Prop2gether, 2009, Act 2

Talk75 Books Challenge for 2009

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Prop2gether, 2009, Act 2

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Edited: Oct 5, 2009, 4:39 pm

Here's my first thread:

My LT referrals for my TBR can be found at message 20.

Here's my counters and monthly lists:


Death Masks
Once Upon a Time in the North
Shattered Sky
Blood Rites
The Malevolent Comedy
The Big Book of Grimm (LT)
Speak (LT)
Five Days in London, May 1940 (LT)
The City of Ember (LT)
The Life of Insects (1001)
The Death of Achilles
Glory in Death
The Ruby in the Smoke
Deadly Beloved
Why the Devil Chose New England for His Work (LT)
V for Vendetta
The Graveyard Book (999)
In the Days of the Comet
The Scarecrow and His Servant (LT)
The Carbon Diaries 2015 (LT)
Somewhere Towards the End (LT)
Assassination Vacation (LT)
When I Forgot (LT)
The Summer Sherman Loved Me (LT)
Baby Moll
The Shadow of the North
The Life and Times of Michael K (1001)
Grifter's Game
The Dead Man's Brother
The Begum's Fortune (aka The Begum's Millions)


Saving Francesca
Carrion Comfort
Scorpion Shards
Princess of the Midnight Ball (LT)
The Tale of An Unknown Island
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (LT)
Plum Spooky
The Black Dahlia (1001)
Aviators in Early Hollywood
The Dream-Maker's Magic
The Hoydens and Mr. Dickens
Nip the Buds, Shoot the Children (1001)
England Made Me (1001)
House Dick
Aunt Dimity and the Duke
Aunt Dimity's Good Deed
The League of Frightened Men
I Was a Rat!
Master of the World
Dr. Ox's Experiment
The Giant's House (LT)
The Light of Day
Naked in Death
Chronicler of the Winds
Wedding Song
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (1001)
The Efficiency Expert
Gold Dust on His Shirt (ER)
The Gutter and the Grave
No House Limit
Speeding Bullet
Thief of Souls
Count Karlstein
A Murder, A Mystery, and a Marriage
Murder on the Celtic


Wife of the Gods (ER)
Hana's Suitcase (LT)
The Taking of Pelham 123
The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs
The Short History of Myth
A Dark Traveling
At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances
Lean Mean Thirteen
Plum Lucky
Rumpole of the Bailey
Murder on the Salsette
The Truth-Teller's Tale
Murder on the Oceanic
Dead Over Heels
The Case of the Revolutionist's Daughter
Three Lives (1001)
The Gudwulf Manuscript
A Fool and His Honey
If on a winter's night a traveler (1001)
Last Scene Alive
Poppy Done to Death
A Sentimental Journey to France and Italy (1001)
Animal's People (1001)
Where Angels Fear to Tread (1001)
The Concrete Blonde
God Save the Child
The Last Coyote
The Kreutzer Sonata (999, 1001)
Andrew Jackson (Presidents)
Rutherford B. Hayes (Presidents)
Fearless Fourteen
The Lost World
Storm Front
Fool Moon
The Public Image
The Counterfeit Crank
Murder on the Leviathan
The Frozen Deep (LT)
The Night in Lisbon (LT)
Aunt Dimity's Death (LT)
The Colorado Kid
Fer de Lance
Grave Peril
Summer Knight
The Great Fire of London
The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde
The Dream Master


A Little Yellow Dog
Till We Have Faces (LT Group Read)
Liberty's World
Gone Fishin'
In Watermelon Sugar (1001)
The Vagabound Clown
Seven Up
The Turkish Gambit
Hard Eight
Visions of Sugar Plums
Romeo's Ex (LT)
Jellicoe Road (999)
City Primeval (1001)
Time Stops for No Mouse (LT)
The Last Six Million Seconds (LT)
About Grace (SABC)
The Savage
The Safe-Keeper's Secret
Full Tilt
The Julius House
Portuguese Irregular Verbs
Direct Descent
To the Nines
Ten Big Ones
Fires of Eden
Live Fast, Die Young (999)
Eleven on Top
Twelve Sharp
Cranford (1001, 999)
Plum Lovin'
Secrets in the Fire
Tea Time for the Traditionally Built
The Highwayman and Mr. Dickens
Eye of Cat
The Left-Handed Woman (1001)
Sweet and Deadly


This Blinding Absence of Light
Founding Father (Presidents)
Mister Pip
The Uncommon Reader (LT)
Shadow in the Twilight
Aventine (999)
The Hunger Games (LT)
Dream Angus
You Learn by Living (LT)
Teddy Kollack: The Man, His Times and His Jerusalem (ER)
Night Has a Thousand Eyes
Two for the Dough
Three to Get Deadly
LaBrava (1001)
A Bone to Pick
Murder on the Marmora
The Pigeon (1001)
The Higher Power of Lucky (LT)
A Theft
Lost Layson (LT)
Lisey's Story (999)
Thunderstruck (999)
The Magic Goes Away
Three Bedrooms, One Corpse
Skellig (LT)
Four to Score
Cold Comfort Farm (1001)
The Eye in the Door
Before Women Had Wings (SABC)
Beyond the Horizon (ER)
High Five
Letters to Alice on first reading Jane Austen (LT)
Where Three Roads Meet
Sister Pelagia and the White Bulldog
The Reluctant Fundamentalist (1001)
Hot Six


No Longer at Ease
The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen (LT)
The King's Gold (999)
The Helmut of Horror
The Sun Also Rises (1001)
Lost in a Good Book
From the Earth to the Moon
Bonjour Tristesse (1001)
Darwin's Blade
The Book About Blanche and Marie (1001)
The Child in Time (1001)
The Detective and Mr. Dickens (LT)
Arrow of God (1001)
Foe (1001)
The Stettheimer Dollhouse (ER)
Black Betty
ENIAC (999)
Saving Juliet (999)
Fifteen Animals!
The Golden Compass (999)
The Subtle Knife (999)
The Amber Spyglass (999)
Some Prefer Nettles (1001)
Lyra's Oxford
The Blind Owl (1001)


A Red Death
The Cleft (LT)
The Fall of Troy (LT)
Written on the Body (1001)
Whales on Stilts (LT)
My Teacher Flunked the Planet (LT)
The Black Echo
The Black Ice (999)
Franklin Pierce (Presidents)
The Rabbi's Cat (LT)
The Clothes They Stood Up In (LT)
The Diary of a Nobody (1001)
Earth (999)
Zombie (LT)
The Brief History of the Dead
Children of the Night
Murder in Perspective
Kipling's Choice (LT)
The Book of Illusions (1001, 999)
Shakespeare's Trollop
Junky (1001)
Lighthouse at the End of the World
The New York Trilogy (1001)
The Penelopiad
Real Murders
White Butterfly
Murder on the Caronia (999)
The Winter Queen (LT)
Rashomon (1001)
The Silver Metal Lover (LT)
Shakespeare's Counselor
James Madison (Presidents)
One for the Money
A Hero of Our Time (1001)
The Leopard (1001)
The Haunted Bookshop (LT)
General Winston's Daughter (999, LT)
My letter to the world (LT)
Arcanum 17/Apertures (1001)
Up at the Villa (LT)


The Rough Riders
Hard Freeze
Ramona (By Helen Hunt Jackson) (999)
Devil in a Blue Dress (999)
The Passion (1001)
The Eyre Affair (999)
The Traveler
My First Year in the Sierra
Shakespeare's Champion
Twilight (999)
City of Glass
Cider With Rosie (1001)
No Country for Old Men (999)
James Buchanan (Presidents)
Heart of Darkness (1001)
Dusklands (1001)
Who Killed Roger Ackroyd? (LT)
The Maracot Deep
Parnassus on Wheels (LT)
What I Saw and How I Lied (999)
Five Weeks in a Balloon (999)
The Old Gringo (SABC)
The Dark River
Hard as Nails
Pale Horse, Pale Rider (999)
Mona in the Promised Land (SABC)
Dearest Friend (999 / Presidents Wives)
Ella Minnow Pea (LT)
The War Poems
The Fifth Woman (999)
Tarka the Otter (1001)
Miracle at Speedy Motors (999)
Live and Let Die
Shakespeare's Christmas
The Presidency of George Bush (Presidents)


Not Quite What I Was Planning (999)
Pinocchio (ER)
W or the Memory of Childhood (1001)
Nightwood (1001)
Jacob the Liar (1001)
Troll: A Love Story (LT)
The Maltese Falcon (1001)
The Trick is to Keep Breathing (1001)
The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum (1001)
Zachary Taylor (Presidents)
Regeneration (1001)
Rendevous in Black
Get Shorty (1001)
No Choirboy: Murder, Violence, and Teenagers on Death Row (999)
Duma Key (999)
The Abbess of Crewe
The Gospel According to Judas
Three Tales of Horror (The Dunwich Horror for 999)
Neverwhere (999)
Mr. Paradise (SABC)
Double Indemnity
Woodrow Wilson (Presidents)
Shakespeare's Landlord
Dragon's Teeth
Antsy Does Time (999)
Northanger Abbey (1001)
A Room of One's Own
Benjamin Harrison (Presidents)
Suck It Up (999)
The Train Was on Time
One Writer's Beginnings (LT)
The Two Deaths of Quincas Wateryell
My Mortal Enemy
The Trusting and the Maimed (1001)
Messengers of God (999)
Kitchen (1001)
Our Lady of the Assassins (1001)
Johnny Got His Gun

I'm still trying to decide where to keep my referral list--here, there, or just on paper on my desk. And it's officially in both places, as of June/July 2009.

Edited: May 1, 2009, 5:08 pm

Got you starred again, Laurie!

Edited because I spelled your name wrong :)

Edited: May 1, 2009, 5:47 pm

LOL---Okay, okay, I had to move on. . . but I'm still figuring out how to how the transfer information. And I'm almost caught up on April threads (which means I'm at least two behind you!), but working on it.

May 1, 2009, 5:54 pm

And number 138 through 140, which closed out my April reading:

Some Prefer Nettles by Junichiro Tanizaki
Lyra's Oxford by Philip Pullman
The Blind Owl by Sadiq Hidayat

Two from the 1001 Must Read list, and one add-on to the Pullman Trilogy. On into May!

May 1, 2009, 9:26 pm

Got you starred again! 140 books...WOW! Good job!

May 2, 2009, 12:12 am

I'm following you, in all respects (your thread, your count, although I'm following way behind you on the latter...)

May 2, 2009, 12:35 am

Found you and starred you... read a lot of books thus far...

May 2, 2009, 8:10 am

As an add on to your previous thread, The Ruby in the Smoke is a very good YA Victorian Mystery by Philip Pullman. I liked it a lot when I was younger.

May 3, 2009, 9:48 am

How was Lyra's Oxford? I read the trilogy last year, but haven't been able to locate a copy of this one yet. Did you like it, Laurie?

May 4, 2009, 6:53 am

Found you :)

Edited: May 4, 2009, 6:46 pm

Some Prefer Nettles by Junicharo Tanizaki is remarkable—a story of a “modern” Japanese marriage which is in trouble. The “modern” and Western-leaning husband and wife are counterbalanced by her traditional father and his companion. The story is unsettling, the language is beautiful, and I had to keep reminding myself that the book was written in the late 1920s! Highly recommended (oh, and on the 1001 Must Read list, or I would never have found it).

The Blind Owl by Sadeq Hidayat is a very disturbing book from the 1001 Must Read list. It is the third or fourth novel on the list which I’ve read that follows a mind in breakdown. It is a well-told version, but there are some very graphic images; in fact, the writing twice caught me totally by surprise after some “lulling” pages. The narrator says in the beginning:

However, in order to explain my life to my stooping shadow, I am obliged to tell a story. Ugh! How many stories about love, copulation, marriage and death already exist, not one of which tells the truth! How sick I am of well-constructed plots and brilliant writing!

And then he proceeds to tell a well-constructed story about love and the rest, which is totally unexpected.

For something light, I turned to Lyra’s Oxford by Philip Pullman, a short story plus (the plus is in the form of “clues” and a map to fill out the possible story endings. This book is equivalent to the Tales of Beedle the Bard for Harry Potter fans. I enjoyed the ride, but there wasn’t much of it.

May 4, 2009, 7:26 pm

Whoa, The Blind Owl sounds kinda sad and moving. Is the story told by the person who is experiencing the breakdown?

May 5, 2009, 11:37 am

#12, Yes--it's a first person narrative in The Blind Owl and it is very intense. Also short, but very intense.

May 6, 2009, 10:16 am

Your description of Some Prefer Nettles left me longing to pick it up

Edited: May 6, 2009, 7:32 pm

And for numbers 138 through 141, three from references on 75er threads and one for the Presidents Challenge:

This Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar Ben Jelloun
Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington by Richard Brookhiser
Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

This Blinding Absence of Light was one I originally found on kiwidoc's thread--and it is magnificent writing. A novelization of a horrific punishment for treasonable acts, it manages to make understandable how the spirit can survive just about any abuse. The absence of light is literal, but the survival is wonderous.

Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington is supposedly a revisionist view of our first president, but it is pretty conventional in its conclusions. It is well written and a nice summary introduction to Washington.

Mister Pip was originally found on Cait86's thread, and I really enjoyed this book. The library marking for YA was a surprise, but it certainly is not out of the reach of "mature" readers or high schoolers. The one white man in a village on a island (later identified to be in the Solomons) ends up teaching school when the island is racked with war. He uses Great Expectations as his major written text, and the village adults as a form of walking/talking references. When soldiers discover that "Pip" is a missing male in the village, the story takes a new twist. There is heartbreak, salvation, and eventual reconciliation with the world at large, and I greatly appreciated this read.

The Uncommon Reader--just about everyone in this group's read or heard of Bennett's book, and it was cute and somewhat sassy about the Queen's reading habits. I found the end a bit contrived, but that's okay for this type of book. I also thoroughly enjoyed The Clothes They Stood Up In earlier this year.

May 6, 2009, 11:54 pm

How I wish I had more time to read...
Your recent books look fascinating!

May 7, 2009, 6:39 am

Congratulations on reaching 141 books already this year. WOW!

May 9, 2009, 2:09 am

May 9, 2009, 1:53 pm

Thanks for the infor on Lyra's Oxford - and I am glad you enjoyed Mister Pip, though I am surprised it was YA as well!

Edited: Sep 24, 2009, 6:00 pm

This slot is reserved by me for all those excellent references by LT 75ers to my TBR list!!!!!

And the list continues from 2008 onward!

torontoc: Troll: A Love Story (1/2009)
torontoc: One Writer's Beginnings (1/2009)
alcottacre: My Wars are Laid Away in Books
blackdogbooks: all the rest of Stephen King
Duma Key (1/2009)
Lisey's Story (5/2009)
TadAD: Random Harvest
TheTortoise: Who Moved My Blackberry?
mamachunk: Triangle
alcottacre: The Climb
ThePam: Now the Drum of War
torontoc: Famous Last Words
TheTortoise: Heavy Weather
porch_reader: The Invention of Hugo Cabret
dfreeman2809: Click.....
missylc: Book of Lost Things
aethercowboy: The Mac is Not a Typewriter
Severn: Dancing in a Distant Place
LisaLynne: The Spanish Bow
VioletBramble: Parnassus on Wheels (2/2009)
Cait86: Hitler's Willing Executioners
75 Group: Ella Minnow Pea (2/2009)
fannyprice: The Anglo Files
TadAD: Three Day Road
nancywhite: The Elegance of the Hedgehog
kiwidoc: The Grass Arena
kiwidoc: The Fall of Troy (3/2009)
kiwidoc: Kate's Klassics
mlake: Never Heave Your Bosum in a Front Hook Bra
sten: Who Killed Roger Ackroyd (2/2009)
sten: Sherlock Holmes Was Wrong
ronicats: Speed of Dark
paghababian: The Lost Painting
stephen.andrew.brown: Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance
KarenMarie: What Time Devours
StormRaven: My Teacher Flunked the Planet (3/2009)
nancyewhite: Lullabies for Criminals
TadAd via drneutron: Holmes on the Range
rebeccanyc: The Book of Chameleons
porch_reader: A Thread of Grace
alaskabookworm: The Giant's House (8/2009)
alcottacre: Whales on Stilts (3/2009)
alcottacre: Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen (4/2009)
sten via TadAD: The Winter Queen (3/2009)
torontoc: The Clothes on Their Backs
TheTortoise: Oliva Joules and the Overactive Imagination
drneutron: Ending an Ending
drneutron: The Gun Seller
drneutron: Zombie (3/2009)
alcottacre: The Last Six Million Seconds (6/2009)
TheTortoise via kiwidoc: Oscar's Books
TheTortoise via kiwidoc: The Clothes They Stood Up In (3/2009)
carmenere: Kipling's Choice (3/2009)
fannyprice: The Rabbi's Cat (3/2009)
fannyprice: The Female Malady
haturner: Princess of the Midnight Ball (8/2009)
Kat32: The Good Ghouls Guide to Getting Even
Awilkins: Brighton Rock
Awilkins: Whale Talk
fantasia655: A Girl of the Lumberlost
fantasia655: Detective and Mr. Dickens (4/2009)
kiwidoc via kidzdoc: A Journey Round My Skull
kiwidoc: Up at the Villa (3/2009)
selkiegirl: The Hunger Games (5/2009)
LT Group: Skellig (5/2009)
severn: The Silver Metal Lover (3/2009)
whisper1: My Letter to the world (3/2009)
rachbxl: When I Forgot (9/2009)
rachbxl: Woman at Point Zero
kiwidoc: The Blinding Absence of Light (5/2009)
LisaLynne: Down to a Sunless Sea
lindsacl: The Road Home
whisper1: The Higher Power of Lucky (5/2009)
Kat32: Real Vampires Have Curves
Kat32: High Stakes
gregtmills: The Ayatollah Begs to Differ
Cait86: Mister Pip (5/2009)
sanddancer: The Boy Who Kicked Pigs
rebeccanyc: Freedom From Fear
blackdogbooks: You Learn by Living (5/2009)
kethonna: Luna
enheduanna: Thus Was Adonis Murdered
kidzdoc: The Illusion of Return
kidzdoc: Mishima's Sword
LisaCurio: Time Stops for No Mouse (6/2009)
Pummzie: The Mischief
cjji955: The House on the Strand
alaskabookworm: Till We Have Faces (6/2009)
LT 75: The Book Thief
VioletBramble: The Summer Sherman Loved Me (9/20090
MusicMom: Letter to Alice.... (5/2009)
shewhowearsred: City of Ember (9/2009)
shewhowearsred: Predictably Irrational
mckait: Society of S
mckait: The Tricking of Freya
mckait: Skeletons at the Feast
drneutron: Let the Right One In
drneutron: The Various Haunts of Men
LT 75: Looking for Alaska
gregtmills: Catapult: Harry and I ....
WillowRaven: Romeo's Ex (6/2009)
tokyoadam: The Forever War
seasonsof love: Dying by the Sword
Deedledee: Every Man Dies Alone
TheTortoise: I'll Cry Tomorrow
RebeccaAnn: Frozen in Time
blackdogbooks: The Frozen Deep (7/2009)
RebeccaAnn: The Lies of Locke Lamora
amarie: The Box...
petermc: The Night in Lisbon (7/2009)
TadAD: The Gammage Cup
petermc: Five Days in London (9/2009)
whisper via kiwidoc: The Frozen Thames
whisper: Hana's Suitcase (7/2009)
WillowRaven: The Forest in the Hallway
Trystorp: Pandora's Star
kiwidoc: The Great Crash
kiwidoc: Somewhere Towards the End (9/2009)
drneutron: Afraid
drneutron: Here, There be Dragons
browngirl: Annie's Ghosts
kidzdoc: Golpes Bajos
kidzdoc: Burnt Shadows
kidzdoc: The Fat Man and Infinity
kidzdoc: The Invention of Everything Else
kidzdoc: Plants Don't Drink Coffee
CatyM: The Archivist's Story
laytonwoman3d: In the Fall
WillowRaven: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (8/2009)
meanderer: If Pirate I Must Be
FlossieT: The Gone-Away World
TadAD: Cooking with Fernat Branca
tututhefirst: Plato and a Platypus Walk...
tututhefirst: The Scarecrow and His Servant (9/2009)
LT: Mistress of the Art of Death
Bridget770: The Plague of Doves
TadAD: Battle Cry of Freedom
dihiba: The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher
beserene: The Big Book of Grimm (9/2009)
whisper: Speak (9/2009)
whisper: The Adoration of Jenny Fox
aquascum: The Very Bloody History of Britain
sjmcreary: Code Black
dk_phoenix: Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians (9/2009)
avatiakh: The House of Sixty Fathers
avaitakh: Bloodtide
avaitakh: My Swordhand is Singing
avatiakh: A Bottle in the Gaza Sea
avatiakh: Swallows and Amazons
avatiakh: The Silver Wolf
SqueakyChu: What the Deaf-Mute Heard
Landshark5: Red Thunder
laytonwoman3rd: The Hero's Walk
tiffin: Georgiana....
loriephillips: Little Bee
cauterize: Assassination Vacation (9/2009)
mamachunk: Our Guys
davidw: Epileptic
saraslibrary: While You're Down There
avaitakh: The Carbon Diaries (9/2009)
sgtbigg via petermc: Wolf of the Deep
porch_reader: The Rope Walk
saraslibrary: Frankenstein Moved in on the Fourth Floor
porch_reader: When the Emperor was Divine
RebeccaAnn: Captain Francis Crozier
daddygoth: The Infected
gregtmills: An Utterly Impartial History of Britain
TheTortoise: Lincoln's Melancholy
drneutron: Johannes Cabal the Necromancer
Banoo: Salmonella Men on Planet Porno
sjmcreary via petermc: The State of Jones
whisper1: The Day the Falls Stood Still
booksontrial: The Brain That Changes Itself
boekenwijs: Never Hit a Jellyfish With a Spade
kiwidoc: Skating to Antarctica
laytonwoman3rd: Jenny Wren
beserene: Old Friends and New Fancies
TadAD: The Black Flame
kidzdoc: Blood and Guts: A Short History of Medicine
torontoc: Galore
drneutron: The Book of William
alaskabookworm: The Magicians
alaskabookworm: Emily's Ghost
Loosha: Dancing With Rose
Banoo: Magnetic Fields
booksontrial: Losing My Virginity
suslyn: Gremlins Go Home
laytonwoman3rd: The Bird Artist

May 11, 2009, 2:30 pm

Numbers 142 through 152:

Shadow in the Twilight by Henning Mankell
Aventine by Lee Killough
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Dream Angus by Alexander McCall Smith
You Learn by Living by Eleanor Roosevelt
Teddy Kollack: The Man, His Times and His Jerusalem by Ruth Bachi-Kolodny
Night Has a Thousand Eyes by Cornell Woolrich
Two for the Dough by Janet Evanovitch
Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovitch
LaBrava by Elmore Leonard
A Bone to Pick by Charlaine Harris

Reviews to follow, but above includes several LT 75 recommendations plus 1001 Must Read selections and my 999 Challenge, so it was a pretty broad choice of materials.

