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Donna's Book Therapy: Third Session

This is a continuation of the topic Donna's Book Therapy: Second Session.

75 Books Challenge for 2019

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Jul 22, 2019, 11:56am Top

I Opened a Book by Julia Donaldson

“I opened a book and in I strode.
Now nobody can find me.
I’ve left my chair, my house, my road,
My town and my world behind me.
I’m wearing the cloak, I’ve slipped on the ring,
I’ve swallowed the magic potion.
I’ve fought with a dragon, dined with a king
And dived in a bottomless ocean.
I opened a book and made some friends.
I shared their tears and laughter
And followed their road with its bumps and bends
To the happily ever after.
I finished my book and out I came.
The cloak can no longer hide me.
My chair and my house are just the same,
But I have a book inside me.”

Edited: Sep 17, 2019, 10:10am Top

January Reading
1. Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny. 3.8 stars. Comments.
2. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. 4.2 stars. Comments.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. 3.8 stars. Comments.
4. The Line Becomes A River: Dispatches From the Border by Francisco Cantú. 4 stars. Review.
5. My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie; audio by Cassandra Campbell. 4 stars. Comments.
💜6. The Chosen by Chaim Potok. 4.5 stars. Comments.
7. The Promise by Chaim Potok. 4 stars. Comments.
8. Sabrina by Nick Drnaso. 3 stars. Comments.
9. Hunger by Roxane Gay. 2.7 stars. Comments.

February Reading
The Good Neighbor by Maxwell King; audio by LeVar Burton. 3.5 stars. Comments.
11. The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye. 3.8 stars. Comments.
12. Quiet Girl In A Noisy World: An Introvert's Story by Debbie Tung. 4 stars. Comments.
💜13. History of the Rain by Niall Williams. 4.8 stars. Review.
14. The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai. 4.4 stars. Comments.

March Reading
15. The Library Book by Susan Orlean. 4 stars. Comments.
💜16. A Catalog of Birds by Laura Harrington. 4.5 stars. Review.
17. Circe by Madeline Miller. 4.2 stars. Comments.
18. Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear; audio by Orlegh Cassidy. 3.5 stars. Comments.
19. Leaving Everything Most Loved by Jacqueline Winspear; audio by Orlegh Cassidy. 3.5 Stars. Comments.
20. Among the Ruins by Ausma Zehanat Khan. 3.7 stars. Comments.
21. The River by Peter Heller. 4.2 stars. Comments.

April Reading:
22. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. 4.5 stars. Comments
23. Four Boots-One Journey by Jeff Alt. 3 stars. Comments.
24. The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen. 4 stars. Comments.
25. Troubles by J. G. Farrell. 3.9 stars. Comments.
26. Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward. 3.8 stars. Comments.
27. Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk by Kathleen Rooney. 3.8 stars. Comments.
💜28. These Truths by Jill Lapore. 4.4 Stars. Review.

May Reading
💜29. Little Faith by Nicholas Butler. 4.3 stars. Review.
30. A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear; audio by Orlagh Cassidy. 3.5 stars. Comments.
💜31. Moloka'i by Alan Brennert. 4.3 stars. Comments.
32. My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite. 3.3 stars. Comments.
33. In the Garden Of Beasts by Erik Larson. 4.1 stars. Comments.
34. A Drink Before the War by Dennis Lehane. Audio by Jonathan Davis. 3.7 stars. Comments.
35. Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss. 4 stars. Comments.
💜36. Bibliophile by Jane Mount. 4.3 stars. Comments.
37. The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold. Audio by Lloyd James. 3.7 stars. Comments.

June Reading
38. Bird Box by Josh Malerman. 3.4 stars. Comments.
39. Spring by Ali Smith. 3 stars. Comments.
40. My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl. 3.4 stars. Comments.
💜41. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. 4.5 stars. Comments.
42. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. 4.2 stars. Comments.
💜43. A Lowcountry Heart by Pat Conroy. 4.5 stars. Comments.
44. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. 4 stars. Comments.
45. Big Sky by Kate Atkinson. 4.2 stars. Comments.

Edited: Jan 4, 8:10pm Top

July Reading
46. A Cold Day in Paradise by Steve Hamilton. Audio by Nick Sullivan. 3 stars.Comments.
47. Fallen Mountains by Kimi Cunningham Grant. Audio by James Patrick Cronin. 3.5 stars.
48. Lost by Alice Lichtenstein; Audio by Carringtom Macduffie. 3 stars.
49. There There by Tommy Orange. 4 stars. Comments.
💜50. Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson. 4.2 stars. Comments.
51. The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. 3.9 stars. Comments.
52. Courting Mr. Lincoln by Louis Bayard. Audio by Tavia Gilbert and Robert Fass. 3.5 stars.
53. Mohawk by Richard Russo. 4 stars. Comments.
54. Say Say Say by Lila Savage. 3.7 stars. Comments.
55. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson. Audio by Katie Schorr. 3.9 stars. Comments.

August Reading
56. If You Want to Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais. 4 stars. Comments.
💜57. Deep River by Karl Marlantes. 4.5 stars. Comments.
58. Crazy Brave by Joy Harjo. 3.8 stars. Comments.
59. The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel. (Reread) 4.3 stars. Comments.
60. The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati. Audio by Cassandra Campbell. 3.8 stars. Comments.
61. Wish You Were Here by Stewart O'Nan. 4 stars. Comments.
62. The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh. 3.7 stars. Comments.
💜63. The Women of the Copper Country by Mary Doria Russell. 4.5 stars. Comments.
64. Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips. 4 stars. Comments.

September Reading
65.China Trade by S. J. Rozan. Audio by Christine Marshall. 3 stars. Comments.
66. Play Dead by David Rosenfelt. Audio by Grover Gardner. 3.9 stars. Comments.
67. The Prague Sonata by Bradford Morrow. Audio by Christina Delaine. 4 stars. Comments.
💜68. Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country by Pam Houston. 4.5 stars. Comments.
69. Lanny by Max Porter. Audio by Annie Aldington and Clare Corbett. 3.7 stars. Comments.
70. What We Were Promised by Lucy Tan. Book Group. 3 stars. Comments.
71. One Dog Night by David Rosenfelt. Audio by Grover Gardner. 3.5 stars. Comments.
72. A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron. 3.8 stars. Comments.
73. The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri. 4 stars. Comments.
74. Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold. 3.7 stars. Comments.
75. A Better Man by Louise Penny. 4 stars. Comments.

October Reading
76. The Outlander by Gil Adamson. Audio by Sabryn Rock. 3.5 stars. Comments.
77. Chances Are by Richard Russo. 4.2 stars. Review.
💜78. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. 4.5 stars. Review.
79. The Code of the Hills by Nancy Allen. Book Group. 2.3 stars. Comments.
80. America Day by Day by Simone de Beauvoir. 4 stars. Comments.
81. The Fish Can Sing by Halldor Laxness. 4.2 stars. Comments.
82. The Ungrateful Refugee by Dina Nayeri. Narrated by the author. 4.1 stars. Comments.
83. Journey to Munich by Jacqueline Winspear. 3.9 stars. Comments.
84. This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger. 4 stars. Comments.
85. Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger. 3.5 stars. Comments.
💜. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. Reread. 4.5 stars. Comments.

November Reading
87. Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout. 3.9 stars. Comments.
88. The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith. 3.7 stars. Comments.
89. Mama's Last Hug by Frans de Waal. Book Group.3.3 stars. Comments.
90. The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead. 4.5 stars. Comments.
91. The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen by Hendrik Groen. 3.7 stars. Comments.
92. The Bookshop of the Broken-Hearted by Robert Hillman. 3.3 stars.
93. Boundary Waters by William Kent Krueger. 3.9 stars. Comments.

December Reading
94. Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It by Maile Meloy. 3.5 stars. Comments.
95. In This Grave Hour by Jacqueline Winspear. 4 stars. Comments.
96. Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva. 3.4 stars. Comments.
97. Snow Angels by Stewart O'Nan. Audio. 3.9 stars. Comments.
98. This Is Happiness by Niall Williams. 4.4 stars. Comments.
99. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens Reread. 5 stars.
100. A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote. Reread. 4.5 stars.

And that's a wrap!!!

Edited: Jul 22, 2019, 1:47pm Top

Book No. 51: The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. My copy, 531 pp., 3.9 stars.

"My plan was as simple as it was crazy. During the day I would rewrite Vidal's book and at night I'd work on mine. I would write out of gratitude, despair, and vanity. I would write especially for Cristina, to prove to her that I too was able to pay the debt I had with Vidal and that, even if he was about to drop dead, David Martín had earned himself the right to look her in the eye without feeling ashamed of his ridiculous hopes."

Book two in the "Cemetery of Forgotten Books" series was enjoyable, though not quite in the same category as the first, The Shadow of the Wind. It's a prequel dripping with the ambience of 1930s Barcelona coupled with the gothic suspense I expected. Pulp fiction writer David Martín falls in love with a lovely (unattainable) damsel and makes a bargain with Andreas Corelli, a stand-in for Lucifer. As we well know, when you sell your soul to the devil, there's going to be hell to pay.

Edited: Jul 22, 2019, 12:59pm Top

Edited: Jul 24, 2019, 9:19pm Top

Book No. 52: Courting Mr. Lincoln by Louis Bayard; audio by Tavia Gilbert and Robert Fass. Hoopla, 352 pp., 3.5 stars.

This book about the early adult years of Abraham Lincoln showed how his relationship with Mary Todd developed and revealed his friendship to Joshua Speed, the storekeeper who took in Lincoln when he first came to Springfield, Illinois. I don't have much to say about the book except that I was a little disappointed, perhaps due to the overly dramatic voices narrating the book. I prefer readers who stay in the background and let the story tell itself. It was interesting to see how a backwoods self-taught lawyer became President. He found exactly the right woman for him, one who was devoted to the politics of the day. He also had his best friend coaching him in the social graces that took off the many rough spots in Lincoln's social skills. It was an interesting look into Lincoln's formative years, but I had to keep reminding myself that it was fiction that was written to sell books.

Jul 22, 2019, 1:27pm Top

Happy New Thread, Donna!

Love your toppers and the poem. Happy Reading! I'll look forward to your reviews.

Jul 22, 2019, 2:03pm Top

Happy new thread!

Jul 22, 2019, 3:33pm Top

Happy new thread, Donna! Hope all's well with you and yours!

Jul 22, 2019, 3:37pm Top

Happy new one, Donna!

Jul 22, 2019, 3:43pm Top

How are the renovations coming along Donna?

Jul 22, 2019, 4:32pm Top

Happy new thread!

Jul 22, 2019, 6:43pm Top

Happy new thread, Donna, I wish the next months treat you better.

Edited: Jul 22, 2019, 6:59pm Top

Happy New Thread, Donna. I have a copy of Courting Mr. Lincoln on shelf. I have to read Bayard and I have had a couple of his other books on shelf for years. Maybe, I should kick it off with this one.

I am buzzing along with Mohawk, at the 270 page mark. He really nails small town life and can juggle a multitude of characters. How are you doing with it?

I also started the audio of Big Sky today. Lots of characters to keep track of but I am enjoying it.

Jul 22, 2019, 7:10pm Top

Happy new thread, Donna. I loved the Ruiz Zafón books. I'd like to read them all again together to see if I'm less confused.

Edited: Jul 22, 2019, 9:44pm Top

Happy new thread, Donna! Catching up from your last thread, I’m so glad you made it up to MI this summer as I know how special it is up there to you but I’m sorry to hear of your aunt’s diagnosis.

Oh, and that ceiling! :( It always seems like something needs repair in a house, but that goes too far!

We all seem to be having a relaxed group read of Big Sky. It’s as if we all waited nearly a decade to finally read it and couldn’t wait any longer. I really hope we get another Brodie book soon!

>1 Donna828: Love that poem!

Jul 23, 2019, 10:13am Top

Happy New Thread, Donna!

That's a fun book reader poem up top.

I just gave My Sister, the Serial Killer to our BIL for his birthday. That one was a fun surprise for me when I read it earlier this year. (A fun serial killer book?! What an unusual one).

Jul 23, 2019, 3:48pm Top

Happy new thread, Donna

Jul 23, 2019, 8:50pm Top

Happy new thread, Donna. xx

Jul 24, 2019, 6:43pm Top

Happy new thread Donna. We head home from Denver tomorrow and hope one day our paths will cross here. Lots of good baby time was had by gramma and grampa.

Jul 24, 2019, 8:09pm Top

It's good to come to my new "home" and see that I've had lots of visitors. I appreciate all the Happy New Thread wishes. I'm going to try to keep the emphasis on the Happy!

>8 streamsong: Keep reading, Janet, I came here to add another review.

>9 drneutron: Thanks, Jim!

>10 Carmenere: Hi Lynda, things are improving in my world.

Jul 24, 2019, 8:18pm Top

>11 brodiew2: Hello, Brodie. Thanks for stopping in.

>12 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks for asking, Caroline. The damage has been repaired and the bedroom looks better after the facelift. I'll take a break in doing responses and post some pictures.

>13 figsfromthistle: It's good to see you here, Anita. I need to go look for your thread. I've been MIA for much of the year on the threads. Must do better…

>14 FAMeulstee: I've lost you, too, Anita from the Netherlands. I see you have been traveling again. I tend to keep up on FB better than LT these days, although I tend to lurk on both sites. I have starred both yours and Anita from Ontario's thread now.

Jul 24, 2019, 8:53pm Top

I'm not sure what phase our house remodel is in. I think I will call this latest unexpected repair, due to a leak in the attic, Phase 3, with Phase 1 being the master bathroom before Christmas, and the extensive Phase 2 being the updating of ceilings, floors, and walls on the main level of our house. I hope we get finished before we need to start over again! Lol!

The leak in the ceiling happened right before we went to Michigan. We got the HVAC pipe fixed but left things in a mess. We were lucky to find some great workers who came in to fix it as soon as we got home. They were here less than a week.


Over a third of the ceiling had to be replaced so we went ahead and had the undamaged part redone as well (goodbye popcorn ceilngs!) and decided to continue the new color scheme upstairs. We have three other bedrooms and two bathrooms to go!!!


This is the room where my youngest granddaughters like to have sleepovers.

I took apart the old crib where all six grandkids have slept as babies. It has sentimental value to me and now serves as a settee. I need to get a floor lamp in there so it can become a(nother) reading hideaway.

I'm calling this The Bear Room. We are supporters of Missouri State University whose mascot is Boomer the Bear. I'm holding my breath while our oldest granddaughter, Sadie, makes her decision about the college she will attend in the fall of 2020. She visited Missouri State this spring and it is still on her short list. *Crossing fingers*
I told her she could have a dedicated room of her own if she went to school here. She's like her Grandma and needs to have lots of quiet time, something that is almost impossible to get in a dorm. It would just be a getaway for her and she can come and go as she pleases. We'll see what happens.

Edited: Jul 24, 2019, 10:12pm Top

>15 msf59: Hi Mark. We are certainly channeling each other's reading recently. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the Bayard. It's my first book by him. I finished Mohawk yesterday and really enjoyed it. It's Russo, so of course I did, right? I still have a few of his older works to read. Yay! I haven't heard any negative talk about Big Sky. I probably would get lost in the audio as I had to keep flipping back to reacquaint myself with some of the characters…kind of like Russo with a plethora of interesting characters.

>16 BLBera: I agree, Beth. My plan is to read the other two before I get super busy in the fall. I heard the next one (No. 3) is the weakest. I will persevere nonetheless so I can get to the payoff of the latest one, The Labyrinth of Spirits, which my "bestie" reading friend loved.

>17 Copperskye: I'm glad you liked my simple poetry selection, Joanne. I quite liked it myself. I think Big Sky has got to be one of the most popular books on LT right now. And everyone loves it. Yes to more Jackson Brodie! The Michigan trip was so rushed that it seems like a dream now. It was so good to see my Aunt while she is still lucid, at least most of the time. Thank you for those kind words.

Edited: Jul 24, 2019, 10:04pm Top

>18 jnwelch: Joe, I think I took Serial Killer too seriously. It was indeed a fun (in an unexpected way) kind of read. I'm not sure it is Booker worthy, however. I'll be surprised if it makes the short list.

>19 RebaRelishesReading: Thank you, Reba.

>20 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul. I hope when I go to your thread that I'll be reading about your new quarters. You've sure been having a rough year. Let's hope the second half goes much smoother for both of us.

>21 mdoris: Your grandaughter is perfect, Mary. I'm so glad you got to bond with her already. I'm sure Denver will be in your heart and you will try and get back whenever you can. It would be great to coordinate visits and meet at The Tattered Cover. I'm glad you could fit in a side trip there.

Jul 24, 2019, 10:00pm Top

Book No. 53: Mohawk by Richard Russo. My copy, 418 pp., 4 stars.

“...he had to comfort himself with the firm conviction that most of what he objected to in Mohawk and the world at large was not the result of people reading the wrong books, but rather of not reading any at all.”

This book may have been a little rough around the edges, but I won't hold it against the author. He is writing about some gritty characters here who are barely scraping by in life and get their entertainment from playing poker and betting on the horses. Russo shines when he writes about life in a small town and the everyday lives of his large array of characters. Life in Mohawk, New York, in the 1960s centers around The Mohawk Grill and the short order cook, Harry, who doesn't miss a thing as people filter in and out and do what people do best, talk about other people.

I had to concentrate to keep the characters and the love triangles straight. In a way, RR my have been a little ahead of his time. This book struck me as more like interconnected stories rather than a typical novel. Whatever. It was a fast and memorable read. My old copy is a little beat up, but I think I'll hang on to it as it mimics most of the characters in the book who have been used and abused by life.

