VivienneR in Christie's Footsteps - Part 3

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This topic was continued by VivienneR in Christie's Footsteps - End of the year!.

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VivienneR in Christie's Footsteps - Part 3

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Edited: Jul 2, 2019, 1:07pm

Ashfield, Christie's birthplace & Greenway, a later home used in Five Little Pigs, Towards Zero, and Dead Man’s Folly

I've been a fan of Agatha Christie since I was in my pre-teen years and I've always been fascinated by her travels.

Christie never fell into the trap of setting too many murders in one location, thus avoiding potshots from critics about the spot being a very dangerous place to live. Instead, she used her fondness for large country homes and typical English villages, as well as personal travel experiences to provide backdrops for her stories.

No targets, I'll be reading whatever jumps off the shelf - and probably a few shiny new books. I plan to include as many CATs as possible, and Bingo of course.

I can also be found over at the Club Read group

Edited: Jul 27, 2019, 1:15am

Golden Age & Cozy Mysteries

Chipping Cleghorn in A Murder is Announced, King’s Abbott in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and an artist's idea of Miss Marple's cottage at St Mary Mead

  • Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie
  • The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie
  • A Likely Story by Jenn McKinley
  • The golden tresses of the dead by Alan Bradley
  • Death of a Perfect Wife by M.C. Beaton
  • 9VivienneR
    Edited: Nov 2, 2019, 8:54pm


    Andover, Bexhill-on-Sea, and Churston from The ABC Murders

    January: Q & A: Queenpin by Megan Abbott
    February: K & O: On writing: a memoir of the craft by Stephen King
    March: U & L: Into the beautiful north by Luis A. Urrea
    April: B & M: Milkman by Anna Burns
    May: H & V: Death of a Valentine by M.C. Beaton
                    Hamlet by Shakespeare
    June: J & D: Death of an expert witness by P.D. James
    July: C & P: The Patience of the Spider by Andrea Camilleri
    August: N & I: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
                    Dr. No by Ian Fleming
    September: F & W: The Devil's Feather by Minette Walters
    October: G & T: Gallows Thief by Bernard Cornwell
                    The woman in blue by Elly Griffiths
                    Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

    November: S & Y
    December: E & R
    Year-long X & Z: The Lost City of Z: a tale of deadly obsession in the Amazon by David Grann

    Edited: Nov 4, 2019, 3:31pm


    Meadowbank School for Girls from Cat Among the Pigeons

    I may not read in all of the CATegories every month. These titles are included in my categories above.

    January 26th, Burns Night: The Black Book by Ian Rankin
    January 1st, Polar Bear Swim Day: The Healer by Antti Tuomainen
    February 5th, Chinese New Year: Flower net by Lisa See
    February: 10th & 14th: (Grammy Awards & Valentine's Day): I think I love you by Allison Pearson
    March 8, International Women's Day: Best of Women's Short Stories 3
    March 17th, St Patrick's Day: The Secret Place by Tana French
    March 27th, Joe Day (Joe Sandilands series): The Last Kashmiri Rose by Barbara Cleverly
    April: Ordeal by innocence by Agatha Christie
    April 26th, Hug an Australian Day: Thirty-three teeth by Colin Cotterill
    May 25th, Jazz Day: Solo Hand by Bill Moody
    June: The Blackwater lightship by Colm Tóibín
    July: Canada Day: Starlight by Richard Wagamese
    July: US Independence Day: The Fala Factor by Stuart Kaminsky (4th of July)
    August 17: V.S. Naipaul birthday: The Masque of Africa: Glimpses of African Belief by V.S. Naipaul
    August 19, Aviation Day: Death of an Airman by Christopher St John Sprigg
    September: International Peace Day 21st: Goodnight from London by Jennifer Robson
    September: Ondaatje's birthday: Warlight by Michael Ondaatje
    September 6: Read a book day: Alone in the Classroom by Elizabeth Hay
    October 1: International Day of Older Persons: The 100 year-old man who climbed out the window and disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
    October 11: International Day of the Girl: Funny Girl by Nick Hornby

    January - In translation: Rounding the mark by Andrea Camilleri
    March - Favourite author: Cold is the Grave by Peter Robinson
    June - Series complete: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
    August - Set where you do not live: The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths
    September - Cozy, by the sea: Trial of Passion by William Deverell
    October - Historical: Murder on the Lusitania by Conrad Allen

    January - Last in, first out: Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje
    February - Borrowed: A room full of bones by Elly Griffiths
    June - Bullet: Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce
    July - Multiple by author owned: Silent Scream by Lynda La Plante
    August - Somehow still on the tbr list: Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley
    September - Classics: The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
    October - cover with visual appeal: Still life by Louise Penny
    November - a gift: Travelling in a Strange Land by David Park

    January - Your name in print: Vivienne - Gently Where She Lay by Alan Hunter
    February - We need a break: Paris for one and other stories by JoJo Moyes
    March - Brexit: This was a Man by Jeffery Archer
    April - Tournament of Books: Circe by Madeline Miller
    May - I could have danced all night: High Plains Tango by Robert James Waller
    June - Pick a card: Priest by Ken Bruen
    July - Bird connection: A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders
    August - Back to school: Slam by Nick Hornby
    September - Equinox: Days by Moonlight by André Alexis
    October - knock-off, follow-ups, tributes, parodies: Devil may care by Sebastian Faulks
           and The Penelopiad: The myth of Penelope and Odysseus by Margaret Atwood

    Edited: Jul 2, 2019, 2:17pm

    Welcome! New thread is open for business.

    Jul 2, 2019, 2:25pm

    Happy new thread! I love seeing all those houses.

    Jul 2, 2019, 2:55pm

    Thank you, It's good to see you drop in!

    Jul 2, 2019, 2:57pm

    Faraway places, Canada, translations

    First Love by Ivan S. Turgenev 4★

    Late evening after dinner, three middle-aged men remember their first love. For two of them the experience had no noteworthy aspects, but the third gave an account of his passion for an "older" woman when he was sixteen. As the daughter of a coarse, impoverished princess she had several admirers when mother and daughter moved next door to Petrovich. He was immediately smitten. Nothing has changed for lovelorn teenagers in the almost two hundred years since this story was written, they are still beyond help or advice, with no choice but to wait and see what happens. Beautifully written with an excellent translation by Isaiah Berlin, this slim book is well worth reading.

    Jul 2, 2019, 5:34pm

    Happy new thread, Vivienne. I am such a sucker for the "British Cottage" - I'm ready to move in to the artist version of Miss Marple's cottage.

    Jul 2, 2019, 6:34pm

    Have new thread, Vivienne!

    Jul 2, 2019, 6:37pm

    >16 DeltaQueen50: Thanks, Judy. I'll move in to the cottage next door to yours!

    >17 mstrust: Thank you, Jennifer.

    Jul 2, 2019, 10:23pm

    Happy new thread! I enjoyed seeing all the category toppers again. And now I want to re-read The Mysterious Affair at Styles...

    Jul 3, 2019, 12:20am

    Thank you, RP! I've read that one a few times since the first time when I was about twelve years old. I think my next Christie will be The Murder of Roger Ackroyd for the "mentioned in another book" for BingoDOG. It was mentioned in The Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz (which would be a good one for RandomCAT).

    Jul 3, 2019, 7:44am

    Happy New Thread! I wanted to let you know that I finally got The Silent Patient from the library after a 3-month wait and devoured it in 2 days. It was as good as you said.

    Jul 3, 2019, 9:08am

    Happy New Thread! I do like seeing the lists fill up in each category.

    Jul 3, 2019, 11:30am

    Happy new thread! It was nice to see all the Christie locales again and remember some of my favorites of her novels.

    Jul 3, 2019, 11:43am

    >21 dudes22: Thank you! I'm glad my recommendation worked well. I hope Alex Michaelides writes more soon.

    >22 Helenliz: Thank you, Helen. I like to see them fill up too. It seemed so slow at the beginning of the year.

    >23 christina_reads: Thank you. I haven't got tired of looking at them as I usually do after six months.

    Jul 3, 2019, 2:13pm

    Happy new thread! It looks like you've had a good reading year so far.

