Aunt Marge and the kids read in 2018

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Aunt Marge and the kids read in 2018

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Bearbeitet: Mai 4, 2018, 3:09pm

I'm back with various nieces and nephews for 2018. We range in age from 17 to 69 and have been doing Club Read together since 2010, when the youngest was 9. Our reading totals have decreased, their's due to growing up and having less time as they deal with high school, college and marriage. As for me, I think I read slower as I age.

Pretty much all my reading in 2017 was taken from the 21st century, with a handful from the 20th. This would bother me in some years, but at the moment I'm just glad I'm read at all. Like many in the U.S., the political situation has dampened my enthusiasm for putting great effort into reading anything but what I run across that seems to click for that moment. On the other hand, I've found a number of very special books this way, with the following among those most highly rated for the year:

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood *****
To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey *****
Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton *****
March: Book Three by John Lewis *****
Borne by Jeff Vandermeer *****
Dog Stars by Peter Heller *****
River of Ink by Paul M. M. Cooper *****
Down the Common: A Year in the Life of a Medieval Woman by Ann Baer ***** (re-read)
An Odyssey by Daniel Mendelsohn *****
A House Among the Trees by Julia Glass ****½
Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden ****½
The Theater of War: What Ancient Tragedies Can Teach Us Today by Bryan Doerries *****
Imagining Argentina by Lawrence Thornton ***** (re-read)

Bearbeitet: Dez. 31, 2018, 12:31pm

1. The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti ****½
2. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff ***½
3. Tchaikovsky's Ballets by Roland John Wiley *****
4. Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon ****
5. The Storyteller by Mario Vargas Llosa ****
6. Iron Gold by Pierce Brown ****
7. The Painter by Peter Heller ***½
8. The Storm King by Brendan Duffy ****
9. The Little Buddhist Monk by Cesar Aira ***
10. Everyday Ballerina by Deborah Bull ***
11. Lucy Gayheart by Willa Cather ***½
12. The Searcher by Simon Toyne ***½
13. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, pere *****
14. The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West *****
15. The Last Child by John Hart *****
16. Strange Bird by Jeff VanderMeer ****
17. Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie ****½
18. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents a Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo *****
19. The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben ****
20. Hush by John Hart *****
21. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles ****½
22. Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham ****
23. Love Story With Murders by Harry Bingham ****
24. The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths by Harry Bingham ****½
25. This Thing of Darkness by Harry Bingham ****½
26. The Dead House by Harry Bingham *****
27. The Deepest Grave by Harry Bingham ****½
28. To the Back of Beyond by Peter Stamm ***
29. Tibetan Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction ****
30. Version Control by Dexter Palmer ****
31. Glass Houses by Louise Penny ***
32. The Night Beat by Harry Bingham **** (short story)
33. Lev in Glasgow by Harry Bingham *** (short story)
34. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World by Steve Brusatte ****
35. Until the Night by Giles Blunt ****
36. The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro ****
37. The Dry by Jane Harper ****
38. Mind's Eye by Hakan Nesser ***½
39. Misterioso by Arne Dahl ***½
40. The Lost for Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland ****
41. Borkmann's Point by Hakan Nesser ****
42. The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz **
43. Jar City by Arnaldur Indriðason ****
44. Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indriðason ****½
45. The Return by Hakan Nesser ***
46. Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters by Mallory Ortberg ***
47. Force of Nature by Jane Harper ****
48. Voices by Arnaldur Indriðason ****½
49. Outrage by Arnaldur Indriðason ***
50. Warlight by Michael Ondaatje ****½
51. Black Skies by Arnaldur Indriðason ****
52. Strange Shores by Arnaldur Indriðason ****½
53. In the Darkness by Karin Fossum ***
54. Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang ****
55. Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson ***
56. The Shadow District by Arnaldur Indriðason ****
57. Nightblind by Ragnar Jonasson ****
58. Cursed by Thomas Enger ****
59. Killed by Thomas Enger ****
60. Distant Echo by Val McDermid ***½
61. Fear by Bob Woodward *****
62. Lethal White by Robert Galbraith ***½
63. The Power by Naomi Alderman ****
64. Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg ****
65. The Shadow Killer by Arnaldur Indriðason ***½
66. Down the River unto the Sea by Walter Mosley ***
67. Enduring Love by Ian McEwan ****
68. History as They Saw It: Iconic Moments from the Past in Color by Wolfgang Wild *****
69. The Spaceship Next Door by Gene Doucette ****
70. The Frequency of Aliens by Gene Doucette ****½
71. Tell No One by Harlan Coben ****
72. Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly ****
73. Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking ****½
74. Past Tense by Lee Child ****
75. The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje ****½
76. Ways to Hide in Winter by Sarah St.Vincent *****
77. The Wind by Dorothy Scarborough ****
78. True Places by Sonja Yoerg ****
79. Dregs by Jørn Lier Horst ****
80. Closed for Winter by Jørn Lier Horst ***
81. The Hunting Dogs by Jørn Lier Horst ****
82. The Caveman by Jørn Lier Horst ****½
83. Ordeal by Jørn Lier Horst ****
84. When It Grows Dark by Jørn Lier Horst ***½
85. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll ***½

1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban by JK Rowling *****
2. By the Time You Read This by Lola Jaye ***
3. Sam's Letters by James Patterson *****
4. The Mischievous Mrs. Maxfield by Ninya Tippett *****
5. The Pact by Jodi Picault *****
6. This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen ***
7. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson ****
8. Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay *****
9. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling *****

1. Better Than New - Nicole Curtis ****½
2. The Cookoo's Calling-Robert Galbraith ****½
3. Staying Stylish- Candace Cameron Bure ****
4. Everybody's got something- Robin Roberts *****
5. The Shack by W. M. Paul Young ****½
6. Inferno: Dan Brown ****½
7. Whiskey in a Teacup: Reese Witherspoon ***½
8. Locked In by Victoria Arlen ****
9. I'll Never Change My Name by Valentin Chmerkovskiy ****
10. This Is Me Loving the Person You Are Today by Chrissy Metz ****

1. Providence of Fire by Brian Staveley ****
2. Iron Gold by Pierce Brown ****½
3. Star Wars: Inferno Squad by Christie Golden ***
4. Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff ****½
5. The Atlantis Gene by A.G. Riddle ****
6. Before the Storm by Christie Golden ***½
7. Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff ***½

1. Origin by Dan Brown ****½
2. Silkworm by Robert Galbraith ****½
3. Cuckoos Calling by Robert Galbraith ****½
4. Capital Gaines by Chip Gaines ****½
5. A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss *****
6. Encyclopedia Blazertannica by Roger Bennett *****
7. It Takes Two by Jonathan and Drew Scott ****
8. Better Than New by Nicole Curtis ****
9. Ashoka by E. K. Johnston *****

Bearbeitet: Dez. 27, 2018, 7:23pm

Margaret's 2018 Reading by Original Year of Publication

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, pere *****

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll ***½

The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West *****

The Wind by Dorothy Scarborough ****

Lucy Gayheart by Willa Cather ***½

Tchaikovsky's Ballets by Roland John Wiley *****

The Storyteller by Mario Vargas Llosa ****

Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg ****

Mind's Eye by Hakan Nesser ***½

Borkmann's Point by Hakan Nesser ****

The Return by Hakan Nesser ***
In the Darkness by Karin Fossum ***

Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon ****

Enduring Love by Ian McEwan ****

Misterioso by Arne Dahl ***½

Jar City by Arnaldur Indriðason ****

Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indriðason ****½
Tell No One by Harlan Coben ****

Voices by Arnaldur Indriðason ***½
Distant Echo by Val McDermid ***½

The Little Buddhist Monk by Cesar Aira ***

Outrage by Arnaldur Indriðason ***

The Last Child by John Hart *****
Black Skies by Arnaldur Indriðason ****

Strange Shores by Arnaldur Indriðason ****½
Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson ***
Dregs by Jørn Lier Horst ****

The Everyday Dancer by Deborah Bull ***
Nightblind by Ragnar Jonasson ****
The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje ****½
Closed for Winter by Jørn Lier Horst ***

Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham ****
Until the Night by Giles Blunt ****
The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro ****
The Hunting Dogs by Jørn Lier Horst ****

Love Story With Murders by Harry Bingham ****
Tibetan Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction ****
The Shadow District by Arnaldur Indriðason ****
The Caveman by Jørn Lier Horst ****½

The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths by Harry Bingham ****½
Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters by Mallory Ortberg ***

The Painter by Peter Heller ***½
The Searcher by Simon Toyne ***½
The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben ****
This Thing of Darkness by Harry Bingham ****½
The Shadow Killer by Arnaldur Indriðason ***½
The Spaceship Next Door by Gene Doucette ****
Ordeal by Jørn Lier Horst ****

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles ****½
The Dead House by Harry Bingham *****
To the Back of Beyond by Peter Stamm ***
The Dry by Jane Harper ****
When It Grows Dark by Jørn Lier Horst ***½

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti ****½
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie ****½
The Deepest Grave by Harry Bingham ****½
Version Control by Dexter Palmer ****
Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang ****
Cursed by Thomas Enger ****
The Power by Naomi Alderman ****
The Frequency of Aliens by Gene Doucette ****½

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff ***½
Iron Gold by Pierce Brown ****
The Storm King by Brendan Duffy ****
Strange Bird by Jeff VanderMeer ****
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents a Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo *****
Hush by John Hart *****
Glass Houses by Louise Penny ***
The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World by Steve Brusatte ****
The Lost for Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland ****
The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz **
Force of Nature by Jane Harper ****
Warlight by Michael Ondaatje ****½
Killed by Thomas Enger ****
Fear by Bob Woodward *****
Lethal White by Robert Galbraith ***½
Down the River unto the Sea by Robert Mosley ***
History as They Saw It: Iconic Moments from the Past in Color by Wolfgang Wild *****
Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly ****
Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking ****½
Past Tense by Lee Child ****
Ways to Hide in Winter by Sarah St.Vincent *****

True Places by Sonja Yoerg ****

Bearbeitet: Jan. 3, 2018, 4:51pm

Congratulations on your purchase! I will have to mention to Michael that you bought the Mieville history.

At one time The Count of Monte Cristo was a favorite book, read many times. I have not read it in years now, and I sometimes wonder what it was in it that so spoke to me.

Jan. 2, 2018, 2:50pm

Hello auntmarge64! Happy New Year! You haven't shaken me yet. :-P

>4 auntmarge64: If the Audible Count of Monte Cristo is by narrator John Lee, your are in for a magnificent experience. I loved every minute of all 36 discs (library rental). it is one of my favorite audiobooks ever.

Bearbeitet: Jan. 3, 2018, 8:05am

Count of Monte Cristo takes me back to sitting in my chair in my room in high school

I have two new books on my shelf, care of your inspiration here - An odyssey and Theatre of War. Wishing you and your neices and nephews a great year.

Jan. 4, 2018, 6:10pm

Just dropping by to star your thread. I'm looking forward to following your reading again this year!

Jan. 4, 2018, 6:18pm

I loved The Count of Monte Cristo. There was just something about it, I think, that made it a perfect book for almost anyone.

Jan. 5, 2018, 12:47pm

With all the kudos for The Count of Monte Cristo, I think I'm going to love it. I'm listening to the version read by Bill Homewood (sorry, Brodie - not John Lee!).

Jan. 5, 2018, 12:49pm

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti ****½ 1/4/18

I usually start a review with a little information of the book's plot or topic, but in this case Amazon's description sums it up perfectly:

After years spent living on the run, Samuel Hawley moves with his teenage daughter, Loo, to Olympus, Massachusetts. There, in his late wife’s hometown, Hawley finds work as a fisherman, while Loo struggles to fit in at school and grows curious about her mother’s mysterious death. Haunting them both are twelve scars Hawley carries on his body, from twelve bullets in his criminal past—a past that eventually spills over into his daughter’s present, until together they must face a reckoning yet to come. This father-daughter epic weaves back and forth through time and across America, from Alaska to the Adirondacks. Both a coming-of-age novel and a literary thriller, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley explores what it means to be a hero, and the cost we pay to protect the people we love most.

Yes, it is all that - and beautifully done. The two main characters are wonderfully drawn, and the alternating chapters, describing first their life in Olympus and then Hawley's past and how he got the bullet wounds, work perfectly to keep up the tension and fill in details, building to a climactic last chapter that pulls it all together. Tinti is going right onto my "Favorite Authors" list.

Bearbeitet: Jan. 9, 2018, 7:59pm

I just checked the Brooklyn PL's listing for Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House and they own 80 ebook copies, with 240 requests at this time. Just FYI....

For anyone who wants to read it before paper copies are reprinted, ebook copies are always available at Amazon, B&N, etc. I'm about halfway through, and it's eye-popping, disheartening, appalling, just about what you'd expect but worse. There are apparently some factual errors (incorrect names, etc.) and the Kindle version has various typos, but the impact is overwhelming. There's one horrible account of Trump bragging about how he gets friends' wives in bed by baiting the husbands to talk about their married sex lives and offering them "girls" while the wives are (secretly) kept on speakerphone. The author was asked if the publisher's attorneys were concerned about this section, and he said they were satisfied with the proofs he offered them. Full review to follow in a few days.

I would recommend that all the prefatory text be read before diving in, because Wolff gives a summary of his access to Trump and his family and associates so readers can judge the bases for his anecdotes and conclusions. There's also an introductory story about Roger Ailes having dinner with Bannon, and others, in which Ailes repeatedly asks Bannon if Trump "gets it", and Bannon finally admits, "Trump gets what Trump gets".

Jan. 10, 2018, 9:09am

>12 auntmarge64: Ugh. Just ugh. Every excerpt from that book is disheartening. These are the people who are running our country. Every single person involved in the administration (or in Congress who enables and supports him) should be ousted and never work again, unless it's picking up trash on the side of the highway. Ugh.

Jan. 10, 2018, 1:39pm

>13 RidgewayGirl: Yup, "Ugh" about sums it up. I'm about 2/3 done and keep finding myself making disgusted noises or just shaking my head in disbelief.

Bearbeitet: Jan. 11, 2018, 9:46pm

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff ***½ 1/11/18

I've gotten through 2/3, and I'm done. Somehow that pig's comments today about immigrants from "shithole" countries made all his earlier history of racism, sexual predation, thoughtlessness, cruelty, and stupidity seem superfluous. They just took my breathe away.

Today I find myself embarrassed to be an American.

Jan. 12, 2018, 1:19pm

>15 auntmarge64: I can’t believe we have three more years of this. Anyway, I think I’m going to pass on reading this one, only because I don’t think I could take it. As much as I’d like to see him out of office, his successor might be even more dangerous because people would take him seriously.

Jan. 12, 2018, 3:37pm

>15 auntmarge64: Am with you there.

Jan. 13, 2018, 9:54am

>16 NanaCC: I don't think Trump will ever relinquish his title voluntarily, and at this point we can only hope that by 2020 people will bother to vote (yes, I blame non-voters for this - and the press, for falling for his act and giving him such massive coverage), but I also worry about Pence, because he seems like he might be one of those who would use presidential power to bring about the Apocalypse.

Anyway, I'm with you: I'm just going to go back to ignoring it as much as possible.

Bearbeitet: Jan. 13, 2018, 9:11pm

Tchaikovsky's Ballets by Roland John Wiley ***** 1/13/18

Although quite technical, this history and analysis of the creation and original productions of Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, and Nutcracker offers a great deal for the interested layperson. There is a wonderfully informative introductory section on the practice of ballet and production of ballet music in Russia in the mid-late 1800s, and as a whole the book illustrates how Tchaikovsky's forays into the dance world made possible the work of Stravinsky and Diaghilev just a generation later. Using primary sources such as holographic (written by the original hand) letters, scores and rehearsal reductions; as well as contemporary reviews and memoirs, the author traces the development of each ballet from concept to consultations between composer and ballet master to performance. There are also descriptions of the various choreographers, the choreography itself, the original libretti and changes made to them, and the primary dancers. Perhaps most difficult for the non-specialist is the examination of how Tchaikovsky designed the music, with multiple examples of key progressions, repetitions, and the use of new sounds, as he brought his genius at symphonic design to bear and altered ballet permanently.

It's hard to imagine a more thorough one-volume treatment, unless new primary materials are discovered.

Jan. 13, 2018, 6:00pm

>13 RidgewayGirl: Yes! Amen to all that.

>15 auntmarge64: that rough? I was excited to see a review here, but I your first comment ("I've gotten through 2/3, and I'm done.") says a lot.

Jan. 13, 2018, 9:07pm

>20 dchaikin: It's not the book per se, it's the topic. The book is pretty interesting, especially the background on his relationships with various people we hear of in the news, but I reached my limit of taking in new information about him after I heard his comments the other day.

Jan. 14, 2018, 3:22pm

Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon **** 1/14/18

Although technically science fiction, this novel of first contact could have been set in any collision of extremely different cultures.

On a remote planet, a failing group of colonists is being removed to be resettled on another world. Ofelia, an elderly woman who has lived there for 40 years, decides she's tired of being ordered around and considered a nuisance, and she hides in the forest until the last ships leave. She has a chance to enjoy her isolation for some months, then listens, horrified, as her radio picks up the arrival of a new ship, thousands of kilometers away, and their destruction by some sort of previously unknown indigenous life form. Eventually they find her, leading to remarkable changes for her and for future arrivals.

The main character is testy and can be a bit of an acquired taste, but she also has curiosity and a willingness to think outside the box when confronted with the natives. I'm really glad I continued with the book after wondering if I could take a whole book about her. Recommended for fans of both sci fi and literary fiction.