Jul 25, 2019, 9:31pm Top

>27 Donna828: Nice comments, Donna. I like Russo and should look for more work by him.

Fingers crossed that your granddaughter chooses to go to Missouri. It would be so nice for her to have a getaway, and so nice for grandma to get to see her. :)

I imagine you are ready to be done with the remodel.

Jul 26, 2019, 2:50pm Top

Russo is my favorite author for when I need "salve for my soul" (like when I've read too much distopia or politics). I told him that when he was here last year and he seemed to really like the idea.

Jul 27, 2019, 11:02am Top

>28 BLBera: Beth, I think after we will be ready for a break after we get the upstairs finished in late summer. Maybe we will replace some carpeting in 2020. There is always something that needs attention it seems. I would love to downsize to a one-level house with a small yard but don’t see my husband going along with that idea until we start having health issues. *sigh*

>29 RebaRelishesReading: That is so cool that you got to meet Richard Russo last year, Reba. I love the “salve for the soul” designation and can see why RR was pleased.

Jul 29, 2019, 7:37am Top

Belated happy new thread. You remind me to go back reading some Carlos Ruiz Zafón. I haven't read him for a long time.

Jul 29, 2019, 8:24pm Top

>31 Ameise1: Hi Barbara. Those Zafón books are like candy for book lovers. I just wish I had access to that Cemetery of Lost Books.

So, I've had a couple of so-so books in a row. Not exactly a book slump, but I'm ready for a Wow! book.

Jul 29, 2019, 8:49pm Top

Happy New Thread, Donna. Glad that the work on the house is nearly done.

Jul 29, 2019, 9:13pm Top

Book No. 54: Say Say Say by Dila Savage. Library, 164 pp., 3.7 stars.

"Jill's loneliness was a horror to Ella. It seemed the very worst in the bouquet of suffering and loss brain damage carried. It was this horror, combined with her own powerlessness, that provoked Ella to explore nearly every conceivable route to connection…Language, of course, was the most obvious, and seemingly the most futile, route to human connection. This did not stop Ella from trying, verbal creature that she was."

I read this book because I am in awe of caregivers who get paid so little and give so much. This is the short touching story of Ella who has been hired as a companion to Jill who is quickly declining in health and lucidity due to a brain injury. Jill has a husband and grown son who love her very much, but find it difficult to be around her because of her strange behaviors and inability to respond to their concern. Unfortunately, this happens to the best of people and it is a challenge to be around them day after day and night after night.

In the author's bio, it mentions that she was a caregiver for ten years. Her experience shows in her writing as she captures the frustrations and the patience required to serve in this role. I didn't find the sections on Ella's love life added much to the story. I wish she had given more background about Jill and her family life before she had the accident that took the spark out of her life. It left me wanting more...

Edited: Jul 29, 2019, 10:00pm Top

Book No. 55: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson. Audio by Katie Schorr. Hoopla, 320 pp., 3.9 stars.

This book drips with atmosphere. Set in 1930s Eastern Kentucky, it tells the story of the backwoods version of a Bookmobile and the gutsy young woman who delivers books to the hill people who rarely get to town. Instead of a motorized vehicle, Cussy Mary (mostly called Bluet) "drives" a mule and carries the precious books in a satchel. She was employed in the Pack Horse Program under FDR's New Deal.

It made me sad that she only had access to castoff books from city libraries and resorted to making scrapbooks from old newspapers to supplement her wares. Even sadder was the racism that she encountered in her hard life. You see, she was one of the "Blue People" of Kentucky whose skin was discolored because of a rare blood disorder. She was lucky to find meaning in her life by passing on her love of reading. But life was hard for her and her coal-miner father. Her story was so full of hardship that it bordered on melodrama. The narrator had such an earnest young voice with un understated Southern drawl which made for a satisfying listening experience. It reminded me of the books I fell in love with as a young reader, with a protagonist who was inspiring by overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Jul 29, 2019, 9:58pm Top

>33 ronincats: Hi Roni. We're having a brief respite from workers in the house for a few weeks. Work will resume in mid-August. Can't wait to get my house and life back again!

Jul 30, 2019, 9:31pm Top

>36 Donna828: I feel your pain Donna. I don't know if I could survive the disruption that I see in these pictures you've posted. I'm just too old for that hahaha. Give me a book and a quiet room any day😏

Aug 3, 2019, 7:31pm Top

Happy newish thread, Donna. The after photos of your house look much improved. I hope the rest of this year's renos go smoothly and quickly.

Aug 3, 2019, 11:53pm Top

>36 Donna828: Good idea to just sometimes take a break and a deep breath before the surge to the finish line, Donna.

Have a lovely Sunday.

Aug 4, 2019, 8:51am Top

Happy new thread!

Aug 7, 2019, 10:45am Top

>37 brenzi: Bonnie, I hear ya and agree wholeheartedly. Hopefully Phase 3 will be over and done with quickly. It's all upstairs work so I have places I can go hide with a book.

>38 Familyhistorian: Thanks, Meg. We probably won't do the last phase until the end of August. I'm soaking up the quiet time to gear up for the mess and noise.

>39 PaulCranswick: I like the idea of a surge to the finish line, Paul. Ready, set, GO!

>40 ChelleBearss: Thank you, Chelle.

Edited: Aug 7, 2019, 11:23am Top

Book No. 56: If You Want to Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais. Library, 435 pp., 4 stars.

"Five months after the baby first showed up on our doorstep, his room is ready and waiting. All it needs now is Mandla. That's the baby's official name as registered on his birth certificate. It means 'strength' or 'power' in Zulu, and it's also only one letter away from spelling 'Mandela,' the man who made history be becoming president on the day Mandla was born. The name was given to him as a kind of talisman by the black staff at the orphanage and I like it; it suits him."

This story about two white sisters, the black baby who was left on their doorstep, and their black maid is set in post-apartheid South Africa when racial struggles and violence were still strong. It's a story that reads quickly because of the short chapters. And I mean short as in two to three pages. I didn't care for the frequent change of voice, but the situation was believable and heartwarming so I can overlook my slight discomfort. I enjoyed seeing how these disparate characters were blended into a family against all odds. The author knows her subject matter well as she grew up in South Africa surrounded by Afrikaners. I wish I had known about the glossary in the back to help me with the language. This is the author's second book and, for a change, I thought it was even better than her first.

Edited: Aug 11, 2019, 5:10pm Top

Book No. 57: Deep River by Karl Marlantes. Library, 724 pp., 4.5 stars.

"She paused to look at Ilmari's tiny purchase of civilization in the vast forest where rain-swollen streams, hidden from view by trees too large and close together to see through or by salal taller than a man and too thick to penetrate, ran unseen to wide tidal rivers. The farms here, unlike the tidy farms at home, seemed more like survivors in a battlefield of stumps and slash, just waiting to be reclaimed by the forest that rolled unconquered and impenetrable, all the way to the other side of the Cascade mountains."

I love me a good family saga and this one will definitely be in my Top Ten books of the year. It follows the Koski siblings, Ilmari, Aino, and Matti, after they emigrate to the Pacific Northwest in the U.S. from Finland to escape the Russian takeover of their homeland. Their lives were hard but they were Finlanders who had the "secret" power of sisu which defines the Finnish character traits of courage, resilience, and strong will. As the two brothers pave their way in the new world via the logging and fishing industries, their sister Aino, who has resolved never to marry after losing the love of her life in the old country, becomes a leader through sheer force of her strong beliefs of equality as she tirelessly works to support the idea of labor unions.

As a side note, I usually delight in strong female protagonists but I was not a fan of Aino who shunned the idea of having a family and a traditional life. That I was able to overcome my dislike is a real testament to the author's skill in weaving such a spellbinding story based on his family background. Aino and I would never be friends in real life yet I truly came to admire her spirit and tenacity. I also have my own feelings about logging as a form of raping the land. However, it was a way of life for these men and I had to respect their skill and bravery in a treacherous occupation. I was captivated by this book and the look into a culture that I was vaguely familiar with due to my Norwegian ancestry. I liked learning more about the Finnish people and the hardships they conquered during the early years of the 20th century. This is a big book but one that I could not put down except for the necessities of life. I totally resented the need to eat and sleep for the two days I spent immersed in Marlantes' frontier wilderness epic.

Aug 7, 2019, 6:07pm Top

Good reviews, Donna. I know Mark really liked If You Want to Make God Laugh, too. We got to see Bianca Marais at a local bookstore, and she was impressive - smart and not full of herself.

I liked MarlantesMatterhorn a lot, but never read his second one. Deep River sounds really good, especially in its making you not want to waste time eating and sleeping when you could be reading it.😀

Aug 8, 2019, 6:43pm Top

Hi Joe. I would have liked to be with you and Mark at the Bianca Marais evening. It’s so cool to meet with an author in person. I don’t have many of those opportunities here in Southwest Missouri.

I own a copy of Matterhorn and will try to work it in this year. I was very impressed with my first date with Mr. Marlantes. It’s a shame he started writing late in life. I read that he is in his mid70s. The good thing about it, though, is that he has all that life experience to write about.

Aug 8, 2019, 6:57pm Top

Just catching up here

>24 Donna828: What a great remodel! Looks nice :)

Aug 8, 2019, 8:20pm Top

I loved Matterhorn and asked my library to buy the eBook for Deep River Donna but then it popped up on my Overdrive list and I saw how many pages it was I though, um, no. Not right now. But I see I may have made a mistake so I probably will add it back on. Sigh. I just finished a 500 page book and thought that's my limit. We'll see..I want to get back to Trollope too and you know how long his books are. BTW do you know how to get to the Trollope Group Reads?

Aug 10, 2019, 1:47pm Top

Deep River sounds wonderful, Donna. Onto the list it goes. Although I might read Matterhorn first, since it is on my shelf.

Aug 10, 2019, 3:51pm Top

Hi Donna! I just listened to The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek myself. I've spent most of my life in Appalachia not terribly far from where this book is set. I loved the narrator because her voice sounded just right. And the dialect in the book is right, too. Living conditions are better now than they were at the time the book was set thanks to welfare and food stamps, but there's still a lot of poverty in the region. I grew up in a rural corner of Knox County and I went to elementary school in the 1970s with children whose homes didn't have indoor plumbing. I think they all had electricity but I'm not sure about that.

Aug 10, 2019, 8:13pm Top

>46 figsfromthistle: Thank you, Anita.

>47 brenzi: Bonnie, I love family sagas and they tend to be long. I think I need to read a few slimmer books to catch my breath. We read the Trollope books starting back in 2013. If you go to Groups and check the wiki for that year, there should be the listings of the individual books. Good luck!

>48 BLBera: Deep River was pretty wonderful, Beth. I'll be reading Matterhorn fairly soon. I liked Marlantes' attention to detail. You will learn a lot about logging. lol.

>49 cbl_tn: I thought Book Woman sounded authentic, Carrie. I loved hearing about how much the books were treasured by those without easy access to a library. I agree on the choice of narrator. She had the perfect soft drawl without being overdone.

Aug 11, 2019, 8:40am Top

Wow! You are pounding out some terrific reads! It looks like we both enjoyed Mohawk and Make God Laugh. I hope to get to her earlier novel, Hum, in the coming weeks. It is great to hear that you loved Deep River, since I have a copy of that one on shelf. I had not seen any LT activity, on that one, until now. Need to bump it up. I love Marlantes.

Aug 11, 2019, 3:55pm Top

>51 msf59: Mark, I enjoyed my first book by Marlantes. I bought Matterhorn when you and others raved about it here and then lost my nerve to read it. I find it tough to read about the Viet Nam War. It was a scary time and nothing good came from it. I will read it, though, when the time is right.

Aug 11, 2019, 4:09pm Top

>43 Donna828: I read the description on that one as well as your review, and it sounds right up my alley. Unfortunately my libraries don't own a copy. I suggested it via TNReads--and since it is new, they may actually order a copy. I may also consider it for the leased book collection at the university library, but I may need to forego it for something I think will circulate better.

Aug 11, 2019, 4:43pm Top

Book No. 58: Crazy Brave by Joy Harjo. Library, 169 pp., 3.8 stars.

"To imagine the spirit of poetry is much like imagining the shape and size of the knowing. It is a kind of resurrection light; it is the tall ancestor spirit who has been with me since the beginning, or a bear or a hummingbird. It is a hundred horses running the land in a soft mist..."

This slim memoir by our country's newest Poet Laureate was a feast of words, images, and emotions. Joy honors her Creek Nation heritage through her poetry, music, and art. What a talented woman who overcame her harsh and sometimes abusive upbringing in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The four sections of the book were headed by the directions her journey took her beginning with the sun in the east, heading north toward the cold winds, then west to the doorway of ancestors, and finally south in the direction of release. She is propelled by the stories of her ancestors and her visions. Story is a word used repeatedly. Most of her stories are of her early life, although many of them describe the vignettes of her imagination and dreams. It gave me a little insight into the creative mind of a poet. I listened to her haunting music while I wrote my comments. Who knows, I might even look into one of her poetry collections.

Aug 11, 2019, 5:36pm Top

>53 thornton37814: Hi Lori. I am always so disappointed when the local library doesn't have a copy of the book I want. I can usually get it from a regional library but hate the hassle. I'm coming across the problem more with older books because it seems the library keeps fewer copies in circulation than they used to. Gotta make room for those rows of computers I suppose. I do hope you like Deep River when you snag a copy.

Aug 11, 2019, 9:10pm Top

>55 Donna828: I suspect one of the libraries will end up getting a copy. I really wish we had a regional depository here which kept one or two copies of the titles libraries seem to weed--a copy of last resort. I know many states have such arrangements. I wish Tennessee would do this.

Aug 14, 2019, 3:24pm Top

I also loved Crazy Brave, Donna. I have gotten to listen to her read and perform a couple of times. I have a couple of her autographed poetry collections as well!

Aug 17, 2019, 8:06am Top

>56 thornton37814: Lori, "a copy of last resort" seems like an excellent idea!

>57 BLBera: Beth, I think authors who take the time to meet the readers are very savvy. It's a great way to sell books and create fans. I wish I had more opportunities like that.

Aug 17, 2019, 8:21am Top

Book No. 59: The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel. Library, 203 pp., Reread, Book Group, 4.5 stars.

"Knight said he really didn't know why he left. He'd given the question plenty of thought but had never arrived at an answer. There was no specific cause he could name--no childhood trauma, no sexual abuse. There wasn't alcoholism in his home or violence. He wasn't trying to hide anything, to cover a wrongdoing, to evade confusion about his sexuality."

I liked this book just as much the second time around, although I probably wouldn't have reread it for any reason other than my book group chose it. We had another good turnout of 15 members and this time we stayed on topic. We tended to agree that some people are just wired differently than others and that Christopher Knight was born to be a hermit. Here are my comments from April of 2017:

"What makes a person drop out of society and live in the woods with no contact with other people for several decades? Christopher Knight always preferred his own company, but he did finish high school and was able to hold down on a job. So why did he drive off into the woods, abandon his car, and make no attempts to reassure his family that he was still alive? Who knows, perhaps not even Chris. But it is clear that he felt fulfilled in his life in the wilderness and had the patience and cunning to break into cabins for 27 years, taking only what he needed, until he was finally caught by the authorities. Henry Thoreau was a boy scout compared to the subject of this psychological study by Michael Finkel. Kudos to the author for his gentle treatment of someone who just wanted to be left alone. I kind of wish they had become friends but it seems that Chris Knight would probably have been happier if he had never been discovered in the Maine woods."

Edited: Aug 17, 2019, 12:15pm Top

Book No. 60: The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati. Audio by Cassandra Campbell. Hoopla, 742 pp., 3.8 stars.

I invested 30 hours in this novel and liked most of it. It was set in the late 1800s in New York City, a time of poverty and change. The 'moral police' were relentless especially when it came to women and their bodies. One of the main story lines was about illegal abortions. There was much information about women in medicine, in particular two cousins, Anna and Sophie who were dedicated to improving health care in a time where most women were home raising a family. This might have been the gilded age in NYC but it was also the time of an immigration explosion and orphans wandering the streets or in overcrowded orphanages. I relished the historical aspects of the story but got tired of the romantic scenes. Now that the two female protagonists are married, perhaps the sequel coming out this fall will focus more on the much-needed social reforms as the saga progresses into the 20th century.

Aug 17, 2019, 10:32am Top

Book No. 61: Wish You Were Here by Stewart O'Nan. My copy, 517 pp., 4 stars.

"She was obsolete, the product of another century, like her grandparents. Everything she had loved was gone, everything she knew was useless, all the songs and dances, the trendy recipes, like an old lady whose clothes had long gone out of style. But that's what she was, that least desirable of things: an old lady. She'd never thought it possible."

Read this book only if you enjoy way too much detail about ordinary people on a week-long family vacation. This is the last annual week at the Maxwell vacation cottage at Chautauqua, New York. Emily (self-described in the above quote) is the matriarch and is selling the rundown place after the death of her husband, Henry. The chapters are headed by days of the week and include lots of minutiae about the everyday events of Emily, her sister-in-law Arlene, daughter Meg whose husband has left her for a younger woman, son Kenneth married to the petulant Lisa, and a combination of their children including two adolescent girls and two prepubescent boys. We are privy to their thoughts, dreams, disappointments and most of the details of their activities, meals, and personal hygiene for the week of their last hurrah. I am making it sound bland and boring, which it would be to many people, but it struck a chord for me as the perfect book for the late-summer doldrums. Don't say I didn't warn you!

