 12, 12:11pm Top

Portland sounds like a hotspot for meetups! It was so nice to meet you and everyone else while I was there. I like your idea of just linking to Kim's post for the meetup photos; I think I'll do that too!

Jul 13, 2:20am Top

Juli--Sorry about your finger and toe! Bummer. Heal quickly, okay? I should try McCall's series on audio-- I think they would be great. I must be on number 8 or something...

Jul 16, 5:15pm Top

Well last week pretty much flew by in a haze of way too busy at work to be more than barely functional away from work.
Fortunately we had a relaxing (despite the heat) weekend. Hoping this week at work remains reasonable.

Cut finger and broken toe are healing. Better than last week for sure.

As for reading - I'm only about halfway through The Zig Zag Girl. Enjoying it but so far in random small chunks of reading time. I'm loving the audio of A Gentleman in Moscow.

Edited: Jul 16, 6:26pm Top

>71 ffortsa: Yep! And 19 is due out in November. I really love the narrator of the audios.

>72 msf59: Thanks Mark. I am enjoying The Count! Looking forward to your photos.

>73 _Zoe_: It seems to be this summer for sure. I'm so glad you joined the meetup. It was fun getting to know you.

>74 Berly: Both injuries are healing so that's good. I do enjoy the audio of the Ladies Detective Agency series. Give the sample on audible a listen. I think you'll like Lisette Lecat too.

Jul 17, 9:08am Top

Hi Juli! Trying to catch up and see you listened to The House of Unexpected Sisters. We listened to it on the drive east and I agree, the narration is so good I don't even consider reading one "with my eyes". Also do the audio because Hubby enjoys them too so it's a good travel book. We were in Botswana in 2013 and took a "Ladies' #1 Detective Agency" tour which was a kick and interesting because the guide knows McCall-Smith and told us a lot of background in addition to driving us by the spots that are talked about in the book.
Everything about that series and Botswana makes me smile!

Jul 17, 1:34pm Top

>77 RebaRelishesReading: Oh what a fun tour!!

Edited: Jul 18, 10:57am Top

Hope Never Dies: An Obama/Biden Mystery by Andrew Shaffer

1. I'm sure this will be completely ridiculous
2. I'm also sure I'm going to read it

Jul 18, 11:07am Top

Happy Wednesday, Juli. I hope you are having a good week. I got my first hummer photo and in flight too. I hope to post it later today.

Jul 18, 11:16am Top

>80 msf59: Very cool!!! I'll be over to check it out.

Jul 19, 1:12pm Top

I finished reading The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths this is the first in her Stephens and Mephisto mystery series. It's set in 1950 Brighton and features a policeman and a magician who had served together in World War II. I figured it out fairly early on but enjoyed the book anyway. Now I need to start the Ruth Galloway series.

I started reading The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the unlikely ascent of "Hallelujah" by Alan Light for the Nonfiction Challenge's Arts category for July. I love the song and find all the different interpretations interesting. K.D. Lang's version is my all time favorite though.

Jul 19, 1:21pm Top

I'm thoroughly enjoying listening to A Gentleman in Moscow. I made note of this passage yesterday:
“Presumably, the bells of the Church of the Ascension had been reclaimed by the Bolsheviks for the manufacture of artillery, thus returning them to the realm from whence they came. Though for all the Count knew, the cannons that had been salvaged from Napoleon's retreat to make the Ascension's bells had been forged by the French from the bells at La Rochelle; which in turn had been forged from British blunderbusses seized in the Thirty Years War. From bells to cannons and back again, from now until the end of time.”

Jul 19, 3:16pm Top

The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths

While the first series by Elly Griffiths featuring Ruth Galloway has been on my TBR list for a couple of years I still haven't started reading it. When I was looking for a book with at title that started with Z for this year's What's in a Name Challenge I found this one at the library. It's the first in another series by Griffiths. This one is set in 1950 in Brighton, England. Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens and magician Max Mephisto served together during World War II in Inverness, Scotland in a special unit known as "The Magic Men". Now, they are brought together by a murder case involving a young woman who was dismembered in a gruesome imitation of a famous magic trick of Mephisto's known as The Zig Zag girl. Soon there is another death and the murders seem to indicate that the members of The Magic Men might all be targets of the killer.

I enjoyed this one well enough. I figured it out fairly early on but the story was interesting and the characters were enjoyable enough that I didn't mind continuing to the expected conclusion. Max and Edgar make an interesting investigative team. The present day investigation is interspersed with flashbacks to the wartime work of The Magic Men. Parts of the story are clearly not believable and while I learned a lot about the two main characters, I never felt I really got to know them. Despite that, it was entertaining enough that I'll probably read the next book in the series.

I've seen reviews that indicate this series is not as good as the Ruth Galloway series so I'm definitely looking forward to starting that one.

Jul 21, 10:09pm Top

>84 SuziQoregon: Hi Juli - I have this as an ebook, and I started it, but it wasn't holding my attention, so I left it. I might pick it up in the future. Her Ruth books are much better.

Jul 22, 4:45am Top

>84 SuziQoregon: Hi Juli, I put this series on my library list. I'm still ind the middle of the Ruth series.
Happy Sunday and get well soon with your insuries.

Jul 22, 4:53pm Top

>79 SuziQoregon: I've been seeing promos for that Obama/Biden mystery, Juli. Love that cover!

I LOVED A Gentleman in Moscow.

I hope you've been having a good weekend.

