TalkJuli (SuziQoregon) Reads - Thread 2

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75 Books Challenge for 2019

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Juli (SuziQoregon) Reads - Thread 2

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May 1, 2019, 11:47am

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.

Edited: May 1, 2019, 11:49am

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

Edited: Oct 20, 2019, 7:38pm

Books read May through September
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

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

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

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

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

Edited: Dec 29, 2019, 8:18pm

Currently Reading

Currently Listening To

Edited: Oct 20, 2019, 7:34pm

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.

Edited: Oct 20, 2019, 7:32pm

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.

Edited: Dec 31, 2019, 2:04pm

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

Edited: Oct 20, 2019, 7:26pm

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”.

May 1, 2019, 12:02pm

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.

Edited: May 1, 2019, 12:35pm

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.

May 1, 2019, 12:19pm

Happy new thread, Juli!

May 1, 2019, 2:01pm

Happy new thread!

May 1, 2019, 4:02pm

Happy new thread, Juli!

May 1, 2019, 4:10pm

Happy new thread! Love the topper :)

May 1, 2019, 4:37pm

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

Edited: May 1, 2019, 5:01pm

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.

May 1, 2019, 5:23pm

Happy new thread, Juli!

May 1, 2019, 7:01pm

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.

May 2, 2019, 3:04pm

>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 ;-)

May 2, 2019, 3:09pm

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.

May 2, 2019, 3:59pm

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.

May 2, 2019, 4:00pm

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.

May 2, 2019, 4:01pm

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.

May 2, 2019, 6:06pm

>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 :)

May 3, 2019, 8:13am

Have a great weekend, Juli. Hooray for retirement.

May 4, 2019, 8:57pm

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.

May 5, 2019, 12:16pm

>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!

May 14, 2019, 5:42pm

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.

May 14, 2019, 5:45pm

>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.

May 17, 2019, 6:06pm

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.

May 17, 2019, 6:07pm

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?

Edited: May 20, 2019, 12:07am

>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.

May 20, 2019, 12:08am

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

May 20, 2019, 12:17pm

>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.

May 20, 2019, 2:47pm

>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.

May 20, 2019, 3:07pm

>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.

May 21, 2019, 2:11pm

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.

May 21, 2019, 5:55pm

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

May 23, 2019, 5:14pm

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.

Edited: May 23, 2019, 5:18pm

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.

May 23, 2019, 5:14pm

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.

May 24, 2019, 8:10pm

>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.

May 26, 2019, 6:37pm

>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. : )

Jun 4, 2019, 1:20pm

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

>45 Berly: It's fun!

Jun 4, 2019, 1:28pm

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

Jun 4, 2019, 1:58pm

>43 SuziQoregon: This sounds really good, Juli.

Edited: Jun 10, 2019, 2:43pm

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.

Edited: Jun 20, 2019, 11:04am

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.

Jun 9, 2019, 7:34pm

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.

Jun 10, 2019, 1:11pm

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.

Jun 14, 2019, 7:47pm

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.

Edited: Jun 14, 2019, 7:49pm

>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.

Jun 14, 2019, 9:04pm

>53 SuziQoregon: Have a wonderful time in Ashland!

Jun 15, 2019, 9:26am

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

Jun 15, 2019, 1:49pm

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.

Edited: Jun 15, 2019, 7:39pm

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.

Jun 15, 2019, 7:46pm

>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.

Jun 16, 2019, 10:56am

>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.

Jun 16, 2019, 5:00pm

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.

Jun 17, 2019, 12:11am

>61 banjo123: Yeah that’s a lot.

Jun 17, 2019, 8:50am

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

Jun 20, 2019, 11:07am

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.

Jun 24, 2019, 4:50pm

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.

Jun 24, 2019, 4:56pm

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!

Jun 24, 2019, 4:56pm

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

Jun 26, 2019, 12:37pm

>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.

Jun 26, 2019, 12:37pm

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.

Jun 30, 2019, 9:31am

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!