Edited: Aug 17, 2019, 1:50pm Top

>59 Donna828: I liked that book too Donna. It has extra meaning for me as it was the last book my dad was reading before he died last year. I was planning to read the rest of it to him, when we heard he had gone.

>60 Donna828: I must get back to O'Nan, I have three more still on the shelf.

Aug 18, 2019, 3:08pm Top

>62 Caroline_McElwee: Thank you for sharing that bittersweet memory about your father and The Stranger in the Woods. I have some of the books from my parent’s library. I should read more of them. I got very emotional rereading my mother’s copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It was one of her favorite books.

I liked my first time out with Mr. O’Nan. I’ll definitely read more by him.

Aug 18, 2019, 7:09pm Top

And interestingly I have Wish You Were Here on my shelf, Donna. I wonder when the time will be right for bland and boring lol.

Aug 18, 2019, 7:38pm Top

Happy Sunday, Donna. We always seem to be in the same biblio-orbit. I love it. I also loved both Crazy Brave & The Stranger in the Woods and I have Wish You Were Here on my radar. This is a follow-up to Emily, Alone, correct?

Aug 18, 2019, 10:33pm Top

>61 Donna828: You see, I loved the detail! :) If you haven’t already gotten enough of the Maxwell family, check out Henry, Himself, basically a prequel, and Emily, Alone, which would come third in chronological order. I plan on a reread of Wish You Were Here now that I’ve gotten to know Henry better.

I’ve loved just about everything else I’ve read by O’Nan, Donna, and feel you can’t go wrong with any of them. Oddly, probably his most popular book, Last Night at the Lobster, is my least favorite (and I read it twice thinking I may have just missed the charm in it, but no...). Katie is a big fan, too.

>60 Donna828: That one sounds interesting!

Aug 19, 2019, 10:16am Top

>66 Copperskye: - I am a big fan! I loved 'Lobster,' though. I think I've read it 4 times now :)

I haven't read Wish You Were Here yet, though. I was thinking I might get to it this summer, but....

>65 msf59: - WYWH came before Emily, Alone, Mark. And his newest one, Henry Himself is about the husband.

Hi Donna!

Aug 21, 2019, 10:47am Top

>64 brenzi: My comments were definitely “tongue-in-cheek”, Bonnie. I thoroughly enjoyed my week (though I read it in two days) with the Maxwell family.

>65 msf59: Mark, I do try to keep up with you as we have similar reading tastes. Next thing you know, I’ll take up birdwatching as a hobby. ;-)

Aug 21, 2019, 10:58am Top

>66 Copperskye: Hi Joanne. I loved O’Nan’s attention to detail, too. I was impressed that he was able to get into the heads of both genders and such a wide range of ages. I’m always delighted to “discover” a new author, and I have you to thank for this one.
Also, thanks for answering Mark’s question.

>67 katiekrug: Hi Katie. I am looking forward to reading more books by Stewart O’Nan. Thanks for chiming in! You and Joanne have piqued my interest in Last Night at the Lobster.

Aug 22, 2019, 12:35pm Top

Book No. 62: The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh. Library, 302 pp., 3.7 stars.

“You grow up feeling the weight of blood, of family. There's no forsaking kin. But you can't help when kin forsakes you or when strangers come to be family.”

This fast-paced debut novel set in the Missouri Ozarks was a gripping coming-of-age story. Actually it was two stories about a mother and daughter. The daughter Lucy lost her mother when she was just a baby. Coincidentally, they were about the same age in the two narratives. To make things even more confusing, the mother's name was Lila, and its only clear after the first few chapters that we are going back and forth in time. Of course, there are family secrets and a taciturn father who won't tell Lucy much of anything about her mother.

Laura McHugh does a good job building the suspense. She also does well depicting the foreboding atmosphere of the ominous Ozarkian landscape. Henbane is a fictitious town, but she mentions so many other landmarks, including the city where I live, that I know the region well. It is set in Winter's Bone country. In fact if you liked Woodrell's book, you will probably like this one as well.

Aug 26, 2019, 5:11pm Top

Book No. 63: The Women of Copper Country by Mary Doria Russell. Library, 339 pp., 4.5 stars.

"Drums begin the cadence. The marchers begin to move, shuffling at first, then striding, until the parade stretches out behind the huge flag that Annie Clements carries: read and white and blue, flapping in a stiff breeze that pushes Lake Superior's chill across the peninsula. With more and more strikebreakers showing up in town, the Women's Auxiliary and their children now march in the middle of the column, with union men forming a protective shield all around them."

The time may not be right, but Annie Clements is angry from the top of her 6-foot frame to her toes. When another miner dies because of the cost-saving measure of operating a one-man-drill, she rallies the women of Calumet, Michigan to join forces with the newly organized union of the Western Federation of Miners to walk away from the 12-hour days until management agrees to safer working conditions with better pay. Ms. Russell paints a somber picture of a town owned by the Calumet & Hecla Company whose executives live an opulent lifestyle while the immigrants work the deep mines and can barely feed their families. Strikes are hard on both sides, but the deepest pockets usually win. As usual, Ms. Russell has done extensive research and weaves an inspiring narrative around the facts. Highly recommended for lovers of in-depth historical fiction.

Edited: Aug 26, 2019, 6:05pm Top

Book No. 64: Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips. Library, 257 pp., 4 stars.

"A fact: the statistical likelihood that her daughters would be found at this point was infinitesimal. Wherever they went, they were there now permanently, no matter the number of search parties organized or pleas printed on a front page. Marina was not ignorant. A missing child is most likely to come home in the first hour after disappearance. Every hour after that, the chance of a happy reunion decreases…"

I learned a lot about the people of a remote part of northeastern Russia in this story about two missing sisters. We read in the first few pages that they are abducted by a man and driven away in his shiny black car. This thought scares me because Alyona and Sophia are only two years older than my two granddaughters who live in town. The book is centered around the abduction but most of it is structured around peripheral characters that only have a slight connection to these girls. The linked story device worked well to inform readers about this unique region and the clash between indigenous people (natives) and the Russians (whites) who mostly populate the few cities in the region. It was an excellent debut novel and I look forward to more books by the author.

Aug 26, 2019, 6:07pm Top

I wrote these last few book comments in haste as we are off again to Northern Michigan (yes, Copper--and Iron Ore--Country), this time for a funeral. My 76-year-old aunt lost her battle against the aggressive brain tumor that she was diagnosed with less than five months ago. I'll have lots of time to ponder some sweet memories of her as we drive the 1,800 mile round trip in the next few days. We will also be listening to an assortment of audio books. More on that when we get back home this weekend.

Aug 26, 2019, 9:48pm Top

I’m sorry to hear about your aunt, Donna. Safe travels to you.

>71 Donna828: I’m about 100 pages in and enjoying it!

Aug 26, 2019, 11:00pm Top

Sorry to hear about your aunt, Donna!

Aug 27, 2019, 12:03pm Top

Adding condolences Donna. But glad the memories will be sweet.

Aug 28, 2019, 7:31am Top

>73 Donna828: I'm sorry for your loss.

Aug 28, 2019, 8:56am Top

So sorry about your aunt, Donna. Have a safe trip.

Edited: Aug 28, 2019, 6:00pm Top

Hi Donna, I actually stopped in to wish you a happy birthday but I now see I must add my condolences in regards to your aunt, so sad. Safe travels.

Aug 28, 2019, 7:22pm Top

Sorry to hear about your aunt, Donna. Safe travels and glad you have so many sweet memories of her.

Aug 28, 2019, 9:21pm Top

So sorry for your loss Donna.

Aug 29, 2019, 5:41pm Top

So sorry about your aunt, Donna, safe travels.

Aug 29, 2019, 10:00pm Top

But we're celebrating your birthday anyway, Donna! A day late on my part, but you know what they say!

Aug 31, 2019, 4:01pm Top

Happy birthday Donna.

Sep 1, 2019, 7:16am Top

I'm sorry to hear about your Aunt, Donna, and also wish you safe travels.

Happy belated birthday!

Sep 1, 2019, 11:53am Top

So sorry to hear about your aunt, Donna.

Belated happy birthday!

>71 Donna828: This sounds wonderful. I have a copy from the library. I hope to get to it before it's due.

>72 Donna828: It is an excellent first novel; I look forward to more by her.

Sep 1, 2019, 4:30pm Top

Wishing you safe travels!

Sep 1, 2019, 9:29pm Top

Hi Donna. I am so glad to read your comments about Deep River. I have been eyeing it since it is set in my part of the world but its heft has so far put me off. That you got so caught up in it for two full days is very enticing!

I'm sorry to hear about your aunt (and so young!) and I join the chorus wishing you safe travels.

Sep 4, 2019, 12:36pm Top

We got home from Michigan this weekend. We traveled almost 2,000 miles in 5 days. We listened to two audio books together and I finished another one on my own. Since we've been home, I celebrated my belated birthday with family and had another quiet celebration with my brother on his birthday. I had a lovely birthday lunch with my BFF yesterday and went to Haley's soccer game last night. Now I'm ready to take a deep breath and dive back into Library Thing. I've missed my book friends and appreciate all the support I've gotten from this group lately. I'm ready to start a new season with lots of good reading and visiting with my online friends about our favorite topic: BOOKS!

Sep 4, 2019, 12:39pm Top

>74 Copperskye: I'm glad you're enjoying The Women of Copper Country, Joanne. I sang its praises to a few of my reading cousins while I was in Michigan.

>75 ronincats: Thank you, Roni.

>76 Caroline_McElwee: It's always good when the memories are happy ones, Caroline. Thanks for the kind words.

>77 figsfromthistle: Thanks, Anita.

>78 RebaRelishesReading: Thank you, Reba.

Sep 4, 2019, 12:42pm Top

>79 Carmenere: Thanks for thinking of me, Lynda.

>80 bell7: I appreciate your visit and those good thoughts, Mary.

>81 brenzi: Thank you, Bonnie.

>82 FAMeulstee: We are home safe and sound. Thanks, Anita.

Sep 4, 2019, 12:45pm Top

>83 ronincats: My birthday is a blur this year, Roni. Maybe it's better that way. lol.

>84 Caroline_McElwee: Thank you, Caroline.

>85 karenmarie: I appreciate it, Karen.

>86 BLBera: Hi Beth, we have been having a run of good books lately. I hope you made the deadline on Copper Country.
Thank you for the condolences and birthday wishes.

Sep 4, 2019, 12:50pm Top

>87 mdoris: Thanks, Mary. I need to rest up for another road trip in less than two weeks. We are going to Denver for a Hope visit and a trip up to the mountains to walk among the golden leaves of the aspen. I hope our timing is right.

>88 EBT1002: I think you will love Deep River, Ellen. It is worth every page, but I know what you mean because your time is so limited these days. I just finished another "deep" book thanks to your recommendation. More on my thoughts about Deep Creek after I've paid a few overdue visits around the threads.
Thank you for adding your voice to the chorus!

Sep 4, 2019, 3:17pm Top

Condolences on your aunt. I'm glad you have good memories.

Great reviews, as usual. Deep River sounds wonderful as does The Women of the Copper Country. Crazy Brave also sounds very interesting.

Have a wonderful trip to Denver! Aspens are so wonderful, aren't they? I have a small grove - it's so amazing they they are all interconnected. Mine aren't turning yet, but I live on the valley floor.

Edited: Sep 4, 2019, 7:07pm Top

Hi, Donna. I have said this before, but I love being on the same book orbit as you and this seems to happen more often than not, during our reading year. Of course, I really enjoyed the new MDR, and I am close to 300 pages into Deep River. It is a pleasant surprise, that both this one and Copper Country, both deal so aggressively with the early labor movement, with a woman leading the charge. Marlantes is a born storyteller. Matterhorn was no fluke.

I am still waiting on my copy of Disappearing Earth to come in.

Sep 4, 2019, 7:40pm Top

Wishing you the best on your next trip to Denver. It sounds wonderful with the changing colours of the aspens.

Edited: Sep 4, 2019, 8:18pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Sep 4, 2019, 8:36pm Top

That was weird. An old book review appeared in Message 97. Do we have some Gremlins on LT?

Sep 4, 2019, 8:49pm Top

>94 streamsong: Janet, it's funny you should mention the interconnection of aspen groves. That was mentioned in the book I just finished. I thought of you as I was reading Deep Creek. It's a memoir about a woman living on a ranch in Colorado by herself. She has horses, sheep, donkeys, and dogs for company. And her small grove of Aspens may just have saved her property from the wildfire that was bearing down on her from three sides. More on that later.

>95 msf59: I'm on Mark's Book Orbit. Best news I've had in a long time! It does seem like we are reading many of the same books. I need to catch up with you. I just saw on the "connections" that you had listed a Tracy Kidder book. I love everything I've read by him.

>96 mdoris: Thanks, Mary. I hope we aren't too early. I've always heard that the peak was in mid-September. Guess we will find out.

Edited: Sep 4, 2019, 10:00pm Top

Book No. 65: China Trade by S. J. Rozan. Audio by Christine Marshall. 275 pp., 3 stars.

This is the first book in the Lydia Chin/Bill Smith detective series. It had a somewhat boring plot about stolen porcelain from a small Chinatown museum. Lydia is an ABC (American-born-Chinese) young woman who is a struggling Private Investigator. Her sidekick is the taciturn Bill Smith who is dependable and obviously smitten with his partner. The plot was thin and the characters bordered on stereotypes, especially the Chinese mother. I try to make allowances for an author's first book so I may go ahead with the series but it definitely did not suit my partner-in-life who compares all PIs to Harry Bosch.

Edited: Sep 8, 2019, 6:15pm Top

Book No. 66: Play Dead by David Rosenfelt. Audio by Grover Gardner. Hoopla, 308 pp., 3.9 stars.

Eureka! My husband liked his book and even chuckled out loud a few times as we were listening to it on our way back home from Upper Michigan. The description of an attorney, Andy Carpenter, defending a Golden Retriever on Death Row (aka known as The Pound) sounded pretty frivolous, but it worked! Once he freed the dog and learned it was the same dog in a murder case where Reggie's owner had been wrongfully imprisoned for five years, "Andy tackles the case like a dog on a chew toy" (from the website) and a silly-sounding story quickly turns into a first-class crime investigation with some well-crafted courtroom scenes.

This is Book 6 in the series so we probably missed some of the backstory references, but it didn't keep us from getting caught up in the plot twists as Andy dances around the mafia and government officials who play a role in the story. I never thought I would call a legal thriller a fun read, but this one definitely entertains and engages the reader or listener. Kudos to one of my favorite narrators, Grover Gardner, who does the subtle snarky bits very well.

Edited: Sep 5, 2019, 9:47am Top

Book No. 67: The Prague Sonata by Bradford Morrow. Audio by Christina Delaine. Hoopla, 528 pp., 4 stars.

I have mixed feelings about this book, partly because it was so rich in detail and musicology that I got a little lost in the audio version. However, it kept me engaged for the entire 18 hr. and 48 minutes I devoted to it over an almost 3-week period. I loved all the descriptions of The Czech Republic and liked learning more about music.

The story revolved around an 18th century musical score that got separated into its three parts during the Nazi regime to prevent it from destruction. One of the parts is given to Meta, a fine pianist whose career ended when an accident injured her hand. She takes on the mission of reuniting the sonata, traveling from NYC to its origin in Prague and doing the detective work that eventually takes her back to the U.S. and a road trip to find the remaining piece of the puzzle.

I enjoyed the backstories and the lovely descriptions of Prague. The music parts were clearly out of my league, having only one year of piano lessons as a reluctant 8-year-old. Still, I appreciated the importance of what Meta was doing and her passion,, not only for the music but for the honor she bestowed on the Czech woman who went to great lengths to preserve a bit of history.

Edited: Sep 5, 2019, 10:27am Top

Book No. 68: Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country by Pam Houston. Library, 303 pp., 4.5 stars.

"If you can't fall in love with the San Juan Mountains during the third week of September, you can't fall in love. The mountainsides are covered with the world's largest aspen forests, and they are changing in vast undulating swathes: yellow, golden, orange, vermilion. The sky is a headstrong break-your-heart blue, the air is so clear you can see a hundred miles on a straight horizon, and the river is cold and crisp and possibly even clearer than the air. The coyotes sing, all night sometimes, and the elk bugle in the misty dawn along the river."

That elegant description of Pam Houston's beloved property in Southwest Colorado made me fall in love with the book. I knew nothing about the author before I saw Ellen and Joanne's praise of this wonderful love letter to Colorado and nature in general, but now I feel like I could make the trek to Creede, CO and drop in on the author and feel right at home. I know about her harsh childhood, and I understand her resilience in overcoming it. I know about her dedication to the land that she loves and the animals that give meaning to her life. I learned about her perseverance to accept the challenge to keep up and pay for the land that makes her heart sing.

I will be on the lookout for more books by Pam Houston. She is an exceptional writer who pays for her rural lifestyle by teaching creative writing at the University of California. I was kind of expecting her to go off on a rant about global warming and how the earth is deteriorating. She mentions these problems but does so in a way that lives up to the subtitle: 'Finding Hope in the High Country'. She doesn't minimize the harm that is being done to the land, but she maximizes the innate resilience of our world. The massive wildfire that threatened her property and severely wounded the surrounding hills and valleys served as a metaphor for the self-healing that takes place after a catastrophe. "…there is something holy in the burn. Something purified. Something cleansed. It's severe in here, but not lifeless. Woodpeckers and flickers flit from tree to tree and clear water trickles down through charred stumps and standing pillars of charcoal. It's only been a few weeks and the fireweed is up already, short plants with tiny leaves and lots of purple blossoms. A few baby aspen shoots have started…There is something here than induces breathlessness, that threatens to stop the heart, but it is not despair." (220, 221)

Sep 5, 2019, 1:06am Top

>101 Donna828: I read the first two or three books of this series several years ago. I should get back to it - dogs and NJ, how could I go wrong? I imagine it’d be good on audio and I like Grover Gardner’s narration (although I can’t remember which books I’ve heard him read). And congrats on finding something both you and Dave could enjoy! That can be quite a challenge.

