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Juli (SuziQoregon) Reads - Thread 2

This is a continuation of the topic Juli (SuziQoregon) Reads - Thread 1.

75 Books Challenge for 2019

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1SuziQoregon
May 1, 11:47am Top



Thanks for stopping by . . .

I'm Juli and this is my sixth year with the 75 Books group. I plan to be a regular for as long as the group and I are both around. I've met some great folks here and they cause my TBR list to explode in a wonderful way.

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

I read a mix of audio, paper and ebooks. I tend to read mysteries and thrillers more than other genres. I also read a lot of graphic novels.

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

2SuziQoregon
Edited: May 1, 11:49am Top

This was my last header of 2017 and I decided it needed to be a permanent fixture


4SuziQoregon
Edited: Yesterday, 7:38pm Top

Books read May through September
May
1. Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
2. Lulu Anew by Etienne Davodeau
3. Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou narrated by Will Damron
4. River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey narrated by Peter Berkrot
5. The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough

June
1. Quantum Age by Jeff Lemire
2. To the Far Blue Mountains by Louis L'Amour narrated by John Curless
3. The Girl on Legare Street by Karen White
4. Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson narrated by the author
5. The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui
6. Voice of the Violin by Andrea Camilleri narrated by Grover Gardner
7. Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny narrated by Robert Bathurst
8. Stitches: A Memoir by David Small

July
1. The Dinner by Herman Koch
2. Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
3. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster narrated by Rainn Wilson
4. Queen Victoria : twenty-four days that changed her life by Lucy Worsley

August
1. Initiates: A Comic Artist and a Wine Artisan Exchange Jobs by Etienne Davodeau
2. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
3. S is for Silence by Sue Grafton narrated by Judy Kaye
4. The Kitchen by Ollie Masters
5. When the Men Were Gone by Marjorie Herrera Lewis
6. Oranges by John McPhee
7. Don't Make Me Pull Over! by Richard Ratay narrated by Jonathan Todd Ross
8. The Cross-Eyed Mutt by Etienne Davodeau

September
1. The Mating Season by P.G. Wodehouse narrated by Jonathan Cecil
2. Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert's Story by Debbie Tung
3. The Travelers by Chris Pavone DNF's at page 166
4. The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe narrated by Dennis Quaid

5SuziQoregon
Edited: Yesterday, 7:39pm Top

Books read October through December

October
1. The Romanov Empress by C.W. Gortner
2. Tilt-a-Whirl by Chris Grabenstein narrated by Jeff Woodman
3. Book Love by Debbie Tung

6SuziQoregon
Edited: Yesterday, 7:35pm Top




Currently Reading



Currently Listening To

7SuziQoregon
Edited: Yesterday, 7:34pm Top

2019 Nonfiction Challenge
This will be my second year in participating in this one.

January: Prizewinners and Nominees
Books that have won some kind of literary award or those that have been runners-up for this kind of honor
The Devil's Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea

February: Science and Technology: Innovations and Innovators. Who's leading the breakthroughs in biotech and nanotech? What are the big issues that we're facing in cybersecurity?
Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon by Jeffrey Kluger narrated by Brian Troxell

March: True Crime, Misdemeanors and Justice, Past and Present Day:
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

April: Comfort Reads: Whatever topic makes you feel warm & fuzzy inside. Animals? Cooking? What brings you joy? Music? Long walks? This could cross a number of more traditional challenge categories, and maybe will give us insight into each other...
All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot

May: History. In this case, my cutoff date is 1950. A bit arbitrary, but after the end of World War II and after the Berlin Airlift, the birth of the Marshall Plan and the start of the Cold War.
The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough

June: The Pictures Have It! Any book that relies on pictures to tell the story, from an illustrated graphic text, to a book of photographs, to an art catalog.
The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

July: Biography & First Person Yarns
(Hopefully, self-explanatory!!)
Queen Victoria: Twenty-four Days That Changed Her Life by Lucy Worsley

August: Raw Materials: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral
So, read a book that starts with animals, vegetables or minerals at its heart.
Oranges by John McPhee

September: Books by Journalists
As suggested by a member of this group! On ANY topic -- just check to be sure that the author is a journalist -- employed by a paper, writing freelance, past or present.
The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe narrated by Dennis Quaid

October: Other Worlds: From Spiritual to Fantastical
Want to read about heaven (Christian version, Muslim version, etc.) and how to get there? Or reincarnation, Buddhist style? Or simply fantastical other world?

November: Creators and Creativity
We've done this one before. Anyone who creates stuff -- preferably arts, since there's an earlier category dedicated to scientific and technological innovation. Dance; music; writing; painting; photography, etc. etc.

December: I’ve Always Been Curious About…
A wide open category, pretty much.

8SuziQoregon
Edited: Yesterday, 7:32pm Top

The Monthly Motif Reading Challenge. is one that I heard about from some fellow bloggers. I think I can make this one work for me this year.

JANUARY – New to You Author

Read a book by an author whose writing you’ve never read before.
The Devil's Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea

FEBRUARY – Cover Love

Yes. We’re giving you permission to judge a book by its cover and read a book with a cover that really caught your eye.
High Rising by Angela Thirkell (didn't finish until March but I started it in February so I'm counting it)

MARCH – Royalty, Kingdoms, Empires, Governments

Read a book in which the character is involved in a ruling or governing body in some way.
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

APRIL – Crack the Case

Read a mystery, detective story, true crime, cozy mystery, or book involving a puzzle to solve.
A Cold Day in Paradise by Steve Hamilton

MAY – One Sitting Reads

Read something that is short enough you could get through it in one sitting- try a graphic novel, comic book, short story, essay, or short collection of poetry.
Lulu Anew by Etienne Davodeau

JUNE – Diversify Your Reading

Read a book with a character (or written by an author) of a race, religion, or sexual orientation other than your own or read about a culture you want to learn more about.
The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

JULY – Through The Years

Read a book involving time travel, a book with a ‘time’ setting such as The Great Gatsby (20s), read a historical fiction/nonfiction, or choose a book published in your birth year.
Queen Victoria: Twenty-Four Days that Changed Her Life by Lucy Worsley

AUGUST – Mode of Transportation

Read a book where the mode of transportation plays a role in the story (ex. Murder on the Orient Express or The Boys in the Boat)
Don't Make Me Pull Over by Richard Ratay

SEPTEMBER – Animal, Number, Color, Name

One of those things needs to be in the title of the book you choose (ex. Water for Elephants, Red Queen, Fahrenheit 451, Rebecca, Harry Potter)
The Romanov Empress by C.W. Gortner (I read most of it in September so I'm counting it)

OCTOBER – Tricks and Trades

Read a book set in a theater, an amusement park, a circus, or a book involving magic, illusions, or characters with special powers.
Tilt-a-Whirl by Chris Grabenstein

NOVEMBER – Seasons, Elements, and Weather

Embrace a winter wonderland setting, pick a beach read, or read about a natural disaster. As long as a season, element, or the weather plays a key role in the story or is part of the title, it counts. (ex. Little Fires Everywhere, The Snow Child, On The Island)

DECEMBER – Last Chance

Finally read that one book that you’ve been meaning to get to all year long.