Jan. 14, 2018, 7:45pm

Enjoyed your review of Remnant Population

Jan. 14, 2018, 8:53pm

>22 auntmarge64: I'd never heard of this book but you've made it sound very interesting. I see it available at the library so I think I'll give it a go at some point.

Jan. 15, 2018, 6:39am

Hi, I'm enjoying following your reading this year again. :)

Jan. 20, 2018, 1:03pm

Hi Margaret: I love that you do this thread with family. I also loved many of the list of your favorites last year. The Lewis graphic memoir, the Atwood, and House Among the Trees were all great. I loved The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley as well, and am glad to see some love for it here.

I look forward to following your reading this year.

Jan. 20, 2018, 10:02pm

>26 BLBera: Thank you! My mission as an aunt has been to encourage reading in all the kids in the family. Comic books, teen romances, fantasy, serious fiction - whatever they could be attracted to. The kids are all moving on with their lives (the youngest is picking a college), but those who have stuck with me on this still send me texts as they finish something. I really love it that we have that connection.

Bearbeitet: Jan. 20, 2018, 10:07pm

The Storyteller by Mario Vargas Llosa **** 1/20/18

In a Florentine shop, a Peruvian writer sees a photo of a Peruvian tribe mesmerized by a tribal storyteller, an almost mystical and mythical person rarely mentioned or even acknowledged to outsiders to exist. For years the writer has been searching for information on this tribe, and also for news of an old school friend who'd disappeared years ago. In the photo, he believes he sees his friend: the storyteller, fully assimilated into this primitive culture hiding in the Amazon. So opens a novel which is told in long, alternating chapters, first by the writer and then by the storyteller. The underlying debate: should isolated and primitive groups be Westernized or allowed to live their own culture? This is a question the two friends had often argued about at university, and here we are presented with both the writer's version of events leading him to discover his friend's destiny (if evidenced only in a photo), and the storyteller's tales of his people, their struggles to maintain their nomadic lifestyle (and therefore protect the world from the sun falling permanently into darkness), and stories of the invention of the world and its various supernatural, human, and animal inhabitants.

Although it's initially a challenge to adjust to the storyteller's language and cadence, his stories soon become the most interesting part of the novel as he recounts the tribe's mythology and his own adventures, interweaving tales from his culture of origin couched in the tribe's way of seeing the world. The author's own story very logically lays out the ethical questions in cultural clashes, but these sections pale in comparison to the storyteller's magical words. Highly recommended!

Jan. 21, 2018, 12:24am

You are a good aunt. Great comments on the Vargas Llosa. Luckily I have this one on my shelves already!

Jan. 21, 2018, 8:40am

>28 auntmarge64: This sounds like a very interesting book, but then, all of the Vargas Llosa I run across seem very interesting to me. I find it interesting also that they seem very different from each other.
Definitely an author I should read more of.

Jan. 21, 2018, 10:17am

>30 chlorine: This is the first Llosa I've read, and looking through the descriptions of his work I noticed the same thing, that they all seem different. I'm certainly going to read more of him. Any suggestions?

Jan. 21, 2018, 10:47am

My two favorites so far are Feast of the Goat and War of the End of the World. Both are historical novels; the first is about Trujillo, the Dominican dictator and the second is about an uprising in Brazil.

Jan. 21, 2018, 1:34pm

>29 BLBera:, >32 BLBera: Thanks for the compliment and for the recommendations. Both titles look interesting and are available at my library, and I've added them to my TBR list. I hope you enjoy The Storyteller!

Bearbeitet: Jan. 21, 2018, 1:46pm

>31 auntmarge64: I've read three Llosa so far. The two I really enjoyed are The dream of the celt, which is a historical novel whose central character was first a fighter for the respect of the Civil rights of the populations in Belgium Congo, which were treated in a horrible manner, and then a fighter for the independence of Ireland; and Captain Pantoja and the special service, which is somewhat an UFO of a book, about an officer commissioned with setting up a service of prostitutes for the troops in Amazonia so that the soldiers will behave and rapes of women living near the garrisons will stop. It's funny and tender.

Jan. 21, 2018, 5:00pm

Excellent review of The Storyteller

Jan. 21, 2018, 7:14pm

28> I Loved The Storyteller -- maybe my favorite Vargas Llosa.

Bearbeitet: Jan. 21, 2018, 8:27pm

>35 baswood: Excellent review of The Storyteller Thanks!
>34 chlorine: The Dream of the Celt and Captain Pantoja and the Special Service are two more titles my library has, so they've gone on to my TBR list.
>36 janeajones: The Storyteller fell into a type of fiction I enjoy tremendously: the culture clash. It's not always a successful genre, but when it is it can make the world look totally different.

Bearbeitet: Jan. 21, 2018, 8:27pm

>31 auntmarge64: Either The Feast of the Goat, a compelling and intense story or Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter which is more light-hearted. I didn't care for War of the End of the World, found it kind of boring actually. I also really enjoyed The Time of the Hero, but it is a lot of work -- rather dense, more Marquez-like.

Jan. 21, 2018, 8:32pm

>37 auntmarge64: I wondered about Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter - I'm glad it's recommended and I'll give it a try. Luckily, the library from which I borrow ebooks (Brooklyn PL) has all the titles recommended so far: a cornucopia from which to choose. It's good to know The Time of the Hero is a bit more of an effort - I might try some others first. Sometimes it just depends on the topic.

Jan. 21, 2018, 10:18pm

Mario Vargas Llosa again. Wonderful review. How to get him into my reading this year...

Jan. 23, 2018, 2:43am

>28 auntmarge64: Ooh that sounds interesting! I picked up my first Mario Vargas Llosa (The feast of the goat) at one of the 2ndhand bookshops last year, being familiar with the name but not having read him, I figured I ought to snag it. :P It's on my TBR Challenge for this year, and now I'm even more excited to get to it, with how much you enjoyed his writing! :D

Jan. 23, 2018, 6:53am

I've also read and loved The Feast of the Goat. It's the only book of his I've read so far but I'd like to get to more.

Jan. 25, 2018, 11:37pm

>28 auntmarge64: Very intriguing review. I have 5 Llosa's on my wishlist so it seems I should get to him soon. Thanks everyone for the other recommendations as well.

Jan. 26, 2018, 10:18am

>40 dchaikin:, >41 .Monkey.:, >42 japaul22:, >43 janemarieprice:

I'd love to start another Llosa, but I've got to read a SciFi book that's just come out (Iron Gold, book 4 of the Red Rising series) because I got my nephew interested and he'll want to compare notes. It's a wonderful series, but I wish I were more in the mood at the moment. I bet it will be good, though, once I relax into it.

Jan. 26, 2018, 10:31am

Llosa will be there waiting for you when you have the time! ;)

Jan. 26, 2018, 11:59am

>44 auntmarge64: Red Rising seems interesting, but maybe a bit too YA with a stress on the Y for what I'm currently in the mood for. I'll be waiting for your thoughts on this fourth book, though.

Jan. 26, 2018, 5:27pm

>46 chlorine: I read Red Rising because I'll read pretty much anything that takes place on Mars. And I had the same thought about it being YA, as witness my review (and 5-star rating):

In a well-colonized solar system a few hundred years in the future, life is highly striated, and those who work and live in the mines on Mars are told they sacrifice so that the surface of Mars will some day be habitable for the hoards of crowded Earth. So it has been for generations, while unbeknownst to them Mars is teeming with life, and humanity has long ago moved as far as Pluto and its moons. A newly married miner discovers the truth and becomes the center of a plot to overthrow the caste system so that all can partake in the richness of life that is available to only a few at the top. Now, if I had read that synopsis I'd have thought this was a young adult book, but it definitely is not, although YAs will enjoy it too. The story is told in the first person and was exciting and interesting, and a delight for this Martian-fiction fan.

I gave book II 4 stars and book III 5 stars, so I do highly recommend the series. But yes, I'll definitely report back on Iron Gold, although if you're going to read it, do start with Red Rising.

Jan. 26, 2018, 5:28pm

>45 .Monkey.: Llosa will be there waiting for you when you have the time! ;)

Yes, indeedy, and I'll look forward to it!

Jan. 27, 2018, 2:48am

>47 auntmarge64: Thanks for providing your review of Red Rising! This series sounds much more interesting than. than I initially thought. I'm making a note of it!

Jan. 27, 2018, 10:58am

>49 chlorine: Will watch for your review :)

Jan. 27, 2018, 11:17am

>28 auntmarge64: I've never read anything by Mario Vargas Llosa, although I have The Feast of the Goat on my wishlist thanks to SassyLassy. Your review makes the author even more enticing.

Bearbeitet: Feb. 1, 2018, 10:32pm

Iron Gold by Pierce Brown **** 2/1/18

I'm not going to an actual review of this because it's the 4th in a series. If you've read the first 3 you'll read this anyway, and if not, and you want to read a wonderful space opera series, start with Red Rising.

Feb. 2, 2018, 2:02am

Ha, your comments about Red Rising intrigue me more and more. I would never had thought it was Space Opera from reading the description of the first book!

Feb. 2, 2018, 10:21pm

>53 chlorine: Well, that's how I think of it, but I could be wrong :) It has a "Star Wars" feel to it (although it takes place within our solar system), with an evil empire being challenged by the downtrodden, daring do, battles, heroics, politics, great courage, some really evil characters, and some flawed good characters who try hard to stick to their values. The way in which the ruling group is challenged is quite intriguing and comprises most of the drama in the first trilogy . If anyone else has read the series I love to know how you'd describe it. But anyway, why not give it a try? :) :) :)

Bearbeitet: Feb. 3, 2018, 3:35am

>54 auntmarge64: I will give it a try at some point but I'm trying to regulate my reading of series! :)

I discovered a few years ago that I enjoyed series better if I spaced the books out by reading at least one unrelated book between two consecutive books (otherwise I would go in overload). But this has become way more than one book, to the point that I may take months between tow consecutive books and this allows... simultaneous reading of series!
I'm currently reading three series at the same time (one with only one book left, and one with two, luckily).
Then there's two series I really really want to start (3 books each): The fifth season by N. K. Jemisin and The grace of Kings by Ken Liu.

Once I'm sorted with that I'll be free to read Red Rising! :p

Feb. 3, 2018, 2:58pm

>55 chlorine: I find that if more than one book is available in a series, I plow right through them. Same for streaming services that make whole seasons available in a single release.

When I found Red Rising in my library's ebook collection, I'd never heard of it. But it was MARS, so I downloaded it immediately and gorged on the three available at the time. It really is one story. Iron Gold opens ten years after the first trilogy, so the end of Book 3 Morning Star would be a good stopping point. Anyway, I hereby challenge you to read just one and stop (heh, heh, heh).

Bearbeitet: Feb. 3, 2018, 4:21pm

>56 auntmarge64: Challenge acknowledged but I will back off, even with all the shame that will fall on me, as I have too many books I want to read right now (I didn't list the Zolas in my ongoing series but I would like to make some progress on them during the year as well).

Now that my reputation is stained and as I'm sure everybody in this group despises me for my lack of gut in accepting a challenge, I will have to leave this group and spend the rest of my life as a reading outcast, still reading but not talking about books with anyone... If I meet other outcasts like myself probably I will feel drawn to them but then the shame I feel will prevent me from confiding in them... :p

More seriously Red Rising is on my wishlist, so I'll probably get to it sometime, but I don't know when.
I'm finding that this year I have a bit of balance problem between SFF and other books: I'd like to space my SFF readings with some more classical reading but when I think of what I want to read next it's mostly SFF that comes to mind... Well anyway my wishlist is full of great books so there's nothing much to worry about! :)

Feb. 7, 2018, 10:33pm

>57 chlorine: Well, if you ever do get into it I'll look forward to your comments. No pressure! I know what it's like to have too many books lined up to think of adding more.

Feb. 9, 2018, 5:30pm

The Painter by Peter Heller ***½ 2/9/18

New Mexican artist Jim Stegner has been released from prison after serving time for shooting a pedophile who threatened his daughter. His daughter has been murdered while he was away, and his marriage is over, and he's moved to rural Colorado to try to find quiet and space to paint, fish, and recover. But an encounter with a hunting guide beating a small horse brings out the violence in him again, and he finds himself harassed by both the law and vengeful relatives. He still finds beauty in his work and surroundings and he continues to paint and fish, even starting a new relationship with his model, all the while worrying about whether he's a violent man by nature and whether he's going to be arrested or murdered himself.

Thoughtful and gentle, more a character study than anything else. I was initially wondering if I could read a whole novel about an artist's appreciation of the world around him when WHAM!, the violence made its entrance. Still, this is definitely not traditional suspense, although the threat hanging over Jim's future is ever-present. I did find myself pulled along, thinking it equally likely that he might go to prison, be murdered, or even get off completely. And there is an ending that makes sense, but then the book abruptly ends, before the ending can be really explored. I thought to myself that maybe the writer took to heart too seriously the artist's thoughts on when to put aside a work as complete and not continue to "improve" it. In this case, the writer should have kept going just a little longer.

(Peter Heller is the author of The Dog Stars, a post-apocalyptic novel I loved. I plan to read his newest book, Celine, at some point soon.)

Feb. 10, 2018, 7:08pm

For all you Jeff VanderMeer fans: he's written a novella to accompany Borne, and it's being published Feb 27th: The Strange Bird: A Borne Story. The paperback is 128 pages, so not just a short story. I've requested it and will report back.....

Feb. 11, 2018, 2:59am

>60 auntmarge64: Thanks for the notice! I'd be interested to know if it can be read independently of Borne.

Feb. 11, 2018, 11:56am

Hi Margaret: I've been meaning to read Dog Stars, and I see there are other Heller works I should explore as well. Great comments on The Painter.

Bearbeitet: Feb. 11, 2018, 3:37pm

>62 BLBera: - Dog Stars is a bit of a character study too, but I thought it was quite distinct from many other post-apocalyptic novels I've read and gave it 4 stars. Will watch for your review if you do read it. Have you read The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J. Walker? It's another very distinctive read and it got another 4 stars.

Feb. 11, 2018, 4:03pm

The Storm King by Brendan Duffy **** 2/11/12

Nate McHale, a well-respected pediatric oncologist in NYC, travels to his hometown for the first time in the 14 years since his high school sweetheart disappeared. Her body has been found, and he hopes his appearance will shake some truths loose about what happened to her. But Nate himself is viewed by the townsfolk with a certain suspicion. Some think he killed Lucy himself, others remember the trouble-maker he was in his teenage years, and all of them know him as the Boy Who Fell after his father's car plunged into the town's lake and the rest of the family died on impact.

There is a massive hurricane approaching, and as it does vandals have begun to target everyone involved in the late Lucy's teenage life - and the damage is reminiscent of the trouble Nate and his friends caused during stormy nights in their high school years. (The book's title refers to the nickname the group gave Nate, the angriest of them all and their leader.) Nate himself seems a bit mentally unstable and could be the murderer, and there are several other really good suspects, not least being some of his old friends. I couldn't put the book down, although I did have an inkling maybe 3/4s through who the culprit was. Even then, though, there was no telling how the action would play out and who would survive.

This was really good suspense recommended by the master of literary suspense (IMHO), John Hart, and I was not disappointed. If you like some depth in your suspense, this is a good one to try.

Feb. 11, 2018, 4:03pm

I haven't read the Walker, Margaret. It sounds interesting. I'm preparing to teach a class on Dystopian Lit next fall, so I'm trying to read as much as I can ahead of time. Right now I'm reading Parable of the Sower and loving it.

Feb. 11, 2018, 4:25pm

>64 auntmarge64: great review of The Storm King.
I'm not really into suspense but this one seems like something I could enjoy.

Feb. 11, 2018, 6:46pm

>65 BLBera: Beth, I'd love to see the reading list for that class when you've prepared it!

Feb. 11, 2018, 8:46pm

Remind me; I'll be working on it this summer. Happy to share.

Bearbeitet: Feb. 21, 2018, 6:00pm

Three shorter and less-consequential books before returning to The Count of Monte Cristo:

The Everyday Dancer by Deborah Bull *** 2/19/18

Bull was a principal dancer with the Royal Ballet for 9 years. Her book breaks down the daily world of the ballerina, whether she is at school, in the corps, a soloist, a principal, or nearing retirement. It's a bit of a mundane read, but there a few tidbits that were particularly interesting, such as her thoughts on working with Royal Ballet choreographer Wayne McGregor when he was just being recognized and his method of teaching his dances using onomatopoetic vocalizations was new. (You can see him rehearsing on YouTube.) Perhaps best for kids dreaming of their future, or for parents wondering whether such a life should be encouraged.

The Little Buddhist Monk by César Aira *** 2/20/18

A strange little story about a tiny Korean Buddhist monk who leads a couple of visiting artists on a wild adventure.

Lucy Gayheart by Willa Cather ***½ 2/21/18

Typical Cather, always a joy to read. A young piano student travels to Chicago and falls in love with a world-renowned singer, then has to decide between hoping for a life near him and marrying a wealthy boy from her rural hometown. More character study than anything else (and by character, I mean both the people and the towns).

Feb. 22, 2018, 1:56am

>69 auntmarge64: Thanks for the reviews!

Does Bull address health issues in her book? I hear dance at such high levels can have a very strong (negative) impact on the body, and I wonder how a ballerina nearing retirement would feel about that.

