Bonnie (brenzi) Takes Another Stab at this Reading Thing - Part 4

Talk75 Books Challenge for 2019

Join LibraryThing to post.

Bonnie (brenzi) Takes Another Stab at this Reading Thing - Part 4

This topic is currently marked as "dormant"—the last message is more than 90 days old. You can revive it by posting a reply.

Nov 10, 2019, 10:28am

1. We have had a glorious fall here. Gorgeous weather and lots of fun activities. Here are a few:
The last one is Mia and her dad going to her first Father/Daughter Dance

Edited: Dec 31, 2019, 9:33am

Books Read in 2019


1. Darktown - Thomas Mullen - audio - 4.2 stars
2. The Overstory - Richard Powers - eBook - 5 stars
3. Evening in Paradise - Lucia Berlin - audio - ????
4. The Chosen - Chaim Potok - OTS - 4 stars
5. Friday on My Mind - Nicci French - Audio - 4 stars
6. The Pursuit Of Love - Nancy Mitford - OTS - 4.2 stars
7. Started Early, Took My Dog - Kate Atkinson - audio/OTS - 4.5 stars


8. The Bolter - Frances Osborne - OTS - 4.5 stars
9. Lightning Men - Thomas Mullen - audio - 4.4 stars
10. Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love - Dani Shapiro - eBook - 4.3 stars
11. How to be a Woman - Caitlin Moran - audio - 4 stars
12. The Word is Murder - Anthony Horowitz - audio - 4 stars
13. The Paragon Hotel - Lyndsay Faye - eBook - 4.2 stars


14. Bibliophile - Jane Mount - L - 4 stars
15. Love in a Cold Climate - Nancy Mitford - OTS - 4.3 stars
16. Where the Crawdads Sing - Delia Owen - audio - 4.2 stars
17. White Mischief - James Fox - eBook - 3.6 stars
18. Transit - Anna Seghers - OTS - translation -5 stars
19. Becoming - Michelle Obama - audio - 4.3 stars
20. Finn - Jon Clinch - eBook - 4.5 stars
21. Dark Saturday - Nicci French - audio - 4 stars
22. The Nun and the Priest: Love, Celibacy and Passion - Evelyn McLean Brady - OTS - 4.2 stars


23. Hons and Rebels by Jessica Mitford - eBook - 4.3 stars
24. The Unknown Ajax - Georgette Heyer - eBook - 4 stars
25. Milkman - Anna Burns - audio - ????
26. These Truths: A History Of the United States - Jill Lepore - eBook - 4.5 stars
27. Travels in Siberia - Ian Frazier - audio - 3.8 stars
28. My Sister the Serial Killer - eBook - 4 stars
29. Second Person Singular - Sayed Kashua - eBook - translation - 4.5 stars
30. Force Of Nature - Jane Harper - audio - 3.6 stars


31. Say Nothing - Patrick Radden Keefe - eBook - 4.2 stars
32. I'll Be Gone in the Dark - Michelle McNamara - audio - 3.6 stars
33. Something Like Breathing - Angela Readman - eBook - 4.2 stars
34. Sunday Silence - Nicci French - audio - 4 stars
35. West - Carys Davies - audio - 4.5 stars
36. English Passengers - Matthew Kneale - OTS - 5 stars
37. Good Evening Mrs. Craven - Mollie Panter-Downes- OTS - 4.3 stars
38. November Road - Lou Berney- audio - 4.4 stars
39. River Of Darkness - Rennie Airth - eBook - 4.2 stars
40. The Day Of The Dead - Nicci French - audio - 4 stars


41. The Blackhouse - Peter May - audio - 4.5 stars
42. The Heart's Invisible Furies - John Boyne - eBook - 5 stars
43. Vacationland - John Hodgman - audio - 3 stars
44. The Gentlewomen - Laura Talbot - OTS - 4.5 stars
45. The Lewis Man - Peter May - audio - 4.5 stars
46. Disappearing Earth - Julia Phillips - eBook - 4 stars
47. Faro's Daughter - Georgette Heyer - eBook - 4 stars


48. Fall and Rise: the Story Of 9/11 - Mitchell Zuckoff - eBook - 5 stars
49. The Wolf and the Watchman - Niklas Natt och Dag - audio - translation - 4.3 stars
50. Big Sky - Kate Atkinson - L - 4.3 stars
51. There, There - Tommy Orange - L - 4.5 stars
52. Beartown - Fredrik Backman - audio - translation - 3 stars
53. Women Talking - Miriam Toews - eBook - 4.1 stars
54. The Long And Faraway Gone - Lou Berney - audio - 4.2 stars
55. A Tale Of Love and Darkness - Amos Oz - OTS - translation -4.7 stars
56. The Long Take - Robin Robertson - audio - 4.5 stars
57. Good Talk - Mira Jacob - L - 4.5 stars
58. The Nickel Boys - Colson Whitehead - L - 4.5 stars
59. The Lost Man Jane Harper - audio - 4 stars


60. The Chessmen - Peter May - audio - 4 stars
61. A Good Man - Guy Vanderhaeghe - OTS - 4.2 stars
62. The Body Lies - Jo Baker - eBook - 4 stars
63. Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial Of Harper Lee - Casey Cep- audio - 4.2 stars
64. Lost Children Archive - Valeria Luiselli - eBook - 4.3 stars
65. The Siege Of Krishnapur - J.G. Farrell - OTS - 5 stars
66. City Of Girls - Elizabeth Gilbert - audio - 3 stars
67. The Sentence is Death - Anthony Horowitz - audio - 4.1 stars
68. The Sisters: The Saga Of the Mitford Family - MARY S. Lovell - eBook - 4.3 stars


69. Dear Mrs. Bird - AJ Pearce - audio - 3.9 stars
70. The Women Of The Copper Country - Mary Doria Russell - eBook- 4.5 stars
71. Garden Of Beasts - Erik Larson - OTS/audio - 4.0 stars
72. A Better Man - Louise Penny - L - 4.2 stars
73. Only Killers and Thieves - Paul Howarth - audio - 5 stars
74. Burmese Days - George Orwell - eBook - 4.2 stars
75. Mrs. Tim Of the Regiment - D.E. Stevenson - eBook - 3.8 stars
76. A Woman of No Importance - Sonia Purnell - audio - 4.5 stars
77. Ghost Wall - Sarah Moss - eBook - 3.5 stars
78. A Moveable Feast - Ernest Hemingway - L - 3.8 stars
79. Our House - Louise Candlish - audio - 4 stars
80. The Paris Wife - Paula McLain - OTS - 3.7 stars


81. The Dutch House - Ann Patchett - eBook - 4.2 stars
82. The Turn Of The Key - Ruth Ware - audio - 4.3 stars
83. The Horseman - Tim Pears - eBook - 4.3 stars
84. The Secrets We Kept - Lara Prescott - eBook - 3.8 stars
85. The Reluctant Widow - Georgette Heyer - eBook - 3.7 stars
86. Star of the North - D.B. John - audio - 3.5 stars
87. The Slaves of Solitude - Patrick Hamilton - OTS - 4.3 stars
88. They Called Us Enemy - George Takei - L - 4 stars
89. Conviction - Denise Mina - audio - 3.8 stars
90. The Space Between Us - Thrity Umrigar - eBook - 4 stars
91. Heartburn - Nora Ephron - audio - 2 stars


92. The Secrets Between Us - Thrity Umrigar - eBook - 4.5 stars
93. Ghost Soldiers - Hampton Sides - OTS/audio - 4.7 stars
94. The Wanderers - Tim Pears - L - 4.5 stars
95. A Train in Winter - Caroline Moorhead - audio - 4.3 stars
96. Dear Evelyn - Kathy Page - eBook - 4.3 stars
97. Five Days Gone - Laura Cumming - L - 4.2 stars
98. Ask Again, Yes - Mary Beth Keane - audio - 4.2 stars
99. The Ministry of Truth - Dorian Lynskey - audio - 3.8 stars
100. The Feast of the Goat - Mario Vargas Llosa - OTS - translation - 4 stars
101. The Johnstown Flood - David McCullough - audio - 3.8 stars
102. Mrs. Tim Carries On - D.E. Stevenson - eBook - 4 stars