    Jul 3, 2019, 5:10pm

    Happy new thread! I hope you enjoy your future reading.

    Jul 3, 2019, 6:16pm

    >25 Jackie_K: Thanks, Jackie. Yes, a lot of good reading with just an occasional dud.

    >26 Tess_W: Thank you, Tess. I hope so too, keep those bullets coming my way!

    Jul 4, 2019, 3:19am

    Happy birthday!

    Jul 4, 2019, 9:33am

    Happy birthday, Vivienne!

    Jul 4, 2019, 6:53pm

    Happiest of birthdays! :D

    Jul 5, 2019, 3:34pm

    >28 MissWatson: & >29 Jackie_K: & >30 rabbitprincess: Thank you all, I had a great day. No reading, though. :)

    Jul 6, 2019, 3:08pm

    BingoDog - artistic character

    The book of proper names by Amélie Nothomb 3★

    A new-to-me author, this odd little book surprisingly held my interest. Its bizarre characters tell an even more bizarre story of a woman who killed the father of her unborn child because he wanted to give the baby a boring name (Joëlle). As soon as the baptism takes place, naming the child Plectrude, mother commits suicide. And that's just the beginning!

    Plectrude doesn't do well at school but is accepted by école des rats to study ballet - not that ballet worked out any better. Nevertheless, Nothomb touches on some profound topics. The ending, where the author appears to have run out of ideas, is fittingly weird.

    Anyone who enjoys absurd humour might appreciate this book.

    CalendarCAT - July 1st, Canada Day

    Starlight by Richard Wagamese (Canada Day) 4.5★

    Wagamese's gentle nature and love of the land radiates from this tenderhearted story. Sadly, he died before Starlight was finished, and it was published as he left it. The publisher provided information from the author's notes as to how he intended to end the story.

    Somehow I mistakenly had the idea that this preceded Medicine Walk but that means I can still look forward to the earlier book.

    Jul 6, 2019, 8:05pm

    I loved Indian Horse when I read it last year and I am looking forward to both Starlight and Medicine Walk. Hopefully I will get one of those in before the year ends.

    Jul 7, 2019, 1:53am

    I'll read Indian Horse and Medicine Walk as soon as I can. I loved the way Wagamese wrote.

    Jul 7, 2019, 11:08am

    >33 DeltaQueen50: >34 VivienneR: I have Medicine Walk as well and would love to share a read with you! Let me know when you plan to get around to it and I'll squeeze it in.

    Jul 7, 2019, 3:28pm

    >35 rabbitprincess: That would be fun! I plan to borrow Medicine Walk from the library. It's out right now, due back near the end of the month, and has one hold, so it will be late August or September before I get my hands on it. The ebook has oodles of holds and won't be available for several months.

    Jul 7, 2019, 4:10pm

    >36 VivienneR: Excellent! I'll pencil that in on my reading calendar :)

    Jul 7, 2019, 7:29pm

    I hope you had a happy birthday, Viv!

    Jul 7, 2019, 11:17pm

    Excellent! I'll pencil Medicine Walk in for late August/September as well. Looking forward to it.

    Jul 8, 2019, 1:36am

    >38 mstrust: Thank you, Jennifer. It was a great day and the rain stayed away (mostly).

    Jul 8, 2019, 1:40am

    >39 DeltaQueen50: Wonderful. I'm looking forward to it.

    Jul 8, 2019, 1:41am


    The Fala Factor by Stuart Kaminsky (4th of July)

    A fun, hard-boiled mystery where Toby Peters takes on an investigation to find President Roosevelt's dog, Fala. Mrs Roosevelt is convinced the pooch has been replaced with an imposter and that a shady vet has taken off with Fala to unnerve the president. Kaminsky has a flair for creating entertaining characters including some from real-life. As well as Eleanor Roosevelt, this tale has some fine action by Buster Keaton. My favourite personality has to be his hard-of-hearing landlady. The 1942 tough-guy language is hilarious, although Kaminsky has an odd penchant for the word "emotionlessly" that stopped me in my tracks each time he used it.

    Jul 9, 2019, 10:47pm

    AlphaKit - C & P

    The Patience of the Spider by Andrea Camilleri 3.5★

    Every time I read one of Camilleri's books I wonder why on earth Montalbano has anything to do with Livia. One of these days her bad cooking or bad attitude will have her sent packing. Apart from the annoying Livia I really enjoy these Italian mystery novels. The translation by Stephen Sartarelli is excellent.

    Jul 10, 2019, 6:41am

    >43 VivienneR: I could live without Livia too.

    Jul 10, 2019, 12:33pm

    >42 VivienneR: I am enjoying the Toby Peter's mysteries as well. I love that 1940's Hollywood vibe!

    Jul 10, 2019, 2:42pm

    >44 thornton37814: It seems to me her role is to make the reader more sympathetic to Montalbano. Job done, let her go.

    >45 DeltaQueen50: I believe it was you who sent the first bullet my way. Thank you.

    Jul 10, 2019, 9:08pm

    >46 VivienneR: Always glad to add to the fun!

    Jul 13, 2019, 12:46am

    Category - Mysteries

    The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths 4★

    There was less archaeology in this one, the 6th in the series, but the characters and their relationships were filled out more, which made up for it. This is one of my favourite series.

    Jul 13, 2019, 3:21am

    >48 VivienneR: thank you for the reminder. I'm earlier in the series, but it's nice to see people enjoying lots of these. Book 3 on order at the library.

    Jul 13, 2019, 1:05pm

    >49 Helenliz: I'm trying to match my reading with the anticipated dates my library holds will arrive, which is not working out as well as I planned. I love the location of Griffiths' books as much as the historical angle.

    Jul 14, 2019, 1:59am

    TBR-CAT - multiple by author owned

    Silent Scream by Lynda La Plante 3.5★

    A gritty police procedural by the author of the Prime Suspect series with Jane Tennison. This series features young detective Anna Travis who is investigating the murder of an up-and-coming actress. It was longer than necessary because there was so much interpersonal detail about Travis and her ex-lover who is also her superior officer. It was OK, but La Plante's writing has become formulaic. I'll read more of the series sometime and hope she changes the tune.

    Jul 14, 2019, 10:13pm

    I've been reading that series as well but I am a couple of books behind you. My next one will be Clean Cut, I have enjoyed her writing so I, too, hope she doesn't start writing by formula.

    Jul 15, 2019, 1:31am

    >52 DeltaQueen50: I'm not planning to read all of them, just the few that the library owns. I guess I've missed Clean Cut. As far as I remember the author had something to do with the production of Prime Suspect. It would account for her familiarity with the acting business.

    Jul 17, 2019, 2:07pm

    Sad to hear of the death of Andrea Camilleri today. Good reason to read another Montalbano tale.

    Jul 17, 2019, 4:07pm

    >54 VivienneR: RIP to an excellent author. It's a wonderful thing that he was such a prolific writer since he didn't start his Montalbano series until he was 68! Luckily I've only read 5 so far so I think I have 20 more to go.

    Jul 17, 2019, 9:50pm

    >54 VivienneR: Love Montalbano! Sad to hear of Camilleri's death.

    Jul 18, 2019, 8:23am

    I heard the news on the radio, and thought of this group straight away. I've never read any of the Montalbano books, but so many people have in this group, and loved them, that it is a series I hope to get to eventually.

    The news clip featured an interview with Andrea Camilleri, he had the most glorious deep and sonorous voice.

    Jul 18, 2019, 12:36pm

    >57 Jackie_K: His writing style was unlike any other. I read that he used his own mixture of Italian and Sicilian so his translator deserves a pat on the back too. Your description of his voice is fitting for the creator of Montalbano.

    Jul 18, 2019, 1:03pm

    BingoDog title with 6 or more words

    The last days of Café Leila by Donia Bijan 2.5★

    Noor's family in Iran have have run a restaurant for generations although Noor has lived in the US for thirty years and has a teenage daughter, Lily. Recently divorced, she took Lily, with her ex-husband's permission, for a vacation in Iran and then decided to stay. It is understandable that an expat will want to return to her homeland to care for aging parents but this story is more like child abduction - and to a country that has few basic freedoms for women. I'm attributing this poor decision to the emotional devastation Noor experienced after the divorce. The book was disappointing, the writing immature, missing something that I thought might have been lost in a poor translation. This was not the case for the book was written in English. My version was an audiobook that was not narrated well.

