mstrust stares down the 12 in 12 challenge

DiskuteraThe 12 in 12 Category Challenge

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mstrust stares down the 12 in 12 challenge

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nov 14, 2011, 2:12pm

Another year, another teetering tower of books. My categories tend to reflect what I have waiting on my shelf already, although the titles listed within those categories are hardly written in stone. They can and do change according to my whims, but if you see a book listed here that you'd like to read with me, just let me know and I'll make it happen.
I'm looking forward to hearing from everyone and I always like recommendations.

Redigerat: dec 14, 2012, 6:43pm

Nothing Up My Sleeve (Autobiographies, bios)

1. Typhoid Mary 4 stars
2. Hellraisers 4.5 stars
3. Jane Austen: A Life 4.5 stars
4. My Life in France 4.5 stars
5. Some Girls: My Life in a Harem 3 stars
6. I Slept with Joey Ramone
7. Bossypants 5 stars
8. Martin Shaw: The Biography 3 stars
9. Let's Pretend This Never Happened 4 stars

Redigerat: nov 27, 2012, 2:15pm

Black and White (Books on Books)

1. The Haunted Bookshop 3.5 stars
2. A Passion for Books
3. The Man Who Loved Books Too Much 4.5 stars
4. Time Was Soft There 4 stars
5. Book Lust 3.5 stars

Redigerat: dec 28, 2012, 11:16am

That's Not My Name (mysteries, crime, noir)

I'll fill these in as I go, as who knows what I'll end up reading.

1. Lord Edgware Dies 4 stars
2. A Mind To Murder 3.5 stars
3. Keep It Quiet 3.5 stars
4. The Bride Wore Black 4 stars
5. The A.B.C. Murders 4 stars
6. The Professionals 9: No Stone 4 stars
7. The Gondola Scam 3 stars
8. Death in the Clouds 4 stars
9. Murder in Mesopotamia 3.5 stars
10. The Professionals 10: Cry Wolf 4 stars

Redigerat: sep 24, 2012, 11:39am

Redigerat: dec 19, 2012, 11:50am

Contact In Red Square (Authors and places from around the world)

1. Oedipus the King (Greece) 5 stars
2. The Scarlet Pimpernel (France) 3.5 stars
3. The House in Paris (France by way of Ireland)
4. If On A Winter's Night A Traveler... (Italy) 2 stars
5. Lolita (Russia)
6. The Trial (Czech)
7. The People of the Book (Aus.)
8. Madeline's Rescue 4 stars
9. Xenophobe's Guide to the Aussies 4 stars

Redigerat: dec 26, 2012, 1:50pm

Guess Things Happen That Way (Non-Fiction)

1. Orchid Fever 4.5 stars
2. Land of two Halves 4 stars
3. Maple Sugar: From Sap to Syrup 4 stars
4. Nice To See It, To See It, Nice 4 stars
5. Frommer's 2012 Las Vegas 4 stars
6. Eating for England 5 stars
7. American Nerd 3.5 stars
8. Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir 3 stars
9. Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure 4.5 stars
10. Bad Food Britain 4 stars
11. Plane Insanity 3.5 stars
12. Sweet Invention 2.5 stars
13. Secret Lives of Great Authors 4 stars
14. The Sordid Secrets of Las Vegas 4 stars
15. Assassination Vacation 4 stars

Redigerat: apr 24, 2012, 11:32am

Steady As She Goes (Writings of P.G. Wodehouse)

1. Jeeves in the Morning 4 stars

Redigerat: jul 21, 2012, 2:05pm

Redigerat: sep 6, 2012, 2:27pm

I Never Told You What I Do For A Living (the mega-authors)

1. The Sun Also Rises 4 stars
2. A Tale of Two Cities
3. The Return of the Native
4. Brideshead Revisited
5. Tender is the Night 4 stars
6. Tom Sawyer 4 stars

Redigerat: dec 17, 2012, 6:43pm

Welcome To the Jungle (everything that refuses to conform to the categories)

1. End Game 3 stars
2. Lost Empires 5 stars
3. The Lion in Winter 5 stars
4. The Voysey Inheritance 3.5 stars
5. The Sandman Library: IV Season of Mists 3 stars
6. Saved 4 stars
7. True Blood Volume One: All Together Now 4 stars
8. The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus 3 stars

Redigerat: nov 14, 2011, 3:36pm

Glad to see you here!
If you'll let me know when you're ready, I'll read Orchid Fever along with you.

Redigerat: nov 14, 2011, 3:36pm

sorry for the double post!

nov 14, 2011, 3:35pm

Love the rockin' category names, and I see several books on your list that I'm also planning to read!

nov 14, 2011, 6:07pm

Hi Jenn, I see lots of good books listed here, and I'll be following along. Regarding A Tale of Two Cities, over on the 75 thread, a few of us were talking about reading it as a tutored read with Heather (SouloftheRose) and (I think) Suzanne (Chatterbox) next year. If it works out, do you want me to let you know the details?

nov 14, 2011, 6:20pm

Always good to see a Brookmyre title featured in a challenge. I'll probably be adding the latest, Where the Bodies are Buried, to mine when it gets a paperback release.

nov 14, 2011, 7:10pm

Hi, Victoria! No problem with the double post, I just get to hear from you twice as much. I'm thinking orchids, springtime... how does April 1st sound for starting Orchid Fever?

christina- I wasn't sure if anyone else would know these song titles as I often lean towards the independent label/totally obscure.

Judy- yes, do let me know if it turns into a group read and thanks for the heads up. Good to see you here.

Dave- this will be my first from him but his titles are so intriguing. Looking forward to it.

nov 14, 2011, 7:42pm

@ 19 -- To be honest, I only recognized three of the songs ("That's Not My Name," "Steady As She Goes," and "Welcome to the Jungle")...hope that doesn't destroy my street cred! :)

nov 14, 2011, 8:56pm

April is great!

nov 15, 2011, 10:56am

christina- nah, three is pretty good. Going from category #1 to 12, they are: Motorhead, Serge Gainsborg, The Ting-Tings, The Runaways, Black Sabbath, Blondie, Halford, Johnny Cash, The Raconteurs, Redd Kross, My Chemical Romance and , of course, Guns 'n' Roses. I like loud music.

Okay, Victoria, sounds good. I'll mark my calendar for April.

nov 15, 2011, 2:31pm

@ 22 -- Loud is good! :)

Also, should I put Orchid Fever on the list of group reads, or is this just going to be the two of you?

nov 15, 2011, 2:52pm

re: Orchid Fever, doesn't matter to me...

nov 15, 2011, 3:18pm

You're very welcome to join us. Mark your calendar!

nov 15, 2011, 3:38pm

@ 25 -- Aww, I feel bad saying this, but I wasn't asking to join the Orchid Fever group personally -- I was just wondering whether I should post it in the 12 in 12 general information, so that other people in the group can join in.

nov 15, 2011, 3:38pm

@ 25 -- Aww, I feel bad saying this, but I wasn't asking to join the Orchid Fever group personally -- I've never actually heard of the book before! I was just wondering whether I should post it in the 12 in 12 general information, so that other people in the group can join in.

nov 16, 2011, 11:49am

Well, it's too late for you, christina. Your name has been marked down, so now, you read!

I actually can't see that many people being interested in this particular book (just because it's rather a quiet subject), but if you come across someone who's also going to read it, send them on over.

nov 16, 2011, 12:38pm

Haha -- eep!

dec 18, 2011, 4:10pm

Stopping in to say hi. I love your Mob Rules category. I hope you like Mistress of the Art of Death. Before I was 50 pages in I knew I had to read the whole series and was on Amazon ordering them! Swamplandia was a total kick! I spent some time in Florida since my grandparents lived there and I went to college for 2 years in Miami so I was familiar with the beauty of the Everglades. Hope you enjoy your 2012 reads!

dec 18, 2011, 5:43pm

Thanks for dropping in. I've seen so many raves about both those books. I've spent a little time in Florida too and did a swamp tour, visited family and of course, Disney World.
My intention this year is to be more organized (ha!) with my reading, as I tend to find at the year's end that I have whole categories that are barely touched and others that have stretched to twice as long as they started out.
Good luck to you too!

jan 1, 2012, 12:59pm

Let's go-

1. The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett. Bartlett was tracing the provenance of an old German book on botany when she stumbled upon some information that startled her- that there are lots of rare and valuable books missing from libraries and universities. The more she looked into it, the more instances she found of people walking away with important works. Then she heard about one particular man, John Gilkey of Modesto, Ca. who may be the most prolific rare book thief in history. Bartlett interviewed Gilkey over two years, recording the man's reasoning for why he was entitled to steal, and even found herself, with Gilkey, facing one of the book dealers he had ripped off.

I love books about books, and this one has the author going to rare book fairs and meeting top book dealers from around the country. Bartlett follows all the players who took part in identifying Gilkey in his nationwide theft, so it's part true crime. She also spends hours in Gilkey's company, and his own words- selfish, shallow and warped- create a vivid picture of what kind of person takes without remorse. 4.5 stars

2. Madeline's Rescue by Ludwig Bemelmans. I don't normally read children's books and I had never heard of the Madeline books until I was an adult, but seeing Bemelmans artwork in the NYC bar made me long for one of his books.
In this story, Madeline is saved from drowning by a stray dog, who is then adopted by Miss Clavel and the twelve little schoolgirls. They love the dog and everyone is happy until the day the trustees visit and order the dog to be turned out.
This little book is charming, with many of the illustrations are done as beautiful oil paintings. 4 stars

jan 1, 2012, 2:57pm

The Bartlett book is already in my pile of TBRs. I'll have to try and get to it this year. Madeline stories are delightful and I agree at how wonderful the illustrations are. Two good ones to start the year. Yay!

jan 1, 2012, 3:41pm

Bartlett's book has been on my radar for a while, I wasn't sure though so good to see a good review of it

jan 1, 2012, 3:49pm

>32 mstrust: Nice review of the Bartlett book -- I'd also been curious about it, and it's now added to my wishlist.

My granddaughter loved the Madeline books. When she was about 4, she suprised us one day by standing in front of a mirror and reciting the complete first book.

jan 1, 2012, 4:40pm

Thought the Bartlett book sounded familiar - quick visit to the book page and I recognized the cover (I am such a visual person - titles and authors sometimes allude me but I never forget a book cover!). Need to think about picking up a copy some time.

jan 1, 2012, 9:39pm

>mamzel, psutto, ivyd and Lori
Glad I could peak your interest in that book; my time with it flew by.

mamzel- yes, let's say it's a sign of good luck to start the year with a good book. At least it can't hurt.

ivyd- your granddaughter sounds like she's on her way to big things!

jan 6, 2012, 5:45pm

3. Lord Edgware Dies by Agatha Christie. Lord Edgware is a cruel man who seems to have a kinky streak in him. His wife is the younger and famous actress Jane Wilkinson, but she left him not long after their marriage and has openly wished for his death so she can remarry. When Edgware obliges, Poirot and Hastings think that Lady Edgware is too lucky and too thrilled.

Continuing on with reading A.G. in order of publication. This is one of the more complex plots, with lots of good motives and suspects getting bumped off at a good pace. 4 stars

jan 8, 2012, 6:17pm

4. Bossypants by Tina Fey. Fey tells of growing up in Philadelphia, her first "showbiz" experience with a local youth theater group, and being the ethnic girl in a blond college. Then she begins on the steps that would eventually lead her to become a writer at SNL, then a cast member, and from there to 30 Rock.
This isn't just a recounting of a life that was destined for fame. Fey writes of some experiences many people would have left out- a guy in college who didn't think she was pretty enough to be seen on a date with, the time she beat out a more needy co-worker for a promotion- so it's not a book of jokes, though I did enjoy her answers to hate mail directed at her from the internet. 5 stars

jan 13, 2012, 2:01pm

5. Half-Assed: A Weight-loss Memoir by Jennette Fulda. Fulda had been a chubby child, an obese teenager and a morbidly obese young adult. At almost 400lbs. by her early twenties, she couldn't stand for more than five minutes, she had outgrown even the plus size clothing stores and she'd never had a boyfriend. When her doctor brought up her weight, offering information about surgery, Fulda decided she had let herself go too far.
Beginning with just the few minutes on the treadmill she was capable of, and learning to cook low-fat food rather than eating fast food, Fulda made changes that resulted in an over 200lb. weight loss and a popular blog for others to see her transformation.
Fulda's determination is amazing, even if you have no interest at all in weight loss. The writing is clear and she's honest about how she was treated as a morbidly obese woman. I have to say that I didn't need to have the non-stop attempts at humor, as it usually came off as lame to me, but this is an interesting book for those who like an against-the-odds story. 3 stars

jan 22, 2012, 2:30pm

Wow, I've being moving slowlllyyyy.....

