torontoc's Books Read in 2009

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torontoc's Books Read in 2009

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1torontoc
Dez. 22, 2008, 8:19pm

Hello
I was part of the 75 Books Challenge for 2008. I read 110 ( maybe more by next week ) books and think that I will read about the same in 2009. I did sign up for the 2009 75 Books Challenge-but there are so many members! This group seems more manageable to read!
I read mainly fiction and history. Once I like what an author has written, I try to find more of her/his books.
See you in January.

2teelgee
Dez. 24, 2008, 1:27am

Fantastic, torontoc. This will separate the...100 book readers from the 75?

3torontoc
Dez. 24, 2008, 9:46am

Yes! This group seems more managable to follow for me.

4hemlokgang
Dez. 30, 2008, 7:02pm

Glad you are joining us, torontoc!

5torontoc
Jan. 1, 2009, 1:29pm

1. The Scream by Rohinton Mistry and illustrated by Tony Urquhart.
This is a very strange little book that was published to support World Literacy of Canada. The short story about an elderly man and his thoughts on his life and fears, is accompanied by illustrations by artist Tony Urquhart. ( for those interested, he is the husband of Canadian writer Jane Urquhart. The writing is excellent but the story is depressing

6Storeetllr
Jan. 1, 2009, 2:13pm

Congrats on finishing your first book of the new year on the first day of the new year!

7torontoc
Jan. 1, 2009, 7:34pm

Thanks, the book was more of a short story. I was curious about it and wanted to look at the illustrations as well.

8mrstreme
Jan. 1, 2009, 7:58pm

I am not brave enough to try for 100, but I look forward to reading your 2009 posts. I will be hanging out in the 75 book thread if you want to drop by for a visit! =)

9torontoc
Jan. 1, 2009, 8:11pm

I will ! I have found out about many new book titles to put on my wish list from LT readers!.

10TadAD
Jan. 4, 2009, 9:19am

>1 torontoc::

I did sign up for the 2009 75 Books Challenge-but there are so many members!

I can certainly understand that! Over 1400 posts this week over there. It's more daunting to read the group than to read the books.

I thought about moving groups. I don't really like "challenges" because I want to read what I want to read at the pace I want to read it, and not feel compelled to push—but I generally read 150-200 a year so it wouldn't really introduce any stress to bump up. But, in the end, so many old friends over there whose tastes I know that I decided to stay. If the volume doesn't decrease, however, I'll probably put half those threads on ignore.

Hopefully, you'll still stop by the 75ers.

11kiwidoc
Jan. 5, 2009, 3:14pm

TadAD - you could try the Club Read 2009? It has some very good readers and doesn't log books as a challenge of numbers.

12TadAD
Jan. 5, 2009, 4:32pm

I'll stick with 75ers for the moment. The challenge portion isn't a challenge for me, so I can ignore it, and I like so many people there.

13torontoc
Bearbeitet: Jan. 5, 2009, 6:12pm

2.Barnacle Love by Anthony De Sa. This first book is a series of related short stories about a Portuguese- Canadian family. The stories tell, in chronological order, about the father's arrival in Newfoundland as a fisherman, his connections to his family in the Azores and his later life in Toronto. The stories are well crafted and relate disappointment in life choices and the expectations placed on the son and daughter. The stories and the life of this family are very sad, It is a good book although some of the references might not work if you don't know Toronto

3. The Clothes on their Backs by Linda Grant. Linda Grant's story certainly deserved it's recognition by the Orange Award Longlist. A young woman, Vivien, relates the story of her life as a child of Hungarian Jews who came to England before World War Two. Her father rejected any relationship with his brother who was in labour camps in Hungary, came to England after 1956, and became an infamous landlord who was jailed for a time. Vivien has been raised without any sense or knowledge of her family history. After some very tragic events occur in her life after university, Vivien finds a way of connecting to her uncle. She wants to find out why her father and uncle don't talk and more. Vivien rebels against her parent 's hold on her life. She emerges stronger and able to determine how she will live. A well written book. I don't want to include any spoilers but there is one shocking incident that shows how her mother wants to shield her daughter from the uncertainty of life. Choices are made that really, in this case, release Vivien from forming a potentially important relationship. If anyone reads or has read this book , I wouldn't mind discussing the pros and cons of the choice.

14torontoc
Bearbeitet: Jan. 5, 2009, 11:21pm

4. Strapless: John Singer Sargent and the Fall of Madame X by Deborah Davis. This book narrates the history of the painter John Singer Sargent and his model for his infamous( for the time) portrait, Amelie Avegno Gautreau. The story of this portrait and the influence that it had on Sargent's career and Gautreau's life is related with clarity. However, the story itself is not enough to fill out a book. The fact is that the sitter did not do anything of value or interest after her time as a society leader was over. The artist did go on to paint many more portraits. The fact that many of the works described are not illustrated is a problem. Interesting book but not a heavyweight.

15amandameale
Jan. 6, 2009, 8:02am

Interesting books so far. Shall look forward to more.

16merry10
Jan. 7, 2009, 6:52am

Me too!

17torontoc
Jan. 8, 2009, 4:07pm

5. The View from Castle Rock by Alice Munro. I haven't read Alice Munro for a number of years. Her work is excellent. This group of stories are based on the history of Munro's ancestors, who came from Scotland in the early 19th century to Southwestern Ontario. You don't really know what is fact or fiction. The stories are written with such an accomplished technique and with interesting plots. I am so glad that I discovered Munro again. Definitely worth reading!

18dihiba
Jan. 8, 2009, 5:24pm

I too have moved over from the 75 Challenge. I just can't keep up - it's gotten very popular!
I read The View from Castle Rock in 08 and thought it was great. I hope to read another Alice Munro soon.

19torontoc
Jan. 8, 2009, 7:11pm

6. 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. I started this book last week and just finished it. I remember reading this book many years ago. This volume came with Hanff's second book The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street. Since they are both so brief, I consider them one book. 84 Charing Cross Road is the address of the book-seller in London, England that Hanff, a writer in New York City, communicates with in order to find various second hand books. The letters that she writes are so visual, the reader can easily see her personality. She writes to Frank Doel, who represents the bookstore. Eventually , Hanff corresponds with Frank's wife, and many more of the employees. The letters become more than just an order for books. Hanff sends food packages when England has rationing. The correspondance ends with a sad event. However, Hanff later,writes a book about the letters and is sent over to England on a publicity tour. Her description of her travels is the basis for the second book. You see her delight as she sees the places that matter to her-writer's memorials, burial places and haunts. Both books are fun and represent a different world than today. Recommended.

20jfetting
Jan. 8, 2009, 8:54pm

I loved 84 Charing Cross Road, and now I'm going to have to read The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street! She has such a fun voice, doesn't she? I think it would have been a lot of fun to be friends with her.

21dihiba
Jan. 9, 2009, 5:15pm

Both these books sound great - I thought they were fiction, but they sound like memoirs - am I right?

22torontoc
Jan. 9, 2009, 11:52pm

Yes! You can almost hear the voice of Hanff in both books.

23englishrose60
Jan. 10, 2009, 5:55am

Hanff ........2 more books on my wishlist.......

24torontoc
Jan. 10, 2009, 12:00pm

If you look up the Hanff book in my inventory- it had both books in one volume.

25englishrose60
Jan. 10, 2009, 4:20pm

torontoc I shall try to get that one thanks.

26torontoc
Jan. 11, 2009, 9:45am

7. The Girls by Lori Lansens. I cannot say enough about this book. In fact, the story becomes so intriguing as the book progresses. The chapters are narrated by either Rose or Ruby Darlen, co-joined twins ( or, as Rose writes, craniopagus). Rose begins the book as an autobiography. The reader make assumptions based on her narrative. Then, Ruby writes a number of chapters and a whole new dimension is added. The story is also about the twins' Aunt Lovey and Uncle Stash and the people of Leaford, Ontario. In fact, this book is about love, and the relationships of husband and wife, parent and children, and the bond of sisters. The characters that Lansens creates are memorable.This is a wonderful book.

27torontoc
Bearbeitet: Jan. 13, 2009, 2:57pm

8. Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje. I was not a happy reader with this book. I did like The English Patient and Anil's Ghost but I found this book to be a big disappointment. The author relates the stories of three people, Coop , Claire and Anna but then never really finishes them and goes off into a narration about a French writer with a slight connection to Anna. The most interesting stories are not told. This is not a good introduction to Ondaatje.

28torontoc
Jan. 14, 2009, 2:41pm

9. Property by Valerie Martin. This is an excellent book that was awarded the 2003 Orange Prize. The story is narrated by a woman , Manon Gaudet, who is married to a Louisiana plantation owner in 1828. She is not happy with her life as her husband has had a child with her servant, ( or slave) Sarah. The story of her life and what happens to her and to Sarah take the idea of property as it relates to marriage, and to the ownership of slaves. The book is economical in its narration and ends with a nice twist.

29torontoc
Jan. 15, 2009, 11:52am

10. Granta 82 Life's Like That. Granta is always an interesting read with memoirs, short stories and photographic essays

30torontoc
Jan. 22, 2009, 2:43pm

11. The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia by Orlando Figes. The author interviewed what seemed like hundreds of people ( he was also assisted by a team of interviewers in many Russian cities) and read many diaries and letters in public and private archives in Russia. Figes focussed on the time period of 1917 to 1956 and wrote about private family life under Stalin. Many of the stories relate the histories of innocent people sent off to labour camps. Figes interviewed the children of these people and told their stories of divided families and how they survived. In many cases, parents were shot. Figes explains how the the chilling atmosphere of the times created a generation that never trusted anyone and never revealed true opinions. This book is very well written and I would advise anyone who is reading Russian fiction to read this book as well

31torontoc
Jan. 25, 2009, 10:02am

12. The Final Solution: A Story of Detection by Michael Chabon. Michael Chabon is a master storyteller. This book is one that I wish I had heard via audio with a good reader/actor speaking. Chabon writes of a mute boy who only communicates with a large African parrot on his shoulder. The boy,a Jewish refugee, is living in a small English town during World War II. The story of a murder, a parrot kidnapping, and the solution by an elderly retired detective turned beekeeper, is told beautifully. I do think that in order understand the ending and mystery, the reader has to have a knowledge of the history of the Holocaust and British counter spy activities during World War II. ( or at least have seen some of the episodes of Foyle's War)

32Nickelini
Jan. 26, 2009, 6:39pm

Oh, this is where you went. Glad I caught up with you and your reading.

33torontoc
Bearbeitet: Jan. 26, 2009, 7:09pm

I am also on the 75 book group but this group is easier to navigate!

13. The Outlander by Gil Adamson. This exciting adventure story has suspense, great characters, and mysteries that are revealed slowly. A nineteen year old widow, who killed her husband, is being chased by her two brothers-in-law somewhere in the west of Canada in 1903. The reader really sees the travels and the people that the heroine, Mary Boulton, meets. The acts of kindness and interesting quirks of the characters who interact with Mary on her flight and the plot twists keep the reader enthralled to the end. This is a really great story. Highly recommended.

34torontoc
Jan. 30, 2009, 11:11am

14.Moonlight on The Avenue of Faith by Gina B. Nahai. I started this book and was not sure after the first few pages that I would like it as I have avoided many books labeled "magic realism" recently. But after a shaky beginning, Nahai's story about an Iranian Jewish family and their relations was very interesting. Her themes of bad choices , re-invention and redemption are illustrated with the very colourful adventures of three generations of women who live in Tehran, Istanbul and Los Angeles from 1938-1979. Nahai narrates her story with unique symbols and images that recall past myths and legends.

15. The Cobra's Heart (Great Journeys) by Ryszard Kapuscinski. Kapuscinski is one of my favourite travel writers. This slim volume is part of a series called Great Journeys from Penguin Books. the author writes of his experiences travelling as a journalist in various countries in Africa. Some of the areas he covers are Ghana in 1958 and Idi Amin's history. This book is a good introduction for readers who are going to explore African literature.