Feb. 22, 2018, 3:47pm

>60 auntmarge64: I wouldn't call myself a VanderMeer fan (I've only read the 1st of the third reach novels), but I've put the novella on my hold list at the library. I want to read Borne, but I'm waiting for the hold list to get smaller.

Feb. 22, 2018, 5:16pm

>70 chlorine: She does address how the reaction to an injury changes as one ages: the young tend to try maintain fitness while healing and therefore usually lengthen it, while experienced dancers give themselves over to it completely and bounce back faster. She also has some interesting comments on how different pointe shoes can make the body tend to lean more forward or backward than desired, sometimes depending on the dance requirements, and the problems that that can cause. These comments are not specifically tied to retirement, although there is some attention paid to dance and the aging (as opposed to injured) body. Regarding retirement, most of her thought is for how someone who has been working towards this goal since young childhood, and, if successful, has never had to think of career planning, will often find herself with no experience in trying to decide to do in real life as they roll into their mid-late 30s, or whenever their career starts to lag. OTOH, she talks about how the discipline and drive necessary for a career in ballet are good prerequisites for a non-ballet career.

Feb. 22, 2018, 5:19pm

>71 markon: Oh, Borne is just wonderful. Just as weird but more accessible than the Southern Reach trilogy, although I liked that too (especially the first book). I'm hoping to get the novella soon and will report back as to whether it's a stand-alone.

Bearbeitet: Feb. 23, 2018, 7:54am

For anyone who enjoys Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie novels (Case Histories, etc.), Amazon has made a series which just premiered with 6 hour-long episodes. I think it's really well done - a little tongue-in-cheek here and there, which worked very well, but serious crimes, as well as the mystery that's haunted Brodie since he was a boy: who killed his sister? And the acting is wonderful. Free for Amazon Prime subscribers.

Bearbeitet: Feb. 23, 2018, 7:54am

Also, Amazon Prime is offering the Washington Post digital edition (unlimited reading) for a six-month free trial and then $3.99/mo. I've been a digital subscriber since mid-2016 for $10/month, and although the Amazon site says the offer is good only for new subscribers, the Post has told me twice that all I need to do is cancel my subscription and rejoin via Amazon. I've cancelled as of the end of the month and will then see if that's true. So hey, that's $60 just during the free trial and then 60% off each month. And it's such a great paper.

Feb. 23, 2018, 1:42am

>72 auntmarge64: Thanks for your answer. Bull's thoughts seem quite interesting.

Bearbeitet: Feb. 23, 2018, 7:53am

>76 chlorine: They are interesting, but she's a rather pedestrian writer. Still, if it's a topic which interests you, it's worth a read, which is why I finished the book. She was a wonderful dancer, though. I bought the book because I had read somewhere that she talked about a specific ballet I had questions about, but in the end it wasn't mentioned. Are you interested in ballet? If so, this is the dance that made me question what I was seeing (it's very short): It's an excerpt from "Steptext" performed by Bull and Adam Cooper. There's a spot in which it seems she lets go of him prematurely and he catches her, and I can't tell if she made a mistake or it was choreographed. Cooper is highly valued as a partner for his ability to make dancers feel completely safe, and the two of them portray no alarm, but they're trained for that, I think. I've watched other versions but they all differ from each other somewhat, so I don't know what to think.

Feb. 23, 2018, 10:43am

>74 auntmarge64: Thank you for the tip on the Amazon series. I’ll check it out, once the Olympics are over and I’ve caught up on a few things.

Feb. 23, 2018, 11:57am

77> What a tense dance!

Feb. 23, 2018, 2:42pm

>79 janeajones: What a tense dance!It is!

Take a look at this one, with Sylvia Guillem and Adam Cooper: It's much looser, and the second half, after they change costumes, is really funny. Talk about no respect for the poor guy!

Feb. 23, 2018, 8:11pm

80> They're rather like birds doing a mating dance.

Feb. 23, 2018, 9:12pm

I read the Washington Post online also, and for about as long as you have. The monthly fee is worth it to support an endangered free press.

We went to see "Annihilation" this morning, left a few comments on our thread. I gave it a B-.

Bearbeitet: Feb. 23, 2018, 11:49pm

>81 janeajones: - Oh, no, now I'll have that image whenever I watch it! :) I love the way even she looks shocked by his second costume. But still no respect.

Have you seen Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake, in which Adam Cooper danced the first cast Swan? It's on YouTube (in full): (Cooper also portrayed the adult Billy Elliot (dancing the Swan), in case you ever saw that film.)

I love the second act, in which the Swan meets the Prince as he's about to drown himself and, after originally rejecting his presence among his group, shows him the joy of life. (That's my interpretation, although Bourne says some people prefer to see the whole scene as a hallucination.) In the third act, Cooper plays the Stranger, who seduces the Queen; and the fourth act, where the swans invade the Prince's home, is just stunning. The Queen is danced by Fiona Chadwick, who had just retired from the Royal Ballet, from which Cooper took a leave to create the part.

Feb. 23, 2018, 10:59pm

>82 avaland: I did see your comments on "Annihilation", just never got over there to respond when I was near a keyboard. I do plan on seeing it, but why do they have to mess with it so much - I mean, 5 instead of 4 women? Why?

I do love the Post (and the NY Times) and read them online every morning.

Feb. 23, 2018, 11:15pm

>76 chlorine: - I meant to add that Deborah Bull mentions one of the major rules ballet students are taught once they reach a professional school: toes are ALWAYS pointed when they leave the floor. That made an impression on me.

Feb. 24, 2018, 2:10am

>77 auntmarge64: I'm not that much into ballet but the video is beautiful. I didn't see the part you mentioned where he catches her so I can't comment on that. :)

I did one year of dance when I was a kid but that was really not for me, so I never went as far as learning the pointed toes rule. ;)

Bearbeitet: Feb. 24, 2018, 8:07am

Love to see others like ballet. My BFF and I get season tickets to the ballet each year. It seems they perform 3 classics and 2 modern ballets each year. We by far prefer the classics. This year it was Giselle, The Nutcracker, and the Rite of Spring. We do NOT like the Rite of Spring at all and have seen it twice. This year for the first time they are performing The Wizard of Oz---will be interesting!

Feb. 24, 2018, 9:58am

Thanks for the tip on the Amazon series, Margaret. That will definitely go on my list.

I am a huge Cather fan but haven't read Lucy Gayheart. I'll look for that one.

The ballet book sounds interesting.

Feb. 24, 2018, 10:33am

Just catching up on your thread. I'm interested to hear what you thought of the companion to Borne!

Feb. 25, 2018, 12:07pm

>87 Tess_W: What didn't you like about the Rite of Spring? The music, dance, ???

Bearbeitet: Feb. 25, 2018, 12:09pm

The Searcher by Simon Toyne ***½ 2/24/18

This book has one of the most intense openings scenes I've ever read. A terrified man is running down a road. He has no shoes, has no idea who or where he is, and no idea why he's so terrified. He just knows he has to keep running. Although I knew the book was touted as suspense/thriller, I thought it could easily be the beginning of a post-apocalyptic story, or one of several other genres. Anyway, it's really effective.

The book is indeed a thriller, about a town in which a small plane has crashed and which is under threat of the resulting fire that is speeding across the Arizona desert towards it. This man is running from the crash site, although it's clear he couldn't be a survivor. The plane that crashed is part of a scheme the town leaders have been using to keep the town afloat, and the nameless man will be for them a handy scapegoat to the forces who will want to punish someone for the crash. That is, if they can manage to hang on to him long enough to serve him up.

The nameless man (whose jacket says he's Solomon Creed) is an enigma. He knows about medicine, science, weapons, and old aircraft; he can smell what animals smell and tell what's around him by this; he can fight hand-to-hand combat; he doesn't know who he is but believes he's at this town to save a man who's been buried just that morning. Sounds a lot like an amnesiac Jack Reacher, but there are definite differences here, most disconcertingly a supernatural aspect which is unmentioned in accompanying blurbs. It's this unannounced angle for which I've given the book 3.5 instead of 4 stars. I found it jarring, although I guess it's inclusion will explain Creed's actions, or appearances, in future entries (as of this writing there are two books in the series). As long as you go into this knowing it's not straight genre thriller, you should find it entertaining. I did think it was quite a good suspense novel, but that supernatural thing didn't work for me.

Bearbeitet: Mrz. 4, 2018, 7:31pm

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, pere ***** 3/2/18

What's to say? Seen multiple adaptations but finally got to read the book, and it's superb, even knowing how it turns out. There's so much more detail than can be fitted into a 2- or 3-hour drama, and almost all of it adds tremendously to the story. Dantes escapes less than a third of the way through, so his plotting and its results are a glorious 70% of the book.

Mrz. 3, 2018, 10:10am

>92 auntmarge64: To each his own: I thought this book was way too long.
I'm glad you liked it more than I did!

Bearbeitet: Mrz. 4, 2018, 9:39am

>93 chlorine: Ah well, that's the way it goes. There were a few spots I thought had too much detail that would mean more to people who read it at the time or who know the history of the locale, but I just skimmed those and thought they were forgivable, given when the book was first serialized. It ran for about a year and a half - I can't imagine the anticipation for each chapter.

My favorite Dantes (Count):

The young sea captain:

The prisoner:

The Count:

Mrz. 3, 2018, 11:17am

>92 auntmarge64: Been on my TBR pile for 20 years!

Mrz. 3, 2018, 12:09pm

>94 auntmarge64: Nice pictures! The only movie adaptation I saw was the French one with Gérard Depardieu as the count.

Mrz. 3, 2018, 4:26pm

>92 auntmarge64: I’ve read the book twice, and loved it, but I’ve never seen a film adaptation. I loved Richard Chamberlain in anything else, so I’m sure he must have been wonderful as the Count.

Mrz. 3, 2018, 7:53pm

>96 chlorine: >97 NanaCC: Depardieu seemed an odd choice to me. When Dantes escapes he's almost starving after 14 years. That is NOT Depardieu's physique. I enjoyed the Jim Caviezel version (2002), but no one matches Chamberlain in the drama of his physical appearance as young-and-in-love, starving-and-desperate, and the Count - oh, that Count.

The end of the Chamberlain version is more in line with the book than that of Caviezel. I don't remember how they ended the Depardieu film.

I watched the Chamberlain version again just before starting the book, to recall the main characters. And for those who get really confused, there are various online charts of the relationships.

Mrz. 4, 2018, 3:23am

The Count of Monte Cristo has been sleeping on my ereader for years. Need to resurrect it!

Mrz. 4, 2018, 3:59am

>98 auntmarge64: Depardieu's physique is indeed not that of someone starving. :) This being said, I'm not a fan of him as an actor but if I remember correctly I thought he was rather good as the Edmond Dantès.

Mrz. 4, 2018, 6:14pm

The Count of Monte Cristo was a favorite book of mine for such a long time (was the 80s, I think). I often wondered why I was so attracted to it.

Bearbeitet: Mrz. 5, 2018, 11:01am

Thanks to Monica (MGovers)'s encouragement, I decided to finally get to this.

The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West ***** 3/4/18

A lovely, heartbreaking novella about the love that transcends time and the value of truth.

A well-to-do British officer returns mid-WWI with no memory of anything for the last 15 years. His beautiful, cold and unimaginative wife is appalled to find that all he cares about is spending time with his teen sweetheart, now a kindly village woman of limited means and broken physical appearance. Narrated by a cousin, the tale asks whether the truth of our reality is more important than our happiness.

A perfect little story.

Mrz. 5, 2018, 10:03am

>102 auntmarge64:, I'm so glad you loved The Return of the Soldier. It's one of my favorites.

Mrz. 8, 2018, 3:24pm

The Last Child by John Hart ***** 3/8/18

I've read this this before, but there's a sequel for which I'm next in line so I thought I'd refresh my memory. It was just as good as the first time.

Excellent suspense, in which a 13-year old boy and a beleaguered lead detective continue to search for the boy's twin, missing now a year. The boy, Johnny, has his own way of looking, often stealing his mother's car and disappearing into the countryside to mark off more areas of the map he's blocked out or to check up on the activities of the major child molesters in the area. His father has disappeared and his mother has descended into drug and alcohol abuse, encouraged by an old boyfriend who terrorizes both her and Johnny. The detective, beside himself that he never found the sister, faces the disappearance of second girl.

The sequel takes place 10 years later and concerns Johnny and his best friend, Jack, who risked many nights of fear and impending discovery by his father, a cop, to help in the search. At least, that's what the blurbs say. More after I've read it. For anyone who hasn't sampled John Hart yet, give this one a try. He keeps getting better and better.


On another note: I'm officially giving up on ever reading The Great Gatsby. This was my third attempt and I was determined to get through it (it's pretty short, after all), but after 20% I decided I just didn't care enough about either the characters or their circumstances to waste more time. Besides, there's an episode of "Endeavour", the prequel to the British Inspector Morse series, that is very similar in layout, and I kept thinking I'd seen the movie. The ending isn't the same (well, I don't think so, since I haven't read Gatsby), but whatever, I'm done. Although I might go watch Season 3 of "Endeavour" again. Now that's a great show.

Endeavour Morse (on the right) and his boss:

Mrz. 8, 2018, 4:10pm

I love Endeavour!

Mrz. 8, 2018, 4:48pm

>104 auntmarge64: I with you on The Great Gatsby! I tried 3 times in 10 years to read that book. It was just awful. It is my best friends favorite book (I almost questioned my friendship with her!!!! j/k) and she insisted I would love the movie--oh it was such a bore!

Mrz. 8, 2018, 6:45pm

>105 NanaCC: I especially loved season three. Don't want to give anything away to the uninitiated, but here's a word for you: TIGER! That was a great episode.

Mrz. 8, 2018, 6:46pm

>106 Tess_W: Glad it's not just me. My teenage niece loved it and keeps asking if I've read it yet. Now I can tell her that ain't gonna happen.

Mrz. 10, 2018, 10:14am

Hi Margaret: Sorry The Great Gatsby doesn't work for you. I love it, but didn't appreciate it until I reread it as an adult. I think it's wasted on high school kids.

The Return of the Soldier sounds wonderful. I have a copy, so I should try to get to it soon.

The Hart ones sound tempting...

Mrz. 10, 2018, 10:33am

>109 BLBera: I never had to read Gatsby in HS. But that was a long time ago, and the curriculum has probably changed considerably. Now I'm 70 and it just doesn't do it for me. I do like character-driven fiction, but not when I dislike all of them. And the dialogue in the part I read: just moronic (to me). Maybe that's the point, and if I could get to the end I might find it all comes together, but I don't think I'll try again. It's nice to hear that some people like it, though, and that it's not just literary critics that see something new (for the time) in the writing and have decided it was wonderful.

Now Return of the Soldier - that is worth reading!

Mrz. 10, 2018, 3:10pm

>104 auntmarge64: I tried to read The Great Gatsby only once and couldn't finish. I felt somewhat guilty about this and considered trying again at some point. I'm glad to read that you don't like it either, and I think I will follow your suit and declare myself also done with it. :)

The Hart book seems really interesting.

Mrz. 10, 2018, 4:17pm

I read the TGG in high school and actually it was a good experience for me. The characters are there to be undermined. Ok, it's been a while, but my memory is of a lot of appearance, where they are all pretty empty and ugly inside, and he makes a point to show how much so. Maybe I could relate them to my childhood world in some way, not sure.

I also read the Count of Monte Cristo in high school, but it wasn't exactly assigned. That one I read after my sister had told me all about the story years earlier - especially the prison escape. I have no idea if I would like it now, but it holds a place in me the way books you read early on do. I have not seen a any movie adaptations.

(both of these were read before I was reading much)

Mrz. 11, 2018, 6:48pm

>102 auntmarge64: I loved Return of the Soldier when I read it last year. That ending was really powerful.

>104 auntmarge64: Always happy to see I'm not alone regarding The Great Gatsby. I had a friend who loved it, and I did manage to read it to the end just a few years ago, but I found it to be the most boring thing I'd ever read and it's still the only book I've ever fallen asleep while reading. I've considered trying to read it again to see if I was missing something, but I don't think it's worth it now.

Mrz. 14, 2018, 3:52am

I love the Count and I never cared for The Great Gatsby so we're two for two in shared books.

Mrz. 19, 2018, 9:00pm

You got me with a BB for The Last Child. Luckily, my library has it.

I was never much of a fan of The Great Gatsby. I read it for a college class. It was ok, but I've never understood the people who read it over and over, or who consider it "The Great American Novel."

Mrz. 19, 2018, 9:56pm

Interesting to see the various reactions to The Great Gatsby. I read it in early high school and quite enjoyed it, but can't remember much about it. Perhaps I should revisit it one day...but then again there are so many other books.

For those of you who didn't care for it as much (and probably even those that do), you may like Family Guy's abbreviated version.

Bearbeitet: Mrz. 20, 2018, 11:33pm

As promised, here is my review of The Strange Bird. It's taken me several days to come to grips with it, and the review isn't long because not much can be said without giving away how Strange Bird relates to Borne.

The Strange Bird by Jeff VanderMeer **** 3/19/18

A companion piece to the author's novel Borne, this novella describes the fate of a character met in Borne (although this does not become clear to the reader for quite a while). Strange Bird is a creature of the bioengineers the main characters battle in the novel, and her fate is, simply put, one of stomach-turning horror. There were a few moments I thought of putting the book down, but Strange Bird is such an interesting character I stayed with her. A few brief scenes from the novel are recognizable in passing, and this helps make some sense of the action. If you liked Borne I'd say read this too, but be prepared for some distress. If you haven't read Borne, though, this story will make little sense, so give the novel a try first. Another supremely creative, though harrowing, offering from a master.

