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TBR@62 Robertgreaves's challenge for 2019/2020 part 1

2019 ROOT (READ OUR OWN TOMES)

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1Robertgreaves
Edited: Sep 29, 8:17am Top

Continued from this thread



I have 45 books on the treebook TBR shelves and 134 books on the virtual TBR shelves, a shift from treebooks to ebooks but an overall decrease of one book. So can I put in for a lifespan of another 179 years?

Currently reading:

Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

2rabbitprincess
Sep 29, 9:28am Top

Happy new thread! Let me know if putting in for another 179 years works...

3Robertgreaves
Sep 30, 3:20am Top

Thanks for dropping by, rabbitprincess

4Robertgreaves
Sep 30, 3:22am Top

Possible reading for October 2019:

5Jackie_K
Sep 30, 6:19am Top

Overall decrease of one book - you're going in the right direction! I'm not sure I could handle another 400+ years, so I'd better up my pace!

6Robertgreaves
Sep 30, 10:53pm Top

And my No. 1 for my new reading year is A Brief History of the Celts by Peter Berresford Ellis. This is my eighty-fifth ROOT for 2019. I have put Uncle Tom's Cabin on hold while I read this for my online reading group.

7connie53
Oct 1, 2:08am Top

Happy New Thread, Robert.

8Robertgreaves
Oct 1, 2:25am Top

Thanks for dropping by, Jackie and Connie

9MissWatson
Oct 1, 5:01am Top

Happy new thread and happy belated birthday, Robert!

10Robertgreaves
Oct 1, 5:48am Top

>9 MissWatson: Thank you Birgit

11tess_schoolmarm
Oct 2, 2:51am Top

Happy new thread and birthday!

12Robertgreaves
Oct 2, 4:00am Top

>11 tess_schoolmarm: Thank you, Tess

13Robertgreaves
Oct 3, 2:46am Top

Back to Uncle Tom's Cabin.

My review of A Brief History of the Celts:

Some interesting nuggets but I get the same feeling I do with the author's fiction, that he views the Celts through much too rosy glasses. And his obsession with seeking parallels with Vedic Indians got a bit tedious at times.

14Robertgreaves
Edited: Oct 5, 8:05pm Top

Starting my No. 2, Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie. I forget why I put this on my virtual TBR shelf, but it fits the RandomCAT. I also started Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente but gave up after the first chapter. I simply couldn't face 300 pages of a not very good imitation of Douglas Adams.

My review of Uncle Tom's Cabin:

Thanks to their owner's improvidence two Kentucky slaves, a man and a boy, are due to be sold. The boy's mother runs away with him while the man accepts his fate. This is what happened to them.

I found the eye-dialect difficult to get used to but overall the book was a powerful piece of pleading even nearly 170 years later. Obviously I was broadly familiar with the story before going in, but something that took me by surprise was the casual acceptance that, however devastating, the death of one's child was so general an experience that the author could use it as a commonality that would arouse sympathies for the slaves amongst her white readers, though I must admit I did roll my eyes a bit at the sentimentality of the portrayal of Eva.

15Robertgreaves
Oct 7, 5:21am Top

Starting my No. 3, The Truth by Terry Pratchett. It is my eighty-fifth ROOT for 2019. It fits the SFFKIT and the AlphaKIT.

My review of Home Fire:

Isma has to bring up her twin siblings, Aneeka and Parvaiz, after their mother and grandmother die. Once they are adults she decides to resume her studies in America, where she meets Eamonn, the son of an up-and-coming MP. Unknown to her, Parvaiz, hoping to live up to their father, who fought for the Taliban in Afghanistan, has decided to join ISIS.

A powerful re-telling of Sophocles' Antigone for the 21st century. The echoes in the names were obvious, some of the twists were foreseeable from knowing the play, but some decidedly were not.

16Robertgreaves
Edited: Oct 9, 10:32pm Top

Starting my No. 4, The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman. It fits the AlphaKIT. It is my eighty-sixth ROOT for 2019 and would bring the physical TBR shelf down to 43 if I hadn't bought a treebook version of Frankenstein, so it remains at 44

My review of The Truth:

William de Worde invents the newspaper and exposes dastardly political shenanigans to replace Lord Vetinari as Patrician.

Not perhaps Pratchett's funniest but plenty of wordplay and wry observations about the world.

17Robertgreaves
Edited: Oct 11, 10:50am Top

Starting my No. 5, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. It is not a ROOT but it brings the physical TBR shelf down to 43. It fits the CalendarCAT.