    Jul 22, 2019, 9:44pm

    BingoDog - part of a series

    Big Sky by Kate Atkinson 5★

    Atkinson has done it again! She has woven multiple plotlines with terrific characters and created a book I just couldn't put down. I hope she continues with the Jackson Brodie series. Brodie, Crystal Holroyd, her stepson Harry, and drag queen Bunny were outstanding.

    Jul 24, 2019, 1:56pm

    Faraway places, Canada, translations

    Dead Sea Cipher by Elizabeth Peters 2.5★

    Dinah Van Der Lyn stumbles on an international intrigue while on a trip to the Holy Land. A good storyline but I found it slow and ponderous and it just didn't capture my interest. Not one of Peters' best.

    Edited: Jul 25, 2019, 9:04pm

    RandomCAT - bird connection

    A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders 3★

    When a gossipy, revealing book is stolen on the way to the publisher and the author disappears, it can only mean one thing. The story becomes more complicated with rumours of money-laundering. Flanders amusing story started off well but then got bogged down in unconvincing details.

    Jul 27, 2019, 1:16am

    Category - Golden Age & Cozy Mysteries

    Death of a Perfect Wife by M.C. Beaton

    This was an audiobook narrated by Australian Shaun Grindell. His attempt at a Scottish accent was hard to bear.

    Jul 27, 2019, 4:30am

    >63 VivienneR: I think that the Scottish accent* is the one that everybody thinks they can do, but really can't. I've lived here nearly 14 years, and I wouldn't attempt it!

    * What is a Scottish accent anyway? The Glasgow, Highland, Orkney, Aberdeen, Shetland, etc accents are all so different! It's like assuming that all Americans sound the same whether they come from Louisiana or New York.

    Jul 27, 2019, 11:41am

    >64 Jackie_K: "Irish accents" are always the one that make me grimace when people attempt them, or rather when my BF does. He ends up sounding Australian! :P

    Jul 27, 2019, 10:31pm

    >64 Jackie_K: Shaun Grindell should never have attempted it either. :)

    Canadians think they all sound the same but … on second thoughts, apart from Newfoundlanders, maybe they do.

    >65 rabbitprincess: There must be a connection because there were times when Grindell was achieving something closer to Belfast than Australia OR Scotland.

    Jul 28, 2019, 1:32am

    Category - Mysteries

    Sanctuary by Ken Bruen

    A sleepless night was filled with this Jack Taylor episode, although the frequent beatings he suffered meant it was less pleasant for him. Taylor just never gets credit for what he does right, only what he does wrong. There is nothing this guy could do that would make me despise him as his one-time boss Clancy, or his mother's priest, Father Malachy does. Written in the first person we get to see what is happening inside Jack's head, which isn't as bad as some believe, and it allows his black humour to shine. Although I know Taylor isn't to everyone's taste I believe this to be the best of Emerald Noir and one of my favourite series.

    Jul 28, 2019, 9:45am

    >67 VivienneR: I didn't like that one quite as much as most of the others in the series. It's still a Jack Taylor book but didn't quite reach the dizzy heights we know Bruen is capable of in my opinion.

    Jul 28, 2019, 6:05pm

    >68 AHS-Wolfy: I went back and forward in my rating because, like you, I didn't like it as much as others I've read. In the end I decided it was just as worthy even if more unpleasant. But you are right, when we know Bruen is capable of so much we are more critical.

    Edited: Sep 8, 2019, 1:25am

    Category - Off the beaten track

    The book of Mahjong: the illustrated guide by Amy Lo 4★

    Mah Jongg by Ann M. Israel & Gregg Swain 5★

    Both of these books were borrowed from my son in an attempt to improve my game. I don't know if I benefited from them but Amy Lo's book was most helpful whle Ann Israel's gorgeous book is perfect for browsing.

    Jul 29, 2019, 9:12pm

    Category - Off the beaten track

    Strange things: the malevolent north in Canadian literature by Margaret Atwood 4.5★

    This is a series of four lectures Atwood delivered at Oxford in 1991. She talks about the draw of the Canadian North and its myths and legends. The very place that fascinated me too, when, as a child I recited Robert Service poems. Later in life, my interest in the North just as strong, I worked in an Arctic research library, so I have a personal interest in these stories. Written in Atwood's inimitable style, I could hear her voice as I read the words.

    Thanks go to rabbitprincess for leading me to this gem.

    Edited: Jul 31, 2019, 1:24pm

    Faraway places, Canada, translations

    My latest Early Reviewer snag is set in wintery northern Ontario.

    The Starlight Claim by Tim Wynne-Jones 4★

    Wynne-Jones' book The Maestro, published in 1995 featured Burl Crow and his father Cal. In this book, Burl is now the father of sixteen-year-old Nate, forming an intergenerational sequel, although it is not necessary to have read the first book. Nate's plan for a solo visit to the family's lakeside camp in northern Ontario is disrupted when he finds escaped convicts there. I can recommend this as a fine example of a winter survival thriller that many teens would enjoy.

    Aug 1, 2019, 8:27am

    >71 VivienneR: That looks interesting.

    Aug 1, 2019, 1:59pm

    >73 thornton37814: And delivered with Margaret Atwood's charming sense of humour.

    Edited: Aug 1, 2019, 9:41pm

    BingoDog - prize-winning book

    The Trespasser by Tana French 4.5★

    A complex story with great characters, rich Dublin dialogue, and surprising plot twists. While there are long interrogation scenes, the details learned during those scenes help in relating the facts of what appears at first sight to be a simple "domestic". The reader is allowed to share what Conroy and Moran are planning and the direction the investigation is taking. Highly recommended.

    I'm glad I don't have to wait for the next Tana French book because I still have the first one in the series unread.

    Edited: Oct 26, 2019, 5:17pm

    July Summary
    Read in July: 18
    Year to Date: 101

    Category - Mysteries
    Sanctuary by Ken Bruen 4★
    The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths 4★

    Category - Golden Age & Cozy Mysteries
    Death of a Perfect Wife by M.C. Beaton 3★

    Faraway places, Canada, translations
    First Love by Ivan S. Turgenev 4★
    Dead Sea Cipher by Elizabeth Peters 2.5★
    The Starlight Claim by Tim Wynne-Jones 4★

    Category - Off the beaten track
    Strange things: the malevolent north in Canadian literature by Margaret Atwood 4.5★
    Mah Jongg: the art of the game by Ann M. Israel & Gregg Swain 5★ ❤️
    The book of Mahjong: the illustrated guide by Amy Lo 4★

    AlphaKit - C & P
    The Patience of the Spider by Andrea Camilleri 3.5★

    Starlight by Richard Wagamese (Canada Day) 4.5★
    The Fala Factor by Stuart Kaminsky (US Independence Day) 3.5★

    RandomCAT - bird connection
    A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders 3★

    TBR-CAT - multiple by author owned
    Silent Scream by Lynda La Plante 3.5★

    artistic character The book of proper names by Amélie Nothomb 3★
    6 or more words The last days of Café Leila by Donia Bijan 2.5★
    part of a series: Big Sky by Kate Atkinson 5★ ❤️
    prize-winning: The Trespasser by Tana French 4.5★

    Edited: Aug 2, 2019, 4:29pm

    >75 VivienneR: Glad you enjoy Tana French. I've tried two: The Witch Elm and In the Woods and I didn't care for either.

    Aug 2, 2019, 7:41pm

    >77 Tess_W: I haven't read either of those titles (yet) but I can understand that French's gritty Dublin style doesn't appeal to everyone.

    Edited: Aug 8, 2019, 8:13pm

    I've been out enjoying summer and can't believe we are a week into August and I've only just finished one book!

