Cindy/LibraryCin's 2019 Challenges

2019 Category Challenge

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Cindy/LibraryCin's 2019 Challenges

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Dec 29, 2018, 6:20pm

I am posting all my challenges for 2019.

Edited: Nov 16, 2019, 8:11pm

12x12 Challenge

1. Play Book Tag

1. Natural Causes / Barbara Ehrenreich. 3.5 stars
2. Love Story / Erich Segal. 3.5 stars
3. Sister Queens / Julia Fox. 3.5 stars
4. Blizzard of Glass / Sally M. Walker. 4 stars
5. North of Beautiful / Justina Chen. 3.5 stars
6. Fables, Vol. 20. Camelot / Bill Willingham. 3.75 stars
7. Dust and Shadow / Lyndsay Faye. 2.5 stars
8. Hold Tight / Harlan Coben. 4 stars
9. iGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids are Growing Up... / Jean M. Twenge. 3.5 stars
10. Intolerable / Kamal Al-Solaylee. 4 stars
11. Homes: A Refugee Story / Abu Bakr al Rabeeah. 4 stars
12. The Cuckoo's Calling / Robert Galbraith. 3.5 stars
13. The Persian Pickle Club / Sandra Dallas. 3.25 stars

Edited: Nov 28, 2019, 11:05pm

2. CAT Challenges
1. A Pug's Tale / Alison Pace. 3 stars
2. The Cat and Shakespeare / Raja Rao. 1.5 stars
3. When We Wake / Karen Healey. 3.75 stars
4. The Round House / Louise Erdrich. 3 stars
5. The Captive of Kensington Palace / Jean Plaidy. 3.75 stars
6. Dancing Lessons / Cheryl Burke. 3.25 stars
7. Nights of Rain and Stars / Maeve Binchy. 3.5 stars
8. The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll's House / Neil Gaiman. 3.5 stars
9. A Royal Pain / Rhys Bowen. 4 stars
10. The Julian Chapter / R.J. Palacio. 3.5 stars
11. Cannery Row / John Steinbeck. 3.25 stars
12. The Dead Girls Club / Damien Angelica Walters. 4 stars
13. The Magician's Lie / Greer Macallister. 4 stars
14. Bloodlands / Timothy Snyder. 3 stars
15. The Calculating Stars / Mary Robinette Kowal. 3.5 stars

Edited: Nov 17, 2019, 3:50pm

3. Reading Through Time
1. The Perfect Storm / Sebastian Junger. 3.5 stars
2. The French Lieutenant's Woman / John Fowles. 2.25 stars
3. New York / Edward Rutherfurd. 3.5 stars
4. By the Shores of Silver Lake / Laura Ingalls Wilder. 4 stars
5. Norse Mythology / Neil Gaiman. 3 stars
6. Inferno / Dan Brown. 4 stars
7. The Day the World Came to Town / Jim Defede. 4.25 stars
8. The Personal History of Rachel Dupree. 3.5 stars
9. The Garden of Ruth / Eva Etzioni-Halevy. 3.5 stars
10. All Clear / Connie Willis. 4 stars
11. Bury Me Standing / Isabel Fonseca. 3 stars
12. Tracks / Louise Erdrich. 2 stars
13. The Librarian of Auschwitz / Antonio Iturbe. 4 stars

Edited: Dec 30, 2019, 2:06am

4. Oh Canada! (Canadian Authors)
1. The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant / Joanna Wiebe. 4 stars
2. The Lonely Hearts Hotel / Heather O'Neill. 2.5 stars
3. Broken Promise / Linwood Barclay. 4 stars
4. At the Mountain's Edge / Genevieve Graham. 3.75 stars
5. The Illegal / Lawrence Hill. 3 stars
6. Circus: A Story from Circus / Claire Battershill. 3 stars
7. Locavore / Sarah Elton. 4 stars
8. Who Has Seen the Wind / W.O. Mitchell. 3 stars
9. A Geography of Blood / Candace Savage. 4 stars
10. Upstream / Sharon Butala. 3.5 stars
11. Vanishing Girl / Shane Peacock. 3 stars
12. The Right to be Cold / Sheila Watt-Cloutier. 3.5 stars
13. The Forgotten Home Child / Genevieve Graham. 4 stars

Edited: Dec 16, 2019, 11:38pm

5. Trim the TBR (On TBR 2+ years)
1. The Parasite / Ramsey Campbell. 3 stars
2. Lies of the Heart / Michelle Boyajian. 4 stars
3. Sweet Valley Confidential / Francine Pascal. 3 stars
4. Classified as Murder / Miranda James. 4 stars
5. A Taste for Monsters / Matthew J. Kirby. 3.5 stars
6. The Key to Midnight / Dean Koontz. 3.5 stars
7. Hungry / Crystal Renn. 4 stars
8. Page / Tamora Pierce. 3.75 stars
9. Red Hood's Revenge / Jim C. Hines. 3.25 stars
10. Goodnight Nobody / Jennifer Weiner. 4 stars
11. On the Island / Tracey Garvis Graves. 4 stars
12. Madam Millie / Max Evans. 3.5 stars
13. Hillbilly Elegy / JD Vance. 4 stars
14. Wolf by Wolf / Ryan Graudin. 3.75 stars

Edited: Dec 13, 2019, 10:50pm

6. Will it Ever End? (Continuing Series)
1. Neverwas / Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed, Larkin Reed. 3 stars
2. The Last Little Blue Envelope / Maureen Johnson. 4 stars
3. End of Watch / Stephen King. 3.5 stars
4. Undivided / Neal Shusterman. 4 stars
5. The Trespasser / Tana French. 4 stars
6. I Shall Wear Midnight / Terry Pratchett. 3.5 stars
7. Reached / Ally Condie. 3 stars
8. A Breath of Snow and Ashes / Diana Gabaldon. 3.5 stars
9. Blue Moon / Alyson Noel. 3.75 stars
10. Blackout / Connie Willis. 4.5 stars
11. Fables, Vol. 21. Happily Ever After / Bill Willingham. 3.5 stars
12. Born of Deception / Teri Brown. 4 stars
13. Black Rose / Nora Roberts. 3 stars

Edited: Dec 3, 2019, 9:59pm

7. Off the Shelf (Print or E- Books I Own)
1. The Alienist / Caleb Carr. 3 stars
2. The Queen's Lady / Barbara Kyle. 3 stars
3. The Pact / Carol Coffey. 3.75 stars
4. Lady of the Forest / Jennifer Roberson. 3 stars
5. The Wonder / Emma Donoghue. 3 stars
6. One Little Secret / Cate Holahan. 4 stars
7. The Sixteen Pleasures / Robert Hellenga. 3 stars
8. The Blue Castle / L.M. Montgomery. 4 stars
9. Change of Heart / Jodi Picoult. 4 stars
10. The Long Winter / Laura Ingalls Wilder. 4.5 stars
11. Every Note Played / Lisa Genova. 4 stars
12. Dinosaur Lake II: Dinosaurs Arising / Kathryn Meyer Griffith. 4 stars
13. The Chalk Man / C.J. Tudor. 4 stars
14. The 5th Wave / Rick Yancey. 4 stars
15. Small Great Things / Jodi Picoult. 4 stars

Edited: Dec 13, 2019, 10:33pm

8. Audio Books
1. The Book of Negroes / Lawrence Hill. 3.75 stars
2. Sleeping Beauties / Stephen King, Owen King. 3.5 stars
3. All the Light We Cannot See / Anthony Doerr. 2 stars
4. The Devil's Queen / Jeanne Kalogridis. 2 stars
5. Brian's Winter / Gary Paulsen. 3.5 stars
6. The Stars are Fire / Anita Shreve. 4 stars
7. Stardust / Neil Gaiman. 3 stars
8. The Night Sister / Jennifer McMahon. 3.5 stars
9. Silver Sparrow / Tayari Jones. 3.5 stars
10. The Last Olympian / Rick Riordan. 2.5 stars
11. Heidi / Johanna Spyri. 3.5 stars
12. Strawberry Shortcake Murder / Joanne Fluke. 3 stars
13. Appointment With Fear / Valentine Dyall. 3.75 stars
14. The Killer Next Door / Alex Marwood. 3.5 stars
15. Landline / Rainbow Rowell. 3 stars

Edited: Dec 30, 2019, 4:51pm

9. I'll Travel Virtually (Books Set in Other Countries - not Canada or USA)
1. Bad Wolf / Nele Neuhaus. 4 stars
2. The Hidden Bones / Nicola Ford. 3.5 stars
3. Becoming Marie Antoinette / Juliet Grey. 4 stars
4. The Children's War / Monique Charlesworth. 3 stars
5. Ghosts of Everest: The Search for Mallory & Irvine / Jochen Hemmleb, Larry A. Johnson, Eric R. Simonson. 4 stars
6. The Seven Sisters / Lucinda Riley. 3.5 stars
7. Reign of Madness / Lynn Cullen. 4 stars
8. Bel Canto / Ann Patchett. 3.5 stars
9. The Storm Sister / Lucinda Riley. 4 stars
10. West of the Moon / Margi Preus. 4 stars
11. Kim / Rudyard Kipling. 1.5 stars
12. The Perfect Nanny / Leila Slimani. 3.5 stars
13. The Shah / Abbas Milani. 2.5 stars
14. Iced In / Chris Turney. 4 stars
15. Hans Brinker, or, The Silver Skates / Mary Mapes Dodge. 3 stars

Edited: Nov 29, 2019, 11:36pm

10. Lions, Tigers and Bears, Oh My! (Animals)
1. Bird Watching for Dummies / Bill Thompson III. 4 stars
2. Child of the Wolves / Elizabeth Hall. 4 stars
3. Lost and Found / Elizabeth Hess. 4 stars
4. The Last Rhinos / Lawrence Anthony. 4 stars
5. The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly / Sun-Mi Hwang. 4 stars
6. Your Cat's Just Not That Into You / Richard Smith. 3 stars
7. Love Saves the Day / Gwen Cooper. 4 stars
8. The True Tails of Baker and Taylor / Jan Louch. 4 stars
9. Owls in the Family / Farley Mowat. 3.75 stars
10. What Pet Should I Get? / Dr. Seuss. 4 stars
11. The Accidental Veterinarian / Philipp Schott. 4 stars
12. Babylon's Ark / Lawrence Anthony. 4.25 stars
13. Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover’s Soul / Jack Canfield, et al. 3.5 stars

Edited: Dec 29, 2019, 1:41am

11. Truth is Stranger than Fiction (Nonfiction)
1. Something Fierce / Carmen Aguirre. 3.5 stars
2. 1888: London Murders in the Year of the Ripper / Peter Stubley. 3.5 stars
3. Humans: A Brief History of How We F*cked It All Up / Tom Phillips. 3.75 stars
4. Marriage: A History / Stephanie Coontz. 3.5 stars
5. To Sleep With the Angels / David Cowan, John Kuenster. 4.5 stars
6. Garbology / Edward Humes. 4 stars
7. An American Princess / Annejet van der Zijl. 2.5 stars
8. Curtains / Tom Jokinen. 4 stars
9. Packing for Mars / Mary Roach. 4 stars
10. The End of Night / Paul Bogard. 4 stars
11. A Mother's Reckoning / Sue Klebold. 4 stars
12. Rise of the Rocket Girls / Nathalia Holt. 3 stars
13. Dead by Sunset / Ann Rule. 4 stars
14. Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light / Patrick McGilligan. 3.5 stars

Edited: Dec 31, 2019, 5:10pm

12. KIT Challenges
1. Enchanting Lily / Anjali Banerjee. 3.5 stars
2. Delirium / Lauren Oliver. 4 stars
3. The End Games / T. Michael Martin. 3.5 stars
4. Inside the O'Briens / Lisa Genova. 4.5 stars
5. In a Dark, Dark Wood / Ruth Ware. 4.25 stars
6. The Valley of Amazement / Amy Tan. 4 stars
7. The Circle / Dave Eggers. 4 stars
8. Victoria Victorious / Jean Plaidy. 3.75 stars
9. A Town Like Alice / Nevil Shute. 3.5 stars
10. Into the Water / Paula Hawkins. 4 stars
11. What the Night Knows / Dean Koontz. 4.5 stars
12. Saga of the Swamp Thing, Book 1 / Alan Moore. 3 stars
13. Blaze / Richard Bachman. 3.75 stars
14. The Girls With No Names / Serena Burdick. 3.75 stars
15. FantasticLand / Mike Bockoven. 4 stars
16. Emily / Elle Klass. 3 stars
17. The Other Mrs / Mary Kubica. 4.5 stars

Edited: Oct 20, 2019, 11:44pm

13. Overflow
1. Sing, Unburied, Sing / Jesmyn Ward. 3 stars
2. Kindred / Octavia Butler. 5 stars
3. The Power / Naomi Alderman. 3 stars

Edited: Nov 4, 2019, 10:11pm


1. Book made into a movie. The French Lieutenant's Woman / John Fowles. 2.25 stars
2. Main title has 6 or more words in it. All the Light We Cannot See / Anthony Doerr. 2 stars
3. Title contains a homophone word (such as hair/hare, slay/sleigh, there/their/they’re). A Pug's Tale / Alison Pace. 3 stars
4. Weather (title contains a weather word, or book involves/centers around a weather event). The Perfect Storm / Sebastian Junger. 3.5 stars
5. Book has an LT rating of 4.0 or more. The Book of Negroes / Lawrence Hill. 3.75 stars
6. Book in translation. Bad Wolf / Nele Neuhaus. 4 stars
7. Prize-winning book. Sing, Unburied, Sing / Jesmyn Ward. 3 stars
8. Children’s/YA book, or reread a childhood favorite. Child of the Wolves / Elizabeth Hall. 4 stars
9. Graphic novel. Fables, Vol. 20. Camelot / Bill Willingham. 3.75 stars
10. Food-related title or topic. The Wonder / Emma Donoghue. 3 stars
11. Read a book bullet (meaning another LT member inspired you to read it). The Stars are Fire / Anita Shreve. 4 stars
12. Book mentioned in another book you have read. Ghosts of Everest / Jochen Hemmleb, L.A. Johnson, E.R. Simonson. 4 stars
13. Animal on cover/in title/plays a significant role. Bird Watching for Dummies / Bill Thompson III. 4 stars
14. Short stories or essays. Norse Mythology / Neil Gaiman. 3 stars
15. Debut novel. The Hidden Bones / Nicola Ford. 3.5 stars
16. Book about/featuring siblings. Sweet Valley Confidential / Francine Pascal. 3 stars
17. Book with an artistic character. The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant / Joanna Wiebe. 4 stars
18. Fairy tale (classic or reworked). The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly / Sun-Mi Hwang. 4 stars
19. Author uses middle name or middle initial. The End Games / T. Michael Martin. 3.5 stars
20. Cover has at least two human figures. At the Mountain's Edge / Genevieve Graham. 3.75 stars
21. Part of a series. Neverwas / Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed, Larkin Reed. 3 stars
22. Alliterative title. When We Wake / Karen Healey. 3.75 stars
23. Topic or character related to medicine/health. Delirium / Lauren Oliver. 4 stars
24. Eastern European author or setting. Bury Me Standing / Isabel Fonseca. 3 stars
25. Read a CAT. The Parasite / Ramsey Campbell. 3 stars

Edited: Dec 30, 2019, 4:52pm


January: Birds
- Bird Watching for Dummies / Bill Thompson III 4 stars

February: Love Your Pet Day
- A Pug's Tale / Alison Pace. 3 stars

March: World Wildlife Day, Canada Reads
- The Last Rhinos / Lawrence Anthony. 4 stars
- The Illegal / Lawrence Hill. 3 stars

April: Librarian's Day, National Pet Day
- Classified as Murder / Miranda James. 4 stars

May: Victoria Day, Mother's Day
- The Captive of Kensington Palace / Jean Plaidy. 3.75 stars
- The Valley of Amazement / Amy Tan. 4 stars

June: Hug Your Cat Day, Father's Day
- Love Saves the Day / Gwen Cooper. 4 stars
- The True Tails of Baker and Taylor / Jan Louch. 4 stars
- Nights of Rain and Stars / Maeve Binchy. 3.5 stars

July: Canada Day, Independence Day, International Joke Day
- Curtains / Tom Jokinen. 4 stars
- The Day the World Came to Town / Jim Defede. 4.25 stars
- A Breath of Snow and Ashes / Diana Gabaldon. 3.5 stars
- Who Has Seen the Wind / W.O. Mitchell. 3 stars
- Packing for Mars / Mary Roach. 4 stars
- The Blue Castle / L.M. Montgomery. 4 stars

August: World Indigenous People
- A Geography of Blood / Candace Savage. 4 stars

September: Comic Book Day, Piano Month/Classical Music Month
- Fables, Vol. 21. Happily Ever After / Bill Willingham. 3.5 stars
- Every Note Played / Lisa Genova. 4 stars

October: Halloween
- Saga of the Swamp Thing, Book 1 / Alan Moore. 3 stars
- The Dead Girls Club / Damien Angelica Walters. 4 stars
- Appointment With Fear / Valentine Dyall. 3.75 stars
- Dinosaur Lake II: Dinosaurs Arising / Kathryn Meyer Griffith. 4 stars

November: Native American Heritage Month, Remembrance Day
- Tracks / Louise Erdrich. 2 stars
- The Librarian of Auschwitz / Antonio Iturbe. 4 stars
- Bloodlands / Timothy Snyder. 3 stars

*December: Winter/Cold, Christmas
- The Right to be Cold / Sheila Watt-Cloutier. 3.5 stars
- Landline / Rainbow Rowell. 3 stars
- Iced In / Chris Turney. 4 stars
- Hans Brinker, or, The Silver Skates / Mary Mapes Dodge. 3 stars

Edited: Dec 25, 2019, 12:56am


January: Series in translation
- Bad Wolf / Nele Neuhaus. 4 stars

*February: YA/Children's
- Neverwas / Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed, Larkin Reed. 3 stars
- Delirium / Lauren Oliver. 4 stars
- The Last Little Blue Envelope / Maureen Johnson. 4 stars

March: Series by a favorite author
- End of Watch / Stephen King. 3.5 stars
- Broken Promise / Linwood Barclay. 4 stars

April: Series you've been meaning to get back to
- Classified as Murder / Miranda James. 4 stars
- By the Shores of Silver Lake / Laura Ingalls Wilder. 4 stars

May: Newest book in a favorite series
- The Trespasser / Tana French. 4 stars

June: Series that are definitely complete
- Fables, Vol. 20. Camelot / Bill Willingham. 3.75 stars
- I Shall Wear Midnight / Terry Pratchett. 3.5 stars
- Reached / Ally Condie. 3 stars

July: Genre: fantasy
- A Breath of Snow and Ashes / Diana Gabaldon. 3.5 stars
- The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll's House / Neil Gaiman. 3.5 stars
- Blue Moon / Alyson Noel. 3.75 stars
- Page / Tamora Pierce. 3.75 stars
- Red Hood's Revenge / Jim C. Hines. 3.25 stars

August: Series set in a country/region where you do not live
- A Royal Pain / Rhys Bowen. 4 stars
- Blackout / Connie Willis. 4.5 stars

September: Genre: Culinary Cozy Mystery
- Strawberry Shortcake Murder / Joanne Fluke. 3 stars

October: Historical series
- All Clear / Connie Willis. 4 stars
- Vanishing Girl / Shane Peacock. 3 stars
- Born of Deception / Teri Brown. 4 stars

November: Series with a female protagonist
- The 5th Wave / Rick Yancey. 4 stars
- The Calculating Stars / Mary Robinette Kowal. 3.5 stars

December: Series that's new to you
- Wolf by Wolf / Ryan Graudin. 3.75 stars
- Emily / Elle Klass. 3 stars

Edited: Dec 24, 2019, 11:53pm


January: First in, last out
- The Parasite / Ramsey Campbell. 3 stars

February: A book you borrowed to read and still haven't got to
- The Hidden Bones / Nicola Ford. 3.5 stars
- The Cat and Shakespeare / Raja Rao. 1.5 stars

March: Book acquired on/for trips or for a special occasion
- When We Wake / Karen Healey. 3.75 stars

April: Book originally acquired for an LT group read or challenge
- To Sleep With the Angels / David Cowan, John Kuenster. 4.5 stars

*May: Book that I keep looking at, but never manage to open
- The Key to Midnight / Dean Koontz. 3.5 stars
- Your Cat's Just Not That Into You / Richard Smith. 3 stars

June: Book bullet
- The Stars are Fire / Anita Shreve. 4 stars

July: Book by an author with more than one book on your TBR shelf
- The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll's House / Neil Gaiman. 3.5 stars
- Owls in the Family / Farley Mowat. 3.75 stars
- Packing for Mars / Mary Roach. 4 stars
- Change of Heart / Jodi Picoult. 4 stars

August: Book purchased with great excitement and with plans to read right away that is somehow still on my tbr
- What Pet Should I Get? / Dr. Seuss. 4 stars
- Into the Water / Paula Hawkins. 4 stars

September: Classics I feel I should read
- Kim / Rudyard Kipling. 1.5 stars
- Cannery Row / John Steinbeck. 3.25 stars

October: Book purchased because of its visual appeal
- Madam Millie / Max Evans. 3.5 stars
- The Magician's Lie / Greer Macallister. 4 stars

November: Book given to me as a gift
- Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover’s Soul / Jack Canfield, et al. 3.5 stars

December: A book I bought because it was so cheap
- Small Great Things / Jodi Picoult. 4 stars
- Iced In / Chris Turney. 4 stars
- FantasticLand / Mike Bockoven. 4 stars

Edited: Dec 25, 2019, 12:56am


January: Your Name in Print
- The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant / Joanna Wiebe. 4 stars

February: We Need a Break! (Travel)
- The Last Little Blue Envelope / Maureen Johnson. 4 stars

March: Brexit Madness
- 1888: London Murders in the Year of the Ripper / Peter Stubley. 3.5 stars

April: Tournament of Books
- The Round House / Louise Erdrich. 3 stars

May: I Could Have Danced All Night
- Dancing Lessons / Cheryl Burke. 3.25 stars

June: Random card/deck of cards: 6 of spades
- Locavore / Sarah Elton. 4 stars

July: All About Birds
- Owls in the Family / Farley Mowat. 3.75 stars

August: School Days
- Silver Sparrow / Tayari Jones. 3.5 stars
- The Julian Chapter / R.J. Palacio. 3.5 stars
- The Long Winter / Laura Ingalls Wilder. 4.5 stars
- Heidi / Johanna Spyri. 3.5 stars

September: Equinox
- The End of Night / Paul Bogard. 4 stars

October: Knock off, Tribute, Parody...
- Vanishing Girl / Shane Peacock. 3 stars

November: Childhood Memories
- Hillbilly Elegy / JD Vance. 4 stars

December: Season's Readings (Title starts with a letter in DECEMBER)
- The Right To be Cold / Sheila Watt-Cloutier. 3.5 stars
- Black Rose / Nora Roberts. 3 stars
- Emily / Elle Klass. 3 stars

Edited: Dec 25, 2019, 12:57am


Year-Long: X, Z
- An American Princess / Annejet van der Zijl. 2.5 stars

January: Q, A
- Enchanting Lily / Anjali Banerjee. 3.5 stars
- The Alienist / Caleb Carr. 3 stars
- The Queen's Lady / Barbara Kyle. 3 stars

February: K, O
- Neverwas / Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed, Larkin Reed. 3 stars
- Sleeping Beauties / Stephen King, Owen King. 3.5 stars
- Delirium / Lauren Oliver. 4 stars

March: U, L
- Love Story / Erich Segal. 3.5 stars
- Broken Promise / Linwood Barclay. 4 stars
- Undivided / Neal Shusterman. 4 stars
- Lost and Found / Elizabeth Hess. 4 stars
- The Last Rhinos / Lawrence Anthony. 4 stars
- Inside the O'Briens / Lisa O'Brien. 4.5 stars
- The Illegal / Lawrence Hill. 3 stars

April: B, M
- Classified as Murder / Miranda James. 4 stars
- Blizzard of Glass / Sally M. Walker. 4 stars
- By the Shores of Silver Lake / Laura Ingalls Wilder. 4 stars

May: H, V
- Garbology / Edward Humes. 4 stars
- The Valley of Amazement / Amy Tan. 4 stars

June: J, D
- Inferno / Dan Brown. 4 stars
- The Circle / Dave Eggers. 4 stars
- The True Tails of Baker and Taylor / Jan Louch. 4 stars
- Victoria Victorious / Jean Plaidy. 3.75 stars

July: C, P
- Curtains / Tom Jokinen. 4 stars
- Page / Tamora Pierce. 3.75 stars
- Packing for Mars / Mary Roach. 4 stars
- Change of Heart / Jodi Picoult. 4 stars

August: N, I
- The Night Sister / Jennifer McMahon. 3.5 stars
- A Town Like Alice / Nevil Shute. 3.5 stars
- Into the Water / Paula Hawkins. 4 stars
- The Long Winter / Laura Ingalls Wilder. 4.5 stars

September: F, W
- What the Night Knows / Dean Koontz. 4.5 stars
- The Personal History of Rachel Dupree / Ann Weisgarber. 3.5 stars
- Fables, Vol. 21. Happily Ever After / Bill Willingham. 3.5 stars

October: G, T
- The Cuckoo's Calling / Robert Galbraith. 3.5 stars
- Born of Deception / Teri Brown. 4 stars
- Dinosaur Lake II: Dinosaurs Arising / Kathryn Meyer Griffith. 4 stars
- The Magician's Lie / Greer Macallister. 4 stars

November: S, Y
- The Persian Pickle Club / Sandra Dallas. 3.25 stars
- Blaze / Richard Bachman (Stephen King). 3.75 stars
- Bloodlands / Timothy Snyder. 3 stars
- The 5th Wave / Rick Yancey. 4 stars
- The Girls With No Names / Serena Burdick. 3.75 stars

December: E, R
- The Right to be Cold / Sheila Watt-Cloutier. 3.5 stars
- Landline / Rainbow Rowell. 3 stars
- Black Rose / Nora Roberts. 3 stars
- Wolf by Wolf / Ryan Graudin. 3.75 stars
- Emily / Elle Klass. 3 stars

Edited: Dec 31, 2019, 5:11pm


January: NPR’s Great Lists
- The Alienist / Caleb Carr. 3 stars

February: The Corporeal Undead
- The End Games / T. Michael Martin. 3.5 stars

*March: True Crime
- 1888: London Murders in the Year of the Ripper / Peter Stubley. 3.5 stars

April: Chills and Thrills with Modern Horror/Thrillers (2014 - 2019)
- In a Dark, Dark Wood / Ruth Ware. 4.25 stars

May: Children's Horror (or Horrific Children)
- A Taste for Monsters / Matthew J. Kirby. 3.5 stars

June: Technothrillers
- The Circle / Dave Eggers. 4 stars

July: Vacation Month (read horror/thriller of your choice)
- The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll's House / Neil Gaiman. 3.5 stars

August: Gothic
- The Night Sister / Jennifer McMahon. 3.5 stars

September: Ghosts & Hauntings
- What the Night Knows / Dean Koontz. 4.5 stars

October: Monsters & Creatures
- Saga of the Swamp Thing, Book 1 / Alan Moore. 3 stars

November: Stephen King and Family
- Blaze / Richard Bachman (Stephen King). 3.75 stars

December: Small Press/Indie (or catch up on a previous category)
- FantasticLand / Mike Bockoven. 4 stars
- The Other Mrs / Mary Kubica. 4.5 stars

Edited: Dec 29, 2019, 1:42am

(Classic) Trim the TBR /Roundtuits

1. The Woman Who Can't Forget / Jill Price
2. Split Estate / Charlotte Bacon
4. Lime Tree Can’t Bear Orange / Amanda Smyth
5. Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding… / Gail Steketee
7. Stay / Allie Larkin
8. The Price of Everything / Eduardo Porter
9. Dead to You / Lisa McMann
10. An Available Man / Hilma Wolitzer
15. The Sometimes Daughter / Sherri Wood Emmons