My review of The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes:

The story of how the Sandman, the King of Dreams, is captured and stripped of his powers and how he regains them.

There were times when I wasn't quite sure what was going on but I will continue with this graphic novel series at some point.

18Robertgreaves
Oct 14, 9:14am Top

Starting my No. 6, The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein by Peter Ackroyd. It is my eighty-seventh ROOT for 2019 and brings the physical TBR shelf down to 42. It fits the CalendarCAT and the RandomCAT.

My review of Frankenstein:

It took me a while to adjust to the more ornate language and even when I had there were times when I was muttering to myself, "do get on with it" as we paused for yet another disquisition on the sublime beauties of the Alpen landscapes or the noble character of practically everybody. But having said that, the story does strike chords which have kept it alive and familiar to everyone for 200 years in all its various incarnations.

19Robertgreaves
Oct 18, 8:13pm Top

Starting my No.7, In The Time of Madness by Richard Lloyd Parry. This ebook is my eighty-eighth ROOT for 2019. I'm reading it now for my book club.

My review of The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein:

After a perfectly ordinary university career in Ingolstadt, Victor Frankenstein moves to Oxford and London where he meets Percy Bysshe Shelley and takes up the studies for which he is best known.

Although it has less sublimity, which makes it easier to read, I did wonder at times what the author was bringing to the story that wasn't in Mary Shelley's version apart from Frankenstein's rather meta meetings with Shelley, his two wives, Lord Byron, and Dr. Polidori. And then I hit the ending. Now there was a twist I didn't see coming.

20Robertgreaves
Oct 20, 10:05pm Top

Starting my No. 8, Second Act by Marilyn Todd. It fits the SeriesCAT and AlphaKIT. This ebook is not a ROOT.

My review of In the Time of Madness:

A journalist follows stories of outbreaks of intercommunal violence in Indonesia in the 1990s.

This book was a bit of a disappointment. Despite some efforts to give background context, there was very little analysis, just the journalist author's personal observations and what he was told by different people. It felt like a re-hash of some of his newspaper reporting rather than adding anything new.

21Robertgreaves
Oct 22, 11:51pm Top

Starting the next in the series, Widow's Pique as my No. 9. It fits the SeriesCAT and AlphaKIT. This ebook is not a ROOT.

My review of Second Act:

In the run up to Saturnalia, a rapist is on the loose in Rome attacking women, raping them and humiliating them. Is he a copycat or was the wrong man caught by Orbilio and executed earlier in the year? In the meantime, Claudia's insurance fraud is catching up with her and she needs money fast. Is sponsoring and providing houseroom for a troupe of actors a way out?

I thought Claudia and Orbilio had reached some sort of understanding of each other in the previous book, but it appears not. We're back to the banter again. Not that I'm complaining, mind -- it is good quality banter.

22Robertgreaves
Oct 24, 4:11am Top

Starting the next in the series, Stone Cold as my No. 10. Same CAT/KIT, also not a ROOT.

My review of Widow's Pique:

Claudia travels to Histria where she hopes to land a contract to supply wine to the King only to find His Majesty invited her for quite another purpose.

I nearly gave up half way through because I was having problems remembering who was who but I'm glad I persisted because it does have a cracker of an ending.

23Robertgreaves
Oct 25, 9:09pm Top

Starting the next in the series, Sour Grapes, as my No. 11. Same CAT/KIT, not a ROOT.

My review of Stone Cold:

Claudia travels to Santonum in Gaul hoping to trace her father, who disappeared when she was 10.

A much better entry in the series than the last one. Witty to the point I was having to stifle my giggles. Of the two mysterious characters (the Watcher and the Scarecrow) one turned out to be who I was expecting, the other didn't. Did Claudia and Orbilio get enough of a shock in the last few chapters to wake them up? I do hope so.

24Robertgreaves
Oct 26, 7:30pm Top

Starting the last in the series, Scorpion Rising, as my No. 12. Fits the Series CAT, AlphaKIT, and Calendar CAT.

My review of Sour Grapes:

Disturbed by reports that her mother-in-law is about to remarry, which would give control of the family property to her new husband, Claudia tries to find out if it is a love match or a fortune hunter.

Nice twisty penultimate episode in this series.

25Robertgreaves
Edited: Oct 27, 11:47pm Top

My No. 13 is 1984 by George Orwell. It is my eighty-ninth ROOT for 2019 and brings the physical TBR shelf down to 41. It fits the AlphaKIT.