9SuziQoregon
Edited: Yesterday, 7:30pm Top

Five books every season

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

Five Books I Want to Read This Winter (before the Spring Equinox on March 20th)
This time around I'm focusing on series I haven't read in a while
√1. Visions in Death by J.D. Robb narrated by Susan Ericksen
√2. Shoot to Thrill by P.J. Tracy
3. The Marco Effect by Jussi Adler-Olsen
√4. Unleashed by David Rosenfelt narrated by Grover Gardner
√ 5. Breaking Silence by Linda Castillo

Five Books I Want to Read This Spring (before the Summer Solstice on June 21st)
√1. Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
√2. A Cold Day in Paradise by Steve Hamilton
√3. The Girl on Legare Street by Karen White
√4. Depth of Winter by Craig Johnson narrated by George Guidall
√5. The Colors of All The Cattle by Alexander McCall Smith narrated by Lisette Lecat

Five Books I Want to Read This Summer (before the Fall Equinox on September 23rd)
√ 1. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
√2. The Romanov Empress by C.W. Gortner
√ 3. S is for Silence by Sue Grafton
√ 4. When the Men Were Gone by Marjorie Herrera Lewis
5. The Travelers by Chris Pavone DNF at page 166

Five Books I Want to Read This Fall (before the Winter Solstice on December 21st)
√1. Tilt-a-Whirl by Chris Grabenstein
2. Winter of the Wolf Moon by Steve Hamilton
3. Be Careful What You Wish For by Jeffrey Archer
4. Thursday, 1:17 p.m. by Michael Landweber
5. Murder with Peacocks by Donna Andrews

10SuziQoregon
Edited: Yesterday, 7:26pm Top

My Rating Scale

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

- No stars – I couldn’t even finish it

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

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

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

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

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

11richardderus
May 1, 12:02pm Top

Oooh, I do love the reminder post in >2 SuziQoregon:.

The Johnstown Flood was a waaaaayyyyyyy-pre-LT (pre-internet, in fact) read that I deeply deeply resonated with. Such an infuriating tale, so involving, so sad.

Happy new thread.

12SuziQoregon
Edited: May 1, 12:35pm Top

To wind up April I listened to Christmas Present by Jodi Taylor narrated by Zara Ramm. It's another short story from the Chronicles of St. Mary's series. I had heard that this one should be read before reading book number five because it has some things you should know before reading that one. Not a problem for me - I enjoy the short stories related to this series. It was the usual crazy romp and a whole lot of fun.

Yesterday I finished rereading All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot. I'm so glad I reread it for the comfort reads category of the Nonfiction Challenge. It was just as delightful as I remembered. I'll probably continue with the series. I don't think I ever read any of the follow up books before.

I started listening to Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou narrated by Will Damron yesterday and I'm already hooked. Thanks to Mark for recommending this one.

In print - I started Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones. I've had this one on my TBR for AGES and I'm glad to finally be reading it.

13banjo123
May 1, 12:19pm Top

Happy new thread, Juli!

14drneutron
May 1, 2:01pm Top

Happy new thread!

15RebaRelishesReading
May 1, 4:02pm Top

Happy new thread, Juli!

16figsfromthistle
May 1, 4:10pm Top

Happy new thread! Love the topper :)

17BLBera
May 1, 4:37pm Top

Happy new thread, Juli. Yes! to the topper.

18jnwelch
Edited: May 1, 5:01pm Top

Happy New Thread, Juli!

Graphic novels: Right now I’m reading the second volume of the American Gods graphic adaptation (well done), and a funny and odd one I found at the library called Museum of Mistakes.

The one I’ve been most excited about recently is Good Talk by Mira Jacob. Our library had it, but if yours doesn’t it, I bet Powell’s has it and you can take a look there.

19FAMeulstee
May 1, 5:23pm Top

Happy new thread, Juli!

20msf59
May 1, 7:01pm Top

Happy New Thread, Juli! I am so glad you started Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup. It is an amazing book and perfect on audio.

I agree with Joe: I just started Good Talk and you can expect more warbling.

21SuziQoregon
May 2, 3:04pm Top

>11 richardderus: >2 SuziQoregon: will be a permanent fixture in my threads from now on ;-) Good to hear your thoughts on The Johnstown Flood.

>13 banjo123: , >14 drneutron:, >15 RebaRelishesReading: Thank you!

>16 figsfromthistle:, >17 BLBera: Thanks! Glad you like the topper.

>18 jnwelch: Thanks Joe. And thanks for the GN recommendations. My library does have Good Talk so I'll add it to the list.

>19 FAMeulstee: Thank you!

>20 msf59: I'm definitely enjoying the audio of Bad Blood. And it looks like Good Talk will get both the "Joe's Fault" and the "Mark's Fault" tags ;-)

22SuziQoregon
May 2, 3:09pm Top

I'm a week away from our long weekend getaway at the coast. We head over next Thursday right after work. Cannot wait. Speaking of countdowns, I'm officially less than a year away from retirement (end of next March). That seems a bit surreal and while it's the plan, I'm always aware that things could change and plans might need adjusting. Nevertheless I'm absolutely looking forward to it.

23SuziQoregon
May 2, 3:59pm Top



The Colors of All the Cattle by Alexander McCall Smith narrated by Lisette Lecat

It's book number 19 and I'm still listening and smiling while I do so. Obviously I love listening to Lisette Lecat narrate this series. It's always enjoyable.

The familiar characters are old friends by now. They mystery part is as usual rather light and more of a slight detour from the major story of Mma Ramotswe reluctantly running for a city council position.

This time around, Charlie the part time apprentice mechanic and part time junior detective in training gets to take a bigger role. It was nice to learn a bit more about him and see him in a bit of a different light.

24SuziQoregon
May 2, 4:00pm Top



Christmas Present by Jodi Taylor narrated by Zara Ramm

The Chronicles of St. Mary's series is a madcap time traveling adventure that I simply cannot resist. I also enjoy the short stories that Jodi Taylor releases in between the books. Typically, they are complete side trips from the storylines in the books but this one is an exception. I had heard that this one really should be read before book 5 because events of this one explain the presence of a character in that book.

I was going to listen to it anyway but if you tend to skip the short stories connected to series don't do that with this one.

The audio edition narrated by Zara Ramm is delightful. I think she manages to capture Max's sarcasm quite well in her narration.

A quick off the books trip to try to accomplish something good turns into the typical disasterfest that most St. Mary's missions become.

Just read the series. It's a blast.

25SuziQoregon
May 2, 4:01pm Top



All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot

I first read this when I was in high school over 40 years ago. I remember loving it but for some reason I never continued with the other books in the series. Last year a couple of people I know had reread it and said it was still enjoyable a second time around so I put it on my list to reread. Then my nonfiction challenge had "comfort reads" as the category for April. I decided it was the perfect comfort read.

The stories of the author's first couple of years as a veterinary surgeon in the Yorkshire countryside in the 1930's are simply delightful. Despite the sometimes less than delightful descriptions of the ailments and conditions that affect farm animals it's just charming.

The stories are quite loosely based on real events and people and so are likely embellished but still provide a sense of a slower and quieter way of life. They are also about caring for animals before many scientific discoveries that we now take for granted.

It's not a straight narrative from beginning to end and is the kind of book that is easy to read a chapter or two at time and come back to later.

Herriot tells these stories with a combination of tenderness and humor that will put a smile on your face. I'm so glad I reread it and this time I plan to continue with the rest of the series.

26RebaRelishesReading
May 2, 6:06pm Top

>23 SuziQoregon: I bought that one from Audible yesterday because Hubby and I like listening to Ladies #1 while on road trips. We'll be leaving in three weeks and that will be up first I imagine.

>25 SuziQoregon: I loved those books and the TV series. We recently watched the two actors from the TV series in a "road trip in a classic car" series on either Prime or Netflix. It was very smile inducing :)

27BLBera
May 3, 8:13am Top

Have a great weekend, Juli. Hooray for retirement.

28PaulCranswick
May 4, 8:57pm Top

Happy newish one, Juli.

I'm not expecting to retire myself so long as I keep enjoying my job so much, but the getaways look tempting.

29richardderus
May 5, 12:16pm Top

>24 SuziQoregon: Ain't it? I finished Hope for the Best and, apart from two w-bombs and four instances of malapropism, I was actually happier about this book than I have been in ages!

30SuziQoregon
May 14, 5:42pm Top

Hi there - back to normal routine today after a bit of a mini vacation at the beach. Had a great time. Walked many miles. Read a bit and just all around enjoyed the break.