35citizenkelly
Jan. 31, 2009, 8:19am

Diese Nachricht wurde vom Autor gelöscht.

36torontoc
Feb. 1, 2009, 11:10am

Thank you! I have enjoyed your reviews as well!

37torontoc
Feb. 3, 2009, 11:27pm

16. Mr. Timothy by Louis Bayard. Bayard takes Tiny Tim of A Christmas Carol and imagines him grown up. Mr. Timothy is living in a brothel and giving reading lessons to the madam of the house. He has a difficult relationship with his Uncle N.( Scrooge ) and talks to his dead father throughout the book. The actual plot involves saving a young girl from a "fate worse than death", and the adventures of rescue. The story speeds up in the last third of the book and is a good adventure and mystery. I think that it is a good book to read although I wish that the writer's editor had suggested some tightening up of the prose in the first half of the book

38torontoc
Bearbeitet: Feb. 4, 2009, 11:34pm

17.Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. I am really happy when I encounter an author who writes excellent short stories. This collection of 13 stories that center on the life of the character Olive Kitteridge and the people who live in her small town of Maine is fabulous. The New York Times said that "Strout animates the ordinary with astonishing force." I agree. The stories are composed with what I call an economy of prose.The settings, the relationships and the truths learned by the reader and sometimes the characters are presented with clarity. Beautiful to read.

39judylou
Feb. 5, 2009, 10:51pm

Olive Kitteridge was a standout for me last year too!

40torontoc
Feb. 8, 2009, 1:53pm

18. Murder in Amajor (Murder in A-major) by Morley Torgov. This book is an amusing detective mystery involving some very famous musicians- Robert and Clara Schumann, Johannes Brahms, and Franz Liszt. The detective, Hermann Preiss solves a murder and an attempt to make one of the above characters go crazy. The book is a light look at mystery in 1840's Germany.

41mrstreme
Feb. 8, 2009, 3:37pm

I loved Olive Kitteridge! Glad you liked it too!

42torontoc
Bearbeitet: Feb. 10, 2009, 5:11pm

19. Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum. What can I say about this book? It is not badly written. In fact the author skillfully moves between the World War 11 story of how Anna survives in Germany by taking a Nazi lover(really being forced) and the 1997 story of her daughter in the US, Trudie, and her research into the wartime lives of German citizens. The reader learns the true story of Trudie and Anna.How it is revealed to mother and daughter takes the whole book.I felt after reading this book that others have told this story-of survival and accommodations that are made-much better. So, my advice- read all of the early Elie Wiesel books,( Night, The Gates of the Forest, The Town Beyond the Wall), Bernhard Schlink's The Reader,Irene Nemirovsky's Suite Francaise Rachel Seiffert's The Dark Room,and many good graphic novels- Art Spiegleman's Maus-both 1 and 2, and Miriam Katin's We are on Our Own. There is so much being written on the Holocaust-memoirs, diaries, histories and fiction. There are many good books out to read and my recommendation is to concentrate on them.

43kiwidoc
Feb. 10, 2009, 5:25pm

...and of course don't forget Primo Levi....

44torontoc
Feb. 10, 2009, 5:35pm

Yes! Thanks!The Periodic Table was a really good book.

45torontoc
Feb. 14, 2009, 8:53am

20. Through the Children's Gate: A Home in New York by Adam Gopnik. This book of essays on life in New York in 2000 and later is about family and the author's impressions about the city. Gopnik and his family had previously spent five years living in Paris.( chronicled in the book Paris to the Moon )I liked most of the work although the first essay did seem to be a little convoluted. My favourite essays were "The Last of the Metrozoids" -about the late great art historian, Kirk Varnedoe, and 'A Purim Story'-about humour and history. A nice book to read about contemporary society in New York City.

46torontoc
Feb. 15, 2009, 12:44pm

21. Granta 100. Wonderful stories-fiction, travel, memoirs, poetry, and photographic essays in this 100th issue of Granta. It is always worth reading. One notable story was an excerpt of the book by Jayne Anne Phillips- Lark and Termite.

47torontoc
Feb. 17, 2009, 9:35pm

22. The Famished Road by Ben Okri. I have mixed feelings about this book. I found the idea of a little boy and his family living in a small African village, and the boy's encounters with the spirit world intriguing. However, the actual story was a little repetitious. The vivid images of the spirit world and the behaviour of the boy were well written but I found the ending too abrupt.

48torontoc
Bearbeitet: Feb. 25, 2009, 11:48pm

23. The Last Templar by Michael Jecks. This mystery series was sort of interesting- what I mean is that I already have a number of other mystery series that I like better and do follow. This one,about a Templar knight order who is starting a new life in England after most of his order was destroyed, has some good plot lines. I might come back to this author after I read other authors.

24. Fabulous Small Jews:Stories by Joseph Epstein. I don't think that I would have read this book 25 years ago. A good friend recommended this book and I am glad that I read it now. The author writes stories about men from the Chicago area and their tangled relationships with families and friends. Many of the characters grew up at the end of World War II and the 1950's. I recognized the attitudes, memories and regrets of lives lived because I knew people of that generation ( older than me -but not by much ). Epstein writes well and uses the short story format to craft very good situations.

25. The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman. This book relates the true story of the family of the Zookeeper of Warsaw and their survival during World War. II. Jan and Antonina Zabinski saved the lives of many people who they hid on the zoo property. Jan was also actively involved in the resistance. The story is well told by Ackerman. She writes of the comparsons of human and animal behaviour and how Antonina used this knowledge to save many lives.

26. Ghostwritten by David Mitchell. This is the first book by Mitchell.( I loved his Cloud Atlas and Black Swan Green.) The stories of nine characters from around the world are told and then linked in unlikely ways. The writing is first rate. The end does dip into a science fiction scenario but it does work.

Nothing like a long trip and airplanes for reading!

49torontoc
Bearbeitet: Feb. 27, 2009, 9:57am

27. Frida's Bed by Slavenko Drakulic. This is a fictional version of the life of the painter Frida Kahlo. This slim volume moved from narratives in the voice of the artist to a second person one back and forth in a way that was occasionally distracting. This work did give the reader a good sense of the mind and thoughts of the artist. I had previously read the very good biography of Kahlo by Hayden Herrera and this book is a good companion piece to read as well. The one area of difference is Drakulic's account of Kahlo's death. Herrera presents all opinions while Drakulic writes that Kahlo did commit suicide.

50torontoc
Mrz. 1, 2009, 9:58am

28. Fine Just The Way It Is-Wyoming Stories 3 by Annie Proulx. I usually like Proulx's work. This book is well written but it certainly was a hard read! There were too many awful lives, maiming of body parts animal and human, slow deaths, and no redemption in almost all of the stories. Life is tough in Wyoming Stories 3. I am not sure what I will read next. If you are in a depressed mood- avoid this book. I liked her earlier short stories much better.

51torontoc
Bearbeitet: Mrz. 12, 2009, 10:51am

29.Dangerous Laughter: 13 Stories by Steven Milhauser. Excellent short stories on some unusual topics- disappearing people, 19th century inventions, and some obsessive characters. I didn't like Milhauser's Martin Dressler but these short stories have convinced me to search out his earlier books.
30. Charlemagne's Tablecloth: A Piquant History of Feasting by Nichola Fletcher. This book covers the history of feasting. Fletcher writes with clarity about the social history behind feasts and covers a wide variety from the Japanese tea ceremony to cannibal meals, and Renaissance extravanganzas. A good read.
31. The Bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andric I never knew much about the history of the Balkans. This book, about the history of the bridge in Bosnia, covers the buildng, and finally, the destruction. The author used the stories of many characters through out centuries to give the reader a sense of the problems and issues faced by the people of Bosnia.

52torontoc
Mrz. 12, 2009, 10:51am

I read two mysteries in the past week. I liked both- for different reasons.
32. Farthing by Jo Walton. Thank you LT readers for talking about this book. I really liked the structure and plot of this murder mystery set in an alternate history of England and World War II. In this story, England had made peace with Hitler just after 1941. The murder of one of the "Farthing Set"- a group of politicians and wealthy people who led this initiative- is told in alternate chapters by the Scotland inspector and the daughter of one of the leaders of the Farthing Set-Lucy Kahn. Lucy, however, is married to a Jewish man and this fact has something to do with the plot and the reason for the murder. Excellent story. I will be reading the next two books in this series.

33. The Serpent's Tale by Ariana Franklin. This historical murder mystery is set during the reign of Henry I in England. It is the second in a series featuring an unusual character- Adelia Aguilar- a medieval doctor from Salerno with a speciality in postmortem investigation. In the first book of the series-Mistress of the Art of Death -Adelia's story was introduced. The plot of this second book has Adelia looking into the poisoning of the King's mistress, Rosamund Clifford. I liked this book better than the first- the ending was better and the weaving of historical facts into fiction was more interesting.

53torontoc
Mrz. 14, 2009, 12:32pm


34. Elements of Style by Wendy Wasserstein. I wanted to take some time in March to read some authors who should not be forgotten. Wendy Wasserstein wrote some exceptional plays about women that I had seen many years ago. She died at the age of 55 from cancer. Unfortunately, this novel is remarkably dated in light of our present times. The characters are all very rich and live to excess in New York City after 2001. There is one "good" character. Although this book is supposed to be a satire, the concerns and plot turns are really not very interesting to me compared to some of the other stories that I have read. *Sigh* On to the next book.

54torontoc
Bearbeitet: Mrz. 15, 2009, 11:16am

35. I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak. This is a really good book by the author of The Book Thief. It has been called YA although I think that the language and actions are more for "older" young adults- not young teenagers. The story of a young man and the mysteries that he has to solve are accompanied by very strong lessons on achieving respect and "repairing the world". It is engrossing and I would recommend it to readers of all ages.

55mrstreme
Mrz. 15, 2009, 7:50am

I loved I am the Messenger - not as good as The Book Thief but very engaging - and I loved Ed's character and how he came up with solutions to people's problem, especially buying ice cream for that mom! =)

56torontoc
Mrz. 15, 2009, 11:17am

Yes, that part of the book was lovely!

36. Granta 93:God's Own Countries. Another really interesting issue of Granta on the theme of religious belief.There are memoirs. fiction and photographs as well as brief essays on the varieties of religious experience by twelve writers. My favourite short story is by Karen Russell on "St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves".

57torontoc
Mrz. 18, 2009, 3:52pm

37. Klezmer: Book One: Tales of the Wild East by Joann Sfar. This graphic novel is very irreverent and provides an interesting change from Sfar's work on Algeria in the 1930's-The Rabbi's Cat. The artist has a very unsentimental point of view of life in Eastern Europe. He also writes some interesting commentary on his ideas at the back of the book.

58torontoc
Bearbeitet: Mrz. 21, 2009, 10:48am

38. Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France by Leoni Frieda. A LT reader posted comments on this book and I was interested. The author takes the very complicated life of Catherine and sets out all the twists and turns of the many plots and people in the French court. It is a good biography although every once and a while Frieda's sentences need simplifying. There are too many characters with the same names and you may have to reread a bit to see which person Frieda is talking about. All and all, this book is a good reference to the complicated religious wars and conflicts in Renaissance France.

59torontoc
Mrz. 24, 2009, 6:02pm

39. Mutiny on the Bounty by John Boyne. This was an Early Reviewers book. I really liked the author's style and point of view. Unlike many interpretations of this famous story, Boyne shows the Captain to be a humane man not a tyrant. The cabin boy or servant of the captain, narrates the story of the voyage to Tahiti, the mutiny and then the perilous trip by small boat to the nearest colony. The one fault would be the much too long beginning and story of how the boy, John Turnstile, happens to be on the Bounty. A good read.