Currently reading: Cryptonomicon, Lisey's Story, The Eye in the Door, and Murder on the Marmora, plus my RL book group selection and a group read in this thread.

May 11, 2009, 6:43 pm

Shadows in the Twilight by Henning Mankell is the next in series in a young adult coming of age set of short novels. Joel Gustafson lives with his father, has a lively imagination, and wants desperately to be 15. When he is saved “by a miracle,” he decides he needs to return the favor for someone. Needless to say, his ideas and plans to “help” his adult friends are more difficult than he has thought they would be—and there is where the story has, once again, the heart of a young boy trying to grow up. I like Mankell’s writing in the three genres I’ve tried (mystery with Kurt Wallender; memory with his Africa books; and children’s with the Gustafson books), and, while this story is not a typical tweener type, it is recommended.

Aventine by Lee Killough is a substitute for another of her works on my 999 Challenge (I cannot locate a copy of my original choice), but this was an excellent substitution. Aventine is the planet where the stories in this volume take place. It is a haven for artists and artistes, and there are vivid images invoked by Killough relating to art, music, and dance which are amazing. Each story follows the same formula—a narrator who has learned a lesson from something that happened to him or her on Aventine—and I liked the technique. Recommended, especially for genre fans.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is currently all over these threads, but I first saw a reference to the YA novel on selkiegirl’s thread. I loved this novel—picked it up one evening and read it through. The story is not wildly original (12 districts are subject to a central power which conducts an annual lottery for a boy/girl set to play in the Hunger Games—to the death). Shades of Shirley Jackson and The Lottery or, if you’re cinematically-included the “Death Race” movies! However, by the time Katniss Everdeen substitutes herself for her sister and is paired with classmate Peeta Mellark to represent their district, you are involved with both of them. There were a couple of grammar issues in the writing, but pooh! The story moved and I was rooting for the good guys and gals and ready to hiss at the bad ones (including various government officials). Thanks for the recommendation!

Dream Angus by Alexander McCall Smith is his addition to the myth stories retold by modern authors. Angus is a Celtic God who brings dreams which are prophetic, and who is an active character in these stories. They are all bound together because of Angus, and some are set in ancient times and some are modern. I enjoy McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency stories, but I liked his writing better in this book. It’s sharper, deeper, and more interesting.

More to come....

Edited: May 12, 2009, 7:54 am

What?! No TBRs from me? LOL Gee and I had you figured for a shmarmy regency kind of gal ;->

I second Elizabeth Moon's Speed of Dark -- glad to see it on your list. I believe you'll find it to be worth your time. I did.

May 12, 2009, 5:15 am

#22: Just so that you know Laurie, the sequel to The Hunger Games, Catching Fire comes out September 1 in the States. I already have my copy on preorder since I loved the first one so much!

May 12, 2009, 11:32 am

LOL! Suslyn, I do read romances on occasion and usually in batches of 4 or 5 at a time (notice I seem to be in a YA or cozy mystery theme right now). I have entire sets of Harlequin romances from years past shoring up my videos in one bookcase. I will find something, I assure you, from your lists--it's inevitable.

And, Alcottacre, I'm thrilled to hear the release date for Catching Fire because I really loved The Hunger Games as well. Thanks for the tip. I'll be looking.

May 12, 2009, 6:43 pm

This message has been deleted by its author.

Edited: May 12, 2009, 6:44 pm

I am just truly in awe of how many books you've already got through!!

...Anyway, definitely noting down The Blind Owl. Would it be silly to ask if you've read The Bell Jar or Antonia White's Frost in May series?

(1st message deleted as I accidently posted twice...)

May 12, 2009, 6:59 pm

#27--I have read The Bell Jar several times, once as a young adult and then as an adult. I haven't read Antonia White or the Frost in May series. What's it about?

Edited: May 12, 2009, 7:22 pm

And from Fantasia655's posting, this list:

On your nightstand now:
Oh my, let’s see—there’s Moll Flanders (still in Virginia); Cryptonomicon; Lisey’s Story; The Eye in the Door; About Grace; Till We Have Faces; Before Women Had Wings; The Turkish Gambit

Favorite book when you were a child:
As a very young child, Milne and Seuss books; as an elementary child, the Madeline Brandeis stories of children in foreign lands followed by Oz books.

Top five authors:
William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, William Saroyan, O. Henry, Muriel Spark, A. A. Milne
(Okay, I can't count--there are six here)

Book you’ve faked reading:
Hamlet through high school and college, finally read it when I was working in a Shakespearean theatre.

Book you are an evangelist for:
The Human Comedy

Book you’ve bought for the cover:
Hmmmm. I usually don’t buy books because of covers.

Book the changed your life:
The Little Lame Prince as a child; Dune as a young adult

Favorite line from a book:
“The hand is quicker than the eye, but only the nose runs.” (The Human Comedy—it’s part of an oral book report presentation)
“Let that be thy message and go rot.” (or words to that effect, from King John by Shakespeare)

Book you want most to read again for the first time:
Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler

Book you wish you had written:
The King James version of the Bible--the language is exquisite.

May 13, 2009, 11:11 am

#28 Frost in May is the first of 4 semi-autobiographical books by Antonia White and is based on her time boarding at a convent school, where she struggled to fit in - I read it while I was still at school myself and it made a big impression. The remaining 3 have a different central protagonist, but are basically also autobiographical. Central theme in all of them is her difficult relationship with her father and with Catholicism, but she also struggled with mental illness a lot of her life. All of the books, I think, work independently.

However, the real reason I mentioned her was not for Frost in May, but for Beyond the Glass, which, as far as I remember was the final book chronologically. It vividly describes her mental breakdown following a very intense love affair and I thought it might be of interest to you if you enjoyed The Bell Jar (as I did) - and The Blind Owl seemed to be a similar theme. I keep meaning to re-read it to see how it compares as an adult...

May 13, 2009, 11:12 am

Incidently, have you reviewed The Human Comedy? I'd never heard of it...

Edited: May 13, 2009, 4:40 pm

I'm such a fan, I should write a review for Saroyan's novel, so I'll double-check my listing. In the meantime, here's the latest group:

You Learn by Living by Eleanor Roosevelt was found through Blackdogbooks (see BDB? not just King books) and it is a lovely testimonial to a woman who found her advice sought by many people. Eleanor lived an amazing life, much of it hard, most of it in public view, and she has very basic lessons for success—basically eleven principles which guided her life. This is a “this is what I do/did and it works/worked for me” type of work. I very much enjoyed it and my daughter will find a copy as a gift later this year.

Teddy Kollack: The Man, His Times and His Jerusalem by Ruth Bachi-Kolodny, is curiously enough, the very first Early Reviewer book I was supposed to get, but it did not arrive for almost 8 months. It is a short biography of the man who became the mayor of Jerusalem at a very key point in modern history which has been re-released and updated since Kollack’s death. Written in basic language, almost like a primer, it is a good introduction to both the history and politics of Israel, its leaders, and how Kollack managed to bridge several apparently contradictory issues: Arab versus Jew; Americans versus Russians; immigrants and settlers; religious factions; and so forth. It was an easy read and I will probably look for Kollack’s biography for a more complete picture, but especially for those who have no idea the problems of modern Jerusalem—it is recommended.

Night Has a Thousand Eyes by Cornell Woolrich is a mystery novel by a genre master. A detective walking home late one night stops a young woman from jumping from a bridge. She is trying to avoid facing the future death predicted for her father, and the novel is first the story of the prediction, prognosticator, and the question of what is, in fact, real. The detective involves his supervisor and the hunt is on. . . . There were a couple of slower sections, but I do enjoy Woolrich’s writing—he always manages to find a twist which works.

Two For the Dough and Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovitch—strictly candy for reading. I find Stephanie Plum to be derivative, but I love and adore Granny Mazur. Her trips to funeral viewings had me crying as I laughed (recalling some remarkably similar incidents in my family’s history).

La Brava by Elmore Leonard is another of his works on the 1001 Must Read list. It’s a better novel than Mr. Paradise (which is not on the list), but a “must read”? Possibly for fans, and I am a fan, but why it’s on the list is somewhat more of a mystery to me. LaBrava is a former IRS auditor and Secret Service agent who is now a photographer with a growing reputation in Miami, Florida. He gets involved with several eccentric characters including a “good ole boy” rent-a-cop, a Marielito murderer who go-go dances for fun, two seniors (one an actress and one a hotel owner), and an elaborate extortion plot. No one is exactly what he or she seems to be, and no one is all good or all bad. I did enjoy the book and it was a fast read.

A Bone to Pick by Charlaine Harris is the second Aurora Teagarden mystery—better mystery and writing, but I missed the Real Murders club that was the basis of the first book. Thus far, I like the Lily Bard series by Harris better, but there are several more books to go before I finalize an opinion. Certainly recommended for fans.

May 13, 2009, 3:24 pm

Lovely write-ups!

May 16, 2009, 2:21 am

#32: Laurie, I agree with you about Harris' books - I prefer the Lily Bard series to the Aurora Teagarden one, although I have read the entire Bard series but not made it all the way through the other. She has a couple of other series as well, in case you were not aware: the Sookie Stackhouse series and the Harper Connelly series.

I am also a huge fan of Grandma Mazur - she is the only reason I read the series any more. I am going to be her when (if ever) I grow up!

May 16, 2009, 9:24 am

>34 alcottacre:: I like the Aurora Teagarten ones least of all. I continue to read the other three series but I no longer even pick up those.

Edited: May 21, 2009, 3:13 pm

Thanks for the notes and I'll be adding (*sigh*) more books from your listings...but in the meantime, here are my latest, numbered 153 through 158:

Murder on the Marmora by Conrad Allen is the next in series for the George and Genevieve detective pair. I like the pair of detectives and this time they are on a new line (not Cunard) with a purser who is antagonistic towards them and their profession. There is a shipboard murder plus several con games and it’s just a fun read.

The Pigeon by Patrick Suskind is another on the 1001 Must Read list. The author of Perfume has written a story which is 180 degrees different from his murder classic. In this one, Jonathan Noel has had a childhood and young adulthood which lead him to believe that people cannot be believed or trusted. As a consequence, he moves to Paris, lives in a single room, works as a bank guard, and never varies his routine for many years. One morning, he finds a pigeon in the hallway, and the anomaly affects his day so thoroughly that his life is changed. The story takes place during one day and I found it fascinating to follow Noel as he rediscovers the world around him. This is not an action novel or a mystery, just a self-discovery, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a simple well-told story.

The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron was found on whisper1’s thread. It’s a young adult novel about a young girl named Lucky who lives with her father’s French second ex-wife, after her mother’s death by electrocution, in a very, very small California town. Lucky is busily trying to figure out the ways of the world (she is in a legal limbo with a guardian—and what exactly is the “higher power” that the adults who meet in various 12-step meetings credit with saving them from alcohol or smoking?). She finds three signs urging her to run away with her dog, HMS Beagle, and runs away. The story was neatly wrapped up in language and style, and I did enjoy the read, but it was not the greatest young adult (9 to 10 YO) novel I’ve read. Recommended for those looking for a well-written story about the age.

A Theft by Saul Bellow is a short novella about the loss of an emerald ring given to Clara Velde by Teddy Regler. Clara and Teddy have a nearly perfect non-marriage, with Clara deeply dependent on Teddy for emotional support. The ring has been lost twice, recovered once after the insurance payment for it was cashed, and later during a period when Clara was trying to be “good” to an Austrian au pair who was pushing the limits of her contract. Clara appears to be on a self-discovery, which, for me, was very hard to swallow. However, the story discussions about love, marriage, divorce, personal commitment, and character were interesting enough to keep me to the end. Not a great Bellow, but certainly worth reading if you are a fan.

Lost Layson by Margaret Mitchell was found on another 75er thread and I forgot to note whose—but thanks! This is a publication by the Mitchell heirs and library of materials found by the grandson of Margaret Mitchell’s childhood friend (who adored her all his life). He kept mementoes, including cards, letters, and photos, and a short story she wrote as a teenager. The story was cute, with a strong leading lady, two men in love with her (shades of Gone With the Wind?!), pirate, treasure, and a happy ending. I was far more intrigued with the story of the younger Margaret, her correspondence, and the photographs—and the abandonment of a true love. All of it creates a far better picture of a young Southern white woman of her era, and gives her more depth than we have been allowed to see through the all the history of GWTW.

Lisey’s Story by Stephen King is pure enjoyment for any King fan. It is, as the blurbs say, a love story wrapped up in a King story. Lisey and Scott had a long-term marriage, based on certain relevations and conditions, where Lisey was the anchor for Scott, the tremendously gifted and honored writer. Two years after his death, as the story begins, Lisey is finally tackling the dismantling of Scott’s working area, and Scott’s personal demons (some very real and some very outworld) come home to roost. In addition, Lisey is in the midst of a major family crisis involving her sisters, requiring time and energy which she may not have. I really enjoyed this novel, and highly recommend it, especially to King newbies. It’s not as “scary” as some, but it has all of King’s best-known themes and types. (And note to blackdogbooks, you get another credit here--one more King to the stack!)

May 21, 2009, 2:47 pm

Oh, I like the way you're doing your book numbers! Great idea which I might just use if that's okay. Love your books remarks too, as usual :)

May 21, 2009, 3:17 pm

Suslyn, my numbers? Several people in this group are doing amazing graphics with numbers, but I'm running just my counter--which you are welcome to use as well. I "stole" the idea from someone else here. *hee, hee, hee*

May 24, 2009, 10:03 am

Where can I cash in my credits? Are there books for sale?

Glas you enjoyed it as much as I did. King is not always one to write about relationships like this but he captured the story of these two very well.

Edited: Jun 2, 2009, 10:56 am

Hey BDB--what books are you looking for? I may have a couple you would like to read.

And for numbers 159 through 167:

Thunderstruck by Eric Larson (999)
The Magic Goes Away by Larry Niven
Three Bedrooms, One Corpse by Charlaine Harris
Skellig by David Almond (LT)
Four to Score by Janet Evanovitch
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (1001)
The Eye in the Door by Pat Barker
Before Women Had Wings by Connie May Fowler (SABC)
Beyond the Horizon: The First Human-Powered Expedition to Circle the Globe by Colin Angus (ER)

Reviews to come.

May 26, 2009, 5:06 pm

I recently finished the Charlaine Harris Harper Connelly series and enjoyed them a lot. I'm curious about Three Bedrooms, One Corpse. Can you recommend this one?

And, skellig was my #1 read of 2008. Please tell me what you thought of this book. Anita recommended this and I thought it was wonderful.

May 27, 2009, 9:06 am

>40 Prop2gether: That's a Niven title I haven't read -- how was it?

Edited: Jun 2, 2009, 10:59 am

Okay, here we go...

part one of my reviews for the last list:

Thunderstruck by Eric Larson is one of my 999 Challenge histories, and I originally bought my copy because I very much enjoyed Devil in the White City and Isaac’s Storm by Larson. He manages to interweave two seemingly non-related series of incidents into a picture of a time, an event, and people, which is a very deft piece of writing. In this case, Marconi is trying to perfect his “thunder” of radio messages against tough odds, while Harvey Crippen has committed what seems to be the perfect murder. Marconi, a non-physicist, has to fight admirers and detractors to patent his ideas, build his company, demonstrate his devices—and really reminds me of an early Bill Gates. He was good at the inventing (winning the Nobel Prize for Physics), but better at selling his product and seeing the market future for it. Harvey Crippen, a mild-mannered, owl-eyed homeopathic doctor, commits a murder for love and nearly gets away with it. (His methodology was part of the basis for Rear Window, book and movie.) There was one section which dragged for me, but that’s okay—most of the book was a solid romp through history.

The Magic Goes Away by Larry Niven was pulled from the library shelves because The Burning City by Niven and Pournelle states that novel is set in the world of Niven’s previous stories and this novel. The gist of the story is a journey to rediscover magic on earth by several characters, led by Warlock and Clubfoot, characters drawn from several of Niven’s short stories. I loved the drawings in the edition I read, but I found the story rather slow. However, if it leads to a better understanding of The Burning City, then reading it will have been time well spent. Generally, I really enjoy Niven and Pournelle’s collaborations, so I am looking forward to the next book.

Three Bedrooms, One Corpse is the third in the Aurora Teagarden series. Actually, I’m not finding Aurora or her friends nearly as interesting as they were in the first book of the series when they belonged to a club which met to discuss real murders (i.e., like the Crippen story in Thunderstruck).

Skellig by David Almond is everything that other LTers have said—I loved the telling and bought a copy after I read it. Sort of says it all right there.

Four to Score by Janet Evanovitch is yet another Stephanie Plum, and I gotta say, I’m with Alcottacre here—I read the stories for Grandma Mazur. Stephanie has become a one-dimensional character, but I love her grandmother (and her mother and dad are getting to be fun as well).

Edited: May 27, 2009, 7:02 pm

And part two...

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons is a 1001 Must Read. I saw the film several years ago and enjoyed it, but reading the book was a bit more difficult. It started out very slow for me, and I was somewhat put off by “Robert Poste’s child” Flora until she settled down at the Starkadders. However, the story resolves itself very handily and I did end up enjoying the read.

The Eye in the Door by Pat Barker is the second in her Regeneration trilogy (and the one which is not on the 1001 Must Read list—note Chinua Achebe’s African trilogy, where the same thing happens and the first and third books are on the list). However, as this was the middle story, I read it—and found I didn’t like most of the lead characters in this one. Dr. Rivers and Sassoon are back, but as minor characters toward the end of the book. Much of the story revolves around the issue of people who were considered unpatriotic for (a) being conchies (conscientious objectors) or (2) being homosexual or (3) being named as one of the 47,000 alleged members of the Cult of the Clitoris (potentially traitors because their sexual preferences would leave them vulnerable to blackmail) in a public trial. Once again, the history behind the story is fascinating, but the novel itself was harder to read, especially once you understand what the eye in the door represents to the characters. Recommended but with a warning—graphic sex, graphic war scenes, and harsh realities are part and parcel of this book.

Before Women Had Wings by Connie May Fowler was this month’s selection in my RL book club. It’s a well-written novel told by a young narrator (Bird, real name Avocet Abigail), who details a very harsh and soul-destroying life. I disliked Angela’s Ashes for the never-ending despair of the story, but this novel has moments of pure love and delight, and several members of our group had “emotional moments” reading it. I recommend this because it is well-written, but warn it could certainly be tagged a “woman’s” book in style and topic, although I think it is more than that, and would read something else by Fowler.

May 27, 2009, 6:55 pm

and part three. . .

Beyond the Horizon by Colin Angus is an Early Reviewer autobiography/adventure that misses the mark from beginning to end. SPOILER NOTE: This thread entry is more explicit than my review about this book. My ER review is a more general statement, as it should be.