Mrz. 21, 2018, 2:50am

>117 auntmarge64: Thanks for the review! It seems like this was an intense reading experience. Too bad it can't be read without having read Borne first. Maybe one day I'll get to that one.

Mrz. 21, 2018, 3:54pm

>117 auntmarge64:, Hmmmm. I'll have to think about whether to pick this one up. I am interested to spend more time in the world Jeff VanderMeer created, but I don't know about this one....

Mrz. 21, 2018, 4:39pm

>117 auntmarge64: Yeah, I'll have to think about this one, too. I've read a lot of VanderMeer but there's just too many authors & books out there....

Mrz. 21, 2018, 5:49pm

>118 chlorine: >119 fannyprice: >120 avaland:

You know, I have very mixed feelings myself about having read it. What happens to Strange Bird is, well, extended torture. From her point of view. You can definitely enjoy Borne and VanderMeer's other work without having this one in your brain.

Mrz. 25, 2018, 10:17am

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie ****½ 6/24/18

The Amazon summary is quite good, so I'll just use it here:
Isma is free. After years of watching out for her younger siblings in the wake of their mother’s death, an invitation from a mentor in America has allowed her to resume a dream long deferred. But she can’t stop worrying about Aneeka, her beautiful, headstrong sister back in London, or their brother, Parvaiz, who’s disappeared in pursuit of his own dream, to prove himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew. When he resurfaces half the globe away, Isma’s worst fears are confirmed. Then Eamonn enters the sisters’ lives. Son of a powerful political figure, he has his own birthright to live up to—or defy. Is he to be a chance at love? The means of Parvaiz’s salvation? Suddenly, two families’ fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined, in this searing novel that asks: What sacrifices will we make in the name of love?

The story is told in five sections, each from the point of view of a different character whose perspective moves the plot along. The book opens with Isma, the daughter of a dead Bagram detainee, being questioned for hours at Heathrow. It's a spell-binding start to a book that moves along so fiercely it's hard to put down without wondering what's happening in one's absence. There is a sense of doom that overshadows the characters, and the ending is both shocking and completely true to the plot. I was mesmerized.

Bearbeitet: Mrz. 25, 2018, 12:59pm

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents a Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss ***** 3/25/18

Mike Pence's rabbit, Marlon Bundo, leads a lonely life until the day he meets Wesley, a bunny in the Naval Observatory's garden. They fall madly in love and decide to get married, encouraged by all their friends, until the Stinkbug, who's in charge of the garden, declares that "boy bunnies marry only girl bunnies!" The garden inhabitants fix things by deciding they get to vote for who their leader will be, and out he goes.

Although backordered as a physical picture book, this is available for either Kindle or Audible (the latter at just $1.95). I listened to the Audible version, which is accompanied on the website by a cartoon trailer. John Lithgow portrays the Stinkbug. It's a delightful introduction to the power of the vote, and a sweet story kids will love. All proceeds go to The Trevor Project and AIDS United.

Mrz. 25, 2018, 10:54am

>123 auntmarge64: We ended up ordering a copy of this after watching the Last Week Tonight segment.

Mrz. 25, 2018, 1:21pm

>123 auntmarge64:, John Lithgow is the Stinkbug?! That's brilliant. I'm still waiting for my hardcopy.

Bearbeitet: Mrz. 25, 2018, 7:26pm

>125 fannyprice: And the Stinkbug has Mike Pence's haircut and hair color. I think you can see the trailer on the Audible website without purchasing the book.

Mrz. 27, 2018, 9:16pm

>122 auntmarge64: Great to see another Home Fire fan, Margaret. It will be one of my favorite reads this year, I'm sure.

Bearbeitet: Mrz. 28, 2018, 10:03am

>127 BLBera: Yes, Shamsie is someone whose work I'm going to seek out more. It'll be one of my favorites this year, too.

Mrz. 28, 2018, 9:47am

>122 auntmarge64: I'm reading Home Fire now and also really enjoying it!

Mrz. 30, 2018, 2:55pm

Here's a question for anyone familiar with British customs: A person I greatly admired died in Britain a few weeks ago. He was only 57, and all the obits I've seen simply say he died unexpectedly. I've seen no notice of a burial or funeral. Would there be an autopsy, an inquest, or some sort of final verdict given to the public? Is it even polite to ask about such things? In the States, it's pretty common to expect a public person's cause of death to be published, but I hesitate to ask anyone in Britain who might have know lest it come across as an Ugly American type of nosiness and aggravate their grief. It's the suddenness that bothers me - well, and his age. As far as I know he was healthy and quite active physically right up to his death.

Bearbeitet: Apr. 4, 2018, 9:52am

The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben **** 3/31/18

One thing's for sure: I'll never look at trees and forests in the same way again. The variety of means trees use to communicate with one another and the lengths they go to nourish each other is stunning, and while there will be doubts about whether this is done in any deliberate sense, the same thing might be said by alien species watching us from afar. Individual trees can learn, plan, and cooperate with others of their own kind . Do they have memory, emotions, intelligence? How would that affect the divisions we have laid on the natural world: plant, animal, and the in-betweens? Trees live on such a different time scale than us that our species, with our short lives and even shorter attention spans, can barely comprehend the patterns of behavior they share among themselves and with fungi, animals, and other inhabitants of the forest and ground.

How do we define a tree? By the area of it above the ground or below, where up to half of its biomass is hidden? There is a case to be made for considering at least some aspen groves as one individual, as with Pando, a clonal colony of a single male quaking aspen determined to be a single living organism by identical genetic markers and assumed to have one massive underground root system. The plant occupies 106 acres, and its root system, at an estimated 80,000 years old, is among the oldest known living organisms (adapted from Wikipedia). How are we to put this into our own context?

Before blooming, deciduous trees agree among themselves: should they go for it next spring, or would it be better to wait a year or two? "Trees in a forest prefer to bloom at the same time so that the genes of many individual trees can be well mixed...When a pollen grain lands on a stigma, its genes are activated and it grows a delicate tube down to the ovary in search of an egg. As it is doing this, the tree tests the genetic makeup of the pollen and, if it matches its own, blocks the tube."

Despite all the planning done for storing up energy, producing young, etc., if the normal order of things are disturbed by weather, insects, overgrowth by other species, logging, or a plethora of other events, action can be taken by either the tree or an interdependent organism. For instance, lack of nutrients might cause a fungi to release a toxin into the soil to kill off a different type of organism and therefore release nitrogen to fertilize both tree and fungi.

"There are more life forms in a handful of forest soil than there are people on the plant." A tree without a forest is unable to take advantage of the life that would make it its healthiest, and it is doomed to a short existence (by tree standards, if not our own).

And here's something I didn't know, even surrounded by deciduous trees: leaf colors in autumn indicate what nutrients are being withdrawn back into the tree to help it winter over and plan for the following spring. Oaks (which surround my house) make use of every little scrap, which is why the leaves are just a dull brown by the time they fall.

Wohlleben's writing is geared to the non-specialist, and he has a sense of humor, too. Includes a note section and an extensive index.

Apr. 3, 2018, 3:49pm

The Hush by John Hart ***** 4/2/18

This sequel to Hart's The Last Child (see #104 above) is a humdinger. Hart always writes complex suspense, but this time he adds a bit of a ghost story to the plot. Rather surprisingly, it really works. This can easily be read first, and the author is careful not to give away too many of the secrets from the first novel, so people who pick this up first will be able to enjoy them in reverse order. Hart just keeps getting better and better.

Apr. 3, 2018, 3:57pm

>131 auntmarge64: Another intriguing review of this one. Perhaps I'll get round to it one day. ☺

Apr. 3, 2018, 7:10pm

>131 auntmarge64:

That all sounds fascinating. Another review I read of this book, the commentator mentioned that this is why trees planted in parking lots always look so meek and fragile and never attain any sort of substantial size. I always did feel bad for those trees and now I know why.

Apr. 3, 2018, 7:46pm

>134 lilisin: Yes, he talks about how the compacted earth strangles park and sidewalk trees. And now I feel badly for the trees around my house, too, especially those I've planted.

Bearbeitet: Apr. 3, 2018, 8:57pm

>131 auntmarge64: I’m very interested in The Hidden Life of Trees based upon your review. I’m going to go look for it now.

My library has it on kindle. :)

Apr. 4, 2018, 9:51am

>136 NanaCC: That's how I read it, too. You don't even have to leave home before you start reading. I'll await your review.

Apr. 6, 2018, 3:36pm

>131 auntmarge64: This sounds fascinating - and I love my trees. Maybe I'll be lucky enough to find an e-version as well.

Apr. 6, 2018, 4:40pm

>138 BLBera: Oh, I do hope you can, Beth. It's just one of those books that you can get so much out of that's relevant in your own life.

Apr. 13, 2018, 9:22am

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles ****½ 4/12/18

A lovely and moving story of an aristocrat who, in his early 30s and shortly after the Russian Revolution, is condemned to life-long house arrest. Since he lives at the Metropol Hotel in Moscow, this is where he is to stay, but instead of remaining in his delightful suite of rooms on the 3rd floor, he is moved with a few possessions to a tiny garret on the 6th. Being a gentleman, and used to hiding his true feelings from those who cause him pain, he goes along with good cheer, and recalling advice from elders and philosophers, he determines to make a worthy life for himself in his confinement. He has plenty of money (hidden in one of the few pieces of furniture he chooses for his new abode), and as the years go on, he does, indeed, find ways to both amuse himself and make himself feel useful. Friends visit him, the staff loves him, and his meeting with a young girl alters his life in ways he couldn't have anticipated. The changes in Russia are intricately woven into the story of his 30+ years of confinement. A wonderful tale of courage, hope, and the ability to find meaning in the smallest details.

Apr. 13, 2018, 5:10pm

Great review. I know this is still in hardcover with no paperback in sight. Kenneth Branagh is making a limited TV series of it:

Apr. 13, 2018, 10:13pm

140>141> Sounds intriguing. The TV series should be interesting.

Apr. 14, 2018, 9:41am

>141 avaland: Kenneth Branagh is making a limited TV series of it
That's delightful! He would be absolutely perfect for the main character.

Apr. 15, 2018, 9:44am

>140 auntmarge64: I'm happy to see more great comments on this one, Margaret. My book club is reading it in May. I look forward to it.

Apr. 15, 2018, 9:03pm

>140 auntmarge64: I’ve heard so many good things about this book. I look forward to getting to it.

Apr. 15, 2018, 10:37pm

>141 avaland: >142 janeajones: >144 BLBera: >145 NanaCC: Re: A Gentleman in Moscow:

I do have to say I think the cover serves the book poorly. Yes, he's in a suit, looking down from a balcony, but with a hat on while indoors? And so gloomy. When I first saw the cover I thought the book would be some depressing John le Carré espionage thing.

But it's not - it's just so delightful and well-written. (Not the le Carré isn't well-written, but I doubt many people would call it delightful!) :)

Bearbeitet: Apr. 16, 2018, 5:28pm

>140 auntmarge64: I also enjoyed A gentlman in Moscow.

But I actually stopped by to say I read The strange bird by Jeff VanderMeer this weekend and liked it a lot. You used the word harrowing in your review, which was spot on. But I also found it hopeful in a strange and beautiful way.

Borne is still on my hold list.

Apr. 16, 2018, 8:29pm

>147 markon: Hi Ardene,

I'm so glad you enjoyed The Strange Bird. Borne will fill in quite a bit about the other characters. I'll be interested in your thoughts on reading them in reverse order.

Apr. 17, 2018, 9:44am

>148 auntmarge64: I'll be curious to see how it feels from the other side. I've ordered a copy from the library - think the book will be here this week; am #3 on the list for the audio.

Apr. 24, 2018, 4:03am

I'm glad that you also enjoyed Home Fire, Marge. I loved Burnt Shadows, but was less keen about In the City by the Sea.

I'll probably read A Gentleman in Moscow later this year. A dear LT friend advised me to not read it while we were book shopping and chatting in Foyles in London late last year, but after her enticing description of it I wanted to buy it straight away!

Apr. 24, 2018, 9:41am

>150 kidzdoc: Hi, Darryl. Burnt Shadows (and In the City by the Sea) aren't available at any of my libraries, but I've recommended the former, so we'll see. I do have access to Broken Verses, The God in Every Stone and Kartography, though, and I've put them on my "to be borrowed" list for Kindle.

I do hope you like A Gentleman in Moscow! I wonder why your friend didn't want you to read it - well, I guess every book has those who don't find it appealing.

Apr. 25, 2018, 12:50pm

Interesting reading from TED:

Required reading: The books that students read in 28 countries around the world

How many have you read? {Darryl, I'm thinking of you........hahaha}

Apr. 26, 2018, 11:46am

>153 kidzdoc: >154 janeajones:
Yeah, I haven't read many either. Thought it was an interesting list, though.

Apr. 29, 2018, 10:31am

>152 auntmarge64: Interesting list. Makes me think about the required reading I had in junior high and high school and whether the books would be as relevant now. Some of the local schools around here have gone a bit more modern in their picks.

Mai 3, 2018, 10:58am

>152 auntmarge64: Definitely an interesting list. I'm reposting it on my thread so I can find it to add to my TBR.

Bearbeitet: Mai 5, 2018, 6:28pm

Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham ****

Love Story, with Murders by Harry Bingham ****

The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths by Harry Bingham ****½

This Thing of Darkness by Harry Bingham ****½

The Dead House by Harry Bingham *****

The Deepest Grave by Harry Bingham ****½

This is probably the most sustainedly interesting mystery/police series I've ever run across, so much so that once I started I kept going through the six titles published to date. The main character, Fiona Griffiths, is a young detective in Wales, and she is unorthodox, brilliant, and a royal pain in the ... for her superiors. More intriguing, though, is her struggle with Cotard's Syndrome, a drastic form of PTSD in which patients think they are dead. For two years during her teens she was hospitalized with it, and now she deals with flashes and occasionally more sustained recurrences. Even when she's distanced from her symptoms she has an affinity for corpses and typically has body shots from her crime scenes around her office space, feeling more comfortable in their presence than with most of the living. She is graced with a commanding officer who keeps her in check but also allows her some freedom to follow her head, as he puts it. Her fellow officers are not often as tolerant.

The most compelling things here are not just the complicated and sometimes downright ingenious crimes she uncovers but also the threads that run through the series: how Fiona deals with her illness, how she matures as both woman and detective, and several underlying mysteries which she slowly unravels as the series progresses. For one, Fiona finds out in Book 1 that she is adopted, found at a young age in the car of a man long known to be at the enter of Welsh organized crime but never convicted. He and his wife adopt Fiona, so her choice of police work is a balancing act for father and daughter, but it is a very close-knit family. Fiona believes that discovering her origins will help her find a cause for the Cotard's. There is also a Welsh criminal cabal Fiona believes she has uncovered and which is comprised of several very wealthy businessmen who plan and fund long-term, complex, and lucrative but illegal enterprises. Whether they have connections to her father or her real identity is not clear.

I can't recommend this series highly enough, and it's hard to believe it has gone wanting for a mainstream publisher while so many lesser lights flourish with funding and publicity. One of the books, The Dead House, has a crime that is so ingenious and terrifying for the victims it deserves a full 5 stars. All the books are at least 4 stars, and the series as a whole is very, very well done. The author comes out with a new book every year, it seems, so I'm very much hoping for Book 7 soon.

Mai 4, 2018, 8:41pm

I've been trying not to start another series, Margaret, but the fact that you could read six of them and rave about them really recommends it! Usually, if I read more than two of a series at a time, I get annoyed with it. Onto the list it goes.

Bearbeitet: Mai 4, 2018, 11:35pm

>159 BLBera: Beth, I don't usually have that kind of stick-to-it power either, even for series I like. There are too many wonderful titles tempting me away. But this detective is so unusual that it's just not clear that everything is going to go well for her as each case progresses. It's obvious she's going to live another day, but pretty much every other option is open. I read the second one first because I got the order wrong, but because the story really traces from one book to the next, reading them in order would be more rewarding. One thing I particularly like is that she really does mature as person and policewoman as time passes. I don't mean just that her life moves forward, but there are gradual shifts in her approach to life and work that show a steady progress from book to book. It's just so well done, and I kept wanting to dive back in to see how Fiona was working with her demons and managing in her unique way to resolve the cases she's been given. She's hardly perfect, but she's certainly intriguing.

Mai 5, 2018, 10:09am

To the Back of Beyond by Peter Stamm *** 5/4/18

This short novel describes the lives of a married Swiss couple after the husband walks away from the home one evening. As days and weeks go by, he wanders around the country on foot while she copes with her children, family and police and tries to decide whether or not to pursue her husband or wait for him to return. Not much more of the very understated plot can be said without giving it away. The book has a philosophical feel about it and in general left me feeling uninvolved. I couldn't relate to any of the characters and found many of their actions strange. The wife, who doesn't even realize the husband is missing for a day or so, assumes her husband has just walked away for a while (maybe it's an American thing, but how many wives in a loving, settled marriage would just assume this and wait for a few days before contacting the police?) The husband seems to have no goal in mind and is just, well, wandering. I can sort of imagine someone just "walking away" (who hasn't dreamed of doing just that once or twice?). But here the husband just wanders aimlessly and the wife goes through life somewhat aimlessly, and, well, there's no passion. So, not my cup of tea.

Mai 5, 2018, 11:53am

My library has two of the Harry Bingham mysteries, so I'm going to give them a try.