60torontoc
Mrz. 29, 2009, 9:17pm

40. New Orleans, Mon Amour. Twenty Years of Writings from the City by Andrei Codrescu. This is a wonderful book to read. I started it at my brother's house in Dec. and continued when I got my own copy. Codrescu writes short pieces on all aspects of living in New Orleans. There are two passages on the city after Katrina but most of all, Codrescu celebrates the history and life in a very unique city. I am recommending this book to my friends.

61laytonwoman3rd
Apr. 1, 2009, 3:07pm

The Codrescu is one of my favorite collections of writings about the Crescent City I loved long ago. He's brilliant, isn't he? I revisit selections from that book regularly.

62torontoc
Apr. 1, 2009, 11:08pm

I agree- I see myself rereading the book in the future. I like that fact that I can pick it up and read a few passages and put it down.

63torontoc
Apr. 13, 2009, 12:54pm

41. Ha'Penny by Jo Walton. This book is the second of three mysteries that are set in an alternate England that made peace with Hitler in 1941. An actress and a navy officer have been killed when the bomb that they were making exploded. Inspector Carmichael sets out to find out more about the circumstances of this failed plot. The alternate chapters ( like the first book) are narrated by another actress who is forced to take part in the plot to kill Hitler as he watches a play. The book is as good as the first and I will be reading the third in the series.

42. The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton. I was curious about this book when many LT readers praised it. I have mixed feelings about it. The author has written an interesting story about a number of people who live in a remote village in Kenya. They are visited by the camel bookmobile and an American librarian. The plot is driven by the problems of a number of the characters , who each narrate their own chapters. The struggle between traditional and modernization is just one of the aspects of the story. I feel that the writing is more on a YA level ( and I will be recommending this book to one of my friend's nieces ). I guess that I wanted a more complex writing style and plot. ( that ends in an unsatisfactory way for me )

64torontoc
Apr. 14, 2009, 9:37pm

43. What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist-the Facts of Everyday Life in 19th-Century England by Daniel Pool. This book is a reread but I had to consult it after watching one episode of Little Dorrit. The author has compiled an enormous amount of information on society of the 19th century. Anyone who is reading Jane Austen, Charles Dickens or Elizabeth Gaskell will find this book an excellent source on everything 19th century. The glossary does tend to be a little too smug some times.

44. The Girl on the Fridge: Stories by Etgar Keret. This is the second book that I have read by Keret. The same quality of work is evident in this collection. He is quirky, outrageous, surreal, angry and packs a punch with his very brief stories.

45. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque. I can see why this book is a classic. The story and prose are outstanding. I wonder why I haven't read it until now. Thank you to the group Project 1929 for highlighting authors published in the year 1929.

65torontoc
Bearbeitet: Apr. 17, 2009, 12:08am

46. Flights of Love by Bernhard Schlink This book of short stories by the author of The Reader is excellent! I was blown away by the range of the stories. Schlink has written about the pain of love lost and generosity( The Other Man),the tension of friendship and betrayal in the former East and West Germany( A Little Fling), and the disconnect of German and Jewish backgrounds that destroys a relationship (The Circumcision)-actually more but do read the story. The last two stories are not as fine as the rest. I was moved by the language and ideas ( a good translation as well by John E.Woods) and am resolved to reread The Reader.

47. The Crepes of Wrath by Tamar Myers. I was looking for a mystery. What I got was a very chatty story with too many characters, recipes dispersed throughout the book and a heroine who keeps a small kitten in her bra! I might try the crepe recipes but I will take a pass on this series. The author gives the reader too much information that detracts from the story but maybe that is the problem. There really isn't much of a story. The information on Amish and Mennonite lifestyles is interesting. The frantic comic tone is much too forced.

66rainpebble
Apr. 17, 2009, 6:53am

Hmmmmmmmm; a heroine who keeps a small kitten in her bra? Sounds like g'ma in the "Stephanie Plum" series.
You have some interesting titles in your reading list and are doing very well with your challenge.
Great job.

67torontoc
Bearbeitet: Apr. 20, 2009, 12:21pm

48. The Gathering by Anne Enright. This book about a woman and her narration about her family history as she buries her brother ( who has committed suicide) is excellent. Enright's use of language is well chosen although she is writing about child abuse and maybe lost memories. The Irish family of the narrator figures into the plot that weaves past and present into a tense story. The main character has been clearly damaged by her past and we learn slowly about the person who harmed the brother and perhaps her as well.

49. The Mayor's Tongue by Nathaniel Rich. I don't know what to think about this book. The two stories really don't come together in my mind. A young man is admirer of an author who might be dead. An old man has a strong friendship with a wartime friend-this relationship seems to be more important than that with his wife. All the parties to this story end up in the area of Trieste, Italy. At this point the story becomes more magic realist although that part is more problematic for me. The good part is that I did want to find what happens to all the characters as I read. The bad part- I didn't like the resolution to this novel.

68torontoc
Apr. 21, 2009, 12:09pm

50. Granta 75 Brief Encounters. I am going through my collection of Granta magazines. This one has some nice stories by Anne Enright, Paul Theroux and John McGahern. I also liked the memoirs by Norman Lewis and Michael Mewshaw.

69torontoc
Apr. 23, 2009, 6:17pm

51. Are You Somebody? The Accidental Memoir of a Dublin Woman by Nuala O'Faolain. Oh my gosh -the suffering! This very good and honest memoir seems to have a lot in common with the family ( except for the sexual abuse ) of The Gathering. Certainly the author traces her upbringing and the damage her parents and that 1950's society inflicted on her sense of self. I seem to read in themes and this book provided another side of life in Ireland and England in the second half of the twentieth century. The one fault is that the author moves from one time period to another and back a number of times.

70judylou
Apr. 25, 2009, 3:39am

torontoc, I am pleased to see your comments on Flights of Love. I have it on my tower and hadn't really heard much about it. I will have to move it up closer to the top now.

71torontoc
Bearbeitet: Apr. 28, 2009, 5:12pm

52. Annie's Ghosts:A Journey Into a Family Secret by Steve Luxenberg This is an ER book that I received through LT. The author finds out that his mother had a sister who she never talked about. In fact, Luxenberg thought that his mother was an only child. This book is about his search and investigation into the existence of his aunt , Annie Cohen. Annie was put into a mental health institution in 1940. Luxenberg realizes that he does not have any photos or papers from his mother's family that dates before that time. He interviews relatives, friends, and conducts research into the history not only of his aunt's life but that of the mental health facilities in Michigan. This book was very interesting and well written, as the author tries to unravel the mysteries of his parent's lives and that of others. Highly recommended.

72laytonwoman3rd
Apr. 28, 2009, 1:23pm

I received that ER title, too, torontoc. It's near the top of my "READ ME NEXT" pile, so I'm glad to hear you thought it was worthwhile.

73torontoc
Apr. 28, 2009, 5:11pm

53. The Outcast by Sadie Jones. This first novel packs quite a punch. Jones has created quite a disfunctional set of families that live in a small town with commuting distance of London, England in the just after World War II and the fifties. Lewis is the child, and later a young man, who has a terrible fate thrust upon him. He witnesses a horrible event when he is a young boy. Later he commits a specific crime that seems to be related to his treatment by his parents and family friends. The other family that is directly connected in the story has their own set of secrets. The writing is excellent and there is a sort of redemption

74torontoc
Bearbeitet: Mai 6, 2009, 9:48am

54. A Scandalous Life: The Biography of Jane Digby by Mary S. Lovell. This biography of the adventures of Jane Digby is really interesting. This woman, born at the beginning of the 19th century, lived in England, Germany, Greece and ended the last twenty years of her life as the wife of a sheik-twenty years her junior- in Damascus. Jane Digby always followed her heart( sounds like a dime store novel but true! ) as she left one husband or lover for another, had six children by different fathers and left a country because she was not longer welcome there. The author has worked from Jane's diaries, and letters. After all the scandal, Jane Digby's life in the Middle East was considered honourable for her good works. A good read for those who like biography.

75torontoc
Mai 6, 2009, 9:46am

55. The Whiskey Rebels by David Liss. I love a good historical fiction adventure. This book by Liss is exactly that- lots of interesting plot twists and good characters in this story of 1790's United States. Liss alternates between two narrators until their stories connect. However, as much as I liked the writing and the characters, I was disappointed by the ending. Liss only gives the reader the story of one of the characters. I get the impression that the others are going to turn up in another novel.

76torontoc
Bearbeitet: Mai 9, 2009, 3:55pm

56. Land of Marvels by Barry Unsworth. Unsworth is one of my favourite authors. His subjects range from mediaeval to, in this book, 1914 Mesopotamia. The story centers on an English archaeologist who is excavating an area in hopes of finding Assyrian ruins. His group is joined by an American geologist who is writing a report on oil for three different countries. The plot has a number of strands that cover the plots of various governments who plan to divide up the region. Coverups, multiple loyalities and the role of commerce and politics compete with the discovery of a truly significant find for ancient history. In a way, the story lays the ground work for the many different groups who use modern Iraq for their own concerns. A very good book.

77torontoc
Mai 10, 2009, 11:13am

57. Lucia In The Age of Napoleon by Andrea Di Robilant. This is a well-written biography of Lucia Mocenigo, the author's great-great-great-great grandmother. Lucia was married to a member of one of the most notable Venetian families. However, she lived through the turbulent times of Napoleonic era when Venice was trade back and forth to France and Austria. Lucia lived in Vienna, became a lady in waiting to the royal family in Milan, studied botany in Paris and managed the family business in farming in Austria and Italy. She was a little infamous as the poet Byron's landlady in Venice. Di Robilant relates her story with much sympathy for her long absences from her husband and beloved sister. The author is working from letters and diaries so the material is fresh and detailed. I do recommend this book for those who love biographies.

58. At a Loss for Words by Diane Schoemperlen. This brief story is the telling of the main character's ( an author ) meeting and long distance relationship with the man who had ended their relationship 30 years ago.She meets him at a book signing, and they embark on an e-mail correspondence. They see each other occasionally in a hotel when the author is on book signing trips. The book is a working out of her relationship or as she realizes a non-relationship with this man. Very interesting although the author does look a little obsessive and the man afraid to commit.

78torontoc
Mai 15, 2009, 12:22pm


59. Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before by Tony Horwitz. The author traces the three voyages of Captain Cook with really interesting information from Cook's journals and other sources. He also travels throughout the Pacific, Australia, Alaska and England to look for any more information on Cook. Horwitz takes a very colourful friend of his along on his travels who provides a down to earth counterpoint on their discoveries. In a way. Horwitz looks for the good and bad on the effects of Cook's discoveries. He talks to the people who think that Cook and his men were responsible for the destruction of many island people and their society. Horwitz wonders why Cook is not given more acclaim for his accomplishments in mapping the Pacific area. I found that the beginning was not as interesting as the rest of the book. I did persevere and appreciated the work and research.

79torontoc
Mai 16, 2009, 3:26pm

60. Dictation by Cynthia Ozick. I just got this book as I have been waiting for it to come out in paperback. I was not disappointed. Ozick's prose is masterfull in the first of the four short stories that make up this book. Dictation is the best of the four. The story of the two secretaries of Joseph Conrad and Henry James is amusing and sly. The other three are good and heartbreaking as the author probes the lives of an old actor in New York, a confused critic in Mussolini's Italy and a young woman and her very unusual family in New York.

61. The Merchant's Partner by Michael Jecks. This detective story set in 1300's England is good but not especially outstanding. I decided to follow the series and the story of murder and the motives are believable.