    AlphaKit - N & I

    Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro 4.5★

    Dystopia, science fiction and the like are not my cup of tea but this is one story from the genre that I loved. The story is believable in a scary way, the characters superb, and the writing is fabulous. I read Brave New World about a hundred years ago (well, maybe not that long but it seems like it) and often think about Huxley's story, but I found this thought-provoking book to be far superior.

    Aug 8, 2019, 3:00pm

    >79 VivienneR: Such an enticing review! This one's been on my shelves for a while and I've heard nothing but good things. And I liked Brave New World a lot, so the comparison is even more intriguing!

    Aug 8, 2019, 8:12pm

    >80 christina_reads: Brave New World was more complex, but the similarity is there. I hope you are able to get around to Never Let Me Go soon. It's the kind of book that deserves a much more thoughtful review than mine.

    Aug 8, 2019, 11:25pm

    >79 VivienneR: I both loved and hated Never Let Me Go. My only question was 'why'?

    Aug 9, 2019, 12:26am

    >82 Tess_W: For replaceable parts?

    Aug 9, 2019, 12:27am

    TBR-CAT - somehow still on tbr

    Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley 3★

    One of those books whose reputation precedes it by way of the silver screen. Even though I haven't seen any Frankenstein movies I still know the basic storyline, picked up from references in other reading. Walton, an arctic explore relates Frankenstein's story, and incredible though it is, I enjoyed the flowery, dramatic 19th century prose. Worth reading if only to experience the story that became so famous.

    Edited: Aug 13, 2019, 1:27am

    BingoDog - bullet

    The Chameleon's Shadow by Minette Walters 4★

    The story begins with an ambush in Iraq leaving sole survivor Lieutenant Charles Acland with half his face gone. Post-recovery aggression, with some graphic information from his ex, brings him to the attention of the police who are investigating multiple murders. He seems to have no interest in helping himself but a weightlifting lesbian doctor offers help. With excellent characters and plot, it's a page turner right to the end.

    Bullet from devenish, who is in another group.

    Aug 13, 2019, 9:32am

    >85 VivienneR: a BB for me!

    Aug 13, 2019, 2:06pm

    >86 Tess_W: A ricochet! I hope you enjoy it, Tess.

    Aug 13, 2019, 7:42pm

    CalendarCAT August: V.S. Naipaul Birthday August 17, 1932

    The Masque of Africa: Glimpses of African Belief by V.S. Naipaul 4★

    More than a travel narrative, Naipaul examines religion and mythology in six African countries and compares present practices with those of his last visit in the sixties, and in the time before colonization. His writing is down-earth with short, sometimes acerbic sentences, that might be considered blunt if they were not tinged with humour or describing risible situations, which happen surprisingly often. But Naipaul has a way with words: even a brief description of a dog in the street conjures up a vivid image of the event. Impressively parsimonious, he negotiates keenly with guides, witch doctors, drivers and so on, often backing out of a trip that he thinks might cost more than he has been quoted. Writers who know Africa have strong opinions of this work that has been described as "cliched" and even "toxic". While much of the information is unverified or of mythical origin, it was provided by those who might just be enjoying themselves by recounting an amusing or shocking anecdote. But then, a renowned sceptic himself, Naipaul may have been just along for the yarns too. Recommended for the armchair traveller.

    A favourite quotation: "Directly, with no beating about the bush, he {the soothsayer} asked our business. I didn't know what to say. I couldn't say I had come only to have a look."

    Edited: Oct 26, 2019, 5:20pm

    CalendarCAT - Aviation Day August 19th

    Death of an Airman by Christopher St John Sprigg 4★

    It must have been so much fun to just jump in a little plane and take off for a day in France and probably with less trouble than driving to the shopping centre nowadays. This book, a British Library Crime Classic, was originally published in 1934. I was delighted by all the buzzing around and aerobatics by the members of an aviation club. An Australian bishop arrived to take flying lessons and at first it appeared that he might become the sleuth and discover who murdered a pilot but police investigations took over. The beautiful cover lived up to its promise and I loved all the aeronautic details, although the solution was less than stellar.

    RandomCAT - Back to school

    Slam by Nick Hornby 4★

    Two teenagers still in school become parents. The way Hornby tells it is full of humour and at the same time poignant. Sam is a keen skateboarder and young enough to be asking a poster of professional skater Tony Hawk for advice. An excellent story intended for an audience of teenage boys, but girls will enjoy it too.

    Edited: Aug 19, 2019, 5:45pm

    BingoDog - Homophone (lie/lye)

    Sometimes I lie by Alice Feeney 2.5★

    If there was a competition for the most twists and turns packed into a suspense story, this book would win. It was a real dog's dinner of lies, too many to keep my interest. And in the end I didn't care what happened to the unreliable narrator. The multiple timeline formula was annoying too, a good writer should be able to tell a complex story without jumping back and forward in time in time every few pages.

    Aug 22, 2019, 4:17pm

    Category - Mysteries

    Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny 4★

    If a fault exists in Penny's writing it is that the exemplary Gamache is just too good. But what she accomplishes to perfection is an ability to portray offbeat, weird characters with astonishing reality. And she's spot-on when describing a Canadian winter. This is a highly recommended series for good reason.

    Aug 23, 2019, 3:29pm

    AlphaKit - N & I

    Dr. No by Ian Fleming 3.5★

    I haven't read this since I was a teenager so this month's AlphaCAT was a good excuse to resurrect it. As expected, there are some dated sections and language, and lots of silliness, but still it was an entertaining afternoon's read, although funny more than exciting (I remember the movie with Ursula Andress where there was an audible chuckle from the audience every time Bond used Honey's name). Because of our familiarity with Bond and the knowledge that he survives all challenges, the suspense has evaporated in the intervening decades.

    Aug 24, 2019, 7:23pm

    Category - Fiction

    Glass Beads by Dawn Dumont 4★

    This is a progression of stories that form what is essentially a novel about four First Nations young people who are leaving the reservation for the first time. They discover how difficult life is for aboriginal youth as they attempt to get an education and earn a living in a world of white people. These stories could only be told by someone who has been in the position and faced the same cultural difficulties. Although their histories are marked by racism, alcohol, assault, and crime, the four share the same worries as any other young person concerned about looking their best, getting good marks, making friends, yet at no time do we forget that their fears come from a different place, a different culture. But these stories are not about being indigenous, but about four young people becoming adults, albeit in a world where they are in a minority group. Dumont's tempting book spans a couple of decades around the turn of the century. Enlightening and thought-provoking.

    The author is a Plains Cree writer for newspapers in Saskatchewan and Alberta, for CBC radio, as well as working as a stand-up comedian across North America.

    Aug 27, 2019, 10:22pm

    SeriesCAT - set where you do not live

    The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths 4★

    Ruth Galloway is excavating what appears to be a bronze age site while a nearby construction worker uncovers a WWII plane with a body inside. The relationships and families of Ruth and friends continue to be a feature of Griffiths' very enjoyable series. The "Ghost Fields" were mock airfields formed to fool the enemy during WWII. They, as well as the harsh Norfolk weather events described were created from fact, which make the story even more interesting.

    Aug 28, 2019, 1:23pm

    >94 VivienneR: definitely a BB for me!

    Aug 28, 2019, 1:25pm

    >94 VivienneR: I've already been got with that series, so you can't claim another victim. It is the landscape descriptions that I enjoy the most, expecially on the not bright & sunny days.

    Edited: Aug 31, 2019, 8:18pm

    >95 Tess_W: It's a great series, Tess. I hope you enjoy. Like you, Ruth Galloway is a university professor.

    >96 Helenliz: I've only been in Norfolk on sunny days so can only imagine what it can be like at other times. In Canada we are inclined to claim "worst winter weather" title, but other places have a fair share too.

    Aug 28, 2019, 4:55pm

    >97 VivienneR: I work in King's Lynn, so have a fun time trying to work out where she's just put the made-up university (nope still not sure) versus the actual places. That part of Norfolk is quite flat, so when it is nice you have a glorious blue bowl of sky, but when it is bad, you can see the storm comming from some distance away and it can be really threatenening watching it come glowering towards you. You still have this huge sky, but somehow instead of being a bowl of light, it is a low ceiling of cloud. The fens in bad weather are impressive, but not necessesarily very nice.

