March AlphaKIT: U and L
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Welcome to AlphaKIT for March.
The rules are... none! Use the letters however you like to choose your reads for the month. Well, okay, there is one rule: Have Fun!
March AlphaKIT letters are : U and L.
Please remember to update the wiki and enter books alphabetically: https://wiki.librarything.com/index.php/2019_AlphaKIT#March:_-_Letters_U_and_L
My "U" book for this month will be Angel With Two Faces by Nicola Upson but I haven't decided on my "L" book yet.
For U I will be reading The Plot to Destroy America: How Putin and His Spies are Undermining America and Dismantling the West by Malcolm Nance, and for L I have chosen and Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold.
For March, these are my options for "U" and "L":
Life After Life (Todd Family #1 by Kate Atkinson)
Lock In (by John Scalzi; narrated by Wil Wheaton)
The Silence of the Trees (by Valya Dudycz Lupescu )
The Story of Mankind (by Hendrik Willem Van Loon)
Six Wakes (written and narrated by Mur Lafferty)
An Untamed State (by Roxanne Gay, narrated by Robin Miles)
Underground Airlines (by Ben H. Winters)
Under the Empyrean Sky (by Chuck Wendig
Since mid-October however, my ebook and audiobook consumption has been virtually nil so the only book from this list that I know for certain that I will finish, is Life After Life! I'm reading it along with others on a Litsy Buddy Read and it wraps on on March 3rd. After that , we'll see :-)
Of course, U will likely be something I'll have to pick out, specifically, but hopefully I'll be reading something for L, anyway. Will take a look this weekend to see what fits.
These are my top contenders for March:
Blood Oath by Linda Fairstein
Broken Bone China by Laura Childs
Cold Brew Killing by Lena Gregory
✔Corned Beef and Casualties by Lynn Cahoon
✔Grand Slam Murders by R.J. Lee
Lady Risks All
Leave No Scone Unturned
✔Light in the Window
✔Loch Ness Papers
✔Louvre: All the Paintings
Murder in the South of France by Susan Kiernan-Lewis
✔Restaurant Weeks Are Murder by Libby Klien
Spark of Light: A Novel
Temptation of Forgiveness by Donna Leon
✔Thread Herrings by Lea Wait
Until Proven Guilty
Unto Us a Son Is Given
>7 jeanned: I just ordered Nance's book and might get to it in March. I will be interested in what you think!
I’ve finished Angel with Two Faces by Nicola Upson for my “U” book this month.
One for the "L" column!
Life After Life (by Kate Atkinson) - This is a novel about Ursula Todd who is born on a snowy day in a rural home in England in 1910. From there her fate is different every time she cycles through. Ursula, it seems, experiences a sort of reincarnation wherein she always returns to that snowy day in February with none but her mother and a housemaid to greet her into this world. During each of her life's journeys, Ursula experiences different levels of self-awareness and, explores the limits of her ability to control events within her given life. The novel depicts an idyllic pre-war countryside set against the ravages of London during the Blitz and tangentially and subtly explores the characters of women in changing times. I loved this book when I first read it several years ago and; if possible love it even more now that I've gone through it more carefully. Someone on Litsy once posted that a book isn't read until it has been read twice and; in this case I agree :-)
>34 Thanks for the reminder. I won one of his books and have not read it yet.
Love Story / Erich Segal
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.
The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine
Addie and Meryl are as different as sisters can be - when Meryl is practicing her swordplay and dreaming of battles with dragons, Addie is working on one of her lovely embroidery scenes while keeping one timid eye out for spiders. But when tragedy visits the castle Addie decides to try her own strength, and with some help from the sorcerer, Rhys, she sets out to seek a cure for the Grey Death and to find her own courage.
This one was fabulous and I loved it to bits. The sisters are wonderfully drawn (no damosels in distress here!), the adventures are exciting and well written, and there's just the right amount of romance so that it sweetens the plot but still takes a rightful backseat to Addie's story of questing and growing. Highly recommended.
>35 scaifea: I remember really liking this one when I read is so long ago! Looked it up and it was 2008!
I just read Under the Cold Bright Lights by Garry Disher, for the U and the L in one go. This Australian police procedural features Acting Sergeant Alan Auhl of Melbourne, a veteran who after retiring has returned to work on the Cold Case Squad. In this book he closes three cases, builds a friendship with Detective Constable Claire Pascal, and provides moral support for a young mother trying to protect her daughter from her husband. Disher's police procedurals always shine, and this one is no different in that regard. I hope Auhl returns.