I finished reading Silver Sparrow. I also read Lulu Anew which came highly recommended by both Mark and Joe. I started reading The Johnstown Flood by {{David McCullough. I knew vaguely about the flood, but never knew any detail. It's very interesting so far.

It was nice to get beck to listening to Bad Blood today. I should be able to wrap that one up this week.

31SuziQoregon
May 14, 5:45pm Top

>26 RebaRelishesReading: Oh Yay! I hope you enjoy it.

>27 BLBera: Thanks!

>28 PaulCranswick: Thank you Paul. I am seriously looking forward to retiring.

>29 richardderus: Yep! It'll be a while before I get to that one but I'm just enjoying the ride with every book.

32SuziQoregon
May 17, 6:06pm Top



Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

Dana says in the first sentence that her father is a bigamist. Dana and her mom are the secret family. Dana narrates the first half of the book. The second half is narrated by her half-sister Chaurisse narrates the second half.

Set in Atlanta and primarily in the 1980's this coming of age story is about both families. While James does everything he can to prevent his two wives and daughters from meeting it's obvious that it's only going to be a matter of time.

Jones has a beautiful way of telling a story. The complexity of the relationships was well portrayed.

I enjoyed the story but I never felt drawn into it. Even though Dana's telling of the first part was more compelling to me, I still felt distanced from the characters and the story.

I liked it but I didn't love it. I do think it would make excellent book club book. There is much to discuss.

33SuziQoregon
May 17, 6:07pm Top



Lulu Anew by Etienne Davodeau

I picked up this graphic novel after a couple of friends had recommended it.

Lulu is looking for a job after 15 years of raising her kids. After yet another failed interview, she decides to not go home quite yet. This leads to her leaving town, meeting a man, having some interesting experiences both good and bad.

What I loved about the book is the way it's told. Lulu's kids and friends are gathered and take turns telling what they know about what happened to Lulu and where she's been. It begins near the end of the story but quickly becomes a series of flashbacks about what has happened.

This leads to a bit of mystery about how this will all wrap up and some tense moments near the end regarding Lulu's ultimate fate.

The artwork is lovely. Mostly soft blues and oranges. Some panels have rapid-fire dialog and other pages have just images that convey parts of Lulu's story.

There were definitely some decisions Lulu made that I didn't agree with but haven't we all wanted to just run away at some point?

34EBT1002
Edited: May 20, 12:07am Top

>1 SuziQoregon: "I plan to be a regular for as long as the group and I are both around." Me too!!

>25 SuziQoregon: All Creatures Great and Small is one of my favorites. It's great for reading aloud with someone else at bedtime to help with dispelling stressful work-related musings and other sleep-alienating cognitions.

35EBT1002
May 20, 12:08am Top

Have you ever watched the old BBC series based on Herriot's books? It's quite delightful.

36SuziQoregon
May 20, 12:17pm Top

>35 EBT1002: No, I haven't but my library has the DVDs so I might watch it at some point. I've heard it's good.

37richardderus
May 20, 2:47pm Top

>32 SuziQoregon: Juli me deario, the news that this book has been optioned by African American producer Issa Rae should tell you that your take is spot on. There's a lot of intersection between book-clubbable books and ripe-for-adaptation books, IMO.

38SuziQoregon
May 20, 3:07pm Top

>37 richardderus: I totally agree and I think it could be really well done as a film if handled correctly and having Issa Rae as a producer feels like a good start.

39jnwelch
May 21, 2:11pm Top

Yay for Lulu Anew! I'm glad you enjoyed it, Juli. I'd liked the way the characters weren't movie star handsome/beautiful, and that her decisions were human and unpredictable. I felt she had learned a lot by the time she got home. I read there's to be a sequel - I look forward to that.

His The Initiates is different, but also quite good.

40SuziQoregon
May 21, 5:55pm Top

>39 jnwelch: Good to know - both about the sequel and his other book.

41SuziQoregon
May 23, 5:14pm Top



Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou narrated by Will Damron

I remember hearing about Elizabeth Holmes and her company, Theranos when she seemed to be the most talked about up and coming thing out of Silicon Valley. Then all of a sudden the news was very different and Theranos was gone and she was indicted for fraud.

When I heard about this book and that the audio edition was good I knew I'd be reading it. I had planned to read it later this year because it fit one of the categories for my nonfiction challenge. Then the documentary showed up on Netflix and I decided that I needed to listen to this now. I'm glad I didn't wait. This was very good and I'm looking forward to watching the documentary.

Elizabeth Holmes dropped out of Stanford to start her own company. She courted many famous investors and marketed her blood testing system to entities like Walgreen's, Safeway, and the US Military. Soon she was all over the news as the next tech billionaire.

The only problem was that her product didn't work. Had never worked, and probably wouldn't ever work.

Theranos was built on lies, misdirection, intimidation tactics, an obsession with Steve Jobs, and other people's money. Investigative journalist John Carreyrou of the Wall Street Journal got a tip, he began an investigation into the company and its promises. That investigation was part of what led to the collapse of the company.

He's now written this book about Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos, his investigation, and the epic collapse of the company. The story isn't over because the case against her is still in progress in the court system.

The audio edition is narrated wonderfully by Will Damron. This is the first book I've listened to that he's narrated but I will be looking to see what else he's narrated.

42SuziQoregon
Edited: May 23, 5:18pm Top



River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey narrated by Peter Berkrot

This alternate history novella is quite the caper ("it's not a caper it's an operation").

Gailey got her idea after reading about an early 20th century congressional plan to bring hippo ranching to the United States. She shifted the timeline a bit to the late-19th century, added a bit of anachronistic technology, and then simply just ramped up the wackiness.

This is a weird story. Winslow Houndstooth is hired to rid the bayou of feral hippos but he's also taking the caper (excuse me, 'Operation') to exact some revenge for past wrongs.

This was short and entertaining enough. It gave me something to listen to while working on a jigsaw puzzle. If it was any longer than novella length, I probably wouldn't have continued it but for four hours I managed to reluctantly grit my teeth and allow the author put the reservoir on the wrong side of a dam on the Mississippi river.

Peter Berkrot gave himself a workout with the narration of this one. The sheer number of different accents within four hours of book was crazy.

It's odd. It's funny at times, it’s weird in most parts, it’s not what I'd call 'good' but I might actually go ahead and listen to the second book.

43SuziQoregon
May 23, 5:14pm Top



The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough

Another extremely good book by David McCullough. I knew of the 1889 flood in Johnstown, Pennsylvania but only vaguely. I chose this book for the history category for my nonfiction challenge. I expected it to be well written because McCullough and it was something I wanted to learn more about.

In May 1889, a massive storm and a neglected and ill-repaired dam combined in a recipe for disaster. Originally planned to provide a source of water for a canal, the South Fork Dam was later owned by a fishing and hunting club catering to wealthy industrialists from Pittsburgh. When the dam failed, the water in the lake behind it and the debris it picked up along the way roared down the valley destroying nearly everything in its path and killing over 2000 people.

McCullough sets the stage and history then focuses on the fateful day. He then follows the water down the valley. There are descriptions of devastating damage, tales of heroism and tragedy. Once the water and debris hit Johnstown proper, it becomes a swirl of stories from survivors about what it was like to live through that day and the following days.

This was McCullough's first book. I've read and enjoyed some of his later work and I'm glad I read this early one. Definitely recommended.

44RebaRelishesReading
May 24, 8:10pm Top

>43 SuziQoregon: I didn't realize The Johnstown Flood was McCullough's first book. It was far from the first of this that I read (and I have read them all except the collection of essays/speeches) but it was one of my favorites I think because I knew so little about the subject. I find that he is able to take subjects that are of little interest to me and make them into a page-turner. He is absolutely one of my favorite authors.