    Aug 28, 2019, 9:55pm

    >98 Helenliz: What a lovely place to work! Griffiths admits playing with the geography of the area so I'm not surprised that it's hard to place the action. I had friends who lived in Ipswich and I visited often. I was told it didn't rain as much on the eastern side of the Pennines as on the west, but according to Griffiths that weather law can be broken.

    Aug 28, 2019, 9:59pm

    Category - Mysteries

    The Substitute by Nicole Lundrigan 3★

    I didn't care much for this creepy psychological mystery. Although I sympathized with the teacher who was getting harassed by the police when a girl was found hanging from a tree in his yard, I kept wanting to tell him to speak out instead of humming and hawing. Character development was good, but most of the characters created were nasty.

    Aug 29, 2019, 8:37pm

    Category - History & historical

    Indigo: in search of the colour that seduced the world by Catherine McKinley 2.5★

    McKinley was awarded a Fulbright grant to research indigo, the source of the exceptional "bluest of blues" dye, in Ghana. This is a personal story of her journey in search of indigo-dyed cloth in several African countries. It is not apparent if she accomplished what she set out to do. As a travel memoir the book succeeds, as the story of indigo, not so much.

    Aug 31, 2019, 2:04pm

    >101 VivienneR: A beautiful title! Too bad the book didn't live up to it!

    Edited: Oct 26, 2019, 5:21pm

    August Summary
    Read in August: 14
    Year to Date: 115

    Category - Mysteries
    Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny 4★
    The Substitute by Nicole Lundrigan 3★

    Category - Fiction
    Glass Beads by Dawn Dumont 4★

    Category - History & historical
    Indigo: in search of the colour that seduced the world by Catherine McKinley 2.5★

    AlphaKit - N & I
    Dr. No by Ian Fleming 3.5★
    Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro 4.5★ ❤️

    Aviation Day August 19th: Death of an Airman by Christopher St John Sprigg 4★
    Naipaul's birth month: The Masque of Africa: Glimpses of African Belief by V.S. Naipaul 4★

    RandomCAT - Back to school
    Slam by Nick Hornby 4★
    Goodbye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton 4★

    SeriesCAT - set where you do not live
    The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths 4★

    TBR-CAT - somehow still on tbr
    Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley 3★

    bullet The Chameleon's Shadow by Minette Walters 4★
    homophone Sometimes I lie by Alice Feeney 2.5★

    Edited: Sep 2, 2019, 2:08pm


    Goodnight from London by Jennifer Robson 4★

    For International Peace Day on September 21st

    I was a little anxious because it was obvious from the cover that there was some romantic content in Robson's book, which is not my choice of reading material. I shouldn't have worried, the story was about a young woman in a male-dominated business (weren't they all?) in London during the war. Robson was inspired by her grandmother's experience to create Ruby Sutton, a young American journalist working for a news magazine in wartime London. The story was well-researched and the descriptions of London during the blitz were realistic and very well written. I enjoyed this one a lot.

    Sep 3, 2019, 3:59pm

    >101 VivienneR:

    The premise of the book about indigo sounded really good. Too bad it didn't work.

    Sep 3, 2019, 6:56pm

    >105 hailelib: Yes, I found the title just as enticing as the colour. The first half of the book would be more accurately titled "Nice people I met in Africa."

    Sep 4, 2019, 1:30am

    >105 hailelib: I agree.
    If something of that nature does appeal, I could suggest Mauve the story of the invention of the first synthetic dye.

    Sep 4, 2019, 3:34pm

    >107 Helenliz: Thanks for the recommendation, Helen. I'll check it out, it sounds very interesting. Garfield probably explains why that colour was so popular in Victorian times.

    Sep 4, 2019, 3:41pm

    >107 Helenliz: >108 VivienneR: I'll second Mauve, it was very interesting (and totally ticked all my nerd boxes).

    Sep 4, 2019, 9:22pm

    >107 Helenliz: Oh good! I love books like that. My Dad used to work with textiles and dyes. He found fabrics dyed with red or black were not as soft as those dyed with other colours.

    Edited: Sep 4, 2019, 9:34pm

    >107 Helenliz: and >109 Jackie_K: Good to hear. My Dad worked with textiles and dyes. He found fabric dyed with red or black was not as soft as that of other colours. I don't notice it anymore though, so dyes have probably changed over the years.

    None of Garfield's books are at any of the libraries where I can borrow but I found a used copy of Mauve and Our Hidden Lives.

    Sep 4, 2019, 9:56pm

    >100 VivienneR: I too found some of the characters unpleasant and the book a very creepy read. However, I did like Nicole Lundrigan's writing enough that I might try another book of hers.

    Sep 5, 2019, 12:18am

    >112 mathgirl40: I agree. If I come across another book by Lundrigan I would definitely pick it up because her writing is worthwhile.

    Sep 7, 2019, 1:45pm

    >104 VivienneR: reading a lot about the blitz, so on my wishlist it goes!

    Sep 7, 2019, 2:56pm

    >114 Tess_W: I found it of interest because it was inspired by Robson's grandmother so there was a certain amount of truth. But also because the main character, who was American, experienced first hand what the UK was suffering. And although she knew about the blitz before arriving in London, was still shocked.

    Sep 7, 2019, 3:05pm

    BingoDog - mentioned in another book

    This one was mentioned by Anthony Horowitz in Magpie Murders.

    The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

    I read this many years ago and have always claimed it to be one of my favourite Christies. I enjoyed the story once again even though I knew the murderer's identity. Christie was outstanding in her ability to create a simple whodunnit and far ahead of her time. Written in 1926, this is one of the best Golden Age mysteries. For the half dozen people who haven't yet read it - do so now!

    Sep 7, 2019, 5:47pm

    >116 VivienneR: - Definitely one of my favorites of hers!

    Sep 8, 2019, 1:24am

    >117 LittleTaiko: It sure is a special one.

    Sep 8, 2019, 5:48am

    >116 VivienneR: not really a mystery fan (except psychological), have read a couple of Christie's and meh (A Pocketful of Rye and And Then There Were None); but I will try this one!

    Sep 8, 2019, 7:46pm

    >119 Tess_W: Glad you are going to give it a try. It was written in 1926 and the story reflects that, but it is a lot better than others written around the same time.

    Sep 8, 2019, 7:48pm

    TBR-CAT - classic

    The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood 4★

    I have to admit my progress during the first part of this book was slow and then suddenly my attention was captured. It was as if I was reading about real people, neighbours maybe. Atwood deserves her stellar reputation, she is a superb storyteller.

    Sep 9, 2019, 10:10am

    I really liked The Blind Assassin when I read it as a group read here several years ago, and I think The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is one of Christie's best. You're on a roll.

    Edited: Sep 9, 2019, 2:53pm

    >122 mstrust: A group read might be the best way to read The Blind Assassin, with a little discussion to help things along. To be honest, I'm not sure if it was worth the time spent. It's such a long book.

    You must be on a roll too. Every time I look at your thread it has grown by another forty or fifty posts!

    Sep 9, 2019, 4:41pm

    BingoDog - In translation

    Vi by Kim Thúy translated from the French by Sheila Fischman 4.5★

    With so much news about refugees and displaced peoples, this novel, written in 2016, reminds us of what many go through to find a home and what they can bring to their new country. In Thùy's case, a brilliant career as a writer in Canada. In Vi she gives readers a before and after view of Vietnam where we can imagine the scent of frangipani flowers and exotic food more than Agent Orange. Her writing is poetic and exquisitely brief without ever missing the crux of the story. Highly recommended.

    Sep 11, 2019, 12:51pm

    AlphaKit - F & W

    The Devil's Feather by Minette Walters 3.5★

    War correspondent Connie Burns suspects a mercenary of murdering women in Sierra Leone and now, by the same methods, in Iraq. After making her suspicions known, she is abducted and tortured for three days and then released without ever seeing her abductor. The story shifts to England where she hopes to recover under an assumed name in a quiet rural house where she encounters a local eccentric and the doctor. Despite her strict precautions, word of the location reaches the suspect who breaks into the house. The main part of the story shows her as an emotional wreck, not eating or sleeping. After the break-in where the culprit escapes she becomes confident, sure of herself and unconcerned about her torturer being at large. During the hideout, she uncovers unsettling information about her landlady providing an accompanying crime to investigate. Some of the dialogue is implausible, such as when she is interviewed by the police, or when she is questioning her landlady, or more accurately, interrogating her. A decent read but not one of Walters' best.