1. The Parasite / Ramsey Campbell. 3 stars
2. Lies of the Heart / Michelle Boyajian. 4 stars
3. Child of the Wolves / Elizabeth Hall. 4 stars
4. Enchanting Lily / Anjali Banerjee. 3.5 stars
5. The Queen's Lady / Barbara Kyle. 3 stars
6. Something Fierce / Carmen Aguirre. 3.5 stars
7. Sweet Valley Confidential / Francine Pascal. 3 stars
8. Neverwas / Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed, Larkin Reed. 3 stars
9. A Pug's Tale / Alison Pace. 3 stars
10. Delirium / Lauren Oliver. 4 stars
11. The End Games / T. Michael Martin. 3.5 stars
12. The Last Little Blue Envelope / Maureen Johnson. 4 stars
13. Becoming Marie Antoinette / Juliet Grey. 4 stars
14. The French Lieutenant's Woman / John Fowles. 2.25 stars
15. Love Story / Erich Segal. 3.5 stars
16. Broken Promise / Linwood Barclay. 4 stars
17. 1888: London Murders in the Year of the Ripper / Peter Stubley. 3.5 stars
18. Lost and Found / Elizabeth Hess. 4 stars
19. The Illegal / Lawrence Hill. 3 stars
20. The Children's War / Monique Charlesworth. 3 stars
21. Marriage: A History / Stephanie Coontz. 3.5 stars
22. Sister Queens / Julia Fox. 3.5 stars
23. Classified as Murder / Miranda James. 4 stars
24. The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly / Sun-Mi Hwang. 4 stars
25. Blizzard of Glass / Sally M. Walker. 4 stars
26. The Devil's Queen / Jeanne Kalogridis. 2 stars
27. By the Shores of Silver Lake / Laura Ingalls Wilder. 4 stars
28. Lady of the Forest / Jennifer Roberson. 3 stars
29. The Wonder / Emma Donoghue. 3 stars
30. A Taste for Monsters / Matthew J. Kirby. 3.5 stars
31. The Captive of Kensington Palace / Jean Plaidy. 3.75 stars
32. North of Beautiful / Justina Chen. 3.5 stars
33. Norse Mythology / Neil Gaiman. 3 stars
34. The Key to Midnight / Dean Koontz. 3.5 stars
35. Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash / Edward Humes. 4 stars
36. Your Cat's Just Not That Into You / Richard Smith. 3 stars
37. The Stars are Fire / Anita Shreve. 4 stars
38. Love Saves the Day / Gwen Cooper. 4 stars
39. Stardust / Neil Gaiman. 3 stars
40. Fables, Vol. 20. Camelot / Bill Willingham. 3.75 stars
41. I Shall Wear Midnight / Terry Pratchett. 3.5 stars
42. Hungry / Crystal Renn. 4 stars
43. Victoria Victorious / Jean Plaidy. 3.75 stars
44. Locavore / Sarah Elton. 4 stars
45. Curtains / Tom Jokinen. 4 stars
46. The Day the World Came to Town / Jim Defede. 4.25 stars
47. Owls in the Family / Farley Mowat. 3.75 stars
48. Page / Tamora Pierce. 3.75 stars
49. The Sixteen Pleasures / Robert Hellenga. 3 stars
50. The Blue Castle / L.M. Montgomery. 4 stars
51. Dust and Shadow / Lyndsay Faye. 2.5 stars
52. Red Hood's Revenge / Jim C. Hines. 3.25 stars
53. A Geography of Blood / Candace Savage. 4 stars
54. Silver Sparrow / Tayari Jones. 3.5 stars
55. The Last Olympian / Rick Riordan. 2.5 stars
56. The Julian Chapter / R.J. Palacio. 3.5 stars
57. Goodnight Nobody / Jennifer Weiner. 4 stars
58. Upstream / Sharon Butala. 3.5 stars
59. Intolerable / Kamal Al-Solaylee. 4 stars
60. The End of Night / Paul Bogard. 4 stars
61. The Personal History of Rachel Dupree / Ann Weisgarber. 3.5 stars
62. A Mother's Reckoning / Sue Klebold. 4 stars
63. Cannery Row / John Steinbeck. 3.25 stars
64. Vanishing Girl / Shane Peacock. 3 stars
65. Saga of the Swamp Thing, Book 1 / Alan Moore. 3 stars
66. On the Island / Tracey Garvis Graves. 4 stars
67. Born of Deception / Teri Brown. 4 stars
68. Madam Millie / Max Evans. 3.5 stars
69. Dinosaur Lake II: Dinsaurs Arising / Kathryn Meyer Griffith. 4 stars
70. Bury Me Standing / Isabel Fonseca. 3 stars
71. Tracks / Louise Erdrich. 2 stars
72. Hillbilly Elegy / JD Vance. 4 stars
73. The Persian Pickle Club / Sandra Dallas. 3.25 stars
74. Blaze / Richard Bachman. 3.75 stars
75. Bloodlands / Timothy Snyder. 3 stars
76. Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover’s Soul / Jack Canfield, et al. 3.5 stars
77. The Right to be Cold / Sheila Watt-Cloutier. 3.5 stars
78. Black Rose / Nora Roberts. 3 stars
79. The Shah / Abbas Milani. 2.5 stars
80. Wolf by Wolf / Ryan Graudin. 3.75 stars
81. Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light / Patrick McGilligan. 3.5 stars

Edited: Dec 22, 2019, 4:56pm

PBT Trim the TBR

1. Mew is for Murder / Clea Simon
2. Iced In / Chris Turney. 4 stars
3. Upstream / Sharon Butala. 3.5 stars

4. The Tattooed Witch / Susan Macgregor
5. The Silver Linings Playbook / Matthew Quick
6. Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters / Jane Austen, Ben H. Winters
7. Beth / Nora Kay
8. The Book of Joy / Dalai Lama
9. Kitty Cornered / Bob Tarte
10. Herbert Has Lots for a Buck / Elizabeth McLachlan
11. Never Too Late / Jo Barney

12. Lady of the Forest / Jennifer Roberson. 3 stars
13. Old Sparky / Anthony Galvin
14. Once Every Never / Lesley Livingston
15. No Will But His / Sarah Hoyt

16. Goodnight Nobody / Jennifer Weiner
17. Sweet Valley Confidential / Francine Pascal. 3 stars

18. The Dreams of Ada / Robert Meyer
19. The Parasite / Ramsey Campbell. 3 stars
20. Daughter of Time / Sarah Woodbury
21. Deep Freeze / Lisa Jackson
22. Susanna’s Garden / Debbie Macomber

23. The Sixteen Pleasures / Robert Hellenga. 3 stars
24. The Key to Midnight / Dean Koontz. 3.5 stars

25. The Power of Meow / David Michie
26. Such a Pretty Face / Cathy Lamb
27. Missing / Frances Itani

28. The Persian Pickle Club / Sandra Dallas. 3.25 stars
29. After Visiting Friends / Michael Hainey
30. Circus / Claire Battershill. 3 stars
31. Powder Burn / Carl Hiaasen
32. Madame Millie / Max Evans. 3.5 stars
33. Beyond Belief / Jenna Miscavige Hill
34. Lost and Found / Elizabeth Hess
35. The Horseman’s Graves / Jacqueline Baker
36. Honolulu / Alan Brennert

Edited: Dec 30, 2019, 4:52pm

Expanding our PBT Horizons

January: Iraq
February: Portugal
March: South Korea
April: Italy

May: Brazil
- The Seven Sisters / Lucinda Riley. 3.5 stars
June: Greece
- Nights of Rain and Stars / Maeve Binchy. 3.5 stars
July: Syria
- Homes: A Refugee Story / Abu Bakr al Rabeeah. 4 stars
- A Town Like Alice / Nevil Shute. 3.5 stars
September: Egypt
- Intolerable / Kamal Al-Solaylee. 4 stars
October: Spain
November: Native American
- Tracks / Louise Erdrich. 2 stars
December: Dominican Republic

1. India: The Cat and Shakespeare / Raja Rao. 1.5 stars
2. Brazil: The Seven Sisters / Lucinda Riley. 3.5 stars
3. Greece: Nights of Rain and Stars / Maeve Binchy. 3.5 stars
4. Australia: A Town Like Alice / Nevil Shute. 3.5 stars
5. Yemen/Egypt: Intolerable / Kamal Al Solaylee. 4 stars
6. Syria/Iraq: Homes: A Refugee Story / Abu Bakr al Rabeeah. 4 stars
7. Romani (Gypsies): Bury Me Standing / Isabel Fonseca. 3 stars
8. Native American: Tracks / Louise Erdrich. 2 stars
9. Inuit: The Right to be Cold / Sheila Watt-Cloutier. 3.5 stars
10. The Netherlands: Hans Brinker, or, The Silver Skates / Mary Mapes Dodge. 3 stars

Edited: Dec 30, 2019, 2:07am

Travel Across Canada

Alberta: (8 books between 2014 - 2018)
British Columbia: (9 books between 2014 - 2018)
Labrador: (1 books between 2014 - 2018)
Manitoba: (2 books between 2014 - 2018)
- Curtains / Tom Jokinen. 4 stars
- The Accidental Veterinarian / Philipp Schott. 4 stars
New Brunswick: (0 books between 2014 - 2018)
Newfoundland: (6 books between 2014 - 2018)
- The Day the World Came to Town / Jim Defede. 4.25 stars
Northwest Territories: (1 books between 2014 - 2018)
- Brian's Winter / Gary Paulsen. 3.5 stars
Nova Scotia: (1 books between 2014 - 2018)
- Blizzard of Glass / Sally M. Walker. 4 stars
Nunavut: (2 books between 2014 - 2018)
Ontario: (10 books between 2014 - 2018)
- The Blue Castle / L.M. Montgomery. 4 stars
- Intolerable / Kamal Al-Solaylee. 4 stars
- The Forgotten Home Child / Genevieve Graham. 4 stars
Prince Edward Island: (2 books between 2014 - 2018)
Quebec: (5 books between 2014 - 2018)
- The Lonely Hearts Hotel / Heather O'Neill. 2.5 stars
Saskatchewan: (7 books between 2014 - 2018)
- Who Has Seen the Wind / W.O. Mitchell. 3 stars
- Owls in the Family / Farley Mowat. 3.75 stars
- A Geography of Blood / Candace Savage. 4 stars
- Upstream / Sharon Butala. 3.5 stars
Yukon: (0 books between 2014 - 2018)
- At the Mountain's Edge / Genevieve Graham. 3.75 stars
Northern Canada
- The Right to be Cold / Sheila Watt-Cloutier. 3.5 stars

Edited: Dec 16, 2019, 12:01am

Passport Challenge

January: England
- The Parasite / Ramsey Campbell. 3 stars

February: Morocco
- The Children's War / Monique Charlesworth. 3 stars

March: Puerto Rico
April: Nepal/Tibet
- Ghosts of Everest: The Search for Mallory & Irvine / Jochen Hemmleb, Larry A. Johnson, Eric R. Simonson. 4 stars

May: Spain
- Reign of Madness / Lynn Cullen. 4 stars

June: Aruba/The Netherlands
- An American Princess / Annejet van der Zijl. 2.5 stars (Dutch author)

July: Guatemala
August: Norway
- West of the Moon / Margi Preus. 4 stars

September: Bahrain (Or island)
- On the Island / Tracey Garvis Graves. 4 stars

October: Afghanistan (or Middle East)
- Babylon's Ark / Lawrence Anthony. 4 stars

November: New Zealand
December: Iran
- The Shah / Abbas Milani. 2.5 stars

Edited: Dec 13, 2019, 10:51pm

Play Book Tag

January: Action-Adventure
- The Perfect Storm / Sebastian Junger. 3.5 stars
- Child of the Wolves / Elizabeth Hall. 4 stars

February: Life
- Natural Causes / Barbara Ehrenreich. 3.5 stars

March: Debut
- Love Story / Erich Segal. 3.5 stars

April: History
- Marriage: A History / Stephanie Coontz. 3.5 stars
- Sister Queens / Julia Fox. 3.5 stars
- Blizzard of Glass / Sally M. Walker. 4 stars
- By the Shores of Silver Lake / Laura Ingalls Wilder. 4 stars
- Ghosts of Everest: The Search for Mallory & Irvine / Jochen Hemmleb, Larry A. Johnson, Eric R. Simonson. 4 stars
- To Sleep With the Angels / David Cowan, John Kuenster. 4.5 stars

May: Beautiful
- North of Beautiful / Justina Chen. 3.5 stars

June: Retellings
- Fables, Vol. 20. Camelot / Bill Willingham. 3.75 stars

July: London
- Dust and Shadow / Lyndsay Faye. 2.5 stars

August: 21st century
- Hold Tight / Harlan Coben. 4 stars
- iGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids are Growing Up... / Jean M. Twenge. 3.5 stars

September: Cultural
- Upstream / Sharon Butala. 3.5 stars
- Intolerable / Kamal Al-Solaylee. 4 stars
- Homes: A Refugee Story / Abu Bakr al Rabeeah. 4 stars

October: Crime Fiction
- Vanishing Girl / Shane Peacock. 3 stars
- The Cuckoo's Calling / Robert Galbraith. 3.5 stars

November: American History
- Tracks / Louise Erdrich. 2 stars
- The Persian Pickle Club / Sandra Dallas. 3.25 stars

December: 2005
- Black Rose / Nora Roberts. 3 stars

Edited: Dec 22, 2019, 4:57pm

Reading Through Time

*January: I Will Survive!
- The Book of Negroes / Lawrence Hill. 3.75 stars
- The Perfect Storm / Sebastian Junger. 3.5 stars

February: Be My Valentine
- The French Lieutenant's Woman / John Fowles. 2.25 stars
- Marriage: A History / Stephanie Coontz 3.5 stars

March: Downtown
- 1888: London Murders in the Year of the Ripper / Peter Stubley. 3.5 stars
- New York / Edward Rutherfurd. 3.5 stars

April: The Wonderful Emptiness (The Great Central Plains of America)
- By the Shores of Silver Lake / Laura Ingalls Wilder. 4 stars

May: Myths
- Norse Mythology / Neil Gaiman. 3 stars

June: Cryptography & Code Breaking
- Inferno / Dan Brown. 4 stars

July: Travel
- The Day the World Came to Town / Jim Defede. 4.25 stars
- Packing for Mars / Mary Roach. 4 stars

August: Philosophy and Religion
- The Garden of Ruth / Eva Etzioni-Halevy. 3.5 stars

September: Women Pioneers
- The Personal History of Rachel Dupree / Ann Weisgarber. 3.5 stars

October: Loss
- All Clear / Connie Willis. 4 stars

November: Marginalized People
- Bury Me Standing / Isabel Fonseca. 3 stars
- Tracks / Louise Erdrich. 2 stars
- The Librarian of Auschwitz / Antonio Iturbe. 4 stars

December: Let's Go Retro
- Iced In / Chris Turney. 4 star (Discovery and Exploration, Cold, Survival)

Dec 29, 2018, 7:54pm

Looks like lots of reaading! I'll be following along.

>22 LibraryCin: Love book 5 in your 'trim the TBR' list here! Obviously, it doesn't apply to books! That's not hoarding, that's just collecting! :)

Dec 29, 2018, 8:25pm

Looks like you're all set for 2019! Have fun with your armchair travelling :)

Dec 29, 2018, 8:48pm

Good to see you all set up and ready to go. I'm especially interested in your trip across Canada.

Dec 29, 2018, 9:23pm

Welcome back and it looks like you are ready to jump into your 2019 reading!

Dec 29, 2018, 9:36pm

Good luck with your reading in 2019!

Dec 30, 2018, 1:35am

>29 JayneCM: LOL on the #5 Trim the TBR! Of course... :-)

Dec 30, 2018, 1:36am

>31 RidgewayGirl: I've been working on the Canadian one for a few years and I don't really have a "goal" for it or anything, but I just like to keep track. As you can see there are still a couple that I haven't read any in the years I've been keeping track!

Edited: Dec 30, 2018, 1:38am

For the TBR challenges (not the CAT), the classic one is just a list of books that have been on my tbr for years! I want to pick out some and highlight them to motivate me to try to get to them! I will often check there for AlphaKIT picks for each month.

ETA: The PBT TBR one is for a group at GR. It's a specific one where a random number is chosen each month and we are to read that number on our lists. Everyone chose their own list. Again, I tried to choose mostly books that I own that I've had for a long time, but I never seem to pick up.

Dec 31, 2018, 6:46am

Good luck with your choices, and happy New Year!

Dec 31, 2018, 11:58am

Dec 31, 2018, 2:50pm

Dec 31, 2018, 6:37pm

Wishing you and yours a happy and joyous 2019, filled with peace, love, and great books.

Jan 1, 2019, 3:25pm

>37 The_Hibernator: >38 thornton37814: >39 Tess_W: >40 Dejah_Thoris: Thank you so much! Happy New Year to you, too!

Jan 1, 2019, 4:34pm

Happy New Year, LibraryCin! Looking forward to watching you winnow down your shelves with all of these great reading challenges.

Jan 1, 2019, 7:00pm

Happy New Year, Cindy! I look forward to following along with your reading in 2019!

Jan 2, 2019, 9:39am

Happy new year! May you stay healthy and read plenty of great books.

Jan 2, 2019, 9:15pm

>42 threadnsong: >43 VivienneR: >44 sushicat: Happy New Year to you all! Thank you!

Jan 3, 2019, 10:12am

Happy reading!

Jan 5, 2019, 5:27pm

Looks to be a fun year filled with challenges and good reading!

Jan 6, 2019, 12:17am

>47 DeltaQueen50: Thank you! Finally finished my first book of the year this evening, so will have to go through the challenges to see which it fits (potentially in addition to the challenge I chose it for, CalendarCAT).

Jan 6, 2019, 1:04am

12x12 Animals, CalendarCAT, BingoDOG

Bird Watching for Dummies / Bill Thompson III
4 stars

Another one of the “For Dummies” books, this one focuses on bird watching. It not only goes through ways to help you learn how to ID birds (what to watch for, listen for, etc.), but also ways to make your yard more bird-friendly (feeders, shelter, water… also gardening – what types of trees, shrubs, flowers, etc), keeping lists, sketching, what to look for in binoculars, field guides, and more.

I always enjoy these books – there is usually some humour thrown in, though this one had maybe less than some of the others I’ve read. This one was published in 1997, though, so a bit outdated, as he mentions organizations with their mailing addresses, rather than a website, for instance; there was one chapter that included Internet and email resources, but CD-ROMs are also mentioned. Other than that, though, I thought there was a lot of good information here. Oh, I’ve seen comments about the colour photos, but my edition didn’t have that (maybe that was just in the 1st edition?).

Edited: Jan 7, 2019, 12:20am

12x12 Trim the TBR, TBRCAT, Classic Trim the TBR, PBT Trim the TBR, Passport Challenge, BingoDOG

The Parasite / Ramsey Campbell
3 stars

When Rose is a child, she is taken to a séance where something happens, but she can’t remember it. As an adult, suddenly there are odd things happening to her. She is scared and doesn’t understand what’s going on, until a friend, Diana, tries to help her understand that Rose seems to be able to leave her body and float around. Rose doesn’t believe it at first, but things soon change.

It was ok. A bit odd at times, but I thought the end (probably the last quarter of the book) was much better than the rest of it, as it sped up as things really came to a head.

Jan 11, 2019, 10:59pm

12x12 Oh Canada, RandomCAT, BingoDOG

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant / Joanna Wiebe
4 stars

Anne is being sent to a private school across the country from her California home, on an island in New England. It’s a school with mostly rich kids, so Anne isn’t sure how her dad managed to pull some strings to get her in. However he managed it, she’s hoping for a fresh start with other kids who don’t know her. But, when she arrives, there is something very odd about this school… She is heartened to find someone she knew from California is also there, though, and he seems to be the only person interested in being friends.

I really enjoyed this! Yeah, many of the characters were unlikeable, but they’re teenagers. That didn’t bother me. I was interested and curious to find out what the heck was going on at this school! There were a few surprises along the way, though at least one of them I guessed very shortly before it was revealed, anyway. Unfortunately, it’s one of those books that ended on a cliffhanger. I’m not a big fan of that, but I was hoping, as I read, that it would be the first in a series, and it looks like it’s a trilogy. I will definitely pick up the next book.

Jan 14, 2019, 11:21pm

12x12 Audio, Reading Through Time, BingoDOG

The Book of Negroes / Lawrence Hill.
3.75 stars (3rd read; overall - all 3 reads, 4 stars)

**********POSSIBLE SPOILERS***********
In the mid-1700s, Aminata is only 11-years old when her parents are murdered and she is kidnapped from her village in Africa. She is forced to walk for months to the ocean where she boards a ship to cross. She arrives in South Carolina, where she is sold to an indigo plantation owner and works there until she is then sold to another man and his wife, where she helps keep their home. After a number of years, "Meena" escapes to New York, and after a time, she finds herself in "The Book of Negroes" - a real list of Negroes who want to escape New York and the rebels for Nova Scotia as British Loyalists. All her life, she has really just wanted to go home, back to her village in Africa.
*********END SPOILERS***********

This was very very good, there was so much detail, and it seemed so realistic. The Book of Negroes was a real list - something I had never heard of - and it was interesting (and sad) to read how the mostly former slaves were treated when they arrived in Canada. I waffled for a long time between giving the book 4 or 4.5 stars; unfortunately I lowered it to 4 stars because I was disappointed in the ending, which took away from the book's realism for me.

Reread, 2 years later:
I still really enjoyed this book on a reread. I did remember some parts of the book before I even started rereading it, and a lot of the rest of the book came back to me as I read. My rating remains the same as the first time around.

3rd read, just over 5 years after the last time:
3.75 stars
This is my 3rd time reading this one, and I think rereading is just not for me. I rated it 4 stars the first two times, and 3.5 this time around, but I listened to the audio this time and would give an extra ¼ star for the narrator, so 3.75 this time. Good story; still find the ending unbelievable. I really don’t think I should reread it again, though – not without a long long time in between, at least.

Jan 14, 2019, 11:49pm

12x12 Trim the TBR, Trim the TBR (Classic)

Lies of the Heart / Michelle Boyajian
4 stars

Katie’s husband, Nick, was murdered by Jerry, a man with an intellectual disability… a man that Nick worked with and they both loved like a son. But, Jerry is now on trial, and as the trial goes on, we also go back in time to learn what happened.

I quite liked this. No, Katie may not be terribly likeable, and she certainly made plenty of decisions I didn’t agree with, but it’s a compelling story, I thought. Sure felt bad for Jerry. It was easy to be torn on this. There was a small thing at the end I still didn’t quite understand, but still thought the book as a whole was really good.

Jan 18, 2019, 4:26am

>52 LibraryCin: Well, if it was worth you reading it 3 times, and getting an average of 4 stars, I think it's worth one read for me!

Edited: Jan 18, 2019, 10:19pm

>54 LisaMorr: Yes! I think it probably is! (And many people rated it higher than 4 stars!)

FYI, if you are in the US (you are - I just checked), the title of the book there is "Someone Knows My Name".

Jan 19, 2019, 12:05am

12x12 Reading Through Time, Reading Through Time, PBT, BingoDOG

The Perfect Storm / Sebastian Junger
3.5 stars

In 1991, a storm hit the Atlantic Ocean off the Eastern coast of the US and Canada. There were fishing boats out there: one of them, the “Andrea Gail”, disappeared and others had people aboard who needed to be rescued. In addition, the book includes information about fishing and the fishing industry, and the history of both. It also includes some information about weather and storms.

It was good, but there was a lot of detail that I just ended up skimming over. The author talked to families and loved ones of the missing fishermen, and to some of the rescuers and survivors, as well as others who had a link to the people caught in the storm. There were a lot of people to keep track of, and I was unsuccessful at much of that, often forgetting who was who unless there was a reminder. There is no way to know what happened aboard the Andrea Gail, so that is kept to speculation about what most fishermen were likely to do in similar circumstances. Some of the fishing techniques upset me (trawling), and I’m sure things have gotten worse since 1991 (and 1997 when the book was published), but that also wasn’t news, sadly. Probably the most interesting parts of the book, for me, were the descriptions of the various rescues.

Jan 19, 2019, 12:27am

12x12 Animals, PBT, BingoDOG, Trim the TBR

Child of the Wolves / Elizabeth Hall
4 stars

Granite is a Siberian husky, born in Alaska. When he is about to be sold, he runs away into the wilderness where he comes across a wolf, Snowdrift – a mom who has recently lost all her puppies to humans who have stolen them away. Snowdrift takes on Granite, though the other wolves in the pack mostly don’t like him much. As Granite grows, he learns more and more about how to fit in with the pack.

This is told from Granite’s point of view and I really enjoyed it. There is an author’s note at the start that talks about animal intelligence and emotions and she obviously wanted to show that in this book. It did take some time for Granite to learn how to behave as a wolf, as it didn’t come naturally to the dog. I really liked this children’s story.

Jan 19, 2019, 10:52am

>55 LibraryCin: Thanks for the confirmation - when I clicked on it to add it to my wishlist, that's the title that came up.

Jan 19, 2019, 3:57pm

>58 LisaMorr: No problem! The author is Canadian and the title here is "The Book of Negroes", so that's what I go by.

Jan 21, 2019, 5:10pm

I finally found you! Your lists are fabulous. You have a lot going on. Really good organization of your topics too. I like lists. . .

Jan 21, 2019, 9:32pm

>60 LadyoftheLodge: Thank you! They were actually lists I made over on shelfari and decided I wanted to recreate them here when shelfari shut down. I don't add to them often, nor have I added any new lists for a long time.

Jan 21, 2019, 10:36pm

12x12 Travel, SeriesCAT, BingoDOG

Bad Wolf / Nele Neuhaus
4 stars

When a dead girl is found floating in a river, detective Pia ends up on a case with far-reaching consequences. And multiple cases that match up, including a popular tv celebrity who has taken on a new topic for her sometimes-controversial show, but it’s not a topic she is sharing with anyone until she gets everything lined up. Unfortunately for her, someone knows what she’s looking into and she is in danger, as well.

Another really good book in this series. I do wish all the books were translated into English and it would have been nice to read them in order. But, that’s not the case. They are pretty much standalones, with the police the connecting thread between the books, including their personal lives. Previous cases are mentioned, but really just in passing. The book is divided into days and there are snippets from different characters’ points of view during each day, so there are a lot of characters to follow, which can get a bit confusing, but overall, it wasn’t too bad for following and the story was certainly enough for me to really enjoy it.

Jan 21, 2019, 11:05pm

12x12 KIT Challenges, AlphaKIT, Trim the TBR

Enchanting Lily / Anjali Banerjee
3.5 stars

When Lily’s husband dies, Lily drives away from the big city in California and finds herself on a small island on the Pacific Coast. She falls in love with a cottage that she buys and decides to turn into a business: she sells vintage clothing. A white cat happens by and makes herself at home with Lily and Lily decides to keep her as a shop cat while she tries to make a go of her new business.

This was good. Simple and quick to read, but enjoyable. No surprise that I loved the cat! Chapters alternated between Lily’s point of view and the cat’s. I have to comment on the well-chosen cover with a cat that actually matches the description of the cat in the book, right down to the two different-coloured eyes: green and blue.

Jan 26, 2019, 4:53pm

12x12 Oh Canada, Travel Across Canada

The Lonely Hearts Hotel / Heather O'Neill
2.5 stars

Rose and Pierrot grew up at the same orphanage in Montreal, where they performed for rich people to raise money, once Pierrot’s piano-playing talent and Rose’s dancing talent was discovered. While at the orphanage, despite abuse at the hands of the nuns, they fall in love. As they grow older, however, they are separated and spend their lives trying to dig their way out of poverty and pining for each other.

Not a fan. I listened to the audio and the narrator was good, but it wasn’t enough. I thought, at the start, I was going to like it, but it didn’t turn out that way. I didn’t like any of the characters, and I didn’t care about what happened to them (except when they were young and still at the orphanage). Disappointing, especially since I really liked “Lullabies for Little Criminals” by this author.

Jan 27, 2019, 12:24am

>64 LibraryCin: - Good review and good to know. Like you, I really liked her debut novel but haven't gotten around to reading any of her other works (too many books, too little time).

Jan 27, 2019, 1:05am

>65 lkernagh: I actually haven't looked in to any of her others. Now, I'm hesitant, anyway!

Jan 27, 2019, 8:18pm

>55 LibraryCin: Oh that book! Yes, I read Someone Knows My Name a while back. Definitely worth reading.

Jan 29, 2019, 9:24pm

12x12 Off the Shelf, ScaredyKIT, AlphaKIT

The Alienist / Caleb Carr
3 stars

It’s the late 19th century. A psychologist (aka “alienist”), a reporter, a secretary for the police (who wants to be an officer herself), and two detectives interested in pursuing new methods of solving crimes work together to find a serial killer – someone who’s been murdering young boy prostitutes. The psychologist is interested in profiling, something that’s not really been done before.

Overall, I’m rating this ok. It was slow moving, though it picked up somewhat in the last third to quarter of the book. There were times I found it a bit hard to follow, as sometimes a character’s first name, and sometimes their last name was used. I didn’t like the end, but I did enjoy reading about the beginning of profiling and “new” techniques of solving crimes – things like fingerprinting, photographing the imprint of last seen image on the victim’s eye, etc.

Jan 29, 2019, 9:46pm

12x12 Off the Shelf, AlphaKIT, Trim the TBR (Classic)

The Queen's Lady / Barbara Kyle
3 stars

Honor is taken in, as a ward, by Sir Thomas More during Henry VIII’s reign in the 16th century. At this time, Henry is trying to find a way to get rid of his first wife Catherine, so he can marry Anne Boleyn. When Honor is old enough, she goes to Catherine and serves her. But, she gets caught up in the religious conflicts going on at the time, and things become dangerous.

It was ok, but I just lost interest at times (this was not an audio!). Some of it held my interest, but there were too many dry patches for my liking. The historical note at the end was nice. Obviously, Honor was fictional, as were her close friends, etc.

Feb 1, 2019, 10:30pm

12x12 Off the Shelf

The Pact / Carol Coffey
3.75 stars

When there is an attempted murder (a hanging) of a “slow” boy (well, actually 21-years old) in a Mennonite community, a police officer from outside the community, Locklear, is brought in to help solve it. He has to work with Carter, a local police officer, who knows the people and might be able to bring some insight, though Locklear would prefer to be working on his own. The case seems to have something to do with a family feud that has gone back as far as the Civil War, 150 years previous.

