RidgewayGirl's Challenge, 2nd Part, Categorically

DiskuteraThe 12 in 12 Category Challenge

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RidgewayGirl's Challenge, 2nd Part, Categorically

Denna diskussion är för närvarande "vilande"—det sista inlägget är mer än 90 dagar gammalt. Du kan återstarta det genom att svara på inlägget.

1RidgewayGirl
Redigerat: nov 27, 2012, 3:50pm

The middle of the year seems a good place to start a new thread.

I'm not promising to read 12 books in each category, and by the looks of things, this is unattainable anyway.

4RidgewayGirl
Redigerat: okt 16, 2012, 1:21pm

6RidgewayGirl
Redigerat: nov 13, 2012, 11:47am

8RidgewayGirl
Redigerat: sep 23, 2012, 12:47pm

10RidgewayGirl
Redigerat: dec 21, 2012, 3:49pm

Act Three.
Fear

Scene Nine.
Fear of Failure
Books that have been shortlisted for or won awards

1. A Prayer for the Dying by Stewart O'Nan (New York Times Notable Book)
2. The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright (Orange Prize shortlist 2011)
3. Columbine by Dave Cullen (Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist)
4. Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder by Lawrence Weschler (Pulitzer Prize for General NonFiction Finalist)
5. Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick (Winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize)
6. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (Winner of the 2011 Booker Prize)
7. District and Circle by Seamus Heaney (author is recipient of the Nobel Prize in literature)
8. The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson

11RidgewayGirl
Redigerat: dec 12, 2012, 8:33pm

Scene Ten.
Fear of Crowds
Group and Tandem Reads

1. Iron House by John Hart. January Group Read -- 12 in 12
2. The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall. Read with my children.
3. The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall. Read with my children.
4. Who Cut the Cheese? by Jo Nesbo. Read with my children.
5. Cinder by Marissa Meyer. Tandem read with my daughter.
6. Vengeance by Benjamin Black. ER book read in tandem with jonesli.
7. Blindness by Jose Saramago October Group Read -- 12 in 12
8. The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf. Tandem read with VictoriaPL
9. The Queen of the South by Arturo Perez-Reverte. Tandem read with VictoriaPL

12RidgewayGirl
Redigerat: dec 3, 2012, 4:21pm

Scene Eleven.
Fear of intimidation
Books that are challenging, whether through size or reputation

1. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
2. The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever
3. The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake
4. Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
5. Middlemarch by George Eliot
6. My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me edited by Kate Bernheimer
7. Baudolino by Umberto Eco

14christina_reads
jun 1, 2012, 10:35pm

Hey, new thread! Noted. :)

15thornton37814
jun 1, 2012, 11:32pm

Starred!

16dudes22
jun 2, 2012, 7:49am

Nice new digs!

17VictoriaPL
Redigerat: jun 2, 2012, 8:09am

Hey!

18mathgirl40
jun 2, 2012, 10:12am

Just stopping in to visit your new thread!

19DeltaQueen50
jun 4, 2012, 3:12pm

Checking in to your new thread. I find it hard to believe that we are already 6 months into 2012!

20RidgewayGirl
jun 4, 2012, 3:39pm

Well, five months in. The sixth month has just begun.

21RidgewayGirl
jun 5, 2012, 2:25pm

I really like Malcolm Fox, the protagonist of Ian Rankin's new detective series. In the second book, The Impossible Dead, Fox and his partners have been sent to Fife, where a police officer's misconduct has led to an investigation as to whether his fellow officers covered for him. They're not greeted warmly; not only are they "the Complaints", who investigate allegations against the police, but they're from out of town as well.

Their investigation begins to spread out, as they look back at the actions of the convicted officer and then Fox is drawn farther back in time, to the 1980's, when Scottish nationalism took a violent and anarchic turn and a nationalist is found dead.

Fox is a fantastic character and if I weren't worried about possibility of an outcry, I might even say that I'm beginning to like him more than Rebus, at least the later, angrier Rebus. He doesn't have Rebus's style, connections or in-your-face working methods, but he does have a problematic family; a father whose health is declining and a difficult and prickly sister. He's fought his own demons and does what he can to keep the peace. The rest of his small team are also interesting. Tony Kaye is burly and prone to belligerence, but deeply loyal to and concerned about Fox's well-being. Joe Naysmith is the new guy, the tech guy, fielding Kaye's constant needling and eager to learn. I'm eagerly waiting to find out what they'll be up to next.

22-Eva-
jun 5, 2012, 2:40pm

"I'm beginning to like him more than Rebus"

Ooh, those are fighting words...! :)

Actually, that's a good thing - I'm wary about starting the series because I like Rebus so much, but when a fellow Rebus-fan says it's good, it certainly alleviates some of the angst. LOL!

Looking forward to starting the new series!!

23RidgewayGirl
jun 6, 2012, 9:29am

And thus the width of a motorway is shown to scale, a large city in Germany is depicted with the same square symbol used for one in China, and a bay in the Arctic Ocean shines in the same blue as one in the Pacific because they share the same depth. But the icebergs towering in the Arctic Ocean are ignored.

Geographical maps are abstract and concrete at the same time; for all the objectivity of their measurements, they cannot represent reality, merely one interpretation of it.


Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky is the ultimate appetizer for map heads and globe spinners. A random collection subtitled Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot On and Never Will, it delivers exactly that; a series of two-page spreads with a map on the right hand page and a story about the island on the other side, along with the distances to the nearest landmasses and a timeline of the island's history. Each island is drawn to the same scale, so some islands are thumb-sized, sitting in the middle of the blue sea, and others fill much of the page. Schalansky has published previous works about typography and graphic design and that shows in the simply beauty of this book. There is not a single discordant note, unless it is that there are only fifty islands represented. I could have spent many more happy evenings with this book, if only there were more islands.

24dudes22
jun 6, 2012, 4:26pm

That one's definitely going on my wishlist.

25SouthernKiwi
jun 7, 2012, 2:31am

Hurrah, another Remote Atlas convert! I adored this book, it's gorgeous.

26cammykitty
jun 7, 2012, 2:59am

Got to love a nice shiny new thread!!! Great categories.

27dudes22
jun 7, 2012, 12:20pm

Do you think it would be too sneaky to buy it for my husband for Father's Day? I do think he's enjoy it too. Maybe I'll go by the bookstore and check it out. Although he doesn't get as excited as I do with books as gifts.

28RidgewayGirl
jun 7, 2012, 6:46pm

I checked it out of the library. As I was reading it, my SO asked me if there was enough time for him to read it too. It's not at all sneaky, as long as you let him read it first!

29RidgewayGirl
jun 8, 2012, 11:22am

Oxford Messed Up by Andrea Kayne Kaufman is a deeply flawed and oddly charming book. It's a book with an agenda; seeking to humanize and maybe even romanticize obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). It's a book in desperate need of an active editor and several re-writes, but the writing improves through the book so that the first chapters are terrible and much of the final third of the book is highly readable. It's a fun chick-lit romance novel and brochure about mental illness in one package.

Gloria has a constant companion, a voice that reminds her to work, work, work and to clean, clean, clean, to the point where friendships or even familial relationships are impossible to maintain. Caused by her horrible parents, who want her to both excel and be normal, she is unable to function without her cleaning rituals. She goes off to Oxford University on a Rhodes scholarship. There she meets Henry, who has a horrible father, a past as a drug addict and a calmly supportive sister. They share a bathroom, which is a challenge for Gloria, and a love for Van Morrison's music, which allows them to connect and helps Henry to guide Gloria through Cognitive Behavior Therapy.

I had a hard time with this book. I have a tremendous aversion for sermons-as-novels and this one was so obvious. It's got a lot of clunky dialog and paper-thin characters. The two main characters are both very wealthy, beautiful, intelligent and surrounded by people who exist only to adore or help them. It doesn't make them unlikeable, but it does mean that it takes quite a bit of effort to be sympathetic. Also, the parents in this book are terrible and led me to believe that OCD and drug addiction are entirely the result of bad parenting. But the writing improved as the book went on, leading me to believe that there wasn't much in the way of re-writing or editing involved. The publisher seems to have only published this one book. I think I'll have to make sure to only request Early Reviewer books from more established publishers.

30mstrust
jun 8, 2012, 11:58am

It does sound like an odd book, and one that I wouldn't finish as preachy agenda books are too annoying for me. But thumbs up for getting through and on your review! I find that most badly written books go the opposite- start out alright and progressively deteriorate.

31-Eva-
jun 8, 2012, 1:13pm

"fun chick-lit romance novel and brochure about mental illness in one package"

High points for originality, at least!! :)

32RidgewayGirl
jun 9, 2012, 5:31pm

WARNING: there is a swear word in the foliowing review.

The Psychopath Test is just a huge amount of fun. It's not just a book about Hare's famous checklist; it's also a book about Jon Ronson's reactions to the people and entities he encounters while learning about the checklist and his reactions to assorted other people and entities having to do with the mental illness industry. That's not to say I didn't learn quite a bit. I did. Just that this is not a finely focused study or anything like that. In The Psychopath Test, Ronson takes a look at psychopathy in a roundabout way, beginning with these thoughts about the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders):

"I could really be onto something," I thought. "It really could be that many of our political and business leaders suffer from Antisocial or Narcissistic Personality Disorder and they do the harmful, exploitative things they do because of some mad striving for unlimited success and excessive admiration. Their mental disorders might be what rule our lives. This could be a really big story for me if I can think of a way to somehow prove it."

I closed the manual.

"I wonder if I've got any of the 374 mental disorders," I thought.

I opened the manual again.

And I instantly diagnosed myself with twelve different ones.


The Psychopath Test is a stroll through the horrific with a Bertie Wooster-type narrator. He distracts and veers off in odd directions while managing to ask difficult questions in very non-threatening ways. From Scientologists to a captain of industry who enjoyed laying people off to a death-squad leader in prison for mortgage fraud, Ronson gets some very interesting people to speak with him. The most frightening people to me were not the psychopaths, but the conspiracy theorists. Take this encounter where a conspiracy theorist talks about a woman injured in a terrorist bombing that he insists was all a hoax:

"I am also very suspicious of the fact that she refuses to sit down and have a dispassionate briefing about 7/7," David said. "Why won't she allow somebody to patiently talk her through the evidence?"

"She was in the carriage!" I said. "She was in the CARRIAGE. You really want her to sit down with someone who was on the internet while she was in the carriage and have them explain to her that there was no bomb?"


I guess it should be comforting to think that people who deny all actual evidence and cling angrily to some nonsensical idea are actually mentally ill, but it still makes me very, very tired. Having Ronson bug out his own eyes in disbelief now and again made the journey not only bearable but entertaining. In the above encounter, Ronson eventually ends the interview with a very professional "Oh, fuck off."

33mstrust
jun 10, 2012, 1:34pm

On the list! That sounds fascinating, especially being guided through the crazies by "a Bertie Wooster-type" to make things less scary.

34-Eva-
jun 10, 2012, 4:01pm

Pete (psutto) put this on my wishlisst earlier this year and you just moved it up quite a few notches - sounds a fascinating as well as frustrating read! Don't get me started on conspiracy theorists... :)

35DorsVenabili
jun 11, 2012, 1:53pm

#32 - Great review of The Psychopath Test. I have the same reaction to conspiracy theorists!

36psutto
jun 12, 2012, 8:44am

great review - I also recommend them if you've not read it & if you can catch him speaking its worth it he's got great comic timing :-)

I did echo his sentiments for the 7/7 conspiracy and am sure I'd react in exactly the same way - sometimes FO is the only right response ;-)

37RidgewayGirl
jun 12, 2012, 10:28am

I've been listening to him -- he has a show on BBC Radio4, and he has a very pleasant, low key way of interviewing people. I can see how he gets people to divulge so much.

I have Them and will read it soon.

38mathgirl40
jun 12, 2012, 8:55pm

Great review of The Psychopath Test. I've put it on my wishlist.

39RidgewayGirl
jun 13, 2012, 5:58pm

Last year, I read Alone in the Classroom and fell in love with Elizabeth Hay's writing. The book itself wasn't great; forward momentum just disappeared in the second half, but the writing was lovely; clear and precise, with ordinary turns of speech mixed with astonishing metaphors. So I was all set for an enjoyable few evenings with her Giller Prize winner, Late Nights on Air.

"I heard Abe Lamont talking about how to shape an interview and write for radio. It's not so different, is it? One thought in each sentence. Not too many adjectives. Simplicity. Intimacy. Directness. That's what I'm after, too."

Late Nights on Air is written in that same clear style, which here reflects the setting of the book; the clear, thin northern air, without unnecessary decoration, but full of the magnificence of the breadth of the country. It concerns a group of co-workers, almost all recent transplants, at a radio station in Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories in the mid-1970s. Beginning when Dido Paris is hired by the station, the story follows the various broadcasters as they adjust to life in the north and as a judge conducts hearings on whether or not an gas pipeline should be built. Inspired by a radio play dramatizing the fate of John Hornby's final expedition to the Barrens, four of them set off on a canoe trip across the tundra. The story is intensely character driven, from Gwen, the uncertain neophyte, to Dido, the charismatic and volatile focus of many, to Harry, the jaded, but wise station manager, Late Nights on Air is all about how living north of the 60th parallel changes them and how their relationships changed or didn't change over time.

I inhabited this book while I read it. I have a fascination for the northern wilderness and the canoe trip that forms the backbone of the book was beautifully described. Yellowknife was almost a character in the book, with so much based on the unique culture of the Canadian north.

40lkernagh
jun 14, 2012, 1:11am

I haven't ventured into Hay's works yet so very happy to add another Canadian author to my To Read list, taking both book bullets in the process. ;-)

41RidgewayGirl
jun 17, 2012, 12:25pm

I don't really read graphic novels. I mean, of course I've read books like Maus and Persepolis, and I read Shannon Hale's Rapunzel's Revenge series with my kids, but that's pretty much it. I just like words. But Denise Mina has written a few of them and she's one of my favorite authors.

A Sickness in the Family by Denise Mina is dark, with more of a horror vibe than a mystery. A family who buys the flat underneath theirs when the couple who owned it kill each other, knocking a great hole in the floor to add a staircase, soon finds anger and violence spiraling out of control. The youngest son, who is adopted, thinks that what's happening has something to do with a witch, who was burned at the stake in the area.

There's no breathing room in this novel. It's a half hour of relentless foreboding and horror and then it was over. Mina's never been an author to pull her punches, but in the traditional book format, there are spaces and pauses and periods of relative calm. In the concentrated form of the graphic novel, everything is amplified.

42RidgewayGirl
jun 17, 2012, 12:55pm

Sophie Hannah writes a mystery series featuring two very messed up detectives. Charlie is prone to shooting her mouth off and behaving impulsively while Simon is so repressed and angry he can barely speak. Strangely, these two work well together, although their relationship is a bit volatile. In this third installment, The Wrong Mother, they aren't even working together, Charlie having transferred to another department.

A woman and her child have been found dead by the husband. It appears to be a murder-suicide, but questions remain. Well, while the others are eager to wrap things up, Simon has doubts. Meanwhile, another woman has had an argument with her babysitter, culminating when someone pushes her into the path of an oncoming bus. She manages to get away with only a few scrapes, but she's shaken by the encounter. She's further upset when she sees on the news the story of the murder-suicide and recognizes the name of the members of the family, but the grieving father is not the man she knew by that name. Sally Thorning is works full time and has two very small children. She's tired all the time and a bit cranky with it. She's determined to find out what's going on, but she can't tell anyone. The man claiming to be Mark Breckenridge is not the man she knew by that name and with whom she had a brief fling not that long ago.

Hannah doesn't fetishize motherhood. Her young mothers are cranky and impatient and dream of a quiet night alone. She writes somewhat like Ruth Rendell, with that dark edge, although Rendell's cops were never quite as messed up as any of the detectives here.

43RidgewayGirl
jun 17, 2012, 1:14pm

I like Mindy Kaling and think she's funny, so I was happy to read her book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). It was a fun, light book from someone's who is funny and honest and willing to talk about just about anything. The most interesting chapter concerned what happens when she's dressed by stylists, where they just can't figure out how to dress someone who is a size eight.

44cammykitty
jun 17, 2012, 2:49pm

I'm going to have to read The Psychopath Test! Sounds like a more fun way to go through the DSM, and who doesn't want to hang out with Bertie. & I've heard plenty interviews that should've been ended that way.