103. Red at the Bone - Jacqueline Woodson - eBook - 4.1 stars
104. The Coroner's Lunch - Colin Cotterill - audio - 4 stars
105. In the Dream House - Carmen Maria Machado - L - 4.5 stars
106. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill - Abbi Waxman - audio - 3.7 stars
107. Guest House for Young Widows Azadeh Moaveni - eBook - 5 stars
108. Normal People - Sally Rooney - eBook - 4 stars
109. The Unpassing - Chia Chia Lin - audio - 3.7 stars
110. Hotel du Lac - Anita Brookner - eBook - 4.2 stars
111. Last Witnesses: An Oral History of the Children of World War II - Svetlana Alexievich - audio - translation - 4.3 stars
112. The Redeemed - Tim Pears - eBook - 4 stars
113. Olive, Again - Elizabeth Strout - eBook - 4.7 stars
114. Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk - Kathleen Rooney - audio - 4.2 stars
115. Cantoras - Carolina de Robertis - eBook - 4.3 stars
116. Thirty-three Teeth - Colin Cotterill - audio - 3.8 stars


Total Books: 116

Author Gender
Male: 45
Female: 67
Joint: 4

Author Status
Living: 95
Dead: 21

Publication Medium
Hardback: 15
Trade: 12
eBook: 40
Audiobook: 49

Fiction: 86
Nonfiction: 30

Library: 95
Mine: 21

Translation: 7

Edited: Nov 10, 2019, 10:56am


The Wanderers by Tim Pears

This is Book 2 in Pears’ West Country Trilogy and it continues on the same quiet, compelling trajectory as the first volume. Compulsively readable. It won’t be long before I pick up the third volume I’m sure.

Young Leo is on his own and trying to figure out how he will live his life with no resources. You know so well that he will find a way. In the meantime, Charlotte pines away for her Leo but there doesn’t seem to be a way for them to come together again. Or is there? WWI threatens.

4.5 stars

Edited: Nov 10, 2019, 11:00am


A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead

The train is heading for Birkenau in the early years of WWII. The passengers include 230 women of the French Resistance. This was an incredible audio of a horrific experience. Part One was about living in France and taking part in the Resistance. Struggling with the Vichy government as well as the resident German troops was bad enough but nothing in comparison to life in the camps as detailed in Part Two. These women watched as many of their number were beaten and tortured or died of deprivation, exposure, starvation and disease (typhus was common). And yet, they developed a bond that was incredibly durable. As Moorehead relates at the end of the narrative:

”They had learnt, they would say, the full meaning of friendship, a commitment to each other that went far deeper than individual liking or disliking; and they now felt wiser, in some indefinable way, because they had understood the depths to which human beings can sink and equally the heights to which it is possible to rise.”

A devastating portrait of an inconceivable experience.

4.3 stars

Edited: Nov 10, 2019, 10:59am

Currently Reading

Dear Evelyn by Kathy Page

Nov 10, 2019, 10:29am


Nov 10, 2019, 10:59am

And on audio

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Nov 10, 2019, 11:59am

Happy new thread, Bonnie

Nov 10, 2019, 2:13pm

>4 brenzi: A Train in Winter sounds heartbreaking. I’ve added it to my mile high wishlist.

Nov 10, 2019, 2:25pm

Happy Sunday, Bonnie. Happy New Thread. Love the family toppers. I will be watching for your thoughts on Ask, Again, Yes. Sounds good.

If you are looking for a dark true crime book on audio, please keep in mind, People Who Eat Darkness. It was terrific.

Nov 10, 2019, 4:18pm

Happy new one!

Nov 10, 2019, 4:45pm

Love your pictures!

Nov 10, 2019, 6:33pm

Happy new thread, Bonnie!
Lovely family pictures at the top.

Edited: Nov 10, 2019, 6:34pm

>8 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul!

>9 NanaCC: Yes Colleen, a very tough read but really compelling.

>10 msf59: Thanks Mark, I just added People Who Eat Darkness to my Overdrive list.

>11 figsfromthistle: Thank you Anita.

>12 mckait: Hey it's Kath. How are you? And thank you.

>13 FAMeulstee: Thanks so much Anita.

Nov 11, 2019, 9:18am

Happy New Thread, Bonnie. That's a sweet photo of Mia and her dad.

Good review of A Train in Winter. It sounds like a powerful book.

Nov 11, 2019, 9:52am

Happy new thread, Bonnie. What a beautiful family you have. The kids are growing so fast!

I loved Ask Again, Yes. I've had The Train in Winter on my TBR pile for a while. Now I want to push it to the top.

Nov 11, 2019, 10:57am

Happy new thread!

Nov 11, 2019, 2:53pm

Hi Bonnie - Mary Beth Keane is actually coming to our tiny little local library on 12/12 to talk about Ask Again, Yes. I really enjoyed it so I'm going to make every effort to go. Love your photo toppers!

Nov 11, 2019, 6:31pm

>15 jnwelch: Thanks Joe. I have no idea how Mia got old enough for a Father/daughter dance. She was just a little baby a few minutes ago lol. I will not soon forget A Train in Winter that's for sure.

>16 BLBera: Thanks Beth. I think you and Vivian are responsible for Ask Again, Yes being in my ears right now. Not very far into it yet but it's really compelling already.

>17 drneutron: Thanks Jim.

>18 vivians: Thanks Vivian, I would love to hear Mary Beth Keane speak. Lucky you.

Nov 11, 2019, 7:03pm

Hi Bonnie, hope you're well in this unseasonably cold sneak attack by the Canadians.

Nov 12, 2019, 6:25pm

>20 richardderus: Well Richard, apparently we broke a record here today: the lowest high temperature recorded on this date.....since they started keeping records. 25 degrees was the high today. Yah, that's how we do things here in Buffalo, not just cold but record shattering cold. Yah baby! And of course about half a foot of snow. That goes without saying lol.

Nov 14, 2019, 7:20pm


Dear Evelyn by Kathy Page

I have a real affinity for Canadian authors but Kathy Page is a new one for me. After reading her beautifully written novel about the love and marriage of Harry and Evelyn Miles I will be seeking out more of her work.

The title would lead you to believe that this is an epistolary novel but that's not really true. It does have some excerpts of letters, mostly Harry's letters to Evelyn from Egypt during WWII, letters that are actually, word for word, letters written by the author's father; but for the most part the novel is a regularly framed narrative that covers their 70 years of marriage.

Although Page definitely brings out the joy and struggle of raising a family in the middle of the 20th century, I found the sections describing the changes that a marriage goes through, even after dealing with difficulties in raising children, to be the most heartbreaking, and yet probably very common.

Towards the end of the book, Harry and Evelyn are quite elderly and facing the extreme challenges of aging. Evelyn is distraught:

"What no one seemed to understand was that he was not the man she had married. Not the man who had written those letters in the war, or come back from it and built the house....The fact was that things ended. She felt suddenly very weak, sat down on the bed, put her head in her hands and sobbed until there was not a sound left in her."

Harry's got a quite different take:

"Evelyn, Evelyn! He had loved her all his adult life, long after the gloss of their youth and it's illusions had been worn away and left them with the essentials of who they were, along with a collection of sometimes contradictory memories...He had never denied her anything, material or emotional, that he could provide, and what she desired now was his absence from her daily life. Evelyn! She was frightened by weakness. It did help considerably to understand her from the inside. To align himself in that way with her."

Beautifully written, heartbreaking but at the same time so realistic, I was completely absorbed by Harry and Evelyn's story. Very highly recommended.

4.3 stars

Nov 14, 2019, 8:08pm

Dear Evelyn sounds excellent, Bonnie. I will look for it.

Nov 15, 2019, 7:40am

Happy new thread, Bonnie!

Nov 15, 2019, 12:27pm

I finished a good work of nonfiction that I am recommending. Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University by Kevin Roose. I read it for the Nonfiction Challenge as part of the October challenge. I have a bit of history with this title, as I urged our collections person here at the library to purchase it when it came out in 2009. I am just now getting around to reading it, but it is a title that I highly recommend. You can read my full review of it on the October thread for the Nonfiction challenge. The short version is that this is a good look at life on a fundamentalist Christian campus that manages to stay objective, informative, and entertaining.

Nov 15, 2019, 12:28pm

I liked the pictures up top. It is fun to see what people are doing in their lives. You have really upped the number of books you are reading in September and October. Is that Buffalo weather keeping you indoors - or is it that with the kids back in school you have more time to read. :-)

Nov 15, 2019, 7:27pm

>24 katiekrug: I thought it was really good Katie.

>25 karenmarie: Thanks Karen.

>26 benitastrnad: You always seem to find excellent non-fiction Benita.