Jun 30, 2019, 9:50am

Wishing you a wonderful Sunday, Juli.

Jun 30, 2019, 6:20pm

>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.

Edited: Jun 30, 2019, 6:27pm

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.

Jun 30, 2019, 6:26pm

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.

Jun 30, 2019, 7:25pm

>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.

Jul 8, 2019, 9:14pm

>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.

Jul 8, 2019, 9:20pm

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.

Jul 8, 2019, 9:21pm

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.

Jul 9, 2019, 1:58am

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!

Jul 16, 2019, 1:18pm

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.

Jul 16, 2019, 1:19pm

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

Jul 16, 2019, 4:34pm

>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!

Jul 16, 2019, 9:05pm

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.

Jul 18, 2019, 10:25pm

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

Jul 18, 2019, 10:29pm

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.

Jul 22, 2019, 8:50am

Have a great vacation, Juli.

Aug 5, 2019, 2:29pm

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.

Aug 5, 2019, 2:30pm

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

Aug 7, 2019, 2:38am

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!

Edited: Aug 12, 2019, 11:50am

>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.

Aug 7, 2019, 2:48pm

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.

Aug 8, 2019, 10:02pm

>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.

Aug 9, 2019, 11:49pm

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

Have a lovely weekend.

Aug 10, 2019, 2:49pm

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

Happy weekend reads.

Aug 11, 2019, 5:15pm

>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!

Aug 11, 2019, 5:15pm

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.

Aug 11, 2019, 5:15pm

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.

Edited: Aug 11, 2019, 5:16pm

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.

Aug 11, 2019, 5:16pm

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.

Aug 12, 2019, 11:37am

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.

Aug 12, 2019, 11:46am

>100 BLBera: Oh nice!!

Aug 12, 2019, 11:51am

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.

Edited: Aug 30, 2019, 1:46pm

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.

Aug 30, 2019, 1:46pm

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.

Aug 30, 2019, 1:47pm

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.

Aug 30, 2019, 1:47pm

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.

Aug 30, 2019, 1:47pm

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.

Aug 30, 2019, 1:49pm

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.

Aug 30, 2019, 1:49pm

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.

Aug 31, 2019, 11:44am

>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.

Sep 8, 2019, 9:41am

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.

Sep 18, 2019, 4:59pm

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

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

Sep 18, 2019, 5:00pm

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.

Sep 18, 2019, 5:00pm

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.

Edited: Sep 19, 2019, 6:58am

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.

Sep 19, 2019, 10:45am

>115 jnwelch: Oh how wonderful!!

Oct 1, 2019, 1:45pm

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.

Oct 1, 2019, 5:28pm

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

Oct 3, 2019, 8:13pm

Agreed! You’re so close!

Oct 7, 2019, 1:56pm

>118 RebaRelishesReading: I cannot wait!

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

Oct 10, 2019, 2:50am

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

Oct 12, 2019, 12:28am

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

Edited: Oct 12, 2019, 6:40am

"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.

Oct 12, 2019, 6:55pm

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.

Oct 12, 2019, 6:58pm

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!

Edited: Oct 20, 2019, 7:46pm

>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.

Oct 21, 2019, 5:50pm

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe narrated by Dennis Quaid

I've seen the movie version of this multiple times but it's been many years. A friend of mine recommended this audio edition and I decided to read it when I figured out it would count for my nonfiction challenge 'Book by a Journalist' category.

At the beginning, I wasn't too sure about Dennis Quaid's narration. Quaid played Gordon Cooper in the movie so having him do the narration seemed to feel right. The problem was that at times, he seemed a bit over exuberant and other times the volume of his voice would drop and it seemed like he was swallowing his words. I stuck with it and fairly quickly got used to his narration style and I'm glad I listened to it rather than reading a print edition. Wolfe's writing style is almost conversational so having someone narrate it in the way Qauid chose to makes sense.