45RidgewayGirl
jun 17, 2012, 3:02pm

I've heard of two others, in one Russell Brand walked out of an interview with a white supremacist with those same words (which are less shocking coming from Brand), and then there was the time Anderson Cooper kicked a woman who had had tons of cosmetic surgery off his show after she'd talked about how great a mother she is for giving her daughter gift certificates for plastic surgery. The Cooper one would have been more effective if he'd walked off, but probably less professional. Also, Cooper didn't use any swear words.

In The Psychopath Test a woman talks about finding people for daytime shows by asking them about their medications. No medications was boring, but too much was also bad, they were looking for the right level of insanity -- entertaining without frightening people.

46DeltaQueen50
jun 17, 2012, 6:03pm

Hmm.. not sure exactly how you felt about A Sickness in the Family, I actually thought it was quite well done. I want to track down the one by Ian Rankin.

So far I have only read one of Sophie Hannah's books, will have to rectify that soon.

47RidgewayGirl
jun 17, 2012, 8:05pm

Yeah, I'm not sure what I thought about it, either. It's just that graphic novels are so not my thing. I'm missing the part of my brain that would enjoy them, despite having been passionate about Archie comics when I was eight. I can't criticize it for not being in a genre I like! And there's so much interesting and innovative going on there that I feel like I should somehow make myself appreciate graphic novels, like learning to enjoy wine or ballet. Or maybe it's like college football or Worlds of Warcraft and if you weren't paying attention when you were still malleable, there's no hope now.

I do want to read the Ian Rankin one.

48casvelyn
jun 17, 2012, 8:12pm

I think I must be missing the graphic novel part of the brain as well. I know so many people who are really into them, but I find them hard to read, as I just go through looking at the pictures and ignoring the words or vice versa. I really can't process text and images at the same time.

49-Eva-
jun 17, 2012, 9:12pm

I hadn't even heard of A Sickness in the Family until Judy mentioned it earlier this week - it's definitely gone on my wishlist, but then I read graphic novels and comics quite often and have no problem with that format.

Also, wanted to give a heads-up that Dark Entries is part of the Hellblazer universe rather than a regular Rankin-style story.

50cammykitty
jun 17, 2012, 9:24pm

I have trouble reading graphic novels too. I don't pay enough attention to the pictures, and good graphic novels (and picture books) rely on the pictures to convey information that isn't in the text. I love The Watchmen, but I got so confused that 1/4 of the way into it, I started reading it from the beginning again. I'm surprised that I'm not very "visually literate."

& the only thing Russel Brand & Anderson Cooper could've done better would've been not to give such people airtime in the first place.

51thornton37814
jun 18, 2012, 8:35am

I totally agree about graphic novels. They are not for me either. I enjoyed Archie comics when I was in elementary school too, but I just don't really like them in novel format. I much prefer just a short comic strip although I confess that I don't really care a lot about some of the ones currently in our newspaper. I still enjoy some of the older ones like Peanuts, Garfield, Family Circus, etc. I get Unshelved delivered to my inbox daily.

52DeltaQueen50
jun 18, 2012, 2:57pm

I didn't realize that graphics were difficult for some. I just started reading them last year, and I guess I am lucky that I took to this genre so late in my reading life. I find them a great breather between my regular books. Of course, LT has been instrumental in my discovery of this genre and people have been very helpful in pointing out ones that I have really enjoyed.

53casvelyn
jun 18, 2012, 8:00pm

I don't know if it's related, but I can't watch movies with subtitles either. If I read the subtitles, I block out anything happening on screen from my field of vision and if I watch the actors, I block out the subtitles. So for me, movies with subtitles end up being more like reading a book with sound effects and people speaking another language in the background or more like watching people who speak a language I don't understand do various things and only understanding what I can glean from physical actions and facial expressions. So I don't watch many foreign films, unless they've been dubbed, because it's too confusing and frustrating.

54AHS-Wolfy
jun 19, 2012, 12:44pm

Conversely, I grew up watching animé so that probably helps me out in this regard.

55DorsVenabili
jun 19, 2012, 2:39pm

Late Nights on Air sounds fantastic - I just put it on the wishlist.

Regarding graphic novels, I've only read two, but I think I enjoy the format. I plan to read two more this year for my category. And I agree with Judy (#52) that they're a nice breather between regular books.

56RidgewayGirl
jun 20, 2012, 11:23am

Late Nights on Air is a fantastic book. I think you'll enjoy it.

Graphic novels as palate cleansers. I had not thought of it that way. I use non-fiction and short stories myself -- I've been reading Mummies of the World for months and I'm still near the beginning! But it can be put down and ignored for long stretches without losing any of the plot.

casvelyn, I like sub-titled movies much better than dubbed ones, and only ran into trouble with a Chinese film that I got on a DVD where the sub-titles were in German. I wasn't able to read the German quickly enough to be able to watch the action on screen as well. I did read the text of the graphic novel, while only looking briefly at the illustrations. I probably missed many interesting details and clues.

57dudes22
jun 20, 2012, 5:54pm

I use non-fiction the same way. Right now I'm reading Salt: A World History and I've been reading it for a while. Mostly while I'm on the treadmill.

58RidgewayGirl
Redigerat: jun 21, 2012, 10:19am

I don't generally read books by the same author back to back, but I couldn't resist reading The Dead Lie Down because I was eager to find out how Charlie and Simon, Sophie Hannah's detective team were getting on. Hannah writes most of each of her novels from the first person perspective of someone involved in the crime, alternating with a third person narrative following the police. Her two main detectives are so dysfunctional it's a wonder they've survived so far. Charlie is, in her own words, "foul mouthed, loose living, promiscuous, bent on annihilating themselves and everyone around them." Whereas Simon is a "repressed weirdo who thinks he's right about everything all the time." And yet these two are edging towards a serious relationship, with a typically disastrous engagement party.

A woman intercepts Charlie in the parking lot of the police headquarters, telling her she has something important to say, and will only speak to Charlie. Then she tells her that her boyfriend told her that he had murdered a woman. The woman, however, is very much alive.

Hannah's plots are intricately plotted and very dark and this one is no exception. I'm going to do my best to not pick up the next book for at least a few days.

59lsh63
jun 21, 2012, 12:10pm

#58 Kay, you are making me want to seek out the other books that come after Little Face. I had put them out of my mind for the time being........ I'm off to see how many there are now. See what you did lol?

60RidgewayGirl
jun 21, 2012, 2:45pm

Happy to return the favor, Lisa!

Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder begins when Lawrence Weschler wanders into the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City, California, where he encounters an oddly fascinating collection of exhibits. Beginning with the Cameroonian stink ant and the spores of a fungus, which when inhaled, cause the ant to climb upward, eventually grabbing onto the vine or trunk with his mandible, where he dies. The fungus then sprouts from the ant's forehead, raining spores down on the unsuspecting ants below. Other exhibits include a theory of memory, a very small bat and a collection of antlers, which includes the horn of Mary Davis of Saughall.

Weschler is understandably intrigued, and speaking with David Wilson, the museum's owner and curator, adds to his curiosity. Professionally presented, the museum nonetheless awakens seeds of doubt in his mind, which sprout when he researches the exhibits. Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder looks at our ideas about museums and looks at how museums came to be; originating from the wunderkammern of the early enlightenment, where wealthy men collected interesting items and grouped them together in a room or cabinet for the wonderment of his guests. Classification was optional and certainly different, with one collection including

two huge ribs from a whale (out in the courtyard); "a goose which has grown in Scotland in a tree"; "a number of things changed into stone" (in other words, fossils); the hand of a mermaid; the hand of a mummy; a small piece of wood from the cross of Christ"; "pictures from the church of S. Sofia in Constantinople copies by a Jew into a book"; "a bat as large as a pigeon"...

There is a lot packed into this slender book, from the nature of wonder itself to the history of those fascinating and eclectic cabinets of curiosity, which sprang up when explorers to the far east and the Americas began returning with things never before seen and as superstition gave way to reason.

61mathgirl40
jun 21, 2012, 9:48pm

Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonders sounds great! Maybe I'm biased, as I love exploring museums. I've added this to my wishlist.

62RidgewayGirl
jun 21, 2012, 9:57pm

If you like history and museums, you'll love it.

63mstrust
jun 26, 2012, 2:37pm

I'll be looking for that one too. I've always loved the idea of the collections of wonders and have just a few items myself, though they wouldn't amaze anyone these days. Next time I'm back in L.A. I'll be sure to visit the museum. I doubt that it existed when I moved away 15 years ago.

64RidgewayGirl
jun 26, 2012, 8:02pm

So, I just won Vengeance by Benjamin Black from the Early Reviewer program and my parents gave me a copy of Alan Furst's newest, Mission to Paris for my birthday. So I'm very pleased.

65RidgewayGirl
jun 26, 2012, 8:16pm

I arrived at the decision
that I would never make another decision.
Instead of darting this way and that,
I would stand at a crossroads until my watch
ran down and the clothes fell off me
and were carried by a heavy rain out to sea.


There's something about Billy Collins's poetry that appeals to me, non-poetry-reading person that I am. His poems manage to skirt both sentimentality and pretentiousness.

What I forgot to tell you in that last poem
if you were paying attention at all
was that I really did love her at the time.


I mark up the books I read with those tiny post-it notes that you use to indicate where to sign. Some books escape post-it free, library books get theirs removed and my favorite books go back on the shelf colorfully decorated. Ballistics will require some effort to remove all the markers, indicating lines, stanzas and entire poems.

66RidgewayGirl
jun 27, 2012, 7:36am

I liked Anne Holt's previous book about detective Adam Stubo and Joanne Vik, a retired profiler, but What Never Happens had two things I dislike; a super-human murderer and a weak female protagonist.

67RidgewayGirl
jun 28, 2012, 3:56pm

So, Sophie Hannah's doing a book signing next month in my town!

68DorsVenabili
jul 4, 2012, 9:17am

#58 and 60 - Your comments on The Dead Lie Down have convinced me to put it on the wishlist. Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder sounds fascinating as well.

69cammykitty
jul 4, 2012, 9:52am

Glad you liked Billy Collin's poetry. I like his poems too. Got to laugh at your description His poems manage to skirt both sentimentality and pretentiousness.

70RidgewayGirl
jul 8, 2012, 5:02pm

So I'm back from vacation, in which I went to the Algonquin Hotel and had a drink. Also, I found a watch with the strap made of old typewriter keys and bought it. MoMA was amazing, as was the Tenement Museum, which took over where the Ellis Island museum left off. My daughter left the book she was reading in the Lobster House restaurant on Cape May, NJ, but I had already finished it.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer is a young adult novel set in a frightening world where technological achievement has leapt forward, but human well-being has not. A lunar colony has evolved to have powers that ordinary Earth-dwellers do not. Cinder is a cyborg -- she has some replacement parts, which makes her less than human. She works repairing robots and she lives with her step-mother, who considers her a nuisance, and her two step-sisters, one of whom is her only human friend. Her step-sisters are preparing for the ball, but Cinder is not welcome.

This is an unusual and interesting re-telling of Cinderella, in the form of a dystopian novel set in New Beijing, with a deadly virus killing many of its citizens. Cinder is sold by her step-mother for medical experimentation, which brings her into contact with the prince, whose father is ill with the disease. Cinder is brave and resourceful and much less passive than the fairy tale Cinderella, although she is prone to occasional bouts of self-pity. I enjoyed reading this book, which is the first in a proposed trilogy. I'm glad my daughter prefers dystopian worlds to vampires!

71RidgewayGirl
jul 9, 2012, 10:24am

Oregon Hill by Howard Owen is pure classic noir in the best possible way. Willie Black is a journalist working for a dying newspaper in Richmond, VA. He was recently demoted to cover the night crime beat and he's got three ex-wives and a daughter who will occasionally return his calls. Black covers the murder of a college student and while the cop in charge is quick to get a confession from her boyfriend, Black begins to find enough to make him question the man's guilt. Of course, digging into an already solved case endears him to no one, from his bosses at the newspaper who are always looking to trim costs, to the cop who solved the case, who knows Black from when they grew up together in the rough and tumble neighborhood of Oregon Hill.

Black is my favorite kind of protagonist. He's messed up his life in many ways and has had plenty of time to thing things over. He's as aware of his own shortcomings as he is willing to understand the shortcomings of those people he has chosen to have in his life and to maybe even find some compassion for the down and outers he's come to know. He's too fond of keeping secrets to be reliable, but he's someone you'd want on your side, even if he might show up late and smelling of beer. The plot moves along quickly, with some interesting twists and the writing is workmanlike, but adept enough to make every character three dimensional and to create a feel for the streets of Richmond.

72mstrust
jul 9, 2012, 1:46pm

Oregon Hill looks good so thanks for the review. I try to keep up with modern noir writers as well as the classics.

Lucky you, getting to go to the Algonquin. Were you in the blue room?

73RidgewayGirl
jul 9, 2012, 2:56pm

Yes, I was. It was worth the price of the drinks. Incidentally, the "Parker" would never have been the choice of Dorothy Parker, but I found it delicious.

74-Eva-
jul 9, 2012, 5:13pm

I saw Oregon Hill on LTER, but didn't request it for some reason. Kinda wish I had now... :)

75RidgewayGirl
jul 9, 2012, 9:07pm

I took a chance on it and Oregon Hill sure paid off. Which is why, despite being bitten by horrible books from the ER program, I still request books by authors I know nothing about.

76-Eva-
jul 10, 2012, 1:20pm

There's always the hope that you'll find a brand new favorite writer, but sometimes you have to wonder whatever it was made you request something. :)

77RidgewayGirl
jul 10, 2012, 2:43pm

I felt as if I were groping through brambles in a night so dark I couldn't see my own hands. At my wit's end had been, before this, merely an expression, but now it described a concrete reality: I could see my wits unrolling, like a ball of string, length after length of wits being played out, each length failing to hold fast, breaking off as if rotten, until finally the end of the string would be reached, and what then? How many days were left for me to fill -- for me to fill responsibly -- before the real parents would come back and take over, and I could escape to my life?

Margaret Atwood's Moral Disorder and Other Stories is the story of a woman's life told in short story form. While the stories can stand alone, they work beautifully together to create a portrait of a life. Nell comes of age just before the sixties and seventies upended the social order, turning her from an independent spirit into someone just not adventurous enough. Her life is an ordinary one, but beautifully told. My favorite story is His Last Duchess, in which Nell thinks about the women she reads about in her literature class. While I love Atwood's more adventurous novels, like Oryx and Crake and The Blind Assassin, I think this quieter story allows her writing and nuanced characterizations to really shine.

78DeltaQueen50
jul 10, 2012, 2:54pm

I am planning on a category next year entitled - Author's I have been afraid of trying - and Margaret Atwood is definitely one of those author's for me. Can you give me an idea of which of her books you think I should try?

79RidgewayGirl
jul 10, 2012, 5:42pm

Well, A Handmaid's Tale is her most prominent work and it's worth reading. Alias Grace is a historical novel and a favorite of mine. Atwood's good at roaming around genres (like Michael Chabon) and so there's something to appeal to anyone, really. But those two are my favorites, although I really liked Oryx and Crake as well. I have a copy of The Penelopiad, a retelling of The Odyssey from a woman's POV, on my TBR.

80Yells
jul 11, 2012, 12:30pm

Robber Bride by Atwood is one of my faves as well.

81dudes22
jul 11, 2012, 5:56pm

I have The Blind Assassin on my TBR for one of my categories this year. Finally

82DeltaQueen50
jul 11, 2012, 9:40pm

I think I might try Alias Grace since I do love historical fiction, but A Handmaid's Tale sounds good, too. Hopefully I will love her writing and want to eventually read all of her works! Thanks for the info.

83mathgirl40
jul 11, 2012, 11:12pm

I've not read Moral Disorder and Other Stories but it sounds like it is definitely worth a read. My favourite Atwoods from the ones I've read are The Handmaid's Tale and Alias Grace.

84RidgewayGirl
jul 14, 2012, 11:53am

I'm two reviews down now, but won't have time to write anything thoughtful about them until the weekend is over.

My family (parents, brother, husband) have given up finding books on their own and simply show up and ask me for something to read. Does anybody else experience this? Is it the equivalent of having someone who is familiar with cars in the family and so losing the ability to change the oil filters or even refill the the windshield wiper fluid?