6. Bad Food Britain by Joannna Blythman4 stars

jan 22, 2012, 2:32pm

6. Bad Food Britain by Joannna Blythman. Blythman is an investigative journalist specializing in food. Here she examines the state of food and eating in Britain, exposing the national food revolution as a publicity scam to end the country's reputation for badly cooked, tasteless food. Instead, Blythman says that the U.K. has stopped cooking at all and is now living on ready-made meals, frozen foods, snacks and takeaway. The state of school lunches and home economics are particularly dire, with cooking being removed from the agendas in favor of "food technology" classes where students learn how to create eye-catching packaging but never touch a stove.

This book was published in 2006, so perhaps some things have improved, but not by that much. As a regular reader of magazines like Bon Appetit, I was really surprised by Blythman's evidence that London's food revolution, the one that's been going on for the last 10-15 years and has put London as a major foodie destination after years of ridicule, is a fraud. She states that the majority of restaurants in the capitol, minus the most expensive ones, are having their food supplied by the two major catering suppliers in the country. Ready-made and frozen, so that the restaurants are using their kitchens for heating, not cooking.
Lots of surprising information that will have you packing your own lunch for a couple of days. 4 stars

Redigerat: jan 23, 2012, 6:31am

Is there a list of references in the book? because it sounds a bit far fetched, even in chains like wagamama and Zizzi to pick two random restaurants you can watch them make the food and they're not expensive ones.. I'm intrigued to read it because I'm skeptical of the claims and perhaps it's just that I've not read her evidence?

jan 23, 2012, 11:23am

Hmm, my experience, which is admittedly only one person's) is that the school lunches are of a higher quality in England than here in the US. There, my son's day care had a kitchen making meals from scratch and he would come home telling me about new foods he'd tried like "white broccoli". My daughter's school placed quite an emphasis on eating fruits and vegetables. Currently, they only get the school lunch now and then as it is absolute crap.

I was living in England when that book was published and there were tons of little, independently owned ethnic restaurants. I wonder if the author only looked at large pubs? There were some pub chains I'd totally believe were heating food in microwaves.

I will give her the ease of grocery store take away food. There was a huge variety of pre-made foods at the entrance across from the produce and it was both tasty and quick. Mainly Indian or Thai, I will admit I did pick that up a few times a week.

jan 23, 2012, 3:37pm

43 psutto there is an extensive reference list, many pages long. But it is difficult to take in so much information that contradicts what major food publications have been telling us for years. It seems that Blythman has a career of being a sort of whistleblower. She has four previous books related to the food industry. Whether you believe all she says or not, it's an interesting subject.
The book is now seven years old, so I don't know what, if any, changes have occurred. And I'm sure she wasn't able to cover the majority of London restaurants- I took much of her findings to be generalizations, but still backed by research. Anyway, here are some quotes from the book that may answer your questions. They are taken from the chapter "Renaissance Restaurants".
"Anyone who takes a stroll past a parade of British catering establishments between 10.00 and 12.00 on a weekday morning can count on seeing fleets of 'food service' chilled vans delivering supplies." " the extent that if you scan the public notices in local newspapers, it is now common to see catering licences that have been granted on a 'microwave-only' basis." "In 2005, complete dishes supplied by two such companies-Brakes and 3663- included..." and it goes on to name about 30 gourmet dishes.

>44 RidgewayGirl: RidgewayGirl While Blythman makes a few mentions of schools that offer healthier choices, they are shown as the rarity. Menu options typically sighted are burgers, tinned spaghetti, frozen vegetables that are thrown away, iced buns, jelly or mousse and milk shakes. In the chapter called "Kiddie Food" she sites one school that handed out bagged lunches to the children consisting of a cold sandwich, a sugary "fruit" drink, potato chips, and a sugary cereal bar.

The author did say that those ready meals were handy for a rush day and I think everyone has used them. I know I usually have a complete Indian dinner on hand. Her point was that they weren't meant to be the replacement for home cooking.

jan 23, 2012, 4:50pm

Gordon Ramsey was trying to change restaurants one at a time in his series Restaurant Nightmares. It was pretty scary to see how bad some of those places were before he got in there. Made for good TV!

jan 24, 2012, 6:06am

Thanks for answering, I have relatives in the food industry and did food science as part of my degree and at first glance it seems to be against my experience but I guess I'd better read it to form a proper opinion!

jan 24, 2012, 11:11am

>46 mamzel: mamzel yes, which made it all the more surprising to read in this book that Ramsey promotes a line of potato chips in the U.K. Weird, huh?

>47 psutto: psutto no problem, hope you find the book interesting too. But maybe there is a more recent edition that has updates.

jan 24, 2012, 1:22pm

And Jamie Oliver shills for Sainsbury's. The same store that while I was living there, put out a line aimed at children that looked organic and healthy, while actually being much worse than average, with an astonishing amount of sugar added to the yogurts, for example.

Remember that fuss when some school changed their lunch menu to be reasonably healthy and parents would show up at the school gates with McDonald's for their children?

My daughter's middle school has vending machines selling all sorts of candy and other crap. I love pulling the uneaten healthy stuff out of her lunch bag at the end of the day, along with the empty candy wrapper.

jan 25, 2012, 11:36am

There are ads for cereal on TV these days that just want to make me scream! They are toting the multi-grain ingredient that is the first ingredient listed. So that makes the cereal good, right? They zoom in on the ingredients and circle the whole-grain ingredient but it doesn't quite hide that the next three ingredients are corn syrup, honey, and brown sugar!

jan 25, 2012, 10:31pm

> 49 Ridgewaygirl Yes, it's most likely a matter of getting paid for lending their name to a product and then finding out they need to look into their product deals more closely.
I do remember the parents who brought their kids McDonald's. So the kids can't be blamed if the parents are literally pushing it at them.

>I read the labels on just about everything and I'm surprised when I see packages of rice that list 44% sodium.

feb 6, 2012, 2:43pm

7. Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin. The woman who Lewis Carroll befriended as a child and ultimately based Alice in Wonderland on, recounts her confusing, then unfortunate, relationship with the author that shaped her adult life and led to her losing the man she loved.

This is a novel based on a few facts: Carroll (Charles Dodgson) did have an obsession with photographing very young girls, and the author builds on this and the fact that Alice was a real girl in Oxford whose family was friendly with Dodgson. I'm not aware if any more of the story is based on the truth.
I started out liking the writing, as the beginning is narrating by an elderly and tired Alice. She then goes back to her childhood, to her early friendship with Dodgson, and these chapters concern a child developing a feeling a power as she realizes that, for some reason, a grown man prefers her company to anyone else, and I read with apprehension. But I felt there was a major change in the writing as Alice became an adult and I lost patience, feeling like it had turned into a sappy romance novel, with page upon page of "Woe is me!" from Alice. Here's a sample, taken from a chapter when Alice is hoping for a letter about her sick sweetheart:

"Heartsick. I truly knew the meaning of the word for my heart was sick, ill, wrung with worry; I felt, at times, as if I simply could not go on living, for the poor instrument would give out, unable to absorb any more of my fear and longing. My voice must be mute, but me heart was not; it cried out with every beat."
Sorry, this one just wasn't my cup of tea. 2 stars

feb 7, 2012, 7:43am

Thanks for the review of Alice I Have Been. I'd been thinking of reading it, but it doesn't sounds like it's what I thought it was!

feb 7, 2012, 1:59pm

I picked it up based on a rave recommendation from someone I know, with the information that it was about Alice in Wonderland as an adult. I love Alice in Wonderland, but not this, and I'd be very surprised if the lady who loved this one has read A.I.W. as she's never mentioned it before. But that just shows that everyone has a different fit!

Redigerat: feb 7, 2012, 2:09pm

Very good - I too thought it was Alice as an adult, but since it isn't and really doesn't sound like my type of book, off the wishlist it goes! Not often something gets taken off, so that's good news. :)

feb 7, 2012, 7:56pm

Ha! Glad I could make someone happy!

8. Martin Shaw: The Biography by Stafford Hildred and Tim Ewbank. I should start by explaining to my fellow Americans who Martin Shaw is: a very popular English actor, mostly in television and theater, whose career is now in its fifth decade. Shaw became mega-famous in the 70's show, The Professionals (check out the thousands of clips and music compilations on youtube), then came a two-year run in a play about Elvis' last hours, big budget mini-series on Captain Scott, Cecil Rhodes and The Scarlet Pimpernel, the Judge John Deed series, then having P.D. James herself approve him for the role of Adam Dalgliesh... the guy has had a long and successful career.
This bio would be good for anyone wanting the basics of Shaw's life, and it was clearly written with his cooperation, which means that there are plenty of quotes directly from him, but also means that this bio can read like it's Shaw's own cheerleading squad in places. Three marriages come to an end with barely a blip, television shows that are on the top of the ratings suddenly aren't mentioned again, and dates are given on what seems to be a need-to-know-basis. This certainly isn't the most professional (oh, ha ha) job I've seen, but it isn't the worst either, and it does have some info I hadn't seen elsewhere. Recommended for fans. 3 stars

feb 19, 2012, 6:33pm

Naughty thing, with just one book to review! My reading has suffered as I recently started a part-time job that will last through the spring. It's sorta weird because I haven't worked in nearly three years. Anyway, here is that one precious review:

9. A Mind To Murder by P.D. James. The Steen Psychiatric Clinic caters to the wealthy Londoner whose therapy is more about having the money to be in therapy. The clinic does have some actually ill patients, and some of the staff treats their patients with LSD, but they have no real problems until the day an administrator is found with a chisel in her chest. Investigator Adam Dalgliesh gets to know all the staff members who had a grudge against the unlikable woman.

This is the second Dalgliesh mystery, though I have previously read the third thinking it was the second. I liked this as Dalgliesh has more personal background and there are some really good motives for the murder. 3.5 stars

feb 26, 2012, 2:14pm

10. End Game by Samuel Beckett. Hamm is an angry guy in a wheelchair, Clove is able-bodied but unhappily in Hamm's unpaid service and has been for nearly his whole life. When Hamm bellows for a description of the sea, food, a dog or his painkillers, Clove is there to fetch or deny and to threaten throughout with abandoning the helpless but cruel Hamm.

This play didn't draw me in the way his Waiting For Godot did, the characters aren't as whole in my view, yet it is more for the absurdity that I'd see it. Why are Hamm's parents living in dustbins? 3 stars

mar 4, 2012, 10:40am

11. Keep It Quiet by Richard Hull. Ford, the secretary of the Whitehall Club in London, is the most amiable and spineless of men, prone to agreeing with all and resigned to the daily complaints and scoldings he endures from the club members. But things get much worse after Morrison, one of the most annoying members, is found dead after his dinner, and the chef confesses that he may have accidentally slipped some poison into the man's meal. Ford begins receiving letters and it's clear that someone knows about the murder other than himself and the club doctor who went along with the cover-up.

This mystery is set in the thirties London of upper class society in a world of older men. I had read Hull's previous book, The Murder of My Aunt and loved it as it's a hilarious story of an ineffective and skittish young man attempting to find a way to kill his over-bearing aunt without actually touching her. Keep It Quiet doesn't have the same amount of humor, it's more about getting on with the murder, and then the confession, but it does have funny lines, such as the doctor being so disgusted with the secretary's weight that he can hardly keep from slapping the back of the man's fat neck. A good, gentlemanly read. 3.5 stars

mar 17, 2012, 2:10pm

12. Julie and Julia by Julie Powell. This one is part of my "Everyone Has Read It But Me" challenge category, so I doubt if I need to outline what this book is about, but here goes...

Julie Powell was a NYC office temp who hated her life. While looking through her mother's copy of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, a thought popped into her head that she should cook her way through the book, thereby accomplishing something in her life. And then she decided to blog about the experience, writing about the triumphs and mishaps of having Child in her life every day.