>27 benitastrnad: I have no idea why I read so many books in September and October Benita. I don't think the weather has anything to do with it and school has little effect on me so I don't think that's it. I guess it will remain a mystery lol.

Nov 16, 2019, 7:48pm

>22 brenzi: Whoo-ee! That's heartbreaking right there, and that's just a tiny taste. Lovely appreciation of the book.

Happy "who left the door to Canada open?!" weekend!

Nov 17, 2019, 1:24pm

Hi Richard, actually we've got a sunny day and 42 degrees right now and I just came back from a nice walk. It's beautiful out. And yes, Dear Evelyn was a real unexpected pleasure.

Nov 17, 2019, 1:42pm

Happy Sunday, Bonnie. A bit milder here too, but cloudy. Glad you got out for a stroll. How is your audio treating you?

Edited: Nov 17, 2019, 3:50pm


Five Days Gone: The Mystery of My Mother's Disappearance as a Child by Laura Cumming

"Photography gives us memories we hardly knew we had: the house where we were born, our infant selves, the embarrassing clothes we once wore. But the camera is also capable of giving us memories we cannot actually have because we were not there in the first place."

In 1929, the author's mother, Betty, disappeared from the beach near her home on the English coast. She was three years old. For five days no one could find her, leaving her adoptive parents frantic. This book is her daughter's effort to examine what was done and how it all unfolded as it all seemed to result in a life full of misery.

It's a beautiful book, filled with charming photographs and relevant artwork that I absolutely loved. And the mystery is carefully revealed through these pieces as well as letters and writings Betty contributed in the 1980s as she recalled certain events and people. It all comes together beautifully to unveil a life that could have been so different. Highly recommended.

This book is on the shortlist for the Baillie Gifford Prize for non-fiction writing, which I think will be awarded this week. Also on the shortlist, Furious Hours by Casey Cep, which I read earlier this year.

4.2 Stars

Nov 17, 2019, 3:53pm

>31 msf59: Hi Mark. I just finished my latest audio today and I'm working on some remarks right now. In a word, it was very good.

Nov 17, 2019, 4:13pm


Ask Again, Yes by Molly Keane (audio narrator - Molly Pope)

In 1973, two young New York City rookie cops become partners and in doing so end up having a lifelong connection involving their families, the Stanhopes and the Gleasons. That relationship is cemented when they end up being next door neighbors in the suburban community of Gillam.

The author did a yeoman's job of illustrating the problems that can overwhelm families today and although mental illness and alcoholism isn't found in every family, it's common enough that we all know families effected by it in one way or another. Very well done and compulsively readable.

4.2 stars

Nov 17, 2019, 4:22pm


The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas

And on audio:

The Ministry of Truth: the Biography of George Orwell's 1984 by Dorian Lynskey

Nov 17, 2019, 4:48pm

>34 brenzi: I'm so glad you liked Ask Again, Yes, Bonnie. I think the book also speaks about the importance of forgiveness.

I LOVED The Feast of the Goat -- although there are some really icky parts. I had to skim over those.

Nov 17, 2019, 5:03pm

>36 BLBera: yes you're right Beth. Forgiveness was a big part of it. I was running out of gas writing remarks for two books lol. I've had The Feast of the Goat on my shelf forever so I'm glad to finally get to it. I think it was Darryl who originally recommended it.

Edited: Nov 17, 2019, 5:08pm

Finally......Season three of The Crown is up on Netflix. I know what I'll be doing tonight and until I've gobbled down the whole thing lol.

Nov 18, 2019, 6:50am

>38 brenzi: we watched the first episode last night! We had time for one more but hubby thought we should spread them out rather than watching all at once. Harrumph.

Nov 18, 2019, 8:47am

>38 brenzi: amd >39 lauralkeet: - I was just over at Mark's thread where he mentioned The Crown. I'm trying to decide if I should binge it (and when?) or parcel the episodes out. I might do the latter to get me through to the next season of Mrs. Maisel next month :)

Nov 18, 2019, 10:40am

Poldark finished up last night and the Durrells of Corfu finished last week. It will be a few weeks for me before any TV series starts up again. THat is a shame as I have Christmas gifts to knit and tend to do that in front of the TV.

I just registered for Philadelphia ALA and will be looking for a roommate. I intend on getting one of the Conference hotels, which will make hauling books back and forth much easier. I will probably fly up late Friday and leave early on Monday morning. Would you be looking for a roommate for at least part of that time?

Nov 19, 2019, 6:23pm

>41 benitastrnad: I like to think I'll make it Benita. End of January could mean nasty weather so I'll have to see.. I may fly or take the train if I go.. I really haven't thought about it much but I'll have to do that now and let you know.

Edited: Nov 19, 2019, 8:18pm

>39 lauralkeet: and >40 katiekrug: I watched the first two episodes of The Crown Sunday night But I watched the last Poldark episode and the season finale of Press another PBS show that is really really good. I can't wait for the next season.

Nov 19, 2019, 7:10pm

Hi, Bonnie. I have never watched Poldark. I know many of my LT pals are loving it. Have not started season 3 of The Crown...yet.

Nov 19, 2019, 8:05pm

Netflix is great isn't it? There is though the real tendency to binge on it. I now watch my favourite series by series rather than episode which is surreal but strangely rewarding.

Nov 19, 2019, 8:36pm

>44 msf59: Well Mark, Poldark isn't my favorite series but I've watched every episode cuz ...PBS. I've enjoyed it and now it's done. I'm watching the third episode of this season of the a Crown as we speak.

>45 PaulCranswick: Yes Paul and so are Prime Video and Apple+ which I just got and of course HBO and Showtime....they're all great but I feeling a bit overwhelmed by them all. I try to find only the shows I know will appeal to me but sifting through everything gets tiresome.

Nov 20, 2019, 7:43pm

>45 PaulCranswick:
I don't understand the watching the whole series at once. Who has that kind of time? Or that kind of network access? Or that much electronic equipment? Answer - only those who live in cities.

Try streaming one episode out in Kansas and see how that goes.

Nov 21, 2019, 7:08pm

Well here's another one of those lists, if you're into that sort of thing bwahahaha 🤭

Nov 21, 2019, 7:12pm

>47 benitastrnad: Hi Benita, I lived in the country for over 40 years and know exactly what you're saying about streaming. I've been here in suburban Buffalo for four years now and I don't even have cable anymore. Just streaming, so it's pretty incredible to me. But also pretty great. Saving me a bundle too.

Nov 23, 2019, 12:53am

>48 brenzi: I love the lists! So helpful for adding to my wishlist -- just what I needed. 😃

Nov 23, 2019, 9:01am

>47 benitastrnad: I was slightly using an artistic licence, Benita, i.e. exaggerating somewhat!
There is a temptation to binge though.

>48 brenzi: That is a super link, Bonnie. 170 books in 17 categories and I haven't read a one of 'em yet!

Have a glorious weekend.

Nov 25, 2019, 6:06pm

>50 BLBera: >51 PaulCranswick: Happy to help you add to your burgeoning wishlists Beth and Paul.

Nov 25, 2019, 6:20pm


The Ministry of Truth by Dorian Lynskey

I didn't know an awful lot about George Orwell so this book was very interesting to me. The first part of the book delves into Orwell's early work and all the factors that helped to develop his eventual later work for which he is known, especially 1984. He was quite ill with tuberculosis in 1947 when he spent many months in a cottage in the Hebrides writing his most famous novel. His idea was that it was a criticism of Russia and even though he was a socialist, he recognized early on the horrors that Russia was inflicting on her people.

Towards the end of the book the author draws parallels to many of the things we're witnessing today with particular emphasis on the efforts of the Trump administration to make lies appear to be true ("alternative facts") and emphasizing Orwell's prescience. Highly recommended.

4 stars

Nov 25, 2019, 6:39pm

Good review of The Ministry of Truth, Bonnie. This one had completely escaped my radar, until now. Sounds quite interesting. Thanks.

Nov 25, 2019, 6:47pm


The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa

Set in the middle of the last century in the Dominican Republic, this historical fiction told the story of forty nine year old Urania who returns to her native country after thirty five years in the U.S. As she gets reacquainted with her family, including the father she despises, the story of life under the rule of the brutal dictator Generalissimo Rafael Trujillo is related. Chapters rotate between Urania's story and the story of the horrid reign of this dictator and the plans for his assassination and its aftermath.

A brilliant book that revealed horrors too many to list here and many of which I skimmed over, the narrative absolutely pulses with energy and had me wondering how far this pathetic man and his cronies went to achieve their dominance over the people he ruled with an iron fist.