85VictoriaPL
jul 14, 2012, 12:17pm

Even worse, when you check out books from the library and your spouse assumes custody of them, so you have to renew them so you can read them yourself. I'm trying to take it as a compliment, as should you, I think.

86lsh63
jul 14, 2012, 4:41pm

#84 Kay, yes I experience this with friends, families, and co-workers. I get so nervous when recommending certain authors or certain books for people.

For example, my two sisters and I all have totally different reading tastes, one sister is appalled at my many books featuring serial killers and the like, while the other one gets a little miffed with me that I don't read the same books she does!

It's pretty funny actually...... But Victoria is right, you should consider it a compliment!

87DeltaQueen50
jul 14, 2012, 6:03pm

My husband relies on me to pick all his reading material. And I also tend to pick a lot for my Mom as well. I am pretty comfortable having to do this for them as I know their tastes pretty well. I am more uncomfortable giving casual friends recommendations as I tend to like the dark and quirky, and have often practically offended people with my recs.

88dudes22
jul 15, 2012, 7:10am

I keep a bag going for one sister for cozies and such even before I've read them since I've got so many in the TBR it doesn't matter to me. And lately I've been passing along debut novels to my sister-in-law's grandmother. I've gotten a couple from the ER program and she likes to read debut novels. I have a couple of friends who have similar tastes, or like the same authors, that we trade recommendations.

89LittleTaiko
jul 16, 2012, 3:48pm

My problem is that I usually don't get my books back from my parents. They seem to disappear into a black hole in their home. One day I'm sure they will all miraculously reappear. :)

90RidgewayGirl
jul 18, 2012, 10:19am

She thought of how many times guests would have to drink to Baby's birthday before she went crazy with boredom, and she thought this is the good-wife feeling, this teeth clenched, controlled screaming-boredom feeling. The guilty-wife feeling is better for the whole family, she reflected, that remorseful tender understanding, the seeing all his good traits because your badness has canceled his bad ones. The bad wife was far pleasanter around the home, she could stand a lot from a husband because it eased her conscience.

Dawn Powell has been a revelation to me. I hadn't heard of her at all before Turn, Magic Wheel was mentioned somewhere as a clever novel about the New York publishing industry. Powell was a contemporary with the Algonquin Round Table writers, and her writing has a quick, biting wit that Dorothy Parker would recognize, although Powell tempers it with a broad compassion for all her characters. Powell was little known during her career, and she was never able to make a living from her writing. She was quickly forgotten, but has been enthusiastically rediscovered by a few people, enough to have her novels and memoirs reissued.

Turn, Magic Wheel tells the story of a young author whose novel is just being published. He's written a book about a woman whose famous husband left her long ago, but who lives on as if they are simply briefly apart, basking in his reputation. It's about his good friend, who is understandably crushed by his portrayal of her. Meanwhile, the author juggles his experiences with his publisher, his mistress and his complex feelings for the friend he hurt so badly.

Powell is a master of description, creating vivid characters who she describes without pity, but somehow also with a deep understanding. Turn, Magic Wheel was a delight to read and I'll be hunting down her other novels.

91RidgewayGirl
jul 18, 2012, 10:43am

Rosamund Lupton's debut novel, Sister, is a crime novel in the style of Minette Walters. Beatrice's sister has gone missing and so Beatrice returns to England to find her. Living in her sister Tess's tiny and cold basement flat, Beatrice begins to lose hold of her secure American life. She's sure she's on the trail of what happened to her sister, even if the police are openly skeptical and her mother and fiancé think she's losing her grip on reality.

Sister is told in the form of an interview she is doing with a lawyer in preparation for an upcoming trial. As she wades through her recent experiences, she reveals the facts to her interviewer, amplifying the story for the reader with her motivations and thoughts at the time. Beatrice does indeed succeed in finding out what really happened, but she does so in a scattershot way, following every clue or idea as far as she can, occasioning more than one complaint about her behavior. The police start out sympathetic, but quickly grow tired of her relentless pushing.

This is an above average crime novel. I'm happy that there are several British writers willing to pick up where Ruth Rendell and PD James have left off. Sister was satisfyingly plotted and well-written, with a believable twist at the end that fit well with the story as a whole.

92RidgewayGirl
Redigerat: jul 19, 2012, 2:07pm

Kate Racculia's debut novel, This Must Be the Place has a fantastic first half, stumbles a little and then makes it securely across the finish line. Arthur Rook is knocked sideways by the sudden death of his wife. He gathers his wife's shoebox of momentoes and her cat and takes off for her hometown, specifically the boarding house run by her childhood best friend. There he meets Mona and her daughter Oneida, who is dealing with adolescence and with connecting with her peers. Racculia writes with a light and thoughtful tone, respecting her characters and weaving in odd lines of rock lyrics. She does seem to waver towards the end on whether to be coldly rational or sentimental, but she pulls it all out in the end. I do like the cleverness of her writing and will certainly pick up her next book.

He'd even once dreamed himself onto the bridge of of the Starship Enterprise and had been whipped into a froth of anxiety because he was supposed to be on the Millennium Falcon; he was in the wrong universe entirely, and Spock had neck-pinched him to shut him up.

93cammykitty
jul 22, 2012, 5:02am

I usually hate fiction about writers, but Turn, Magic Wheel sounds intriguing especially since much of it is about the aftermath of publishing something a bit too personal.

94RidgewayGirl
jul 23, 2012, 9:08am

I generally avoid that kind of self-involved fiction that involves a writer as the protagonist, etc, but this is different. It's less about the publishing industry (although those parts are fascinating -- things are very different today) than about the cost of writing about people you know. I think you'd like it.

95cammykitty
jul 23, 2012, 9:19pm

It does sound good, and honest. I was at a book event last summer where a man who published a memoir talked about how he had changed names of people, but they still figured it out and one man in particular felt really hurt by it. He said he thought no one would actually read his memoir. So yes, I can see that being an interesting event in fiction.

96mstrust
jul 24, 2012, 12:00pm

I've had Powell's Angels on Toast on the shelf for about five years now and haven't gotten to it, though it's said to be her best work. Your review of Turn, Magic Wheel makes me want that one too, but I'll need to bump her up on the list.

97RidgewayGirl
jul 27, 2012, 11:09am

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick is an extraordinary book. Demick tells the reader about a closed totalitarian society through the stories of people from a single northern industrial town, far from the artificial facade presented to foreigners in Pyongyang. This is a book not only well worth reading, but also one that's hard to put down.

98cammykitty
jul 28, 2012, 12:28am

Nothing to Envy does sound interesting. It seems like NK does a pretty thorough job of controlling journalists' access so I'm sort of surprised to hear of this book. I'd read a book about her conducting the research for her book.

99mathgirl40
jul 29, 2012, 9:53pm

Sister sounds good. I love P.D. James and Ruth Rendell, so your comment about Lupton following in that tradition makes me think that I will certainly enjoy this novel.

100RidgewayGirl
jul 31, 2012, 1:35pm

I'm behind on my reviews, but a few deserve a proper review.

I've been eager to read P.D. James's Talking About Detective Fiction, but I found it to be quite a bit slighter than I had anticipated. James talks a bit about her own writing, but primarily this is a shallow overview of the detective novel, with all emphasis put on the "golden age" of British mystery novels; from the end of WWI to the mid sixties. She does make the interesting observation that while mystery novels published in Britain during that time are best describes as "cozies", and featured gentle English village life, undisturbed by the homicide, which provides an interesting puzzle for the sleuth to unravel, American detective novels were going all hard-boiled.

101thornton37814
jul 31, 2012, 9:48pm

Sorry that book was disappointing. It seems like it could have had much more potential if improved a bit.

102SouthernKiwi
aug 1, 2012, 2:40am

I thought Nothing to Envy was amazing as well, I think it helped to put a human face on a country that's difficult to understand on the level of the individual.

103RidgewayGirl
aug 2, 2012, 11:46am

I've had a great reading summer so far, with the exception of Talking About Detective Fiction. James could have undertaken something substantial here, but instead she produced a fluff piece. It wasn't bad; there just wasn't much to it, but who can blame her? She's 92 and she's still writing, no matter that the quality has decreased markedly.

Sorry about the brief and unsatisfying description of Nothing to Envy. It's an awe-inspiring book. Really -- go read some of the real reviews posted. Or read the book. It's much less depressing than I expected.

mathgirl40, Rosamund Lupton falls very satisfactorily into that group of solid British crime writers.

104RidgewayGirl
aug 2, 2012, 12:09pm

How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but--mainly--to ourselves.

The Sense of an Ending is a brilliant, very short novel by Julian Barnes about the ordinary life of Tony Webster. He's older now, looking back to a friendship formed in school and a college relationship that ended badly. Thoughts and actions matter, but what we remember is often at odds with how others remember those same events.

Again, I must stress that this is my reading now of what happened then. Or rather, my memory now of my reading then of what was happening at the time.

The writing here is clear and beautiful and true, in a way that would have made me happy to have read several hundred more pages, even as the story has been pared down to its essential parts, with no wasted chapters, paragraphs or even sentences. Barnes has often written longer books (Arthur and George is a wonderful book, also about relationships), but here he doesn't need to.

105LittleTaiko
aug 2, 2012, 3:31pm

Great passage to quote from that book. Reading the book did make me wonder how differently some of my memories were from what other people thought happened.

106banjo123
aug 2, 2012, 5:38pm

Thanks for the reviews--I really want to read Nothing to Envy and also the sense of an ending

107-Eva-
Redigerat: aug 2, 2012, 6:24pm

What a shame about the P.D. James book being merely "overviewy" - I'm thinking she has a well of information from her experience and I would definitely want to read something indepth about that.

108mathgirl40
aug 3, 2012, 7:42am

Glad to hear you liked The Sense of an Ending. I liked it very much too (review still to come -- I'm rather behind) and agree with your assessment.

It's too bad you didn't like the P.D. James book. I'm a big fan of her novels and had been thinking of reading this one, but it sounds like there isn't much depth to it.

109RidgewayGirl
aug 7, 2012, 5:15pm

I've grown to depend on Benjamin Black to give me the kind of well-written and dark crime novel that I love best. Happily, with Vengeance, he not only delivers, but exceeds my high expectations. Set in the Ireland of fifty years ago, Vengeance tells the story of two families, unhappily bound together in a successful business. The Delahayes are Anglo-Irish and posher than the Clancys, so while they hold equal shares in the business, there's a social inequality, with resentment on both sides. Then Victor Delahaye takes Jack Clancy's son out sailing and then shoots himself, blowing open all the hidden animosities and closed doors. Quirke, a pathologist, becomes involved through his informal partner, Inspector Hackett, who feels uncomfortable among the gentry. Here, Hackett is more fully fleshed out than he's been in earlier books and the friendship between the two men stronger. As for Quirke, well, he's drinking, but aiming for moderation.

Black revels in showing us the Irish provincialism of the near past, describing it with an unsentimental clarity. He also delves into relationships in all their dysfunctional forms and Vengeance gives him a wide variety to slice open and expose to our view.

110lsh63
aug 7, 2012, 7:35pm

Nice review of Vengeance! I can't wait to see how Quirke and Phoebe's relationship will develop, or will he do something bad that will cause a rift between them? Anything's possible I guess.

111RidgewayGirl
aug 7, 2012, 9:46pm

They dance around each other so carefully. I think Phoebe is expecting to be disappointed, and Quirke is fully aware he may do so.

I like how Hackett and Quirke are becoming such good friends.

112-Eva-
aug 8, 2012, 1:12pm

I just finished the first in the Quirke series, Christine Falls, and it didn't work at all for me, unfortunately; the writing was great, but as a crime-novel it didn't work at all. I would have done better if I had ignored that it was supposed to be a mystery. :) Vengeance seems to be the one that's gotten the highest rating of the books in the series, so clearly it's getting better and better - that's always a good sign!

113RidgewayGirl
Redigerat: aug 10, 2012, 10:52am

Would Norris understand if he spelled it out? He needs guilty men. So he has found men who are guilty. Though perhaps not guilty as charged.

Henry is tired of the queen he fought so hard to be allowed to marry and has cast his eye elsewhere. Who better to get him out of one marriage and into another but his trusted secretary, Thomas Cromwell?

Here's what Hilary Mantel has done. In Bring Up the Bodies, she's continued the fascinating story of Henry VIII's monarchy from Thomas Cromwell's viewpoint, which would be enough for a great book, but she has also shown how Cromwell has changed. Serving a mercurial king and surrounded by enemies, Cromwell has always had to execute an elaborate dance of alliances and arrangements, but when Anne Boleyn falls out of favor with Henry, the members of the court and church as well as foreign powers are all sharpening their knives, looking for the main chance. And many of them would delight in bringing Cromwell down, along with the queen. How he negotiates this morass is an exciting, nail-biter of a read. Mantel is still able to keep Cromwell an immensely compelling and sympathetic character, even as his actions veer into the ruthless.

Thankfully, Mantel plans to continue working her way through the life of Thomas Cromwell.

114VictoriaPL
aug 13, 2012, 5:03pm

I'm glad you enjoyed the 2nd one, I don't think I'm ready to tackle it just yet.

115RidgewayGirl
aug 17, 2012, 11:12am

Those Jack Reacher books are just a lot of fun. They're getting a little thin these days, with any chapter over three pages being a surprise, but you can't beat Lee Child's series for escapist reading. Don't get me started on the movie being made. That Reacher, a bulky, tall and weathered guy who owns only the cheap clothes on his back, an atm card and a toothbrush can be transformed into a blow-dryed and stylishly dressed Tom Cruise in a sportscar (Reacher takes the bus or hitchhikes, dammit!) means that I'll be skipping the movie. So when my brother told that Charlie Hardie reminds him of Reacher, and that he read the first in the trilogy, Fun and Games in one sitting, it was inevitable that I'd be reading it too.

Fun and Games by Duane Swierczynski introduces the reader to Charlie Hardie, a house sitter who just wants to drink and watch old movies. He doesn't do pets or plants, but his police background makes him an attractive choice for those with expensive homes. He flies into Los Angeles, renting a car and driving up to a house in the hills owned my a Hollywood composer. He's a little surprised to find the house occupied by an actress. A terrified and battered actress with an unbelievable story about a sinister group out to get her. And off we go.

This was a fun, page-turning read. Lots happened. Hardie is reminiscent of Reacher, a non-invincible Reacher who really, really just wants a comfortable chair and a dvd player. Swierczynski, who also writes for Marvel Comics, has a talent for describing action and creating atmosphere. I've got the second book ready to go, but it will have to wait until I can read it all at one go.

116RidgewayGirl
aug 19, 2012, 12:33pm

117thornton37814
aug 19, 2012, 1:42pm

Here, I was thinking that you'd posted your haul list, and it's just a blank message. I'll be checking back!

118RidgewayGirl
aug 19, 2012, 2:03pm

Argh! I can't get it to work. Apparently, I need someone to hold my hand. I'll have to ask my SO for help, even though he will then put on his astounded face. There are many computer tasks that everyone else learned in 1995.

I'm off to try to keep track of ten over-excited nine year-olds as they run around a fun park. Then we'll feed them lots of sugar and send them home with their parents. Yay!

119RidgewayGirl
aug 21, 2012, 9:35am

The book sale was fun, as always, but more so with the added company! I can't yet post a complete list because just as I had filled my bag, along came my father and relieved me of the top third. I have no idea what was in there! The bag sale part of the book sale has a time limit. With that, and an entire bag to fill, I tend to grab all the books I think may be on my wishlist and then sort through them later, putting up duplicates on PBS or BookMooch.

I am going to learn how to add photos. I've asked my SO and he did not even roll his eyes, but we'll have to wait until we can sit down together in a leisurely fashion.

120RidgewayGirl
aug 21, 2012, 9:49am

In Mission to Paris, Alan Furst returns to the tense days at the beginning of the Second World War. Fredric Stahl is a hollywood actor sent by his studio to make a French film. While he's in Paris, the Nazis try to use him in their propaganda and Stahl discovers that it's not easy to say no to determined Nazis. He goes to the American embassy for help, only to be drawn into their web.