Edited: Aug 8, 3:12pm Top

Good morning and hello from vacation. Just got back from our walk. Having a second cup of coffee and some breakfast. Wildlife count for this morning was an eagle, seagulls (of course), a dove, barn swallows,cormorants, a chipmunk, and a great blue heron.

It's overcast with a heavy marine layer just hanging over us. It's probably going to be that way all week since it's so hot on the other side of the mountains at home. Nice to be here instead of in the heat though.Today we're going to head up to Newport for some lunch and some groceries and maybe a little exploring.

Looking forward to a relaxing week of reading with frequent distractions from the view in our back yard.

I'm still reading The Holy or the Broken and enjoying it. I have several graphic novels with me as well as other books to choose from when I finish it. There will also be a jigsaw puzzle, some hiking, good food, good beer, good wine, etc.

Jul 23, 1:20pm Top

>85 BLBera: I enjoyed it well enough but it never absorbed me. I'm definitely looking forward to the Ruth books.

>86 Ameise1: I'm pretty much recovered from my injuries. Wore real shoes for the first time instead of sandals and my broken toe didn't hurt a bit.

>87 jnwelch: Isn't that cover great? I am thoroughly enjoying A Gentleman in Moscow but probably won't get much listening time this week. The Hubster is planning on playing golf a couple of times so I might listen to it while I'm working on my jigsaw puzzle when he's out.

Jul 23, 7:26pm Top

I love the northern CA/southern OR coast (which is where I'm guessing you are). Hope you have a wonderful relaxing vacation.

Jul 23, 8:14pm Top

Happy Vacation, Juli. Love the coastal shots and the wildlife report. Isn't there a good brewery in Newport? My memory is a bit fuzzy...grins.

Jul 25, 8:26pm Top

>88 SuziQoregon: Lovely! I'll join you with a book!

Jul 29, 6:54pm Top

Hi there - back from vacation. Had a wonderful time. Hardly read a thing. Spent lots of time watching and listening to the ocean in our back yard. I did work on a hard jigsaw puzzle but because of wanting to hear the waves I never listened to my audiobook at all. I'll get back to it tomorrow.

I did finish reading The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the unlikely ascent of "Hallelujah" by Alan Light It's very much a biography of a song and its significant performances. We got home yesterday afternoon and I started reading The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde I need to create a new tag of "Kim's Fault" for this one. It was never on my radar at all until she picked it up at one of our recent meetups at Powell's.

I'll be back in the next couple of days and more of a review of The Holy or the Broken but right now I plan to stay in vacation mode until tomorrow morning.

Jul 29, 6:56pm Top

>90 RebaRelishesReading: Yep - we were on the Central Oregon coast. We've been going to this same rental house every summer for a week since 2007. We call it our version of a time share.

>91 msf59: Yep lots of wildlife sightings this week. We had a group of about 5 whales right offshore for a while on Friday afternoon and it was great to see their spouts.

>88 SuziQoregon: It was lovely even though we had lots of fog thanks to a heat wave inland all week. We did get some breaks in the weather so it wasn't all gray and gloomy.

Jul 29, 8:32pm Top

Juli, I love your description of your annual rental as your version of a time share. My family also rents a house on the Central Coast every summer and I've never thought of it that way. I'll bet it was hard to come home.

Edited: Jul 30, 5:24pm Top

The holy or the broken : Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the unlikely ascent of "Hallelujah" by Alan Light

Rufus Wainwright's version is the one I've probably heard the most. K.D. Lang's version is my absolute favorite. I've only heard Leonard Cohen and Jeff Buckley's versions a few times. I love the song Hallelujah and I enjoyed this book.

I enjoyed hearing the differing interpretations of the meaning of the song. What I didn't know was that after first recording the song, Leonard Cohen continued to tinker with it and added, changed and deleted lyrics on a continual basis. So not only have there been many different arrangements of the music, there have been many different combinations of the lyrics performed.

Because of the fact that so many different verses and combinations of them are out there it makes sense that it's difficult to pin down the meaning of the song. Different combinations emphasize different sets of verses and therefore can make the song tragic, uplifting, sorrowful, sexual, or celebratory.

This book follows Cohen's original writing and recording of the song and then follows the song through many of its most important performers and performances. I will probably be scouring You Tube to hear many of them, but apparently there are a few pretty awful versions out there too. Because it's been covered by so many artists it's been on and off the charts in many countries many different times. In December 2008 there were two versions of the song (Jeff Buckley's and X-Factor Winner Alexandra Burke's) in the top two spots on the UK Singles Chart.

I liked this book. It's essentially a biography of a song and just happens to be about a song I like.

Jul 30, 3:34pm Top

>95 Oregonreader: The great thing about going to the same house every year is that we know exactly what to take and exactly where everything is. We can be unpacked, moved in for the week and relaxing on the deck within such a short time after arriving.

Aug 1, 10:01am Top

The Holy or the Broken sounds fascinating, Juli.

Your vacation sounds wonderful. Welcome back.

Aug 8, 3:15pm Top

Another busy week and I've hardly read much at all. I'm loving The Last Dragonslayer and hope to finish that today. That means I need to figure out what I'm going to read next.

On audio I'm enthralled with A Gentleman in Moscow. I think I'm about halfway through at this point. Just a wonderful book and the audio format is good. However, I'm glad I also have the ebook out from the library so I can go back and reread some things and recheck in what year the current section I'm listening to takes place.

I promised I'd be back with photos from vacation and then sort of fell of the threads for the past week and a half. Oops.