>103 Donna828: !!!

>93 Donna828: The aspens are supposed to be especially pretty this year. I’m hoping to get up to Boreas Pass this year. Happy leaf peeping!


Sep 5, 2019, 10:55am Top

>104 Copperskye: I thought of you and Skye as we were listening to the Rosenfelt book, Joanne. The books are a little on the light side, but will be perfect for future road trips. Grover Gardner and I got acquainted when I was listening to the Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold. I'm kind of disappointed that he is not going to be reading Paladin of Souls which will be my traveling companion on September 16 and 17 when I drive out your way. It's going to be another whirlwind trip I'm afraid. We will spend as much time with Mike, Rebecca, and Hope that we can squeeze in before and after our jaunt up to the mountains. Thank you for the leaf peeping link and another big thank you for the heads up on Deep Creek, one of the most satisfying books I've read this year.

Edited: Sep 5, 2019, 8:01pm Top

I'm so glad you enjoyed Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country. I hope more people read it. As extroverted as I am, it made me fantasize about living a more isolated life. And, as you said, it's a love letter to Colorado and nature more generally.

Welcome home from Michigan!

Sep 6, 2019, 9:45pm Top

>103 Donna828: now that sounds like a book for me Donna. Your enticing review makes it irresistible.

Sep 7, 2019, 11:14am Top

Thanks for the descriptions of the audiobooks, Donna. I've been using our library's new app, Libby, and it is so easy that I suspect I'll be listening to more books, and I welcome recommendations. The Prague Sonata sounds interesting to me, although maybe not in audio form.

You are putting on the miles these days!

Sep 7, 2019, 7:47pm Top

I'm so happy to see Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country getting love and attention! Go Donna!

Sep 8, 2019, 4:12pm Top

>106 EBT1002:, >109 EBT1002: Thanks for the welcome home, Ellen. The ranch lifestyle might have appealed to me 20 years ago when I could have more easily managed the workload. I would need a team of cowboys at this time in my life. Being surrounded by mountains sounds wonderful.

I'm doing my best to spread the word!

Sep 8, 2019, 4:17pm Top

>107 brenzi: Bonnie, I think you should read it and help spread the word.

>108 BLBera: Beth, I too love the ease of pushing a button and having an audiobook to listen to. My problem is that I can't always find what I want on Hoopla. Another problem is that some of the books I've favorited are no longer available. I guess the site is like the public library in that it can't keep the books forever. I may have to read the rest of the Maisie Dobbs books in print form. I keep forgetting about Libby. I'll see what their selection looks like. Thanks for the reminder.

Edited: Sep 8, 2019, 4:56pm Top

Book No. 69: Lanny by Max Porter. Audio by Annie Aldington and Clare Corbett. Hoopla, 160 pp., 3.7 stars.

This was one of the strangest books I've listened to in a good while. I'm calling it a modern-day fairy tale reminiscent of The Brothers Grimm. Max Porter takes the reader to the dark side of a quaint English village within commuting distance of London where a creature of the earth known as Dead Papa Toothwort is infatuated by anything connected to death and decomposition. The resulting gory images at the beginning of the book almost made me give up before I gave it a chance. Once I realized it was magic realism, I persevered and am glad that i did.

One of Papa Toothwort's favorite things to do is eavesdrop on the villagers. This is where the audio version excelled. The snippets of conversation in the many voices were my favorite parts of the book. When "Papa" heard some of the weirdness that young Lanny came up with, he was smitten and began to play close attention to the lad. This is when the book gets ultra creepy, especially when Lanny turns up missing. I thought the mother was a great character as was Pete the artist. For the most part, I don't enjoy most experimental fiction but the writing made this one acceptable. And it didn't hurt that it was short. I might not have had the patience if I had to carry it over for several days.

Sep 8, 2019, 5:12pm Top

I've caught the Deep Creek fever from you all. Thank goodness my small Colorado library has a copy.

Sep 8, 2019, 5:20pm Top

Happy Sunday, Donna. Great review of Deep Creek. I am sold and I will be doing this one on audio. Probably next month.

Good review of Lanny. I loved that book. I did not find it Grimm at all...grins.

Sep 14, 2019, 5:12pm Top

>113 dallenbaugh: So glad you are going to be reading this wonderful book about living and loving the land in Colorado, Donna. I'm guessing Creede, CO isn't too far from you. Maybe a roadtrip after you finish it? Yay for well-stocked libraries!

>114 msf59: Not grim(m) at all, huh? I love your sense of humor, Mark. And you will love Deep Creek. Guaranteed. It may even make you want to take another trip out that way. I'll be there next week. :-)

Sep 14, 2019, 5:27pm Top

Book No. 70: What We Were Promised by Lucy Tan. Library, 329 pp., 3 stars.

"Love is not some mysterious force that comes from nowhere. It requires time and commitment, both of which are in your control."

These words of advice Lina's father gave her when she was feeling unsettled about going through with her arranged marriage to a family friend reflect the idea of obligation and loyalty which permeate this story about marriage, family, and love. When Lina and her husband return to China after having spent much of their marriage in the United States, she is bored with the sedate life of the wealthy wife and begins to have some regrets when her husband's younger brother comes back into their lives. The story had some potential but the execution was disappointing. Several of our book group members found the plot contrived and full of holes. Still, we found plenty to talk about and several may give this debut author another chance. Personally, I would have liked more exploration about the changes they found in China and what they missed about living in America.

Edited: Sep 14, 2019, 5:51pm Top

Book No. 72: A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron. Library, 319 pp. 3.8 stars.

“I guess I had never bothered to consider that there might such a thing as a boy, but now that I had found one, I thought it was just about the most wonderful concept in the world. He smelled of mud and sugar and an animal I'd never scented before, and a faint meaty odor clung to his fingers, so I licked them.”

One might think that an entire book told from the dog's point of view might be a little cheesy, and one would be right! But, who cares, when it's Bailey/Ellie/Buddy telling his remarkable story about the boy he loved and how he never forgot him even through the process of reincarnation. I wanted to read it before I watched the recent movie which is a sequel to this beginning of a doggy trilogy. There is also a third book out and another movie on the way. If there are this many dog lovers in the world, why are there so many heartbreaking stories about dogs that need a home and a family to love?

Sep 16, 2019, 8:31pm Top

Book No. 73: The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri. Library, 318 pp., 4 stars.

"There is a buzzing. Not a collective sound like thousands of bees in the apiaries, but a single buzz. On the ground by my feet there is a bee. When I look closely, I see that she has no wings. I put my hand out, and she crawls onto my finger, making her way onto my palm…I take her inside with me and sit in the armchair and watch her as she nestles into my hand, preparing to sleep."

Nuri is a beekeeper in Aleppo, Syria. When his hives are destroyed by the civil war, he knows it's time to leave home. His cousin has already left for England where he is starting another apiary and planning to help out other refugees by teaching them how to care for bees. Nuri is hampered by his wife's blindness after a bomb exploded in their yard, killing their young son. They are frightened and bereft yet must leave to find asylum in a new country.

The author is the daughter of immigrants from Cyprus and she worked in Athens at a refugee center so she knows her stuff. She tells about the people who try to help and also about the people who take advantage of others' troubles and create more strife. Even worse than the physical aspects of their journey from Syria to Turkey, Greece, and finally England, was the emotional trauma that plagued them. I know that this topic has been written about quite a bit lately, but we can't have too many reminders that people are leaving their homes in massive numbers for various reasons. They all deserve to find safety and peace as they try to find a new place in the world.

Sep 16, 2019, 9:08pm Top

Hi Donna, I've had The Beekeeper Of Aleppo on my Overdrive list for awhile. It may well be a theme that's been explored ad nauseam but you're absolutely right that we can't have too many reminders of the many people trying to find a place on this earth to live peacefully and raise their families. Great review.

Sep 19, 2019, 12:30pm Top

>103 Donna828: Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country sounds right up my alley. Since you and Ellen both enjoyed it, I'll try to get to it sooner rather than later. :) I double starred it on the neverending list.

Sep 26, 2019, 1:20pm Top

We are back from Colorado. Had a lovely time with Hope and family and even spent a day and night in the mountains. The aspen were beautiful as always. It was good to get a Rocky Mountain High!

I drove out by myself, spent two nights in KC with daughter and family, and listened to an audiobook. DH and I listened to another dog mystery on the way home. It was a long drive back to Missouri from Boulder. So good to be home and have our upstairs facelift almost over. I am so done with home fix-ups!

Edited: Sep 26, 2019, 2:05pm Top

Book No. 74: Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold. Audio by Kate Reading. Hoopla, 496 pp., 3.7 stars.

Freedom is a good thing. Ista, a widowed Royina of Chalion who has been released from her castle confinement because she was thought to be mentally compromised, wants to spread her wings a little so she invents a religious pilgrimage to celebrate her release. Her small group quickly runs into a raiding party and the leader of the small band of soldiers is inhabited by a demon. Ista is impressed with the courier Liss who she convinces to join the group. These two strong female characters carry the book as they encounter adventure and even some romance on their journey accompanied by the Five Gods and perhaps a few too many demons for my taste. All in all, it was a good book for a road trip. It spiced up my uneventful drive across Kansas.

Edited: Sep 26, 2019, 2:25pm Top

Book No. 75: A Better Man by Louise Penny. Library, 437 pp., 4 stars.

"It was a place of confidences. Of companionship. Where secrets were exchanged and yearnings admitted. Where children grew into adults, into seniors. Where homecomings were celebrated and lives celebrated by those left behind."

This description of The Bistro applies to Three Pines, Quebec, as well. Louise Penny has created a very special place just north of the U. S. border where her quirky characters live and love. Where they interact with each other and even solve some pretty major crimes. This sense of place is why I keep reading these mysteries and putting up with the trademark Penny sentence fragments.

I can't believe this is No. 15 in the series. This one has a missing woman, an epic flood, and the usual cast of characters, although Armand Gamache has been supplanted by his son-in-law Jean-Guy Beauvoir as the Chief Inspector of Homicide. He handles this demotion with his usual class and good humor as the two work together to solve a troubling case of a missing battered wife. I enjoyed this solid entry in the series and look forward to the next installment.

Edited: Sep 26, 2019, 2:36pm Top

Donna congrats on hitting the BIG 75!
Wonderful that your travels and family visits went so well.

Edited: Oct 20, 2019, 3:08pm Top

Book No. 71: One Dog Night by David Rosenfelt. Audio by Grover Gardner. Hoopla, 416 pp., 3.5 stars.

This is No. 9 in the Andy Carpenter mystery series. It was another entertaining accompaniment to a road trip. The mysteries in these books are a bit of a stretch but help pass the time while contemplating the endless plains of Kansas. This time, Andy is compelled to take on a client in a cold case of arson in which 26 people died. He would rather be running his dog rescue The Tara Foundation, but how can he turn down the supposed perpetrator when Noah is the man who gave Tara to him years ago? Andy and his girlfriend even give a temporary home to Bailey the Mastiff while the trial is going on. That is about it for the dog connection, but there is the usual dry wit and the criminal case that turns out to be more than it seems in the beginning. My DH is still a fan so we will be listening to more of these on future trips.

(Edited to fix numerical order.)

Sep 26, 2019, 2:47pm Top

>124 mdoris: Thanks for sneaking in there with the congratulations, Mary. I am always happy to make that number and strive to reach my real goal of 100. Who knows, I might even make it this year. We had a great time but it's always good to be home.

Sep 26, 2019, 2:53pm Top

>119 brenzi: Bonnie, I think you would like The Beekeeper of Aleppo which is a good addition to the plethora of immigration books. I thought it was very well done.

>120 streamsong: Double stars are good, Janet. Deep Creek is worth moving up the list. I know you will relate to the setting even though it's in a different state. Also, the hard work involved in operating a ranch. Like you say, "right up your alley".

Sep 26, 2019, 5:50pm Top

Congratulations on 75 Donna.

Sep 26, 2019, 6:36pm Top

Congrats on going past 75!

Sep 26, 2019, 7:04pm Top


Sep 26, 2019, 7:08pm Top

Congrats on 75, Donna. Our magic number! Your Colorado trip looked amazing. I am nearly halfway done with The Dutch House. I love me some Patchett and she seems to just keep getting better.

Sep 26, 2019, 9:57pm Top

You picked a good week to visit, Donna, even if the trees are a little late this year! We’ve had some lovely weather lately.

Congrats on reaching 75 books - onward to 100!!

Sep 27, 2019, 8:50am Top

Way to go, Donna, reading 75!

Sep 28, 2019, 3:16pm Top

>123 Donna828: Congratulations on reaching 75, Donna!

Sep 28, 2019, 5:33pm Top

Congrats on 75 Donna. The new Penny may be my book 75 too.

Oct 5, 2019, 11:33am Top

>128 Caroline_McElwee:, >129 thornton37814:, >130 drneutron: Thank you for the congratulations, Caroline, Lori, and Jim. It's a good feeling to reach that milestone every year!

>131 msf59: Thanks Mark. Magic indeed! I am currently reading The Dutch House so I am still in your book orbit. I agree that Patchett's books continue to deliver.

>132 Copperskye: We had a great time on our quick jaunt to the mountains, Joanne. I sure wish I could have figured out a way to sneak in a meet-up. It was so much easier when we were staying in Littleton instead of Brighton.

>133 jnwelch:, >134 FAMeulstee:, >135 RebaRelishesReading: Thanks for the good wishes, Joe, Anita, and Reba. It was good to be in Three Pines for my 75th book.

Edited: Oct 20, 2019, 2:18pm Top

Book No. 76: The Outlander by Gil Adamson. Audio by Sabryn Rock. Hoopla, 404 pp., 3.5 stars

Set in the Canadian Rockies, a young woman mostly referred to as "The Widow" is escaping from the wrath of her twin redheaded brothers-in-law after her husband is killed. It's really no secret that this 19-year-old was in an unhappy marriage and had recently lost her first baby. Out of her mind with grief, she flees into the wilderness and begins her journey into the unknown. This is a story of survival and perseverance. The Widow has lost her will to live but deep inside is the instinct to keep going. She meets a varied group of other outlanders along her quest to find her new life. The writing is lovely though sometimes meandering just like our young protagonist.

Edited: Oct 20, 2019, 2:19pm Top

Book No. 77: Chances Are by Richard Russo. Library, 302 pp., 4.2 stars.

"We let people keep their secrets but then convince ourselves we know them anyway. Take Jacy. We all were in love with her,, but what did we really know about her? I'd never met anybody like her before, so I had no frame of reference. And if you think about it, she was in the same boat. We must've been as mysterious to her as she was to us."

Three guys and a girl become fast friends during their time at a private eastern college in the early 1970's set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. Jacy is the rich girl and Lincoln, Mickey, and Teddy all end up in an exclusive private school with her, but Jacy Has never wanted for anything and they are from different backgrounds and on scholarships. In fact, they earn their spending money by serving meals at Jacy's sorority house. Russo does an amazing job with male characters. He examines their backgrounds and motives in detail. Female characters are another story. In this case it doesn't matter because Jacy is a mystery character, an enigma that charms her friends and then suddenly disappears.

Forty years after college graduation, the three male friends have a reunion on Martha's Vineyard. Of course, Jacy's disappearance comes up. Russo is a gifted storyteller. While this is not his best work, it is a page-turner. Teddy makes an offhand remark early in the book saying Memory Lane is vastly overrated. I disagree. I'll walk down that lane any day with Mr. Russo as my guide. He simply can't write a bad book.

Oct 6, 2019, 3:44pm Top

>138 Donna828: I love Russo so much. I have owned that book for a year but I know when I read it I won't have any new Russo to read so I keep saving it for sometime when I really "need" it. I know, it's crazy but then, so am I :)

Oct 6, 2019, 11:14pm Top

Belated congratulations for passing 75, Donna.

Oct 7, 2019, 11:37am Top

Yay for passing 75!

>127 Donna828: Although Montana and Colorado are different, I think the Rocky Mountain portions are fairly similar. I lived in Glenwood Springs, Colorado for a few years while growing up. I have many fond memories of swimming in the huge outdoor hot springs pool in winter, sledding and fishing. Now, my son's fiance's family live south of Denver. Colorado holds a special place in my heart.

I hate to admit it, but I have never read any Richard Russo. I mean to .. and then ... I'll have to give him a spin. I know he has many books on the 1001 list which I am sadly neglecting this year. Do you have a favorite that I should start?

Oct 9, 2019, 12:20pm Top

>139 RebaRelishesReading: Saving a book or two by a favorite author is not a bit crazy, Reba. I think it's brilliant. In fact, I have a few Ivan Doig books tucked away just for that reason. He is another dependable author for me.

>140 PaulCranswick: Don't feel like you're "belated", Paul. I'm still basking in the glow of meeting the goal.

>141 streamsong: I also have that special place in my heart for CO, Janet. I love the mountains and would love to visit Montana someday.