Angus is an adventurer, but he’s not a very good planner or writer. He had discovered that officially no one had circumscribed the earth on human power alone, although there were various ongoing efforts to do so. Angus then launched a campaign to locate a teammate, sponsors, materials, and equipment, but ended up with a less than stellar start. He was less than comfortable about Tim Harvey’s (his teammate) history of companionable treks; he estimated a need for $400,000 in cash and equipment to complete the journey, but started out with less than $25,000 and no guarantee of more money, and without most of his basic equipment secured--his sponsors were more inclined to give him material than cash, and, at this point, 19 pages into the narrative, Colin Angus starts to gripe about the status of his adventure. From this point forward, Angus flip-flops between describing people and scenery in beautiful language, and bemoaning his then current circumstances.

I found it increasingly annoying to realize that not only was the trek severely underfunded, but, in the best Mickey (Rooney) and Judy (Garland) tradition, there seemed to be no real method to the show. I was absolutely flummoxed by early decisions such as attempting to slip by border agents, buying a canoe that had a huge hole in it and a sailboat which had to be converted to an ocean rowing boat. Yes, that was due to underfunding, and I’m sure at this point, it sounded like a rollicking adventure, but really? If you don’t want to die on a trek like this, you plan, plan, plan. The pair had a wild time crossing the Bering Sea (which is exciting to read), and then discovered that part of their “human-powered” trek was going to involve hiking, something they had not planned to do—hence, they had no backpacks and had to build their own from the pier pilings. Really, he didn’t think he’d have to walk any distance, just pedal a bike or pull an oar. Then there is the hospital episode when Angus, who has a congenital condition, made no provisions for the recurring infections he is prone to suffer and ended up in a remote Russian hospital where no one spoke English.

By this time, Tim is having “relations” with their Russian guide, and things go from bad to worse. The rest of the book is taken up with the team’s split, their independent attempts to harass each other, Julie’s appearance (she’s Angus’s fiancé), fund raising and promised funding disappearing because of the feud, and the affianced couple’s eventual row across the Atlantic and then biking back to Vancouver.

The description of the trans-Atlantic row, however, was genuinely interesting—the couple somehow managed to stay afloat through three hurricanes and numerous near misses by freighters. If only the rest of the story was this engaging! By the end of reading the 357 pages of this tome, I was exhausted—and annoyed by the lack of small details which would have helped. Early on, Angus talks about the fact that he has a book offer from Doubleday Canada (but this book is published by an independent press, Menesha Ridge Press). What happened here? Angus describes his television work, but he’s not listed anywhere on IMdb, although his National Geographic work is accessible on that association’s website. Where’s the map showing his path across the Asiatic and European continents? In fact, where’s any map? There are gorgeous prints of early and late portions of the trek, but absolutely nothing from the middle section. The blurb starts on the back inside cover and works its way to the inside front cover, which is distracting.

So—I don’t recommend this book. Maybe the video, but not the book.

May 27, 2009, 8:30 pm

Re: Pournelle. Have you read his Starswarm? I imagine this should be YA. It was my first intro to Pournelle, long after I was a Niven devotee. Somehow I had missed their collaboration... bizarre! Did you read The Mote in God's Eye? I was thrilled to discover I have the, as of now unread, sequel :) Hope my opinion isn't like the average rating (or worse). Seems folks liked it less than the first... Cheers

May 28, 2009, 9:50 am

It looks like you've had some good reads. I'll pass on Beyond the Horizon, but I enjoyed your review of it. I need to get Skellig. It's been recommended by several people in this group.

Edited: May 28, 2009, 10:52 am

suslyn, yes, I've read The Mote in God's Eye and its sequel, The Gripping Hand (which I, alas, enjoyed much less), as well as Lucifer's Hammer (one of my favorites--one of the authors comments that scenes from it are part of too many movies and television movies to count). I've missed a couple of their collaborative efforts, however, and am working on catching up there.

loriephillips--yes! Skellig was a marvelous little read, not unlike The Uncommon Reader in its praise on various threads. Faith, love, family, trust--all in one small package--I really enjoyed the read.

May 28, 2009, 10:54 am


Thanks for all the wonderful, well-written reviews!

May 28, 2009, 1:19 pm

>48 Prop2gether: thx. well, we'll see how it goes with me ...

Jun 1, 2009, 3:07 pm

Okay, closing out May, I have numbers 168 through 173:

High Five by Janet Evanovitch
Letters to Alice on first reading Jane Austen by Fay Weldon
Where Three Roads Meet by Sally Vickers
Sister Pelagia and the White Bulldog by Boris Akunin
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
Hot Six by Janet Evanovitch

Reviews to follow....

Jun 2, 2009, 7:17 am

Ooh, I'll be very interested in your thoughts on Letters to Alice...

Edited: Jun 3, 2009, 5:18 pm

Letters to Alice on first reading Jane Austen by Fay Weldon was a delight despite a couple of somewhat pedantic letters to “Alice.” Weldon is writing to a fictitious niece who has stated that Jane Austen is boring and totally out of sync with her era. “Aunt Fay” writes to her, as a published writer herself, to detail what Jane’s life was and how the details of her works are important to understanding the era she lived in and wrote about. There are some interesting comments about the publishing industry then and now, and about the various novels, including Lady Susan, Aunt Fay’s favorite, partly because it was the first novel written and last published, and partly because it is the least constrained of Austen’s published works. All in all, I liked this book very much for extra on Jane Austen and for yet another perspective of her writing.

Where Three Roads Meet by Sally Vickers is another of the revamped myths in the series that includes The Penelopiad and Dream Angus. In this story, Freud, slowly dying of cancer, is retold the Oedipus story by Tireseas, the blind soothsayer. Freud is asked to reconsider his take on the myth, now that he has the true story. There are some interesting exchanges between the men:

. . . You see, it is not the gods that cause tragedy, Doctor. It’s we mortals who misconstrue the signs.

--From our mortal fear of mortality.

--Or immortality, Doctor?

--Certainly, he made his story into an immortal one, so far as any story is.

--But, Dr Freud, stories are all we humans have to make us immortal.

Short, and relatively easy to read, this story just missed the mark for me. Written as a dialogue between the two men, it is not always easy to tell who is speaking and I found myself mixing up who was who several times. However, as a series, these works are fascinating retellings and I’m glad I took the time.

Sister Pelagia and the White Bulldog by Boris Akunin was a shelf replacement for one of the Erast Fandorin mysteries, and is another series of mysteries solved, in this case by a nun with a strong sense of self and an alter ego which her bishop allows her to use for solving crimes. There were sections which were very tedious about the politics of the time, but, in fairness, Akunin tells the reader upfront that fact—this chapter is about politics and not the mystery and can be skipped if the reader wishes to do so. Of course, then you may miss some of the implications of the resolution, but skipping the chapters will not diminish the fun of following Sister Pelagia around. The white bulldog of the title is really out of the picture about half-way through, but the murders go on to resolution. Sister Pelagia grew more interesting as the novel progressed, but it is a very slow read.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid—I was stunned by this book. Essentially a monologue narrating a Pakistani’s life, from home to Princeton to New York to 9/11 to return to his homeland, it is actually a conversation between the narrator and the man across the table from him at a restaurant. It is an elegant dissection of cultures in apposition to each other—that is, side by side and yet very apart. The writing is very spare, somewhat like Cormac McCarthy or Muriel Spark, but you as the reader are drawn into the story of a man who finds himself first spiraling out of control as he attempts to fit into the world he believes should be his life, then the slow re-establishment of his persona after several tragic occurrences, including the events of 9/11. I strongly recommend this book.

High Five and Hot Six by Janet Evanovitch—okay, this series always worth the reading for Grandma Mazur’s adventures, but now there’s a Labrador involved, and I haven’t laughed so much about a dog’s doings in a long time. Oh, and Stephanie Plum is still tracking FTAs in the burg and trying to figure out the men in her life.

Jun 3, 2009, 3:30 pm

Oh, and now I have another local library card which allows me access to two community library systems, plus my local card and my county card--theoretically, I could have 130 books out from libraries at any one time--argh! And that @#$@#%$ $1 bookstore is still there as well. I'll never dig out! Sorry--just had to vent a bit here.

Edited: Jun 3, 2009, 11:52 pm

#53: More good reviews from you, Laurie. Good job!

I already have the Weldon book on the Planet or I would add it again. As for The Reluctant Fundamentalist, I am glad you enjoyed it - the book just did not work for me.

I still intend to be Grandma Mazur when I grow up! She is the only reason I continue to read the Evanovich books.

ETA: Ignore double post below - not sure how that happened.

Jun 3, 2009, 11:51 pm

This message has been deleted by its author.

Jun 4, 2009, 12:12 am

Mohsin Hamid was on the BBC World Book Club podcast a few months ago--I haven't read The Reluctant Fundamentalist, but the interview was really interesting. It's available for free download (along with all of the WBC's other excellent interviews) through iTunes or the BBC's website.

Jun 5, 2009, 2:32 pm

wunderkind, thanks for the interview reference. The book is interesting on several levels, and certainly is not going to be everyone's "cup of tea," but I was fascinated by it.

alcottacre--man oh man, to be Grandma Mazur is a laudable goal!

Oh and my June books to date are numbers 174 through 178:

A Little Yellow Dog by Walter Mosley
Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis
Liberty's World by Lee Killough
Gone Fishin' by Walter Mosley
In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan

Whew! Two more in the Easy Rollins series (one the next in series, one a prequel); one pure escapist fantasy; one group read from this group; and one more from the 1001 Must Read list. Quite a mix!

Reviews to follow....

Jun 6, 2009, 3:17 am

A mix indeed! Hope it turns out to be a great one :)

Jun 6, 2009, 12:27 pm

Mohsin Hamid was also interviewed on NPR this week, I think on All Things Considered, about Obama's speech. He sounded very interesting and thoughtful. I haven't read his book either. You can find the interview by searching the site.

Jun 9, 2009, 12:45 pm

Thanks for the referrals. I hope to get my reviews finished today and posted by tomorrow, because there's another stack beginning of finished books.

But my time has been occupied by my senior cat, Sydney, who is nearly 18 YO, and who just had his tail amputated to about 4 inches yesterday. He's not a happy camper! And he has to have pain pills and antibiotic twice a day for a week, then another week until the stitches are removed. Plus trying to keep him isolated from my other two cats (one of whom can open every latch door knob in the apartment) has been tricky. And, of course, Syd has already shed the collar from the vet's which he is supposed to be wearing. *sigh* If only they'd cut his nails!

Jun 9, 2009, 12:50 pm

Poor Sydney! Poor Prop!

Jun 10, 2009, 7:57 pm

Poor Sydney, my eye! He's removed his collar (twice) and the tail bandage since Monday. After hauling him out from under the bed last night, I fell with him slam into the footboards of the twin beds (matching bruises on my arms because I didn't want to drop and scare him!) and retwisted my left ankle (the one I nearly ripped the tendon off two years ago in a similar fall). But he's eating, sleeping, drinking, and moving quite well. *sigh* I hope I manage to stay in one piece for the 10 days before his stitches are out!

Jun 10, 2009, 10:42 pm

LOL I really hope you don't come to any harm again and that Sydney continues to fare well!

Jun 10, 2009, 11:47 pm

Hi Laurie
I do hope Sydney heals rapidly... and, you too!

Jun 11, 2009, 4:50 am

Good luck Prop with Sydney!!

Jun 12, 2009, 2:54 am

I hope both you and Sydney survive the experience!

Jun 12, 2009, 11:12 am

LOL! I managed to tie his collar on so that it's stayed in place, but you can forget about the bandage on his tail. He's roaming around now with 3D and Spicy following him (I think they're unnerved by the collar), but he takes his pills quite nicely twice a day. I look like I was in a train wreck, but I have to say--the pain pills I had on the shelf--working very well on the ankle/foot.

In the meantime, I'm working on reviews of the above listed books for posting today.

Jun 12, 2009, 6:41 pm

Oh well, Monday for the reviews. The vet just called and the biopsy shows that Syd had a peripheral nerve sheath tumor that was malignant. However, since it appeared to be localized in the tail, and she amputated two-thirds of his tail, all we have to do now is just keep an eye out for any problems. Of course, he still has 9 more days of wearing that silly collar, but....the prognosis is pretty good, considering what the alternatives could have been. *sigh*

Jun 12, 2009, 10:23 pm

Oh my, I imagine this was unexpected news from the vet. And, I'm sure you are happy that the prognosis is pretty good.

All good wishes are sent to you!

Jun 13, 2009, 9:42 pm

Same as Linda, hope all goes well for Syd. We just had Fritz to the vet today, diarrhea and gone off his feed. Blood tests to see what it might be with results to come on Monday.

Jun 17, 2009, 11:28 pm

I sure do hope that Fritz improves......and that the tests show that everything is ok.

Don't you just love those vet bills?

Jun 18, 2009, 1:01 pm

Oh yeah--Syd's so far just under $900, and that's a great rate considering it covers his initial visit, the blood test, the x-ray, the surgery and all its attendance parts (IVs, anesthesia, dressings, etc), the @#$@$ collar, the post-surgery antibiotic and pain medication. Seven years ago, a cat with pancreatitis cost me nearly $1200 in "moderate, not aggressive treatment since she won't recover," and then some after she died. I figure Syd's good for another several years yet. He's acting that way in any event!

Jun 18, 2009, 6:39 pm

And here are the last reviews and the latest list:

A Little Yellow Dog is the next order of the Easy Rollins mysteries, while Gone Fishin’ is a prequel, written out of order, but at this point in the series. I like Mosley’s Ezekiel Rollins and his compatriots and his growing family. Each of the regular books is a progression in time and life for Rollins and even though years pass between events from book to book, it’s very easy to just get in step with the story. Gone Fishin’ is a flashback to Rollins in New Orleans, on the events which bonded Rollins to Raymond “Mouse” Alexander. Those events are hinted at in the various other books, but this is the detail behind the hints. I like Mosley and I’m continuing with the series.

Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis was a group read in this group, and I enjoyed the retelling of the Cupid/Psyche myth. Lewis is best known for his Narnia books and science fiction trilogy, but I’ve really enjoyed reading some of his other works including The Screwtape Letters and Pilgrim’s Regress. This story is told from the point of view of one of Psyche’s sisters and is very readable, but at some points, very intense. What exactly do we do for people we love best? Do we try to save them or do we let them go on?

Liberty’s World by Lee Killough was a quick read, a fantasy adventure on an alien planet where earth travelers land in a broken spaceship. Not much new in the storyline, but it was a fun break from heavier reading.

In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan is something of a head shaker for me. I enjoyed reading Willard and His Bowling Trophies, but this read a bit like the Eloi run amok. In a land where every sunrise is a different color, and watermelon sugar provides all sorts of sustenance, including ink from the seeds, and the commune lives and works in iDEATH, but an anti-hero named inBOIL lives with the Forgotten Things until he leads a revolt from the dumping ground that is Forgotten Things. There were hints of a terrible event in the past, but the commune itself is relatively content to let things just go on as they are. I liked this book, but I’ll be switched if I can tell you exactly what happened and why it happened. Very short, less than 120 pages, but somehow very compelling.

The Vagabound Clown by Edward Marston
Seven Up by Janet Evanovitch
The Turkish Gambit by Boris Akunin
Hard Eight by Janet Evanovitch
Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovitch
Romeo's Ex by Lisa Fiedler
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
City Primeval by Elmore Leonard
Time Stops for No Mouse by Michael Hoeye
The Last Six Million Seconds by John Burdett
About Grace by Anthony Doerr
The Savage by David Almond

for a total reading thus far of 190 books.

Jun 18, 2009, 10:31 pm

Wow! 190 books. You are going great guns this year.

Jun 19, 2009, 6:00 am

ditto what Stasia said.

And, I'm curious regarding your impressions of The Savage. I obtained this from my library, but didn't read it in time and had to return the copy.

I very much like the writing of David Almond.

Jun 23, 2009, 6:47 pm

Okay, there's more coming, but here's the first set of reviews for the above:

The Vagabound Clown by Edward Marston is the next in series for the Nicholas Bracewell mysteries based in Elizabethen England. Nick is the bookholder for a theatrical troupe, and in this episode, the company’s clown has broken his leg during a riot at a performance, so a substitute is engaged so the company can go on the road and earn their living. It’s been a while since I’ve been with the troupe, but found myself pleased to be back with their company, even though you know that there’s murder and mayhem afoot.

Seven Up, Hard Eight, and Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovitch—two and a half more quick reads about Granda Mazur, Bob, and Lula. It’s a sad commentary, but I don’t find Stephanie Plum intriguing at all, but I find her family and friends fun to be with for these episodes. Stephanie’s getting herself in more dangerous situations, when by all that’s rational, she actually should be improving her techniques and statistics. Oh well, I’m with Grandma Mazur here and I, too, want to be her in another life.

The Turkish Gambit by Boris Akunin is the second of the Erast Fandorin mysteries. Set in the 1800’s Russian territories (and interests), this one took a bit longer to engage, but once in action, I enjoyed following the political intrigue that Fandorin is employed to figure out. The “Turkish Gambit” is a bit like the Spanish Prisoner—a political intrigue which gets knottier the more you try to force it out. I like the writing, and have the next book ready to roll.

Romeo’s Ex by Lisa Fiedler is a YA I found on an LT thread (can’t find my list to say proper thanks yet), but it sounded interesting for no other reason than because it’s Rosaline’s story about Romeo. In this version, Rosaline is Juliet’s cousin, a more modern sensibility as a young lady (she wants to heal people), and the meeting with Romeo is accidental. Rosaline’s true love interest here is Benvolio. There is a major shift in the principals’ plot line, but some of the tragedy is left intact so that characters can grow. Not the best writing, but enjoyable, and I’d recommend it to someone who’s looking for an alternative ending to the Shakespearean tragedy which is reasonable to younger readers.

And for anyone interested--Syd got his stitches out yesterday, a clean bill of health (he may live another 18 years?), and he actually gained half a pound back during his recovery at home. Sheesh....

Jun 23, 2009, 10:26 pm

Congratulations to Syd (and you, for surviving the whole experience!)

Jun 24, 2009, 12:20 am

#77 I just finished The Winter Queen so will be reading The Turkish Gambit sometime soon. Fandorin is a very appealing character.

Jun 24, 2009, 1:05 pm

#78--thanks for the good wishes. Syd and his buddies are all happy to be worrying only about eating and sleeping again.

#79 Yes, I find Fandorin extremely appealing as a character, and Akunin does a nice job integrating historical bits into his stories.

And now for the next reviews:

Note: I originally found Romeo’s Ex on WillowRaven’s thread. Thanks.

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta was one of my 999 Challenge selections from the ALA list. Taylor Markham has lived much of her life in a boarding school, a bit of a loner with only one adult friend, Hannah, who lives near the school, and a few fellow classmates. As she enters her last year, she is selected as both the head of her house and as the leader of the underground war council for the school. For decades, each summer a war has been fought for territory and privileges between the school kids, the townies who live nearby, and the cadets who camp nearby for summer exercises. The war is kids only, adults not permitted, but the stakes are real (territory and privileges), and this year the cadets are led by Jonah Griggs, who has a bit of historical lore with Taylor. When the war starts, Hannah suddenly disappears, Taylor starts having dreams about five children (but the dreams are hideously out of sequence), and things seem to get rapidly out of hand. I enjoyed the book, but only after the first third or so, when I was trying to figure out how things tied together. Taylor is not appealing until she assumes her leadership role, and the war is confusing to follow. However, once pieces starting working together, the story and back stories were worth the initial confusion. Recommended, but you have to stay the course for this one.

City Primeval by Elmore Leonard is a 1001 Must Read, one of Leonard’s early novels about a Detroit detective tracking a sociopathic murderer who knows all the moves. It has a Western feel to it, and, it is structurally quite similar to No Country for Old Men, going back and forth between the characters to the final confrontation. I enjoyed it, but I have enjoyed most of Leonard’s work so far.

Time Stops for No Mouse by Michael Hoeye was originally found on LisaCurio’s thread, and it was a cute mystery in which a watch repair mouse suddenly finds himself in the midst of a disappearance of a lovely lady mouse and intrigue involving rats and moles and such. It was cute fun.

The Last Six Million Seconds by John Burdett was found on one of alcottacre’s threads, and is a Hong Kong thriller about a Eurasian detective solving the mystery of three heads—two men and a woman—found floating in the sea. There’s a fair amount of politics and intrigue, especially because the story is set in the closing days of British control of the city before the turnover to China. While I enjoyed the book as I was reading it, it would not be a repeat read, because the politics was more interesting to me than the police mystery. However, thanks for the referral.

About Grace by Anthony Doerr was a read for my RL book club, and is very well-written, but I was not as overwhelmed by it as my fellow readers. A man who has dreams about future events dreams about the death of his infant daughter Grace. To prevent this tragedy, he runs away, as far as the Caribbean and lives there for nearly a quarter of a century, wondering if his daughter survived. The writing was stunningly beautiful, but the story was often stalled. The man’s early life and his insular work and then marriage, make him unappealing. He is desperately in love with his daughter, and does try to keep in touch, but is cut off by his wife, who just can’t understand what happened. He has a “second” life working and living until he finally decides to find the truth about his daughter. The last third of the novel is his search. This book is slow-paced but it will take the reader on an interesting discussion of what “grace” really is in our lives.