While cooking and cooking disasters are the core of the book, the discussions also cover Powell's government drone job, an epic blackout in NYC, the romantic trials of her friends and often Powell's own marital problems. I have to say that Powell's political views border on the rabid, referring to her co-workers who don't share her outlook as evil, so that was strange. If you saw the movie and didn't read the book, you'll be surprised by how much Powell was cleaned up by the filmmakers, as the real Powell curses like a sailor, drinks and drinks and isn't real hip on cleanliness. But this doesn't detract from it being a good read anyway. 4 stars

mar 17, 2012, 7:49pm

I saw the movie (Meryl Streep was simply fantastic as Julia Child) and I actually gave away my copy of the book after that - maybe I should get another copy after all. :)

mar 18, 2012, 1:33pm

I loved Streep's performance too; it's my favorite part of the movie. And the part where her sister shows up (not in the book at all).

mar 18, 2012, 3:13pm

Meryl Streep is always wonderful. But I too was put off by the depiction of Julie in the movie, and had/have no inclination to read more about her.

mar 20, 2012, 11:54am

My copy of the book included about five pages of her next book, Cleaving, about her training as a butcher. I read through it but ended with no desire to read about dismembering carcasses.

mar 20, 2012, 4:07pm

Boy did that backfire! Instead of maybe considering her next book, it completely turned you off!

mar 20, 2012, 7:59pm

Yep, but then it would have taken a writer of Fitzgerald-like abilities to make me want to read about all the gore of a butcher's day. Now pastry chef, that'd be different...

mar 25, 2012, 1:39pm

Today is my 4th Thingaversary! So of course I've bought some books-
The Book of Lost Books
Hate Mail
The play The Lion in Winter because I love the movie so much.

mar 25, 2012, 2:41pm

Happy Thingaversary!

mar 25, 2012, 11:19pm

Happy Thingaversary!

mar 26, 2012, 9:31pm

Thanks Judy and Dave!

13. Lost Empires by J.B. Priestley. A novel written as a memoir, this is narrated by Richard Herncastle, the famous English painter. Left poor and on his own at twenty, Richard is surprised to be rescued by the black sheep of the family, his Uncle Nick, a magician on the traveling music hall circuit of 1913. Becoming part of Nick's act, learning about thinking on one's feet and living with the people who made their living moving from stage to stage gives Richard experiences he never would have had in his tiny Northern town.

On the surface, this probably sounds like a book of sweet nostalgia for the days of the Edwardian music halls. The world of acrobats, dog acts and audiences adoring grown women dressed as little girls are remembered, but not with fondness. Richard's dealings with his prickly Uncle Nick, his attractions to women and his growing confidence make up the real plot, but we also get an affair with an older woman, violence and infidelities, a murder and Uncle Nick's treatment of his girlfriend Cissie is the opposite of romantic. Highly recommended. 5 stars

mar 27, 2012, 1:59pm

"So of course I've bought some books"

Perfect way to celebrate! :) Happy Thingaversary!!

mar 27, 2012, 5:26pm

Thanks Eva!

mar 28, 2012, 1:56am

Happy belated Thingaversary!

mar 28, 2012, 8:39pm

Thanks Lori!

mar 31, 2012, 8:31pm

14. Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson. This is an ER by blogger Lawson ( who writes of her weird childhood in rural Texas with a father who was way too interested in dead animals, taking it to the emotionally-scarring-the-children level, then on to her rebellious teenage years, meeting her husband and dealing with some serious ailments, including her miscarriages and extreme social anxiety. Most of the chapters are pretty funny, some are obviously schtick and a few are clearly written because there was no way someone could be a writer, have the experience and not write about them, painful as they are. I've read memoir-type books that are suppose to be funny, and a lot of them just aren't, but Lawson has a really bizarre outlook that's entertaining. Her weekend in the wine country with her new friends and the visit to the acupuncturist are both pretty good stories. 4 stars

apr 6, 2012, 12:28pm

15. Hate Mail by M M Garcia. This is an unusual, non-fiction book in a spiral-bound hardcover. The author begins with explaining how the premise came about: she noticed that people bought greeting cards that expressed the sentiments they were incapable of saying themselves. Garcia thought, what if there were cards that covered not just happy or sad occasions, but also the really awkward or resentful ones too? She gathered actual stories, like the woman who was dismayed to find that her new boyfriend's grandfather would corner her for an open-mouthed kiss, or the co-worker who stunk the place up with weird food and tattled on everyone to the boss, and created unique "greeting" cards to fit these moments. 3.5

16. Xenophobe's Guide to the Aussies by Ken Hunt. I'm a fan of this series of slim books that cover many of the world's populations. They're usually written by a native and fun while still giving a balanced look at a nation's character. I knew Australia was hot and the people relaxed, but apparently swatting flies provides a lot of exercise! This book gives a picture of the rugged continent and it's varied residents. 4 stars

apr 10, 2012, 2:25pm

17. Orchid Fever by Eric Hansen. Hansen spent six years delving into everything orchid-related, which began as a simple desire to help an indigenous tribe in Borneo earn some needed money before their land was stripped. A few phone calls into the "orchid world" looking for answers led to mysterious phone calls from people wanting to know who Hansen was. Feeling he had stumbled into more intrigue than expected, Hansen pursued a chain of hobbyists, breeders, scientists and government heads and discovered along the way that the laws intended to protect wild orchids from poachers were actually being used by some high ranking personnel to raid competing greenhouses, halt scientific research, and in case after case, have thousands of rare plants confiscated and left to die.
Not that the entire book is an expose of the corruption or ineptitude of European agricultural lawmakers, or "the orchid police" as they are known. Hansen travels the world to meet interesting orchid collectors and find out why they have devoted much of their life to a plant with such specific requirements. In Paris he met a teenage, award-winning collector whose strange life made him the target of rumors among the orchid world, and in Seattle he met an elderly woman whose basement has been filled with her beloved orchids for forty years. In New York he was able to observe and interview the top "nose" at Shiseido and in Turkey he ate elastic orchid tuber ice cream. This book really does cover every aspect of the orchid world- the businessmen, the conservationists, the weirdos, and lots of back-stabbers. 4.5 stars

apr 10, 2012, 2:52pm

I used to raise orchids when I lived in the orchid-friendly environment of the Caribbean but never reached the fanaticism you found in this book. I recently read Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean which also covered all the good and bad people who are obssessed with orchids.

apr 10, 2012, 8:31pm

Yes, looking at the review page for that one, they do seem to cover some of the same topics. I guess there's enough orchidmania to go round.

apr 11, 2012, 8:56pm

18. The Lion in Winter by James Goldman. This is the play that the movie came from, and it's one of the most exciting and witty plays written. My edition has an interesting introduction by Goldman in which he relates how many people believe that the movie was made because the play was a big hit, which wasn't true. It was the movie, released over two years after the play had closed its brief Broadway run (with Christopher Walken as King Philip) that turned the play into a classic.

It's Christmas, 1183, and the three princes, Richard, Geoffrey and John have gathered at their father's palace. Joining them from her exile is their mother, Queen Eleanor, who Henry has kept under guard somewhere for ten years while he took their French adopted daughter, Princess Alais, as his lover. On this day, Alais' brother, the king of France, has come to demand either the return of his sister or the fulfillment of Henry's contract: that Alais marry Richard and inherit the Aquitaine. That Henry does not want to give up Alais, his property or be ordered about are the immediate problems, but the bigger problem, and the plot of the play, is that Henry and Eleanor were and are horrible parents. Richard rages and openly desires to kill his father, Geoffrey repays his family for neglecting him by setting them up to be caught in his lies and John throws tantrums to guilt his father into giving him the crown. The dialogue is sharp, brutal and funny in a "see, your family could be worse" way that I love. 5 stars

apr 11, 2012, 9:38pm

Great review of The Lion of Winter!

apr 12, 2012, 10:51am

Thanks, Lori!

apr 12, 2012, 12:45pm

@ 80 -- Hmm, I haven't seen the movie in ages, but your review makes me think I should bust out that DVD!

apr 12, 2012, 1:15pm

>80 mstrust: Very nice review! It makes me want to watch the movie again, too. Strangely, it had never occurred to me to read the play!

Redigerat: apr 12, 2012, 4:35pm

"It was the movie...that turned the play into a classic"
Now that is interesting - I assumed (like everyone else, apparently) that the success of the play was the impetus for the movie.

apr 12, 2012, 9:18pm

>83 christina_reads:, 84 funny that last night I had the book on the coffee table and happened to come upon the movie playing on TCM. Glad to hear from other fans of the movie; what a great cast!

>85 -Eva-: yes, Goldman's intro says the play ran for something like 83 shows, then disappeared, forever, he had expected. There are some differences- there is more dialogue from John and Geoffrey in the play, and just a bit more from Alais. But most of the dialogue is word for word.

apr 24, 2012, 11:51am

19. Jeeves in the Morning by P.G. Wodehouse. My first entry in my Wodehouse category for my '12 in 12' challenge. Bertie and Jeeves head to the country village of Steeple Bumpleigh, a place Jeeves has longed to visit for its fishing and where Bertie has avoided as it contains a. horrid Aunt Agatha b. her angry husband, Uncle Percy c. Percy's overachieving son, Edwin and d. Florence, a girl Bertie counts himself lucky to have not married.
But old pals Boko and Nobby rope Bertie into helping them gain Uncle Percy's permission to wed, which leads to too much time with Florence, a policeman determined to avenge himself and Jeeves doing his best to help all the idiots who surround him. Contains a great method for getting a girl who loves her little brother to hate you.4 stars

apr 24, 2012, 9:18pm

Love Wodehouse's sense of humour.... and such entertaining characters!

apr 25, 2012, 1:28pm

My favorite Jeeves and Wooster story is Jeeves and the Song of Songs; frenemy Tuppy Glossop shows up with his opera singer fiance and Bertie gets to break up his engagement.

apr 29, 2012, 11:58pm

20. I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane Crosley. This is a collection of essays by Crosley, who writes for The New York Times and Salon among others. Mostly humorous, sometimes observational, like in "Ursula Cookie" she writes of when she was an assistant to a book publisher who in just days went from an encouraging mentor to someone who threw manuscripts aimed at the skull. I also liked "You On a Stick", the recounting of a childhood friend Crosley hadn't seen or heard from in years who called one day to ask her to be a bridesmaid. Backed into a corner, Crosley found herself forced to spend months of dinners and bridesmaid outings pretending to adore a woman whom she no longer knew, and "Smell This" which had the author playing detective after a dinner guest left something personal on her floor. 3.5 stars

maj 4, 2012, 3:16pm

21. Eating for England by Nigel Slater. A thick book of short essays about British foods that Slater grew up with, or his parents did and his observations about newer choices in the market. I had a hard time putting it down, as this book explains what barley water, treacle tart or good Lord, spotted dick, are, as you hear them mentioned in a movie or a book and wonder. Slater also writes about many British treats that are now extinct or on the verge and manages to bring his grumpy father and racist aunt into his food memories. A must for Anglophiles or foodies. 5 stars

maj 4, 2012, 4:35pm

Don't forget toad in the hole!

maj 4, 2012, 8:59pm

I've made my version of toad in the hole many times and really like it-but I had to spice the traditional recipe up with garlic and onions as my husband thought it was too bland. But it isn't in the book, as Slater confines himself to things that can be bought or memories of his childhood snacks or observations such as the differences in present day cooks. No recipes at all though he does list the main ingredients of whatever he's talking about to give you an idea of why he loves/hates it.

maj 11, 2012, 8:05pm

22. Book Lust by Nancy Pearl. For anyone who loves books on books that lead you to finding more books, Book Lust is separated by topic, such as "Alaska", "Magical Realism", "Sea Stories" and "Three Hankie Reads". Pearl, a librarian and book reviewer, lists the best known, most influential or her personal favorites for each topic and gives the reader brief plot outlines, making finding the book for your own taste easy. Oh, I ended up with a long list of books I want and now I need to find the sequel, More Book Lust. 3.5 stars

Redigerat: maj 13, 2012, 4:33pm

Have you ever seen the Nancy Pearl action figure?

maj 13, 2012, 6:18pm

@ 95 -- WHY does Nancy Pearl have an action figure? She's not THAT well known, is she? I've never read her books, and they certainly might be great, but I must confess I'm surprised!

maj 13, 2012, 9:56pm

>95 mamzel: mamzel Sweet! I wonder if she makes a "shhh" sound when her finger is to her lips!

>96 christina_reads: christina Because nerds need heroes too.

maj 13, 2012, 11:09pm

Point taken, mstrust. :)

maj 14, 2012, 11:45am

>98 christina_reads: Although when you think about it...aren't all action figures for either children or grown-up nerds, lol!

23. The Bride Wore Black by Cornell Woolrich. One by one, men are dying horrible deaths, but these deaths aren't random. Though the men seem to have no connection to each other, each was last seen in the company of a woman, whether a blonde or brunette, stunning or just pretty, there was always a woman around when the guy died. Detective Wanger picks up the case a week after the first death and wants to meet these mysterious women.

This was published in 1941 and Woolrich is a very good representation of crime noir writing at the height of its popularity. This book was filmed by Francois Truffaut in the 60's and his story Rear Window was the basis for the Hitchcock film. I'll be seeking out more from him. 4 stars

maj 14, 2012, 11:57am

She is indeed a hero to librarians. She has a most excellent blog read by many found here.