45Berly
May 26, 6:37pm Top

>24 SuziQoregon: Oh, I don't think I have read that sidebar in the St Mary's series--thanks!!

Happy new-ish thread. And Sunday. : )

46SuziQoregon
Jun 4, 1:20pm Top


>44 RebaRelishesReading: Yes - it was excellent. He's one of my favorites too.

>45 Berly: It's fun!

47SuziQoregon
Jun 4, 1:28pm Top

I really haven't dropped off the planet - my boss retired and my job has exploded into a daily eight hour game of whack a mole. I'm counting the days until I retire at the end of the year.

Anyway . . . .

I read Quantum Age by Jeff Lemire. It's another spinoff related to his Black Hammer series. I liked it but I tend to like anything Jeff Lemire does.

I finished listening to To The Far Blue Mountains by Louis L'Amour narrated by John Curless. It's the second in the Sacketts series. Nothing spectacular but entertaining audiobook entertainment.

I'm still reading The Girl on Legare Street which it seems like I've been reading for a long time but I just haven't had much print reading time lately. I'm enjoying the book though.

This morning, I started listening to Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny narrated by Robert Bathurst

48BLBera
Jun 4, 1:58pm Top

>43 SuziQoregon: This sounds really good, Juli.

49SuziQoregon
Edited: Jun 10, 2:43pm Top



Quantum Age by Jeff Lemire

I'm a sucker for anything Jeff Lemire writes. While I've never been a big reader of superhero comics, his series and spinoffs in his world of Black Hammer are wonderful. The main story is about a group of Golden Age Superheroes. The recent spinoffs have been quite varied. This one takes place a hundred years in the future of the primary Black Hammer storyline.

Earth is now ruled by a tyrant and the former teenage members of The Quantum League are reuniting. The story jumps back and forth a bit over a twenty-five year time jump but it all works and was an interesting side trip.

I believe it takes some familiarity with the other Black Hammer books to understand some of the references so I don't really think this works well if you haven't read those.

The artist for this series is Wilfredo Torres who does a great job of keeping characters and places fitting in with the rest of the series yet still managing to make them his own.

Even if you don't think you like superhero comics I encourage you to give the Black Hammer series and it's spinoffs a try.

50SuziQoregon
Edited: Jun 20, 11:04am Top



To The Far Blue Mountains by Louis L'Amour narrated by John Curless

I had never read anything by Louis L'amour until I listened to the first book in his series about the Sackett family. I enjoyed the book and the narrator and decided to continue with the series.

Set in the early 1600's this volume continues the story of Barnabas Sackett as he manages to elude a warrant in England and make his way back to the new world and the Blue Ridge Mountains he's been dreaming of ever since he returned to England.

It's part adventure and part family saga. Sackett manages to fight pirates and make friends with the Native Americans. There are plenty of hard to believe coincidences but it's entertaining and easy to let that kind of thing slide by.

I enjoy listening to John Curless. He narrates the first few books in the series and I look forward to hearing more.

51msf59
Jun 9, 7:34pm Top

Happy Sunday, Juli. Sorry to hear that work has been a chore. I hope things improve for you. We had similar feelings about the L'Amour and I will have to request the Lemire. It blows me away, how prolific he is.

52jnwelch
Jun 10, 1:11pm Top

Good review of Quantum Age, Juli. I've enjoyed the Black Hammer books, and read one spin-off. I'll look for this one.

Have you read Lemire's Gideon Falls books yet? I'm not a horror buff, but these have his usual deft touch, and I'm hooked.

53SuziQoregon
Jun 14, 7:47pm Top

Super busy at work seems to be my fate but it's only until the end of the year. I can make it. I did manage to make myself sit down and read when I got home a couple of times this week. I finally finished The Girl on Legare Street by Karen White. It was good, not great but I enjoyed it. It just took me a long time to read for a gazillion reasons. I'm glad to be moving on to new books.

I started The Dinner by Herman Koch and also The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui.

Today we had the day off work and headed south. We're spending a long weekend in Southern Oregon and seeing a couple of plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Tonight we wrap up seeing the whole canon with All's Well that Ends Well. Tomorrow night we're seeing Hairspray. Tomorrow during the day our plan is to visit a couple of wineries. It's just nice to get away for a long weekend.

We have another road trip next weekend so I have several shorter audio books for us to listen to. Today we started Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson narrated by Bryson. It's been interesting and perfect for this weekend.

54SuziQoregon
Edited: Jun 14, 7:49pm Top

>51 msf59: Thanks Mark- it's just going to be weird at work - at least it's only for a limited time. I know what you mean about Lemire - crazy the way he keeps them coming.

>52 jnwelch: Yes I did read the first Gideon Falls - I felt the same way - horror is not my favorite genre but he's managed to get me hooked. I hope to read the second one soon.

55richardderus
Jun 14, 9:04pm Top

>53 SuziQoregon: Have a wonderful time in Ashland!

56RebaRelishesReading
Jun 15, 9:26am Top

Wow! The whole canon! I'm so impressed. Hope you have a lovely weekend away.

57banjo123
Jun 15, 1:49pm Top

Looking forward to hearing your Ashland reviews! We go down in September.

And sorry about the whack-a-mole at work. I know what that is like.

58SuziQoregon
Edited: Jun 15, 7:39pm Top

All's Well That Ends Well last night was just a lot of fun. We really enjoyed the way they staged it and added some modern music. The actress who plays Helen is wonderful.

Today we started with mini-golf, then headed out to do some wine tasting. Lunch and tasting at Red Lily Vineyards outside of Jacksonville. A lovely setting and a nice antipasto style platter for lunch. From there we went to Trium Wines tasting room between Medford and Ashland. We've been going to the Trium Winery for years but a couple of years ago the owner passed away and his wife sold the winery to her son and there's now a new winemaker and a new tasting room. We were pleased to find out the recent wines show a lot of promise and their new tasting room is very nice.

Tonight's play is Hairspray. Really looking forward to it. Tomorrow we head home but probably need to play another round of mini golf before we hit the road.

59SuziQoregon
Jun 15, 7:46pm Top

>55 richardderus: Thanks - so far it's been a great weekend.

>56 RebaRelishesReading: Yep it's taken us a while. We've been coming down here for over twenty years. We've been waiting for them to do All's Well That Ends Well so we could finish off the canon. The last time they did it was in 2009 but there were other plays that year that we really wanted to see so we missed it. Glad to finish them all off. Now we need to find the certificates on the OSF website that we can print.

Next year they're doing a two part combination of the three Henry VI plays. It's adapted by and directed by the woman who directed Henry V last year which was one of the best we've ever seen in Ashland. That means that Richard III is probably on tap for 2021.

>57 banjo123: We liked All's Well That Ends Well - so hope that's on your plan for September.

60SuziQoregon
Jun 16, 10:56am Top

>57 banjo123: If you don’t already have Hairspray on your plans for Ashland in September you should see if you can add it. It was fabulous! One of the best musicals we’ve seen at OSF.

61banjo123
Jun 16, 5:00pm Top

We are seeing All's Well, but not Hairspray. We go with a community ed group, so the plays are picked for us. We could try to see an extra play, but I am afraid that five plays in a go would be too much for me.

62SuziQoregon
Jun 17, 12:11am Top

>61 banjo123: Yeah that’s a lot.

63BLBera
Jun 17, 8:50am Top

It sounds like you had a wonderful weekend, Juli. One of these days I will make it to Ashland.

64SuziQoregon
Jun 20, 11:07am Top



The Girl on Legare Street by Karen White

This is the second in a series. I read the first one years ago and then added this one to my TBR list but just never got around to reading it until now. I liked the first one and I have a hard time resisting books set in Charleston, South Carolina. It's one of my favorite cities.

As with the first one, this is a bit of a mix of genres. It's part historical fiction, part almost romance, part mystery, and a touch of paranormal with a main character who can see ghosts. I enjoyed the parts about Charleston's history and the mystery was interesting even though most readers will figure things out before the characters in the book do.