It was good, though not edge-of-your-seat, through most of it, and I thought it picked up in the last 1/3 or so. With some Mennonite heritage in my family, I was interested in the setting. I’m not sure I completely “bought” Locklear’s character, though. He mostly seemed to be a tough guy with a soft side, but I’m not sure it quite worked for me; I think the soft seemed a bit too soft. Overall, though, I quite enjoyed the story.

Feb 3, 2019, 1:59am

12x12 Nonfiction, Trim the TBR

Something Fierce / Carmen Aguirre
3.5 stars

Carmen was raised in Canada, where her parents had arrived as refugees after being exiled from their native Chile because they were revolutionaries. When Carmen was 11, she, her mother, her stepfather, and her sister all moved to Bolivia (beside Chile) so they could help with the revolution from there. The book follows Carmen’s life as she grows up to help in the revolution herself, until it comes to an end in 1989 when she’s in her early 20s.

It was shorter and there wasn’t as much politics in it as I was expecting (which, for me, was a good thing!). There was still some; of course, more when Carmen was older. I was surprised that her parents brought Carmen and her sister with them, as it was very dangerous, though Carmen seemed quite happy to be there, so close to her grandparents, as she and her sister were able to travel across the border to visit (though her mother and stepfather were unable to). Certainly, when Carmen was younger, there is not as much mention of the danger, as Carmen herself was not thinking about it at the time.

Feb 3, 2019, 3:13pm

12x12 Trim the TBR, Trim the TBR (Classic), PBT Trim the TBR, BingoDOG

Sweet Valley Confidential / Francine Pascal
3 stars

Beautiful blonde twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are now 27 years old. Something has happened so that Elizabeth is furious with Jessica, and she will not speak to her sister. Elizabeth is now living in New York and working as a writer for a small newspaper, whereas Jess is still in Sweet Valley.

I know the book has had a lot of negative reviews, but I’m still rating it “ok”. It’s been 30+ years since I read about these characters (and even then, I only read some of the original series, Sweet Valley High – I was a bit older and had lost interest by the time the Sweet Valley Twins came out when they were younger and I’m not even sure when Sweet Valley University came out!), and I enjoyed reading about them again and seeing what had happened (even if there was a lot of crap that had happened). I still remembered the majority of the characters.

The story jumps between Elizabeth and Jessica and back and forth in time. This book, I thought was not far off from a lot of chick lit – very soap opera-like. I didn’t like some of the outcomes of the characters I read so much of when I was younger, but I didn’t think the story was really so terrible (again, in comparison to other chick lit). Though some of the characters really didn’t seem to have grown up much, I still found it somewhat entertaining, and it was a fast read.

Feb 4, 2019, 5:39pm

>72 LibraryCin: - Oh man did I love those books when I was a teenager. Some of them have stuck with me after all these years. I'd be almost afraid to read this one as I'm not sure I want to know what happens to them. Then again it sure would be fun to take a trip down memory lane...

Feb 4, 2019, 7:46pm

>73 LittleTaiko: I loved them, too, but I will warn you that the majority of people did NOT like this one! I suspect it's because they didn't like how the characters had changed.

Feb 4, 2019, 7:52pm

That cracks me up! You are the first adult I have met who reads Sweet Valley books, or at least admits to it. Thanks for making me feel okay with reading books like this. (I actually read some research studies when I was in grad school, about teaching people to read, and this series was used to teach some Asian women to read books in English. They apparently liked the stories too.)

Feb 5, 2019, 4:17pm

>75 LadyoftheLodge: Nice! Well, I haven't read the rest of the books for over 30 years! But, I really did want to read this one when I heard it was coming out!

Feb 5, 2019, 11:31pm

12x12 Series, AlphaKIT, SeriesCAT, BingoDOG, Trim the TBR (Classic)

Neverwas / Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed, Larkin Reed
3 stars

This is the 2nd book in a trilogy. Sarah has moved from Oregon to Maryland with her family to take over her grandmother’s old house (from book 1). It’s been too long since I read book 1 to remember what led to the current “situation”, and I don’t want to give too much away, but Sarah seems to be seeing things. Her best friend since childhood (and a neighbour), Jackson, also sees things, but different things.

Ok, I was confused through parts of it, and kind of lost interest a bit (mostly in the things Sarah was “seeing”, but not as much in her “here and now”), and I’m sure the losing interest helped with the confusion. Ultimately, I decided on an “ok” rating, simply because I’m still interested enough to find out what happens in the last book. This one isn’t nearly as good as the first book, though.

Feb 8, 2019, 11:34pm

12x12 CAT Challenges, CalendarCAT, Trim the TBR (Classic), BingoDOG

A Pug's Tale / Alison Pace
3 stars

Hope works at the Metropolitan Museum with the artwork. She regularly brings her pet pug to work. On a day when there is a pug-themed party for a prominent donor – a donor who loves pugs, herself – a valuable painting is stolen and a fake left in its place. Hope discovers it and lets her boss know. One other employee, who was in charge of the night’s party, also discovers it. Between them, they decide not to go to the police, but to hire a private investigator to see if they can figure out what happened themselves.

The book was ok. Hope’s pug, Max, was cute. I did find pretty much all of Hope’s social interactions a bit awkward, especially with the donor, as they became “friends”. I just didn’t see the friendship. Overall, just an ok read.

Feb 8, 2019, 11:47pm

12x12 Audio, AlphaKIT

Sleeping Beauties / Stephen King, Owen King
3.5 stars

Women all around the world are going to sleep and not waking up. Not only that, once they are asleep, they are then shrouded in some kind of cocoon. The book primarily follows the people in a town called Dooling, a town that also houses a women’s prison. Included in that prison is a woman, who gave her name as Evie, who appeared right around the time women were falling asleep and not waking up. Evie was arrested just after a house blew up and two men were murdered.

I listened to the audio, which I think made things a bit trickier for me to follow. Like most of Stephen King’s book, there was a very large cast of characters and we jumped around between different character’s perspectives, so it was very easy for me to lose track of who was who, and there were some I never did remember right up to the end of the book. Overall, though, it was a good story, and I enjoyed the little addition at the end of the audio book, that included an interview with both Stephen and Owen.

Feb 11, 2019, 10:20pm

12x12 Travel, TBRCAT, BingoDOG

The Hidden Bones / Nicola Ford
3.5 stars

Claire has just lost her husband and is invited by a university friend to come help on an archaeological dig. Claire is an archaeologist and welcomes the chance to get away and try to forget things for a while. They are taking over a site that was excavated in the early 70s, but nothing was written about it; the archaeologist in charge (and the man who owns the land) has just passed away. Initially, Claire and David find that an artifact has gone missing. It’s not long after that that they discover that there also seems to have been a murder somewhere along the way!

It was good, but a bit slow to get started. I guess the author was trying to get all the background information in before bringing in the mystery. I enjoyed the characters and, as this is meant to be the first in a series featuring Claire, I’m interested in continuing.

Feb 16, 2019, 4:19pm

12x12 KIT Challenges, AlphaKIT, SeriesCAT, BingoDOG, Trim the TBR (Classic)

Delirium / Lauren Oliver
4 stars

Lena’s mom and dad died when she was young, so Lena was raised by her aunt. Lena’s 18th birthday is coming up soon, and it will be such a relief to be able to have the surgery done – the cure! – to prevent the sickness “amor deliria nervosa” (aka love). Everyone gets the cure on their 18th birthday. She’ll be matched with someone to marry and her life will be perfect. But, before her birthday (and the surgery) arrives, she meets Alex…

I really liked this. It seems an odd premise, but I went with it, and quite enjoyed it. I liked Lena’s best friend, Hana, and her young cousin(?), Grace, although a bit more interaction with Grace might have been nice. Maybe one of the upcoming books in the series will have more about her? I will definitely be continuing.

Feb 18, 2019, 3:21pm

12x12 PBT, PBT

Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer / Barbara Ehrenreich
3.5 stars

The author has a PhD in cellular immunology. In this book she looks at ways humans try to prolong their lives, and whether or not they are or can be effective.

This was interesting, though a few chapters that went a little bit deeper into the biology (chapters that talked more about cells) kind of “lost” me just a little bit. I still got the gist of those chapters, though. There was also a couple of chapters that were a little heavier on philosophy that wasn’t quite as interesting for me (the cells were of more interest). But, most of the other chapters (including on exercise, meditation, medical industry) were good. Thinking back, I probably will remember some of the information on cells when it comes to cancer (do those cells help fight disease, or are they helping the cancer spread!?).

Feb 23, 2019, 12:14am

12x12 KIT Challenges, ScaredyKIT, BingoDOG, Trim the TBR

The End Games / T. Michael Martin
3.5 stars

Michael and his little brother, 5-year old Patrick, are playing a “game” where they are fighting the “Bellows”. Michael is only hoping he can get himself and Patrick safely to their mother, and he’s hoping she’s safe, too! Really, Michael IS trying to get to the “Safe Zone” he heard about on the radio, but it’s tough.

At the start of the book, I really wasn’t sure if it was a game or not, but once I realized that it wasn’t, it got more interesting. There were certainly some suspenseful moments and I was kept wanting to read. I do think zombies aren’t my favourite thing to read about. Though there were 4-star portions of the book, the majority of it was 3.5 stars for me (good). For some reason, I thought it was the start of a series, and I was all ready and willing to continue the series, but it seems that it is a stand-alone, after all!

Feb 23, 2019, 12:28am

12x12 Audio, BingoDOG

All the Light We Cannot See / Anthony Doerr
2 stars

Marie Laure is blinded when she is little. Werner is a good German boy who gets himself into the Hitler Youth. Marie Laure ends up in Paris after her father is arrested.

To be honest, I’m not quite sure exactly what else happened. Or, not enough to really summarize, anyway, though there were bits and pieces I caught. I listened to the audio and knew I was in trouble as soon as I heard the male voice; I tend to lose focus much more quickly and more often with male narrators, and this was no exception. Sorry to everyone who loved it, but I’m not a fan – at least not of the audio, anyway.

Feb 23, 2019, 1:08am

12x12 Series, RandomCAT, SeriesCAT, Trim the TBR (Classic)

The Last Little Blue Envelope / Maureen Johnson
4 stars

This is a continuation of “13 Little Blue Envelopes”. Potential spoilers for the first book: Ginny didn’t get to finish her aunt’s “treasure hunt” when her backpack with the envelopes was stolen in Greece. She had one envelope left.. Back at home in the US, Ginny hears from someone who has that last envelope, and he’s in London. Ginny decides to travel back to London to get her hands on that last envelope and keep going. While in London, she looks up the boy she’d been dating, Keith. Ginny, Keith, and two others set off to follow the instructions on the last envelope that brings them to a few different European countries.

I really enjoyed this one. It appears I read the first book 6 years ago!! I found it interesting that I commented in that review that I wasn’t a fan of Keith; still not in this book, either. However, I did like the new guy, Oliver, who was the one who found Ginny’s envelopes. Also enjoyed “travelling” around Europe with Ginny and her friends; I particularly enjoyed the B&B in… I think it was Belgium (cats!).

Feb 23, 2019, 1:25am

12x12 CAT Challenges, TBRCAT, PBT Horizons

The Cat and Shakespeare / Raja Rao
1.5 stars

What the *bleep* was that!!!? Is there such a thing as “philosophical fiction”? That may have been this. I don’t think there was any kind of plot. From what I could gather there as a man with a wife and a mistress (one, I’m not sure which, was “woman”… not “a woman”, just “woman”). He has a daughter (“child”, not “a child”, just “child”). He works. A boy child got sick, a cat appeared somewhere along the way, a boss died, the mistress was pregnant (and I think had a baby). I think. The book gets the extra half star for what I think I actually followed in the book (since I was surprised that I managed to follow anything – at least I think I did!). Sorry if any of what I mentioned as a spoiler – my apologies if I’ve ruined the book for anyone!

Feb 24, 2019, 9:59pm

>84 LibraryCin: I think I'm glad I read it if the audio is that bad!

Feb 24, 2019, 10:40pm

>84 LibraryCin: Wow, sorry the audio was bad. I read it and gave it 5 stars; probably one of the best I read in 2017!

Feb 24, 2019, 11:09pm

I've had a couple other people on GR also tell me they disliked the audio, though one person said she really liked it. So, on average, it seems more people didn't like the audio than did (at least of the very few people who commented!)

Feb 25, 2019, 3:20pm

>84 LibraryCin: You're not alone -- I also didn't love All the Light We Cannot See. I didn't like the constant jumping between different points of view, and I wanted more plot. I do see the merits of the book, but it just wasn't for me.

Feb 26, 2019, 10:04pm

12x12 Travel, Trim the TBR (Classic)

Becoming Marie Antoinette / Juliet Grey
4 stars

Marie Antoinette was born and grew up in Austria. When she was 10(ish) years old, it was determined that she would wed Louis Auguste of France, Louis XV’s grandson and heir to the French throne. However, Antonia (as she was called then) had a few hoops to jump through before the deal was sealed. When they did marry, Antonia was sent to France where she had to learn a new culture and at the same time be charming and have people love her, as she was to be the future queen. She continued to be pressured and influenced by her mother (from a distance).

This is the first in a trilogy, so we only get as far into Marie Antoinette’s life as Louis XV dying and she and her husband succeeding to the throne when they are 18-years old. I have read a biography of her, but it was a few years ago, so I don’t recall a lot of what I read then. I did like how she was portrayed in this novel, and I appreciated the author’s note at the end, which explains that the majority of people and events in the book did happen. I am really looking forward to reading the next book.

Mar 1, 2019, 10:37pm

12x12 Reading Through Time, Reading Through Time, BingoDOG, Trim the TBR (Classic)

The French Lieutenant's Woman / John Fowles
2.25 stars

In the 1860s in Lyme Regis, England, we have a love triangle. Ernestina is in love with Charles, but Charles falls for some mysterious woman, Sarah (apparently the “French Lieutenant’s Woman” of the title… though in my skimming I never did “get” that).

Started off badly, just based on the cover – very creepy, in my opinion – a woman’s eyes and top half of her face are whited-out and there are branches growing from her head. Wtf is that!? Anyway, when the first bit appeared to be a lot of description, I almost immediately lost interest. When I lose interest, I skim. I don’t put books aside, as I hope they will get better, but I know that because I’m skimming, it’s hard to notice if it improves. I do try to slow myself down every so often to see if it helps. And I did find, with this one, with about ¼ of the book left, I got more interested (that’s the extra .25 stars) – most of the time. There were odd parts where the actual narrator, who was set in the 1960s commented for a chapter or so. Oh, I did enjoy the couple of mentions of Mary Anning, finder of fossils in Lyme Regis during the time the novel is set. “The Collector” was so much better; however given this book, I don’t know that I’ll read more by this author.

Mar 2, 2019, 7:48am

>92 LibraryCin: I feel as you do, Cindy. However, it was about 30 years ago that I also skimmed this book so maybe it's time to try a read through again? Probably not, but it's a thought!

Mar 2, 2019, 6:11pm

>93 Tess_W: LOL! Good for you for considering! Although, I know for me, I probably wouldn't if I just remember not liking it, anyway. :-) But then, I don't reread much anyway, so those that I do are much more likely to be ones I liked enough to bother to reread!

Mar 3, 2019, 5:49pm

12x12 Series, SeriesCAT

End of Watch / Stephen King
3.5 stars

This is the third in the “Mr. Mercedes” trilogy. Possible spoilers for the first book: Brady Hartzfield (Mr. Mercedes) has been in the hospital, pretty much brain-dead. Retired Det. Hodges visits him and thinks there is more going on in Brady’s head than Brady is letting on. And he’s right! Meanwhile, people (many, teenagers) are committing suicide, but it turns out many of them have been playing a game on an older, now-defunct tablet. What is going on?

Holly and Jerome also return in this 3rd book in the series. Holly still grates on me some (I reread my other reviews, and in the first book Holly did “grow on me”), but at other times, I found her amusing. I listened to the audio, and it’s possible it’s the way the narrator “plays” Holly that, at least plays a part in my irritation with her. Apparently, I didn’t like this one quite as much as the first two (each rated 4 stars), but overall it was still good. And, I think, a good conclusion to the series.

Mar 3, 2019, 11:32pm

12x12 Oveflow

Sing, Unburied, Sing / Jesmyn Ward
3 stars

Jojo is 13-years old and lives with his mom, grandparents, and little sister, Kayla. His father, Michael, is in jail. When Michael is let out of jail, Jojo’s mom, Leonie, takes the kids (and her best friend, who also has a boyfriend in the same jail) to go pick him up. Leonie and Michael are an interracial couple and his parents didn’t approve, so they aren’t quite sure where they’ll go. Leonie isn’t a very good mom.

The story is told, mostly between Jojo’s and Leonie’s points of view. There is a 3rd POV, Richie, who I didn’t include in the summary. I could have done without Richie and his story altogether, really. Could have done without the ghosts and magical realism, in general. I didn’t like Leonie or Michael, but I did like Jojo and Kayla, and Pop, their grandfather. There was some back and forth in time, especially at the start of the book. Overall, I’m giving this 3 stars, ok. I did like the dysfunctional family storyline, and would have preferred the book stick to that part of the story.

Mar 3, 2019, 11:56pm

12x12 PBT, PBT, AlphaKIT, Trim the TBR (Classic)

Love Story / Erich Segal
3.5 stars

Oliver is a hockey player at an ivy league college. Jenny works in the library. Oliver is rich; Jenny is not. Yet, they still fall in love. However, we know from the first sentence that Jenny will die young.

This was surprisingly short! I thought I’d seen the movie years ago, but now I’m not sure; it’s possible I only saw bits and pieces. I think it would have been nice if things hadn’t moved so quickly in the story, if the reader had more time to get to know Oliver and Jenny. I thought the end would devastate me, even knowing how it ended, but it didn’t. It was still a good story, overall, but I guess I just expected a bit more.

Mar 4, 2019, 10:39pm

>97 LibraryCin: I recall reading this years and years ago, when I was a teen. I don't think I ever got around to watching the movie, probably because I was worried I'd cry my way through it. Maybe the reaction will be different now that I'm older. :)

Mar 5, 2019, 9:31pm

>98 mathgirl40: I wonder if I would have had a different reaction if I'd read it when younger. Someone over on GR also mentioned that.

Mar 8, 2019, 11:30pm

12x12 Oh Canada, SeriesCAT, AlphaKIT, Trim the TBR (Classic)

Broken Promise / Linwood Barclay
4 stars

David left his job as a reporter in Boston to come home to Promise Falls with his son. He took a job with the local paper, only to lose it on his first day when the paper shuts down. When he goes to visit his cousin, Marla, he finds her with a baby… that’s not hers! A number of months back, Marla had lost a baby and later tried to take another one from the hospital – this was hushed up by her mother. Marla tells David that an “angel” dropped off the baby to her. He finds some info that gives him a clue to where the baby might belong and manages to convince Marla to go with him and they bring the baby. When they arrive, they find the mother murdered on the floor in the house!

I really enjoyed this. There were a couple of other storylines, as well, but the others weren’t wrapped up by the end. I did know this was a series, so I expect those will be finished up in further books. Barclay’s books are told from different points of view, but we are told at the start of each chapter whose POV we are following (or most chapters, anyway). As usual, there are twists in the book.

Mar 11, 2019, 10:59pm

12x12 Series, AlphaKIT

Undivided / Neal Shusterman
4 stars

This is the 4th book in the Unwind “dystology” (I was also going to say final book, but it looks like there are some short stories added on in an additional book). Cam, Lev, and Risa (and others) are all continuing to fight to stop unwinding; different people have different ideas about how to best fight it.

I really liked this last book in the series. There is a nice little intro to explain who some of the major players and companies are, and it includes general terminology, as well. Because I go so long in between reading books in a series, I also looked back at my summaries from the other books, which was helpful. I did have trouble remembering characters in the 3rd book, but I was able to catch on quicker and remember much better in this one. I still like the way the little “advertisements” are done in this series. I thought this one was quite exciting, though there were some tough happenings. Really good ending.

Edited: Mar 15, 2019, 11:33pm

12x12 Nonfiction, Reading Through Time, RandomCAT, ScaredyKIT, Trim the TBR (Classic)

1888: London Murders in the Year of the Ripper / Peter Stubley
3.5 stars

1888 in London had more murders than the women Jack the Ripper killed. This book looks at many more of them, though some are manslaughter, and some of the possible/potential murderers are acquitted. . They include bar fights, domestic abuse, infants and newborns, prostitutes, hit and runs (horse and carriage), and more. Of course, the chapter that includes prostitutes does also talk a bit about the Ripper murders.

It was good and interesting as I read it, but fitting so many murders into one book, the descriptions of them have to be fairly short, so it felt a bit like short stories to me. And to me, that means I probably won’t remember much of it in the not-too-distant future. Enjoyable at the time, but maybe not memorable later on. There was some history of London, especially near the start of the book, to help describe the conditions, so that was interesting, too.

Mar 17, 2019, 4:42pm

12x12 CAT Challenges, TBRCAT, BingoDOG

When We Wake / Karen Healey
3.75 stars

In 2027, when Tegan dies, she is only 16-years old. And when she awakes, it’s one hundred years later! Tegan just wants to try to live a normal life (or as normal as possible, considering she has to adapt to a new culture, and she is mourning the loss of everyone she knew), but of course, they want to study her, as she is the first to wake up in this study. Reporters also want to get their hands on her.

I really liked this; however, there was one thing that was quite unrealistic, I thought, very soon after Tegan woke up. The storyline moved forward in time quite quickly, but then, YA books often do. There is some discussion of social and political issues, and the most obvious change is the climate, and how people have had to adapt, and the effect those changes have had on people and countries. I actually liked how it ended. It left it open for a sequel (and there is one), but I feel like, even with the unanswered questions at the end, it could have ended there. I’m not sure why I’m ok with leaving those questions unanswered, but of course, since there is another book, I will plan to read it and continue the story.

Mar 18, 2019, 10:53pm

12x12 Animals, Trim the TBR (Classic), PBT Trim, AlphaKIT

Lost and Found: Dogs, Cats, and Everyday Heroes at a Country Animal Shelter / Elizabeth Hess
4 stars

The author is a journalist who went to volunteer at an animal shelter in New York state. This tells of some of the behind-the-scenes happenings at the shelter.

I was surprised at how much the author was invited to help with, but maybe they had to her doing more to help with her book? I have volunteered at both “kill” and “no-kill” animal shelters, so much of the book wasn’t a surprise, including reasons people surrender their animals, etc. Although, not a surprise to me, still sad and/or frustrating, and/or sometimes just making me completely angry! Though I’ve read and seen video (see “Animal Cops” on Animal Planet), one of the hardest chapters for me to read was when the author accompanied the director of the shelter on a puppy mill raid. Another tough one was the one discussing euthanasia. Overall, a good look at animal shelters.

Mar 22, 2019, 10:32pm

12x12 Oh Canada, Travel Across Canada, BingoDOG

At the Mountain's Edge / Genevieve Graham.
3.75 stars

It’s the late 1800s. Liza and her family live in Vancouver, but her father decides he wants to pack up and head north to Dawson City to set up his business there and cash in on the gold rush traffic. Liza and her brother are both adults, but the entire family sets off on this adventure. It’s cold and dangerous even just to get there, as they have to traverse the Chilkoot Trail.

Meanwhile, Ben, who had an abusive childhood, has been wanting to become a Mountie most of his life. He manages to do so, and is sent to Dawson City to help with the policing there. As he (and other Mounties) make their way along the Chilkoot Trail and toward Dawson City, he and Liza cross paths more than once.

I quite enjoyed this. At first, I was more interested in Liza’s story, but I also got more interested in Ben as the story continued on. The disasters in the book were the best parts for me. I also really enjoy reading books set near me, so reading about the Frank Slide was fun. (Frank was a small mining town in southern Alberta where a rock slide buried the town in 1902.) The romance was not overdone, so I felt better about that, as well (not always a romance fan). I also enjoyed the author’s note at the end. I could tell how passionate she is about Canadian historical fiction and the research she did.

Mar 24, 2019, 3:34pm

12x12 Animals, CalendarCAT, AlphaKIT

The Last Rhinos / Lawrence Anthony
4 stars

Lawrence Anthony was running a game reserve in South Africa when he heard that there were only about 15 northern white rhinos left in one reserve in the Congo. Unfortunately, the reserve had been abandoned by the people meant to protect the rhinos because of the presence of a terrorist group, the Lord’s Resistance Army. Lawrence was still worried about those rhinos, so he gathered a group of people who were willing to help and went to government officials to see if he could convince them to allow him and his people to rescue the rhinos to take them somewhere safe. In amidst all this, Lawrence ended up negotiating with the LRA for peace, while trying to enlist their help in protecting the rhinos.

I really liked this, even though there was more politics in the book than I’d expected. The start and end of the book focused on the rhinos and the animals in Lawrence’s own reserve, but most of the middle of it was his negotiations with the LRA. Even so, it was written in a way that I was quite interested in how it would all go, both with the animals and with the peace negotiations.

Mar 25, 2019, 10:33pm

12x12 Nonfiction

Humans: A Brief History of How We F*cked It All Up / Tom Phillips
3.75 stars

This is a (somewhat) humourous look at history and errors that humans have made in the realms of agriculture, science, war, international relations, etc.

I quite enjoyed this. I originally expected there to be a lot of environmental stuff, and there was some, but there was much more. Some of the humour is sarcastic, but that’s ok. The funniest was the photo at the very end, after a paragraph of doom, then a paragraph of positive, then a photo (not going to say what it’s of – I don’t want to spoil it!). That photo really made me laugh after the positive words in the previous paragraph!

Some of the anecdotes were short and some were longer and went into more detail. I did lose a bit of interest in a couple of the longer ones, but mostly it was interesting. Some of it was history I (broadly) knew about and some of it was stuff I either didn’t know about, or just didn’t know much about (i.e. Ghengis Khan – no, he wasn’t he one who make the stupid mistake…). Overall, though, quite enjoyable!

Mar 29, 2019, 5:26pm

12x12 KIT Challenges, AlphaKIT

Inside the O'Briens / Lisa Genova
4.5 stars

Joe is a cop in Boston. He and his wife Rosie have 4 adult children when Joe is diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease while in his early 40s. It’s a progressive disease with no cure that will lead to his death. In the meantime he can expect involuntary movements, slurring of his speech, rage, OCD, and a host of other symptoms. Huntington’s is inherited and each of Joe’s kids has a 50/50 chance of inheriting the gene. There is a test, if they’d like to know. Joe’s oldest son is married and they’ve been trying to have a baby. The youngest, Katie, is just getting into a serious relationship, and is having trouble trying to figure out how to deal with this.

Wow! This was so good! In addition to learning about Huntington’s Disease (which is quite rare), Genova did an amazing job, I thought, of bringing the O’Brien family to life. I loved the Sunday dinners with the family and all their interactions. The book followed Joe and Katie, and how they each dealt with Huntington’s, so we got to see how Joe was dealing with living with it, and how Katie was trying to deal with her father having it, and how it would potentially affect her and her new relationship, and her struggle to decide if she wanted to know if she carried the gene or not. This will make my favourites this year.

Edited: Mar 31, 2019, 2:32pm

12x12 Reading Through Time, Reading Through Time

New York / Edward Rutherfurd
3.5 stars

This is a novel that follows multiple characters through 400+ years in New York City. Primarily, we follow the same family(ies) through the generations. Starting in the 17th century with a Dutch family (and we also follow African Americans, Irish, Italians…), we follow from grandparent to grandchild (for the most part) and we see the characters through colonization, slavery, the Civil War, Tammany Hall, The Triangle Factory fire, the Depression, up to and including 9/11.

I listened to the audio, and for me, audios narrated by a male voice aren’t always exciting for me; add to that, the length of this one (I also tend to have trouble with very long audios), and I was pleasantly surprised. I waffled between rating this 3 stars (ok) and 3.5 (good), as there were parts where I lost interest. I think I rated “Sarum” 3 stars, and though it was a number of years ago, I do think I preferred “New York”. In some ways, with the different characters (though all family), it felt a bit like short stories – some situations and characters I found more interesting than others. It did end on a strong (but very difficult) note with 9/11.

Mar 31, 2019, 4:01am

>109 LibraryCin: I have all the Rutherford books and I just need to read them! It is the length that makes me hesitant!

Mar 31, 2019, 2:32pm

>110 Tess_W: I get that! The length is very daunting!

This one happened to be perfect for this month's "Reading Through Time" theme, so I decided to pick it up, anyway.

For the "Outlander" books (1000+ page books), I've been reading one/year, when I'm on holidays from work, when I know I have more time. That's my strategy for that one. :-)

Mar 31, 2019, 3:42pm

12x12 Oh Canada, CalendarCAT, AlphKIT, Trim the TBR

The Illegal / Lawrence Hill
3 stars

When Keita’s father is murdered, he flees his country to neighbouring Freedom State, where he is considered an “illegal”. Keita is a (very gifted) runner, so he continues to train and enter marathons. When he hears his sister has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom, the stakes on winning those marathons (and the money) are so much higher.

There is a bit more to this, with secondary characters (a lesbian journalist in a wheelchair, a young prostitute “illegal” sent home and murdered, the madame of the brothel, some high level political figures, a teenaged talented documentary maker).