I gave one of the figures to the librarian I worked with and she kept it on top of her computer.

maj 17, 2012, 1:35pm

I just checked out her blog and I'm happy to see that she has more books than I'd even hoped for. Thanks for linking that for me!

maj 18, 2012, 1:24pm

I'm starting my summer reads, and like last year, they can cover anything from warm weather, travel, the sea or just something about the book puts me in mind of being hot and miserable. How's that for reasoning? Here's the first:

24. Some Girls: My Life in a Harem by Jillian Lauren. Lauren was a stripper in the New York clubs at sixteen and a call girl to the wealthy at eighteen, all the while trying to be an actress. It's this need for what she calls "adventure" that got her to a palace in Brunei owned by Prince Jefri, brother of the Sultan of Brunei, at the time the wealthiest man in the world. Lauren spent several months living in guesthouses on palace grounds, flying to places like Kuala Lumpur for all-expense-paid shopping sprees and attending the prince's nightly parties of champagne and back-stabbing among the women. For a month or two she became the prince's official "second-favorite girlfriend" and reaped the rewards and status that brought.

Lauren's descriptions of the life she led in Brunei is very interesting. She describes a world shut off from anything normal, like being able to go to bed when you're tired, and describes the troop of guards who kept her locked in a room for hours waiting for the prince to show. She describes how she came to need the prince's approval as this lifestyle centered solely around him, with the other women competing for their position in the harem and the jewels and privileges it brought, though the man seemed unfulfilled and detached from the lifestyle he had created. So this part was interesting to me, but Lauren herself wasn't someone I clicked with as she made dumb choices too often for me to relate to. You just can't avoid the "I'll get even with you, Daddy" attitude that screams off the pages, and the constant whine of "I'm an actress, I'm doing this for my acting" was phony. About 150 pages of the book are her reminisces, explanations and journey to find a birth mother, so it's more of a memoir of her life from the ages of eighteen and nineteen, but the look inside the Brunei Royal Family is the reason to read it. 3 stars

maj 21, 2012, 11:40am

25. Plane Insanity by Elliott Hester. Hester was an airline attendant for sixteen years with a major airline and this is a book of essays about what he saw in his years of international travel. From being assaulted by out-of-control passengers, performing an emergency medical procedure, watching a planeload of airsick passengers or randy couples, Hester also writes about what the flight crew is really like once the flight is over.
I didn't put this one in my Autobiography/memoir" category as he often has a co-worker relaying an incident in their own words. I should point out that this book was published in 2001, clearly before 9/11 changed the way we fly, and Hester tends to get a little too poetic in his prose for my taste, but it's an interesting read that makes you thankful you weren't on any of the flights mentioned. 3.5 stars

maj 27, 2012, 8:09pm

26. A Land of Two Halves by Joe Bennett. Bennett is an Englishman who moved to New Zealand in the mid-eighties and had taught in Christchurch for sixteen years at the time this book was written. Now 46 years old, he realizes that he's never explored his adopted country so decides to do what he had done all over the world as a young man- stick out his thumb and see where it takes him. He hitches along the perimeter of first the south island, which is less populated and largely working class, then does the same on the north island, sharing rides with both the very poor and the very rich and receiving all kinds of free advice with those lifts.
This is the second book I've read from Bennett ( Musn't Grumble ) but I think this may have been his first book. Anyway, I like him. Unlike so many travel memoirs, Bennett isn't a cheerful lad and is quite curmudgeonly at times. But he also sees himself objectively and tells the reader when he suspects he is the problem. I also like that he reacts to weirdos the way most of us do, telling them to go away, rather than trying to convince the reader that he finds their company enchanting.
You would think that reading about someone having this much time to think while waiting for a ride would be a little dull, but this guy is entertaining. 4 stars

maj 28, 2012, 5:29am

Nice reveiw of Land of Two Halves, this was one I enjoyed last year.

maj 28, 2012, 10:55am

I may wish to read this next year if I join the British Commonwealth challenge - or I may just want to read it anyway. I was happy to discover that my library has it.

maj 28, 2012, 11:32am

>105 SouthernKiwi: Thanks, Alana! I'll probably read as many of his books as I can find. * Runs off to see if there actually are more*

>106 thornton37814: Or his Musn't Grumble (don't know why the touchstone for this never works) is him making his way around England to visit the most dull/pointless sights.

jun 3, 2012, 12:52pm

27. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. Narrated by Jake Barnes, a group of American friends travel from Paris to Spain to see the Running of the Bulls and to fish. They are joined by the engaged English couple, Brett and Mike.


It's the addition of these two who ruin the trip for everyone. Mike is a likeable man when sober, but as the days go on he is mainly drunk and obnoxious. Probably because he's in love with Brett, who spreads misery wherever she goes. Beautiful and cruel, she sleeps with anyone she can and also strings Jake along in an emotional affair, as he was wounded in combat and can't do anything more.


The group visit the bullfights and the ways of a traditional fight and the men of the bull ring are described in detail, which is especially important to those of us who have never understood it.
This is my third foray into Hemingway. I read A Moveable Feast and loved it. Then read maybe 30 pages of The Old Man and the Sea and hated it. I like this one very much, though I'll never like Brett. 4 stars

jun 3, 2012, 3:32pm

Last year I read Hemingway: The Paris Years, which gave an account of the trip that formed the basis for The Sun Also Rises. Interesting stuff.

jun 3, 2012, 4:44pm

That sounds interesting. And sad too, that there was some autobiographical to such an unhappy story.

jun 3, 2012, 9:25pm

Well, the war wound was not autobiographical. But the trip was an unhappy one.

jun 11, 2012, 7:18pm

28. Frommer's 2012 Las Vegas. I go through a Vegas (and San Francisco) guide every two years or so to keep up on what's going on. While I make frequent trips there, it's usually for just a few days and much of it is taken with family. My all-time favorite Vegas guidebook is The Irreverant Guide to Las Vegas, but that hasn't been published in a couple of years, so I make do. And this has a lot of current info that does acknowledge that the recession has hit Vegas too. 4 stars

29. Maple Sugar: From Sap to Syrup: The History, Lore, and How-to Behind This Sweet Treat by Tim Herd. Herd is a naturalist who teaches children's classes in the Poconos about maples trees and the area in general, so that may be why this book starts out as if it's intended for children, though it's listed in the cooking genre and covers history, Native mythology, science and winds up with cooking. Herd explains how tree tapping began and how it has changed through hundreds of years, the process used in a commercial sugar shack and how to cook sap at home. There is also a section on identifying maple varieties and their sugar content.

I once spent a vacation going through Canada and Vermont tasting and buying maple syrup. We even went to the Maple Syrup Museum. Yes, it's real, and it's pretty much how you'd picture a maple syrup museum. It was awesome. 4 stars

jun 12, 2012, 8:58am

Yes, it's real, and it's pretty much how you'd picture a maple syrup museum. I'm so jealous! I love maple syrup and had a great time at a maple syrup farm when I was in Vermont a couple of years ago...

jun 12, 2012, 9:04pm

I liked that it seemed as if every fourth person in Vermont had a stand on the road selling jams, honey, produce... and we happened to be there during the state fair, so had to taste maple soft serve.

Check out the museum site. At the end of the tour they have a table of syrup grades and spoons so you can help yourself.

jun 20, 2012, 7:48pm

30. The Voysey Inheritance by Harley Granville-Barker and David Mamet. Written by Granville-Barker over one hundred years ago, then tweaked and revived by Mamet a few years ago, this play concerns the discovery, at the end of his life, that patriarch Voysey has been pilfering from his clients for years and using the money to finance his own family's lavish lifestyle. It is only when young son Edward joins the firm and discovers his father's dishonesty that the family members must decide how important integrity and honor is to each of them. 3.5 stars

31. The Sandman Library: IV Season of the Mists by Neil Gaiman. A book of the the ultra-popular Sandman series, this one involving the Endless, the group of siblings that decide man's fate. This was the first of the series (I actually thought it was more complete than it was) for me. 3 stars

jun 25, 2012, 6:48pm

32. Sweet Invention: A History of Dessert by Michael Krondl. Beginning thousands of years ago with the sweet milk and cheese treats of India and coming up to the current trendy cupcakes, this seems to cover every bit of information concerning baked goods from the most influential areas of the world.
I wish I had loved this book, and in the hands of many authors, like Steve Almond (Candyfreak), it would have been lots of fun, but while Krondl is an extraordinary researcher, he's a dull writer in desperate need of a strong-willed editor, because he seems to have included every single piece of information he uncovered. Seriously, it feels that nothing was left out, whether it had anything to do with the item being discussed or not, so it quickly became a slog for me. You get every name that a certain pastry may have ever gone by, who may or may not have created it, the year and place... the author is great at names and dates, so if you want the dry facts, this is your book. But if you want entertaining history look elsewhere because even Marie Antoinette is just a stick figure here. I also was put off by the sudden change in POV in the writing that occurred every so often. It would go for ten pages in third person then there would be a first person account, then back to third person. It could be just me not clicking with this writer, as he has some legit credits, but he bored me. 2.5 stars

jun 25, 2012, 7:17pm

116> You rated that one higher than I did when I read it.

jun 25, 2012, 8:13pm

It was a conscious nod to his research skills, which one has to admire. If I had rated solely on my enjoyment it would have been lower.

jun 29, 2012, 3:31pm

33. The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie. Poirot is sent a taunting letter challenging him to figure out what the writer intends to do in the city of Andover on a certain date. Of course, Poirot doesn't like to be teased so it bothers him, but what can he do about such a strange letter? He and his friend Hastings, along with Scotland Yard's arrogant Crome, soon discover that someone is intent upon murdering their way through the alphabet.

Oh, it's been a while since I've sunk into the comfort of a Christie novel, and this is a good one, though the reader isn't kept in the dark. The plot is different from the majority of Christie's, as Poirot and Hastings point out themselves that this is the first time they have investigated murders done by a person unknown to the victims with no apparent malice against them. Also interesting is that this book, written in the mid-thirties, pre-dates the term "serial killer" by calling the murderer a "chain killer" and "series killer", which shows that this type of murderer was perhaps in the papers more. 4 stars

jul 1, 2012, 8:47pm

34. Saved by Edward Bond. Young Len and Pam meet and head back to her parents' for a casual, anonymous encounter, but quickly find they share the same sense of humor and Len is actually a good guy. Pam's parents let a room in their South London house to him with no thought other than his being employed and paying rent. This arrangement doesn't work for long because Pam is no more of a deep thinker than her parents. She quickly meets Fred and her love for Len turns to hate in an instant as she flaunts her new relationship, has a baby with her indifferent new boyfriend and turns out to be the worst mother a child could have.

This play was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in 1965, before a members-only audience. The theatre had been refused a license to perform the play to the general public due to its graphic language and the now infamous scene of a baby being stoned to death by a group of young men (the baby is never seen or heard, it's just the carriage and actors onstage). Nearly fifty years later that scene is still brutal, but its reason for being, and the point of the play is still valid. Pam, Fred and his group of friends, and to some point, Pam's parents, are barely civilized. The ability to reason and see consequences, are seriously impaired. Pam screeches out every bit of her anger;it's her first response to even a misplaced magazine. Fred and his friends lack the humanity that allows people to attach themselves to another person. Other than having mates to drink with and bum cigarettes off, they don't really like each other. Len is the one who attempts to cobble together a home for himself with Pam and her horrible family, who tries to get Pam interested in her own child, and the reader wishes he would flee, as the fact that he's the only one here with a conscience leaves him so isolated. 4 stars

jul 8, 2012, 1:16pm

35. Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. Young Tom worries his Aunt Polly, falls in love with Becky Thatcher, runs away with Huck Finn and Joe Harper to be pirates, witnesses a murder and saves an innocent man from hanging, hunts buried treasure and disappears with Becky for three days.