My review of Scorpion Rising:

Claudia is blackmailed into returning to Santonum to find out who killed 12 year old Clytie, who was being brought up by a female order called the Hundred-Handed.

I enjoyed the actual mystery but I'm quite glad this seems to be the last novel in the series because I've had enough of the way each volume towards the end of the series was implying and in some cases more than implying that Claudia and Orbilio had come together at last only to find at the beginning of the next book that no, they haven't, they're right back where they started.

26LisaMorr
Edited: Oct 30, 7:38am Top

From your previous thread, I liked your comments on The Handmaid's Tale. When I read it, George W. Bush was president of the U.S. and I definitely felt like it was possible, especially when he talked about being on a ''mission from God'' and said "I believe God wants me to be president'. I suppose I will need to re-read it pretty soon, in advance of reading The Testaments.

I also enjoyed your comments on All the Little Liars; I knew Charlaine Harris had written other series besides the Southern Vampire Mysteries, but I didn't know about these. I'll have to check them out.

ETA: Oops - not sure how I found my way here, meant this for the 2019CC thread...well, either way, my comments still stand!

27Robertgreaves
Oct 30, 7:08pm Top

>26 LisaMorr: Thanks for dropping by, Lisa

28Robertgreaves
Edited: Oct 31, 4:14am Top

Starting my No. 14, 1666: Plague, War and Hellfire by Rebecca Rideal. This is my ninety-first ROOT for 2019. My TBR shelf would have come down but stays the same because I put Mansfield Park on it to re-read.

My review of 1984:

It is easy to see parallels between the world of 1984 and the world we see around us but ultimately I don't think the world of 1984 would be sustainable. Be that as it may, deservedly a classic.

29Robertgreaves
Edited: Oct 31, 5:58am Top

My reading planned for November:

30Robertgreaves
Nov 1, 12:28am Top

Another kg off. The two ebooks I chose were:

The Glass Universe by Dava Sobel and
Jack of Eagles by James Blish

31Jackie_K
Nov 1, 11:53am Top

>30 Robertgreaves: Don't turn sideways, Robert - with all these lost kgs, you'll disappear from view! :)

32Robertgreaves
Nov 1, 8:47pm Top

33Robertgreaves
Nov 2, 4:06am Top

Starting my No 15, Vindolanda by Adrian Goldsworthy. I'm reading it now for my online Reading Group.

My review of 1666; Plague, War, and Hellfire:

I found the plague and fire sections more interesting than the war sections.

I did not know Lord Rochester's poems were quite THAT rude.

34Robertgreaves
Nov 5, 6:32pm Top

Starting my No. 16, the next in the series, The Encircling Sea, which is not a ROOT but fits the AlphaKIT.

My review of Vindolanda:

Action adventure on the northern edge of Roman Britain, before the Wall was built.

The author tells a good yarn although there were times it seemed the author was determined to give us the benefit of ALL his research into the Roman Army and I felt quite overwhelmed. Still, good enough for me to continue with the series.

35Robertgreaves
Nov 8, 4:54am Top

My No. 17 is the third in the trilogy, Brigantia. This is not a ROOT.

My review of The Encircling Sea:

Ferox vs the Pirates

Some interesting new characters but I thought the climactic battle went on for a bit too long. Still, I'll carry on for completeness' sake.

36Robertgreaves
Nov 9, 7:00pm Top

Starting my No. 18, The Sweetness At the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. This is my ninety-third ROOT for 2019. It fits the AlphaKIT and SeriesCAT.

My review of Brigantia:

Ferox is asked to investigate the murder of an imperial freedman now working for the procurator. Is it linked to a series of thefts of collectible items related to the history of Britannia?

More cloak and dagger stuff going on here as well as the battles but most of it pretty forgettable so I had to keep stopping to look back to work out what people were referring to.

37Robertgreaves
Edited: Nov 11, 9:02am Top

Starting my No. 19, the second in the series The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag. This is not a ROOT but again fits the AlphaKIT and SeriesCAT.

My review of The Sweetness At The Bottom of the Pie:

Flavia de Luce hears a father in a late night argument in his study. Early the next morning she finds the body of a stranger in the garden who dies just as she reaches him. Could her father really be a murderer?

The series seems to garner a lot of love, but I found this rather a wobbly start. The story was interesting enough but although I could not comment on the philatelic aspects, some of the family history and religious asides would suggest that the author hasn't done his homework. Still, I will try the second one before making up my mind whether to continue.