Overall, I’d rate it ok. I’m not sure if it would be of more interest to people who enjoy sports, with all the running, or maybe to people who enjoy political fiction. Sometimes political stuff is of more interest to me, but I think it depends on how it’s done. I listened to the audio, and the narrator was fine, nothing special, but didn’t detract, either, I didn’t think. The story itself was fine.

Apr 1, 2019, 9:07pm

12x12 Travel, Trim the TBR, Passport Challenge (Feb)

The Children's War / Monique Charlesworth
3 stars

In 1939, Ilse is just about to turn 13 when her mother sends her away from Germany to live with her uncle in Morocco. Ilse is half Jewish on her father’s side and her mother is worried for her. Unfortunately, Ilse’s visa is only good for 6 months, and her uncle is going to fight, himself. Uncle Willy’s wife is not interested in looking out for Ilse, so Ilse is sent to France to meet up with her father. The idea is that her mother will join them later. In the meantime, her mother has found good work in Hamburg as a housekeeper, where there are children living. 13 (or 14)-year old Nicolai will soon be part of the Hitler Youth.

The book goes back and forth between Ilse’s and Nicolai’s perspectives. I found Ilse’s story much more interesting, but even that wasn’t as good as many other WWII books I’ve read (in my opinion). Could it be because I’ve read too many? Possibly, or maybe in-part, anyway. I did enjoy some of the secondary characters (at least in Ilse’s story), and I liked the ending (also for Ilse’s part of the story).

Edited: Apr 3, 2019, 1:47pm

>97 LibraryCin: Oh yeah! I saw that movie a ton of times when I was in high school, definitely a "three-handkerchief" story--or I suppose it would be "three boxes of Kleenex" nowadays. I also read the book several times. There is at least one sequel Oliver's Story and maybe another one.

Edited: Apr 3, 2019, 1:45pm

>109 LibraryCin: Same here! Those large tomes stare accusingly at me when I pass them on my home library shelves. Sort of like Hawaii and Chesapeake and some of those other fat Michener books. My husband loves them!

Apr 3, 2019, 3:49pm

>114 LadyoftheLodge: I think I did end up adding the sequel to my tbr.

(And I've gone back to - mostly - using handkerchiefs. There was recently a story about the number of trees that are being used up for toilet paper. Really, Kleenex would be the same!)

>115 LadyoftheLodge: Yes, Michener ones are super-long, too! I've only read one by him, but I picked a short one. Touchstone is not bringing up what I thought it might be called, so I don't remember!

Apr 4, 2019, 9:03am

>111 LibraryCin: I loved the Outlander books so much that I read them all in one year! I'm waiting anxiously for the last one to be published (Go Tell the Bees that I am Gone).

Apr 4, 2019, 5:46pm

>108 LibraryCin: - I loved that book so much!! Happy to see another fan!

Apr 4, 2019, 10:12pm

>117 Tess_W: WOW! That's impressive!

>118 LittleTaiko: Yeah, I've only read it and "Still Alice" by her, but I definitely should read them all, I think!

Apr 5, 2019, 7:55am

>119 LibraryCin: Not really...I read them exclusively for the most part. Didn't read much else that year.

Apr 5, 2019, 10:00pm

>120 Tess_W: Ohhh, that makes sense that that's how you managed to do it all in one year.

Apr 5, 2019, 11:09pm

12x12 Nonfiction, Trim the TBR (Classic), Reading Through Time (Feb), PBT

Marriage: A History / Stephanie Coontz
3.5 stars

Love has only been a precursor to marriage the past couple of hundred years or so. Before that, marriage was mostly for financial or political reasons. Love may or may not have come later. So what many call “traditional marriage” is not really as “traditional” as some might have one believe. What’s often seen as traditional or ideal was really only what marriage was (seen as) in the 1950s for just over a decade. Of course, what went on behind closed doors is not exactly what “Ozzie and Harriet” would have us all believe, either.

The author is a family studies professor. The book takes a look at the history of marriage during different times and cultures in history (though the focus, certainly for modern marriages, is on the Western world). I found this quite interesting. The book has an extensive “Notes” section at the end for those of us who also like to peruse through it for extra tidbits of information. As someone who has never been married, for some reason, I added this to my tbr ages ago!

Apr 9, 2019, 9:33pm

12x12 CAT Challenges, RandomCAT

The Round House / Louise Erdrich
3 stars

Joe is only 13-years old when his mother is attacked. She has a hard time getting back on her feet when it comes out that she was raped. Joe and his father (a judge) try to figure out who might have done this, as they don’t know if the police (or which police, if any – the town police?, the tribal police?) will do anything.

The beginning of the book started off with a “bang”, so to speak, and it kind of ended that way, as well, but it was pretty slow-going in the middle. Overall, it was ok for me. I liked one of the other characters’ stories a bit better (but that could also be because it was condensed) – Linda. The author included some sad stats at the end of the book, with regards to native women and rape.

Apr 13, 2019, 3:07pm

12x12 PBT, PBT, Trim the TBR (Classic)

Sister Queens / Julia Fox
3.5 stars

Katherine of Aragon (Henry VIII’s first wife) and Juana of Castile (often referred to as Juana the Mad) were sisters, both daughters of Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain. Katherine went on to become first Arthur’s, then his brother Henry’s, wife and Mary I’s mother. Katherine was divorced by Henry (after he split from the Catholic Church) after she would not give him a son, so he could wed Anne Boleyn. Juana married Philip of Spain and had many children, but was ruled by Philip, although she was a queen in her own right after Isabella died. After Philip died, Ferdinand ruled while indicating to the world that Juana was insane after Philip’s death. When Ferdinand died, Charles (Juana’s son) continued to insist that Juana was crazy, so while she remained locked up, Charles was able to rule instead.

I listened to the audio, which overall, I’ll rate good. I have read so much about the Tudors, there wasn’t a whole lot new to me about Katherine. Though, the author did highlight some of the connections and interactions (few that there were) between Katherine and Juana. I’ve read only a little bit about Juana and it’s been a while, so she was a bit more interesting; however (and the author warns us of this at the start), there are a lot of years where there just isn’t a lot of information about Juana, while she is locked away.

Apr 13, 2019, 3:44pm

12x12 Animals, Trim the TBR (Classic), BingoDOG

The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly / Sun-Mi Hwang
4 stars

Sprout is an egg-laying hen, but is going to be culled. She manages to get free before she dies, but is not welcome in the farm-yard. She has always wanted to lay an egg and be able to sit on it and hatch it and raise the chick, so imagine her happiness when she finds a deserted egg that she is able to hatch!

I really enjoyed this. I love animals, and really felt for Sprout. Even if they weren’t animals, there is a lot of mother-child type interactions going on between Sprout and the little one. And interesting (and sad) interactions between Sprout, the little one, and the other farm animals.

Apr 14, 2019, 6:41pm

12x12 PBT, PBT, AlphaKIT, Trim the TBR (Classic), Travel Across Canada

Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917 / Sally M. Walker
4 stars

On Dec 6, 1917, there was an explosion in the Halifax Harbour. Around 2000 people were killed and many more injured.

This book is aimed toward younger readers, but I found it a good introduction. There are also plenty of archival photos included. The author decided to tell the stories of a few specific families – to follow what happened to the people in those families, what they were doing at the time, etc. I do think this makes the book more “relatable”.

I did know of the explosion, but this is the first I’ve read about it, to really get more info/details on it. I already have other books on my tbr about the topic, as well. I thought this book was very well done. (Hate to say I “really liked” a book about a disaster, though I’m sure I have before!)

Apr 15, 2019, 10:19pm

12x12 KIT Challenges, ScaredyKIT

In a Dark, Dark Wood / Ruth Ware
4.25 stars

When Nora (Lee when she was growing up; both short for Leonora) is invited to the “hen party” (bachelorette party/stagette) of a friend from high school, a friend she hasn’t seen in 10 years, she wonders why she was invited. However, a mutual friend. Nina, decides to go, so Nora figures she’ll join them. This hen party is a weekend away in the woods in a glass house.

Chapters alternate between what happened at the hen party and Nora currently in the hospital, with a police guard outside her hospital room door, while she tries to remember what happened. Imagine her surprise when she overhears the word “homicide”!

I really liked this. It wasn’t go-go-go from the start, with the hen party and the set up there, but it was definitely enough to get me curious as to what was going on. Part-way through, especially with that glass house in the woods, it did get creepy in parts. Of course, it was easy to second-guess everything that went on, with Nora not really being able to remember what had happened. There was more history between Clair and Nora to delve into, as well.

Apr 17, 2019, 11:02pm

12x12 Audio, Trim the TBR (Classic)

The Devil's Queen / Jeanne Kalogridis
2 stars

Note that this review is for the abridged audio. Catherine de Medici, in the mid-16th century, went from Italy to France to marry, and she later became queen. Her husband much preferred his mistress, who was old enough to be his mother, to Catherine.

Unfortunately, this book had a double whammy against it – audios don’t always hold my attention (though some, I have no problem with). And, just after I checked it out from the library, I happened to notice it was abridged. Sigh. Why…? Why bother making them abridged! Now, I have read a bit about Catherine de Medici, but not a lot, so it’s sometimes hard to remember the people and how they are related to each other. This can be harder to follow in an audio book, but even worse in an abridged audio where there are huge parts that seem to be skipped over (or, in the case of this historical fiction, huge chunks of time, anyway).

So, this is more a review of the abridged audio (not worthwhile), than of the book itself. Also, one of the “books” I’ve read about her was a trilogy. So, if one author had to write 3 books to cover her life… this is already narrowed down to one book, but not only that, the one book is abridged! I hate abridged. If I’d had another audio book lined up and ready to go, I might have switched.

Apr 19, 2019, 12:14am

12x12 Reading Through Time, Reading Through Time, SeriesCAT, AlphaKIT, Trim the TBR (Classic), PBT

By the Shores of Silver Lake / Laura Ingalls Wilder
4 stars

Laura and her family are heading West. Laura and Pa are excited, though Ma is a bit hesitant, but Pa has promised they will find a homestead and settle down, and the girls can go to school.

This is such a great series! There were some beautiful descriptions of the Prairies (there were also some “extra” descriptions (of the prairie and other things) as Laura was Mary’s eyes, as Mary had recently gone blind after a bout with scarlet fever). I also really enjoyed the building of the town. You just don’t think about what it takes to start from scratch with no one else around and to watch a town be built from nothing!

Apr 19, 2019, 9:04am

>129 LibraryCin: I loved that series. I always hated that Mary went blind. I think I usually connected more with her than Laura.

Apr 21, 2019, 2:44pm

12x12 Travel, Passport Challenge, BingoDOG, PBT

Ghosts of Everest: The Search for Mallory & Irvine / Jochen Hemmleb, Larry A. Johnson, Eric R. Simonson.
4 stars

In 1999, the authors, along with others including a crew from the BBC, got together to climb Mount Everest, not necessarily with the plan to summit, but wanting to find clues to George Mallory’s and Andrew Irvine’s disappearance and the mystery as to whether or not they’d actually been the first to summit the mountain in 1924. This book details that expedition, in addition to telling the story of Mallory and Irvine, in general.

The first half of the book – including preparation and parts of the known portions of Mallory and Irvine’s story – I would rate 3.5 stars (good), but it really picked up for me in the second half when the group searching for clues got climbing. And they did find quite a few things, and a couple of them even managed to summit afterward. This book contains some of the best photos I’ve seen of Everest in the books I’ve read; they really gave me a better perspective than I think I’ve realized before, possibly due to the fact that all the photos are in colour. It’s easier to see details in the colour photos. The second half of the book and the photos upped my enjoyment and rating of the book.

Apr 27, 2019, 3:45pm

12x12 Off the Shelf, Trim the TBR (Classic), PBT Trim the TBR

Lady of the Forest / Jennifer Roberson
3 stars

Robert of Locksley (later Robin of Locksley, then Robin Hood) has been fighting with King Richard (the Lionheart) in the Crusades. Richard has been imprisoned, but Robert makes his way home. There, he comes across Marian, who he knew when they were younger. Marian is the King’s ward since her father passed away, and the Sheriff hopes to marry her. When Will Scarlet, wanted for murder, kidnaps her, though he doesn’t “defile” her, everyone assumes so, so she is ruined. Doesn’t change that the Sheriff still wants to marry her, but she will have none of it.

It’s a long book. It took 200 of the 800 pages for me to get interested, and even then, that was only when they started bringing in characters I already recognized from the Robin Hood story: Little John, Will Scarlett, “Brother” Tuck. I feel like I shouldn’t have to recognize the story to get interested in it. I also sometimes have a hard time when the same person/character is referred to by different names – last name, first name, title – at different points. It took me way too long to realize that Willian deLacey and the Sheriff were one and the same! I really did like the last 100 pages. Overall, though, I’m keeping it at an “ok” rating. I already have the sequel, so I will read it at some point.

Apr 29, 2019, 10:33pm

12x12 Nonfiction, PBT, TBRCAT

To Sleep With the Angels: The Story of a Fire / David Cowan, John Kuenster
4.5 stars

On Dec. 1, 1958, a fire started in the basement of the overcrowded Our Lady of the Angels Catholic school in Chicago. The building was old and more recent fire regulations did not apply to the older buildings, as they were grandfathered in. The building had only one fire escape; it was two stories, but the only fire door was on the first floor. Because of that, the fire crept past the first floor, then exploded on to the 2nd floor. By the time the kids and nuns realized there was a fire, they couldn’t go out the hallways. Kids started jumping out the windows, while others – too scared to do so – waited and hoped to be helped to safety. Ninety-two kids, ages 8 to 14, died as a result of that fire, along with three nuns.

The book takes us through the lead-up to the end of the school day when the fire started, and some of the kids and families involved. It continues to describe the fire and the rescue efforts, and the aftermath, including those kids who got out alive, but had to recover in hospital. It continued still, with the investigation into what caused the fire and through the aftermath years later, as people remembered (or tried not to). The book also has a map of the school, and it shows the number of fatalities and injured in each room. There are also photos. Devastating story, but a fascinating read (and it always feels so weird to describe these real-life disaster books this way). But, they can be (and this one is) so compelling.

May 6, 2019, 10:45pm

12x12 Trim, Trim the TBR (Classic), ScaredyKIT

A Taste for Monsters / Matthew J. Kirby
3.5 stars

Evelyn heads to a hospital in the East End of London not long before the Jack the Ripper killings begin. She is hoping to find employment as a nurse; instead, she is offered a position is a maid to Joseph Merrick, who resides at the hospital. Merrick is more well-known as “the Elephant Man”. Once the Ripper killings begin, Evelyn must help Mr. Merrick deal with the ghosts that are showing up nightly.

I enjoyed this. It’s YA, and I would have liked to have an author’s note. It seems to me that the information about the Ripper killings and his victims was pretty factual, but this is the first I’ve read about Merrick and would like to know more about him. I expect that him living in the hospital and not going out is probably pretty accurate. But, I don’t really know. I did enjoy this story, though. Evelyn was also coming to terms with her facial disfigurement, from “phossy jaw” at her former workplace and preferred to stay inside the hospital herself.

May 6, 2019, 10:52pm

12x12 Off the Shelf, BingoDOG, Trim (Classic)

The Wonder / Emma Donoghue
3 stars

In the mid-1800s, Lib is a nurse from England who has come to Ireland to keep watch, for two weeks, over a young girl who has not eaten in four months. Lib and another nurse, a nun, will swap shifts to always watch to see if the girl can really subsist on nothing. Is it a miracle? Lib is doubtful and expects she’ll be able to prove the hoax in short order.

I wondered part-way through if there had been people who really thought they could live without eating, and in fact, there were. Donoghue’s book was not based on one specific person, but on multiple people. Some did have people watch them at all times, as well. Donoghue’s author’s note tells us that each real-life instance had different outcomes.

I might have rated it higher, but the story was pretty slow-going. For the last third of the book or so, I thought it picked up quite a bit, but decided that I’d keep my rating at “ok”, which is where it fell for me for most of the book. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised at the crazy religious people.

May 6, 2019, 11:12pm

12x12 Series, SeriesCAT

The Trespasser / Tana French
4 stars

When Aislinn (pronounced Ashleen – I only know this because I listened to the audio!) is found dead in her home, next to a table set for what looked to be a romantic dinner, the boyfriend is the immediate suspect. But, there might be more to it. Antoinette and Steve are partners on the murder squad, but Antoinette, as the only woman on the squad, has had to take a lot of crap and she’s getting tired of it! Antoinette and Steve are pushed by some of the other detectives to simply arrest the boyfriend and call it a day. But they want an air-tight case.

Another really good book in the series! I also really like the audios of these. I haven’t listened to them all, but I have for many of them, and they are always done really well. I like the Irish accent, too. I also always enjoy the personal stories of the detectives in these books. I was always kept wanting to read more, to find out how things were going to unfold. Really enjoyed this one!

May 7, 2019, 12:15am

>136 LibraryCin: Glad you have enjoyed French. I have tried 2 books and they are a no-go for me!

May 7, 2019, 9:26pm

>137 Tess_W: Oh, no! I'm sorry. :-( There is only one in the Dublin Murder Squad series that I rated lower than 4 stars. I've really been enjoying them all!

May 10, 2019, 2:49pm

>137 Tess_W: and >138 LibraryCin: - Whew, thought I was the only person in the world who didn't really like the books either. I tried two of them and found them to be meh. However, they have so much love elsewhere. Keeps life interesting to have the different opinions.

May 11, 2019, 3:22pm

12x12 Audio, Travel Across Canada

Brian's Winter / Gary Paulsen
3.5 stars

In “Hatchet”, 13(?)-year old Brian is stranded in the Canadian North after a plane crash. What if winter had come and he was still there? This looks at Brian trying to survive the winter on his own.

I listened to the audio and enjoyed it. It looks like I rated the first two books 4 stars each, but on thinking back, I feel like “Hatchet” should have been 4 stars and “The River” probably 3.5, same as this one. In any case, it was interesting to see the kinds of things Brian had to do/learn in order to survive over the winter.

May 11, 2019, 3:45pm

12x12 Travel, PBT Horizons

The Seven Sisters / Lucinda Riley
3.5 stars

Maia is the oldest of six adopted sisters, who grew up with a wealthy single father in Switzerland. When their father dies, they are each left with a hint about where they came from and it is up to them whether or not they want to pursue it. Maia decides to find out her story and heads to Brazil to do so. There, she meets someone who tells her of her great-grandmother’s story – a story of a “lost” love in France, while having to marry someone she doesn’t love in Brazil.

I enjoyed this. I enjoyed Izabela’s story more than Maia’s, and, unfortunately, I just didn’t “get” the connection between Maia and her love interest. Other than that, I did like Maia’s story, as well, but it really was Izabela’s that shone for me. I also liked the story of the creation of the Christ the Redeemer statue that stands in Rio de Janeiro; the people were real people, but of course, the story as written here was fictional. It is another book that goes back and forth in time with the two storylines, but that’s not something that bothers me. I do plan to continue the series, which I imagine will focus on each sister separately.

May 11, 2019, 7:31pm

>126 LibraryCin: I'd like to read more about the Halifax Explosion myself, so I'll keep this book in mind. What I know about the event comes from high-school history classes decades ago and Hugh MacLennan's Barometer Rising.

May 12, 2019, 12:54am

>142 mathgirl40: It was only recently when someone mentioned it that I realized "Barometer Rising" was about the Halifax Explosion!

Edited: May 12, 2019, 9:42pm

12x12 CAT Challenges, CalendarCAT, Trim the TBR (Classic)

The Captive of Kensington Palace / Jean Plaidy
3.75 stars

This is the first in a series by the author focusing on Queen Victoria. This one opens when Victoria is still a child, living with her mother (the Duchess of Kent), older sister, and her mother’s suspected lover (Sir John) in Kensington Palace. Her mother and Sir John are very ambitious, and knowing that Victoria is next in line to the throne once the childless King (no legitimate children), the Duchess is all for using her daughter to her advantage and hoping that her brother, King William, will die before Victoria turns “of age” (18 years), which would mean the Duchess would be Regent.

I’ve not read anything about Queen Victoria until now, nor do I really know anything about her or the Monarchy in England before and leading up to her rule, so this was interesting. Have to admit, because there were so many names/people I didn’t know at the start of the book, I was a bit lost initially, but it didn’t take long before I was able to figure most of it out. The book did get better and better as it went on, as Victoria grew older and was able to (sometimes) stand up to her mother. I definitely want to continue the series, and hope I am able to before too much time passes, so I remember what lead up to everything to this point.

May 17, 2019, 10:20pm

12x12 PBT, PBT

North of Beautiful / Justina Chen
3.5 stars

Terra is beautiful, tall, blonde… and has a giant purple birthmark on the right side of her face. She wants to go to art school across the country to get as far away from her father and the small town she is living in as possible. In the meantime, she works at a small gallery in her town, and has tried many different ways to get rid of her birthmark. On the latest trip to Seattle to do so, she and her mother get in a car accident on the way home, where Terra almost runs into an Asian Goth boy, Jacob.

I liked this. There are a few themes going on here, beauty being the main one, both Terra’s face and her art, but also the (emotional/verbal) abuse she and her mother (and brothers, until they left home) face from her father. Cartography is big in the book, and there is a trip to China. This was more than your usual lighthearted YA romance book; it felt a bit weightier. The trip to China was interesting to see a bit of the Chinese culture. The romance, Terra’s birthmark/face/beauty, and the family situation were probably the best parts for me. I really liked the interactions between the siblings (before their father came home).

May 17, 2019, 10:36pm

12x12 Reading Through Time, Reading Through Time, BingoDOG

Norse Mythology / Neil Gaiman
3 stars

Primary gods in Norse mythology include Odin, Thor, and Loki. Many/most of these stories focused on them, but there are a few others thrown in to the mix, including the beautiful Freya, in many of the stories, as well.

Neil Gaiman does have a nice voice and is a good narrator (I listened to the audio), but somehow he doesn’t always hold my attention. Seems to depend what else I’m doing at the time, though. At home/housework, I’m fine; walking somewhere – too many distractions and I lose focus. I’ve listened to a few he’s narrated, but I think it’s all been short stories, which I think is also harder on audio because when you lose focus (or when I do, anyway!), it’s harder to catch up again. I do wonder if I would have a better time listening to him read one of his novels. I’m also not always a short story fan, though the first ones in this book (when I was focusing) were good. The rest, I missed too much to really say. Overall, I’m rating this ok.

May 17, 2019, 11:11pm

12x12 CAT Challenges, RandomCAT

Dancing Lessons / Cheryl Burke
3.25 stars

Cheryl is a professional ballroom dancer who has appeared on Dancing With the Stars since season 2. There were plenty of behind-the-scenes stories, more about her partners, rather than the other pros on the show. Of course, there were stories about her life, as well: growing up painfully shy, her hard-working Filipino mother, how she got into dancing to begin with, relationships (some abusive), her career including and since her DWTS fame.

I don’t usually read celebrity biographies, but this one fit a challenge and I’d been considering reading it. It’s fairly short and entertaining for someone who is a fan of the show. I stopped watching DWTS a few years ago, but I still enjoyed the stories, and I certainly remembered most of the celebrities she was talking about (I even looked a couple of the dances up on youtube after I finished the book so I could watch again!). It was interesting to read about her life, the bits and pieces that she included. She is a very positive person, so there was no “dirt” dished out about the show or the people on it.

May 20, 2019, 2:47pm

12x12 Travel, Passport Challege

Reign of Madness / Lynn Cullen
4 stars

Juana of Castile, also known as “Juana the Mad”, was the daughter of Isabel of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon. With two older siblings, she never thought she’d have a chance to be queen. She was married to Philippe of Flanders, who was lower ranked than she was. Initially in love with Philippe, things turned sour after a while, as Philippe dallied with other women, and began to treat Juana badly. When Juana did inherit her mother’s crown in Casile, Philippe managed to take her power from her.

The book started when Juana was young and living with her parents and siblings. It continued to follow her and Philippe’s relationship and travels between the Spains and Flanders. I found the beginning of the book a bit slow. It also jumped over time a bit. But, I thought it really picked up about the time Juana realized what a cad Philippe was. The author fictionalized a reason why Juana may have ultimately wanted to stay out of the limelight and not be queen, which was somewhat entertaining. In any case, I found the additional information about Christopher Columbus interesting, as I haven’t read much about him (though I did know his explorations were funded by Isabel and Ferdinand). The author did have a note at the end, separating out fact from fiction, which is always nice. It was particularly interesting to note what really happened with Beatriz, who was Juana’s closest lady.

May 20, 2019, 5:30pm

>147 LibraryCin: oh wow, right up my alley! On my wish list it goes!

May 21, 2019, 7:47pm

Edited: May 24, 2019, 11:52pm

12x12 Trim the TBR, Trim the TBR (Classic), PBT Trim the TBR, TBRCAT

The Key to Midnight / Dean Koontz
3.5 stars

Alex is a private detective and recognizes Joanna when he walks into her club in Kyoto. He recognizes her as Lisa, who went missing 12 years ago and disappeared without a trace. Joanna insists she is not Lisa, but as they look further into it, they are convinced she is, but she really doesn’t remember being Lisa. She has memories of her life (as Joanna) before Kyoto and before 12 years ago. What happened?

I thought this was pretty good. At first, I thought Alex was not a good person, but that turned out to be wrong (it wasn’t long before we figured this out, so it’s not a spoiler). The nightmares that Joanna had were creepy. This was originally written under a pseudonym, as it was a different genre than Koontz usually writes. He rewrote parts of it to update it in 1995 (from the original 1979), though a lot of the subject matter still felt a bit 70s. Overall, though, it was good.

May 24, 2019, 11:50pm

12x12 Travel

Bel Canto / Ann Patchett
3.5 stars

In South America (Peru?), there is a birthday party with lots of rich people. The president of the country was supposed to have been there. An American opera singer is there. The party is stormed by guerrillas, and all the people are taken hostage. They were really looking for the president, but he backed out at the last minute and wasn’t there, so they made do with the rest of the people. The hostage situation went on for months…

It was pretty slow-moving, but the story was good. Unfortunately, I found I (mostly) didn’t care about the characters. I guess by the end, I did a little bit, but still not as much as I would have hoped. The epilogue was unexpected – I’m not sure I liked it. My edition had an interview with the author at the end, so I found it interesting to discover that the book was based on a real-life hostage situation at the Japanese embassy in Peru that did last months.

May 25, 2019, 12:09am

>152 LibraryCin: - Great review. I loved Bel Canto until the epilogue and that just did not sit well with me.

May 27, 2019, 10:18pm

12x12 Nonfiction, Trim the TBR (Classic), AlphaKIT

Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash / Edward Humes
4 stars

We have become a consumer culture, a society where disposable is all too common. This book looks at trash and all it entails: landfills, recycling, and what else can be done with it, and/or about it, and/or ideally things we can do to reduce it. Plastic is, of course, a big issue - including the “patch” of plastic floating around the Pacific Ocean (which is apparently more of a soup or chowder (smaller chunks all over the place), rather than a patch where it’s all together in the one spot).

I thought this was quite interesting. Some people have actually studied trash (garbologists). There was some history of how landfills got started, and how people traditionally got rid of their trash. Of course, the consumer culture – marketing to promote more and more buying (and also throwing away because we want the new stuff) – came to rise in the 50s, and hasn’t let up.

One idea that was new to me (at least in the detail described in this book) was the waste-to-energy idea, turning trash into energy. I have heard of it, but this book went into more detail than I ever knew about it. Denmark and Germany seem to be the forerunners for this, and it sounds like a great idea. Of course, alongside these kinds of ideas, humans really do need to figure out ways to cut down on the amount of stuff we acquire (and subsequently throw away). There was also some info on things some people are doing to cut down on their consumerism and disposables.

Edited: May 27, 2019, 10:29pm

>154 LibraryCin: Very interesting! In the past couple of years I have tried to become more energy efficient and try to not to use disposables: use cloth napkins, hang clothing out to dry in the summer, use my own grocery bags instead of the plastic ones and not use paper plates or disposable cups (except on a picnic--can't haul my glass plates there!). I also put a flow meter on my shower head and use a timer to time my showers. I do a few other things, but I'm interested in now taking the next step. Your book goes on my wish list.

May 27, 2019, 10:37pm

12x12 Animals, Trim the TBR (Classic), TBRCAT

Your Cat’s Just Not That Into You / Richard Smith.
3 stars

This is meant to be a humourous look at cats. Much of it is set up in a letter “dear Abby” advice-type format, but there are other little snippets, as well. There were a few times I laughed out loud, but really not many. It wasn’t as amusing or enjoyable as I’d hoped, though I am still rating it “ok” (that may be generous). It was a quick read, at least.

Edited: May 27, 2019, 10:43pm

>155 Tess_W: Hope you like it! It was interesting.

I try to do quite a bit, myself. Not as good about hanging stuff outside to dry, but I also use cloth napkins, have been using reusable shopping bags for 25+ years, I also (at home, anyway) use handkerchiefs, I try to buy stuff with less plastic packaging, but that's very difficult, especially when I don't like to cook! If the option is there, I go for glass instead of plastic. I try to buy in larger sizes (also less packaging).