When I started this book I wasn't sure if I'd ever read it or not, probably because we're all so familiar with pieces of the story, like the episode of whitewashing the fence, and there have been so many movies made from the book, that I thought this might be a re-read. But no, it was a whole new book and a fun one too. The part where the schoolchildren get even with their cruel schoolmaster is pretty good.
I had always had the impression that Tom and Huck were sort of best friends, but while the two do have more dangerous adventures together, Tom has other friends and actually says at one point that he doesn't like being seen with Huck due to the orphaned boy's poor reputation. I guess I'm just pointing out that there are nuances even to Tom. 4 stars

jul 9, 2012, 9:37pm

36. Wreck The Halls: Cake Wrecks Gets Festive by Jen Yates. I know there are other Cake Wreck fans here who will appreciate this book. Not just horrible Christmas cakes, no, there are Hanukkah, Halloween and Thanksgiving cakes to laugh at. Even if you check the website regularly, this book still has new material. 4 stars

jul 10, 2012, 1:18pm

Cakewrecks is so much fun, isn't it! Some people should just be banned from ever touching fondant!! :)

jul 10, 2012, 5:25pm

Yeah, the bad wedding cakes are the saddest, but the ones that freak me out are shaped like body parts. Especially the pregnant belly or sleeping baby cakes. Why would anyone want to practice cannibalism at a baby shower?

jul 14, 2012, 1:13pm

37. The Professionals 9: No Stone by Ken Blake. In this volume, Bodie, Doyle and Cowley are trying to catch escaped mental patient Quinn, an ex-Special Forces man who had been tortured by the KGB to the point of a mental breakdown. Now he's mostly robotic, except for the flashbacks that lead him to want revenge on the chain of command that sent him to Russia, and Cowley is on that list. The second story is about a small terrorist group, led by a girl from a wealthy family, who wants to destroy the British judicial system. 4 stars

jul 21, 2012, 2:28pm

38. London Holiday by Richard Peck. Margo, Les and Julia had grown up together in their Missouri town, been inseparable in high school, then gone their own ways. Julia had married a wealthy local boy and quickly divorced him, which provided her with the means to go to school, then New York, where she became a successful interior designer. Margo married the intellectual Reg, which meant putting her own dreams of academic success aside to work as an elementary school teacher and help pay for his schooling while raising their daughter. Les married into another wealthy family and twenty years later finds that she fills her calendar with charity meetings in order to have something to do, while Margo's husband has now divorced her and their daughter hates both her parents. Julia has money and status but thinks of nothing but her work. Through the years the friends have kept in touch, but when Margo is shot, the three decide to take a break from their lives by spending ten days in London. What was supposed to be a time for the three to have fun and forget their unhappy lives for a bit is ruined from the start by Margo bringing along her horrible teenage daughter.
Though each woman has a distinct personality and her own problems, I still found this to be a little superficial. Not bad at all, I just didn't feel that the author created people I cared about, with the exception of Mrs. Smith-Porter, the owner of the London B&B the women stay at. Towards the end, Julia's storyline even devolves into standard chick-lit cliches, complete with aristocracy. 3 stars

jul 27, 2012, 12:02am

39. Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure by Sarah Macdonald. Macdonald worked as a journalist in radio in her native Australia until making the decision to move to New Dehli to be with her boyfriend. Since he was also a journalist covering wars and disasters in the region, Macdonald found that she had so much time alone to travel the country and explore the different ethnic groups, religions, gender roles, world views, entertainments and food. Coming to the country an atheist, Macdonald eventually began attending workshops and religious events, some extremely intense, in hopes of learning why a certain belief would draw someone from another life. Along the way she moved from cynic to falling into the trap of wanting to belong, something I had hoped wasn't what the book was about. But the journalist and storyteller in her always beat out the latest religious attachments and her story is fascinating because she befriends so many people, from the high caste to servants, hangs with famous Bollywood stars, loses her hair and runs from lepers. I could never spend two years in the heat and dust and deprivation she describes in much of her travels but I recommend this book. 4.5 stars

aug 4, 2012, 1:54pm

40. The Gondola Scam by Jonathan Gash. Lovejoy attends a secret professionals-only antiques auction and is mystified and offended that his client would be taken in by the fake painting being offered, and worse, bids high enough to win it. When the client is murdered so soon after the auction, it's clear that someone didn't want him to have the fake. Lovejoy is pulled into a family business that sends him to Venice looking for the source of the fake artwork.

This was my first Lovejoy novel, though I've seen a few episodes of the t.v. series. There are good points here- Lovejoy is self-deprecating but full of insider information about antiques and how to make forgeries (something he dabbles in himself) and he makes some pointed observations about human behavior. He's also incredibly mysaginistic and has zero morals. What didn't work for me was the whole grand plan towards the end, as it was too difficult to follow all those minute movements the author was describing. Not a bad story and I have another Lovejoy on the shelf to try. 3 stars

aug 8, 2012, 12:54pm

41. Nice To See It, To See It, Nice: The 1970's in front of the telly by Brian Viner. Viner is a newspaper columnist and television critic who grew up in Northern England and seems to remember every show his family enjoyed during his teen years in the seventies. Chapters in this book discuss the hit shows like "The Sweeney", "The Professionals", "Fawlty Towers", "I, Claudius" and the impact on he and his schoolmates from the enormous amount of American shows imported. Other chapters on the pioneers of British cooking shows and the rise and fall of chat show host Simon Dee introduced me to names I'd never heard before, and as Viner was a critic at a large London paper, he's had the opportunity to meet many of the people he grew up watching and includes bits of his interviews.
Even though many of the performers and shows discussed in the book were new to me, I ate it up. And I found that a lot of what he mentioned could be found on Youtube, like clips of Simon Dee's show. I do have two gripes: first, throughout the book, in every chapter, Viner compares his own childhood to his children's and is filled with pity for them. This was such an old man moan and I'm sure I was rolling my eyes as much as his teenagers were. Secondly, it's a book about a visual medium, yet didn't have a single photograph. Which is kinda weird. Otherwise it's highly recommended even for those who want to read about England in this decade in general, as he frequently goes off on little sidetrips discussing what was happening in the country or in his personal life at the time a particular show aired. 4 stars

aug 14, 2012, 3:12pm

42. Death in the Clouds by Agatha Christie. It's 1934, the age or romantic air travel and Poirot is among the passengers aboard the Prometheus traveling from Paris to Croydon. Just before landing, a steward notices that one passenger, Madame Giselle, isn't responding and he brings over Dr. Bryant, who confirms the lady is dead. Of course, Poirot has a look and points out that the deceased has a mark on her neck, and there on the floor is a thorn used in blow-pipes. So someone among the dozen in the cabin has murdered a quiet Frenchwoman traveling alone who apparently had no friends or family, but managed to know plenty of people.

I gave this one four stars because I though I had it figured out very early and turned out to be way off. There are plenty of red herrings, so many that even Poirot's head hurts. 4 stars

aug 21, 2012, 5:40pm

43.Typhoid Mary by Anthony Bourdain. A modern bio on the infamous disease-carrier who managed to kill people and sicken many more through her cooking. Bourdain's take on her life is to explain the difficult economic and social situation Mary Mallon would have come from in Ireland, and the reasons she had for continuing to cook for others even after she had been informed of her contagiousness. While not a thick book, it does a lot towards portraying Mallon as more than an unthinking, self-centered woman. 4 stars

aug 22, 2012, 1:48am

I have always wondered about the story of Typhoid Mary. Adding Bourdain's book to my For Later list!

aug 22, 2012, 4:45pm

Thanks for stopping in, Lori!

44. American Nerd by Benjamin Nugent. This is a surprisingly well-researched non-fiction that explores how certain things, like debate club, became associated with nerds, the origins of nerdy literary characters, the part that race plays and whether nerdiness is actually autism or Asperger's syndrome. Woven throughout, and especially at the end, are Nugent's personal memories of being a bullied child who grew into a nerd with friends who gathered to play D&D in the library, carefully avoiding discussions of each boy's unhappy home life. 3.5 stars

aug 27, 2012, 2:24pm

45. Secret Lives of Great Authors by Robert Schnakenberg. After a brief bio and explanation of why an author became famous, or even, iconic, their chapter is broken up into smaller sections of juicy gossip involving serious character flaws, kinks, scandals or just the unearthing of little-known facts. Who knew that Oscar Wilde's teeth were black due to mercury treatment, that H.G. Wells met and liked Stalin or that Tolkien was known around Oxford for trying to force other cars off the road? And Agatha Christie's father was American, which is something I'd never heard before, and the whole mess with Hemingway's favorite son is bizarre.

If you tend to like The People's Almanac type books, as I do, because they lead you to authors and give good backstories, you'll probably like this one. Added bonus are the drawings of each author, usually doing something anti-social such as Alcott cuddling a bottle of laudanum. 4 stars

sep 1, 2012, 1:45pm

I've added a bunch of titles to my Autumn/Halloween category so check it out and see if there's one you had on your list too. I'll be starting very soon as it's a big stack and I'll just pick off as many as I can by November 1st.

sep 1, 2012, 1:47pm

Holy Cow sounds interesting--I am wishlisting it.

sep 2, 2012, 6:18pm

I hope you enjoy it too, Rhonda, and thanks for stopping by. I envy you your weather in Portland!

Redigerat: sep 6, 2012, 2:58pm

46. Tender is the Night by F.Scott Fitzgerald. Young, beautiful and a successful movie star , Rosemary meets a group a friends on a Riviera beach and is immediately included in their parties and gossip. It doesn't take long before she's under the spell of the group leaders, Dick and Nicole Diver, a pair who exude confidence and happiness, but Rosemary has been schooled by Mother to go after what she wants, so the young actress pursues the much older psychiatric doctor, exposing the secrets that have kept his marriage and career limping along for years.

When I read The Great Gatsby a few years ago it knocked me over- the writing is amazing. I understand that this book sold about half of what T.G.G. did on its first printing, which really is confounding as it's an excellent book. I didn't love like I do the other, but that's okay, because it's still great writing. Yes, it is almost entirely happiness-free and there were parts that lagged a bit for me, such as Dick's history pre-Nicole, but then I'd become fascinated again and whip through the pages. Anyone who knows the slightest about the Fitzgeralds lives together will recognize some characters. 4stars

47. Interior Desecrations by James Lileks. This was a re-read from one of the funniest writers. Imagine shiny silver wallpaper, plastic swivel chairs, throw rugs that look like a skinned yeti...This is a collection of the ugliest things ever done to living spaces. The only explanation is that it was the 70's and there were a lot of drugs around. 4 stars

Redigerat: sep 15, 2012, 1:06pm

Here we go with the first of my Autumn/Halloween reads. I've been looking forward to these for a long time!

48. Bedlam: London and Its Mad by Catharine Arnold. A history of the infamous lunatic asylum that operated in London for hundreds of years and became a byword for chaos. Arnold traces all aspects of the institution, from its founders, doctors, policies, patients and reputation. The author does take some asides, such as including King George III's history of insanity and treatments (he was not an inmate of Bedlam), but the added information creates a more complete picture of the place and time. A solid read for its subject and history of London in general. 4 stars

49. Extreme Pumpkins II by Tom Nardone. Nardone is famous for his weird and outright aggressive jack o' lanterns, and I have copied a couple of his ideas in the past, such as the "conjoined twins". This book includes the disgusting "snot-shooter pumpkin", a cool "tiki pumpkin", the baby inspired "full diaper pumpkin" and the "suburban nightmare pumpkin", in which you jam your pumpkin onto your gatepost so the neighbors can watch it rot and hate you. All the carvings include an equipment list and instructions and Nardone includes additional thoughts throughout. 4 stars

sep 17, 2012, 12:35am

Bedlam: London and Its Mad goes on the wishlist. I hadn't even planned any creepy Halloween reads this year - I think I'll set to it! :)

sep 17, 2012, 2:31pm

Glad I inspired you, Eva, as blackdogbooks inspired many of us to read creepy stuff for Fall a couple of years ago. Now I start digging around my shelves and can't believe how many books I have that are perfect for the season.

sep 17, 2012, 2:43pm

I have just joined library thing and I am unsure of how this challenge works, how many books a month are you expected to read, etc

sep 17, 2012, 4:29pm

->142 adelesymonds:
Welcome! There's no set number of books per month to read, instead you set up your own challenge using 12 categories that you pick yourself (they can be as wise or as narrow as you like). Some people are doing a "full" 12-in-12, which will total 144 books this year, but many of us are reading less (and some more) than that - it's totally up to you! The main thing is chatting with the rest of us about what you're reading and if it's any good. And, of course, causing other people's wishlists to grow. :)

sep 17, 2012, 6:44pm

Thanks for that, Eva, it's a good briefing.

>142 adelesymonds: You might want to browse around the threads and see the different challenges people make for themselves to get some ideas. I understand the 2013 Challenge Group has been set-up already so that would be a chance for you to make your own. And welcome to LT!

sep 18, 2012, 8:22pm

50. How To Disappear Completely and Never Be Found by Sara Nickerson. Twelve year-old Margaret and her seven year-old sister live on the Washington coast with their indifferent mother, their father having drown several years before. Life is dull as Mom wakes up from her naps only to go to work and do laundry. So a sudden trip to a nearby island to see a broken down house makes Margaret suspicious and sets her, along with new friend, Tina Louise, to solving the mystery of why the family owns a house she never knew about, why is it filled with so much junk, and how a reclusive comic book author knows so much about her dad.