Although I knew much of the story from the movie and other sources, I still enjoyed hearing it. It made me want to watch the movie again. It's a classic in nonfiction about spaceflight and well worth a read. Wolfe has taken some valid criticism for his implications that Gus Grissom was at fault for the hatch blowing after splashdown of his Mercury capsule. Take that portion of the book with a grain of salt because it's at odds with what is now considered true.

Oct 21, 2019, 5:50pm

The Romanov Empress by C.W. Gortner

I've been fascinated with the Romanov Dynasty ever since I read Robert K. Massie's Nicholas and Alexandra when I was in High School. It's pretty easy to convince me to read both nonfiction and fiction about the family that ruled Russia for three hundred years.

I read C.W. Gortner's The Confessions of Catherine de Medici many years ago and loved the fictional memoir style. When I found out that his latest book was another fictional memoir but this time about Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia (the mother of Nicholas II) I knew I'd read it.

It took me a while but I finally got around to it and enjoyed it immensely.

Yes, it's a fictionalized memoir but Gortner does extensive research on his subjects so there's definitely truth to much of the history.

I liked his choice to use the viewpoint of the mother of the Nicholas II. It allows for a broader perspective than many of the books (both fiction and nonfiction) that focus on Nicholas and Alexandra and their children. Dagmar (later Maria) grew up as a minor royal until her father unexpectedly inherited the throne of Denmark. She was only 19 when she went to Russia and was a witness to the last 50 years of the Romanov rule of the country.

This is excellent historical fiction that will have you looking up the facts and images of the real events and people. I highly recommend this. I need to get around to reading the rest of Gortner's books sooner rather than later.

Oct 22, 2019, 3:19pm

A Pumpkin Hunt on LT??

Well there goes my afternoon

Oct 23, 2019, 6:51am

>129 SuziQoregon: LOL, Juli, my evening was gone, got them all so I can go back to reading :-)

Oct 23, 2019, 12:45pm

>130 FAMeulstee: I found them all too. These are always fun!

Oct 29, 2019, 1:44pm

Tilt-a-Whirl by Chris Grabenstein narrated by Jeff Woodman

I've had the ebook of this on my ereader for years. I was so impressed with Jeff Woodman’s narration of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil that I went looking for other audiobooks he's narrated. This one popped up and I found out he narrated the whole series so I decided to get the audiobook. That was a good choice.

This is an interesting mystery with quite the cast of characters. Woodman does an excellent job and I'm looking forward to listening to the rest of the series.

It's set in a resort town on the Jersey Shore. Danny the narrator is working for the summer as a temporary police officer for the busy summer season. He's teamed up with an ex-military police officer who has some issues. For one thing, he doesn't drive so Danny is his partner primarily to be his driver.

The murder mystery revolves around a wealthy man who shot to death after he and his young daughter have snuck into the amusement park early in the morning before it was open.

I enjoyed the mystery and its twists and turns. I liked the main characters. John Ceepak is a great detective and he and Danny working together make for some interesting conversations. I loved the light humor and sarcasm scattered throughout the book.

This is the first in a series I plan to continue.

Oct 29, 2019, 1:45pm

Book Love by Debbie Tung

This collection of comics came highly recommended by several friends. I loved Debbie Tung's graphic novel Quiet Girl in a Noisy World and could relate to its story of an introvert surrounded by extroverts. It was clear from that book that she loves reading and books so I wasn't surprised to see that her other book is about that love.

Rather than a narrative graphic novel, it's really a collection of short comics about the author's life as a bibliophile. Most of them are only one or two pages long.

As I was reading it, I absolutely saw myself in the comics. I loved this book. I heartily recommend it. I think you'll love it too.

Oct 29, 2019, 6:44pm

Hi, Juli. I loved Quiet Girl in a Noisy World and Book Love, too. They seem perfect for LTers.

Nov 9, 2019, 3:47pm

Hi Juli - I did love Quiet Girl in a Noisy World. I will have to give Book Love a try as well.

How many days until retirement? Do you have any immediate big plans? A trip around the world, or something?

Nov 9, 2019, 11:48pm

I will have to look for Book Love.