Ah, a possible convert to Russo. I have liked all his books, but Empire Falls was a standout for me. It won the Pulitzer Prize and features his usual cast of convincing characters amid the realism of a small town that has seen better days. This one is set in Maine while most of his other books take place in upper New York. I also highly recommend his "fool" books: Nobody's Fool and Everybody's Fool featuring Sully, a very memorable character.

Edited: Oct 20, 2019, 2:19pm Top

Book No. 78: The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. Library, 337 pp., 4.5 stars.

"The Dutch House was impossible…I could feel the entire house sitting on top of me like a shell I would have to drag around for the rest of my life."

Danny Conroy narrates his family history overshadowed by the ostentatious house in the Philadelphia suburbs that initiated the unraveling of his family. He was only three when his mother deserted the family shortly after her husband surprised her with the mansion that came fully furnished with the ornate belongings of the Dutch family who had lived and died there. Nothing was changed, not even the life-sized portraits of the VanHoebeeks, "people worn by time, their stern and unlovely faces rendered with Dutch exactitutde." (5) Thank goodness, the lovely portrait of Maeve which graced the opposite wall (and the book's cover) softened those unrelenting stares. Maeve was devastated when her mother left. She became very ill and was later diagnosed with a serious case of diabetes. However, she rallied enough to become a motherly figure to Danny who barely remembers his mother as he tells the story of his family. He does remember his father's aloofness and his marriage to the conniving Andrea. Danny was 15 when his father died suddenly and Andrea evicted him from "her" beloved house. Of course, Maeve takes him in and their bond is sealed.

Although the plot of the book is rather thin, the complex sibling relationship is done so well that I got caught up quickly in the psychological drama bordering on fairy tale. There's a bit of a Cinderella feel with the blatant evil stepmother and a touch of Hansel and Gretel with the sister and brother clutching each other in the 'dark woods' of abandonment and poverty. Everything was left to Andrea with the exception of the allotment for Danny's education. Here is where Maeve's vindictiveness raises its ugly head. Danny is coerced into taking the long expensive road to becoming a physician to spend as much of their father's money as possible. Danny is so grateful to Maeve for her care that he will do anything to please her. Only Patchett's skill as a writer could make me care so much about these unsympathetic characters. Some of the best scenes are of the two of them parked outside the Dutch House picking the bitter scabs of their mistreatment.

I loved The Magician's Assistant when I read it in 1998. Bel Canto was worthy of the Orange Prize in 2002 and Truth and Beauty is one of my favorite memoirs. Now I can add The Dutch House to my list of favorites.

Edited: Oct 20, 2019, 2:19pm Top

Book No. 79: The Code of the Hills by Nancy Allen. Library, 480 pp., 2.3 stars.

Don't bother with this one! I wouldn't have finished it if it wasn't for my book group. Actually, we had a decent discussion last night about some of the issues raised in the book. The main problem for me is that the author took all the hillbilly stereotypes she could think of and threw them all together. There are some explicit and troubling descriptions of incest, child porn, meth labs, militant pentecostals, barroom brawls, battered women…etc.

It could have been set anywhere but the author is local so she chose to set it in Winter's Bone country, not far from where I live. But, make no mistake, the writing is not up to Woodrell's standards. The only saving grace in my opinion were the fairly well-captured courtroom scenes. The author is a former Assistant Attorney General, county prosecutor, and is presently a law professor at Missouri State. In her defense, this is her first book. However, I was so turned off that it will be my last book by her.

Oct 9, 2019, 9:13pm Top

>143 Donna828: Great review of The Dutch House Donna. I had a couple of issues with the book the revenge factor being one but I still liked the book a lot.

Oct 10, 2019, 11:39am Top

>143 Donna828: Just thumbed your wonderful review of The Dutch House. While I've read 6 of hers I have just added the ones you recommended to my holds at the library. With thanks!

Oct 10, 2019, 12:21pm Top

>142 Donna828: Thank you for the Russo titles, Donna. I've added them to my list and will try Empire Falls sooner rather than later.

Oct 10, 2019, 12:29pm Top

Belated congrats on hitting the magic 75!! You've really been reading some great books here. I love Patchett and Russo.

Oct 10, 2019, 4:56pm Top

Hi, Donna. Good review of Chances Are. Thumb! I am also a big fan of Russo and have this one on shelf. Did you read Elsewhere? I want to get to this one.

Good review of The Dutch House. Thumb. Did you read Commonwealth? If not, it is an amazing read.

BTW- I am nearly done with Deep Creek and it has been excellent.

Oct 11, 2019, 11:47am Top

Congrats on reaching 75, Donna, and with a Penny, too!

I am looking forward to The Dutch House.

Edited: Oct 13, 2019, 2:26pm Top

>148 Berly: Hello Stranger! I'm also way behind on "threading". I'll have to see what you've been up to. I have no excuses. Haha. Thanks for the congrats, Kim.

>149 msf59: Hi Mark. Yes on Elsewhere, no on Commonwealth. I'll have to pick up a copy at the library but I'll wait until I need another Patchett fix. I like to space them out as special rewards. So glad you are liking Deep Creek. It needs more warbling!

>150 BLBera: Thank you! You won't be disappointed in The Dutch House, Beth. It starts out slowly but it's hard not to get invested in those characters and the influence of the house on their lives.

Oct 13, 2019, 2:29pm Top

>145 brenzi: I read about your other issue with the book on your thread, Bonnie. Some people never learn! It seems our issues were with the characters. Ann Patchett doesn't write about perfect people which is one of the reasons I generally like her books.

>146 mdoris: Those, including The Dutch House, just happen to be my favorites, Mary. Since you've read six by Patchett, I think you know what a good author she is. Thanks for the thumb! I don't post many reviews anymore but want more people to read this book.

>147 streamsong: I hope you like your first Russo, Janet. Some of the others I didn't mention would probably be others' favorites. If you have an interest in academia, then Straight Man is another one to add to the list.

Edited: Oct 13, 2019, 3:08pm Top

^^^Sorry I got my posts reversed. Too many windows open at once.^^^

Edited: Oct 20, 2019, 2:20pm Top

Book No. 80: America Day By Day by Simone de Beauvoir. Library Special Order, 390 pp., 4 stars.

"The house is open day and night, and when we leave, no one thinks of locking up. I'm not even sure there are locks. I love this trusting unconcern. Delivery people come in quite calmly and deposit the milk, bread, eggs, and bills on the kitchen table. In general, the idea of theft is not an obsession in America. Objects are not sacred; they can always be replaced."

Things have changed a lot in the 72 years since this book was written. Now we have many gated communities and cameras everywhere. Even this old-fashioned woman has a Nest Doorbell so I can see who is out there! There were so many brilliant descriptions of the places de Beauvoir visited in the spring of 1947 that I didn't want to choose amongst them. She spent four months staying in hotels as she traveled between New York City and California by train, private automobile, and Greyhound bus. She mostly stayed in posh hotels but sought out the dark places in the many stops she made as she made her lecture tour across the USA. She had a sharp eye and unfailing energy as she explored and gives an unbiased report on what she sees.

One of the constants of her travel was seeking out museums where she learned interesting things and found comfort in the art from around the world. She didn't think much of the commercial enterprises of Niagara Falls or Williamsburg yet she felt right at home in New York City. She wrote about American literature and music, mostly jazz, which she fell in love with in New Orleans. She was a fan of American hospitality while, on the other hand, was aghast at how we treated our minority populations. I enjoyed reading about my country through the eyes of a sophisticated French woman. I wonder what she would think if she were still alive and made the same round-trip journey today?

Oct 13, 2019, 3:53pm Top

I don't know what made you read this one Donna but you've certainly piqued my interest. I read about Simone de Beauvoir last year in 1947: Where Now Begins which was one of my top reads last year. You might like it.

Oct 14, 2019, 8:42pm Top

Hi Bonnie. Caroline McElwee reviewed a biography of Simone de Beauvoir and I knew I had to read something by her. This travel memoir reminded me of Travels With Charley without the dog.

Yes, I remember the book about 1947 and added it to the maybe list. That was a very good year!

Oct 14, 2019, 8:56pm Top

>156 Donna828: Without the dog? But the dog was the best part hahaha.

Oct 14, 2019, 11:54pm Top

>157 brenzi: Agree. Especially because the dog was a standard poodle. Travels with Charlie is one of my favourite books.

Oct 15, 2019, 10:02am Top

Hi Donna, I'm joining you in love for The Dutch House and Patchett in general. When I saw her on her book tour she made a passing joke about one of her earlier novels, Taft, and said she was sure no one had read it. When I had a moment to talk to her in the book signing line I assured her that I had and had loved it! She laughed and said there hadn't been many fans, if sales were an indication! Now I'll have to go back and reread because I have no memory of it, other than it convincing me that I should read everything she had written.

Oct 16, 2019, 11:35am Top

>157 brenzi: and >158 mdoris: I'm in agreement with you ladies! Steinbeck's dog made his travels even better.

>158 mdoris: Thanks for that tidbit about Ann Patchett, Vivian. I need to put Taft on my list of copies to look for when I go to the library book sale later this week. Isn't it great when you meet an author and find out she (or he in my case) is someone you'd like to hang out with in real life? I think that's why I always try to find some redeeming quality in the books I don't care for. Someone has put his or her heart into their writing, and I don't want to be the one to burst their bubble!

Edited: Oct 20, 2019, 2:20pm Top

Book No. 81: The Fish Can Sing by Halldor Laxness. My copy, 246 pp., 4.2 stars.

"And it isn't enough that Icelandic fish should have Danish ribbons and bows; it has to have the ribbon of international fame. In a word, we have to prove to the rest of the world that 'the fish can sing just like a bird.' And that is why we who sell the fish have made great efforts to improve the cultural life of the nation to show and prove, both internally and externally, that we are the people who not only haul the grey cod out of the depths of the sea, but also tie a ribbon and bow round its neck for the delectation of the world."

This Nobel author has done just that. He has shown the world the worth of his home country of Iceland through the stories of its people. This tale is about Alfgrimur, an orphan raised with love and generosity by his adoptive grandparents. Brekkukot is a safe haven for travelers or those in need. The quirky characters that come to stay or visit always find acceptance and provide an outlet for the quiet wit that permeates the book.

Alfgrimur had a carefree life as he meandered the small atmospheric fishing village near Reykjavik in the shadow of the North Pole. His favorite diversions were singing for funerals at the local churchyard and getting up before dawn to fish with his grandfather. His claim to fame was meeting Iceland's famous opera singer and receiving a gold coin from him. There is a mysterious bond between these two that is explored throughout the book.

This is a book about changes. Young boys grow up and discover the real worth in life and countries like Iceland emerge from colonial rule and show the rest of the world what they have to offer. I read and enjoyed my second Laxness book, but it begs me to return for a deep reading to uncover the complex ideas about how to live well and discover the "one true note" that makes the journey worthwhile.

Oct 16, 2019, 6:20pm Top

Hi, Donna. I loved Independent People, so you definitely got my attention with The Fish Can Sing. I am not at all surprised that he has wrote more quality novels.

i am enjoying The Testaments but I do not think it is in the same league as The Handmaid's Tale, IMHO, of course.

Oct 17, 2019, 9:55am Top

>161 Donna828: I read Carrie's copy of that awhile back and enjoyed it very much.

Oct 19, 2019, 11:29pm Top

Congrats for reaching 75 and way beyond, Donna. >137 Donna828: I found The Outlander to be a surprisingly gripping and realistic story when I read it for some challenge or other.

Oct 20, 2019, 1:08pm Top

>162 msf59: Mark, I was a big fan of Independent People, too. It was a more sprawling look at rural Iceland while my second Laxness book has a more compact coming-of-age story. I will continue with his books. I own most of them because I am so in love with the covers. I'm glad the "insides" are just as good!

I am next in line for The Testaments but I froze my library hold as I'm just not in the mood right now. It sure is getting mixed reviews. It's Atwood, though, so I will read it soon.

>163 thornton37814: Hi Lori. Glad you enjoyed The Fish Can Sing.

>164 Familyhistorian: Thanks for the Congratulations, Meg. I agree that The Outlander was indeed gripping. I have been interested in it for quite awhile. It would have been a good one to save for a few months and read it in front of a roaring fire.

Edited: Oct 20, 2019, 2:20pm Top

Book No. 82: The Ungrateful Refugee by Dina Nayeri; narrated by the author. Hoopla, 368 pp., 4.1 stars.

I wish I had read the print version so I could share some of the interesting quotes about the author's experience as a refugee. At the age of 8, Dina left her privileged but precarious life in Iran and lived with her family in several detainment camps before coming to the U.S. and settling in a cramped apartment in Oklahoma. My guess is that the "ungrateful" part of her title has to do with the change in her status. She tells how people didn't seem to care about her background. They just imagined the worst and told her how lucky she was to be in America, although her standard living went from wealth to poverty.

There is much to be said about freedom and opportunity, however. She was tireless in learning the language and improving her lot. She even took up the sport of Tae kwon do because she needed something she could excel in to make her college essays stand out in a crowd of overachievers. It worked and she was admitted to Princeton and is well on to achieving the American Dream.

Not only does she share details of her own experience, she tells the stories of others who are seeking asylum. These glimpses of the pain and confusion of people who are trying to escape injustice in their own countries to get to a safe place where they can rebuild their lives gives a face to the pictures of hordes of people in detention centers that frequent the daily news. Everyone has a story and Dina Naveri gives us some insight into what it might be like to be a refugee.

Edited: Oct 20, 2019, 2:21pm Top

Book No. 83: Journey to Munich by Jacqueline Winspear. Library, 287 pp., 3.9 stars.

"I am scared. Every day in this place, I know fear--but not just for my own safety. I'm scared for all our futures every time I see Herr Hitler pass in his motor car, or hear the messages he broadcasts to the people on the radio. I know fear for everyone when I see his brown-shirted henchmen on the streets…"

Number 12 was another good installment in the Maisie Dobbs series. Maisie is still recovering from a deep grief in her life when she is asked by Britain's Secret Service to pose as the daughter of a man who is wrongly being held in Dachau outside of Munich. As usual there are many ups and downs and twists and turns. It's best just to suspend belief for a few hours and go with Maisie's adventure. This book has a lot more action than the usual psychological cases Maisie takes on. She is in Hitler country under an assumed name with dangerous situations around every corner. She needs every bit of her training to stay calm no matter how difficult her predicament becomes. I enjoy the series as a whole and look upon them as decent historical fiction featuring a strong woman who copes with whatever life throws down in her path.

Oct 20, 2019, 4:12pm Top

I've been doing some thread housekeeping this afternoon. I had skipped a number and had to go back and fix that little problem. While I was doing that, I checked off enough on my Bingo Board (Post #4) to do a coverall. BINGO! I was dreading the "mentioned in another book" category until I remembered reading A Lowcountry Heart. Pat Conroy mentioned many book titles in his 'Ode to Reading' and, sure enough, there was David Copperfield on Pg. 125. Eureka! I get great joy out of my little victories. Haha. I hope the Category Challenge does another Bingo game in 2020.

Oct 23, 2019, 9:13am Top

Hi Donna!

>161 Donna828: I, too, loved Independent People and am intrigued with more by Laxness. Perhaps next year.

Congrats on BINGO!

Oct 26, 2019, 3:32pm Top

>169 karenmarie: Thanks for the Bingo congrats, Karen. It's funny that something so simple can make me so happy. I definitely have more Laxness in my future, too.

Edited: Oct 26, 2019, 5:44pm Top

Book No. 84: This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger. Library, 450 pp., 4 stars.

“If we were perfect, the light he shines on us would just bounce right off. But the wrinkles, they catch the light. And the cracks, that’s how the light gets inside us. When I pray, Odie, I never pray for perfection. I pray for forgiveness, because it’s the one prayer I know will always be answered.”

Odie (short for Odysseus) and his brother Albert were put in an Indian boarding school when their parents died. Everything bad you may have heard about these "schools" happened in this book. Innocent children are treated like convicts and are constantly abused both mentally and physically. The Brinkmans who run this travesty of a school are cold-hearted characters who are reminiscent of deplorables from a Dickens novel. There are some other similarities to literature as well. Considering the narrator's name, there is no surprise to find shades of The Odyssey here. In the author's note, Krueger admits to writing a modern-day Huckleberry Finn story. All well and good.

The story about a quest for freedom and family is intriguing and well-told. The four Vagabonds met lots of interesting characters along the way. Their companion Mose integrated the Native American element and 6-year-old Emmie added her own touch of lightness and innocence to the escape. I love a good adventure story, but I also don't like to be emotionally manipulated. Ultimately, I thought the villains and faith healers were over-the-top. I think Krueger is a wonderful storyteller but this one got away from him. I still recommend it, though, as an engaging read about the social injustices and hard times of the Depression era.

Oct 26, 2019, 5:44pm Top

Book No. 85: Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger. Mine, 330 pp., 3.5 stars.

"He told himself he had imagined the voice in the wind. The Windigo was a myth. But there was a part of him that knew different. Sam Winter Moon has cautioned him long ago that it was best to believe in all possibilities, that there were more mysteries in the world than a man could ever hope to understand.”

I enjoyed this first book in the Cork O'Connor mystery series set in northern Minnesota. Cork is part Irish and a small part Ojibwe which assures the reader there will be plenty of Native American influences. Cork is separated from his family and lives in the back of a burger shack. He is also the recently "retired" Sheriff in Aurora and still seems to think that is his main job. He gets overly involved in the case of a dead judge and a missing newspaper boy.

I actually don't mind this because it is a mystery/suspense series and, if he wants to made his own assessment about the judge's supposed suicide and do his own investigation, that's fine with me. This book isn't as literary as Krueger's two stand-alone books, but it looks to be a good series and one which I will continue to read.