This story is sad at first, with the mother's parenting being affected by depression, and Margaret filling in much of the mothering for her little sister, but the story becomes about Margaret's determination and courage. She meets Tina Louise, a girl whose mother is a therapist and who gives Margaret such encouragement to start her adventure that Margaret hears the other girl's voice offering advice throughout, like the Cheshire Cat. Included in the story are pages of of the comic book that a local boy, Boyd, collects about his hero, Ratt, which tend to predict the future and relay the past and an editor who occasionally butts in to clarify a few points. 4 stars

sep 24, 2012, 11:49am

51. Mrs. Fry's Diary by Mrs Stephen Fry. A complete year of diaries entries by Stephen Fry's secret wife, Edna. She cheerfully discusses their children's anti-social behavior, including teen pregnancy and school counseling, her own literary ambitions and shares her poems, and relays life with her husband, window washer and sometime taxi-driver, Stephen Fry. Though she often thinks she has seen Stephen's face on a passing bus and people get excited to hear she's married to him, Mrs Fry thinks it strange that anyone wants to hear what it's like to be married to a drunken, skirt-chasing window washer who only changes his pants with the seasons.
To anyone unfamiliar with Stephen Fry, it's still a funny book but you'd miss out on the main point. To Fry fans, this is hilarious. 4.5 stars

sep 24, 2012, 12:30pm

Great to see you have had some good reads lately! You are on quite the roll!

sep 24, 2012, 2:49pm

I have been lucky lately! And I've probably been reading to my mood more, which explains the big percentage of humor books this year.

sep 24, 2012, 6:20pm

I'm adding Mrs. Fry's Diary to the wishlist - I follow her on Twitter and she's great!

sep 24, 2012, 8:46pm

>149 -Eva-: - One can follow her on Twitter..... Really!?!?!

* off to investigate *

sep 25, 2012, 12:05am

Yes! And Mrs Fry's photo is...disturbing.

sep 27, 2012, 12:50pm

52. Grendel by John Gardner. The epic story of Beowulf had always been told from the human side, the side of good. This is the story of the monster, Grendel, in his own words. He remembers his first discovery of men, his fear of their numbers and recognition that they could communicate with each other which created a jealousy in him, as he could also speak but had only a dull-witted mother for companionship. Grendel relays how the dragon put a charm on him so the humans couldn't kill him, how he spent years watching and listening to the goings-on of the meadhall and especially watching the decline of the king, Hrothgar, with glee. At times Grendel finds a human to admire and minutes later that admiration will drive him to a murderous rage. He is so filled with anguish by the blind musician who sings of the monster cursed by God, recognizing it as himself, that he comes to the meadhall to plead for help, but is attacked by the frightened people. Grendel knows that he will never be accepted, so he spends his years making the humans pay. 4 stars

sep 27, 2012, 1:15pm

I've sure read Beowulf enough times at Uni to be interested in picking this up. Thumbing and on the wishlist it goes!

sep 28, 2012, 12:02pm

I kept thinking, "Two sides to every story." And our hero doesn't make an appearance until the very end.

sep 28, 2012, 5:52pm

It is an interesting spin, isn't it?! I've only read Gardner's non-fiction before, so it'll be interesting to see how his fiction functions.

sep 29, 2012, 12:41pm

53. Down the Rabbit Hole by Peter Abrahams. Thirteen year-old Ingrid lives in the town of Echo Falls, Conn., plays soccer in a league, performers with the local theater company, forgets to wear her orthodontist appliance most nights and admires Sherlock Holmes most of all. An attempt at independence finds her lost in the bad part of town, where she's found by the local drunken crazy known as "Cracked-up Katie", who insists on helping Ingrid. As appalled as Ingrid is to have actually talked to the woman and been in her filthy house waiting for a cab, she feels even worse to see in the paper the next morning that Katie was murdered some time after Ingrid left her house, making Ingrid, and the killer, the last people to see Katie alive. And even worse, Ingrid may have some evidence of her visit behind, which might make her a murder suspect, and if the police notice it, will also get her in trouble with her mom. Adding to her problem is that the police chief's son has a crush on Ingrid, so she finds herself seeing more and more of the chief, and she having creative differences in her part as Alice in the theater's production of "Alice in Wonderland".

At just over 400 pages, there's a lot going on here, especially for a YA, but this was so well-done that I'd breeze through 50 pages without noticing. I'll continue with the Echo Falls Mysteries (this is the first) because, even though the killer was easy to spot, the story is fun and Ingrid's an interesting girl. 4.5 stars

Redigerat: okt 4, 2012, 2:45pm

54. Lair of the White Worm by Bram Stoker. Young Australian Adam Salton arrives in England at the invitation of his lonely old uncle. The younger Salton soon makes the acquaintance of his uncle's brave friend, Sir Nathaniel, the beautiful Watford cousins, Edgar Caswell, who owns the local castle and has a infamous family history, and the woman pursuing him, Lady Arabella, who makes Caswell look like an angel in comparison.

I read Dracula two years ago and loved it so much, and maybe I shouldn't have expected as much from this book, written much later and published just the year before Stoker's death. The first 35 pages were dull, dull, dull- then it picked up a little, then went back to pages of talking. However, when Stoker wants to terrify his reader he doesn't mess around. There is a death scene that is surprisingly graphic and chilling, especially considering the majority of the book has a Victorian tone. Like, why would two grown women who are being terrorized by certain people to the point of chasing them from the house, continue to have them over for tea just because the invitation has been extended?

I give this one a guarded 3 stars with the warning that this is a chatty horror story.

okt 4, 2012, 3:55pm

I remember seeing the movie many years ago. Gruesome! I didn't realize it was based on a book by Stoker.

Redigerat: okt 4, 2012, 4:58pm

I read the book ages ago after seeing the (very kitschy but amusing) movie starring Peter Capaldi and Hugh Grant, but I think I need a reread since the movie images have completely taken over.

okt 4, 2012, 5:44pm

@ 157 -- I have no interest in reading Lair of the White Worm, but I must say that your "chatty horror story" description made me laugh!

okt 4, 2012, 6:18pm

> mamzel and Eva Though I haven't seen it, I thought I remembered a very young Grant being in the movie. I might have a look as Grant would fit the part of Adam Salton well.

>160 christina_reads: christina and it's fitting! How many times can Adam and Sir Nathaniel sit down to breakfast or cigars to discuss the neighborhood monster?

okt 4, 2012, 7:30pm

Ummm, I checked out the movie trailer on Youtube. Clearly Ken Russell did his own thing (as he was want to do) with the plot.

okt 4, 2012, 9:48pm

Looks like The Lair of the White Worm is a miss. Thanks for the warning!

okt 5, 2012, 10:52am

You're welcome!

55. True Blood: Volume One: All Together Now by Alan Ball. As the unique citizens of Bon Temps gather one night at Merlotte's Bar, one of the customers reveals himself to be a Trickster from Native American mythology. Someone in the bar has enraged him, but everyone will take part in the creature's feeding by telling the most shameful secret of their life.
I'm not a real "True Blood" watcher, though my sister is nuts over the show. I don't read many graphic novels either, but this is a good one. 4 stars

okt 6, 2012, 11:12am

56. The Art of Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow. This is my favorite Tim Burton movie, and also my favorite Johnny Depp movie. I love everything about the dark, leaf-covered village of Sleepy Hollow, but I also like the beginning of the film, which shows New York City just on the edge of the 19th Century. And Christopher Lee mercilessly sending Ichabod out alone to bring the murderer of Sleepy Hollow to justice.
This book is large, with big production stills from the movie, original production drawings and the complete, original script, which shows changes from the page to what made it into the movie. Some are small changes, others would have given Ichabod more information along the way. There's also an introduction by Burton about how the Irving story inspired him. 5 stars

okt 6, 2012, 4:14pm

I am also a huge fan of Burton's movie Sleepy Hollow, so much so we watch it every Halloween. I seriously need to track down a copy of that book!

okt 6, 2012, 8:53pm

Yes, it's a yearly Halloween must for me too! As is "Hocus Pocus", "Mad Monster Party", "30 Days of Night" and the 2009 "Trick r Treat" with the pumpkinhead kid.

okt 6, 2012, 10:14pm

I would like to have a look at that script progression - they made a few choices that I've been wondering about. :) Such a great film - and what a cast!

okt 8, 2012, 5:23pm

Glad to hear from another fan!

***SPOILER (For anyone who hasn't seen the movie)***
I will tell you that, in the script, upon his initial arrival to the Van Tassel's (the night of the party), Ichabod can see the faces of the couple kissing on the darkened porch, and so realizes very soon that there are secrets in Sleepy Hollow. Also, he finds the dead body of the witch, and the way she's been murdered tells him a human did it but tried t make it look like the Horseman.

okt 8, 2012, 5:51pm

57. M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman. This is a collection of Gaiman's short stories, chosen by him, that span 1984 to 2007 and go from surreal to what I would call soft horror. Gentle horror.
"October in the Chair" has the month's of the year gathering around a fire in the woods to take turns telling a story. It's the tenth month, and his story is about a neglected boy who runs away and within hours must make a life and death decision. There is also "The Case of Four and Twenty Blackbirds" with Little Jack Horner as a P.I investigating the death of Humpty Dumpty, a group of gourmands who travel to Egypt in search of something exotic they have yet to eat, and "The Witch's Headstone", a story about a boy named Bod, which Gaiman later expanded into The Graveyard Book. This collection about creepy stuff can be disturbing without being gory, and it's sometimes funny, but the plots are always original. 5 stars

okt 9, 2012, 5:06pm

I dropped off my entries to the state fair this morning. This year's submissions are Black Magic Cake, Almond Cake and peanut butter cookies. Fingers crossed til next week when we can go and see if I won anything.

okt 9, 2012, 5:54pm

->169 mstrust:
Oh, that is very interesting - both would have been good additions. Need a rewatch - good thing Halloween is coming up. :)

->171 mstrust:
Feel free to ship some overe here! :)

okt 9, 2012, 6:18pm

Black Magic Cake... that wouldn't be a rather decadent chocolate cake would it because I am going through a chocolate craving right now and that just sounds perfect!

okt 9, 2012, 6:49pm

Good luck! I haven't entered anything in the local town & country fair since my kids finished 4-H. They entered a lot of stuff, of course.

okt 10, 2012, 10:24am

@ 171 -- Is your black magic cake from the Hershey's cookbook? Because if so, my mom makes that cake! Either way, it sounds delicious. :)

okt 10, 2012, 12:57pm

>172 -Eva-: Eva I'm lucky my husband kept his hands off them! Twice he looked at the almond cake and said, "That's a winner." Which translates to, "I'd eat that one first."

>173 lkernagh: Lori, well it is decadent. Dark chocolate with a little coffee in the batter, bittersweet frosting and a vanilla drizzle. Too bad that by the time we go to the fair all the cakes and candies look like hard plastic. But not the fruit pies. They put all the fruit pies together for a reason. *shudder*

>174 mamzel: mamzel Thanks! I've been entering for the last few years and I've done pretty well, collecting three first places and one third place. And I do like seeing the animals too. Our fair seems to specialize in rare varieties of pigeons and chickens.

>175 christina_reads: christina No, it's my variation that I worked out years ago for my own taste. But I do have that Hersey's cookbook and love it. My cake doesn't have near that much coffee in it, and I use less sugar than their recipe, but then I go ahead and top it with a frosting, a glaze and chocolate chips.

okt 10, 2012, 5:18pm

I used to live in one of those little houses between the State Fairgrounds and Encanto park. When the wind blew in our direction, the neighborhood smelled of fry bread.

okt 11, 2012, 12:08am

Wow, that sounds great! I'd buy a room freshener that smelled like that! And we do have a favorite fry bread stand that we hit every year at the fair.

okt 17, 2012, 1:41pm

58. Dreadfully Ever After by Steve Hockensmith. This is the sequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, so continues the story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy four years after their wedding.
While walking together, the couple are attacked and Darcy is bitten by the undead. Fortunately, he is the nephew of Lady Catherine, one of the greatest slayers in England, and she knows of a doctor with a cure for the plague, but saving Darcy's life comes with strings attached, as Lady Catherine has always hated Elizabeth and her family. To give Darcy a chance at being cured the Bennets must humiliate themselves before London society, fight zombie hordes roaming the city and Lady Catherine's ninja spies, and find a way into Bedlam Hospital.

This story really has no off switch. It's pretty much run-fight-kill-behead throughout the story, and yet the plot of finding the serum to save Darcy never gets lost in all the fighting and chasing, and the Bennet sisters retain their distinct personalities. It's a pretty fun story, especially at this time of year. 4.5 stars

okt 17, 2012, 2:41pm

I have been warily wondering about Dreadfully Ever After, but it sounds like it's on par with the first one, so I'm adding it to the wishlist!

okt 17, 2012, 7:37pm

I think this one was certainly just as good as the first if your first priority is the zombie-killing. This second one doesn't have all that pesky romantic stuff to slow down the slaughter.

okt 19, 2012, 8:31pm

Hmmm, my cookies got 3rd place and my cakes both got "Honorable Mention" ribbons. Not my best year, but I'll do it again next year.