The main character, Melanie, is one of those characters that I occasionally want to slap for being stupid or stubborn, or unnecessarily rude. Granted, she's got a lot going on in her life with the mother she hasn't seen in 33 years back in town, but nevertheless she kind of bugged me more than she didn't in this book.

All in all there was more that I liked in this book than what I didn't like but I'm still not sure I'll continue with the series.

65SuziQoregon
Jun 24, 4:50pm Top



Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson

We listened to this one on a road trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. We were there to the last play we needed to check off seeing all of the Shakespeare's Canon. We've been going there for over twenty years and have finally seen all the plays. It just seemed appropriate to listen to this on that trip.

Bryson wrote this as part of Harper Collins' Eminent Lives series. It's a rather light biography of Shakespeare and in typical Bryson fashion bounces around quite a bit with various detours of topic but in a fun way.

We learned a lot about Shakespeare and his family as well as about theater in London at that time. Much of what we think we know about Shakespeare is not certain at all.

This was the first of Bryson's books that I've listened to and I enjoy his narration of his work. I will definitely consider the audio edition next time I plan to read a book by Bryson.

If you're looking for a scholarly biography about Shakespeare, this is not the book. If you want about five and a half hours of entertaining tidbits about what might be true about Shakespeare, then consider this one for your next road trip.

66RebaRelishesReading
Jun 24, 4:56pm Top

Hi Juli! I'm totally impressed with your Shakespeare records -- 20 years in Ashland and ALL of the plays. Wow! I have enjoyed every Bryson book I've read and I can imagine you're right about him narrating them. I haven't read Shakespeare and it might just make a good book for my trip this fall. Thanks!

67richardderus
Jun 24, 4:56pm Top

>65 SuziQoregon: Sounds much more my speed than a scholarly tome, and Bryson's a treat to read when he's on his game.

68SuziQoregon
Jun 26, 12:37pm Top

>66 RebaRelishesReading: It's pretty cool to be able to say we've seen them all in Ashland. I will definitely consider audio for my next Bryson book. Hope you enjoy the Shakespeare one.

>67 richardderus: We both enjoyed it.

69SuziQoregon
Jun 26, 12:37pm Top



The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

Several people recommended this illustrated memoir to me. I'm glad I paid attention because it's very good.

It opens with the author giving birth to her son. This leads her to examine her complicated relationships with her own parents. She goes back to tell the stories of her parents as they grew up in Vietnam in the years during and after the First Indochina War. She then continues with her parents’ marriage, births, and deaths of their children and the author's own birth just a few months before the fall of Saigon.

The family stayed in Vietnam for a few years but fled in 1978, eventually making their way to the United States. Their experiences as refugees and adapting to life in the US are still relevant today.

This was a moving and thought provoking memoir. I learned a lot about Vietnam and its turbulent history leading up to the Vietnam War.

I loved the way she illustrated it. It's black and white drawings with splashes of sepia tones.

70BLBera
Jun 30, 9:31am Top

It's amazing that you have seen all of the plays, Juli! I have the Bryson on my Shakespeare shelf and will get to it at some point. It sounds like it is good as an audiobook, so I may look for that.

>69 SuziQoregon: This sounds very good as well. Onto the list it goes!

71PaulCranswick
Jun 30, 9:50am Top

Wishing you a wonderful Sunday, Juli.

72SuziQoregon
Jun 30, 6:20pm Top

>70 BLBera: It took us a while but I'm glad we finally got the last one checked off. We really enjoyed the Bryson Shakespeare book for the road trip to Ashland. I think you'll like The Best We Could Do.

>71 PaulCranswick: Thank you, Paul. It's been a busy day with chores but i'm winding up the to do list and plan to spend some time on the patio with a cocktail and a book soon.

73SuziQoregon
Edited: Jun 30, 6:27pm Top

Work is just nuts these days. but I got through another month and only have six months to go. I just keep telling myself - I can get through this. Looking forward to a fairly short week at work this week. I've got Wednesday off to prep for our family July 4th BBQ then Thursday off for the holiday. I am working on Friday but I'm expecting that to be a pretty quiet and hopefully productive day.

Last night we went out to a new to us Peruvian restaurant - it was delicious. Then we went to a local theater to see Into the Woods. An excellent production. Our first time at this theater but this morning we bought tickets for their October show. it's Once, which apparently won a bunch of awards but I know nothing about it.

Today I've been busy with laundry, washing windows, cleaning off the front porch, etc. The Hubster has been out back pressure washing. I need to get tomorrow's blog post done then I'm heading to the newly clean patio with my book and a Lemon Drop.

I finished listening to Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny narrated by Robert Bathurst on Friday. I liked parts of it but there were several things that seriously annoyed me. I'm not sure I'll read more of the series.

74SuziQoregon
Jun 30, 6:26pm Top



Voice of the Violin by Andrea Camilleri narrated by Grover Gardner

This series makes great road trip audiobooks for us. They're interesting mysteries set in Sicily with plenty of humor thrown in. The main character, Inspector Salvo Montalbano is a bit crusty and cynical, but he loves good food and it's hard not to get hungry listening to one of these books.

The mystery this time ended up more complicated than it started because Montalbano was pulled off the case and it was transferred to another investigative squad. Of course, Montalbano solved it anyway.

Grover Gardner's narration continues to be perfect for this series. He wonderfully captures Montalbano's sarcasm and I have to believe he has a good time with the different characters and accents.

There are minor continuing storylines but not so much that it makes reading to listening to the series in order that important. I definitely recommend the audio editions. Try one on your next road trip.

75richardderus
Jun 30, 7:25pm Top

>69 SuziQoregon: If you're interested in the Vietnamese immigrant experience, may I draw your attention to Dao Strom's novel Grass Roof, Tin Roof? I fancied it.

>73 SuziQoregon: Six months! It can feel like eternity day-by-day, but it will be over soon. Courage, ma amie!

>74 SuziQoregon: I quite liked that entry into the series. How Salvo learns of the crime was a lovely touch.

76SuziQoregon
Jul 8, 9:14pm Top

>75 richardderus: Oooh - thanks for the recommendation!

Yes the six months will be over soon. I'm hanging in there.

We both really enjoyed this Montalbano book.

77SuziQoregon
Jul 8, 9:20pm Top



Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny narrated by Robert Bathurst

This one was good but is definitely not my favorite of the series. The book alternates between two stories that proceed separately and do not intertwine. One of those stories is about Armand Gamache, and his friend Myrna Landers from Three Pines along with a new character who have been designated liquidators of a woman's will. The unusual element is that none of these three people seem to have known this woman. When a body is found in the woman's house it quickly becomes a murder case.

The second story is a continuation from the previous book about a shipment of drugs that has not been recovered and is a deadly disaster in the making if the drugs hit the streets. This part of the book was both predictable and annoying to me. I figured it out fairly quickly. The annoying part was Penny's use of the phrase "junkies, trannies and whores" to describe the people in this part of the story. She used it often and repeatedly and it really bothered me. One of these is not like the other. If I had been reading the print edition, I would have skipped over the parts of the book that were devoted to this story line.

I was interested in the murder mystery story and that was the reason I continued with the book. I just wish I had chosen the print edition this time around so I could have only read the half that I liked.

While this book certainly sets up an ending to the series, Penny has another one coming out next month. I'm not sure whether or not I'm going to read it.

78SuziQoregon
Jul 8, 9:21pm Top



Stitches: A Nemoir by David Small

David Small is an award-winning Children’s book author and illustrator. It makes sense that he would write his own memoir in a graphic novel format.

Before leaving home at sixteen to live on his own and become an artist, Small had an unusual childhood. He was sick a lot as a child and his father (a doctor) treated his ongoing ailments with a variety of treatments including lots of x-rays. When David had surgery at age fourteen he woke up with a long incision on his throat and unable to speak. He later found out that he'd had cancer and his parents hadn't told him.