A number of years ago, I continued to use plastic cutlery at fast-food places, my work cafeteria, etc, but I refused to throw them out. Took them home and washed them, then they sat there. Once I gathered quite a few, I decided I needed to do something with them, so now I carry some around (2-3 each of spoons, forks, knife) in a small baggie and use them instead of grabbing more when I eat out! I do use them until they break, now. I keep lots in my drawer at work, as well, so I don't have to bring cutlery from home for lunches.

ETA: I use my fan (it's on a timer) to keep my showers under 5 minutes. I still feel like it's too long, but I'm having a hard time cutting it shorter!

May 27, 2019, 10:48pm

I was so disappointed when Heinz stopped offering ketchup in glass bottles (I had only discovered not long before that they still made them, so I switched! It was when I started looking for glass options). I managed to save one, and I bought an organic ketchup (plastic bottle, disappointing), and saved both.

Heinz still makes a HUGE tin of ketchup (Mom used to buy this when I was a kid!). It took some time to find where I could buy it, but I did! I use a funnel to pour it into my two saved bottles (the plastic one will eventually deteriorate, and I'll have to replace it - boooooo). Extra after the tin is open goes into (labelled) glass salsa jars in the fridge. It appears to take me a bit more than a year to go through one of those giant tins!!

May 28, 2019, 7:34am

>154 LibraryCin: - Somehow I managed to "unstar" your thread and didn't realize it til I saw the book in post #154 over on the Alpha kit. So I've just read through the posts I've missed and took a few BBs including this one. We moved a couple of years ago to a condo community and one of the things I miss most is my compost barrels. I hate putting my kitchen waste in the trash. My only other option would be to freeze it and take it over to my brother's farm every week to add to his. I too find it annoying that you can only find some things in plastic. I did see an news brief one time about a woman who could fit all her trash for a year in a large (?) mason jar. She had found ways to recycle/reuse almost everything. I think she might have a blog somewhere.

May 28, 2019, 4:21pm

>159 dudes22: I did see an news brief one time about a woman who could fit all her trash for a year in a large (?) mason jar. She had found ways to recycle/reuse almost everything. I think she might have a blog somewhere.

Yes, she is in this book, as well!

Of course, i thought of more things I do, too. Trying to give others who are interested ideas, but I wasn't online when I thought of them. The only one coming to mind as i type now is that I use a "reel" (push) mower. I hate mowing the lawn, and this does make it harder, still (especially with my hill in the backyard!), but I refuse to use electric or gas mowers!

Edited: May 29, 2019, 1:55pm

>154 LibraryCin: I wondered if he discussed glass recycling. Many cities, including mine, have discontinued collecting it. Primarily because it isn't cost effective. Our recycling manager said it is cheaper to make new glass than it is to recycle and he couldn't find a buyer for it in a reasonable distance away. Glass often breaks in the collection trucks and because the pieces are small they often contaminates the other materials. I do buy plastic but everything I buy can be recycled.

Have you ever visited your landfill/sanitation department? Ours gives tours at the landfill and it is fascinating. I think the people who work there are very dedicated and do a great job with education when they get the opportunity.

May 29, 2019, 7:22pm

>161 clue: I've heard glass is a tough one, as well. My city still collects it, but it's possible they are storing it until they find someone to take it (they're currently doing it with "clamshell" plastics, but I hear they may have finally found someone who wants it.

No, glass recycling is one thing he didn't talk about in the book. I forgot to put it in my review, but the book was written in 2012, I believe, so it is (already!) maybe a bit out of date! However, I still found it very interesting and I think there is still lots of useful information in it.

Jun 1, 2019, 4:38pm

12x12 KIT Challenges, AlphaKIT, CalendarCAT

The Valley of Amazement / Amy Tan
4 stars

It’s 1912. Violet is half-American, half-Chinese and growing up with only her American mother, Lulu, in Shainghai. Lulu runs a courtesan house, but is tricked when Violet is 14-years old; Violet is kidnapped while her mother heads to San Francisco to find her son.

I really liked this. A warning that there are some graphic scenes, though – sex, violence. The book certainly kept me wanting to read to find out what happened. It was a bit of an emotional roller-coaster with ups and downs. A small portion of the book told Lulu’s story; admittedly, at first, I didn’t think this was necessary, but it got more interesting as it went on, and it was nice to see the pieces come together as it continued.

Jun 1, 2019, 6:21pm

>163 LibraryCin: I love Amy Tan--this goes on my wish list!

Jun 2, 2019, 1:15am

>164 Tess_W: I hope you like it! I'll forewarn you that some of the other reviewers didn't as much. Some did, some didn't.

Jun 7, 2019, 10:20pm

12x12 Reading Through Time, Reading Through Time, AlphaKIT

Inferno / Dan Brown
4 stars

When Robert Langdon wakes up in a hospital, he doesn’t realize he’s in Italy and when he finds that out, he has no recollection of why he’s there or how he got there. He quickly finds out someone has shot him in the head, and whoever it is is still coming after him! He and a doctor helping him escape together and try to find out why he is there and why someone is trying to kill him.

I quite liked this. It did slow down for me in the middle, but it picked up again at the end. I almost never say this, but I was, in this instance, cheering for the bad guy!

Jun 7, 2019, 10:45pm

12x12 Audio, BingoDOG, TBRCAT, Trim the TBR (Classic)

The Stars are Fire / Anita Shreve
4 stars

Grace and Gene are in an unhappy marriage. They live in Maine and have two young kids. When a wildfire threatens their town and they are forced to evacuate, Grace is waiting at home for Gene to return from helping fight the fire, so they can get out, but it’s too late and she much leave with her kids. She and her best friend/neighbour, Rosie, take their kids and run to the beach. After they are saved from the beach, neither knows where their husbands are, and both of their homes were destroyed.

Apparently, the fire really happened; unfortunately, there was no author’s note to tell me that. It took me quite a while to figure out when the book was set (it was the 1940s). The fire itself was fairly quick in the book, so the bulk of the book was picking up the pieces afterward. It did slow down a bit in the middle for me, but I thought the fire itself was written well, near the start of the book, and it picked up again at the end of the book. Pretty scary, the fire.

I listened to the audio and it kept my attention (this is a good thing, as many don’t!). As I started listening to the book, there were wildfires north of me, and towns were evacuated. The smoke made it to my city. I’m lucky I’ve never had to worry about such a thing, but it is a very real possibility for many people.

Jun 9, 2019, 3:51pm

12x12 Animals, CalendarCAT, Trim the TBR (Classic)

Love Saves the Day / Gwen Cooper
4 stars

Sarah took in Prudence, a brown tabby kitten, when she found her. Sarah’s daughter, Laura, doesn’t visit often, and things seem strained when she does. Prudence knows Sarah’s best friend, Anise, better. But one day (after Prudence has been on her own for a number of days), Laura and Josh come to pack everything up and Prudence has to go with them. Prudence can only hope that Sarah will come back to take her back home again soon.

This was mostly told from Prudence’s point of view, with a few chapters from Laura’s and a couple from Sarah’s. I really enjoyed Prudence’s chapters, in particular. The author knows cats well! I had to laugh at parts of it! I was horrified to find out about an event that really took place in New York City in 1998 that is part of the background in this story – it shows how Sarah and Laura’s relationship became strained. I just don’t want to give it away as a bit of a spoiler. Overall, I really enjoyed this one!

Jun 9, 2019, 4:02pm

12x12 Audio, Trim the TBR (Classic)

Stardust / Neil Gaiman
3 stars

Tristran is in love with Victoria, and when they see a falling star, Tristran vows to go get it and bring it back for her. Unfortunately, this means Tristran has to somehow get to the other side of the Wall. No one goes on the other side, except for a flea market that is held only every nine years.

I listened to the audio, read by Gaiman himself (of course!). He does have a wonderful storytelling voice, but for some reason, it still doesn’t always hold my attention. The other books I’ve listened to him read were short stories, so I had hoped a novel would be better for me. Unfortunately, it was about the same. It was ok. There were plenty of things that I missed, though being an entire novel, I was usually able to catch the gist of where we were in the story, as I listened (which isn’t necessarily the case with short stories, because they end so quickly). I think it was a cute story, at least what I paid attention to!

Jun 10, 2019, 10:28pm

12x12 Oh Canada, PBT Trim the TBR

Circus: A Story from Circus / Clair Battershill
3 stars

This is just one story from a book of short stories. I don’t think I realized that when I picked it up. Or, if I did, I’d forgotten by the time I picked it up to read (now)! Anyway, I can’t really do a summary because it was so short and it seemed a bit all over the place. It moved too quickly to really have any kind of plot or story. It seemed like it might have made for a nice outline of an actual novel, maybe. That’s what gave it the 3 stars (ok) from me. A nice outline for a novel. But, really, it was too short, nothing much happened (until the very end, but then it ended, so we didn’t really get to find out what that was all about!).

Jun 10, 2019, 10:59pm

12x12 PBT, PBT, BingoDOG, SeriesCAT, Trim the TBR (Classic)

Fables, Vol. 20. Camelot / Bill Willingham
3.75 stars

As usual, there were smaller storylines going on at the same time, but the main storyline in this volume is Rose Red trying to recreate the Knights of the Round Table. She has a table built in a field, then spreads the word that she is looking for knights to populate her round table. Many Fables gather to see who she will choose.

I really enjoyed this main storyline, as well as the next biggest storyline in this one, involving Snow White and her children. I so love the illustrations in this, and like the others in the series, the borders are a nice “extra” that also helps you figure out which characters/storyline is happening on that page. It ended on a slow note for me, which is mostly whatbrought down my rating by that ¼ star. Overall, though, I quite liked this volume.

Jun 13, 2019, 7:18pm

Lots of great reading! It's been a while since I checked in and I took a pile of BBs.

Jun 14, 2019, 10:09pm

>172 LisaMorr: Yay! Hope you enjoy them!

I wish I had more time to check in on others' threads, but I rarely take the time.

Hmmm, if I really think about it, I could take the time, but I usually want to get off the computer and go read more! :-)

Jun 15, 2019, 7:04pm

12x12 Off the Shelf

One Little Secret / Cate Holahan
4 stars

Susan and Nadal have recently moved to the neighbourhood. Their kids and those of their neighbours are around the same age. Susan decides she wants to get to know the neighbours better (Ben and Rachel, and Louis and Jenny), so they plan a trip together while the kids are away at camp. On the first morning, one of them is found dead on the beach.

I really enjoyed this. I thought it was paced well, and I definitely wanted to keep reading. It’s told by way of “The day before”, “The day of”, and “The day after”, referring to the murder, but I thought it was pretty easy to keep track of where I was. In opposition to the title, there were actually quite a few secrets going on in this book! Of course, this is one with all the twists and turns.

Jun 15, 2019, 7:25pm

12x12 Series, SeriesCAT, Trim the TBR (Classic)

I Shall Wear Midnight / Terry Pratchett
3.5 stars

Tiffany Aching is now 15 years old. She is a good witch and helps people when they need help. Unfortunately, an older man, the Baron (also the father of Tiffany’s friend, Roland) passes away under her care. Also a girl, Amber, has been abused by her father and she is found with the Nac Mac Feegles (the tough Scottish fairies) and their “kelda” (female leader). Somehow an evil force has awakened and is coming after Tiffany.

Hard to write a summary, as there were a few different things going on. Overall, I liked the book, though some parts were better than others. I found Amber’s storyline interesting, as well as when Roland’s fiancee, Letitia, appears – I liked her, too. There were parts that I didn’t find quite as interesting, but overall, it was enjoyable.

Jun 19, 2019, 2:00pm

>173 LibraryCin: I'm with you on wanting to get back to the reading - I often catch up on threads during a very quick lunch break or other quick breaks during the workday where I'm not really going to be able to pull out a book... I have a huge wishlist from all the BBs I've taken and I'll never read them all, but I have lots to choose from and enjoy getting new ideas from folks.

Jun 19, 2019, 11:35pm

>176 LisaMorr: Ha! The BBs! That's another "problem" when one starts taking time to read everyone's individual threads! :-)

Jun 20, 2019, 3:43am

>177 LibraryCin: I agree with you on that! Sometimes it feels like I pick up BBs every single day.

Jun 22, 2019, 6:19pm

12x12 KIT Challenges, ScaredyKIT, AlphaKIT

The Circle / Dave Eggers
4 stars

When Mae manages to get a lucrative job (well, the job itself isn’t lucrative, just the chance to work there) with The Circle, she is thrilled! The Circle is a huge tech company and, to her surprise, there is so much more going on at The Circle than just work, so many social events. As the days go on, Mae is expected to be more and more social, online and in-person. Though it seems very difficult to keep up, Mae manages to do so, but there are drawbacks to all this online activity…

I listened to the audio, and had no trouble following without losing interest. I really liked this. It was hard to fathom how she could get more and more sucked in to that life and not realize the implications. I guess I felt like she had been brainwashed, like a cult. In fact, pretty much all of them had “drunk the Kool-Aid”! It was an interesting tale of taking social media way too far.

Jun 22, 2019, 6:20pm

12x12 Animals, AlphaKIT, CalendarCAT

The True Tails of Baker and Taylor / Jan Louch
4 stars

Baker and Taylor were two library cats (Scottish folds) in small-town Nevada, who lived in the 1980s and 90s and were named after the bookselling company, Baker & Taylor. When the company found out about the cats, they decided to use them in the company’s promotional material, propelling the cats to stardom and creating a lasting image for the company, as they still use the cats’ likenesses 20+ years later.

Books and cats – my two favourite things! I also have three Baker & Taylor shopping bags, where I store unread books! I really enjoyed this. There is a section of photos in the middle of the book. Baker and Taylorare so cute, and each had their own personalities. They even had a fan club made up of a grade 2 class elsewhere in the country. The teacher had her class write letters (to help them with their writing) every year to the cats, and send gifts. These were quite cute. There was (like with Dewey’s book) some biographical information about the librarian (and author) who mainly took care of the cats, as well.

Jun 22, 2019, 6:32pm

12x12 Trim the TBR, Trim the TBR (Classic)

Hungry: A Young Model's Story... / Crystal Renn
4 stars

When Crystal was 14-years old, a modelling scout saw her and told her she needed to lose a lot of weight (she was 5’9’’ and 165 lbs), but if she did, she could make it in the modelling world. Crystal decided this was what she wanted to do, and went down to 95 lbs before heading to New York City to seek out that scout and the Agency he was a part of. She suffered for three years with anorexia before she pulled herself together, only to become bigger, still (no pun intended!), in the plus-size modelling world (at a size 12 once her weight settled).

I thought this was really interesting. Horrifying how skinny she became. She did share photos in the book, as well. After her bout with anorexia, she seemed so much more positive about her body-image as a plus model. I did look her up online after, though, to see that she’s gone down a couple of sizes since. What an awful world that is, though – the fashion industry.

Jun 22, 2019, 8:57pm

>181 LibraryCin: It is indeed awful but most of us fall for whatever they want to sell however they want to sell it. Isn't it ridiculous that a plus size is a 12?

Jun 23, 2019, 12:45am

>182 clue: I know, I thought the same. Crystal also mentions that it's really an average size, but in the modelling world...

Jun 23, 2019, 6:13pm

12x12 KIT Challenges, AlphaKIT, Trim the TBR (Classic)

Victoria Victorious / Jean Plaidy
3.75 stars

This is a fictional biography of Queen Victoria. She had an unhappy childhood, but she married someone she loved (Albert), they had 9 children, who all lived.

This is a long book. It’s only the second book I’ve read on Queen Victoria, the first was only a month ago, and also written by Plaidy, but that one only included her childhood (there are sequels to that, so I will continue, but with larger gaps in between). Most of what I’ve read about British royalty was from the Tudors and earlier on, so 300+ years earlier. Some differences that happened in between included Royals being able to choose their spouses, and I found it interesting how much travel they did to see each other after Victoria’s children moved away to other countries. England now also had a Prime Minister, so decisions were not made by the monarchy, though they were discussed between the PM and the monarchy.

It was interesting to learn about Queen Victoria, as well as the different world that England had become over 300 years. I’m not sure, historically, how her husband, Albert, is regarded, but I was not a big fan, given how he’s described in this book. Victoria loved him, but I didn’t like him much. I found her family life (both as a child, and as an adult) more interesting than the politics in the book.

Jun 25, 2019, 10:04pm

12x12 CAT Challenges, CalendarCAT, PBT Horizons

Nights of Rain and Stars / Maeve Binchy
3.5 stars

Andreas owns a small cafe in a small town in Greece. He has a few tourists at his cafe when they watch, from a distance, a tourist boat go up in flames in the water. This brings them all together, as they get to know each other over the few days they spend in Aghia Anna. Irish nurse Fiona and her awful boyfriend Shane; beautiful blonde German tv personality Elsa; divorced American dad Thomas; young English man David. They all have their own secrets and issues, as do some of the townsfolk that they meet.

I love the title of the book! The book itself was enjoyable. There was one part of the ending I wasn’t too crazy about. I didn’t see it coming, and I definitely think I was picturing Thomas differently from how he was meant to be pictured!

Jun 28, 2019, 4:57pm

12x12 Nonfiction, Passport Challenge, AlphaKIT

An American Princess: the Many Lives of Allene Tew / Annejet van der Zijl
2.5 stars

Allene Tew was born in 1872 and lived till the mid-1900s. In that time, she married five times, had three children (who all died fairly young – one as a toddler, the other two were adults, but young), and became incredibly rich. She became a “princess” of the title when she married her… 4th (??) husband, a prince in Germany (??).

So, I think I just don’t tend to find rich people who don’t do a whole lot all that interesting. Much of the book focused on the people around her (which I’ve found with other biographies of historical women, as well), and because she married so many times, there were a lot of different people. After a while I had trouble keeping them all straight. I think the section on WWI was the most interesting to me, and maybe the rise of Hitler and WWII, as well. But that was more interest in the historical times than interest in Allene, herself.

Jun 30, 2019, 4:52pm

12x12 Oh Canada, RandomCAT, Trim the TBR (Classic)

Locavore: From Farmers' Fields to Rooftop Gardens... / Sarah Elton
4 stars

This looks at trying to eat locally in various parts of Canada. The first half of the book looks at agriculture and farming (the family farm, young farmers, organics, greenhouses), and the second half of the book moves into cities (urban farming, restaurants serving local, etc.)

Lots of people in lots of places across the country are doing things to try to make the world better by sourcing locally. It was interesting to learn about some of those different things. The author has a section at the end where she tries to help offer suggestions on what people can do/look for/ask if they want to move toward eating locally. She admits that she isn’t perfect about it, but really, every little bit helps. At the same time, once again, I wish I liked to cook or garden or both – would be really useful for my environmental sensibilities.

Jun 30, 2019, 8:36pm

>187 LibraryCin: Nice review, this looks interesting. I used to work in a library with a large rooftop garden and greenhouses. It was in Alberta so kept the library insulated but I'm not sure if it was a good idea or not!

You've had some good reading recently.

Enjoy Canada Day!

Jun 30, 2019, 11:25pm

>188 VivienneR: Ooooh, nice! Where in Alberta was it? (I'm in Calgary, but don't know of any rooftop gardens here, particularly on top of a library (I'm also a librarian!), but there are likely some I just don't know about!)

And thank you! Happy Canada Day to you, too!

Jul 2, 2019, 2:21am

12x12 Nonfiction, Travel Across Canada, CalendarCAT, AlphaKIT, Trim the TBR (Classic)

Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker-in-Training / Tom Jokinen
4 stars

What happens behind the scenes when someone dies until they “appear” at the funeral? The author looks at this, in addition to the business of being an undertaker, in all the historical changes – from burial to cremation… and still to come, green burials. He works with a family funeral home in Winnipeg where he learns all the different aspects of the business. He also heads to California, where he learns more about green burials (at the time of writing – this was published in 2010 – in Canada, the only place you could have a green burial was in Guelph, Ontario, and somewhere in BC was building someplace for it), then to Las Vegas for an undertaker trade show – see all the new and best in funerial apparel!!

I found this really interesting. Of course, there was a bit of humour thrown in here and there. In such a business, I think there needs to be!

Jul 2, 2019, 5:12pm

12x12 Series, SeriesCAT

Reached / Ally Condie
3 stars

This is the 3rd book in the Matched trilogy. Possible SPOILERS for the first two books… The Rising is taking over and is trying to cure all those who have become infected with the Society’s plague. Xander works as a medic, Ky as a pilot. Cassia is still working for the Society, as a sorter.

I take too long in between books to remember what happened previously; these books were not great for recapping, so I have to just try to pick up and figure out what’s going on. Once I did, it was ok. I listened to the audio and parts kept my interest and other parts didn’t, so I did miss some things, but was able to follow the gist of what was happening. I think I had a similar reaction to the 2nd book, but I decided to finish the trilogy, so now I have.

Jul 7, 2019, 5:17pm

12x12 Reading Through Time, CalendarCAT, Travel Across Canada, Trim the TBR (Classic), Reading Through Time

The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland / Jim DeFede
4.25 stars

Gander, Newfoundland has about 10,000 people. It was once a hub for airliners to stop to refuel, so it has lots of space for large aircraft. On 9/11, when the terrorists took down the Twin Towers in New York, air space in all of the United States was closed. Flights already in the air were ordered to land as soon as possible. 38 planes chose to, or were ordered to, land in Gander, adding 7,000 people in to the community who ended up staying for a few days before being able to get back on flights to continue on (or go back).

When Gander declared a state of emergency, people were housed at schools, churches, and anywhere else that had room, while flight crews took over all the hotel rooms. The people in Gander donated hours of their time, items from their homes, food, and places to stay for some of the stranded passengers. Friendships (and maybe even at least one romance) were formed.

The book was published in 2002, about a year after the events of the day. Some of the people the book followed included: a husband and wife returning from Kazakhstan with a little girl they’d just adopted; there was the parents of a missing firefighter in New York; there was royalty; there was a couple of higher-up people in well-known companies; there were a few Jewish people, in a town where most of the people had never met a Jewish person before, and more. I hadn’t thought about the animals that were on those planes, in the cargo hold!

I’m Canadian. I grew up in a small town, and can see people reacting as the people of Gander did, doing everything they could do to help. 9/11 itself is an emotional topic, though I have no close personal connections to New York. This was emotional, it made me feel proud to be Canadian, to read about everything the people in Gander had done.

I listened to the audio book, so I missed out on some photos that were included in the book. Overall, a really good (and emotional) account of what some of the people who were flying that day went through when they landed in a small isolated town in Eastern Canada.

Jul 8, 2019, 2:02am

12x12 Series, SeriesCAT, CalendarCAT

A Breath of Snow and Ashes / Diana Gabaldon
3.5 stars

Everyone is settled on Fraser’s Ridge in North Carolina. And more settlers are moving there. They are coming close to the date that Roger and Bree had seen as the date Claire and Jamie died in a fire. They are also coming close to the Revolutionary War/the War of Independence in the colonies.

To me, this one felt a bit like “filler” to get somewhere, but at the same time, it (mostly) kept my interest. A few big things happened as time went on, but much of it was day-to-day. Those big things picked the action up for a while as each one happened. Claire had an apprentice to help her out/someone to teach, which I liked. There was something missing (in my opinion) that I would have liked to have “seen” just before the epilogue. I thought maybe that would be part of the next books, but I guess not.

Jul 8, 2019, 7:18am

>192 LibraryCin: - I was planning to read tis last month for the Alpha Kit, but I never got to it. So it will have to wait a while longer.

Jul 8, 2019, 2:22pm

>194 dudes22: Enjoy it when you get there! It seems most people did, not just me! :-)

Jul 8, 2019, 2:44pm

>189 LibraryCin: It was at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. Unfortunately it wasn't open to visitors, but a research facility. :(

>192 LibraryCin: I wrote on the CAT thread about how much I too enjoyed The Day the World Came to Town. Until I read it, I hadn't thought about the difficulties a small host town would have providing clothing and food to travellers, some with only summer vacation clothing.

Jul 8, 2019, 5:08pm

>192 LibraryCin: - I'm a big fan of the book too! Such a moving story with lots of admirable people. If you get a chance to see the musical Come From Away, I highly recommend it. It really captures how wonderful the people in the town are.

Jul 12, 2019, 4:18pm

12x12 Oh Canada, CalendarCAT, Travel Across Canada

Who Has Seen the Wind / W.O. Mitchell
3 stars

Brian is a boy growing up in Saskatchewan in the 1930s. He lives with his parents, a younger brother, and his grandmother, whom he hates! The book starts when Brian is (I think) 4-years old and continues until he is 11 (I think).

It was ok. Pretty slow-moving, as nothing big really happens. It was just things that happened in his life as he was growing up. I grew up in Southern Sask (though in the 70s and 80s!), but “recognized” some of the small town prairie happenings (i.e. (sadly) kids trying to get gopher tails; luckily, I never saw it, just heard about it). Overall, it was ok.

Jul 14, 2019, 2:00am

12x12 CAT Challenges, SeriesCAT, TBRCAT, ScaredyKIT

The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll's House / Neil Gaiman
3.5 stars

Rose and her mother are flown to England and are in for a surprise when they arrive. Rose then heads back to the US to find her younger brother whom she hasn’t seen in seven years, since she was a teenager and he was only 5-years old. There is an odd convention happening.

Rose’s story was the most interesting storyline for me, though there a bit more going on in addition to her story and the convention. I reread my review for Vol. 1 and found that my favourite parts in that volume were also about the humans; I didn’t find the Sandman parts as interesting, though he does intersect with Rose’s story. On thinking back, I thought I had rated Vol. 1 lower than what I did. So, officially, I rated both volumes “good”, but I feel like I liked this one better, at least as compared to what I remember of the first one.

Jul 14, 2019, 2:17am

12x12 Series, SeriesCAT

Blue Moon / Alyson Noel
3.75 stars

****Possible SPOILERS for the first book****
Soul mates Ever and Damon are together and in love. All is going well, though Ever misses her family, and especially her sister, Riley.
But when Roman shows up at school and charms everyone, Ever can tell there is something “wrong” with him. What is he up to?

I thought this was good. Have to admit, I didn’t remember much of the first book at all. I think I read it fast (it’s YA), and it just slipped my memory, but it came back as I read this one. I thought it got better as it got to the end of the book, and I will definitely be continuing the series.

Jul 16, 2019, 1:49pm

12x12 Animals, Travel Across Canada, RandomCAT, TBRCAT, Trim the TBR (Classic)

Owls in the Family / Farley Mowat
3.75 stars

Billy has a collection of animals as pets, including gophers, snakes, rats… He and a couple of friends decide they want an owl, so go looking to steal one from a nest, but instead find an injured baby owl and bring him home. They later come across a second injured one, and bring him home for company for Wol, the first owl. The two owls are very different in personality, but they both seem to not realize they are owls who can fly and do other things owls can do.

This was so short; I wish it had been longer. I felt terrible when I thought Billy was going to bring home an owl by stealing it out of a nest! There were plenty of humourous stories about Wol and Weeps. I am curious if Mowat actually had owls as pets.

Jul 17, 2019, 12:42am

12x12 Trim the TBR, Trim the TBR (Classic), AlphaKIT, SeriesCAT

Page / Tamora Pierce
3.75 stars

This is the 2nd book in the series. Kel has completed her first year to learn to become a knight. She is the only girl, and was bullied and picked on in her first year. Now in her second year, she hires a shy, scared girl (by request of the girl’s uncle) to be a servant to her while she continues to train, along with her friends, and some of her tormentors are still around.

I really enjoyed this. I liked Kel and I liked her friends. I also liked her new servant Lalasa. This one went pretty fast, as it sped through all the remaining years of Kel’s training, so it might have been nice to get more detail as we went along, but I guess being a YA book, it was sped up a bit. It’s certainly a great series for young girls, with Kel being such a strong role model, herself. But, of course, I’m enjoying it, too!

Jul 17, 2019, 8:14am

>201 LibraryCin: I've only read one of Mowat's books before but am certainly on the lookout for more so thanks for this review.

Edited: Jul 19, 2019, 5:22pm

>203 AHS-Wolfy: This one is super-short, so it will be quick to read! I really like what I've read by Mowat, but of course he and I are both animal lovers, so... :-)

Jul 19, 2019, 5:22pm

12x12 Off the Shelf, Trim the TBR (Classic), PBT Trim the TBR

The Sixteen Pleasures / Robert Hellenga
3 stars

Margot is a book conservator and has headed to Florence, Italy to help restore some books after a flood in 1966. She ends up in a convent, helping the nuns with their library, where she finds a rare 17th century book with erotic poems and pictures. The nuns would like to sell the book and be able to use the money, but the books and the library are owned by the bishop and they know he won’t allow it.

This was ok. I found the book conservation parts of it interesting, but I really didn’t like Margot, nor any of the other characters, except for the nuns. It was a bit difficult to figure out right at the start, as it flipped back and forth in time and was a bit hard to tell where we were (in time), but that didn’t last long. It was pretty slow-moving, but it was ok. An author's note would have been nice.

Jul 22, 2019, 2:04am

12x12 Nonfiction, AlphaKIT, CalendarCAT, TBRCAT, Reading Through Time

Packing for Mars / Mary Roach
4 stars

In Mary Roach’s usual style, she takes a humourous look at NASA and space travel in this one, looking at some of the things that most of us just don’t think about when it comes to travelling in zero-gravity. She looks at using the “toilet”, eating, sex, throwing up, hygiene, and more.