Redigerat: okt 20, 2012, 11:35pm

That's not bad!! When I make cookies they disappear down the gullet before anyone would have a chance to put a ribbon on... :) Actually munching down the third slice of a bananabread I made this morning as I'm typing this! (yes, sticky keyboard!) I'm not even sure I'd be brave enough to put them to any kind of judging.

okt 20, 2012, 9:55pm

3rd place and honorable mentions sounds fabulous to me. I would never have the confidence to enter anything I bake into a judging event!

Redigerat: okt 21, 2012, 1:19am

I have no right to complain, I know... it's just that those blue ribbons have an addictive quality! But I'm happy to have placed, especially as this year they only displayed ribbon winners while in previous years they displayed all the entries.

okt 21, 2012, 11:36pm

59. Murder in Mesopotamia by Agatha Christie. A nurse is hired to care for a wife accompanying her husband on an archeological dig in the Arab desert. When the nurse arrives she discovers that the woman is healthy, beautiful and has a reputation for dramatics. Though some members of the group seem to like Mrs. Leidner, there are a few who openly hate her, but everyone is shocked when she's found dead. Luckily, M. Poirot has just wrapped up a case in Syria and has time to stop by and solve what turns into a case of multiple murders.

Christie had spent time traveling in this part of the world with her archeologist husband, so it's interesting to see her getting her characters out of the English countryside, though as her narrator warns, she doesn't give us much local color. This mystery pretty much replaces the country manor with a mud-walled complex, and though the setting is Arabic, the characters are a mixture of English, American, French and the little Belgian. Much discussion on the worst aspects of female behavior. 3.5 stars

okt 22, 2012, 7:20pm

60. A New England Autumn by Ferenc Mate. I'm such a sucker for photos on this subject. I know it's because I dearly wish I could spend every Autumn in New England, but until that happens I will continue to look at the pretty pictures.
Mate, an Italian, has created a little niche for himself in photographing New England locales and has several books of his seasonal photos available. While the pictures are beautiful, I had to knock off a star because this book has many of the same excerpts and poems included in his previous book of Autumn photos, which I also own. 4 stars

okt 27, 2012, 12:43pm

61. The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley. Roger and Helen Mifflin own a second-hand bookshop in Brooklyn, and Roger couldn't be happier. Though they aren't wealthy, Roger adores his books and can talk books all day. When a wealthy patron asks the Mifflins to take in his daughter and teach her the trade, in the hopes she'll gain an education, Roger is delighted to have a student. Aubrey Gilbert, a new young friend of Roger's is also delighted with beautiful Titiana, but he doesn't think Brooklyn is a safe place for her. There is something suspicious going on at Mifflin's shop- a certain bio of Cromwell keeps being stolen, then returned, the German druggist down the street seems to be working too hard and someone is trying to kill Aubrey. The young man decides to play detective in hopes of winning the girl.

As you can see, the title of this book is completely misleading. Nothing ghostly going on so it wasn't what I expected. But it is an engaging story about books. Roger reads excerpts from his favorites, quotes and recommends to his customers, defends to noble profession of book-seller while his colleagues complain about the money, and longs to be able to read his whole stock. While it is a mystery with a gently romantic angle, there is some violence and, as it was written just after WWI, an anti-German attitude. But it's mostly a book about books. 3.5 stars

okt 28, 2012, 4:26pm

It's on my Mt. TBR, so "engaging story about books" works very well for me! :)

okt 28, 2012, 6:59pm

Good! To be honest, I probably would have given it 4 stars if I had known how misleading the title is and hadn't expected it to be a Halloween story. I moved it to my Books on Books category. Anyway, hope you like it too.

And I've just returned from a big book sale (pbs for .50, hc for $1) with all of these that I'll have to work in to next year's challenges:

The Thin Man
Our Man in Havana
The Mysterious Mr Quin
Literary Las Vegas
England As You Like it
The Tuesday Club Murders
The Clocks
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
The Corpse Wore Pasties
Not All Tarts Are Apple
My Cousin Rachel
In The Heart of the Sea
Love and Louis XIV
Cleopatra: Beyond the Myth
Shame in the Blood
The Phantom of the Opera
Gently Down the Stream
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
Ngaio Marsh: A Life
Palace of Desire
Great Shooters of the World
Dressed for Thrills
The New England Colonial
Families of Fortune

Not bad; I filled my cart up to the top.

okt 28, 2012, 9:23pm

I love book sales and it looks like you scored very well at this one!

okt 29, 2012, 2:36am

That is a great haul! There's a book sale I'm hoping to get to in a couple of weeks but I doubt the books will be that cheap :-/

okt 29, 2012, 10:46am

Book sales are the best! You really found some excellent titles.

okt 29, 2012, 5:00pm

Lots of great mysteries in that book haul! Also, glad to see your comments on The Haunted Bookshop. I recently read its companion book, Parnassus on Wheels, and quite enjoyed it.

okt 30, 2012, 9:19pm

Hi Lori, Alana, Alison and Christina- I do think I scored some great titles. And, this would normally be the last big sale of the year but they've added another one for December! It's great because they are especially well-organized and clean.

nov 1, 2012, 11:01pm

62. Dressed for Thrills: 100 Years of Halloween Costumes and Masquerade by Phyllis Galembo. Photographed on models (mostly children) and in appropriate settings, this book features Halloween costumes that date back to the 1880's when they were homemade and masks were often made of a material called buckram that looked like something Leatherface would covet. The costumes go all the way up to the 80's with a Rubik's Cube mask and the book includes essays by various writers about their dress-up days. 4.5 stars

63. The Sordid Secrets of Las Vegas by Quentin Parker. The authors have unearthed every bit of bad publicity that ever happened in Vegas: the most popular places for suicidal jumpers, the fatalities due to cutting costs in hotel safety equipment and the weird reason male fish in nearby Lake Mead have started to become hermaphrodites. Chapters are divided by the seven deadly sins. Guess where I spent Halloween? 4 stars

nov 2, 2012, 12:08pm

They sound like fun Halloween reading :-)

nov 4, 2012, 1:14pm

64. The Bag of Bones by Vivian French. The five Witches of Wadingburn find themselves the unwilling hosts to Truda Hangnail, a Deep Magic witch who quickly shrinks the good witches to the size and appearance of rats. Little Loobly, an orphaned assistant, is the only one to escape Truda and run for help.
Gracie Gillypot, also an orphan, is aware that evil has entered the kingdom and sets out to find it, but she soon takes the place of the missing Loobly in the prison-like orphanage and must rely on her friends to rescue her and stop Truda from ruling the kingdom.

Yes, this book has talking rats and bats and witches and a troll. It also has a prominent character that has a very low IQ, possibly meant as brain damaged. This is the second book of a trilogy, and I consider French an imaginative writer rather than a great one. There are sentences that fall with a thud, but overall this is a story that entertains. I do have to say how much the character of Marlon the bat irritates me. It occurred to me that he may be meant to be American (the author is Scottish). He speaks in a combination of 40's movie gangster and 80's teen slang while constantly calling everyone "kiddo". So. Annoying. 3.5 stars

nov 4, 2012, 5:19pm

French's books sound like fun reading material for this time of year! If I do dive into this one, I will keep your comments regarding Marlon in mind.

nov 7, 2012, 1:01pm

Other people might not be bothered, but every time that bat appeared I thought, "Shutupshutupshutup,". ;D

nov 12, 2012, 1:46pm

65. Hellraisers by Robert Sellers. Four bios in one- Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole and Oliver Reed, collectively the bad boys of British film and theatre. Acting is littered with bad behavior, but these four men were not chosen at random. They were drinkers of astounding proportions, of daily quantities that would kill most people and many elephants. The years of drunkenness combined with fame, money and the entitlement they bring led to decades of infamy for each: public brawls, broken marriages, arrests, public indecency (a regular for Reed), losing work due to unreliability and eventually the loss of looks and health. Of the four only O'Toole is still around and he's made it to a ripe age, so I guess he's proof that some people can withstand anything, though he pretty much stopped drinking in 1975. Harris didn't do so badly either, making it into his 70's before dying of Hodgkin's disease.
If this book of hellraisers hadn't been exclusively about British men, it would have to have included Elizabeth Taylor. The years she spent with Burton, as related by Sellers, describe her as the more aggressive, the heavier drinker of the two who would goad Burton into a binge and chase him with a broken bottle when she caught him attempting to cheat on her.
I'll say that I thought it strange that this book that chronicles the often disastrous results that drinking had on these lives ends with a paragraph celebrating their drunken style. Just strange, but the rest of the book is very interesting reading and there were many anecdotes I'd never heard before. 4.5 stars

nov 21, 2012, 2:31pm

66. Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin. This is a painstakingly researched bio that proves that Austen was not the home-bound wallflower her reputation makes her out to be. Yes, romance factored little in her life, but she did have more than one opportunity and was even engaged for a matter of hours! She had a large family and circle of friends and seems to have been constantly visiting someone, though not always at her own wishes as money was a constant source of worry for Jane and her unmarried sister, and they had to rely on others in the family to keep them. Much of this changed with the publication of Sense and Sensibility- for the first time Jane had money of her own and was sought out for her own company, even meeting the Prince Regent.
Tomalin does a thorough job with the Austen family tree and has been able to piece together a picture of Austen with flaws such as churlishness and a love of tasteless jokes, that makes her seem like a human rather than a romantic ideal. 4.5 stars

nov 21, 2012, 9:28pm

I love the Tomalin's readable and relatively short, but it's still very informative!

nov 21, 2012, 11:36pm

Did you read this one or a different one from her? I liked her writing.

nov 24, 2012, 6:04pm

@ 204 -- I read the Austen one. I believe she's also done one of Samuel Pepys, which could be interesting.

nov 25, 2012, 12:52pm

That would be- she seems to root out everything and Pepys is a goldmine to begin with!

67. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Written in letter form, it's the story of London writer Juliet Ashton just after WWII. Living in a borrowed flat because hers is now a pile of rubble, Ashton longs to separate herself from her wartime humor column and write books that will create a more serious reputation. Stuck for ideas, she receives a letter from a Guernsey farmer who happens to have an old book that once belonged to Juliet. He explains that he belongs to a small literary group on the island, a band of neighbors that, in a roundabout way, began reading classic literature after the Nazis took over the island. Juliet's one correspondent turns into many, as the other literary members write to discuss books, life on the island and their survival during the occupation, and Juliet begins to feel that Guernsey is the inspiration she'd been waiting for.

Shaffer was inspired to write this after learning, in 1980, of the German occupation of Guernsey in the Channel Islands during the war. How sad that she died before seeing it published. Barrows is Shaffer's niece, also a writer, and stepped in to do the final re-writes before publication. 4 stars

nov 26, 2012, 1:17pm

I was charmed by this book and I appreciated learning a little about the Guernsey Islands.

nov 26, 2012, 2:57pm

It was definitely a part of history that I had missed, so I liked that part of it too. Such a shame about the author missing out on the accolades.

nov 26, 2012, 3:55pm

I loved this book as well! It made me wish I had more pen pals. :)

nov 26, 2012, 10:48pm

>207 mamzel: mamzel Charming is a good word for it- also surprising. Starting out, I thought it might lean towards romance, which is not my usual, but it has more substance and a history lesson along with the romance.

>208 -Eva-: Eva I'll admit to knowing absolutely nothing about the Channel Islands despite being an Anglophile. I'd heard of them and that's all. It is so very sad that Shaffer didn't get to see how popular her story became, but also lucky that she was able to write it before she became ill. It's been so successful that she'll probably be in print forever.