Nov 10, 2019, 12:03am

>133 SuziQoregon: I will be another on the look out for this one.

Have a lovely weekend, Juli.

Edited: Nov 10, 2019, 8:35pm

>134 jnwelch: Thank you for recommending them!

>135 BLBera: As of today - 50 Days to go. No major plans because The Hubster will still be working for a few years. I've got a lot of projects around the house I want to tackle. I'm considering a couple of different volunteer opportunities. I will definitely be reading more!!

>136 banjo123: >137 PaulCranswick: I think you'll both like it.

Nov 10, 2019, 8:45pm

Just letting you know that I have now bought tickets for my Christmas trip to Oregon. I will be in Corvallis December 23 through 27, and can meet with the crew if people are able. If not, there's always next time!

Nov 10, 2019, 8:48pm

>139 The_Hibernator: Oh - I will keep an eye on your plans. Would love to see you again!!

Nov 10, 2019, 8:49pm

Be Careful What You Wish For by Jeffrey Archer

This is the fourth book out of seven in Archer's Clifton Chronicles series. The series follows multiple generations of a family through the 20th Century. This book takes place in the early 1960's. Each of the books ends with a cliffhanger so I'm glad I didn't start to read the series until Archer was finished writing it.

The Clifton/Barringtons are successful people with talented offspring and plenty of enemies who want to see them fail. That’s pretty much the plot of all the books in the series and it’s an entertaining story. It's not great literature but it's the book version of a good (and pretty) television miniseries.

I really enjoyed the financial games that were crucial to one of the big turning points in this book. I'm looking forward to finding out what happens next with this family.

Nov 10, 2019, 8:49pm

The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University by Kevin Roose narrated by the author

Kevin Roose was a student at Brown University when he was assisting A.J. Jacobs who was researching his book The Year of Living Biblically. The two of them made a trip to Jerry Fallwell's Thomas Road Baptist Church. Roose met some students from nearby Liberty University, which was founded by Fallwell.

Roose decided to enroll at Liberty for a semester to learn about Evangelical Christians. He sort of did a domestic semester abroad to learn about a culture that was very different from his own. He didn't tell the Liberty students that he was not an Evangelical Christian nor that he was planning to write a book about his semester there.

This book is interesting and I learned a lot about a culture very different from my own. Roose is very fair to the subjects. He covers both what he considered good and not so good about life at Liberty and as an Evangelical Christian. At several points, he struggles with the ethics of keeping his secret. He did eventually go back and tell the friends he'd made the truth.

Roose narrates the audio edition himself and while he's not making a career out of audiobook narration, he does a decent job. I highly recommend this one and I will be recommending that The Hubster make this his next audiobook.

Nov 10, 2019, 8:49pm

Thursday, 1:17 p.m. by Michael Landweber

Duck is a 17 year old walking around Washington DC a few hours after his mother died. Then time stops. However, it only stops for everyone and everything but Duck. No one is moving. Machines don't work. He's not going to starve because with time stopped all the food will remain fresh.

It's an interesting premise and I enjoyed this book. Duck has to figure out how to manage and survive. He's a kid so he does some immature and stupid things but he also spends a lot of time analyzing his situation.

Duck narrate the story and he inserts periodic chapters written as a guidebook for what to do if you're ever in his situation. He has a quirky sense of humor and there's a bit of fun here and there in between Duck's thinking about his past and his relationships with his family and friends.

It's a quick read but one that will leave you thinking.

Nov 10, 2019, 8:50pm

Gideon Falls Vol. 2: Original Sins by Jeff Lemire

I used to read a lot of horror and supernatural books, but I pretty much have stopped reading much in those genres. This series is an exception simply because it's Jeff Lemire. I'm predisposed to like anything he does, and this series is no exception. It's a mix of supernatural and horror and definitely darker than much of Lemire's other work. The first volume was a lot of setup and stage setting but drew me in and got me hooked.