Mai 5, 2018, 5:46pm

>158 auntmarge64: Well, you’ve managed to add this series to my wishlist. High praise to Jeep reading one after the other. I love a series that makes me want to do that. Do they need to be read in order?

Mai 5, 2018, 6:25pm

>163 NanaCC: I think they can be read independently for the various mysteries, but the characterizations make reading them in order worthwhile. I borrowed the first three from Brooklyn PL and then the last three through Kindle Unlimited. Amazon charges only 99 cents for the first book on Kindle, and they have 2-6 available for Kindle Unlimited ($9.99 a month - cheap if you read fast). Or the individual volumes are $4.99. Or your PL may have them available.

Mai 6, 2018, 8:07am

>164 auntmarge64: I’ll check out the kindle versions on amazon if I can’t get them through the library. I’m on my daughter’s family plan for the kindle. We had tried the kindle unlimited at one point, and it didn’t work for us on that plan. I can’t remember why. Something to do with the sharing, I think.

I like to read series in order for the character development too, so I’ll try to do that.

Mai 6, 2018, 11:59pm

>165 NanaCC: I'm not sure what the benefits of a family plan are over just one account everyone can use, unless people can hide their reading from various other people, have books billed separately, or limit what the kids can read. Is that what it's used for?

I have numerous nieces and nephews and a sister-in-law who all have their devices registered on my Kindle account, and I can send any books I purchase or borrow from Kindle Unlimited or even from Brooklyn Library (which is serviced through Amazon) to any of them. They can also buy books on my account using their devices, although I did put a limit on the number when they were younger or I'd have been in the poorhouse :) At least they were reading!

Mai 7, 2018, 10:14am

That's a ringing endorsement! I'll look for a copy of Talking to the Dead.

Mai 7, 2018, 9:32pm

>166 auntmarge64: Our account works the way you describe. I’ll have to check with my daughter to see what the issue was. Perhaps they’ve changed something?

Bearbeitet: Mai 18, 2018, 7:39pm

Tibetan Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction by Matthew T. Kapstein ****

Thirteen centuries of religious traditions in Tibet (primarily Bon and Buddhist) described alongside the political background of known Tibetan history. While fairly technical in terminology, a layman such as myself with some understanding of the situation and of Buddhism will have little trouble following along. The actual narrative is perhaps 110 pages, with the balance a lengthy notes section. Very informative regarding variations in Buddhist philosophy and techniques (especially the clarifications on tantric practices and the real meaning of the mantra "Om Mani Padme Hum"), as well as connections with China and Manchuria over the centuries. The brevity of the text makes the descriptions a bit choppy, but there are many sources quoted and described for the reader to use for further reading.

Mai 18, 2018, 7:57pm

I have two series-related short stories I'd like to add to my library. They were freebies from the author and not available on Amazon or elsewhere, AFAIK. Several people have already added them to LT, so how do I add them to my own library? I don't see LT listed in the expanded list of sources, so I'm wondering if the only way is to add them myself and then combine them with the other entries.

Does anyone know?

Mai 19, 2018, 3:14am

>170 auntmarge64: I'm afraid you'll have to add them manually and combine them. :/
I tried also to add some standalone short stories and did not find a solution. I asked on the general LT help group and was told there was no way to directly add a book from somebody else's library, as the LT staff fears it will import wrong information.

As a result I've stopped logging my stand alone short stories for now, and I would love to find another site where this is easily possible.

Mai 20, 2018, 10:11am

>171 chlorine: Hi Clémence , thanks for the info! These two stories are in that series of mysteries I just read by Harry Bingham and they specifically fill in several things. They were offered by the author for people who follow the series via his website, and I think the information will be of interest to others down the road. I'll go ahead and add them and link to the other entries.

Mai 21, 2018, 2:27am

>172 auntmarge64: I'm sure the information will be useful for other LTers indeed!

My motivation for adding stand alone short stories was more personal: it was to keep track of which works that have received the Hugo/Nebula awards I've read. I'm doing that on my computer for now.

Bearbeitet: Mai 25, 2018, 5:07pm

Version Control by Dexter Palmer **** 5/22/18

This is a difficult book to either describe or review. It's true that it's science fiction, but only because the plot's driving force is the search for a means to prove that time travel is possible.

But the book is more interested in exploring the possibility that even tiny experiments towards that goal can have largely unrecognizable consequences and asks if we would know that we'd succeeded. The story is an in-depth look at the life of one woman, whose husband is the lead scientist running these tests. She constantly feels that things are not quite as they should be, and she'd not the only one. Right from the beginning it's obvious she may be somehow recognizing that a change in reality has been made somewhere, but how does one prove such a thing? I think the book could have been maybe a 100 pages shorter, and I found myself skimming here and there, but in general the details of her life contribute to the reader's growing unease. Quite enjoyable in the long run, and with an ending that gives satisfying closure to both the plot and some of the questions raised.

Bearbeitet: Mai 24, 2018, 8:51pm

Two short stories in the Fiona Griffiths mystery series, made available by the author for members of the Fiona Griffiths Fan Club

The Night Beat by Harry Bingham **** 5/20/18

Lev in Glasgow by Harry Bingham *** 5/20/18


Glass Houses by Louise Penny *** 5/24/18

I need to remember that I don't particularly like cozies. They just seem so full of filler.

Mai 25, 2018, 2:43pm

>174 auntmarge64: The premise of Version Control is really promising! I'll probably skip it for now, though, as I'm still reading The time traveller's almanac and have my fill of time travel fiction. :)

Mai 25, 2018, 5:08pm

>176 chlorine: You have a lot more staying power than I do - that book is LONG!

Mai 26, 2018, 2:39am

>176 chlorine: Yes it is long! I have it in e-book format, otherwise I don't think I'd have been able to stay with it, indeed. Having it always with me makes it easy to dip in for one story now and then.

Mai 26, 2018, 7:55am

>161 auntmarge64: I was more or less outraged by both characters reactions to differing degrees and that's exactly why I thought it was good. It opens a discussion of their behavior. I thought it would make a good book club book, everyone could come back pissed off and tear apart the characters and pass around the wine.... ha ha.

Mai 27, 2018, 7:15pm

>174 auntmarge64: I've had Version Control on my list for a while after seeing other good reviews of it. You've renewed my interest in it now.

Bearbeitet: Mai 29, 2018, 9:52pm

>179 avaland: Oh yes, I think people would tear it apart! It just seemed completely unrealistic to me in so many ways - their behavior, the kids' behavior, the ending - I thought I wasted quite a bit of time reading. I do wonder what a book club would think of it, though. Maybe chase down the person who recommended it?

>180 valkyrdeath: Will look forward to your review. To me, the most interesting question is: how would we know?

Mai 28, 2018, 11:53am

I only read Version Control because of its inclusion in the Tournament of Books and I was so pleasantly surprised by it. And I'm still thinking about it.

Mai 28, 2018, 3:51pm

>181 auntmarge64: "...maybe chase down the person who recommended it." LOL! I like books that get a rise out of me. Being 'disturbed' one way or another makes me think.

Mai 29, 2018, 9:59pm

>182 RidgewayGirl: I'm still thinking about it, too. We're such limited creatures in the context of the universe that fooling about with reality would certainly be cause for wondering if we know what the hell we've really done.

>183 avaland: I can't figure out why I had such a negative visceral reaction - usually if I don't like a book I just stop reading it or forget about it later. But there's something rather disturbing about the whole plot, and I haven't just "forgotten about it". So, yes, a book club might be the perfect place for it.

Jun. 4, 2018, 9:40am

Version Control seems interesting, Margaret. I'll add it to my list. It sounds like it might be a nice variation of time travel novels.

Jun. 4, 2018, 7:02pm

>185 BLBera: It's certainly a different take. I have to say I've thought about it often since reading it.

Bearbeitet: Jun. 11, 2018, 8:29pm

Finally, I've managed to find a book that kept my interest long enough to read. My concentration has been completely disrupted by distress over what's happening in our country. I keep thinking this is a group nightmare and we can somehow wake up from it.

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World by Steve Brusatte **** 6/10/18

Clever popular science that manages to convey a huge amount of information about the current state of the science without overwhelming the reader. The author is a young paleontologist and is passionate about his work, his colleagues, and the science they're doing. It's potent, although occasionally a bit repetitive with the accolades and over-the-top admiration and nicknames for the great monsters of the dinosaur age. Still, I'm delighted to have read it, and finally I think I'll be able to remember the difference between Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous.

Interspersed with stories of the fossil hunters and scientists who came before him, Brusatte gives a family history of dinosaurs, beginning with smaller ones in the Triassic and proceeding to the gigantic monsters of the late Cretaceous. There are some photos and diagrams, but I often detoured to Wikipedia for pictures. The most interesting information came near the end: how to determine what colors dinosaurs were; the likelihood of them being warm-blooded, or at least not completely cold-blooded; the development of primitive feathers on most dinosaurs species, and the discovery of a complete pygmy dinosaur hierarchy on isolated islands that would eventually form the parts of Europe. But the highlight of the book is the dramatic description of what happened the day the asteroid hit and wiped out most dinosaurs (some bird ancestors made it through, but that was it after a few years) and made space for the mammals that survived to eventually rule the world in the dinosaurs' place.

Jun. 10, 2018, 7:38pm

Brusatte did a good episode of the NY Times Book Review podcast recently. I listened because a friend at work handed me a copy of the book, which I'm looking forward to.

Jun. 11, 2018, 10:57am

187> This sounds interesting. I totally empathize with your distraction from worrying about the disaster that is the current administration. Hopefully the upcoming elections will provide some relief.

Jun. 12, 2018, 10:39pm

I worry so much that we are learning to dehumanize anyone different from ourselves. So many people think it's a good thing children are being taken from their parents and stored in kennels. Dinosaurs sound like a lovely respite.

Jun. 13, 2018, 12:20pm

>190 RidgewayGirl: Yes, indeed, they were.

I keep thinking that many in the Germany of the 1920s/30s didn't take the threat seriously either - or, more likely, couldn't imagine the future they had in store. Or maybe, like here, more and more people welcomed it. I wonder if all these people supporting what's happening like the idea of a future that could include mob violence, pogroms and camps, and I'm afraid the answer might be yes, if they feel it would protect their own.

Jun. 13, 2018, 5:28pm

>190 RidgewayGirl:, >191 auntmarge64: The more I hear, the more frightened I become. All we can do is hope that the midterm elections bring about some major changes. But it means people have to vote.

Jun. 15, 2018, 3:16pm

Until the Night by Giles Blunt **** 6/14/18

This is the sixth and possibly final installment in the excellent John Cardinal suspense series set in Algonquin Bay (a fictionalized North Bay) in northeastern Ontario. Since the book's publication in 2012 the author has been working on a TV series based on the books, with season one airing in 2017 and season two in 2018, both on Canadian TV. A third season is planned. The series stars Billy Campbell as John Cardinal, a bloodhound of a detective in the title role. The books are hard to find but well worth the effort.

Jun. 17, 2018, 1:52pm

The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro **** 6/16/18

A young artist produces custom art reproductions for a day job. She is known for her Degas expertise and is a master imitator. She's also a decent artist in her own right, but she's been blackballed by the Boston art community (the reason is part of the suspense). One day she's offered a deal by the owner of one of the galleries which has shunned her: he has been tasked by a secret client to sell a Degas painting stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum years earlier, and he wants her to reproduce it. He plans to pawn the fake off on a wealthy foreign buyer, pay off the people who contracted with him, and return the original to the museum. Her reward: a one-woman show at his gallery. The artist is so overwhelmed by having a real Degas in her studio that she agrees, but as she begins to study the work, comparing it to others by Degas and against the preparatory drawings he made for it, she realizes that one of the figures in the painting is unlikely to be original, and she starts to doubt the stolen work's authenticity. The gallery owner, of course, doesn't want to hear this, so she proceeds to make an exact duplicate while starting work on her own paintings for the gallery show.

Lots and lots of information about how paintings are reproduced, about how Degas painted, and about the Gardner museum, interspersed with the story of the blackballing and with letters written by Isabella Gardner about her friendship with Degas. Perhaps a little too long, but very enjoyable and, especially towards the end, suspenseful. Also, there is one major character whose future I'd have liked to have known. But those are minor complaints, and overall the story is both entertaining and informative, a combination I love.

Jun. 18, 2018, 4:22pm

Sharing the worries many are expressing in earlier posts. Don't know if that's what is keeping my from getting beyond chapter 2 or 3 of any book lately. It doesn't feel like a usual funk, but you seem to have moved past it so I'm sure I will eventually.

Jun. 18, 2018, 9:26pm

>193 auntmarge64: I didn't know they'd made a television series! I liked the books a lot. I'll have to figure out how to get the series down here.

Jun. 19, 2018, 9:53am

>195 avaland: For some reason I did just snap out of it, and I'm just finishing a third book. I'm working a lot on genealogy, so that might be taking my mind off the worst of the news. I'm also wondering if the uproar over those kids, as disgusted and heartbroken as I am for them, is giving me an inkling of hope that people who support Trump will take a second look. He truly has no soul. Why anyone who isn't a rich and psychopathic would think he gives two cents about their problems is beyond me.

Jun. 19, 2018, 12:27pm

>196 RidgewayGirl: I looked around a bit but didn't see it available except on DVD, but please let me know if you find it!

Jun. 19, 2018, 12:56pm

The Dry by Jane Harper **** 6/19/2018

Who comes up with these titles?

Luckily, the book is quite good, suspense set in the Australian outback, as a long-absent son of the town, Adam Falk, returns for the funeral of his childhood friend Luke, being buried beside his wife and small son and thought to have shot them and then himself. Luke's parents beg Adam to stay a few days and look into the deceased couple's finances, since he's federal agent specializing in financial crimes. Luke's father also has a message for Adam: he knows that Adam and Luke lied about where they were when another friend was killed 20 years ago when they were all in high school, and he wants Adam's help in determining whether his son killed the friend and, therefore, whether his own (the father's) silence about the alibi is responsible for his son being free to kill his family.

The town folk remember Adam with loathing and have long ago accepted his complicity or even guilt for the third friend's drowning death. He and his father had been run out of town and settled in Melbourne, where Adam still lives and works. But the new sheriff has no preconceived ideas about Adam and they start investigating together. Both crimes are solved, but while the result of one isn't all that surprising, the other I hadn't expected.

One of the stars here is the town and country itself, in the midst of a long drought and slowly dying. It's hard to imagine anyone wanting to live in such a place, and the dryness, dust and heat just permeate the book.

The second in the Falk series was published this year.

Jun. 27, 2018, 4:33pm

Two police procedural series openers from Sweden, both of which I'll follow up on.

Mind's Eye by Hakan Nesser ***½ 6/22/18

A rather spare telling that keeps the reader at a distance, but it actually worked pretty well.

Misterioso by Arne Dahl ***½ 6/25/18

Characters and details are much more filled out. I'm sure I've seen this on TV, because two of the most memorable scenes were familiar, but since I couldn't remember the conclusion I kept reading.

Jul. 4, 2018, 9:19pm

The Lost for Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland **** 7/3/18

Loveday Cardew, a young woman with a painful past, has found a family of sorts in the second-hand book shop in which she works. She lives in a tiny apartment with her books, and she is content to have a peaceful and quiet life with little personal contact except for this chosen family, with whom she feels safe. Her boss is an independently wealthy and delightfully quirky man who runs the business for pleasure and seemingly has history with just about everyone in town. He spends his days schmoozing with customers and with passersby outside the shop, and Loveday spends hers sorting boxes of books, searching for rarer volumes, and running a book discussion group. But her carefully built life begins to crack when she meets a young poet who comes into the shop to claim a book Loveday found out in the rain one evening. Her past is something she's shared with no one, and she worries that she'll need to either be honest with the poet or start keeping him at a distance. Meantime, he gets her involved with a weekly poetry reading, and she even contemplates reading some of her own to the group.

Loveday tells her story through three interwoven timelines: the present; a few years earlier, when she met a boyfriend who became a persistent problem; and her childhood. This is a delightful story for lovers of books and book stores.

Jul. 7, 2018, 8:18am

Borkmann's Point by Hakan Nesser **** 7/6/18

The second in the Swedish Inspector Van Veeteren series, and it's really growing on me. Usually I like some meat on the bones, but these spare novels about a cynical and dryly bemused detective are just the thing for a reader needing something that just skims along on the top of the story. I don't mean the crimes aren't intriguing, although I did guess this one about 3/4 through (and I'm not that good at it), but these books are just easy to digest and zip right through. The story is told through the viewpoints of the Inspector, his main associate Münster, a deft female detective from the town where they are all searching for a serial ax killer, and the killer himself. Van Veeteren believes in his mentor Borkmann's main idea about solving crime: at some point you know everything you need to, and more input only distracts you from what you have. The trick is to find the balance, and Van Veeteren is a master at it.

Jul. 8, 2018, 7:20am

>197 auntmarge64: I ended up taking up a few lighter books and forcing myself to sit and read. It's not what I'd recommend as an antidote, but it worked.

>202 auntmarge64: I read three of Nesser's crime novels some years ago (checking, they are dated 2008-2010) but didn't end up liking him that well and certainly not as well as others I was reading at the time (Ake Edwardson, Kjell Ericsson). I think you describe them well. I did read 3 but he was easy to abandon when other choices were available.

Are you on, by chance?