80torontoc
Mai 18, 2009, 11:19am


62. The Forgery of Venus by Michael Gruber.This is a well written semi-mystery about forgery, maybe time travel and art-especially Velasquez. Gruber creates a not so successful American artist who gets involved with a drug study that seems to take him back in time so he becomes the artist Velasquez. The plot becomes a little complicated as the artist is engaged by a dealer in forgeries ( also the son of a Nazi who stole art that was never recovered) to create a lost painting by Velasquez. I read this book vey fast and enjoyed it for what it was. I also appreciated the conversations on art history-which were very good.

81Nickelini
Mai 18, 2009, 1:27pm

The Forgery of Venus has been on my TBR-list for a while, and I'll certainly look out for it now that I've read your interesting review.

82torontoc
Bearbeitet: Mai 19, 2009, 1:10pm

I like to look out for books that have art history in the plot and this book treated art and artists very well!

63. Chess by Stefan Zweig. I have to thank both kiwidoc and christiguc for both writing about Stefan Zweig. I read this very brief novella and it is very powerfull. On the surface , the story is about a series of chess matches aboard a ship travelling from New York to Argentina some time during or just before World War II. The story of one of the characters becomes a study of defiance in the face of terror.
Wonderfully written.

64. The House at Riverton by Kate Morton. Sigh-sometimes I think that the order of books read may have something to do with the amount of appreciation. If I had been on a plane, this book would have been perfect. But I wasn't- I had just finished reading a superb short story. This book or saga of an "upstairs-downstairs" house and family in England from 1914-1924 with a 1999 narrative was interesting but in the end not as satisfying as some of my previous books read. Morton writes a good story. I can see why a lot of people like this book.I did too, but just not as much as others.

83torontoc
Mai 20, 2009, 9:12pm

65. The Darkness of Wallis Simpson by Rose Tremain.This is a book of short stories and mmm- that first story is terrific! Tremain imagines an invalid Wallis Simpson. trying to remember who she is, her past husbands, names and events. She is at the mercy of her French lawyer who is portrayed as a controlling monster actually. The rest of the stories are good but really pale in comparison to the first

84amandameale
Mai 21, 2009, 9:13am

I like your reviews very much. You've given good reviews to some of my favourites so I've noted down some others that you recommend.
You've been very busy!

85laytonwoman3rd
Mai 21, 2009, 12:21pm

I'm intrigued by The Darkness of Wallis Simpson. One of these days I will get around to Rose Tremain, whose name pops up on so many threads.

86rainpebble
Bearbeitet: Mai 21, 2009, 1:57pm

I, also was fascinated by what you wrote of The Darkness of Wallis Simpson, but am unfamiliar with the work of Rose Tremain. I toggled over to her works and found a great deal of historical fiction there that I think might be of great interest to me as well. So I thank you for that tidbit especially as it led to others.
I did however, see the movie that was made of Restoration and Robert Downey Jr played the part of the doggie caretaker and was so over the top it made the movie!~! It was a hoot and I enjoyed it tremendously.
belva

87torontoc
Mai 21, 2009, 5:00pm

Thank you, Amanda- I have been happy with my book selection this year.
Rose Tremain is a writer who I have read before- I liked Music and Silence and I have her latest book in my book pile.
I also saw Restoration- the sets and costumes were amazing!

88torontoc
Mai 24, 2009, 11:52pm

66. Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith. This book has a serial killer, a mystery involving the search and an adventurous journey taken by the hero, security Leo Demidov and his wife Raissa. There are plenty of twists in this fast moving story set in 1950's Soviet Russia. I enjoyed it although the details are quite grisly and look forward to the next novel in this new series. The Secret Speech.

89torontoc
Mai 28, 2009, 4:17pm

67. The Things That Matter-What Seven Classic Novels Have to Say About the Stages of Life by Edward Mendelson. I was intrigued by the title of this book as well as the list of novels to be discussed-Frankenstein,Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Middlemarch, Mrs Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, and Between the Acts. Having read three of the books, I wanted to see how Mendelson's theory worked. I found this book really interesting and revealing. The ideas certainly enriched my understanding of the novels that I had read. I now look forward to reading the other four novels.

90rainpebble
Mai 28, 2009, 7:07pm

This sounds to be a fascinating read. I think I may have to purchase it as opposed to the library loan.
Thanx,

91Nickelini
Mai 28, 2009, 11:48pm

Cyrel--thanks for showing us The Things that Matter. I've read the first five of those books, and own the other two, so this is obviously a must read for me. On to the list it goes . . .

92torontoc
Mai 29, 2009, 10:14am

I found The Things that Matter in a new bookstore in Toronto. It was one of those comfortable spaces with lots of open displays of a good variety of books. Have to go back!

93torontoc
Bearbeitet: Mai 30, 2009, 9:36am

68. The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff. I suppose that I should have saved this book ( was the first novel winner in the Orange Prize) for Mrstreme's Orange July read but I wanted to read it now. This story of Willie Upton's quest to find out who her father is and her discovery of interesting past events in her family tree is the basis of Groff's story. However, the book is about relationships,and monsters -real and other- and the magical town of Templeton, New York.The characters are quirky and likable. Highly recommended

94torontoc
Mai 31, 2009, 10:41am

69. Kafka's Soup-A Complete History of World Literature in 14 Recipes by Mark Crick. This cookbook is really cute. The author presents recipes written and illustrated in the style of Jane Austen, Raymond Chandler, Virginia Woof, Harold Pinter and more. I can't say anything about the actual recipes but I might try Austen's Tarragon Eggs tonight.

70. Fax Me a Bagel by Sharon Kahn. This is the first in a series of mysteries featuring Ruby Rothman, a rabbi's widow living in Texas. The storyline is thin , the mystery not very well developed but good characters established for the next book. A very light read.

95torontoc
Jun. 1, 2009, 10:49am

71. Giving Up America by Pearl Abraham. This novel, about the growing apart of a young couple in New York City, is the third one by Abraham that I have read. The author's background figures in the creation of her characters. Pearl Abraham was raised in a Hasidic (very Orthadox Jewish) family and her first novel describes that life. All the books have a lingering end as we don't know what the protangonist will decide to do. In this novel, Abraham leads the reader through a very slow and painful story as the young woman -born into a Hasidic family but leading a very secular life in her marriage-makes choices that change her life. Her husband has an affair of sorts ( we are not sure about all the details ) and their deteriorating relationship forms the heart of the story. It is a story of indecision. Well written but the book leaves the reader in suspense. We are not sure of the next moves by the lead character. I am glad that I read it but I preferred the other two novels by Abraham.

96kiwidoc
Jun. 1, 2009, 11:09am

#89 - Oh.....I love books about books. The Things That Matter-What Seven Classic Novels Have to Say About the Stages of Life just flew into my internet basket. I recently bought John Gardnerand his On Writers and Writing and also Beowulf on the Beach, which looks fun.

#88 Do you think that Child 44 is too grisly for my 15 year old boy - who says he loves grisly!? (I wish I was a better parent, *sigh*)

97torontoc
Jun. 2, 2009, 10:38am

Hmm- I don't know whether Child 44 would be too grisly- it all depends on what else he has been reading to check the grisly rate.My advice- have him start reading and report back to you whether it is too grisly or not . Great word!

98torontoc
Jun. 4, 2009, 9:57am

72. The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt. This book is full of gossip and stories about Venice. It centres on the fire that destroyed the Fenice Opera House and goes on to chronicle the lives of several families, a poet, the tangled tale of the papers of Ezra Pound, and more. Lots of fun to read and get a sense of the politics in the city of Venice.

99torontoc
Jun. 6, 2009, 10:13am

73. The Disappearing Duke: The Improbable Tale of an Eccentric English Family by Tom Freeman-Keel and Andrew Crofts. I do like to read about scandals. This story is about the apparent connection between a twice married man who owns a department store in London and the Duke of Portland. Are they the same person? Who murdered the Duke's brother? Do the relations of Thomas Druce have a claim to the title and money of the sixth Duke of Portland? The authors tell the stories of both families, the trials and the outcome. Of course, today ( the events took place in the early 1900's and before) we would have the benefit of DNA tests to prove any truth to this story. The book really doesn't clear up all the mysteries, unfortunately. However it is an entertaining read.

100torontoc
Jun. 7, 2009, 10:51am


74. The Little Girls by Elizabeth Bowen. I was looking forward to reading this book after I read about Bowen. I can't deny that she is a superb writer. Her descriptions of setting and people are so interesting and we really don't see that kind of writing anymore. And that is the problem for me-I found the attitudes and characters very dated. A woman in her sixties decides to find the two other friends who she last saw when she was eleven years old. The three girls had buried a time capsule in the grounds of their school. This story is about the meetings in the present and the past recounting of their lives in school. There are elements of relationships seen through the eyes of young girls, so the reader has a not too clear idea of things that may have happened. I liked the book and didn't like some of the characters.I thought more often that the book represented the attitudes of life in England in the 1950's.

75. The Tent by Margaret Atwood This is a very clever, slim book with very short stories, drawings and what I would call brief essays by the author. If I was to describe this book in relation to Atwood's other work, I would have to compare it to an "amuse-bouche" in a very fancy restaurant. This is a very small taste of what is to come. The takes on updated myths, concerns for ecology, and various afterlives are sharply etched. If anyone wants to read Margaret Atwood for the first time-don't start with this book-look for her wonderful novels first.

101judylou
Jun. 8, 2009, 5:50am

Yes, yes, yes Torontoc, I so agree with you about The Tent. I think it was my first ever Atwood and I didn't appreciate it at all. I should reread it and see if my opinion has changed.

102rainpebble
Jun. 8, 2009, 5:26pm

Any day now I should be receiving my ordered copy of The Things That Matter: What Seven Classic Novels Have to Say About the Stages of Life. I am really hoping that I have finished "Z" by the time it arrives so I can dive right in. I am so excited!~!
Thanx greatly for that rec!~!
belva

103torontoc
Bearbeitet: Jun. 9, 2009, 1:41pm

76. Our Hearts Were Young and Gay by Cornelia Otis Skinner and Emily Kimbrough. I can't tell you how long ago I read this book. My old copy disappeared and I just found this reprint. This story of two young women making their big trip to England and France in the 1920's is still touching and laugh aloud funny. I recommend this story, told in a refreshingly candid manner by Otis and Kimbrough.

belva, I would like to know what you think of The Things That Matter . I found the material on Wuthering Heights enlightening.

104dihiba
Jun. 9, 2009, 12:25pm

#103 - Egad, I read this book years ago too - probably 35-40 years ago, when I was a teen.
Yikes! I should read it again, too.
Another one I liked when I was about 13 or 14 was Cheaper by the Dozen.

105rainpebble
Jun. 9, 2009, 6:29pm

re: "belva, I would like to know what you think of The Things That Matter. I found the material on Wuthering Heights enlightening."

I will definitely let you what I think when it arrives and I get into it. I should be finished with "Z" tonight so I will be ready for it when it does arrive.
belva

106rainpebble
Jun. 9, 2009, 6:35pm

And dihiba;
same here. I loved Cheaper by the Dozen and read it over and over again when I was about 8 or 9. And when the movie came out--how perfect for the lead was Clifton Webb?
I was thinking the other day of all the books I read when I was in the second grade. My teacher would allow me to go over to the Jr. High library to check out books and it was just heaven to me.
I feel like revving up the old voice box and singing "Memories".

107dihiba
Jun. 9, 2009, 9:34pm

My reading material was limited when I was a kid - grew up in Quebec (English speaker) - the English language school was small - thank God McGill University had a bookmobile - did I love that! However, I'd read all my allocated books within a few days and have to wait a couple of months for it to return.
No wonder I horde books now!