Edited: Oct 26, 2019, 6:19pm Top

Happy Saturday, Donna. I know I have said this countless times, but I love your book choices. Good review of The Ungrateful Refugee. I have added it to the list. I have had This Tender Land on my WL all ready. You didn't completely nudge me over, but I would like to read more Krueger.

I am about 2/3rds into Ghost Wall. I know this has received mixed reviews but I am finding it quite intriguing. A sort of British Isles, The Mosquito Coast.

Oct 27, 2019, 10:05am Top

>166 Donna828: This one sounds good, Donna.

I do like Krueger's mystery series. I think they get better after Iron Lake.

Nov 2, 2019, 12:20pm Top

>173 msf59: Happy Saturday, Mark. I still think of Ghost Wall with creepy admiration. Hmmm, your comment makes me think I need to take a look at Mosquito Coast. I have some of Theroux's books but apparently not that one. Have a wonderful weekend. I hope your snow has melted. We didn't get the predicted flurries here, but had a cold Halloween. It's good to see the sun again.

>174 BLBera: The Ungrateful Refugee was a good one, Beth. I had a little trouble following the back and forth timeline on audio so I would recommend the print version. I enjoyed my first one in the Cork O'Connor series enough to continue. I think series books as a whole get better as one gets to know the characters and their backstories. Love the setting in northern Minnesota. Very atmospheric. Thanks for stopping by.

Nov 2, 2019, 12:36pm Top

Book No. 86: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. My copy, reread, 286 pp., 4.5 stars (again!).

"…deep down there is a thing inside me, and sometimes it swells up like the head of a squid and shoots blackness through me. I haven't wanted to be this way…"

Poor Olive. She is not the sort of person that people gravitate towards, mostly because of her lack of a filter in her conversations. More to the point, she is blunt and speaks the unvarnished truth as she sees it. I kind of like that, but can see why some people avoid her. But that is just one side of Olive. She also has an innate sensitivity to others who are hurting and isn't afraid to get involved in their pain. I first read this collection of stories about the people in Crosby, Maine, in 2007 and fell in love with Olive then. I'm glad to report that it was as good the second time around. The book ended on a hopeful note so I was elated when the sequel came out.

Nov 2, 2019, 1:42pm Top

Book No. 87: Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout. Library, 289 pp., 3.9 stars.

"Cindy turned to look. The sunight was magnificent, it shone a glorious yellow from the pale blue sky, and through the bare branches of the trees, with the open-throated look that came toward the day's light…'My God, but I have always loved the light in February." Olive shook her head slowly, 'My God,' she repeated, with awe in her voice. 'Just look at that February light'."

Again, Strout tells more of Olive's story through the short story form. The quote above was taken from "Light", one of my favorites, in which Olive visits one of her old students who is dying from cancer. Everyone else stays away because they don't know what to say, but Olive repeatedly visits with Cindy, talking about the thing that no one wants to broach. Who but Olive would bring up the topic of death? I loved the quiet way this story ended with Olive's touching remarks about something as simple as the beauty of a late-winter sky. This book does give more of the softer, gentler side of Olive as she marries again and marches into old age with both trepidation and acceptance. However, don't worry, there are plenty of Olive's zingers to make you smile as she interacts with her son and his family and the people of Crosby, Maine.

While I enjoyed reading this sequel, I was repulsed by a few sensationalized episodes that didn't add much if anything to Olive's story.One example:That was just bizarre about the stripteases that the young cleaning girl did for her elderly client while she was working. Also, I didn't care much for the sharing of Olive's politics. It was a no-brainer to me that she would not be a Trump fan. These things seemed superfluous. I guess I just wanted more Olive! I did like how Ms. Strout included so many characters from earlier books, including The Burgess Boys and Amy and Isabelle, even though these are my least favorite of her oeuvre. I have slight hopes that Olive's story might continue. Even though Olive is in her 80s at the end of the book, she has taken to writing (actually typewriting) some of the stories of her life. I would love to read that collection!

Nov 2, 2019, 7:29pm Top

Donna very good review of Olive Again. You expressed so clearly my feelings too.

Nov 3, 2019, 8:57am Top

I am an Olive fan, Donna, so I will be reading the new one at some point.

Nov 3, 2019, 1:54pm Top

>178 mdoris: Thanks, Mary. Olive is one of my favorite fictional characters. Perhaps because I can relate to her brand of truth-telling? I think my social skills may be a step or two ahead of hers, though. Lol.

>179 BLBera: Yay for another Olive fan. You will undoubtedly enjoy the sequel, Beth.

Nov 3, 2019, 2:07pm Top

Picture Time!

Molly (6) is a Unicorn and Haley (9) is a Panda.

Today is the Annual Bass Pro Marathon. They rerouted the course and it goes directly in front of our house now. Here are a few of the over 3,000 runners.

Picture taken from our driveway.

Nov 3, 2019, 2:15pm Top

A few more pictures...
Haley and her dad (our son Ben) ran in the 5K this morning.

Haley on right with her friend Olivia.

Haley and Ben wearing the “Gold”!
Fun times.

Nov 3, 2019, 3:10pm Top

Great pictures Donna! And lucky you getting to watch the marathon from your window. Unicorns are so popular aren't they? We went from unicorn to mermaid for awhile.

And yay for Olive even if it was a bit of a letdown.

Nov 3, 2019, 5:45pm Top

Hi, Donna. Love the photos! It's been fun watching Haley and Molly grow up on your thread. :-)

Nov 3, 2019, 9:52pm Top

Great photos, Donna!

Nov 4, 2019, 12:24am Top

Lovely photos, Donna! Molly and Haley are 6 and 9! Time does fly. It looks like you had great weather for a race.

I’m currently reading Olive, Again. I went back and forth about rereading Olive first but finally opted against it. I do want to read it again at some point but really wanted to just get on with the new one! I think I was afraid I’d never get to it since I have so many books calling to me. I’m curious about your spoiler comment. I’ll peek at it when I finish.

>171 Donna828: Krueger visited our little Aspen Grove Tattered Cover several weeks ago, reading from and signing This Tender Land. He was very personable and entertaining. I’ve only read Ordinary Grace, which I loved, but now I have This Tender Land to get to. Not to mention Iron Lake which has edged closer to the top of my tbr mountain.

Edited: Nov 7, 2019, 2:40pm Top

>183 brenzi: Bonnie, I have one granddaughter who loves unicorns to the moon and back and one (Miss Haley) who is anti-unicorn. Pandas are her current thing. I am not buying their Christmas gifts ahead of time because who knows what they will like by then. Just a tiny letdown on Olive. She is still one of my favorite book characters. Not so sure we would be friends in real life.

>184 jnwelch: Thanks, Joe. It seems like just yesterday that they were Rafa's age. I heard somewhere that the "cuteness" ends around age 4. I don't know who determined that. I think it has more to do with the parents' level of patience that wears out after 4 years.

>185 ronincats: Thank you, Roni.

>186 Copperskye: Joanne, it was in the 30s at the beginning of the marathon but, with no wind, it wasn't bad. Dave and I did our usual two-mile walk before the first runner (a woman!) came by. You are so lucky to get to meet so many authors in Denver. I would like to meet Mr. Krueger. I will keep on with the Cork O'Connor series.

Nov 7, 2019, 2:38pm Top

Book No. 88: The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith. My book, 456 pp., 3.7 stars.

"The dead could only speak through the mouths of those left behind, and through the signs they left scattered behind them. Strike had felt the living woman behind the words she had written to friends, he had heard her voice on a telephone held to his ear; but now, looking down on the last thing she had ever seen in her life, he felt strangely close to her. The truth was coming slowly into focus out of the mass of disconnected detail. What he lacked was proof."

I've dawdled for years about reading this book because I didn't like my first outing with the author of the Harry Potter series. This one is clearly meant for adults and appealed to me once I got past the whole supermodel/media frenzy at the beginning and got into the investigation about the apparent suicide on the open-and-shut police case.

Cormoran Strike is more than a big hairy ex-military hero who was dumped by his longtime girlfriend and is now essentially homeless and broke. He sleeps in his office and has one client who wants a more thorough investigations of his sister's death. He also employs a temporary secretary who makes the book shine with her competence and kindness. Between the two of them, they are extremely detail-oriented. I loved this but I could see where a true detective aficionado might want more action. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes up next for the unlikely pairing of Batman Cormoran and his sidekick Robin in future books.

Nov 7, 2019, 5:22pm Top

Sweet Thursday, Donna. Great review of Olive, Again. We have very similar feelings about it. I was glad to see so much attention given to Olive, who is such a wonderful creation. "Light" was one of my favorite stories too. Glad you also enjoyed The Cuckoo's Calling. I am 3 books in.

Nov 7, 2019, 8:31pm Top

Congrats on passing 75, Donna (I'm a little behind on threads...).

I love the new photos of Molly and Haley - good for her, doing a 5K!

Nov 9, 2019, 3:56pm Top

Your girls are growing up so fast, Donna! Thanks for sharing the photos.

Nov 11, 2019, 12:45am Top

Great photos of the unicorn and panda, Donna. Looks like they had fun. I hope that you didn't have to go out while the marathon was on!

Nov 13, 2019, 1:00pm Top

>189 msf59: Hi Mark, I hope you're having a Wonderful Wednesday! I have Molly here for the second day this week. School was canceled yesterday due to icy streets so she got to stay home and be miserable. I think it's "just" a cold. I just hope I don't get it. *crossing fingers*

I still have three Cormoran Strike books to look forward to. I'm going to try to space them out, but it's tempting to just jump into the second book because it's sitting on the top of my TBR stack.

>190 bell7: It's good to see you here, Mary. I am woefully behind on threads, but I'll pay you a return visit today if my sick granddaughter isn't too demanding. She's in her little nest on the sofa watching kid's shows on TV right now.

>191 BLBera: These kiddos just grow up too fast, don't they, Beth? I have Molly again today. Her mother is a stay-at-home-Mom; however, she is in charge of the Scholastic Book Sale at school all week. School was closed yesterday so she may not make her goal. Grandma D may have to buy lots of books this year! No problem…

>192 Familyhistorian: I did have to sneak out of my driveway between groups, Meg, to take a friend to the airport. Most of the runners were through our area by the time I got home but I saw them in a different part of town. I read in the paper that there were over 3,000 taking part in the various events. Exciting stuff and my little Panda wants to do it again next year.

Edited: Nov 13, 2019, 1:24pm Top

Book No. 89: Mama's Last Hug by Frans de Waal. Library, Book Group, 336 pp., 3.3 stars.

“Emotions evolved, in short, for their capacity to induce adaptive reactions to danger, competition, mating opportunities, and so on. Emotions are action-prone. Our species shares many emotions with the other primates because we rely on approximately the same behavioral repertoire.”

The author uses the description of the widely-viewed video of a dying 59-year-old chimpanzee greeting the scientist who worked closely with her troop over the years to grab the reader's attention. Granted, this was a heart-rending look into the bond between animals and humans, but it came as no surprise to me that animals are capable of expressing emotion. The author is a Nobel Prize winning primatologist who is passionate about the beings he works with. He gives many more firsthand accounts of how they share many of the qualities of prescient beings and provides the reader with the research behind his findings.

I read this with my Book Group. Our members had mixed reactions from boredom (too scientific), neutrality, to appreciation. I don't think any of us were wowed by the book but, as usual, it resulted in a good discussion.

Nov 14, 2019, 3:22pm Top

>194 Donna828: I haven't read Mama's Last Hug yet, but I did read and appriciate some other books by Frans de Waal.
His books and research are important, as many still shout "anthropomorphic" when there is talk about emotions in animals.

Nov 15, 2019, 7:53am Top

Hi Donna!

>172 Donna828: I’ve read the first two of the Cork O’Connor series and need to get back to it.

>176 Donna828: I almost decided to re-read Olive Kitteridge again before starting Olive, Again, but just watched the DVD of it, loved it, and will start the fifth chapter = short story today. I’ll come back to your review after I’ve finished it.

>188 Donna828: I love the Cormoran Strike series, have read all 4 books, listened to the first 3 audiobooks and am listening to the audiobooks again – I’m on The Silkworm. I wasn’t able to find the audiobook of Lethal White, the 4th book, at any of the FoL sales recently so splurged recently and actually bought it new. I only listen to audiobooks in the car and don’t commute anymore, so it’s going to take a while. I hope you continue the series.

>194 Donna828: I’ll pass on this one, but appreciate that you got a good book club discussion out of it.

Nov 15, 2019, 10:15am Top

>194 Donna828: Adding to my list. I usually like de Waal, though had missed this one. I particularly like Peacemaking Among Primates, and there is a lovely photo album as well.

Nov 16, 2019, 8:27pm Top

>195 FAMeulstee: I'm not surprised that you've read de Waal's books, Anita. He's from your part of the world, right? I think he lives in the U.S. now, though. He addresses the anthropomorphism issue very well in the book I read.

>196 karenmarie: Hi to you, Karen. Wasn't the HBO adaptation of Olive Kitteridge great? Frances McDormand was perfectly cast in it. I will continue with Cormoran Strike. I was a little surprised by how much I liked it.

>197 Caroline_McElwee: Caroline, I had never heard of these books. Primates are fascinating animals and de Waal's devotion to them comes through in his writing. Thank you for the suggestion.

Edited: Nov 16, 2019, 10:13pm Top

Book No. 90: The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead. Library, 213 pp., 4.5 stars.

“To think of those Nickel nights where the only sounds were tears and insects, how you could sleep in a room crammed with sixty boys and still understand that you were the only person on earth. Everybody and nobody around at the same time. Here everybody was around and by some miracle you didn't want to wring their necks but give them a hug.”

This tragic story about a young black Florida boy who does all the right things until life trips him up with bad luck is all the more appalling because it is based on truth. Elwood Curtis tries to live up to the Martin Luther King, Jr. speeches that shaped his view on what is important in life. He gets good grades, is respectful to his grandmother, and has a bright future ahead of him until he is wrenched out of his dream world and sent to reform school.

The Nickel Academy is touted as a place to educate wayward boys and help them back on the right path. Instead it is filled with corruption and fear. At Nickel, justice was a coin toss and an earnest young man like Elwood who stood up for those treated unfairly found out the hard way just how unfair life could be. Part Two was a litany of repression and abuse that was only slightly softened by the deep friendships that were formed.

I just read that The Nickel Boys was chosen by Time as one of the top ten books of the past decade. It was a good choice. I know I will be thinking about it for a good while. And to think I almost passed it over because I wasn't a huge fan of Whitehead's last book. I think he is a wonderful writer but I have a personal loathing for alternate history. This more accurate account of more recent historical fiction made much more of an impact on me.

Nov 16, 2019, 9:38pm Top

Book No. 91: The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old by Hendrik Groen. Library, 378 pp., 3.7 stars.

"Around the age of forty you're strong, healthy, and powerful. In the prime of life. Sadly, you usually don't come to the realization until the descent has already begun, as, slowly and noiselessly, your horizons shrink and life becomes emptier. Until your daily goals and ambitions are whittled down to a cup of tea and a cookie--the old folks' version of the baby's rattle."

This book grabbed me from the first sentence: "Another year, and I still don't like old people." Hendrik decided to keep a record of his life in a care center in North Amsterdam as a way to keep his sanity while living in an institution. He does an excellent job describing the residents (or 'inmates' as he sometimes calls them) and the indignities of getting older. The book is a mixed bag of descriptions of daily events and the complaints that he has to endure.

Luckily, he has a core group of friends and they decide to enrich their lives by forming the Old But Not Dead Club and providing their own brand of enriching activities. Now these older people know how to stay young as they try new things and have fun together. It's not all fun and games, however, as several of their members grapple with poor health and Hendrik ponders the idea of euthanasia which is legal in The Netherlands. I really enjoyed Hendrik's daily thoughts even though many of the references to Dutch politics and pop culture were lost on me. I will follow up on Hendrik and his friends in his sequel, On the Bright Side. I can only hope I am as well spoken and kind as Hendrik is when I get into the next decade.

Nov 17, 2019, 6:26am Top

>200 Donna828: Ouch, fell into my basket Donna.

Nov 17, 2019, 11:38am Top

>199 Donna828: I agree completely about The Nickel Boys -- great book.

Edited: Nov 17, 2019, 1:40pm Top

Happy Sunday, Donna. good review of The Nickel Boys. Glad you gave it a chance. I also loved the book and it hits hard.

I think you may have been the one, who put The River Why on my radar, a few years back. I have had it on shelf forever and finally pulled it down and dug in. Funny, I was expecting a serious reflective book, like A River Runs Through it. Boy, was I surprised. Grins...I was not prepared for a smart, comic, rapid-fire narrative. What a huge talent this guy is. I wonder why he hasn't released a new book in 20-plus years?

Nov 18, 2019, 1:50pm Top

As you know, we've been taking care of 19 month old Rafa to give his parents a bit of a break. Woo, I sure had forgotten how much energy they have at that age. He is non-stop unless he's eating or sleeping. And fun and hilarious, whenever the sky isn't falling because one of us said "No." :-) Luckily, he's easily diverted from that overwhelming despair - Madame MBH is particularly good at directing his attention to something that brings back his smile, and leaves his unhappiness in the land of the forgotten.

Nov 18, 2019, 10:38pm Top

Hi Donna. A belated congratulations on making your way past number 75!

I think I liked The Dutch House a wee bit less than you but I wholly agree with much of what you said. I think the scenes of the siblings sitting outside the house, reminiscing and watching, are among the most memorable I've read recently.