I learned a lot about a time and era I was aware of but knew little about. That's what I love about excellent historical fiction and this was a fine example of that.

4.1 stars

Nov 25, 2019, 6:52pm

>53 brenzi: That sounds like a terrific read! If a little depressing.

Nov 25, 2019, 6:53pm

Up Next: a palate cleanser after reading about too much torture

Mrs. Tim Carries On by D. E. Stevenson

And on audio:

The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough

Nov 25, 2019, 6:56pm

>54 msf59: Hi Mark, the audio was very good. I think you'd enjoy it.

>56 richardderus: Yep Richard, very good and very depressing to realize what we're living through.

Nov 26, 2019, 6:38pm

Here's a question? Why are we still eating romaine lettuce?? Once more it is making people sick. Every single year it seems it makes people sick. I think I'm done with it. What is it with Romaine and never any other kind of lettuce? Enquiring minds want to know.

Edited: Nov 26, 2019, 7:23pm

Good review of The Feast of the Goat, Bonnie. I read it about 6 years ago and absolutely loved it. Sadly, it is the only Llosa I have read. Ridiculous, right?

ETA- I also really enjoyed The Johnstown Flood. McCullough is a national treasure.

Nov 26, 2019, 9:27pm

Hi Mark, I actually have two other Llosa's on my shelf: The War of the End of the World and Conversation in the Cathedral. I doubt I'll get to them in the very near future but hopefully at some point in time. He's a stellar writer. I don't know what took me so long.

I'm enjoying the McCullough.

Nov 27, 2019, 2:39pm

Bonnie - I also loved The War of the End of the World. I haven't read Conversation in the Cathedral. And I have several other Vargas Llosa books on my shelves!

Edited: Nov 27, 2019, 5:43pm

Happy Turkey Day! Rob's working, so I'll see him Friday. He's requested green goddess seafood rice for our dinner. Carrot cake with pineapple cream cheese frosting *drool* and whatever he brings to drink. And no effin' Old Stuff (my deeply unloved roommate, gone to visit his son in Connecticut)!! Yay!!

Nov 29, 2019, 3:03pm

>59 brenzi: Bonnie--Congrats on hitting 100!! And I hope any Turkey Day salads did not contain any Romaine lettuce. I don't know why that one always seems to be a problem. Anyhow, happy weekend.

Dec 1, 2019, 8:21am

Hi Bonnie, I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving! I just wanted to stop by and let you know that thanks to a Kindle promotion I now own a "box set" of the first three books in the Lymond Chronicies. I am ready to dive into them with you in January!!

Dec 1, 2019, 1:53pm

>62 BLBera: I'm thinking I'll try to get to another Llosa next year Beth. I also like the sounds of Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter so that could end up being next.

>63 richardderus: sounds like a wonderful menu Richard especial the carrot cake. One of my favorites.

>64 Berly: Thanks Kim. Isn't it odd? Why is it always Romaine? I've sworn it off before but always resumed buying it but it gets to be a real drag.

>65 lauralkeet: Great Laura. I'll be ready. Will it be your first book in January?

Dec 1, 2019, 2:14pm

>66 brenzi: It was all gone, except the carrot cake. To be fair, it wasn't my best carrot cake ever; but I finished it up with my coffee this morning, and enjoyed it just fine.

Dec 1, 2019, 2:21pm

Happy Sunday, Bonnie. I have been really enjoying your Bills. I hope they keep on truckin'...

I am glad to hear that Dr. Siri is putting a big smile on your face. The books will even get better, once you get used to these wonderfully, colorful characters.

Dec 1, 2019, 3:22pm


Mrs. Tim Carries On by D.E. Stevenson

Another delightful entry in the Mrs. Tim series, this time after the start of WWII and the blitz. I love the character development and even with the travails of the war on the home front, Mrs. Tim really does carry on quite well. Tim had a harrowing experience while at Dunkirk But all is well now as they get ready for the next stage in their lives. Good stuff.

4 stars


The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough

This audio, read by Edward Herman, told the story of the devastating flood in 1899 that took 2,000 lives and was the greatest man-made disaster in the history of the country. The blame lay ultimately with the dam on the property of the South Fork Hunting and Fishing Club, which was done on the cheap without the direction of engineers or anyone knowledgeable. And of course the club was owned by wealthy Pittsburgh businessmen. The devastation to the valley below as the flood took buildings and made projectiles of them that washed away houses and residents was told in horrifying details. The club was never held responsible in any way. Criminal really.

3.8 stars

Dec 1, 2019, 3:26pm

Currently Reading:

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

And on audio:

The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill

Dec 1, 2019, 3:40pm

>67 richardderus: I'm glad you could enjoy the final bit of it this morning Richard. I'm sure it was delicious. It was homemade after all.

>68 msf59: Hi Mark, we're savvy enough here in a Buffalo no to get too excited about the Bills. We've been let down too many times but somehow it feels a bit different this time. They are very entertaining at any rate. Yay for finally getting to Dr. Siri.

Go Bills!

Dec 1, 2019, 4:29pm

>66 brenzi: Will it be your first book in January?

I hadn't thought that far ahead yet, Bonnie, but at this point I don't think there's anything else jockeying for first position. Will it be your first read of 2020?

>70 brenzi: I just finished Red at the Bone last night. She's such an excellent writer. I am still pondering my review.

Dec 1, 2019, 6:53pm

>72 lauralkeet: Well Laura I'm pretty excited to start a series that may rival the Anthony Powell series so it probably will be my first read of the year unless some library hold comes up unexpectedly. I'm also excited to read American Dirt which I don't think is being released until January 21 so that won't be a problem so I'm going to plan on it being first.

Believe it or not Red at the Bone is my first Woodson but I'm loving it at the 74% point.

Dec 1, 2019, 8:51pm

Okay Bonnie, let's kick off the year with a new series!

I'm really glad to see you're loving Red at the Bone. I've also read and enjoyed Brown Girl Dreaming and Another Brooklyn. Brown Girl Dreaming is Woodson's autobiography in verse. It's technically YA but you'd never know it. It's really brilliant.

Dec 1, 2019, 9:21pm

Well I'm glad to see you point out the YA designation for Brown Girl Dreaming because that was the reason I didn't read it when it was making the rounds Laura. Now I'll add it to my list so thanks for that.

Dec 2, 2019, 6:33am

Happy to help, Bonnie!

Dec 2, 2019, 5:39pm

I wasn't a big fan of Brown Girl Dreaming. I found it disjointed.

Dec 2, 2019, 6:28pm

>76 lauralkeet: 😀

>77 benitastrnad: Thanks Benita. I don't usually read YA, practically never, but I may take a shot.

Dec 2, 2019, 6:52pm


Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

A beautifully written story about three generations of a Brooklyn family. When Iris and Aubrey engage in sexual relations as young teenagers, the result is the child Melody. What happens after her birth is the crux of the story. Lovely language and very short, this book could be read in a couple of sittings. Very well done character development.

4 stars

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 7:07pm

Yay for Cyber Monday. I just treated myself to a new Kindle Paperwhite. I had $38 left on a gift card and they offered $25 if I turned in my old one. The price was reduced to $85 today so I'm practically getting it for nothing. How could I pass that up? There's nothing wrong with mine but it's five years old so who knows how much longer the battery will hold up. Yay me🤗🤗

ETA: I'll get $5 toward an eBook too.

Currently Reading:

In the Dream House by Carmen Marie Machado

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 9:25pm

>80 brenzi: Hmm. Tempting. I have a Nook that is 11 years old and the battery doesn't really hold a charge very well anymore...

>79 brenzi: I also loved Red at the Bone. I did wish it were longer. I wanted more of the family.

Dec 3, 2019, 2:54am

>80 brenzi: Yay for the new paper white!!

>79 brenzi: This one keeps getting good reviews. And I look Woodson. Fine!! Book bullet.

Dec 3, 2019, 12:42pm

I am deep into reading Personality Brokers by Merve Emre and finding it fascinating. How two housewives with no psychological training come up with a test that is used so ubiquitously and that somehow believe has the answers to happiness, or at least job satisfaction. It is not a long book, so if you can find a copy, it might be good reading. I'll know more when I finish the book.

Dec 3, 2019, 7:21pm

>81 BLBera: Yes Beth it could've been longer. I think I would've liked that too.

>82 Berly: Book bullet provided free of charge Kim lol.