The Savage by David Almond and illustrated by Dave McKean is a beautiful telling of a story of grief and reconciliation. Having loved Skellig, I was also prepared for something unusual because the cover shows a child yelling—in pain? In a maniacal attack? The story and the illustrations seem to be seamless, conjoining of written word and picture, each complementing the other. Blue’s father has died and the school counselor advises Blue to write out his feelings. Blue is sharing the book he wrote, complete with spelling and other errors, with the reader. Blue eventually writes about a wild boy who lives in the nearby woods and who has adventures but is also capable of facing down the local bully. At some point for Blue, the difference between his reality and the story he’s writing begin to blur, and Blue realizes there is some interaction between his creation and himself. In one sense, this is similar to classic (and I mean the non-politically correct) fairy stories which were meant to scare and teach. Blue’s creation is scary, but he helps Blue make sense of his world, and Blue to help his mother and sister. This is not a book for small children, but for tweeners and older, especially those having some issue in life, this might be an excellent choice.

Jun 24, 2009, 1:30 pm

And the latest batch:

The Safe-Keeper's Secret by Sharon Shinn
Full Tilt by Neal Shusterman
The Julius House by Charlaine Harris
Portuguese Irregular Verbs by Alexander McCall Smith
Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser
Direct Descent by Frank Herbert
To the Nines by Janet Evanovitch
Ten Big Ones by Janet Evanovitch


Jun 24, 2009, 5:10 pm

Sorry you did not enjoy The Last Six Million Seconds more. I was hoping Burdett would write more books about his detective Chan because it was almost like the book was written as the first book in a series, but he never carried out the series. I did still enjoy it, however. I started doing nonfiction reading on China and its environs last year because of reading this book.

Edited: Jun 25, 2009, 11:31 am

#82 I did enjoy Burdett's style, and, like I said, the story held me during the reading. I will certainly recommend it to others looking for a thriller, especially a political thriller, but the plot was not as tightly drawn as I would like. However, I never miss the opportunity to read something you liked. I'm glad it interested you in reading more on China--my grandfather's sister was a Methodist missionary in China and I started reading fiction and non-fiction about China in high school (think Pearl S. Buck and The Sand Pebbles as inspirations, coupled with the family history of Joan Fontaine/Olivia de Havilland). It's a fascinating area of the world.

Jun 25, 2009, 11:45 am

Okay, took another of those quizzes making the rounds:

What Kind of Reader Are You? Your Result: Dedicated Reader  

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm Literate Good Citizen Book Snob Fad Reader Non-Reader  What Kind of Reader Are You?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

'Course I think almost everyone here is a Dedicated Reader with some obsessive traits....

Jun 25, 2009, 11:49 am

Us? Obsessive? Never.......

Jun 25, 2009, 12:04 pm

Just took it and yep, me too... Not really a surprise there!

Edited: Jun 25, 2009, 7:07 pm

And this brings me nearly up to date:

The Safe-Keeper’s Secret by Sharon Shinn is a YA fantasy wherein some people have specially-designed skills to keep the world in balance. People can share secrets with “safe keepers” who will not tell, and thus, the story of Reed and Fiona begins with their births days apart—one is the Safe-Keeper’s natural child and one is her adopted child. I guessed early on which was which, but there was some fun along the way. I like Shinn’s writing (and thanks to Ronincats for recommending her works), but this is not one of her better plot lines. A part of a series, I hope the rest are better stories and can pull this one along.

Full Tilt by Neal Shusterman was a pull from the shelf because I loved Antsy Does Time earlier this year. This is a much earlier novel in which Blake finds himself in a fantasy carnival-type world trying to redeem his brother’s soul and keep his friends and himself alive in one wild night. Blake must complete seven rides before dawn or he will become a member of the carnival. The rides are similar to real-life and yet—not really. This is a good fantasy introduction for the tweener set and I enjoyed it.

The Julius House by Charlaine Harris is the fourth Aurora Teagarden series and my total reaction is Meh. No plot to speak of, Roe is increasingly testy, her family and fiancé are not thrilled with her or the world--and the mystery of the house? Oh please, that was obvious from the first description of the disappearance of the family which had owned the house.

Portuguese Irregular Verbs by Alexander McCall Smith was another off-the-shelf because I like his No. 1 Ladies Detective Club, and more especially, I really liked his Dream Angus for the myth series. However, the escapades of Professor Dr. von Igelfeld were tedious—and thankfully short. There are two other books in the series and, like all compulsive readers, I am willing to try again on a series if I usually enjoy the author’s work. Maybe next time.

Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser has been on so many threads, and it is one which I would never have picked up on my own. I loved this man! He is rude, a self-proclaimed coward, and amazingly enough, an English hero by the time of the series based on his “papers.” Flashy is so unredeemly politically Incorrect he is great fun to follow. I bought the first book after reading it and have sent it to my son for some post-graduation reading of non-correct, non-curriculum, non-economic books. I myself have the second book ready to open.

Direct Descent by Frank Herbert is one I have probably read years ago, when I went on a Frank Herbert reading craze, but, if so, I have forgotten the entire thing. Basically Earth is a shell of a planet in the distant future, a collection of all known information about anything—it is the universe’s total library. The novel is in two sections, both dealing with direct threats to shut down the library, and how the directors must follow the first law for the library: obey the government’s instructions. The writing may be dated for some, but I like Herbert a lot, and it was fine by me. Also—how can you miss too hard when you are trying to save a library?

To the Nines and Ten Big Ones by Janet Evanovitch are the next in order for the Stephanie Plum series. Honestly, I reached the point, and maybe this attitude is enhanced by the fact that I’m reading the books pretty much back-to-back, where I’m really tired of Stephanie and her antics. I love Grandma Mazur; I love Bob the dog; I would love to have either one of the men in her life in mine; and I really feel for her mother. But honestly, can’t Stephanie grow as a character? She keeps making the same mistakes; she keeps getting her cars destroyed; she’s in and out of her apartment; and she doesn’t seem to be developing skills as a bounty hunter except to be in more dangerous situations with each novel. I’ll finish the series because these are fast reads, and next month my RL book club is discussing sleuths and Stephanie is sure to be one of those under consideration. I’m bringing Kurt Wallender, among others, to the table. It should be interesting.

ETA: to allow the touchstones to kick in before I submitted the entry!

Jun 26, 2009, 7:02 am

I love the Flashman series, the mix between his outrageous behaviour and some great historical fiction is a winner. I think they work best when Flashman is at his nastiest his does seem to mellow a bit in later years!

Edited: Jun 29, 2009, 12:16 pm

Okay, just got my list nearly up-to-date for June, through number 207 (OMG--207??):

Fires of Eden by Dan Simmons
Live Fast, Die Young by Lawrence Fascella and Al Weisel (999)
Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovitch
Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovitch
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell (1001,999)
Plum Lovin' by Janet Evanovitch
Secrets in the Fire by Helling Mankell
Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith
The Highwayman and Mr. Dickens by William J. Palmer

Reviews to follow....

Edited: Jun 29, 2009, 12:26 pm

wow. 207. wow. how?

looking forward to your thoughts on cranford...

(oops, somehow posted twice...)

Jun 29, 2009, 12:26 pm

This message has been deleted by its author.

Jun 29, 2009, 12:35 pm

I will post a formal review, but I loved Cranford and never thought I would. I started this short novel twice before, but was reading the excellent introduction. This time, I ditched the introduction and simply started reading and it worked. This is a very basic "slice of life" about the world of single women in early to mid-Victorian times. It is funny, it is sad, and I really did tear up with a slight sob in the penultimate chapter when resolutions are made. It's like the baby bear's porridge--not too long, not too short, but just exactly right.

Jun 29, 2009, 12:40 pm

I felt the same - it's a completely different kettle of fish from her other works, and yet, in some ways, it isn't... nothing much happens, but you're completely gripped.

Jun 30, 2009, 5:30 pm

Fires of Eden by Dan Simmons is a no-brainer thriller from a master of the genre. Set in Hawaii on the big island, the plot revolves around two interrelated stories at the same point on the island and both dealing with Hawaiian gods and volcanoes, including Pele and all three active volcanoes on the island. In the first story, Eleanor Perry, a single college professor, has come to the new fancy resort on holiday; Cordei Stumpf is the very self-sufficient woman who is the big prize winner from Indiana of a fully paid holiday; Byron Trumbo is the owner of the resort trying desperately to sell it off to his Japanese investors while keeping his ex-wife and two girlfriends far apart from each other. The resort is having a spate of bad events including missing guests (or missing pieces of guests), and the weather is just getting worse. The second story is told in journal entries kept by Eleanor’s distant Aunt Kidder about her experiences on the island with a young Samuel Clemens, and how they dealt with similar horrors. There’s a lot of action involving a shark, a pig, and a dog, and the story races through to its conclusion. I enjoyed the read, but I like most of Simmons’ work. It’s not world-class literature, but it’s a fun thriller.

Live Fast, Die Young by Lawrence Frascella and Al Weisel is a history of the making of the film “Rebel Without A Cause” which focuses on the three leads, the director, the writer, and the producer, but has enough background information to keep it all interesting and some great production photographs. The book is a bit idolizing, so fans will love it, but it was pretty complete in its rundown of how this particular film got made.

Eleven on Top, Twelve Sharp, and Plum Lovin’ by Janet Evanovitch—OMG—it finally happened in book 12—there’s a storyline worth remembering! Ranger’s daughter is kidnapped by a Ranger lookalike and everyone’s trying to save her, especially Stephanie, who is acting as bait. There’s a lot less of the standard silliness in this volume and I enjoyed this book. As to the other two listed, well, Stephanie’s still out there hunting down FTA (failure to appear) bailees; having cars or businesses either burned up, blown up, or generally ransacked because she’s around; and her hair has been cut several times. I still gotta go for Grandma Mazur as my favorite character, followed by Bob the dog and Rex the hamster.

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell is a short novel by a Victorian contemporary of Dickens and Bronte who was well-known for her longer novels. This short novel is a simple slice-of-life story of the single women in a small English town from the early to mid-Victorian era of the 1800’s. At a time when a woman’s principal goal was marriage (for survival purposes, if nothing else), the fact was that more women than men meant simply that a lot of single women had to live day-to-day. This is a marvelous telling of that story—how the women of Cranford worked together and apart to keep appearances and spirits up. I loved this book although I had tried to read it twice before without success. It is slow-paced (like its characters), but loving and genuinely compassionate, in its treatment of all the inhabitants of Cranford. It is also one of the 1001 Must Read books—and this is one I have no problem with being on the list.

Secrets in the Fire by Henning Mankell is a children’s book about another very serious subject, minefields. He has another book about AIDS which is aimed at a slightly older audience, but this book is written for elementary age children. It is the story of Sofia and her family, and what happens when Sofia loses both her legs to a landmine. According to the introduction and notes, It is written in a very basic, sometimes repetitive, style, but that also means it has a bit of an oral tale rhythm. Highly recommended, although for young children, it should be read with an adult present to answer questions (like why the doctors don’t have the medicine, and there are no sheets for the beds).

Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith is the latest, and I suspect, not the last, in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Club series. I liked this entry in which Precious must not only learn something about a male obsession (football!), but give up her small white van.

The Highwayman and Mr. Dickens by William J. Palmer is the second in this series of events “recorded” in secret diaries by Wilkie Collins of his adventures with Charles Dickens and Detective Fields of the Metropolitan Protectives. The first adventure was centered around a sexually deviant ring of men pursuing virgins. This adventure involves sexual deviation of other natures, but I have to say, I was getting pretty tired of hearing about Collins’ purported obsession with a whore. The novels can be hard to read because of the dialogue written in dialects, but the descriptions of sexual behavior more often than not not required for either the story or character. And, what is it with the ending? Too much possibility here. There are several more in this series, but I do hope that Palmer cleans up his act in them.

And the month is not quite over with at this point...

Edited: Jul 1, 2009, 1:57 pm

And June ended with three more titles:

Eye of Cat by Roger Zelazny (for my RL book club)
The Left Handed Woman by Peter Handke (1001 Must Read)
Sweet and Deadly by Charlaine Harris

Edited to let the @$@#$@ touchstones load properly, but failing *sigh*

Reviews to follow....

Jul 1, 2009, 2:52 pm

>92 Prop2gether: Prop, I can't remember if I have read Cranford or not. I have it in my library and I am sure that, like you, I have tried to read it a couple of times. I will definately give it another try one of these days but I want to try North and South first.

I enjoyed her Life of Charlotte Bronte Although, I think the version I have is an expanded or notated version.

~ TT

Jul 2, 2009, 7:04 pm

TT: I was NOT expecting to love Cranford, and I have not seen the miniseries which includes its characters, but it was a wonderful read. I am beginning to understand why the Bronte family chose her as Charlotte's biographer, and I am looking forward to longer works.

Jul 2, 2009, 7:05 pm

And for the latest reviews:

Eye of Cat by Roger Zelazny is an interesting work by an author I was introduced to long ago and was the “out of the bag” choice for my RL book club in June. The book is dedicated to Jim Chee, Joe Leaphorn, and their creator, Tony Hillerman. It is essentially a chase on several levels—literal through travel doors from place to place—visceral through the emotions of the characters—visual through the poetry and language—of one man, Billy Singer, a hunter, and his once-prey called Cat, who is now hunting him. This is not a reading for the faint of heart, but not because of blood and guts. Instead, the reader must be able to focus on the storyline through the Navajo religious themes and folklore and the interruptions caused by a group of psychics trying to save Billy. The plot starts simply enough—Billy, a celebrated hunter who has managed to catch most of the zoological examples of life in the known universe, is asked to help save the life of an alien diplomat threatened by an assassin from his planet. Psychic humans are also recruited for the job, but Billy is extremely reluctant to take on the task, believing that his best bet to catch the shapeshifting assassin is with the assistance of another shapeshifter Billy caught years before, Cat. Cat has been presumed to be non-sentient, but Billy is suspicious that he captured a thinking being and locked it up. Billy is alienated from his Navajo heritage merely by being the last of his family and Cat’s planet was destroyed. Cat wants revenge and agrees to help Billy provided that Cat can then hunt Billy down. That deal is struck, and two-thirds of the novel is the chase after the assassin is caught. This is an extremely difficult book to read because of its style, but if you can get into the rhythm, I think it can be enjoyed for the language and greater question of who are we at our core.

The Left-Handed Woman by Peter Handke is from the 1001 Must Read list and the third novel by Handke I’ve read. I liked this one better than the others, partly because the story is not quite as depressing. A woman realizes that her husband will be leaving her and she sends him on his way while keeping their son with her. She then works her way through the various stages of such a separation. Handke is a scriptwriter and his novels tend to carry that sparseness of writing, allowing the reader to “fill in the blanks.” Short, not too intense, and I loved the poem about the left-handed woman (being a second generation southpaw myself).

Sweet and Deadly by Charlaine Harris is her first published work. It’s a bit jerky in the plotline and dialogue, but I wanted to read something by Harris which was not part of one of her series. I’ve really enjoyed the Lily Bard books, am getting more depressed by the Aurora Teagarden series, and haven’t cracked Sookie Stackhouse or Harper Connelly. Harris has an easy-to-read style that holds up, however, and you can see its genesis in this book.

Jul 6, 2009, 2:33 pm

And so far, my July reading goes through number 223 on my list:

Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey
Hana's Suitcase by Karen Levine
The Taking of Pelham 123 by John Godey
The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs and
At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances by Alexander McCall Smith
The Short History of Myth by Karen Armstrong
A Dark Traveling by Roger Zelazny
Lean Mean Thirteen and
Plum Lucky by Janet Evanovitch
Rumpole of the Bailey by John Mortimer
Clay by David Almond
Murder on the Salsette by Conrad Allen
The Truth-Teller's Tale by Sharon Shinn

I spent my holiday weekend sleeping, eating, and reading--trying to keep down "whatever's going around" the office. Lots of reading! Reviews to follow....

Jul 6, 2009, 7:23 pm

The first of the reviews for the Fourth...

Wife of the Gods is an Early Reviewer mystery—and I loved it. Set in Ghana, the story revolves around Darko Dawson, a detective inspector from the capital city of Accra, who has been assigned to a murder case in Ketanu. There are complications in the resolution of the case, some based on the differences between small community and big city, Dawson’s own memories of family in Ketanu (and his mother’s disappearance there 25 years earlier), the changing definition of family (traditional versus modern medicine in treatment of his son), and the local fetish priest with his trokosi, or wives of the gods. Dawson has a temper, which does not always help him, but his empathy for victims is as strong. For a first novel, especially a mystery, the writing was quite good. The ER copy has some typesetting problems, but they did not detract from the fact that this was a detailed, and ultimately, entertaining detective novel. Kwei Quartey is listed as a medical doctor in Southern California in the blurb. He may very well end up in the ranks of Crichton or Wambaugh—writing instead of practicing—because his storytelling is quite strong.

Hana’s Suitcase by Karen Levine is all over LT threads, but I first saw a reference to it on Whisper’s thread. It is the story of a Japanese guide at a Holocaust museum who wanted to make the story real for her children visitors. She borrows children’s items from the Auschwitz Museum, including a suitcase with a child’s name and birthdate and starts searching for the story of that child. It is the story of Hana Brady and her brother, Georg, Czech Jews in a small town, before the Nazis arrive, and later. It is told clearly and completely in terms to which a child can relate, and, therefore, understand. I recommend it very highly for adults as well. It is a story which needs to be repeated, and this book does it very well.

The Taking of Pelham 123 by John Godey is the original novel upon which both the classic film starring Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw and the new film with Denzel Washington and John Travolta. Dated only by its references to changing political times (i.e., women in the train room, nasty ethnic jokes, etc.), the plot to ransom people on a New York subway is still a thrilling chase. I love the original film, especially the ending, and I think the film improved on the book’s ending, but the mechanism of the theft is fascinating to unfold.

The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs and At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances by Alexander McCall Smith completes the von Igelfeld trilogy. Meh.

A Short History of Myth by Karen Armstrong is the book-length study of myths which is incorporated in the new rewritten myth series. At times repetitive, unless you are into the history of the myths which are being rewritten (Dream Angus by Alexander McCall Smith; The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood; etc.), then stick with the basic introduction Armstrong writes for each of the story volumes.

More to come....

Jul 6, 2009, 9:51 pm

Wife of the Gods sounds good. Adding it to the wishlist. Thanks for the review.

Jul 7, 2009, 12:48 pm

#101 VioletBramble, I hope you do like it. It's supposed to be released this month according to the cover.

Here are more reviews for the last listing:

A Dark Traveling by Roger Zelazny is a short novel about a teenager who has a sister who’s a witch, a brother who’s spending time in a castle, a visiting student who’s an assassin, an uncle who’s a werewolf, and parents who are missing. Actually, his mother has been missing for some time, but his father disappeared after a struggle in the room where the transcomp (transporter computer) is located. Barry has been noticing tendencies to act more like Uncle George, Becky has visions, and James is ready to fight whatever is a threat. The background involves transporting between bands or dimensions where other possible scenarios of life are happening. There are light bands (as in good) and dark bands (as in evil), and the trio discovers there’s an interband war ongoing. It’s a lot of fun, not too heavy on the plot devices, and short enough to wish there might have been just a bit more.

Lean Mean Thirteen and Plum Lucky—Stephanie Plum’s back in action *sigh* and it sure would be nice to have her actually act like the semi-professional bounty hunter she is supposed to be. I’m still in the corner with Grandma Mazur, Bob the dog, and Rex the hamster.

Rumpole of the Bailey by John Mortimer is six cases narrated by Rumpole as he wends his way through his chambers, the Bailey, and deals with his partners, son, and “She Who Must Be Obeyed.” Quite a lot of fun, this was selected for two reasons: years ago I watched the excellent series when it appeared on PBS; and because this month my RL book club is discussing sleuths. While my reading is fairly broad, I’ve missed some classics along the way, so I’m trying to read as many as possible to get a better picture of the spectrum. Rumpole is fun, he is witty, and he doesn’t always win—always refreshing!

Clay by David Almond is an unusual set-up for a coming of age type of story. Davie and Georgie, two “good” altar boys, are urged by their parish priest and Davie’s mum to become friendly with the new boy in town, Stephen Rose. Davie and Georgie have their own problems, with a bully on their heels, and Davie’s nascent interest in a girl, and are not that interested in Stephen Rose. Stephen’s background is suspicious to them—his father’s dead, his mum is locked away in a mental home, he was kicked out of a seminary school, and he’s living with his only living relative, a crazy very religious aunt. But Stephen is attracted to Davie and introduces him to new adventures—including the creation from riverbed clay of a living figure Davie names Clay. There are questions of faith, love, family, hate, revenge, and redemption, all wrapped up in one young man’s dilemma of dealing with a friend who isn’t such a good friend.