108torontoc
Jun. 12, 2009, 10:29am

77. Hotel Savoy by Joseph Roth. This brief novella is about the inhabitants of a hotel in a small town in Eastern Europe sometime between the two world wars. The narrator has just come back from a prisoner of war camp in Russia. He has a relative in the town and hopes to get some money from him and continue his traves. The story is about the people he meets- the successful tycoon from America, the revolutionary, the poor dancer,and more. I found this story of the rich and poor interesting although not as good as the Stefan Zweig book that I read last month. So it is good but I am making comparisons with other similar stories and find this one not as touching. I will have to read Roth's The Radetsky March this year.

109torontoc
Jun. 15, 2009, 10:06am

78. Evangelista's Fan by Rose Tremain. I was not happy about this book of short stories written in 1994 by Tremain. Her other books are better. The characters were interesting but the resolutions of each story left much to be desired. Oh, well.

110torontoc
Jun. 19, 2009, 3:07pm

79. The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood. I reread this novel for a second time. It is such a good book. Atwood describes the 1970's and 80's with accurate depictions of the times and ideas as she tells the story of four women. We hear about Zenia through the stories of Tony, Roz and Charis. Each woman has a different run-in with Zenia that ends with husbands and boyfriends enticed away and money lost. Zenia is supposed to be dead but she turns up years later. Each woman has a story that is different and really interesting. I highly recommend this book.

111torontoc
Jun. 21, 2009, 11:28pm

80. The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. I have to use the word "delightful" in describing this brief novel. The Queen of England discovers the pleasure of reading and it changes her life. This is a comedy, maybe a tragedy, and most certainly a satire on the expectations of life.

112judylou
Jun. 22, 2009, 5:11am

Oh yes, wasn't it brilliant (#80).

113torontoc
Jun. 23, 2009, 11:29pm

81. The Spies of Warsaw by Alan Furst. This book is the latest in Furst's series on World War II. The main character is a French military attache in Warsaw in 1937-8. The reader follows him as he conducts surveillance both dangerous and mundane. It is interesting that Furst also shows French government's lack of acknowledgement of the German intent.This is a very well written book with interesting characters. The cafe in Paris that plays a part in all Furst's books is used here as well.

114torontoc
Jun. 25, 2009, 10:51pm

82. Homecoming by Bernhard Schlink. I found this novel fascinating for the ideas and allusions as well as a good story. The main character, Peter Debauer, seems to drift through a good part of his life but he does have an interesting past. He lives with his mother in Germany- he has been told that his father was Swiss, in the Red Cross and killed in World War II. Peter spends his summers in Switzerland with his father's parents. They live in an isolated village and seem to be editing novels. Peter is told never to read them, although they give him paper to use with part of the stories on the backside. When he is older, Peter does read the scraps and sets out to find out who the author was and whether parts of the story are true. This journey leads him to an important relationship in his life, some surprising news about his father, and a search that seems to mirror that of Odysseus. Schlink writes about the nature of evil and justice in the course of the events in this novel. I really liked this book and wonder why I didn't like The Reader when I read it a few years ago. I will have to reread it.

115torontoc
Bearbeitet: Jun. 28, 2009, 12:01pm

The next two book that I have read are as different as night and day-sounds like a cliche but it is true.
83. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. This book was so much fun to read. My edition has wonderful illustrations on the covers by Roz Chast and a good introduction by Lynne Truss.The heroine of the novel, Flora, has a matter of fact attitude about her unusual relatives and their farm. She has set herself the task of fixing up their lives and setting their priorities straight. The descriptions and the situations are a parody of bad novels and I was giggling as I read. Of course everything turns out well and Flora has her own nice ending. ( spoiler)

84. Nazi Literature in the Americas by Roberto Bolano. Like my reading of Margaret Atwood's The Tent, this book by Bolano was not the one I should have read first. He has created a list and descriptions of fictional Fascist and Neo-Nazi writers, complete with organizations and novels. The list describes bad poets, failed novels, and shadow organizations in North and South America. The list is not particulary interesting although it is very clever as the author slides his characters into real situations and associations with real people. I can admire this creation while not being thrilled by the actual writing of the lists.I found myself making a comparison with the work of Stephen Marche's book Shining At The Bottom of the Sea. Marche created a fictional island and the history of it's literature. His book is much more interesting as I felt that I discovered more about the soul of the writing. Bolano's book is a biographical dictionary that come off as very dreary. I think that I might have a different take on this book after I read some of Bolano's main work. However if it stands alone,I have to say that I was disappointed.

116twinkley
Jun. 28, 2009, 1:41pm

I read Cold Comfort Farm this year and really enjoyed it too. It made me think a little differently on those gothic novels I like and made me laugh as well.

117torontoc
Bearbeitet: Jun. 29, 2009, 12:34pm

85. The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes. I do love a Victorian or Edwardian historical mystery! I liked the beginning of this novel but found the ending just satisfactory. The writing style was good but the introduction of new characters in the middle was -hmm- not as well done as I would have liked. Needless to say , this work about a conjurer, and plots against the city of London was fun to read.

118torontoc
Jul. 5, 2009, 9:22am


86. When I Lived in Modern Times by Linda Grant. This 2000 Orange Prize winner is well written and has a number of provacative and interesting ideas about a people's ( and individual's ) past history and the relationship to " modern times". The main character, Evelyn, is a very impressionable young woman with bad judgement. She allows others- her uncle Joe who send hers to 1946 Palestine, and her lover Johnny who uses her- to determine her actions. Evelyn is a bit of a contradiction as several of her acts are quite smart in her situation. She comes across as both a survivor and a victim in in her life. The author's candid descriptions of the kibbutz life, the early days of Tel Aviv and the role of widely diverse Jewish groups in the development of the country are really interesting. The last part of the book that brings the reader up to date on Evelyn's history seems rushed and not as connected to the rest of the story. I did like this book very much.

119torontoc
Jul. 17, 2009, 7:51pm

87. My Life In France by Julia Childs with Alex Prud'homme. This book was a delight- a charming story about Julia Child's life in France from the late 1940's to the fifties. Child writes about her interest in food, France and her education in cooking. She tells a good story about her friends, cooking discoveries and how she got started in writing and later her television series.

120torontoc
Bearbeitet: Jul. 18, 2009, 11:10am

88. number9dream by David Mitchell. I don't remember how I discovered David Mitchell but I have loved all of his books. Some have a science fiction aspect-others are jurt quirky. This one is excellent. A young man, Eiji Miyake, comes to Tokyo to find his father. Eiji and his late twin sister were brought up by his uncles and aunts and grandmother. His mother had abandoned the children. The father was married with children and never wanted contact with his offspring by a discarded mistress. The story is of Eiji's quest, his contact with murderous gangs, his interior journey and extraordinary dreams. This is a book that I will return to as I think that I need to reread to see yet another layer of meaning.

121torontoc
Jul. 18, 2009, 11:39pm

89. The Road Home by Rose Tremain. I have been reading this 2008 Orange Prize winner for about a week. It began with the very sad story of Lev, an Eastern European widower on his way to London. He wanted to earn money for his mother and daughter who lived back home. His troubled start in London was seen in contrast to his memories of his dead wife and their life, as well as that of his friend, Rudi. Lev's sense of displacement in London is sensitively narrated.Lev's life becomes more complicated with the introduction of some interesting characters who provide friendship as Lev learns to navigate his new life with it's ups and downs. The resolution of Lev's story is surprisingly upbeat.( as other readers have reported) Definitely worth reading.

122torontoc
Bearbeitet: Jul. 26, 2009, 9:57am

90. The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville. This 2001 Orange Prize winner was wonderful to read. This is a romance set in a very small Australian town. Two outsiders-Harley, sent by a Sydney museum to help set up a heritage display, and Douglas,an engineer sent to tear down a bridge and rebuild it in concrete- meet and under the most trying circumstances, become attracted to each other. The townspeople and the countryside have a major role to play in this novel about unlikely attraction. Highly recommended.

123torontoc
Jul. 27, 2009, 10:09am

91. Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink edited by David Remnick. I have been reading this anthology of articles on food, ( reporting and fiction) from the New Yorker Magazine off and on for about 4 months now. ( The book is about 500 pages ). The range of years from the 1930's to the present really gives the reader a sense of the social history about food as well. The authors include Dorothy Parker, Ogden Nash, Woody Allen and Malcolm Gladwell to name a few. The subjects include a thirty -seven course lunch, the best ketchup, and oysters. Very interesting book.

92. February by Lisa Moore Lisa Moore is a remarkable author from Newfoundland. Her latest book is about one family and the sinking of the oil rig, Ocean Ranger. Moore uses this real life tragedy in her book as the life changing event for Helen and her children. The story is told through events from Helen's past with her husband, Cal and the present as she struggles to live with the memory of Cal's death on the Ocean Ranger. The writing is spare yet accurate as Moore describes heartbreak and later hope. A recommended read.

124kiwidoc
Jul. 27, 2009, 10:22am

Good to hear about Lisa Moore - I have her book Alligator waiting TBR. That is encouraging.

125torontoc
Jul. 28, 2009, 9:54am

I had my next books all lined up and then I decided that I needed a memoir-spy story that was staring at me from the book pile. So I read
93. My Father's Secret War by Lucinda Franks. Franks won the Pulitzer Prize for her reporting. In this book, she tells the story of her parents difficult relationship and the secrets that she uncovers while dealing with her father's problems. Tom and Lorraine Franks had a terrible marriage. The two children were often caught in the middle. Lucinda , the oldest, rebelled while whe was young and eventually had to support her father financially while she was in her twenties. (Her mother had died) This book tells about the troubled relationship and how it changed as Francks discovered her father's role as a spy in World War II. The story is pieced together from her father's failing and selective memory, research and intervews, and later with the letters that Tom wrote to his wife during the war. Francks realizes that her parents did have a loving relationship that only soured after the war. What her father saw and did might have changed him forever. Francks learns truths about herself and her family as she looks for evidence of her father's exploits. Not every clue is found but Francks has contructed a more accurate picture of her father by the book's conclusion. A very satifying read. Personally, what I found compelling were the letters that Tom Francks wrote during the war. The phrases sounds just those that my father wrote to my mother during the same period of time. And like Francks, I do cherish those pieces of paper that give life to departed family.

126kiwidoc
Jul. 28, 2009, 9:14pm

The Franks book sounds intriguing. I will have to see if I can find it. I love to read about such things, but often end up disappointed when there is an obvious attempt to commercialize without real depth.

Journey to Nowhere by Eva Figes which I just read was a similar confessional family memoir - but it was validated by her overall socio-political commentary/opinion on Zionism and Israel.

127rainpebble
Jul. 30, 2009, 3:10am

My Father's Secret War sounds like a must read. And kiwidoc, likewise Journey to Nowhere: One Woman Looks for the Promised Land.
Don't you people know that I would get all these books on my shelves read if I didn't continue to get all of these wonderful recommendations?
I think that is a universal LT problem.
Take care folks and thanx for the recs,
belva

128torontoc
Jul. 30, 2009, 9:33am

Yes -the book piles are a problem. It would be nice to see how people deal with piles of books. ( totems?, arches? pyramids? )

94. Heaven is Small by Emily Schultz. This is a book that I picked up after hearing the author at a reading. The premise is a little odd but entertaining and ultimately sad at the end. Gordon Small, dies, and then finds himself applying for a job at Heaven, a publisher of romance novels. He is a editor in a seemingly big corporation. Gordon had been a not too successful writer. His discovery of Heaven's secrets, and his own thwarting of the system provides the main plot. This is a clever book, although I had to read the ending more than once in order to figure out what happened.

129torontoc
Aug. 1, 2009, 10:55am

95. Geisha by Liza Dalby. This book is a very interesting study of the history of Geisha and the author's experiences passing as a geisha one year in the 1970's. I found the attitudes towards women and the geisha's place in Japanese culture fascinating. To me it looks like a loose-loose situation as opposed to the author's view that the geisha were very independent as women. There is still the very paternal attitude that makes men the centre of any life that women have.Whether the geisha can control their lives and play a role that married women don't in Japanese society is beside the point. The whole setup of relationships bothers me. The author is quite sympathetic to the geisha-wife role situation in this book.( I guess you now how I feel). The historical aspects of the book feel really complete. The author's statistics on various aspects of the geisha life are presented in a scholarly way-Dalby is an anthropologist who studied the geisha for her degree.