His parents were emotionally distant and terrible at appropriately channeling their anger and unhappiness. The dysfunctional home that Small grew up is terrible and depressing to read about. His drawings convey the innocence of his childhood and his own escapes into his artwork.

This is a powerful memoir and while sad and, in some ways, horrifying it's also a story of how most of the family overcame and succeeded and were happy.

79Berly
Jul 9, 1:58am Top

Whew! Work sounds like it is crazy and I can't believe you have an end in sight, I mean and end end!! Congrats on seeing all of the Shakespeare plays at Ashland. I haven't been down there in years and I really should go again soon. If only life would calm down a little....

Happy Tuesday!

80SuziQoregon
Jul 16, 1:18pm Top

Hi there - work is still just draining but July has lots of fun stuff that helps. Had the 3rd and 4th off and a nice barbecue with family and friends at our house. Then had last Friday off and we went up to my brother and sister-in-law's place in the Columbia Gorge for our annual family/Friends BBQ and weekend long get together. Had a great time. Nice to see our one year old great niece - she and her parents were down from Anchorage for the weekend.

Working all week this week then we're off to the coast all next week - Yay. I always plan on reading a lot when we're there but then I get distracted and just watch the waves on the rocks right off the back deck. We'll see how much I manage to actually read this year. Mostly I'm looking forward to vacation.

I'm listening to Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes narrated by Julia Whelan. It's just delightful. A fun romance with a touch of baseball and plenty of humor. Enjoying it a lot.

I started reading Queen Victoria: Daughter, Wife, Mother, Widow by Lucy Worsley
(That's the UK title - my copy has the US title Queen Victoria: Twenty Four Days That Changed Her Life.) It's not a typical birth to death biography. Worsley decided to focus on 24 specific days that were important to or in Victoria's life. So far it has been her parents wedding day, Victoria's birth, her father's death, and now the day she learned that she would one day be queen. I'm enjoying the book. We've watched several historical documentaries with Lucy Worsley and enjoyed them. This is the first of her books I've read.

81SuziQoregon
Jul 16, 1:19pm Top

>79 Berly: Yep - that end in sight is what's keeping me sane these days!

82richardderus
Jul 16, 4:34pm Top

>80 SuziQoregon: I was unaware that Worsley wrote books until now. I have watched her TV programs with interest just not known of the books. I like Bettany Hughes's books and her TV work, so I'm interested to see how Lucy Worsley's compare to each other.

Happy July!

83msf59
Jul 16, 9:05pm Top

Hi, Juli. Thanks for giving us an update. I hope the week goes by quickly, so you can take that coastal vacation. Sounds lovely.

I also loved Stitches. It was one of my very first GNs, and got the ball rolling for me.

84SuziQoregon
Jul 18, 10:25pm Top

>One more day and as of about 4pm tomorrow I'm on vacation - Yay!

85SuziQoregon
Jul 18, 10:29pm Top



The Dinner by Herman Koch

Two couples meet for dinner in a nice restaurant. Over the course of the meal the events that led up to these two couples needing to get together to talk are gradually revealed. IN between what happens at the dinner are flashbacks to what happened previously.

It's impossible to say anything more about the plot without giving away too much. This was an interesting story and one that is just asking to be discussed. I liked the way Koch structured the story with the slow reveal and gradual fleshing out of the characters.

I thought it was good but it's not one that was good enough for me to be widely recommending. Interesting and very discussable sum up my feelings about this one.

86BLBera
Jul 22, 8:50am Top

Have a great vacation, Juli.

87SuziQoregon
Aug 5, 2:29pm Top

Hi there -
It's been a while. We had a wonderful week at the coast. Spectacular weather the whole time. Back to work last week and it was just nonstop all week. It's just mentally and physically exhausting. Luckily we had a nice quiet weekend. Today seems to be a little mellower at work but I fear that's just the calm before the next storm.

I have managed to do some actual reading.

I finished listening to Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes narrated by Julia Whelan. It was simply delightful.

While we were on vacation we listened to The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster narrated by Rainn Wilson. It was fabulous. We'd both read the book for the first time just a few years ago. When I'd heard about this new audio edition I knew it would be good for a road trip. The brilliant wordplay comes through even stronger on audio vs in print. It also includes an introduction by Norton Juster. I already want to listen to it again.

I started listening to S is for Silence by Sue Grafton narrated by Judy Kaye. I decided to pick up the series and finish it off after last reading R is for Ricochet back in 2004. I decided to give the audios a try and I like the narrator and will likely finish out the series with the audio editions

In print I finished reading Queen Victoria: Twenty-Four Days that Changed Her Life by Lucy Worsley. It was good. An interesting approach to a biography of her.

I started reading A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman Just too many people I trust seem to love this author so I finally picked it up. It's definitely got some laugh out loud moments so far.

I'm also reading Initiates: A Comic Artist and a Wine Artisan Exchange Jobs by Etienne Davodeau and loving it.

Hoping to get caught up on reviews soon.

88SuziQoregon
Aug 5, 2:30pm Top

>86 BLBera: Thank you. It was much needed and a lovely week.

89Berly
Aug 7, 2:38am Top

Glad you had so much on your VK. I need to get back to Sue--I think I am on E or F. I am another fan of Ove--hope you enjoy him, too. Happy Hump Day!

90SuziQoregon
Edited: Aug 12, 11:50am Top

>89 Berly: Thanks Kim! I'm enjoying the Grafton. The audio narrator is good. I'll probably stick with audio to finish out the series.

91SuziQoregon
Aug 7, 2:48pm Top

Yesterday I finished Initiates: A Comic Artist and a Wine Artisan Exchange Jobs by Etienne Davodeau. I liked this graphic novel quite a bit.

"Etienne Davodeau is a comic artist. He doesn't know much about the world of wine-making. Richard Leroy is a wine-maker. He's rarely even read comics. But these two are full of good will and curiosity. Why do we choose to spend one's life writing and creating comics or producing wine? How and for whom do we do them? To answer these questions, for more than a year, Etienne went to work in Richard's vineyards and cellar. Richard, in return, leapt into the world of comics. They opened a lot of bottles and read many comics. They traveled around, meeting authors and wine-makers sharing their passion for their jobs. The first time a book explores the nature of a man's vocation with a true life representation of it from two very different perspectives. They get to realize they both have that precious and necessary power to bring people together" -- from publisher's web site.


The art is lovely black and white drawings. The story of these two men and the discovery that their very different careers have many similarities is interesting. I learned a lot about drawing and publishing comics as well as about growing grapes and making wine.

92jnwelch
Aug 8, 10:02pm Top

>94 Oh, I'm glad you liked it, Juli. I'm a fan of Initiates: A Comic, too. Lovely drawings, as you say, and an interesting couple of guys to learn from.

93PaulCranswick
Aug 9, 11:49pm Top

>87 SuziQoregon: Lucy Worsley is quite an interesting historian, Juli. She is often on the Tv in the UK.

Have a lovely weekend.

94richardderus
Aug 10, 2:49pm Top

>91 SuziQoregon: That sounds just strange enough that I might enjoy it!

Happy weekend reads.

95SuziQoregon
Aug 11, 5:15pm Top

>92 jnwelch: I enjoyed it quite a bit. Thanks so much for recommending it.

>93 PaulCranswick: She's a hoot on her documentaries. This is the first time I've read one of her books.

>94 richardderus: I think you would!

96SuziQoregon
Aug 11, 5:15pm Top



Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes narrated by Julia Whelan

I have known of and followed Linda Holmes since the early days of the shows Survivor and Amazing Race. She wrote the recaps for Television Without Pity and moderated their forums. From there she ended up at NPR writing about Pop Culture and hosting the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. Because of following her, I was aware of this book long before it was actually published so it felt like I waited for it for ages. Once Holmes tweeted about her happiness with the audiobook narrator and recording process, I immediately pre-ordered the audiobook.