Murder on the Salsette and Murder on the Oceanic by Conrad Allen are the next in order for the shipboard murder series, and these two are a bit more intriguing than the last one I read. George Porter Dillman and Genevieve Masefield are fun to follow around the ship as they solve the various small—and large—crimes at sea.

Edited: Jul 10, 2009, 3:40 pm

Some more reviews:

The Truth-Teller’s Tale by Sharon Shinn tells the story of Adele and Edela, mirror twins (each has one green eye and one blue eye; one is right-handed and one is left-handed; one parts her hair on the right and the other on the left). One is a Secret Keeper and one is a Truth Teller. The book follows the two girls through about five years from the point they discover their respective talents and meet the Queen and newly-born princess, through their work at their parents’ inn, their best friend’s flirtations and so forth. It’s better than the first book of this trilogy, but still very slow because there is very little “action” involved in the story. I guessed the ending easily about two-thirds of the way through, but Shinn’s writing will keep you in the book.

The Case of the Revolutionist’s Daughter: Sherlock Holmes Meets Karl Marx by Lewis S. Feuer was a book I pulled from the library shelf when I was looking for something else. A slim volume written by a political activist(!), it has Watson telling the “untold” story of how Holmes and he met Marx and Engels, solved one problem with Marx’s daughter Tussy, and figured out the murder and mayhem surrounding this problem. It was well-written and I enjoyed it.

Three Lives by Gertrude Stein is one of three of Stein’s works on the 1001 Must Read List. It is, indeed, the story of three lives, of three women, in the first years of the last century, in Bridgepoint: the Good Anna, Melanctha, and Lena. This is Stein’s first published book, and it seems extremely arcane today. Written mostly in straight declarative sentences, with lots and lots and lots of repetition, the three stories are a difficult slog. The Good Anna doesn’t suffer fools or foolish behavior but she is a generous woman in many respects. Melanctha is a black woman who behaves “badly” by community definition. Lena is an immigrant who simply gets through life. The three are all serving class, meaning they are dependent on wages and/or family to live. The first and last stories, The Good Anna and Lena, are relatively short, while Melanctha’s story goes on and on and on and on and on. In this section especially, Stein appears to be attempting to duplicate speech rhythms:

In tender hearted natures, those that mostly never feel strong passion, suffering often comes to make them suffer. When these do not know in themselves what it is to suffer, suffering is then very awful to them and they badly want to help everyone who ever has to suffer, and they have a deep reverence for anybody who knows really how to always suffer. But when it comes to them to really suffer, they soon begin to lose their fear and tenderness and wonder. Why it isn’t so very much to suffer, when even I can bear to do it. It isn’t very pleasant to be having all the time, to stand it, but they are not so much wiser after all, all the others just because they know too how to bear it.

I read it, but I recommend it really only to fans or literature majors. It will drive the everyday reader bonkers.

More to come....

Jul 10, 2009, 6:52 pm

And this should bring me current....

Murder on the Oceanic by Conrad Allen
Dead Over Heels by Charlaine Harris
The Case of the Revolutionist's Daughter by Lewis S. Feuer
Three Lives by Gertrude Stein
All reviewed above
The Gudwulf Manuscript by Robert B. Parker
A Fool and His Honey by Charlaine Harris

Almost through If on a Winter's Night a Traveler plus several detective/sleuth mysteries.

Jul 10, 2009, 6:53 pm

So here are my latest reviews and comments...

The Gudwulf Manuscript by Robert B. Parker is the first of the Spenser mysteries. Loved the television show (Oh, Avery Brooks and that lovely voice!!!) but had never read the books. Not too bad for a starter PI novel. I have another on the table.

Dead Over Heels and A Fool and His Honey by Charlaine Harris are the next in order for Aurora Teagarden. OMG! I enjoyed Dead Over Heels better than the last several in this series, as it had another sturdy and interesting plot. However, I think Harris was getting really tired of Aurora and used A Fool and His Honey to test the waters. By the publication of this, Harris was involved in several other series, and in this one, she makes life changing plot lines for Roe. There are three more in the series, but unless they pick up, I’m really not happy with this work and I did like the Lily Bard series, so I’ve been hoping for improvement.

Edited: Jul 13, 2009, 2:41 pm

Latest reads:

Last Scene Alive by Charlaine Harris
Poppy Done to Death by Charlaine Harris
If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino
A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy by Laurence Sterne
Animal's People by Indra Sinha
Where Angels Fear to Tread by E. M. Forster

Four from the 1001 Must Read list, others from the mystery lists, and reviews to follow....

Jul 13, 2009, 4:39 pm

I look forward to your thoughts on If on a Winter's Night... I got about half way through it ages ago (so it's on my 'to be finished' list for this year), but I've a suspicion I'm never going to get on with it - Castle of Crossed Destinies didn't really do it for me either... I know a lot of people think he's fantastic though...

Jul 14, 2009, 12:42 am

I made it only about halfway through If On a Winter's Night A Traveler, too, flissp, so you are not alone.

Jul 14, 2009, 10:47 pm


Keep going and you will end up at the beginning. :)

Edited: Jul 15, 2009, 6:54 pm

Okay, here's the first of the list...

If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino took me probably about two months to read, and, for a short book on the 1001 Must Read, it’s interesting to note. I started the book at least twice and put it down, realizing I needed to be more focused on the writing to get past the the opening. Again, there was an introduction which distracted me at least once, so I’m probably going to leave those for after reading. The novel—and I use the term loosely—is indeed circular as suggested by arubabookwoman above. Calvino uses a cute conceit in having an opening be a chapter in a book by Calvino entitled “If on a winter’s night a traveler.” The chapter ends, and suddenly you, as the reader, are in a separate chapter with a reader character who is hugely annoyed to discover his copy of the book has apparently been misbound with another book. The reader, in trying to return his book for another copy, finds another reader who had the same problem, and they are attracted to each other. The rest of the book is alternating chapters of similar occurences, with the reader and the girl trying to resolve the issues of the mixed up books. Sounds like a nightmare to read, and, to a small extent, it was because many of the chapters sounded like fun stories on their own. However, the book is also a fun study of writing styles (the ten chapters), commentaries on writers, readers, the publishing industry (including editors, translators, and book sellers). The book ends with a device which essentially takes you back to the beginning—the snake eating its tail, as it were. Certainly not for everybody, but an interesting exercise for classroom reading.

Last Scene Alive and Poppy Done to Death by Charlaine Harris are the last two of the Aurora Teagarden series. Roe was getting more interesting again, but I suspect we’ve probably seen the last of her because Harris has moved on. *sigh* Another series by this author closed.

A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy by Laurence Sterne, the man who wrote Tristam Shandy, is something like Candide, something like Tom Jones, and something like Tristam Shandy. It’s an episodic of a young Englishman’s stay on the Continent, complete with rascally men and shady women, and all that sort of stuff. I found it somewhat tedious to follow, probably because as a “diary” type writing, the writer did not need to follow through on events or explain anything extraordinary--and he didn't do so. It’s a 1001 Must Read, but I’ve really enjoyed other books in that period much more than this one.

more to come...

Jul 16, 2009, 1:27 pm

Well, now I am really intrigued by If on a winter's night a traveler....I think my massive book-buying binges mean that I have enough books to last me through to the end of this year, but this one is definitely on the "must-read" list for next year. Thanks for the review!

Jul 16, 2009, 1:50 pm

Hi Laurie
I was out of town on and off for June-July and thus I'm behind in the posts. I'm catching up on your thread today.

#80. I read Jelicoe Road and agree with your assessment. It is a book wherein you need to stay the course. I found that if I put it down and came back to it I had to re-read pages.

You really are clipping along at a fast pace re. all the books you are reading. Congratulations!

Jul 20, 2009, 5:06 pm

#111 You're welcome. It's hard book to complete, I think because you have to be prepared to drop a story line and then continue with the linking passages, but parts were absolutely fascinating.

#112--Yeah, well, I seem to be just reading like a fiend lately, but that's okay. Soon it must slow down for things like crocheted/knitted gifting to start!

I'm behind a couple of reviews already, but want to note numbers 236 through 243:

The Concrete Blonde and The Last Coyote by Michael Connelly, third and fourth of the Harry Bosch novels
God Save the Child by Robert B. Parker, second of the Spenser novels
The Kreutzer Sonata by Leo Tolstoy, which is both a 1001 Must Read and is on my 999 Challenge list
Andrew Jackson by Sean Wilentz for the Presidents Challenge
Moonraker by Ian Fleming--James Bond in the original
Rutherford B. Hayes by Hans L. Trefousse
Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovitch--almost the end of Grandma Mazur adventures!

Currently reading The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson; several mysteries for my RL book club; and I have two presidential biographies to finish.

Edited: Jul 29, 2009, 2:35 pm

Here's the latest...

Animal’s People by Indra Sinha is one of the 2008 additions to the 1001 Books You Must Read, and I enjoyed this read. Animal is the narrator of a series of events in his life in a fictional version of Bhopal. As an infant, he survived the cloud of deadly gas which emanated from the Amrikan plant, but he suffered injury which resulted in him walking on all fours—hence, an animal. He then becomes involved with a movement seeking recompense from the Amrikan company. This novel is jarring, funny, sarcastic, probing, and I recommend the read.

Where Angels Fear to Tread by E. M. Forster is Forster’s first published work, a fairly short bookand tells what seems to be a simple story: a young widow leaves her child with her in-laws, travels to Italy for a respite, with a companion, and then marries an Italian, has another child, and dies. The English kin decide to retrieve the infant for a “proper” education (instead of an Italian one). Short, incisive, and totally in the period, I recommend this story, also on the 1001 Must Read list.

The Concrete Blonde and The Last Coyote by Michael Connelly are the third and fourth Harry Bosch series, and worth the time, especially if you are a fan of the series. I love ‘em.

God Save the Child by Robert B. Parker is the next Spenser and I’m becoming a fan of the written series.

The Kreutzer Sonata by Leo Tolstoy is a novella on the 1001 Must Read list and also on my 999 Challenge list. Liked this one very much, where a man on a train tells his companion why he murdered his wife.

More to come...

Jul 23, 2009, 7:57 pm

#114: Prop2gether,

What is it that you like about The Kreutzer Sonata?

Jul 24, 2009, 3:06 pm

#115 booksontrial--to be honest, first because this was a short novella by a Russian. However, I have read Tolstoy in the past and enjoyed his writing. Second, there is an interesting introduction by Doris Lessing in this edition discussing both the original story and the timing and post-publication apology/addendum (which is also in this volume).

The first half (almost literally) of the story is a long discussion about marriage, as viewed by the murderer. The narrator is stunned by some of the comments, but makes no real argument. The murderer simply cannot stop talking about his views. The second half of the story is the murderer's perception of how his wife deceived him, thereby essentially causing her own death at his hands, and thus, freeing the husband when he was tried.

There are lots of questions about justification and self-justification for acts which are discussed. The addendum, which is not part of the story, but actually Tolstoy's later rationale for having written this story and still justifying the homicide on religious and moral grounds was interesting to read, but not essential to the story. However, it was probably very essential to Tolstoy for all his public and his private rationalizations.

Edited: Jul 29, 2009, 2:37 pm

Just a quick post because I've listed an ER in my library that I have not finished--Revelation of Fire by Alla Avilova, in order to satisfy the new ER policing of reviews.

I've started this novel three or four times since I received it, but get bogged down in the modern part of a modern/ancient storyline about a secret documents which are religious and mystic. The publisher sent a letter with the book saying that they really could not figure out how to classify this book--and for me--that's a lot of the problem. The modern story is trite and tedious, the ancient story is interesting, but interrupted. The characters are much the same. And really? Are all ancient religious items necessarily mystic as well, especially because the modern setting is repressive Russia? I have the book on my table and will return to it because I was enjoying part of the book. But at least at this time, I cannot recommend it to anyone else.

Jul 24, 2009, 4:48 pm

#116: Prop2gether,

I'm surprised that Tolstoy, a strong proponent of non-violence, would attempt to justify homicide on any ground, though I can understand if he preached abstinence based on religious belief.

Have you read Tolstoy's essay on Shakespeare? I'm very interested in knowing what you think of it. :)

Jul 24, 2009, 5:31 pm

#118-Not sure about the essay, although as a Shakespeare buff, I may have at one time. I'll look it up. Thanks.

It isn't abstinence Tolstoy was preaching in this novella--it is a strict adherence to a moral code he believes is fundamental to his religious beliefs. The couple in the story is not a newlywed couple, they are middle-aged with children, so the murder/suicide (depending on which character's POV you're looking at) is heavily dependent on interpretations by the characters of what is happening.

Jul 24, 2009, 6:47 pm

So you can add:

The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Storm Front by Jim Butcher
Fool Moon by Jim Butcher
Clockwork by Philip Pullman
The Public Image by Muriel Spark
The Counterfeit Crank by Edward Marston

and these reviews so far...

Andrew Jackson by Sean Wilentz was a nice summary of the life of the president, a little bland, but certainly a good introduction for the general reader.

Moonraker by Ian Fleming—moving my way through the adventures of James Bond, and liked this one. Missiles, bombs, spies—what else do you need?

Rutherford B. Hayes by Hans L. Trefousse was a summary of the president I knew best because his wife was “Lemonade Lucy” in my elementary school’s book on the wives of the presidents. Hayes was smart, well-educated, a good mediator, a good writer and communicator, and every time, Trefousse got stuck, he essentially said “He was a nice man.” I’ll probably look for something a bit more in depth, but this was a nice summary introduction.

Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovitch. Just finishing up the series. Meh for this one.

The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in which he introduces the intrepid explorer Professor Challenger who sets out to prove the existence of a “lost world” in the Amazon. It predates all the others (Burroughs, et al.) and was a marvelous read, a narration by the newspaperman who accompanies the group of scientists. There are follow-up novels, and I’m going to look for them.

Storm Front and Fool Moon by Jim Butcher—I’ve seen nice comments on various threads, this month is sleuth and mystery month for my RL book club, and I loved Harry Dresden! A Chicago resident, private investigator who also happens to be a wizard? I’m having a grand time reading these novels.

Clockwork by Philip Pullman, the author of the His Dark Materials trilogy is an expanded short story about several characters in a small town where the prince is not exactly what he seems to be, and the new characters on the clock tower aren’t either. I found this in the YA section, but it’s definitely dark for younger tweeners. Heck it was dark for me.

Jul 24, 2009, 6:49 pm

Glad to see another Dresden fan! Be careful, they're addicting.

Jul 24, 2009, 7:04 pm

Oh jasmyn9, I'm hopelessly addicted to the Dresden files after only two of them! I'm a huge Harry Potter fan as well, but there are books about wizards and the "real" world, and then there are books. These are smart and sassy. and I'm so very glad I read good stuff about them on LT. I would have skipped right by them to other favorite authors and missed some great fun reading.

Jul 24, 2009, 7:29 pm

>120 Prop2gether:: I love the Fleming books. Do you find the Bond he portrays really has a different feel than most of the movie Bonds? I mean...ignoring the silly movie plots and all. ;-) I do. I find the book Bond much grittier than Connery portrayed him. Dalton had the grit but not the inherent charm. Brosnan was lighter weight. Craig actually is the closest, imo. (Note that I forgot Moore and Lazenby...I wish I actually could.)

The sequels to The Lost World are fun. So few people ever try anything but his Holmes stuff.

As for Dresden, I'm also a big fan. There's was a small dip around #9/#10 but the series came back in #11 and I'm looking forward to the next one. Have you tried his Codex Alera series? (First book = Furies of Calderon). They're nothing like the Dresden books...a bit more serious and "traditional" type fantasy...but I find the characters just as engaging.

Jul 24, 2009, 7:40 pm

#123, Oh Tad, another series to start? No, I just discovered the Dresden one through LT, so....

Have you read The Marcot Deep by Doyle? I read it earlier this year and thoroughly enjoyed it as well--more science fiction-like, but fun. And I do intend to find the rest of the Challenger novels. This one was just a great fun read.

As for James Bond, well, throwing all the dated material out, I do enjoy the books more. You are the only person I know who even considers Dalton in the mix, and I liked him, certainly more than Moore. And you missed David Niven. But then most folk don't even consider that flick at all (LOL!!!). Craig and Connery are surely at the top of the heap.

Jul 24, 2009, 8:03 pm

>124 Prop2gether:: Ah yes, Niven. I forgot him. Thanks for reminding me.

No, I've never tried The Marcot Deep. I'll definitely track it down. Thanks.

Edited: Jul 27, 2009, 5:08 pm

#125: The Marcot Deep was fun, but I only found it in a library.

to complete missing reviews and add the latest books:

Murder on the Leviathan by Boris Akunin
The Frozen Deep by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Night in Lisbon by Erich Maria Remarque
Aunt Dimity's Death by Nancy Atherton
The Colorado Kid by Stephen King
Fer de Lance by Rex Stout

The Public Image by Muriel Spark is a fascinating study of an actress and how her “public image” affects everything in her life. As a new “star,” the public image is created around her style and marriage, nurtured, and then modified as she becomes more famous and then a mother. Circumstances abruptly and seriously change for Annabel and the question of her public image becomes a crucial part of her planning. Especially recommended for fans, it reminded me in style of The Driver’s Seat, which I greatly enjoyed as a read.

The Counterfeit Crank by Edward Marston is the next in series of the Nicholas Bracewell mysteries featuring the Elizabethan theatre company of which Nick is the book holder, general problem solver, and detective, when necessary. This tale involves a pair of street “cranks” (faking injury or illness) and the serious illness of one of the company’s members, together with the absence of the cranky landlord and his wife. For fans, this is another in the adventures—better written than a couple of the books, and just engaging fun.

Murder on the Leviathan by Boris Akunin is the next in series of the Erast Fandorin mysteries set in nineteenth century Russia and environs. With huge nods of the hat to Agatha Christies’ Murder on the Nile and Murder on the Orient Express, this involves Fandorin as the “outsider” in a group put together in a ship’s salon setting by a detective determined to solve a multiple murder near Paris. I found the detecting less twisted than Fandorin’s last adventure, but I do like this Russian diplomat who is traveling the world for his country.

The Frozen Deep is a novella by Wilkie Collins, which I first found on Blackdogbook’s thread, and I have enjoyed almost everything I’ve read by Collins thus far, I sought this out. The edition I had was published in 1915 or 1917 and had two other stories in the book: “The Dream Woman” and “John Jago’s Ghost.” I’d previously read “John Jago’s Ghost,” but it was nice to come back to a story and style I enjoy. The Frozen Deep is essentially the story of a love triangle, involving the lady who has prophetic dreams, her two admirers who go to the Arctic, and the resolution of the triangle. “The Dream Woman” is another story based on prophetic dreams, this time a man who dreams that his wife will kill him, and “John Jago’s Ghost” is based on a true murder story. Most fascinating about this edition were Collins’ notes that he adapted The Frozen Deep his play written years earlier for circuit reading. :”The Dream Woman” was adapted as well for reading to an audience. As a result, both of these works are heavy on dialogue and characterizations. I found them fascinating. Thanks for the referral, BDB.

The Night in Lisbon by Erich Maria Remarque is a remarkable novel which I first found on petermc’s thread. How marvelous is this tale set in 1942 Lisbon, especially as compared to Remarque’s WWI classic, All Quiet on the Western Front! Deceptively simple, two men meet and one tells the story of how he got to Lisbon from 1939 Germany. It’s a story of love, refugees, betrayal, tragic circumstances, and, ultimately, hope. I recommend this one very highly.

Aunt Dimity’s Death by Nancy Atherton was another find on an LT thread, and sorry, I didn’t note whose. This month is “Sleuths” month for my RL book club, and, frankly, the title was awfully cute and cozy. But I really enjoyed Aunt Dimity and her cottage, and all the circumstances of the story. Not a murder, but a mystery, and very charming all the way to the end.

The Colorado Kid by Stephen King is a change of pace novel for King—not a horror, not a children’s, not an essay—it’s a dissection of a murder mystery. I suspect that many fans of the genre, and of King, won’t like the ending, but I have to laugh, because it really is typical of King to do what he does at the end of the story. A short novel, it’s fun as a King fan, because it is out of his normal writing.

Fer de Lance by Rex Stout is the first of the Nero Wolfe stories, none of which I had read (although I do claim to have watched the 1981 television series starring William Conrad. I just reviewed the cast list for the series, and, wow! For who was available at the time, the casting is just about perfectly matched to the book’s character descriptions.) The story seemed to be longer than necessary to complete all the mystery/murder resolutions, but I suspect that’s also Stout’s style blended with his cast of characters. I’m certainly intrigued enough to read some additional books.

Jul 27, 2009, 4:54 pm are plowing through the books! Congratulations on your reading!

Jul 27, 2009, 5:13 pm

Linda, sometimes I feel the Red Queen, "The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get!" However, this month I was sampling all kinds of mysteries, and, frankly, most are fast reads (no matter how many pages are printed!).

This next month, I want to concentrate on my 999 Challenge, which I am half-way through, and see if I can finish the several I've gotten part-way through. I mixed up my list to include mostly books on my TBR shelves at home, but still...there are all those enticing recommendations coming in and pushing some of the books aside....