Furst has been writing books about good men trying to survive in Europe before and during WWII for some time now. His protagonists have integrity, but they'd also like to continue living -- making for very interesting reading. His plots are well put together and the menace very real, but his real strength is in how he evokes the atmosphere of the various parts of Europe at a very specific time. With Mission to Paris, however, Furst stumbles a little. The plot drops story lines and the characters are thinner than usual. While still an enjoyable book, this lacks the depth and the heart of his earlier novels, feeling more as though it were a quickly-filmed black and white movie than an actual time and place. Moving quickly from Paris to Berlin to Morocco to an isolated Hungarian castle, the book never got a chance to develop. But it was great fun as a fast-paced adventure story and had I not known what Furst is capable of, I would have been happy enough.

121thornton37814
aug 21, 2012, 1:39pm

I see that you read one of the books from your haul! I remember we were all surprised that it was in the sale!

122RidgewayGirl
aug 21, 2012, 1:54pm

Well, all three of us will read every single book in our book sale haul before we acquire any more books, right?*

*I couldn't even type that sentence without laughing. Gotta go and add my Early Reviewer book (a crime novel about hockey!) to my library.

123mathgirl40
aug 21, 2012, 9:18pm

Glad you enjoyed Bring Up the Bodies. I've just started it, and it seems every bit as compelling as Wolf Hall.

124dudes22
aug 22, 2012, 6:36pm

>119 RidgewayGirl: Kay - HRO (Her Royal Orangeness) was kind enough to write me a tutorial when I first tried to add pictures. I still have it on my profile if you want to try it. (Just scroll down through the junk) Of course, I haven't gone back and added my pictures to my second thread yet, but I'll get around to it.

125RidgewayGirl
aug 23, 2012, 1:15pm

Book sale update: I'll pick up the books my father put in his bag tomorrow. Then I really, absolutely, probably will post a picture and an acquisition list.

I've enjoyed the Chelsea Cain series about serial killer Gretchen Lowell and the detective in charge of catching her and who was tortured by her, Archie Sheridan, so far. Usually, I dislike books where the serial killer comes across as a super-human, Hannibal Lechter-type creature (ordinary serial killers are fine, of course), but Cain takes that tired set-up and makes it work. For one thing, she writes with a lightly humorous touch that keeps the inevitable angst and suffering from drowning the story. Her characters, even the powerful serial killer, are so well described, as to make each one familiar. And she does so with that old chestnut of showing, not telling, so the physical appearances are less important than the personalities and those personalities are never one note, even for the secondary and tertiary characters. But the series is not at all character driven. No, each book is an adrenaline rushed race to the finish line, packed with action that all shouldn't work but somehow does. I mean, none of it should work. Cain stretches believability with unlikely escapes and odd murder methods, but she's able to drag the reader along with no apparent effort on her part.

The fifth book in the series, Kill You Twice, opens with a gruesome murder and from the first chapter leaves very little breathing room. Gretchen wants to talk to Archie about the new series of murders, but he's trying for mental health and is staying well away. So Gretchen gets Susan, a now unemployed journalist, to visit her instead, suggesting that she knows who the murderer is and providing clues and red herrings to string Archie and his task force along. It was an altogether satisfying read, although it must be noted that Cain doesn't pull any punches and her books are not for the squeamish.

126mamzel
aug 23, 2012, 1:47pm

You should stack the titles up poetically and enter them in the book spine poetry competition while you're at it!

127RidgewayGirl
aug 27, 2012, 1:19pm

I haven't yet finished August by Gerard Woodward, but I'm close. I would have finished this morning. I should have finished this morning. I had to take my car in for service and I'd brought August with me for the wait. There are four waiting rooms at this place, with five televisions, but in one room the TV was off and several people were reading or working on laptops in blessed silence. All was well, desperate coffee aside, until an hour in, on of the service guys walks in an turns on the TV and sets the volume up. I asked if he could please leave it off, since everyone in the room was there for the silence but he just looked like that was the stupidest request ever and told me it "had" to be on.

Yes, I hate having unnecessary noise foisted upon me. Yes, this is one of the things that instantly transforms me from reasonably easy-going to Very Very Cranky. But is it unreasonable to want a single quiet room in a building with four rooms for people waiting for their cars? The other rooms had about the same numbers of people in them, so they weren't running out of space. And this was on a Monday morning. Wouldn't most people not be watching TV then? Why do all waiting areas now insist on being as unpleasant as possible? I do like watching TV (I am currently way too invested in the current season of Project Runway), but I resent being forced to watch.

Is everyone else fine with this? Should I just invest in a pair of noise-canceling headphones and get over it?

128katiekrug
aug 27, 2012, 1:41pm

*De-lurking in full support of your annoyance at this. And to being too invested in Project Runway!*

*Re-lurking*

129mstrust
aug 27, 2012, 2:02pm

Being forcibly "entertained" is a big pet peeve. The t.v. thing annoys me too, especially as it's usually turned to sports and they always have a sign saying not to touch the t.v., so you can't switch it off. But then I'm also rankled by how impossible it is to shop anywhere that doesn't have music playing. And this is coming from a former DJ.

130VictoriaPL
aug 27, 2012, 4:38pm

I cannot stand the blathering of an unwatched TV, you are not alone there.

131cbl_tn
aug 27, 2012, 4:45pm

For me, the absolute worst place for a waiting room TV is at the doctor's office. There's nothing worse when I don't feel well than having to listen to a soap opera or some such thing.

132casvelyn
Redigerat: aug 27, 2012, 8:33pm

I watch way more TV than I should (only every network tv crime drama currently on the air, except Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and Criminal Minds, plus a few British and Canadian crime dramas), but I hate having TVs on in public places, although I don't mind situations where the TV is set to mute/close captioned. I really hate TVs in restaurants. If I wanted to eat in front of the TV, I would have stayed home, where I control the remote.

Then again, I'm getting really mad at the cicadas right now, because they are overwhelmingly loud this year, so I probably have issues, since I'm getting mad at insects that can't help it.

133cammykitty
aug 27, 2012, 11:45pm

I've actually turned off the tv while waiting at the car dealership and been told thank you. So next time, don't ask. You can tell that was some edict that came down from a stupid marketer - not calling all marketers stupid, just the one that decided all dealership waiting rooms must have a blaring tv. Especially in the morning!!!

As for your anger at the cicada's, it's obviously displaced aggression toward all those unwatched tvs. Poor ugly big bugs.

134clfisha
Redigerat: aug 28, 2012, 10:04am

Adding to the insidious nature of public TVs.. they have them in British pubs now.. stops all conversation or encourage 1/2 the table to stare vaguely in that direction.. it really doesn't even matter if you cant here it or it's just a live view of paint drying!

edit., I meant hear. Facepalm!

135RidgewayGirl
aug 28, 2012, 9:24am

Thank you all, I feel very affirmed. I do shut off televisions if no one else is there, or at least turned the volume off. I may have also then "hidden" the remote under a stack of newspapers.

I do like cicadas, although they can be loud. They are just so unfortunate looking. I do wish our cat would stop bringing them into the house, though.

136RidgewayGirl
Redigerat: aug 28, 2012, 9:38am

August by Gerard Woodward tells the story of an ordinary family from London, who go every year to a farmer's field in Wales to camp out for a few weeks. Beginning in 1955, when Aldous meets the farmer and is invited to stay, until their last visit in 1970, when all but the youngest Jones is too old for a family camping holiday, Woodward tells of Aldous, a promising art student who finds contentment in teaching and loves his vivacious wife Colette, who loves her family and is devastated at the death of her mother. Their children, Janus, James, Juliette and Julian, grow up loving the Welsh countryside.

This isn't a book with a clear plot line. Rather, it follows the ups and downs of the Jones family, changing in point of view from one to the other. It's a book about family relationships. I liked it quite a bit. Woodward writes well and provides a vivid picture of what ordinary life was like fifty years ago.

137mamzel
aug 28, 2012, 2:51pm

About the public TVs, my daughter was in line to get a perscription at 4:30 in the afternoon and was tortured by the Food Channel.

138GingerbreadMan
aug 28, 2012, 5:35pm

Catching up on some 35 posts here... What annoys me about TV:s on in public spaces is that it becomes so apparent how TV damaged I really am. My eyes will flicker in that direction. Constantly. Regardless of what's on. Regardless of how good my book is. Horrid but true.

139RidgewayGirl
aug 30, 2012, 7:20pm

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn begins as one kind of book and twists into a different one partway through. It begins with the story of a marriage, only the wife has gone missing, with signs of an altercation and the husband is the predictable prime suspect. The story begins from his point of view and he's not an entirely sympathetic character. There's a question as to whether he's a reliable narrator.

Gillian Flynn is great at dissecting family relationships, especially dysfunctional ones. Gone Girl certainly continues with that, as well as being tremendously fast-paced, with some interesting twists. A good, entertaining summer read.

140cammykitty
aug 30, 2012, 10:52pm

GBM - That's what TV does to everybody!!! I work with a boy with autism and it's a fight if he sees a TV in a public place, even if all that is playing is commercials for some product he wouldn't be interested in anyway.

Good to see another positive review on Gone Girl. It's definitely in my 2013 reading plans.

141VictoriaPL
aug 31, 2012, 12:12pm

I only skimmed your review of Gone Girl. I'm still hoping to read it soon, just waiting for the library copy to make it to my turn on the hold list.

142RidgewayGirl
aug 31, 2012, 1:55pm

VictoriaPL, the librarian commented when I picked up my copy that it's been very popular. I returned my copy today, so I hope it reaches you.

I liked Gone Girl a lot. It's one of those books that you have to keep reading, so plan accordingly.

143VictoriaPL
aug 31, 2012, 3:15pm

That would be sweet if I got the same copy, I think they have like 27 of them.

144RidgewayGirl
Redigerat: aug 31, 2012, 3:31pm

But none of KIll Me Twice. I would really like to have a say in their book acquisition.

145VictoriaPL
aug 31, 2012, 4:10pm

Me too!

146lsh63
aug 31, 2012, 5:25pm

Kay, I'm glad that you got a chance to read Gone Girl. I thought it was amazing. I thought I heard rumor of it being made into a movie.

Small rant: I used to stalk the library catalog about two months or so before a new release, and I was able to get into the queue for it. Now new releases aren't showing up at all in the catalog.

I was told that the library system here eventually would like to purge the many copies of books they have on hand and obtain e-book rights instead. I'm fine with e-book and hard copies, but not just e-books. I have a Nook and it's great, but I will still want to read actual books too.

147cammykitty
sep 1, 2012, 12:02am

What's the point of a library if it doesn't have physical books in it? I'm cool with e-books being available, but not everyone is going to be able to afford the technology or be comfortable with it. If they start checking out preloaded e-readers to everyone, fine. Otherwise it works against the original purpose of libraries, which is to make books available to everyone regardless of economic circumstances.

148casvelyn
sep 1, 2012, 1:04am

And there are people out there (myself included) who shun e-books on principle and who use the library heavily as a more affordable source than bookstores, online or brick-and-mortar.

149banjo123
sep 1, 2012, 1:57pm

Libraries sometimes buy huge numbers of books that are new and popular; and when the interest in those books slows down, they have tons of copies they don't need. So a combo of e-books and paper books makes sense--assuming tthat there is still enough paper out there for folks like you, Cavelyn.
It seems to me that e-books are a huge racket right now--they cost almost as much as a real book, but you can't lend them. I think maybe Amazon is trying to take over the world.
But I still like my kindle.

150casvelyn
sep 1, 2012, 3:02pm

It seems to me that e-books are a huge racket right now--they cost almost as much as a real book, but you can't lend them.

Or write in them, or decorate with them, or inscribe them, or put in bookplates, or get them autographed, or inherit your great-great-grandmother's copy with all her margin notes in faded brown fountain pen ink, or get a deckle-edged copy, or have them rebound in leather, or get the fancy Everyman's Library edition with the cloth cover, ribbon bookmark, and dignified dust jacket, or gaze fondly at the beautiful cover art, or sell them to the used bookstore when you're done with them, or appreciate all the different sizes and colors and designs, or smell them, or...

Okay, I admit it. I'm a book Luddite and also slightly bitter. I'll be quiet now.

(But there will be real books in the future, because Captain Picard reads them in Star Trek: The Next Generation!)

151cammykitty
sep 1, 2012, 6:01pm

Captain Picard would know.

152dudes22
Redigerat: sep 1, 2012, 6:35pm

Someone was asking me if I had read Gone Girl just the other day. Guess I'll have to put it on the WL.

153RidgewayGirl
sep 1, 2012, 8:55pm

I have a kindle, which I like, but I still vastly prefer paper copies. There is much more satisfaction in a full bookshelf than in a full ereader!

I have just finished Middlemarch, which I read in an old Modern Library edition. I'll enjoy seeing it on the shelf.

154RidgewayGirl
sep 2, 2012, 2:55pm

To be candid, in Middlemarch phraseology, meant, to use an early opportunity of letting your friends know that you did not take a cheerful view of their capacity, their conduct, or their position; and a robust candour never waited to be asked for its opinion. Then, again, there was the love of truth -- a wide phrase, but meaning in this relation, a lively objection to seeing a wife look happier than her husband's character warranted, or manifest too much satisfaction in her lot: the poor thing should have some hint given her that if she knew the truth she would have less complacency in her bonnet, and in light dishes for a supper-party. Stronger than all, there was the regard for a friend's moral improvement, sometimes called her soul, which was likely to be benefited by remarks tending to gloom, uttered with the accompaniment of pensive staring at the furniture and a manner implying that the speaker would not tell what was on her mind, from regard to the feelings of her hearer. On the whole, one might say that an ardent charity was at work setting the virtuous mind to make a neighbor unhappy for her good.

In the small community of Middlemarch, much is happening. Three love stories; one involving a triangle, one a terribly mis-matched couple and one that sounds based on a certain kind of romance novel, involving as it does an irrepressible rake and a strong-minded, but poor girl who works as a companion to dying curmudgeon. There are no less than two wills written in spite, which have long-reaching consequences for the relatives of the dead men. There are a few secrets desperately protected and many impediments to love. The plot is an intricate web of intrigue and misunderstandings, but the real strength of George Eliot's masterpiece lies in how skillfully she draws the personalities of every character in Middlemarch.

Dorothea is a spiritual and passionate young lady living with her sister in her uncle's house. She longs for a Great Work to give her life a purpose and whiles the time away plotting improvements to the lives of the inhabitants of her uncle's estate until she meets the important and self-important scholar, Edward Casaubon. He is older and surprised to have the attention of a young woman, but is eager enough to marry her. Dorothea expects to become his helpmeet in all areas, in order to facilitate his research and writing, but marriage turns out not to be the spiritual meeting of minds that she had anticipated and Casaubon is likewise unsettled by the interruption to his work. Fred Vincy is the only son of a well-to-do family, who was educated at some expense, to enter the church. Fred's a likeable and fun-loving guy, one who is disinclined to become a clergyman. His father is disinclined to give him anymore money however, so Fred will have to find some employment, or at least a way of paying his debts, until he inherits Stone Hall. He has loved from childhood Mary Garth, whose background is not what Fred's family finds acceptable. His sister, Rosamond, is the town beauty. She meets Tertius Lydgate, recently settled in Middlemarch to take over the running of a new hospital, and is smitten. Lydgate enjoys her company, but is consumed with a determination to make a success of himself. He doesn't see himself marrying for some years, but Rosamond has other ideas.

The three relationships form the backbone of Middlemarch, but there are many more stories being told; strands of an intricate web that comes together only in the final pages of the book. Dorothea's uncle becomes involved in politics, and while he is not given to sustained effort, he does have the sense to hire Will Ladislaw, Casaubon's cousin, as an aide and to take charge of a local newspaper. Mr. Bulstrode is prominent in Middlemarch. A religious man, he has founded and is funding a new fever hospital and hires an eager young doctor to put new treatments and medical principles into practice. Bulstrode isn't a popular man and the new doctor, Lydgate, is challenged to build a medical practice when he also works for Bulstrode.

Eliot brilliantly weaves together all the different stories and manages along the way to make each character entirely themselves, from the flawed by impressive Dorothea to the most minor of walk-on parts.

155mathgirl40
sep 3, 2012, 10:18am

I enjoyed your excellent review of Middlemarch. I definitely plan to read this one day.

156RidgewayGirl
sep 4, 2012, 9:17am

mathgirl, I think you'd really like Middlemarch. I'm placing up with my all time favorites, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and The Woman in White. There's one lovely, angst-ridden love story, where the conditions keeping the lovers apart seem insurmountable, until the very satisfying end. Eliot makes her women active agents in their fate, especially Dorothea, who is prickly and self-righteous but likable for all that.