From my morning walk route

The jigsaw puzzle I did while we were there. It was hard but pretty.

The wave action right off our back deck (and the main reason I don't read much when we're there - it's hard not to just watch it all day).

We've already got next year's trip booked.

Aug 8, 3:21pm Top

Last week return to work wasn't too bad. It's a pretty quiet time of year for my department. I was busy after work all week catching up on errands and stuff that needed to be done after being out of town. Then over the weekend we were busy. Went to a small local community theater with friends to see a fun production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

On the way home from that something broke on my car and spewed most of it's oil out. We made it home but parked the car until yesterday when we had AAA haul it into the dealership to get fixed. Luckily we have three vehicles so I've been driving The Hubster's truck this week. Will be glad to get my car back tonight though.

On Sunday we went up to my brother and sister-in-law's place for a family BBQ. Time for the family to meet my newest (three weeks old) great niece. She's adorable.

Tomorrow and Friday I'll be working from home to take an online Excel class. No commuting means no audiobook time so I might have to start a jigsaw puzzle after class just to have some listening time. We've got nothing on our calendar this coming weekend and I'm looking forward to staying home and relaxing as much as we can. I think we're supposed to get a bit of a break between our current heat wave and the next one.

Aug 8, 3:23pm Top

>98 BLBera: I liked it but I do love the song to begin with. We had a fabulous vacation. Looking forward to next year. We'd love to find a way to make another long weekend trip there before next July.

Aug 9, 10:28am Top

Beautiful vacation photos. I can imagine it's hard to keep your eyes off of scenes like that. Glad you're enjoying the audio of A Gentleman in Moscow. I listened to it too and thought the reader was wonderful.

Aug 9, 10:30am Top

Thanks for sharing your photos, Juli. Have you seen "All's Well That Ends Well" yet? I went to see it a couple of weeks ago. I would love to hear your comments on it. It's the last one that you haven't seen, right?

Edited: Aug 9, 3:14pm Top

>102 RebaRelishesReading: I agree - the narrator is wonderful.

>103 BLBera: We don't see All's Well That Ends Well until next year. That will complete the canon for us. We are going back down to see Henry V again over Labor Day weekend. This year's production is so good that we came home from seeing it in April and ordered tickets to see it again. In all the years we've been going to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival this is the first time we've gone back to see a play a second time in the same season.

Aug 9, 1:38pm Top

Wow, I would like to see Henry. I was thinking All's Well is this year. I think I've seen all the comedies, but I'm missing histories and some tragedies.

Aug 9, 2:14pm Top

What great photos from your VK, Juli!! Sounds like a bit of heaven. Glad to know you are enjoying The Last Dragonslayer, too. I wouldn't want to steer you wrong! And I really do need to get back down to OR Shakespeare Festival. It has been a few years....

Aug 9, 4:42pm Top

Great photos, Juli! That looks like a beautiful place to spend time.

Aug 9, 5:11pm Top

I think we are all getting our summers-end beach trips in!

Aug 9, 7:08pm Top

>105 BLBera: Henry V is The Hubster's favorite play. He says it's got the best "locker room speech" ever written.

>106 Berly: Thank you so much for telling me about The Last Dragonslayer!. I really enjoyed it and will be continuing with the series.

>107 jnwelch: Thanks Joe - we've been renting this same beach house every year since 2007. We just love it there.

>108 thornton37814: Yep! That time of year.

Aug 13, 3:40pm Top

I finished reading The Last Dragonslayer last week. Really enjoyed it (Thanks Kim !!). I will definitely be reading the next books in the series. I will also be moving the Thursday Next books up closer to the top of the queue too.

I started The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash. I adore his writing.

Still listening to and enjoying A Gentleman in Moscow

Aug 15, 3:41pm Top

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

Even my county library can't agree on how to characterize this one. Some branches have it shelved in Juvenile Fiction and some have it shelved in Young Adult. Since the heroine is fifteen, I'm sticking with Young Adult. None of that really matters because mostly it's just fun.

There's magic, a dragon, an awful king, fun characters, a lovable but scary Quarkbeast, good guys, bad guys, and several who could be either.

What magic is left in the world is now used for things like rewiring houses and delivering pizza by flying carpet. Jennifer Strange is fifteen, an orphan, and in indentured servitude as the manager of Kazam Mystical Arts Management. Her job is part caretaker and part paperwork wrangler.

When visions seem to predict the impending death of the last great dragon it seems to indicate great changes in the near future and Jennifer plays a key role in the outcome.

It's fun, funny, and just a delightful story.

This is my first book by Jasper Fforde and it most definitely will not be my last. I just love the humor and imaginative story. I've already checked the second book in this series out from the library and have the first of his Thursday Next series on my ereader.

Aug 15, 11:01pm Top

Hi Juli, I have read several of Fforde's Thursday Next series and had the same reaction as you did to The Last Dragonslayer. What a great imagination he has.

I see you are enjoying A Gentleman in Moscow. It's one of my favorite reads this year.

This air is unbelievable, isn't it? I hope you can stay indoors when you aren't working.

Aug 17, 9:07am Top

I read the first two Tuesday Next stories and enjoyed them. It sounds like The Last Dragonslayer is a lot of fun. Soon.

Have a lovely weekend, Juli.

Aug 21, 2:08pm Top

>111 SuziQoregon: Yay! You liked it. : )

Hey, check out the Portland Visit thread and let us know what works for a meetup next week with Rachel...

And stay inside today. This air sucks!!