>83 benitastrnad: Personality Brokers sounds fascinating Benita. I'll have to look for it.

Dec 6, 2019, 8:36am

Just catching up, Bonnie. RL issues. I’m glad you are still enjoying Mrs Tim. The Johnstown Flood was an amazing book. When the dam broke, McCullough took you along as if you were drowning in that rush of water.

Dec 6, 2019, 8:17pm

Hi Colleen, I think I was a bit distracted when I was listening to The Johnstown Flood plus I'd seen a documentary about it that somehow recreated a lot of the drama. Otherwise I would've rated it higher.

Mrs. Tim has been absolutely delightful.

Edited: Dec 6, 2019, 8:47pm

So I finished two books recently.


The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill

I have no idea why I've waited so long to start this series. I was tempted to go on immediately to the next book....yes, that's how much I enjoyed it. As it happened, I was making Christmas cookies when I started to listen to it and I found myself laughing out loud and I had to stop what I was doing and tell Mark how much I was enjoying it because he was the one who said I had to listen to the audio. I really hope they used the same narrator on the books going forward.

At any rate, Dr. Siri is a coroner in Laos in the 1970s, trying to function with very few resources, as the bodies pile up. He somehow has several cases that are very suspicious. I assume this will continue throughout the series which is at fifteen books right now. That's a lot of suspicious death relying on the coroner to figure out whodunit.

Anyway, it's the characters that really shine. I love these characters especially the two lab assistants Dr. Siri has. Dr. Siri himself is a septuagenarian, a widower, who should be retired but the Communist government has sort of insisted that he be the chief coroner for the country so he's stuck. His sarcasm and flippant attitude about the most mundane elements of his job and Laotian life in general are just priceless. It won't be long until I tee up the next one.

4 stars

Dec 6, 2019, 9:54pm


In the Dream House by Carmen Marie Machado

I knew absolutely nothing about this book before I read it except that it was a memoir on several end of the year "best of" and was getting rave reviews. I like to go into books with little knowledge to avoid, well, you know.....spoilers of any kind. Sometimes this leads to all sorts of eye opening reading experiences. This was one of them.

It seems that Machado has created a new sort of genre with this book that relates her experiences with with an abusive partner as they worked through a lesbian relationship. To cut to the chase, Machado has set up a most unusual format for this memoir in which she she is blindingly honest in her explanation of exactly how she managed to get through what was obviously a horrific experience for her. And she doesn't hide the fact that she could've, should've gotten out of the relationship several times but somehow couldn't do it. It made me feel that she was so real, so human, because I could picture myself doing something very much like that.

The writing is beautiful and I could hardly stop reading wondering how long she would put up with this woman who was making her life hell. The format, as I mentioned, is very unusual. She compared the Dream House, where they thought they would be so happy, to a number of tropes and headed each section of the book with that metaphor: Dream House as Confession, as Bildungsroman, as Noir, as Here Comes the Bride, as High Fantasy, as Doppleganger, as Demonic Pissession, as Unreliable Narrator and on and on. Absolutely brilliant. And somehow left me feeling unexpectedly hopeful and joyful. Very highly recommended.

4.5 stars

Dec 6, 2019, 10:10pm

Guest House for Young Widows by Azadeh Moaveni

And on audio:

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

Dec 7, 2019, 9:03pm

Just dropping by to wish my Queen of the Reviews a splendid weekend.

Dec 8, 2019, 9:56pm

>90 PaulCranswick: oh my I don't think I'm much of a queen in that regard anymore Paul. I sometimes barely eek out a few sentences.

Dec 9, 2019, 2:30pm

I don't know whether I can stick it out through the abuse as a reader, but you've sure got me thinking about reading In the Dream House. I've seen a lot of end-of-the-year picks and raves, too.

Dec 9, 2019, 6:15pm

If it helps Joe, there is really no physical abuse but the emotional abuse was awful. At least as far as I'm concerned. She pointed out that there is very little that's been written about the abuse that takes place in lesbian relationships and I have to say it just never occurred to me. But of course there would be because...human beings.

Dec 9, 2019, 9:13pm

Wow! You are reading some top-notch books, Bonnie, although I am not surprised at all. I hope to get to Red at the Bone in the coming weeks. I have been hearing some great stuff about In the Dream House, but you have sealed the deal. I really enjoyed her story collection.

I am so glad you had such a good time with Dr. Siri & Co. And yes, the same audio narrator does all the books. Yah!

Dec 10, 2019, 8:00am

>93 brenzi: funny thing, Bonnie. I've just finished reading Girl, Woman, Other (which was excellent) and it, too, presented me with many things that I was not aware of or had never given thought to. Including abuse in a lesbian relationship. I like your take on it: But of course there would be because...human beings.

Dec 10, 2019, 2:27pm

But of course there would be because...human beings. I love that, too!

It does help that there's no physical abuse. I really have to gear up to make it through those. Not that emotional abuse is a walk in the park, but it's not quite as daunting for me as a reader.

I just read a Toi Derricotte poetry collection in which she was physically abused by her father. Tough going, but it helped that she was looking back after his death, from a mature survivor perspective.

Dec 10, 2019, 8:17pm

>94 msf59: Hi Mark, yay for Dr. Siri and yay for perfect narrators. I'm almost finished with Guest House for Young Widows and it will be on my list of best books for this year. It's NNF at its best.

I haven't read Her Body and Other Parties but I've added it to my Overdrive list.

>95 lauralkeet: Thanks Laura, I'm looking forward to Girl, Woman Other. And guess what? I just came back from dinner with friends and guess what I had.....a French 75. Very tasty. No one else had ever heard of it.

>96 jnwelch: Hi Joe, Machado is looking back also but not after anyone's death. But I agree that physical abuse is hard to take. It was what spoiled Ghost Wall for me earlier this year.

Dec 10, 2019, 10:01pm

>97 brenzi:
I love French 75's. The best one I had was at one of John Besh's restaurants in New Orleans. The restaurant was Luc, and it was very tasty. The second best one I had was at McCormick and Schmidt's in Seattle, WA. That one was huge and tasty.

Dec 11, 2019, 6:40am

>97 brenzi: Excellent! I'm glad you liked it, Bonnie. I'd never heard of a French75 either, until Katie (katiekrug) mentioned them here. And no one in my "real life" circle had ever heard of them either. The few times I've ordered one, I've always asked the bartender, "Can you make a French75?" in case it's something they, too, have never heard of!

Dec 11, 2019, 9:37am

Loving all the French 75 love! :D

Dec 11, 2019, 6:32pm

>98 benitastrnad: >99 lauralkeet: >100 katiekrug: Hi Benita, Laura and Katie, I asked the waitress if they made the French 75 and she was surprised by the question. Yeah of course we do. The people at the table had never heard of it nor had they ever heard of LT nor do they read much. These were pickleball Friends.

Dec 11, 2019, 6:47pm


The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

Pure candy. Nina Hill is a young woman who suffers from anxiety, works in a book store, and plans every moment of every day down to the second. She schedules her reading like most people schedule their sleep. Most of us could relate to this but Nina is definitely compulsive. Things rain down on her in torrents: she discovers her father, whom she's never met, left her an inheritance and she has quite a large extended family, she's fallen for a man and hasn't any idea how to schedule time for him, and her employer is having trouble keeping the lights on in her book store. She may lose her lease.

I like mixing in a light read or two every month and this was a perfect audio for that purpose. Delightful.

3.7 stars

Dec 11, 2019, 7:34pm


Guest House for Young Widows by Azadeh Moaveni

"The caliphate suffered an abundance of widows, and widows, as everyone knows, are especially prone to envy. If the widows were widows twice or even thrice over, as was the case with many women, the problem of envy took on monstrous dimensions. To be a widow in the Islamic State was to be condemned to a rough, deprived existence in a guest house for widows."

I read this whole book thinking it was written by a man. Wrong. A young Californian/Iranian woman wrote it. And it's brilliant. I mean absolutely brilliant. I knew so little about ISIS and the war in Syria that you'd think I never read the news. But I do read the news. Pretty much everyday. And yet I didn't know sooooo much.

Do any of you remember seeing video in 2014 of some very young Muslim women in Heathrow getting ready to board a plane to Turkey and eventually arrive in Syria to participate in the war as part of the Islamic State? I saw the video many times. It never occurred to me to sympathize with the mothers of those very young girls. It never dawned on me that anyone so young could up and leave home and go to war. But they did. Unbelievably that's exactly what they did.