157RidgewayGirl
sep 4, 2012, 9:28am

Funny how reading one very long book makes the one that comes next feel like a short story!

Jar City is Arnaldur Indridason's first installment in his excellent crime series. Erlendur is an aging detective in the Reykjavik CID. He's a solitary man with a bad divorce behind him and a drug-addicted daughter with whom he has a difficult relationship, although they are both trying very hard. In this series debut, Erlendur investigates the case of an old man who is found bludgeoned to death in his basement apartment. It seems to be a case of random violence, until Erlendur delves into the man's history and discovers a violent and unsavory past.

The series portrays daily life in Iceland, a unique place where a relatively small population is isolated from the world by their location and culture. Indridason's descriptions are vivid and his characters are interesting. The case was as bleak as the Atlantic storms battering Reykjavik throughout the book, which has the characteristic feel of a Scandinavian crime novel, albeit in a unique setting.

158mamzel
sep 4, 2012, 3:00pm

I started this book and put it aside. I have to pick it up again. Especially since I downloaded the sequel to my Kindle!

159thornton37814
sep 4, 2012, 8:21pm

I read a later installment and need to go back to catch Jar City.

160lsh63
sep 5, 2012, 5:58pm

I can't seem to get enough of Nordic crime these days. There's just something about it.

I had Jar City then I saw Silence of the Grave was at a reduced rate, so I downloaded that as well. It's funny I was debating on whether I would read Jar City or The Savage Altar in the near future. Looks like it will be Jar City.

161RidgewayGirl
sep 8, 2012, 1:43pm

I don't generally enjoy graphic novels, finding usually that the content would have better worked as a regular novel. (Now, I haven't read any graphic fantasy, where the magical elements might be more easily described in a series of drawings than with words alone.) There are, naturally enough, exceptions. Take Maus and Persepolis, which might not have been as good without the illustrations. Memoirs are a natural fit for the graphic novel, with memory, especially childhood memories, amassed not only in words, but in all our senses. Blankets by Craig Thompson is a memoir of sorts, perfectly rendered in graphic form. I don't think the same story could be told as well without the immediacy of Thompson's deceptively simple drawings.

Craig and his brother, Phil, are raised in a house with very little to spare; neither money nor love is in abundant supply. He's an outcast at school, finding solace in his drawings, with his little brother drawing next to him. In high school Craig falls in love with Raina, a girl he meets at church camp, and their relationship is beautifully drawn. I don't want to give anything away, although the plot isn't really the point of the book. Blankets packs an understated but powerful emotional whallop about love and families and how hard it is to find a path in life. The book is divided, roughly, into thirds, with the central section telling the love story of Craig and Raina, and the flanking sections tell about Craig's childhood and his relationship with his brother. This isn't an easy book to read, despite it's form, but it's a rewarding book for all that. Thompson expertly shows how the memories we keep change us, and how our memories can be affected by our life experiences.

162-Eva-
sep 8, 2012, 8:47pm

Definitely agreeing - those stark black-and-white illustrations are so exposing and somehow vulnerable at the same time and work so well with the memoir form. Great reads all three of those.

163RidgewayGirl
sep 13, 2012, 12:31pm

Winter in Madrid is set during the beginning of WWII, after Franco has taken over Spain, punishing those who opposed him and siding with the Nazis, while keeping his war-ravaged country out of the war. Harry is an academic asked to go to Madrid posing as a translator in order to spy on an old school friend. Sandy is a businessman, whose close dealings with the Falangists require a closer look. Harry finds his old friend and discovers that he's living with a woman who was the girlfriend of another old school friend -- one he traveled to Spain with before the Civil War and who returned to fight on the Republican side. He was declared missing, presumed dead, but now there is a hope that he has survived and is now in a prison camp. Spying and being spied upon, intrigue and daring escapes ensue.

This was an enormously frustrating book for me. C.J. Sansom's writing is workmanlike; so that while it isn't bad, it also never achieves more than a steady, plodding pace. The setting is fantastic--there have been so many novels set in Western Europe during the Second World War, but few are set in Spain, and the events there are ripe ground for thousands of novels. There were serious concerns that Spain would join the war and tip the balance over to the Axis powers, while life in Spain was very difficult; years of bitter civil war and the subsequent dictatorship had left the economy in ruins. But if the time and place were well described, the characters were straight out of British central casting. In a world of shifting loyalties and shades of gray, Sansom has created his characters to be good or bad, with no surprises or nuances along the way. Despite the Spanish setting, the main characters are all British, each a stock character, straight from the box. This was less annoying than it might have been; after all, the reason they are so over-used is that they go over well. It's just a little tiresome in a book as long as Winter in Madrid to never be surprised by anything they do. Motivations are explained early and often and no one deviates from their anointed roles. I knew who would die in the daring escape long before they even knew there would be one. The plot was likewise predictable; I knew what the climactic scenes would be long before they were discussed. This is the kind of book that I would normally have set aside, but for the setting, which made it worthwhile, if not suspenseful. I'd like to roundly condemn it as a lazily written book that asks nothing of the reader, but, oh, the setting does much to redeem it.

164lkernagh
sep 13, 2012, 7:03pm

I have been meaning to get around to his historical fiction series set in the Tudor period. Some authors seems better at writing stories set in certain time periods. I wonder if that might be the case with Sansom as I have read great things about the other series and next to nothing about this one with the WWII setting. Then again, it could just be the book! ;-)

165cammykitty
sep 13, 2012, 9:10pm

Good review of Winter in Madrid. Setting & plot sound interesting, but I'd prefer a version with Spanish characters. ;)

166AHS-Wolfy
sep 14, 2012, 6:24am

Always thought about giving Winter in Madrid a try but think I'll just stick to his Shardlake books. At least for now.

167RidgewayGirl
sep 14, 2012, 9:13am

I liked G.B. Joyce's first novel, The Code, but I also like hockey, which is a pre-requisite for enjoying this hardboiled-style story. Brad Shade is an ex-hockey player who managed to play in the NHL for several years, although he was never a big name. Now he's working for a franchise, scouting out potential players to draft. His work takes him everywhere, but he mainly concentrates on the big towns and small cities of Ontario, where hockey is the only sport that matters and the teen-age players are a big deal. In Petersborough, Red Hanratty has been the coach for the junior league for decades. He's made the team a winning one and many professional players spent time skating for him. He's out-spoken and a bit of a drinker, but everyone is shocked when he is bludgeoned to death alongside the team doctor in the arena parking lot after an old-timers charity game. Shade was there, called in at the last minute to fill a slot and he was one of the last to see Hanratty alive. Shade was also there to take a close look at one of Hanratty's players, a promising young athlete who seems to have it all. While Shade isn't out to find the murderer, his interests soon make that vitally important.

When we're in the league we're not average guys with average lives. Our normal is no one else's. What we do to each other on the ice would be criminal in any jurisdiction if it were to take place on the street. Even the cleanest bodycheck would be assault. We glory in fighting. We drink to celebrate. Some do drugs, a lot steroids, but I've known some big weed smokers. A lot of guys gamble up to the line of compulsion and beyond. And we rebel against coaches who push us when we aren't inclined to be pushed, which is always, or against GMs whom we're always suspicious of. A team is just a gang by another name, playing hard, partying hard, living hard. Some harder than most. Some unable to behave differently when they hand their skates up to dry or hang them up for good.

Joyce is a sportswriter who has worked as a hockey scout and his knowledge of the inner and outer workings of the game as well as his understanding of hockey culture are what makes this book worth reading. An insider's view of how the minor leagues work is the central focus of the book, making it fascinating reading for a fan of the sport and probably unreadable for anyone else. Joyce aims for a witty hard-boiled writing style and sometimes gets there, but it mostly comes over as overly florid. The plot, while taking second stage to the atmosphere, is put together well enough to hold through the final pages. One thing that did surprise me was the author's female characters, which in this book about an entirely male sport were admittedly few. Joyce's women were as three-dimensional as the men. The love interest was better educated and comfortable in her life and skin than Shade and they interacted as equals.

168thornton37814
sep 15, 2012, 2:01pm

I'm sorry to hear that Winter in Madrid didn't work for you. I love his Shardlake series.

169GingerbreadMan
sep 16, 2012, 4:56pm

>150 casvelyn: Very well put!

170GingerbreadMan
sep 16, 2012, 4:59pm

>154 RidgewayGirl: Middlemarch is absoutely on my "someday" list. But the sheer volume of it makes it a little daunting.

171cammykitty
sep 16, 2012, 9:34pm

154 & 170 - that's exactly how I feel about it. It scares me!!! My rule is books over 400 pages count as two books, but isn't Middlemarch long enough to fill up all my 5 slots for "Classics"?

172RidgewayGirl
Redigerat: sep 17, 2012, 3:53pm

And When She Was Good is a stand-alone novel by Laura Lippman about a woman living in a comfortable suburban neighborhood who runs an escort service. Heloise Lewis has to juggle the world of the suburban single mom with her hidden job and she has to keep the different parts of her life from touching. She keeps her past hidden from everyone, including her son who has never met his grandmother and believes his father, now serving a life sentence for murder, to be dead. Unsettled by the arrest and subsequent death of another madam, Heloise decides to change her life, even as her past collides with her present.

I always enjoy Lippman's non-series novels and this one was better than usual. I'd read a short story by her a while ago in which she plays with the ideas found in this book so she's been working on this one for some time and it shows. It's a very well thought out story and it was impossible not to want to Heloise to succeed, or at least not to be caught.

173lsh63
sep 17, 2012, 4:28pm

I'm glad you liked And When She Was Good. I thought it was one of her better stand-alones as well.

Oh yeah, now the short story is coming back to me. I totally missed that when reading the book!

174RidgewayGirl
sep 17, 2012, 7:40pm

Lisa, I spent the first few chapters of the book with the odd feeling that I'd already read it, but of course I couldn't have. I like that she returned to the story and fleshed it out.

175mathgirl40
sep 17, 2012, 10:03pm

Just catching up with your reviews and am glad to see you liked Jar City. I've been reading a lot of Nordic mysteries lately, and Indridason is one of my favourites.

176RidgewayGirl
sep 19, 2012, 9:38am

Indridason writes classic Nordic Noir. I've now read three, from different points along the series, and they have all been good, although he improves as the series progresses.

177RidgewayGirl
sep 19, 2012, 9:55am

The Year We Left Home tells the story of the Erickson family, of Grenada, Iowa, in the last twenty-five years of the last century. Beginning with the wedding reception of the oldest daughter, Anita, at the American Legion Hall, and continuing, each chapter moving forward a few years and telling a self-contained story about a different member of the family, to end, where the children are approaching fifty. Jean Thompson writes with a clarity and an absence of fuss that is a pleasure to read. Each member of the family, as well as some members of the extended family, are beautifully brought to life, from Anita with her desire to make a success of having a family to Chip, the Vietnam veteran cousin who is having some trouble settling down. There's a quiet strength to this book, with its ordinary family trying to get by in a difficult and changing world.

That said, there are some flaws that marred my enjoyment of this book. Early on, there's a silly anachronism, where the family sits down to watch a show that won't be aired for another six years, which made me wary of believing the accuracy of the background of each chapter's events. Each story is very much oriented in time and place, so that careless mistake at the beginning had me doubting the authenticity of each story's setting. There's a sense in which this book is derivative of The Corrections; although they are very different in tone, there are enough similarities in a few of the characters to make comparisons inevitable, and The Year We Left Home is the lesser book.

178cammykitty
sep 19, 2012, 9:54pm

I'm impressed you knew the show was in the wrong time, but it is that kind of mistake that makes me throw an historic novel against the wall. I don't want my head muddled with stuff that couldn't possibly have been, unless of course it's a story that is meant to be that way.

179RidgewayGirl
sep 19, 2012, 10:25pm

It was an easy, if careless, mistake. She had them watching Newhart in 1976, when the show only debuted in 1982. She meant The Bob Newhart Show. And yes, an anachronism is a big warning sign for me and causes me to second guess everything that happens.

180cbl_tn
sep 20, 2012, 6:48am

I would have caught that, too. Those kinds of errors usually leap off the page at me.

181RidgewayGirl
sep 20, 2012, 7:25am

So, when that happens, I find myself wondering why I'm spending time reading the book when the author didn't care enough to spend time checking her facts. In this case, the book was clearly well written and she'd spent a lot of time with the details. It did affect my reading, though.

182RidgewayGirl
sep 22, 2012, 10:49pm

We had a party tonight, with dinner, so I'm taking tomorrow for a day of reading. The house is clean and there are plenty of leftovers, so I'm free to read all day! Hooray!

183lkernagh
sep 22, 2012, 11:00pm

Agreed! Hooray for a day of reading!

184VictoriaPL
sep 23, 2012, 8:17am

Yay for a whole day to read. Me too!

185thornton37814
sep 23, 2012, 8:21am

Sunday gets quite busy for me with everything at church so I don't have a whole day to read, but I'll have a little bit of time to do so. I do have to wash sheets when I get home from church. The cat decided to have a hairball on them this morning.

186RidgewayGirl
sep 23, 2012, 12:46pm

Ha! The other night our cat went under the bed and proceeded to vomit out an animal. We think it was a chipmunk. He needs to chew his food. And yet we still love him.

187RidgewayGirl
Redigerat: sep 23, 2012, 1:15pm

So, first book read today...I picked this up at the library because of the setting (Paris) and because I'm a little behind on my France category.

Anne Korkeakivi's debut novel, An Unexpected Guest, is based on Mrs. Dalloway, with a well-to-do woman (here the wife of a British diplomat) planning an important dinner party while her life is upended. Clare has spent the past twenty years perfecting her job as a diplomat's wife, furthering his career by being discrete, decorative and an excellent guest and hostess. Their time in Paris is drawing to a close and he is angling to be next sent to Dublin instead of somewhere less comfortable and more obscure. A last minute request to host a dinner party could make or break his chances. Clare has never wanted to return to Ireland, after her one disastrous visit when she was twenty, but she's determined to support her husband; it's what she's always done. But the chance of an Irish posting is bringing forth memories, both pleasant and bitter. Her teenage son reappears that morning, unwilling to talk about some nebulous, but serious trouble he has gotten into at his boarding school back in England. The book follows Clare through her day, shopping for flowers and cheese, getting her hair done, delivering a translation she's finished, placating the cook and chatting with the guests.

An Unexpected Guest is a quiet novel; the turmoil is mostly internal, but that doesn't make it uneventful or boring. Korkeakivi writes confidently, and with an assurance not often found in a first novel. It's a pleasure to find a quiet book that isn't trite or whimsical. I'm eager to read whatever she next writes.

188cammykitty
sep 23, 2012, 3:01pm

OMG - so sorry about the cat's appetite! I've cleaned up mouse so I feel for you.

'70s wasn't that long ago. I would've caught the Newhart thing too. Especially if she started talking about Larry Darryl and Darryl.

Interesting review of An Unexpected Guest.

189lkernagh
Redigerat: sep 23, 2012, 5:28pm

Yikes to what your cat threw up! Of all the cats we have had as members of the family over the years, nothing has been identifiable when they threw it up besides furballs.

Oooohh, I loved Mrs. Dalloway! An Unexpected Guest sounds great and has now been added to my For Later list with my local library.

190thornton37814
sep 23, 2012, 9:50pm

I'm glad Brumley won't be following your cat's lead. I honestly think he'd be more likely to play with a chipmunk by batting at it with his paw than eating it. That said--I've had my own set of challenges with him this week. I'm washing and drying the pillows now.

191DeltaQueen50
sep 25, 2012, 12:29am

An Unexpected Guest does sound good and now that it has caught my attention, I'm adding it to the wishlist.

192RidgewayGirl
sep 25, 2012, 10:47am

My local library helpfully put out bookmarks with very clear directions on how to download library ebooks. Last week, I gave it a try and checked out a National Geographic short book on shark attacks, which was very popular in my household. This week I checked out a few more. I do like the immediacy of it all.

We all have our favorite escapist reading. Mine are Chick Lit books based on the novels of Jane Austen. Really, there are more of them out there than you think. So Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo should have been an easy hit with me. My standards are very low for these books. It is a light romance set in London and the author does know the city and its surroundings. But the plot of the book wasn't based (however loosely) on any of the Austen novels. Instead it had the protagonist being fed letters that revealed that Austen had had a perfect romance of her own. So, there was that heresy. Don't mess with the lives of actual people, especially not such a well known one. An author can imagine around the known facts, but wholesale invention is not nice.