Aug 22, 1:55pm Top

Hi there - finally finished my second book of August - it's been that kind of month.

I absolutely loved listening to A Gentleman in Moscow. Finished it yesterday afternoon and it's still simmering in my head. Just lovely. Feels like I've been in the process of listening to this one for a long time but I did start it before we went on vacation and then didn't listen at all for a 10 day stretch.

Decided to go with something short to follow that up. I started listening to A Night to Remember by Walter Lord narrated by Martin Jarvis. I enjoyed listening to Martin Jarvis with Good Omens so selecting this audio was easier because of that. It's the classic account of the night the Titanic sunk. Written in 1955, he was able to interview many survivors and get first hand accounts of that night. My brother was semi-obsessed with the Titanic and I remember this book being on our bookshelf for years. I did find out that after the wreck was discovered that Lord wrote a second book called The Night Lives On which I'll likely pick up from the library after I finish this one.

In print - I'm still reading and loving The Last Ballad. After looking up a location I found out that this one is based on real events. I hadn't known that going in.

Aug 22, 1:57pm Top

>112 Oregonreader: I hear we're supposed to get a break from the smoky air. Hope so.

>113 BLBera: Good to know. I'm looking forward to reading them.

>114 Berly: Thank you so much for talking me into it. Also thanks for the nudge about the Portland meetup thread. I did post over there.

Edited: Aug 23, 2:04pm Top

Ugh - they keep telling us the air is going to clear out but the air quality index is still in the unhealthy for all range - blergh . . .

At least I'm getting a lot of reading done.

I listened to a little over an hour of A Night to Remember yesterday. It's good.

I finished The Last Ballad. Wiley Cash can tell a story so well.

I started Royal City, Vol. 1: Next of Kin. I love all things jeff Lemire and I'm sure this will be wonderful. I've already got volume 2 out from the library.

I also started Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver. Her poetry is so lovely. I didn't realize she had this book of essays too.

Aug 23, 2:31pm Top

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles narrated by Nicholas Guy Smith

What a lovely book. I've long been a fan of Russian history so this historical fiction set beginning just a few years after the Bolshevik Revolution was pretty much right up my alley.

I knew going in that Count Rostov was going to be sentenced to house arrest in the hotel and I wondered how the author was going to make a fairly long novel work within that limited setting. I shouldn't have worried because he managed to make it a sweeping saga without feeling claustrophobic (except when done purposely). There are flashbacks that fill in the Count's history before he became a "Former Person" and a few asides that fill in what happens to some important characters outside of the hotel

Not only did I get to know and love Count Rostov but I also grew to know and love the characters who became his friends and family during his long exile in a single building within the city of Moscow.

There is an interesting Q and A with the author here on his website where he talks about how he came to write the book and the way he structured it. It's not really spoilery at all and I think a worthwhile read.

The story proceeds at a leisurely pace and there's a lot of buildup in the first third or so. As it progresses the pace picks up (again see the author's comments on the structure) and manages to become quite suspenseful.

I enjoyed the author’s previous book (Rules of Civility) so had a bit of a feel for his writing style before starting this one. For me the audio editions have been good. I thought that Nicholas Guy Smith was an excellent narrator for this book. It was the first time listening to a book he's narrated and I found him easy to listen to and liked his pacing and voice.

Aug 23, 7:02pm Top

Hi, Juli! Hooray for A Gentleman in Moscow! I am so glad you loved it. Long, live the Count! I am also glad to see you enjoying The Last Ballad. I am a big fan of Mr. Cash.

I also have Upstream on the list too. It is always a joy to see what you are reading.

Aug 24, 10:38am Top

>118 SuziQoregon: Thanks for providing the link to the Q and A. I read the book and loved it but was unaware of the Q and A and found it very interesting.

Aug 31, 11:57am Top

Hi Juli! It was great meeting you yesterday. I have been wanting to read Gentleman of Moscow. So many people enjoy it.

Aug 31, 4:20pm Top

>118 SuziQoregon: Nice review and thanks for the link to Q and A. Great to see you yesterday. : )

Sep 4, 12:43pm Top

It's been way too long and I've been way too busy so it's time for a major reading catch up post. I've got a bunch of reviews to write and I hope this week will be a little less busy so that I can get them done.

Lets see . . . where did I leave off . . .

I read Royal City Vol. 1: Next of Kin and Royal City Vol. 2: Sonic Youth by Jeff Lemire. Once again I'm completely in love with his work. I'm number one on the library wait list for the final volume in this trilogy due out in October.

I read Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver. As with most collections of this sort I liked some more than others.

I'm about 2/3 of the way through my reread of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer. It's just as charming and lovely as the first time I read it and I'm looking forward to watching the movie adaptation on Netflix once I finish it.

On audio I've been listening to shorter books - mostly because I don't want to be in the middle of something else when the next Cormoran Strike book is available on audio. I've been stalking Audible but it's still not available for pre-order. Hope it's really available on September 18th when the other formats go on sale.

I listened to A Night to Remember by Walter Lord narrated by Martin Jarvis. Just excellent.

I also listened to Death of a Perfect Wife by M.C Beaton narrated by Shaun Grindell. Even though the main character if this series is a police constable in a small village in Scotland it feels much more like a cozy mystery series. I like this series much better than her Agatha Raisin series.

We had a road trip this past weekend. We went down to Ashland to see Henry V again. The production this year at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is so good we just had to go back and see it again.
On the drive we listened to Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman narrated by the author. I just love listening to him read his books. He's an excellent storyteller both in print and voice.