    Edited: Sep 11, 2019, 6:20pm

    >125 VivienneR: My mum has most of Minette Walters' books, and I've read a few, but wouldn't be able to read this one. Too scary!

    Her historical fiction set during the Black Death looks quite interesting, though.

    Sep 11, 2019, 6:48pm

    >126 rabbitprincess: I didn't find it scary. But the woman made a lot of mistakes when she was in hiding. And who rents a remote rural broken down house with no internet or mobile phone service when they are so scared?

    I'll look up some of her historical fiction. Your mum can't be wrong.

    Sep 12, 2019, 11:02pm

    BingoDog - cover has two or more figures

    The Winter Vault by Anne Michaels 3★

    This is the story of Jean, a botanist and her husband Avery, an engineer who works on three major engineering projects including the Aswan Dam, the St Lawrence Seaway, and the rebuilding of Warsaw after the war. To build the Aswan Dam in Egypt great temples had to be dismantled and moved, adding complexity to displacing whole villages of people and their homes. By coincidence, I live near a community that was also moved to allow for a dam and flooding. And although the benefit from the dam has been great over the years, it was harrowing for everyone, including the residents of the cemetery.

    Winters is a poet first and foremost so naturally her writing is poetic and lyrical, not leaving much for the actual story or characters, so even with beautiful writing, this book was hard work. She is often compared to Michael Ondaatje but I don't see that at all - this reader hangs on every word of Ondaatje's. Adding to the difficulty was that my audiobook had a poor narrator although I believe it would have been a difficult job for anyone to narrate this book.

    The title is from the name of the storage vault for the dead in cold climates while waiting for a thaw to allow interment.

    Sep 13, 2019, 8:51pm

    I was almost going to take a book bullet for this reading the first paragraph. But then you said people compare her to Michael Ondaatje and I'm one of the people who is not a fan of his writing. So I think I'll give this a pass.

    Sep 14, 2019, 12:44am

    >129 dudes22: There is a similarity of tone, but I really like Ondaatje and find his stories compelling. This one didn't come close, which is surprising given the fascinating subject.

    Sep 15, 2019, 3:37pm

    Category - History & historical

    The Dragon Scroll by I.J. Parker 3.5★

    I was intrigued by Parker's mysteries set in medieval Japan - a place where my reading has seldom taken me. Sugawara Akitada, a lowly government official was sent on an impossible mission because he was expendable. This had a good plot with lots of action, delightful characters, and unexpected humour.

    Sep 16, 2019, 7:15pm

    Faraway places, Canada, translations

    Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese 4.5★

    I read Starlight in July and was immediately drawn in by Wagamese's writing and the appealing character Frank Starlight, who was brought up as a son by "the old man". In this book, his real father, a hopeless alcoholic Frank has only met on a few unpleasant occasions in his life, has requested a visit before he dies. What follows is a pilgrimage of sorts in the mountains of British Columbia to where Eldon wants to die, on a specific mountain ridge, buried in the traditional way for a warrior. Frank is sceptical of Eldon's warrior status but out of loyalty goes along with his father's wishes. Eldon is placed on the horse, becoming sicker with each day of the journey, while Frank walks alongside, preparing a bed of spruce for his father each night and sheltering him with a spruce lean-to. He catches fish and collects berries and plants along the way - a medicine walk, like the old man has taught him, while Eldon recounts the cathartic story of his life and of Frank's birth of which Frank knew nothing. This is a beautiful, moving story of loyalty and of healing for both men. Highly recommended.

    I loved the bit where they came across a grizzly. Now I know what to do when I encounter a bear, although I doubt that I would be as brave as Frank. Fortunately I was already in my car when it happened a couple of weeks ago.

    Sep 20, 2019, 12:55am

    RandomCAT - Equinox
    Days by Moonlight by André Alexis 3.5★
    Alfred Homer has been asked to accompany a family friend to search southern Ontario for a poet who has not been heard of for some time. They pass through towns with some bizarre customs. The result is a ribald, weird, darkly funny story of their travels. It's to be expected that an Ontarian odyssey featuring someone named Homer will form a highly imaginative work. Not only is Homer quirky but the people they meet are at the top end of the offbeat register.

    "Days by Moonlight is not a work of realism. It's not a work that uses the imagination to show the real, but one that uses the real to show the imagination." -- André Alexis

    Sep 20, 2019, 2:14am

    Medicine walk sounds most intriguing. I love it when you find a new author and want to read everything they've written all at once.

    Sep 20, 2019, 11:39am

    Days by Moonlight is a BB for me. I need more weird fiction.

    Sep 20, 2019, 12:47pm

    I just finished Medicine Walk and I am once again overcome with emotion. This author has become a favorite after reading just two of his books. I am looking forward to Starlight and reading more about Frank.

    Sep 20, 2019, 1:46pm

    >135 mstrust: Prepare for your eyebrows to get a good workout! I would have given it a higher rating but it sort of faded a bit towards the end.

    >136 DeltaQueen50: So glad you enjoyed Medicine Walk. Wagamese was an amazing talent. What a shame he didn't live longer.

    Sep 24, 2019, 9:27pm

    SeriesCAT - Cozy, by the sea

    Trial of Passion by William Deverell

    Garibaldi Island is a fictional island in the Gulf Islands, a thirty-minute float plane flight from Vancouver. Like the author, Arthur Beauchamp is a lawyer who is about to retire to the islands. He has been asked to defend a law professor accused of rape by one of his students. The story follows Beauchamp's move to his island home, handling the legal battle, as well as getting to know the eccentric locals with whom he uses his gift of tolerance and patience. After a bad start, the widowed farmer next door becomes more attractive by the day adding a little romance to the story. This is the first in the Arthur Beauchamp series, a great story that is literate and funny and set on the Gulf Islands, one of my favourite places in the world. Highly recommended.

    Deverell is a lawyer and founder of the BC Civil Liberties Foundation. He writes a great courtroom drama that is light and highly entertaining.

    Sep 24, 2019, 9:49pm

    >138 VivienneR: I definitely want to read this!

    Sep 25, 2019, 7:34am

    >138 VivienneR: - Just what I need - a BB for another series. Still, your review has hit me.

    Sep 25, 2019, 1:39pm

    >139 NinieB: and >140 dudes22: So glad to have helped build your TBR. :) What I like most about the character Arthur Beauchamp is that he is just how I imagine William Deverell.

    Sep 26, 2019, 2:29pm

    CalendarCAT September - Ondaatje's birthday

    Warlight by Michael Ondaatje 3.5★

    Ondaatje's language is beautiful and the dreamy atmospheric story can mesmerize the reader so that it just slips by. But this is a complex novel that demands the reader to pay attention. After setting the book down I found it difficult to pick up the story again without going back a few pages. This is a coming-of-age story that takes place in wartime where teens Nathaniel and his sister Rachel are left in the care of a guardian nicknamed "The Moth". Mysterious and intriguing but not among my favourite books by Ondaatje.

    Sep 28, 2019, 4:40pm

    Category - Off the beaten track

    The Tent by Margaret Atwood 4★

    This is Atwood at her best, reflective, with a touch of acerbic humour, and a little cynical in places. Not actually stories, more like ideas, vignettes, all of them clever and thought-provoking. As expected some sparkled, some merely glowed but there are no duds. It's a slim book yet not to be read in one or two sessions, but rather to be dipped into and savoured in individual bites. I started noting favourites but the list got too long. These were at the top of the list: Encouraging the Young; Gateway; Our Cat Enters Heaven; Chicken Little Goes Too Far; and best of all, The Tent.

    Sep 29, 2019, 2:13pm

    Category - Mysteries

    Running Blind by Lee Child

    This was unbelievable to the point of absurdity. Murder by paint! My least favourite Jack Reacher.