And then there was the contrivance. A certain amount of coincidence or a secondary character telling the protagonist something is standard in chick lit. But this had a well organized conspiracy to get the couple together. It required so much work from so many people that there was no sense (my cat has just run in after a chipmunk. The dogs are looking on in mild interest. I am not looking forward to grabbing the broom and staging an intervention.) that the couple in question belonged together. The guy never made a move. The girl whined about her poor love life and loneliness and also never made a move. Neither were likeable.

So I didn't love it. (The chipmunk is behind a dog bed. The dog who had been occupying said bed has fled. I suspect he lacks the killer instinct. Off to get the broom.)

193cbl_tn
sep 25, 2012, 11:46am

I read Jane Austen Ruined My Life a couple of years ago and was as underwhelmed as you were. I haven't had any desire to read the sequels.

Hope your efforts to rid yourself of the chipmunk are more successful than the book!

194RidgewayGirl
sep 25, 2012, 12:03pm

I have the bedroom door to the porch open. I hope he ran out in the general melee, but can't be sure. If he's still here, he'll let us know.

The disappointing thing about the book was that my standards are so, so low and yet the book couldn't fulfill them. That said, Shannon Hale has raised the bar somewhat. And I won't downplay my own culpability in liking such a specialized sub-genre!

195GingerbreadMan
sep 26, 2012, 5:45pm

I also tend to like simple, quiet books witha streak of menace. So I'll join the queue of folks making note of An unexpected guest.

196mstrust
sep 27, 2012, 12:05pm

Stopping in to say hi!

197RidgewayGirl
sep 30, 2012, 2:15pm

I'm wary of contemporary novels about WWII. Mostly they are adventure stories, like those written by Alan Furst or Phillip Kerr, and I quite like those, especially when they are well written. But then there is the other kind, the "literary" kind, that seeks to tell larger truths, etc... and unless they are very careful and are very, very well written, they come across, to me at least, as exploitative. So while I've had Markus Zusak's The Book Thief on my bookshelf for a while, I haven't really wanted to read it. For one thing, what I said earlier, and secondly, the whole "narrated by death" thing seemed like a terrible gimmick. But push came to shove and I picked it up.

Sometimes a book is hyped all out of proportion to it's actual worth, but there are books that deserve all the acclaim they garner and The Book Thief is one of those. The plot is similar to that of a hundred other books; a girl's family hides a Jewish man in their basement during the Second World War. Everything else is new. From the writing style, to the beautiful incorporation of the German language and culture, to even the character of Death, who isn't anything like you'd expect, Zusak never puts a foot wrong.

198mathgirl40
sep 30, 2012, 2:32pm

I agree with everything you've said about The Book Thief. I've recommended it to everyone I know.

199RidgewayGirl
sep 30, 2012, 4:33pm

I'm happy that there are already a bajillion reviews for The Book Thief as I'm unequal to the task of describing it.

200-Eva-
sep 30, 2012, 6:20pm

Death is my favorite character in Book Thief - such an unexpected take on him/her/it.

201clfisha
okt 1, 2012, 6:48am

I have been avoiding The Book Thief for ages, basically for the same reason as you, plus I do not have common tastes so tend to avoid hyped books. Still you have enticed me now, the last sentence of you review just intrigues me :)

202RidgewayGirl
Redigerat: okt 1, 2012, 1:31pm

Oh Ruth Rendell, I don't know how to quit you. You've left behind the subtlety of your prime in favor of lazy stereotypes that often carry a slight whiff of racism, and your intricate and nuanced plots have given way to announcing the culprits from the outset and clumsy set-ups. You still set your books in the contemporary world, but your language choices would be more familiar to someone living five decades ago. Nevertheless, you've retained much of your writing style and a love of oddball characters that make your latest books feel like a karaoke version of the original.

In The St. Zita Society, Rendell tells an upstairs downstairs story told primarily from the view below stairs. In a well-to-do London neighborhood, the help gathers together periodically at the pub on the corner to discuss the various issues to do with life on Hexam Place. Led by June, the geriatric companion to a self-styled princess, she struggles to perform her daily tasks. Then there's Monserrat, the au pair, whose main task is to sneak her employer's lover in and out of the house without the husband's knowledge. There's Dex, who is living on a disability allowance since his release from the mental institute and who now does gardening for some of the residents. So, there's a murder, or two, with a cover-up and a lot of lying. It's an entertaining enough read as long as being surprised by the plot twists is not important and every character behaving exactly as one would suspect given their backgrounds.

203lsh63
okt 1, 2012, 3:20pm

Hi Kay:

I enjoyed St Zita's Society, it wasn't quite as cranky, and mabye a bit less stereotypical? I don't think I will ever be able to quit her either, as you stated, the excellent writing style is still there.

204RidgewayGirl
okt 1, 2012, 3:32pm

It wasn't a terrible book, but compared to her earlier brilliance, it's quite a comedown.

205RidgewayGirl
okt 16, 2012, 3:51pm

I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to have a childhood that was not like mine. I have no real frame of reference, but when I question strangers I've found that their childhood generally had much less blood in it, and also that strangers seem uncomfortable when you question them about their childhood. But really, what else are you going to talk about in line at the liquor store? Childhood trauma seems like the natural choice, since it's the reason why most of us are in line there to begin with.

Jenny Lawson, who writes a popular blog as The Blogess, has written a "mostly true" memoir called Let's Pretend This Never Happened. After that sentence, you'll pretty much know if you want to read her book. It's written in the familiar, humorous tone often used by bloggers and the book sometimes feels like a particularly excellent and lengthy post. Lawson is a deeply weird individual (and I mean that in the best possible way), with a skewed sense of humor, the mouth of a syphilitic pirate, an unusual upbringing and a willingness to bare herself for our edification and entertainment. Let's Pretend This Never Happened walks that fine line between melodrama and humor, writing chapters that mix the very serious with the tremendously funny. This is a very funny book, of the kind not to be read on public transportation or in a Starbucks.

206GingerbreadMan
okt 16, 2012, 6:01pm

I've had The book thief on my lists for a long time, but your review hammers it home. Great.

As for Ruth Rendell, I've read a lot of similar sentiments from other LT:ers (Eva?). It's a shame when someone doesn't know when to quit. I've reached the age when, rather than hoping for past glory, I tend to get happy when my favorite bands call it quits with their dignity intact. Perhaps it's the same with writers.

207RidgewayGirl
okt 16, 2012, 6:11pm

No kidding about the bands, GingerbreadMan. I remember an interview in U2's early days, where they made fun of the Rolling Stones and other superannuated rock bands stretching their paychecks, and now they're one of them. Not the worst, but still. And Bob Dylan has a new album! I heard a song and wondered how Louis Armstrong had gotten even gravellier.

In regards to the Jenny Lawson book; I guffawed, loudly, several times in the reading of this book, but it is not for the faint of heart. You really can't be tolerant of foul language. You have to embrace it. And also be able to read about inappropriate things done to the wee corpses of animals (her father was a taxidermist) and be fine with the mention of female genitalia. I think you'll love it, Anders.

208RidgewayGirl
okt 17, 2012, 10:06am

Jon McGregor writes with an understated beauty that astonishes me. I read So Many Ways to Begin last year, and loved the quiet story with all the power running underneath the surface. He's a subtle writer. In his new short story collection, This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You: Stories, McGregor keeps his understated writing style, but many of his stories take place in a dystopian world set in the near future. There's a lot going on, but the author leaves the reader to discover what's going on in the asides and background. Some of the stories have characters in common, while others only hint that maybe the protagonist is someone we met earlier. It's a surprisingly diverse collection, with McGregor's focus on everyone from a farmer running a successful business to a survivalist under government observation to a father who has a hard time obeying the restraining order against him.

I like to read short story collections slowly, because they can often get a little repetitive. That didn't happen here and I ended up reading it in immoderate chunks.

210-Eva-
okt 18, 2012, 1:20pm

->209 RidgewayGirl:
That's hilarious!!

211SouthernKiwi
okt 19, 2012, 2:44am

>209 RidgewayGirl: lol the guy in photo 19 looks like he's just read something he can't unread, and photo 28 is classic!

212RidgewayGirl
okt 19, 2012, 11:54am

Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden tells the story of the Bird family of Moosonee, Ontario in the form of alternating chapters from the point of view of Annie and her uncle, who is laying in a coma in the local hospital. Moosonee's way up there near James Bay and is inaccessible by road. Will is a former bush pilot with a drinking problem, and he cares deeply for his friends and family and tries to teach his nieces about tribal traditions and how to survive in the wild and unpopulated lands around James Bay. Annie was always less popular than her sister, but when Suzanne disappears in Toronto, she is determined to find her and bring her home. Suzanne had run away with a man with connections with the drug trade and the gang members are out for revenge.

I began this book with great excitement. Who doesn't want to read a story of life on wild edges of Canada? But a large portion of this book isn't set in northern Ontario, but rather in New York, where Annie becomes a model and party girl. These sections feel more like a series on the CW and fit uneasily with descriptions of setting up a winter camp on James Bay or on the daily life of the inhabitants of Moosonee. I felt like I was reading two different books, one of which I had very little interest in. Likewise, the vengeful drug lord plot, which was too much of a thriller and took away a lot of the strength of the book as a whole. I think that half of this book was fantastic and the other half sheer drudgery. I'm sure many people would love to read a book about a partying model, but they aren't necessarily the same ones who would enjoy a book about ordinary people living in a cold and wild place.

213cammykitty
okt 19, 2012, 12:58pm

I felt like I was reading two different books, one of which I had very little interest in. That's exactly how I felt when reading Joplin's Ghost that had a current time Rap plotline and another one back in Scott Joplin's time. That's the problem with books that contrast two vastly different lifestyles. It's hard to blend them together, and not likely both will appeal.

214Yells
okt 19, 2012, 4:30pm

212 My sister lives and teaches in Moosenee (Moose Factory) and takes what she calls 'the piss train' to get there. It really is remote but apparently it has a Brick store.

215lkernagh
okt 20, 2012, 12:20am

Great review of Through Black Spruce Alison. I haven't picked it up yet - not sure if I will like Boyden's writing style - but I have made a note of you comment about the manner in which the story is presented. It tells me that if I do decide to read this one, I need to pick a time when I can spend long stretches of time with the book and not my usual 25-30 pages a night haphazardly over a number of days/weeks.

216mstrust
okt 21, 2012, 2:04pm

>205 RidgewayGirl: I read that one earlier this year and agree with your review. Weird and disturbing. Also a bit shocking to find out that the Shakespearean mouse on the cover is real.

217RidgewayGirl
okt 24, 2012, 3:07pm

An Unfinished Season is Ward Just's coming of age story set in Chicago of the 1950s. The year before Wils goes off to college is the year his father sees his control of his business challenged as his workers strike. His mother is frightened and his father begins carrying a gun in a duffel he carries everywhere with him. Wils gets a summer job at a local Chicago paper and spends his time juggling two worlds; the gritty, hyped up atmosphere of the newsroom and the genteel debutante parties he attends several times a week. He's not sure what he wants to do with his life, but he knows he doesn't want to follow along the well worn paths set for the well-heeled sons of the affluent families of the North Shore.

More than the story itself, the center of this book is the city of Chicago and the atmosphere of the 1950s. Just writes beautifully, and here he puts his skills to work describing the politics and manners of a world just beginning to change. Wils is less important than he thinks he is, but what nineteen-year-old is, and its through his eyes we get a snapshot of the world at a very specific time and place. Just is an underappreciated writer of great skill and heart and I'm always happy to read one of his books.

218christina_reads
Redigerat: okt 24, 2012, 4:03pm

Newsrooms and debutante parties? I'm intrigued!

219RidgewayGirl
okt 25, 2012, 11:01am

Ellen Feldman's last book, Scottsboro, made my "best of" list in 2009 and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize. It was an amazing, thought-provoking book. So I was very happy to see that she had a new book out called Next to Love. Set during and after the Second World War, Next to Love follows the lives of three women as they watch their husbands leave to fight in the war, with some never returning home and those that do are changed in fundamental ways. Feldman is both a talented writer and a gifted storyteller, so her three women and their stories make for a compelling read. There's Millie who, having lost both her parents young, feels that she can't possibly lose her charming husband, and Grace, who puts great store in the life she and her husband Charlie imagine they'll share when he returns to her and the baby. The greatest focus and most interesting character is Babe who, despite growing up in the wrong part of town, nonetheless falls in love with a boy from a good family and they continue their relationship despite the disapproval of many. Babe is well aware of how and why she doesn't (and cannot) fit in and be accepted and while it gives her an edge, she doesn't allow it to make her bitter. The war gives her more freedom than she could have expected, allowing her to work at the Western Union, instead of cleaning houses or at the five and dime. She's determined to make her own path, even if it's well within the boundaries of her small Massachussetts town.

I had a hard time putting this book down. It's highly readable but, in the end, it lacks the fire and bite of Scottsboro. This is a straight up historical novel with sympathetic characters doing their best at a turbulent point in history. I enjoyed it, but doubt I'll still be thinking about it in a few days. I hope this isn't a direction that Feldman has decided to go, although it's probably a much more salable book than Scottsboro.

220cammykitty
okt 27, 2012, 3:38am

An Unfinished Season sounds really interesting!

221RidgewayGirl
okt 29, 2012, 11:16am

Dedicated to Angela Carter, My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me is a collection of forty fairy tales written by an impressively wide array of authors, from Neil Gaiman and Jim Shepard to Aimee Bender and Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, and adapting, reimagining or loosely basing stories on everything from our most traditional fairy tales to mythology to fairy tales from Asia and Japan. Will it surprise you to find out that Joyce Carol Oates chose Bluebeard? Or that John Updike picked the same tale, but told it from Bluebeard's point of view and set it in modern Ireland?

In any collection this diverse, some stories are amazing, a few fall flat and a handful are fantastically bizarre. It took me quite a while to read all forty tales, they not being the kind of thing to read one after another. I liked that the editor, Kate Bernheimer, chose several stories by new authors, some of whom have not yet written a full-length novel and others who are not well known. She also included several non-Western authors, who adapted stories from their own countries and made the collection a bit unexpected; without the easy handle of a familiar plot to anchor the reader they demanded a little more of me. My only complaint has to do with the book's organization; with the fairy tale each story is based on found only in the table of contents and information about each author stuck in the back, I was constantly flipping around before and after each story.

222lkernagh
Redigerat: okt 29, 2012, 2:07pm

Making note to self to add My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me to my growing candidates list of fairy tales for my 2013 challenge. Thanks!

ETA: its already there. You think I could remember a title like that...... ;-)

223DeltaQueen50
okt 29, 2012, 6:29pm

Definitely will be adding My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me to the wishlist. (Love that title!)

224GingerbreadMan
okt 30, 2012, 10:47am

Been curious about this ever since I heard the great title, so very happy to read that review. Thanks!

225clfisha
okt 31, 2012, 6:23am

I really really don't need yet another short story collection to read.. promptly adds My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me to wishlist.

226RidgewayGirl
Redigerat: okt 31, 2012, 10:52am

A decent horror story must be the hardest kind of tale to tell successfully. Too much and you have your readers rolling their eyes and laughing, too restrained and the whole endeavor falls flat. I'm not a reader of the genre, generally because my suspension of disbelief is minimal when faced with anything supernatural. A house is a house and I don't jump at things that go bump in the night, even when my SO is out of town. I do lock the doors at night, but walking through an unexplained cold patch just has me putting socks on. I don't read scary stories very often, is what I'm trying to say, but I do end up doing so occasionally, because they've been well reviewed or, more often, because a favorite author has taken a stab at it. I'm usually disappointed.

I've enjoyed Andrew Pyper's books so far. He writes thrillers, with a Canadian flavor; his best ones are set in small towns and are generally well plotted, so that the endings don't feel rushed or implausible. I got my copy of his newest novel, The Guardians, and began it without knowing anything about the plot; had I known it was about an evil-infested haunted house, I would have stuck it on the bottom of my TBR. I'm glad I didn't, though, because The Guardians was both atmospheric and very, very readable.