This morning I started Sackett's Land by Louis L'Amour narrated by John Curless. This is one from the "Mark's Fault" tag. He mentioned this on his thread in the past couple of weeks. I've never read any L'Amour and decided this one was a good place to start.

Sep 4, 12:47pm Top

A friend of mine shared this on Facebook over the weekend and I just love it.

Sep 4, 12:49pm Top

>119 msf59: I've got The Hubster listening to it now.

>120 Oberon: You're welcome - I thought the Q and A was quite interesting.

>121 The_Hibernator: It was lovely to meet you and your husband! Hope you had a good shopping trip at Powell's.

>122 Berly: Thanks Kim. Always great to see you!!

Sep 6, 4:25pm Top

Juli, I'm just stopping by to say hi. I love the picture of all the things books are. I like 'escape hatches". One of my favorites.

Sep 6, 4:38pm Top

Sweet Thursday, Juli. I hope you are having a good week. I see you are reading some fine books. I enjoyed Guernsey and plan on seeing the Netflix film soon. I also need to request Royal City Vol. 2. I really liked the first one.

How are you enjoying Sackett's Land?

Edited: Sep 7, 1:31pm Top

The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash

I'm late to the Wiley Cash bandwagon but I'm a firm permanent resident at this point. I loved his other books and had high expectations for this, his latest. I was not disappointed.

The writing is superb, the setting feels like you can touch, hear, and smell it while you're reading.

I didn't realize until I was about halfway through the book that this is based on real events and a real person. I happened to Google a location and found the real Ella May Wiggins.

As usual the story is told from several different viewpoints. Cash does this so well and beautifully circles the story around to show multiple sides of things.

He is a brilliant writer and I hope he keeps at it.

Edited: Sep 7, 1:28pm Top

Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver

I needed a book of essays or some other form of short nonfiction for my nonfiction challenge group for August. I have liked what little of Mary Oliver's poetry that I've read. I was surprised to see that this collection of her essays existed but it fit what I was looking for and was available at the library.

As with pretty much any collection type of book (whether short stories, essays, poetry, etc.) I ended up liking some much more than others.

I totally could have done without the one that was all about a spider catching, eating, and disposing of its prey.

I really enjoyed the ones in which she talks about Walt Whitman and Ralph Waldo Emerson and their writing and how it influenced her.

"First and foremost, I learned from Whitman that the poem is a temple -- or a green field -- a place to enter, and in which to feel.

Many of the essays are detailed observations of nature and her abounding love for all things in it. I certainly can relate to some of it but sometimes she was a bit over the top (in my opinion).

Much of this was good and entertaining and interesting but there were also parts that I didn't love.

I'll average this one out to 3.5 stars.

Sep 7, 1:31pm Top

Royal City Vol. 1: Next of Kin by Jeff Lemire

It's no secret that I love Jeff Lemire's work. This one is he first in a planned three volume series.

This story of the Pike family and the declining industrial town where they live is very much the kind of thing I expect from Lemire. All of the characters are damaged and in many ways unlikeable but Lemire manages to make you care about them and not only what will happen but at the same time what did happen. The youngest Pike child, Tommy died in 1993 but the details aren't revealed in this first volume.

Each family member interacts with a different Tommy. Either the one they knew best or the one they hoped he would have been had he lived.

The artwork is wonderful and the soft tones of the colors give the story a dreamlike feel.

This one is about family, loss, guilt, relationships, going home again, and facing things you'd rather not face. Thanks to Lemire's genius it manages to be a beautifully told story.

Edited: Sep 7, 3:17pm Top

Royal City Vol. 2: Sonic Youth by Jeff Lemire

This is volume 2 of a planned three volume story. Part 3 is due out in October. I'm predisposed to love Jeff Lemire's work so it's no surprise that I love this series too.

I really can't say much about the plot without giving away too much. I will say that while the first volume took place mostly in the present day this one is mostly a flashback to when the Pike kids were teenagers. It fills in some of the mystery about Tommy that was left untold in Volume 1. It also gives more insight into why everyone in the Pike family is carrying so much guilt about Tommy.

It's a tough story about broken people in a broken town but somehow Lemire makes it beautiful.

Sep 7, 2:46pm Top

I finished Drawing from Memory last night. Big thanks to Richard for recommending this short but lovely little book.

>126 Oregonreader: Hey there! Good to see you. I like the 'escape hatch' too.

>127 msf59: This week has been much better than last week which aside from the LT meetup was pretty obnoxious. Looking forward to a quiet weekend hanging out at home.

Yes you do need to get to Royal City 2 - the final volume is due out in October.

I'm enjoying Sackett's Land - I like the narrator. Thanks for putting it on my radar.

Sep 7, 5:32pm Top

Hi Juli - One of these days I hope to make it to a meetup in Portland and meet all of you. And of course, Powell's seems to be the siren song for 75'er's.

I enjoyed A Gentleman in Moscow, too, which my RL bookclub read last month. Someone brought up a book called The Girl From the Metropol Hotel written by Soviet writer Ludmilla Petrushevskaya who really did live there, although under very different circumstances. My son gave me a copy for my birthday, so I hope to read it this month.

Sep 7, 6:59pm Top

Happy Friday, Juli! I like that flurry of book reviews. I need to do that soon, before things begin to really back up on me.

I enjoyed your thoughts on Upstream: Selected Essays. I have had this one on my radar, since it came out. I am still slowly making my way through Devotions: Poems. If you want to own just one of Oliver's works, I suggest this one. Great overview.