Jul 27, 2009, 6:58 pm

It's a long time (probably close to 30 years) since I read most of Rex Stout, but you are right that a lot of the fun of the series is the characters and their foibles.

Jul 28, 2009, 4:40 pm

Your welcome for the referral to The Frozen Deep.

I loved The Colorado Kid. I thought he put on the noir genre like an old coat.

Jul 29, 2009, 1:34 pm

OK, looks like I'm going to have to give If on a Winter's Night A Traveller another go!

...and maybe the Jim Butcher books as well - I read the first Harry Dresden book after a mate (who loves him) lent it to me a while ago and was a bit "meh" about it, but EVERYONE on LT seems to be raving about him - maybe I missed something?!

Jul 29, 2009, 3:44 pm

>131 flissp:: but EVERYONE on LT seems to be raving about him - maybe I missed something?!

No book is for everyone. Maybe he just doesn't work for you.

Edited: Jul 29, 2009, 4:22 pm

#131 True, but then again, sometimes a revisit changes opinion. If I really dislike a book, I won't go back to it all; however, if my reaction was somewhat tepid, I might try again (to add age or experience) to see if my reactions change. And there are some authors I really need to try again just to see if maybe a longer/shorter/different work can introduce us to each other on friendly terms.

Jul 29, 2009, 4:44 pm

>133 Prop2gether:: Yes. I'm going to try Camilleri again because people insist that I just need to get a couple books into the series to change my (so far, meh!) opinion. I just meant she shouldn't beat herself up just because other people were raving about Butcher.

Jul 29, 2009, 5:46 pm

LOL, absolutely! I don't beat myself up anymore about disliking certain unnamed authors. But every so often I try once more.

Jul 30, 2009, 1:29 pm

#135 my attitude too, but I'll probably take a lot longer to come back to an author I was unsure about - there are so many fantastic authors out there I've never read...

#132/4 TadAD, not to worry, I wasn't! ;) Actually, I didn't actively dislike him, I was just a bit nonplussed. All the more reason to give him another go at some point, I say! ...but probably not just yet - I completely agree with the principle that no book is for everyone...

Jul 30, 2009, 1:32 pm

Stasia's motto: Not every book is for every body (and that includes 'the classics')!

Jul 30, 2009, 1:35 pm

and a very good motto it is too!

Jul 30, 2009, 2:43 pm

Okay, and speaking of Jim Butcher...

Here are my next three books, up to number 258 (yikes!) for the year:

Grave Peril by Jim Butcher
The Summer Knight by Jim Butcher
The Great Fire of London by Peter Ackroyd

Grave Peril and The Summer Knight are the next in order Harry Dresden. It's official--I'm hooked. I'm passing on copies to my son of the first two books. He's a Harry Potter and Mitch Albom fan, but not one of Neil Gaiman, so this will be interesting. More adventures of Harry, the only wizard openly working in Chicago, occasionally for the Special Investigations unit of the Chicago Police Department, and instigator of major events. He's funny, he's sassy, he wears a duster with a mantle (and has two of them, one canvas and one leather), and I'm absolutely along for the ride.

The Great Fire of London is Peter Ackroyd's first novel, and, wow! I wished I had read this one earlier than two of his works that are on the 1001 Must Read list. First of all, it's a pretty direct storyline, whereas Hawksmoor definitely is not, and secondly, I was almost immediately caught up in the various storylines: a small arcade is shut down and the manager goes to pieces; a film director wants to film Little Dorrit where the story takes place; his wife has an affair; a young woman attends a seance and seems to have internalized a spirit; her boyfriend makes friends with a professor/writer, who is gay and writing the screenplay; and all the storylines merge. Very effective, very intriguing, and I immediately wanted nothing so much as to read Little Dorrit!

Jul 30, 2009, 3:05 pm

With all these people picking up the Harry Dresden books, I may just have to grab the next one where I left on a read a few more myself.

Aug 2, 2009, 3:04 pm

I've only read the first Harry Dresden book and had much the same initial reaction as you, Laurie. So if you are now hooked, I guess I have to start over and get into the next books before I bow out of the series!

Edited: Aug 4, 2009, 3:33 pm

#140 & 141--Yep, gotta go for that Harry Dresden. I realized last night that several of my current literary heroes are Harry: Potter, Bosch, Dresden--must be a trend somewhere.

Well, I finished my "sleuth" month with a bang, and already going fast into August. However, this month I plan to return to my 999 Challenge list and complete several off the list. I'm about half-way through my 81 books on that list, and the rest are sitting on my shelves just waiting for the pick-up.

So through number 262:

The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde by Peter Ackroyd
The Dream Master by Roger Zelazny
Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons

The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde is an imaginary diary of Wilde's last year. Ackroyd is "spot on" in his writing as if he were Wilde, and this was quite an interesting read for that alone. In the course of the remembrances, Wilde talks about his life, his trial, his friends, and his coming death. It was really quite a trip.

The Dream Master by Roger Zelazny is probably a re-read, as I read a lot of Zelazny as a young adult. This story, about a psychiatrist who uses dream therapy through literally walking through dreams with his clients is somewhat intriguing in these days of biofeedback and electronic therapy of various sorts. There is a machine involved, but it is the story of the therapist, a new patient who is a doctor in training and who happens to be blind, and the consequences of wanting to succeed. Some of the technology is probably dated, but the story was still intriguing.

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta (author of Jellicoe Road) was a delightful coming-of-age, girl's point of view. Francesca starts a new school, which was boys only until this year; her mother, Mia, suffers an inexplicable breakdown; her father, Bob, is trying to cope; she and her brother, Luca, are farmed out to family because of Mia; Francesca's friends are trying to deal with school and the opposite sex; and Francesca is discovering first love. No ghosts, no wild adventures, some bad language; a lot of laughs; and all about family and friends. I liked this one a lot.

Carrion Comfort is Dan Simmons' second novel, an award winner, which was huge (almost 900 pages), about mind vampires. Being Simmons, there's still a lot of blood, gore, and political plotting going on, but once into the story, I stayed with it. The book is long, too long in sections, but for me, it would be like comparing King's The Stand, original versus uncut. I prefer the uncut because I get a better picture from the author of some of the characters. It's a book for fans of the author or genre, I suspect, but I liked it.

Aug 5, 2009, 2:05 am

#142: Prop2gether,

About The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde, did Ackroyd merely imitate Wilde's writing style or did he get into his mind when reminiscing about the latter's life? I'd think it's very difficult, if not impossible, to do the latter.

Aug 5, 2009, 3:00 pm

#143 Ackroyd wrote as Wilde--and he was very, very good. This book is so different in style from other Ackroyd novels I've read that I was stunned. It sounds and feels like Wilde is writing. Pretty amazing.

Aug 5, 2009, 4:46 pm

Must read this. I have a few of Ackroyd's books and am constantly amazed at the range and depth of the man's writing.

Aug 5, 2009, 10:55 pm

Thanks for the mention of The Colorado Kid. I hadn't heard of that King book. Now I'll have to go looking for it.

Aug 6, 2009, 7:19 pm

#146--It's in the mystery section, unless you just have a general fiction. It is not horror. And it was fun.

Just going to add the next few in order so I don't forget:

Scorpion Shards by Neal Shusterman
Inferno by Larry Niven AND Jerry Pournelle
Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
The Tale of An Unknown Island by Jose Saramago
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Reviews to follow....

Edited: Aug 7, 2009, 4:01 pm

Okay, plus one more to bring the total so far to 268:

Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovitch

Scorpion Shards by Neal Shusterman was an off-the-library-shelf selection based on prior works I’ve read this year (I loved Antsy Does Time), and, for me, this novel was not as entertaining as either Antsy or Full Tilt. It’s the first of a trilogy about a group of teens (6 in this book) who have various “issues” coming out at the same time. One has anger management and destruction problems; one is scared of anything and everything; one is blimping up so fast that her clothes are patched on a daily basis; one is growing smaller day by day; one poisons everything she touches; one is full of lust generating anger in males and acquiescence in females; and they feel they must unite to save the world. Well, almost all of them want to unite, and that triggers much of the interaction late in the book. I will read the rest of the trilogy, but this book basically seems to be little more than a character layout for the next book.

Inferno by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle is their second collaboration after Mote in God’s Eye, and I loved this retelling of Dante’s trip through Hades. Allen Carpentier is a science fiction writer who dies after falling from an open window at a party following a convention (just after Isaac Asimov draws away his fans). Allen finds himself following, not happily, a guide named Benito through the realms and levels of Hades, and there are several fun twists on the original storyline: slight changes in what constitutes the sins that are being punished; Allen meets mostly Americans on his trek; and there is an interesting swipe at a science fiction author who created a religion about half-way through the book. It ends with a nice twist and I recommend it.

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George was found via haturner’s thread, and is a retelling of the story of the twelve dancing princesses. Nicely done, with a dashing hero, a plucky heroine (or a dozen of them), villains of all sorts, and a bit of magic. Rated for young adults and I did enjoy the read. (Plus there are two knitting patterns used by the hero—yes, hero—in the story.)

The Tale of an Unknown Island by Jose Saramago is an extremely short fable of around 55 pages, in which a man asks his king for a boat to find the unknown island (when everyone knows that all islands have been found). His request is granted and the cleaning woman who worked for the king follows the man to the dock. The story was simple, short, and a terrific introduction to some of Saramago’s writing style. He tends to write paragraphs in which the narrator talks, the characters talk or think, the action moves on, and there are no significant breaks to tell you who is doing what. The style can be annoying, but here it is simply as if someone were just telling the story.

The Disreputable History or Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart was found on WillowRaven’s thread, a young adult novel about a young girl during her sophomore year at a New England prep school (formerly boys’ only). Frankie is known to her family as Bunny Rabbit, an appellation she despises, and her father is an “Old Boy” graduate of the school and a secret society on campus. The story is told by an omniscient narrator who breaks in periodically to add facts about Frankie or the action, and the ending is a bit abrupt, but I enjoyed Frankie’s disreputation.

Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovitch. Meh. Not enough Grandma, and way too much Stephanie.

ETA: Tried to get all the touchstones to work--no such luck!

Aug 14, 2009, 2:21 pm

And through number 275 (???):

The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy (1001)
Aviators in Early Hollywood by Shawna Kelly
The Dream-Maker's Magic by Sharon Shinn
The Hoydens and Mr. Dickens by William J. Palmer
Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids by Kenzburo Oe (1001)
England Made Me by Graham Greene (1001)
House Dick by E. Howard Hunt

Off to a legal secretary conference this weekend, no reading time! (But books due on Monday!)

Aug 14, 2009, 2:31 pm

Wow, 275 books!!!
I'm totally impressed...

Aug 14, 2009, 2:42 pm

275 books, that's quite a feat! I, too, am highly impressed by the number, variety, and quality of your reading.

Aug 14, 2009, 3:22 pm

And you know my total is a wimp number compared to some in this group! Last year I doubled the previous year's totals, but I've been having fun and haven't yet hit any of the longer books on my 999 Challenge. Thanks for the kind words.

Aug 14, 2009, 9:26 pm

Bravo, Prop! These old eyeballs won't take that kind of pace any more but I can remember when I read five miles through the snow with no shoes! Good on yer, as the Aussies say.

Aug 15, 2009, 12:50 am

>149 Prop2gether:: I really loved Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids when I read it a couple of months ago, but I've heard England Made Me is quite disappointing.

Aug 15, 2009, 2:01 am

Congratulations on 275, Laurie! What a terrific reading year you are having.

Edited: Aug 17, 2009, 7:10 pm

Thanks to all! Add two more I did get in despite the conference this weekend, two light cozies:

Aunt Dimity and the Duke
Aunt Dimity's Good Deed
both by Nancy Atherton

The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy is his fictional account of the famous murder in Los Angeles, which proposes a solution to the crime. It’s on the 1001 Must Read list, and is an excellent crime/mystery novel told in the first person. Recommended highly.

Aviators in Early Hollywood by Shawna Kelly is one of those travel/local history books with beautiful sepia covers and lots and lots of photographs. I got the book to give as a gift, but read it first for the history and to look at the pictures. The text by Kelly (herself the granddaughter of one those aviators) is often hyperbolic, but her enthusiasm for the men and women who created those amazing stunts and work in early films cannot be ignored. Her research is complete and the photos are worth it all.

The Dream-Maker’s Magic is the final book of a Sharon Shinn trilogy for young adults. Not too much new or different from the prior two volumes, except for the emphasis in this novel on the dream maker’s ability, thowever, his novel is engaging enough to recommend for young teens. I’m far more impressed with other works by Shinn, but wanted to complete the series to see how it held up—and it does fine. The endings are apparent long before the final chapter, but the stories are relatively gentle, slightly magic, coming of age tales, and, as such—there are many worse choices to make.

The Hoydens and Mr. Dickens by William J. Palmer is the third in order of his Wilkie Collins/Charles Dickens mysteries (as told by Collins in his private diaries). This was the first one which was not somewhat over-the-top on the graphic sex scenes, and I attribute that to the “hoydens” of the title. These are the women who are actively trying to change the perception of women and their roles in society, and while Collins, Dickens, the detectives of the Metropolitan, and others are trying to solve the various murders and threats, the women hold fast to their dedication to their cause. This was a far more enjoyable read than the previous novel.

Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids by Kenzaburo Oe is straight from the 1001 Must Read list—and it is well worth the read. Set in a wartime, a small group of reformatory boys mostly teen-aged, are delivered to a town which uses them for grunt labor. When plague hits the town, the townspeople desert their homes, and blockade the boys and three others (a Korean older teen, a girl found sitting with a dead body nearby, and an adult army deserter) in the town to fend for themselves. There could be lots of comparisons to Lord of the Flies, but most really are not that valid to me: This is an older group of boys who have been put into a reformatory by either the courts or their parents as opposed to the LOTF younger pre-teens of boarding school landing by shipwreck; there are at least two adult figures present who affect interactions; the townspeople aggressively deal with the boys as opposed to the rescue party in LOTF; and there is a strong family commentary running between the narrator and his younger brother in Oe’s novel. Highly recommended.

England Made Me by Graham Greene is another 1001 Must Read novel, but it was also published as The Shipwrecked. IMO, the second title is more appropriate to the story of people who are “shipwrecked” in their lives. Anthony Farrant has spent his adult life drifting from position to position and country to country. His departures have always been occasioned by problems in the businesses which occur after his hiring. His twin sister, Kate, older by minutes, however, has all the British stamina and steadiness that Tony doesn’t. As the novel begins, Kate has arranged for Tony to be employed by her boss, an international businessman named Krogh, in Sweden, the home base for Krogh’s business. This is an early Greene novel, and you can see evidences of various techniques used in later works. I found the novel ultimately satisfying in that all the characters (major and minor) have a point where character is what counts (i.e., “England made me who I am”). However, I can fully understand the frustration I’ve read in reviews and other comments about the apparent lack of action and “wrap up” ending. I found the novel interestingly topical regarding international business, as conducted by money men, and people having personal crises of conscience. There are sections which are random and disjointed, but which connect–in the end. There are characters who appear and disappear and then randomly reappear as heavy hitters in the plot line. I looked up the film on ImDB (because the copy I read was a tie-in), but I’m not sure I’d like to see the film. The storyline is moved forward at least a decade and the characters’ motivations seem to have been adjusted for the new times. For me, this was an excellent read, but it is not for everyone.

House Dick by E. Howard Hunt—yes! That Waterhouse plotter! He was writing detective fiction long before the Nixon White House scandal, and this is considered one of his best. A hotel detective must solve a murder and a theft, deal with customers, and entertain the thoughts of a semi-normal life. Written in hard, basic prose, it is a fast and fascinating read.

Aunt Dimity and the Duke and Aunt Dimity’s Good Deed by Nancy Atherton are the next in order of this cozy mystery series. While the mysteries in both are complicated enough to be entertaining, I was totally baffled by the second book essentially being an unexplained prequel to the first Aunt Dimity, establishing some continuing characters. Aunt Dimity mysteries do not include murder, although there is mayhem and intrigue galore—plus a recipe at the end of each.

Aug 18, 2009, 2:01 am

#156: I am adding your entire post (with the exception of Aunt Dimity, which I have already read) to Planet TBR. Thanks (I think!) for the recommendations.

Aug 18, 2009, 12:49 pm

#157--You're welcome (I hope!).

Aug 19, 2009, 1:26 pm

That's a Graham Greene I hadn't heard of - sounds interesting - I shall have to look it out.

Aug 19, 2009, 8:24 pm

Great choices.....My wife and I quite enjoyed Elroy's American Tabloid and my wife really enjoyed My Dark Places, a true crime about his mother's own murder.

Aug 21, 2009, 2:45 pm

#160 I watched a DVD of Ellroy walking around Los Angeles and describing his mother's murder and the sites for The Black Dahlia and it was a fascinating view of the author. I'll look it up if you're interested.

I have two more books to add:

The League of Frightened Men by Rex Stout
I Was a Rat! by Philip Pullman

The League of Frightened Men is Nero Wolfe's second novel in print, and I enjoyed this one more than Fer de Lance. The story was more direct, it has a great villain, and Nero Wolfe is forced out of his schedule. The edition I read included a copy of the film version's one-sheet showing Walter Connolly as Wolfe and Lionel Stander as Archie Goodwin. While I think Connolly is probably miscast, Stander would be a hoot! So I'll be looking for that.

I Was a Rat! by Philip Pullman is a retelling of a classic fairy tale (if you want to know which, you can check the reviews attached to the link), but I enjoyed the "moment of truth" coming in the story. A nine year old shows up on a couple's doorstep, dressed as a royal page, and says, "I was a rat." He's dirty, hungry, has terrible table manners, and may be ill (after all, he's claiming he was a rat), but the couple sets out to help him find his family. Interspersed are pages from the tabloid newspaper which affect the story line. I really enjoyed this fantasy.

Currently reading The Giant's House from an LT suggestion, Dr. Ox's Experiment because it's a Verne story I'd never heard of before, several Hard Case mysteries (seem to be on a mystery kick), and still heading to my collected 999 Challenge books to end the month.

Aug 22, 2009, 2:11 pm

Thanks, Prop, but I'm pretty sure I've seen that one.

Aug 24, 2009, 11:34 am

#162--It was interesting to watch this man talking about his obsessive behaviors with both murders. Not exactly what I thought I was checking out as a documentary!

Adding to the list:

Master of the World by Jules Verne
Dr. Ox's Experiment by Jules Verne
The Giant's House by Elizabeth McCracken (LT Recommendation)
The Light of Day by Eric Ambler
Naked in Death by J.D. Robb
Chronicler of the Winds by Henning Mankell
Wedding Song by Naguib Madfodz

Reviews to follow....

Aug 24, 2009, 12:07 pm

I'm not sure how or why I missed your post, but I've finally located--and starred--it. I'm impressed!

Aug 24, 2009, 7:45 pm

Thanks, kidzdoc!

Here's my latest reviews:

Master of the World by Jules Verne is the second part of a story of which I haven’t read the first (Robur the Conqueror), but it was just fine as a short adventure story. It’s not as original as some of Verne’s early works, but, by the same token, it’s not as detailed in its “science” making this much more of a fantasy for young readers. I enjoyed the read.

Dr. Ox's Experiment by Jules Verne is a bizarre tale of a man who conducts an experiment on a Flemish town named Quiquedone. The edition I read was published sideways (turn a standard book on end, number at the top right, and text through the two pages facing you). It was also illustrated very charmingly by William Pne du Bois. A fable, similar in some respects to Ella Minnow Pea, in which a small town which does everything in its own time and for particular reasons, suddenly finds itself out of order. The story was slow to start, but I enjoyed the satire involved and the resolutions.

The Giant's House by Elizabeth McCracken was a book I originally found on alaskabookworm’s thread. It is the story of a small town librarian and an extra tall boy and the ten or twelve years they spend in each other’s company. The ending is a bit pat, but as a debut novel, this was a charming read.

The Light of Day by Eric Ambler is the story told by Arthur Abdel Simpson of his coerced involvement in a plot to steal some sort of treasure not divulged until the actual execution of the crime (it’s the basis for the film “Topkaki”). It was well told through an unhappy-to-be-there narrator. I’m looking forward to another by Ambler.

Naked in Death by J.D. Robb is the first Eve Dallas mystery, and at my RL book club last month, one of our members recommended the series. I’ve avoided the books for a long time because Nora Roberts’ romances are not my cuppa tea, but I enjoyed this one enough to get the second one lined up. *sigh* last month’s recommendations for detectives and private investigators could keep me reading through next year!

Chronicler of the Winds by Henning Mankell is another of his African stories, this one told in installments of the nine days it took a young man to die after he was shot. The narrator incorporates his own story into the young man’s, but I was, once again, spellbound by Mankell’s ability to “cut to the chase” of the internecine wars in Africa and talk about the young people so greatly affected/

Wedding Song by Naguib Madfodz is a “Rashomon” styled story, told by four persons, about the genesis of a successful play which might or might not be telling the truth behind a tangled web of personal relationships, prison, love, death, and life. I found two of the stories difficult to read through because they seemed disjointed, but the playwright’s story was the heart of the story to me.