That was an excellent decision. This book was utterly delightful. Julia Whelan is a new to me narrator and she's excellent. I liked that Holmes recorded the acknowledgements herself rather than having the narrator do those.

The story is a bit of romance, a bit of baseball, a bit of humor, and a bit of probably several other genres. The main characters were all slightly flawed but smart and likeable. I want to sit down and have a beer or two with these people.

I liked that the relationships progressed and changed realistically. There weren't a bunch of unbelievable coincidences or love at first sight type moments.

It's a smart, witty, completely enjoyable book and I hope she writes another one.

97SuziQoregon
Aug 11, 5:15pm Top



The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster narrated by Rainn Wilson

This is one of those children’s books that I never read as a kid. I somehow missed it completely. I finally read the print edition a few years ago and then immediately handed it to The Hubster and made him read it since he'd missed it as a kid too. We both loved it.

Earlier this year I found out that there was new audio edition coming that was narrated by Rainn Wilson. I listened to a sample and discovered that (as I expected) he was perfect to narrate this. I bought it and saved it for a road trip. We finally listened to it on our vacation to the coast. At less than five hours, it was perfect for the drive there and to finish on the way home.

I already want to listen to it again. I loved the book all over again. I think the brilliant wordplay comes across even better when it's heard rather than read. Rainn Wilson is an inspired choice for narrator. His slight inflections and pauses in just the right places truly highlight the cleverness of this book.

This edition includes an introduction read by Norton Juster that was delightful.

Do yourself a favor and listen to this.

98SuziQoregon
Edited: Aug 11, 5:16pm Top



Queen Victoria: Twenty-Four Days That Changed Her Life by Lucy Worsley

We have watched several documentaries hosted by Lucy Worsley and we have both enjoyed them. When I heard she had a new book coming out about Queen Victoria I knew I'd be reading it.

This is not a typical birth to death biography. Worsley has chosen to focus on twenty-four specific days important to her life. Her parent's marriage, her father's death, the day she found out she was next in line to the throne, etc. It's an interesting approach.

Each chapter does include things other than what happened on that specific day. Obviously, that's needed to give context and background; the focus does remain on the events of that particular day.

I enjoyed the book and while the format was interesting, I'm not convinced it completely worked. There were times I wished it was a more traditional biography. Nevertheless, it was interesting and informative.

99SuziQoregon
Aug 11, 5:16pm Top



The Initiates: A Comic Artist and a Wine Artisan Exchange Jobs by Etienne Davodeau

I liked Davodeau's earlier graphic novel (Lulu Anew) and a friend had said this one was good too. It's completely different. Rather than a fictional story this is nonfiction but still in graphic novel format.

Davodeau spent a year learning about making wine from a winemaker while at the same time the winemaker learned about comics and graphic novels from Davodeau.

This book is both beautiful and interesting. The artwork is black and white drawings but many are beautiful landscapes of vineyards and countryside even without additional colors added to the pages. There are also many lively panels depicting the conversations Davodeau and his friend had with other winemakers as well as comic artists and people in the publishing industry.

I learned a lot about both professions and enjoyed the time these two men spent together. Even though the two men have very different careers and passions they managed to highlight the similarities.

100BLBera
Aug 12, 11:37am Top

I'm making notes of the good audiobooks, Juli. I've started to listen while I sew. Our library has a new app that makes it so easy to download audiobooks. A big plus for someone like me.

101SuziQoregon
Aug 12, 11:46am Top

>100 BLBera: Oh nice!!

102SuziQoregon
Aug 12, 11:51am Top

I'm still reading and enjoying A Man Called Ove. I'm about halfway through listening to S is for Silence.

I was reading an article about the new movie The Kitchen and found out that it's based on a comic series. My library had the book available so yesterday I started reading The Kitchen by Ollie Masters.

103SuziQoregon
Edited: Aug 30, 1:46pm Top



A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman


I have heard so many people I trust say that they like this author and this book. I decided it was finally time to give it a try. I loved it. I made The Hubster start reading it as soon as he finished the book he was reading.

Ove is a curmudgeon but he grew on me. In some ways he reminded me of a few people I know. I absolutely love Parvaneh, his new neighbor who just refuses to let Ove dismiss her and her family.

At the beginning of the book, Ove is grieving for his wife and ready to die. His need to fix things keeps interfering with his plans to die and along the way; he unwittingly ends up being the one fixed.

I found myself giggling quite often while I was reading this. It's utterly charming. Yes, it's predictable and at times a little repetitive but it's simply enjoyable. I plan to read more by this author.

104SuziQoregon
Aug 30, 1:46pm Top



S is for Silence by Sue Grafton narrated by Judy Kaye


When I first discovered Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone series there were only about eight books available. I pretty much binged those and then consistently read the new ones as soon as they were released. I got a little tired of the series and stopped reading after R.

When Grafton passed away and the series ended with book Y I decided that after 15 years it was time to pick up the series again and maybe finish off the final seven books. I'd never listened to the audio editions so I decided to go with audio for S.

I enjoyed Judy Kaye's narration. She feels like a good voice for Kinsey and I enjoy listening to her. I will probably finish the series with the audio editions.

It was easy to be comfortable in Kinsey's world and the internetless 1980's even after all these years.

This one deals with a mystery from 34 years earlier than that. Violet Sullivan disappeared in 1953 and now in 1987 her daughter hires Kinsey to see if she can find out what really happened. The chapters alternate between Kinsey's current investigation and flashbacks of what really happened in 1953.

It was fun to be back with Kinsey and I enjoyed the narrator. I figured out who did it somewhere in the 7th cd but it took three more cds for Kinsey to figure it out.

105SuziQoregon
Aug 30, 1:47pm Top



The Kitchen by Ollie Masters


I'd seen a few commercials for the new movie The Kitchen about a group of mobster's wives who take over the business while their husbands are in jail. It's set in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York in the late 1970's. I read an article about the movie that mentioned that it was based on a comic series and that piqued my interest. Lucky for me, my library had a copy. It's 8 issues collected in one book

The initial premise of the comic series is the same as the movie but I have no idea whether the two stories play out the same. I'll have to check out whether the movie is fairly similar to the comics or not.

It's about mobsters so I wasn't surprised to find it full of violence and language that's similar to a Sopranos episode. It took me a bit to figure out the relationships between the women and their significant others. There are some things that I thought were rather predictable and other times I was rather surprised at the direction Masters took the plot.

It was well done but as I said, very violent. I'm glad I read it. It's hard to use the word good because there really isn't a good character to be found.

The artwork by Ming Doyle and Jordie Bellaire is both detailed and rough. The feel of the urban 70's landscape is well done.

106SuziQoregon
Aug 30, 1:47pm Top



When the Men Were Gone by Marjorie Herrera Lewis


This was a good book to read leading up to football season. The story is based on a real person but the author said there were too many dead ends in her research to do a nonfiction book so she decided to make it a novel.

In 1944 in Brownwood Texas, most of the men are away fighting World War II. Without a coach, the school is considering cancelling the football season.

Assistant Principal Tylene Wilson grew up a football fan and learned all she knows about the game from her father. She knows that without football to keep them in school that the seniors on the team will probably leave school early to enlist and head off to war. She convinces the principal to let her coach the team and keep the kids from leaving any sooner than necessary.

The fathers, the coaches of other teams, even the boys on the team themselves are not happy with the prospect of a female coach.

It's an interesting story and a quick read. I liked it but I wish I had felt more of a connection to the characters.

107SuziQoregon
Aug 30, 1:47pm Top



Oranges by John McPhee


This little book was recommended by a couple of people in my nonfiction reading group. Although it was published in 1967, it only seems dated in a few places.