I'm wanting to give William Kent Krueger a try; I have his book Ordinary Grace on my bedside table. Thank you for the comments about Iron Lake and This Tender Land (I love that latter title).

I agree that The Nickel Boys is an important and excellent read!

As you know, I'm working my way through the Maisie Dobbs series. I love the progress through post-WWI England.

Nov 19, 2019, 8:18am Top

>198 Donna828: Yes, Frans de Waal lives in the U.S., he even writes his books in English now.

>200 Donna828: Glad to see you enjoyed Hendrik Groen. I just finished his second book earlier this month.
If you have any questions about Dutch politics, just ask ;-)

Edited: Nov 20, 2019, 8:44am Top

>143 Donna828: >205 EBT1002: The Dutch House just arrived yesterday at the library. I haven't had time to catalog it yet because of interruptions. Hopefully I'll get it done today.

Nov 20, 2019, 3:58pm Top

>207 thornton37814: Greetings, Donna! I'm so sorry I've been absent from so many good threads this year, including yours.
Looks like your chances of reading 100 books this year are very good. Your reading the best of the newest books while at the same time filling in your reading with books you've been wanting to read or series which you enjoy. Very impressive use of time. I wish I could find a good balance - sigh -
>200 Donna828: sounds a lot like A Man Called Ove. Have you read it? Did you see any similarities?
Wow, your pics are great. Reminds me how quickly time is passing.

Nov 22, 2019, 2:58pm Top

>201 Caroline_McElwee: It’s an enjoyable read, Caroline.

>202 RebaRelishesReading: Great minds and all that, Reba.

>203 msf59: Mark, I’m so glad you are liking The River Why. I wish Duncan would write another novel. I’m certain you will also like The Brothers K by him. I plan to do rereads of both books in the next few years.

>204 jnwelch: Aren’t grandkids the greatest, Joe? They can be exhausting but so worth it.

Edited: Nov 22, 2019, 3:14pm Top

>205 EBT1002: Thank you, Ellen. You are in for a real treat with the William Kent Krueger books. I have another Maisie Dobbs Book home from the library. It will be a good one to read during the countdown to Thanksgiving as it won’t require much concentration. We are having14 at our house for this year’s celebration.

>206 FAMeulstee: Anita, it’s good to know I have a go-to person in The Netherlands. I’m just glad I don’t have to explain US politics to anyone. Haha. I plan to read Groen’s second book early next year. I love his outlook on life and aging.

>207 thornton37814: Hi Lori. Why not catalog the book, then be the first to read it? Or maybe not. You wouldn’t want to rake advantage of your position.

>208 Carmenere: No worries, Lynda. I haven’t done well at keeping up in our group, either. I can always do better at reading my own books. Yes, Hendrik Groen does remind me of Ove. Give him a chance. You won’t be sorry.

Nov 22, 2019, 4:24pm Top

Book No. 92: The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman. Library, 293 pp., 3.3 stars.

“Hannah enjoyed watching as he read; she barely cared what it was she'd given him. Or maybe that wasn't true. She did care. But the way he held a book in his hands, and the frown of concentration on his brow, kindled love in her heart. She wanteed to stroke him as he read. The altering expressions on his face were like cloud shadows passing over a landscape.”

Despite the lovely cover and promising title, this book fell short of wonderful for me. It was an intriguing story about two broken people in 1960's Australia who found a second chance of love with each other. Tom Hope was abandoned by his first wife. She left her young son Peter behind, too, and the pair bonded. No surprise that she later wanted the child, leaving Tom without hope. (Sorry, I couldn't resist that) Hannah is an immigrant from Hungary and an Auschwitz survivor. Can't get more broken-hearted than that. Like I said, the story has all the elements I look for in a book; however, the characters fell flat for me. I think with more of Tom's backstory and more character development, it would have been a better reading experience.

Nov 22, 2019, 6:05pm Top

Hi, Donna. Glad to see you posting around today. Always a good thing. I did enjoy The River Why and I am glad I finally gave it a shot. It is definitely not a book for everyone, but for those, that can connect to it, will find rewards aplenty.

Nov 22, 2019, 8:52pm Top

>210 Donna828: Donna, this week has been absolutely crazy at work because we've had people out sick, people out for doctor's appointments, people out for wedding dress fittings, a combination farewell/bridal shower, etc. There have been lots of times where I was the only librarian in the building--and it's "paper time." I did manage to get it cataloged and put out on the shelf. I meant to check out some books before I left today, but I failed to do so. I'm going to campus tomorrow night for the Oratorio (Handel's Messiah). Although the library will be closed, I'll probably park there and run in to check out the books I intended to check out. It won't take that long to do. The circulation computer should come up pretty quickly since the system will not have been down that long. I'm going to check out a couple that I'll probably return in January when we are due to send more back. I just need enough to get me through Thanksgiving week. I do have some ARCs downloaded, but I like to mix those in with others.

Nov 23, 2019, 5:00am Top

I echo Mark in expressing pleasure at you being so active around the threads these few days. We all need a prompt in that direction! Have a lovely weekend.

Nov 24, 2019, 10:12am Top

Hi Donna - I still hope to get to The Nickel Boys this year... We will see. Great comments.

Nov 24, 2019, 11:18pm Top

Hi Donna. Taking advantage of a non-busty night to get caught up with some thread. I see you continue to read books that interest me... so many BBs! Very sorry to learn about the loss of your aunt. My very belated condolences.

>137 Donna828: - Great review of The Outlander. I admit I was more taken with the story, but mainly because of the setting, near Frank Slide, is well depicted and is an area I have frequently visited. Wilderness is wilderness, be it this century or last century, it doesn't change that much. ;-)

Love the family pics!

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead.

Nov 26, 2019, 9:34pm Top

>193 Donna828: Isn’t it nice that your Panda is enthusiastic about taking part. The Nickel Boys is on my library hold list so I should get to that shortly.

Nov 27, 2019, 10:31pm Top

Picked up The Nickel Boys and looking forward to reading it having been very impressed by his story published from it that I read in the New Yorker mag a few months ago. I think it's going to be a tough read though.

Dec 2, 2019, 6:31pm Top

>212 msf59: My posting has been sporadic this year, Mark. I tend to go in spurts. With Christmas just around the corner (seems like it anyway), I may be even scarcer on LT for the next few weeks. I'm glad you enjoyed The River Why.

>213 thornton37814: Lori, it sounds like your work is keeping you very busy. I'm not sure what my excuse is. Well, Thanksgiving was a big job this year for one thing. It turned out so well that we are going to have a repeat for Christmas. This time ALL my kids and grandkids will be here which will make it extra special.

>214 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul. This year has gone by in a flash, hasn't it? I hope we both have more of an LT presence next year.

>215 BLBera: Beth, you can read The Nickel Boys in a day if you can carve out the time for it. It's so good that you won't want to put it down.

Dec 2, 2019, 6:40pm Top

>216 lkernagh: What a pleasant surprise to see you here, Lori. Thank you for the condolences. It's been a sad year saying goodbye to two family members, both of them way too early. I love books where I am familiar with the setting. You are so right about the wilderness still being wild no matter what the century. Thank goodness we will have those uninhabited areas. Thanks for stopping by.

>217 Familyhistorian: Meg, my little Panda has enthusiasm for way too many things. It's hard for this Grandma to attend all her activities but I do my best. I think you will find The Nickel Boys both disturbing and utterly memorable. I'm glad I didn't trust my instincts and pass up the opportunity to read it.

>218 mdoris: The Nickel Boys was a tough read for sure, Mary. But oh so good. I didn't realize it was featured in The New Yorker magazine. I used to read it at the library. Maybe I should ask for a subscription for Christmas. So far I have a pair of Columbia gloves on my list. Poor Santa needs more hints.

Dec 2, 2019, 6:52pm Top

So, Thanksgiving is just a memory here…except for the pile of pumpkins, Pilgrims, turkeys, and other decorations that graced our two tables and fireplace mantel, etc. We hosted 14 family members for a traditional dinner and had a great time. Now I need to think Christmas. I might do a little Cyber shopping tonight. Tomorrow is a "lost" day as my friend Nancy and I will make the trek to Joplin, MO to meet up with some other LTers. I hope to have a picture of two to share here.

My reading has been sporadic with the holiday preparations taking over my life, but I have managed to sneak in a few books. No time for my usual quotations because I am in a hurry to work some more on my book list. I hope to find a treasure or two at The Changing Hands bookstore where we meet.

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 8:20pm Top

Book No. 93: Boundary Waters by William Kent Krueger. My copy, 402 pp., 3.9 stars.

No. 2 in the Cork O'Connor series had me on the edge of my seat as I followed our hero on another adventure. This time he and an interesting assortment of companions were in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota and Canada searching for a woman in danger. It was challenging to figure out who the villains were in this story that included Native Americans from the Ojibwe tribe, FBI Agents, some mobsters, and an iconic country music singer. I am enjoying this series and have a bonus because my husband likes it as well so we are taking turns reading the books.

Dec 2, 2019, 7:23pm Top

Hi Donna!

>177 Donna828: I finished Olive, Again a while ago and your comment about The Burgess Boys and Amy and Isabelle make me realize that perhaps I should have read those books prior to starting in with Olive 1 or 2.

They may or may not become BBs.

>221 Donna828: So glad your Thanksgiving was a good one. Ours was good, too, with 10 of us at our house. Controlled chaos, lots of laughter, and plenty of food.

Dec 2, 2019, 7:49pm Top

Book No. 94: Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It by Maile Meloy. Mine (temporarily), 219 pp., 3.5 stars.

These stories about believable people caught up by temptation and loneliness in mostly rural settings were just the thing to read as I cleaned house and prepared the food for our family Thanksgiving. Not all families are traditional and happy. Ha! Reading about the predicaments and bad decisions of others made me especially grateful for my blessings. I enjoyed all the stories to varying degrees and was delighted with the Christmas theme in the conclusion. A big thank you to Joanne for passing this book on to me. She originally got it from Mark. I plan to regift it at tomorrow's meetup so another LT member can share the thoughtful voice of Ms. Meloy.

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 8:13pm Top

Book 95: In This Grave Hour by Jacqueline Winspear. Library, 333 pp., 4 stars.

Number 14 in the Maisie Dobbs series has Maisie back in business as a private investigator with a psychological twist. Her associates Billy and Sandra are with her as she slowly but surely follows the clues to discover who is targeting a group of Belgian immigrants for a series of execution-style murders. This takes place as Britain declares war on Germany in 1939.

Many of the children in London have been sent to rural areas to escape the expected bombing. One of these innocents named Anna ends up in the care of Maisie with help from her father and his wife as part time caretakers. I think we will see a different dimension of Maisie if this side story continues in the next book as I expect it will. I continue to enjoy these books--flaws and all.

Dec 2, 2019, 8:21pm Top

Hi Donna! Sounds like your Thanksgiving was wonderful and shared with many family members. Totally get the scarcer appearances on LT. I'll probably be putting up the tree and decorating tomorrow. I'm also planning on two parties this year. The usual Christmas Eve get together with family and possibly a New year's day Open House for friends.
Safe travels and have a blast with fellow LTers tomorrow!

Dec 2, 2019, 8:28pm Top

>223 karenmarie: Karen your description of “controlled chaos, lots of laughter, and plenty of food” was duplicated at our house. I am still smiling at the wonderful time we had.

It isn’t necessary to read Strout’s prior books unless you want to. It was fun to run into characters I “knew” but it didn’t impact Olive’s story. I suspect you have a tottering TBR stack already in place. ;-)

Dec 2, 2019, 8:45pm Top

>226 Carmenere: Hi Lynda. Our group will be small tomorrow yet the tradition continues. To the best of my knowledge we started meeting in 2010. It looks like a clear day for a short road trip. It’s about 1.5 hours each way for me, much longer for Terri who lives in St. Charles. Terri and Stasia chose Joplin as the mid-point between them. Stasia lives in Sherman, Texas. Unfortunately, she is having health issues and won’t be with us this year.

I’ll start decorating around here on Wednesday. I am getting more low-key each year, but it’s still a big job. Too bad the Thanksgiving pies are all gone. I work better if treats are involved.

Dec 2, 2019, 9:02pm Top

Have a lovely meet-up, Donna

Dec 2, 2019, 9:06pm Top

Lynda's comments made me curious about the history of the Joplin Meetup.

LT meetup at The Changing Hands Book Shoppe in Joplin, MO, Nov. 30, 2010: Catey, Stasia, Sandy, Nancy, BJ, Donna, Terri

Joplin Meet-up Nov. 29, 2011: Standing -- Cindy, Janice, Terri, Donna, Mike, BJ, Stasia, Sandy. Sitting -- Nancy, Brenda

I think that out of this lovely group only two of us still have somewhat active threads in the 75 Book Challenge Group: Stasia -- alcottacre (hasn't updated in months) and Yours Truly.

I'm sorry the pictures are fuzzy and dark. Technology has improved over the years!

Dec 2, 2019, 9:06pm Top

>229 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul!

Dec 2, 2019, 11:18pm Top

Have fun at your meet-up, Donna! I’m sorry to hear that Stasia won’t be joining you. Can’t wait to see this year’s photo added to the collection. I hope you all find some great new books, too!

>224 Donna828: Glad you liked it!

Dec 3, 2019, 2:32am Top

Hi Donna! Hurray for another LT meetup!! Glad your Thanksgiving was so much fun. And that you have more Cormoran Strike books to read. ; )

I spent today putting away Thanksgiving stuff. Tomorrow I'll break out some Christmas decorations. Although I have to wait on the tree until my daughter gets home from college. It's ok. She's worth it!

Dec 3, 2019, 5:09pm Top

How fun to have a meet-up group that has been going for 10 years!

Dec 3, 2019, 6:10pm Top

Hi, Donna. Hooray for the approaching Meet Up. Looking forward to hearing about it. I am also glad you enjoyed Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It. I loved that collection. Don't be a stranger!

Dec 3, 2019, 7:24pm Top

Have a great time Donna. This meet up you have every year makes me wonder when you and I will ever meet up.

Dec 3, 2019, 10:12pm Top

Have a great meet up! What a wonderful tradition :)

Dec 4, 2019, 1:33pm Top

I'm envious of your meet up tradition! I've only met just a few LT'ers and so enjoyed them.

I loved your review of The Nickel Boys. It *does* sound bleak, but if you said you are glad to have read it anyway, I'll believe you.

I'll probably read the sequel to Henrik next year, too. I love his spirit!

Dec 5, 2019, 1:26pm Top

I agree with you, Donna (not that that's unusual) The Nickel Boys was well worth a read.

Dec 5, 2019, 5:53pm Top

Enjoy your meetup, Donna. Thanks for the pics. You have a great tradition!

Dec 7, 2019, 10:01am Top

Here we are again at our tenth annual meetup in Joplin, MO.
Me, Terri (tloeffler), and Nancy (Nancy 618)

Dec 7, 2019, 10:07am Top

Hooray, for the Meet Up. Lovely photo of a happy trio. Any books bought? Dumb question?

Dec 7, 2019, 10:30am Top

>232 Copperskye: Yes, we missed Stasia and other semi-regulars Sandy and Brenda. Such a busy time of year. I didn’t find any of the books on my list but came home with a new copy of Norse Myths and used copies of Silent Night by Robt. B. Parker and two Kenzie and Gennaro books by Dennis Lehane: Sacred and Prayers for Rain. For some reason, auto correct thinks Dennis’s last name is Lebanese! Hilarious. We will have to work on a Denver meetup next year, Joanne. It’s been almost two years now. :-(

>233 Berly: Hi Kim. Have fun decorating the Christmas tree with your kids. They never get too old for that. I am down to a committee of one now. December is super busy with business-related travel for my DH. He just got back from Panama and is driving to Atlanta this week end.

>234 RebaRelishesReading: Ten years go by too quickly, Reba. If Stasia doesn’t make it again next year, we may consider Springfield as a new place. It would be a shorter drive for Terri and we have two new independent bookstores here. The second one hasn’t officially opened yet, but has had some pop-up openings. It is owned by a dear friend who used to lead our book group at the library. I will have to post pictures when It officially opens.

>235 msf59: Mark, I am trying not to be a stranger but am so very busy these days. Haha, you have a full time job and manage to have the busiest thread in our group. Maybe I need to read a book on time management!

Dec 7, 2019, 10:42am Top

>236 brenzi: Bonnie, I would love to meet you! Unfortunately, most of my travel is to Kansas City, Denver, and Northern Michigan these days. Wouldn’t it be great if “Someone’ would plan a Super-sized Meetup for the whole group? We can dream...

>237 figsfromthistle: Thanks, Anita. It was fun and I hope the tradition continues.

>238 streamsong: Hi, Janet. I treasure the memories of the LT people I’ve met. It’s great to be friends on the internet but those hugs are irreplaceable. I’m looking forward to more Henrick time next year.

>239 RebaRelishesReading: We do seem to have similar reading tastes, Reba. I’ve gotten many good recommendations from you over the years.

>240 BLBera: Thank you, Beth.

>241 Donna828: Hi again, Mark. See my response to Joanne for my list of books. And there are no Dumb Questions! 😉

Dec 7, 2019, 11:34am Top

>241 Donna828: Lovely to see you all Donna, and your earlier meet up photos. A good haul of Reading matter too.

Edited: Dec 7, 2019, 7:10pm Top

Thanks for posting the meet up photos. They are wonderful, the previous ones and the current ones. Kind of amazing to be connected through L.T. for so long.