They weren't the only ones. Moaveni traces the lives of several of these young women. They came from Tunisia, Libya, Iraq, London, Germany, Turkey and Syria. They end up being forced into marriage, and having as many children as they could, and waiting, then, for the return of their husbands from the battlefield, or, worse, the notification that their husband was killed on the battlefield. And then, when they no longer had a husband, the grueling life of a widow, with children, who will be expected to marry the next ISIS soldier who is "assigned" to her. Horrible suffering.

And in the end, guess what? They're stuck in a camp in Turkey or Iraq living with their children because their country will not take them back. Some of them end up in prison. It's all pretty awful. And the author tries to detail why it all happened, the poverty and disrespect that many of them felt they could no longer tolerate and forced them to move on to the battlefield where they hoped to make a better life for themselves.

As I said, absolutely brilliant. Narrative non-fiction at its best. And very highly recommended.

5 stars

Dec 11, 2019, 7:41pm


Normal People by Sally Rooney

And on audio:

The Unpassing by Chia Chia Lin

Dec 11, 2019, 8:57pm

Good good good, enjoying the reads, deee-lighted as TR used to say. Yep.

So, happy weekend ahead!

Dec 12, 2019, 8:03am

>103 brenzi: wow, that sounds really interesting, Bonnie. I'll keep it in mind.

Dec 12, 2019, 4:12pm

Yay for The Bookish Life of Nina Hill! I found it delightful, too.

Dec 12, 2019, 9:18pm

>105 richardderus: I'm coming to the end of a phenomenal year of reading Richard🤗

>106 lauralkeet: You might like it Laura.

>107 jnwelch: I think I had a smile on my face most of the time I listened to it Joe. Thanks for the recommendation.

Dec 14, 2019, 6:51pm


Normal People by Sally Rooney

This is the story of two teenagers who come from much different social classes in a small town in Ireland. Connell's mother works as a cleaner for Marianne's family and it would seem they have little in common. They get to know each other, initially, when Connell comes to pick his mother up at Marianne's house. But it leads to a deep friendship between the very popular Connell and the very oddball and shunned Marianne. Although they have a very unusual relationship, they remain friends when they both continue on to Trinity College in Dublin. But the most interesting piece of this very well done narrative happens when they've settled into college life and things seem to change somehow.

Rooney is a new author to me but this novel really had me thinking about these characters, the anxiety that goes along with being young and navigating the rituals of living in a community that doesn't accept everyone for what they are. Really well done. And highly recommended.

4 stars

Dec 14, 2019, 7:00pm

Happy Saturday, Bonnie. Great review of Guest House for Young Widows. Big Thumb! I will add it to my audio list. I have seen very little LT activity on Normal People, so I am glad to hear you enjoyed it. I think I might also like to try that one.

What is up next for you?

Dec 15, 2019, 9:22am

What a lot of great books you've been reading, Bonnie. In the Dream House definitely goes on my list. Luckily I've already read and loved Normal People -- Rooney's portrayal of characters is brilliant, isn't it?

Guest House for Young Widows also sounds wonderful. It looks like I have some great nonfiction reads ahead.

Dec 15, 2019, 3:39pm

>110 msf59: Thanks Mark, I think Guest House for Young Widows would be good on audio but there are a lot of names to get straight so you might want to have a print edition handy. On the other hand, you're the audio expert lol.

>111 BLBera: I have had a phenomenal year of reading Beth, my best ever I think. Guest House for Young Widows will be one of my top reads for sure.

Rooney is really good at characterization and that subtle change in narrative was very thought provoking. I need to read her earlier novel Conversations with Friends.

Dec 15, 2019, 3:45pm

Currently Reading:

Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner

And on audio:

Last Witnesses: An Oral History of the children of World War II by Svetlana Alexievich

Dec 15, 2019, 4:00pm


The Unpassing by Chia Chia Lin

I finished listening to this one yesterday and well, in a word, bleak. The only thing that relieved the bleakness was the narration by eleven year old Gavin. A Taiwanese family living in Alaska suffers one hardship after another. Mother, father and four children are struggling to get by when Gavin comes down with meningitis at the same time that the Challenger explodes taking its astronauts to their deaths. He wakes from a coma to discover the loss of the Challenger and also the loss of his sister Ruby who died from complications of meningitis. Life goes downhill from here, if you can imagine. I kept hoping for some light, some hope and just didn't find it. So although the writing was terrific and the story compelling, I was looking for more. I was drawn to the story because of the unusual setting and characters and that very setting added to its bleakness. I'm still glad I read it I was just looking for some hope I guess.

3.7 stars

Dec 17, 2019, 4:57pm

I get this newsletter on a semi regular basis and this so clearly identifies why I don't think much of the end of the year lists that I thought I would post the link here. See if you don't agree with her as much as I do.

Dec 17, 2019, 6:39pm


Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner

You will love this book if this is the kind of book you like lol. By that I mean it's a quiet, thought provoking, character study kind of book loaded with long beautiful poetic sentences and a dollop of humor thrown in for good measure. I love this kind of book and have found a new favorite writer. Brookner, who died in 2016, won the Booker Prize in 1984 for this book which was one of her early novels. She wrote a total of 24 novels and all but one are available from Overdrive so I now have a plan for next year's reading.

Edith Hope, a writer of romantic fiction books, is in residence at the elite Hotel du lac in Switzerland. The reason for her stay is murky but we learn pretty early on that there has been an incident that seemed to force her here. It's the off season and within a few weeks the hotel will close until next year's new season starts so there are only a few guests.

We get to know these guests fairly well because Edith is an observer of human nature. And so is Anita Brookner. Discovering the secrets that lie within the hearts of both Edith and the other guests is an integral part of the book. Things are not always as they seem.

"Taking coffee in the salon, Edith found herself treated a little distantly by Mrs. Pusey. Perhaps her return earlier that evening with Mr. Neville had been noted, and filed away without comment. In any event, Edith was obliged to listen to Mrs. Pusey's plans, which were, as usual, extensive, without being awarded any interest in her own. Reciprocity was a state unknown to Mrs. Pusey, whose imperative need for social dominance, once assured by her beauty and the mute presence of an adoring husband, had now to be enforced by more brutal means."

I am so happy to have found a new author who, it seems, hit all the right notes for me. Very highly recommended.

4.2 stars

Edited: Dec 17, 2019, 8:09pm

The Redeemed by Tim Pears

Dec 17, 2019, 7:53pm

>115 brenzi: - I pretty much agree. I'll peruse a few lists, usually the ones that come out first, but you do start to see all the same titles over and over.

I do like the NPR Book Concierge list because (a) they include A LOT of titles; and (b) you can filter it multiple ways to find the perfect food-themed romance novel featuring a gay couple (or whathave you) :)

Dec 17, 2019, 9:47pm

Hi Katie, I guess I like to read a lot of old books and books that are on my shelves and these end of year lists just make me realize there are a lot of great books out there that I just will not ever get to read because well there's just not going to be enough time before I expire lol. And it also creates anxiety for me trying to determine which books on which lists I should really make an effort to get to. Oh well, certainly a lot of worse problems to have.

I didn't realize the massive NPR list had filters you could use. That could certainly be useful.

Dec 18, 2019, 12:02am

>115 brenzi: I think her analysis of end-of-the-year book lists is spot on. But that's why I try to take a look at several of them, so I get a bigger pool of books. Not that I need more books. It just kinda happens. ; )

Dec 18, 2019, 6:55am

First of all, I am so glad to see a new Anita Brookner fan! Hotel du Lac was my introduction to her as well, and it's so darn good. Brookner, like Penelope Lively, is someone whose books I snap up whenever I find them in used bookshops. Your review reminds me I have one waiting on my TBR shelf. Yay.

>115 brenzi: I liked the article you posted. I look at those lists as flawed and incomplete, but harmless fun for book lovers. But I hadn't thought about how problematic they would be for authors, that's a real downside. I don't have a single go-to list, preferring instead to read lots of them and get that bigger pool Kim mentions (although as the article states there's a lot of repetition, due to publicity budgets and such). Like Katie, I also really like the NPR Book Concierge because it's a huge list and the filters are fun to play with.

Dec 18, 2019, 8:54pm

>120 Berly: I think a "bigger pool of books" happens automatically to everyone in this group Kim lol. That's the beauty of this group. The best book recommendations! Yay for us. I think it's sort of fun to see what the so called experts think I guess. That's what I think about the lists.