This second volume begins to answer some questions but also raises many more. Andrea Sorrentino's artwork continues to be impressive. Some of the pages have extremely creative layouts. While most of it is dark and moody there are some spectacular scenes and others that are fairly gritty looking. The layouts definitely add to the story.

The story continues to move back and forth between the small town of Gideon Falls and a large city. There are connections but the answers to what it all means will have to wait for more of the series.

While this kind of story isn't my usual cup of tea, I'm hooked and absolutely recommend it.

Nov 11, 2019, 5:53pm

>143 SuziQoregon: This one does sound interesting, Juli.

Nov 29, 2019, 3:07pm

Juli--Happy Day After!! I hope you had fun with food and friends and that you have lots of leftovers (so you can have more time to read, of course!!).

>144 SuziQoregon: Ooooh! I like Jeff Lemire. I will have to ad that one to the list. Thanks!

And enjoy the weekend. : )

Nov 30, 2019, 10:27am

>145 BLBera: I thought it was pretty good.

>146 Berly: Thanks Kim.

Edited: Dec 1, 2019, 8:19pm

One month to go to retirement. I'm so ready to not be this busy. I'm going to finish this year with the lowest number of books read since I started keeping track. I plan to make up for that next year.

Dec 3, 2019, 10:05pm

Land of Wolves by Craig Johnson narrated by George Guidall

I've enjoyed the audio editions of Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire series narrated by George Guidall for many years. As with any long running series, some books have been better than others. The one before Land of Wolves was a disappointment so I was hoping that this one would reignite my love for the series. Let's say it reignited my like for the series.

It was good to be back in Walt's hometown with the wonderful cast of supporting characters. The mystery was interesting and kept me guessing as the story played out. It was nice to enjoy a Walt Longmire book again.

It was not without its flaws, though. I thought Johnson overplayed the way Walt's dislike of cell phones became a full-on inability to understand computers. It was a little much. Secondly, I did wish that Henry Standing Bear had been around more than he was in this one.

I am looking forward to the next book and seeing what will happen next for Walt and his friends. I will definitely get the audio edition because I love George Guidall's narration.

Edited: Dec 3, 2019, 10:15pm

Winter of the Wolf Moon by Steve Hamilton

Earlier this year I finally read the first book in Steve Hamilton's Alex McKnight series. It had been hanging out on my ereader for years. Even before I had finished it I added the rest of the series to my TBR list. This is the second book and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the third one soon.

Alex McKnight is a former Detroit cop who has left the department and moved to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and manages a group of cabins that his father built. It's a small town in an area with a pretty harsh climate. He doesn't really want to be a private detective but for the second time he gets drawn into an investigation.

It's a good series with good mysteries, interesting characters and a setting that's a little different.

Dec 7, 2019, 1:10pm

I've begun to (recklessly) put book bullets on hold at the library, and so I've reserved the first in the Alex McKnight series and also the second in the Walt Longmire series. This is after going through a month of Joe Welch's thread. I'm sure they will all crash down on me at the same time!

Dec 8, 2019, 2:03pm

>151 ffortsa: LOL - of course they’ll all show up at once. Happens to me quite often.

Dec 10, 2019, 2:18pm

You're almost there, Juli! I'm actually at work now, but I only come in once a month now. Lots of time for reading and other good things. You're going to love it, I know.

That's a fair reaction to Land of Wolves. Likeable, but not a standout. More Henry, please!

Dec 10, 2019, 3:06pm

>153 jnwelch: Three weeks! It'll be a crazy busy three weeks but the end is in sight.

Yes - More Henry!

Dec 20, 2019, 3:02am

3 weeks to go, but who's counting? We are!!!

Dec 20, 2019, 3:08am

Also, Rachel (The Hibernator) is coming to Portland December 23-27. Are you free? I think after Christmas might be easier....

Dec 20, 2019, 10:48am

>155 Berly: I am too! 6 actual work days after today!!

>156 Berly: Unfortunately I'm swamped both at home and at work until after the 31st. I hate to miss out on a meetup but I just can't make this one.