Sep 8, 11:23am Top

Wow, Juli - What a lot of good stuff here.

I also loved The Gentleman in Moscow.

The Lemire books look really good as well.

>124 SuziQoregon: I love this!

I haven't read any Cash yet, but I do have one on my shelf. One of these days...
Have a great weekend, Juli.

Sep 8, 1:39pm Top

>124 SuziQoregon: LOVE it!!!!!

And I will have to keep my eye out for the LeMire series. Never heard of it before, but is sounds great.

Happy weekend. : )

Sep 8, 3:30pm Top

Hi Juli! I will also have to look for the LeMire series. I am in the mood for a GN.

Sep 10, 2:07pm Top

>133 streamsong: We're always up for meetups around here. Would love to see you!

>134 msf59: Thanks Mark. I've got another round to work on and hope to be caught up soon. Thanks for the tip about Devotions: Poems} I'll definitely take a look at it. I do love much of her poetry.

>135 BLBera: Thanks! I've got The Hubster listening to A Gentleman in Moscow now. I'm so glad he's enjoying it.

>136 Berly: Isn't that wonderful? Pretty much anything by Lemire is great. If you're looking some something that's more standalone than series I highly recommend The Underwater Welder.

>137 banjo123: See above but absolutely Royal City is excellent too.

Sep 10, 2:14pm Top

Had a good weekend - Saturday we mostly hung around home and watched a lot of football.

I did read The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang. It's just a charming and wonderful graphic novel about a teenage prince who likes to wear dresses and the seamstress who becomes his friend and secret keeper. I just loved it and plan to reread it before I take it back to the library.

Still listening to Sackett's Land and reading The Grapes of Wrath

Sep 12, 1:38pm Top

I finished a reread of Descender Book Four: Orbital Mechanics by Jeff Lemire mostly because it's been a while and I wanted to reread it before starting the next one. I just love this series. I did start Descender Book Five; Rise of the Robots last night. Book six is due out in a couple of weeks.

Sep 12, 1:47pm Top

A Night to Remember by Walter Lord narrated by Martin Jarvis

My older brother was semi-obsessed with the Titanic. I remember a mass market paperback edition of this book living our bookshelves the whole time I lived at home. I know I started it a couple of times when I was a kid but never got very far.

When I was planning books for the most recent Bout of Books week I started browsing for highly rated shorter audiobooks and this popped up so I checked it out from the library.

I'm so glad I did. I know why this is such a classic among books about the sinking. It really does focus on the events of that one night starting when the lookout first sighted the iceberg. Once the survivors are picked up by the Carpathia the next morning there is very little follow up on anything that happened afterwards.

Published in 1955 it was obviously written long before the wreck was found and the breakup of the ship confirmed. It was written, however, when Lord had access to survivors and he interviewed many of them.

The audio narrated by Martin Jarvis was extremely well done. I like his voice and narration already. There are many many names and people and I quickly gave up trying to keep track of all of them. Some are mentioned many times and others only once so I didn't let it bother me.

This was an excellent audiobook and I highly recommend it.

Lord wrote a follow up after the wreck was discovered and I plan to read it.

Sep 12, 1:51pm Top

Death of a Perfect Wife by M.C. Beaton narrated by Shaun Grindell

This series features a village police constable but is absolutely a cozy mystery series. They're short, entertaining and Hamish makes me laugh. I enjoy listening to these in between longer or heavier books.

This time around a newcomer to the sleepy Scottish village seems to be a breath of fresh air but soon becomes a source of irritation for many. There's no shortage of suspects when a murder is committed.

I like Hamish and the recurring characters in the village are fun too. Shaun Grindell does a wonderful job of narrating.

Sep 12, 1:56pm Top

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman narrated by the author

I love listening to Neil Gaiman narrate his own books. He's such a wonderful storyteller both verbally and in writing. I'd purchased a hardcover copy of this book when a friend was reading it and posting quotes. I ended up getting the audiobook from the library so The Hubster and I could listen to it on our Labor Day Weekend road trip.

I'm glad I have the print copy, though. I needed to reread the first section about the beginnings of the worlds because it was slightly hard to follow just listening to it. After that, however the book is a series of stories and very easy to follow by listening.

I had only a passing familiarity with the Norse myths and I learned a lot while being completely entertained by Neil Gaiman telling me stories. His retelling of the myths was wonderful road trip listening.

There was a lot of humor in this book:

“’Because,’ said Thor, ‘when something goes wrong, the first thing I always think is, it is Loki’s fault. It saves a lot of time.’”

“There were things Thor did when something went wrong. The first thing he did was ask himself if what had happened was Loki’s fault. Thor pondered. He did not believe that even Loki would have dared to steal his hammer. So he did the next thing he did when something went wrong, and he went to ask Loki for advice.”

“I am grim of mind and wrathful of spirit and I have no desire to be nice to anyone,”

There was also plenty of less funny things in this book too. There was lots of killing and Loki's punishment is a bit gross but that's the way the myth goes.

It was a good retelling of these myths and one I'd recommend. If you do the audio format pay close attention to the first couple of chapters or do what I did and reread that part in print.

Sep 12, 2:26pm Top

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

I first read this shortly after it was published and everyone seemed to be reading it. I was utterly charmed and loved it too. A few months ago I saw that a movie adaptation was coming to Netflix and decided I should read it again before watching the movie.

I was utterly charmed all over again. This is just a delightful book. Even though some of it is decidedly not delightful. The occupation of the Channel Islands during World War II was a hard time for the residents. It's not glossed over and there are some extremely sad parts to this story.