Aug 24, 2009, 10:05 pm

#165: Prop2gether,

Some negative reviews regard Master of the World as a feeble repeat of Captain Nemo. The latter was already a "master of the world" on the strength of superior knowledge and technology, so I wonder what new materials/concepts Verne could introduce in this book.

I might enjoy Dr Ox's Experiment too. Verne was a master at satire. Thanks for the review.

Aug 25, 2009, 4:44 am

#165: I really like the In Death series, Laurie, so I think you may be pleasantly surprised as you go along. It is not a series I read for the mysteries, but rather for the growth of the characters and their relationships.

Aug 25, 2009, 7:01 am

Hi, I have only read Epitaph for a Spy by Eric Ambler but I quite enjoyed it. Will have to look The Light of Day.. thanks

Aug 25, 2009, 1:19 pm

#166, booksontrial, I read the negative reviews on Master of the World after I read the book. There's some comparison to Nemo and the plot is certainly familiar (although this ship is far more interesting in its abilities), but this is very late Verne, so I'm willing to give him some slack on cribbing from himself. It's also shorter at around 130 pages, thus, perhaps an easier introduction to younger adventure readers. It's not Verne's best, but even his lesser effort is better than a lot of this type of book.

Dr. Ox's Experiment was slow to start, but it was fun to read.

#167, alcottacre, I'm afraid I'm getting hooked on yet another series! So far this year, I voluntarily started out reading Harry Bosch, discovered Harry Dresden through this group, then decided I'd hit up Spenser and Nero Wolfe for no reason other than I'd never read them. *sigh* My TBR is probably close to your continent!

#168 clfisha, I have to admit that I thought this was the title on the 1001 Must Read, and it was not--but I did enjoy the way the story moved and the narrator (although he is not generally happy about the plot). Happy reading.

Edited: Aug 25, 2009, 1:21 pm

>165 Prop2gether:: I've only read two Amblers, The Light of Day and The Levanter. Both were enjoyable. I need to look up more of his stuff.

Edit touchstones.

Aug 25, 2009, 10:49 pm

I didn't realize Henning Mankell wrote books set in Africa. I'll have to look for that one.

Aug 25, 2009, 11:14 pm

#171 - Mankell has written a few books set in Africa, stemming from his own experiences in the country.

From wiki - "In 1985 he founded the Avenida Theater in Maputo, Mozambique, where he spends much of his time and gets inspiration for his work. Recently he built up his own publishing house (Leopard Förlag) in order to support young talents from Africa and Sweden.

Aug 26, 2009, 11:24 am

And, several of his Kurt Wallender books have at least part of the action in Africa. I've found most of his African books aimed at younger people, to attempt to explain mostly unexplainable adult actions. Mankell spends a good deal of his time in Africa.

Aug 27, 2009, 1:44 pm

#169 Laurie, if you only have a Continent TBR, you are still behind me - mine morphed into Planet TBR in June, lol.

I understand what you are saying about series, though. It seems I can never finish one before another is demanding my attention.

Aug 27, 2009, 5:22 pm

#174--well, I didn't know the current status of your TBR--I'm pretending mine is an iceberg. All I can see is the titles, not the volume of books beneath the list!

Aug 27, 2009, 5:28 pm

#175: Is your iceberg melting is the question . . .

Aug 27, 2009, 7:05 pm

Well, there is the probability of global warming here....

Aug 28, 2009, 6:44 pm

Okay, I'm up to 292 books this year, but only half-way through my 999 Challenge because of distractions....

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson (1001)
The Efficiency Expert by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Gold Dust on His Shirt by Irene Howard (Early Reviewer)
The Gutter and the Grave by Ed McBain
No House Limit by Steve Fisher
Speeding Bullet by Neal Shusterman

Reviews to follow...I'm on my way to San Diego to visit with my daughter (there on a business trip).

Aug 29, 2009, 12:23 am

Have a wonderful trip!

Aug 30, 2009, 5:32 am

>178 Prop2gether: Wow, Miss Pettigrew is on the 1001 list! I didn't even realise. Looking forward to your review :)

Aug 31, 2009, 4:40 pm

Thanks for the good wishes! I ended up hiking from the waterfront to Balboa Park Zoo entrance, and then from Belmont Park to a block from the Marine Corps Recruitment Depot--on Saturday, and am I glad I had my knee brace, a hat, and water! In any event, here are the latest of the reviews:

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson is a light-hearted romp through one day in the live of a governess for hire, misdirected by her agency to a young lady in need of a personal assistant. The young lady’s loves, friends, and assignations all have to be dealt with, Miss Pettigrew herself expands her personal horizons, and it all ends quite nicely with the dawn of the following day. I enjoyed the book, but I really enjoyed the film version despite several altered events. For its day, this book was probably something of a surprise, but some of the attitudes are dated and the filmwriters managed to shift focus just enough to keep it all in perspective. Recommended for a light, fun read—and yes, it’s on the 1001 Must Read list.

The Efficiency Expert by Edgar Rice Burroughs is a murder mystery by the man who most famously wrote Tarzan stories. This slightly “noir” mystery involves a young man, just graduated from college, who is determined to prove himself in the city. After weeks of looking for a “real job” and making the acquaintance of several “low” characters, he finally takes whatever job he can to support himself. That proves to be a succession of jobs, at all of which he manages to meet the same pair of young ladies. He finally gets himself hired as an efficiency expert at a plant where the owner is the father of one of the girls and the manager is her fiancé. When a murder occurs at the plant—who did it and why? There’s not a whole lot of suspense as to who or why, but the story of a man finding himself and love was sufficient to recommend this to fans of “noir” mystery alongside Woolrich or Hammett or Chandler. It’s not as good as those writers, but it’s certainly more than adequate.

Gold Dust on His Shirt by Irene Howard was an Early Reviewer memoir of growing up in the gold mining towns of Canada (and, briefly, Idaho) during the first half of the 20th Century. It’s a very personalized account of the everyday life of the mostly Swedish and Norwegian (Howard’s father was Swedish; her mother Norwegian) families in an era which was still a “wild west” scenario. Life was hard, dangerous, and, for a working man, not particularly munificent. Howard also talks about the unions which grew from the mining towns, the lack of health care and birth control which contributed to widowers, and the family structure which supported everything. It’s an interesting read for historians, more so than the casual reader, but Howard has a nice turn of phrasing which keeps even the “history” interesting.

The Gutter and the Grave by Ed McBain is one of the series Hard Case Mysteries, which I recently discovered at my local library *sigh* another series *sigh* which is dedicated to publishing old and new “noir” or “hard-boiled” mystery stories. This rewrite ( by the author) of an earlier work tells of Matt Cordell, Bowery drunk who used to be a private investigator until he caught his wife in bed with someone else. Having lost his license for beating the man with a gun, Matt is pulled from the gutter to help an old friend solve the mystery of missing cash in his business. The story’s slick, cool, and the characters absolutely part of the “noir” package—but it’s like romance novels, once you start. . . .

No House Limit by Steve Fisher, another Hard Case mystery, about early Las Vegas and a lone wolf casino owner trying to hold on to property. It started slow, but grew in intensity, and I enjoyed this book in the series.

Speeding Bullet by Neal Shusterman is a young adult novel about a teen who discovers he can intuit dangerous situations and save people with his speedy reactions (i.e., faster than a speeding bullet). He’d like to shake the mayor’s hand, but really doesn’t like being considered a hero. There are some ripples along the way with his best friend and a new girlfriend, and some family twists, which make this an interesting read.

Sep 1, 2009, 11:27 am

#181: Adding Speeding Bullet to Planet TBR. I read Shusterman's Everlost recently and enjoyed it, so I am game to give him another try. Thanks for the recommendation, Laurie.

Sep 1, 2009, 6:18 pm

#182, I really loved Antsy Does Time earlier this year, but find some of Shusterman's stuff a little off the mark for me. However, Speeding Bullet was on target, and I enjoyed it a lot.

So to end August:

Thief of Souls by Neal Shusterman
Count Karlstein by Philip Pullman
A Murder, A Mystery, and a Marriage by Mark Twain
Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey
Murder on the Celtic by Conrad Allen

And to start September:

Roseanna by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo (sorry about the umlauts--my computerese is deficient here!)

Thief of Souls by Shusterman is the second in the Star Shards series, and is a better paced story, although the characters are still not the most likeable teens around. In this book, the five remaining shards meet up with a man who convinces them that they should not only be worshipped, but that they should take over the world (via Hoover Dam). A lot of middle books in series lose oomph in the story--this one gained some. But I'm really not sure I'd like the shards to really reach their full potentials, either as individuals or as a team. Perhaps the closing book will bring it all together.

Count Karlstein by Philip Pullman is another of his strange little fables about magic and eerie beings, this one told mostly by the maidservant who is trying to save the young ladies from a horrid fate. The middle of the book has individual chapters by various of the characters as they work their way to the resolution, and is bookended by the maidservant's tale. It was fun, not too scary, and not too long.

A Murder, A Mystery, and a Marriage was Mark Twain's attempt to have a writing contest with some of his fellow writers. He concocted a generic plot line, and his goal was to have writers such as Howells and James also write stories. The story is short, has a very funny twist at the end involving another famous writer, but Twain's challenge was ignored, and the papers were buried in his other works. Roy Blount has introduced and afterworded this very short story to explain the background. And there are marvelous illustrations, worth the book alone.

continued in the next message...

Sep 1, 2009, 6:27 pm

Miss Pym Disposes was a pull from a shelf because someone in a thread commented that while others go to (name a murder mystery writer), he always goes back to Tey. I wanted to know why--and this was a great introduction to her work. A contemporary of Christie, Marsh, and others, Tey's writing here is much lighter than those writers, and the murder is more incidental to the study of the various characters involved in the story. An accidental writer of a psychology text (what we'd call "pop psych"), Miss Pym returns a favor for a school chum and agrees to lecture at a school for physical training. She ends up staying, things get complicated, and there is an accident. I knew the who about the time of the accident, but was too delighted with the story to drop it. I liked this one, and will look for others.

Murder on the Celtic by Conrad Allen completes the shipboard murder mysteries solved by George Porter Dillman and Genevieve Masefield. This time, the celebrity onboard is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his wife, and A Study in Scarlet is one of the issues to be solved.

Starting September, I was getting "first in series" books as a birthday present for my brother who travels all the time on business, and picked up a reissue of Roseanna featuring the Swedish detective Martin Beck. This is marvelous police procedure story-telling. Henning Mankell in his introduction talks about how influential the series of ten books was, but how he recalls his first reading of Roseanna--and how time is an element in the story. This might be slow for readers of some modern detective novels, but I loved it.

Sep 2, 2009, 12:56 am

#184: I second the recommendation of Josephine Tey. The Daughter of Time is my favorite by her, but you really cannot go wrong with any of her stuff.

Sep 2, 2009, 6:56 am

oooh, yes to The Daughter of Time, but also Brat Farrar (actually, alcottacre's right, she's almost always good!)

Sep 2, 2009, 6:58 am

I find the Mark Twain writing contest thingy fascinating - G. K. Chesterton did something similar with his friends when he was a young man, it's partly why Basil Howe (one of my top reads for last year) came in to being I think.

Sep 2, 2009, 1:10 pm

#187--I found the story short but fun, while others seem to be more taken with the background story as told by Blount. There were certainly no characterizations or long plot lines to unravel, but Twain so rarely missed the mark, that this sketch was fine by me.

I have once again resolved to read off some of my TBR which is listed in my 999 Challenge this month, so I'm trying very hard to stay away from the libraries and the book stores.

Sep 6, 2009, 7:03 pm

I almost bought a book today at Value Village (but kept my promise to myself to buy no more books until I go the a massive neighbourhood yard sale next weekend) called An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson. This was a new one for me! This series features Josephine Tey as a character. Has anyone read any of Upsons books?
Any thoughts?

Sep 8, 2009, 1:57 pm

dihiba--we'll have to see who responds to your question. This was my introduction to Josephine Tey, and I enjoyed it.

And, just so you can see that my goals for the month are woefully behind (read books from my 999 Challenge list), here are the latest:

Death Masks by Jim Butcher
Once Upon a Time in the North by Philip Pullman
Shattered Sky by Neal Shusterman
Blood Rites by Jim Butcher
The Malevolent Comedy by Edward Marston/Keith Miles
The Big Book of Grimm by Jonathan Vankin and 50 artists
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Five Days in London, May 1940 by John Lukacs
The City of Ember by Jeanne DePrau
The Life of Insects by Viktor Pelevin
The Death of Achilles by Boris Akunin

Reviews to follow. . . .

Sep 9, 2009, 8:16 pm

I really like the Akunin books, so I am looking forward to the review of that one. I am also interested in your input on the Shusterman book. Get busy, woman! :)

Sep 10, 2009, 5:47 pm

Okay, okay, here's the first batch:

Death Masks and Blood Rites by Jim Butcher were the next in order for the Harry Dresden series. I love this series! The characters are interesting, the plot is ongoing, and, hey—a wizard working in Chicago? I’ll certainly keep reading.

Once Upon a Time in the North is a prequel story to the His Dark Materials trilogy which tells how Lee Scoresby and Iorek Byrinson meet. It’s somewhat lightweight, but a nice “fill-in” for background. There’s also a game in the book which I suspect is more complex than the storyline.

Shattered Sky is the closing novel of the Star Shard Trilogy by Neal Shusterman. It’s far more complex in story and theme than the two previous novels, and I would have enjoyed this series more as one, edited, novel. Shusterman’s works have interested me since I read Antsy Does Time, and I also enjoyed Full Tilt, but some of his work is not as entertaining. If you read this series, I recommend reading it in order, one book immediately followed by the next, for best enjoyment.

The Malevolent Comedy by Edward Marston/Keith Miles (depending on what country you’re in) is another of the Nick Bracewell mysteries set with a theatre company in Elizabethan London. Not too thought-provoking, but I enjoy the series and the characters are like friends I get to share a story with every so often.

and on to the next. . . .

Sep 10, 2009, 5:48 pm

The next four books were all from reading 75er threads, and I thank you all!

The Big Book of Grimm by Jonathan Vankin (and 50 artists) was found on beserene’s thread, and what a lot of fun this graphic presentation of the stories told by the Brothers Grimm was to read! Vankin went back to the original stories, played a bit with the language, but left the gruesome and horrific aspects in place. Then various graphic artists drew each tale and, while I’m not a fan of all the styles, it was highly entertaining to see how varied the pictures were on the page. Finally, my favorite part of the book was the table of contents where the various stories are sorted by theme—just take a look and see how accurate Vankin’s choices seem to be.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is on a lot of threads, but I found my interest piqued by the writings on whisper1’s thread. A high school girl who ended the big party of the summer by calling the police is having a bad year. There’s trouble at home, there’s trouble at school, there’s trouble with friends and family. She tells her story in an elliptical fashion, which works very well, and I highly recommend this novel—especially to high school age teens.

Five Days in London, May 1940 by John Lukacs was found on petermc’s thread, and, while I’ve read a decent amount of WWII history and am familiar with the general time period when Churchill became prime minister and the outline of Dunkirk, this book is a detailed study of the period, the politics, and the men in the War Cabinet. It may be too dense for someone who hasn’t got some idea of the world at war at that exact time, however, it was a fascinating study in the inner workings of getting England into full-scale war against Hitler.

The City of Ember by Jeanne DePrau was discovered on shewhowearsred’s thread, and, *sigh*, I will now be reading yet another series! This YA novel set in a city which is surrounded by dark—complete and utter black—and which seems to be slowly falling apart. Recent school graduates Lina and Doon swap their designated graduation jobs (she becomes a messenger and he goes to work underground in the Pipeworks), and discover that something is wrong in the city. Very readable, good for the middle-school level through high-school level, I enjoyed this book.

And here's the third installment. . . .

Sep 10, 2009, 5:51 pm

And the last of the last batch:

The Life of Insects by Viktor Pelevin is a pull from the 1001 Must Read list. I read Pelevin’s contribution to the Myth series earlier this year—and I’m glad I did. I was prepared for just about anything to happen, and, in this story of females and males in Russia/Soviet Union, where the characters are sometimes human, sometimes insects of various sorts, and it really all flows together in a story. It’s not Kafka and Gregor Samsa—these insects are normal-sized—but it is an interesting commentary on various political happenings of the time. Is it a “must read”? Maybe not, but I was entertained enough to finish the book and I may reread it at some point.

The Death of Achilles by Boris Akunin finds Erast Fandorin returned to Moscow with a Japanese servant from his time abroad. There is an unexplained death, a conspiracy, and the story is almost twice-told: once from Fandorin’s perspective and once from a bandit’s perspective. I enjoy the Fandorin books, and look forward to the next in series.

And two more this month, bringing me (OMG!) to 310 read this year:

Glory in Death by J.D. Robb
The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman

Sep 10, 2009, 6:00 pm

#193 - Glad you enjoyed (is that the right word?) Five Days in London, May 1940 by John Lukacs. My review was based on a borrowed copy, and while it has its faults I very soon after bought the hardback for my permanent library. Readers who worry about reading this book, might instead prefer Luckacs much shorter Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat: The Dire Warning, which covers much of the same ground. I read and reviewed this book on one of my threads as well, if anyone is interested :)

Sep 10, 2009, 6:34 pm

Actually, petermc, I'm going to find a copy for a Christmas gift for my ex, who earned a Master's degree in history, specializing in WWII (the Pacific Theater). However, he is fascinated with the ETO and this would be a good fast read for him. And, yes, "enjoyed" is the word. I knew enough to follow who was who and what was what, but I don't think the casual reader would have that luck. This is a book for readers of history.

Sep 14, 2009, 6:16 pm

Well, another weekend cleaning out my apartment--it's amazing how much room becomes available when you junk the junk.

In other news on the LT front, I'm now officially at 315 books with the following:

Deadly Beloved by Max Allan Collins
Why the Devil Chose New England for His Work by Jason Brown
V for Vendetta by Moore/Lloyd
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (999)
In the Days of the Comet by H. G. Wells

As usual, reviews here to follow, but I did post for a couple of the above when I added them to my library.

Edited: Sep 14, 2009, 7:11 pm

So, we'll try posting directly to my thread (always a dangerous proposition!):

Glory in Death by J. D. Robb is the second in the Eve Dallas series, and I am enjoying this series so far, and much more for the character development that is so lacking in the Stephanie Plum books which have often been published concurrently. I like Eve.

The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman is a mystery series for YA readers, set in the Victorian period, and is the first in a series featuring Sally Lockhart at the feisty heroine. The mystery was good, the characters entertaining, and, *sigh* another series to read. This one involves Sally's discovery that her father's death may be murder, and the tracking of the ruby of the title, while avoiding nefarious persons who cross her path.

Deadly Beloved (can't get touchstone to work properly) by Max Allan Collins is another of the Hard Case Mysteries, written in noir style, and either reprints of works or new works solicited for the series. The books are well-known for their cover art evoking the paperback editions of yesteryear, but the stories are pretty good as well. This novel is the first book version of a graphic novel heroine, Michael Tree, known as Ms. Tree (she likes the pun).

Why the Devil Chose New England for His Work by Jason Brown is a set of eleven short stories told by residents of the town of Vaughn, Maine. Not the least upbeat, they are well-written, but I found the constant iteration of negativity a bit much. On the other hand, the stories began to remind me of similar touches in Winesburg, Ohio by Anderson and Edgar Lee Masters' wonderful Spoon River Anthology, neither of which is particularly upbeat either. Recommended but with a cautionary note: if you want happy endings, these stories will not do it for you.

V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd was a selection because I've become a fan of the movie, having watched it several times. Its comparison in timing and politics to Nineteen Eighty-Four by Orwell is more easily seen in the book (compiled from the comic books it was released in), but this is one time I truly prefer the movie to the book. Both are disjointed, but it was easier to follow the plot onscreen than on the page, and the politics of the 1980's (when V was originally published) were more focused for me in the film. Still--it's a classic of its genre and worth the reading.

The Graveyard Book is the second Neil Gaiman that I've truly enjoyed reading. I had to laugh at the library designation of YA/Horror because it did win the Newbery, not usually awarded to teen reading, and I did not find the book scary. It is a retelling of the Mowgli stories from The Jungle Book, but with the unique Gaiman twist--Nobody Owens toddled into the graveyard the night his family was murdered, and the graveyard residents raise and protect him. (If you're wondering, the other Gaiman book I've enjoyed is Neverwhere, not Coraline or Stardust.

In the Days of the Comet by H.G. Wells--I'm a bit piqued by this one, so I'll think on what I want to say for a later entry.

Sep 14, 2009, 10:23 pm

>198 Prop2gether:: Prop2gether,

Somehow I have the impression that you don't get "piqued" by books very often. So now I'm intrigued, can't wait to read your review. :) BTW, which one of H.G.Wells books do you like best?

Sep 15, 2009, 3:59 am

#198: Glad to see you are enjoying the 'In Death' series. It remains a favorite of mine. I like Eve, too. She kicks butt!