    Sep 30, 2019, 8:55pm

    BingoDog - food related

    Nothing more comforting: Canada's heritage food by Dorothy Duncan 4★

    This is a little treasure. Chapters are arranged by ingredient providing a history and background for each as well as regional recipes that have been enjoyed in Canada, and elsewhere, for centuries.. Simple recipes and good reading for the time waiting for the food to cook.

    Oct 1, 2019, 8:59am

    >145 VivienneR: That's the type of cookbook I enjoy!

    Oct 1, 2019, 10:14pm

    >146 thornton37814: Me too! It was a lucky find at a library booksale, and it's signed.

    Oct 1, 2019, 10:16pm

    This was intended for August RandomCAT but I didn't get to it. Instead I'm using it for Read a Book day on September 6th.

    CalendarCAT - Read a book day

    Alone in the Classroom by Elizabeth Hay 3.5★

    Narrator, Anne, sets out to write a book about her mother but finds herself writing about her mother's sister, Connie, while her mother remains a in the background. The story begins around 1930 when Connie becomes a teacher in a small town in Saskatchewan. Michael, a pupil who is obviously dyslexic, a condition unrecognized at the time, is unfortunately regarded as stupid yet he is talented in other areas. Connie provides some extra tuition after classes. His sister, Susan, is a blossoming actor under the direction of head teacher, Parley Burns. Then something terrible happens to Susan with consequences even more horrendous. Hay continues several decades of the charismatic Connie's life of which Michael, who is just as appealing, forms a major part.

    Hay's sprawling novel has more to do with memories and how they affect lives than with the characters themselves. As a result the story develops a nebulous focus, that drifts somewhat. Even at the inconclusive end, Anne throws some doubt into what she has written before, which was annoying. The novel may elicit unpleasant memories of school for some readers, while for others, there will be little connection. Hay's writing is beautiful but there was something missing, especially in the second half of the book.

    Edited: Oct 3, 2019, 1:42am

    September Summary
    Read in September: 15
    Year to Date: 130

    Category - Mysteries
    Running Blind by Lee Child 3★

    Faraway places, Canada, translations
    Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese 4.5★ ❤️

    Category - History & historical
    The Dragon Scroll by I.J. Parker 3.5★

    Category - Off the beaten track
    The Tent by Margaret Atwood 4★

    AlphaKit - F & W
    The Devil's Feather by Minette Walters 3.5★

    Author birthday: Warlight by Michael Ondaatje 3.5★
    Int'l Peace Day: Goodnight from London by Jennifer Robson 4★
    Alone in the Classroom by Elizabeth Hay 3.5★

    RandomCAT - Equinox
    Days by Moonlight by André Alexis 3.5★

    SeriesCAT - Cozy, by the sea
    Trial of Passion by William Deverell 4★

    TBR-CAT - classic
    The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood 4★

    mentioned in another book: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie 4★
    cover has two or more figures: The Winter Vault by Anne Michaels 3★
    translation: Vi by Kim Thúy translated from the French by Sheila Fischman 4.5★ ❤️
    food related: Nothing more comforting: Canada's heritage food by Dorothy Duncan 4★

    Oct 3, 2019, 1:43am

    CalendarCAT - October 1 - International Day of Older Persons

    The 100 year-old man who climbed out the window and disappeared by Jonas Jonasson 2.5★

    A good idea that got out of the author's control. It just went on for too long. I remember seeing the movie and feeling the same about it.

    Oct 4, 2019, 4:34am

    >150 VivienneR: that one is languishing on my ebook tbr...not much interested!

    Oct 4, 2019, 9:20am

    >150 VivienneR: >151 Tess_W: I read it and gave it a higher rating (4*, I think) - my view was, it is quite silly and gets increasingly absurd, and I found that as long as I didn't expect any more from it than more absurdity, it didn't annoy me. Actually some of the historical scrapes he gets himself in made me laugh out loud. It's not a book that will tax your brain, particularly, but as a diversion from more serious reading it worked well for me. I haven't seen the film.

    Oct 5, 2019, 2:46am

    >151 Tess_W: Maybe you should go by Jackie's opinion at >152 Jackie_K: instead of mine, Tess. :)

    >152 Jackie_K: I enjoyed the film more than the book, which was a bit like watching a re-run of a comedy show - not as funny second time around. But I do remember thinking the movie went on a tad too long.

    Oct 5, 2019, 8:33am

    >152 Jackie_K:
    >153 VivienneR:

    I will eventually attempt it; but I'm not a fan of the absurd.

    Oct 7, 2019, 12:33am

    >154 Tess_W: I feel the same way - even though I was a big fan of Monty Python's Flying Circus, and how absurd was that! Definitely it's less appealing on the printed page.

    Oct 7, 2019, 5:06pm

    I finished two over the last few days, enjoyed both of them.

    AlphaKit - G & T

    Gallows Thief by Bernard Cornwell 3.5★
    A very good mystery set in the 19th century just after the Battle of Waterloo. The protagonist is not only a hero of the battle but a famous cricketer. He was asked to get evidence to support an accusation of murder for someone already waiting to be hanged. The only way to get it is to find the real murderer. It was interesting not only to read about prison conditions and abuse of justice (both appalling) but also snippets of cricket history, which is rarely covered in historical mysteries.

    SeriesCAT - Historical

    Murder on the Lusitania by Conrad Allen 3.5★
    An entertaining mystery written in the Golden Age style. The story is set on the Lusitania's maiden voyage and is littered with red herrings and suspects. Fictional, but the fact that it was an actual ship made it more interesting and there were lots of details about it.

    Oct 10, 2019, 2:33pm

    RandomCAT - knock-off, follow-ups, tributes, parodies

    Devil may care by Sebastian Faulks 3★

    If you've read Fleming's novels you will recognize James Bond here but although close, it's not up to Ian Fleming's standards. If you haven't read any of the Bond novels, don't start here. The original author had a winning style that Faulks just cannot reproduce even though he has used more updated language. This resembles the corny movie stories more than Fleming's novels.

    Oct 13, 2019, 1:13am

    TBR-CAT - cover with visual appeal

    Still life by Louise Penny 4★

    For some reason I missed this one, the first in the Three Pines series, although I have since read all those that followed. It was an excellent introduction to the inhabitants of the Quebec village and Gamache's team. Good to hear the late Ralph Cosham's voice again although I must say I love Robert Bathurst's Gamache.

    Oct 16, 2019, 4:17pm

    AlphaKit - G & T

    The Woman in Blue by Elly Griffiths 3.5★

    Much as I love Ruth Galloway books, this one was less satisfying. First of all the plot and motive for murder was weak, more cannot be explained without giving a spoiler. Parts of the story were implausible to say the least: two characters decided to go for a walk in the middle of the night, one while drunk after a night of serious drinking, and another in nightclothes? Ruth's contribution to solving the crime was almost nil and the one piece of information she uncovered concerning a missing broken glass vial was ignored.

    Griffiths' intention for this book was to highlight the shrine at Walsingham as well as to work into the story a real person and dog (the distinction was won in a contest at a charity fundraiser) but I believe this stratagem came at the cost of her novel. And there was far too much religion, understandable to a point, given the location, but it began to wear. I couldn't imagine police wearing the robes of the apostles in order to blend in. I still have a soft spot for Ruth, Nelson, Cathbad and Clough and I'm sorry to see Tim leave but I'll expect more from Griffiths in the next episode.

    Oct 18, 2019, 1:29pm

    BingoDog - animal on cover

    A Carrion Death by Michael Stanley 3.5★

    A complex mystery set in Botswana with a large and charming detective nicknamed "Kubu", which means "hippopotamus" in Setswana. The story captures the atmosphere and character of Africa well. This is the first in the series and I look forward to the next one.

    And only one Bingo square left to fill!

    Oct 18, 2019, 5:17pm

    I too have only one square remaining. We're so close!

    Oct 18, 2019, 6:15pm

    I've already started one for that last square. My reading plan spreadsheet is looking less intimidating.