>209 christina_reads: Years ago I had several pen pals in the U.K. and Europe and we'd swap music to introduce each other to the local scenes. It was a lot of fun, but I don't think anyone would have the patience to wait for those lovely air mail packages now.

nov 27, 2012, 2:38pm

68. Time Was Soft There by Jeremy Mercer. Mercer spent several years as a newspaper crime reporter in his native Canada, wrote a couple of true-crime books, dodged a drug charge, fell into alcoholism and finally skipped town after angering the wrong guy. He was truly burnt-out from daily facing the worst of humanity but also feared for his life. Landing in Paris, he discovered the generous and erratic George Whitman, owner of the famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore, who allowed destitute traveling writers to sleep in his store and help out with running the place. Whitman regularly provided meals and the writers, often young Bohemians, looked up to him as a mentor, though Whitman's many quirks seem to make it impossible for anyone to really get close to him.
Mercer describes how upon accepting his request to stay in the store, Whitman also told him he was responsible for evicting an old poet who had lived in the store for five years. The book tells how the many impoverished guests get by on very little or no money, learning how to pass themselves off as students for cheap meals, scavenging for thrown out food, using a cafe restroom to wash. Though he includes the confrontations and filth, the title of the book comes from Mercer's description of prison "hard time" as being the most difficult, while the time he spent at S&C as being as soft as it could be. 4 stars

nov 29, 2012, 11:10am

I've just ordered a copy of this book, coincidentally. Glad its not a dud, although I need to learn not to automatically buy any book solely because it's set in Paris.

nov 29, 2012, 1:24pm

I'm that way about English books, though I do have quite a few French books too. I hope you like this one too; it is a very unique look at Paris.

dec 3, 2012, 9:37pm

69. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy. The French Revolution is bringing the deaths of anyone of aristocratic birth and the common people are fanatical about their new guillotine. The only hope for the noble-born captives is a mysterious Englishman called "The Scarlet Pimpernel". He can disguise himself as a common citoyen and smuggle aristocrats out of Paris before anyone knows he was there; his exploits have made him a hero of the French he saves but also of the English court, including Lady Blakeney, who believes she has been saddled with a lazy idiot for a husband.

A classic of intrigue, adventure and romance. Seriously, a few passages could have come straight out of a Barbara Cartland, but maybe that shows what an influence this book has had. The story is really Marguerite Blakeney's, with plenty of waiting and worrying and self-recriminations, but the tension is high throughout the story. 3.5 stars

dec 4, 2012, 12:55pm

Oh, how I love The Scarlet Pimpernel! It's true, the prose does veer toward purple at times, but I love it anyway! :)

dec 4, 2012, 5:48pm

I have to admit that I never gave the book any notice until seeing the miniseries from 1999, the one with Richard E. Grant as Blakeney, Elizabeth McGovern as Marguerite and Martin Shaw as Chauvelin.

dec 4, 2012, 6:59pm

My favorite movie-version is the one with Anthony Andrews and the book is still sitting untouched on its shelf - need to rectify that, purple prose or no. :)

dec 5, 2012, 11:22am

I think that Andrews version is the more popular. Having now read the book, I see how much the Grant version changed things; Marguerite and Chauvelin are former lovers with him hoping to woo her back!

dec 5, 2012, 2:28pm

Very interesting. I'll have to check out the Richard E. Grant-verson as well.

dec 6, 2012, 7:14pm

Eva, I'm with you on liking the Anthony Andrews version best -- although, just to warn you, the ending of the book is totally different!

dec 6, 2012, 10:41pm

Thanks for that heads-up - always good to know in advance! :)

dec 7, 2012, 2:23pm

Just don't want you to be blindsided! Actually, now that I think about it, there also isn't a love interest for Armand St. Just in the book. So it's fair to say that the movie took some liberties.

dec 7, 2012, 2:30pm

I would think any movie version would have to, what with the long period of Marguerite skulking in the bushes for the last chapter or two and so much of the story being her inner dialogue. Gotta fill that airtime with chases!

dec 7, 2012, 2:32pm

You're right, mstrust. Swordfights are way more fun! I've seen three movie versions of The Scarlet Pimpernel (Leslie Howard, Anthony Andrews and Richard Grant), and none of them are particularly faithful to the book -- but they're all good in different ways!

dec 7, 2012, 3:29pm

Oooh - love The Scarlet Pimpernel too! It sounds like the musical was based on the movie version where Marguerite and Chauvelin were former lovers. I remember being quite surprised when I read the book this year to find out they weren't. Hoping to read more of the Pimpernel books in 2013.

dec 7, 2012, 7:26pm

>LittleTaiko, I was surprised to see the vast differences between the book and the movie too, with the past relationship between Chauvelin and Marguerite being the biggest. Also, in the book Sir Andrew is involved but we don't see much of him in action, while he's right there next to Grant almost throughout the story. Oh, and Marguerite's stage career is used pretty heavily in the filmed version. But maybe those things are in the later books...

dec 9, 2012, 11:13am

70. If On A Winter's Night A Traveler by Italo Calvino. An experimental novel that switches stories and narrators with every chapter. Plots include a spy stuck in a small village when he misses an important meet-up and a man pursuing an evasive young woman. Some of the chapters are of novels the other characters are reading as they keep getting confused and picking up one book, then another.

I didn't finish this one. I read it for nearly a week, then gave up as I would get interested in one plot and then frustrated with the halting of that character's tale only to start a different story with the next chapter. It wasn't Calvino's writing, but I guess "experimental" isn't for me. I've seen this book get good reviews, so I would say it just wasn't a fit for me, and don't let me keep you from trying it for yourself. 2 stars

dec 9, 2012, 2:39pm

I haven't ventured into any of Calvino's works yet. Given all of the positive reviews out there, I am encouraged to see that you ended up abandoning If on a Winter's Night, only because it makes me feel better to know that if I do have troubles with this one, I am not the only one!

dec 11, 2012, 2:28pm

I love Calvino and loved if on a winters night, can see it wouldn't be for everyone though...

dec 11, 2012, 5:56pm

>229 psutto: yeah, that's why I wanted to make sure to say that it wasn't a match for me. I could see that his writing wasn't the problem because I kept being drawn into the stories, then disappointed when they halted abruptly. But I would try another book from him.

dec 12, 2012, 7:10am

I would recommend The Baron In The Trees if you wish more of a straight (but odd) story from Calvino. No meta fiction in there :)

dec 12, 2012, 12:27pm

Thanks for the recommendation. The plot sounds interesting and unusual, which I like, so it goes on the list.

dec 14, 2012, 7:07pm

71. My Life In France by Julia Child. This is Child's autobiography, written in conjunction with her nephew Alex, and while it does cover her childhood, education, time in government service and meeting of her husband Paul, it centers on how she learned to cook French food and then the writing of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It's the basis for the "Julia" parts of the movie "Julie and Julia".
The Childs lived in many countries, due to Paul's job, but it was France that really felt like home to them. They became fluent in the language, made close friends and Julia really made the effort to live as the French do, shopping at open markets and taking the time to figure out how the French classics could be made in American homes.

Julia's descriptions of how much effort went into creating each recipe of that first cookbook, and it took nearly ten years to finish and be published, shows how much determination and energy she and her co-authors had, especially when you consider that they were also running a cooking school at the same time. The Childs seem to have been the most energetic and optimistic couple ever and the things they accomplished together makes it seem like they never took a break. But Julia does have her dislikes, and she lays into her father quite a bit, and her co-authors too. There is also a description of a particular duck dish being prepared that I found horrifying from beginning to end, but Julia describes as "a fabulous ritual to watch". Oh well, times were different. And this is a really interesting autobiography of a cooking pioneer, but also a person who had an eventful life in general. 4.5 stars

dec 14, 2012, 8:10pm

"a fabulous ritual to watch"
I think I'm going along with your "horrifying from beginning to end" assessment. :) Sounds like a great book, though - it's on the wishlist!

dec 15, 2012, 1:59pm

I hope you like it too.
All I can say is that Julia had an open mind when it came to food. She ate things that sound very sophisticated and were probably delicious. I am open to new flavors and cuisines but when it comes to meats, I want to hear something like "chicken".

dec 15, 2012, 8:54pm

I loved My Life in France when I read it. I vividly remember watching her on PBS way back in the 70's. She was the master chef at the time.

dec 16, 2012, 11:44am

I don't remember ever seeing her show, but my mom would watch The Galloping Gourmet sometimes. I was aware of Child at some point because of the Dan Ackroyd parody on SNL but didn't actually see her on t.v. until she had the show with Pepin.
Her life story could have filled a whole series- she was always involved in something interesting.

dec 16, 2012, 8:49pm

I love the fact that she was a bit of a "late bloomer". Gives me hope!

dec 17, 2012, 6:45pm

Yes, she didn't start taking cooking classes til she was almost forty, and she wasn't published until she was near 50!

dec 17, 2012, 7:02pm

72. The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum. This begins with the discovery of the human baby by nymph Necile, who asks for permission from the Master Woodsman, a ruler of immortals, to keep the mortal child for her own. Named Claus, the boy is raised by all the fairies and magical creatures until the day he realizes that he must go live among other humans. He discovers a talent for toy-making, an empathy for all children, a way to carry his toys across the world and how simple B&E is.

I didn't know Baum, author of The Wizard of Oz, had written anything else. This was published in 1902, well before Coca-Cola provided us with the Santa we think of now, so I don't know how much Baum based his Santa on folktales and how much was his own creation. For instance, the reindeer names are Flossie, Glossie, Racer, Pacer, Reckless, Speckless, Fearless, Peerless, Ready and Steady.
This is written like a very old-fashioned fairy tale and was slow going at first until I realized that this book must have been intended to be read out loud to children. 3 stars

Redigerat: dec 19, 2012, 2:47pm

73. Oedipus the King by Sophocles. Oedipus, King of Thebes and husband of Jocasta, has sent his brother-in-law, Creon, to the oracle of Apollo to find how to bring relief to the city. The children, animals and crops are dying and nothing has helped. Oedipus is willing to do anything.
Creon returns and relays that the prophet said that the city must punish the man who killed its former king, Laius, as the murder was never solved and the murderer hides himself among them.

My book is translated by Bernard Knox and he hit the right balance between keeping enough of the formal language while making the meaning of the words clear to modern readers. An example is this argument between Oedipus and Creon, when the King accuses Creon of plotting to take his throne:

O: You are a born traitor.
C: And you don't understand anything.
O: Whether I do or not-I am in power here.
C: Not if you rule badly.
O: {To the Chorus} Listen to him, Thebes, my city.
C: My city, too, not yours alone.

This story, with its taboos and graphic violence, has to be one of the oldest horror stories written. 5 stars

dec 19, 2012, 1:17pm

It is a fantastic work, isn't it. Sounds like a good translation too - I've read it in Swedish, but I wouldn't mind giving it a try in English as well.

dec 24, 2012, 1:53am

Hi Jennifer - Stopping by to wish you a happy holiday season and all the best in the new year!

dec 25, 2012, 10:29am

Thanks so much, Lori! I just got home last night as we had our Christmas on Sunday because my sister had to work yesterday and today. My nephew got his first leave from the Army so we were happy to be together.
I hope you have a Happy Holiday and Happy New Year!

And Merry Christmas to us all!

dec 25, 2012, 10:22pm

Merry Christmas Jennifer, sounds like you have a lovely Christmas-on-Sunday!

dec 26, 2012, 1:40pm

I hope you had a Merry Christmas as well, Alana!

dec 26, 2012, 2:04pm

74. Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell. Vowell and various friends/relatives travel all over America visiting sights where presidents lived, vacationed at or were assassinated, and also visits the homes, death sites and prison cells of the ones who killed them. It sounds morbid but it's actually filled with humor and all kinds of little known information about Lincoln and the more forgotten McKinley and Garfield. Vowell has a quirky sense of humor that I like, but she's also annoyingly self-righteous in her ultra-liberalism, to the point of of sometimes being as narrow-minded as the people she's calling narrow-minded. When she can stop wagging her finger at all the evil people she sees, she writes engaging history that makes even the most seemingly dull person interesting. 4 stars

dec 28, 2012, 11:24am

75. The Professionals 10: Cry Wolf by Ken Blake. Bodie and Doyle are put on the trail of an escapee from a military mental hospital who doesn't seem all that important. In fact, when they do find him they report to Cowley that the man is crazy but harmless. Unfortunately, he was high ranking and able to cobble together a team of ex-soldiers willing to go along with his plans to rid the country of chemical warfare by using chemical warfare. 4 stars

And that's my 75th! Just by the skin of my teeth too, and it also wraps up my 2012 reading. Have a Happy New Year and I hope to see you all in 2013!!!

dec 28, 2012, 1:30pm

Congratulations, Jennifer, you did it! I hope you have an happy New Year and I look forward to following your reading in 2013!

dec 28, 2012, 6:54pm

Thanks, Lori! Feels good to squeak by!

dec 29, 2012, 12:35am

Congratulations on finishing your challenge Jennifer!

dec 29, 2012, 3:47am

Congrats on completing your challenge.

dec 29, 2012, 11:54am

Thanks a lot, Alana and Dave!

dec 29, 2012, 9:17pm

Can you get another book read before the end of the year? Then you will have surpassed all expectation.

dec 30, 2012, 12:21pm

Don't try to kill my buzz, Alison ;)

dec 30, 2012, 2:15pm

Congratulations from me too!! Looking forward to next year!

jan 2, 2013, 6:40am

Belated congrats!

jan 2, 2013, 12:06pm

Thanks, Eva and Claire, and I hope to hear from you both this year!