>121 lauralkeet: How in the heck am I so late coming to Brookner, Laura? I feel like I sleep walked through the last 40 years or so. When she mentioned "milky drinks" at one point in the book I thought shades of Barbara Pym! And as you know, I absolutely love Barbara Pym and I'm planning to reread all of her books in
2023, if I'm still alive lol. Anyway, I've found Brookner now and I'm planning to read a book every month next year. We'll see how that plan goes. I never got to the last volume of the J.G. Farrell trilogy this year which is what I had planned. Plans! Hahaha

As far as the lists go, I like looking at them and seeing what is considered the best I guess. But I also feel pressured by their appearance instead of gratified and that's frustrating.

Dec 18, 2019, 11:20pm

>115 brenzi: I agree, Bonnie. All the lists start to look the same after a while. I feel like I get more than enough recommendations from my LT buddies.

Dec 19, 2019, 6:12pm

>123 BLBera: I can't keep up with the recommendations I get here on LT Beth. It's just incredible. Or incredibly great, I should say lol.

Dec 19, 2019, 6:43pm


Last Witnesses: An Oral History of the Children of World War II by Svetlana Alexievich

If you ever get in the doldrums and sit around feeling sorry for yourself about one First World problem or another, read this book to give you a better perspective of what it means to lose so so much. Heartbreaking doesn't begin to cover it. I listened to the audio and it was just excellent as the narrators took the parts of different Russians who survived the war when they were children. Barely.

It's not the first time I've read about people consuming their pets because they were in a state of starvation (see City of Thieves) but it is the first time I've heard actual first person descriptions of it. The children in the narration were aged from about four to early teens during the war. But believe me, they had no childhood; they were all adults regardless of their age because the horrific events they lived through took away any semblance of childhood.

This is a good book to keep in mind as we watch video footage of the innumerable war situations all over the world and consider the suffering of the children, especially the children.

4.2 stars

Dec 19, 2019, 6:47pm

Next up on audio......something a lot lighter I hope

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney

Dec 19, 2019, 7:50pm

Good review of Last Witnesses, Bonnie. I will add it to the list. I really enjoyed Lillian Boxfish and thought the audio was delightful. I hope you feel the same.

Dec 20, 2019, 2:33am

>126 brenzi: You should have fun with this one. She's a character!

Dec 20, 2019, 8:46am

Agreed re Lillian Boxfish - and it sounds like audio will add to it.

Dec 20, 2019, 9:40pm

>127 msf59: Thanks Mark, I'm only 10% in and I'm intrigued by the narrators voice and narration. I have a feeling she's going to be the perfect narrator with the perfect voice for a woman in her 80s who has seen it all.

>128 Berly: I think it is going to be fun Kim. You're right.

>129 jnwelch: I hope the audio was the right choice Joe. Mark is usually right about that lol.

Dec 21, 2019, 3:49pm

>126 brenzi: What a fun read that was!

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

Dec 22, 2019, 1:40pm

I started reading Last Witnesses and when I realized an audio format was available, I switched to that. I thought it was much more effective on audio. I liked the varied readers. And the stories are heartbreaking.

Edited: Dec 22, 2019, 5:00pm

>133 brenzi: Thanks Richard. What an interesting Santa story.

>132 BLBera: Yes the readers were just excellent Beth. It's interesting how an audio book can actually be better than a print book but it's absolutely true.

Edited: Dec 22, 2019, 6:47pm


The Redeemed by Tim Pears

This was the last volume of The West Country Trilogy. Leo is in the Royal Navy at the start of the book and Lottie is learning to be a veterinarian. Throughout the book the big question is....will they ever get together. As usual, Pears does not rush anything. Everything unfolds in a slow, detailed manner just as the first two volumes. Patience is the key.

I'm not sure why I enjoyed such a slow moving narrative but I certainly did. Leo had such a variety of experiences and Lottie had a goal in mind and worked hard for it. They both were such well rounded and full characters but the main character, for the most part, was the land that was so important to them both. Very good reading.

4 stars

Dec 22, 2019, 6:18pm

Up next:

Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout

Dec 22, 2019, 6:42pm

Happy Sunday, Bonnie. I hop you enjoy Olive, Again, as much as I did. Strout has been on a very nice roll. How has your weather been? We have hit a mild stretch here in the Midwest, and it feels wonderful.

Dec 23, 2019, 4:03pm

Hi Bonnie - I'm also going to begin Olive, Again soon. And I did love the West Country Trilogy. The Walter Scott Historical Prize list (which is how I heard about the Tim Pears trilogy) has provided a whole slew of great titles and I eagerly look forward to it every spring.

Hope you have a very merry Christmas with lots of family time!

Edited: Dec 23, 2019, 9:54pm

>136 msf59: Hi Mark, I may be enjoying Olive, Again even more than Olive Kitteridge believe it or not.

We're having very mild weather here too.

>137 vivians: Yes Vivian, I have you to thank for The West Country Trilogy so thank you. I'll have to pay closer attention to the Walter Scott Prize because historical fiction is by far my favorite genre. I usually will read a couple of books from it but I really should concentrate on it more.

I hope you're getting in a lot of grandmother time 🤗

Dec 24, 2019, 2:23am

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

Dec 24, 2019, 10:05am

Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

Dec 24, 2019, 1:31pm

Hi Bonnie!

>138 brenzi: I loved Olive, Again as much or more as Olive Kitteridge.

Dec 24, 2019, 3:36pm

Have a great holiday, with the family, Bonnie.

Dec 25, 2019, 8:36pm

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

Dec 26, 2019, 1:12pm

>139 SandDune: And best wishes to you and yours Rhian for the very happiness of New Years.

>140 ChelleBearss: Thank you Chelle and I hope Santa was good to your two little darlings.

>141 karenmarie: Happy New Year Karen and lets just say Olive exceeded my expectations.

>142 msf59: Thank you Mark and Happy New Year to you and your lovely family.

>143 PaulCranswick: Happy New Year Paul. Let's hope 2020 is stress free.

Dec 27, 2019, 12:09am

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

Dec 27, 2019, 6:17pm


Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

I didn't expect to like this Olive sequel as much as I did but I must say Olive is better than ever as she proceeds well into her eighties and faces the travails of aging in typical Olive fashion. You already know she pulls no punches and tells you just what she thinks, whether you want to hear it or not. Many people don't but that doesn't deter her. These linked stories are filled with typical Maine characters, the ones we've come to expect from Strout. My fondest wish is that Frances McDormund chooses to reprise her Olive character once more and this book ends up as another miniseries. If not, well we all lose I guess.

4.7 stars

At the same time, coincidentally, I was listening to another book about another outspoken woman, in her 80s.


Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney

I enjoyed this New Year's Eve walk in 1984 with Lillian Boxfish as she traveled one end of Manhattan to the other and along the way detailed many of the experiences of her very very full life. It's hard to believe all the people she interacted with in just one night. Her adventures as an advertising copywriter in the 30s for Macy's, her experiences as a published poet, her marriage and subsequent divorce from the man of her dreams, being forced from her job as a married woman because she is expecting a child, her experiences fighting off severe depression.....Lillian really has seen it all. And after this very full life she caps it off with this meandering walk through the city she loves.

I expected this to be a light read but it's not really that because Lillian's life is not without its challenges. Like the city she travels, her life is one of change and I was glad to tag along with her.

4 stars

Dec 27, 2019, 6:18pm

>145 Berly: Thanks Kim. And 🥳 Happy New Year to you too.

Dec 27, 2019, 6:32pm

One of my book groups read Olive, Again this month and our meeting was just one long "isn't it wonderful" discussion. It's soo good! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Like you, I'm hoping for more of the TV series.

Dec 27, 2019, 6:42pm

>148 lauralkeet: I guess there won't be any more Olive Laura so we'll have to be happy with what we've got. I may rewatch the HBO series in hopes that it'll happen again lol.

Edited: Dec 27, 2019, 7:13pm

Currently reading:

Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis

And on audio:

Thirty-three Teeth by Colin Cotterill

Dec 27, 2019, 7:25pm

I hope you're having a wonderful holiday, Bonnie. I hope to read Olive, Again soon. I want to read the Tim Pears trilogy as well. I have the first one on my shelves... Maybe in 2020?

Dec 28, 2019, 6:15pm

Plenty of time in 2020 for you to get to all of those Beth. I've set some pretty audacious reading plans for my self for next year but I'm particularly horrible at carrying through on that type of thing so we'll have to see how it pans out.