This did, of course, include some history of space travel, as well. I hadn’t even realized when I started reading it a few days ago that the 50th anniversary of the walk on the moon was yesterday, while I was in the middle reading this – good timing for me! In the first chapter, it was interesting to read about how they made the flag “fly” (with no gravity!) on the moon, and also how to even pack it to bring with them, with the limited space available. There was one real transcript of three astronauts having a discussion when one of them noticed a “turd” flying in the air – omg, I couldn’t stop laughing and crying reading that transcript! Kept me from continuing to read for at least 5 minutes, if not more!! This, and “Stiff” are my favourites of the ones I’ve read by her so far.

Jul 22, 2019, 8:24am

>206 LibraryCin: sounds like a marvelous read, on my wish list it goes! And serendipitous as to timing!

Jul 22, 2019, 12:30pm

>206 LibraryCin: Hope you enjoy! Have you read others by her?

Jul 23, 2019, 1:21am

12x12 Off the Shelf, Trim the TBR (Classic), Travel Across Canada, CalendarCAT

The Blue Castle / L.M. Montgomery
4 stars

Valancy is turning 29 years old and is constantly reminded by her family that she is an old maid. She has always been a good, obedient daughter, but hates pretty much everything about her life with her family. She even wears only clothes her mother approves of and an old-fashioned hairstyle approved by her mother. When she receives some news, she finally stands up to her family and does things that she wants to do, just for herself.

I really liked this. I liked Valency, though I hated her awful family. I liked some of the other characters, as Valency gets to know them after her rebellion from her family. It’s frustrating, the lack of options for an unmarried woman during this time (the 1920s). It’s slow-moving, but I really enjoyed it.

Jul 23, 2019, 4:29pm

12x12 PBT, PBT, Trim the TBR (Classic)

Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson / Lyndsay Faye
2.5 stars

The title pretty much says it. This book has Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson looking into the Jack the Ripper murders.

I listened to the audio. I’m not sure if it was more the audio I wasn’t a fan of, or if I just don’t like Sherlock Holmes books (written by Conan Doyle OR by others). The audio didn’t help, anyway. I lost interest way too much. There were times here and there that I was paying attention; I think it depended what else I was doing at the time. In any case, I wasn’t a fan, though there were parts that were ok.

Jul 25, 2019, 5:10pm

12x12 Travel

The Storm Sister / Lucinda Riley
4 star

When six adopted sisters lose their father, he leaves with each of them a clue as to where they originally came from. Initially, Ally, the second oldest sister, decides she’s in a good place in her new relationship and doesn’t need to look into her family history - until tragedy strikes, and she decides to follow her father’s clues to Norway and her musical family’s history.

I really liked this one. The history of her family started in the 19th century, and included one generation living in Norway during the Nazi occupation during WWII. Initially I liked the family history story better than Ally’s present-day story, but I thought Ally’s story picked up as the book went on. Have to admit I really disliked one thing that happened at the start, but if it hadn’t happened that way, the rest of the story may not have worked the way it did. Also disliked something that happened in the 19th century storyline, but that was explained later on.

I like the way this series is being done, though I can see if being difficult to write. The books start off with the same event, but then go in different directions as each sister is followed in the separate books. The author has to keep the storylines and timing straight for all the sisters for when they intersect. There was an author’s note and a Q&A at the end, which looked at this a bit.

Jul 26, 2019, 9:13pm

>211 LibraryCin: - That sounds like a fascinating series. I’ll have to check out the first one.

Jul 27, 2019, 12:35am

>212 LittleTaiko: The first one is The Seven Sisters and, of course, follows the first sister, in her case to Brazil. I hope you enjoy it, if you give it a try!

Jul 28, 2019, 1:02am

12x12 Off the Shelf, AlphaKAIT, TBRCAT

Change of Heart / Jodi Picoult
4 stars

Shay is hired as a handyman around June’s house. When she comes home one day to find her young daughter and her husband murdered, Shay is charged, found guilty, and is the first person to be put on death row in the state in decades. In prison, it is noticed that he seems to be able to “do” things, magical sorts of things. He would also like to make amends the only way he can think of and donate his heart to June’s other daughter, who is in need of a transplant. Lawyer Maggie comes in to try to help grant Shay his wish, while priest Michael (who has a secret of his own in regards to Shay), comes in to counsel Shay.

There is a lot going on in this book, primarily religion and the death penalty. The story is told from four different points of view: June, Michael, Maggie and another prisoner, Lucius. I’m not religious myself, but did find some of the religion “debates” interesting; these mostly focused on the Gnostic Gospels, which I’d heard of, but didn’t know anything about. The “magic” portions reminded me a bit of “The Green Mile”, and in fact, one of the prisoners at one point nicknamed Shay “Green Mile”, which I did think was kind of a fun way to address that (not that it needed to be addressed, but…). At the same time, these events made the book less realistic for me. I still quite enjoyed it, though.

Aug 2, 2019, 11:14pm

12x12 Trim the TBR, Trim the TBR (Classic), SeriesCAT

Red Hood's Revenge / Jim C. Hines
3.25 stars

Roudette (aka Red Riding Hood) is an assassin who is coming after Talia (Sleeping Beauty), a princess of Arathea who has been exiled and is living in a neighbouring country with Danielle (Cinderella) and Snow (White).

There is a lot of fighting in this series. Yeah, kick-ass princesses are fun, but I have to admit, I tend to skim some of the fighting scenes. I briefly considered giving up on the series, but with only one book left, I think I might as well finish it off. I keep waffling between feeling like I liked it (3.5 stars) and feeling like it was ok (3 stars).

Aug 3, 2019, 12:25am

12x12 Travel, Passport Challenge

West of the Moon / Margi Preus
4 stars

Astri and her younger sister, Gerta, are living with their aunt and uncle in Norway after their mother has died and their father has gone to America. They are expecting him to send for them, but before that happens, Astri’s aunt and uncle sell her as a servant to a neighbour. While working there, she dreams of escape and running to America to find her dad.

I really enjoyed this. It’s a bit simple at times and seems easy to get out of some of her predicaments, but it’s a kid’s book, so I can look past that. There aren’t a lot of illustrations in the book, but I loved the ones that were there! It’s historical fiction (set in the mid-1800s), so it was nice to see that historical note at the end. She based it on a diary of her ancestors who came across the ocean from Norway – they had met a girl on her own, so this story was to make up why that girl might be on her own. The note also described some of the medical conditions in the book and how they would have been dealt with at that time.

Aug 5, 2019, 1:12am

12x12 Animals, TBRCAT

What Pet Should I Get? / Dr. Seuss
4 stars

This was a book that Dr. Seuss started, but never finished. It was found later and published in 2015. The main part of the book consists of two kids in a pet store, trying to pick out which pet to bring home, as they are only allowed one. The second part is a publisher’s note that addresses how the book was found and a bit more of the background, and also a bit about Dr. Seuss’s personal life (and pets!), along with photos.

I was going to give the book itself 3.5 stars (good). I was initially disheartened when they were in a pet store and not adopting from a rescue… then I had to remind myself that it was originally written decades ago. The publisher’s note did address this, to my relief. I also didn’t like the rhyming as much as his other books, as it didn’t seem to flow as well, in my opinion, but I upped the rating for all the extra, really interesting, information provided in the publisher’s note. The story itself – I did like the ending. Which pet did they get?

Aug 5, 2019, 1:32am

12x12 CAT Challenges, SeriesCAT

A Royal Pain / Rhys Bowen
4 stars

This is the second book in this series. Georgie is a cousin to the Prince of Wales, and is 34th in line to the throne. Unfortunately, she and her brother don’t have much money. Georgie has moved into the family home (castle?) in London, where she has had to learn life without a maid and servants. It hasn’t been easy for Georgie. Things get a bit more complicated when the queen asks Georgie to host visiting royalty from Germany; the queen hopes the German princess will catch the Prince of Wales’ eye. In any case, things take a turn when people seem to start dying around them.

I really enjoyed this. I think I liked it better than the first one (at least from what I remember, anyway). There are humourous, lighthearted moments in the books. Though I am not necessarily a fan of some of her rich friends, I do like Georgie, as she’s had to learn to be more self-sufficient.

Aug 5, 2019, 5:15pm

12x12 Audio, ScaredyKIT, AlphaKIT

The Night Sister / Jennifer McMahon
3.5 stars

Amy, Piper, and Margot were friends in the 1980s when they were young (Piper and Margot are also sisters); Jason was an outsider who was in love with Amy. Amy lived in a motel that had been in her family for a while. At that same motel in the 1950s, Amy’s mother, Rose, and Rose’s sister Sylvie grew up. Rose and Sylvie’s grandmother told them stories of “mares”, humans who changed into monsters, but their mother told them it was just her grandmother telling stories. At the same time, weird things happened at the motel… As adults, Amy is married and calls Jason (who is now married to Margot) in a panic to come talk to her; a week later, tragedy…

I listened to the audio, so that often has some influence. To be honest, I found the first half of the book a bit slow, and lost interest at times, but I did pick up most of what was going on. Half way through, the pace picked up for me, and for the last third, it was much more riveting, I thought. When I heard the twist at the end, I didn’t believe that could work from what had already been told in the story, so I thought re-listening (or reading) would be helpful to figuring it out, but ultimately, I think things did all get explained. Overall, I’m rating it “good”, averaging out the slowness of the start, with the fast-pace of the end.

Aug 6, 2019, 12:27am

12x12 Oh Canada, CalendarCAT, Trim the TBR (Classic), Travel Across Canada

A Geography of Blood / Candace Savage
4 stars

This starts off as a memoir. The author and her husband come across the town of Eastend, Saskatchewan, near Cypress Hills on their travels back home to Saskatoon from the U.S. They initially stayed for 2 weeks on vacation, but were drawn to the town enough to buy a house and live there part-time. While there, the author wrote about the landscape, the dinosaur history and the T-Rex Centre that is there, then started looking into the more recent history of the First Nations people who were there, but were driven off the land in the late 19th century once the white settlers started arriving. The last half of the book looks at the First Nations history of the area.

I probably would have given this 3.5 stars (good), except that I grew up only a couple of hours from Eastend, and have been there a few times. I can picture Eastend, the T-Rex Centre, Cypress Hills, the surrounding land, the ghost towns nearby that were mentioned... I’m sure I also once (though I didn’t remember it) learned the history of Chimney Coulee and the Cypress Hills Massacre. I’m pretty sure I’ve been to Chimney Coulee and can also picture that in my head. Good book, sad stuff about the First Nations people and everything that happened, but important to learn about.

Aug 11, 2019, 2:31am

12x12 KIT Challenges, AlphaKIT, PBT Horizons

A Town Like Alice / Nevil Shute
3.5 stars

Jean is in her 20s when she is left an inheritance by an uncle she never knew; she is his only descendant. But, he didn’t trust women to take care of money, so it was left in a trust with the lawyer, Noel, until Jean turns 35. Noel gets to know Jean quite well and learns of her history as a prisoner of war in Malaya (Singapore) with other women and children who were forced to march on and on and on because there was no actual prison for them. Many died in the travels. Along the way, Jean met an Australian prisoner.

It was good. Odd point of view, told from Noel’s POV, though Jean was the main character, so it was pretty much her story told by him, but at a distance. There was racism (a heck of a lot to our 21st century eyes and ears), sexism, and the end, I thought, was pretty implausible. I don’t want to say too much, but Jean single-handedly doing as much as she did? I doubt it. Despite all that, though, it was a good story. The author’s note at the end was interesting – the prisoner march of women and children really did happen.

Aug 11, 2019, 11:57pm

12x12 PBT, PBT

Hold Tight / Harlan Coben
2011 review:
4.25 stars

Mike and Tia decide to put spy software on their 16-year old son's (Adam's) computer after he starts acting oddly, a few months after one of his best friends committed suicide. Adam appears to have some kind of secret... a big one. In the meantime, women are disappearing and being murdered. And much more...

Another very good book by Coben, although I didn't like it nearly as much as The Woods. He brought back a few of the characters from The Woods. As a Canadian, I did like the hockey references. Coben does a very good job of bringing together all the characters and various storylines going on in the book.

2019 Reread:
4 stars
Once again, I really liked this. It’s been long enough since I read this the first time that I really didn’t remember anything. Although some things came back to mind as I was reading them, any twists and turns were a surprise to me again this time around. There were a lot of characters, a lot going on, but I found the characters fairly easy to follow who was who. A drawback to writing about technology – already some of it has been surpassed by more technology!

Aug 14, 2019, 8:59pm

12x12 Audio, RandomCAT, Trim the TBR (Classic)

Silver Sparrow / Tayari Jones
3.5 stars

Dana’s mother was married to her father, but only after he’d also married someone else. He wasn’t divorced; he was a bigamist. Dana and her mother knew this, as James lived with his other wife and daughter. But James’ other wife and daughter didn’t know about Dana and Gwen. Set mostly during the 1980s, we follow Dana in the first half of the book, as she struggles with why Chaurisse (James’ other daughter) always has first choice for everything, over Dana and his secret family. Dana and Chaurisse are the same age and Dana can’t help but be curious about her sister. The second half of the book is told from Chaurisse’s point of view.

I listened to the audio and it was good; the audio kept my attention. There was a separate narrator for each of the sisters. To be honest, I really don’t have a lot to say about this one, except I can’t say that I liked James much.

Aug 17, 2019, 1:46am

12x12 Series, SeriesCAT

Blackout / Connie Willis
4.5 stars

In 2060, time travel has been invented and is “regulated”. Historians are able to travel back in time to what they are studying, knowing that the laws of time travel will prevent them from changing anything, but they will be able to experience what they are studying first-hand! (I love this entire concept!)

Three historians are travelling back to 1940 in England. Polly is headed to London during the Blitz; Merope/Eileen heads to the countryside outside London, where she is able to work with and study some of the children who were evacuated from London. Mark is travelling back as an American reporter; he will also be outside London. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for them to realize something has gone wrong, and they are having trouble getting back when they should…

The start of this one was a bit confusing, but what was going on (the historians were being shuffled about with regards to the dates they would be leaving and the exact places they’d be travelling to) was also confusing for the characters. As a reader, I was trying to remember some of the characters from previous books, the terminology of the time travel, and get back into how it all works.

There were a lot of characters to introduce, as well, with multiple historians going back in time. However, once things got going, they really got going, at least for me. I didn’t want to stop reading; I wanted to just keep going to find out what happened. I really liked some of the “contemps” (the contemporary people living in their time) – I especially loved the actor Polly met. Luckily, I had seen somewhere ahead of time that this book does not conclude; it is continued in the next book, so I’m going to want to get to that sequel fairly soon.

Aug 19, 2019, 2:45pm

>224 LibraryCin: Yay, glad you enjoyed this one! I really liked it and the second book, All Clear, as well -- I think of them as one book in multiple volumes, much like The Lord of the Rings.

Aug 19, 2019, 9:58pm

>225 christina_reads: The trick, now, will be to figure out when I can fit it in! Though, despite the length of "Blackout", I went though it quite quickly!

Aug 19, 2019, 10:56pm

12x12 KIT Challenges, AlphaKIT, TBRCAT

Into the Water / Paula Hawkins
4 stars

There’s a body of water that has been claiming women’s lives for centuries. In 2015, within a few months, 15-year old Lena’s best friend Katie, then Lena’s mom, both end up in that water. It appears to be suicide for both. Lena’s mom, Nel, has been writing about the deaths and that water. Nel was estranged from her younger sister, Jules, who has now come to look after the niece she’s never met.

It started off a bit slow, but I thought it picked up as it went on. A bit confusing, especially at the start, with not only a lot of characters, but each chapter being told from someone else’s viewpoint. Of course, it wasn’t a different character for every chapter all the way through, but it was difficult to get used to who was who at the start, and it seemed more so with the differing viewpoints, but it might just have been the number of characters overall. The chapters are short, which helps it feel faster to read. In any case, I quite liked it in the end. A few twists, but not too many, mostly at the very end.

Aug 21, 2019, 10:04pm

12x12 Audio, Trim the TBR (Classic)

The Last Olympian / Rick Riordan
2.5 stars

I can’t summarize the plot very well, because I missed much of it. I do know that there is some kind of prophecy, something that’s supposed to happen to Percy, or something that Percy’s supposed to do when he’s 16 (maybe both) - I think it’s something dangerous. His 16th birthday is coming real soon.

I wanted to give this 3 stars (ok), but I listened to the audio, and the audios of these books just don’t hold my attention, though I caught some things here and there. From what I gathered there was lots of fighting, but hard to pick out a plot. Or, maybe that’s the idea? I wish I had looked back at my reviews for the other books in the series for that reminder to not listen to the audios. I do (kind of) know how it wrapped up – at least some of the things that happened at the end with Percy’s friends, and an agreement made with the gods.

I see that the series continues with a focus on the Camp for the demi-gods. Might be more interesting; I’m not sure, but I’m thinking it’s just not worthwhile for me to continue. Oh, and I still only ever think of a cute blue Muppet every time I hear the name “Grover”! And shoot, now that I’ve actually read the plot summary, I feel like I should lower my rating to 2 stars because I caught so little of that…

Aug 24, 2019, 12:53am

12x12 PBT, PBT

iGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids are Growing up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy... / Jean M. Twenge
3.5 stars

The author is a psychologist who studies and compares generations. She calls the youngest generation “iGen”: this generation was born in 1995 and later, and they have only ever known a life with the Internet, and for many, smartphones. In this book, she looks at how the internet and social media (“new media” vs “old media” (tv, radio)) have affected them and their mental health. She also looks at communication, religion, politics, sex and dating, work and college, racism, and more. She believes that iGen is taking a much longer time to grow up; they have extended their childhoods.

Her previous book, Generation Me, looked at Millenials and I found it very interesting. Ditto for this one. I don’t have kids, but I still found this fascinating (and in some cases, horrifying – those “safe spaces” on college campuses? For anything that might offend anyone!). She includes a lot of statistics in the book; I like that she is able to compare the generations, but when all the generations were teens and young adults, due to surveys that have been done since the 1970s.

She also includes a lot of graphs, which are hard to read on my small Kobo screen, so print might be a better way to go if you want to look at the graphs. In addition to the statistics, though, she has done a lot of interviews, so she can take some of the stories from the interviews to highlight some of the findings from the stats (or show other perspectives) – the stats are averages. Overall, it’s a very interesting book.

Aug 24, 2019, 1:10am

12x12 CAT Challenges, RandomCAT, Trim the TBR (Classic)

The Julian Chapter: a Wonder Story / R.J. Palacio
3.5 stars

It’s been a few years since I read “Wonder”, but I really liked it. This is one of the shorter spin-offs, told from Julian’s point of view. Julian was the main bully toward Auggie, the boy who came to school with a severely disfigured face. We get to see a bit of Julian’s home life, and his possible motivation for the bullying.

I liked this. Seeing part of Julian’s home life included a visit to his grandmother in Paris, and I loved her story.

Aug 27, 2019, 10:28pm

12x12 Trim the TBR, Trim the TBR (Classic), PBT Trim the TBR

Goodnight Nobody / Jennifer Weiner
4 stars

Kate is a mom of three, living in the suburbs and feeling like she just doesn’t live up to the other moms, and none of them are interested in being friends with her. She misses her best friend Janie from when they lived in New York City; luckily, “Aunt” Janie comes to visit fairly often. When one of the other local moms (Kitty) invites Kate over to talk about something, Kate instead stumbles upon Kitty’s dead body in the kitchen, with a knife sticking out of her back. Kate and the other moms are worried when the police aren’t finding who did it. Kate, having a reporter background, decides to do some digging herself. While digging, Kate also learns that Kitty was in touch with an old crush of Kate’s in New York, and the digging brings them together.

I really enjoyed this. The ex-flame helping out makes for a slightly more interesting investigation. After taking a peek at some of the other reviews, I had no problem with Kate! I guess I “get” her infatuation with her former crush (though I am not married, so…), and I don’t have kids, so the fact that she wasn’t terribly happy with her current situation didn’t really bother me. In any case, I really enjoyed the story!

Aug 28, 2019, 10:27pm

12x12 Off the Shelf, RandomCAT, AlphaKIT

The Long Winter / Laura Ingalls Wilder
4.5 stars

The Ingalls family has come to the Dakotas and is homesteading there. When there are early signs of a really bad winter, Pa decides they should move into town and live in their store, which is better insulated against the cold to come. This turns out to be a good choice, as this particular winter turns out to have blizzard after blizzard after blizzard hit, with few breaks in between. Due to all the blizzards, trains can’t get through to bring additional supplies – food, coal (for heat), etc.

I love these books! The series is so much fun to reread. This one, I thought, was so good at describing/capturing the cold of the prairie winters. I grew up on the Canadian Prairies and it can be cold. Of course, we are now very lucky to have the heating we do. I can’t imagine that kind of cold inside the house or the isolation they would have felt at the time, as well, with the trains not able to get to them! This really is an amazing series.

Aug 30, 2019, 9:48pm

12x12 Audio, RandomCAT

Heidi / Johanna Spyri
3.5 stars

5-year old Heidi, an orphan, has been raised by her aunt since she was a baby, but now Heidi’s aunt feels that it’s time Heidi went to live with her grandfather on a mountain in the Swiss Alps. Heidi loves the mountain and the goats who belong to the goatherd neighbour, Peter. Heidi, later, is recruited to go to Frankfurt to be a companion to Clara, who is in a wheelchair. But, oh, she misses her mountain and her grandfather so much!

I remember that I read this as a child, and I loved it! I didn’t remember much about it, except that Heidi lived with her grandfather on a mountain. I remembered nothing else (until the characters were introduced: oh, yeah – Peter the goatherd and Clara, the girl in a wheelchair!). I started off thinking I’d rate this read of it (an audio) 4 stars, I decided on 3.5 (good). I suspect it might have been better to read it, rather than listen; however, fond memories remain. I did enjoy the reminder of what actually happened in the book (although it does seem I missed bits and pieces, here and there – I suspect I wouldn’t have if I’d not listened to the audio).

Aug 31, 2019, 9:43am

>232 LibraryCin: That is my favorite Ingalls-Wilder book

>233 LibraryCin: That is actually on my TBR pile for this year. A re-read of about 40 years ago!

Aug 31, 2019, 1:51pm

>234 Tess_W: I'm guessing it might be been 40 (or close to) years ago read for me, originally, as well! I hope you enjoy!

Sep 1, 2019, 2:15am

12x12 Overflow

Kindred / Octavia Butler
2011 read: 4.5 stars

Dana is a 26-year old black woman married to a white man, Kevin. It is 1976. Suddenly, Dana finds herself on a slave plantation in the early 1800s. How did she get here and how does she get home again? Dana is pulled back and forth in time for varying amounts of time as she tries to figure out what's going on. She seems drawn to a white boy, Rufus, son of the plantation owner. Each time Dana is pulled back in time, she learns more and more about how to literally survive in this time, all the while witnessing and being right in the middle of, the horrors of slavery.

This was really good. I was drawn in right away and when I wasn't reading, I wanted to be. One thing that hadn't occurred to me until I was reading about that part was fitting back in to modern-day society after having been in such a radically different time and place for so long. The descriptions of the treatment of the slaves was horrifying and brought it all terrifyingly to life. This is one that did live up to the hype for me, and it will make my favourites list this year.

2019 reread: 5 stars

It’s not very often that a reread will result in a higher rating from me, but this one has. Maybe I’m just in a higher-rating mood, but wow! Warning: there is a lot of violence in this book, but I feel like that was the reality of slavery. And for a “modern-day” (from the 1970s, when the book was first written) woman to experience it… wow!

I read the 25th anniversary edition of the book (I’m pretty sure the same as I read last time), and I’m going to venture a guess (though it’s more tongue-in-cheek; I don’t really think this is why) that I docked the ½ star due to the boring, academically-written Reader’s Guide – it was kind of like an introduction or afterword to a classic (though I was glad it was in there after the book, not as an introduction – I hate those, since they usually give away some of what happens in the book!).

Sep 2, 2019, 3:14pm

12x12 Animals, Travel Across Canada

The Accidental Veterinarian: Tales from a Pet Practice / Philipp Schott
4 stars

The author is a veterinarian in Manitoba, and this is a memoir of how he became a vet, as well as anecdotes of his practice, including not only the pets/animals he sees, but also the people and behind the scenes, as well. It was originally written as a series of blog posts (or most of the stories, anyway).

I found this really interesting; in addition to the animal stories, he discusses things like costs, diseases, etc. He gives tips on dealing with your vet, as well as dealing with your pet (i.e. giving a pill to your cat!). He also talks about the people he sees. Because it’s written in short “essays”, it moves from one topic to the next quickly, but that didn’t really bother me. I really enjoyed this!

Sep 3, 2019, 11:11pm

12x12 Oh Canada, PBT Trim, Classic Trim, Travel Across Canada, PBT

Upstream / Sharon Butala
3.5 stars

Chloe is ½ French and ½ English, and she grew up in Saskatchewan. When her husband heads to Scotland to work on his PhD, she discovers he has been having an affair. Not knowing what to do about her marriage, she travels for a bit with a friend, then heads to her father’s French town in Sask. for a while. While there, she learns about being French in Saskatchewan and comes across her grandmother’s diary.

Unfortunately, there were no likable characters in this book. That almost brought my rating down to 3 stars (ok). However, I got much more interested in the second half of the book when Chloe started reading her grandmother’s diary – about having to move from Quebec to Saskatchewan and starting over in an English province (though in a French town). I am not French, but I grew up in a small, primarily French, town in Saskatchewan, so I found this really interesting: the history of the Fransaskois (French-Saskatchewanians). The town this was set in was not near the town I grew up in, but it was close to Batoche, famous for the battle during the Rebellion where Louis Riel was defeated.

Sep 6, 2019, 10:02pm

12x12 PBT, PBT, PBT Horizons, Travel Across Canada, Trim the TBR (Classic)

Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes / Kamal Al-Solaylee
4 stars

The author was born in Yemen in the 1960s. He was the youngest of 11 siblings and was only 3 years old when the family moved to Beirut (Lebanon), then not long after, they moved to Cairo (Egypt), where he spent his years growing up, and figuring out that he was gay. Most of the family eventually headed back to Yemen, but long before then, Kamal knew he had to get out of the Middle East. He yearned to go to England or the US, where he felt he would be able to be himself and not hide. He managed a scholarship to study in England, and from there, he eventually made his way to Canada.

This covered the 1960s (when the people of Yemen and Egypt were relatively free and not so constrained by religion) up to and including 2011. As Kamal yearned to leave, he hated to leave his mother and sisters behind, the way women were being treated by the time he got out. Some of his brothers had gone fervently religious, too much for Kamal’s liking. He tried to not look back on his life there, and even speaking to his family was difficult, as he was still hiding who he really was and it reminded him of how bad things were in the country he was born in. As things got worse in the Middle East, and in Yemen in particular with a civil war happening in 2011, he did seek out news from home.

This was really good. It was also very interesting, to read the cultural differences between the Middle Eastern countries he lived in and the Western countries. As a Canadian myself, it was really nice to see how accepted he was in Canada (Toronto, though I am from the West), regardless of his nationality and his sexual orientation. Completely not book-related, but as someone who has taken bellydance classes off and on, I had to take a brief break from reading to look up a famous Egyptian bellydancer his father hired to perform at one of his sisters’ weddings.

Sep 9, 2019, 10:40pm

12x12 Nonfiction, RandomCAT, Classic Trim the TBR

The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light / Paul Bogard
4 stars

The author of this book travels to various places around the world – some are the brightest places and some are the darkest places. He is trying to find the best ways to get back to some natural darkness, and not let light pollution take over our world.

There is a scale to measure darkness (from 1-9, 1 being the darkest), and I liked that he numbered his chapters in reverse, as he started at the brighter places (Las Vegas, brightest in the world! And Paris, City of Lights), and made his way to darker places, as he continued on. He not only discussed the light or darkness of each place, and of course, the resulting lack of stars that can be seen, he also talked about crime (some light helps, but more and more light doesn’t make a difference), and also the effect of perpetual light at night on humans’ health, not just due to sleepyness for those who work at night, but also cancer. Of course, there was discussion of other animals, as well, who rely on night and darkness.

I found this very interesting. I love looking at the stars and miss being in a rural area in order to actually see the stars (or more than the very few I can see in the city I now live in). I love to be out at my parents’ cabin in the summers when I visit, and I can see the Milky Way and pick out so many constellations when I’m out there.

Sep 9, 2019, 10:43pm

>240 LibraryCin: Oh that sounds like a lovely book! On my wishlist it goes!

Sep 9, 2019, 11:03pm

>241 Tess_W: I really hope you enjoy it!

Sep 9, 2019, 11:04pm

12x12 Travel, TBRCAT

Kim / Rudyard Kipling
1.5 stars

Kim is an orphan. Apparently, this is 19th century India. This is all I know.

What’s a baboo? What’s a lama? (I know Dalai Lama is a title, but I still don’t know what a lama is.) Mack Boob. Mack Bow Valley (or Mack Bow Bally?) - these are what might have been names (or what sounded like it on the audio). Thou and thee. I heard these words over and over. Beyond that, nothing registered. It just didn’t interest me enough to keep my attention… not even a little bit. I did catch, at the very start, that Kim was an orphan. That’s it. That’s all I know. It got an extra .5 because I didn’t hate it. I didn’t hate it because I wasn’t paying attention. Hate is strong.