Four sophomore boys played on the high school hockey team in the small Ontario town of Grimshaw that year and were friends. Then something bad happened, involving a missing teacher, and they all vowed never to tell anyone. Years later, Trevor is coming to terms with his newly diagnosed Parkinson's disease when he returns to Grimshaw to attend the funeral of one of the other boys, Ben, the only one who stayed in Grimshaw, living across the street from the old Thurman house, who has committed suicide. He's determined to keep his stay in his hometown as short as possible, even as he rekindles friendships from decades ago, but then another woman goes missing and he can't help but notice parallels from the incident when he was in high school and it seems he'll have to find out just what is going on in that house.

It's a fairly basic and well-trod set up, but Pyper manages to make it interesting by diving into the lives of small town teen-agers, both the ones who don't see anything but continuing down the paths expected of them and those who dream of escaping the confines of small town life. Pyper evokes life in a small, Canadian town, where the high school hockey players are stars, albeit stars who eventually graduate to manage small stores or work in the construction industry. And the house is creepy. Really creepy. And there's that evil presence from the past thing, but adeptly handled. I never once rolled my eyes.

227RidgewayGirl
okt 31, 2012, 11:26am

I wasn't expecting much from Backseat Saints, but I wanted something diverting and not too demanding to read and Joshilyn Jackson's book looked like it'd fit that description. What I found was indeed diverting -- I couldn't put it down. Set in Amarillo, Texas, Ro is the faithful wife of a man she loves and who loves her. He also, periodically, beats the crap out of her and it becomes obvious to her (long after it's been obvious to ER staff and a neighbor) that if she doesn't leave, he will eventually kill her. He's told her many times, however, that that's not going to happen. She is not going to be able to walk away from her marriage. So Ro determines that it's him or her and she decides to shoot him, which is a lot easier to think about when endlessly judging his moods than to actually do.

Ro is a great character. She's made a habit of choosing the wrong men, always ending up with men like her father, who can't help taking a swipe at her, and she's not good at being alone, but she's clear-headed about her future prospects if she stays with her husband. She's a little less clear-headed about how to get herself out safely and sometimes her plans are based more on wishful thinking than on reality, but she's determined to try. Her husband isn't a monster, and their attraction for each other is evident, but he does have both a temper and the belief that she belongs to him. I liked what Jackson did with this relationship; I've read books where I couldn't figure out why on earth the woman was ever within ten feet of the embodiment of evil she married and I think the relationship here is a more realistic portrayal of an abusive relationship, with hopeful times and good times present as well.

Jackson writes with a light touch that leavens the subject matter somewhat. Ro's voice at the beginning of the book is a little too hillbilly, but that settles down after a while. The plot moves along and while you can feel Ro's loneliness and fear, you can also feel her determination to survive and make a life for herself. Also, Ro's dog, fat Gretel, decribed as "dim and lovely", is a character in her own right and reminds me more than a little of my funny girl, currently twitching with doggy dreams at the foot of the bed.

228GingerbreadMan
okt 31, 2012, 6:29pm

Two good reviews Alison! Making note of The guardian - although I hope the writer isn't hating on small town life routinely. I hate when the presumption that everybody who stays in a small town does so out of passivity and conformity is made.

229RidgewayGirl
okt 31, 2012, 6:46pm

Don't worry, he does't hate on small town life, rather he understands it. A major character chose to stay in Grimshaw and makes a good argument for staying where you're planted.

230cammykitty
okt 31, 2012, 10:10pm

Good review of The Guardian. October is over so after I'm done reading Damned, I think I'm done with horror for awhile but it does sound good. Damned is hardly horror at this point though - I'd have to describe it as a coming of age novel set in Hell.

231RidgewayGirl
nov 1, 2012, 1:56pm

My local Friends of the Library opens their doors on the first Thursday of every month. They have major sales twice a year and the latest big event was last weekend, so today was very quiet. Unfortunately, they let me know that everything was half price today, so I blew the lid off of my hard-won reductions in my TBR, amassing ten new books in one go. It could have been worse.

232mamzel
nov 1, 2012, 2:17pm

Making sure you have enough for the next book drought, right?

233RidgewayGirl
nov 1, 2012, 2:21pm

The zombie apocalypse, actually. Speaking of which, have you all seen the Joss Whedon video explaining his choice in this presidential election? It's worth watching. And, yes, the zombie apocalypse is invoked.

234psutto
nov 2, 2012, 12:04pm

-233 that Wheedon political message made me laugh

235thornton37814
nov 3, 2012, 7:49am

Congrats on your book haul!

236mstrust
nov 3, 2012, 11:55am

I brought home a big haul (24) from our Friends of the Library sale last week too and am still trying to fit them onto the shelves. Makes for a fun couple of hours, doesn't it?

237RidgewayGirl
nov 3, 2012, 12:57pm

My enabling SO has promised to make a few more shelves, which will allow me to fit more books on the built-ins in the living room. Last Spring he built two bookshelves for the bedroom. Of course, he had to buy more tools in order to complete the job properly, so perhaps we enable each other. Readers, if possible, marry an amateur woodworker.

238RidgewayGirl
nov 3, 2012, 1:31pm

Mr. Peanut by Adam Ross

Can marriage save your life, or is it just the beginning of a long double homicide?

David Pepin has fantasized about killing his wife for some time, long enough to even have written a manuscript about it. Then she is found dead and it's unclear whether she committed suicide or was murdered, and David is naturally the prime suspect. The two investigating detectives have marital problems of their own. Hastroll's wife has retired to her bed and refused to explain why and the other detective is Sam Sheppard, the man The Fugitive is loosely based on, who served time for the murder of his pregnant wife, but who later had his conviction overturned.

This book felt misogynistic to me, with every female character consumed with a silent dissatisfaction they are unwilling to articulate to their increasingly desperate and concerned husbands. Marilyn Sheppard is the only woman whose point of view we get to see and she is entirely consumed by her husband's untidiness and infidelity. She doesn't have agency outside of reacting to his activities. (I now understand why so many reviewers fell over themselves to praise Jonathan Franzen's ability to "write women". After this book, I'm inclined to do the same.)

That said, there was much that was interesting about this book. Ross takes many scenes and repeats them from different points of view, and even from the same character's point of view. In a less able writer's hands, this might be boring, but I found these scenes to form the most interesting parts of Mr. Peanut. And the long section detailing the days leading up to Marilyn Sheppard's murder was fascinating, especially the scenes told from both spouses' points of view. In them, Ross vividly demonstrates how one person can be happy in a relationship and convinced it has never been stronger, while the other person is inarticulate with despair. This is the author's first full length novel and it shows quite a bit of promise, if he can get a handle on writing women as people, rather than adjuncts and impediments.

239clfisha
nov 4, 2012, 5:37am

I am always bemused by modern books that are (or feel) mysonginistic & there are sadly plenty. Sometimes there's a reason but mostly it's like 40% of the population disappeared and the remaining 10% only pop into existence when a man needs them to react to them or due tragically. Hmm maybe I need to stop doing the Bechdel test!

Great review btw.

240DeltaQueen50
nov 4, 2012, 1:56pm

Great review of Mr. Peanut, a book that frustrated, maddened yet deeply intrigued me. I too look forward to reading more from this author because so much talent was displayed in Mr. Peanut even though there were also some pretty huge flaws.

241RidgewayGirl
nov 4, 2012, 7:39pm

clfisha, I know, right? Mr. Peanut would fail the Bechtel test, but I wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt, but a book with so many characters and a long stretch narrated by a woman should have known better.

DeltaQueen50, I agreed with much of your review. His writing does show enormous promise. I'd like someone to pound him over the head until he 'gets it', at which point he might do something really noteworthy.

242RidgewayGirl
nov 8, 2012, 11:36am

Can I just start out by telling you that The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf is a terrible book? I'm going to be as nice as I can, but I only finished it because I was reading it with VictoriaPL and also I have a problem getting rid of books I haven't entirely read, and I wanted to get this one safely out of the house.

So, the basic plot of the book is that two seven-year-old girls go missing early one morning from their small Iowa town. They are best friends and both live in houses that back onto a large forest. Petra is the only child of a middle-aged professor and his younger wife, who struggled for years to have a baby. Calli is the daughter of an abusive alcoholic father and a negligent, but loving mother who has a lot of issues. Calli has also not spoken since she was four and no one knows why, primarily because no one has tried to find treatment for her, although the school does send her to the guidance counselor a few times a week. The deputy in charge of the investigation had a long relationship with Calli's mother before they both married other people and they have a lot of unresolved feelings for each other.

The story is told in very short chapters, switching between several points of view, making this book quite a bit shorter than its page count indicates. Luckily, the name of the person narrating is put up at the top of each segment in large letters, because the voice never alters. The seven-year-old girl sounds exactly like the middle-aged professor who sounds exactly like the under-educated mother. One of the girls has a third person narration, for no purpose I can fathom. There are several weighty issues dealt with in this book, from spousal abuse to child abuse to selective mutism to kidnapping to assault to alcoholism, but since there is so little room to explore each issue, you don't have to worry about taking any of them seriously and, indeed, the characters themselves don't worry about things too much.

Are you wondering if I liked anything about this book? The cover was nice. I mean, it's a standard illustration, featuring the torso of a young girl facing away from the camera, but the clothes and the age of the girl actually correspond with a character in the book and its a pretty picture. That was good. There was nothing really objectionable in the book; it didn't espouse satanism or have much in the way of swear words, which is something of an accomplishment considering one of the narrators was a twelve-year-old boy. The crime scene people were very tidy, which is nice because who wants to clean up fingerprint dust, right? They also don't find any clues, which are obvious and left to a parent to find, which means they may not have done the best job, but I really hate dusting and would not want to be having to worry about the parents here having to vacuum while their daughters were missing, so it was considerate of them. I think I, personally, might have wanted hundreds of law enforcement officers marching around my home in muddy boots if one of my children had disappeared, but the characters here seemed fine with the half dozen officers mentioned in this book, wandering around, talking about starting a search tomorrow sometime, so who am I to judge? Also, if the police had done their job, the thrilling climax would have been avoided entirely, and we all know that a thriller-like book needs a thrilling and dangerous climax.

243VictoriaPL
nov 8, 2012, 12:21pm

After I finished it I was thinking - why did we pick this book? Was it one we found at a bag sale? We must do better next time!

244RidgewayGirl
nov 8, 2012, 12:25pm

I think we both had it on our TBR shelf. It has a high rating here on LT, so it isn't like we knew it would suck ahead of time.

I can't wait to read your review. Everyone, she'll be fair and far kinder than I.

245thornton37814
nov 8, 2012, 1:58pm

At least the cover was nice!

246-Eva-
nov 8, 2012, 2:45pm

That sounds terrible! I remember it doing the book-blog rounds and everyone seemed to be loving it (not just because of the cover...), but maybe they were "sponsored" reviews.

247cammykitty
nov 8, 2012, 6:52pm

Painful! And you both finished it?

248RidgewayGirl
nov 8, 2012, 8:10pm

We totally did. We read the heck out of that book. I will admit that I hate-read much of it.

249lkernagh
nov 8, 2012, 10:55pm

Wow. Thanks for sparing me that reading grief.

250clfisha
nov 9, 2012, 4:37am

hate-read nice term. I have never done that oh no! :)

251dudes22
nov 9, 2012, 6:13am

I, for one, thank you for making a sacrifice for those of us who were considering this. I ran right over to BM to take it off my wish list and noticed that there was one available for mooching. Guess you couldn't wait to get it out of the house :)

252ivyd
nov 9, 2012, 1:37pm

>242 RidgewayGirl: Love your review! I'll pass on the book.

253cammykitty
nov 10, 2012, 1:26am

LOL!!! Was thinking a bad review on LT could slow a mooch down. But at least it has a "nice" cover.

254mstrust
nov 10, 2012, 12:04pm

Ha! I'd always thought of it as "forced" reading when I made myself finish a book I didn't like, but "hate read" is my new favorite phrase.

255RidgewayGirl
nov 14, 2012, 10:02am

Maybe that's what West found so irresistible about Zenia, Tony used to think: that she was raw, that she was raw sex, whereas Tony herself was only the cooked variety. Parboiled to get the dangerous wildness out, the strong fresh-blood flavors. Zenia was gin at midnight, Tony was eggs for breakfast, and in eggcups at that. It's not the category Tony would have preferred.

In The Robber Bride, Tony, Charis and Roz have all fallen prey to Zenia, or rather their husbands and boyfriends have been stolen away along with other things they held dear, like trust and security and chickens. Zenia, a talented grifter, knows how to get each woman to trust her, until she's taken what she wants and disappears. First is the diminutive, studious Tony, an orphan studying the history of war and living in a residence hall where she does not mix comfortably with the boisterous girls enjoying college life. Then she meets West, a music student with whom she forms a close friendship only to discover that he's living with the glamourous Zenia. Charis has learned how to disappear into herself, a necessary skill to surviving her childhood, first with a mother with a mental illness and then with relatives who are willing to do their duty by her. She finds security for herself though, by creating a home in a drafty little house on an island a short ferry ride from Toronto. With the addition of Billy, an American avoiding the Vietnam War and a flock of chickens, she forges a small family for herself and willingly sets out to shelter and heal Zenia, who tells her she's dying of cancer. And then there's Roz, big-boned and loud, who has a family she loves and a burgeoning business empire, for whom Zenia poses as a talented war correspondent looking to start a career in a gentler place.

Often in a book with a shifting point of view, I find myself preferring certain characters and wishing they had more time and others less, or I find it hard to fully involve myself in the story, because the emotional emphasis keeps shifting. Margaret Atwood's so good at what she does, however, that I found myself equally invested in each of these three very different women. While Zenia, a woman willing to betray other women to get what she wants, is the center of the book, the real story is about the friendship between Tony, Roz and Charis, who would not have become close had they not all been deceived by Zenia. Each is vulnerable because they are open to friendship and it is ultimately that openness that saves and heals them.

I've enjoyed every book by Margaret Atwood that I've read. She not only writes with brilliance and clarity, but her books are endlessly diverse.

256RidgewayGirl
nov 16, 2012, 4:36pm

I am not, not, not going to complete this challenge, but I kinda knew that in the beginning, what with adding both longer books and more challenging books to my challenge. So, since I can't make it, I'm going to curl up contentedly with Baudolino and cheer the rest of you on. You can do it!

257lkernagh
nov 16, 2012, 7:45pm

Good idea Alison. I am looking forward to what you and the others think of Baudolino. As close as I am to finishing, I might need the encouragement. I keep allowing myself to get distracted by other books.

258christina_reads
nov 16, 2012, 11:48pm

@ 256 -- Nothing wrong with that, RG! Welcome to the club of those of us who bit off more than we could chew. :)

259dudes22
nov 18, 2012, 7:49am

I knew I probably wouldn't finish either. I figure as long as we enjoy the journey. You're ahead of me.

260soffitta1
nov 21, 2012, 7:58am

I am also a huge Atwood fan. She seems to defy categorisation - from Sci-Fi, to fantasy, to Fem-Lit. Excellent. I first came to her through Blind Assassin then just had to find every book she had ever written. I still have a few to find / read, but really her impact on me has been immense. I think my favourite is The Handmaid's Tale - just blew me away.

261GingerbreadMan
nov 21, 2012, 6:07pm

Having a delightful time catching up on your thread, reading some pretty awsome and wicked reviews. The weight of silence was just hilarious. it didn't espouse satanism or have much in the way of swear words had me laughing out loud. Sometimes the nice things we painstakingly manage to say about something horrible says it all.

262DeltaQueen50
nov 22, 2012, 1:37am

Happy Thanksgiving, Kay.

263RidgewayGirl
nov 22, 2012, 7:41am

Happy Thanksgiving, all. Let's eat turkey and pie, while regarding our abundant TBRs with gratitude, looking back over the year to thank everyone for book bullets large and small (some of you are like machine guns!) and for all encouragement to keep reading and talking about the books we've read.

264lkernagh
nov 22, 2012, 10:58am

Stopping by to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!

265RidgewayGirl
nov 25, 2012, 2:04pm

Most kids grow up leaving something out for Santa at Christmas time when he comes down the chimney. I used to make presents for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Jeanette Winterson was adopted by an angry woman who rigidly adhered to a fierce pentecostalism. Often told that they'd chosen the wrong child, she grew up love-starved and angry. In Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? Winterson describes her upbringing where being raised by a woman unable to love or to receive love left indelible marks on her.

There are people who could never commit murder. I am not one of those people.

It is better to know it. Better to know who you are, and what lies in you, what you could do, might do, under extreme provocation.