The people are what makes this so charming. It's told through a series of letters. The letters work wonderfully as a way to portray the various characters and get to know their personalities through what they've written (or chosen not to write about).

It's just a lovely story populated by lovely characters. If you haven't read it, you should. If you have read it, it's worth rereading.

Sep 12, 2:31pm Top

Drawing from Memory by Allen Say

Allen Say is an award winning children's book author and illustrator. This short little book (it's only 63 pages) tells much more of a story than its length would lead you to believe.

It's about his childhood before and after World War II in Japan. He knew he wanted to be a comic illustrator but his father did not want him to pursue a career as an artist. After his parents split up he lived with his grandmother who arranged for Allen to live on his own at the age of 12.

He became an apprentice to his favorite cartoonist after knocking on the man's door and introducing himself.

This book is a combination of narrative, graphic novel, and scrapbook with its text, drawings, and photos. It's extremely well done and interesting. While usually filed in the juvenile section of the library, it's a worthwhile read for adults too. I plan to pick up his follow up book The Inker's Shadow soon.

Edited: Sep 12, 4:50pm Top

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

I heard about this book from a friend's review and immediately requested it from the library. It's just a charming little graphic novel that manages to touch on topics of identity, loyalty, and friendship while reading like a fairy tale.

Set in what appears to be mid 1800's Paris the panels have a lush appearance and the clothing on the characters is spectacular. Frances (the dressmaker) and Sebastian (the prince) are teenagers. I read an interview with the author in which she said that originally the characters were older but that she decided to make them younger because "With the characters as teenagers everything is heightened. You’re discovering who you are, clashing with your parents and falling in love. It’s also more hopeful I think because you’re working with characters who have their whole lives ahead of them and they’re just learning how they can impact the world by being true to themselves. It’s that sense of hope and positivity and I hope younger readers to take away with them."

She also said that Sebastian should probably be described as genderqueer due to his being "comfortable alternating between both masculine and feminine."

I wish we knew more about Frances's family and background. This story appears to be about both of them but it's much more Sebastian's story in my opinion. That doesn't keep it from being a lovely story and I was rooting for Frances to achieve her desired success all the way through as much as I was rooting for Sebastian to be able to be comfortable in whatever gender role he determined was right.

I loved this and highly recommend it. I plan to read it again before returning it to the library.

Sep 12, 4:37pm Top

Great reading going on here, Juli. The graphic novel sounds great.

I also loved Potato Peel Pie Society -- have you seen the film? The book was better (of course), but the film was fine.

The Say book sounds lovely. I'll check to see if my library has it.

Sep 12, 10:42pm Top

You are churning out the reviews and it seems you really liked most of them!! I've read about half of them and would rate them very similarly. ; )

Sep 13, 5:05pm Top

>147 BLBera: No I haven't seen the movie. Hope to watch it soon.

>148 Berly: I've had a good stretch of books lately. Hope that continues.

Sep 13, 9:04pm Top

Sweet Thursday, Juli. Nice, flurry of books over here. You always have something interesting going. I also enjoyed the Gaiman and recently read Guernsey for the first time. I really enjoyed it and look forward to seeing the film.

I am currently loving The Princess Bride. Have you read this?

Sep 14, 11:38am Top

Finished reading Descender Vol. 5: The Rise of the Robots last night. I just love this series by Jeff Lemire.
I also finished listening to Sackett's Land. It's my first book by Louis L'Amour and I enjoyed the audio. Certainly not great literature but that's not what I look for in my driving around listening time. I enjoyed the adventure of it and plan to continue listening to the series.

This morning I started listening to Death of a Hussy by M.C. Beaton. I needed a short audio because I've pre-ordered the new Cormoran Strike Book (Lethal White) and don't want to be waiting to finish a longer audiobook before I can start that one next week.

Nothing much planned for this weekend. Tomorrow will be mostly watching football. Other than during the Oregon game that means I can half watch half read my way through the day.

Sep 14, 11:40am Top

>150 msf59: Happy Friday Mark! Yes I have read The Princess Bride I mostly loved it and had mixed to middling feelings about the framing story. Here's what I said in my blog post:

The parts I liked are the parts that are the story of The Princess Bride. I love that story even more. Reading it gave me a greater appreciation of how well Rob Reiner did with the movie. So much of it was perfectly translated to film. There are things that are different of course but it’s still a fun and lovely story. I liked learning more about Inigo and Fezzik’s backgrounds.

The parts I didn’t like as much was the frame that Goldman built around The Princess Bride. He tells a fictional tale about himself hearing the book read by his father and later finding a copy for his (fictional) son. He presents his book as an abridgement of this fictional book. It’s all rather convoluted and layered and it’s fun but at times a distraction.

As I said - I mostly loved and I hope you do too.

Sep 21, 11:19am Top

I think the framework of Princess Bride worked better as a movie.

Sep 21, 1:46pm Top

Hi there - Happy Friday
I finished listening to Death of a Hussy on Tuesday so I was able to start listening to Lethal White the day it was released. My plan to stick to short audios ahead of the new Cormoran Strike book worked out well.

I'm only a couple of hours into Lethal White but it's good already.

Still reading The Grapes of Wrath. I've realized that this is just going to be one of those books I read while also reading other books so it's going to take me a while. I'm liking it. I just don't feel like sitting down with it exclusively until I'm done with it.