Sep 10, 2019, 7:17am

>240 LibraryCin: - I'll be taking a BB for this. I remember being in Mexico a number of years ago and really seeing the Milky Way. Fabulous.

Sep 10, 2019, 9:57am

>240 LibraryCin: I'll read this too, so glad to be aware of it. I looked at it on Amazon and the author is someone I want to follow.

Sep 10, 2019, 7:59pm

>244 dudes22: and >245 clue: I hope you both enjoy! I haven't read anything else by him, but a couple of titles were mentioned at the end of this one. I might try one of the others.

Sep 11, 2019, 4:51pm

The End of Night sounds really interesting.

Sep 16, 2019, 10:43pm

12x12 KIT Challenges, ScaredyKIT, AlphaKIT

What the Night Knows / Dean Koontz. 4.5 stars
4.5 stars

When John was a kid, his entire family was murdered. He killed the murderer. His family was the last of four families to be murdered at the time. John is now married with kids of his own and is a cop. 20 years later and another family is murdered, seemingly by the 14-year old son. But there are too many similarities to the first of the four family murders 20 years earlier for there to be a coincidence…

I really liked this. It drew me in immediately. It did slow down in the middle (but in part, I also think that’s because I had shorter amounts of time that I could sit and read; I would have liked to sit for longer periods of time for this book), and it picked up again at the end. It is horror, it is violent. I found many parts of it, especially at the start, very creepy (which I love, but wasn’t great to be reading right before bed, which I mostly was for this one!). Definitely creepy...

Sep 16, 2019, 11:13pm

12x12 PBT, PBT, PBT Horizons

Homes: A Refugee Story / Abu Bakr al Rabeeah & Winnie Leong
4 stars

Abu Bakr (or Bakr) was born in Iraq and his family (mom, dad, 5 sisters, 2 brothers + extended family) moved to Syria when he was 9 years old in 2010. Not long after, a civil war started, so the family was living with gun fire, bombs, and raidings on a regular basis. They had to always carry their id with them. Their father, in the meantime, was working on getting the entire family out of the country as refugees, but this took 4 long years. Bakr enlisted the help of one of his English teachers after he and his family arrived in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada to help him write his story.

What a scary way to live. And I’m impressed that a still young boy (17 years old when this was published) managed to get this story out there and so well-received. His teacher, the woman who helped him write the book, also talked to the rest of his family for their perspective on the stories he told. She also confirmed the real events that he told her about.

Learned about something I didn’t think about with refugees – how lonely it is. At least for Bakr and his family; the extended family did not come with them to Canada, and they had such a large space that they weren’t used to. His friends (and cousins) were still back in Syria, and it was (of course) very difficult for them all with the language barrier when they first arrived.

Sep 17, 2019, 2:54pm

BBs taken for Packing for Mars, Blackout, Intolerable and The End of Night - you're reading a lot of good books!

Sep 17, 2019, 3:21pm

>250 LisaMorr: Thank you! Yes, I have been lately!

I hope you enjoy the ones you've picked out!

Sep 17, 2019, 10:26pm

>239 LibraryCin: This was a book that I'd enjoyed very much too, and it made me appreciate the diversity of Toronto more. One of the saddest parts, to me, was how the lives of the author's sisters changed over the years.

Sep 17, 2019, 11:19pm

>252 mathgirl40: Yes, I agree. Very sad for those girls/women.

Sep 20, 2019, 11:02pm

12x12 Reading Through Time, Reading Through Time, AlphaKIT, Trim the TBR (Classic)

The Personal History of Rachel Dupree / Ann Weisgarber
3.5 stars

Rachel is a black woman who married Isaac, on a deal to get land in South Dakota. Fourteen years later and five kids with one more on the way (and two in the ground), and they are suffering the worst drought, and don’t know how they will survive. It’s 1917, as they struggle, and it’s even more difficult due to being the only black family for miles.

This was good. They may have been the only black family, but there were “Indians” nearby; Isaac hates the Indians, so Rachel took her cue from her husband (though she would need the help of one of the women later on). I especially liked the way it ended, and would love for there to be a sequel, as I’d love to know what happens next!

Sep 20, 2019, 11:21pm

12x12 Nonfiction, Trim the TBR (Classic)

A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy / Sue Klebold
4 stars

Sue Klebold was Dylan Klebold’s mother. Dylan was one of the two Columbine High School shooters in April 1999. He and his friend Eric killed 15 people (14 students and 1 teacher) and injured 24 others in their rampage before shooting themselves. Sue has had to figure out how to deal with the fact that, not only did her son kill himself, he killed and hurt others before he did it. She was blindsided. The parents were often blamed; there were lawsuits. I listened to the audio, which she narrated herself.

She starts off the day it happened. She and her husband, Tom, knew there was a shooting at school, but knew nothing else (for sure) until late that evening. They were kept out of their house while the police searched, meanwhile not knowing if Dylan was alive, and only going on rumors that Dylan was involved somehow. Coming to terms with the aftermath took a long time. The son she knew and raised was not someone who could have done such a thing. Obviously, Dylan hid his troubles well. Though the book started off well for me, and most of the book continued that way, the very end lagged a bit. Sue does work now, trying to help people see the signs of suicide and to be able to see the difference between normal teenage behaviour and potential suicidal behaviour – have to admit that that’s where I wasn’t quite as interested.

Sep 21, 2019, 8:59am

>255 LibraryCin: I read this just a couple of months ago. From an educator standpoint, I was blown away at the signs that were ignored. Firstly, he and his friend made a video where they shot up the school and they played it in class. The teacher's comment was "That's good in a gruesome way." The teacher did report it to the school psychologist who said not to worry...and the parents saw it also and thought it just a story. When Sue Klebold says "Love is not enough," she is so right. I do feel sorry that she is still viciously verbally attacked when people see her. I also liked the fact that monies made from this book go directly to those who need mental health care.

Sep 21, 2019, 2:21pm

>256 Tess_W: Yes, I like that the profits from the sale of this are going to try to help others.

Sep 22, 2019, 4:47pm

12x12 Travel

The Perfect Nanny / Leila Slimani
3.5 stars

When Myriam decides it’s time to head back to work (after having two children, Mila and Adam), she and her husband, Paul, hire a nanny. Louise seems perfect. She’s not only great with the kids, but she stays late, cooks, and cleans, too! But something goes very wrong.

So, the first chapter started with (first chapter, not a spoiler) discovering the murdered children, then backs up to see how we got to this point. I found the writing a bit stilted. Now, this is a translation, so that could be the culprit. I didn’t like any of the characters (though I felt badly for the kids). I was actually waffling between 3.5 and 4 stars, but the end pulled it down without a doubt. It didn’t completely seem to finish, or if it did, I didn’t get it. Now, from my review, even 3.5 might seem a bit high rating, but I was interested to find out what happened (sadly, the end let me down).

(Now that I’ve written my review, I’ve read a few others, and I feel like lowering my rating because obviously other people were seeing things in the book and in Louise that I just didn’t!)

Sep 23, 2019, 10:28pm

12x12 Series, AlphaKIT, CalendarCAT

Fables, Vol. 21. Happily Ever After / Bill Willingham
3.5 stars

******Possible SPOILER for earlier volumes*******
Bigby is back (sort of) but on a rampage.
******END SPOILER******
Magic is no longer concealing Fabletown (and, in particular, a castle) from the residents of New York City. We are gearing up for a battle between the sisters, Snow White and Rose Red.

Well, I wouldn’t say this lives up to “happily ever after”! There is one more volume to go. As usual, there are lots of different stories going on in this one volume, so I enjoyed some stories better than others. I found one story particularly interesting, as we learn of Snow and Rose’s mother’s story (which extends to their own story). We even had a couple of surprising deaths in this one. Not my favourite, but still a good volume in the series.

Sep 28, 2019, 12:52am

12x12 CAT Challenges, TBRCAT, Trim the TBR (Classic)

Cannery Row / John Steinbeck
3.25 stars

Cannery Row is a community and this tells the story of the people in that community, including a Chinese grocer, a marine biologist, and others. (Somehow I missed – until I read summaries after – that everyone in this community is poor; I guess, thinking back, there were plenty of opportunities to see that, but it just didn’t completely register for me.)

Much of the first… half?… of the book was introducing characters. It got better once the characters were introduced and there was a bit of a storyline. The boys all seemed to like to party and didn’t seem to care what got broken. It was kind of entertaining for the last half once a few things actually happened.

Sep 28, 2019, 1:13am

12x12 Off the Shelf, CalendarCAT

Every Note Played / Lisa Genova
4 stars

Richard is a famous concert pianist and, in his mid-40s, has been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gherig’s Disease). He starts off by losing the use of his right hand, and has lost “only” (only in comparison to what’s to come) this (so far) when his ex-wife, Karina, learns of his diagnosis. Karina might have also become a famous pianist, if not for her marriage and the arrival of their (now college-aged) daughter, Grace.

What a horrible disease. I can’t even imagine living on my own (as I do) and having to face, little by little, every step that happens with this degenerative disease. And at the same time, completely losing one’s independence. It’s a scary thought – what would I do without someone to care for me, to help me, if it happened to me? At the start, Richard does live alone and has only the help of a few home-care workers, whom he can only afford for about 4 hours per day. I loved one of these workers in the story, though – Bill. These are amazing people, those who care for the terminally ill, and with diseases where bit-by-bit, someone else needs to help with every single thing. And to go through it all, over and over again, with different people.

Have to admit, though, that I didn’t (at least for the first bit of the book) like either Richard or Karina. Of course, we learn more about them, their relationship, their histories, and how they ended up where they are as the story goes on.

Hard to imagine it being me… hard to imagine it being a loved one… even hard to think about those amazing people who look after those with ALS day after day, even if not a loved one, but to help multiple people and go through it with each of them over and over.

Sep 29, 2019, 11:46pm

12x12 Reading Through Time, Reading Through Time

The Garden of Ruth / Eva Etzioni-Halevy
3.5 stars

Osnath has come to Bethlehem at 15-years old and falls for two brothers, Eliab and David. While there, she is intrigued by the mystery surrounding Eliab and David’s ancestor (and I think, also in some way, her own ancestor), Ruth. It takes her a while to uncover Ruth’s story, while she is torn between the two men.

So, this is about the Biblical Ruth, and how her story may have come to be written. Actually, the first half of the book mostly focuses on Osnath, and the second half on Ruth. I don’t know the Bible – even less the Old Testament – but I did recognize a few names: Ruth; Samuel, a prophet; David (though I didn’t recognize him until Goliath was mentioned!). There were probably a few others. I didn’t remember it, but Osnath’s grandmother, Pninah, is one of the main characters in The Song of Hannah, also written by Etzioni-Halevy.

Anyway, I thought this was good, both women’s stories. A lot of jumping in between men’s beds (for both Osnath and Ruth!), though not in detail, but the story was still interesting. As always, I appreciate the historical note that was added in at the end.

Oct 6, 2019, 5:20pm

12x12 Reading Through Time, Reading Through Time, SeriesCAT

All Clear / Connie Willis
4 stars

In this continuation of “Blackout”, it picks up exactly where the first book leaves off.
******POSSIBLE SPOILERS for “Blackout”******

Eileen, Polly and Mike have found each other in London in 1941 during the Blitz. They are still trying to figure out how to get back home to 2060, since their drops won’t open.

It is coming close to the time where Polly won’t know where and when the bombs are landing, and after that, things will be far more dangerous for them. In addition, Polly has a deadline. One of her earlier assignments had her travel back to VE-Day in 1945, so her 1941 self has to be gone so there is no overlap.

It has only been a couple of months, I think, since I read “Blackout”, so the events weren’t too far away in my head. However, the first 1/3 of the book or so wasn’t as interesting as it got to be later in the book. Have to admit, for how much I disliked Alf and Binnie, they were some good comic relief, at times! Still loved Sir Godfrey. I liked how the book wrapped up, though I was still left with one question from one hint of something at the very end, so I’m not quite sure I understood that one little bit. Didn’t like this one quite as much as the first, though. Still, overall, really liked it.

Oct 7, 2019, 10:19pm

12x12 Audio, SeriesCAT (Sept)

Strawberry Shortcake Murder / Joanne Fluke
3 stars

This is the second book in the series. Hannah is involved in a tv “bake off” when one of the judges is murdered. Since the judge was abusive toward his wife, Hannah’s friend, it appears that the wife did it, but Hannah wants to prove that her friend is innocent.

I listened to the audio, and overall, I’d say it was ok. To be honest, nothing was super-appealing about this one, and I think I’ll probably stop the series here. Nothing was really wrong with it, either, but just not appealing enough for me to keep going.

Oct 7, 2019, 10:43pm

12x12 Oh Canada, SerieCAT, RandomCAT, PBT, Trim the TBR (Classic)

Vanishing Girl / Shane Peacock
3 stars

A young Sherlock Holmes wants to prove himself worthy of one day working for Scotland Yard, so he sets out to solve the kidnapping of a young rich girl. In doing so, he is also in a race to beat his rival for Irene Doyle’s affections, the young criminal, Malefactor, who Irene has also tasked with solving the crime.

This was ok. It’s another series where I think I will not continue with, though. There were interesting parts, but overall not enough to keep my interest throughout, nor enough to make me want to pick up the next book.

Oct 13, 2019, 2:02am

12x12 PBT, PBT, AlphaKIT

The Cuckoo's Calling / Robert Galbraith
3.5 stars

Strike is a Private Investigator, and not doing well. He and his fiancee have split up and he is sleeping at the office… the office where he is at a point where he may not be able to make any more payments to keep it open. On the same day the temp secretary, Robin, walks in (by mistake, as Strike had intended on cancelling the temp), Strike gets a job to investigate the suicide of a lawyer’s sister. John, the lawyer, doesn’t believe it was suicide.

This was good. There were parts that lost my interest just a little bit. I think sometimes the “hard-boiled” (darker, grittier) mysteries don’t always keep my interest as much as other mysteries (maybe not always). This may have been one of those. Overall, though, I still thought it was good. I am planning to try the next in the series, so I’ll continue for now.

Oct 13, 2019, 2:26am

12x12 KIT Challenges, ScaredyKIT, CalendarCAT, Trim the TBR (Classic), Fall Flurries

Saga of the Swamp Thing, Book 1 / Alan Moore
3 stars

It seemed like I was missing something right at the start! I guess this only started with Swamp Thing #21, when Alan Moore took over the writing of it. Oops! Didn’t realize. And didn’t really know the story. It did seem to back up a bit after the opening bit to explain, and I found the explanation of how the Swamp Thing came to be quite interesting. The rest of the book was ok. I don’t think I’ll continue the series.

Oct 14, 2019, 4:07pm

12x12 Trim the TBR, Trim the TBR (Classic), Passport Challenge (Sept)

On the Island / Tracey Garvis Graves
4 stars

Anna is a teacher and uses the summers to find work tutoring. She is hired to tutor 16-year old T.J. T.J. has just recovered from a cancer diagnosis and missed a lot of school. He needs to catch up, but his family is whisking them all away to an island for the summer, where the tutoring will happen. Anna and T.J. follow the rest of his family on a later flight, when the pilot suffers a heart attack and they are stranded somewhere amongst the many islands of the Maldives.

I really liked this. The chapters alternated between Anna and T.J., which was a bit confusing at first (even though the start of the chapter tells you whose POV it is), but it didn’t take long before I was ok with it. It was a fast read – read in one day. Short chapters. I could say more, but there are just too many spoilery things – beware of other reviews, as many do include what I would consider to be spoilers.

Oct 18, 2019, 1:16am

I read On the Island a few years ago and I was also surprised at how much I liked the story.

Oct 18, 2019, 10:57pm

12x12 Series, SeriesCAT, AlphaKIT. Trim the TBR (Classic)

Born of Deception / Teri Brown
4 stars

Anna, a young magician and medium, has just arrived in London from New York. She is hoping to get connected with a society of Sensitives, where she hopes to meet people like her, and to get advice on using her powers. At the same time, she manages to find a job with a group doing a vaudeville-like tour of Europe. Shortly after she arrives, though, a couple of the sensitives turn up murdered.

I really enjoyed this. I was sure frustrated with Anna and Cole and their lack of communication? Understanding of each other? (Sadly, it’s been a few days since I finished, so I’m already forgetting details of how I felt about the book!) I did like the cowboy (part of the touring show Anna becomes a part of) – he was a fun addition. Although, not quite as good as the first book, I still enjoyed the atmosphere of this one. As YA, it was also a fast read.

Oct 18, 2019, 11:20pm

12x12 Nonfiction

Rise of the Rocket Girls / Nathalia Holt
3 stars

This book follows some of the human calculators who worked for NASA (and the precursor to NASA), starting in the 1940s up to and including the 21st century. It follows both their work and their home lives. Of course, at their work early on, it was mostly women who were the calculators, while men were the engineers. As women of the time, they were expected to leave when/if they got married, then pregnant.

I listened to the audio and my interest came and went. What I paid attention to was interesting. As we got closer to current times, with my (for a while) interest in astronomy, it was fun to read about some of those space missions that I remember. Well, the first one I really remember wasn’t a “fun” one, Challenger in 1986, but some of the later ones were: Hubble Space Telescope, Spirit and Opportunity (sent to Mars to take photos and explore; intended on only lasting 1 year on the planet, but lasted 5 and 10 years instead!), and more. Oh, I also enjoyed the one little tidbit of info about Jupiter’s moon Io (which I named my current oldest cat after) – apparently it is filled with volcanoes.

Oct 20, 2019, 7:28am

>271 LibraryCin: - They just had a series on PBS where they explored and explained about the planets - each one it's own episode. You might be able to find them on-line somewhere. They were very interesting. This book must be similar to the Margaret Shatterly book that they used as the basis for the movie Hidden Figures, I would guess.

Edited: Oct 20, 2019, 3:02pm

>272 dudes22: Yes, it was similar to Hidden Figures.

Thanks for letting me know about the PBS series. I'll see if I can find it!

ETA: Well, I found it, but (likely because I'm in Canada), it tells me it's not available in my area. However, maybe they will replay it on PBS at some point (and hopefully I can catch it!).

Oct 20, 2019, 3:06pm

>273 LibraryCin: - That's too bad.

Oct 20, 2019, 5:10pm

12x12 CAT Challenges, Fall Flurries, CalendarCAT

The Dead Girls Club / Damien Angelica Walters
4 stars

When Heather was 12-years old, she was best friends with Becca. Rachel and Gia rounded out their group of friends, and the one summer they called themselves the “Dead Girls Club”, as they discussed serial killers and Becca told the other girls the story of the “Red Lady”, a witch who was horribly murdered, but maybe wasn’t actually dead.

Almost 30 years later, Heather begins receiving things in the mail that remind her of that awful summer – the summer she killed her best friend (not a spoiler – it is revealed very early on in the book). Who could be sending these things!? Who even knew what happened that night?

I really liked this. It pulled me in and kept me wanting to read. It turned out to be a pretty fast read. It is told alternating between Then and Now, as the reader slowly learns what happened that summer, while at the same time trying to figure out who has contacted Heather now. Yes, I was surprised by a couple of twists at the end. Maybe some will figure it out (at least one of the twists), but it never occurred to me! And, there were a few creepy parts, so fitting for an October read.

Oct 20, 2019, 11:44pm

12x12 Overflow

The Power / Naomi Alderman
3 stars

Teenaged girls are suddenly waking up to a sort-of electrical current running through them. This gives them extra strength, power, electricity running through them. Roxy is able to get away from men who have come to kill her mother. Allie manages to kill the man who is her foster father, who has been raping her, and she runs away. Tunde is a male reporter. Margot is a mayor who is worried for her daughter, one of the few girls who is not developing this current.

This started off good for me, but the middle lagged. I guess I wasn’t as interested when the girls all went soldier/war-like on the world. Just didn’t find those parts as interesting. I can see that it’s an interesting look on gender role-reversals, though. What would happen if, suddenly, it was mostly women in charge, with all the power. What would happen? Overall, though, I’m rating it ok.

Oct 21, 2019, 10:28pm

12x12 Audio, CalendarCAT, Fall Flurries

Appointment With Fear / Valentine Dyall
3.75 stars

This is a BBC radio show that aired in the 1940s. This audio book features four of the programs that aired: “The Pit and the Pendulum”, “The Clock Strikes Eight” “The Sleeping Clock”, and “And the Deep Shuddered”.

I read “The Pit and the Pendulum” in high school, so I remember the gist of it. The other stories were new to me. I enjoyed this. I like these radio shows and dramatic productions of stories. I liked the “Deep Shuddered” one, as well as one of the “Clock” ones (but I can’t remember which was the one I liked better; one ran right after the other, so I’m not sure which was which!). Really, they were all entertaining. I’m giving it the extra ¼ star for the radio dramatization.

Edited: Oct 22, 2019, 2:27am

>277 LibraryCin: I too like radio broadcasts and am working my way through one on Stitcher. (actually mine is a podcast--but could be a radio broadcast).

Oct 22, 2019, 3:27am

>277 LibraryCin: Valentine Dyall must have been a pretty well known voice at the time. Looking at his Wikipedia article reminded me that in the TV version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, he was the voice of Deep Thought.

Of course he also made occasional radio appearances as a Goon.

Oct 22, 2019, 9:18pm

>279 haydninvienna: Oh, that's interesting!

Oct 23, 2019, 11:47pm

12x12 Nonfiction

Dead by Sunset: Perfect Husband, Perfect Killer / Ann Rule
4 stars

Charming Brad Cunningham likely killed his 4th wife Cheryl in 1986. They had three sons, and were in the midst of a divorce and custody battle. Brad was an abuser. He was eventually convicted via circumstantial evidence.

I listened to an abridged audio. I usually don’t like abridged (and I still wonder why they bother! Why not just narrate the entire book!?), but they did this one well. I usually notice when information is skipped or missed, but I didn’t notice this time while listening – it wasn’t obvious. I only suspected because it was much shorter than I expected.

That being said about the audio, it kept my attention pretty much the whole time. It was all circumstantial evidence that convicted Brad, but a whole LOT of it! Because it was written in 1995, just after Brad was originally convicted, I had to look up online if he’d been released since. I’m also curious how his sons are doing. At the time the book was written, it sounded like they were well-cared for, but I still wonder what kind of influence he had on them (hopefully, not much, in the end).

Oct 24, 2019, 1:42am

>281 LibraryCin: Ann Rule is one of my favorite true crime authors!

Oct 26, 2019, 1:04am

12x12 Trim, PBT Trim, Trim the TBR (Classic), TBRCAT

Madam Millie: Bordellos from Silver City to Ketchikan / Max Evans
3.5 stars

Millie and her sister were orphans in the early 20th century after their parents died within a short time frame. Although, they were in and out of foster homes, they mostly managed to stay together. When Millie’s older sister Florence, got sick, it was suggested she head for someplace dry. They ended up in New Mexico, with Florence in a sanitorium and Millie needed to find a way to make enough money to pay for Florence’s care. It’s how Millie got into prostitution, and not long after, she started buying and running the whorehouses, herself. She married a number of times, but held on to those whorehouses, and added to them.

Millie was feisty, that’s for sure. She was also well-respected. And had a few brushes with the law. I’m not sure she was someone I would like, but it takes all kinds. She has lots of good stories. The book certainly kept my interest. Overall, it was good.

Oct 27, 2019, 5:21pm

12x12 Animals, Passport Challenge

Babylon's Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo / Lawrence Anthony
4.25 stars

In 2003, during the war in Iraq, a few hundred animals were abandoned in their cages, unable to fend for themselves, in the Baghdad Zoo. When Lawrence Anthony, conservationist and owner of the Thula Thula animal sanctuary in South Africa saw this on tv, he knew he had to help. He worked as fast as he could to organize everything to be allowed in to Baghdad at this time. He was one of the only foreign civilians allowed in at this time, while war still went on around the city. The zoo had been looted, and most of the animals, by now, had been stolen, either for food or to sell on the black market. The ones that remained were not in good shape. This tells of Lawrence Anthony’s efforts to round others up and to help the remaining animals.

This one pulled me in from the start. Those poor animals. What a nightmare of a time, trying to fix everything up, get water and food for the animals (and the zoo staff who came back to help out – they needed food, too!), trying to keep looters from continually coming back, etc. With gunfire happening here and there all around. Really good book.

Oct 28, 2019, 10:20pm

12x12 Off the Shelf, CalendarCAT, ScaredyKIT, AlphaKIT, Trim the TBR (Classic), Fall Flurries

Dinosaur Lake II: Dinosaurs Arising / Kathryn Meyer Griffith
4 stars

It’s been five years since the park at Crater Lake had to deal with dinosaurs that appeared and were attacking people. Now, they are back! But, not the same dinosaurs – these are different ones, these ones can fly…

I really enjoyed this one, as well. There was a stretch in the middle where it slowed down a bit and we were dealing with the head park ranger’s (Henry’s) wife’s (Ann’s) illness, but it picked up again soon after that. Speaking of Ann, I still quite liked most of the characters (the only ones I didn’t like were very secondary), and I was interested in how things would go for them. Also loved the kitten. :-) I do hope to continue with the series (though, it’s self-published, so a bit trickier to get my hands on).

Nov 2, 2019, 12:03am

12x12 CAT Challenges, TBRCAT, AlphaKIT

The Magician's Lie / Greer Macallister
4 stars

When famous magician, the Amazing Arden, finishes her show, her husband is found murdered and she runs. A police officer catches up with her and takes her in for questioning. He listens to her life story as she tries to explain and hopes he’ll believe that she didn’t do it. It’s a story of poverty and abuse, and an escape to a life of performance.

The story goes back and forth in time. It’s set between the late 19th century and 1905. I quite enjoyed it, but wasn’t overly crazy about the end. I really liked the setting and the atmosphere of the story. I also love the cover. There was an interview with the author at the end of my copy; I had been wondering as I read, and it was confirmed, that Arden’s magician mentor in the story was a real woman. There really weren’t many women illusionists at the time (nor are there now, I don’t think). One of the events near the end of the story (a fire at a theatre in Chicago) also really happened.

Edited: Nov 2, 2019, 4:13am

>286 LibraryCin: I'm thinking that would probably be the Iroquois Theatre fire in 1903. Horrific, over 600 fatalities. Sounds like an interesting book.

Nov 2, 2019, 2:46pm

>287 JayneCM: Yes, that sounds right!

Nov 4, 2019, 10:14pm

12x12 Reading Through Time, Reading Through Time, BingoDOG, PBT Horizons, Trim the TBR (Classic)

Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey / Isabel Fonseca
3 stars

The author is a journalist (she is not an anthropologist, though I had to check that). She spent time in various Eastern European countries in the early ‘90s (this was published in 1995), to talk to and get to know the Romani (aka Gypsies) to learn about their lives and culture. She also talks to other local people to find out their views of the local Roma (usually negative).

Overall, the book was ok. I didn’t learn as much as I thought I might. I have read a book by Ian Hancock, who is Romani himself, and I liked it better. Fonseca was a bit all over the place – the chapters didn’t really tie together. I guess each chapter was in a different country. I think I didn’t like her writing style. She included some photos of some of the various people she talked to. I suppose the most interesting to me was the chapter on the Holocaust. I’m not sure any stereotypes were quenched by reading this – she said it early in the book: they lie, they steal… I found it odd. If she was trying to fight stereotypes (as other reviews are saying), I definitely missed that. Oh, one stereotype broken: they don’t travel, nor necessarily want to always be travelling; they are just so unwelcome in so many places, they don’t have a lot of options. I’m still rating it ok. It held my interest, so that’s a good thing. It just wasn’t what I expected, and I didn’t learn as much as I’d hoped.

Nov 6, 2019, 11:31pm

12x12 Reading Through Time, Reading Though Time, CalendarCAT, PBT Horizons, PBT, Trim the TBR (Classic)

Tracks / Louise Erdrich
2 stars

This was set in the 1910s, I believe on a Native reserve. Not sure what it was supposed to be about. There was a girl, Fleur, who gambled with the men, then slept with and married someone. There was a nun (or maybe that was a different woman, not the nun?), who seemed to have a crush on one of the other women in the story. Other reviews tell me the book was set in North Dakota and about the Native land being taken away. Had no idea.

I was confused. I didn’t “get” it. “I” was used in the book, but part of the time “I” was male and part of the time “I” was female. I wasn’t sure if “I” was switching back and forth somehow or what, but a review I saw said something about there being two narrators, one an old man and one a young woman. Had no idea.

Nanapush was the name(?) of the old man “I”, but I don’t know if it was just a name or if it was meant to represent the native trickster/legend of the same name?

I should probably not bother reading any more of Erdrich’s adult novels, though I have enjoyed a couple of her children’s literature.

Nov 11, 2019, 6:11pm

12x12 Audio

The Killer Next Door / Alex Marwood
3.5 stars

Cher (Cheryl) is a teenager who has run from the “system”. Vesta is an old woman who has lived where she is all her life. Colette (aka Lisa) is running from someone, for her own safety. Hossein and Thomas also live in the building. The landlord is a creepy, greedy bastard. Nikki used to live in the building but recently left without saying goodbye. They all live in the same cheap, falling-down building. They all have secrets, but one has a secret bigger than all the others.