Bearbeitet: Jul. 8, 2018, 1:57pm

>203 avaland:. I am on The genealogy fever hits me every few years, and then I concentrate on filling in where there's new records or new DNA matches. This year I was contacted by a woman on the other side of the country who was a DNA match and we figured out that my missing great-grandmother was her great great grandmother,. She had skipped out on her family and run off with another guy. She was apparently very secretive about her past - I'm sure she never guessed she'd get tracked down a hundred years later.

Are you on Ancestry too?

Jul. 8, 2018, 2:59pm

>204 auntmarge64: Indeed, I am. user: avamatthew. Tree: avaland tree (I really should have broken it into at least four trees, it's huge. It's basically 400 years New England with lots of intermarriage between lines (my record is 9 lines from the same immigrant who came over in 1637). And because I live here, I know the geography, some of the local histories...etc. But, I also host one of my best friend's trees (she is Dutch by birth & her husband is African-American) and my sister-in-law's (early mid-Atlantic immigrants migrating west to Missouri). I had a branch for my ex-husband (late 19th, early 20th century Italian, Portuguese and some English who came through Newfoundland) and a branch for my current hubby (late 19th/early 20th C immigrants from England & Germany and on his mother's much the mid-Atlantic track similar to my sister-in-laws). Additionally, I am an editor on both my sons-in-law's tree (1. he came over from UK, so British and his mom was British born in India and 2. the other has a profile much like my previous mentioned SIL), a cousin and a 2nd cousin (twice removed).

I'm enjoying the contacts I make via the DNA test (my 3 children did the test, as did my 90 year old uncle-sole survivor and youngest of my father's family of 8) and some of us have been able to help each other. One man I contacted, who turned out to be a 2nd cousin 1x removed, and related a 2nd way a bit further back, said he didn't know about his father's line because his grandfather cut himself off from his family. Turns out that was the line we were related on. He is the great-grandson of my great grandfather—a Civil War vet—by way of his first marriage (to his 1st cousin, btw) and I am the great-granddaughter by way of his 4th marriage (he was 50 when he married my 25 year old great grandmother). Funky, huh? I did a quick tree to find all this for him and gave him time to copy it before I deleted the tree.

Loads of fun. The logic puzzle of it all appeals to me and I love the challenge of creative searching to find what I want. I love working with other's trees and dealing with records in India, South Africa, the Netherlands, the UK, France, Germany (Germany is NOT my fave - everyone has too many names) I also love the interaction with others users and the stories they come with (and I've met a lot of 2nd cousins I didn't know).

And you?

Bearbeitet: Jul. 13, 2018, 9:11am

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz ** 7/10/18

What might have been a decent mystery presented here, instead, in a cutesy plot that presents the book as non-fiction, the result of the author's pique after he's given a really hard time by his subject, a difficult ex-detective he's hired by to write up his exploits. The detective is working as a police consultant on the murder of a woman who had pre-purchased her own funeral hours earlier.

I so liked "The Magpie Murders" and looked forward to this, but it's largely an ad for all of Horowitz's activities (movies, adult books, children's books) with name dropping and imaginary conversations with people like Steven Spielberg. Over and over the plot is disrupted by descriptions of the real Horowitz' own plans, projects, and personal concerns. Way too distracting, and immensely irritating.

I rarely finish a book I disliked so much, but other reviews talked about how great the end was so I kept going, but, eh, didn't work for me.

Bearbeitet: Jul. 10, 2018, 1:53pm

>206 auntmarge64: Sorry the Horowitz was a disappointment. (and sorry that I blurped up all that stuff above...)

Bearbeitet: Jul. 10, 2018, 9:15pm

>207 avaland: No, no - I love the stuff about Ancestry! I too love the jigsaw puzzle effect of it (and I love jigsaw puzzles, too). I want to respond but I'll take it over to your home page so we don't bore the non-genealogist-addicts :) Been struggling with COPD so hadn't been writing much but will touch base tomorrow, I hope. At any rate, although I use Ancestry extensively, I keep very few records there and instead use this webpage:, in case you want to check it out. The people on the main page are my parents.

Bearbeitet: Jul. 13, 2018, 8:59am

Jar City by Arnaldur Indriðason **** 7/12/18

The beginning of the well-respected Icelandic Inspector Inspector Erlendur series, at least in the UK publication order.

Jul. 14, 2018, 11:50am

>209 auntmarge64: Another series for my FictFact list...

Bearbeitet: Jul. 14, 2018, 4:13pm

>209 auntmarge64: The Erlendur series is one of the few police procedural books that I actually enjoy, though I'm not crazy about all of them. Silence of the grave was by far my favorite.

Jul. 17, 2018, 9:02am

>193 auntmarge64: I love the Giles Blunt series! I think I've read the first four; they were library books, but the last two have been hard to find. I didn't know it was a series; I hope it travels south at some point.

I agree about The Art Forger; I found it entertaining.

The Dry is on my library list; a copy should come my way soon.

I've read the first two or three Dahl and quite enjoyed them.

The Nesser and the Jar City series are on my WL.

There are so many good series! It's impossible to keep up with them and read other things as well.

Jul. 17, 2018, 11:18pm

>212 BLBera: Beth, the Giles Blunt TV series, called "Cardinal", is on Hulu! I found it a few days ago. If you don't have Hulu you can get a month's free preview. I did that with the no-commericals subscription, and I'm watching enough to justify at least another month or two. They have 10 or 12 seasons of "Silent Witness", the British series that is what American CSIs should have been: serious, no silly repartee, comic relief, or stupid hairdos. It's pretty graphic, though. Anyway, I haven't watched "Cardinal" yet because I'm determined to finish "Silent Witness" first. But regarding Giles Blunt - yes, they are hard to find. I finally got the sixth through PaperbackSwap.

Bearbeitet: Jul. 18, 2018, 9:41am

>211 chlorine: Silence of the grave was by far my favorite.
I was just finishing it. It was really, really good!

Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indriðason ****½

A really well-paced mystery that juxtaposes a present-day police investigation and a violent family history from WWII. It quickly becomes obvious to the reader that the newly-discovered skeleton, buried for decades, will be explained by the family's story, but who the corpse is is an open question until the very end.

Jul. 18, 2018, 1:37am

>214 auntmarge64: I'm so glad you liked it!

Jul. 20, 2018, 10:46pm

The Return by Hakan Nesser *** 7/19/18

Eh, not that interesting an entry in the Swedish Inspector Van Veeteren series. Probably the last I'll read.

Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters by Mallory Ortberg *** 7/20/18

A cute premise that is very funny for the first few entries, but it's really a one-joke book and feels repetitive after a handful of chapters. Well, "chapters" is used very loosely - probably a page or two in a print book (I read the Kindle version). Of course, it helps if you have an idea who the authors or characters are, and subjects range from Greek mythology and Gilgamesh to philosophers of various ages to Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. The first entry, with Medea texting Glauce to entice her to try on the poisoned dress, made me giggle, but after reading a half-dozen more the humor seemed to sound very much the same from one entry to the next. The book would work better as a coffee table book, something to pick up now and then and open to a random selection. It would also make a satisfying stocking stuffer for the literary types in your life.

Jul. 21, 2018, 5:38am

>209 auntmarge64: There is an Icelandic movie/television adaption of Jar City that is very good. I can't remember how I came across it but it was before streaming existed, as I have it on DVD. I liked it because the characters were well-chosen and looked like ordinary people. There's a nice scene of Erlunder tucking into a sheep's head, his favorite delicacy. (it's 2006, I see ): )

Jul. 21, 2018, 9:24am

>217 avaland: Thanks, Lois, I'll take a look for it. I subscribe to Acorn, BritBox, Walter Presents, and other services on a rotating basis so might just find it on one of those.

Jul. 22, 2018, 6:53am

>218 auntmarge64: We rotate through the streaming services also (although we've had Acorn for years, though not getting much out of it these days). About to dump Hulu now that we have finished the 2nd season of "Handmaid's Tale".

Bearbeitet: Aug. 1, 2018, 7:30pm

Force of Nature by Jane Harper **** 7/26/18

Five women and five men, in separate groups, go on a corporate survival retreat in rural Australia. Only four women return, and the series' main character, a federal financial police officer, is pulled in because the missing woman was helping with an investigation into the company's finances.

The author uses flashbacks interspersed into the current time line to build suspense, and it works very well. The mystery of the woman's disappearance is really interesting, compounded as it is with possibilities that she a) was found out by the company and murdered; b) was kidnapped by the son of a famous serial killer who once roamed these hills; or c) is lost or been injured. The flashbacks and main storyline each inch towards the conclusion, and it is unexpected, which is always fun, so the mystery itself is really rewarding. My main problem with the book is that the five women all dislike and distrust each other, and it's a hard narrative to read, with all the sniping and, yes, even a few brawls. It just doesn't seem all that believable.

All-in-all, a more-than-decent thriller by the author of The Dry.

Voices by Arnaldur Indriðason *** 7/28/18

Not my favorite in this series, although it got much better in the second half. Way too many references to the Santa with his pants around is ankles and condom present.

Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indriðason ****½ 7/31/18

And now one of the better ones in the series. A woman is found hanging and is pronounced a suicide, but Inspector Erlendur just can't stop picking at the case and, of course, uncovers something sinister involving mediums, actors, and a decades-old death by drowning.

Bearbeitet: Aug. 1, 2018, 7:39pm

I tried Jeff VanderMeer's latest, a short story called The World is Full of Monsters. It's really horror, not horror-tinged sci-fi, and didn't appeal to me at all, so I didn't finish it.


Also, I watched the two available seasons of "Cardinal", the Canadian series based on Giles Blunt's moody detective series set in northern Ontario and starring Billy Campbell. Really well done, I thought. Pretty graphic, in case that matters to anyone. Available on Hulu.

Bearbeitet: Aug. 8, 2018, 2:59pm

Outrage by Arnaldur Indriðason *** 8/3/18

Not my favorite in the Inspector Erlendur series. Erlendur doesn't make an appearance except as away on holiday, and the main character is one of his team, Elinborg, who does a good job of finding the culprit, but the story is much too full of details on her cooking hobby and a few other family matters. The mystery was good, but I skimmed over some of the extraneous bits.

Black Skies by Arnaldur Indriðason **** 8/5/18

Number 8 in the English-language version of the Inspector Erlendur series set in Iceland, and this one also focuses on one member of the 3-person group in which Erlendur usually works. The story takes place during the same time as Outrage, the previous book in the series, and directly following a particularly nasty case the trio had solved in the excellent Hypothermia, the sixth in the series. Although the main character is less likable, the book is quite good and concerns three events Sigurdur Óli is investigating: the bludgeoning death of a would-be blackmailer in her home, the disappearance and subsequent death of a banker during a tour of the glaciers with some co-workers, and the decades-old abuse of a young boy and his attempts to come to terms with it when he spots his abuser while living on the streets of Reykjavik.

Strange Shores by Arnaldur Indriðason ****½ 8/7/18

The moving and powerful conclusion to the original Erlendur series. Erlendur, a very private and morose detective in Reykjavik, has great empathy for others but is so haunted by the childhood death of his little brother that he is incapable of forming lasting personal relationships. Every few years he takes off for the rural area in which he was raised and where his 8-year old brother disappeared in a sudden blizzard forty years ago, and there he wanders the hills, no longer expecting to find bones but compelled to at least be present. On this trip, he gets involved with solving an even older disappearance and in the process inadvertently finds some evidence of his brother's fate.

The last three Erlendur books take place simultaneously, weeks after the events detailed in the fourth-from last volume. These four (Hypothermia, Outrage, Black Skies, and Strange Shores) can be read as a single unit. "Hypothermia" is last case on which the 3-person team work together, and then each of the final three books focuses on one member of the team. Those of us coming to the series now have the pleasure of reading them as one story instead of awaiting new publications a year or two down the road.

Aug. 8, 2018, 3:00pm

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje ****½ 8/4/18

During their teen years, the narrator and his sister are left by their parents in the care of a menagerie of acquaintances who give them a wonderfully idiosyncratic (if sometimes criminal) upbringing. Where the parents have gone is a mystery, and it is only as an adult that the narrator is able to start making some hazy sense of his life and that of his mother, who was not all she seemed. A beautiful novel about memory, family, and post-war England that I really can't do justice.

Aug. 9, 2018, 5:49am

Nice review of Warlight, Margaret. I'll start reading it this weekend.

Aug. 9, 2018, 6:07am

Warlight will certainly be one of my best reads of the year. Glad you enjoyed it.

Aug. 9, 2018, 12:01pm

>224 kidzdoc: I know you've been keeping an eye on it, Darryl, and I think you're going to love it.

>225 avaland: Yes, it'll be on my list too, that's for sure!

Sorry I haven't been active much lately - I'm having a breathing problem that's being investigated and it's made me very tired and ruined my attention span. All I seem to be able to concentrate on are detective fiction and ballet videos. OK, that's simplified a bit, but you get what I mean - when you don't feel up to par everything seems like it takes too much energy, even the things you normally enjoy. The uncertainty doesn't help, or the damn heat (NJ). I do, however, have a bunch of angelfish babies I'm raising and they are delightful - and growing fast. Here are a few of them. For size comparison, that oblong stone on the bottom towards the right is about 2.5 inches long.

Aug. 9, 2018, 9:52pm

>223 auntmarge64: OK, that got me more interested in the book than I was before. I'll keep an eye out for it.

Sorry to hear about your breathing problems. Of all the health issues, that has to be one of the most destabilizing—it's not like you can just stay off it. Hope things resolve for you sooner than later. This east coast humid nastiness is the worst. Your angelfish are beautiful!

Aug. 10, 2018, 9:31am

>227 lisapeet: Thanks. I bought a bunch of babies from - the cutest little things when they arrived and much cheaper than buying them as adults or even young adults. It was hard to think of them as babies, and I had to remember that their metabolism would be faster than normal and they'd need food more often. I have 13 or so. Theoretically some of them will be blue as they mature, but I like them even as they are.

I thought Warlight was an appropriate title - the narrator's whole life is somewhat hazy. Hope you enjoy it!

Aug. 11, 2018, 2:17pm

Margaret: I hope you find out what's causing your breathing problems soon. I think one never values health until one doesn't have it.

I've been meaning to start the Erlendur series. I have the first couple on my shelves.

I can't wait to get my hands on Warlight; There are a few people ahead of me on the reserve list.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Aug. 11, 2018, 5:58pm

I'm glad you enjoyed Warlight. I picked up a copy, very luckily, at a charity booksale and now that it's on the Booker longlist, I need to get to it.

I hope your breathing issues are resolved soon.

Aug. 12, 2018, 10:15am

Thanks everyone for your best wishes. I'm thinking it's probably cardiac, something that can be treated with meds. I'm not particularly freaked, just want to be able to move around without huffing and puffing.

I'll be very interested in what everyone else thinks of Warlight.

>229 BLBera: re: Erlendur - the series is well worth binge reading, especially those last 3, to get the full effect of the final book. It's really haunted me since I finished it, and it was such a wonderfully appropriate wrap-up to the series. I hope you enjoy it as much I did.

Bearbeitet: Aug. 15, 2018, 9:57am

Eva's Eye (Alternate Title) by Karin Fossum *** 8/13/18

The first in a series that still needs to find its feet. Two people have been murdered within a short space: a high-end prostitute has been killed in her apartment six months earlier, and now the bloated body of a local brewery worker, who disappeared within days of the prostitute's murder, has turned up in the local river. The lead detective thinks their deaths must be related. Sounds like a good set-up, but most of the story is told by a seemingly peripheral artist who comes into the detective's sights. There's very little suspense, as she just tells her story straight out. Maybe I'm just being picky, but I like my detective stories to have more detection in them. Still, I'll give the next one a try.

Aug. 14, 2018, 9:41pm

I love Karin Fossum. When I read them about seven years ago, that one had not been translated, so I can’t comment on how the others progress from there. I know that Rebeccanyc enjoyed them after she started reading them.

Aug. 18, 2018, 10:56am

Sorry to hear about your breathing problems. That can really make it hard to go through a normal day.

FWIW my mother developed serious breathing problems at around 60. The doctors could not find what it was and we were quite worried even though the dangerous possible causes had been ruled out. In the end, a long time later, one doctor finally diagnosed asthma although she never had asthma before, and now she's doing really OK with asthma Ned's.

Bearbeitet: Aug. 19, 2018, 6:48am

>226 auntmarge64: Sorry to hear you have had breathing problems. And the weather. I am NE of you and we have had constant heat, humidity and downpours. Humidity would not be helpful for the breathing, for sure.

I read two Karin Fossum novels—the 4th & 5th in the Sejer series—when they first came out in the US back more than 10 years ago. I remember liking them, don't know why I didn't keep up; I certainly kept up with others during the same era.

Aug. 19, 2018, 8:22am

>235 avaland: I keep saying New York (and the northeast in general) is the new Florida this summer (and probably forevermore)—downpours every afternoon, and unrelenting souplike humidity the rest of the time. I live at the top of a long hill that I have to walk up at the end of every day, and even without medical issues I can really feel the bad air quality by the time I reach my door.

Bearbeitet: Aug. 23, 2018, 9:13pm

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang **** 8/18/18

A delightful fairy tale for adults, recommended by Bragan.


Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson *** 8/22/18


The Shadow District by Arnaldur Indriðason **** 8/23/18

The first in a new Icelandic detective series by the author of the Inspector Erlendur books. The new cases take place during WWII, when American forces occupy Iceland to keep it from falling into German hands. One of the detectives works for the newly established Reykjavik detective squad, and the other is a Canadian/Icelandic military policeman assigned to the American base. Here the story of their last case is told, interspersed with a present-day mystery surrounding the murder of one of them when he's a very old man. It's determined that his death may be a result of him looking into two cases from the war effort, and the retired policeman taking a look for the overworked present-day force has to piece together what the dead man was looking for and what he found that might have caused his death. It doesn't help that almost all records of the older cases are missing.