Sep 15, 2009, 9:02 am

I enjoyed the first two books in Pullman's Victorian series... but had to stop after the second one and haven't managed to pick up the next one. It's in my plans, but... you'll understand when you read it. I'll be back to see what you think!!! :)

I'm also glad to hear you enjoyed City of Ember. It's been on my shelf for *ages*, but I simply haven't had the time to pick it. I wasn't sure it would be worth the time, but it's good to hear someone else thinks so. I'll have to pull it off the shelf sometime soon!

Sep 15, 2009, 9:47 am

Re Pullman's books, if you're interested, there were (?)BBC TV adaptations made of the first two in the series, with Billie Piper as Ruby - they were really very good...

Re Neil Gaiman, sounds like you're liking the ones I liked best too - have you got American Gods lined up yet? ;)

Sep 15, 2009, 12:40 pm

LOL!! booksontrial--I really meant the part of the definition for "piqued" that means "vexed." Having bullied two children through The Time Machine (Mom! It's boring!) I finally reread it myself and found much of it tedious and repetitive. I've read several other Wells novels off the 1001 Must Read list and library shelves. I enjoyed reading both The Island of Dr. Moreau and The Invisible Man.

I found In the Days of the Comet an extremely long read for a short novel. It's bookended by scenes of a young man who is listening to an old man discuss the "Change" that happened when a comet collided into the Earth. (I should add that I'm a huge fan of Lucifer's Hammer by Niven and Pournelle, a more modern story about the same type of event.) The old man then reads his personal history, fascicle by fascicle, in an attempt to tell how different life and living has become since that event. In actuality, he tells the story, in excruciating detail, of the short period before the comet fell and and immediately thereafter--a story of small town life combined with his first love/loss of his love/attempt to regain his love, and the aftermath of the green gas which covers the Earth as the comet lands, and leaves people wanting to live in a utopian society. I'm not telling the tale--all that information is in the prologue--but I found the story went on and on and on and on to the point that I really didn't care much what happened next. I would reread The Time Machine before I'd reread this novel.

Sep 15, 2009, 12:51 pm

#200--alcottacre--yes, I'm hooked again! I do like the fact that Eve is interesting. She's somewhat, but not totally predictable, and that's fascinating.

#201 dk_phoenix--I have the second Sally Lockhart from the library and will probably read it next week. I'm just finishing another Pullman book I found on tututhefirst's thread, The Scarecrow and His Servant and it is a delightful children's adventure story.

City of Ember is another children's/young teen book that I've discovered on threads in this group. It's an extremely fast read, and it was fun to stay with the characters. Even the oh-so-sequel ending was okay with me.

#202--flissp, I've seen the reference to the BBC series, but haven't found it at my library. I think the stories would translate quite well to screen, and, at least this first one, was a good mystery (better than many so-called adult ones!).

And I have several other Gaiman books on the shelf, including American Gods and The Anansi Boys. Do you have a recommendation?

Sep 15, 2009, 1:07 pm

Hmmm, not everyone who likes Neil Gaiman here on LT likes American Gods, but personally, it's one of my favourites and I'd go with that, particularly if you enjoyed Neverwhere. On the other hand, a lot more people loved Anansi Boys...

If you like graphic novels, The Sandman is fantastic too, (although quite up and down and, as I'm rediscovering at the moment, at times quite grusome).

I would have to say that I definitely prefer his novels aimed at adults to those aimed at children (although, I agree that The Graveyard Book is wonderful) - wish he'd get on with another one!

Re Sally Lockheart, there's a boxset of both for sale very cheaply on the UK Amazon site, but I suppose it'll probably be less widely available in the US.

Edited: Sep 16, 2009, 6:27 pm

I figured I better get this one in before the last answer is out of date again:

What were the last three books you bought?

Roseanna (first Martin Beck mystery); The Idiot; and four Hard Case Mysteries
(These are what I bought for myself as opposed to gifts.)

What are the next three books you want to buy?

Probably the next in order for the various series which feature Harry Dresden, Martin Beck, Captain Alatriste or something by Orwell or Verne.

What book would you most like from someone?

Whatever strikes that person’s fancy—I got lovely gifts from my LT secret Santa last year, and Ender has gone on to my daughter and her friends. I’ll try just about any book or author.

Which book would you most like to give someone as a present?

It so depends on who I’m gifting! For a science fiction/fantasy buff, I go to Piper, Niven/Pournelle, or Bradbury. For a mystery fan, it’s Henning Mankell and his detective, Kurt Wallender. For a general fiction reader, I give Saroyan, Austin, and MacDonald. For a history fan, I give something in the particular period of interest.

Who are your three favorite authors?

Steinbeck, Shakespeare, Spark (sibilant here!) Spark is new for me, having been introduced via the 1001 Must Read list last year. I love her style and wit.

Which three books will you buy as soon as they are published?

The last three books I reserved and stood in line for were the last three of the Harry Potter series. Before that, I stood in line to have Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisl) autograph books. Now I scan the tables and shelves looking for something of interest. There are too many books on my shelves at home to be rushing to get something hot off the presses.

Who are your three favorite characters in books?

Winnie-the-Pooh (a bear of very little brain)
Kurt Wallender/Harry Dresden
Rhett Butler

Which three books did you inherit (not necessarily physically, but as recommendations from parents?

Hitty: Her First Hundred Years
the entire set of Oz books by L. Frank Baum
Madeline Brandeis’s Children of Many Lands series

Which three books would you love to pass down to your children?

All my books are going to my children to read or give away, including those from my parents’ and grandparents’ libraries.

Which three books do you most often recommend?

The Human Comedy by William Saroyan
Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.

If you were going into hospital, which three books would you take with you?

When I end up in hospital, I will probably take:

the latest Kurt Wallender/Captain Alatriste/Harry Dresden/Martin Beck available to me
Harry Potter
Pride and Prejudice

If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you want to find there?

Norton’s Anthology of World Literature
Shakespeare (all of it in one book)

Your house is burning down and you can only rescue three books, which would you grab?

The Annotated Shakespeare –all three volumes in one slipcase
my great-grandmother’s book of Robert Browning’s poetry
my grandfather’s copy of a history of Hollywood circa 1920

What book do you want to be buried with?

None. I want my books to continue to be read.

What are you reading right now?

As of today, I am reading The Carbon Diaries 2015, Outlander, Cryptonomicon, Somewhere Towards the End, and Grifter’s Game.

Edited to fix the way too much bold!

Sep 16, 2009, 6:28 pm

And that nerd test...

Sheesh! Whodathunkit?

Sep 16, 2009, 7:19 pm

And this one prompts some weird and exotic answers based on the titles read this year:

Describe yourself:

The Left Handed Woman

How do you feel:

Lost in a Good Book

Describe where you currently live:

At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances

If you could go anywhere, where would you go:

A Sentimental Journey to France and Italy

Your favorite form of transportation:

Parnassus on Wheels

Your best friend is:

The Traveler

You and your friends are:

The Trusting and the Maimed

What’s the weather like:


You fear:

Where Angels Fear to Tread

What’s the best advice you have to give:

You Learn by Living

Thought for the day:

The Trick is to Keep Breathing

How I would like to die:

Live and Let Die

My soul’s present condition:

Not Quite What I was Planning

Edited: Sep 16, 2009, 9:19 pm

#206: Prop2gether,

About the three books you most often recommend, I just read your review of The Human Comedy. It seems like an adaptation of Homer's Iliad. So why not recommend Iliad instead? And what do you like about Little Fuzzy?


Nicely done! Here is a little challenge: Can you use quotations instead of titles to answer the questions? :)

Sep 16, 2009, 11:40 pm

Whew! *pants slightly* I just finished catching up on your thread... You've been reading a ton, for sure...

I've read American Gods and I thought it was decent, but not great. I'm just jumping in on Gaiman because I am currently reading all the Sandmans and I just finished Neverwhere, as well.

Edited: Sep 17, 2009, 12:10 pm

#209--booksontrial, first, I would recommend the Iliad, but many find it quite daunting (including me at one point), especially in the full version. Saroyan's novel is simply another "take" on a familiar story. The Human Comedy is a wonderfully human and humane approach to growing up, or, in more modern parlance, coming of age. It's quite obvious from the boys' names and the fact that the story is set during wartime that the inspiration is the Iliad, but I just love Saroyan's novel. The film starring Mickey Rooney is fabulous, and was Saroyan's first writing of the story. He got bounced when he refused to further edit his script, and turned the script into the novel. There's sorrow, there's love, there's delight, there's some fabulous one-liners, and it's all wrapped up in a nice relatively short novel.

Little Fuzzy was my first "adult" science fiction read (I had gone through Cameron's delightful The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet (and its sequels) in elementary school.) I was badly stung by a nasty large green insect at the Kansas home of a friend of my mother's, and I was offered this book to take away the sting. It was a paperback with a "babyish" title, but I was hooked on the story very fast. Piper managed in a short novel to ask a lot of still very relevant questions: what exactly constitutes intelligence? Should we be more aware of the differences, or the similarities, between sentient beings? What exactly constitutes irreparable damage to a planet/living cycle/community? I recommend it often today, especially to non-readers of *gasp* science fiction as a gentle introduction to the field.

And hmmm, quotes might be easier. I'll have to see what can be done here.

#210--cauterize, thanks for stopping by. I'm finding that both Neil Gaiman and Neal Shusterman are hit or miss with me so far--sometimes fabulous, sometimes not. I have several books by each waiting, so I guess I'll just have to read them to find out!

Sep 17, 2009, 7:15 pm

Okay, bookson’s suggestion, but it’s harder to find one quote to fit each question:

Describe yourself:

“One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.” (A. A. Milne)

“I was walking down the street wearing glasses when the prescription ran out.” (Steven Wright)

How do you feel:

“Well, if I called the wrong number, why did you answer the phone?” (James Thurber)

Describe where you currently live:

“Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles.”
(Frank Lloyd Wright)

“Los Angeles is 72 suburbs in search of a city.”
(Dorothy Parker)

“This is beautiful downtown Burbank.” (Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In)

If you could go anywhere, where would you go:

“To unpathed waters, undreamed shores.”
(The Winter’s Tale Act IV, Sc. 4.)

Your favorite form of transportation:

“Sometimes when I am driving I get so angry at inconsiderate drivers that I want to scream at them. But then I remember how insignificant that is, and I thank God that I have a car and my health and gas. That was phrased wrong - normally you wouldn't say, thank God I have gas.”
(Ellen DeGeneres)

Your best friend is:

“My friends were poor but honest.”
(All’s Well that Ends Well Act I, Sc. 3)

"You can't help respecting anybody who can spell TUESDAY, even if he doesn't spell it right; but spelling isn't everything. There are days when spelling Tuesday simply doesn't count." (A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner)

You and your friends are:

“What’s mine is yours, and what is yours is mine.”
(Measure for Measure Act V Sc. 1.

What’s the weather like:

“It is no use to grumble and complain; It's just as cheap and easy to rejoice; When God sorts out the weather and sends rain - Why, rain's my choice.” (James Whitcomb Riley)

You fear:

“Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again?” (A. A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh)

What’s the best advice you have to give:

“Truth is truth / To the end of reckoning.”
(Measure for Measure Act V, Sc. 1.)

Thought for the day:

“The hand is quicker than the eye, but only the nose runs.” (The Human Comedy)

How I would like to die:

“What dies is not a life’s value, but the worn-out (or damaged) container of the self, together with the self’s awareness of itself; away that goes into nothingness, with everyone else’s.” (Somewhere Towards the End)

“Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep. “
(The Tempest Act IV, Sc. 1.)

My soul’s present condition:

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” (Hamlet, Act I, sc. 5)

Sep 17, 2009, 8:21 pm

#212: Prop2gether,

Bravo! Those are some great quotes / answers. Somehow I got the feeling you memorized some, if not all, Shakespeare's plays. Can you use only his quotes? I'm sure he's got an answer for everything. :)

Sep 18, 2009, 2:35 pm

LOL, yes, I have a fair number of Shakespearean quotes memorized, but, to be fair, I have a lot of Milne's poetry in that trove as well. Certainly between the two of them, Will and Pooh could solve most of the world's problems. If not, either of the Emily's would do--Dickenson or Bronte, and I do love Browning as well.

Sep 18, 2009, 5:11 pm

OMG-319 books so far, including the following, all found on 75er threads:

The Scarecrow and His Servant by Philip Pullman
The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd
Somewhere Towards the End by Diana Athill
Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

reviews to follow, per usual....

Sep 20, 2009, 11:29 am

I read Assassination Vacation last year and really enjoyed it. I hope you liked it!

Sep 21, 2009, 7:31 pm

Reviews of the four books mentioned in #215:

The Scarecrow and His Servant by Philip Pullman was first found on tututhefirst's thread, and I loved it. A relatively straightforward fantasy involving Lord Scarecrow, a boy, Jack, who becomes his servant (and the "brains" of the duo), who are off on an adventure to both see the world and return "home" to Spring Valley. The evil Buffalonis are trying to stop the trek, and there's a shipwreck and a trial, and a happy ending.

The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd was found on aviatakh's thread, and it was a very nice dystopian coming-of-age novel. Laura Brown, 16 YO and dealing with her band, family, and school, is appalled to realize that the UK's volunteering to ration carbon and energy as an example to the rest of the world means struggle and sacrifice. Starting January 1 and ending in December, the diaries are both entertaining and scary in their possible reality. Probably not for younger teens, but I would recommend it to high schoolers, especially for the types of essays which Laura finds she must write for class.

Somewhere Towards the End by Diana Athill was found on kiwidoc's thread. This slim memoir of discovering that while life makes a turn at about 70, there are still possibilities. I've read some reviews of this book which were annoyed with Athill's apparent elitism (which is based on her education and use of language), but frankly, I ignored them as she suggests the reader do, and just followed her story, chapter by chapter. I enjoyed the read.

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell, which I found on cauterize's thread, was an absolute, unrelieved hoot to read. I haven't laughed out loud while reading a non-fiction book since I first read Road Fever by Tim Cahill. Sarah is somewhat obsessed with assassination history in this country, and in this book, she is trying to visit all the relevant sites (birth, death, occurrence, of interest) that relate to the assassinations of Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley. While telling of her pilgrimages, she also manages to tell a fair amount of detailed history (complete with references). And I am delighted with her nephew, Owen, who is of one mind with his aunt--graveyards are interesting places.

All in all--a great week of reading from 75er threads. Thanks to all!

Sep 21, 2009, 8:20 pm

>217 Prop2gether:: You might also try Vowell's Take the Cannoli and The Partly Cloudy Patriot. I also read The Wordy Shipmates but didn't think it was quite as good as the other three...a bit drier.

Sep 23, 2009, 1:18 am

#217: I'm glad you enjoyed Assassination Vacation! Sarah's nephew is quite the cute, morbid little boy, isn't he! LOL... I'd love to meet children like that.

Edited: Sep 23, 2009, 6:43 pm

#219-LOL--you'd love my daughter then! When she was about Owen's age, she kept trying to pull the tombstones out of the ground in Philadelphia, and couldn't understand why, if they wiggled, they didn't come up.

It's been a hectic couple of weeks, what with trying to clear out half a house for a new housemate and major computer conversions at work, but the following are on the records, and reviews will follow:

When I Forgot by Elina Hirvonen (from rachbxl's thread)
The Summer Sherman Loved Me by Jane St. Anthony (from whisper's thread)
Baby Moll by John Farris (Hard Case Crime)
The Shadow of the North by Philip Pullman (book 2 of the Sally Lockhart mysteries and not touchstoned)
The Life and Times of Michael K by J. M. Coetzee (1001)
Grifter's Game by Lawrence Block (Hard Case Crime)
The Dead Man's Brother by Roger Zelazny (Hard Case Crime)
The Begum's Fortune by Jules Verne

It's amazing what happens when you don't have television or other diversions....

Sep 23, 2009, 11:04 pm

I second Tads recommendation of Take the Cannoli and The Partly Cloudy Patriot. They're my favorite Vowell books.
I can't wait to read what you thought of The Summer Sherman Loved Me.

Sep 26, 2009, 8:52 pm

I've never even heard of that Verne book... can't wait :) I enjoyed the first Sally Lockhart mystery so I'm looking forward to your words on that one. I don't think I've seen it over here even though I did buy the first one in Bucharest...

Bon courage for all the house disruptions ... may peace reign soon!

Sep 28, 2009, 6:19 pm

When I Forgot by Elina Hirvonen was found on rachbxl’s thread, and is a relatively gentle story of a woman and a man, together, but with their separate pasts, trying to move on. The woman’s story reminded me a great deal of the Laura Linney storyline in “Love, Actually” but the back and forth of the narrative dealt with both characters, some politics outside of Finland (i.e., 9/11 feelings overseas), and family dynamics. It was a measured book, step by step until its end, and I am glad I read it.

The Summer Sherman Loved Me by Jane St. Anthony was found on whisper’s thread, and is a very gentle story of first love and a summer adventure. I found the story a bit slow, but that may simply have been that the pace of the action was leisurely and solid. I’m not sure I would recommend this to older teens, but I think it might be perfect for middle schoolers, who haven’t yet figured out exactly how to respond to “growing up.”

Baby Moll by John Farris is another of the Hard Case Crime novels which I seem to be reading at breakneck speed. I liked this one very much, where the man who escaped working for a mob boss finds himself dragged back into protecting the man—just before the wedding which would have sealed his new legitimate life. (Think Godfather III and you have the lines!) I liked the pace and writing of this one.

The Shadow of the North by Philip Pullman is the second in the Sally Lockhart mystery series, and wow! Has Sally grown up in give years! She has her own financial consulting agency, Frederick and the gang are running the photography studio and, every so often, playing investigative agent. This time around Sally is determined to stay independent, even if it means losing Frederick, but gets herself and the others all wound up in another series of murders and mystery. The ending was definitely not a children’s book ending, but teen reading level is fine. I’m into the third in the series to see what happens now.

The Life and Times of Michael K by J. M. Coetzee is from the 1001 Must Read list, and this was a keeper for me. Coetzee has been hit or miss for me (I loved Waiting for Barbarians, and liked Dusklands and Slow Man, but did not care for Foe or Disgraced. Michael K was born with a harelip (but, fortunately, closed palate) in a family and life situation in South Africa where survival is a daily struggle. He has simply lived his life up to the point where he and his dying mother leave to return to her birthplace even though they do not have the proper passes to travel. From that small event, Michael’s life careens from point to point, including his mother’s inevitable death and consequences, intern camps, living on the land and in the land, escaping from rebel troops, hospitalization, and more. Michael’s consistency in an inconsistent world is a miracle of sorts, and the writing draws you into Michael’s life and the world around him. I recommend this one.

Grifter’s Game by Lawrence Block is yet another of the Hard Case Crime books, this one involving a con being conned. It’s typical of Block’s writing, I think, but I did like the tweaking of the standard ending enough to say this one is just a bit above average. Certainly recommended for fans.

The Dead Man’s Brother by Roger Zelazny is a Hard Case Crime novel, written by one of the best of science fiction writers. Discovered among his unpublished works, it is a well-paced mystery involving murder, three continents, the CIA, and the art world. I loved it, but I’ve always been a fan of Zelazny’s work.

The Begum’s Fortune by Jules Verne is also published as The Begum’s Millions. Two men, distant cousins, one French and one German, inherit the estate of the Begum and, true to their natural national tendencies, decide to fight out their theories of what constitutes a good life on American soil (the greater Northwest!). The Frenchman creates a sort of utopian city where everyone lives happily through an expanded democracy (assuming they are European and not German), and the German creates an ironfisted steel city surrounded by walls and guards where he creates the perfect weapon to wipe out the idiotic Frenchman’s city. Complete with spies and politics and the world at large, as well as nature, there are some interesting inventions which we would recognize today as conference calls, National Guard, and satellites. There is also, of course, love and romance, the ne'er-do-well scion, and the infamous family history. I had a lot of fun with this one, but I suspect it’s not everyone’s cup of tea because much of the story is “old hat” to us today. At the time it was written, however, there were several rather novel concepts being discussed.

Sep 28, 2009, 6:48 pm

Sorry, but in the review section, the touchstones got crazy. They do exist in #220.

And the latest on my list are the following:

Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians (from dk_phoenix's thread)
The Dons and Mr. Dickens
Fright by Cornell Woolrich (Hard Case Crime)
Heaven Eyes by David Almond
Killing Castro by Lawrence Block (Hard Case Crime)
Spring-Heeled Jack by Philip Pullman

Currently finishing up Gilead by Marilynne Robinson for my RL book club; Outlander and Cryptonomicon for my 999 Challenge; and there's a couple of others thrown in for good measure.

Sep 29, 2009, 10:16 pm

Hi Laurie

You certainly are reading a lot of books! I'm curious regarding your impressions of the David Almond book Heaven Eyes. I like his books, but this one was not one of my favorites.

Oct 5, 2009, 4:38 pm

Hi, so I review these books and new ones on my new thread:

Hope to see you there!