130torontoc
Aug. 5, 2009, 4:51pm

96. The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.What can I say? This book was an ER copy that I will review later this week. It had enough bodies, gothic views of Barcelona and mysterious strangers, lost loves, bad entanglements with the devil, and some wonderful images. Back later on this one.

131torontoc
Aug. 10, 2009, 10:30pm

96. The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.Carlos Ruiz Zafon has written a saga about the life of a writer, David Martin, living in Barcelona just after World War 1. The obsession of writing is a major theme in this story. Many times, David accepts commissions to write books under a pseudonym and in the name of another man. Ironically his work that is published under his own name is unsuccessful. Zafon creates a gloomy world of cemeteries, old buildings and secrets that David tries to solve. The one problem is that this main character is not very engaging. His obsession for writing is understandable. He has had several benefactors in his life who have provided him with work and a livelihood. Pedro Vidal, a mentor and ultimately a betrayer disappears from the story for a large amount of time, only to reappear at the end in an unsatisfactory way. Sempere, the proprietor of the book store, Sempere and Sons, is a wonderful character who gives David help and hope throughout his journey of self –discovery. The main protagonist, Andreas Corelli, steers David towards a commission that has a mysterious past involving more betrayals, murders, and lost souls. In fact, we, the readers figure out what is happening many pages before David does. I wonder at David’s powers of deduction as we see him many times in a state of disarray and depression. His female friends and lovers, Cristina and Isabella enable him to work and to look for the answers to the mystery of his last commission and the stories of those who had the same task before him. Cristina is the focus of David’s love and longing. She is both muse and traitor. Isabella gives David support although the reader wonders at her professed desire to write. The loss of true love and the enduring of friendship are themes that are also important in this novel. David experiences tragedy, has visions of events that may be out of this world and ultimately survives. Zafon has created an interesting world of mysterious images-the best has to be his Cemetery of Forgotten Books. His view of Barcelona as a dark world of decaying buildings is vividly described. Although David Martin is portrayed as a writer who obsessed by writing, his choice to set aside his own work too many times is troubling. Martin, the character is a better detective than writer in this story. This story is saved by the beautiful prose and images of the mysterious world of Zafon’s making.

132torontoc
Aug. 11, 2009, 12:37pm

97. Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. This is a brief tale about a totalitarian government that seems innocent, but turns deadly with the abolishment of letters that have fallen from the monument to the island's founder. As the letters fall and are banished from speech, the prose in the books takes on the same prohibitions. The story is in the form of letters to family members and later friends who live on the island of Nollop. The writing is smart and makes a strong argument about freedom of speech. The use of pangrams is very clever. Recommended

133torontoc
Bearbeitet: Aug. 12, 2009, 11:26pm

98. Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden. Boyden's story of two Cree young men who go off to fight in World War I is brilliantly written. The circular structure of the story contains the narratives of the horrors of war, the effect on the lives of the many who fought and died, and the histories of the Cree character in the Canadian north. Boyden's book becomes one of my favourites read this year.

134torontoc
Aug. 12, 2009, 11:32pm

99.Book of Clouds by Chloe Aridjis. This first novel about a young Mexican woman living in Berlin is very well-written and accomplished. However, the skillful prose is used to describe a story that starts off slowly and eventually reaches a climax. Some of the images that reflect Berlin's history past and present are startling I haven't made up my mind as to whether I feel this book is as good as others that I have read lately. I think that I will look out for other books that Chloe Aridjis( I read her father's books) will write but have reservations about the plot in this one.

135torontoc
Bearbeitet: Aug. 15, 2009, 7:29pm

100. The House at Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper. The author is now covering the White House for The New York Times. Cooper has written a very engaging memoir about her family and life in Liberia , where she was born and lived until she was about 13. Cooper's family were part of the privileged class with roots in the founding of Liberia by Black freemen in the early 1800's. Her description of their life and the subsequent revolutions give the reader an interesting history lesson about Liberia. Helene Cooper had an adapted sister, Eunice, who was left behind when the family fled to the United States. Although the other members of Cooper's family do return to Liberia and keep in touch with Eunice, Helene only does so after a harrowing accident in Iraq. The reunion and her writing on her heritage is very well written. A very satisfying memoir.

Well-this is my 100 th book this year. I am amazed that I have read so much so I want to recount my favourites.
Most Humorous
Cold Comfort Farm
Our Hearts were Young and Gay
Kafka's Soup
Best Mysteries
Child 44
Farthing
Best Written
The Girls
Olive Kitteridge
Three Day Road
All Quite on the Western Front
Flights of Love
The Robber Bride
Number9dream
Best Adventure
The Outlander

136lauralkeet
Aug. 16, 2009, 6:12am

100 already! Well done. You've read some great books this year. I like your summary, I always find it fun to reflect on my reading over a period of time.

137jfetting
Aug. 16, 2009, 12:56pm

congrats on 100! what is your goal now?

138torontoc
Aug. 17, 2009, 9:37am

Hmm? good question- goal? Probably to read some of the very long books on the TBR piles- I really must read A Suitable Boy soon!

101. From The Fifteenth District by Mavis Gallant. What can I say about one of the premier short story authors? Gallant writes about situations in Europe after World War II. Displacement seems to be the main theme in most of the stories. Gallant's way with descriptions to reveal character is terrific. Highly recommended.

139torontoc
Aug. 22, 2009, 9:21am

102. Babylonne by Catherine Jinks is a YA adventure set in the times of the battles between the French and the Cathars. I liked the history and the fiesty heroine but found the story ending too abrupt. I think that it screams " there will be another book in this story" a little too loud.

140jfetting
Aug. 22, 2009, 9:27am

I love short stories and hadn't hear of Gallant before - now From the Fifteenth District is on the TBR list. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

141rainpebble
Bearbeitet: Aug. 26, 2009, 2:20pm

Hello torontoc;
Not much to add; just doing a flybyhi and checking out what everyone has been reading. Looks like you have been into some interesting nonfiction. I grabbed a couple of titles and gee---thanx a lot!~! hee hee What would we do without our fellow LTers to give us good recx. I depend more on all of you than on the N.Y. Times or any of the others.
Congratulations on beating your goal. Good job!~!
will catch you later,
belva

142torontoc
Bearbeitet: Aug. 26, 2009, 11:36pm

Thanks for dropping by! I have found that my book wishlist has increased 10 times since reading LT.

103. Aleppo Tales by Haim Sabato. This is a group of close linked stories about families of Rabbis in Aleppo and later Jerusalem.I have to echo the comments about Sabato that Squeaky Chu wrote. Sabato's work is about Jewish religious study and specifically that of the Jews of Aleppo, Syria. The author writes of the study and pattern of observance. He is relating the stories of the lives and concerns of a number of generations. I enjoyed this work a lot but agree with Squeaky Chu that this author is not for everyone

143cushlareads
Aug. 27, 2009, 1:27am

!00 books already is an amazing effort - so many books have gone on my library list because of you!!

144torontoc
Aug. 27, 2009, 9:14am

Thank you!

145torontoc
Aug. 27, 2009, 10:48pm

104. Apricots on the Nile by Colette Rossant. This is a memoir with recipes. The stories that Rossant tells about her growing up in Cairo and Paris are quite sad. Her father died when she was about 6 years and her mother left her for years at a time with her grandmother in Paris and her grandparents in Cairo.Rossant learned to love food by watching in the kitchen. Her enjoyment of the food prepared in both countries obviously influenced her later in life. This is a book about the enjoyment of food and serious neglect by the author's mother. Yet her memoires of the life she led in both Paris and Cairo are lovingly described. A very interesting read.

146SteveLuxenberg
Aug. 28, 2009, 8:39am

Hi torontoc,

I noticed that you had read my book, Annie's Ghosts on your way to your 100 books for 2009. Not only was it a delight to discover that, but your "highly recommended" was an extra surprise. The book has more than 90 LT reviews now (including yours!), with the vast majority four- and five-stars. I just wanted to say thanks for making me part of your year.

Steve Luxenberg

147SqueakyChu
Bearbeitet: Aug. 28, 2009, 11:05am

--> 142

If I get my sluggish body out to the post office sometime today, you'll soon receive Dawning of the Day, another Sabato novel. I absolutely loved it. Haim Sabato made it to the list of my favorite novelists with the novel Adjusting Sights, and now he has cemented his place there! :)

I'm very happy to be able to share this book with someone else who appreciates his writing. The book itself came from the mother of my daughter's boy-friend. She's a librarian who selected this withdrawn book for me at random because she knows I like translated novels. Boy did she score a hit with this one!! Enjoy...

--> 95

I very much enjoyed Geisha by Liza Dalby. I read it after reading Arthur Golden's novel, Memoirs of a Geisha. Dalby's book helped me understand the world of geisha. I was amazed that a non-Asian was able to be so accepted into geisha society as to be able to feel so much a part of their world and to so vividly describe it in her book. That was a book that I also shared with my husband after he too read Memoirs of a Gesiha (and loved it).

148torontoc
Bearbeitet: Sept. 1, 2009, 9:40am

105. The Devil's Company by David Liss. This is the third historical fiction novel by Liss on the adventures of Benjamin Weaver, " thieftaker" in London in 1722. The story is a mystery about The East India Company, cotton from India, protection of goods produced within a country ( sounds modern) and those who oppose it, blackmail,and new inventions that may change industry and trade. I liked the story and do look forward to the next book. However, I hope that Liss gets away from the pattern that he has followed in the past two books. Some of the details of the story have started to sound the same. I also think that the reader has to read the two previous books in order to get a sense of the relationships that Liss has constructed

149FlossieT
Sept. 2, 2009, 5:26pm

I have Book of Clouds on the launch pad at the moment so it was interesting to hear your thoughts.

Congratulations on your 100!

150torontoc
Sept. 3, 2009, 9:54am

Thank you- I did like the skill of Book of Clouds but wanted more.

106. The Journal of Dora Damage by Belinda Starling. This book of historical fiction is really well written with a number of references to the trade of bookbinding, the slave trade and freed former slaves in London before the American Civil War, pornographic literature and the secret societies that promoted these books. All this was framed in the story of Dora Damage, who takes over her husband's business when he becomes ill. Dora's perseverance and her adventures make this book a good read. Not for the faint hearted, though. There are some grisly parts.

151torontoc
Sept. 5, 2009, 12:19am

107. Un Lun Dun by China Mieville. What a fun adventure! This young adult book introduces the reader to an alternate London or UnLondon where rubbish bins ( my favourite word-binja) are trained in martial arts, there are nasty attacking giraffes and the threat of smog leads to feats of heroism by the most unlikely band of heroes led by a girl named Deeba. The writer's invention of characters in this novel are extremely creative. A good read.

152Nickelini
Sept. 5, 2009, 12:29pm

Wow, that's pretty out there. Attacking giraffes, huh. I'll have to look out for that one.

153FlossieT
Sept. 5, 2009, 7:15pm

>151 torontoc: I bought a copy of that for my son, but he put it down after a few pages... guess I'll go dig it out! Have you read Neverwhere? Am wondering how the two compare.

154torontoc
Sept. 7, 2009, 10:17am

I haven't read Neverwhere- I'll have to take a look at it.