The book is quite good, although unfamiliarity with the names makes it a bit confusing at times to keep the two stories straight, but that's not the author's fault. If you like the Erlendur books, or just good Scandinavian mysteries, give this a try. The second book is already out.

Bearbeitet: Aug. 26, 2018, 4:16pm

I have just recently put the newest Jonasson novel, "The Darkness" (first in a trilogy) on order with the Book Depository. It's not out until October. I wouldn't list him as my top crime reads, but he's good enough for me to keep buying :-)a

How's the breathing problems?

Bearbeitet: Aug. 27, 2018, 8:42am

>238 avaland: I just downloaded the second in the other series to see if I want to keep reading him. I do love Icelandic mysteries, but it's got to be worth the time. I'll report back and watch for you review of the new one.

Re: breathing - it's AFib, so now I'm on all those old-people medicines (well, I am 70, so I'm not surprised). Anyway, the breathing has eased up quite a bit, so once we get the rhythm under control I should be able to start getting out and walking again. Might take a shock or two - that'll be interesting. Thanks for asking!

Aug. 27, 2018, 8:58am

>239 auntmarge64: I’m sorry to hear of your health issues. I wish you a speedy recovery. We are about the same age, and all I can say is getting older is not fun. (I refuse to say old.) It is important to keep moving as much as you can. I hope you will be able to do so very soon.

I haven’t started the Arnaldur Indriðason series, but I’m looking forward to them based upon your comments.

Sept. 1, 2018, 7:02pm

Nightblind by Ragnar Jonasson **** 9/1/18

The second in the Dark Iceland mystery series, which takes place in Siglufjörður, a small fishing village and the northernmost town on the Icelandic mainland, about 25 miles south of the Arctic Circle. The novice policeman Ari Thor Arason is has make a home for himself despite being an outsider, and he and his old boss investigate the murder of his new boss, who's gunned down one night in a case that shocks the country, where the violent death of a policeman is unheard of. A really well thought-out plot and interesting characters make for a big improvement over the first in the series. Very enjoyable.

Sept. 1, 2018, 7:08pm

Kartography by Kamila Shamsie

I didn't finish this so haven't rated it. I loved the author's Home Fire, but this book just wouldn't end. I got up to the 50% mark and thought I just don't care anymore.

Sept. 2, 2018, 3:18am

>240 NanaCC: AFib sounds serious. I hope everything goes well for you. I'm glad that the medicine seems to work!

>242 auntmarge64: This must have been a disappointment. Judging by the reviews it seems like this one is more hit or miss than Home fire.

Bearbeitet: Sept. 15, 2018, 2:00pm

Cursed: Henning Juul by Thomas Enger **** 9/6/18

Killed: Henning Juul by Thomas Enger **** 9/8/18

These are books four and five of the Norwegian Henning Juul suspense series. Book four was the only one available as an ebook at my library, and book five was available for 99 cents from Amazon (the others aren't as inexpensive).

The five books tell one story, that of journalist Henning Juul's search for the people who torched his apartment, leaving him badly burned and his 6-year old son dead. At the time of the fire Henning was married, but the couple had been separated before the child's death and his ex is now living with one of Henning's co-workers. It makes for an awkward arrangement, but all three strive to make the situation bearable and are equally interesting as characters. Henning is convinced the fire was set because of an investigation he's been doing and he knows approximately who is responsible. As he digs deeper and deeper, various people around him die, and several times attempts are made on him, as well.

This is one of the better suspense series I've read, with such a well-paced plot that for once I wasn't skipping boring scenes or wondering if the book would ever end. I'd have happily kept reading if there was another in the series. While reading all five would be rewarding because the series is so well-done, starting on book 4 worked out fine, too. The main issues are explained as the story progresses, and I had no problem following everything that was happening, so if you can find only the later books, give it a go.


Distant Echo by Val McDermid ***½ 9/15/18

Sept. 22, 2018, 9:58am

Hi Margaret - I'm happy to hear your heart problem was diagnosed. I've heard that A-Fib can be really scary.

The Icelandic mysteries look like ones I would like. Now, I just need more hours in the day. The Shadow District looks good. I'll check to see if my library has a copy.

Have a lovely weekend and take care.

Sept. 27, 2018, 1:25pm

Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward ***** 9/22/18

First of all, it's Bob Woodward, which guarantees the integrity and quality of the research. Most of the juicy bits have been aired, but the real impact of the book comes from the measured presentation of the vast material to which Woodward had access. Woodward's approach is to absent himself from the equation and rely almost exclusively on the interviews and documents he collected to detail Trump's activities, attitudes, and approach to leadership and decision-making. The result is an appalling tale of deceit and narcissism, in which Trump has relied on bullying, anger, threats, and lies to turn his world view into our political position in the world.

The nuggets published before the book's release barely suggest the depths of dysfunction in the White House. The most lasting impression from reading the book is the lengths his staff are going through to keep him from starting a war. They can spend weeks arguing with him to keep him from disastrously changing international relations, but even when they succeed in talking him down, often after many (many) conversations and pleadings, he frequently agrees to abide by some decision only to undermine it by somehow publicizing his true opinion and intent. This may be through tweets or, for the big issues, often a matter of reading a prepared speech, to which he acceded, and then to go off script and add comments that contradict the main points. He typically refuses to listen to evidence that disagrees with his previously held views, often screaming at staff that he doesn't want to listen to that s**t anymore. Some staff get booted from the office.

Another impression left by the book is that Trump, who is notoriously paranoid and refuses to accept criticism or blame for even small things, applies the same approach to his duties as President, assuming even our allies are out to get him (us), and typically preemptively attacking.

As to the ability of aides to distract him from some of his really dangerous ideas, removing memos and delaying actions, there's just no way to deny that while this is a relief, it means he is functioning at abnormal attention level.

It's clear that Trump distrusts everyone, and I mean everyone, who isn't family. Any efforts to stop him from lashing out at those who disagree with him or are perceived to disagree with him, are seen as proof of betrayal and met with unbridled anger, seething resentment, and feelings of betrayal. Even the few restrictions on his powers as President are interpreted as personal affronts, and woe the messenger who has to inform him of those limitations, which he will question over and over, wondering why there are any limits.

Trump's refusal to speak the truth runs throughout the book. Two specific events stand out. Early in the campaign, when he first interviewed Bannon, Bannon told him there were a few things he saw as problems, including (1) Trumps pro-choice stance, the (2) preponderance of his donations having gone to Democrats. In both cases, Trump denied everything. Bannon and the advisers proceeded to show him documentation of his pro-choice statements, and Trump denied it again. When they insisted, he relented and said, "I can fix that". As to the donations, which he denied repeatedly despite the evidence, he finally said, in effect, "I had to. The Democrats run the cities and that's where I wanted to build." Later, as Mueller closed in, Trump's lawyer at the time, John Dowd, tried to convince Trump that meeting personally with Mueller would be disastrous, and to this end, he staged a mock interview. It was so bad that Dowd went to Mueller and admitted that "Trump's a f**king liar" and would be unable to answer Mueller's questions truthfully. Literally unable. Trump insisted the mock interview had been fine and that he wanted to go ahead with meeting Mueller, and Dowd resigned.

This is the first book on Trump I've managed to finish, and I chalk that up to Woodward's ability to lay out the big picture. Rather than producing a litany of shocking events, he shows the underpinnings, the enormity of the actual problem rather than just titillating tidbits. The tidbits are there too, of course, but as part of the ongoing narrative. This is an extremely important book and I recommended it as highly as possible. Woodward pretty much leaves the reader to come to an individual conclusion, and for me it was a stunned realization that the situation is much, much worse than we feared, an appalling situation in which our country is being lead by a child with an almost unlimited ability to damage us for years to come.

Sept. 27, 2018, 1:53pm

>246 auntmarge64: Great review! I haven’t had a chance to get it yet, but it is on my agenda.

Sept. 27, 2018, 5:26pm

>247 NanaCC: Thanks! It's well worth the time. I thought the review would be much shorter, but once I started it I couldn't stop .

Sept. 28, 2018, 10:02am

Excellent review

Sept. 29, 2018, 9:43pm

>249 baswood: Thank you! It's such an important book I felt I had to bring attention to it.

Sept. 29, 2018, 9:54pm

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith ***½ 9/27/18

This is the fourth in the Cormoran Strike detective series, set in Britain and written by a pseudonymous J.K. Rowling. I loved the first three and was surprised that I didn't find this as rewarding. The mystery is very detailed, which I like, but there are several plot details I thought spoiled the tension. It's hard to be specific given that it would give away a lot from earlier books, so I'll just say that one of the main series characters finds life complicated in a way which is, to my way of thinking, unthinkable, given that character's strength of will and determination. The problem continues in a completely unlikely way throughout the book and more or less ruined it for me, the matter being so out of character. (How's that for vague?) The book is too long, IMHO, and there are also way too many middling and minor characters that repeatedly come in and out, and many of them have silly nicknames, and, well, I found it all very irritating.

However, I will say I've read that Rowling is planning at least another 10 books in the series, and my overall reaction to that is YAY!!! And if you've read the first three, by all means read this one to keep the story up-to-date.

Sept. 30, 2018, 11:32am

>251 auntmarge64: I’m next up on my library's waiting list for this one. I’ll keep my expectations in check. I love this series, so another YAY for ten in the series.

Sept. 30, 2018, 1:23pm

>252 NanaCC: I'll be interested to see if it's just me. My nephew started me on this, so I'm waiting for him to read it, too. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood, but I'll definitely look for your review.

Bearbeitet: Okt. 4, 2018, 10:18pm

The Power by Naomi Alderman **** 10/3/18

A dystopian, apocalyptic novel of gender war, brought on by a newly-developed ability among females: the power to generate and project electricity from within their own bodies, and to awaken it in other women. Needless to say, there is a great deal of anger among the women of the world, and the ability to exact revenge, sometimes on any man encountered, provokes a massive backlash and a move towards catastrophic destruction wrought with today's weapons. The characters aren't particularly sympathetic, partly as a result of the storyteller's distance from the events - 5000 years into the future. But the ideas are very interesting, and having read this during the week the Kavanaugh nomination was being fought, I thought it was very timely.

Okt. 9, 2018, 7:15am

>246 auntmarge64: Excellent review. I have only ever been able to read both of David Cay Johnston's books. They are succinct reportage (and the guy has been covering him since the 80s). I did read the introduction to How Democracies Die but found I could go now further, what with keeping up with the Washington Post daily and other news.

>254 auntmarge64: I do mean to read that at some point. The hearings and aftermath greatly interfered with my reading and review-writing, and I am not yet back on track. Not coincidently, I listened to a lecture via YouTube of historian Mary Beth Norton discussing how she wrote her book on the Salem Witch Trials, In the Devil's Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692, my favorite book on the subject.

Glad your health problems have been diagnosed and are being treated.

Bearbeitet: Okt. 24, 2018, 9:41pm

Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg **** 10/12/18

I read this when it was first published about 25 years ago but seem to have liked it better now, probably because I've been immersing myself in Nordic crime novels. It was one of the first in the genre to make a splash, with the added bonus of being just as much about native life in Greenland as about the mystery.

A native Greenlander living in Denmark, Smilla is obsessed with finding out why a child in her building ran off the roof of their apartment building when he was terrified of heights above the second floor. Most of the action takes place in Denmark, but Smilla's memories of her upbringing and professional life working in the Arctic are interesting diversions from the story and help explain her need to investigate and to take risks to find an answer.

Literature as well as genre-writing, this is well worth the effort to follow her meanderings through the past as she gets closer to the truth and ends up in extreme weather and circumstances as she finds her answers.


The Shadow Killer by Arnaldur Indriðason ***½ 10/15/18

Down the River unto the Sea by Walter Mosley *** 10/24/18

Okt. 18, 2018, 4:42pm

Auntmarge64! where have I been? how did I manage to forget your thread? Probably because I haven't over to club read but once or twice this year.

>92 auntmarge64: >94 auntmarge64: I'm so glad to see that you got around to The Count! After listening to 36 riveting discs, I watched the Jim Caviezel film as well as the Robert Donat film from the 1930s. I planned to watch the Chamberlain version, but never did. Back on the things to do list. :-)

>140 auntmarge64: I also loved A Gentleman in Moscow on audio. Lovely story and excellently narrated by Nicholas Guy Smith. It is nice to hear that Kenneth Branagh is adapting it to the small screen. Though he is perfect for the role, I wonder about its translation to the screen. I wonder if it will be able to retain it lyrical wonder. I would have put Christopher Plummer forward for the role if it was 20-30 years ago.

>256 auntmarge64: Though I will not likely engage the series, I do love the noir style covers on theInspector Erlendur books.

Okt. 24, 2018, 9:44pm

>257 brodiew2: Hi Brodie! I'm just starting Red Moon, Kim Stanley Robinson's latest. Have you seen it? Came out yesterday.

Okt. 25, 2018, 10:33am

>256 auntmarge64: Smilla's is discussed in the book I've been reading Scandinavian Crime Fiction; an interesting discussion of what the novel was responding or reacting to at the time it was written. It's deepened my appreciation for it. It also prompted me to read other Peter Hoeg books (which are not that much like Smilla, but I loved The Quiet Girl) and other novels set in Greenland.

Okt. 25, 2018, 2:09pm

>258 auntmarge64: I never got into Kim Stanley Robinson. Back in the day, I considered Red Mars, but did not find it very accessible. I am in the home stretch of The Way of Kings by Brian Sanderson. I am on Disc 29 of 36. It is as many discs as The Count of Monte Cristo. To date I have not read a book longer than these.

Okt. 26, 2018, 9:39am

>259 avaland: Scandinavian Crime Fiction and others like it are something I haven't looked at but am going to immediately. Looks like there are several available. I've been using online resources as a guide to finding books, but, of course, a book-length treatment is bound to be more comprehensive. I will definitely look for The Quiet Girl - Smilla is the only one of his I've read so far.

>260 brodiew2: Unfortunately, I've decided I'm not in the mood for Robinson - or maybe it's the description of the book. I did love the Mars trilogy and still think of the ideas he explores, but it's definitely an acquired taste and requires endless patience. I'm not as interested in fiction set on the moon as I am of novels that explore other planets, especially in our own solar system. I'll read almost anything set on Mars . I haven't read Sanderson's work - do you like it?

Bearbeitet: Okt. 29, 2018, 6:50pm

Enduring Love by Ian McEwan **** 10/28/18

This story seemed so familiar when I started reading it. Perhaps I've tried it before and seen some of the movie, but I'm glad to say that this time I got through the whole thing.

A youngish married couple is picnicking near Oxford when they see a huge hot-air balloon being swept along the ground, a young boy in the basket and an older man on the ground twisted in the lines. The husband, Joe, and several other men in the park run towards the balloon, at first having success keeping it on the ground but finally being pulled up into the air in a strong gust of wind. All but one of them drops off as the balloon ascends with the boy still aboard and one rescuer dangling from a rope, hundreds of feet up. As the onlookers watch helplessly, the man loses his grip and plummets to the ground, and the balloon floats away. Joe and a second man, Jed, approach the body, and what they find is described in vivid and horrifying detail and, I'm sorry to say, will haunt me for many a day.

Joe, from whose viewpoint the story is told, is wracked with guilt, convinced that if they had held on for a only few seconds longer the gust would have passed and no one injured. But a more serious situation arises as Jed becomes obsessed with him and begins to stalk him, convinced it's their destiny to be together and for Jed to bring Joe to his God. Here we arrive at the central problem with the plot: even while he tries to convince his wife of the seriousness of the stalker, Joe erases 30+ phone messages left by Jed instead of having her, or the police, listen to them. This seemed really implausible to me, and to the wife. Jed changes his tactics frequently so that the wife never sees him, and she begins to think her husband is imagining the situation. I found it interesting, and an indication of how good a writer McEwan is, that as a reader even I began to wonder if Joe was crazy.

More and more isolated, Joe decides that only he can protect himself from Jed, and he takes a desperate step that brings the story to its climax.

Okt. 29, 2018, 8:03pm

>262 auntmarge64: The opening chapter concerning the balloon is brilliant I think and what follows is a real surprise.

Okt. 30, 2018, 4:25pm

>263 baswood: I thought the opening chapter was just wonderful - even thought I knew what happened I found myself hyperventilating. I thought I'd have a problem with the religious aspect: I've had enough religion forced on me without reading about someone else going through that. But the focus is on Joe's reaction, not Jed's presentation, and that made it quite readable. I was surprised to realize this is the first McEwan I've read, so I have lots of enjoyment in my future.

Okt. 30, 2018, 4:26pm

History as They Saw It: Iconic Moments from the Past in Color by Wolfgang Wild ***** 10/30/18

Glorious colorized full-page photos from the black-and-white era. Some are famous, others are obscure photos of regular people and everyday events, but all are worth looking at. Familiar topics include the building of the Statue of Liberty, the Flatiron Building in New York City, and the Golden Gate and London Tower bridges; a four-page aerial view of San Francisco after the earthquake of 1906; a young, beardless Lincoln; the iceberg that sank the Titanic, and the Wall Street celebration following the surrender of Germany in 1918. But there are numerous anonymous subjects: immigrants at Ellis Island, many in native costumes; Confederate prisoners at Gettysburg; a child miner; a black Union soldier and his family. The earliest photo is considered to be the first photographic self-portrait taken (1839). The photos are arranged in reverse chronological order, a format I didn't really see the need for, but in the end it really doesn't matter. The last section is comprised of smaller reproductions of the original in black and white.