My lunchtime reading plan today is to start the Murderbot series. I've heard good things and I'm looking forward to All Systems Red

Sep 21, 2:30pm Top

>153 The_Hibernator: I totally agree

Sep 21, 2:39pm Top

Sackett's Land by Louis L'Amour narrated by John Curless

I've never read anything by Louis L'Amour before but a friend talked about this book and I decided to give it a try. I didn't expect it to be great writing but hoped to be entertained and I was. This is the first book in his series about The Sackett family.

It actually takes place mostly in England but it's about Barnabas Sackett and his reasons for leaving England and venturing to the New World.

It includes most of the historical fiction and adventure story tropes you can think of all rolled into one book but darn it, I enjoyed listening to it and plan to continue with the series.

John Curless narrated this one and I enjoyed listening to him. He also does the next few books.

It was enjoyable driving around listening and I love a big long multigenerational family saga so I'll keep listening.

Sep 21, 2:40pm Top

Descender Vol. 5: Rise of the Robots by Jeff Lemire

This series from Jeff Lemire and artist Dustin Nguyen is wonderful. The story is complex and continuing to build and twist. The watercolor artwork is simply gorgeous.

It's book 5 so hard to talk about plot without giving away too much. It's a space opera featuring a robot boy in a universe where robots have been outlawed but this particular robot may hold the key to the survival on the entire universe.

It's a surprisingly emotional story based on the type of story it is but not surprising since it's from Jeff Lemire.

Start at the beginning with Volume one. You won't be sorry.

Sep 21, 2:41pm Top

Death of a Hussy by M.C. Beaton narrated by Shaun Grindell

I normally don't read multiple books in a series close together but I needed a short audio book for the new days before a new book I'd preordered was available. This series is always short and mostly entertaining so I queued it up.

This won't go down in history as one of my favorites in the Hamish Macbeth series. I think that's partly because so much of it focused on an utterly unlikeable character. There seemed to be less Hamish in this Hamish book.

M.C. Beaton writes some seriously awful female characters. This time around the new to town (and therefore likely victim and perpetrator in any cozy mystery series) people were completely unlikeable from the get go. The death didn't happen until nearly halfway through the book and by that time I was glad the victim was dead.

Anyway it was an OK listen. I do enjoy Shaun Grindell's narration. I just hope the next book has more Hamish in it. I did manage to guess the murderer this time.

Edited: Sep 24, 2:05pm Top

We were busy over the weekend so not much reading. I am enjoying All Systems Red though. Hope to finish that one up today.

Sep 24, 6:45pm Top

Hi, Juli. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on The Princess Bride up there. I hope to see the film soon. Glad you enjoyed Sackett's Land. I did too and will probably continue the saga.

I am way behind on the Descender series. NEED to catch up, along with the next Royal City Vol.

Sep 25, 10:02am Top

>160 msf59: Yes you do need to catch up with those.

Sep 25, 10:06am Top

Sep 26, 10:32am Top

>162 SuziQoregon: I think I read that one.

Sep 26, 12:21pm Top

>163 ffortsa: LOL :-)

I finished the first Murderbot novella last night. Loved it and I'm definitely looking forward to continuing with the series. First up though - back to Grapes of Wrath for a few chapters.

I'm listening to Lethal White and it's just as good as expected. I need to start a jigsaw puzzle when I get home this afternoon so I can get some audiobook time other than in the car.

Sep 27, 3:41am Top

Sweet Thursday, Juli.
I'm reading The Zig Zag Girl which I saw on your thread and I like it. I have the second one of this series ttoo.

Sep 27, 12:50pm Top

>165 Ameise1: I'm glad you're enjoying it. Looking forward to hearing what you think of the second one. I haven't read it.

Sep 27, 12:50pm Top

All Systems Red by Martha Wells

Several friends read and recommended this series of novellas so I decided to give the first one a try. I now have the next two out from the library and I'm on the wait list for the fourth one due out in October.

This was just fun.

It's narrated by a part organic, part android security unit who refers to itself as Murderbot. Assigned by "The Company" to a group of surveyors on a distant planet. Unknown to the humans SecUnit has hacked its own governor module and is only pretending to be fully under control. What it would really rather do is watch videos.

I was surprised how attached I got to Murderbot and when things go horribly wrong with the survey mission it does try to protect the humans as much as it can but it would be so much easier if they just didn't keep trying to look at and talk to it.

It's a fun little science fiction story with a strangely likeable main character and an interesting supporting cast. I'm looking forward to continuing with the series.

Edited: Sep 27, 4:58pm Top

>167 SuziQoregon: I have this on my Kindle, also swayed by my LT pals. I hope to bookhorn it in.

Sweet Thursday, Juli. Have you read The Gods of Gotham? If not, is the first of a terrific historical crime trilogy set in New York, in the 1830s. I just started the second and it is really good.

Sep 27, 6:09pm Top

>168 msf59: I read Gods of Gotham about three and a half years ago but haven't gotten around to reading the second yet. One of these days . . .

Sep 28, 12:09pm Top

Read a few more chapters of Grapes of Wrath. Going to start the second Murderbot book today.

Sep 29, 11:18pm Top

Wishing you a lovely weekend, Juli.

Sep 30, 12:22pm Top

>162 SuziQoregon: I think I've read that one, too, Juli.

All Systems Red sounds good. I'll check to see whether my library has a copy.

Oct 1, 12:10pm Top

>171 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul. We had a good weekend. Not much reading time though.

>172 BLBera: Hee hee. I'm enjoying the second Murderbot book now.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2018

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