Dec 21, 2019, 4:06pm

Soviet Santa says "Happy Yule!" Solstice Greetings to all. Read more here:

Dec 25, 2019, 1:57am

SIX actual work days? Until retirement? Congratulations!!!

And ...

from stormy Kauai!

Dec 25, 2019, 9:51pm

Thank you for keeping me company in 2019.......onward to 2020.

Dec 26, 2019, 10:57am

>158 richardderus: That was great! Thanks!

>159 EBT1002: Well now it's down to three after today and that last one will not won't actually include much "work". Mostly I'll be hanging around until they hand me my final check. Hope you're having a great Hawaiian getaway.

>160 PaulCranswick: Thanks and same to you.

Dec 26, 2019, 11:59pm

Best wishes this holiday season!! See you in 2020!

Dec 27, 2019, 12:31pm

>162 Berly: Thanks Kim! and you definitely will see me in 2020. Looking forward to having time to be more present here online and seeing you in person.

Dec 27, 2019, 3:09pm

Great! And the meetup did not happen because Rachel was sick. : ( Hoping to reschedule this summer...

Dec 29, 2019, 10:22am

Happy retirement! Happy new year! Do you have any big immediate plans?

Dec 29, 2019, 8:04pm

>164 Berly: Oh no! Sorry to hear Rachel was sick. Hoping I can make the summer rescheduled meetup.

>165 BLBera: Thanks - I have tomorrow and about a half day on Tuesday then I'm done. Immediate plans include lots of reading. These past 6 months or so at work have been so stressful that once I get home and chores done I haven't been able to concentrate on reading for more than a page or two. I'm taking the first few weeks as sort of a vacation then I have a bunch of projects I want to tackle around the house. The Hubster will still be working for a couple of years so we don't have big life changing plans at this point.

Dec 29, 2019, 8:09pm

Frida: The Story of Her Life by Vanna Vinci

I was looking for a book about an artist for my nonfiction reading challenge and discovered this while browsing the library catalog. It's a biography in graphic novel format. I knew of Frida Kahlo but I really didn't know much about her or her artwork. This format makes a wonderful way to learn about both. Much of the art is based on or is a rendition of her paintings.

There is a bit of magical realism in this as the framing structure is Frida having a conversation with death about her life. Because her paintings are often a bit surrealistic this structure works well.

I enjoyed this quite a bit. It encouraged me to seek out images of Kahlo's work online. Her life was short but colorful and passionate.

Dec 29, 2019, 8:09pm

Monet: Itinerant of Light by Salva Rubio

I happened across this at the library while picking up a different graphic novel and after paging through it ended up bringing it home.

This is a lovely biography in graphic novel format. The artwork is simply beautiful.

Monet is another one of those people that I knew of but didn't know much about. This is a wonderful way to learn about both him and his work. It begins with a friend bringing Monet home after cataract surgery in 1923. While he is pondering the potential loss of his sight he reflects on his life and tells his own story.

I learned a lot about Monet as well as many other artists who were his friends and rivals.

The appendix was a wonderful addition to this. The author and illustrator showed photos of the real paintings by Monet and others that they used as inspiration for many of the panels in the book.

This is worth seeking out at your local library.

Dec 29, 2019, 8:10pm

To the Land of Long Lost Friends by Alexander McCall Smith narrated by Lisette Lecat

I thoroughly enjoy the audio editions of this series narrated by Lisette Lecat. She's delightful to listen to and I don't have to struggle with pronunciations of names and places in Botswana.

As usual the mystery part of the book is rather light. The daily lives of Precious Ramotswe and her friends and coworkers are the main part of the story. Because of this I don't recommend reading or listening to this series out of order. While the books would still be enjoyable, the ongoing stories are better known in order.

Do not pay any attention the publishers summary of this book. It contains things that are not in the book.

Once again, I loved spending time in Botswana with Mma Ramotswe and Lisette Lecat.