>220 Donna828: Donna, a suggestion to Santa for the NYer mag might be a good idea! Sometimes it's hopeless to read books and polish off the mag as they build relentlessly in a pile once delivered. However there is almost always a good article to read. The most recent issue has a piece by David Sedaris and I always greatly enjoy his writing.

I finished The Nickel Boys yesterday and it was as good as I anticipated. Your review of it was excellent.

Dec 7, 2019, 10:37pm Top

I also enjoyed the meet-up photos, Donna.

Have a lovely weekend.

Dec 9, 2019, 11:59am Top

Great meet up photos, Donna, and how lovely to have an annual tradition like that. I have enjoyed all of the meet ups I have managed. LT people are fun to hang around with. Funny thing, they enjoy the same things I do!

Dec 9, 2019, 2:27pm Top

Yay for the Joplin meetup! What a great tradition you've created.

Dec 10, 2019, 3:10pm Top

Christmas is two weeks away!!! That is me pushing my panic button. Haha. This year is no different from any year. I am tired and starting some Scrooge-like thinking so I'm taking a break to get caught up on my thread. I apologize for not posting on other threads right now. I do some lurking in my downtime but don't have much to say. I hope to snap out of it soon and get in the holiday spirit.

>245 Caroline_McElwee: Hi Caroline, that meetup is always fun no matter how few or how many are there. I usually come home with more books, but I am trying to cut back on book buying.

>246 mdoris: I'm so glad that The Nickel Boys was a hit for you as well, Mary. It was a nice surprise for me. I'm still thinking about the NY magazine subscription. Knowing me, I will let them build up and they will haunt me. I might go back to reading them at the library. I love the ambiance there and might just keep up better knowing that only one month is on display at a time.

>247 PaulCranswick: The weekend went just fine, Paul. My husband was in Atlanta so I got some Christmas gifts wrapped. I also went shopping but realized I do much better making decisions online.

>248 Familyhistorian: Meg, I totally agree that it is fun to hang out with other readers. Some of my friends don't share my passion the way LTers do.

>249 jnwelch: Hi there, Joe. The creation credits go to Terri and Stasia. I am just a happy participant in the annual Joplin meetup.

Edited: Dec 10, 2019, 3:30pm Top

Book No. 96: Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva. Library, 276 pp., 3.4 stars.

"Dickens skulked outside a long-paned window, peering into the dining room, where the high and talented literati of the day assembled around gleaming white plates and bright silver. Forster sat at the helm, blocking his view. Dickens leaned to the right of a boxwood to catch sight of Thackeray and the Carlyles, to the left of the drapes to spy Trollope and his wife. Wilkie Collins, the youngest darling of the group, sat at the far end, dabbing politely at the corners of his mouth as Thackeray stabbed the air with a fork."

I so wanted to love this fictionalized account of Dickens' writer's block and how he came to write A Christmas Carol. He was urged forced by his publishers to write a Christmas book to save his plummeting finances. It seems that his fickle readers turned on him because of Martin Chuzzlewit (can't say as I blame them), but the expenses of his large spendthrift family made life as they knew it very precarious.

The author does a good job of creating the ambience of a cold foggy London as Dickens walks the streets looking for inspiration. However, I did not care for the idea of a muse in the form of a lovely young woman. I'm not sure how much of his philandering is factual. I realize the book is fiction but the whole idea of the imagined events fell flat for me.

Dec 10, 2019, 3:59pm Top

Book No. 97: Snow Angels by Stewart O'Nan. Audio by Malcolm Hillgartner. Hoopla, 334 pp., 3.9 stars.

This book was an excellent companion as I wrestled with boxes of Christmas decorations and wrapping paper. O'Nan is such a good storyteller. I just wish this had been a more upbeat story. Nonetheless, it kept me engaged and made me realize how lucky I am to be in a family without (too much) drama. It's told in alternate stories of failed marriages and their repercussions.

Arthur's story is told by the adult version of the 14-year-old boy who encounters too many tragedies in his personal life and in the community. The other story was about those tragic happenings in the life of one of his neighbors. Set in the mid-1970s in rural Pennsylvania, O'Nan has created a look back to a simpler way of life but one filled with the angst of growing up and how tricky relationships can be. Some things are just timeless.

Edited: Dec 10, 2019, 4:03pm Top

>241 Donna828: Yay for the meet-up photo! Funny how none of you seem to age. And my goodness, you’re right - just two weeks away! That late Thanksgiving really hurried Christmas up this year. We got our tree yesterday and put it up. Now that the branches have dropped a bit I have to get going on the lights and everything else this afternoon. How did I ever get everything done when I was working?! I guess I was younger then. :)

>252 Donna828: Snow Angels was my first O’Nan! Glad you liked it!

Dec 11, 2019, 9:33pm Top

Great meet-up photo, Donna!

Dec 20, 2019, 2:41am Top

>241 Donna828: Yay for the meet-up photo!!

>251 Donna828: I think I shall pass on this Dickens story. >252 Donna828: And I need upbeat right now, so another pass. But I like your reviews and thanks for saving me from them!

: )

Edited: Dec 23, 2019, 10:16pm Top

Just a quick post to say I am surviving the holiday madness. This will be a weekend of cookie baking and maybe finishing my current book. I may have set a longevity record for reading This is Happiness. Not because I don’t like it. In fact, I love it to the point where I don’t want to read it in bits and pieces. It deserves my full attention.

>253 Copperskye: I know I’m moving slower these days, Joanne. And thanks for pointing me in the direction of Stewart ONan. His books are so good.

>254 ronincats: Thank you, Roni.

>255 Berly:. Hi, Kim. You are smart to save the heavy reading for next year. I’ve already started to line up some January books. I’m looking forward to a few quiet weeks.

Dec 21, 2019, 12:59pm Top

After I finish these three books, I will have reached my goal of 100 books. I may be reading the Christmas books after the 25th, but My Christmas spirit will be lingering on well into the new year so that’s okay. ✨🎄✨

Dec 21, 2019, 5:02pm Top

>257 Donna828: That looks like a very comfy Christmas room, Donna. Good luck reading 100 books!

Dec 23, 2019, 9:08am Top

Have a great holiday, Donna.

Dec 23, 2019, 9:48am Top

Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

Dec 23, 2019, 9:37pm Top

>258 Familyhistorian: My granddaughters call it the parlor, but I like Christmas Room better, at least this time of year. Thanks, Meg. I am going to start A Christmas Carol tonight and hopefully finish before the strike of Midnight on Christmas Eve.

>259 jnwelch: Thank you, Joe. I wish the same to you and your family.

>260 ChelleBearss: Thank you so much, Chelle. I don't keep up with your reading as well as I'd like to, but I do love all the cute little girl pictures on FB. I know you will have a special Christmas this year with your little angels.

Dec 23, 2019, 10:02pm Top

Book No. 98: This Is Happiness by Niall Williams. Library, 381 pp., 4.4 stars.

"Story was the stuff of life, and to realise you were inside one allowed you to sometimes surrender to the plot, to bear little easier the griefs and sufferings and to enjoy a little easier the griefs and sufferings and to enjoy more fully the twists that came along the way."

My only 5-star book this year was History of the Rain by Williams. His newest book is also set in the rural village of Faha in County Clare, Ireland. It too is a meandering story that moves slowly through springtime in Ireland in the 1950s when a young man of 17 goes to live with his grandparents and ponders some of life's unanswerable questions. It's a coming-of-age story told from the perspective of the boy who becomes an old man who still is pondering some of those questions. Williams tells a good story but his writing is what really speaks to me. I read his books slowly to savor his lyrical descriptions. The first chapter is one sentence: "It had stopped raining." However, Chapter Two had me in awe of the way he wrote so intimately about rain and the people of Faha. I want to read it again fairly soon because it deserves to be read in big chunks, perhaps with the sound of rain in the background.

Dec 23, 2019, 10:03pm Top

Hi, Donna - It's been awhile since I've been on LT, but I wanted to be sure to wish you a lovely holiday season and

Dec 23, 2019, 10:11pm Top

Mary!!! I miss you, my friend. My LT postings have slowed down quite a bit this year but I still love this group…and hearing from old friends. How is that cutie-patootie of a granddaughter doing. Probably growing up too fast the way they all do. Thank you so much for the holiday greetings and the wishes for next year. Enjoy your wonderful family Christmas…and don't be such a stranger! ((Hugs))

Dec 23, 2019, 10:17pm Top

Thank you, Donna! I'm very much enjoying my adorable granddaughter more than I'd ever have imagined possible. I put some pics of her up in my Gallery, and I have a few more I want to upload soon. She's getting so big - already almost 11 months old, and how did THAT happen? - and is smart, funny, sweet and, as you said, cute as a button. I have missed the 75 group, and I may do a thread for 2020, but there wasn't a lot of time for it in 2019, between moving (twice!), being a granny-nanny, and getting used to New York. I've missed you and all my LT friends and hope to stay in touch better next year. {{hugs}}

Dec 24, 2019, 11:29am Top

Happy holidays, Donna! I'm imagining you with a house full of fun.

Dec 24, 2019, 11:35am Top

Or in other words, Happy Christmas! And have a great New Year as well.

Dec 24, 2019, 1:51pm Top

Hi Donna!

>227 Donna828: My ‘tottering TBR stack’ is currently 2,164. So at 100 per year, I’m good for another 21.64 years!

>230 Donna828: Lovely! Meet up photos.

>241 Donna828: And a current one, thanks for sharing all.

Dec 25, 2019, 2:16pm Top

I love the meetup photos.

Merry Christmas from Montana!

Edited: Dec 26, 2019, 12:21am Top

Merry Christmas Donna and wishing you and family all the best in 2020!

Dec 25, 2019, 6:38pm Top

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, some other tradition or none at all, this is what I wish for you!

Dec 25, 2019, 8:56pm Top

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

Dec 26, 2019, 2:11am Top

Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Dec 26, 2019, 8:43pm Top

Well, Christmas is a wrap for most people, but we are still waiting for our kids and grands to get here. The Colorado Crew will get in around 10:30 or so tonight and the Kansas City contingent will arrive around noon tomorrow. Friday will be our official Christmas at Henderson Hacienda! We had a candlelight Christmas Eve dinner at my brother's house and went to see the new Star Wars movie on Christmas Day. It was kinda strange but ya gotta be flexible sometimes.

>265 Storeetllr: Mary, it sounds like we need to hear more about that second move. I hope life in New York is treating you well. It must be lovely to be with your daughter and "granny nanny" sounds like the greatest job ever! I do hope you consider a thread in the 75er group in 2020.

>266 RebaRelishesReading: The fun starts tomorrow, Reba!

>267 SandDune: Rhian! It is so good to see you here. I must keep up with you better next year. Thank you for the lovely Welsh greeting!

>268 karenmarie: It must be very comforting to know that you have plenty of books for the next 20+ years, Karen. I wish you the best of health for all the reading ahead of you! Wait a minute, we'd better figure in some more years for all the shiny new books that call out. It boggles the mind! I'm glad you enjoyed the meetup photos. And I hope you had a wonderful Christmas with your family.

Dec 26, 2019, 8:50pm Top

>269 streamsong: What a beautiful ornament, Janet. I envy you having mountains to look at but you can keep the snow. We just had the warmest Christmas day in over 50 years. It was 70 degrees when we got out of the movie around 3:00 in the afternoon.

>270 mdoris: Thank you, Mary. Your book tree is perfect!

>271 ronincats: Thanks for all those wonderful wishes, Roni. Just beautiful. I wish the same for you.

>272 PaulCranswick: I like that attitude, Paul…Onward to 2020. I know it was a tough year for you and hope the new year treats you much more kindly.

>273 AMQS: Hi Anne. Thank you for taking the time out from your company (a precious baby no less) to send greetings. Let's make a real effort to get together next year. It has been almost two years since our last meet up. We can do it!

Edited: Dec 26, 2019, 9:58pm Top

Book No. 99: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Mine, 159 pp., 5 stars.

I'm not sure how many times I've read this book. I don't read it every Christmas but I always enjoy it. It is the best story of redemption ever so I must continue to give it the full 5 stars.

Book No. 100: A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote. Mine, 42 pp., 4.5 stars.

This is a relatively new-to-me book which I've added to my Christmas collection. It is definitely a feel-good story about a much simpler time. Maybe this will be the year I introduce it to my youngest grandchildren.

Dec 27, 2019, 12:21am Top

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

Dec 27, 2019, 9:53pm Top

Congrats on reaching 100, Donna. I hope you're having a wonderful holiday with all those marvelous grandkids.

Dec 27, 2019, 10:05pm Top

Congrats on reading 100 books!

Enjoy the rest of the holiday season :)

Dec 27, 2019, 11:15pm Top

Congrats on reading 100 books, Donna! And what a great book you chose for that honor.

We also saw Star Wars on Christmas (we had our company on Christmas Eve). I’m going to wrangle the men to see Little Women with me next.

Dec 28, 2019, 11:03am Top

Congratulations on 100, Donna! Looking forward to seeing you around in 2020.

Dec 28, 2019, 6:06pm Top

What a great book to reach 100 with, Donna!

Dec 28, 2019, 8:23pm Top

Congratulations on 100 Donna. I read 100 books this year for the first time....ever! Love those audio books.

Happy New Year to you and your family.

Edited: Dec 28, 2019, 10:17pm Top

Congrats on hitting the century mark, Donna. Impressive, and to do it with Christmas books, too? Yah!! I am really having a good time with Underland. I love discovering a new NF author, and this guy fits the bill for me.

Dec 29, 2019, 1:12am Top

Wow, 100. That is amazing. Well done!

Dec 29, 2019, 12:24pm Top

>277 Berly: Love that image, Beth. Thanks!

>278 BLBera: Thank you, Beth. We’ve been having so much fun.

>279 figsfromthistle: Thanks, Anita. Happy Holidays to you!

Dec 29, 2019, 12:31pm Top

>280 Copperskye: It was a good reading year, Joanne. I don’t think I can convince my DH to go see Little Women, but I definitely want to see it.

>281 RebaRelishesReading: I plan to set up a new thread soon, Reba. Such an exciting time on LT. I’ll look for you.

>282 Familyhistorian: I agree, Meg. I look forward to it every year.

Dec 29, 2019, 12:37pm Top

>283 brenzi: Congratulations to you, Bonnie. The audiobooks sure help me reach my goal.

>284 msf59: Hi Mark. New authors are fun to discover. My favorite new fiction author for the year was Niall Williams. Literary Irish at its best!

>285 mdoris: Thank you, Mary. I was a few books short last year so I’m pretty happy to make 100 this year.

Dec 29, 2019, 12:38pm Top

Hi, Donna. I ended up loving A Christmas Memory (and the other two in it). Like you, I'm grateful to our LT friends for alerting me to it. "A feel-good story from a simpler time" - well said! I know I'll be re-reading it, probably around this time next year.

How did you like the new Star Wars movie? I want to see it. We're going to see the new Little Women today.

Dec 29, 2019, 12:54pm Top

We are still celebrating at my house!

Top: Haley (9), Hope (6), Molly (6)
Bottom: Sadie (17), Griffin (12), Audrey (15).

Edited: Dec 29, 2019, 12:59pm Top

>289 jnwelch: Joe, I am going to have to look for those two bonus Christmas stories. My book just has A Christmas Memory. I liked the Star Wars movie more than my husband did. He wanted more humor and less predictability. I thought it was just right and very entertaining.

Edited: Dec 29, 2019, 1:49pm Top

Hope and Molly are SIX already? Holy moley! I remember when they were just born. Dang, how time flies, huh? All your grandkids are just beautiful! Love those smiles!

If I make a 2020 thread, I'll write about the second move in a little more detail, but the short version is we bought a house and I have my own space now.

Dec 29, 2019, 2:27pm Top

>290 Donna828: GREAT picture of the grands.

Dec 29, 2019, 6:08pm Top

>290 Donna828: Fantastic photo!! Lovely grandkids!

Edited: Dec 31, 2019, 7:28am Top

Sweet pic of the grands, Donna.

We saw the Star Wars movie the day after Christmas. Bill and Jenna liked it more than I did, but I am glad I saw it and have now seen all 9 at least once. The only extremely minor thing that drove me crazy was a flash of those damned Ewoks at the end. I do not like Ewoks. I've never liked Ewoks, and if there are any cutesy-folk alien-culture creatures in any movie I always accuse them of being Ewok-ish. As soon as I saw them I said a quiet Nooooo..... and Jenna reached over and patted my arm.

Dec 31, 2019, 3:56pm Top

Edited: Dec 31, 2019, 8:10pm Top

>290 Donna828: Love the coordinated grandkids photo. All the best in 2020!

Dec 31, 2019, 9:38pm Top

Cute grandkids and they are all color coordinated!! Keep celebrating tomorrow!

Jan 1, 2:16pm Top

Jan 1, 2:19pm Top

Nothing better than starting a New Year with Hope!
We are still in strong holiday mode at our house. Grandma may need a few days to recover and start a new thread in the 2020 Group. In the meantime, thank you for all the visits and book chat in 2019. This is a Wonderful Group! 🥰

Jan 1, 2:42pm Top

I'm sort of betwixt and between thread years, too.

Congrats on 100 books. I love A Christmas Memory.

Love the elves in

Jan 1, 6:27pm Top

Hope! Just adorable. Love that smile!

Jan 4, 8:19pm Top

>301 streamsong: "Betwixt and Between" sums it up, Janet. Transitions are more difficult when one is sleep-deprived.

>302 Storeetllr: Thanks, Mary. Hope is a Keeper for sure!

Happy New Year Everyone! My new thread for the new year and new decade is over here.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2019

348 members

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