Dec 28, 2019, 7:25pm

Count me among Lillian Boxfish's fans! What a pleasure the old salt was. I appreciate interesting old people, as I am now one myself, more and more.

Dec 28, 2019, 10:01pm

Hi, Bonnie! Hooray for Olive, Lillian & Dr. Siri!! I am so glad you enjoyed Olive, Again so much, even more than I did. Strout Rocks! Lillian Boxfish was a nice surprise to me too.

Sorry, for the delay on my mini-review of American Dirt. It is forthcoming, but I just want to let you know, it will probably be 5 stars. Great stuff.

Dec 29, 2019, 1:41pm

>154 msf59: Hi Mark, no worries. Your review was worth the wait.

It was interesting that I read two books at the same time, about relatively similar women, both outspoken, in their 80s, up and down life experiences, and fascinating in every way.

Dec 29, 2019, 4:30pm

Happy holidays!

Dec 29, 2019, 5:43pm

I’m really looking forward to Olive, Again, Bonnie. I hope to snag a copy soon. And I’ll give another cheer for Lillian. I loved that book. I’m glad you did too.

Dec 29, 2019, 8:46pm

>153 richardderus: Ooops almost missed you up there Richard. And you're right, I like reading about old people cuz...well..I'm really old lol.

Dec 29, 2019, 8:49pm

>156 tymfos: Hi there Terri and Happy Holidays to you too.

>157 NanaCC: I think you'll love Olive, Again Colleen. And Lillian was just great wasn't she. What a great character.

Dec 29, 2019, 9:10pm

Hi Bonnie, as the year winds down I thought I'd check in and say I'm ready to join you in reading The Lymond Chronicles. Do you still plan to make the first book (The Game of Kings) your first read of the new year?

Dec 30, 2019, 2:45am

Bonnie, I am also a Lillian Boxfish fan. It was a deeper look at her life than I expected.

Happy New Year to you and your family.

Dec 30, 2019, 8:47am

>160 lauralkeet: Yes Laura, that's what I'm planning. It'll be a push to finish Cantoras by tomorrow night but I think I can do it. I should be ready to start The Game of Kings on Wednesday

>161 Oregonreader: Hi Jan and Happy New Year to you! I was expecting of a light read but Lillian was a force of nature, wasn't she?

Dec 30, 2019, 9:22am

>162 brenzi: Great, thank you Bonnie! I'm ready too. 😀

Dec 30, 2019, 12:02pm

Hi Bonnie - I'll join you for The Game of Kings as well! The series has been on my list for a long time. I'm planning to listen, although it's quite a long one.

I really enjoyed Cantoras so I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Happy new year!

Dec 30, 2019, 12:14pm

>164 vivians: hurray! I'll be reading on Kindle. I bought the first 3 books in what Amazon described as a "boxed set." I'm still looking for the box LOL.

Dec 30, 2019, 12:18pm

Ack! You all are tempting me with the Dunnett. I have it in paperback and the library has it for Kindle, so I might borrow it and see how I get on with it...

Dec 30, 2019, 8:18pm

>163 lauralkeet: >164 vivians: >165 lauralkeet: >166 katiekrug: come on down! They're all available at the library/Overdrive so........

Edited: Dec 30, 2019, 10:38pm

Hi Bonnie. I think the Tim Pears trilogy sounds right up my alley. I've put The Horseman on hold at the library.

And I admit that The Game of Kings has my attention. Scotland, for a starting point....

Dec 31, 2019, 3:42am

>146 brenzi: Olive, Again is on my list for sure!

Dec 31, 2019, 9:39am

>168 EBT1002: Hi Ellen, the Tim Pears trilogy is a quiet sort of story that packs a punch I think. I have Vivian to thank for that. I'm excited to be starting Game of Kings.

>169 Berly: Hi there Kim, Olive, Olive and more Olive I say lol.

Edited: Jan 1, 2020, 8:56am


Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis

"A cantora," Flaca said, flopping another fish into the clean pile, "is a woman who sings"......"A woman like us, Malena said." (Page 37)

This is a book you can really sink into and allow yourself to be completely engrossed by the story. I knew little about Uruguay in the late 70s but it was another brutal dictatorship in South America, the second I've read about this year. This story highlights the horrors of being a queer woman at this time. Not only was the government against you but so were a great number of the populace. It wasn't something easily admitted to, so when five lesbian women somehow find each other and gather together enough money to purchase a shack on a squirt of land on the Atlantic coast where they have the freedom to be themselves.....well, it just was so uncommon an idea that they managed to pull it off.

The book details their individual lives and I came to admire their tenacity and ability to create a loving family, complete with all the warts that may be found in any family, but fiercely loyal. The shack on the Atlantic coast provided a warm respite from the horrors of the dictatorship in Montevideo, the capital city where they all got their start. I really enjoyed my time with Paz, La Venus, Romina, Flaca and Malena.

Beautifully written, historical fiction at its best, and highly recommended.

4.3 stars

Edited: Dec 31, 2019, 10:22am


Thirty-three Teeth by Colin Cotterill

This second entry in the Dr. Siri series, about the national coroner in Laos in the 1970s, was just as entertaining as the first book. Not only mysteries to solve by the venerable doctor, but written with sly humor and satire that had me laughing out loud once again. I'm also getting to know and love his cohorts who are just such unique and interesting characters. Throw in a bit of the mystical and a top notch audio narrator and there you have it. Highly recommended.

3.8 stars

Dec 31, 2019, 1:01pm

2019: MY YEAR IN READING (and what a year it was)

I read 116 books this year!!! Never, ever has that happened before. Ever. Credit where credit is due: audiobooks. I learned to love audiobooks and read a lot of them. So……highlights:


A tie between The Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag and The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware – they both showed me what an excellent narrator or narrators can do for an audiobook production to make it truly memorable.

Series Reading:

Two terrific trilogies came my way because of excellent LT suggestions:
The Lewis Trilogy by Peter May and The West Country Trilogy by Tim Pears

MITFORD EXPLORATION: I really got into the Mitford Sisters and enjoyed every minute of it:
The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford which lead me to:
The Bolter by Frances Osborne which lead to
White Mischief by James Fox
Hons and Rebels by Jessica Mitford (memoir)
The Sisters: the Saga of the Mitford Family by Mary S. Lovell

(I may not be done with the Mitfords yet.

Unexpected Surprise

The Space Between Us and The Secrets Between Us by Thrity Umrigar (new to me author)

New author to explore further:

Anita Brookner

Outstanding Non-fiction

Guest House for Young Widows by Azadeh Moaveni
Fall and Rise: the Story of 9/11 by Mitchell Zuckoff
Ghost Soldiers: The Epic Account of World War II’s Greatest Rescue Mission by Hampton Sides
A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz
Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe

Exceptional Fiction:

Transitby Anna Seghers
Siege of Krishnapur by J. G. Farrell
Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout
English Passengers by Matthew Kneale


Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth

Dec 31, 2019, 2:28pm

>173 brenzi: Wow! What a great recap! I am so glad to see Ghost Soldiers on there and Say Nothing, will definitely be on this year's NF list. I should have my list ready tomorrow. And hooray for Only Killers and Thieves! What an honor, for such a terrific book.

Happy New Year, Bonnie!

Dec 31, 2019, 3:54pm

Thanks Mark, you're actually responsible for quite a few very good to great reads in 2019. Only Killers and Thieves and Ghost Soldiers are just two of them. It's strange how, for me anyway, books that seemed great at the time end up not actually being favorites when you get to the end of the year and start considering them all. And other books that didn't seem monumental at the time have stuck with you and are really memorable now. The Wolf and the Watchman and The Turn of the Key will stay with me for a long time because the audio narration was just so darn good.

Dec 31, 2019, 4:25pm

Great recap, Bonnie. I started an Anita Brookner novel the other day and thought of you. You also remind me I really *should* read more nonfiction.

Dec 31, 2019, 4:35pm

>176 lauralkeet: Thanks Laura. I have Brookner's first novel, A Start in Life teed up in January. I read a lot of great Nonfiction this year but far fewer than my fiction reads. I'm always trying to up those numbers but it just depends what mood I'm in.

Dec 31, 2019, 7:34pm

>173 brenzi: What a great year in reading, Bonnie.

Cantoras sounds like it would be one I would like. So, next year!

Dec 31, 2019, 9:24pm

>178 BLBera: Yes I had a terrific reading year Beth. I couldn't of hoped for more, really. I think you'd like Cantoras. It's a wonderful story.