38Robertgreaves
Edited: Nov 14, 2:45am Top

Starting my No. 20, Of Beards and Men by Christopher Oldstone-Moore. It's not a ROOT but it does fit the CalendarCAT.

My review of The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag:

A travelling puppet master's van breaks down in the village and he agrees to put on two shows in payment for accommodation and van repairs. But why is he pretending not to know people he has obviously met before? Flavia investigates.

I'm not that interested in chemistry and again there were historical details which didn't quite ring true, so I don't think I will be continuing with this series, despite the intriguing titles.

39Robertgreaves
Nov 15, 6:38pm Top

Starting my No. 21, Not a Hazardous Sport by Nigel Barley. It's not a ROOT but it fits the AlphaKIT. I'm reading it now for my book club.

My review of Of Beards and Men:

Fascinating history of changing attitudes to men's facial hair in the Middle East and the West from Sumerian times onward.

40Jackie_K
Nov 16, 6:01am Top

>39 Robertgreaves: I thought I recognised Nigel Barley's name - I read his The Innocent Anthropologist and enjoyed it very much.

41Robertgreaves
Nov 16, 7:43pm Top

>40 Jackie_K: This was one was quite a quick read, and I wouldn't mind reading more of his work at some point, so I've wishlisted that one.

42Robertgreaves
Nov 17, 4:27am Top

Starting my No. 22, My Cat Yugoslavia by Pajtim Statovci. This ebook is my ninety-fourth ROOT of 2019. It fits the AlphaKIT.

My review of Not A Hazardous Sport:

An anthropologist travels to Indonesia to work amongst the Toraja people in Sulawesi and then brings some Toraja craftsmen back to work on building a rice-barn in the Museum of Mankind in London.

Light hearted, amusing reading. Don't expect any great anthropological insights.

43Jackie_K
Nov 17, 4:43am Top

>42 Robertgreaves: OK, so today in Coincidence Central, I was listening to a Guardian Books podcast from a few months ago, which interviewed two refugee writers, including Pajtim Statovci. It was really interesting - I'm not sure I could quite cope with the magical realism of My Cat Yugoslavia, but I've put his second novel Crossing on my wishlist (along with the book by the other interviewee, Dina Nayeri). The episode is here if you'd like to listen: https://www.theguardian.com/books/audio/2019/jun/18/what-is-it-like-being-a-refu...

44Robertgreaves
Nov 17, 5:14am Top

>43 Jackie_K: Interesting. I'll read the book first and then if I like the book, I'll have a listen

45Robertgreaves
Edited: Nov 18, 6:54pm Top

Starting my No. 23 Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. This ebook is not a ROOT but does fit the CalendarCAT.

My review of My Cat Yugoslavia:

Bekim's family came to Finland as refugees from Kosovo when he was a young child. The book alternates between his life now and his mother's life from when she first met her husband-to-be in 1980 down to the present day.

Bekim's narrative was interesting and sympathetic to him as an immigrant and him as a gay man in the opening and concluding sections. His mother's narrative was interesting throughout if a bit lacking in context - was Bajram's brutality typical of men in that time and place or was he unusual? However, Bekim's narrative in the middle was -- odd. I'm still trying to work out what exactly was going on with the giant talking cat. An abusive partner? A projection of Bekim's own dark side? Or does Bekim just live in a world where there are giant talking cats?

46Robertgreaves
Nov 19, 11:53pm Top

Starting my No. 24, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman. It is not a ROOT.

My review of Things Fall Apart:

Okonkwo's life as a traditional man working his way up in Umuofia society and how he comes to grief at the beginning of colonial expansion into the lower Niger.

It's a fascinating warts and all portrayal of a way of life, though I'm not sure how representative Okonkwo is meant to be. There doesn't seem to be an audiobook version, which is a pity as it reads more like spoken language.

47Robertgreaves
Nov 20, 1:39am Top

I quickly realised And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer was not suitable for public reading, so I switched to Amsterdam Noir, edited by René Appel and Josh Pachter.

48Robertgreaves
Nov 20, 10:09pm Top

Starting my No. 26 The Sparsholt Affair by Alan Hollinghurst, which brings the treebook TBR shelf down to 44. It is my ninety-fifth ROOT for 2019 and I am reading it for the AlphaKIT and TBRCAT.

49connie53
Nov 22, 3:34am Top

>30 Robertgreaves: Good job on the weight loss, Robert. And on the reading too.

>46 Robertgreaves: I can see why this is not a book you want to read in a public place. I found a copy and loaded it on my Kobo reader.