>40 scaifea: I've read "Ella Enchanted", as well, but I remember it even less than I remember "The Princesses of Bamarre". I feel like I liked "The Princesses" better, but hard to say. They would have both been read in print, so no audio for comparison.
>42 LibraryCin: I mostly remember being frustrated at the pace of the plot with Ella, so that may not change between audio and print...
>43 christina_reads: I'm aware of the movie, but I'm not a huge Hathaway fan, and since I didn't care for the book I've just stayed clear of it. I may give the book another try at some point, but there are so many other books out there calling...
Broken Promise / Linwood Barclay
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.
Unstoppable by Bill Nye
Bill Nye sets out his ideas on how climate change is (a) real (problem), but that it's not quite yet irreversible, and then explains ways in which we can start living a life that helps reverse those changes. I liked this one but I didn't love it as I wanted to, for a couple of reasons: 1) The Preaching-to-the-Choir syndrome (which I fully admit isn't the fault of the book at all) - there wasn't much here that I didn't know already and of course I agree with the arguments completely; and 2) The writing was a little too simplistic and choppy for me. Again, this second point isn't necessarily a bad thing (I think a simple style is likely what Nye was going for, to reach a bigger audience, maybe); it just didn't work for me. My love of Bill Nye remains completely intact, of course, and I do think this is a great book for the proper audience.
Undivided / Neal Shusterman
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.
Lost and Found: Dogs, Cats, and Everyday Heroes at a Country Animal Shelter / Elizabeth Hess
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.
LOL, I seem to only hitting one of the letters each month! In this case, "L"-- My first book for this month's challenge was Life After Life (Todd Family #1 by Kate Atkinson) and now Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating (by Christina Lauren) :-)
This is a dual-POV contemporary romance set in Portland, Oregon featuring an uninhibited third grade teacher named Hazel and, the much more restrained, Josh. Though I'm not a fan of zany female protags, I laughed out loud from the start and was interested to see how Josh would get hooked. Josh's sections were less developed than Hazel's however, which while in keeping with his character, was a little unsatisfying.
In a completely unrelated note: There was a continuity error regarding lighting in the backyard (there's a scene in the beginning in which he is running through the yard in darkness but later, there's another scene in which motion-detector lights go on) which bugged me but overall it was a fun read, perfect "mental floss."
I tried to read Under the Pendulum Sun for this challenge but alas, it is a DNF for me. Too much religion for me.
The Last Rhinos / Lawrence Anthony
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.
Inside the O'Briens / Lisa Genova
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.
Due to a long, slow read of Middlemarch I only had time to read one book for this month's challenge...hope to do better in April.
The Illegal / Lawrence Hill
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.
One last title for this month's challenge:
Lessons from a One-Night Stand (by Piper Rayne) Set in a small town in Alaska, Austin Bailey is the baseball coach who deferred his dreams of playing and coaching beyond the collegiate level to return home and take care of his siblings. With his youngest sisters about to graduate, he has his eye on a position in Southern California. Holly Radcliffe is the substitute principal who has another reason to come to Bailey's hometown, at that is to track down her father. One night, they meet in a bar and hook-up, only to discover that they are co-workers in the same high school the following Monday. It started out promising with some humor, but in the end, I was left with a sort of dreary feeling. Tension points in the story were too easily resolved, or resolved off camera after spending so much ink in building them up; There were editorial issues: "Halve" and "Have" are not the same thing at all; There were continuity errors as to who did what and; really it was too long. At 340 pages, the authors were trying to pack in a lot. Granted, as a first-in-series, they were trying to set up for the sequels, but there was just so much "stuff" going on with Austin and Bailey and not enough about their actual chemistry that I got kind of tired of reading the story. 3/5 stars (Not in the LT db)
Finished The Last Policeman in March, and just hadn't gotten time to be on LT. Full review written, and adding it to the wiki now!
Finished listening to Locking Up Our Own last week--a two-fer for this Cat!
I managed to finish a "U" book in March, Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense by Francis Spufford. I really liked it overall, although I didn't agree with absolutely everything, and I think it could potentially be interesting for nonreligious people as well.
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