I listened to the audio, and had a bit of trouble figuring out what was going on at the start. Part of it was that it didn’t grab me and hold my attention right away, and I think part of it was also the number of characters. But, after a bit, I figured out the characters, though I still think I missed a bit of the happenings at the start. The middle of the book was very good, but I got a bit “lost” at the end, as well. I caught some of what happened at the end, but had a bit of trouble figuring out how things were tied up. Overall, though, I liked it.

Nov 11, 2019, 6:23pm

12x12 Off the Shelf

The Chalk Man / C.J. Tudor
4 stars

In 1986, when Eddie was 12, a lot of things happened. He and a new teacher saved a girl who’d been hit by debris when a carnival ride went out of control; his friend (Mickey)’s, brother (someone who had bullied Eddie, and probably other kids, too) died in the river; Eddie, Mickey, and their other friends (two more boys and one girl) started drawing symbols with chalk that meant something only to them; they found a dismembered body in the woods…

In 2016, Eddie and his friends are now 42 years old. Some have left the small town; others, including Eddie, stayed. However, they all received a letter with chalk figures on it. What is going on now?

I really liked this, especially as I was reading. There were a lot of characters, though, and many had nicknames. Somehow, at the start of each time I sat down to read, I got a bit confused as to who was who, and trying to remember what had happened the last time I read. Not sure why I had to much trouble keeping things straight in between readings, but I liked it a lot while I was actually reading it, so I’m leaving it at a 4 star rating.

Nov 14, 2019, 10:25pm

12x12 Trim the TBR, RandomCAT, Trim the TBR

Hillbilly Elegy / JD Vance
4 stars

The author grew up in Kentucky (Appalachia) and Ohio (where his grandparents moved to get away). They were poor. JD’s mother was not much of a mom – she did drugs and went from man to man. JD and his sister often lived with their grandmother, Mamaw, who took care of them. Even still, their entire home/family life included a lot of yelling and insults. But, apparently, this is how a lot of poor Appalachian kids grow up. JD eventually managed to get away, get a good education, and become a lawyer.

This was interesting. In addition to looking back on his own family life, he looks at statistics and some interesting insights about people in the area, their family dynamics and growing up poor. It is impressive that he worked his way up and out of that kind of life. He does credit that to a few members of his family who were good examples – interesting that they all married outside of the Appalachian culture (to, I think, very understanding people!).

Nov 16, 2019, 6:14am

>293 LibraryCin: I read Hillbilly Elegy last year and loved it. What stood out to me and what I've observed as 30 years as a teacher is that everybody needs somebody! It doesn't have to be a parent (which is ideal) but a grandparent, a relative, a neighbor, etc. Somebody that is in your corner. I'm so glad the author had his grandmother.

Nov 16, 2019, 11:38am

>294 Tess_W: He was lucky enough to also have his aunt and his sister, as well!

Nov 16, 2019, 1:15pm

>295 LibraryCin: Yes, it's been over a year and I couldn't specifically remember who.....I read a "like" book as well as this one.

Nov 16, 2019, 8:13pm

12x12 PBT, PBT Trim, Trim the TBR, AlphaKIT

The Persian Pickle Club / Sandra Dallas
3.25 stars

The story is told from Queenie’s point of view. It is the “dirty thirties”. When city-girl, Rita, moves to Harveyville, Kansas, she is quickly taken in and befriended by the local quilting women, the “Persian Pickle Club”. Rita has married Tom, a man from the town and they have moved back to live with Tom’s family. Queenie quickly befriends Rita, but Rita stays a bit distant. As a budding journalist, Rita is all over the story when a body is found in a field – the man had been gone for over a year.

The book was pretty slow, but did pick up about half-way through when the body was found, and as a few other more exciting/interesting things happened. Overall, it’s all about the women’s friendships. The first half, I was about to rate it 3 stars (ok), but upped it just a bit once it got more interesting in the second half.

Nov 17, 2019, 3:51pm

12x12 Reading Through Time, Read Thru Time, CalendarCAT, Fall Flurries

The Librarian of Auschwitz / Antonio Iturbe
4 stars

Dita was 9-years old when the war started, and 14-years old when she and her parents were brought to Auschwitz. At Auschwitz, for a while, there was a children’s school in Block 31. Dita was soon asked to be the school’s “librarian”. Books were prohibited, but somehow there were 8 books that had been smuggled in. It was a dangerous job, as Dita would have to make sure the books were never discovered by the guards.

Dita was a real person, and the author interviewed her. Many of the additional people were also real – a couple of additional people/situations the author included were people who escaped (one SS guard, and one Jewish boy who was was helping in the camp, so actually was in a “good” position, as compared to some of the others) to try to get help (the SS guard wanted to help one of the prisoners escape, along with her mother, and the Jewish boy wanted to get word out to the international community as to what was really happening in the concentration camps). I quite enjoyed this one, and it was interesting to read about the Block 31 school, the “library”, and the escapees, none of which I’d heard about before (that I recall).

Nov 19, 2019, 8:07pm

>298 LibraryCin: - Well that's a BB for me.

Nov 19, 2019, 11:24pm

>299 dudes22: Ah, hope you like it!

Nov 23, 2019, 11:41pm

12x12 KIT Challenges, AlphaKIT, ScaredyKIT, Trim the TBR (Classic)

Blaze / Richard Bachman (Stephen King)
3.75 stars

Blaze and George are best friends and (mostly) small time criminals. Blaze was abused as a child, and is now a bit “slow”. Unfortunately, after beginning to plan their biggest crime, George passed away, but Blaze wants to go it alone (with George in his head, egging him on). Blaze is about to kidnap a baby…

The book actually goes back and forth in time, so we also see how Blaze grew up, first abused by his father, then in a home for orphaned boys. I didn’t find the back story quite as interesting as the current-day kidnapping. Well, I found Blaze more interesting as he was younger and a teen, with his best friend (and his only other friend besides George, ever), Johnny, more interesting, but it was less so once Blaze met George (at least for me). The end of the story was really good, though, and had me eagerly turning pages to find out how things would end. Waffling between 3.5 and 4 stars (good and really good), I did not come to a decision and averaged it out.

Nov 24, 2019, 12:02am

12x12 CAT Challenges, CalendarCAT, AlphaKIT, Trim the TBR (Classic), Fall Flurries

Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin / Timothy Snyder
3 stars

This book looks at Stalin’s Soviet Union and Hitler’s political policies, mostly in the years leading up to and including the 2ndWorld War. Stalin took over many of the Baltic states, and – via policy – starved many of the peasants in the Ukraine: even as they were growing food for others, they were left to starve. I didn’t know any of this, so this part was particularly interesting to me. Both Stalin and Hitler wanted to take over Poland, and of course, we ended up with the Holocaust and World War II.

I feel like I would have liked this better if I hadn’t listened to the audio. I was afraid right from the start, though, when I heard the voice. Male voice (already a bad sign for me), and I’m sure I recognized it from another audio that didn’t hold my attention. There were parts that did, though, particularly about the starvation of the people in the Ukraine. Overall, I’m considering it ok.

Nov 24, 2019, 12:49pm

>302 LibraryCin: Have this book on my shelves to read. In 2006 the Parliament of Ukraine recognized the Holodomor as an act of genocide by the Soviet regime. The only "bad" thing I've heard about this book is that the estimates of death are really low. I've heard 14 million, although most historians now agree 25-35 million. Hope to get to it sooner than later.

Nov 24, 2019, 1:56pm

>303 Tess_W: I do hope you like it. I do feel like I would have given it a higher rating if I'd read the print.

I'm remembering that 14 million number mentioned. I do think he talked a bit about where the stats he used came from, but it's fuzzy. :-)

Nov 25, 2019, 1:48am

12x12 Off the Shelf, AlphaKIT, SeriesCAT

The 5th Wave / Rick Yancey
4 stars

Not long after the aliens invaded, Cassie’s mom got sick and died. Later on, she, her dad, and her brother were gathered with others when they were rounded up. The kids were taken to “safety” on a school bus and everyone else… well, Cassie escaped. She had promised Sammy she’d come for him, and she must do that. But, it’s hard to know whom to trust when she needs help. Meanwhile, kids are being trained for a war to fight the invasion.

I’ve given away a bit more than the blurb on the book, but I don’t think it’s too much information. There are the two separate storylines that we follow in the book, so I wanted to mention both. I really liked this. Even as we get to know characters, it’s hard to tell if they are trustworthy or not – the author does a good job of that, I think. It got better in the last little bit, and I just wanted to keep turning pages. Of course, it’s a series, so I will – at some point – be picking up the next one.

Nov 28, 2019, 11:06pm

12x12 CAT Challenges, SeriesCAT

The Calculating Stars / Mary Robinette Kowal
3.5 stars

It’s 1952. Elma and her husband Nathaniel are out of town, when they see a ridiculously bright light. It doesn’t take long before engineer Nathaniel and calculator Elma figure out that a meteor has hit and likely wiped out a good portion of the population of the East Coast, which is where they would have been had they not been on a weekend getaway. Elma then calculates that the Earth’s temperature will drop, then rise catastrophically, though it will take years. Humans need to see if they can create a colony somewhere on another planet. Oddly, only men are initially chosen to go into space. Elma (formerly a WASP who flew during WWII), and her friends fight to be considered to the space program.

The meteorite hitting and the resulting confusion started this book off with a “bang”, so to speak! It caught my attention right away, and I was hooked. It definitely slowed down in the middle, but there was plenty of sexism and racism going on (it was the 50s!) to keep things “interesting”. Overall, I enjoyed it, and I will be continuing the series.

Nov 29, 2019, 11:39pm

12x12 Animals, TBRCAT, Trim the TBR (Classic)

Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover’s Soul / Jack Canfield, et al.
3.5 stars

I think everyone knows what the “Chicken Soup” books are – little “feel good” stories on whatever the topic is for that book. Mostly, these were good while I read them, but I’ve also already forgotten most of them. There is one I will definitely remember – the cat (he is ok, and we are told that at the beginning of the story) who got his head stuck in the garburator! While reading, I had planned on 3.5 stars (good), but only a day later, I can only remember the one story. I will stick with how I felt about the book while reading (which is usually how I rate, anyway).

Dec 1, 2019, 4:45pm

12x12 KIT Challenges, AlphaKIT, NetGalley

The Girls With No Names / Serena Burdick
3.75 stars

Effie and Luella are sisters. On Jan 1, 1900, Effie was born with a heart defect and they didn’t think she’d live long. She has, however, made it to 14 years old when the two sisters discover the gypsies living nearby. Luella, being a risk-taker, convinces Effie to come with her to visit regularly. When Luella disappears, Effie needs to find her! Effie is convinced her parents found out about the gypsies and have deposited Luella into the nearby “home” for wayward girls, the House of Mercy. Effie comes up with a plan to get in, herself, in order to be reunited with Luella.

The summary I’ve provided is actually the slower part of the book, in my opinion. It really picked up after Effie got into the House of Mercy. Right around that point in the book (maybe half-way through?), the perspective changes away from Effie, and we sometimes get her mother’s perspective, and sometimes the perspective of another girl at the House of Mercy, along with her background/story. I thought this is where the book really picked up, and I enjoyed the second half more. It was interesting to learn of the House of Mercy (which was real), and the kinds of things that went on in “homes” like this. Also interesting was a big event worked in to the storyline, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. I could see it coming, with a few of the characters working there… As always, I appreciated the historical note at the end.

Dec 3, 2019, 9:59pm

12x12 Off the Shelf, TBRCAT

Small Great Things / Jodi Picoult
4 stars

Ruth has been a nurse for over 20 years and is good at her job. She works in Labor and Delivery and when she takes over from another nurse to start checking over a newborn, she notices an iciness from the parents. When she notices the Nazi tattoo on the father, Turk, it’s not long before Turk and Brit ask for their baby to not be handled by the black nurse. In order to keep things calm and smooth, Ruth’s boss grants their wish and asks Ruth not to handle their baby. Unfortunately, when circumstances leave Ruth alone with the baby and something goes wrong, what is she to do…? Next thing you know, Turk and Brit have accused Ruth of murdering their baby.

I really liked this. Oh, Turk and Brit were so hateful! The perspective changed between Ruth, Turk, and the public defender who became Ruth’s lawyer, Kennedy. Kennedy provided a very interesting perspective as a white woman who never saw herself as racist, but through Ruth sees how many little things that white people take for granted that don’t even bring a second thought, when it’s so different if you are black. Picoult does have a note at the end where she does address her, as a white woman, writing from the point of view of Ruth, a black woman.

Dec 4, 2019, 12:07am

>309 LibraryCin: Sounds great and so true. I have an Aboriginal friend and we talked about this issue one day. She explained it by saying that for her, race is always an issue. As a white person, I don't have to think about being white, but she has to think about it every day. Whenever she goes out, she has to think how she will be perceived - being watched more closely in a shop in case she is stealing (even though she is a well-dressed professional woman), always being overlooked for service at a shop counter or bar, just every little thing.

Dec 4, 2019, 7:02pm

>310 JayneCM: Exactly! That's what Ruth is pointing out to Kennedy in the book.

Dec 7, 2019, 3:43pm

12x12 Oh Canada, AlphaKIT, RandomCAT, CalendarCAT, Fall Flurries, Travel Across Canada, Trim the TBR (Classic), PBT Horizons

The Right to be Cold / Sheila Watt-Cloutier
3.5 stars

Sheila Watt-Cloutier was born in a Northern Quebec Inuit community and raised by her mother and her grandmother. She was sent away to school in Churchill, and (mostly) enjoyed her time there. She later married, had kids, and went back and forth between her home in Northern Quebec and the southern part of the province.

Eventually, she would become an activist; she is most commonly associated with environmental activism, but really she is an activist for her Inuit culture, for education and health care, and yes, for the environment and climate change, and how it is currently affecting the Inuit culture and lifestyle. They are seeing the effects of climate change now, and they feel that they deserve “the right to be cold” – they need that cold – in order to sustain their traditional culture.

This was good. I expected more of the environmental aspect in the book (and a lot of that did come in the 2nd half), but actually ended up enjoying the biographical part of the book best. Much of the 2nd half of the book included her travels to various conferences and counsels to tell the story of the Inuit to put a “human face” on the environmental crisis in the Arctic. Surprising to me, I just didn’t find that part as interesting. Overall, though, I liked it.

Dec 13, 2019, 10:34pm

12x12 Audio, CalendarCAT, AlphaKIT, Fall Flurries

Landline / Rainbow Rowell
3 stars

When Georgie decides she needs to stay home and work over the Christmas holiday (she’s a script writer and she has a deadline to get multiple new scripts done for her dream show in a short time), her husband takes their two daughters to his “home” in Nebraska for the holiday. Georgie has trouble getting ahold of her husband on the phone, but does manage on her mom’s landline. BUT, it appears that the Neal she has gotten ahold of is not her current husband; the Neal on the other end of the landline is the Neal she knew before she married him… she is talking to the Neal from 15 years ago!

Both main characters were very unlikable. Neal did not come off as a nice person, at all, in my opinion, and Georgie was such a whiner and acted like she was still a teenager, all angsty over the holiday separation. I also had a hard time, at times, figuring out if we were in current day or flashing back to when they were both younger or if it was current-day Georgie talking on the landline to younger Neal. I listened to the audio, which was fine and held my attention, but overall I was disappointed. Even still, I’m rating it ok, but I think I liked the premise more than the execution of it.

Dec 13, 2019, 10:51pm

12x12 Series, AlphaKIT, RandomCAT, Trim the TBR (Classic), PBT

Black Rose / Nora Roberts
3 stars

Roz is running a gardening business out of her home and has hired Mitch to help investigate who might be the ghost that has been in her historical home all her life. She suspects one of her ancestors, but wants to find out for sure.

This is the second book in a series (trilogy, I think). Unfortunately, it took me about 2/3 of the book to figure out who most the supporting characters were (though two of them would have been the main characters in the first book; I just remembered nothing about it!). Even after figuring out most of the characters, there were still a few that confounded me until the end. Anyway, I’m rating the book ok. The ghost story is the interesting part of the story. The romance – meh. Roz, I think, was 47 years old (my age), but to me, for some reason, I pictured her in her 60s! I’m not sure if I’ll read the last book or not, although I am curious to find out more about the ghost.

Dec 16, 2019, 12:02am

12x12 Travel, Passport Challenge, Trim the TBR (Classic)

The Shah / Abbas Milani
2.5 stars

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was the last Shah (king) of Iran. He ruled for 37 years, starting during the Second World War, and continued until the Islamic Revolution in 1979. In some ways, he was trying to modernize Iran (religious freedom, women’s rights), but he resisted democratizing the country.

I found much of it dry. There was a lot of politics, attempts to oust the Prime Minister and vice versa, foreign negotiations with the USA and Britain. There wasn’t as much biography as I was expecting; it was more political history than anything. It was long; technically, under 500 pages, but the font was very small, so it took longer to read than I’d hoped. There was a lot of information I didn’t know about Iran, so I did learn some things. I do feel like some photos would have been nice to be included in the book, but there were none.

Dec 16, 2019, 4:18am

>315 LibraryCin: A year or two ago, I read a great novel about women in Iran before and after the revolution. In the 1960s, the Shah very much embraced Western democracy and women were dressing in the fashions of the time - mini skirts, etc. The contrast between their lives before and after the revolution was startling. Khomeini's views were nothing short of barbaric, particularly in regards to the sexualisation of children and reducing the allowable age for marrying. I wish I could remember what the book was called!

Dec 16, 2019, 9:36pm

>316 JayneCM: That does sound interesting! If you ever remember the name, it's one I would add to the tbr... :-)

Dec 16, 2019, 11:40pm

12x12 Trim the TBR, SeriesCAT, AlphaKIT, Trim the TBR (Classic)

Wolf by Wolf / Ryan Graudin
3.75 stars

What if the Axis had won World War II? Yael was a little girl and had been one of the medical subjects in one of the concentration camps. What they did was inject her with something to make her appear more Aryan. Turns out she could do more than appear Aryan after a while – she could “skinshift” to look like anyone else. Because of this, she was able to escape, and years later, in 1956 when she is 17-years old, she is part of the resistance and she has a mission – she is impersonating a girl motorcycle racer. Once she wins, she’ll have access to Hitler…

This one took a bit for me to get “into” it, but once it got going, I thought it was good. We go back and forth in time from current day Yael in the resistance to young Yael in the concentration camp and everything leading up to how she got to her current mission. There was a good twist at the end and it is a series (or maybe trilogy?), so I will continue.

Dec 22, 2019, 4:58pm

12x12 Travel, CalendarCAT, TBRCAT, Fall Flurries, Reading Through Time, PBT Trim

Iced In: Ten Days Trapped on the Edge of Antarctica / Chris Turney
4 stars

The author, Chris Turney, gathered together many people in 2013/2014, mostly scientists, to travel to Antarctica to do some research. Antarctica is a dangerous place, as the weather and ice conditions can change in a heartbeat. This group was lucky enough to start off with a number of good weather and ice days, but things quickly changed on Christmas Eve and they ended up locked in by ice.

This was really good. Turney also recounts Ernest Shakleton’s story of being trapped 100 years earlier, so he goes back and forth between his crew and Shakleton’s. As the leader of the expedition, and impressed by how Shakleton had handled things in his time, Turney made decisions based on “what would Shakleton do?”. It’s a different world now, though, as compared to during Shakleton’s time when no one knew what had become of Shakleton and his crew. With Turney’s group, they kept in connection via radio, satellite phone, social media, and were able to call in for help. Even still, there were times where things were dicey, and they really weren’t sure when or if they’d be able to get everyone out safely.

Dec 24, 2019, 11:54pm

12x12 KIT Challenges, ScaredyKIT, TBRCAT

FantasticLand / Mike Bockoven
4 stars

When a hurricane ravishes Florida, amusement park FantasticLand is left on its own for a while, as it’s a bit further inland, plus there is plenty of food to keep the few hundred staff who stayed behind going for quite a while. Most of the staff is young, in their late teens or early twenties. Little do they know on the outside that the staff have turned savage and are killing each other…

We actually hear about the aftermath at the start of the story. The book is in the form of interviews, looking back at what happened. The start of the book is interviews with people about the storm itself and the people ready to go in to help, and the preparations within the park for disasters. The main part/middle of the book is interviews with the staff left behind in the park, as we get a look at how things went bad and the things that actually happened in the park while they were cut off from the outside world. The interviews at the end were with people associated with the rescue and aftermath.

This was very suspenseful, though a little slow to get started, as it took a bit to find out what was going on inside. Every chapter was interviewing a different person, so there were a lot of characters to remember, but it gave insight into a bunch of different perspectives. Very creepy at times. But, for those who like creepy and horror, it’s one you want to keep reading.

Dec 25, 2019, 12:57am

12x12 KIT Challenges, AlphaKIT, SeriesCAT, RandomCAT

Emily: Evan's Girls / Elle Klass
3 stars

Emily was adopted when she was young enough that she doesn’t remember her biological family. She is happy and isn’t interested in learning about them. All she knows is that they died in a car crash. As she grows up, though, she overhears discussions that make her wonder, though she never questions it. However, things get dangerous for her as an adult once she is married and has a family of her own.

I really liked the first ¾ of the book, but it took an odd turn and I wasn’t crazy about the ending. This was book 2 in a series; I “won” the book in a giveaway without realizing there was a book 1, so I hadn’t read it. Up until the end, I don’t think I needed to, but the main character (based on the title of book 1) does make an appearance at the end. Since I found the ending, not just odd, but somewhat confusing, I wonder if it would have been better to have read the first one first? Either way, up until the end, I thought I was going to (go back and read book 1), but the odd turn the ending took just didn’t… I just didn’t like it, so I don’t think I’ll plan to read the first one (nor will I plan to read the 3rd). I still gave it an “ok” rating, though, as I did really liked most of the book.

Dec 29, 2019, 1:42am

12x12 Nonfiction, Trim the TBR (Classic)

Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light / Patrick McGilligan
3.5 stars

Alfred Hitchcock was born in 1899 and died in 1980. He went from Great Britain to Hollywood and over six decades, starting with silent films in the 1920s up to only months before he died, he was working on movies, over 50 in total. He usually had two going at a time.

This is a very long book (over 800 pages). I was expecting more biography, but really, it was a very detailed account of behind-the-scenes of many of his movies, with a bit of biography thrown in here and there. There were definitely some interesting tidbits, though, enough that I’m rating it “good” (I was tempted to go with “ok”, but by the end I realized, I actually did think it was good, despite not being what I expected).

I’m sure real Hitchcock afficionados would love all the detail. Of course, the movies I’ve seen, or at least knew about, held more interest for me, as well as some that starred super-well-known actors (Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Marlene Dietrich, Grace Kelly...). It does make me want to go out and watch more (some again, since I don’t really remember); I already looked up some clips of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” intros that he did (also something I’d love to watch some of, again – if only I ever made time to watch movies or tv!).

Dec 30, 2019, 2:07am

12x12 Oh Canada, Travel Across Canad

The Forgotten Home Child / Genevieve Graham
4 stars

When Winny is young, she finds herself in the streets of London and finds friends in Mary, Jack, Cecil and Edward. They are caught stealing one day and are taken to an orphanage. From there, they eventually are sent to Canada, where they will be sent out to families and should have a better life. They are split up, but vow to find each other again.

Apparently, between the mid-1800s and up to 1948(?) over 100,000 children – the British Home Children – were sent to Canada. Sadly, for the majority of these kids, it was not a better life. Many (most) were neglected, malnourished, abused. They were indentured servants and most were not treated well.

In the book, Winny is actually 90-some years old, and having been ashamed of her background all these years, she never told her family. But, the book goes back and forth between Winny telling her granddaughter and great-grandson her story and, of course, the story itself: Winny and her friends in the 1930s and through WWII.

This was very interesting. I had never heard of the British Home Children, and that’s why the author wanted to write the story. It’s not taught in schools, and many of the kids sent over kept their stories to themselves, so it’s not well-known. The author includes a good historical note at the end. The author used examples from many of the people she talked to – things that really happened. It was a quick read, but I hope I don’t forget it soon.

Dec 30, 2019, 6:20am

>323 LibraryCin: - This sounds very similar to the book Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline which was the US version of sending orphaned children by train to the Midwest for basically the same reasons during the same period of time.

Dec 30, 2019, 2:23pm

>324 dudes22: It was a Netgalley book for me, and I think the description there mentioned a cross between "Orphan Train" (which I hadn't heard of and something else...

Yes, this is the beginning of the description: "The Home for Unwanted Girls meets Orphan Train..."

I hadn't heard of either, actually! (But, now I think I should take a look at Orphan Train, since you've mentioned it!

Dec 30, 2019, 4:53pm

12x12 Travel, CalendarCAT, PBT Horizons, Fall Flurries

Hans Brinker, or, The Silver Skates / Mary Mapes Dodge
3 stars

Hans and his younger sister live in Holland and love to skate. Unfortunately, their father had an accident 10 years earlier when Gretel was just a baby, and has been in a coma(?) since, so Hans makes their skates out of wood. But, with a race coming up, a nice girl offers to buy Hans some new skates. Meanwhile, they are still hoping their dad will wake up, as he had hidden away a large chunk of money just before his accident. Money they could really use.

This was ok. I liked Hans’ family’s story, but there was also a section (mostly in the middle of the book) that focused on some of the other local boys. I mostly lost interest when the focus was on them. There was some nice descriptions of the area and the (19th century) culture in the book, and one of the other boys was from out of the country, so some of this was seen through his eyes, in a way. Overall, it was ok.

Dec 31, 2019, 5:11pm

12x12 KIT Challenges, ScaredyKIT

The Other Mrs / Mary Kubica
4.5 stars

Will and Sadie have moved out to an isolated island community in Maine after Will’s sister died and left her house, and the care of her 16-year old daughter, to them. They are hoping this will be a fresh start for their family after they’ve come across a few bumps. Unfortunately, not long after they move in, a woman across the street is murdered.

This was really good. It kept me wanting to keep reading, wanting to know what would happen. The story is (mostly) told from three different viewpoints, Sadie being the main one. I didn’t think Sadie was particularly likeable. There were (of course) twists at the end. I had figured out one small portion of what would happen at the end, but I had other theories that were wrong and there was far more than what I’d guessed.

Dec 31, 2019, 5:12pm

And that will be it for 2019! I plan to do some stats for the year and figure out a top 10. I hope to post that by tomorrow.

Dec 31, 2019, 6:06pm

It seems I was a very tough rater this year, with no 5 stars books! Yikes!

I always think of historical fiction as my favourite genre, but I think thriller/suspense is giving it a run for its money, certainly based on this year, anyway!

My top 10 in 2019:
(4.5 + 4.25 stars):

Inside the O’Briens / Lisa Genova
To Sleep With the Angels / David Cowan, John Kuenster
Blackout / Connie Willis
The Long Winter / Laura Ingalls Wilder
What the Night Knows / Dean Koontz
The Other Mrs / Mary Kubica
In a Dark Dark Wood / Ruth Ware
The True Tales of Baker and Taylor / Jan Louch
The Day the World Stood Still / Jim DeFede
Babylon’s Ark / Lawrence Anthony

Dishonourable mentions
(1.5-2 stars):

The Cat and Shakespeare / Raja Rao
Kim / Rudyard Kipling
All the Light We Cannot See / Anthony Doerr
The Devil’s Queen / Jeanne Kalogridis
Tracks / Louise Erdrich

Dec 31, 2019, 7:29pm

Great wrap-up! I have Inside the O'Briens on my "maybe" list -- my BF's mum's book club had it on their shortlist of books to read this year -- so I'm glad you liked it.

Dec 31, 2019, 7:58pm

Just realized i should add the touchstones! Will do that tomorrow. Was copy, pasting all over the place, so didnt think!

Obriens was a book club book for me, and i loved it!

Jan 1, 7:19am

I've loved all of Lisa Genova's books although I think Inside the O'Briens was my least favorite. But still good!

Jan 1, 2:10pm

"Still Alice" made my favourites the year I read it. I also read "Every Note Played" this year, but I didn't like it quite as much as O'Briens. I think that's everything I've read by her.

Jan 1, 2:58pm

>329 LibraryCin: Oh, I'm so glad you loved Blackout! And I wasn't a huge fan of All the Light We Cannot See either, although apparently we're in the minority!

Jan 1, 4:11pm

>334 christina_reads: Yeah, I know I'm in a minority on that one! I also listened to the audio, which may have made a difference, but hard to say how much difference.

Jan 1, 4:54pm

Reading stats for 2019:

173 books
57,788 pages
= 334 pages / book (average)

New authors to me: 84 out of 173 = 48.6%
Canadian authors: 19 out of 173 = 11%

Some genres (some of these will overlap, and I probably missed some, too):
Nonfiction (not including Biography/Memoir): 21 out of 173 = 12.1%
Historical fiction: 32 out of 173 = 18.5%
Young adult: 14 out of 173 = 8.1%
Children’s Lit: 7 out of 173 = 4%
YA + Children’s: 21 out of 173 = 12.1%
Biography/Memoir: 19 out of 173 = 11%
Graphic novels: 4 out of 173 = 2.3%
Mystery/Thriller: 21 out of 173 = 12.1%
Contemporary Fiction: 20 out of 173 = 11.6%
Nonfiction + Biography/Memoir: 40 out of 173 = 23.1%