155torontoc
Sept. 8, 2009, 10:20am

108. Quarrel With The King: The Story of an English Family on the High Road to Civil War by Adam Nicolson. I have mixed feelings about this book. The premise and ideas introduced are indeed riveting. However, the author seems to have put two short histories into one book. I thought that the book was about the Pembroke family, owners of Wilton and their lives and relationships with the kings and queen of England from the Tudors to the Stuarts. In this, the author has very good insights. He also relates the history of the division and ownership of land. Nicolson describes the ideas of Arcadia and how this work of Philip Sidney influnced the Pembroke family and other nobles. I was left with the feeling that Nicolson left the family history without any satifactory resolution and ended with the story of the disolution of the old land distribution system. Hmm- so the book is well written but I wanted more of the Pembroke family biography

156torontoc
Sept. 10, 2009, 8:14pm

109. Galore by Michael Crummey. Newfoundland author Michael Crummey tells a great story. In his new book, he moves seamlessly through the stories of about six generations of two families living in a remote section of Newfoundland. The story ends at the time of World War I. There are spells, ghosts, a man found alive inside a beached whale and feuds. The very hard lives of fishermen in isolated outposts is very much a major theme. Crummey starts his book with a quote from Gabriel Garcia Marquez that I came back to-"The invincible power that has moved the world is unrequited, not happy love".That, too, is a strong focus. Highly Recommended.

157torontoc
Sept. 24, 2009, 12:35pm

110. Crazy Hair by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. I haven't finished any reading for the past two weeks as I was at a film festival ( 21 movies in 10 days!).
This children's ( or young adult) book was recommended by a bibliophile friend. The story is fantastic and the illustrations superb.

158torontoc
Sept. 24, 2009, 11:17pm

111. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson. I read this book over the past two weeks. There are things that I like about it and some aspects that I do not. A man almost dies in a car accident, is burned horribly and is recooperating in a hospital. He meets a woman who says that she knew him in a past life-in fact the year 1100 or so. The novelist leads the reader through the history of this woman, now a sculptor and in the past, a calligrapher. There are also a few other stories about a Viking, an Italian and a woman who lost her husband to the sea. The stories are fascinating but the wrapping up in the end leaves alot to question. So, I am recommending this book and not recommending it. There are both good and awkward parts. I'm glad that I read it but I wanted a better connecting of all the stories

159torontoc
Sept. 28, 2009, 11:30pm

112. The Unlikely Spy by Daniel Silva. Sometimes, I am in the mood for a spy thriller and this one fit the bill! I had not read Silva before and think that he writes a decent thriller. This story involves German spies in London during World War 2 and the race to keep Hitler deceived about where the Allies would be landing on D-day. The ending was not too contrived.( a complaint I have had recently with some books)

160torontoc
Sept. 30, 2009, 12:00am

113. Company of Liars by Karen Maitland. This book about a travelling group of nine strangers trying to avoid the plaque in 1348 England is interesting. The mysteries and killings are easily solved-in fact I knew one major secret really early in the story. It was a good read although the ending had a cheap thriller feel to it.( no spoilers)

161torontoc
Bearbeitet: Okt. 2, 2009, 10:33am

114. The Wife's Tale by Lori Lansens. Lansens has written a very good story about Mary Gooch, a very large woman living in the town of Leaford, Ontario with her husband. Mary leads a very isolated and narrow life, working at the drugstore and finding comfort only in eating a lot of food. The novel begins when her husband does not return from his job on the day of their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Mary's life of one disaster after another changes when she decides to travel to find her husband. She has never been outside of Leaford but is able to do so because her husband has left her a small fortune in their bank account. Gooch, Mary's nickname for her husband won a lottery and left her a note telling to her to use it. The novel becomes the story of an odyssey for Mary. Although she is searching for her husband in Toronto and then California, Mary learns more about herself and changes in a good way. We the readers, see how good a husband Gooch was and how Mary squandered this relationship with her actions. Ironically, her search leads Mary to become a better person. The language and descriptions are wonderfully written. I must admit that this book is not as good as The Girls. I found that the dynamic of the story is not as important in this book as the behaviours and changes in Mary's personality are the main focus. Still, I would recommend it.

162torontoc
Okt. 2, 2009, 2:26pm

115. The Disappeared by Kim Echlin. This slim volume by Echlin is written in a very poetic manner. The story of the romance between a young woman from Montreal and an exile from Cambodia spans about 14 years from the late 1970's to the early 1990's. Meeting in jazz clubs in Montreal, separating when the Cambodian student, Serey, goes back to his homeland, the woman, Anne,searches for her lover in Cambodia 11 years later. The events in Cambodia reveal how life is interrupted by politics. Through her story, Echlin describes the tragedy of Cambodia. Recommended.

163torontoc
Okt. 5, 2009, 5:12pm

116. Ghost Train to the Eastern Star by Paul Theroux. One of the best and most magical travel books that I have read is Paul Theroux's The Great Railway Bazaar. Theroux took a rail journey in 1973 from London through Turkey to Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, then Burma, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, and then back to London via Russia on the Trans-Siberian Express. It was a fascinating read. Since then, Theroux's books of travel in other parts of the world have been interesting but in the past couple of years I passed on them because of the author's attitude. I found his writing grumpy and in one book-kind of nasty. I had to read this book because he was retracing his journey with a few exceptions,(Afghanistan) and adding some destinations that were forbidden in 1973. This book is a nice discovery. The author is more mellow and discusses what his personal life was like at the time of the last book. He writes that he now looks at gardens and spends less time in bars. Theroux has some wonderful descriptions of the places that he visits, and interesting discussions with writers that he encounters in Sri Lanka, and Japan. In The Great Railway Bazaar, Theroux wrote about a guesthouse in Maymyo, Burma and its manager. It was a very sensitive portrait of a lifestyle and history of the area. In his new book , Theroux again travels to Pyin-Oo-Lwin ( new name) and meets the son of the manager at the same guesthouse. I enjoyed this book and will go back to some of Theroux's travel books that I skipped.

164torontoc
Okt. 8, 2009, 12:01am

117. The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti. This is an adventure story with some very colourfull and arresting characters. I wouldn't call it a Young Adult book although you could recommend it to a mature young adult-there are many killings. Certainly the author created a story and "semi-mystery" that held my interest. A young orphan boy with one hand has been living in a Catholic orphanage. A young man claims him as his long lost brother. Ren, the young boy, finds himself taking part in a series of adventures that lead him to the story of his past. The plot is not as direct as I would like but Tinti does write well.

165torontoc
Okt. 8, 2009, 11:10pm

118. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. This satire on India and the haves and have nots is insightful and entertaining at the same time. Balram is a successful entrepreneur who tells the story of his early life in a series of letters to the premier of China. His description of his job as a driver and the pull of his family and his employers is disturbing. The divide between rich and poor is crisply delineated. This book is one that helps the outsider understand the contradictions of modern India.

166torontoc
Okt. 16, 2009, 8:13pm

119. Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles. A truly messed up failed poet and now translator is stuck at the Chicago Airport. He will probably miss his daughter's wedding. So Bennie Ford writes a letter to the airlines explaining about his chaotic life, failed relationships, eccentric family and why it is so important to be in California for the wedding of a daughter who he has not seen since she was a baby. This slim volume is well written and worth reading.

167torontoc
Bearbeitet: Okt. 18, 2009, 8:05pm

120. Unbuilt Toronto: A History of the City that Might Have Been by Mark Osbaldeston. The author discusses and shows the plans for city planning, buildings and transportation plans that were never approved or were second place in competitions. The illustrations give me an interesting perspective on what may have been. In some cases the choices made were the right ones and in some- bad! A good book for readers interested in architecture and urban planning.

168wookiebender
Okt. 18, 2009, 8:45pm

#167> I have to say, that sounds fascinating! I do love architecture books, and that sounds great. I wonder if there's a Sydney one around...

169torontoc
Okt. 19, 2009, 4:41pm

I really enjoyed reading about and looking at the plans of the various buildings. I think that some author should do ( and may have done) the same for other cities. I would be interested in reading more of this work.

121. High Chicago by Howard Shrier. This book is my July Early Reviewer book that was just delivered by Canada Post. It is a high powered fast read about murder, cover ups and some truly ugly fights. The characters- a private investigator named Jonah Geller, his partner Jenn Raudsepp, his hitman-turned-restaurant-owner friend Dante Ryan-take on a powerful Chicago businessman who is behind a number of murders. The crimes were committed to make sure a large waterfront development would still be built inspite of environmental problems. The only bothersome theme that runs through this book is one of vengence and turning the tables on some hideous crimes without the help of police.

170torontoc
Okt. 19, 2009, 11:30pm

122. St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell. I have a lot of time to read this week and I finished this excellent book of short stories by Russell. I first read the story that gives the book its name in Granta Magazine. Russell was named a " Granta Best Young American Novelist". A LT reader told me that Russell had published a book- so I looked out for it. The ten stories have a mix fantasy, very inventive and creative plots and societies set in Florida and other altered and dark places. One major theme that unites most of the stories of that of loss and displacement- lost siblings, parents, and homes. The St.Lucy story is the most haunting. Russell writes with skill and incredible creativity. I found the first few stories in the collection set me up but ended without a satisfactory resolution. The later stories were in some cases, without hope. Russell's misfit characters are very memorable.I won't recommend this collection for everybody- I think that you have to know yourself and the kinds of stories you want to read.

171Nickelini
Okt. 20, 2009, 10:28am

Just love that title!

172kiwidoc
Okt. 20, 2009, 10:55am

I like to keep an eye out for the Granta best writers list. It is great that they often promote young and unknown authors. I have never heard of Karen Russell.

173torontoc
Okt. 20, 2009, 11:40am

That's why I collect my Grantas- I am behind now, but have found some very interesting writers to follow in the issues. Karen Russell is worth following. She hasn't published any more books but I have to look out for any stories in magazines-on my list of things to do.

174torontoc
Okt. 22, 2009, 11:20pm

123. Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold. This adventure takes the reader to the world of magic and the history of magicians in the early twentieth century. Charles Carter, after a slow start on vaudeville as a magician, becomes a noted illusionist. Tragedy and a final encounter with President Harding leave him a suspect in murder. The plot races to the end of the book tying up loose ends and providing a good resolution. Fun to read, this novel takes real historical figures and works them into a plausible altered history.

175torontoc
Okt. 28, 2009, 11:24pm

124. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. This book is every bit as good as everyone says. I really enjoyed reading it and was sorry to see it end. i am thrilled that Mantel is writing a sequel. The author takes the viewpoint of Thomas Cromwell from his early life through his rise to Henry VIII's chief minister. The characterizations of Anne Boleyn, her sister Mary, Sir Thomas More and Cardinal Wolsey are masterful. I found that Cromwell himself was a bit of a cipher as well as the portrayal of Henry. The plot follows the rise and partial descent of Anne Boleyn as well as the breaking away from Rome on the matter of religion. Mantel writes from Cromwell's viewpoint and pulls the reader into the conversations. Sometimes her use of the pronoun " he" is a little confusing. On the whole I think that anyone who enjoys historical fiction will want to read this book

176lauralkeet
Okt. 29, 2009, 8:19am

>175 torontoc:: I'm about 100 pages from the end and enjoying it as well.

177torontoc
Bearbeitet: Okt. 30, 2009, 4:28pm

125. The Messenger by Daniel Silva From the sublime to the ridiculous- I went from Wolf Hall to the above spy-thriller. I guess that sometimes you need a little easy read. Silva's book about plots to kill the pope and vengence is fast paced but not as good as the last Silva book that I read. I haven't been too impressed with the last couple of books like this. I must find out when Stephen Miller's next book will be published- now his books are good thrillers. ( I was thinking of The Last Train to Kazan

178torontoc
Okt. 31, 2009, 9:47am

126. The Bus Driver Who Wanted to be God by Etgar Keret. This book of short -very short- stories by Israeli author Keret are surreal, bizarre and in most cases very disturbing. I'm glad that I read them and will still be looking out for Keret's work. Beyond the bizarre are some very astute thoughts.