But what should surely be a harsh and difficult read is not that at all. Winterson doesn't gloss over the neglect or the uncertainty or the abuse, but she doesn't dwell on it, either. And she loves her history, her working class roots in a community on the outskirts of Manchester. And she was saved by books.

The library held all the Eng lit classics, and quite a few surprises like Gertrude Stein. I had no idea of what to read or in what order, so I just started alphabetically. Thank God her last name was Austen...

This is one kick-ass book. Winterson here allows the reader to not only experience her fear and lonliness, and she also tries to understand what drove her mother, and she writes about Mrs. Winterson with no small degree of compassion. She made it from living in the back of a mini, after being kicked out of her house at sixteen, to attending Oxford at a time when both being female and working class were strikes against her, to becoming an influential writer. This required no small degree of strength and hope and Winterson tells us the story with an emotional honesty that makes the whole journey well worth taking with her.

266soffitta1
nov 25, 2012, 2:19pm

Good to see a positive review, I have read some of her fiction, but not this yet. It is on the 2013 World Book Night list as well. Adding to wishlist!

267clfisha
nov 26, 2012, 5:26pm

Great review & on the wishlist it goes!

268lkernagh
nov 26, 2012, 7:17pm

Great review! The only Winterson book I have read so far is Oranges are not the Only Fruit. That one also seems to pull in some information from Winterson's personal upbringing.

269psutto
nov 28, 2012, 4:36am

Great review, WL

270GingerbreadMan
nov 28, 2012, 9:21am

I loved Winterson's early work (up til Sexing the cherry), but she lost me on the way somewhere. This looks more in line with where she started out, and less abstract experimenting, so I'll definitely check this one out!

271RidgewayGirl
nov 28, 2012, 9:34am

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is fiction, but drawn largely from her childhood. Winterson points out some of the divergence points as well as giving us her mother's reaction to her book.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? is a straightforward memoir. Not experimental at all -- Winterson's life doesn't need any bells or whistles to give it a greater impact.

272RidgewayGirl
nov 28, 2012, 9:50am

Every so often, and sometimes more often than others, I just need to read something purely escapist. And the Lee Child Reacher series is exactly that. My entire family loves them, so one of us picks up the book as soon as it arrive at Costco and it travels through the five of us in short order.

A Wanted Man is the seventeenth book about things happening to Jack Reacher, ex military policeman and current drifter, through no fault of his own. Sure, a few of the books involve things that happened because he used to be an MP, or while he was an MP, but mostly he has a great skill at stumbling into violent conspiracies.

In this case, Reacher was just hitch-hiking his way to Virginia when he's picked up somewhere in Kansas by a group of three office workers on their way home from what Reacher assumes was a team building exercise. A few miles and a roadblock later, he's rethinking that assumption. Meanwhile, back in Kansas, the local sheriff calls in the FBI when a murder is observed in an old pumping station. Soon thereafter the only witness disappears and a local cocktail waitress goes missing.

As usual, the plot of the novel races along with plenty of twists, turns and bullets. As usual, the plot is ridiculously over the top, but told in such a logical way that you just kind of go along for the ride. And typically enough, there's no breathing room given at all. One change in this book is that Reacher talks quite a bit more than he has before, being downright chatty for much of the book. And he's gotten cranky, which I hope is only due to the broken nose he sports throughout the book. He's ruder here, willing to gratuitously insult the poor people who are just going about their daily lives. I very much hope that this is only because he just found out who's playing him in the movie version and that in the next installment he'll be back to being his usual taciturn, but even-tempered self.

273VictoriaPL
nov 28, 2012, 7:52pm

...stumbling into violent conspiracies
Isn't is amazing how many mysteries rely on that premise? Is it because our sleuths are more observant individuals? Or do these authors need to work a little harder and not rely on mere circumstance?

274RidgewayGirl
nov 29, 2012, 8:38am

District and Circle is a slim volume of poetry by Seamus Heaney, although my favorite was the few pages in the middle of what the author called Found Prose; beautiful short descriptions. Most of the poetry was about the author's rural Irish childhood, but other poems wanders into the American Midwest or to the London Underground. Lushly descriptive, they evoke time and place more completely than anything I've read, or even a sepia-toned photograph. In Saw Music Heaney describes a busker in a store doorway:

Flop-wobble grace note or high banshee whine.
Rain spat upon his threadbare gabardine,
Into his cap where the occasional tossed coin
Basked on damp lining, the raindrops glittering


275cammykitty
nov 30, 2012, 12:24am

oooo thanks for reminding me how much I love Heaney

276RidgewayGirl
nov 30, 2012, 8:06pm

I've been in the mood for pure entertainment, so I picked up Sophie Kinsella's newest. Kinsella is most famous for her Shopaholic series, but I prefer her stand-alone chick lit novels. They're not deep, but Kinsella knows how to entertain while following all of the rules of the genre. I've Got Your Number tells the story of Poppy, about to get married, when she loses her engagement ring. In a complicated and thoroughly contrived way, she ends up in possession of a phone belonging to Sam's PA. Sam's an important executive and so she has to forward all of his messages to him. Of course she reads them and of course they begin a flirtation and, equally of course, she meddles a bit and ends up causing no end of problems for the exasperated, yet intrigued, executive.

So, pure silliness and the plot is utterly contrived and unlikely. Mainly, though, it was just a lot of fun. The characters were likable and I could see why they liked each other. And who doesn't sometimes just want a fun read with a happy ending?

277christina_reads
dec 1, 2012, 8:16am

@ 276 --I totally agree! I don't usually mind an implausible premise if the book is entertaining enough, and I've Got Your Number definitely is!

278RidgewayGirl
dec 13, 2012, 8:29pm

Umberto Eco is an erudite guy who intimidates me, but Baudolino is such a fun ride, that I forgot to feel stupid. Baudolino is a young peasant who helps a lost soldier one day, is sold to him by his father and subsequently finds that the soldier is none other than Barbarossa, deep into his conquest of Italy. Barbarossa adopts Baudolino, sends him to the university in Paris (where Eco shows that college students were not that different 800 years ago), where Baudolino develops an interest in finding the mythical kingdom of Prester John, a Christian kingdom in the far, far east. Baudolino is clever and quick-witted, but he (and the other characters) are products of their time, able to believe in the most amazing mythical beasts and in the holiness of relics, even the ones he and his friends make to earn a little extra money to finance their adventures.

Baudolino begins the story by letting us know he's a storyteller first, and one not overly concerned with the truth. And in an amazing twist, he sets the story on its head, leaving me wondering if the events described were supposed to be actual events in the world of this book, or products of Baudolino's fertile imagination.

279cammykitty
dec 14, 2012, 1:57am

but Baudolino is such a fun ride, that I forgot to feel stupid. LOL. I've read enough Eco to know exactly what you mean.

280dudes22
dec 14, 2012, 6:27pm

I put Eco's The Prague Cemetery on my nook a while ago and hope to get to it maybe next year.

281RidgewayGirl
dec 14, 2012, 8:42pm

Let me know when, Betty, and maybe we can read it together. It helps to have reinforcements when reading Eco!

282lkernagh
dec 15, 2012, 10:14am

Alison, your review of Baudolino may be enough encouragement to convince me to try reading Eco again - I gave up on The Name of the Rose and watched the movie instead!. I have The Island of the Day Before on my TBR Bookcase.... a book sale purchase, because I liked the cover art.

283dudes22
dec 15, 2012, 6:13pm

Kay - I was checking out some of the awards categories and my TBR pile last night and I think Eco's book fits into one or two of them if I remember correctly. Maybe we could fit it in then.

284dudes22
dec 16, 2012, 6:50am

Also saw in the "what are we reading" thread that you've started The Night Circus. I think that might be my Orange prize award book for the Jan awards Cat. Looking forward to what you think of it.

285RidgewayGirl
dec 16, 2012, 9:42am

Betty -- you'll like The Night Circus, I think. I'm only a third of the way through, but would like to put everything down and just spend the day reading it. Of course, I could skip out on going to The Hobbit, but I'm not going to do that!

286dudes22
dec 16, 2012, 6:57pm

Now I don't want to wait.

287Yells
dec 16, 2012, 8:36pm

I f'loved Night Circus! Magical realism with a good storyline.

288RidgewayGirl
dec 18, 2012, 9:21am

May I recommend the movie version of The Hobbit? It is especially good if you bring a nine-year-old boy who is a huge fan of the book. Try to borrow one if you don't have any of your own.

289VictoriaPL
dec 18, 2012, 4:06pm

... and make sure your bladder is completely empty before the film starts!

290RidgewayGirl
dec 19, 2012, 8:09am

Can you see the end of the year from here? I find myself thinking that I have to finish all the books I started this year before the new year, but if I don't finish one of them until the first or second, I can just add them to my new, shiny thread.

The Queen of the South is by Spanish author Arturo Perez-Reverte and tells the story of Teresa Mendoza. Teresa is the girlfriend of a drug-runner; her boyfriend flies a Cessna for a Sinaloan-based drug cartel. Then he is executed for stepping out of line and when Teresa gets the call and knows she has to run for her life.

The book was different from what I had expected. I found myself rooting for people engaged in very shady activities. The author didn't gloss over what was being done, but he did make his characters, especially Teresa, three-dimensional and likable. I'll certainly read more by this author.

291sjmccreary
dec 19, 2012, 8:44am

#290 I've only read Perez-Reverte's Captain Alatriste, and its sequel, but liked them so well that I've acquired several of his other books - including Queen of the South. I knew they weren't going to be the same as CA, but I don't think I realized that they weren't all historical. I was looking forward to them before - even more so now.

292lkernagh
dec 19, 2012, 10:45am

I am another one that has only read Perez-Reverte's Captain Alatriste series - ok, I have only read the first three books in that series so far - but I do have The Queen of the South on my TBR bookcase. Sounds like I should be thinking about picking that one up to read.

293LittleTaiko
dec 19, 2012, 12:00pm

Good to see your thoughts on The Queen of the South. I recently read The Fencing Master and enjoyed it and was curious what his other books were like. Might have to add his other books to my wish list now.

294AHS-Wolfy
dec 19, 2012, 5:20pm

The Queen of the South is already on my tbr shelves so it's good to see a positive review for it here. Maybe I'll even get to read it myself one of these days.

295cammykitty
dec 22, 2012, 3:12am

I'm pouting! I wish Perez-Reverte was Mexican instead of Spanish so he'd fit in one of my 2013 categories easily! Not that there is any lack of Mexican writers!!! I'll keep my eye out for The Queen of the South. I didn't see it all the way, but I saw a bit of one of the Alatriste movies - I was terribly confused, especially since I kept thinking they were going for the Strider (lord of the rings) look, until I twigged and realized that Viggo Mortensen was on the screen speaking in Spanish.

296sjmccreary
dec 22, 2012, 10:39am

There's a movie?

297mamzel
dec 23, 2012, 2:12pm

Giggle - watching The Fellowship of the Ring as I read this!

298DeltaQueen50
dec 23, 2012, 11:20pm

Stopping by to wish you all the best for the holiday season, Kay. I've enjoyed following your reading again this year, and of course, have added many of your reads to my wishlist. Looking forward to doing the same next year!

299lkernagh
dec 24, 2012, 1:29am

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

300RidgewayGirl
dec 24, 2012, 3:06pm

Happy holidays, all. It's been a great year here with you and I'm looking forward to more books and conversation.

301mstrust
dec 25, 2012, 10:35am

Happy Holidays, Alison!

302RidgewayGirl
Redigerat: dec 25, 2012, 5:26pm

Things are quiet late Christmas afternoon and I'd like to get a review or two done.

In The Miniature Wife and Other Stories by Manuel Gonzales hijacked planes circle in perpetuity, a man frozen in a contorted position manages to speak through his ears, zombies roam shopping malls and something mysterious is killing the animals kept in an abandoned house. There's a surfeit of imagination here; each short story starts with a premise that would fuel a sizable novel. In the title story, for example, a scientist accidentally shrinks his wife, with whom he had not been getting along. Naturally, shrinking her does not improve their relationship and an odd, unequal battle ensues. Each story is so different from the previous, that reading several at one go never becomes repetitive. My only caveat is that some stories are all about the fantastic hook, leaving a somewhat heartless center to the imaginative shell, but not all of them; one even made me tear up. Gonzales may someday be a literary heavyweight.

303RidgewayGirl
dec 29, 2012, 3:56pm

I usually enjoy anything that Ian Rankin writes. His long-running series featuring Inspector Rebus has been consistently good and his new series, featuring an utterly un-Rebus-like detective, is even better. So I expected quite a bit from Doors Open, a stand-alone novel. Doors Open tells the story of Mike, self-made millionaire who, having sold his company, is bored. He's started collecting art, which is fun and has made him two friends, a soon-to-retire art professor and a banker who buys art for the bank he works for. They talk about the usual things people interested in art discuss and agree that art purchased for investment and stored in vaults is an abomination. From there, there is a leap to deciding that they would be more appreciative owners and, after not being able to come up with a way to rob a bank, they come up with a cunning plan to rob a museum.

This is where Rankin lost me for a while. Liberating artwork from the unappreciative mega-wealthy is one thing; stealing from the public in order to own a piece of art that can then never be shared is quite another. It turned the book from a fun crime romp into something less fun, for me, anyway. Rankin turns it around, but it took me awhile to see what he was doing. In any case, the final third of the book is brilliant in it's unraveling.

304RidgewayGirl
dec 29, 2012, 4:05pm

The Finkler Question earned Howard Jacobson the Man Booker Prize and a slew of unappreciative reviews from people on LT whose opinion I value. So I had to see for myself and while I don't think it was terrible, it did fail the Bechdel Test in spectacular fashion. In fact, the only time two female characters interacted, it was to discuss how horrid the protagonist was. In a book as concerned with women as this book is, it might have been interesting to have one three dimensional female character. Still, the book had interesting things to say about the nature of being Jewish in Britain today, even if the delivery was ham-handed and the humor heavy and obvious.

305sjmccreary
dec 29, 2012, 7:11pm

You have nicer things to say than I did about those last two book. I thought Doors Open wasn't nearly as satisfying as it ought to have been. But I have never read much by Rankin before, so I didn't come into it expecting to love it. Maybe I would have been more forgiving. I couldn't even finish The Finkler Question.

306-Eva-
dec 30, 2012, 2:08pm

I've heard similar things said about Rankin's non-Rebus writing, so I'll consider myself warned. Good to know it picks up at the end, though!

307AHS-Wolfy
dec 30, 2012, 5:45pm

There's just been a two-part adaptation of Doors Open shown on British TV.

308GingerbreadMan
dec 30, 2012, 8:22pm

The miniature wife and other stories sounds bonkers and really good. Making note of it! Thanks for a solid thread this past year, Alison. Haven't commented as much as I'd liked to, hope to follow you more closely in 2013. Soon!

309RidgewayGirl
dec 30, 2012, 9:07pm

Sandy, I'm not sure why I finished The Finkler Question. I guess I wanted to see if it took some spectacular turn and became less misogynistic? It didn't. And the supposed humor was trying so hard and obviously to be funny and edgy that it missed its mark with me. That said, there are people here on LT who "got it" and enjoyed the book.

Eva, Rankin's new series is really good. Try that instead.

Wolfy, I thought at the end of the book that it read very much like something intended to be a film. I might like the TV version. Then it's just a fun caper-gone-wrong story.

Anders, you will like The Miniature Wife and Other Stories.

310cammykitty
dec 30, 2012, 10:00pm

Okay, I'll pass on The Finkler Question. I was curious about it to since it won a prize but seems to be much loathed. Interested in your review of The Miniature Wife. I received that one as an ER too - and had mixed opinions. I sort of wish they hadn't compared him to Borges in the blurbs because it did seem like Borges was a huge influence, but what new writer can go head to head with Borges? I'll be interested to see what Gonzales does next.

311RidgewayGirl
Redigerat: dec 31, 2012, 8:07pm

My last book of the year was A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve, which was fine except there was a side story - a short story written by one of the characters - that was much more interesting than the main story.

I read only 97 books this year, but enjoyed the ones I read.

Best books of the year:
The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake
The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney
The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood
Middlemarch by George Eliot
Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

See you over at the 2013 Category Challenge!

312thornton37814
dec 31, 2012, 9:50pm

I have a couple of Shreve's books TBR. That's not one of them. I've read several books this past year where a side story was more interesting than the book itself.