50Robertgreaves
Nov 22, 7:38pm Top

>49 connie53: It's a quick read, so I read it in an hour or so yesterday evening. Yes, lots of sobbing, difficult to read through tears and still emotionally fragile now

51Robertgreaves
Nov 23, 6:57pm Top

Last night I started my No. 27, The World of Late Antiquity by Peter Brown, which is my ninety-sixth ROOT of 2019. It would have brought the treebook TBR shelf down but I bought two books yesterday and so it stands at 46. As a birthday present it fits the TBRCAT. Because it is a nice edition in its own slip case I don't think I can take it out with me today so I will be starting to re-read my No. 28, The Raphael Affair by Iain Peters.

My review of The Sparsholt Affair:

Evert Dax seduces David Sparsholt at Oxford during the War. This is just a curtain raiser to the story of David's son Jonathan as a gay adolescent and man from the 1960s to the 2000s.

I enjoy Alan Hollinghurst's books while I'm reading them, but I sometimes wish the characters didn't all inhabit the same rather rarified social milieu.


52Robertgreaves
Edited: Nov 25, 10:00pm Top

Starting my No. 29, the next in Iain Pears's Jonathan Argyll series, The Titian Committee, which is my ninety-eighth ROOT for 2019.

53Robertgreaves
Nov 26, 4:06am Top

My No. 30 is the next in the series, The Bernini Bust, which is my ninety-ninth ROOT for 2019.

54Robertgreaves
Edited: Nov 26, 10:51pm Top

My review of The World of Late Antiquity:

A fascinating exploration of how the differences in population between the West and East of the Roman Empire even during the second century AD led to very different outcomes up to the Arab conquests and beyond.

55Robertgreaves
Nov 27, 4:08am Top

My No. 31 is the next in the series, The Last Judgement, which is my one hundredth ROOT for 2019.

My review of The Bernini Bust:

Jonathan Argyll is in Los Angeles, delivering a Titian to a private museum. Before he gets paid for it, though, the owner of the museum is killed, apparently to facilitate the theft of a Bernini bust another art dealer is delivering. Of course, it's all a bit more complicated and after Johnathan is involved in a car crash, Flavia is seconded to liaise with the Los Angeles police since the bust may have been smuggled out of Italy.

Another good twisty episode which kept a smile on my face. I thought I'd read the whole series before, but this one was new to me.

56Robertgreaves
Nov 29, 1:41am Top

My No. 32 is The Eyes of Aurora by Albert A. Bell Jr., which is my one hundred and first ROOT for 2019. I am reading it now for my online Reading Group.

57Robertgreaves
Dec 1, 8:12am Top

Reading plans for December:

58Robertgreaves
Edited: Dec 2, 8:51pm Top

Starting my No. 33, the next in the series, Fortune's Fool. This ebook is not a ROOT.

59Robertgreaves
Dec 2, 9:02pm Top

Starting my No. 34, the next in the series, The Gods Help Those by Albert A. Bell Jr.. This ebook is not a ROOT.

My review of Fortune's Fool:

While demolishing a 20-year-old wall on an estate he inherited from his father, Pliny finds a skeleton buried inside the wall. Who was it and why was it put there? Some people seem determined that he will not find out.

The 'who' was fairly obvious, though watching Pliny uncovering the 'why' was good fun. I could think of several ways out of the dilemmas in his personal life but of course he didn't ask my advice.

60Robertgreaves
Edited: Dec 3, 8:55pm Top

Starting my No. 35, A Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths. This ebook is not a ROOT but it does fit RandomCAT (D) and the AlphaKIT for the author.

My review of The Gods Help Those:

Pliny's Tiber-side warehouse is partially washed away during a storm and some bodies are found in the remains, including one whose mouth was sewn shut with thirty pieces of silver inside.

A good twisty whodunnit, but we've had paedophiles as the bad guys in the last three books, so perhaps that particular theme could be given a rest next time?

61Robertgreaves
Dec 5, 6:49pm Top

Starting my No. 36, the next in the Ruth Galloway series, The Outcast Dead. This ebook is not a ROOT but the author fits the AlphaKIT.

My review of A Dying Fall:

A friend from Ruth's student days dies in a house fire and the next day Ruth gets a snail mail from him saying that he has made a major archaeological discovery but is frightened and asking her to come and help verify the origins of a skeleton.

Very atmospheric with a tantalising air of menace from an unknown source. One quibble which may be just the ebook formatting, but some sort of typographical clue such as an extra line space or a row of asterisks when the scene changes would be helpful.

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