McPhee originally started his research intending to write a magazine article about oranges and orange juice but he found enough interesting information to make the article a book. I had no idea that a book about oranges could be so interesting. I learned all kinds of interesting things.

McPhee covers the history of oranges and how and when the spread throughout the world. His focus is on the orange industry in Florida. He covers how orange growing got started in the state and how it expanded despite several devastating freezes over the years.

At the time McPhee wrote this the era of frozen orange concentrate was beginning to boom and he laments the preference for that over fresh juice. I grew up drinking orange juice from frozen concentrate but the juice I buy now specifically says 'not from concentrate' on the label.

I loved McPhee's writing style. I learned a lot about oranges. I will seek out more of his work.

108SuziQoregon
Aug 30, 1:49pm Top



Don't Make Me Pull Over: An Informal History of the Family Road Trip by Richard Ratay narrated by Jonathan Todd Ross


This was a fun audiobook. The author is a just a few years younger than me so his experiences of family road trips brought back a lot of memories of my own.

It's partly about his family and their vacations when he was growing up. Interspersed in between are many detours into history. It reminded me a bit of the way Bill Bryson will take off on a tangent and go into detail about the history of something.

Ratay manages to cover the history of the automobile, building the interstate highway system, rest areas, fast food, hotel chains, etc. I enjoyed it.

If you remember the days before seat belts were mandatory or if you ever stayed in a Holiday Inn Holidome, I'd recommend this one.

I listened to the audio edition narrated by Jonathan Todd Ross. He's easy to listen to and a narrator that I'd be happy to find again.

109SuziQoregon
Aug 30, 1:49pm Top


The Cross-Eyed Mutt by Etienne Davodeau


I picked this graphic novel up at the library because it was written by Etienne Davodeau and I've enjoyed two of his other books. I didn't realize until after I read it that it's part of a collection of graphic novels by various artists commissioned by The Louvre that feature the museum. The Louvre Collection series has a wide variety of styles. My library has several of them and I hope to read more of them.

The Cross-Eyed Mutt by Etienne Davodeau

I picked this graphic novel up at the library because it was written by Etienne Davodeau and I've enjoyed two of his other books. I didn't realize until after I read it that it's part of a collection of graphic novels by various artists. The series was commissioned by The Louvre and they all feature the museum. The Louvre Collection series has a wide variety of styles. My library has several of them and I hope to read more of them.

This was a fun little story and I loved the artwork featuring some of the exhibits in the Louvre. It was nice to see glimpses of some favorite pieces in the backgrounds.

The story is about a security guard at the Louvre who meets his girlfriend’s family for the first time. The family finds out he works at the Louvre and asks him to arrange for a painting by their great great grandfather's painting placed in the Louvre. The painting turns out to be hilariously bad.

This is a fun little story with plenty of humor and romance. It's rather delightful.

As with his other books, Davodeau's artwork is lovely. It's all black and white drawings but the details of the backgrounds both at the Louvre and in the countryside is wonderful.

110RebaRelishesReading
Aug 31, 11:44am Top

>103 SuziQoregon: So glad you liked One, Juli. I just loved that book. I liked most of his books although, for me, this one is the best.

111BLBera
Sep 8, 9:41am Top

Wow, Juli - You've been busy.

The road trip one sounds like a good one; my family did a lot of road trips when I was growing up.

I've only read A and B of the Grafton books. I keep thinking I should start from the beginning and read through. Audio sounds like a good option for those.

I hope you're having a great weekend. Kim and I will see each other later.

112SuziQoregon
Sep 18, 4:59pm Top

>110 RebaRelishesReading: I liked it a lot. The Hubster is enjoying it too.

>11 richardderus: I have. Nice that you and Kim got together.

113SuziQoregon
Sep 18, 5:00pm Top



The Mating Season by P.G. Wodehouse narrated by Jonathan Cecil


The Jeeves and Wooster books by P.G. Wodehouse are simply delightful. The audio editions narrated by Jonathan Cecil are my favorite format for them. They're not really laugh out loud humor but it's humor that definitely makes you smile.

This one plays out a bit like a Shakespearean romantic comedy. There are people pretending to be other people. There are multiple couples who are mixed up with people other than the ones they truly love. There are madcap adventures to keep the people who know who the pretenders really are from dropping in and revealing the truth. And of course everything works out the way it should.

It's a fun bit of romantic meddling which is Bertie Wooster's specialty.

Do yourself a favor and listen to the audio editions of the Jeeves and Wooster books.

114SuziQoregon
Sep 18, 5:00pm Top



Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert's Story by Debbie Tung


I absolutely loved this graphic novel. It's a series of short comics of scenes from the author's life over a period of several years.

It starts when she's in college then continues as she falls in love and marries an extrovert and starts a career. The drawings are all black and white washed ink style that sometimes are fairly sparse and other times have more detailed backgrounds.

I could see myself throughout this book. So many panels and sequences felt familiar because I had lived them at some point. There's one panel about being at a party as an introvert with an extroverted spouse that I swear was pulled from my past.

As an introvert and book lover like Tung I loved this one.

115jnwelch
Edited: Sep 19, 6:58am Top

Yay for Bertie and Jeeves, and yay for Quiet Girl in a Noisy World! I love both. We just saw Stephen Fry (Jeeves) on stage in the London Palladium, doing the “Gods” portion of his book Mythos.

116SuziQoregon
Sep 19, 10:45am Top

>115 jnwelch: Oh how wonderful!!

117SuziQoregon
Oct 1, 1:45pm Top

Three months to go to retirement. Work continues to be extremely busy and stressful. I'm counting down the days until I'm done and can get back to reading and participating here.

I miss you guys.

118RebaRelishesReading
Oct 1, 5:28pm Top

>117 SuziQoregon: Ah yes, retirement is wonderful!!

119jnwelch
Oct 3, 8:13pm Top

Agreed! You’re so close!

120SuziQoregon
Oct 7, 1:56pm Top

>118 RebaRelishesReading: I cannot wait!

>119 jnwelch: Yep- less than three months - Yay!

121Berly
Oct 10, 2:50am Top

Wow, your are so close to the big R!! Let me know when we get to celebrate. : )

122banjo123
Oct 12, 12:28am Top

Wow! It seems like you are too young to retire, but congratulations!

123msf59
Edited: Oct 12, 6:40am Top

"Three months to go to retirement."

Hooray, Juli! How exciting. My countdown has begun too, but I am still looking at 10-plus. With Bree's wedding next year, it is definitely going to be one for the "books", as they say!

I also loved Quiet Girl. Glad to see you felt the same. Miss seeing you around.

124EBT1002
Oct 12, 6:55pm Top

I'm glad you liked Stitches. I thought it was an excellent graphic memoir, a genre I have come to appreciate.

I'm not much of an introvert but I am planning to read Quiet Girl in a Noisy World. As I get older and given how people-intensive my job is, I feel like I've become more appreciative of alone time.

125EBT1002
Oct 12, 6:58pm Top

I just noticed the "three months to retirement" bit -- congratulations! I have at least 34 months to go. If things get worse again I could retire sooner than that but I'd really like to make it that far for financial reasons. I will celebrate with you when the end of this year comes around!

126SuziQoregon
Edited: Yesterday, 7:46pm Top

>121 Berly: Yep - counting down the days. We will definitely get together to celebrate.

>122 banjo123: Thanks! It's that magic age where I can draw on retirement savings without penalty. I'm lucky that The Hubster will still be working so that we can manage health care coverage through his employer.

>123 msf59: Wow - I hadn't realized you have a wedding as well as your retirement next year. A banner year for sure. Also congrats to Bree!

>124 EBT1002: I thought Stitches was just excellent. I'm glad I paid attention to others who recommended it. I totally understand that 'could' retire date vs. the date when it would be smarter to do so. I just hope things with your job remain manageable.

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