179torontoc
Nov. 1, 2009, 11:40am

127. Suspense and Sensibility by Carrie Bebris. Yet another sublime to the ridiculous moment- I have been following this one series of mysteries about the Pride and Prejudice characters-Elizabeth and Darcy and their family. However, the author has included some paranormal stuff in both of the books that I have read so far. I am sorry that the plot does not stick to mystery. Bebris also takes the characters from Sense and Sensibility and includes them in this book. No one really fares well. I am not sure whether I will read the next in the series as there are so many interesting books out there that I want to read.
I went to the International Authors Festival in Toronto and discovered some new ( to me) authors.

180torontoc
Nov. 1, 2009, 7:39pm


128. The German Mujahid by Boualem Sansal This fascinating book has been translated from the French by Frank Wynne. Two brothers, born in Algeria to a German father and an Algerian mother, had been sent to live in France with an uncle. The eldest, Rachel is a success story- studied at university, worked for a big multinational company and married. The young brother Malrich is a bit of a thug on the estate( called public housing in Canada ) where he lives. Rachel goes back to Algeria after his parents are murdered by fundamentalists in their small village and discovers that his father had been a Nazi SS officer. Rachel eventually becomes obsessed by the discovery and after two years of travel, commits suicide. Rachel leaves his diary of his travels to his brother Malrich. The book reveals the contents of the diary and Malrich's anger and thoughts on his father - his life and actions and on Rachel's reactions. Malrich also connects the behaviours of the Nazis to the fundamentalists taking over the estate. The book has been called the first Arab novel to confront the Holocaust. It also make some bold comments on the policies of Algeria and France. According to the book cover, the plot is based on a true story. It was a really good read!

181FlossieT
Nov. 2, 2009, 6:30am

I heard Frank Wynne speak on a panel at World Literature Weekend in London earlier in the year - very witty and thought-provoking; his name as translator I now definitely take as a recommendation! Wishlisting...

182torontoc
Bearbeitet: Nov. 4, 2009, 3:22pm

129. The Glass Room by Simon Mawer. This novel has at its centre a very revolutionary modern house built in a small town in 1929 Czechoslovakia. The Austrian architect meets his wealthy patrons, the Landauers, when they are on their honeymoon in Venice. Victor and Liesel decide to build their " dream" house on a hill just outside the town, called Mesto,. The story follows the building and then the fate of the Landauers and their friends when Germany takes over Czechoslovakia at the beginning of World War 11. The description of the house is wonderful. The stories of those in the Landauer circle of relatives and friends are not unfamiliar to those who read Holocaust history. Actually, there was a real house, the Villa Tugendhat, built by Mies Van der Rohe in Brno.The fictional house is modelled after it.
I liked the story and how the plot is built around the fate of the house to an extent

183torontoc
Nov. 5, 2009, 9:08am

130. A House in Fez by Suzanna Clarke. Suzanna is an Australian writer and editor who fell in love with the old homes in Fez , Morocco. Susanna and her husband decided to buy and restore an old riad in the old city. This book is the story of that restoration and the people that Susannna met during this process. The book provides interesting information on the history of the buildings and the decoration. I found it to be a " comfort" read -very gentle and not as crazy as the Tahir Shah book about a similar reconstruction.

184torontoc
Nov. 6, 2009, 11:24pm

131. The Secret Servant by Daniel Silva. Murder, kidnapping, more mass murder and revenge of all sorts. i gues that I am going to look for another mystery/spy author- I am waiting for the latest Boris Akunin book to be translated and published.

185torontoc
Nov. 8, 2009, 11:06pm

132. Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro. This is a collection of superb short stories. Whether Munro writes about the terrible thing that two young girls did at summer camp or the life of a Russian mathematician, she does it with precise language and images. I highly recommend this author and book.

186torontoc
Nov. 14, 2009, 5:43pm

133. Jane Boleyn: The True Story of the Infamous Lady Rochford by Julia Fox. The book was interesting although it was mainly about the Tudor era as there is not a lot of written evidence about Jane Boleyn. The author also shows how Jane was blamed for some things that she was not necessarily responsible for in the deaths of her husband George and sister-in-law Anne.

187torontoc
Nov. 17, 2009, 8:33am

134. The Dawning of the Day: A Jerusalem Tale by Haim Sabato. I have to thank Squeaky Chu for the recommendation and mooch for this book. It is a lovely " quiet" book about an unassuming man who really lives for the prayer and life in his small synagogue and his relationships with the religious community in Jerusalem. The stories are linked with the study of Jewish religious texts and prayers.

188SqueakyChu
Nov. 17, 2009, 10:24pm

I'm so glad you liked this book. Have you read Adjusting Sights, also by this same author? It was another book that I loved. It told the story of contemporary wartime in Israel through liturgical references. It was beautiful and sad in the same way that All Quiet on the Western Front was.

189torontoc
Nov. 18, 2009, 9:03am

I picked up Adjusting Sights at the Word on the Street book fair in Toronto this fall. The publisher ( Toby Press) had a tent there. It is on my TBR pile!

190SqueakyChu
Bearbeitet: Nov. 18, 2009, 10:21pm

Good pick!!

Toby Press has also supplied LT with Early Reviewer books (I did the asking). Good publisher!

191torontoc
Nov. 27, 2009, 4:54pm

135. God's Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible by Adam Nicolson. I enjoyed this book very much. I liked the way the author put the accomplishments of "The Translators' -the group of men who did the work- into context. The story of the translation and previous bibles and how a large group of scholars managed to create the King James
Bible is a good story involving politics, and religion

192torontoc
Nov. 29, 2009, 11:38am

136. Granta 105 Lost and Found I finally read one of the Granta magazines that I have in my book pile. This issue has some nice articles on Elizabeth Pizani's memories of Tiananmen Square, and Jeremy Treglown's account of finding and identfying the bodies from the Spanish Civil War.

193torontoc
Dez. 8, 2009, 10:04am

137. Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada. This book was translated this year by Michael Hoffman although it was published in 1947 in Germany just after the author ( real name Rudolf Ditzen) died of a morphine overdose. The author's story is as interesting as the actual book.Fallada stayed in Germany during the war although his work was denounced by the Nazis. He was able to write works that were considered subversive and this novel ( on the New York Times 100 Notable books for 2009) is very powerful. Based on a true story, the plot describes how a working class couple in Berlin created their own resistance against the Nazis during the early 1940's. Otto and Anna Quangel were devastated by the death of their only son, a soldier in the army. Otto determined that he would do something to show his opposition to the war. He wrote postcards with slogans denouncing the Nazis and Hitler. He would then take walks through neighbourhoods in Berlin on and drop off the cards in office buildings. Anna would help him sometimes but he wanted to do anything dangerous by himself. The novel also related the stories of petty thieves and thugs whose dealings were linked to the search for the Quangels and the policemen who began to look for the perpetrator of this "crime." There were some decent people-the retired judge in the Quangel's apartment building who tried to help a Jewish woman hide from the Nazis, a former wife of one of the thieves, and the daughter-in-law of the Quangels. The narration moves from one character to another chronicling the cruelty and absolute power of the government. The fear of the people towards the hierarchy of the Gestapo, the S.S. and the officials who carry out unspeakable torture is depicted without emotion by the author. The simple dignity of Otto and Anna Quangel as they are captured and punished becomes a very moving theme. One detail that Fallada does emphasize is of the over 200 postcards left at various locations, all were turned in to the police. Only 18 were not. This fact is used by the Gestapo to taunt Otto Quangel. But Otto is firm in his belief that he had to make a stand against tyranny. The book also includes a brief biography of the author and information on the real couple who did distrubute postcards and were excuted in 1943. This book was very moving and certainly a must read for readers interested in World War II studies.

194torontoc
Dez. 14, 2009, 4:30pm

138. The Rossetti Letter by Christi Phillips. This book is very easy to read historical fiction about the so-called Spanish conspiracy to invade Venice in 1618. The story of a young courtesan is paired with that of a present day doctoral student at a conference in Venice who is looking into the details of this event for her thesis. The story is a bit of a romance in both time periods. Pleasant but not earth-shattering.

195torontoc
Dez. 15, 2009, 9:41am


139. How to Paint a Dead Man by Sarah Hall. Now, this novel is wonderful. Four somewhat connected stories are related throughout the book. An ailing renowned Italian painter at the end of his life, a young blind girl who tends the painter's grave, an English painter trapped in the landscape that he paints, and his daughter mourning the death of her twin brother are the subjects of Hall's work. The English painter did correspond with the Italian artist when he was just starting out. The daughter releases her grief in sexual couplings with her friend's husband. The young girl tries to work through the relationships of her family in a world closed to her by her mother. The writing on the nature of art and descriptions of character are masterful. I see why this book was on the longlist for the Man Booker Award. Definitely recommended

196FlossieT
Dez. 16, 2009, 7:41pm

Yay! I haven't read How to Paint... (yet) but Haweswater was FANTASTIC and I think Sarah Hall is great. Looking forward to it even more now - it's out in mass-market PB in the UK fairly early next year.

197lauralkeet
Dez. 16, 2009, 9:15pm

Must read Haweswater. It's on my shelves and came to me highly recommended from an LT friend. Why have I let it sit there so long? So many books ...

198torontoc
Dez. 17, 2009, 9:42am

so many books- yes, I know that feeling- now have to add Haweswater to my wish list!

199torontoc
Dez. 17, 2009, 12:34pm

140. The Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger. I had great hopes for this book as it won the (Canada) Governor General's Award for Fiction. It is a good book but not great in my opinion. The story of Lady Duff Gordon who goes to live in Egypt is really an account of her maid, Sally. Lady Gordon was a Victorian diarist who had tuberculosis. She was advised to leave her family in England and go live in a better climate. She settled in Luxor and lived in an Egyptian style, writing and publishing a book about her life there. The narrator is Sally who also learns Arabic, explores the same sites as her mistress and tends to her as she has done for years in England. However, Sally misunderstands her freedom as she enters a relationship with Lady Duff Gordon's dragoman and has a child. The story of Sally's perseverance is the main theme of this novel. I probably would have no thoughts about how good the book is in comparison with other books except I read two of the other Governor General nominees. (Either Alice Munro or Michael Crummey should have won the award.

200torontoc
Dez. 18, 2009, 4:09pm

141. The Forty Rules of Love: A Novel of Rumiby Elif Shafak. This is my Early Reviewers book. I will write a review later.

201torontoc
Dez. 19, 2009, 12:45pm

142. The Most Beautiful Book in the World by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt. Translated by Alison Anderson. I tried to like this book of short stories by Schmitt- an award winning. French author and director. The illustration on the book cover was intriguing. However, every story has a plot that I figured out before the conclusion. That is not to say that some of them were clever-but I had read of them before in other books. The last story was interesting and touching. A disappointment.

202torontoc
Dez. 20, 2009, 4:06pm

143.. The Jewel Trader of Pegu by Jeffrey Hantover. I picked up this book at a remainder book store. Ii had originally been included in the Early Reviewer programme here at LT-but I didn't get it there. I do like historical fiction but this had a very thin storyline. The history was interesting. A Jewish trader from Venice in the 1598 travels to Pegu ( Burma) and lives there, buying precious stones learning about the culture, partaking in a very odd custom and finding love. Not really recommended.

203torontoc
Dez. 21, 2009, 3:08pm

I must admit that I am tackling my TBR pile or tower in the next week. The next book was the subject of a lot of praise on LT.
144. The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry. I think that this mystery/ story about lace readers, some witches and an extremist cult centred around a family in present day Salem is a good read.Some of the family relationships are a little difficult to figure out and play an important role in the solving of the plot's puzzle. The character development left a few holes in the depiction of several secondary family members of Towner Whitney-the main narrator. Is it a great book? No. I have read better mysteries but I would recommend it. I don't think that I would rave about this book, however.