The colorization is not quite what I expected, but I think the photos themselves sometimes defeated the best efforts. The cover picture is an example: it's not really what I would have thought of as how human eyes would have perceived the scene's colors, but hazier and more muted. A few are in true, brilliant color, such as a famous photograph from Antarctica in which the sky is a bright blue.

A book to treasure and share. Even in black and white these would have been mesmerizing. Color, even muted, gives them an added dimension. Highly recommended.

Okt. 31, 2018, 9:54pm

Hello auntmarge64!

>262 auntmarge64: I've only read one Ian McEwan, Amsterdam and found depressive and melancholy. It, in no way, encouraged me to attempt another. Should I? Or is the tone pretty much the same throughout his books?

Nov. 1, 2018, 6:36am

>265 auntmarge64: Interesting review, but I think I would not like the book, because I love black and white photography especially for "news" events. I find colour a distraction.

Nov. 1, 2018, 7:29am

>266 brodiew2: Or is the tone pretty much the same throughout his books?
That's a good question! Its only the first of his I've read, and it's pretty melancholy too. There's a lot of introspection and self-doubt in it.

>267 baswood: I love black and white photography especially for "news" events. I find colour a distraction. You know, I agree with you. There's something jarring about seeing the images this way. It's still pretty interesting, though, and a wonderful selection. And something to think about: how people saw these scenes in every-day color, just as we would, while we tend to think of that world in black and white and separate from our own.

Nov. 1, 2018, 11:34am

>264 auntmarge64: Each of McEwan's books are so different from the others. I've loved some and hated others. Not all are melancholy -- Sweet Tooth is a spy novel, for example.

Nov. 1, 2018, 5:52pm

>269 RidgewayGirl: - Huh - well, I do have plans to read more by him. He sure has written a LOT! Any others you'd particularly recommend?

Nov. 2, 2018, 10:20am

Hi Margaret - I can't believe I got so far behind.

Great comments on the Trump book - I'm still not sure I can read it without despairing.

Reading The Power during the Kavanaugh hearings! I already spent two weeks in a state of rage; I think that would have pushed me over the edge. I'm using it in my dystopian fiction class. I wonder what the students will say.

Nov. 2, 2018, 2:28pm

>270 auntmarge64: I really liked On Chesil Beach, which is an odd, quiet book and Atonement are the ones I liked best, but The Children's Act gave me a lot to think about. I think with McEwan the best thing to do is to poke around what he's written and pick the one that most appeals to you.

Nov. 2, 2018, 11:01pm

The Spaceship Next Door by Gene Doucette **** 11/2/18

This was a book I liked a lot more than I thought I was going to. It sounded like the kind of science fiction I prefer, but once into it I thought it was a little too YA for my tastes. However, I kept getting pulled along and eventually couldn't put it down. In fact, I liked it so much that I just paid for the sequel because my library doesn't have it.

It's been three years since a spaceship landed in the small Massachusetts town of Sorrow Falls. The ship looks like a black box, big enough for only a couple of people; since the day it landed it's never made any noise or movement. The townspeople have gotten used to it, and to the army base which sprang up next to it to keep an eye on it, and life has gone back to normal, albeit augmented by a group of campers parked nearby housing UFO believers.

16-year year old Annie is well-known and liked by pretty much everyone in town, including the UFO contingent. Her mother is dying of cancer and her father is absent, so Annie does all the shopping and has a small job at the local diner. This particular summer vacation, a government planner and researcher, Ed, claiming to be a reporter, shows up and is advised by the base general to use Annie as a guide for meeting people and getting local color. He's astonished to discover she really is known and trusted by everyone, so he's able to get information from people who are sick to death of reporters. They in turn figure out that he's not really a reporter and are a bit more cooperative. He begins to find vague corroboration for his conclusion that the ship is waking up.

How Annie really fits into what's happening, and what happens to the townspeople as the ship subtly affects them, makes the story more and more compelling. There's no sex or cursing, something that made one reviewer comment that it read like mid-century Sci Fi. And yes, in that way it's kind of bland for an adult, but after a while it doesn't matter, it's that good. Another reader commented that the author made sure to use 10 words whenever he could have used one or two, but in general I thought that while it was true, it reinforced the feeling of a sleepy little town just getting on with everyday life.

I've been reading a lot of murder mysteries lately, and this was a wonderful palate cleanser. Now I'm off to read the sequel. I want to find out what happens to Annie and Ed next.

Nov. 2, 2018, 11:08pm

>271 BLBera: Yeah, I can't even watch the news anymore. I read the headlines online, but that's it. The most startling thing about the book was his lawyer's statement to Mueller that they couldn't allow Trump to talk to him because he's incapable of telling the truth. Oh to be a fly on that wall. Mueller must have had a hard time not letting his jaw drop. Whether the lying is because Trump can't recognize the truth or just doesn't care seems up in the air, but it doesn't really matter, does it?

>272 RidgewayGirl: Thanks for the suggestions. I'm sure my library has most of his stuff on Kindle so I'll check out those titles and look at his other books, too.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 12, 2018, 10:32pm

The Frequency of Aliens by Gene Doucette ****½ 11/6/18

This is the sequel to The Spaceship Next Door (post 273 above) and even more enjoyable. Alice is in college now, Ed of the ridiculously high security clearance is off doing his X-Files thing, and the other survivors of the ship's presence show up as the book proceeds. Can't say much more than that without giving away what happens in the first book, but I really hope the series continues.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 9, 2018, 4:24pm

>261 auntmarge64: The Quiet Girl is about as different from Smilla as a book can be. I gave it five starts but began my review with this: "This complex, philosophical, literary thriller—with a musical, famous circus clown as its action hero—is a dizzying, but riveting read. I'm not sure I've read anything quite like it. Sometimes I felt I was being used as a pin in a juggling act."

I gave it 5 stars, janeajones gave it 4 1/2, and it seems most either really loved it, or really hated it. I would just say that it's probably a not-for-everyone book.

Nov. 10, 2018, 10:13am

>276 avaland: Thanks for the input on The Quiet Girl. I'll try to get a copy. Quite often I like "not for everyone books".

Nov. 10, 2018, 10:25am

Tell No One by Harlan Coben **** 11/10/18

Stand-alone suspense that has familiar themes but is really well done.

A pediatrician who works with an inner-city clinic still mourns his new bride, the childhood sweetheart he'd married only months before she was murdered while they were at the family's cottage celebrating the anniversary of their relationship. That was eight years ago. Now he receives an anonymous email that is phrased in words that only the two of them would know, such as "kiss time", the exact time they originally kissed. This sets off a whirlwind of events and violence over several days in which he tries to determine if it's a hoax or she's somehow alive, people around him start to get tortured to death, and he is accused by the FBI of having killed her in the first place. It's pretty tense, for all that it seems it's been done before, and I was hooked, hoping that the time wouldn't be wasted. It wasn't! Now I'm going to look into Coben's other (crowded) backlist, of which this seems to be the first I've read. Isn't it nice to find an established author you've only just discovered?

Nov. 10, 2018, 10:58am

>277 auntmarge64: Like you, Margaret, I often like the 'not for everyone' books. I'll look for The Quiet Girl.

Nov. 17, 2018, 9:29pm

Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly **** 11/17/18

No. 23 in the Harry Bosch detective series and no. 2 in the Renée Ballard detective series, and judging from the conclusion, the beginning of the Bosch/Ballard series. Solid police suspense set in L.A.

Nov. 25, 2018, 9:05pm

Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking ****½ 11/24/18

Hawking's final book, finished by his family and various scientists. Here he puts in perspective his thoughts on
- the need for, or even the existence of, a god
- how the universe began
- the possibility of other intelligent life in the universe
- whether the future can be predicted
- what is in black holes
- the possibility of time travel
- the chances of humans surviving if they stay on Earth
- whether we should colonize space
- whether artificial intelligence will outsmart us
- how we can shape the future

The book is an excellent overview of where his work and interests stood when he died earlier this year, and it's well worth working through the sections that might be hard for a layperson. Other reviewers have stated that there are some inaccuracies scattered about, but as a layperson myself, interested in but not particularly educated in physics and cosmology, I wouldn't recognize them or remember them. In other words, I didn't find them a problem (and I have to imagine the errors were not Dr. Hawking's).

The most surprising section discussed Hawking's concern about the rise of artificial intelligence. As much as he relied on, and applauded, the benefits of AI and electronic devices, he also had fears: If computers continue to obey Moore's Law, doubling their speed and memory capacity every eighteen months, the result is that computers are likely to overtake humans in intelligence at some point in the next hundred years. When an artificial intelligence (AI) becomes better than humans at AI design, so that it can recursively improve itself without human help, we may face a intelligence explosion that ultimately results in machines whose intelligence exceeds ours by more than ours exceeds that of snails. When that happens, we will need to ensure that the computers have goals aligned with ours. It's tempting to dismiss the notion of highly intelligence machines as mere science fiction, but this would be a mistake, and potentially our worst mistake ever....One can image such technology outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders and potentially subduing us with weapons we cannot even understand. Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all.

His daughter ends the book with a very sweet description of her life with him as a father and his funeral and burial. Highly recommended.

Past Tense by Lee Child **** 11/25/18

One of my guilty pleasures: the ex-MP Jack Reacher suspense series. Here Jack stops off in Laconia, NH, to take a look at the house his father lived in as a young man. Needless to say, there are bad people about that he has to take in hand. Once again much is made of his appearance - very tall, very wide, very scary, and with an attitude to match. Sorry, Tom Cruise, but that ain't you!

Bearbeitet: Dez. 3, 2018, 9:37am

The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje ****½ 12/2/18

A lovingly-described portrait of a 14-year old boy traveling by ship from Ceylon to England in 1954. As a nobody, he finds himself seated for meals at the "cat's table", a euphemism for the table for the least desirable passengers and located the farthest from the captain's table. Needless to say, the characters he meets are a delightful collection and uninhibited by the most restrictive social customs as they have no farther to fall in social standing, at least on this 3-week voyage.

The boy makes friends with two others of similar age consigned to his table, and they spend their time spying on adults, discovering the hidden areas of the trip, and getting into considerable trouble at all hours. They stay up late to watch a murder suspect being given his midnight walk on deck, learn the whereabouts of an enormous painting, deep in the ship's bowels, of nude women riding the machines of war (a leftover from WWII), and are introduced by an adult at their table to a huge garden he is transporting and keeping alive below decks with artificial light and sprayed water. As the book progresses, the story slowly evolves from being the tale of the boy, interspersed with a few inklings of his future life, to the tale of the adult, looking back and examining his memories.

Very satisfying indeed.

Dez. 5, 2018, 6:22pm

Ways to Hide in Winter by Sarah St.Vincent ***** 12/5/18

A perfectly paced character study with wonderful dialog and an atmosphere of suspense that keeps the reader wondering - and reading.

In the mountains of Pennsylvania, a young widow named Kathleen works days at a small state park shop that services hikers, campers and hunters. It's winter now, so there is little business in either the shop or the hostel next door, and the campgrounds are closed. Kathleen is clearly recovering from serious physical and psychological injuries, although the causes are revealed only slowly. She lives nearby with her elderly grandmother, for whom she provides care.

As she's closing shop one day, a man arrives at the store looking for the hostel keeper. He's obviously weak, almost starving, and has no transportation, and she opens the hostel for him so he won't freeze over the weekend. As the winter wears on they get to know each better, clearly enjoying each others' company but hesitant to share too much about themselves. Eventually the FBI and state troopers begin to nose around, but by this time time Kathleen and the hostel keeper have gotten to trust the stranger, and they struggle with the problem of who he is, what he's done, and how much they should help him. The stranger's past, and his fate, affect Kathleen in momentous ways, and her own past colors her response to him and leads to life-altering changes for her.

Moving and beautifully written. I couldn't put it down.

Dez. 6, 2018, 4:09pm

>282 auntmarge64:, >283 auntmarge64: both of these sound great in different ways. I may look to Ways to Hide in Winter sooner than later.

I've just started Whiskey When We're Dry which was a hot item on the 75er thread earlier this years. I'll see how it goes.

Dez. 6, 2018, 6:04pm

I've made note of Ways to Hide in Winter. It sounds fantastic.

Dez. 7, 2018, 6:24pm

The Wind by Dorothy Scarborough **** 112/7/18

Recently I watched a clip of the choreographer Arthur Pita rehearsing Royal Ballet dancers for his new work, "The Wind". ( It's based on this controversial novel, published in 1925 and subsequently filmed in 1928 with Lillian Gish. The controversy over the novel arose because of the portrayal of the Sweetwater, Texas, area during a drought in the late 19th century. The publisher, in a poorly planned PR stunt, released it anonymously, leading Southern readers to assume spiteful Yankee authorship, when in fact Scarborough was Texas-born and -raised and had spent time in the Sweetwater area.

Letty Mason, an 18-year old Virginia girl raised in very genteel circumstances, is hustled off to relatives in west Texas after she is left destitute. It's a nightmare. The wind blows incessantly, sand gets into everything, and she is not really wanted in her cousin's small, poorly-appointed cabin, where even one extra mouth to feed is a burden. As she begins to go mad from loneliness and frustration, Letty is courted by two very rough cowboys, neither of whom she can imagine marrying. Instead, she dreams of returning to Virginia to find her white knight, or at least of making a connection with the handsome rancher she met on the train and who promised to stay in touch. The drought goes on for the many months the book covers, and Letty's life and future become more and more bleak.

That sounds really depressing, I know. In fact, I wouldn't have read the book based on such a description. However, the fact that it interested Pita so much made me take notice, and it is considered by some to be a classic of Texas literature. The writing is focused on Letty's mental downfall, and the wind is easily the second most important character. In her imagination it is an enemy that taunts her, reading her mind and taking pleasure in destroying all hope she can muster. In the end I'd have to say I found the book pretty interesting, and I'm glad I read it.

Royal Ballet principals Natalia Osipova and Edward Watson as Letty and The Wind, respectively.

Bearbeitet: Dez. 13, 2018, 9:45pm

True Places by Sonja Yoerg **** 12/8/18

Iris is a 16-year old who has been raised outside civilization in the forests of Virginia. Suzanne is a well-to-do mother who spends her days filling the needs of her teenage kids, her husband, and her various committees. On a day Suzanne decides to go off by herself for a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway, she spies Iris hunched up, starving, sick, and very alone. She rushes her to a hospital and proceeds, over the next few weeks, to become enmeshed in Iris' care and education, becoming more and more dissatisfied with her own life even as Iris, all the while yearning to return to the forest, finds certain aspects of suburban life somewhat appealing. Suzanne's family reacts rather poorly to the situation. This is especially true of her 15-year old daughter, a harpy in the throes of adolescent meltdown, and her husband, who doesn't understand what has happened to his perfect wife, who is letting Iris ruin their lives. Not to mention Suzanne's wealthy, controlling and critical parents.

Who is Iris, anyway? Will the police find her family? Will Suzanne ever be able to return to the life she now finds to be her prison? And will her own family relationships survive?

This was a really entertaining book with one extremely irritating problem: there are whole chapters told from the point of view of the daughter, a spoiled brat if ever there was one. Her texts, her complaints to friends, and her plans to sabotage her mother's relationship with Iris are detailed far too fully for my taste, and at one point I put the book away. But I found I really wanted to know what happened to Iris, so I started reading again, and I'm delighted I did. The ending is beautifully wrapped up and quite satisfying. All-in-all, I really do recommend this, but if you read it, just skim the daughter's sections once you've had enough.

(This is an Amazon Prime book for December, so if you have Prime, you can download it for free during the month.)

Dez. 26, 2018, 6:52pm

While reading the entire Norwegian William Wisting police series, I've interspersed a few other titles:

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll ***½

After watching the Royal Ballet's recent production (see photos below), I realized I was missing out on some of the subtleties because I'd never read the book. I have to say it was about as I'd expected: clever but disturbing. Not my cup of tea. The ballet, though, has some marvelous scenes, particularly:

The Mad Hatter's Tea Party (Principal Dancer Steven McCrae as the Hatter). Video at

And probably the best part, The Queen of Hearts (Principal Dancer Zenaida Yanowsky). Video at (if you know the ballet Sleeping Beauty you'll appreciate the very funny take on the Rose Adage)

Dez. 26, 2018, 8:37pm

And some failures:

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon

I started this but got only a few pages in. I guess I was looking for a serious treatment, which this isn't quite. I mean, the authors are serious about her, but the book seems more impressionistic than I wanted, so I think it'll be more satisfying to read the lengthier biography, Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Jane Sherron de Hart when I have the time.

The Christmas Scorpion: A Jack Reacher Story by Lee Child *

I love the Reacher series, but this short story was really stupid. If a child had written it, a child who had a decent beginning for a simple Reacher story and then lost interest but didn't know how to end it, and so just wrapped it up as quickly as follows and in the most obvious way, that would make sense. Don't waste your time.

Bearbeitet: Dez. 27, 2018, 7:15pm

And so, on to the wonderful William Wisting detective series, set in Norway and written by Jørn Lier Horst. Many thanks to Avaland for the series recommendation!

Dregs ***½

Closed for Winter ***

The Hunting Dogs ****

The Caveman ****½

Ordeal: A Mystery ****

When It Grows Dark ***½