Dec 29, 2019, 8:10pm

How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems by Randall Munroe

Randall Munroe is the author of the XKCD comics. The inside flap of this book says:
"For any task you might want to do, there’s a right way, a wrong way, and a way so monumentally complex, excessive, and inadvisable that no one would ever try it. How To is a guide to the third kind of approach. It’s full of highly impractical advice for everything from landing a plane to digging a hole."

And that's exactly what it is. It's hilarious and informative all at the same time. It's full of interesting information and the scenarios illustrated with his signature artwork are so far-fetched it's ridiculous.

I giggled my way through this. It may have been a little too much to read straight through. I wish I hadn't needed to worry about a due date at the library. This is one that might be better consumed one chapter at a time with breaks in between.

Dec 29, 2019, 8:10pm

An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten

This is a series of short stories featuring Maud, and 88-year-old Swedish woman with no family or friends. She lives in a large apartment rent free thanks to an agreement made many years ago.

Maud likes her routine and her quiet life that allows her to travel extensively. When she's bothered, however, she's not above a little murder.

If you like dark humor this little book of five stories is quite a bit of fun.

Dec 29, 2019, 8:10pm

Island of the Lost by Joan Druett narrated by David Colacci

This is a fascinating nonfiction book about two different groups of shipwrecked sailors in 1965. Auckland Island is far south in between New Zealand and Antarctica. It is a harsh place and when two different shipwrecks happened within a few months of each other, neither group of survivors was aware that there were people on the other side of the island.

What's so fascinating is that the two groups were so drastically different. The five men on the Grafton worked together and helped each other. Thanks to the resourcefulness of the leaders they managed to survive for nearly two years. The nineteen survivors of the wreck of the Invercauld had a markedly different outcome. They disagreed, split into smaller groups, and did not fare well. Only three survived.

The audio edition narrated by David Colacci is very good. This is the first time I’ve listened to him and would not hesitate to pick up another audio narrated by him.

I did pick up the print edition from the library while I was listening because I wanted to see the map in it for reference.

Edited: Dec 29, 2019, 9:27pm

And that will wind up my reading for 2019. I don't anticipate finishing anything else before Tuesday night. I'm winding up this year with the fewest books read since I started keeping track in 2003. As I said to Beth up above, the past seven months since my boss retired and they did not replace her have been extremely stressful at work. By the time I got home and took care of things that needed to be done at home I could only concentrate on reading for a page or two.

I'm looking forward to detoxing from my work environment and plunging wholeheartedly into retirement in 2020. The Hubster will still be working for a couple of years so many things about our current routine will remain the same. My goal is to maximize his weekends by getting household chores and errands done during the week instead of us having to do all of that on weekends.

I'm definitely looking forward to being around here more regularly and catching up with folks I have woefully neglected since June.

Miss you guys! See you in 2020!!

Dec 29, 2019, 8:20pm

Congratulations on your almost-here retirement. Enjoy yourself and read a lot!!

Dec 29, 2019, 8:41pm

Enjoy your retirement, Juli.

Dec 29, 2019, 9:21pm

Dec 30, 2019, 2:10am

Have fun your last day and a half, Juli! Hooray for more reading. See you next year -- at least on your thread.

Dec 30, 2019, 8:29am

Almost there, Juli!

You got me with Monet: Itinerant of Light. I've added it to the WL. These graphic bios can be really good. One I liked a lot was Frida Kahlo: An Illustrated Life by Maria Hesse, and her new one Bowie: An Illustrated Life is very good, too.

Dec 30, 2019, 3:45pm

>177 BLBera: Thanks!

>178 jnwelch: I think you'll really like the Monet book. I'll check the library for the two you recommended.

Dec 31, 2019, 6:08pm

Here's to a less stressful, more book-filled 2020!!

Wishing you 12 months of success
52 weeks of laughter
366 days of fun (leap year!)
8,784 hours of joy
527,040 minutes of good luck
and 31,622,400 seconds of happiness!!

Dec 31, 2019, 6:16pm

>180 Berly: Love it! Thanks!