    Oct 22, 2019, 9:47pm

    AlphaKit - G & T

    Lethal White by Robert Galbraith 4.5★

    This is a doorstop but I enjoyed every minute of it. It's a complex story but not so much to make it confusing. I've read that Galbraith intends to write more for the series. I certainly hope so because I intend to read every one of them.

    Oct 23, 2019, 2:30am

    >163 VivienneR: I'm loathe to start a new series, but the reviews on this one average 4+. On my wish list it goes!

    Oct 24, 2019, 1:20am

    >164 Tess_W: It's a series that must be read in order and well worth it. I've been listening to the audio version read by Robert Glenister, an excellent narrator.

    Edited: Oct 24, 2019, 3:23pm

    BingoDog - Debut

    The Healing by David Park 4★

    This beautifully written story zeroes in on the psychological effects of the conflict in Northern Ireland with a young boy witnessing the murder of his father. The move to Belfast from his rural home is intended to heal, but next door an old man's suffering has taken a different course. A disturbing yet tender story.

    And that's my Bingo card complete!

    Oct 24, 2019, 5:04pm

    Congratulations on finishing BingoDog, I'm already looking forward to next year's card!

    Oct 24, 2019, 5:18pm

    Congrats, Vivienne!

    Oct 24, 2019, 7:05pm

    Congrats on Bingo dog!

    Oct 24, 2019, 8:21pm

    Thank you all, it was a lot of fun. Like clue, I'm looking forward to next year.

    Oct 24, 2019, 8:37pm

    Congratulations on finishing your card!

    >163 VivienneR: - I still have #3 to read before this one and Kay told me I might want to read them one right after the other so I might plan it for vacation next year.

    Oct 25, 2019, 3:19am

    Congrats on filling your card.

    Oct 25, 2019, 4:09am

    Congrats on your Bingo Card!

    Oct 25, 2019, 1:32pm

    Thank you, Betty, Helen and Birgit!

    >171 dudes22: I agree with Kay, reading them one after the other would be excellent. I kept all my audiobooks and will do that sometime.

    Edited: Oct 26, 2019, 5:11pm

    Category - Off the beaten track

    King Mouse by Cary Fagan, illustrated by Dena Seiferling 5★

    This beautiful story is one with certain appeal for children. A mouse finds a little golden crown that makes the other animals believe he is king. Happily they all find crowns, except for the bear, but the mouse makes him a dandelion chain to wear on his head. It's a good demonstration of how disappointment can be fixed, friendships made.

    The subtly coloured illustrations are superb, fully portraying the joy and wonder of finding a gold crown. Detailed and soft, they will capture the attention of any reader.

    Thanks to Tundra Books for another winner!

    Oct 26, 2019, 5:12pm

    CalendarCAT - October 11, International Day of the Girl

    Funny Girl by Nick Hornby 3★

    Not as funny as I thought it would be but Barbara Parker, who all her life just wanted to be a comedienne like Lucille Ball, provided a pleasant look back at the British radio and television "light entertainment" programmes of the 1960s.

    Oct 28, 2019, 2:42pm

    Category - Fiction

    The bookshop on the corner by Jenny Colgan 3★

    A sweet, unrealistic story set in Scotland.

    Oct 28, 2019, 10:42pm

    >177 VivienneR: Jenny Colgan is my go-to holiday reading; for when you just want something lovely and easy.

    Oct 29, 2019, 3:45pm

    >178 JayneCM: Yes, this book would make perfect holiday reading. Quite fanciful but entertaining in a comforting way.

    Oct 29, 2019, 8:47pm

    >178 JayneCM: >179 VivienneR: I think she has a Christmas book out this year. Donna VanLiere is my personal Christmas favorite. However, they are reissuing two of her novellas this year because she's writing another series with a spring installment.

    Oct 29, 2019, 9:59pm

    RandomCAT - knock-off, follow-ups, tributes, parodies

    Penelopiad: The myth of Penelope and Odysseus by Margaret Atwood 4.5★

    This is the story of The Odyssey from Penelope's angle and the long wait for her husband to return. The story is told with Atwood's typical peppery humour yet remains poetic; a classical story in modern words with feminist spirit. Helen is not the gorgeous siren we expect but "poison on legs". So far, this is my favourite Atwood. I thoroughtly enjoyed this and recommend it highly.

    Oct 29, 2019, 10:05pm

    >181 VivienneR: I definitely have The Penelopiad on my list for next year. Mythology, whether retellings or original, is one of my categories, whether it is chosen in 2020 or not. I have always been a bit dubious of Helen so this sounds particularly interesting.

    Oct 29, 2019, 10:12pm

    >182 JayneCM: You will enjoy it, Jayne. And it's a fast read. I'll watch for your opinion next year.

    Oct 30, 2019, 4:41am

    >183 VivienneR: When I looked this book up, I was happy to find it was only one title in the Canongate Myth Series, in which contemporary authors rewrite ancient myths. So I have plenty of reading to do just in this series!

    Oct 30, 2019, 4:47am

    >181 VivienneR: I enjoyed that as well, an interesting twist on a story you already know the ending of. It seems there's a market in retelling of myths. In the same vein, I can't recommend Circe highly enough.

    Oct 30, 2019, 2:57pm

    >185 Helenliz: I agree, Madeline Miller's books are wonderful.

    Edited: Oct 30, 2019, 4:02pm

    Category - Mysteries

    Mortal Causes by Ian Rankin 4★

    Rebus investigates a brutal murder discovered in the ancient subterranean streets of Edinburgh which mirrors an IRA execution and indicates links with a sectarian group in Northern Ireland. The victim is the son of gangster "Big Ger" Cafferty, Rebus' long-time adversary. An exciting, fast-moving plot with the Edinburgh Festival setting the background scene.

    Oct 31, 2019, 3:35pm

    I won't get any more books finished in October so I'm calling it a month.

    October Summary
    Read in October: 14
    Year to Date: 144

    Category - Mysteries
    Mortal Causes by Ian Rankin 4★

    Category - Fiction
    The bookshop on the corner by Jenny Colgan 3★

    Category - Off the beaten track
    King Mouse by Cary Fagan, illustrated by Dena Seiferling 5★ ❤️
    - this was my Early Reviewer win

    AlphaKit - G & T
    Lethal White by Robert Galbraith 4.5★ ❤️
    Gallows Thief by Bernard Cornwell 3.5★
    The Woman in Blue by Elly Griffiths 3.5★

    CalendarCAT -
    The 100 year-old man who climbed out the window and disappeared by Jonas Jonasson 2.5★
    Funny Girl by Nick Hornby 3★

    RandomCAT - knock-off, follow-ups, tributes, parodies
    Devil may care by Sebastian Faulks 3★
    The Penelopiad: The myth of Penelope and Odysseus by Margaret Atwood 4.5★ ❤️

    SeriesCAT - Historical
    Murder on the Lusitania by Conrad Allen 3.5★

    TBR-CAT - Visual appeal
    Still life by Louise Penny 4★

    BingoDog -
    debut: The Healing by David Park 4★
    animal on cover: A Carrion Death by Michael Stanley 3.5★

    Nov 2, 2019, 6:05pm

    >188 VivienneR: Looks like a great October! I have both Lethal White and The Penelopiad on my TBR

    Nov 2, 2019, 8:23pm

    >189 Tess_W: I liked Atwood's book even more than I thought I would. I hope the same goes for you.

    Nov 3, 2019, 5:13pm

    Taking some time today to get caught up with threads (knowing that I now need to follow you to your new thread).

    >32 VivienneR: and >132 VivienneR: - I really need to give one of Wagamese's books a read one of these days.

    >75 VivienneR: - Good review. I admit that my favorite Tana French novels are The Likeness and Faithful Place.

    >124 VivienneR: - Ooooohhhh.... a Kim Thuy I haven't read!

    >148 VivienneR: - Unfortunate about Alone in the Classroom. I really loved Late Nights on Air.

    Edited: Nov 3, 2019, 8:14pm

    >191 lkernagh: Good to see you dropping in, Lori.

    You really must read Richard Wagamese! I've only read two but plan to read a lot more. And I'll definitely try Late Nights on Air. I believe Alone in the classroom was not her best. The Kim Thuy book is fairly recent, which might be why you haven't noticed it yet.